Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gee, it's about time, huh?

Unfortunately for my stamping projects, posts, swaps and a lot of my stamping events, my priorities have had to change in the last six months.  With "two in college" looming in the wings, I traded some of my stay-at-home mom "leisure" hours for a 9-5 (sometimes a 7-5, six days a week!) to help out with the associated costs.  Being that there are only 24 hours in a day, some things had to go, and unfortunately this blog was one of the victims. 

BUT, that being said, today, when I was planning on hosting my annual Sale-A-Bration Mystery Hostess Party, Mother Nature and her buddy, Ol' Man Winter, had other plans and put several different kinds of precipitation on the menu.  With my "hill of a driveway" and the fact that many of my stamping friends come from a bit of a distance, I made the executive decision at 8 this morning to postpone the party until next Sunday so that we could all stay inside, away from the rain-freezing rain-sleet-hail-snow mix that has been falling from the sky all day.  Being that I've wanted to do nothing more than keep myself firmly planted on the couch while all this crummy stuff comes down from the sky, I figured I could plunk out a post, especially since I'm really excited about sharing this item I made using one of this year's Sale-A-Bration selections.

I had no portable way of displaying one of the SAB selections, the Decor Elements "Notes" chalkboard piece, so I came up with the idea for this message center.  I wasn't sure that the decal was going to transfer smoothly onto the corkboard but it worked like a charm.  The only issue I had was that the decal was a bit longer than the space on the board.  Trimming the length a bit with a scissors was easy as pie and didn't affect the decal application.  I omitted the squiggle that goes under the "notes" letters because it seemed to take up too much space on this board, but that's the beauty of Decor Elements--you can customize them to your space and tastes.

As a little decorative touch, I used some of the Designer Covered Buttons to make tacks.  I snipped off the brad prongs and added a regular ol' thumbtack with Crystal Effects. 

Oh, now if cleaning up my icy driveway would be as easy and fun. . .

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Vote is In--Cherry Cobbler it is!!

I held my New Catalog Open House last Friday, and as usual I had two projects out for everyone to do. As usual, narrowing down which items from the new catalog I would use was the hardest part of all the prep. All the new colors, all the new sets, ALL the new bling!!! It was REALLY hard, but about 3 days before the Open House (I know, a lot of you are saying, "Three days! Not the usual 3 hours???" Amazing, huh?) I simply bit the bullet, made myself choose a couple colors and a couple sets and got busy!

This first project had everyone ooohing and aaahing over the new Cherry Cobbler cardstock. It's my new top pick too. (It took awhile for the light bulb to come on--of course I love this color! My car is this color, my laptop is this color, my phone is this color. . . . Duh!)

It's a pretty simple design, but it incorporates the concept of "white on a white mat," something that I would have never thought of, but I loved the way it looked on a sample I saw. The sample was a very colorful card, but here the Cherry Cobbler is bold enough to make the idea work all by itself. The stamped foliage (from the new "Just Believe" stamp set) cardstock piece is adhered to the mat with Dimensionals to really make it pop.

This project also uses the "Happy Birthday" from the new "Perfect Punches" stamp set as well as the new self-adhesive Pearls and the "Vintage Wallpaper" embossing folder to use in the Big Shot. At first glance I wasn't sure this folder design was going to be something I liked because it seemed a bit "chunky" for my taste, but then I turned my embossed piece over and I was in love! That's the great thing about these folders--it's like two folders in one! If you look closely at the samples below, you can see that the design in first one is raised (typically called "embossed") and in the second one, the design is "sunken" ("debossed").

I used the "debossed" version for my card because the look seemed more subtle and appropriate for this design.

The second Open House project uses the new "Morning Cup" stamp set, my current favorite new set. I wanted to share an additional way to use the clear mount blocks and the scale of this set was perfect!

If you take a look at the "shadow" surrounding the tea cups or percolator, you might notice that we don't really have a stamp like that. BUT if you take the clear "C" block, stamp it on the Marina Mist stamp pad (just the block, with no stamp attached!), stamp the block off on scrap paper once, and then go to your cardstock to stamp the shadow, that's the image you'll get! Kinda cool, huh?

