Monday, August 31, 2009

Less Is More

I'm not known for my simple designs. Seems I begin with all good intentions to keep things simple then I find myself going and going, not knowing when to stop and having a ball in the process. This time I think I may have accomplished that elusive task of creating something simple without it being boring.

The central motif was accomplished with a cut-and-fold template by POP-UPS by Plane Class ( and double-sided paper. In this example I used plain paper, red on one side, white on the other. There are double-sided papers made for this type of application. What is important is that the paper is text weight, NOT card weight, or else the folding won't be as crisp. This panel was adorned with stickers and adhered onto navy blue card stock. All gold stickers from StarForms, Netherlands.

There is no multiple matting, no stamping, no embossing, no distressing, no fancy or extraneous anything. Just three ingredients: paper, stickers, card stock. It doesn't come any simpler.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

On a Roll

(Note: Click on image for a larger view)

Okay, so perhaps I'm not being very imaginative but I've done it again. I used the format of another layout challenge to create a card that I need for the immediate future. This time the challenge in question is the weekly layout challenge run by the Oriental Stamp Art Yahoo group that I belong to. I found this layout quite a challenge and didn't know where to go with it, but once I started I couldn't stop. I used lots of gold outline stickers, something I still have to get accustomed to. These stickers are very delicate and I'm always afraid I'm going to break one. I managed not to break any stickers this time around. Let's hope I'm as lucky next time.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Birthday Swan

(Note: Click on image for a larger view)
I have a number of birthdays coming up in the next couple of months that I will be making cards for. One of those is that of my parents who happen to share the same birthday. I find it difficult to create a card that would be suitable for both of them since they have different preferences as to colors and motifs. What is suitable for one may not be to the others liking.

Paper Craft Planet, one of the papercrafting sites I belong to, offers a weekly sketch challenge for its members to participate in. Although I haven't taken part in one of PCP's challenges for a while, I decided to create a birthday card using the sketch that was featured. I chose bold colors, something that would appeal to my father, and a beautiful swan image that is sure to please my mother.

Although I'm not featuring this card in a tutorial, here are some of the details of its creation. The layout is simple enough to figure out on your own.

Material Details:
- Patterned cardstock: DCWV Taj Mahal Mat Stack
- Embossing pattern: Cuttlebug "Swiss Dots" embossing folder
- Swan image: Stamp Zia
- Gold corner and sentiment stickers: Jeje Produkts, Netherlands

Coloring Details:
- The shimmery swan was painted with US ArtQuest Stargazers Watercolor Palette in Nova White.
- The balance of the image was colored with Prismacolor Premier Coloring Pencils and blended with odorless mineral spirits (OMS) and a blending stump. Colors used were:
*Violet Blue (top peak and bottom wave)
*True Blue and Light Cerulean Blue (water)
*Orange (beak)
*Goldenrod and Canary Yellow (sky)

A few notes:
- The swan appears to be surrounded by a golden yellow mat. In fact the image was embossed with black embossing powder onto a golden mustard colored cardstock (CS) which was trimmed about 1/4" from the image, giving the appearance of a separate mat. The Prismacolor pencils were laid down and blended on this mustard paper. In spite of the colored background, the Prismacolors laid down true, even color (an advantage to using quality products).
- The mat layer behind the swan is navy blue CS oversprayed with Krylon Webbing Spray in Gold. The next mat layer is gold paper with a satin sheen.
- The blue panel with the raised embossed dots is edged with a gold paint marker.
- This was created as a card front that was subsequently adhered to a base card cut from Astrobrights Gold CS (not visible in photo).

If you have any questions about this card, feel free to contact me at I'd love to hear from you. I'd also be pleased if you would leave a comment below. Thanks for stopping by.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tips and Tricks

(Note: Click on image for a larger view)

In my Respect Mother Earth tutorial, I took you through the specific steps I used to create the card you see to the left, but as I mentioned there is no reason you can't change things up a little bit to suit your personal taste. Here are a few adaptations you can use in creating just about any card with this layout:

Change the focal panel:
- Instead of stamping the tree image repeatedly to create the panel across the center of the card, you can just as easily use a patterned paper or even a pretty wrapping paper. This can save you time.

- How about some texture? You can opt for running your center panel through an embossing folder instead of using an image. A pretty foil or shimmery paper would look wonderful with an embossed texture.

- Deckled edge? Any decorative edge could work just as well. Even an edge punch could be used to create some interest. Or you can choose to use no decorative edge and cut it straight.

