Monday, October 22, 2012

New Fall greeting card designs

I've been busy during my "free" time which is usually late at night after I am finally done with all the animals but it's too late to vacuum or do other house work.  These are so far all wildlife rehabilitation based cards, which means that each animal was cared for by me until it was old enough and capable to be successfully released into the wild.  When it comes to cards, people seem to prefer the flatter type if they need to mail the card, so I have tried to accommodate that. 

Again, these cards are completely made by hand.  The backgrounds are embossed and hand colored, the embellishments are handmade (I never use store bought embellishments!), and the designs are uniquely "Sigi's creations".  I have omitted inside greetings this time to allow you to write your personal greetings.  Your feedback is welcome!!!

The cards, which come with a handmade envelope, are priced at $5.95 each.  Again, your purchase helps me help wildlife!

Here is my litte flying squirrel baby boy who arrived with a broken wrist when he was only about 7 days old, and he is sleeping under a maple tree. 

Two squirrel youngsters peak out of a nestbox.  Oak leaves and other fall grasses decorate the corner of tne nest box. 

 Tornado, the now fairly famous surviving squirrel from the 2011 tornado that devastated the Sturbridge/Monson/Springfield area, eating an almond.

 And then of course there is Tubby, my Logo squirrel, whom I had gotten as a baby, raised, released, and who returned with a broken leg for help, was treated at Tufts, healed, was re-released, and then bode me a very emotional farewell.  Tubby will always have a special place in my heart.  You can read his entire story on this blog

Shadow boxes

Working on new designs for fall and soon Christmas, I wanted to make something more dimensional.  The end result are two shadow boxes of which I am quite proud.  Both feature basically the same theme, but one is a maple tree, the other an oak tree. 

The design came about after my friend Troy, a tree cutter by trade, came to our house last week with his monster bucket truck to hang seven squirrel nest boxes in the trees surrounding our property.  Troy and my husband had built a total of 14 squirrel nest boxes together a few weeks earlier, so our squirrels get to enjoy luxury housing with poly fill already inside this winter.  The city of Gardner is good at cutting trees but falls flat on their faces when it comes to replacing ANY trees, and the result is an ever decreasing natural homestead for wildlife of all kinds.  Birds need trees just as much as squirrels do, and we humans need them as well, for oxygen, among other things... 

But back to my shadow boxes.  Both are completely made from scratch, with just a few punches, scissors, an embossing pad, distress inks, glue, a picture, and lots of imagination.  I am having my husband bring one to work to display on his book shelf in hopes that maybe some co workers visit my blog and leave honest comments about the shadow box.  Pictures never do justice to three-dimensional items. 

Again, my items are for sale to help offset the ridiculous cost of wildlife rehabilitation.  I haven't added up all animals I've taken in this year, but the total will easily run 90 or so.  I will be overwintering a flying squirrel and a red squirrel plus two birds I could not release in time for migration, but I am nowhere done for the year otherwise:  I still have 10 squirrels in outside cages, four more went to Troy into his outdoor cage for release there so I don't overpopulate my area, and I am holding three doves and a robin in my flight cage until I can solve the cat problem in our yard.  A cat, a repeat offender which I have chased out countless times already, killed one of my young doves released earlier a few days ago, and I am now on the war path to make our property safe to release my wildlife. 

 This is the first shadow box I made.  The maple leaves are a Martha Stewart medium punch and are then hand colored with distress inks and shaped.  The nest box is completely made by hand with just an embossing folder used for texture and distress inks.  The squirrels are two of hundreds that I have raised or rehabilitated over the years.  The mums are clusters of individual blossoms made by hand.  The box is very dimensional with branches reaching out to the front, but that is hard to see in a two-dimensional picture. 

The price for this box is only $39.95

Here is the second box, even more dimensional than the first one.  I added layers of chipboard to give the nest box thickness and make it stand out more, and I sculpted the tree trunk and branches into more dimensional shapes.  The oak leaves are punched out with a Marvy Uchida punch and hand colored and shaped as the maple leaves. 

The price for this box is $45.95 

Note that the price for the shadow box alone is $10, and it took well over 12 hours to make each box.  I use only high quality cardstock. 

