Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Masking tutorial

Summer is winding down, but you can still create summery cards to brighten someone's day.  In this tutorial, you'll learn how to use masking to lay one image on top of another without letting colors bleed or blend.  Then, you'll follow the assembly of the rest of the card.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cricut CTMH Art Philosophy Cartridge flower

I loved making this card... lots of distressing and muted colors... my favorite!  The dimensional flower was cut from my new Close To My Heart Art Philosophy Cricut cartridge, as were the layers.  I've been having so much fun playing with all the shapes and dimensional elements that you can make with that cartridge!  It is well worth the $99 when you consider the stamp sets and dimensional elements, which coordinate with cartridge shapes, included with the purchase.  I added a little ink to the edge of my rolled flower, and then for fun, I added some fuzzy yarn fibers as the flower center.  The yarn flower center coordinates nicely with the color of the butterfly.  As you can see, I sponged the edges of the layers on the card with ink that coordinated with my Kraft cardstock.  This card was really quite simple and quick to make, but has a lot of detail when you look closely!  The dimensional flower adds a very special punch.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Are you ready?

The holidays are just around the corner, so I'm making sure that I incorporate a few holiday cards among my other types of cards that I make.  This one was a BIG experiment.  If you've watched my card making for a while, you'll know that I just can't resist using Stickles.  They are a type of glitter glue that come in a vast array of colors.  I've been addicted to them for years.  So, I took the opportunity to break in a new stamp set by experimenting with my Stickles.  Close to My Heart has this awesome stamp set, which you can get for FREE with a $75 purchase during September 2011, called Pair-a-phrase.  It is a double set that has an image and a phrase that generally goes with each one.  This adorable snowman and cute phrase that goes with him is just one example of a an image/phrase pairing from this set.  I stamped my Snowman first, and then colored the entire image with Stickles!  It was such fun!  It may be a little too much bling, but is there ever really too much bling?  It also gives a ton of texture to the snowman.  I had never colored an entire image, in multiple colors like this, with only Stickles!

This card really is a ton of texture everywhere you look and touch.  It has an Cuttlebug embossed background patterned paper, which I then added some small snowflake images to.  Snowy cutouts adorn the front as well, which also have some Stickles added to them.  All in all, it was a fun card to make!

Are you ready for the holidays yet?  Have you started prepping for holiday gifts in any way?

Friday, August 19, 2011

another mushroom

This one is a bit brighter and includes a sentiment.  The sentiment is tied to the image, but in a subtle way.  Do you get it???

Saturday, August 6, 2011

In the spirit of Gen Con

So, all of my geeky pals know that Gen Con is this weekend.  For those that don't know or have no clue what I'm talking about, Gen Con is THE major gaming convention.  Board games, role plays, video games, even LARPing.  Look that last one up if you don't know what it is, it's a riot - and no, I don't LARP.  Anyway, my husband spent yesterday at Gen Con, and I spent the day crafting at home with the kids.  We'll all go to family day at Gen Con just like we did last year and have a great time.  I'll wear my Super Mario fire flower T-Shirt and my new mushroom earrings for the occasion.  The kids will wear video game or Star Wars shirts too.  Walk around Gen Con for about two minutes, and you'll see tons and tons of geekwear T-shirts... which hopefully don't stink too much since some of those folks will sit around and play games at Gen Con for about 24 hours straight!  You'll also see some amazing costumes as well.  Last year, we saw Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, a variety of monsters, costumes that looked like they would fit in at a ren faire, and many others as well.

In the spirit of all that is geeky, I made a card that has a subtle geek theme.  It uses stamps from the Gnome Garden set that Close to My Heart has in its catalog.  The first time I saw this set, I immediately thought of Super Mario Bros!  The mushroom isn't as cartoony, but it is in the same spirit and evokes the same feel.  If you have ever played a Mario game, you'll know that they often trapse through grassy lands with flowers, which is represented at the bottom of this card.  This is also a more masculine card, which is always a little more challenging to make.  The autumn colors that I used in both the papers (kraft card base, several autumn colored cardstock colors, and one patterned paper from CTMH) and inks help to give it a more masculine feel.  I colored the mushroom image, grass, and flowers with a variety of CTMH autumn colored markers.  For a final whimsical touch, I selectively slightly swiped my paper directly against an olive ink pad.  It gives a grassy look to the areas with the mushroom and the trim along the bottom.  Some funky green yarn adds a final bit of texture to the card and makes it a special present for the receiver!

