May 26, 2017

Technique: World of Watercolor Part 1

Have you ever tried water-coloring and if so, how did you like it? I often hear from customers and clients: "Hm? I have tried it, but it never turned out right" or "Oh this is not my kind of medium". 
Water-coloring is one of the greatest ways to bring color to your project. All you need are a few items and some practice. So were should you start and what are the best materials to use? 

Watercolor Pencils vs. Paints

I think the easiest way to practice and get your feet wet with water-coloring is to buy yourself a set of watercolor pencils. They are relatively inexpensive and go along way. In case you determine this is not your medium, you can always use them as coloring pencils too ;-)
Close to My Heart has a pretty nice set of watercolor pencils (3505) with a nice variety of colors. There are other companies out on the market that have sets in different sizes too, just browse around and see which colors would be the best pick for you. 

As an alternative, watercolor paints would be a good pick. With these you will be able to create really nice backgrounds and cover big areas on your paper. Those too come in a variety of settings and most companies have a nice beginner set. Close to My Heart offers this watercolor paint set (Z3132) see here on the left, which includes a lot of different colors.
So while paints are great for big areas to color in, pencils will be a bit easier to handle when you try to get a more detailed picture done.

Watercolor Paper vs. Regular Cardstock

This is were the color medium you picked comes into play. Watercolor paper will work with both, the pencils and the paint, but the regular cardstock will be best for working with watercolor pencils. Why?, you might ask and what is the difference?

Watercolor paper is meant to absorb water. While the paper comes in different weights, it is generally rough in texture. If you take a piece of watercolor paper and run your fingers over it, you will feel the little bumps. One side is a little smoother than the other. Which one you pick is up to you. There is no right or wrong site :-) But picking the right weight is crucial. If you pick a watercolor paper that is too thin, it will warp and quickly absorb water and therefore get quickly unstable and hard to work with. On the other hand it is not necessary to buy a really thick paper either. My suggestion is, buy a block of watercolor paper around 140 lb. This is a nice weight to work with. My favorite paper is the CANSON XL watercolor paper. You can find it pretty much everywhere and it is not to expensive either. 

While working with watercolor pencils, you can use plain white cardstock to color in your objects. Again, don't use to thin cardstock or print paper. Make sure it is of a good quality and smooth. Our "Close to My Heart Daisy White" cardstock or "Neenah Classic Crest Super Smooth Solar White" cardstock are great for this technique.

Paintbrush vs. Waterbrush

Well, this one is easy, there is not best. It is all about your preference. If you use a regular paintbrush, make sure to buy a good quality one. Don't fall for the cheap set. There is nothing worse then when you start coloring and your brush is loosing constantly hair! I bought a set of Michael's brand (Artist Loft) and each brush I tried lost hair everywhere. I had it in the watercolor paints, my colored papers etc. I tossed them all after using them ones.
CTMH has a really good set (Z3188) or Ranger has the same configuration of brushes in a set. Don't be cheap when you buy a brush. 

The water-brushes have the advantage that the tank is filled with water and by simply pressing on the side you squeeze water out. Makes it easy to clean and to activated watercolor paints. The thing I don't like about them, they start leaking after a while which makes it hard to color with. It is also very hard to control the amount of water that comes out, which is important for your technique. 
These brushes come usually in small, medium and large sizes, see here some examples.

Ink for stamped image

This option is only for the watercolor pencil technique relevant. If you are going to use watercolor paints to create  backgrounds, no ink is needed.

Why do you need a special ink to stamp your images before you start with your watercolor pencils? Let's say you bought your new watercolor pencils and you stamped an image, colored it in and leave it this way. Perfect, no worries about the ink here, but then, you are not using the full potential of your watercolor pencils.

Next you stamped your image, you colored them in and you would like to use water to activate and blend your pencil strokes...well now it is very important to have the right ink to stamp our image with. Why you ask?
You have inks that are alcohol base, water based, dye based or a combination of a few (called hybrids). Every time you like to add water to an image, you have to make sure the ink you stamped with is not water based otherwise it will smudge. I usually use StazOn for stamping my images or an archival ink will work too. 
Note: When you stamp a phrase on watercolor paper, always use these inks too otherwise the phrase will be bleeding out in the paper. You still will not archive a very crisp image, especially when you use a delicate stamp because the watercolor paper isn't smooth. So keep this in mind when you try to add your phrase. If you like a crisp image, add an extra piece of cardstock with the phrase on it!

