May 232015
 

I don’t go to my local scrapbook store, Memory Bound, every week (although I think about it!), but I visited the store Friday evening after I received an e-mail that announced some new Tim Holtz products had arrived. If you’ve been reading my posts here, then you know already that I am a Tim Holtz fan. I use his Distress ink stamp pads, some of the Distress ink markers and paints, own all three of his technique books, and have many of his paper cutting dies and other paper crafting tools.

Tim Holtz Distress Products

The items described in the Memory Bound e-mail included the Tim Holtz Distress Refresher, Distress Sprayer, Distress Micro Glaze, and DIY Distress Ink Pad, all of which are described on Tim Holtz’ Web site HERE. I was pretty sure I could use the first three products, but wasn’t sure about the DIY Distress Ink Pad. Here’s what I learned about these accessories, designed to work with the Tim Holtz Distress line of products. If you’re unfamiliar with the inks, their main advantage is that they are water-reactive and that you can create interesting and beautiful blending effects with them.

The Tim Holtz Distress Refresher is an essential accessory if you use Distress ink stamp pads, markers or paints because it prolongs the life of your products. It is made of a mixture of water and gel, designed to moisturize and condition your stamp pads, the brush tips of your markers, and the foam applicator tops of your paint bottles. When your stamp pad begins to get dry, you don’t necessarily need to re-ink it, but can instead spray the pad once or twice with Distress Refresher, then close the lid and wait about five minutes to let the liquid soak in. For the markers, do the same: spray once or twice, cap the marker, and wait five minutes before using. Spray your non-stick craft mat once or twice with the Distress Refresher, turn your Distress Paint bottle upside down, and swish the foam applicator in the liquid a few times, cap it, and once more, wait five minutes.

Tim Holtz Distress Refresher

The Tim Holtz Distress Sprayer is an empty spray bottle, but not an ordinary one. Tim Holtz points out in his video, Distress Sprayer, that every sprayer is different, which is why you don’t always get the same results he does in his tutorials or trade show demonstrations. The Tim Holtz Distress Sprayer is designed specifically to hold water (although you could technically mix up your own colored or glitter sprays), and has a button in the trigger head that blocks water flow if you want to pack the bottle in a bag and not have it leak. When you depress the trigger fully, the sprayer releases a fine, even spray. If you depress the trigger partially, it releases water clumplets, which create a specific blending effect that’s different from when you use a fine spray. The bottle holds four ounces of water, where many other brands of craft spray bottles hold two ounces.

Tim Holtz Distress Sprayer

Tim Holtz Distress Micro Glaze sells in a one-ounce jar and is my favorite new accessory of the four described in this post. Inside is a paste-like product that reminds me of wax. The purpose of this product is to prevent Distress inks from reacting with water once your work of art is finished. Tim Holtz says the product is the result of a collaboration between Ranger Ink and Skycraft, the original maker of the micro glaze.

Tim Holtz Distress MIcro Glaze

You put a little bit on your fingertip, and rub it into any porous surface, let it dry, and then buff off the excess with a clean cloth or paper towel. A little bit goes a long way. You can use Distress Micro Glaze with any of the Tim Holtz Distress products, but also with any watercolor products, markers that react with water, inkjet-printed art, and basically anything that needs to be water-resistant. If you visit the Skycraft About page, it describes even more uses for the petroleum-based, acid-free product with a slight citrus-y scent. You can even use it to make leather stain-resistant, on metals to prevent rust and corrosion, and on wood to protect and polish it. A little while ago I wrote a post about an address book I created that featured a watercolor effect on the cover using Distress inks. I hadn’t listed it in my shop yet because I wanted to come up with a solution that prevented the inks from running if someone accidentally spilled a drop of water or other liquid on it. This was the solution. As you can tell from the photo, the micro glaze is clear and matte when dry, and none of the inks smeared when I applied it.Address BookThe final new Distress accessory from Tim Holtz, described in this post, is the DIY Distress Ink Pad. This product is designed so that you can combine multiple Distress inks to make your own custom ink pad. You fill the eye dropper from a Distress Re-inker with ink, then paint a narrow section of the pad with ink. Repeat this with other colors until the white stamp pad is completely filled with color. Then take a credit card or plastic scraping tool, and pull down the length of the stripes you’ve created to drive the ink down into the pad. Then cover the stamp pad with the provided lid, and let it sit for 10 minutes before using the pad. The lid is covered with a special paper that takes the custom ink, so go ahead and roll a brayer over the stamp pad, and then roll out your custom color on the lid so you’ll know at a glance what your custom color looks like. To be honest, this is probably the accessory for which I have the least use. I tend to ink up spots on a craft mat with my Distress inks, and then paint with the inks–either with a dry paint brush or a wet one, and that allows me to create any custom colors I need. But if you want a larger amount of a custom color that you plan on using often, the DIY Distress Ink Pad is the way to go.

Tim Holtz DIY Distress Ink PadThese new Distress accessories from Tim Holtz are handy and will sell quickly in my local craft store, I suspect. Have you worked with any of these products yet, or plan on using them?

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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May 052015
 

There are a number of ways to assemble a photo collage and post it to your blog, Web site or social networking site. Because I’m active on Etsy, I typically do Etsy treasury collages, which allow for 16 items or product photos to be featured. This post discusses not only Etsy treasury photo collages, but also photo collages you create outside of Etsy that have clickable photos. For the purposes of comparison, each collage in this post will use the same set of six photos.

Etsy treasury as a screenshot

It’s easy to create an Etsy product collage by using Etsy’s Treasury feature, saving a screenshot of the treasury, and uploading it to your blog or Web site site, such as the one below. Many laptops and computers come with a “snipping tool” that allows you to take screenshots, but I prefer to use a browser add-on called Fireshot Pro for Firefox. It’s not free and is currently priced at $39.95, but you pay only once, and updates are free. Remember that while this Etsy treasury only has six photos, normally a treasury includes up to 16 images. The individual images are not clickable, but when you click on any part of the collage as a whole, you’re taken to the treasury page on Etsy because I linked the URL (Web address) of the treasury to it. If you type this same URL into a social networking site, in most cases the image will also appear.

Stylish Home’s Etsy Treasury Posting Tool

Sometimes you want the individual images in your treasury to be clickable. You’ll need an app to help you with this. To be honest, my experience with apps that create Etsy treasury collages has been sketchy. I used Stylish Home’s Etsy Treasury Posting Tool with success for the better part of a year, but one day it stopped working entirely, leaving blanks in my posts where the treasury was supposed to be. This app generates HTML code you can insert into your blog post that produces individual clickable images from an Etsy treasury. Perhaps this app has been fixed by now, but I’m not taking a chance.

Craft Cult-generated HTML code for Etsy treasuries

Craft Cult’s treasury widget is just like Stylish Home’s in that it generates HTML code that you can copy and paste into your blog or Web site, and the code produces individual clickable images. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t work, and when that happens, you end up with no image at all, but instead with blank space. Not good. If you use an app like Craft Cult on its “good days,” it’s important to make sure you select the snapshot version of HTML code, not the dynamic one. Why? The snapshot version is static, like a screenshot, and never changes. The dynamic version is changeable and reflects what happens when items are sold or don’t get re-listed when the listing expires. And then you get blank spots in your treasury that look pretty strange days, weeks or months later. If you delete the treasury or your treasury is set to be “private,” the same thing happens. When it works, a Craft Cult-generated Etsy treasury looks like the one below, with individually clickable images. I added the HTML code to this post after I proofread it because sometimes, when I use this widget, the HTML code stops working after the post is edited. In a word, this widget can be buggy. The treasury below is the large version. That large white space that follows the treasury is a bug—whether it’s caused by Craft Cult or WordPress is not clear, but obviously there’s not a good marriage between the app and WordPress. Sometimes it seems to slow down page loads. I don’t plan on using the Craft Cult widget anytime soon!

5/5/15 note: I edited this post one day later, and the widget did indeed stop working, and it slowed down the loading of my Web site. As a result, I have removed the code, and the image you see below is not generated by Craft Cult, but is instead a screenshot of the preview from the Craft Cult site. This preview image is not, of course, clickable. I don’t recommend this widget!

This is a Craft Cult screen shot of a preview image. It is not clickable, but gives you somewhat of an idea what it looks like when this widget works.

This is a Craft Cult screenshot of a preview image. It is not clickable, but gives you somewhat of an idea what it looks like when this widget works. It has been so inconsistent, however, that I cannot recommend it.

Etsy treasury screenshot generated by TreasuryBox

Another Etsy treasury app to consider is TreasuryBox by Brittanys Best, designed for those who use the Google Chrome browser. One of the nice features about TreasuryBox is that it takes the place of Etsy’s treasury tool and comes with some extra curator options. A treasury button is added to all product pages, and if you want to add that item to a treasury, you just click on the button and it bookmarks it. When you’re finished, you slide your cursor up to the right side of your browser bar, where you’ll find a little treasure chest icon. Click on that, and one of the options is to create your treasury with the items you’ve bookmarked. It’s really fast to create a treasury this way. If your computer shuts down in the middle of the treasury you’re creating, the items are still there when you reboot. Also, the app can automatically send notifications to the shops that are featured. One of the curator tools is a “Save” button that saves a screenshot of the image to your computer that you can then share on social networks. The individual images in this collage photo, however, are not clickable.

TreasuryBox Crochet ToolsEtsy Treasury Tool by Handmadeology

An alternative to Craft Cult’s treasury widget that generates HTML codes with individually-clickable images is Handmadeology’s Etsy Treasury Tool. There’s no app to install; you simple visit the Etsy Treasury Tool page and enter the code of the treasury you’ve created on Etsy. Instructions appear right on the page, and are easy to follow. Copy and paste the automatically-generated HTML code into your blog or Web site, and there you are! You can choose one to six columns, and four sizes: tiny, small, normal and large. The code is static, so if you make changes to the treasury later, the original version on your blog or Web site stays the same. The treasury below is large.

‘Crochet Tools’ by MisterPenQuin


Broomstick Lace Pin: a tool …

$13

Yarn Susan, Yarn Holder, Yar…

$35

Bocote Wooden Crochet Hook. …

$22.95

Yarn Bowl / Knitting Bowl – …

$40

Stitch Markers – For Crochet…

$15

Linen Crochet Hook Case – Ho…

$24

Powered By Handmadeology

Toastie Studio’s Treasury HTML Code Generator

Very similar to Handmadeology’s Etsy Treasury Tool is Toastie Studio’s Treasury HTML Code Generator. Instead of entering your Etsy treasury code, you enter the URL of the treasury. You can choose one to six columns, and one of three treasury sizes: small, medium, or large. The code appears to be static, as I added photos to this treasury after I inserted the code in this post. This is the large version, and one drawback is that it really isn’t all that large, and I can’t seem to use a centering command on the treasury.

Crochet Tools

Broomstick Lace Pin: a tool for easily making broomstick lace

$13.00
Yarn Susan, Yarn Holder, Yarn Organizer, Knitting Tool, Knitting Gift

$35.00
Bocote Wooden Crochet Hook. Size P/Q, 15 mm. Handmade.

$22.95
Yarn Bowl / Knitting Bowl - IN STOCK - Ready To Ship - Rutile Blue Glaze

$40.00
Stitch Markers - For Crochet - Handmade lampwork beads

$15.00
Linen Crochet Hook Case - Holder - Organizer

£24.00

Powered By Toastie Studio – Etsy Tools

Image-mapping software for your photo collage

Whether you want to create a traditional Etsy treasury or a photo collage comprised of images on your computer, the answer to making individual images clickable is image-mapping software. You can find several options on the Web simply by searching for “image mapping software.” I’m going to discuss only one app because it’s so easy to use. Before you can use image-mapping software, however, you need to create a collage. Visit 18 Incredible Ways to Create Photo Collage [sic] to select a collage app, upload your photos or enter URLs (depending on the app you use), let the app generate the collage, and all you have to do is find a place on the Web to host that image. You can choose a Facebook photo album, a Google+ Web album, Flickr, Photo Bucket, or even your Web site. I chose PicMonkey for my collage software, and my Web site as the image hosting site, as I have unlimited storage through my Dreamhost hosting plan.

Next, you’ll want to visit Image-Maps and enter the URL of your collage—in other words, its location. The video tutorial below, from How to Make Every Image in a Collage a Link, explains exactly how you use Image-Maps to insert a clickable photo collage on your blog or Web site.

I created a collage with PicMonkey and then uploaded it to my Web site. Because I use WordPress, it was placed into my Media Libary. I didn’t insert it into my post, but I did make a note of the URL. Then I entered its URL address into Image-Maps. I followed the steps in the above video, and then copied and pasted the HTML code into this post’s “Text” window. I will admit that it took some time to do, but it was definitely easy. One step you’ll find helpful is to re-size your collage ahead of time, which makes the mapping process go a little more quickly, and doesn’t require you to re-size the collage after you insert it into your post. This collage is 550 pixels wide.

Image Map Image Map

There’s a lot of information in this post, and many options from which you can choose. Hopefully at least one of them will work for you the next time you want to create an Etsy treasury or a photo collage with individually-clickable images. Let me know what seems to work best for you, as well as what your blogging platform is, in the comments below.

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Apr 252015
 

I take it back. Baby bottle nipples may work as bottle toppers/applicators for some glues, but not all of them. In January I wrote a post, No more woes because of clogged bottle tips, about substituting baby bottle nipples for glue bottle toppers that had clogged or were apt to clog. This method was proposed by Laura Denison of Following the Paper Trail, who tested nipples over a period of several weeks and had great success with them. Based on her recommendations, I changed out two bottles, one containing Ranger Inkssentials™ Glossy Accents, the other containing Scotch® Quick-Drying Tacky Glue. To prevent the liquid adhesives from drying out, you’re supposed to squeeze the bottle until a bead of glue emerges from the nipple tip, and then let that dry so that it acts as a stopper. So, what do I think about this type of glue bottle topper method today, several months later?

  • I didn’t use my Scotch® Quick-Drying Tacky Glue for a few weeks, and the glue inside the nipple dried up completely. Not good. I am guessing that this would not have happened if I had used the glue more frequently, but in any event I won’t be using a baby bottle nipple topper for this type of glue again.
  • The glue inside my Ranger Inkssentials™ Glossy Accents bottle did not dry up, but it was difficult to use as a precision applicator. There’s a big difference in size between a fine applicator tip and a bulbous nipple.

Glossy Accents

Recently I watched a video, No-Clog Fine-Tip Liquid Glue Solutions, from Jennifer McGuire of Jennifer McGuire Ink, in which she describes several methods of keeping glue from clogging your bottle tips. Some of her methods cost nothing and are ingenious. Jennifer squeezes out excess glue from the bottle tip before she caps it, but she also “burps” her bottle so that the glue is driven downward into the bottle, instead of remaining in the applicator tip. I recommend you watch the video below to see how Jennifer burps the bottle.

She also uses a tip from Tim Holtz, who suggests using the plastic T-shaped “wire” that garment manufacturers attach to clothing tags. If you insert this into a glue bottle, it prevents the glue from drying out or staying in the applicator tip, and you don’t even need a cap. The next time I buy a garment, I’m saving this!

When I visited Memory Bound, my local scrapbooking store, one of the staff suggested that if you “stomp” the glue bottle down onto a flat surface, just once, this helps to prevent applicator tip clogging, too. I’ll have to try this. As we continued to discuss glue bottles tips and clogging, she steered me to one of Jennifer McGuire’s purchased solutions: Fineline Applicators. You can buy a package of two standard-sized applicators and matching bottles for around $9.99, and fill the bottles with your glue. You can also purchase a package of three fine-sized applicators for the same price, depending on how precise an application you need. What’s unique about this system is that the bottle topper consists of three parts: an applicator cap with a built-in solid wire (intended to push glue down into the bottle), a dispensing tip made of a thin, hollow tube, and a screw-on bottle cap. You hold the bottle either vertically or horizontally, just like a pencil, and squeeze the soft-plastic bottle. The standard-sized applicator has a yellow band, and the fine-sized applicator has a blue one.  I will have to re-label these bottles so that I’ll know what’s inside them.

Fineline Applicators

In some instances, you may be able to use the original bottle of glue and just replace its top with the Fineline one, but in my case the opening in the original bottles and the diameter of the Fineline bottle cap didn’t match. (What I needed was the 20-gauge version, not the 18-gauge one that I bought, so play close attention to the labeling.) As a result, I poured Glossy Accents into the bottle with the fine-sized applicator. My scrapbooking store didn’t carry Ranger Multi Medium in a bottle, so I bought a jar of this gelatinous substance, and scooped it out with a spreader to fill the Fineline Applicator bottle with the standard-sized applicator. This is one time I wished I had one of those plastic ice cream sampling spoons! With a little patience, however, it didn’t take too long to fill the 1.25 fluid ounce bottle. You can certainly use Ranger Multi Medium from a jar for collage purposes, but my intent is to use it as a glue for the layered paper flowers I make for book covers. Using the precision applicator, I can get into tiny spots between the petals.

Multi Medium

Jennifer McGuire’s video discusses a few other liquid adhesive non-clogging applicator tip solutions that I’d like to try, but for now I’m checking out the Fineline Applicators. The bottle nipples are out, I think, at least for me. They can work for some glues and in some situations, but not for ones where great precision is needed. Do you have some other anti-clogging solutions for glue bottles not mentioned in this post or Jennifer’s video? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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