Friday, October 28, 2011

Simplify - Day 5 {Collection of Recent Simple Cards}

Thanks for joining me this week to [hopefully] simplify your card making.
Here's a couple of simple cards to wrap it up.

Hope you enjoyed, come back next week for some more tips, techniques, and cardmaking fun!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Simplify - Day 4 How to Handmake Christmas Cards {Assembly Line}

I'm sure many of you are getting started on your Christmas cards soon or maybe have already started.  But how many of you have never made your own cards for the holidays but are intimidated on how to start?  It can be easy to do, but there are ways to make it easier.  I hope to show you today how to create beautiful handmade cards that are simple and a joy to give this season.

For starters, you must have the time.  Believe it or not, you probably have lots of this.  Everyone has 24 hours in a day, but most people mismanage most of it.  I'm not saying you do this, and I'm not saying I don't squander hours myself.  I'm just saying that many people think that the Christmas holiday season is insane - and if you look at all that "needs to be done", well, it kind of is.  But what "needs to be done" has to be broken down into managable pieces to check off a list. 

Ok, I get what you're thinking, where does the "time" part come in and how do you think I have so much?

Simple!  How many hours do you spend watching tv?  For the average person, it's 4 hours a day - or 28 in a week.  Hard to believe, but it's true.  Even if you are twice as 'good' as the average person, watching only 2 hours a day - that's still 2 whole hours that you could be getting much more done in.  I use tv as an example, maybe you waste time on me....

Anyway!  The whole point is that you have the time, somewhere.  Now you need a basic design - remember to keep it simple!  Even if you have lots of fun supplies, Copic markers and stamps and embellishments coming out the wazoo, you're not going to want to repeat that 50 times over.  The card you design should take less than 5 minutes to make once you have your prototype.  The average family sends 28 cards during the holidays, so hopefully it should take you less than 140 minutes (or less than 2 1/2 hours.) 

Remember, it doesn't have to be done all at once! 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there.

Let's get the show on the road.  The concept here is assembly line, meaning do the first step of your card to all the cards before moving on to the next step. 

Also please forgive the photo quality, these shots are terrible as I took them at night and did my best to brighten but they seem to have come out a bit orange!

Here are my supplies, from top left - Stickles in Star Dust, Holly, and Candy Cane; Archival Ink in Jet Black, adhesive runner, corner punch, 3 acrylic blocks with stamps pre-set (a set from Inkadinkado: snowman, "be merry" sentiment, and two separate snowflakes on same stamp}, red flat cardstock as base, and white cardstock as top layer.

Start with your card base.  This one is 4 inches wide by 5.5 inches tall.

Cut your white cardstock to measure 3.75 inches wide by 5.25 inches tall.

Punch all 4 corners of the white cardstock.

Adhere white cardstock to red cardstock base.

Stamp "be merry" sentiment in lower right hand corner.

Stamp snowman in center.

Stamp snowflakes twice (snowflakes should be on same acrylic block, this will save time).

Add Holly Stickles to scarf.

Add Candy Cane Stickles to holly berrys on top hat.

Add Star Dust Stickles to dots on ends of snowflakes.

Repeat until all your cards are finished!

Only halfway decent shot of the bunch - a closeup of the snowman

I hope this was helpful to someone out there - it really can be easy to make your own Christmas cards.  Just imagine what your friends and family will think when they see this year's card from you and realize you took the time to make it yourself!

So tell me, do any of you make your own cards for the holiday season?
Or will this year be your first to try?
I wish you all the best of luck, I'm sure they will turn out great!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Simplify - Day 3 {Being OK with White Space}

As a follower of this blog, you may be well aware that my style easily leans toward OTT - Over The Top.  It can be hard to simplify!  But sometimes there just isn't the time to go all out on a card.  Or maybe you want to widen your market if you sell cards; there are lots of people who like a simple look but still want to buy handmade. 

So what's the problem?

White Space.

