Tropical blue

A while back, my group of work friends decided that we should bring back magnets as souvenirs whenever one of us went on a cool vacation. Just something to bring a little fun decoration to the ubiquitous metal filing cabinet. Since I had a baby over the summer, vacations aren’t really on my horizon for a little while. So I’ve had in mind making my own cool artsy magnets for my friends.

At first the question was format. The tag dies that I have are pretty small, so I decided an Artist Trading Card (ATC) would be a good size. I picked up some watercolor paper recently, thinking that might be a preferable medium for using Distress inks.

I started by doing some drawings, first in pencil, then in Micron. I don’t think of myself as much of a line art illustrator, my preferred drawing style is more about realistic shading, but sometimes I surprise myself with some decent cartooning. Maybe I’m getting better as I get older, or maybe I’m just starting to accept that my style is somehow cutesier than I intend!  Whichever it is, I think these came out really great! I colored them with distress inks (using a paintbrush on the stamp pad) and distress markers.

After that, I started inking up the background in zones of color, and sprinkling with water.


I used the outside of a previously cut ATC as kind of a viewfinder to decide just where to die cut my four cards.  After I cut apart the four sections, but before I die cut, I used Perfect Pearls mist to add a bit of glimmer (I don’t think you can tell from the photos).


I fussy cut my three drawings (the fourth friend’s card was based on a stamped sentiment rather than a “favorite thing” drawing). Then I inked along the cut edges with the side of the brush end of a black distress marker to take care of any imperfect cutting. Do other people do that? I know some people leave a stylish white border, but I felt like that wasn’t really me. I can’t be the only person to black ink the edges, but I haven’t seen other people mention it.

The rest was a matter of stamping and gluing. I put magnetic strips on the back when all else was finished. And there we have it, four ATC magnets!

Ingredients:    Watercolor paper, Distress ink pads, Distress markers, Archival ink, Micron pen (liner), white acrylic paint, Harlequin Tim Holtz layering stamp, Perfect Pearls mist, tiny key from 7 gypsies, fastener/brad from Tim Holtz

Stamps from: Tim Holtz Visual Artistry City Central (creativity sentiment, cityscape, stars), Scrappy Cat (travel/adventure sentiments) , Flourishes (flowers, distressed flourish pattern and “be happy” sentiment), Bo Bunny (French background text)


Learning:  After doing such a vast quantity of holiday cards in such a short time, it was really refreshing to tackle something with more creative freedom.  I really enjoyed trying to capture my friends’ interests in a tiny art card.  I feel that using the watercolor paper was a big breakthrough since I have been gravitating towards wet techniques.  I love a good Clean & Simple card, but for non-card applications I am really enjoying the texture that can be achieved by layering inks, water, mists, dry-brushed paints, stamps, and so forth.  I feel like I am still finding my paper-crafting voice, but I think that this project has taken me a long way towards refining my style.


Loving:  I really feel like this project made a lot of things “click” for me!  I can’t wait to do more artsy ATCs, they are such a fun size!  Also, I feel like for the first time, I got some of these cool Tim Holtz techniques to really work for me.  I really enjoyed the watercoloring with the Distress inks and markers.  I just loved watching the colors come together!


Challenge:  Because of how well the beautiful blues turned out in my tropical vacation ATC, I feel compelled to enter this one in the “Blues” Challenge at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge blog.  I loved looking at all the design team inspiration, because blue is my favorite color!!  This one is for a coworker who plans great vacations like a skilled travel agent.  I feel like I really nailed that tropical turquoise blue.  I hope it inspires her to dream of the next great destination!


Card for a gamer

For a friend’s birthday, I decided I needed card inspiration. I haven’t done any non-holiday cards yet in my recent plunge into paper arts, and I knew I wanted them to be more sophisticated than the ones I made when I dabbled in birthday cardmaking ten years ago.

I turned to the latest sketch from Mojo Monday – Round or Square. But then my immediate thought was ‘oh, I’m in a hurry, I don’t want to mess with a custom envelope too!’ My next thought was ‘ack! But putting in the extra effort is what cardmaking is all about. If I didn’t want to make it special with effort, I could just go to the drugstore’,

So that was my mental self-correction dialogue. After that I set to work to make a cool, masculine card using the square sketch.


Ingredients: The base was Tim Holtz Lost & Found paper stash, the tiny cards and blue pattern were something I manipulated based on stock imagery and had leftover from a previous project, the torn card – again left from a previous project – was made with the Card Faces Texture Trades embossing folder, Alterations ATC die and Distress ink, the stamps are Flourishes and Martha Stewart, the diamond pattern paper is from a DCWV mat stack.

