Thursday, May 28, 2015

a little magical fun...

Hello my wonderful friends!

It's time for another Unity hop!
(and sale!)

I was recently asked to make a bunch of 'thank you' cards for an organization to send out to their volunteers.... This meant I needed to make simple cards (so I could get them done) yet fabulous enough to show the volunteers just how much their time means!  It also meant I needed masculine cards... I really struggle with those!

Enter the new Texture Feelings stamps from Unity... 

especially this star one... Be still my heart!

The lighting made it a little tricky to get a good photo of this... However I used gold foil on the star texture stamp... then sprayed it with spray ink... the foil works as a fabulous resist, leaving bright shiny stars on a mottled blue background!

This is another one of the designs that I'm making... This uses Lindy's Stamp Gang Magicals... The super fun thing about this technique is that fabulous multi colored speckle effect...

If you follow Unity on Facebook (which you totally should by clicking HERE), you may have noticed the new feature we've added...

Quick tip videos... technique videos sharing some of our favorite techniques and ideas in under a minute! Super fun!

I've been helping with that. YAY!

So, instead of a photo step out tutorial today, I'm sharing one of the quick videos that I've made...


How it works... Magical are a highly pigment powder that is designed to be added to water or other wet mediums, mixed, then painted/sprayed/whatever... Each powder contains little granules of different colors that when wet and stirred together give you the 'true' color on the jar... when you skip the mixing, you see the individual colors that make up the powder!

I love the look of this.... And it's SO easy! Just stamp your image with Distress Ink, dust on some Perfect Pearls, then spritz with water!   For best wicking of the color (the color smearing with water) use watercolor paper... If you want the image to smear less when water is added, use regular card stock.

Don't forget---
 Leave a comment on EACH blog in the hop (including the Unity blog) for your chance to win.  The winners will be announced Monday on the Unity blog.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

polka dot balloons...

Hello my wonderful friends!

It's time for another Unity hop!
(and sale!)

(Whooo's Having a Birthday, Dots for Sure)

This ADORABLE owl is one of the FREE stamps you can get with your purchase this weekend! Isn't he SO sweet? LOVE.

Speaking of animals...

I was recently listening in as a friend of mine told a little kid a story...
 One day, some explorers went into the cave.  They went all the way to the back of the cave, and it was VERY dark. They couldn't see anything! Then they hear a deep, heavy breathing.... Then some grunts... then a ROAR! And a huge bear chased the explorers away... (this, of course, was complete with tickles as the explorers ran away)

Well, an hour or so later, I went to close up the chicken coop for the night... I walked out into the yard, far away from the house lights... Even with my flashlight, it was dark... As I'm moving farther away from the house, I start hearing some heavy breathing... Then some grunts...

So, I'm usually not jumpy when I walk in the yard alone at night, but I'll be honest, that made me nervous. I kept thinking about that story with the bear... then, when I talked sense into myself (After all, it really isn't likely to have a bear in the area) I started thinking it was a cougar.. I KNOW they are in the area.... 

I'm happy to say, I survived.
 (I guess I should also admit that it was most likely only a deer I heard...)

I think should just stay in my art studio after dark... You know, just to be safe. LOL!

(Spread Your Wings, Thanks Above and Beyond)

 I'm SERIOUSLY loving the script/polka dot background stamp in this months KOTM! Isn't it AMAZING? I love how if you stamp it off on the edge, it feathers itself in, and looks FANTASTIC. Super easy way to get a single layer card look like it has more layers!

(Who we Have Matters)

I've decided I'm kinda, really LOVING the new Abandoned Coral Distress Ink... I wasn't so sure about it when I saw it online, but once I had it in my hand.... Yup. GORGEOUS!  For this card, I kept things simple.. I used Distress Markers to ink up the stamp, than a water brush to pull some of the color from the outside edges into the a super simple and beautiful watercolor effect.

I love watercolor... So many awesome things you can do with just water and pigment!

So, for today's tutorial, I thought I would share a fun little trick for getting patterns with watercolors... See that cute balloon the owl is holding in the first card I shared? It's just a plain old balloon... But I wanted something a little funner....

Step 1: Color the part of the image you want the pattern in with Distress Markers, or any water colors. Nice open images work fabulously for this! (this also works if you apply the ink in a nice thick layer with a blending foam... Like I did for the pink strips)

Step 2: Spritz a background stamp with water... you don't want it dripping, just damp.
(I highly suggest cleaning the stamp before doing this... any residual ink on the stamp could transfer to your project...And yes, that wisdom comes from experience. LOL!)

