Inky Fingers, Happy Hearts

Hi Friends!

Oh, what a weekend! It wasn’t the oppressive heatwave or the thunderstorms rumbling through the Midwest that I will remember most though. For I was cool and happy, downstairs in my ‘Paper Garden’ studio all weekend, in the company of papercrafters from across the globe. We were participating in the 5th annual Papertrey Ink Stamp-a-Faire, created by the  talented PTI design team. It felt truly exhilarating to share creative time with so many amazing papercrafters!


On Friday night, I gathered some favorite Papertrey Ink stamps and dies so I would be ready to create very early on Saturday morning. Inspiration for this event came from a wide variety of Master artists. Every two hours throughout the day, a PTI design team member would share a bit of art history and a card making project based on the work of a Master. It was sure to be a day of learning and growing… and creating way beyond my comfort zone!

“Why not go out on a limb?  That’s where the fruit is.”   ~ Mark Twain

Let’s go downstairs to the ‘Paper Garden’… to see what blossomed on my craft table and in my heart over the weekend!

(Be sure to click on the links for wonderful videos about each Master artist and the great techniques they inspired.)

Starry Night

Inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s beautiful paintings of the night sky, Amy Sheffer led us through an amazing process with paper and ink.  I used seven different ink colors to create my nighttime sky. I was fascinated as I watched my inks blend! I gained new insights as I blended dye and distress inks on the same background. Spritzing the background with water created subtle, distant stars and flicking white, acrylic paint added some brighter stars.

Starry Night collage

Next I painted a tree-lined horizon with black ink and added a sentiment over a loose nest of white thread. In a bit of pure magic, the song ‘Vincent’ (by Don McClean) began playing on the radio, while I worked! ♫ Starry, starry night… ♬ How did that happen? Serendipity, for sure! Working on the starry, night sky also brought back such wonderful memories of visiting the Van Gogh Museum, in Amsterdam.


Supplies I used:

Ink: SU Night of Navy; Ranger Distress: Evergreen Bough, Salty Ocean, Spun Sugar, Victorian Velvet, Shaded Lilac, Seedless Preserves; Versa Mark, and black re-inker

Paper:  Canson Watercolor, cold press, 110 lb

Dies & Stamps: PTI ‘Counting My Blessings’ die;  Sentiment stamp: PTI ‘Counting My Blessings’

Also: Neat & Tangled sequins, SU Smoky Slate embossing powder,  heat tool, SU Mini Mister, white acrylic paint, white thread,  Tombow Mono Multi, ink blending tools, paintbrush

Feeling:  Magical! I will never look at a night sky in quite the same way again!


Gilded in Gold

Inspired by trendy, gold embossed stationery and monograms, Danielle Flanders shared her faux gold gilding technique. It was the perfect way to add a bit of sparkle to the morning! I used metallic, gold acrylic paint to add a bit of shine to several bookmarks, hoping that family and friends will feel the a bit of sparkle when they open their mail! The gold paint dried very quickly, didn’t warp the paper, and is really shiny.


Next I created a monogrammed tag. It was fun to combine the simple look of  kraft cardstock with a gilded, scalloped tag shape! I’ve never used acrylic paint on my cards before (even though bottles of acrylic paint sit on a shelf in the ‘Paper Garden’). So, this simple project opened a whole new world of possibilities for me!


Supplies I used:

Paper: Strathmore Bristol Smooth, SU Crumb Cake cardstock, SU Vellum cardstock

Dies & Stamps:  PTI  ‘Tag Sale: Quilted’ die; Spellbinders Nestabilities Scalloped Circle; Monogram: PTI ‘Wet Paint Alphabet Stamps’

Faux Gold Gilding: Plaid ‘Folk Art’ Metallic (Pure Gold) applied with a foam brush

Also: Pop Dots, Tombow Mono Multi, twine, Recollections blue tags

Feeling: Sparkly! Now I’m hooked on adding gilded gold touches!


Floral Impressionism

Inspired by Monet’s beautiful florals, Melissa Phillips shared her white embossing powder technique to achieve a soft, romantic look. Dreamy thoughts of Monet’s garden made me smile. It was fun to watercolor with layers of dye ink over a heat embossed image.


Supplies I used:

Paper: Canson Watercolor, cold press, 110 lb

Ink: SU Pool Party, Daffodil Delight, Wild Wasabi, Blushing Bride, Primrose Petals

Stamps: Wplus9 ‘Spring Blossoms;’ a vintage French script background stamp, Mason Jar (resized)

Dies: PTI ‘Tiny Tags,’ ‘Embroidered Frames: Dots’ die (cut in half)

Also: Ranger ‘Seafoam White’ embossing powder, heat tool, paintbrush, Stamp-a-ma-Jig

Feeling: Joie de vivre! France is always close to my heart! I dream of visiting Monet’s gardens one day!


Pointillism Play

Inspired by the Pointillism technique of painting by applying tiny, individual dots of color, Heather Nichols shared ways of adding dots of color to stamped images.  I heat embossed my floral image to help me stay within the lines. This was a very relaxing way of stamping that gave the stamped image a whole, new look!


Supplies I used:

Paper: Strathmore Bristol Smooth, SU Crumb Cake cardstock, Teresa Collins ‘Fabrications – Canvas’ patterned paper

Ink:  SU Primrose Petals, Daffodil Delight

Dies: PTI ‘Embroidered Frames: Dots’ die

Stamps: Hero Arts flower, PTI sentiment ‘Choose Joy,’ PTI tiny dots ‘Petite Places: A Walk in the Park’

Also: Ranger ‘Seafoam White’ embossing powder, heat tool

Feeling: So relaxed! Stamping tiny dots in the Pointillism style felt like a meditation!

Watercolor Like a Master

Inspired by the watercolor Masters, Kay Miller shared her lovely, watercolor techniques. She is a natural and helped me discover exciting ways to use older stamps in fresh, new ways. Such wonderful inspiration for me!! I will be using Kay’s techniques from now on! I created two cards, using different color palettes.



Supplies I used:

Paper: Canson Watercolor, cold press, 110 lb,  Recollections heavyweight cardstock

Ink:  SU Primrose Petals, Daffodil Delight, Wild Wasabi, Pear Pizzazz, Blushing Bride, VersaFine Onyx Black

Stamps: SU ‘Too Kind’ (flower petals), Wplus9 ‘Spring Blooms’ (foliage). PTI ‘Sentiment Splits’

Dies: PTI ‘Sentiment Splits: Curved’

Also: Scotch Foam Mounting Tape, MISTI, paintbrush

Feeling: Thrilled! I just love discovering a new way to use an old, favorite stamp set!

Color Blocking

Inspired by the graphic designs of Andy Warhol, Lexi Daly shared her technique for using bold, repetitive images to create a graphic design. Since it was well-past midnight, I decided to try this challenge on Sunday afternoon. It was so hard to choose an image. Suddenly, it dawned on me that Color Blocking reminds me of a quilt! Right away, I found the perfect little image to stamp. I chose my deep, rich colors from our Amish quilt hanging upstairs. (Now I know that our Amish quilt is pieced with Not Quite Navy, Raspberry Ripple, Always Artichoke, and Elegant Eggplant!) 🙂

This was my most difficult challenge of all! In fact, it felt like a Math test, as I measured, masked, and mumbled to myself for several hours.


 A simple, color-blocked card with a whole lot of heart…

and the perfect sentiment!

IMG_0949 copy

Supplies I used:

Paper: SU Whisper White cardstock, Crumb Cake cardstock

Ink: Versa Mark, SU Not Quite Navy, Raspberry Ripple, Always Artichoke, Elegant Eggplant, Crumb Cake, VersaFine Onyx Black

Stamps: PTI ‘Quilted Sampler Additions,’  Sentiment: PTI ‘Quilted Summer’

Dies: MFT ‘Wonky Stitch Square STAX Die-namics’

Also: ZING! Clear embossing powder, Tombow Mono Multi, MISTI, Dove Blender Pen, T-ruler, Post-its (and lots of patience!)

Feeling: Relieved! Simple designs can often take the most time!

I still have one more Challenge, inspired by Jackson Pollock‘s drips and splatters of paint, to complete. Lizzie Jones shared great techniques for creating different kinds of spatters and drips. I can’t wait to try this messy technique outside in the garden, on a sunny day. It’s sure to be a fun one!

What an incredible weekend of learning and growing! I’m so grateful for the talents of the entire Papertrey Ink design team.  It was so exciting to blossom using their wonderful seeds of inspiration during Stamp-a-Faire 2016… and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!

Inky fingers can make hearts feel happy ~

the hearts of both the cardmakers and those who receive our handmade kindness!


“It is good to love many things,

for therein lies the true strength,

and whosoever loves much performs much,

and can accomplish much,

and what is done in love,

is done well.”

~ Vincent van Gogh


Paper hugs,


P.S.  Thanks so much for stopping to visit today! What creative things have you been working lately?

Added later… 

P.P.S.   Welcome Papertrey Ink Blog Hoppers!!  I wrote this post to document a wonderful Stamp-a-Faire weekend. After posting, I learned that today was a PTI Blog Hop. More serendipity!!  So happy to meet so many Papertrey Ink friends hopping along… ♡











47 thoughts on “Inky Fingers, Happy Hearts

  1. Amidst the fires and housing evacuees, this was such a lovely way to focus on the positive. You are a blessing to all who know you. Hugs.

    • Oh, Anne! I felt the very same way all weekend. I spent the past three days in my ‘Paper Garden’… away from all of the heartbreaking news of the world. As I worked on cards, I enjoyed a radio station that didn’t report the news or the terrible weather outside. It lightened my heart in so many ways, dear friend! Sometimes we have to create our own happiness! Take extra-good care of yourself and those you love, Anne. Your sweet words always melt my heart! ♡

  2. Oh Dawn, you enjoyed a very productive weekend in your Paper Garden. It’s so nice you are able to work along with all of your talented paper crafters. I love everyone of your gorgeous cards. They are truly lovely works of art! Your patience is quite evident in your loyalty to your craft.
    Your Starry Night interpretation reminds me of our time visiting his inspiration in Arles, France. What a shame his life was so troubled. I do hope and believe his art brought him joy! I too would love to visit Monet’s garden in Giverny. That is another one of those dreams we keep tucked away.
    I do hope you are staying cool in this oppressive heat. It’s now 99 degrees. Thank goodness for air conditioning! ♥

    • Heartfelt thanks, dear Martha Ellen! You always say the sweetest things! It felt so good to be ‘connected’ with other cardmakers, even though I was working all alone in my studio. Sharing our cards online is such a nice way to find inspiration… and inspire others at the same time. Truly a blessing!

      I hope you will click the Starry NIght link to watch the short video about Van Gogh. I know you will enjoy it! His words of inspiration brought tears to my eyes. You are so fortunate to have visited Arles. We visited the Van Gogh Museum in The Netherlands. We must both hold onto our dreams to visit Monet’s gardens one day!!

      Over the weekend, our heat index reached over 115 degrees. It was unbearable outside. So, it was the perfect weekend to play in the Paper Garden! Terrible storms broke finally broke the four-day heatwave last night. Today it is only 87. I’m looking forward to a few days in the garden this week. After several inches of rain, it will be easy to weed the flower and herb beds! Now the heat has moved East to you. Stay cool! Sending huge hugs, Martha Ellen! ♡

  3. I am so impressed with all your paper crafting. I was not aware of all the other sources besides SU for stamping. My only paper crafting is at my SU source. She had a 4 card event yesterday and I was the only one in attendance but we had fun. Until we move to a 2 bedroom apartment, my supplies are in a closet. A 2 bedroom has become available here on the same floor and the model that’s our first choose so we will likely be moving by the end of Sept so that is good news.

    • Hi, Marcia! Thank you so much for your kind words! I started buying Stampin’ Up supplies soon after I retired. That’s when I discovered how friendly and helpful papercrafters are! It helped so much as I planned for and set up my little Paper Garden studio in our basement. Most of my inks are SU and I still rely on so many SU tools. Then I discovered all of the amazing, family-run, stamp companies that manufacture stamps and dies right here in the USA. They have new releases each month, with amazing design teams who inspire and teach on blogs and You Tube. Papertrey Ink is one of my favorites! (Check out the Favorites page at the top of my blog to find links to several that I love.) So, now I try to support these small, independent companies that keep our wonderful hobby growing!

      Marcia, I thought of you over the weekend, while I was crafting. I wondered if you had unpacked all of your stamping supplies from your loft space. I will be so curious to watch how you set up a craft space in your new two-bedroom apartment. I often think about how it will work out when we eventually downsize to a smaller living space. So, you will be my inspiration! 🙂

      You have had an incredibly busy summer so far! I’m so happy to hear that you had a nice, relaxing day of cardmaking with a friend! Thanks so much for taking the time to visit today, Marcia! ♡

    • Heartfelt thanks, Karen! It’s such fun to learn new techniques and grow as a cardmaker. This was a truly wonderful event! Hope you are having a nice summer, Karen! Sending hugs! ♡

    • Hi, Luanne! I think watercoloring is my favorite! I just love the soft, happy feel as the colors mix. Kay’s watercolor technique is really fabulous! So happy that you stopped to visit today, Luanne! ♡

  4. I loved reading your play-by-play of the weekend, and especially liked your “feeling” tags at the end of each post. You certainly had a very productive SAF. You definitely should do more of those watercolor cards a la Kay, because you’re really good at them!

    • Hi, Sandy! Many thanks for your kind words! I was just documenting the Stamp-a-Faire weekend on my blog, and after I finished I learned that there was a blog hop today. More serendipity! I am really looking forward to watercoloring more floral cards very soon. Kay really inspired me! So many more colors to try! Thank you so much for stopping to visit today, Sandy! ♡

  5. Dawn, I went back to the link about Van Gogh and Starry Night. How profound. I feel in my heart that he knew his paintings were of value if only for himself. By the way I love his quote you featured. Thank you for taking me on this little trip into his life. ♥

    • I’m so glad that you had a chance to watch the video. I have watched it twice, with tears in my eyes both times! So many wonderful Van Gogh quotes that it was hard to chose this one. I just listened to my heart… ♥
      Sending cool breezes your way! ♡

  6. Hi Dawn,
    These are very lovely and it is so much fun to create! I have been thinking about you lately lots! And than your post comes to my email. I hope all is going well. I will sen you an “old fashion” email letter to catch you up with all that is new
    Take care my dear friend…I miss you!!
    Keep creating…it is beautiful!

    • Hi, Julie! What a lovely surprise!! I have been thinking of you so often lately, too! Maybe it’s because I have been playing with stamped watercoloring. I just ordered some beautiful iris stamps to use with watercolors. A good,’old-fashioned’ email sounds great.:) I’m looking forward to catching up, too! Can’t wait to hear all about your latest creative passions! ♥ Hope you are enjoying lots of time at the lake this summer! Missing you, too, dear Julie! Sending hugs. ♡

    • Oh, Jacquie! Thank you so much! I’m really enjoying playing with watercolors. It just makes my heart happy! Thank you so much for stopping to visit today! 💗

    • Oh, thank you, Judy! I have always had a passion for paper. Although this color blocked card was stamped, I really do love to ‘piece’ bits of patterned paper to create cards. It’s the closest I can get to creating a “quilt.” I totally admire the amazing work of quilters like you! Fortunately, your works of art are much longer-lasting. We are both so blessed to be able put love, warmth, comfort, hugs, and smiles into our projects. Sharing handmade kindness is such a gift from our hearts!

      Our heatwave finally broke yesterday. I’m looking forward to a busy day in the garden today! I hope the heat hasn’t reached you yet. Sending cool breezes eastward! Thank you, again, for being here, Judy! ♡

    • Heartfelt thanks, Leigh! I just peeked at your beautiful cards from Stamp-a-Faire. Amazing work!! I love the way you used Kay’s watercolor technique with foliage and feathers! I’m truly inspired by your cards. Thanks so much for visiting today, Leigh. Sending sunny thoughts! ♡

    • Thank you so much, Ricky! For two years, I just watched Stamp-a-Faire. The Papertrey Ink design team is really amazing!! I have learned so much from them. This was only my second time to participate and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event! Hope you will think about trying it next year, Ricky. Thank you so much for stopping to visit today. ♡

  7. Fantastic set of cards Dawn. Your starry night card looks wonderful… love the touch of purple/pink there… the gilded pieces look so pretty too. It adds such a nice touch to your tags.

    • Hi, Monika! Heartfelt thanks for your kind words! It was such fun learning new techniques for each card. It made me more aware of all of the different places that we can find inspiration for our layout design, color palette, and embellishments. I will never look at the nighttime sky in quite the same way again. Celebrating the magic of papercrafting and the wonderful people that our hobby brings together! Thanks so much for visiting today, Monika! 💗

  8. I have finally found the time to read and explore your post, Dawn. WOW! You must be feeling a great wave of exhilaration and well deserved sense of accomplishment. I love your cards and admire your talent. We live in such interesting times, don’t we; where we can go down to a paper garden on a steamy weekend and plant, via technology, with like souls from all over?

    I have actually been having some fun making and sharing flower arrangements from the grasses, bee balm, echinacea, daisies and even herbs that are growing in my garden beds.

    • Oh, thank you so much, Penny! It really was an exhilarating day of cardmaking! I work very slowly, so I was always about 1.5 hours behind, as each new technique Challenge began. So my day of cardmaking stretched into two days! It was really fun to post our cards online, sharing the endless ways each Master artist inspired our little ‘works of heart!’ 🙂 We are still happily sharing our cards with one another. My cards from Stamp-a-Faire feel like special souvenirs from a wonderful adventure! Best of all, I am so excited to keep practicing and creating with all of the new techniques! ♥

      What fun to create and share flower arrangements fresh from your garden, Penny! I know your heart must be singing! That’s how I feel whenever I snip blossoms from our garden. Sharing homegrown kindness feels so sweet! I spent time harvesting herbs yesterday afternoon. Oh, the heavenly scent, as I bundled up bunches of rosemary, oregano, and sage. The birdsong and the music of the cicadas accompanied me as I filled my basket with herbs. Now they are hanging from the rafters in the Paper Garden as they dry. Both of my gardens are such a blessing in my life! Wishing you a happy day in the garden, dear Penny! ♡

    • Hi, Lexi! I’m so happy that you stopped to visit! ♥ Your video was so helpful. Watching you gave me the courage to try all of the measuring and masking necessary for color blocking. I survived my Math test… and was happy with my little color-blocked quilt! Thanks for another fabulous Stamp-a-Faire, Lexi! I’m already looking forward to next year’s event! ♡

  9. I think I’m looking forward to this post every year almost as much as you are looking forward to this incredible paper garden weekend. Your cards are stunning. It’s wonderful learning new techniques that you can immediately apply to the things you love: card making. Water color creates a mystical, ethereal wonderful sense of calm. I really want to learn more about it. I took a Ken Oliver class last month and we learned a few techniques using his Color Burst powders and metallic finishes. I long for more time to explore.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    • You say the sweetest things, dear Alys! I think you would love participating in the Stamp-a-Faire next year. The videos by the PTI design team members were so wonderful and inspiring! It felt so amazing to be creating and sharing with card makers from across the globe that day. Such a thrill!

      The Color Burst powders look like great fun, with surprising results every time. So glad that you took a class to experiment with them. Have you read Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert? I’m reading it this week and really enjoying it! I think you would enjoy it too, Alys. It really speaks to our creative hearts! So happy that you stopped by to chat today, Alys! ♡

      • Dawn, I should get on the mailing list so that I know it’s coming and that I’m prepared to set aside the time. My boys are 16 and 19 now, so I can easily set aside this kind of time now, something that was harder to do when they were small.

        Clearly you are in your element. Your creations are gorgeous. I bought some supplies this week to try out embossing. My sister makes cards all year long, and she’s a big fan of embossing. I’ve just never picked it up. So…here I go.

