8 Entries in Spellbinders Explore Beyond: Craft to Win Sweepstakes!

The week before Christmas is always a busy time, but the kids and I had started our Christmas break on the 14th, so we had time to bake, clean, shop and (for me), get caught up on the many little things that seem to slide during a busy homeschool week. Like bookkeeping.

I also grabbed every available minute to create. In addition to painting a vintage sign for my husband, I made eight entries for a big competition held by Spellbinders.The Spellbinders Explore Beyond: Craft to Win sweepstakes gave me the opportunity to create using my favourite dies and because I challenged myself to enter something in each of the six categories, I really stretched my abilities as a crafter.

The jewellery making challenge was the hardest for me. I wanted to make something that I would be willing to wear, and something that was real jewellery, and that eliminated anything too “paper crafty”. I ended up die cutting shrink plastic and colouring it with alcohol inks to create this bracelet, but I would say it’s more something I would give my girls to wear than me. It’s cute though!

Next I made a scarf and brooch for the fabric arts category. I used wool felt and a thrifted sweater to create the scarf, and the brooch is die cut using felt as well. I love the rich colours. Again, I don’t want to ever make anything I wouldn’t wear myself, so I made it to coordinate with my new winter coat which is a rich emerald green.

For the mixed media category I made a banner that is meaningful because of what I’ve learned about gratitude this past year. I have been more joyful than I’ve ever been in my life because I’m learning to look for a gift in every circumstance, and little reminders like this help! I painted canvas sheets and layered them with die cuts, and my hands were stained with ink for days after this project!

This was my entry into the home decor category, and it’s the project I am most proud of. This photo frame has three sides, and each one features a photo of one of my three children. I used my dies the most creatively for this project, even die cutting fancy “legs” for my frame using the negative shape of a die. I would be proud to display this in my home.

Working with paper is definitely more in my comfort zone. I made two cards for the competition and two layouts.

I enjoyed the scrapbook layouts the most, and am excited about working on more album pages in the new year. I’m planning a series of classes focusing on scrapbooking as well, and I love the way that documenting memories through scrapbooking helps to make me a more thankful person as I cherish family memories.

Whether or not any of my projects are chosen to win the competition, creativity is never wasted. I had a great week creating these projects and found new and interesting ways to use my Spellbinders dies. Fun!

Eleven Great Tips for Using Spellbinders Thin Metal Dies

When it comes to paper crafting, I have two passions. One is for stamping, which I have been doing for over half my life, since I started when I was seventeen years old!

My other paper crafting passion is for my Spellbinders dies. I have over thirty different sets, and a weakness for every new release. They just keep getting better, and I just never seem to have enough! I just got a set of the Resplendent Rectangles dies, and they are beautiful! I knew they would make a lovely anniversary card for this week’s Playing in Paradise challenge at Scrapbooker’s Paradise.

I had to use the word “forever” even though that may sound more wedding than anniversary. I am so thankful for a husband who meant “forever” when we spoke our wedding vows, and he knows I have the same commitment to him. I wish that kind of love for every married couple.

About the card: There are four different yet complementary die cut shapes on this card, all from the Resplendent Rectangles set. I die cut each one from white cardstock, and then inked and misted them to get the colours I desired. Sometimes that is just easier than trying to find the right colour of cardstock for a project, which usually has me pulling out my hair.

The stamped image is another new treat – a pretty pile of poppies and bells from Cosmo Cricket’s Art Angel stamp set. I stamped it in black ink and then coloured it with Copic markers. I’m no Copic expert, but even part time Copic artists like me can get a lovely effect with a few markers and a blender pen. I layered some Copic Spica glitter pen as well – Spica pens add a fairytale fine shimmer that is so addicting! I much prefer Spica to chunky, gunky glitter glue.

