Surprise Bouquet

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Interactive cards are a fun way to turn any simple design into something more special. I wanted to move away from iris folding for a while so here I am with another interactive design. My great-aunt turned 70 which would have been the perfect occasion to make something more elaborate. It's not that easy if your style is clean and simple. She loves flowers which she grows on her balcony and in the garden. Gardening is one of her passions and something I admire because I can't even keep sturdy plants alive!

Last month's free papers from Making Cards featured modern flower designs. I liked the soft colours and since they were the only flowers in my stash, I used the papers and one of the toppers. There's just enough space behind the watering can to hide a few small hearts and a butterfly:




All you need to make this card are square and rectangular dies (they are really worth the investment), a birthday sentiment and coloured card. The arrow is part of a die-cutting set from Neat & Tangled which includes some small stitched hearts.

Anniversary

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It was my in-laws wedding anniversary recently. I seem to be forever behind with birthdays and special occasions this year and hadn't even thought about it. My hubby asked me if I could make a quick card. This card took me a while to make and we sent it later, but at least it's something I'm proud enough of to put it up on my blog.

This one was a little tricky as the happy couple have been married for 43 years. There was nothing in my stash that suited their age or taste. Because I'm hooked to interactive cards, I just made another one sticking to the love theme this time. The panda and balloons are one of my favourite dies at the moment and they're used over and over again in my designs. I had to be inventive with the papers as I only have four pads in my drawer. You'd never guess that these are from a Christmas collection.



A lot of layers make this design bulky and heavy. An easel is the perfect solution if you worry about putting too much weight onto a card front. For the recipient it's also a beautiful way to display the card!

Fox Slider

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I like to call myself a "budget crafter". I truly believe that less is more and that if you keep your stash small, you'll use what you own more creatively. I'm on a tight budget when it comes to crafting so I don't easily spend money on new material unless it's needed for a commission. Once in a while, I like to treat myself to a new stamp or die set, but that's the exception.

Free gifts from magazines come in handy as it means that I can add something new to my designs. Die-Cutting Essentials 26 came with a free hibiscus die which I decided to team with one of my favourite dies from Marianne Design. I wanted a card as colourful as the gift I had already wrapped and dressed up with handmade rosettes. Recently, I've been hooked to interactive cards and some will be featured in upcoming issues of Papercraft inspirations and Papercraft Essentials. So instead of keeping this design plain, I added a small slider so the fox's head moves up and down. It always feels like construction work when I put a card like this together. Everything needs to fit neatly for the slider to move.






















Sometimes, there isn't enough space for a sentiment on the front, so why not stamp it on the inside of the card? This design features inlaid die-cuts (fox and circle with striped paper) and a telescopic aperture with three squares of different sizes stacked up to add depth.

Last but not least the gift which is a book that I found in the charity shop. The wrapping paper comes from WHSmith.


Get out your coloured card and create something amazing today!

Metallic Wedding

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Recently, I decided not to post my published designs anymore unless they fit in with what I share on this blog. While every commission is special, most of the cards I design are not what I'd typically make. Some magazines prefer traditional and fussy designs which presents the biggest challenge for me. I'm not a flower and butterfly kind of crafter which I know are hugely popular. One of the reasons I don't like to stick flowers on my cards is that it makes the design bulky and you can't put them into regular envelopes.

Some magazines send you materials to work with. It always feels like Christmas when I receive a big envelope full of new craft items! Lately, I've been stamping and colouring a lot and I'm very excited about some upcoming features! Papercraft inspirations! sent me Aryia's Garden collection from BoBunny to create four wedding projects using metallic accents.

My favourite designs include this side stepper for which I used a fancy card blank. It's an easy way to make an impressive card without the need to measure and cut it yourself!




















This design features inlaid die-cuts which is one of my favourite techniques at the moment. The roses were cut from red deco foil and I wanted to demonstrate that you don't need a foiling machine for it. Stick it on an adhesive sheet, run it through the die-cutting machine et voilà!




















You'll find new designs from me in Papercraft inspirations 168, Papercraft Essentials 149 and Cardmaking & Papercraft 173.

