Thursday, May 16, 2013

Susan's Garden Birdhouse and Flowers

Hello everyone! Anna-Karin here with a tutorial using the brand new Susan's Garden dies by Susan Tierney-Cockburn. When I first saw them, I knew I would love these dies, since I like to make my own flowers. And who doesn't love flowers? You can see the whole collection here.

Sizzix Die Cutting Tutorial: Susan's Garden Birdhouse by Anna-Karin Evaldsson

Here's the finished project, a happy birdhouse surrounded by flowers. Susan's flower dies work great together with 3-D projects, which are one of my favorite things to make. I love to make houses, so picking the Rounded 3-D Birdhouse as a base for my project was easy. All the flowers were made from white paper and coloured with Distress Inks. The flowers look very intricate, but they are easy to make. The finished project is about 5.5 x 5.5 in. 

Let's start, it's another long tutorial:

The Rounded 3-D Birdhouse is meant to be used with slightly thinner material than mat board, such as thin chipboard. I wanted to make it work with mat board, since I wanted something really sturdy, and since I didn't have enough thin chipboard at home. If you want to, you can use thin chipboard instead. Die cut three roof pieces and two house pieces. This is an XL die, so you need the extended cutting pads, and you might need to replace one of them with a crease pad, to prevent the score lines from cutting through the material. I die cut the little roof cap and the base piece from thin chipboard. On this photo, the base piece is mat board, but that didn't work, since there wasn't space for it, so I used thin chipboard instead.

One of the house pieces needs to be gently shaped in the opposite direction of the score lines, so that the hole will line up on each side. To assemble, you can use single-sided tape, but I wanted something sturdier and cut pieces of scrap cardstock and taped them to the joints, using strong double-sided tape.

Adhere the base to the house with strong double-sided tape, or a liquid adhesive. If it doesn't fit, you might need to cut a little slit in the base to make it smaller. If you use thinner material than mat board for the house, it shouldn't be a problem.

I assembled the roof in the same way, by cutting strips of cardstock to use as joints between the three pieces.

I wanted to make a sturdy birdhouse and to cover the joints and score lines. To do this, I smeared molding paste thickly with a palette knife on both the house and the roof, making sure to add some interesting texture. Don't cover up the little hole. I used a similar technique in this tutorial.

Continue until both the roof and the house are covered and leave to dry overnight. Place the roof on top of a jar, so that it dries without getting stuck to anything.

Paint the roof with Aqua paint dabber, using a paint brush - otherwise the texture of the roof might damage the dabber. Leave to dry.

Tear pieces of Tim Holtz Idea-ology tissue wrap and glue to the roof with multi-medium.

When dry, paint the roof again with Aqua, Juniper and a little bit of Pool, using a paint brush. You might want to water down the paint, so that you don't cover up all the text.

Use a paint brush and dry-brush a little bit of Lettuce, Sail Boat Blue and Espresso on the roof, making it darker towards the top.

I wanted to add some moss and decided to colorize dry Ranger Distress Rock Candy glitter with alcohol ink, a trick that Tim Holtz shared last year (you can find it here). Use a disposable cup and mix in alcohol inks until you are happy with the result.

I made random marks on the roof with Glossy Accents and sprinkled the glitter on top, pressing it down with a piece of scrap paper. The small roof cap was completely coated in glitter. Leave to dry.

Paint the house with Antique Linen Distress Paint, again using a paint brush.

Add quite a bit of water to a dab of Espresso paint and paint the house, one half at a time. Before it dries, wipe off most of the paint, using a dragging motion. Repeat until you are happy with the result.

Dry-brush Espresso, Lettuce and a little bit of Antique Linen on the house, to create a great wood texture.

To make branches for the flowers on the roof, die cut the Branch Tree from grungeboard and cover it with molding paste. Leave to dry.

die cutting
The house needed an inhabitant and I made a dimensional bird with the Mini Bird die. Die cut it five times from mat board or grungeboard.

Glue the birds together with Glossy Accents.

Cover the entire bird with molding paste, as on the house.

Paint the tree the same way as you did the birdhouse and paint the bird using a fine brush. I tried to make mine look like one of my favourite birds, the Blue Tit.

I didn't have anything resembling a branch at home, so instead I wrapped brown twine around a florist wire, first coating it with glue. Dry-brush with a little bit of green paint.

