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Sketch Inspiration VIDEOS!

May 14, 2019

Today we welcome Jill Foster as she explores the creative possibilities of our Full Bloom collection along with card sketches to get your creative mojo flowing.

Are you ready for not one, but TWO, videos?

Watch directly on YouTube HERE.

for the products featured on the cards above

30-583 Be Happy
30-581 Full Bloom
51-535 Stitched Nested Frames
51-540 Friendship Cut Out
51-002 Leaves
51-308 Bold Branch

Watch directly on YouTube HERE.

for the products featured on the cards above

51-422 Stitched Square and Circles
30-536 Blushing
51-536 Blushing Cut Out
30-571 Peaceful Time
51-532 Peaceful Time Cut Out
30-562 Golden Dance
51-533 Golden Dance Cut Out
51-002 Leaves
30-542 Critter Celebration
30-547 Grateful Sentiments

And before you go, don’t miss this…

Click HERE for the full reveal.

Simply Cute & Tiny Critters

May 13, 2019

Today Patti Kehl is keeping things simple and cute as she creates with our newest collection, Full Bloom.

To amp up the cuteness factor, Patti has designed cards where the focus is on the tiny critters from our transparent stamp set, 30-553 It’s Your Day, and 51-537 …Your Day Cut Out.

for the products featured on the card above

30-553 It’s Your Day
51-537 …Your Day Cut Out

for the products featured on the card above

30-553 It’s Your Day
51-537 …Your Day Cut Out

for the products featured on the card above

30-553 It’s Your Day
51-537 …Your Day Cut Out
51-509 Stitched Sentiment
51-440 Elegant Stitching
25-007 Dotlets

for the products featured on the card above

30-553 It’s Your Day
51-537 …Your Day Cut Out
30-555 Family Sentiments

Runs with Scissors

May 11, 2019

As Robin might say to Batman, “Holy month of May, Batman!” – as in “faster than a speeding bullet”. May is almost half gone – the days whizzing by like no January day ever whizzes. Everyone loves dear May; the month of flowers, sunshine and new growth. May is a time for graduations, weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions. The weather is perfect for outdoor celebrations and family gatherings.

May is also the perfect time to use the Full Bloom release by Penny Black to make cards for all the special occasions that May brings. The cards I made this week almost made themselves: so many ideas – so little time.

Seriously, my heart rate went up a bit when I saw the Be Happy transparent set. It is a unique, contemporary collection of plant and animal images that can be used in countless ways. Of course, the zebra appealed to my love of black and white and keeping it simple. The Square Frames die keeps the zebra confined to his space and complements his black and white stripes. I think he really is “Super Magical”.

Like all Penny Black releases, the Full Bloom release includes enough styles to please everyone. I’ve masked the edges of my card and created a small outdoor background for this sweet fairy from the Beautiful Day mini set. I added a fluffy cloud from the Silver Linings die set to create a perfect summer day. I love coloring the sweet feminine fairy images in this release.

Forgive me, but I had to color one more animal image from the Be Happy transparent set. This time it’s a turtle and to keep him from walking off the card, I added the Square Frames border again. That turtle may move slowly, but eventually that Big Hug will reach its intended friend.


May in the South is the month for graduations. Students begin classes here in August and finish the school year in May. This May our Atlanta granddaughter, Lauren, is finishing her high school career and graduates on May 18th . I have found it hard to believe our Lauren is old enough to graduate, but we received the invitation and her Mom sent photos so it must be true.

How quickly the years have gone. I’m not sure I’ve fully processed the fact her Dad, my number 4 child, graduated high school, then college, then an advanced degree! Actually, I think I am still processing my own high school graduation, which took place many years ago.

I have shared with you that my father was in the Army and we were stationed in Vicenza, Italy for the last two years of my high school career. For my Junior year, our school was located in Verona, Italy in a converted shoe factory and we traveled by train back and forth every day. While this may seem exciting or even exotic, it quickly became our routine and the time spent traveling was just more time hanging out with friends.

Our Junior high school class was made up of five of us and our Senior class grew to 17 the next year. The converted shoe factory in Verona (scene of Romeo and Juliet) was replaced by a brand new American school in Vicenza. We did the best with the few students we had to schedule a Home Coming, a Junior and Senior Prom and a Year Book committee. We couldn’t manage a football team, but we played basketball and soccer with enthusiasm.

