Veni, Vidi, Ventus --
The randomly chaotic and crafty scribblings of a deranged, wannabe artist allowed too many colours in her Crayon box.

Surgeon General's Warning: Some content of "From Pooka's Crayon" may not be suitable for: work, blue-haired little old ladies, the politically-correct, rabid moonbats, uptight mothers, priests, chronic idiots, insurance claims agents, Democrats, children, small furry quadropeds from Alpha Centauri, or your sanity.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Random thoughts on setting faceted stones

Hey! Not dead!

It's 7:30 in the morning, I still haven't been to sleep yet, and don't honestly see it happening any time soon. Sleep deprivation dragged me back here.

It's going to seem like a total segue, this and other recent posts from those in the past, but trust me, I can play Kevin Bacon with every single wacky crafty thing I've done.

So, wandering back into a childhood obsession (Going through bookshelves, I found a gem and mineral book with a note written inside marking it as a gift on my *10th* birthday, and I just turned 42 -- and did you miss my Random Injected Thoughts?) with geology and volcanoes (Kevin Bacon), I started my wanderings and collectings again. The husband has brought home some fabulous rock samples: Cleburne fossils, some lovely painted sandstone, Montana agates and sapphires(!), basalt, scoria, volcanic breccia .... I love how tolerant he is sometimes. The two large chunks of amethyst geode that I have came from him. WHOA, speaking of segues ... total brainfart there. Back to the show.

Right. Volcanoes. Olivine bombs. Peridot, and three August birthdays. Gemstones. Jewelry. Kevin Bacon.

I see an awful lot of recommendations that surprise me, though that the offenders are the ones trying to sell the items doesn't. Durability really needs to be a consideration when choosing gemstones you want to set in jewelry.

NOTE: Technically (according to whichever competing school you ascribe to), mountings and settings are NOT interchangeable words. Mountings are the receptive medium for the stone you are Setting, which is the act of placing the stone in the Mounting. Of course, now that I've listed the definition, I'm sure I'm going to promptly require a rap on the knuckles.

Since I may be slightly above the normal level of wear and tear on jewelry, take this as it's meant. This is for ME, and my Things, who have my lack of grace, abundance of clutziness, and a tendency to abuse our hands. It may not apply to you at all. Then again, it might. Keep reading.

