BIG HINT:  I am not sure if I told you all this or not but GEL PENS NEED TO BE STORED UPSIDE DOWN WITH THE TIP DOWN….ACCORDING to GEL PEN people this is the best way to store your pens as it keeps the ink in the roller ball and will not dry up…the bad news about this is that it makes it harder to figure out which pen color you  have without taking it out of the container in which it is stored… I had been storing mine laying down but this  BAD!!!! Apparently this does allow the pen point (roller ball ) to dry out and then the pen won’t write… this is for ALL GEL PENS as far as I can tell.. Mine are mostly SAKARA GEL PENS and my white one is the one that drys out the worst but some of my glazed the dimensional ones and the soufflé which are the opaque ones also dried out so my advise STAND THEM UP WITH THE POINT DOWN.  OK now here we go.

I decided that I should get my pens out before they rusted…lol…so this week is all about letters and the variety of ways that you can make them.  I think I may have told you that I used to teach monoline lettering classes at a a few different rubberstamp and scrapbooking stores.  Although, I have been practicing FORMAL calligraphy since about 1984, I know from experience that many people who are creating scrapbooks don’t want to take the time it takes as well as the practice to learn formal calligraphy so I , being a letter lover ( all kinds of letters) realized that there were a bunch of fonts out there for the computer that could be adapted to personal hand writing.  If the schools really stop teaching handwriting in the class room then this might be a good time to share more of the scripts I developed for these classes.  We have done the AKIM , ART DECO, NEULAND ( which is considered a formal calligraphy) THICK N’ THINS and today we are going to play with HOLLYWOOD.  This is my exemplar for the classes I taught.

let hollywood


( PS THAT IS NOT MY CURRENT E MAIL ADDRESS  if you need to write to me use the comments it will send to my current e mail.)

As you can see from my note this is based on a style that I think is ART DECO which I love.

It can be written with almost any tool…. gel pens, colored pencils, and one of my favorite tools which I usually supplied my students with is the ZIG WRITER…it has two BULLET TIPS…that is the rounded tip.  One end is big and the other end is much smaller and will write a much finer line. When learning a new form of lettering (script) I always suggest that you use the largest tip so that you can really see your letters and see how well they match the exemplar.  Once you feel you have it down then you can move to the smaller tip .

In all calligraphy whether it is monoline like Hollywood , or formal calligraphy the size of the writing tip( nib or pen point) pretty much dictates the size of your letters.  What I am saying is that if the tip is large you can write large letters but writing really small will be next to impossible.  The same is true for the fine tip….writing small works but trying to stretch the letters too large will make them anorectic.  ALL OF CALLIGRAPHY IS ABOUT LEARNING TO SEE! SO use your eyes they will tell you when something just doesn’t look right.  If you have a large bullet tip pen to practice with then the letters above are about 3/4 to 1 inch tall…as I said this is good so that you know you are making the letters match the exemplar.

Its important that you use the letters as shown on the exemplar.  I say this because think of the letters in any script as if they were members in a school band….its important that they look like the belong to THAT BAND…ie all wearing the same uniform…so a little practice is necessary and keep the exemplar handy so you can refer to it.  You should be able to click on the image above and then print from that.  If you can’t send me an message and I’ll e-mail you a copy of it.  Once you have the feel for this script then you can try it smaller as well as some of the ideas that I came up with for it.  See below

let hollywood +

Each of these ideas works but be careful not to try all of them on one page or one card…pick one and give it a try…if you are writing a poem for someone you might want to only think about the bounce technique or the rolling wave technique.  I am ALL ABOUT LEGIBILITY..if they can’t read it why go to the effort.  So HINT:  DON’T GET TOO BUSY…LESS IS MORE…or the KISS principal…keep it simple stupid.  This goes for using different colors too… if you want to change the color then choose one for your base and only change the color on the words you want to emphasis.

Here are some of the cards and small book I did using the HOLLYWOOD script.

let hollywood cds 1


The inside of the card is mine but the envelope is from my BFF MARLENE MAJESKI and her version of HOLLYWOOD is very soft and flowing where mine is a little more rigid..

let hollywoodbook

let hollywoodbook 1

let hollywoodbook 3

let hollywood cds

I didn’t give you the complete booklet but hey you know the story… anyway you might guess that I was using one of the ZIG WRITERS, the small end and that is correct.

Ok I hope you will give this script a try and that you will find it useful.  The teacher in me thinks I should review a few calligraphy terms so that you know what I am talking about.


NIB            The tip end of your pen or writing too in monoline it is usually a bullet tip or a rolling writer type of ball as in the gel pen.

EXEMPLAR    The complete alphabet written in the script you are learning.

MONOLINE STYLE  These are generally letters written with a bullet tip or rolling writer or a regular pen that will not have thick and thin lines but all lines with be the same width so one width.

HINT   A lot of us have a tendency to grip our pen like we are trying to choke it to death if you have that problem then try holding another pen in your non writing hand…it will cause you loosen you grip stop that high pitched screaming that’s coming from your writing tool…lol

HAND MADE PENS…THIS LINK ( click on the blue) is from a blog by Letterlady… this is mostly for Calligraphers but thought you might enjoy a little look see. Her BONE letters are fantastic and it is NOT a script that I will be posting …mainly because its very difficult to learn and think that only calligraphers would be able to even try it and my best suggestion for learning it is TAKE A CLASS…it is totally pen manipulation and getting the feel of that manipulation is not something for a beginner…however, I played with for at least a year and have taken several classes and while mine might look good to you as it is one of the scripts I use a lot…there are errors with my letters so no exemplar from me and I will say for cards it won’t work as well because it really looks best with LARGE LETTERS…you can write it with a small nib but its not nearly as impressive.  If you are still determinded then send me a not via the comments and I e mail with possibilities.  Still great EYE CANDY.


Because we are all about letters this week I want to share a couple of links to videos that are wonderful the first one is a video of a guy who still paints CIRCUS SIGNS by hand which doesn’t happen often any more.. and I expected when I went to the link to see a really old guy …ok maybe not really old but lets say a more mature man….big surprise…be sure to look at the length of the hairs in his brushes….if you have ever tried to letter with a brush you will know just how difficult this type can be… he is definitely  talented.  It’s short so give it a look see. It takes a minute for the video to come up so little patience .


Click here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23313762


Then this next one is a small animated video of the” LETTER D”.  I just love this one and while there is only background sounds no talking you know exactly what is happening and if your as old as I am you will relate to the opening as a play on the words IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT!  You will love this…http://vimeo.com/40741682


Remember earlier in the blog I mentioned that LEGIBILITY was my main focus on lettering well here is an interesting article from the NY TIMES regarding what happens to letters that can’t be read/scanned by the machines…no video just an article but I found it very interesting and so far none of my envelopes have been returned to me because they couldn’t read it…maybe cause I had the wrong address…lol but they could read it. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/04/us/where-mail-with-illegible-addresses-goes-to-be-read.html?hp&_r=0

Well that’s all for this week and I do hope to share more scripts with you so let me know if you like this.  AS ALWAYS THANKS FOR STOPPIN BY...wire headed cyber toad….aka kath




HALLO… NO WE ARE NOT GOING TO BECOME CHIMMNEY SWEEPS… LOL… OK this is actually a fun technique..well I think its fun but maybe I am a bit of a firebug…


DAWNS SOOT STAMPINGSo this is her image and this particular technique is where you take a card and hold it over a flame but KEEP IT MOVING… ( video is a must here so click the blue link above) once the cardstock and IT MUST BE SHINY CARD STOCK aka CADILLAC CARD STOCK is fully covered with soot…you have to be very careful to lay the it down and use whatever clean stamp/stamps you have chosen and gently stamp onto the soot… you can repeat the image or stamp more images but if you repeat then be sure to clean your stamp each time so that removes the soot each time.  NOW THIS WILL SMEAR AT THIS POINT SO DON’T TOUCH IT.. lol… Dawn used a clear sealer in spray can but I prefer to use KRYLON WORKABLE FIXATIVE…it is also a sealer but will allow you to stamp over the top or add lettering etc…. this product is used by calligrapher’s when we are wanting to add other images to something but don’t want to smear or some other way mess up what we have already done.  Her clear sealer may also work this way but WORKABLE FIXATIVE is what I had and what I have used before so that ‘s my recommendation.

