Hi Crafty Friends and AECP Co-ordinators!
Now that I have successfully completed all ten classes for Level 1, all that remained was to complete the Final Challenge which I just finished today! The details for the Final Challenge are as follows and I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s quite a comprehensive challenge this year!
- Create a His and Hers Card Set
- Each card (with various sentiments) can vary a little bit, but it should have a similar and cohesive theme as the rest of the set.
- Each set should consist of 4-6 cards
- Use one recycled element on a set or its packaging
- Design the gift packaging – be creative!
- Select ANY three components from the classes in Level 1
- Explain the three components that you have chosen for the project
- Share design tips (if any)
- Challenge blog post: Detailed step-by-step
- Photo tutorial and/or YouTube video
- Minimum of 10 photos (close-up and process)
- DUE DATE: Submit to the AECP by 25th October
Before we get into the tutorial, let me just say that this is a long post and contains a lot of photos, however the photos are optimised and I have added hypertext anchor links so you can jump to the relevant sections if needed. Any design tips can be found in the captions under the photos and are highlighted with the word TIP at the beginning of the caption.
First Steps – Classes and Techniques | Choose Stamps and Dies | Draw Up a Plan | Cardstock Selection
Ink Blended Backgrounds & Stamping & Splatters – Colour Selection | Background Stamping | Ink Blending | Faux Watercolouring | Adding Some Splatters
Die Cutting Part I
Heat Embossing and Card Bases – Heat Embossing | Card Base Selection
Die Cutting Part II – Eclipse Effect
Close-ups of Individual Cards
Gift Packaging – Recycled Elements | Box Design | Design and Decoration | Making the Window Lid | Box Assembly and Finishing Touches
The first thing I needed was a plan! Sometimes when I make cards, I wing it, sometimes I make a sketch and sometimes I have an idea in my head that I work through. For this challenge though, I needed more than that, since there were so many cards to be made and with specific criteria, I didn’t want to forget anything or miss out an important component from one of my chosen classes!
Classes and Techniques
The first step was to decide which components from which classes I wanted to focus on. This was quite difficult, as I enjoyed all the classes (even the couple that I didn’t expect to) and there are a lot of techniques available in all the classes, so it was hard to narrow it down to just three. After a lot of deliberating, I decided on the following classes and techniques:
Easy Ink Blending Techniques – ink blending with faux watercolouring
Easy Die Cutting Techniques – inlaid die cutting/eclipse technique
Let It Shine – adding something metallic
Choose Stamps and Dies
As I knew I would be die cutting, I focused on selecting the dies first. I have some of the Mega Greetings sets so I pulled out the dies I have from those sets – Mega Hello, Mega Thanks and Mega You – and put them in the pile. Then I added the Happy script die from the Scripty Words 2 die set which gave me four word dies. I needed two more words for my card set, so I decided to use my favourite Bold Alphabet die set to make the final two words – HUGS and LOVE.
To make the cards look more cohesive I wanted to stick to just one stamp set if possible for both sets of cards, and I didn’t want to use a floral set because I wanted them to work for both feminine and masculine cards, so I chose the Leaf Canopy stamp set. This stamp set has an outline stamp that I thought would be good for colouring. For the sentiments that will be used with the die cut words, I selected the Mega Greetings 1 and 2 stamp sets, as they have all the words I need to match up with my die cut words and the font is the same on all of them so that will help with consistency.
Draw Up a Plan
I took a piece of paper and drew a line down the middle, then drew five horizontal lines dividing the page into 12 blocks – two columns of six. The left hand column for the masculine cards and the right hand column for the feminine cards. Then I wrote the name of each of the six die cut words I planned to use, once on the male and once on the female side. After that, I went through the Mega Greetings stamps and chose the sentiments I wanted to match up with the die cut words and wrote them all on the chart. This will help me to stay on track and remember which dies go with which stamped sentiments etc, so that I don’t stamp the wrong one on the wrong card!
Normally I make quite big cards ie not the standard American size of 5.5 x 4.25 inch, but for this challenge I decided to make the American “A2” size because I was making so many cards and I had to make some kind of gift packaging for them, so it made sense to stick to the smaller card size.
