Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Starry Night Card

Now that Christmas has come and gone and I no longer feel compelled to devote all of my free time to making gifts, I can finally tackle some of the projects on my "to do" list. One of those projects is encaustic art.

 I recently bought some wax and an encaustic iron from Amazon along with the Encaustic Studio book by Daniella Woolf.  As someone new to encaustic art, I found this book to be very useful.  Not only does Ms. Woolf explain the basics (tools and materials) but she also explains mixed media techniques like image transfers, collage, stenciling and masking and then concludes the book with a section of step by step projects. I like the fact that she explains each section of the book on DVD (included with the book) to illustrate the techniques that she is using.  So far it's been too cold to work on any encaustic projects. Working with encaustic materials requires good ventilation- an open window and a fan.

A few months ago, I bought a Versa tool at Michaels with a 50% off coupon.  Everyone from Scrapbookers to Mixed Media Artists is raving about this tool. It has an adjustable temperature dial and can be used on a variety of materials (everything from paper to wood).  I used the hot knife tip to cut stencils, the iron tip  to smooth plain bees wax over a stamped image and the round disk for image transfer. The tool really is versatile and works as stated by the manufacturer. There are a couple of things that I didn't like about the tool. The stand is flimsy and moves across the work surface when the tool is resting on it, making it unstable and causing the hot tool to fall. This is a safety issue because the Versa tool gets very hot and could potentially cause second degree burns if it touches the skin. I did not like the placement of the temperature control on the cord. It was awkward when trying to use the tool for precision work like cutting stencils because the control kept getting in the way. The iron shaped tip is good for small projects like melting a small amount of bees wax directly on paper but is tool small for a larger scale project. For larger projects you may want to invest in a craft or encaustic iron.

Paper template and cut stencil.

The stencil in the picture above was cut with the Versa tool hot knife out of plastic stencil blanks. The template for the stencil was cut at 6 inches (out of card stock) on the Cricut Expression using the Ornamental Iron cartridge and Gate 10c.  The template was taped right side up under a piece of glass (from an old discarded picture frame) and the stencil plastic was taped on top of the glass over the template (using blue painters' tape).  When cutting stencils I found the tool easier to work with when tracing the image if I approached it like tracing a drawing. Try to keep movements slow and fluid. If the tool sits in one place too long it will melt holes in the plastic and give rough edges. Cutting stencils produces a lot of fumes so work near an open window and use a fan to vent fumes to the outside.

Next I tried using the Versa tool for image transfers. I really like the final results but it took a long time to transfer the image.  I started with the manufacturer's suggested temperature setting for image transfer but found that the setting got too hot and had to lower the temperature. When doing an image transfer you need to start with a toner based print and print a mirror image of the picture or the picture transfer will not have the same orientation as the original. If you look closely at Starry Night you will see that the image is reversed ( I intentionally chose this effect ).  To transfer an image with the Versa tool tape a piece of card stock to a piece of glass and lay the toner based image face down on the card stock. Continually run the Versa tool over the image until the print has been transferred to the card stock. After the paper was heated, I could feel the ink releasing from the paper. For safety, I layered a Mod Podge heat resistant silicone mat under the glass (this held the glass  in place without shifting while I cut the stencil) and taped the stand for the Versa Tool securely to a ceramic tile.

 Craft Tips:
  • Save the pieces of card stock that are left on the Cricut mat after removing the die cut.  These make great embellishments.
  • Save the foam piece that remains after all of the foam dots have been removed. This can be used just like the dots and can be cut to fit odd shaped pieces or used as is to attach an image to a card. I used the left over piece to attach the blue mat to the front of the Starry Night card.

Versa tool with stand taped to a ceramic tile for safety.

Starry Night and transferred print. Note the image reversal.
Finished card. The swirls on the blue background are cut outs from the stencil template.

Directions for Starry Night Card:

Cream, white, blue dotted,  black and a scrap of olive green card stock
Starry Night toner based print, Starry Night print was from the Van Gogh Gallery on line.
Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist- Dazzling Diamonds
Ranger Stickles- diamond dust
Martha Stewart Leaf Paper Punch
Tan sheer ribbon
Foam dots
3 Left over pieces from Gate 10c- these are the left over pieces on the mat once the die cut is removed.
Small self adhesive crystals
Glue gun
Petaloo Flora Doodles-dark blue small beaded Peonies
Piece of glass- mine was salvaged from an 8 1/2 x 11 inch picture frame that had been thrown away.
Versa Tool
Small Ceramic tile
Painter's tape
Mod Podge silicon mat to protect the work surface

1.  Fold the cream card stock in half horizontally.

2.  Print Starry Night on a piece of multipurpose paper using a laser printer. I used an HP printer and chose the 3x5 picture option.  Cut the excess white paper from the image, leaving a small border so the image can be taped to the card stock.  Take into account that your image will be reversed when transferred to the card stock.  To prevent this print a mirror image of the design.

3.  Place the Mod Podge silicon mat on your work surface to keep the glass from slipping during the transfer process.  Tape a piece of card stock slightly larger than the print on the glass.  Place the print face down, centering it on the card stock and tape the edges so the print doesn't shift during the transfer process.

4.  Attach the round disk tip to the Versa tool, heat the tool to the transfer setting.  Once the tool has heated to the set temperature, begin burnishing the image with a circular motion. This takes a while. Periodically lift the edges of the paper to see if the image has transferred.  Keep burnishing the area until all the surface ink has transferred to the card stock. Slowly peel the paper away from the transferred area and continue working. I worked from the bottom to the top, peeling the paper away as I went along.

5.  Let the print cool. Cut it to 3 1/4 x 4 inches, leaving only the transferred image.  Spray the image with Glimmer Mist Diamond Dust and let it dry.

6.  Cut a piece of black card stock 1/8 inch larger (on all sides) than the print. Glue the print to the black card stock.  Cut a piece of blue dotted card stock 1/4 inch larger (on all sides) than the black matted print. Use foam dots to attach the print to the blue card stock.  Cut another piece of black card stock 1/4 larger than the blue dotted card stock. Use foam dots to attach the blue matted print to the black card stock.

7.  Cut a piece of blue dotted card stock approximately 5 1/4 inches high by 7 1/4 inches long and glue to the card leaving approximately 1/2 inch on each side and 1/4 on the top and bottom.  Cut a piece of tan sheer ribbon 1/2 inch longer than the width of the card, tucking 1/4 inch under the sides of the card and glue in place, centering it over the blue dotted card stock. Tie a small bow from the ribbon and glue to the right side of the card over the ribbon.

8.  Center the matted print on the front of the card, using foam dots to attach the print to the card.  Glue 3 of the cut outs left over from the stencil to the upper left, and lower and upper right edges of the blue card stock.

9.  Punch 3 leaves (using the leaf paper punch) from the scrap of olive green card stock.  Glue the blue Peony to the lower left edge of the card and glue the leaves under the petals.

10.  Attach a medium crystal to each corner of the blue dotted mat and then attach small crystals randomly around the sky.  Lightly apply the Stickles diamond dust to the swirled cut outs and randomly around the sky (follow the motions of the painting).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hello Kitty Thank You Card

It's been a while since I've used Hello Kitty in a project, she's so cute and sweet that she seems like the obvious choice for a thank you card.  After selecting the Hello Kitty holding the flower image, I embossed her outfit to give it some texture.

 During the holidays I bought DCWV's Chalkboard paper to use in Michelle's inspirational book but the paper didn't work.  I tried a variety of markers, pencils and pens but nothing worked. I tried using chalk but the words smeared.  I tried writing with pastels and then spraying the paper with a permanent fixative, but the words still smeared. I've used this method many times to permanently preserve my pastel paintings so I couldn't understand why it didn't work this time.  I had read that white gel pens can be used to write on chalkboard paper.  It works well and the result is permanent. I cut a small piece of black chalkboard paper and wrote Thanks, thank you and Merci several times and at different angles around the paper and then attached Hello Kitty to the chalkboard background with foam dots.

This card was designed as a thank you card but it could easily be turned into a Valentine's Day card by changing the words on the chalkboard, the color of the background paper and adding a few more hearts.

Directions for Hello Kitty Thank You Card:

Cricut Hello Kitty cartridge
Card stock- white, dark pink, light pink, black and a scrap of dark turquoise
DCWV Chalkboard paper- black
White Gel pen
Small aqua buttons-four
Recollections Paper Roses- medium turquoise
Small purple flower
Recollections Self Adhesive pearls
Orange print card stock
Hot glue gun
Foam Dots
Embellishments-swirl and small heart

Yellow marker

1.  Cut Hello Kitty (HK2) at 2 3/4 inches following the guidelines in the Cricut cartridge booklet. Cut the outfit out of dark pink card stock and then again out of light pink card stock.  Assemble Kitty and color her nose with the yellow marker.  Glue a medium size pearl to the center of the flower in Kitty's hair.  Glue a small purple flower over the flower in Kitty's hand.

2.  Cut a piece of black chalkboard paper 4 inches by 4 inches.  Use the gel pen to write thank you and Merci spaced around the paper.  Write Thank You in large letters across the bottom of the paper.  Attach foam dots to Kitty and center her on the chalkboard paper. Glue a small pink heart to the upper right of the chalkboard.

3.  Cut the orange print card stock 5 inches by 5 inches.  Attach foam dots to the back of the chalkboard paper and center it on the orange print card stock. leaving approximately 1/2 inch border around the chalkboard paper.  Use the hot glue gun to adhere a small aqua button in each corner of the orange print card stock.  Position the orange print card stock approximately 2 1/2 inches from the bottom of the card and glue in place.