A few things I’ve learned about die cutting using Spellbinders dies:

  1. You can use Spellbinders dies with all manual die cutting machines. When I started using Spellbinders, I could confidently cut with them after watching a YouTube video that outlined how to “sandwich” my cardstock and dies for my specific machine.
  2. After die cutting, use a rubber mat between cardstock and cutting plate, and run your sandwich through again. This optional second embosses (or debosses) the textured part of the die and I nearly always choose this step since it adds such a classy, finished look. It’s a look you don’t get with digital die cutting machines.
  3. After die cutting and embossing, you can use the die as a stencil to ink the areas of the die cut not covered by the die, or mist with ink, or brush with paint. This can add subtle or dramatic colour to your die cut image.
  4. Spellbinders dies come in coordinating sets. I especially love the Nestabilities because they come in graduated sizes. It’s fun to die cut several sizes and layer together to give the look of matting. I also love to layer a circle die with a scalloped circle die, for example – they have been designed to fit together well.
  5. Spellbinders also offers embossing plates. I love to ink these before embossing to get a letterpress look on my cardstock. The cardstock can be die cut before or after inking and embossing.
  6. Don’t be afraid to cut, fold or otherwise manipulate your die cut image. Intricate designs can be twined with other shapes to create entirely new looks. Becca Feeken of Amazing Paper Grace is a master of this technique. Spellbinders also has a line of Cut – Fold – Tuck dies that are actually made to emphasize this ability.
  7. Use wax paper between your die and cardstock when cutting out intricate designs. This will help the cardstock detach from the die a little more easily. It still can take time and patience to carefully remove very detailed designs from the die without tearing.
  8. If a die doesn’t cut all the way through on the first time, rotate it and move to a different position on the cutting plate, and run it through again. Older cutting plates especially can hinder a clean cut on the first pass.
  9. Store your Spellbinders dies on a magnetic sheet inside a DVD or CD case after opening. So far this is the best organization tip I’ve seen for storing thin metal dies.
  10. Spellbinders frequently pairs up with stamp manufacturers to create dies that coordinate with a variety of stamp designs. This stamp & die pairing is a match made in heaven for someone like me! My all time favourite stamp & die union is the Blossom Stackers dies and stamp set (there are three projects using these stamps & dies in my Best of 2011 post!).

So, that’s ten things you may not have known about my favourite dies, and ten reasons you should try them! Reason #11 is that Scrapbooker’s Paradise has a sale on right now – 20% off AND free shipping until November 7, 2012 – it’s the perfect time to stack up some Spellbinders!

And of course this is also challenge day on the Scrapbooker’s Paradise blog – the impetus for the anniversary card I’ve shared above. Why not create your own anniversary project, and link up to win? Have a great weekend!

A Fresh Use for an Upcycled Berry Basket

The special issues from Paper Crafts magazine have always been my favourite and I’ve bought them faithfully for many years. So it was a treat to me, after having projects published in the monthly magazine, to be published in my first ever special issue, Holiday Cards & More, which released just last week.

I had saved a big stack of cute cup-size clear berry baskets cause I just knew I could create a treat package from them. Using a mix of Spellbinders dies, I made an embellished band that slips over the basket, and the whole package ties shut with a soft ribbon. Pretty, and a great way to share a few cookies with a friend.

The entire issue is full of great Christmas cards, tags, decor and gift ideas. Why not grab a copy from a local retailer or using the link above?

PPC#80: Back to Nature with Home Made Jam

When I was a little girl, summertime always meant berry picking. On my knees with Grandma in the wild strawberry patch always reaped a jewel-like handful to eat with cream and sugar. Berry picking outings with my mum and aunt included a lot more complaining, batting at bees and blackflies in the saskatoon thicket or gazing fearfully around worrying about grizzly encounters on Huckleberry Mountain.

Not much has changed over the years, only now I’m the mum, and the complaining is done by my kids. Actually, I try to be pretty sensitive about not keeping them out there against their will; at least not for too long!

And berry picking also means fresh jam! Delicious! I’ve made strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and apricot-mango (pictured below) and though I didn’t pick the fruit, the apricot-mango is my favourite. I thought it would be fun to make some cute labels for the jars I plan to give as gifts, so I got out my favourite dies – Spellbinders dies – to see what I could come up with.
Not a complicated design – just an arrangement of die cuts I layered (Spellbinders Labels 1, Large Circles and Scallop Circles Large, and Ribbon Banners for the orange felt). I like using 100% wool felt for die cutting since it cuts so cleanly.

The rest of the Scrapbooker’s Paradise design team is getting Back to Nature and what’s more natural than homemade jam? (aside from fresh berries, that is!) I’m pleased to have jars that I would be proud to give to a friend as a sweet and delicious gift, and I’d love to see what you come up with in your own Back to Nature challenge entry!

