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Having fun with an old old tool

Now, you will have to go back a full decade ago to see the first time I made one of these. It is a page protector, sliced in strips, front one way back the other, that I use to flip and flop and mask of areas of the gel plate, when printing. The washi tape just makes it easier to see the slices.

The idea is to roll out the paint, flip over the vinyl, and print. You can easily add texture to get interesting overlapped areas

And the paint trapped below the vinyl can then be used on the main print (left) or a secondary one (right)

and the mop up prints have just a hint of the lines, which I think makes them interesting in their own right.

The final piece looks like this

and you can see I made use of that sheet of ATC mark-making elements on it for some final drama!

I thought as the 12×12 page protector isn’t QUITE big enough to use with the 12×12 plate, I might try making another version with contact paper instead. I have some ideas, as do some of the folks in my artist group. I will be interested in seeing how it all develops.

Busy week.

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Made my cover – Traveller’s Notebook stylee

Well. That was interesting. I made myself a cover for my journal for 2023. I used one of the paper, transformed sheets (the one created by making a Masterboard from the crumpled deli paper experiments.

and one of the paper transformed experiments as well that was lurking on my desk

The final cover looks like this!

There are loads of instructions for making a Traveller’s notebook, mostly using leather, and mine is exactly like those but gel printed card instead. The location of the holes are the only bit of info you really need.

The four holes top and bottom are where the elastic goes to create the holders for the inserts. The middle hole gets a look you use to hold the whole thing closed. Not exactly the same but this link is as good as any for how to make one.

For the inside, I am recycling Amazon packing paper, using both Amazon UK based paper and Amazon USA paper, compliments of Dear Son and his shipments. I am curious to see how they both hold up, because my firm belief is the UK stuff is thinner, less sturdy, and more grey than brown. We shall see. Cannot believe it is WOYWW again so soon. The weeks are flying by. Yikes!


Circle edge text – will it work? Try it and let me know!

So I have gotten a few queries about the way I put the text around the edges of my ATC coins. I use a function in my program called “Attach Baseline to Path” under Path Binding. It makes the text run along any shape. inside it or outside it, forward or reverse, hugging the baseline or a ways away, and showing the path or not. It is interesting to play with. I have been trying to work out a way to share something you can use and had no luck. If you don’t have (and know how to use) a program that does this then I suspect, well, you just can’t.

I think I finally worked out something useful, if not perfect. You will need:

  • the download below, printed at 100% exactly (more on that later)
  • a 2 inch punch
  • a 2.5 inch punch

(you can try to make circle dies work or cut by hand, but the punches are the best option.)

Here are a few of the coins where I have used this technique:

The first thing i did was create some text in a circle. Much like those booklets of useful arty words that you can peel off and stick, I made circles of text that can only be use in limited ways. I have tried to pick phrases I see a LOT, that could work for a few different situations, and where I have grouped them, I’ve tried to make the sort of GO together, so if you wanted to use the whole circle, you could. This is what it looks like – this image will not print the the exact right size for the instructions I will be giving you – download the PDF HERE

Firstly, print the PDF. Be sure that your printer is not trying to re-size the file! For some unknown reason mine always tries to print it at 103%. Change it – in my case I have to tick SCALE and then enter 100

The fine grey lines are to help you line up your punches. If you are hand cutting, or trying to line up circle dies, they will be helpful. The outside dimension is 2.5 inches, the inside circle is 2 inches. This is how I do it:

Don’t be alarmed by the mis-spellings in the PHOTO, they have been corrected in the PDF. When you have the phrases cut, you can edge them using a marker – and I love the Sharpie Chisel tip – for a fine line, or a dauber and ink for a more smudgy look.

Now, I think most of these could be made to work with any generic, pretty or arty ATC. It isn’t a crazy difficult process so I would be open to further suggestions if you care to eave them down in the comments – if I get enough that I feel are likely to be useful to many people I might do further sets. Hope this is useful!


Pure Play – Vaseline, Hand Sanitizer and Distress Oxides

Note: edited to add a quick PDF tutorial for anyone who needs more info. Hope it helps you wrap your head around the technique.

I love experimenting and I love figuring out a new way to do something, especially a substitute for something I don’t have, if I am on the fence about buying it. I had seen a demo of Distress Glaze over top of Distress Oxide inks, used to revive the bright colours, rather than leaving them oxidized and chalky. to be fair, I wasn’t 100% sure I actually LIKED the effect, but I wanted to see for myself. I don’t have a lot of glossy cardstock but I did find a little pack of a few sheets. Considering the properties of Distress Glaze, Vaseline seemed like a reasonable thing to try. And yeah, it totally works. This is not, actually, a “new” discovery. Once I knew it worked and I went looking, yeah, people have been doing it for a while, although they seem to mix 91% alcohol with the Vaseline. I suggest watching at 1.5 or 2x speed and the meat of it is at about 5minutes.

I didn’t, I just used Vaseline straight, with a blender, and it totally works al by itself. But that got me thinking of a few other ideas to try. The first thing I did was to add the Vaseline thru a stencil on the blank glossy cardstock then add the Distress Ink over the top.

When you then buff off the Vaseline, you are left with the white glossy card under it. You will not be able to see this super clearly, but the right is buffed the left not in the first shot and totally buffed off in the second:

It made me think that you could layer the DIs into the white spaces…except the Vaseline prevents it. Buffed off (on the right) you can still see the sheen of the petroleum jelly.

But the info from the video gave me a bit of an idea. I squirted a dot of hand sanitizer onto a aper towel and rubbed that over the piece – It kind of remove the Vaseline, at least a bit, and while it might have dulled the shine very slightly, it did then allow me to layer more Distress Inks over it and not have the jelly resist it! The first photo shows the piece in two halves. The left half has only the Vaseline applied thru the stencil and then rubbed off. The right side has the Vaseline rubbed off then the hand sanitizer applied over that, with both having more DI added as a final layer. Then you see the half with the Vaseline only after buffing and the next the side with the hand sanitizer after final buffing.

Here are the samples. I love them all. They are in no way tacky to the touch, and you need only the barest dab of Vaseline to get the colours to pop. But using it as a resist is really a nifty technique.

I think I was influenced by a Distress Resist spray video I saw, but I am 100% sure this is something I will carry on playing with. I also want to give the samples some time, to see how they look in a day or two. I may need to buy some glossy cardstock!

But wait – there’s more! I happened to have a scrap of tracing paper on my desk, and decided to see what would happen if I had a go at the Vaseline-thru-a-stencil on that, Distress Oxides over it, and then buffing off the jelly and cleaning the residue off with the hand sanitizer. In a word, WOW!

Do not be tempted to dry this with the heat gun between layers, the Vaseline will totally melt and you will not be able to layer the DI. Totally ok for the final layer, as the Vaseline will have done it’s job by then. Look at it. It’s just lovely.

And to add a few more images from the PDF:


Safmat substitute? Maybe….

Funny sequence of events. One of my WOYWW mates stumbled across a very old (2011, I think it was) post about SAFMAT. That is an old product as well, clear, that you can print on and it is self-adhesive.

So I never saw the point of it for what they seemed to tout as it’s selling point – that you could print a sentiment on it and lay it over a card, where it would sort of melt into the background. First, it didn’t – there was a clearly defined sheen to the product, and second, why not just print on the paper? I wanted to put the printed area very specifically over a pattern on the paper, so for that, yeah, it was helpful. But otherwise, not 100% sure it was revolutionary. It was acid-free and that was unique, I think. When I posted about it Letraset had just re-released it, after being unavailable for a long time. It is now unavailable again (but there are a few for sale at stupid prices, like almost £100 on Amazon. doh!)

Considering the qualities that made Safmat useful, I thought of what else would work the same. I riffled thru my stash and found some full-sheet self-adhesive labels from Avery and had a go using those.

What I remember was that the ink-jet ink dried fast and if not permanent on the Safmat, it was …semi-waterproof, let’s say. On the labels material it was quick to smudge. I tried my usual sealing technique, using matt gel medium on a gel plate, and it worked pretty well – although there was a weird byproduct of that which bears exploring some day – so long as I gently laid it on and tapped lightly on the back rather than, say, brayering over the back to get a really good coat of the gel medium on it. That did tend to smear a bit more. Left, brayer over the back, right, lightly tapping to coat.

Applying the clear sticker to paper, in this case some rubbish, an old gloss spray overspill sheet, works really well. and if you burnish the sticker paper better than I did here, it really does almost disappear.

In this case, I planned to cut out the wings so there was no real need to do that. In the end I didn’t end up using these wings as I planned, but they did look good!

I have a couple of other kinds of clear labels to test. Both are from Amazon, in the under £7 range, but for far fewer sheets than the Avery ones:

The glossy vinyl one says specifically non-waterproof. and all the “waterproof” ones seem to be white. Still if the gel plate sealing works on the plain sticker paper, surely it will work on both of these. And it does. A couple of interesting facts. The glossy-labelled one is not only glossy, it is a lot thicker. May be good if you want something to retain some dimension – like the wings,raised above the surface but not great if you want it to melt into a background. For that, the Avery labels are thinnest.

