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SIMPLICITY Sneak Peek

April 3, 2019

Just popping in today with a little sneak peek…

Click HERE to visit our clean and simple stamping site for the full reveal, supplies, and instructions.

Learning Through Inspiration with Joan Bardee

April 2, 2019

I’m super happy to be back sharing more of my Learning Through Inspiration series on the Penny Black blog. Thank you so much for your feedback! That series, which you can find on my blog Dear Paperlicious, is all about improving my cardmaking through studying other designers’ cards. Today I’m continuing my study of Jill Foster.

JILL’S CARD

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT JILL’S CARD

  • It’s gorgeous.
  • The masked border. Jill uses this technique quite a bit and it adds a wow factor to a one-layer card.
  • The watercoloring is just amazing. Look at the blue butterfly. I enlarged the photo 5 times (I feel like a scientist using a magnifying glass!) so that I could try and figure out why it looks so delicate.

  • Now that you can see it more closely, you’ll notice that the butterfly seems transparent – you can see through one wing onto another. How does Jill achieve this? Well, feel free to ask her in the comments because I have no idea how her hand and mind work! HA. The point is – by taking the time to see what she’s done here I can at least work towards achieving the same result.
  • You can also see the large range of color from very light to dark on the wings. The details of inside of the butterfly are barely there. However, the edges are much darker. This range is something Jill mentions in her videos. I’ll repeat one tip Jill shared recently in one of her fabulous videos – don’t get overwhelmed with the light source; rather, make sure that the image has a great deal of variation in tone. That brings depth and it’s that depth that makes an image come to life.
  • Love the dots in the background. They remind me of bubbles and help the butterflies look like they are floating.
  • Rather than 3 butterflies on one color and two of another, Jill colored one butterfly blue. She “broke” the rule of threes and in doing so, made the card special.
  • The background has different colors but is done so well that the entire card looks cohesive and beautiful.

MY CARDS

WHAT I LEARNED

 

  • You can see that my top card is an attempt to pretty much copy Jill’s card. I did that because I wanted to remove the element of design from my card – all I was left with was technique.
  • So, to the extent Jill’s butterflies look different than mine, it’s not because she chose different colors or a different butterfly set. The basic card is the same. Jill’s looks different because she can color her butterflies in a way that makes them seem alive, and her multi-color background, with lots of shading, creates more movement. I tried to color my background with different colors and my wastepaper basket is now quite colorful! (Let’s just say this was effort #3).
  • So, I confirmed what I already knew — achieving a transparent look with watercolors is quite difficult.
  • Normally, I would have stamped the butterflies in black, and colored in each section of the butterflies in different colors. It was a nice change to stamp in a light color and ignore the lines inside the butterflies.
  • Making a border by masking off with tape is a great idea. It adds depth and interest, but doesn’t add bulk. And, it’s an inexpensive way to add a faux layer. I already had blue painters tape in the house. Using inexpensive non-crafting items leaves me more $$ for stamps and dies!
  • After making the top card, I realized that my butterflies weren’t coming out as nice as I wanted. So, for my second card, I used what I call the “rainbow trick.” My theory is that you can try and hide less than perfect coloring by using a rainbow theme. The eye is drawn to the range of colors rather than each butterfly.
  • I created a mask, but only on part of the butterflies. Jill uses this technique on other cards and it’s a great one.
  • If I had to do the second card over, I’d make the blue layer in the middle of the card darker in parts. Sometimes we are afraid to add to much color, but being timid didn’t work out well this time.

 

MOOD WHEN DONE: Delighted. I like both my cards. They may not be perfect, but I never aim for perfect. I aim for “better than the last time,” and for something that I would actually pop in the mail to someone.

This is my last Learning Through Inspiration post for Penny Black. Thanks so much to Penny Black for their generous gift of stamps and dies and to Jill Foster for reaching out to me and for providing endless inspiration over the years. You are a treasure.

for the products featured on the cards above

30-558 Butterfly Garden
30-552 Sending Thanks
30-238 Footnotes
30-541 Good Wishes

Supplies: Top Card: Penny Black Butterfly Garden, 30-558; Penny Black Sending Thanks, 30-552; Penny Black Footnotes; Ranger Adirondack Bright Dye Reinkers (retired); Versafine Onyx ink; waterbrush; painter’s masking tape; Arches Hot Press Watercolor Paper; moxie for publicly trying to copy one of Jill’s cards.