Doesn't really sound like a problem, does it?  But for many of us it can be hard to be OK with all the "white space" on our cards.  I've even shown cards to my husband, who says, "Um, there's kind of a lot of white space over there".  So back into the craft room I go, with embellishments, ribbons, and glitter flying. 

No more!

I have learned to be OK with the dreaded white space.  I can accept it for what it is, just another tool to show off your design.  Think about it:  what color are the walls in a museum?  White!  Why?  Because they don't want the walls to compete with the art itself.  To translate that in card-speak, maybe let an individual stamp do the talking, and let the surrounding white space give it the opportunity to be showcased.

Here is the first card I made with this concept in mind:
What do you think, not so bad after all, huh?  Just two stamps.  The butterflies are all one stamp, and the 'just because...' sentiment is another.  I used all Ice Stickles on the butterflies to let their designs show through a bit.  From top to bottom Stickles: Coffee, Lime, Arctic, Blueberry, Cherry, Lemon, Strawberry.

A closeup of the Stickles' detail:

Here's the next one:
I just love this stamp collection, 'Plumage' by Fiskars.  I used a lone peacock feather and the word friend.  From center to outside Stickles: Purple, True Blue, Copper, Lagoon, Lemon Ice Stickles, then Lagoon again for the rest of the feather.

A closeup of that amazing feather {and I'm really happy with the Stickles' detail):

As we are coming up on the Christmas holidays, you will start to see more of these cards on the blog.  Here's an example of using the 'white space' concept for a simple Christmas card:

Merry Christmas stamped in Scarlet red ink from a ColorBox Cat's Eye Queue.  Crown from Inkadinkado set #98400, layered over with Icicle Stickles.

Some details on the crown:

It feels good to simplify sometimes.  It has made me pay closer attention to the stamps I'm using and focus on the sheer simplicity of this layout.

So what do you think?  Have you made peace with all the white space or do you think these cards are missing something?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Simplify - Day 2 {Layout}

Many times I have needlessly complicated a layout (or sketch) for a card.  It usually has to do with the concept of filling space (for me anyway).  I want to show you two different sketches/layouts.  I am also entering the top card in the {Mojo} Monday Sketch Challenge and the Wee Memories Challenge.

Here is the more complicated layout - but I did enjoy making it and think it turned out great.
This sketch is courtesy of {Mojo} Monday Sketch Challenge:

And here is my creation:

I love how this turned out - and I wish my camera was behaving a bit better cause it looks fantastic in person.  The black dot in the upper right corner looks like it's dripping but it's not.

Now this card took awhile, but I am very happy with it.

Here's a layout from Hero Arts October Challenge:

Now here are some cards made using the bottom right sketch (which, believe it or not, these are my first of this layout, done a couple days ago!):

This is using paper from The Sasha Paper Collection by Prima Marketing.  So simple - cut a layer of paper to go on top of your card and round the corners.  Cut 9 circles of different papers and adhere them.  I used some stickles to give it some bling, and then tied some aqua twine to finish.

These papers are from K & Company Designer Paper by Amy Butler (ran out of lime twine but it made it around once).  Also added stickles in select areas.

Going for a somewhat non-traditional Christmas look here.  These papers are from another paper collection, but I don't have the spine to it anymore so I can't remember what it is.  I didn't add stickles here because several of these papers already had glitter in them.  Finished with some black and white twine and a bow of red and green twine.

I may like the first card quite a bit, but it definitely took more time than the second layout.  It probably took me the same time to make all three of the 9 circle style as it did to do the first card.  Admittedly, the first one is really cute, but when you need to whip something up the second layout is cute too - and super easy if you have coordinating papers!

So what do you think?  Do you have a "go-to" layout that you find yourself repeating?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Simplify - Day 1

My cardmaking style tends to lean towards 'over-the-top'.  The more glitter, embellishments, 3D pieces I can throw on a card, the better.  But there can be some problems with this train of thought.  For starters, it may take 40 minutes to make one card.  If you sell your cards, it may cost you more to make it than what you can get for it.  You may start to feel like the simple cards aren't good enough; never quite knowing when to stop. 

