This is my second guest design blog post for the February 2021 collection of Alex Syberia’s digital stamps. And yay!….it’s going to appear on Alex’s blog as well! You’re probably sick of my singing Alex’s praises, but she is truly such a supportive designer and human being!
On to today’s designs, which all feature Winter Garden A2 Card Panel.
As you can see from the title of this post, I ended up using the same design for 3 different cards. I know there are tons of videos and blog posts out there that showcase the same stamp or die set in various ways, in order to show you how versatile a product is. Trust me, that was not my intention. I don’t have enough control over my crafting to plan such feats! Here’s how I ended up with 3 cards, using 3 techniques:
My initial idea for this stamp was to print this design out on an A2 watercolor panel in a light taupe ink & do some no-line watercoloring. That would be amazingly gorgeous, right? Yeah right!!! With these old eyes and these arthritic hands?! Um, no. OK, another snippet it is!
For my first card, I really wanted to do something super graphic and modern with the snippet.
I started by selecting the middle of the left side of Alex’s design. Then using my super duper professional graphic design software (Microsoft Word 🤭😂), I enlarged the section of four blooms that I wanted to fit onto a slimline panel. For the graphic and modern look, I wanted to flowers and leaves to be black & white and the background to be just 1 bright color. To achieve the bold contrast that I wanted, I elected to I print my selection out on Arches Coldpress Watercolor Paper and to use Altenew Watercolor Brush Markers, which are hyper-pigmented and which would provide great contrast to my black & white flowers.
After the background dried, I viewed the project through my cell phone. I often do this to see how the colors will show up in pictures, since projects often show up darker than in person, light colors disappear, etc. Oddly enough, even though I only used 1 color on the background & just diluted it out towards the edge of the card, in pictures, it looked like I used several different colors. It also looked much blotchier than in real life. With the blotchy background & with my laziness and unwillingness to redo the background, the graphic look that I had intended went out the window. I decided to add some shadows to my gray flowers. Once I finished that, my flowers and leaves still looked naked, so I decided to add a very light coat of colors to the flower petals with Copics. I rarely use Copics, because I find that lighter colors often show up as white & isn’t worth the effort. The same thing happened this time. I think I eventually added 4 coats of color in order for it to show up at all against the bright bright purple of the background.
At this point, I really didn’t like this project. Everything lacked dimension and everything just looked flat. All I could see was PURPLE!!!!
I was so annoyed that I walked away to watch hockey. But the game was boring too & my mind’s eye was still seeing PURPLE!!! So I brought the project and a few different Sakura Pigma Micron pens, in different widths, to play with in front of the TV. I didn’t really pay attention to what I was doing once the skating on TV picked up in pace. I doodled to my heart’s content. In the end, I was shocked that there wasn’t smeared ink everywhere, since I did get up quite a few times to yell at various players in the recorded game! And, somehow, my doodling brought the leaves to life and added depth to my flowers! I’ll take it!
Thank you, Amber Rain-Davis, for your imprinting the joy of Zentangling in my subconcious. I know none of my doodling represent any real Zentangle patterns, but I think they worked for this project!
The completed panel was cut down to fit to be just a bit skinnier than the slimline card base made from 120# cover cardstock – Neenah Classic Crest Duplex Cardstock (it’s Epic Black on one side and Solar White on the other to facilitate writing messages on the inside of cards). I added the little white hemline of dots using my gel pen to bring back some of the white that I lost by coloring the petals.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention the sentiment! This card was originally made to be a vertical slimline card; however, when I went to look for the perfect sentiment for a friend that has been bummed out lately, I found this one that is part of the Altenew Strength Blooms stamp set. It was so perfect that it was worth turning my card sideways!
The next day, I still wanted to complete the bold & graphic project that I had initially envisioned. I also wanted to add dimension to the project, which I still think my first card lacked. I stared at my snippet on my computer screen, trying to decide whether or not to add shadows using my super duper professional graphics program. That’s when it hit me…the flowers in this border looked familiar, because I had colored each of the flowers separately in the past. Each flower in the arrangement had been previously released as a separate digi file! Aha!! That’s when I decided to use each of the separate digi files (you can find all of Alex’s individual floral stamps here), so that I can cut out each flower individually to create dimension. This was the result. It’s so much closer to what I originally had in mind!
