Mar 20, 2019

Winners of the RBG Birthday Blog Hop!

The following people won prizes!

Kelly Purkey set: Cornelia 
Kelly Purkey set: Glennis 

Hero Arts set: SmilynStef 
Hero Arts set: Helen Kolb 

Congratulations and please email me your full names and addresses. My email is  If I do not hear from you in the next few days I will have to track you down and I will leave a trail of glitter on your doorstep...

Mar 19, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Jill Foster (Day One)

My Learning Through Inspiration series continues today on the Penny Black blog. You can find my post here. Would love if you checked it out. Here's a snippet of the card I made inspired by the card artist Jill Foster.

I  had recently purchased a bunch of Penny Black stamps in anticipation of doing a series on the amazing Jill Foster when Jill reached out to me on behalf of Penny Black to do a series on its blog. Thanks so much to Jill and Penny Black for providing me with additional new products from its Timeless series.

I'll be back on the Penny Black blog two more times, but I'll be sharing a lot more Penny Black here.

If you are new to my blog, welcome. You can find more about this series here.

A New Series: Learning Through Inspiration
Learning Through Inspiration: Yana Smakula (Day One)
Learning Through Inspiration: Yana Smakula (Day Two)
Learning Through Inspiration: Yana Smakula (Day Three)
Learning Through Inspiration: Laura Bassen (Day One)
Learning Through Inspiration: Laura Bassen (Day Two)
Learning Through Inspiration: Laura Bassen (Day Three)
Learning Through Inspiration: Natasha Valkovskaya (Day One)
Learning Through Inspiration: Natasha Valkovskaya (Day Two)
Learning Through Inspiration: Jill Foster (Day One) on Penny Black blog

MOOD WHEN DONE: EEEK. I'm pretty excited. I love writing and I love stamping and the opportunity to write in my own voice on a company blog has been a goal of mine. And for it to be Penny Black is a super dream come true! I hope you enjoy the series.

Mar 15, 2019

Happy Birthday Justice Ginsburg

Today is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's 86th birthday and, along with a few friends, we are celebrating with a little blog hop and giveaway!

My reasons for wanting to participate in this blog hop are below. But before the chat -- the card and the hop!

Isn't this fun? The PERFECT set.

Used Kelly Purkey's Wonderful Women set, which Kelly kindly sent to me. (Honestly, I wasn't super familiar with Kelly's stamp designs but once I saw them, I now have another wish list! I think my favorite is Littles.)

Made the background with a stamp from Flora & Fauna's Texture Two (I cut the stamp to get the size I wanted) and stamped with Wild Honey, Picked Raspberry and Wilted Violet Distress Oxide inks.

Blog Hop and Giveaway

Here's a list of the other wonderful women participating in this Happy Birthday hop.

Joan Bardee (me)
Michele Ferguson 

Kelly Purkey and Hero Arts each donated 2 stamps sets for us to give away. Hero Arts donated Dare to Dream and Kelly Purkey donated 2 copies of Wonderful Women (link above). Thank you!  

Winners will be chosen from all the comments on the hop made through March 19th, 11:59ET.  Winners will be announced on this blog and Coni Longley's blog a few days later. 

Why Celebrate Justice Ginsburg's Birthday?

Of course I've known who Justice Ginsburg is since she was sworn in on the Supreme Court, and perhaps a little before then.

But I really never gave her much thought, and I didn't know anything about her -- until I saw On The Basis of Sex. I was stunned to find myself crying through the whole movie. The movie has some sad and difficult moments, and it has a David v Goliath theme, but it isn't what I would call a tear jerker.  

So why cry through the whole movie?

The concept of "equality" is a bit of a fiction. We are all born into vastly different circumstances -- some die from a lack of medical care shortly after birth; others live as princes. And throughout our lives, things happen that result in an uneven playing field. A job applicant with no way to get to the interview, a kid who has to take care of her siblings because her parents are addicted to drugs, a foster child, a child who gets cancer, a victim of a crime -- a million things happen over which we have no control.

Life is unfair and makes for an uneven playing field.

But the one thing that shouldn't stand in the way of opportunity, of jobs, or access to school, or a place to live -- is our law. We may not be able to fix all, or even most, of life's problems, our laws shouldn't make life harder.

Ruth Ginsburg argued that a law that prevented a man who was taking care of his sick mother from using from a tax break only because he was male should be struck down as discrimination on the basis of gender.

She won and that was huge. She leveled the playing field for men who wanted to stay home and take care of a sick parent.

That case, shown in the movie, reminded me of the battles that have been fought over the years by Justice Ginsburg and others like her to make sure our laws don't make our lives harder than they already are.

I didn't cry during the movie because I've faced sex discrimination in my life (I have, but I dealt with it). Rather, it reminded me of other, more difficult battles, that I overcame, but only with help from others. The movie's portrayal of one woman overcoming her own personal battles and fighting for others reminded me of those battles and those victories. Thus, the happy and wistful tears.

Most of us just take care of our own business every day. But people like Justice Ginsburg fight for others. We need those people. They do the heavy lifting for the rest of us.

Thank you, Justice Ginsburg and I hope you are having a wonderful birthday.


Edited to add:  Kelly Purkey has a freebie related to RGB in her newsletter today. You can find it here

Mar 13, 2019

Thinking About Sentiments

I love this sentiment from Right at Home's Grateful Heart. I used it along with Mondo Magnolia, designed by Julie Ebersole for Ellen Hutson, to make this quick card.

I'm very picky about sentiments. I have to believe them to use them -- which is why you will rarely see me using a sentiment that says something along the lines of "everything will be all right" or "all you need is love" when it is clear we need a lot more than love. I understand the kind intent behind sentiments like this, but there are many times when everything is not all right or we really need an antibiotic or a reinker. Reality!

I almost feel this way about this sentiment. Gratitude doesn't change everything. It doesn't cure cancer or heart disease or famine or the problem with airplanes falling out of the sky. But gratitude sure helps (a lot) to cope with bad things. The older I get the more I hang on to gratitude.

So I'm voting yes for "gratitude changes everything" even though it doesn't really. And yes, this is how my brain works -- as my mom once said to me "you think way too much about stuff that doesn't matter." 


Mar 11, 2019

Christmas Layered Poinsettias

Love the look of layered stamps, but I still find it hard to line up most floral images. That's why I love the Penny Black series of brushstroke stamps. If you use them with a stamp positioner, like the MISTI or Tim Holtz one, layering is a breeze.

To make this card, I followed the suggestions that Jill Foster makes in her videos on using these stamps -- use small ink cubes or dye markers and a stamp positioner.  For each set of flowers I colored the image with a lighter Tombow marker followed by the darker one on some parts of the flowers. Because the stamp stays in the positioner, you can add the darker layer effortlessly. I did the same for the leaves with 2 green markers. Used a gold pen to add some color to the center of the flowers.

I did not add any water, but misting the stamp while inked, or painting with a slightly wet brush, will give a more watercolored look. Both styles are gorgeous.

Supplies:  Penny Black Le Fleur Rouge (I've held on to this beauty for a while and will not be getting rid of it!); Penny Black Yuletide Wishes; Tombow Markers 803, 856, 249, and 133; Arches hot press watercolor paper; Versafine Onyx ink; gold pen.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Very happy! My minor hand surgery went fine and I only missed a couple of days of stamping.

Plus, I love this card and now I have ONE Christmas card done for 2019. Thanks to my friend Leslie Miller for inspiring me to get started early on Christmas.

Mar 5, 2019

Winner of Giveaway

I had my husband pick a number and he chose #3! So, Ginger Na is the winner of my box of supplies.  Ginger, please email me at and I'll get the box out to you.

Thanks everyone for playing. Loved reading your crafty wish lists! 

Mar 4, 2019

Using Older Products

Every six months or so I go through all my craft supplies and decide what to keep. This is the only way I feel comfortable with the hobby. I don't like things that I cannot find or a big mess. I do the same thing with my clothes and kitchen stuff. Inevitably, I find things that I forgot I had -- it's like shopping with no cost!

This weekend I found 2 dies -- this ornate frame (manufacturer unknown) from Altenew's New Day Card Kit, and this beautiful flower and leaves die from Penny Black -- and decided it was time to use them or giveaway. Using them won. Thank you to several folks who identified the die! It's a keeper.

I originally die cut a gold glitter frame and wanted to make a few layers to adhere together. I used an Altenew Chocolate Brown alcohol marker to color a white frame to put behind the glitter one (I didn't want white peeking out). The colored frame looked a little like wood and I decided to use it this way (I made 2 layers.)

Die cut the flowers and leave from the backside of some hotpress watercolor paper disaster. Added color with Zig Clean Color pens and a waterbrush. Then added Wink of Stella clear glitter pen over the flowers. Love that shine!

The sentiment is from an older Altenew Set -- Label Love.

Everything's popped up with foam tape, which brings the design some life.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Great. I'm almost done going through my stash and it's such a good feeling to see empty boxes and plastic sleeves and more space.

Later this week I'm having a very minor procedure on one of my hands, so I may be out of commission for a couple of days (milking it to avoid cooking!).

Mar 2, 2019

Gratitude Giveaway

Very grateful for all my readers and commenters. Decided it's time (again) to clean out and want to share with one of my readers. In order to keep the postage down, I've got to limit this to US addresses.

EDITED: Looks like I'm also adding a few other items!

Mar 1, 2019

Springtime Card

I die cut the beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Pinkfresh Studio Folklore cover plate 3 times with white cardstock and, using spray adhesive, glued them together and then adhered them to a white card. I then die cut again with Gina K Passionate Pink and Paper Source Mint cardstocks. Then I took my sweet time gluing all those pink and green pieces. The sentiment is from Altenew.

There are easier ways to use this beautiful cover plate and I'll use them soon. But in the meantime, this was fun. For reasons I can't figure out, some of the pink or green pieces would slide right into their slots and others had to be pushed in with a pick -- that left some marks on a few of the pieces but I'm hoping the recipient doesn't notice (or care!).

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Longing for spring! It's cold and gray again today in Dallas. Guarantee that in about 3 months I'll be whining about it being too hot. What is it about the weather that affects us so much??

Feb 27, 2019

Going Mondo!

One of the best things about doing the Learning Through Inspiration series is that it focused my attention on my current stash.**  So once again I found myself looking though my supplies. I wanted a big bold design and remembered this fantastic image by Julie Ebersole -- Mondo Magnolia.

Looks "simple" doesn't it? Stamp the image with a nice dark black ink (Versafine Onyx did the trick) and add a gold glitter paper die cut (from Flora & Fauna) sentiment. I love how it turned out! But lest you think it's "simple" -- this is the 6th card I made with this set. The first 5 are works in progress or in the trash! HA

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Happy with the card!

It's cool and gray today. We've had a lot of gray days this winter. When the sun comes out I look around and soak it in. Every bit of sun enjoyed yesterday helps with the gray days today. There's a lesson there!

** oh that doesn't mean I've stopped looking or buying (but not too much).

Feb 20, 2019

Altenew Alcohol Markers: A Review

Disclosure: I have no affiliation with Altenew and paid full price for the alcohol markers.

Source: Altenew Shop
Many years ago I bought some Copic markers and haven't had a great experience. Initially, some of the markers I bought were dry out of the box and I didn't realize it. I thought that was how they were and I could not understand the rave reviews and beautiful results I was seeing online. It took me about a year to figure out that a few of them, including the colorless one, were bone dry (no genius here).

After I reinked the dry ones, I eventually realized that the ones I had didn't match or blend well. I had made the mistake of thinking that if the numbers were near each other, they would be a perfect blend. Sandy Allnock, a supremely talented artist, has a wonderful hex chart available that shows which Copic colors work together. You can buy the chart already filled in or fill in a blank chart with your own markers. I realized when I filled in my chart that almost none of my colors were near each other. If I was going to use my Copics, I would need to buy a lot more of them.

Then Altenew came out with alcohol markers, and I decided to give them a try. I have what Altenew calls Sets A and B.

  • They come with two tips -- the brush tip that Copic markers have and a small bullet tip. The small bullet tip is more useful to me than the chisel tip that Copic markers have.
  • They come in sets designed to be used together. The markers are the same colors as their inks (although because they are alcohol based, not water based, not all of them are an exact match to their dye inks). I have many of the Altenew inks and love their colors.
  • Altenew has a free printable chart of its markers, so when it is time to use the markers, I just refer to the chart.
  • I love that Altenew has done the work for me. 
  • They are triangle shape and comfortable to hold and won't roll off the table.
  • The top and bottoms of the markers have the true color on them as well as the number.
  • Altenew also sells alcohol ink refills and refill brush tips. I refilled one marker and found it easy to do.
  • The refill bottles stand up and are easy to store.
  • I'm not an alcohol ink pro -- I don't need tons of colors, just ones that work together.
  • They are black and the color names are on small black labels and can be hard to see.
  • It is hard to pull off the tops. I'm hoping this gets easier as I use them. 
  • You can buy them singly or in sets. Some of the sets include duplicates of others. It can be confusing, so just be careful.
  • The packaging is beautiful, but a bit wasteful. For example, each refill bottle is shrink wrapped in plastic, which is excellent. However, the bottle comes in a lovely printed box and that box is also wrapped in plastic. Most people will throw out the box and of course, both plastic wrappers. Would love to see all companies pare down on wrapping as much as possible. 
Bottom Line:  Would I buy these again? YES. I love these markers and hope to purchase more colors. I use them along with my Copics but will not replace my Copics as they dry out.

Feb 19, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Natasha Valkovskaya (Day 2)

This is part of a series of improving my cardmaking by studying other designer's cards. You can find out more about this series here.

Today I'm focusing on a card by Natasha that I saw on her Instagram feed. It's another beauty!! Thank you again Natasha for permitting me to post your cards on my blog.



  • Everything
  • Natasha used an acrylic block to color the top part of the card and the flowers. This creates the light open feeling that I love.
  • Black + White + One bright color = A Winner
  • The flowers are placed in a way that move your eye around the sentiment. 

  • Still love the look created by using an acrylic block, but haven't quite mastered it. But I can mimic it by using the (no longer available) Ranger Distress Stains to color paper. It doesn't produce the same look, but I like it. Just lightly rub the dauber bottle across the paper. 
  • If I had to do it again, and I will, I'd stamp a flower off the edge. That would help with the "flow" of the images. Placing these images was difficult. I moved them around quite a bit.
  • Using the Modern Graphics dotted paper designed by Julie Ebersole adds to the interest of this card. I was surprised that this patterned paper could handle some Distress Stain. Love it!
  • I had been browsing floral sets, feeling like I had "none." Turns out I have more than none floral sets! 
My supplies: Altenew Bamboo Rose stamp set; Modern Graphics paper; Versafine Onyx ink; Mermaid Lagoon Ranger Distress Stain; detail scissors; foam tape.


I'll be taking a break from this Learning Through Inspiration series and will be posting other cards, but I'll be returning to it in a bit. Very gratified by the response to the series. I read every comment and am putting together a blog post just on the comments I've received here on the blog, as well as on Instagram, Facebook, and privately.


Feb 15, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Natasha Valkovskaya (Day 1)

This is part of a series on improving my cardmaking by studying other designers' cards. You can find more about the series here.

Today I'm beginning a few days focusing on the marvelously talented Natasha Valkovskaya. I found Natasha on Instagram, where she goes by the name of Craft Away With Me. That is also the name of her blog.

I selected Natasha because her cards have a fair amount of white space and I love how she adds painted backgrounds. I'm a huge fan of everything she makes. She does design work for Pinkfresh Studio, which is one of my favorite companies.


  • This is my favorite type of card -- paper, ink, and a stamp.
  • The watercoloring is gorgeous -- lots of variation and pairs perfectly with the script style font of the sentiment. Natasha explained in this post that she used an acrylic block to stamp the ink on the side of the card. Came out fantastic!
  • The gold speckles integrate the gold sentiment with the border of color.
  • LOVE the font and size of the sentiment. You can find that Pinkfresh Studio set here.
  • The simplicity of this card is very appealing. Painting a border, adding some speckles, and embossing a sentiment? No embellishments?  This is my kind of card; I can do this.

