Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Secret Santa

To celebrate Christmas, our Stampers of England (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EnglandStampers/) had a Secret Santa Swap. Names were drawn and each Secret Santa set out to put together gifts, which were posted to arrive before Christmas.

As those of you who follow this blog know, I adore making altered art, especially altered tea, chocolate and biscuit tins. So you know that my secret sister would be received something altered!

The first thing I made was an altered letter or napkin holder by using a Creative Imaginations product. I decided to use an Elzybell reindeer image that I had previously water colored. I also had made little Shrinky-Dink embellishments, and I thought my 'love' tag would work perfectly with these two reindeer preparing to tuck into a Christmas pudding.

I had some festive napkins, which I put into the holder, and then sent this to my Secret Sister Caroline, along with some other bits and pieces of goodies.

As I started the altered tins late, I didn't know if I'd be able to make her one in time for it to arrive before Christmas. In the end, I was just in the Saint Nick of time! Hah! I used some of my favorite Creative Imaginations winter papers and embellishments to make this tin.

Altered Christmas Tins

I've had a tradition over the last number of years to make gifts for the teachers at my son's schools. The altered tins that I have been making seem to be a hit, especially when they are stuffed with candy, cookies and biscuits!

Now that my son is a teenager, his classmates don't seem to be as likely to give Christmas gifts to their teachers. Giving Christmas gifts to teachers was always a tradition when he was younger in his private schools in Houston. Even at the British School in Abu Dhabi, where we were for the last two years, holiday and end-of-year gifts were presented to teachers. However, I was amazed this Christmas that Branduff was the only one in his new school (near London) bearing gifts.

My feeling is that teens, with their raging hormones, can be even more difficult (and moody) to teach, and teachers definitely deserve something special and sweet for their hours of dedication to our young men and women.

Not only that, I really love making altered tins! What am I going to do next year if I don't have teachers for which to make altered tins?

Dear son seemed a little embarrassed to be the only one in class hauling in gifts. Granted, the teachers were over the moon!

Will this be the last group of tins that I make, I dare ask? Hopefully I will find some victims next year to receive my art pieces.

However, best have a look now . . . just in case!

The tins feature an assortment of papers, from Melissa Frances nostalgic Christmas packets, BoBunny's Christmas HoHoHo papers and embellishments, and Creative Imaginations Winter paper. I even used a page from my Mary Engelbreit desktop calendar for one of the images on a tin.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Hot Cocoa Pouches

Although Branduff is getting a bit old to give out cards and gifts to his classmates at Christmas, I decided to make some hot cocoa gift pouches for his friends. The one above is made with Elzybell's stamps.

In addition, I also used a Stampin' Up set (It's Snow Time) to make some of the gift sleeves.

The the red glimmer cardstock with a scalloped edge was made by Die Cuts With a View. I attached a strip of paper inside to hold the Cadbury cocoa sachets in place. The card was then finished with a strip of designer paper on the flap and velvet ribbon to tie the card shut.

Let's face it, the girls liked the cocoa gift packets more than the boys, who were just interested in the hot chocolate! One of Bran's classmates liberated the cocoa packet from the gift sleeve, opened up the cocoa sachet (in class, mind you), and ate the mix dry. Teens these days!

Friday, 28 November 2008

One Stop Craft Challenge 5

Week 5's One Stop Craft Challenge is a sketch by Maggie.

As I've been doing lots and lots of watercolouring lately, I decided to change my emphasis and style with this Lamb and Lion Seasons Greetings card, which features markers and ink burnishing.

The stamp of the lion and lamb (from Stampin' Up!) was inked with chocolate chip pigment ink and then embossed with clear detailed powder. I then used markers to colour and highlight the lamb and lion. Next, I took a VersaMark marker to completely cover the lamb and lion and then I embossed the two images.