4.  Glue the aqua swirl ( this was originally cut from the Cricut Home Decor cartridge) to the bottom (center) of the card. Glue the turquoise rose in the center of the swirl.  Add a small pearl at each end of the swirl.

5.  Cut 2 small triangles from the scrap of dark turquoise card stock and glue over the corners of the card (right  side).

Friday, January 9, 2015

Pandora's Box

While I'm making die cuts for a project, I like to cut several sizes of the images for later use. This little bit of extra effort can be a great time saver when you need to make a card or gift bag in a hurry.  So when making the Snowy Scene card, I cut several trees and crimped them and then cut additional deer in a variety of sizes and then placed them in small zip top bags. I added the bags to my Pandora's Box, containing an assortment of die cuts and embossed card stock from previous projects.

Pandora's Box

Pandora's Box contains more than just extra die cuts. It's also used to store collected ephemera-interesting stamps, wine labels, and other odds and ends to add to a project.

It's safe to say that anything that enters our house could potentially end up in an art project.  Everything that is destined to be thrown away is evaluated for it's artful purpose, if it can't be used then it's thrown away. My husband was about to throw away a nice corrugated box until I snatched it for use in a future project.

I was drawn to the cut out on the box.  

Who knows what this box will eventually become but with it's beautiful cut out on the front, it definitely has potential. At the very least the cut out design on the front of the box has sparked ideas for future projects.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Snowy Scene Card

Now that Christmas is over, it's time to send thank you cards for the lovely gifts that we received. I always like to let the person know how much the gift meant to us by sending a handmade card rather than a commercially printed thank you card. Recently I stumbled across Kittie Caracciolo's cards and was amazed by the scenes that she constructed using die cuts and stamps. She listed all of the materials used for each card. Not wanting to buy a several single dies to make a card when I had an entire bookshelf devoted to Cricut cartridges, I decided to see if I could construct a scene using the cartridges that I already owned.

I decided to create a snowy scene using deer.  I used the deer and the pine trees from the Give a Hoot cartridge, cut snowflakes with the Sizzlets snowflake dies and hand cut the snow. I chose a teal rather than the traditional green for the trees, used the Fiskars crimping tool to crimp them (I borrowed this technique from Ms. Caracciolo) and then painted the tree branches with modeling paste to resemble snow. I printed the thank you verse inside the card but left the front intentionally blank so a greeting wouldn't detract from the scene.

Snowy scene card.

Directions for Snowy Scene Card:

Silver ribbon
Small teal crystal for the bow
White, brown and teal card stock
Sizzix Sizzlet snowflakes or any other die cut snowflake
Cricut Give a Hoot cartridge
Ranger Diamond Stickles glitter glue
Golden Molding Paste
Small paint brush- preferably an old one or a inexpensive craft paint brush
Small self adhesive pearls
Ranger Tim Holtz Distress Ink- Iced Spruce
Cuttlebug Swiss Dots embossing folder
Fiskars Paper Crimper
White Gel pen and black Sharpie marker
Hot Glue gun

1.  Print the verse inside a half fold card using a greeting card program.

2.  Using the Cricut Give a Hoot cartridge, cut the pine trees out of teal card stock at 2 /34, 2 and 1 1/2 inches.  Remove the trees from the cutting mat and individually crimp each tree with the Fiskars crimping tool.  Cut 2 deer out of brown card stock ( 1 1/2 and 2 inches). Color the deer's hooves with the black marker and make white spots on the deer's rump with the white gel pen. Color the deer's tail with the gel pen.

3.  Dip the paint brush in the molding paste and randomly color the tree branches to give the effect of snow.  Set the trees aside to dry overnight.

4.  Apply Ranger Iced Spruce distress ink randomly over the front of the card.

5.  Cut 4 snowflakes from white card stock, using the Sizzix snowflake dies.  Apply molding to the entire snowflake and set aside to dry.

6.  Put a piece of white card stock in the Swiss Dots embossing folder and emboss.  Randomly cut snow from the embossed card stock.

7.  Apply the Diamond Stickles to the center and ends of the snowflakes, the tree branches (over the snow) and along the snowy ground that you just cut. Set aside to dry.

8.  Once the glitter glue is completely dry, assemble the scene.  Use a hot glue gun to glue the scene in place.  Apply the small pearls to the ends of the tree branches, and larger pearls to the center of the snowflakes.

9.  Cut a piece of silver ribbon the length of the card plus 1/2 inch and glue the ribbon to the left edge of the card, tucking the ends of the ribbon under the edges of the card and gluing in place. Tie a small bow from the silver ribbon, center on the ribbon border and glue in place.  Attach a small teal crystal to the center of the bow.