Sunday, 3 December 2017

Winter Trees and Flowers

It's time for the final challenge of 2017 at Stamping Sensations, and our theme for December is

* * * * * WINTER TREES AND FLOWERS * * * * *

Last month's theme of one layer cards seemed to be a little too challenging for some of you, but this month we hope you will find it easier, and you can layer and embellish as much as you like!

However, please do remember that we are a stamping challenge, therefore we must see stamping as the focal point of your artwork - ie. stamping must be the central point of attention and interest.

We have a fab prize from Stix2 for our winner, with a smaller prize for second place.

I chose a winter trees stamp from Circa Design (Unmounted Stamp Company) for my main image.

The pheasants, fox and kestrel are by Hobby Art, and the sentiment is a freebie from Simply Cards & Papercraft magazine.

I used a punched circle to mask where I wanted the sun to be, and also masked the top and bottom of the card, and everywhere below the line of the hill before colouring the sky with Memento ink using ink dusters. I then reverse masked the sun and coloured that too. I removed the hill and sun masks, stamped the tree scene and added some shading to give the effect of snow. I had to extend the trunk of the tree covering the right hand side of the sun, with a fine black pen, otherwise it would have appeared suspended in mid air!  Finally I removed all other masks and stamped the fox, kestrel and sentiment. The pheasants were stamped on a separate piece of card, coloured with Zig Clean Color pens, cut out (minus a few extra lines which I didn't want to show in the picture) and glued in place.

As always, if you're not quite sure how to interpret the theme, or just need some ideas, pop over to the Challenge Blog, where my teamies have created some wonderful samples to inspire you.

The run up to Christmas is always busy (and I still have several more cards to make!) but I do hope you will be able to find time to join in the challenge. It needn't take long, or be complicated, and the closing date is not until until the 3rd of January. A bit of quiet card making time between Christmas and New Year will be the perfect antidote to all the stress of the big day!

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Northern Lights

The current mid-month challenge for our DT at Stamping Sensations is to try something new. This month it is my turn to step outside my comfort zone!

Living in the north of the UK gives us the chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis, if conditions are favourable, and since we moved up here a few years ago I have been lucky enough to see them just once, back in October 2015. Not a good photo but at least I saw it.

I follow the Aurorawatch UK website, which sends out alerts when there is the possibility of aurora. Alerts range from green (no geomagnetic activity) through yellow and amber to red (aurora likely). Last week there was a red alert (which doesn't happen very often), meaning that there was a very good chance of seeing it if the skies were clear! Unfortunately not from here, though, as it was too misty.

However, it reminded me that I have been meaning for ages to have a go at the Northern Lights technique, so that is my something new for this month.

I had a look at a few tutorials, and learned that there is more than one method of producing the effect, using various colours of card for the background. The one I decided to follow was by Emma from Inkylicious. I won't go into all the details of the technique because you can check out Emma's excellent video here.  If you want to have a go, Inkylicious have put together a fantastic Aurora Borealis card kit with everything needed to make Northern Lights cards. Emma's method uses black card. Mindful of our one layer theme this month, I worked directly on to the base card (after quite a few practice attempts!). 

Having produced my aurora, I created the scene using landscape stencils which I made myself (though the Inkylicious kit includes a mountain/valley stencil), and white pigment ink for the stamping (all stamps by Inkylicious). I used a stamping platform to stamp the main elements so that I could go over each one a couple of times to get a good dense white and make sure they stood out against the background. I added highlights with a white gel pen and some shading to the hills with a white pencil.

I didn't get the sweep of the aurora quite how I wanted them, and I think less would have been better (got a bit carried away!), but I'm reasonably happy with the final result as a first effort. It was a fun (not to mention messy!) technique to try, and I'll certainly be having another go!

There's still plenty of time to join in this month's Challenge, where our theme for November is One Layer Christmas Cards. Full details and entry rules, along with plenty of inspiration from the DT, are on the challenge post, which you will find here. It's definitely worth entering, as we have some wonderful prizes, but please do remember to check out the rules to ensure that your project is eligible. We look forward to seeing your creations!

Sunday, 5 November 2017

And panic is beginning to set in.......!

