Monthly Archives: July 2008

Watercoloring Options

  • Dry palettes are the most universally known of the your watercolor options.  Most of us remember grabbing a dry palette in grade school and enjoying hours of fun.  You just add a few drops of water to the dry color and dab it onto a mixing palette.  Use straight from the container or dilute the color. 
  • Watercolor tubes are another common watercolor paint.  You dab a little of the creamy paint from the tube onto your palette and start adding some water to dilute the concentrated hues.  You can also mix your own colors. 
  • Liquid watercolors come in bottles usually with a dropper as part of the bottles top.  Liquid watercolors are often the most brilliant.  You’ll simply squeeze a drop or two of color onto your palette and dilute with water until you are happy with the hue.  You can also use the liquid undiluted.  Just dip your brush tip into the color and begin to use on your image.  Work from the outer part of the image into the center.  By doing this you will see that you are shading the image with little hassle since by the time you are coloring the center, the color has become diluted or lighter as the water flows to the brush tip.
  • Water-based markers work as watercolors.  All you need to do is take an old CD (the kind you keep getting in the mail and throw away) and apply color from the marker directly onto the CD (or other palette).  You pick up the color from the CD with your waterbrush and color to your heart’s content.  You can do the same thing with any water-based (non-permanent inkpads or reinkers) inkpads.  Pick up some color by lightly touching the waterbrush tip to the inkpad and bringing the color to a palette.  A little color goes a long way.  It’s best to work or color a small area at a time.  Go lighter than you think you need because you can always add more color and watercolors tend to dry a bit darker in hue than what is seen when wet.
  • Nicholson’s Peerless Water Colors are one of the prettiest transparent watercolors.  Peerless was originally designed for use in coloring black and white photographs, but artists and crafters soon began using the watercolors for much more including paper and rubberstamping designs.  The watercolor paint is on a thin sheet of paper.  All you do is take the wet tip of the waterbrush and stroke it over the watercolor sheet.  Bring the color to a palette and wipe the excess color off onto the palette.  Depending on the degree of color you want you’ll either add more color off the Peerless sheet or add more water to the color already on your palette.  Test the color on a scrap piece of paper and adjust until the color is to your liking.  Then you’ll start coloring your design.  To clean the brush all you need to do is squeeze the handle over a paper towel and wipe the tip until no more


  • Humidity can warp this paper. If you live in an area with high humidity, store the vellum in airtight container.  Vellum is more delicate than most papers so storing in a file or other protective organizer can help prevent curling, creased edges, and keep the vellum free of dust and dirt smudges.  Store vellum flat.
  • Use sharp scissors or blades when working with vellum.  The heavy weight of this paper dulls blades quickly.  Make sure to sharpen your punches too.  Punching a piece of aluminum foil a few times will sharpen a punch’s cutting plate.
  • Vellum loves to be dressed up with silk ribbons, fine glitters, sparkling embellishments, and gel inks.  It can also get casual with raffia ribbon, buttons, or beads.
  • Although vellum is not as easy to rip or tear as some papers, you can use this technique.  It’s wise to practice ripping vellum so you can get a feel of the results.  Vellums sold do vary in weight and body.
  • Aging vellum is easy.  Brush, dab, rub or splatter inks and chalks over the entire piece, random areas or around just the edges.  Crumple the paper (a lot or a little) and then smooth it out by hand or with a low-temp iron.
  • Vellum has a tendency to lighten or whiten when embossed so unless that is the look you are trying to achieve it is best to buy vellum that is already embossed.
  • Some paper crafters love using a Xyron system when adhering vellum to a surface while others think this dulls the translucent quality of the vellum.
  •  Other glue alternatives are:  2-way or 2 in 1 glues and mounting sprays.  A quick test is to use the glue to adhere vellum to a dark piece of paper.  If the glue doesn’t show on dark paper it won’t show on most other colors.
  • You can also hide glue by placing any glue where you know you’ll be placing an embellishment.
  • Non-glue alternatives are brads, eyelets, nailheads, or needle and thread.  If you opt to sew the vellum, it is best to pre-punch the holes rather than letting the needle cut through the vellum.
  • Most vellums can be run through both ink jet and laser printers.  It is best if you set the freshly printed vellum aside for at least 30 minutes to let the ink completely dry or to carefully heat set the ink with a heat tool or a blow dryer. Some vellums will crinkle the heat of the laser printer. 


Swaps are a great way to share your talents with others and to let others inspire you.  Basically, a swap happens when a group of people gets together and exchange with each other for a one-time event or a regular basis.  The group might swap papers, embellishments, finished tags, cards, or whatever peeks their fancy.

