The Gray Muse | Fall Collection Blog Hop | GIVEAWAY | Easy 1-Layer Cards

Hey there! I’m the first to admit that I struggle with putting floral elements into a pleasing arrangement for a 1-layer card. It seems so effortless for so many designers! If the stamp didn’t come as a pre-arranged bouquet, it can sometimes (OK, almost all of the time) take me just as long to assemble something pretty as it takes me to color the flowers and leaves. I’m not convinced that I’m the only one that struggles with this. Well, given some new international mailing regulations and given my penchant for coloring flowers, I needed to come up with the method that makes the process easier for me. Every time.

Before we get into the process and the cards…

Welcome to The Gray Muse Blog Hop featuring the 2020 Summer/Fall Stamp Collection! This release includes seven gorgeous floral stamp sets and one must-have sentiment set titled Social Distance! We have some amazing guests sharing inspiration using these stamp sets so be sure to get to hopping!

You probably arrived from viewing the designs of the talented Seeka. For the full list of participating designers, start here. The next stop along the hop is Mayra Designs.

GIVEAWAY: The Gray Muse is giving away FIVE $25 gift codes to the shop so you can add some of these stamps (or enamel pins) to your collection. In order to qualify, leave comments on every post in the hop. The more posts you comment on, the greater your chances. The giveaway ends on Wednesday, September 30th at 11:59 pm Eastern Time. All winners will be selected at random and announced on The Gray Muse Blog within a week. 

Good luck!

The Projects:

When Rubeena mentioned that she’d like to do a blog hop for her clear stamps release, I knew I wanted to play with the Simple Blooms set and make my own floral bouquets. Unfortunately, what I forgot was how I am much too lazy to engage in masking & fussy cutting and how my dominant hand has been really bothering me when I try to color. Yet, somehow, I managed to get through a few cards and still have the masks and templates to create more designs in the future. I’ll share the technique that works for me for creating one-layer bouquets at the end of this post, since the journey and process require long explanations and are, quite frankly, a bit whiny.

Oh, and before I get started, there’s a bit of housekeeping to be done. I know you’re only here for the pictures, so you’re probably not even reading this, but I received the stamp sets from The Gray Muse at no charge, so I guess I have to mention that, even though it is probably obvious. I guess I also have to mention that I’m going to start setting myself up as an Affiliate on a few websites (to help offset the cost of running this blog), so some of my links will be, at some point after the date of this post, compensated at no charge to you. I’m not sure what else I’m supposed to say here on that topic, but just know that when you click on the links in this post, I might get a small percentage of any resulting sales. Thanks in advance for your support. But you aren’t reading this anyway.

OK, onward!

Card #1:

All of my cards today feature the new Simple Blooms stamp set. I used my Bouquet Template (technique described at the end of this post) and stamped the images from the set using GinaK Designs Obsidian Amalgam Ink on Arches Coldpress Watercolor cardstock.

I had intended this card to be an autumnal/thanksgiving card & had planned on coloring the panel accordingly, but, after the stamping had dried, I took one look at the Ink on 3 Liquid Pixie Dust and Zig Art & Graphic Twin markers that were left on my desk from a previous project, and things got a bit out of hand. I mean, come on! – how am I supposed to do muted autumnal colors with these items staring at me?! Just look at the results!

I added a sentiment from the Pretty Pansies stamp set, along with a few gems, and mounted the completed panel on an A2-sized note card that I made out of 120# cover cardstock – Neenah Classic Crest Duplex Cardstock (it’s Epic Black on the outside and Solar White on the inside for writing messages).

All of that shimmer, vivid color, and still a 1-layer CAS card!

Card #2

As you can tell, this is the same bouquet as the previous card. It was stamped with the same Bouquet Template (technique described at the end of this post), using Ink on 3 FadeOut No Line Coloring Detail Ink on Arches Cold Press Watercolor Paper.

I started by creating a wash around and over the stamped bouquet, using Distress Old Paper, Antique Linen & Pumice Stone reinkers and a whole puddle of water. Once the panel dried overnight, I watercolored the bouquet with both Karin Brush Marker Pro and Zig Art & Graphic Twin Markers. Hey, I’m an equal-opportunity watercolorist!! Just wait until I get to the sparkly stuff!

This is how the bouquet looked before I deepened the shadows with Faber Castell Polychromos pencils.

It was so soft and pretty. I think I added way too much pencil, but I telling myself, “really get into the nooks and crannies.” What I learned is that what works for someone else doesn’t have to work in the exact same way for me. For me, I prefer to keep it lighter, so I needed to moderate it more! And please don’t ask about the purple petal in the center of the pink flower! πŸ™„πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ! I’ll fix it later. Or, at least, I’ll hide it later! πŸ˜‚

I was almost successful in maintaining a fall palette. That center flower is actually more coral than pink in real life. I wasn’t able to capture the true color of that bloom in a picture without turning the one above it into a rusty number. πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

After I was done coloring the bouquet, I decided that I didn’t like how the bouquet appeared as though it was floating on the panel, so I cut off about half an inch from the bottom, fussy-cutting along the leaves and flower petals so that it overhung that half an inch.

