Tag Archives: handmade cards

The Quest for the Perfect Monthly Crafty Subscription

My my my its been a long time – February!  Here’s my tale of “woe.”  I like to link up to the Yarn Along on Wednesday.  And, for whatever reason, I kept missing Wednesday!  I would be in the mood to post on a Monday or a Tuesday, but think, eh, that post would be so much better to link up  with the Yarn Along on Wednesday – there was the finished Ambah knit-a-long, a crocheted bug, my crocheted Octopus disaster, Maryland Sheep and Wool, the start of the Joji MKAl, sheesh – that’s a lot of potential Wednesday content!  But then, somehow, Wednesday would disappear, poof! First it was 7:30 a.m. and I was getting ready for court, and then it was 10 p.m., and I was ready for bed.  And then, I’d think, there’s always next Wednesday.

And that’s it.  I’ve just been waiting for Wednesday.

So, here we are on Tuesday – whatever Wednesday, right?  Actually, I am going to try to post some yarny content tomorrow, and Wednesday looks pretty open on my calendar tomorrow – fingers crossed.  There were a lot of homicides over the holiday weekend, and I think I’m next up on the wheel.  One arrest, and I’m off to prison tomorrow, and that’ll blow up another Wednesday.  In the meantime, today I’m having a liquidy lunch scheduled with my team from this case, happy to close the book on that one.  Usually, when you close out a case like that one, there’s something waiting in the wings to take its place, sigh.

But, back to Tuesday, and today’s topic is my latest crafty pursuit, card making.  So, to recap, I started the year off with a handlettering flourish and frenzy.  That lead to InCoWriMo, and some watercolor cards.  The watercolor cards lead to me taking a class on watercolor card making at Online Card Classes,  This lead me to youtube, of course, and a lot of card making videos.  I became especially intrigued with cardmaking subscription kits, which is big fodder for youtube tuts – 10 cards, 1 kit, which appeals to me because I like to stretch my supplies, and use what I have on hand.  That’s not to say I don’t buy supplies – there is that giant A.C. Moore that plopped down right at the halfway point between my walk from the office to the courthouse.  Luckily, or unluckily, the supplies at A.C. Moore for the cardmaker are kind of meh – the stamp section is tiny, and tends to involve cute animals or florals, and they don’t carry any Tim Holtz, or any dies other the a handful of Sissix dies.  Therefore, I set my sights on subscribing to a monthly kit – curated supplies right to my door.

So, all kinds of things to think about – aesthetics, of course, but then there’s cost and commitment.  In the end, I did not go with the best buy, but with the product I thought I would use the most, and get the most joy out of, because that’s what it’s all about really.

The best buy out there is definitely, Hero Arts Monthly Kit.  For $35 plus shipping, you get at least a large stamp set (not quite 8 1/2 x 11, but it’s also bigger than 5 x7), with matching dies (between the stamps and the dies, you’ve already got your $35 worth), cardstock, and other miscellaneous items, this month it was a stencil, 3 small stamp pads, an acetate sheet, a bottle of ink, and some sequins.  I did not buy this month’s kit, I was sucked in by last months kit, which was Audrey Hepburn inspired:

This kit came with the paper doll stamps, matching dies, cardstock, three stamp cubes, a strand of faux pearls, a black ribbon, some blingy things, and some kind of droplets, I forget what they’re called.  And, here is the one card I ended up making, because there’s just not enough time in the day.  Crazy, because I saw this kit, didn’t love it, and then got sucked into the youtube 10 cards 1 kit scene, and had to have it.  Of course, by then it was sold out (the benefit of subscribing is that you’re guaranteed a kit – otherwise, you really need to buy it on the first day, possibly the second).  I stalked ebay – way too expensive and destash groups on Facebook.  Someone destashed it for $10, and I couldn’t believe I missed it!  And then, on the last day of the month, Hero Arts actually restocked it -they must have found a few lying around in the warehouse. I snatched it up, and rewatched all of the videos.  And then it came, and I was in the middle of something, work something, and I just didn’t get the chance to spend time with it.

