Wednesday, August 29, 2012

There Goes the Neighborhood

We've gotta get OUTTA HERE!
Mr. and Mrs. Mouse are beating feet to get away from their new neighbor, Mr. Cat who looks ready to gobble them up!

Run, mousies!  Run!

The prompt for this PC was "travel".  Instead of going for a destination-inspired theme, I went for a bit of whimsy, hoping to add a little variety to the mix.

Stamps Used: 100 Proof Press (mice, cat), Beeswax (all others)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

ATC Saturday: Postage

Nature + Postage
For this swap, participants were required to use a postage stamp depicting an item from nature.

I decided to run with the postal theme, and added a few cancellation marks and the "Par Avion" stamp.

Butterflies from an Entomology UM Set were stamped in brown all over the background to echo the postage stamp's design.  I added a bit of yellow with Prismacolors to brighten up the background and to tie it in with the central image.

Stamps Used:  RBBB/StampFrancisco (all)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fantasy PC

Stamps Used:  Beeswax (maiden, courtyard), Picture Show (monkey)

Prompted by the word "fantasy", this is what emerged.

Renaissance-gal stands bemused by the trained monkeys parading before her.

Dressed in their brightly colored, modern clothes, these monkeys provide a stark contrast to the dank castle courtyard and the muted colors of the maiden's dress.

This one was just for fun.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

ATC Saturday: Down on the Farm

Our theme for this swap was "John Deere".  I signed up for it only because I just recently purchased the two main images you see here. 

Both stamps arrived unmounted, as requested.  I started out using watercolor markers directly on the rubber, but I'm not a big fan of this method--especially with tight spots like you see on the tractor (between the chassis and the tires).

Instead of fussing with the markers, I cut the stamp apart!  Now I can ink the parts on ink pads, which makes me a happy stamper.

I did the same thing to the corn stalks, but with perhaps less success.  The tassels seem a bit wobbly in places.  This image came as a single stalk.

On the (tiny) farm of my youth, we did not own any John Deere equipment, but we did have an old Ford tractor, a Farmall A, and a Farmall H.  

No, I'm not an octogenarian.  I remember those tractors as being antiques before we owned them.  My Dad frequented auction sales, and these were some of his more useful acquisitions, once he got them up-and-running that is.  To get one tractor that worked, he'd buy two broken ones.  My brother, Neal would then combine parts from each into one machine that worked.

Neal was the mechanic of the family.  He spent all of his after-school free time tinkering with engines of all types in the backyard barn.  He is the one that kept the tractors running for all the years I was at home, old as they were.

Stamps Used:  Picture Show (tractor, corn stalk), Hero Arts (tiny alpha)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Magic in the Air
Shown here is a postcard I made for postcrossing.  I'm thankful that the recipient uploaded a photo to the site, because I had forgotten to scan it before sending it on its way.  ack!

Transfixed by the lighthouse's bright beam in the night sky, the children can't see the other world just beyond.  Night's workers are making sure the stars are placed just so.

Stamps Used:  100 Proof Press, children; all others, Sumac Designs.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

ATC Saturday: Butterflies

Today's theme is Butterflies.  I chose to stamp a monarch, to match the image on the postage stamp.

It seemed fitting to include the letter "B" as well.  I have a certain fondness for fonts that started soon after I learned to write.  As a child of seven or eight, Sunday mornings found me writing the A-B-C's over and over in the margins of the newspaper.  I'd make up different styles of letters and write all twenty-six letters in that style, then start over with another style.

If you're interested in the history of graphic lettering, an excellent book on the subject is: Life with Letters by Ed Rondthaler.  Read it, and you'll learn the foundations of so many aspects of letters that we all but take for granted daily.  PhotoLettering has more info about the intoxicating world of lettering.  Their site even offers an iron ampersand for the incredible price of only $250.  Perhaps another time.

I could go on, but back to the ATC.  This one features a watercolored background that I overstamped with a few little doodad stamps that were included on an sheet of rubber from...somewhere.  They are handy little things that I normally use more sparingly than what you see here.  I stamped the "Bb" and colored the lower case "b" with a green sharpie.

The butterfly was stamped and colored separately, then glued to the card.  I drew in his antennae with a micro pen.  I used a cancelled postage stamp in the corner, and added a few more of the filler stamps to complete the piece.