Visit the Scrapbooker’s Paradise blog today to see the rest of the design team’s projects and submit your challenge entry! Thanks for visiting; won’t you stop by for jam & fresh buns one of these days?

A list, a triathlon update and a Gallery Idol card

1. Went shopping for summer capris on Saturday which was a wonderful experience. Note: when you are trying on bottoms and one pair fits two whole sizes smaller than your usual, BUY THEM. My triathlon training is paying off, and I get to eat without guilt, so it’s totally win-win.

2. Triathlon is two weeks away. I’m more excited than scared at this point and it’s because I joined the bike club on Tuesday and we cycled 30km. As I pedalled up the biggest hill, I kept repeating under my breath “I’m hardcore, I’m hardcore,” which is truly wishful thinking but it got me to the top and beating that hill has given me confidence that I will do fine with the cycle portion of the triathlon on June 3rd. Also it is much more fun to bike with others than alone. MUCH.

3. I entered several cards in Paper Crafts magazine’s Gallery Idol contest. Today I scrolled through many of the nearly 1100 entries and if I don’t place in the top 20 I won’t feel too hurt. Do you know how many cards that is? A card needs to be truly stellar to stand out among that many entries. Here’s one of the ones I entered of which I am most proud:

I love the collage effect and the embossed frame which is a Spellbinders die, uncut.

I enjoyed doing a lot of stamping on this card using Pink Paislee Spring Jubilee stamps.

I just love that bee! Tip: sometimes certain clear acrylic stamps will have issues with the ink beading. I learned from Jennifer McGuire via Twitter that a light sanding with a very fine grade of sandpaper will help them hold the ink evenly.

4. Wade built for the kids all weekend. He brought home a swing set, slide & play yard from work, and set it up in the yard. There’s even a fireman’s pole to slide down! And if that’s not enough, he also set up a rope swing in the very back of the yard. It’s the favourite so far.

This photo was taken last week and we do have leaves now! Finally. And though it snowed like crazy on Friday, Saturday was beautiful.

I even got a sunburn on Sunday.

have a great week friends!

A Crafty Secrets Linky Party!

This morning I was reading all the new entries in my blog reader and was excited to see that Crafty Secrets was holding their first linky party! Any projects created using Crafty Secrets products are eligible to join the linky fun and I love their “Heartwarming Vintage” stamps since I am such a fan of vintage illustrations!

Sandy from Crafty Secrets was having a little trouble figuring out how to set up the linky tool and me being the veteran blogger/web designer/internet aficionado that I am, I gave her a call and helped walk her through it. I really don’t think I was much help but you know, when you want to join a challenge, you do what you gotta do to make it happen, right?

It felt good to make a card “just for fun” today. I have been trying so hard to focus on deadlines and business promotion projects, but really I papercraft for the love of it and need to take time to keep that in perspective. Tonight my hubby is in a late meeting and I live for that monthly late night crafting session!

Sometimes I think I’ll get rid of the thirty or so Copic markers that I have. I love coloured pencils and watercolour pencils for colouring so much more. In my teens I spent a year or two working exclusively in coloured pencil before I turned to watercolour. Right now I am also going through a slight obsession with calligraphy, buying dip pens and nibs and fountain pens and at this point I have so many pen nibs that I’m pretty sure that I need to blame the hand and not the pen for my sad attempts at lettering!

All this babbling is just to say that I am doing artsy things. And I love my stamps and had fun with my Crafty Secrets sets this afternoon! Check out the linky party on their blog here and play along!

Paper: My Mind’s Eye Miss Caroline 6×6 pad
Stamps: Crafty Secrets
Ink: Close to My Heart Desert Sand, Bamboo, Cocoa
Dies: Spellbinders 

Playing in Paradise: Love Hopes card

Hi friends!  Don’t be too jealous of me because today I’m in Las Vegas! Way last October, I bought tickets for my husband’s Christmas present. He has always wanted to have stadium seating at the Monster Jam World Finals in Las Vegas and it was so fun to surprise him on Christmas morning with tickets to Vegas for just the two of us! It’s the first time I’ve successfully surprised him with a gift he actually likes. Double points for me because this is also his birthday present; he’ll be turning thirty-five tomorrow. Just five years older than Gravedigger!

