Category Archives: side projects

New Year’s Craft … Resolutions?



As I think I mentioned in my last blog post, I haven’t been doing much papercrafting in a long time.  Life circumstances limited my free time, and also I was concentrating on my creative writing for a while.  But now with the new year, I want to get back to crafting.  I feel the lack when I don’t do it.  It is nourishing to me.

So there are a few things I’d like to do in the new year — not really resolutions, per se, but activities to set myself up for more crafting in 2017:

  1. Weed my magazines: “weeding” is what we call it in library science when we remove unused and beat-up books from the collection, and that is what I’d like to do with my papercrafting magazines.  Go through them, and discard (recycle) the ones I don’t want or no longer need.  Flip through each one and remove any projects I do like, keep them in a binder, and recycle the parts I don’t need.  I also have many catalogues from various companies that are obsolete, and several jewelry-making magazines that I no longer use.  I have a stack of unread magazines on my dining room table and it is time to make room for them.
  2. Pre-cut some word dies: I like the look of die-cutting, but I really don’t enjoy the act of die-cutting.  I hate wrestling my brute of a Big Kick around, and my electronic cutter, an eBosser, has issues of its own.  So I think it would be productive to just buckle down one evening, watch some TV, and mass-cut some dies for future use.  Especially word dies, which I can easily cut using my Spellbinders Sapphire, which is a small-format die cutting machine.  It’s cutting surface is only 2.75 inches, so it’s tiny, easy to carry, and perfect for cutting word dies and other small dies like banners and small images.
  3. Plotting out dates for card mailing:  If I have any actual craft New Year’s Resolution, it is to actually send more of the cards that I make.  I often forget people’s birthdays and other important events. So, I copied some planning pages from a card-making book I checked out from the library, and I should spend some time going through my address book and the calendar, and noting down birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates for card-sending.  Then I will have one place to glance at for my card mailing info, and I’ll be able to use it indefinitely.
  4. De-stash and send RAKs:  That’s a “random act of kindness.”  A couple of the papercrafting groups I belong to on Facebook have lists of people who would like to swap stash or receive RAK packages from other members because they want to replenish their stash, usually for very good reasons — one woman’s house burned down, for example.  So, I can help these people.  I have a fair amount of stash I would like to clear out: some things I bought duplicates of by accident, or I used them and decided I didn’t like them (but someone else might), or I just don’t use them anymore.  After over ten years of crafting, I have so much stash, I can’t always find what I want when I want it any more.  Time to thin some of it out.
  5. Prepare a package for the Matthew 25 charity: I heard about this program where you can send your used prescription pill bottles to be donated to Africa, where pill bottles are very hard to get.  Just having a bottle helps people, who often travel great distances to visit a clinic, to transport their medicine safely, and its easier to take it at home if it’s in a safe, single place.  Hard to believe something so simple can make such a difference in someone else’s life.  So, I’ve been collecting these pill bottles for a while — the husband and I both take regular maintenance prescriptions, so we have a lot of these bottles coming in regularly.  But my cat Isis has found this stash, and thinks these pill bottles make excellent toys (and they do).  She has dragged them out of the box multiple times and scattered them all around my office. Time to pack them up and send them on their way.
  6. Cut down my 12×12 paper?   I’m not sure about this last one.  I have so many scrapbook paper stacks that they won’t all fit in my shelves anymore.  But I do not do traditional scrapbooking.  I mostly do cardmaking.  I have no real need of 12×12 paper.  I bought most of them before I realized 6×6 pads were available.  If I were to cut them down into 6×6 squares, they would be possibly easier to store, and more useful to me.  But it’s a lot of work and I’m not sure I should undertake it.  What do you think?  Has anyone done this? How did it turn out?

I’ll keep you advised on how these projects turn out.

Happy Card


I want to continue my patterned paper series, but I still can’t find that Basic Grey pad!  And now I can’t find my Gelatos either!  I have that whole gift set in the box, how did that go astray? I really need to clean this place up.  I have been picking at it a little here and there, but haven’t felt ready to really tackle it head-on yet.

But I also have the “Desiging with Gelatos” set, which I got to try them out before getting the full set.  And I do know where that is.  So, with them, I made this card:


I got the idea for this card from this video by Laurel Beard: “Gelatos and Glass Bead Glitter Gel.”  I’ve wanted to use the Faber-Castell Glass Bead Glitter Gel ever since it first came out, and I finally bought some when I found it at Michaels.  I was able to hold off when I had to order it online, but not when it was right in front of my face.  And I really loved Laurel’s technique when I saw her video.  I have a magpie’s obsession with anything shiny or sparkly.

The panel is made by coloring watercolor paper with Gelatos — sorry I don’t remember the colors — and then covering it with the glass bead gel.  (It isn’t really a gel, though, it’s thinner and opaque white — it’s basically white craft glue with teeny clear glass microbeads in it.)  I left it to dry overnight — it was pretty wet once applied — and it came out so wonderfuly sparkly!  And because it’s a glue or a gel, the sparkle won’t come off.

Once it was thoroughly dry, and I flattened it under a stack of books for a while, I mounted it on a square pink card base.  The resist-varnished chipboard butterflies are from Ditto/Studio G, and I colored them with ink sprays I have.  I used chipboard pieces because I didn’t feel like messing around with inlaid die-cuts at the time, as in the video.  That technique can look amazing, but it can be very time-consuming.

I will put a sentiment inside.  It is bright and cheerful and I think I will send it to my mom.

So the glitter gel and the chipboard are NBUS, but I have used the Gelatos plenty in the past.  They are really great, so colorful, so versatile, so easy to work with.

Side Project


I made a card for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary.  Yay Mom and Dad!  We had a party.  We’re not really a party family (all terribly introverted) but not many people make it to their fiftieth anniversary, so we made an effort.

Here’s the card:


The paper and the banner is from the Club SEI June Card Kit.  I thought a card kit subs might be a good way to feed my need for new stash without sending hundreds of dollars when I go an a haul binge.  We’ll see.  I had the Studio Calico sub for a while, which came with a clear stamp set every month, which was nice, but I stopped it after a while, because Studio Calico I decided, just isn’t really my style.  Simon Says Stamp also produces a monthly card kit.

The numbers are American Crafts DIY Thickers.  They have adhesive tops that you can cover with glitter, as I did here, or microbeads or flock or what have you.

It’s simple, but I think it hangs together well.  Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Tile Necklace 2


Here is another attempt at a tile necklace from that kit I bought:




I wish the picture would do it justice, but it’s hard to photograph something so small.  Here’s another shot with more detail, but the color is a little off.  It’s actually a bright green that doesn’t quite come across.




To make this, I heat embossed several layers of Ranger Antiquities “Verdigris” embossing powder over the tile, which gives the speckled green effect.  I then stamped the tile in Staz-On with a stamp from the Peaceful Medallions set by Chaitali Narla from Verve Stamps.  I added a layer of Glossy Accents for shine and protection, and a green rhinestone.  The bail and the cord come from the kit.

This is my second attempt. I botched the first one by adding too many layers of embossing powder and overheating it until it was a lumpy mess.  Bah.  So I eased up on this one.

I still have several of these tiles to play with, and I might try Copic coloring next. Thanks for reading!



Side Project: Embossing Powder Comparison


It’s ironic. Twice in the last month I’ve held off on working on a post until Friday, when I am off from work, and can take some pictures of my projects in daylight, which is supposed to be the best light.  Both times, it rained all Friday long, and was almost as dark at points as it is when I come home from work.

Oh well. On to the project.

I was so annoyed by my embossing failure on this card that, even though I’m supposed to be on a buying moratorium, I went online and ordered a variety of different embossing powders, to see how they worked.  Maybe the Stampendous powder I buy at Michaels just isn’t very good.  I bought a couple different brands in the colors I use most — black, white, clear and gold.

Black — Tsukineko Imagine and Ranger

White — Zing Opaque White and Wow! White Pearl

Clear — Judikins Clear Detail and Hero Arts Ultra Fine Detail

Gold — Zing and Hero Arts




I compared them as well to what I already had, which was Stampendous Clear, Midnight Black, Detail Gold, and Martha Stewart Antique Gold. (I think that’s what it’s called, it’s been a while since I bought it. Maybe Florentine Gold, I don’t remember and it doesn’t say on the bottle.)

I cut up some scrap cardstock to try them out, and chose two stamps — a Recollections starfish, for a solid image, and Hero Arts’ Nightflower, for a fine line image.

I tried to follow good technique, as well, to do the best job with each powder — I dusted each page with my Embossing Buddy to minimize static cling:




and I used Versamark ink for each sample, which is good embossing ink, so each powder would have a good base to cling to.



For the pictures I took, I just used the Autocorrect feature of my photo software, so each image would be treated the same  and not excessively manipulated.


Black Powder:


Tsukineko Imagine Black



This powder is OK, I think.  I don’t think the coverage on the starfish is great — it’s pretty, hm, bubbly, or rumpled.  But the detail on the Nightflower image is good.


Ranger Black Super Fine




The coverage and the detail are good on this one, better than the Tsukineko I think, but what I don’t like  is how much of the stray powder scattered around and stained the cardstock away from the image, as you can see between the starfish and the flower.  Even when I used the Embossing Buddy.  I supposed you can attribute that to user error, but I was as careful with this sample as I was with the rest, and even when I blew the stray powder away, it still stained the paper.  Very annoying.


Stampendous Midnight Black



This is the powder whose shoddy results inspired me to conduct this experiment.   And rightly so — the results here are genuinely bad.  Both images are only partially embossed — the rest of the image is only a blurry, flat black line where the powder either sunk into the paper, or blew away upon application of the heat gun, leaving only enough embossing to color the paper.  You can see it better in this close-up of the flower:



The light hits the embossed parts, and the rest — which is most of the image — is flat and dull.

You can also see the very uneven coverage on the starfish as well:


No wonder I have been getting such bad results!


White Powder

Zing Opaque Finish White

This powder is unusual in that it is very coarse, far coarser that the other powders we are working with here:



 Not coarse enough to be called UTEE though. I wonder how it will affect the results.




I think it looks good.  Coverage on the starfish is good, it’s bright and opaque.  But the detail on the lines of the Nightflower is also good. I like it.  No stray powder elsewhere on the cardstock.

Here’s a close-up:



Wow White Pearl Regular




This was a surprise.  Although it’s called “White Pearl,” and the powder looks white in the jar, when embossed, it definitely comes out silver, as you can see.  Didn’t expect that.  It’s interesting, but it sure ain’t white. So much for that.


Clear Powder

On these samples I have sponged some ink over the embossed images, so you can see them better.

Judikins Clear Detail



(Sorry, this was the first sample I made and my starfish stamp was dirty.)

All in all I think this is pretty good, good coverage on the star and good detail on the flower.  No complaints.


Hero Arts Ultra Fine Clear




Good coverage on the starfish, but for an “ultra fine” powder, I think the lines on the flower look a little burry.  I think I like the Judikins better.





 This has both better coverage and better detail than the Stampendous black powder which was so unsatisfactory above. I’m surprised.  I like it better than the Hero Arts, even. Hm.

Here’s a close-up.  It is also shinier than the Hero Arts powder.




Gold Powder

Zing Metallic Gold




I quite like how bright, shiny, and golden this powder looks.  But I am disappointed in the lack — indeed the opposite  — of detail on the flower.  Many of the lines are blurred completely together.

You can see this better in close-up, particularly in the center and bottom right:




Hero Arts




This gold embossing powder has a soft, almost frosted finish and color that I quite like.  It is not as brassy as the Zing.  But again, I am disappointed in the lack of detail on the Nightflower.


Stampendous Detail Gold




This is not good.  it is an ugly, yellowish color, not shiny, and for a “detail” powder, it is very blurry and pebbled both on the stafish and the flower. Very displeased.



Martha Stewart




I am quite pleased by the detail offered by this powder. Look how clear the lines on the Nightflower are. But comparing it to some of the others, I don’t quite like the brassy, yellowish color.  Not that shiny, but an unpleasant yellow.  Maybe I should try mixing this and the Zing powder together and see what I get.

Here is a close-up, and you can see both how finely detailed it is, and the almost jaundiced yellow color.





So, brand to brand, the Stampendous did not come off well, with two of the three Stampendous powders I have performing poorly.  The Hero Arts did not come off as well as I expected from such a premium brand, lacking detail on both samples — although I do like the unusual soft color of the gold powder.  Of the brands in which I have more than one sample, I think I like the Zing best overall, both samples having good coverage and bright color.

The WOW White Pearl powder also has good coverage and detail, but the color is hardly as advertised, so I might be leery of buying any other WOW powders.  The Ranger and Tsukineko are OK.

Colorwise, for the gold, I don’t really have a favorite.  I like the Zing for its shininess, the Hero Arts for its unusual color, and the Martha Stewart for its detail.  I will just have to be careful and use them each for different things.

For white, it would have to be the Zing, as the WOW powder is — not white.  I do think the Zing is quite bright and white.

For the clear, I like the Judikins best.  The Stampendous clear performed better than the other Stampendous colors, but I won’t be running out to buy any more.

For the black, I wasn’t thrilled with any of them. But if I had to pick one, it would be the Ranger, although I am displeased with how much stray powder ended upon the sample. One would just have to be extra, extra careful with it.  Black embossing is just problematical.

I notice, also, that whether a powder is “fine detail” or not doesn’t actually seem to represent how well it will perform on that front.

The upshot is, I threw out the Stampendous powders.  They only cost me a few bucks, I’ve had them forever, and they are noticeably inferior to the other brands.  Why keep them around when I have better options?

I hope this little experiment helps some people.  I know I learned a lot.  Heat embossing is so cool and fun, we always want to do it, but we see here that the results you get can vary widely.  And even a small jar of powder lasts for a long time.  It’s worth it to experiment a little to find a powder you are happy with, I think.  I hope I have given you some guidance on that front.

UPDATE DECEMBER 2015:  Since writing this post, I no longer heat-emboss with black powder at all.  It just doesn’t give good results, and isn’t worth the trouble.  When I want black embossing now, I stamp with black pigment ink and emboss with clear powder.   The ink I use to stamp is VersaFine Onyx Black — an oil-based pigment ink that stamps really dark black and is very crisp and detailed, good for sentiments. Embossing with clear powder means you don’t have to worry about stray black specks getting embossed accidentally onto your project either.  Just a much better way to do it.  I recommend it.