- Substitute the center panel with a beautiful wide ribbon, maybe something velvety or glittered.

Change the orientation:
- Who says the layout has to be horizontal? Turn it on its side. Or try looking at the layout in a mirror. Sometimes just a shift in the way you look at things can open up a whole new creative insight.

Change the colors:
- With the exception of the base layer, my card was monochromatic in shades of green with gold as an accent. You can spice things up with more color. It doesn't have to be a lot to make a big difference. Just imagine my card with a yellow base layer and a red polka ribbon on it. That would have a totally different feel to it.

Making Multiples:
- Okay, I'll confess. I had been creating several cards that incorporated the same central tree panel. Of course I didn't cut and stamp each panel individually. I cut, stamped and gilded several lengths from 12 x 12 cardstock. I did the same for the dark green layer below it. I glued them together and cut them to fit my cards as I needed them. When creating more than one or two cards at a time, it's always faster to work in "batches". Stamp a batch of main images and sentiments, cut a batch of ribbons, etc. Often you will end up with leftover scraps large enough to use on another card.

These are just a few of the many, many options open to you when you're creating cards. Your art is a expression of yourself and you are like no one else. So don't confine yourself to "cookie cutter" cards. Add your personal touch to the layouts you like and make them your own.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Respect Mother Earth card tutorial

(Note: Click on an image for a larger view)

The layout used to create the Respect Mother Earth card featured in my last blog post is a simple and versatile one that can be adapted to a multitude of occasions. The instructions below will show you how to create the card I made. Keep in mind that EVERYTHING is negotiable and there's no reason why you can't change the color scheme, the image, the sentiment or anything else. The details are up to you. Use this as a jumping off point and make it your own.

Materials list:
- One A2 size card or an 8-1/2" X 5-1/2" piece of cardstock folded in half (card base)
- 2" X 5-1/4" piece of white cardstock cut with deckled edge scissors or rotary cutter on the long edges
- 2-1/4" X 5-1/4" piece of dark green cardstock
- A small piece of dark green cardstock (approx. 3" X 3")
- A small piece of medium green cardstock (approx. 3" X 3")
- 12 inch length of 1/2" wide gold-edged green ribbon
- Nestabilities Oval and Scalloped Oval dies
- Gold paint marker
- Three shades of green dye ink (light, medium, and dark)
- Gold pigment ink
- Gold or clear embossing powder
- Craft heat tool
- Gold Dragonfly brad
- Acrylic stamps as follows:
Tree: Inkadinkado Holiday Silhouettes #97289;
Flourish: Inkadinkado Flourishes #97618;
Sentiment: Stampology clear stamps Who Cares? #AL3457

1. Randomly stamp the tree image across the white strip of cardstock, working first with the lightest shade of green before moving on to the next shade.

2. Run the gold marker across the long edges of the white and dark green cardstock.

3. Center the white CS onto the green CS and adhere, making sure the short edges are aligned.

4. From the length of ribbon, cut it in two with one piece measuring about 6-1/2" long. Wrap and knot the shorter piece of ribbon around the longer piece of ribbon. Arrange the tails in a pleasing manner and trim them at an angle, making sure the knot is about 1/3 of the way down from one end. Adhere this ribbon to the bottom of the tree strip, tucking the ends behind and making sure the knot is approximately in the middle between the center and left edge of the card.

5. With the Flourish stamp and the darkest shade of green ink, stamp the image twice on the left side of the card front, at the top edge and the bottom edge. Center and adhere the tree panel to the card front. This will cover any gaps or overlaps in the stamping and all you see are the swirls peeking out above and below.

6. Use your sentiment stamp to determine the proper size oval die to use and cut one oval from the medium green CS. Cut the corresponding scalloped oval from the dark green cardstock.

7. Carefully stamp and emboss the sentiment in the center of the oval with gold pigment ink and embossing powder. Run gold paint marker around the edge. Center and adhere oval to the scalloped oval.

8. Determine where on the oval you want to place the dragonfly brad and punch a hole in the appropriate place. After adding the brad and spreading the "legs" apart to hold it in place, push down on it against the tabletop with your finger to get it to lie as flat as possible.

9. Adhere the sentiment oval onto the card, centering it on the ribbon and placing it on the right hand side of the card.

Your card is done! Sign it, photograph it and send it to some lucky person.

Happy crafting!

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Angel's Inspiration

(Note: Click on an image for a larger view)
No, this isn't a post about divine inspiration nor is it about a card featuring angels. It concerns my daughter, Angel, who sometimes accompanies me on trips to my local crafts store and is many times the source of some of my creative "pearls". She attends a high school that emphasizes environmental careers and sustainable living and is very interested in all things "green". When I came across a set of Stampology clear stamps with eco-friendly messages she insisted that I purchase it straight away. Now you have to understand that her excitement over the stamps was not because she was looking forward to creating with them. She was excited to see what I would create with them. Well, it doesn't take much to get my creative juices flowing so I sat down with my new toys right away and came up with this simple card.

Stamp credits:
Tree: Inkadinkado Holiday Silhouettes #97289;
Flourish: Inkadinkado Flourishes #97618;
Sentiment: Stampology clear stamps Who Cares? #AL3457

Check out my next post for a tutorial on how to create this card.

Earlier in the summer, Angel had chosen another stamp set that reflected her passion for all things aquatic. When she went away to her first job working in a summer camp, I created a card and tucked it in her bag for her to find when she unpacked. I made it in such a rush I didn't realize that I had stamped the envelope upside down. No matter. Now it has "character" and provides a little color to the memory she has of finding the card.

Stamp Credits:
Jelly Fish, starfish, bubbles, school of small fish: Heidi Grace Designs Clear Stamps Beyond the Sea #28834_5
Slender Seaweed on card: Me and Carrie Lou, Lakeland, Florida
Large Seaweed on envelope: Magenta 14520-J
Mosaic tile stamp: Starving Artistamps

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Friday, August 7, 2009

A message of thanks to my comment posters...

Hi, everyone. Thank you for all the positive feedback and the wonderful comments you leave on my blog. I would love to respond to you but Blogspot doesn't appear to allow that option, or perhaps I just don't know how to do it. If ever you wish to contact me with questions concerning any of the projects I post, please feel free to send me an email to I'd love to hear from you. Thanks again.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Tri-Shutter card - Take 2 with an Asian Flavor

(Note: Click on an image for a larger view)

As I mentioned in my last post, I was going to create a tri-shutter card with an Asian motif for a layout challenge promoted by Oriental Stamp Art, the stamp and swap group I belong to. Here is what I came up with. This is a full card front version, just slightly different from the card on the previous post which has a T-front.

As with my first tri-shutter card, I really had little problem creating the card base itself. It was the actual embellishing that brought me to a halt. After creating the card front, I just stared at the pretty red paper for the longest time wondering to myself, "Now what?". After a few false starts things began to come together. I particularly like the gold microbead "ribbon" behind the row of coins under the main image on the front of the card. Super sticky redline tape made this easy as pie to accomplish. The beads and the coins are all adhered to the tape and won't come off. It's great stuff.

In spite of becoming "brain-dead" at the point of decorating the card, I really like this pattern and will definitely make some more in the future. Now I'm interested in other cards with intricate and interesting cuts and folds. Hmmm, maybe this is another direction to explore. Yeah, right... as if I need something else to do.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tri-Shutter Card

(Note: Click on an image for a larger view)

One of the crafts groups I belong to offers a weekly layout challenge where its members are invited to create a card according to a featured layout. This week's challenge is called a tri-shutter card, an interesting bit of paper engineering that offers myriad possibilities for decorating. Splitcoast Stampers has a great tutorial for this card and you can see it here.

For my first attempt I created a card for my daughter's friend who has been like family to her during their first summer as camp counselors. I was told the young miss prefers "red and green, like Christmas" as her colors of choice so, armed with that information, I began to create. After staring blankly at the paper for an eternity this is what I came up. After all was said and done, I liked it.

The embossed textures and large flowers were done with Cuttlebug folders and dies. The ovals on the front were cut with Nestabilities dies. It is difficult to see from the photo but the red scalloped oval is flocked, giving it a velvety texture. That was achieved with Fun Flock. It is embellished with self-adhesive rhinestones that I picked up at a local 99 cent store. My thanks to Annette Warkentin at About Art Accents for the sentiment stamp which I received as a generous freebie from her. (She's got beautiful stamps and other goodies at her site. Definitely check it out.)

The smaller flowers and leaves were cut with the Empunchlar hand punch system (I don't recommend this particular punch as it has limited functionality). The swirls and flourishes were hand-drawn with gel pens.

Now that I have cut my teeth on this particular layout, I think I will create another one and submit it to the weekly challenge. That one has to have an Asian theme so this red/green card doesn't qualify. No matter, I'll just have to start crafting again. Yippee!

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva