Saturday, 26 February 2011

Book-Style Birthday Cards – Rose Construction

I’m making good progress on my two book-style birthday cards, one for Wonderwoman’s mum’s 70th birthday and the other for my mum’s 90th.
When I was cutting all the pieces to make Penny Duncan’s 3D roses, I made a mistake with the numbers of pieces required. I made up the black and gold ones as per instructions, but ended up with fewer than I’d planned, with a few odd pieces left over. I decided that I wouldn’t cut into another piece of the iridescent black cardstock, but would use these leftovers to create a different style of flower. To make things a bit more interesting, I drew designs on them with my embossing pen, and then heat- embossed them in gold. I shall have to make some sort of centres for them.

Black and Gold Flowers

Here’s a close-up of some of them.

3 Flowers - Macro

When I came to make the pink roses for my mum’s card, I decided to go with the pieces I had, and not cut more to make up the deficit, but make the roses with one layer less than specified – Penny says you can leave out a layer if you want them smaller and less full. I have cut the pieces from pink cardstock and then inked them with Victorian Velvet Distress Ink, making the piece for the centre of the rose dark, and gradually lightening until the outermost part, which I thought would give a nice dimensional feel to the roses. Here are the pieces, inked and ready for hand-embossing and assembly.

01 Inked Flower Pieces

This is a picture of the pieces required to make one rose, hand-embossed and ready for assembly. The two inner pieces are assembled in “cup” form and the two (or three if you are using all the pieces in the cut file) outer pieces in “dome” form. The two inner pieces have a slit between two of the petals into the centre hole. The next piece has a small hole, and the outer piece has no hole. If you are using all the pieces in the file, the extra piece has a large hole and no slit, and is assembled third. Also in the photo, you can see my embossing tool, and the piece of funky foam that I use for hand embossing.

Also included in the file is a leaf piece, but I have not done anything with this yet, because I don’t know how the design of the cards is going to pan out. I can cut and colour them later if necessary.

02 Embossed Flower Pieces

The following pictures show the assembly of the rose. For full instructions, and video tutorial, please see Penny Duncan’s blog – the address is in my Blog List.
The first picture shows the central part, the first petal of which is rolled around a fine pair of tweezers, and subsequent petals rolled around that, and a dab of hot glue from the glue gun to secure the tip.

03 Rose Construction Stage 1

The next picture shows this central roll attached with a strip of hot glue along the first petal of the second piece.

04 Rose Construction Stage 2

These petals are also rolled around, crossing the next one half way behind the previous one each time, to cause the overlapping effect of the petals in the centre of the rose.

05 Rose Construction Stage 3

It is at this stage that the missing piece would be added – the piece with the large hole and no slit. However, leaving it out, I then proceeded to add the next piece, the one with the small hole. Some hot glue was applied around the hole, and the point of the roll was inserted into the hole, and the petals of this piece pushed upwards to form the first more open part of the rose.

06 Rose Construction Stage 4

To complete the rose, the same process was repeated, using the final piece, the piece with no hole.

08 Finished Rose

Finally, the underside of the finished rose:

07 Rose Underside

This shows how the final piece, pushed upwards and adhered to the base of the previous piece, forms the base of the flower. If used, the trefoil leaf piece would be glued onto this base.

Here are all the flowers, complete. The final touch was to spray them lightly with a little pink glimmer mist to give a little iridescence to the edges of the petals.

09 Pink Roses

For this card, I am also planning to make some cream roses with edges darkened with distress inks. Thinking about it while making the pink roses, I have decided to make the card itself with cream, rather than white card – I think the pink and cream will give a good, vintage effect. I am also planning to distress the edges of the “book” pages and make the small part of the “cover” brown, like aged leather, possibly with a bit of gold decoration. I may also add some vintage text as a background. Hopefully it will all come together OK!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Birthday Card for Wonderwoman’s Mum

Wonderwoman is my home help. Her name says it all. I don’t know what I’d do without her. Here she is cleaning our patio doors last summer.

Wonderwoman Cleaning Windows 28-08-09

You can see what a fine job she is doing of it.

