Tutorial - Layering With Your Cricut Machine

This week's tutorial is brought to us by Sheila. Sandy noticed how great her Cricut cards were; the layering really makes the images "pop" on the card. We asked Sheila to share her secrets with the rest of us.



By using the creative features of your cricut machine you can make your creations literally pop off the page, making your cards that much more adorable. I’m using the Create a Critter cricut cartridge for this demonstration. Not all cricut cartridges have the same creative features for layering but most of them at least have a shadow feature.





For most of my critter cuts I use on cards I do a 3 inch cut. To make this dinosaur, I’m using the following four colors.








First I cut the shadow:








Then I cut layer 1:









Then layer 2:









And finally layer 3:







The Cricut machine has function keys that will say, “layer 1, layer 2, etc”. It’s very easy to follow.Here’s my four pieces that I’m ready to assemble together.






I start from bottom to top. I glue the orange cut onto the black shadow cut.








The lighter green cut is next.









And finally I add the top green layer.





I like to use fun cuts like these to make a variety of cards. In the “thinking of you” card, I added wiggle eyes!


When you use the layering features of the Cricut very often you'll be left with a lot of small pieces that need to be adhered, such as eyes, lips, etc. I personally use Scotch brand Quick dry tacky glue for all of my adhesive needs. I have never had issues with any of my smaller pieces falling off because the tacky glue didn't hold. I found that over time glue sticks didn't hold up.



Thanks again, Sheila, for the great tips! Sheila doesn't have a blog, so everyone please leave a comment to let her know how you liked this tutorial. I don't know about anyone else, but now I want a Cricut!

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S&S Sketch Challenge #32

It's Sunday which means it's time for another sketch challenge.  A HUGE thanks to everyone who played along in last week's sketch challenge.  It's always so fun to see everyone's unique take on the sketch challenges.

This week we have some beautiful cards to share with you created by the amazingly talented Stephanie. To see more of her gorgeous artwork, please visit her blog, SR Cards.

Thank you, Stephanie, for the beautiful cards!







To play along in this week's sketch challenge, simply upload a project using this week's sketch to your blog or online gallery then leave a direct link to your project using the Inlinkz widget at the bottom of this post. And remember, you may use this sketch at any time. Feel free to re-post the sketch on your blog along with your card… then come back and leave a link for us so we may all see your cards!

We encourage everyone to take a few moments to visit and leave comments for the other participants. Comments are a wonderful way to say thank you for sharing your creative project and inspires everyone to create.

Thanks for stopping by and hope you join in the fun!

To play along this week, please enter your name, URL and email address in the link below then press next step and select the photo of your creative project. An icon will appear on the blog featuring the photo you selected. If the photo doesn’t appear right away, don’t worry, it will after the page has been refreshed.

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Featured Cardmakers: Los Gatos Elks Lodge!

This week, meet Cindy and the Los Gatos Elks in California!


This all began with Nancy C, a long time card maker for Operation Write Home. She is a family member that got me (Cindy E) hooked. I started by traveling to her home to make cards.

I took my friend Linda (an Officer of the Los Gatos Elks Lodge) with me once and she was hooked.  She spoke to some Lodge members found a woman (Evelyn Pedron) with many rubber stamps and a room in her home to make cards. We went to her home a couple of times but it was getting a bit crowded.

Linda felt that the Elks do many things for Veterans and felt it was apropos that the Lodge get behind making these cards for those currently serving in the military.  She is the one that obtained the Lodge for our use.

The Lodge has also provided funds to purchase supplies for us to create these cards through their charity program. We have been creating these cards for the past year and a half at the Los Gatos Elks Lodge. We began hoping to create about 1,500 cards in a year.  We far surpassed our expectations by creating over 5,000 cards in our first year.

The women in this group have all joined by word of mouth. We have a group of women that make cards, at home, all month long:  There is my family, Amber, Megan and myself (scrap bookers), Rosa Lee Tipton, Susan Knapp (a scrap booker), Rebecca Valverde and June Ellington (an 80+ woman enjoying every minute she spends making cards).

