Cards I have loved…

Do you ever have cards you have made that you just can’t bear to give away? I make so many dozens of cards, I often make one that I really like, but as they are destined for magazine articles or TV shows, I can’t just hide them away and not part with them!

I thought I would do a couple of blogs just showing cards I have particularly loved this year and both of these cards were an easy choice.

Beautiful Bruges – well worth a visit.

The pretty watery scene is from the pad featuring Evgeny (pronounced Eugeny) Lushpin’s artwork. I love his choices of subject and the way he paints. This particular scene is in Bruges I believe and is so beautiful (as is all of Bruges if you get a chance to go for a visit). The backing paper behind also comes from the pad as does the border and sentiment – so convenient!

The butterflies and leaves are from the Signature Die range – Butterfly Cloud and Trailing Leaves.

The gorgeous little bird card uses an image from the Jane Shasky Birds in the Garden pad alongside our Signature Dies Pumpkin Patch – ideal for autumn too!

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Roses, roses all the way

I have read that, in many surveys, roses come out top as the nation’s favourite flower. It would certainly be in my top five but I suspect a few others might creep ahead of it in contention for the number one spot. Funnily enough, many of my favourite flowers are out in the Spring. Hellebores (Christmas Roses), snowdrops, violets, lily of the valley – perhaps it’s that I am so grateful for some flowers once Winter has begun to disappear!

Both these cards use our Tied Bunch of Roses die (SD624) and both have been hand coloured after cutting them out in white, well actually cream in this instance. But it really is pretty quick and simple to paper piece and diecut in two different coloured pieces of card – red for the roses and green for the leaves for example.

The other notable thing on both these cards is the use of our pretty corner dies. I think the more elaborate corner dies can make some wonderful additions to a card. I have made some great photo frames by using four dies close together and they really do add a bit of style to a card.

The corner die used with the cream roses is our Bordeaux Corner die SD636 and the peach roses card uses Marseille Corner SD642.

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Several ideas from one set of dies

It’s important to be able to use any die you buy in several different ways. Flexibility makes dies so much better value and this little trio of cards gives some inspiration on quick and easy cards with our recent flower dies.

The bunch of roses uses Tied Bunch of Roses SD624, together with the Harriet Lace Edger SD191. I love the versatility of the lacy edger dies – well I like most things lacy I guess! On this card, the diecuts have been coloured with Promarkers, but you could easily diecut in a green and then pale lilac card and paper piece the design.

The orchid card looks so stylish, yet can be made up in a very short time once you have your diecuts. Again you could paper piece and cut in various colours but you can achieve such lovely subtle colours using a marker. The die for the vase and flowers is Orchid Trio SD634– the little banner with the forked ends you can just cut by hand.

Finally, the ‘Just for You’ card uses a combination of Tied Bunch of Roses SD624 and the vase from Vase of Flowers SD641. I think it’s important to be able to mix and match dies from any range of dies I buy.

The best value way to have all the dies used in these cards is to buy our special offer Floral Bouquets Multibuy!

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Pearls of wisdom

Surely one of the most popular embellishments for card makers – pearls manage to be pretty and elegant without being overly showy, classy rather than brash I always think! Of course, the pearls we use are synthetic, but a real natural pearl is a thing of extraordinary beauty.

If you have been to see Mama Mia II (like me!!), you will know there’s a scene where a young suitor opens an oyster for his beloved (no names, no plot spoilers!) and there just happens to be a great big pearl nestling in it! In reality, finding a pearl in an oyster is very rare… but in fiction, of course, anything can happen!

So what is a natural pearl? I always think it is incredible how they are produced… Pearls are made when a small object, such as a grain of sand, is washed into a mollusc. As a defence mechanism to an irritant inside its shell, the mollusc creates a substance called nacre (mother of pearl). Layer upon layer of nacre, coat the grain of sand until the iridescent gem is formed. The ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth, but many other shapes, known as ‘baroque’ pearls, can occur. The finest quality natural pearls have been highly valued as gemstones and objects of beauty for many centuries. Because of this, ‘pearl’ has become a metaphor for something rare, fine, and valuable.

The most valuable pearls occur spontaneously in the wild, but are extremely rare, which is why they command such high prices. These wild pearls are referred to as ‘natural’ pearls. Cultured or farmed pearls from pearl oysters and freshwater mussels make up the vast majority of those sold. Imitation pearls are also widely sold in inexpensive jewellery – I think most of us of a ‘certain age’ probably own a string, but their iridescence is poor compared to genuine pearls.

Pearls are cultivated primarily for use in jewellery, but, in the past were also used to adorn clothing – think of the Elizabethans and their bodices encrusted with pearls. They are also been crushed and used in cosmetics, medicines and paint formulations.

Whether wild or cultured, gem-quality pearls are almost always pearlescent and iridescent, like the interior of the shell that produces them… hence the rather lovely term ‘mother of pearl’ as found inside the mollusc’s shell.

Cultured pearls are formed in pearl farms, using human intervention as well as natural processes. As with natural pearls, the initial formation of cultured pearls is the response of the shell to an ‘irritant’ – a tissue implant. A tiny piece of tissue (from a donor shell is transplanted into a recipient shell, causing a pearl sac to form into which the pearls structure starts to form. There are a number of methods for producing cultured pearls and one is by adding a spherical bead as a nucleus and most saltwater
cultured pearls are grown in this way.

So what makes pearls so beautiful? The unique lustre of pearls depends upon the reflection, refraction, and diffraction of light from the pearl’s translucent layers – the thinner and more numerous the layers in the pearl, the finer the lustre. So it’s the overlapping of successive layers causes the iridescence that pearls display. So now you know!

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Such a fan!

I am indeed a huge fan of the series of boxed sets I am working on with Practical Publishing. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than being able to be part of creating a product that is stunning value for money. Any one of the boxed sets that have come out so far is highly recommended. These cards come from Cardmaking Collection Issue 5 – it is all based around Victorian fans and has just been so popular, I am glad so many thousands of people enjoyed it.

The boxed sets are always available from lots of high profile outlets, like Tesco and other supermarkets, WH Smith – and of course our website and Create and Craft just to mention a few and I love hearing from Practical Publishing when an issue has jumped off the shelves!

This fan themed issue was a huge success – at the time of writing this, we have a few left here on the website but not sure they will be around much longer.

The great thing is that apart from having great freebies, the magazine that comes in the set shows you how to make every card pictured in the set (including these two) and I don’t know about you but I do love having clear step by steps right in front of me to work with.

The next issue (6) is due in early September and is going to be a real wow – we have been working with Jane Shasky and I know any regular reader of the blog will have seen her amazing artwork, so without wishing away the summer, roll on September!

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