General Card Swap Set-up

  1. Someone needs to volunteer to coordinate the swap.  In some swaps, two items will be made or given to the swap.  One is sent to the coordinator for his or her efforts while the second is sent to another swap member.
  2. Pick the number of people you’d like to have for the swap.  You can leave this open, but if just starting it’s best to have a small group.
  3. You can have swaps sent to the coordinator who will in turn mail out the swap to all participants OR once there is a list of participants, the coordinator will exchange all mailing information to each participant.  A participant will be given another swap member’s mailing information so the swap can be mailed directly to a swap “partner”.
  4. Pick a theme, technique, or embellishment for your swap. You can also have swaps for materials used in cardmaking like having a fiber, ribbon, or cardstock swap.  It’s your swap, you can get creative.
  5. Select a few deadlines or begin/closing dates.  Have a date that the swap closes.  In other words, no more people can sign up to participate.  Let swap members know when the card should be in the mail and a gentle reminder a week before this deadline isn’t a bad idea.
  6. Follow-up to make sure all swap members got his or her swap.  It’s a good time to ask how everyone enjoyed the swap and if there is any interest in a future swap.

Swap Etiquette

  1. You don’t have to spend your last paycheck during a swap, but it is important that you put your best efforts into it.  Make or swap something you’d like to get. 
  2. Don’t miss any deadlines or due dates.  What if everyone was a little late?  The swap would never finish.
  3. If you are unhappy for any reason, contact the swap coordinator.  Mistakes happen and not all swaps are created equal, just do your best to be courteous.
  4. If you have a question about anything, ask it immediately.  Don’t know what MMM means?  Don’t have a clue what a RAK is?  Just ask and you’ll learn more about Monday Morning Mailings and Random Acts of Kindness. 
  5. If doing a swap via the web (mail list, forum, user group), know the rules about if you need to post an acknowledgment or thank-you online.

Shrink Plastic

Materials you need on hand…

  • Shrink Plastic:  A variety of colors are available plus clear and opaque.
  • Sharp Scissors
  • Fine Sanding Paper
  • Toaster Oven or Oven or Heat Tool
  • Cooking sheet for toaster oven or oven
  • Hole paper punch
  • Permanent inks, oil coloring pencils
  • Optional:  Computer printer to print images

Step By Step

  1. This product will shrink over 50% of the original size when heated.
  2. Be aware that shrink plastic does have a grain. 
  3. Lightly sand the shrink plastic before applying ink or oil based colored pencils.
  4. Stamp or draw an image.  Color.  Cut out if desired.
  5. It is best to color the plastic before heating. 
  6. If creating a charm, you must hold punch the shrink plastic BEFORE heating or baking.
  7. Following manufacturer’s instructions, “bake” shrink plastic in toaster oven or oven.  Do not leave unattended.  Watch the shrink plastic.  It will take a few minutes, but the shrink plastic will begin to shrink.  Average baking time is approximately 3-5 minutes.  It is done when the plastic remains flat and not moving.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before touching.
  8. Another heating option is to use your heat tool.  Place the shrink plastic in a box and begin to apply heat to it with heat tool or heat gun.  It will move about, but keep heating until shrinking is complete.

Tips and Ideas

  • Avoid trying to heat shrink plastic too quickly because it can curl and if not careful it will curl on itself. You can flatten with a metal or wood spoon.
  • Smaller items will curl quickly and flatten faster than larger pieces. 
  • Make your own custom buttons.
  • When inking your project be sure to use a heat-setting ink such pigment inks for best results or use permanent ink.
  • If using chalks be certain to use non-oil chalk pastels.
  • Trace a child or baby’s foot or hand to make a unique embellishment or charm
  • Use punches and make your own confetti
  • Cut out tag shapes
  • You can use rubberstamp images, hand drawn images, trace die cuts, letters, or template shapes.  Just keep in mind that the image will be very small.

Sewing Tips For Scrapbooking

  • When using a sew machine always use a scrap piece of paper (the same weight as the paper you want to use for your scrapbook page) and run some test stitches to get the feel of how your machine sews the paper.
  • Experiment with the stitch width of your machine for different looks.
  • Sewing machines do a great job for sewing a border.
  • Sew on a pocket for your page
  • Randomly sew across, up, down, and diagonal creating a unique background paper.
  • Use any decorative stitches your sewing machine might have.
  • Always make sure there is no adhesive on the front or back of anything you are sewing through.  Adhesive can jam up your sewing machine.
  • When hand sewing you might have an easier time if you paper punch small holes where you plan to hand sew.  It’s much easier than hoping your needle can pierce the paper evenly.
  • Threads and fibers can be used to dangle charms, paper roses and small buttons.
  • When hand sewing you might want to lightly trace your pattern or design onto the scrapbook page or cardstock (for a card).
  • Try using embroidery flosses and threads, tapestry yarn, tatting thread, metallic threads and specialty yarns.  The variety makes for a fun textured page or card.
  • To keep fibers from unraveling dab just a touch of clear paper glue to each raw end.  You can also use a fray stopping liquid.
  • A dab of clear nail polish with hold any knot and keep it from coming through the paper.  Make sure the knot is to the back of your scrapbook page.
  • Try mixing colors and textures of fibers for a page.  Use thick fibers to frame your title, captions or photos.
  • Don’t throw out your scraps of threads and fibers.  Keep them in a small box and use them for smaller projects.
  • Pulling a thread over beeswax or thread conditioner will keep the threads from tangling and knotting.  Beeswax will stiffen thread, while thread conditioner will soften threads.

Patterned & Printed Paper

  • A first step can be to use a color coordinated patterned paper with a few solids within the same color family.  Pick a color, any color and lay the patterned paper side by side or use it within a layered look.
  • Prints and patterns look great when bordered with solids (a single color with little or no variation, texture, or other conflicting element).  You can use paper, ribbon, fabric, trims and embellishments.  And the opposite works well too, use the printed-paper as a border for a solid to highlight the main element of your design.
  • Avoid getting too busy with your selection of printed-paper.  You don’t need to overdo it by trying to include too many patterns or prints.  If using solid borders or lines to build a design consider using fine lines and thick full lines to add interest.
  • Experiment with using big patterns with small detail prints.  The key is to not let any one pattern overwhelm the others.  Proportion is important.  Keep the overall design balance with a flow that the eye can follow.  The eye should be able to see a focal point of your project easily.
  • Distressing a bold pattern can soften it.  Crinkle, sand, or soak the paper in a batch of strong tea and add an antique flair to the paper.
  • Mix and match quiet, subtle patterns with big bold sassy patterns.  The understated pattern works as a solid helping keep patterns from clashing.
  • Geometrical design is a classic and works well with patterned papers.  Cut some scraps into rectangles or squares and play with the design.  You can have fun imitating quilt patterns and modern art flair.
  • As a general rule in most paper art, the larger bodies of printed papers are use as the foundation or mail block of the design while bold patterns are used as accents in smaller doses.  However, keep in mind that rules were meant to be broken at times too.
  • Rubberstamping over a patterned or printed-paper adds some texture and excitement.  You’ve also created a truly unique “new” paper that is personalized to your taste and creativity. 
  • Sponge some ink or paint over a patterned paper to give it a new look.  Use a metallic for a rich, sophisticated effect.  Use a soft white or blue for a romantic look.  And use a light wash of soft brown for an aged feel.
  • If using a photo within your design, make sure the pattern paper isn’t overwhelming to the photo or the photo will get lost in the mix.  Either enlarge the photo or down size the pattern or print on the paper to help bring focus back to the photo.


Glitter is a great way to add some extra sparkle and pizzazz to any paper art project from a scrapbook page to a greeting card to a collage. However, glitter can be a little intimidating and if you aren’t careful you will have glitter from head to toe and in every room in the house!

· Work with clean hands and use an anti-static bag or dryer sheet. Lightly dab or rub anti-static bag or dryer sheet over your surface to prevent glitter scattering due to static electricity.

· It is best to work with ultra fine glitters for the most beautiful results. Plus the ultra fine glitter is a little softer than the chunkier glitters.

· Adhere glitter with glitter glue or a thin-bodied paper glue. Don’t over glue or your glitter will lose some luster. You want the glitter to float on top of the glue, not sink into it. Don’t delay in apply glitter to glue, you want the glue as wet and shiny as possible for best overall adhesion.

· Work in an area with no drafts or breezes to carry the glitter in the air. Place surface or item to be glittered into a paper plate or other container.  Tap glitter onto the glue as close to the glue as possible to again avoid getting the glitter everywhere. Tap off excess glitter and immediately pour glitter back into its original container. Let glittered surface set until dry. Again, tap off any remaining excess.


 · Glitter can be applied to paper, vellum, transparencies, wood, fabric, metal, glass, and plastics.

· Add a dot of glitter to accents on a page or card. For example: the antenna of a butterfly, as a drop of water on a rose petal, or the tip of an alphabet letter.

· A less messy form of glitter is glitter glue. You can write, draw and accent with this fine tip glitter in a bottle. The adhesive used in glitter glues usually dries clear.

· Add ultra fine glitter to your watercolors, embossing powders, and chalks.· Write out a message with glitter. Use a fine tip on the glue bottle for fine lines. You can also accent titles and large text words with super thin lines of glitter.

· Glitter is perfect for accenting snow, rain, water, and fog. Glitter can be mixed with clays for fabulous results.

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