Bottom Card: Penny Black Butterfly Garden, 30-558; Penny Black Good Wishes, 30-541; Ranger Adirondack Bright Dye Reinkers (retired); Versafine Onyx ink; Ranger Distress Ink Tumbled Glass; Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool; waterbrush; Arches Hot Press Watercolor Paper; blue cardstock.

 

Disclaimer: From time-to-time we have guest bloggers post on our site. The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Penny Black Inc. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

Simply Timeless with Marion Vagg

April 1, 2019

Today the marvelous Marion Vagg joins us and she’s keeping things simple, bright, and fun as she creates with the stamps and dies from our Timeless collection.

Get ready to scroll… and smile!

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
30-558 Butterfly Garden
51-528 Butterfly Garden Cut Out
30-561 Special Friends
51-526 Special Friends Cut Out
30-543 Flower Teddy

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
30-545 Balloon Ride
30-558 Butterfly Garden

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
30-559 Delicate Beauty
30-447 Grateful Sentiments
30-558 Butterfly Garden

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
30-538 Irish Luck
30-457 …So Loved

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
40-682 Harmony
30-543 Flower Teddy

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
30-561 Special Friends
51-526 Special Friends Cut Out
30-558 Butterfly Garden

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
30-561 Special Friends
51-526 Special Friends Cut Out
30-558 Butterfly Garden

Runs with Scissors

March 30, 2019

Hello, Penny Black friends. Welcome to the ending of March and the anticipation of April. The worst of winter is behind us and the best of spring is ahead of us. Where I live, the trees are sprouting leaves, the daffodils have come and gone and the grass is greening up. My open windows allow the sounds of chirping birds to enter and if I forget to close the screen door, a few winged critters manage to make it inside, too.

The new appliances have taken their stainless steel places in the kitchen and have truly upped the value of that room. An added bonus: the space behind the refrigerator and range have been cleaned. I hope that counts as spring cleaning.

As beautiful as the weather has been, I have managed to spend time in my craft room playing with the latest Penny Black release, Timeless. There are so many possibilities mixing and matching the stamps and dies from this set, as well as adding in some products from earlier releases.

Signs of spring are showing up in abundance where I live and I finally spotted a robin in my backyard this week. For me, that is the official sign of spring. This bird from the Just Looking set can be colored in shades of brown, blues, reds or even yellows. I used multiple shades of brown and tan Copic markers for this card. I love that little tag stamp and die from the Lovely Birthday stamp set and the Lovely Birthday Cut Out die set. Those miniature sentiments fit perfectly on the stamped die. I’ve used the Stitched Stackers die set for borders and the Diamond Cut die to provide the perfect perch for my bird and his branch.

I chose Easter colors and the Cut and Stitch Circles die to showcase the rabbit from the Special Friends stamp set. There is a matching die for that set, too, Special Friends Cut Out, which I used to cut out the rabbit and flower. I’ve seen some awesome combinations of the images from the Special Friends set and plan to experiment more with each of the pieces.

Delicate Beauty is the appropriate name for the set that includes this flower. I gently colored it with Copic markers and allowed it to be the focus on this birthday card. Penny Black sentiment sets are always a good mix of fonts and greetings and I’ve added one from the Good Wishes set to this card. To add a little texture, I’ve used the Square Frames die as one of my borders. I have a “birthday book” for recording important birthdays which includes a pocket for each month. I tuck the right amount of birthday cards into each pocket so I am prepared for birthdays all year long. My system, however, does require checking the birthday book at the start of each month. I learned this the hard way lately!

Tai Chi

By now, most of you know that about a year ago I was diagnosed with a rare neuromuscular disease, myasthenia gravis (MG). There is some irony in the fact that it is one health condition for which exercise is the enemy. At first, I saw this as a silver lining to my MG cloud. However, after experiencing waking up many mornings feeling like I had slept folded up in a cardboard box, I realized my muscles were feeling the effects of idleness.

Knowing that vigorous exercising one day would result in serious disability the next day, I dutifully rationed out my physical activities to doing what housework I could, walking the length of a store when I chose to shop, and that old favorite, doing the laundry.

