Take Note

I just completed a project for the daughter of family friends, who is pregnant and due at the end of this month. She and her husband recently announced that their unborn baby, a boy, will most likely need open heart surgery soon after birth. They will need to travel hundreds of miles to a Children’s Hospital, where she will deliver and their baby will receive the specialized care he needs.

I felt such an instant connection to their situation, not only because their story tugged at my heart strings, but also because I have been on both sides of part of the experience ahead of them. Not only was I an NICU nurse for 10 years, but our son was born 5 1/2 weeks early and required some special care in the beginning. I felt like having been on both sides of this life event gave me a unique perspective and opportunity to do/make something for this couple that might make a difference in the coming weeks. But what? It was actually in thinking back on my experiences that I was able to draw some inspiration, and I came up with the idea of a notebook. I know that their sweet baby’s care team is going to be giving them lots of information and updates, and it’s going to be important for them to have a place to keep track of all the changes. I wasn’t prepared when our son was born, and, looking back, I would have benefited from a notebook. As it was, I was documenting his information on the back of hospital menus, card envelopes, etc.

In thinking further about the notebook, I decided that a composition notebook would be the perfect choice. It has plenty of pages without being too bulky, and it’s the perfect size for putting in a bag or keeping out by the phone. Even more perfect is the fact that I had several composition notebooks in my supply closet, so out one came, and off to work I went to “dress” this book up for a very important job.

And this notebook was going to need lots of help dressing for success!! It’s about as far from sweet and charming as it could be! So I pulled out lots of papers and supplies, and here is the design concept I came up with:

a baby blue and yellow color scheme with lots of white scalloped accents, mama and baby elephants, sweet bitty dot yellow ribbon, and tiny navy hearts. This project is already taking on so much charm, and all I’ve done is gather everything in one place! I love putting all of the design elements together at the beginning of a project, and I know that if I get excited about how everything looks as is, that I’m going to love the finished product. I have a good feeling about this project, as this grouping just makes me smile!

I have altered/covered several other composition notebooks, but that was several years ago. I keep a file folder for certain projects, and my notes on covering a notebook said to cover the inside front and back covers first, before tackling the outside covers. It made trimming the inside covers easier. So, that’s what I did–I covered the inside covers first; followed by the outside covers. I used the solid baby blue paper on all 4 covers, and then used the yellow plaid paper for the spine of the book. Once that was done, the real fun began adding on all of the decorative elements!

Enough talking; let’s get to the pictures! I’ll start with the before and after of the front cover:

This is quite a transformation, isn’t it! I kept the decorative elements to a minimum, as I wanted the elephants to be the main focus. The elephants are so sweet, and having their trunks joined together with the tiny heart above helps to communicate that special bond between a mother and her baby. I also kept all of the decorations towards the bottom of the book to allow for someone to hold the book more in the middle.

Let’s continue the tour with the inside front cover, as this is probably my favorite page:

I made two little journal cards for the baby’s name and all of his birth information that the parents can fill in. I kept the color scheme the same, and used a combination of stamps, die cuts, and computer-generated words. I love the sentiment “born to be loved”, and I bought that stamp set specifically for that sentiment. It’s perfect for this project, and I was so excited to be able to use it!

Next we move on to the inside back cover. I made a pocket, which I thought might come in handy. I changed the position of the white scalloped border from extending beyond the edge of the yellow paper to on top of the paper. This way it won’t interfere with putting things in the pocket. I originally was going to use the word “stuff” on the pocket, but after seeing this project come to life, this book deserved something classier. So I changed the word to ETC., which I liked better–plus it gave me an opportunity to use a heart for the period. It will always and forever be about the little details for me!

Lastly, the back cover, which I kept very basic, as this is the part of the book that will be laying on flat surfaces. This cover might be basic, but it’s not plain, thanks to the white scalloped border.

There are a few additional accessories that I will be sending along with the notebook. I covered a binder clip with paper and added some ribbon to one of the clips. It will be helpful in marking the page and keeping the book closed. The silver clip is a pen clip. It could be clipped to the top or the side of the front cover. I also made one additional journal card to document when the baby arrives home–I envisioned the card going on the back cover, but didn’t want to put anything there yet. So, I have added double-sided tape to the back, and the parents can remove the protective film and place it where they want it.

