Concepts and Techniques Tips

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Valentine cards?

Basic Rules for Good Design

Basic cardmaking design tips include:

* Use co-ordinated colors and try not to use any more than 3 colors on a card.

* Layer or mat to give your card that professional look.

* Make sure that you are careful when cutting layers - straight edges and exact corners are a "must" for a good looking card.

* Seek out visual "triangles." Images in odd number groups (2,5,7...) are most pleasing. This basic design principle is universal.

* Don`t "overdo" a card. Stop layering and coloring before it looks like "too much." Remember, sometimes less is more.

direct to paper?

What is 'direct to paper'?

Have you heard of this technique, but don't know how to do it? It's actually very simple! "Direct to paper" means that you don't use a stamp, but apply the ink directly onto your paper. This works well if you are using the smaller ink pads, such as the Color Box line of Cats Eye and Petal Point pads. Color Box styluses as well as daubers and other tools may also be used to transfer color. This technique is most commonly used to create backgrounds. The best results come from using 2-3 colors.


Storing Your Collage Supplies

You really enjoy collecting "things" to use as collage on your cards - how should you store them? Remember that some collage items can deteriorate. It is best to store like things together and unlike things apart.

You can get ziplock bags from the grocery store to store your supplies in. These are great because they are archivally safe for storage. Try to squeeze as much air out before sealing to help prevent deterioration.

For items like leaves, which may get crushed, buy the small sandwich sized plastic containers from the supermarket.


Punches - what to do if they're sticking

If you have a punch that keeps "sticking" you just have to cut through a piece of waxed paper a couple of times. This should lubricate the blades and make the punch work much more efficiently.

getting a good stamped impression

Getting a great stamped image with your wood-mounted stamps!

Make sure that you have inked your stamp well, by turning it over and inspecting the stamp. Then, place your stamp in the position you want it on your card/paper. Use a straight down/straight up motion: straight down on the paper, hold for several seconds so the ink has time to transer; than straight up again. Try not to "rock" your stamp, or you may be left with unwanted edges.


Stamping on it

If you find that your shrink plastic is curling up on itself too much when it is being heated, just use a wooden popsicle/ice block/icy pole stick to prevent it from curling. This works best when you are heating the plastic with a heat gun (don't stick your hand into the hot oven if using the oven heating technique!).


Transfering an image to and from a brayer

Ink up a stamp with a dye ink. Roll your brayer across the stamp several times and then roll the brayer onto gloss card stock. Repeat this with a slightly different shade of ink, and you'll get a great looking background.


Hot Glue Seals

You love stamping and you love using a hot glue gun! You an use your hot glue gun to create your own "seals" for use on collage cards. Just squeeze out a large circle of hot glue and wait until it sets just slightly. Then just press the stamp of your choice into the glue and leave it there until the glue has set. You can use the stamp uninked or ink it up with a metallic pigment ink.


Reversing an image with your brayer

You can use your brayer to reverse an image. Stamp the image in the ink of your choice, and then run the brayer over the stamp once. Then take the brayer and roll the image out on paper. Your original image will appear in reverse.

Stamping in scrapbooks?

Stamping in scrapbooks/photo albums

The art of "scrapbooking" (creating decorated and photosafe pages and albums to put your photographs onto)is becoming more and more popular, and you can use your stamping skills to decorate your scrapbook pages as most inks are acid free and photosafe. In addition, many inks are "archival" meaning that they are fadeproof.


Brayering with shadow ink/tea staining

Unfortunately, white cardstock can sometimes be too bright a color for the final “look” that you want for a card. If you have an image stamped onto white card and want to darken the background slightly – a nice coffee/tea stained color maybe - mask your image and brayer over the whole piece with a soft beige color. You will have an antiqued effect.

How do I create the effect of motion?


Use this technique to create the illusion of motion. Ink up your stamp, stamp onto your paper, and, without lifting the stamp move your image in the direction OPPOSITE the direction your want your image to appear to be moving in. When you lift your stamp, you will discover that the ink has left a trail behind the image. This trailing effect is a common technique for creating motion in drawing, cartooning, etc., and now you can create this effect with your stamp!

How do I use shrink plastic?

Preventing it from sticking

If you have a problem with the shrink plastic rolling up and sticking to itself while being heated, then you could try dusting the piece with talcum powder before heating it.


Types available

Shrink plastic comes in several different "colors" including white, black, and clear. Everyone should have a "play" with clear (in my opinion) because it is great fun!


Stamping onto your brayer

Ink up a small stamp with clear pigment ink and stamp it randomly across some gloss card stock. Roll your brayer across a coloured dye ink pad and then roll it onto your gloss card stock. The ink will not stick to the previously stamped images and will create a lovely look.

What can I do with a brayer?

Reverse stamping effect with a brayer and pigment ink

Achieve a reverse stamping effect with this technique: brayer 2 or more colors of pigment ink across some glossy cardstock. Take an uninked stamp and stamp it onto the brayered surface - it will actually take the ink "away" from the cardstock. Do this until you have created a look that you like. Emboss or apply fixative to your finished product.


Using a brayer for inking stamps

Some large stamps are very hard to ink up evenly. These stamps can be easily inked up by inking up your brayer and brayering the ink onto the stamp. Be sure to lift up your brayer between rolls on the inkpad. If you roll it back and forth without lifting, your brayer will have ink concentrated on a limited area of the brayer.

How do I make my own cards?

Impress Your Friends!

With a little effort, and a bit of online research, you can start creating your own greeting cards and stationary projects. Most friends and relatives will appreciate the time you spend creating cards "just for them". Read more about rubberstamping and give it a try!


Creating Resist with Embossing Ink and Your Brayer

Here's a fast and easy resist technique. Using embossing ink, stamp a random pattern on glossy cardstock. Use a heat tool to dry. Now, ink up your brayer with the color of your choice, and brayer over the cardstock. Your previously stamped images will pop up against the background of your chosen color. This technique also works well with a rainbow pad!

How do I fold my card?

Folding Your Card

If you want to achieve a nice fold for a card you really need to use something like a "bone folder". These can be bought from most specialty stamping stores and are used in conjunction with a ruler. Basically, you rule a line with the bone folder and this creates an indent in the card which makes it easier to fold.


Creating backgrounds (gingham)

You can create a gingham look by drawing straight lines on your brayer with your brush markers. Use two different colors to create your stripes. Roll your brayer across your gloss card stock in one direction and then turn the card 90degrees and roll again.

stamping inspiration?

Getting Inspiration

Inspiration sometimes eludes even the best stampers! This is why so many of us subscribe to magazines and newsletters. My recommendation is to find a magazine whose style seems to appeal to you, and to take out a yearly subscription.


Embossing your Image

Don't insert an ink cartridge in your Rollagraph handle. Just roll the stamp across your pigment ink pad and then roll across your card/paper stock. Then sprinkle with embossing powder and heat as normal. Don't forget to "anti-static" your card/paper stock before stamping!

stamp problems?

Lines and corners STILL showing on your images?

If you find that a corner or line of rubber continues to appear with your image, and you are not rocking the stamp, cut the excess rubber around the image. Use an exacto knife to cut away large margins of rubber, coming in close to the image. A good test of what rubber to cut away is to ink up the stamp, turn it over, and examine where on the rubber, other than your image, the ink is appearing.


Punches - you can use them in cardmaking

Punches are very handy for using in stamping projects. You can either layer the punched out shapes onto your card front; or you can use your punch to cut shapes out of your card front. If you check out some of the Punch Art sites online you'll also find some great patterns you can use to create scenes using your punches.


What is Collage?

Collage is very popular in the world of rubber stamping. In collage, a variety of seemly disparate images are placed together to convey a theme, idea or feeling. Collage generally makes use of mixed media - for instance, items such as feathers, old coins and postage, travel materials, may be grouped with stamped or painted surfaces.


Smudging ink - how to prevent it

If you find that your ink is not drying and is still smudgy, you will probably have to change the brand of ink you are using. Some brands of permanent ink work better than others. Also, be sure that you are not over-inking your stamp.


Some items you can collect for collage.

If you're stuck for ideas on what to use on your collage projects then maybe this list will give you some inspiration:

old jewelry or components of...
old coins
old stamps
new stamps
dried flowers
board game peices
images from old cards and wrapping paper
images from old magazines and publications

Why are the edges of the stamp showing in my image?

Lines and corners showing on your images?

If the edges of the rubber on your stamp are making impressions near your images, remember the following basic stamping technique - straight down, even pressure and straight up again. Don't "rock" your stamp as you are placing your image.


Ways to incorporate photographs in collage.

Photographs can be used in collage in various ways...

Color copy an old photograph (sepia) and then attach it to your piece. You can do various things to it to give it an authentic look:- brush it with tea/coffee; rip the edges; stamp words across it with sepia colored ink...

If you don't have an old sepia photograph, then copy an old photograph in black and white and stain it with tea or coffee to give it the sepia look. You could also brayer a sepia colored ink across the image, or try one of the shadow inks available.


Where do you START?

So, where DO you start with collage? Probably one of the first things you need to do is establish a collection of items that you can use to create your collaged artworks. To do this you just need to keep your eyes open for little "bits" that you can find every day.

Some collage items are very common, in fact that can be soooo common that you don`t even notice them!
Click here for a list of some potential collage items.

making cards?

What size?

The most common size for finished cards is A5 which measures 15cm x 21cm, but you can use any size card you want to!


What is it?

Shrink plastic is sold in sheets. It is a type of plastic that will shrink when heated. You can usually heat it either by placing it in your oven or heating with a heat gun.


How to use it

Shrink plastic can be tricky. You need to follow the instructions on the pack of plastic - some of them need sanding and some don't. Stamp the image with permanent ink and then use waxy pencils or artists permanent pens to colour your image. You can heat the plastic by placing it onto a ceramic tile and heating with your heat gun until shrunken. You can also heat it in the oven. I find the heat gun to be more efficient.