For her flame she is using a cheap candle …it will work best if you have it burned down a little so that the wick is just below the lip of the candle…. this allows you to get closer to the flame with out getting the card on fire…DO KEEP IT MOVING or it will catch fire… I did this technique a long time ago and I actually used a small TIKI TORCH that was on the railing on my deck…it makes a LOT OF SOOT rather quickly but again more risk of burning the card…so candle may be best..You may however still want to do this outside as some of the black /soot smoke does go up to your ceiling so to be sure you don’t end up having to explain to hubby why the kitchen ceiling is now DARK…lol… maybe do it outside or in a garage…

MUST DO THIS ….As soon as you have the images on the cardstock then I went to garage or outside ( this stuff all stinks so don’t spray indoors ) and I have a large cardboard box I lay the image down inside it spray with WORKABLE FIXATIVE…. now at this point you are sealing what you have on the cardstock but if you touch it right way it will leave fingerprint…so let it dry a little…  it may have curled al little but adhering it your finished card will take care of it being flat again… as you can see from Dawn’s image above she also layered other things on top of the soot stamping… this is a background technique for sure … it can be used alone but works best as background… below is my card

soot direct 3

soot direct 2


soot direct 1Now there are 3 of my images and I didn’t have time to make cards out of them but you can see that each of them would need to be trimmed in order to use them on a card…also allowing some white around the edges means that you have  a place to hold them while putting the soot on the card stock… you can use tweezers to hold it but if they are metal they may get HOT… and if they are plastic they may melt….so its a tricky technique but I love the look of a negative that you get with it.  Ok you have the basic…let’s move on to the next level..


Dawn's reverse soot

Dawn’s reverse soot

again I recommend you watch her video first.  This time BEFORE you put the soot on the card stock( again only the shiny) you will stamp your images by inking up your image with the watermark pad and stamping it on the blank card stock…once you have filled the card stock then you let it dry briefly and then take it outside and put the soot on top of your stamped images.  Once you have a good amount of soot on the card stock let it dry just a bit more… then using a paper towel you rub the soot off and it only sticks where your watermark image is and the rest becomes a very light grey background around the darker images… THE GOOD THING ABOUT THIS ONE is you do NOT  NEED TO SEAL IT.. its good to go as it is… you can trim it or cut out images to use…this is a little easier and it has one less step and its more forgiving…ie if you didn’t get enough soot on the first time you can go back add more soot and rub it off again…no need to re stamp and again no need to spray with the fixative/sealer.  So all and all this may be the easiest and most mistake proof… the mistake is if your dry when you rub then it smears…that there is no fix for unless you want it look like a rainy image maybe…works for me…as you can see from my sample ….I did end up smearing a little… but I have told you before that I am an 80% person… I don’ t have to have perfection… most of the folks I send too don’t make cards so they are happy with what I send and if they complain….I drop them off the list…lol…

soot w watermark 1


I wanted you to see that it did smear a little but I am ok with that… the next one was all text and I did actually make a card so there were layers that pretty much covered any smearing or less than perfect stamping..The needle is a die cut and the heart is a punch. The Rainier photo is a sticker.  I love this one and will probably do several more to use as birthday cards… I also added silver gel pen lines as borders around the edges and I don’t like straight lines so I did mount it at an angle on purpose…lol




While I do like her’s I did not have good luck with the ones I tried I think maybe my images were too solid and or my colors that I rubbed on the card stock were too dark…in any case this was my least favorite technique…again view her video first but basically using DYE BASED INK you rub the color onto the card stock first then you add the soot …then you stamp the images ….then you need to spray it with the fixative…THEN YOU CAN USE IT ON YOUR CARD… here is the one I did that sorta worked…

soot w colorI liked the torn edge and I liked adding the embellishment of the flower on top of stamped flowers but I wasn’t crazy about this card… maybe I needed to work a little more on the design… in any case you now have 3 ways to play with soot… who knew being a chimmney sweep could be so much fun…

Well I hope you enjoy this post and that you will give soot stamping a try.  AS ALWAYS THANKS FOR STOPPIN BY… the wireheaded cyber toad…aka kath




