Oct 022016

Today’s post is all about you, especially if you’re a paper crafter. It’s once more giveaway time, so read further about how to qualify for the random drawing.

I had the fortune yesterday to visit Memory Bound, my local scrapbooking store, when it was celebrating its 15th anniversary. In addition to offering a 15% discount on everything, shoppers were given one ticket to drop in a glass bowl for every $25 they spent. I didn’t count exactly how many bowls there were, but the bowls corresponded to merchandise giveaways, with the winners being announced at five o’clock that afternoon. To my surprise and delight, I took home two of the giveaways—two tote bags filled with crafting goodies. Each bag also contained one item that was signed by Tim Holtz, a creative designer and Senior Educator for Ranger Industries.

The merchandise I won reminded me that it’s been a while since I did a giveaway, so I have decided to offer one again. The only “catch” is that the giveaway requires at least 10 entrants. My last giveaway, Giveaway: Spellbinders® Love Locket die set, required 5 entrants and surprisingly did not have that many people, so I am including that item in this much larger giveaway. The individuals who followed that giveaway’s rules will be included in the current giveaway. Shown below are the items you will receive if your name is drawn.


The items included in this paper crafter’s giveaway are valued at a little over $150. You must enter the drawing by October 15, 2016.

To qualify for this giveaway, tell me in the comments below what your most recent paper crafting project was about. If you blogged or posted a photo about your project, please provide a link—although this is not required to enter the random drawing. The deadline for the giveaway is October 15, 2016. I will announce the winner after I reach that person via email.

Good luck! I look forward to reading your responses.

© 2016 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Jan 122015

My father, who was a tool and die maker when he emigrated from Germany to the U.S., was fascinated with all of the cutting dies in my paper crafting tools collection. “That’s what we used to make at the plant, but on a larger scale,” he said.

That collection has grown over the years from a few dies that originally fit inside a cardboard shoe box to a thick three-ring binder that holds vinyl pocket pages, many of which I customized to fit the dies. You can read about this system in a previous post I wrote, Modifying a vinyl pocket to store long, narrow & thin cutting dies.

Thin die storage

My three-ring binder was not intended, however, to fit the dies you see in the Spellbinders Die D-Lites, Shapeabilities and Nestabilities product lines; Sizzix Framelits® dies; Taylored Expressions dies, and many other brands of wafer-thin steel dies. Very thin, lightweight and subject to bending, these dies need a little more protection. And sometimes they sell in sets with assorted small pieces, making them easy to lose. How can you store them most effectively?

If you like my three-ring binder idea with the pocket pages, you can visit your local office supply store and pick up some magnetic sheets, usually found in the same section as adhesive mailing labels. Cut the sheets to size, attach your wafer-thin dies, and slip into a pocket. Take that idea a step further, and cut magnetic vent covers (found at your local home improvement center, usually three sheets per package, each measuring 8 by 15 inches) to fit inside three-hole punched vinyl pages with dual 4.25 by 8 inch pockets. You could also cut these to fit into a CD or DVD case, and stack the cases on a shelf or in a box. There are lots of options!

In her post, Penny Black, Cheery Lynn, Tim Holtz & Some Organization, Shelly of Popsicle Toes shows how well vent covers work to store her wafer-thin dies.

Magnetic vent covers

Photo courtesy of Shelly of Popsicle Toes

The main drawbacks to any vinyl pocket system are that magnetic sheets, if you use them, can be a bit time-consuming to cut to size, and the binder can become so heavy that there is a risk of the hole-punched pages tearing. Consider wrapping an elastic headband around the binder, top to bottom, to keep the pages from sagging.

An alternative storage system I use is a couple of ArtBin Magnetic Die Storage Cases. The handled case, which measures 10.25 by 3.25 by 9.625 inches, comes with three single-sided magnetic sheets. You can purchase refills, and the sturdy case holds 21 sheets. Although you can stand up the case so that it occupies a smaller footprint, I tend not to do that because the sheets begin to curl if your case is not full. Instead, I stack my two cases.

ArtBin Die Storage Box 2

What I especially like about the ArtBin case is that I can move a sheet containing dies to my work surface, and return it afterward to the case without any fuss. Some folks use just the magnetic sheets in a storage bin of their own choosing, and flip them back and forth, recipe card-style, to locate the sheet they need. The ArtBin Magnetic Die Storage Case retails at $15.99, but you can often reduce that cost with a discount coupon at your local Jo-Ann Fabrics store. The refill sheets can be purchased in three-packs for $7.99. You’ll notice that I adhere .5 by 1.75-inch Avery labels to my magnetic die sheets to identify the individual dies or die sets.

