Saturday, September 29, 2018

Halloween Greeting Cards

Greeting cards...this is another one of those crafty things I could not see myself ever getting interested in but times change as they always do. I found a YouTube channel that has amazing card tutorials and now I am hooked. I knew that eventually this would happen. First I say I'll NEVER do it, then I waiver a thing you know, I'm doing it. It's a pattern I typically follow.

Kristie Marcotte takes a 6" X 6" paper pad and makes as many cards as she can out of it, usually between thirty and forty. Here is a link her channel to check out. She purchases card kits from different vendors and makes cards from them also. She is on the design teams of some of them.

She also has a blog post to accompany all of her videos with individual photos of the cards she creates, as well as, the design sketches with measurements that she used. Here is the link to her blog.

So, with Halloween around the corner and inspiration from Kristie, I decided to try my hand at some greeting cards. I have completed two and I'm fairly pleased with the results. I started out with blank white note cards and built up the layers. I have a lot of scraps from the papers I've cut for my October Daily and they are just the right size these note cards but too small for anything else. I'm happy to be able to use up a bunch of the paper scraps.

Kristie uses an ATG tape dispenser (see photo above) to adhere all the layers down. I don't have one of those. I picked up some double sided tape from the dollar store to experiment with. Take my advice, save yourself the time, effort and money...don't get cheap double sided tape. The layers kept separating from each other and I had to use some glue to stick them back down. Very frustrating.

I went to Michaels today and purchased a Scotch Double Sided Tape Roller. I did look at the ATG tape dispensers but the price is a bit prohibitive this week, especially when I know there is a 55% off coupon for next Saturday. Since I'm going to be out of town next weekend, I will have to ask someone to pick it up for me.

I can see myself making some of my Christmas cards this year now...for those that I know will appreciate the time and craftsmanship that goes into them. With all the plans for October, it will have to be after that. I have enough on my plate right now. Stay tuned though, it will happen.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Moving Forward - October Daily

Let's begin with my second trip to the photo printing kiosk at Walmart. Apparently, the ratio between the dimensions of the image of the artist trading cards (2.5" X 3") and the 4" X 6" photo paper do not match. I did a test print, only to find that the sides of the image were cut off. That is not going to work for me, you need to see the whole image not only part of it.

Back to the drawing board. I re-worked the photos in ThumbsPlus, adding more depth to the colours, and put them all into a Word document for the second time. I sent the file to Staples Print Services and hoped for the best. Well, they did come out better this time, more vibrant, but still a bit grainy. I think this is my best option, so I'm going to stop stressing about it and go with the flow.

I picked up a pack of the Avery Photo Pages while I was at Staples. They are not quite what I expected. You can see by the photo that there is a lot of 'empty' space on the sides and at the bottom of the two 4" X 6" photo pockets on each page.

The side spaces are open at the top so I can slide a scrap piece of co-ordinating paper in each one. I will figure out what to do with the middle and bottom spaces later as I start filling the album.

Overall, I like the larger format. I've decided to go with the Avery Photo Pages in a black binder. I was going to purchase Avery page protectors and trading card sleeves that would 'match' the photo pages but I think I will use what I already have on hand...Staples brand page protectors and Ultra brand trading card sleeves. No need to incur extra expense, although I will need at least one more pack of the Avery Photo Pages.

The project is moving along, albeit slowly. I think I might try to incorporate the cover page I already made in the smaller format to this new size. October is almost here and I already feel behind! I'll keep you posted. 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

A Different Direction - October Daily

I've encountered several challenges during the planning stage of my October Daily that may send me in a different direction. I cannot find ANY place that prints wallet size photos. Can you believe that? So, if I have to get full size 4" X 6" prints, the planner binder that I wanted to use will not work. The pages are simply not big enough.

My original plan was to get wallet size photos of the 31 ATCs that I made for the Halloween Howl swap I'm in. I want to include them each day along with the one that I receive from my partner. It seems like a simple enough plan, right?

When that didn't work out, I put all the pics in a Word document and sent them to Staples Print Services. While that option was much cheaper than photo printing, the final product was a bit disappointing. They do not use photo printers or papers. They only have colour laser printers and cardstock. The pictures were grainy and not as vibrant as I wanted.

I do have a Project Life binder that I could use. I would have to find the plastic page inserts though. The only drawback; it is a large binder, and I'm thinking it might be a bit cumbersome to work in. The plastic insert sheets are 12" X 12" and divided into different size pockets. The only place I can find them is online but it is an option I will look at. 

