Sunday, 30 September 2012

Loving Craft Artist

When I bought Craft Artist Professional (CAP to us addicts) last year I wasn't entirely sure how I'd use it - but it just seemed to do so much that I knew I needed it.

And how right was I!  CAP has become such a useful bit of software that when Craft Artist Professional 2 was launched I bought it immediately.  It has a few new features and some nice enhancements to the old favourites.

The software (either version) is easy to use - but it does have a learning curve and if you are new to it I really recommend checking out some of the video tutorials on DaisyTrail and just playing around.  The beauty of playing with an online tool of course is that you can 'undo' to your hearts content and you don't waste your favourite papers and embellishments on learning.

One of my favourite tools in CAP (and CAP2) is the cut out studio - which allows you to cut part of an image away from its background.  The three projects here all started with a photo that I thought needed to be 'transplanted' and the cut out studio made that possible!

Freddy the Wonder Dog

First I tackled a card for my niece Sarah - starring her amazing dog Freddy.  The source picture was taken last Christmas, you can just see Dylann hiding behind Freddy the wonder dog while we were playing cards (Rummoli in this case - a Christmas family favourite).

I cut away the background in CAP, added a paw in front of the cards (basically just cut and paste of his other paw), added in some beer cans, and moved the 'Mortgage Money' jar in a little closer.

I print out the new version, added a few Spellbinder circles, an embossed bit of craft card and a 'Beware of Dog' sentiment and voila - a card!

Inside the card it says 'He's gambling away your savings.'

Lean on Me

This second project started with an old photo of my parents from the 1970's that has always made me smile.    

I cut them out of the photo, and placed them in the middle of a field of flowers (created using the brush feature).  I added a title and a bit of journalling to finish the page.

One of the things I love about CAP is that you can create the layout in the software, and save it to print or email as a flat picture, OR print and cut the individual elements to make a more dimensional physical page.

In this case I've done both!

The digital page will be part of a digital scrapbook I'm making, but I also print out the elements to make this layered page.

The background page was print from CAP and then I added the cut out of my parents.  I print a few pages of the flower field which I cut across randomly to create 4 layers of flowers to provide a bit of depth.  I love this shadow box.   It is a really nice way to display pages with the added benefit that they can be switched out really easily.

Bon Voyage

This final card was made for my friends Shirl and Gav who this morning have flown off for a fabulous well deserved mid-life 'gap year'.

The photo was taken a few days ago as a 'before' image (thus the exaggerated glum faces), and we expect a sunny smiley tanned duo in the 'after' picture!

I used CAP to cut them out of the original photo and then placed them on to a cartoon London setting.

I cut out a zillion Union Jack bunting triangles and hung them across the top of the page and added a 'Bon Voyage' sentiment.

Inside the card I added a faded blue Union Jack, and the happy couple again - this time with fake moustache and crown.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Wire - I love it!

This summer a lovely new shop opened here in Greenwich called Papillon and it takes all my restraint not to visit every day and buy pretty much everything.
It's a gorgeous collection of quilting fabrics, felt, yarns, roving, buttons (oh the buttons!), ribbon (even more amazing than the buttons), lace (see ribbons comment), wire, wood, threads, books and more I'm sure that I'm forgetting....

On my first visit (about 10 minutes after it opened on the first day) I bought a lovely fabric stack and some wire.  I didn't really know what I was going to do with the wire - but the book (which I also bought) had some lovely ideas.

I started with a simple project -  making these cute fabric and wire flowers.  The most difficult bit was figuring out how I was going to make them stand up on their own.  I made and painted the little boxes out of card - but they were too light and the flowers kept toppling over.  How could I weight the boxes?  I pondered and pondered and finally the penny dropped.  Pennies!!  I glued 3 pennies together, stuck them in the bottom of the boxes and heh presto - standing flowers!

My second wire project was a bit more elaborate - but I really loved the result.

I made the wire heart shape and then added the beads, buttons and ribbons to decorate.  The wings were made using white linen (an old shirt in fact) that I randomly stamped on to with a large Tim Holtz stamp from a set called (coincidentally) Papillon.

Because I think everything is better with words I stamped a sentiment onto torn plain card, inked it up a bit and then covered  it with clear embossing powder.   I attached the tag to the heart with an antique coloured screw brad.  

'She only flew when no one could see' is my favourite sentiment stamp at the moment.As I said to Gen and her sisters - I have no idea what it is supposed to mean but somehow it speaks to me.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Flowers two ways

Hels Sheridan runs weekly challenges on her blog and this week I decided to get involved.  The theme is Stamped Flowers and it immediately made me think of the very first stamp set I bought - a beautiful set of floral stamps from Anna Griffin.

I don't generally think of myself as a flowery person - but I think I might be wrong!  I LOVE Anna's designs (which are mostly florals) and since buying the stamps I've become a bit of an Anna Griffin addict buying pretty much any of her stamps or paper packs.

I've used a few of the stamps over the past year but decided that for this challenge I would use all of them.  On one card.

Then when I started stamping I changed my mind every 2 minutes about whether to colour the flowers, or leave them as black outlines.  Decisive to the end - I did both!

The black and white flowers were stamped, cut out and then layered onto a plain 6x6 card that I stamped 'In a Garden of Friends, Happiness Grows.'  I matted that onto black card, and then framed it with the silver mica flakes (I LOVE mica flakes), matted it onto more black card and then attached it to the front of an 8x8 card.

The coloured flowers were stamped, coloured with Pro-markers (my colouring skills are non-existent, luckily these stamps are so detailed they don't need much., and then cut out and layered onto a plain 6x6 card outlined with purple and stamped with the same sentiment.