  • I cannot "do this."
  • Natasha's card is deceptively "simple." I tried Distress Oxide inks, Distress inks; watercolors; and 2 kinds of watercolor markers (there were other efforts that didn't make it into the picture.) I tried direct to paper, watercolor brushes, and an acrylic block. A lot of watercolor paper died in this effort.
  • The biggest lesson here is to know my strengths and weaknesses. As much as I would love to be able to make Natasha's card, it's not a skill I have, at least not today. Before I buy that sentiment set I better have another use in mind. 
  • I'm never going to make light and airy cards like Julie Ebersole, color or draw like Sandy Allnock, or create little beauties the same way Lisa Spangler does. Since hope is eternal, I've had to relearn this lesson several times. 
  • The best way to cope with my weaknesses is to work on them if is important to me, and/or focus on my strengths.  
  • I don't need to be able to make this particular card to enjoy stamping. There's plenty of other techniques and styles that I can do.
MOOD WHEN DONE:  The past few weeks of studying other people's cards has been a lot of fun. As frustrating as it was not to be able to recreate Natasha's card, it was a very good learning experience.

Feb 13, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Laura Bassen (Day 3)

This post is part of a series on improving my cardmaking by studying other designers' cards. You can read more about it here.

Today I'm back learning more from Laura Bassen a/k/a The Rainbow Queen.


  • I focused on the card on the left (although that critter is pretty cute.) My favorite thing about this card is the combination of a rainbow color scheme with a lot of white.
  • There aren't any difficult techniques.
  • Every element is perfectly laid out -- it's crisp, clean, and perfectly straight.
  • Laura's rainbow starts and ends with the purple strips, but the other colors aren't repeated. And, it looks like the darkest purples are a bit smaller than the other colors. There's a lesson there on helping the eye focus on the tree by having the purples as bookends. At least I think so!

  • One of the best ways to learn through inspiration is to take the time to identify the underlying elements in a card that I like, and then take those elements and make a card with them. The elements I identified in this card were the rainbow and white combination. I could have chosen stripes and trees, rainbows and trees, color peeking out from a detail die, etc., but I wanted to focus on the rainbow colors with a lot of white.
  • Rather than try and copy the card, this time I decided to just let my thoughts go. 
  • I had been thinking about a gorgeous new gerbera daisy stamp by Julie Ebersole. What if I bought it and painted it rainbow style? That would have taken time and, like most stampers, I was in a hurry! What else did I have? I had Julie's beautiful Mondo Hydrangea stamp. 
  • Trying to be creative or original has been a huge waste of my time and supplies, as it actually ended up quashing my creativity. I'm not sure whether it was the fear of being accused of copying someone else's ideas or the feeling that it would be boring to get my ideas from another cardmaker. In any event, I'm done with those thoughts. 
  • Colored the image using a technique I learned from Yana Smakula and mentioned earlier -- stamp with a light ink that is alcohol friendly (I used a pale pink Memento), leave the stamp in your MISTI or other stamp positioner, color with alcohol markers, and then restamp with Versamark and emboss. 
  • If I had to do it over again, I'd choose a skinnier sentiment as this one covers up the central red flower more than I like. 
My supplies:  Essentials by Ellen Mondo Hydrangea stamp and die designed by Julie Ebersole; Altenew alcohol and Copic markers (two each for red, yellow, orange, green, and purple); Wow Bright White Superfine embossing powder; Essentials by Ellen white linen cardstock; foam tape; black cardstock; Simply White Crystal Glossy White Nuvo drops; Versamark. 

MOOD WHEN DONE: This was the most valuable of the lessons since I started this series. The process of how to use another card (or any design) as inspiration without copying it too much was a lightbulb moment for me. Whether you like this card or not, if you are looking to take your cards up a notch, try out this process. Would love to know if it is helpful for you.

I'll be back (next week) with cards inspired by another card maker who I found on Instagram. She's wonderful! 

And in completely unrelated news, I was rejected for the clinical trial of a drug to treat my heart condition. You have to meet certain criteria and my numbers on one test were off by a bit. So frustrating that I cried.

However, I have a good lead on a volunteer opportunity and hope that works out. I mean I just can't stamp all day, can I?

Feb 11, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Follow Through

This post is part of a series on improving my card making by studying other designers' cards. You can find more about it here.


As you can see, this post differs from my previous posts in this series. I'm not focusing on particular cards by Yana Smakula and Laura Bassen. Rather, I decided to make a card incorporating some of the lessons I'm learning (it's an ongoing process) by studying their cards. 

Yana often makes her own backgrounds and pops up a variety of sentiments on one card. Laura blends ink beautifully, often repeats an element for a background, and uses white on black sentiments. So I used those techniques/ideas to make this card. 

I colored 3 alcohol markers onto white cardstock. I could have blended inks or used watercolors, but I wanted to try the alcohol markers. Unfortunately, my lightest marker ran out of ink and the middle one was on the way to doing so. Therefore, I got more of a striped effect, rather than a blend, but there is no blending police on duty here today so I used the hearts anyway.