I twisted the 'branch' around itself to make it thicker. Bend it on the inside and glue with hot glue. And now to the flowers:

The flowers work best with a smooth heavyweight cardstock (80 lb or heavier). I don't have any coloured smooth cardstock at home, so instead I used Neenah Classic Crest Smooth Solar White 80 lb cardstock and coloured it with Distress Inks. You need to ink both sides of the paper for most of the flowers, since they are 3-D.

Susan has made great videos where she shows how to make each flower. If you are making a project for someone who loves a particular flower, you can make a flower that looks just like that, but on the other hand, the flowers don't have to look like the example flowers, you can make a large variety of both real and imagined flowers with these dies. I wanted to use the sweet Flowering Quince die, but wanted the flowers on the roof to be yellow and inked my paper with Squeezed Lemonade and just a bit of Scattered Straw.

This is what you need to make two flowers. Die cut to calyces from the green inked cardstock, and ten petals and two stamens from the yellow inked cardstock. We won't use the double petal in the left-hand corner of the photo.

Shade the petals at the base with Wild Honey, if you want to, you can use a craft nib to drag some ink into the centre. I only did that on a few of the yellow flowers. Run a Mustard Seed Distress Marker along the top of the stamen on both sides.

Sizzix has made a fabulous Susan's Garden Tool Kit to go with the dies. It contains everything you need to make the flowers: a Leaf Tool 1mm/2mm, Stylus 5mm/8mm, Loop Tool 3mm/5mm, pair of fine-tip scissors, fine-point reverse tweezers, Molding Pad, Leaf Pad and a Non-Stick Sheet. The tools are really great, you'll soon be using them on other projects too. I was really impressed. Susan explains the basic techniques in this and this video, you will see how the tools work better there. I won't cover everything here because then this tutorial will be far too long. Shape the petals with the loop tool on the molding pad.

Press the calyx with the smallest stylus tool. This is the base that you build the flower on.

Hold a petal with the tweezers as on the photo, and pinch around the tip of the tweezers with your other hand.

  Bend the edges of the petal with the tweezers.

Roll the stamen on the tweezers, add a dab of glue at the base. Separate the stamens and dip into glue and then into yellow Flower Soft.

Glue the petals to the calyx and then glue the stamen in the center, using a clear-drying craft glue. Leave them to dry before gluing them to your project. You can shape the petals more after the glue is dry. I made nine yellow flowers.

Next, I used the Forsythia die, but instead of making Forsythias, I wanted to make a Lilac tree branch, because it was always one of my favourite flowering trees. The cardstock was inked with Tumbled Glass and Shaded Lilac. Die cut the little flowers and then pop them out and cup them at the same time, using the smallest stylus.

I twisted a florist wire and glued the flowers to it.

The leaves on the Forsythia set were not quite right for a Lilac tree, instead I used the leaves from the Dogwood set. They were veined, lined, pinched and shaped and I added darker ink around the edges.

Next, the Mini Daisy, which makes such a sweet flower. The petals were die cut from white cardstock and sponged with a little bit of Squeezed Lemonade at the base. They were lined, pinched and shaped.

Glue to the shaped calyx, adding two layers of petals.

  Put a little blob of glue in the center of the mini daisies and sprinkle with yellow Flower Soft. I also added a tiny dot of Glossy Accents inside the Lilac flowers and sprinkled with Flower Soft. I made three white and one blue mini daisy.

I wanted a large flower on the project too, and picked the tulip. Tulips can be coloured in many ways and Distress Inks work really well for this. I die cut the petals, calyx and stamen from white paper. I started by sponging on yellow at the top and then added Barn Door at the base and center. Blend by sponging on more yellow ink. This was done on both sides of the petals. Finally, I added a bit of Black Soot at the base. The calyx was inked black and the stamen was inked yellow at the top and black at the base. The leaves were die cut from a paper that had already been inked green back and front.

Shape and pinch the petals until you are happy with how they look and vein the leaves. Glue the petals to the outside of the calyx. There are instructions on the leaflet that comes with the die too. Leave in a flower pot for the glue to set, and add the stamen to the center. I dipped it in Earth Flower Soft first and sprinkled some in the center of the flower too. The flower pots help the flower keep its shape while the glue dries and are also great for keeping bits and pieces together.

