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Susan's Level One Challenge

This is an interesting challenge indeed! Two set of card to be presented in gift packages - one with cards for ladies, the other with cards for gentleman. I spent time, first looking through my collection of Altenew products to decide what looked "masculine" and what I could use to thread together a theme. So, for the gentlemen, I chose the diamond background stamp, which I really love. But let me just say - if you want perfection, you may want to check out other things. Getting this stamped "just right" is a bit of a challenge, and regardless of what you might say about the MISTI tool, if you are just a hair off in your double stamping, it really muddies the image because the lines are so fine and close together. (If you want to take a look at what I mean, scroll to the last photo!*)

Here is the "Diamond Collection for Men" - the finished product for a gift set of 4 cards:

Here is how they were done:

The techniques/classes used for the cards for men include: Ink Blending, Let it Shine, Die cutting, and (goes without saying) "For the Guys."

I started by ink blending four panels on hot pressed (therefore smooth) watercolor paper in order to make the best blending and stamping surface possible. I used the following color combinations:

1. Salvaged Patina, Evergreen Bough, Pine Needles, Rustic Wilderness

2. Tumbled Glass, Salty Ocean, Blueprint Sketch, Chipped Sapphire

3. Carved Pumpkin, Wild Honey, Rusty Hinge, Gathered Twigs

4. Candied Apple, Barn Door, Fired Brick, Aged Mahogany

The orange panel looks a little "rough" but I knew I was going to cut a shape out of the middle, so I didn't worry about getting that part blended. The color gradations are not as obvious once the heat embossing is done, so here are the panels after being ink-blended:

After all the panels had completely dried, I heat embossed the diamond background stamp on each, but with different metallic colors. For the blue card, I think silver is perfect; for the green card I chose gold; for the yellow/orange card I went with copper, and for the red card, I selected rose gold.

My usual process is a bit "organic" but for this challenge, I wanted to try to plan things out in advance as well as possible. Here are my sketches and calculations....

However, sometimes the best laid plans go awry! I started with A2 card bases, and quickly realized that to accommodate the Inline Alphabet dies that I wanted to use on most of the cards, I needed to go bigger. I ended up with 5 by 6 1/2 inch card bases and instead of the portrait orientation, I thought the designs looked better in landscape. And the "congrats" card- yeah, that didn't fit, even on the larger card, so that one became the "LOVE" card.

Another requirement was using recycled materials, which is easy for me. I don't throw anything away! I used the packaging from various products to provide layering for letters, cardstock that I've made mistakes on or decided not to use as the backing to "pop up" elements on my cards, and the gift box for the cards for men started out as an Amazon packaging box for an Alexa! (This will be pictured below)

All the cards for my masculine set feature the "Shine Like a Diamond" background stamp, which is the element that ties them all together. The first card in the series is this birthday card. The "happy" word is made from the Inline Alphabet die set and has 3 layers - a shiny silver back layer that is slightly offset to provide a "shadow" for the blue letters, a heavy cardstock layer and then then colored and glittered layer. Although difficult to see in this photo, the letters have an ombre effect with a lighter blue on the top of the letter and darker toward the bottom. I then used an iridescent glitter embossing powder on just the lower half of the letters to give them some sparkle. The "birthday" word is stamped in Royal Blue Versafine ink and then the same glitter embossing powder was used. I added a royal blue, shiny strip of cardstock at the edge of the diamond piece (under the "happy" word) as well as on a strip at the bottom of the card. It is mounted on a shiny silver strip. Iridescent discs are added in the white spaces for a little additional interest and sparkle. (Because it's okay for guys to like sparkle too, right?!) Here's a detailed look at the sentiment:

And here is the finished card:

The second card for this series is a "Love" (think: Valentine's Day or an anniversary) card for a guy. This card uses the Illusion Heart die set. The panel is mounted on holographic card stock and the heart and the word "LOVE" are cut directly from the embossed panel so that the holographic cardstock could show through. The resulting die cuts were then heat embossed using 2 layers of pearl satin embossing powder and one layer of iridescent glitter embossing powder. Both the heart and the word were mounted on 2 layers of black card stock with the bottom layer slightly offset so just a rim of black shows behind each letter and the heart. The central heart uses textured, dark red cardstock. Here's a close up of the heart and word, giving you a better sense of the dimension of the elements:

And here is the finished card:

The third card celebrates a Dad (think: Father's Day here). This again uses the Inline Alphabet dies. The diamond embossed panel was cut into increasingly narrow strips and the largest and next largest panels are mounted on 2 additional pieces of heavy card stock, the next 2 are on 2 pieces of cardstock, and the last (narrowest) piece is mounted flush against the background die cuts. The background uses 2 of the Tangled Loop Cover die, one that is cut from a matte gold piece, and one that was cut from a heavy white card stock and then sprayed with a green/gold mica ink. They are mounted in opposite directions to give some depth and dimension to the card. All of this is then mounted on a gold matte piece of cardstock and added to the base card, leaving a rim of white for "framing." The word dies are again mounted on 2 or 3 pieces of white cardstock, with a dark green layer in the back for the shadow. Finally, some gold and green stars are added for embellishment.