  • Not surprisingly, its harder to come up with my own design than to rely on someone else's. Design is a skill. Some have a natural eye; others don't and need to practice (and some of us apparently need to practice for years. HA). 
  • Next time I'll lay out all the hearts before I start adhering any of them. I could have spaced them better.
  • I'll make sure my markers are good and juicy before doing this again (need to buy some refills.)
  • I added the sequins after I put together the photo. The card was missing something in the lower right. I felt it needed another sentiment, but I added a few sequins instead. Again, I should have laid out all the hearts and all the sentiments first. Didn't I already learn this lesson 700 cards ago?
  • Whether relying heavily on someone else's design or making my own, stamping is still fun and relaxing. 
My supplies:

The heart die and the sentiments are from The Stamp Market (sentiment set was a free with purchase and I don't see it on the shop yet.); Altenew Alcohol Markers (Frosty Pink, Coral Berry, and Ruby Red); Essentials by Ellen white linen cardstock (it's very white and a favorite for card bases); black cardstock; Wow Bright White Superfine Embossing powder; foam tape.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Once again I am reminded of how fantastic it is to have a hobby I love. 

Feb 8, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Laura Bassen (Day Two)

This is part of a series on improving my card making by studying other designers' cards. If you're unfamiliar with this series, you can find more about it here.


You can find Laura's blog post and video on making this beautiful card, and another one, on the Simon Says Stamp blog here

  • I wanted to try and recreate a card made by Laura so I needed a card that included products that I already had (or something similar). I have 2 sets of hexagon dies (don't ask) and I really wanted to use them. 
  • Making cards is about design + execution. I wanted to take design out of the equation and work just on execution. Could I make a geometric card that was as precise as Laura's? I have hexagon dies and some sentiment dies so I figured this would be a good card to try and recreate. 
  • Laura tucked that white on black sentiment strip right under the large script hello.
  • I liked the color combination. In her video, Laura discussed using colors that were new to her.  I'll get to those colors below.

  • Making a copy, or almost copy, of someone else's card helped me focus on techniques -- blending, placing those hexagons, etc. Very valuable experience!
  • If Laura did not make a video showing how she made her card, I'd charge her with fake card making! HA! Laura used Press'n Seal. She laid out the hexagons, covered them with the Press'n Seal, placed the pieces of foam tape on each hexagon, and then picked up all the hexagons at once. It worked like a charm. 
  • Since it looked so easy, I went out and bought some Press'n Seal. I laid out the hexagons, and as soon as I put the Press'n Seal over them, the hexagons flew all over. I guess it was some type of static cling effect. 
  • I laid out the hexagons again, and this time, no they did not leap up, but the hexagons did not stick to the wrap.
  • So I laid out the hexagons again, and put the Press'n Seal over them. But this time I rubbed the plastic wrap over each hexagon with the end of a paintbrush handle, sealing the wrap to the hexagons. This worked. However, I forgot to put the foam tape on each hexagon, so after I placed them on the card and lifted up the Press'n Seal, they flew all over. Again.
  • Clearly operator error -- I'm going to master Press'n Seal one of these days. However, I ended up hand placing each hexagon one by one, and was happy with the result.
  • Laura used a narrower sentiment. I love the one I used, but it looks a bit too wide for a portrait shaped card. The"hello" die Laura used looks better, and the placement of her sentiment below fits better. I'll be more careful next time to pick a sentiment die that is more proportional and an additional sentiment that fits a bit better. 
  • If I remake the card, I'd lower the "Many Thanks" sentiment just a bit.
  • Laura explained in her video that she purposely used a different color palette. While I don't have the Distress Oxide colors that she used, I tried a bunch of different green/blue combinations and they didn't work out as I don't have enough of a range of colors from light to dark. Even with the card I made, I wish I used colors with a bit more contrast. I'll keep that in mind the next time I blend a variety of colors on a piece of cardstock.
My supplies:

Little B hexagon dies; Distress Oxide inks (Picked Raspberry, Abandoned Coral, and Fossilized Amber); Essentials by Ellen Many Thanks die (appears to be retired); Altenew Many Thanks set (used part of a sentiment); white and black card stocks, foam tape; and Wow Bright White Superfine Embossing Powder.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Happy! I enjoyed making this card and pretty much like how it came out. It took forever to make because of the mistakes I made, and because I was interrupted by participating in the clinical trial of a drug that I mentioned before. Yesterday I learned that I may not be able to participate in the trial -- basically your heart has to meet certain criteria and mine is off by a few points on one test. Frustrating! I'll know for sure next week. 

Feb 4, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Laura Bassen (Day One)

This is part of a series on improving my card making by studying other designers' cards. If you're unfamiliar with this series, you can learn more about it here.

* * *

Today I'm introducing some lessons learned by studying Laura Bassen a/k/a Laurafadora. Thank you, Laura, for permitting me to post your gorgeous cards on my blog and for making such a great contribution to the stamping community.

Laura's work is instantly recognizable -- she's the queen of rainbow coloring, ink blending, precise geometrics, and cute critters. She designs for Simon Says Stamp, Pinkfresh Studio, Mama Elephant, and others. If I owned a stamp company, I'd hire her to design all the stamps and all the samples and then I'd sit back and count my money!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura for this blog. You can read that interview here. (It's been 3 years? Wow.) One of the things that impressed me when I was talking with Laura is her dedication to the craft. Laura is relaxed and funny in her videos, but card making is her job and she's not messing around. 


  • Color! Laura's colors are bright and beautiful. 
  • White on black sentiment. Laura uses this often, and helps those bright colors pop even more.
  • Laura's cards are perfectly constructed and spaced -- everything is in the right place and her embellishments do what they are supposed to -- add to the beauty and not distract.
  • Chose these particular cards to begin with because they did not involve tricky placement of geometric images (that's coming!).