Stones *I* would personally avoid putting into rings and bracelets:
  • expensive tanzanites or chrome diopsides. Not very durable. If the stone and setting cost me around 20 bucks, I consider it acceptable. For an engagement or wedding ring? I guess it's a good thing divorce is so common: the stones don't last, either.
  • apatite of any sort, petalite, kyanite. Seriously. They're fragile.
  • flourite. This can be delicate to set at ALL, much less in a ring.
  • anything below a Mohs hardness of 6. Look, I'm hard on jewelry.
  • CVD coated gems. It can rub off: it's not necessarily permanent. Honest.
Other random faceted thoughts:
  • Pleochroic gemstones tend to take terrible pictures. Keep this is mind when looking online for gems.
  • Always do footwork first, and embrace your GoogleFu, grasshopper. Check the prices of stones on a variety of sites before buying, and if you can, see what you can find locally to get a good idea of what to expect.
  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. See the flux ruby market flood fiasco for a case in point. (Here's a chance to practice your GoogleFu!)
  • Don't neglect to take shipping charges into account. This applies to anything, really. If you can get it locally, without paying shipping, and it evens out? Buy local.
  • BEWARE OF THE HYPE! Again, do your homework. If someone claims something about a stone, they need to be able to back it up with facts. (Ie, if supplies of certain stones are so low, why are they absolutely *everywhere*?) Are they just WAY too enthusiastic about pushing something, especially when you know it's not appropriate to the usage of the stone?
  • Along the lines of Hype, beware "estimated appraisal values." If they're trying to sell you something, odds are good they're not going to tell you the piece is worthless. Decide on a personal basis what your lower limit is for stones you'll pay to have appraised: after all, if you have to pay for an appraisal, 125$ to ID a 5$ stone is probably not going to be in your best interests. Do your homework, and don't fall for inflated appraisal values. If you're in doubt at all about your stone, take it to another appraiser.
  • Location, location, location. This applies more to collectors than those purchasing for jewelry. Russian demantoid garnet. Burma ruby. Kashmir sapphire. Columbian emerald. You get the point. This also gives you a base to test the stone against to be sure you have what you think you have.
  • Beware of any surface-treated gemstones. Likewise, beware of "plated" and "gold over sterling." These processes can't be guaranteed as permanent.
  • "Irradiated" does not mean "radioactive." Your general living environment will cause cancer long before an irradiated gemstone will.
  • Shapes with points -- emerald, trillion, baguette, pear, princess, etc -- should, if possible, be bezel or channel set, or V-prongs used to protect the points from damage.
These next few are important.
  • Guys ... Seriously here for a minute. I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir on this one for the most part, but listen up. If you're paying 50 bucks or so and getting 10 ctw or so of RUBIES? They're Not Natural Stones. They may be "REAL" rubies, but they'll have been treated, sometimes to the point that they're as fragile as glass. Check all of your stones carefully under loupe to see if they can not only survive wear and tear, but being set in the first place. The same goes for emeralds, sapphires, labradorites ( ..... Just Don't Go There, or I'll Use Bad Language. I've heard all the available sides of the story, and I don't want to hear any more. People make mistakes. YOU DID, TOO, by thinking you were getting something elite for only a few bucks a carat. AHAH, gotcha, din't I? Nuff said.)
  • "These gemstones *cannot* accept any treatment." (Emphasis not mine.) Whoooa, Nelly! Rein her in there, cowboy. Here's a little eye-opener for you: garnets *can* be treated; peridot CAN be treated; tourmalines can be treated and mimicked; labradorite can be treated -- have I made my point? GoogleFu. Get an assortment of books. Sometimes you have to collect more information than stones -- they may not be as shiny or easy to carry, but the knowledge is worth a thousand times more. Buyer beware, indeed.
  • Minimum weight versus average weight. Minimum could mean less than 5% of the stones of a particular calibration were that weight, and the rest are all larger. Average, you take your chances on getting a smaller stone. If you're buying for jewelry, I'd place calibrated millimeter size above carat weight. If you're buying purely for value ... you may be in the wrong blog. ("If diamonds are a girl's best friend, I shouldn't need a bra" will wait for another day.)
  • This is all about perspective. I'm not going to pull out diagrams and Kevin Bacon math again (I may be lying there, so keep that in mind), but here's a few hints in the right direction.
    ** 1 ct stones are The Mark, the cherished number for jewelers and nervous fiances everywhere. From 1 ct up, stone values can multiply exponentially, dependent of course on rarity, faceting, color, clarity ... Yadda yadda yadda. Now, depending on the cut, a 1 ct stone isn't necessarily that big. Carat weight depends on the specific gravity of the gemstone in question, and can vary quite a bit.
    ** Glancing at my earring studs, I see a large number of 5mm stones, a lot of 6x4s, a whole bunch of 3mms, 5x3s and even 2s and 1s in some of them, and that's just the ones I regularly wear. These are all Perfectly Average Sizes for stud earrings. Go shopping, GoogleFu and wander into Your Everyone Has One corner jewelry store. Look at the average sizes on just plain normal studs.
    ** If you have more than one hole in your ear, and you decide to wear a monstrous 10mm gemstone, unless you have huge earlobes this is going to make wearing an earring in the second hole difficult. Smaller ears are also a problem, especially again with multiple holes.
    ** If you receive 6x4mm stones that were advertised as 6x4mm stones, then complain about how small they are -- whose error is that? Not the seller's. Get a millimeter gauge and USE IT. The only excuse for complaining about getting *exactly* what you paid for is a lack of knowledge.
    ** You know what I have a problem with? NOT receiving small accent stones. Out of all the faceted parcels I've purchased, I've never, EVER received anything smaller than 3mm. Do you know what the most common accent stone sizes are? 1.5, 2, 2.5, and 3mm. Know what I have to hunt down and purchase separately? Yeah. "Tiny" ie, perfectly sized and proportional accent stones to complete jewelry pieces.
Not-so-random musings on setting stones:
  • When in doubt of your skills, have a jeweler set your stones.
  • If you have a chance, take a class on bench jewelery. Barring that, at least do some research and study before grabbing the pliers and thinking anyone can do it.
  • Use the right tools for the job. There's a reason why there's so many specialist tools out there. Don't be trying to yank a stone out of its mounting without the proper tool, either.
  • And speaking of the Proper Tools: a lot of these stones are truly delicate. Seeing someone grab kyanite with uncoated metal tweezers makes me cringe every time, I don't give a pig's whisker how good you think you are. There are coated tools, goo to coat your tools (also good to make handles more comfortable), tweezers with rubber sleeves ... Choose, but choose wisely, Indiana! :D ALSO: Tweezers with coated tips prevent a lot of fumble fingered handling with very small and very large stones. There's absolutely no reason you should have to keep throwing your stones across the room -- YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! (Guilty!)
  • It's all too easy to mangle your setting, your stone, or both. Practice makes perfect, but practice on the cheaper stuff. Your sanity will thank you.
  • When in doubt, consult a jeweler. (No, that's not deja vu)
  • Yes, you CAN use mountings of a different mm size than the stone, provided that the mounting and stone are the same shape, and the prongs fit securely. Generally, no more than .5 mm off from the setting is a good bet. Example: 3.5 mm stone can fit in a 3 or a 4 mm mounting, though it will be more secure in the 3. However, it's always best to try to find the right size in the first place.
  • If your stone doesn't want to go into the setting, check the culet depth. The stone may have too deep a belly for the setting.
  • Emerald mountings and true emerald cut stones (not the rectangular octagon or cushion) can be difficult to set. Mountings that have corner posts are very difficult to bend over the sharp corners of a stone. I recommend a jeweler.
  • Pre-notched mountings have had a special tool applied to notch out the posts to make room for a calibrated stone. If the mounting you've purchased is NOT pre-notched, this is not something you can do yourself unless you have a whole lot of time to learn, and a massive wallet to spend the tool money. Best bet? Yep, get a professional to notch the setting for you. (Note: some stores offer cheap pre-notching services when you buy a setting from them, so if you're purchasing an unnotched mounting, check and see.)
  • Even if you use one of the variety of snap-in-place mountings, make sure you tighten the prongs once set to be certain the stone is secure.
  • "Requires finishing" or "requires final polishing" mean you're going to have some work to do to clean up the mounting before you can wear it, and often aren't particularly large in descriptions.
Hope you enjoyed this chaotic wandering through my insomnia-wracked brain. A welcome to my new readers -- hope this helps!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Green" Expressions I

