Jun 30, 2009

Smile Mr. Campy

You didn't think I'd given up scrapbooking for card making did you? I may have been a stamper and card maker before I ever found my way to scrapbooking and altered projects, but I love all three paper crafts equally. So for a change of pace and to get back into a more versatile blogging format, I give you a scrap page.

With all the amazing paper companies out there, I have a couple tried and trues that no matter what they release, I seem to just love. I may not have a clue what I'm going to do with a particular line when they release it, but eventually I'll figure it out. Cosmo Cricket is one of those paper companies. I've loved them since their early releases, but it was Souvenir and then Wanted that really pulled me in. I never was able to find either in a store where I could stock up on it. I noticed they had Wanted in stock in the new online store setup, so I may have to get a few pieces soon.

These days as soon as my LSS gets the latest release, I do my best to stop in and snag my favorite pieces. I still miss things. I got Girl Friday, but missed Snorkel entirely through 3 restocks. They had not ordered in Early Bird when I stopped in today, but the owner was planning on ordering it this afternoon, so I still have a chance at it. I tend to OD a couple of times a year on Cosmo Cricket layouts and projects. Last year, I got lucky with my LSS kit club and I went nuts with Hello Sunshine. I ended up with two of my all time favorite projects out of it. The clear acrylic tag book and the This Man layout. My mom still carries the tag book everywhere with her, even though the pictures are well over a year old now.

Still, occasionally, I fall in love with paper and then spend forever deciding what I want to do with it. This was the case with Mr. Campy. I loved the colors and the awesome plaids and while I'm an in doors, what do you mean you left the microwave at home sort of camper, I figured, "heck, I've got a boy, I'll use this in no time." So it's been happily sitting in my stash gathering dust. Thankfully, I couldn't see the dust through the haze of my F5 Tornado-Ridden-Certified-Emergency-Disaster-Area of an office.

If you've stuck with me this long, you're probably wondering what the point of all this is. Well, it's it never judge a paper when you buy it. I was determined to put the paper to good use and the perfect pictures for the paper turned out to not be of my boy-o. A paper like Mr. Campy may be fantastic for outdoorsy, camping, boy pages, but that doesn't mean It can't be flat out great for little girl pages. Like this one -

Full smile layout with journaling.

Pretty cute, isn't she? She loves cameras, so she was over the moon I gave her my old junk Avantex one. The journaling reads "An old junk camera and a two year old makes for smiles on both sides of the lens."

Smile Title SideI've noticed a trend in my scrapbooking lately. While the majority of my layouts are unified two page layouts, I have one page of the pair that can comfortably stand alone. Check out the right side page by itself (prior to me adding the date!). There is even room to tuck in a bit of journaling. The page could also have easily gone masculine, just swap out the flowers for buttons. In this case, I probably would do trios of buttons in the same locations and changed the velvet scalloped ribbon to a twill in the same color tone.

Want to add some stamping? There's even areas that would work perfectly if you have the right image. I have a cute Penny Black image of some mice playing with a camera. That could be the perfect accent to the SMILE! title.

Project SuppliesThe supplies are pretty simple for this one. Mr. Campy papers from Cosmo Cricket, flowers from Prima and the buttons, of course, are Creative Cafe as is the velvet scalloped ribbon. The title and tag were done on the Cricut using the Design Studio software with the Alphalicious font and Tags, Bags & Boxes cartridges. Solid color cardstock is Prism and the twine is Rustic White from PTI.

Jun 29, 2009

Family Ties - Laced in Cosmo Cricket

Have you ever done a project and fallen in love with it, even though you knew you were going to give it away? Then, just past the half way point of being home after hand delivering said project, realized you forgot to take a single picture of it? So you figure, once you get home, you'll just call and have them snap some photos and email them to you? There in lies my lesson to you. Always, ALWAYS take your own photos. Seriously.

I am truely blessed to come from a family that loves hand made gifts. At least, they love mine. They rave about them, display them in prominent places in their home or at work and really suck at taking good photos of these projects. I adore my family, really I do, but I seriously need to work on their photography skills. That being said, between my mom and my sister, I have a fairly decent collection of photos of my project.

