Saturday, June 24, 2017

Big Stamp Layout

For several reasons, big stamps are the enemy of clean-and-simple (CAS) design. First, they don't leave much room for white space on a card because, you know, they're big. Second, the size and orientation of a big stamp seriously limit the number of layouts you can create on a small rectangle of cardstock, especially if you're not adding lots of mats, ribbon, gee-gaws, and embellishments.

Consequently, big stamps are not my favorites, but I make an exception for this gorgeous lighthouse stamp from PSX. Tricked out in simple black and white, it makes a wonderful masculine birthday card.

This layout works best with this stamp. A vertical layout puts too much vertical into the design (that lighthouse is VERY vertical, even with the clouds and curvy beach and fence to break it up), and even adding a horizontal sentiment isn't enough to create balance. A horizontal layout, with the image offset, creates some tension and lets the horizontal sentiment stand out more as it's reinforced by the horizontal card. Like I said above, there's only so much you can do positioning a big stamp on a small card.

To explore variations, I've applied all sorts of techniques to this stamp over the years, including heat embossing, watercoloring, colored pencils, markers, and chalks. I've added ribbon, eyelets, brads, twine, designer paper, sand, glitter, buttons...all sorts of embellishments. I've created sponged and stippled backgrounds for the image stamped in black.

None of those cards made me as happy as this simple black-and-white version, sans embellishment. This way, a beautiful scene artistically rendered in red rubber gets to be the star.

It doesn't get more CAS than that.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey (sentiment), PSX (lighthouse)
ink: Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Peace & Love; Lost & Found

There's a story behind today's card. But before we get to that, I must credit THIS PIN which inspired my card's layout. (Check out Lisa Addesa's blog post here.) Isn't Lisa's original beautiful, with its soft colors and clever use of negative space of the die cut? Perfect!

Well, I don't have a die or punch that would achieve the same effect, so I simply lifted the layout and made a holiday card instead. The snowflakes and hearts seemed the perfect accents for the sentiment, don't you think? You could play around with tiny stamps of all sorts to duplicate this lovely, versatile layout!

Now, as you might imagine, to gather that many small snowflake stamps, I had to raid several different sets. Having only one small acrylic block, it was a chore to switch out the tiny stamps over and over to get a good distribution of flakes, hearts, and dots. Keeping track of everything was a challenge, and when I finished the card, I realized that one of the tiniest snowflake stamps was missing.


I searched my craft table high and low, and was so agitated that my husband and older son came to help. All three of us were searching and searching and searching for this tiny, clear stamp.

Then, my younger son, Jack, who has autism and is particularly observant, walks down the stairs to find Nick digging through my trash, George on his hands and knees running hands over the carpet, and me sifting through piles of stamp sets on my desk.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Looking for a tiny stamp," I exclaimed in frustration.

He calmly asked, "What's that thing in your hair, Mom?"

The stamp. It was the stamp.

How it got trapped in my hair is a mystery, but bless Jack for finding it! Who knows where the thing would have ended up had it fallen out away from my craft area, never to be seen again?!?!

Mercy, grace, snowflakes, and hearts,

stamps: Hero Arts sentiment, various snowflakes
ink: Hero Arts pool, red royal, charcoal
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: rhinestones

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Today's card came about as a variation on these cards which was inspired by this card. I love the depth created by three shades of green:

In addition to the interest of the three shades of green, I popped up the left end of the banner with a dimensional but glued the right side directly to the card base. The punched leaf is then popped up to the same height as the left end of the banner.

The stamp is an old, old, old Hero Arts set called Real Leaves (which includes yesterday's sprig stamp as well). These cards are part of my "use your stamps to make birthday cards for Karen's Card Shop" challenge. I've mostly abandoned that challenge as I've made plenty of birthday cards AND as kind reader Marcia P. sent me a package full of gorgeous birthday cards as a donation to the shop. We are--for the time being--good with birthday cards. Thank you, Marcia, and thanks to all who have donated in the past.

Mercy, grace, peace, love, and gratitude,

stamps: Hero Arts (leaf), unknown sentiment
ink: Memento new sprout; Hero Arts green hills, green; Archival black
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: post-it notes for mask, dimensionals, leaf punch

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Little Sprig and Big Cups

Botanicals provide perfect subject matter for guy-ish birthday cards. Consider this little sprig, colored with markers, spritzed with water, and stamped without fuss or ornament. 

Isn't the little sprig delightful? Sometimes, small things carry big weight, and this was an idea I contemplated in Normandy.

Almost everything about Normandy impressed me, from the tiny flowers in the grass, to the giant castles we visited, to virtually every meal we ate, to the hard-working servers of those meals. With my crafter's eye, I soaked in French culture and atmosphere, paying attention to little things: the spray of color on stone from stained glass, the quick glimpse of a beautiful 18th century home through a break in a wall as we drove by, the pansies in a window box, the baa-ing of the goats at Point du Hoc, the perfection of a Nutella crepe or pain au chocolat, the swans floating in the moat at our hotel, a private home made from a German bunker. That last one proves you can turn a sow's ear into a silk purse.

