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Basic Editing for Your Card Photos Using Photoshop Elements

Hi, Sweet Things!  It's Melissa again and I'm back with another installment of Picture Perfect!   I hope you've had fun experimenting with photo backgrounds and props, finding a few things that work for you!  Let's head on into the next stage of this whole process!

So you've created a set up you're happy with and snapped a photo of your card.  Now it's time to tweak that photo and adjust just a few things to make it even better!  What could those things be?  Here's a list of my five most common tweaks:
  • Cropping
  • White balance
  • Shadows
  • Brightness
  • Clarity/Sharpness
 For these, I use one of the following:
Both are fairly simple to use for these adjustments & I will explain each one in two separate posts.  For today's post, I will demonstrate editing using Photoshop Elements.  (Note:  I am using Photoshop Elements 9.)

Here is the original photo:

Here is my typical workflow using PhotoShop Elements (PSE):

1.  Open your image in PSE and select the crop tool from the tool bar on the left.

2.  Crop your image using the crop tool by clicking and dragging across your photo.  I usually try to leave roughly the same amount of space on all sides of my card when cropping.

3.  Once you've cropped the photo how you like it, approve the crop by clicking on the green check mark by your image.

4.  Click on the zoom tool on the tool bar (the little magnifying glass icon) and then click on "Fit Screen" near the top of the screen to enlarge your cropped image to a size that's easier to view for further editing.

5.  To adjust white balance, right click on the Background panel you see in the right hand column and select Duplicate Layer.  Click OK in the little box that pops up next.

6.  Now go up to Enhance in the top menu bar and select Adjust Color & then Remove Color Cast.

7.  A little eyedropper will appear.  Use it to click anywhere on your photo that is white, black or gray.  I typically click on a white area.  This part is a bit of experimentation.  If you click on an area and don't like how it makes your photo look, just click Reset in the little box that popped up when the eyedropper appeared and then click on a different area.  Keep in mind, no brightening of the photo has been done yet.

8.  Click OK in the little box when you find the warm tones you are looking for.  Then, flatten the layers by clicking on Layer in the top menu bar and then Flatten Image.

9.  Let's adjust shadows & brightness!  Go up to Enhance in the top menu bar again and select Adjust Lighting.  Then, select Shadows/Highlights.  PSE will automatically adjust the shadows a little for you and if you are happy with the result, go ahead and click OK in the pop up box.  If not, adjust the sliders in the box until you achieve your desired look.  We will adjust brightness next.

For brightness, follow the exact same steps using the Enhance, Adjust Lighting options in the top menu bar, but select Brightness/Contrast this time.  In the pop up box, you can adjust the brightness as needed.  Click OK when you are done.

10.  Last, but not least, we're going to sharpen things a little!  (Just so you know, most digital photos need a little sharpening, so don't be afraid to do this!)  In the right column, make sure you are in the Full Edit mode. and then click on Effects.  Then, in the drop down menu, select Sharpen.

11.  Click on the green apple icon and then click Apply.  A pop up box will appear.

For this particular photo, I set the Amount to 150%.  The amount of sharpening you apply will depend on each individual photo, so just play with this a bit and take note of how the amount you enter in the box affects the overall sharpness of your image.  Note that sometimes it helps to enlarge your photo a bit using the little magnifying glass in the left tool bar and zooming in by clicking on your photo.

Whew!  That's it!  Now save that new and improved photo and prepare to post it to your blog!  Here is the final photo of my fox card:

Crazy what a little editing can do, isn't it?!  Of course, it does help to have such an adorable stamp set as Foxy...

Be sure and stay tuned this week for the fantabulous February new release here on the Sweet blog!  Mark your calendars for this Wednesday!  Also, don't forget to Like Sweet Stamp Shop on Facebook so you don't miss out on all the happenings (and maybe even some sweet discounts)!  Once you've done those things, be sure and stop by my blog and say hello!  I have more Sweets over there to share!  I'll be back in a couple weeks to walk you through the photo editing process using PicMonkey!

Have a great week!

Simple Valentine and Envelope
Hi Sweet friends, Lindsay here with you today!

For my Inspiration 101 post, I thought I would bring you a cute little Valentine/Envelope combo, inspired by a lovely picture from Pinterest.

Here is a look at the inspiration:

So, to start, I took a card base, and stamped my hearts, using the Foxy set.  These little images are perfect for creating clean and simple designs.

I then stamped a Valentine sentiment from the Just the Basics stamp set, using one of the pink inks.  I finished it off by rounding the corners.

To complete the set, I created a little envelope using my punch board from WRMK.  Super quick and easy to do!  I hope you were inspired to take a clean and simple design and try it out on your next project.

Thank you for joining me today!

getting the most out of your mists
Hello there!!
Samantha here, and I'm super pumped to be on the Sweet Stamp Shop blog today!! :) Today I'm going to focus all about mists and 'out of the box' ways to use them! :)

I know I LOOOOVE using mists! they give an awesome 'messy' look to a project! And I'm the first to admit that 98% of the time, I either splatter the mist onto my project or spray it (either over a stencil or not)! I love the way that looks, but I was trying to come up new ways to use my mists and really stretch their 'I NEED TO USE THIS PRODUCT RIGHT NOW' factor! Ha ha!

My first thought was to paint with them, like watercolors!

And, since I'm currently in a love affair with the color gold (swoon) i used a Heidi Swapp Color Shine mist to really give me a goldy-shimmery look! :) And, people - I LOVE how this looks!! All I did was dip my paint brush into the mist bottle and lightly 'swipe' along the cardstock!

Those cute as can be little pears from the amazing Yummy Love stamp set really POP, don't you think?

My next thought was to combine misting with embossing folders! Sounds messy, right? Hmm, maybe a little! But so worth it! This is how I did it:

All I did was spray one side of the embossing folder (Lightly! - No pooling of color for this one!) and emboss the cardstock like i normally would! How did I not try this before?

I think this 'distressed' wood grain background is just AWESOME!!

