Sep 302014

I seem to be on a roll this week, crafting paper flowers from Spellbinders dies. The flowers from the previous two days had lots of pieces and took quite a while to assemble, so today I decided to do an easy one using the Spellbinders “Blooms One” Die D-Lite, which consists of three daisy-like florets. No instructions were provided, likely because it is obvious that you’re supposed to cut out your shapes, stack them, and stagger the petals.


Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Take a good, close look at how thin each petal is, and you’ll understand. I used my standard Big Shot™ cutting platform instead of following the instructions provided by Spellbinders. They suggest building your paper-and-parts “sandwich” from the bottom, starting with a Solo Platform, Solo Shim, Wafer Thin Die Adapter, Cutting Pad, Spellbinders die with the ridges facing up, paper, and Cutting Pad. No way, I thought. That’s too many pieces to fuss with. I used my Solo Platform and two Cutting Pads, and ran it through the Big Shot™. It certainly cut the paper, but it didn’t cut all the way through. I attempted the same procedure no fewer than six times before it occurred to me I might need a shim to apply more pressure for a clean cut. Guess I’m a slow learner. In desperation, I used the envelope-style package for the die set as my shim. It was handy, so why not? I rushed the process, and cut a nice little flower shape in the package instead.


Wait a minute, I thought. Didn’t you buy a Magnetic Platform for wafer thin dies? And isn’t a Spellbinders die essentially a wafer thin die? I grabbed my Magnetic Platform, laid a Cutting Pad on top of it, set down the die and covered it with paper, and topped the “sandwich” with another Cutting Pad. Thankfully, this worked very well. I had to use a paper piercer to remove the paper die cut from the die, but that’s what you actually want to do, rather than having to separate a cutout from its background. The paper flower is wedged into the top of the die, and in the back of the die are holes where you use your paper piercer to poke out the shape.

Using the Blooms One dieI went ahead and punched out two more sizes of the flower, and each one punched cleanly. Finally. But then I looked again at how thin the petals in each floret are, and realized that a stacked flower with these shapes would be too fragile to use on a book cover. Hmmm. But not if I give it a foundation.


I pulled out my Donna Salazar Rose Creations die set, and selected one flower and two leaves to use as a foundation for the spindly flowers above. This is actually a Spellbinders die set, and it is one of my favorites. I ordered it online from Amazon because I couldn’t find it locally.


When I had cut out all of the pieces for my flower, this is what they looked like. I was ready to build my blossom, and I must say that this is what I had in mind today, when I was looking for a simpler flower to craft.


I sprayed all of the pieces with Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist in Pearl, and then dried them with a heat gun. Then I realized I should have used Distress Ink on the edges before spraying them to make the pieces stand out more. My compromise was to use Copic markers instead. These alcohol-based markers work on just about anything and don’t smear.


To give the flower some dimension, I reached for my McGill embossing mat and an embossing stylus, and used a circular motion to break up the paper fibers, cup the flower petals and curve the leaves. Spraying the pieces with that Glimmer Mist helped, too, since it causes the paper to bend when you dry it with a heat gun. I also used a small stylus to “draw” veins in the leaves.


The last step for my flower was gluing the pieces together, and adding an adhesive pearl to the center. This went together so much faster than yesterday’s flower! I really like the addition of the Blooms One pieces to the Donna Salazar flower. I don’t think I would use the Blooms One florets alone, unless the flower was for a greeting card or scrapbook layout that would not see heavier use. If you have a lot of scrap paper (as I do), crafting paper flowers is a productive way to use up those little bits of paper. And it’s much more fun to create an imaginary flower instead of following the manufacturer’s instructions, too. I hope you give paper flower crafts a shot!

IMG_4794© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Sep 292014

Yesterday I crafted my version of a Gerber daisy using the Spellbinders® Create a Sunflower Die D-Lite. Why a sunflower? Well, my local Jo-Ann Fabrics store ran out of the Gerber daisy dies, so I improvised. Today, however, I returned to Jo-Ann Fabrics—a different store—and picked up the appropriate die. I had wondered how different it is from the sunflower one, and it is definitely not the same, as you can see below.


Although the envelope in which the die pieces are tucked comes with a diagram for flower assembly, you’ll want to download the PDF instructions because they fill in the blanks. Click on the photo below for the link.


I mentioned yesterday that I use my Big Shot™ to cut out the flower pieces and emboss them. Although the Spellbinders site does provide instructions for how to create a “sandwich” of parts and paper to accomplish these tasks, I ran across a video that shows an alternate method that is especially helpful if you don’t own all of the specialty accessories suggested in Spellbinder’s guide, “Using Spellbinders Die Templates in Die Cutting Machines.”

I’m not sure that Gerber daisies come in blue or lavender, but no matter. I have a book cover that needs a flower in those colors, so here we go: 16 large leaves, 16 medium leaves, 16 small leaves, 4 large petal bases, 2 small petal bases, 2 disc florets, 1 calyx, 5 leaves . . . and a partridge in a pear tree. Did I mention how tiny these little pieces are? I’m going to have to use tweezers to pick them up!


The paper I used is more of a perinwinkle blue, and I wanted a touch of lavender, so I added lavender with a colored pencil, and smudged the color a bit with a blending stump and Gamsol. If you’ve never heard of Gamsol, it is a 100% odorless mineral spirit. Some people say that baby oil works the same way. It probably does, but I happen to have some Gamsol on hand. I bought mine at Archivers before it closed its doors, but you can purchase supplies online from Inky Antics. My Gamsol came in a kit including a two-ounce bottle of Gamsol, blending stumps in sizes 2 and 4, instructions, and a sanding pad for cleaning up your blending stumps to prepare them for the next color. You can download a techniques tip sheet from Inky Antics that will tell you how to use Gamsol, but the video below provides visual instructions.

