Wednesday, 29 February 2012

WOYWW 143–More Stencils, Choccie Box Inserts, and Heat Insulation

Thanks again to our wonderful Julia for hosting another weekly hop around the world’s most creative, amazing, tidy (not!) and interesting workdesks. To join in, click on the link in my sidebar which will take you to Julia’s place.

Not a great deal going on Chez Shosh this week because it’s mostly been on the computer, in Inkscape to be exact, working on vector drawings for Sheba, my cutting machine.

Having more or less got to grips with cutting ordinary cardstock, I wanted to branch out a bit, so I’ve been cutting stencils (see my last post). What’s on my workdesk this week is the next one that I have cut – a polka dot design consisting of 1/2-in circles on an A4 sheet. I have been having problems getting it to cut right but I’m on the way now.

To the right of the stencil you can see some recent sample cuts I’ve made with Sheba – my Indian floral border and my silver mirror butterfly on its mat layer, and beyond them, the doileys still waiting for me to do something with them lol! On the left is just a pile of stuff waiting to be put away – nothing a bit interesting.

Above the stencil is the plastic insert from a box of choccies. It fell on the floor upside down (empty!) and when I picked it up I thought it looked really interesting from the back, and wondered if I could make it up into some sort of mixed media art project. The bottoms of the depressions are very thin and flimsy so I’ve been trying to think of a way to strengthen them. I’ve put a bit of acrylic gel medium (thick moulding paste) in one, and although it’s not quite dry yet, I don’t think it’s the right stuff, and anyway I shall end up using far too much of this rather expensive stuff! After doing it I remembered my Polyfila that my hubby bought for me last year for my mixed media stuff, so I’m going to use that. Once the depressions are all filled and the stuff is dry, I shall paint the surface with gesso and take it from there. I want it to end up totally unrecognisable as a chocolate box insert!

Back to the drawing board now, and more work on my stencils (really struggling with the flower one but have some thoughts on how to proceed, having slept on it) and also my designs based on Indian fabrics.

One thing on my workdesk that you can’t see, because it’s under my craft sheet, is a new heat proof mat that I got this week. It’s made of a substance called Cogetherm, an asbestos substitute made from mica, which is supposed to be extremely heat proof and insulating. I have yet to put it to the test. You wouldn’t believe how many green cutting mats I have warped – if you look at the top of the photo above, you can see my latest effort (that’s quite a new mat…) – that wasn’t done particularly carelessly either, as I had a glass cutting mat (heat-proof, kitchen variety raised off the surface with little feet) and then my non-stick craft sheet on top of that, and I was using a heat gun, admittedly for quite a long time. I’ve warped mats by leaving my melting pot switched on for quite a while, also standing on this glass mat, and the radiant heat is enough to warp the mat. Although non-stick craft sheets are always advertised as “heat proof,” they are only resistant to heat themselves, and they offer absolutely no protection for what’s underneath.

I thought it was time to think outside the box, because no craft suppliers seem to have addressed the problem of heat insulation. I found this rigid mat on the website of Presspahn and thought it looked a good bet. I’ll let you know how it fares.

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Sheba’s First Stencil

Having had a bit of practice with Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutter, cutting normal cardstock, I thought it was time to attempt cutting acetate. I have long wanted to make my own stencils and masks.

Last night I spent some time working on several designs in Inkscape, and designed two leaf trail stencils, one for A4 and the other for A5.

These files are now in my Skydrive (see link in sidebar).

I started by cutting the smaller one, from a laser acetate sheet. Using the 60+ degree blade, speed 50, force 45, I managed to cut most of it OK, although some bits didn’t quite cut through. I had problems initially with the acetate moving on the mat, but remedied this by sticking it down around the edges with masking tape.

This is a photo of it being used as a stencil, stippling distress ink with an Inkylicious Ink Duster – the results are quite satisfactory, I think.

Last night I also started designing some flower stencils, but these are not yet complete. Some time ago I drew two sheets of circle stencils (polka dots for backgrounds) but I have yet to cut and try these; when I have, they will also be available to download.