This concludes the tour of the notebook, but…….I have one more thing to show you:

Since I had all of the supplies out, I decided to make some notecards as well. I wanted them to be very versatile, so they are sentiment free and blank inside. I plan to include the stamps with the cards, as well.

I have loved working on this project–it is so satisfying to create something that you know is meaningful and will make a difference for the recipients. It is for this exact reason that I continue paper crafting.

Thank you for letting me share this project with you, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars.”

-C-

Hello Autumn!

Happy First Day of Fall! As if on cue, I noticed this morning that some of the leaves in my yard have already started to change colors.

I’m somewhat surprised to see such vibrant colors–we have had a very dry summer and I wasn’t sure we’d see much color change at all. Seeing these trees come alive in my own yard gives me hope that we will have a colorful Fall season in spite of the drought, which would certainly boost my spirits. There is nothing like Fall in New England!

Just as the season is changing outside, it is also changing in my craft room. I spent part of this past weekend getting out all of my Fall stamp sets and supplies, and it was like old home week. I have lots of favorite sets, and the more I saw, the more excited and impatient I got to start designing new Fall projects! I made my first project yesterday–a card–and I thought I would share it with you.

I chose to work with a very bold and different for me color palette:

I have seen this color combination more and more recently on all sorts of home decor items, and I think it’s really striking. I love adding in some blue with my fall projects, but I have never thought of adding in turquoise, so this will be fun to try.

This series of pictures will show you how this card came together:

Hello Autumn indeed! The card base ended up being the most important element on this card, as it provides the contrast and subtle interest to allow the pumpkins and lettering to stand out. I was able to balance the bold colors with some softness and charm by bringing in the scalloped edge of the vanilla panel, and adding the sweet, little “hello” tag. The tag is my favorite part of this card–I love adding little tags to my projects!

I plan to spend the rest of today decorating the house for Fall, and this card will be a great addition to one of our displays. Thanks for stopping by, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C-

“Beauty without Bulk”

One aspect of card making that I am very conscious of, and constantly struggle with, is how to add visual interest without adding extra bulk or weight, especially if the card is going to be mailed. I call it the “beauty without bulk” dilemma. I recently made a card which showcases one of my favorite solutions to this dilemma–adding a decorative edge to a card stock layer. The card stock edge functions as an embellishment, and adds visual appeal without increased bulk. Talk about a win-win situation!

Let’s take a look at the card, and I’ll explain further:Finished card front_1

I wanted this card to have a soft, vintage look, and I wanted the flowers to be the main focal point. With so much white space surrounding the floral image, I needed to bring in embellishments that would take up a good portion of that space, without detracting from the flowers. Enter patterned paper. The paper acts as an embellishment, and the decorative edges help maintain the soft, vintage feel I was trying to accomplish.

The decorative edge at the top of the card was made by using an edger die. I have several different edger dies, and here is what they look like:

Edger dies_1

Each different edge pattern comes in a set of two dies; one for portrait orientation, and one for landscape orientation. The dies pictured above are all portrait orientation, and I used the middle die on my card.

The other decorative edge in the bottom left-hand corner of the card was made by simply tearing a piece of patterned paper. It’s one of the first paper techniques I learned, and I use it quite frequently, as I love the worn, vintage look it gives to my cards. I especially love adding torn pieces of newsprint to one of the upper corners of my cards to enhance the vintage feel.

There are several other ways you can cut a decorative edge to paper, such as decorative-edged scissors (i.e. pinking shears), hand-held paper punches, and scoring. Scoring creates a pattern of lines in the card stock, as shown on this card:

Torn paper and scoring example_1

Remember how I mentioned I like to use torn pieces of newsprint in one of the upper corners of my cards to add a vintage touch? Take a look at the upper left-hand corner of this card. It’s amazing how such a small torn piece of newsprint can add so much.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my mini tutorial on one of my favorite ways to solve the “beauty without bulk” dilemma. Thanks for stopping by today. Have a wonderful weekend, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet, / the sand be your seat, / and your friends out-number the stars.”

-C-

 

Song Lyrics and a Computer

New Stamp Set and Dies_1

Stampin’ Up! recently released their 2015 Holiday catalog, and the minute I saw this stamp set and coordinating dies, I knew I had to have it. Not only was I excited about the possibility of using the dies to create all sorts of layered scenes, but I was also excited that the dies were sized such that they could be used on tags as well as cards. I also liked how the sentiments in the stamp set were curved to follow the lines of the dies.

