More Than Just Cards

The (very) soon-to-be-released Spark Kits have a decidedly card-related lean, but what else can you do with them? I’m so glad you asked!



With our blue-green combo I used the patterned card base to make a rather nifty origami shirt (all I added was a few sticky-backed pearls to serve as buttons). A couple more card bases, cut on the fold, were transformed into foldover tags embellished with the included sentiment stamps and stencil, the cut off corners and punches holes, and a bit of baker’s twine.

Finally, I glued 4 of the envelopes together into an accordion-fold book, slipped in some of the card fronts and made decorative tabs from pieces of one of the white cards included in the kit. I stamped a bunch of messages on the free envelope flap to act as a decorative flap. This sort of multi-pocket item works well for giving a variety of gift cards, sending a set of recipes to a friend, or even a spaced-out message–like a burma shave but without the moving vehicle!



Three card bases from our pink and brown combo got their ends folded and attached to make a colorful accordion-fold book, embellished with scraps from the other projects, some stamping, and some stenciling. Two of the card fronts glued back to back, cut, and folded into a pinwheel look very cute when attached to a pencil, but would also look just as cute attached to the front of a card, maybe with a brad to let it spin. And speaking of pencils, I used some of the sentiments stamps in the kit, a white card front, and the pink card front to make some flags that would also be perfectly at home on party straws.



The diamond-patterned paper of our red and grey kit inspired a very geometric mini-garland with the addition of some twine. A red card base was transformed into a sweet little pillow box complete with stamped tag, and the scraps from the garland were made into a very Mondrian-esque bookmark.

As soon as I get them edited there will be videos of all of these projects available on our YouTube channel, with more fun to come, to watch this space for updates! And, yes, the kits themselves will be available in 2 weeks! (Sooner if you’re a newsletter subscriber: go sign up for first dibs!)

What’s Your Flavor?

Not to be confused with Craig David’s “What’s Your Flava,” even if that’s what runs through my head every time I think about it.

Gotta love the Willy Wonka theme of that video, though, right?

The flavor I’m referring to is the options for the upcoming Spark Kits!

Choose one, two, or indulge in all three!

Choose one, two, or indulge in all three!

Unlike our deluxe Creative Mischief Kits, the Spark Kits are meant to be bite-sized bits of creative inspiration. They don’t focus on a particular technique (those this particular iteration leans more in the card-creating vein, though that’s not all you can do with it, I promise!), there’s no guided instructions, just some color-coordinated components that you can go wild with!

am waiting on one final component before they’re ready to go. After some trials, I thought it would be a good idea to include a stencil along with the sentiments stamps (and these sentiment stamps cover so many bases) but I couldn’t find one that would do what I wanted. So I created my own just for this kit and I’m just waiting for them to come in.

Next week we’ll go into what’s in the kit and a few of the possibilities contained in their compact packages. Until then, what flavor are you feeling?

Combining Colors

As I work on the Spark Kits that will be officially announced in a few weeks, I’ve been considering some different color combinations. I even went as far as laying out some color sets the other night, just to see what looked right.

Spark Kit color variations

Spark Kit color variations

For this first batch of Spark Kits I’m mostly starting with what I have in inventory from the CPR Kit extras with a few more things tossed in. That gives me 6 colors to work with, and I want two coordinating colors per kit.

Does anyone else remember how to figure out the number of possible combinations from math class? The image above is a big clue!

There are 15 possible combos that I could pick three of and be done. And while it’s as simple as deciding what looks best together, the reason WHY they look right or wrong is worth discussing.

Opposites Attract

In some cases it’s important to have colors that have a high amount of contrast between them. Think about your high school colors or your favorite sports teams’ insignia. Combinations like Black and Yellow/Gold, Red and White, Purple and Gold/Yellow, Blue and Orange, etc. are pretty common. Why? Because the different in the colors are easy to pick out on a football field or sign thanks to the high amount of contrast between them!

These colors are usually across from each other on the color wheel (white and black being the notable exceptions). And this practice of color matching goes all the way back to Medieval times. I mean, just think about how hard it would be to figure out which banner you were following or fighting against if the colors blended nicely on the flags and pennants. Contrast is in!

Kissing Colors

On the other hand, colors opposite each other, when mixed in a liquid form, often make murky browns and greens, eventually edging towards black.

Remember that black is the combination and culmination of all colors and this starts to make sense. If the primary colors are red, blue, and yellow and you’ve picked contrasting colors purple and yellow for your work, the red and blue that make up the purple, when combined with yellow, are a recipe for black (but usually comes out brown because of pigment strength, binders, and other stuff).

