Inspiring Circus Postage Stamps

When The Stampers’ Sampler came out with their Envelope Template Challenge last summer I knew that I wanted to create something with it! I considered several ideas, but it wasn’t until we got a couple of cards in the mail from Reggie’s sister Kathy that I knew where I’d be going with this:

Lions Tigers Bears 1


Kathy had used some of these great postage stamps with vintage circus images on her envelopes, and I carefully cut them off and used them as the starting point for my project.

I used a lighter-weight yellow paper to construct the envelope which was easier to fold than card stock would have been, and I made some extra foliage from the leftover piece.

Lions Tigers Bears 2


All of the stamps are retired images from Stampin’ Up! – the African animals from the Wild Things set, the bear from Thankful Forest Friends, and the leaves are done with the large Bamboo background stamp.

Another fun family connection that this piece has, in addition to the postage stamps from Kathy, is that some years ago the family home in Colchester, Vermont was discovered to have held a long-kept secret:

Circus Posters

When my in-laws, Harold and Gladys Degree, removed the clapboards from their home before putting new siding on, these five circus posters were revealed, which had been mounted on the house when a circus came to town in 1883. They remained hidden for the next 108 years. Realizing the historical value of such artifacts, the Degrees called the Shelburne Museum to have conservators remove the boards from their house with the posters still attached. The family donated the posters to the museum, where they reside today.

The Spring 2016 issue of The Stampers’ Sampler will be available on April 1st!


The Stampers’ Sampler (Part 2)

As I mentioned in my Dec. 22nd post, Sherry Pakulski and I were happy to have our Heart Locket template cards published in the Winter 2016 issue of The Stampers’ Sampler! (To see our first three cards, click here.)

Here are the other two cards that appeared in this magazine:

Mother's Heart

In “Key to Mother’s Heart” (pg. 44) I combined antique flea market photos with Stampin’ Up! card stock, ink, Designer Series Paper, Vanilla Satin Ribbon, key trinket and stamps from the retired Fresh Vintage and You’re a Gem sets.

Key to Mother's Heart

This card and my Bird Challenge card, “Beribboned Birdcage,” (pg. 79) were spotlighted in A Closer Look:

Beribboned Birdcage

I used Stampin’ Up! Tip Top Taupe ink and card stock, Blackberry Bliss and Rose Red card stock and Seam Binding Ribbon and the vine stamp from the Thoughts & Prayers set.

Sherry and I are truly honored when our artwork is published in the Stampington & Co. art stamping magazines. Answering the Challenges is enjoyable and improves our skills as we strive to produce our best work for submission!


Working With The Stampers’ Sampler Templates

Earn Your Wings

Working with a template or shaped pattern when papercrafting can be a fun way to expand your creativity in new directions that you might not normally try. The Stampers’ Sampler magazine, published quarterly, provides a new template in each issue as a challenge for paper artists to use as a starting point and it’s always fun to see what people dream up.

Some of the past templates have included  a bird, a teacup, a purse, a butterfly and the angel pattern shown in the picture above, which was published in the Fall 2014 issue of The Stampers’ Sampler.


For my angel, I used the heart and watercolor background stamps from the “Work of Art” set by Stampin’ Up! The angel’s face was from a retired set, “Days Gone By.” I constructed the wings from embossed card stock weight vellum and her gown is covered in mulberry paper.

If you’d like to try stamping with templates, go to and scroll to the bottom of the page. Click on the link for Tempting Templates and choose one that appeals to you. Have fun creating!

It’s Not Just For Envelopes!

You know that the Envelope Punch Board is a quick and easy way to make envelopes for your cards, like this one made from the new lightweight In Color Envelope Paper in Watermelon Wonder:

Envy Punch BoardCindy's card

But actually it’s a hard-working tool that can do so much more!

You can make a surprise envelope that is actually part of the card; this is made using one of the sheets from the 6″ x 6″ Pretty Petals Designer Series Paper Stack and the Flower Patch stamp set:

folded up open

Or you can do one of my favorite techniques and put a mini-envelope with a message on the front of your card, like I did for this one that was published in the 20th anniversary issue of The Stampers’ Sampler magazine in Spring 2014:

20th Anniv

How about constructing a box to hold a set of cards and envelopes? With a couple more punches and score lines, you can make a three-dimensional box perfect for gift-giving. I used a belly band made from English Garden Designer Series Paper and decorated it with Delightful Dijon Dotted  Lace Trim.

Blooming Box 1Here are some of the supplies that I used in these projects; click on any image for more information or to order!

Supply List

Built for Free Using: My Stampin Blog

Wear Your Love Like Heaven

When designing these two cards for my Stamping Hostess Group this weekend, I didn’t know exactly what I would end up with before I started. In the case of this collage-type Butterfly card, I knew that I wanted to use a layout similar to one of the cards that I had published in the Summer 2015 issue of The Stampers’ Sampler. But those cards were a bright Vermilion red and I wanted to change the color scheme. So I started by die cutting the big butterfly from the Bohemian Designer Series paper. From that, I took the Blackberry Bliss and Bermuda Bay colors that make up the rest of the card, with accents of gold and cork. (I purchased a sheet of rolled up cork at the hardware store; you can stamp on it and die cut it in the Big Shot just like card stock.)

July Stamp Card 1

I also chose the colors for the next card from the Bohemian Designer Series Paper, although we didn’t use any of it on this card. The background is Rich Razzleberry card stock. The colored panel was done as a resist on Whisper White card stock; after embossing, a white crayon was rubbed over the raised design before sponging with Delightful Dijon, Island Indigo and Rich Razzleberry inks.

July Stamp Card 2

As I looked at both cards together, the words to several Donovan songs kept running through my mind: “Sunshine Superman,” “Wear Your Love Like Heaven,” and “Mellow Yellow” – so much about sunshine, rainbows, and color in his lyrics!

So, there was a little bit of stamping and a lot of papercrafting on both of these cards! Here are the supplies that I used on the Butterfly card:

Supply List

Built for Free Using: My Stampin Blog

 And here are the supplies that I used to make the Hello Sunshine card:

Supply List

Built for Free Using: My Stampin Blog

 I’m just mad about Saffron… and every other color of the rainbow!

We’re on a Roll – The Stampers’ Sampler Summer Issue!

I got another phone call from my sister-in-law Sherry last Friday – with a flair for the dramatic, she announced, “I got my artist’s copy of The Stampers’ Sampler today; my Camera Template card got in! But yours didn’t…” Before I could even congratulate her, she fairly shouted, “But you got your three Vermilion Challenge cards in – the whole page!” Woo Hoo, that was pretty exciting; Sherry and I have now been published together in the same issue two months in a row. Last month it was Take Ten and this month The Stampers’ Sampler – and I have never had a full page spread of my cards printed before:

Stampers' Sampler Summer

I loved making these cards; when I heard that they were doing a Vermilion Color Challenge I immediately began playing with my materials, and my muse was definitely there to inspire me. Not only did I keep the color palette coordinated with Poppy, Black and Vanilla ink and card stock, I carried the theme through by using the same vintage Laura Ashley wallpaper on each of the cards. This was one of several gorgeous rolls that I had bought many years ago when there was still a Laura Ashley store on Church Street in Burlington, Vermont, one of my favorite haunts when I lived there.

Camera Template Summer 2015

It’s exciting that Sherry’s Camera Template card was included in this issue because it’s the first time that she has been published in The Stampers’ Sampler. Before this, all of her submissions and published pieces have been in Take Ten for the Layout Challenges, so this represents a successful artistic reach into other areas for her!

2005-01-04 046

Valory and Sherry, Kindred Spirits at work.

The Value of Original Art

“Everything created has a connection to the creator. If you have an original piece of art in your home, even a child’s drawing, it will have a stronger connection to the artist than a print. Everything created has a vibration, low or high, based on the quality of the elements in it and the intention of the creator.”

Melody LeBaron,

I love what Melody has to say about handcrafted art, the connection it has to the maker, and how it can affect us by being in our midst. Here is a mixed media painting that my father did in the 1960’s, and that I now have hanging in our living room:


I watched my father produce many paintings when I was a child, in a  process that he called “Oil Painted Collage.” I remember watching him craft this one from beginning to end; first he covered a piece of masonite board with white latex paint as a substrate, and then he drew the outline of the figure in pencil, based on a playing card queen. Then he began gluing on all sorts of interesting textural elements: nails, S-hooks, paper clips, glazier’s points, cut up plastic doilies and textured naugahyde, even lines and swirls of Elmer’s glue. When all was dry he covered everything with latex paint again and then it was ready to be painted over with oils.

I love this picture for many reasons; because my dad painted it, because it hung in my grandparents’ home for many years, and because the blue and green color scheme is one that resonates with me.  Now I understand that there is even more; some of my father’s feelings, emotions and intentions are still connected to this painting and still bless our home as it hangs on our wall!

Framed Free As A Bird

I have been told more than once that someone I’ve given one of my handmade cards to has loved it so much that they have put it in a frame to enjoy it more permanently. The “Free as a Bird” card above is one that I made and framed to display as art in my own home. It is meaningful to me on several levels; for one thing, it is the first card that I ever had published (Stampers’ Sampler, Winter 2014) and I like to be reminded by Melody that it has an energy to impart that is positive and uplifting.

When you are creating cards, or art of any kind, put your heart and soul into your work, and it will uplift the recipient in unexpected ways!

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