To create this card, I started by creating a color wash, using various blue and green Distress Reinkers for concentrated color, on a panel of Strathmore 300 Coldpress Watercolor Paper. Once the panel dried, I printed the snippet design onto the panel, so that I would know where to place each individual flower according to Alex’s design.
I then sized each of the individual flower digital files to match the sizing of each bloom in the snippet and printed them out on Strathmore Bristol Smooth Cardstock. Rather than fussy cut the flowers, I used my Brother Scan n Cut.
Of course, the flower stems were too thin for the machine to cut without butchering them, so I opted to trace the lines on the leaves using my white Sakura Jelly Roll #10. Yes, it took about 8 coats for the white to no longer pick up the color beneath it, but I think it was worth the effort. I love the way the stark white looks against the bold background.
To get the dimension that I wanted for the flowers, I ran a black marker along the edges of each cut flower, and I used my trusty Sakura Pigma Micron pens to add some emphasis here and there on the petals. After all of the ink had dried, I foam mounted each bloom on top of the printed design, doubling up the foam tape behind a few blooms.
Here’s another shot of the same card:
Notice anything missing from the first 2 cards? Sparkle! Since I spent all of that time resizing each of the individual blooms to fit along the border for my second card, I decided to do a sparklier version as well.
In order to heat emboss each flower in gold, I printed them out on a sheet from the Grafix Dura-Bright Pad. This stuff is made of polypropylene film (basically plastic), but it is more heat resistant than Yupo paper. And, since it is non-porous, ink jet printer ink doesn’t dry as quickly on it, allowing me to not have to rush to add the embossing powder. I did forget to use my powder tool before printing, so there were some areas with stray embossing powder, but, since most of it would be cut off when I fussy cut the blooms, I opted to leave the strays alone.
My objective with this card was for the ultimate shine, so I squeezed a few drops of color from a few Altenew Watercolor Brush Markers (I used a few colors from the Tropical Fiesta set and a few from the Spring Garden set), then blended/moved the colors around using a solution of water and Ink on 3 Liquid Pixie Dust. Once they were about half-way dried, they looked like they were glass ornaments. They made my heart sing!
After letting the flowers dry for a looooooooooong time, I decided to spray a protectant on them, since I didn’t really know how colorfast the Altenew Watercolor Brush Markers were. I used Krylon Gallery Series UV Archival Varnish.
WRONG THING TO DO!!! I knew this, as I’ve conducted many many experiments using this substrate and various mediums in the past, but, with old age comes brain farts!
There’s something about the combination of the varnish and the glitter in the Liquid Pixie Dust. It makes the glitter absorb the pigment into beads of color. The longer it sits, the more of the color wicks into the beads. Bummer.
So, I started over!
This time, I used neither the glitter nor the varnish. I fussy cut out both sets of flowers (the ruined ones and the non-glittery ones), and, using the a print out of the card design, the fussy-cut blooms, and a piece of Glad Press n Seal, I assembled the arrangement of flowers.
For the background, I used an A2-sized Pink & Main Basket Cover background die and carefully performed partial diecutting to turn a piece of white cardstock into a slimline-sized background panel. I then glued down the die-cut background onto a slimline card base, foam mounted the arrangement of flowers that was on the Glad Press n Seal (at varying heights), and tucked a few stems of gold vellum die cut leaves (I used SSS Tender Leaves, SSS Etched Laurel Leaves, and The Stamp Market Botanical Beauty.) behind the arrangement.
Quite bright, right? To tone down the color a bit, I added a die cut sentiment using several layers of black card stock and a top layer of glitter card stock that were cut using Mama Elephant’s Hello Script Die. I then mounted the whole assembled panel onto a piece of Tonic Studios Black Velvet Mirror Card and a card base made from gray glitter cardstock. Phew! But, obviously, I didn’t think 2 pounds was too heavy for a slimline card, because I then added some black freckles, using Nuvo Crystal Drops and Nuvo Glitter Drops.
I actually quite like the combo of the faded & beaded blooms (the first batch) with the bright blooms (the second batch). What do you think?