Stamparatus Success Tips

Stamparatus: A *must-have* positioning tool that will change the life of any stamper. Similar to the "other brands", except this one's on steroids!

If you don't already have your Stamparatus, you'll be able to order it beginning this Friday, June 1, at (Product #146276)

Recently I've been working on another one of my "making multiples" projects and have discovered several tips that have helped me fall even deeper in love with this gizmo (didn't know that was even possible!), and I'm sure it will do the same for you, too.


My project uses a long piece of cardstock, and images are ultimately stamped over much of its surface. Because the end has to extend beyond the surface of the platform I was finding that while I was initially using the Stamparatus in my usual orientation (clear "wings" either folding in from top or a side) I was frequently either getting unwelcome creases or ink on the extended end, just from handling the whole set-up. Given that I'm aiming to make somewhere around 100 of these eventually, that was definitely proving awkward.

So I flipped it all around.... extending the excess cardstock up at the top, facing away from me - and positioning my clear "wing" pointing towards me.  And that change alone reduced the amount of stray inky fingerprints and creases I ended up with. I found that I got more ink on the stamp (and less ink on the surrounding clear plate) by placing one hand underneath the "wing" while inking the stamp with my other hand.  And best of all I could actually see what I was doing because it was directly in front of me!

20180530_080847[1]One of the tips I'd already discovered in the past was to match the size of the ink pad to the size of the stamp. (Full-size ink pads for larger stamps and Stampin' Spots for the smaller ones.)  I already have a decent supply of Stampin' Spots from having been a Paper Pumpkin subscriber for so long, but I've also recently been filling in color gaps by making up my own Stampin' Spots in colors I've been missing. (BTW, you can order a set of empty spots here and ink them up with the refill colors of your choice. You DO already have the ink refills that match your ink pads, don't you?!?)

Since I'm doing so many of these I needed a quick and efficient way to get my cardstock lined up each time I needed to work on its other end. And 1" wide blue painter's tape proved the answer to that.  I just plopped a piece of my cut-to-size cardstock down on the platform, temporarily held it in place with magnets, and laid the painter's tape around 3 of its edges. So going forward I could just insert each piece of cardstock right into that template and anchor it with magnets. So far, the tape has held up like a charm, and it doesn't seem to leave any residue either!

And finally, just a reminder to conserve your precious cardstock while you're still designing your layout, and substitute printer paper or something else fairly cheap whenever possible instead. Personally, I use grid paper and/or printer paper for stamping on while I'm developing my layout, and modest-sized scraps of colored cardstock when pulling together colors and layers. I'll only cut a piece of colored CS to actual size once I've got the fussing-around steps mostly behind me and am pretty confident the project seems to be headed in a direction that's gonna work.

So if you don't already have your Stamparatus, mark your calendar for Friday, June 1, jump into my online store, and get one headed your way! 

My first Stampin' Up! sampler

Spring sampler 2017_1

Well it finally happened. My first 12" x 12" framed sampler. 

Not that I haven't adored all the gorgeous themed samples I've seen through the years; I guess I was just a little intimidated. But I finally bit the bullet last week, put together a color palette inspired by Fruit Stand DSP, and dug in. I hit a creativity roadblock after the first 7 squares, so I lost a bit of time 'cuz of that, but at least I got the project finished on the same day I started it.

Ironically, I think the hardest thing about this was getting a half-way decent picture, lol! It's been raining, cloudy and dark around here for days, and since I shoot under natural light.... well, there just hasn't been any. So I ultimately decided to just run with what I had, and maybe someday, should we ever see the sun again, I'll try for a better shot then!

Here's what my thinking went like when planning this:

  • Size - well, I already had the 12 x 12 frame, which I'd purchased a number of months ago. So that was a no-brainer.
  • Color Palette - primarily inspired by the Fruit Stand DSP collection (Tangerine Tango, Peekaboo Peach, Pear Pizzazz, Whisper White), and I substituted So Saffron for Daffodil Delight, then added Soft Sky (for some of the backgrounds) & Basic Black for punch. (Every square has both white and black in it.) I even used 2 pieces of the DSP itself.
  • Theme - flowers & nature
  • Dimension - I knew I wanted "some", but had to keep it modest because this would be displayed behind glass. (You can go all kinds of crazy with dimension if you're using a shadow box, though..... and I'm anxious to do one of those one of these days, too.)
  • Techniques - I also wanted to showcase a variety of techniques, as well, so I was deliberate about doing something different with each square as I developed it.

