Monday, June 30, 2008


Tim Holz Tonic Scissors Make the Cut!

Here's my "Craft Critique Wanna-Be" Review on the Tim Holz scissors:
Let me say first I actually really like trimming my new stamps, all that wonderful stored potential in new rubber, it's so exciting, prepping a set! (I know it's a very geeky "stamping thing", and not every stamping enthusiast shares with me I'm sure, but I trust at least some of you know what I'm talking about!). I had always been happy with the way my SU! scissors cut rubber, (definitely an improvement over a 3.99 no name brand craft pair I'd started with when I first began stamping, so I felt okay with the 19.95 SU! price tag then because I knew they would get a lot of use), but this past year they've been giving me some problems. The reasons below and all the raves over the Tim Holz scissors I'd read (plus the low price 11.95!) was all I needed to try out a new product!

In addition to the numerous features* I will cite, I think the pics speak pretty loudly themselves! Here are the scissors placed on top of the SU! Craft and Rubber Scissors. As you can see, the openings on the handle grips are much wider on the Tim Holz pair. Now, here is my hand tucked into the SU! scissors I've been using since 2004. I'm a petite woman, with relatively small hands, you can see how my fingers fill out the handles. What has four years of trimming my stamps with them done to my hands?
I've developed a blister, which then became a callus, on my knuckles where they've rubbed against the handle over time from very frequent rubber trimming (This winter was especially bad, it got very dry, sometimes cracked and peeled. Not to mention unsightly.) :(
Now, here is my hand in the Tim Holz pair. Look how roomy! The wider holes are not any more difficult to hold or cut with, they just allow you to work without the grip hitting your skin. (But if your hands are larger and still DO touch the edge, I can say that they are also smoother and more cushioned than SU!'s). It is a comfortable grip and is not going to make my callus worse. Yipee!
If that's not enough to make you want them, let me go on. My SU! pair has probably dulled over time, either their sharpness (or lack of) or the pain from the rubbing has made recent sheets seem more difficult to trim (but you can pay to have them sharpened or buy a scissor sharpener). The Tim Holz scissors, however, have a micro-serrated edge, which will never need sharpening, and just zips through the rubber even better**! It also has this supercool non-stick coating to keep them from getting gunky, they look like fancy high performance cookware LOL! Also has a protective cap, which is a nice feature. (The packaging also lists they "resist rust and corrosion", SU!'s probably do, too, but I don't know so can't really say much on that) All these things together would make me expect to pay 2 to three times the actual price tag for the Tim Holz pair, I'm still shocked they don't cost more! Isn't it wonderful sometimes you can still manage to get "more than what you pay for"?

In summation, IMHO there's really NO COMPARISON! Get these awesome and affordable scissors. The extra wide handles and trimming ability make these a must have for any rubber stamper, they will allow you to trim your sets much faster and more comfortably, and if you haven't yet damaged your hands, I really urge you to take this preventative step now! :)
Tomorrow, another little product review, and a card to go with! :)

*slightly less important features, but still fun: these have RED! handles AND you can get inspired seeing Tim's little siggy on the blade while you trim ;)

**I wish I could provide pictures that would show the detail of the edge or a way to portray how much more cleanly they go through the rubber, but you'll just have to take my word for it, too small to capture in a pic!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Umbrella Card

Linsey and Barb have been having so much fun making shaped cards lately, I decided to be like them and make one, too. :) An unexpected fold or shape always makes a big impact!
To make the umbrella, I scored and folded my Cameo Coral CS to A2 size, and glued a piece of white CS inside (to have a nice contrast after I did my umbrella cutaway). Next I took a thick, black marker and sketched out an umbrella (look at the stamped image as a guide) with the top left side going along the fold and the handle extending down to the lower left corner. I trimmed out two pieces of Cool Caribbean CS for the contrasting sections, (they're not a perfect match, that's okay!;). I cut through both layers around the top side of the umbrella, then just through the top layer around the underside of the umbrella and the handle. Now the handle and umbrella top will rest on the table when your card is standing up. Isn't that cute? Inside I added the two flamingos I'd colored with Copics (Light Prawn (perfect with Cameo Coral!)and Blush for the flamingos, and Pale Aqua for the water and umbrella) and cut out, then popped up on dimensionals. The umbrella top and puddle are from Just So Hoppy. I thought I should accentuate the unique arc inside by curving my greeting, which I did by cutting my greetings apart, laying the block on top of the card, and placing them in a curve to match.

Hope you're inspired to go make up a shaped card of your own, I'd love to see what you do, so if you come up with something I hope you'll share by linking it here!

Shake, Rattle and Roll! (Surprise inside)

Finally got my two favorite snakes* inky! You can't tell by looking, but if you gave this card a little shake, you would hear a very lifelike rattle! It's a shaker card!
The beads in this hidden shaker are behind my image. Instead of seeing the beads rolling around like a snowglobe in a traditional shaker which always looks oh-so-pretty, I just needed a sound effect for my shakin' snake tail LOL! Assembled like a regular shaker without the acetate, just make a small square outline of dimensionals or foam tape on the back of your focal point, pour in your beads, and then adhere to a another piece of CS. Since you can't see the beads in this one, they need not be your pretty (pricey) micro or colored beads, just whatever makes a noise, dry rice would work well to if the grains are small!

I incorporated two of this weeks SCS challenges (sketch and color) for this card. I'd been meaning to use two of my folders to represent the different snakeskins and I thought this layout would be a fun way to do some color blocking, just run your CS through your CB with the Mesh and Tiny Bubbles folders and then punch with your 1" or 1 1/4" sqaure punch and mount them on dimensionals. I stamped the snakes twice and then cut out a pair and popped them up on dimensionals on top of the first, so you'd see the litle shakey lines around the tail. The image is colored with ink pads and my Aquapainter. (I mixed my Old Olive and Garden Green ink together to match my Wild Wasabi CS since I don't have the matching ink.) Their bodies are covered with my Clear Spica. The little self-adhesive rhinstones included a color that were a terrific match for the Taken with Teal CS, I was so excited to see that! I used Classic and Scalloped Square Nestabiliites to create the mat.
I may print out a little "Shake it, Baby!" or other greeting to add to the front later to give the recipient a "heads up" directive, but that wasn't on the sketch. ;)
Some other fun images I think of using/needing a little shake sound effect added would be with a rain or sprinkler image, maybe with a grill for some "sizzling" burgers etc!
Have a great day, "Go shake it!!" (anybody watching "Shear Genius"?)
* So what do YOU think of these little snakes in a hug-lock? (I drew their necks into a little heart, to make them less creepy if you're not into snakes!) I also added a little "sss" sssstamp sssso you can give any of the front or back of your greetingssss a little hisssss!(kisssss?) You'll also notice when you are putting your stamps on your acrylic block you can change the new greeting "hugs and kisses" to "hugs and hisses" ("for the Mr. and Mrs!" hee! I made a rhyme!) Enjoy using this new little reptile stamp with your green (or other colored) Gina K Zoo brads! too! (oh yeah, I totally planned that, just for you) ;)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Any Way You Slice It... Soap on the Go!

Your local market or beauty boutiques around town may carry handmade soaps, I love the rusticity of these sliced-off slabs of soap! (This is the ginormous selection they have at Central Market) I thought it would be fun to create a soap holder from a tin to store your favorite body bar when you're out or travelling. Usually they have a huge slab or brick with pieces pre-sliced and wrapped in plastic, but sometimes you can cut your own to the size you want.* Some are super fun with the colored shapes inside, really festive! :) Either way, just bring your tin with you to check the fit! (You could use other bar soap, too, it just needs to be slim enough to fit in the tin.)

The waterproof labels are the perfect solution to decorate a bathroom or kitchen tin. (Be careful though, they are WATERproof but NOT OIL proof, so don't be getting them gunky with other oily, sticky bathroom products!) I stamped my border in Silver Encore Ink to match my tin on my waterproof label, I think these delicate "metal" lines adds such a an elegant, custom look! I used the "Botanical Dream" set again to match my bathroom, I love this sketchy sprig image, it can look like dried or fresh herbs, or a delicate bunch of flowers! One of my favorite herbal combos is Rosemary and Mint, relaxing and refreshing, so I stamped it in the corner in Mellow Moss, stamped off, and then stamped it again in black and colored in the leaves with my matching moss marker. I added "Dream" with Palette Noir (remember it doesn't matter what ink you use on these, it'll still be waterproof! amazing!!) Next I wanted to make the background match the tile that surrounds my tub, so I sponged over my image with River Rock, Mellow Moss, and Going Gray filling it out , trying to create both some light and dark areas, as well as letting some white show through, and going back in with my SU! Itty Bitty Background speckle stamp in Black and the Mellow Moss(you could also use an air gun), looks a lot like stone in the end and very simple to do! Last, trim, peel and stick!
Inside I added my soap rosemary mint soap and there was still room for clippers.
When you present your gift, a crimped cardstock wrap in Kraft or Confetti or other recycled handmade paper with some raffia would be a beautiful complement to the handmade soap. Think about other toiletries you could add: a nail file, some dried herbs, a bath sachet, tea bag etc. :)

EDITED TO ADD: you can order your tins here, only $1.50 each at Gina K Designs! :)

hee hee, I just noticed if you enlarge the pic you can see a reflection on the faucet of me sitting in the bathtub with my camera !

*if you enlarge the top photo and can read the price on the closest one of over $50 don't let that scare you!! that's for the WHOLE slab, little slices are very affordable, a couple dollars each! :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bag O' Hugs (and Kisses!)

When you want to give some hugs and kisses, let them know how much you care and bring them by the BAGFUL!!!

Donna gave me a few of these window coffee bags a couple months ago (this is where she bought them, a GREAT price at 18 cents apeice if you don't mind buying 100 of them!), I am just now getting around to playing! I love the little "Hugs" and "Kisses" flags on these candies and thought it would be SO cute to make a mix of both and decorate it with my "Cuddles and Hugs" set. You can buy 2 bags of these candies (one of each) for less than 5 dollars and still have candy left over for another project. (To stretch your candy even further , put some tissue paper or easter grass or cellophane in the bottom of the bag to bulk it up, you just want to your candy to cover your window.)

I stamped the leaves all over the front and back of the bag* in Old Olive, turning the stamp as I went , to match my SU! 5/8 grosgrain. I wrapped this around the little ties that grip the sides to hide them, and rolled the bag down in the back instead of folding. (You don't have to untie the bow to get it open, you can just push it down or slide it off.) I added the little "Love" stamp from "Rectangle Greetings" to my ribbon on dimensionals, I plan on using this set a lot more now that I finally got the Extra Jumbo Scallop punch to fit the rectangles! (The longer greetings and font in this set, too, are adorable with all the hugging animals) The koalas are colored with Koh-i-Noor pencils, cut out and attached to the window on the outside with dimensionals.

I cut apart the smiles from "hugs and smiles" (since I can put it back together so easily on my block) and added "kisses" then punched it with my SU! 1 1/8 circle. I layered this on a black 1 3/4" circle, an olive Scallop punch accented with black dots, and slid in a Nestabilities ribbon tag accented with Zoo brads.

I can't WAIT to give this to my friend! (who just moved! and has three kids! and stamps like a dream! (like a Queen?!) :) Any guesses??

*Instead of a stamped leaf background, you could also stamp the hug and kiss greetings randomly all over ("never be the first to let go of a hug", "hugs and kisses for the Mr. and Mrs." for a couple shower/housewarming etc!

PS Maybe I'll write to Hershey's and see if they can make me a "Cuddle" (chocolate kiss with hazelnut, coffee or lavender filling) What do you think?

My Guest Designer-Week 1: Dancing Cheek to Cheek

I was so thrilled last week when Jessie sent me this peek of one of her first cards with the "Cuddles and Hugs" set using the Just So Hoppy puddle! (I had JUST completed this flamingo card myself with the puddle, but I had omitted the water drops and stamped it around their knees to look like they were standing still!) I thought it was MUCH more fun the way she used the whole puddle image at the bottom, when you stamp it this way the way they're picking up their little feet it looks like they're splashing around(very hoppily!) in a sweet, slow dance, the lady with her eyes closed, a leanin' on her man... :)

I LOVE they she put the Bashful Blue and Pretty in Pink together, using both of these (his and hers!) colors in her CS, DP, gingham AND taffeta ribbon, it's so yummy! (DP is from the SU! hostess prints pack). The spiral clip and big white brads (I just gotta pick me up some of these brads, they add so much dimension and always look so terrific next to a white punched greeting like she did here) are kind of her "signature" embellishments, she uses these a LOT to great effect. Put all these things together and your eyes just dance around the card again and again, taking it all in, way to go, Jessie! Now go check out her blog for another peek from her using this set! Check back next Thursday for another "Cuddles and Hugs" project from Jessie!

Have a great day! Dance when no one's watching! :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Tails of Two Kitties

When cats hug, they use their tails!

I'd been planning on making some kitties in the window, but this juts didn't turn out like I'd imagined! (Please check back for a simpler, most likely (hopefully!) more effective version of this!) I got a little distracted from my plan by playing this sketch challenge in the Gina K forum (not to win, just to play! sorry, I should have uploaded this before it ended to give you a heads up about the contest!) because I thought it would work well with my window(made from classic rectangle Nestabilities and a layer of acetate*) but then I went off on this tangent trying to make a little window treatment with my hatpin! I looped my ribbon around it and adhered it in a few strategic places with glue dots to make a kind of swag scarf, I don't know, I'm kind of on the fence with the result...

The flowers you see outside are from the pitcher bouquet in this month's Free with Three set, "Friendship Blooms", and the butterfly is from "Just So Hoppy". Cats are colored with Koh-i- Noor pencils and the backyard is done with markers and sponged ink for the sky. CS is SU! Chocolate Chip and PT White, ribbons are SU!, DP is Magnolia.

Thanks for stopping by, please come back tomorrow (Thursday) for a project from my Guest Designer Jessie Rone!

Make it a great day! (I stole this from Gina K)

Cuddles and Hugs! (I said that!) :)

*Don't the embossed lines look just like a window molding? (This was MUCH easier than trying to DIY like I did on this card!! ) (wow, I just noticed the date on that, I uploaded this three days before I gave birth to William!)To make the window frame, you need to run your Nestabilitie die through with your C and B plate (remember, "C" for "cutting") then emboss around the the hole with your two B plates (and shims and mat if you need them with your machine, "B" emBoss") then cut around your embossed rectangle window either with your cutter or a nestabilitie the next size up to frame up the hole. Adhere the acetate behind that, then your stamped scene behind that.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"Can-'Do" Rag!

My son Jonathan loves to wear a little "pirate" 'do rag on occasion, especially in the summer. When I saw the new Kindred Greetings for kids set, I had an idea for personalizing his bandanna with all these loving, kid-friendly affirmations! "You can do it!" You're Awesome!" " I love how hard you try!" "You're such a team player!" "I'm so glad you're mine!"* on an on! Aren't these the best sentiments?! (I don't know why nobody ever thought of a set like this before!) The font is really great, too, not just because it's cute and looks handwritten, but because it's so easy for younger children to read on their own, which they love being able to do.
The black details on the bandanna make my stamping fit right in! I let him pick out the color bandanna he wanted (with a little guidance just to make sure it wasn't too dark or busy a pattern to be able to read the stamping). Fold your bandanna in half corner to corner so you have a triangle. (You could stamp the whole bandanna, but I chose to stamp this top triangle half and leave the underside blank, for days when he wants to go "greetingless"* he can flip it over, still folded!) Be sure to insert a piece of paper or CS to keep your ink from going to the other side. I used Palette Noir, which is a hybrid ink you can use on fabric. I put most of them going one way("right side up", so that someone standing in front of him can read it ) but at different angles, filling in the spaces where there was no pattern in the print. Throw it in the dryer for a few minutes to heat set the ink afterwards. (the pic looks a bit blurry, but the ink is not, I just couldn't get my camera to focus properly on all the greetings, sorry!)
If his friends or family then want to add to this and sign his bandanna with a Sharpie, it would blend right in, isn't that fun? These would be such great gifts for end of school or end of the season sports parties, or even party favors! (Wouldn't they also be awesome for children undergoing chemo or who have experienced hair loss?) This took literally 2 minutes to make and it cost less than a dollar! I gave this to Jonathan when he graduated from his swim class this past week, and I think he's very proud of it (strutting around like he was awarded a medal!) ;) ("oh yeah, OH YEAH...!")

* because he's already getting too be a teensy bit too cool for his mom on occasion (now that he's a first grader) I purposely left off the "No matter how big you get you'll always be my baby!" stamp! Although this stamp will get a LOT of use (because I know he would be really pleased to read that in a card privately), he's at a stage he would not want that on his head for all the world to see!

White Wedding

When I saw this dress image in Rupa's set I knew it was time to try this diamond score pattern I'd seen on Debbie's blog using my Scor-Pal! The white on white and silver sparkly accents add to the drama and elegance! Although not "retro", it certainly makes me think of a "chic" Boutique!

To make the skirt two-tiered, perfect for a bridal shower or wedding, mask the dress and then stamp it again as low or high as you like for a custom hem. Stardust Stickles accents the sash, straps and scallops, and shadows were done with a warm gray 20% Prismacolor marker. I cut the whole thing out, mounted it on dimensionals on top of my Scallop Oval Nestabilitie (also on dimensionals), and "hung" one of the mega rhinstone brads (pierce a whole through the nestie die cut, insert your brad, and then just slide the top of the hanger underneath). I used a large oval punch for the "celebrate" tag and "embossed" it by tracing the small oval punch win it with my stylus. I poked another brad though and then wrapped it around the side of the card, securing each end with dimensnionals.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cuddles and Hugs Tip Sheet

Here are some Cuddles and Hugs tips to get you started now that your sets are arriving!

Make a subtle, elegant background on your card base or mat using the leaves and Versamark.

Mask the leaves or tall grass in front of or behind your wild things to put them in the jungle where they belong!

Cut out the grass or leaves and pop them up on dimensionals.

Put the little eucalyptus branch in the koala's mouth or hand.

Try Fun Flocking your animals to make them extra "warm and fuzzy"!

Accent your "Cuddles and Hugs" projects with the matching Gina K Zoo brads.

The snakes look terrific with several of the Cuttlebug embossing folders: try Tiny Bubbles, Mesh for a"scaly" look.

Snakes aren't always brown or green, get creative or look at photos or snakes online for some fun and fabulous color combinations!

Use part of the "Just So Hoppy" puddle around the flamingos knees to make them look like they are standing in the water.

Make a shaker card (without the window, just beads inside) for your snakes to add a little "rattling" sound effect!

Have fun taking all the relations stamps (mother father etc) from Hip Hop Accessories to complement your Cuddle and Hugs greetings and customize the images for you and your recipient. Example: sister and brother tags for the koalas, husband and wife for the lions etc, no rules about what these animals "are" to each other, you decide!

The big and little expand your Hip Hop Accessories greetings even further! Now you can make "new big brother", "sweet little princess" etc!

Use the little "sss" at the beginning or end of ANY of your greetings from ANY of my animal sets that start or end with "s" to give it a "hiss" twist! (ssssweet!)

Accessorize them accordingly(hats etc) from Hip Hop Accessories or offering balloons and flowers from Just So Hippy and Just So Hoppy.

Try these combinations, great for inside or out, or to split them up to continue inside:

"Sending hugs and smiles across the miles"

"hugs and kisses(hisses) for the Mr. and Mrs"

"wild thing I think I love you"

"wild thing you make my heart sing"

Zen Travel Tin

I can't take a bath without having at last one candle to lit to keep me company! Make a little tin for yourself or for a friend so you can take your candle garden any where you go and turn that bath into a relaxing, spa experience, a hotel bedside into cozy place like home, or any little corner into a contemplative space.

I stamped my label border from "What's in Your Tin? 1" onto some DP that came in a Hobby Lobby value pack, aren't those little river stones perfect? Then I stamped "Dream" from Asela's new Botanical Dreams set, this is one of my favorite fonts, it's so elegant but earthy!

I added a tealight and then poured in some green sea glass, I love this in bathrooms! You can find a bag of sea glass very cheap in the candle/floral section of any craft store. Close it up and you're ready to take it on the road! If you give it as a gift, consider tucking inside a small book of matches covered with a coordinating DP or stamped paper.

Stop back later this week for another new addition to my bathroom using this same set and another tin, where I'll share a perfect alternative to that rock paper! ;)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pretty in PINK!

Not that anybody needs an excuse, but let this image* from Cuddles and Hugs enable you to pull out your cardstock, DP, ink, ribbon, and bling in any shade of PINK, coral, rose, blush as often as your heart desires! (You do know pink goes with EVERYTHING, right? it's the new black...) ;)

I am really excited about all the greetings in this set, I tried to covered the whole playful, silly, serious, (song lyric!) spectrum! One greeting I added specifically for this image was "thanks for taking me under your wing". I don't have any sentiments like it in my ginormous stamp collection, but I think it says so much, and is perfect for so many people/occasions in our life. I'm so thankful for everyone who has taken me under their wing at one time or another, to shield me from troubles, as well as to mentor and nurture me.

This "sketch" was inspired by a leftover tuquoise oval I had cut for my shadowbox that was still on my desk, I ran it through my Cuttlebug using my D'vine Swirls Folder to make a little "pool" for them! I used the my corner rounder with the guide off to make the scalloped border in my Cameo Coral CS, to make waves with my turquoise strip underneath. I added just a few of the new Gina K adhesive rhinestones, there are so many fun colors in this pack! I chose the one of the green shades. The image was colored with Koh-i-noor pencils, OMS and blending stumps. The top layer of my flamingos are cut out and mounted on dimensionals over the stamped image. Some tall grass in the background from this same set and my puddle from Just So Hoppy finished up my scene.

If you want ideas for coloring your new birds the internet is a great resource for photos of different varieties of flamingos, they all have different markings/coloration on their beaks and legs, for example if you're wanting to keep it real for your "flamingo purist" friends! ;)

While we're on the subject, have to share a very famous local spot/nursery, popular for it's over-the-top flamingo display on a very high traffic corner...only in Austin!!

*No lashes on these(flamingos have super beedy eyes) but I really like how the one has its eyes closed (just enjoying the moment) and the other is just looking on happily, enjoying the moment, I still see a bit of twinkle in there(if it's possible in just a tiny dot!) don't you?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Purrfect Friends

Every time I look at this image from my new Cuddles and Hugs set, I just want to yawn, streeeeetch, and curl up for a little catnap with somebody(after circling around, and then kneading for several minutes of course!) This stamp was designed to give to anyone you love, or that is in love with somebody!
I was inspired by this "You are My Sunshine" card of Joanne's when I saw the "lion colors" and the sketch, it looked like the sun behind that chair, so I had the idea to create "a place in the sun" for these big cats (if you have cats, you know they will always pick that one little patch of sunlight on the floor!) I changed the sketch a little to make it work with my scored design, what do yo think? To create this look, I turned my mat at an angle on my Scor-Pal (did you know you can buy these now from Gina K? Yup, add it to your order (or buy separately, but how you can you resist all the other goodies?) and shipping is free!) and made a diagonal by placing the top right corner and bottom left corner over a track and scoring. Then, I moved the CS over about a 1/4 inch, turned the CS a few degrees, scored again, repeating this process till I got to the edge, and going back and working out toward the other side until it was full of sunbeams! I almost always have the light source coming from the top right, so if you try this look, make sure your coloring matches your angle. I used the Koh-i-noor pencils and OMS and blending stumps to color the lions, there are some terrific yellows, oranges and browns in this set for these lions and they coordinate beautifully with my So Saffron and More Mustard CS.

More details: My image is popped up on dimensionals. I used my Classic Square and Circle and Scallop Nestabilities for the mats, and SU! Apricot grosgrain and retired organdy. "Hugs and smiles" is stamed in Palette Noir , just one of many greetings from this set that work with this image.

Enjoy your weekend! Hugs!!! :) (I'm headed back to bed for a catnap! that was some party last night!)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sneak Peek #4: "Cuddles and Hugs"

It is with great joy I give you a little peek of my seventh set with Gina K Designs, "Cuddles and Hugs", available for purchase tonight at 10 PM CST!

The window and embossed oval frame for the koalas (which I cut out and popped up with dimensionals) were made using a Nestabilities Classic Oval. The Sahara Sand base (a terrific color with the koalas!) was stamped with the SU! "Sanded" background in Encore Silver ink (looks like a luxurious handmade, shimmery threaded paper) I also made a simple scored border around the edge with my Scor-Pal. The leaves are stamped in Always Artichoke, which I blended the color a little with my Aquapainter, and then shadowed with my warm gray 20% Prismacolor marker. SU! Silver Hodge Podge frames the sentiment "wild thing", accented with the Gina K Zoo Brads (don't these green ones look terrific with the leaves?) I continued the sentiment from the front to the inside:

I can't wait for you to see the rest of my cuddly "pairs", and hope you fall in love with them like I have, it's a very personal set!* I just get a warm, fuzzy feeling every time I look at these two snugglys! Don't they make you want to give someone a HUG? you can tell me "yes" or "no" in the comments! ;)

You can use the images to represent ANYONE who hugs (or needs a hug!), brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, friends etc! I kind of think of this set as more "straightforward" than my previous ones, although you can, of course, stick on a party hat or balloon etc, these animals already "accessorize" each other LOL, so I don't feel like I need to do much more stamping other than the main image and then color it! (if you like your stamping "fast", and not having to make many "choices" about your layout, you'll find his set very easy to work with!) :) And, as I hope you've come to expect with all my sets, you'll have a TON of greetings to mix and match, that will also coordinate with my other animal sets and all the "relations" stamps (mom, dad, etc) from "Hip Hop Accessories" to help you define your couples! The eucalyptus leaves you see here is one of two images I've included to help you easily create the perfect little jungle backdrops for all your "wild things"!

Now, here's how I made them even "fuzzier": Koh-i noor pencils, NO blending or OMS this time (SO many ways to use the wonderful pencils!)

Since koalas have that downy fur with the gray and white peeping through, I decided to stamp them on my Sahara Sand CS first instead of white CS. I chose my gray and white pencils and starting with the white, made a kind of cross hatching "furry" stroke all over the koalas, then did the same with my gray. What is interesting it that the white kind of resisted the gray(just like when you use white with ink), it wasn't covered up by it, very cool! It was just the effect I'd hoped for, turned out looking really furry! So I can tell I'm going to really enjoy using the pencils, on all different CS colors, with or without OMS!

Release party tonight 7 PM CST! (Last chance, you have until 1 PM CST TODAY (Friday, June 20th) to get your name thrown in the hat for a chance to win this set!) Gina is also giving one away on her blog, go leave a comment there! and be sure to check out other designers (Emily, Barb, and Faith, hope I didn't miss anybody!) peeks AND leave some love over on Jessie my guest designer's, blog, woo hoo!

*The drawings in this set celebrating friendship and love were inspired by my family and friends, and was originally suggested by my friend Donna Baker several months ago. Donna is a "champion hugger" BTW! Just the right grip and pressure, not too hard, not too soft! She also makes her daily rounds leaving "cyberhugs" on her favorite blogs. She's just a spreader of love, so it came as no surprise to me when she mentioned a terrific idea for a stamp: animals hugging, and the greeting "Never be the first to let go of a hug". Well, I LOVED that idea, so I quickly got to work. The rest of the greetings and all the animals I chose to draw were my own, but I just have to share her response to my first drawing I made for the set, these two koalas (the gentlest, cuddliest of animals, and ones that apparently a LOT of you were wanting based on all the requests I've read lately! :) :
"That's PERFECT!! It's me & my mom. She LOVED Koala bears and of course I do too...I am just like her. (her mother passed away 12 years ago) You had no idea this would be JUST THE RIGHT ANIMAL but I believe God spoke to your spirit via mine. Isn't He awesome like that??" It really gave my goosebumps! (So whenever I use the koalas now, no matter who it's for, I will also think of Donna & her Momma... )

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Meet My June Guest Designer!