Avery Photo Pages might work too. They would fit into a regular size binder. I will have to head over to Staples to have a look at them. I could use nine pocket trading card sheets and regular size page protectors for variety with that option, which would be nice.

It is already September, so I have to make a decision fairly soon. I want to have a lot of the pre-planning done before October gets here. I have a lot of Halloween swaps that I've signed up for that need to be completed also. I'm going to be busy.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Long Weekend Craft Fun

I love long weekends! That extra day off work feels like a great gift. More time to rest, relax and, most importantly, craft. I have already finished three projects and have couple more started.

This Halloween pocket letter is for a swap organized by Dani, the owner of the PopFizzPaper Crafty Club. I discovered Dani on YouTube and love all her videos. You should go take a look. They are fun and very inspiring. 

The 6” X 6” paper pad that I used for this pocket letter is called ‘Dead and Breakfast”.  I picked it up at Michaels last year after Halloween for 75% off. Once again, there are a lot of diecuts decorating the pockets. I'm getting the chance to use several of my newest dies. I'm very happy with how it turned out. I hope my partner likes it.

Speaking of Michaels, they had a 55% of coupon good for four days, from Friday to Monday. You have to know that I took advantage of that. The first two days, i picked up more 6" X 6" Halloween paper pads. I like that size for pocket letters as the prints are smaller than the 12" X 12" paper pads. 

Today, I purchased the We R Memory Keepers Frame Punch Board. I have a project in mind for this but I want to make sure my idea works before sharing it with you. My local store is closed tomorrow so no coupon buying for me on Monday.

I finished off an autumn themed mini file folder for a swap on one of my Facebook groups. It was a quick and easy project that was fun to do. You can see a tutorial here if you are interested in giving it a try.

Tomorrow's goal will be an autumn themed pocket letter for a YouTube swap I signed up for. I want to make good progress on it before the big rush of Halloween craft projects begins. I've signed up for a LOT of Halloween swaps.

How have you been spending your time this weekend? What projects are you working on? Tell me all about them in the comment section below. Thanks.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Crafting Is My Refuge

Why do I craft? First and foremost, it makes me happy. It helps me combat the loneliness and depression that often sneaks in. On a really stressful day it helps me to relax and unwind; put the rest of the crazy world behind me for awhile. It is also a very useful tool in my pain management arsenal. An active mind and busy hands push the pain into the background, instead of front and centre.

When I am creating art there is no one else standing over me, watching my every move with eagle eyes, negatively criticizing everything I do, eavesdropping on every word I speak and generally dragging me down. Crafting transports me to a better place full of fun and laughter and it is a great place to escape to when I am able. It keeps me sane (although some may dispute that).

My world suddenly became much smaller a few years back. The end of a relationship separated me from a lifestyle that I loved and friends that I cherished. Along with that, my increasingly challenging mobility issues keep me fairly close to home these days. So, crafting is my refuge, a safe space for me retreat to from the anxieties of my everyday life.

I’ve always had that creative urge, dabbling in many different things over the years; knitting, quilting, weaving, and jewelry making to name a few. Paper crafting is my current passion, from artist trading cards to art journaling, pocket letters to greeting cards and more. Who knows what will come next? What new crafting adventures lie ahead?

My mother was always a crafter too. She was into knitting, crocheting, quilting, flower arranging and more. One of my earliest memories is of her sewing doll clothes for a local company. They recruited home sewers, provided the fabric and patterns, and paid them for each completed piece. The doll clothes were then packaged in cellophane bags with printed cardboard toppers and sold in department stores. It was exciting for me as a young girl seeing my mothers’ work in the nearby Woolworths store.

Why do you craft? What motivates you to create art? What benefits do you get from crafting? Please share your thoughts and feelings about, or experiences with, the creative process in the comment section below.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

The best laid plans often go off the tracks, don't they? I purposely stayed up until midnight last night to get all of the 31 ATCs that I made for a mega swap scanned and processed. My plan was to put them on a USB key and take them to one of the photo printing kiosks at Walmart this morning to get wallet size prints of them all.

For starters, three of the four kiosks were out of order. So, I loaded all the files onto the one remaining station. But their kiosks will no longer print wallet size photos, which is what I wanted for my October Daily. I was NOT amused!

Time to formulate a new plan. When I came home, I booted up the computer. I inserted and re-sized all thirty-one files into a Word document. My next step was to go to Staples Print Services online, load up the file, select the options I wanted and send to be printed. 

I think it 'should' be ready for me to pick up before the end of the day but the way my luck is going so far, I'm not counting on it. I will call later to enquire. The silver lining in this whole thing is that doing it through Staples is going to be much more cost effective. So in the end, I won, right?

