Monday, November 17, 2008

Snowy Topiaries: LPS Challenge (& a LONG sponging-blender-pen tut)

This card is for an LPS challenge set by my ultra talented DT member Ely, to make a card using at least 2 Little Paper Shop sets, some kinda colouring, & some glitter. I've used {Topiary} & the snowflake from {Global} (Hardly counts as two sets maybe, but I have a lot of colouring to try and make up for it, hehehe.) The glitter is my favourite Sakura Stardust pen.

You can play along with Ely's challenge too if ya wanna & check out what the rest of the LPS DT peeps made by clicking on the thumbnails in the side bar over there --->

The design of this was inspired by this stunning Zindorf classic. So...this tutorial is about getting a Zindorf-esque look by masking and sponging ...and doin' the details with a blender pen. I'm afraid of brayering and only a wee bit less afraid of sponging, but I love the look that Michelle gets... so, I thought I'd see if I could come up with some ways to make sponging easier & get a version of her style.

This is a looonnnng tutorial (30 photos! Squeek!) but if any of you share my phobia of the technique maybe these tricks will help. :O) The thing that seemed to make the biggest difference was using a slightly damp sponge...

Part A) Prep stuff & the stamped image

Step 1)
Wet the sponge
(this is a piece cut out of a Stampin' Up! sponge)

Step 2) Wring it out like crazy! (I also wrung it out in a cloth to make sure that almost every bit of the water was out. If you have too much water on your sponge to start with your paper might curl.)

Step 3) Put some reinker in some kind of dish (you can line it with saran or tinfoil if ya like. This is Soft Sky reinker, sorry retired I know but I hadda use it.)

Step 4) Emboss the image.
I love that acrylic stamps make lining up two of one image easy-peasy. (This is the {Topiary} stamp from Little Paper Shop embossed with Encore metallic ink & silver ep. The paper is homemade...printed out scans of vintage Dictionary definitions: "Merry" & "Christmas") If you'd like it, just lemme know.

Some papers may be easier to work on than others.

Step 5) Step Tear the tops of Sticky notes (leaving some of the sticky intact) & adhere them to your image. Rub it down well so it's nice & sealed on there.

Part B) Sponging...Get inky wid it:

Step 1)
Dip the sponge into the dish of reinker

Step 2) Load the sponge off into a dish or onto tinfoil or somethin' (This saves wasting ink & gets the sponge more workable.)

Step 3) Using a scrap of paper, work some more of the ink off of the sponge off (I like to do circles. This keeps blobs of ink from ruining the smooth look of your stamped piece. It also lets you test the technique a little to see if you like the look it's giving ya) :O)

Part 4) Sponge on the ink. I like to work in circles...avoiding the edges of the image (in this case the pots) No worries about a white edge around the pots because the next steps with a blender pen

Of course, you can use two or more colours and use more ink for a bolder look.

Part C) Fine tune the sponging:

Step 1)
Load a blender pen with the same colour of reinker that you used before

Step 2)
Test the blender pen out on scrap paper, and take some of the ink off. (Better too little than too much, right? You can layer it for a natural blend with the sponging...)

Step 3)
Use the loaded blender pen to deepen the horizon line & detail around the pots.
Add more ink if you think it needs it

Step 4) Remove the sticky notes. That part is so fun! (If you have any spots where the colour bled out, you can touch it up with the blender pen.)

Part D) Colour the image

Step 1) Colour the leaves with light green (This is Certain Celery marker from SU)

Step 2) Colour areas with medium green. (This is an SU Mellow Moss marker. I added it mostly on the outsides of the topiary balls and to the bottom right of them to create shadows.)

Step 3) Shade the leaves more with a dark green (This is a marker from CTMH called New England Ivy)

Step 4) Add deep shadows to the leaves with black marker

Step 5) Colour the pots and add shadows. I used these colours (working from light to dark & blending with a Copic colourless blender): CTMH Desert Sand on a blender pen (weakly), Desert Sand full strength, CTMH Chocolate on a blender pen & then full strength, Copic Marker Putty YG91 to blend. A bit of black marker on the Putty to make deeper sections of shadow.

Part E) Make it Snow:

Step 1) Add white marker from CTMH to the ground. (I also added bits of Copic marker Frost Blue (B00) with white on top of it.)

Step 2) Add white marker to the topiaries & pots

Step 3)
Brighten the snow with White Inkssentials pen on the topiaries, pots, & ground

Step 4) Rub on an embossing buddy (When the Inkssentials is dry)

Step 5) Stamp & Emboss some snowflakes (this one is from the {Global} set. I stamped it lightly in white ink & embossed with clear embossing powder.) The wee snowflakes are from Happy Winter (retired SU)

Part F) Add Berries:

I stitched mine on with wee knots 'cause I find it so meditative and cutsie to look at, but you could use Stickles or sumthin' else. :O)

Piercing holes.
You can use a paper piercer, of course, but you can also use a needle or pin for smaller holes.

You can see from the back where the holes are, which makes sewing easy.

To sew the berries I just did this schtuff:

  1. Pierced the holes
  2. Threaded three strands of embroidery floss.
  3. Adhered the end of the thread to the back with good double-sided tape.
  4. Tied a single knot in the front & went back down the same hole.

Part G) Some finishin' touches:

The "Joy" sentiment:
  1. Stamp j-o-y (This is Euphoria Alphabet & Numbers [retired SU] in versamark, embossed with clear e.p.)
  2. Punch with a small square punch (SU)
  3. Stick on a scrap of the printed Christmas script cardstock
  4. Add a shadow to the letters with Putty with Copic Marker (Putty YG9)
  5. Glitter around them with a stardust pen
  6. Cover the letters in Crystal Lacquer
(I drew that little birdy because I don't have that cardinal stamp, but had to have a cardinal. He's coloured in with copics and is named Charles the 2nd after my Sweetie & this lil' guy, hehehe.)

Add Stardust Glitter pen details to the trees & snowflakes & the ground

Next time, I'm gonna try and be brave & use more bold Zindorfian colours! :O)
Hope your stamping is bright and blissful!

P.S. The Winter Wonderland characters are back in a mini set! You can find 'em here & they have new buddies too!


Unknown said...

WOW This is fabulous Mel x

Unknown said...

Mel, this is the softness of the snow and sky, and the newsprint behind it makes me feel like I just found a newspaper on a park bench on the first day of snow on a calm morning with a sweet bird friend to share it with... Ya, I got all that from your card! ;o)

Cathrine StClair said...

This is a wonderful card Mel! Love the newsprint. And Charles II!

Etha said...

oh this is too pretty! love all the step by steps! I'm not too fond of brayering, but once I accept the way it looks when *I* do it, its ok LOL...
Sponging is great! much fun. Love that cardinal on your card, so cool! and of course stitching :)

AnnMarie said...

Awesome little cardinal! This card is stunning! Really great tutorial too! Your work shoes that every bit of your heart goes into every project! Love this!

Anonymous said...

WOW, this is fabulous!! I would love to get the Christmas scan. I'll send you an email because I have a new address. I noticed that was posted at 1:05, be sure to take care of yourself and get enough sleep! I looks like it would be fabulous behind gesso. Did you gesso before you sponged?
You have to try brayering!! It's really alot of fun once you get the hang of it. I started by just taking Michael's cardstock (because it's so cheap I use it for templates or a first try of something so I don't waste my real paper) I would just take a blank piece of paper and brayer, brayer, brayer. The trick is as Michelle says, lots of ink and just keep rolling. Don't do one roll and stop because then you get a line. You must keep rolling back and forth until it seems like the ink is gone off your brayer. Here's a tutorial in the comment section, opps sorry.
Just wanted to gush over another fabulous card. I want to do some card sets as Christmas gifts this year and this is fabulous inspiration! TFS!!
Beth Greco

Anonymous said...

So pretty! You have a way of mixing such different techniques and making it look easy. And I love that you have used the topiary before!

I have to get that stamp :)

Tee McNeil Art said...

Wonderful! Not too many pictures at all! Please do post the scans of the pages, I'm sure we can come up with something that we need them for. Not like this... but something!


Danielle said...

Wow Mel - your attention to detail is just amazing! And then you floored me when you said you 'just drew the cardinal' 'cos you don't have a stamp!!!! You're amazing girl!

Elena said...

