Monday, November 30, 2009

Lots of little Christmas Trees!

I have been making lots of Christmas cards - trying out all sorts of different styles.  I thought I'd start posting some of them since it will be December tomorrow (how did that happen?).

In October, I wrote about some design inspiration and the Nordic red/white look (here is a LINK to that post).  I was working on a new card design and realized that it would look great in plain red and white.

Here is the basic cut of the card.  I actually started out to make a border and then began moving things around and built this pyramid of trees.  I use the circle feature for the tree to make the borders and then just continued using that element, hiding the circle contour to make the tree shape from the trees.

In this screen shot you can see how I altered the tree shape by stretching to make the trees fit the typical A2 card front.  The trees look a bit odd because there are two layers on top of one another (I had to do this in order to make the circle stay hidden when the file was closed and reopened - here is a LINK to a post explaining how to do this).

 This preview shot shows the finished file as it will cut.  I hate to waste paper so I filled the extra space with two cuts of the original border I designed.

The file will work for a 6 x 12 mat - if you have an Expression you can simply turn the mat and do a second cut on your 12 x 12 paper to get two cards and four borders.

 This is the basic card cut from lightweight red cardstock and layered over a plain white A2 card.

Adding some pen stitching will make the card more interesting (I must have been tired when I did this - it is rather uneven - I'll just call it "homespun charm"!).

The border looks nice on a simple white card - these would make useful notecards for the holidays.

I used a glue pen to dot adhesive on the solid parts of the border - you have to be careful about tape runners with all of the tiny cut outs.

I decided to try adding another paper to make some more variations of the card.  I found this paper last fall at Tuesday morning reduced to $5.99.  It has great bold graphic designs for a modern Christmas look.

I cut a piece at 8.25 x 4.25 inches to form a liner.  Since the paper is one sided there will be a nice white surface for the message inside the card.  I adhered the liner to the front of the card and left the back unattached.

I like the way the stripes fit these trees - they almost look like trees with layers of snow on the branches.  I added a dot of yellow Stickles glitter glue to the stars at the top of each tree.

I used another border for this card.  I added a layer of the same red cardstock cut to 5.25 x 4 inches and then layered another piece of the green and white striped paper cut to 5 x 3.75 inches.

Here are the two cards that used an additional paper.

These are the cards that have only red and white (the original concept).

There are many more variations possible with this simple pattern.  Adding more layers and colors will change the look.  You could also add some sentiments or additional  images (cut or stamped).

Christmas Tree A2 card and borders

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Birthday Candle Card (take two)

Here is another birthday candle border card.  This is my test cut of the A2 size card I wrote about yesterday.  I used the Christmas solutions cartridge to create the border.  For this border the candles can be made proportionately taller than the candles on the Hanukkah menorah on the Joys of the Season cartridge that I used a few days ago.

I cut the card base from this piece of 12 x 12 cardstock from the DCWV Sweet Stack.  I saved the apple border for another project.  I was able to cut two 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 card bases for two A2 cards.

Here is the card topper cut.  I decided to emboss the rectangular section.  I did put a page in the file to create a layer so you have the option to add that if you like.  I also changed the file so that you can cut the pieces using only the Christmas cartridge.  (The file does have some George rectangles for the preview guideline rectangles but you don't need to cut those pages).

I embossed the rectangle with a new Cuttlebug folder I got recently from Oh My Crafts (here is a LINK to the folder set on their site - it is an exclusive set).

Here are the card components.  The Happy Birthday sentiment is from ZooBalloo.  You can use a sentiment from any cartridge that you want - I will just show you how I adapted this one to suit the card.

The screen shot shows the location of the "Happy Birthday" sentiment.

I wanted the words welded together vertically to fit on the card topper.  Once again, "hide selected contour" is useful for altering images like this.

I simply placed two of the phrases on the mat, aligned them in the position I wanted and checked "weld" on both images.  Then I hid  all of the parts of the words I did not want to cut.  They are very pale blue in the screen shot above.

Here is one more close view of the candle border.  I used yellow Stickles to highlight the flame tips.  I wonder if I can find some more candles to make borders...

Birthday Candle Border A2 card topper

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another Candle Border

Yesterday I shared a candle border created from the Hanukkah menorah image on the Joys of the Season cartridge.  (Here is a LINK to that post).  Today I designed another candle border.  I had planned to post a different project tonight however, I found these candles on the Christmas solutions cartridge and decided to try them for a smaller card (A2 size).

This screen shot of the keypad shows the location of the candle image.  There is one tall and one short candle which will result in an alternating pattern (instead of the four - one - four pattern of the Hanukkah menorah).

