OWH Episode 5!

We've had 5 episodes of our regular tv show....in addition to specials and tutorials! Hope you all are enjoying them!


Stickles - is it ok?

One of our biggest questions that's asked about on our Facebook page, blog, and email is:

"I know glitter is a no no...are stickles okay?"
We've talked about it many times, but we'll address it again for you!

And it's not a straight answer, unfortunately. The whole reason for the rule against glitter is that it makes a mess on our heroes' uniforms and can make them visible to night vision goggles - and we don't want that! They may not even know it's all over them, so it's up to us to send cards that won't make a mess.

Stickles is a product that is SOMETIMES okay. We're not sure whether it's the composition of some of the colors, or simply the amount of Stickles that is used on the cards - but there are some cards where it stays put, and others that it rubs off. 
  • Before deciding to use Stickles on your card, test it first. Apply some to the kind of cardstock you'll be adding it to on the card, in the amount you'll be using it, and let it dry. Then test it - if it comes off on your finger when you rub it firmly, then don't use it. Some even use a fabric test - rub a sleeve on it, and see if it leaves the card.
  • If you already have cards with a little Stickles on them (this works only for small spots of it), you can add a little bit of Glossy Accents or Diamond Glaze or other similar product, and that seals it in place. Be sure that doesn't wreck your design - slathering that all over a card can ruin it, and if you apply too much of it too thick it will remain sticky and attach itself to another card in the box, so it may not work for your card.
PS While we're talking sparkles - the papers with the glitter "embedded" in them are okay if they're fully sealed by the manufacturer; many papers have a coating that holds the glitter in place. Some, however, rub off - don't use those, please!


It's A K-9 Challenge

 Welcome to our Midweek Throwdown challenge!
I enjoyed visiting you all and seeing your Cards 4 Kids creations, thanks for the inspiration and playing along in last weeks challenge! 

Our challenge this week is a K-9 theme!  We challenge you to make cards for our heroes to send home to their loved ones using a dog or dogs in the theme.   We are looking forward to seeing your creations!

We have a special guest this week providing a couple of fun digital images - our very own Sandy!  You may use them for our challenge but it's not required.  There are more free digital images with K-9's for you here too.

Sandy is also our sample card maker, if you’d like to see more of her wonderful art you can visit her blog It’s A Colourful World.

Thank you for sharing your awesome creativity with us Sandy!

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.


Tutorial - Bow tying - The Fork Method

Ever wish there was an easy way to tie a cute bow? I consider myself seriously bow-challenged, so when I attended Saturday's Seminar and someone mentioned, "the fork method," I was seriously curious. You're tying a bow with a fork?

Yep! This is a serving fork. Just start with a fork and about a 10-inch piece of ribbon.

Fold the ribbon across the fork, so that the piece on the back side is longer than the front.

Bring the back end of the ribbon over the front and down through the middle slot on the fork.

Now bring it up through the top of the same slot in the fork.

Tie a knot in the ribbon. You can see the back of the bow now.

This is the reverse view. How cute is that bow! Just slip it off the fork and trim the ends and it's ready for your card.

I'm sorry I don't remember who sent me the link to this youtube video.


Sketch Challenge #62 - Special Edition!

Happy Birthday, Sandy Allnock!

That's right, folks, today is the birthday of our fearless leader, Sandy. We're celebrating with not one but THREE sketches.... to go with SIX new Frantoonies!!

For the uninitiated, Frantoonies are special digis created by Fran S, a "Gma in Silverdale" who hand draws these adorable images especially for Operation Write Home. You can read more about Fran in her Featured Friday post here. She's done a special batch for Sandy's birthday to share with us!

Important note: please remember that Frantoonies are for use on cards for OWH only and are labeled with OWH on each image for that reason. Remember to click twice on the image to get the largest version of it before saving the image.

Aren't they fantastic? To go with these new Frantoonies, we have three different sketches for you!