Card Recipe:
kraft cardstock
cardstock in Close to My Heart Autumn colors
Close to My Heart pattern paper for front panel
Gnome Garden stamp set
Staz-On inkpad (so when you color, it will not bleed)
olive inkpad
markers in Autumn colors

Friday, August 5, 2011

Simple is sometimes better!

Here is an example of a very simple card that uses several techniques.  This is a one layer card using kraft cardstock.  I used scrap paper from flowers a different project where I had cut out flowers with the Cricut.  That scrap paper became my stencil for the flowers on the front of this card!  I simply laid the scrap paper down and sponged the flowers with Tulip ink.  It was very simple.  Then, I took a marker and added faux stitching to the edges of the flowers.  I sponged the edges of the card with Olive ink and used a sentiment stamp from the TLC set in the corner with Olive ink as well.  A few brads that coordinate with the Tulip ink add another special touch to the card.  

I made this card as a part of the Dare to Get Dirty challenges over at Splitcoaststampers.  If you would like to participate or get details on challenges or see other people's entries, head over to their website and join the Fan Club.  It is a blast!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Yay for the new catalog!

The new catalog for Close to My Heart launched on the website today.  Check it out under the "products" section at  The new Cricut bundle should be a ton of fun if you have a Cricut.  If you don't have a Cricut, this is a great excuse to get one!  There are some great new stamp sets as well.  I also love this month's stamp of the month.  It is an absolutely divine Halloween set!  Enjoy checking out the catalog.  You can order directly from my website from the "shop online" section if you find some things you just can't live without.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Whoooo you are (Sneak peek of a new set)

A former student of mine went on a spiritual retreat last weekend, and his mom asked if I would be willing to write a letter for him to read at the end of the weekend.  I was thrilled that she would think to ask me to do this for him, and in addition to writing, I made a special card just for him.  It also gave me the chance to play with a brand new stamp set!  This owl stamp and matching phrase are two acrylic stamps from CTMH's Pair-A-Phrase stamp set.  This will be an awesome double stamp set on special August 15th and September 30th.  It is two D-sized stamp sets that come together in one envelope.  This will be an amazing deal you won't want to pass up!  The stamps are adorable and can be used for so many holidays and occasions.  I thought this one was just perfect for a high schooler who is still kind of trying to figure out how to be true to himself and avoid peer pressure.
The card stock is all from CTMH's Autumn color collection.  I used Olive ink for the sentiment and for the swiped grassy look on the green panel.  Orange Stickles glitter glue add a little sparkle to the corners.  I stamped the owl in Staz-on ink and then colored in the owl and branch with CTMH Autumn color collection markers.  I also used one of the markers to doodle around the image panel.  I just love how colors coordinate so nicely when you use one brand!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Very rich, very texturized, Splitcoast sketch layout

This week's Sketch Challenge on Splitcoaststampers involved layering three different panels.  I took this opportunity to use some very rich autumn colors on a summery thank you card.  I also incorporated lots of texture into my design.  The small green panel has been embossed using Cuttlebug, and I added Garden Green ink to the embossed swirls.  If you look really closely, there is a small green Stickles glitter glue dot at the curve of one of the swirl tips.  I used a Close to My Heart My Acrylix stamp set called Delight for all of the images.  I just love all of the coordinating butterflies and flowers!  I used blue Stickles to add a little bling to the small circle image on the sentiment panel. Sponging Outdoor Denim along the outer edge of each panel gives the card a distressed and also more uniform look among all of the panels.  Finally, I corner punched all of the panels, tied some funky green and pink yarn around the green panel, and assembled my card.