Each box is a one-of-a-kind item, since even if I make another one it won't look the same as these.   

My first ever Halloween card!

Our Dutchpapercraft design team had this idea that we should do a Halloween swap: either stuff an envelope with materials related to Halloween, or make a Halloween card.  Swap with another member of the team. 

Now, Halloween is not something I do much with except hand out candies galore when the kids come around.  So my chin nearly hit the top of my craft table when I saw this.  There was a choice to opt out, but  I didn't want to be a party pooper either.  I have orange and purple and black paper, but not gory colors, mostly only colors I use for flower making.  I had a set of Spellbinders bats.  What else?  Money was tight as usual, feeding 30 wildlife plus pets is expensive, so going out to the craft store and purchase a bunch of stuff I don't really care for in the first place was not a choice either.  And then there was sooo much to do with the animals, would I even find the time to think of something? 

A day or so later I remembered that I might have bought a Halloween Cricut cartridge dirt cheap last year, did I?, and I went searching in my storage bag.  Yes, there it was, so I was "in". 

Anyway, I made one card, and it came out so cute that I decided to make an even larger one which is currently my husband's Halloween desk display at work.  But before I handed it to him I took some pictures. 

The card is a twist-up design, and I got the idea from a YouTube video which featured a round card.  Why not adapt it to a rectangular card?  As you can see, it worked like a charm, but I had to reinforce the card stock in the back since the card is quite hefty. 

 This is the closed card.  I cut out the house from the Cricut Happy Halloween cartridge.  The bats are Spellbinders, the door is my own addition.  I used a Cheery Lynn Wittle Wicker die to emboss the pattern, Tim Holtz distress inks to color the door, and added a clear glaze and brads as door nobs. 

The opened card.  Oh, I forgot, the rim is a Martha Stewart border punch "spider webs", the pumpkins are also a MS border punch I got on clearance, the BOO is cut out by hand, the spider and ghost are hand made.  The spider is made from pom poms and pipe cleaners, the ghost is card stock and veil material.  I glitter glued spider webs all over the floor and added the cobble stone path. 

 And here is what hides behind the door:  one of my many baby red squirrels drinking formula... 

Anybody can cry BOO! and put something icky behind that door, but not everybody has baby squirrels to take pictures of...  So there!... 

Happy Halloween!!!

Cheery Lynn Fall and Halloween 2012 release

22 October 2012

Yesterday Darlene of Dutchpapercrafts released my latest design challenge, a beautiful die bundle from Cheery Lynn with which I had a lot of fun.  So I want to start with that and give explanations to the different cards and items I created.  It's been a while since I had time to add to my blog, but I PROMISE that I will.  Not just crafts, after all, I rehabilitate wildlife, and it has been an incredibly busy year with lots and lots and lots to write about, so please stay tuned!

Anyway, back to the design challenge.   Here is a link to Darlene's video:
You can also view it on YouTube, just search for dutchpapercrafts.

This is the first card Darlene presented, and the challenge was to use the Cheery Lynn honeycomb die.  Since I messed around so much with all the other dies I decided to make a simple card for a change, simple and homing in on fall colors.  The background consists of several layers of deep orange, deep green, and lighter yellow Bazill cardstock, the leaves are punched out from leftover fall color patterned cardstock.  Heck, sometimes I like to go a little abstract!

This is the Japanese Wall Hanging die from Cheery Lynn.  I was thrilled when I saw that die since I knew exactly what I could create with it.  I lived in Japan for three years and loved, loved, loved it there!  So here is my rendition of a Japanese room... 

Here is the folded card, held shut with a little velcro tab hidden underneath a handmade flower...
... and here is the open card, illuminated from behind to show off the "rice paper" panels (I used wax paper to create the effect).  For the side panels I cut the die in half and used only half of it on each side.  The center panel is inlay work:  I cut the die several times with the colors shown and then used the pieces to create the color pattern.  The Kanji stamp is gold embossed, the little cranes are classic Origami, and I chose a white lantern since red lanterns are often used to illuminate the streets where Japanese men can seek companionship.  I used chop sticks to mimic the floor of the room.  The walls are covered with fabric inside and out. 
If you would like to know how I made the lantern, please email me and I'll be happy to post instructions. 

