Jul 31, 2016

Stamping Destroyed My Life: Chapter 21

To my fantastic readers -- sorry for the very long break in the story. My writing mojo disappeared!

To start at the beginning of this tale, go here.

To recap:  M and Beth's new stamping company, Beautiful, is off to a very slow start. On the first day of its existence, only Beth's friend, Susan, purchased a set. M gets nervous and buys out the entire inventory on day 1 using her own credit card, without telling Beth or M's husband, John. Over the phone, M and Beth celebrate selling out and, at the end of the day, John suggests that he and the kids help M by packing up all the "orders".

Chapter 21: It's Capitalism

Gah. I couldn't have John and the kids help me pack all those "orders" because there were no orders. Plus, I was starting to worry about using our own credit card. How was I going to pay that bill? I needed to find a way to cancel the orders without Beth finding out what I did.

Before I could respond to John's offer, the phone rang. We never answer the phone during dinner, but I leapt at the chance to buy some time.

"I've got to get this," I said, as I rushed over to the phone. John nodded that he understood. After all, I was a business owner now.

"Ma'm, this is Bill Menow. I'm the Deputy Assistant Chief Security Officer for Masterly Credit Card. We believe that your credit card was used online in a fraudulent manner. Someone seems to have made multiple purchases from one company using a variety of names and addresses."

"Oh no! I hope we don't have to pay for this. This is awful."

"No, ma'm. We just wanted you to be aware of the fraud. We are going to have to cancel your cards and of course, all those orders. Never heard of the company. Some two bit outfit called Beautiful. We'll be sending you new cards with a new number. You should have them within 3 business days."

"Oh, wow. That's crazy. Thank you so much for letting me know."

I hung up and walked over to the table. Everyone was looking at me. My mind was still trying to figure out how to deal with John's offer to pack the orders.

John put down his fork and said, "What was that all about?"

I told him and the kids, "Wow, that was the security office from our credit card company. Seems someone used our card online to buy a bunch of stuff and they figured out it wasn't us. Whew. They are cancelling the cards and sending us new ones. What a pain, but I am so glad they caught it."

John listened and then said, "Ugh. This happens more and more lately. I think our Washington Post subscription and the gas bill are paid automatically through that card. Can you straighten that out, please?"

"Oh, I completely forgot about those. Sure, I'll take care of it when the new cards come. But I'm not going to let a little thing like this ruin my day!!"

John replied, "Absolutely! I am so proud of you. And so are the kids."

Silence from the kids.

Before John could say anything else, I said, "You are so sweet to offer to pack up the orders, but I'm beat. I'm just not up to printing out all the orders and making labels. I think the excitement today just robbed me of all my adrenaline. But I really appreciate the offer. Kids, is your Dad the best or what?"

"Fine with me," said Buffy. "I mean, Mom, I'm happy for you and all but I have homework."

"Yeah," said Garrett, smirking. "She thinks instant messaging her BFF until 2 in the morning is homework."

And off the kids went, teasing each other. The dishes were done. Before John and I each went into our own offices, John turned to me and put his arm around me. "M, I am so proud of you! Let's celebrate next weekend. How about steak and champagne Saturday night? You can wear that gorgeous black cashmere dress. You are a knockout in that."

What could I say?  Beautiful was going nowhere, but I smiled and hugged him back. He really was the best.

"That would be fantastic."

As soon as I got to my office, I clicked on the computer. Time to check the Beautiful store. Beth had placed a notice letting customers know that we were sold out but taking preorders.  I held my breath while I prayed that there were preorders.


I was sick. All that work. CHA. The lawyer bills. The patents. All that money and we had nothing to show for it. Stampers can break your heart.

And then, an idea! Of course. It was so obvious!!

I logged onto Splitcoast using a fake name and posted:

"Wow, I see that that new store Beautiful already sold out. I am sooo disappointed. I HAVE to have those stamps! Anyone know if we can preorder?"

Sure enough, someone else posted right after me:

"Thanks for the heads up. I just checked and they are taking preorders! I placed one already. Good luck everyone!"

By noon of the next day we really had sold out, and more. We had 1100 preorders! We were going to be rich! I knew it. I knew I could do it. All those years of being shunned by those PTA moms and here I was, a CEO of a successful business.

Beth had called me twice that morning and left messages. Now I could call her back, but I had to find a way to explain everything to Beth.

"Hi, Beth!; M here. Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I had to drive John to work today!  His car's in the shop."