Because it seemed to need more flowers(!) I did some more stamping, colouring and cutting to make the frame.

I really like both, and change my mind about every 2 minutes about which one is my favourite!

Friday, 7 September 2012

25 Years...

My sister Kim and her husband Jeff, and my brother Barry and his wife Joanne celebrated their 25th wedding anniversaries this  year.  25 years - that is something to celebrate.

We had a little party when we were all together in August and I wanted to make them something special to commemorate the occasion.

I had really enjoyed making the frame at Leonie's workshop and decided to start with that.  I ordered two of the cardboard frames and did the base decoration using pretty much the same method we'd used at the workshop.  To personalise the background I used Craft Artist to print recent photos of the happy couples on the patterned paper I was using.  I tore the paper, pasted it all together, did some random stamping and painting, and finished it off by stamping their names in the corner.

For each frame I cut out a picture of the happy bride and groom on the day and made it glossy with triple thick embossing powder.  I put a small box behind the picture before attaching it so that it would be raised about 1/4 inch from the back of the frame.

Then I started planning how I would finish decorating the whole thing....

Well, I say 'planning' but really it was about two weeks of trying different ideas and layouts and embellishments before I finally settled on the final configurations.  I don't know how other people do these things but I tend to try a layout, and then ponder it a bit.  Then I move things a little, take some stuff off, put other stuff on....and then ponder a bit more.  I then repeat this a lot.

My original idea was to have a tag with '25 years' on it, and the key hanging off of it.  And I thought that the bottle would end up sitting in the recess of the frame.

But after trying a few variations the tag just wasn't working for me - and my best friend pointed out that a picture of the kids was  essential. (She also tried to convince me to add a dog biscuit to Barry and Joanne's but I just ignored her on that one!)

So I found photos of the girls, cut them out in Craft Artist and put them on neutral backgrounds.  I put the pictures into Memory Keepers frames. I didn't like the original shiny coppery colour so I added some pewter gleam to tone it down a bit.

The keys are Tim Holtz embellishments - and I love them.  They are lovely, heavy proper keys.  One says 'Heart' and the other 'Memory' - unfortunately that's a bit tricky to see in these photos.

The bottle sitting in the centre with the wedding picture was all wrong and so I needed a new way to incorporate it - because I had become really really attached to the idea of including the wedding date as a message in the bottle.  But how????

While thinking that through I decided the frame needed a bit of colour to finish it off - and after a bit of faffing around I ended up creating the fabric heart and buttons on the wire.

Of course the string of buttons needed some sort of anchor and it suddenly seemed obvious that the bottle should be held on the frame with the wire.

I went through about a thousand different lace strips, in a thousand different placements.  With bows, without bows... I tried them all before settling on this simple cream lace.

And I lost count of the number of times I put the corners on and took them before FINALLY deciding I liked them and gluing them down.

I wrapped them in plain tissue paper tied up with a bright purple ribbon and I'm pleased to say they were really well received on the day.


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Cricut Flowers

This summer Gen and I had a lot of fun playing with a couple of new Cricut cartridges -- Flower Shoppe and Giant Flowers.

It started when I was inspired by a card Mel Heaton had on her blog.  I liked it so much I recreated it pretty much as it was - just different papers and sentiment.

And that began the obsession.  Gen and I started with Flower Shoppe.  We chose a few pieces of paper that we thought would work well together and then using the Cricut Craft Room added random flower shapes to cut.

We inked and embossed the shapes and then started layering them - and pretty soon we had this.  

We added sentiments and backgrounds to make a few cards.

I particularly like this birthday card Gen did for her friend Harriet.

Gen took some of the flowers home for her room and the others sit ready for any card/flower emergency.  A couple were used over the summer for birthday cards that I forgot to photograph!

Using Giant Flowers we made these -errrrr  - giant flowers!! The rose (which is the smallest) is about 15 inches wide.

We cut all the pieces using plain white paper and then inked, sprayed and misted to give them some colour before assembling.

You can of course make smaller versions of these but we decided to 'go big' for our first outing.  The flowers  have decorated my bookcase and really brightened up this grey rainy English summer.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

More Birthday Cards

..still catching up on this year's crafty activities....

I think I've confessed here before - but I'll say again -  I am so rubbish at birthdays that most years I fail to get out one real card and don't even always manage e-cards. This year I've been determined to do better.  I've been hampered by the fact that I don't actually know when everyone's birthday is (more shame) but I've done a few.  (I have to admit I also missed a few - but I'm hoping to improve on that next year!)

It's an odd coincidence that my older brothers and sister all married partners who were born in the same month - within about 7 days - as theirs and that's helped enormously with the summer birthdays.  Particularly as I decided that 'combo' cards were ok.

So in June I made this card for my brother Al and his with Kathy.  I started with a photo of them take a couple of years ago on the beach at a family reunion.  The original photo is lovely (gorgeous rocks and water in the background), but I wanted to make a more cartoon-y card so I used Craft Artist to cut them out and place them in front of a green patterned paper.  

The rest of the card is pretty straightforward, some Spellbinders for cutting the photo, Cuttlebug to emboss the background and birthday hats cut and glittered by hand.

The pennants were made using Anna Griffin stamps, stamped onto patterned paper, cut and strung together.

I so liked the result that I used the same approach for my sister Kim and her husband's Jeff card.  In fact the photo I used was taken on the same day as Al and Kathy's.

The background was a number of pieces of Core-dinations card (left over from Gen's mini book!) that I pasted onto a piece of paper before embossing and sanding the lot.  Birthday hats were cut using the Cricut this time (Celebrations).

The recipients liked them  - and didn't seem to mind too much that I'd bundled the greetings!