The PPD paper is also glossy and slightly thinner.

Unlike the Avery sticker labels, the inkjet ink dries very well and pretty quickly on both of these. But they are quite glossy, compared to the Avery version I sealed with the gel plate and matt medium.

And of course you can seal the other two just like the Avery one. I tried a couple of methods. Brushing on the gel medium smears the inkjet ink pretty easily. Daubing on the medium with a sponge actually works pretty well, although for my sample I had a slightly dried blob on the sponge and didn’t realize it so it isn’t as good as I am 100% sure it would have been if the gel had been all smooth. I did try sealing with the gel plate on other samples but then messed them up by trying to pick them up before they were fully dry – busy day and no time to hang about! On the top is the daubed on gel and the bottom is brushed on. Personally the brushed on is very smooth – except where it smeared. DOH! I used totally the wrong brush for this, but it was what was in arm’s reach.

I think that the Avery labels, especially if you have a laser printer, and laser print labels, is 100% the best option. The resulting print has a definite sheen but is not gloss-glossy IYKWIM. Of the other two, again, it’s likely the laser version will work best, and otherwise if you want a thicker sturdier piece, go for Evergreen Goods. A thinner more flexible version, PPD. And if you want to seal the inkjet ink with a spray fixative, it is likely going to be better than anything else. You can get a bundle of clear sticker paper + fixative spray (in gloss or matt) from PPD. I have it. It works. It does smell a bit, but they all do! I should test the spray over the Avery labels. That might be the magic bullet. Now, where did I put that…?

So then the only real issue is the acid-free question. And that might be a question that won’t get answered for years, when someone can look back and see if the art has deteriorated or bits have fallen off! I am not sure if I care about that. I cared deeply when I was scrapbooking and it was my photos of my kids (and even so many were duplicates or prints from digital media, so not one-of-a-kind photos) but I am not making art that I sell or that I expect to last for decades. No one cares about it but me. If I were selling it then I might buy that £100 package of Safmat from Amazon LOL! I’d be able to afford it…


A low-tech way to use your sentiment dies with printed text

I knew this idea was going to be one people liked and wanted to replicate. The probelm is the tools I use on my Mac are not ones everyone will have and I simply have no idea how to explain how to do the same process on a PC. So it has been keeping me up, considering how it might be possible to do this in a low-tech way, without any computer skills at all. It is pretty tedious, and the die I have is perhaps the most tedious of all, as the strips that will cut are not in any sort of alignment. The start spot for the text is in a totally different place every line.

The only way I can think you might be able to do this is to get out your ruler and measure. And it occurred to me that while the die has 22 spots, for ease, you could just make use of the horizontal bars only. That automatically makes the whole process a lot simpler. Taking my die as a sample, the area I would work with (starting with the first line) is 1 inch, 1/8 inch space, then 2 1/2 inches. The text can be no taller than 1/4 inch. So if I were to type a sentiment that was 1/4 inch tall and 3/4 inch long, left a 1/8 inch gap, then typed a 1/4 inch tall, 2 1/4 inch sentiment, I would have to use that as my baseline. Already I am loosing the will to live.

Now, if I look at just the easiest part of the die to deal with, I am looking at just this:

That leaves out all of the die that is problematic – the spots to fill can all be right justified (or left, if you rotate the die so the beginning is on the left) and the spots are pretty evenly spaced. So as a first try, with no real measurements beyond what I already know, I can type sentiments that are just under 1/4 inch tall to begin with, and I can group the boxes (loosely) into only a couple of sizes – the first four are close, between about 1.7 inches and 1.8, so if I aim to make four that are no longer than 1.6 I know they will fit. The next five are similar – the shortest is and the longest is 2.2 inches. If I make sentiments no longer than 2 inches they will all fit. That leaves the longest at 2.37, so I can sneak in one slightly longer sentiment of 2.2 inches. For the strip of 10 spots you need to create 10 sentiments

four lines 1.6 inches x .25 inches

five lines 2 inches x .25 inches

one line 2.2 inches x .25

This is a VERY simplified process, obviously, but it should work.

ANY text processing program will surely have the ability to size things. Once you find a font that seems to work – and for my sample I went with the bog-standard Helvetica Neue, which should be free on most computers, at 19 pt size. – type out your text and justify it. If you can create boxes, do that, but if not just create the text, using whatever tools you have in your word processing to check the sizes. Turning on the grid, if you have one, might make the process easier

If you can’t turn on a grid you either need to measure the area and work out the distance between the lines of text. My die looks to be about 1/8 inch between where I think the bottom of the text will fall and where the top of the NEXT line of text should fall, in order for it to be within the die-cut area. I spaced out my text with that gap between them. At some point the only thing you can do is to print and test it with your die!

