Monday, February 15, 2016

Altering Printed Photos

It's the final day of Winter Camp 2016 over at Scrappin' Peeps.  What a fun week(+) of activities it's been!

Image altering is pretty prevalent in this day and age of Photoshop and other editing software, but you can also alter photos after they've been printed.  Today I'm going to show you one way to do that, by scratching some of the emulsion off the print.

Photographic emulsion is the coating on the photo paper that actually creates your image when the photo is processed.  When dry, it is fairly hard and won't rub off or scratch easily.  When wet and soft, however, it can be damaged.  We are going to take advantage of this property.

What you'll need:                                                                  

  1. a shallow tray of warm water (I use an old food container lid)
  2. a printed photo (professional and home printed both work)
  3. some scratching tools (I used a paper piercer, some tweezers, and a dry embossing tool.)
  4. paper towels

Step 1.  Immerse your photo in the warm water for 30-60 seconds.  It may start to curl up and expose parts of the photo to air.  Just gently push it back down.  Don't hold it under water, or the part under your finger may not get enough exposure to the water to soften, or you may accidentally scratch an area you don't want scratched.

Step 2.  Remove the photo, shaking excess water off, and lay face up on a paper towel.  (Do not dry off the front of the photo.  Any water remaining on the surface will help the emulsion stay softer longer.)

Step 3.  Choose a tool and begin "drawing" on the surface of the photo, using enough pressure to remove the emulsion layer but not enough to go right through the backing paper.  Note: the sharper your tool, the easier it will be to scratch off the emulsion.  If the emulsion still feels kind of hard and you're having difficulty removing it, soak the photo for another 30 seconds and try again.  Also, if you've been working for a long period of time, you may need to stop and resoak periodically because the emulsion will harden as it dries.  Different tools will produce different results, mainly in the width of the line you are able to scratch.  My paper piercer can make a very fine line, while scraping the end of my tweezers across the paper makes a wider line.

dry embossing tool
paper piercer


Step 4.  Gently wipe the emulsion debris off the photo with a paper towel.  If it dries onto the photo, it will be hard to remove without damaging your image.

Step 5.  Set the photo aside to dry.

Now that you know the basics, you can start experimenting.  Try different tools for scratching, like pens, Silhouette or Cricut tools, even sandpaper.  I keep an art journal just for trying out new techniques.  Sometimes I love the results, sometimes, not, but I always learn something.  Here are some examples from my journal of when I played around with this technique in the past:

This is a picture of my kids on one of those airplane amusement park rides.  I scratched away at the background to make it look like the plane was flying on it's own, while still leaving some of the background color showing.  The smaller picture is a close up.

Here I did the same thing, but then colored over it with watercolor pencils.
This one is my favorite.  It's my boys playing on the beach when we went to visit Grandma.  The sandcastle, seashells, sun, and seagulls were all scratched in.  Then I used a "Good Times" rub-on in the corner and matted it on summery patterned paper.

Friday, February 12, 2016

One Ink, Two Ink, Red Ink, Blue Ink – A Guide to Ink Pads

Today at Scrappin' Peeps Winter Camp, I'm all about the inks!

When I first started out the only ink pad I knew about was the black felt one in my dad’s office that he used to stamp the return address on his business envelopes.  Little did I know how complicated the world of ink could be, and it’s only gotten more so as the years go on.  (For this reason, I’m going to focus only on ink pads today, and save spray inks, stains, reinkers, India ink, alcohol ink, etc. for another day.)  Here is a little tutorial on what the different kinds of ink pads are, and what are the best options for the different projects you might work on.

There are two basic kinds of ink: dye and pigment.  Let’s compare and contrast, shall we?

Dye Ink                                                             Pigment Ink
Translucent                                                        opaque
Dries quickly on matte paper                            dries slower on matte paper (good for heat embossing)
Dries fairly quickly on slick surfaces               may need to be heat set in order to dry on slick surfaces
Soaks into paper                                                sits on top of paper
Usually has a felt or linen pad                           usually has a foam pad
Most will fade over time                                    much more colorfast
Best on lighter backgrounds                               works well for both light and dark backgrounds

In the Dye Ink family you will find different subsets that work well for different applications:

1.       Waterbased dye inks – these are one of the most common inks available and the easiest to find.  They can be used for stamping as long you don’t plan on coloring the image with another water-based ink like markers.  Colored pencils work great, though.  These are not the best choice for scrapbooking because they usually fade over time.