Well, there are about seven weeks to go until Christmas, and I have made the grand total of TWO Christmas cards! Don't know where the time has gone this year, but I can now understand why retired people say they wonder how they ever had time to go to work! I seem to be busier than ever, not that I'm complaining! Much better than having nothing to do!

Anyway, one of the cards I have managed to produce so far is for our November Challenge at Stamping Sensations, where our theme is

* * * * *  ONE LAYER CHRISTMAS * * * * *

We would like to see Christmas designs which are one layer only, ie. stamped directly on the base card, with no matting or layering and no die cuts or embellishments. Also, may I remind you that we are a stamping challenge, so we must see a stamped image, sentiment or quote as the focal element of your artwork. This means that stamping must be the central point of attention and interest.

For our main winner, we have a fabulous prize, this super storage collection by Tattered Lace!

I made my robin card with Hobby Art stamps. The robin, branch and leaves are from the gorgeous new "Robins" Set, which has been designed by the wonderfully talented Janie Burnett-Bleach. The little background scene uses stamps from various Hobby Art Scene-it sets.

NB. The black edge around my photo is not part of the card! It is definitely one layer, I promise! I tend to photograph my cards against a dark surface so that they stand out better and the background of the photo doesn't detract from the card.

To build up the picture I used no less than 18 masks! The robin was stamped and masked first, followed by the branch, then the background scene and finally the leaves, with each mask left in place until the final leaf was stamped. Then the nerve-wracking bit - removing all the masks to reveal the finished picture. That's when you find out if it has worked or not!

Fortunately, I think it did! A fiddly technique (lots of cutting out of masks!) but worth it. I completed the design by adding some shading with pencils around the various elements to define them, and giving the berries highlights with a white gel pen.

If you've never tried one layer cards  before, don't be afraid to have a go. They can be as simple or as complicated as you wish! Masking does not have to be involved! A clean and simple design would work equally well. You could add some subtle colouring or go for a monochrome effect.

My teamies have risen magnificently to the challenge, and you can see their beautiful results on the Challenge Blog. I look forward to seeing yours!

Sunday, 1 October 2017

The Glory of Autumn

In my previous post, I mentioned that whilst I don't look forward to the shorter days and cold of winter, I do like to see the glorious autumn colours. So I'm very happy that our October theme at Stamping Sensations is

 * * * * *AUTUMN GLORY * * * * *

We'd like to see your interpretation of Autumn. I'm thinking reds, greens, oranges, yellows, browns, leaves, trees, acorns, conkers, autumn flowers, berries, toadstools .......   well, that's what Autumn says to me. What does it say to you?

Please do remember that as we are a stamping challenge, the focal element of your project must be stamped (rubber/clear or hand coloured digital image) if you want to be in with a chance of winning a prize or top 3 place. Our sponsor this month is Stamp Addicts, who are giving a fabulous £25 voucher to spend in their shop or on their website.

I had been having a play with some Distress Oxide inks on watercolour paper, and by accident rather than by design, found that I had a pattern that made me think of a lake scene and morning mists, such as we often get on our local loch at this time of year. I decided to use it as the base for my autumn card.

A few stamps from Inkylicious (including the sentiment) brought the scene to life, and I matted it with some papers in autumn colours which have been in my stash for years! Think I have been subconsciously saving them because the colours are so rich and, well, autumny!

I felt the card needed a bit of embellishment, but I didn't want to detract too much from the lake scene. My recently acquired leaf dies from Concord & 9th fitted the bill perfectly. Considering I had no fixed idea in mind at the start of my project, I was quite pleased with how the card turned out. Something a bit different.

And that's what I'm hoping to see in this month's entries - something different, outside the box thinking, serendipity even! Just so long as they show the beauty and glory of this spectacular season. My teamies have have come up with some simply stunning samples, over on the Challenge Blog. Don't miss them!

