Jan 122016

Valentine’s Day is about a month away, so I am re-running the giveaway post below that originally appeared last July. I suppose, depending on your point of view, the post was either too late or too early for Valentine’s Day. In any event, if you’re interested in entering a giveaway for the Spellbinders die set shown below, read through to the end of the post to find out how to enter this giveaway. I’d like to announce a winner by the end of next week so that this person can actually receive and use the Valentine’s Day-oriented die set in time for that holiday. 2/1/16 Update: This giveaway is being extended. When a minimum of five entries have been entered, a random drawing will take place.

If you have already been using Spellbinders dies, then you know that they can be used multiple ways. You can use them to cut shapes, emboss detail into cut shapes, or stencil through the die template. The three-piece Love Locket die set includes a locket, key, and locket background.

Spellbinders Love Locket

One of the traditional ways to use this die set is for a greeting card honoring Valentine’s Day, a wedding, or an anniversary. That’s what Sheri of My Sheri Cards did with the heart-shaped locket-and-key dies, cutting them from gold and silver card stock, respectively. Then she paired these design elements with a Spellbinders A2 Curved Borders One die cut for a truly spectacular effect. You can read about her process in her post, MY SHERI CRAFTS CHALLENGE #126 – Valentine.

Photo courtesy of My Sheri Cards

Photo courtesy of My Sheri Cards

Although the gorgeous gold-and-white card below is intended as a wedding card, I think it would work equally well as a birthday or congratulatory card. Erika of Snappy Crafts describes how she layered Spellbinders® M-Bossabilities™ Framed Petite Labels, Nestabilities® Labels Twenty-One, and Shapeabilities® Fancy Tags Two, and then combined these effects with the heart-shaped lock-and-key dies. To achieve the distressed gold-and-white striped background, Erika coated the embossing folder with gold ink before running it through her Spellbinders® Grand Calibur machine. For more details, read her post, Weddings…..Spellbinder style.

Photo courtesy of Snappy Crafts

Photo courtesy of Snappy Crafts

Chrissy of Chrissyscardland created an adorable birthday card with the locket and key dies in A BIRFDAY DRAGON WITH MAKE IT MONDAY. Using her Faber-Castell colored pencils, Chrissy colored a digital dragon image designed by Rick St. Dennis. She cut out some leaves using a Couture Creations die, and combined these and the Spellbinders® Love Locket dies with the illustration.

Photo courtesy of Chrissyscardland

Photo courtesy of Chrissyscardland

To enter the giveaway, share your favorite Valentine’s Day memory in the comments below, and make sure you enter your e-mail address (not published) in the comment form so that I can contact you. Minimum number of participants is five for the giveaway to take place.

© 2016 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Jul 262015

Are inkjet-printed papers a good option for your paper-crafting projects? When I first began crafting handmade books, I used only commercial papers from scrapbooking stores because I assumed they are more colorfast and water-resistant. I have changed my mind, however, and am gradually printing more papers from digital designs, especially for custom orders that involve very specific color-and-design requests. I simply don’t have time to sift through hundreds of individual papers in my storage bins. Running all over town to find the perfect paper option is not a good use of time, and it can be a waste of car fuel, too.

I don’t want anyone to think that I am pushing inkjet-printed papers over commercial ones—talented graphic artists design both types—but when it comes to storage space, I can store thousands of digital papers on a flash drive no bigger than my thumb, as opposed to a stack of paper trays containing hundreds of papers that stand almost as tall as I am. It is also easier and faster to comb through a digital file system to locate specific papers than it is to find physical ones.

The cost of digitally-designed papers might be considered to be cheaper than the cost of commercially-printed papers. For example, a digital paper pack of 10 papers might cost you $3 to $5, while an individual sheet of designer paper typically runs a dollar. Some might argue that the cost of printer ink mitigates the advantage of using digital files that can be re-used to print hundreds of papers, but that’s not an issue I am addressing in this post.

The papers designs shown above were generated digitally and printed on an inkjet printer.

The papers designs shown above were generated digitally and printed on an inkjet printer.

So, how colorfast and water-resistant are papers that are printed on your home inkjet printer? The answer is that it depends on the type of ink your printer uses. Inkjet printers use either pigment ink or dye ink. According to InkGuides.com, pigment ink sits on top of the paper instead of being absorbed into it, and is water-fast in most instances. It dries fast, has a long life, and the colors tend not to fade. This is the type of ink usually found in the cartridges used by color inkjet printers. Dye ink, on the other hand, is used more often in monochrome printers. Colors are available in a wide range, and they are both brilliant and high-contrast.

The age of your inkjet printer can also be a factor that affects the quality of your inkjet-printed papers. A printer that is 10 years old, for example, prints at a lower resolution, may have less water-resistant ink, and may use ink cartridges whose ink fades more quickly. This is because inkjet technology has improved over the years.

“Intensive research and development is continuously done in printer inks,” says InkGuides.com in its article, Ink Types used in Inkjet Cartridges, “which mean that both dye and pigment inks are steadily becoming better in their weak areas.”

There are great inkjet printers that are commonly available from HP, Epson, Canon and other manufacturers in most electronics or office supply stores. My experience is mostly with HP printers, so that’s the ink I’m discussing in this post. HP’s Vivera Photo-versatile inks are designed to be used with HP Photosmart, select HP Deskjet printers and all-in-one products. According to HP, “When combined with HP photo papers, HP Vivera Photo-versatile inks deliver vibrant prints that resist fading for generations. In addition, most HP Vivera Photo-versatile inks are designed to deliver great everyday plain paper printing for documents, e-mail, web pages, and more.” The statistics about the durability of this ink—up to 108 years versus 17 to 40 years for lab-processed photos—make for interesting reading. Visit HP Vivera Inks: Brilliant, Enduring Color for more details.

Today's inkjet printers typically use four to twelve ink cartridges.

Today’s inkjet printers typically use four to twelve ink cartridges.

No printed papers, of course, will survive poor storage conditions: exposure to temperature extremes, sun, wind, water, and so on. For both commercially-printed papers and inkjet-printed papers, you have to employ common sense when you choose your paper storage system.

There is another factor that determines how durable ink is, and that is the type of paper you use. Both commercially printed paper and plain card stock are coated, which means that the ink you print on them will be more water-resistant and fade-resistant than if you printed, for example, on absorbent watercolor paper or paper towels. These latter types of paper products can produce interesting, beautiful results—but if you want the ink to last, you’ll probably have to coat your finished project with some kind of sealant. Some artists like to use spray sealants, but because of many sprays’ toxicity and odor, I prefer to use a micro glaze called Tim Holtz® Distress Micro Glaze™. Although it’s not absolutely necessary to use this type of product on commercially-printed or inkjet-printed papers, I do so because it adds an extra layer of water-resistance to my handmade book covers.

Tim Holtz Distress MIcro GlazeIn Bookbinding Tips: Protecting Covers, Jennifer of Sea Lemon on YouTube describes how she likes to use a clear spray varnish to protect her work. It’s really up to you. If you fast-forward to 1 minute and 50 seconds in her video, she discusses the difference between commercially-printed papers and inkjet-printed papers.

In the final analysis, if you’re low on paper storage space, or you need to keep a wide range of papers available on short notice for custom orders, you may wish to consider using digital papers that you can print yourself as you need them.

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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.