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… ♡










Creative Spaces…

The work table in my Studio is a busy, creative space!

The work table in my Studio is a busy, creative space!

Hi Friends!

Oh, the joy! Have you felt it, too? The creative process fills your soul and the hours seem to fly by in just moments. A blissful feeling of pure relaxation just carries you away. Those times when your heart sings with joy as you follow your passions! The more time you spend creating, the more energized you feel.

“Being creative is not a hobby,

it is a way of life.”

Along the way, it seemed that each decade in my life, there was a new creative passion for me!  With great fondness, I remember writing poetry in a precious little notebook when I was very young. In my teens, I loved to sew my some of my own clothes, and would spend hours working on embroidery stitches. There will always be a special place in my heart for those denim shirts and jeans that I passionately embellished, with a needle and colorful embroidery floss.

“Creating means living.”

~ Dejan Stojanovic

In my twenties, calligraphy became my creative passion. Spending hours and hours practicing, learning new lettering styles, and mixing my own ink to match the postage stamps on hand-lettered envelopes. Collecting favorite quotations inspired me to hand letter words of wisdom, lovingly matted and framed, and displayed on my walls. Friends would say, “You can get a college education just reading the all of the quotes, as you climb the stairs to Dawn’s apartment.”

“You can’t use up


The more you use,

the more you have.”

~Maya Angelou

As life grew busier, in my thirties, my creative passions took on a more practical flavor. There was endless creativity in my classroom each day, as I strived to meet the learning needs of each young student. Scrapbooks, lovingly created, held our classroom memories of each precious year together. As a new homeowner, with a passion for restoring an old home, I quickly traded my calligraphy pens and inks for a heat gun and scrapers, to restore the woodwork to its original beauty. Flowers and herbs became my ‘ink’ and the garden beds became my ‘paper,’ as I created my cottage gardens. Creative pleasures have brought joy to my days throughout each year.

“Creativity takes courage.”

~ Henri Matisse

Have you felt those creative stirrings that seem to tug on your heartstrings? As the years quickly passed, my need to be creative has grown stronger and stronger. In my ‘Renaissance’ (my special word for Retirement), I have been blessed with more time to explore new creative pastimes. Creating handmade cards, playing with watercolors, and returning to scrapbooking have become new creative joys! I am so excited to explore Art journaling, too!

“Inspiration exists,

but it has to find you working.”

~ Pablo Picasso

Have you ever drooled over amazing Craft Rooms on Pinterest, filled with beautiful, white IKEA furniture? Have you watched the Craft Room Tours on You Tube, with such wonderful storage ideas? There is so much inspiration everywhere! With a great deal of thought and soul-searching, I recently designed a special creative space of my very own. My new papercrafting Studio is just my style ~ simple, old-fashioned, and filled with heart!
It is such a blessing to finally have a real space, dedicated to exploring creativity and being messy! (It’s so much nicer than all of the years I spent working at our dining room table!)  My Studio is not fancy at all… but it feels just perfect! Each day, when creative inspiration strikes, I brew a cup of hot tea and happily head downstairs. It’s chilly in our unfinished basement, but my heart is warmed whenever I walk into my Studio.  I am inspired by the dried flowers and herbs from my garden hanging from the ceiling rafters. Vintage wooden boxes, crocks, and Mason jars hold craft supplies. The furniture, collected over time, holds very special memories for me. A favorite rag rug adds color and warmth. My Studio just feels ‘right’ with the perfect blend of old treasures and lots of new supplies!

The steamer trunk, that held my grandfather’s most important treasures as he moved from Ireland to America so long ago, now stands in the corner of my Studio.

Daylight bulbs in all of the lamps and happy hours spent crafting fill the space with ‘sunshine’ each time I plan a ‘crafternoon’ in the Studio. My favorite, lively music adds to the creative energy. I keep a special journal on my work table to hold a long list of the handmade cards I’ve sent to family and friends, near and far. The ink is barely dry, as I slip the cards into envelopes and mail them off, sending messages of love and happy thoughts.


A special red, white and blue box holds handmade cards that will be sent to our deployed military heroes across the globe, through the wonderful organization, ‘Operation Write Home.’  Only the most special cards are added to this box, for they will let our military members and their families know how much we truly appreciate their service and sacrifice… for all of us!

Another favorite, my ‘Inspiration Box,’ holds brand new supplies. Placing my newest stamps, dies, embossing folders, ink, and embellishments in the ‘Inspiration Box’ reminds me to play with them!  After I use these new supplies once or twice, they will be placed in their storage containers. Hopefully, I will remember to use them often as I create.

Whenever I begin a new project, I look in my ‘Inspiration Box’ first, as a reminder to try some new supplies!

Take time to do

what makes your soul happy!

I would love to hear about your favorite creative space!

Is it a rocking chair near a sunny window where you knit? Is it a sewing room stocked with colorful fabric? Is it your busy kitchen filled with your favorite cookbooks? Is it a craft room overflowing with supplies? Is it a loft with a quilt frame and baskets of fat quarters? Is it a sunporch with an easel and a paint palette? Do you find your creative inspiration in peace and quiet, listening to birdsong through an open window, with your favorite music playing, while watching TV, or listening to audio books?  Do you typically craft alone or with a group of friends? Is your creative space neat and tidy or super messy at the moment?

Celebrate your creative life

and all of the joy it brings!

{via Pinterest}

Create something wonderful today!

♡ Dawn