2.       Waterproof dye inks – these can be used for coloring with markers and other water-based colorants without smearing.  Many people like to use either Ranger’s Archival Ink or Tsukineko’s Memento Ink to stamp images they plan to color with markers, especially alcohol markers like Copic and Spectrum Noir.  These inks can be more fade resistant than the regular dye inks – check the label to be sure.  These may need to be cleaned with a permanent/solvent ink cleaner rather than just water.

3.       Distress Inks – these inks have special properties that keep them wet longer than most dye inks, so you can blend them and use them for heat embossing.  The color also floats when sprayed with water, so you can create interesting effects.  These are great for inking the edges of paper with a makeup sponge or blending tool since they don’t dry as fast and you can get a better blended look with them.  I personally don’t like them for stamping because the image looks mottled, like the ink didn’t evenly cover the stamp.  That might be a look you’re going for though, if you’re doing distressed or shabby chic looks.  These are fade resistant, so more scrapbooking friendly.

This example of stamping done with Whispers (a waterproof dye ink) vs. Distress Inks shows the mottling Distress Inks give.

Here are a few other kinds of inks you might come across:

Chalk ink – these are usually a type of pigment ink that dries with a chalky, matte finish.  These are nice for inking directly on canvas and other textured surfaces.

Solvent Inks – (Staz-On)  these are non-water based and are usually waterproof, fade proof, and permanent.  They work great on non-porous surfaces such as glass, metal, and plastic.  DO NOT use solvent inks with alcohol markers (Copic, Spectrum Noir, etc.).  The alcohol will dissolve the solvent and may ruin your marker, as well as smear the image.

Hybrid Inks – these combine properties of both dye and pigment inks, so they fall somewhere in the middle of the transparent to opaque range.  They dry quickly, like a dye ink, but can be used on many surfaces like a pigment ink.  My Favorite Things is one manufacturer that makes hybrid inks.  I haven’t tried them out myself yet, but I hear from a lot of stampers that they love them.

Specialty Inks – watermark, resist, and embossing inks fall into this category.  Some, like the Ranger Inkssentials Watermark Resist, do all three jobs.  It leaves a watermark impression on dark papers, can be used as a resist for waterbased inks, and dries slowly and has a stickiness that make it great for heat embossing.

And now, a quick-reference guide to what ink to use for certain projects:

·         Stamping sentiments or images that won’t be colored – pretty much any ink can be used for this.  For dark backgrounds use a pigment ink.

·         Stamping for coloring – Any ink will work for colored pencils, but for markers choose a waterproof dye ink.  Do NOT use solvent ink (like Staz-On) with alcohol markers.

·         Edging papers and photos for scrapbooking – choose fade resistant inks like waterproof dye inks, Distress Inks, or pigment inks.  Check the label if you’re not sure.

·         Backgrounds – Distress Inks are great for making backgrounds since they blend well together and react to water in a unique way.  Check out some Tim Holtz videos on YouTube to see how versatile these inks can be.

·         Heat Embossing – There are specialty embossing inks that work great for this.  They dry clear to show off your embossing powder’s true color.  Pigment and Distress Inks also work well for this, and you can create some cool effects by using a colored ink under your colored powder, or colored ink with a clear embossing powder for a varnish effect.

·         Non-porous surfaces (glossy paper, glass, metal, etc.) – solvent inks work best on these, but some pigments and waterproof inks can also be used if you heat set them with a heat gun or blow dryer.

·         Kids’ crafts – any ink pad that says WASHABLE on it!  ;)

* Note: Some of this info comes from my own use of different inks, but much of it was gleaned from the internet on sites like and

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Mardi Gras Color Challenge

It’s Winter Camp time over on Scrappin’ Peeps, and today I’m hosting a Mardi Gras inspired color challenge.  According to (“the official New Orleans travel site”) the colors of Mardi Gras were chosen in 1872 and each given a symbolic meaning: green for faith, gold for power, and purple for justice.

For my LO I chose to forego the traditional deep purple and green, opting instead for a lime green and a lighter, bluer purple.  I pulled some old K & Company collections out of my stash and found this nautical paper that reminded me of a trip we took to an island off the coast of Maine.  Since the island was somewhat rustic and natural, I wanted a bit of a worn look, so I distressed the edges with a Prima distressing tool, crumpled the paper to wrinkle it up, and then instead of inking the edges, I used some Inka Gold Metallic Rub to add shimmer.  I also lightly rubbed it over the top of the page to add distressing and bring out the wrinkles more.

To make my photos stand out, I edged each one with Picket Fence Distress Stain and then inked the edges in black.  From there I simply added a K & Company border and ephemera, a wood veneer that I also colored with the Metallic Rub, and a bit of journaling in purple ink to complete the look.  You could easily substitute metallic acrylic paint for the Inka Gold rub.

Materials Used: paper (K & Company Happy Trails and Que Sera Sera), embellishments (K & Company Que Sera Sera, wood veneer by Studio Calico), adhesive (ATG, Scotch Vellum tape, Forever in Time foam dots, Art Glitter), inks and rubs (Distress Stain in Picket Fence, Ranger Archival Ink in Black, and Inka Gold Metallic Rub in Gold), pen (Bic)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Hello Awesome

The Wednesday Challenge at the Simon Says Stamp Challenge Blog is Anything Goes this week, and one of the companies they are focusing on is Lil' Inker Designs.  It just so happens that I recently ordered some dies and stamps from Lil' Inker, so I decided to play along.

I used three Lil' Inker products on this card: the Stitched Mats: Rounded Rectangles die, the Awesome Word die, and the little "Awesome" word stamp from their Notebook Doodle Stamps.  I cut the rectangle out and stamped the "awesome" background with embossing ink.  Since the stamp had some black ink left on it, it came out grey in some places.  I also stamped the "hello" with a Hampton Art stamp.  I cut out 6 "Awesome" words from glitter cardstock and stacked them to create depth, offsetting the top layer for a shadow effect.  A glitter cardstock background and some fun sequins finished it off.

This was my first experience with Lil' Inker products and I have to say I'm pretty impressed.  (Please note -- I have no affiliation with the company and don't get anything for reviewing their product.  I'm just a regular consumer who happens to like what she got.)  I have dies from a few manufacturers that I have to shim with multiple layers of paper or run through the machine multiple times to get a clean cut.  My Lil' Inker dies cut cleanly and perfectly on the first run without any shimming, even when cutting glittered cardstock.  The stamps also made a clean impression, with every detail coming out crisp.

I'm super busy trying to get my house ready to sell because we're moving to another state, so creative time is at an absolute minimum for me right now.  Taking this challenge and trying out my new goodies was a really fun way to get some art into my day.  I always feel inspired when I have something new to play with, and doing a challenge is a great way to focus on a specific design element.  This all makes for a much quicker creative process for me.  Usually I sit around for hours trying lots of different ideas and product combinations.  This time I knew what stamps and dies I wanted to use, I already had the glitter cardstock out from another project I'd just finished, and instead of going, "Hmm... what little embellishments should I add?" I decided on sequins and didn't even look at anything else.  I love how quickly it all came together, and now that I've had a little creative fix, I can face sorting through another kid's closet without losing my mind.  :)

Happy Crafting, everybody!

Materials Used: cardstock: DCWV and Crafter's Companion, dies: Lil' Inker Designs, stamps: Lil' Inker Designs and Hampton Art, sequins: Studio Calico, Adhesive: ATG and Art Glitter, ink: Ranger, other: card blank

Monday, October 27, 2014

Scrapbooker's Blog Tour

Hello!  I was nominated by the fabulous Robyn at Cozie Nook Homestead to participate in the Scrapbooker's Blog Tour!  I love Robyn's country distressed style and her use of mixed media and metal on her scrapbook pages.  You should check her blog out!

On with the tour: 

1.) What am I working on right now?
Right now I am mostly working on trying to (once again) organize my office, which serves as my writing and creating studio.  I recently took out a card table and replaced it with a bookcase and a small piece of countertop that was left over from our kitchen remodel.  I'm also hoping to finally put away the pile of stuff on the floor that has been waiting for a home.

I've added shelves to the wall over my desk and moved my inks up there from their old position on the hutch.  That is now occupied by an Ott Light that sticks out over the spot where I do most of my creating.  I've been bringing in and taking out different organizational units (shelves, tables, racks, drawers, etc.) trying to find the right combo to finally have a place for everything and everything in it's place.

Once things get cleaned back up I'll start on the baby album for my newest Great-Niece.  I think it's funny that I'm only 41 and I have 15 Great-Nieces and Nephews (and another on the way!).  Some of them are older than my kids!  That's the fun of having a large family with 16 years between the oldest and youngest sibling.  :)

2.) How long does it take me to create a project?
This varies greatly.  If I have a good chunk of time where I can escape to my office to work, I can get a LO done in a couple hours.  Usually it happens over a matter of days, though, because I'm constantly being interrupted by my kids (being Mom comes first and foremost) or have mixed media elements that need to dry.

3.) What are my favorite things to create with at the moment?
Right now I'm really into stamp and matching die sets.  I always liked to fussy cut things for my work, and this is an easier way of doing the same thing.  I'm also having fun playing with various gels and pastes for mixed media techniques.

4.) How does my writing/creating process work?
I almost always start with the photos I want to scrap.  Then I pick papers that somehow go with the photos, and add in embellishments from there.  I don't usually use a sketch, but I'm sure doing so would speed up my creative process A LOT.  My journaling is usually off the top of my head, though I often write it out on a scrap piece of paper to make sure it will fit into the space allotted on the LO.

5.) How do I become inspired and stay inspired?
I'm inspired a lot by other people's work, and when my scrappy mojo has disappeared I can usually get it back by checking out a challenge on the Scrappin' Peeps board or a blog.  Sometimes I'll see a random photo or something IRL that inspires me -- usually a color combination.  I recently saw a bhangra dance group on a TV show and their bright, beautiful costumes made me want to create something with those happy colors.

Cornell Bhangra dance group

6.)What is my signature style?
I don't really have one style.  I'm a Gemini, and it shows in my love for many different looks: vintage, clean and simple, shabby chic, mixed media.  I love to learn and try new things, so my style is always evolving, and it really just depends on my mood or the mood I want my LO to convey.

Well, thanks for coming on my little creative tour!  I'm waiting on permission to nominate the next blogger, so once that comes, I'll link up to their blog.

Happy Scrapping!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pretty Packages

It amazes me how the simplest packaging can add so much to the experience of receiving something.  I recently ordered some stamps and dies from CASual Fridays and they came packaged like this:

Just a strip of cute tissue paper around the middle, tied with a piece of twine, but it made me smile.  It made me feel like they cared enough about me as a customer to put in the extra effort to package my order in a cute way.

I had a similiar experience a few months ago when my mother-in-law got me a subscription to Somerset Studio for my birthday.  (Yes, I won the MIL lottery.  She's awesome!)  One day I found an envelope in my mailbox with this inside:

What a beautiful way to announce my gift subscription!  I felt like I was really going to get a high quality product from this company if the gift announcement was packaged so nicely.

Even an extra little message added to a card envelope can make someone's day.  This was on the card my sister sent me for my birthday this year:

That's one way to ensure the envelope will be saved!  :)

Sometimes as crafters we get so used to what we make that we don't realize the impact our creations can have.  This pillow box was so simple to make, but the response to it was great. 

I put some chocolates and a gift card in these to give to my son's teachers at the end of the year.  He has some learning difficulties, so his IEP team had been working with him for a few years, and he was now moving on to middle school.  I wanted to let them know how much we appreciated what they did for him and how far he had come with their help.  I put a little note inside that said "Thank you for helping him SOAR!"

When I dropped these off at his school, the office staff kept commenting on the packaging and how cute it was.  They couldn't believe I made it.  I was surprised by the reaction because it was so easy to make!  I'm so used to what I make, and to seeing the amazing creations of my fellow crafters, that I forgot how special what we do actually is.

So next time you're looking at a website, a magazine, or even a friend's work and think, "Oh, I wish I was that good!" remember:  YOU ARE!  To the people who receive your handmade cards or albums or even just pretty packaging on something, the effort you put into it makes them feel extra special.  And that's worth more than anything.

Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Heartfelt Creations Flowers

I've had some Heartfelt Creations stamps and dies for awhile now.  I've used the Sweet Juliet dies to make flowers, but this is the first time I've used the stamps and dies together.  I got out the Vintage Floret sets and went to work on a lay out for a challenge on Scrappin' Peeps.  (The challenge was to use a 6-Word Memoir on your lay out.)  It was a lot of work making all the flowers, especially since I haven't found a good method for combining the stamps and die cuts yet.  I need to invest some time in watching videos on ways to do it.  In the end, the effort was so worth it, though.  I absolutely LOVE my lay out!  I think I'm going to get a 12x12 frame for it and hang it up somewhere.  I mean, who wouldn't want to see my cute babies every day?  :)

Everything on this lay out is paper and ink, which is kind of amazing to me.  With all the scrappy goodies out there to embellish with, I sometimes forget how much you can do with just paper!

Materials Used: paper: Heartfelt Creations (Countryside Evening Collection); ink: Tim Holtz Distress (Pumice Stone, Walnut Stain, Broken China), Lindy's Stamp Gang Moonshadow Mist (Buccaneer Bay Blue), Wink of Stella Brush (Clear); stamps and dies: Heartfelt Creations (flowers = Vintage Florets, leaves = Sweet Juliet and Delicate Asters); flower-shaping tools: McGill; pen: Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen (black); adhesive: ATG and Art Glitter