This one goes out to all the mommas out there who wake up in the middle of the night to the ominous “I forgot to move that stinkin’ elf!” thought.
We’ve all been there so, first off, kudos to you for bringing the magic of Christmas into your home with this delightful, and sometimes exhausting, tradition!
Second—with all the thought and effort that you are putting into this little houseguest’s antics, what are you doing to keep track of and preserve them?
A lot of us, especially when we feel like we’ve come up with an ingenious idea, will snap a picture and then share it on social media for everyone to see just how clever and witty we are. Once the holiday season is over, all of this hard work is lost to the fleeting audience we shared it with. There’s an easy way to change that this year!
With just a handful of products, create a mini album for the audience that matters most—your family! You’re already taking the pictures of all the pranks, tricks, and escapades your elf gets up to—and if you’re not, it isn’t too late to start! A mini album is a great place to collect and preserve these photos, as well as the fun and happy memories that go with them!
Understandably, sometimes your elf is just too tired from their trip to the North Pole and all he does is find a new place in the kitchen to sit. Take a daily picture anyway! If a daily picture or daily pose feels too ambitious, this type of mini album can easily just include the highlights, together with other holiday pictures you’ve taken. It’s your mini album, so you get to decide what goes into it!
At the end of the holiday season, review all of your elf photos and print out your favorites in a 4″ x 4″ format. Trimming the photos down makes slipping them into one of our mini albums a breeze!
Our 4″ x 4″ albums come with either 16 or 10 built-in protector sheets, giving you space for up to 32 or 20 photos, designed pages, and journaling cards, total. If you want to include more than what is allotted by the album, add a few trusty Flip Flaps™ to the mix!
Flip Flaps are exactly what they sound like—clear pockets with an adhesive on one end that attaches to your albums, allowing the pocket to flip open to reveal additional memories! This exclusive Close To My Heart product comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and is an excellent help for expanding your storytelling and enhancing your memory keeping experience.
We kept our album simple by creating a few pages using only patterned papers from our current Mix-in paper packet paired with the North Pole Mail and Merry Elf-mas stamp sets and Thin Cuts, along with a couple of quick embellishments. (See the recipe at the end of this post for a complete list of products used.) The North Pole Mail stamp set provides lots of fun sentiments that fit into a festive frame to pair with your photos. (This stamp can even give you some elf inspiration when you are running short on ideas!)
The Merry Elf-mas Stamp + Thin Cuts makes it easy to stamp and cut a paper elf that you can use to embellish the cover of your album, accent pages, or use in a variety of other ways. The set is a natural pick for this type of project and can assist in adding some of this same Christmas magic to other projects, too!
The point of a little album like this one isn’t to give you something else to do this holiday season. (No one needs that!) The hope is that this mini project inspires you to preserve what you are already doing! Take advantage of the beautiful products that are currently available for this special time of year and preserve the magical moments you are creating in your home!
Follow along with us, today, as we give you an inside scoop into our creative process for designing and creating embellishment clusters of your own!
Embellishment clusters are large, sometimes intricate, paper accent pieces that are capable of standing on their own but can also be incorporated into larger projects, like scrapbook layouts, cards, or gift bags. We call these accents embellishment clusters because we are essentially putting several individual embellishments together, in a cluster.
While there are no set rules on where to begin creating these clusters, and there is no right or wrong way to proceed, we do have a few guidelines and tips to get you get you started on a successful creative experience!
1. Stick to a Color Scheme
When you first start designing an embellishment cluster, we recommend that you stick to a specific color scheme and spice it up with a complementary color or more neutral shade here and there. When you work off of a set color palette, it’s easier to focus your creative energy more effectively, and you’re more likely to end up with an embellishment cluster you really love!
This shaker window cluster is a great example of how to create around a color scheme. By focusing on cool shades of blue, throwing in a couple of green hues, and incorporating a few neutral tones, the elements of this embellishment cluster effectively harmonize with each other for a beautifully coordinated result!
2. Use a Variety of Paper and Cardstock Options
Incorporating different types of paper not only brings variety in patterns but in texture as well. Using our unique patterned papers next to our heavier, solid-colored cardstock helps to bring a nice variance to embellishment clusters.
