February 25, 2020


I love gatefold cards -- making them and the looks of them. Somehow they are just a little more fun than the traditional card hinged on the left or the top. 

But they are horrendous to photograph! Especially if the photographer has only two hands. Which I do.

You see, without being held, they pop open. So it's impossible for me to capture what the card looks like completely closed. Unless, of course, I use adhesive on it to temporarily close it. Which I didn't.

My illustrator daughter, Emily Balsley, had a birthday coming up. Because she consistently produces such extraordinary work, I always take great pains with her birthday card, hoping to impress her with my work, for a change. I don't think this was one of my great successes for her. But I still like how it turned out -- as far as a birthday card goes.

To make a gatefold card that ends up being 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" to fit inside an A2 envelope, start with a 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" piece of cardstock. Using the Simply Scored (page 189 in the Annual Catalog), score at 2 1/8", flip it 180 degrees, and score at 2 1/8" again. When folded on the score lines, the two flaps should meet nicely in the middle.

Often when I make a gatefold card, I put something on each gatefold. For example, in this card, the focal point is on the tag adhered to the left gate, while the sentiment on the punched label is adhered to the right hand gate. When doing this, it is so important to be cognizant of where you are applying your adhesive. It can only be added to the side that will not move freely. So, pay close attention!

One other thing, I usually add panels to each gate, and, like in this card, they are almost always embossed pieces. 

The cute cupcake is a stamp from a past Sale-A-Bration set. At the time it was released, I loved the scribbly look of the cupcake parts. I still do. That's why I thought it would be cute for my card.

To give lots of variety, the cupcake is actually made up of several stamps: the cupcake paper and shadow, the cake part (which I, of course, made chocolate!), the swirly frosting, the sprinkles, and finally, the cute heart topper. 

Since the set is photopolymer, it is easy to line up the various components. 

The tag on which the cupcake is stamped is one of the dies from the Bonanza Buddies Bundle on page 34 of the current Mini Catalog. That tag is the best -- I will be grabbing that die many many times in the years to come.

The cute punch I used for the sentiment at the bottom of the card is the Label Me Fancy Punch on page 41 of the Mini Catalog. Another product I will be getting a lot of use out of!

We were fortunate enough to be able to spend a portion of her birthday with Emily and her family. 


February 22, 2020


Another of the really cool free items you can earn during Sale-A-Bration time is the Golden Honey Specialty Designer Series Paper, found on page 10 of the Sale-A-Bration brochure. To fully appreciate this paper, you really do need to view -- and touch! -- it in person. One side is a black and white design, while the flip sides all feature gold foiling. Par excellence!

For my January Stamp-In Workshop, I wanted to use a bit of one of these sheets in a projects for my girls to make. A few years ago, Stampin' Up! had a hexagon embossing folder in its line that works so well with the snippet of DSP that I chose for my card. 

The photos I took of this card are all fairly, well, not great. I took many photos, and these are the best I could do. I apologize. The card in person is quite exquisite and a diminutive 3 3/4" square in size. Although the photos imply that the neutral color used in the card is Whisper White, it is, in fact, Very Vanilla. 

The central circle on which the bee is embossed in a glittery gold embossing powder is actually raised from the DSP with Stampin' Dimensionals, although that is hard to decipher in the photos.

A closeup of the bee focal point:

Peeking out from underneath the black circle is a swatch 
of a Very Vanilla/Gold ribbon from a previous Sale-A-Bration. 
It ties everything together beautifully.

Read on to find out how to recreate a card similar to this.

Very Vanilla cardstock
Basic Black cardstock
Golden Honey Specialty Designer Series Paper (page 10, Sale-a-Bration Brochure)

Retired bee stamp, but there is a current bee stamp set that would work so well: Honey Bee on page 30 of the Mini Catalog. It also comes as a bundle!)