Stamps Used:  Picture Show (monarch), Ma Vinci's Reliquary ("Bb"), TooMuchFun (blue doodad), others unknown.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sail Away

All stamps:  Eat Cake Graphics
Living in Michigan, there's no shortage of shoreline.  My family is hoping to squeeze a few more trips to the beach in before the weather turns cold.

Shown here is a card I made for Eat Cake Graphics.  Sandpaper is my secret ingredient--what better material to represent the beach?  I used double-stick tape and glue to hold it securely.  It's not the most pliant paper to work with, but the result is a feast for the tactile senses.

The white caps are torn strips of confetti text-weight paper.  These I attached by painting a layer of watered-down white glue with a small, flat brush to the underside of each strip.  When gluing in this way, I find a pair of craft tweezers indispensable.  Mine are Tweezer Bees and I love them.

Getting things to stick to the sandpaper was a little tricky.  E6000 to the rescue!  I'm pretty sure you could use E6000 to glue marbles to a frisbee, if you wanted.  It's that good.  Remember to open a window when using this stuff, or the fumes will get you!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Digital Stamping? Here, Have a Cupcake

How do you feel about digital stamping?  ...ever tried it?  Back in the day the big debate in the stamping world was "cute" vs. "weird".  Now we're debating what it is that constitutes stamping itself.

What's the Difference?

With digis (digital stamps), instead of transferring ink from rubber to paper, your printer produces the image from a computer file.  Nothing goes kerchunk.  There's no rubber; only pixels!  Of course, there are advantages to using digis.  They can be resized to fit your layout, flipped, or altered in any number of other ways by using graphics software like PhotoShop, PhotoShop Elements, InkScape, Gimp, and others.  Lower cost is another advantage of digital vs. rubber.  Often the price per digi is less than its rubber counterpart, and delivery of digital images can be as fast as your internet connection, with no shipping charges.  Storage space is not an issue, either.  Need to store 1,000 stamps?  No problem--if your hard drive or external storage media can't handle it, you can store a virtual room full of digis on one thin CD.

Digital Formats

Digital stamps are usually offered in ".png" or ".jpg" format--sometimes both.  The acronym "png" (pronounced "ping") stands for portable network graphics, which is a compact method for storing image files.  One of the advantages of png over jpg is that png files support transparency.  The transparency attribute makes using a digital stamp something like using a physical stamp in that the transparent pixels of the .png file are like the portion of the rubber stamp that doesn't receive any ink.

jpgs can't deliver transparency.  In a .jpg file, what would be the un-inked portion of a rubber stamp (or the transparent pixels of a digital stamp) translate as the color white.  Let me show you in pictures:
Left side (blue) is in .png format.  Right side is in .jpg format.

Notice how the blue background of the image on the left side shows through the cupcake?  The cupcake image itself has only one color:  black.  Any pixel that is not black is transparent (in this case allowing the blue background to show through the frosting).

Think of it as using a rubber stamp on acetate.  Whatever pattern you place behind the stamped-on acetate will show through un-inked areas of the image.

Contrast that with the image on the right.  With a digi in .jpg format, we have two colors:  black, and white.  The .jpg shown here includes white pixels in the image itself, and also in the background.  The original blue background is completely obliterated by the jpg's not-transparent, pixel-heavy self.

White background?  Not always a great thing.  Opaque frosting on the cupcake though? Yes.  Whereas the image on the left includes only black and transparent pixels, the image on the right includes black and white.  To get the best of both worlds (transparent background and opaque frosting) you're going to have to (digitally) paint white behind the frosting in the first image, or erase the background of the second image.  Those are two options anyway.

I'm using black-and-white in my example, but actually digital stamps can be any color, or multiple colors.  Some sellers offer digis in color, much like you'd find with digital scrapbooking elements.

Pirate?  Just DON'T.

Before we move on, I'd like to address the issue of piracy.  It is not o.k. to download someone's digital artwork--even if you paid for it--and then share that file with someone else without permission from the seller.  Some companies' policies go even further to state that you may not sell any item created with their images.  Some want you to provide accreditation of their company on the back of your finished artwork, or online if posting on the internet.  Please know your seller's attribution policy, and abide by anti-piracy rules.  Piracy hurts everybody.