All of these problems have happened to me recently.  I guess I just wanted to make sure a customer felt like they were getting something worth paying $3.50 for.  However, it has definitely made me take note with regards to how much time I'm taking on a card.  It isn't to say that I can't have fun, fool around and take my time, and come up with an interesting card.  But there are also times where I need to pump out some cards - I don't exactly want to make $3.50 an hour, you know what I mean?

So this week I'm going to do my best to simplify - simple layouts, simple techniques, no 3492847 embellishments on one card - just enjoying the 'white space'.

Take a deep breath, it's going to be okay.

Today I'd like to share some super simple birthday cards.  Actually it's to celebrate Susanna Boyd's {of Paper Craft Planet} birthday!  These won't win any awards or anything, but who cares - I made them in 5-10 minutes!  Not to mention getting rid of some random embellishments that I've had since before Facebook existed!  [Shameless plug alert:  please feel free to "like" Pearl Gateway on FB!]

See?  I told you!  Nothing fancy here.  But as card makers, or any other crafters really, must keep in mind a comment I received the other day.  A kind commenter said that we should remember that non-crafty people have difficulty with even the simplest concepts such as layout.  They cannot do it themselves, so they buy it from us! 

Here's another super simple one.  Perfect for a woman who doesn't like a lot of fuss, but still appreciates a nice card.

So tell me, do you think these cards are too simple?  Are you a minimalist when it comes to your crafting, or are you a "more-is-more" kinda person?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sets or Individual?

As I continue to make cards in hopes that I will finally get the courage to be a vendor at a craft show, I keep wondering what will be a better seller - individual cards or sets of 4 cards.  Previously I had a wonderful opportunity to sell my cards and tags at a cute boutique in Dearborn, Michigan.  Now that I have moved, I don't have that same opportunity but am now on the lookout for something similar.  I have in the past always sold my cards for $3.50 each, which I think is a fair price (shoot, sometimes it seems as if it costs $3.50 to make it!  Sob!).  Now I would like to sell some sets; of themed images, holidays, or color schemes.

My first set was of a bird stamp set by Martha Stewart, click here to check those out.

My second set was a little more recent, you may remember the "map set" I did here.

Now these two sets are both priced at $10, which is an even better deal.  As I mentioned earlier, I sell 1 card for $3.50, or 3 cards for $10 (savings of $0.50).  With a set of 4 cards at $10, they save $4.

Here is my most recent set, a color theme designed to be sent to a friend {just because}:

Here is the second set, a Christmas theme:

The second set I am leaning towards selling it for $12 (still a savings of $2), as all of the stickers are from Jolee's Boutique (which you may know aren't the cheapest embellishments on the shelf).  On the other hand, I didn't really do any creating, I just laid them out and glued them on.

Le sigh!

So now I need your opinion:  which do you like better, selling individually or selling in sets?  Please let me know!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Simon Says Stamp & Wee Memories Challenges

I've been feeling rather uncreative lately and it's really been getting me down.  Luckily, I found two challenges to enter so I could hopefully jumpstart some creative mojo!

The first is for Wee Memories Challenge 71 sponsored by Paper Smooches.  The theme is Halloween, or upon not celebrating Halloween, Fall.  I do celebrate Halloween; however, I somehow have no Halloween stamps.  No bats, no spiders, ghosts, monsters, goblins, candy, witches, eery moons, black cats, phrases such as "trick or treat", I really mean NO HALLOWEEN STAMPS :..(

Anyway, so I was forced decided to do a "fall" themed card. 

Here's my creation:

I actually ended up liking this card alot, mostly because of the teal accents.  Teal isn't really a color I think of when I think of fall, but I feel it really works here.  I put two different ColorBox inks together to get the "autumn greetings" in that custom teal color to match the zig zag ribbon.  Brushed Corduroy and Rusty Hinge Distress Inks made a great background combo, as well as on the the maple leaves.  Lastly, added some Stickles of course in Copper and Aqua.

