Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Neon Trend

The whole neon trend has been around for a while, and here I am, bein' all trendy.

Notice that there are two main images, each representing a "friend", and I created a visual triangle with the bling, even though there are four of them. Also note that the green asterisk is on top but the green bling is on the bottom near the sentiment. That ol' switcheroo was on purpose, and I rather like it.

This card makes me think of the 70's and elementary school and my embroidered bell-bottom jeans.

Darn it. Now I feel old.

So much for trendy. Unless old is the new young. That's a nice little delusion to live with, don't you think?

Yes, I'm tired and going to bed. Good night.

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Hero Arts neon cubes
paper: Papertrey Ink
accessories: rhinestones, Sharpies to color the rhinestones, corner rounder

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

This, This, This, This, That, and the Other (Oxford Comma Included)

1. For any of you having problems loading photos in Blogger, try switching from Compose mode to HTML mode for editing. The photos should upload fine in HTML. My issues are now resolved, though, and I can upload in Compose mode, so this seems like a temporary glitch. Thanks again to Carol for the tip.

2. Reader jkbrochad asked an interesting question on my last post here. Here's what she said:

"I am thinking of selling some of my cards. Like you, I LOVE clean. I LOVE simple. My friend is selling hers for $3 a card and can't keep up with demand. She does lots of layers. Lots of embellishments. AND bling! I am wondering if I should my cards for less than that because they are less work. What do you think? (We are selling our cards side by side in the same venue)"
Several other readers encouraged her not to undervalue her cards, and I agree. Upscale card stores (Papyrus, Crane) sell super-CAS cards at a premium, so why shouldn't we? Good design is good design. I've always believed that using high-quality materials and doing CAS perfectly results in a product that is every bit as valuable as a highly-embellished card. Not all buyers will see it that way, but a lot of them will, and if anyone gives you attitude, give them my email address. I'll educate them.
3. For the record, I am extremely committed to the clean-and-simple style of card-making and cannot envision a day when that will change. I preferred that style for years before I even thought about making my own cards. White space has always made my heart happy.
I stopped apologizing a long time ago for not making cards that take days to create...for not waiting for modeling paste to dry or twirling paper for quilling techniques or hammering flowers to print on paper. All those techniques can yield beautiful results, and I profoundly admire the crafters and artists who do them well.

But they don't make me happy. Believe me. I tried.
Taste is taste. It's subjective, highly variable, and incredibly diverse. Never, ever apologize for loving what you love. If you are like Tanis and dozens of other readers of this very simple blog and want to layer and embellish up a storm, go for it with gusto! If you want to make simple cards as well and perfectly as you can, just do it. If you want to make all sorts of different styles, do it all.
And if you ever feel like sending me a card, send me something you loved making, something that  made you giggle like a school-girl with glee, whatever your style. I will love it and appreciate it, too. Because this hobby is just about the best thing since cave painting, and I think we all ought to support and encourage and celebrate each other no matter our differences of taste or skill level.

And that's all I have to say about that.

4. I'll be posting a couple of boxes of stamps for sale on Wednesday.

5. The OLW challenge this week is on Ardyth's blog. It's awesome!!!
6. Here's your periodic reminder about the Use-Your-Stamps Challenge! Today's cards all use stamps from an old Hero Arts set in the simplest of ways.
Water drops on leaf

 Orange You Happy?

Bling for Bling's Sake
I varied the last one just because I could. No real reason to do so. I love these leaf/tree images and the wood-block print feel of them. Blinged up, they make me smile.

I hope you're smiling, too!

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: bling, corner rounder

Monday, July 29, 2013

Clean and Simple Epitomized

This card represents everything I love about clean-and-simple style.

Here's what I love about it:

1. Fresh, bright colors of lime and aqua...pure yummy
2. A single tiny bling
3. Punctuation used as decoration...asterisk flowers ROCK!
4. Clean and very readable combo of classic serif and sans serif fonts
5. All that glorious white space
6. The fact that it takes so many words to describe what I love when the art itself is so very, very un-wordy

Never, ever underestimate the power of this very basic, very clean, very easy layout. And never, ever assume that because it's easy, it's not worth your effort.