The base of this card is "Crumb Cake" (formerly known as Kraft), and the mat behind the center image is Marina Mist. This project also uses the Dotted Scallop Ribbon punch and Marina Mist taffeta ribbon in the new 1/8" variety. The images were colored in with Blender Pen and markers (Marina Mist, Real Red, Pumpkin Pie, and Always Artichoke). Everyone chose the stamps they liked and whether to use Pumpkin or Red with the punch. The inside of the card got a bit of embellishment courtesy of the coordinating "Take a Sip" wheel, a collection of coffee mugs and tea cups.

I know both the stamp set and wheel are going to get lots of personal attention from me. The images are so cheery and comforting at the same time. And as I'm rarely more than an arm's length away from my main vice, it's perfect! Speaking of which, it's time for a refill!! Hope you get some stamping time in this week!


Monday, July 19, 2010

That "New" Demo Feeling. . .

Little by little, I'm getting to all the areas in my craft room that need to be switched over to the new Stampin' Up! Color Collections. When I finally made a list (so I could feel like I was making some progress!), all the areas that needed an overhaul were pretty amazing. Cardstock, pads, markers, cartridges, spots, reinkers, ribbons, embellishments. . . . No wonder I was feeling a little overwhelmed!

Of course, someone who shall not be named who lives under this same roof might make the comment that if I didn't have so much stuff, there wouldn't be. . . . Yeah, yeah, we're not even going to go there, Mr. I-have-so-many-different-electronic-gizmos-I-don't-know-which-cable-is-which! It's MY stuff and I NEED ALL OF IT!

So anyway, back to the project. As I've been working on swaps and things, I've found myself floundering a bit, not knowing quite where a particular color belongs. Is Regal Rose really a "Bright" now? Then shouldn't we rename it "Bright Rose?" I feel like I did when I was brand new to Stampin' Up! Back then I had everything labeled BB, SS, RR, or EE, depending on which color family it belonged to, and here, 10 years later, I'm finding that I need to do the exact same thing so that I can learn that my ol' EE friend, Old Olive, is now a Brights guy.

I started with my ink pad collection, making labels for the ends of the pads on the computer. There are numerous ways to organize these things, but I decided that I would store my pads and markers in their color collections, alphabetically by color name. Brights pads are on the first two shelves, Neutrals on the next two, then Subtles and Regals.

When I typed out the labels, I had to also include the name of the collection so I will keep everything straight while I adjust to the new system. I also penned in a letter and number to help keep them in alphabetical order. I know, a bit much, but my brain seems to need this much organization.

My markers, despite several color updates over the years, have always lived in my original marker box, the one with the insert that has the colors listed on the side rather than the back of the box like they are now. I can see it from my desk chair and I'm used to it. Of course it was a major pain to re-do this because I needed to cut samples of each color and stick them to the box, but the now-retired triple arrow punch actually made this a little easier. One of the arrow parts was the exact width I needed. I did this over the course of a few days, so it didn't get too tedious.

When I went through my ink cartridges, I was really surprised at how many cartridges I had in colors that were no longer current. I saved a lot of them, but there were a few that I knew I'd probably never need again, so it was off to the kitchen sink for them! Ten minutes under a stream of cold water (or until the water coming out of the cartridge runs clear), paper towel and some drying time, and voila! Cartridges ready for a new life!!

I've been doing this for a number of years because I'd much rather buy a new stamp set or another roll of ribbon than a new ink cartridge. It works very well! I just make sure to grab a "pre-used" cartridge of similar color, in case there's some residual ink in there. I don't think I'd grab a previously-red cartridge and plan on putting a blue or green in there, but one of those cartridges in the picture was probably Forest Foliage in its previous life, and it's just waiting to become Wild Wasabi or maybe Early Espresso.

So anyway, that's what I've been doing to fill up any spare time I might find. (I'm also unmounting a some retired stamp sets, but that's a story for another day.) As usual, there are all sorts of projects going on here. Melissa's having a party for her 16th birthday, I'm prepping for my New Catalog Open House this coming Friday (11 AM-7PM--if you're in the area, please stop in!) and we just finished several weeks of involvement with the musical our high school puts on every summer.

I got to "play" a bit while wrapping the gift cards for the directors of the play, making some boxes out of cardstock I decorated using My Digital Studio. The boxes look like they've been wrapped with Designer Series Paper, but because I wanted the boxes to be a bit more sturdy, I printed the designs onto the cardstock and went from there. It's always fun to "have" to use my "toys" when working on an outside project.

Hope you're getting some time to play with your toys too--and like I said, if you're in my area, please stop in Friday to see lots of the new toys we have in the new catalog. I'd love to see you!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

New! New! New! Can there be too much?

Seems like there's been an overload of "new" stuff in my life the last few weeks! And as exciting as new stuff can be, whoa! I think I'm going to need a little time to adjust to it all!!

Besides all the cool new stamping stuff that we'll all have to play with soon, everyone in my household has been evolving too, and I'm not sure I'm doing a very good job at keeping pace with it all!

My husband took a new position within his company several weeks ago, and that's changed the routine around here some. Just when I thought he couldn't possibly travel more, yeah, well, let's just say we're going to be rollin' in frequent flyer points. And I've been doing a little work for him to help until things settle down, which has seriously cut into my already-lacking stamping time!! Then the school year ended, my son left for Badger Boys State, and my daughter started driver's ed., all about the same time those blasted AARP envelopes with MY name on them starting arriving in the mailbox--talk about a whammy of a week THAT was!

Luckily for me, that "big birthday" thing was relatively easy to take because I was showered with cards (many of them hand-stamped!), flowers and surprises (none involving black balloons! Thank you! Thank you!!) for days! Now, sending the son away "to college" for a week--that was a little tougher. I'm just not used to NOT having all the offspring in the nest at night. But he had a good time, and I think he appreciates home-cooked meals, clean laundry and air conditioning a whole lot more this week.

So, now, the only thing I have to work at managing a little more effectively is all this new stamping stuff on the horizon! I've been reorganizing my craft room little by little, switching out retiring colors and accessories with the exciting new ones. I love new catalog time, but I have to admit that both Melissa and I are going to need a few weeks before we're not doing a double-take every time we open the "Brights" scrap drawer and see Old Olive and Pumpkin Pie staring us in the face!! I have the updated charts posted in a couple of places to help us with the transition. And I've been working on swaps to trade with other demos, which helps to train my old brain a bit faster.

This is one of my swaps, using a Level One Hostess set called "Because I Care."

I had just finished teaching my stamp clubs the "Black Magic" technique when this preorder set arrived and I was pleased with how well the technique worked with this hydrangea stamp.

All you need to do is stamp an image onto black cardstock with white craft ink, allow it to dry very well (overnight in humid weather--or try your heat tool), and then use colored pencils to color over the white stamping. (I used my Stampin' Up Watercolor Pencils and was pleased with how the colors coordinated with the Garden Green and Concord Crush cardstock.) The final step is to add highlights with a white gel pen.

And this card uses what I think is (so far) my "favorite-est" new catalog thing--the 1/8" Taffeta ribbon. It's going to be available in 13 colors, and I have a feeling every one of them will be in my drawer by the end of summer. It's fun to have a new width of ribbon to play with.

Okay--gotta scoot off to the post office with this swap and another one I've been working on. And then it's time to jump in, full-steam-ahead, with final prep for the "Aloha" party this Friday night. If you haven't RSVP'd yet, make sure to shoot me an email. We always have a blast at this!

Happy First Day of Summer!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Losin' my marbles. . .

May always seems to be (another) one of those months where, after you turn to the new calendar page, it's just "Hang on to your hat, folks, here we go!" There are so many end-of-the-school-year things going on that some days I don't know if we're coming or going. . . it feels like I'm losing my marbles!! So when it came to choosing the technique to focus on with my stamp clubs this month, well, that was easy! Rolling marbles technique, of course!!
The background piece on this card is made by putting a few regular ol' marbles in a plastic stamp box, adding a few drops of reinker, shaking the box to distribute the ink evenly among the marbles, and then adhering a piece of cardstock to the inside lid of the box with removeable double-stick tape. Tip the box up side down and (this is the fun part!) roll the marbles over the cardstock to make the "design." To get the second color, we used a second box, although you could simply add two different colors to the first box if you weren't planning on doing too many sheets. If we had only used one box in stamp club, by the time we were through the colors would have turned muddy from all the use.

I'm definitely getting my use out of the new "Birthday Block" stamp that is in the A la Carte section in the back of the new Summer Mini Catalog! Besides using it for this club design, I used it for the swaps I was in (you should see my newest swap board--it's simply GORGEOUS!!) and have more projects planned for next month. We used a version of the spotlighting technique, stamping on Pumpkin Pie cardstock and cutting out a couple words to layer over the Bermuda Bay stamped piece, and a little marker work to quickly dress this focal point piece.

A criss-cross of Bermuda dotted grosgrain and Pumpkin 1/4" grosgrain and we called it done--but I'm sure everyone wanted to go back and play with the marbles again!!

Here's hoping you don't go losing your marbles--at least until you've had a chance to try this technique! Happy stamping!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

There's a television commercial that's been airing the last couple weeks for one of those card companies, where the grown daughter leaves after a nice Mother's Day visit, and then the mother goes to add this year's card to the stack of cards she's collected from years gone by, taking time to look at each one of them, crayon signatures and all.

Of course, I'm always about in a puddle by the time all those kind of commercials are done (That Maxwell House commercial at Christmas! Don't get me started!!), and even though I'm not 100% sure who the card commercial was sponsored by, the idea of "taking back" all of the Mother's Day cards I've received from the kids is a great one! Right now, they're sprinkled in between dinosaur projects, perfect math papers and book reports. Sounds like a good excuse to pretty up a box too! Of course, it's going to take two weeks to find all of them, because I'll be looking at all the dinosaur projects, perfect math papers and book reports along the way! Ah, yes, despite all the long days and short, short years, being a mom has got to be one of the "bestest" things. (Sh-h-h! Don't tell my kids!)

And of course, I wouldn't be able to say any of that, or SURVIVED half of it without my dear, special Mom! Although we haven't lived in the same town for the last half of my years, always-hour-long, sometimes-daily phone conversations have gotten me through many a crisis. With those little-kid fevers and school issues almost behind me, now those hour-long calls are sometimes completely about stamping! (You knew I'd eventually get this turned around to stamping, didn't you!)

The card I have to share today is a version of the one I designed for my mom's Mother's Day card. My mom has always sewn, taught me to sew, and long before our phone calls mentioned hoarding rubber stamp stuff, we were doing our best with fabric! For her card, I wanted something that would look like pretty floral fabric and the "Joseph's Coat Inside Out" technique (ala the wonderful Jan Tink) worked nicely for that.

Of course, my mom's card didn't say "Thinking of You," but after making her card, I liked the color combination so much (Apricot Appeal, Regal Rose and Certainly Celery) that I showed it to my stamp clubs. I used the "Very Vintage" wheel (that will hopefully make it into the new catalog in July!) for the background and then "Flower Fancy" for the embossing. Like so many stamping projects, each background piece came out just a little bit different, but equally beautiful--just like moms!

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

New Stamper Excitement--part 2

I held another "mini class" with my new stampers recently and shared 2-step stamping, heat embossing and Crystal Effects with them this time around.

This first card was sort of a warm-up, as we used Versamark and had done a little 2-step stamping the last time we met. I was excited to do this card, the idea "swiped" right from the workshop suggestions on our Stampin' Up! demo website, because I had just received this "Awash with Flowers" stamp set the day before. (This was the sneak peek set that was available in April, and will be available again in July when the new catalog comes out.)

A couple of the many flowers in the set are stamped on the Kraft (soon to be known as Crumb Cake) card base with Versamark. Then the main flower is stamped with More Mustard (stamped off for the "fill in" stamp) and Old Olive on a scalloped "Hug" note. Crystal Effects covers the "filled in" portions of the flower and is dusted with a sprinkle of Dazzling Diamonds glitter. Old Olive 5/8" grosgrain ribbon is wrapped around a piece of More Mustard cardstock and added to the card base with Dimensionals.

The second card we did featured a card base cut with the Scalloped Square die and the Big Shot. (One of the ladies was so excited about this that she NEEDED a Big Shot that day! Those of us who are BS owners know JUST how she felt!)

After using the Embossing Buddy, the flowers and verse (from Fifth Avenue Floral) were stamped in Versamark, covered with black embossing powder, heated, and then colored using Pastels (chalk) and daubers. The ladies had the option of adding a little Crystal Effects to the centers of the flowers after they were colored. Quick and simple, and it used products that some of the ladies had ordered last time (when we used the Pastels with a Blender Pen). I like to show new ways to use items that I know people already have so they can see how versatile SU products are.

Don't know when we'll have time to schedule another mini-class, but they've been so much fun I hope it's soon.
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