 In addition to them, we have some of our friends and students in Junior High, High, and College that join us when they can (we have anywhere from 5 to 20 people joining us each month). We also have a Mary Johnson who teaches card making. We have had other Elk officers and members make cards and help us write 'Any Hero' cards.

We have been fortunate enough to have the Elks Lodge provide us with their Lodge to meet once a month. We bring the cards we have made all month long then spend three to four hours making an additional 100 to 150 cards that are needed for that month.

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Midweek Throwdown - Recipe Challenge


Hello and welcome to this week's Midweek Throwdown  challenge! 

First we’d like to thank everyone who entered into last weeks Michelle Perkett Studio sponsored challenge.  We had close to fifty entries here and almost as many on the Michelle Perkett Studio challenge blog!   What fun, a big thank you to everyone who played along! 

We have a winner to announce too!  Congratulations #42 Karen Howard you were chosen to win the $10.00 gift certificate to Michelle's Etsy store!  We will be in contact with you very soon to help you claim your prize!  I used Random.org to choose the winner and had the widget posted here but it went back to zero for some reason!  Guess I'll keep practicing... 

  Our challenge this week is a recipe challenge.  We challenge you to make a card using a die cut or punch, ribbon and heat or dry embossing!   

 Our beautiful sample this week was made by Amy! To see more of Amy’s fabulous cards please visit her blog Amy's Bobbles.  Thank you Amy for your inspiration!



To play along in this week's challenge, simply upload a project using this week's challenge to your blog or online gallery then leave a direct link to your project using the Inlinkz widget at the bottom of this post.  And remember, you may use this challenge at any time.  Feel free to re-post the challenge on your blog along with your card… then come back and leave a link for us so we may all see your cards!

We encourage everyone to take a few moments to visit and leave comments for the other participants.  Comments are a wonderful way to say thank you for sharing your creative project and inspires everyone to create.
 
Thanks for stopping by and hope you join in the fun!

To play along this week, please enter your name, URL and email address in the link below then press next step and select the photo of your creative project.  An icon will appear on the blog featuring the photo you selected.  If the photo doesn’t appear right away, don’t worry, it will after the page has been refreshed.


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Tutorial - Brayer Basics



Today's tutorial comes to us thanks to Donna of Donna Inks. Donna is a Stampin' Up! demonstrator and recently attended a brayering workshop with Michelle Zindorf.

A brayer is like a paint roller for ink. It spreads the ink to give a smooth look and blends colors for a variety of visual effects.

This past weekend, Donna, Julie and I "got away" to a cabin at a local state park for girl time and "Stamp Camp." Donna shared some brayering tips with us and I was able to capture two of her creations in progress on my video camera.

In this first card, the background is brayered with three different blues. The lightest covers the entire page. The medium goes a little more than half-way down, and the darkest is just used on the top fourth or so.


Basic Tips

  1. Use good quality smooth paper, like Stampin' Up!'s Whisper White. Georgia Pacific paper will not give as good a result.
  2. Start with the lightest color ink.
  3. Use a wide stamp pad to get an even distribution of ink. You will get lines if your pad is too small and the ink is not evenly distributed.
  4. Use only dye or classic ink. Craft or pigment ink will sit on top of the paper and won't seep into the paper.
  5. You need more ink than you think. If you think you have enough ink on your brayer, add some more.
  6. Ink your brayer in one direction. Don't roll it back and forth on the ink pad. You want to get an even distribution of ink on the entire roller, all the way around, without any bare spots.
  7. Use a steady medium pressure - not too hard or too light.
  8. Start rolling off your page to avoid making dark lines.
  9. If you do end up with a line - don't worry. Use more ink and blend it in.
  10. Make long steady strokes, rolling across and off the paper on both top an bottom.
  11. Always store your brayer with the rubber side up, to preserve the round shape and keep it from warping.


On this card, Donna used a circle of cardstock to mask the sun, then brayered Summer Sun (yellow) about half-way down. The second color is Pumpkin Pie (orange), then the darkest color is Cherry Cobbler just at the top. The grass was stamped then filled using direct to paper and sponging. The sun was sponged with the yellow and the bird was stamped in black as a silhouette.