Another really good deal is Simon Says Stamps, which is $25/month plus shipping. This month’s kit came with a floral stamps set, an ink pad, a distress oxide ink pad, and a small sample of Daniel Smith watercolors, as well as 6 x 6 double sided paper.  Eh, another floral stamp.  This kit sold out fast, and again, if you want a guarantee, you need to subscribe.  Looking back at the past kits, they’re just not my vibe, I guess.  Last month’s was this strange kinetic stamp, they appear to shimmy when you pull a tab, the month before were baby zoo critters.  Great deal, not for me.

And when I thought about Hero Arts v. Simon Says Stamps, it didn’t come down to money or value, it came down to taste.  If I didn’t like the theme, I probably wouldn’t get much use out of the kit.  I looked at past months of both companies, and it was really hit or miss.  This month’s Hero Arts has a mermaid theme,  I’m just not into the fantasy mermaid thing, I probably would make one card and that would be it.  And the truth is, I like the stamping and the coloring more than I like the embellishments, and the blingy stuff, so I changed my focus to stamps, and stamps that work well with watercolor, in particular.  To me, these cards are little canvases that I’m sending off into the world, and I wanted something to help me make my little presents.

Anyway, if you go on youtube, and search for monthly card kit, other companies will come up.  Hero Arts and Simon Says Stamps are just two of the more commercial, popular ones, and I really didn’t work too hard in researching the other brands, because they didn’t really stand out to me.

So, I ended up subscribing to Unity Stamp Co.’s Kit of the Month.  This kit doesn’t come with any paper, or dies, or bling, only stamps – an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of etched, unmounted, rubber stamps.  With shipping, it comes to $42 a month.  So, why the big investment, when I could spend less, and get more stuff?  Because it would be more stuff that I didn’t use.  I like these stamps – I can see sending them to friends, unlike a mermaid, or a fairy or a baby elephant.

As you can see, there are 6 large image stamps, and eight sentiments.  To give you an idea of size, the cards are 5 x7, and the vase and flower image is stamped on a 4 x 6 card.  One 4 x6 unmounted stamp alone will run you between $6-$10.00.  So, for the image stamps alone, it’s worth it.  Unity is known, I guess, for their Angie Girls, designed by Angie Blom.  The headband girl is an Angie girl.  One Angie Girl stamp set, which is usually a girl, and two sentiments, is $26.00.  So, again, while there is no paper, no bling, no dies, this 8 1/2 x 11 massive stamp set is a really good price for what you get.

I stumbled onto Unity years ago when I was taking Suzi Blu’s art journaling workshops, and she was selling her stamps there.  At some point, their emails started hitting my spam folder, and I really didn’t give them another thought.  Then, I started seeing cards on Facebook, as I was perusing different stamping groups.  I really liked the sentiments – they’re adult, they’re things I would say to a friend.  Even their critter cards are in a way sophisticated.  Unity also has a faith based side to it, which, when I first got their emails, was a bit of a turn off.  But, the faith based aspect is really separate – they have a separate kit club, Layers of Life, which is for more faith based, journaling.  So, I like that they are a family company, and that they not only want to put out a good product, they really want to be home to a community, and to that end, they are constantly doing Facebook live crafting sessions, and there’s almost always a sale.  I guess I found their Facebook group in January maybe February, and ever since then, there’s been a decent sale nearly every week, and during that period, I bought a few things that I loved working with, like this poppy girl:

The sentiment is from their Donna Downey collection – another nice plus to the site.  And, unlike Hero Arts and Simon Says Stamps there are additional benefits to membership than just a guaranteed kit.  Once you subscribe, you get an additional $6.50 off future orders of a certain amount, and all previous Kits of the Months are available at basically half price.  So, you can pick up an old set for $26 (Kits of the Month are $52 for nonmembers), which is basically the cost of the Angie girl in the set.  The commitment is three months, which I’m good with – because I’m finally at the end of my 12 month commitment with Studio Calico.  That, my friends, was way too long of a commitment to my project life ish kit of the month from them.  Especially when I’m really over the weekly project scrapping, and have turned to another product – more on that some other day but Wednesday.