Lastly, I tried what i thought was the most obvious way to use my mists more often...using them to tint my white embossing paste! I LOOOOOOOOOVE embossing paste, and since I have white, it's the perfect jumping off point to add color!

What you need to keep in mind here, is that you really need to play around to get the exact color you want and how many drops to use, etc. On one card i tinted my embossing paste with grey mist and it needed like 10 drops of color to mix, and for my card for this example, i used pink and only did 3 drops! So it really just depends on the color, and the amount of saturation you're looking for! :)

If you're intrigued to see the card i made with the pink tinted embossing paste - head on over to my blog! :)

What is your favorite way to use mists? I'm totally dying to find new ways to use this product! :)
All of my cards use the Yummy Love stamp set for the images and the Monogram Alpha stamp set for the sentiments! LOVE this pairing! :)

Have you been following the Sweet Stamp Shop on Pinterest? There is a TON of inspiration there, if you're ever feeling like you need a creative jump start! And if that doesn't help - the Sweet Stamp Shop Flickr account is filled to the brim with amazingly SWEET creations!

Thanks for stopping by!

Two Looks In One

Hello Sweet Friends!  It's Charlene here with you with a super simple and fun technique! I have some embossing folders that unfortunately are collecting dust.  I dusted one of them off and gave it a make over, with some blush of course.  Ready?
  1. Supplies:  embossing folder, ink, and a brayer.  Not pictured are white card stock and Cuttlebug.  I chose a pigment ink for this project.  
  2. Use a brayer to apply ink onto the folder then run it through your embossing machine. The fun part is that you get two different looks by applying ink on either side of the folder. 
On the right:  I applied ink on the embossed side of the folder.  On the left: inked on the debossed side. Now the panels are all set for a project. Wasn't that super simple?

Here's my card using the panel on the right:

In keeping with the embossing theme, I heat embossed the sentiment in hot pink powder on vellum.

Here's my second card using the panel on the left (inking the debossed side).  The look is completely different.

Stamp Set:  Elegant Sentiments
Thanks so much for visiting!
Have a wonderful Tuesday!

I've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'...
Do you ever struggle for inspiration even when you have a sketch or something to guide you?  That was my problem this week.  My crafty mojo was no where to be found even though I was working with an awesome CAS(E) this Sketch challenge.  What's a girl to do?  Well, I decided to take a page out of Dannielle's book and do a little Fusion.  ;)  Before we get ahead of ourselves, let me show you the sketch.

For my first card, I used the adorable Yummy Love set to make the perfect valentine for my honey.

I used a couple bits and pieces of patterned paper that I had leftover for the background and the heart shape.  To get that cute "Hello" banner, I cut up a journaling card from a pocket scrapbooking company.  I had some white letters laying around but I needed a little bit more color so, I colored them with my copics to match the heart.  Love how that turned out!  A little fun coloring on my honey pot and some Glossy Accents to make some honey on the dipper and you have a pretty cute card.  Love it and I hope you will too!

For my 2nd take, I got totally stumped.  I tried a TON of different card ideas and I just wasn't cranking out anything I liked.  Then my Facebook feed gave me an idea.  I'd use the Fusion challenge blog as my inspiration and pull in a picture that inspires me to use along with my sketch.  That's all it took.  I had a card done and I loved it in less than 10 mins...I swear!  So, here's the inspiration photo I used in conjunction with my sketch for my second card:

Pretty, isn't it.  I knew that this was just screaming for a little ELEGANT combo so I broke out Elegant Flowers and Elegant Sentiments.  You can't beat that 1, 2 punch!

I stamped my flower with a lovely turquoise ink and then stamped the outline with gold to emulate the inspiration photo.  The sentiment was stamped with the same gold and then I added some enamel dots and bling to represent the berries from the inspiration.  I thought it needed a little something more so I cut the card front down to layer on a striped card base for the perfect extra pop of color.

Nothing terribly techniquey this week but I wanted you to see how a sketch can just be a springboard to even more inspiration.  Thanks to the Fusion blog for all their great and inspiring combos.  I hope you will visit their challenge and CAS(E) this Sketch for some fun and energizing sketch action.  Don't forget to check out our Sweet Stamp Shop Facebook page.  We'd love to hear about your ways of getting your craft mojo back.  We all need a little help sometimes!  Also, don't forget to check out the SSS YouTube channel.  Nicole has totally revamped it and you won't want to miss out on the fun she has in store, so make sure you subscribe now!  I hope you enjoyed today's Sketches 2 Ways and I can't wait to see you back here soon.  Have a great Monday.


Operation Write Home

The group I'm profiling today is one of the largest and most widely known charitable organizations among card makers. Perhaps you've heard of it. Operation Write Home supports U.S. armed forces by sending blank, homemade greeting cards to write home on, as well as sending them cards of gratitude.

About Operation Write Home 
Cardmakers from the United States– and citizens of other nations too – who care about our military, and want to support them through creativity and encouragement participate in Operation Write Home since 2007. 

Care packages filled with hundreds of handmade cards are sent to our contacts, restocking every 6-8 weeks, and are sent in time for the long journey back home to loved ones. Each box is packed with great care, alternating styles, colors, and cardmakers from all over the United States creating “eye candy” for heroes who see only khaki around them. In addition to blank cards for soldiers, a plastic bag filled with 20-30 letters from adults and children across the country, are handed out especially to those in need of a positive word from the homefront.

Boxes are shipped every week of the year. Operation Write Home recently sent out its 2.5 millionth card! There is the solder with the 2.5 millionth card in the photo below!

U.S. soldiers from every branch of service - deployed all over the world - receive cards from Operation Write Home. Cards are distributed through chapels, MWRs, USOs, battlefields and living quarters at deployed duty station around the globe.

Want to see some of those recipients? Click here to see a slide show of soldiers with their cards. Grab a tissue. You may choke up a little.

 How to Get Involved
Operation Write Home has some unique guidelines, which you can find here. One of the most important rules is absolutely NO GLITTER.  What? No glitter? That's right. Glitter makes soldiers visible to someone with night vision goggles and puts them at risk as an easy target.

