Tuesday, 22 January 2013

To be or not to be……. My Valentine? by Chris W

Yes dear friends, the time approaches once more and whether you’re jumping up and down or groaning there is little chance of us crafters forgetting it. Hopefully you’re getting to appreciate that as far as I’m concerned a die is for life, not just for Christmas, lol. Sizzix have just brought out this wonderful heart box die and even if you don’t have a Valentine you can still love this die!

I couldn’t wait to prize the parcel from my postie’s clutches and rushed inside to drool. You can tell how much I love this die because I’ve made 3 boxes already. The first two boxes are in altered art style but the third is sooooo simple it literally took minutes to create and even the most daunted newbie could manage this easily! Whether you’re making the box as a Valentine pressie, for Mother’s day or you just want a gift box to show your love of one of your nearest and dearest this box is sure to please so grab it whilst you can!

BEFORE you start there are a few tips I can offer you; Firstly I’d advise making your first from thick card and be happy to throw it away if it doesn’t look quite right. The placing of the elements that comprise the box sides is a little tricky the first time around particularly if, like me, your hands aren’t the most dextrous. I made boxes 1 and 2 from greyboard and had no problems but the third I made from thick card and, placing the bottom sides to the absolute edge (as I had the previous two) I came unstuck because when the lid was made up it didn’t entirely cover the base. The solution was simple and that was to inset it a little so the lid covered it completely.

The second tip is to decide before you start how you’re going to decorate your box. If you’re going to paint it then it’s probably best done after it’s been made up but if you want to cover it in paper or you want to stamp, stencil, mask or stain it then it is far easier to do this BEFORE making it up.

Tip number three is to decide whether you want to cover the side with a paper strip. This will probably be more easily understood once you’ve made your first box. I didn’t add a strip to box 1 but I did to boxes 2 & 3.

Whatever you decide to do I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with this lovely die.

Full Instructions for creating all three boxes can be found here:

Box 1 – Harmony

This altered art box can be used for Valentine’s Day or for any other day and either gender. The attraction of altered art is that it is ageless, it would be great for Grandma equally as well as appealing to your teenage daughter.

If it’s not for Valentine’s Day a simple change of ribbon can make this more masculine in a heartbeat!

Level of difficulty:     Intermediate

2 sheets of thin greyboard 30cm x 15cm (12” x 6”)
Red or deep pink acrylic paint (I used pearlised)
Black acrylic paint
Tim Holtz Rock candy clear crackle medium
Tim Holtz ‘Composer’ tissue wrap – TH92962
Scrap of thin black card (for music stave)
A sheet (or large scraps) of thin silver craft metal
2 miniature red roses (or alternatives)
1 miniature bow
12 small silver coloured beads
Small length of fine silver chain (about 10cm)
A couple of small silver charms (I used a heart and key)
A small vintage metal heart embellishment (or equivalent)
2 silver jump rings
Craft gems for decorating the crown
Jewellery making looped head pin
40cm length of decorative ribbon not more than 2cm wide
Claudine Hellmuth Studio matte glue
Double sided sticky tape

Sizzix Big Shot die cutting machine
Sizzix Scoreboards XL Heart box die – 658057
Sizzix XL cutting plates (pair)
Tim Holtz Movers & shapers mini cage and bird dies –657207
Tim Holtz Movers & shapers crown die – 657210
Sizzix Movers & shapers base tray - 657607
Music stave die -  you can use the Sizzlits Sheet music’ decorative strip die – 657343 or any equivalent
Cutting mat
Inking sheet
Thick watercolour paint brush
Ten Second Studio decorative metal embossing wheel or a thin embossing tool
Scalpel or craft knife
Japanese screw punch or paper piercer
A dry rag

Box 2 – I Love You Mum

A shabby chic style box designed for a birthday as much as for Valentine’s Day. A very simple style with the most time consuming part being the flowers made from scalloped circles.

The addition of some off-white ‘bobble’ ribbon provides the finishing touch to this stylish box.

