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Another busy week and some Halloween coins begun

Time is flying by. Another dentist appointment (this time a simple cleaning) and my booster jab, my knitting mate visiting and darling daughter’s upcoming birthday are the highlights. I have another notebook in review, this time a knitting one and I am looking forward to ordering my author copies cause this one is one that I will use for sure. It was also fun to do. I am working on another KDP item that is quite involved but I am not ready to share that yet as it needs a lot more work on it. On the more crafty front, I have some Halloween coins in progress. The competition on the Facebook group I am in (random draw, so not really a competition, just fun) is for “Fall/Autumn” but I have had a Halloween-y one in my head for a while.

I am harking back to a card I made when I was regularly doing the Stampotique challenges. I came across it during the Grand Tidy and it stuck in my head. I just love the creepy vintage image.

Of course for that I had to make the size of the card fit the Stampotique head. This time I decided to be a little less bloodthirsty and go for a more charming vintage look. How unlike me! The first thing I did was take the vintage image and digitally alter it to fit a coin. I wanted a two layer look so I created a base background as well as the focal image circle:

I printed and punched, then added some cracked glass stamping to the bases

I gave the background a little spritz of some gold-pearlescent spray for a bit of glitz.

Totally impossible to see, but it is there. I wanted the centre circles to be popped up, and I only had white fun foam. I was able to edge the foam with a black Sharpie and now you can’t see that white between the layers. Yay! No need to buy black fun foam

It is pretty amazing the difference between the coated paper I am always going on about and the print of the original card in high quality on cardstock. Check out the photo of the actual circles printed! I was thinking I could use up some of those Tiny Text stickers from a looooonnnnggg time ago, but I don’t really have enough to say much of anything, not even BOO! four times. So as the week is crazy, I have to hit pause. I will finish them today I am sure (I hope) and show them done tomorrow. I’ll find the card as well so I can show you a photo of the card next to the coins. I really want you to be able to see the difference between the cardstock vs. the coated cardstock clearly.

Now, I need to do a bit of cooking!


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More ATCs with the printed versions from the tutorial – just having a play…

This has been fun! I printed the sheets I made from the tutorial the other day and thought about all the different ways I could tart them up to make cards. A fair few! I showed this one, which had doodling, stamping and some extra gold bits added:

I decided to cut some of the faces out from the fairly busy backgrounds…

use another bit of stuff on my desk (one of the metal tape backgrounds) and add Frida on top. Easy and effective, I think.

Then I grabbed the gold-dotted tissue paper and cut a Frida in half and …

Really love that one. Then I got on a roll and totally forgot to take any step-by-step photos!! But even so you should easily be able to see what went in to each one.

One thing I will point out it the top right? I was able to stamp on that OVER the printed image, with black archival ink and it is really hard, even in real life, unless you look closely, to see that. At this point that is all I had done to that card. I’m not mad keen on the second doodles one, but only because the face image is quite dark, probably too dark.

All in all this experiment has been fun. Now I just need to see if anyone actually works thru it and makes their own versions, and if they share. I hope so….


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Buckle up! Creating digital ATCs with free content and tools

Someone on one of the FB groups I am in for trading ATCs asked about my process for creating ones like the digital Frida ones that I then enhanced with stamping, doodling and embellishment. I tried to explain it but she doesn’t have the same tools I do and not the experience. I’m sure it all sounded a bit like gobbledegook to her. Which got me thinking – I have discovered a load of interesting free/public domain resources in my KDP journey and I have used a few online tools in my art in the past and I have recently played a bit with the free version of Canva, which is a design tool that has some nice features (better in the Pro version but the free one will do what we need, mostly) and is all online.

So the goal was to create some Frida Kahlo ATCs that were a bit like the ones I did last week. Could I do exactly them? No – I bought the lovely digital paper from a shop that is no longer in business and bought the full page digital stamp of images of Frida and spent a bit of time breaking it up into separate ATC sized .png blocks. But I could keep the flavour of my cards and show the process.

So we are going to break it down into steps, with options. First let’s look at the backgrounds. Like I said, I used digital paper. I had a look for similar digital paper and didn’t find anything free that I liked. If you know of Carolyn Dube, her Sparks of Artspiration would be great substitutes but I think that you had to have bought one of her classes to get them.

Here are a few other places that you could look at for free or public domain pieces

Unsplash is a free to use photo site that has some nice abstract images and I found two on the first page that I liked a lot. There are other similar sites, like Pexels, but also some fab museum sites that show public domain art that you can download. This link should take you to a Google search that lists a lot of them but honestly it can be a hard slog searching thru them. CC search is a great resource and by ticking CC0 as a filter you will get public domain works.

STEP 1: find an image that you like to use as your background. I picked a couple to play with from Unsplash.

The actual downloads are much, much bigger.

