Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Gift Toppers

I tried to do every single gift and I didn't quite make it... but here's some more of what I DID get done.  I had so much fun doing this that I know I will do it again next year.  If the exclamations are any indication, everyone thought they were lovely.  If even one person felt extra special and loved from all the time I put into this, then my goal was accomplished.

Here's to Christmas 2012!  I hope everyone had a lovely holiday.  ^_^

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Inaugural Inspire and After, on a Card

You've heard of "before and after", but I'm talking "inspire and after".  Some call it scraplifting, or something cute like that, but I like this little term I'm officially coining as of now.  Basically, I get inspired by such random things and in so many different ways that I can't apply a term used by one craft or art to all of my inspirations and what may result from them.

So here it is, my first "Inspire and After".  This time, it was a card that made a card, so it's not an amazing shift in creativity, but I still like how it came out.

First, I'll say that I adore my SMASH Book.  It's like Pinterest in notebook form.  Basically, I take old magazines or catalogs and cut them up and put what inspires me into my SMASH Book, with little written things that let me know why I put it in there.  It helps a lot, especially for stuff like this that is NOT my normal style.

I had that urge to make something.  Even though I adore technology (as evidenced by my Instagram edited cell phone pictures which I synced to my Google+ account to add to my blog), I'm not huge on inspiration coming from technology.  Pinterest is cool, and I DO have a Pinterest account, but I hate having to sit at my computer and sign in and look around for inspiration.  It's a lot of trouble and a lot of extra steps.  Being crafty, too, I'm sure there's something about the hands on nature of the SMASH Book that I adore.  When I sit at my desk and I don't know what to make, I can just reach up on my shelf, pull my SMASH Book down, and start flipping.  It can be opened, stood up on end, worked on top of, shifted around...  And if I should so happen to spill coffee on it, it's not a $1,000 hit.  That's a totally appreciated level of security, let me tell you.

The SMASH Book is also not distracting.  Pinterest is distracting.  Pinterest leads to searching and pinning new stuff, until I've spent 17 hours of my day getting NOTHING done.  I may have done 500 new pins, reorganized my boards to help classify it all so that I can "find it later" (which I never do), but I used up ALL of my creative time pinning and didn't accomplish a single tangible thing.

My personality type just doesn't mesh well with distraction.  I need to be at my desk with my inspiration so that when it hits, I can reach for my supplies and get going.  This is why the SMASH Book works for me.  I flip through a book of what I already like.  I find inspiration.  I actually get stuff made.  Love!

Actually, twice now, I've made something totally cool inspired by something that I stuck into my SMASH Book, submitted it for publication, and got accepted BOTH times.  (Cricut Magazine, October 2012, and coming up in February 2013.  Look for me! ^_~)  So, yeah, it works.

Anyway, like I said, I got that urge to make something last night.  This must be what chronic exercisers and marathon runners feel when they just get an urge to go run 10 miles.  They just have to move.  I just have to make.  I flipped through my SMASH Book.

Here is the Inspire:

It's not at all my style, but the note said, "over all simple design; cute scallop edge", and I knew what I wanted to try.  It's from an old Stampin' Up! catalog.  These are the kinds of notes I make... I know exactly what I want to try later.

Since lately I'm trying to challenge myself to go more clean and simple, I decided to try a clean and simple design.

Here is the After:

I think that if I had it to do over again, I'd put the pearl cluster at left slightly lower.  But overall, I'm really happy with the way it turned out.  ^_^  I wanted to use only one ink color, too, because I just didn't have a lot of time and needed to get something made to satisfy the urge.

The stamps and punches and pearls and card base are all Stampin' Up.  The other papers are various manufacturers.

I personally feel that more options (Pinterest) are actually worse for creativity than fewer options (Self-filled SMASH Book).  If you don't have a SMASH Book, you should totally get one.  Even Walmart is carrying them now!  They have thick cardstock pages inside and are very sturdy!

If you don't want to spend the money, that's understandable.  Get a regular notebook, but at least go get yourself a SMASH pen.  It's a glue stick in one end and a pen on the other end, so you can glue and then immediately take notes.  It's awesome!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Paper Craft Christmas Gift Toppers

I'm doing fancy gift toppers this year!

Basically, I've spent weeks now throwing together extra rosettes and little roses in neutrals and Christmas colors.  Any time I had a few minutes to sit and make stuff, I've been making things for gift toppers.  I've cut white extras, green extras, brown, red, etc... Little things to put here and there.

I've gotten the Cricut involved.  I've hunted my stash for anything bright and beautiful.  I pushed past all of the voices in my head that told me I was crazy for planning something like this.

I stamped and punched a bazillion tags.  I got Christmas cardstock for boxes.  I got cute ribbons, but mostly I'm using 50 cent a spool ribbon from JoAnn.

With all the prep, I feel like a Christmas genius!  I know it's crunch time now, but if every now and then you need a break and want to just make something pretty, you can still get some of these beauties together.

The beauty of this, too, is that by sticking to a palette of neutrals and Christmas colors for the decorations, you'll be able to use the decorations you make all year long.  Neutrals and red or neutrals and green... Gorgeous!  And totally not only for Christmas!

If you don't already know how to do rosettes, there are a million tutorials out there you can find.  For roses, THIS was my original inspiration:  Stunning!

I personally make my roses with paper, not cardstock, and start with 3" squares which I assemble into roses two layers at a time.  (Cut spirals into two squares at once, then roll up.)  This gets me 8 roses out of one sheet of 12x12 paper.

Here's my process for assembly:
1. Measure gift. (Every single one of these is holding knitted treasures, so I'm measuring the folded item.)
2. Make appropriate box.  (The Martha Stewart scoring board has the measurements listed out so that you don't have to think about it.)
3. Arrange various pieces on top of the box until you have a pleasing arrangement.
4. Assemble the gift topper with hot glue, separate from the box.  I use extra scraps of cardstock on the bottom, if necessary, to hold things together.  But mostly I'm just gluing on top of rosettes, which are already pretty sturdy.
5. Wrap gift in tissue paper, situate inside of box.
6. Tie ribbon in a simple bow around the box, leaving long loops.  Trim tails even with loops.
7. Attach gift topper to box with Zots or glue dots or tape or whatever you want to use... I try to do it so that the box and topper can be reused, if desired.
8. Attach the name in such a way that it can be cut off or removed without destroying the entire topper.

Each gift is taking less time to put together and decorate than hunting down perfect boxes and wrapping.  These things look amazing, and I'm saying that in all humility because, seriously, with stuff this cute, how could it not?

And with all of the reactions I've gotten so far, I'm thinking that next year as Christmas presents, I'm going to be putting together gift kits for people so that they can decorate their own gifts like this if they want to.  ^_^  I LOVE everything to do with presents!!!

(One of my primary love languages is giving and receiving gifts... Can you tell?  ^_~)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Simple Cardstock Ornament

One of my sweet friends just messaged me tonight on Facebook, asking about ornament ideas for something her daughter could make with Christmas cardstock.

I asked immediately, of course, if she had a Cricut, or what fancy punches she had, as my mind whirled with complicated ideas.  She wrote back that she had none of those things, then asked about my favorite glue.

I came up with this.  I felt like I had to share because I think we get too caught up in the complicated and forget just how beautiful the simple can be.  So here it is... with virtually no supplies or tools, and definitely without a Cricut, you could make a beautiful little ornament like this.

The squares are 3.5", 2.5", and 1.5", with a single white 1" square in the middle.  Basically, I just glued each of the same size squares together, offset so that they formed an 8-point star.

Let the pieces dry and adhere them all together with foam adhesive between each one.  Decorate the little white square however minimally and put it right in the middle.

I added sequins with my Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive, which is my favorite glue, by the way.  I LOVE sequins because they're so cheap (WAY cheaper than even acrylic gems), but they add plenty of sparkle.  In fact, I think I bought my first bags of sequins a few years ago and I'm still not finished with all of them.

Punch two holes and thread your ribbon through so that the ends are coming out of the back.  Tie two square knots, trim the ends close, and hang the ornament.  Viola!  It looks kind of amazing!

I'm actually going to go hang mine on my tree right now.  This is an excellent way to use up paper scraps, too.  I had all of these Christmas cardstock pieces left over from making gift boxes.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Show tomorrow! Shawl pin lovelies, etc...

I don't have a lot of time to wax eloquent about this stuff, so I'll let the pictures do the talking.  I have a show at Tempe Yarn and Fiber.  My favorites right now are my shawl pins.  ^_~  Scroll down  for those.

