Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Simple Beaded Bracelet in Water Hues with Charm

We'll be making these simple beaded bracelets for our first MOPS craft this year. Our theme is PLUNGE! (as in, take the plunge, dive in head first...). 
I'm sharing it here because it would also make a great Girl Scouts craft or Girls Night Out craft, and it can be easily adapted for different themes or colors.

Since PLUNGE is a water theme, I was inspired to use water hues and picked mostly beads that are transparent.  I even found some that were shaped like little shells.  I added some metal beads for more variety and finished it off with a charm.  I bought starfish charms, but I also got some inspirational word charms (love, faith, friend, grace, etc.) in case some people dislike the look the of the starfish.  I purchased all of the beads at and the Stretch Magic bead cord at our local Michaels craft store (about $2.49 for 5 meters of .7mm).

Supply List
(Enough to make 48 bracelets)

2 pkg Nugget Word Charms--$7.25 each
2 pkg 7mm Silver Tone Dotted Barrels--$4.25 each
3 pkg Winter Colors Bead Assortment--$7.99 each
1 pkg Metal spacer bead assortment--$16.00
4 pkg 8mm Clear Cut Glass Crystal beads--$5.50 ea
4 pkg 12mm Blue/Aqua Shell Glass beads--$6.25 ea
1 pkg Silver tone Metal Starfish Charms--$6.25 ea

Plus 4 packages of the Stretch Magic cord @ $9.56
I used the .7mm cord because the 1mm cord is too thick to go through some of the beads and the .5mm cord is so thin that it sometimes breaks when tying it off.

Total was $125.78 divided by 48 finished bracelets comes out to about $2.62 per bracelet.

To make bead kits:
I pre-package little kits to make it easier, although it's a bit time-consuming.  You could just put the beads into separate bowls with a note next to each one of how many to take.  Then let the women go through the line with a bag or dixie cup and get their own.  However, I've noticed that some people will take more of one kind of bead and none of a color they don't like.  Then you run out of those colors and the last few people through the line end up with leftovers.

Put into each bag:
  • Grab 48 snack size baggies.
  • Sort all of the metal beads by type.  Select 4 different styles of the metal beads and put 2 of each style in the bag for a total of 8 metal beads.  I tried to mix it up (4 barrel, 4 round kind).  If you put all barrel style in the same bracelet it changes the length and is too long.
  • 2 small white beads, 2 large white beads
  • 2 small aqua beads, 2 large aqua beads
  • 2 small blue beads, 2 large blue beads
  • 4 clear crystal beads
  • 4 shell beads (2 with aqua stripe, 2 with royal stripe)
  • one charm (word or starfish)
  • 10-12 inches of Stretch Magic cord
  • An Instructions Card (see below)  Download FREE instructions pdf
 Get crafty with your group this week.  ENJOY!  ~Sarah

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Going, Going, Gone!

On Monday, April 15th, Stampin' Up! released their annual list of retiring stamps. It's always a bitter sweet thing for me.  On the one hand, I can barely wait for it to be revealed, and I feel a sense of urgency to get the ones that have been sitting on my wish list before it's too late.  On the other hand, it means that a bunch of new sets are coming out soon, and I am super excited to see what's in store for us. 
I have to admit, I was bummed to see some of my favorite stamp sets on the list this year.  As a special tribute to these wonderful stamp sets, I thought I would feature a few of my favorites right here over the next few weeks. I'm going to begin with two of my Christmas favorites.

Season of Joy

Why do I love this set?  It think it's one of the most versatile Christmas sets I've seen.  It comes with 8 stamps that all look great together, but they are different enough to create multiple styles of cards that will each have a unique feel.  I can use this set to create Christmas cards several years in a row, and most people would probably never realize that I was using the same set over and over.  I feel like I get more value for my dollar, and I never get tired of experimenting with these fun designs. 
Here are just a few of the cards I've made with this set.  The one to the right features the poinsettia flower.  I added ribbon to give the impression on leaves and used the Eyelet Trim Border punch to carry the dots from the flowers down into other elements. 
I used Cherry Cobbler Dazzling Details to add some shimmer to the center of the flowers (it's hard to capture the shimmery effect on camera, but it adds a little extra bling that really makes the poinsettias "pop."  The repetition of the flower makes such a dramatic statement and the overall color scheme has a charming, vintage feel.
For the next card, I borrowed one of my go-to layouts that I absolutely love, (used previously on an autumn card).  There are a few subtle differences.  The brown swirls at the bottom right are new and help balance the visual "weight" of the ribbon bunch in the opposite corner.  I've removed the rustic-looking natural hemp twine and used a shiny gold paperclip to attach the ribbons instead.  The center of the poinsettia flowers is accented with Cherry Cobbler Dazzling Details.  The snowflake is accented with the clear Dazzling Details, and the star on the tree is actually embossed with gold embossing powder.  Again, it's hard to see the details in the photo to the right, so I've added a close-up below to show you how these tiny details add up to big results.

The last card is has a layout that I borrowed straight out of the Stampin' Up! catalog.  I like it because it's deliberately more simple, which allows me to reproduce multiple copies quickly and easily. It's just right for those us who try to make handmade Christmas cards every year and have a lot of people on our list.  The most time-consuming part of this card is cutting out the stamped Christmas tree images.  To speed up production, stamp one tree onto thick cardstock or a tagboard and cut it out leaving a generous 1/8" border around the outside edge.  Use that as your template and trace out a bunch of trees onto an 8.5 by 11 inch sheet of Very Vanilla cardstock, filling it with as many trees as possible.  Grab two more blank sheets of Very Vanilla and stack them with the first sheet.  Hold the paper tightly and
cut through all 3 pieces at the same time. You'll get three trees for the work of one.  Next, stamp the tree image using Old Olive ink onto each of the paper cut-outs by lining it up carefully.  I used Whisper White craft ink and Versa-mark watermark ink to create the snowflakes in the background.  The Real Red and Old Olive paper is textured for added variety, and I attached Very Vanilla 1/4 inch grosgrain ribbon to finish it all off.  If desired, add a gold embossed star or a star-shaped gold brad to the top of one of the trees for a little bling.  Stamp your favorite sentiment on the inside of the card and you're done!

Honorable Mention:  Four the Holidays
Another retiring Christmas set that I can't live without is called "Four the Holidays" and it features four simple Christmas greetings in beautiful fonts.  I used them to make gift-card holders this past season, like the one shown below.

If you've fallen in love with Season of Joy and Four the Holidays and want to add them to your collection, they are still still available, while supplies last.  You can visit my website to find out more information.  Be sure to check out the full list of retiring stamps. Hurry! They are going, going, (soon to be) gone!
Happy crafting!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What to do with leftover spinach dip?

I made a double-batch of spinach dip for a party recently.  I use the recipe from Knorr, which is usually printed right on the back of the box of their dry vegetable soup packets.  I omit the optional water chestnuts, and I usually add in 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese.  It's delicious.  Sometimes I add a can of artichokes and/or stir in some softened cream cheese for an even richer treat.  However I decide to make it, I serve the dip with pumpernickel bread, or cubed white bread, or tortilla chips.  It makes a wonderful pretend-like-we-are-eating-healthy alternative to fried appetizers.  I mean, at least there's a leafy green vegetable somewhere inside there, and if you eat enough, perhaps it will even fulfill one of your required daily servings.  (I'm not going to comment on the number of calories that the sour cream and mayo add on there, besides, you can always buy the light versions of those). 

Anyway, this time the amount was way too much for the number of people who attended the party.  I ended up bringing home about half, which is about the same amount as one normal sized batch.  My kids aren't real crazy about spinach to begin with, and they especially won't eat it when it's combined with "slimy" things like mayo and sour cream.  I'd been eating away at it, little by little, but I still had a lot left.  My mother taught me never to waste food, so I had to put my creative chef hat on and figure out what to do with all that leftover spinach dip...