Now that they were embossed and sealed, I could begin the burnishing process. I took a sponge and dipped it into summer sun pigment ink and started to burnish in the ink colour. This is not the same process as sponging, where you are dabbing. Burnishing is more of twisting and moving the colour in circles to colour the paper. The ink almost becomes part of the paper by burnishing. I used a touch of pumpkin pie ink on the edges of the sky, and I used a brocade blue as sky around the lamb and lion. The grass was coloured green.

I used layering to achieve the sketch requirements. And then I went back to my oven to make a Shrinky Dink medallion, which says: Season's Greetings. The stamp is from Inkadinkado and is one of their circular unmounted clear stamps. It was very tricky to keep the Shrinky Dink circle from permanently curling up, but it worked in the end.

Finish up the medallion with layering and a touch of velvet ribbon. Viola! Ready to be mailed!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Branduff & Sophie

I bought this Elzybells stamp because it makes me think of my son Branduff and our "dear" little Border Collie Sophie! I thought it would make a nice greeting for family.
I used a combination of water colours and Pearl-Ex to paint the image. Also, I revisited the world of Shrinky Dinks to make the little plastic labels. I had to stick my head into the oven so many times fussing with the Shrinky Dinks that I was "sunburnt" by the time I finished!

Mouse in the House

I just love the way this Elzybells stamp of a mischievous mouse in a Christmas cracker turned out! I found the strand of miniature fairy lights last year, and I thought this was the perfect project to use them.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Reindeer Wishes

Here is a the cutest reindeer stamp from Elzybells, featuring hubby and wife reindeer preparing to enjoy their Christmas pud! The image has been painted with water colours. There are four slightly different variations to the design that I've included. Happy crafting and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Elzybells Christmas Cards

I've only recently purchased some of Elzybells whimsical and fun rubber stamps. I was first introduced to this stamp line by Karen, a Scottish friend who was in my crafting group in Abu Dhabi.

Once we moved to England, I didn't forget Elzybells! I looked up the Elzybells site and HAD to purchase some of the stamps for my very own! I love that I can purchase these stamps as unmounted, as almost all of my rubber stamps are off their wooden mounts (a great space saver!).

I've been very busy making Christmas cards lately, and Elzybells have taken centre stage in my card designs. You can see that I used this same watercoloured image in a previous blog creation.

The Elzybells stamps are quite open, which means that they can easily be coloured. I used watercolours on the image of Christmas singers, and I followed the sketch challenge on the Elzybells blog site:

Thank you for stopping by to have a look at my creations!
Kathy the teawife

Thursday, 13 November 2008

The Merry Singers

In my quest to make more Christmas cards, I used this Elzybells' stamp of carolers, which I recently purchased. Elzybells' stamps are very open, making them perfect candidates for water colouring. I spent more than an hour one day using my Stampin' Up water colours on the image. Today I finished the card by using this Basic Grey paper from last winter. My stamping friend Diane gave me the paper pack, and I've been holding onto it for just the right project.

I tried both whisper white cardstock and watercolour paper for the image, which was stamped in black pigment ink and embossed with fine detail powder. The above card is with watercolour paper. The watery paint is absorbed more easily and creates a more subtle and sophisticated final image. Corrections can more easily be made by adding water or rubbing off stray colour.
The card stock created a slightly more slicker and vibrant look, and the water moved faster. Below is a sample of the image stamped on cardstock.

I am really pleased with results. Although the Basic Grey paper is not exactly traditional Christmas stock, I think it does something special to bring out the wonder of this Elzybell's image. This will be one of the cards going to some of my stamping friends.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Hidden Messages

Challenge Three of the One Stop Craft Challenge Blogspot is
Hidden Messages

This was a tough one for me, and I probably sat at my craft table looking at images, turning paper upside down, thinking about frames and cut outs, and basically driving myself crazy for hours! In the end, I decided upon a tag that flips over to reveal a message.

The focal point of the card is this handsome Santa stamp (Inkadinkado), which has been stamped on glossy paper, embossed and colored with markers. A stamping friend (Beckie) sent me fluffy white yarn, which I used to embellish santa's hat and pom-pom. The Santa Claus postage stamp is also Inkadinkado. The funky Ho Ho Ho ribbon comes from BoBunny.

When the tag is flipped over, the message revealed says "merry wishes, 'tis the season, season's greetings, Merry Christmas" (Lots of Thoughts stamp set from Stampin' Up!).

It was quite a joy to have been randomly selected last week as the winner of Challenge Two from One Stop Craft Challenge!! I was excited all the way down to my tootsies!

This is so much fun for me to have a new goal each week. Thank you for popping by to have a look at my artwork.

This is another example of the same card, with the Stampin' Up! sentiment on the front and other messages on the back of the tag.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Winter Wonderland Reindeer

I finally had a chance to use this precious Inkadinkado clear stamp of a reindeer silhouette . I used a Michelle Zindorf inspired masking and brayer technique to create the art (http://zindorf.blogs.splitcoaststampers.com/).

I did this both as an ATC and as a gift card.

The Inkadinkado image was stamped and embossed in gold. The wreath was coloured with a marker in green and embossed with clear. I used a versa mark pen to add several dots and sprinkled a cranberry red embossing powder onto the wreath. When heated, the dots looked like glimmering holly berries.

The snow was made with an old retired Stampin' Up itty bitty Happy Winter stamp set. (Although it's retired in the US, it's been recycled and is listed as "new" in the United Kingdom Stampin' Up catalogue.) The snow background was stamped with a Versa pad and embossed with fine clear embossing powder.

I tore a piece of paper to use as a mask to look like a snow bank behind the reindeer. I inked up a brayer with Brocade Blue SU craft ink and rolled it across the image.

To create the image of movement and snow, I used white liquid applique to resemble snow. I allowed it to dry naturally for an hour and then lightly puffed it up with a heat gun. Afterwards, I used a pale coloured marker to create shadows in the snow.
The cut out Winter Wonderland postage is an Inkadinkado stamp set and was done in white ink on regal rose coloured paper.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Stampers & Crafters of England

We have a new, warm and cosy yahoogroup for stampers and paper crafters who live in England:

Stampers of England

The group is a wonderful place to chat about stamping and paper crafting and about life in general. We also provide inspiration, motivation, links, information, resources, and more. This is definitely a wonderful sisterhood of stampers.

We are looking for more stampers or paper crafters living in England so that we have the numbers to do swaps and mingles of cards, ATCs and other paper crafts. We also host monthly challenges and card/ATC lotteries.

We'd love to have you stop by and join up!
Kathryn the Teawife
List Mom of Stampers of England

Sunday, 2 November 2008


Here is my entry for this Week 2 One Stop Craft Challenge, which is "Things with Wings." (To see the photo larger, simply click on the artwork and it will take you to another window.)
I've always loved angel stamps and images, and this one from Elzybell's is absolutely wonderful! I just received this stamp this week, and I was itchy to try it out. The One Stop Craft Challenge was the perfect opportunity.

I also wanted to use this lovely red and gold star sparkly ribbon, which my friend Germaine recently sent me. It is the perfect accent.

I have two variations of the same card. One Elzybell angel (below) is stamped onto natural coloured paper that has been spritzed with glimmer walnut spray. The other angel was stamped onto natural coloured paper. Both images were painted with water colour crayons.

All angels must have glitter, so I have used some diamond glitter to shimmer up the wings.

Thank you, Fairy Mad Jo, for telling me about this blog challenge!! And, thank you to everyone who has stopped by to look at my winged things!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Choir of Snowmen

I've always loved this Flaky Friends stamp set from Stampin' Up. I thought they looked like a choir of snowmen -- wouldn't you like them to come caroling round your door at Christmastime?!

The background of the card is created with a Cuttlebug musical embossing folder. This particular embossed image is striking, but it is even more so when using a dark purple cardstock with metallic dusky pink and silver inks as an accent.

To tie in the choir of snowmen with the musical background, I found the perfect sentiment stamp from another Stampin' Up set, Peace to the World.

Mufti Day Card

Dear son was asked to bring in a gift for his Mufti Day contribution. These items will then be sold at the City of London Freemen's craft fayre on 6 December (in Ashtead, Surrey). I whipped out a bunch of Christmas cards for his gift . . . they are specifically for his House Whittington stall, so they had to be in the House colour of blue! That works when making ice cold blue cards for winter.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

World Card Making Day

Today is World Card Making Day. You can read more about this event at:

So all of you crafty people: challenge yourself to make at least one card today and scan and post it to your email groups, friends or blogsites.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Thanks, Michi!

I was quite honored to discover that my friend Michi nominated my stamping blogsite for a Brillante award. Very kewl! Thanks for thinking of me!

You can see Michi's site here:

She is an amazing stamping and paper crafting artist who is big into experimenting with techniques and creating fascinating backgrounds. She particularly loves anything about Tim Holtz and his products and designs!

I'm thrilled to be able to create with such inspiring people as Michi.

Slightly Scary Spider & Skinny

Halloween is so much fun! Although the season is mostly enjoyed by wee goblins, older merry-makers, such as myself, can still carve a pumpkin and dress up!

I belong to a yahoo group (called "persnickety stampers"), and I was jazzed when some Halloween art swaps were announced. In particular, I signed up for the Sparkly Halloween card and the Halloween Skinny, which is supposed to be a long tall artist trading card.

Both of these projects gave me an opportunity to try out some of my dies and embossing folders. In particular, I used a new Cuttlebug folder to create the pumpkin background on this card.

By sloshing on stamp ink or acrylic paint inside the embossing folder and sandwiching in your cardstock, you can easily create depth and color when using your Cuttlebug embossing folders. Hence, the two-toned effect on the pumpkin background. And since the swap called for "sparkly," I added glitter as a highlight on the pumpkins. The Boo and spider were created using both Revolution and Cuttlebug dies. I had some sticky red rhinestones that I used on the eyes of the spider and as an accent on the Boo. Dental floss worked well for the spider web! Lastly, I added a black bead set in a silver mounting as an accent and a feature to create balance.

This skinny is actually a card, folded to the size of 3 by 6 inches. Again, I used my Cuttlebug and Revolution dies to cut out the Spooky word and ghost images. I wanted to give the illusion of "blood" dripping, so I used black glossy cardstock and dripped alcohol inks vertically onto the card. I embossed a leaf-less tree, using an Inkadinkado mini peg set with silver ink and clear embossing powder. Then I discovered something amazing! The embossing powder and heat reactivated the alcohol inks and picked up the colors in the background. Interesting. I might have to try that on purpose one day!

These are the first cards I've made since moving to my new home in the Surrey countryside of England. I managed to organize my crafting space just enough to be able to find what I needed and make these two Halloween projects. Hopefully, they are just the first of many more crafts to be churned out in my Hillside home!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Stampers & Crafters of England

We've just created a brand new YahooGroup for stampers and paper crafters who live in England -- Stampers & Crafters of England.

If you love rubber stamping, creating cards, altering art, making artist trading cards, scrapbooking, and making other paper crafts, we would love to have you join our group.

The goals of our new group are simple: to bring together like-minded stampers and paper crafters to share ideas and information, inspire and challenge one another, chat about crafts and life in general, try new techniques, post artwork, host card and craft swaps, and occasionally meet up to craft.

This group is brand new, but with all the stampers and paper crafters in England, we hope the group numbers will grow quickly. Please feel free to visit us and join:

Or, if you have questions about the group, please drop me a line at teawife@yahoo.com

Hugs, Kathryn the teawife

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Can't Stop Altering!

Ahhhhhh . . . Altering tins and boxes . . . my most favorite art form! As I told a friend (tongue-in-cheek) the other day: "I'll alter anything that stands still long enough. I'll alter you if you're not careful!" She looked worried!

I have to say that "altering" is my favorite art form of all. The very first "art contest" that I won was back in fourth grade. We were decoupaging planks of wood, which the teacher picked up cheap from the local lumber yard. We all brought used greeting card fronts to stick onto the wood. I was sick the day they started the project. All my classmates had first pick on the pieces of wood -- which were smooth and perfect. I came back, and I was handed this wood with huge worm holes and imperfections! Try to tell a fourth-grader that distressed is good! But my teacher Ms. Wolverton did her best, and in the end, I had faith in her and took the worm-eaten wood. Guess what? She was right. The piece was amazing (especially designed by a fourth grader!), and it looked nothing like the other pieces. All the teachers in the school voted on their favorite decoupaged artwork, and I won! The moral of the story? Trash is good? Different is good? Teachers are always right? Art is always subjective?
At the end of last school year, I created a number of altered boxes as teachers' gifts. Son Branduff stuffed the boxes with candies and goodies. After the teachers empty the contents, these tins and boxes are reusable -- they can by refilled with just about anything from sweets to junk!
My favorite of this round of altered boxes is the cowboy box, shown above. Pieces of paper were stuck down with Royal Decoupage Finish/Glue. After it dried thoroughly -- which was accomplished quickly here in the desert! -- I then began adding "age" to the piece. I used a combination of Tim Holtz Distress Inks and Moon Shadow Mists. Then I adhered cowboy stickers from K&Co., and I distressed them, too. I finalized the piece by brushing on thick coats of the Royal Decoupage; I especially drowned the stickers in the glue, to ensure they became like a bit of plastic when dry.

The class boxes are bolder and brighter, and I used some BoBunny stickers on these two boxes.

You can use any medium -- a chocolate or tea tin, wood or cardboard boxes, clipboards, or whatever is at hand. I'm currently working on a wooden tray, which I am adorning with floral paper and embellishments. I'll post that when finished, too.
Branduff has a number of male teachers, and I have to ensure that I have enough "masculine" altered pieces. He and I joined forces to make the clipboard below, using stickers from BoBunny, and diving into the toolbox for things like nuts, bolts, washers and wire.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

SU Wonderful You

When I first saw the Wonderful You stamp set from Stampin' Up!, I knew I had to have it! However, I already owned so many floral stamps that I decided to give the set a pass. However, the set burned a hole in my head, every time I flicked through the pages of the Stampin' Up! catalog. OK . . . you guessed it . . . I finally gave into my weaknesses!

I love the results, too! I used a variation of the template I made last week, using a 5.5 inch square of patterned paper from Die Cuts With a View Luxury stack.

In addition, I scrounged around in my embellishment basket, looking for the best bits and pieces to decorate the cards. I think sometimes we forget the embellishments that we have kicking around in our bottom craft drawer.

This wide open flower from the SU set could be colored in countless ways. In two of the cards, I simply used the solid flower in this two-step stamp set and a dye ink pad. For three of the cards, I used alcohol ink to color the flower. A bit of blending solution enables shading when using alcohol inks. The edges of the paper were painted with the alcohol ink, too.

Most of these became birthday cards; I never seem to have one when I need it!

Saturday, 19 April 2008

April Template

Here are cards and a template that I worked up for my Tuesday stamping class. This is one of the templates that I used in the Old World Cards on the blog entry yesterday. In addition, I took two other patterned paper pieces to create two additional cards.

The first card (above) features SEI paper, Inkadinkado sentiment stamp, and flowers from Stampin' Up!

The second card (below) has Creative Imaginations tea party paper, Inkadinkado sentiment stamp, and flowers from Stampin' Up!

I've also included the template with measurements; however, I encourage you to adjust the measurements to meet the size of your stamps. You can use different elements to finish your card. I've used geometric shapes (see the Old World cards on yesterday's post) and bows. Play around with the elements and their position on the card until it "feels right."