Friday 22 January 2016

Cuteness overload

The current challenge over at Craftyhazelnut's Christmas Challenge is 'Cute' or 'Anything goes' and I'm also entering into Craftyhazelnut's Christmas Challenge Extra for January - where it's always 'Anything goes'. 

I wanted to use some new stamps and matching dies, Taylored Expressions 'Critters on Ice', brought by Santa. I ended up stamping, colouring and die cutting the images one day and then made them into 11 cards the following day. For a couple of days the craft room seemed to be over run with sweet little skating 'Critters'. These are some of the results, I made two of each of these ones:

I'll save the others for another day, and I confess that the idea of the critters doing their 'balancing act' is freely available on most websites that show the stamps and dies for sale.

I used:

- 4" x 6" white card blanks, two are side opening and two are tent style

- white card stock, embossed using the brilliant Stampin' Up embossing folder 'Softly Falling', recently sent to me as a gift by a lovely blogging friend. What's great about the folder, on top of the graduated density of the falling snow,  is that it's perfect for 6" square cards too!

- layered the embossed white card onto the card fronts then had a play around with the elements I wanted to use

- first I die cut trees from Centura Pearl card stock (backed some with 'Stick-It' adhesive sheet) using the Memory Box 'Arboscello Tree' die. Then I was quite ruthless and chopped all the leaves and some branches off to reduce the tree to a Winter skeleton.That tree die owes me absolutely nothing, it's so versatile and just owning that one die covers a lot of options for trees on cards throughout the year

- next I added the trees to the card fronts and popped a little 'pond' over the very bottom of the trunk. The pond was just cut free hand from a snippet of white card which had been covered with clear iridescent sparkly film

- next I stamped the sentiments using Memento 'Tuxedo Black' ink and a stamp from the set. Die cut them using a Lil' Inkers 'Stitched Rectangles' die and fixed them onto the cards using thin sticky pads

- and the fun part was making up the little stack of 'critters' added using thin sticky pads

- more below about the die cutting. The critters were coloured using Pro markers and  Letraset Ultra fine nibs with a tickle of clear Wink of Stella on the ice skates and the penguins' hats 

Making 11 cards in total has put me a bit ahead in the Christmas card making target of 12 per month, doing a happy dance/hop here :)

Warning, picture heavy bit coming now with a 'how-to' - just in case any of you are pondering using some of the stamps with matching dies that are so 'in' right now. I don't always buy the dies to match but sometimes you can see that particular stamps really would be tricky to trim round - and that's why I bought the dies for these little stamps. Doing the actual die cutting varies hugely, depending on how the dies line up. Some, such as the Tim Holtz 'Bird Crazy' ones line up right to the very edge of the stamped image and are easy to place ready for die cutting - with the help of removable sticky tape. Some dies are made 'solid' rather than just the frame, and those can be really tricky to accurately place over an image. Others, such as these ones, leave a white border around the image. For a long time I resisted the 'white border' idea as it just didn't look right to me - I guess over time I've seen so many used by other bloggers that I've come to accept them. Even though they're 'frame' dies, it's still a bit 'hit and miss' lining up the dies onto the stamped images - well, it is for me!

This is a tried and tested way to die cut any images - be they solid dies, cut right to the edge of the image dies and even those that come with the fancy little circular tags on that supposedly help you to place the dies (Whimsy stamps used to do those and I still could never line them up properly). I'm sure there are lots of demos on You Tube etc. but I took some photos as I was die cutting using what I call the pretty much infallible 'template method' to show how it's done.

First of all, stamp and colour your image(s) and set them aside. Then find some scrap card to make the template(s) and cut your die(s). I like to use coloured snippets as the difference between the template and the white card border around the image shows up best. I cut one template for each die in the set - and labeled them to keep in the die packet with the dies for another time:
Next you place the template over the image you want to die cut, make absolutely sure it's positioned correctly/evenly all around the outline and secure it in place using removable sticky tape. Then you use the corresponding die and sit that into the slot - just wiggle it a little bit and you'll soon know when it's sitting snuggly in place. Hold it there with another piece of removable sticky tape and then run through your die cutting machine using your normal sandwich.
Carefully remove the sticky tape die and template from the image - and you will be left with this:

Of course, it's much more productive, if a little tedious, to have a stamping, colouring and die cutting session where you end up with more than just the one finished image ...................... and this is what I meant by the place being over run with little 'Critters on Ice' :)
But, the following day, every single one was used - more examples of the results will follow, once they stop skating round the desk here!

Edit: Many thanks to Loll for pointing out that the current challenge over at Simon Says Stamp is 'Create With Critters' - so I'm entering over there as well. 



  1. Such cute little critters, I love how they are balancing on top of each other. You're certainly cracking on with your Christmas cards!

    Thanks for the tip about using dies with the images. I remember you blogged about this technique a while ago, using a die to cut out a sentiment in particular shape.
    Although I've die cut sentiments this way, it didn't cross my mind to use it for stamped images too! xx

    1. Well remembered Liz! It was just a written explanation with no photos so I'm pleased it was useful.


      Di xx

  2. Such cute creations and I love how beautifully you balanced them all! Wonderful snow scene created and thanks for the tips how to use them!
    Totally lovable Di!!!

  3. Wow! how productive you have been!

  4. These are totally adorable! I love critters and I love scene cards so this is right up my alley! Super cute!

  5. This is definitely cuteness overloaded.

  6. Cute is right! Love your new goodies & the cards you made, Di! Thanks for the clear instructions on die cutting. Now if only I can make myself take the time to cut the templates!

  7. Gorgeous fun cards, and you've made ELEVEN of them, wow! That's a good boost to your 2016 Christmas total.
    Just having a giggle at your live traffic feed, which seems to think I've moved to Bournemouth - no, really, I don't fancy a trip to the seaside in January!

  8. Sweet cards Di. Right now Simon Says Wednesday challenge is all about critters, so you should head over their with your fun cards. Great job making multiples ... you are well on your way with Christmas cards for this year. And thanks for the tip on how to die-cut stamped images with matching dies. I always struggle with this so have only bought two sets that are matching. I'll give your idea a try and might be adding more matching dies to my wish list. :) xx
    link to simon says challenge:

  9. What fun.....a whole herd of sweet critters Di. I agree about the white edge, I think we just get so used to it that it no longer bothers! You are really on a roll with your Christmas cards, great work. Xx

  10. Such a sweet card with your new goodies Di.

    Know just what you mean about stamps and dies that are meant to match but don't quite live up to expectations. It's one of the reasons I so love all the TL Charisma range, they have have an added edge so you never get the white.

    Take care,

    B x

  11. Mm can see they are taking over the playground Miss, we'll hunt them out, never fear :) brilliant tut.
    Thanks for sharing. Don't have die and stamp sets but hand to know IF ever succumb.
    Shaz in Oz.x

  12. Awwwwww....they are full of cuteness!! Thanks for also the little step-by-step photos. I should really find time (and inspiration) to just sit down and color a bunch of images for future creations. It would then be so quick just to grab one and make it into a card.


  13. You've been busy! Cute cards and a great tip for die-cutting too.
    Kath x

  14. Looks like you are on a crafting roll, Di. Enjoy the fun :)

  15. Wow! you have been busy Di and your cute and funny acrobatic skating critters look great on that embossed snowy background and thanks for the lining up tips for using the dies with the stamps. x

  16. adorable critters! thanks for the tip with the dies. I have an old set of flowers that I never use because I can't line them up!

  17. CUTE card Di and congrats on making 11 festive cards too.

    I've been using your template method of die cutting matching stamps since you first mentioned it. It's a TOP TIP - thank you so much. Also passed the info on where I can.

    Hugs, Sarn xxx

  18. I'm in love with these critter!!! Fabulous cards with them! The balancing idea is so well realized and fab colours in both your CAS!!!

  19. Thanks for the tutorial. When I bought my first set with matching dies, I was clueless about how to use them and gave up in frustration. I have avoided buying the sets for a while but just broke down and got some from Whimsy, so I will be trying your technique soon.

  20. Cuteness overload is right - adorable! Good for you to have a jump on next year's Christmas card. Wonderful tip to line up the dies.

  21. WOW i'm so impressed that you have made 11 Xmas cards, all in one go, my favourite is the one with the penguin (as i have soft spot for them), and a great tutorial too, Luv Sam x

  22. Brilliant Di, love them, such cute images and fabulous colouring.

    Kath x

  23. They're fantastic cards Di. I do have a fondness for cute critters and these are really lovely. Don't think I've seen that embossing folder before. It works really well. I recently got some similar little stamps and dies so really enjoyed following your handy tip. Next time I get them out I'll make templates. It's a really good idea. Thanks for sharing. Barbxx

  24. These are just adorable Miss Pixie. I love them.
    Great idea with the templates. Takes the guessing out as to whether they will be ok.

  25. Hi Di, an adorable fun cards, a super design with fabulous background...........your cute images are just so sweet with gorgeous background and great sentiment!!

    Heather xx
    Thanks so much for joining us with Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge.

  26. Love love love your cards! And a huge thank you for the die cutting tip! I have always struggled to get the white edge even - especially with some of the SU sets. If I wasn't in bed I'd go and try it out now, but it'll have to wait till tomorrow!

  27. Well done you for cracking on with your Christmas cards, it looks like you've got a right production line going:) The cards are so sweet and I think it's a great idea that many companies are now making dies to match the stamps. I'll be over to play again next week but for now, I wish you a very happy weekend. Sandma X

  28. Oh! Sooo pretty!
    Thank you for joining us at CraftyHazelnut's Christmas Challenge Extra for January!
    Monica - DT

  29. Great card Di and congratulations on it being a prize winner! x

  30. Love these skating critters - some great tips for using stamps/matching dies too so thanks for that.

  31. Fabulous card Di & I love the embossed backgrounds :o)

  32. This is such a darling card, Di, and what a fabulous post with the tips and photos! Thank you!! You were a critter-making-machine and I'm in awe that you made 11 cards in the process!! It's obvious you were chomping at the bit to get back in the craft room!! Hugs, Darnell

  33. Brilliant cards Di, such cheeky chaps! Thank you for the tips and photos of how best to use dies with stamps.
    Janice x

  34. adorable cards :) and great die-cutting tips! thank you for playing along with us at Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge!!


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