Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

This Easter arrangement started with a simple circle.  I used the new Martha Stewart Circle Punch, which I picked up at Michaels with a 50% off coupon, to punch out the circle design and then folded it into a triangle.  All the flowers are my own creations, the daffodils were made with Crepe paper.  I can't think of a better occasion to display dog wood blossoms, can you?

Happy Easter!


 The Squirrel and the Fox- Easter or Passover
One Stop Craft Challenge- Easter
4 Crafty Chicks- Easter 
Alphabet Challenge blog- D is for Daffodils 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

First true Carousel Pop-up card

It has only taken me about 50 or so hours to finally figure out how to make a true pop-up Carousel card.  I knew there was a way, I just couldn't figure out how to get the angles right.  Then, last night, a lightbulb went on and I saw it with my mind's eye.  Sat down and worked on it until it "fit."  At last, I got it right...

Creating this card has been another all-nighter, but I wanted to finish it.  It was quite finicky work, and it took quite a while to complete.  But, here it is, and what better subjects than my wildlife youngsters!

I hope you enjoy this little video.  Happy Easter, everybody!


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My most ambitious Carousel Card yet!

Hi everybody, and welcome, new followers!

I just have to show my latest creation, this time it is an all floral Carousel card.  This is the result of about 15 hours of work, and I am pretty proud of it.  

The problem with a carousel card is that you can't just implement a reverse pop-up technique because you also are working on a triangle, so when the card folds closed, everything shifts diagonally in additon to folding up.  That is probably why the cards that I've seen on YouTube thus far while pretty are fairly basic, with embellishments stuck to the sides and a greeting or something decorative stuck to half of the floor. 

I wanted to see how far I can take this, and this card is the answer as of this date.  I decided on an all floral card, and I hope you like this card as much as I do.  It's kind of a mini showcase for my flowers although, needless to say, I had to omit dimensional blossoms since they wouldn't allow for folding. 

My mind is already working out the next card's theme, but I will need to focus on making on or two Mother's Day cards with this design. 

I will offer this card for sale in my Etsy shop, haven't quite decided on a price just yet.  Maybe you could all help me out by letting me know if this is something you would buy . This particular card is a standout in that I will not tackle again such an involved card anytime soon.   In the meantime, I hope you've enjoyed the little video.  Soon I will have to divide my time between working on a new release, items for my Etsy shop, and of course spring babies.  Once the first ones arrive they will be my top priority. 

The story of the opossum baby and the squirrels

I've been trying all afternoon and evening to upload a video, first to the blog and then, when that didn't work, onto YouTube.  It's still not published, but I'm not giving up just yet.

In the meantime, I dug around and found this clip I took a few years ago when a single, still nearly hairless and pink, baby opossum boy arrived.

 I could not get him to stay sufficiently warm and comfortable with just a heating pad, so I decided to stick him in with a litter of 3 week-old baby squirrels.  It was his only chance at survival.  He snuggled right in with his new litter mates and from that point on he ate well and thrived.

When it was time to move the squirrels downstairs into my rehab room and into the cage you see in the video, i felt it was time to separate the little opossum from his a bit unorthodox nest mates.  But he started to run around in circles and cried out for his litter mates and would not stop crying.  He also would not eat.  I realized that he was too young to be alone and put him back with "his" squirrels.  He was elated and they seemed to like seeing him back as well.

A few weeks later, when the squirrels were 12 weeks old, I moved them outside into their pre-release cage, and at this point the opossum was also old enough to manage by himself.  This time he didn't cry non-stop when he found himself alone, and eventually he, too, was released back into the wild.

In nature squirrels and opossums usually do not meet unless an opossum climbs a tree and tries to get at a nest of newborns.  I doubt that by the time I released him he even remembered his litter mates.  He was a pretty little guy, though, and very sweet.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Easter Carousel Card

I'm having so much fun with this carousel card design that I wanted to make an Easter card for my son and daughter-in-law and my two grandsons.  Jenee wanted to see what else I make, so here it is.  Narration is probably terrible, it's 5am and my tongue doesn't want to work so well at this hour. 

