Monday, October 9, 2023

AECP Level 2 Challenge

Hi there, friends!  Thanks for coming back for another Paper Play post.  This one is exciting for me as it's focused on my AECP Level 2 Challenge.  The post is a little longer since it covers the entire challenge - and I thank you in advance for reading through it!  Passing this challenge will allow me to move on to Level 3 of the program.  The challenge issued to me was:

  1. Select any 3 components from the classes in Level 1 or 2 and explain the 3 components that you’ve chosen for the project;
  2. Share design tips (if any);
  3. Make 4 masculine cards (themes include birthday, love/thinking of you, anniversary, and encouragement);
  4. Altered item/upcycled project;
  5. Create a detailed challenge blog post with a step-by-step photo tutorial and/or YouTube video.
And now . . . the challenge begins!

The components from AECP Levels 1/2 classes that I focused on are:
  1. Impressive Heat Embossing: I love to heat emboss!  I used elements as simple as adding a sentiment to more complex such as heat embossing an entire standalone panel and additional beautiful details.  A design tip to share on embossing is, when possible, use the same embossing powder on various elements to create a more cohesive look.  For example, on my first card, I used the same embossing powder for the sentiment and the entire forward city skyline.  I feel that it brings the card together.  However, it may not always be possible to do this.  On my second card, I wanted the heat embossed light detail from the lighthouse to sparkle, but thought it might make it hard to read the sentiment if I used the same powder for it.  So, I chose a different silver that doesn't have a glitter aspect to it.
  2. Let it Shine:  This was one of my favorite classes in the program.  It taught me to not be afraid to add some shimmer, sparkle, and shine!  I used this in various ways in each of my cards: through metallic heat embossing to add shimmer and sparkle, through heat embossing with a glossy powder to add shine, through using an iridescent ink spray to add shimmer & sparkle to the sky, through using sequins and gold glitter glue drops, and using acetate to create an interesting back ground with shine.  Don't be afraid to add some shine - both to your cards and in life!
  3. Easy Ink Blending Techniques/Creative Watercolor Media/Magical Marker Techniques: I grouped these three together because they all have a similar common purpose of using ink in various ways from creating backgrounds to adding beautiful details.  I used ink as a watercolor to create a sky, used ink to create vintage grunge details, and used markers on acetate to create a stained glass look.  Let us not forget to add using clear embossing ink to form the basis of light emitting from a lighthouse.  While not blending for color, it certainly is ink blending to add some shine to the card.
  4. Clean & Simple Boutique Cards:  While only required to use 3 components, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I used this class as a guide on at least two of the cards that I made.  These two cards have minimal stamping and clean space to keep a very clean and simple overall aesthetic.
Here are the four cards and altered/upcycled item project that I created for the challenge:

I'll go over the creative process for each item and am also be sharing a link to optional videos on my YouTube channel that will show you the detailed steps that I took in creating them.  I chose to keep the videos separate to make it easier to view each.

Card 1: Congratulations

I love this card!  I had been toying with the design for a couple of classes and didn't proceed because I wanted to create more depth and didn't like previous attempts at it.  It then dawned on me - heat emboss a front panel, fussy cut it out, and adhere it to the card panel with double sided foam tape.  While it sounds easy, I just never previously though of doing it.  A city skyline is a really good element to use for a masculine card - it's very gender neutral and creates a nice scene.

Here's what I used to create it:
Here's how I made it:
  • Used the Indigo Skies ink and some spritzes of water to create the watercolor and painted the card panel.

  • Once dry, used a piece of scrap paper, covered the bottom third of the card panel, and then spritzed the panel with iridescent shimmer ink.  I knew that this would add the shimmer and sparkle to the sky, but the little blots of pink were not expected.  This was such a happy accident and adds so much more to the sky than I imagined.  Total win!

  • Once dry, used one end of the stencil and black ink to blend the back skyline; also traced the stencil outline with a black alcohol marker to add further definition and depth.