I was first introduced to Jessica Rone's work when she submitted cards for my "Just So Hippy" contest in January, which earned her a Hippy mention. The following month, her beautiful card she submitted for my "Just So Hoppy" contest earned a Hoppy mention! She has been a great supporter of my stamps, through her both enthusiasm for them and the way she uses them to create such beautiful art work! I enjoy visiting her blog, her projects just seem to get better and better. Her style is very distinctive I think, tons of layers, outstanding colors (which I find can be challenging when using lots of colors and layers: which one goes on top? underneath? KWIM?) and lots of tiny details and embellishments that are always carefully selected and placed that provide the WOW! without being over-designed (again, difficult to do!)

I had the opportunity to meet her at the swap in Arlington, and was able to hold the samples she'd made for My Favorite Things as their Guest Designer for the month in my own hands, her work is even more stunning in real life! Although I got several other amazing submissions from other designers for this contest that I know would have worked very hard and done an outstanding job, I felt her style in particular would be a fabulous way showcase my newest set. She is VERY excited about these new stamps and has been busy creating samples(but you'll have to wait for a peek, for now you can peruse her awesome gallery), you'll be able to see the first in just a few hours along with Gina's and our other design team members, I can't wait! I will also be featuring her projects weekly on my blog this month, get ready to "ooh" and "ahh"!

Jessie has been stamping for six years and is on the Paper Pretties Team, becoming their Design Team Coordinator last month. She was also been a guest designer of the month for My Favorite Things. Leave her some love here or on her blog! Congrats, Jessie!

SO! July will be a NEW month, and with that I'll have a NEW release and need a NEW guest designer! I will be posting details about how to enter after the release, but I will say now to everyone reading PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE submit for this position! I am VERY excited about July's set, it is an idea I have been sitting on since last NOVEMBER so I am just thrilled it is almost here! It is going to be so fun to work with and different than anything you have I think, at least completely different than anything I have released so far, so again I will be looking for a style and sensibility to match! So this might be your month! (and August has something completely different from me as well!) :)

Sneak Peek #3: Friendship Blooms: Free with Three!

When I first saw this set, I was (still am!) completely mesmerized by this unique mosaic(cut glass?) vase (and that tallest flower!) in the Free with Three set of the month by Gina K(check her blog for links to other fabulous samples from our Design team)! Isn't it stunning?! It lends itself to some fun coloring and fabulous techniques, and I actually had to get out a pen and make a list of what all I wanted to try with it so I wouldn't forget and let a great opportunity to show off this set slip away! Of course, being myself, I had to make my first vase RED! ;)
I colored the images with my Copics and held my breath as I attempted to make my shadow in the shape of my vase and flower arrangement with my Pale Aqua Copic. I find taller, thinner objects easier to recreate a realistic cast shadow, the more irregular and large the object is I have a more difficult time figuring out what that would like, and I chicken out just make a standard oval shadow(which works, too!) I added a tiny knot of yellow ribbon on the vase for some pop, I love these colors together! (I tried to keep my layout simple and free of other embellishment to focus on the image and that busy background!) BTW, that background can be made from the scraps of this FREE set (plus a couple others) LOOK!
I'd seen other people use their rubber scraps before to make their own mosaic background stamp, but had never been inspired quite enough to take the time to do it, until now, I just had to have something to bring more attention to all those tiny pieces in the vase(as well as a quote in the set you will LOVE)! So after my package of my stamps arrived, I put my trimmed rubber in a pile and started puzzling it together (I actually like puzzles very much) The rubber from a few sets will do it, and you'll have 4 sitting there waiting for you to get busy when you earn this set with a purchase of three, how convenient! (and the Gina K m&ms that come in every order should procide the stamina to get you through it heh heh!) Instead of getting a new piece of wood, you can recycle a background stamp block you are no longer using or let one you ARE using work double duty and have this on the back.*

What I was not looking forward to was adhering them all to my block, because you need to lay pieces down first to make sure they are a nice fit, but guess what? The EZ cling foam clings to the wood block! I didn't adhere any of these! Can you believe it? If you flip it upside down they don't fall off, but taking no chances, I laid it face up on my desk, carefully inked it by pressing my pad onto it, and then pressed my CS on top of that. (I will eventually adhere them when I have time because some DO want to pop off when you go to clean it, I wiped mine down very carefully and a few tiny pieces came out, but I just pressed them back in.) A few tips for working this "puzzle":

  • Start at one end and work up (or down) rather than outlining and filling in toward the middle. After getting a few rows done I did pick out my straight edge scrap and and made a line up either side to fill in, but waited til near the end to add the top.
  • Use the straight scraps from the edge of your rubber sheet around or the outside of the background stamp, they are already straight!
  • It's easiest to trim your pieces into triangle and trapezoids at first, keep the sizes pretty uniform(although you will need to add a few smaller pieces when you're almost done) Grab a piece and look for a spot that looks like a good fit!
  • Try to avoid having your pieces create straight lines/rows, you want a crazy mosaic, not a grid)
  • It's okay if they are not perfect shapes, an irregular edge adds to the beauty, makes it look "shattered"
  • Keep them approximately the same distance apart for your "grout". These are about 1/8" apart, to match the size I normally pick for my mats. It's not necessary, though, to have every area filled perfectly.
  • If you need to trim a piece to make it fit with your others, just take off a little at a time and test it so you don't end up too small a piece.
  • One thing I did notice was that a couple pieces of the rubber were just a hair thinner than the majority of my pieces so they were lower on the block and I had trouble getting them inked uniformly and stamping them properly(see the pic above for areas that I missed on the CS) I would advise checking your scraps and if a few look like they don't be level with the rest, try replacing it with a "taller one"inking them (I don't know which set it was after the fact)

I didn't look at the clock before starting to tell you how long this took, but it was worth it in the end(an hour maybe?). Like many things, the first 90% went pretty quickly, the last 10% was the most time consuming, where more trimming was needed to make a fit in my last couple rows. It was so worth it, though, if it starts to feel tedious just remember you'll have a terrific one of a kind stamp in the end! (and I will be back to share about a bajillion plans I have for it!) :)