Her mum is going to be 70 in May, and she’s asked me if I would make a really special card for her to give her, and of course I said yes. I am so grateful for all she does for me and it’s lovely to be able to give something back.

She tells me her mum has a very bold colour scheme in her living room, and it would be nice to match that, so that hopefully she will keep the card up on her display cabinet long after the birthday! The colours we have chosen are black, white, gold and charcoal grey, with a splash of vivid red.

I am going to make a card in the shape of an open book, with the pages gently curving, and a ribbon bookmark down the centre. Wonderwoman has written some words that she would like me to put on one of the pages, and I shall probably make it so that you can lift up the pages and see the ones underneath, on which I am going to put some photographs she will provide – I shall probably make these into layouts with my Serif CraftArtist software and print them out, and then cut the page shape.

The whole card will be decorated with three-dimensional roses, and then I shall make a presentation box, also decorated with flowers, and with an acetate window in the top so that the card is visible. Since this isn’t a traditional sort of card that opens so that you can stand it up, I shall also make a separate stand for it, so she can display it out of the box if she wants to.

I haven’t made a card like this before, so it’s an exciting project. My mum will be 90 in April and I am going to make her a similar one, but in different colours. I am planning to make these two cards in tandem – our oldest nephew is getting married in August and I might make them one as well.

On Thursday Wonderwoman announced that on her next birthday (also in April) she is going to be 50, so that’s another special card I must make – obviously I can’t do one the same as her mum’s so I’ve got to think – and quickly! I would also like to make her a special present but not sure what yet.

Anyway, back to her mum’s card. I contacted my friend Wendy and she’s kindly sent me some measurements for the book shape, as she’s made lots like this, and I am designing the shape in Serif DrawPlus X4, eventually to be exported as an svg cut file to cut with Jiminy Cricut using Make The Cut software.

Yesterday I cut out several sheets of shapes from Penny Duncan’s flower cut files – see my Blog List for her address – she has designed numerous cut files which can be downloaded free of charge. This particular one is called “rose design” and is a three-dimensional, extremely realistic rose which can be cut in any size, and in any colour, and decorated as you choose.

For this card, I have decided to use some rather special black cardstock I have got, which has an iridescent finish, and is a nice weight. This is what I cut the shapes from, and today I have hand embossed them and painted the edges with gold Perfect Pearls before assembling them according to Penny Duncan’s instructions on her excellent video tutorial. Here is the result.

9 Roses

Even with a PureLite bulb and some colour balance adjustment in Serif PhotoPlus, it is still hard to get the picture to do these flowers justice. You can barely see the gold – anything shiny or iridescent is notoriously hard to photograph, but believe me, they look very rich and the gold reflects the light beautifully. With the slight sheen on the black card, they look as if they are made of metal, which is just the effect I wanted.

Here’s a close up of one of them.

Single Rose Macro

I think Penny is extremely clever to have worked out how to make roses as realistic as this, and to design a series of flat shapes to cut out in order to make it. I really don’t know how she did it! Anyway I’m grateful to her for her inspiration, generosity and encouragement in all she does.

Watch this space – I’ll be updating my blog as I progress with this card, and my mum’s.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Card Insert

Now I’ve got going on Serif CraftArtist, I can see the potential in it for loads more things than just digital scrapbook layouts, addictive and fun as they are. The stamped and embossed cards I posted about yesterday will need inserts in many of them, because the base card isn’t suitable for writing on, and they are much better finished with inserts anyway – it’s a touch of luxury in a card!

This card, which I made for my friend Nilly:

Large - Silver Roundels with Ribbon - Thank You

needed an insert, and I thought it would be fun to try and replicate the “Thank You” sentiment digitally for the inside, and through this I’ve discovered some features on Serif PhotoPlus which I haven’t used before, and managed to recreate the silvery effect of the card and even the Stickles glitter trails on the letters, even if they aren’t quite as shiny! I created digital versions of the shapes of the rubber stamps and used those to decorate the insert too.

A4 LS Floral Doodle Dallion Thank You Insert

Here’s a detail of the sentiment:

Thank You Detail

Almost as good as Jiminy cut the original!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Embossing and Inking – Cards Made Up – and a Good Tip for Matting


Following on from my post on 1st February, I’ve now finished making the embossed and inked samples up into cards, and finally got round to photographing them. I am very pleased with most of them, although a few are a bit mediocre, but the idea was to build up a card stash for emergencies, so these are not for special occasions particularly. I also find I tend to do more inspiring designs when I’ve got a particular person in mind, which of course was not the case here.

On some of the cards I have left space for a sentiment, either stamped or cut with Jiminy Cricut. On one of the large cards I’ve already done this. The large cards, and those made with very dark coloured base card, will have inserts made as and when they are needed, again, when there is a particular person in mind.

These are some basic cards I did, using a very nice detailed fern stamp. The shadow is very effective, stamping with black after the inking of the background is done, and the white heat-embossed image acts as a resist to the ink.

Fern with Green and Mottled Brown

Fern with Ribbon and Green

This one was mounted on a base card made of Core-dinations card, which has a different colour on the back. It has a slight woven-effect texture, and when you sand it, the black surface is removed, revealing the colour beneath. In this case it gives a nice distressed effect, which is offset by the glitz in the border and the multi-coloured sparkle yarn I have tied around the card.

Fern with Sanded Core-dination and Multi-Coloured Yarn

These ones I did with the same fern stamp, but not using the whole stamp; I stamped over the edge. I am not terribly thrilled with these, as this stamp makes it look a bit busy, and it isn’t the right design for this particular stamp. At the show I saw the demonstrator use part of a rounded flower head which was a lot better. Still, it’s only experimental! Somebody might like these cards. I was also a bit careless with the embossing powder and I’ve got a few mistakes – forgot to use my anti-static pad!

Ferns with Brown - Just a Note

This gingko leaf stamp is in the same set as the fern – lovely fine detail. I made two like this, and I think they came out very well. I like the slightly coppery effect of the sparkle ribbon.

Gingko Leaves with Ribbon and Brown

These geometric roundel design stamps (Floral Doodle Dallions) came from the same place – StampAttack on Ebay - I bought a few stamps when I started papercrafting in earnest last spring. They are beautifully detailed, high quality unmounted rubber stamps with unusual designs. (I also got the "Fanciful Fans" set which I haven't used yet, but look forward to trying. The leaf set is called Real Leaves.) With these, after inking the background, I picked out some of the detail in the stamped image with Perfect Pearls, using a fine watercolour brush and some water, using my non-stick craft mat as a palette. I think these are my favourite cards in the range. On some of them, I continued the theme by stamping more images onto the base card and doing some more inking. This is definitely something I want to continue with.

Large - Copper Roundels with Ribbon & Inked Base Card

Large - Copper Roundels with Ribbon & Inked Base Card 2

Large - Copper Roundels with Ribbon & Stamped Base Card

Large - Green Roundels with Ribbon and Stamped Base Card

Large - Silver Roundels with Ribbon

This next one is the first in the set that I’ve earmarked for someone – my friend Nilly (Vanillalemoncake on my Blog List) was having a clear out recently, and offered some crafting CDs on the Brainfog forum to anyone who wanted them, and she kindly sent me one. When she saw the photo of the original samples, she had said that she liked this one, so the other night I cut out the “Thank You” sentiment using Jiminy Cricut, and decorated the letters with some silver Stickles. I’m going to make a nice insert for the card, and then I can send it off to her. Thanks Nilly!

Large - Silver Roundels with Ribbon - Thank You

Not terribly thrilled with the next one… Unfortunately I didn’t get the ribbon straight! I quite like the colours, and the Core-dinations card that I used again – this time embossing it in the Cuttlebug before sanding. The tree image is a bit disappointing.

Large - Tree with Embossed Core-dinations - Thank You

Ed.: Later, I gave this card to a blind lady, and she absolutely loved it – she could feel all the rich texture. So it was a success after all!

I’m not really very keen on any of these tree ones… I quite like the background on this one, but it’s a bit boring.

Fern with Multi-Colour - Just a note

Likewise with this one – less than mediocre! I missed a bit when I stamped the tree, and ended up covering up the mistake with a stick-on silver butterfly, and balanced the silver with a peel-off sentiment. I don’t use these peel-offs much these days, but they are useful sometimes. This card might come in handy sometime, if I can bring myself to send a card I’m not over-thrilled with myself! Still, can’t win ’em all, I suppose, and at least I’m not ashamed to share my mistakes with you!!

Tree with Dark red and Silver Peeloffs - Thinnking of You

This version is slightly better, because I like the multi-coloured inking on the base card, and the addition of the multi-coloured sparkle yarn. I have left a space on the left of the image, for a vertical-text sentiment.

Tree with Dark Red, Multi-Coloured Yarn & Multi-Coloured Inked Base Card

All in all, a bit of a mixed bag! Still, I achieved my end, of putting into practice a lovely technique I saw at the Craft Show, and also building up a bit of a card stash.

I don’t know if it’s just me being ham-fisted, but I do find it incredibly difficult to get matted cards straight! Using double-sided tape there’s absolutely no room for error – once it’s down, it’s down, and if it’s crooked, too bad… Since matting these, I’ve learnt a couple of brilliant techniques to get round this problem (I’m soooo envious of those TV demonstrators who work so fast, and just pop their cards down, absolutely straight every time! How do they do it…?) Anyway, Ikki of the Cuttlebug Cupboard (link in my Blog List) recommends swiping the exposed surface of the double sided tape with a glue stick (e.g. Prit) before sticking it down, which enables you to reposition it if necessary. The other day on the Create & Craft show on TV, I saw an even better tip – instead of peeling the whole of the backing strip off, you just peel a little bit at the end, and fold it at 90 degrees so it sticks out the side of the card. You do this for all 4 corners, and when you put it down, it’s lightly held in place by the exposed corners of tape. When you are satisfied with the positioning, you just take hold of the turned back piece of backing tape and pull it off, without moving the card from its position on the mat. Brilliant! Works every time!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Digital Scrapbooking – Daisytrail Challenge

I’ve decided to enter my second challenge on Daisytrail, this time entitled “Three Times a Lady,” in which you have to use the same photograph of a “female” three times. Since it didn’t specify a human female, I’ve decided to do it of our kitty Beatrice the Computer Queen. However, she’s not obviously in computing mode in this layout, but playing her favourite role, that of Lady of the Manor. Our kitties expect to be waited on hand and foot, and all the best luxuries that money can buy. I thought I’d indulge her fantasies, at least digitally, and have dressed her up in diamonds.

The Lady Beatrice

I experienced a lot of difficulty with the page curls in this project, because part of the CraftArtist software doesn’t seem to be working, and the “join” options are greyed out. I eventually posted a request on the Daisytrail forum for help over this, and it appears I’m not alone in experiencing this problem. However, there are work-arounds, and I’m grateful in particular to Wendyp for her solution.

My friend Wendy (a different Wendy!) says taking part in challenges is a very good idea because it encourages one to try new techniques. She herself learned the embossing technique this way (I haven’t tried it yet) and through this challenge I’ve learnt how to do page curls, although it wasn’t specified in the challenge.

It was fun using the same photograph in three different ways. I said that Beatrice wasn’t obviously in computing mode, but this picture of her was extracted from its background, and the photograph happened to be the one of her sitting on my hubby’s laptop! I wanted a picture of her with her nose in the air, trying to look like a lady.

The picture on the top left was fun to do. I enlarged a diamond teardrop embellishment and copied it, and increased the transparency of the copy. I made an edging with small diamonds, and put a cropped version of Beatrice on top. I then put the transparent version of the diamond on top of that, so it looks as if she’s embedded in the diamond.

I extracted our God-daughter’s wedding tiara from her unsuspecting head to use for Beatrice in this project! I’m sure she won’t mind!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Digital Scrapbooking – Texture Overlays