  • Laura's cards look easy to make. They are not, and this isn't fawning. Seriously, this was the 5th card I made! I don't have a lot of colored cardstock, so I couldn't make a rainbow with cardstock and my watercolored attempt(s) didn't work out. 
  • Ink blending is hard to do well, but a cover plate hides the mess underneath.
  • Rainbow + white on black sentiment + sparkle is a winner. 
  • Details matter. I have one cover plate and it is exactly an A2 size. I die cut one layer and then die cut a second with fun foam. It was hard to line them up as the foam is flexible. I should have trimmed the edges of the die cut foam slightly before adhering the top layer. I ended up having to do it by hand and it's not perfect.
  • Using a T-Square ruler helps ensure that the sentiment is straight.  
  • However, using a ruler does not prevent stupid mistakes. I adhered the cover plate upside down (I wanted the red/orange/yellow on the top.) Slow down.
  • I want more cover plates! I want more colored cardstock! I want every thing Laura uses. However, there's a hard limit on what I will buy now, and it's fun to make do without -- sometimes.
My supplies:

Essentials by Ellen Bed of Roses Cover Plate; Distress Oxide Inks; Altenew Layered Cupcake (sentiment); White Linen cardstock from Ellen Hutson; black cardstock; Wow Bright White Superfine Embossing Powder; foam; foam tape; clear sequins. 

MOOD WHEN DONE:  I'm delighted with this card. It is fun to look at and was fun to make and give to a friend. 

I'll be back with more lessons from studying Laura, hopefully later this week. I have 4 medical appointments coming up this week, almost all related to the clinical trial in which I am participating. I am so grateful that I have this opportunity to try and find a drug to help people avoid the heart surgery I had, but going back and forth for these appointments is time consuming and messing with my crafting!

Jan 30, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Yana Smakula (Day 3)

This is part of a series on improving my cardmaking through studying other designers' cards. If you're unfamiliar with this series, you can learn more about it here


Today I wanted to focus on using Yana's Perfect Cardmaking Formula. Yana's formula is basically: 1. a pretty floral, 2. a skinny sentiment, and 3. a specialty paper in the background, such as woodgrain or a pattern. Here's a couple of  cards Yana made using that formula. 


More recently, Yana discussed her formula here, where she posted this card.

  • I love the idea of an easy to use and easy to remember "formula." 
  • The floral clusters and sentiment form a perfect focal point -- even though there are a lot of elements, my eye immediately goes to the flowers. A clear focal point is essential to any card. 
  • Yana mixed it up a bit. In the first card, she used a beautiful gold die in place of specialty paper. In the second, she added another sentiment on a piece of vellum. Both are clever and add a lot of interest to her cards. A "formula" can be a starting point. 

  • Love a formula! I wanted something other than a white background to tone down the bright blues and greens so I made my own "specialty paper" by clear embossing a striped background onto pale gray cardstock. (I originally made green striped paper and it was dreadful with these flowers). I don't have a lot of background stamps, but now I see how versatile they are and I'm adding a few to my wish list. 
  • Yana often pops up various elements of her cards. I popped up the sentiment, some of the leaves, and the small buds with foam tape.
  • At this point, I was a little unhappy and felt the card was missing something. I went through Yana's instagram account again and noticed that her cards looked more finished than mine. I took a quick photo of my card with my phone. That seems to help me "see" the card better. I noticed that I had colored over the little stamens on the flowers with my alcohol markers. So I added some white gel pen on top of them, and then carefully added some black marker along the edges of some of the leaves and stems to give them a more finished look. It made a difference. 
  • It's possible to learn a lot from another stamper, and then take those lessons and make something that is absolutely not a copy. 
  • I haven't bought any new craft supplies since I started this series (although I did subscribe to a kit, more on that later). I think what I am learning will help me choose supplies more wisely. 

I used Hero Arts stamps for this card, so I am including this in the Blog Name Hero's January Challenge.  

My Supplies:  Hero Arts floral and sentiment stamps (lost the names but do not think they are current); Hero Arts Intense Black ink; Wow Bright White Superfine Embossing Powder; black, white and pale gray cardstocks; Impression Obsession Diagonal Striped cover stamp; Sakura white gel pen; sequins from a specialty Mermaid mix from Hero Arts; Altenew Alcohol Markers; foam tape; JudiKins clear embossing powder. 

MOOD WHEN DONE: I'm very pleased with how this series is going. I know I don't post a lot of cards, but in the background I'm studying and practicing. I should be back later this week (or next) with some lessons inspired by one of my all time favorite people in paper crafting!  

Jan 27, 2019

Let's Talk Affiliate Marketing (and Why I'm a Fan)

I've seen a few blog posts recently from designers who participate in affiliate marketing addressing some negative comments about affiliate marketing. So I thought I'd weigh in.

Disclosure: I do not participate in affiliate marketing.

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How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?


"Affiliate Marketing" is another way of describing a commission, or in my view, profit sharing between a crafter and a company.

Let's say I participate in affiliate marketing with X Company. I buy a stamp (or, get it for free), use it on my blog and other social media, and link it to The X Company Store. You follow my link to that stamp in The X Company Store (if I'm participating in affiliate marketing, you may see the words "shareasale" quickly pop up in your browser).

Depending on the arrangement between The X Company and me, if you buy the product within a certain amount of time since clicking on that link, I'll get a percentage of what you paid for the stamp. The percentage is often around 10%, but it may vary.

Six Thoughts About Affiliate Marketing

1. Crafters with large a following are popular for a reason. They are talented -- there is something about what they create and/or how they present it that attracts a large following.

They are so good that they make us want to buy the product. 

Personally, I need their ideas. I want these crafters to stay in business and keep inspiring me.

2. Speaking of business, affiliate marketing is a business. Many crafters are no longer crafting for a hobby -- it is their job. I love this. It's about time that talented crafters get rewarded with more than a free stamp set and the honor of being on a design team.

3. A few bloggers who participate in affiliate marketing get off track by the language they use to defend or explain affiliate marketing. They focus on their time and effort, and the expense of running a blog, rather than their talent in using products so well that they generates sales for a company.

We stampers already know blogging is time consuming and expensive (we are buying the products and many of us are blogging too!). I prefer that they emphasize their talent and their value to both the stampers and the companies. Be proud of that talent!

4. Most stamp companies are small businesses. Some are very small businesses. Affiliate marketing allows these very small companies to get our attention and stay in business.

There are so many paper crafting companies competing for our attention online. In fact, the amount of new product released every month is mind boggling (a post for another day). A large established company could pay a top designer a flat fee to use a product, but many companies don't have that type of liquidity and having to pay a flat fee up front for each product would limit the number of products they offer.

5. There are some downsides to affiliate marketing. It encourages top talent to only use new products. We see sets used a few times and then we are quickly being introduced to something else. In addition, affiliate marketing encourages the top talent to use only products for which they get a commission. It influences what they pitch to us. It's our jobs as consumers to be savvy about this (again, a post for another day).

6. You'll read that affiliate marketing is at no cost to the consumer. This is tricky. It is true that I'll pay $20 for a stamp set regardless of whether I click on an affiliate link. It's possible that the price of that set would go down if the company wasn't paying a commission to the blogger. However, it's also possible that, absent the crafter's use of the product on his or her blog and social media, the company's sales would go down and, therefore the company's prices would go up to make up the loss of revenue.

For me, the more important issue is whether the stamp company gets all of my $20, or shares it with the designer that influenced me to purchase it. I vote for the latter.

* * *

To me, affiliate marketing is a win-win-win for talented bloggers, companies and consumers. Admittedly, sometimes I forget to use it. I tend to create long wish lists, not buy most of what's on the lists, and when I do buy, I forget to go back and click on that affiliate link. I've said it before, but this time I'm committed to clicking on those links. I need that inspiration to keep learning and growing.

Jan 24, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Yana Smakula (Day Two)

This is part of a series I'm doing on improving my cardmaking through studying other designer's cards. If you're unfamiliar with it, you can read more about it here.

* * *

I'm back today with another card inspired by the talented Yana Smakula. I wanted to make a card that used some of the lessons I learned in my first post in this series. In that post, I talked about how Yana stamped the images in her card perfectly and then added details between the images that added richness. The card that I made, inspired by hers, had more space between the images and didn't seem as exciting to me.

So for this lesson, I wanted to see if I could improve my stamp placement and fill in some of the spaces between the images.


Is that a stunner, or what?  Yana created a white border on a one layer card with no masking, so that none of the images were cut off.

And, here's a beautiful card Yana made a couple of years ago using Altenew's Hello Sunshine set.

  • Once again, Yana perfectly placed the images in both cards. 
  • Both cards have clever details that add a lot of interest. In the first card, the white border with no masking is beautiful. If I didn't see her make it on a video, I wouldn't have believed it! 
  • In the second card, Yana added a gray shadow around the images, drew white dots inside some images, and popped up the sentiment. She also made a wreath out of a non wreath set. That's hard to pull off well. All those things make her card special.
  • Both cards are bright and colorful. Who wouldn't want to take these out of the mail box?
  • They are "simple" cards that aren't simple at all.

  • Placement of the images is really important.
  • It's hard to make a card with a white border without masking. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't use that large blue flower in the lower right. And, the next time I try this design, I'll place paper around the border so I have a guide. And there will be a next time.
  • The Hello Sunshine set doesn't have any tiny elements, so I found a small heart from another set and used a fine black marker to make the dots. I think it added a lot.
  • Yana colored white cardstock with a Copic marker to make matching paper for a strip sentiment in this card, so I copied that technique here. It's a surprising break from white on black cardstock and I like how it turned out.
My supplies:

Altenew Hello Sunshine stamp set; Altenew Buttercream, Warm Sunshine, Ocean Waves and Dusk alcohol markers; Wow Bright White Superfine Embossing Powder; Hero Arts Intense Black ink; Micron black pen; Neenah Solar White cardstock; foam tape; sequins. I cannot remember where I found that heart, but those tiny elements come in handy. 

MOOD WHEN DONE:  I love the card I made and I don't think or say that often.  It's not perfect, but I'm aiming for better, not perfect.

Thank you for reading along and commenting. I'll be back next week with more Learning Through Inspiration. 

Jan 21, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Yana Smakula (Day One)

I'm on a mission to improve my cardmaking. You can read about what I'm up to in this post. I hope you enjoy this series!

Today, and in some later posts, I'm focusing on Yana Smakula. I love everything she makes. Period.

If you look through her blog or instagram feed, you'll see that Yana's cards are colorful, beautifully made, and often seem to sparkle. Her photography is outstanding. Yana designs for Spellbinders, Hero Arts, and Simon Says Stamp (among others) and I suspect she is responsible for selling a lot of products! In addition, Yana's you tube channel is one of my favorites. Her videos are clear, engaging and full of useful tips.