The finished tulip with its leaves.

Die cut the pretty butterfly from the Hybiscus Flower set three times from white paper. Ink with Squeezed Lemonade and Barn Door and shape the wings. Glue together to form a dimensional butterfly.

Die cut a circle doily from thin chipboard using the For the Record 2 Thinlits set. You might have to run it through the machine a few times. Paint green. Then glue the birdhouse to this base.

I used a hot glue gun to glue most of the branches and flowers to the roof, except for the leaves which were glued with the white craft glue. Cut the branch tree into one large and one small branch and glue these to the roof. Glue the flowers and then add the leaves.

I stamped a sentiment on a Tattered Banner and tucked it in among the flowers.

The finished birdhouse from another angle. You don't see the small flower branch on the roof here.

Thank you for looking at this long tutorial!

Happy crafting!

die cutting supplies

Surfaces: Neenah Classic Crest Smooth Solar White cardstock 80 LB; Tim Holtz Idea-ology Terminology tissue wrap, Grungeboard; thin chipboard
Stamp: Hero Arts: Find Joy CL497
Ink: Ranger Archival Ink Jet Black; Ranger Tim Holtz Distress Ink: Squeezed Lemonade, Wild Honey, Scattered Straw, Tumbled Glass, Shaded Lilac, Bundled Sage, Peeled Paint, Shabby Shutters, Barn Door, Black Soot
Alcohol ink: Ranger Adirondack: Lettuce, Meadow, Pesto
Paint: Ranger Tim Holtz Distress Paint: Antique Linen; Ranger Adirondack; Aqua, Juniper, Pool, Sail Boat Blue, Lettuce, Espresso
Glitter: Ranger Distress Stickles Rock Candy dry glitter
Flower Soft: Earth Ultra Fine, Sunshine Yellow
Medium: Golden Artist Colors: Molding Paste
Embellishments: Flower Soft Paper Coated Florist Wire; twine
Adhesive: Ranger Glossy Accents, Wonder Tape, Claudine Hellmuth multi-medium matte; Aleen's Tacky Glue; hot glue

For more ideas and inspiration for die cutting projects featuring the Susan's Garden collection collection for Sizzix, visit the project gallery at While you are there, be sure to check out the entire Susan's Garden collection of dies and embossing folders!
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  1. My jaw is on the table. This is a work of art, Anna-Karin. I bow to your crafting genius!

  2. This is absolutely amazing. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Holy Cow Anna!!!! This is amazing!!!!!!!

  4. I had been thinking about a project similar to this when I saw Susan's dies. You've done a fabulous job...can't wait to get my hands on more dies!

  5. This is beautiful Anna-Karin!

  6. My goodness. That is amazing!

  7. Fabulous project and such a wonderful tut to go with it. Thank you.

  8. WOW!!!! This is jaw dropping gorgeous!!!! Susan's dies are all on my wish list, I want many of them for my birthday this year. Thank you for sharing this amazing tutorial, especially the way you did the outside of the bird house, I thought it was real wood or a specialty paper. The flowers are beautiful, thank you for the step by step. This would be perfect for a fairy garden scene, with Susan's fairies.
    Jacquelene L

  9. Amazing! I love the colors, the details, and every single thing about this gorgeous project!

  10. I adore this! And I admire your patience. A lot of work went into this piece. Great art! Thanks so much for the tutorial.

  11. What a fabulous project! It looks like so much fun to make. Thanks for sharing it with us! You are truly a floral artist!

  12. Wow, wow, wow! Amazing amazing amazing! So many awesome details - wonderful tutorial, Anna-Karin! Your birdhouse turned out GORGEOUS!!!

  13. This turned out gorgeous!!!!! Fabulous detail Anna. I received my dies and have been playing with them. Love all the tutorials. Thanks so much for this one. It is great!

  14. An incredible transition from dies and card to this amazing life-like project. I have just started making bird houses my first I completed yesterday (a new interest) so this post is just perfectly timed for me to "borrow" some of the ideas. Thanks you Anna-Karin.

  15. That is a stunning project. You make it look so easy.

  16. That is such cool project! I think I need to do this!

  17. Awesome birdhouse!!! I love all the texture and dimension in this project.


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