Saturday, 27 December 2014


Quite a while ago I shared an example of printing onto book pages.  Stamping onto book pages is even easier!!!!

The bird doesn't exactly go with the text (from a John le Carre novel) but if you were thoughtful you could make some more meaningful pairings between stamp and background.

Saturday, 20 December 2014


I'm a bit prone to sifting through the paper bin at work and "rescuing" potentially useful bits of this and that.  Every now and then, I feel compelled to make something with them just to show that I'm not just a crazy paper hoarder. (Yes, all right, I know the two aren't, strictly speaking, mutually exclusive).

Anyway, should you come across some perfectly good strips of light card in the bin or otherwise, you can use it to make an ornament by cutting one piece the length you want it to be and then cutting long strips of differing lengths, folding them in half and securing them at the top and bottom.  A staple would do, but I've drilled holes with my new screw punch and used a split pin to hold the ends together.

I've added some twine as a hanger at the top, threading it through the hole before the split pin went in. A lot of variations are possible using the same basic principle, but I'll leave that up to your imagination.

Saturday, 13 December 2014


Oh dear, this is not an original idea but I can't remember where I heard/saw it.....I'm happy to add an attribution if anyone could suggest the source.

Anyway its a simple but fabulous idea - just use a tiny bit of double sided tape to stick your acrylic stamp upside down on your stamping block, and then use it as a "shadow" for underneath the image.  In this example I used silver underneath and crimson on top.  You'll have to take my word for it that it looks better in reality.

(I probably shouldn't mention that a little lick and stick is a speedier way than double sided tape to stick the stamp onto the block for the first step.)

Saturday, 6 December 2014


O.K so last week I worked out that Versafine stamps well on wood.  The next issue is deciding how to colour it.  The images were stamped onto a piece of sticky-backed cherry wood.

I did some little samples first.  (Bottom right corner) Alcohol based markers bled very badly into the wood.
Water based markers were OK but a bit overly bright for what I had in mind.  I finally settled on pencils, and was pleased with the results.

I was interested in the top example as I think with a bit more thought you could get a nice faux intarsia effect.

Saturday, 29 November 2014


Most articles reccomend using Staz-on when stamping on wood, but as I wanted to use an non-water based varnish on another project, I was interested to see if a water clean-up ink would do the job.  (A solvent based varnish makes Staz-On bleed and blur).

I'm pleased to report that Verafine does the trick beautifully with only the tiniest amount of bleed, even although the text on the stamp I used is tiny and very finely detailed.

Its hard to see the size of these wooden shapes from the drawing, but the clock is about 2.5cm wide (i.e. they are little).

Right now for the next project............

Saturday, 22 November 2014


This is a bit like kiss stamping, but instead of removing colour you add it by using an inked background stamp to stamp onto another fairly solid stamp inked with a contrasting colour.  You then stamp with the latter so that the outline of the solid stamp is filled with the pattern of the background stamp.

I was happy with how well the black pattern showed up on the pink ink, although I think I'd use other colours if I intended doing anything other than playing with this technique.  I'll be playing with it a lot more though, as it has lots of possibilities, especially if you make your own "solid" stamps from fun foam and die-cuts.

Saturday, 15 November 2014


R. Maria Sabina wrote an article for Craft Stamping magazine outlining this technique and I couldn't wait to try it!  Basically you just drop some nailpolish on top of water, swirl it with a toothpick and print off the result.

As with most things it wasn't quite as easy as this.  The author did address most of the issues I had but of course I read the article properly after
the issues arose.  So, for fellow skim-readers here's a few tips.

Firstly unless you have a very warm room, use lukewarm water - most of the nailpolishes I used just sank in little drops to the bottom - something I ascribed to the brand (which did make a difference) but was probably a temperature issue.

Secondly, as mentioned, all the polishes I used were of the cheap and chips variety (no more that $2.50 per bottle) but there was a lot of variation between brands - some just sank, others created a "skin" on the top of the water, and a couple of the brands seemed to interact with each other to make a sort of lumpy mess.  In other words - buy one bottle of a single brand and do a test run before you get carried away.

Thirdly gloss card has bolder results than matt but the latter still gave a nice albeit more subtle result.

And lastly......wear rubber gloves, or you'll be typing up your blog posting with dark green fingers!!!!!

Despite making a bit of a mess of the whole thing, I was. overall, pleased with the results, and might give it a go again soon, having learnt a few lessons from the first attempt.

Saturday, 8 November 2014


The papercraft aspect if this project are the flowers in the vase - the lilies that have featured previously, and the little text flowers that were made by stacking up three layers of two sizes of retro flower punched book pages.  The layers are secured with wire threaded through a button and twisted underneath to form stems.

Actually the flowers are a bit of a pretext to share these little vases (made from an empty jam jar and herb container).  I was feeling a bit overly tired and wanted something that involved a minimal amount of brainpower (since I'm not very good at sitting in front of the TV and doing nothing with my hands) and saw these in a craft book from the 1970s - all the go back them, and making a revival now, I think.  Just pick a jar, get some string, and wind, coating the jar with a thin layer of tacky craft glue as you go.  I had some hessian trim in a contrasting colour to add as a feature but this is optional.  If you like to fold paper flowers or want a container for pens and pencils these are ideal - very low cost and even lower brain power required.

Saturday, 1 November 2014


I haven't done any digital bits for a while so I thought it was about time.  I keep some examples of things that I really don't like as well as ones that I do (although not as many of them!).  It sometimes helps to try and work out what it is that you don't like, so that you can produce more work that you do.  (If that makes sense).  My start image was this rather horrible concoction of stuck together papers and brown paint stamped on with a cork so.......what don't I like?  Well, for starters the colours are foul, the white panel is too stark and the cork stamping just looks like muddy blodges.  so can it be saved??

I opened up the picture in Elements and started with the colours which just don't work together.  I played around with variations adding lots of blue and green until it looked a bit better.  The cork stamping still looked a bit splodgy and messy to I went into the filters gallery and from the Pixelate section selected and applied "Pointillise" which introduced a little order to the "blodges".  Last of all I just used the elements cookie cutter tool to cut out a butterfly and there you are...!!
Truthfully, I probably won't ever use this background again, but I had fun trying to make it at least semi-presentable!!

Saturday, 25 October 2014



I really like little accordion books, and there's no reason you can't adapt them for cards as well.  This little book ties closed and features Darkroom Door stamps, but the format is handy if you're making a card that lots of people want to sign - just make the book a bit bigger if they want to add their "best wishes" as well.
Just an aside....the feather is a Couture Creations die that I've chopped up a bit to make a bit more "feathery" and I've tied two together with wire - white card on the bottom and  velum on top. I've added just a teeny spray of water to the vellum to make it curl slightly - again, it just gives a little more body to the die cut.

Saturday, 18 October 2014


Thin cotton fabric stuck to thick packaging card with double sided Jac paper, then die-cut looks good, and is an alternative to paper or paint/ink.

If you cut with the fabric face down on the die, the edges bend over slightly and you can get away without having to ink the sides.

You might have to experiment to find out which of your dies are up to the task as the ones designed for thin paper won't have enough cutting power.  I haven't tried a doiley die, but suspect the more intricate cutters wouldn't work very well either.  This is a thick Sizzix die, but I expect most of the nesting dies and the old silver Cuttlebug ones would work too.
As long as the stack you use is not too thick for your machine, it won't hurt to experiment!

Saturday, 11 October 2014


I was going to put this little example in the bin about three times but something stopped me.

It was created by swooshing a few different colours of distress ink, straight from the cubes onto the plastic surface of an embossing folder,( whilst talking to a room full of people, although that bit is optional)  then running it through the Cuttlebug.

Distress inks are very watery . (They are supposed to be), this means that they tend to bead on plastic and smoosh together more than a lot of other inks, when this technique is used.

I kind of like the random nature of the result.  If I was doing it again with a bit more thought I'd choose colours closer on the colour wheel (perhaps yellow-orange-red) and maybe even add a little spray of water to encourage the inks to spread a little bit more.

There's a l lot of potential to play here and, for those who stress about such things, the ink came straight off the embossing folder with a baby wipe!!

Saturday, 4 October 2014


This is a simple technique that just involves wrapping some stiff cardboard (I used packaging) with a two or three layers of aluminium cooking foil, and embossing with your Cuttlebug (or whatever machine you have).

I just secured the foil with a bit of tape at the back but some double-sided Jac would be a more stable way to fix it.

This was a quick snap taken under a fluorescent light but I'm quite taken with the photographic applications of a really shiny embossed surface, as well as its obvious craft uses.  (If you look closely there's a little bit of me in this shot!).