Learning: I need more ribbon options. Last night I was telling myself that less dimensional seemed more masculine, but in the light of day I see that I was just kidding myself to deal with the fact that I didn’t like my ribbon options.

Loving: I’m really excited about how all the bits came together from different previous projects. I feel like this really validates my keeping of random bits from previous projects – so many fun ways to reuse! It’s like I’m creating my own eclectic ephemera.


Game time ATC

Once again, I wasn’t fast enough to make the Wicked Wednesday ATC challenge. At least this time I knew I wouldn’t make the deadline. I think I should plan to work a day ahead for these challenges, because trying to make it happen immediately after work isn’t realistic.

I did play along anyway though, even though I am too late to link again. The challenge was “Anything Goes”, and I decided to make mine gaming themed for future inclusion in a scrapbook page about my other hobby: gaming (board games, card games, RPGs).


Ingredients: Core’dinations card stock, Distress inks, Sizzix ATC & corners die, Holtz Card Faces texture trades embossing folder, Seasonal Chit Chat stickers, old button from stash

Methods: Using two colors of card stock, I did one inking the debossed side of the embossing folder, and one inking the embossing side. I was initially hoping for a crisper image over which to use some grunge stamps, but the card stock was toothier than anticipated so further grunging wasn’t necessary.

As much as it was delightful to have a perfect sized embossing folder for an ATC, I wonder how much use I will find for the card face embossing folders. Even as a gamer, they seem a bit limiting to me for use as a texture. Kind of too symbolically loaded.


Feathered Fairy

I’m on such a roll this week, that I decided to try another challenge. Although this is an ATC challenge (an “Artist’s Trading Card”, typically 2.5″ x 3.5″ just like a playing card), I could always stick it on a card later to keep up with my holiday card-giving plans. This challenge comes from the Wicked Wednesday ATC challenge blog. I’m not even sure how I found this one, I think I was just investigating what makes an ATC. Anyway, the site was super cute, so I bookmarked it as a possible weekly challenge to enter.

The Wicked Wednesday challenge for this week is to “add a feather”. That in itself didn’t really excite me, although I knew I had a few random feathers in the stash that could certainly use a project. What got me interested in this challenge was that the featured products were “digital stamps” from a day for daisies. I had never heard of digital stamps, and maybe it’s a term they made up. But a digital stamp is basically just a black outlined image. If you do digital work, you will probably appreciate that most of the stuff comes as a PNG on a transparent background. But I’m not working much digital at home just at the moment. Anyway, the designs are whimsical and sweet without being too sweet, so I downloaded two freebies and bought a fairy image that I found irresistible.

This caused me to stumble into a couple of unexpected meatspace issues with this digital product. 1) How to treat it so that my inkjet ink won’t run when I add water based inks? And, 2) how to deal with that wonderful whimsical whispy hair since my feather-adding idea demanded that the back side at least be a raised cut-out?

My solution to difficulty #1 was that I remembered reading something about being able to directly emboss inkjet prints straight out of the printer. It worked brilliantly and was very easy. I printed off the fairy image on some expired letterhead that we use as scrap paper. The moment it was out of the printer I immediately dusted it with a super fine embossing powder. The powder stuck to the still-wet printer ink, then I shook off the excess and heated as usual. I was so impressed with how well it worked! There was a bit at the top where the printer ink seemed to run a tiny bit, but it was negligible compared to what I expected.

I wish I could attribute that idea to the correct source, but I’ve been pouring over stacks of technique books from the library, Pinterest links and blogs so much, that I can’t recall where I got the idea. It makes me wonder though: how do other people deal with “digital stamps”? Does everyone emboss their inkjet prints? Do they get toner printers? Something else? I look forward to exploring the other contributors’ work after I finish the challenge piece.

My solution to difficulty #2, was to redraw the fine details onto the background paper after cutting it out. This is ok, but since unembossed, it doesn’t have quite the texture of the original. Again, I’m interested to see what other solutions are for cut outs of detailed printables.


Materials: Lost & Found paper, Distress Ink, Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist, Micron pen, embossing powder, inkjet print of “digital stamp” from A Day For Daises, feathers, seed beads, permanent marker

ETA: sadly I didn’t check the submission deadline for this one carefully enough, and missed it by a few hours! Next time!