Here's a video showing Donna making these two beautiful sample cards. It's easier to see the brayer process on video than with still photos.

Brayer Basics from Kate Mrdja on Vimeo.



Thanks again to Donna for today's tutorial! Please let her know how you liked the demonstration. If you have suggestions for future tutorials, or if you would like to submit a tutorial for a future Tuesday, please email kate@operationwritehome.org.

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Party incentive, anyone?

With our Birthday Bash month on the horizon for September....we wanted to give you a wonderful preview of some goodies being offered up - and incentive to host your own event! Check out yesterday's Homefront Blog for info on challenging yourself to a Card-a-thon in September too!

Signup before Sept 1st:
Of all those who register their party before the 1st, we'll do a drawing to give away 3 prize packages! Each will be a small flat rate box with a whole bunch of cardstock for your party, plus one of the following packets of goodies, plus a bunch of the ink pads donated by Hampton Arts!







After-prizes:
Hostesses who send in their party's cards before the end of September qualify for a drawing to win prizes, too - we're still securing those, and will post them once we have a complete list ready in midSeptember; hostesses can choose to keep the goodies, divvy among their participants, or host a drawing from among their participants - however the hostess wishes! Prize winners will be announced in early October.

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S&S Sketch Challenge #31

Happy Sunday!  I'm really excited to share today's sketch and sample cards with all of you!  Similiar to last week, we again have not just one but TWO amazing cardmakers to feature today.  One of them from our very own admin team. 

First, let's take a look at this week's sketch:


These first sample cards were created by our very own and amazingly talented Jan. Jan coordinates and writes all the midweek challenges here on the OWH Stars and Stamps blog.  To see more of her gorgeous artwork, please visit her blog, She's Gone Stampin'.

Thank you, Jan, for the beautiful cards and all your hard work!




This stunning sample card was created by the fabulous Harriet. To see more of her gorgeous artwork, please visit her blog, A Little Bit Of This and A Lot Of That.

Thank you, Harriet, for sharing your beautiful card with all of us!




To play along in this week's sketch challenge, simply upload a project using this week's sketch to your blog or online gallery then leave a direct link to your project using the Inlinkz widget at the bottom of this post. And remember, you may use this sketch at any time. Feel free to re-post the sketch on your blog along with your card… then come back and leave a link for us so we may all see your cards!

We encourage everyone to take a few moments to visit and leave comments for the other participants. Comments are a wonderful way to say thank you for sharing your creative project and inspires everyone to create.

Thanks for stopping by and hope you join in the fun!

To play along this week, please enter your name, URL and email address in the link below then press next step and select the photo of your creative project. An icon will appear on the blog featuring the photo you selected. If the photo doesn’t appear right away, don’t worry, it will after the page has been refreshed.

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Featured Cardmaker: Laura O, Cottontown TN

How long have you been stamping? 
About 2 years

Do you have a craft room or specific area where you stamp?
 Yes, I have what used to just a scrapbook room, but has become a major card making room.

What are your favorite stamp products?
 Stampin’ up-because a very special lady in my life that survived cancer sales that product and any time I can spend with her is a blessing!

Do you have a favorite technique? 
No, I love to try all kinds of things.

Are there colors you love to include on your cards? 
I love all those, too, how boring am I! I LOVE LOVE LOVE browns, outdoors type motifs like camping stuff but I love flowers, too.

How did you hear about Operation Write Home? 
Truth? Card Maker magazine about a year and half ago. My nephew had just joined the Marines, my beagle of 13 years had passed and I wanted to give my time and thoughts to someone else….I prayed about anything I could do, and viola! Within that week, I read the article about Cards for Heroes! With 2 nephews now in the service, I am all the more motivated! What you all do is such a gift.

What motivates you to make cards for our heroes? 
Like I said previously, in part my nephews, but also the thought that somehow a card can reach a lonely wife, a child that misses dad or mom or a mom that misses her child. I remember when my nephew joined the Marines; I got one letter during boot camp. He had no punctuation anywhere because he had to write so fast to be able to complete a letter before they were made to stop for the night! That letter meant the world to me, I scrapbooked it to keep it forever safe! I can only imagine how much more a card means to someone getting it from family overseas!