Level of difficulty:     Intermediate

2 sheets of thin greyboard 30cm x 15cm (12” x 6”)
1 sheet 12” x 12” thin patterned card
1 strip 30cm x 2.5cm thin patterned (same or coordinating, your choice)
Scraps of thin red plain card (for flowers and tag heart)
A sheet (or large scraps) of thin gold craft metal
Tim Holtz Distress ink pad – Vintage photo
Black archival ink pad
Metallic gold paint or gold leafing pen
Ranger gold stickles glue (or equivalent)
2 large craft gems (for flowers)
2 15cm lengths of gold craft wire (for flowers)
40cm length of decorative bobble ribbon not more than 1.25cm wide
A very small tag with hole
15cm length of baker’s twine
Claudine Hellmuth Studio matte glue
Double sided sticky tape
Foam pad

Sizzix Big Shot die cutting machine
Sizzix Scoreboards XL Heart box die – 658057
Sizzix XL cutting plates (pair)
Tim Holtz Movers & shapers mini flourish – 657205
Tim Holtz Movers & shapers scroll heart die – 658052
Sizzix Movers & shapers base tray - 657007
Scalloped circle punch or die (approx’ 7.5cm/3” diameter)
Small heart punch
Text stamp (any large enough to cover scalloped circles)
Tim Holtz blending tool with sponges for the distress inks
Cutting mat
Inking sheet
Thick watercolour paint brush
Ten Second Studio decorative metal embossing wheel or a thin embossing tool
Scalpel or craft knife

Box 3 – Simply Love

This box shows you just how easy it can be to make – the whole process, beginning to end, took about 25 minutes. I used PanPastels (but you can use distress ink just as well) to demonstrate how even the most inexperienced crafter could create this in a jiffy.

I didn’t use ribbon but I have used a decorative strip of paper to cover the sides. You can see how easy it is to vary your options. Hopefully I’ve demonstrated what a brilliant investment this die is, you will reach for it time and time again!

Level of difficulty: Easy

2 sheets of thick white card 30cm x 15cm (12” x 6”)
1 strip 30cm x 2.5cm thin white card
4 pastel PanPastels (or distress inks) of your choice
Versamark clear embossing pad (or equivalent)
(A coloured archival ink pad if you’re using distress inks rather than PanPastels)
Claudine Hellmuth Studio matte glue
Double sided sticky tape


Sizzix Big Shot die cutting machine
Sizzix Scoreboards XL Heart box die – 658057
Sizzix XL cutting plates (pair)
Any small heart stamp
Sponge applicators for the PanPastels OR
Tim Holtz blending tool and sponges for distress inks
Cutting mat
Inking sheet
Scalpel or craft knife

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Altered Art - Valise by Chris W