I took the "use what you already have" approach and looked in the fridge.  I had a can of Pillsbury Grands homestyle biscuits, some leftover Tyson Grilled & Ready fully cooked diced chicken breast (also from the party), a brand new block of mozzerella cheese, some cheddar and some parmesan cheese.  So, I came up with the idea to make Chicken & Spinach pizza, and it turned out pretty well. 

Here's the recipe:

Sarah's Chicken & Spinach Pizza (using leftover Spinach Dip)

1 can Pillsbury Grands homestyle biscuits (or crescents, or 1 refrigerated pizza dough crust would also work)
1 1/2 to 2 cups of spinach dip made according the recipe on the Knorr Vegetable Soup packets
1 cup of fully cooked chicken, cubed (such as Tyson's Grilled & Ready)
6 to 10 oz of Mozzerella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1/4 cup shredded cheddar

  1. On a non-stick baking sheet, put one biscuit in the center, then surround it with the other biscuits in a circle, with the sides slightly touching.  Pinch the edges together and roll out with a rolling pin until it is pretty thin (about 14 inches in diameter for thinner crust, 12 inches for a thicker crust).  If you make it too thick, the center will still be doughy when the edges are brown. 
  2. Spread the spinach dip mixture in a thin layer over the dough, leaving a half inch of the crust exposed around the edges.  Everybody likes a nice crispy crust. 
  3. If the chicken pieces are large, chop them a little smaller and then sprinkle the chicken on over the top of the spinach mixture.  If you put the chicken on top of the cheese, it will get all dried out.
  4. Next, sprinkle the 3 cheeses over the top.  I only used about 6 ounces of the mozzerella and I thought that was plenty, but some people like a lot of cheese.  Add as much as you want.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 17 to 19 minutes, or until the cheese and the crust are lightly browned.  Serves 2 to 4 depending on appetites and how much they like spinach ;)
If you like red peppers, mushrooms, or artichokes, they would also go nicely with this.  The peppers or the the artichokes could be chopped and stirred into the spinach dip or you could chop them and put them on top.  Mushrooms should be sliced thinly and added to the top, or you can saute them in a little butter first so they don't get dried out.  Yum!

If I sit down and add up all the calories and such, I'll update this post with the nutritional info, though I cannot imagine this being low cal fare.  It's still yummy and hey, I didn't have to waste any of the spinach dip.     

For more tasty recipes, head on over to my new cooking blog, "Savory Simmers" at

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Kid's Valentine's Ideas

I've been perusing Pinterest over the last few weeks and there are some cute and clever Valentine ideas out there. If you have a Pinterest account, you've probably seen many of these already. For those of you who do not have a Pinterest account, here is a sampling of some of the great Valentine card ideas I found that other talented women have created. These are mostly ideas for kids, but some could be used for teens or adapted for adult cards as well.

Many of the sites listed below have free, printable templates. Most of these ideas are simple enough to make quickly and may be the perfect last-minute choice. There's still time to make inexpensive, handmade, adorable Valentines that kids will love. Click on the links to view the original sources.
Fish Bowl Valentine's using Swedish Fish
She offers a printable template available through her Etsy store for $5.
Colored Tape Valentine's
These cards are very simple and would be great for a teen. This blog also has a tutorial for tissue paper flowers, which she arranged into a heart shape as a beautiful wall decoration. Looks like she has a lot of cool creative ideas...I'm definitely following her blog.

Have a Ball Valentine
Here's a quick and easy idea. I've seen another saying that would also work; "Valentine, you make my heart bounce."
Love Bug
There is a free printable mason jar template that says "Happy Valentine's Day Love Bug" and then you tie on a plastic bug. Super cute! From Dandee Designs
Friendship Bracelet Valentines
These say "Our class would Knot be the same without you." These are also from Dandee Designs.
I've Got My Eye On You
Magnifying glass Valentine. Another Dandee creation. Check out her blog for even more cute ideas that I didn't list here.

Wild About You
These are my favorite, if you can find a tube of plastic safari animals, this would make a great valentine for a wide age range. Free printable available on her blog, "Design Mom."
Heart Shaped Crayon Valentine's
Make these cute little heart shaped crayons at home with your kids. "A Sprinkle of This" blog has complete instructions and a free printable.
O'Fish'ally Be Mine?
These adorable little Valentines are great for toddlers. They say, "Will you o'fish'ally be my valentine?" Download free printables and instructions from her site.
Crocadile or Alligator Valentine
Says, "I'd SNAP at the chance to be your Valentine." Download the printable file to build your own.
Smartie Pants
Includes full color PDF files that you can print to assemble this 3-dimensional card. Then, just nsert a couple of Smarties candies. Genius!
I'm Bananas For You
This cute little monkey can be found on the Fiskars website along with a tutorial. Adorable.
Cereal-sly Like You
I've seen multiple renditions of this one, each time a little bit different. Some use the mini boxes of cereal. Some people buy a big box of cereal and re-package it into smaller jars or bags that tie. Some say, "Valentine, I cereal-sly like you." Others use sayings that are more specific to the type of cereal, for example, on a box of Lucky Charms you might use the phrase, "I'm lucky to have you as my friend Valentine" or "You've charmed your way into my heart," etc.

I know I found this picture somewhere on Pinterest, but I forgot to pin it, and now I can't find the link, so I can't give you the source of this photo, but it was too cute to exclude it. (If anyone has the orignal link for this photo, please put it in the comments so I can add the source).
Did you make homemade Valentines for kids this year? We want to see them! Put a link to your creations in the comments below.
Happy crafting!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

3 Valentine Cards

Here's an elegant Valentine's card that I made using only two ink colors and three card stock colors, Rich Razzleberry, Not Quite Navy, and Very Vanilla. (You could use Early Espresso instead of Not Quite Navy for a completely different look). I started with a 12 X 12 sheet of Not Quite Navy and cut a rectangle that was 4.25 by 12. Score that in half (6 inches) and fold to get a card that is 4.25 by 6 inches and opens at the bottom. Cut a 4.25 by 5.5 rectangle of Very Vanilla. Use Rich Razzleberry and a large background stamp to create the background. I used a retired stamp with the definition of love on it. I think the En Francais background stamp would give you a similar look.
Next, cut a rectangle that is 4.35 by 2 inches out of Rich Razzleberry. I used the Scallop Edge Trim punch to create the decorative edge. The Pinking Hearts Border Punch would look really cute with this card or the Scallop Trim Border Punch would work beautifully as well. Glue it on leaving a half inch or so of Navy at the bottom. Next use the large heart from the "A Happy Heart" stamp set and Rich Razzleberry ink onto Very Vanilla card stock. Trim around the heart leaving a small border. I "edged" the heart with Not Quite Navy ink to make it stand out a little bit. Using the 2-3/8 Inch Scallop Circle Punch, cut a circle out of Not Quite Navy card stock. To make the paisley circle, I used a paisley background stamp with Not Quite Navy ink onto Very Vanilla card stock and punch it out with the 1 3/4 inch Circle Punch. I also used some Not Quite Navy Stampin' Pastels chalk with a sponge dauber to soften the brightness. Other stamps you could use that would look pretty on the circle are: Delicate Doilies, Parlor Prints, or Fine Flourish. Glue the stamped circle onto the scalloped circle. Adhere the scalloped circle and the heart as shown. I used the Small Heart Punch with Rich Razzleberry card stock to make the little heart. Tie 5/8 inch grosgrain ribbon in Not Quite Navy around the card where the Rich Razzleberry meets the Very Vanilla background with a square knot. Trim the ends at an angle to prevent fraying. Lastly, stamp the words "Love you" or "I love you." Mine came from a hostess set that is no longer available. The "Be My Valentine" stamp from the Delightful Dozen stamp set would be a good alternate. If you go with the French words on the background you could use the word "Amour" from the Clearly for You stamp set would be the perfect compliment. Lastly, use Dazzling Details glitter glue to add some sparkle to the small heart and set it aside to dry.
Here's a good valentine's card for kids or tweens. It uses the Best Bots Forever stamp set. Create a card that opens at the right and measures 4.25 by 5 using Whisper White card stock. Next stamp the robots using Basic Black ink in whatever combination of parts that you want onto a 2 by 2 inch square of Whisper White. I used one boy robot and one girl. Be sure to space them out a little so there's enough room to put the heart between their hands. Adhere that to a 2.5 by 2.5 inch Basic Black square. Next, glue the square onto pink cardstock that is at least 3/4 of an inch larger on all 4 sides. Carefully
tear the edge of all 4 sides to get a beautiful torn look as shown. I used a cheaper card stock that had a white core, which gave it the two-toned white and pink look that you see. You could use solid core paper in pink shades such as Melon Mambo, Rose Red or Regal Rose. You could also use red shades such as Riding Hood Red, Cherry Cobler, or Real Red. Whatever color you choose, stamp the small heart image onto the same color paper using Basic Black ink. Cut it out very close to the lines and glue it spot between their hands. You could also use Stampin' Dimensionals or pop dots to make it stand out and give it some dimension. Stamp the BBF, Best Bots Forever stamp with Basic Black ink onto a small Whisper White rectangle and trim it out leaving a small border. Adhere it to the card at the bottom right, overlapping the pink slightly as shown. Put a silver paper clip on the top left, and tie a small black ribbon in a bow. Lastly, use Dazzling Details to add sparkle glitter to the heart and set it aside to let it dry.
This card uses a lot of punches...6 in all and stamps from the You & Moi and I (Heart) Hearts stamp sets. I started with Bashful Blue card stock and cut a 8.5 by 5.5 inch rectangle and folded it in half to get a 4.25 by 5.5 card. Using Elegant Eggplant ink, stamp the woodgrain heart and the small heart with the dotted square around it onto Very Vanilla card stock. Use the Extra Large Oval punch. Hold it upside down so you can see where you are punching and cut the woodgrain heart out as shown. Part of the left side of the heart will be cropped off. Cut the small square heart out leaving a small border around it. Use the 1 - 3/8 inch Circle punch on Elegant Eggplant card stock and glue the small square to the
punched circle. Stamp the heart U onto Very Vanilla using Bashful Blue ink. You could also use Baja Breeze or Pool Party colored ink if you prefer. Cut it out with the 1 inch Circle punch, centering the image within the circle. Use the Scallop Square punch with Rose Red paper, and glue the heart U circle onto it. Cut a heart out of the Rose Red paper using the Small Heart punch. Use the same blue ink color that you chose previously to make a small love heart on Very Vanilla and cut it out, leaving small border as shown. Use Rose Red ink with the polka dot heart on Very Vanilla cardstock and cut it out leaving a small border. Use Baja Breeze or Pool Party card stock with the 1-3/4 inch Scalloped Circle punch. Adhere the polka dot heart to the scalloped circle slightly off center as shown. Use Rose Red ink to stamp the "I still love you" sentiment onto Very Vanilla card stock. Cut it out leaving an 1/8" border on all four sides. Glue that onto Elegant Eggplant and cut it out leaving 1/8" border around that, and again onto Perfect Plum doing the same. Arrange all of the elements onto the card and adhere from top to bottom as shown. Stamp the flower with the words "love love love" on the bottom right. Add a small silver clip to the top left of the card and tie 1/2 inch Chantilly Crochet Trim in a knot around the clip. Lastly, use Dazzling Details to add sparkle glitter to the heart next to the U and also to the middle of the flower. Set it aside to let it dry.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Introducing...Sarah's Stamp-of-the-Month Club

Stamp clubs are cropping up all over, and I've been wanting to join the fun.  If you've never heard of them, there are many different kinds of clubs and different ways to run them, but the one I've encountered most often goes something like this:
  • 6 to 10 people commit to purchasing one Stamp set every month, usually between $25-$30, for as many months as there are members in the group. 
  • The members meet monthly to assemble their new set and make cards.  The members take turns hosting the event at their house.  The host also provides a snack and beverage.  The host earns the hostess benefits from any orders placed that month by club members (at least $25 in free merchandise).
  • The club members vote on the set for the following month.
I tried to set up something like this a few years ago, but ran into a few snags.  Some people didn't want to make a 6 month (or more) long committment.  That's understandable.  Many of the people I know are in the military, and that lifestyle can be unpredictable.  Six months from now they could be living in another state, or even another country.  Others were concerned about the financial committment; they just don't extra hobby money every month.  A couple of people didn't like the idea of having to host the event at their house.    Lastly, I had friends and family members that might have joined, but couldn't because they lived too far away. 

I've been thinking about these concerns, and I came up with a great solution.  So without further ado, I unveil my version of the Stamp-of-the-Month Club:
  • No commitments.  Participation is on a month-to-month basis.  If you want to participate any given month, you can, if you don't want to participate that month, you don't have to.  I DO need a certain number of participants in order for someone to get the hostess benefits, which will vary each month depending on the price of the set.
  • You don't have to host anything at your house.  Local participants will meet at my house to assemble their set and make projects using the new set.  I'll provide the snack and drink and I'll clean up the mess.  You just relax and enjoy.
  • You don't have to live nearby in order to participate.  Non-local club members will receive their set by mail.  I'll also include a kit with all the pre-cut paper, ribbon, embellishments, and detailed instructions for making the club projects at home.  You'll just need scissors, ink pads, and glue.
  • All club members will receive an inspiration sheet from me featuring additional projects you can create with your set and I'll be available to answer any questions.
  • Best of all, all those who participate each month will be entered to win the hostess benefits for that month, which will be at least $25 in free Stampin' Up! products.  You can win more than once. 
February's Featured
Stamp-of-the-Month Set

Morning Cup
Item #116988.  It's located on page 54 of the 2011-12 Stampin' Up! Idea Catalog.  The price is $21.95 (plus shipping if you live out of town).  This month I'll need 7 participants.  If you'd like to participate, please leave a comment below or send me an e-mail.  Once I have enough participants, I'll send you a link where you can register for the club and order this month's set.

If you have any suggestions or would like to vote for a stamp set for next month, please add them in the comments below.  Thanks!!

Stampin' Up! © 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Hearts Valentine's Day Card

You can make this beautiful Valentine's Day card at home by following these simple instructions.

  • Whisper White Card stock, 8 1/2" by 5 1/2", folded in half to make a 4.25" by 5.5" card, plus some extra for stamping the hearts
  • Printed scrapbook paper in coordinating colors, cut 3" by 5 1/2"
  • 2 heart-shaped stamps that are about the same size. I used two from a retired "Happy Hearts" set, but you could use the "I [Heart] Hearts" set or any other heart-shaped stamp
  • Real Red ink pad and card stock
  • Pink Pirouette ink pad and card stock
  • A circle punch that is slightly larger than your heart stamp
  • A ribbon hole punch or other small hole punch
  • 3/8" satin or grosgrain Pink ribbon at least 6 1/2" in length
  • scissors
  • glue & pop dots
  • white glitter, clear glitter glue, or clear glitter puff paint
  1. Carefully tear a decorative edge on one of the long sides of the printed scrapbook paper. Glue it to the top of your card, as shown, with the torn edge at the bottom.
  2. Using one of your heart stamps, stamp two hearts onto white cardstock using Pink ink. Carefully cut them out leaving a thin border around them. Stamp the other heart stamp using red ink and cut it out with a thin border as well.
  3. Punch out two red circles from the red cardstock and one pink circle from the pink cardstock.
  4. Adhere the pink hearts to the red circles and the red heart onto the pink circle using pop dots so they look 3-dimensional. Arrange them onto the card as shown and glue the down. It's okay if they overlap a bit.
  5. Use the ribbon punch to create evenly spaced holes along the bottom edge of the card, (only punching through the top layer). You must have an even number of holes for this effect to look like the picture. My ribbon punch makes two rectangular slits, so I punched 6 times across, making 12 holes in all.
  6. Starting at one end, weave your ribbon in and out of the holes, gently pulling the ribbon all the way through as you go. Trim both ends of the ribbon with a slanted angle or in a V to prevent fraying.
  7. Add glitter accents to the center of the red heart, or wherever it would look nice with your particular hearts. If you are using real glitter, draw a heart shape using Elmer's glue, sprinkle glitter on the top and shake off the excess. If you are using glitter glue or puff paint, just draw a heart shape border and then "color in" the center.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Finding Color Inspiration