How much water is to much or not enough?

This is tricky and it depends again on the medium you choose and the paper you work on. Let's talk about watercolor paints first:

So you picked a nice piece of watercolor paper. I usually cut the big sheets down to about card size. You also plan on using some watercolor paints with it and lets say you are going to try a few things to create backgrounds.

Here is my first suggestion to start:
Use a nice wide brush, dip it into clean water and really load it up. Take the brush and cover the whole piece of watercolor paper with water. You will notice that the water is absorbed by the paper. Now continue until you see a light shimmer of water on top. Now take your brush and use a little bit of water and go into your paints. Run the brush careful through the paint. The more water you use the light the color will be: less the dark it will be. Take the colored brush and dip it over your paper. The color will flow along, just let it run. Now clean your brush and pick up another color and repeat. You can use as many colors as you like. I would stick at the beginning with 2-3, e.g. blue, pink and violet or yellow, orange and red.
Let the colors flow and mix on the paper, than let it dry completely. If the paper is warped to much, place a big book over night on it or carefully use an iron. You just created your first watercolor background and it might look somewhat like the purple-pink one on the top here or the orange underneath it.

Here is my second suggestion to start:

Dip the brush in water and go directly into the paint. Pick up some paint with a good amount of water and go across the paper left to right. Clean your brush and pick up the next color...continue until the paper is covered. If your colors are not blending enough at the seam, clean your brush, use some clean water and brush over the seam of the two colors again. Continue to do so until you like the result. 

My last suggestion for this background technique:
Dip your brush in clean water and draw a rectangular/ square on your watercolor paper. Continue to do so until your rectangular/ square shows on top of the paper. Now proceed with either suggestion one "dipping color onto" or suggestion two "brushing stripes onto" the rectangular/ square that is drawn with the water. 
It is hard to describe. The purpose of drawing a rectangular/ square on the paper with water first, will confine the color somewhat in this area. You will not end up with a clear rectangle/ square but the color will stay somewhat in this shape. You can see a few examples in the picture.

OK, this was a lot to start with, but don't give up and try it. The more you try and test, the better things will go. Don't throw any of your creations away, there is always use for them. I will give you many more examples on what to do with these " I like part of this piece" creations :-)

The pencils will need another day to be explained, since we will do a few things different with them. Check back next Friday to learn more about watercolors and see more examples of the cards that I made for this our May BlogHop.

I hope you enjoy these little follow ups and you will give it a try. Let me know what you think and please contact me if you have questions. You can email me or simply comment below. I would love to hear from you :-)

Stay tuned.....   

May 19, 2017

A Year of Card Techniques ~ May Blog Hop ~ World of Watercolors!

Welcome to A Year of Card Techniques Blog Hop where each month we feature a different card technique. We’ve assembled a team of card makers who range from new to advanced, so you’ll see a great variety of cards and ideas. 

For May, we are venturing into the world of watercolor. There are so many watercoloring techniques available to us today; far too many to list here. But actions speak louder than words; so our team has worked with their favorite mediums to bring you lots of examples and loads of inspiration. 

If you would like to check out our past technique hops, you can do that here:
January-Shaving Cream Marbleizing
February-So Sketchy
March-no hop this month
April-Stamp Set Showdown
We have an amazing sponsor this month, Jodie Park of Close to My Heart:

Please take a moment to check out the great products Close to My Heart has to offer. To visit Jodie on Facebook page, just click here.
And the awesome prize this month is:

We really appreciate feedback, so please leave a comment on each of the blogs in the hop today. One winner will be chosen from all comments on the hop as of May 26, 2017. The winner will be announced in our June hop; so be sure to come back next month.

And speaking of winners, the lucky hopper from last month is Golden Goddess Designs; picked by Random Name Picker. Congratulations! Please get in touch with last month’s sponsor, Wilma Payne at, to claim your prize.

You should have arrived here from my wonderful friend Sharon. If you're visiting here first, you might want to start at the beginning so you don't miss a thing and increase your chances of winning by commenting on each blog. 

Watercolors are one of my favorite mediums to work with. I know some people have a hard time to us them, but there is really nothing difficult about them. You can find them as pencils, paints, markers etc....