I want to thank you and Operation Write Home for this ministry/mission, whichever you choose to call yourselves. I think it helps those of us who make the cards as much or more than those who receive them.

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Michelle Perkett Studio Meets OWH!

Hello and welcome to this week's Midweek Throwdown  challenge! 

First we’d like to thank everyone who entered into last weeks challenge, the cards were beautiful!   A big thank you to everyone who played along! 

We have a sponsored challenge this week; our sponsor is Michelle Perkett Studio!  Michelle has generously given us her wonderful digital images to work with, and... we'll be drawing a winner late Tuesday evening for a $10.00 gift certificate to Michelle's Etsy store!


The challenge is to make cards with any Michelle Perkett Studio digital images for our heroes to send home! 

And now, a little about our sponsor!

Michelle Perkett began her line of cards and prints in 2004 and first began selling them in gift shops and trade shows across the US. In 2009, Michelle started selling her designs as digital stamps and since then has designed for The Angel Company, Faerie Song and is working with a company in the UK who will be selling her stamps on QVC UK this summer!
Michelle an Air Force veteran and is thrilled to be a sponsor for our OWH challenge and is looking forward to seeing every one's entries!
Michelle has an Etsy store that you can visit here, a challenge blog here, and her blog here.

You can enter your cards at the Michelle Perkett Studio challenge blog this week too, the challenge is "Anything Goes" using a Michelle Perkett Studio image!  A prize will be drawn there as well for a gift certificate to Michelle's Etsy store.
Our beautiful samples this week were made by Tammy! To see more of her fabulous cards please visit her blog Life...Enjoy It!   Thank you Tammy for your fabulous creations!






Michelle’s digital image will only be available here until August 24, 2010 at 10:00 PM MST.

Edited to add:  I'm very sorry I had the wrong images posted earlier!  I'd like to introduce you to Mary Margaret & Goldilocks.  

To play along in this week's challenge, simply upload a project using this week's challenge to your blog or online gallery then leave a direct link to your project using the Inlinkz widget at the bottom of this post.  And remember, you may use this challenge at any time.  Feel free to re-post the challenge on your blog along with your card… then come back and leave a link for us so we may all see your cards!

We encourage everyone to take a few moments to visit and leave comments for the other participants.  Comments are a wonderful way to say thank you for sharing your creative project and inspires everyone to create.
 
Thanks for stopping by and hope you join in the fun!

To play along this week, please enter your name, URL and email address in the link below then press next step and select the photo of your creative project.  An icon will appear on the blog featuring the photo you selected.  If the photo doesn’t appear right away, don’t worry, it will after the page has been refreshed.


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Important note about CFAC **with update!

Please please be careful in how you enter for the Joann's Crafting for a Cause contest. I have been desperately trying to reach anyone to find out if we need to buy a whole new paper cutter, scissors, glue, and cuttlebug to qualify. Nobody's responding, they're still working out details. Hang onto your submission and be ready - we have a long while to get to submitting - so we are sure that we get this right. No sense in being disqualified if they change the requirements later on. Thanks everyone!

Link to their blog post today


ETA: A response, yay! This will be more official when they get it posted, but this is what they told me:

The goal of the Craft for a Cause is to encourage Jo-Ann customers to make and donate a handmade item to their favorite charity, using products available from Jo-Ann. This does not mean that a receipt is required for every single item used, especially since many crafters may have or keep basic tools and supplies such as hooks, needles, pins, scissors, a sewing machine, etc. on hand. 

The "bulk" of the materials used should come from Jo-Ann with receipt(s) provided showing proof of purchase. For example, if you are crocheting or knitting a chemo cap, you can purchase the yarn but may use a hook or needles you already own to complete the project. You wouldn't be expected to re-purchase every tool solely for this contest.

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Tutorial - How to become a shippers pet! Non-fail adhesives!