So, with the cancelling of my World of Warcraft membership (uch, that time in between expansions – the dead zone) and my Studio Calico subscription, I’m still on budget for my one subscription a month.  I know this is probably rationalizing, but I really feel like I’m going to save money in the long run, because I won’t buy any additional stamps (and so far I haven’t, and it’s been a few weeks, and I’m still good), and while I have been collecting Spectrum Noir markers (alcohol markers that are nearly have the price of Copics) at the A.C. Moore about once a month for half the price (6 markers for $7.50,), I’m really good with the distress inks of I’ve had forever, and my watercolors.  I know, I know, everyone’s all about the distress oxide inks, and they are appealing, I’m ok without them.  I’m sure I’ll end up at Michael’s with a coupon sometime, but I’m not plotting for that day.

 

 

So, I’m sure I’ll be playing with this stamp set some more this week – watercoloring is so relaxing.  And, I have my June set to look forward to in a matter of a week or so, so we’ll see how this membership works out.  The other one’s are going anywhere.

So, tomorrow’s Wednesday – we’ll see if it stays firmly embedded on my calendar, or if it just goes poof! where did it go??

Til then!

 

And So It Begins – Bring On InCoWriMo 2017, and . . . a New Obsession, the Fountain Pen

Look who’s ready for InCoWriMo 2017, or to translate that mouthful of an acronym, International Correspondence Writing Month.  I have six handmade cards and envelopes ready to go, and I have my Flow magazine on hand to decorate the rest.  After a trip to the post office this morning, and a very helpful Postal Person, I ended up putting Letters 1 and 2 in the mail so I don’t have to go back tomorrow.   Yep, I’m cheating already I guess, but I’m looking at the month as a whole, because I doubt I’m going to actually post letters on the weekend – the mailperson doesn’t always come on Saturday, and if it’s snowing, I’m not walking the half mile to the mailbox. And, there are Sundays when lets face it, getting dressed means I change from the pj’s I slept into clean pj’s or sweats.  And, I wonder why I’ve gained weight?  Sheesh.  Anyway, my point is, I’m playing by Wendy’s rules, since it’s all informal anyway, I’m going to do the best I can to mail out 28 letters in what would be nearly a daily fashion.  But, there’s no way I’m standing at the post office 2 days in row to have a letter weighed when I’m already there, and it’s ready to go.  I also showed the Postal Person my unfinished letters, and had her give me some educated guesses about the postage.  The bottom line is, the rest of the handmades are going to be U.S. bound, because sending them overseas will be ridiculously eexpensive, and I’m going to rethink my notecards.

I bought these notecards because a. they were on sale, of course, and b. I used them to accompany swaps.  These notecards are so stinkin’ cute, but did you know that because of their small size, they’re actually nearly twice the postage?!  They require special care, hand cancelling I suppose.  I’m thinking I may just stick the cards in regular envelopes.  We’ll see.

But, what’s that other item in the photo?  Not the Flow Magazine, not the carefully crafted handmade cards, no, no – that other thing.

That would be a fountain pen.

A Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop.  It is totally impossible to follow InCoWriMo on Instagram, and not be sucked in by pen, ink and stationary posts as well.  Based on my misconceptions, I had never really considered a fountain pen.  First, I originally thought that fountain pens were just for calligraphy, that the fancy nib was chiseled for classical, traditional calligraphy.  Wrong, totally wrong in fact.  There are fountain pens that are somewhat designed for calligraphy, they have an stub italic nib (lingo, lingo – see how much I’ve learned!) or a flex nibs.  I thought about going that route, but the bottom line is, calligraphy is best with a dip pen (or if you’re into brush lettering, a brush), and I’m already in the wheelhouse, and all of the reviews I read of the affordable caliigraphy pens were meh.

Then, I thought they were too expensive.  Well, that depends – my pen was $13, and there are fountain pens that are even cheaper.  So, $13 compared to a disposable Bic is comparatively expensive, but it’s so inexpensive when you compare it to this – a $65,000.00 pen – crazy right?

