D is for … Distress

Alphabet Series, Birthday Cards

Like most crafters, Tim Holtz’s Distress Inks have been on my radar for donkey’s years. It’s only recently that I’ve actually started using them, though.

You’ve seen me blending these inks on my blog before (and have probably noticed that I still have very few colours!) so today I tried something different – the ‘squashing’ or ‘smooshing’ technique. (Technical terms are rife in cardmaking.)

D is for Distress

This is quite a technique-happy card for me! Bit of die-cutting, bit of embossing, and a bit of distressing. Nothing too difficult but then I’m not so good at the difficult stuff!

Anyway, the way to do the squashy technique is to grab some acetate and stamp your distress ink pad on to it, then spray with some water. Then you can press that inky acetate directly over your card and it will transfer in this splotchy way. You can either press the whole thing down or just dab so that only certain spots will transfer.

I did this first with Antique Linen and then once that had partly dried, I did the same again with Peacock Feathers. Then I die-cut a heart out of the distressed card and laid it on my blank card to mark the inside of the heart out, so I would know where to stamp my sentiment.

Then I adhered the distressed card with foam adhesive so it would stick up and the heart would frame the sentiment. I could have left it as it was, but I wanted to use my new embossing folder! So I embossed a piece of white card and cut out the oval.Then I stamped ‘happy birthday’ and heat-embossed in silver. Finally I added a few sequins.

You can do so much with Distress Inks – not only can you create amazing backgrounds, but they also work for colouring stamps in, as they can be used like paints. They are definitely worth collecting!


Tim Holtz Distress Inks in ‘Peacock Feathers’ and ‘Antique Linen’ – http://rangerink.com/?product=tim-holtz%C2%AE-distress-ink-pads

Birthday sentiments stamps – clearlybesottedstamps.com

Sequins and X Cut hearts dies – www.hobbycraft.co.uk

Fancy Flourish embossing folder – free gift from http://www.papercraftmagazines.com/ (Issue 135 of Simply Cards & Papercraft – still available to buy!)


C is for… Critters

Alphabet Series, Baby Cards, Get Well Cards, Wedding Cards

Wow, 3 posts in 3 days! I must be on a roll!

Critters make the best stamps! So many brands have such different takes on animals. You can go for gorgeous realism or cutesy-cuddly. I’ve showcased a few cards here that I made with some of my favourite critters.

Bunnies’ Wedding Card

Products: Sizzix embossing folder, Anita's plain vellum, Mama Elephant bunny, hat and flowers stamps, Inkadinkado wedding sentiment, ribbon, Hobbycraft silver card blank

Products: Sizzix embossing folder, Anita’s plain vellum, Mama Elephant bunny, hat and flowers stamps, Inkadinkado wedding sentiment, ribbon, Hobbycraft silver card blank

First I embossed the white card, putting it through my machine twice as the embossing folder is only little. It leaves a line where the halves meet, so I hid it with ribbon.

Mr and Mrs Bunny are coloured with Spectrum Noir pencils and Gamsol, and die-cut out with coordinating dies. (These definitely save time, but are not a necessity. If you just like the border it leaves, you can always do that yourself with scissors instead of cutting right around the edges.)

I cut a strip of vellum and embossed the greeting to finish off.

Get Well Soon Teddy Bear

Products:  Hobbycraft teddy bear stamp, Kaisercraft woodgrain stamp, Lawn Fawn hippo notecard and get well soon sentiment

Products: Hobbycraft teddy bear stamp, Kaisercraft woodgrain stamp, Lawn Fawn hippo notecard and get well soon sentiment

If you love critters, get yourself down to Hobbycraft! I adore these single stamps they do from 50p  each. This teddy works so well for all types of card, especially new baby announcements and young children’s cards, but as you can see his face is so sweet and mournful you can even use him for a get well card!

I stamped “Get well soon” on white card and cut it so that it was like a banner, then stamped a woodgrain background in brown ink. I then cut two hearts out of this and stamped my teddy.

He is coloured with Spectrum Noir pens, using different shades of grey for dimension. I stuck it all down on a Lawn Fawn notecard then tied baker’s twine in a bow at the top.

Baby Card

Products: Clear Wink of Stella, Spectrum Noir coloured pencils, rub-on transfers, Lawn Fawn 'love' speech bubble stamp, coloured sequins

Products: Clear Wink of Stella, Spectrum Noir coloured pencils, rub-on transfers, Lawn Fawn ‘love’ speech bubble stamp, coloured sequins

Although I’m not a massive fan of babies, for some reason I love making baby cards. I think it’s because your colour palette is pretty much decided for you (in most circumstances, yellow, blue or pink) and I’m not so good with thinking about colour…

This Stampendous chick is the focal point of this card. I bought him around Easter but I don’t send Easter cards, and thought he would be perfect for new baby announcements/cards etc.

Even though I’ve decided he’s a he, this stamp is great for either boys or girls!

To make the card, I stamped the chick twice and also stamped the speech bubble love sentiment. I fussy-cut them out, except for the second chick – here I only cut out the top part of the eggshell, as I planned to 3D it up with some foam adhesive.

The chick is coloured with Spectrum Noir pencils and clear Wink of Stella. (My black ink is a nightmare for bleeding, so he looks kind of grimy!)