If you follow the OWH Facebook page, you may have already seen this tutorial written by Cheryl at Don't Worry... Be Scrappi. One of the most common causes of card hospital patients is insufficient or poor-quality adhesive, so we wanted to make sure everyone got a chance to see this...



So...in my quest for the best adhesive for Operation Write Home...I have decided to extensively review here all of the adhesives I have used so far including their good and bad qualities. It seems as though I've tried them all but there are so many brands it can be really confusing for the newer OWH card maker. Operation Write Home cards obviously are going overseas where temperatures are extreme and require adhesives that will not dry out and cause our cards to lose their pieces or pop layers with a slight bend. In effort to not have my cards be patients in the shippers triage (card hospital) I store and test my cards before shipment. I have stages my cards go through...



Stage one - Card front creation, I usually use glue stick for patterned (thin) paper to card stock adhesion - glue stick usually allows for easier repositioning than tape so that is the advantage and why I usually prefer it. However glue sticks are almost always the culprits in card triage. But -the BY FAR BEST glue ~stick~ I've found so far is POINEER Embellishment glue stick - it goes on very sticky and gummy and does tend to gum around the neck of the tube and makes for a hard to remove cap after a few uses (at which point teeth help) but this is a good sign -if your glue stick glides on very smoothly and easily I have found those are usually the worst culprits for popping up layered card-stock once its dry. PIONEER does not warp up the paper like some liquid adhesives I've used and it is easily found at Walmart. I made all 20 of my recent Halloween cards with it and they have sat for three weeks and still seem to be adhered very well given the slight "bend" test. Speaking of 20 cards - you will get about 20 cards out of this stick. The price of one stick is $2.00 so that's about .10 per card.This product works well for card-stock to card-stock adherence as well as thin paper adherence such as liners or designer papers and also it claims embellishments so do give it a try if you are a new card-maker looking for a good glue stick -don't waste your money on the school glue stick varieties or even the Aleenes tacky glue stick-I have found all of these to be a "temporary hold" that will probably not survive shipping to A-Stan!




Another glue/ adhesive I have used with success is Beacons 3 in 1. This is a liquid initially re-positionable fast drying tacky glue that is good for EVERYTHING from adhering paper to card-stock to adhering buttons, metal embellishments, buttons to buttons, ribbon, the kitchen sink - you get the idea. You can find it at any craft store. This glue IMO is a must have for certain embellishments because it is the only thing I've found that holds over time on the bulkier embellishments like buttons -it seems to remain somewhat flexible like rubber so this allows your card to still flex without popping parts. The drawbacks to it are; its slow as molasses to come out of the bottle, so I store it upside down but immediately upon removing the cap it begins to bubble up more product than I can use... as it has been stored upside down; (stored upright you'll have to wait for it like pouring ketchup)... so I have to wipe the nozzle of excess with a baby wipe and re-screw the cap quickly which can be time consuming when your glueing/stopping/glueing etc... - perhaps if I store it on its side it would ooze somewhere in between too fast and too slow (ill have to try that) but it is a definite MUST HAVE for repairs of pop offs from other faulty glues and embellishments. Also Beacon's only causes minimal warping on the card-stock -barely noticeable if any - unlike Aleenes which I find causes warping. The cost of Beacon's is around 3.95, however I have had one bottle last me months - if you used only "Beacon's" product (a little goes a long way with this) I estimate you could get between 40-60 cards + embellishments so that's a cost of around .07 per card. If I were new to scrapping cards for OWH and my funds were limited and I could only have one glue for every purpose this would be the one I'd recommend -it will get you through until you can add to your adhesive (s) collection and your shipper will smile big every time they think of you because your cards will not need repairs.



The next adhesive I use with success and mainly for those tiny pieces of paper embellishments such as sizzlits, die cuts with intricate lines etc... that need adhered without a huge blob of glue is "ZIG" pen, I always use it blue/wet and adhere quickly; as opposed to clear/dry which is a temporary hold according to the directions. I would not use it for large areas because the pen I have is the very small chisel tip variety - I have not tried the other ZIG products so I can not review them but the zig pen does work for small pieces when used in the blue/wet (permanent) method. I forget how much I paid for this product but it is a must have if you adhere the sizes of paper as described above.


