Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sock Monkey birthday card

A nephew has a birthday approaching that once sounded old to me. It has two fours in it, and he isn't turning eight. Not many ages sound old to me now, certainly none in the 60-range! 

When this nephew was a little boy, one of his favorite toys was a sock monkey. Everyone knows what a sock monkey is, right?

Thanksgiving was just a few days ago, and some of the talk was of days gone by. Sock monkey wasn't discussed but I thought of him this morning while looking at December's birthday list on my calendar. I decided to make a sock monkey card.

The proportions aren't perfect, this monkey is a little thick in the middle, but many of us in double digit birthdays past 20-something know that this sometimes happens. I think it occurs while we sleep.

I would have loved to found or created paper that had the look of the actual socks used to make sock monkeys, but this guy is recognizable and will hopefully bring a smile to our nephew.

He was made with Stampin' Up punches except for the oval body which is from a set of nested oval dies. I trimmed down the sides by hand and perhaps should have made him thinner (oh that it were so easy for my body!) but I liked his head this way and a thin body made him look top heavy.

The head was cut from a 1 3/4" Circle punch #119850.
Ears are the Small Oval #120908, cut in half.
The muzzle was cut from the Extra-Large Oval #119859 and trimmed to make it somewhat narrower on the top and bottom.
His mouth was done by punching a thin slice of red with the Extra-Large Oval at the edge of a sheet paper, then punching again over that edge that had the slice missing.
Arms and legs are Word Window #119857.
The tail was cut to the same width as the Word Window cut, but free handed around a circle that had been cut from the brown paper.
Eyes are from the Owl Builder punch #118074.
His hat was made with the Tree punch #135859, Word Window for the brim, and Boho Blossoms #119858 for the pompom.

The balloons were cut from the Small Oval punch with the foot part of the Owl Builder used as the balloon knots. The balloons are attached with pop dots, and a glue dot behind sock monkey's hand is holding the strings.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Jingle Cards

I have a progressive party coming up in our neighborhood, a perfect time to hand deliver our holiday greetings. I used this Sizzix die to cut the word Jingle. I didn't create the whole card with the die, just the layer to apply to card fronts. I saved the cut out word to make a second card from each cut. Small jingle bells were attached and a handwritten message finished off the inside of the cards. I originally wrote about these cards here back in September. Why did I wait until now to finish them? Don't most of us work best at the last minute?

Here are the cards, positive and negative cuts used, mostly with the same accent paper in each pair.

The bells are attached with glue dots which wouldn't make for friendly mailing, but I think the kids of the neighborhood will like them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Popping color with intensity and dimension

I made this card for my daughter-in-law's birthday. I really enjoyed coloring this and like the finished card.
I stamped the image, scanned it and then printed it twice on X-Press It paper. The image that became the under layer has hints of the Copic colors I used in the upper image. The bottom shades were done with Color Box chalk inkpads in Olive Pastel, Azurite and Bisque.
I used both blue-green and blue shades of Copic markers in the background. Originally I planned to fussy cut more than this, but I wanted more of the background color to show. I really the blue-green shade.

I ran a black marker along the cut edges of the flowers before adding dimensional dots and lining up the cut image over the full image which is matted on black and then green.
I thought it still needed a bit more something, so I added a few lines of star glaze on some of the petals and dots of clear glaze on parts of the centers.
Before matting the under layer, I tested how the colorful layer was going to look and decided to cut the bottom layer smaller. That little bit of petals overlapping the black mat adds a bit more depth. I will definitely use this idea again.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Cards (and opinions) from a shop hop

Last week I went on a three store shop hop of scrapbooking stores. I knew one store would have good projects and was hopeful for the other two but they left much to be desired, for my taste at least. The fee for this hop was $12. Each shop hopper would have 9 cards or projects at the end of this. 