STEP 2: Find your focal point image. In this case, we are looking for a Frida Kahlo image that is B&W and a bit like a stamp or stencil. A quick google brings up LOTS, but narrowing that down to free-to-use images is harder. I found two that looked good. This one was the best one.

Ideally your image needs to be a .png and the background should be transparent. When You click on the image to download it, the image has the background still white. If you bought the Pro version of Canva they have a Remove Background tool but that is not available in the free version. So we have to jump thru another hoop first.

STEP 3: Go to a free online image convertor tool like this one. You want to select Convert to PNG in the sidebar, tick Remove background, then drag your image into the big green box and click Start conversion.

It will do it’s thing then your can click the option to DOWNLOAD your .png. When you do, you will have an image of Frida in black with a transparent background (basically all the white in the original will convert to transparent) although you may want to crop your image to remove the site promo.

So now you have your background and your focal image. It’s time to move over to Canva. You will need to sign up for the free version.

STEP 4: Build your sheet to print.

Canva is not hard to use, and there are many YouTube tutorials for it. I am going to give you really bare bones instructions so you can do this in the easiest way possible.

Click on the Create a Design button at the top of the page. I find this part super annoying cause I always forget it. You need to click Custom Size

and change the measurements to INCHES an click Create New Design

When the new window opens, click Uploads and simply drag your two images into the upload area. Then drag your background into the white design area and your Frida image over the top.

You will want to grab a corner and drag the background image to fill the 8.5 x 11 inch area. I did for my first one but forgot to show that here.

STEP 5: Size your Frida image to ATC size by grabbing a corner of the image and dragging it – measurements will show up to show you:

Now simply Right click on your Frida image and Copy/Paste her as many times as you like into the background. You can use the little rotation tool to move her around and perfectly place her over the background. The bordering lines will show you that you haven’t overlapped anything!

Once you are happy with the placement click the Download button. Click on The file type and select PDF – unless you want to buy the pro version, for me, PDF is the best format. Don’t select Cop lines or bleed or anything special. Just download!

Done. Now print them. I suggest using the coated cardstock that I have mentioned before for a really good, bright print. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you don’t let your printer scale your image.I have no idea how it looks on your machine and your printer but for me it is here:

Ignore the circle text, it’s the SCALE and 103% that you need to pay attention to. If it is not showing 100% you need to change it. Unless you have enough area around each “card” that you can trim them to the proper size of 2.5 x 3.5! My two look like this:

Cut them up into ATC sized cards

and tart them up as you like! This is just the basic process. Obviously if you buy nice digital paper – or even scan your own masterboard, for example, you can use that instead of a digital image.


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Digital ATCs – sort of

Yesterday was a black hole of unexpected issues, including a cancelled knitting session, a trip to the dentist, and a call to the Dr. Annoying and hopefully sorted out soon. For once I was not a bit ahead in my blog posts, so this is quite late. Something I had worked on a couple of weeks ago and then set aside, but it seemed like something I could finish up today – and my hints about something coming had to be put off because of stupid errors on my part – I might just have to hold on to that till next week. ANYWAY…

I had bought a digital element that was a full sheet of Frida Kahlo images as one image. With a lot of fiddling I extracted the images as individual items then framed them to fit an ATC. I then created a single sheet of digital paper that had the bits from about 5 or 6 different digital papers placed just so

Once I did that I was able to precisely overlay the images and create a single sheet to print

Once I printed them I decided to use those gel pens, the neon and gold ones, to tart up the print out

I really like making my stash work for me in ways I need it to, and I am not opposed to chopping up something if I think it will work better that way. I bought (total impulse) a set of bugs, stamps and dies. In the end I haven’t really used them like I expected

But one of the first things I did was cut away the little Fig. # bits. For a start, that bit is not included in the die-cutting area, and the extra makes it harder to line up the bit you do want to cut. Or at least it does for me. And I actually have used the words more often then the actual stamps/dies at this point.

It was a nice addition to each card, along with the gel pen doodles and some other stamping.

They still need something, but now I have other stuff to do so they won’t get finished till either later today or tomorrow, depending on when I feel up to it. This does bring me to my actual point. Other ATC makers, if you stumble on this, what is your feeling about digital ATCs – printed or printed and tarted up? On some sites it seems the are thought of as other, maybe not as good as ones made from scratch. There seems to be a hierarchy – hand painted or hand drawn, mixed media or collaged, printed + extras, just a print. I’m not sure I buy that, because I have seen some digital collage ATCs that are freakin’ amazing, and some hand-painted ones I would have been ashamed to tell people I was the one responsible for them! Thought?


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Arty Envelopes to download

My ATCs have begun to land and I am getting a LOT of questions about the envelopes. I thought I would do a post about them again, with some to download, made from freebie images and free digital papers.

