Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A birthday card idea that works for either a man or a woman

Birthday card with Birdie Told Me Bugaboo digital stamp.

I whipped up this card just because I felt like coloring. As I was working away, listening to the radio, caught up in the 'coloring zone' I realized I haven't changed all that much – I liked to color as a kid, I like to color as an adult (and I've really gotten good at staying in the lines!). Since I don't have this card in mind for anyone particular, I decided to make it an androgynous model that would work for either a man or woman. It isn't as overtly masculine as this goler's card, but I think it will go.

Bugaboo Birdie Told Me digital stamp detail

The Birdie Told Me digital stamp is from Bugaboo Digi Stamps. What a great stamp this is; you can use it for any occasion! I decided to make it a birthday card. I used the free Sandscript BTN font for the inside sentiment. The digital paper is from the Chelsie digital paper pack by Sassy Designs.

My design uses the Stella Says Sketch 312 from the Catch the Bug Challenge.

Supply List
Paper – cardstock, Chelsie digital paper pack by Sassy Designs.
Digital stamp – Birdie Told Me digital stamp from Bugaboo Digi Stamps
Color – Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 pencils
Dies – Die-namics circle stax and photo corners, Artemio scalloped circle die
Embellishments – button, ribbon

I'm linking up with: Crafting by Designs September – Anything Goes, Creative Moments #76 – Anything Goes/Use a Sentiment, Inspiration Destination #49 – Anything Goes, Ruby's Rainbow Challenge #112 – It's a Man's World and Shopping Our Stash #217 – Put a Bird On It.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Paris's beautiful street signs and typography

Paris Metro Sign from Slate Photo Blog
Photo from Slate Photo Blog

Next time you're in Paris, take a good look at the art around you, no, not in a museum, on the street! Paris's street signs – as author Louise Fili shows – are works of art in themselves. For more photos and information click on over to Slate's photo blog.

Even though much of this stunning signage and typography is slowly slipping away, for the moment there's quite a lot still there for us to gawk it and perhaps Ms. Fili's work is just what Paris needs to remind itself to preserve it. I'm always on the look out for interesting Paris street art, next time I visit I'm going to pay more attention to the signs.

Her new book Graphique de la Rue: The Signs of Paris is due out in October. I'm definitely putting this one on my wish list.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A card idea for tea lovers

A card idea for tea lovers with DigiStamp Boutique Coffee Break digital stamp set.

This greeting card (a great card idea for tea lovers!) uses the Coffee Break digital stamp set from DigiStamp Boutique. This is such a versatile set; I used one of its coffee digital stamps for my husband's Valentine's day card this year. Unfortunately, the set has been retired; as far as DigiStamp Boutique goes, that is, I'm not finished with it yet!

Tea lover's card detail of digital stamp from DigiStamp Boutique Coffee Break set.

The flower and button are from my stash. Don't they mimic the floral design on the teacup perfectly?! I've left the inside blank. This multipurpose sentiment can work for Just Because, Birthday, Anniversary, etc.

The digital paper comes from Snap Click Supply Company. This is a great 'where to buy site' for digital papers, stamps, templates, etc. to use in digital and/or hybrid papercrafting. Here you'll find the big names you're familiar with in digital form – BasicGrey, BoBunny, Cosmo Cricket, Echo Park, etc. I strongly suggest signing up for their newsletter. There's always a special offer going on. Every Wednesday it's One Buck ($1) Wednesday where a choice of papers, templates, kits, etc. are on sale that day only for just $1!!! I've gotten some fantastic buys that way. The paper I've used on this card – Samantha Walker Tea for Two digital paper set – is a case in point. It was featured in a One Buck Wednesday sale and I snapped it right up for only $1 (its normal price is $2.99).

I'm participating in Sketch Saturday #376, which is to choose and use any sketch from their archive. I chose #297.

Supply List
Paper – cardstock, Samantha Walker Tea for Two digital paper
Digital stamp – DigiStamp Boutique Coffee Break set
Color – Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 pencils
Dies – Die-namics circle stax
Embellishments – button, wooden flower

I'm linking up with: 613 Avenue Create #139 – Anything Goes, Crafty Friends #13 – Use a Sentiment, DigiDesigns Challenge – Use a Sentiment, The Pencil Case Wk 1 – A = Anything Goes, Chocolate, Coffee and Cards #98 – Use a Sentiment, Crafty Girls Creations #3 – Always Anything Goes and DigiStamp Boutique August customer competition.