Not quite right. But seeing the text within the spaces gives me a better idea of how to scoot the text up or down to get closer….

and finally to get it just about right.

Is it perfect? No, but then I don’t need to do it this way so I am happy to stop here, having given you an idea of how you might make something even without the program I have. I would say once you have the text placed where you want, save that file and when you want to make different ones, duplicate the file and edit the text, then test print and check you got things in line.

Sorry it isn’t easier – there is a lot of trial and error with this method (I printed 3 or 4 sample sheets before stopping where I was, and one or two more might have been needed – or much more detailed and accurate measuring and mapping to begin with) but maybe this concept will be enough for you to figure out a better way to do it for yourself!

Now, I heard the mail drop and I am betting it is the OTHER die I am waiting on…and THAT one might be more common. Watch this space.


Creating my own printable sentiments for sentiment dies

I originally planned to add some junk journal stuff today but when something I ordered came early I had to take some time out to see if I could do the thing I planned when I ordered them – and I did! Yippee!

I ordered a set of stamps with the matching die from Amazon. The brand was one I had never heard of, Alinacutle, and it was more the die than the stamps that I wanted. I like the one set OK, maybe a little heavy on the !!!s, but the other one is just not to my taste at ALL. There are only a couple of them that I think I would use.

For me, the ones on the left are just not appealing fonts. The ones on the right are…usable. They come with a die that cuts all of the sentiments in one go. That was the driver for the purchase. It took a bit of fiddling to create a template of the open areas of the die but I did it.

By scanning the empty die, backed by black cardstock, running the resulting image thru an SVG convertor, cleaning up the bits of edging that were part of the scan (although I thought of a better way to do this that will let me skip that step) and sizing it to match exactly the size of the die (with no scaling allowed by the printer!) then making the blocks light, locking them in place and overlaying and centering the text I wanted in them…

… then copying just the text and the placement dots to a new file, I could print my own sentiments in the font I wanted, in any colour, on any card, then cut them out.

I am pretty happy with them. And because I did the work to create the template, I can just plug in any sentiment, any font, at any time. I can create longer ones by using multiple spaces, I could do two line sentiments, I could make the white writing on a black or a coloured background. The only thing I can’t do is emboss them. I can live without that. I have been DYING to see if this was possible and super excited is was. I ordered another die ages ago from Wish, a banner version, so with this one and that one, I think I will have all I need.

I am super tempted to just keep making these, but I will move on to my junk journal tomorrow.

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Extended plates for the Sidekick – re-purposing old stuff and saving £18

I have mentioned in the past that I am loving my Sidekick! This is very much a case of bigger is not better for me. I still have a Grand Calibur, and a Big Shot Pro (I gave my smaller Big Shot away to the local craft club last year) and loads of cutting plates, especially for the Grand Calibur. I think at the time I was buying them you had to buy the pack of all the plates, not just the one you wanted – or maybe buying the pack was more economical. Whatever, I am glad I did it then. Here’s why:

The cutting plates that come with the Sidekick are short. About 4.5 inches by about 2.5. But actually the space allowed is slightly larger, at least 2 3/4 inches with some to spare. I have some dies that just miss out on being usable in the Sidekick and it was super annoying. Like these:

Or this one, where it is possible to cut the longer dies but only to the 4.5 inch length, so not long enough to fit across a 6 inch card front.

The first thing I did was look for extended cutting plates for the Sidekick. Someone makes them but they cost a lot more that I would have expected (between about £14 and £19, depending on the size) and that was much more than I wanted to spend. I checked out the dimensions of the plates and it is the thickness that gets you, by design I am sure. The standard Sidekick thickness is 1/8 inch, or .32cm. Places that sell cheap perspex to cut to size do round numbers, 3mm, 4mm, etc. Also annoying. I worried that the beveled end might matter a lot in getting the plates to move thru the Sidekick, but just wasn’t sure how much it would matter. I was looking at my old cutting plates, and had a brainstorm. I stacked the pink Embossing plate and the raspberry Adapter plate from the Grand Calibur on top of each other and miracle of miracles they matched the stacked Sidekick plates perfectly! Then it was just the cutting. Hard to believe, and yes, OMG it took some time, but I managed to cut thru (mostly) then snap off cleanly the raspberry plate.

I think because I had little hope it would actually work, I cut across he short width. Mistake. Knowing it DID work, I wish I had done in height-wise for a longer plate. Oh well. No WAY I was going to spend hours scoring the pink plate, as it is much thicker, so The Hubster to the rescue. The Dremel leaves a melted raggety edge, but the hacksaw gives a pretty clean cut. Actually the trick was a table saw for the two ends then a hacksaw to join the cuts – we used the tools we had, what can I say?

And, yeah, it works! BTW, the lack of a beveled edge doesn’t seem to matter at all.

I could have made it ever so slightly wider, and wish I had. I still have one piece of the pink plate we can cut, but by the time we got this one done we really needed to get to the garden centre and get on with essential tasks. But other dies I can now cut on the Sidekick include these two:

So the question becomes how much is your time worth? Or in this case, The Hubster’s time LOL! Was it worth saving the money, the shipping, the order time, etc? WHY is Sizzix missing a trick here and not offering sightly longer plates? Are they trying to push people towards the Big Shot to get that slightly longer length? And if I did get two plates, one 3mm and one 4mm, would the .6mm difference matter enough? Or the .4 if I went with 2 x 3mm? Is it worth the £10 for three 3mm and one 4mm pieces to find out? maybe….


Brush holder – recycling an unusual item

We go to Costco (or did, now we mail-order) and one of the things we buy there is spices. There are a few things we use A LOT of. Cumin, Italian herbs, Garlic, Onion flakes, and curry powder. We have had a bottle of bay leaves and one of parsley around for AGES so emptied those out an bought smaller bottles from the grocery store so we knew we were using fresh herbs. Just as I was about to toss these in the recycling bin I noticed the tops and had an A-HA! moment

The flaps at the top are one side a large open area, one side large holes. I had just bought a set of watercolour brushes and was looking for a holder that wasn’t just stuffing them in with my existing brushes and it seemed like this would fit the bill. I made one full size one for the old, big mixed media brushes by first cutting away the flaps then adding some beads to the bottom to weigh it down

The other bottle needed to be shortened, as the brush handles were not so long. Not beautiful, because the bottle is curved and with ridges for grip when shaking the herbs into a pot, I am guessing.

I managed to find an old bare wood mount from a stamp that fit inside to both divide the space and help keep the shortest handled brushes upright and the weight the bottom at the same time

I used some decorative packing tape to re-join the top and bottom and added a belly band of decorative paper to disguise the join and

I might consider poking some drainage holes in the bottom of the next ones – the other spices are in square bottles, with the same lid arrangement, although the number of holes is fewer and smaller. But still useful, I think.

And now my next 100 days page:

Today is Freedom day! Already looking forward to meeting my knitting buddy in the garden, socially distanced, if the weather holds. It better.


Still making stamps

I had fun making stamps yesterday and decided to try out a few of the new dies I got to see how they might work.

I had a bit of sticky-backed fun foam laying around and that seemed to be just the ticket. I got a set of sweet little flowers, leaves and a round frame from Make The Day Special.  Emily is just home with her new baby but her DH managed to drop off a box of goodies to the crop.  These are a new brand to me, called Lea’bilities.

I knew that thin edge of the frame would be hell to get place properly in a neat circle, so having that backing meant I could peel off just the bits I wanted, and leave the backing on the debris.

I cut a back for my stamp – I have been holding on to a ton of plastic packaging – this is one of the TH embossing folder packs. I just cut a chunk from one of the windows that hold the folders.

I stuck the backing over the sticky frame, then pulled out the debris – that still had the backing on it so it didn’t stick and came out easily!

That left me with a pretty good circle – the foam stretches, so I knew I had NO chance of getting it stuck otherwise.

I just add a bit of adhesive (Herma dots) to the back of the plastic and stick it to my mount.  as the foam is squidgy anyway, I don’t feel a cushion is needed.

Ink and stamp! This is with Barn Door Distress Ink.

Not bad.  And the little flowers?  They make a nice two-layer stamp. Even the tiny little teardrops cut perfectly fine.

Stamp the shadow flower first in a light ink then overstamp with the cut flower:

Personally I think these sorts of stamps look best over something else.  The impression is not as crisp as with a rubber or clear stamp.  But I think the frame above would look great embossed, or fab over patterned paper where the softer edges wouldn’t matter as much. I’m working on another one for tomorrow, and it’s shaping up to be pretty neat. I’d like to make a card with it, because for a lot of people I know it’s hard to imagine what it will look like.  My card making skills are well rusty so that will be good anyway.

It really is making me look at my dies in a whole new way.