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Last week on Tuesday I sent out an email to those of you that are on the Sunny Stampin’ email newsletter list with a photo of a card I had created, and asked the following question “What do you do with an ugly card?”  I mentioned that I would share the transformation today, but in the meantime asked people to give me their suggestions on how I transformed it.

So, here is the “before” card:

Congratulations - "Before" card

Here is the after card:


Although I did film a video tutorial for you on how I created this card, I wanted to talk to you a bit about the design process and my thought process in transforming this card from “before” to “after”

Creating a Background Using Sentiment Stamps

I LOVE sentiment stamps. In fact sentiment-based stamp sets make up the largest part of my stash because of their incredible versatility.  I especially like a variety of different fonts because different fonts convey different “moods” to a card – i.e. a simple change in font can take a card from fun and whimsical to elegant. That is why as soon as I saw the Bravo stamp set, I knew I had to have it – it has such a HUGE range of font styles centred around a specific theme.

A super fun technique with sentiment stamps is to create your own background image or “patterned paper”.  Which is what I had been excited to create from the moment I purchased that stamp set.

In my “before” card – although I loved how the sentiments all came together – the overall effect on the finished card was busy and overwhelming. And it wasn’t just because of the brightness of the yellow.  I had tried a whole bunch of different color combinations – and none of them felt “right”.

By creating a tone on tone effect of stamping and embossing the sentiments I was able to create an eye-catching effect, that was all the more striking because of it’s subtlety.  Now I happen to love cards with a lot of white space – that’s just my personal style – so that is why I chose to emboss with white embossing powder on white card stock.

If white is not your thing – there are other ways you can get a similar effect. Choose a coloured card stock (perhaps in one of your your child’s school colors) and then do one of the following (choose based on your time and technique comfort level):

  1. If you want something a little quicker and less involved – stamp your sentiments in a coordinating color (i.e., if your card stock is red, stamp in red, etc.)
  2. Stamp your sentiments in VersaMark and heat emboss in a coordinating color of embossing powder OR stamp your sentiments in VersaMark and heat emboss with clear embossing powder.
  3. Die cut sentiments – if you only have one sentiment then die cut it multiple times – and then stick the sentiments in a repeating pattern onto your card stock.
  4. If you really don’t want to take the time to stamp or die cut all those individual sentiments (because let’s face it, it’s a time consuming technique) then simply add texture to your card stock by using an embossing folder. Stampin’ Up! has tons of fun embossing folders that would look great!

Your Focal Point Image

The strength of your focal point image can make all the difference between a good and great card design.  In the first card – the “before” card – I tried to draw attention to the focal point sentiment by stamping it in a bold contrasting color (black) and then matting it with black to help it stand out. While your eye is drawn to that first, because the background is so busy AND loud, it competes for your attention.  By creating a more subtle background in the “after” card, it allowed the focal point image to really stand out.

Now as a matter of design – I could have kept the focal point image the exact same as in the “before” card because it would have stood out, but you would have lost the effect of the background because it was so big.

Also, because I wanted this to be a graduation card for my son who is graduating Grade 8, I wanted a focal point that was more relevant to the occasion. Which is why I chose to create a punch art graduation cap instead.


Now because I changed the size/shape of my focal point (the grad cap paired with the sentiment flag) – I wasn’t able to keep it in the same location as the original, as the design then became unbalanced.

Instead I used last week’s “Let’s Make it Over” card as my Creative Jumpstart. How? By following along with the overall layout or “sketch” of the card but rotating it 90 degrees – so instead of being in a landscape format, I oriented it into a portrait format.  If you hop on over and take a look at last week’s card then you’ll see that the focal point on that one consisted of two elements as well – an “image” and a sentiment flag.  I kept both elements, except that I arranged them slightly differently.

Video Tutorial

Okay – so here’s the video tutorial on how I actually made the card.  Now I have to warn you – it’s long.  Although the card looks simple – it is actually an “advanced” level card because it incorporates SO many different techniques.

It would make a great class card – of course you’d have to include the purchase of the Bravo stamp set so no one would be left waiting too long.

So in this video:

  • You’ll learn how I built my background using the sentiments – including a little trick I use for knowing where to place the sentiments.
  • You’ll learn how I created a punch art graduation cap and the trick to creating dimension with an object that is black.
  • You’ll learn how I selectively mask and then piece together elements of a sentiment to create a whole new sentiment.

So now that you’ve read through this blog post and watched the video tutorial….

Do you want me to let you in on a little  secret?

Last week’s email was an experiment, and after I sent it out, I couldn’t wait to read your responses!

Some of your responses were so funny, many were very insightful – but as a whole – they were eye-opening!

They revealed a profound insight, which if you could soak it into the very depths of your being, would be a big step in helping you break through your creative barriers.

Want to know what that insight is?

I’ll be sharing it very soon on my brand new Sunny Stampin’ Facebook Page.

Here’s the catch though.  I am going to need your help to make this possible.


  1. Leave me a comment on this post – take a wild guess as to what you think what my creative insight is.
  2. Share this post with your Facebook friends using the social share buttons on the left.
  3. Hop on over to my new Sunny Stampin’ Facebook Page and “like” itWhen it hits 250 “likes” – I’ll share my insight with you. Here’s the caveat though – ONLY “like” that page if you like seeing ideas using Stampin’ Up! products, because that is ALL I will be sharing on that FB page. For ideas using products from other manufacturers, check out my Paper Crafter’s Library FB page.
  4. Don’t forget to download the PDF handout I created for the Congrats! project – I have it posted on my new FB page.

Oh, and just so you know, I’ll be sharing a whole lot more on that FB page too – things that will help you break through your creative barriers and make the most of your stamping supplies.

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