One flower three ways

Hello everyone,

When Yana Smakula emailed me two weeks ago telling me she loved my work, I was floored! Her work is so inspiring, creative, detail-oriented and so innovative…for her to say that she loved what I do has definitely been the highlight of this month for me!

Taking cue from her creative ideas, I worked with this FSJ Buzzworthy Collection from Spellbinders, creating three very-different-looking cards using the same central flower image. I wanted to push myself creatively, so decided to use alcohol inks to color the first flower. I used Yupo paper, Brea Reese red and purple alcohol inks, 91% isopropyl alcohol and rich gold from Jacquard products. It was more challenging than I thought. The inks have a mind of their own…and I am comfortable using this medium for abstracts, but this was the first time I tried containing the inks within the confines of a stamped image.

Work in progress

You can see in this photo, how the inks didn’t quite blend as much or as easily as I wanted them to (or as watercolors typically do). I kept diluting the inks with more and more alcohol, hence the various tints in my palette. I lifted off quite a lot of the ink from the petal edges so I could still have some highlights and that helped push the colors more toward the center, making the outlines between the petals a bit more defined.  But by itself the flower wasn’t doing anything for me. It needed something to help elevate it! I looked at all the other 18 designs that are part of this stamp set and felt inspired by the honeycomb. So, using distress inks in a combination of stamping and blending techniques, I created a subtle background.

Closeups of the relief paint

The flower still didn’t seem to pop…so I resorted to using my Pebeo Vitrail Cerne Relief royal gold paint to give it really thick outlines. It felt so rich and wonderful…and that extra dimension from the paint was just what this flower needed. I finished off this card with a simple metallic gold strip and a freehand scripted sentiment. 

With this card complete, I decided to try my hand at photo paper working with the same alcohol inks. I’ve had tons of experience creating abstract paintings on Kirkland photo paper from Costco (because the pack of 500 is very affordable and also because I had to justify buying so much of it!). But since I’d never tried to control the inks a particular way inside a stamped image on the slick surface of photo paper, I thought I’d experiment and see if they’d look different from Yupo paper. And, wow, was I surprised!

The colors looked just so much more intense and shiny! I could not get any definition on the petals, though because of freely the inks moved and how quickly the alcohol evaporated making it very difficult to blend and lift the pigment. So, I resorted to using a black glaze pen and outline the petals wherever I saw variations in ink color. So, this final flower image isn’t a true reflection of the stamped image, but my interpretation of it. 

Because the flower was so vivid, I decided to give it an equally happy background color, using the same stamp as for the first image but with the addition of some honey bees. I added glitter to their bodies and glaze to their wings. Small details that I think really make this card and all of its different stamped images pop. I also added a triangular piece of Duralar to mimic the wax in the honeycomb…and finished it off with the simple “Bee Happy” sentiment also part of the stamp set. This card has such a different vibe than the first one, using the same tools, don’t you think?

Given how I wasn’t able to blend with alcohol inks the way I’d wanted and that this flower is so gorgeous, I couldn’t not paint it with my favorite coloring medium: distress ink reinkers! 

So, I set forth on a third variation of this flower and enjoyed every moment of painting it. I even made a process video, so you can enjoy it as well!

Once the flower painting was done, I assembled this card by using the Spellbinders rectangle frame die set and adhering the cut-outs over the card base. I then splattered some of the inks on to the cuts. Stamped some other images that are part of this Fun Stampers Journey with fine detail black ink from Pinkfresh Studio and colored them in quickly with Faber-Castell polychromos pencils. I thought it added some cool dimensional elements to the card…what do you think?

I had such fun playing with this image and I still have so many ideas on how this flower can look so different when used with embossing powders, color pencils, water-soluble pencils, printed with a gel plate…oh the possibilities are endless!

 Here is a look at all three cards, together. Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

And if you’re curious about the supplies I used for making these cards, they’re all listed below. (These are compensated affiliate links at no cost to you. Thank you for your support! Affiliate and product disclosure can be found here. As always, I was not paid to do this post and I only use products from companies I love.)

Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season!


Published by mansimakes

Hi there, I am Mansi, a self-taught artist based in Silicon Valley. I was a full-time communications professional for two decades, with a desk job and a six-figure salary until I decided to become a mom. Motherhood, as many will attest, can be extremely exhausting, especially in those first years. Art became my quiet place. It restored my sense of self. It gave me renewed energy. It helped me become a better mom. I was led down the path of creation by instinct and “discovered“ in early 2019 by a fellow kindred spirit at one of my art pop-ups who asked me to join her entrepreneurial venture. While I immersed myself full time in the role of CFO and co-founder of this women-led venture supporting local women makers, I missed experimenting with mixed-media. So, in 2021, I've decided to focus my energies full time in finessing my craft, producing more online tutorials and offering in-person art workshops for both adults and children. Thank you for joining me on this adventure as I experiment, learn and continue creating custom pieces of joy.

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