The thing is this – the program I use to do this kind of work (and by the way, the book folding templates) is no longer supported. The Mac mini I use is from 2009 and while it is not the last one this program will work on, the new ones running Big Sur break the Intaglio completely. So I am nursing the poor thing along, doing frequent back-ups, and hoping it stays healthy. So while I COULD explain how I do these, there is little point. I have downloaded a few potential replacements and frankly none of them work as well as Intaglio.

Here are the ones I made. Clicking this link will download all four but you can print just the one you want if you select that page and print only the selected page.

And this one, which I like a lot.

The original files were pretty massive, so this PDF has been reduced using a Quartz filter. If the images are less that crystal clear and crisp, it was either that or a 30+mb file to download and stored on my blog. Trade-offs, ya know?

The images came from a variety of places. The quirky face is from CraftyHodges on YouTube, who I have linked to before. She has a number of downloads that would work very well for the sort of low-tech solution I will walk you thru, and I will use one of her sets to shoe the steps. The crazy cat dressed as Brunhilde comes from a free image collection from the Library Of Congress. The butterfly is from The Vintage Moth – old site, but still with some nice images. The lovely face is from Freepik, which is a site I have a paid membership to so am able to use and share the images without copyright concerns. I think the digital papers came mostly from Freepik but some might just be from my collection, the download link lost to time. You can use Freepik personally without attribution, for this sort of work, so go have a look. I’ve had a membership for years and it is well work the yearly fee for the wide range of digital goodies it has.

Rather than go into some long explanation of my steps to make digital envelopes, using a program that you can’t get anymore, tomorrow I’m going to explain how you can do this in a more low-tech way and show you the steps I would use. You will need a scanner at the very least, to make your own digitally, and to print at will, but you COULD use a photocopy machine in a pinch! I will try to add a lot of links to freebies so you can have a go.


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New coins and my collage process

I made a series of new coins for trading, using some of the collage images from Crowabout Studio B. I can’t tell you how much I am loving them. I thought I would share my process, which is more or less the same no matter what images I am using.

The first step is to decide on the background. This could be a masterboard I make, or it could be (as it was with these) a printed “paper” from the collections. Here is the Preview sheet form one of the kits I used, although I used bits and bobs from a few collections:

I take the images from the kit, using the individual .pngs and compile them into a single sheet to print, rather than printing the “collage sheets” you can see at the left, which would print all the images, many of which I might not need. I might create a grouping, rather than individual images as well. If I am using an image multiple times I might print it in a variety of sizes.I also research the quotes or words I might like to use and print those out – I often make a sheet with multiple font and/or size options.

If I am using a printed paper or a background I made, I will punch or cut the coin or card

Loving my new 2.5 inch punch!

and tart it up a little, maybe with some pen work, some stamping, and some spattering

then I cut out all the little elements. I usually ink the edges, but not always. It does help make bits from different kits work better together if they are all inked. Inking the edges of the coins or cards themselves also brings things into a more cohesive whole.

Once I get all the fronts composed, if I haven’t done that on heavy card, I will back them with my ATC backs that have been printed on heavy card or maybe sandwich a circle cut from cereal box card between – anything to give them some stability and some heft. I have recently been editing the sheet of backs I made to add those elements that don’t have to be handwritten (ie. my signature!)

Printing them and adding them to the backs, then a final ink around the entire coin and they are done!

Phew. Many steps but none of them too difficult. I am a little photo-heavy already so I will add the close up of the coins (and if I can get organized, another printable sheet of backs) tomorrow!


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Pre-decorated Envelopes

I was watching a very old You Tube video that I stumbled on by someone called Crafty Hodges. She is just my style! One of the things she has in her videos are links to some quirky character downloads. I love them all. There is a link in this video (and a few others) to some free downloadable sheets. In one video she shows an envelope she made using some digital papers and some of her collage clips. She built hers by printing out the bits, cutting them and sticking them to a blank envelope that she cut using a score board. I did that:

but I went a bit more high-tech. I cut an envelope of the size I wanted using the punch board.

Then, I converted it to a .png. When I add it to my program , I make it slightly sheer. I can see the score lines clearly. I drag in a piece of digital paper and arrange it so the template is over the paper. I can build the collage elements on the address area.

Then all I do is hide the envelope template layer and print, cut, and make the envelope as usual. To be honest I probably don’t have to ass the digital paper, just the template of the correct size is enought for placement, but I like to preview the whole thing to see how it all works. I can even add the address digitally before I print it. I messed up on the brown one (the envelope was actually too small for the folder holder and all the goodies in a double ATC card swap) but it was easy enough to cut out eh address part and stick it to the front of a bigger envelope

I think they are very cute and make nice goodies to send as happy mail. I will probably make a few more, but I also saw a video on making a “magazine journal” and I quite like the idea of that to fill with collage play. I am far too distractable. but I am having fun so what’s the harm?

LOL!