If you’re looking to keep things a little simpler with the embellishment cluster itself, you can also consider saving more textured elements for the background.
With the card shown above, we kept things a little simpler overall and created exclusively with cardstock. Rather than featuring textured elements on the embellishment cluster itself, we used a large Thin Cuts die and two coordinating cardstock colors to create a gorgeous textured backdrop for this simple embellishment cluster!
3. Layer, Layer, Layer!
A great embellishment cluster often includes a few layers and dimension. Even a simple embellishment cluster should have at least one layered element to make sure it stands out from whatever background you may end up putting it on.
With this embellishment cluster, we made sure to create multiple layers so it will have some extra pop once it’s placed on a scrapbook page. (Using dimensional adhesives, like 3-D foam tape, are a great way to ensure that your embellishment clusters have added dimension, as well!)
4. Follow the Rule of Thirds
Incorporating this photography technique into your embellishment clusters is a great way to ensure that they remain balanced and can even help to simplify your design process. If you’re unfamiliar with what the rule of thirds entails, it’s basically the process of dividing your subject or scene into three distinct sections, making sure that each one is visually balanced with the others.
With this embellishment cluster, imagine that there’s a 3″ x 3″ grid over it. With this imaginary grid applied, you’ll notice that the butterfly and floral accents are fairly close to intersection points on the grid, while the stamped “Bloom & GROW” title occupies the center square. By distributing the butterfly accent, stamped title, and floral accent in this way, it ensures that the entire cluster remains balanced. (Check out our photo composition blog post for a more in-depth explanation about the rule of thirds.)
5. Be Flexible
When it comes to crafting, you don’t always have to use crafting materials for their intended purpose. Take a look at this cute little cluster, for instance:
The envelope you see here was actually created using a stitched hexagon Thin Cuts die, folding the sides of the cut hexagon shape into its center! Re-purposing die-cut shapes, incorporating paper scraps, and even trimming patterns or icons from other patterned papers for use in an embellishment cluster is an excellent way to make sure your work stays fresh, fun, and completely unique!
6. Work Smarter, Not Harder
Once you find a design, color combination, or shape pairing you love, stick with it for a few more embellishment clusters! This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to re-make the same identical embellishment cluster over and over again. Simply switching out a single element can make a huge difference!
If a single, simple change isn’t doing enough, you can do a more drastic re-design while retaining the overall shape and combination of elements. These two shaker window clusters are a prime example of how different colors, patterns, and stamped images can be incorporated into a pre-existing design for a beautiful, brand-new result!
Another way to work smarter is to think about future crafts and prepare for them while you’re in your creative zone! If you use a Thin Cuts metal die to cut an element for an embellishment cluster, cut a few more for future use! If you use a Cricut Design Space™ file to create your cluster, make sure to save it so you can return to it the next time you want to create a beautiful embellishment cluster!
There’s no hard-fast way to create embellishment clusters, but by holding yourself to a few basic guidelines like these, you can fast-track your creativity and make absolutely gorgeous embellishments that are completely unique to you!
How have you been using embellishment clusters? If this a brand-new concept to you, what’s the first thing you want to create with an embellishment cluster?
We have the perfect project to help inspire and motivate us this new year as we strive to live intentionally—vision boards!
Our Maker community recently created 12″ × 12″ vision boards using our custom wood frames and we’re loving how each turned out so uniquely beautiful!
A vision board helps you clarify and stay focused on what truly matters to you. What inspires us most about this concept is that everyone chooses different images, photos, ephemera, etc., to help represent their goals. When you mix in beautiful patterned papers, stamps that provide inspiration, and photos you can print in any size, you have no limits to the creative expression of your vision.
Here are a few examples of what our team created. Each person was given the same collection of basic supplies, yet their boards are all so different, just like their creators.
This 12″ × 12″ framed vision was created using half of one of our scrapbook patterns (Make It from Your Heart Vol. 1, pattern 4) with a mix of stamping, handwriting, and, of course, bling—achieving that perfect blend of clean images and personal touches! The outer frame was stained using a stamp pad and sponge, adding color while still showing the wood grain.
This layout uses SVG cut files mixed with stamping and stickers to create a large title. Tags and polaroid-like frames help bring emphasis to the elements on the page. Remember, if you don’t have a photo of your aspirations, the internet is your friend! You can find any image and print them just as you would a photo to help you document your vision. This frame was covered with a light color of Distress Oxide™ ink to give a more solid coverage to the wood.