Storage of Stencils

I am planning to ink a sheet from each stencil (as above) and put it with the stencil in a transparent sleeve to be filed in a ring binder. This way the stencils will be kept apart to prevent them tangling with each other; they will be kept flat and protected, and the inked sheet will indicate what they are. As I make more, I can use dividers to keep them in separate categories.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

More on the Indian Floral Border

Warning – for non-Inkscape users, this blog may not mean much, but no doubt the instructions could be adapted for other vector drawing programs. Much of what I have written is for my own benefit so I don’t forget, but I hope it will also be useful for other newbie Inkscape users too. However, the svg file can be used with any program or cutter that recognises this file format, and you may simply want to use the shape without using a cutting machine.

After uploading the border to the Black Cat forum and describing what I’d done, I’ve had some very helpful hints from one of the expert members. There are always better ways of doing things, and shortcuts one doesn’t know about, etc. etc.! I’m only just beginning with Inkscape, and all hints and tips are gratefully received.

She suggested that rather than joining the pieces by combining the paths and then selecting the two nodes at each junction, it would be easier to create closed paths, and I could then just turn on “Snap to bounding box corners,” duplicate the blocks and snap them together, and then select them all and use Path>Union to weld them all together into the one piece.  Before doing this, to ensure the “holes” in the top layer remain visible, it is important to select them and join them as a single path, then select them with the outline and click “Path>Exclusion.”

She warned me that I would need to be careful that the sides to be joined were perfectly vertical or horizontal so that when they snapped together, they would meet all the way down/across, otherwise there would be a gap in the join when you pressed “Path>Union.” I asked how to do this, and she said I could introduce some guides, turn on “Snap to guides” and align the nodes to the guide. (You can also snap to the grid if you’ve made it visible.)

She also told me that if I use “stroke” rather than “fill” for my pieces, the thickness of the stroke will prevent the pieces from butting completely against each other, leaving the join line visible after pressing “Union.” Using closed paths and “fill,” they will abut completely. However, if I want to continue to use “stroke” (which I prefer), I can use geometric bounding boxes which will enable the centre of each stroke line to abut, thus eliminating the problem.

I have now done all this (a steep, but worthwhile learning curve) and have redrawn the pieces, which are now up on my Skydrive (link in sidebar) replacing the original ones.

This is the “stroke” version:

and this is the “fill” version, showing more clearly how the layers work:

As you can see from this illustration, I have designed a full pattern repeat (top centre), half patterns left and right (top left), corner piece (top right), end piece (centre), end piece with half pattern and two end pieces with a full pattern to use as a stand-alone motif (bottom). I think this covers most eventualities for using this file! I am working on a flower based on this pattern as well.

(For the extremely observant among you, you will notice in the first illustration that some of the pieces appear to have the red stroke on top, and some the green one. I have altered the version on my Skydrive so that the green layer is always on top, but did not alter these drawings as will affect various links to my Photobucket album.)

Friday, 24 February 2012

Indian Floral Border

I have finished working on my Inkscape design for this floral border today, and did some test cuts. The svgs have now been uploaded to my Skydrive and are available for free download – see the link in my sidebar.

As you can see from this bitmap image, I have created a left and right pattern repeat piece, a full pattern repeat, a corner piece and an end piece. This border can therefore be made any length or width, making a complete frame (square or rectangular) with the corner piece, or using the end piece for a stand-alone border.

All you’d need to do to create your own design with these would be to line them up as carefully as you can, and combine the paths. Both nodes at the overlap would need to be selected and joined.

The black shapes are cut from the green, so that when it is layered onto the red piece (mat layer), the colour of the mat layer shows through.

Here are a couple of test cuts I did. I was very pleased with how Sheba (my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine) coped with these. The corner was cut fairly large as I wanted to see how it would come out; it cut very well, so I reduced the size of the border somewhat, and then cut another piece which I created with several pattern repeats, and an end piece at each end. This could be cut smaller again, if you wanted.

I have deliberately used bright contrasting colours so that the design would show up. The card is American Crafts cardstock which cuts very well with the Cougar.