A word about inks

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We're enjoying lightening and thunder tonight. It's my kind of weather and if it wasn't raining heavily, I'd go out there and dance in the rain.

Papercraft inspirations 168 is out today featuring two sets of my Occasion Cards. Two of my favourite designers are published in the magazine every month, Kat Waskett and Vicky Bailey. Kat's sweet and colourful designs are just up my street. Vicky's Masterclass features cute cards with partial die cuts and I love anything with cute characters on!

I'd been eargerly awating this month's free gift, a layered stamp set with peonies and orchids. I was looking for the right stamps to come along to make a card for my great aunt who loves flowers, not only in her garden but also on her balcony, which is full of them. I always envy her for the colourful displays. Gardening must be such a rewarding hobby but I'm not made for it. I'm glad that it's raining tonight as I forgot to water the plants this week. Anyway, she feels a little down from time to time as she lost her other half only months ago. I hope this card will cheer her up!

I liked Becky James' "Pops of Pink" card made with the peony stamp. The black ink didn't work for me so I decided to heat emboss the outline in white to make it look softer. The leaves and buds were coloured in with Copics as I didn't have green inks.



I'm not a stamper and probably never will be. I have no patience and I'm already cutting out or colouring the image while the ink is still drying. Working with inks means your hands will get dirty and no matter how hard you scrub them with soap, the colour will only start to fade the next day. I'm no fan of embossing powder either as the tiny granules get everywhere. No surprise then that these are the only ink cubes left in my stash:




















Seriously, why make a mess of your desk and hands when you can keep them both clean?

Defying gravity

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I love browsing charity shops, you just never know what treasures you'll find. All you need is time and it helps if you don't have a screaming toddler with you in tow! Whenever I don't craft, I spend my time reading. Our little girl loves books, too ("book" is one of her new words) so we pop into the second-hand book shop in Princes Risborough every week.

I recently picked up a craft book for my friend. It needed a card and the card needed a box, preferably matching the colourful wrapping paper (Isn't it pretty? You can find it at Waterstones). While gift wrapping and decorating is an art I'd still like to master, I had to make do with the few embellishments from my stash: Bakers Twine and a mini peg which I decorated with a die-cut heart.

The card is made up of six layers (foam pads and cardstock) to make sure it's even in all places. When it was finished, I noticed that the balloons were to heavy for the single strip of acetate which they are attached to. I fixed it by attaching a second strip behind and bending it a little to pull back the balloons. Sorted!







































Isn't it funny how in cardmaking so many elements are out of proportion? The thought crossed my mind when I attached the panda to three balloons. Talk about defying gravity. Here's another Flying Panda fun project that I made two years ago.

Inlaid die-cut shaker

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Only five months to go until Christmas... I can't believe I'm already seeing the first Christmas products featured in the magazines! As every year, I'll be making cards for the season last minute. It always works out fine although everytime I think I'm done my hubby keeps adding names to the list of people we send Christmas greetings to. I think I might go for inlaid die-cut designs this year to make the designs lightweight. Most of them will be sent abroad which means the weight limits are different than for the UK.

Here's an example of how to turn inlaid die-cuts into an interactive card. It works beautifully as the inside of the shaker is one flat layer and no sequins get stuck anywhere. Putting it against a black background really makes the colours pop. I like working with black and can never have enough black card in my stash! The shaker is filled with clear jewels and I stuck some onto the acetate, too.



















Time to relax with a cuppa and my favourite craft magazines!

Over the rainbow

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Last year brought a lot of changes for me and my hubby. The biggest adjustment we made to our life was to become minimalists. It was the result of us becoming parents and discovering what's important in life, but it came with a financial benefit, too. I learnt to spend my money differently. There was a time when I splashed a lot on new craft material every month. Some of it never got used until I gave it away.

Crafting can quickly turn into an expensive hobby. Personally, I always felt a little guilty whenever my hubby dropped me off at the craft centre. I'd return with bags full of stuff, sometimes justifying the big amount I had just spent, other times not being totally honest about how much of my hard-earned money I had parted from.

Like everyone else, I have a never-ending wish list of things I'd love to buy. But spending money on crafting means I'd have to miss out on the everyday experiences with my daughter which don't cost the world but they do add up. So for now I've decided to keep a balance. I only buy stuff when it's needed for commissions and once in a while, I treat myself to a stamp or die set.

This card took me a few days to complete. I couldn't decide on a sentiment and what to add to the scene as I didn't have much to play with. The sentiment was heat-embossed in gold which goes perfectly with the Kraft card. The idea of making a rainbow came when I looked for different ways of using my stitched circle dies.



















This card would be perfect for a baby announcement (use blue and turquoise for boys) or Valentines Day.

A new delivery of coloured card will arrive this week and guess how excited I am about that...! 

Comfort Zone

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While I love browsing pinterest and reading papercraft magazines, I often feel there's too much inspiration, it's simply overwhelming. That's why I like to stick to simplicity. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves what we're good at and what makes our designs unique. Ever since I discovered inlaid die-cuts, I've been hooked. It's a technique you don't often see in magazines and I like to think it's special as not everyone masters it.

Right now I'm looking for new ways to fill the circle aperture that I've been using on my cards recently. One of the die sets I've recently invested in is Waffle Flower's Greenery. You'll get six leaves and one of them can even be used as a feather. 

This card didn't look like much until I added the heat embossed sentiment strip and clear jewels. There's is also a layer of acetate on top of the aperture. It keeps the leaves in place which I attached with double-sided tape in some places. I like to avoid glue as it's too messy.



















Crafting is about having fun and making something unique. Every card is a challenge in itself and probably the hardest part is deciding on a layout. Well, you can stick to the same layout and yet create something different everytime. I'll certainly make more of these as I have a growing pile of coloured card!

Hope I inspired you today!

Father's Day

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I hope you enjoyed your Father's Day celebrations. Although we are blessed with hours of sunshine, things are getting a little too hot and our poor little girl is suffering in this heat. We cooled down yesterday evening with a picnic on Coombe Hill. We enjoyed the beautiful views over the Chiltern Hills and tucked into our homemade empanadas.

I don't know about you, but the heat is giving me a headache. Our creative studio is upstairs and in this weather it's the hottest room in the house. It makes you tired. I hope you're better off and that you enjoy crafting in a nice and cool space! I should be getting into the Christmas spirit this week as I'm working on my first commission for the festive season, but it feels odd to be listening to M. Bublé's Christmas playlists in this weather!

A while ago, I made three cards for Cardmaking & Papercraft magazine using a DoCrafts die-cutting set. I'm always surprised how great the products I receive turn out to be! Let's say I wouldn't have bought it myself, but once I started using it, I was sold. I set myself the challenge to combine it with coloured card only and here's what I came up with:











































I really enjoy crafting with coloured card at the moment and I think this is how it all began. I can't stick bows, buttons and flowers on my cards these days (unless the magazines ask for it). You can create simple, eye-catching and colourful designs with coloured card and who knows, maybe I'll specialise in it!

While you're still here, why not think about entering this year's cardmaking competitions? It's a fun challenge to come up with inventive designs while showing what you're really good at.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Splash of colour

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This week, I treated myself to two new die sets which have been on my wishlist for long. It felt like Christmas when they arrived! I don't spend much on new material these days unless it's needed for commissions. There was a time when I spent more on new craft items to work on a feature than what the magazine paid for it. Fastforward one year and I have less money (but more happiness) and I realised that most items in my stash were bought on impulse.

I'm a big fan of American brands and MFT remains one of my all-time favourites. I rarely use patterned papers now as I much more enjoy working with coloured card. However, the heart papers from MFT's Lucky Prints make super cute backgrounds for these cards. The cards feature my favourite dies from Marianne Design which I've used over and over again for my own projects and magazine work. I love these cute animals and won't part from them anytime soon!

The panda card is a baby card, believe it or not! I didn't have any baby sentiment stamps and figured that the lucky recipient will receive plenty of pink cards announcing "It's a Girl!" Booooring... Why not turn it into a "Hip Hip Hooray" instead?





















Here's a quick tip I'd like to share with you. I was running out of black card for my last card (panda) but was determined to finish it. I inked the edges of a white square with my black ink pad. Nobody will ever see the difference!