I'm getting a bit fancier.  I'm hot into renaissance style jewelry lately (like King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I kind of stuff) and I think it shows.

This one is my personal favorite...

Like Art Deco Renaissance, hmm?  It might not make it to the show.  ^_~

Monday, September 10, 2012

Poinsettia Card Tutorial

It occurred to me yesterday that I could show how I do the poinsettia flowers and the card itself for anyone who would like to have the step by step.  The only thing I dislike about paper crafting magazines is that they never give you the measurements of card pieces.  They say, "Cut two pieces of cardstock, one smaller.  Adhere the smaller piece to the larger piece..."  This is entirely unhelpful.  I don't want to use up my precious time trying to figure out the measurements if I want to get the look of a certain card.  I can't be the only one who thinks that way about these things, so I'm going to list my measurements here.

I'm using the Build a Blossom punch from Stampin' Up to make my poinsettias.  I'm actually out of red cardstock, so I decided to make a white poinsettia for this card.  I really love the way it turned out!

Here's how to do the poinsettia:

Using some kind of silicon thingie, you can very easily build your Build a Blossom flowers.  Stampin' Up sells a silicon craft mat, but you can pick up a silicon baking sheet, or use a silicon baking cup like I do here... I had bought these and found them completely worthless for making cupcakes, but they're great for little snack containers for the kids, or to divide fruit and such in bento boxes. This particular cup is torn slightly on one edge, so I appropriated it for this technique and I love it!

Punch your cardstock with the Build a Blossom punch six times for each poinsettia.  Separate out the different petal shapes.  You'll be using the long, thin pieces, large and small.

Put a dime sized dollop of hot glue on the top of your silicon thingie.  Stick the six larger petals into the dollop, letting each point go only half way into the pile of glue, as shown.

You can see that you'll have plenty of glue sticking out to put another layer, so go ahead and do it.  Using the smaller petals, and going in between the petals of your first layer, stick the second layer in.  Your first layer will shift all around, but don't worry too much about it.  Just adjust as you go and get everything looking as even as possible.

Now, stick some kind of center onto the middle of the flower.  I was using brads before, but this time I decided to use one of the paper flowers I made two days ago as my center.  I actually picked one that was too big and had to dump the jar on my desk to find a slightly smaller one that would work.  I'm saying all of this to let you know that you really do have quite a while to work before you can't stick anything else into/on the glue, so you don't have to worry about being too fast.  The dollop is rather large and takes a while to completely set.

Once the hot glue is set, pop the flower off of the silicon surface and curl the petals.  I use a colored pencil to roll the inner petals up.

I use a glue pen to roll the outer petals up.  A marker or something similar would work--you just want something with a slightly larger diameter for this part.

The thing I dislike about a lot of flower tutorials on the web, too, is that each flower takes forever.  I don't have 20 minutes to sit and make one flower for one project, so I'm happy to say that this entire process, from punching my cardstock to looking at a pretty, curly petaled flower, took me 9 minutes, including all of the time I took to take photos and dump my jar out to search for a new center and all of that.  So it would probably work out to closer to 5 minutes for the entire flower.

Now, the cool thing about this, especially for Christmas stuff, is that if you had two silicon cups, you could finish the assembly on one flower, and by the time you did your second flower, your first would be ready to pop off, and you could really get an assembly line going.  Don't curl the petals until later, when you're sitting in front of the TV, or when you're completely finished with the process.  I love these flowers SO much because they really are extremely impressive, but you spend virtually no money on them, and really very little time.

Now, here's the process for the card:

You'll need to cut your 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" piece, and score it down the middle to form your 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" card piece.  Mine is the Kraft color by Stampin' Up... I completely forget the color itself, but it's in the Neutrals collection.  It might be Crumb Cake.

The other papers are just a plain black cardstock and two pieces from a cardstock pack of fancy black and white prints that I picked up at Michael's.  The paper pieces are as follows:

1. Cut one 4" x 5 1/4" piece (the black)
2. Cut one 3 7/8" x 5 1/8" piece (the stripes)
3. Cut one 3 7/8" x 3" piece (the lacy patterned paper)
4. Cut two 3 7/8" x 1/4" strips

First, glue the black piece down.

Next, glue the striped piece on top of that.  (The 1/8" size difference creates a lovely little 1/16" border all around.)