And of course we couldn't have just one samplemaker for all this, so we have four! Some of our admin team couldn't resist firing up their printers when they saw these Frantoonies, LOL! Below each picture is the name and link for that samplemaker. Be sure and visit their blogs, there are other images there, I couldn't fit them all in this post!!

From Barb of Paper Therapy Ponderings

From Jan of She's Gone Stampin'

From Paula of Handmade by Paula

From Yolanda of Imagine. Make. Share.

Wow! What great work, ladies! Thank you all so much for these beautiful samples.

Get busy, folks! You have lots to work with this week! Bonus points if you make a birthday card, in honor of Sandy's 29th(ish) birthday!

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.


Saturday Seminar Series #2: Texture and Dimension

Sandy, our instructor for this Seminar, holds a B.A from Frostburg State University, MD. She has 25 years design experience and works as a  Graphic Designer for an international nonprofit.  She also serves as president  and founder of Operation Write Home!

Welcome to our second seminar in this design series! These seminars are intended to help cardmakers at all levels grow in their craft, get new ideas, and take each one of us to the next level of creativity! At the end of the text/photo section of this seminar is the ustream class - that includes many more card samples and a discussion of ribbons and bows, so be sure to check it out!

“Creativity often consists of merely turning up what is already there. 
Did you know that right and left shoes were thought up 
only a little more than a century ago?” —Bernice Fitz-Gibbon

Texture and dimension are an area of much confusion for many of our cardmakers; our guidelines state that lumpy cards are okay, as long as they're not too lumpy. So what the heck does that mean?

First, know that there are all sorts of items that can create dimension on a card - layers of paper (designer paper, which is thin, or cardstock layers, which add more dimension simply because of their thickness), embellishments, or dimensional adhesives. The latter comes in a variety of types:
  • packs of circles or squares, often called 'popdots'
  • glue dots that add dimension (thick glue dots)
  • rolls of mounting tape
We recommend using the thinnest you can find, especially if you desire more than one layer of dimension on a card. You can see the comparison below between the Scotch adhesive, with the green backing, and the squares - these create a vast difference in the amount of depth on a card.
What's TOO much dimension? How thick is too thick?
For our boxes, completely flat cards fit the most into each box. While that's great, it's not completely our goal: we do want these cards to be beautiful, eye-catching, and we want our heroes to be excited to look at them, touch them, and write lovely sentiments in them. All-flat cards would become boring after a while! So a mix of various types is our goal.
  1. Dimensional layers: Please don't stack layer upon layer of popped items one on top of another. A "tower" of dimensional elements causes envelopes to be jammed in postal machines, and we need these important letters to make it home to loved ones intact! If you use the thin scotch mounting tape, you may get away with two layers, but please read #4 as well.
  2. Buttons:  Thin shirt-style buttons are fine, but thick buttons, most especially the big vintage ones, are our biggest offender. Our shippers often put these in the hospital to remove thick buttons and replace them with thinner buttons from their own stash. Buttons on thick-layered-flowers can also be a problem.
  3. Thick embellishments: There are brads, flowers, and other items that are along the same depth as vintage buttons; please limit their use to AnyHero cards. Even some of the 3d stickers, made for cards, have 5 or 6 dimensional layers that are a real problem for postal machines!
  4. Balance! The post office tells us, of course, never to have a bump on a card. Officially. However, some who know those machines have said that an EVEN amount of dimension works better than a totally thin card with one giant "bump" of an embellishment. If you start putting dimension behind elements on one half of a card, balance it out with layers and embellishments on the other side; this creates an envelope that feels "thick and flat" - and that stands a much better chance at going through a postal machine than something with one item stabbing through the envelope. See the video for more description of this.
And now....some cards!

Texture and dimension on a card is a great opportunity to make elements of the design really "sing" - let's  start with looking at this simple card, stamped on one layer of cardstock, with a punched butterfly added. While this is fine, a few small changes could really make a big difference.

This time the card front was done on a separate layer, and adhered to the card base of a slightly lighter color. The image was trimmed out and layered on the orange coordinating cardstock to give it just a little extra dimension, and the sentiment was stamped onto a banner to draw more attention to it. The butterfly is now attached with a very tiny glue dot and attached on the corner, which now makes it look more dimensional, without even adding thick dimensional adhesives beneath it.

