Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Spice Up Your Embosing

I discovered heat embossing early on in my stamping career, and fell instantly in love with it! It's still my favorite "wow" technique, giving me a thrill each time I watch those granules change from tiny colored grains into a smooth, shiny image.

As with many things, I bought all kinds of brands and types of powders before I learned to simplify! How to store this collection efficiently when only two were alike to begin with? I saw an idea somewhere for putting the powders into spice jars. I commented at stamp club one evening that I was looking for a wall-mount spice jar rack, and my friend Lori came bringing me this from a garage sale a couple of months later. I LOVE IT. Most of the colors I had accumulated just got dumped into the spice jars, and I ran lid labels onto Whisper White and punched them out. A couple of the jars had lids missing. Amazing as it seems, the lids from the SU! embossing powders fit perfectly, completing my set.

Want to learn from my mistakes as you start out? Here's what you need to know when you can't find anyone to ask in the craft store aisles:

When you first begin to heat emboss, invest in a
good quality heat gun. Tool temperatures can vary by as much as 300 degrees, and you don't want to be disappointed because your powder won't melt! Be sure the metal tip of the gun is not exposed so you avoid burns (it's hotter than your curling iron, gals!). It's also nice to have a tool that comes with a guarantee - think Stampin' Up! here. This is an investment for the long haul, not worth the "savings" when you have to buy two or three cheaper heat guns over the same period of time that one quality tool will last.

Next, you'll need a way to stick the embossing powder to the paper until you can melt it. Here's where the amazing
VersaMark ink comes in. It remains tacky for about 10 minutes, giving you plenty of time to work.

Of course, you'll need some
embossing powder. Did you know it comes in three grades? Fine or "detail" is good for those really delicate images, medium (most readily available and not usually labeled as to grade), and thick/heavy (sometimes used for an overall coating, such as the clear "Glassy Glaze" which makes such an interesting cracked or stained glass effect). A one ounce jar will last...and last...and last! To keep your powder true to color, make sure you shake it into a clean receptacle to return it to the original container.

Top Secret Tip: You do not need one of every color embossing powder. You need black, white, metallics (including Ver-de-gris if you like that), and clear. This is true with very few exceptions and simplifies things so much! Here's what to do: Coat your stamp with Versamark. Next, stamp into the classic ink color you want your embossed image to appear. Now stamp onto your cardstock, apply clear embossing powder and heat set. Your finished image will appear to be whatever color ink you used! This saves you so much space and $$! And it will not damage your ink pads (just be sure to clean your stamp before you put it on the Versamark again).

embossing buddy isn't essential to the actual process of heat embossing, but you'll be especially glad you have one in the winter or if your crafting space is carpeted. It's a little bag filled with a powder that cuts static electricity, which can cause rogue granules to stick to your project where you don't want them! This little gizmo will save you lots of time and angst and ensure a clean, clear finished image with just a simple swipe across your card stock before you stamp the image.

Speaking of those receptacles. I started with flexible paper plates. These work okay, and it's what I could afford at first after I bought the above. You can just fold the plate in half to create a channel and send those unused granules back into the jar for the next time. However. Once the plate has uncooperatively "popped" on you a couple of times, showering embossing granules all over you and your work area, you may want to rethink the decision to purchase a set of the Powder Pals. Their shape helps control the flow of the powder, and the little removable plugs in the narrow end let you keep control of what falls out, when!

Finally, I keep a couple of tiny paint brushes and a larger brush (for cleaning my work area) nearby. The small brushes work well if I want to remove embossing powder granules from part of the image before heat setting.

Hope you find this helpful as you work with this very rewarding technique! -Kathy

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Butterfly Ring Notepad

Stamping supplies:
Asst. Stampin’ Up Card Stock
Rose Red Ink
Stampin’ Up! Sponges
Background Texturz Plate
Basic Black 1-1/4” Striped Grosgrain Ribbon
Blushing Bride -½” Stitched-Poly Ribbon
Marina Mist 1/8” Taffeta Ribbon
Basic Pearls Jewels
Glue Dots
*Sticky Notepad
*Ring Clip

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pennants & Fun Folds

Today I have a couple of examples from a recent swap with other demonstrators for you.

The first showcases the new Petite Pennants Builder punch and mini clothespins that you'll find in the 2011-12 IB&C. Thanks, Deloris!

