Apr 232015

There is more than one way to make your own envelope, as well as more than one tool that will get the job done. That’s why I hemmed and hawed about purchasing a We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board, when I already owned a Martha Stewart Crafts® Scoring Board that enabled me to make perfectly serviceable envelopes. In the end, I caved in to curiosity, and discovered I had purchased much more than an envelope-making gadget. By combining it with other commonly-available tools (such as a paper trimmer and a hole punch), you can make envelope liners, index tabs, tab divider pages, tabbed folders, gift boxes, and more.

Before I compare both tools’ capacity to create the same envelope, let’s take a look at their physical features.

Just the Facts

The Martha Stewart Crafts® Scoring Board, which sells for $19.99, measures 13 inches wide by 14.25 inches tall, and includes vertical and horizontal edge rulers in eighth-inch increments, with corresponding scoring grooves. Both rulers accommodate up to 12.5 inches. A lidded compartment provides charts for standard card sizes, gatefold cards, boxes and lids. A triangle-shaped envelope guide slides beneath the board for storage, and includes a chart for making envelopes for dimensional cards. All measurements are in inches.

Martha Stewart Crafts Scoring Board

The We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board, which retails for $19.99, measures 10.5 inches wide by 6.75 inches tall, and includes parallel inch and metric rulers at the top edge of the tool. The 5-inch ruler is divided into eighths of an inch, printed in white.  The 13-centimeter ruler below it has grooved millimeter markings. The board includes a dual-sided punch, with one side for envelopes, and the other side for rounding corners. Directions for use, along with a chart for making 66 different card sizes, are screen printed on the top surface of the tool. Metric measurements are printed on a separate sheet and accompany any purchase. The A2 measurement on my punch board is incorrect, indicating a card size of 4.5 by 5.5 inches instead of 4.25 by 5.5 inches. Although later versions of this board may have corrected this error, I want to point out that the Stampin’ Up Envelope Punch Board, identical to the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board because both were made by the same company, has the correct information. I watched a video on YouTube that provided these suggestions:

  • Card size measures 4.25 x 5.5 inches (when it’s folded).
  • Paper size for envelope measures 8 x 8 inches.
  • Score line is at 3.5 inches.

We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board

If you bought one of the early versions of this tool (earlier than mine, which I bought in 2014), your Envelope Punch Board may have at least eight errors, which can be corrected by printing out this sheet and taping it to your board.Corrections to We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch BoardBoth the Martha Stewart Crafts® Scoring Board and the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board come with a scoring tool that doubles as a bone folder. The Martha Stewart scoring tool is tucked inside the lidded compartment, while the We R Memory Keepers scoring tool tucks into a side slot on the punch board. I often substitute the Martha Stewart Crafts® Bone Folder or the Fiskars Dual-Tip Stylus Embossing Tool for the one included with the Martha Steward board because I think each of these fits better in the scoring grooves and thus scores more easily.

From top to bottom: Fiskars, Martha Stewart Bone Folder, Martha Stewart Crafts Scoring Board Bone Folder

From top to bottom: Fiskars Dual-Tip Stylus Embossing Tool, Martha Stewart Bone Folder, Martha Stewart Crafts Scoring Board Bone Folder

Alternate Uses

This post is not intended to be an encyclopedia article, citing all alternate uses for the Martha Stewart Crafts® Scoring Board and the We Re Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board. However, it’s a fact that while both do envelopes easily and well, both can also be used for other projects. This post provides links to a good selection of them.

The Martha Stewart Crafts® Scoring Board’s advertised uses include invitations (or cards), envelopes, boxes and unspecified “other projects.” Links to tutorials for these and other projects that you might wish to explore can be found here:

The We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board’s advertised uses include envelopes, fold tabs and rounded corners. Tutorials for these uses, as well as some other projects you can check out, are as follows:

Click on this image to watch a video about Crafty Owl's Box Buster app that allows you to create just about any size box you need with your Envelope Punch Board.

Click on this image to watch a video about Crafty Owl’s Box Buster app that allows you to create just about any size box you need with your Envelope Punch Board.

This is a screenshot of the Box Buster tool in action. You enter the desired box depth, height and width, and the app will tell you what size to cut your paper, and where the first and second punches should go. Easy-peasy!

This is a screenshot of the Box Buster tool in action. You enter the desired box depth, height and width, and the app will tell you what size to cut your paper, and where the first and second punches should go. Easy-peasy! Visit http://www.thecraftyowl.co.uk/boxbuster/, or click on this image.

