Art Journal text for not very confident writers

Well, that sums me up in a nutshell. I love adding text to my pages, but my lettering is not great. I know I should be fearless, like I keep telling myself, but I am just not. I also know with time it is likely I WILL get better. But what to do in the meantime?

I am always finding things when I am tidying up and organizing. I found a ton of old scrapbooking frames and journaling spots and I thought how can I use those in my art journals?

Turns out, LOTS of ways. Even the journaling spots, which I thought might be a bit useless, actually work well. Hands up if you have a ton of these and haven’t used them in ages?

They work well if you stamp them with some sort of very light ink, then use the lines as guides.

And then cut them out to add them to a page. This is just the block, plunked down on an old page, to show you how it might look:

I love that I can make 50 samples if I need to and stick the best one on the page – and all that practice has to help me improve!

The frames offer many more options, I think. Just filling the space with quirky lettering looks cute.

A little not-perfect drop shadow looks good. You can also stamp on old gel prints, watercoloured backgrounds, whatever.

Drawing a few curved lines, you can do some funky lettering inside the frame

Then cut it out to stick to your page

And if you REALLY are scared about lettering, you can add pre-printed bits of text (either with the blank paper inside the frame or you can cut that away, leaving the page to show thru)

Or you could stamp the letters within the frame – helpful if your stamping is dodgy or your placement is, or if you want to alter the stamping – like maybe stamp one word on each line, rather than the way it is laid out in the stamp:

Or use simple stamping as a jumping off point and do that thing where you make the ends into triangles, to funkify the text a bit. I have plain letters in many sizes, and there are LOTS of ways to alter plain letters – bullet journal lettering tutorials always seem to have a ton of simple ideas.

This is so photo-heavy, sorry, but there were a lot of samples. I am not so much altering these old supplies, and I am only sort of using them in a non-traditional way. – a frame is a frame, a journaling spot is well, a journaling spot for keeping text aligned. It’s more about looking at my stash of stuff and finding a way to use them TODAY. And the practice I get taking the time to make something a little better than just my writing on the page is a bonus!


The Distress Spritzer? well, not REALLY…..

This is one of those posts that is a weird confluence of events.  Someone once asked me Where do your ideas come from?  I thought for fun I would document it – the steps may be unique, but the process isn’t. It’s just the way my mind works and the benefit of a messy desk  Feel free to just look at the photos – they should tell you all you REALLY need to know.

1. I got an email from a UKS sponsor announcing they had received the new Tim Holtz Distress Marker Spritzer.  

The more I looked at it the more I was convinced I had one.  Not that exact thing, but something pretty similar. So I had a bit of a hunt and sure enough, in with my stamping markers (a drawer not opened since I got my Copics) there it was.


This has to be 15-20 years old – I know I got it while in the USA so it would have to be.  I had a check for the name and while I see the odd reference to it they no longer sell it that I can find.

2. I popped a few random markers in to it.  One thing I can see is that mine seems to be lacking the inner liner for the pen-holder.  Not a big deal, it works well enough without it but I could always as one of those rubber pencil grips to super thin pens and I bet that would do the trick.

3.  As I was looking across my desk, my eye landed on one of my watercolour brush pens.  I thought, I wonder….

Now, I only have maybe two watercolour brush pens.  I’ve meant to buy some, after seeing Dyan from Art from the Heart show how she has as many water brush pens as she has colours of Dylusions and she uses them to colour with.  But I just never got around to it.  Deep in the back of my mind I had a tickle.  I KNEW that somewhere, probably in DDs “art cupboard” I had some kids version of the waterbrushes.  And guess what? Not only did I have them, I found them.


I know we got them maybe 8-10 years ago at Costco. Some of them are fairly empty.  I deconstructed one of them, thinking I could just replace the cheap ink with good ink, although I thought as the Dylusions aren’t waterproof either, I might as well just pick one or two of the near-empty ones to play with and use up the rest of the ink with mixed media stuff rather than just empty them.


