May 072017

As Natasha of The Artisan Life points out in The Joy of Snail Mail & Decorated Envelopes DIYS, there’s something special about receiving snail mail.

It was with this thought in mind, and the prospect of Mother’s Day around the corner, that I decided to make a card for my mother-in-law. She loves flowers, so I knew that whatever I created, it would incorporate one. I also wanted to experiment with a new technique, so I turned to my favorite card crafter, Jennifer McGuire. This past week she released a video tutorial, Tulle Shaker Cards, about how to create shaker cards using tulle.

Your usual shaker card sandwiches sequins and beads between two layers of acetate, but Jennifer suggested using tulle instead. Tulle can be purchased economically in the bridal section of a fabric store; I purchased a yard for $1.49 that will be good for dozens of cards. You can also go to Michael’s bridal section and purchase a six-inch-wide roll of tulle for $2.99; the roll holds 20 yards. Tulle allows a card to lie flat, making it easy and lightweight to send in the mail.

Here are the supplies I gathered to begin my project:

I began my project by cutting my card stock to size, cutting scalloped circle windows into the note card and card front.

Using Scor-tape, I applied double-sided adhesive around the circle openings, and overlaid that with a square of tulle. Then I dropped my sequins into the center of the tulle, and used Scor-tape once more to adhere the front of the note card to the note card itself.

Next, I stamped the daisy-and-leaf images with clear embossing ink, dusting the ink with white embossing powder, and then heat setting it. Using sponge daubers, I colored in the images with Tim Holtz Distress inks.

I sprayed the images generously with Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist to produce a pearlized sheen. As Jennifer McGuire points out, you can create your own glimmer mist with Perfect Pearls powder and water, but I used what I already had on hand. I was in a hurry, so I dried the wet, not-so-attractive concoction with a heat gun.

Once the paper was dry, the flowers and leaves looked a lot better. I did not have dies for cutting out the images, so I fussy cut them with scissors. The trick to fussy cutting is not to turn the scissors, but to turn the paper as you cut. I used Scor-tape to adhere the flower to the front of the card.

The last thing I did was stamp “Happy Mother’s Day” on the inside of the card. Initially I was going to emboss these words in black ink, but I changed my mind and used clear embossing ink instead. When you heat set clear embossing ink, it gives you a tone-on-tone look.

Crafting a card like this takes only an afternoon, and you can probably make more than one if you organize your work assembly-style. Working with tulle was easy and fun; I suspect I’ll use this technique again. Thank you, Jennifer McGuire, for your crafting inspiration!

© 2017 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Apr 092017

Sniffles, coughs and general malaise have been our companions this past week, so when this weekend rolled around, I was looking for a fun, relaxing project that would take my mind off how well I am not feeling. That project turned out to be a set of Easter cards based on layered background dies. I was introduced to these dies back in November, when I watched Jennifer McGuire’s video, Crafting On-the-Go and Simple Textured Cards. Afterwards, I purchased Birch Press Designs’ Delfina Layer Set.

The idea behind layered background dies is to add texture to the card you are making. The dies are all sized to fit a standard A4-sized card measuring 4-1/4 x 5-1/2 inches. You can cut two of these cards from one 8-1/2 x 11-inch sheet of card stock, so if you decide to make one of these layered background cards, you may as well do two, for efficiency’s sake.

The Delfina Layer Set is designed as three rectangular dies that all work together. You can use one, two or all three at a time, and they coordinate beautifully, adding an intricate-but-lovely texture to your card. In the photo below, you can see that I layered three white rectangles, one on top of the next. Jennifer McGuire suggests using dots of Ranger Multi Medium Matte to adhere the layers together. This works well not only because the adhesive is strong, but also because a wet adhesive allows you to shift the layers until you get them aligned just right.

To make my Easter cards, I decided to mix and match components from three different stamp sets, shown below:

I stamped the images with Tsukineko Brilliance Graphite Black Pigment Ink Pad because that’s what I have on hand, but not before doing a little research about what stamping inks work best with Copic markers, which I intended to use for coloring the images.

