Start Stamping! Course Now Available

Friday, January 23, 2015

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I’m so excited to share my newest course for Curious is now available, and during the month of January you can save 50% on the enrollment price!

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This 10 part course, is entitled Basic Stamping but it’s for beginners and experienced stampers alike. I’ll show you how to make the most of your existing products and how to create multiple looks with different stamp styles.

In lesson one I’ll show you how to choose supplies and you’ll learn the difference between some popular stamping products and tools and how to look for quality and versatility. Lesson two will teach you how to care for your supplies, from cleaning to organizing.

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In this course, you’ll find 7 lessons focused on techniques, for building your skills. From random stamping backgrounds to creating your own unique images with homemade stamps, you’ll learn to look at your stamps in a new light and see dozens of possibilities with your existing stamp collection.

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For your tenth and final lesson, you can use your stamping skills to create a set of cards using just one stamp set and paper pack. Create 3 cards or use the included cutting and assembly guide to create four each of the three designs for a total of 12 cards!

All attachments for this card workshop are included with the course, including recommended supply list, cutting guide and assembly guide. You can create the card set using your own supplies or use the links on the course to shop for the same materials as I used.

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HOW CURIOUS LESSONS WORK
If you’re new to the Curious website, you’ll need to create a free profile when you visit. There are many lessons for free on the site, along with lessons that charge an enrollment fee. Once you have enrolled in a lesson (for free or for a fee), you’ll have lifetime access to the lesson, so you can watch it anytime, as often as you like. You can access from your computer or mobile devices too.

Lessons are divided up into sections, with a short question (exercise) to help you retain your new knowledge. At the end of the lesson, you are encouraged to submit an “assignment” to the teacher, which could be a photo or video of what you learned. The exercises and assignments are optional, but they can be a lot of fun! I respond to every one of my students’ comments, questions and assignments, because, you know… I love you all so much!

The half-price sale is good through January, so make sure to check out this awesome deal soon!

CTMH CONSULTANTS
Are you a Close to My Heart consultant? Use this course as a learning guide to teach your clubs or workshops! Basic Stamping is packed with quick and easy techniques that your students will love, and they can be adapted for any stamp set. If you’ve ever struggled for fresh techniques that can be taught quickly and without expensive materials, this course can be a lifesaver!

Another idea for consultant looking for ways to build your business: host a card workshop for your customers using the final lesson in this course. You can download and print the cutting and assembly guides right from the lesson page, and hand them out to your workshop guests for a professional workshop presentation. You’ll save yourself tons of work using my designs and handouts, and you’ll learn lots of new techniques and tips along the way too!

Big Head Squirrels

Thursday, January 22, 2015

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How could you not love this squirrel feeder? I’ve been providing critter food for my furry friends for years, and they have grown fat, lazy and spend most of their time fighting with each other. I still love them, even though they’re jerks.

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This big head squirrel feeder was a Christmas gift, and I was so excited to try it out, but skeptical if the squirrels would actually use it. Well, it took about 30 minutes before the first furry guy was brave enough to stick his head in there, and now I can’t keep it filled fast enough.

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The squirrels are still fighting each other and making a big mess, but they’re definitely earning their keep in entertainment value. It’s like having a teeny tiny college mascot character on our deck. Big head squirrels, you are awesome!

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You can buy a big head feeder on Amazon here.

Altered Stamps: Changing Shapes

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

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Part of the appeal of stamps is how simple it is to alter their appearance. I’m big on changing things up, I often prefer to come up with new ways to use something but I also like to keep it simple. Let me show you two easy ways to create a different look for a shaped stamp!

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This cute “Hello” stamp with a speech bubble can be used as-is, but I don’t always want the speech bubble shape, so I’m going to transform it easily with a few quick cuts in my paper trimmer.

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Line up the image and cut off the edging and the speech bubble “tail” for a square image that’s ready to mount onto a card or scrapbook page. Add a color coordinated mat or just leave it plain.

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For a shaped image, you can stamp over a die-cut, cricut shape or punched shape.

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If your shape is light colored and your workspace is too, place a scrap piece of dark colored cardstock under the shape before stamping. This helps you see the edges of the image better and line everything up perfectly.

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I recommend a two-handed hold when placement is crucial, don’t use one hand like I’m doing here (unless you’re holding a camera with the other hand, then it’s okay).

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Don’t forget to use padding when stamping a bold stamp like this one. I’m using the foam sheet that comes in every Close to My Heart stamp set. The padding allows your stamp to make full contact with your paper, to avoid missing spots or uneven inking.

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Goodbye speech bubble shape, hello new shape!

Have you tried this technique before, or do you have any favorite ways to alter a stamp shape? Leave a comment and let me know!

