Saturday, 28 July 2012

80th Birthday Card–Mixed Media

Warning – long post with lots of photos!

My hubby reminded me the other day that we are invited to an 80th birthday party on Sunday, and would I like to make a nice card? So Shoshi has pulled out all the stops these past few days and come up with something I think she will like!

As you know from my previous posts, I’m about to take part in a flower swap with Judy in Australia. Unfortunately the flowers have had to take a back seat this week while I made this card. From flowers to butterflies! I told a friend on Sunday, “I love butterflies!” She said, “Oh, really? I’d never have guessed.” (She was being ironic. Lol!)

So – the card. I wanted to use my new Dylusions Ink Sprays, and made a background in the same way as I did my flower backgrounds, by putting the cut shapes down on the paper and then spraying, and turning them over and moving them, and spraying again. The large butterfly background isn’t 100% but I may do something with it – my large leaf one was disappointing till I had another go at it.

I cut all the butterflies with Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine. Most of the shapes are Penny Duncan’s cut files but I’ve used one of my own (not visible in these pictures).

I was very pleased with how well Sheba cut these out. The only problem was the detailed one with many holes. There was a tendency for the tiny pieces to be lifted up by the blade and carried along with it, preventing further cuts. I’ve experienced this problem before, despite using my brayer very vigorously to stick the card down well onto the mat. This time, I reduced the cutting speed right down to 25, and watched very carefully as it cut – at the first sign of trouble, I hit the pause button and removed the offending loose piece. I had to remove the whole blade holder several times, remove the blade and pick the tiny pieces out of the holder – really boring to have to do this, but worth it in the end as I got a pretty well perfect cut on those particular shapes. I’d set SignCut to cut the smallest pieces first, so once they were done, I checked the blade one more time, and then set the velocity back up to 100 and cut the rest.

Here’s the pierced butterfly with its mat layer (seen in the centre of the above photo). I just laid them out like this to show how the layers work – I was not intending to use them like this because there wasn’t enough contrast. You can see what an excellent job the Black Cat Cougar does with cuts like this.

This is the background that I sprayed onto the base card for this birthday card, using mostly small butterflies to create the pattern.

Here are some other parts that I cut from white card using Sheba:

The large piece will be used inside the card. I designed the sentiment (and everything else) in Inkscape – in this case, text on a path, and created the shape and scalloped mat layer (using the interpolate feature of pattern on a path). In the end, I didn’t use this scalloped piece but cut some more in gold, and used one of those. The text was done with a purple gel pen in Sheba’s pen holder – this is a brilliant accessory which enables you to draw and write in addition to cutting with the machine, and you can use any font on your computer. The frame would be inked and used inside the card.

This shows how the mat layer fits under the text to give the scalloped edge (this is just laid on top, not stuck down).

I filled a whole A4 sheet of gold mirror card with butterflies, frames and text mats so that I’d have some in my stash as well as providing enough for this project. Here is the gold mirror card still on the cutting mat immediately after cutting.

The gold card being removed from the mat – “weeding” the waste card first, leaving the pieces still stuck down on the mat.

The pieces removed.

Here you can see Penny’s double-layered butterfly. The top one has the mat layer in gold with the pierced part on top being one of my inked pieces, and for the lower one, the cut pieces are reversed. I had to decide which I preferred for this card, and chose the second one.

Here is the front of the card with a gold frame adhered around the aperture.

Inking the inside of the card. For this I used an Inkylicious Ink Duster to apply Dusty Concord Distress Ink.

Here is the smaller piece to line the inside of the card, being inked with Dusty Concord and Black Soot Distress Inks around the edge, and Picked Raspberry (one of the Summer special seasonal edition inks) for the centre. I wanted a bit of contrast with the base card, but still keeping within the general colour scheme.

A lot of people have been intrigued by my suggestion that I would use all that kitchen paper that I’d used to mop up my ink! It seems that most people think this is bizarre, and they can’t think how it could be used – most people simply throw it away, and I hope I can convince them that this is a waste when you can make beautiful things from it. I had one piece that I’d used scrunched up to mop up some ink, and not on the roll, and it had a gorgeous creased design on it from the two colours, so I cut a rectangle of this to put underneath the window of the card.