While most of our fun will involve motors – he has a visit to So-Cal Speed Shop on his itinerary, a tour of the car show at the Imperial Palace and an afternoon at the Las Vegas Speedway – I do get to have fun too! Tonight we are taking in Phantom of the Opera, just for me! Yes, opposites DO attract, why do you ask?

Even though we’ll be away, I couldn’t miss a challenge at Scrapbooker’s Paradise. Won’t you play along this week as we share some meaningful quotes?

I love Bible verse stamps – they make cards so meaningful – so I had to use one of my favourites on this card. I also used another favourite – my Spellbinders dies! The little girl was stamped and coloured over a year ago; it’s about time I used her on a project don’t you think?
I think that was also the first time I used my Copic markers!

Isn’t this paper beautiful? I am in LOVE with the newest patterns from My Mind’s Eye and ordered all of them from Scrapbooker’s Paradise. I’ll be using the 6×6 pads in my April card class! (Email me for details and dates!)

The problem with stamping on patterned paper is that you can lose some detail in the pattern. Since I used a red ink, the words that overlapped with the red flowers got kind of “lost.” So I just emphasized some words by stamping on white cardstock, cutting them out and adhering them in their place. I think it works!

I wouldn’t mind treating myself to a Spiral Blossom die or two, but until I do, I cut and roll my own after die cutting a circle or a scallop circle. For these little roses I used a die from the Blossom Stackers set. And I used two different dies for the border strip. I overlapped them a little, a la Becca Feeken!

So that’s my project for the Playing in Paradise challenge this week. Won’t you join us and play along? Visit the blog here to check out the rest of the design team’s inspiration projects and get the details on how to participate. And have a fantastic weekend (though not as fantastic as me)! :)

Wood Veneer Photo Frame

I keep forgetting to mention that I was doing some fixing in the back room of my blog and had to delete a couple of things. If you’re subscribing to my blog you might be getting a “feed deleted” message – please go ahead and re-subscribe using the button on the right. I’ve got lots planned for this year – painting and stamping video tutorials are going to be popping up, and oh, lots of great projects.

Since I had to disqualify myself from continuing to round #2 of the Spellbinders Design Team competition due to a scheduling conflict (I’m taking my husband to Las Vegas for his 35th birthday to watch the Monster Jam World Finals and it conflicts with the Spellbinders design team trip to Arizona), I think I can get away with showing you the project that put me through round #1.

I made this photo frame featuring my beautiful children, cardstock, wood veneer paper and Spellbinders dies. Isn’t it pretty? The wood veneer paper was die cut to make the frames, and then stained using dye ink and varnished.

I covered chipboard with paper and cardstock for the frame base, and mounted my frames on the base using foam tape with a gap at the top so I could slip the photos in. And then I got to play with flower dies to my heart’s content!

Here’s a list of the dies I used: Labels 17, Parisian Accents, Blossom Stackers, Flower Creations, all from Spellbinders. Paper and cardstock are from Close to My Heart.


Ups and Downs

It’s been kind of a cool week for me scrap-wise. I won a little Unity Stamp Co. competition with these:

So now I’m waiting for my ten free Itty Bitty stamps to come in the mail. It says they’re itty bitty, but they’re really kind of a big deal.

And today my name was posted on the Spellbinders blog as they narrow down the entries for their design team search. I can’t believe I made it past round #1! How awesome is that? While I am dreaming of being chosen for many design teams, Spellbinders is pretty much the top of the list, and I would LOVE to win a spot on the team, beside some of my paper craft idols. (Kimberly Crawford and Lesley Langdon, you know who you are.) Unfortunately, I had to email Spellbinders today and decline to continue the competition. I found out recently that I have a prior commitment that prevents me from fulfilling the travel portion of the design team spot. Next year I will try again and totally knock their socks off. But I am also so disappointed that I can’t continue on – I was so sure that this was MY year.

With that in mind I’m sharing a little “feel better” card – who says it’s just for illness? When we have a disappointment, it can take a little time for the sting to fade. I love the cheery combination of yellow and the fussy cut flower on this trendy card made using papers from Authentique.