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.

Jan 212015

Earlier this week I mentioned that one of my goals in 2015 is to find ways to streamline my creative process. In other words, I want to work more efficiently. A second goal is to be more thrifty—to use more of the materials I have on hand instead of buying new ones so frequently. Right now I am working my way through a box filled with packages of paper-and-fabric flowers from Petaloo, Pink Paislee, Prisma and lots of other companies whose names don’t begin with the letter “P.” Some of the flowers are too big to use for my mini books, so I will have to find other uses for them.

Box of paper-and-fabric flowers

One fact is certain, however. I will likely run out of some colors of flowers faster than others, and will need to replace them. My intent is to use the scraps of paper I save after crafting projects are completed. I throw few scraps away, as you can tell from the messy three-ring binder below, in which I’ve grouped papers into approximate color families. The binder is hyper-extended when closed, so it’s obvious that I have plenty of paper scraps to craft flowers. It takes time to do so, but is creatively satisfying.

Scrap paper binder

I have run out of certain shades of purple flowers, and have no lavender ones at all, so when I needed to complete a book cover a couple of days ago, I flipped through the pages of my scrap paper binder until I found the color I needed. It took very few items to assemble my flower:

  • paper, glue and scissors
  • Tim Holtz® Alterations Movers & Shapers™ dies and a Bigz die, all of them from the Tattered Florals line
  • Sizzix Starry Night embossing folder to texturize the paper
  • Tim Holtz® Distress Ink in Victoria Velvet to modify the color of the paper somewhat
  • a skinny paintbrush whose handle was used to curl the petals in a random fashion
  • an adhesive pearl for the center of the flower

Basic tools for first flower

All I had to do was cut out the flowers with my Big Shot die cutting machine, emboss them, color them, curl the petals, and glue the pieces together. If you don’t have a cutting die, I honestly think you could draw the flowers freehand and cut them out with scissors. It’s a simple process.

First flower

The assembly process for the above flower was so easy, in fact, that I decided to challenge myself yesterday by crafting a second flower using a tutorial from talented scrapbooking artist Lisa Nazario-Gregory of the blog, What a Beautiful Mess, not to be confused with the Web site, A Beautiful Mess. They are two completely different sites. Almost two years ago, Creative Director Tim Holtz of Ranger Industries ran a design contest using Tattered Flowers cutting dies. Lisa was one of the five winners. You can see her beautiful flowers in the first photo in this post, and you can find her tutorials in the side bar of her blog. I skimmed through her tutorials, searching for the ones that used Tattered Florals dies, until I narrowed my choice down to the Fairy Cosmos Flower. This flower uses a combination of McGill flower punches, as well as a Tattered Florals die.

McGill and Tattered Florals Dies

Lisa does such a wonderful job of outlining the steps for making this flower that I am going to refer you directly to her tutorial.

One of the nice things about the Tattered Florals dies is that there is virtually no wrong way to assemble the flowers, as long as you build them up from the largest layer to the smallest. You can make your flowers from paper, fabric, foil, corrugated cardboard, grunge board or grunge paper, leftover clear plastic packaging, and I’m sure there are materials I’ve left off of this list. Basically, you’re limited only by your imagination. In the video below, Sizzix art room designer Debi Adams discusses many possible materials that can be used with the Bigz XL Jumbo Tattered Florals Die by Tim Holtz®.

As for me, my version of Lisa Nazario-Gregory’s Fairy Cosmos Flower matches the gratitude book I created over the weekend. I can’t wait to see what other kinds of flowers I can craft using Tattered Florals dies.

2nd flower

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Jan 282014

We just came back from a spaghetti dinner at Cheesecake Factory tonight, the result of John’s claim that our kitchen smells like a glue factory and he didn’t want to cook there. I am working on some book covers with a Valentine’s Day theme, and didn’t really notice the odor, but if it resulted in the chance to eat out, why complain?


On the way home, I convinced John to stop at Archiver’s. If you recall, I mentioned in a previous post that the national chain store is going out of business.  Everything is on sale, currently at 40 to 50 percent off regular price. The stores are supposed to close in mid-February, but as I strolled through the aisles, I did not see enough merchandise to justify staying open that long. Most of the fixtures have pre-sold, and the shelves look like a swarm of locusts went through them. During one of my last trips, I picked up stacking paper trays, which I am happy to report I have completely filled . . . and then some.


Today’s visit to Archiver’s yielded some lovely wooden buttons from the Lucille line of Basic Grey. I imagine these will get used in my crochet projects. I especially like the button that looks like the top of a wooden spool of thread. That one may be saved for a sewing journal.


John discovered some sticky note pads in the back of the store with the Staples brand name on them. All 24 pads cost less than four dollars. Why do we need so many? Well, we don’t, but this year Students for a Creative Iowa is celebrating its 25th anniversary of creative problem-solving, and intends to put up a memory wall at one of the tournaments, where Iowa’s Destination Imagination teams can post notes telling everyone what they especially appreciate, remember or have learned from the program. These sticky note pads will do the trick, I think.


Besides the wooden buttons, I found some Tim Holtz dies I can use to cut out decorative shapes. These were all half-price, what you’d consider “nice to have” at full price, but “gotta have” at half-price.

Tim Holtz Dies

Did you know that if you have an iPhone or Android phone, there’s an app for Tim Holtz products that helps you keep track of the ones you already have, as well as the ones you wish you had? I hear some of you laughing in the background as I describe this thing, and let me assure you that I’m laughing with you. But . . . I have the app, and it’s great!

John tells me that he’s pretty sure I have gotten everything I need or want from Archiver’s by now. He is probably right, but I always hedge my bets with “we’ll see.” And we will!

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.