Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Blossom of Leaves

As soon as I noticed the flower on this pin (lotus? water lily?), I had to play with the idea. Out came Papertrey's Beautiful Blooms II, and the three leaves in the set became petals.

Soft, pretty, watery shades of greenish pretty! A little sparkle of rhinestone and shimmer of a silver border, and a birthday card was born.

If you're lucky enough to carve out some stamping time this weekend, try searching through Pinterest for some small image you can duplicate. It's fun!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,


stamps: Papertrey Beautiful Blooms II and Birthday Basics
ink: Hero Arts pool, mint julep, intense black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue, rhinestone, silver metallic marker

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Quick Thanks

Just a quick post tonight. I whipped up these three thank-you cards in no time and love how they turned out!

The only variation is color, but the crispness of the white and the warmth of the olive, sienna, and orange inks works so well.

At least, I think so!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts Antique Engravings, Clearly Besotted A Little Sentimental
ink: Archival various, Hero Arts cup of joe
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Follow Through

First of all, thank you for the comments and emails regarding yesterday's post. Your prayers and comforting wishes are very much appreciated. Funeral arrangements are underway, and I truly hope the service will provide comfort to all of us who are missing him. Several people today during Bible study shared funny stories about this very quiet, gentle person, and so in the spirit of his humor, I'm going for amusing in tonight's post.

Pat McCleary, please email me at susanraihala at roadrunner dot com.

Now, for my new resolution, starting now and not on New Year's Day, because we all know that no one sticks with New Year's resolutions.

Often, I make cards "just because." Sometimes, though, as with birthday cards for my family and close friends, I make a card for a specific person, with their preferences and interests and age and gender identity in mind.

Anyway, when making a card for a specific person, I'd like to do more than just make the card. I'd like to follow through with a coordinating envelope to give them the full Monty.

So to speak.

Anyway, (again), today's card is for a very specific person so I followed through.

Card Size 3.75" x 7.25"

The person receiving this card loves all things lizard. The spiral gecko stamp has a copyright date of 2002 on it. I've had it about that long. It's adorable, and mustard, teal, and sienna were picked with the recipient in mind. The three squares needed a little something. Hence, the bling.

Because (let's say it together) "BLING MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER."

Well, almost everything.

My first instinct was to put tiny rhinestones on the geckos' eyes, but they would have lined up too neatly across the card. Bling arranged in a visual triangle keeps the human eye moving around the card and adds a dynamic quality I like. The geckos' eyes don't move because that would be creepy.

By the way, the grammar checker in Blogger doesn't like my plural possessives. Don't trust grammar checker. It's a conspiracy.

The envelope was stamped with lines and a saying from Simon Says Stamp's Envelope Sentiments set, which is very versatile, but I've noticed the tiny words break easily. Pieces of the letters have broken off the stamps, probably because I clean my stamps on damp washcloths a bit too vigorously. So be careful if you buy the set.

And that's my new resolution: follow through on the little envelopes. I'm also stamping the back of cards with a "Hand stamped by" stamp and signing them. On this card, I stamped a happy birthday sentiment inside since there wasn't room for it on the outside.

Do you embellish your envelopes? Do you decorate them all the time, sometimes, never? How? Do you sign the backs of your cards? Curious minds and all that.

stamps: Rubber Stampede spiral gecko (c. 2002!), Simon Says Stamp Envelope Sentiments
ink: Archival saffron, paradise teal, sienna
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, dimensionals, square punch

Monday, November 28, 2016


Y'all, I'm sad tonight. One of our Stephen Ministers, who completed his training in April, passed away today of a heart attack. We got the news this evening at our Stephen Ministry meeting. This man sang in our choir, attended Bible study with me, folded the church bulletins every Friday. Our other Stephen Leader and I trained him in Stephen Ministry, and through that fifty hours of class time I came to know his quiet humor and saw the depth of his compassion for people and love for Jesus.

We will miss him so much, but my heart hurts most for his wife and son.

So it's late as I type this, and I wondered what to post. Scrolling through my card photos, I found this Christmas card that would not have made it to the blog under normal circumstances. It's an odd one, made with a Thanksgiving set from Papertrey (Fall Elegance), but it speaks to me tonight.

Advent, this time of preparation and waiting for the birth of Jesus, has four themes, one for each Sunday of the season: peace, joy, love, and hope.


That little baby born so long ago brought the hope of life eternal in God's presence to all of us...a hope made manifest with His blood shed on the cross. My friend lived in that hope, and now he is joyfully singing in heaven's choir, with his gorgeous Irish tenor.

In this season when we focus so much on joy, so much on gifts and giving and getting and merriment, remember to offer hope to those who are grieving. Joy, well, they can't relate to that, but hope...that's what we all need. No matter what.

Peace, joy, love, and most of all hope to you,

Sunday, November 27, 2016

An Easy Technique...Beause That's the Only Kind I Do

I suspect my gray-haired avatar doesn't pop to mind when you think "technique," but easy techniques always grab my attention. Jennifer McGuire first introduced me to the technique I'm spotlighting today.

Don't you like how I worded that last sentence? Makes it sound like Jennifer and I are best buds, getting together to stamp all the time, right? Yeah, no. I'd be way too intimidated to stamp anywhere near her. She's a professional, while I putter obsessively in my well-lit basement nook, muttering to myself in my pajamas.

I don't do badly for all that, but if you want to see a professional blog, check out hers. No comparison. So many pretty videos!!!!

Anyway, this easy and versatile technique gives meban excuse to keep some of those transparency pieces that somehow end up collecting in my craft room, usually backing from Papertrey sets that I put into CD cases.

Here's what I do. (I've shared this before, but here it is again if you missed it the first time.)

1. Put the transparency on a water-safe surface. I use my self-healing cutting mat.

2. Apply whatever medium you want to the directly from a pad, scribbled water-based markers, watercolor, Smooch, ink drops from a re-inker, watered-down acrylic paint, etc. Doesn't matter. Colors will usually end up lighter than they appear, especially with watercolor media, so opt for bright or dark colors rather than pastels. For today's cards, I scribbled dark blue and dark purple watercolor crayon on the transparency.

3. Spritz generously with water. If you want, take a brush to the mess to blend things around. That's how I dissolved the crayon fully.

4. Place a piece of cardstock or watercolor paper on top of the wet mess and press it down. I let it sit for a few seconds so the paper absorbs as much of the pigment as possible.

5. Peel the paper off the transparency, and yay! You get something like this.

6. Wipe the transparency clean to use again.

7. Make something pretty with your pretty paper after it dries. It will dry flatter if you wrap it in waxed paper and press it under weight to dry.

The first card really takes advantage of the gradation of color. I love how the soft blues and purples make the black pop and soften it at the same time. Each square was punched individually...and I kept them in order as I punched to make arranging them on cards easier.

Most of the squares obviously ended up on the first card, but some that didn't have as clear a gradation worked well in an alternating pattern to make a second card.

To make arranging the squares easier, I aligned them using a quilt ruler laid across the card. The squares are popped with dimensionals but are very close together, with maybe 1/16th of an inch between them.

Variations for this technique are long as you enjoy the unpredictable results. You could emboss the paper first, then press it onto the colorful transparency to make serendipitous resist art. Make a bunch of different colored pieces and use them for paper piecing. Use glimmer mist instead of plain water to add shimmer, or use Twinkling H2Os or Smooch for colorful shimmer built in!

You've gotta love a technique that uses stuff you already have lying around in fresh ways, so if you've never done this, give it a try. It's so much fun...and just a little messy.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Quilter's Sampler and Sentiments
ink: Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: 3/4" square punch, dimensionals, transparency, watercolor crayons, water spritzer, brush

Saturday, November 26, 2016

IC573...And Now for Something Completely Different

Y'all know I love the Inspiration Challenge at Splitcoast Stampers, and I love its host, Audrie (A.K.A. girlgeek101). She's awesome! Inspiration challenges can and should push you outside your comfort zone, get you playing around with new and different ideas, techniques, styles. It's this play--and the attendant freedom to make mistakes--that helps us grow as creative beings.

This week's challenge definitely called me out of my comfort zone, but it was so much fun! It's called Journal Art, and the challenge is to be inspired by Audrie's Pinterest board The Art of Journaling. I wanted to share the two cards I made today (even though this means two posts in one day!) because they each taught me something about design that I can't wait to share.

First up, I tried a variation on this pin, focusing on the coffee theme and spots of brown on the page.

What works: the three splatters of brown draw the eye in a nice visual triangle and connect the card base and popped panel. Also, I was able to fit my words to the space pretty well. That's sometimes harder than you think it will be (see next card!).

What doesn't work so well: the hand-lettering of the Let's. Ugh. I tried to make it bold and different (as per the inspiration photo) but it ended up too bold and too angular, although I really like how the t seems to waver a bit like the steam over the coffee cup. It really looked bad before I stamped the splatter over it, which reduced the stark black-and-white contrast.

It's been a long time since I did hand-lettering, and that lack of practice shows. More practice, and it'll look better, but the point here is that the friend for whom I made this card will totally love it. So YAY!

The second card is much more pleasing to my eye, despite one little problem (or maybe two). Check out the inspiration pin here.

Clearly the person who journaled the inspiration photo knew what she was doing...artistically, it's simply gorgeous. My version is good but could stand improvement in one area. Well, two areas.

What works: The thick-and-thin hand-drawn border around the panel fabulously echoes the thick-and-thin outline of the shell (a Hero Arts stamp from years ago). I also love how the quotation around the edge stops in the right place, saving me from writing upside down.

What doesn't work so well: Obviously my coloring and shading leaves a bit to be desired. Big surprise, given how often I color with Copics, and truly, that doesn't bother me. For my eye, the worst infraction is the way the right edge of the handwriting lines up too well. It needs to be more ragged, organic, natural. That would pull the eye toward the border quote better, but instead there's a grand canyon divide that bosses the eye around like a bully. "Thou shall not move easily from here to there," it seems to say. Note how the writing in the inspiration photo serves that unifying purpose? Yeah, that. I didn't do that.

Still, despite their flaws, these two cards represent stretching and experimenting...just what we should do with inspiration challenges. In the end, the flaws don't matter; it's the attempt that matters, and that's why I'm so excited to share these two cards.

Many people fear inspiration challenges and avoid them for fear of failure. Hopefully, by sharing my awkward attempts, you'll feel encouraged to give it a go. Loosen up and have fun.

After all, it's only paper!

Mercy, grace, peace, and love to you,

Supplies Coffee card
stamps: Tim Holtz Fresh Brewed, My Favorite Things Large Abstract Art
ink: Hero Arts intense black, sand
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: craft foam, glue, black Micron pens 

Supplies Shell Card
stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Memento black
paper: Gina K deluxe white
accessories: Copics, craft foam, black Micron pens, glue

Let the Thanks Continue

The Thanksgiving Crusade continues on for another week so don't forget to enter your thanks/Thanksgiving card over there for a chance to win a gift card to the online vendor of your choice. Many thanks to those who have already entered!

Today's card is one of several thank-you cards I made last week. This is a time of year for saying thanks, whether for Thanksgiving or for holiday presents. Today's card is not very Christmas-y except for the green, but it's layered up prettily, don't you think?

The layout of images was inspired by THIS PIN, but the multiple white layers happened sort of by accident. Without any mats, the simple image looked far too plain, but I didn't want to edge the piece with silver or gold...the white on white was--to my thinking--the best way to let that green pop off the card. The images were inked with markers, spritzed with water, and then stamped for that soft faux-watercolor effect. The many crisp white lines of the mats add contrast to the soft green with its organic, blurred curves.

Bling needs no reason or excuse.

I hope you all had a lovely week, wherever you are and whatever celebrating you did or did not do. Thanksgiving is such a lovely holiday break from commercialism, and a wonderful transition to the joys of Christmas. I decorated my house yesterday for the holidays...everything but the tree, which we will chop down next weekend.

Whatever your holiday traditions, I pray you and your family and friends find joy, hope, love, and peace in them.

stamps: Papertrey, StampinUp
ink: Hero Arts charcoal
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones, water spritzer, markers (Green galore from StampinUp and cottage green from Memento)