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!