And not least of all, I deeply appreciated the fact that not one of the French people laughed in my face when I asked them if they spoke English woman. Apparently, that final s on Anglais is silent. Who knew?

But one tiny thing didn't make me happy. 

Can you guess what that might be?

The French drink tiny cups of coffee. Perhaps the rest of the world drinks tiny cups of coffee as coffee-drinking experience is limited to the U.S. But I was all astonishment when I beheld the itty bitty cups of coffee in Normandy. 

Now, generally speaking, I understand that we Americans are vulgar in our need to super-size, houses, hair, steaks, sodas, etc. But how in the world would anyone find satisfaction in such a tiny cup of coffee? It's baffling to this thoroughly vulgar American coffee addict. 


While little cups of coffee don't compute for me, a little sprig on a birthday card makes total sense.  

Life is weird, isn't it? 

Or maybe it's just me.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love overflowing a very big cup,

stamps: Hero Arts, StampinUp
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Memento markers, water spritzer

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Forgotten Anniversary

Hello! It's good to be back, and I'm happy to report that the past two weeks have been full of fun, solemnity, adventure, and--not insignificantly--pain au chocolat. 

Our family went to Normandy. I'll be blogging more about the trip on my other blog later, but for now, here's photographic proof I was on a different continent.

Yes, that's me beaming with happiness in front of Mont St. Michel, which has been on my bucket list since I was 15.  I'm 50 now. Woohoo!!!

A few days after this photo was taken, we received a text from my husband's mom wishing us a happy anniversary. We had been so absorbed in our amazing adventure that we forgot our 31st anniversary. Neither of us cared. We had more important things to occupy our attention.

Things like pain au chocolat and William the Conqueror's extremely cool castle at Falaise. 

Today's card is in honor of our forgotten anniversary because 31 years is no small accomplishment. 

This card was inspired by a handful of cards on Pinterest that had sprays of flowers topped with a banner. I love the softness of the leaves and flowers combined with the crispness of the banner and all that glorious white space. 

*happy sigh*

And now I'm off to deal with a "mont" of laundry and to love on the dog, who seems to think that we might disappear again if she stops demanding to be petted. 

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Papertrey Embellished Elegance, Hero Arts sentiment
ink: various Hero Arts and Archival dye inks
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals

Friday, June 2, 2017

Flowers with Style...and a Blogging Break

Announcement: I am taking a Simplicity blogging break for about two weeks. While I'll miss posting here, I'm going to try to post on Questioning my Intelligence, the personal blog I've neglected far too long. I promise nothing, however, as living life will take priority over documenting it for the next few weeks. Honestly, the past months have been personally quite draining, and it's time to give myself a break and re-energize. Don't worry. Simplicity will be back!

And now for today's card.

I adore crisp, clean, stylized images...images like this stylized flower from Hero Arts.

Combine that crisp, clean image with fun colors and some bling, and you've got a simple winner!

Simple winners are the best winners, at least in my book.

Back in a few weeks.

Mercy, grace, peace, and love,

stamps: Hero Arts, Papertrey
ink: Archival and Hero Arts
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestones

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Peace Like a Seashell

An Odd Request: Would any readers who live in or have spent some time vacationing in Normandy, France, please send me a quick email? I have a few questions. susanraihala at roadrunner dot com

My Tuesday post of a shell card was copiously colorful, but today's shell card goes in a different direction: subtle and soft.

These beautiful shell stamps come from a VERY old Hero Arts wood-mounted set that I love immoderately. Each shell was stamped in a soft ink and cut out. Originally, I didn't include the starfish, but it seemed necessary to fill in a bit of space there at the bottom of the pile.

The shells at the back of the pile are glued to the card base at the bottom but popped up on the top edge to add dimension. The two bottom shells are attached with dimensionals only, and the starfish is glued to them and hanging off the edge.

I love the peace of this card, the subtlety, the calm.

That's very much unlike my Facebook feed at the moment. As several different extraordinarily dysfunctional conflicts swirl around my feed right now, I'm reminded of a wonderful motto I found on Pinterest.

Before posting a snarky, politicized, gossipy, angry, or fearful comment on social media, remember this: destructive conflict needs your participation to keep it going.

Post puppy or kitty or owl photos instead. Name something you are grateful for (my blog readers). Share a funny coffee saying ("In dog coffees, I've only had one"). Recommend a great book you just finished reading (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin). Put up an inspirational quotation or a delightful berry crisp recipe.

Feed what is positive in the world of social media; know when to be wise and say nothing. And then go to your seaside happy place in your mind, listen to a seashell, and feel the peace.

Mercy, grace, love, and mucho peace to you,

stamps: Hero Arts, StampinUp
ink: various dye inks
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: dimensionals, glue, CutterBee scissors