Here is a close up of the embellishments and the letter dies:

And the finished card:

And finally, we finish with an all occasion card telling our recipient they are amazing! The card panel is mounted on a copper metallic piece of cardstock that was run through an embossing folder that has a cane pattern, which I thought complimented the geometric pattern of the card well and adds some dimension for the frame. The central part of the card was cut with a diamond shaped die, and a white piece of card stock is on the back that was debossed with the Dotted Lines die. The Inline Alphabet letters saying "hi" were cut from some orange card stock that had been finely splattered with brown mica spray and then coated with Glossy Accents to make them shine and give them dimension. The shadow for these is the same copper cardstock used to mount the panel. "You're amazing" is from the Altenew Sentiment Strips, and it is heat embossed with copper embossing powder.

Again, a close up of the sentiment showing the shiny letters and the debossing in the background:

And the finished card:

As pictured in the first photo, each card has a color matched envelope and the back flaps are stamped with the "Shine Like a Diamond" background die in a coordinating color (usually the darkest color from the ink blending that matches).

The cards are presented in a gift box that is formed to look like a brief case. As mentioned above, it started out as the packaging for an Amazon Alexa "dot" and just so happened to be exactly the right size for these 5 x 6 1/2 inch cards and their envelopes.

Here's the "before":

Here's the "after":

The front panel draws on the color theme of the 4 card (blue, green, orange, red) and the flap uses scraps from the panels used on the cards. A "To/From" tag also features the diamond embossed strips. If the set is intended for a specific recipient, one could even put their initials on the front panel.

The front flap is held down using small but very strong magnets:

I hope you like this set, and that you think these cards will bring a smile to the gentlemen who receive them!

Now, on to the Ladies Card set --

The theme for this set is "Through the Window" with each card featuring a focal point in various window shapes. Techniques used for this set include Ink Blending, Die Cutting, Stencils and Let it Shine.

Here is the finished set:

The first card uses the Fresh Freesia stamp and die set. I used alcohol inks to color in the freesia and then die cut the image using the coordinating die.

The background oval was ink blended using Salvaged Patina, Bundled Sage and Rustic Wilderness and then stamped with the Leaf Canopy set, first with the solid stamps where I combined various shades of green (teal, moss green, forest green) and stamped them twice. The outline coordinating stamp used detail gold embossing powder. I slightly offset the outline image to add a little "artsy-ness."

The front panel is textured a bit using the new "Hanging Vines" 3D embossing folder (which I love!). The freesia image is sandwiched between a couple of layers of heavy cardstock with the floral element staying outside. I've used an oval frame here (from My Favorite Things) which I think makes it pretty.

The front panel is then attached, again with the freesia on the outside of the panel and slightly popped up with dimensional glue dots. The sentiment is from the Altenew Sentiment Strips set and was embossed with detail gold powder. Because there are a few layers of card stock that are underneath the front panel, I also used some cardstock strips below the sentiment as well as the gold metallic cardstock for a little shine. The entire piece is then mounted onto a light orange card base that has a watercolor appearance (which is difficult to appreciate with the narrow rim).

To have a coordinating envelope, I stamped the freesia image in orange ink onto a lighter orange A2 envelope. Here's the card and envelope:

My second card in the "Window" series features the Birds of a Feather layering stamp and dies set. The opening here uses the Soda Pop Dies which I think is much more interesting than just a round window. The background panel behind the focal point uses the Leaf Burst Stencil which I ink blended with Cracked Pistachio, Bundled Sage and Rustic Wilderness. I then sprayed it with an iridescent spray, but it wasn't as sparkly as I wanted it to be, so I used a Perfect Pearls (in the color Perfect Pearl) spray and really liked that. I again built up 3 layers of cardstock to give the card some dimension, as shown here:

The branch was cut to fit the opening so that there wouldn't be bumps behind the cardstock. I chose to offset the leaf burst pattern because I think it makes it look more dimensional to have larger and darker leaves toward the bottom. The front panel was made using a grayish tan card stock that I put through a woodgrain embossing folder and then ran a silver ink and a Distress ink cube in Gathered Twigs across the top so it would just catch the top texture.

The card was assembled by putting the woodgrain panel on the top, adding the bird sitting on the branch and attaching his feet flush to the branch while popping up the top of the bird with foam tape. The photo below allows you to see the pearlescent background. I also used Glossy Accents on the bird's eye to give that shine and dimension.