Glue the lacy patterned piece as close to the center of your card as you can.

Rather than trying to manipulate tiny strips with glue on the back, go ahead and draw two thin strips of glue above and below the center piece.

Lay the strips on top of the glue, at the top and bottom edges of the lacy piece.  This completes your card front.  (I LOVE the way this looks, too... I'm going to be using this same design for a long time, I know it.)

Glue your completed flower or other embellishments wherever you would like them to go.  (I attach my poinsettia with more hot glue.)

Finish embellishing as desired.  So cute!  ^_^

You know, as much as I love stamping, I also really love not stamping.  This card design doesn't use any stamping or inking at all, and it makes the entire process feel much faster.

Now I'm off to do more gift toppers.  I will be posting those shortly.  I'm also getting several gift bags ready for this Christmas from cardstock boxes I'd made in previous years as storage.  I think some of these flowers will look really good on those things, too.

I LOVE being crafty at this time of year!  It makes Christmas last so much longer, I think, to be making thing months in advance.  It's lovely to be in such a giving, joyful mood for this long.  ^_^  I can't wait to get our tree up!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Christmas Cards

So far I believe I've made 15 Christmas cards.  I'm well on my way to being ready for my holidays.  It's a good feeling!

I made four of this one:

I made three of this one: (I ADORE this stamp from the Merry and Type set by Stampin' Up!  The "merry" is from the Tiny Tags set.)

These are my favorite right now.  I made four of these.  I used some of the antique brads by Stampin' Up.  I really prefer the dark poinsettia brad on the right (I don't know if it's supposed to be a poinsettia, but that's what it has always looked like to me), but the beautiful gold brad on the left card works well, too.  I only had one of the poinsettia brads left.  I really love how the experiment with the black and white papers turned out.  I also made the poinsettias with the build a blossom punch, using left over pieces of the other petals to form flowers that I'll use for gift toppers.  I'll post pics of those later.

These cards, by the way, will be for local people only, or they will go inside of packages.  I won't attempt to mail cards by themselves with embellishments this large.

By the way... These are the poinsettia cards I made last year that used up all my poinsettia brads.  I do really love them, but I couldn't get over the fact that poinsettias actually have 6 petals instead of 8.  (Just like the snowflake thing... I can't STAND 8-pointed snowflakes!)  Also, instead of three cards, I was able to make four cards from the same number of punches.  (24 punches with the Build a Blossom punch uses up exactly two pieces of 8 1/2 x 11" cardstock.)

I'm excited to be getting so far ahead!  Tomorrow I'm pulling out clay for some orders.  It's good to have work.  ^_^

Friday, September 7, 2012

Small Gift Box

Christmas is a year-long process for me.  I'm starting to make the packaging for the presents I have made and will be making up until the last possible moment.

The teacher in me can't help but show how to make the boxes, even though I'm virtually positive I have done it before.  Even though I've been doing this long enough to be able to add a lot of these things in my head, I still start each box with a drawing.  (I've also been doing this long enough to see just how often I'm wrong when I think I've been doing it long enough to do it in my head... so I draw.)

Make the inner box of the lid piece 1/8" bigger than the base of your box.  This is a LOT of room, but allows you to decorate.  If you're not decorating the box, and you're up for the math, make the lid 1/16" bigger than your box.

To form the box, you cut one side of each corner square.  I always make sure I'm making one cut for each side of the box and lid.  It's important, especially when your flaps are this big, so that you're gluing only one flap for each box side.  Gluing two isn't the end of the world, but I don't think it looks as nice.

Also, when making a square box, I cut a strip off of the edge of each corner square once I have the flap up.  This leaves a bit of space to make the gluing easier.

Glue all the flaps to the inside of the box/lid.

Isn't it so cute all finished, even when it's still plain?

This is the perfect size to put a little pair of earrings, or to include an especially delicate chain necklace.  Wrap the chain around a cotton ball and allow the pendant to nestle on top when you put the cotton ball into the box.  This will keep the chain from tangling and create a cute presentation at the same time.

The bow isn't finalized, but the present isn't finished either, yet.  I'm just getting the pieces together so that when I'm ready to give this present, I can just grab the box and go.  I'll worry about getting the bow and the positioning and final decoration finished when the gift is actually in the box.  For now, this is going into my gift box stash, ready for Christmas.

I feel like putting my tree up already!