The bottomline is, a fountain pen can be for everyone and anyone, and it can be used as your every day pen.  The benefits are basically that you only have to apply very little pressure to the page to get your ink to flow, if you have a good pen, you’ll have a perfectly smooth line, and if you take care of it, you can use it forever, by refilling your ink with cartridge refills or an ink converter (a doohickey that sucks ink out of a bottle).  A good pen goes a long way.

Anyway, placing my first foot into the fountain pen rabbit hole, I did some research.  I started with Goulet Pen Company, because they were doing a giveaway in conjunction with Boho Berry, a bullet journaler who I follow, and I watched their series Fountain Pens 101.  This pen was one of their recommendations for starter pens.  Then, I went on youtube, and watched a few reviews, and for the most part, all of the reviewers were surprised at how good a pen this is for the price.  So, I bought the pen along with a box of refills.  With Amazon prime, it was less than $20.  I did feel guilty, though, that I didn’t give my business to Goulet Pens after I sucked up all of their free knowledge, but it totally came down to the free two day shipping.  But, I suspect that it won’t be long before I buy something from them, be it a converter, or ink, or  . . . another pen perhaps?

Because I do love this pen.  It’s a fine nib, and because Pilot is a Japanese brand, and the Japanese nibs are generally thinner than American nibs, it writes like an extra fine:

As you can see, it’s a small enough nib to get in the little grid boxes, but you can go bigger and still get a lovely smooth line.  And, even though it is a fine nib, it’s not so fine that you even come close to feeling like you’re scratching the paper, or that you’re digging a hole in your journal or planner or whatever.  However, I think I’d like a medium nib . . . so that could happen.

Also, now that I’ve used black ink, I may have gone into Dick Blick’s today and bought blue ink.  And while I was there, I really really wanted to buy the violet ink, but couldn’t justify it at this point because that would mean I couldn’t use my pen at work, as I have been, because what lawyer writes in pink ink?  Legally Blonde is a mythological movie my friends.  Blue or black.  So, that means I really need another pen for my violet ink, right?

Anyway, this is how it begins.  Now, I’m trying to convince Joe that he needs a fountain pen – so that we can be in it together.  I don’t think it’s going to work, but he is mildly intrigued.

So, I usually write about knitting on Wednesday’s, and I link up with the Yarn Along.  This week, though, I’m pretty much where I was last week, although now I’m working on a sleeve.  The mystery knitalong doesn’t start until tomorrow, so I’ll have something yarny to report on Friday.  Will it be a good mystery, or bad mystery?

Stay tuned!

 

Tempest Tossed

On one hand, I feel like I should be running down to the airport, with my signs and my fist in the air;  not only is it the right thing to do, but I know that I would feel energized, and hopeful, and frankly, American.  But, the bottomline is, this President just doesn’t give two shits.  He doesn’t even give one.  Instead of saying, I hear you, he points fingers, and signs more executive orders, and with every day, gets closer to crowning himself king.

But, I go to my crafting to escape, and if you’re actually here, this place is an escape too – because you can find politics anywhere you look on the web, doesn’t have to be here.  So, if you’re curious, and you want to know the process, not the product, here it is.

I downloaded an image of the statue of liberty.  I cut it out, and stuck it to my paper with repositionable tape.  The first time, I watercolored, and inked around the statue.  Then, I pulled the mask up, and voila! An outline of the Statue of Liberty.

After I botched the first try, I used this as a draft to figure out where the writing was going to be.  If I had to do it again, and I guess I could do it again, since I splotched up the f in “lift” by sticking my wrist in the wet ink when I went back to cross my t’s – uch!  Muffed up right at the last second, when I was just about to call it done.  But, if I were going to do it again, I’d probably go back to the watercolor, and skip that purple ink – it just didn’t blend well, even with my Tim Holz blending pads.  And, then, after I hung my statement on the wall, where at least I care about it, I moved on to my new watercolor stamps.