When I get the pen holder for Sheba, I will probably design another layer – a line drawing to embellish the top layer further. This could be done with gel pen, or a glue pen with glitter etc. added afterwards.

I am also working on a flower design using this motif, which I will share with you when it’s finished. In addition, I am working on some multi-layered Paisley designs for a rich effect. I’ve been looking at pictures of Indian fabrics, and these are a very rich source for design – lovely patterns, colours and textures.

My plan is to make up several different Paisley patterns, with layers that can be used in different combinations, and also design some background papers for printing, that these shapes could be added to. Many of the Indian fabrics have lovely small repeating patterns, with the bold printed or embroidered shapes on top. In paper and card, these could be further embellished with foiling, gems, embossing, glitter, etc. etc.

Watch this space!!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Finishing the 3-D Silver Butterflies Card

Having completed the front of the card, I have now made a card insert and a box for it.

First of all, I wanted to finish the complete-cut butterfly svg with a mat layer, and here it is, cut in some fairly heavy silver-grey card with a bit of sparkle to it. This card is quite dense, so I used Sheba’s 60+ degree blade, designed for thick, heavy or dense card, and it cut really well after numerous tests – it was the first time I had used this blade which looks absolutely lethal, and I didn’t want to cut a hole in Sheba’s mat! All was well, though, and it cut fine.

This is the card insert I have made.

It is printed on vellum. The image was a free download from the Internet, originally in a very garish yellow colour. I desaturated it, and then replaced the colour with blue, and reduced the opacity, in Serif PhotoPlus. The sentiment is text on a path. The card insert is stuck down onto the left hand side of the card, up against the fold, using a narrow strip of double-sided tape. On the bottom right, you can see a butterfly cut in silver mirror card, stuck down onto the card itself, so that it just shows through the vellum.

Having finished the inside of the card, I moved on to the box. I made this from the same card that the mat layer of the butterfly was made from, and I covered the lid with a printout of another free digital image downloaded from the Internet. I didn’t alter this in any way apart from adjusting it to fit the proportions of my box.

Lifting the lid, the inner wrapper is revealed.

This is a single sheet that I had left of some printed vellum someone gave me ages ago – I really didn’t think I would ever use it, and then I suddenly thought it would do for this project! It is stuck down into the bottom of the box with some double-sided tape, and the two sides fold over the card. The butterfly on its mat is used as a closure. On one side it is stuck down firmly with extra-sticky double-sided tape, and on the other side is a glue dot which is enough to keep the wrapper closed, and can be pulled open by lifting the side of the butterfly.

Here is the box with the lid removed. I really love this vellum and wish I had some more!

Opening up the inner wrapper, the card is revealed.

Finally, here is the box, standing up, showing the 3-D silver butterflies card inside. I wanted to create an adequate presentation for a special card.

I am seeing my sister tomorrow and am going to give it to her then, although her birthday is not until the beginning of March. This is a combined card/present as a lot of work has gone into it!!

WOYWW 142

Another week gone by! On my desk this week is a continuation of last week’s project.

Having finished the 3-D silver butterflies card, I wanted to make an insert for it, and a box. I decided I would give it to my sister for her birthday at the beginning of March. We are seeing them tomorrow and I thought she could have it then – it’s really a combined card and present!

On the left is a piece of fairly dense silver-grey card with a bit of sparkle to it, which I bought at a craft show last year. It feels rather similar to the very stiff dark blue card that I blunted my blade and damaged my mat trying to cut when I first started with Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine, and not wanting to risk any such thing happening again, I used her 60+ degree blade, which is a heavy-duty version of the normal 60 degree blade. The small cuts at the top of the sheet are all the test rectangles I cut, starting with very low force and gradually working up until I was happy. I was then able to cut out the mat layers for my silver butterfly – I designed the mat layer in Inkscape today so that butterfly svg is now complete – the revised version is now on my Skydrive for free download if anyone would like to use it.

On the right of my desk, at the front, you can see the small butterfly on its mat layer. I did two of these; one of them is used as a closure for the inside wrapper of the card box. I am doing another post about the completion of the 3-D silver butterflies project.

