Category Archives: How To…

Aquatint background

This is a really fun background to make with the advantage that there really is no right or wrong result – marvellous!

I am using:

  • SN Aquatints no’s 02, 15 and 56
  • Sheena Stamping card
  • Water

Step 1 – Start with your blank card.

I have cut this down to bigger than I need partly so that I can tape it down, but mostly so that I can be sure of the design going all the way to the edge without any finger prints sneaking in.


Step 2 – Spritz!

Lightly spritz the card with water. This means that you will already have a movable base layer and is also another reason for taping the card as this will reduce the curve in the card (once wetted) while you are working on it.

Step 3 – Swirl

Use a paintbrush to start adding the colours to your card. They can be in any order and layered as many times as you need. The main aim here is to make sure that you end up without any hard edges.

Step 4 – Spritz again!

Another very light layer, this is to keep the tints mobile for step 5

Step 5 – Smoodge

Okay, so not technically  a real word, but I don’t care about that! lift the edges of your craft mat (I use a glass mat which stays rigid) and tilt the card. The tints will slowly run into each other creating some nice patterns and swirly bits.

Step 6 – Spritz again!

No really – assuming you are happy with the smoodge you can either add in more tints and re-smoodge, or just add more tint where you want the colour a bit stronger; as long as you have blended the edges another smoodge is optional. This final spritz is to add the dot texture. For this particular background I have not gone in with kitchen roll to lift the colour, I have just spritzed and then left it alone, which gives you a lighter version of whichever colour you have laid down producing a nice mottled effect.image

At this point you can either leave it to dry naturally or cheat with a heat gun. I cheated for this one because it is for a specific card and I wanted to get cracking with the rest of it 😉

This tutorial was specifically for the background so I will leave it here; I may talk about what I did next in another post.



Stamping, because I like it…

I have a lot of stamps and a couple of days ago I had a mass re-sort of specifically my rubber stamps and while I was doing so I also did some, for want of a better word, stamp maintennance.

Quite a lot of my stamps are the vulcanised (grey) rubber stamps that do not come with a method of sticking them to a block. There are three methods that I regularly use to attach them to my rocker blocks which is what I am going to chat about now.

1.) Glue – cheap simple and effective. Personally I use Bostick, but you are looking for any general glue stick such as a Pritt stick. The not-so-great aspect with using a glue stick is that it makes your blocks sticky and you also run the risk of making the stamp lie unevenly on the block if you have a glue build-up. The other main disadvantage is that you have to reapply the glue every time.

2.) Stick and Spray – Sourced by Crafers Companion, this is a temporary and repositionable adhesive, so you spray the back of the stamp, leave it for about 30 seconds and then you can attach it to a block. The advantage of this method is that it doesn’t leave a residue on the block and it stays sticky for several applictions. The disadvantage is that it will stick to other stamps (though not so much that you cant just peel them apart) and stopping to spray is annoying in that it kind of goes everywhere. However I have just gone through and sprayed all of mine that dont have method three, but rather than leaving them loose I have stuck them all to acetate sheets both to aid filing and organisation but also so that they are hopefully ready to transfer to a block without further fuss – I may post an update about this later when I have some idea of how many times I can move the stamp.

3.) Adhesive foam – I am not sure what the proper name for this is and I can’t be bothered to look it up (sloppy, I know) but this is a foam backing that you attach to the back of your stamp turning it into a ‘Cling’ rubber stamp. This does have advantages in that your stamp will now cling without any further ado, however this will also bulk out your stamps a lot so storage will become a greater issue. As a side note to anyone who wants to try this method, there are several opinions about the best way to actually attach the foam in terms of whether to cut the stamp first etc. So, my experience is that if you do not cut the stamp out first you will potentially waste quite a lot of the foam in the dead spaces, however I would also recommend that if you are cutting them out first, leave a large enough gap (where possible) to cut around again after you have attached the foam. The reason for this is that if the area of your foam is greater than the area of your stamp, the edges of your stamp will pick up your ink and become an unwanted stamp line in an unfortunate place. Fortunately vulcanised rubber can be cut very close to the image without damaging your stamp; just be aware when you are cutting that the raised stamp lines can get caught and damaged by scissor blades if you are using the deepest part of the blades to make your cuts. When you are cutting the stamp and the foam together, keep the edge as clean and straight as you can; ideally with no foam or rubber peeping out from behind or in front – if you have a professionally cling mounted stamp use it as a model, the Heartfelt Creations stamps are particulary good for this as you can clearly see where the rubber ends and the foam begins.

I generally use foam for images I use a lot and then I have two sets of blocks; one set that I use with glued stamps and one set that I use with the clean methods. The reason for this is that the cling stamps and stick and spray will not stick to a glue residue, neither will acryllic stamps.

That is all!

Thank you for listening!



I had a mini-break over Easter and since I couldn’t take my craft corner with me, I took a little bit of colouring instead 🙂

Bebunni with Rose

After I came home, I had three coloured images that I then wanted to work with, so I thought I would post this one because of the ‘ear out of frame’ effect that I have used.

So, I have used a circle die to cut out the image; to have the ears poking out, you need to place the die over your image in the position you would like it to be in. Then at the point where the image is outside of the die, make a couple of reference pencil marks to either side of the overhang. I like to make my marks on the outside of the die, because then they will disappear when I run it through my die-cutting machine, you can also mark the inside, but you will then have to rub out the pencil marks as the die will cut just outside of them.

Snip along outline of your image (as if you intended to cut the whole thing out by hand) to just beyond the pencil marks (remember, I marked the outside of the die, which means the cut will be just inside where I have marked). Now slide your die into position, with the area you have snipped resting on top of your die. Run it through your machine as normal and hopefully, you will have cut all around your image with the bit you snipped cheekily poking out of the side 🙂

Special Effects

On my last project, I used a couple of special effect embellishments which do not necessarily photograph well on the main picture, so I am adding them in here in close up so that you can see how they look.

Ranger Crackle Accents

This is in some respects, a difficult one to apply, purely because when you first put it on, it looks like a smooth glossy finish and you may be forgiven for thinking you picked up the wrong bottle. The crackles develop as it dries, in this particular example I have stamped the image with Versafine, then distressed the clock face a little bit.

As it comes out of the bottle, the crackle accent behaves like glue, so you apply it directly to where you want it and the surface has enough tension to hold itself in place. Take your time and make sure that each ‘line’ of goop has connected to the line before it so that you don’t have any gaps.

Luminarte Twinkling H20’s

Even on close-up this is still difficult for the camera to pick-up, but essentially the effect is glass in sunlight; I also used this on the Chicks valentines card on both the boat and the water again to show sunlight shimmering against the various textures. It’s a very subtle watercolour, but really effective as in general, although you add it to the surface of your work, the mica embeds into your colouring medium as it dries so unlike glitters, it doesn’t look like its sitting on top of the image but instead produces a nice depth of twinkle.

April Challenge 2

I am determined to do better this month with the challenge than I did last Month, so I have started early and created a pop-up box. There are a variety of free templates online for this type of box, however it is also one of the simplest to create your own template for.


There are four sides to a box, so you need to have four sections which are equal in width, with enough left to the side to create a tab to fix them together. You will also need two small strips of card to go inside the box to support your decorations. These should be the same width as one of your sections + x1 cm at either end to use as tabs.

e.g. if your section width is 5cm, then your strip of card will need to be 7cm

The strips then need to be scored x1cm in at either end. One end should be a mountain fold and the other should be a valley fold – this will make the whole of the strip a Z shape. The Z shape will support better than a U shape and will also allow you to fold the box flat more easily.

Still assuming a section width of 5cm, the total width of your template will be 20cm + 1cm (tab). The height of your box will then be split into a top section and a bottom section, the top section can either be equal to or smaller than the bottom section, but if you make the top section bigger than the bottom section it is liable to overbalance.

Score along the section edges; so in my example, at 5cm, 10cm, 15 cm and 20cm. This should leave you with your 1cm tab side on the end. Decide where your dividing line will be between your top and middle sections then score along it – if you want your back section to stand up like mine does then leave the first section un-scored, so instead of scoring along from 0cm-21cm, score from 5cm to 21cm. Now cut down the score lines that are on the TOP section of your box down as far as your dividing score line, which means that you should be making 4 cuts to roughly halfway down your card.

Then cut a slanted line on your tab side to remove the 1cm top section, leaving you with a 1cm tab on the bottom section only.

Fold in all of your bottom section score lines to create your box shape; if you have a bone folder then use it to make your creases sharp, then fold out all of the top sections to create the ‘flower’. Stick the bottom section into shape using the tab, then stick in your Z strips. Personally I found it easier to stick one side of my Z strips into place before sticking the tab to close the box, but this is my preference.

In terms of decorating your box, it is again personal preference as to which stage you add your decorations; I attached all of the backing papers before closing the box, but stuck the embellishments on afterwards. The ‘pop-up’ decorations are all on construction weight acetate, don’t use the flimsy stuff because your embellishments will be too heavy! This can also be done before closing the box, but I would recommend checking that everything pokes out without getting caught on the sides before the glue dries…

Sheena’s Faux Leather Technique

This is a technique I have wanted to try for a while now but have not had the relevant supplies to do it. The ‘How To’ by Sheena herself is available on YouTube; in one of the Crafters Companion Magazines and most recently on Sheena’s’ messy DVD.

Here, I was asked to cover a diary to make it look pretty and to somehow involve cats…

Kit List:

  • Kraft Card
  • Distress Inks (I have used ‘Vintage Photo’; ‘Chipped Sapphire’ and ‘Aged Mahogany’).
  • Glycerin/water solution in a spritzer; I used about 9:1 ratio, for people who have not heard of this technique before, glyercin can be cheaply bought at a pharmacists/chemists
  • Embossing folder (I used the embossilicious A4 sunflowers)
  • Card
  • P.C. & Printer
  • Black pen
  • Adhesive pearls
  • Tape/glue
  • Transparent sealant (I have pebeo brilliant gloss gel, apparently Crafters Companion spray and shine also works)

The Method:

1. Start off with x2 pieces of Kraft card and your glycerin solution

I use a messy craft mat as my work surface, however if you do not have one of these then a glass mat will also work.

2. Lightly spritz the first side of your card with the glycerin then rub it into the card. 8-12 spritzes is enough to start with and it doesn’t matter which side of the card you start with as you will be doing this on both sides and so can decide later which way is ‘up’

3. Turn the card over and repeat on the other side

4. Continue to flip and repeat with the card, spritzing as necessary; as you are doing so make sure that you are really pushing into the card and lightly bending it in order to break the surface tension. As you do this, you will notice that the card begins to feel ‘plump’- this is a good sign, it means that the solution is being absorbed into the card rather than bouncing off of the surface

5. The card will reach the point where you can safely scrunch it up into a tight ball without any tears or hard edges

6. When you are happy with the texture of your card, you are now ready to emboss

7. Emboss the flexible card, ensuring that the card is no more than damp when you run it through your embosser

This is also the point at which you should choose which way up you want your card, I based my choice on which side I liked most after the embossing, which is this case is actually the deboss side because I liked how it looked as though it had been pressed into the leather. On a side note, next time I am going to try inking the embossing folder as well, so I may post that at a later date.

8. Use distress inks in whatever colours you like then coat it with the sealant. This will protect it from damage and give it an extra shine.
9. Attach the front panel, giving your self enough extra around the edges to book-bind

When I attached mine, I lined up the left-hand edge with the crease on the front of the diary which allows the front cover to open rather than sticking my card over it; this was partly because on this size book I was going to have a join line anyway, however if I were doing a smaller book I would probably do the whole thing in piece of card and run an emboss line down where the crease to allow for the opening and closing of the book. Remember, the whole point of this technique is to make the card flexible so you shouldn’t(!) have any issues.

For what I have termed the book-bind edges, this is just the card folded over the edges of the diary to give them a nice finish rather than have the card stop at the edges of the diary and possibly not line up correctly…. For some people the way to do this will be to measure (weirdchild) personally I just stuck it down and then trimmed off the edges with a ruler and craft knife, not forgetting the diagonal trim which makes the corners nice and tidy.

The other reason for this particular picture is to show an additional use for the sapphire; here I am using it to support the weight of the diary so that the cover I am working on lays flat against my cutting mat. Obviously, you can use anything that can take the weight without slipping 😉

In Picture 10 you can see the thin black line of the original diary to the left hand side as discussed in attaching the front cover. Pictures 10 and 11 also show that when I did the back cover, I left a flap. This was one of those moments when you are crafting merrily away and you think “hold on, I can do something extra cool with this”so instead of cutting off the excess on the back panel I have left it in place as a flap to cover the open right-hand edge of the diary and tuck in under the front cover (ref pic 12). Please also notice that to do this I have not made the diagonal cut into the flap that I would have made if I were folding it in to stick down, although I have still made that cut on the top and bottom edges of the back panel. The size of the flap does not need to be a specific measurement as such; it just needs to be enough to wrap over however many pages there are and rest reasonably securely inside the front cover.

13. Decorate the front as you see fit, I have used some cat images which I have printed out with some text from my computer. I have also then coloured over the cats with a black pen to make it a deeper black. I have then distressed the edges of the card and layered them onto some distressed kraft card cut-offs (non treated card) using the same distress inks that I used on the treated kraft card. This ensures a nice blend of the colours. I have then added some pearls and voila!

I did have various ideas about also attaching ribbon/elastic to give the diary a closing mechanism; but I haven’t decided either way yet…

I hope you have the opportunity to try this, its fun to do and really effective 🙂

13. Decorate the front as required

Birthday Card for Him

Not strictly in-line with this months’ aims however I needed to make a card for a birthday in this month so I have allowed myself some leniency 🙂

Normally, I do not post cards before they are safely with the recipient however I am confident that in this case the future owner of this card will not see it in advance so I think I am safe!

I wanted to show this one because I want to talk about using a P.C. for a little bit more than just your basic printing.


The main topper image on here is from a HunkyDory ‘little book of’. In order to integrate it into the card, I have scanned the topper into my computer and taken it in to ‘My Craft Studio’ (you can also use Serif). Now, I need to mention copywright; it is a breach of copywright if you scan in a topper like this and then mass produce it; however for single use on a card on which you are also using the actual purchased product its ok… probably…

So the main background is from ‘My Craft Studio’ as is the tag and football; I have also added eyelets and a ‘Happy Birthday’ Peel off.

The Computer Stuff

There are several reasons why I have scanned the image in; the first is that I find it helpful when generating a computer background to have the topper that is going to go on top of it in place for reference. If you are doing this then do check that your reference scan has maintained dimensional integrity before you start working with it (so if your actual topper is 5×3, make sure that it is still 5×3 in your graphics program)

The second reason for this particular image was that I didn’t want a hard line between the topper and the background. I have therefore used the program to fade in the edges around the topper giving it a much softer transition.

I have then used what is called the ‘lasso’ tool in MCS and the ‘cutout studio’ in Serif to isolate the beer can that is part of the topper. after that I have used dear old copy and paste to give myself a group of cans that will then tie the main image in with the background – I have also added drop shadows to the cans to give them depth (again, both programs mentioned here will do this).

At this point, I would normally then remove the reference topper in order to print; not so here. The advantage of leaving this one in is that I keep my nice soft transition to the topper and I can now decoupage the actual topper over the top of my printed image.

For this one, I have only done one level of decoupage, but as three separate elements; the two word banners and the armchair with occupant. The print quality of Hunkydory is substantially better than what I can achieve which means that as well as the paper quality itself adding texture, the colours are stronger on the decoupage level than on the basic print level which adds another layer of interest to the card as a whole. This along with the faded-out edges of the print layer also means that the armchair itself gives the impression of crossing out into the background which again supports the card as a complete image rather than as separate sections that happen to be on the same base card.

And now its done 🙂