  • Used the other side of the stencil, a scrap piece of watercolor paper (note that any card stock is fine to use), and clear embossing ink to stamp image onto paper.
  • Sprinkled silver embossing powder over it and set it with a heat tool.
  • Fussy cut out the skyline.  Here's a design tip for you: if fussy cutting, take a similar color marker and go over the edges of the item to get rid of the white/colored edges and help it blend in.
  • Dusted the top of the skyline card panel with baking powder to act as an anti-static medium.
  • Stamped the congratulations sentiment with clear embossing ink, sprinkled it with silver embossing powder, and set it with a heat tool.
  • Adhered card panel to card base.
  • Applied double sided foam tape to the back of embossed skyline and placed it onto the card.
Here's a link to a video where you can see the card being created:
Card 2: Stay Strong

What is more strong than a lighthouse?  They stand out in a harbor, battling the elements and ocean, and provide a guiding light to those that need it.  They are so reassuring and strong.  That's why I chose to use one on my encouragement card - stay strong as things, as no matter what life throws at you and how much it may batter you, things will get better!  I intentionally designed this a clean and simple card emphasize the sentiment and message of the card.
Here's what I used to make it:
Here's how I made it:
  • Dusted the card panel with baking powder to act as an anti-static agent.
  • Stamped lighthouse and water with clear embossing ink.
  • Sprinkled image with white embossing powder and set with heat tool.

  • Stamped sentiment with clear embossing ink.
  • Sprinkled with silver embossing powder and set with heat tool.
  • Used the clear embossing ink pen to draw light coming from lighthouse.

  • Sprinkled the light outline with silver shimmer embossing powder and set with heat tool.
  • Filled in lighthouse glass panes with liquid chrome pen.  Here's a design tip for you: don't worry too much about stray glitter powder pieces with this card.  Any set stray glitter will look like stars in the sky!

  • Adhered card panel to card base with double sided tape.
Here's a link to a video where you can see the card being created:
Card 3 - No Matter How You Say It

I think that this is such a fun take on a birthday card!  I love the vintage grunge aesthetic and it's great to use on a map, which was my inspiration for the card.  My design for this card includes a world map with grunge and distressed edges centered on an older looking card base.  Included on the map is the sentiment Happy Birthday in several different languages - French, Spanish, Hawaiian, and Japanese.  The inside card panel also has grunge on it, wishes a Happy Birthday in English, and offers the greeting: no matter how you say it, I hope you enjoy your day.  We're all residents living together in this global village.  Why not share a greeting in other languages to help bring us together?

Here's what I used to make it:
Here's how I made it:
  • Added grunge to the edges of the card base using Almond Butter ink and ink blending tool.
  • Added light grunge to the card panels using Vanilla Cream ink and ink blending tool.
  • Distressed the edges of the first card panel using a plastic knife and used Hazelnut ink cube on edges of the panel.  Here's a design tip for you: you don't need a special tool to distress the edges of your paper!  Simply run the serrated edge of a plastic knife back and forth on the edge of the paper.  It will give you the same effect.  You may then run ink along it to add some grunge and aging.

  • Stamped the map with clear embossing ink, sprinkled it with brown embossing powder, and set it with a heat tool.

  • Stamped the four sentiments with clear embossing ink, sprinkled it with gold embossing powder, and set it with a heat tool.
  • Here's another design tip for you: if going for a vintage grunge look, don't worry so much about using an anti-static agent when using embossing powder.  Any stray pieces of powder that get set only add more grunge to the look of the card!
  • Took second card panel, stamped the inside greeting using Milk Chocolate ink, adhered double sided tape to the back of the panel, and adhered inside the card base.
  • Applied double sided foam tape to the back of the first card panel and adhered it to the card base.
  • Adhered a sequin to each corner of the card panel with craft glue, and then applied a drop of gold glitter glue into the center of each sequin.

Here's a link to a video where you can see the card being created: 

Card 4 - Kind and Thoughtful


A clean and simple card with a far from basic background!  I had been wanting to try this technique that my friend Annie Sharland shared in her Facebook group - a frosted acetate background.  The video is from Lou Collins and is shared on her Youtube channel.  I immediately had a vision of a frosted acetate brick wall with a stained glass window - and Altenew has my favorite 3D brick embossing folder.  This was a no brainer to make for my level 2  challenge!  I strongly encourage you to watch the video and see how easy it is to obtain this easy and effective look.

