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.

Jan 12, 2019

Shaker Thank You

This uses a Memory Box die that has been in my stash for years. I cut it on a piece of leftover watercolored paper. Made a shaker card. The base of the card is aqua cardstock colored with Pistachio** Distress Oxide ink. It's more of an ombre that the photo shows.  

** Speaking of pistachios, I made some killer dark chocolate/pistachio nuts bark for Christmas this year. Melt Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate wafers*** in the microwave or in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Throw in some nuts. Spread on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet. Chill. Break apart. Put in bags (and/or eat).

*** Do not use the Wilton chocolate wafers. I used some of those and it was a mistake.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  I'm doing all right. I like this card, but it's not my fave. I made many others with this die and I'll post them as soon as the sun provides some good photography light. 

Jan 2, 2019

Got Goals?

Happy 2019!

Hope the new year is kind to you and your loved ones.

We had a quiet start to the year -- playing board games and cooking. Not bad, and better than I expected as 2018 ended with a short hospital stay for me (I couldn't walk due to sudden new leg pain). But I'm fine now (medical stuff is truly a mystery) and they found what is wrong (for which I am so grateful). Looking forward to avoiding that type of pain in the future!

So I have some goals for 2019 (the common thread is to get out of my rut), and thought I'd share and come back next year and see if I met any of them. Would love for you to share yours!

1. Try out a new recipe every week.  

My son gives me cookbooks for my birthday and Christmas (this year a new cheesecake pan and soup and cheesecake cookbooks.) I used to make fun of my mom for making the same 5 meals her entire life, but I've fallen into that same habit, so I think he is sending me a message. 

Let's see if I can make 52 new-to-me meals. I started New Year's with a great Mulligatawny Curry Soup recipe. It was a fair amount of work, but worth it.  

2. Do something positive in the political realm. 

I'm tired of listening to myself complain about politics and want to do something to move this country in the direction I think it needs to be going. Not sure where to start, but anything is better than nothing.

3. Reach out and do something nice for someone once in a while. 

The other day a wonderful couple came over and brought me flowers because they knew I had been in the hospital. That's the type of thing that I wouldn't have thought to do. I might have sent flowers or a card, but it took time for them to buy them, text me, and drop by. So kind, and it meant so much. I need to think of others more often and then follow through.

4. Go someplace new in Dallas every week.

The city is full of places to go and I'm hoping to venture out every week. We've barely scratched the surface of this city, and we need to push ourselves to get out more. 

That's it for me. I have no stamping goals, other than to continue to enjoy the hobby. 

How about you?

Dec 21, 2018

Last Post for 2018: Sending Love

I'm sending love and gratitude to all of you who continue to read my blog or otherwise connect with me on social media, or in real life! Stamping and writing continue to make me happy and you are part of that. Thank you.

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope it is a peaceful one, full of love and good times. For those of you struggling with difficult times -- illness, loneliness, financial stresses, etc. I hope you are able to enjoy the holidays and have a better 2019. 

And to all, here's hoping 2019 is kind to you and your loved ones. 


This Hero Arts Color Layering Bouquet is darling, easy to layer, and versatile. Plus, that little bow! It's a keeper.  

-Impressions Obsessions gingham background (white embossed on gray cardstock).
-Inked up a scrap of white cardstock to make the Ruby Red paper lining the top and bottom. 
-Tonic Nuvo Crystal Glaze in the center of the flowers and clear sequins in the bouquet.
-Popped up bouquet layer with foam dots.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Happy! It's been an eventful year. I'm looking forward to spending time with family, baking, and crafting!