Here are my results, using Gamsol, a dark lavender-colored pencil, and a blending stump. I only colored some of the leaves. I like how the stems fit into slits in the petal base, by the way. It’s easy to space them equidistant from each other.


I colored several leaves for each of the six layers comprising the Gerber daisy, and glued the petals into place. This took quite a while because of how tiny the pieces are.


The next step was curling the petals, which I accomplished with my McGill paper curling tool. This is actually a two-ended tool with a slotted tip for anchoring paper and curling it around the rod, as shown, and a paper piercer on the other end.


The florets in the center of the Gerber daisy are supposed to be dimensional, so I used the small ball on one end of a McGill  stylus for one floret, and the larger ball for the other floret to cup them. I intended to nest one floret inside the other, giving the appearance that one was smaller, but you really can’t tell the difference in the final flower. I do think the smaller ball worked better.


To complete the flower, I stacked the six layers, beginning with the largest layer. When I was finished, I decided to apply Perfect Pearls Mists by Ranger to the flower.


I didn’t shake the bottle well enough before spraying, so the flower got a much heavier dose of shine than I intended. Still, I think it worked out all right. It’s interesting how Perfect Pearls causes the blue and lavender colors to blend in a different way than the Gamsol.


If you have visited my MisterPenQuin shop on Etsy, then you know that I tend to use flowers on my book covers. It’s fun to come up with some variations, although I can’t imagine making a flower like this for every book because of the time involved. Have you ever worked with Spellbinder’s dies to make paper flowers?

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Sep 282014

When I visited my local Jo-Ann Fabrics store yesterday, my intent was to locate DK-weight yarn for a shawl I’d like to crochet for myself. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a single skein, but fortunately, I passed the scrapbooking aisle where I couldn’t resist parting with some cash to purchase a Spellbinders flower-making die, specifically the Create a Sunflower Die D-Lite, released earlier this year. Jo-Ann’s just added these die templates that allow you to craft a paper flower, and they seem to be flying out of the store, based on all of the empty peg hooks I observed.


To use the die kit, you’ll need some kind of a die-cutting tool, whether that’s the Grand Calibur® by Spellbinders®, the Cuttlebug™ by Provo Craft®, the Big Shot™ by Sizzix®, or something else. Fortunately, Spellbinders provides a downloadable guide that tells you how to build a “sandwich” of parts and paper to run through your machine to cut or emboss the paper. If you click on the image below, you can download the guide.


My own machine is a Big Shot™, so I followed the diagrams located beneath the flap of the die envelope: cut and emboss 10 extra large petals, 10 large petals, 10 medium-sized petals, and 10 small petals. This produces four layers of petals.


However, I diverged from the pattern almost immediately because I wanted to make a white Gerber daisy with three layers of petals instead of a sunflower with four layers. I determined the largest (and bottom) layer of petals would contain a combination of extra-large and large petals, the middle layer would contain middle-sized petals, and the top layer would contain small petals.


I then cut out 4 bases to which the petals are glued, 1 floret disc for the center of the flower, and 4 leaves. I figured I’d use the extra base for the bottom of the flower to help hold everything together.


The diagrams provided with the flower-making kit don’t provide assembly instructions, but you can download step-by-step instructions from the Spellbinders site, and modify things as you wish. Click on the image below to download the Create-a-Sunflower instructions.


I noticed that the flower bases in the instructions were green, but I had cut mine out in white because I didn’t have the right shade of green paper. Easy to fix! I simply colored the paper.


Next, I “rounded” the orange center of the flower using a McGill® stylus. I pierced the slits with a paper piercer to give the center some texture.


I curled each of the petals with a McGill® paper rolling tool, then dipped the stem of each petal in craft glue, and adhered it to a base.



I made three layers of flowers in graduated sizes, added leaves to the bottom of the largest layer, and adhered a base to the bottom of the flower to add strength to the fragile construction.



Then I stacked the flower layers, one inside the other, and adhered them to each other. I added the orange flower center, and thought I was done.


I decided to flatten the bottom layer of petals instead of having them curve up. Then I sprayed the flower with Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist in Pearl to add a little pizzazz. An added benefit was that after I dried the Glimmer Mist with a heat gun, the flower seemed to be sturdier. I’m not a chemist, but I would guess that there is an adhesive product in the liquid spray that contributes to this outcome. It also causes the paper to curl somewhat, which in this case is exactly what I want the petals to do.


And there you have it. I think I spent more time cutting out the parts of the flower and embossing them than I actually did for assembly. How can you use the flower? Decorate a scrapbook page, a gift package, a basket, or a wreath. Add a flower to wedding place cards, to a napkin ring, or simply scatter handmade flowers on a table cloth for a casual-but-sweet look. You could even glue paper flowers to a headband to dress it up, embellish a greeting card, or create a flower garland.

I used my sunflower die kit to make a Gerber daisy, but did I mention that I saw an empty peg hook for Create a Gerber Daisy dies? I have a feeling I’ll be visiting a different Jo-Ann Fabrics store soon to pick that one up. I’m not sure what the difference will be, but it probably doesn’t matter because I mix and match the parts of my flower-making die sets . . . and in the end they probably don’t resemble real flowers. My philosophy is that “anything goes” if it’s visually appealing!

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.