Thursday, September 30, 2010

Advent Calendar

 I've been thinking about this project for a long time.  Implimentation has been my problem.  In my family everyone loves A Muppet Christmas Carol (and A Muppet Family Christmas and a Muppet...) and we often sing the song about "Sleeps til Christmas".  I knew what the background would look like and I had a pretty good idea what the sides of the blocks would look like.  What I couldn't figure out was how to make the blocks.  I wanted them to be sturdier than a cardboard block but I didn't think modge podge on wooden blocks would work (I wanted each side to be exactly the same size).  So, I searched and searched.  Finally, I found the photo cubes.  You know the ones I mean, they were all the rage in the '70's.  Anyway, they were 3.5 inches and perfectly square.  I would have preferred something 4 inch square but I haven't found that just yet.

In case you would like to make one of these yourself, I will have the numbers you need for each cube in order to make it work.

Here is another picture without the cubes. 

This shows a few of the sides of the cubes.
 and some more of the cubes.  These aren't as fancy as some of the others but when you are paper piecing items this small, it can get a little tricky.

After making this project, I thought about using this as a wonderful project to teach many different techniques.  Way until you see all the ones I used and think of the additional ones you could add.  I didn't do any heat embossing on this version (I think I will the next time). 

This is my favorite side of the cube:
 Don't you love the snowflake design on the background paper?  I used the Cuttlebug Snowflake Embossing Folder. 
 I used flocking on the pompom and cuff of the hat.  Doesn't it look fun?

And this is my least favorite
I'm taking a stamping class soon.  I'm hoping that might help.  The trees were embossed on the bottom and then I lightly ran a pine green stamp over them.  It feels too linear and not quite put together.  I liked the Burgandy Stickles on the holly berries.  I tried stickling the leaves also but it was just too much. 

 My all time favorite Cricut cart is A Child's Year.  I think this one is simple but elegant.  I used the Cuttlebug Holly Embossing Folder for the base.  Then I added one piece of bling -- the star.

 I like the way the nutcracker and reindeer came out.  Again, I dry embossed using my Cuttlebug.  The paper piecing on the nutcracker was... challenging.  I ended up inking the eyes and the mouth because I couldn't figure out an alternative way of doing it.  The reindeer had to be cut twice because there are no layers to that cut and I REALLY wanted him to have golden antlers.

I really like this snowflake.  The embossing is the same as the one I used behind the Santa hat.

The last ones have paper piecing and inking only.  Given the complexity of the designs, I didn't think they needed a lot of additional work (or maybe I was just getting tired). 

I hope you like my advent calendar.  I'm thinking about designing a new one using only SVG's.  No carts at all.  What do you think?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Suitcase Mini Paperbag Album

Today I have a paperbag mini album to show you.  I initially had the idea of making this album after seeing Kathy Files of Paper Phenomenon make mini paperbag albums as a back pack. If you get a chance, take a look at some of Kathy's great projects.  She makes a lot of three dimensional things and is doing lots of cool Halloween crafts.   I loved the back pack idea but I wanted to give this as a gift to an adult.  In looking at the cricut carts I knew there were a number of travel related cuts.  I wanted the album to be vacation/travel themed, thus the suitcase and all of the pages in the mini album.   I used 16 paper bags for the pages and 34 tags or mats to go in the different pockets.

Here is a picture of the entire album looking down from the top after it has been assembled.

I found the suitcase that fit my needs on the Heritage cart.  I liked the details, especially on the top of the suitcase.  I must admit, it would have been easier to cover with the patterned paper if it had been a little more rounded.  Using Design Studio I sized the suitcase as large as would fit on 12 x 12 mat.  I then flipped the image on the other half of a 12 x 24 mat.  I also added a 1.5 x 11 rectangle for the bottom of the cover.  All of these were cut out (without welding) in chip board.

I bought my chipboard from Bug Junkie a few months ago.  I love the way this chip board cuts.  You can buy the chipboard from her on the left hand column of her website.  It is just below her followers.  While you are there, you should check out her lovely shape albums.  She is a very talented creator. 

 Here is the entire thing opened up with the paper covering it.  Here are the layers as you would see in this picture:
1.  Layer of brown cardstock cut with the rectangle welded to both of the suitcase cuts (layer against the table)
2. Layer of chip board -- no welds
3. Layer of chip board identical to layer two
4. Layer of brown cardstock identical to Layer 1
5. Pattern paper for the front and back of the suitcase

I also cut the handle an additional 4 times so that I could use some textured paper for the feel of alligator skin.  I covered the seam between the handle and the suitcase with a VERY large brad which I affixed with hot glue.