I've been looking forward to this for ages, and really hope to see lots of entries on what I'm sure will be a popular theme. Good luck everyone!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Inspiring colours

September already, the nights are fast drawing in and there is a definite autumnal feel in the air up here in rural SW Scotland. Whilst I love to see the autumn colours, I'm not looking forward to the return of the cold and the dark nights of winter, especially after the washout summer we've had. However, it's time for a new challenge at Stamping Sensations, so I am hoping for lots of lovely entries to brighten things up! This month our theme is

* * * * * PHOTO  INSPIRATION * * * * *

You may take your inspiration from the gorgeous colours in the photo, or go floral with the beautiful iris, but as always, your main image/focal point must be stamped if you want your entry to be considered for our prizes or top 3. And we have some lovely prizes for our winners this month, a first prize of stamp sets from Hero Arts, and a second one of lovely ribbons and gems. See the Challenge Blog for full details.

For my card, I've used a stunning Echinacea stamp by Imagination Crafts, sentiment dies by Brittania Dies, Prima flowers, and ribbon and backing papers from my stash.

For even more inspiration, do hop over to the Challenge Blog, where my teamies have some superb samples for your delight. We hope you enjoy our September challenge!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

August at Stamping Sensations Challenge

Hi everyone, we have another easy theme for you this month at Stamping Sensations! For August it's a case of

* * * * * ANYTHING GOES * * * * *

Just a little reminder, however. Although the theme can be anything you like, your entry must still adhere to our challenge rules, which you can read here. We are a stamping challenge, so stamping (using either conventional rubber/polymer stamps or hand coloured digital images) must be the focal (ie. main element) of your project. 

For my card, I decided to go with something old (the large butterfly, by Prickley Pear, small butterflies in background, by Crafty Individuals, and sentiment by The Craft's Meow), something new (Distress Oxide inks) and something new but old (the flourish frame by Bee Crafty) which I've had for quite a while but never used before!

I coloured the background first with the Oxide inks, and then overstamped the butterflies with the same inks. Stamped the frame on top with Versafine ink and cut out the middle. Stamped the sentiment on a separate piece of card and glued it behind the aperture. Stamped and diecut the large butterfly and attached it with a line of glue (used a Be Creative Wonder Glue pen) down the body only, so that the wings could be raised up for display, but would lie flat for posting. Finally matted it with a black border on to a 6" x 6" white card.

We have a brand new sponsor this month - Swedish House Crafts! This is a relatively new company run by the lovely Suha, and she has some fabulous designs! Check them out, along with the rest of her stock, in her online shop on the above link. She has very generously donated not just one but three prizes for our lucky winners! A £25 voucher top prize and two £10 vouchers for the runners up!

As you might expect, given that Anything Goes this month, our DT samples are delightfully diverse, and really showcase my teamies' varied talents! Do go and have a look at them on the Challenge Blog, and it would mean a lot to them if you were able to visit their individual blogs too.

I hope you can join us this month, and thanks for looking!

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Flowers all the way!

I have a feeling our July theme at Stamping Sensations is going to be very popular. It's certainly one of my favourite topics, and I have more stamps on this subject than any other, more even than my beloved butterflies! I can't imagine there is anyone who wouldn't like

* * * * * ANYTHING WITH FLOWERS * * * * *

So we want to see projects filled with floral delights. However, please do remember that we are a stamping challenge, so a hand stamped (or hand coloured digi) image depicting flowers must be the focal point of your project. A tiny punched flower in one corner will not do! And you will not want to miss out on the chance of winning one of our prizes this month. Prizes?? Yes, that's right, we have not one but two!

Our lovely sponsors for July are Crafty Individuals, who have given us a fabulous £35 voucher for our first winner to spend in their online shop. Our second winner will receive a mystery prize!

It so happens that Crafty Individuals produce some of my favourite flower stamps, one of which I've used for my card.

I made the background with Distress Oxide inks and overstamped it with text and butterfly stamps. Then stamped the main image and coloured it with Distress Oxides. The sentiment was stamped on a spare piece of the background paper and matted with co-ordinating colours. I shaped the corners of the sentiment with an X-cut punch. All stamps by Crafty Individuals.

I am so looking forward to seeing lots of floral entries this month! I doubt anyone will be short of inspiration, but even so, do go over to the Challenge Blog and take a look at the wonderful projects which our design team have to show you. They're blooming marvellous! Good luck everyone!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Poppies & Daisies

Couldn't resist the beautiful new set from Hobby Art: Floral Mix, designed by Janie Burnett-Bleach.

