May 192015

A few weeks ago I gave away a password book I was originally going to list in the Gifts for Men section in MisterPenQuin, but decided to re-create because I had leftover paper. The original book was embellished with ribbon and buttons, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to do the same cover again—not because I didn’t like it—but because I like to mix things up.

DSCN8955I decided instead that I wanted to use die cuts, so I pulled out my Shoot! by in’spire™ Spellbinders die set, and cut out some arrows in three sizes from Kraft-tex scraps. A roll of this stuff retails at $12.99 for a foot-and-a-half—expensive, in other words—so you really don’t want to throw out your leftover bits. I inked the arrows with Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Walnut Stain to give them an aged look.

Shoot by Spellbinders

Those arrows didn’t really stand out against the colorful print in the cover, so I decided to mount them on a plaque of sorts, made from paper. I used the second-smallest size of my Labels Twenty-Eight die set by Spellbinders Nestabilities, and then determined I wanted a shadow effect in black.

Labels Twenty Eight by Spellbinders

Unfortunately, the next size up in this die set was too large to create a shadow, so I cut the same size shape again in black paper, cutting it in half. My thought was that I could layer the pieces so that a narrow black border would surround the lighter brown shape. Likely the piecing wouldn’t be real visible in the final plaque. I adhered the paper pieces with Scotch Quick-Drying Tacky Glue because I wanted a glue that would dry quickly, but not so quickly that I couldn’t adjust the paper as needed.

Labels Twenty Eight

Labels Twenty-Eight with Shadow Effect

I liked the way the plaque looked when it was finished, but decided I wanted more of a dimensional look for the arrows. Ordinarily you can use adhesive dots or squares for this purpose, but this doesn’t work at all for intricately-cut shapes. The solution is craft foam, which works really well. I ran a combination of craft foam and the Shoot! dies through my Big Shot die cutting machine, then adhered the foam pieces to the Kraft-tex arrows with my Xyron® Create-a-Sticker™ tool. If you don’t have something like this, an alternative is Ranger Multi Matte Medium. However, you may want to consider transferring this adhesive into a Fineline Applicator bottle to achieve a fine line of glue, but this is really an optional step. If you have sticky-back craft foam, this would also work well, but I didn’t have that variety on hand. I suppose you could also use one or two layers of lightweight chipboard instead of the craft foam, but the advantage to using craft foam is that the edges don’t need to be colored. And if they do, you can color the foam with a permanent marker, such as a Sharpie or something similar.

Xyron Create-a-Sticker Adhesive for Arrows

I decided I wanted the plaque to have more of a 3-D effect, too, so I cut out a Labels Twenty-Eight shape from craft foam, and adhered that to the back of the plaque. The white liquid you see in the photo is simply Scotch Quick-Drying Tacky Glue that has not yet dried.

Craft foam backing for plaque

I forgot to mention that when I made the paper and craft foam die cuts, I used the Sizzix Precision Base Plate, a fairly new product that was introduced earlier this year at the annual Craft & Hobby Association trade show. This is a metal plate that takes the place of one of your acrylic cutting plates, and is ideal for cutting intricate shapes with your wafer-thin dies. You lay it on top of your Sizzix Magnetic Platform, place your paper on the Precision Base Plate, and then set your die with the ridges facing down onto the paper. The Base Plate takes a lot of abuse and doesn’t scar when the sharp edges of your dies come into contact with it. Additionally, if you’re using the kind of dies that cut and emboss, you can do both steps at once, instead of having to run the paper through your Big Shot a second time. Note that the Precision Base Plate works only with the Big Shot, Big Kick and Vagabond die cutting machines, all made by the same company. Sizzix listed the Precision Base Plate as out-of-stock at the time this post was written, but keep checking back, or search for “Sizzix Precision Base Plate” on the Internet, as another vendor may have it available. It retails for $19.99.

Sizzix Big Shot and Accessories

The completed password book appears in the photo below, and is ready to be added to the Gifts for Men section in my shop. I really love changing up my book covers!

Tribal Style Password Book

The tools and supplies for this project are available through the Amazon widget below. If you purchase through this widget, I do receive an Amazon Associates commission.

 © 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Apr 022015

When I made an explosion mini album recently, which involves folding paper in many different directions to form pages, I made the mistake of weighing the pages down with too many layers of decorative paper. This resulted in holes developing where the folds intersected—and a big waste of paper when I had to re-start the project from scratch. I couldn’t bear to throw away the original paper, however, so I decided to cut up the pages into the squares and triangles shown below for re-purposing. Then I pondered.

Paper scraps

I’ll bet I can die cut those pieces into dimensional paper ephemera shapes, I thought. Because I had a mini photo album waiting for a cover embellishment, it became the first recipient of my re-purposing mission. I cut out a tag with my Big Shot die cutting machine, and modified it with mini brads and pre-cut wooden shapes that I painted gold with Elmer’s Metallic Painter Medium.

Paper tag

The tag is comprised of three layers of glued papers, so it behaves a lot like leather. I subsequently used a leather punch to make the holes for the gold mini brads. The leather punch makes holes in a variety of sizes, so it’s handy for a job like this. The only drawback is that paper tends to get stuck in the hollow metal cones that do the punching. However, my son, who works with leather a great deal, suggested that you can straighten a paper clip and push the paper bits out with it. The tools and materials I used to make the tag are shown below. Lots of items for one tiny tag, but it didn’t take too long to create.

Project supplies and tools

I cut out the tag shape itself using a Tim Holtz Alterations Thinlits die from the Labels #660060 17-piece set, then brushed some Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Walnut Stain along the edges to hide the white paper core. There are lots of wonderful dies in this set that will be useful in creating additional paper ephemera for crafting purposes, I’m certain.

Tim Holtz Alterations Thinlits - Labels

The tiny tag adds a finishing touch to the already tiny photo album without covering up too much of the decorative paper. I anticipate using leftover scraps of paper and thin chipboard, or layered papers, in similar ways in the future. No need to buy pre-decorated chipboard shapes when you can make your own! You can make dimensional tags, eyelets, buttons, letters and numbers, flowers, borders and even flourishes using a variety of cutting dies.

Mini Album

What do you do with your paper scraps? My own mind is spinning with ideas!

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.