Here's what I used to make it:
Here's how I made it:
  • Sanded the acetate on each side with sand paper to get the frosty look.  Here's a design tip for you: it's important to use a very fine sandpaper for this, which will give you the frosted look.  A lower grade of sandpaper will not be as fine and the sand will scratch the acetate rather than give it a smooth, frosted look.

  • Put the acetate into embossing folder and run through die cutting machine.
  • Taped down the square die to acetate and run it through die cutting machine to create a window.
  • Stamped a tile onto vellum using clear embossing ink; use the acetate as a guide for placement so that stamp will show through the cut window.

  • Sprinkled the vellum with black embossing powder and set it with a heat tool.
  • Colored the tile with alcohol markers.
  • Cut a black frame from black card stock using the square dies, adhered double sided foam tape to the back of it, and placed onto acetate.
  • Adhered vellum to gray card panel with the 1/2" lip being glued to back of card stock.
  • Adhered acetate to card panel with 1/2" lip being glued to back of card stock (i.e. placed over vellum and then lip glued over it.)
  • Ran some glue around the sides of the vellum and pressed down the acetate to adhere them together.
  • Stamped You Are onto black card stock with white pigment ink, let it dry, and then cut out with coordinating die.
  • Stamped the Kind and Thoughtful sentiment onto a black card stock with white pigment ink, let it dry, and cut out the strip.
  • Adhered double sided foam tape to the back of each element and adhered onto the panel.

Here's a link to a video where you can see the card being created:

Altered/Upcycled Item - Vintage Floral Shadow Box


As previously mentioned, I am a huge fan of vintage design.  I think it has to do with me being an old soul and my nostalgic nature.  I had several ideas come to mind for this part of the challenge, but the one that won out was the one that allowed me to do a vintage design.  I decided to use an old Ivory cloth dinner napkin, add some grunge and stamping, and display it in a shadow box.  I learned a lot during the creation process - including to embrace mistakes/accidents and try to incorporate them into the design.  This happened to me while stamping the sentiment onto the napkin.  I wanted to stamp it a second time to make it darker, but the napkin had slightly moved and the resulting stamp was not aligned.  I had let out a big sigh and thought that I may have to do the whole project over again.  However, I remembered that the ink is water and alcohol reactive and rubbed a lot of it off with a rag.  It left a water stain - but I really liked the water stain!  I thought that it added character and further grunge to the design - and it looked great with the sentiment stamped over it.  Such a good lesson!

Here's what I used to make it:
Here's how I made it:
  • Wash, dry, and iron napkin.  Lay it flat and spray it with Antique Linen spray stain to add grunge.
  • Once napkin is dry, arrange it on stampwheel base, position floral stamp, and stamp it using Walnut Stain ink.  Stamp it again if darker image is desired.
  • Position leaf stamp in lower left hand corner and stamp it with Walnut Stain ink.  Stamp it again if darker image is desired.
  • Turn the stampwheel to align it in the upper left hand corner and stamp it with Walnut Stain ink.  Repeat this for the next two corners.
  • Position sentiment stamp and stamp it using Ground Espresso ink.
  • Cut the napkin to a 9"x9" square and adhered to the 8"x8" cardboard by flipping 1" border on each side to the back side of the cardboard and adhere down with glue or another adhesive.
  • Color the flower and leaves with colored pencils.  Here's a design tip for you: use colored pencils to color the flower and leaves rather than alcohol markers.  Alcohol markers may react with the ink used to stamp the images and cause the ink to bleed a bit.  Colored pencils will not do this!
  • Put the cardboard panel into the shadow box frame.
Here's a link to a video where you can see the card being created:
Phew . . . I know that was a lot to go over.  I thank you for sticking with me through it!  That wraps up my AECP Level 2 Challenge submission.  Wish me luck!
Until next time . . . be well!


  1. Walter, I'm so impressed by your work on this final challenge. You made each card look awesome and unique :) I love the vintage style and the frame of your project!

  2. Wow what a treat on your blog Walter, these are all amazing and sensational projects. Very impressive and your vintage style is incredible, to be proud of.. xx

    1. Awe, thanks so much, my friend! I had a lot of fun creating it all!


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