Tuesday, March 24, 2015

gossamer blue :: easter party favors and improvising

Hi all!  Yikes!  Easter is right around the corner, isn't it?  Less than 2 weeks until that bunny shows up bearing candy and Hot Wheels.  So today I've got a little Easter project that I shared last week on the blog at Gossamer Blue.  (And just in case you're like me, and you often find yourself in a creative jam at the eleventh hour, I have a few tips for improvising and working through it.)

Full disclosure here:  Due to a number of factors, I was creating all of my projects this month at the last minute.  Luckily, after a slow start, this was somewhat easy to do because the kits were so inspiring and I got ideas from everything I touched.  While it's not always that effortless to create on a whim--either with an amazing collection or without one--there are a few things you can do when you're in a creative crunch.

For one, I just went with my gut and created what I felt comfortable making.  I didn't try any fancy new techniques or tools (although, sometimes that actually does help get you out of a rut); I kept my projects fairly simple and stuck to what I know and like to do, and allowed myself some time to get acquainted with the kits, and my projects.  That means that I tried not to get stressed when, after 2 hours of sitting at my desk, pouring over all of the kits, I still had no concrete plan for what I was going to make.

That kind of expectation puts a lot of pressure on you and only makes things worse, so walk away for a little bit if you have to and come back to it.  What ended up happening for me was that each time I walked away, I came back with a clear head and the pieces fell into place.

Then there are the times when you're so sure you have a brilliant idea, yet when you sit down to create, it just doesn't work out.  That happens to me more times than I care to tell you about! 

The story behind this particular project is that it's based on the first notion I got way back when I received my March kits, a few weeks ago.  I looked at each piece in every kit, got really excited about all of the possibilities, and then happened upon the wood pieces from the LP Themed Add-on.  The little rabbits looked just like marshmallow Peeps and I've gone slightly bunny crazy since Nemy was born 2 years ago when I decided little rabbits would be her "thing."  Her birthday is in March so wouldn't adorable Peeps party favors be so cute at her party?  Yes!  They totally would have been...if I could have made them work.

The problem with that is I got distracted by all the unicorns in the kits and that killed it for the poor sweet bunnies.  However, I had gone out and bought the Peeps already, had the toothpicks and the bamboo skewers, and the little planting pots that I wanted to use.  I had no good ideas on what to do with the unicorns, but I had a semi-formed plan for the rest of the stuff.  So my birthday party favors became Easter favors.

I kept running into walls as I was trying to bring the concept to fruition, though.  I had the plant pots but, left naked, they were too boring (dull brown) for the colorful ideas I had.  What to do...I could cover them in paper, but paper's not very forgiving when it comes to tapered containers.  I could paint them; that would take awhile and they wouldn't be dry by the time I needed to decorate them.  (Even though I got the idea a few weeks ago, I didn't actually get to start this project until the day it was due!)  Well, crepe paper is all the rage and I happened to have a few rolls from the last time it was all the rage.  Crepe paper is more malleable and much thinner than patterned paper and wraps around the cups so easily.  Crepe paper for the win!

Since this is all about improvising, what do you do when you don't have crepe paper--or little planting pots for that matter?  Try using ribbon or twine and, depending on the width, wrap it around a few times.  You don't necessarily have to cover the entire cup.  Washi tape, glitter tape, fabric...any of those will work just as well, too.  As for the pots, standard paper cups would work--if you have anything fun or festive left over from your last party (or you've already done the shopping for the upcoming one), those would be great and probably wouldn't need the cover!

Then I remembered that, well, skewering the Peeps on a toothpick is a great idea, but how are they going to stand up in the cups?  These aren't filled with dirt or yummy cake into which I could sink the toothpick.  I didn't have any flower foam and had no time for shopping.  So I looked around my work table, saw some 1 1/8" wood spools and decided those would be perfect.  I have a bag of 100 of them in my cabinet so there were plenty to use.

I needed 2 of them, stacked on top of each other with a large Glue Dot in between to hold them together.  (The pointed ends of the picks will pierce through the Glue Dot and the sticks will slide to the bottom of the cup.)  Another Glue Dot on the bottom spool adheres it to the bottom of the plant pot.

What's that?  You don't have a bag of 100 wood spools in your drawer?  Try any other thread spool you do have, thick styrofoam, or cork.

Then it was time for the only part of my plan I had actually had the foresight to think through...the Peep on the toothpick and a paper flag.  For the flag, a piece of doily, matching crepe paper, and a snippet of patterned paper from the kits; simple, but colorful. 

Next up, adding some fill to the cups.  This gold party tinsel is my new favorite craft supply and I've been using it to dress up many of my projects lately.  I buy it at the local discount store.

If you can't find any, try Easter grass, shredded paper, or kraft shred, sold in the gift wrap aisle of most big box stores.  You could also fill these with jelly beans or a similar candy (and that might solve the problem of anchoring your picks, too), though if you are using the plant pots, I recommend lining them with food-safe paper first.

Easy, right?  And kinda cute, too.  The finishing touch were the little tags with the bows, with the wood bunting spelling out Easter.  The bunting is from the LP Themed Add-on and you can find the paper for the bows in the 6x6 paper pad from the Bits & Pieces kit.

This was not my original plan...you'll not see those adorable wood bunnies anywhere in this post.  But things like this happen to me all. the. time.  It's ok to just go with it and change your plans.  Don't hold onto your original idea so tightly that you lose sight of another one.  And don't panic if you have the perfect idea but lack the perfect supplies to go with them.  It's all about mindset; instead of thinking about what you DON'T have, think about what you DO have.  You'll think of something; trust me!  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

crate paper :: topping off large gifts

It's no secret that I love sprucing up little packages to give away.  Small details are such fun--add a sequin here, a tiny tag there--they've become my favorite paper craft to produce.  But what do you do when you have a larger gift to give?  We can't always give jewelry and small notebooks...how do you present a statement-making present on a larger scale?  It's easy!

The Confetti collection from Crate Paper and Maggie Holmes is all about parties and celebrations and features decor like garlands, oversized balloons, and large Paper Pinwheels.  Nemy just turned 2 and I hung these up at her party, as is, without any added embellishments.  When it was time to take them down, I wondered what else could be done with them...

How about package toppers for large gifts?  They make the perfect accessory actually--they're festive, can be decorated, and are sized just right for big presents (I've used the 8" x 8" and 10" x 10" accents here). 

Because of the 3-dimensional rosette look to these, you don't need to do much more to them.  Yet I did want to add some extra touches and the easiest way to layer rosettes is to add more circular elements, which is why I chose paper doilies and another medallion from the pack of Standouts.  I wanted this to be a statement piece, though, like nothing my recipient had ever before received.  Gold strands of tinsel, paired with a ribbon of crepe and patterned paper offered color and shine.  The 'hooray' and tinsel strands remind me of a New Year's Eve celebration popper, ready to POP and spread cheers of joy all around.  That's just the idea I was hoping to convey for my recipient, too.

The last detail was this 'happy' toothpick flag--the sweetest finishing touch and another burst of color and flair.

Gift bags are incredibly handy for larger presents and these days they're widely available in beautiful designs.  But if you want to personalize the wrap or bring in some handmade touches, these pinwheels go a long way!

This aqua rosette was a bit trickier to decorate because it's not flat in the center like the gold polka dot was.  To navigate around that, I designed a cluster of embellishments, delicately placed.  The blue medallion Standout sits right on the raised area in the middle, while a half doily is adhered just above it, and more tinsel is scrunched up and bunched up to create some height around the 'nub' so the rest of the elements aren't laying flat.
(*Tip:  Even though most of these embellishments are adhesive backed, I used hot glue to secure each piece.  Because the surface area isn't solid, I had to make certain that the pieces would hold firmly onto whatever they were stuck.  Also, since this will be moved around in transit and it's a 'delicate flower', so to speak, I wanted to ensure it's stability and longevity.)  

I couldn't resist making an enclosure card out of this "Happy Day" scrap from the 'Party' patterned paper.  It really is a perfect match!

I purposely avoided putting a name or even an occasion on these decorations, the idea being that these are the kinds of things that are nice to re-use.  This way, if I give it to my friend for her bridal shower, she has the freedom to use it again for a birthday or wedding; it has less of a chance of sitting in her closet until she needs it for a bridal shower.