This board uses the awesome collage template found at Persnickety Prints. Paired with our Multi Circle Windows Thin Cuts, you can create a template of your photos and frame it with this versatile die-cut shape. Use the negative space circles from the die to create a banner for added detail. This concept lets you put small images as one focal point in your frame and create a reference list to support it. We colored the wood frame and a few wood embellishments with Gloss Spray, which added intense color as well as a little shimmer.
This next idea makes the pattern paper really shine! We love using the retro polaroid style to make photos pop off the page. This was done with an SVG file, but you can easily print from Pernsickety’s 3″ × 4″ retro prints for the perfect uniform display of your photos and goals. Mix in some stamped sentiments for inspiration, and make things happen!
This last idea uses four 12″ x 12″ frames to create one large wall display. This multi-frame approach allows you to focus each quadrant on a different subject. Here, we’ve set goals for family history, creativity, home, travel and fitness. Look at all the ways the various photo print sizes can be used to help you visualize your goals. These frames were painted with black acrylic paint.
We hope these creative displays we shared for our 2021 visions will inspire you to create one for yourself. Manifesting your vision through photos paired with written words truly help realize what is possible. Putting a beautiful collection together will undoubtedly inspire you to create the life you desire for the new year!
We’ve all been there. No matter how much we enjoy creating, eventually there comes a time where we find that our creative juices are anything but flowing. It is nothing to feel bad about. Lulls come and go and are part of the creative process. However inevitable these ruts may be, we do at least have some control over how long we allow ourselves to stay in them. Below are five suggestions to get out of that brain-lock and find your muse.
Carve out a creative space.
Dedicate a physical place for your crafting and take the time to nest. Make it a place that reminds you of how much you love scrapbooking or cardmaking (or both!) and why. While craft rooms can be fabulous, this creative space doesn’t have to be an entire room. A desk or a table work just as well. Include quotes, photos, finished projects, supplies—whatever supports your creative energy. Once your place is all set up, don’t let it get stale. Keep wanting to spend time there by keeping it up with a cute new pillow, or quote, or photos, etc. Make this the place you physically go to, and want to go to, when you work on your art.
A physical place is just the beginning of a creative space. Before going to your place, make sure your mind is going with you, too! Clear your mind of stresses to make room for new ideas to sprout and grow. Everyone does this a little bit differently. For some, going on a walk or a drive does the trick. Others may require locking the door, turning on some music, and dancing without inhibitions. Whatever your process, do your best to clear your mind and stay present before you sit down to create.
You’ve carved out a creative space, both physically and mentally. Now, the next thing is to show up. Set time aside for the thing that you love and make it the thing to do at that time. Add it to your daily, weekly, or monthly schedule. The important thing is that you include it in your routine and that you actually take the time to do it. Even if you don’t have a project that you are currently working on, feed your creativity. Sit down in your place and create something. Remove the pressure of creating for a specific reason. You create because you love to.
Try something new.
Enhance your creativity by doing things differently from time-to-time.
Michelangelo, one of the greatest artists of all time, always thought of himself as a sculptor and not a painter. When he was commissioned to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel he tried turning it down but was eventually persuaded otherwise. (Aren’t you glad?) Up until that commission, Michelangelo had never painted in fresco or even used color in any of his art.
Just like Michelangelo, you’ll never know what you are capable of if you stick to the same, habitual, never changing methods and ideas. Experiment with new media, new products, and new techniques. Even though you will fail occasionally, you will also have successes.
See what others are up to.
This is the point where we tell you to take your headphones off and connect with the world that is around you. Visit museums and art shows, attend concerts and live theater, flip through magazines, go shopping, eat at your favorite restaurants, and spend time with uplifting people. Allow all of this creative energy to rub off on you and reign it in to use on your art.
Keep an inspiration journal.
Keep a notebook or use your phone to gather and keep ideas that inspire you. You never know when you’ll see something that you just love to look at, for whatever reason—it could be a color combination, an arrangement, a theme, etc. Keep all of these ideas in one place to refer back to often, especially when you’re feeling creatively stuck.