Initially I planned to use cold press watercolour paper for my backgrounds because it holds a lot of water and I always get good results when ink blending on it. However, I realised very quickly that there were two problems with this – firstly, the watercolour paper I have is A4 size since it was bought here in the UK. A4 is similar to Letter size but slightly longer and less wide, so I would only be able to cut 2 x 5.5 x 4.25 inch card panels from one sheet, therefore it would require six sheets of this paper to cut my 12 card panels. That seemed very wasteful as there would be odd bits of paper left over that would not be very useful. Secondly, this paper is 300gsm, so 12 card panels made of this paper, plus 12 card bases, plus 12 envelopes, would be quite heavy, which is something to consider should this be a gift that had to be posted, plus thicker cards would require a larger box and if I planned to make the box out of standard size card, it might not be big enough!
Luckily I had only cut 2 panels when I started to realise this could be a problem, so I quickly switched to Ranger Mixed Media cardstock which is US Letter size, and I could get 4 card panels from one sheet, therefore only using three sheets of this cardstock. It is also designed to use with various media including watercolour so I knew it would be up to the job!
Ink Blended Backgrounds & Stamping & Splatters
Now that I had my multi media cardstock cut down into 12 panels, I selected what colours I wanted to use for male and female cards. I chose to use Distress Inks for this because of how well they blend, how they react with water and because I have all 60 colours so out of all my inks, they offered the widest choice. Also they are used in some of the techniques in the Easy Ink Blending Class. I opted for greens and blues for the male set and pinks and purples for the female set but I wanted to use one colour in common for both sets to link them together and that colour was Blueprint Sketch as it could work well with the greens and with the purples. The final colour selection and blending order was:
Twisted Citron – male
Cracked Pistachio – male
Peacock Feathers – male
Blueprint Sketch – male/female
Wilted Violet – female
Seedless Preserves – female
Picked Raspberry – female
I tested out the colour blended on a sample card first to make sure all the colours looked good together and blended well.
I used my Tim Holtz Stamp Platform for stamping the leaves. I have a piece of template plastic with a 0.5 cm grid that I cut to size and keep inside the stamp platform. It’s very useful for lining up stamps and keeping sentiments straight but it’s also handy for positioning cards and envelopes if you don’t want them aligned in the corner or sides as was the case this time. Because my card is small and the stamps are quite large, I wanted plenty of space to position the stamps so they would hang off the edge of the card. In order to do that, the card had to be placed somewhere near the middle of the platform and so I used the grid to mark the position so I could stamp all 12 cards in the same place. I positioned the two outline stamps in the first position and started to stamp all the panels.
For the masculine cards, I chose a brown ink – Versafine Clair in Acorn – as I thought it would look nice with the greens/blues, and for the feminine cards, I chose a black ink – Versafine Clair in Nocturne as that would look like with the pinks/purples. I stamped all the brown/masculine panels first, then switched to the black ink and stamped all the feminine panels. Then I cleaned my stamps and re-positioned the larger leaf stamp on the right hand side of the panel, and repeated my brown and black stamping. This gave me three leaf stamps along the bottom of each of my panels.
Then I started with the Distress Ink Blending, starting with the masculine cards and moving from the lightest colour (Twisted Citron) through to the darkest colour (Blueprint Sketch). Since I had six cards, I wanted to vary the ink blending on each one to make them a little different from each other, so as you will see from the photos, no two cards have the exact same blending. Then I moved to the feminine cards and repeated the same process. I used one of these make up brushes for the ink blending and they do a wonderfully smooth job!
The ink blending for each card is as follows:
Masculine: 1. Twisted Citron/Cracked Pistachio 2. Cracked Pistachio/Peacock Feathers 3. Peacock Feathers/Blueprint Sketch 4. Twisted Citron/Cracked Pistachio/Peacock Feathers/Blueprint Sketch 5. Blueprint Sketch/Peacock Feathers/Cracked Pistachio/Twisted Citron (reverse order of 4.) 6. Blend of all seven colours from Twisted Citron to Picked Raspberry diagonally across panel
Feminine: 1. Picked Raspberry/Seedless Preserves 2. Seedless Preserves/Wilted Violet 3. Wilted Violet/Blueprint Sketch 4. Picked Raspberry/Seedless Preserves/Wilted Violet/Blueprint Sketch 5. Blueprint Sketch/Wilted Violet/Seedless Preserves/Picked Raspberry (reverse order of 4.) 6. Blend of all seven colour from Picked Raspberry to Twisted Citron diagonally across panel
After blending, I spritzed some water on each background using my Distress Sprayer and then blotted the water off with some paper towel to lift off the ink and add more interest to the background (see photo below).