At the back of the desk on the right are a couple of doilies that have been hanging around – I am going to use them in project sometime, and they need to be put away till I’m ready!

In the centre is the box I’ve made for the card, made from the same card as the mat layer of the butterflies. The lid is covered with a printout of a free butterfly background paper I downloaded from the Internet today. In front is the 3-D butterfly card open, with its card insert fixed in. This is made of vellum, printed with another butterfly background image I downloaded and altered the colours – I first desaturated it and then re-coloured it blue, using Serif PhotoPlus. The sentiment is text on a path, in grey. I have stuck down one of my complete-cut silver butterflies under the card insert, bottom right, and it shows through the vellum in a nice subtle way – so subtle you can’t actually see it on this photo.

Not sure how many desks I’ll get to visit tomorrow as we are going to my parents’ in the afternoon and I may be too tired later. I am not sleeping at all well at the moment and spend most of the morning in bed!

Happy WOYWW, everyone!

Monday, 20 February 2012

3-D Silver Butterflies Completed

After sharing my cut files on the Black Cat Forum, someone cut them (very successfully in silver mirror card – I was very impressed, and also very chuffed!) but she said that it might be better if the smallest holes were a bit bigger, to enable it to cut better. I expect it would cut OK with the detail blade, but I took her advice, and I have now altered the design slightly. The following picture shows the two variations (complete and partial cut), before and after editing.

As well as making some of the peripheral holes slightly larger, I have also thickened some of the outlines a fraction, which should help small-sized cuts survive a bit better! Superficially they look very much the same, so I don’t think the design has suffered at all by being somewhat simplified. (It’s a bit like those “Spot the Difference” pictures we used to enjoy as children!)

There was also some discussion about mirror card and how well (or otherwise) it cuts. Until recently I thought mirror card was mirror card was mirror card, but not so! It is quite variable in quality and price, and some cut better than others. The general consensus on the forum was that Anita’s Mirri Board was very good and cut well, although it is fairly thin. I don’t mind about that because for my purposes it doesn’t need to support the weight of a whole card; I’d only be using it for toppers, so I ordered some.

I was then able to do some test cuts, and try to cut my revised butterfly design. Setting the force at 50, I have now got Sheba to cut my butterfly piece for the 3-D project. These are the small sized butterflies, at 2 1/2 inches across, from wingtip to wingtip. I am pleased that I have achieved this, because I prefer the delicate look of the smaller butterflies. I did not want to use the 3 1/2 in ones for this project, and was determined to succeed!

The tube of photo glue is there for a reason! This afternoon, I stripped all the glue off Sheba’s mat, using Crafter’s Companion Stick Away, and turned the mat over, and sprayed it with Crafter’s Companion Stick and Spray, a repositionable adhesive. Dawn, on the Black Cat Forum, says that 3M Spray Mount is better, but I’ve almost run out, so thought I’d use the Stick and Spray instead; I can always re-do it when I get some more 3M. It is like having a new mat! All the deeply engraved lines which I did when I first started, and blunted the blade through using too much force (a common mistake for newbies!), are now on the reverse. The grid marks are still visible and it works just as well.

However, the mirror card has a slightly shiny reverse surface, and it tended to pick up some of the glue off the mat. I was able gently to rub this away, but in places it left dirty streaks which really spoilt the look of my project – normally this wouldn’t matter because it would be on the back, but in this case I am using the reverse of the mirror card on the front. Photo glue is amazing stuff because when it is dry, any excess rubs away completely, and I also sometimes use it to clean off bits of mess on my table or off my hands, and I thought it might do the same with the surface of this card, and it did – beautifully!

This is the reverse side of the mirror card, which will now be the front, with the wings of the butterflies flipped up.

On this picture, you can also see some satisfactory cuts I have made of the complete butterfly, i.e. which cuts out of the background piece completely, and has a body and antennae. The first two of the three were done with Force 25 and 30 respectively on Sheba, and although they were OK in the end, I had to push out quite a few of the holes which hadn’t cut properly. The final one, at F 40, was fine.