This was another fun die to use, the Cheery Lynn chain link fence.  I chose a silvery cardstock for the die which normally would cover most of the card front, but I wanted only sections of it.  The background is layered, the background grass stamp on the left is from Hero Arts, and the grass dies are from Marianne.  The chipmunk was one of my countless "house guests" who hogged the food bowl upon release and stuffed his pockets with goodies until nothing else could fit anymore.  He was quite wild but let me come fairly close with the camera since he knew I was no threat.  -  The flowers are fall asters, and yes, they are quilled after being cut with a fringe die.  I have several from Quilled Creations and from Memory Box, and the leaves are I believe also a Cheery Lynn die plus punched out shapes from my stash.  The card is matted off-centered to add a bit of interest. 

And here is the card I am most proud of, because I incorporated sooo many different techniques, and the stone work may be my very own invention to boot.  This is NOT a card that is done in a few hours, but the end result is, at least in my opinion, nothing short of stunning. 
 I started off with medium weight chip board and cut out the shape of the Gothic cathedral.  Then I used a Spellbinders die to cut out the round hole that would correspond to the size of the window die but just a tad smaller to allow for glueing on the window.  Then I used a stiff flat brush to paint on the medium, which I found at Home Depot in the paint section.  It is from Martha Stewart and is called Terra Cotta Specialty Finish.  The container holds 10 fl oz.   The stuff reminds me of Spackle with a very fine grid sandy texture, and it is an off white color. In fact, when I wanted to get another container they didn't have any in stock so I brought home a small container of Spackle which I  will try next time.  -  Painting on the stone work was painstaking work, and then I had to let it dry.  So I made several panels, and by the time I had a few done the first one was dry.  -  To get the stone effect I chose Tim Holtz alcohol inks, Slate.  Full strength, it evaporates in no time but creates some interesting hues, while when diluted with water a bit it lasts longer but gives a lighter effect.  It also takes longer to dry.  I went over the piece several times, brushing very quickly to not add too much color, and the mottled effect reminds me of the old sandstone cathedrals we have all over Europe. 

 I cut out the stained glass window from thick card stock that has a slight silvery shimmer and glued that on clear acetate (a.k.a. clear slides material for projectors).  Then I trimmed around the die.  As for the stained glass effect, again I used Tim Holtz alcohol inks which I mixed into Judikin glaze until I was satisfied with the stain. I laid the die face down and painted the colored glaze onto the sections as shown, letting the colors dry before proceeding to the next to prevent bleeding.  Again, I made several windows at once.  No sense wasting inks and glaze, that stuff is not cheap.  By the way, Aleene's clear glaze would also work.  FYI, I tried different type markers and inks without the glaze, and it doesn't work.  -  When the glaze was thoroughly dry, I glued the window onto the outside of the card.  Next, I glued wax paper onto the window from the INSIDE and overlapping onto the cardstock to add stability and also to give the inks a deeper color.  Leaving it clear made for too subtle colors for me, the wax paper enhanced the colors dramatically.  I glued the wax paper carefully and added fine lines of glue only along the lines of the die. -  Next, I added the wings with white cardstock and then proceeded to cover the inside of the card with white cardstock as well.  Needless to say, I had cut out the corresponding holes prior to assembly to make the whole thing fit.  Lastly, I cut out the cathedral window again, this time with white cardstock, and added that on the inside of the card to give the window a finished look.  I did the same with the smaller center pieces on the wings.  Added the sentiment, and then the vine, a mega flourish die from Cheery Lynn. 

This is how the card looks when illuminated by either a lamp or a candle. 
And here is the card as it looks without backlight illumination. 

I chose a year round sentiment, but this card could easily be made into a Christmas card.  I just felt that a recipient might want to keep it out year round since it looks so pretty when illuminated!

 Next is the Cheery Lynn Mexican Tile pattern.  This die cried out for inlay work, at least to me.  I chose the terra cotta color pattern which also happens to correspond with fall.  This die cuts out two separate pieces, the center piece can be added or left out, depending on your personal taste.  I cut out the die in all the different colors featured here, and piercing out the tiny holes that run through takes a little patience since they don't always fall out readily.  I kept all the tiny pieces and then sat down and started gluing in the inlay.  The diamonds are not all identical, the center ones are smaller than the outer die part and all are off centered and need to be fit accordingly, so yes, this type of card requires patience.  But isn't the end result stunning?  I had so much fun with it!!!  I then added the ribbon after punching out the slots with an EK Success heavy duty punch (Michaels, 40% off coupon, but oh so worth it over their own brand, that punch goes through several layers like butter). 

On the inside of the card I continued with the color scheme and added a zig zag border (EK Success border punch).  Since I don't own any Spanish stamps I had to look up the "how are you?" greeting and them added it by hand.  Not perfect, but I didn't want to do a computer printout either. 

And then there was this Cheery Lynn Pinwheel die.  At first I had no idea what I would do with that, so I set it aside for last, or until I would have an "epiphany".  And golly, did I ever, grin...

At first I decided to make a Halloween card, and Halloween colors are of course black and orange and other gory colors.  So here is my rendition of a Halloween card which incorporates all those colors!  The pinwheel spins, the bats are Spellbinders nestabilities enhanced with Sakura gel pens and Stickles eyes.
But I had already messed around with the pinwheel which comes with an angel wing (the half die which is used on folded cardstock with the non-cut side of the die aligned to the folded side of the cardstock so you can unfold it and have the whole shape) and kept looking at it and wondering what else I could do with that.

Well, THAT.  It is a Halloween ornament, and it is super easy to make.  I cut out the pinwheel eight times and glued it onto both sides of four angel wings.  That gave me four double sided pin wheels.  Next, I used my heavy duty paper trimmer (rotary blade) and cut each pinwheel exactly in half.  (Don't try this with a flimsy Fiskars trimmer, the triangular blade will not make it through and destroy your pinwheel).  Then I took a 1/4" diameter dowel and glued each half onto the dowel, going opposites each time to make spacing easier.  I used Aleene's fast grap tacky glue but it took quite a while for the glue to securely hold each piece, so maybe hot glue is a better choice as long as you place the piece exactly immediately.  That's why I prefer regular glue, it allows me to move the piece into place which hot glue doesn't.  I then hung the ornament until the glue was completely dry and everything felt stiff and rigid.  Then I strung the beads (from my stash, no idea where they're from), added the holographic ribbon to the bottom to hide the dowel, and glued all the bling into place.  Again I used the basic Aleene's fast tack glue, in my opinion still the best glue out there...  Last, I cut off the top of the dowel and added the orange ribbon for hanging. 

This little angel just "happened".  I don't know how and why, I just suddenly "saw" that in the die pattern.  Both my husband and Darlene quibbed "how the heck did you come up with this one from that die?", and I don't really know how, it just did.  Darlene asked me to post instructions on how to make it, so here goes:

1.  Cut out two pinwheels.  You will use about 1 1/3 pinwheels for one angel.

2.  Cut out along the design seven segments as shown.  Make sure you have the same design on each side since this is where you will glue the body together, and the design needs to match.

3.  Cut a notch in the top as shown and then snip into that vertically a few times so you can bend a small rim later on.  You'll see what I mean in the next pictures once this piece is glued together. 

4.  Now, take the piece you cut off and roll the arm like this.  You will use one patterned and one solid segment for one arm.  Glue together on the rolled-in seam, then cut.

5.  Your two finished arms should look like this.

6.  Next, cut the two wings from the leftover material.  You could of course add more real looking wings, but I preferred the stylized kind to match the pattern. 

7.  When the body is glued together, the pattern should match perfectly and look like this.  Note the "collar" on the top, I added a rim to glue on the wooden head.  That's why I snipped in first, to make it easier to create the rim. 

8.  Side view of the body before head, arms, and wings are glued on. 

9.  For the hair I used a square cotton cosmetic cleansing pad, the kind you buy in a roll of about 50 or so at the drug store.  I cut it like this:  The bottom center will be the bangs. 
I suggest you use regular glue to adhere the hair so you can manipulate it into place. 