This card needs some help! The background paper and sentiment were cut out on all sides with a border punch (could also have been with a pair of decorative-edge scissors) - which adds more visual detail than needed with the design. Flowers are added on the corners, and get lost on the busy pattern.

The revised card at right simplifies the edges - most are now cut straight, which allows the one side of each paper to get more attention. Coordinating yellow layers begin to draw the colors of the entire card together, and the layers begin to define the separations between the patterns - making it much easier to see what's on the card. The flowers are duplicated, two punched flowers and a brad for each, and are gathered in two corners only - a trick learned from our Focal Point Seminar 2 months ago!

This star card, based on Sketch #2, is clean and simple. Layers of cardstock create a strong, clear design, and hand-drawn stitching adds detail to the edges of the sections. There's nothing at all wrong with it, and yet....it has such potential!

Simply dry embossing the background papers adds some extra flair to this card: a simple star pattern in red behind the star, and a busier, more regular pattern in the blue strip. The white star has a thin dimensional adhesive behind it, which makes it stand out just a little more. Much improvement! And yet....

In this version, the white/red star section is raised up on dimensional adhesive, and both the white and red stars are popped too. The card base has been embossed, a white layer behind the blue strip, and a larger blue layer behind the star section. A ribbon and thick flag brad are added to create even more bulk - and oops! We went just a bit too far! This card would be way too thick for our heroes to mail back home; the multiple layers behind that star are a little over the top. Fortunately, this is still perfectly suitable for an AnyHero card - those can be as thick as we want, since they go in the box and not through postal machines!

This card shows more balance; the star is still popped with the thin dimensional adhesive, and there is still dimension behind the white square in that section - but that leaves it with only 2 pieces of stacked dimensional adhesive - this would be about the max we'd recommend. 

The star section on this card is balanced with the sentiment embellishment below - 2 simple layers of cardstock and a small knot of ribbon. This will make the entire card, within its envelope, be more 'evenly' thick - causing less postal troubles.

This friend card, based on S&S Sketch #36, will show us how visual texture works on a card - along with dimension. The three papers here share some colors in common (chosen from a pack of coordinating papers), the sentiment circle is edged with ink. The design is fine....but it lacks some 'zing.' This has much potential for being a card that would really pop!

First, divisions were created between each paper section - no dimensionals were added, aside from paper and ribbon. A scallop now surrounds the sentiment, drawing attention to it; a strip of ribbon was glued vertically to separate the background papers; and a layer of cardstock was added beneath the green paper to separate it visually from the papers behind it. The three adhesive dots were colored with red Copic marker, to make them coordinate better with the stronger elements on the card.

And then...even further changes start making the card even better. The background papers were trimmed a little smaller, and the card base was changed to red. Two layers now surround the green paper - cream to coordinate with the sentiment, and red to match the card base. The red layer also has extra hanging off the bottom, which was enhanced with a border punch, to further soften the card. The sentiment is now on an even fancier scallop, and that section is popped on the thin mounting tape (dimensional adhesive). Ribbon was tied onto the green section prior to adhering it to the card.

Here is the same card, with simply a color change from red to pink - it has a similar wow factor but with a different feel to it because of the color. 

More card samples are shown in the video below, as well as a discussion of ribbons and bows - including a tip for tying - so be sure to check it out!


Seminar #2: TODAY! 11am Pacific

Be sure to tune in!

Did you miss Seminar 1? Check it out here: Focal Point


Featured Cardmaker: Dee N., Brimley, MI

This week I'd like you to meet Dee from Michigan. Dee has been a part of OWH since it's earliest beginnings and I am delighted to be able to share some her cards with you today. Dee doesn't blog (I'm guessing she is way too busy making cards :) so be sure to leave her a comment on this post.

How long have you been stamping?  Probably about 20 years.