For this months hop I thought I start with a simple palette of watercolors, like the case we offer at Close to My here!

It is important to use a good watercolor paper. I like to use the Canson XL Watercolor Paper 140 lb. It is relatively inexpensive and you can find it at most craft stores. The paper has a nice weight and thickness...because if you paper is too thin it will wrinkle really bad.

I started with a bunch of watercolor paper pieces measuring 5" x 4" or a little bigger.

Card 1: For the first card I simply draw a rectangular with clean water on my paper. This helps to saturate it and keeps the color somewhat confined. I used three different blues. A wide brush and a few strokes across the paper in each color and this one is ready to dry.

Card 2: The second card is even easier to make. I used lots of water and some yellow, orange and a little pink watercolor paint and added it on my paper. I did added clear water over the whole piece before I started adding colors. You can do this in strips, dots and fill in the blanks. Just try it :-) Once dry, I cut them in squares and created my own little quilt. This tile technique is perfect if you have some of your pieces were you only like part of it.

Card 3: Here is an example of watercolor background were I added water onto my paper first. Next I dabbed watercolor paint on it and let the color run. While wet, the color looks more intense then when it is dry. Cut to size for your card, mat it and place some die-cut flowers on it and one more card is done.

Card 4: For the next example I used a wide brush lots of water and different hues of yellow and red. I brush each color in one stripe. Some colors flow more than others, but I tried to start and end in one line.

Be careful when you stamp a phrase on your watercolor paper. First off, make sure your paper is absolutely dry. Second, use an ink that dries really quick, since the paper will absorb the ink and therefore your stamped image will be a bit fuzzy, as you can see here with my "so very sorry".

Card 5: Here is another example of a simple striped background. Like in card 1 I painted with clear water a rectangle onto my paper. I then added stripes of three different colors to the wet area. After the color was dry I stamped my giraffe, the stones and phrases in StazOn ink onto the paper. Well and on the inside too...

I hope these little examples will help you get a start on your watercolors. Just try and have some fun. I created more samples than I have shown here, but I will try to get them done for my follow ups. I will have more detailed descriptions on how to make these cards and more pictures in my follow up posts in the next two upcoming Fridays. 

Make sure to check back often and please let me know when you have questions. There are so many more techniques with watercolors but this would be too much to show them all here... but if you are living close by, contact me for a water coloring class or let me know if you would like to see more posts of the different water coloring techniques.

Now you’re off to visit with my talented friend Kim. Hope you had fun and thanks for stopping by. See you next month with another technique! 


Always remember:

"Art comes from the heart.

So there is never a right way or a wrong way;
there is only YOUR WAY."

Here’s the full line-up in case you get lost: 
Claudia ... you are here

May 15, 2017

Z-Fold Wedding Card "Hello Lovely"

Here is card number 4 from our April class. This time we used a z-fold base for our design. I cut the card base at 4 1/4" x 11" and scored it at 2 3/4" and 5 1/2". 

Use a bone folder to make some nice crisp folds. I folded the card in half at the 5 1/2" scoreline and then folded the front piece over the the left.

Next I used two design paper pieces and two cardstock pieces each cut at 2 5/8" x 4 1/8". I adhered the design paper to the left and right side showing the front. Both cardstock pieces (here fern cardstock from Close to My Heart) are adhered to the inside when you open the card.

The next step is to cut a strip of white cardstock at 1 1/2" x 11". This strip is scored at 5 1/2" and 8 1/4" and z-folded as well.

To adhere the strip, make sure the long side of the strip is adhered (only the left half needs adhesive!!!!) to the left side of the card front, flush with the bottom. The end piece of the strip is adhered to the right side of the other design paper. When you open the card both z-folds go in opposite directions. 

I added pieces of grey cardstock to the strip about 1/8" shorter on each side. 
The phrase is stamped in black ink onto a skinny strip of white cardstock (1/2" x 4 1/4") A couple of flowers and pearls are finishing off this card.

You could add a piece of white cardstock to the inside for some personal notes or a nice phrase. I used it to place a picture of the bride and groom to it, so when they open the card you can see the happy couple. :-)

May 12, 2017

Sailing Boat Birthday Card

Sailing boats are always a welcomed image for a more masculine card. The card base is again a 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" cream colored cardstock base.