Clean done right is always worth your effort!

Assuming, of course, you like it. If you prefer complexity, layer and embellish to your heart's content. The world is big enough to handle all our styles.

But this is mine.

Clean and simple.

Be still, my heart!

stamps: Hero Arts asterisk (discontinued), Papertrey Faux Ribbon (sentiment)
ink: VersaMagic
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestone

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Inspired by my Mother-in-Law

Many thanks to Carol Cel who pointed me in the right direction to work around the problem of uploading photos and allowing me to finish this post! Thanks so much, Carol!

When we met my husband's family in Minnesota last week, my mother-in-law gave me this make-up bag she made:

Isn't it too pretty to use?!?! I just love the colors and blend of prints and the color blocking and really everything about it. Quilting is an art form I simply have no ability or desire to do (sewing machines make me break out in hives), but I just love the results of other people's work!

And yes, I did use it but kept it nice and safe.

Anyway, when I got home, I decided to try to make a card inspired by my MIL's beautiful work.

These are the supplies I gathered:

And here's the final card:

You'll note that in the finished card, some of the items gathered for the project don't show up, such as the salmon card and the musical background. I added PTI's Harvest Berries, too. It's hard to see the tone-on-tone of the poppy-red block, but I used the small-scale branch from Harvest Berries on it.

The Process: Basically, I played around stamping strips of various backgrounds on various card stock, cut them out, and played with arranging them in a row. This involved lots of tweaking of size of the blocks to fit the scale of the card (standard 4.25"x5.5"). The card took a LOT longer to make than I usually take...about an hour and a half. But I was in the zone and barely noticed the passage of time.

Confession: After making this card, which is a clearly bit different from my usual style, I made about a dozen different cards that are all one layer, on white card, and just about as simple and quick as simple and quick can be. While it is fun and creatively invigorating to play around with other styles and techniques, it's also extremely comforting to return to being "youself." So expect a super-CAS series of post in the days to come!

stamps: a lot of different ones!
ink: VersaColor, VersaMagic
paper: PTI various colors
accessories: glue, quilting ruler, craft knife

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Problems with Blogger, Anyone?

I'm having trouble uploading photos from my computer to Blogger, which is frustrating because I'm half-way through a really cool inspiration post...and I can't get the photos uploaded!!! Grr. I've restarted my computer twice, and no joy.

Anyone else having a problem with this?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

OLW150 Life's a Beach

Second post of the day. Please scroll down for the first post.

Karen's got the OLW this week, and it's a fun one. Life's a Beach!!!! Make a one-layer card that is beach-inspired.

Here are a couple of cards that I actually colored with Copics.

It's hard to tell, but there's a blush of pink on both shells.

Now click on over to the OLW150 Challenge and play along!!!!

stamps: Hero Arts (discontinued)
ink: Memento tuxedo black
paper: GinaK Deluxe  white
accessories: Copic markers

Moving on...Sort of

Well, today's post uses a background stamp, but it's punched out, which I've already covered in a Using Background Stamps post, so let's move on to discussing how cool these colors are.

Aquatic splash, turquoise gem, and ocean depth are colors from VersaMagic, a line of chalk inks. Love, love, love them! Especially in the dew drop size pads. The background stamp is from Hero Arts (discontinued, of course). It's small, about 2" x 2.5", so punching these 7/8" circles out of them was easy.

The soothing aquatic colors all lined up in a tidy row of circles fit the sentiment, but the swirls give a sense of movement that is a bit chaotic, acknowledging that "it will be okay" but "right now is sort of crazy."

This card is for any of my readers who feel like things are chaotic right now.

It will be okay.

It just will.

stamps: Hero Arts (background), Clearly Besotted (sentiment)
ink: VersaMagic
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: 7/8" circle punch, dimensionals

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Using Background Stamps: Part 5

Today, we're going to take a look at how background stamps can be placed differently on a card for different effect.

First up, a centered placement gives an even border and very stable, peaceful design. Please ignore the's an embellishment too far.

Next, an off-the-edge placement gives a sense of movement to the design. It's almost like a breeze is fluttering here.