10.  The ALMOST finished angel.  I always forget to paint around the bottom squares before I glue the body together, duh, so I have to add it afterwards. 

11.  The decorated angel.  I used Sakura glitter gel pens, gold. 

12.  Back side of angel to show how I glued the wings. 

Well, hopefully this little angel inspired you to dig out your round doilies and start making angels with them!!! 

I hope you enjoyed this blog.  Please feel free to email me with any questions!  Happy crafting!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Die-Versions Heart Release

Darlene surprised me today with the release of my last assignment.  Well, I should have been ready to publish this, I just haven't had the time to post anything.  Seven skunks, two opossums, cottontail bunnies, a host of baby birds, and already the second batch of baby squirrels keep me hopping non-stop. 

But that's another story.  Need to describe and explain my creations here, so please bear with me!

Darlene sent me these intricate dies with a comment that these would be great for a wedding theme.  I took a deep breath when I read that, I have only been to one American wedding and that was eons ago.  Hailing from Germany, my own first wedding had been very small and frugal, so I had to do some serious research. 

American wedding cakes can be extremely elaborate, and don't ask me why, but that was the first thing that popped in my head: make a paper wedding cake.

To make this I cut out two same size cardboard circles and one larger one for the bottom piece.  Then I cut the side walls and scrored both sides about 1/2 inch in and then cut triangles to the score line to make the cardboard bend smoothly and to use the triangles as glue attachments.  Let it all dry and then decorated the cake with white and yellow paper. Then I added four die cuts of the Love All Around die equally spaced around the sides and one DVS 4x4 110 Heartthrop circle die on top.  .Then I cheated and used Perfect Pearls as embellishments, but they are a little more runny than I had wanted...

For fairness' sake I have to state that the topper is actually a large Martha Stewart punch.  I folded each punched shape in half and then started gluing it together making sure everything lines up perfectly.  How many or how few you use is up to you, but it should end up in a nice round shape.  I than added silver glitter glue. 

The bottom of the cake has paper cream dollops which I fashioned with a circle punch and then patiently glued  together.  These have about 20 folded circles per dollop.  After glueing them in place I glitter-glued them as well.  The large half-circle shape around the bottom of the cage is a deep edger from EK Success. 

I made another wedding cake after sending this one off to Darlene, more tiers this time.  And I used scalloped circles and a different die from Die-versions but from the same set.

Next up in the video is the shower invitation.  Everything I saw in the stores was white and formal looking, so I decided to add a little fun to the whole thing. 

I made the card first and then the envelope to fit with the MS Scoring Board.  The card's border is a MS punch around the corner set, the ring set comes from a Cricut cardtridge (Sweethearts, I think), and the stamp I found on clearance at Michaels a while back.  Card and envelope are color coordinated.  To add a little interest to the envelope I first cut out the die on the flap part and then reinserted it after gluing the contrast flap color in place.  Simple to do...


I chose to be more formal for the wedding card itself.  The border punch is very similar to the one I used on the cake and is also from EK success, and I laid out the card so front and back would look the same.  Then I draped some sheer veil material over the card and adhered it along the inside of front and back flaps, made some ribbon roses, and added a simple tag using corner rounders with color coordinated stamped greeting.  I then used a darker piece  of purple cardstock and punched out the starburst pattern.  Finishing the inside hides the glue strip for the fabric and gives the card a professional feel.  

For the final die I decided to make a treat bag.  I don't have any dies to cut one out, so I winged it.  Cut a loooong strip the width of the bag and the entire length plus flap and scored it where I wanted the bag to fold.  Then I punched out the flowers with a MS Punch all over the page punch and glued light paper behind that to accentuate the punch's design.  Next, I cut two strips about 1" wide and 2/3 the height of the bag and glued those into place alongside the bag.  To get the bag to close easily I creased the upper half of the side strip.  I glued on the Die-Versions circle die and added a handmade flower and Velcro dots to open and close the bag.  Put in two little candies, done. 