The last time I used Copic markers, I stamped the images with a pigment ink that took forever to dry, and did not agree well with the project, resulting in smeared ink. Many of my inks are older, so I figured someone out in Internet Land had already researched what I needed to know about stamping and Copic markers. Here’s what I learned:

After I colored the images I planned to adhere on top of the textured background layers, it was time to think about the sentiment I wanted to add to the cards. I really like the simplicity of thin sentiment strips, with white embossed text on black paper, that Jennifer often uses in her cards. Because the background of the cards is so intricate, a no-frills sentiment seems to work best. However, I do not have the library of sentiment stamps that Jennifer has, and did not want to purchase another stamp set just for the words, “Happy Easter.” My solution was a digital one that cost me nothing but the time to design it—a solution I can re-use by modifying it.

Using Microsoft Word, I designed graph paper and merged the cells of every other row to create sentiment strips. I shaded them in black, and centered text in white. Then I simply cut out the sentiment strips with scissors, and adhered them to the cards. If you click on the image above (or on this link), you can download my digital graph paper and modify the text for your own sentiment strips.

Below are the three Easter cards I crafted this weekend. I think using a layered background adds some nice texture to them, and suspect I’ll be using this technique again. Of course, at the moment I only own one set of layered background dies. They are costly at $69.99 a set, but you can use them over and over again.

There are different ways to add texture to your cards. Do you have a favorite technique?

© 2017 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved

Apr 032017

I read with interest that this past Saturday, April Fool’s Day, was International Tatting Day. No kidding. Now, I realize this may not be momentous news to you, but since tatting is on my list of needlework techniques to learn (yes, it really is), I had to look up who started this special day. And for those of you who don’t know what tatting is, it’s a type of lace created by a series of knots and loops using a shuttle that looks like a little boat. It’s not surprising, then, that in Germany tatting is known as Schiffchenarbeit, or “work of the little boat.”

This beautiful ebony tatting shuttle with rosewood inlay, crafted by Banyek in Hungary, is available on Etsy. Tatting shuttles are typically available in plastic or metal at your local fabric store or needlework shop.

Here’s a photo of a tatted Christmas ornament I bought some years back.

But before I researched the answer to who started International Tatting Day, I couldn’t help wondering whether there are also special days for crochet, knitting, weaving, embroidery and other fiber arts. Here’s what I learned; you can visit the links to learn more about each fiber craft celebration:

But back to my question about tatting—when did the annual celebration begin, and who started it? According to an article titled International Tatting Day, the holiday has apparently been around for 44 years, and it’s a day when tatting enthusiasts introduce the art to newbies, and eat chocolate. I guess that’s as good a way as any to start a tatting club!

If you missed International Tatting Day, as I am afraid I did, you can still catch up with more experienced tatters everywhere by stopping at your local grocery store for your favorite chocolate (mine is Lindt Classic Recipe Hazelnut).

Then, enroll in a Craftsy video tutorial called Shuttle Tatting with Marilee Rockley, and settle in for a nice, long watch. Alternatively, you can enjoy both a glass of wine and a bar of chocolate while browsing through Karen Cabrera’s library of YouTube tatting tutorials some Friday night when you’d rather stay home. If you’re not feeling that ambitious, you can still enjoy some chocolate and browse through these photos of tatted items available on Etsy—probably nearly as satisfying!

Clockwise, from top left: Tatted lace bracelet, by BardarSvetlanaLace / Tatted earrings with beads, by DescoTru / Tatted lace collar, by Felt Zeppelin / Tattered heart ornaments, by SnappyBirdCrafts

Clockwise, from top left: Tatted snowflake, by GracesLaces / Tatted bridal necklace, by Silhuette / Silk bridal purse with tatted lace, by Silhuette / Cotton bridal handkerchief with tatted edging and hand embroidery, by LaceAmour

P.S. Writing this post was more enjoyable than cleaning up the dishes after tonight’s dinner.

P.P.S. All chuckling aside, I do believe we fiber crafters take secret glee in having our own special crafting calendar. If you know of other fiber art holidays, please add them in the comments below.

© 2017 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.