The first store had very limited work space. I wouldn't hold that against them except each person needed to get up at least three time to go to another area to heat set ink on glossy paper and to emboss gold powder. My strong objection came when I was almost done with the card done on glossy paper. After stamping and heat setting the cabin image, ink from a stamp pad was smeared onto the sky and water. This image is very pale, not by design but because the ink pads weren't very juicy. The upper image of pine needles was added after coloring, heat set and then we were to turn the image over, apply a tape runner and mount this onto black card stock, then onto a card. 
See the smudges along the left side and the big one in the sky over the cabin? Also the yellow cast in the center? That is all from the dirty surface we worked on. When the woman next to me and I both encountered this, we were told to look at this as a design challenge. I don't think so. I would accept that if we had done something incorrectly, but not because their work area wasn't clean. They could have and should have offered us fresh paper to start this again. 

The other two projects from this store are below. The trees are done as directed. I finished the dove card at home, using a Peace stamp and Wow glitter embossing powder. The blue area is a sheet of blue paper under a piece of called Vertigo by Tsukineko.
The second store had a small work area too, but once seated we were fine. I was disappointed in the supplies they provided for their projects. One project was a box card design. The second card in this post is an example of box cards that I have made. The paper they used was very flimsy and unattractive. So much so, I didn't even take a photograph of it, nor did I salvage any of the embellishments.  The second card wasn't much better. It came home unassembled, but this is the layout.
Are you wondering what those circles are supposed to be? They are supposed to be ornaments.  The third project wasn't a Christmas card (even though this was a holiday hop), but your choice of card kits that had been for sale. I won't say anything else, other than I didn't purchase anything at this store either.

The third store got it right. Their projects were much more creative and supplies were of good quality. First is a card that will hold a gift card or cash. The color is off a bit, the nose and bow are actually red, not pink.
When you open/tilt the reindeer's head, there is a piece of card stock that slides up which is where the cash or gift card would go. 
I think this next card is the cutest thing ever! I don't have the front finished yet (print paper cut to fit over the white card) because I haven't decided which paper to use.  I call this a magic card and my grandson is going to love it because he says "magic, magic, make {fill in the blank} appear" and this will absolutely work with that command.

I'll write about how to create this at a later date, but for now, here is the magic card. The snowman goes from uncolored, to colored!
The third project from this store wasn't a card, but greetings could be added to make this a gift presentation and card all in one. This is what I made in the store, complete with hot chocolate mix and a candy cane from them. 
This is very simple. A 12" sheet of double sided paper is all you need. No tape, no glue, no scissors. 
 First fold your square into a triangle.
 Bring one lower corner up to meet the opposite side
Then repeat with the other corner. I apologize for the photo, I was interrupted and started over, changing the sequence (you should have seen right over left here) but this is so simple, it shouldn't be confusing to follow. 
Fold one upper triangle down and you are done!

If you make this from a 8" square, you have a size that will hold a gift card. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Peppermint Patties make a Snowman

I saw a cute idea using York Peppermint Patties and paper to make snowmen. I bought a bag of candy and proceeded to get the paper pieces ready. I punched out 1 3/4" black scallops, 1 3/8" white circles and made a hat from Stampin' Up's What's Up punch, cutting the tip of the wide arrow off.  Then I opened the bag of candy and discovered that the mints were not wrapped in a round manner. My original circle punches (shown in the center) didn't cover much of the foil wrapped candy.

Darn it.....that little hat was cute!
I apologize for leaving the Word Window punch in this shot.
I did not use that in either version of the hat. 
I punched larger plain circles (2") and larger black scallops (2 3/8") and used Stampin' Up's Decorative Label punch to make the upper part of the hat. I cut the label almost in half, trimmed the sides of the hat of the part that reminds me of parentheses, and cut a dip into the the top of the hat. The brim was made from the largest label in an EK Success label punch, cut in half lengthwise. The eyes, buttons, berries on the hat and heart are all from Stampin' Up's Owl Builder punch. The leaves are from a small EK punch that I've had for quite a while.

I cut a strip of black paper to connect the snowman's three body parts, using double-sided tape. I got a second strip ready with the same Redline tape to place under the candies. Each candy has a piece of the same tape on the top side. I placed them under each body part before adding the backing strip. The strip is both for a support and gives me a place to add a greeting if desired. The snowman has pale pink cheeks (a Zig marker) and an orange nose (Tombow marker) with a dot of white ink on each eyeball. 

I am happy with him, even if he does have candy wrapper showing.

Shop Hops

No pictures today and no instructions, just encouragement. If you make cards and/or scrapbook, knit, or quilt, you should consider going on an organized shop hop. I suspect other hobbies may do this also but these are my areas of familiarity.

Yesterday was my third experience with a yarn shop hop. One of the stops led to another hop that I will do this coming Friday for card making and related paper crafts. I don't recall how many quilt shop hops I've done, but more than a dozen over many years.

What is a shop hop and how does it work?

A number of stores of the same genre pick a day or pair of days to feature the hop. They prepare special sales and goodie bags to lure in new customers. A "passport" is either purchased for a nominal fee or given at the first shop. With a purchased passport, you have it stamped or punched at each store. When you have visited all of the participating stores (or consider yourself done whatever the number of shops visited), you turn in your passport. Rules will vary as to who is eligible for grand prizes in these events. Sometimes all stores must be visited. Yesterday's hop required six out of eight. A grand prize could be a gift basket of products or gift cards for some or all of the shops.

Quilt shop hops often have drawings at each store, sometimes hourly for smaller prizes. At no cost, this will keep shoppers in the store for another 15 minutes if they know the drawing is coming up. That is good business.

If the shop hop passports are not free, goodie bags (in my experience) are given to everyone with a passport when they check in. Yesterday's yarn shop hop had free passports but in order to get them stamped, a $15 purchase was necessary and then the store gave you a goodie bag. Most stores have mini muffins, cookies or candy out for the shop hoppers. Some have coffee ready, others offer bottled water.

The purpose of these hops are to get people into their stores who might not normally travel the extra 10 miles to visit them or perhaps had no idea the store existed. From a customer's point of view, the fun of this is seeing what stores are offering that your local yarn, fabric or paper store does not. No one store is ever going to carry everything, there are too many manufacturers in each of these markets.

The best part for me has always been seeing sample projects. You may have seen an item online or in a package numerous times and passed it up because it didn't grab you. When that project is on display in a better color combination or with an added bit of something, you can't believe you walked past it all this time.

I went on yesterday's hop with three friends. It was nice to travel together and compare notes. My advice to would be shop hoppers is to keep your eyes and ears open for these events. Check store newsletters, calendars and ask at the check out if the store you usually visit ever participates in shop hops. Search online using "shop hop", your area of interest and your state. Plan your route so that aren't backtracking on your drive and at the risk of sounding like an old lady, wear comfortable shoes.

My advice to store owners, should any of them find this blog entry, is to update your websites and check that features actually work. I am ok with shops that don't have webpages but I am not alone in being frustrated over being told the info is on their website when it clearly is NOT, or to be told for further information, sign up for their newsletter but the link is broken. Checking this is not unlike proof-reading. Knowing what is supposed to be there and what you assume actually works is sometimes just not there and a fresh pair of eyes should check.

One other piece of advice for stores: If you shop is hard to see from the highway, make a mention on your website that will be helpful to a new shopper.

Support your local stores, have fun shopping and create something wonderful!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Hat made with Poppy yarn

The yarn shop where the weekly knitting group meets sells a yarn called Poppy, by Tahki. ( Website here ) The sample in the store was done in brown yarn. Brown seldom grabs my attention so I walked right past it. When another knitter worked on a hat in white with black flowers, I was immediately interested!

There are 10 flowers per skein. You slide them out of your way until instructed to place them according to the hat pattern.
The pattern calls for one size 15 cable needle and a set of double points, also size 15. I rarely used DPNs, preferring two cable needles.

Here is the finished hat on my patient model, a teddy bear.

Here is a close up of one of the flowers with a bead center.

The pattern was easy. The only changes I made was to add a few more rounds of knitting to make the cap taller. The hat made by the other knitter was rather short on her, but was intended for a young niece so she was ok with that. Even adding a few rounds to mine, there was enough yarn left to add a few more although this height was fine on me.

I made this in one evening but not one sitting. I'm guessing it took less than 3 hours to knit.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Frosty's hat, meant to hold hot cocoa mix

I wasn't going to do any crafts this afternoon, I was going to clean.


But then I read someone else's blog and I had to make this.

Really. I HAD to!! 

This is meant to hold hot cocoa mix with mini marshmallows on top, both in a clear bag so that the marshmallows are visible at the top. The card will hold a greeting or mix info, and be attached to the bag.

I followed these directions of Connie Stewart's. I used the two smallest layers of Spellbinder's Layered Poinsettia (#S5-055) for the hatband ornament, adding white and silver trim with pens to the leaves and a rhinestone to the center.

Now I must go work on dinner. Or maybe make hot cocoa mix......

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Tea light birthday cake in a box

Apparently this has been around awhile, but if you've never seen it, it is new, right? It was new to me. Finding directions for making the battery operated candle into a cake was easy. Finding directions for the box took a bit more digging.
Battery operated tea lights cone in two sizes that I know of, not in diameter but in height. This one is the slightly taller version.

The striped paper is 5" long by 3/4" wide. The smaller candle would use a strip 5" by 5/8". I used a 1.75" scallop circle punch to cut the top and bottom of the cake out of cardstock, and also punched one out of scrap paper.
The punched scrap paper was used to find the center of the circle by folding it into quarters and snipping off a bit of the point. Placed over one of the pink scallop circles, I marked the center, then cut 4 lines through it with a blade to allow for the candle's flame to poke through.
The top is held in place with bits of Scor tape. If the top of your candle is flat, glue could be be used but mine had a slightly uneven surface. The scalloped edges were bent down to resemble icing but that isn't necessary. Left flat, it also looks cute.

I used the scrap paper scallop to mark where a hole should be cut on the bottom for the switch. I used one large glue dot to hold this in place. It is secure, but I think could be removed if we needed to access the battery cover for replacement.
The top of the cake can be decorated however you please. Purchased embellishments, glitter, pearls, paint...have fun! I used this punch which I think is from EK Success. I've had it for ages. I punched out 5 flowers to place on top of the cake.
Using the ball tool and soft mat from this kit, I shaped the flowers in a cup like manner.
To do this, you just press in and wiggle the tool, or give it a stirring motion. 
Here is the result. Much nicer than shaping it by hand. Without this specific tool, use something with a rounded tip over something with some give, maybe the back side of a mouse pad or a towel.
 I added pearls to the centers of the flowers and used small glue dots to affix them to the cake.
Now, on to the box. First I tried this design. It was simple enough to create with cardstock and an envelope punch board. 
Begin with a 6" square. Line up the first edge at the 2" mark, punch and score. Don't turn the paper yet, slide it over to the left to the 4" mark. Punch and score again. These two steps are repeated on all four sides. On two opposing sides, two cuts are made down to the first score line, making side flaps. Holes are punched in each point. 

 A fourteen inch length of ribbon was added through the holes to close up and tie the box. 
I wasn't happy that the box had a sloppy fit (look at the corners) but didn't know how to engineer the holes for the ribbon to improve this.
Next I printed a template for a 2" box that began with one piece of paper. That really left a lot to be desired, at least in my execution. I didn't even photograph that.

Simple is best. I reverted to elementary school art teachings. We often made boxes and houses out of construction paper. Later on, I made trinket boxes from old Christmas cards. I should have stuck with what I knew, but that wouldn't have been an adventure.

The bottom of this box began with a 5.5" square, scored at 1.75" from each edge. On opposing sides, cut down along the score lines to the first horizontal fold, making flaps that will be folded, glued, and become the sides of the box.
Sample of scoring and cutting, not the paper used in this project

The double sided print made a cute box. I used bit of Scor tape to hold the sides together.
The box top was done by the same method, beginning with a 3 1/8" square that was scored at 1/2" on each side.
If I make this again with plain paper for the lid, I think a scalloped edge cut from a strip of paper and added to resemble the cake top would be cute. The bow is from the discarded box attempt, trimmed to fit. It isn't attached yet, I may use a different color ribbon instead of white.
Here is the 'cake' with the candle glowing. I hope my daughter-in-law gets her wish when she receives this!