Colour could be added in a variety of ways.....perhaps for future posts????

Saturday, 27 September 2014



Not exactly a technique this week, but........
Popping photos up on a blog is one way to keep a track of various papercraft techniques but nothing quite beats the real I've finally started to organize all my little examples by sticking them into a sketch book and adding captions, to remind me what they actually are.

Its not a fabulous art journal.....more a scrapbook in the old-school sense of the word, full of bits and pieces to provide inspiration for when I do get the time to make something fabulous....sort of a pre-journal journal if you like.

Its turning out to be quite a fun activity in itself.  I don't aim to "finish" a page......just stick things here and there until there's no more room left.  No rules, even about which way is up, a great way to pretend all those little scraps of paper that used to live here there and everywhere, were always destined for greater things than the rubbish bin!!!!

Saturday, 20 September 2014


Following on from last week's theme of using what you already have, is this week's example of some of the things you can use to emboss in your Cuttlebug/Bigshot etc.
The possibilities are endless but from the few things I tried, I'd suggest that best results are obtained with low, stiff items such as the mesh, second best with low stretchy things like the rubber bands, and less successfully higher things like the paper clips and coins.  The latter tend to tear the paper.  I used 200g card, but imagine that if you used a softer handmade paper and perhaps made it just a little damp (not wet) you'd probably have less tearing.
To emboss "all sorts" in the Cuttlebug you need a rubber embossing mat, which goes on top of the paper.  The items go underneath.  You'll also need at least one plate (probably your white A plate), if not two (B or C plate) on the very bottom of the stack, and ideally another plate (B) on the top.  Its a matter of juggling the plates (possibly with the addition of cardboard shims) to make the right combo that is thick enough to have the desired embossing effect without endangering your machine in any way.  Cuttlebugs are tough little machines but they will break if you force things through so proceed with caution!!
I've also used white card for these examples actually didn't think this would work anywhere near as well as it did.  As I'm a bit overly busy at the moment I don't have time to repeat using a core colour paper and sanding or even inking over the design, but I think both would enhance the effect. Mind you, this does give me something else to post when I do have more time to play!!

Saturday, 13 September 2014


Now that we have access to all those lovely dies and hole punches its often easy to overlook things that are right in front of us.  This is an example of one thing I did manage to notice.......

The leaf at the top blew in through the door at work.  The leaf at the bottom is some of our packing card with under 5 minutes "work".

I used the real leaf as a template, and cut out the other with scissors (yes...they're still useful).  After scrunching it up a bit, I added some "veins" with a coloured pencil (there was only one brown one in the cupboard so I didn't really chose the shade), then dabbed a bit of distress ink here and there.  A little bit more scrunching added extra shape.

A bit more time, and more careful selection of colours would do wonders!!!  In the meantime I'm waiting for summer so I can acquire a new range of "leaf templates"!!

Saturday, 6 September 2014


 You might have noticed that I'm having a bit of a Cuttlebug thing happening at the moment.  It is work-related, but even so, I've been discovering and rediscovering lots of techniques that I either haven't tried or had all but forgotten.  The trouble is, Cuttlebugs are just so useful without even trying to do tricky things, its easy just to stick to straightforward die-cutting and embossing.

This week's technique is simple but I hadn't really played around much with it until recently, and I've added "play more soon" to my "To Do" list.  Dies obviously only cut where the cutting ridge is in contact with the paper/card, so by threading the paper (or in this case a thick tag) through the die, a decorative edge is added using a bracket square die.  I've also done some partial cutting with the little Marianne bird die into the bottom of other tags, and then used the cut-puts as extra decoration.

I'm now starting to look at my dies in a whole new way, when I consider all the different sections that could be used in different ways.

Saturday, 30 August 2014


People are ripping packing card apart all over the internet at the moment.  More talented folk than me are even ripping patterns and complicated designs.  I thought at the very least I should give it a go.  As I don't do a lot of grunge style work I wasn't anticipating it being very useful for my cardmaking but the effect is kind of compelling and may yet find its way to a sample card or two in the future.

It did, however, occur to me that a scan or photo of the torn card would make a terrific texture to add to some of my photos.  The two I've played with aren't "quite there" but, as you can see, its worked well enough to justify a bit of playing around.  Just drag the torn card photo on top of another picture and play with blending modes in Elements, if you'd like to try for yourself.



Saturday, 23 August 2014


This is one of those simple techniques that seems almost self-evident after someone has shown you how to do it!!

Position your die and paper in your Cuttlebug, roll through almost, but not quite to the end, then roll backwards.  Reposition the die so that the scallops align, at the end.  (You might want to use some removable tape to make sure it stays in place).  Roll through to complete your cut.

That's all there is to it!!  I'm not sure how it would work in other die-cutting machines but expect the same principle would probably apply.

Saturday, 16 August 2014


 A couple of techniques to share with this folded fan.  We all made them when we were kids, didn't we - even without the benefits of scoring boards, and bone scorers.  I think we used to secure the bottom either by folding it over a couple of times or stapling it together!!

Here are three folded fan ideas.
1.  Use a border punch to add a decorative edge to both sides of the strip.
2.  Bend the bottom up so that the reverse colour (in this case white) makes a contrasting section at the base of the fan.  (After posting this I realize I probably should have used a less subtle contrast in my example - but give it a try if you want to see for  yourself how much it adds to the "basic" fan.)
3.  Staples are a bit ugly (unless you're going for a grunge or industrial look) and are a bit hard to get through lots of layers, and glue can be messy and hard to apply in all those pleats, so an alternative way of securing the bottom is to punch along the (in this case, folded) bottom edge with a small circle handpunch, then thread thin white-coated wire in and out of the holes.  Fold up the paper, pull the wire tight and twist the edges together to secure.

Happy fan making!!!!

Saturday, 9 August 2014


Another simple little Cuttlebug idea that came about as a happy accident.  I needed to shim a die, and for reasons I won't bore you with, put a sheet of thick packing card under the top cutting plate to do the job.  The die (which is from Couture Creations), cut through the paper I wanted cut, but then cut into the thick packing shim without cutting right through, leaving a debossed/engraved image which actually looks much better in real life than the photo would indicate.
I think experimenting with using extra-thick card (or a couple of pieces of card) with the intention of NOT cutting the shape out  of one is worthwhile.  (Do adjust the stack accordingly, though, and never force anything through, as tough as they are Cuttlebugs and Bigshots are breakable if you overdo it.
A bit of inking over the top would add interest.  I think with a little effort I could probably get a nice engraved leather look.........but that will have to wait.  So much I want to do, so little time!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, 2 August 2014


Stuck to card with Jac paper
Cut shell with babywipe background
Alcohol-free baby wipes make stamp-cleaning easy, especially if you're crafting away from home.

These really thick, soft ones from a well-known chain store (oh, OK, from Target) also make brilliant backgrounds.  No need to be too fussy - just avoid cleaning colours opposite each other on the colour wheel on the same cloth unless you want a bit of a murky mess (even that might have applications).

The next step of this "non-technique" came about when I left a recently (over) inked shell stamp face down on a cloth and found that it had left a very clear impression, even given a bit of bleeding of the ink.  Stuck to cardboard with double sided Jac paper, and then cut out with scissors, leaving just a little border all around, the shell makes a really interesting embellishment, with a great soft furry texture.

Saturday, 26 July 2014


I had a few of these cards (which are still available from Regal Craft Cards) in the storeroom and was looking for something to do with them, apart from just colouring in, or putting some coloured fabric or paper behind the cut-out rose.

What I ended up doing - doodling - is hardly earth-shattering, but even so, I liked the end result enough to share it with you.  Its just black fine marker on white card under the main flower, and a white gel pen on black card under the leaves.

I tried to finish it off with a hand drawn border which turned out a little bit less than amazing but I still like the idea.

I think I'll have another go at this.  Any card with a cut-out could be used.

Saturday, 19 July 2014


 There are a couple of techniques to share this week.  The first is a background.  Versamark Dazzle is an ink pad that has a similar effect to normal Versamark (i.e. it shows stamped on dyed-through papers a shade or two darker than the paper colour) but adds a little sparkle as well.  Its not over the top, just a subtle shimmer (which obviously doesn't photograph easily).
The background here has been made with a variety of Darkroom Door stamps.

The main shells are from Graphic45, which brings us onto technique 2, which is to add a little dimension by stamping two images, cutting the second smaller than the first and then fixing it over the top with foam tape or silicone glue.  It works best if you do a little shaping first.  There are tools and mats with which you can do this, but gently stroking the middle of the shape in the palm of your hand works for a little project such as this one.

Saturday, 12 July 2014


I had a little space under the TV that kind of needed to be filled with something.  As I have many "somethings" that I'm not greatly fond of, I folded up these flowers as a "stand in" until I found A "something" I really loved. I'm actually kind of liking them so maybe they'll stay a while.  There are really clear instructions at:

Saturday, 5 July 2014


 I bought a really nice set of leaf stamps recently, but there is an alternative - real leaves!!  This little bunch came from a banksia rose.  I just dabbed some Versacolour ink directly onto the underside of the leaves. Pigment inks are a bit stickier than dye-based ones and I suspect work best for this, though I'm happy to be corrected.  I'd already made a base background by "printing" with distress inks on an acrylic block (as in a recent post).  the brighter green is the first print, the more subtle example is the second print.  I placed the inked leaves on top and brayered over the top to apply an even pressure, and made a couple of prints before re-inking.  I applied them in a random way, similarly to the stamps in last week's example.
The results with rubber stamps are obviously more predictable but this approach will produce a truly unique result (which you can of course scan if you want to reproduce it).

Saturday, 28 June 2014


 Perhaps I should have called this the "Background" blog but for whatever reason its backgrounds that are interesting me most at the moment.  I guess I'm trying to wean myself from reaching for the patterned paper all the time, and I'm pleased to find there are many quick alternatives.  This one in particular, takes less time that cutting paper to size and putting on some doublesided tape.

In this example I've stamped multiple times onto a textured ivory card, inking about every third time, and stamping over the edges.  I tried with a few different stamps but it seems to work best with a fairly solid one (the flower and shell are both from Darkroom Door).  I used Versafine ink, which is good for detail because even although the result of the overstamping and the texture is abstract, I wanted the shape to remain evident.

To complete the card, I would stamp a single image onto co ordinating smooth card, double mount it on ivory and green (or blue for the shells) and place it in the centre of the card.  Of course, that's just one option.

Saturday, 21 June 2014


I love this paper!!   Just brush a very watery layer of acrylic paint over a sheet of thick paper (I use a dark green paint from Kaiser), then sprinkle with salt (I used ground sea salt).  After its thoroughly dry brush off the salt and you're left with tiny little specks where the grains of salt lay.  In this example they look a bit like miniature moon craters.  I think you could do some great faux rust with oranges and red.
I've seen this technique used with different colouring mediums (watercolours, ink) and different salts, and suspect all the combinations may produce somewhat different results - certainly worth exploring!!

Saturday, 14 June 2014


As you can probably tell by now, I've just bought myself some new Distress Ink sets. I've been reading about inking backgrounds using a craft mat and wondered, given I usually worked on a small scale, whether or not an acrylic block would work.  It does!
Just blob a colour or two of distress ink straight from the pad onto a large acrylic block, spritz it with water until the colours start to run together and blend then either turn it over and "stamp" onto your paper/card, or alternatively, put the paper onto the block.  If you do the latter you can smooth it over with your hand which helps the colours to blend.

Saturday, 7 June 2014


 I was playing around with distress ink pads (easy to do now that they come in little cubes) when it occurred to me that I hadn't yet put the "classic" inked background on the blog.  I can't pretend that I haven't tried this a time or ten before but still......
Crumple up some thickish paper (thin is OK but it tears easily), unfold it without straightening it completely, wet it well, then just rub a bit of distress ink here and there.  I haven't gone overboard in these examples, so the ink has just caught the top of the folds..  When the paper is dry, flatten it more.  You can use it "as is" or carefully iron it with a coolish iron.  (Make sure the steam is switched off!). Any water-based ink will work, but distress inks are nice and runny to start with and are consequently easy to use for this technique

Saturday, 31 May 2014


If you have Photoshop Elements then its easy to make your own backgrounds. I've used my score board to divide a white A4 paper into 2.5cm squares, and each I've doodled a vaguely flowery or leafy shape with a black marker.  Some turned out well, others not this stage it doesn't really matter.

Use the selection tool to select one that you like then click on "Edit" then "Save as Brush."  Name it if you want to.  After this its a matter of opening a new file in whatever size you want, make the background whatever colour you want, then click on the brush tool.  Go up to the little picture at the top which shows the brush you've chosen and click on the arrow.  Scroll down and select the brush you have just made.  Chose a size and colour and off you go.  Here are some examples from my sheet...........