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Make a Back-to-School Chalkboard Card

In late summer, every now and then you catch a whiff of autumn in the air, and you know it is almost time for school to start. Poor kids! How they miss their summer fun. But there’s new school clothes to buy, and supplies, old friends to see again, and maybe some new ones. Maybe the new school year will bring the adventure of a new teacher, or even a new school.

Here is a fun card to make. Actually it is rather big for a card, but sometimes you have to just go for it – the card will be what it wants to be! You can always make it smaller if you want something more mail-friendly. For the image, I stamped and colored School Days by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps, and cut out around the main figures in the image.

For the chalkboard, I used the technique for making pastel paper described in this previous post, but using black acrylic paint in the paint/ground mixture. After it is dry, “cure” it a bit by rubbing a piece of white chalk over the surface, and brushing it off to give it an authentic chalkboard appearance. Then you can draw on it with chalk, and make whatever kind of design or message you wish. To get a fine line, I used a white pastel pencil so the writing really is chalk! I don’t normally spray my pastel drawings, but this one seemed likely to smear and so I gave it a light coat of matte acrylic spray.

Compose and mat your image however you like. For the cut-out image, I used spray adhesive to get good coverage. I had some scrapbook paper with an autumn-leaf pattern that I liked, and so used that. The blue card stock adds to the primary-color feel of the finished design, and picks up some of the blues in the children’s clothing in the stamped image.

Did you notice the little girl in front is proudly carrying her chalk slate?

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

The Pleasure of Coloring

One of the great enjoyments I get from rubber stamping is the chance to sit down and color. The lines provide the structure, and the patterns provide the shading, so really all you need do is focus on the creative color-making. It’s wonderfully relaxing, and you can do it while sitting and talking, or thinking…it can even be meditative. Plus as an adult you get lots more options than when you were a kid! Crayons of course, but also colored pencils, markers, watercolors…you name it.

The focus of this card is really the colored image, and I took my time over it and really enjoyed the making of it. I stamped the Roller Skating image in waterproof black ink on cold-pressed watercolor paper. I used cold-pressed paper because it has a smooth surface, like bristol paper, so the details of the image would show up well. Then I added watercolor, let it dry, and trimmed the image from the larger page.

For the background paper, I chose a light moss-green textured sheet, and stamped it several times with Lilac in a sepia tone. This gives a mottled, verdant look, without stealing attention away from the colored image. This I matted on a piece of white card stock, and this again on dark navy cardstock creased in half with a bone folder. Having lots of layers gives the card texture and visual interest. Lastly, I added a bit of tartan plaid ribbon.

With the major elements of the card established, I can play with composition. I want the focus of the whole card to be the child in front, balancing on roller skates with her arms wide open. I colored her coat red so that it also would stand out from the mostly greens and blues behind her. Using the “Rule of Thirds” I placed her on the upper-right point, while all of the background papers remain centered on the card. Then I aligned the tartan ribbon so that it would run along the upper third dividing line, reinforcing the horizontal spread of the child’s arms. The ribbon acts as a kind of virtual guard rail for your eyes…you aren’t worried that she will fall, and the card as a whole is restful and playful, rather than tense.

My goodness, I remember my first roller skates had metal wheels, and how they squeaked and scraped as I rolled over the cement sidewalk. That was tough enough – I can hardly imagine using them on cobblestones! I’d say a good sentiment for this card would be one of playful encouragement, and perhaps the confidence that things will improve in the future. After all, now we have roller scooters and rollerblades, not to mention skate parks!

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Make this Quick Card to Congratulate Your Graduate!

This time of year, many of our friends and family are crossing an important landmark in their lives…graduation! Many children now celebrate graduation from preschool and elementary school, and recently a very accomplished woman in Germany received her doctorate at 102 years old. No matter what age, everyone likes to have an important event in their lives celebrated and appreciated, and a very appropriate way to do so is to send a card. Of course one that you make yourself is an especially nice touch, and you can always tuck a little something inside, like a gift card or money to recognize their accomplishment.

Here is a card that is very easy to make.  The style is simple but elegant, just like that diploma they recently received! Stamp Professor Owl by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps on crisp white card stock. Crop it as needed, but leave plenty of white space around the image.  Now find a piece of red card stock, and trim it to be slightly larger than the white card you just stamped on. Cut four diagonal slits in the corners, and tuck in corners of the stamped card. Now find a ribbon with a bit of gold in it, something that looks collegiate. The easiest way to tack it on is to use a bit of spray adhesive, and then tuck the ends around the back side of the red card.

Now find a piece of black card stock, and fold it in half so it will be slightly larger than the red card. If you use a bone folder, and score the paper before you fold it, your fold should look neat and crisp. Run the bone folder along the fold to flatten it. Crop it as needed, and mount the red card on top with adhesive squares.  And there you are! Choose your own sentiment, or use this one:  Hoo hoo whoooo graduated?  (Inside) You did! Congratulations!

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Using Your Rubber Stamps in Collage

If you enjoy collage, you will find a lot of uses for your rubber stamps. And, if you haven’t tried cardmaking yet, I highly recommend it.  You may find it is the perfect way to experiment with new techniques or showcase small art, plus when you are done, you can mail it off to a friend!

For this project, I was actually experimenting with a tiny monoprint of a hand-drawn squirrel. I wasn’t planning to use it for anything in particular but I liked how it turned out. So I let it dry, and colored it with Prismacolor pencils to the point I thought I could make something out of it. After spending the time on it, I figured, why not use it for a card?

So I dug into my craft papers, and found some “woodsy” selections – papers with lots of fibers in them that produced interesting textures. I moistened and tore the red fiber paper so it would come out with a ragged edge. Then I cut the delicate white paper in a broad strip. Trying different ways layer and position them, I found a composition that I liked. But I needed something to tie it all together to form the base of the card.

Digging in my paper stash again, I found a piece of black card stock. Folded in half, it worked well as a card base, and I liked the dark background, but it needed something to give it visual interest. So I went to my stamps, and found the perfectly “woodsy” one for my project – Pine Bough with Cones, by Nature’s Blessings.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

I chose silver pigment ink to match the bright value of the piece of delicate white paper, and stamped the image several times around the edge of the card, layering the images and changing their angle each time so the effect would be more like a close up of a pine tree, rather than a single branch, repeated. Sometimes I stamped twice before re-inking so the second image would be lighter, and appear to be farther away.

Then I attached the three pieces of paper with spray adhesive (this worked especially well with the delicate white paper, since any thing else I had would either tear the paper, or show through its fibers). As a final touch, I cut a piece of thick jute twine, tied it into a bow, and pulled the plied fibers apart and teased them a bit to soften their appearance. A little dab of E6000 adhesive tacked it down.

And here is the finished project, which started off as an experimental doodle!

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

 

Mother’s Day is May 10! Make a Card for Mom

Mother’s Day is coming up! Here is a card you can make and give mom from the Nature’s Blessings “quick card” department (they don’t call us Sonic Stampers for nothing!). When you don’t have a lot of time, I find you can usually make a great card by using a single stamp as a focal image.

For my focal image, I chose Lily of the Valley by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps. Lily of the valley (also known as muguet) is a flower with a sweet heady fragrance. Its flowers are shaped like a cascade of tiny bells. It blooms right around Mother’s Day in the Northern Hemisphere (second Sunday in May), and is seen as a sign of spring. It is often used in spring weddings.

To start with, you’ll want to dig into your stash of papers and embellishments. Layers of art paper trimmed to size, in contrasting colors and textures, will add interest and do a lot of the design work for you. Start by stamping and coloring your focal image. This will help you decide what kinds of papers you want to use.

I stamped Lily of the Valley in a light gray, and then colored it with Prismacolor Pencils, which layer and blend together beautifully. It came out soft and delicate, so I chose pink contrasting paper to go with it, along with a sheet of decorative paper lace.

I wrote “Mother” in pink pencil, and for a finishing touch, embossed the bells of the lily and the word “Mother” with pearlescent embossing powder. A touch of glitter for a bit of sparkle would have worked well too.

And here it is!  Happy Mother’s Day!

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

3 Easy Ombré Techniques with Rubber Stamps

Ombré, where one color gradually fades or transitions to another color, is very popular right now in beauty, fashion and decorative arts. The ombré look is also very easy to achieve with your rubber stamps, and I’ll show you several techniques here. The easiest technique is simply to stamp your image multiple times without re-inking the stamp.  The image will fade a bit with each impression, as shown here using Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps Butterfly:

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Another technique uses a brayer and piece of linoleum to achieve an ombré background.  Take a rubber stamp pad (I find that a pigment pad works best for this) and press it several times onto the linoleum so that you have plenty of pigment to work with. Keep the pigment to one half of the linoleum surface.  Then, take your brayer and roll it over the linoleum so that you coat just one half of it. Make sure you have good coverage all around the circumference of the brayer, and that the coverage is even.

Now, position the brayer just off the edge of your card so the edge of the brayer won’t leave an obvious line on it. Run the brayer back and forth, slowly working your towards the center of the paper so that the amount of pigment transferred to the paper is gradually reduced. You may need to practice a bit to achieve this evenness. I find that moving fully across the card each time, and picking up your brayer after each movement keeps the brayer rolling, reducing lines or other artifacts.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

 

Now you can use it as a background. Here I’ve made it into a card by stamping an image onto it, using the same color ink I rolled onto the card with the brayer. The stamp image is Peony by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

The third technique also uses the brayer and the linoleum. This time you will add two colors, one on each side of the linoleum. Run the brayer across the surface of the linoleum, blending the two colors a bit in the middle. Next, using the brayer with the two colors on it, ink a stamp. I’m using the Peony stamp again here. Try not to move the brayer from side to side, just back and forth across the stamp from top to bottom. This way the blended colors will be transferred to the rubber surface of the stamp, just as you put them on your brayer.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Now turn the stamp over, and press it onto the surface of your project. I decided to use silver card stock, since it has a light sheen and medium value, and really showcases the ombré image. I think it would make a beautiful wedding invitation!

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps