Bright and Beautiful Bokeh

At my stamp club meeting last month, I promised the group we’d have a fun project that features a technique that’s really hot right now – bokeh.  They’d not heard of it, and I made the promise before I’d even completed a project with it.  (for future reference:  that’s not a good idea)  After a couple of mishaps, here’s the card we made:

Painted Petals, bokeh technique,Stampin' Up!, Brian King

Bokeh is a technique in photography that describes the appearance of blurry lights in an unfocused photo.  You see this technique used with city streets at night and Christmas trees around the holidays.  Whether these spots look like lights, they sure are pretty.

Here’s What I Did

As I sat down to make my bokeh card, I was pretty sure I knew what to do – and failed miserably.  All the ink ran together, the circles weren’t spaced like I wanted them, and everything was so light that I had to hold the card at an angle to even see that an technique was being showcased.  I searched online and found a great video tutorial on Dawn Griffith’s site that helped me make the card I promised (you can see it here).  Here’s a rundown of how I finished this card:

  • I started with a piece of Whisper White cardstock – I originally got all smart and tried it with Shimmery White, but it didn’t work for me.  Make the piece a little bit larger than you want (more on that later).
  • I sponged a random pattern of Rich Razzleberry and Strawberry Slush across the background of the Whisper White piece.  Use two or three colors that will stand out against the white that will be applied on top.
  • I created a template with a Window Sheet and the four smallest circles in the Circles Collection Framelits – punches don’t cut through the acetate sheets very well.
  • With a sponge dauber, I sponged the circles on top of the sponged card front with Whisper White Craft Ink – random circles in varying depths – some with more white than others.  They are going to get messy, but that’s A-OK.  You can dry the circles by patting them with a paper towel or with a heat gun.
  • I added a couple more “specks” with a stamp from Gorgeous Grunge.
  • When you sponge the cardstock, the edges of the card will appear darker – and if you use a post-it note to hold your cardstock down, that part will remain un-inked.  To remove the effect of both, I trimmed the edges a bit.  (I told you there was a reason to cut it a little bigger).  🙂
  • I mounted it and added a sentiment on top.
  • I smiled and shared with my group.

Here’s What They Did

Here are some photos of our meeting at Marti’s house:

You can’t see it here, but Aunt Deb is using my “patented” squinting technique to see where she’ll want to place her sentiment (she owes me three nickels):

Bokeh with Stamp Club, Stampin' Up!, Brian King

They were all so happy to share their finished cards – meet Marti, Melanie, Rene, Deb and Selina (Becky was on vacation):

Bokeh with Stamp Club, Stampin' Up!, Brian KingAfter the cards were finished (along with another project you’ll see tomorrow), they got to the most important part – placing their orders!  🙂

Bokeh with Stamp Club, Stampin' Up!, Brian KingStamp Sets:  Painted Petals, Gorgeous Grunge  Papers:  Rich Razzleberry, Strawberry Slush, Whisper White  Inks:  Rich Razzleberry, Strawberry Slush, Whisper White Craft Ink  Accessories:  1-3/4″ Circle punch, 2″ Circle punch, Window Sheets, Circles Collection Framelits, Stampin’ Sponges, Sponge Daubers, Stampin’ Dimensionals

I hope you’ll give this technique a try – it’s wonderfully fun and amazingly beautiful. Thanks for stopping by today!


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  1. Suzie Patt Cullen

    Great blog entry today, Brian! I smiled as I read between the lines! And the link to Dawn’s video was very educational on the Bokeh technique – thank you! Loved the pictures from your stamp club, too!

  2. I’m glad to hear you can sponge on the three colors. I thought they had to be applied with reinkers on wet cardstock. You’re approach sounds so much easier! Nice job!

  3. Very helpful. Love the tip about cutting the Whisper White card stock a bit bigger than you really want. Did you use heat tool after sponging the color (before the White Craft dots?) I found it helpful. or you could wait till the sponged ink dries, waiting is not my strong suit so I liked using the heat tool. By the way, loved the color combination. Thanks.

    • I didn’t wait for the ink to dry. That meant my white craft ink got a little bit of color in it – but it wasn’t pristine in the first place. 🙂

  4. I love the colour combination you selected, I think I’ll give it a try today. I have tried this technique a couple of times but always on wet water colour paper (there’s currently a piece from yesterday drying on my desk!); as Amy says this sounds easier. Thanks for sharing.

  5. The addition of the Gorgeous Grunge specks adds so much to this! I haven’t tried this yet but now…. yeah, this weekend it is. I love the color combination, too. Very nice all around.

  6. I too love the addition of the gorgeous grunge specks. I hadn’t seen anyone do that, but it really adds a lot. I have a question. When you host a group, do you supply everything or do the attendees bring there own supplies, i.e., ink, paper, stamps, etc.? How many projects do you do? Do you have everything precut before hand or do the attendees do that when they get there? I’ve never been to a stamping party and am very curious on how things are done? Thanks in advance.

    • Terri – thanks for your kind words and questions. There are several ways to share Stampin’ Up! with other people – I host workshops, clubs and get togethers. I know, they all sound the same but there’s a slight difference. This group I showed today meets monthly – and it’s the same six people every time. We make two or three projects (I cut everything and bring all the supplies). They place orders (each commit to a specific $ floor), and they alternate between who receives the host rewards. They are a fun group, and I know just how difficult I can make the projects. With a workshop, I have to make very “beginner” projects because someone may be there who’s never stamped before. Get togethers are more informal – I’m hosting a Paper Pumpkin party each month where people bring their kits, and we all just work on them.

  7. Love the card! I’m eager to try the technique. The blurred effect with the lights is very accurate–that’s what happens to EVERYTHING when I take off my glasses! 😉

  8. I’ve never tried this technique, but your explanation is in terms that I can try it now. This is a beautiful card with great colors. It looks as though your group had tons of fun.

  9. This is one of my favorite cards! I can’t wait to try to make it again on my own. Thanks Brian!

  10. Cute card Brian, the colors you chose are so pretty. You keep posting things I need to try. Thanks for the link to the video.

  11. Letting the ink dry is a great tip, thanks!!!

  12. The best Bokeh technique I have ever seen. You make it look so easy. WNow I have the confidence to give a try. Loved the colors you used.

  13. This looks amazing! I really want to try this. Thanks for sharing it!

  14. I must agree with everyone else that these colors are really pretty . The card is slightly celestial looking with this effect . Pretty ! Your group looks like they really enjoyed making them . Fun !

  15. I’ve seen this technique, but haven’t tried it yet! You definitely inspired me to try it! Love your card with awesome background and gorgeous color!:-)

  16. I’m late commenting on this beautiful card, this technique is really awesome, the images truly look like they are floating about, love the colors you picked. Thank you for the link to Dawn’s tutorial, I’ve seen some but hers are always great to watch.

  17. This is amazing. I am a Stampin’ Up Demonstrator and will be using this technique at my next Stamp Camp. LOVE IT!!!

  18. Your card turned out so nice. I haven’t even tried Bokeh and am happy sticking with patterned paper! I love how you promised this technique before ever trying it. I’ve done the same and agree, that’s never a good decision. 😉

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