Monday, February 25, 2013

February tag

Hello all,

Last night I put the finishing touches on my February tag, and here it is!

Once again, I took the example from Tim's blog, and put my own spin on it.  I had a lot of fun playing around with my waterbrush and Distress markers (for the first time since I got them, actually!), and tried two different color schemes for my conversation heart:

For my tag, I settled on the purple, but I may use the blue for another project.  :-)

My biggest frustration out of the whole project was in the final step: the tissue tape ribbon!  I bought some tissue tape last month in a sale, but this was my first time working with it.  I had so much trouble getting a long enough length to work with, without the tape shredding as I pulled it from the roll.  I wound up wasting about 3 feet, while trying to get a single 18" length I could work with!  I hope I just had something from a bad batch, because I really like the look of tissue tape, and had been looking forward to incorporating it into more projects.  :-/  (FWIW, what finally worked for me was to gently rock the tape from side to side as I pulled it from the roll.  Obviously, this won't work if you have it mounted in the dispenser, but if your tissue tape is shredding, give this a shot.)

Materials used:
 - Ranger Inkssentials Manila Craft Tags
 - Ranger Distress Inks: Black Soot, Frayed Burlap
 - Ranger Distress Stains: Festive Berries, Fired Brick
 - Ranger Distress Markers: Dusty Concord, Victorian Velvet, Fired Brick
 - Ranger Archival Ink: Jet Black
 - Ranger Glossy Accents
 - Core'dinations Tim Holtz Kraft-Core #24
 - The Paper Studio Love Love Love Embossing Folder
 - Sizzix Valentine Set Embossing Folders - "Be Mine"
 - idea-ology Cash Keys
 - idea-ology Seasonal Chit Chat
 - idea-ology Jump Rings
 - idea-ology Nostalgic Tissue Tape
 - idea-ology Vial Labels
 - Maya Road Twine Cording: Blackberry
 - Stampin' Up Small Oval Punch
 - Stamps by Tim Holtz for Stampers Anonymous: CMS143 & CSS25900
 - Cold-press watercolour paper
 - Foam tape, double-stick tape from my stash

I should note that I had a lot of fun learning about how to make custom cash keys with the Stampin' Up punch (my first SU product!).  I already have a few ideas for custom pendants using this technique!  :-)

Well, that's it for now.  Can't wait to see what March brings, tag-wise.  (In the meantime, I have some other new discoveries to share, so keep an eye out for those in the next few days.)


Monday, February 18, 2013

Lobster card

Hello all,

I wanted to take a little time to share the lobster-themed LTC I did recently for an Ocean Creatures swap.  Given that the creatures depicted were supposed to still be alive, I didn't want to go with the traditional red that people usually make lobsters, but I wasn't sure how to go about that (and I also wasn't sure exactly what color I should make them, so I turned to Google.

After marveling at this guy:

(Seriously, my favourite colour and everything!)

...I determined that most lobsters are dark greenish/brownish, but that there's a huge amount of variation between them. I know the lobsters I've seen in the tank at the grocery store often have orangey "spots", and I thought it would be pretty cool if I could depict that somehow on my card.

Once I finished carving my stamp, I began to experiment. I tried inking the stamp with a dark green, and then hitting it quick with an orange pad, but it didn't really work - the stamped image just looked green. 

So I decided to emboss. I am a huge fan of the Zing! Line of powders from American Crafts. They do cool opaque powders that show colors well on dark cardstock, they do powders that give a nifty metallic shimmer, and they do glitter powders that I don't entirely hate (which is about the best I can say about glitter embossing powder - seriously, it's a pain to work with). The darkest green I have from them is actually their green metallic, but I figured it might look cool, so I decided to go with that, and I also pulled out their Apricot opaque powder to give my orange accents.

Then I got out my Heat Tool and got to work. Stamped my lobster with clear embossing ink (my go-to is Ranger Perfect Medium), and put on my green metallic. Once I had the powder on, I turned over the card and flicked it once hard on the back, to shake off the excess, but also to remove a bit more and make room for my orange. Then I shook my orange powder over the top, flipped it over and tapped more gently. Heated it up, and voila! I have green lobsters with orange spots.

Then I used Ranger Distress Stain in Salty Ocean (of course!) to put him underwater:

And there's my lobster!  I still think the green is a little light for the effect I was going for, and I don't have any brown powder (well, I do, but it's Distress, and that's not at all the intended effect), but overall, I think he's pretty cute!  :-)

Hope you enjoy!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What's an LTC?

