April 17, 2018

BOKEH

I think we've all heard the phrase, "Art imitates life." Truly, that's what I always thought it was. I wanted to begin this post by stating the fact that I love it when that happens. But, then, I got a somewhat curious. This saying, being as familiar as it is, must be attributed to SOMEone, eh?

So, I did a little digging, only to find that the true quote comes from an 1889 essay entitled The Decay of Lying, written by Oscar Wilde. But . . . that is NOT how it really goes. The quote in its entirety reads as follows:


Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.

Huh. Now, that puts a completely different spin on everything, doesn't it? Or does it? 

With that said, and all cleared up, and without getting too philosophical, I will proceed as I'd intended.

I love when art imitates life. Um. Uh huh.


What I am referring to is something that has gained in popularity in recent years, a photographic technique, called bokeh. As a photographer, when utilizing this technique, it becomes more of the way Oscar Wilde wants us to see art versus life, in that through the use of shallow depth of field, a photographer is able to tweak life in such a way as to make it appear more "artistic". 

You can find HERE a truly fascinating article, as well as examples of photographic bokeh, on what exactly bokeh is. I have heard the term pronounced many different ways, two of the most popular being BO-KAY, and BO-KAH, both with the accents on the first syllables.


One of the most common types of bokeh shows varying sizes and intensities, sometimes colors, of circles in the background of a photograph that possesses a clearly in focus subject. Look at the article I mentioned to see some good examples.


Frequently in the papercrafting world, especially that of cardmaking, we will encounter a piece using this technique -- only instead of using a camera's lens to obtain the effect, papercrafters oftentimes use ink and circle-shaped stamps.

I've tried a few of the tutorials that are out there to achieve the bokeh effect, never with satisfying results, however.

That is, until I was preparing a new stamp set for use. Two of the stamps in the set, which happened to be red rubber stamps, were of circular frames where the design only went around the circle's circumference. As everyone knows, if you have excess rubber where you don't want ink, what will happen? Yes, you will get ink there. So, Stampin' Up! very considerately diecut the inner portions of these circles, which I guess were meant to be thrown away. Huh? What!! No way.

I saved those two little orphan circles, added a smaller circle stamp from many years ago, and now I had my very own bokeh set. 

And, the photos show my results. Not perfect. But, nice. 

I used Whisper White ink, starting full strength, then stamping again without reinking in a different spot. I did this with all three sizes of the solid circles, overlapping here and there. The effect was, to me, quite enchanting. 


Not quite sure what to do with my bokeh background, I finally decided to highlight as much of it as possible. So I die cut a few nature pieces from vellum and placed them within my scene. I added a couple layers of cardstock, one metallic, one regular, as mats for my happy nature piece.


Are you aware that the beautiful butterfly (Butterflies Thinlits, page 215) is RETIRING??? I am devastated! What are some of the retiring products that you are really really going to miss the most?


Now, does art imitate life or life imitate art?

Bokeh
Smiles.

April 14, 2018

FUSSY LOVE

I know. I know. I'm still railing about the lovely March Paper Pumpkin kit, May Good Things Grow. Remember THIS POST, where I first deconstructed an envelope from the kit, and then reused it in a card?


Following is a photo of part of the front of the kit, displaying my latest victim. 
Uh. I mean, pretty subject.


Shown below is the specific piece that I am picking on this time. Very very vintage-y looking. But, living in Wisconsin, I NEED SPRING! I've had enough of brown, dead-looking foliage. And, that's how the background of these flowers struck me. Dead. 

So I proceeded to  fussy cut and separate the flowers that had color. I was especially careful when cutting, in case I wanted to use the brown dead -- um. sorry. -- pieces on a future creation.

The first photo in this blog post, as well as the last one, depict the finished product.


For the oval on which the flowers rest, as well as the background, I made use of a very light-colored sheet of the Wood Textures Designer Series Paper stack (which I am thrilled to announce will also be included in the next big annual catalog, which goes live on June 1! Yay!)

Anyway, I was never completely crazy about this particular sun-bleacheded piece. But, when I held it behind my nosegay, it was PERFECT!

I used the Basket Weave Embossing Folder (in the new catalog also!) from Sale-A-Bration to give texture to the background. Before sending it through the Big Shot, I added Crumb Cake ink directly to the inside of the embossing folder that has the writing on it. Doing this adds some really pleasing depth to the embossing.


To finish off the centers of my flowers, I initially colored the centers with clear Wink of Stella. The problem with that was that the piece had to be angled just so in order for the sparkle to show up. And I wanted these centers to have more pizzazz than that.

What I ended up doing was digging through my long ago stash of retired Stampin' Up! products and came up with these clear micro beads. I love the way they look. They even add, in my opinion, to the vintage-y look of it.


I know a lot of the Wood Grain DSP is covered by the oval and the flowers, 
but the next photo shows a little bit of it closer up.


Combining the textured background with the popped-up fussy cut flowers, 
gives the card some pleasing dimension. 


The pink striped piece along the bottom of the card was one of the elements we were supposed to use on a different card in the kit.


Are you enjoying your March Paper Pumpkin kit? I can't wait until the bright red box containing the April kit shows up in my mailbox! Some people are already sharing bits and pieces of this kit on social media -- but I refuse to look. That's the best part of Paper Pumpkin -- the wonderful surprise!

Vintage-y
Smiles.


April 10, 2018

STRIPPED FLOWERS

Usually I like to intersperse my blog posts with tutorials here and there. I realize that my last post included a tutorial. And, now this post will have one too. I hope you don't mind. But, you see, there is a reason for this madness.

Yesterday, April 9, was a big day in the lives of Stampin' Up! demonstrators. Yes, the Retiring Lists were released. Yesterday, also, I had a Stamp-In Workshop. And, at 2:00 -- smack dab in the middle of my workshop -- was the moment of release. So, I ran up to my computer and printed off the lists so my customers could see what was retiring in case that had an effect on what they wanted to order.

 I quickly scanned the list, but then concentrated on finishing up the workshop. Then and only then would I allow myself to sit down and seriously scrutinize the Retiring List.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear -- oh wait, wrong season! -- anyway, I quickly realized that two of the products we'd used on a card at that day's workshop would be RETIRING!


The two retiring items are the stamp set from which my main flower derives, Flower Shop (page 28) and the lovely punch that coordinates with it, PANSY PUNCH! (page 207). Oh boo hoo. I am heartbroken. I have loved both of these products. 

Also, the strips that form the background of the card can all be made from retiring cardstock! 


Thus, I decided on the spot that I would post the tutorial for this card today in case you'd like it and want to grab the stamp set and punch before they are gone forever!!

THIS is the link for the PDF of the Retiring List for the Occasions catalog. And HERE you will find the retiring List for the big annual catalog. Both of these catalogs will retire on May 31. The products on these lists are only available as long as supplies last, with the exception of the stamp sets, which will continue to be manufactured until May 25.

When ordering, please remember to name me as your demonstrator -- if you don't already have one.


Even though customers cannot start ordering from the new catalog until after June 1, when the catalog goes live, Stampin' Up! has released a special promotion in which customers can get their hands on a selection of brand new products during the month of May. CLICK HERE to find the brochure detailing this offering. So exciting that you to get the chance for a sneak peek and own some of the new goodies a month ahead of schedule!


Anyway, now that you've got a lot to think about -- two Retiring Lists and the chance to order new product during May! -- you will find next on the agenda the Supplies List and Instructions on how to make this cute -- farewell -- card.

SUPPLIES:
Whisper White cardstock
Basic Black cardstock
Assorted cardstock colors cut into strips

Southern Serenade (page 49 of the Occasions Catalog, but it will be in the new big catalog!)
Beautiful Day (page 26 of the Occasions Catalog, but also in the new big catalog!)
Flower Shop (page 28, but RETIRING!)

VersaMark Ink
Black Ink

Pansy Punch (page 207, but RETIRING!)
Clear Embossing Powder
Embossing Buddy
Heat Tool
5/8" Satin Ribbon
Basic Rhinestones
Paper Trimmer
Glue Dots
Stampin' Dimensionals
Big Shot
Stitched Shapes Framelits (page 214, but will also be in the upcoming catalog)

INSTRUCTIONS:
Fold a 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" piece of Whisper White cardstock in half, creasing it well with a bone folder.

You will be building this next layer onto a 3 3/4" x 5" piece of scrap cardstock. From a variety of  colors of scrap cardstock, choose colors that you want your stripes to be. It can be just a few colors, or each stripe can be a different color, as in my sample. The strips can be cut in a variety of widths, or all wider widths, or all 1/2", as in mine. Starting at one end of the scrap base, adhere these strips to the cardstock, butting each of the edges tightly against the previous one to make a reasonably flat surface for stamping. 

Run the Embossing Buddy over this finished piece. Then stamp the large flower from Beautiful Day several times onto the glued-on strips without overlapping in VersaMark ink. At the Heat Station, cover the stamped flowers with Clear Embossing Powder, and heat to emboss with the Heat Tool.

Adhere this finished piece to a 4" x 5 1/4" piece of black cardstock. Choose a 5/8" satin ribbon that will coordinate well with the stripes you have made. Wrap a piece of it around, securing the ends on the back of the black with tape. Adhere this piece to the card base.

On a scrap of Whisper White, stamp the sentiment from Southern Serenade in black ink. Cut it out with one of the ovals from the Stitched Shapes Framelits. Add two Basic Rhinestones to the left side of the sentiment piece.

Choose a coordinating piece of the colored cardstock large enough to accommodate the stamped flower from Flower Shop. After rubbing it with the Embossing Buddy, stamp the flower in VersaMark. Sprinkle it with Clear Embossing Powder and heat to emboss. Punch out the flower with the Pansy Punch. Add a Basic Rhinestone to the center of the flower.

Take a 4" piece of the matching ribbon. Fold it in half. Snip the ends so they make points. Adhere this neatly to the back of the sentiment piece. With Stampin' Dimensionals, add this over the ribbon that is already there. With a Stampin' Dimensional, pop the flower onto the card so it overlaps the sentiment.


Mourning
Smiles.



April 7, 2018

PANDA WITH A BALLOON

I am devastated that this little panda and his two buddies are no longer available. They were part of Sale-A-Bration, and with Sale-A-Bration ending March 31, bye bye pandas. So sad. They are incredibly adorable.


So, even though this little guy is retired, I'm still going to share the tutorial for creating this card with you because it features several good design ideas and techniques.


A few stamp sets that are still current and contain images that would work as well as the little panda include: Pop of Paradise (page 42), the ladies and/or cat from You've Got Style (page 47), the pigs, dogs or kittens on pages 48-49, the cupcake from Sweet Cupcake on page 83, Foxy Friends (page 104), the dinos from the No Bones About It set on page 109, the butterflies from Watercolor Wings (page 134), the ladies from Beautiful You (page 141), Miss Mermaid from the Magical Mermaid set on page 172, hey, Fabulous Flamingo (page 177), or the can of paintbrushes from Crafting Forever on page 181. Moving on to the Occasions Catalog, the figures from Magical Day on page 36 would work great, as would any of the cute animals on pages 38-39, the birdie stuff in Flying Home (page 41), or Bird Banter on page 42. 

There are more, but I just wanted to give you some further examples that you could use in your card if you weren't lucky enough to have gotten the Party Pandas during Sale-A-Bration.


Hi Cutie!


Keep on reading for the Supplies List and Instructions to make a card similar to this one.

SUPPLIES: 
Daffodil Delight cardstock
Real Red cardstock
Whisper White cardstock

Party Pandas stamp set
Stylized Birthday stamp (page 80)
Playful Backgrounds stamp set (page 150)

Real Red ink
Tangerine Tango ink
Daffodil Delight ink
Wild Wasabi ink
Pacific Point ink
Archival Basic Black ink

1/2" Circle Punch
Washi Tape
Red/White Baker's Twine
Cut-out balloon and/or party hat
Panda mask
Glue Dots

INSTRUCTIONS:
Fold a 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" piece of Daffodil Delight cardstock in half, creasing it well with a bone folder.

Using a 2 3/4" x 5" piece of Whisper White, you will create your panda layer:

With Archival Basic Black ink, stamp the panda about 1" from the bottom. Stamp the panda again on a piece of Post It paper. Carefully cut out the panda from the Post It, staying just a wee bit inside the lines. Position the mask you just made over the panda you had stamped. 

Proceed with the circles from Playful Backgrounds. I alternated between the filled-in circles and the outlined circles as I went down the page, with each color change. As you stamp a new set of circles, overlap with the previous color a bit, so all the circles fit on this piece of cardstock. BE SURE TO CLEAN THE STAMPS EACH TIME SO YOU DON'T CONTAMINATE THE COLORS.

Peel away the panda mask. Your circles should now be surrounding the panda you'd originally stamped.

Choose a precut balloon (Earlier I had stamped a slew of the balloons as well as some of the party hats -- which my panda isn't wearing -- so my Stamp-In Club attendees didn't have to do this step, and could just choose the pieces they liked.) and adhere it over the stamped balloon. It doesn't matter that there are circles on the stamped balloon; you are covering it up. If you wish, choose a precut party hat to add to your panda.

With red/white baker's twine, tie a bow and add it to the bottom of the balloon with a Glue Dot.

Lay the finished panda piece on top of a 4" square of Real Red cardstock. Choose a Washi Tape that you would like to complement your card. Position strips of the tape on both sides, about 3/8" from the edges of the red. Use tape that is a little longer than you need so you can neatly wrap the torn ends to the back of the red paper. Adhere the panda piece to the taped red paper and then to the card front.

With the 1/2" Circle Punch, punch two circles from Real Red and add them to the bottom corners of the card.

In the black ink, stamp Happy Birthday inside the card. Surround the sentiment with confetti in all the colors you used on the front, cleaning the stamp in between each color.


Confetti
Smiles.

April 3, 2018

PAPER PIECED GIRL WITH FLOWER

Have you ever looked  -- and analyzed for possibilities -- at the images from the Birthday Delivery stamp set on page 69 of the big catalog? Adorable images, eh?

But, one of them has always had me puzzled: the little girl with her back to the "camera". Huh?

When I questioned this image, one of my Stamp-In girls suggested that maybe she was meant to be standing in a corner for having been naughty. Maybe. But, what type of occasion would you want to put something with that implied meaning on? "Sorry you've been naughty"?

It is such a cute stamp, and I desperately wanted to use her.

So, I thought she might be more user friendly if she was holding a big flower behind her back.

Thus, that concept was born:


This was the birthday card I made for my sister-in-law. The greeting is from a Paper Pumpkin set. I love the way it looks on the bottom of the card. Even if it wasn't for a birthday, it would work for other occasions as well: Mother's Day? Father's Day? Valentine's Day? Any day on which to celebrate?


To create this distinctive look, I stamped the girl onto a piece of Whisper White cardstock, then cut it out with the oval from the Stitched Shapes Framelits (page 214). 

I went through all my scraps of Designer Series Paper that featured a small enough print that would look cute on a little girl's dress. Picking out several patterns that I thought would work well, I stamped the dress on these scraps. Then it was the process of fussy cutting the dresses. Because of the placement of her arms, each dress cuts out as two separate pieces.

Once the fussy cutting was done, I took all the dresses and adhered them to all the little girls I'd stamped.

I then took the flower stamp from the A Little Wild set (page 108), and stamped flowers on scraps of Whisper White cardstock. I also stamped the flower onto the paper pieced girl so the stem fell between her hands. After coloring a bunch of these flowers in an assortment of color combos, I also fussy cut them. 

As I go through the girl's dresses, I choose a flower that I think would coordinate well with the print, and paper piece the flower in place.


I have quite a few of the little girls all ready to be finished into cards:


Once the difficult work of paper piecing the dress and flower is done, it is easy to choose a suitable one for a card you need to make for a celebratory occasion and put it together easily, using a complementary piece of Designer Series Paper as the background for the card.


Do you have any grand schemes for putting together an otherwise complicated card quickly?

Paper
Pieced
Smiles.