Up next: Stage two - Card liner creation. Lately I have been creating decorative, yet simple liners for the insides of most of my cards. I just think it adds a little more hand-made quality and weight to the cards. Usually if the card is any color other than white I will add a liner (ink-jet weight paper -the kind found at Walmart) of a complimentary pastel color. If the card is already pastel I will add a liner of white. I use the little 1/4 strips that get cut off of my card-stock to create a little interest line to the right of the fold then I punch out a flower or two and adhere in the corners or to the edge. I usually do this in stage 2 because I like to pick a day to do only liners and inside card embellishments, usually this is when I think I have enough cards to create a shipment. I go into my scrap box to find scrap pieces to use -it seems to go faster than if I were trying to create card fronts and do liners at the same time plus I like to revisit the cards I've previously made and assure my glues are holding strong before shipping - Next step- Labeling and Shipping!



Now as for adhesive tape(s) I have used Ad-tech (permanent) variety, they also sell re-positionable but in making cards for OWH I stay away from anything that is not permanent for obvious reasons. The advantages to "tape" are mainly that you get no warping no matter how many layers of paper/card-stock you end up using and it is fast, easy, and the least-messy option, your creativity flows because you are not constantly having to stop and clean glue off your fingers, or tabletop or cap and un-cap adhesives which can be appreciated best when the creative mojo is flowing freely. The main problem I personally have with permanent tape including ad-tech is once you've adhered it (even if crooked as mine often is) you've adhered it! You can "try" to quickly pull your pieces apart but sometimes it will warble your paper or rip and make it look like you used recycled paper to create your card - not a good look for our soldiers! Also I have noticed that cards adhered with tape may still pop up a little on the edges but seem to still stay adhered in the middle and tapes have not been accused of losing their parts as often as glues if at all. One trick I use for getting a straight layer is to use a generous line of glue stick in the middle of my paper in a line to be adhered/ position it down onto my card front pressing firmly so it will not move -then lift each of the individual sides/ apply tape runner/and press the sides down working from the middle out.



Stage three-labeling and shipping. This is the final card-check-through for shipping to my OWH "shipper". I first check the cards for any glue failures, loose embellishments etc...I fix those usually with Aleenes Tacky glue hopefully saving my shipper from a triage nightmare. At this point it is the only repair glue that will adhere peeling edges without making a huge mess of your card... due to the tip being very narrow, you can easily squeeze it under your papers and button up any glue failures you may have. Aleene's is very cheap-a huge bottle for a dollar and change, adhesion is very good however I do not like the warping you get if using it to create the cards. Next I adhere my OWH and handmade labels to the backs of my cards and pair them with their envelopes by sticking the back of the card into the envelope pouch and folding the envelope flap backwards. I sort my cards into categories such as Love/Miss you, Everyday/No Sentiment, Child, Man, or other Occasion categories. I then bundle with paper straps (liner scraps taped together) all of my cards so my shipper doesn't have the extra chore of sorting -it also keeps my cards compacted for easier packing. I turn cards any way needed to offset embellishments to fit the most cards in a box. I label the bundles with post it's so she can open my box and know at an instant what kinds of cards are there in case she has a need for one particular type, she can quickly access it and then get to the rest later.




Now here are a few glues i've tried that will not hold up to OWH shipping conditions!









And "Terrifically Tacky Tape" is an excellent tape for those who make their own envelopes and need a super sticky "flap" tape adhesive. Now I have purchased an ATG gun from an online vendor at the beginning of this month.I got a great price at 30.00 with shipping - however I am currently holding my breath because it is a pre-order and I still have yet to receive it & I am told it could be months! I also found an off brand of tape that will work in the ATG for a fraction of what other tapes/glues cost! I hope I receive it soon though!


Special thanks to Cheryl for putting this information together! Be sure to leave a comment or visit her blog and let her know what you think. Also, if you have an idea for a Tuesday Tutorial please write kate@operationwritehome.org. And don't forget about the Cardmaking Glossary. New information is being posted there all the time!

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