Sunday, August 31, 2014

for a Sister

It's been just over a year since I first discovered Flonz stamps.  I had to have them right away!  I particularly love this little girl.

I stamped her on a scrap of stone-colored paper from an unknown pad.  (The cover was torn off when I found it on mark down at the store!)  I layered this over a printed piece of olive green from the Vintage Charm stack from My Mind's Eye.  Tied the two with a piece of gold organza ribbon before gluing to the card base.  Then I decided to add three pink gemstones--one as a flower center; the other two are kind of randomly placed.  

I'm applying for the Design Team at the Vintage Stamping Challenge.  Wish me luck!

Vintage Stamping Challenges
Vintage Stamping Challenge from

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Friday, August 29, 2014

One of Those Days

Yesterday was one of those days.  Apart from finishing a dolly dress first thing in the morning, everything else I touched seemed to turn into garbage.  So I settled for a little experimenting with a new stamp I got from Hero Arts.

Windflower Stamp

...done with chalks...

...dye inks...

...fluid chalk inks...

...watercolor pencils...

...simply re-stamping with same watercolor pencils, without retouching or misting.

Which one do you like best?  
Do you have a great method of using this stamp?  I'd love to hear it!

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

a Wonder Gift

Calligraphy Alphabets Made Easy

My brother, Mark, gave me this book for Christmas of '91 or '92.   It belongs on a list of best gifts I ever received.

 I'd taken up calligraphy shortly after high school, but this book helped it come to life.  I went through it page by page, carefully studying a new alphabet style each day of the following year, practicing with names, addresses or favorite song lyrics.

My book bears just one ink splotch from when I struggled with a cranky fountain pen that had to be filled through the nib.  I still go back to it regularly.

Margaret Shepard Calligraphy Alphabets Made Easy

Visit Margaret's blog:

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Core'dinations Design Team Call

I've been making my own greeting cards for more than twenty years, starting with birthday and Christmas cards to my aunts and uncles and closest friends.  I like to use calligraphy, watercolors and colored pencils in cardmaking...almost always with some sort of stamping.

I just discovered Core'dinations ColorCore Cardstock in my favorite craft store within the past year, and now I find myself applying for their next design team.  

Unfortunately, I've been needing a lot of sympathy cards this year, so first I created this one, using a lovely green from the Core'dinations Nostalgia stack.  I love the soft supple feel of this paper--the fact that it doesn't get little tears when scored!

First I scored a sheet for a 5 x 7-inch card, but I left the front a little long, because I wanted to tear the edge.  Wet the area first for an easier, prettier tear.

Then I sanded the front, rougher around the edges, gradually sanding more gently as I worked inward.

I calligraphed a quotation along the right side and then inked the edges with Chestnut Roan from Clearsnap.

I stamped the first flower along the left with black ink.  After cleaning the stamp, I misted it with water and colored directly onto the stamp with watercolor pencils.  Misted again and then stamped.  Voila!  A beautiful watercolored flower!

Cardstock:  Nostalgia pack (Core'dinations)
Clear stamp:  Meadow set (Inkadinkado)
Chestnut Roan fluid chalk ink (Clearsnap)
Tuxedo black dye ink (Tsukineko)
Watercolor Pencils: kingfisher blue, olive green, copper beach, imperial purple (Derwent)
Scheaffer calligraphy pen

From Paradise
That green cardstock I had just used...I was immediately pairing it in my mind with shades of brown.  I thought of someone finding an old treasure map.  With that in mind, I created this birthday card.  

First, I had to "destroy" my precious cardstock!  (I did this several times, just to make it even softer with wrinkles.  I found it easier with this cardstock than with other brands.)  When you get past those first guilty feelings, it's actually kinda fun.

From this wrinkled piece of paper, I cut a 3 3/4-inch square and stamped the palm tree with brown and green chalk inks.  On leftover paper, I stamped this "Happy Birthday,"  tore the edges close around it and sponged those edges with brown ink.

I created the card base from dark brown cardstock.   And cut my green cardstock 4 1/4-inches square.  I attached the wrinkled palm tree square to this green square with four brads and finished assembling the card, giving it a sort of random look.

Cardstock:  Nostalgia stack (Core'dinations)
Stamps:  Palm tree (Michaels) Sweetheart Birthday set (Flonzcraft)
Chalk ink:  Chestnut Roan, Olive Green, Burnt Sienna (clearsnap)
4 brads
Zots glue dots


My favorite card I've created lately is this one.  I've fallen in love with hydrangeas in the past few years.  We've put SEVEN of them around the yard!  And so I come back to this hydrangea stamp quite often.

I started by making a 5 x 7-inch card of lilac cardstock.  I cut a piece of pale celery green 4 3/4 x 6-inches and then trimmed one short edge with the Floral Crochet punch.

I stamped two hydrangeas with Chestnut Roan (carefully masking the first one before stamping the second!) and colored them with blue, lilac and olive green colored pencils.

On a scrap piece of the light green, I stamped this "live, laugh, love, today."  I gently sanded just the edges of each piece before assembling the card.

I just LOVE this card!  I already know who I'll be sending it to.  And I'm planning my NEXT Core'dinations card!

Cardstock:  Nostalgia stack (coredinations)
Stamps:  Hydrangea, Cherish Yesterday set (Hero Arts)
Chestnut Roan fluid chalk ink (clearsnap)
Colored pencils:  lilac, deco blue, olive green
Large Crocheted Flower Punch (Martha Stewart)


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Down to Business

The tree trimmers are here today.  It's rather exciting to watch the sawdust flying, to feel the heavy thud of limbs falling.  I watched them cut the mulberry limb my swing used to hang from, many years ago.  Good-bye to that!

It's a bit hard to settle down to business, but I'm trying.  I've been going back and forth between "Save the Date" cards I'm addressing and two doll dresses I'm putting together.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

A Matter of Pride

When I create a piece of art, such as a calligraphed poem, a lot of me goes into it.  It's not just the time clocked planning the layout, doing the math, measuring margins, running to Hobby Lobby when my ink suddenly runs out mid-word.  No, each piece becomes part of me.  Throughout the day--and often into the night--I'm thinking how to best shape this flourish, paint the flower, create this effect, blend illustration and words.

When it's done, I carefully pack each one, sandwiched in between two pieces of stiff cardboard to keep it safe.  I take it to the post office.  I track it's journey.

Yesterday, I received a message from one of my most recent customers in the UK.  She'd requested the Yeats poem illustrated with English bluebells.

She wrote:

The poem and artwork is beautiful and the gift card was a wonderful surprise!
The package made it all the way to my front door in perfect condition. Whereupon the postman bent it and forced it through the box. Its badly creased top and bottom to the point it can't be ironed out. I'll be making an official complaint tomorrow morning.

I feel bad for her. She asked for this poem, chose the illustration, paid for it and waited for it to come.  And now it isn't even fit to hang!  I also feel bad for me.  It's a piece of me that postman unwittingly destroyed.  

I'm going to make my customer a new one.  No charge.  This wasn't my fault, no, but it's a matter of pride.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Even with gorgeous new pads of paper stacked up and waiting, sometimes you just gotta use up some of those scraps--those little pieces leftover from other projects, still too good to toss.  Here are some of my most recent "scrappy" creations. 

I just now realize they're all birthday cards!  

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Saturday, August 16, 2014


These are a few of my favorite tools:
1. Sewing machine walking foot

2. Sheaffer calligraphy pens

3. Strathmore coldpress watercolor paper

4. Typewriter/laptop
5. a good c.d. repeating on the stereo (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Michael Martin Murphey, Midday Ramblers, Johnnie Ray, etc.)

6. Children's Corner patterns

7. Kneaded eraser

8. Light box

9. Derwent watercolor pencils

10. Rotary cutter and mat

11. Chestnut Roan chalk inkpad from Colorbox

12. Dark chocolate sea salt caramels!

.............What are YOUR favorite tools?...........

Friday, August 8, 2014


It's about time for the sunflowers fields in Kansas to be in full bloom again.  My cousin Becky likes to see them when she comes up visiting from Texas.  We visited the Grinter Farm near Tonganoxie in September of 2010.

 I was thinking of Becky when I created a couple of sunflower cards.

For both cards, I used Apron Dots paper from My Mind's Eye for the background.  I have a pack of Paper Studio yellow flowers that I used to make sunflowers.  Instead of attaching them with brads, as I ordinarily do, I punched a 1-inch circle from a mottled brown patterned paper and attached it with glue dots.  Made my own pattern for the flower pot and sponged it with Burnt Sienna.

Use these flowers in a different way all your own?  Share them here!

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Creating a Custom Poem

I got a request to "decorate" a poem, Cloths of Heaven by William Butler Yeats.   Reading and re-reading the poem, I pictured my calligraphy on a background of sky, with maybe the silhouette of a few grassy flowers in the foreground at the bottom.  "Make it a sunrise/sunset sky," my client suggested.  That did sound lovely.  I did the calligraphy (without a mistake the first time around!  How is that possible?) and loved this sky I created with pastels.

My client, who lives in the UK, wondered if I could make those foreground flowers be English flowers--English hyacinth or meadow buttercups.  The hyacinths are her favorites.  Looking at this poem again, I realized the sky is too dramatic to pair with a dainty flower.  

I went back to the drawing board (literally) this morning.

Which one would YOU choose?

To see more, or get your own custom calligraphed poem, visit me at

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