Creating backgrounds

Rollagraph stamps are great for creating backgrounds and borders for your cards. You can also roll out strips and cut them up to layer onto your card fronts. You need to invest in a handle; a stamp; and an ink cartridge. You just put the 3 components together and roll away!


Creating backgrounds

The easiest way to use a brayer to create a great background is to write all over the brayer with a marker - or several. Be creative - do squiggles/spirals etc. Then roll your brayer across a piece of gloss cardstock and you have instant background!

getting a good stamped impression

Getting a great stamped image with your foam stamps

Foam stamps are a little trickier to work with than stamps mounted on wood or acrylic. Edges of the stamp coming along with the desired image is a common problem. Think of ringing a doorbell; lay the stamp down where you want to position your image, than press into the center of the stamp. Hold for several seconds so the ink has time to transfer.


Create your own stationary

You can create your own stationary sets with a rollagraph stamp. Fold a piece of card in 1/2 and place it in the centre of a larger piece of notepaper grade paper. Roll your stamp diagonally across all the layers from the bottom corner to the top corner. Remove the card from the top and you have a decorated card and a bordered piece of stationary. Make in sets of 6 and tie the sets with a nice piece of ribbon with a pen attached. Ta da! Instant presents for teachers and friends.


How to get an evenly rolled image.

To prevent yourself from "rocking" the stamp while rolling, just make sure you put your index finger along the top welded join on the rollagraph handle. This will steady your hand.

uses for solid stamps?

Solid Image Alternatives

Try this technique with either a pattern stamp or pattern stencil, and your favorite solid image.
Ink your solid image very well. Turn it over and press it firmly onto your pattern stamp or stencil (if using a stencil, be sure to have a blotter underneath.)
Now, without re-inking, apply your solid stamp to paper. Your solid image will have taken on the pattern, as the pattern stamp or stencil will have lifted ink off the image.
This is a great way to add texture to your solid images.


Making your own designs

If you want to create your own artwork with shrink plastic you just need to draw your image with a permanent pen onto the plastic. Color in with wax based pencils or permanent pens, and then shrink as per instructions. You could try simple shapes to start with eg: trace your child's hand to make a necklace for grandma.


Quick and Easy with a Brayer and Cheesecloth!

For an earthy, worn "shabby chic" look, lay a piece of cheesecloth over your cardstock, and brayer ink over the cheesecloth. Try this with a deep blue ink for a faded denim look!


Soaking Stamps off Envelopes

You desperately want to use a stamp on your work, but it's still attached to the envelope! Just tear around the stamp and then place the stamp and the paper into a shallow saucer of warm water. You can leave it to soak for around 1/2 hour and by then it should have freed itself from the envelope remains. Allow to dry and it's ready for use on your projects.

large stamps

Large Stamps - how to get a good impression

So you fell in love with a really large stamp and now you can't get it inked up evenly so that you create a nice evenly inked image? You probably need to buy a rubber brayer. You just roll the brayer across your ink pad and then roll the ink onto your stamp - then stamp as normal. This gives a nice even coat of ink with no ink lines etc.

how to save on cardstock?

Recycle Cardboard and other materials

Sometimes it can feel as though you're spending all your money on buying cardstock for stamping on! Start looking at the packaging you handle everyday. Maybe you can use the cereal box by cutting it open and stamping on the inside? Maybe a magazine arrived in your mailbox with an address sheet at the front that you can use the back of...With so much paper in our lives, your own imagination is the limit!

liquid applique

Creating a Leather Look with Liquid Applique

Roll your brayer in the liquid applique until it has a nice even coating. Roll the liquid applique onto the card until it has a nice smooth full coverage. Heat with your embossing heat tool immediately, and you have a leather look.

stamping tips

Make More than One Card!

When you sit down to make a card get 2 of everything out, and make 2 of the same card! You can then file the spare one away and use it when you need a card in a hurry.

Stamp & Scratch?

Stamp & Scratch Paper

This is a great new product on the market. It is specially coated paper/card. You just stamp and heat emboss an image onto the coated side of the card, and then use the provided scratch stick to scratch away the blank areas within the image.

You can visit the manufacturers site at to find out more about this.

How can I cut my card?

Cutting Your Card/Paper

There are several ways of cutting your paper or card. My favorite is the Fiskars 12" Paper Trimmer. This cuts wonderfully straight lines with little effort and will also score your papers with a quick change of the carriage blade.


Punches - if the blades are blunt

If you use punches you will find that the blades will become blunt at some stage. To sharpen them you just need to punch through a sheet of kitchen foil a couple of times. If they are still not sharp enough you can also try cutting through fine sandpaper.

recycled cards?

Recycling Old Cards and Calendars

Recycle old calenders with their borders, and old cards with different pictures to cut out. They make great cards! Fun for kids too.

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Guru Spotlight
Kristle Jones