Another guideline to note is that they accept A2 cards (4.25x5.5") only. Because Operation Write Home processes thousands and thousands of cards a year, they need to be as efficient as possible. The more cards they can process, the more opportunities for soldiers to send something special to their families. 

You can get all the guidelines from their web site, which is chock full of really good information.

It's also important to note their deadlines. While you and I are thinking about Valentine's Day cards, Operation Write Home is already working on Easter and Mother's Day themes. Many of their cards go to remote locations, so they need to work 6-8 weeks ahead of time. Click here for a calendar.

Now, what soldier wouldn't love to give this silly card to his or her child! It's an A2 card with no glitter. If you lift the flaps, you can read some of the silly sounds in the song. My daughter loves that song. Apparently, her kindergarten class dances to it sometimes during brain breaks!

The card uses the new set Foxy, which is sold out, but will be back in the store this coming week. Trust me, it's an awesome set. Why do you think it sold out so fast!

Have a great weekend and please consider sharing your talent by donating a card (or two, or three or four) to Operation Write Home or any of the organizations I've profiled.


Using A Little Color to Add Emphasis

Hi It's Tyra and I'm here to share how you can use just a little bit of color to add emphasis while keeping your cards CAS.  First, I used Just The Basics stamp set for today's cards:

A few quick and easy ways I love to use color in clean and simple cards includes using color to emphasize the meaning behind a sentiment:

The card, by the way, pays homage to my love of the west (California) and southwest (Arizona).  I lived in that part of of the country for some time and on days like today where it's 10 below zero, I miss that sunshine! 

Here is a quick and easy birthday card you can create using one pattern and a single color of card stock:

Visit my blog to see how I use simple color to add emphasis to a sentiment.  

I love the basic sentiment set. There is a sentiment for almost every occasion! That's all for today. Thanks for much for stopping by the blog! 

P.S. Don't forget, applications for the next Sweet Stamp Shop Design Team are due on February 1st! Get all the details here.  

Technique, Mirror Image Stamping
Hello, it’s Nicole G., again, with another video technique, and I’m super excited to share this one with everyone.

This mirror image technique is so much fun to use, and it’s a great way to create really fun cards. I personally love to use this technique to create cute scenes or lovey-dovey cards—but go ahead and watch the video and once you've got this technique down feel free to use it your own way and have a great time!

I hope you learned something new - or if you already knew this technique maybe you're thinking of a new valentines card it would be great with - here's a snapshot of my card... 

I have to mention - the Fox set, it's sold out right now (I know, I'm not surprised either - it's so darn cute!) 

BUT BUT BUT - It will be back in the shop next week (or that's when we hope it will!) So be on the look out next week... and I'm sure Nicole, Ms. Sweet, will send out a newsletter letting you know it's back. SO, be sure to get on the newsletter list - HERE. (see below the screen shot of the newsletter sign up - it's on the bottom of the sweet stamp shop home page) 

The sets that you saw today and the sets that are featured in the card art.... 

Foxy (sold out right now) 


Baking Love 

Press It Wash It 

The Sweet Stamp Shop loves to see what you create using their stamps so head on over to the SSS Flickr page by clicking here, and share your cards and/or layouts using this technique (or any others). I hope you enjoyed this video and have a great day!

How to Choose a Background for Photographing Your Cards

Hi, Sweet Things!  It's Melissa and I'm back to take a look at backgrounds for those photos of yours for this part of the Picture Perfect series!

Before we get started, I want to say that dressing up your photos doesn't have to take a lot out of your crafting budget!  You'll need to decide whether you want your photos to be one of two types:

1.  Hero Shot - This type of photo keeps your card the sole focus.

2.  Styled Shot - This type adds props to complement your card.

Also, let's take a look at my favorite backgrounds when photographing cards these days:

12 x 12 Decorative Paper

Rubber Door Mat (with a wood panel look)

2x2 Backdrop Panels (from My Backdrop Shop)

(Note:  I use these for taking photos of my small children also!)
As you can see, there are many options and I recommend you choose one or two that work for you and the look you're trying to achieve.  All store quite easily and are pretty compact.

Let's go ahead and look at hero shots first as this is the simplest of the two to put together!  Here is one extremely simple example of a hero shot using two pieces of white cardstock as the background and base:

To me, the plain white base and background cause the already white card to get lost.  Not a terrible photo, but it's not my favorite.

Here is an example of adding some simple patterned paper as a background to decrease the amount of white in the photograph:

See how much richer the photo is beginning to look just by adding a little color?

Here is another example, but this time I added a colored base instead of a background:

This did help a bit, but I'm still of the opinion that the white background isn't the best.

Now let's take a look at what happens when I simply use a faux wooden floor backdrop and take the photo from slightly above the card!

How's that for rich color?!  We're getting somewhere!

This is where you can decide to keep your photo simple or take it up yet another notch.  Are you wondering what you could possibly use for props without making a special trip to your local department store?  Guess what?!  You probably have more props setting around your house right now than you think you do!  Here's a list of some possibilities:
  • cookie sprinkles
  • a lamp base
  • kids' toys
  • gift bows
  • party supplies
  • office supplies (paper clips, etc.)
  • school supplies (pencils, erasers, etc.)
  • art supplies (crayons, etc.)
  • baskets
  • ceramic dishes
  • little buckets
  • Christmas decorations (ornaments, etc.)
  • other holiday decor
That's just the beginning!  Depending on what kind of theme your card has, you can usually find something around the house to go along with it!  I keep a little basket of things I've found over time stored away for times when I feel like dressing up a photo.  It's beginning to get quite full and I love it!

So what did I do for my final photo this time around?  Take a look!

I used the adorable Yummy Love set by Alyssa Lea for the apple and sentiment:

...and the cute glasses from the Monogram It set to give the apple a scholarly look:

For the photograph, I used a patterned paper in the background with a number theme as this card is going to go to a teacher this Valentine's Day.  I used a decorative paper base that looks like wood.  I brainstormed for appropriate props and grabbed an apple out of the kitchen as well as a couple pieces of broken chalk from my children's chalk board.  See?!  It doesn't take fancy props to take your photos up to the next level!