Making a Non-Standard Sized Envelope

I offer my MisterPenQuin customers a free mini note card when they purchase an item from my shop. The card measures 2 by 2 inches, but I have never found envelopes to match them. Neither the Martha Stewart Crafts® Scoring Board nor the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board offers envelope dimensions for such a small card. Through trial-and-error, I discovered that I can make an envelope that works, but the folded tips look a little funky where they meet. I use a circle punch to modify it, and think that looks marginally better. My “recipe” for this mini envelope, using the Martha Stewart Crafts® Scoring Board, is as follows:

  • Cut the paper 4-5/8 x 4-5/8 inches.
  • Score and fold at 2 inches on all sides.
  • Use a circle punch to punch a half-circle as shown below.

Mini Envelope with Scoring Board

I was curious to know whether I could use the same instructions for the mini envelope with the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board, but as you can see when the shapes sit side by side, as well as when the envelope is finished, it is just a little bit too large. If I needed a mini envelope for a dimensional card, however, this might work just fine.

In both photos, the envelope on the left was made using the Martha Stewart Crafts Scoring Board. The envelope on the right was made using the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board.

In both photos, the envelope on the left was made using the Martha Stewart Crafts Scoring Board. The envelope on the right was made using the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board.

I discovered, by visiting the We R Memory Keepers Web site, that they recently developed an app called Envelope Generator for just about any size envelope you might need, so if the size you’re looking for isn’t printed on your punch board, you can come up with the paper size and scoring line this way. The app is designed for iOS and Android phones and tablets, but if you don’t have one of these, you can visit the Web site instead and use the online version of Envelope Generator. It’s quite easy to use. Just enter the dimensions of your card, and click on Generate. The app tells you what size paper you need to cut, in my case a square that measures 7-5/8 by 7-5/8 inches, as well as where to score. For my mini envelope, that’s the 2-inch mark.

Envelope Generator

Click on this image to visit Envelope Generator online.

The 1-2-3 Punch Board

You’ll notice that the Envelope Generator app refers to a “1-2-3 Punch Board,” which was introduced at CHA 2015 and will be coming out soon in your local craft stores and online. This punch board’s advertised uses are envelopes, boxes, and bows, but the idea booklet that accompanies the tool also provides instructions for envelope liners, tabbed file folders and coin envelopes. Tutorial links for those same items are in this post using the Envelope Punch Board, so don’t despair if you recently bought one and are just now hearing about the “new and improved” 1-2-3 Punch Board. The main difference is ease of use. In the spirit of fairness, however, take a look at the video below and decided for yourself if you really need to replace your Envelope Punch Board. At the time this post was written, you could get a special deal for the We R Memory Keepers Punch Board Party Collection on HSN that includes the 1-2-3 Punch Board, a Banner Punch, and some extra supplies for $59.95, plus shipping. Do I plan on replacing my Envelope Punch Board? Not at this time, especially since I own some of the other We R Memory Keepers punch boards and there is some duplication in function already. But I’m tempted!

If you don’t have a scoring board—the Martha Stewart one, Scor-Pal or any of a number of other types—that’s a good place to start for creating cards, envelopes, boxes, rosettes and many other projects. By combining a scoring board, paper trimmer, and the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board (or the soon-to-be-released 1-2-3 Punch Board), there’s probably no limit to what you can accomplish. What tools do you use to make some of the items described in this post?

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Aug 312012

The first time I stepped into a scrapbooking store to buy a rubber stamp and a stamping ink, I almost turned around and exited. There were just too many choices! I almost felt as if I needed to take an art class before I could shop, which would’ve been the second art class I’d ever taken. I took Art Class Number One more than a decade ago, a basic drawing class for adults with six thumbs. I still have more thumbs than I need when it comes to drawing, but I’ve learned a few other things along the way.

Thankfully, it is is easy to learn about paper crafting inks and techniques. Scrapbooking stores everywhere provide project classes for their customers on a regular basis; paper crafting manufacturers and bloggers alike offer how-to hints on the Internet; YouTube has a wealth of tutorials, and every bookstore has paper crafting books and magazines. One of my favorite resources about inking techniques, in fact, is Jennifer McGuire’s Thinking Inking classes. Between all of these resources, I’ve gradually learned the differences between pigment and dye inks, and when to use chalk ink, archival ink, distressed ink, embossing ink, watermark ink and other inks. I’m sure there are a few I’ve missed!

I learned how to use different kinds of inks and inking techniques while making these cards at a local scrapbooking store.

Although there are categories of inks I have not covered, below is a description of the most commonly used paper crafting inks. You’ll notice that some inks fit in more than one category.