When I was making the 'Good Luck Son' card it occurred to me that I've never used the Vintage Valise die in any altered art piece I've made. On went the thinking! A few hours later I came up with the outline design for this. It's taken me a few days faffing to get it to what it is now but then that's what us crafters do isn't it? You can adapt this piece very easily into something personal to you by changing charms etc, you could even change the colour completely!
I hope it offers you a little inspiration.
Level of difficulty: Intermediate
Board or thick cardboard 225mm x 300mm
Thick paper or thin card (any colour) 225mm x 300mm
Brown card for main part of valise
Scraps of darker brown card for valise straps and die cuts
Scraps of light tan card for valise corners
Scraps of black card for valise strap struts
Scraps of grey card for die cuts
Scrap of white card for die cut word 'dream'
Piece of gold coloured craft metal for clock and wings
Scrap of old map
Craft metal - gold
Small travel pictures and words
Gold vintage effect buttons
5 assorted travel charms (choose from what you have)
An old coin
A piece of cork cut from bottle cork
Decorative hat pin
A metal decorative corner
8 distressed gold or copper brads for the valise struts
A brad for clock hands
Tim Holtz Distress ink pad 'Brushed corduroy'
Tim Holtz alcohol inks 'Ginger', 'Hazlenut', 'Sandal' & 'Butterscotch'
Tim Holtz alcohol blending solution
White acrylic paint
Viva Inka-gold metallic paste - gold
Claudine Hellmuth studio matte medium
Metal glue
PVA glue
Double sided tape
Very small foam pads
Sizzix Big Shot die cutter (or any that cuts thick dies)
Tim Holtz 'Vintage valise' die
Sizzix 'Angel wings' die
Tim Holtz 'Gadget gears' die
Tim Holtz 'Weathered clock' die
Mini gears die (any)
Scroll dies (any)
Scroll corner die (any)
Two dies that denote foreign places (any)
Sizzix phrase die 'Dream' (you can choose what you want)
Sizzlits aeroplane die
An embossing folder for the wings (any)
Cutting mat
Inking sheet
Pair of cutting pliers to remove button backs
Tim Holtz blending tool + sponge & ink applicator
Thin watercolour paint brush
Large flat water colour paint brush
Sanding block or emery paper
Damp cloth
Paper hanky
Piece of kitchen roll
The base board
Take your piece of thick paper/thin card and glue it to the board base. When it has dried completely mix a little white acrylic paint with PVA glue' (50:50) and apply an even coat over the board using the large flat water colour brush. This layer MUST be completely dry before the next step. Place your board landscape then using your blending tool and ink applicator apply patchy streaks of the alcohol inks horizontally across the board blending them as best you can. If the result looks unblended use a SMALL amount of the blending fluid to refine the blending. Drop a few drops of the 'Hazlenut' ink over the board to make ink spots. Alcohol ink dries very quickly but it must be fully dry before proceeding. Make a wash of 40% white acrylic paint and 60% water and apply the wash over the board using the flat water colour brush. Leave to dry.
Next, tear a strip of your map to about 100mm width and encourage some little rips down both sides. Crumple the map up so there are lots of creases in it when you undo it and lay it flat. Take your blending tool and sponge and gentle apply 'Brushed corduroy' ink down each side making sure you cover both front and back of the little rips. Without replenishing the ink gently drag the sponge back and forth over the rest of the map so that the ink stains all the creases from where you crumpled it. Once the map is dry glue it to the board using the studio matte glue. When the map has dried trim the excess away from the board. Drop a few drops of ink over the map and then place the board to one side.
Prepping the valise
Make up the valise in exactly the same way as the 'Good luck son' card using the brown and coordinating brown card.
Prepping your art
Start by cutting out your travel pictures and words as required then cut all of your die shapes out using the scraps of card. I've used coordinating brown for all except the large 'Gadget gears' and aeroplane which are grey, white for the word 'dream' and the clock and wings which are cut from gold thin craft metal. Once the wings are cut emboss them with an embossing folder then distress them using the sanding block. Take the clock and clock hands and do the same. Wipe away the dust with a damp cloth then dab them with alcohol inks using your blending tool and ink applicator. Take a brad and put the clock hands together. Use your pliers to remove the button backs then ink the fronts with the same alcohol inks and any of the other charms you want to. Next take your blending tool and sponge and lightly colour the edges of your travel pictures, words and card die cuts using the 'Brushed corduroy' distress ink. Edge the piece of cork using the same ink then slip one of the travel charms onto the hat pin and carefully push the pin into the side of the cork.
Bringing it all together
All of your art should now be cut, put together and distressed. Clear and clean your work surface and when everything is dry place the board down and start arranging your art. If you start with the clock, wings and valise you can alter their positions as necessary to accommodate your art - don't be frightened of overlaying pieces. When you have laid it all out walk away and make a cuppa. There's many a time I've started the gluing and then wished I'd placed something somewhere else! If you're working in the evening I'd be tempted to leave it until the next day - it is a lot of work to spoil by haste.
When you're completely sure you have the layout as you like it you can start gluing. The Claudine Hellmuth studio matte glue will adhere most things but use metal glue for anything metallic you're unsure about