Last night I was on someone's blog (see below) and she’s got various freebies to download, including some texture overlays, but rather than downloading these, I thought I'd try creating some myself. Whenever we go anywhere I'm always snapping away with the camera, and my hubby is always amused at the sort of things I take photos of – walls, pavements, different surfaces... I love textures and always photograph them, so I've got quite a library of them now. I opened one in my photo editor (Serif PhotoPlus – this software does 90% of what PhotoPlus does, but at a fraction of the cost) and increased the canvas size to make it the standard scrapbooking size of 12 x 12 in. and copied and pasted bits of the image to fill the space, to keep the pattern the same size. I then opened the channel mixer, and desaturated the image so it was greyscale, making sure it had good contrast – some adjustment was needed with the levels control. Then into the filters menu, where I chose Emboss, and adjusted the angle so it looked embossed rather than debossed (i.e. sticking out rather than sticking in!). I then exported it as an image saved on my hard drive. Into CraftArtist, where I put a nice plain-ish background in, and added this image on top. Using the Blending Mode, I chose Overlay. Hey presto! The two images are fused together, and the background has a nice texture on it!! I discovered you do need to use a background with a bit of colour, or the texture doesn’t show up.

This is the original photograph of a typical Norfolk chequerboard flintstone wall I photographed at Castle Acre Priory.

Norfolk Flint Wall 1 

Here it is desaturated and embossed – this is what I saved as the texture overlay:

Norfolk Flint Wall 1

And here it is combined with a background.

CraftArtist BG 1 with Norfolk Flint Wall Texture Overlay

Lovely effect, isn’t it! Here’s another one using a photo of some decorative stonework at Waddesdon Manor.

Waddesdon Carved Stonework

For this one, I made two texture overlays. You can change the angle of the simulated light source, and this gives a completely different effect.

Waddesdon Carved Stonework

CraftArtist BG 3 with Waddesdon Carved Stonework Texture Overlay 1

Waddesdon Carved Stonework 2

CraftArtist BG 3 with Waddesdon Carved Stonework Texture Overlay 2

This shows a bit more clearly on the next example. Here is the original photograph, of some crazed porcelain.

Cracked Porcelain

Just as you can produce either an embossed or a debossed effect with a Cuttlebug machine, depending on which side of the card you use, you can produce these effects by altering the angle of the virtual light source in the embossing effects tool in the photo editor. This is the embossed effect, i.e. the texture is raised:

Cracked Porcelain - Embossed

CraftArtist BG 2 with Cracked Porcelain Embossed Texture Overlay

and here is the debossed effect, with the lines appearing to sink below the surface.

Cracked Porcelain - Debossed

CraftArtist BG 2 with Cracked Porcelain Debossed Texture Overlay

This one, with a slightly different background, could be made to look like leather.

My final example is of some Chinese calligraphy. My apologies to any readers of Chinese – I have had to do a bit of cloning to get the image to fill the new canvas size, and I did this randomly to cover up the joins, and as a result the characters are not all in the right places! However, this is purely for decorative effect and will be used as a background for images and text, so it probably won’t be noticeable in use.

Chinese Calligraphy Background - Large Script

Chinese Calligraphy - Large Script

CraftArtist BG 1 with Chinese Calligraphy Texture Overlay

I have deliberately chosen fairly plain, neutral-coloured backgrounds for these examples, to show you how the principle works. However, you can experiment using different coloured backgrounds, and ones with an existing texture, and even using more than one texture overlay – the patterns combine to give some interesting results. For instance, if you have a striped texture, you can overlay it the second time at right angles to the first, and end up with a checked effect, but it goes a lot further than that. Actually the possibilities are endless.

I have created a couple of layouts using these backgrounds, which I may incorporate into a photo book of our holidays one day. This is the “title” page for Castle Acre Priory in Norfolk, and you can see how I have used the chequerboard flint wall as a texture overlay background, and put the images and text on top. I am grateful to Iris ( not only for giving me the idea of trying these texture overlays, but also for some lovely free downloads that you can get if you subscribe to her blog, including the frames on this layout, which have a gorgeous mediaeval look which is in keeping with the ruined abbey.

Castle Acre Priory

Here’s another example of a layout I did, using the texture overlay process. This is made up of photos taken at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, and again, the gilt frame came from Iris – I wanted to reflect some of the opulence inside the house.

Waddesdon Manor

One day I shall get round to making all my holiday photos up into layouts.

I am very thrilled to have discovered this new technique, which I think will be very useful, and a good way to create an unusual background for a project, using elements from the same theme. You can also create backgrounds and textures unique to you.

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