VersaMark ink

Big Shot
Stitched Shapes Dies (page 196, Annual Catalog)
Hexagon embossing folder
Embossing Buddy
Heat Tool
Gold Glitter embossing powder
Very Vanilla/Gold ribbon
Stampin' Dimensionals

Fold a piece of Very Vanilla cardstock that measures 3 3/4" x 7 1/2" in half, creasing it well with a bone folder

Run a 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" piece of Very Vanilla cardstock through the Big Shot inside the hexagon embossing folder. Adhere this embossed piece to the card base.

Use the largest of the oval dies from the Stitched Shapes dies to cut an oval from the honeycomb paper from the Golden Honey Specialty Designer Series Paper.

Rub the Embossing Buddy well over a 2" square of black cardstock. In VersaMark ink, stamp the honeybee image. At the Heat Station, add sparkling gold embossing powder to the stamped image, brushing off any stray powder particles. Heat to emboss.

With the circle die from the Stitched Shapes dies set that measures about 1 7/8", cut out the bee shape.

Cut a 3" length of the Very Vanilla/Gold ribbon. Fold it in half, trimming the ends to points, and add this to the back of the bee circle so the ends of the ribbon extend about 3/4" - 1" below the circle. 

With Stampin' Dimensionals, add the circle piece to the oval DSP.

Use Stampin' Dimensionals to add the finished piece to the card base.


February 18, 2020


Have you spent any time experimenting with the characteristics of vellum? A fascinating medium for paper crafting, it can be tricky and frustrating to work with.

A loooong time ago, I purchased a stash of colored vellum. I had it carefully tucked away, taking out a piece now and then to use on some project or another.

The other day I had something of a lightbulb moment, and decided to give it a try. 

I had this vellum in a plethora of colors and hues but chose a fairly neutral palette for my project. I knew in my head that I wanted to tear these pieces, stack them and use them in a card. But, I wasn't really certain how to proceed.

It took a little figuring with scrap paper that I was to start with one full size piece of vellum with no tearing. Please note the lightest color, the top layer. That is a full sheet measuring 5 1/4" x 4". My first tear came in the second piece from the top, the mustard-y color. It is the full length minus the small portion I tore off.

I continued down the card, tearing off a little more with each layer, until the final layer, which is only as tall as you see in the card.

The way the first mustard piece tore thrilled me. I was hoping for an atmospheric perspective look, as in this link., especially the large image on the right. However, after that first piece, the vellum didn't cooperate quite so nicely, and the tears were almost perfectly straight across. Nice and neat, but not quite the look I was hoping for. Maybe if I was creating paint chip samples?

But I do still like how the card turned out:

So, once I added this stack of torn vellum to my card base, I was able to see all the Glue Dots I'd used. I knew this was going to be a problem, but wasn't quite sure how I was going to alleviate the nasty situation. 

The Stitched Rectangles dies on page 196 of the Annual Catalog came to my rescue and saved the day!

I cut a piece of Very Vanilla cardstock to the size of the card front, 4 1/4" x 5 1/2". Then, using one of the larger rectangle dies, I die cut a neat frame -- and got beautiful stitching besides doing the trick!

I then adhered this beautiful frame right over the garish Glue Dots, and voila! 

To finish off the larger area at the bottom of the vellum layers, I die cut the word "laugh" from Very Vanilla cardstock, and added it.

This card is going to be used as an inspirational piece in my home, a reminder to try not to take life quite so seriously all the time. Laugh. Nature's best medicine.



February 15, 2020

#dailycreating SEPTEMBER 2019

Huh. I looked back and discovered that it's been six weeks since I shared a month of my drawings from #dailycreating. The last month I showed you was August, so now I will move ahead a month and give you a peek at what I'd been doing in September. 

I am part of Terry Runyan's Facebook group #dailycreating. As a member of this wonderful and supportive group, we are given a list of optional prompts a week at a time. The prompts are announced on Sundays for the following week, and I must admit I am always chomping at the bit to see what the new list of prompts has in store.

The daily prompts are completely optional. It is just a place to start from for the day's drawing. Because I am always stumped as to what to draw, I stick to the prompts faithfully.

I find it interesting to page through my sketchbook to look at one single month's drawings. Obviously I wasn't in a great drawing mood in September, because I found slim pickin's for drawings that I like enough to share with you. I only came up with nine (from 30 prompts!). Not great. 

