August 28, 2018


You will most likely need to use your imagination to figure out this card.

Last month's Paper Pumpkin kit was so cute and fruity! The fruits featured in the projects were strawberries, blueberries and apples. I decided to incorporate all three of these fruits into one card.

The diecut fruits all came on separate sheets -- the blueberries on one, the apples on the second, etc. The maker was to punch the fruity pieces from their diecut sheets to use as needed in the projects. I punched ALL the fruits out at the same time. Don't ask me why. I just did.

I debated whether I should throw away the punched out sheets. But, no! Waste not, want not. Right? 

I took the apple sheet first because the remaining negative spaces most closely resembled an  apple. The red side was cute, but . . . I flipped it over to the white side. Whoa! Cool stuff! Hey! I'm gonna run with this!

First of all, I decided to go with the primary colors in addition to the white for my creation. The blueberries were blue (duh!), the strawberries, were, of course, red, and the negative space with the apples was in white. I still needed some yellow to fulfill my mission. 

After trimming the white apple piece to 3 3/4" x 5", I adhered it to a 4" x 5 1/4" piece of Crushed Curry cardstock. I loved how the apples showed through as yellow. Taking four of the strawberries and four of the blueberries, I arranged them atop this white/yellow piece. 

Notice the little blue "stars" that also join the fruits? Those were pressed out of the stem area of the blueberries. Instead of tossing them, after I had my fruit salad arranged pleasingly, I placed the punched out stars -- plus two extras -- in some of the remaining spaces. When I was arranging my fruits, I was very careful to preserve as much of the apple outline as possible so it would be obvious that they actually are apples.

After adhering the fruits and "stars", I attached it to a Whisper White card base.

While I loved the look of the fruity card, it seemed to be missing something. So I die cut the word "smile" from a scrap of Blueberry Bushel cardstock and added that towards the bottom of the card. 

Lesson learned: NEVER THROW ANYTHING AWAY! Even garbage can be repurposed and made into something wonderful!

Now I still have a blank sheet of negative blueberries (essentially circles) and strawberries for a future project. Stay tuned!

I love the happy feeling this card exudes. It just makes me smile to look at it. Oh yeah. I'm just obeying the card. 

Does it make you smile?


August 25, 2018


A bit of a departure here for me -- and you! I realize that I'm not exactly planting Paper Seedlings in this post. However, maybe I am, after all. You be the judge.

A little background on me: I started college in 1988 at the ripe old age of 36. I didn't have any real plans in mind for a degree. I'd just felt like there'd been a hole in my life, something missing, and had been for a long time. Actually, since I graduated from high school and went directly into the work force. Keep in mind that this was in 1970 when it wasn't so common to proceed with higher education like it is these days. This hole needed to be filled, and I thought working towards a degree would be the way to do it.

After taking my first class, Introduction to Literature, which I thought would be a sure and easy thing for me, being the voracious reader that I am, I had the taste for more. We have to keep in mind that, at this point, I was a mom of two daughters, an employee, a wife, and now wanting to be a part-time -- nontraditional -- college student. I figure the only way I'd be able to get a college degree would be to take the slow train, a class or two or three each semester.

With the taste for more education, I needed to decide if I was really serious, and what I would pursue if I was. All through high school, I'd thought the career for me would be that of a freelance artist. Bliss. Throughout the years from the 70s to the late 80s, I'd kept my interest in art alive somewhat. Now, being introspective about my future, I decided that I still wanted to pursue art. And, my area of interest was that of children's book illustration. 

So, that's what I set out to do. 

Once I got into my art classes, I had trouble with my hands -- arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome -- so drawing became quite difficult and painful. After several semesters of drawing and painting, I finally concluded that I would not be able to carry on. So, still wanting a degree in art, I changed my emphasis to Photography. And, after nine years, I achieved my degree, a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Emphasis in Photography, Magna Cum Laude, in December of 1997. There. I had accomplished what I'd set out to do, for two years even attending classes at two Universities at the same time. 

And, what did I do with that degree? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. 