You can also see the embossed bodies and antennae, done from the silver side, using a hand-embossing tool. When I flipped the wings up, I folded them along the edge of a ruler to get a nice straight crease.

I then cut the back piece. My idea was to “engrave” the butterfly shapes onto silver mirror card, and I reduced the force right down to 1 (minimum) to prevent the blade cutting through, but with the blade height set to a distance of 2 CDs’ thickness above the surface, the force was still too much, and some of the pieces did cut right through. I reduced the blade height to 1 CD’s thickness, which was satisfactory; I got a nice clear line but nowhere did it cut through.

Finally, I put the Force back up to 40, raised the blade to 2 CDs’ thickness again, and cut out the back piece.

In addition to engraving the butterfly shapes, I also engraved a rectangle 1/4 in larger than the butterfly piece, to make a nice mount effect, and the back piece was cut out a further 1/2 in beyond this.

The next picture shows the 3-D piece stuck down onto the engraved piece.

The final touch was to add a tiny blob of Pinflair gel adhesive underneath each raised wing, to prevent them being flattened. This is crystal clear, and really doesn’t show from the front.

The following pictures show the detail of the underside of the wings with their mirrored surface, and the engraved detail of the layer beneath. I am fascinated by the interplay of multiple reflective surfaces, which give so much interest and movement according to the angle of view and the direction of the light source.

The engraved detail of the butterfly wing underneath the raised wings gives added definition.

This is visible from the sides, and also through the pierced holes in the raised wings.

To mount the card, I folded a piece of A4 card in half to A5, and then trimmed off 9/16 in through both thicknesses of the open edge of the card to reduce the finished width to 5 1/4 in. The finished proportions of this card are more pleasing than A5, I think, being 8 1/4 x 5 1/4 in.

With the butterfly piece glued silver side down onto the back piece with photo glue, when the wings are flipped up, their silver undersides reflect in the mirror card of the back piece, giving a subtle effect against the white card, and causing some interesting plays of light and shade, depending on the lighting, and the angle of view. The white background card thus becomes full of movement and dimension, and is no longer the boring flat surface it was at the beginning.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

WOYWW 141

In case you are wondering, WOYWW stands for “What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday?” and is an opportunity for us all to be mega-nosey and see what messes and other creativity are on our desks mid-week! It is organised by our lovely Julia and if you want to join in, please click the WOYWW logo in my sidebar.

I haven’t been around much since Christmas because I haven’t been well, and when I’ve been a bit better I’ve been trying to catch up with things I couldn’t do, and also trying to learn how to use Sheba, my new Cougar cutter.

I’m having a bit more success with her these days, and have been working on a few things – if you want to see the Valentine card I made for my hubby at the weekend, please click here.

Today I am working on an experimental project using silver mirror card and partially cutting out butterflies so that I can flip their wings up. I have done a separate post about this work in progress as it’s a fairly major project at the moment, using Sheba, my Cougar cutting machine, but I thought you’d like to see the state of my desk, covered as it is with mostly failed butterflies! Superficially they may look OK, but most of them have not cut properly, partly because Sheba wasn’t set up correctly, and partly because they are too small, and need the special detail blade to cut the very tiny pieces out.

If you want to see how this project turns out, please keep an eye on my blog.

At the back of my desk is my latest find – Scotch Quick-Dry adhesive – this has to be the best wet glue ever! It really does dry quickly and gives an excellent strong bond, and doesn’t ripple the paper like PVA sometimes does. Lucy, one of my friends on the Black Cat forum, recommended it.

Hope you all have a very happy WOYWW! Thank you Julia, for organising us all.

3-D Silver Butterflies

Today I am working on a 3-D silver butterfly project. I’ve been struggling with this quite a bit – the first ones I cut were too small (I NEED that detail blade!!) and also Sheba wasn’t set up correctly, so I’ve got several sheets of small butterflies that didn’t cut too well. I decided to cut them larger, and they certainly cut better, although not perfectly – the card may be to blame, and the blade may be a bit blunt.