Bear Necessities

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My craft stash is slowly diminshing after another recent clearout. I'm always surprised how much I end up selling on eBay or giving away. There's a big shopping bag beside my craft desk which is called the "eBay bag". It fills up pretty quickly every month!

No, I'm not giving up crafting, just "slimming down". I much more enjoy crafting with less and for a while now I've stuck to my favourite dies and coloured card. The most useful die set I've invested in recently are Tonic Studios' Square Layering Dies. I still have to hold my breath every time I do matting and layering despite my perfectly cut squares!

I wanted to create something different than my usual square cards and decided to use up some of the coloured card in my stash. It's the one thing I can never have too much of. These two cards will hopefully cheer up my former team mates when they arrive (along with a box of chocolate) on Monday. I remember that Monday Morning Blues and how the week never seemed to end...



Both cards feature the beautiful papers from this collection which the lovely Papercraft inspirations! team sent to me:


Time to get out your dies, card and paper to create something amazing!

When you've got no inspiration...

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I recently found this beautiful quote about children: "Children fill a gap in your life which you didn't even know existed." It's hard to put into words how my life has made a 180 degree turn since our daughter was born. Ellie is now almost 16 months old. Having a child changed our lives, and then again it didn't. We might have different priorities now and our daily routine changed but we still do what we did before Ellie was born.

There's definitely less time for crafting now as Ellie keeps me busy all day and in the evening I like to unwind with a book. I know that I won't get anything done if I sit at my craft desk in the evening. The only exception are commissions from magazines. I can only accept a few every month and I don't know how on earth other designers manage their workload and deadlines. I work through the night on Saturdays and Sundays but during the week I can't due to my early shift in the shop. So you see, there isn't much time anymore to make cards for our family and friends.

My hubby asked me to make a special card for his mum. Whenever I don't have much time or inspiration, I go back to iris folding. I made similar designs like this one before. I still like to think it's special as not everyone has seen iris folding before. I'd love to hear or read from other crafters who also specialise in iris folding but most of you seem to be into stamping!

Here's my birthday card for my mother-in-law featuring free papers from Making Cards June edition:











Here's another one I also made with free papers from Making Cards magazine. I really wanted the colourful floral papers to pop and put them against a black and beige background. Beige is not a colour I'd usually pick but I have lots of coloured cardstock at the moment.


















All you need to make these cards are some basic square dies, oval dies and a pretty die to use as a stopper. I've recently bought this cute heart border for a commission and thought it was perfect for my easel cards. You can find the products used in "Labels" on top of this post.

A long way

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Back in 2011 when I discovered cardmaking, my first batch of Christmas cards featured Tatty Teddy découpage designs. They were simple cards but I remember how proud I was when they were finished. I printed pictures of my first designs and put them into small photo albums which I took with me whenever we visited our family abroad. My mum, aunts, mother-in-law and colleagues started ordering handmade cards from me. Eventually I'd approach a little tea room which we always visited with a box of cards for sale. They only picked a few which was a big disappointment but weeks later I saw one of their customers look at the handmade cards on offer and she picked one of mine. I was so thrilled!

Over the years, I've met some very talented designers who make a living out of crafting. One lady in Romania is busy all year around making wedding stationary. Another one is selling simple but beautiful handmade jewellery at markets. Amazingly, she supports her family with it. Others teach crafting or run an etsy shop. The sad truth is that you'll never be paid for the time that goes into creating something unique. But if you ask me, turning your artistic hobby into a profession beats working 9 - 5 in an office!

Back to découpage and these two sweet flower designs I made for Papercraft inspirations. They feature Santoro's dreamy Kori Kumi collection which I loved working with.

























While I don't have any new cards to share with you, I'm busy working on commissions. Some of my upcoming features this month will be in Cardmaking & Papercraft (die-cut Father's Day cards), Simply Cards & Papercraft (new card fold technique) and Papercraft inspirations (Occasion Cards).

Easy side stepper

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I like nice and easy which is why Crafter's Companion Square Side Step Card Blanks has become one of my favourite craft products. They really come in handy when you don't have the time (or patience) to measure and cut it yourself.