January Special: Year >> Noted

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

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I love the start of a new year. The possibilities of 365 brand new days to make a difference, accomplish goals and create memories. This year I am working on being true to myself, focusing on productivity and if all goes well, maybe I’ll start posting more frequently on my blog.

If you’ve got goals and plans for the new year and want to record your memories, CTMH has a project just for you, and it’s only $5!

In celebration of National Papercrafting Month, Close To My Heart invites you to reflect on the things that make you who you are and on what you want to accomplish in the coming months. Then, with the help of the Year >> Noted paper kit, record your experiences and goals!

For more info and to place an order, visit my website.

Beaded Wrap Bracelet Tutorial

Friday, December 12, 2014

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Need a gift for that hard-to-shop-for fashionista on your list? Wrap bracelets are all the rage, and you can spend big bucks on the pricey designer brands, or make one yourself in an hour or two at home!

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I love these leather wrap bracelets because they’re casual enough for jeans and tees, but they also can be dressy, depending on the beads and stones you choose. I’ve even seen them done in pearls and white leather for brides!

You can make a single wrap, double wrap (like I’ve made here) or if you’re ambitious, try 4 or 5 wraps for a dramatic boho style.

I’m going to show you the way that I create my wrap bracelets, but there are lots of different tutorials and videos on creating the same look, with slight variations on methods or final appearance. I’ve taught lots of people to make these bracelets, including my students at Creative University, but this is the first time I’ve tried a jewelry tutorial. This is going to be a long post, so if you get lost and need a video tutorial, try this one, which has some very good tips and is easy to follow.

You’ll need leather cord, nylon beading thread, a small needle and beads. I’ll discuss more about the supplies as I go along, and check the bottom of this post for links to some supplies.

Begin by cutting your leather. For a two-wrap bracelet, you’ll need enough to wrap loosely around your wrist four times, then add 12” for the closures. Fold your leather in half and add a button, then tie an overhand knot under the button.

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Attach your bracelet to a firm surface. I’m using a cutting board, but sometimes I use a clipboard. I don’t like working directly on the table, since I usually need to move my project before I’m done, so use something portable.

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Attach the free ends to the bottom of the board. If your board is short, just clip the leather at the bottom to keep it taught. You can readjust as your bracelet gets longer.

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Cut your thread. You’ll need 10 feet for each wrap, so I cut 20 feet of thread. Yes, that’s a LOT of thread, and the biggest challenge will be to keep it from tangling while working. I have a few hints, but the best advice is to be prepared and don’t rush, and maybe have a glass of wine or a cup of cocoa to relax before you begin.

You’ll need to use beading thread for this bracelet, don’t try it with regular sewing thread. There are no knots in this bracelet except at the start and end, so if your thread breaks the whole bracelet goes. Nylon thread is super strong and very thin, it will hold up to lots of wear.

Thread your needle. I use a fine embroidery needle for my wrap bracelets, it’s easy for me to thread and hold onto. I have a hard time with beading needles, no matter how hard I try I just can’t get the hang of threading them and they usually break on me, so I’ve come to an agreement with beading needles… we leave each other alone and I won’t bad mouth them.

You’ll need to double your thread, so after passing through the eye of the needle, bring the free ends together. Don’t tie in a knot just yet….

Wax your thread. I like to use beeswax on my thread to keep it from tangling and it makes the thread stronger. Hold the wax in one hand, trap the thread over the block with your thumb and pull the free end.  Do this several times until the two pieces of thread stick together and appear as one.

P.S. I use beeswax when sewing buttons onto my clothes, you’ll never lose a button again!

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Attach your thread to the bracelet. After you’ve waxed your thread, tie the end in a knot. Then slide the needle through the leather knot on your bracelet, so that the needles exit the opposite side of your leather loop with the button. (Come out of the bottom of the knot). Pull the thread through and nestle the knotted end of the thread in the leather knot. Trim the loose end of the thread and add a drop of hypo cement to secure the thread in place.

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Secure the thread before beading. Using your needle, go under one of the pieces of leather and up through the middle. Do this two or three times, until you have wrapped the thread a few times around one of the “legs” of your bracelet. Keep these loops tight, up close to the leather knot (my photo below shows a loose wrap, which it does when you let go of the thread to take a picture).

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Begin beading. Beginning on the right side, bring your needle under the right leg and up through the middle of the bracelet, between the two legs. Add a bead to the thread, nestling it between the two pieces of leather.

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A couple of notes: I’m a lefty with a pencil, but a righty with a needle. So I’m using left and right directions for right-handed beaders. If you hold your needle on the left, switch any left/right instructions.

Also, you’ll notice that I skipped ahead on my beading progress to show you the bead threading. It’s easier to see how the threading works when you can see a few beads already on the bracelet.
Here’s another view (below). I just love those black and white beads!