I hope these explanations help.  If not, I will try to make up examples step by step and post them as well.  Right now I have to stuff a hungry Cardinal baby's beak again and go clean cages downstairs again in preparation of dinner for the wildlife soon.  And then it's already time to feed the baby squirrels again!

Monday, August 6, 2012

08-06-12 Butterfly and Crane Mobile.AVI

6 August 2012

Today is the anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb onto Hiroshima, and to honor that date I made two cards with Japanese images.  Both use Cheery Lynn dies, the oval lace and lace frame dies, and I hand folded the cranes and the fan in typical Origami fashion.  For the Oval lace frame card I chose some of the favorite colors in Japan:  pink and light blue, reminiscent of Cherry Blossom season.  Last but not least, I added a koi card.  This, however, is not my original design:  I used a rough design by Cheery Lynn because I liked it so much and embellished it.

A little over a week ago I got a pin prick bite from a baby skunk I highly suspected to have rabies.  Even without the miniscule but potentially deadly bite I would have submitted the animal for euthanasia and testing since rabies destroys the brain and causes a painful death.  The poor animal needed to be put out of its misery. 
This happened on a Friday night, and the following Monday I had to go to the local hospital for my rabies booster shots.  They give those at the Special Procedures department, and this is also the department where chemotherapy patients are treated. 
I felt so grateful that all I needed were two booster shots whereas there is so much more serious illness happening within these walls that I wanted to do something nice.  So I decided to try making a mobile with butterflies and cranes.  I've never made anything like this before but had a lot of fun making it even though it was a frustrating challenge at times.  The slightest alteration shifted the weight and threw the entire mobile off balance, and it took quite a bit if tweaking here and adjusting there to finallly get it to look the way it does now. 
The final challenge will be to bring it to the hospital without it all getting hopelessly tangled up  Wish me luck! 
As for the baby skunk, it DID test positive for rabies, so taking it out of the population was the right thing to do. 

The butterflies are mostly intricate lace dies made by Cheery Lynn, and I also used one large butterfly die from Memory Box.  I cut out the intricate pattern dies twice to add the design on both sides of the butterfly's angel wing (the solid contrast color in the center).  I wanted the butterflies to be pretty and colorful no matter from what angle. 

I have sooooo much to write about and soooooooo little time right now, so please be patient!  July turned out to be the month of the skunks, and I now have seven in my rehab room. I am also getting dowsed with one bird after another, and tonight arrived yet another little Cottontail bunny after I just released my other one a few days ago...  And on 22 July my first newborn red squirrel baby arrived, round two has already begun!  That means around-the-clock feedings and very little sleep... 

More soon, I promise!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy 4th of July!  I just finished this shadow box, which is entirely made with paper and some wooden sticks except for the little bit of moss on the ground. 

Summer is the busiest time for wildlife rehabilitators, so this little box will have to do for me.  Two starlings are already churring loudly again until I stuff their beaks, then they'll quiet down for about 20 minutes until the next feeding. 

  • A baby boy opossum, who arrived more dead than alive with a terrible chest cold five days ago, is finally on the mend. He was so weak that he could not stand up, he was just lying on his side.  Since he could not swallow due to shortness of breath without gagging, I had to give him tiny sips a little at a time to keep his stomach from shrinking too much.  Antibiotics finally helped heal his inflamed lungs, subcutaneous fluids kept him hydrated, and two nights ago he took his first bite of food.  I was elated! 

Then there are the two baby skunks, but I will write about them next time.  Too many beaks to stuff, too many animals to feed still, and those two little stinkers deserve their own story... 

I am standing by to go on a baby skunk hunt tonight.  Their mother had been trapped and "relocated" (i.e., killed) by some Pest Control guy who is now bound and determined to catch and kill the babies as well.  Their nest is underneath the shed of animal lovers who are trying to save them, and I told them to speak sternly with that guy and tell him that if he dares to trespass onto their property they will have him arrested.  I also suggested that they call police and have an officer get rid of that guy and tell police that a wildlife rehabilitator will take custody of the babies and raise them. 

More later.  I wish you all a happy and safe holiday!