To avoid this, you want to use analogous colors, or those that are next to each other on the color wheel. With primary colors you’ll end up with a pretty secondary color where they meet (like the red and blue making purple), or if you’re working with a fuller spectrum, you can get various shades between when you pick, say, red and purple as your colors.

Shades of Grey

Of course, just because red and blue are next to each other on the primary color wheel doesn’t mean that all versions of red and blue will look right together. That’s where white and black (or light and shadow) come in. The value of a color (that’s how bright or dark it is, not it’s monetary cost) affects whether it will look right with another color.

Glancing back up to the sample picture, look at the red and pink cardstocks together. Now we know that red and pink are pretty close together on the color spectrum, but these two don’t look quite right, do they? That’s because the pink is a full-on vibrant pop of pink with a lot of white mixed in while the red is a deeper, darker version with a good dose of black mixed in. They have distinct value differences, and while they could be pulled together if done very carefully, they’re not necessarily a good match as is.

So the next time you start to pull colors down off the shelf, consider not just what effect you’re going for, and what medium you’re using to get there. There are exceptions to everything, and ways to make even the most contentious color combinations work together with some choice additions of white or black, but a few moments spent considering your options will help your colors make a love match!

More Than Just A Snowflake

Hey guys!

Two weeks ago I did a Periscope version of a Mid-Week Create Break (MWCB).

What’s a MWCB? Well, back when I lived in Tallahassee I’d invite some crafty friends over on Wednesday evenings, put out snacks and beverages, pop in a movie, and my friends would bring whatever project they wanted to work on and we’d hang out and craft. It was a lot of fun and I miss it. It’s just not feasible for my Tallahassee friends to come up to Thomasville on a weeknight and I haven’t met many folks up here, yet. In time, I’m sure I’ll be able to restart it here, but until then I’ve decided to try a virtual version.

Which leads us back to the Periscope.

An old cake decorating colleague had this rule where, if she was going to buy a specialty pan or tool, she had to come up with as many uses for it as there were dollars in the price to fully justify the purchase. It’s a good rule, or at least a guideline if you’re waffling over an upcoming purchase. Since the stencil in our Winter Whimsy kit retails for $6.99 and the snowflake use is built-in, my goal was 6 more ways to use it.

The stencil in question...

The stencil in question…

I spent 45 minutes coming up with non-snowflake-y things to do with the stencil in the Winter Whimsy kit and the materials leftover from the 20 cards I’d already made with the kit. If you’d like to watch it, you can see it on Katch (though I warn you, the audio and video aren’t syncing worth a damn).

The funny thing is (to me, at least) that the one idea I had for sure about the stencil turned out not to work at all. But I did manage to come up with 6 more designs that could be accomplished with the stencil that weren’t winter-centric.

Then, after the Periscope was finished, I set about figuring out what I could turn those uses into.

"Leftovers" remade into new and fun things!

“Leftovers” remade into new and fun things!

So far I’ve turned the little diamond shapes into mini to-do lists which I turned into a pocket weekly planner. I want to revise one thing about it and then I’ll post an actual project for it because I think it’s pretty doggone nifty!

Then I used the snowflake “arm” that I stacked and stamped into evergreens along with the random dot pattern (created by ignoring the snowflakes and just inking the filler dots on the stencil) to make the night sky card front. The border is made of nesting frames cut out of the striped pattern paper (on the back of the snowflake paper) with the middle frame rotated a half turn to turn the stripes into chevrons.

The smaller snowflakes were a cinch to turn into flowers embossed onto vellum, and some of the more spindly snowflake “arms” made good filler. With a strip of that and a little bit of all the leftover papers I made a bookmark with window and flowerbox.

Finally, I decided one of the snowflake patterns reminded me of jacks–as in the kids game–so went with that for a simple top-fold card.

There’s one last use that I haven’t decided what to do with–the accidental gears I discovered from the tiny starbursts. I’ll come up with something, I’m sure!

I certainly had fun coming up with items from the “leftovers” in the kit, and I hope this encourages you to take another look at your tools to see what else you can make with them. It’s creative “problem” solving at it’s funnest!

I’ll be giving the Periscope MWCB another go tomorrow night. You’ll find me at 9pm EDT @thecraftybrach. I hope you’ll join me!

3 Art Journaling Archetypes

So last week, when I showed you the small art journal spread in the BOUND lay-flat album, it got my mind spinning a bit more on the subject of art journals in general. I’d brainstormed a bit about creating an art journaling kit but, wow, did that get pretty massive pretty quickly!

See, there’s just so much that can be used in art journaling–it’s pretty much anything goes out there–and a lot of different ways to approach an art journal. The more I thought about it, I realized most art journals fall into one of three categories.

