Mountain Bike Birthday Card

Is there anything more challenging than a masculine paper project? Not because it’s hard to find masculine prints and embellishments, but because you have to restrain your urge to glitter everything in your path… or maybe that’s just  me.

This is a project my mom put together for my cousin’s birthday. She was sending a check and therefore had the additional challenge of making the envelope fit (and disguise) the gift.

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There were a lot of techniques and a few firsts in this project. My cousin is an avid mountain biker, so the theme was obvious, especially with the amazingly detailed Jolee’s stickers available. The bike sticker sort of dictated the color scheme as well, although the striped piece on the front is a scrap of Basic Grey’s Oxford collection from one of the projects I had going at the same time – it doesn’t match perfectly, but it keeps that grungy, outdoorsy “guy” feeling going.


The gears are from a Tim Holtz collection. I love Tim Holtz and have a habit of collecting his embellishments, but they don’t usually work into my projects – in this case, the gears mimicked bike gears perfectly, and the bronze pieces matched that striped paper nicely.

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Unnecessary grommets! Seriously, these have no purpose in this project (in others it might be ribbon or jewelry) besides making it look more like “hardware”. I love hardware on masculine projects, my personal favorite being brads that look like screw heads.

Mom bought a Crop-O-Dile, the one tool that absolutely terrified me every time I saw it at the store. What is it? Why does it have so many levers and punches? Is this some sort of craft torture device? The answers to all my questions came the first time mom used it on this project: it’s awesome, easy, and means I need grommets on EVERYTHING. There’s a side to punch, a side to set the grommet, and it takes no more effort than a craft squeeze punch. Nice!

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The trickiest part of this card was the check envelope. We wanted the focus to be the bike, so we sort of wanted to hide the check – but not so well that he never found his birthday gift! The orange paper is actually folded to make a sleeve with a short pocket in the front (where the bike tag sits), a technique we stole from the exploding box patterns we were learning at the same time; and it’s tall enough to fit the check. We knew we wanted to put a tab on top that was irresistible to pull, thus preventing him from throwing away the check by accident, but neither of us was quite sure the bank would accept a crafted check, so we decided not to put the tag directly onto the paper. What you see here is two scraps of used laminate sheet (you know, the pieces you cut off once you’ve laminated something else… nothing gets thrown away in this craft room!) taped around the edges to make a clear envelope for the check. The tab is attached to the top, and it all slips into the orange sleeve. The tab was created using a Tim Holtz Sizzix die, thought it’s easy enough to freehand one of these. I liked the window in this one that allowed the striped paper to be pulled across the project.

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The back of the bike tag has the “card” part of this whole ensemble. A nice quote about biking and a place for the family to sign, framed in the two colors from the envelope to make sure it coordinates. You can probably tell the orange paper is pre-distressed, and certain parts were prettier than others. My trick for printing on the part that you want to use? Type up your sentiment in a normal word processing document and print it on plain paper. Then cut out the piece of patterned or colored paper that you’re actually going to use and tape it over the sentiment on the white paper. Put that whole sheet of paper back in the tray and print away! The printer will always print in the same place unless you change something, so you can predict exactly where your words will land. Simple!

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Aside from mastering a masculine styled project, my favorite part of this is definitely the clear check envelope. It’s clever, well-hidden, but still a part of the overall piece. The only drawback is that it requires a larger envelope (we sent this one in a padded manila envelope), but it’s a very minor problem if you’re going to deliver the card in-person, include it inside a box or bag, or if (like me) you already send your crafted cards in padded manila envelopes just to protect them from the trip through the postal system. 😉


Black & White with a Pop of Color


Welcome back to Tanoshii Crafts! The two-page spread pictured above is from the same scrapbook as the Tonari no Totoro page in my previous entry. The inspiration for this one was actually a contest from the Fisk-a-teers, titled “black and white with a pop of color”.

I have an iPad app called Color Splash (there is a similar app available for Mac) which allowed me to achieve the black and white photo effect in both pictures. Essentially, the program converts my photos into black and white, and then I use a stylus to color in the parts of the photo that I want to pop in their original color. It’s super easy to get this awesome effect, and then I just save the photo, move it back to my computer, and send it off to be printed with my other photos.

Since the theme of this page is Japanese fashion, I wanted the look to be a little bit edgy and modern. I also wanted it to be apparent that the subjects in the photos are in Japan, since the cropping of the photos makes it hard to tell. With my criteria being black and white and Japanese, I pretty quickly fell on the idea of using Japanese newspapers as my background; however, the challenge here was finding Japanese newspapers now that I’m living in America. Google to the rescue: an image search for shinbun (Japanese for ‘newspaper’) gave me plenty of results. I put my favorite images into Photoshop and did some minor editing to make sure they all had a similar look with nice, sharp contrast, then printed them out on ordinary printer paper.

The actual background was created by cutting my printed newspapers into strips, and laying them out until I was satisfied with the effect. Since the base paper wasn’t going to show, I actually taped the strips to the paper inserts that came in my album’s page protectors – it was cost-effective and I didn’t have to cut up any of my nice cardstock (or even pull out a ruler!).

To emphasize the color pops in the pictures, I wanted to bring the colors out into the page. A slim border around each picture in a coordinating color really accentuates the photos, and the tiny pink stones in the title are just enough to pull in the third color. I framed the photos a second time in black because I find that clean black frames really bring pictures into focus on a page – it’s a go-to technique that I use in a lot of layouts. Even a thin border will make a picture seem more “on purpose”, especially when there’s a lot of pattern going on in the background.

The title on this page was created using one of my favorite new resources: alphabet stacks. Seriously, everything seems to come in stacks lately, I’ve found journaling stacks, border stacks… but alphabet stacks are by far my favorite. If you haven’t seen these wonderful products yet, it’s kind of like having a collection of post-it note pads: you have one stack for each die-cut letter, and there are several of each of three designs or colors in each stack. The result is so many letters in coordinating styles, it would be months before you found yourself without E’s or A’s or whichever letter you usually run out of first. In this case, I had a black and white set (perfect for my theme) and I mixed up the styles to add a bit of interest to my title.

As far as embellishments went on this layout, I wanted to stay pretty simple – the background alone is chaotic enough – but I still needed something to draw your eye to the foreground and emphasize those photos a little more. The rhinestone swirl on the left side is great with the photo of the girls, but I wanted the picture on the right to be more masculine, despite the rather flamboyant color of the men’s jeans. The studs down the side of the frame were a good way to add some embellishment (and yes, even a little sparkle) to a layout without going too feminine; a balance which is sometimes tricky, especially in scrapbooking. Plus, it helped me to achieve that edgy look I had been going for all along.

The continuity of this layout was really important this time. I didn’t want to have two coordinating pages as much as I wanted to have one big layout, both because of the theme of the page and the photos which held more weight together than separate; as well as the fact that these are once again 8×8 pages, so I had less space than usual to fit all of my elements. I laid the photo of the girls across both pages, but was careful to cut it in a way that neither cut off anyone’s limbs nor split the girls apart – neither would be very aesthetically pleasing. In this way, we still have the effect of the photo being laid across both pages, effectively joining the two sides together, but I only cut off an unimportant corner of the photo.

Sometimes it amazes me how much thought can go into a single scrapbook layout. Much of what we do when we’re crafting is unconscious – something looks cool, or really seems to work, but we might not be sure why. I find that really delving into why can help bring interesting elements and effects into other projects, and also helps to make me a better crafter. Hopefully some of these techniques inspired you to try something new. Keep an eye on this blog for future updates, and if you want to be notified of new posts, feel free to sign up via email using the link on the right side of the page. Ja ne! (See you later!)