I hope this gives you a few ideas to get you started!  It's so much fun to play with backgrounds and props!  Take some time the next couple weeks to brainstorm for your own ideas!  You'll be surprised how many things you'll find around the house for props and that decorative paper stash you're hoarding is going to love seeing some daylight!  I know mine sure does!

I'll be back in a couple weeks to talk about photo editing!  In the meantime, bop on over to my blog for more Sweet Stamp Shop Sweetness and don't forget to Like Sweet Stamp Shop on Facebook so you don't miss out on upcoming news and specials!

Enjoy your Monday!

Hey there sweets!  

Todays inspiration comes from the pages of Paper Crafts magazine.  When I saw this gradient star, and simple layout, I knew it was the perfect starting point for my Valentine card.

I brought out some fun glitter from American Crafts, and set to work by die-cutting a heart, and running it through my Xyron sticker maker. 

I then took a white panel and stamped the little hearts from the Kiss Me set, in gold ink.  I layered up the glittered die cut heart with foam adhesive, and added a strip of vellum, heat embossed with my sentiment.

Lastly, I added some fun sequins, and outlined my panel with a black multi liner, before adhering it to a pink card base.  It is certainly more embellished than the original, and that's okay!  It is all about getting that creative spark, and running with it.

Thank you for joining me today!  I hope you take a fresh look at some of the magazines you have, and create something one of a kind inspired by it's content. 

they many faces of embossing
Hey there!
It's Samantha here on the blog today! And I'm SUPER excited to share some cards about the different kinds of embossing out there!

One of the hottest trends happening right now is embossing paste!! I, for one, am a HUGE lover of this look!
But there is the old school dry embossing and heat embossing too - both techniques look wonderful on cards!!

here's a quick comparison of all three styles:

And those ideas are just scratching the surface of the embossing world!! You can change the look and feel of your card by adding color:

* by mixing re-inkers/mists with your white embossing paste
* adding inks to you embossing folder, or lightly (and carefully!) adding ink to the raised images after they're embossed
* using color embossing powder

I mean, you can add glitter, distress stains, watercolors, markers, seriously, there is SO much available out there to make these techniques fresh and FUN!!

For today's cards, I kept it simple and clean (and white!) just to consistantly show the differences in the three methods!

My first card shows off the lovely effect that Heat Embossing can provide:

I stamped the US image from Across the Miles (one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE sweet stamp shop stamp sets!!) in versamark ink and then heat embossed in clear over water color paper! The numbers are from Numbers - Symbols stamp set from the latest release!! which were popped up for dimension! the rest of the sentiment was created using Alpha Tabs (another MUST have!!).

My next card shows off the awesome look of Embossing Paste!! LOOOOOOOOOVE that stuff! :)

I used it to add white on white interest to the background of my card! :)
(The same stamp sets were used for this card!)

I have one last card on my blog showing how Dry Embossing can give you a super cool look by adding dimension to the background of the card!! :)

Well, what do you think? Are you inspired to flex your embossing muscles?! I hope so!! Let me know in the comments below if you used any http://www.sweetstampshop.com/all-stamps/Sweet Shop stamps with embossing techniques!! i would LOVE to leave you some LOVE! :)

And while you're at it, take another gander in the Sweet Stamp Shop Store - did you know they sell flair now?! CUSTOM flair to coordinate with their stamp sets!! Hello!!!

See you next time sweets!!

Design Team Search!

It's that time again and we're on the hunt for 3-5 brand new faces for our Design Team.

*** We're looking for one or two ladies who do 'pocket style scrapbooking' to do a series on stamping and pocket style scrapbooking (like the picture below)

Submissions due by Feb. 1st
Three Month Term (March-May)
Term Starts beginning of March

What we need from you -

Post twice a month on the Sweet Stamp Shop blog with meaningful content - including clear and bright photos - *interesting* tips and tricks - OR a tutorial - OR a video - OR really anything that YOU would want to read. We love sharing inspiration by way of photos on the blog - but we know readers want MORE! From reviews on product to 'how to' tips we might take for granted - our viewers look to us for the latest in the paper craft industry.

Create ONE project for the monthly release - per stamp set sent. We'll take care of the new release blogging - of course, you'll want to have a coordinating blog post on your blog for our release - so we can link to you!

PROMOTE - facebook - twitter - pinterest - smoke signals (ok, we'd be impressed if you knew smoke signals!) .... we need designers who want to become 'house hold names' and are willing to work and promote themselves (as well as SSS). This includes sharing posts on facebook - all the way to entering challenges with our product. We want you to be EXCITED!

We feel so strongly about wanting excited and energetic peps that we're making our design team term only THREE MONTHS LONG! That's right - we know that getting 'burnt out' is a *real* issue with anything crafting... and we want you to feel like our product is new and fresh .... and when you're excited to use it - it shows and it's contagious! Our customers SEE your enthusiasm and want in on it!

What you'll get from us -

Free product (2 - 4 stamps a month depending on the size of the release)

A generous discount on all stamps purchased during your term (actually it's so good we can't say the actual % on the blog - lol)

Access to a facebook group with ALL the information you'll need to participate in our design team.

Here is how you'll put your name in the hat

1. Email us at info@sweetstampshop.com - your name - your blog - and your home address. (we're not accepting international designers at this time - UNLESS you'd like to pay the difference in shipping - which is about $10 a month)

2. Please let us know if you own any SWEET stamps (and the names of the sets that you own). While this isn't a requirement - it's helpful for us to know. Also let us know which sweet set is your favorite (even if you don't own it)

3. Also include your current design teams.

4. Show us your social media 'muscles'!! ---- 'Friend' Nicole Rixon on facebook - we want to see how active you are on facebook and how you utilize it to market yourself and companies you work for. If you are more of a twitter girl - or more of a pinterest person - that's great too! Let us know which social media platform you prefer and give us a way to peek in on you. :)

5. Answer these questions in your application email -

  • We believe **really** strongly that design content is only as good as your ability to market it. What ways do you market your content? How important is it for you to build a readership? 