One of my very favorite alterables is Cosmo Cricket's Lacing Cards. I believe these are still readily available from a bunch of places. If not, you should go and hound them mercilessly until they release them again. They are the best thing since possibly sliced bread. Unless you're hungry, as I don't recommend eating them. They come four to a package. For my projects, I used three packages. I needed 6 cards per recipient to spell out the word FAMILY. So first, a view of the finished project. This one belongs to my mom.

Family lacing cards

Not a bad photo overall (thanks Photoshop!). So let's talk details. The letters gracing the front of each card are not at all what they appear to be. PhotobucketIn person they have the look of tooled leather. They are something rather less than that, however. The letters started life as Crayola Model Magic. This is a very light weight modeling compound that dries to the consistence of fun foam. I rolled it out to around 1/8" thick and then stamped it, covering the surface. This can be done with would mounted stamps, but I've found the best and easiest way to do it is using acrylics. Don't worry about a block, just press the stamp into the foam, pushing firmly across the surface. The variety of pressures you apply using your fingers helps give the finished piece just that much more texture.

PhotobucketLet the Model Magic dry for a good 24 hours. Flipping occasionally to help it dry. It may crack, that's okay. Again, more texture for your finished piece. I roll it out on tinfoil using a brayer with an acrylic insert. After stamping, I transfer the piece to a double layer of paper towels. One large package of Model Magic is generally enough to do all six letters. I ended up using three small packages and had enough for both sets of cards.

PhotobucketWhile the compound is drying, alter the cards. I used Cosmo Cricket Gretel papers. The tones worked perfectly with the sepia tint I used when ordering my prints. Plus, I knew it would match the decors in my sister & mom's house. I use Aleene's Tacky glue in the gold bottle. After drying, I used my crop a dile and repunched the holes down the sides of the cards. the outer two cards just get holes done on one side. I used the large side and followed up with We R Memory Keepers big eyelets in their antique gold finish. I edged the cards and all the photos in gold paint.

PhotobucketBack to the compound. I wanted a good chunky letter, so I pulled out my cricut and cut 5" letters using the Alphalicious cartridge set to chunky shadow. All the letters save the F are lowercase and cut from scrap cardstock. Here's a good use for that paper you can't remember what the heck you were thinking when you bought. I lay out the letters on the compound until I have them so that I can get all of them cut out of the piece. I use a craft knife with a fresh blade on a glass mat and cut around each letter. This stuff cuts like slightly soft butter.

PhotobucketTime to paint. The tooled leather look is achieved by layers of paint. I base coat in a nice cream, then apply a dark antiquing medium. I use Folk Art's antiquing medium in the darkest I can find. I want a rich look. While the antiquing medium is still wet, I use a paper towel and start wiping and dabbing it off. Once I get a nice look on all the letters, I immediately follow with the same gold metallic paint I used on the edges of the cards & photos. I use one a chunk of kitchen sponge. The ones with the big open pores that come like 6 to a package for little of nothing. I cut them into quarters and use them for all my painting on this project. I do a lot dry-ish sponging (dabbing mostly) with the gold onto the letters, then follow along behind dabbing with a paper towel. Just keep at it until you're happy. You might want to try on a scrap piece of the dry Model Magic first if just winging it is intimidating.

PhotobucketAt this point, it's all assembly. I layer, move, tweak, move some more until I have my photos and letters where I think they look best, then I glue it all down. From there I go back with embellishments. Flowers, rubons, buttons. After everything is embellish, THEN I go about lacing everything up. I just tie my way up the cards with a basic knot and then do up a bow in the top hole. A bit of tweaking to get it all standing just so and you're done. Most of the close ups I've shown are courtesy of my sister, who does better close work, but forgot to take a picture of the Y card at the end.

Project Supplies The stamp I used for my letters is the two giant swirls from the Fancy Pants Designs Pollen Dust set. The flowers are from Prima. The buttons are from Basic Grey, I think. One of their first button releases. The ribbon is Ribbon FX from Hobby Lobby. The lacing cards and Gretel paper are from Cosmo Cricket. Crayola Model Magic can be found at Wal-Mart and Target as well as Hobby Lobby and Michael's. It comes in a variety of colors, but I tend to stick with white as I'm going to paint it anyway.

As a side note, the trick to doing great photo gifts for your family and surprising them is to tell your sister that you're doing something awesome for your mom and can she send over her favorite photos of her family and then tell your mom that you're doing a great project for your sis and can she send some photos. Works like a charm!

Jun 26, 2009

A little challenging

50's Sweethearts - Love AlwaysLately, all I seem to be coloring up is Dustin images, so when The Greeting Farm started up their Farm Fresh Fridays a couple of weeks ago, I snagged my Greeting Farm images out of my image box and took a break from dragons and monkeys. The first is one of the few digital images available from The Greeting Farm. The 50's couple. The challenge was to use only black, white and grey. I wanted to create an old 50's photograph and felt they'd be perfect. I used a whopping 4 pencils for this image. It was definitely a change of pace! I blinged it up a Prima Say it with Crystals swirl and a bit of American Crafts ribbon. I think it will make an excellent anniversary card!

With two littles running loose in the house, I don't always have time to stamp. In fact, I rarely ever sit down and make a card from ink to embellishment. I just don't have that sort of solid block of time at my disposal. I frequently just color in between work, diaper changes, dishes, sippy cup refills, laundry, tuning the DVR to Space Chimps, cooking, more diaper changes, cleaning, and any of the myriad other chores that come from being a full time working mom. I craft and create in snippets. One day I may stamp out a couple of sheets of images, another time it's printing some digital images, maybe the next time I'll have a few minutes to make up a card. In between all of this, however, I always have a spare few moments to color or play with my Cricut software making scrappy page titles. Those two activities relax me.

That being said, I keep a small box in my "crafty bin" of supplies that sits tucked safely in the No Kid Zone in our living room. It's not for their safety, it's for my sanity. :) I can happily curl up on a corner of the sofa and color out an image while keeping an eye on the kidlets. In return, they can run up to the fence line and tell me of their latest adventure with our imaginary puppy or ask for a new show or a snack. It keeps all of us happy.

It's magicMy daughter is a huge fan of dragons and fairies. So she frequently hangs over the fence when I'm coloring one or the other. Fairy Chloe from The Greeting Farm is one of her favorite images. I get regular requests from her to stamp a few out so she can color too. Hers tend to end up as rainbow blobs that serve to decorate my refrigerator. Mine end up like Miss Chloe here, on a card. This was for the recent Three Images on a Card challenge. Tiny Tink and Chloe have shimmery wings, although you can't tell from the picture. I used water color glitter from Stamping Bella on their wings and my daughter's nose. She approved.

Roses on Paper is getting ready to release some Elisabeth Bell stamps. E. Bell is one of my favorite artists. Her little girls have such a wonderful charm to them, so when I saw they were doing a call for a few guest designers to work with Ms. Bells images, well I just couldn't pass up the opportunity! Check out their Guest DT call on their very own challenge blog. There's still a few days left to enter!

Project SuppliesThe images are all from The Greeting Farm. Paper is a variety here. The black and white is Teresa Collins, while the pinks and yellows are BasicGrey Urban Prairie. Nesties are Labels 1 and Scalloped Rectangle. Flowers and bling are from Prima, Grey/White ribbon is from American Crafts, Aqua ribbon is Ribbon FX from Hobby Lobby and as always, buttons are Creative Cafe.

Jun 25, 2009

You're old

My mom had a birthday yesterday and one of my best gal pals has a birthday today. Happy Birthday, Mom & Jenn! I made totally rocking cards for both of them, that are still sitting on my table. Even though they didn't get cards, they did get quick personal messages from me. I'm not totally lame! In honor of them aging, I have two cute cards to show you today. While I can't actually confirm that my mom wasn't around when dinosaurs roamed the earth (Love you, mom!), I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt. Still, I find that dinosaur cards, particularly Dustin's Dinos, are excellent for birthdays. I believe I have pointed out that I have a twisted sense of humor already. :)

Meet Miss Triassic PeriodRight off I'm going to say that this isn't the best picture of the Bronto. The image is totally cute and goes well for boy or girl. I was trying some new cardstock, which has more "tooth" or texture than my beloved Pure Lux. This means when I color it puts more pigment down and sucks up more Zest it. Since the Zest-it is a solvent, it wants to eat into the laser toner I use to print my images when I get too much on there. I had to stop and set the image aside a couple of times to let it dry when I noticed some smudging on my lines. You can't tell on the final piece, even if the photo had been better. It's just something you have to be aware of when you're working.

Second Runner Up - Miss Imminent Ice Age!I do find, as on Miss Steggo here, that the rougher stock makes the final piece a bit more vibrant. This is because there is more pigment on it, but I do like the effect. She's a scrapper, as is the card. She's one of the last cards I put together this week, so she ended up with the scraps from the rest. I used them in a window pane effect behind her and the pink circle was a left over bit from the sheet I used on Miss Bronto.

So what paper did I use for my coloring? This is the new Rustic Vanilla from PaperTrey Ink. Do I like it? Overall, yes. Will it be my regular go to paper? No. I enjoy using it and will do so frequently, but I prefer the smoother surface of the Pure Luxury cardstock. So how does it rate overall in my paper sampling? I'd give it a definite 8. This is in comparison to a 9.5 for the Pure Luxury base weight cardstock. I got both the Rustic Vanilla I used here and the Rustic White, which I'll show more in another post. The vanilla is a very light cream tone and the two look near identical in the package. I actually thought I'd gotten two of the same thing when I pulled them out of the box. Out of their wrapper, however, there is a discernible difference.

While it does have more tooth than the Gina K Pure Luxury cardstock, it is still a nice smooth stock. If you haven't read about it on Nichole's blog, the "rustic" aspect of the cardstock is that it has flecks and bits that make it look more handmade than standard pure cardstock. My printer took to it well and the toner fused to the surface. I mention this because I have had problems with Bazzill cardstock where the toner did not fuse because there was just too much texture. I can't tell you how it rates against the regular PaperTrey cardstock as I haven't tried that. I feel a bit silly ordering up plain white & vanilla cardstock when I have a good selection of Pure Lux ready to use.

I mentioned earlier that I have to use more Zest-it when I'm using the rougher cardstock. The cardstock is more porous and absorbs it quickly while I'm working. It does fine if I'm working in small spaces, but large spaces like my dinos here, were challenging. I used probably twice to three times as much on these images as I would have on the smoother Pure Luxury cardstock.

Okay, I know some of you use the Georgia Pacific cardstock. I do have a supply of this that I normally use for card bases, but I have used it for coloring. In comparison, I rate it at a 7 to 7.5. The PTI Rustic cardstock has slightly more tooth than the GP, but makes up for that in thickness and visual appeal. I found the PTI stock to be thicker and more resiliant to my pencil work. The Georgia Pacific worked, but I tend to have more issues with image smear. The combination of solvent, GP and toner just doesn't "stick" as well as on the other papers. Additionally, the other issue I have with GP is exclusively with my digital images. I do not get a true black when I print on Georgia Pacific cardstock. It prints a very dark grey. This should not be an issue if you're using an inkjet, but it's something to be aware of if you're using a Laser Printer or copier for your digital images.

Project Supplies I promised in the last post that I was going to set the DCWV papers a side for a while and I have held to my promise here. I broke out my new Basic Grey Urban Prairie pad and used a good 75% of the pad across a stack of cards. You'll see more of it in upcoming posts. I used circle, rectangle and rectangle scallop nesties. Flowers are Prima, colored cardstock is American Crafts, ribbon is Ribbon FX from Hobby Lobby and buttons are once again Creative Cafe. The Rustic Vanilla cardstock and twine in the buttons are from PaperTrey Ink.

Get your dinos at Dustin's Place and don't forget to snag yesterday's freebie! It's a great background for the dinosaurs.

Jun 18, 2009

Are we there yet?

Sunday is Father's Day and in honor of that great day, I have two cards. One of these is going to my dad, the other to my husband. To all dads out there, Happy Day!

Are we there yet?Growing up, I got to travel quite a bit courtesy of the US Army. I have lots of great memories from the various places we lived. In between the big trips that often crossed oceans, my Dad made sure that we got to see as much of each place we lived as was possible during his tour of duty. My Dad is a big fan of road trips. We would load up into our car and off we'd go. Sometimes it was just day trips to local sites, other times it was grand adventures that cross state and country borders. In all my memories, I never remember saying "Are we there yet?", although I'm sure at least one of us kids uttered it. I do, however, remember "I gotta pee!" and "I'm going to be sick!". As the shortest child of three, I inevitably got to sit in the center of the back seat. My siblings learned to dread the second phrase.

So, for my father, and the wonderful memories I have of a small cream colored station wagon, cruising across Europe, Happy Father's Day! Thanks for the amazing memories.