Sure, I entered and was juried into several exhibitions throughout Wisconsin, one even in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, picked up a few awards, was published on the cover of a tourist magazine, was featured on the May 2005 page of an esteemed calendar. But, nothing to pay the bills. 

Do I consider that degree a waste? Sometimes.

But I'm still glad I did it. It was a huge accomplishment for me at that time. Graduating from the University of Wisconsin at the advanced age of 45!

In the ensuing years, I have kept busy with my art, mostly just dabbling. Nothing serious. In 2005, I became a Stampin' Up! Demonstrator, and even that hasn't panned out as anything profitable. But, I stick with it because, hosting my monthly workshops, keeps me creative and artistically satisfied. 

A few weeks ago, I joined in on a Facebook group, Creating Every Day, hosted by visual artist, Terry Runyan. I'd been a fan of her work for a long time, and when this opportunity arose, I asked to be accepted into the group. Recently Terry has been giving the members of the group a prompt each day. If we choose, we can draw our interpretation of the day's prompt and share it in the Facebook group. 

I had been a lurker in the group initially, liking/loving and commenting on others' artwork. And feeling guilty that I wasn't participating fully. Finally, the other day, I gave myself a little push into the world of daily drawing prompts. 

The prompt that day was "house". Uh huh. 

Unlike my daughter, Freelance Illustrator Emily Balsley, I have absolutely no imagination. There is nothing in my head from which to draw. It's always been like that. In the past, I drew portraits of famous people, but always from a photo. In drawing, I'd always been good at putting my own spin on someone else's idea. A huge frustration for me. (Curiously, this is not the case with my cardmaking. I'd say 98% of my cards are originals. I pride myself on that.) 

OK. A house. I can do that. If I drew out of my head, however, it would look like it had been done by a kindergartener. I know Emily refers to photos, etc., to help her with inspiration, so I thought that if a wonderful artist like Emily needs a little visual feedback at times, why, that would be OK for me too.

So I googled "house". I chose one that spoke to me, and proceeded with my prompt assignment, and below is the result:

I am skipping the next two day's prompts because my results were not wonderful. Trust me.

The next day, however, I was pleased with my drawing, the prompt "turtle":

Yesterday's prompt was "musical instrument". It seems lots of the people in the group picked up the guitar, so to speak, for their drawings. I wanted something more childlike and colorful. (See? I still love the idea of illustrating for children!) So I chose a child's xylophone. 

In doing my drawings, I first sketch them out in pencil, refine the drawing with a Sakura Pigma Micron pen, then with some loose Copic coloring. 

For my xylophone, I had carefully chosen my rainbow of colors and had the pens lying in ROYGBIV order on my worktable. I was working blithely on my coloring, when I realized that I had one more rectangle to color and I had gone through all the markers -- so I thought anyway. This dork had completely skipped over the green!! Oh no. So I filled in the last one with a variation on purple (!). But it looked WRONG without the green. What to do? 

Well, I considered this a "happy accident" and fixed it as you see below. I really like the end result.

Terry usually likes to have the prompt for Saturdays be "caturday". Today was no exception. Being a lifelong cat lover, I looked forward to this assignment. To tell the truth, I really liked my little kitty BEFORE I colored him in. I should have just left him in the black ink.

Anyway, I know this post doesn't give you any paper ideas, but I thought it might be a bright spot for you, my readers. If you would rather I stick to planting my Paper Seedlings along the cardmaking lines, please mention that in the comment area. Otherwise, I'm sure you will have to put up with my drawings from time to time.


August 21, 2018


At my July Stamp-In Workshop, the girls were up for a double challenge on this card. It involves a VersaMark resist as well as overstamping. Plus, they did embossing on vellum. 

The background of this card actually started out as WHITE Glossy Cardstock. Read on to discover how this all develops.

A close-up of the two main techniques:

Following is a tutorial on how to make this card on your own:

Glossy Cardstock
Whisper White Cardstock

Two retired stamp sets (the words and flowers). Grab any other sets you have to do this card!