Each decorated square is 1-7/8" square (Whisper White CS or watercolor paper), which is then mounted on a 2" square of Whisper White, and then mounted on either a Pear Pizzazz or Tangerine Tango 2-1/4" square. I first laid out the pattern for the largest layers, then stamped the 9 decorated squares, mounted each to its white backing, and then spent quite a bit of time experimenting with overall arrangements before anchoring them down to their colored backgrounds.

Can't wait to do my next one!

Designing with Bits and Pieces - Part 3




This is the last of the Bits & Pieces design session that I'll be sharing from my personal stamp-a-thon last weekend.  

Bits and pieces 3 wo arrows

This one began centered around balloons because my scrap bag already held the Rich Razzleberry balloon (already punched and embossed), and it also had scraps of the two other colors of cardstock - each one just about the perfect size for a punched balloon. So the 3 balloons together quickly became my focal point..... but then I had to figure out where to go from there!

Further digging in my scrap bag turned up this scrap of striped Designer Series Paper (of the narrow-ish width you see here), and fortunately I was able to find a complementary piece of DSP (the polka dots) I could trim to go along with it. Placing the balloons directly on top of the printed backgrounds tended to wash them out, so the next 2 layers were born - to provide a simple white surface for the sentiment and focal point.

One more dive into my scrap bag brought me the silver bow, which I set off with a few rhinestones for a little extra bling. 

The arrows below show the 5 elements I was able to rescue from my "left-overs" scrap bag! Yee haw!!

Bits and pieces 3


Designing with Bits & Pieces


A little while ago I decided it was time to empty out and do something with some of the little "bits & pieces" I collect. You see, when I clean up my work space (which I seem to do far too rarely, but don't tell anyone, lol), I often find little leftover "bits & pieces" from a kit or Paper Pumpkin project I assembled, or some extra doo-dad from a card class I held, or something from a card design that got started once-upon-a-time and may have taken another direction - or just never got finished at all. So I keep a couple plastic bags on my desk and add those little tidbits to them at clean-up time.

So I decided recently it was time to pare down the contents of those bags a bit and see how I might actually USE some of those collected bits. I started by emptying out the bags and surveying what was there. (This is a partial sampling.)



From there, I started moving things around into little groupings of stuff that might go together.... whether by color and/or by theme - and several of those groupings eventually became the seeds for a card design.  I'll be highlighting some of the results in upcoming posts.

Here's the first completed card..... something that's been hanging around ever since last Christmas-stamping season. I've taken it out and looked at it from time to time during this past year, but just kept hitting a creative block. The concept had started out as a "black & gold" card. I remember being really excited about the somewhat different and elegant concept, and I'd made respectable progress on the card nearly a year ago - until I got totally stuck. Could NOT for the life of me figure out where it should go next! While the black & gold seemed pretty enough, it was just - well, boring.  I knew it needed a focal point, and that's the role the wreath was to play, but it still just wouldn't "work". 

So fast-forward nearly a year, and I finally figured out what the problem was. The volumes of each color where too similar..... often a no-no when planning a design. So I decided the answer might be to add a small amount of red for a bit of punch...... and here's what I ended up with.! I'm MUCH happier with it now!




Since this card had been "under construction" for the better part of a year, I didn't have to add much to it. As it turned out, I added a circle of Whisper White cardstock behind the wreath so the printed vellum underneath didn't show through.... and then I stamped and embossed the sentiment in red and fussy-cut its custom shape. Then I die-cut the bow from a scrap of red foil paper, and added a single rhinestone for bling. The arrows below show the only elements I actually added to what I'd started a long, long time ago! 


Stay tuned for more completed projects that have arisen recently out of my "bits and pieces" endeavor!

And in the meantime, if you're a FB friend and/or a regular customer of mine, I hope you'll join us for our 3rd annual World Card-Making Day Virtual Retreat! Hosted on Facebook, it'll be 48 hours of creativity and fun - from the comfort of your own home. (Although you DON'T have to be present for the entire time, of course!) So make sure you RSVP that you're attending (details are in the FB Event), and then gather up the goodies you plan to work with! And we'll see you in only a few more days!