Once my backgrounds were all dry, I started watercolouring the leaves using the same Distress Inks again. This time, I pressed the ink pads onto my glass Media Mat, and added some water to them, and painted the individual leaves using the WOD (wet on dry) technique.
This is my favourite way to paint projects like this as it allows you to control the water and stop it from spreading to other areas where you don’t want it to do.
As my backgrounds were blended like a gradient effect, I painted the leaves using the same colours used in each part of the gradient background eg if the leaf was in the Blueprint Sketch part of the background, I painted the leaf using Blueprint Sketch and so on. As there were 12 cards and 7 inks to use, this process took some time, but it was very enjoyable time and I find this kind of work very relaxing.
Adding Some Splatters
I had left the backgrounds to dry for a little while and when I came back to check on them, I decided I wanted to add some paint splatters. I again used my sample card first to see how they would look – just in case I didn’t like it – instead of ruining one of my card panels. Quite often I like to add black and white splatters to my cards but as the Distress backgrounds already had a light splatter effect thanks to the water spritzing, I decided not to add white paint, and to only add the black.
As I wanted some variation and also another way of adding some shine, I chose Black Acrylic paint for half the cards and a light metallic gold paint for the other half. I added the black paint to an acrylic block with a little water, and used a paintbrush to flick it onto the cards.
Then I repeated the process with the gold metallic paint and left everything to dry, and that was the end of day one!
Die Cutting I
Day two, and it was now time for the die cutting but first, I used a paper distresser and some archival ink to distress the edges of the card panels – I used Distress Archival in Black Soot for the feminine cards to match the black stamping and Ground Espresso on the masculine cards to match the brown stamping.
Then I laid out all the card panels and played around with the placement of the dies until I was happy with it. To mix it up a little bit, I changed the orientation of card designs in each set, so two of the cards will have the leaves at the bottom of the card, two will have the leaves at the top of the card and two will be in portrait format with the leaves running vertically down the side. Both card sets will be the same in that regard, and will use the same sentiments.
To die cut the word dies is quite easy since they are one joined up word rather than individual letters that need to be arranged, so it was just a matter of placing them on the card panels, making sure to leave enough room for the stamped sentiments to go. However if you are using individual letter dies, they are a little trickier to use as they must be lined up – unless you want a wonky effect on purpose!
I used washi tape to hold them in place for die cutting – just a small piece was needed to hold the word dies, but the letter dies need to be held together as a word to keep them straight.
By the way, Altenew has some amazing washi tapes that are too beautiful to be used in this way, so I keep them for use on my projects rather than a tool. You can see an example of a card using some of this washi tape here.
I used the grid pattern on my glass mat and a T-Ruler to position the dies on each card – this was especially important as I wanted the corresponding cards in each set to be the same and the dies to be in the same position on each.
This would also make sure that there was enough space to stamp the accompanying sentiment.
Heat Embossing and Card Bases
As half of the cards have black splatters and half have gold splatters I did plan to just use that as my shiny element as the black acrylic paint splatters also have some sheen to them, but I felt that this was not enough shine to count as an element from the Let It Shine class, and it would only take one extra step to heat emboss the sentiments instead of just stamping them. I chose two embossing powders – Black Glint to emboss on the cards that had gold splatters, and Gold Rush to emboss on the cards that had black splatters. That way, all of the cards would end up having both black and gold elements on them whilst still being slightly different from each other.
It’s really important to dust your card with cornflour like I do, or something like an embossing buddy, before you start stamping with embossing ink and sprinkling embossing powder on, as it will really help to prevent it sticking in places where you don’t want it.