I made a bunch of these little inlay eggs thinking people might like them on my Etsy shop, but it seems to take a while to be found by potential customers, so I keep my fingers crossed. 

The bunny is part of the small Cheery Lynn Easter basket, the flowers are from my handmade stash. 

I hope they will like this little card, what do you think? 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Memory Box Flower Bundle Release

Wow, two releases back to back!  I didn't expect this one to come out this weekend, it's been a while since I had made all these items.  Darlene did a wonderful video, thank you so very much, Darlene!  Here is the link to the video:  There are two videos in this release, the other one was done by Carol who did a fabulous job!

I will stay in sequence with the video, so here is the first card which features the honey blossoms and my sweet boy Tubby.  If you go back on my blog to March and April last year you will find his story, and every word is true.  I never add or embellish my wildlife rehabilitation stories, I don't need to.  The animals live and tell these stories, I merely write them down...

The honey blossoms die is very, very pretty and versatile.  Since I chose a white frame I wanted to keep the blossoms also in light pastels.  Wax paper makes for a very inexpensive yet pretty overlay and adds a whispiness to the blossoms that makes you almost smell their light scent.  Try it with dainty blossoms, but only glue it down in the center, I'm sure you'll like the effect.  -  I took these pictures at our little pond out back and had to look at the date:  this release was done last September, in case you're wondering about the plants around the cards...  Of course Darlene plans her releases around the seasons, which makes complete sense. 

Next is what Darlene thought looks like clover.  Hmm, I hadn't thought of that, now I wish I had!  But here I wanted to show what can be done with this die, which cuts out a negative.  Unlike Darlene I am not a huge fan of negative dies, but given the right treatment they really do add a lot.  Darlene got it right, I did cut around the negative to get the outline and on the yellow blossom in front I  ran the die through twice, once in the green and once in a light yellow, then again cut out the outline and pieced the yellow in. I like the effect on the finished card. 

The Prim Poppies were fun to work with.  But I like dimension, I think you know that by now about me, so I went searching in my craft area for the crepe paper rolls I had picked up at a dollar store.  I looped about 7 or 8 layers together and cut them out with the die, then trimmed just the blossom part and glued that onto the existing poppy blossom.  A few tiny drops of glue hold the layers in place.  I hand painted and stamped the background to create the meadow.  This card was very easy and fun to make. 
You can see the handmade envelope that went with the card.  I like to coordinate the envelopes, but most of the cards that I sell in my Etsy store come with a small squirrel stamped in the lower left front corner.  Of course, if someone doesn't want that, I'll make a plain envelope!
The cherry blossoms were fun to work with.  These are fairly large blossoms, which is why I chose to make the placque instead a regular size card.  When I make cards I make other, smaller blossoms, check my store and take a look, I have at least one card up that shows cherry blossoms.  These here from Cheery Lynn are very showy and dimensional, so special treatment was in order.  I sprayed the finished placque with a preservative so that the flowers won't wilt in humid weather.  -  Quite often less is more, in this case all I needed was a branch of cherry blossoms and a butterfly...
And then there was the surprise box...
I hail from Germany, so of course I know a little bit about Holland, or the Netherlands, as it is called here in the States.  So sending me tulips had me thinking of Holland, of course, and the endless seas of tulip beds in the spring.  The box kind of came about as I went along building this piece, and in case you're wondering what took the longest time to make:  it was the tulip bed to the right of the windmill.  Wish I'd had at least five of these dies to cut several blossoms at once, not one at a time... 

The windmill also "came about" as I played around with little sticks.  I ended up gluing the blades like ladders, and at the time I didn't have the great glue I use now which grabs hold rapidly and glues securely.  So this was a game of patience, but eventually I had the four blades.  The body of the windmill is cardboard overlaid with balsa wood chips you can buy in a baggie at Michaels.  I added color with distress ink to bring out the wood work a bit more. 
That Cheery Lynn Enchanted Forest border die is GORGEOUS!  Wish they'd change the picture of that die, because it does not do the die any favors.  I stayed away from it for a long time because of that awful picture, but someone convinced me it's a pretty die, and I'm so glad I believed it!  Very dainty and crisp, there are several dies in the set for different size cards.  I highly recommend that die, don't let that ugly picture deter you. 
The inner circle on the front cover is part of the Cheery Lynn border die on my first card, and both pieces cut out together but stay separate.  I just put a smaller piece of paper on the die to cut out only the center piece. 
I'm sure that Petra, our Dutch design team member, will get a kick out of my windmill. 
If you need numbers to the dies I used, please do not hesitate to contact me or Darlene.  It's late, and I wanted to get this blog up quickly. 
I hope you enjoyed this release and welcome any and all comments!!!  Thank you for watching and reading, and happy crafting!

My first Carousel card!

A few of us on the Dutchpapercraft design team have been chatting back and forth about carousel cards.  Marianne puts out a die, and Darlene has a few of those in stock.  I suppose they make construction of this card a LOT easier...  But I don't have the dies, so I decided to go about this the hard way. 

The picture shows the card when it is closed with the ribbon.  The video shows the card opened.  The ribbon keeps the sections from folding up. 

Since you can find instructions on how to build the basic card on YouTube I won't go into those here.  I started futzing around with the basic design last night, messed up one piece of the first attempt (the ribbon was on backwards), and then I was in for one heck of a decorating feat.  Needless to say, I couldn't leave it alone with simple thingies, mine needed to pop up.  So this has been quite a learning experience for me, but it's also been immense fun.  I'll start on an Easter card next... 

Please forgive the choppiness of the video, I took it with my cell phone.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Some fun stuff

This past Christmas was the first time that we did not put up a large live tree.  With two young cats in the house, I didn't dare chance it that they would knock the tree over and break the pretty ornaments we've collected over the years.  So a little artificial one in an urn, pre-lit, was the answer.  Especially when it was on sale for half price at Michaels... 

I so fell in love with this little tree that I didn't want to pack it away after the holidays.  Valentine's Day was coming, so I went to work and created decorations for the tree.  Here is a picure to give you an idea.  All were easily made from items already in the house.  The cones were a part of the tree, so those stay year round...

After Valentine's Day there was this gap until Easter, so I tried making rosettes.  I consider rosettes paper wheels that serve absolutely no purpose other than they're cute and fun to make.  Heck, they are fun to make, because I made a lot of them.  First for the tree, and then a box full for my husband's office.  It brought color during the dreariest part of the year.

So this is what the tree looks like right now.  I had better work on finishing my Easter decorations and change the tree once again!
Here are a few closeups of the rosettes.  I guess only the imagination limits what they can look like, huh?

The centers are made with punches which I folded in half and then glued the sides together until I had the shape I wanted. 

Wo says that papercrafting always has to have a real purpose?  Just have fun with it!

Friday, March 22, 2013

A different kind of shadow box

April is just around the corner, and every year, right around April 15, our weeping cherry tree explodes into a pink cloud made up of thousands of small pink flower clusters.  That's what gave me the idea to create this shadow box. 

But for me, another harbinger of spring are dandelions, much hated by fanciers of toxic groomed lawns, yet so very, very pretty if you take a closer look.  And since I rehabilitate wildlife I let the dandelions in our yard grow freely.  They are an excellent food source for cottontail bunnies and squirrels alike.  I pull out the entire root for the squirrels, they love to chew the root and munch on the sweet nectar of the blossoms. 

That is why I decided to add a grouping of dandelions to this piece.  They not only add color, they make the design pop.  And those small purple flowers with yellow stamen?  Yes, all hand made as well, during the long winter months. 

The tree's trunk is dimensional as well, and the branches reach out toward the glass in multiple layers.  There are 150 cherry blossoms on the branches, I counted them.  This box took close to 40 hours to make, but I believe the result was worth the effort. 

I welcome any and all feedback! 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Poppystamps Grand Gothic Windows Release

Darlene released my most recent design challenge tonight,
and it was a release I truly had fun working with.  Window dies are a great staple for every crafter to have, as you will see.  I will follow Darlene's video with the pictures here.

This is the Poppystamps Ornamental Iron die.  Having spent our honeymoon in New Orleans, I couldn't help but think about the wrought iron fences that are so Parisian there and that's how this card came about.  I call it "Spring in New Orleans".  The forsythia bush was created with hand-cut branches and my handmade forsythia flowers, the background paper is one I found at Michaels last year.  The fence piece is from Cheery Lynn.  This is a very easy card to make. 

Next up is an easel card .  Here I worked with the Grand Gothic Stained Glass window, and, needless to say, I had to make a stained glass window with this die.  I used transparencies, the kind used for projector slides, as the "glass" and painted the back side of the window with Plaid Stained Glass paint.  My only tip here is to let the different colors dry before going on to the next so nothing bleeds.  I then put aluminum foil behind the window which is why the colors are so nice and bright.  This is NOT a luminary, there is no light behind the window. 
Here is a side view of the card as it stands up.  I used the ivy die from a Marianne Creatables bird house release and made the lilac bush from scratch.  The grass in the front is cut by hand.   The stonework was done using a Spellbinders M-Bossiblities folder which I really like because it is nice and oversized, and I added some distress inks.  The stone outline of the window was done free hand.  You don't need dies for everything, a lot can be done with just scissors and markers. and ink...

For this card I used the Grand Gothic Arch window die.  Sure, I could have made another windows card, but I didn't want to.  I do rehabilitate wild birds because people keep dropping off nestlings that can't be put back in their nests or injured birds their cat brought home, but wild birds belong in the wild, which is why I chose not to use a picture of a migratory bird.  Didn't need to, since I hand raised our two lovebirds Cody and Tina.  This here is Cody, and he is completely hand tame. 

I cut the die from thick gold card stock I found at Michaels in large sheets in the art section.  The border punch is from Martha Stewart.  It is a half punch, but if you measure the width correctly you can punch out both sides and get this effect.  The flowers are from my extensive stash of handmade flowers. 

Again, this is a very easy to make card.  Think outside the box when using windows dies, and have fun with them!

The Grand Madison Window die needed special treatment.  Darlene had forwarded me a link to a Dutch lady's blog who had worked with windows dies as a sort of inspiration and/or challenge, but I refused to look at that blog until AFTER I had finished my own creations.  I never go looking what others do, I don't want to accidentally end up copying somebody else's work.  And it's a good thing that I didn't, because the Dutch lady and I couldn't have come up with more diverse creations.  She built the inside of a room with many cute dies, and I decided to create the outside of a home. 
This is a shadow box, but it is not very deep.  I needed additional room behind the window for the back wall and the lamp to create depth there.  Items used here are the window die, again a Spellbinders brick embossing folder, and the wall behind the lamp inside the house is a Cuttlebug embossing folder.  The rest is all hand made with scissors and glue...  The lamp's foot is a toothpick wrapped in card stock, the lamp shade is paper which I shaped into a slight curve and held in place with foam glue dots.  The curtains are pleated and then I punched holes in the top pleats and threaded string through them and hung them up behind the window.  The grass in the front is cut by hand.
As for the flowers, I use punches from PunchBunch and assemble the blossoms painstakingly by hand.  Pansies are made from seven pieces for just one blossom, each of which is punched out separately and then shaped, glued together, and the center shaded for a more realistic effect.  Same with the daffodils which are mostly cut out by hand except the pedals which are a punch.  The trumpet part is hand cut and the stamens are glued in with tweezers and the aid of a toothpick.  I spent the winter making flowers, and while I recently had carpal tunnel surgery on both hands, one after the other, as well as Ulnar nerve surgery on my right elbow, I was back at making flowers as soon as the anesthesia had worn off to keep my fingers moving. 
And last but not least, here is the luminary.  I am super proud of this creation.  I have never made anything like this, had no idea how to go about it, but when I saw that Grand Gothic Luminary window die I knew that I would have to make something like a lantern or a luminary with it.  I had worked with the Cheery Lynn Japanese lace die before and made a series of Koi pond cards with it (please check my Etsy shop for those) and couldn't think of a better die to use for this project.  The Grand Gothic Window frame was essential for this project since the lace die makes for a wobbly wall and I needed something to stabilize the individual window panels. 

Now as to the construction.  Wish I could give you a blueprint, but there isn't one.  I made the whole thing up as I went.  First I built four identical panels with the painted luminary windows for which I used frosty white Plaid stained glass medium on the lower half and yellow on the top.  Then, using chipboard strips, I reinforced the tops and bottoms of the panes and folded chipboard strips to create the corners to which I glued the panels.  Now I had a solid square.  For the roof, I asked my husband if there is a math formula to create such a roof, and he said he's sure there is but has no idea where to find that.  So I decided to wing that, too.  I measured the sides and added extra for the seams that would get glued together on the inside, then cut four identical triangles from chipboard.  To my surprise, the roof fit the first time.  I had to add some additional strips on the inside for gluing the finished roof to the lower part of the luminary, but that didn't matter.  As for the roofing tiles, well, we tiled our ranch's roof about 15 years ago ourselves and I was up there with roofing nails hanging from my mouth, so I knew the basics of tiling a roof.  I decided to cut the tiles by hand:  I cut equal strips of cardboard and used a wide corner rounder to round the tiles.  Each piece is maybe 1" long.  It took me two days to tile the entire roof, because there are a LOT of tiles on that little luminary. 

I probably had the most fun building that luminary, though, simply because it was such a challenge yet relatively simple to make.  The Cheery Lynn Japanese lace die is not the easiest die to use, it takes a little patience and lots of poking out the little holes, but you see how stunning the result is. 

A friend of mine claims I must be OCD to be doing such futzy stuff.  No, I'm not.  I just enjoy creating with paper and card stock and love doing my own thing. 

I hope you enjoyed this release and got inspired by the diversity of window dies. 

Happy crafting!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

...and still more new designs!

Before my spring wildlife rehabilitation season gets under way I am busily building my greeting card collection for my Etsy shop.  I have spent the winter making a wide variety of flowers, some of which I am showcasing on my cards.  Of course I tend to run out quickly, so I just spent four nights making pansies.  There are seven pieces to assemble just one blossom, and each leaf needs to be shaped and the finished blossom hand shaded for the final touch.  A friend claims I must be OCD because I am able to stick with such repetitive work, but I don't agree with her.  I can do it because I see the finished piece, and it takes a lot of pansies to make a card shine. 

Anyway, here are the latest additions to my spring collection.  All are available for sale in my Etsy shop. 

Here I used a Cheery Lynn Easter basket and embellished it by hand stitching it with yarn for a more dimensional effect.  The background is a Memory Box fresh foliage die, the pansies are assembled from individual leaves in an assortment of colors, and yes, each one has been punched out by hand as well.  The daffodils are very dimensional and round out the freshness of these harbingers of spring. 

Here I used the Memory Box grapevine wreath and decorated it with hand shaped leaves and cherry blossoms.  The Blue jay fledgling was a little orphan who here sits quite contentedly after he has just been fed.  Look closely, he still has food stuck to the corners of his beak. 

Soon I will be inundated with baby squirrels and my freedom will be over until late fall.  I hope to have a few more weeks of quiet so my freshly operated hands can heal and the fresh scars won't be so sensitive to the babies' needle-like claws.  Craft pictures will make room for baby wildlife pictures, and I will try to keep up my blog as time permits. 

If you have trees on your property that have suffered damage during the winter and you are considering having it taken down, please choose a contractor who respects wildlife and is willing to wait until a mother squirrel has raised her babies.  All too many simply cut down a tree without even looking, still others toss entire nests with live babies into the chipper, a horrible massacre.  Thankfully I know a tree cutter who refuses to take down a tree if it has a nest, he will explain his position to the property owner and offer to come back later on when the babies are grown.  Most people understand and are only too willing to wait as long as the tree does not pose a danger. 

My hope is that we all learn to live in harmony with the wildlife that has had to learn to live all around us.  It is not the wildlife intruding on us, it is we who intrude on wildlife and rob them of their space and home ranges. 

If you need to remove a tree, please plant a new one that is native to your region.  Support your local wildlife by planting fruit bearing shrubs and trees that support wildlife.  That way you will add to a healthier environment for both wildlife and humans alike.  Thank you.

Happy almost spring, everybody!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

More new cards!

I have been busy despite my sore paws and a recent infection.  Creating pretty things is a great antidote when scary stuff happens.

I have also reopened my Etsy Shop at last!  Been wanting to do that for quite some time, but it is sooo time consuming to upload and describe every item in detail.  It is a work in progress, so stop by often!  You find me under the shop's name  "SigisCreations".

One card has already been tagged by somebody as a favorite, so I'll show it first.  It is a floral spring card featuring a stitched basket filled with pansies, my own handmade flowers.  Pansies don't look like much by themselves, yet one blossom consists of 8 pieces which all have to be cut out, shaped, assembled, and hand colored for a more realistic effect.  This is delicate work requiring the use of tweezers, and it takes a while to make just one little flower head, never mind an entire dozen to fill the basket...

Then I had just received a new Memory Box die called Grape wreath which I knew I'd use over and over again since I can embellish it any way I want.  So for starters I added leaves and my very own apple blossoms.  The result is a very dimensional floral spring card.  Let me know what you think, will you?

For additional cards, please see my Etsy shop.  Feedback is always welcome, and I hope you've enjoyed this short post.  Spring is in the air, despite our 8 foot high snow walls which are melting during the day and icing up at night.  I can't wait for the subtle yet intoxicating scent of apple blossoms!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

2013 fresh new Spring and Easter card designs

Hi everybody!

The surgeon said I need time to recuperate from three surgeries in four weeks, both hands (carpal tunnel) and the right elbow (Ulnar nerve). But she wants me to use my fingers, so I have been crafting almost as soon as the anesthesia wore off.

Here are the cards I've been working on. There are not many to go around, simply because the designs are so involved.

Wildlife rehabilitation season will start soon, but right now a third snow and rain storm is about to bear down on us that will last about two days. February 2013 was a snowy month for us here in the Northeast with two major weekend storms and one that thankfully fizzled out before it could bury us with still more snow.

As much as I am sick and tired of seeing white and not being able to help with the shoveling, it also keeps people out of their back yards and away from thoughtlessly cutting down the trees where squirrel mommas are giving birth right about now. I hope my season won't start any time soon, I am not ready to take in tiny babies. My hands need more healing time.

But off to the cards. I hope you like what I've come up with. I welcome your feedback, please don't be shy!  All come with sturdy, handmade envelopes that have a small image of a squirrel stamped in the lower left corner. 

This is my first Easter card, a bright and cheery design.  I have only a small handful to go around since the eggs are inlay work and it takes hours to make six eggs for just one card.  The basket is a die cut with contrasting background, the daffodils are handmade by me.  A very dimensional card, it is much brighter in person than the camera can pick up.  I price this card at $10 since it takes about 4 hours to make just one card...

Here is another take on my Easter card, this time with cut-out images of two Cottontail bunnies that arrived as tiny little babies last year.  They are sitting in a hand woven basket.  This is the only card I made right now.  Price is only $9.50.


The above five cards, while essentially the same design, still differ from one another.  I have five pictures to choose from right now, a black duckling,  a baby skunk, a Blue Jay fledgling, a litter of gray squirrel babies, and a gray squirrel youngster.  These cards can be used for Easter or as a wonderful Spring greeting, and they all feature my own handmade flowers.  While also very high end cards, I am offering these on my blog right now for only $8.50 per card.  This special price will not last forever, the cards are worth a lot more than that.  Any wildlife I depict on my creations has been an animal that was in my care, and proceeds of sales go towards offsetting the ridiculously high cost of raising wildlife.  Last year I took in a record 97 animals, and the low average cost to raise just one animal is between $60-70, with a high donation average of $14 received.  That means that a few people left more, while many others left nothing or promised that they would send something and then didn't. 

So each time you buy one of my cards or shadow boxes you help me remain afloat to help wildlife for another year.  And you get a unique, high end item in return, something that would cost at least twice as much in the big cities.  Except that you can't get it there, you can get it only from me... 

And here is my final card, a baby red squirrel sleeping in a hand woven basket in a soft bed of grass.  The image is cut out, the background is embossed, and the card is very dimensional.  Right now I only made two of these.  Again, the price is only $8.50.

I hope for your feedback as to which cards you like the most!  I plan to reopen my Etsy shop soon, but you'll get a better price on my blog...