Then one day, Tai Chi entered my life. There is a man in our church congregation that has studied and practiced this Chinese martial art for more than twenty years and generously teaches a weekly class in our fellowship hall. The group was asked to demonstrate their ability for our monthly luncheon, known as Free Spirits. It was similar to the first time I was introduced to rubber stamping. I saw the grace, the fluidity and serenity and it was love at first sight. I wanted to do that.

According to the Mayo Clinic site, Tai Chi is a gentle way to fight stress. (Did I mention stress is a more serious enemy of an MG patient than exercise?)   Although it began as a martial art, it is now referred to as “meditation in motion”.   The steps are performed with no interruption between steps, accompanied by deep breathing which results in an almost ballet like continuous motion.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Tai Chi is low impact with minimal stress on muscles and joints and is generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. It is especially suitable for older adults who otherwise might not exercise. Other benefits include:

 

  • Decreased anxiety and depression
  • Improved mood
  • Improved energy and stamina
  • Improved flexibility, balance and agility
  • Improved muscle strength and definition
  • Enhanced quality of sleep
  • Enhanced immune system
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced risk of falls

 

While some of these benefits will not be mine to claim, I have already discovered how wonderful it feels to s-t-r-e-t-c-h my seldom used muscles while practicing Tai Chi. Just learning the 24 steps (of 100) that our instructor teaches and the group practices has been good exercise for my brain, too.

Improving balance is very important for seniors and Tai Chi combines the physical components needed to stay upright – leg strength, flexibility, range of motion, and reflexes. Because you are constantly shifting your weight back and forth, you get more familiar with being able to balance in a number of different positions. One of the Tai Chi instructors at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, Stanwood Chan, says it is like practicing tightrope walking on the ground.

Last week our instructor, while happy with so many new enrollees in the class due to the demo at the luncheon, realized the experienced class members were being kept from the flowing, uninterrupted performance of the steps by the constant need for verbal instruction to us “newbies”. Thus, the class was separated into two groups: those who knew what they were doing and then the group of us that were really trying, but needed extra help. Thus, we “bluebirds” went to the other side of the room with an experienced class member and practiced our “Tai Chi Walk”.

Of the 24 Steps of Tai Chi that are being taught in our class, I have attempted the first three which have names such as: Opening; Read Palms – left, right, left; and Eagle Spreads Wings. None of my performances are fluid or ballet like, but I feel privileged just to be included in the class with some of the nicest people in our congregation.

Anyone dealing with a chronic illness rejoices upon discovering a means to improve independence and overall general feelings of well being. Upon being diagnosed with a chronic illness, life changes. Many activities formerly taken for granted become impossible and adjustments to how you live your life must be made. Any opportunity to interact with healthy positive people while doing something to make you feel better is welcomed.

Our classes last for one hour and take place in the late afternoon. After not being able to complete the entire hour the first time I went, I have learned to conserve my muscle strength the morning of the Tai Chi class so I can use it to last the full hour of instruction that afternoon.

One of our class members is a woman in her eighties who has steel rods in her leg as a result of an old fracture and has also been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. She has learned all 24 steps and lasts the entire hour. She is my inspiration and the reason I can’t give up. I hope never again to be sitting in a chair while she does the Tai Chi walk around the fellowship hall.

This little guy seems to have won his bike race and deserves some recognition. I love the Cheering Critters set with its winner images. When I saw the bicycle image, I remembered the Away We Go die set that includes so many transportation dies. There is something about a bicycle die that catches my attention. You may have noticed that I am mixing and matching border dies this week. No need for naked borders anymore!

The Penny Black large sentiments and messages deserve to be a focal point, but to keep the card from being boring, I have stamped the At Grace floral stamp as a background and stamped over it with the Joy sentiment from the Sentiments stamp set. The dragon fly embellishment is from the Flutters die set, a favorite of mine.

This week’s “Encore” stamp is Bubble Heart, again another of my well loved Penny Black stamps. It is fun to color and reminds me of Evelyn and Jack. Mixing the old and the new, I used the Lovely Border die to create the frame. Are you using some of your older stamps along with the new releases? Or an older die with a newer stamp? As Mikey says, “Try it, you’ll like it.”

Cooper had a date with Christina, his groomer, last week. While he no longer trembles in fear when we enter the grooming parlor, it is not his favorite place. He hates being wet and knows that a bath is involved when he sees Christina. I always comb Cooper out the night before his grooming and last week I was talking to him as I was combing and mentioned that he would be seeing Christina the next day. Instantly, he pulled away from me and scooted under the bed!