My favorite part about this set is the horse-drawn sleigh die, and the first thing that came to mind when I saw it was the song “Over The River And Through The Woods”. I think these song lyrics and a horse-drawn sleigh scene were meant to go together on a card, so I could hardly wait to make that happen. If you look at the stamp set, however, you will notice that these song lyrics are not one of the sentiment options offered. Does that mean the game is over? Hardly. I’m going to show you how I made the card I pictured in my mind a reality by creating the song lyrics on the computer.

The key to success, I’ve found, is choosing the right card stock. The weight of the card stock is important because it’s going to be going through your printer. You want a card stock that is lightweight and flexible enough to be accepted by the printer. The color of the card stock is also important because you need to be able to see through it when holding it up to the light. So, I’ve found that using white, cream, or a light pastel color are the best options.

The first step is to prepare your card front or project to the extent that you can, so that you can see exactly where you want your sentiment to go.

Prepare card front_1

Since the focal point of my card was the scene layers, I needed to cut them out and place them on the card panel, so I could determine what space was left for the sentiment. Once you have a general sense of where your sentiment is going to go, it’s time to head to the computer. As a side note, in order to get the trees on the lefthand side of the paper for the top layer, I just turned the paper over after I cut it.

The second step is to select a font and font size, and type out a sample of your sentiment.   It’s important to take the time to select a font that matches the style of the project you are working on. Having your project planned out and somewhat prepared helps you determine what font size to use, as you have a general idea of how large or small a space you have to work with. For my card, I knew I wanted to use a larger font size to help take up some of that white space at the top of the card.

Once you have your font style and size selected, it’s time to type out a sample of your sentiment. I use Microsoft Office Word, and I always align the wording in the center of the paper. I type all drafts in black ink, as it shows up the best underneath card stock when held up to light. Once I am satisfied with my sample, then I’ll change the color, if needed. It takes a lot of time and trial and error to get everything just the way you want it, so be patient. I print each draft that I type, and place the card stock over the draft and hold it up to the light to check for size and placement.

Determine Placement by Holding up to Light_1

When you are satisfied with your typed sample, and have the card stock panel placed just where you want it, use scotch tape to tape the card stock panel to the copy paper and mark all four corners of the card stock with a pencil. The pencil marks will help with paper placement, should you need to make multiple copies of the sentiment. I have made my marks with a marker in this sample for better visualization.

Tape & mark paper position_1

You are now ready to print a trial onto the card stock. All you need to do is turn the copy paper over, and place it in the paper tray making sure that the card stock panel is at the top of the tray.

Print sample on cardstock_1

After the sample was printed, I placed my scene layers back on the card stock panel to get a sense of what the card front was going to look like.

Verify position by placing layers_1

Perfect! If you’re satisfied with everything, you can remove the scotch tape from the card stock panel only; leave the scotch tape on the copy paper. If you only need one copy printed, you can now finish your card. If you need to print more copies, just place another card stock panel where your pencil marks are; use the same pieces of tape on the copy paper to hold the card stock down; and print. Continue these same three steps to print the remainder of copies needed.

Once all of your printing is done, set the copy paper aside, and finish your card.

Completed SU card_1

Since “Over The River And Through The Woods” is a Thanksgiving song, I wanted to use a fall color scheme. I also wanted the card to have a down home, country feel, so my embellishments included a button and some lace. Here’s a close up of the embellishment:

SU Embellishment close up_1

This is the first time I’ve tried using a short piece of lace underneath an embellishment like the banners, and I know I’ll be doing this a lot more. I love how such a small piece of lace can add so much charm.

Once I was done with this card, I ended up cutting more scene layers out of other patterned paper, and I made three more versions of this card.

Whole group of cards_1

I’m so happy with how these cards turned out; they ended up looking exactly like what I had pictured in my mind. That doesn’t always happen! The best part was that I was able to increase the versatility of this stamp and die set by creating a sentiment on the computer. It’s always fun to get more bang for your buck!

As for the copy paper I used, I documented all of the specific details and measurements I used to create this card, and I’ve saved it in a file. That way, I can come back to this paper at any point in the future and have all of the information I need to recreate the same card.

Better instruction sheet_1

Well, that wraps it up for me today. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet, / the sand be your seat, / and your friends out-number the stars.”

-C-

 

 

 

 

 

Threads of Gold

I saw this card several days ago, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it:

Joy & Peace Wreath Card

I liked everything about the layout. I liked the burgundy paper at the bottom of the card, and more specifically, I liked the large plaid pattern, the edging, and the contrast it gave to the white background. I also really liked the wooden star–it’s so tiny, and yet it makes a huge impact on this card.

I couldn’t wait to try this layout today, and while I don’t have any wooden stars, I do have some wooden leaves, so that set the theme for my card. I chose my color scheme, gathered my papers and ink, and let the creativity begin.

I started with a Very Vanilla card base, and then I cut the patterned paper for the bottom and added the wooden leaf. I laid out different leaf dies until I found the right size and set the die on the card for placement.

Beginning of card_1

Next I stamped the leaf that coordinates with this die, and quickly watercolored the design centers. I cut the leaf shape out with the die, and also stamped the sentiment in the upper right corner.

Card step 2_1

The card was really beginning to come together, but I needed to fill in some of the white space around the leaf. I ended up stamping some paint splatters behind it, and, while that certainly helped, I still felt like the card needed something more.

Card step 3_1

I tried using all kinds of things behind the leaf–linen thread, vintage lace, part of a doily–and I also tried a gold button on the stem. Nothing was working for me; all of the above options either looked too heavy or looked odd and out of place. I then tried bunching up some fine gold thread, and that was it–that’s what this card needed!

Gold thread_1

The gold thread added the extra visual interest I was looking for without being heavy, and the messy bunch gave the impression of movement, like a gusty wind. I attached the leaf over the thread with dimensionals, and here is the finished card:

Finished card on tray_1

I’m quite pleased with how this card turned out, and I owe it all to threads of gold. Have a wonderful weekend, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet, / the sand be your seat, / and your friends out number the stars.”

-C-

 

 

My “Joy of Stamping” Notebook to the Rescue

I keep a notebook of my original card layout designs. It’s a black composition notebook, so I truly do have a “little black book”. I actually call it my “Joy of Stamping” notebook, as it is basically a cookbook for cards, with very detailed step-by-step recipes for creating all of my original designs. This book is invaluable to me! Designing a card front is very labor intensive, so it’s wonderful to be able to refer to my tried and true designs when I am running short on time. Today is just such an occasion, as I not only need to make, but also mail several different kinds of cards. My “Joy of Stamping” notebook comes to the rescue yet again!

I need to make both a congratulations card and a birthday card, so my layout has to be very versatile. I found just what I was looking for, and with the design recipe in hand, I got right to work.

The layout I chose uses a cover plate, which is one of my favorite time-saving tools. A cover plate is a steel die that creates a design large enough to cover a good portion of a card front, thereby eliminating the need for elaborate embellishments. Since I’m sure you now know exactly what I’m talking about, I’m including a picture of the horizontal stripes cover plate I will be using today:

cover plate die_1

Now you’ve got it, right? Maybe a picture of the design on a card front will help:

cover plate on paper_1

Ah, much better! The cover plate pattern takes up so much space on a card front that, essentially, your project is half done just by using it. This is a wonderful thing when you’re crunched for time.

The congratulations and birthday cards came together quickly, such that I was even able to make a baby card. Take a look at my happy little trio of cards:

trio of cards_1

Simply by changing the color scheme, along with the main focal point image, the sentiment, and another coordinating design element, I was able to create three different cards all with the same basic layout. Now let’s get up close and personal with each card:

completed congrats card_1

First, the congratulations card. I knew that I wanted to use a star as my main focal point, and when you combined that with the horizontal striped cover plate, the colors and the nautical stars and strips theme just fell into place.

completed birthday card #2_1

Next up is the birthday card. My favorite summer color combination is turquoise, orange and yellow, and when you pair those colors with the flip-flops, you end up with a bright, summer birthday card. I even carried the three colors over to the inside sentiment by coloring each line of the sentiment with a different marker.

IMG_0036_1

I think the baby card is my favorite. I love everything about it–the colors, the rubber duckies, and the little yellow hearts everywhere. I’m happy I made the decision to change the layout slightly by adding more duckies, and switching the position of the sentiment and the other design element.

Now it’s time to write these cards out and get them to the post office. Thanks for stopping by today, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet, / the sand be your seat, / and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C