Mar 192017
 

Pulling together the supplies for a handmade card is in many ways like getting ready to color a coloring book page, except that you need more of everything—more tools, more coloring supplies, and more supplies in general. As I dragged my tools and supplies to the kitchen table for an afternoon of stamping, coloring, and gluing, I couldn’t help thinking that this was the grown-up version of the round table at which I sat with my kindergarten friends. In the center of the table was a basket filled with crayons; scattered at various locations were scissors and jars of white paste that got passed from one person to the next.

My task for this afternoon was a card for a baby shower to accompany a package that will be shipped tomorrow. I recently picked up a new stamp set that I thought would be perfect for this card, as well as another that will soon accompany a baby gift. The stamp set, called Rubber Duckies from Stampendous, includes some cute sentiments for new babies, as well as three ducks, a sailboat, a ribbon of bubbling water, and heart and star shapes.

I cut my card stock to size, and inserted a rectangle into my Misti stamping tool from My Sweet Petunia. If you’re not familiar with this tool, it’s a stamp positioner that allows you to arrange your stamps on the front of your card before you ink them. This is especially helpful if you are making duplicates of the same card, but even if you are not, it’s handy for previewing where your stamped images will sit on the paper, and for inking multiple images at once. It’s also great for those instances when the first stamping isn’t as bold as you’d like it to be and you need to re-stamp it. The tool does the stamp alignment for you; all you do is re-ink the stamp.

The Misti is one of several stamp positioning tools on the market. It comes in three sizes—the Memory Misti at $100 for a 12-1/4 x 12-1/4 inch stamping area, the Original Misti at $60 for a 6-1/2 x 8-1/2 inch stamping area, and the Mini Misti at $45 for a 6 x 4-3/4 inch stamping area. If  you are in the market for a stamping press, you’ll want to compare the Misti to the following other tools:

As you might expect, each tool has its strong and weak points, depending on what you are looking for and what your pocketbook will support. Although I have the Original Misti and have no complaints about it, if I were shopping today I would probably choose the Tim Holtz tool because it is so sturdy (at 2 pounds) and it is priced so reasonably.

But I digress.

After I had stamped my card, it was time to color the images with Copic markers. This was the part of the project that felt most like a coloring book page. When I was finished, I decided that the setting of the card—a bathtub—needed to look more like a bathroom. The bathtub walls, in other words, needed tiling. To achieve this effect, I scored horizontal and vertical lines a centimeter apart, with a scoring tool. Then, I cut a rectangle of royal blue card stock to frame the image, and adhered both to the front of the card. The last step was adding dimension to the bubbles, for which I used JudiKins Diamond Glaze. I probably could have used Glossy Accents by Ranger, but I couldn’t find my bottle.

I probably don’t produce handmade cards as frequently as I should, but it sure is a fun, relaxing way to spend a Sunday afternoon. How often do you make handmade cards?

© 2017 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Mar 122017
 

Each time I craft a paper flower for the cover of one of my handmade books, it turns out differently, which is probably why I enjoy making flowers so much. The surprise factor keeps the process fresh. That being said, this weekend I made two paper flowers using the same set of Donna Salazar Carnation Creations dies by Spellbinders, with different results each time.

I described how I used these dies previously in How to make a paper flower using ink, water and scrunched paper. At that time, I stacked nine layers of floral shapes, inserting a brad through them. I spray-misted the layers with water, then scrunched them around the brad. When I spread apart the layers, they ended up looking like a rose. Of course, there were a few other steps I took along the way to add color to the bloom.

The trick to creating nice-looking 3-D paper flowers is having enough layers. The fuller you want your flower to look, the more layers you will need. For my purposes, I like to use five to nine layers. But the tools and techniques you use to manipulate the petals also make a difference. I made two completely different flowers this weekend using nine layers of flower shapes, all cut with Donna Salazar Carnation Creations dies. The only difference between the flower shapes was in the quantity of each type of shape. You’ll notice that I stamped the white Bazzill card stock with a Hero Arts rubber stamp called Old French Writing, inked up with Hero Hues Chalk Ink in Latte.

For the first flower, I literally ran each floral cut under the faucet, then shook off the excess water, scrunched it up, and gently pried apart the petals. Then I dried it with a heat gun.

I glued the layers together using Scotch Tacky Glue, then ran a Tim Holtz Distress Ink pad in Rusty Hinge against the tips of the petals. After I spray-misted the layered flower with water to make the ink run, I dried it with a heat gun.

All that was missing was a center pearl. I had some white adhesive pearls and decided to color one of them with a Copic marker (E95) to match the flower and pick up some of the color in the book cover. You need an alcohol-based ink to make sure it adheres to the slick surface of the pearl.

For the second flower, I pre-inked the floral shapes with Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Tattered Rose.

Then I manipulated the flower petals using a combination of flower shaping tools from my McGill™ Paper Blossoms Tool Kit.

After I glued together the layers of the flower, I applied one of those white adhesive pearls to the center. Finally, I adhered both flowers to their respective book covers using Beacon Fabri-Tac Permanent Adhesive. This is my go-to substitute for a glue gun, as the glue is acid-free where glue gun adhesive is not. It’s also far less bulky. Although both flowers have nine layers, they are markedly different. The first flower—which was scrunched—is a fuller flower. The second flower’s layers were manipulated with flower shaping tools. While it is a full flower, it lies flatter.

It’s a lot of fun to experiment with flower cutting dies and assembly techniques. From the photos in this post, you can see that the same set of floral dies—Donna Salazar Carnation Creations—yielded different results each time I applied a new technique. Can you add a variation to these techniques with similar dies?

© 2017 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Sep 032016
 

This morning as I browsed through unfinished blog posts—yes, I sometimes write multiple posts at one time—I discovered a post I had begun a year ago. Wow, that’s taking procrastination to new limits, I thought to myself. But a year ago at this time, I began juggling a full-time job with writing, crafting, selling handmade goods, and of course leading some semblance of a personal life. Five months later, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer, underwent surgery, progressed through eight weeks of external and internal radiation treatments, and presently still find myself playing catch-up. Today, I guess, is as good a day as any to return to my half-finished blog post about a new design for an envelope book.

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A year ago a grandmother contacted me to design a custom envelope book for a couple having their first child. She selected soft yellow, gray and ivory papers to cover the envelope pages of the book. I recommended she use dark gray envelopes to contrast with the soft colors, as well as a flexible accordion spine made of kraft-tex™, a durable fabric paper that can be painted, dyed, stamped, stitched, sanded, distressed, washed, ironed, embossed, tumbled in the dryer, and who-knows-what-else. In other words, it’s durable and will hold up well over time. It will also easily support the weight of envelopes filled with photos and other items.

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This isn’t the best photo of the printed papers, as the actual colors are a little deeper than what is shown here. They give you, however, a general impression of softness.

Before I started the project, I mocked up a skeleton of the inside of the book. A prototype like this helps me to anticipate not only what the final project will look like, but also any potential difficulties that might arise. After I made the prototype, for example, I realized that I would prefer a landscape orientation over a portrait one. Having a prototype is also a good way to minimize material waste. I substituted plain white card stock for the spine, as well as for the envelopes. Each page has a half-inch of space between itself and the cover, or between itself and another page. This provides space for embellishments added to the envelopes. Because the spine is flexible, the pages of the book lie flat when you turn them, and the book is not as thick as it would be if you used a hinge-binding system or a hard-cover spine.

Prototype CollageI began the envelope book project with the accordion spine. I cut a rectangle measuring 7-1/4 inches by 10 inches. I saved the leftover kraft-tex™ because scraps are good for many projects, including bookmarks, buttons, die cutting, and many other things. Then I pulled out my score board, and scored the kraft-tex™ at 2 inches, 2-1/2 inches, 3 inches, and every half-inch until I got to the 8-inch mark. Next, I folded the kraft-tex™ like an accordion. You can see the finished piece below, attached to the covers of covers of the book.

It was extremely useful to use Clover Wonder Clips to hold the kraft-tex in place while the glue dried.

It is helpful to use Clover Wonder Clips to hold the kraft-tex™ in place while the glue dries.

Ahead of time, I had sealed white 5-inch x 7-inch envelopes, and cut off one end to form a pocket. I attached a flap to that end, and decorated both pockets and flaps with pre-selected papers.

Pocket and Flap Assembly

When all of the pockets and flaps had been assembled and decorated, I could see the book beginning to take shape.

Pocket Pages

The grandmother had asked me to personalize the pages so they would tell a story, so I attached sentence strips with brads to each page.

Sentence Strips

I also created some journaling cards to which the parents could adhere photos or on which they could write a note.

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The pages had to be prepared for insertion in the book. I attached Scor-tape to each page and inserted the pages, one by one, into the folds of the accordion spine. I also added Scor-tape to the ends of the accordion spine. Finally, I adhered the spine-and-pages unit to the covers. Ahead of time, I covered the outside of the chipboard covers with printed and solid gray papers. I also adhered a ribbon tie to the cover.

Book Assembly

The last step was finishing off the inside of the book (not shown), and decorating the cover.

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The result was a book whose pages accommodate both photos and embellishments without forcing the covers to splay open because of over-filling. The spine is sturdy and will not tear.

Finished Book

One of the fun aspects about this type of book is that you can turn the pages one by one as you would expect them to turn, or you can splay the pages flat (as shown in the bottom photo) like a deck of cards, making all of them visible at once.

This past spring I received a request for a different design: two 19-page envelope albums that would enable parents to celebrate the first 18 years of their children’s lives. The first page represented the child’s time of birth, with the subsequent 18 pages dedicated to the next 18 years, one envelope for each page and year of life. I realized that these albums, like the book shown in the above photos, would need to incorporate a kraft-tex™ accordion spine. No other spine would stand up to the weight of so many decorated pages, envelopes, photos and embellishments. Both albums are shown below.

Harrison's Book

Graeme's Book

In Naked envelope spine, spiral binding or hinge binding system? I asked readers to identify which method of binding they liked best for a thick envelope book. Many folks do prefer a hinge-bound book, which utilizes a hard-cover spine. However, the more pages, photos, journaling cards and embellishments you add to a book of memories, the less flat the cover lies, and the more stress is placed on the spine. Of all the methods with which I have experimented, the kraft-tex™ accordion spine is probably the sturdiest and accommodates best the weight of many pages without falling apart. I, too, like the appearance of a hard-cover spine, but for thick books it is in some ways like an oak tree that doesn’t survive the onslaught of a heavy storm. A book with a kraft-tex™ accordion spine is flexible and strong, and is presently my first choice for books with many pages, photos and embellishments.

You can purchase kraft-tex™, by the way, from C&T Publishing. It sells for $12.95, comes in white, black, natural, chocolate and stone—and I promise you’ll use every inch of the 19-inch by 1-1/2 yard roll. It is also available in 10-yard bolts at $69.95, and you can pre-order the newest product, a 10-sheet, five-color sampler for $16.95. The sheets are 8-1/2 x 11 inches, so you can run them through your inkjet printer.

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If you bind books, what’s your favorite method of binding thick books with lots of pages, photos, journaling cards, and embellishments?

© 2016 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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