Starry Night | Christmas | PS121



It's never too early to get started on Christmas projects.  To help get you in the Christmas spirit we have this full step-by-step tutorial for creating a wonderful card just right for the special friend.  This painterly card is easy to make, yet sophisticated and artsy.  You may find yourself replicating this fun technique on many of your year-round creations.

It takes just a single hue of watercolor paint to achieve this starry night technique that I created for this card. The effect is of a still (shall I say silent?) night, which stirs musings of the first Noel. The supply list may seem a bit long but most items are basic supplies that you are likely to have on hand.


Preparation
Cut the gold card stock in half lengthwise to create two long narrow 4-1/4" x 11"pieces. Score one piece midway at the 5-1/2" mark. You will be creating a top-folding vertical card. Do not fold the card prior to stenciling or it will not lie flat. 

Stenciling and Embossing 
Place the Paisley Swirl Petite stencil on the gold card stock. Hold firmly in place with your fingers. Use the clear embossing pad to swipe or pounce over the stencil. Without shifting the stencil, lift a corner to peek and make sure the image is consistent before removing the stencil. In order to complete the entire front of the card as shown, you will need to reposition the stencil and repeat the process. Complete all of the stenciling before adding the embossing powder. Since the embossing ink is clear, it can be hard to see to realign the stencil, so you may end up with overlap or flaws. Don't be concerned about imperfections. If you know where to look, you will find a flaw such as this on my example. You can strategically plan the alignment to fall where the gold cord is wrapped to disguise any inconsistencies but this isn't necessary due to the tonal nature of using embossing powder in the same color family as your card stock. 
Sprinkle the stenciled image with Gold embossing powder. Dump the excess onto a piece of scrap paper and return it to the jar. Do not vigorously shake or too much power will be dislodged, resulting in a poor image. 

Heat-set the powder so that it melts and bonds with the card stock. Hold the heat gun a few inches from the surface and move back and forth until the powder liquefies. Tip: It is best to use a heat-resistant tray (like a silicone mat or upside-down baking sheet) so that the heat does not damage your work surface. Set the stenciled card aside. 

Stamping and Embossing 
The stamp comes backed with a cling mounting cushion. To use, simply peel away the protective backing and mount on the acrylic carrier. Press the Noel stamp into place on the grid. 

Ink the stamp image with the clear embossing pad. Stamp NOEL onto the watercolor paper. Press firmly to ensure that all areas of the stamp come in contact with the card stock. Set the stamp aside. 

Use a stiff fan brush to fling fine spatters of water surrounding the stamped image to create the stars.

Emboss the stamped image and the water spatters with Gold powder as previously described. 

When heat-setting the powder, let the heat gun come up to temperature and then point the heat gun directly downward rather than at an angle (again, keeping it a few inches from the surface). The spatters are not held in place by adhesive, so as the water dries some may scatter. Pointing the heat gun straight on will minimize this. Alternatively, you could use the embossing refill to spatter. If you go this route, you will need to thin it to an inky consistency for spattering. 


Painting 
To create the starry night sky, use the #3 round with water to dampen the area surrounding the letters. Create a strong puddle of color using water and Indigo watercolor paint. The color will soften on the wet surface and dry a bit lighter, so you will want to start with intense color. Again, using the #3 round touch the fully loaded brush to the paper. Apply immediately surrounding the letters and allow the color to bleed outward. The paper needs to stay wet in order for the paint to soften and travel. Look ahead as you are painting. You might need to rewet the surface as you proceed. Don't
blend or try to direct the paint. Let the wet paper carry the color wherever it may go. Because you are placing the color against the letters it will naturally be lighter further away from the text. As the paper begins t lose its sheen, sprinkle with coarse salt. Allow the surface to air-dry. If you force dry the surface, you will stop the flow of the paint. 

Here is where the type of paper and paint you choose make a difference. Spatter the sky with water and allow it to rest for a moment to soften the underlying paint. Use a tissue to blot the spatters and lift the color to create the appearance of distant stars. Note: You might not be able to lift the color from student grade paper. The binder in paint other than watercolor will also prevent you from lifting out the color. 

Embossing 
The text is embossed with White embossing powder, providing the letters with an enameled look. To do this, place a small amount of embossing ink (the refill) on a palette or small plastic lid. The brand of ink that I used was very thick straight out of the bottle and it needed to be thinned with water so that it could be painted. Thin if necessary to an ink-like consistency. Use the #3 round brush to paint the embossing ink within the lines of each letter. Since you are using white powder over white paper it does not need to be perfect and it is best if this does not touch the gold outline. Apply the White embossing powder within the letters and heat-set.

Keeping the text centered, trim the panel to 2-3/4" x 4".

Finishing

Assemble the Panel  Mount the starry sky panel on mulberry paper with double-stick craft tape.
Allow about 1” on all sides so that you have room for tearing away a portion and leaving a fuzzy edge. Use water and the #3 round to dampen the mulberry paper around the perimeter of the card. Pull perpendicular from each side of the card to tear away the excess paper. When the mulberry paper is dry, mount a second layer behind the first and repeat the process. The back layer should be slightly larger than the first, so use the first layer as a guide when dampening the second layer. Using two layers provides for a fuller look and can visually suggest clouds. 

Add Embellishments  Following the package instructions, use a crystal heat-setter tool to affix a row of three gems at the lower right corner of the panel. 

Assemble the Card  Wrap the gold cord three times around the front of the card. Secure where the ends will be hidden from view by the panel. Use foam adhesive squares to mount the entire panel assembly onto the embossed card. This card fits a standard A2 envelope.


Materials
Miscellaneous: heat gun, palette paper, scrap paper, 

*If you use student grade paper like most of what is sold in craft stores you may find that the end
result differs from what is shown.

**Do not substitute acrylic paint. To successfully create the sky you must use watercolor.