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Happy New Year Crazy Collage

Paper collage is a great way to use up odds and ends from your other stamping projects, but not to underestimate it, a collage can be a wonderful project in and of itself. It is a great way to explore new ideas, compositions and color schemes. Sometimes you have a big idea for what you want to create at the start, and other times, the art work emerges as you go.

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For this collage, I didn’t plan much ahead besides picking the rubber stamps I wanted to use, and having some idea that I wanted it to be festive and colorful. I had a piece of confetti paper in my stash that I wanted to be the background. Then I chose three stamps, Cow Jumped Over the Moon, Howling Dog, and Cat and the Fiddle, and stamped them on primary colored papers. Then I drew various sizes of circles around the stamped images with a stencil and cut them out, along with some small circles as well.

For the rest of the card I played with the composition, trying out different papers, colors and shapes until I found one I liked. Then I added the greeting and nursery rhyme poem in black pen, and added silver highlights.

The new year is a fun time to have a paper collage party, and is a good activity for family and friends of all ages. Have everyone bring some paper scraps, stamps, odds and ends and then put them in a big communal pile for everyone to draw from for their projects. Make as few or as many collages as you like, and share them with each other, or send them out as greetings in the new year.

Easy Rainbow Backgrounds with Pigment Ink

It is easy to make this fun card by using several brightly colored pigment inks. Using a sponge dauber, dab the applicator on the pad using the color you want and streak it along the page. Do this several times using different colors, cleaning the dauber between each color and blending the colors together as you go. Then, sprinkle on hologram embossing powder and heat with your heat gun to add a bit of shimmer.

To embellish the card, stamp and cut out Sledding, shape the paper a bit in the palm of your hand so it has a bit of dimension (see this post for more about the 3D paper craft technique), and attach to the card using foam dots so it is raised off the surface a bit. Finish with the greeting of your choice, written in a fun, decorative script:

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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

As the weather turns cooler our thoughts turn to the first snowfall, snow sports like skiing, sledding and skating, and of course lots of snow for the holidays! Send out your own wishes for lovely winter landscapes with this card, made from Pine Tree, and Girl Catching Snowflakes. The tree is stamped in opaque white pigment ink on dark card stock, and the girl is stamped on white card stock in a shade that matches the dark card stock beneath, giving the whole scene that monochromatic feel of a good snowstorm. Add your own greeting with an opaque gel pen in white. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Stamp on Metallic Paper to Add Shimmer to Your Holidays

When making Christmas Cards, I like to have a simple, elegant design that is fun, but basically foolproof so I can make lots of them and not have to fuss too much. Metallic cards and envelopes make that easy. They add a soft shimmer so even a single basic image gleams with elegance. Here are a couple of examples.

In the first card, I stamped Pine Tree with embossing ink onto silver card stock. Then I embossed the image, sprinkling dark green and white embossing powders over the image to make the tree look like it has newly fallen snow on the branches. Lastly I dabbed on a few dots of glue, and added metallic foil stars to twinkle on the tree. And that’s it! I attached it to dark green card stock to frame the image and pick up the color of the embossed tree.

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The next card is extremely simple. Stamp Stockings Hung with Care in red pigment ink on silver card stock. Attach the silver card to red card stock to frame and pick up the color of the image.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Lastly, if you can find them, metallic envelopes are a lovely final touch. Embellish them with smaller images stamped on the front and back. Here I’ve used Christmas Stocking next to the recipient’s address:

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

And on the back I’ve stamped Santa by Fireplace on the flap. If you can’t find metallic envelopes, I’d suggest picking one in a shade that matches or complements your card. Then you could stamp Santa by Fireplace on a round foil sticker, and seal the envelope with it.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Let this jolly Santa do all of your Christmas decorating for you!

This little stamp Santa with Pack is wonderfully simple and versatile. It may just be the only stamp you need this Christmas! (Of course if we are wrong about that, we have plenty more to choose from…)

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Here he is, stamped in red on white card stock. What could be simpler or easier for a Christmas Card?

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Here he is stamped on white paper for gift wrap…

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And another version of gift wrap… this is a monoprint using the stamp to lift off ink which gives a cool effect, but you could just as easily use white pigment ink on red paper to make a print that looks very close to this.

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And lastly here he is stamped in red on a cardboard tag. This would make a great gift tag, or even a Christmas tree ornament. Or, you could send it out as your Christmas card and let the person you send it to decide!

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A Spooky “Specimen” Card for Halloween

This Halloween card was inspired by a trip to a local shop that specializes in natural history that is filled with all kinds of bones, bugs and mounted specimens. Kids love it and can hardly walk by the store front without standing nose-to-glass to peer at their fabulous window display. Needless to say, with its nod to the macabre the place really comes into its own with the approach of Halloween!

To make this specimen display card, take a piece of white card stock and trim it into three strips of equal width. Next, stamp several different “spooky” images, leaving plenty of space around each one, as if you were going to mount each one for display. I used the following images by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps in black ink: Bat, Skeleton, Skeleton’s Skull, Skeleton’s Torso, and Spider.

Next, cut each strip to separate your images. Choose your desired background (mine is a marbled art paper like the kind used for book binding). Arrange your images into a pleasing grid, leaving a bit of space around each image. If you like, you can use one or more squares for a message as I’ve done below. Then add your spooky greeting. Happy Halloween!

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Make a Cutout Falling Leaf Frame

Frame cards are a great way to showcase something special – words of inspiration, a found object or a favorite photograph. To begin, select a piece of card stock in a color and texture that you like, and using a straight edge and bone folder, score a line that will be your fold line. Fold along the scored line, and trim your card to your desired size.

Next, on the inside of the front of your card, use a pencil to lightly trace the shape that you want your cutout window to be. For this example, I stamped Bluejay, cut out the image, positioned it where I wanted it, and then lightly traced with pencil around the edge of the image.bluejay_leaf_frame

Next, still using pencil, draw a guide for where you will cut. If you use a photograph or stamped image, you may want the window to be smaller than the photograph. If you are planning to use an object or written sentiment, you may want the window to be larger – it is up to you. I drew my guide to be slightly smaller than the stamped image.

Next, carefully cut out your window along your guideline. You can carefully cut with scissors, but if you are doing a shape with precise or straight edges it will probably be easier to use a paper trimmer.

To decorate the front (frame side) of the card, insert a piece of scrap paper inside the card to protect the inside from being stamped. Then stamp a design of your choice. I used Maple Leaf, and stamped it several times. Make overlapping images using two shades of pigment ink. I think the effect looks like falling autumn leaves!

Finally, attach your showcase image or object or write your sentiment inside the card so that it shows through the window on the front. When you open the card, the larger image is visible. And there you have it, a special gift with its own frame!

“Stained Glass” Look with Rubber Stamps

This stained glass look is easy to achieve! You’ll need some small thin sheets of plexiglass, which is inexpensive and easily found online. (If you can’t find the size you want you can always score and break it to your desired dimensions.)

Start by making sure the sheet is clean, and wash and dry it if necessary. Stamp your images on the plexiglass with StayzOn ink and let it dry. If you make a mistake or don’t get the image just the way you want it, you can wipe off the ink with a bit of rubbing alcohol and redo it.

Next, color the other side of the sheet with alcohol-based marker. And that’s all there is to it! Now you can use it as a decorative item, or because it is plexiglass and won’t break, you could add it to a card and send it by mail.  I stamped mine with Dogwood and Fairy 4 and set it on a window ledge to catch the evening sun:

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Thinking of You!

This easy greeting card uses Red Currant stamped in black waterproof ink, and colored with markers. There is a wide variety of good quality art markers available today, and while they can be expensive, a card like this only requires a few colors because the stamped image does a lot of the shading for you. I used two shades of green for the leaves and two others for the berries, but you could get by just as well with a single green and dark pink. I shaded the berries with a dark sienna shade which also worked well for the woody part of the stem.

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If you use a single stamp image in a composition like this, it can help to add a bit of background shading to draw the viewer’s eye towards it – especially if you are using a white background as I’ve done here. To achieve a gentle shading effect, sponge a light sepia shade around the stamped image to fill in the white areas a bit. Start very light and build up the color gradually to achieve an overall evenness. I also shaded a bit in the center of the “Thinking of you Sentiment” to match the overall value of the image and greeting focal areas.

The rest of the composition is simple. pick contrasting mat and card stock that complements the colors you’ve used, trim to your desired size, and round the edges for a softer effect.

Big, Beautiful Rubber Stamps!

At Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps, we love making really big, beautifully detailed rubber stamps. Our deep-etched process allows us to faithfully reproduce lots of detail in our rubber dies. And to show you, we stamp it ourselves right on the maple mount in indexing ink, so you know what you can expect in your own stamped images.

This stamp “Harvest” is one of our favorites. It comes from a 19th century book on gardening, and from the looks of it, they know their stuff! If my garden turned out half as well, I’d be very pleased. It stamps very well, and has so much going on in it that it is a joy to use as a straight stamped image, or embellished with color.
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For a highly detailed stamp like this, it is best to use very smooth paper. Bristol can work well, but I ended up using a hot-press watercolor paper which is also very smooth. You will get the best image by starting with a clean stamp, and inking it with a rubber brayer so that your ink will be just on the surface of the stamp, rather than filling up the crevasses. Here is my stamped image:

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I think it is beautiful and could be used just like that! However, I wanted to color it, and make it into a special card. If you decide to do the same, you have a few options. If you stamp very light (either by using a light color of ink, or using a second impression), you will have all of the outlines you need, but will need to do a lot of the shading yourself. If you do a darker image like I have here, the stamp will do the shading for you, and you just need to be sure to preserve the highlights. Next, I colored the image with Prismacolor pencils, which allow you to layer and blend colors:

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As I got to coloring, I realized this is a fantasy image! What is holding all of those vegetables in place, stacked up as they are?!! But I just went with it, reveled in the abundance of it all, and colored in the shadows underneath that big cabbage and the pumpkins and the squash, leaving the magic of it all to the viewer’s interpretation.

Much of the “action” of this image happens at the plane closest to the viewer, but the image does have the suggestion of a background (the field and trees beyond). You can add a bit of depth by shading this background in lighter, cooler colors than you use to shade the foreground vegetables.

I trimmed and matted the image on a contrasting burgundy color (the same color I used to reinforce the shadows in the image), and made the base of the card out of folded, trimmed cardstock.  I like adding the element of a ribbon – the dark blue of the card and the gold ribbon suggests “First Place” at the county fair!

I applied the gold ribbon horizontally so that the viewer’s eye is encouraged to move around the image, back and forth from right to left along the horizontal line. The more the eye explores, the more interesting and enjoyable your design will be to the viewer.

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Lastly, to finish the card and give it a polished look, I trimmed two pieces of linen paper and tacked them into the inside top and bottom which is where a note could be written. On the bottom, I stamped Lettuce in a bright, leafy green.