Okay, so we're almost to the 20th, release day, and we've seen hide nor hair of my new set!! Are you ready for a peek? Check back tonight, it'll be up at midnight! :) See you at the party tomorrow at 7PM CST, where I'll be announcing who was randomly drawn from the upload challenge entires you still have until 1PM CST Friday afternoon to upload a project, details here! Oh! I'll be back later today with my guest designer announcement, look for it! ;)

*I chose a terrible background I purchased from Oriental Trading Company on impulse when ordering some party supplies for my son last year, do not ever, ever buy their stamps(that's why I'm not linking it!), the poorest quality ever! It seemed like such a great deal at 3 bucks, but it wasn't worth 2 cents, I would never put it on a card!! Glad I found a way to finally make the wood side worth something! ;)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sneak Peek #2: Botanical Dream

Please help me welcome our newest illustrator, Asela Hopkins! I am so thrilled to be working with her and her images. When I first saw her "Botanical Dream" set, I knew it was time for me to update my bathroom decor*, the first I'll share today, the rest you'll have to come back to see! This uses one of my favorite images in the set, a potted orchid.** To me, they are the epitome of luxury and elegance.
I really wanted this project to have layers, so we have a sentiment on the front piece of glass, the image in the middle, and a terrific quote in the back. I got this beautiful shadow box at Hobby Lobby (all frames on sale this week, half off, that made this one only 7.50!) It came with the pearl straight pins to tack up your pictures/papers. Such a great look and so easy to commit, being able to change it (uncommit!) whenever you want! I colored the orchids** with the Koh-i-noor pencils. Personally, I always love being given these little hatch marks on an image to show me where to shade, fool proof! :) The texture of the watercolor paper made it a bit difficult to completely blend and get down in all those little nooks (you can't), but I like the way it turned out, wanted the texture to match my background. (It also gave the pot a nice texture to match my rustic tile.) After cutting, the long delicate, stem was very fragile so I taped on a piece of wire to help it stand up right and hold it's shape. I made a a little "L" bracket out of a piece of white CS and adhered it with dimensionals to the back of my image and the bottom on the box in the middle. This gives so much dimension to the project!
I put the "Believe" on the outside so that it would cast a shadow onto the inside quote matte at certain angle, a really cool "floating" effect,"moves as you look at it from different angles. The great thing about stamping on glass? If you mess up, it comes right off with Ultraclean! So stamp with confidence! :) I redid it a couple times until I was completely satisfied with the placement/angle and impression. The quote on the inside is on watercolor paper, stamped in palette Noir. I used my Tearing Edge to create the deckled edges. For a more polished look, use a Nestie rectangle :)
Unfortunately, my photography doesn't do this project justice, looks much better IRL! Hard to get close enough to not get a glare/reflection on the glass, hard to show the shadows of both the potted orchid and the "Believe"Where is Kurtis when you need him??! ;) (if you click on the photo the "Believe" is casting a very large low shadow, other times it looks more like it has been "stamped off".

Don't forget to go drop a comment on Gina's blog for a chance to win this set! More sneak peeks tomorrow at midnight, be there! :)

* Here's what was in there before; almost 5 years of stamping experience, new techniques, a need for change and some fabulous new images inspired the do over! :)

**These orchids come in a variety of colors, you can do an internet search to help you with the colors for your shading, I wanted to do white to match my bathroom theme, and used this pic(which has bits of green, yellow and pink) to help me...I had these classic white dendrobium orchids woven into my hair at my wedding, a wonderful memory :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sneak peek #1: Retro Boutique!

"Retro Boutique", where have you been all my life?! If I knew Illustrator THIS is the kind of a set I would TRY to create (although Rupa did it SO much better than I ever imagined it!) Isn't this little dress to die for??

Wait til you see the other images Rupa gave you to play with in here (methinks Rupa either has a smokin' HOT wardrobe, or covets one!! LOL!) This set comes out on the 20th, the big reveal of it during the release party Friday night!
So anyway, I am so jazzed over the hanging rod!!!(can you tell what it is?) As soon as I saw the little dress on the hanger I knew it needed hanging, but I wasn't sure how I would best achieve that: wire(which I hate), I could draw a rod ("meh"), maybe a ribbon? (getting closer...) I was still undecided as I cut out my dresses, when, happy accident! my son Jonathan plucked something poking out from under the rubble on my desk and asked"what's this?" " It's a hatpin", I mumbled, still cutting, something I jab onto a card sometimes when it needs a little something (or has a sewing or hat theme). Wait a tic!! Eureka!!!! Finally! hatpins have a special purpose!! Tie a little bow or knot of ribbon through the loop end and thread some beads, pearls "spacers"*, what have you, add the cap, then attach with some sticky tape or gel glue and press firmly over the stamped hook of the hanger for the perfect rod!
Both dresses were stamped and paper-pieced with the DCVW "All Dressed Up" Pack (the background is also from this pack, many pages, like the "black dress", pre-glitterfied!), the best DP evah!!! I highlighted the waist on both dresses with a white gel pen and stamped a third dress onto some white paper to make the little petticoat underneath the black dress since it overlaps(and popped up the skirt with dimensionals). Last I stamped "you're just my style!" (lovin' this deco font!) one of many fashionable greetings in the set on a Spellbinders ribbon tag die and pulled a pink double-stitched ribbon(Hobby Lobby) through. The tied ribbon at the bottom right balances out the tied ribbon at top left, in case you were wondering how I decided which way to put each :) The focal point BTW is a Nestie Classic Rectangle.
If you came here first (thank you!!) be sure to drop by Gina's blog to see her sample of Rupa's set plus links to the other designers artwork with same(and the chance to win the stamps)! Tomorrow, sneak peek # 2, a new illustrator's in the house, get ready!!!
*this was my first time to use the spacers, they are so tiny, I just poked the point of my pin into the little SU! bag they came in in the Pretties kit to pick them up, I didn't want them too blingy, but I think they add just the right little sliding dividers I needed, I put the teensiest dab of liquid glue on each pair to keep them together and in place, experimenting with it I found it looked much better to keep them uniform than have them rolling around...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Anybody Out There Who Nose...?*

