Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Great Conversion Project

Take one love of rubber stamps, and add a crazy desire to actually start collecting awesome sets. Cut with a little bit of no space in the craft area. What does this leave? An insane project to convert all my stamps to a vinyl cling system. I suppose it's not that insane - I really don't have a lot of stamps to convert compared to some of my friends. But it's proving to be quite the process nonetheless! The little stamps are the hardest, having to make such tiny snips through the foam and rubber, argh! On the plus side, this allows me to re-trim stamps that weren't trimmed very well in the first place!

So, what is this vinyl cling system? It's genius, really. Instead of permanently mounting my stamps onto wooden blocks, I am adhering a layer of vinyl cling to the foam on the sticky side. The vinyl has enough static charge to temporarily adhere to an acrylic block. For sets like Stampin' Up that come with the rubber dies already attached to sticky foam, I just use vinyl cling. For stamps that are rubber-die-only, I use a product called EZ-Mount, which is a foam layer with adhesive on one side and vinyl on the other. I used EZ-Mount a lot for converting stamps that were wood-mounted previously, because it was easier to get the rubber off the foam than to get the rubber and the foam off the wood.

For storage, I am opting to use a binder system rather than the popular CD-case system. Most unmounted stamp sets fit nicely into a regular CD jewel case (not the slim kind), but I decided to purchase hole-punched acrylic sheets to store my stamps in a zip-up binder. I'm not sure how well this will work out in the long run, I may yet switch to CD cases as I'm already filling up my second binder.

I plan to post a tutorial on precisely how I decided to attack this project at some point. For those who are visual in nature, I have made sure that I have photographed the process from beginning to end, so it all makes sense.
Saturday, May 17, 2008

A neat little trick

In my card show-off post yesterday, the recipe for the card includes silver brads and pearl embossing powder. I was tipped off by another poster on SCS that embossing is a really good way to change the look of the same ol' plain boring brads that you have sitting around. If you're like me, you may have purchased a pack of 100+ brads when your project only called for a few, and are now sick and tired of using the same colour on your projects. Well, here's something you can do! I even took pics, for those who are visual in nature.

First, collect your supples. You will need brads (obviously!), a heat gun, embossing powder, clear embossing ink and tweezers. I recommend a pad like VersaMark for your ink. The bingo-dauber style is a lot harder to use on the teeny brad heads.

Pick up a brad with your tweezers, and press the head into the embossing ink. I tried to only get it on the head, since the prongs are hidden anyway.

Next, dip it in embossing powder. Tap off the excess.

Finally, heat that baby up! If one coat isn't enough, repeat the ink-powder-heat steps again. If you're fast enough off the heat, you might be able to just dip it straight back into the powder and skip the ink. Be careful to let the brad cool for 15 seconds or more before touching - it's HOT! And the powder doesn't dry as fast as it does on paper, so you may fingerprint it. If you do smudge or fingerprint the melted embossing powder, just heat it again and it'll smooth over.

If you want to do sparkly glitter brads, the glitter embossing powder is just the solution! You may wish to do a coat of a metallic or pearly powder before you do the glitter coat(s), as many glitter powders are transparent and don't have the same coverage as a regular full-coverage powder.

Here are my sample brads. All four started out as plain silver. From left to right, they are covered in: gold powder, copper powder, white pearl powder + kaleidescope glitter powder, white pearl powder + silver glitter powder.

As you can see, they don't have the same super-shiny finish as a metal brad does, but it looks pretty cool regardless. The photos don't really do justice to how nice they really look on a card!
Friday, May 16, 2008

Little Brown Bird

Since my Apples & Oranges note cards turned out so well, I decided to try another design that I had floating around in my head. Like many other cards I've made recently, this one also features the Always stamp set from Stampin' Up. I never would have bought this set if it weren't for a friend making the most amazing cards with it. I'm glad she inspired me, and pleased to have this set in my collection! I was thinking that a set of 6 of these might be nice to sell on etsy, if I ever get around to it!