Have a Cupcake, On Me

O.K. so let's say you've acquired a digi by proper means.  Take the cupcake (links to download are at the bottom of the post), for instance.  You have my permission to use it for your own personal projects.  If you use it on the internet, please give me credit by including a link to this post.

What to do with it?   Well, you could print that lone cupcake onto cardstock.  Either format will print the same in this case, since the white background will be ignored by your printer (unless you have access to a super-wham-o-dyne printer, white ink is not an option).  Once printed, many users then cut out the image and use it in their artwork as an applique, adding color afterwards as they would do if they had stamped it with rubber.

What Else Can You Do with Digis?

Another way to use digis is to manipulate them in their native environment, a graphics program (see above for links to various platforms).  The ATC below was made entirely in PhotoShop Elements, then printed onto heavy cardstock.  I added an ATC back (find some I made here) and off it went to my swap partner.

And Here's Where the Debating Starts...

As a rubber stamper, I object to the term "digital stamping", but not to the process itself.  If graphics is the goal, then I'm more interested in the result than in the method used to get there.

On the other hand, some do object to the use of software in their craft.  They don't consider something that was ultimately printed by a computer to be in the same category with handmade items.

I'm all over the fact that we crafters have yet another medium, digis, at our disposal.  Because it is another medium, it needs to have a different name than "digital stamping".  That's just dumb.

Let me know if you come up with anything.

And now, please do have a cupcake or twenty.  On me.
PDF of 20 cupcakes (5 each of four images) on scribd.  These are intended for printing onto card stock and cutting out.
PNG of a single cupcake on DeviantArt (you might need to create an account there--it's free though).  This one has a transparent background.
JPG of same image.  White background. 


Do not share the images I've offered here, but do link back to this post.  If you end up using the cupcake(s), I'd love to see a photo of your creation (post a link in the comments).

Thank you!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

ATC Saturday: Fly

This is an ATC I made for a swap at swap-bot.
The theme is "birds".

This sweet little girl image reminds me of the illustrations in my kids' nursery rhyme books.  I confess that when it comes to children's books, I check the artwork first.  If the pictures aren't captivating, the book doesn't come home with me.  Here I've used only a portion of the stamp.  You can see the entire image here.

A rigid iron fence anchors this miniature scene, but the little girl's thoughts are soaring to the sky.

I began by stamping the background (find it here) in pale blue.  Next came the ironwork border, which I colored with metallic gold Prismacolors.

The swallows, and the dove were stamped directly over the background.  I stamped and colored just a portion of the little girl, then used a punch to cut out a small circle.  I distressed the circumference of the circle with blank ink before gluing it in place.

To finish the piece, I stamped the word "fly" using one of my most versatile alphas, LL762 Printer's Lower Case from Hero Arts. (This alpha is available elsewhere, too.)

Stamps Used: StampFrancisco (background), Beeswax (girl), Lost Coast Designs (grid iron border), Picture Show (swallows, dove).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


cabbage, 100PP; bald baby, Hero Arts?; center baby, Karv'd
In case you were wondering, yes babies do come from the cabbage patch.  These rubber babies do anyway!

Here, a whole scene emerges with just a little tiny bit of doodling added to the stamping.

I remember discussing a certain stamp-designer's early years of this hobby.  She owned only a couple of stamps at the time.  Among them, she said, were Barbie, and a cabbage.  She told us how she had so much fun stretching her creative muscle; coming up with new ways to use just those two stamps together.  I often think of Kathy M.'s story when I need a creative nudge.

It's a great exercise to see what you can create when you limit yourself to just a couple of images.  Think of the fun you could have creating a series of PCs using only two or three stamps!  Sounds like a good challenge for some pen friends or swappers.

Hot Tip: The bald baby is an image I picked up in a bargain bin at a discount store for less than a dollar.  Often stamps carried by general-merchandise stores make a horrible impression either because there is excess rubber surrounding the image, or because the rubber has been mounted directly to the wood/plastic block sans cushion, or both.  Most times, all that is needed is a close trimming of the excess rubber, and the addition of some rubber cushion (available from 100PP, and many others) and your bargain-bin find will stamp beautifully.