Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Something a bit fishy about this one...

I don't know why, but ever since I saw this Koi fish stamp by Hero Arts I've wanted to use it. And I don't even like fish that much - unless they're fried with chips!

This is one of those clever multi layered stamps where you build the picture up by using different layers of colour and although they say you can layer the stamps by eye, I needed to use the Misti Stamping Tool to achieve it. Several firms are bringing out cheaper versions of this tool now and I do recommend buying one if you can afford it as they are very simple to use, they eradicate most of the problems you get stamping and just make life so much easier.

Now this card was quite an ambitious project for me because I tend to make simple cards and this one had not only multi layered stamping but multi layers of card too.

I wanted to do a card where the fish appeared to be under water, so I knew I would need to use acetate and foam layers to achieve this. I started with no real design in mind; it just evolved as I went along.

I started off by stamping the koi carp using the Misti and some Hero Arts layering inks, except I substituted Pumpkin Patch from SU for the orange colour as the neon shade provided was extremely bright, and I wanted a softer look.

Strangely, this proved to be one of the easiest stages because of the Misti. I could ensure the next stamp layer was positioned correctly before printing it. Marvellous!

I also stamped a few waterlily leaves and flowers - not with the Misti - and I think you can see the difference. They were rather hit and miss but I actually quite like the look of slightly adrift stamping sometimes! It reminds me of water colouring.

I should add that I used a couple of pink colours for the water lilies but stamped them off about 3 times to get the soft muted look I was after.

I cut all these elements out with the coordinating dies.

So far so good.

To make the watery background beneath my fishy, I used a piece of SU shimmer white card which has a lovely pearly sheen to it and is good with watercolour. I taped it to a board with artists' masking tape to prevent it warping, and then roughly brushed across it with very well-watered down Pool Party ink from SU, leaving wavy lines.  I speeded up the drying process by using my heat tool and removed it from the board.

It didn't look "watery" enough for me, so I decided to emboss it with the wavelike embossing folder from SU called Seaside.  I actually had to flatten this out a little as it gives quite a deeply embossed finish.

This was where the problems set in and I messed around for a day trying different ways of making a 'watery pool' in the card. In the end, it turned out to be relatively straightforward, as I think I was over complicating things.

I cut a large circle of the ready painted background for the fish to swim in, and cut the same size circle from a sheet of acetate.

I wanted my fish to be lifted from the bottom so he looked like he was swimming, so I cut small double-sided pieces of foam and fixed them to his underside and stuck him down. This created a nice shadow beneath him.

Now, I wanted the water lilies to be above little fishy, so that he appeared to be swimming underneath them (hope you can follow this), so I needed to raise the level of the acetate to accomplish this.

For the uppermost surface of the card, I decided after a lot of trial and error, to use Mint Macaron card from SU and to run it through the same wavy line Seaside embossing folder. This colour toned with the watercolour layer. I cut this mat slightly smaller than the white card base I was using and I lined it up on the card and decided where the 'pool' would go, and correspondingly cut a circle one size smaller than the pool. I cut the circle before I embossed it as I wanted the texture to be crisp this time. If you emboss first and cut afterwards, it slightly flattens the embossing.

I then cut two pieces of fun foam a little smaller than the top mat and glued them together with double-sided tape. I needed extra depth, that's why I doubled it up. Then I very carefully marked where to cut the corresponding size circle to match the top mat.

The next step was to attach the acetate to the back of the top Mint Macaron mat to cover the cut out circle.

I used ordinary Tombow glue to attach the foam, sandwiching the acetate, but being careful not get any on the acetate..

I worked out where the fish pool needed to go on the base card and glued it down.

I had originally thought to make this a shaker card, and I am sure I will make a version like that, but this time I decided to just selectively place a few sequins round the fish, like bubbles in the water. I also thought the fish would look much nicer with a liberal amount of Wink of Stella over him! This really transformed him, making him look silvery and glistening.

Once I was happy with the sequins, I glued the sponge layer down, trapping my little fish in his watery pool.

It only remained to arrange the leaves and flowers and I played around with them for a long time to get this right. I placed one flower over the fish's tail so that it looked as if he was swimming beneath the surface of the water. 