This is a thank you card to my friend Jacquie who was a HUGE help to me in the music rotation for Vacation Bible School at my church this week.  Her help was so appreciated, that I had to make a really nice card for her.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sketch challenge fun!

Way back when, I used to participate in the Sketch Challenge on the Splitcoaststampers website on a regular basis.  Now that I am back in to crafting on a regular basis, I am trying to participate in some of them again!  The Sketch Challenge is a weekly challenge where you try to make your card based on a particular layout.  It is exciting to see all the different cards that are submitted and how different they all look even though they all used the same layout!

I dug out some of my really old clear stamps for this challenge.  They are from a company called My Favorite Things, and I bought them when the company was still quite young.  Now, that company has grown and has a lot more to offer.  These stamps were from one of their Christmas sets.  It was probably their only Christmas set at the time!  I used Close to My Heart papers and Olive ink, and I used Staz-On ink for the tree.  I used Staz-On ink because it is permanent, and I used watercolor pencils to color the tree and a small, wet paintbrush to blend the color.  An unintended effect was creating a sort of feathered texture on the paper where I had gotten it wet repeatedly.  This gave a look similar to actual pine or spruce needles, which was perfect for a Christmas tree!  I used a Close to My Heart wooden designer button and tied it with a small piece of funky green yarn.  I also distressed the edges of all panels with Olive ink, and I roughed up the edge of the small green trim piece with a blade for texture.

Why did I make a Christmas card in July?  Well, if you start making holiday cards here and there throughout the latter half of the year, the task is not quite so overwhelming when November and December come along.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer card by Annabelle

Annabelle wanted to make a birthday card for her Grandma who has a summer birthday.  She picked out some fun printed scrapbook papers in bright summery colors from my old scrapbook paper scrap pile.  Laying out her stamps and picking out her ink colors was fun for her.  She loved how she could layer the flower and the small butterfly from the Delight set from Close to My Heart.  She also decided to distress the edges of her paper by swiping the paper directly on the ink pad, but she had trouble swiping it without getting it all over.
  So, we just decided that it was ok for it to get all over the place!  The ink that she swiped is sort of a turquoise color and is a fun summery color with the oranges, pinks, and yellows in the papers.  She was really happy with how it turned out.
Proud of her card for Grandma!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happy Retirement

My uncle's retirement party was yesterday, and I made a card for the occasion.  Then, I so thoughtfully left the card and gift on my kitchen table and went to his house for the party.  Oops!  Well, I guess it is the thought the counts and he'll get his special card and gift the next time I see him.  In the meantime, I thought I would share his card here.
I used the following supplies:
Close to My Heart Outdoor Denim cardstock and ink
Close to My Heart Olive cardstock and ink
Close to My Heart B&T Duos paper (both sides of the paper are printed with a coordinated pattern)
Close to My Heart Enjoy Life stamp set and an acrylic block
Tombo Mono Adhesive roller

As you can see in the photo above, I layered a couple of different patterned papers as well as stamped images.  The bicyclist is stamped in Outdoor Denim ink, and the swirls behind him are also stamped in the same ink, but I stamped my stamp on a sheet of paper one time before stamping it on my patterned paper.  This gives a much lighter ink effect for the swirls and allows the bicyclist to come to the foreground.  I also swiped all of my papers against ink pads to distress the edges a little.

I used a very dark color of cardstock for the base of my card.  When you do this, you have a couple of options.  One, you can stamp your sentiment in white (or other light colored) craft ink and write a message and sign the card using a light or white colored gel pen.  Alternatively, you can do what I did, and cut a piece of lighter, coordinating paper, and stamp your sentiment in the darker ink.  If you look at the two photos, you'll notice that my interior paper matches the small blue layer on the front of the card, although the coloring in my photos doesn't make it look quite that way.  I promise, they are cut from the exact same piece!   I then stamped my sentiment in Outdoor Denim ink.  When I was all done with that, I signed my family names on the card in a matching Outdoor Denim marker.  I used the same marker to write my uncle's name on the envelope.  It was all very coordinated!  