And it’s totally possible to straddle two types or find yourself somewhere in the middle doing all three–that’s where I am, after all, and all the examples in this post are from my own journals going back 10 years. Here, take a look at this to get a better idea of what I mean…

3 Art Journal Archetypes

The Artist

Embossing Foam Tape Experiment, ~2012

Embossing Foam Tape Experiment, ~2012

This is probably what most people think of when they hear the words art journal, and The Artist isn’t going to disabuse anyone of that notion. Artists journal their way through sketchbooks and hand-bound books of various make-ups. Words are not quite as important in an Artist’s art journal, often their journal chronicles a journey of artistic growth and new techniques and products.

In the journal page, above, I had tried my hand at embossing foam tape. The embossing went well, the removing it from the temporary backing not so much… I ended up with bits and pieces instead of pretty strips. Still, they reminded me of building profiles, so I went with it. This is the sort of thing you’ll find in a technique-focused journal of an Artist.

Artists edge over into Alterers when they incorporate mainstream scrapbooking and card making products into their spreads. Jennifer Engle (MixedMediaJenn on YouTube) shows this particularly well in her “Strength” page. When the techniques become background for lengthy journal entries they fall more into the Illuminator arena.

Artists are drawn to kits like Print Your heART Out for the tools and techniques.

The Journalist

Draining, 2006

Draining, 2006

Focusing on the journal-half of the title, The Journalist puts the words first, recording thoughts and feelings on a sparsely embellished page. Moleskines and blank books are the foundation for a Journalist’s art journal, but the writing instrument can range anywhere from a fountain pen to a Sharpie. Images, when included, will be small sketches or maybe a word drawn in ornate letterforms.

“Draining,” above, is one of my earliest official art journal pages. It was part of an online workshop I took and the prompt for that week was, I believe, the word drain. For an artist I tend to be pretty literal (at least at first glance) and ran with the imagery of thoughts dripping down a drain. And when I pulled out this book to take the picture I was delighted to see there were a lot of blank pages yet to be filled!

No Regrets, ~2013

No Regrets, ~2013

When the journaling shares equal space and time with painted techniques and drawings, but is still the focus of the page or spread, that’s when the Journalist becomes an Illuminator (so called for the Medieval illuminated manuscripts which could be quite ornate). A modern-day example of the Illuminator might be Kara, aka BohoBerry. I don’t think she considers herself an art journaler, but if you watch her Bullet Journal Flip Through I think the case could easily be made!

If the Journalist tends towards stamped images or added paper elements, they fall into the crossover category of the Diarist. You know who might be considered a Diarist? The planner community that has emerged over the last few years that incorporate stickers, stamps, and decorative lettering into their planners.  

The coptic-stitched book in our BOUND & Determined kit is the stuff of Journalists’ dreams with its leather cover and toothy paper.

The Crafter


But First; 2015

Finally, The Crafter is the category of art journal I was most surprised to find crop up over the last few years. As art journaling has become more mainstream (not a bad thing, it means more people have access to it and are exploring it), the scrapbookers and card makers of the world have put their own spin on it. Like the Artists, the Crafters focus more on skills but these tend to use more stamps and patterned papers than paints and media.

One artist of this sort that I stumbled upon was Vicki Popaiannou of Her “Take life one cup at a time” spread is a good example of the Crafter aesthetic, and inspired my “But First” layout, above, as I tried out her background technique. Now, I’d say my layout veers over into Alterer territory rather than being strict Crafter, but it definitely has Crafter elements to it. If I’d included some journaling about favorite wines or a recent wine tasting, it might be more of a Diarist-style spread.

Another example of the Crafter style is Nichol Magouirk and her Paper Doll Art Journal project.

Crafters are naturally drawn to the patterned papers, stencils, and stamp pads in our Winter Whimsy and Classic Christmas CPR Kits.

Meeting in the Middle

Of course, in the middle is where I most often find myself: The Eclectic. As you can see from the images above, I’ve spent time in all the various realms of art journaling over the last decade and range all over the styles and hallmarks of each archetype. It hasn’t been a constant pursuit–some art journalists are very committed to the form, working on a weekly or monthly page as part of their regular art practice–but it’s nice to know a blank page is waiting for me whenever I need to work something out.

I tend to use words even in my non-journal art, so my personal feeling is that an art journal isn’t complete without at least a single word somewhere on the page. A strict Arist-journaler might disagree, a Journalist would consider that not nearly enough, and a Crafter would want a nice stamped sentiment. That’s totally fine. There’s room for everyone.

What do you think of the archetypes I’ve identified? Do you see yourself anywhere on this spectrum? If so, where, and if not, what have I left out?