There is no seal on the pens, which surprises me as it’s for the kids market.  I would expect them to be sealed and you would need to buy new ones once these ran out. But no, they disassemble just fine.


I tossed out the cartridge and the little slim tube.  For use with the spritzer you don’t WANT to slow the flow, like you would with a potentially messy pen, with kids, so I binned the cartridge and the tube.

4.  What to fill it with?  Obviously ink is going to be pretty much the same as using a marker, but then…


Perfect.  Acrylic liquid ink. This gives me something, a matte and almost chalky look, that I am not going to get from a marker (I only have ONE Distress marker, the Picket fence one, so I don’t really know if that would be similar to using acrylic ink) and is waterproof. Note:


And wipe over it with a baby wipe


The ink on the wipe is not from the acrylic ink, it’s from rubbing the paint off the stencil.  It give a nice watercolour-y effect.  I also did the flip-and-stamp you might normally do with an ink loaded stencil. The acrylic ink dries really fast so the stamping part has to be done after a spritz of water  on the slick surface of the stencil, and you can also then smear the acrylic ink thru the stencil with a wipe. Kinda both on the same area here


5.  And then, of course, there is WHITE.


Using the spritzer gives you a way more controlled spray than the spray bottle does, so you would use this for either the Acrylic ink OR the Dylusions for this sort of scatter.

So there you go.  I’m still in my jammies and my hands are covered with ink and paint, and my stamp-storage tower (with the wood-mount stamps, where the Blitzer was hiding) is pretty much dumped out on the floor, but now I have a new toy to play with, a whole heap of waterbrushes, a bunch of ink to use up, and it’s only just after 9 AM.  Or was when I started typing….

And Texas Flood is playing from my playlist, the accident payment has been sent, DH is back from his conference, so no school run, and the house is pretty tidy (well, downstairs, anyway) and the laundry done.  Where can the day go from here?  Downhill, probably, but I can always hope ….



Mixed media – pre-prep homemade bits

I often start something without a clear idea of the final outcome.  I mean I have an IDEA, but not a vision of the final piece.  I tend to riffle thru my stash and the debris on my desk and that leads me where the piece wants to go.  Problem is I have a LOT of stuff, but I never seem to have EXACTLY what I see in my head.  For example, I like embossed resist papers – I don’t own a single one.  I love big swirls, but I’ve pretty much used up all the chipboard ones I’ve acquired over the years.  When I think Oh that would work there… I am then too lazy  or too engrossed in the process to stop, switch gears, and make something specifically for the piece I am working on.  And my pockets are just not deep enough to buy everything I would like to have on hand.

Thinking about stuff I wish I had, I thought I would take a day and MAKE things that I know I will use, get them all ready to go and then when I think a lovely swirl will fill that space perfectly… I just grab it.

So I did two things.  First I grabbed lots of plain white heavy cardstock.  I stamped a bunch of border stamps and embossed them with white embossing powder. I made a couple of sheets, mixing up thin and fat borders.


Now, when I am layering up clusters of papers and embellishments, and I think a little embossed resist strip will add just the texture I want, I only have to grab the sheet, cut out one, spritz with a bit of ink to match….


then maybe stamp over it with some Distress ink.  That whisks away from the embossing, and the strip is ready to tuck into a layered group.


For a selection of swirls and some die cut border pieces (if I want more texture) I went to my Cricut mini and Craft room.  I figure as long as I am cutting, why not make a morning of it? LOL!

I set up the mat and went crazy.



I also did a mat of borders and one of banners.  Then I thought to myself should I cut two of each to stick together, for a more chipboard-like piece?  When I mist or ink or paint these they are going to droop and flop, even out of heavy heavy card. I had an idea.  A bit like the acrylic medium technique for sealing things, I thought why not seal them with a coat of Gesso?  It will give them a little more body and then they will be ready for adding to mixed media style things in my file folder book.

I brayered the Gesso on to the Gelli plate and laid on the piece – yes, I know the bigger plate would make more sense, but the small one was what was on my desk.  Told you I was lazy….


Brayering over the back coated both sides.  In the end I had a stack of them drying.


I didn’t waste the Gesso either.  I pulled a print off the plate and used the spray inks on it. Cool.


I like the shadow effect where there is no Gesso.  I’m sure I’ll find a use for it…

And I still have the waste from the cut-outs.  They will surely work for stencils and the cardstock is thick enough they will work with modelling paste as well, at least a few times as they are in no way washable!

I know it’s a calculated risk, cutting and stamping a bunch of stuff that I might not use, but I feel that by thinking thru my style, and my process , I’ve identified those things I most often wish I had on hand.  That makes it more likely I WILL actually use them.  We shall see.  I have plans for one of the swirls already and I’m interested in how the coating of gesso will affect it…

Oh and I forgot to mention…that doily sort of thing on the embossing sheet?  That is actually a cup coaster!


It would have worked FAR better had I used a flat stamp mount (which it clung to perfectly) rather than the curved one that I grabbed cause it was on my desk (see? LAZY!) I’ve never gotten the hang of the darn thing and never get a good clean impression.  I think I got a set of 4 of these for a couple of quid.  It’s a little girlie for me, but it might work.  I may cut out the centre circle with the dots around it as that would make a cute stamp too on it’s own. …


Alphabet Gelli tools and a great cheap find

Regular readers will know that I love making my own tools for the Gelli plate.  I had an interesting comment on one of my You Tube videos for making tools.  The commenter said:

Great ideas! I’ve already noticed, the problem with using commercial stencils is that everyone is using the same stencils and my pages start looking like everyone else’s. So I’ve been making my own stuff too.

Well, I never really thought of it like that.  To me, the making of the tools, the process, was the challenge, but now I think of her comments, I realize that yes, it IS a great way to make your own stuff truly unique.  But then there is the whole SHARING thing – telling other people how you made something, even, like I often do, providing a link so they can do it themselves, then takes away a bit of the uniqueness, doesn’t it?  I suppose the saving grace is that there are a LOT of people out there who simply have ZERO interest in making tools, they are quite happy with using existing tools in new and unique ways.  That is a hugely enviable talent as well, the thinking outside the box.

I love text.  As always looking for a good way to add it to the prints.  In this case I simply cut a bit of sticky-backed fun foam with an old QuicKutz die.


The important part is that the sticky bit needs to be on the BACK of the letters, the reverse.  For text on the Gelli, the letters need to be forward reading as you look at them, so when you flip it to lay it on the plate, then pull the print, which gets reverse, the text reads right. Does that make sense?
Peel away the backing over the LETTERS ONLY, and pop out the middle bits. And here is the cheap find – Plastic placemats!  The make good backgrounds for texture plates. You can get a pack of them and a cheap store for very little.  They cut easily and are flexible, which is nice for certain effects, and washable too.
Stick the letters to the placemat.  Just pressing, even firmly, sometimes isn’t enough.  I use an embossing tool to help nudge the letters thru the surround and stick them firmly to the placemat backer.
Ease off the backing gently, as that is a whole other plate for you.  I just stick it to the back of the letters one, making it double-sided:
Now what you really want to know is what it looks like:
OK so let’s say you did it exactly wrong.  You cut the die so the sticky bit was on the front of the letters and your plate had the letters reading backwards.
Don’t despair!  This is a good thing.  What you then have is a STAMP of the letters and the surround.
Just brayer on the paint (or if you like the backwards text look on a pull, load the plate with paint and then load the stamp by pressing it onto the plate!) and stamp onto your print:
Cool hum?
And they would be nice for art journal work, as stamps direct to the page.
So there you go.  Another way to make your old stuff work for you in a new way.