Congrats on your retirement Uncle Dale.  You deserve to enjoy your time now.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Great deal!
Wow... just have to share this excellent deal from Close to My Heart.  You'll find that I won't do a lot of these posts here.  I really want to use this space to show you great ideas and techniques for crafts and gardening.  But from time to time, I'll want to highlight a good deal - and this is one of them!  For the month of July, when you purchase $50 in Close to My Heart products, you can choose from one of five paper or card kits for just $1!  This is an awesome deal.  These kits range in value from $8.95 to $14.95, so you really are getting a good value.  The highest in value is the "Around the Holidays" card kit, which I think is an excellent investment at this time of year.  I know it is summer, but it won't be long at all before you'll be thinking about making holiday cards and gifts for people.  One of my favorite gifts to give is a set of five handmade cards with envelopes and a small book of stamps.  People really appreciate a gift from the heart and a gift they can really use!  Take advantage of this deal for the month of July 2011 only.  Ashley's Close to My Heart Web Site

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sponge Distressing

Distressing paper using a sponge is a great way to give paper either an antique or a softer look than it would have without the distressing.  I use some sort of distressing technique on almost every card that I make.  The transition of one layer of paper to another on a card is often times more smooth when the same distressing technique is used on both sheets.  Here, I demonstrate how to use a sponge to distress your paper, giving this card a very antique, almost Old West type of feel.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ready for Father's Day

We spent the better part of this morning making Father's Day cards for various people. Annabelle and Joshua had a blast using my clear stamps and coordinating papers. I had not let them touch the My Acrylix stamps in the past, I only let them use my old rubber stamps that I didn't care about. So, today was a first for the kids, and both the kids and the stamps did well! Both kids had a MUCH easier time than usual since they could actually SEE where they were stamping. It makes a huge difference when you can see where you are placing your image, especially for kids. Both of them got very creative and pretty messy too.

Annabelle had especially inky fingers when she was done, but it was the result of finding many ways to be creative with stamps, ink, and sponges. She even used a combination of three stamps sets to create a happy face message on the inside of one card. It was quite unique!

Joshua really got into choosing his colors and centering and balancing images on his cards.  He used markers to add a few details to his images when he was done with the stamping and assembling.  Check out the look of concentration on his face!

I also made a few cards, including this one for my father-in-law.  The stamp set I used is called Summer Days and has great cook-out images.  Notice how my pattern paper very subtly matches the tablecloth image design?  That is one of the convenient things about using Close To My Heart products - superb product coordination!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Promise of things to come...

I'm making a commitment to actively blog again. I've resigned from my full-time teaching position to spend more time with my family. As a result, I will have more time for crafting and gardening with my kids and on my own. I've also taken on a little part-time work with my church and as a Close To My Heart independent consultant. Close To My Heart is a stamp/scrapbook/craft company with clear acrylic stamps, which are high-quality and easy to use. You'll start to see more of their products appearing in my videos and pictures, as I find them much easier to use than the rubber stamps I used to use.

So, without any delay, here is a digital scrapbook layout. Close To My Heart has a deal this month (June 2011) where you can create a Studio J online layout for free, and then download the .jpg file at no cost. You can then print it at home, post it to Facebook, or do whatever you choose with it. Typically, you have to purchase the layout prints through Close To My Heart in order to get a .jpg file, but this is a .jpg with no obligation. This is a great way to test out Studio J and see if a different mode of scrapbooking is for you. I had never used Studio J before, and I have to admit, it was pretty fun using all of the digital embellishments, layouts, and papers they had to offer. Because it uses professionally designed layouts with perfectly coordinated papers and add-ons, my product is much better looking than any of the photo book products I've create through other websites.

When you order, you have to go through the checkout process to receive your free .jpg. It takes about 15 minutes to process and will be sent to your email address. You will receive one file of the entire layout for posting online, like the one above. You will also receive separate files of each page of the layout that are of higher quality and do not have the Studio J information at the bottom of them. I highly recommend you try this while it is free!
Visit to try Studio J for free this month.