The second is called a "center step" card/fold. I think it makes a great presentation for a little piece of cardstock - wouldn't it showcase a photo or some really nice watercoloring well? This is the quick version, letting some beautiful DSP do the work for you (Beyond the Garden). The new Four Frames stamp set guides the eye to the sentiment. Good choice, Lily - I'm a bit of a "fun fold junkie" and I'd never seen this one before.

Be inspired! I sure was... -Kathy

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Corraling the Small Stuff

When Ginny turned twelve, she began to sort through the accumulation of childhood and toss. Beads, barrettes, buttons, feathers, "jewels", shells, bits of ribbon and string, little flowers and lots of miniature items once deemed suitable for beanie baby tea parties. Both the sentimentalist and the recycler in me were horrified (and somewhat envious of her ability to simply let go). Much of it did make it into the trash, but I intercepted a number of things and then of course I had to answer the question, "Now what?!"

Any storage system is only as good as your ability to retrieve an item when you need it! I followed four guidelines:
1. I would use storage containers I already had.
2. With so many tiny things, I needed to be able to see them.
3. I decided to sort by color as the most likely way to find what I would need in future.
4. I must be able to easily add new items to the collection so that I could remain organized!

These canning jars have worked beautifully for me, pints in the front row, quarts in the back. In the end I eliminated the lids I had originally envisioned using, to remove one more step to getting at/putting away the collection. I can easily see if I'm running low on a color or need to stop collecting a particular color for awhile.

Hope this sparks an idea for conquering some of your storage/retrieval challenges. -Kathy

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Birthday Florets

Can't say enough about the Fabulous Florets set! Here's a classic black and white composition (the card base is black, hard to tell against the black background) "popped" with a single red flower. The simplicity is the strength of this design, as well as alternating between outline and solid images.

Watch for more samples using this set in upcoming posts! -Monique

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's a Wrap!

My youngest daughter just had a birthday, and my oldest created this gift presentation for her. I thought you deserved to see it!

The base is the carrier carton for a particular beverage (cool brand graphics remain visible on the other side). It's hand embellished with Sharpie, then four vinyl records have been adhered. These are decorated with SU! rub-ons. A couple of key tags concealing the hole in the center 45s mask a ring dangling there. Chocolate bars are adhered to the outer two discs, and jars of various items (two also featuring rub-on decor) are strategically placed. I love the way you can get just a little idea of what the gifts might be but full disclosure requires further investigation... There is also a fabric-covered bundle enhanced with a feathered hair clip and a couple of chicken feathers donated by this years' young hens (so okay, my daughter prefers non-traditional pets. Raise your hand if you're surprised?!).

The entire thing became the center piece for the dinner table, and it was such a fun and interactive way to present an assortment of little items while recycling. Maybe I'll get something like it in a couple of months?! -Kathy

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lawrence Stamp Club - July 2011

We continued with the "embellishments" theme at the Lawrence club, using these little gathered ribbon flowers and some knot stitches (like candlewicking, if you happen to remember that Colonial revival craft from the '80s!) with Baroque Motifs to replicate the look of the morning glories in my yard!

I also taught them the peeled flower in the last post so that I could issue the same challenge of creating a project to showcase the embellishment - can't wait to see what everyone comes up with! I'll be making a very special reward for those that meet the challenge... -Kathy

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Olathe Stamp Club - July 2011

Look what's blooming in Olathe, Kansas! (Carnations, chrysanthemums, dahlias...? Choose your color and change your flower!)

The gals voted this month to have me show them a variety of embellishments that could be used on cards, scrap book pages, or 3D projects, and these peeled paper beauties were a favorite out of the half dozen or so that we tried.

I left them with the challenge of designing the perfect project to go around the embellishment - now, how's that for a reversal of roles?! -Kathy

Friday, July 1, 2011

Stripz: Tear into it!

With Independence Day just around the corner, I'm posting another quick idea for using up those long, narrow scraps - tear 'em! Here's a quick representation of the flag on a 3x6" card. I've punched out large and small stars (lightly sponging the edges of the stars for a dimensional look) and thrown in some mylar sequins for a little bling. Miss getting the star punch? Check out the star die for the Big Shot on p.220 of the new Stampin' Up! catalog. It's got several sizes of stars just perfect for this project. That's it - super simple! Plenty of time left to enjoy the fireworks. -Kathy