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Left side: over and back through. After adding your bead, the thread will be on top of the left leg. Bring your needle under that left leg and pass it back through the bead, coming out on top of the right leg. Pull it out of the right side of the bead. Go slow, you will now have four layers of thread inside the bead, and you have a lot of yards of thread that need to pass through. (See tangle tips below to keep your thread from knotting).

Once you’ve passed the thread all the way through, you’ll have a nice snug loop on the left side, holding the bead against the left leg. Your thread is now on top of the right leg.

Begin again, and again, and again. You’ve completed your first bead addition. Your bead is seated between the two leather cords, and the thread is on the right side, with the thread on top of the right leg. To add your second bead, pass the needle under the right leg and up through the center, adding a bead as you do so. Do you remember that part from the first bead? Now you can continue with the under/through/over/under/through pattern until you have added enough beads to wrap around your wrist once.

You can stop now if you have a single wrap bracelet, or continue with the same beads if you want all one bead style, or you can change to a different bead for your second wrap.

Tangle Tips: The first few beads are the hardest, and it does get easier as you use up more thread. The biggest frustration is dealing with all the thread and preventing tangling. Clear your workspace on both sides, so that nothing catches the thread - that means no scissors, extra beads, etc. Put everything on the table in front of you instead of on the sides. After passing the needle through the bead, I find that it's easier to park the needle somewhere at the top of my workboard, instead of holding it in my hand while I pull the thread. This allows me to pull with two hands and keeps the thread from doubling back on itself.

Changing bead sizes. I like a little variation in my wrapped bracelets, so I switch beads at the half-way point. This sort of makes it look like you have two bracelets instead of one, but there’s only one clasp to mess with. I usually pick a sparkly or metallic bead that coordinates with the stone or glass bead I started with. In this bracelet, I’ve not only switched the type and material, but I also changed the size to a much smaller size. When doing this, you’ll notice that your leather “legs” need to be manipulated a bit to get them to lie smooth in the transition space. Take your time and smooth your bracelet as you work, rolling the already strung beads to get them to the most pleasing position so that the entire band lies flat and doesn’t bulge or warp.

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Finishing your bracelet. Check your bracelet length as you get closer to the end of your leather. Make sure that you don’t make the bracelet too long since your closure will account for a few of the last inches. When you’re satisfied with the final length, tie off your thread, leaving the needle still attached. Remove the bracelet from your board and tie the free ends of the leather in an overhand knot.

Pick up the needle and pass it through the leather knot, then snip the thread flush with the other side of the knot. Use a dot of hypo cement on either side of the knot where the thread enters and exits, as well as on the thread knot to keep it from untying.

Using your button as guide, tie the free ends of the leather cord in a second knot, leaving a gap between the first and second knot, large enough to slip the button through. Trim the cord, leaving a short tail. If needed, add some hypo cement to keep the leather knot from slipping.

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Enjoy your finished bracelet!

Supplies (click to shop at Auntie’s Beads) 2 mm Black Leather Cord
Nylon Beading Thread, size D
Button
8 mm Black & White Calsilica gemstone beads
4 mm Black Crystal beads
Beeswax
Hypo Cement

How to Get More Looks with Border Stamps

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

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Border stamps are one of those essentials that add that little extra something to your projects, but they also can be forgotten because they aren’t the star of the show.

In my latest video lesson for Curious, you’ll learn to look at your border stamps in new ways with simple techniques and ideas get the most out of the stamps you already own.

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If your idea of making a border stamp look different is to change the ink color, you’ll find many suggestions for making your border stamps wider, thinner or using them as backgrounds. I also include a detailed tutorial on how to miter corners when making a border frame.

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All of the techniques in the lesson use simple materials that most papercrafters already own. This video, along with the others in the Start Stamping series, is designed to give new life to your existing products without complicated techniques or an expensive shopping list.

If you enjoy my goofy intros and bloopers in my videos, I think you’ll really like this particular one. Nothing like a little cross-dressing in public to test how brave you are.

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The next time you’re ready for a stamping session, you may want to head for the border!

Enroll in Creating Custom Stamped Borders now! Watch the free preview for a lesson introductory, class price is just $1.99. Thrifty tip: You can save and purchase your curious credits in advance and get more for your money!

Cyber Monday CTMH Cricut Sale!

Monday, December 1, 2014

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I’m so excited to share this amazing deal available today only! You can purchase any of the Close to My Heart cricut collections for just $79.20, a savings of 20% off retail.

I’ve been a consultant for a long time, and this sale is monumental. The best price you’ll ever find on all the cricut collections, so grab one (or more) while you can!

Bonus! Shop through my Cyber Monday link on my website and your name will be placed in a random drawing to win a free paper pack or stamp set!

To see the collections and purchase this deal, visit my shopping website. To be entered into the drawing, make sure to click the “Join Cyber Monday Sale” link when you’re ready to shop.