Here it is, having Golden regular matt gel medium applied on the back with a palette knife. This made the two layers of the kitchen paper pull apart, so I laid down the one with the gel medium on it, and scrunched it around a bit, but it started to tear, so I took the other layer and placed it on top, sticking it down with a small amount of gel medium around the edges.

The bottom layer became quite firm after the gel medium had dried, and this supported the upper layer very well, so in the end I was pleased with the result. Here it is with the lining piece stuck down to cover the edges, and the other gold frame around the aperture.

The next step was to stick the acetate over the window of the card. I did this from the inside, using Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive, which has to be my absolute favourite wet glue – it’s awesome! (Thank you Lucy – Lucy introduced me to this glue and it is now known as “Lucy’s Glue” lol!)

The edge of the acetate stuck down inside the card needed to be covered up. This is where the white frame came in. I inked it with Picked Raspberry Distress Ink. (I love this colour!)

Here it is in place. Does that look like kitchen paper in the right-hand aperture? My hubby thought it was fabric! I just couldn’t throw this delicious piece away! This effectively completes the inside of the card, apart from the 3-D flying butterflies. (After taking this photo, I decided it needed something more, and added some water spatters which improved it a lot – photos further down.)

This is how it looked with the sentiment mounted on its gold scalloped mat and adhered to the outside of the card. The white card of the sentiment was lightly inked with Picked Raspberry Distress Ink before being glued down.

I then selected a few of the gold butterflies and painted them with alcohol inks, using a Ranger fillable alcohol ink pen filled with blending solution, and my recently created alcohol inks palette. As you can see, it worked a treat! The larger gold butterfly (top right) has not been painted – what you can see is just reflection. The colours I used were a selection of purply pink, green and blue. I didn’t use all the butterflies – the rest have gone in my stash.

Here they are on the front of the card, together with the double-layered butterfly. The bodies of the butterflies were all stuck down with a small quantity of hot glue, and the wings folded upwards. (The butterflies on the bottom right look darker than this in real life – as usual it’s hard to photograph reflective surfaces.) The only thing still remaining to be done is to add a tiny amount of Pinflair gel glue under the wings of the butterflies to prevent them being flattened.

I have forgotten who pointed me in the direction of the video tutorial for the 3-D flying butterfly card but thank you, whoever you are! I was so taken with this design and decided straight away that I wanted to make it. You take a circle of acetate and lay it on top of a sketch of a spiral done on a piece of scrap paper, and holding the two together, you use the paper as a pattern and cut along the spiral line. The paper can then be discarded.

In the video, she used glue dots to fix this up, but I prefer something a bit stronger, so ensuring that I used laser acetate to make the spiral because this is heat-proof, I used my hot glue gun to stick the centre of the spiral down onto the centre of the inside of the card, and the outer end onto the inside of the card front. When you open the card, the spiral therefore opens up like a spring.

Several butterflies were then stuck onto the spiral, checking through the front aperture to make sure they were placed correctly. When you open the card, it appears that the butterflies are flying in the space! Very effective and certain to gain a “Wow”! Thanks for the great video tutorial, Bernie!

Here is the finished card, closed. You can see the butterflies through the acetate window.

Here is is open:

The final embellishment was the “80” to go in the top right hand corner of the card. I decided to do some more faux porcelain for this, this time making a circular piece, and distressing it with pink ink for a slightly different effect from my first, very grungey effort. Here is the final result, with the medallion adhered to the front of the card with hot glue, and the addition of a short length of ribbon.

This is the inside of the card. As you open it, the acetate spiral, attached to the left-hand side of the inside of the card and in the centre of the right-hand side, is pulled apart like a spring, and the butterflies appear to float between the two halves.

Here’s a detail of the water spatter effect I did on the inside. I think this really lifts the background and improves it a lot.

This is a detail shot of the butterflies on the acetate spiral. They are stuck with hot glue, as are the ends of the spiral.

Finally, the envelope. I lightly inked the edges with more Picked Raspberry Distress Ink, and stamped a butterfly in the corner with the same ink.

I am pleased to have finished this card well ahead of Sunday. That’s a weight off my mind. Back to the flowers again now!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012


I can’t believe another week has gone by… This past week I’m patting myself on the back, because I visited every desk… Never done that before, and never will again probably! (This is to try to make up for my extremely poor record of desk visiting of late…) (To find what this is all about, visit Julia’s blog – click on the WOYWW link in my sidebar.)

This week there’s a completely unadulterated desk, i.e. not arranged at all, just as is. Which is what I think we are supposed to do – but sometimes I’ve been guilty of putting things out for you to see so you knew what I was up to during the week lol!

It’s such a tip that I thought I’d give you another photo – annotated!

Happy WOYWW everybody, and many thanks to everyone who came and visited my blog last week. Very much appreciated!

Pen Holder for Sheba

I’ve finally got round to ordering the pen holder for Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine, and also a new mat to replace the extremely manky one that was spoilt pretty early on by my falling into the usual beginner’s trap of cutting with too much force and engraving the mat!

I have been keen to have the pen holder ever since I got Sheba, because to be able to draw and write as well as cut is a tremendous advantage. I was able to do this on my old Cricut machine, and used the facility to decorate my Christmas bag skirts, but because the space for the housing on that machine wasn’t very high, you had to use special short pens, and after a very small amount of use, it seemed, they were running out.

The Cougar, on the other hand, has a lid which lifts up, and this enables you to use any pen in the holder, which comes with two different sized cylinders which fit in the holder, enabling you to use almost any sort of regular pen, from gel pens to embossing and glue pens, opening up a great deal more scope for Having Fun.

Here is the kit, together with one of the gel pens from the big set I had for Christmas.

The pens wouldn’t fit in the smaller cylinder, and when I tightened the screw of the larger cylinder to hold the pen firmly, I noticed that it was skewing it. This might not be a problem unless you were drawing and cutting on the same project – the drawing would be offset and not line up with the cut line. I went onto the Black Cat forum and immediately (brilliant lot they are!!) I had 2 replies, suggesting I make a little half-collar out of card to jam in beside the pen on the opposite side from the screw. I tried this, and it worked a treat. You can see the card shim I made, in the picture above.

Here is the pen in the holder without the shim. You can see that it’s definitely offset.

This is a shot of the pen end on – it’s a bit hard to see, but the tip of the pen is definitely not in the centre of the hole.

Here it is with the shim in place, and you can see that the whole assembly is now nice and straight.

This is my test drawing. I just used an old bit of scrap paper. In the bottom right is my test rectangle. I set the velocity to 100 and the force right down to 1 (the lowest possible) and it drew like a dream! I chose my butterfly svg with its 3 colours and drew each separately, changing the pen in the holder for each one. If you look very carefully you can see that the dark purple isn’t exactly lined up with the green, and some of the elements are almost touching. This was because when I placed the pen holder back in the housing after changing the pen, I didn’t position the screw in the forward facing position. When I changed to the pink, I made sure that I did, and the results were perfect.

I then put the blade holder back in, and did a quick test cut – I wasn’t fussed about the quality, and used the 60 degree blade that was still in the holder, when the 40 degree would have been better for this thin paper, and I didn’t change the force either – the result was that it didn’t cut all the way round, and the blade snagged in a couple of places, but it really didn’t matter because the purpose of the exercise was to see how well the cut lined up with the pink drawn line – and it was perfect! So much so that if you examine it closely, there is pink either side of the cut line, showing that the blade cut exactly in the middle of the ink line all the way round! This is very impressive.

Sheba is very pleased to have her new accessories, as I am. She has written a letter to Dawn (inventor of the Black Cat cutters and our gracious hostess on the forum – see link in my sidebar).

I was aware that if you just write text in Inkscape and send it to print/write in SignCut, you get a double line instead of a single line. With a bit of work you can get the machine to cut/draw with a single line, but I didn’t bother in this case – I filled in a few of the more obvious gaps by hand with the same pen after it was done. I also didn’t use anything very posh to write on – just a grotty bit of scrap paper that wasn’t any too clean – sorry Dawn!! It was just a test piece, after all.

I think this goes to show yet again what superb and amazing machines these are. Not only that, but my query was answered pretty well instantly on the forum, and one of the replies was from Dawn herself. You can’t get better service than you get from this wonderful lady (and her counterpart, Sherri, in the US). If you are thinking of investing in a new cutting machine, the Silver Bullet (brand new machine incorporating all the improvements that would have gone into the next version of the Cougar) is now available and is already getting rave reviews!