When I first started making cards, my color schemes included the tried and true holiday norms; bright red and kelly green for Christmas, black and pumpkin orange for Halloween; pink, red, and white for Valentine's, and pastels for baby cards. I was stuck in a rut, using the same, boring color combinations over and over. This was partly because I only had a few colors of paper and ink to choose from, but also because I needed new inspiration. Here are some my favorite sources for color inspiration.
Places to Find Color Inspiration
Seasoned crafters, please bear with me. I'm going to cover the most basic options first, and then I'll move on to the less obvious sources.
The Color Wheel or a Good Book on Color Theory        

The color wheel is a basic requirement for anyone taking a 2-D design course in high school or college. It explains the fundamentals of color theory, what colors compliment each other, which ones contrast, the difference between primary and tertiary colors, etc. It's great info for the aspiring artist to know. One problem I experienced with using the color wheel was finding actual paper colors that matched the hues and tones shown on the store-bought color wheel.

Stampin' Up! Color Coach
The Stampin' Up! Color Coach      

I use this as a handy reference guide all the time. It looks like a deck of cards. There's one page for each of the Stampin' Up! colors. The pages are double-sided. On one side is a solid color, such as "Old Olive." The opposite side suggests 3 different color combinations that use "Old Olive." This works great for 2-color or 3-color combos. If you want your project to have more than 3 colors, start with one of their suggested schemes, and add in one more color. The book is bound with a single post, which can be unscrewed. This means you can add more pages as their colors change, but you can also spread the colors out on a table and try out new combinations yourself. There are some blank spots at the back of the book for you to record your own favorite combos. They suggest using markers to color in the circles or just glue on small paper swatches. The reason this guide is so useful to me, is because the colors are exact matches to all the Stampin' Up! paper, ink, and markers that I already own. If you buy most of your supplies from Hobby Lobby or other art supply stores, the colors won't be an exact match to the Color Coach.

Stampin' Up! Idea Catalog
Stampin' Up! Idea Catalogs        

As I mentioned above, idea catalogs can be a great source for color combinations. In addition to leafing through them, page by page, and seeing the combinations other people used, you should also turn to the back where they have specialty paper packs listed. Designer Series Paper packs and Simply Scrappin' sets are designed using colors that go well together. They have the colors listed in the description so you know what colors coordinate with each other. This is where I usually go when I want more than 2 or 3 colors in my scheme.

Scrapbooking Paper        

Speaking of Designer Paper packs, scrapbooking sets, and paper stacks, any piece of patterned scrapbooking paper can provide new color inspiration. Look at this beautiful pattern from [ ]. Here's the full color pallette. Here are some color combinations based on this pallette.

Paint Swatches        

Go visit a store that carries free paint swatches. The nice thing about paint swatches is the wide array of color options. Take some time to look through the various shades, tones, and hues of all the colors. Collect enough of these and you can make your own color coach. Most swatches have feature one color in various hues from light to dark. Those work well if you are looking for monochromatic color ideas. (To put it into practice, choose a paper color similar to a color in the middle of the paint swatch, then choose paper that is several shades lighter and darker on the same spectrum). Some of the paint swatches show color schemes: one base color with a few accent colors that coordinate with it. These are great creating color combos too.

Backpack from Pottery Barn Kids
Product and Packaging        

If you've ever watched the movie or read the book, "The Devil Wears Prada," then you know how much money, thought, and time go into choosing new "IN" colors every year. Fashion designers and product development teams from around the world spend millions of dollars every year carefully selecting color combinations that people will buy. Don't reinvent the wheel. Next time you are out shopping, put your camera phone to good use and take snapshots of the color combinations that appeal to you. Look online and read the color trend forecasts. Here's a link to get you started:


Shirt pattern from JC Penneys
Speaking of Fabric...        