I added a thin strip of design paper ( 1/4"x 5 1/2") to the left and right side. Next I cut a of piece of blue cardstock measuring 5 1/2" x 4" for the center of the card.

The rectangles are cut at 3 3/4" x 4" from cashmere and cream colored cardstock. I ruffed up the edges of the cashmere piece with my scissors and edged it in some chocolate brown ink. The sailboat image is stamped in cocoa ink onto the cream colored cardstock and the edges are also distressed in chocolate ink. 
The birthday phrase is stamped in cocoa ink as well onto some cashmere cardstock. I cut the piece down close to the phrase.
Before the blue cardstock is added with foam dots to the center of the card, I added the cashmere and cream rectangle to it. Both pieces off-set from each other. I wrapped a piece of burlap string around the left side and fastened it to the backside of the blue paper. Now the blue cardstock was placed in the center of the card, flush with the top and bottom and showing a littler bit of the strips along the sides.

The phrase is added with foam dots flush to the right side and a few gold sequins finishing off this card.

May 10, 2017

Pleat-Fold Card

Sometimes you have all these strips of design paper laying around and don't know what to do with them, right? They are not big enough to cover a card front, the matching cardstock is gone etc....

Here is a simple way of recycling some of these strips. We used a regular white cardstock base measuring 4 1/4" x 5 1/2". We covered the top with a piece of blue cardstock and the bottom part with a piece of pink cardstock, each measuring 4 1/4" x 2 1/2".

I didn't even bother to cover the front completely since I knew we would cover the seam later on anyway ;-)

The design paper strip is cut at 3" x 11". Each side is cut at an angle leaving 1" in the bottom middle and angle it to each side leaving about 1 1/4" on the side. Please leave a comment or email me for the exact measurements of the scorelines.
From the middle I started to fold over and back so the pleats meeting up in the middle. We used a strip of sticky tape placed on the backside of the folds to the top of the design paper and a shorter one a little in the middle to secure it to the front. 

The seam between the pleats and the blue paper is covered with a strip of white glitter paper 1/2" x 4 1/4". A strip of red sticky tape will make your life easier to adhere the glitter paper over the pleats.

A scalloped oval is adhered with foam tape to the center of the glitter paper and a white piece of cardstock cut in a smaller oval is used to create a phrase. We added a little flower left from another project to the side and this quick card is done.

Stay tuned for more to come.....

May 8, 2017

Elegant Mothers Day Card

Mother's Day is just around the corner and here are some ideas for cards using the stamp set I showed you in the last two Friday follow ups. If you missed our monthly hop, have a look and see what we have done so here to find out more.

For this example I cut my card base from a sheet of white cardstock measuring 8 1/2" x 11". I cut the piece to 4 1/4" x 11" and scored and folded it at 5 1/2".

Next I cut off about 2 1/2" from the bottom front and replaced this piece with a sheet of acetate measuring 4 1/4" x 3". I adhered the acetate with a strip of red sticky tape to the inside of the front. The bottom acetate is flush with the back of the card. Don't use liquid glue for acetate. Whenever you get glue on the acetate it will not come off. My best experience with adhered is using the red or white sticky tape. To hide the glue, simply add a strip of paper over it ;-)

I used the big flower stamp set again and some "whisper" grey ink from Close to My Heart and stamped the image twice on the bottom inside part of the card, so you can see the flowers to the front acetate. I cut 2 strips of design paper at 4 1/4" x 3/4" and adhered them to the bottom part of the acetate (back and front). A piece of gold glitter paper also measuring 4 1/4" x 3 /4" is adhered where the white cardstock meets the acetate. We stamped our phrase on a thin strip of white cardstock (3/4" x 4 1/4") and added it with foam dots to the front. A few sequins adding some extra bling and this card was done.

Stay tuned for more cards and ideas to come. If you like to know more about these or other projects and techniques, feel free to contact me. There are still some spot in my classes left if you are interested in joining us :-)

May 5, 2017

Technique: Stamp Set Showdown - Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of my Technique Stamp Set Showdown special. Last Friday I showed you the two samples with the simple grey stamped background. Today we will have a closer look on the colored version of the set.

In both samples I started with the big flower set and some "Whisper" grey ink. The example in the top right corner I stamped the main image over the whole cardstock piece. 

Remember I cut a couple of white cardstock pieces in the size of 4 1/4" x 5 1/2". I used these as my backgrounds and stamped different stamps from the set with different inks. I chose this size, so it would be exactly like your regular card base front. This way I can leave it complete or I can choose to cut it down.

In the example on the bottom left I stamped the image just twice. Ones in the middle of the top part and ones in the middle of the bottom part.

I then chose the smaller flower stamp and filled in the blank spots in example 1. I stamped example 2 only on each side of the big flower, leaving the middle open. Next I used a brush, a tin bit of water and my inks to color in the flowers. I used Sorbet, Blossom and Fern ink.

If you use just a little bit of water, you can color even on plain white cardstock.

Now I had two more background pieces done and the fun part was to figure out what to do with them.

Let's start with the piece that is completely covered with flowers. I cut a piece of white cardstock at 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" and scored it at 2 1/8" and 6 3/8". I folded both flaps to the middle and my gate fold card base was done. Next  I trimmed my background paper down to 4 1/8" x 5 3/8". I used my rectangle die with a stitched border and placed it in the center of my background piece. I used a size smaller rectangle and cut another piece out of this one. 

I covered the front flaps as well as the inside of these flaps with pieces of grey cardstock about 1/4" smaller than the flaps and adhered them to the front. I adhered foam tape to the frame and the small rectangle and covered the backside with a plain white opposite piece. I used both pieces to create my closing mechanism for this card. I adhered the frame to the left side of the cards (just half of the frame) and the small rectangle to the right side of the card, so that both pieces inter logged with each other. A little tag with "Best Wishes" finishes of the outside.

For the inside I placed a piece of grey cardstock in the middle, added the big background piece with foam tape to the center of the grey and stamped my phrase on a piece of white cardstock that fitted in the opening. A few rhinestones and this card was done.

For the last example I die-cut a decorative tag out of the center of my stamped background and cut the the edges of by about 1/4". I used a regular white card base where I cut off the front part leaving only 1/4" piece left.

I adhered a sheet of acetate to the 1/4" strip and placed a leftover piece of the background on top of it flush to the left side.

I covered the inside with a piece of pink cardstock. I cut a grey cardstock piece about 1/8" bigger than the die-cut background piece. 

I stamped my phrase on the grey cardstock right in the middle of the matching cutout tag. I adhered each layer in the center on top of each other.

I closed the card and adhered the decorative tag back onto the acetate covering the phrase on the inside. To hide the adhesive, I cut another decorative tag from pink cardstock and place it on the inside of the acetate, right above the front piece. A little banner and  "Best Wishes" finishing this card off.

I hope you liked this little excursion and I would love to hear from you. Leave me a comment or feel free to contact me if you have questions about any of my cards, designs or techniques.

Stay tuned for more to come...

May 3, 2017

Live Beautifully - May Constant Campaign

May 2017 Constant Campaign - Live Beautifully 

Your life is full of everyday beauty that deserves to be remembered. During this National Scrapbooking Month, we are celebrating the beauty of your life with the Close To My Heart exclusive, Live Beautifully paper packet and stamp set. The set is Featuring rich floral patterns, gold foil designs, and more. This paper collection is only available for a limited time. Order yours now and start preserving your memories today.

The paper collection includes 14 double-sided design papers:
Live Beautifully paper packet (CC1212B)     for $14.95 (plus SH&T)

The coordinating stamp set with beautifully flowers and phrases:
My Acrylic Live Beautifully Stamp Set (CC1212C)    for $17.95 (plus SH&T) 

The offer is available May 1 - May 31, 2017 while supplies last. 

Contact me if you like to place an order or if you have questions. You can also hop over to my website and check it out for yourself....

May 1, 2017

It's Here! The New Seasonal Expressions Book 2

Here is our brand new Seasonal Expressions Book 2! 

Packed with four brand new paper packs, new stamp sets and thin dies and many more wonderful new embellishments. 

This book will be valid from May 1st to August 31st, 2017.

To find out how you can get your hands on your own personal copy, contact me! Otherwise you can see the new book online HERE! or simply click on the Seasonal Expressions 2 Book pictures above.

Have fun browsing and let me know if you have any questions!