ArtBin Die Storage Box 1

If you have 12-inch dies, you may prefer to use the Zutter Magnetic & Cling Stamp Storage System, as it is a little larger than the ArtBin case. It, too, comes with three magnetic sheets, plus it features three divider sheets to protect your stamps from the ridges of the metal dies. The Zutter case, which holds a combination of eight to ten die or stamp sheets measuring 12.25 by 8.5 inches, sells for $27.99 at www.binditall.com. The sheets are double-sided, with one side for wafer-thin dies, and the other side for cling and clear acrylic stamps. A refill set consisting of three magnetic sheets and three dividers costs $14.99. Bonnie Garby of Reasonable Ribbon does a nice review of the Zutter system, and sells both the box and refill sheets in her online store. Her prices include shipping.

Recently I purchased a second type of die storage box from Taylored Expressions because its three-hole punched magnetic sheets are double-sided (similar to the Zutter system, but smaller), and I thought it would be handy for my matched stamp-and-die sets. The Taylored Expressions Storage Binder Box, which sells for $10, measures 9.5 inches tall by 7 inches wide by 1.25 inches thick. Refill sets consist of three pages and cost $7 a set. The best deal, however, is the Magnetic Die Storage Starter Set for $30, which consists of the storage box and nine magnetic pages. The Web site says the box holds four sheets of Taylored Expressions stamp-and-die sets, but because some of my pages have dies only, I managed to fit nine sheets inside the box. I found this system to be especially handy not only for matched stamp-and-die sets, but also for my Spellbinders Die D-Lite floral die sets, some of which are accompanied by assembly instructions that I wanted to save. I stuck the dies to the magnetic side, and used Scotch Adhesive Putty (also known as “sticky tack”) to adhere the instructions to the cling side. The sturdy magnetic sheets compare very well to the ones in the ArtBin storage box. Because the small Taylored Expressions storage box gets to be quite heavy when completely filled, I feel there is a risk of the plastic binding rings or the punched holes tearing if the box is stored binder-style. I lay it flat, just like the ArtBin storage case.

Taylored Expression Die Storage Box

With any of the magnetic sheet box systems, the focus is generally on storing the most number of dies in the least amount of space. This leads to a potential drawback: the dies may not be organized according to theme, brand or type—depending on your preferred grouping system. I have accumulated enough dies to consider it would probably be prudent to number the sheets in my boxes and create a digital index that can be easily updated.

Rubber stamping artist Jennifer McGuire of Jennifer McGuire Ink uses multiple wafer-thin die storage systems, one of which involves storing the dies in CD-sized plastic sleeves that store upright in open acrylic boxes. This system looks neat and attractive, and the sleeve flap keeps die pieces from falling out. If you have only one box, then it takes up little space, but if you have multiple boxes, as Jennifer does, you need to have a place for them. Jennifer has an awesome pullout drawer system that I’d like to relocate to my house, but in lieu of that, I’ll settle for admiring it. In the video below, Jennifer describes multiple wafer-thin die storage systems.

If you have wall space or an empty inside cupboard door, you can hang magnetic knife racks to store your wafer-thin dies. Sherrie Siemens of Card Creme shows us how, in her post titled Creative Chat, she uses IKEA magnetic knife racks to store her large collection of wafer-thin steel dies.

Photo courtesy of Sherrie Siemens of Card Creme

Photo courtesy of Sherrie Siemens of Card Creme

Jill Norwood of Greenwood Girl Cards uses various types of knife racks, some of which are stronger than others. Like Sherrie Siemens of Card Creme, she especially likes the ones from IKEA, and extends the use of them by inserting a round magnet between layers of dies.

There are a couple of tools that I consider to be essential for die storage. One is a set of die snips to cut apart connected die pieces in a set, and the second tool is a die file to remove the “nib” left behind when you cut apart die pieces.

Connected die pieces

These die pieces need to be cut apart, and the nibs need to filed down.

Both tools are available from Elizabeth Craft Designs. The die snips, which can double as a button shank remover, cost $8.95, while a pair of die files costs $4.95.

Die Snips and Die Files 2

If you have additional suggestions about wafer-thin die storage, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

© 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.