VersaMark Ink
Cherry Cobbler Ink
Petal Pink Ink
Berry Burst Ink

Heat Tool
Embossing Buddy
Clear Embossing Powder
Stamping Sponge
Scotch Tape

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

Making sure the flower stamp is absolutely clean, stamp it randomly onto a 4" x 5 1/4" piece of Glossy Cardstock in VersaMark Ink. At the Heat Station, use the Heat Tool on the inked images to set them before starting to sponge (the next step).

Back at the table, starting with Petal Pink ink, start sponging over the flowers. Add Berry Burst in the same way. The more you press the color in while sponging, the more the flowers will appear. Use a tissue to buff away excess ink from the ghostly flowers.

CLEAN THE FLOWER STAMP. In Cherry Cobbler ink, randomly stamp the flower across the Glossy Cardstock, letting some of the ghostly images show between.

Rub the Embossing Buddy over a 1" x 6" piece of vellum. In Cherry Cobbler ink, stamp the sentiment centered on the piece of vellum. Since ink doesn't dry too quickly on vellum, you have time to emboss the sentiment. At the Heat Station, cover the words with Clear Embossing Powder, tipping the excess powder back into the container. Use the Heat Tool to emboss.

Centering the sentiment, fold the excess ends of the Vellum to the back of the flowered piece. Tape the ends in place on the back. 

Adhere the finished piece to the card base.


August 18, 2018


I realize that customers cannot order from the upcoming 2018 Holiday Catalog until September 1. But, as a Demonstrator, I was able to preorder product from the catalog so I can prepare samples and projects for September events. One of the perks of being a Stampin' Up! demo: We get to play before everyone else!

Anyway, I was quite taken with the Beautiful Baubles set, found on page 10 of the Holiday Catalog. I was especially drawn to the giant ornament, which just screams to be COLORED! And, besides being a cool set, it is really inexpensive at $17.00!

So far, I don't possess a whole lot of the Stampin' Blends. I have been focusing recently on getting up to speed with new colors of inks and cardstock as a result of the Color Revamp. I will definitely be adding to my collection of the Blends. But, the few sets I do already have will need to suffice for this blog post. And they are not what would be considered traditional Christmas colors.

I thought it would be fun to compare two cards, one colored with the dark Blend of the sets, while the other one with the light Blend. I did no shading. Just straight up coloring. So we could see exactly what the difference is between the lights and darks in each set.

The colors I used are Pool Party. Calypso Coral, Old Olive and Daffodil Delight. The only difference between the two card samples is the light/dark. Otherwise, the cards are as identical as I could make them.

The first card is done with the dark Blends:

The second card is done with the lighter of the Blends:

Another closer view of the dark Blends:

A close-up of the light Blends:

And once more:

There is quite the difference between the light and dark Blend of the color sets. I found that very gratifying. At first, I didn't think they were all that different, but here is living proof. Just right for shading.

Now, which do you prefer? Dark? Light?


August 14, 2018


I could hardly wait for my monthly Stamp-In to be over so I could share this card with you. Well, the Stamp-In was yesterday (August 13), so here it is.

The card, which my girls had a lot of fun doing, features the set All The Good Things (page 151 in the Annual Catalog), which is one of a handful of stamp sets in this catalog that have been labeled
"DistINKtive". These stamps boast an ultra-realistic look, and are quite wonderful to work with.

Another exciting aspect of this card is that it features not one, but TWO techniques! The fish are colored with the Thumping Technique, and the bubbles are added with Masking.

As I was showing the girls how to do the fish, I pointed out the fact that koi are always unique in their coloring, that it was nearly impossible to ruin it.

A little close-up of the fish in their bubbly environment:

These koi intrigued me so so much that I spent one CD's worth of music stamping an entire 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of Whisper White full of the fish. 

Don't they look realistic??

You can see in these photos that I didn't even bother cleaning the stamp in between fish. The same overstamping keeps showing up. No problem. I will be fussy cutting these koi. That's why I was purposely not too careful.