Apparently it was quite a chicken month since three of the nine I chose are of chicken faces. At our county fair in late July I took 70-something photos of chickens' faces. They simply fascinate me. So, here you will see three of my chicken renderings.

As always, I will add the day's prompt above each of the drawings, as well as any further information I may have on the subject matter.

Here we go:



Pembroke Welsh Corgi


#thewitches (by Roald Dahl)
Angelica Huston as Grand High Witch, 1990


Bad planning on the page



I know I've mentioned it in previous posts, but some of you may be confused about a couple of my prompts. Terry has designated Wednesdays as Thing on Thing day. She usually draws a cat on someone's head. There is often an alternate prompt for Wednesday also. Since I had so many chicken photos, I announced to the group that, for awhile, I would be drawing chickens on Wednesday. 

Then we have #dogurday. In another cute turn of events, Terry calls Saturdays "Caturday". Since some of the group members are not fans of <adorable> cats, she also added the option of "Dogurday". Often there is also another prompt for Saturdays too. I almost always choose to draw a realistic portrait of a dog for #dogurday. 

So, there you have September 2019. Not a great showing I'm afraid. Sometimes the prompts don't really speak to me, and I found that this September was like that. Following the prompts though obligates me to, well, follow the prompt. So that often takes me way out of my comfort zone. For example, the day the prompt was Star Trek. Whoa. I won't bore you of my rendition of that prompt. 

The Small Print: Please recognize that these are my personal original drawings (often using a reference photo), and are not to be copied in any way, shape or form without my express permission. 

I am in the process of getting several of my drawings ready to be made into prints. If there are any in particular that you would like to see reproduced as a Giclee print, please let me know!

I'm off to draw #sports. Gulp.


February 11, 2020


My husband and I have two grandchildren: Stella, who turned 12 right after Christmas, and Enzo, who became a three-year-old on Sunday. 

Well, everyone knows how very special it is to turn THREE! I wanted Enzo's birthday card to be super cool for this momentous occasion.

When the Mini Catalog went live last month, and I discovered the Bonanza Buddies Bundle on pages 32-34, I knew I had found the perfect set for Enzo's upcoming birthday.

It did take me an entire afternoon -- with all the trials and errors -- to create his card, but I finally came up with:

The characters in this bundle -- there is also an adorable toucan -- 
are so friendly and just plain WONderful.

Combining the stamps and the dies gives you 
a plethora of ways you can put these guys together. 

When all is said and done, the lion is actually SIX pieces: 
his body, his mane, his head, the tip of his tail, his party hat, 
and the poof on top of the party hat. 
You will notice that I didn't stamp the hat first, 
but simply die cut it from some celebratory Designer Series Paper 
with the included die.

Mr. Koala has a few less pieces, just three of them. 
Once again, I just die cut the hat from more happy DSP.

The card doesn't have just too much dimension, 
just a few Stampin' Dimensionals here and there, 
and then, of course, the bit of ribbon.

The cute banners, as well as the stitched tag upon which the animals rest, 
are also dies in the bundle. 
That tag! I will be using it LOTS!

The inside of the card features stamped balloons, 
which were then die cut. Before I adhered the balloons, 
I stamped the strings for the balloons in Smoky Slate 
and plopped the cute sentiment right over the strings.

For the dots on the background of the tag, I stamped each one off first before stamping them on the tag. I had done a tag initially without first stamping them off, and they were so IN YOUR FACE that the cute characters were almost lost. Thus, the stamping off, which added a cute extra festiveness to the card without being overwhelming. By the way, the dots were actually the balloons that I stamped inside the card.

Knowing that the card was special and handmade, 
a friend lent a hand in helping Enzo remove the greeting 
from its envelope at his birthday party.

Unfortunately, the first thing the little darling did was try to peel off the animals. 
Not sure if he thought they were stickers or toys, 
but it was rescued quickly before any damage was actually done.

This last photo shows a happy Enzo and a little party friend "driving" 
a giant Green Bay Packers helmet.