I want to let you know that apparently someone hacked my header and you probably got to see a huge ad for Cialis… well that wasn’t from me… and I don’t know how it got there and I did get it removed or at least I think I did and so that’s why this post is late..I am sorry and I am working to see that it doesn’t happen again.  Hope you like this card as much as I do.  I also want to apologize for last weeks post it appears that my links to the youtube videos were not working so I did re link them and now think they are working.. I also a few more samples to show you.. they are not mine but came from the web.

penny spinner

As you can see someone else had the idea of the stars and stripes.  I also wanted to mention that the reason  that this card seems to have two names is that sometimes it doesn’t SPIN it only slides back and forth which is still pretty amazing however getting it to spin is even more impressive.  I think I mentioned that after I finished the bee/beehive card it was more of a SLIDER than a spinner …I don’t know the law of physics very well but believe that this is due to the beehive being too bottom heavy… its better for spinning if the image is totally symmetrical.  I am going to post another with a circle with the bees on it and the hive will be off to one side.  See below…


Now on to new stuff …

dawn's spring grad



This card is so cute and quick and simple too.. You will need to cut the following…

BASE….4 1/4 X 9 3/4 INCHES…SCORE FROM THE LEFT SIDE OF 4 1/4 AT 3 1/4..


So now watch the video and you will see the easy folds that make this lovely little standing up card.  I just think its great the it folds flat to mail and then when you open it up it will have kinda a spring to it.  You can decorate the front square panels as well as have a message or stamp on the back of the card.  Dawn also shows you that if you use a small circle punch you can make a thumb pull for inserting either money in the card or a gift card.  The only thing with the gift card is that it turns out to be too shallow for the card to be  completely inserted so the card is going to show when they open it but since they will no doubt remove the card anyway its not really a big deal…I just thought it would totally disappear but since that pocket is really a V it won’t fit down in there far enough to disappear…

I had to use it immeadiately so here are a few of the samples I came up with.

stand up cd song


I have a huge collection of postage stamps and I like to scan them and then use them on cards from time to time and the PLAYIN YOUR SONG…is perfect for the Elvis stamp..but you could also use music for background and then there are music note brads out there so those would be cute also.

stand up doggone

I have several friends who love dogs and I am also late a lot with cards… I get them made in time but then I don’t get them mailed in time… it is a two step process..lol.. I also fell in love with this stamp so I keep finding ways to use him… another saying might be NOW BONES ABOUT IT…then on the back write wishing you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY.. there are dogbone punches as well as dog bone brads so both of those would go well with this image or any dog image…I also have a dalmation dog somewhere and if you use a dalmation you can say… WHERE’S THE FIRE…then on the back ….OH I SEE its all those candles on your cake…HB..

stand up fishes


This is the front of this one and I was K and Company pre- made embellishments..I love this saying but another one is LET THE FISH-TIVITIES BEGIN..HB

stand up fishes 1


This is the back of the previous image and I used from the same ocean package this sea shell which I really liked.

stand up real men


I have had this REAL MEN stamp a long time and used it with lots of images…but my hubby and a friend of his remind me frequently that ALL WHO WANDER ARE NOT LOST … which of course is true so pieces of old maps work well for the background layer and again I used postage stamps of Superman and Gene Autry as embellishments.

Now this last one below is my new favorite… I used die cut hearts to create the embellishments.  I saw and pinned this image off of PINTEREST and I think it is also a STAMPIN UP  design but I am not sure… they were using it as wedding cards which is a terrific idea but at my age I have more anniversaries to celebrate than weddings …but it could happen.

Well as you can see I liked this card and found that it was definately a spark for creating I plan to do at least one more for my youngest grandaughter who turns 17 at the end of this month…She is my diva and I plan to use a photo of her for the image on the card and I will probably stick folded money in the slot on the back …I usually send gift cards but as I said it will show behind the card so I don’t think I’ll use one of them but fold the money instead probably origami fold it into a heart shape ( see previous blog on how to or type heart money origami on youtube and I am sure you’ll find one. )

stand up anniversary

AS ALWAYS THANKS FOR STOPPIN BY… wire headed cyber toad…aka Kath

ps… sorry for slight blurriness… I am not sure why but will try to figure it out before posting any more images… :-(.