I don’t know about you, but in between being horrified by the nightly news and my social media feed, I mindlessly watched CHA video after CHA video, or Creativation as they’re calling it now.  It’s a trade show, it wants to suck me into buying things, and I’m good with that.  New paper! New dies! New stamps! oh my!  The biggest time suck was the Blitsy swag giveaway.  Blitsy filmed 3 days worth of mini segments at a dozen or so booths.  At the end of every segment, they gave you a secret word, which was access to a giant swag giveaway.  I think it was during one of those videos that I discovered Art Impressions Stamps, well at least the watercolor stamps, because their line of strange heavy set lady stamps are a little bizarre to me, but there’s something for everyone I guess.

The watercolor stamps are watercolor painting cheaters.  You stamp the image with watercolor marker, or whatever water soluble product you have, and then you add some color, pull out more color with a wet brush, and you too can look like a watercolor master.  Well, close.  Well, closer than I would have without the stamp.

Because I was just experimenting, I bought the cheapest set on Blitsy, the mini- barn set, which I think was just about $9.  The bigger sets run between $17-and $20, at full price.

As you can see the set comes with three unmounted cling stamps that are just basic outlines of the images – the barn, the tree, and the fence.  Huh, I guess I should have taken a before photo, but no matter.  Trust me, you can do this! The image looks like the outline on the top of the packaging.  Because I have one package of Tombow Markers that’s missing the brown marker, I stamped in black, and then used my set of Koi watercolors to color in the barn, and the trees.  If you have a good assortment of watercolor markers, you can just add more color to the stamp.  You really don’t need to get out your watercolors at all if you really want to keep it simple.  Anyway,  I stamped the barn first, and then I masked it, so I wouldn’t stamp over the barn with the trees.  There’s a good video of how to do this on the  Art Impressions youtube channel.  Art Impressions uses a masking paper, which has a sticky substance on the back.  I just used repositionable tape, just like I did the Statue of Liberty.  So, you stamp the barn on scrap paper, and cut out around the barn any place you don’t want the stamp to show – so that the trees are in the background.  Then you position the scrap barn over the good barn, and peel it away when you’re done stamping the trees.  Or if you want to start with a tree, you can stamp the tree, create a mask for the tree, stamp the barn, and then create a mask for the barn, and then stamp the background trees.  The idea is, start with the image that’s closest in the foreground, and work your way back.  If anyone wants to see photos of how I did this, just leave me a message in the

And, of course, since I’m getting read for InCoWriMo2017, I turned them into easel cards:

Basically, these cards stick up like an easel – there’s a foam stopper covered with patterned paper that you wedge the card behind, but the card can also be folded flat to go in an envelope.  Of all of the Crafter’s Companion card tutorials, this is by far the easiest one.  You just take a sheet of 5 1/2 x 11 paper, fold it in half, and then fold a gatefold on one end, then you tape a 5 1/2/ x 5 1/2 square on that gatefold flap.  Apply foam, done.

Of course, I forgot that my ink was going to explode on the watercolor paper – should have just just lettered in the card stock.  Oh well.

Now that I know I really love these stamps, I ordered another set that has a flower stamp, it’s a mailbox with a bird and some foliage.  I definitely have ideas about combining the two sets.  I originally thought the flowers came with the barn based on the packaging, but they don’t.  You have to be careful when you buy these stamps to make sure of what’s actually included – sometimes you get more than you thought you were getting (there’s one set that has a barn on a cliff, and the set also comes with a lighthouse), or less (mostly foliage and flowers – there’s a separate foliage set, flower set, and tree set, but some of the projects do come with flowers).  And, of course, there are new sets coming out that debuted at CHA, although to me, they pretty much look like the old sets, although I think some of them have critters now, like a bunny or a squirrel or something like that.  They also have this pretty cool die that’s coming out- it’s a 3d frame, with an easel, so you can stand up your watercolor masterpieces.

So, that’s all for now.  Next, I’ll share my latest nonpolitical obsession, to fountain or not to fountain, that’s the question.