The first picture shows Sheba cutting some butterflies from a piece of silver mirror card that already has some small butterflies cut from it – most of these have areas which have not cut. The cut in progress shows the smallest pieces being cut first. If you make different areas of the drawing different colours in Inkscape, when you export the drawing to SignCut (the cutting software), you can select individual elements according to colour, and cut them in the order you choose. It is best to cut the small pieces first so that they have maximum support from the uncut surrounding medium.

The idea is to cut around the wings but to leave the body uncut. The wings are then flipped upwards, and the body shape embossed from behind. Originally I was going to do them silver-side up, but I love fiddling around with reflective surfaces, and thought it would be more interesting to have them white side up, and backed onto another piece of mirror card so that the silver undersides of the wings could reflect back and forth off the background.

These are the larger butterflies that I have cut. All the pieces cut out OK this time. They are silver-side up in this photo, and you can see where I have hand de-bossed the bodies and antennae.

Some of my initial very bad cuts left me with some engraved butterfly shapes on the silver card, and I have been experimenting with these as the background, which looks very effective.

I have experimented with painting either the background butterflies (top, in the above picture) or the silver undersides of the wings (the next one down, white side up, overlaid on top of the engraved background) with pearlescent acrylic ink which is translucent and allows some of the silver to show through. The next picture shows the underside of the wing, painted. You can see the pieces that have not cut correctly.

Here is a collection of the smaller butterflies with the two sheets of larger ones which have cut a lot better.

Unfortunately I have now run out of large pieces of silver mirror card, so cannot proceed any further with this project until I can get some more.

I have uploaded the butterfly cut file to my Skydrive for free download, both the complete shape to cut right out, and the wings only, for flipping up as in the pieces in this blog post.

This is still very much a work in progress, so watch this space!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Valentine Card for my Hubby

Following on from yesterday’s post, I have now completed the card for my hubby for Valentine’s day, based on the digital layout I did last year, using Serif CraftArtist:

The first thing I did was to cut out the three layers of card with heart apertures, using Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine. Since learning from Black Cat forum members that setting the blade higher results in better cuts, I cannot believe how much better Sheba is cutting, and how much less force I am needing. I am now setting the blade two CDs’ thickness above the media on the mat. Of course, the card I am using has proved itself to cut very well – I have used 3 colours from the Tim Holtz Distress Core’dinations stack, not because I want to avail myself of the benefits of Core’dinations paper, but because the colours were more or less what I wanted – Aged Mahogany, Victorian Velvet and Milled Lavender. The effect is slightly less mauve than the digital layout.

I printed out a background on some 100 gsm paper, from the same digikit that I did the layout from – “Valentine’s Day 2011,” and cut a small piece from that, which I stuck behind the aperture in the Aged Mahogany paper, which is the back layer. (I also printed out a sheet of this background on some heavier card to go on the back of the finished card, to counteract the weight on the front of the card, and to finish it off nicely.)

I cut out some small hearts from red cardstock that I had – from an online paper mill, unknown weight but cuts really well – I cut 3 different sizes, ranging from 3/4 in down to just under 1/2 in. Some of these would be stuck down, and others would float above the surface on narrow acetate strips.

I thought I was going to have to make some new flowers for this project, but I had four pink roses left from my mother’s 90th birthday card that I made last year, and also various odd flowers that I’d made at various times, and with the addition of a few leaves and some dark red and white feathers, these would provide the embellishment for the bottom of the card.

Here’s a mock-up of the card pieces and the flowers.

Assembling the card was interesting. I wanted a good, deep dimensional feel to this card, to follow through from the digital layout inspiration. I used a double thickness of double-sided foam tape between each of the layers, and when they were all stuck together, I ran some double-sided tape around the edges and adhered some narrow pink satin ribbon with pretty picot edges to cover the rather unsightly edges.

Before I stuck it all together, I stuck some of the small hearts onto the background paper in the central heart, and stuck the rest onto narrow acetate strips, which I then glued between the layers, using Scotch Quick-Dry adhesive – a wonderful new find, thanks to Lucy on the Black Cat forum – it really does dry quickly, and it gives a very good strong bond, too. (Can one ever have enough different types of glue? One needs so many different ones for all the different things one does!)

