Thursday, 21 June 2018

Card and Present for a Centenarian

On Saturday we are going to a party to celebrate a friend’s 100th birthday. She is a truly remarkable lady and you’d never guess she was this old! She gets out and about and joins in everything, and is a real character. I really wanted to make her something special for her birthday but didn’t have much time to do it, so this week I’ve pulled out all the stops and really cracked on, and at last I’ve finished, bar a few finishing touches.

The Card

In February I went to the Craft4Crafters craft show in Exeter, and bought some lovely dies by Die’sire (Crafters’ Companion) – these are supposed to be to create easel cards but I thought this lady might not know how to work them, so I decided on doing a straightforward card for her, using most of the elements. I chose the gorgeous butterfly card set.

Here is the topper in the early stages. I forgot to photograph every stage, but I chose some paper and card from a wonderful collection that a friend gave me for my birthday – she was so delighted that I was already starting to use them. The base layer is a dull gold card with bright gold text, “Congratulations” all over it. I chose a piece of green and white floral card for the next mat layer, and on top of this, a decorative paper with pink roses on a green and white background. These two mat layers were cut with the two frame dies from the set, and I distressed the edges of the top layer with distress inks and a bit of water spattering.

Here’s a more detailed shot. Originally I was going to use one or both of the wide ribbons in the previous photo but on further consideration, thought they were a bit too wide, so I chose a narrow pink organza ribbon, and a slightly narrower green satin one with a picot edge instead. I also selected a few flowers left over from the Floral Mini-Album project, which would tone in nicely with this card.

I selected some sentiment pieces from my stash, which I had cut some time ago on Sheba, my Cougar cutting machine. I coloured the text pieces with Worn Lipstick Distress Stain, and the shadow pieces I first coloured with Dried Marigold Distress Stain to give a nice rich base colour, and then added Treasure Gold gilding wax.

I layered the pieces, sticking them together with spray adhesive. Behind, you can see my home made spraying booth.

Turning to the inside of the card, I coloured it very lightly, using Inkylicious Ink Dusters and Distress Inks, first working in from the edge with Evergreen Bough, and then covering the whole of the middle with Antique Linen. After this, I stamped a selection of butterflies with Versamark and heat-embossed them with clear embossing powder. I then continued to colour the paper, first with Old Paper Distress Ink, and then a little Spun Sugar, concentrating on the areas where the embossed butterflies were. I rubbed these with very slightly damp kitchen paper to remove any ink from the embossing, and added some water spatters which I allowed to sit for a minute or two before blotting them off. The final touch was to add a bit more distressing around the edges, this time with Bundled Sage Distress Ink and a home-made ink blender.

The result is quite subtle, I think, and the embossed butterflies echo the theme of the card.

Here is a mock-up of the front of the card with all the elements laid in place.

The two little leaves were from my stash. Every now and then I cut a whole sheet of different elements on Sheba, from white card, and store them away, ready for when I need them, and I can colour them individually according to the project. This time I used Bundled Sage Distress Stain.

To add a bit of interest, I daubed a little Forest Moss Distress Stain onto my craft sheet and with a very fine wet brush, added a deeper colour to pick out the veins of the leaves. I spritzed them lightly with water and blotted them to soften the effect a little, and then dried the leaves with my heat gun. They were stuck down with Scotch Quick Dry adhesive.

Here is the finished card with the final elements added. I left it out overnight to allow the glue etc. to dry.

Before attaching the topper to the base, I attached the two layers of ribbon, fixing them on the back of the gold “Congratulations” card with double sided tape, and attaching a small piece of each, folded over to form two tails, with glue dots. The top of this was covered with the paper flowers, which were attached with hot glue. The leaves were stuck down with Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive.

The butterflies in the die set all have the ability to have their wings folded upwards, and whenever I do this, I always add a blob of Pinflair glue gel under each wing to keep them up and stop them getting flattened. This glue dries crystal clear and you really don’t see it. It also doesn’t lose any dimension as it dries, making it ideal for uses such as this. It is a very three-dimensional glue.

I added a few dots of Holly Stickles down the bodies of the butterflies, and in the centre of the smaller pink flower. Both the Pinflair and the Stickles glitter glue need time to dry before they can be handled. Unfortunately the Stickles dry a lot flatter than they appear when first applied, which I think is a shame because I love the 3-D effect you get with them when they are wet.

I stuck down the sentiment on the front of the card and inside, using Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive.

Now all that remains is to cover a box that I’ve got, which will serve as an envelope – the whole thing is rather thick, with the roses and the raised butterflies’ wings.

The Present

A small cross-stitch plaque with the word “Shalom” in Hebrew and English letters. The tall stroke of the Hebrew letter “lamed” extends to become the English “L”. I worked this cross-stitch with two strands of stranded cotton on 22-count Aida fabric, working in the small clip-frame which has a hanger on the top.

Beside it you can see the original one which I made for myself.

When this photo had been taken, I had completed the cross stitch but had not yet done the outlining back stitch in black, using a single strand of stranded cotton. This really helps the design stand out against the background, as you will see if you compare the two plaques.

I created the original design on a programme called EasyCross, several years ago. Unfortunately this software does not work fully with Windows 10. I was able to print out the design (top right in the above photo) but the colours weren’t right, and it was covered with very distracting diagonal dotted lines. I ended up colouring the background with coloured pencils to show me where to change. Before I did this, I found I was making numerous mistakes, and the bottom half of the design had to be fudged a bit but it’s worked out OK. The graduations between the rainbow colours were achieved by mixing threads on the needle – one strand of each colour. In the original, I worked alternate stitches of each colour for the transition, and I can’t decide which I prefer.

I have bought a new cross-stitch designing programme called WinStitch (there is also an Apple version called MacStitch). Unfortunately the old EasyCross files won’t open in this programme but at least I can print out my original designs and copy them into the new programme. This will take a long time but it will be nice to have them available again. I haven’t done any of this for such a long time and now feel I want to take it up again, and I was very pleased to find that an alternative programme exists to replace the now defunct EasyCross. A shame this programme has been discontinued because it was very good indeed.

Here is the completed plaque.

This is the reverse.

To finish off the back, I trimmed back the edges of the embroidery fabric and glued it to the inner ring of the frame with tacky glue, leaving it to dry for a while, held in place by a series of plastic clamps that I’ve got.

I stuck some cream polycotton fabric onto a piece of self-adhesive pelmet Vylene and used the inner ring of the frame as a template to make a paper pattern to cut it out. Unfortunately I had to cut this by hand and it’s a bit shaky round the edges! I think what I need to do is to scan the inner ring, and use this image to create a template in Inkscape, which I can cut on the cutting machine, which would give a much neater result.

To neaten it a bit, I ran some tacky glue around the junction between the two frames and stuck on some gold Lurex crochet thread, finishing it off with a small bow that I made on my bow maker. This was stuck down with a tiny blob of Pinflair gel adhesive, and again, this was left to dry overnight. I have also signed the back and dated it.

I am busy tomorrow morning, but I have every hope that I shall finish off this whole project in the afternoon, and get it wrapped ready for the birthday party the following day.

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