The lock for the opener is on the front but it is purely decorative.  The back is where mine opens.  I put a circle of velcro on the back to close the album.  I used Tim Holtz locks, keys and chains.  I couldn't believe how easy the chain was to cut using my Bind-It-All metal snips.

Now for the inside.  The reason they call these paperbag albums is because the pockets or pages are made with... Paper bags.  I actually used craft bags from HL.  Below is a picture of the bag as it comes out of the package.  I scored all of the edges.

 Then I folded the bottom over and scored the new seam.  This next picture shows what the bag looks like when you start inking.  I must tell you, I scored and inked every edge.  I inked so many edges that I ran out of ink in my Cats Eye Color Box chalk.  I spent many an hour watching TV and inking edges.  Not only are all of the bags inked, but all of the paper covering the bags is inked.

 Here is a mat and a half before it has been covered in paper but after it was inked.
 And here are a few of the tags I used for photo mats.  Notice, they have been inked and are awaiting the pattern paper.

The paper I used to cover all of the paper bags and many of the tags and mats came from three packs.  I love these paper pads made by paper House Productions. (I even bought a second pad of the European Travel pad).  I first bought them at M's but then also found them at HL.  The European pad has a lot of sepia tones, tans, a little bit of glitter and some grays.
 The US travel has more golden tones, some tans and some greens.  It has some black and red pages for Las Vegas that I probably won't use but they are fun.  My favorite is the back of the South Dakota pages.  It is a wonderful Native American design with a beautiful golden background. 
 To add a little color I also used this Global Treks tablet from Deja Views.  It has beautiful rust colors, wonderful rich greens and some yummy purples.

Here is the inside of the album's front cover.  I love the paper with Big Ben.  The lower set of pages says, "We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment."  I thought that was a wonderful way to start off the book.  If you notice, the book isn't especially "frilly".  I used many embellishments from Tim Holtz.  The tags have simple ribbons holding them together or twine or chains.
A close-up of the Yellowstone cut from Destinations.  The glue hadn't completely dried when I took this picture.

A picture from the Spanish Steps in Rome with the Rome cut from Destinations.

I love the way the cuts from Destinations cart look on the different pages.  I wouldn't recommend cutting the Destinations cuts any smaller than 2 inches.  They can get a little tricky and tough on my poor E.

I love this mat and a half with the train.  The picture underneath is from Ghent and the paper clips spell out Ghent.  It actually opens up for another set of pictures.  I tried to add as many hidden little areas as possible.

What do you think of the Moab charm?  I haven't found the pictures for that page, yet.

 Remember that card you saw earlier that had been inked but didn't have paper yet?  Here is another version of that car, this one had the parts cut out of it so you can see the pictures below.  The one above shows the car in the pocket.  The one below has been pulled out of the pocket.

Here are a few pictures of the book before I did any stamping and without the tags, mats or pictures.

These are a number of the tags that have been stamped on the back.  I don't have a lot of stamps and I don't always feel comfortable stamping things.  I purchased a few more travel related stamps and used them liberally through out this project.  Luckily I had some of the Forest Moss Distress Inks for the green tags.  I think they looked pretty good.  I used Walnut Stain and Antique Linen for the brown shades.

I hope you have enjoyed my project and been inspired to create your own mini album. This one was a ton of fun, even if it was a lot of work.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pizza Box Wedding Shower Gift

I recently needed to make a wedding shower gift for some family friends.  These friends enjoyed coming to our home and having homemade pizza (one of Moma's specialties).  So, the shower gift became pizza related but it needed a little something extra.  I made a pizza and box using SCAL.  I also decorated the top of the box using the wedding invitation. 

First the pizza box.

This picture shows the design on the invitation with the pizza box design.  I scanned the invitation into my computer -- converting it into a .jpeg.  Then I imported the scan into inkscape.  I cleaned it up and turned it into an svg.  I had to use inkscape because the contrast wasn't great enough and the scan created some added marks.  I then traced the svg in SCAL.  Instead of cutting it, I used my markers to draw the design.  It would have looked better if I had a finer tip on the pen but the only brown pen for my Cricut was a Crayola Mini Pip Squeak.  You can see the brown one still has the pencil finger grip on it.  To draw with your Cricut you take out the blade with the housing and replace it with the pen.  It is easier if you have one of the housings being sold these days but I don't.  I make do with my $.10 pencil grips.