The invited speaker for our graduation was Clare Boothe Luce, the United States Ambassador to Italy and wife of the publisher of Time Magazine. Up until a few months before graduation I was the Valedictorian of our small class; that is, until a sweet, loveable and very smart girl named Lila became a part of our class and had a higher grade point average than I did. I couldn’t even feel badly about it as she was so kind and fun and humble and truly deserved the honor. And ranking second still qualified me for a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin.

I can close my eyes and picture the auditorium, the chairs filled with friends and family with a section reserved for our school band. The notes of Pomp and Circumstances bounced off those auditorium walls and raised goose bumps under our blue caps and gowns.

“Army Brats” are used to farewells. Parents were transferred frequently and sometimes the good-byes were not so far from the hellos. But this time, the good-byes were different; we wouldn’t be leaving Italy with our parents. Most of us would be traveling on our own back to the United States and the college of our choice. As it turned out, a few of us would either remain in contact or find each other on Facebook many years later.

I remember being very shocked when I saw photos of former classmates that included grey hair, beards or balding heads. I am sure they were just as shocked to see my photos, too. I was not exempt from the aging process! We were never able to put together a reunion as the military would not share contact information or permanent addresses of our classmates’ parents. I like to believe that we all went off into the future and made good lives for ourselves. After all, it’s my daydream and I choose a “happy ever after” for all of us.

Lauren’s high school has a tradition of asking friends and family to write each graduate a letter, not only of congratulations, but sharing wisdom and offering encouragement. It was a joy to write a letter to our beautiful granddaughter. There wasn’t much I could add to the wonderful upbringing she experienced. She has great friends, has been a member of an athletic cheer team for years, has traveled, has learned responsibility and compassion and kindness. Those attributes mean more than a grade point, although she succeeded in that area, too.

I just reminded Lauren to remember her roots as she tests her wings; to know that she has a family that loves her greatly; and to always say “please” and “thank you”.   Oh, yes, and now that she has committed to attending the University of Alabama, she must be prepared to “Roll Tide”!

If you are in the mood for a romantic card, begin with the Golden Dance image, add pink and some hearts from the Lovely Border die set along with the dome from the Lovely Birthday cut out die set. I’m sure these flowers are lovely done in gold tones, but the pink works for me this time.

This time my heart slowly melted when I saw the adorable Mama elephant and her baby from the Love and Cuddles transparent set. What a perfect image for a Mother’s Day card, new baby card or a little one’s birthday card. The elephants are great fun to color and I’ve ordered refills for my grey toned Copics just to make sure I don’t run out of elephant colors!

Obviously, I am still thinking polka dots! The middle layer of this card has been stamped using the Dotlets stencil in order to add some fun to this Berry Fairy. I struggled with coloring the fairy’s wings until I realized I could emboss them in gold. It’s been a good week: black and white zebra card and a red and white polka dot fairy card! Have I mentioned this release has something for everyone?

bushes are bursting with blossoms. Cooper doesn’t waste time on worry or regrets. He lives in the now, waking up each morning surprised and excited that he has an entire new day ahead. In his food focused brain, that means three meals and a couple of treats to enjoy. Cooper is a creature of routine. He may not wear a Smart Watch, but he really doesn’t need one. He knows when That Woman should be in the kitchen cooking, when the supper is to take place and when it is finished. After our evening meal, we gather around the television so Mr. RWS and I can watch Jeopardy and Cooper can enjoy his play and cuddling time. Cooper loves to have his hair combed, his teeth brushed (something to do with the chicken flavored toothpaste) and a brief session of Tug O’ War with his favorite toys. He and I snuggle until Jeopardy is over and he then asks to go outside for one more time, laps up a generous amount of water and then puts himself to bed. If we have left out any part of his routine, he will not settle down for his nightly snooze.

Mr. RWS and I will be off to Atlanta next week for granddaughter Lauren’s high school graduation. Atlanta traffic is the stuff to make nightmares, but it would take more than that to keep us away. Like all grandparents, we are proud of our graduate and proud of her parents who did such a great job of parenting. When Lauren goes off to the University of Alabama this fall, her brother Andrew will be entering his senior year of high school and will be the “only child” in residence.