I hated lying. But sometimes we have to do things we hate.

"Oh, M, I am so excited. We have 1100 preorders plus the 500 orders from yesterday. This is crazy!!"

I took a deep breath and said, "I am so excited too!! Beautiful is a huge success!!  And it is all because of your design talents and brilliant idea to create clear stamps. I am so lucky I met you."

Beth responded, "Aww, M, that is so sweet of you to say. But we couldn't have gotten this far without you."

Um, yup.

"Listen, Beth. So, you know how yesterday we sold out?"

"Of course, it was awesome."

"Well, we didn't. I placed all those orders myself. They are bogus."

Sometimes, when nothing else will work, honesty is the only way out.

Beth was quiet for a few seconds and then asked, "WHAT? Why would you do such a thing?"

"Beth, calm down. It is all good. In fact, it's spectacular. Eventually, we did sell out. We really did sell out our original 500 sets plus we now have another 600 preorders. It just took 24 hours longer than you thought."

Beth said, "I don't understand. What are you talking about? We are partners. You lied to me?"

Now I was getting annoyed. We had sold out and had a huge preorder, and Beth was going all 10 Commandments on me.

"Listen Beth. Here's what happened and I swear on my kids' lives this is the truth. No one was buying anything. Except for my friend Susan, the store was a bust. We were about to go bankrupt on our first day. So I bought out the store myself to create some excitement! And then I went on Splitcoast with a fake name and told everyone it was sold out, which it was, technically. Then I had another fake person announce that we were taking preorders, which we are. The next thing, boom!  All 499 sets that we have in stock that you thought sold out yesterday are now really sold out. Plus, we have preorders for 600 more. To be honest, I thought once you heard what happened, you would thank me."

Beth interrupted, "You lied to me and you lied to the stamping community."

"Now wait a minute Beth," I said. "Actually, I was honest where it really mattered. I didn't use Beautiful's money to get the ball rolling. I used my. own. personal. credit. card. to create a buzz. I could have just put a notice on our website that we were sold out, but I put my own money where my mouth is. I did it for US, not me. Yes, I wasn't totally honest with you yesterday. That's 'cause I was afraid that you wouldn't agree to the plan.  And no stamper was hurt by this. All I did was make them want your beautiful designs. They'll get their stamps and we'll get their money. It's capitalism!"


I continued, "Oh, Beth. You know how stampers are. We love to buy what others love. I mean how else can you explain the popularity of the those dancing file cabinet stamps? People actually made Christmas cards with a dancing file cabinet. They made sympathy cards with sad-faced file cabinets doing the Tango. Stampers will buy anything if you just help them figure out what they want."

Beth laughed, "Well, you got me there. I guess that makes sense. But promise me. No more fibs. We have to be honest with each other."

"Absolutely. I promise." And I meant it.

Whew. Beth was ok. Before she could change her tune, I told her, "And I have another idea. I found a way where I can manufacture our stamps myself right here in my basement. This will cut our costs by half! Do you want me to tell you about it?"

Next:  Chapter 22

Jul 28, 2016

Simple Little Birthday

Here's a quick to make, and easy to mail, birthday card.  It is fast to make because the balloons are one image, the Gina K cardstock allows you to color with Copics and not get any bleed through to the inside of the card, and there are no embellishments.

  • Trim Gina K White Heavy Base Weight Cardstock and score to make an A2 card.  
  • Stamp Hero Arts Birthday Balloons with a Copic friendly black ink.  I used Hero Arts Intense Black ink, but Memento Tuxedo and other Copic friendly inks will work.
  • Color balloons with Copics.
  • Add Wink of Stella clear glitter over balloons.
  • Using a stencil with circles as a guide for placement (a Julie Ebersole idea), make small dots over the card with the same Copics used to color the balloons.
  • Stamp sentiment.

MOOD WHEN DONE = I have no complaints!

Jul 26, 2016

More Happy Mail (on the Right at Home Blog)

You can find my card up on the Right at Home blog.  Enjoy!

Here's a snippet....

Jul 21, 2016

Right at Home One Year Birthday Celebration Hop

Happy One Year Anniversary to Right at Home!  To celebrate, RAH is hosting a fun blog hop, a giveaway and a link-up (info at the end of this post).  Congratulations Nicole! I'm so happy to watch your company grow.