Step 3: Press watered background stamp onto your colored image and give it a second or two... this lets the water react with the ink...
*TIP: If you have already colored other parts of the image, be sure to mask them off with something that won't allow water through... acetate is perfect for that.

Step 4: Remove the stamp and press the image with a paper towel... This will remove the extra moisture, and lift up the wet ink.... this leaves behind a fabulous ghosted pattern! (You can change the look of the pattern by adding more or less water to your stamp... the more water, the less crisp the results...

(You can see I had a little too much water on the upper part of the image making some of the dots blur together... Personally, I kinda like the distressed, non perfect look!)

That's all for me today! Have a FABULOUS weekend, take some time to be crafty, and simply enjoy yourself!

Don't forget---
 Leave a comment on EACH blog in the hop (including the Unity blog) for your chance to win.  The winners will be announced Monday on the Unity blog.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

happy birthday to me... and UNTIY!

Hello my wonderful friends!

It's time for another Unity hop!
(and sale!)
This one is kinda, super awesome cuz we're having a party (again!!!)  Which is actually kinda super awesome because my birthday was this week!

I feel like I have been gone FOREVER! This month has been the month of computer problems. One night, out of the blue, my computer freezes. Then it crashes, big time. URGGG!!!

So my fabulously AMAZING dad spent days working on it. (he's my go to tech guy since he programs for a living..) Then, after salvaging what he could, he got it reformatted and going again...but it was problem after problem.... 

Let's just say, I am SUPER glad to be back up and running and spending time with you guys instead of wanting to hit my head against a wall... repeatedly!

So, I have a confession to make...
I've been seeing so many talented people using FOIL in their designs lately. I've seen rolls of BEAUTIFUL colored foil in the stores. I've wanted to try it... but I was intimidated. 

I didn't want to have to buy ANOTHER machine...either a machine specific for foiling, or even a cheap hot laminator. I don't have room for another machine in my studio. I don't have a bunch of money to spend on a new machine... especially if I just want to get my feet wet with a technique to see if I like it. 

So I've always walked away from those pretty sparkling sheets of pure magic. 

Until now. 

I saw someone else (Jennifer McGuire, actually) show how to use embossing powder with the foil, and it got me thinking... Which got me experimenting... Which led to me happily being able to foil without buying a new machine. YAY!

(I will warn you though... While I haven't run into ANY problems foiling something thats been printed on a laser printer, using embossing powder like I'm going to show you is a little less  predictable.  Sometimes it comes out PERFECT, sometimes, not so much. You have to play around a little to get the feel for your iron and how much time is the perfectly right amount.)

Step 1: For the cleanest results, use an anti static powder. Simply rub it across your paper... This will prevent loose embossing powder from sticking where it doesn't belong.

Step 2: Stamp your image with embossing ink. I use VersaMark, but any embossing ink will work.
(the stamp is Strong and Beautiful)

Step 3: Using whatever embossing powder you choose, emboss your image. I used clear just because I didn't want it to show if the foil missed any spots. 

Step 4: Cut a piece of foil large enough to cover your image. Here I'm using Tonertex Foil (simply because I found a really old sample pack in my stash, and so it was easiest to experiment with... however there's multiple brands out there now)

Step 5: Here's where it takes some experimenting.... Instead of a laminating machine for heat, I use my iron. I found that turning the heat about half way was good. You need to keep the heat/pressure on the image long enough to remelt the embossing powder, but not so long that the powder soaks into the card stock. I like to put a sheet of parchment paper over the foil to help protect my iron, but I don't know if that is necessary or not. 

Step 6: This is another important thing I learned. If you remove the foil too soon after heating, it won't work, it will just pull off the still fluid embossing powder. Let it cool. Let the embossing powder harden. THEN carefully pull off the foil. 

TIP: You can also use adhesive sheets with foil... The foiled mat was made by cutting a piece of double sided adhesive to the size desired, then applying the foil to one side. Works beautifully! 

So, if you have been slightly intimidated to dabble in foiling because you don't want to invest in another machine, consider pulling out your iron!

Don't forget---
 Leave a comment on EACH blog in the hop (including the Unity blog) for your chance to win.  The winners will be announced Monday on the Unity blog.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

be yourself poppies...

Hello my wonderful friends!

It's time for another Unity hop!
(and sale!)

Somehow, despite everything, time passes. I find myself marveling that we are nearing the end of March already. Some days it feels like time has stopped, but most days seem to slip past without me knowing. How does that happen?

The past year or so has been filled with a lot of discovery, growth, and change. Some of it has been liberating and joyful. Some of it has been painful and hard. Lately, I have been feeling like I have totally lost myself, like I have no idea who I really am....

