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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Can’t find it? Make it!

As I’ve said before, I have  a paper problem. And, yes, admitting it is the first step. I think the next is doing something about it. For me, that clearly means buying more paper. I know, I know – I’m supposed to be trying to kick the habit, but how can you resist a good paper sale??

I went into Michael’s the other day with the intention of NOT buying any paper, even though it was 5/$1. The reason? All of those clear paper storage packages that I bought are almost completely stuffed. So, ok, I won’t buy the 8 1/2″ x 11 or 12×12 sheets. I managed to bypass the paper aisle and move to the card aisle. Since a lot of what I am going to work on for the craft fair are cards, I decided that was a safer place for me to be rather than the paper aisle. (Boy was I wrong!! They were having a clearance sale on a TON of things in that aisle and I ended up buying puzzles, cards and envelopes and even bookmarks at an amazing price. Now just to find the time to work on these things!!)

But back to my original point – with all the paper I have, sometimes I still don’t have exactly what I am looking for. It could be that there are no patterns that match the look I am trying to achieve or the color just isn’t the right shade that I need. This happened to me when I was creating a layout for my goddaughter’s album. I saw a sketch of a page layout that I liked and decided that this page would be the perfect one for me to try it out on. The page only had one picture and I wanted something really cool for the background.

I started off by choosing the background paper – a white page with two different color blue designs. The I looked through my (overstuffed) blue paper pack and chose three colors that I thought would coordinate well with it. I picked two solids and one pattern. I cut the three sheets into 6×6 squares and placed them on the page. The two solid pages looked too plain next to the polka dot one, so I decided to alter them.

As hard as I tried to find three patterned papers that would go together, I couldn’t seem to find any that I thought would look good with the background. I have a hard time with this – especially when I see the papers that others choose when they start their project. I often think – how do those patterns go together??? So, instead of trying to match patterns and color, I matched the colors and then decided to create my own patterns.

For the first sheet, I used a swirl stencil. I haven’t used stencils much in the past, so I thought this would be a good time to try. If it didn’t come out good, I had three more shots with the rest of the 12×12 paper! HA. Since the background features two different color blues, I chose the two blue distress inks I have – faded jeans and broken china. At one end I started with one color and worked my way about halfway down. Then I started at the other end with the other color. Once everything but the middle was done, I took my blending tool and dipped one end in one color and the other in the remaining color and just started blending. I removed the stencil and I had such a cool design!

The second sheet was a different story. I have seen people use Perfect Pearls mist and stencils so I thought I’d try that. Yeah – that didn’t turn out too good. Instead, I ended up removing the stencils and using my fingers to spread the spray mist around. Then, before it was dry, I just placed the one flower stencil on top of the paper. It turned out even better than I expected! I got a shiny piece of blue card stock that has a subtle hint of a flower pattern. (The picture doesn’t do the paper justice – it’s much cooler in person!)

When all else fails and you can’t find the right paper for your layout, make it! Whether its using markers, paint, distress inks, stencils or stamps, you can easily make whatever you need to go along with the project. Making background or accent papers gives the project a real homemade feel.

Here are some pictures of what the papers I made look like:

The first two are the original 6×6 pieces of paper:

starting piecestarting

Paper with the swirl stencil onto of it:

with stencil on top

The finished paper:


Tim Holtz Distress Ink Colors:


The stencils I tried to use – ended up only using the one on top


The paper


You can see the flowers a little better in this one:

end result

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave a comment or question.

A new supply

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A couple of weeks ago, I decided to give in to the alcohol markers that I had seen at AC Moore every week. Each week when I had a 50% off coupon I would pick up a pack and then find something else that I thought I wanted more. I think overall I was scared to start making the investment.

But, that one week, the Spectrun Noir markers were about 50% off and then there was an additional 15% off. That made them about $7 a pack and a little over $1 a marker. Much better than the $5 a marker for Copics. I think what pushed me over the edge was watching YouTube video demonstrations and seeing what you can accomplish. Now I am not the best shader by any means – I was in talented art in middle school, but somehow I just never seemed to get the hang of where the light source was coming from and where the object would be darker or lighter. I am sure that it comes naturally for most artists – I guess I lack that artist gene! HAHA.

The Good:

I bought six or seven packs of the markers. What is nice about these compared to Copics, besides the price!, is that they come in color sets. With Copics, they sell them individually as well as in sets. However, their sets are more along the lines of pastels or brights, which means to blend colors in the same color family, you need multiple sets. In Spectrum Noir markers, they come in blendable, ready to use family colors. That makes it easier for people like me when you are going to pick colors to blend with.

There are two ends to the pen – a chisel tip for coloring in larger areas and a brush tip for the fine detail work. The company who makes them, Crafter’s Companion, has made it easy to identify which end is which at a quick glance by marking the brush tip end with a grey band. Some YouTube videos I’ve watched have said that people have had issues with pulling the chiseled end off when pulling the cap off, but I haven’t had this issue. Hopefully CC realized this and fixed the issue.

Like the Copics, the Spectrun Noir markers are also refillable. I haven’t been on the website to see how much they are, but in the videos I’ve watched, other crafters said that it wasn’t too high of a price. I like that because I don’t want to have to wait for another great sale to get another set of markers!

The Bad:

From watching some of the YouTube Videos, I did learn that the colors aren’t always true to the color caps. They use a number and letter system to identify the colors and also offer a color chart online that you can download and color swatches so you can see at a glance what colors you want to use. Really overall, not a big issue for me and was easily remedied when I saw the chart.

The second thing is the ink and paper you use. Since these are alcohol based markers, they will soak through thinner (and sometimes thicker paper), depending on how much blending you want to do. Any alcohol pens or markers will bleed so stay away from coloring up to the line. (I’ll talk more about this in another post when I show the card I made). Use a good ink and let it really dry. Not 20 minutes – either overnight or hit it with the heat gun. I usually stamp my images for a project the night before and give them a good 12-24 hrs to dry before I start coloring on them. A heat gun will work to set the ink though if you need to color in the image quicker.

The last negative I see is that the caps aren’t the best. Sometimes they can be difficult to get off and you really have to make sure that they click back into place so they don’t dry out. I am constantly worrying about this because I read that alcohol markers dry out faster the regular ones. Just make sure that you press firmly on the cap and it clicks and you should be ok!

Overall, I really like the markers. I’ve never used Copic markers so I only have what other people have said or what I have seen of them to compare then to the Spectrun Noir. This really isn’t a comparison – I just wanted to share a good alternative to Copics if you don’t have the $5 a pen to spend. It seems like a good entry into the alcohol based marker game, especially for the price. I am new to all this shading and blending, so I thought that for a little over a $1 a marker I could get behind that investment. AC Moore only offers 12 sets of markers; however there are many more that Crafter’s Companion made available. For me, it’s a good start and I am enjoying figuring out how to shade and blend.

Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave a comment or any questions.

My first blog feature!

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A couple of weeks ago, a fellow Etsian asked for anyone interested in being featured on her blog to fill out a questionnaire. This week, she contacted me to let me know that I am going to be featured today. Check her blog out – Deena has some great posts and of course, check out her feature on me! : )

Thanks Deena!