Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Graduation Card & Starting a business

I have offered my services out to my friends, and to be honest, I am very honored by their response to my new found fun.  I have a couple orders, but here is what I came up with for a friend's niece's graduation card.

I think that my skills with flowers are becoming more and more refined. Next on the list, destressing.  I hope that is the right word. I find that a lot of what I see on the web that I like has that "natural" look to the flowers. Upon research, people purposely ruin the edges to get the result. We'll have to see if this is for me. I'm not sure how I feel about not having a clean line on a finished product. But I guess a little change is good for everyone right??

In addition to making a card or two this week, I have actually made this whole thing into an official business. As you may and or may not know, I have an easy shop where I have put up a few of my creations so that maybe, someone out there, may want to purchase.

After much debating, deliberation, you name the 'd' word and it was done, I decided to take my little adventure in crafting to the next level. The only person I know with any sort of knowledge on the matter is my older brother, who is an accountant. No, he is not the boring pencil pusher, even though I think he might be at work, he is a fun energetic guy.

My first concern was taxes. Hence the email to my brother. He gave me a few suggestions and onto the State Treasury Department's website I went. Step 1, register the trade name. I will honestly tell you, that in Maryland they have old buildings. And in old buildings I guess they never need air conditioning? Maybe? So poor Mike (my husband) sat in the Dept. of Taxation with me for an hour with it being 90 degrees out and just a fan or two in the office for circulation. I will tell you, that man didn't complain once! I kind of get the feeling he is as excited as I am about this.  So once I got my official name registered and paid my $75 (this included the same day $50 expedited fee) we were directed to the taxation office so that I could get a tax ID# for sales tax. The office was on a different floor, which was much cooler, but with 15 people in front of me and it still being 85 degrees in the room, I opted for the online version of this step.

Within 24 hours I had a trade name, my tax and business license processed, and just for my impatience, our own AC unit went down when we got home. I guess that's what one would call karma.  Needless to say, I am officially a business owner. Wahoo!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mother's Day - Mike's mom

After getting my mom's card in the mail, I knew it was time to get started on my husband's mom's card. Now Mike's mom is always so positive and easy to please with gifts, she really is a "it's the thought that counts" kind of lady. So with her card I decided to make an all I one card/gift box combo. I had seen a crafting magazine that had the cutest little purse gift box and as soon as we had decided on her gift I just knew I had to make one! And with the Pandora charm off to be engraved, I had my work cut out for me.

I was inspired and motivated to create something different than I ever had. Mrs. Rose is a big black and white fan when it comes to color schemes, so I knew where to start with color.  As I cut the black patterned paper for her box, I knew I had made the right choice.  Now I did this with the Wild Card cartridge, but it didn't seem to have an actual flap to close the box with.  This took some deep thought for me to figure out.  How was I going to make the shadow box base into an actual box to put a gift in??

I had been working in the Cricut software studio, so I pulled up the liner that matched my box and stretched it to the size of the box plus the side fold. That way I could attach the flap onto the edge of the box which would allow it to be opened and closed.  I'm pretty sure I did this the hard way, but hey, it worked out wonderfully!

The black box had a wonderful embossed pattern to the paper but once I started adding white flowers to it, I felt like it needed more. On impulse I cute a few flower petals out of some yellow paper.  This really made the flowers stand out and have more dimension.

I then measured the box to ensure my inside card was the correct size and got to cutting the card stock for the inner card.  I really still felt like I was lost in the process, but once I started putting the yellow with the inner flowers everything came together.  And with no real help from my cats, I finally figured out the best way to tie the ribbon around. Apparently spools of ribbon are about as exciting as catnip since my little Juno (a 1.5 year old Siamese/Himi mix) could not leave it alone!  I'm honestly surprised I got the ribbon around the box without teeth marks in it. I had decided to simply thread a thinner piece of ribbon through the Pandora charm and tie it in back of the card insert. This turned out so cute with the engraved "mom" facing out of the shadow box!

So after approximately 7 hours of work, within 30 seconds, Mrs. Rose had the box open and was enjoying her gift. I had to laugh when she said that she might need to hang the card on the fridge. I had to tell her that I had almost put magnet strips on the back of the insert just in case she had the desire.  I really did get that proud kid feeling again with my art.

What made it even funnier, was that when I got home from our Mother's Day dinner, I saw a post on the Cricut forum about this card. And yes, I do post some of my projects on the forums. It is a great place for feedback and to get great ideas!! But one of the ladies asked if I had a hard time "letting my baby go" and I just laughed. Mike thought it was pretty funny as well, but there is a lot of truth to it. I had a hard time mainly because I wanted it to be perfect. Just like every other project!! So I had to actually see someone's response to my art, not just a fun phone call of appreciation.  I'm sure that as my confidence builds I that feeling will go away, but I never want to lose that child like feeling of wanting my art on the fridge :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mother's Day - My mom

If anyone has every met my mother, they would know that I have a lot to live up to when it comes to creativity.  She is just naturally crafty, and if she sees it, she can always find a way to create it. My mother also knows that I've been dabbling in my own arts and crafts activities with making cards and couldn't wait to get her card in the mail.  Needless to say, there was little internal pressure I felt because, as with everything I have ever made, I wanted her to like it!!

I set out to Michael's to get just the right paper. And once again, I was overwhelmed by the paper aisle. It sounds silly, but you really need to know what you want when you walk in or you could spend at least an hour in this aisle playing around with color combos and never making up your mind.  I settled on a couple combo packs of thick patterned paper and ventured out to find colored buttons. Now this sounds pretty simple, but for someone who has not been in the crafting world for quite a few years, I had some trouble even finding the section.  It was kind of like finding Velveeta cheese in a grocery store you have never been in.  Every store seems to have it in a different location! Apparently, buttons are not a large enough category to get their own aisle topper, but I did find them after wandering through just about every aisle in the store with the yarn and knitting materials.  I'm just glad I live near a smaller Michael's, or this could have been a couple hour adventure. So I grabbed a couple packs of shiny bright colored buttons and off I went.

When I got home I decided that I was going to make this card 100% from scratch like the birthday card I had just made. I had purchased some wonderful thick card stock which would be perfect for the card and matching envelope! So the Wild Card cartridge came out, and I got to cutting!

I had seen a couple of cards on the Cricut Community Forum that had beautiful embossing to add dimension to the flowers. My Cuttlebug has become my new best friend (second, of course, to the Expression 2 machine). The extra little raised portions on the flowers really made each layer stand out more. Then I topped them off with little button centers.  I don't know what it is about buttons, but I've always loved the look on handmade cards!  Then for the envelope I put my newly found brad skills to work, and used a single brad for the center of that flower. All of them really turned out bright and happy, full of dimension.

Once I had the pattern and everything where I wanted it, I realized I forgot the most important thing.... "Happy Mother's Day."  Probably the most important thing when it comes to an actual Mother's Day card.  So I picked up the phone and called my coworker, or lifeline if you will.  I had no idea how to cut the letters small enough. Every time I tried with the card stock, the letters just kept ripping and I had to start over.  This would be a very valuable lesson to learn. Always ensure your words fit before you start gluing!!!!

My lifeline recommended picking up embellishments or trying my hand at vinyl.  Vinyl?? Like the decorative writing on the walls?? Yes. She really meant I could use that material.  I had no idea! So off to the craft store I go!  Three packs of vinyl later, I am ready to go.  To make a long story short, embellishments would have been the easy way to go. I apparently know no such road, and spent 3 more hours playing with the vinyl, watching tutorials on how to cut it, and finally getting my words onto the card. Again, tweezers were my best friend!!

After all of that effort I finally was able to mail the card.  But I didn't have the heart to let the envelope get dirty. So I went to the post office, got a bubble lined envelope and mailed it out USPS priority. Yeah, a little overboard. But I wanted my mom to get the full effect of the card. Envelope included!! And yes, she loved it! I told her when I come to visit that I better see it on her refrigerator. I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm joking, and in a way I am, but there is always that inner first grader in all of us that wants to see our hard work and creativity on mom's fridge. That's just part of being a daughter.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Project 2: The first Birthday Card

Fortunately for me, a couple days after my first card was in the mail, someone had a birthday!! I was so energized and ready to learn some new skills.  At this point, I went ahead and purchased a couple of cartridges to expand my capabilities with my Cricut cutter.  For those of you who are not familiar with these, it's essentially the software that tells my machine what it can cut.  After several trips to Michael's, A.C. Moore, and hours on Ebay I now had the Calligraphy Collection and Mother's Day Bouquet cartridges. Yes, that's 3 different shopping outlets, and two cartridges. It was almost overwhelming sorting through each one trying to see which one I would get the most use from. Especially since the cartridges are about $49.99-$59.99 a piece!

So I sat down and sorted through my new stacks of paper.  This task was almost as daunting as picking out cartridges! I had made the decision when selecting paper at the store to just purchase a rainbow palette of card stock paper and a couple packs of patterned 12x12 paper.  So now I had to bring it all together with a purpose. This purpose, a card for a girl at work, that just is not a girlie girl.  So out with my favorite color, pink, and onto a more neutral palette.

I made the decision to go with a rich green and blue theme, and here is the result:

The card with matching envelop
I think I finally got the hang of utilizing brads with paper. Part of my success was definitely the brad setter.  It made it so easy to pierce the paper then secure the brad. If you have ever worked with brads and have acrylic nails, this is a tool made for you! I picked up one of these for a coworker and she agrees completely that brad life is easier with the tool!

I also discovered that I will need to gain a little better understanding of photography and lighting.  I swear the colors are a perfect match, but I just couldn't capture it with the camera. I had purchased a camera for my husband for Christmas, and I think it's about time I spend some quality time with it.

Next stop, Mother's Day cards!!
Outside 'to' label
The inside

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Starting off...

A couple weeks ago I set out on the adventure of picking out a "Thank You" card for my parents. They had sent us a very unexpected Easter present, and I wanted a special card to really show them our appreciation for their generosity.  I've always been the creative type, but never had the time to actually sit down and do a project from start to finish.  So that day I decided to make my own card.

A trip to Barnes & Noble, led to a phone call to a coworker asking the question, "how much are those Cricut cutters?" I had found a magazine that was all about the Cricut die cutter and saw some wonderful cards and scrapbook layouts that really inspired me. Well, first she laughed at me, then she told me they were fairly pricey.  I explained what I wanted to accomplish, and within 30 minutes, I was at A. C. Moore, Cricut Expressions 2 in hand, and sifting through the paper aisle trying to find the right colors for my card.  And yes, I still had my friend on the phone walking me through my buyers remorse before I even paid the sale price of $249.99.  Her reassurance got me throughout the checkout process and into my car.  I assured myself that they had a 60 return policy and if I just can't get into it, I can always return it.

The result of this anxiety resulted in my first creation.

The front
The inside note

After several hours of tweaking, and constant "yes honey, it looks fine" from my supportive husband I mailed my first card. My mom loved it, and I decided that I will not be using the store's return policy. My little Cricut was here to stay! Next post to come... Mother's Day!