While it's always a pleasure to fashion sweet little gifts, it can be just as fun to create larger packaging when the need arises.  Big or little, a gorgeously wrapped gift is always appreciated--no matter what's in inside the box.  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

gossamer blue inspiration blog hop :: march :: floral barrettes

Hello, hello, paper fans!  Have you come for the Gossamer Blue Blog Hop?  You should have arrived from the lovely blog of Mel Blackburn if you're moving right along--no doubt she had something fantastic for you.  If you've received your March kits, then you know how cool they are; if you don't have any yet, you'd better hurry because they're almost gone!  I loved that they were very romantic and feminine, yet had a modern, graphic, edgy twist to them.

The first thing I made was a set of hair pins for my 8-year-old niece, Violet.  I used only the Main Kit to make the entire set, including the card to which I attached the pins.  These were so easy to make, too!  I started with some plain bobby pin findings, hot glued the Pink Paislee tulle flowers to them, and glued a My Mind's Eye gold enamel dot to the center of the flower.  Done!  (*The flowers come with a sticky foam dot for easy placement, but I was able to carefully detach them from each flower.  If you don't want to risk damage to the flower, I recommend covering the sticky dot with a card stock circle before adhering to the hair pin.)

For the black and mint sketch clips, I glued enamel dots to the asterisks from the alpha pack and then adhered those to the pins.  For a little extra detail, I wound pale pink thread around the top of each barrette several times and secured.  This took some time, mainly because I'd never done anything like that before, but it's not difficult!

To make the card, I simply trimmed down a piece of Pinkfresh Studio patterned paper and adhered that to a thicker stock--which happened to be the packaging that came with the tulle flowers.  It's sturdy so it doesn't bow.  I laid out each pin, piercing 2 sets of holes on either side of them, then stitched the barrettes to the card.  They'll stay put in transit but can easily be removed when Vi is ready to wear them.

It needed a little something more at the top so I spelled out F-A-N-C-Y in the sketched alphas--I love the contrast of the graphic black and white against the playful and colorful doodles!

The last thing I did was stamp 'hello' from the Main Kit stamp set so I could personalize the gift with my niece's name.  Because the stamp has a border at the top that I didn't want to include, I masked it off with tape, inked it up, removed the tape, and then put stamp to paper so the image was just the word with the line after it.

The gold heart puffy sticker is actually in the Life Pages Main Kit, and was added only because I tried to draw my own heart with the pink pen and seriously mucked it up!  I should have known better; next time I will leave the doodling to the pros.

These were some super-fun kits and I hope you've been inspired today to put them to good use.  Head on over to my friend Sabrina Alery's page now.  In fact, I think I'll join you because I know she has something we won't want to miss!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

wrap it is here!!

"The impact of a well wrapped gift is difficult to describe.  It’s like an unwritten expression of thoughtfulness, a mark of the giver's creativity and generosity."
                                              - Dunne With Style

Awhile back, I discovered Sam at Dunne With Style through her awesome gift swap The Creative Exchange.  I participated in the last round of the 2014 swap (and won a prize for my wrapping skills!), and got the worst girl crush ever on Ms. Dunne.  She has since become one of my most favorite people.  A few months ago--before I revealed how smitten with her I actually was--she asked if I'd like to contribute to this gift wrap idea she had, which was to assemble a group of her favorite wrappers and ask us each to curate a kit of gift wrap embellishments, which she would then release on a monthly basis.

"Let’s face it--a well wrapped gift is a gift in itself and an empty cardboard box would suffice as a gift for me if it's beautifully wrapped.  But sometimes where to even begin and having to source all those little ‘bits and pieces’ can leave inspiration and motivation levels low ...  Let us gather, collect and even make our favorite things in our favorite colors and leave you not only inspired but ready to create gorgeous looking gifts."

After all of these months of planning, Wrap It is here!  Over the next 9 months, you will have a chance to snatch up 9 different kits filled with gorgeous things that will make you want to wrap, wrap, and then wrap some more!  Including Sam, the other ladies are amazingly talented, and you can get an idea of what each month's kit will entail from the sneak peek photos we've all submitted.  The 9th kit is the special edition Christmas box which is a collaboration by all of us.

All kits are on sale NOW, but are limited to 50 boxes each so even if it doesn't come out until October, once it sells out, it's gone.  You can buy a 1, 3, 6, or 9 month subscription--the 9 month subscription includes the Christmas box at a 50% discount!  Sam has all of the details on her website, and you can purchase the kits in her online shop.  (NOTE:  Prices are in Australian dollars, and kits ship from there, also.  If you're in the US, this works out to roughly $206 + shipping for the 9 month subscription at the time of this writing.)

These look pretty awesome, right?  Everyone's style is so different, but I love each and every one of these peeks!
(NOTE: These images are NOT indicative of the full kit; those will be released on the 1st of the respective month. The sneak peeks contain elements that will be within the boxes and an overall feel for the creative's style.)

You can see more of the entire Creative Team here:

Sam of Dunne With Style // Amber of Amber Soleil // Rebecca of Thurston Post
Danie of Blank Goods // Kathryn of Studio Cultivate // Emma of Emma Kate Co
Nadine of le petit paperie // Sarah of Sarah Bowe

And here's a closer look at my ensemble, coming in June...

I do hope you'll take a look and if you have any questions at all, I'm happy to answer them.  Stay tuned for the full kit reveals; you can even sign up for Sam's mailing list to get the scoop before everyone else.  I hope you're as excited as I am to get ready to Wrap It!!

Friday, March 13, 2015

technique :: textured tags

Happy Friday, folks!  Are you ready for the weekend?  We've got a couple of sick kids and must find some way to beat the 90+ degree heat we'll see...but I'm not complaining--I've got some good things lined up on the blog for the weekend, too, so that should be really fun!

Today I'm talking texture.  I love layering with different textures and it's a rare piece I make that doesn't include at least one surface that isn't flat patterned paper.  I'll show you my typical process for making a tag and offer some insight into the way I go about choosing different pieces (it's seriously mind-blowing).  This post is an extended version of my recent Tip/Technique post that was on the Crate Paper blog earlier this week.

If you take a look at the recent Crate collections, you will find them laden with different textures...burlap, foil, vellum, glitter, wood, canvas, fabric.  I get so excited when the new lines come out to see what new textures they've added.  Craft Market, for example, is loaded up with all kinds of good things!  And there's been a recent trend in flat paper of taking textured materials (like wood, glitter, and brick) and using them as designs.  The bottom piece of paper in this photo, 'Picket Fence', is from Maggie Holmes' Styleboard line, and is my go-to background for photographing my small works. A dear friend recently inquired about this very backdrop, a little envious, I think, because she thought it was a beautifully weathered table.  She was shocked when I told her it was just a piece of paper!  (My goodness, I WISH it was a table, or even just a piece of real aged wood!) 

Aside from the scrapbook manufacturer's products, you can find texture elsewhere--or even make it yourself.  For my tag today, I added lace, a paper doily, and thread, and also used my edge distressing tool by Tim Holtz.

Alternating textures is my most favorite way to 'dress' up a project; I find that the more layers and finishes I include, the deeper and more interesting my piece of work becomes.  Textures add dimension, taking away the dullness of simply stacking flat patterned paper or stickers, but not necessarily adding bulk.  To demonstrate, I piled on 9 different textures to this tag, including glitter paper, thread, foil, and the distressed paper edges.

Confession:  I'm kind of a lazy crafter!  I tend to pick and pull from the scraps and bits that are within arm's reach when I'm sitting at my desk.  This is mostly because my paper cutter is often covered with products and it takes too much time to move everything off of it to trim new papers!  When I'm working on a big project, I'll cut things down (that's where the scraps come from, after all), but to make some quick tags or cards, bits it is!  (Hence the reason I'm using this already trimmed down 'my heart is full' piece.  I could have cut the same piece of plain peach floral 12x12 paper but that would have meant several extra steps when this was readily available.)

I usually try to alternate the different surfaces, as well, by layering flat-texture-flat-texture.  Not always, though, but when there's paper on top of paper, that's when the distressing really helps to add definition between the layers.

For an airier feeling, I didn't entirely adhere each piece; putting adhesive only in the middle and leaving the borders to curl up or hang freely.  The eye moves around the work, taking in the quick glimpses of each surface, from the bold glitter backdrop to the dainty doily rim, to the soft lace, before coming to rest on the pop of the "Happy Day" embossed stickers.

And there you have it--the finished piece, and how it came about.  Well?  Is your mind blown?  I really just like what looks good together and will spend a fair amount of time rearranging and holding things out in front of me to see what looks the best before putting surface to glue and making that permanent commitment.

On a side note, I've been knee-deep in this peach/navy/gold color scheme for a few weeks after working on a custom embellishment kit for a favorite customer.  I'm officially loving it, how about you?  I'll be back with you soon!