Now it’s time to stow the scissors and tidy the studio. Once again, it’s been a joy to share my work with you. Mr. RWS, Cooper and I have enjoyed a fairly quiet time lately with no disasters, kitchen or otherwise. There is a lot to be said about peace and quiet. I hope you have spent some time viewing Jill Foster’s videos demonstrating how she creates magic with the Timeless release. Joan Bardee has used Jill’s work for inspiration, too, which inspires me to “be more like Jill.” I also find inspiration in the work you post in the Penny Circle Flickr Gallery. Your comments and stories in the comment section of the Penny Black blog encourage me greatly. Until next time, stay well and happy stamping.

Shop for today’s featured Penny Black supplies

Card No. 1: 51-416 Stitched Stackers, 51-499 Diamond Cut, 51-519 Lovely Birthday Cut Out, 40-696 Just Looking, 30-557 Lovely Birthday

Card No. 2: 51-508 Cut and Stitch Circles, 51-526 Special Friends Cut Out, 30-561 Special Friends

Card No. 3:  51-416 Stitched Stackers, 51-517 Square Frames, 30-541 Good Wishes, 30-559 Delicate Beauty

Card No. 4: 51-312 Away We Go, 51-333 Awesome, 51-375 Snowflake Stitch Frames, 51-416 Stitched Stackers, 30-549 Cheering Critters

Card No. 5: 51-006 Flutters, 40-680 At Grace, 30-544 Sentiments

Card No. 6: 51-484 Lovely Border, 40-272 Bubble Heart

 

Disclaimer: From time-to-time we have guest bloggers post on our site. The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Penny Black Inc. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

Loveliness with Loll

March 29, 2019

If you love card designs with SIMPLY beautiful layouts and unique artistic touches which take them to the next level, then you are sure to love Loll Thompson’s creative style. We’ve collected a selection of her card designs, from cute to elegant, as she inspires and explores our Timeless collection of stamps and dies.

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
40-680 At Grace
30-541 Good Wishes

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
30-543 Flower Teddy

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
30-563 Floral Silhouette
51-517 Square Frames
30-543 Flower Teddy

for the products featured on the cards above

(originally posted HERE)
30-542 Critter Celebration
30-358 Happy Snippets

for the products featured on the cards above

(originally posted HERE)
40-669 Radiant
30-560 From the Garden

Video! Timeless Top Ten #10

March 28, 2019

Thanks so much for tuning in to our Timeless Top Ten videos series! Without further ado, here’s video #10.

Watch directly on YouTube HERE.

for the products featured on the card above

51-507 Poppy Edger
30-544 Sentiments
51-528 Butterfly Garden Cut Out  

for the products featured on the card above

51-512 Tall Flowers
51-508 Cut & Stitch Circle
30-547 Grateful Sentiments

for the products featured on the card above

51-514 Abstract Flowers
51-502 Swirly Stitches
30-557 Lovely Birthday
51-519 Lovely Birthday Cut Out

Oh-So-Simple (and gorgeous!) Floral Cards

March 27, 2019

Our Timeless collection is full of gorgeous floral designs ready to bloom on your cards.

Today we welcome Milla whose oh-so-simple and oh-so-gorgeous card designs are soft, lovely, and ready to leave you inspired. We just know you will enjoy scrolling through her garden of creative delights!

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
40-666 Blooming Boots
51-525 Blooming Boots Cut Out
30-542 Critter Celebration
51-517 Square Frames
80-016 Summertime

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
40-665 Daisies
51-517 Square Frames
30-547 Grateful Sentiments
80-013 Holiday Trimmings

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
30-559 Delicate Beauty
51-518 Delicate Beauty Cut Out
30-547 Grateful Sentiments
51-499 Diamond Cut

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
40-688 Flutterby
51-502 Swirly Stitches
80-009 Painted Blooms
30-283 Snippets

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
40-668 Flutterby
30-547 Grateful Sentiments

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
30-560 From the Garden
51-522 From the Garden Cut Out
80-011 Beau Jardins
51-517 Square Frames

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
40-688 Soft Spoken
30-470 Just Believe
80-015 Wintertime

for the products featured on the card above

(originally posted HERE)
40-670 Unfolding
30-547 Grateful Sentiments
51-502 Swirly Stitches
80-008 Gentle Whisper