Good Luck Son by Chris W

Last year someone asked me if I had a card suitable to give their son who was going away to Uni' - I didn't. Since then I've had a couple of requests for cards to celebrate less usual occasions where friends or loved ones were moving on so I came up with this quick and easy format...
Level of difficulty: Easy
Materials needed:
1 8 x 8 scallop edged card
1 12 x 12 or 2 A4 pieces of dark blue card for base and valise
Scraps of coordinating blue textured card for handle and straps
Scraps of silver grey card for valise corners
1 sheet of blue patterned paper for the mat
1 scrap of coordinating paper for the word strip
Scraps of black card for strap struts on valise and for salutation
Different sized/coloured letters to spell UNIVERSITY
Appropriate words &/or phrases for valise
Scrap of manila or beige card for miniature tag on valise
Tim Holt distress ink 'Brushed corduroy'
Tim Holt distress ink 'Tumbled glass'
Claudine Hellmuth Studio medium - matte (or any clear drying non-glossy glue)
Viva Inka-gold metallic paint - silver
Short length of thin baker's twine
Double sided sticky tape
Foam pads
8 silver distressed brads
Sanding block or emery paper
Damp cloth for cleaning dust and ink away
Paper hanky
Tools needed:
Tim Holtz 'Vintage Valise' die
Alphabet die (any font of appropriate size will do)
Sizzix 'Big Shot' die cutting machine (or any other that will cut thick dies)
Scalpel or cutting knife
Miniature tag punch/small paper punch
Japanese screw punch or paper piercer
Cutting mat
Inking sheet
Tim Holtz blending tool with sponge
Paper/card cutter
Fine water colour brush
The measurements for the base and mat are relative to a scalloped card. If you are using a plain card you may want to increase the sizes of the base and mat accordingly.
You can change the salutation and occasion to whatever you want them to be.
The base
Place your 8 x 8 card to one side and make sure it cannot be marked or splashed by glue or ink etc. Cut your base square from the blue card 19cm x 19cm then cut your mat from the blue pattern paper 18.5cm x 18.5cm and stick carefully to the base with double sided tape ensuring an even border all around. Using your inking sheet as a base take your distress ink pad and blend tool and apply an uneven edge of colour lightly over all four edges of your base and mat. Build the cover gradually making it as uneven in pattern and depth of colour as you like. Place the base to one side and clean your inking sheet (and fingers if you need to).
Prepping the valise
Taking more of the blue card cut the main part of the valise using the die and cutting machine. Use the scraps of coordinating blue card to cut the straps and handle then the black scraps for the struts and the grey for the corners. Place the base of the valise on your inking sheet and edge with distress ink moving a little deeper in the corners. Remove the inking sheet from your cutting mat then take the sanding block and lightly scratch across various parts of the valise. Next take the textured card straps and handle and the corners and scratch them too. Wipe away the dust from your valise elements with the paper hanky and then remove all dust from your work surface. Using your inking mat again, ink over part of the scratched areas of all elements except the corners with your blending tool. Edge the valise straps and handle thinly. Moisten the Inka-gold silver paint with your water colour brush and create a reasonably thick consistency to paint the valise corners making good but patchy cover then leave to dry. Take your words and phrases and colour all over with the Tumbled Glass distress ink. When dry go over the edges with the Brushed Corduroy ink. Cut a tag shape from the scrap of manila card, ink the edges brown and write (or stamp) it with your choice of word. Lastly lightly ink over the dried corners patchily.
Making up the valise
Glue the handle to the top centre of the valise base then follow either side by the straps pushing them up against each side of the handle. Glue the struts over the straps and whilst they are drying carefully glue the corners into place. When the struts are dry pierce holes in the struts and add the brads securing them tightly at the back. If you feel you need to add further distressing ink do it at this stage. Finally add your tag by tying it around the handle and secure in place with a foam dot or glue and then glue your words and phrases over the valise.
Word strip
Lay your letters out vertically under each other and make sure the length will not exceed the length of your word base. Given that the base mat is 18.5cm square the height of your word strip should not exceed 18cm but can be a lot smaller if you're using a shorter word. Decide how much edge you want to border your letters - I've left 0.25cm around using the widest letter as my guide. Cut your letter base from the scrap of coordinating paper then lay your letters on top spacing them accurately BEFORE you glue them in place then glue them.
Bringing it all together
Cut your salutation (GOOD LUCK SON) from the remaining scraps of black card using your alphabet die. Take your 8 x 8 card and stick your base to it with double sided tape. Lay your finished valise, word strip and salutation down on the top and arrange them as you want them (you can choose whatever layout you prefer).  Once you've chosen the layout stick down the valise with foam pads then glue the remaining items into place.
Your card front is now ready. Finish with an insert of your choice.