Go look in your closet now and find anything patterned or multicolored. Use these clothes to make pallettes by picking out 3 to 6 main colors that are represented in the pattern. Don't stop there. Look around your house for other patterned fabric, such as your curtains, pillows, blankets, bedspread, sheets, towels, purse, or even your kid's backpack.

Bedding from Pottery Barn Kids
Catalogs and Magazines        

Don't throw out that Pottery Barn or L.L. Bean catalog just yet... Look at it again through the eyes of an artist. Cut out (or scan in) any color combinations that appeal to you and add them to your idea book.

Irises, by Claude Monet
Fine Art        

The Masters aren't called the masters for nothing. Among other things, they are experts at combining colors in a way that is visually stimulating. Go to your local library and check out some art history books for an endless array of pallettes. You could also visit an online site that sells artwork or posters and save thumbnails to your own computer for later reference.

Now that you know where to find color inspiration, let me talk about the next challenge: organizing it. Sometimes I spend more time searching through catalogs than I do actually making cards. I'm a busy mom, and I have limited "me" time to begin with. I had to come up with some organizing tricks in order to make the most of the time I have.

Organizing Your Ideas
One of the best ways to organize your ideas is to make a "go-to" book of your own. Here are some of the books I've made.
Sample Cards Book:
  • Whenever you make a new card, make a duplicate and keep the extra as a sample.
  • Write down your card "recipe" on a post-it note and stick it inside your sample. That way you'll have all the colors and measurements handy when you want to make more of them.
  • File all your samples in a card organizer box, or
  • Put the samples into a photo album/scrapbook
  • If you are considering selling your cards at local shops, your Sample Book will become an essential marketing tool. If you sell crafts at a tradeshow, your sample book will really showcase your artistry.
Digital Samples Book:
  • Scan the card and keep a digital copy on your computer.
  • Organize the pictures into folders by holiday, occasion, color and/or stamp set. The nice part about having a digital version is that you can "file" the same card under more than one category simply by copying and pasting it in more than one folder.
  • When you need inspiration, select the appropriate folder and choose "Slideshow."
  • If you prefer holding a physical copy, scan the cards and print them out with a color printer.
Idea Journal:
  • Treat yourself to a nice hardcover, spiral bound sketch book with blank pages. Whenever you find great color combos, glue or tape them onto the pages of your book. The best part about the large blank pages is that you can journal next to the images.
  • If you like to do a lot of journaling, try using a composition notebook. Half of the page is blank for drawing or gluing pictures, and the other half is lined so you can write down your thoughts and impressions underneath.
  • Make your own journal with a 3-ring binder. Use plain computer paper and a 3-hole punch to make the pages. Add a few clear pocket page protecters. These work well for keeping magazine pages.
Digital Idea Journal:
  • Whenever I find something that inspires me online, I save the link in my favorites folders.
  • You can right-click on most photos and save them to your computer
  • Websites such as flickr have thousands and thousands photos and images.
    Bulletin Boards, Pin Boards, Card Holders
    • Splurge on a cork board, linen pin board or bulletin board for your creative space. They are both functional and beautiful.
    • Try using a wire photo holder or wire Christmas card holder to display clippings and photos in a stylish way
    Pottery Barn Small Linen Pin Board
    Digital Bulletin Board:
    A friend of mine recently introduced me to Pinterest. Imagine having a room in your house with walls covered in bulletin boards. Each bulletin board has a specific topic or theme, such as "Art that inspires me," "Home Decor," or "Books worth reading." Then you pin up whatever interests you onto the boards. Now, imagine you can visit other people's rooms and explore their boards. That's essentially what Pinterest is all about, but in a virtual setting.
    Your Turn!
    Do you have sources of color inspiration that I didn't mention? Any great ideas for organizing the stuff that inspires you? Please feel free to share them by adding a comment below... As always, happy crafting!