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.  ^_~