World Card-Making Day 2016 - FB promo

Post Falls High School Craft Fair 2015

I had a ton of fun chatting with so many friendly people at the Post Falls High School Craft Fair on Saturday! And was especially impressed to see how many Stampin' Up! demonstrators dropped by! I think by day's end there had been about 7 or 8 demonstrators who'd popped in and introduced themselves; now, if only I was good with faces and names to remember 'em all for *next* time, lol!

And the morning crowd was amazing; I remember looking up at one point and seeing the (quite wide) aisle completely filled with people in both directions. This was obviously not only a craft fair, but the day's social meeting point as well!  :-)

If you've attended one of my booth events over the years you know that I'm not one to just hang and wait for someone to show up. But rather, I generally keep myself busy stamping some kind of little give-away goodies. This year and last I chose gift tags for that item, and this year I particularly wanted something I could crank out quickly and not have to clean stamps along the way. So what's my favorite "quick stamp" technique?  Something monochromatic! Not only can a single color of ink be a real wow, but it holds down supply costs and there's zero chance of sticking the stamp into the wrong ink pad! (Something that's always embarrassing to do in front of an audience.) I knew my working space would be limited, so the simpler, the better, I figured.

So here's the simple, monochromatic design I made and gave away 60-some Tag_Mossy_Meadow
of in 6 hours.  (Actually, more like 4-1/2 hours, because the last hour and a half of the 6-hour show was basically dead.)

This tag began as a 2" x 4" piece of Whisper White cardstock. I chose Mossy Meadow for the ink color, and then there were just a few simple steps.....

  1. I chomped off one end with the Scalloped Tag Topper punch.
  2. The snowy trees image (from "Happy Scenes" stamp set) was placed about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom. (Remember that when using photopolymer stamps, I always recommend placing a piercing mat underneath to compensate for the lack of foam layer on the stamp itself.)
  3. "Season's Greetings" image (from the same set) was placed in the lower area, closer to the left edge for weight balance.
  4. I applied 2-way glue pen in the areas to be glittered....
  5. Then dunked into Dazzling Diamonds glitter and shook off excess.
  6. Finally, I folded a 12" length of Whisper White Bakers Twine in half, brought the two ends together through the tag hole from back to front and looped through the fold for the tag ties.

IF I'd been able to find a "To / From" stamp I'd have either positioned that in the upper left-hand corner or on the back, but after searching in vain through my entire collection of current stamps I sadly concluded I must have sold or retired any such stamps that I once owned. Shoot. There are 3 such pairs of stamps in the current Holiday Catalog, and at least that many in the Annual Catalog, but doggone if I could find 'em when I was tearing through my stuff searching for 'em, lol! Oh well, we'll just call that "white space" - an important element of design, too.

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AND DON'T MISS THIS WEEK'S "WEEKLY DEALS" - available until discounted supplies are exhausted, or thru Monday, Nov. 16, whichever occurs first:

Garden in Bloom meets Fun Frames

Get the Look - Garden in Bloom meets Fun Frame

One of today's trendy looks is creating a focal point from a grouping of individual elements. Often, the sentiment is included as one of those grouped elements, and there may also be subtle texture or other visual interest in the background. This card features all of those.

Those who've been following me for a while know that some of my favorite techniques involve applying ink in non-traditional ways. This card features two such examples.

The diagonal lines of the background represent the first such technique. To get that look, I inked a stamping sponge (just by pouncing it on the Blushing Bride pad), and then dabbed it onto the center portion of the Brushstrokes stamp. I was careful to avoid extending the ink as far as any of the edges of the stamp, as that would give a harsh edge when stamped. Rather, what I was looking for here was a softer, more cloudy look, where the inked image just kind of fades in and out. Once the ink was applied, I stamped the background at that jaunty angle for yet more visual interest.