Wow! Mel! This is so beautiful! Love the background technique you showed! Berries are so cute! And your drawing is fantastic! Wow! You are super talented!

Julie Campbell said...

Alright. I think it's final. You are officially my favorite blogger! :) LOVE all of your details!!! You're so innovative! Thanks for sharing!!!

Jessica Diedrich said...

ok, seriously, this is like, the coolest. I don't know how you come up w/ thist stuff but I'm thankful that you do! AND you share such great details/how to's...ROCK ON, MEL!

Lisa M. (aka. Lisa @ Farm Fresh) said...

Good grief! And I thought I take forever on a card! If I attempted to recreate this I would be working on the card for 24 hours! LOL! You did a fabulous job have more talent in your little pinkyNAIL then I do in my whole body!
Great job!

Susan said...

MEL---you totally amaze me! When do you sleep?? I LUV the b.g. of the vintage Xmas sayings...any share where one can get this, as I have no access, at present. I've looked up-side-down (in this home) & nothing. Agai, THX> 100 times over!! (your Canadian friend)

Carol P said...

One of my favorites. Of course, every new one is my new favorite :) !

I'm working on QUANTITY. Yesterday I think I cut out about 700,000 tree parts.

Extreme Cards and Papercrafting

Barb said...

This is gorgeous... love the subtle coloring w/ the POP of red! Everything about it is just great... thanks so much for the tutorial!

Sue from Oregon said...

How could you part with this baby? Beautiful...enjoyed the step by step...I bet this is totally stunning IRL too!

Life Is A Journey said...

Wowza!! You should frame that one and put it up for the season! Thanks for the great tutorial too. Can't wait to try something like this myself. I've been afraid of the brayerd sky but this is very do-able. Thanks!

Kim Etherington said...

Wow, this card is stunning. I love your snowy topiary trees. Gorgeous!

Lorraine said...

Wow Mel just love the card you do inspire me to be more creative. Super lady.

Suzanne C said...

WoW! Love the paper in the background. Now I don't feel so bad about the time I take to do my detail. I can see the effort you put into this fabulous card!

Curt in Indy said...

Mouth hanging open once again! You are so amazing! If you don't do a book, someone ought to kick ya! The comment I wrote about you on my latest post (before I saw this post by the way) is so appropriate! LOL This is awesome! Best, Curt

mudmaven said...

This is so totally awesome! I can't believe you come up with these marvelous tutorials day after day - it's mind boggling! Thanks so much. Where do you find your newsprint, I'd love to be able to make up my own paper! Cool! Thanks again for all that you share and teach the rest of us! ~chris

katemade designs said...

Oh how wonderful is this. You are too cool for school but glad you took on the role of teacher. What a beautiful card. Thanks

Bonnie said...

WOW! Love it Mel! I love how you are tearing up the dictionary lately - or something like that!

Ferah said...

Your tutorials are always excellent, and this on is spectacular! Thank you so much for sharing your talent. I can't wait to try this! Whoo hooo! :)

Janine said...

Holy Hana woman!! Thanks for that!!
Beautiful card!!

Inga's Notepad said...

Mel, your projects are phenomenal! After looking at your work, I feel the energy to try something new.

Thanks for all the great ideas to kick up a notch on the holiday cards this year.

When the opportunity arises, I'd love a copy of your Merry Christmas definition paper.

Cute stuff!

Anonymous said...

Hey Mel, your blog is AMAZING! Love the Detailed tutorials, the very creative projects and your humor! (I'm addicted, must tune in daily...)

Keep up the GREAT work.

PS, I'd LOVE to have your Homemade Christmas scan paper... would you e-mail or post it?


Sheila said...

Well shame on you for posting a picture of my Christmas card before you even sent it!!!
This is a seriously beautiful card and I love the topiary stamp.

Donna Baker said...


Tonniece said...

Love that background paper Mel. The topiaries are so beautiful, I can't seem to get them right, and the snowflakes, berries, and your cute little birdie are the perfect touch.

Shirley said...

Vintage Winter lovely! I love the aged look, the snow on the Topiaries and that cute cardinal too!

Anonymous said...


Merry said...

This is such a fantastic card and tutorial. Love the idea of scanning the Christmas section of the dictionary. So glad I stumbled on this post.