To make this card, I first stamped the flowers with Versafine ink (in Smokey Gray as I didn't want harsh black outlines), masking as necessary, and then, with all masks still in place, coloured the background by sponging with pigment inks. Next the leaves were stamped, after which I removed the masks. The flowers and leaves were coloured with watercolour pencils, and the bee and dragonflies were stamped and coloured. Finally, I added some shading around the images and some glitter glue to the insects' wings. All stamps by Hobby Art.

Our garden is full of poppies just now, so I didn't have far to look for inspiration when making my card. The poppy flowers only last a day; by evening all the petals will have fallen off, but next morning there will be as many if not more new flowers. Gorgeous!

They will be flowering for several weeks, hopefully, but then they will be gone until another year, so I think I will keep this card as a reminder of their beauty.

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Decisions, decisions!

Wow, we had some fabulous entries last month at Stamping Sensations! With all those stunning butterflies and fairies, I was in heaven! But this month it's not just about my favourites, but about everyone's, because the theme for our June Challenge is to

* * * * * USE YOUR FAVOURITE STAMP * * * * *

Favourite stamp?? How could I possibly choose one favourite?! There are so many that I like and use frequently.

I wonder whether you will have the same difficulty in choosing a favourite stamp as I did! I am really interested to see people's selections, but please do remember that our Challenge Rules require that  your project must use a stamp (which can be rubber, clear, or hand coloured digi) and the stamp must be the focal point (main element) of your project, if you want it to be eligible for the prize or top 3. You will certainly not want to miss out on the chance to be our winner, as from this month we will be giving not just one but two prizes! For full details of this month's prizes, see the Challenge Blog

Since my favourite topic is butterflies, my favourite stamp would have to be one of those, and and very possibly it would be one by our lovely sponsor for this month, the fabulous Visible Image. So I've used the butterflies from their Own Kind Of Beautiful set for my card. The sentiment is from their "Live In The Moment" set, which includes some beautiful dragonflies.

I also used my favourite inks of the moment, Distress Oxides, in my favourite colours, for the background and all the stamping, which I think shows the versatility of these amazing inks. The three main butterflies were cut out by hand and affixed with sticky pads.

My fab teamies have come up with a very eclectic selection of gorgeous designs for you this month (just goes to show we all have different tastes!), so do go over and take a look at them on the Challenge Blog. I'm hoping to see lots of creative entries for what I think should be a really interesting challenge. Hope you enjoy it too!

Sunday, 7 May 2017

My favourite themes!

I'm loving the Stamping Sensations May Challenge, as our theme combines three of my favourites! Of course, it's


So much scope for beautiful designs and colours. It's the perfect opportunity to ink up all those butterflies, fairies, and other magical images, the choice is up to you. However, we do need to see something stamped and associated with the theme as the focal point (ie. the main image) on your artwork: a small punched or die cut butterfly will not suffice. We don't have many challenge rules (check them out here), but there are a few things we insist on to make it fair for everyone, so please do make sure your project qualifies if you want to be considered for our prize or top three.

And it is a superb prize this month! The stunning Mariposa Butterfly Collection of dies by Couture Creations.

Couldn't resist making two samples this time. My first is a card.

All stamps by Lavinia Stamps. (The tiny birds were hand drawn,) I think this fairy is my all time favourite fairy stamp! The background was made with Distress Oxide inks. They were great for this theme as I found I could get lovely misty, ethereal effects with them.

The idea for my second project came when I saw some logs that my DH was chopping for the fire. One had a sloping face, which I then sanded smooth, stamped on to (stamps by Inkylicious), and coloured with Distress Oxide inks. Once it was all dry, I polished it with wax polish to seal and protect it, covered the base with a piece of self adhesive baize, and I now have a handy paperweight!

Needless to say, I can't wait to see this month's entries! And my teamies have come up with some stunning samples to inspire you, so check them out on the Challenge Blog and then see what you can come up with. Good luck everyone!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Stamping Sensations April Challenge

First Sunday of the month, so time for a new challenge at Stamping Sensations, and we have a very easy one for you this month as our theme is

* * * * * ANYTHING GOES * * * * *

The choice of subject is entirely up to you, but of course, as we are a stamping challenge, the main element of your design must be hand stamped (or a hand coloured digital image). Please do check that your project fits our rules (see them here), otherwise it will not be eligible for the prize or top 3 and may not be commented on, in fairness to others who do follow the rules.

Our wonderful April sponsor is PDA, who have given us a fabulous £40 voucher for the winner to spend in their store!

I managed to get my hands on some of the new Distress Oxide ink pads last week, and I've used some of them for the background of my card. Think they are going to be my new favourite inks! I'm only just beginning to explore all their possibilities but I'm loving them already!

I stamped over the background with Lavinia stamps (flower border, pods and butterflies), a text by Inkylicious and a sentiment by Visible Image.

Good luck everyone, I'm looking forward to seeing lots of lovely creations!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Oliver Owl

Oliver Owl flew into my craft room recently. He's the stunning new stamp from Hobby Art. Isn't he gorgeous?!

I've put him on an A5 card, so you can tell how large and imposing he is (a good 6" from the top of his head to the tip of his tail). The detail in his feathers is amazing. I coloured him, the ivy leaves and the fence with watercolour pencils.The background is sponged with pigment inks. All stamps on my card are by Hobby Art.

Oliver brought with him his equally fabulous friend, who lives on a Nature Reserve, also by Hobby Art. I'll be inking him (or possibly her!) up soon!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Close To Nature

For our March Challenge at Stamping Sensations we're staying with the natural world, but whereas last month's topic belonged to the animal kingdom, this month we're opening it up to anything nature related, with the theme

* * * * * CLOSE TO NATURE * * * * *

As usual, you may interpret this however you wish, as long as the main element of your design is hand stamped (or a hand coloured digital image) and reflects the theme. Please do check that your project fits our rules, otherwise it will not be eligible for the prize or top 3 and may not be commented on, in fairness to others who do follow the rules.

You certainly would not want to miss out on the chance of winning this month's prize, as it is a stunner!

Quite some time ago I bought the Kingfisher set by Hobby Art, and for some inexplicable reason, as it's the most gorgeous set, I hadn't got round to using it. However, it was perfect for our nature theme, and here's the card I've made with it.

I also used stamps from other Hobby Art sets to build up a scene around the main kingfisher image. I coloured the background with watercolour pencils, and the main elements with Zig Clean Color markers to make them stand out. I matted the picture with some Lawn Fawn paper, the colours of which complemented the kingfisher beautifully. All stamps by Hobby Art.

My lovely teamies have created a wonderfully diverse set of superb samples, which you can see over on the Stamping Sensations Challenge blog. Nature themes are my favourites (you probably guessed!) and I'm anticipating lots of entries for this one, especially with such a fabulous prize on offer! Can't wait to see them all!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Mid-month Inspiration at Stamping Sensations

The DT's current mid-month theme at Stamping Sensations is "My go-to stamp", and I have to admit that my heart sank a little when I saw it! For me, trying to pick a go-to stamp is like attempting to choose a favourite piece of music - there are so many I like and all so different. How do I narrow it down to one above all? Well, if I have to decide, I guess it must come down to trees or butterflies. And as this month's challenge theme is Animal Magic, I've gone with a butterfly. It's by Hero Arts and I have it in three versions: the original rubber, clear (in a set), and a rubber cling which is part of a Sizzix Framelits set. Oh, and a digi version! Sadly I think they are all now discontinued, but some occasionally pop up on eB*y.

The original one is one of my oldest stamps, but I still use it a lot, often as an embellishment to something else. This time, however, I decided to let it take centre stage, which, since it is so pretty, it certainly deserves to do. And it's wonderful to colour.

I made a background by dusting with Memento inks and overstamping the butterfly in two colours. Then stamped the butterfly again on white card, coloured it with Zig Clean Color pens and cut it out and matted it with Spellbinder dies. Sentiment by Stampingallday. Here's a closer look.

There's still time to enter our Animal Magic challenge, with a fabulous prize from sponsors Tattered Lace. Thanks for looking!

Sunday, 5 February 2017

February Challenge at Stamping Sensations, and a strange phenomenon

Since Christmas, my mojo seems to have disappeared. I reckon it's taken itself off to warmer, sunnier climes, given the cold, grey, wet and dreary weather we've been having here lately, and I can't say I blame it. However, I need it back, but how to attract it? One look at the state of my craft room was enough to suggest the answer!

A mega clear out was long overdue. The task was so daunting, I'd kept putting it off but I knew that a good tidy up would go a long way towards making me feel like crafting again. One of the main problems was not being able to find anything I needed without having to shift piles of stuff out of the way first. I store all my unmounted stamps in A5 ringbinders, and when I first set up my craft room, five years ago, they all fitted into a small bookcase. Not any more! As my collection grew, the extra binders had to be crammed into odd spaces here and there on other shelves, which was really annoying.

Then, a few weeks ago, my daughter announced that she had a large, tall bookcase that had become surplus to her requirements, and would I like it? Would I??! Of course, that meant I had to bite the bullet and start the grand clear out! To cut a long story short, what once looked like this

now looks like this!

So much tidier and more efficient, don't you think? Anyway, the clear out is just about finished, (as well as the stamp shelves I have two walls of built-in floor to ceiling shelves and drawers to store everything else) and I now know where everything is again.

But - and here's the strange thing - although I have removed a considerable amount of rubbish and stuff I didn't want to keep, and have gained more storage space with the new bookcase, there doesn't seem to be any more room on the other shelves than there was before! If anyone has an explanation for this odd phenomenon, I'd be very interested to hear it!

Fortunately I managed to clear enough space on my desk in time to make my sample for this month's challenge at Stamping Sensations, where our theme for February is

* * * * * ANIMAL MAGIC * * * * *

As usual, you may interpret this however you wish, as long as the main element of your design is hand stamped (or a hand coloured digital image) and reflects the theme. Please do check that your project fits our rules, otherwise it will not be eligible for the prize or top 3, and may not be commented on, in fairness to others who do follow the rules. And you will not want to miss out on this month's fabulous prize, kindly donated by our lovely sponsors Tattered Lace.

For my card I have used some of the latest new Lavinia Stamps, which are absolutely gorgeous. The range includes badgers, foxes, squirrel and snail, all perfect for our challenge theme, as well as some beautiful fairies.

All stamps on my card are by Lavinia Stamps. I stamped and masked the moon before creating a background with an Inkylicious mountain and valley stencil and pigment inks. The badger, fairy, flowers, foliage and distant trees were then stamped over the top, and a bit of sparkle added with some glitter glue to finish.

I'm entering this card in the Lavinia Stamps Creative Challenge for February, where the theme is "The Full Moon".

There's some stunning Animal Magic by my lovely teamies over on the Challenge Blog, so do go and take a look, and they would be delighted if you had time to visit their individual blogs too. I think this will be a popular theme, and am looking forward to seeing your entries.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Coffee and Cream

Happy New Year, everyone, I hope 2017 will be good to you all! As New Year's Day is a Sunday, we're straight in with our first challenge of the year at Stamping Sensations, where our January theme is

* * * * * COFFEE AND CREAM * * * * *

As usual, you may interpret the theme however you wish, but please do remember that we are a stamping challenge, so the main element of your design must be either hand stamped or hand coloured digi and should reflect the theme. Sadly, projects which don't fit the theme or our rules will not be eligible for the prize or top 3, and may not be commented on, in fairness to all those who do follow the rules. If you're not sure what they are, you can find them here.

Here's the prize for this month's lucky winner!

And here's my sample.

I was aiming for a vintage feel, which I think works well with this lovely image by Crafty Individuals. The background paper is from the same Dovecraft pack as the paper I used in my November sample. Although the pack is Christmas themed, many of the designs are suitable for other occasions too, and the one I've used here seemed to go perfectly with the theme. A piece of self adhesive lace. some pearls from Be Creative, and a sentiment by Inkylicious, cut out with a Spellbinders die, completed the card. I thought the sentiment was quite appropriate for the New Year.

My lovely teamies have some really beautiful samples to show you over on the Challenge Blog, so do pop over and have a look at them. I'm just off to put the kettle on. Still got a drop of cream left over from Christmas, so I shall have a final seasonal indulgence and put it in my coffee. Back on the diet tomorrow!
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