Here is a card I made with the cute badgers from MFT and my favourite square dies. I recently invested in plain rectangle dies, too, which makes life so much easier! No more wonky lines. There are a few things you can do with square dies and I hope to share more ideas with you soon. I found a blue die-cut frame in my stash which I mounted on foam pads. The "Smile" sentiment cut from the same papers as the background is something I've seen in Making Cards and I like the effect. I like using black in my designs to make the colours or images stand out more but it's still a cheerful and colourful card:



















Both panels on the right were also cut using the square dies although you need to run in through your machine twice to make rectangles.

We'll be away for a week on Saturday and there's still lots to do before we leave. I'm very much a last-minute person which means that Friday will be chaotic!

Panda Paradise

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A long, long time ago when I first spotted Marianne Design's Box Card die, I knew that I had to have it. One day. What always keeps me from spending my money on dies is that they are so expensive. Turns out I didn't have to wait that long for this one as Jenn from Papercraft Essentials asked me for a Masterclass on box cards. There are certainly cheaper ways to create them instead of investing in this die set, but I wanted something nice and easy. Another die set from Tattered Lace allows you to build panorama cards, too. The cheapest and easiest option is to stick to Fancy Card Blanks from Crafter's Companion. They have a range of fancy card styles which are great if you don't want to do the measuring and scoring yourself while saving time.

Back to my box card which I teamed with other Marianne Design dies. Just give me coloured card and I'm the happiest crafter! These cards were so easy to make, they practically made themselves. The only downside is that it takes forever to cut out all the pieces as I wanted to create detailed scenes.

Here are four of the five cards I made for this Masterclass. Starting with my favourite and I really wish I was in the forest myself with these cute pandas:


After making the pandas, I worked on this bambi card with my favourite Lawn Cuts Grassy Border and Farm Fence Die-namics die. I couldn't imagine crafting without them anymore and they're popping up in a lot of my designs. They come in handy if you like to build scenes.




















Here's another cute card featuring one of my all-time favourites, Marianne's little fox. I had just bought the Skyline Border die from MFT which came in handy as a backdrop for this scene.




















Last but not least a box card with more cute critters from Marianne Design. These are smaller than they look, in fact they're so small that I decided to part from the die set which includes four animals and a crib. They're more suitable for baby cards and you can buy them here.





















I spent the last week working on a new feature and trying something I've never done before. Watch out for my cards in this month's Simply Cards & Papercraft and the Joanna Sheen Design Collection.

Smile, it's your birthday!

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While most of you might not be happy about the prospect of going back to work tomorrow, I couldn't be any happier. Monday to Friday means early shifts in the shop and being home when most people start their work. The weekends are long but at least I still have my afternoons and evenings. It's a small sacrifice for staying home with our daughter. My hubby works from home when he's not away for photo shoots and we often go for walks and lunches during the day. I wouldn't want to change it for anything in the world.

It's my hubby's godmother's birthday tomorrow and I needed a quick card so I made this one:



















The papers are from Marianne Design, aren't they just gorgeous? Although the sentiment doesn't give much away, it is a birthday card and inside it says "It's Your Birthday!" I used whatever leftovers I could find which includes combining two shaker mixes, paper flowers and papers which I would have given away. I'd kept a flower die collection from Tattered Lace from my CMOTY prize package and it came in handy for this card as I never have any leave dies.

One of the reasons you don't see any 3D flowers on my cards is that you can't post them in an envelope. I still need to make the lid of a box which I started working on.

Hope you like it!

Hugs Shaker

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Continuing with the spring theme, here are some georgeous spring papers which I kept in my drawer. I love the colour combo of blue, yellow, grey and black! Most of the shaker mixes I use for my cards are from Lucy's Shop where you can shop by colour. Lucy sells sequins, jewels and confetti. You can also try my other favourite shop Seven Hills Crafts for a selection of sequins.


















I was planning to craft until midnight again but feel knackered today. Time to crawl under the blanket and read the latest Prima.

Papercraft Essentials 145 went on sale today and you'll find five box card designs from me in this month's Masterclass. The cards feature some really cute critters from Marianne Design. This month, I love Keren Baker's pretty stitched card and I also spotted one very sweet design in the Readers' Letters made with the Spring Garden die and stamp set from the previous issue.

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