Do you have a craft room or specific area where you stamp?  Yes, I have a lovely craft room that has lots of natural light.  It's a joy to be in here making cards for the troops.  All of the equipment has a specific spot, ribbon hangs on rods so I can see what I have, cardstock racks sit on the floor so I can see what I have, etc.  But the nicest part is everything can be left out and I can come back another day to finish a card.  It's my sanctuary! 

What are your favorite stamp products?  I don't know that I have a favorite "stamp" product.  I do enjoy heat embossing so VersaMark would be high on my list of favorites and I use VersaFine inks for my sentiments.  Otherwise, I use Stampin' Up cardstock, ink and a lot of their designer papers.  I've recently started using JustRite & Verve stamps, too.

Do you have a favorite technique?  I think my favorite technique is embossing--both heat embossing and dry embossing.  I also use a lot of Spellbinder's Nestabilities to cut out my sentiments and images.  And I've never met a piece of ribbon I didn't like but I absolutely love the May Arts silk ribbon and the Bow-Easy.

Are there colors you love to include on your cards?  Khaki, red & blue are some of my favorite colors but this time of year I get spring fever and tend to lean toward the more pastel colors: yellow, pink, light blue, green, etc.

How did you hear about Operation Write Home?  I've been involved with Operation Write Home since before it's inception as Cards for Heroes.  I learned about these ladies sending cards to troops on Splitcoast Stampers and got in touch with Sandy. I've probably made and sent over 10,000 cards since I started and I continue to send 150-200 cards a week during the winter but much less in the summer.

What motivates you to make cards for our heroes?  The heroes!   And their appreciation for what we do when it's us who wants to thank them and their families for the sacrifices they make.  Every generation of my family has had at least one family member in the military going back as far as the American Revolution.  I want them to know how much I appreciate what they're doing.  This is my tiny way of trying to make life a little easier for them.

A Special Note:
Dee has also passed the crafting gene on to her grandchildren and some of our "old-timers" may recall seeing a Feature Friday with Jaylen and Brecklin a long time ago when OWH was still Cards For Heroes (some of their earlier work is pictured below). I thought it would be fitting to give you an update on these two special card makers. Dee reports to me that they still help her make cards and they're still making cards themselves. Jaylen is now 6 years old and Brecklin is 9 years old.

Jaylen enjoys drawing pictures to put on the front of his cards and he keeps his cards pretty simple.  He's still learning how to get the pictures glued straight on the cards!  He tends to use bright colors, especially his favorite colors of green & blue.

Brecklin likes to look through a book of card sketches and try a different layout each time.  She enjoys stamping and coloring the images but she has just learned to heat emboss so I think that is her favorite technique at the moment.  Brecklin tends to use a wide selection of colors but her favorite colors are pink & lavender.

Thanks to Dee, Jaylen and Brecklin for being a part of the OWH Family!


OWHtv Episode 4...and coming Saturday: Seminar!!

This week's "Stuff you wanna know" segment lightly touched on CAS cards - and showed some before/after examples....great hero letters in the Mailbag segment....and a wonderful gift from Australia was the pick of the week.

This week's Stump Sandy challenge card:

We've been having an "after party" following the recorded program, whenever Sandy's available for further chatting. This leaves more time for q&a in the chat window, which is a little harder when Sandy is working through the show content and struggles to follow the chat! Two more cards were made during that after party, and gave some tips on cutting out images, dimension, and ribbon tying.
We'll be having the 2nd in our Saturday Seminar Series on card design! The first one was so helpful in developing a focal point on our cards. This month's seminar will discuss texture (both visual and physical) and dimension - and will show many examples of different types....taking one card design and improving on it in stages.

The seminar will be on ustream at 11am Pacific, and will last under 1 hour. As usual, Sandy will remain online for further chatting about the topic (not recorded). Later in the afternoon, a blog post will be here on S&S with photos of the cards and the video of the seminar itself.

Do you have specific questions about texture/dimension? Please feel free to leave them in a comment on this post, and Sandy will try to address them during the seminar!


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