I wanted to use a rich chocolate-y shimmery cardstock from my stash to frame the painted panel, but, rather than enhancing the panel, it just made the watercoloring look washed out. I decided to add some gold to the panel by first heat embossing the edges of the panel, including the fussy cut edges, using my favorite gold embossing powder. That still wasn’t enough gold to balance the card, so I die cut the word from the SSS Grateful wafer die set out of Tonic gold foil cardstock. I needed a sentiment strip to accompany the Grateful word die so I heat foiled a phrase from the Spellbinders Thank You Combo in gold glimmer foil.

Card #3 & #4:

These are bonus cards. I wanted to try again at the fall palette, but wasn’t ready to do another Bouquet Map just yet.

To create a Thanksgiving card for a US-recipient, I wanted to have a tumble of flowers overflowing a cornucopia. I couldn’t find a cornucopia stamp that had the proper dimensions and angle, so I drew one myself. Feel free to laugh at my efforts! πŸ€­πŸ˜‰! I didn’t know how many flowers or leaves I would need, so I heat embossed a whole bunch each of the stamps from the Simple Blossoms stamp set, using WOW Embossing Glitter in Fool’s Gold and Metallic Copper Sparkle equally. I colored all of the embossed elements and the cornucopia using Ink on 3 Liquid Pixie Dust, Karin Brush Marker Pro and Zig Art & Graphic Twin Markers. Once all of the elements were dry, I cut them out with my Brother Scan n Cut, leaving a zero-border for most of the elements and a small margin for the delicate bud stems.

The foil plates used were Spellbinders Stylish Script Thankful and Yana’s Sentiments. The wonky hexagonal frame on the card on the right was die cut from gold foil cardstock, using Gina Marie Geometric Circle Frames.

The colors are actually more autumnal than the pictures depict. Here are shots taken under natural light:

You know how it is…capturing true colors when there are a lot of glimmery elements on a card is a real struggle…the real colors are somewhere between this set and the top pictures.

Card #5 & Technique:

In the past, I haven’t been a one-layer card kind of gal. Other than the fact that it takes way too much patience and much more of a designer eye than I have, I love dimension and I love a ton of it. And to get a one-layer card out of floral elements (rather than a pre-assembled bouquet) requires so much work for just one stamping session and one set of cards. However, after getting a bunch of my cards returned to me (that were intended for international recipients), I had a discussion with the local postmaster (who is much stricter and meaner than the one I had for my previous neighborhood!!). I realized that I needed to make more one-layer cards, or I’d have to bear the cost of mailing the 1-2 oz cards as packages instead of letters. πŸ˜ͺ😭!!

After thinking about it for a while, I finally came up with a technique that worked me. It relies on a consolidation of existing techniques that I’ve seen. The first is the use of a stamping template, which I’ve seen before, but which I never really saw as effectively explained as in this Jaycee Gaspar video. For my blogging purposes, I’ll call them Bouquet Templates. I’ll share how to build a Template not just of a particular arrangement but also of each of the individual elements in a stamp set. These individual element templates can then be used repeatedly to build new and different Bouquet Templates.

My preferred method also requires a bit cheating and rule bending, so I had to clear the technique with Rubeena first, in order to ensure that I wasn’t breaking any of her Angel Policies. And, since it does require cheating, I wonder if this is how other designers have been doing it for years & just haven’t really been talking about it or sharing it much! It’s possible that others have shared a similar technique, but, if they have, I haven’t come across it.

Note: I know that this is a really long procedure to read (though it would take only a few minutes to show you in a video!), since it’s a bit tough to explain. I won’t feel offended if you decide to skip it and scroll down to the 5th finished card.

First, in order to create reusable elements that I can use and reuse in different Bouquet Templates now and in the future, I created a bunch of sample electronic elements. I know what you’re thinking…you’ve seen plenty of people stamp and cut out individual stamp elements, then manually arrange them into a bouquet, etc., etc. This is a bit different.

I removed all of the stamps from the packaging, so that I could isolate the acetate that has all of the images of each stamp printed on it. Since I wanted my technique to yield reusable pieces, I opted to scan the pre-printed designs on the acetate (I use the text on the acetate to ensure that the scan is facing the same direction as the stamps). See Figure 1. Then, I used Adobe Acrobat Photoshop Elements (I’m too cheap to have the full version of Photoshop, but this technique can be adapted to whatever design software you use.) to crop and to clip and to save each individual element as its own PNG file.

Figure 1: Scan of the designs on the stamp acetate

Then, I dragged each individual PNG into my design software (since I am a sophisticated designer, I used MS Word. πŸ˜‚), moved each of them around & tucked one element behind another to hide parts that I don’t want to show, until I had a floral spray or bouquet that is acceptable to use as a Bouquet Template.

If there are many overlapping stamps that make it difficult to determine which line belongs to which stamp, I use different colors to help me to more easily differentiate them. See Figure 2.