Another favorite way I like to use ink a little "out of the box" is when I want a piece of colored cardstock that's more subtle than the intense colors of our regular cardstocks. In this case I wanted a Blushing Bride flower, but a much softer shade of it than the Fun Frame it would be backed with. So I just burnished Blushing Bride ink onto a scrap piece of Whisper White cardstock with a stamping sponge before stamping the flower image onto it. (My version of "burnish" is to rub ink down into the cardstock in a circular motion. I actually do try to rub the ink right into the cardstock, so I start with a light hand and then get firmer and firmer as I rub in circles. Every time I reload the sponge from the ink pad I am careful to tap my sponge off once or twice onto my scratch paper so I don't accidentally get a "blob" of ink when I first touch the paper I'm working on. You can always add more ink, but can't take it away if you get a "blob", ya know.) So once I decided I had the color intensity I wanted for this, I just stamped the flower image (from Garden in Bloom) right onto my newly-colored paper and then fussy-cut it with Paper Snips.

The leaves are stamped in the more usual 2-step method this stamp set was designed for..... and then also fussy-cut.

When I first introduced this card at card class last month several of the ladies groaned at the assumption they'd have to cut out the center section of the embossed Fun Frame. But no worries there; it's just it's own layer of Whisper White cardstock (1-1/4" x 1-15/16") - stamped and applied on top of the frame! Easy-peasy!

Even though none of these elements is popped up on Stampin' Dimensionals I still wanted to retain a suggestion of depth anyway. So I only applied adhesive to the center areas of the frame, doily and flower, leaving their outer edges free.

Oh! And a tip for applying the sequins: place a tiny dot of Fine-tip Glue where you want the sequin to be, then lay the sequin right over it. Remember - that's a "TINY!" dot, in order to avoid a glue smear!

Don't you think this same general layout would be fun to work up into a Christmas card? I'd love to see your examples if you do that!


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A big ol' pile of notecards

Just finished making a big pile of these notecards, and I simply can't get enough of this Butterfly Basics! I am going to be SOOOOO sad if that stamp set doesn't make it into the upcoming catalog! Thankfully, we demonstrators will get to see the new catalog early tomorrow morning, so I don't have too many more hours to speculate and worry, lol.


As I was selecting colors for this design I knew I would use a green, of course, and I wanted 2 other bright colors as well. So I started by pulling out Mossy Meadow for my green, and then grabbed that super-yummy Blackberry Bliss as long as I was in the 2014-2016 In Colors section anyway. Daffodil Delight, which was already on my work table, seemed handy for the remaining 3rd color.

When I work with 3 different colors I usually think in terms of "large", "medium" and "small" volumes of the colors. So I decided for this card my "large" volume would be  Mossy Meadow, "medium" would be Daffodil Delight, and the splash of "small" would be done in Blackberry Bliss.

I started by playing around a bit with 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation stamping for the fern images..... working to get the angles (and rhythm) arranged in a way that would be quick and effective for the couple dozen I was just about to crank out. So that part went down first - on the entire pile of notecards. (Actually, when I'm cranking out a big bunch of cards just alike, I prefer to work assembly-line style, doing the same step on each card. That gets me in a rhythm and eliminates putting tools down and picking them back up again. Because every time you open or close an ink pad, or pick up or put down a stamp, time is ticking by.)

P4290196---webNext came that whimsical and unexpected stripe of Blackberry Bliss parallel to the bottom edge, and then a grouping of 3 images to help balance the weight of the dark ferns. The first part of that grouping, the word "HI", is from Sophisticated Serifs, another Occasions Catalog stamp set I surely hope also transitions into the upcoming catalog because I've found a lot of uses for THAT, too!

To get the letters even with one other I started by laying them down on the grid surface of my paper trimmer, the same way I demonstrated here. Once they seemed properly aligned, I just set my acrylic block straight down on top of them (with its lower edge also aligned with the grid) to pick them up as a unit. Of course I tested them on my grid paper before proceeding, and ended up adjusting the "I" slightly before calling it perfect. But from there on I was able to stamp the two letters together as one image. For placement, I just eye-balled it and aimed for about 1/3 of the way up, and 1/3 of the way in from the left. (Rule of thirds.) Figured that was generally close enough to be acceptable.

The remaining two images of the grouping of 3 also came from Butterfly Basics, with the butterfly being stamped onto scrap Whisper White cardstock and punched out with the Bitty Butterfly punch. A few random thumps of Daffodil Delight applied with that fascinating background stamp from the same set pulled the images together, and a couple of rhinestones on the butterfly finished it all off.

NOW to get these addressed and into the mail!

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