Yana was kind enough to permit me to use her photos on my blog, so you can see right away how my card uses her ideas.

Yana has several videos on using colored pencils on dark cardstock. Here's one card Yana made that is just stunning (as is her styling and photography).

Before I made my card, I made a note of

  • Coloring on dark cardstock is interesting, new to me, and looks elegant. It reminds me of Indian fabric.
  • The flowers are perfectly and evenly placed. 
  • The gold is beautiful and the pops of white brighten the card. 
  • The jewels look like they belong there. 
  • The styling and photography are beautiful.

  • The flowers are Yana's card are closer together, and she filled in the spaces between the flowers with more white dots and with jewels. That really added to the beauty of her card. I have too much empty space between the flowers. It looks a little anemic. That's an easy fix for the next card. 
  • Yana recommends Faber-Castell Polychromo pencils. I have quite a few Prismacolor pencils, and a handful of the Polychromos. I didn't see a huge difference between them, but I haven't used pencils in a while. I won't buy anymore Prismacolors because they break too easily, which is why I don't have a pink pencil. Using a pink pencil would have made the blending on this card easier. Note to self: add a pink pencil to my wish list and practice blending. 
  • Yana used a Sakura Classic White Bold Line 10 white gel pen, while I used a finer 05 pen, to outline the flowers. That made a big difference, as the white outlining on Yana's card is more pronounced. I ended up using Nuvo Crystal drops on the card as the gel pen looked too pale. If you are going to use a white gel pen to outline, get the Bold Line #10.
  • I'm beyond hope when it comes to photography and styling. I try but I'm not expecting huge changes... 
  • I used Yana's technique to make the card, as shown in this video. It involves stamping first with dye ink, coloring, restamping with Versamark, and then embossing in gold. It's a labor intensive technique, but can yield beautiful results. I didn't have the Hero Arts set that Yana used and as soon as I saw her card, I wanted it. I still do, but I was able to substitute a larger floral set. I don't need every set I see (did I say that??).
My supplies:

Prismacolor Magenta pencil; Polychromo white, magenta, light green, emerald green; Altenew Galactic Stream and Versamark inks; Altenew Botanical Gardens stamp set; Hero Arts Kind Messages stamp set; white and blue cardstocks from the stash; Sakura Classic White Pen #05; Nuvo Simply White Crystal Drops; Wow Superfine Rich Metallic Gold embossing powder.

MOOD WHEN DONE: I'm getting a kick out of doing this series. In the past, I wouldn't have posted this card because it feels off.  Now I'm learning and having fun. I hope you are enjoying it too.

Stay tuned, as I have more cards inspired by Yana coming soon.

Jan 20, 2019

A New Series! Learning Through Inspiration

I've been pretty frustrated lately with my cardmaking. I've taken online, and in person classes, but something was still missing. So, in an effort to improve, I decided to try a different method.

I studied many cards made by one person to find the common elements that appealed to me. Instagram is an easy way to do this -- you can see many cards from one person very quickly. If you aren't on Instagram, you can also just look at a designer's blog. If the designer is on you tube, you can also go to his or her channel and watch several videos by the same person.

I learned a LOT by using this method and I'll share the first thing I learned today and then the rest as I share the cards I've made since I started doing this.

(I already knew this, but needed a reminder.) 

Most of the time, the supplies -- stamps, inks, paper, etc. aren't the issue. If we don't know what we are doing, buying a different line of stamps or inks or the latest coloring medium is a waste of time and money. (Sometimes, it does make a difference -- having a good paper trimmer, sharp scissors, an ink pad that isn't dry, etc. matters). But, generally, buying new things isn't the answer.

Over the next few weeks (not every day), I'll share with you what else I learned. I'll post (with their permission) beautiful cards made by very talented crafters, explain why I think they work, and then the cards I made inspired by them. Some of the cards I made came out great and some not so much, so I'll also be sharing what went wrong and what went right. 

I'd love to have you join me and get your feedback. Maybe you'll learn something too, or can share your insights.

Here's a snippet of a card I made that I'll be posting soon.

Can you tell who inspired me?

MOOD WHEN DONE:  I'm never done learning......

Jan 17, 2019

Advice for Cardmakers from a Non Stamper

Me:  "I don't know what to do with myself. Everything I make lately ends up in the trash."

Mike: "Go online, find something you like, and steal it."

I've seen worse advice.  All righty then.....

Jan 14, 2019

I Heart You

Used a "LOVE" die from The Stamp Market to make a stencil, and then used the stencil to make a pale blue on white card background.

Stamped flowers and leaves from Altenew's Adore You (my all time favorite floral set) onto to watercolor paper with Versafine Onyx, embossed in clear, watercolored, and hand cut.

That cute little "i heart you" sentiment is from a set that is free if you buy a minimum amount from The Stamp Market. I could buy everything that company makes -- the owner is so talented.

Although I practiced stenciling the background on typing paper, I ended up tossing the original. I had used Distress Oxide Weathered Wood -- a pretty light blue/grey, but the oxide ink came out too heavy on the stencil. I wanted a very pale background and ended up using Distress Tumbled Glass.

See that little make up brush?  Rather than get it from a craft store, I reached out on Facebook and asked if a cheaper option existed. Why yes! I got mine here. I know they make some that have flat bottoms so that they can stand up, but I'm fine saving money.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Happy! Now time to clean up the mess I made.