I added pearls for embellishment in the circle that surrounds the bird as well as on the card and sentiment area. The sentiment (also from the Birds of a Feather set) was stamped on pearlized vellum with Versafine Crimson Red ink and then heat embossed using clear embossing powder. The edges of the woodgrain panel were ink blended with Gathered Twigs and Ground Espresso which I think helps draw the eye to the center of the card, and frames it a bit.

A coordinating envelope used the bird from the Wild Hibiscus stamp set in dark red ink on a red envelope. Here is the finished card:

The third card is a shaker card meant for a Mother (think: Mother's Day or another time you want to honor a mother). I started by stamping one of the Wild Hibiscus flowers onto an acetate panel. This is a bit tricky because acetate wants to hang onto embossing powder, so VERY important here to use an anti-static product and to try to brush off stray particles. Also challenging, even with "heat resistant" acetate to not get some warping. More on this later... After heat embossing, you can color the flower by turning the acetate to the BACK side and using alcohol markers to color in the petals. It looks a little "gloppy" here, but this is much less noticeable (and actually kind of "organic") once the card is assembled.

I chose a rectangular opening for this "window" from a scalloped edge rectangle set from Spellbinders. I thought it made it more feminine and interesting than just a plain rectangle.

I used an embossing folder with a leaf and berry pattern (from Crafter's Companion) on the top panel and added several layers (5) of heavy card stock behind the cover panel. The acetate piece is sandwiched between the top layer and the next "supporting" layer. In my experience, using cardstock layers rather than foam tape provides a nicer, cleaner and sturdier appearance and your shaker elements don't stick to the edges as much. As you can see from this photo that has a bit of "glare," There is some minor warping of the acetate here, but the layers of cardstock that support it help to straighten it out.

The background was made using a pre-printed "watercolor" type of pattern. I used a rectangular piece of "StickIt" double sided adhesive on this in order to apply an iridescent glitter layer that "steps up" the glam and the look of the card.

As you can see, I spared the margin in order to apply double sided tape strips to attach this behind the window opening. This panel was then mounted onto the back of the panel and larger iridescent glitter was added to be the shaker element. The sentiment (also from the Wild Hibiscus set) was heat embossed on raspberry pearlized paper with a magenta colored embossing powder and then mounted on a holographic piece of card stock. I chose not to pop up the sentiment because of the thickness of the card already. Some embellishments were added using small hearts from my stash and Nuvo drops from the Dream Drop set.

Here is the finished card, along with it's matching enveloped, stamped with the same stamp used to make the floral image for the card itself. You can see that the "gloppy" look of the alcohol ink fades away, and the sparkly confetti is able to be seen through the flower. The entire panel was mounted on a card base that has a gradient of pink colors, from light pink (on the left side) to a raspberry pink color on the right.

And the last card in the "Window" series is..... a window of a different sort. This one is a view into a glass vase. The front panel of this card uses one of the Mod Vase dies set in the lower left corner, and stamped with one of the clusters of flowers from the Frosted Garden stamp set. The floral and leaf images are colored in with PrismaColor colored pencils in 2 shades of yellow/orange and 2 shades of green, and the central part of the flowers employs Nuvo drops in Autumn Pearl. The panel was put through the Ribbon Waves 3D embossing folder (which has a water-like feel to it, echoing the water in the vase). A panel of alcohol inked yupo paper serves as the "water" colored in blues, greens and purple. Another panel slightly lifts the front for a little dimension cut with the vase shape. A sentiment (also from the Frosted Garden set) is embossed onto turquoise pearlized paper, backed with heavy cardstock and then decorated with Nuvo "Dew Drops." The "water" in the vase is embellished with Studio Katia drops. The card base has an orange/pink watercolored look. Here are the elements before assembly:

Here is the finished card and it's coordinating envelope:

So if we are presenting the men's card in a brief case, the women need a purse, right?! For this "gift box" I used a template for the body and the flap of the purse from Cricut. I stamped the flap with the Blooming Mandala stamp (the half-circle image) in VersaFine Clair Twilight Blue ink and then heat embossed it with white pearl embossing powder. The small circles on the mandala are filled in with Perfect Pearl drops, and a pearl and gemstone ornament from my stash serves as the clasp for the purse. The body of the purse uses patterned paper from a Recollections "Paradise Palette" paper pad. The flap of the purse has small magnets, one under the inside flap paper, and the other attached to the body of the purse, to hold it closed.

An insert is on the inside of the purse to hold the card and is adorned with coordinating papers.

Here is the finished gift box purse:

* Remember that warning I had for you at the start of this post? Here was my "double exposure" panel where I tried to re-stamp the diamond pattern and found that I was a millimeter off... Oh well, nothing in my "studio" goes to waste, so this will find its way onto some other project.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing my card sets, their gift boxes and the process of making them. I had fun with this challenge and look forward to what comes next!

Happy Crafting!!

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