Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Definition of Insanity, and Ink Issues Meet Crowd Sourcing

Y'all may have heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well, by that definition, I'm bat-guano crazy. Why do I keep buying layering stamps? Seriously?!?!? This time, results were slightly more satisfying than in the past, but basically, I'm not teachable.

Here's my first card with Hero Arts Color Layers Seahorse set. There's so much to talk about here regarding product, but before we get off on my little whine-fest, please know that this layout was totally inspired by a card in the brand new Take Ten, page 27, by Shannon Slessman. Thank you, Shannon. Any and all failures of this card are mine alone. (But really, I love the idea and the layout!)

And before I get started, let me say that I know a MISTI would help with the layered stamping. I'm just not prepared to buy one for myself at this time. Perhaps for my birthday, along with a bunch of Ranger Archival ink. But we shall see.

The color layering of the seahorse and the other stamps in this set is somewhat easier than with other sets I've purchased, though as you can see from the close-up, it's not perfect. It is, however, good enough for government work. I practiced a lot before stamping this and found that stamping the middle layer first, then the light layer, and then the detail layer works best for me. The seahorse is also easier because it has an eye...which gives you a clear reference for the two darker layers.

The colors here are, from light to dark, Hero Arts tide pool, ocean, and deep ocean. Great combo!

Now, about deep ocean. This ink is from Hero's new hybrid ink line, and I'm not sold. The color is AWESOME, but the watercolor stripe above and below the focal-point panel was stamped with it, and as you can see, the image quality is appalling. It handled the details of the seahorse just fine, but on a large, solid block stamp, it's blotchy and uneven. And the stamp, from Papertrey's Watercolor Wonders, is a much used, well-seasoned stamp, so I doubt we can blame the stamp.

I have several colors of this hybrid ink (moss, green apple, tangerine, aquatic, and deep ocean), and they all do this. Very frustrating. So I got the idea today that it might be the paper. Papertrey white, which I use about 98% of the time. is porous and absorbent card stock. I tried to stamp deep ocean with the same stamp on Gina K's deluxe white, which is a coated card stock. The results were definitely better.

While not as even as one might hope, it's at least not blotchy and has good coverage of the paper. I imagine this hybrid ink would work great on coated paper with outline images or more finely detailed images. I need to put some time into exploring this. Any of you who've used the Hero Arts hybrids are encouraged to weigh in on this. Any and all help is very appreciated.

This points out one big issue with ink: individual results WILL vary. Ink performance depends on so many things...type of paper, amount of inking and pressure of stamping, humidity.

I'm going to do a post on some other inks that aren't working for me (trying to do a video post...not sure I'm cut out for video). Communication with manufacturers hasn't yielded any good ideas, so I'm going to throw it out there for you all. I KNOW I'm not the only person having problems with some of these inks, and I also know that there are people out there having good luck with them.

Perhaps we can bring these two groups together and troubleshoot the issues via this here blog o' mine.

This post has been a tad whiny, and I don't like that. There are much better things to whine about in the world...human trafficking, children going to bed hungry, war, genocide, racism...etc. Layered stamping, ink, and image quality rank pretty low on the list.

Speaking of which, my husband just told me that you can buy flamethrowers and napalm online. I'm filing this tidbit of knowledge under "Signs of the Coming Apocalypse."

So let's end on a happy note. Here's my haul of stamps from orders placed earlier this week. Because I love the smell of new photopolymer in the morning.

stamps: Hero Arts Color Layer Seahorse, Papertrey Watercolor Wonder
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Another Wreath Card for Halloween

FYI, I only make five Halloween cards per year. They go to my two boys, two nephews, and one niece. Only three this year are worthy of the blog (the other two are fine but not particularly creative), and tonight's card is the third I'm willing to share. Aren't you relieved.

Here's the card that's going to one of my sons this year.

Card Size: 6.25" x 3.5"

The tall, narrow profile of this card is perfect for offsetting the wreath. The sentiment and wreath placement creates both balance and movement for the eye, even without a visual triangle.

The wreath, from Papertrey's A Wreath for All Seasons, is stamped in Hero Arts Intense Black and Memento Tangelo. Then, I covered random spots with a dark orange Smooch, which adds some shimmer and depth to the berries on the wreath.

I love using non-Halloween stamps to make Halloween cards!

stamps: Papertrey A Wreath for All Seasons, Clearly Besotted Happy Days
ink: Hero Arts, Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Smooch

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Halloween-y Wreath

My niece is 16 years old, and that's such a hard age. You're not really grown up, but you're certainly not a kid. You're probably too cool to go begging on Halloween...and also too cool to hand out candy. You want to be treated like an adult, but inside, you know you're not.

Even if it were possible, there's not enough money in the world to entice me to be 16 again.

Every year, I send my niece and two nephews each a different Halloween card. This year, I wanted Rory's card to be more grown up and sophisticated, rather than something cute with witches and ghosts and goblins, so I pulled out Papertrey's A Wreath for All Seasons set and had fun.

The charcoal gray and dark orange colors speak to sophistication, and the card doesn't look too Halloween-y. Inside it is stamped with a simple Happy Halloween sentiment so the point gets made, and I hope Rory feels more grown up receiving her card this year.

The arrangement of gray and orange rhinestones was carefully planned to try for a good balance, and it seems to have worked. The gray and orange turned out even more sophisticated than I expected, but wouldn't it would be fun to experiment with other colors as well? For a more Halloween-y look, I might try purple, lime green, and orange.

Wow. It says something about me that I'm loving the word Halloween-y. Not sure what it says, but it says something.

What colors do you prefer on Halloween cards?

stamps: Papertrey A Wreath for All Seasons
ink: Hero Arts charcoal
paper: Papertrey white, terra cotta
accessories: rhinestones, Martha Stewart bow punch, glue

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Halloween in August

It's less than six weeks to October, which is the month of Halloween, so it's not too early to get started on Halloween cards. Right?

Perhaps I'm delusional and have jumped the gun on this one, but nevertheless, Halloween cards are what I have to post for the next few days.

I love three of the Halloween cards I've made. LOVE them.

I never say that about Halloween cards. So here's the first, which includes actual sponging and masking. If you get some inspiration to get a head-start on Halloween, so much the better.

This large tree stamp from PSX is generally hard for me to work with, seeing as it leaves little space for white space. This purple panel, however, creates a spooky scene while still allowing plenty of white space, and my nephew will love it!

The card has only two layers. The sponged panel is edged with a black Sharpie marker rather than matted on black card stock. It's cleaner that way. Without the edging, though, it looked rather blah.

Now, see? Halloween in August isn't so bad.

I hope.

stamps: PSX tree, Clearly Besotted Happy Days
ink: Memento Luxe black, Distress ink, Kaleidacolor
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: circle punch, post-it, black Sharpie marker

Monday, August 22, 2016

Giving Thanks for Fall Colors and Stickles

Y'all know how I feel about Stickles. A stamper can never have enough.

While I had Simon Says Stamp's Giving Thanks set out, I decided to play around with Papertrey's terra cotta ink, which is my replacement for Ancient Page henna, which is, alas, no longer available. In the process, guess who learned that Stickles paprika matches the terra cotta really, really well?

*raises hand*

A copper metallic ink border gives some needed outline to the panel (believe me, I tried it without and it looked blah).

What's your favorite color for autumn leaves? Have you found an ink that captures that color? My favorite is a blazing orange that, when back-lit by the sun on a blue-sky day, looks as if the tree is literally on fire.

Of course, it isn't literally on fire. It just looks that way. If it were literally on fire, I'd have to dial 911 and pray the fire doesn't spread. But every time I see that particular shade of orange, I ask myself, "Is that tree on fire?"

And no, I've never found an ink that does that particular color justice.

stamps: Simon Says Stamp Giving Thanks
ink: Papertrey terra cotta, Hero Arts cup o' Joe
paper: papertrey
accessories: Stickles (paprika), craft foam, glue, copper metallic pen

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Kicking It up a Notch

I pulled out Simon Says Stamp's Giving Thanks set and started playing around. Karen's Card Shop, our church's fundraising card shop, needed some thank-you cards.

My first effort was extremely me, meaning super clean and simple.

Of course. A fun, stretched-out sentiment that serves as a perch for a single grateful bird makes for a perfectly minimalist card.

But then, I decided that stretched-out sentiment also might make a lovely ground for the tree in the set, so this autumnal card evolved from the first.

Still clean and simple, but a bit more colorful. There's also nice movement of the eye around the card, thanks to those tiny leaf stamps sprinkled around.

I'm longing for autumn right now. You'll be seeing more fall cards in the next few weeks, including my recent flourish of Halloween cards. Ordinarily, I don't enjoy making Halloween cards, but I got on a roll and the results surprised me.

Apologies in advance for those who don't like seeing new seasonal stuff too soon, but autumn is my favorite season. I'm getting excited! Besides, maybe my early-bird efforts will spark your creative energy. That's my hope.

stamps: Simon Says Stamp Giving Thanks
ink: Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey
accessories: none

Saturday, August 20, 2016

IC559...In Celebration of Coffee and Books

As soon as I saw this week's Inspiration Challenge #559 at Splitcoast, the idea for this card popped into my head.


Lydia (UnderstandBlue) is the host this week, as Audrie takes a break, and she linked to EcoCycled on Etsy for the inspiration. As a fellow English major, Lydia is a fan of words just like I am, and she found the EcoCycled idea of making art on top of book pages inspiring. So did I!

Of course, I needed more white space on the page than the inspiration photos allow, so changing the scale of the "book page" worked for me. My little panel (1 5/8" x 2 7/8") looks more like a collage than most of the inspiration photos, but the overall effect is similar.

To create my faux-page art, I used Papertrey's Text Style, stamped repeatedly and offset with each stamping so the words wouldn't so obviously repeat. The ink is Hero Arts charcoal, which eliminated the harshness of black but still looks bookish. The mug, from Papertrey's Warm Happiness, is stamped in Memento Luxe rich cocoa and the steam curls are in a Colorbox chalk light brown for added warmth.

I actually contemplated stamping some color in the mug (there's a stamp for that), as so many of the inspiration photos have color in them, but decided to let the letters carry all the color. Glad I resisted. It simplifies the whole thing, and there's already a lot going on in such a small space.

The words were stamped with an old StampinUp alphabet set whose name has been lost over the years. The ink is Memento Luxe rhubarb stalk, which gives a nice pop of color amidst all the neutrals. The word panels were cut by hand and popped up on little square dimensionals.

I also wanted the text to relate to the images, even if it was subtle, so when I selected where on my prepared text panel to stamp the coffee mug, I tried to make sure words like "delights" and "joyful" were conveniently centered near the top of the mug. I didn't plan the fact that "happiness" shows between the coffee and book panels...that little bit of serendipity made me giggle with glee.

Ordinarily, I can point to a specific inspiration photo that I worked off of to create my card, but this time, I just took the general idea of the whole site and made it my own. But here's an example of the book theme being used, and here's an example of a line drawing over the text without color.

This was so much fun, and there are countless ways you could play off a text background or use an actual page from a book as your background. Click on over to the challenge and play along, if you feel so inclined!

stamps: Papertrey Warm Happiness, Text Style; StampinUp alphabet
ink: Hero Arts charcoal; Memento Luxe rich cocoa, rhubarb stalk; Colorbox chalk light brown
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensional squares