I prefer the second card, but perhaps that's just because of the bow. Those hydrangea punches with light purple bling make me really happy, and it's wonderful how the white punched shapes show up on the darker purple woven background stamp. Love that!

Don't be afraid to experiment with placement of background stamps. They don't have to be front and center. Off-set or asymmetrical designs can be extremely successful.

stamps: Hero Arts (discontinued background), SU Botanical Silhouettes, Papertrey Ink (sentiments)
paper: Papertrey white
ink: Memento
accessories: Martha Stewart hydrangea punches, rhinestones, craft thread, glue pen

Friday, July 19, 2013

Using Background Stamps: Part 4

One of my favorite uses of background stamps of any size is to create scraps for punches. Decorating a scrap of card stock with a pattern--particularly small patterns--makes it ideal for clean-and-simple punching!

Consider this card:

The script stamp is a small background stamp (discontinued) from Hero Arts, and the small size is perfect for punching small butterflies.

It may be hard to tell in the photo, but the sentiment and bling are brown. When gluing down the butterflies, I put dabs of glue only in the center, where the butterflies' bodies are. Then, I used a butter knife to bend the butterflies' wings up. It's simple, adds a touch of interesting dimension that will survive hand delivery, though perhaps not mail delivery.

To make this work, the pattern must be at a scale that works for the punch's size and shape. If the scale of the background is too big, the punched shape will look weird. For instance, yesterday's cloudy sky background wouldn't work at all for these little butterflies.

Also, it helps to punch holding the punch upside down so you can see exactly where in the pattern you're punching. I punched without looking the first time, and one of my little butterflies only had script over a quarter of one wing, which looked decidedly odd.

And that's all I've got for background stamps until I can get back to work in my craft room. While we've thoroughly enjoyed our week at the lake in Minnesota, I'm eager to get back to normal life (*snort* there's nothing normal about my life). Also, I've checked out the new Hero Arts holiday catalog online and ohmygoshi'minserioustrouble!!! Plus the latest Papertrey stuff is calling its siren song, too.

Oh, life is very good, don't you think?

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Martha Stewart butterfly punches, rhinestones, glue pen

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Using Background Stamps: Part 3

Note: I am still away on vacation and will only have one more post before taking a break for a few days to get settled at home again and do some more stamping. Also, don't forget that this week's OLW challenge is on Heather's in my sidebar!

For part three of my background series, we're going to look at using only part of a large background stamp as a main element of a clean-and-simple card. Take a look.

As you can see, the a large-ish portion of an even larger background stamp is cropped and popped up on a white card base, preserving the CAS feel of the card. The sky is not really "background" so much as the central setting of the card, a main player. You can use this layout to create simple scenes, or you can use geometric backgrounds to make abstract cards.

And yes, I'm not happy with how the sky background stamped. I used soft pool ink from Hero Arts, and it turned out blotchy twice. The sky stamp probably needs to be rubbed with an eraser for better inking, but the ink pad may be to blame as well.

Tips for Using Large Wood-Mounted Background Stamps
Getting a good image with huge, wood-mounted background stamps can be a challenge. Here are a few ideas I've tried and like.

1. Ink the stamp by setting it rubber-side-up on your desk. Turn the ink pad upside down and ink the whole stamp that way. Some people swear by using a brayer to ink the stamp, but you'll likely waste a lot of ink that way, plus it adds another step and extra clean-up that I'm just too lazy to do.

2. Place the paper you're stamping on the floor on a smooth surface. Because my floors are carpeted, I use a one-foot-square piece of plywood that's smooth on one side. I carefully place the stamp on the paper, place the ball of my foot on the stamp, and put all my weight onto the stamp for a few seconds. This gives a great image almost every time.

3. Sometimes, I will ink the background stamp and place the paper on top of the inked rubber on my desk. Then, using the long edge of a bone folder, I rub the backside of the paper all over the stamp. This often works great, but not as often as the stand-on-the-stamp method. Also, on a stamp like the one above, with large open areas, it's easy to push through the paper accidentally. Ask me how I know....

I hope these tips help. Sometimes it just takes a little experimenting to decide what works best for you!

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Hero Arts, Memento
paper: Papertrey
accessories: dimensionals, rhinestones

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Using Background Stamps: Part 2

Big background stamps provide a unique challenge to the clean-and-simple stamper. If the whole card has a background pattern stamped on it, where's the white space?




There isn't any.

And we CAS stampers love our white space, right? So what can we do with these monstrous stamps that still looks clean and simple? Lots, actually, and today's card shows one possibility.

Here, I stamped only part of the card with the large wood-grain background stamp from Hero Arts. Because so little of the background would show once I layered the Lovely as a Tree panel over it, I went a bit higher than 1/3 up the that 1/3 of the layer goes above the background and into white space. Also, the tree panel is not centered on the's slightly closer to the left edge to make room for the green bling.

This shows how you can adjust proportions depending on the size of images you're working with and still get a balanced feel to the card. Centering up that tree panel would have been fine, but then there wouldn't have been room for bling. And that would be so, so sad.

The trees and wood grain were stamped in gold ink and embossed in silver pearl embossing powder. The combo gives a lovely, golden pearlescent sheen to the card, plus keeping the color scheme so simple, with the pops of color defining the occasion of the card, minimizes the busyness of the design.

Finally, a word about appropriateness. Backgrounds need to make sense in relation to the main image of a card. Putting a bold, geometric pattern behind StampinUp's classic Lovely as a Tree image would have looked wrong, as would a big floral pattern. Big flowers behind a winter scene--unless perhaps the flowers are poinsettias--just doesn't work.

Wood grain behind trees is appropriate. But that doesn't mean the wood-grain stamp has to be limited to woodsy themes. Stamp it in blue, and you get some mighty pretty water, perfect for all sorts of aquatic themes as well!

stamps: SU Lovely as a Tree, Hero Arts wood grain background, Papertrey Ink Silent Night sentiment
ink: ColorBox gold metallic, VersaColor evergreen
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: silver pearl embossing powder (Ranger), heat gun, dimensionals, rhinestones, sharpie to color rhinestones

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Using Background Stamps: Part 1

Bev F. sent me a very nice email asking for advice on using patterned background stamps. That prompted me to pull out my box of background stamps and get to work, so I'm answering Bev and making headway on my Use-Your-Stamps Challenge.

Here are the stamps in my Background box. Most are from Hero Arts, with one each from A Muse, StampinUp, and unknown (the medium-size script one at top right).

I also have a lot of background sets from Papertrey Ink, but those are border stamps that build backgrounds rather than complete background stamps. Bev specifically asked about background pattern stamps, so here goes.

One particular type of background stamp is the medium-size one that doesn't cover a whole card front but is still big enough to have a real presence on a card. These medium stamps are perfect for providing ground for whatever focal point images you want. Like this:

The background covers roughly two-thirds of the card, with an even white border around three sides. You can see the rule of thirds operating nicely here in the pleasing asymmetry of the design.

With such bold background color, it's important to pop up whatever focal point image you want, and leaving a bit of white border around the heart helps avoid the awkwardness of blue-directly-on-red, which often looks weird. Two really strong colors like that make an awkward design when they touch too much.

Don't know why, but I read it on the interwebs, so it must be true.

Anyway, imagine this stamp done in green, the card oriented portrait-style, and a tall spray of flowers stamped so they stick up into the white area. Presto! Green grass ground!

stamps: Hero Arts (discontinued screen background, Year Round Sentiments)
ink: Memento Danube blue, tuxedo black, SU real red
paper: Papertrey
accessories: Cutterbee scissors, dimensionals

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Owls After the Fact

I like owls and didn't even get irritated with the great horned owls who woke me up recently, but I've struggled with using owl images on cards. I decided to try again with Clearly Besotted's You're a Hoot set.

I combined the adorable owl with a flourish from Clearly Besotted's With a Flourish set. Fun!

You'll note that the owl is roosting on the flourish, which anchors the owl in the design, and the flourish directs your attention to the sentiment.

I'm on a lake in northern Minnesota right now, enjoying the smell of rain and the hope of seeing some eagles. I've kayaked around an island, shadowing my insane husband who swam in a wetsuit in water that was ice less than two months ago. He's training for Ironman Wisconsin in September because, in case I haven't mentioned, he's crazy. But we're enjoying time with his family here on Lake Vermilion and getting ready to celebrate the life of his grandmother, who passed away last winter at the age of 101, in a memorial service later this week.

May you all be enjoying a week in July that is full of love and fun...and if you're lucky, a little stamping, too!

stamps: Clearly Besotted You're a Hoot, With a Flourish
ink: VersaColor green tea, umber, burgundy
paper: Papertrey
accessories: none

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cheryl's OLW and an Ardyth-Inspired Card

This week's OLW is on Cheryl's blog, and it's a good one playing off of mine last week. Now, you need to make a one-layer Christmas thank-you card!

I probably won't be able to play along, sadly, because we're about to have a really, really busy week of family and fun. Posting will be spotty for a couple of weeks as a result, but here's an Ardyth-inspired card to hold you for a few days, at least!

Happy, bright colors and an adorable polka-dot flower from Clearly Besotted's You're a Hoot fun!!!!

stamps: Clearly Besotted (You're a Hoot), Hero Arts (Year Round Sentiments)
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: gridded acrylic block to line everything up nicely!!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Matter of Style

As I worked through my non-SU flower box of stamps for the Use-Your-Stamps Challenge, I found myself making two cards for contrast: one with a loose, sketchy single flower (don't judge her!) and one with a stylized group of flowers. Check out the contrast in the cards.

In the first card, I used the single flower and stem (Hampton Arts), colored with markers, for the field of flowers on the bottom and then just inked the flower blossom to make the sun on top. The loose arrangement of flowers meant the natural place for the sentiment was in the upper-left-hand sweet spot of the card. Yellow bling in the flower centers and in the center of the sun unified the design, in addition to the repetition of the image.

In the second card, the single stamp of four flowers (Hero Arts) stands rather orderly and tight...nothing loose about it. A larger version of the flower, which is a single stamp, wood-mounted, fills in for the sun, although the largest flower of the group could have worked, too. But remember, I'm trying to use all my stamps, right? The arrangement of the flowers meant I had to move the sentiment into the lower-right-hand sweet spot, but otherwise, the two cards have an awful lot in common.

Which do you like better? For the most part, this is a matter of taste. Some people like looser styles, and some like tighter styles. Really, it doesn't matter. Design-wise, the bottom card edges the top out slightly, though, but only because the larger-scale sun on the lower card works better. If only I had a larger version of the sketchy flower! But alas, we work with what we have.

And they both make me happy.

stamps: Hampton Arts (sketchy flower...very old), Hero Arts (stylized flowers, still available), Papertrey Ink (sentiment, Everyday Blessings)
ink: SU markers (real red, summer sun, old olive), Memento (dark cocoa)
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: yellow rhinestones

Monday, July 8, 2013

When Words Say It All

Today's card takes advantage of all the words in the Clearly Besotted set called You Are.

To make this card, I right justified all the words using a gridded acrylic block for even spacing, and then I inked up only the You of the You Are stamp.

Two things I would change about this card:

1. I wouldn't have rounded the corners. The crispness of the pointed corners looked better with the all-text card. I rounded them because of the roundness of the font of the adjectives (love that font), but really, not a great idea.

2. I would have either added another adjective or shifted the design south so the You was on the 1/3 line.

Why not remake the card then? Well, it's fine the way it is. It could be better, but today is a "good enough for government work" sort of day.

I'm sure you all have days like these.

And if you don't, I don't want to hear about it because oy vey.

stamps: Clearly Besotted
ink: VersaColor
paper: Papertrey Ink
accessories: corner rounder

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Using Lots of Different Colors and Keepin' It CAS

I know I usually stick with one or two colors on a card, and then black or brown for a sentiment. When I feel really crazy, I use three or four colors. But today's card shows you can use FIVE colors plus brown or black and still keep it CAS.

The trick is to clearly define each color and leave a whole lotta white space. The colors are VersaColor paprika, khaki, topaz, scarlet, and bamboo. The brown is pinecone. Notice that the first and last circles in the row are both paprika. That helps frame the design, and the straight line of circles, with polka dots lined up gives order to rather busy color and, well, busy polka dots.