Card kit binder and a frugal tip

Well, I have not totally sorted thru my pile o’ scraps, but I have reduced it by at least 75%.  I sorted the scraps into card kits in my binder, and the binder is full to bursting.  I removed all the full sheets to file, tossed out any unusable debris, separated out any random embellishment packs (although embellishments I tried to find homes for in the kits) and am very happy with the progress:


Now a funny tip for you.  I get Craft Stamper magazine.  I love it, and love the little freebie stamps that come as a cover mount (only in the UK, sorry international subscribers!) For a year I have been saving the printed acetate that comes over the stamp.  Can I find the stupid box they are in? No. But I have been planning this for a while, and I was able to find a few that were still on the covers of older mags.


I thought to myself that as I am not keeping the stamps on these little squares, and they are too cute to just toss in the bin, I thought they would work as little embellishments. Now, not all of them will work for this idea. For example, the little banner stamp probably doesn’t. But you might have an idea for it, s maybe it would…

This one is the one I decided to play with first:


Now you do need to be a little careful when you are peeling it off, lest you crease the acetate.  I did a little, but I hope I have disguised it well enough in the final card.

The fact it is acetate presents its own set of problems – the attachment has to be something you don’t mind seeing (like an eyelet or a brad) or the image should be central on the piece so you can tuck it under something to hide how you have secured it, or if you like the Diamond Glaze as glue trick, that works too.

On the other hand, I like being able to take advantage of the fact it is acetate.  As you can see here,  I tucked the flower under the acetate, but over the circle so it peeps thru (disguising the slight crease) and showing off the clear nature of it.


Again, my cards are never going to win any prizes, but they do make something from nothing and add to my stash of cards for last-minute sending.

If you are like me and you peel off your clear stamps to house them in some organizational method that doesn’t require the index sheet, you could do the same with those.  Copics would colour them in nicely and it might be fun to experiment with.

Now, I have a date with the Hoover as my floor is SO littered with paper debris I can’t stand it.  That may be the extent of my crafty play today.


Chevron card – quick fold

Yesterday I highlighted a layout by UKS member Daphnie on the HomePage. The whole time I was creating the BlogBits section it was preying on my mind.  Where had I seen it before?  As often happens, overnight my brain ruminated on it and by the time I woke up I knew.  My folded corners!  Although I have done it more recently as a YouTube video here (and that one is about decorative corners), you have to go right back to 2001 and my 2Peas gallery (which no longer exists)to see the original. I used vellum for the sample so you can clearly see the folds, I think, much better than you can with opaque paper.

Oh dear, the state of my scanner at the time! Shocking. Anyway, it turns out the folded strip that forms the corners actually makes a chevron shape before you cut it apart!

Now, the tutorial Daphnie linked to makes really nice chevrons, but there is a lot more involved to get the smooth face with no paper-edges on view.  If you want that look, that is the way to go.  But for what it’s worth, here’s my way.

Firstly, you want to begin with paper weight paper, not cardstock.  My feeling is it is just too thick.  If you disagree, ignore me.

Cut as many strips from a 12×12 sheet as you like.  I did three. Now, the width is up to you. I show both 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch versions.

I ink the raw paper edges.  It keeps the white back from showing.  But it’s not essential.

One of my top tips is to use the edge of the ink pad to ink edges.  Works fab for scallops, where you can slip the point of the corner into the scallops. But I am getting sidetracked.

Run adhesive all along the back of the strip.  This will secure your folds asyou make them.

Watch the video or use the 2Peas info and fold your strip.

When you get done folding, do NOT cut the strip.  You can pick which side you prefer – I like what is really the back of the strip, as I think the vertical folds enhance the chevron effect. You may prefer the front, which is more of a zig zag.

Now just stick them to the card front.  Be conscious of the folds and where they fall at the card edges.

Trim off the excess and finish up with whatever decoration you like.

This uses the 1/2 inch strip.  The 3/4 inch strip gives bigger (but fewer) chevron shapes. But they still fit across the 5×7 card, almost better as you can line up the first fold at one edge.

Maybe this shows it more clearly.

I do so love when what is old becomes all new again!

1 Comment

Time to bring back….

Funny, but having my Cricut out of commission (faulty power brick – I tested it with a good one and the machine itself is working just fine) and the very old PC that runs the Craft Robo behaving erratically, I have hand cut titles for layouts more than I have in maybe the last 5 years in just the last month.  I used a die-cut punch out sheet as a template for one layout, and made two that used the very old Heidi Swapp letter masks.  I loved these when I got them (and a quick look on t’internet shows a review from 2007 so I’m guessing that is about when I got them) and used them a few times, then in the various re-shuffling of my stash I put them someplace that I didn’t check very often and then sort of forgot about them.  A recent tidy revealed them once more and I thought they would be good for this layout from last week, so I dragged them off to the crop.  For this one I smudged Vintage Photo (or was it Walnut Stain?  Can’t recall now!) through the outline part of the mask then cut with a border of the cardstock:

Then, because I was too lazy to unpack my crop bag between Saturday Crops, I found them still in there this past Saturday and since I forgot to add other letters for this layout, I decided to use them again, this time using the solid letter part and smudging Walnut Stain (sure about that this time) around the outside and on patterned paper, then cutting with a very fine border.

Not done with this one yet – not really embellished at all, just the photo placement and the basic background, but I love how the title fills the space.  I am a sucker for BIG TEXT. And blimey – those Scrabble letters…they must be 10 years old.

Funnily enough I only just realized those layouts have such similar photo placement.  I suppose thereare really only so many ways to place three 4×6 photos …

Anyway, I doubt I would have sat down and said to myself “Now where are those HS letter masks?” but stumbling on them was a real bonus.  I had forgotten how the tall, thinnish letters allow quite a long word to fit across a 12 inch page.  And how versatile the masks are: you can smudge ink, paint, mist, stamp, whatever you like thru the empty letters, and use the solid letters to do the same around the outside edge or use them as a shape to trace around.  The self-mat, almost, depending if you smudge/paint/mist just inside the empty letters or if you lett the medium go outside the border as well.

It just goes to show you that old supplies are not really BAD supplies.  I feel quite virtuous when I use something I paid good money for but that fell out of fashion (or at least fell ut of the public eye) at some point.  But I don’t think something like this, a classic simple font, should really ever go completely out of fashion.  It’s all a matter of using it in a new way.  KWIM?

I would love to have more fonts. and don’t even mind hand cutting them, I had forgotten how restful it is to just sit and snip.

I wonder what else I’ll unearth as I carry on with my much needed filing of piles of stuff dragged out over the last 6 months or so.  Something wonderful, I hope!

1 Comment

A double layout!

This week on the scrap Factor contest we posted the theme for next week, for the contestants to work on.  It was to take an old layout, one from your earliest scrapping days, and re-do it in your current style.  It got me thinking about stuff I once seemed to do all the time but now, for whatever reason, I don’t seem to do ever. Not sure why, I just don’t seem to think of these techniques or products.

So first, this is a double page spread.  I almost can’t recall when I last did one of them, whereas once I was passionate about doubles, feeling that the whole one-photo on a layout thing was just not efficient and I had too many photos to useless than about four.  The 4-photo-layout blog was a favourite place to visit, but sadly, I don’t think it is updated anymore. While I certainly came around to the appeal of single-photo layouts and have done LOTS of them, I still tend to use two or more more often than not.

Next, I used journaling, printed on vellum – and coloured vellum at that! My new printer doesn’t handle the inexpensive vellum I used a LOT for a long time, but I came across a whole binder full of page protectors FULL of coloured and patterned vellum in my travels through my scrap room and I thought Why not? The printed handled “real” vellum much better than the office supply version, with no smearing. Yay! and I journalled a LOT – again, something I always did, and now if I manage a date and a short paragraph I feel like I’ve done well.

And I attached the vellum with coloured brads.  Lately I have gone back to silver, gold, and the copper coloured ones more often than any other,  And even so I used them very infrequently, more as a decorative item then a functional requirement (ie to actually attach something.

I also used a pack of pre-cut die cuts from Bazzill.  since I got my Craft Robo, and backed that up with a Cricut, I have had no need to BUY die cute, so these have to be many years old.

