November 30, 2014

Distress Christmas Gift Tags


Hope everybody had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We had a lovely dinner with a small group of my family and have been enjoying a quiet rest-of-the weekend.  Yesterday, I spent FIVE hours on Skype catching up with Hels.... you know... THE Hels Sheridan.  We haven't had a good old Skype session since end of August and it was FABulous.  We talked, we giggled, we even wiggled along to some music blasting from my iPod.... and best of all, we came up with a new "I Challenge Thee" for her weekly Sunday Stamper project - she even let me pick the song!  

Here's our recipe:

* Distress ink
* Clear embossing powder
* Nostalgic Batik technique
* Manila tag(s) - Hels did one BIG tag (#12) - I'm doing lots of small ones (#4) 
* Christmas themed stamps and dies of choice
* Tinsel / garland
* Bells / jingle bells
* A bow  (that was Hels' way of torturing me... groan....)
* Other Christmas embellishments of choice

The key to this recipe is the Nostalgic Batik technique.  This technique allows you to fool people by making them wonder how you stamped a light image over a darker or contrasting image without the colors blending or stacking on top of the other.  You'll need some newsprint and an iron.

For the most dramatic effect, start by stamping an image in a light shade of distress ink and then *immediately* coat the image with clear embossing powder.  Tap off the excess and then heat-set to melt the clear powder.  Now your light colored image has a protective coat on top, so it will act as a resist to any inks you put on top of it.

Now, ink the rest of your tag with darker, contrasting shades of distress ink.  See how the lighter colors stay true?  So cool.  Now comes the magic... sandwich your tag between two sheets of newsprint, and use an iron on top.  Move the iron back and forth slowly over your tag (which is UNDER a sheet of newsprint).  The heat will re-melt the embossing powder and the newsprint will absorb it, so when you're finished, you can never tell that the image was embossed.  LOVE this technique - was one of my favorites at Ranger U.

I worked mostly with Tim Holtz Christmas stamps (classic, old-school ones from 3-4 years ago).  I added water spots to most of the tags by spritzing water and heat drying.  I added some Perfect Pearl mist to a couple of tags, and some rock candy crackle to other tags (this will reactivate the distress ink and cause a little bit of blurring, but I didn't mind...)  

I also decided to add a metallic edge to all my tags, so I tapped the edges of all the tags in embossing ink (Versamark or other), and coated with metallic embossing powder - I love a border - makes all the difference.  Other than that, I kept them pretty simple.  I may add some more embellishments later, but these will be placed on Christmas gifts, so I need to leave room for the "To's" and "From's", which I'll hand stamp with a mini alpha stamp set.

Be sure to head over to Hels' blog HERE to check out her Giant #12 manila tag, done using the same techniques.  It always amazes me how we use the same materials/recipe and get *completely* different results.

Thanks for stopping by!

~ ellen.

November 11, 2014

Altered Manila Folder


A few months ago I altered a whole collection of manila office folders to bring some of my artsy life into my work life.  Click HERE, HERE, HERE, or HERE to see some of my prior folders.  I had a need for a new folder at work and realized that all my "pretty" folders had been used up, so I decided to make another one.  I'll be slowly building up another collection over the coming weeks and months.

This folder has a background painted solely with a brayer, with several layers of color.  The ultimate background turned out to have a definite Fall/Autumn color scheme.  I used two of my PaperArtsy stamps (washer stamp and mini scratchy circle) as well as two stamps from my "had them for AGES" collection (both from Stampin' Up! Sanded scratchy background, and the sketchy leaf/flower stamp).

I decided not to stamp the leaf/flowers on the back of the folder, since it would rarely be seen.  Here's a few close ups.

Once I stamped the leaf/flower stamp across the front of the folder, I extended the stems with a fine-tip black pen, and then painted in each leaf with an off-white paint.  This provides a nice contrast with the background.  But then I did something very unusual (for me)... I added Stickles!  I'm not usually a glitter kind of gal, but for some reason a little hint of sparkle sounded just right for this folder.

Hope you like the folder - I had fun making it, and you'll be seeing more soon!  Have a great day.

~ ellen.