Saturday, December 10, 2016

turn a tree into a FOREST!

i love dies. i know, i know, most people love stamps and just consider dies a sort of adjunct, but i really like the dies themselves. there are just so many possibilities: you can cut the same shape from patterned paper, vellum, text paper, glitter paper, a collage of ALL of those... or, as i mentioned the other day, you can cut them from colorburst essperiments! even the "unsuccessful" ones you didn't especially like on their own, take on a whole new life! but today, in addition to making pretty die cut shapes, i want to talk about using your dies to make a cool BACKGROUND. like these:

the best part is that this is SUPER-easy, and you probably already own all the stuff you'll need; i've used colorburst pigment powders and ken oliver crafts' liquid metals for my coloring elements, but you could easily swap out and use your favorite inks... even water based markers, scribbled onto something shiny and picked up with the sponge dabber!

1. diecut a tree 
mine is memoy box's "marvelous pine" and it's cut from watercolor paper, but use what you have! place the "negative" of the tree on your background, just like you would with any other stencil. consider where you want to place the trees before you get started. i like stencilled trees to be at the edges of the card, so the diecut one can have the center, later. i also like to let the trees go "off the edge" a bit, and to vary the heights of the trees.
(ps: at the side of the frame you can see that i have the lid of a jar a dark spot in it... that's actually a very small amount of lime colorburst and a few drops of water; i mention it b/c it's integral to step two.)

2. apply your lightest shade of green
use a sponge dabber to put an uneven coat of pretty wet, pretty light lime colorburst through the "stencil". you'll notice my trees are quite sketchy and not filled in... that's intentional... you want there to be some "space" for the second color.

3. apply a darker shade of green
replace the stencil over your mostly dry light green sketchy trees, don't worry about lining it up perfectly, the looser your trees are, the better they'll look! you can use the same sponge dabber, this time it'll pick up a tiny bit of pthalo colorburst with a few drops of water. try to place your darker color mostly in the BLANK spots, rather than on top of the light green, but don't worry about it too much...

4. apply an optional third shade of green
for this, you want an even smaller quantity of wet media. i literally used about 6-8 drops of verdi gris liquid metal, and i didn't bother to replace the stencil, just dabbed it randomly in 10-12 spots towards the center of each tree, using the edge of the sponge dabber.
(think "shadows" here... the darkest ones are going to be where the branches overlap, nearer to the trunk; but again, don't fuss... this is going to add sheen more than color and it will look cool no matter what, i promise!)

5. add the (optional) sky
you can see in the photo at the top of the post that i don't always bother to make my sky blue, and the cards are still cool, but since i was shooting the step-by-step of this, i decided to get fancy, lol.  in this case i've used seriously no more than 9 grains of cerulean colorburst and 3 drops of clear water, and i've used a biggish paint brush to move the color around my BONE DRY TREES. if you're feeling nervous about adding another wet element, you can substitute some pale blue water-based ink applied with a clean sponge dabber... ranger's tumbled glass distress ink works really well!
(you can see that my background paper wrinkled slightly from the application of the watercolor; it smoothed out when i used the heat gun to dry the panel. occasionally a panel will decide NOT to smooth out entirely, in which case i either iron it on the back-- with a piece of blank paper between my work and the iron; or carefully stick it to a piece of cardstock coated with gluestick; OR, just sew it to my card anyway and not worry about it!) 

6. add modeling paste snowflakes (if you want)
mine are composed of dreamweaver's white crackle embossing paste, and were applied through a tim holtz snowflake stencil. it's really crucial that your panel is BONE DRY before you begin, or the modeling paste may actually absorb some of the wet color. to speed up the process, you can use a heat gun. once the front of your panel is dry to the touch, i recommend turning it over and drying the back as well. especially if you're using watercolor paper... which has longer fibers in it, that sort of soak up the water...

 et voila!
the panel is done, but yes, there are a few more steps to make it into a card. i wound up trimming the sides of my panel a bit, so it would fit on a finished 5x7" card. but first, i overlapped two pieces of torn white glitter paper to act as as "snowy hills" at the bottom of the card. i gave the hand-painted diecut tree pride of place; after inking the edges with a slightly darker shade of green, i popped it up with some little slivers of strategically place foam tape. finally, i diecut a couple of sweet impression obsession deer. i sewed my entire panel to a rectangle of soft blue patterned paper, mounted it on a kraft A7 card... and it was VOILA for real this time: 

i hope you'll be inspired to look at your dies and punches with new eyes, and use them as stencils... or maybe in other ways i haven't even thought of yet? (in which case, be sure to zap me a link, k?!) ♥♥♥

i'm jumping in with the simon says stamp wednesday challenge blog's "ice inspiration" this week, having used many of the elements (though not quite all the colors) on their gorgeous mood board:


  1. Wowza (note to self, need Marvelous Pine) ... I love all of the designs and layers in your beautiful scene ... absolutely lovely.

  2. Excellent tutorial! Gorgeous cards!

  3. Such a fun and creative set of cards!

  4. Love love these cards. Great information too. That die is a goodie!.

  5. Awesome card, fab. tutorial I love that pine tree.

  6. I just love how you did the mask here, brilliant! And the 3D result is gorgeous, amazing inspiration! Hugs, Autumn

  7. Beautiful card. I love the depth and layers you get with this technique. Thanks for the step-by-step instructions and photos!

  8. Wow! These are beautiful!! Wonderful work!

    Thank you very much for joining us this week at the Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge Blog!



the *BEST* part of blogging is the comments, dontcha think? thanks for taking time to leave one! ~♥~