Friday, August 28, 2015

What is Annecy, France like?

Wednesday, my husband and I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather we've been having with a visit to one of our favorite towns in the area – Annecy – in the Haute-Savoie department of France. If you're visiting Geneva, Switzerland, Annecy is the perfect day trip, by car or train.

Pont des Amours bridge in Annecy, France.
The Pont des Amours (Love Bridge) is a well known tourist spot.

Annecy is situated on the Lac de Annecy and is known as 'the Venice of the Alps' due to the canals that wind through its Vieille Ville (old town).

View from the Pont des Amours bridge in Annecy, France.
The view from the other side of the Pont des Amours.

This was a good week to go as the bulk of summer tourists have returned home (school starts here September 1st).  The Palais de l’Isle is probably Annecy's most photographed point of interest. Built in the 12th century, it's had several incarnations over the years – from aristocratic residence to prison.

The Palais de l'Isle in Annecy, France.
The Palais de l'Isle (center) one of Annecy's most photographed points of interest.

Pastel buildings and cobbled streets invite you to wander through the Vieille Ville.

Pastel building fronts in the old town of Annecy, France.
Pastel building fronts in the old town.

If all that walking works up your appetite, you'll have no problem finding something to eat; temptation abounds. This boulangerie always has a line out the door.

An old boulangerie in Annecy, France.
The window display in this boulangerie makes your mouth water.

Annecy hotels are plentiful. Our favorite restaurant in Annecy, the Auberge du Lyonnais (blue awning to the left in the photo below), is an excellent seafood restaurant and very nice small hotel.

A picturesque flowered canal in Annecy, France.
Make sure your batteries are charged – photo ops abound.

If you happen to be in Annecy around the holidays, the Christmas Market is a must visit.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

You're the Cat's Meow birthday card (no BUTT about it!)

birthday card for cat lovers

This card is made with a digital stamp from the now defunct Meljens Designs and is the perfect birthday card for cat lovers. It just cracks me up and made the perfect birthday card focal image for a cat loving friend.

birthday card two cats with tails in the air

The cat themed paper is from Sassy Design's Meow Mix digital paper pack.

A gray wooden flower, red button and twine dress it all up.

Supply List
Paper – cardstock, Sassy Designs Meow Mix digital paper pack
Digital stamp – Meljen's Designs Kitty Butts digital stamp
Color—Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 pencils
Dies – Die-namics rectangle stax
Embellishments – button, wooden flower, twine

I'm linking up with: Digi Choosday wk 34 – Use Two or More Papers, Retarte #59 – Anything Goes, TTCRD wk. Aug. 25 – Aug. 31 – Anything Goes, 613 Avenue Create #138 – Anything Goes, The Creative Corner Link-up Party, Artistic Inspirations #138 – Anything Goes, Crafting from the Heart #74 – Always Anything Goes, Craft Your Passion #276 – Always Anything Goes, Love to Scrap #60 – Anything Goes and Not Just Cards #23 – Always Anything Goes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A tutorial—How to blend pencil colors on a stamp without using dangerous mineral spirits—How to color and shade a stamp with one pencil

Many (if not most) of the stamp colorists I see on the internet using pencils to color their stamps are using mineral spirits to blend their colors. I'm sure quite a few would-be pencil users are put off by this process and choose not to color with pencils rather than use a dangerous solvent. This is a shame because colored pencils are an easy and affordable way to color. Potential pencil colorists are right to be concerned though; mineral spirits are dangerous. Of the most popular solvents on the market Gamsol is probably the safest, but even it has its dangers (see fact sheet here). The truth is you don't have to use a solvent at all, I don't. This tutorial will show you how.

This little card making tutorial serves two purposes:

1. To show would-be pencil colorists how to achieve a very good result with graduation in blending, color and shading with a single colored pencil (an expensive initial investment in numerous pencils is not necessary).

2. To show you do not have to use mineral spirits to blend.

For this stamp project I've used:

Wink-Wink Opal Manor free digital stamp (an easy stamp for beginners)
180g drawing paper cut to 10cm x 15cm (you need a good paper for blending)
a quality pencil sharpener
Derwent Blender pencil (a must!)
mini duster
Faber-Castell Perfect 7057 eraser pencil (the best for stamps!)
a quality permanent yellow-gold pencil
a quality permanent black pencil
a quality permanent blue pencil

Note on pencils—not all pencils are created equal. You want a quality permanent pencil with a smooth, blendable lead. A water color pencil will not work with this technique. I use Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 pencils. They have a smooth permanent lead, excellent color fastness and bright pigments. I've used #820 Golden Bismuth Yellow, #009 Black and #162 Phthalocyanine Blue.

1. Add a sentiment if you wish to the Wink-Wink stamp and print on a 10cm x 15cm cut of drawing paper. I think this stamp looks like the sun, hence my sentiment. Drawing papers vary by the grain. If one side of your paper has a rougher grain than the other, print the stamp on the smoothest side. I use a table top easel, an old children's chalk board, and clips for coloring. It is easier to color this way and less strain on your neck. This is my set up.

2. First thing with any stamped (digital or traditional) image is to decide where your imaginary light source is coming from. I tend to like my light coming from above the stamp to the right. Pencil in a little sun to remind you where your light is.

3. Imagine if you were looking at a round object like this, and the sun were overhead in the right corner—where would your shadows be? Where would your highlights be? Take the yellow pencil and with a very light hand, with hardly any pressure on the pencil, add color to the image, leaving the top right of the 'head' white (this is where the light would be hitting).

4. Now you're going to lay in a darker layer. Imagine your shadow once again. Towards the bottom and left of the circle your shadow would be naturally darker. Applying a little more pressure this time, color slightly darker towards the bottom and left outside edge of the image. Imagine how this round image would feel in your hands if you could hold it. Think of that when coloring. Imagine you're coloring a 3D object following its shape. Put in a very narrow line of color at the top right side of the 'highlight' area.

5. What you have should look like the above.

6. Now we're going to blend using the Derwent Blender pencil. This pencil is my coloring secret weapon. Go over the entire image blending the colors and smoothing out the edges. Google the Derwent Blender pencil and you will find some great tutorials for using it.

7. The colorless blender pencil has a slightly sandy feel to it. After blending I dust off any excess.

8. Your image will look something like the above.

9. Now we're going to put in the darkest shadows. Using the yellow pencil, color in the very bottom and left edge of the image, applying more pressure on the pencil to achieve a darker color. Apply some shadow under the smile and the left 'eyebrow'. Again, imagine it's a 3D round object and that your coloring follows its shape.

10. Take the blender pencil and blend the darker and lighter areas. Use the duster to lightly brush away any 'sandiness'.

11. Sharpen the yellow pencil to a fine point, applying more pressure (but not too much, the point will break!) draw a thin darker line just inside the image's outline. If you accidentally go outside the line, this is where the Faber-Castell Perfect 7057 eraser pencil comes in handy to remove any goofs.

12. To redefine the stamp's edges and features, use a sharpened black pencil point to lightly trace the lines of the smile, wink and outside edge.

13. What you have now will look something like the above.

14. Let's color in the eye; if you're wondering what the two little white circles on the iris of the eye are, that's a handy trick by the designer to remind you to not color them. They are the reflected highlights of the eye. You should always have a point of white on the eye. Use a blue pencil with medium pressure to color in the iris.

15. . . . and here's your finished image! This shows what you can do with a single pencil color and no dangerous solvents. Admittedly, I used one pencil for the sake of this tutorial to illustrate a point—if I were doing this for myself, I would have used four pencils to color in the yellow—but this just proves that you don't have to spend a lot to achieve a pleasing result. Once you begin using pencils you can add in more colors and practice your degrees of shading.

And here's the card I made! I used Sassy Designs Sunshine digital paper pack, cardstock, twine and a sunny charm to accent my colored image. My sentiment font is LA Headlights BTN.

I'm linking up with: Through the Craft Room Door Aug. 18-24 – Anything Goes, Artistic Inspirations #138 – Anything Goes, Crafting from the Heart #73 – Anything Goes, Craft Your Passion #275 – Anything Goes, Crafty Card Makers #145 – Warm Summer Colors, Dream Valley Challenges #113 – Add a Charm, Love to Scrap #60 – Anything Goes, CCC Digi Creations #31 – Anything Goes, 613 Avenue Create #137 – Anything Goes, and The Creative Corner Link-up Party.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

You Ought to Be in Pictures—bright vintage retro look birthday tag

This is the third and final tag in my bright vintage ladies series (a series out to prove that vintage can be colorful). The first tag is HERE and the second HERE.

As with the other two, the focal image is cut from a February 1955 issue of Woman's Home Companion. I scanned the image and reduced it in size to use in the film strip die cuts.

I used an overlay from the Snapshot digital paper pack from Sassy Designs and printed it on bright pink cardstock.

As with the over two, I used Elizabeth Craft Designs Tags & More 8 dies for my base tag and continued the established sentiment theme using French on the front and English on the back.

Supply List
Paper—cardstock, Sassy Designs Snapshot digital paper pack overlays
Image—found vintage image
Dies—Elizabeth Craft Designs Tags & More 8, Toga DCT-19 Négatif Photo die, Die-namics circle stax
Embellishments—vintage button, ribbon, twine
Font—Birds of Paradise

I'm linking up with: As You Like It challenge—Favorite 2 Embellishments and Why. Mine are buttons and twine. Buttons give a nice touch without taking up too much space. Twine can dress up a button or ribbon, is nice on its own where ribbon would be too much, and works well on masculine cards.

Crafting with an Attitude #6—Anything Goes, Cute Card Thursday #386—Anything Goes, In the Pink #75—Anything Goes with pink, Crafting by Designs—3 or more layers, Crafting for All Seasons #107—Bright and Beautiful, and Inspiration Destination #46—Anything Goes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Muriel Hermine—this is what 51 looks like, this is what 51 can do

French synchronized swimmer Muriel Hermine competed in the 1984, 1988 Summer Olympics and 28 years after her last international medal and a 15 year hiatus from swimming altogether, at 51 she has just won the gold in solo synchronized swimming at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships, going on right now in Kazan, Russia.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Let the summer vacations begin! (Summer isn't over just yet)

Photo and article Getty Images – HERE

I always get a little frustrated looking at blogs this time of year. Bloggers in the States writing about 'Back to school' and 'the end of summer' and 'Fall's just around the corner' make me want to shout, "But it's still summer!". I happen to enjoy summer and want it to last as long as possible. Just for the record, technically summer ends September 23.

Summer is still going strong this month in France (pretty much all of the EU for that matter). This last weekend was the start of the biggest vacation month of the year. French citizens have the right to 5 weeks of paid vacation per year (all EU countries have the legal right to at least 4) and they take a big chunk of that in July or August, mainly August. Many businesses close down in August to join their employees and customers in some quality time off. I don't recommend traveling by car this time of year (as the above photo shows), traffic jams south on the A7—Autoroute du soleil—abound. And beaches along the coasts have the tendency to look like this:

Photo and article from Mail online – HERE

It's a great time to visit Paris, though. The Parisians have left en masse and the city is noticeably less crowded. True, some restaurants and businesses in Paris will be closed this month, but there are more than enough others to choose from.

School starts in France the first of September, but another wave of vacationers hit about that time. Retirees and others for whom school opening is not a issue.

Vive l'été!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Just Bee-cause card made with Opal Manor free digital stamp

I made this birthday card for my aunt with a free bee digital stamp from Opal Manor. It's supposed to be for Valentine's Day, but I think it makes a nice birthday card and could work for any number of occasions (especially anniversaries).

My outside sentiment . . . Just Bee-cause in Sweetly Broken font, is followed up by the inside sentiment . . . it's your birthday! and a personalized message to my aunt. The paper is from the Bumble digital paper pack from Sassy Designs.

Like all artists, a crafter's style changes and I've noticed mine is doing just that. I wouldn't say I'm CAS quite yet, but I'm going brighter, with less embellishments (obvious when you look at this card here). Coloring is my favorite thing to do and since I've made the switch to digital stamps, I enjoy it even more (no messy ink, I can size to the project and a perfect imprint every time). I don't think a pretty colored stamp needs much embellishment. And too, I want to make cards I can actually and easily mail.

I've used the sketch from Aud Sentiments challenge #137:

Supply List
Paper—cardstock, Sassy Designs Bumble digital paper pack
Digital Stamp—Free Opal Manor Can I Bee Your Valentine
Color—Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 pencils
Dies—Artemio scalloped circles, Die-namics Rectangle and Circle stax
Embellishments—bee button (shaft removed), twine
Font—Sweetly Broken

I'm linking up with: Card & Scrap #101—Anything Goes, Crafts Galore Encore August—Anything Goes, Oddball Art Stamp challenge—Die Cuts, Sisters of Craft August—Anything Goes, 613 Avenue Create #134—Anything Goes, Dragonfly Dreams August—Flying High with Wings, and The Creative Corner link-up party.