The pages for my October Daily did get cut out yesterday as planned and the holes have been punched in them. I think that I will have to incorporate some marigold coloured diecuts on each page or the clash of colour between the pages and the planner binder will be too dramatic. Perhaps I will punch out marigold reinforcements for all of the holes also. That might work. What do you think?

In retrospect, perhaps the darker, more monochromatic Moonlit Manor paper collection might have worked better with this planner binder. I obviously had not thought that far ahead. No problem, I will find a way to make it good. It can be whatever I want it to be.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Planning My October Daily

What is an October Daily, you ask? It’s a cross between a daily diary, a scrapbook and an art journal to document the month of October. The main theme throughout the book is Halloween. I LOVE Halloween! Anyone who knows me can verify that. This was a trend started about 3 years ago on YouTube. It will be the first year I am participating.

You can find an October Daily 101 blog post here by Serena Bee, who has one of my favourite YouTube channels, Serena Bee Creative. It is full of tips and ideas to get you started. She also has a list of daily prompts if you cannot decide what to document each day. Use them in order or randomly as needed. There is a video associated with this blog post that I highly recommend watching if you are interested in trying this.

I will be using my marigold coloured, Carpe Diem, A5 size planner binder for the project. With that in mind, I went to Michaels last night to see if they had their 12” X 12” Halloween cardstock paper pads out yet. A few people had posted photos on Facebook of what they found at their local locations, so there was a 50/50 chance that mine had them out too.

Hurray! There was a small, Halloween papercrafting display in one of the middle aisles that included what I was looking for. There was also some themed stickers and washi tape available. Michaels has two paper collections this year. One is called Hocus Pocus and the other is called Moonlit Manor. The latter one is very monochromatic with primarily black, white and shades of grey only. It did not really appeal to me although I know that some people really like that dark and gloomy look.
Single Sided Paper Pad

I preferred the Hocus Pocus collection using mostly black, white and orange, with very vintage looking images and icons. I purchased both of the 12” X 12” paper pads in the collection for 50% off the regular price. One is double sided with a different design on each side and the other pad is one sided with ‘treatments’. That means that some of the images are slightly raised and glossy, while the rest of the page has a matte finish. I will use the one sided paper for Halloween pocket letters, greeting cards and ATCs.

Double Sided Paper Pad
The pages for my October Daily will be cut out from the double sided pages. Pre-planning is crucial for a project like this. Everyone who has participated before advises it. Having a lot of the design work done for each day will make it quicker to pull together in October. I do have some ideas of what I want to include on the page each day but I can always include more things as I progress, adding extra pages if required. There is a Facebook page (Halloween & October Daily Inspiration) you can join for ideas and encouragement if you want to try this. 

First step will be to pull out the big paper cutter and get the pages cut out. Each page will be 5.25” X 8.25”. Next, I will punch out the holes so they will fit in the planner. I may also punch out reinforcements in a contrasting cardstock and glue them on to make the holes more durable.

If I manage to get that much accomplished today, I will be happy. As I move forward with this, I will post updates on how it is progressing. Stayed tuned!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

New Paper Crafting Tools

I’ve picked up some new tools to use for my creative paper crafting projects. Over the last few months, I’ve added a ‘few’ new cutting dies to my collection. Okay...perhaps more than a few, mostly Halloween and cat themed ones so far. And let’s be honest here, I’m sure that I will be adding many more down the road. I had to come up with a way to store them so that they are all in one place, and loosely sorted by category.

The metal cutting dies are now all on magnetic sheets in page protectors in a couple of binders. The initial cost for setting this up was a bit high but now I can just add more pages as needed. It seems to be working really well for me. How do you store all your dies? Let me know in the comment section below. I’m always willing to look at a better way if there is one.

One tool that I’m very happy I purchased is the WeRMemory Keepers glass craft mat. It gives me a nice, firm surface to work on and it is easy to clean up any paint, marker or glue residue when I’m finished. I’m not sure that I would have paid full price for it but with a 50% off coupon at Michaels and a gift card from my daughter-in-law for Mother’s Day, it was a good investment. I highly recommend this for all paper crafters.

I went to ScrapFest in Kitchener this April. That was a big mistake for many reasons, first and foremost the crazy ice storm that hit southern Ontario that weekend! My friend, who joined me there, fell and broke her ankle in the parking lot also. Plus the ONE item that I went looking for, a fuse tool for making shaker pockets, was not available from any of the vendors who were there. I white knuckled the four drive home (normally a two hour drive) and ordered it on Amazon that evening. I should have stayed at home.

Another item that I purchased at Michaels with a 50% off coupon is a Fiskars mini paper cutter. I have a large, office style one for cutting out chipboard for artist trading cards, but it is too cumbersome for the smaller jobs. It was another good investment and I used the rest of the money left on my gift card to get it.

One more thing I acquired from Michaels with a coupon is the WeRMemory Keepers Tab Punch Board. I was toying with the idea of joining in some of the MemoryDex card swaps on YouTube and Facebook and saw some videos on using the tab punch board to make them. My problem now is that the Heidi Swapp hole punch for the MemoryDex cards has been discontinued and is not available anywhere! So, the tab punch board is still in its’ packaging for now.

I know that I will eventually get to using the tab punch board and the fuse tool (which is also still in its’ original packaging). It is nice having them for the time I know I will want them. My Sizzix BigKick die cutting machine sat in a corner in the box for over a year before I even opened it. It gets used constantly now. The day will come for the other new tools.

What is your favourite paper crafting tool? Or what did you purchase and have NEVER used? Let’s start a dialogue in the comment section below. Thank you for your input.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

I'm Never Going To Do That!

Yes, we've all said it sometime in our lives...I'm never going to do that! Well, let me tell you from experience, that as soon as the words come out of my mouth I am somehow launched on an unconscious path to do that very thing.

Shabby Chic ATCs
Take, for example, artist trading cards. When a friend of mine first shared with me that she was creating these miniature 'works of art', I thought she was crazy. I mean, why would you want to waste your time making these things? It made no sense to me.

Two years later, I discover the world of mail art and I finally 'got' it. I start making ATCs to swap and trade with others. I now have several large binders FULL of artists creations from around the world. 

Then, let's move on to pocket letters. When I first came upon these through a Facebook group I belong to, I could not see myself EVER doing them. I was a bit intimidated by the thought of attempting one, in fact. It was a trendy fad that would fade as quickly as it appeared, I thought. A friend continued to work on me, in spite of my protestations, trying to pique my interest in them.

Winter Themed Pocket Letter
Once again, about two years later, I decide to give it a shot. What the heck, why not? The more I learned about pocket letters, the more appealing they became to me. I watched a lot of YouTube video tutorials and I thought it was finally time to experiment with one.

Big sigh...I got hooked again! Now, I am participating in multiple pocket letter swaps and I have a couple of regular pen pals that I exchange with too. I'm having a lot of fun sending and receiving them. Check out this video to see a Valentine's Day pocket letter that I sent to one of my partners.

Thank You Card for Swap
Let's move on to greeting cards. The lovely cards posted by others on Pinterest amazed me, but I could NEVER create anything like that. I was convinced of it. I'm simply not talented enough for that, I told myself.

I resisted for a LONG time, until just recently, when a friend tricked/bribed me to join a greeting card swap on a group we both belong to. I foolishly took the bait, and signed up for it. Now, I want to make lots more greeting cards for every occasion.

You know, now that I think about it, it was the SAME friend who got me interested in ALL of those things! She's had a diabolical plan all along, hasn't she? YOU know who you are, friend. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

A New Year Begins - Welcome 2018

Every year at this time we look back on the year past with fondness or regret and begin to plan for the twelve months ahead with an anticipation that rarely lasts past the end of January.

We often set ourselves up for failure with goals loftier that we can reasonably achieve. Then when we do not succeed our enthusiasm wanes.

I'm trying not to do that this year. I believe that my list of goals are reasonably achievable. I wish to make some simple lifestyle changes to make it easier for both my body and soul.

I want to focus more on taking care of myself and not worrying as much about looking after everyone else. That strategy only wears me down and does not leave enough in me for self care.

My decluttering project will continue, not in a mad flurry, but a little at a time. By the end of the year, I anticipate a major improvement in my house and my peace of mind. I want to downsize my way to a happier, more fulfilled life. Here is my motto for the year, Don't put it down, put it away!

Crafting will remain a big part of my life. I am happiest when creating and sharing my art with others. I've changed my main focus from artist trading cards to pocket letters over the last couple of months, although I will continue to participate in a few ATC swaps. That includes the annual 31 ATC Halloween swap and a monthly swap with a group in Alberta.

I have several pen pals across Canada that I am exchanging pocket letters with now, and hopefully, building lasting friendships. I was introduced to this fun way to send happy mail a couple of years ago but I did not realize how much I would enjoy it. To learn more about this new trend, do a search on YouTube and you will find tons of tutorials. 

What are your plans for the upcoming twelve months? Whatever they are, I wish you great success and much happiness. Have a great year!