Mr. Fixin' ItFor my husband, I have a different card entirely. I have been with this great guy for nearly 23 years and in that time I have bought exactly ONE curling iron and TWO hair dryers. Do the math. The second hair dryer was only a couple of months ago. I swear my husband can fix darned near anything. Before he was a fire fighter, he was a mechanic, so my vehicle runs in tip top shape. The great man even makes sure it is full of fuel each week before I head off to work on Monday morning. In addition to cars and small appliances, he remodeled our house. He even cooks, although the guys at the fire station eat his cooking far more often than I do.

For our cute children, he fixes run down batteries, kisses boo-boos, discretely disposes of shredded books or broken toy boxes, changes diapers and is a particularly awesome Mr. Mom on his days off. I love this man! Yes, they do still exist! For those of you wanting to know, I didn't find him. He found me...but that's another story. Happy Dad's Day to the very best dad my kids could ever have!

Project SuppliesWhile I'm not going to make any promises, this should be the last of the Citrus pad for a while. I used the circle nesties for the turtle and a Provo Craft Embossing Folder on the dragon.. Flowers are Prima, Cardstock is a mix of American Crafts and Prism. The ribbon is Ribbon FX from Hobby Lobby, eyelets from Making Memories and the buttons are once again Creative Cafe. The images are from Dustin's Place. Grab them while they're hot and check out today's new release while you're at it!

Jun 15, 2009

Twisted Humor

I have a rather twisted sense of humor. Some of it comes from working with geeks and some of it from being married to a fire fighter. Most of it, however, I attribute to genetics. My entire family is "blessed" with a similar mind set. For example, my parents once picked up my Aunt & Uncle at the airport dressed as a hooker and her pimp. My Aunt & Uncle in return picked them up a few months later at a different airport dressed essentially as the Clampets, complete with pick up truck equipped with a rocking chair in the back. This is my family and I love them dearly. I know them well enough that we drive when we visit. It's just safer.

Lend a HandAny one of my friends or my family would love today's cards. They have just that sort of sense of humor to them. The first is from a recent freebie over at Dustin's Place. I started giggling as soon as I saw it. It made me think of the saying "Friends help friends move. Really good friends help friends move bodies". Currently, the card doesn't have a sentiment with it, although I've debated adding "Need a hand?" to the front and following it up with "I remember where we buried some".

Early BirdAnother favorite saying of mine is not "The Early Bird Gets the Worm". Most of my family is extremely punctual. Growing up in my house, if you weren't on time, you were left behind. I tend to be almost psychotically early to this day. My sister, on the other hand, is generally late to everything. Between us, if you base things on averages, we're on time. So while I'm habitually early, I've often thought the early bird saying was annoying until I heard a much better version of it. A version far better suited to my sense of humor - "The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese". Personally, I think the second mouse made out better, but then, I'm not a big fan of worms. :)

Project SuppliesI know, I know! You're thinking, what? More Citrus Pad? :) You can definitely get one heck of a lot of cards out of a small 8x8 pad! I used the circle nesties for the bird card. Flowers are Prima, Cardstock is a mix of American Crafts and Prism. The ribbon is Ribbon FX from Hobby Lobby and buttons are once again Creative Cafe.

Jun 10, 2009

Beware of flying poo

Shortly after getting on Dustin's design team, the man himself asked us for image ideas. What would we like to see? I asked for two images in particular and was rewarded, nearly immediately, with one of those images. The Code Monkey. He's a rockin' little critter. Happily hacking away at his laptop (banana inside). I fell in love with him as soon as I saw him, but I wasn't sure just how I was going to use him.

In real life, outside the blogging word, I work as a project coordinator for a team of internet people. It's like herding cats...or in this case, code monkeys. I have met and worked with some really great people. Many of those have since moved on to other things, in other towns far and wide. A few of those I have managed to keep in touch with. We talk regularly through instant messaging and internet chat rooms. We make an effort to stay in touch. Recent events at one of their work places meant that his office was going green. Going green apparently meant doing away with their hot chocolate.

Over the years of working intimately with Code Monkeys, I have learned that there are certain basic essentials to keeping them going. Those being coffee, sodas with excessive caffination and hot chocolate. You should never take hot cocoa away from an internet programmer. It just isn't safe. All of these events came together just a couple of weeks shy of his birthday. A plan was hatched and grew into, well, this:

Code Monkey full set - beware of flying poo

I printed off five monkeys, four in the standard size and one I scaled up to created a larger version. I had the lunch tin tucked away in my stash, gathering dust. It had been on sale at the time that I needed one, so I bought two. This was my spare. Using a templates I found on one of my blog hops, I adjusted the measurements to make it deeper and embellished it with a monkey, creating a holder for hot chocolate. It neatly held 6 packages of Swiss Miss cocoa with marshmallows. I made simple sleeves for the remaining 4 packages of cocoa.

Code Monkey Emergency Survival KitUsing an empty Stash Tea box as my guide, I created a second box and filled it full of a variety of tea. The Code Monkey in question quite likes tea, and has to make due with Lipton (shudder) at his office. I finished the box off by boxing off a package of Wrigley's Extra gum in Strawberry Banana. The card was a collaboration with another programmer. I requested poorly written code that if it had been used would return one of two things. The first was a Happy Birthday sentiment, the second was "Banana, banana, banana. Reboot Universe". The inside of the card reads -

if (!world.EOF && jeff.Sane)
Console.WriteLine("Happy Birthday!");
Console.WriteLine("Banana, banana, banana. Reboot Universe");

Danger, Monkey Coding. Beware of Flying PooThe card is quite large, at 5 1/2 x 7. I figured the monkey might need a warning sign for his office cube and the card front will double as that nicely. All of this was packaged in a suspicious pink bag and delivered via two different couriers. The first, I paid in large quantities of coffee. The second got paid by getting to watch the recipient open the bag. I had arranged for a photographer to capture the moment, but sadly the events transpired without a camera. All in all, it was good. The recipient responded -

This will prolly break your heart a little.
LadyPatsFan wasn't available to take 'pics.
The pink sack was a nice touch.
I'm currently taking many pics for the blog.
This is awesome stuff.
And the monkey is PERFECT.

Simple rewards is what it's all about. Happy Birthday Code Monkey!

Project Supplies A change of pace here. The papers are all from Imaginisce, in their Wild Things line. The bamboo and tropical leaves are the perfect accompaniment to the little monkey image, or any of Dustin's other monkeys. The cardstock is a mix of American Crafts and Bazzill. The monkey images were cut with Nesties Labels 2 & 3 and the Circles. The images were colored out with Primascolor pencils and blended with Zest-It. The monkeys in the photo background are part of one of my son's blankets. :) Get the code monkey for FREE from Dustin's Blog.

Jun 8, 2009

The Lazy Days of Late Spring

In the last few weeks of Spring, before Summer rears it's oven baked head, Oklahoma settles into a pattern of "quite pretty, and wind" and "Cut the humidity with a knife, and wind". The trees, even the stoic pecans have finally leafed out. It's been a quiet year for us for Tornadoes, for which I am very grateful. I have this thing with small dark places and a tornado shelter is pretty much a small, dark place stuck in the ground. My husband has done what he can to make it "livable" for me, but prefer not to go down there if I can at all avoid it.

Ant LemonaideToday is cracking up to be one of those "Cut the humidity with a knife, and a bit of wind" sort of days. It rained last night, so the humidity level sky rocketed. It's one of those sorts of days that you wouldn't be surprised to see the ants bypassing the picnic and going straight for the iced down lemonaide. These ants make me smile. When I look at it, I have to wonder if the poor ant on the bottom isn't going to get a lemonaide shower when the first ant gets the suction going on the straw. :)

Yesterday, my husband had two tasks he wanted to get done. He wanted to mow the lawn and he wanted to wash out the central AC unit that sits to the East side of our house. He managed the mowing hands down, with my son and daughter watching and waving from the storm door when he did the front yard. During the accompanying weed eating, our not so great neighbor decided he should water the three that sits just a few feet inside his property line. This was about 10:30 am. By 3:30 pm, after a visit from my best friend, his wife and their foster daughters, he discovered a fine lake surrounding our AC unit. By 7 pm, the lake was encroaching on the back patio. The sprinkler was still running at 8pm when we moved inside to give the kids a bath. Needless to say, the AC unit still hasn't gotten cleaned out. On the other hand, we've got a nice spot to launch that Ark we considered building a few weeks ago!

Sail away with meThis fine little bear would have had a grand time on the East side of our house yesterday. He would have been up to his ankles in water and mud, but the boat would have gotten a good sailing. Sadly, I doubt the tree got any of the water. So the end result is our neighbors get an outrageous water bill, we get a lake and I get a story to go with a card I made. Both images are available over at Dustin's Place individually and as a set with other great summer images.

Project SuppliesYep, I'm still working my way through the Die Cuts with a View Citrus Pad. I love that their stacks have such a great variety of patterns and papers. I used the Rectangle and deckle rectangle nesties for these cards, more of that hemp twine and a flower dot Cuttlebug embossing folder from Provo Craft. Flowers are Prima, Cardstock is Real Red from Stampin' Up and buttons are once again Creative Cafe.

Jun 1, 2009

It's complicated

Three weeks ago, Dustin gave us a sneak peek of some very cute party animals. I fell in love with the rough sketch of one of the animals in particular. I checked our files several times a day waiting for Dustin to send the finals along. I wanted to color these festive critters! Once I saw the final images, I knew just one critter was not going to do. I needed a card full of them. One of the fun things about digital images is the ability to group two or more images without the use of eclipse tape, post it notes or any sort of masking. I don't need a stamping aligner or anything more complicated than Photoshop Elements. To be honest, I really don't even need that as Picasa and other free software would do the trick. I happen to own PSE for my photo editing and scrapbooking, so it's a nice multifunction tool.

Party TurtleI started by taking the standard .jpg image, duplicated the layer, trashed the original layer and using the magic wand, highlighted and deleted the background. I converted the image by saving them over to .png format. This allowed me to do a transparent background for each of the animals. After I had them converted, I started combining. Why would the party turtle be content to hold a simple balloon when he could have a fish balloon instead? And what respectable fish goes to a party by himself? Once combined, it made for a great card.

But if two's company, then five is an all out party. I picked my tallest animal and resized the canvas to 6" wide. I saved this to a new name to make sure I didn't muck up my original. I opened all the animals and duplicated them as individual layers into the new wide file. I flipped and layered all of the animals until I liked the grouping. Having them each on their own layer allowed me to be very flexible. Plus, the layers let me turn off an image if it was distracting me from getting the results I wanted with another layer. After I had all the animals just where I wanted them, I resized the entire group to fit the card size I wanted and then printed them out. I made sure to save the final file as I knew this was a grouping I would want to use over and over.

Party Animals

So for about 15 minutes worth of work, I have an image I can print any time I choose without having to mask and ink each time! I realize that I just took fifteen to twenty minutes worth of work (not including the coloring and card making) and condensed it into three short paragraphs. For those of you who aren't gibbering and may be going "how about a tutorial....", I'm going to decline. I spent a couple of years in technical support and I'm very familiar with the nightmare that different programs, heck even different versions of the same program can cause when trying to create a decent software tutorial. I can tell you step by graphic step how to do this process in Photoshop Elements 5 as that's what I use. I can't, however, tell you how to do it in Paint Shop Pro, Microsoft Photo Editor or even Picasa, because I don't use those programs.

Since I've gone technical and complicated on you with this post, I'll round out with what I use for printing. I have a monster multi-function color laser sitting on a filing cabinet in the death trap that is parading as the office. My husband's 3/4 of the room looks like it's recovering from some gale force straight line winds. My half looks like an F5 tornado hit it. The printer is in one of the few clear spots in the room. Which makes it easy to get to when I need to load it with a sheet of Gina K. Pure Luxury cardstock. Since the laser printer fuses toner to the cardstock at high heat as part of the printing process, I don't have to worry about bleeding. When I first started using Zest-it with my printouts I had some issues where it would try to disolve the toner (it is solvent, after all), but the new solvent pump I got for Mother's day has me using less Zest-it, eliminating that problem.

I have a nice Epson 785EPX that's sorta ancient and has been buried on my desktop for over a year. I really need to put it out on the curb and see if someone will come by and give it a new home. So I don't have any point of reference for inkjet printing in combination with digital images and coloring. I can pass on a few tips from others that I've read. If you're having bleeding problems, try heat setting the image or print your images a day or so in advance giving them time to dry and cure before coloring.

Project SuppliesAll that being said, if you're still with me, I'm still working my way through the Die Cuts with a View Citrus Pad. The bright, cheerful paper makes me feel like spring even when it's pouring rain outside my window. I used rectangle and scallop rectangle nesties on the party turtle with his fish balloon. Flowers are Prima, Cardstock is Bazill this time and buttons are once again Creative Cafe.