Stamps: SU Always
Paper: SU Bashful Blue, Close to Cocoa
Ink: SU Close to Cocoa
Other: Silver brads, white pearl embossing powder, Cuttlebug and Birds & Swirls embossing folder, ticket corner punch, Stampin' Dimensionals.
Thursday, May 15, 2008

Confessions of a Yarnaholic

I'm addicted to yarn. Alpaca, wool, mohair, angora... the softer, the better. Natural colours, bright colours, heathers, stripes, hand dyed... the list goes on. My stash seems to be expanding by the day, and there is no end in sight. At first I started out buying only what I needed for whatever project I planned to start immediately. That quickly turned into buying yarn for projects I tentatively had in my queue. Now? I'm *thisclose* to buying yarn just for the sake of buying yarn. Eeeeee! Somebody stop me!

A few nights ago I decided to make a trip to my local yarn store. As soon as I walked in, I knew it was a mistake to actually go into the store instead of ordering online. There was shelft after shelf of beautiful, luxurious yarn in every fiber, weight, and colour you could ever imagine. It took some serious effort to buy only the three skeins of wool that I intended to use in the near future, and not stock up on piles of beautiful yarn. What would I do with it? Who knows... it just looks like it would be fun to pet. Or maybe buy enough to fill a ball pit, and roll around in it. I did it though, I bought only what I "needed". Which, incidentally, is three skeins of lovely 85% wool 15% mohair from Lamb's Pride:

The first one is Kiwi, the second is Grey Heather, and the third is Blue Magic. I'm hoping to knit some fingerless mitts for myself, my mother-in-law and my mother respectively. I just have to learn to knit in the round with double-pointed needles, since this project is too small for circulars!

For anyone reading this that's interested in yet another place to pad your yarn stash, check out Make 1 Yarn Studio. They're located fairly centrally here in Calgary if you actually want to go in, but the website has all their yarns for sale, and they offer free shipping on orders over $50. Wow!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I'm on a roll!

This is what happens when my baby naps for several hours at a time. I make cards. It's difficult for me to work on this while she's awake and demanding of my attention, so while she's out for her morning nap, I decided to tackle the latest card sketch challenge up at SCS.

No real purpose in mind for this card, though I'm sure I can find someone to give it to. Until then, it'll be filed with the others that have no immediate use!

Stamps: SU Always
Ink: SU Elegant Eggplant, Old Olive
Paper: SU Elegant Eggplant, Old Olive, Whisper White
Other: Cuttlebug w/ Birds & Swirls embossing folder, Boss Gloss clear embossing ink, clear embossing powder, circle punches, ticket corner punch, Michaels green velvet ribbon, brads
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Like Apples and Oranges

Wow, I'm on a cardmaking spree, aren't I? I recently purchased SU's Tart & Tangy set, and after much pondering, I came up with the perfect project for it! These are 3x3" note cards. I made a set of 12 (6 of each), and I'll probably give them to my husband's grandmother for her birthday next month. I had enough paper to cut enough to make a second set, perhaps a gift for my mother-in-law? Now I just need to find a creative way to wrap them up!

The "opposite" effect was intentional, as the title says, like apples and oranges!

Stamps: SU Tart & Tangy
Ink: SU Only Orange, Green Galore
Paper: SU Whisper White, Only Orange, Green Galore, Pixie Pink
Other: Corner-rounding punch, scallop punch, circle punches, Cuttlebug & D'Vine Swirls embossing folder

Another day, another challenge

Another crafty girl I know posted a card sketch challenge over on her blog, and I couldn't resist. Now that my crafty space is all nice and neat and organized, I am all full of ideas! This card will go into my drawer of cards for future occasions yet to be determined, though I may give it to a friend getting married later this year.

Stamps: SU Always
Ink: SU Brocade Blue, Chocolate Chip, River Rock
Paper: SU Chocolate Chip, Brocade Blue, Whisper White
Other: Cuttlebug & D'Vine Swirls embossing folder, Making Memories brads, Scallop punch, circle punches, Michaels velvet ribbon.
Monday, May 12, 2008

Hoppy Birthday!