Here is a closer view of the image.  I decided to use "hide selected contour" on the inner part of the flame since the candles would be very small in the border.  Since there are two lines to hide, they will stay hidden when the file is closed and reopened.

If you look closely, you will see that I hid the final short candle to get a more finished look (and an odd number of candles).  There are 21 candles so this would be great for a milestone birthday card.

The candles are welded to a rectangle.  I used a rectangle from the George cartridge - there is not a simple rectangle cut on the Christmas cartridge (though I did find one that I can use if I do some more hidden contours).  You can substitute any rectangle from a cartridge you own if you don't have George.

The weekend has been busy here - I hope you all have been having a nice holiday.  Our son is leaving to go back to college tomorrow morning.  I didn't get a chance to test cut this file today, so I will post the file as soon as I have tested the cut.

It is always fun to find new ways to use the images on the cartridges.  Design Studio can help you to create the cuts that you need (and save you money on punches too!).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Birthday Candle Border

I have been using my seasonal cartridges a lot lately.  One of my favorites is Joys of the Season.  This was a new cartridge when I first got my Cricut.  I "had to have it" and I paid more than I am willing to pay now that I am older and wiser about cartridge pricing.  I don't regret it at all - there is so much on this cartridge and I keep finding new ways to use the images.

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I like using border punches and have accumulated quite a collection of them.  I know there are several available that punch birthday candle borders but I don't have any of these.  My shelves are starting to run out of room.  I found a way to make a quick candle border by using the Hanukkah menorah on Joys of the Season.

I used three menorahs and moved them into position so the candles were evenly spaced. The menorahs are not welded to each other but are welded to a rectangle.  I used a 6.5 inch wide rectangle and a guideline rectangle for a 5 x 7 card to create a card topper.  I didn't want to make the candles much smaller so I did not make a topper to fit an A2 card.  You could use only two menorahs to make a topper to fit nicely on the A2 size but I just have this thing about odd numbers!

There are a few extra pages in the file so you can play with the colors in preview.  The actual topper is cut from the first page and the "happy birthday" sentiment from A Child's Year is cut from the second page of the file.  If you don't have A Child's Year you could use another cartridge with the phrase or weld your own sentiment to fit the card.

I cut the "happy birthday" from glitter cardstock using multi cut 2 for a clean cut.  I also decided to cut an extra layer for contrast to form the "cake" on the card.  This optional layer is not in the file - just cut a piece of paper or cardstock to 6.5 x 3.75 inches.  I made the card base from a piece of yellow cardstock cut to 7 x 10 inches, scored and folded in half.


A tiny bit of yellow Stickles glitter glue lights up the candles.  When you add the Stickles you should work on a scrap paper and then lift the cut and check to be sure that the glitter is only on the flame area.  Let it dry on a non stick surface like a craft mat if possible.

I inked the edges of the "cake" with brown ink to hide any white core that might show.  The colors are not my usual choices and for some reason they did not photograph very well but the card is bright and sparkly in person!

Thanks to all of you who left comments or emailed me about my 500th post - I really appreciate hearing from you and I am blushing from some of the lovely messages and compliments (and yes, the housecleaning often does lose in the competition for my time!)

Birthday Candle Border

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Post Number 500

About a week ago I realized that my post on Thanksgiving would be the 500th post on my blog.  This seems like a milestone event, so I'd like to take a look back at the last couple of years.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  I will be having another "blog celebration" with some gifts very soon - I want to wait until after the holiday weekend.

I got my first Cricut (an Expression) just about two years ago.  I immediately started collecting cartridges.  The Design Studio software was a Christmas gift from my husband in 2007 (well, he did have a little "help"!) and I opened it up and installed it in late January.  I quickly found out that I really enjoyed using the software and started creating my own designs.  I started this blog in February, 2008 as a way to share my designs with fellow Cricut users.

The Design Studio software was gradually improved and I figured out how to make more complicated designs.  Updates added features which greatly expanded the creative potential of the program .  The up and down nudge arrows made it possible to create "adjustable" designs (not quite grouping but an improvement).  Welding inside an existing frame or silhouetted shape made more interesting designs possible. The "Hide Selected Contour" option was added - one of my favorite and most used design tools.

I found that I enjoyed writing about my creative process and helping other people to learn how to use the software to accomplish their design goals.  I started to post some items about other types of projects and occasionally about personal and family events as well but I remained primarily focused on Cricut and the Design Studio.   Last January I made a resolution to post on my blog every day in 2009 and I am on track to complete this resolution (I haven't missed a day yet this year!).  I have been honored to be asked by Provo Craft to preview/review cartridges, to have some of my creations featured in the "Chirp" newsletter and to be on several Design Teams.  The Gypsy was a recent addition to my crafting toolbox and I have been exploring the possibilities it adds to help me achieve new types of designs.

There are so many wonderful people that I have met through my blog, the Cricut message board and the online classes I have taught.  Most of you are "virtual" friends, but I have had a chance to meet a few of you in person.  As the year draws to a close I have been thinking about what to do next and I have some exciting plans for the new year.  I hope some of you will join me - watch for more details coming soon.

There have been many challenges along the way and I am sure there will be more to come.  I have learned so much about computers, the internet and new techniques. It all fascinates me and I have had some trouble maintaining balance between my crafting obsessions and "real" life however, in the end,  "It's all good!" - as  the framed  piece above says!

Thanks to all of you who subscribe and follow my blog.  It is quite a responsibility to realize that there are so many people looking for their daily email from me - it helps to keep me committed and busy creating.

I hope you had a great day - I will be back with a "normal" post tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Some Thanksgiving Deals - direct from

 Well - the day was far busier than I thought it would be so there was no time to make a video.  I did get a lot of preparations finished for tomorrow - including five pies!

I want to make sure you know that there is a great deal on cartridges available directly from Provo Craft on the site.  I just ordered three cartridges (Designer's Calendar, When It's Cold Outside and Stamping Solutions) for a total of $75.98 with free shipping!  Full cartridges are $36 and solutions and mini cartridges are $19.99.  Most cartridges are available (but not the exclusive or bundled cartridges).  Pagoda, Dinosaur Tracks and Old West are some of the most recent cartridges listed that are available now.

Just go to the Products section of the site (here is a LINK) and do some easy Black Friday shopping - starting right now (the offer is good from November 26 - December 1, 2009).  The Jukebox and Design Studio were both listed at $20 but are showing out of stock right now - with luck they may be replenished before the sale is over....

I hope you have a wonderful holiday and much to be thankful for.

The file for the Happy Thanksgiving with the detailed welded turkey is available to download

Turkey Happy Thanksgiving (with details)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Many of us will be very busy with Thanksgiving preparations tomorrow.  I had a long drive home today and I am too tired to make a lengthy post tonight.  The visit with my Dad was great and I am so thankful that our family was together to celebrate his birthday - as he told me when I left, he is now in his 86th year!

The Thanksgiving image above was made by welding the turkey from My Community to the "Happy Thanksgiving" phrase from Wild Card. If you look closely you will see that the "webbing" or detail lines are cut on the turkey.  Normally these lines disappear when items are welded but you can get them to cut by using "hide selected contour."  I have explained this before on my blog (here is a LINK to an old post and a LINK to the follow up post).

In between baking and last minute food shopping tomorrow, I will try to get a video showing this method of preserving the details in welded cuts posted.  Many people have told me that they find these videos very helpful and easier to understand than a long words and pictures post.

Good Luck with all of your last minute preparations (and with planning your purchases for the Thanksgiving sales!)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vine Frame resized with the Gypsy

This is the frame that I adapted using the Gypsy a few weeks ago.  (Here is a LINK to the post about my first attempts to group some of my older files).  I had several  requests for the resized file.  Just to clarify any confusion, you can bring the file into the Gypsy and then group and resize it but when you move the file back to Design Studio at the new size it will not remain "grouped."

The original frame was created to fit on a baby bug mat so I used George along with ZooBalloo to make the frame.  The photo above shows the original frame at 5.5 inches square. 

You do have to be very careful when revising files.  As you can see in this photo, when I grouped and resized the frame I made a slight error in the placement of one side (at the top of this photo).  The Gypsy screen is very sensitive and I imagine I moved the bar out of alignment and did not notice it since I was excited about grouping and resizing my old design.

This screen shot shows the errors created by having the one bar out of alignment.  I have fixed the file so that this bar is now in the correct position.  Please let me know if you have any problem cutting the file.
You will notice that the small version of the frame is in an odd position on the mat.  You can just place your paper (a piece large enough to cut the frame) in that area of the mat.  When I get home, I will do a quick video to explain how to move the entire frame to a more logical spot (a spot that would work for the 6 x 12 mat).  I will also show how to change out the George rectangles with Plantin Schoolbook rectangles if you do not have the George cartridge.

I will be heading back home tomorrow - collecting our younger son from college along with two friends who also need to get to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving.  I have been trying to answer emails and approve comments when I can, but I know that some have been missed - I'll try to catch up at some point over the Thanksgiving weekend.  Safe travels to any of you who will be on the road for the holiday weekend.

Vine Frame

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A new discovery!

 Do you love Legos?  Do you have kids that love Legos?  Are you looking for something new to do with the Legos?  Today I found out about an amazing new product!  Thanks to my younger son for letting me know about this.

Here is a LINK - the site is in Japanese, but you can get the idea from the photos.

Oh, the creative possibilities.....  I see some interesting Cricut/Lego projects in my near future!

(I am using my Dad's computer.  I think this may be the first post I've made with no photos.   I'll add one when I get home - we have lots of Legos!)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

TicTac Toe swap

My friend Kay comes up with all sorts of ideas for swaps - here is the latest.  We were to make tic tac toe squares on 4 x 4 inch bases.  A lot of the people in the swap group had been involved in many "inchie" swaps and had many little 1 x 1 creations that needed to be used for something!  Unfortunately, the 1,000 inchie swap I participated in seems to have fizzled and I have never received the 1,000 swap inchies (here is a LINK to the post where I showed my inchies). 

I created a .cut file for the grids - it is adjustable so I can make the board in any size.  Unfortunately, after I cut the frames, the file corrupted and I need to test the back up file before I post it (so look for it next week (after I am home again)  if you are interested).

The variety of the tic tac toe creations was amazing.  Here is a LINK to Kay's blog where you can see all of them.  She also has some creative ways to use them so be prepared to spend some time browsing!

The weekend has been lovely - the weather is great and it is so nice to be with all of the family.  Here is my Dad with his cake - we had a lovely party tonight and it will be hard to say goodbye as some of the family starts heading back home tomorrow.  I'll be here at Dad's for another couple of days and then will drive back, stopping to pick up our younger son and a few friends as we head home for Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Your Story and Cricut Design Challenge

Would you like to win a fully loaded Gypsy?  Do you have a Cricut and a Your Story machine?  You should enter a project in the Cricut/Your Story Design Challenge.

The Grand Prize is worth $6,000.  Two runners up will win 10 cartridges of their choice.  The deadline is 6:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time on November 29, 2009.

Here is a LINK to the contest information.  You can see a sample project and read the rules - and then get creative!  Good luck to everyone who enters.

We have been in six states today!  The driving was good and it is great to be here with all of my siblings and my Dad.  Tomorrow is the official Birthday Dinner - we had a nice meal here at Dad's place tonight.  One of my Dad's friends offered to take a family photo after dinner so here we are - still in our travel clothes but having a great time!

(the photo at the top is a sneak peek at something coming soon - you'll be surprised to find out how I made it!)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New cartridges added to Design Studio

Updates were made available for the Design Studio and the Gypsy today.  The Paisley, Sweet Treats, Batman and Superman cartridges have been added to the software.  The Batman and Superman cartridges are not yet available but it will be fun to preview them.  I have downloaded the updates and they were quick and easy to do.  Here is a LINK to the message board post with the information about the updates.

I haven't had time to experiment with Sweet Treats in Design Studio yet but a few days ago I tried cutting the cupcake holders.  In this photo you can see the cupcake holder from the Sweet Treats cartridge cut in several sizes.  As I mentioned in my review (here is a LINK to that post), the cupcake holder is identical on all 50 keys.  Such a missed opportunity!

The tiny holder is from my first trial cut.  I thought that a cupcake holder should be about 3 inches high so I set the dial on the machine for 3" (completely forgetting that the dial setting would determine the size of the entire unfolded cut - I really should use the Cricut without Design Studio more often!).  These would be cute for truffles or other candy.

The large holder is the size produced by using "fit to page" on the 12 x 12 mat.  It is about the size of a strawberry basket.  I wanted to "dress it up" a bit so I used one of my new Martha Stewart punches (floral vine) on the edges before I assembled the holder.

The third holder seems to be "just right" - it was cut using 8 inches as the dial size.  The sides end up at about two and a half inches with a three inch base.  Now that we can work with the shapes in Design Studio,  I think I will try to make some variations with interesting designs cut into the holders.

I made a quick trip to Michael's today.  I went to the second store that is near my home and found some different items.  If you have a Michael's store nearby, you should know that the Halloween/Fall items are 90% off.  At that price I couldn't resist getting this turkey dinner pop up punch ($1.59) - now I have to figure out what to use it for...  Each time I have been to Michael's lately I have met someone with a Cricut - so here is a quick shout-out to Judy and Janet.   I hope we can get together sometime soon!  (It is always fun to meet fellow Cricut fans).

We leave for my Dad's birthday celebration tomorrow morning.  It will be a great reunion with my sisters and brother to celebrate Dad's 85th!  I have a lot of projects going on in addition to the birthday preparations but most of them are "secret" right now.  You should see the mess in my studio!

I am still trying to locate any missing emails - if you sent me a note or question and I haven't responded please try again.  Thanks also to a few of you who sent me awards - I will be posting those soon.

Good luck planning your "Black Friday" shopping now that the ads are becoming available - it sounds like there are lots of bargains to be had!