After my first few posts, an excellent question was raised on Facebook: "what is an LTC?"  Simply put, an LTC (or Letterboxer Trading Card) is an ATC that includes a hand-carved stamp.  (Don't worry if you didn't understand anything in the previous sentence; I'm about to explain all.)  :-)

First, let's take a look at ATCs, or Artist Trading Cards.  ATCs are miniature works of art, the same dimensions as a baseball card (2.5x3.5").  They can be made out of any number of different materials, in varying styles.  They are traded, and occasionally sold.  For more info, check the Wikipedia page, which not only describes them well, but links to several popular sites for trading/obtaining ATCs.

So now the question turns to: what's does "Letterboxer" refer to?  Letterboxing is a treasure hunting hobby.  Usually it is compared to geocaching, but there are several key differences.  Instead of relying upon a GPS unit to seek their treasure, letterboxers follow clues (which can range from rather straight-forward directions to mind-bending ciphers).  And at the end of a letterbox hunt, instead of a cache of Happy Meal toys and pencils (let's be fair, that's been the contents of almost every geocache I've encountered), the seeker finds a letterbox, containing a rubber stamp and a logbook.  The seeker carries their own personal stamp and logbook, and images are exchanged.  The personal stamp is stamped into the letterbox logbook, and the letterbox stamp is stamped into the seeker's personal logbook.  Then the letterbox stamp and logbook are rehidden for the next person to find.  Most stamps that one finds while letterboxing are hand-carved, meaning that the images you collect in your logbook are one-of-a-kind.  More info about letterboxing can be found on two main websites: AtlasQuest, and Letterboxing North America (LBNA).

I started letterboxing in April 2009, a few months after reading an article about it in the Buffalo News.  (Since most letterboxes are hidden outdoors, I wasn't tremendously keen to start in the winter - I waited for better weather!)  Letterboxers usually choose a "trail name" by which they are known in the letterboxing community, and BfloAnonChick is my trail name.  (My real name is Liz.  *waving*)  The photo next to my blog profile shows my personal stamps.  The torso with the name below it were carved by me, and are my current signature stamps.  The pair of eyes below was store-bought, and was the signature stamp I started with when I first began letterboxing.  I don't use it in logbooks anymore, but I still sometimes use it to "sign" the backs of my LTCs.

And here we are, back at LTCs.  So what do artist trading cards have to do with treasure hunting in the woods?  Well, several years ago, someone suggested that perhaps the same hand-carved stamps that were being placed in letterboxes, could be used to make ATCs.  A letterboxer named Mama Cache hosted the first swap of these new ATCs, which were renamed LTCs, to reflect the use of a hand-carved stamp.  (Some letterboxers do create cards using store-bought stamps, but it is generally accepted that for a card to be considered an LTC, the stamp that is the main focus of the card should be hand-carved.  I have occasionally used store-bought stamps as accents or backgrounds, but any card I make that focuses on a store-bought stamp, I would consider an ATC, and trade as such.)

Since then, thousands of LTCs have been made and traded by hundreds of letterboxers.  I began making and trading LTCs in July 2009, and I haven't looked back.  Here are some of my favourites from over the years:

This was my first card, created to celebrate the annual Friendship Festival in Buffalo, NY & Fort Erie, ON.

I do a lot of Celtic knot-inspired images, because I think they're fun to carve.  :-)

Sometimes I go simple, and just let the carve speak for itself.

Backgrounds and papers can make for fun experimentation...

As can unusual materials. (Yes, that's really duct tape!)

I love using my Distress inks to get a multitude of different effects.

These cards all use texture as part of their design.

Colorr can be added many ways, including coloured pencils, blending chalks, and Copic markers.

One of the cool things about carving your own stamps, is the ability to layer images.  
The above card was made by layering 2 different stamps.

This card emerged from a swap where the butterfly stamps were sent to each participant, to see what they would make with them.  The cat is my carve, and the above is my design using all 3 stamps.

A newer development have been subsets of LTCs known as inchies (1 inch square), 
and twinchies (2 inches square).  Above are 3 inchies from my collection.

And this is me (anime style).  Yes, I have a blue streak in my hair.  It makes me smile.  :-)

So that's what LTCs are all about, along with some of my examples.  I'm far from the only LTC maker blogging, so google around for more examples.  We have some amazing artists!

If there's a card above that you'd like to know more about how it was constructed, feel free to comment below, and I'll make it the topic of a future post.  :-)