I got myself inspired to make some cards this morning when I realized that my Stampin' Up watercolor crayons were still in the shrink-wrap! I figured that if I'm even remotely able to justify the cost of all these supplies to my husband, I'd better us 'em. Conveniently, a new technique challenge was posted on SCS this morning, challenging stampers to combine an embossed image with watercolours! So, I picked a cute little frog and a matching toadstool, and whipped up this card:

Inside is stamped "hoppy birthday!" I'm not sure who I'll give this to, but I'm sure someone I know will be having a birthday soon!

Stamps: SU Unfrogettable
Paper: SU Real Red, Old Olive, Whisper White, misc orange
Ink: VersaColor Black
Other: SU Watercolor Crayons, Aqua-Painter, misc ribbon, Making Memories Brads
Friday, May 9, 2008

Brain Slugs!

I stumbled across this pattern by NeedleNoodles in her etsy shop quite by accident. I was looking at crochet food patterns, and I just happened to notice the pattern for these cute little suckers for sale as well! Being new to this whole crochet thing, these seemed like a good place to get started. This is a pretty simple pattern - once you get the hang of the "magic ring" at the beginning (which still takes me a few tries to get it right sometimes!), you're golden. Attempting to crochet with a small child who likes to "help" can be distracting, however. I found a simple way to remind myself of where the circle begins & ends - a safety pin! If you have trouble counting, get distracted easily, or are likely to have to put your project down in the middle of a round, a safety pin is the perfect answer. Stick it in the last stitch of the previous round, and off you go! As long as you know what row you're on, it's all good.

So, back to the brain slugs. I opted to make these in a less vibrant yarn than suggested in the pattern, simply because it's what I happened to have on hand. I think they're cute, but if I were to make them again (and I will!), I will use a brighter palette. I also decided to pass on the button or safety eyes and use black yarn in a french knot instead, as these are a gift for a young child with a sibling due to arrive very shortly. I wanted there to be no choking risk whatsoever with these little dudes!

Yarns used are Red Heart Super Saver Red in Ranch Red and Aran, and Lion Vanna's Choice in Black, Pink, Pea Green, Mustard, Colonial Blue and Antique Rose.

I definitely have to keep these little guys in my queue, I think I need to make a set for Eliza!
Thursday, May 8, 2008

Bugs and Kisses!

One of Eliza's little friends is turning 2 years old this weekend, and I just realized today that even though I finished making her present, I had totally forgotten about a card. Oops! I sorta had a design in the back of my head, so it was just a matter of finding the perfect paper and putting it all together. I had originally been looking at this design by Kaleen on SCS, but as I began working on the card, I ended up changing an awful lot. This is quite often how I do a lot of projects - stalk someone else for inspiration, and then run with it!

Here's the finished product:

Stamps: SU Bugs and Kisses
Paper: SU Bordering Blue, Chocolate Chip, Certainly Celery, Whisper White, misc purple, Deja Views Blue Raspberry Stripes
Ink: SU Certainly Celery, Chocolate Chip
Other: SU scallop circle punch, 1 1/4" punch, 1" punch, 1/16" punch, corner rounder, VersaMarker, clear embossing powder
Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Stealing part of my inheritance

Visiting with grandma is always fun, but visiting and bringing home a stash of yarn? Even better. My grandmother used to be an avid crocheter back in the day, but claims she hasn't touched a project in several years. My last visit involved stealing two boxes of fabric scraps for quilting, and this time she pulled out a huge (and I mean huge) box of yarn from her closet, and shoving it in my direction. She would have been plenty happy for me to just take it all, but limited space in the vehicle on the way home meant that I was only able to snag a couple bags full on this trip. No one else in the family knits or crochets, so if I don't take it, no one else ever will. I know it makes my grandmother happy that at least someone is continuing the hand-crafting tradition.

Most of her yarn is acrylics and acrylic/wool blends, and a great deal of it in small balls of leftovers from projects long past. This stuff is absolutely perfect for toys and other small-ish projects that I would like to work on. I was particularly inspired to do a crazy granny-square afghan for my daughter, with no real colour scheme, just a hodge-podge of whatever I decide to throw together. I love cuddling up under a hand-made blanket with a bowl of popcorn and a movie, and I think it would be a lovely heirloom to hand down to her when she's old enough to appreciate it - an afghan from her great-grandmother's stash.

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