The flowers and feathers were stuck down using hot glue, which has to be my favourite glue for this sort of thing, as it gives a more or less instant, very strong bond, and really is the only thing for making, and sticking down, flowers.

I had some difficulty cutting the small scalloped heart with the word “hugs” in the centre, as there was really too much detail to cut very small without the detail blade for Sheba (which I haven’t yet got). In the end I made it 2 inches across, and then made a mat layer for it in gold mirror card to show off the cut better. (I have just learnt how to do nesting shapes in Inkscape!) This embellishment was finished off with a small bow to match that on the floral embellishment, and also a tiny charm I bought at the recent craft show.

Here is a picture of the main design of the card. It measures 6 inches square.

To mount this whole design, I matted it onto some dark red card, and created a narrow mat layer in gold mirror card, which in turn was glued down to the main card, also made of the same dark red card. As the finished card is 8 inches square, I had to make this of two pieces, but the join is round the back, and mostly covered by the back printed background piece, so it is not obvious.

Here is a picture of the finished card.

The following pictures show various close-up shots, showing the detail of the embellishments etc.

The last two photos show the ribbon covering the unsightly edges of the layered card and foam tape.

After all my misgivings about not being able to make my dear hubby a special card this year, I have managed it after all! He is so wonderful, and does so much for me, and I am so grateful to have him as my lifelong companion and soul-mate, and I wanted to make him something special to let him know how much I appreciate him. I hope he likes the result!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Valentine Hearts

As usual I am running late, and with a very short deadline… It will be a miracle if my hubby gets a Valentine’s card at all this year, but he will have to console himself that I did go rather over the top with stuff for him last year!!

Last year I took part in a digital scrapbooking challenge and came up with this design for Valentine’s, created in Serif CraftArtist digital scrapbooking software.

I’ve been working all evening to try and come up with something based on this design, working in Inksccape, which is still pretty new software for me, and I’m still finding my way. This is the first basic heart I drew.

I then created three nesting hearts from this, and put them in a square. Each shape is in a different colour, so that SignCut (the software I am using with Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine) can cut each colour separately. I will end up with 3 squares, each with a different sized heart-shaped aperture cut in it, which I shall layer with double-sided foam squares to create some depth.

I spent some time searching through various Inkscape tutorials (thank you Carolyn!) on the Inkscape Cutting Design forum and also on Youtube, and eventually learnt how to make a scalloped border around a heart. It is relatively simple round a circle or a square, but using “add pattern along path,” the small shape which becomes the border was always distorted. However, I was eventually directed to use “Generate from path>Scatter” which worked absolutely brilliantly!

This is the first one I did – combining the basic heart shape with a small circle:

This one went very well, without distortion, using “pattern along path,” but what I really wanted was an open scallop, using a small circle with a hole in the middle, and this is where the problems began. Using “Scatter” I managed to get this result:

The final touch was to add some text:

The idea is to cut this as small as I can, to make a sort of charm to attach to the card. The letters will be cut out in a stencil effect. It would be fun to cut it in shrink plastic, but I’m not sure I’m up to that with Sheba yet – I am still struggling to get a good, consistent cut, although I have had some success with regular cardstock rather than mirror card or the very dense navy blue card I started with (and used too much force and blunted my blade by cutting too deeply into my mat… grrrr).

This small piece will hang loose on the bottom of the card. I also want to make up some paper flowers and leaves to embellish the front, and some ribbon, and maybe a few feathers. The final touch will be to add some small hearts on acetate strips so that they move, emerging from the centre aperture of the card.

I really want to do this!! I’ve got so little time, and since Christmas my health has been such rubbish that I haven’t been able to spend the time in my ARTHaven that I would have liked, and I can’t depend on being well enough over the next couple of days either… We shall see. If I really can’t do it, I shall do a print-out of the digital layout and make that into a card for him. It won’t be quite the same, but it may have to do!

All these heart drawings have now been uploaded to my SkyDrive (see link in my sidebar) and can be freely downloaded.