Take a look at these two examples:
You’re out shopping for new linens one day when you realize that you can’t stop looking at the arrangement of the wall display. There is something comforting about how neat and organized everything is, so you snap a photo and move on with your errand. Later that week when you sit down in your creative space, you pull out the photo you took and then create the following page for your scrapbook, using the lines created by the shelves as your inspiration:
On another occasion, you’re flipping through a magazine and see this photo:
You clip the photo (or take a photo of it with your phone) and save it in your inspiration journal. Pulling from the heavy pattern on the wall and smaller items offset to the side, you create a card.
The card is based on the same compositional elements as the photo. There is a heavy pattern in the background, a large sentiment in the front (like the chair), with smaller complements next to it.
We hope that this new year brings lots of creative ideas to you all. And if ever in a rut, review our list above to help you find your inspiration.
What are some things you do to feed your creative energy?
We can think of no better way to dress up a gift than with a personalized handmade tag, so we came up with a quick list of ideas to help up your tag-making game this season!
1. Cricut® Shapes
Select a few of your favorite shapes and let your Cricut® machine do the rest! If you need to make a large number of gift tags, using a Cricut® shape is an easy way to get it done.
2. Pocket Cards
If you have extra pocket cards, try trimming them into a gift tag. Your pocket cards can become the base paper or even the sentiment!
3. Cut Above® Tag Kit
This kit was designed for tag making! Pair these tags with different ribbons, embellishments, and sentiments to change their original look, and voila! You have beautifully unique tags for the beautifully unique people receiving them.
Make use of any extra complements you have by sticking them on gift tags!
5. Stamping on Scraps
We all have scraps of paper lying around from bigger projects we’ve worked on in preparation for the holidays. Instead of throwing it away (or hoarding it! J) turn your scraps into little gift tags with some fun stamps and ribbons!
Who knew that so much cuteness could fit into such small pieces of paper! Make your gift giving that much more special this season with some personalized handmade tags!
When preparing for Thanksgiving, it seems that one of the most often overlooked aspects of the dinner is the actual place setting. You think of the food—how to prepare it, how to get it all to cook on time, how to keep it all warm. You think of the pies—if it’s the day of the big event and you don’t have a pie, then you’re already too late. Then there’s the guest list—do you admit you’re actually related to all of those crazy people and have them over to your house? ☺
Who has the time to think of a place setting? We do! And we want to share with you how quickly you can put together a few pieces using our Basics Fundamental paper collection that will leave your guests feeling like you’ve been planning this for weeks!
The very first thing that will go on your table (after a tablecloth, if that’s your thing) is a placemat.
Make a 12″ x 16″ placemat by sewing a 4½” x 12″ piece of coordinating paper to one of our 12″ x 12″ paper sheets. Use the extra ½” to overlap in the back for attaching.
Let your guests know where to sit with a personalized name place pumpkin!
This little gourd is easier to make than it looks. First, cut 12 kidney shaped pieces of the same size from the paper of your choice. We created our own template and cut each piece by hand, each measuring approximately 3″ x 4½” (there are also plenty of Cricut® shapes that will fit the bill). Then, score each piece down the middle and start gluing them together, aligning the round edges and leaving the scored part exposed, creating a “book” of sorts.
(These two images are from a different project illustrating the same technique.)
Once all of your pieces are stacked and glued to each other, attach a small straw or dowel to the “binding” and wrap the pumpkin around it, gluing the top and bottom of your stack together, creating the pumpkin shape. Add some embellishments to the top, including your guest’s name, and you’re done!
Next, you will need a napkin band.
Wrap some Kraft paper around your napkin and utensils to see how big of a piece you will need for your setting. For ours, we used a 2″ x 9″ piece that overlapped about 2″ in the back for easy securing with glue dots. We added a zip strip around the middle before attaching a 2½” circle with a thoughtful stamped sentiment for the guest. (Earn some extra brownie points here by making each sentiment unique to the person reading it!). At this point you can either leave your band as is, for that “minimalist” look, or add some embellishments.
Complete your guest’s dining experience with a few final touches.
Using our trusty Cricut® You Are Here Collection, we cut up a bunch of these 3½” leaves from silver foil, vellum, and patterned paper. Before cutting the foil, we embossed it with our leaves embossing folder to add some textured details. And to add a touch of color to our vellum leaves, we simple used a waterbrush with some watercolor paints. Before you’re ready to scatter these leaves, curl them slightly by wrapping them around your finger or another rounded edge.
Lastly, make a card!
Make a card for your guests and write a message inside thanking them for coming to your home. Or, use this card as an opportunity for everyone at the table to consider what they are grateful for and have them write it down inside.
There you have it! Five quick ways to dress up your Thanksgiving table!
The holidays can be stressful when trying to make everything look and taste just right. We hope you take a few of these ideas and make them your own, taking some of that stress away and allowing you to enjoy the reason for the season a little bit more.
The winter village on the cover of our Holiday Expressions idea book has been getting a lot of attention, SO we are breaking it down on the blog today for you to make one of your very own!
First things first—to replicate our little paper houses exactly, you will need 3 kraft tapered tote boxes, two 6″ and one 8″ like these:
When we assembled our village, these were readily available at one of our local craft stores, but we’ve found some similar options available online that you can use to get the same look (see the recipes’ below for the links).
Now, let’s take a look at how we transformed these boxes into festive holiday decorations!
One of the perks of having Convention in Salt Lake City this year was the tour of our home office. Those who got to visit our place kept telling us how inspiring it must be to work in such a gorgeous and innovative environment. Well folks, the truth is, it is! If you tuned in to our Facebook Live yesterday, you got an up-close look at the space where Close To My Heart artists create all of the memory keeping and papercrafting artwork you love. It’s a craft room dream come true. We want to show you how to take some of the ideas we used to create this atmosphere back to your own crafting nook so you, too, can be inspired!
The first step in this process is to find what actually inspires you. Look for something great that someone else has made and make it your own. Once you’ve chosen something you like, take a moment to really consider it. What is it at its core? As you think about it, is there anything that clues you into how it was made?
Take a peak into the Close To My Heart foyer. One of the first things visitors see when they walk into our building is this impressive mobile. Created from hundreds of paper hearts in various sizes and shades of pink, this is a breathtaking paper creation.
Because most of us don’t have fifty-foot ceilings to fit such a large décor piece, use this mobile as a starting point. Simplify the project. You can make a small version of this mobile or a banner of hearts that fits any space, including above a desk. The idea is the same—create a decorative piece with different shades of paper hearts, but with smaller and fewer pieces.
Let’s take a look inside our art studio.
These two images show a small sampling of the papercrafting pieces and inspirational quotes our artists have designed to foster an atmosphere of creativity.
Here is that same quote found on the wall of our art studio. With a small frame and a handful of small paper flowers, you can showcase something that makes you feel creative while using little space.
You might not have a large space for working on your favorite projects, but you can use what’s around you to beautify your creative space in small ways. Large-scale sayings, banners, and other papercrating décor can be simplified to fit anywhere. You can see how all the parts and pieces came together to fill this desk space with elements of the papercrafting you saw in a much larger scale at the home office.
Have you used large-scale inspiration to put together a crafting space that stimulates your creativity? Tell us about it in the comments below.
The hustle and bustle of the holidays is just around the corner, with Christmas only a little over two months away! To help you get your holiday cheer going (if it isn’t already!), we are sharing a Christmas album with you made entirely from patterns featured in our new how-to book, Make It from Your Heart™, Vol. 3.
Make It from Your Heart™, Vol. 3: Pattern 17 (p. 38)
Add stamped accents like this one to your pages with the October Stamp of the Month, Christmas Tunes
Make It from Your Heart ™, Vol. 3: Pattern 1 (p. 6)
Make It from Your Heart™, Vol. 3: Pattern 4 (p. 12)
Make It from Your Heart™, Vol. 3: Pattern 5 (p. 14)
Make It from Your Heart™, Vol. 3: Pattern 8 (p. 20)
Prepare now to preserve all of the wonderful memories the holidays have to offer.
If you plan on making this album, but maybe not until after the craziness of the season, make sure you grab your supplies while they are available! The October Stamp of the Month, featured in several of these pages, is available this month only, while the Beary Christmas suite is only available through December 31, while supplies last.
Keep up with us on the blog all season long to see all the fun things we have in store for you! We are going to do our darndest to make sure you are ready for the holidays this year!