Figure 2: Sample of Bouquet Template

Please note that these are NOT digital stamps, so I can’t resize or flip any of the PNG files, nor can I sell or distribute the scans or PNG files.

I created and saved several bouquets that I liked and decided to choose the one that I liked the best when I was ready to make a card. Remember, these PNG files and can be used over and over, so, if I decided that I don’t like a particular Bouquet Template after all, I could always just create another in a matter of minutes.

I then printed out the chosen Bouquet Template on regular printer paper. The type of paper and printer doesn’t matter, since we were only creating a map by which we could stamp the bouquet.

Figure 3: Sheet of individual stamp elements to use as masks

Before I proceed to stamping the bouquet, I also create the masks that I would need. I dragged the individual PNG files of each element I used in the Bouquet Template into MS Word, making sure to space each element out a bit for ease when cutting. I then printed out the sheet of elements (see Figure 3) and scanned the masks into my Brother Scan n Cut, but I replaced the print out with a similarly sized blank sheet of self-adhesive clear contact paper & cut the elements/masks out that sheet. This provided me with a stack of see-through, repositionable, and reusable masks. Before I began the electronic cutting, I set my Brother Scan n Cut with a -.01″ margin. The Brother Scan n Cut would then cut each element just inside the outline, so that the masks would be a smidge smaller than the stamped image, thereby allowing the lines of each stamped element to butt right up to the image next to it, without a break in the lines (without a mask halo).

Voila, heaps of reusable masks, as well as negative masks!

At this point, I determined the cardstock that I wanted to use and how I wanted to color the arrangement, and, transitively, the type of ink pad that I would use.

I was ready to stamp!

I adhered a sheet of Arches Cold Pressed Watercolor Paper, which was cut into the same size as my Bouquet Map to the corner of my stamping platform using Scrapbook Adhesives Repositionable Tape Runner. Then, I placed the Bouquet Map directly on top of the Arches and used it to line up my first stamp (the front-most element that has no other images overlapping it). I then removed the Bouquet Map and stamped the first image using Gina K Skeleton Leaves Amalgam Ink onto the Arches cardstock.

I allow the first image to dry for a few seconds, then placed the appropriate shelf-liner mask over the first stamped image.

Positioning the second stamp using the Bouquet Template

Then, it’s a matter of repeating the process. Place the Bouquet Map back over the arches, line up the second stamp using the Bouquet Map, remove the Bouquet Map, and stamp the second image onto the Arches.

Placed the clear mask over the first stamped image and stamped the second image using the Bouquet Template.

I proceeded to mask, ink, stamp, following my Bouquet Template in between each element, until I had the fully envisioned bouquet.

While all of the masks were still attached, I decided to inkblend the background.

Pretty, huh? I added some water droplets and a solution of water and Ranger Perfect Pearls in Perfect Gold to add interest to the background.

And that’s as long as the pretty lasted…

I pulled the masks off and replaced them on their backing papers to be reused. Then I started to paint with Ink on 3 Liquid Pixie Dust and Karin Brush Marker Pro. I started with watercoloring the berries or bud stems. Immediately, I knew something was wrong. I was having a really hard time corralling the paint within the stamped lines. I thought perhaps this was due to the fact that the cardstock had been so agitated by the ink blending, so I tried painting a leaf that had some parts of its edges adjacent to the ink blending and some parts not.

When I picked up the project to look closely at what was happening, I noticed that I had used the back side of the watercolor paper, which I had never done before. Could that be the issue? You know I LOVE knowing the answers, so I started over. It’s a good thing that I had heaps of reusable masks!

I restamped the entire bouquet, ink blended and sprayed the background, and started watercoloring. The same thing happened again!!! Oy, the pain!! Cursing the whole time, I picked up the project and noticed that the surface of the paper felt like it had a coating of some kind on it. It was possible that I had filed some of my student-grade paper with my Arches.

Then, I debated….to redo or not to redo? After all, I already had Cards #1 and #2 completed for this blog hop.

Since I had a few hours and thought the background and colors I had in mind were going to be spectacular together (or so I thought), I decided to go for it. This time, I decided that, rather than do the inkblending of the background before watercoloring, I would paint the bouquet first, cut out the completed bouquet on my Brother Scan n Cut then adhere it over one of the prior 1-layer panels that was already ruined. If I cut a small margin around the bouquet, it would hide any of the fraying that occurred with the prior project. And, though it would no longer be a 1-layer project, I thought my friends would understand that the technique for the Bouquet Map worked and would forgive the shortcut.

Here’s the final result:

I lined the entire bouquet using a Copic sepia multiliner, since the white margin minimized the contrast between the colors of the bouquet and the background.

The sentiment strip was gold heat embossed and is from the very popular Social Distance stamp set.

Oh yeah, that popped up flower in the center….yeah, don’t ask. OK, you had to ask! I dropped my purple marker on it! Oy. This project was so painful but taught me how incredibly bull-headed I am!

Here’s the trio of cards made featuring the Simple Blooms stamp set and my preferred Bouquet Map technique.

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