The next challenge is for Simon Says Stamp Challenge.  Halloween or Goth is the theme.  I may have mentioned that I have NO HALLOWEEN STAMPS, therefore I was forced decided to go with the "Goth" option.

Here's my creation:

Various shades of black, gray, and silver glitter papers inked lightly with Black Soot and Dusty Concord Distress Inks, topped with purple swirl ribbon and black organza ribbon.  I created a gothic looking rose using punches from the McGill flower paper punch collection.  Some purple pearlized pins, and three dots of Gunmetal Stickle to finish.

Hope you enjoyed these two cards, nothing like a good challenge (or two!) to get the creative juices flowing.  Thanks for looking, and feel free to become a follower in the side bar! --->

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How to Use Products You Already Own to Copy Inspiration Cards

"How to Use Products You Already Own to Copy Inspiration Cards"

Is that the longest blog title ever!?  Geez, I wasn't sure what to call it, but what I'm trying to say is...

Have you ever seen a card that you wanted to try to copy on your own, to see if you can make one similar to that of your inspiration?  But you didn't end up doing it because you didn't have the exact same materials as your inspiration card?

I want to change that!  Hopefully I will show you some ideas on how to use replacement products and end up with a similar looking card.

This is the first inspiration, from Jennifer McGuire's Blog.  Jennifer is a super fabulous designer for Hero Arts, the popular stamp company.  She has such a lovely style that is easily seen throughout her cards.  To make this card, she has listed several products, these are among those:

  • Indie Bloom Clear Stamps
  • Distress Ink in Broken China
  • Mister
  • Perfect Pearls
  • Watercolor Paper
Here's my version:
Of course I think hers is better, but I am satisfied with my result.  I've only been 'seriously' stamping for a couple months now, and I still have a lot to learn.  I will tell you what products I don't have, and what I used instead to keep it similar.  I currently do not have: the green paper she used, the stamp set, Perfect Pearls, or the watercolor paper.

I made my own green paper, using a cherry blossom branch stamp with Distress Ink in Peeled Paint on top of green scrapbook paper.  I used a floral bouquet stamp to create the main focal piece, and also embossed it in white.  I inked it with Distress Ink in Faded Jeans and Broken China (I just love these colors!).  I did not spray with a mister; however, I used Tattered Angels Glimmer Mists in Iridescent Gold.  I did not have the same butterfly stamp, so what I did instead was stamp a solid butterfly on yellow paper with clear embossing powder.  I cut them out and gave them some dots with Black Enamel Accents.  The yellow paper was inked on the sides with Scattered Straw Distress Ink.  You can tell I didn't have the same font for "Thank You", but it still gets the message across (no pun intended).  No pearls on hand, but I did have some Liquid Pearls in White Opal - they look shockingly similar. 

Here is the second inspiration card, created by Shari Carroll, who also designs for Hero Arts.  I love her style and how she uses her Silhouette on many of her cards.  In this Christmas Card, she used amongst other things the following:

  • Hero Arts Christmas background stamp
  • Hero Arts ornaments stamp
  • Hero Arts digital die cut for the ornaments stamp
  • Hero Arts "Merry Christmas" sentiment
  • Brown ribbon
  • Twine
  • Copic Markers
It's funny to me that despite all of the craft supplies I have, I don't have any of these!!
[By funny I mean not funny, and my Amazon Wish List is bursting at the seams!  Sob!]