Monday, 23 July 2012

More from the Flower Factory

I’ve done a few more flower and leaf pieces today. These were cut a little while ago, not from watercolour paper, but from some white card with a slight texture to it – this cut quite well, but it isn’t as absorbent as watercolour paper so the colours aren’t quite as intense when sprayed with the Dylusions Inks, until I spritz them well with water and smoosh them in the stray ink on my craft sheet.

I sprayed two lots today – quite a large quantity of hibiscus flower pieces in two sizes, and one large rose, with a mixture of blue, turquoise, purple and pink sprays, and leaves in two sizes – lots of small ones for the hibiscus flowers, and some large ones for the large roses.

Here are the flower pieces. As with the smaller roses, the larger ones consist of five separate pieces and one leaf piece. I have cut these with more ragged edges to give a slightly different effect – they are adapted from Penny Duncan’s Rose Design, to look more like what she calls her Grungey Rose. The smaller pieces are the hibiscus flowers. I have got two more sets of rose pieces which I shall spray with another colour.

Here are the leaf pieces for each type of flower. The hibiscus leaves are cut as three separate leaves for each flower, which makes more work than the leaves that are cut as a single piece (like the large rose leaves at the top) – I may adapt the svg file along these lines to save work in the future.

As before, these flower and leaf pieces will be hand embossed before assembly.

Here are the background sheets created from these pieces. First the flower one. In this first picture you can see the flower pieces to the side, and my increasing circles stencil laid on top of the background in preparation for sponging away some of the ink.

The finished background piece, with some more of the purple ink added; I also laid down the large rose pieces to enable them to pick up a bit more ink, and after spritzing, I sponged the background again around these flowers so that I could get a bit more of the masking effect.

I luuuurve these colours!

Now for the leaf background. You will remember from my earlier post that I wasn’t very happy with the leafy backgrounds I created at that time:

I took the larger one and used it for spraying my latest leaf pieces, and liked it a lot better afterwards! This time I didn’t use any green ink at all, but sprayed first with blue, and then with yellow, which gave a gorgeous rich green.

I’m much happier with this!

One of my friends on the Black Cat cutting machine forum suggested I combine the flower making with the faux porcelain, and create some porcelain flowers! I think this is a brilliant idea, so I’m going to have a go (thanks, Gaz!). The roses are a non-starter, though, because of the way they are constructed, but some flatter, single-piece flowers would work well, I think – and maybe I could layer them. I’ll be cutting some new pieces for this, and for more coloured ones, too – and I may combine colour with clear UTEE to give a glazed effect… So many different things to try!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Flowers with Dylusions Ink Sprays–More from the Flower Factory

I have now made up some flowers from the papers coloured with my new Dylusions Ink Sprays. Using the flowers as masks over a background while spraying them proved a good idea as I ended up with some very pretty backgrounds.

Using flower shape svg files from Penny Duncan (thank you Penny!), I created two types of flowers.

The roses are created from 5 different separate pieces (seen in the columns laid out in the above picture) – some of these pieces have slots in them, some have different sized holes and one is solid – they have to be assembled in the correct order and secured with hot glue. Before assembly, though, they have to be coloured and hand-embossed. It sounds a lot of work, but once you start assembling them, they make up pretty quickly, and are great fun to do.

I love how the different colours in the background have created such varied colours in the flowers and given them a feel of dimension that plain-coloured ones lack.

Here’s a close-up shot showing the detail of the roses. I have found that watercolour paper is best for making these flowers because it stands up well to being wet, and it also moulds well.

The other set of flowers are made up from a single piece, with the optional addition of a tiny flower shape in the centre of each. These were embellished with a tiny amount of Stickles glitter glue in the centre of each one, and some perfect pearls painted onto the petals from my newly-created Perfect Pearls palette – as usual, you don’t get the full shimmery effect in the photo.

Here is the card that I made for Redanne for her birthday, from one of the backgrounds and some of the flowers (these particular ones don’t have Perfect Pearls on them because I only thought of it after I’d sent her card off!)

You can see how the flower shapes were used as a mask when creating the background. Here’s a detail of the flowers.

The background was matted and layered onto gold mirror card, and then mounted on a plain white base card which was coloured with Dusty Concord Distress Ink, applied with an Inkylicious Ink Duster. The sentiment, created in the same way, was heat-embossed in gold from a “Happy Birthday” stamp that I have. This doesn’t show up too well in the photo, I’m afraid.

I am pleased to report that Anne really likes her card!

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