Nicole released her first stamp set, Happy Mail, a year ago, and I bought it as soon as I saw it. It's a small set ($7.99) but packed with fun elements that you can use over and over. And, RAH just released Happy Mail 2, another great set that works perfectly with Happy Mail.

RAH will be giving away a set of these stamps to a lucky winner.

And I used them to make this:

My card was directly inspired by this card, made by the uber talented Yana Smakula. Stamp a pattern in 3 or 4 shades of the same color and add a sentiment. I die cut the top layer to add some sweet scallops.

Add a nice note inside and make someone's day.

I used three shades of pink ink from Altenew -- Frosty Pink, Coral Berry, and Ruby Red.  I used the Coral Berry twice -- once in full strength and once stamped off.  The palest flower is Rose Gold ink from the Ton. My pad needs re-inking, so I got a great pale peachy color.

You can find all the information about the the link-up, and the giveaway on the RAH blog.  And here is a list of the fantastic participants in the hop (I snuck in!):

Joan (me)
Amy K
Amy T


Jul 17, 2016

Upping the Happy

Lisa Spangler, whose style I adore, reports that she's a bit obsessed with gouache. After reading her gouache posts, and seeing all the cool stuff she's been making, I promptly went to the local art supply store and bought a few tubes. They were a bit more expensive than I anticipated, so I realized I needed to hold off before getting any more got a few more tubes from amazon.  As much as I love to support brick and mortar stores, they were a LOT less at amazon.

And here's what I made (don't you think we need to up the happiness right about now?):

This linen cardstock works beautifully for this type of card because you can see the texture through the gouache and it easily holds up for a one layer card.  No warping at all.

See what I mean?

Very easy to make. And unlike, most efforts, this came out exactly as I imagined first try.  Truth!!!
  • Select a big bold sentiment, such as this one from Up the Happy from Essentials by Ellen.
  • Make an A2 card from white linen cardstock.
  • Paint yellow gouache (I used Primary Yellow by Winsor & Newton) as shown with a dry brush so that it is a bit bigger than the sentiment.
  • Let dry. This dried by the time I finished washing out the paint brush.
  • Stamp sentiment. I used Versafine Onyx. 
  • Color insides of letters with Tombow markers.
  • Needs something. Added a bit of this Little B washi tape.  
MOOD WHEN DONE = Ob$essed with gouache.  Thanks, Lisa!

Jul 14, 2016

Hero Arts Balloon Birthday

This was fun to make!

  • Embossed Hero Arts Birthday Balloons in white on watercolor paper.
  • Using a variety of Tombow markers, watercolored the balloons and the background.
  • Added speckles.
  • Painted white acrylic paint thinned with some water over the balloons and blotted.  
  • Stamped the sentiment from Hero Arts Balloon Animal Birthday with Versafine Onyx ink.
  • Needed something. 
  • Not the dreaded sequins.  Not after all that work.  Couldn't take the chance on bad sequin placement!
  • Die cut as shown and popped up with additional circle die cuts.
  • Did not ruin.  Whew.
  • Adhered to A2 white card.
MOOD WHEN DONE = Happy!!!  How you doing?

Jul 11, 2016

Essentials by Ellen July Mix It Up Challenge

Decided to play along with July's Essentials by Ellen Mix it Up Challenge, which was to use an Essentials by Ellen and a Neat and Tangled product.

  • Stamped a background with a small, slightly wonky, double line circle stamp from Neat and Tangled's Dala Horse. using Altenew Warm Sunshine ink.  
  • Stamped this darling sentiment from Essentials by Ellen Love You So, designed by Julie Ebersole, with Altenew Persian Blue ink.
  • Colored a tiny wooden star, which the so nice and talented Laura Norris sent to me, with a yellow Copic marker and adhered.  I had to cancel a a get together with Laura when she was visiting DC with her family earlier this year and I'm still bummed...
  • That's it!
MOOD WHEN DONE = Delighted!

Jul 6, 2016

Graphic One Layer Copic Cards Using Gina K Cardstock

NOTE:  If you are looking for the Right at Home blog hop, go here.
If you are looking for the Hero Arts blog hop, go here.
If you are looking for real talent go here. Thanks!

I've had a pack of Gina K's White Heavy Base Weight Cardstock for months (possibly years? HA!). As many of you already know, it does not bleed through when using Copics or other alcohol inks.

Shockingly, these cards worked out exactly as I had hoped the first time I tried.  That's happened possibly twice in ten years.

  • Tear a piece of cold pressed watercolor paper (I used Canson). The paper should be wider than your card.
  • Use the watercolor paper as a mask, and starting from the bottom, take a Copic or other alcohol marker and run it over the paper. Perfect for those of us with few skills!
  • Make a new mask for each color family change (yellow to green for example) and repeat as shown.
  • Stamp the sentiment using a Copic friendly ink.  I used Hero Arts Intense Black.

A few tips when using this cardstock:
  • It is heavy, and therefore, does not fold flat. That bothers me, but there's a quick fix. Cut, score, and fold the card as usual. Then, put the folded card through your die cutting machine, using clean unetched plates. The card will come out almost flat.  
  • It's $7.95 for 25 sheets, or .31 cents a sheet. Not the cheapest, but not crazy expensive. That's about .15 for an A2 card. I'll take it! It came perfectly packaged and unbent because Gina is Gina and she would make good if it did not.  
Here are two more cards I made using this same method.  The blue is kind of ocean like.

The sentiments are Beautiful Day by Altenew, Many Everyday Messages by Hero Arts, and Totally Awesome by Essentials by Ellen.  Change the colors and the sentiment and the possibilities are endless. I added a few accents on the red card with a Pico Clear Embellisher, but don't think that's needed.

MOOD WHEN DONE = Awesome! 

Jul 5, 2016

Hero Arts My Monthly Hero July Blog Hop

Hello friends! I'm participating in today's Hero Arts blog hop!  I'm sharing two cards using the new July My Monthly Hero kit. The kit features a gorgeous ocean theme, with boatloads of jellyfish, octopus, sea turtles, coral, etc. HA! Seriously, it is a huge set. As usual, once the kit sells out, it is gone. I'm predicting a sell out.

UPDATE:  THE KIT SOLD OUT and a winner has been selected.  

NOTE:  Hero Arts will donate 10% of profits from sales of the July 2016 kit to the World Wildlife Foundation for ocean preservation.  Sweet.

Card #1

Made this card with the add on stamp set, Color Layering Octopus. Apparently, octopus** are trendy. Who knew?

I stamped the solid octopus over the embossed layer, using Kuretake Clean Color markers on Strathmore Bristol paper. I learned from Kristina Werner that you can get a great image stamping with these markers if you condition the stamp with Ranger Black Archival ink (then clean the stamp!). It worked perfectly!  A little watercoloring over the image and on the panel, a little gold shimmer, black speckles, yada yada, and it was done.

Card #2

For my second card, I just wanted to make a pretty pattern.  So, I  used a bunch of small images from both sets, using every acrylic block I own, and carefully stamped out a pattern.  The tiny fish are great for filling in gaps.  Clean and fresh.

The main kit:

The Color Layering Octopus add on:

You like?  Me too!

Here's a list of the designers participating in the blog hop. Hero Arts will select one comment from all the blogs to win the kit. Good luck!

Hero Arts Blog
Yana Smakula
Amy Tsuruta
Clare Prezzia
May Park
Laura Bassen
Lydia Fiedler
Jessica Frost-Ballas
Justin Krieger
Jennifer McGuire
Jenn Shurkus
Veronica Zalis
Libby Hickson
Joan Bardee <----- me!

 ** There's a dispute over the proper word for more than one octopus. I'm sticking with octopus.

MOOD WHEN DONE = Good. Now, it's time to clean up the craft room!

Right at Home July Release Blog Hop

Hi there! Today I'm participating in Right at Home's blog hop to celebrate its July release. RAH is giving away two of the new sets from the comments on this blog hop.  You can get all the information about the release here.  And, you can see the release in the shop here.

I used the new Banner Alphabet set (on the left above) to make a soft, feminine birthday card, perfect for a pink and purple loving little girl. I love how each banner already includes the letters, numbers, etc. Because the stamps are solid, I was worried that I might not get a smooth image, but as you can see, I got terrific coverage (I used Altenew inks), and I did not use the MISTI.

  • Stamped balloons and strings from Right at Home's Let's Party May kit with pale gray ink onto white cardstock.
  • Colored the balloons with a Copic marker.
  • Stamped the banners as shown in gray ink. Punched holes in the banner and embroidered the banners with purple embroidery floss.
  • Stamped the letters and hand cut.
  • Adhered the letters and the bow.
  • Adhered the stitched panel onto an A2 white card with foam dimensional tape.
You can visit the entire blog hop by clicking on the links below:

Nicole // RAH Blog
Joan <---- me!