Here's my version:

I started with a brown card, and put several stamps from different collections together to make my own background stamp (primarily Inkadinkado).  I inked it with Walnut Stain Distress Ink, then inked the "Merry Christmas" sentiment onto white cardstock and adhered to the card base.  I cut a slit in the side with scissors [I don't even have a craft knife!? Double sob!], and tied some lime green satin ribbon through [How does one not even have brown ribbon...sheesh...].  I then made my own ornaments!  One was an actual stamp, the center, inked in Frayed Burlap Distress Ink and outlined in black marker.  The one on the right is a circle punch with a snowflaked inked in Crushed Olive and outlined also.  The ornament on the left is a McGill starburst punch.  I glued some silver metallic trim down using Glossy Accents for the ornament 'wire'.  Lastly, Stickles in Lime Green, Platinum, Cinnamon, Gold, and Copper to top off the ornaments [gotta have some glitz factor!]
So now I want your opinion! 
Should I rush out and buy the same products to duplicate exactly or do you think my versions are okay?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Young Crafters Unite Challenge

Here's another challenge entry for the day - this one is for Young Crafters Unite.

{If you are looking for the Paper Smooches Challenge click here.}

The challenge is to create an envelope to match the card - no required stamps to use at all! [which I like because I hate when I don't have a particular company's line of stamps; it makes me feel bad]

So here's what I created:

I started out with a blue card, and embossed it with this super gorg Fiskars peacock feather background using Zing! powder in metallic teal.  I stamped the peacock onto white cardstock using various shades of ColorBox ink.  Purple and True Blue Stickles were added to the peacock after I placed it on some ultraviolet cardstock and gave some depth with foam dots.  The tag quotes "Proud to be your Friend" in teal marker, and inked with Peeled Paint, Broken China, Chipped Sapphire, and Dusty Concord Distress Inks.  Looped through with some purple satin ribbon and fun feathery blue ribbon.  A couple dots of Liquid Pearls in White Opal to frame it out.  Don't forget the embossed feather on the card to match!

Check out the detail on this proud peacock!

Hope you enjoy!!  Thanks for looking, and if you're new to Pearl Gateway and like what you see, I'd love to share more with you as a follower!

Paper Smooches SPARKS Challenge Oct 6-19

Today is a challenge entry for Paper Smooches SPARKS Challenge October 6-19.

{If you are looking for the Young Crafters Unite Challenge, click here

[I have been wanting to enter challenges for so long, not sure what has been the hold up.]

The prizes for this challenge are:

First place...we are choosing a PRO stamper - someone who we think is a rock star - that person wins: THREE stamp sets of their choice (a $45 value)

Second place winner is called a PRIMO stamper - who we think is super fabulous - and will win TWO PS stamp sets of their choice (a $30 value)

We will choose ONE random winner to receive ONE PS stamp set and THREE shaped card templates of their choice (a $21 value)

The inspiration image:
The only rule was requiring use of a Paper Smooches stamp, digi stamp, or a Kim Hughs Colllection stamp by Cornish Heritage Farms.

As I don't yet have any of those, Paper Smooches has some FREE digi stamps on their site!

I picked this super cute cupcake:

And here's my creation:
I started out with a golden yellow card, and ran it through my Sizzix Texture Boutique.  I inked up the raised parts with Scattered Straw Distress Ink, then just the edges with Peeled Paint.  I found some pale red gingham paper that I thought would go perfectly as a background piece.  I cut the cupcake out, propped it up on some foam tape and started to decorate!  A brown Prismacolor pencil and brown Pentel marker were used on the 'wrapper' part, and the 'frosting' is more Scattered Straw with fabric border pieces, embellished with Lime Green and Goldenrod Stickles.  The 'cherry' is Candy Cane Stickles.  I stuck some pearlized needles in the side to go with the sewing theme and wrapped the cupcake with green and white baker's twine.  Then I folded some darker red gingham paper accordion style to make the "You're Sweet" sentiment below.

This was really a challenge for me, firstly because it was, well, my first.  Secondly, these aren't really colors I gravitate towards (I'm more of a ocean blues type of person), so these colors were definitely out of my norm.  Third, I didn't have any Paper Smooches stamps :-( {yet} so I was hoping the cupcake wouldn't look out of place.

I hope you like it!  Do you normally enter card making (or other craft) contests?  Even better, have you ever won?