I stuck the chick down with foam adhesive and stuck the eggshell up on top. The ‘baby’ word is a rub-on sentiment, and I absolutely love those! Sometimes you just can’t be bothered to go and find a stamp, so rub-ons are great for ease of application, and no inky fingers!

Finally I adhered the speech bubble with double-sided tape and glued down the sequins.

I’ve captioned the photos with brand names of products, but if you want to know where to get something just ask me 🙂 I’ll try my best to remember where it came from!

B is for… Big Shot

Alphabet Series

You might have been thinking about a die-cutting machine for a long time now. Or you might have only just heard of them. Either way, they’re very tempting. Who doesn’t hate trying to neatly cut out circles by hand? Who isn’t gobsmacked by the intricate designs available from the likes of Tattered Lace?

I’ve been card-making since my GCSEs, but it was only last year I (or rather, my bank balance) took the plunge and bought a die-cutting machine. I’m definitely not an expert, but for those of you wondering if it’s worth investing, I want to tell you about my experiences with Sizzix’s Big Shot.

First Impressions

It took a few practices before I felt comfortable using my fancy new toy. I opted for the Big Shot Starter Kit because it comes with a collection of dies so you can start playing straight away. I don’t use many of these dies anymore, but they still come in handy now and then.

It’s a scary moment when you hear the plates crackling and you convince yourself you’ve broken it already, but don’t panic, you hear these noises from time to time. Also, don’t expect the plates to stay lovely and smoothly like those on telly (ruining the illusion – they use new ones every time!), They have to be replaced quite regularly as the indentations from dies can end up marking your projects over time.

The Big Shot comes with a multi-purpose platform that even now I still get mixed up with. I can never remember which level to use embossing folders with. But you’ll learn with practice, just keep giving it a go.

Worth It?

The Big Shot actually isn’t badly priced compared to a lot of other machines on the market. The starter kit is around £80.00, but you can get it cheaper if you shop around on sites like Amazon. I thought this was a good price to pay when I knew I was getting patterned papers, an embossing folder and some dies to go with my machine.

As I’ve already mentioned, the ease of cutting out circles alone is enough to make this machine worth the money. But you’ll find you can do a lot more once you have one – for example, shaker cards are much, much easier with a die-cutting machine to help you. A lot of people also love coordinating dies, though I’m happy to fussy-cut most of the time. However, if you have arthritis, tendonitis or any similar problems, you might find these dies to be a blessing.

I’m a big fan of polaroid cards too, and this would be much harder to achieve without a die-cutting machine. It also does more than just cut out – you can get dies with stitched and pierced effects too, so don’t assume your machine is a one-trick pony.

Although I wouldn’t say the Big Shot has paid for itself, since I don’t sell my cards, I do think it was worth investing in. I do, however, sometimes feel that I never stop paying for it – there is always a new die or embossing folder I want, and I really resent paying for new plates ever couple of months, even if they’re not that expensive.

Weigh up the pros and cons and see what you think. You can ask for a demonstration in craft shops, too, so you can see for yourself how easy it is!

A is for… Art Impressions

Alphabet Series, Birthday Cards

I’ve had an exciting idea for a new card series! To me, it’s important to keep making even during a creative block, and the Manly Card Monday challenge I set myself has really helped me to do that. I’ve now come up with something a bit different – an alphabet series!

I’ll be posting something each week that relates to a letter of the alphabet, whether that is a new card, a brand I like, a review of a new product and so on.

This week A is for… Art Impressions! 


Art Impressions is a US brand with a range of stamp styles, but my favourites are the human images. They have some hilarious grannies and granddads (the “Golden Oldies” range) and also the “Girlfriends” set, on whom the Sex and the City girls are not a patch! 😉

They also have more elegant styles, great sentiments and cute animals, both realistic and cartoony. They’re probably known best for their ‘front-and-back’ images, though. These make for such memorable cards – you can have someone peeking through a window then when opened it reveals the back of the image, which can make for a funny card in a lot of cases. You can also make spinner cards really easily with these kinds of stamps.

I’m not sure if people living in America would consider them expensive, but like with most overseas brands, it can add up a lot if you’re buying them in the UK. So far, I’ve found the best website for them to be Amazon, as you don’t generally get all the extra charges for buying from abroad with them. The UK websites I’ve found that sell them are still a bit out of my budget.

I’ll definitely look into building up my collection of AI stamps, but so far I only own one – a fun, sassy, borderline alcoholic (she’s called Celeste). I’ve made a card to showcase her:

Celeste Art Impressions card Celeste inside of card

My Art Impressions Wishlist:

“Fire Out” – http://www.artimpressions.com/Product.asp?Sku=4371

“Little Monster” – http://www.artimpressions.com/Product.asp?Sku=4320

“Bull Terrier” – http://www.artimpressions.com/Product.asp?Sku=F977&ProductName=Bull+Terrier

“Bummer” – http://www.artimpressions.com/Product.asp?Sku=4241&ProductName=Bummer+Set

“Birthday Whoot Set” – http://www.artimpressions.com/Product.asp?Sku=4125&ProductName=Birthday+Whoot+Set

Products Used on the Card:

Let’s Polka paper, An Otterly Great Birthday & Milo’s ABCs stamps – makethedayspecial.co.uk

Copic markers & Art Impressions “Celeste” stamp set – amazon.co.uk

Sequins & Spectrum Noir markers – hobbycraft.co.uk