        Thanks, too, for the tip on Gilbert’s book. I’ve just put it in my Amazon cart so that I don’t forget.

      • Yay! It would be such fun to have you join in for Stamp-a-Faire 2017, Alys!! Follow Papertrey Ink so that you can get advance notice. I will try to remind you, as soon as next year’s date is announced.

        Embossing is magical! I will never forget the day I learned how to emboss. I can tell that we are both on the same creative path! 🙂 I think you will really enjoy
        Big Magic! The audio book, read by the author is just wonderful, too. Luckily, I borrowed both the audio book and the book from our library this week. What could be better than having the author read to you while flagging your favorite quotes?

        As always, thank you for your kind words and for joining the conversation here, Alys! ♡

      • Thank you, Dawn. I subscribed to her blog from your helpful link, and had a look around while I was there. I’m smiling at your own discovering of embossing. It’s like magic, isn’t it?

        I should check our library for an audiobook. I forget that they offer them. I’ve had a lot of windshield time this summer taking my son to and from Walden West day camp (he’s a summer day counselor). I could have been enjoying audio books. Head slap!

        I’ll let you know about my foray into embossing. Now I need to carve out some time to play.

      • As you delight in your creativity, Alys, more and more inspiration will come your way! I have taken a bit of time away from my beloved flower gardens to carve out creative hours in my little Paper Garden. It’s all new learning for me… and so much fun!

        Your “windshield time” (great description!) would be perfect for audio books. The suggestion to listen to audio book of Big Magic came to me from one of the most creative people that I follow. So very grateful for her suggestion! Happy reading/listening, Alys! ♡
        P.S. What a great experience for your son this summer as a day camp counselor!

      • Thank you, Dawn! Today I set aside 45 minutes and just “played” with my new embossing powders. I tried a copper one in addition to the colors and love the effect. I used part of a sample book that I made for a class and didn’t worry about making “something”. It was liberating.

        And you are right, my son had a great experience. He was so let down yesterday knowing it was his last day of the season. School starts this Wednesday.

      • So excited for you, Alys! I noticed that Online Card Classes has a new class about embossing called ‘Heat Wave.’ They offer such wonderful classes. So, you might like to take a peek, in honor of back-to-school time! Wishing your son a great school year ahead! Thanks for always being here, Alys! ♡

  10. Nothing quite as gorgeous as a prairie in bloom Dawn! You got some gorgeous photos. I love those hedge apples for fall decorating. I’ve only ran across them once, but now that tree is gone. 😦 All of your rain has made everything simply breathtaking!

    • Hi, Jann! It felt so peaceful to walk along the paths of Midewin. We are so grateful that this prairie is being restored and that the bison are helping the long, slow process! I love to decorate with hedge apples in Autumn, too. The trees are also few and far between here. (A friend knows the location of a ‘secret’ hedge apple tree! 🙂 So she is watching for them.) Wish we could share our rainfall with all of the people affected by the wildfires out west. Thanks so much for visiting today, Jann! Enjoy your beautiful garden! ♡

  11. Oh these creations are beautiful. My dear friend, Linda, creates very personalized and intricate cards from paper that are just a delight to receive. Over the years I have saved every one of them and so I have a gallery for special occasions and holidays that is so personal and pretty.

    A great post and so positive. Thank you for sharing. 🐞

    • Oh, thank you, JoHanna! I learned so many new techniques during the Stamp-a-Faire weekend. You are so fortunate to receive Linda’s beautiful, handmade cards! They truly are gifts from her heart! I promise you that it means the world to Linda to know how much you treasure her cards and display them time and time again! My parents have saved all of my cards over the years and have them displayed on bookshelves, their desks, and their mantel. It’s so nice to see how my cardmaking skills have grown each time I visit! I just love making cards…but my most favorite part is mailing them off to family and friends! Thank you so much for stopping to visit and sharing your wonderful story, JoHanna! ♡

    • Hi,Ericka! It was such a fun day of learning and creating! Blending all of the colors into the night sky was so much fun. I’m definitely going to try it again! So happy that you stopped to visit today. Enjoy these late summer days, Ericka! ♡

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