I’ve stowed the scissors, packed up the stamps and dies and cleaned my craft space. I want to leave things tidy in case Joan Bardee returns with another of her “Inspired By” posts. Joan has an amazing eye for details and is brave enough to step out of her comfort zone to emulate the Penny Black designers. She inspires me to do better and to analyze my own work for ways to improve.

Until I see you again, be sure to share your work in the Penny Circle Flickr Gallery where it can inspire us all.


Shop for today’s featured Penny Black supplies

Card No. 1: 30-544 Sentiments, 30-583 Be Happy, 51-517 Square Frames

Card No. 2: 30-576 Beautiful Day, 51-033 Silver Linings

Card No. 3: 30-574 Special Sentiments, 30-583 Be Happy, 51-517 Square Frames

Card No. 4: 30-562 Golden Dance, 51-484 Lovely Border, 51-519 Lovely Birthday Cutout, 51-533 Golden Dance Cut Out

Card No. 5: 30-556 Love and Cuddles, 30-557 Lovely Birthday, 51-495 Stars and Circles

Card No. 6: 30-567 Berry Fairy, 51-416 Stitched Stackers, 25-007 Dotlets

VIDEO! Gimme 5 with Therese Calvird

May 10, 2019

We’re excited to welcome back Therese Calvird today as she explores all of the creative possibilities of our Special Friends stamp and die set.

30-561 Special Friends and 51-526 Special Friends Cut Out

Are you as impressed and as inspired as us? Just wait until you watch the video…

Watch directly on YouTube HERE.

for the products featured on the cards above

30-561 Special Friends
51-526 Special Friends Cut Out
40-679 Rose Garden
30-532 Love Sentiments
30-455 Smitten
30-283 Snippets
51-517 Square Frames
51-484 Lovely Border
51-470 Cut Out Wreath

SIMPLE Cards for Boys

May 9, 2019

Sons, grandsons, brothers, teachers… looking for cards for boys? Patti Kehl has you covered with these fabulous clean and simple card ideas featuring stamps and dies from our newest Full Bloom collection.

To begin Patti has created a pair of cards featuring our miniature transparent set, 30-554 …Star, and exact match die 51-543 …Star Cut Out.

No need for complicated coloring or backgrounds… light and airy works for “boy” cards, too, with these color schemes and card layouts.

for the products featured on the card above

30-554 …Star
51-543 …Star Cut Out
51-541 Number 1 Cut Out

for the products featured on the card above

30-554 …Star
51-543 …Star Cut Out
51-541 Number 1 Cut Out

Now, have you noticed that you can personalize the trophy from our miniature transparent set, 30-537 Number 1 (with exact match die 51-541 Number 1 Cut Out)?

for the products featured on the card above

30-537 Number 1
51-541 Number 1 Cut Out

And finally, let any of your favorite dudes know you are there for them with our miniature transparent set, 30-566 Friendship, and exact match die set 51-540 Friendship Cut Out.

for the products featured on the card above

30-566 Friendship
51-540 Friendship Cut Out
51-490 Which Way to Love

Learning Through Inspiration with Joan Bardee

May 8, 2019

In today’s episode of Learning Through Inspiration, it’s me v. colored pencils! They may look innocent, and remind you of your easy kindergarten days of coloring with crayons, but do not be fooled. These sharpened bits of color:

*Break, (even the ones that aren’t supposed to break, are sitting on my desk broken),

*Are hard to blend,

*Don’t work well on smooth cardstock, and

*Need lots of sharpening.

On the other hand:

*I already own them! (you probably do too),

*They work on dark cardstock, and

*You can get a good workout coloring with them!

I’ve used color pencils before. In fact, my first Learning Through Inspiration post uses colored pencils on colored cardstock. But I have much to learn. So, I’m continuing my study of the masterful Heather Telford by focusing on her use of colored pencils. (By the way, Heather lives in Canada and uses “coloured” rather than “colored.” Since I’m in the US, I’m sticking to the US version of the word, but I rather like Heather’s version!).

I’ve found by studying others’ cards I can figure out what they are doing that appeals to me and apply it to my own cardmaking. Let’s see what happened when I tried to learn something about colored pencils from Heather…



*Black cardstock!! I almost always use a white card base and I just love this unusual look.

*Look at the birdcages in Heather’s first card. Heather managed to color them with pencils and still have a lot of areas highlighted with white and light blue – and she did that on black cardstock!

*And, look at the poppy in the second card! It’s stunning! Hard to believe that Heather achieved that rich smooth color with pencils.

*Heather matted her main image with cardstock in her first card, and, for her second card, ink-blended a mat. I need to use mats more often.

*Love the interesting die treatment on the top of the black card. I don’t have that die but it is a great way to add a sentiment.



*You need the right paper to color with pencils. Smooth paper – such as Neenah Solar White – doesn’t work well with colored pencils, at least not for me. The paper needs some “tooth” for the pencils to grab. (My second card uses a pale gray cardstock, not white.)

*It’s worth the time and supplies to test your pencils (and embossing powder) on the cardstock you will use. Colored pencils that are close in color will look very different on the same cardstock. And the same pencils will give a completely different look on different dark cardstocks. I wasted a lot of time and supplies before I figured this out.

*Continue to sharpen your pencils as you color!

*Heather didn’t use a blending solution and neither did I. I didn’t have Gamsol, or any other blender, and am too cheap to buy some (I try to spend most of my crafting $$ on stamps, dies, and stencils). So, I colored most of each leaf or flower with a lighter pencil, added shading with a darker pencil, and then colored again with the lighter pencil over most of the image. This technique worked better on larger images, like the leaves in the second card.

*Coloring very small images with colored pencils is particularly difficult.

*Did I get the same results as Heather? No — I don’t have Heather’s talented hands. But my technique improved.

*For my first card, I chose a dark green card base simply because I never use green cardstock and learning is a great time to experiment (a little nerve wracking experimenting on the Penny Black blog, but I’m having fun). Speaking of fun, aren’t the flowers from Flower Fantasy, used in both cards, gorgeous?

*Matted the colored panel onto gold cardstock and then onto a white card base. If I had to do it again, I’d make the stamped panel smaller in order to show off more of the gold mat. I thought about it, but I had spent so much time coloring those flowers that I hated to cut off more of the design. That was probably not the best decision.

*For my second card, I wanted to try a lighter card base and my attempts to color on white were dismal. So, I paired a pale gray cardstock with a combination of red and pink pencils. Decided to trim the panel and adhere to a white card base without any additional matting. I’m still working on getting those layers perfectly lined up!


MOOD WHEN DONE: While I wasn’t able to achieve the smooth look that Heather achieved, I enjoyed using my pencils and might take them out again soon. “Might” because it took forever to make these cards.

On the other hand (HA), I love the look of colored pencils on darker cardstock. Add a few jewels, and that top card reminds me of rich Indian fabric. However, if I want a light card base, I’ll probably stick with watercolors or alcohol markers.

I continue to be so grateful to Jill Foster and Penny Black for providing me with some gorgeous stamps and dies, and the opportunity to share here on the Penny Black blog. And I’m grateful to Heather for providing so much inspiration!

Finally, thanks to all of you who have taken the time to comment. I appreciate those comments very much! I’ll be back with more Heather Telford inspired work.

for the products featured on Joan’s cards above

Card One Supplies: Penny Black Flower Fantasy, 30-565; Penny Black Sympathy Sentiments, 30-582; green, white, and gold cardstocks; Wow Metallic Gold Rich Superfine Embossing Powder; Versamark ink; Prismacolor Pencils: True Blue, Aquamarine, and Non Photo Blue; gold jewels; time.

Card Two Supplies: Penny Black Flower Fantasy; 30-565; Penny Black Butterfly Garden, 30-558; gray and white cardstocks; Prismacolor Pencils: Process Red, Crimson Red, and Pink Rose; Versafine Onyx ink; clear jewels.

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.

Simplicity Sneak Peek

May 7, 2019

Just popping in today with a little sneak peek from our clean and simple stamping site…

Click HERE for the full reveal.