Do you have a hankering to try this card for yourself? Well, hold on to your seats -- the tutorial follows:

Whisper White cardstock
Balmy Blue cardstock
Mango Melody cardstock

All the Good Things stamp set (page 151)
Playful Backgrounds stamp set (page 141)
Southern Serenade stamp set (page 150)

Balmy Blue ink
Stampin' Write Markers in oranges, yellows and black
Black ink

Fold a 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" piece of Mango Melody cardstock in half, creasing it well with a bone folder.

YOU WILL BE DOING THUMPING ON THE KOI. Choose your colors from among the Stampin' Write Markers in yellows and oranges. You need a lighter color for your base. For example, in my sample I colored the entire large koi in a light yellow. THEN, THE THUMPING: Choose 2-3 more colors, and using the SIDE of the BRUSH END of the marker, thump randomly on top of the fish stamp, turning the stamp so all your thumps don't face in the same direction. Pick another color and do the same. If you have a third color, continue. Finally, use the black marker SPARINGLY to add some darker accents. HUFF ON THE ENTIRE STAMP, then stamp the image in place on a 3 3/4" x 5" piece of Whisper White cardstock.

Repeat the thumping steps with the smaller fish. ALWAYS REMEMBER TO HUFF BEFORE STAMPING WHEN WORKING WITH MARKERS. If desired, use the fine tip end of the black marker and add in some edge lines as in my sample.

Stamp both of the fish on a post-it note, so a good portion of the fish lands on the sticky part of the paper. Fussy cut these masks, BARELY INSIDE THE STAMPED LINES. Once the masks are cut out, cover the stamped fish with them. Ink up the open circles from the Playful Backgrounds set and stamp them swirlingly around the fish. Carefully peel off the masks. The bubbles should be behind the koi.

In black ink, stamp the sentiment in the upper left corner.

Adhere the finished piece to a 4" x 5 1/4" piece of Balmy Blue cardstock. Attach this to the card base.

KEEP IN MIND: If you've ever spent any time watching koi, you will have noticed that they are all unique in their coloring. Thus no fish will be "wrong". Embrace your koi -- they are absolutely "right".


August 11, 2018


I subscribe to quite a few lovely blogs, enjoying tremendously perusing what they have to offer. 

Recently I was looking at all the beauty on Lin's cards are always extraordinary, and the one on this particular day was no exception. I was immediately taken with the looks of this card

Without reading how Lin created her card, I proceeded to head down to my Creation Station to see what I could come up with. I just had her card in my mind and that's what I worked from. Huh, now that I look back at her card, there is quite a difference. I like Lin's so much better.

However, it was sort of fun coming up with my own take on Lin's card. I actually created two cards, doing the background a bit differently on each of them.

The first one, below, I think resembles hers the more of my two. First of all, my background sponging was a little darker. Not sure why I did that. But done is done. 

For this one, after the sponging, I ran the piece through the Big Shot inside our woodgrain embossing folder, which, unfortunately, is retired. 

Once the embossing was done, I used a Sponge Dauber and Soft Suede ink to try to carefully make the raised lines of the woodgrain brown. Ugh. So much easier said than done.

For my second card, my sponging was a bit more light-handed. As I said previously, I'm not sure why. Maybe I was tired after all that sponging?? Nope. I dunno.

Anyway, for this card, after I completed the sponging, I took the Soft Suede ink pad directly to the side of the embossing folder that has the words on it. Once I thought I'd covered these lines adequately and evenly. I placed my sponged piece inside the folder and ran it through the Big Shot.

This gave me a pretty contrasting look. 

I then finished off both cards the same way.

My creations are almost always completely original ideas of mine. This time, although I didn't try to repeat her process, it was directly inspired by Lin's lovely card. 

What are your feelings about the need for originality? Or do you agree with the concept of C.A.S.E.? Which stands for Copy and Share Everything. Stampin' Up! encourages, feeling that their catalog is so full of inspiration, they are pleased when we copy our own things exactly as they are in the catalog. 

Share your opinion on Original versus C.A.S.E. I'd love to hear your thoughts.


August 7, 2018


A simple floral motif as the focal point for a card is always appealing, don't you agree? The set, Southern Serenade (page 150) provides a spray of flowers that is so perfect for this. And, then, to set it atop a piece of stamped lace -- the icing on the cake.

The background is a combination of four alternating 1" strips of cardstock that had been embossed with the lovely Basket Weave Embossing Folder (page 222).

Seen up-close details the fact that I used a white gel pen to color in the flowers. Some of the girls at my Stamp-In decided to leave the lace show through the flowers, which looked great too. All just a matter of preference. 

I also used the Light Calypso Coral Blend to color my Basic Pearls before adding them to the floral piece.

The finished card has a modest amount of dimension due to the use of Stampin' Dimensionals, a bit of ribbon and the pearls. 

Because I didn't wet the cardstock first before embossing the background pieces, they don't boast as much dimension as they could otherwise. I was cutting and prepping a lot of cardstock for my Stamp-In, so elected to forego the water spritzing step just to save a little time. So, if you make this card, if you'd like a bit more realism in the embossing, spritz the cardstock first with a fine mist of water on both sides before running it through the Big Shot inside the embossing folder.

I have a set of non-Stampin' Up! dies that are several small words. That's where the "hugs" came from. The rest of the dies were available for the girls to choose otherwise at the Stamp-In -- just in case they didn't want to send hugs to their recipient.

How about a tutorial on how to make this card? Here you go.

Whisper White cardstock
Merry Merlot cardstock

Southern Serenade (page 150)

Powder Pink ink
Merry Merlot ink

Big Shot
Stitched Shapes Framelits (page 220)
Word dies
Basket Weave Embossing Folder
Basic Pearls
Light Calypso Coral Blend marker
White Gel Pen (optional)
White Stitched Ribbon
Stampin' Dimensionals

Fold a 5 1/2' x 8 1/2" piece of Merry Merlot cardstock in half, creasing it well with a bone folder.

Run both 2" x 5 1/4" strips of Merry Merlot and Whisper White cardstock through the Big Shot inside the Basket Weave Embossing Folder. Cut these strips in half so they are each 1" wide. Adhere them, alternating colors, to a 4" x 5 1/4" piece of white cardstock. Adhere this piece to the card base.

On a 3" x 4" piece of Whisper White cardstock, stamp the lacy image in Petal Pink ink. Over the lace, stamp the flower stalk in Merry Merlot ink. If desired, use a white gel pen to color in the flowers so the lace doesn't show through the petals. It takes several coats of white gel pen, letting it dry in between.

Cut this out with a 2 5/8" x 3 3/4" oval die.

Cut another oval with a die that measures 3" x 4" from Merry Merlot cardstock. Adhere these two ovals together. Use a couple Stampin' Dimensionals to attach the oval over the stripes on the card base.

Color three Basic Pearls with the Light Calypso Coral Blend marker and add them to the background as desired.

From Merry Merlot, die cut the word "hugs", or whatever word you prefer. Use the Stitched Shapes Framelits to cut an oval from Whisper White cardstock. Adhere the word to this oval.

Angle the ends of a 3" piece of 1/4" wide white ribbon. Adhere the ribbon to the lower portion of the card, underneath the flower oval. Attach the sentiment oval over the ribbon with a Stampin' Dimensional or two.

Adhere a 4" x 5 1/4" piece of Whisper White cardstock inside the card for writing your message, since the Merry Merlot is so dark. Unless, of course, you wish to write your message in the White Gel Pen!


August 4, 2018


My husband and I were invited to a milestone birthday party for a dear friend of mine. 
It didn't take too much thinking to come up with the theme of her birthday card. 
You see, she loves two things:
  butterflies and purple.

What better supply to use than Brushos 
for a wonderfully funky and eye-catching background?

A close-up of the background of the card:

The butterfly I used on the card is the one from the Beautiful Day set on page 134. The "happy" portion of the card is die cut from Blackberry Bliss cardstock, while the rest of the embellishments, stamping and cardstock are black. 

Because the cardstock was so dark, I added a 4" x 5 1/4" piece of Whisper White cardstock, along with an appropriate birthday verse inside the card.