I did all the sentiment stamping and heat embossing after die cutting the panel, so that I knew exactly where I wanted the sentiments to be since I could use the negative space on the cards to line them up. I also wanted to do it at this point before I added the card bases and the stacked diecuts, just in case I made a mistake so it would be less to fix. It would also be easier to stamp without the stacked diecuts in the way, and since I was using my Tim Holtz Stamp Platform, it would be impossible to stamp with the stacked diecuts in place!
I chose Gina K Key Lime and Charcoal Brown cardstock for the masculine cards and Wild Lilac and Onyx Black for the feminine cards and cut them all to size ready for the panels. I glued all the card panels on to the card bases after deciding which panels looked best with each colour in each set of cards.
Die Cutting II
As I was planning to use the inlaid die cutting technique known as eclipse or pop-up die cutting, I also needed to cut more copies of the words and letters that I had cut from my card panels. These are stacked on top of each other to make a chipboard-type thick letter to be glued onto the cards in the negative spaces left from the die cutting, and then my patterned diecut words and letters would be glued on top to create the eclipse effect. This is a technique that I love and you can see another example here, however I don’t usually make 12 eclipse cards at a time so this was quite a lot of die cutting!
I used scrap cardstock in the same colours I had chosen for my card bases as I thought that would look cool as though what you were seeing was the card base peeking through from underneath. Since I was using cardstock, I cut each word and letter three times.
Once all the words and letters were die cut, I layered each one on top of the others to make the thick chipboard-like pieces.
Now I had all my pieces collected it was time for assembly. I glued the stacked die cuts into the negative spaces in the card panels.
I took the die cuts that were cut from the card panels and still stored safely in the box, and adhered them on top of the stacked die cuts
Then I added all the little negative pieces from the middle of the letters, making sure to put the right pieces back in the right places.
I used the same leaf canopy stamps to stamp on the front of two of the envelopes, using a mask to protect the area where the address would go. I stamped a single leaf spray on the back of two of the envelopes and then I used the Mega Hello and Mega Thanks stamps to stamp on the remaining two envelopes for the feminine set
I decided to leave the envelopes for the masculine set plain white with no additional stamping. I talked to some male friends about this and the feedback I got confirmed that I should leave them unadorned.
Close-ups of individual cards
The final element for this challenge was to create some gift packaging for both sets of cards. Part of the challenge was also to use a recycled element either on the cards or the packaging so I chose to use it on the packaging.
I save some craft packaging and items like these cereals boxes to use in my projects since they are made of a good thickness of cardboard and can be used for all sorts of purposes so long as they don’t need to be archival quality. Since my cards are all made with archival quality products, I chose to use the recycled elements on the gift packaging instead.
The type of box I made was a two-part box with a base with a window lid. First step was to work out the measurements for the box which is based on the the card size and the thickness of all six cards and envelopes together. I took the measurements in centimetres as I usually work in metric and the measurements were 16.5cm x 20cm x 2.5cm.
To make the bases, cut the cereal cardboard down to size, adding the 2.5cm depth allowance to all sides, To make the lids, add 1mm to the above measurements and cut two of them. This allows the lids to fit snugly over the bases.
I used a scoreboard tool to score the cardboard at 2.5cm on all four sides and then carefully cut once on each side so the box sides can be folded up and secured.
Design and Decoration
But first I needed to decorate the boxes to disguise the fact that they are made of cereal boxes. I could have covered them in paper but it seemed like an unnecessary waste of paper and would have negated the purpose of using recycled cardboard! Instead, I decided to paint the boxes using the same colours I used on the cards. Before painting with coloured inks, I prepped the cardboard with gesso – white gesso on the plain cardboard side and black gesso on the printed side. I did a test and white gesso would not hide the brightly printed side.
I painted the black sides first and left them to dry. I love black gesso – it can hide just about anything!
While the black gesso was drying, I painted some of the cereal box scraps with white gesso and tested out the ink colours on top and some stamping. I had considered stamping on the outside of the box but in the end I chose to cover the outsides with two of the inks used in the card sets. As it happens, ink blending a cardstock happens to be another technique covered in Easy Ink Blending Techniques so I decided to try it out on the gessoed cereal cardboard – bonus!
I used Twisted Citron for the masculine box and Wilted Violet for the feminine box
Once everything was dry, it was time to work on the lid design. To cut the window out of the middle of the lid, i am using this Stitched Rectangle die set. It’s important to note that this die set is designed to cut out a rectangle not a frame! I used the second largest die in the set to cut out the window from the box lid.
Then I used that die and the largest die together to cut out a frame from matching cardstock. In the fphoto below, you can see how it has cut the frame and also a rectangle in the centre – I used that later. 🙂
I used the largest die to also cut a rectangle piece from recycled packaging to place in the window lid.
I glued the acetate piece to the window lid using Nuvo Deluxe Adhesive which dries clear, then took the cardstock frame pieces and glued them over the acetate to hide the edges and give a neater more professional looking result.
Assembled Boxes and Finishing Touches
I folded up the sides of each box and lid and glued the sides together, creating the finished box shape and left them to dry. Meanwhile, I took the sample card I made at the beginning of this post, and cut it in half to make two gift cards.
These were glued to the leftover stitched rectangles mentioned above, giving me co-ordinating gift tags to match the boxes…
…and glued them to the leftover stitched rectangles made from the rectangle dies above.
After completing the boxes and tags and putting the cards inside, I had two boxed sets of cards that looked like this…
Although they looked nice enough I thought they were a bit plain and if they were to be used as a gift, then they could both do with some extra decoration to take them to the next level. So I tied a big purple organza ribbon tied into a bow on the feminine set and teal and brown striped baker’s twine tied around the masculine set.
And here are the completed gift boxed card sets! Masculine on the left and Feminine set on the right complete with ribbons and twine decoration.
I really enjoyed working on this challenge and I love the resulting boxed card sets. My masculine and feminine sets are similar in that they use the same stamps and dies but my choices make them suitable for either gender, as I stayed away from florals and flowery sentiments and chose a neutral leaf design and simple sentiments like YOU ROCK, A WARM HELLO, SENDING HUGS etc. The colour palettes are different with greens, blues and brown for the masculine card set and pinks, purples, black for the feminine set. There is one overlapping colour – Blueprint Sketch – to tie the two sets together, and there is one rainbow card in each set which contains all the colours from both sets. This is the YOU ROCK card, and you can see the rainbow goes from green to pink on the male card and pink to green on the female card.
Overall I spent four full days working on this challenge, including photo editing (57 photos) and writing the blog post, so don’t underestimate how much time it will take to complete and how in-depth this challenge is!
This is project that I will definitely do again as I love making gift sets and boxes – you can see a recent birthday gift set using an envelope box here – and I think some of my crafty friends might appreciate receiving a lovely box of cards for Christmas! The masculine set would also make a really useful gift for the guys in your life – a set of ready made cards for multiple occasions – no excuses!
I hope you like my card sets and look forward to your comments!
Altenew – Leaf Canopy stamp and die set, Mega Greetings 1 and 2, Mega Hello, Mega Thanks, Mega You, Scripty Words 2, Bold Alphabet dies
Tim Holtz – Distress Inks – Twisted Citron, Cracked Pistachio, Peacock Feathers, Blueprint Sketch, Wilted Violet, Seedless Preserves, Picked Raspberry, Distress Sprayer, Mixed Media Cardstock, Distress Archival – Black Soot, Ground Espresso, Paper Distresser, Stitched Rectangle Dies
Wow – Embossing ink, Gold Rush and Black Glint embossing powder
Versafine – Clair ink – Nocturne, Acorn
Finnabair – Liquid Acrylic Black, Metallique Sparks – Unicorn Hair, Heavy Gesso – White
Gina K – Cardstock – Onyx Black, Charcoal Brown, Key Lime, Wild Lilac
Pebeo – Black Gesso,
Tonic – Tim Holtz stamp platform, Nuvo Deluxe Adhesive
From stash: cereal packets, acetate from packaging, scraps of coloured cardstock, purple organza ribbon, baker’s twine
FYI Here’s a list of all my Class posts for Level 1:
.All About Layering 1
.All About Layering 2
.Clean & Simple Boutique Cards
.Easy Ink Blending Techniques
.For The Guys
.Let It Shine
.Celebration: Stencil Techniques
.Seasonal Scene Building
.Easy Die Cutting Techniques
.Irresistible Inking Techniques
Entered in the following Challenge: Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge