Stenciling Like Mad

The most recent online card class was all about stencils. So, for the last week, I have had a great time playing with stencils, inks, embossing paste, powders, and all kinds of sparkly things. My fingers are ink-stained, my desk is sporting some new “distressing” and all of my family members have gotten cards. I do have to admit, I was so tickled with some of them that I kept the cards sitting pretty on my desk for a few days, admiring my creative genius (lol).

Day 1: Inking and Misting. You know, I love the way cards look with misting. I just don’t like to do it, except for the occasional spritz with a Perfect Pearl mist. There are so many other things I enjoy and I reserve my small space for those things. I don’t have room for a misting box. If I loved it, I would find room (don’t we always?). So, instead of misting, I focused on the inking aspect and created this:

Day 1: Inking

I used four distress inks, two pinks and two yellows/oranges. It was really bright. I liked it, but wanted to be able to see it without my sunglasses, so tamed it a bit with some vellum. The “Thank You” is stamped directly on the vellum. As an after-thought, I should have stamped it on the card stock. I also used the same distress inks on the little flowers. Aren’t they pretty? I’m learning how to form flowers. These are a pretty good attempt, I think.

Here’s another for day 1. I told you, I love getting inky! The sentiment is “Wishing you a beautiful day.”

Day 2, Take 2

Day 2: Template Techniques. This day focused on using a combination of stamps or pens/pencils and the stencil to create a unique design. I did one. It did not work at all. My stencils all have smaller negative space than the ones demonstrated during class. The more detailed stencils don’t do well for this technique. Something to try again later . . . after adding to my stencil stash! Gotta love a good excuse to build the stash!

Day 3: Texture and Dimension. You wouldn’t think a girl who hates to have dirty hands would love the mess of embossing paste. But I really do! It’s not all that messy and what little there is cleans up, but it is a bit intimidating to drag out all of the tools and make a sticky mess. The hardest part is waiting for it to dry. It’s so hard to keep from running my hands across it in admiration and to doll it up with sparklies or patterned papers. Love it! Okay, I better quit talking about it or I will quit writing to go play some more.

Day 3: Texture

For this one, I actually didn’t even use a stencil. I made an even layer of white embossing paste over the card front. Then, while it was still wet, I pressed a background stamp into it – gently. When I pulled up the stamp, I had this lovely, leafy impression that was perfect under this leaf die. A bit of vellum for the sentiment and, voila! A friendly yet sophisticated card. By the way, use background stamps with very little detail. The more detailed, the less appealing the impression will be (the embossing paste kind of squishes around the edges). And the harder it is to clean the stamp. Don’t ask.

Day 4: One Step Further. This day was all about creating your own stencil using dies. I tried to make a hexagon full-page stencil with a die and some acetate from a package. I just couldn’t get it to cut through enough. I ended up with several torn places and gave up for the day. Sometimes it’s just better to walk away. I’ll give it another shot with another die. . . another day.

That’s it! Thanks for sticking with me on this forever-long post!

Happy creating. . . Alicia

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Lexie’s New Work Book

Lexie actually likes school work. She loves writing, reading, and counting. She especially loves having a task to do. Give the girl an assignment, “take this to the sink,” or “draw one like mine,” and she’s happy as a clam. A few months ago, we ordered this great book from “Writing Without Tears.”

HWOT Cover "My First School Book."

HWOT Cover “My First School Book.”

The book is designed to teach children how to write letters, numbers, and shapes. For each letter, there is a warm-up page that introduces the types of lines and curves used for the letter. There is also a page to color that has images that begin with the letter (an alligator and apple for “A”, for example). Next comes the page to write the letter itself. The child gets several tries, each with a little less help than the one before. By the end of the page, the only cue is the starting point and the child is writing the letter independently.

Lexie likes the book and I have found it easy to use a page or two every few days.

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Knowing that she would need to practice each letter many times, I’ve been making copies of the day’s pages rather than writing directly in the book. Today, I used my paper trimmer to separate the pages of the book and put each page into a page protector (The heavy duty ones work best) then put the works into a binder. I bought some dry erase crayons. In the box are also a sharpener and an eraser cloth. Both this items store easily in the binder with our work pages.

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Now I just leave the binder on a low shelf and Lexie can help herself. It’s also just that much easier for me to pull it out and get her started on a task. So far today, she has practiced drawing triangles, writing the letter “A” and coloring with the color black. The best part is erasing it when she’s all done. Sometimes all it takes is changing things up a bit to get us interested again. This seems to have done the trick.
In addition to the workbook, we have laminated sheets with all the letters (upper- and lower-case). Handwriting without Tears sells those as well as some wood pieces in long lines, short lines, large and small curves. These are laid on top of the letter sheets to make every letter. We usually do one of the warm up pages in the workbook, switch to the manipulatives (wood pieces), then go back to the workbook to write the letters. It works. She doesn’t write well, but she does write and she improves every day. In fact, today, she wrote “mommy” for the very first time! It’s hanging on the refrigerator until I move it to my keepsake box. It is the first word she has written, aside from her own name. I’m just tickled.

If you have any questions about the Handwriting Without Tears system, leave me a comment. I might not know the answer, but can probably direct you to the right place.

It’s What’s on the Inside. . .

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. That’s okay. I think the only person that looks for it regularly is Mom (thanks, Mom!). When there is an on-line card class, like now, my fellow students may swing by. Otherwise, it’s a pretty quiet blog. That’s alright. It takes the pressure off to come up with some clever topic or amusing antic to share. Not that it’s hard to come up with an antic in this family. Someone is always doing something that tickles my funny bone. Need an example?

For the sake of card class visitors, I’ll offer a quick intro. Our daughter, Lexie, is six. She has Down Syndrome so has absolutely no guile or maliciousness. She calls it like she sees it. Her Daddy and I tuck her in together every night. She loves the special time and it usually includes some kind of observation about Daddy. Sometimes she notices a new “owie” that needs a kiss. Sometimes she pats his bald spot or identifies the features of his face. She is especially fond of his mustache. A couple nights ago, she discovered eyebrows. She touched mine and said, “eyebrow.” She touched hers and said, “eyebrow.” Then she put her little fingers on Daddy’s and said, “mustache!” She has a point.

Okay, now that you’ve had your giggle for the day (please no laughing at the cards), here are my cards for the last couple days. The first day of class, we learned, among other things, how to pop-up a little something. That was the perfect solution for my what-do-I-do-in-my-Christmas-cards-dilema. The outside is a rather elegant white-on-white design, so I wanted something simple and elegant for the inside as well. This simple solution is perfect. I stamped a simple greeting, mounted it on sparkly card stock, and made the whole thing “pop.”

Day 1 Inside

I haven’t finished day two card yet, but did have inspiration for day 3. I had a little something to put in a card, so I used a template and made a small envelope. My paper started to split a little at the bottom fold, so I used some Recollections glitter tape to reinforce it a bit. I liked it so much, I cut a narrow piece of the same tape to use as a closure.

inside day 3

The front of the card was fun, too. It features a couple Stamptember releases: Circle on a Line and Whimsical Flowers. These are such fun dies! Is it just me, or does anyone else dream about how to use our new crafty toys?

Outside day 3

Letter Tiles

This has been a good card week. I love this card, too! Today, I used color combo #1. The design of the card is from Sharri Carroll. You can see her original here. She laughed at herself for using the eyelet “throw-backs,” but I still really like them. Nothing like updating a classic.

I like the hearts peeping through the window cut with a circle die. My favorite, though is the die-cut “you.” I cut it from the same patterned paper as the yellow flag so it has great texture, but it still got lost amongst the embossed background and dimensional layers. So, I cut it out twice more on white card stock then stacked the three, attaching with a wet glue. This was so much fun to make! The card front is rather heavy, so I had trouble photographing. The angle makes it look as if the two layers are not lined up, but the circles are actually aligned. I used my string of white lights to prop up the card, so a couple of the bulbs are visible. Adds character, I suppose.

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Lexie is at Gramma’s house for the night, so I get a little play time. So far, I have reorganized my patterned papers while watching “Fellowship of the Ring,” visited the local crafty store, and made a card. I’m having a blast. Later, dinner with the hubby and movie night. I also swung by the library so I have a new book to read instead of popping right out of bed in the morning. I love my girl. I also love sleeping past 6:30. Oh, happy day!

Try Something New

Today’s card challenge was to try something new. It could be a new technique or a new style. I did both. I don’t usually do geometric patterns. I decided to cut several strips of paper in the week’s colors and piece them together. The idea was to create a slanted, pieced pocket for a tag. Here is my pieced pocket.

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I did not use the pocket on my finished card. I like it so set it aside for another project. The problem was I really liked the distressed tag. You know how distressing is; sometimes it turns out great and sometimes it’s not everything that was hoped for. Today’s turned out great and it seemed a shame to hide it in a pocket. Instead, I played it up with an embossed vellum sentiment and sparkly flowers and gems. The picture that turned out best is also the one with Lexie’s little fingers. It’s appropriate since she helped with the inking. She’s had her fingers in the entire project, so it makes perfect sense her fingers are in the picture, too!
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I mentioned yesterday that we spent the day at the fair. It was great fun. I thought Lexie would be intimidated by the rides, but she was all for it. I should have known. Any time we’re in the car for more than 30 seconds, she asks me to open all the windows so she can “blow away.” I’ve got to hand it to the girl, she knows fun when she’s having it. These are my favorite pictures – one is on the carousel. The other is inside a vinyl bubble floating in a shallow pool. The ride supervisor hopped into the pool with her and twirled her bubble, pushed her around, and tried to flip her over. She couldn’t get enough. It was a great day to be Mommy.

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Fair

Lots of Happy

Lexie and I spent our day at the fair with Gramma and Grampa. We had so much fun! Lexie had been looking forward to it for days, in spite of the fact she had absolutely no idea what a “fair” is. She was not disappointed in the least. She was, however, surprising. I thought she would like the animals and be intimidated by the busy-ness of the rides. Wrong. It took a lot of convincing to visit the few animals she did. The fun started when she “drove” a race car in circles. Then the carousel. She took a long look at the Ferris wheel before deciding it was too big. The unquestioned highlight was the “bubble.” Lexie does not go in small spaces or untried territory. She eagerly slipped through an open zipper into a vinyl, air-filled ball floating on a shallow pool. She was laughing and squealing so loudly that people gathered around to watch. Gramma, Grampa and I laughed along with her, in between marveling at how shocked we were she actually did it. That girl is full of surprises.

Speaking of surprises, I actually did a card today. I’ve never played with angled layers. I’m not sure I’ll be using the sketch much, but it was good to try. Part of learning my style and what I enjoy is trying new things. This sketch is a “no.” One of the others from this week is a definite do-over. In addition to the sketch, I played with embossing a die-cut. I cut the “happy” from teal card stock then clear embossed. It gave a great texture and shine.

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Butterfly and Vellum

Card Class is really improving the overall look of my cards. Tuesdays are my favorite because the focus is on technique. The technique I tried out today is die cutting several layers of butterflies on patterned paper and vellum then “fluffing” the layers of wings to look like they are lifting from the page. The background teal print I chose was rather bold, so I softened it with vellum which I intended to stitch to the background with my machine. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly to my family, my sewing machine and I had a disagreement so no stitching.

I hand-cut the branch on the left. It’s the first time I’ve attempted that. It’s acceptable. I used an embossing pen then clear-embossed the tree to add a little variation. The photo shows a little shiny something below the tree branch that isn’t apparent in person. Except for that and the argument lost to the sewing machine, I’m really pleased with the card.

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