Here is the pizza box open with the pizza sitting in the box.

I found the pizza as an SVG from the Frugal Crafter.   She used them as pizza party invitations.  You should check out how cute her invites were.  She even included the mushrooms and green peppers in the SVG.  If you don't have SCAL you could be creative and use a moon for the top of the mushrooms, a parentheses for the green peppers and a circle for the pepperoni.  The crust is also a bigger circle. The cheese might be tougher but I think it could be done.  The George and Basic Shapes cart would be the place to start.

Here is a close-up of the toppings.
By inking each topping before putting it on the pizza, it added texture and made them even more realistic.  Look at those mushrooms and peppers. 

And don't you think the crust cooked for just the right amount of time.  It has such a wonderful brown coloring.  I'm especially pleased with the crust, if only I could get my real pizzas to look like this one.

And finally, the inside of the pizza.  The whole reason for the box and the pizza was to give the bride the pizza recipe. Once again, each page of the pizza was inked.

In order to print the recipe on each page I first printed it on a piece of paper.  I used my Tombow removable adhesive to place each "crust" over the printed piece of paper.  I then printed the exact same thing and ran the paper with the "crust" back through my printer.  I did this for each page until they were all printed.  Then, I used permanent adhesive -- I like my ATG gun -- to a fix each page to the next.  Then, I had a stack of pizzas in the box but it looked like one thick crust.
This is the final product.  You can see that the crusts didn't line up perfectly but because they were all inked it I think it looked OK.

So, the next time you need to make a gift, I suggest thinking outside the pizza box, or maybe inside the pizza box.

I hope you enjoyed my project.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Birthday Card using Graphic 45 Steampunk Debutante

I made this card for a friend of mine.  She celebrated a birthday recently.  She is always so fashionable and chooses all the perfect looks -- from her clothes to her house to her designs.  She is a graphic designer so I'm always a bit nervous sending her anything I've made.

The idea for this card came from OkieLadyBug,  She did a series of cards using images from Graphic 45.  Hers are much nicer than mine but it made me think about how to use the gorgeous paper they have.  I looked at it in my LSS but didn't buy any because I couldn't think of a way to use it and it isn't cheap paper.  Here are some of Okie's cards

While I'm on the topic, the ribbon on this card is also Okie Lady Bug's fault.  I think it is too big in this place but... what is a girl to do?  A couple of weeks ago Okie posted that she bought a ton of ribbon from Ribbons and Bows Oh My.  So, foolish person that I am, I looked at what they had.  It is very inexpensive (at the time they were doing free shipping but I think that is over).  I bought an assortment of browns and oranges.  This is some of what I bought.  This picture doesn't really show how nicely the ribbon picks up the color above the woman's arm.  Believe me, it works.

I think next time, I will use the ribbon like a belly band on the middle layer or maybe I'll only use the brads. 

Well, what do you think?  Do you think Okie is going to pretend she never did those inspiration cards?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tim Holtz Lost and Found Birthday Card

Sorry, I haven't posted in a while.  I've been working on a number of large projects and haven't had an opportunity to stop and show things to you.  I think this will be a busy week with the postings.  I hope you like what I have in store for you.

First up... a birthday card using Tim Holtz paper, Lost and Found.  I'm a big fan of most things Tim Holtz but I'm especially excited about this paper.  He has three new stacks out but this one is the best.

If you look at the third row, fourth column, that is the paper I used for the outside of this card.  The card base is Recollections Kraft Cardstock which I bought at M's.  I like this paper because it gives the look of kraft paper without the flimsy feel.  The twine is from  It seems fitting that it was made in Hungary given the old world look of this card. 

The inside contains a strip of this same design.  I also added a piece of Ivory cardstock from the Paper Company (recently on sale at HL).  I decided to add a full liner because I didn't want the twine from the front of the card to show on the inside.  Normally I would just add a piece on the bottom half of the page.

Here is a close-up view of the inside:
I like Irish toasts and blessings but I thought it was especially fitting given the feel of this card.

So, what do you think?

Tomorrow, we'll have another card and then I'll reveal three larger projects I recently completed.