And yes, I trimmed about an eighth inch off the right side to make the edges even. That's not's creative problem solving!

I hope you had a lovely weekend!

stamps: Clearly Besotted You Are, Hero Arts Year Round Sentiments
ink: VersaColor
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: corner rounder

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Blessed by You--Edited

Long-time readers of Simplicity will not be at all surprised seeing today's card in July. After all, how many years have I been promoting the Gratitude Campaign? There's even a special tab on my blog for it with the Inlinkz code for last year's challenge.

Thanksgiving is a swell holiday that gets lost between the commercialism of Halloween and Christmas. Thanksgiving Day has become more about gorging on poultry and sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie, and watching parades and football, and gearing up for an early start to Black Friday sales than about being, well, thankful for the gift of life, of breathing in and out, of family, of country, of freedom, of faith, of love.

I want to change that.

And what better way to change it than to make a bunch of cards to tell people I love how grateful I am for them? I send cards to people I haven't seen in years, to people I only know through the miracle of the interwebs, to people I see every day or every week. It's rather a random assortment based on how many cards I make.

The point is to let people know how grateful you are for them. Life is precious. It is short. We should say what we feel about people (well, at least the nice things we feel) before something happens and we don't ever get the chance to say it. We should be grateful for those who have touched our lives in various ways, those who have made us better people, those who have showed us the meaning of love.

Heck, even those who make our mochas at Starbucks. They make us so happy!

Thanksgiving Day in Canada will be Monday, October 14, this year, and in the United States it will be late this year, on Thursday, November 28. That means Americans have some extra time, but Canadians need to get on the ball!

If you don't live in a country that celebrates Thanksgiving, don't feel left it anyway! Pick a date, and send those gratitude cards anyway. Gratitude doesn't require official sanction, and our official Challenge is open to all nationalities, all religions, all people of gratitude everywhere!!!

I'll start the 2013 Inlinkz button on the sidebar on August 1, but I'm putting a bug in your ear today so you can order some new fall sets and make sure all your fall-color ink pads are fully inked and ready to go.

Here's today's card, my first of the 2013 Gratitude Campaign.


If you care to break down the design, you'll see a number of triangles in this card...yellow leaves, green leaves, orange leaves, outline leaves, pairs of bling. It looks totally random, but it isn't. All the leaves are in the bottom third of the card, and the sentiment is in the sweet spot. Finally, revel in the glorious white space!

Will you join me in rescuing Thanksgiving from gluttony and television and shopping? Will you make cards for this year's Gratitude Campaign?

I hope you will! Even if it's just one or two cards. It will warm your heart and bless people who are a blessing to you. Everyone wins!

stamps: Clearly Besotted You Are, Waltzingmouse Blessed by You
ink: Memento yellow, tangelo, Morocco, pistachio, dark brown
paper: Papertrey
accessories: olive, orange, yellow bling; corner rounder

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day and a Design Lesson

My Independence Day cards have already been posted so here's a sunny, cheerful card for a sadly rainy July 4th...and a design lesson to go along with it.

Someone asked a while back for a reason why the rule of threes and other odd numbers doesn't always apply. That rule says that odd numbers are generally more visually pleasing than even numbers. It's important to remember that these "rules" are more like "guidelines" than actual "rules."

Don't you hate unnecessary quotation marks?

Anyway, there are lots of reasons why two or four might work better than three, and they all have to do with all the other design concepts and principles, such as unity, balance, symmetry, harmony, line, color, shape, etc.

In the card above, the rule of thirds applies to the layout. Imagine a tight frame around the stamped area. Two-thirds of the inside of the frame is taken up with the sentiment, and one third is occupied by the flower. That third-ness is visually pleasing and creates a nice asymmetry to an otherwise completely centered design.

But color takes over from there. The two yellow elements are the stars of this show. Just two. Not three. Two. Note that there is more yellow area on the 2/3 side of the design than the 1/3 side, so the amount of color is proportionally balanced.