Archival ink is water-resistant, acid-free and great for archival purposes. It can be water, pigment, or solvent-based. Archival ink is also great for stamping outlines of objects that you want to color in with other inks, since it will not smear or dilute when other types of ink come in contact with it.

Examples:  Brilliance Archival Pigment Ink Pad by Tsukineko, Copic® Multi Liner Pen, Ranger Archival Ink

Dye inks are water-based and dry quickly on either matte or glossy paper. They are not appropriate for embossing because they dry too quickly. Because they have a transparent quality, you can create watercolor effects with them. If you are stamping on absorbent surfaces, the ink may bleed when you stamp with it; glossy paper yields crisper stamping results. Dye inks do have a tendency to fade over time, especially when exposed to light.

Examples: Adirondack® Dye Ink Pad by Ranger, Hero Hues™ Dye Ink, Impress Dye Ink by Tsukineko, Kaleidacolor Stamp Pads by Tsukineko, Memento by Tsukineko, Tim Holtz® Adirondack® Color Wash

Distress ink is a water-based, acid-free dye ink that is designed to spread to other areas when diluted with water. It is perfect for blending with other colors of distress ink. It comes in stamp pads, markers and bottles. For many of these inks, you can buy re-inkers to extend the life of your stamp pad. You can mix up your own spray bottle of distress ink by combining inkdrops with water.

Examples: Tim Holtz® Distress Ink by Ranger, Tim Holtz® Distress Marker by Ranger, Tim Holtz® Distress Stain™

Embossing ink is glycerin-based and dries very slowly. It is intended to be used with embossing powder. When you heat the powder, it melts and adheres to the ink, creating a raised surface that is permanent. Embossing ink is available in both opaque and clear forms. The main advantage to opaque embossing ink is that you can see clearly where you have stamped. If you use clear embossing ink, it can also be used as a resist; ink your surface first, then brayer over it with colored ink or paint.

Examples: EMBOSS Embossing Stamp Pad by Tsukineko, Inkssentials™ Emboss it by Ranger

Pigment inks are thick, opaque, slow-drying and fade-resistant inks that are designed to be used with embossing powders. You can use virtually any color of pigment ink with an embossing powder since it is covered by the powder when heat set; it is not necessary to match your pigment ink to the embossing powder. You can also blend several different colors of this ink for special effects. If you stamp pigment ink onto glossy paper, you will need to heat set it or emboss it to make it permanent. Some pigment inks are designed to be heat set, which makes the color permanent and the colors more vibrant. With heat-set pigment inks, you can stamp paper, fabric and slick surfaces.

Examples: Adirondack® Pigment Ink by Ranger, Copic® Multi Liner Pen, VersaColor™ Ultimate Pigment Ink by Tsukineko, VersaFine™ by Tsukineko, VersaMagic™ by Tsukineko, VersaMark® by Tsukineko

Chalk inks have a pigment base, and dry very quickly. When they are dry, they have a matte, powdery finish. They are not appropriate for embossing.

Examples: ColorBox® Chalk, Hero Hues™ Chalk Ink

Metallic and pearlescent inks are pigment inks that dry faster than most other pigment inks, but with a metallic or luminescent sheen. You’ll find them in stamp pads and spray bottles.

Examples: Brilliance and Encore Ultimate Metallics byTsukineko, ColorBox® Pigment Stamp Pad, ColorBox® Pigment Brush Pad, Perfect Pearls™ Mists by Ranger, Pssst! Sheer Shimmer Spritz by Tsukineko

Watermark inks are a type of pigment ink designed to create translucent designs or background designs. When you stamp them on colored paper, they darken the paper. Chalk can be applied to the ink, creating a shadow effect, or the ink can be used as a resist.

Example: VersaMark® Watermark Stamp Pad by Tsukineko

Solvent-based inks are designed for non-porous surfaces such as glass, metal or plastic–or glossy papers. You can find them in stamp pad form, paints and markers. They are permanent and waterproof when dry, and are considered archival.

Examples: Copic® Sketch Marker, Tim Holtz Adirondack® Alcohol Ink by Ranger, StāzOn® Opaque by Tsukineko, Piñata Alcohol Ink by Jacquard

If you are unsure about the properties of an ink you want to use, I recommend visiting the manufacturer’s Web site for details and product suggestions:

Let me know what inks you would add to this list of commonly-used paper crafting inks.


  • Andrus, Julia. Paper Transformed: A Handbook of Surface-Design Recipes and Creative Paper Projects. Quarry Books, 2007.
  • Curry, Nancy. Texture Effects for Rubber Stamping. North Light Books, 2004.
  • Holtz, Tim. A Compendium of Curiosities. Advantus Corporation, 2010.
  • Taormina, Grace. The Complete Guide to Rubber Stamping. Watson-Guptill Crafts, 1996.

© 2012 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.


Dec 022009

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum
wie treu sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur
zur Sommerzeit,
Nein auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
wie treu sind deine Blätter!

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!
In beauty green will always grow
Through summer sun and winter snow.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
How lovely are your branches!

The lyrics to the above Christmas carol about a Tannenbaum, or traditional German fir tree, are just as popular today as they were back in 1824, when they were written by German organist Ernst Anschütz. In fact, the melody to the song has been adopted by Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, and New Jersey for their state song.

Germans are often credited with the custom of the decorated Christmas tree, although likely the custom dates back to a pre-Christian era. Common folklore tells the story of a monk named Boniface from Devonshire who traveled to Thüringen (Thuringia) in central Germany during the 600s to preach Christianity. It was said that he used the triangular shape of the Tannenbaum to describe the Holy Trinity, which caused people to think of the fir tree as God’s tree. Whether this story is true or not, it is a fact that a Christmas tree decorating industry grew up around Thüringen, which became known for its Glaskugeln (glass ball ornaments) and Lametta (tinsel cut from wafer-thin strips of silver). By 1850, the small town of Lauscha, in this region, became famous for its garlands made from blown glass bugles and beads.

In the mid-1800s, the custom of decorating a live fir tree for Christmas was so widespread that Germans became concerned about deforestation. It was customary for the tops of fir trees to be lopped off since this formed the perfect shape for a holiday tree, but it also prevented future growth and made the tree useless for timber. Laws were passed to limit families to just one tree, and subsequently the birth of artificial trees took place in the form of the Federbaum, or feather tree.

Holiday Feather Tree–Made from Vintage Tinsel Pipe Cleaners
and a Wooden ABC Block,

The earliest German feather trees were made from goose feathers that were dyed green and attached to metal wire or wood dowels. They resembled the white pine trees found in Germany’s mountains, with short-needled branches spaced widely apart, which made both the white pine and the feather tree perfect for hanging ornaments. Composition berries were usually attached to the end of every branch, often serving as candle holders. When Germans immigrated to the United States, particularly Pennsylvania and Texas, they brought their feather trees with them.

Although the commercial version of the feather tree did not really become commonplace until the second decade of the 20th century, there is a story about President Theodore Roosevelt introducing goose feather trees into the White House as the result of his two sons, Archie and Quentin, smuggling a live tree into Archie’s bedroom in defiance of their father’s order that no live trees be used for holiday decorations. True or not, the road for manufactured feather trees was paved in 1913 when Sears Roebuck advertised the first artificial trees in its catalog. These trees featured berries and candle holders on the tips of the branches, much like the handcrafted feather trees that the Germans designed, and a round or square white painted wooden base.  By the 1920s, the use of feather trees in the U.S. was widespread, with trees ranging in size from just 2 inches high to 30 inches, and later as tall as eight feet.

Their popularity was relatively short, however. Just 10 years later, the growth of the tree farm industry caused the use of feather trees to decline. Montgomery Ward began selling feather trees imported from Germany in a wider selection of colors during the 1930s, in the hope that these would catch on, but this did not happen. During World War II, feather trees pretty much disappeared from the landscape when they were no longer imported from Germany.

In the 1950s artificial trees emerged that were made with brush bristles, visca and aluminum, and later with fiberglass and vinyl; these replaced the feather tree. The Kansas Historical Society shares the following description of an aluminum tree from the Sears 1963 Christmas Book:

Whether you decorate with blue or red balls . . . or use the tree without ornaments – this exquisite tree is sure to be the talk of your neighborhood. High luster aluminum gives a dazzling brilliance. Shimmering silvery branches are swirled and tapered to a handsome realistic fullness. It’s really durable . . needles are glued and mechanically locked on. Fireproof . . you can use it year after year.

Today the feather tree is often associated with period history, especially German-American immigrant history, a Victorian Christmas, folk crafts and antique collectibles. On Etsy, you’ll see the feather tree motif used in hooked rugs and needlework, and a few artisans make table top feather trees by hand. Wood dowel versions of feather trees are also used by needle artists to hang decorations; I own one on which I hang perforated paper cross stitch ornaments.

While their use is no longer common, feather trees today are a link to the past, evoking nostalgic childhood memories and a longing for handmade holidays. Perhaps that is part of the charm of the handmade ornaments shown below that have been crafted by BBEST artists, any of which would look wonderful on a traditional Federbaum.

offered by Nonnie60

© 2009 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at http://boomersandbeyond.blogspot.com.