Foam stamps.  I do still use them occasionally, but once they were the only letter stamps I had and I used them A LOT.  I still love them.

Painted edges and stamping with paint was also something I did a lot and never seem to do much at all now.  Brushing the edges of a photo or paper with paint is a trick I learned from Shimelle,  It gives a real dimensional look, much more so than inked edged, as the paint itself is a bit…gloopy? Well, thick anyway.

The journalling is all about how DH promised me that he would take me to Lake Como.He did, and we had a fab lunch out on the patio f a lovely restaurant overlooking the lake.  It was just stunning.

So what I think is this – while I love all these products and techniques, when I look at this layout I imagine it could have been made 5+ years ago.  In some ways the products and techniques really date the layout.  Maybe it is using all of them on one layout.  Maybe I looked at the stuff and rather than try hard to drag them into  2011 I sort of fell back on the way I have always used them.  I think the next time I would look at them more critically and really see if I could give them a more modern twist.  Is that possible?  Maybe.  Maybe it’s just a matter of taking ONE of them and adding it to something that is bang up to date scrapping-wise. Maybe that would make the techniques and products look fresh and new.

But in any case, these photos have languished in my photo stash for so long, just getting them on the page is great.

I should take a close up to add because one thing about doubles is that photographing them as a single unit means the detail is lost in anything other than quite a huge photo! I may do, but poor little muffin (DD) is home sick today and I promised I would sit with her for a bit.  Much as I would like to spend the day at my desk or crafting on the floor, I have her home with me all day so infrequently that I really want to spend the time with her, especially as she asked – usually it’s all about the DAD, so I’m going to grab the moment.  I may even take a photo or two….


Serendipity card and a musing

First, the crafty bit.  I’ve still been playing with those circles, making good use of the smallest of scraps, and I managed a card out of one of them.  Might do nicely for a graduation card:

But actually I am more interested, almost, in what I can do with the leftover bit after I punch out the circles.  I’m sure there is a card in here somewhere, somehow, but I’ve not hit on the perfect composition yet.  I may not, but I am convinced I cane come up with something.

These are so easy to make and I love creating something from nothing.  I have another idea for my strips of scraps, but I need to sort it out in my head first and maybe do a little planning.

In the meantime, I thought I would mention something that has been annoying me for ages and now I know the answer as to WHY.  There is a new book due out called The Filter Bubble.  It’s subtitle has the clue: What the Internet is Hiding from You. I was happily reading a rather in-depth review and I discovered something.  OK, so I knew that Google tracked searches, but I didn’t know that since 2009 it has used up to 57 “data points” about me and my searching habits to personalize my future searches.  And that includes info on the computer you are using.  It was like a lightbulb going off – PING!

I have long been irritated by the fact that in the wee small hours, I might do a search on my iPad to find something crafty or scrappy.  I’ll find something that I want to explore further in the daylight hours and the next day I go to my desktop, do THE EXACT SAME SEARCH and do not get, in the first 25 hits (if at all) the thing I am looking for, that maybe was the top hit on my iPad search.  This idea of search personalization is the reason why.  So now I know – I thought it was ME.  It’s not, it’s THEM.  And I’m still mulling over the info and looking forward to reading the book.  At this point I’m not sure how I feel about that, really.  It annoys me that there is info out there, stuff I may have been searching for repeatedly, and can’t find, that maybe I am not finding because Google has decided, based on my past search habits, I don’t really want THAT answer.  Humphf.

Leave a comment


With summer holidays looming, finding fun things to do with the kids is always a priority. While my DD wouldn’t really get on with these, because of her foot brace, other kids might find it a nice diversion for the afternoon.

From the Disney, site, it’s PAPER SHOES. OK, so not hugely practical in often wet England, but it did make me smile. I wonder if a good coating of Mod Podge would weather proof them a bit and maybe a bit of fabric or rubber rather than paper on the insole would make them more comfortable – although to be honest I can only see these as a bit of fun for a day, and I can see a gaggle of tween girls having fun making and modeling them.