The color also plays on shape differences...lines and angles love curves. The sentiment is a definite, strong rectangle, but the flower center is a strong circle. That difference makes you look at both of them and put them in relationship with each other...thus unifying the design.

(Keep in mind that visual triangles are a very easy way to unify a design, but they are not the only way to unify it!)

Also, to contrast the bold and heavy use of yellow, there are very thin lines of black on each reverse proportion to the size of each area...lots more black on the 1/3 side than the 2/3 side. The asymmetry creates a kind of visual tension that makes the design interesting and gives a sense of movement and energy to the whole thing, even though it's very solid.

And no, I definitely didn't think all this through as I was making the card. I was working with some very well-designed stamps from Clearly Besotted and playing with layout and color, not consciously thinking about the rest. I just fiddled until it looked right, laying un-inked stamps on the card, moving them around. Only when I finished it did I realize it was a pretty good card!

Design is a lot like grammar. There are lots of rules that all work together to create a clear message, a concise thesis or focal point, if you will.  After lots of practice with the rules, you understand in your bones why each rule is a good rule, what it communicates, why it's important, and when you can break it for good effect.

It's how the little things relate to the whole message that makes all the difference. And if I can figure all this out, without formal training, you can, too.

All it takes is lots of practice, a little bit of obsession, and a willingness to make mistakes time and time again while experimenting to make it work. A simple, well-designed card like the one above doesn't just happen by accident, and it doesn't happen every time.

When I photographed my latest batch of creations, seven were photographed and two were not worthy. Of the seven, one ended up looking meh on the computer screen, so I won't post it either. The unworthy cards will have the fronts cut off and tossed, and the backs put in my scrap paper drawer.

And thus endeth the lesson.

stamps: Clearly Besotted You Are
ink: Memento tuxedo black, SU summer sun
paper: Papertrey Ink
accessories: yellow Stickles

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

One-Layer Wednesday 147: Christmas Sparklers

It's the week of Independence Day, when children will run around with sparklers. And Christmas is just around the corner.

Not really. But for those of us who make lots of Christmas cards or make extra cards to send to Operation Write Home and other organizations, we need to get to work. So I'm jump-starting the holiday card-making season by combining the sparkle and shine of fireworks and Christmas/winter holidays for our One-Layer Wednesday Challenge.

The challenge is to use glitter or something shimmery on a one-layer Christmas/holiday card. I used Brilliance metallic gold ink on mine for some really wonderful sparkle...and it can still go to Operation Write Home.

To add a bit more shine, I embellished with three small gold half-beads.

OLW147 Rules

1. A one-layer card is defined as a single layer of card stock folded in half. No other layers of paper allowed.

2. Make a sparkly card using glitter, glitter embossing powder, or some other shimmery substance (Brilliance, Smooch, Glimmer Mist, Twinkling H2Os, etc.). You can even use a card base of shimmer cardstock! The key is to get sparkly. Remember to keep the embellishments to a minimum.

3. Post your card somewhere online and link back to it here using the InLinkz button on the sidebar. If linking to a blog post, please be sure to link to the specific post and not your blog's home page.

4. The most important rule of all...HAVE FUN!

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Brilliance gold and red
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: gold half-beads

Monday, July 1, 2013

When a Card Needs to Be Cropped

Today, I was playing around with my new set from Clearly Besotted called You Are and made this card.

I like it. But can you spot the problem? The more I looked, the more the placement bothered me. The cluster of image and sentiment is too close to the middle of the card vertically (of course they are far right horizontally, but I like that!). The focal point, that bright pink You Are, is too close to center rather than on the line of the bottom third of the card. Here's a case where centering doesn't work, and the rule of thirds does.

It just looks wrong.

So I cropped some off the bottom, and it sure looks better now.

The You Are hits the one-third line, that sweet spot.

Always remember that if you place something a little wrong, it's usually fixable. If it's a one-layer card, you can either crop the card or even cut the front off, crop it, and make a two- or more-layered card.

Speaking of which, I think I need this shirt:


stamps: Clearly Besotted You Are
ink: VersaColor Opera Pink, Memento Gray Flannel
paper: Papertrey Ink
accessories: large crystal, pink sharpie, glue dot