  • What are your design goals? Go ahead - whisper your 'impossible' ... you know, the thing you fantasize about.... 

  • We do something a little different on our blog - we have our designers come up with a series, a topic that they blog about every time they're scheduled ... so what sort of topic would you like to do, why? 
**** I want to say, that nothing is more important to us then clear, crisp, well taken photos - it's about 80-90% of the decision. So, before you apply - double check that the photos on your blog are crisp clear - large - and that it spotlights your work!

This is a good example of the level of photography we need for the blog (and it just so happen be a sneak peek of Feb release)

Keep in mind ... we're only accepting 3-5 new designers ... That's a very small amount (when typically we have hundreds of applications) .... so, if we don't pick you this time... stick with it - come back! These terms are only three months!

Please send in your application by Feb. 1st - Term will begin with the March Release... Beginning of March!

Happy Stamping! Thanks for reading and considering!

Coloring With Distress Re-inkers

Hi Sweet Friends!  It's Charlene here with you today.  Are you guys ready to get inky?  A few months ago, I saw an awesome video tutorial on YouTube on how to color with Distress Reinkers (sorry, I'm drawing blanks, can't remember who did the video).  There are many different techniques out there, but today I'm going to cover what works for me.

Here we go!

  1. For this technique, I chose the Yummy Love stamp set.   It's an awesome set to practice this technique and it's super cute too!  Other supplies:  Archival ink (definite must-have for watercoloring), watercolor paper, ink, paper towel, and a brush.   
  2. I use an acrylic block to put a teeny tiny drop of ink.  That drop right there is more than enough.
  3. I started with a water brush, but it did not go so well - yikes!  So, I switched on over to a good old brush and a cup of water.  This is just my preference. 
  4. To color:  use a tiny bit of ink and start coloring at the corner and work your way to the center or to where you think the lightest part of the object is....That is pretty much it!  
Here are the pears up close on my card:

Here's the full card:  Tada!

We would love for you to share your creations with us!

Thank you so much for joining me today.  You can see more of my work on my blog, HERE.


Purple, Pandas, & Pears...Oh My!

It's another SWEET Monday and I have a bit of fun for you today.  For this week's Sketches 2 Ways, I debated using the current sketch at CAS(E) this Sketch or giving you another peek at an upcoming sketch.  Duh!  I decided you guys are way too special to not get especially sweet treatment so, the sketch I'm using will be up on the CTS blog this Thursday which gives you an extra 3 days to play with it.  Woo hoo!

I had WAY too much fun with the combo of Sweet stamps and the awesome sketch this week.  Yup, I actually ended up with 4 cards from one sketch and had to ask my fellow designers to help me pick the two that I would feature here.  Don't worry, you'll get to see the other 2 also...just check out my blog today and on Thursday.  First up, the sketch!
Can you see why I had so much fun?  Well it all started with Alyssa's Yummy Love stamp set.  How am I supposed to resist smiling fruits and veggies?  Impossible.  
I had some cards lying around from a certain pocket scrapbooking company that I knew would be perfect with these stamps.  So, I did a little misting on my green card base to give the card some sparkle (shine mist).  While that was drying, I stamped and colored these adorable pears.  I decided yellow was the way to go because that is the color of the pretty pears on our trees out front (when they aren't covered in snow...ugh) and I liked how it picked up the yellow on the delicious card.  I die cut a heart to cover a mess up that I had where I tried to add a little shadow to the pear.  It just didn't look that great.  Thanks goodness for dies to cover up an oops.  I thought I was finished when I stamped the sentiment but I was feeling the need to fill the white void under the pears.  A little green washi was all it took.  What do you think?  I think the washi really helps tie the card to the sketch.
 My second card is inspired by my littlest dude.  His 4th birthday is coming up and he's a purple-a-holic.  So, I broke out our new number set, Numbers - Symbols, and everyone's favorite panda, Panda Face
 I did a little masking, embossing, and inking on this card.  WHOA!  First, I masked off a rectangle to make a little focal background for my card.  Next up, I embossed my 4's all over my background shape with white embossing powder.  Using some neon purple (yup, NEON purple) ink and a make-up sponge, I blended in a cool background that I knew my little dude would just adore.  I love how the embossed 4's really stand out.  I applied a little strip of glitter paper to represent the line from the sketch.  Finally, I stamped my sentiment on a little square of paper that I knew would make a perfect sign for my panda to hold with the hands that I cut after stamping 2 cute panda images on another white paper (one for the panda and one for just his hands).  A few foam squares for dimension and there you have it.  So, do you think my purple lover will like his birthday card?
He might just give me a face like this:
I just love that little goofball.  I hope you enjoyed my cards today and I'd love for you to come visit me at my blog for another awesome card made with more Sweet Stamp Shop goodies (you might find another surprise there also).  How awesome is that?  We'd love it if you come visit us on Facebook and LIKE us!  You won't want to miss out on the deals and peeks shared there...I guarantee it!  Just tell them Chrissy sent you.  ;)  Thanks and have a wonderful week!


Send Love Today

I have loved every organization I've profiled so far. Every cause is important, but the cause I'm profiling today is probably the most personal for me. Today's post features Send Love Today, a volunteer-based program meant to bring some amount of joy to brain tumor patients in the form of homemade cards and small gifts.

Two years ago, a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with brain cancer after having a seizure at the local swimming pool. Marilyn (I changed her name to protect her privacy) is a mother of three young boys who range in age from 3rd grade to a high school freshman. I met her at church several years ago. We were in a mom's group together when our kids were really young. Marilyn has had her ups and downs throughout this journey. She recently experienced some paralysis and was admitted to a short-term care facility. While she's home now, she struggles every day to do small tasks that we take for granted like taking a shower or even making dinner. Fortunately, Marylin has a huge support group, but there are many who do not. A simple gesture like sending a card can make a big difference.

About Send Love Today
Linda Thomas and Sandi Mueller formed the idea for Send Love Today (SLT) after the tragic death of Linda’s husband, Stacy L. Thomas (SLT). Stacy fought brain cancer for two and a half years before it took his life in January 2004. Throughout his illness, Sandi and other family members sent cards to Stacy as a form of love and encouragement. Stacy began to look forward to receiving these cards, and they became the bright spots in his otherwise pain-filled life. When Stacy passed away, it became extremely important to Linda to make something positive come out of this tragedy. Thus, Linda and Sandi developed the idea for Send Love Today.

Send Love Today provides emotional support and encouragement to brain tumor patients and their families throughout their difficult journey.

How to Get Involved
The first step toward getting involved is filling out the online volunteer form. Know that the cards you send are helping someone through a difficult time and bringing a smile to their life. If you are unable to volunteer in the capacities listed on the online form, but know of someone who is in need of cards, or know of a person or company willing to donate money to our cause, we would appreciate you forwarding us that information. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please email us at sandi@sendlovetoday.org

Helpful Hint: Do not put “Get Well Soon” on your card. Some options are: keeping you in my prayers; sending a smile; thinking of you; where flowers bloom so does hope, etc.

The card below uses two brand-spankin' new sets released just yesterday! I used Foxy and Anatomy of Love to create this friendly little Hello card.

January Release - Basically, awesome.

Yeppers - today is release day! I can kinda hardly believe it - time flies so fast (then again I say that every month, don't I - lol)

Anyway, let's just dive right into it!

THE most important part (second to the stamps) is the sale - so before we go any further, here's the 'deal' ---


20% off your total NEW release stamp purchase using coupon code NR20

(and if you mention 'blog' on your order, I'll throw in something special for you - but, only if you mention 'blog' in the comment section of your order!)

Are you ready for the new release?! I'm so excited about these four stamp sets, I could jump for JOY! But, I'll refrain myself - it's ok if you wanna jump - we encourage it!

We're releasing some great BASIC stamp sets ....

'Basic' means: a great standard and 'must have' set for any collection, usually including (but not limited to) sentiments and general images. Something you can use over and over again!

We're proud to be releasing...

Foxy 2x6 
Anatomy Of Love 4x6

Just The Basics 2x6
Numbers-Symbols 2x6
We LOVE our design team - no, really! They're awesome - on top of it - and just the best, sweetest, group of ladies we've had! So, let me show off what they've done to show you how awesome these stamp sets really are!

Please - please - *super pretty sweet* please - take a moment and visit these talented ladies on their blogs. Not only do they have bonus content - but, they LOVE what they do and it shows.... take a moment and 'follow' their blogs (if you can) and leave a comment - it means so much to these girls, I promise! (you'll make their day!)

Charlene Bopp 

Please take a moment to visit the uber talented Charlene on her blog HERE - she'll have bonus content (and it's - WOW)! 

Samantha is really the sweetest girl around - go ahead and see what else she has up her sleeve, on her blog - HERE.

Tyra Babington


It's no secret - I have a design crush on Tyra! SHE'S amazing!! WOW, ok - you like, absolutely have to go see her blog - like, right now :) HERE

Nicole Gavaldon

Every time Nicole posts one of her creations - I think, Ummm - WOW. I know you think so too, right?! So, take a moment and say hello to her on her blog HERE

So, we don't have enough room on the blog right now to show off the amazingness of Chrissy! Most of these cards do special things - open with fun sentiments - and are just *way cooler* then these little pictures show - SO you MUST, must - must - go to her blog and check these cards out in more detail - amazing!! HERE

Melissa Chipperfield 

Haven't you LOVED Melissa's new series on blog photos?! (you should scroll down to her blog post and check it out if you haven't already!) Also, take a moment to visit her blog - HERE - she's pretty spectacular! 

Lindsay Amrhein

Take a moment and follow Lindsay on her blog - HERE - she posts great content and always has the most inspirational cards! 

Annette Witherspoon

Annette - is a doll - and so is her fun cards - I know she has a couple more really awesome creations to show you - on her blog, HERE. Be sure to say hi, I know she LOVES it! 
Dannielle Robeson

Did you know that Danni - our design team coordinator - is now the design team coordinator for 'Fusion Challenge'?! Yep, take a moment and check out her blog - get all the latest news and fun stuff coming out of Danni's crafty world! HERE

Your fearless leader NICOLE, might have made a couple items for the release too! (I just couldn't help myself, this is such a good release) But, you already know what I look like, right?! lol So, I'll spare ya the picture... and just get right to the good stuff... 

Don't forget about the sale - good today and tomorrow only! Coupon code - NR20 .. 20% off all the new release stamps! 

Check out all the new releases on the website - http://www.sweetstampshop.com/new-release/

Take a moment and comment below - let us know which stamp set you're just going to *have to have* ---- we love to hear what stole your heart! 

Thank you so much for stopping in, commenting, following - and supporting! We're a small business who deeply appreciates you as our customer and we know - it just wouldn't be possible without you! So, thank you!! 

Happy release day - Happy Stamping!

Using Washi and Keeping it CAS

Hello It's Tyra and I'm here is share a a few ways to incorporate washi into your CAS creations.  What's fun about today's post is that the following cards incorporates the LOL Flair Collection and a sentiment from Triangle Style.  Check out my blog for the fun card incorporating a sentiment from Baking Love:

The first card I created uses washi tape as a fun border to anchor my flair sentiment:

Washi tape is a quick and easy way to add a border to your CAS cards horizontally or vertically. Stamp a sentiment (trying using Staz-On ink) or add fun flair to complete your card! 

The second card I created uses washi tape as a background:

I love how the washi tape's design plays off of the flair and the stamped sentiment. 

Last but not least don't forget that TOMORROW is the January Release!!! Join the Facebook Party and don't miss out on the fun! Take care and thanks for stopping by the blog! 


Camera Settings for Photographing Your Cards

Hello, Sweet Things!  It's Melissa and I hope you've had fun playing a bit with your photography set up since last time!  This week for the Picture Perfect series, I'm back to discuss some basic camera settings with you!

First, let me tell you that you do not have to use manual focus on that camera of yours to get decent photos, so shake that worry off your mind right now!  We're going to stay user friendly here!  If I can say one thing before we get started, it is this:  Get to know your camera and read the user manual!  I know.  Yawn, right?!  I promise you'll learn something!  If you can't find the information you are looking for in the manual, do a quick search online for your camera model + what it is you are wanting to know more about.  There is usually someone out there that has the exact same camera and knows the answer to your question!

Let's start off by taking a look at the two photos below:

You'll notice that the background is more blurred (what we're aiming for) in the photo taken in portrait mode (the head icon on a camera).  By simply changing to the portrait setting on your camera, you can blur the background quite nicely!  Don't forget to move your card out away from the background too, as we discussed last time!

I used this setting for a long time before I discovered something else.  I'm going to ask you to go just a tiny bit out of your comfort zone and venture into a semiautomatic mode called aperture priority.  Depending on the camera you own, you may or may not see an "A" on the setting dial.

This mode will blur your background even more!  As always, be sure that you are focusing on your card and not your background.

Lastly, let's talk about white balance.  We all know that sometimes lighting just isn't ideal.  Adjusting the white balance on your camera can save you some editing time!

On my camera, a Nikon dslr, there is a handy little button for white balance.

See the circular +/- button just below and to the right of the off/on?  That's the white balance button!  Let's say your lighting isn't quite right, but you need to get a photo taken so you can post it on your blog.  After taking a photo in portrait mode, you really wish you could brighten the photo & blur the background just a little bit more.  Take a look at the difference between the photos below:

By shooting the photo in aperture priority mode and increasing the white balance, both things were accomplished with just the click of a couple buttons (see photo on right)!

I played with my set up a bit and did a little tweaking in Photoshop Elements and here is the final photo:

With a little practice and patience, you'll find what works best for you and your camera.  Like I said previously, get to know your camera and take time to play with all the different features it offers!  You'll be pleasantly surprised what it will do for you!

For my card this week I played with triangles from the extremely versatile Triangle Style set as well as a sentiment from the wonderful Austen Obsessed set.

You'll find even more Sweet triangle creations on my blog today, so be sure and bop over and take a look!  Had I not had plenty on my to do list, I'd probably still be playing with triangles!  I was on a roll, I tell ya!

I'll be back in two weeks to discuss backgrounds and photo props!  How fun does that sound?!

Until next time, keep practicing playing!

Using DIY Journaling Cards in Cardmaking

Happy Saturday! It's Tyra and I'm here to share a few ideas on adding do-it-yourself journaling cards to your CAS creations.  First, let's take a look at the stamp sets I'll use today: Baking Love, Press It Wash It,  Monogram It and Cookies Sprinkles (whew!).

The journaling card's cloud "theme" served as inspiration to create the following card:

I used various sentiments from each of the stamp sets above to create a love-themed Valentine's day card.  The journal card is pre cut from a die cutting machine, however one could easily create their own journaling card. 
  • First, trim paper to 3 by 4 inches.  
  • Use your existing punches or steel dies to create a design  that is all your own. 
  • Add some SWEET stamps to personalize your creation.   
Notice that most of the card elements are contained within the  journaling card (with the exception of that cute umbrella!) while maintaining a fair deal of white space.

Keeping with theme of hearts and love, I created the second card:

Yes, I realize this card is pushing the boundaries of CAS design with the layers of paper and embellishment, but sometimes you will never know when you are inspired to add a little extra.  

I played off of the main arrow in the journaling card and added a heart featuring arrows.  Lastly, I used the Monogram It set  and the heart stamp from Cookie Sprinkles to create a sweet sentiment.

That's all for now! Don't forget to join the January release party!  Trendy and traditional stamps to be revealed next week!! Thanks so much for stopping by! Take care and have a wonderful weekend. 

Watercolor Thanks
Hey Sweets, it's Lindsay, and it's time again for a little Inspiration 101!

Since starting this series, we've looked at using Journaling cards and magazine ads.  This week, I thought I would use something most of use on a regular basis for card inspiration, Pinterest!  I have to admit, I am a Pinterest junkie!  I have two main boards I use for card inspiration, one of which is entitled such, and the other Color My World.  I know we can all agree, color is extremely important in setting the tone of your project.

So today, I chose this fabulous watercolor image from among them.  Taking the colors, as well as the white sentiment on top of it, I created this card.  I started with using distress ink, on watercolor paper.

Using the sentiment and the circle image from Cookie Sprinkles, I stamped and embossed in both white and gold powder over top of my watercolor splotches.  

I let my panel dry well overnight and placed it under a stack of magazine to flatten it out.  To make sure that it adhered nice and flat, I used super strong adhesive to adhere it to my Kraft card base.

I hope you were inspired today, and will take an image you have pinned, and just go for it!  We would love to see.

To Color, or Not To Color?
That is the question!
Hey there! It's Samantha, and I'm super excited to share my cards today! Today we're going to be looking at coloring, paper piecing, or both for your stamped images! :)

And I'm using one of my very favorite stamp sets from the last release - 'Press it, Wash it'! That dust bunny just gets me everytime - so so so cute!!

I acually ended up making 3 cards with this set (again!!); that's how much I love it!
My first card was just copic colored, onto some super thick  white paper. I love it!

The images on this stamp set are SO much fun to color!

Then I thought, how fun would it be add some shade with the copics onto some already fun, patterned paper!! Have any of you tried that before...I love the way it looks!!

As you can see, I did a LOT of coloring outside the image - that was mostly to make sure only a small amount of the shading showing up! (I didn't want to cover all of the pattern of the paper up!)

And here's a card with this technique!

I LOVE the tiny bit of dimension the coloring adds here!! So FUN!

Here's a quick comparison of all three methods!

If you want to see the card i made with just patterned paper - check it out on my blog, here!
What is your favorite way to add life to your images?

Let me know, I would LOVE to check out your cards!
You can also upload your images to the Sweet Stamp Shop flickr group, here!

Oh, and you're NOT going to want to miss the new release coming up here next week!!! SO exciting! Make sure you check it out!

Thanks again for stopping by!!

Coloring On Vellum How To!

Happy New Year Sweet Friends!  It's Charlene here with you today. When I was on an excursion at Michaels recently, I saw these massive beautiful flowers made out of fabric.  Swoon...they were gorgeous!  Being a crafter on a budget, I went to my stash and see if I could re-create it....

Coloring on vellum is one of the techniques that I learned a while back. The finished product looks amazing and has that airy look to it.  AND it's super easy to do!

  1. Can I just say that the Elegant Flowers stamp set is beyond amazing? Yep, love this set! I stamped multiple images onto vellum using Versamark ink then heat embossed with white powder.  
  2. Now it's time to color.  Ready?  All you need are inks of your choice and q-tips.  Start at the base of the flower and color upwards.  Add more color until you are happy with the shading. Fussy cut the flowers and assemble.  That's pretty much it!

Here's the finish product:
I assembled the flowers to make a giant focal point.  The layers add so much dimension.  I'm happy with how this turned out, it looks like the flower that I saw at the store, but in vellum. :)

Here's the rest of the card:
I added a sentiment from Yummy Love stamp set to finish off the card.  That's another amazing set!

We would love for you to share your creations using SSS stamps.  You can head on over to Flicker or to FB.  

You can visit me on my blog, HERE.

Thank you so much for stopping by!  Have an awesome day!

Painless Tattoo!

Hi everyone!  Hope you are having a wonderful Monday morning and are ready for a bit of sketchy inspiration!  This week you are getting a sneak peak of the upcoming sketch over at CAS(E) this Sketch (shhh...don't tell anyone).  I must admit that this one had me stumped for a bit but I'm really loving what came out of my crazy mind when I finally figured it all out!  Here's the sketch:

 I was stuck in the feather zone for awhile with the sketch and just couldn't get past them.  Finally, I thought of balloons and that started the creative juices flowing.  I turned to Fall Gratitude for my balloon shapes.  Seriously, would these not be the coolest balloons ever with those patterns?  I also had to use Elegant Sentiments...how could you resist that script?  It's gorgeous! 

I found some splattered/bleached paper in my stash which made a perfect background for my balloons.  I stamped each balloon on other papers in my scrap stash and to give them a little fun twist, I used Glossy Accents for dimension and shine.  I embossed "happy" to make sure it stood out against the background and it turned out perfectly.  I connected my balloons to the sentiment with some hand drawn strings.  I love how it all came together and was thrilled that I pulled it off without feathers!  ;)

For my 2nd take on the sketch I layered the rose image from Elegant Flowers on top of the heart from Cookie Sprinkles.  These two images worked perfectly with a sentiment from Chalkboard Sign.  I did a little tweaking to the images that I'll show you in a second.


For some reason, when I layered the flower bud and the heart on my colored paper, my mind went straight to a tattoo.  So, I decided to look up different means of making an image look like a tattoo.  By adding some simple lines, some shading with copics, and a little reflection triangle on the heart, I think I got a pretty good looking tattoo for my card.  A simple technique but I think it's a fun one to try out!  Check it out:

To complete the card, I did a cheat chalkboard background using some patterned paper I had lying around that already had the chalkboard look.  I went with the Chalkboard Sign sentiment, "I Love You" because I thought it worked well with a tattoo image and I embossed it to make it pop.  Here's the completed card.  What do you think?

I hope you enjoyed my two takes on the sketch coming up this week at CAS(E) this Sketch and got a new technique to try with your Sweet Stamp Shop stamps.  Have fun with the sketch and share your creations on our Flickr group.  Don't forget to check out the Sweet Stamp Shop Facebook page for up-to-date info and offers.  Plus, a new release is right around the corner and believe me, you won't want to miss it!  Have a great week!


Cards for Hospitalized Kids
Mackenzie is a normal happy, healthy college student, but her life hasn’t always been normal. In 2011, while her friends were enjoying their senior year, Mackenzie spent weeks in a hospital waiting for a new heart. During that difficult waiting period, Mackenzie received multiple cards from strangers letting her know they cared. That year, Mackenzie got more than a new heart. She received love from the hearts of many caring people who contributed to Cards for Hospitalized Kids.

About Cards for Hospitalized Kids
Cards for Hospitalized Kids (CFHK) is an internationally recognized charitable organization that strengthens the spirits of hospitalized kids through uplifting, handmade cards. Individuals and groups across the world, make handmade cards and send them in to CFHK for distribution in hospitals nationwide.

Cards for Hospitalized Kids was founded in 2011 by Jen Rubino, who had undergone multiple surgeries during her childhood to correct a connective tissue and bone disease. She received a handmade card from a hospital volunteer and it not only brightened her day, it inspired her to create CFHK. She was just 16 at the time.

Cards for Hospitalized Kids distributes cards to hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses nationwide each month, as well on as major holidays. We want to give cards to as many hospitalized kids as possible and we need your help. 

How to Get Involved
For complete instruction on how to get involved, visit their web site. CFHK welcomes people from all walks of life, age, location, and artistic ability. All you have to do is donate a little time and creativity to impact a sick child.

In general, CFHK accepts encouraging cards with messages like Stay Strong, I Believe in You,  or You’re Amazing. At the request of hospitals, CFHK asks that you do not write 'get well', 'feel better' or other comments related to the child's illness because some of the patients suffer from medical conditions that are chronic, life-long, progressive and/or terminal.  Also, please do not include any personal information or religious comments. Hospitals treat patients with various religious beliefs.
After signing your name on the cards, send them to:

Cards for Hospitalized Kids
6567 N. Olmsted
Chicago, IL 60631

Today, Mackenzie is a thriving college student who is no longer on the receiving end of CFHK. She is actually a contributor!! What an inspiration.

Below is a card I made to give to Cards for Hospitalized Kids using the Supermom Set.