why my son keeps putting stuff UP his nose?!(and it's always the same nostril) (I figured I'd go ahead and ask about it here because there's always someone reading who's an expert on ____!) I know many young kids try this, but it's usually a one-time thing, right? Now if you turned out for April's release, you may remember that during the party my 3 year old William lodged a band aid in his nostril(to the point where we couldn't see it), which 30 minutes after the retrieval resulted in a bloody nose(but fortunately, due to my calm, collected nature(yeah, right!) and with the help of many in the forum, no trip to the ER. We'll call this "Incident #1". The following week, he did it again (no blood this time) Last week, it was a cardboard jigsaw puzzle piece. A few days ago, a huge wad of gum. (Please believe me when I say this was a rare treat, I don't normally let them have gum, Jonathan have never even tried gum until this past year(so of course William discovered it, too) and when I saw him in the process of stuffing it in (this was the first time I'd actually caught him in the act, all the other times he would come to me and say "me put a ____in my nose, pease get it out") and when I yelled "NO!", instead of pulling it out or pretending he hadn't done it or whatever you'd expect a normal kid to do when caught shoving up something up his nose, with both hands he started frantically working to get it all the way in before I could get it away from him!! The last (latest!) incident (#5!) involved a piece from a Perfection game, he broke the handle off(what a clever boy!) so he could cram them both in!!

What. is up. with THAT?!! HELP, I'm this close to putting a strip of duct tape over his nose!! **

In the meantime I do not have a card to post I can show you today, as I am cranking out sneak peeks BUT: you don't have to wait long! The sneak peeks start tomorrow, the first will be here one minute after midnight!!! So EXCITED!!!!!

PS I have been trying my darnedest to alert everyone about my challenge by leaving little message for people to give them heads up about by searching online, I hit a lot of you this morning, but know I'm missing a LOT who have my sets, there has got to be a better way!! So please go upload if you 've made stuff with my sets!! :) The free set is calling your name!!

*yeah, I know I misspelled "knows"!

**I wouldn't really do that

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Summer & Songs: The Perfect Mix!

What says I love you better than a mix tape??(er, CD!) When I mentioned our beach trip last week, one thing that stuck out in my mind that was really different this time around now that we have kids compared to our Sandcastle competition treks we made when we first met, was that this time we listened to our kids DVDs the whole way there and back instead of DH's Jimmy Buffet CDs! (He doesn't have a parrothead hat or anything, but does have all his CDs, "Bars", "Ballads", "Boats", all those B's...) So for Father's Day I decided to make him a little CD of some of his favorite traveling tunes from various CDs we have in our iTunes library, so he can take a little "beach trip" anytime he's commuting! (his only alone time of the day) It matches this card, also made with "You are My Sunshine".

To simplify decorating your CD, I have to recommend a CD label kit !(This link is not the one I have, got mine a few years ago, but it's similar: comes with an applicator( "stomper"), the labels, and software for creating custom print outs, just wanted to show you one, you may be able to find a better price/source) They come with a variety of flat and glossy labels. These are great for printing out designs for song lists you create on the computer and great for stamping on! (You could use your Xyron, but this is SO much easier, you'll see why!) Here I stamped my chair and put the "Relax..." "It's all good" on the horizon.
I colored the whole thing with Copics, it turned out better than I thought it would because twice I grabbed a Copic that was a shade darker than I intended and didn't realize until it was too late! oops! So I had to go a little bolder than I planned. I decided to leave the sky blank, liked the contrast and it reminded me of those perfectly clear days. Want to extend your water? TIP: Trim out the waves from your stamps in two snips so you can easily piece it back together or use the images separately, here I stamped the waves three or four more times without needing to mask. (see above)
Here is the CD Stomper, with the push of a button your label will be perfectly aligned every time!
Now peel your label off the sheet and lay it face down over on the stomper over the big circle(this is the underside, the Copics really show through, don't they!).
Now lay your burned CD (check to make sure the music recorded properly BEFORE decorating!) upside down on the stomper.* It will hover above the label until you press it.
Press the button in the middle.

Flawless!! I would never want to attempt trying to get this sticker and a punched whole lined up without the aid of this, you know how impossible it is to reposition something this sticky or to get it smooth/ no ripples!
Now! Another thing you can create pretty easily with your Scor-Pal is a paper sleeve for your CD. But these come in the CD label pack! So I decided to just decorate mine up with the DP I used on my card.For the front I cut out "a private island" and stamped "You are my sunshine"** I also stamped that crazy Kelly Panacci stitching on the top and bottom. Next you take your slit punch and make a whole through both layers of the case. Thread your ribbon through (I think Paul can deal with having this Pumpkin ribbon on the project since it's striped and not shiny!)
Then insert your disc all the way and tie your ribbon in a knot.
See how the "Relax" peeps out? :)
You don't have to untie the knot, the disc slips out of the tie ribbon and then slides easily back in to put away. I love how this keeps it from falling out and getting scratched, plus it's just a nicer presentation.

You could use this exact same design and substitute trip photos for the music, this would also make an excellent gift to present and store your favorite summer memories.

Have a GREAT Father's Day weekend!

*remember when I said I'd run into a problem with this project?? Turns out we no longer have our CD burning software on the computer! (so this is blank for now!! sigh...) Hopefully when Paul puts it back on it will burn correctly! Otherwise I will be making a new label!

**Way back when we first started dating he would send me emails with a line from a song and then I would send back the next line, "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine" was the first one he sent:) (I know ,we're big dorks!)