And that was that. I tried to add a sentiment but just felt it spoiled the effect, so I used a couple on the inside of the card.

I'm pretty pleased with the finished card and I plan to make a few more with him. I think he is ideal for masculine cards and makes a nice change from flowers and butterflies.

Hope you like this too and thanks for dropping by.


Non SU products used

Hero Arts Koi Carp Stamp Set with coordinating dies and mini inks
Fun Foam sheets from Hobbycraft
Sequins from various suppliers

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Monday, 3 April 2017

Fancy a coffee?

I'm loving some of the new Altenew stamp sets being showcased at the moment. One in particular caught my eye because I like the style of the drawings and I thought this set would be perfect for making little cards to invite friends round for coffee.

It's called Coffee Love and I was surprised how big the set was when it arrived. It has lots of lovely hand drawn coffee paraphernalia and some really good sentiments too. It seemed well worth the money.

My son bought me the stamp set and my daughter bought me the We R Memory Keepers fuse tool for my Mother's Day gifts the other week, so I've got another new toy to play with as well. They know me so well - I always want more craft stuff!

So I decided to try and combine the two and came up with the following 'card' - although it is more of a pouch really.

It's difficult to take a good photo of this as the plastic causes so much reflection but I hope you can make it out. I've taken two, so hopefully you can.

I started by stamping some of the images, a cafetière and a stack of cups and saucers, onto a piece of SU white shimmer cardstock. This is lovely card as it has a soft sheen to it and is suitable for water colouring too. I stamped the images using Memento ink and let it dry completely before trying to colour it.

My son had also bought the accompanying dies and a small set of ink spots in coffee shades, so I used the espresso colour ink spot and rubbed some ink onto an odd piece of plastic. I then used an ordinary small paintbrush and water and carefully painted the coffee in the pot. I did the same with SU smokey slate ink and just put a little on the lid and handle. I added a little Wink of Stella to the lid and the plunger inside the cafetière to make it look like shiny chrome.

I think turquoise is a beautiful combination with brown, so I used some SU Pool Party ink watered down to colour the cup and saucers, and added a little shadow underneath both with the smokey slate ink to 'ground' them.

That's all, very simple really. I used a circular die to cut out the painted images and another circle for the back of the card pouch.

There are a few coffee bean stamps included in the set and I printed a few beans on the second cut circle just to tie things in, but this was left mostly empty so that I could write a personal message on it and it would also disguise the back of the stamped circle.

Taking my courage in both hands, I turned on the fuse tool and left it for a good 10 minutes or more to get really hot.  In the meantime, I cut two identical square pieces of plastic to make the pouch. I actually cut up a page protector that I had to make this and there was plenty left for repeats.

The tool set contains a steel ruler and I carefully lined this up just inside the edge of the plastic and slowly ran the tool along the edge of the ruler. As the little wheel turns, the heat fuses the plastic together and I found that you need to do this firmly and not too fast.  I repeated this on three sides. So far so good and I hadn't even burnt myself!

The next step was to glue the stamped circle to the pouch and I used double sided Scortape for this as I didn't want it to come adrift. 

Next I printed a sentiment with Versamark onto a piece of paler coffee coloured card and heat embossed it with white. I then cut it down to size, making a small strip. 

To jazz things up, I used a strip of my favourite gold sparkly washi tape as shown in the photo and added the sentiment strip. I also glued a few sequins to the circular label.

I added the other card circle to the reverse side to cover the back of the stamped image and added washi tape too - just to tidy the back up.

The fun part now. I added a generous amount of chocolate coloured sequin mix from Lucy's Little Things and added a few gold sequins to the mix. You need quite a lot as it is quite a big pouch to fill. Then I heat fused the last edge and voila, it was complete.

I love this style and definitely plan to make snowy Christmas pouches and other versions. I think anyone would find it fun to receive.

By the way, do check that you have an envelope big enough for the pouch you make!

Hope you like this as much as I do and thanks for dropping by.


Products used that are not Stampin' Up! were as follows:

We R Memory Keepers Heat Fuse Tool
Altenew Coffee Love Stamp Set
Altenew Coffee Ink Spots
Scortape wide double sided tape
Lucy's Little Things sequin selections
Gold sparkle washi tape - mine is retired SU stock but I have seen it available elsewhere

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