I guess you could say, I'm a work in progress. I'm still growing. I'm still finding my place.

And that's ok.

Flowers may not look like much at first either, but when they finally open up, they are beautiful, just they way they are.

I know, I should have taken pictures while doing this, but my friend came over to my studio, and I was distracted, and didn't get my camera out. SORRY! I'll try to explain what did, and hopefully it will make some sense. (I promise, nothing too complex here.)

I started this canvas with a couple colors of spray inks. I then sealed the color in with a layer of mod podge. (this allows the blue to stay in the background instead of reactivating and mixing with all future layers.)

For the poppies... I stamped one of the big poppies and one of the little poppies on a piece of paper. I then used my PicScan mat and Silhouette to scan them in and create both stencils and masks SUPER quick. I made sure to cut the stencils and masks out of acetate so they can be used over and over.
(here's a video made by Camille from the Unity DT on PicScan basics.)

*note: when she is cutting out her stamped and colored images, she traces then uses the 'off set' feature to create a slight border... for my stencils and masks, I chose not to do that.*

After I had my stencils all cut out, I sponged gesso through them onto the canvas. Because of the layer of mod podge, the gesso stayed white... otherwise it would have turned a light blue as the inks underneath react to the moisture...

At this point, it looked like I had a bunch of clouds in a blue sky. LOL!

Once the gesso was dry, I stamped the Vintage Handwritten  background stamp through the stencil using Archival ink. Once that was dry, I sponged on just a touch more gesso to lighten the script.

I then went back and stamped the Donna Poppies outline stamps over the gessoed "clouds" using acrylic paint. It was super fun to see the clouds turn into fantastic flowers!

One  complaint I have heard about rubber stamps is that you can't line them up because you can't see through them. Well, for this, I didn't really care. It gives it a very artsy look to have it slightly offset.

I hand painted the stems in, then added a wash of pinkish coral watercolor over the poppies.

Finally, I stamped the sentiment "be yourself" with acrylic paint. This time, I did want to make sure everything was lined up perfectly and STRAIGHT, so I used a stamp positioner.

Nice and simple...

Next time, I'll remember to take pics. :)

Tip: One of the challenges of stamping on a wrapped canvas is that you have a 'gap' in the back. The wood frame lends support to the outer edges, but stamping on the center leads to problems because there is nothing supporting the center. To fix this, place a piece of wood (or, I stacked about 4-5 flat canvases) underneath the center. Make sure it is the same height as the frame so when you flip it over to stamp, you have a flat solid surface all the way across.

You will notice that my inserted canvases don't quite fill the whole back.... that's ok, I just had to make sure to move them to whatever area I was stamping in.

alright... that's all I've got for you today...

Have a wonderful day, a fantastic weekend, and ENJOY the hop!

Don't forget---
 Leave a comment on EACH blog in the hop (including the Unity blog) for your chance to win.  The winners will be announced Monday on the Unity blog.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

OWH and Unity...

Hello my wonderful friends!

It's time for another Unity hop!
(and sale!)

We are super happy to be supporting Operation Write Home with a BRAND NEW stamp kit.... Ragged Ol' Flag!

Isn't this kit AWESOME?!?!
And so is this organization that helps keep our Armed Forces and their families in touch with a touch of handmade love! Make sure to check them out!

Of course I HAD to get the rubber all inky this week! I've had so much fun! (more a little later on the fun technique I used here!)

So I JUST got my NEW(remade) island table for my studio!!!! EKKKKKS! Totally excited! It's BIG, and it's GORGEOUS... It does, however, mean things in the studio have been a bit chaotic... Rearranging... reorganizing.... going slightly crazy.... Yeah. Good stuff!

(sorry, no picts yet... I'm writing this super late at night... gotta wait for some sunlight... and a little more organization.)

In the midst of the chaos, I still had work to do... like say, a birthday card for my SWEET little sis!

I LOVE this swirl stamp from January's LOL kit 'Time to be Happy Again'! I think this may be one of my FAVORITE LOL kits to date.... however, that changes frequently cuz Unity keeps putting out AWESOME new ones! 

(you can check out and become a member of the Layers of Life club HERE!)

I also wanted to make a 'thank you' for my DEAR mother who has been doing all the hard work transforming my old studio furniture into FANTABULOUS new things! She has skills that I don't! I l
ove her so much! (and she has to put up with all my OCD freak outs....) She is AMAZING!

The fabulous rose is from the SOTW 'Here's to New Beginnings'. Love this one! "Merci" is from 'Heartfelt Sentiments'. A perfect kit to add just the right sentiment.
(and thank's to Pinterest, the starburst background was a cinch! Here's the link!)

If you want to get a new stamp in your mailbox EACH WEEK, click HERE to sign up.

 Ok.. so remember my first card? Well, here's the scoop...

Step 1: use a felt blending pad on an ink blending tool to apply Alcohol Ink to a piece of acetate. (the darker the color, the more dramatic the end result.) I applied the ink with a pouncing motion... that is what gives it the mottled look... if you want a more solid look, you can swipe the blending tool across the acetate instead

Step 2: Stamp your background image with Ranger's ARCHIVAL INK. 
I used the quote from the new Ragged Ol' Flag kit.

Step 3: Let the ink sit for a little bit, but not long enough for the ink to dry... then wipe it off with a paper towel. This not only removes the black ink, it takes off the Alcohol ink leaving a ghost image. It isn't super crisp, but it is awesome for a little bit of extra texture!

Step 4: Stamp your main image, again with Archival Ink (because it is formulated to dry on non porous surfaces)... this time, let it dry for a permanent image. 

ALRIGHTY... need to go break in that table!

Don't forget---
 Leave a comment on EACH blog in the hop (including the Unity blog) for your chance to win.  The winner will be announced Monday on the Unity blog.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

so many friends...

Hello my wonderful friends!

It's time for another Unity hop!
(and sale!)

Unity is almost to 60K friends on Facebook, and we are celebrating with new designs and free stamps! Yay!

Speaking of celebrating... 

I needed a birthday card for my brother in law... I don't know why, but masculine cards are just kinda tricky for me. Especially if I don't want to use puns or sports. This card was an amazingly simple solution to my problem, and can easily be altered to fit ANY occasion!....

 I've had this awesome blue and purple Gelli print laying around for a while now (but any patterned or even plain card stock would work)... I added some quick strips of patterns using black Archival Ink (since I was stamping on top of acrylic paint) and some Unity stamps.. I love the contrast! The silver is a foil tape. I cut strips, and also ran it through my die cut machine... Worked like a charm. While making it harder to photograph, the foil gave it the perfect amount of spark without making it girly. I'm really loving the foil trend!

"Some people strengthen others just by being the kind of people they are. -John M. Garner"

This adorable little girl is not mine. I have been babysitting her on Sundays during church for a while now. I love her sweet smile and loving, accepting nature. She has been a healing balm for me. She truly has strengthened me, just by sharing her sweet spirit with me.  I am going to miss her now that she is old enough to go to her own class. 

The LO was inspired by our challenge... you can still play along! Obviously I didn't stick perfectly to the sketch... but it was my starting point. I love that about sketches. Everyone's take is unique! 

I adore this lace stamp from Magic of Beginnings! A little heat embossing for texture, then layered with real lace, Angelina Fibers and some bling... Love.

Ok, so if you've been following the hop, you have probably seen this new kit....

This one uses a BRAND NEW kit that is FREE with ever $60 order placed this weekend! Isn't is SUPER adorable?

I love that little bird!

I also love background stamps... and combining stamps to make something fabulously new! This is not only a fun and easy way to stretch your stamps, it is also a quick and easy way to add color and texture to an image... without the need for any coloring skills! 

Step 1: Stamp your image onto a scrap piece of paper. Then carefully cut out the part you want "colored". Because we are essentially making a custom stencil, you want to make sure  you cut JUST barely on the OUTSIDE of the line. This will ensure you won't have the white "halo" around the entire inside of the image. *tip: you can save your stencil to use over and over... I just slip mine in with the stamp kit so it's handy for next time.

*Note: when you are making a MASK you do just the opposite. Cut just INSIDE the line to avoid the dreaded halo*

Step 2: Stamp your image on your project, then tape your stencil over top. (if you have uncovered edges sticking out from under your stencil like I did, you may want to stick a scrap paper over them just to protect them.... for my texture stamp it didn't matter because it is a small background stamp.)

Step 3: ink up your background/texture stamp, and press firmly through your stencil. I have found it works much better if you DON'T mount your stamp for this, and just use your fingers to really press the stamp through.

I used the distressed dots from the Love in Return kit for this... it worked out PERFECTLY. I used the same stamp around the edges of the card to make it all match... Try it out with any of your texture or background stamps... or even other images or sentiments... The possibilities are endless! 

That's it for me today...

Don't forget---
 Leave a comment on EACH blog in the hop (including the Unity blog) for your chance to win.  The winners will be announced Monday on the Unity blog.