All right. Take a step back, grab another cigarette, don't go off into a rant about "Green Guilt" and ....


I hate wasting things. Or rather, my brain won't LET me waste: it can always come up with a use for something, no matter how trivial it may seem. I have to make the most of the money I spend, and the most of what I can magpie.

Case in point, and. You slab, you shape, you facet, you polish -- but what about all that "garbage" rough leftover? With just a bit of non-linear Pooka-style thinking, you can reduce your wasted material by at least 50%.

(Note: I'm not going to go into my usual intricate How-To instructions at this time, these are merely ideas. If there are requests for detailed projects, then I'll worry about working up tutorials.)

are easy to accomplish.
  • There are hundreds/thousands of mosaic and pattern books available ("Green"-cough- tip: Check out Half Price Books and other used book stores. You can also find sites and references online. Just download and print as needed.)
  • Rough can be used as is, tumbled, or given a polish. If you slab and cab, you can easily create custom shapes out of the "junk" to use as tiles. Since there are multiple methods for placing your tiles, your shapes don't even need to be perfectly flat to be used. Some of that "garbage" can be surprisingly pretty after the tumbling cycles. BONUS: When you're cutting stones down, you're going to have the perfect variety of hues and tones to create a very intricate dimensional piece.
  • Historical references are a perfect place to start. There's fabulous inspiration in Central American mosaics, the works of Antonio Gaudi (practice your GoogleFu here!) ... the list is a very long one. You'll get a really good idea of just what you can do with all those leftovers.
  • Lots and lots of leftovers from big slabbing projects or multiple tumbler loads are perfect for testing grout colors. Just do small 4x4 squares, applying the tiles with your favorite appropriate adhesive (Be warned: silicone for glass has a STANK to it. It doesn't bother me, smells like dyeing Easter Eggs, but my family gags on the vinegary stench.), wait till it dries, and create samples so you know you've chosen the right grout to work on the right project.
  • Get an "ugly" gemstone -- faceted or cabs -- in an order, but you don't want to bother with the cost of shipping it back to return or exchange? (Seriously, if you paid less than C on a stone that should cost Zx5, and shipping is N, then loupe it, examine it, learn from it, and find another way to use it. OH CRAP, I DIDN'T KNOW THERE'D BE MATH! I'll ramble on about the fun of included stones at a later date.) They make fantastic accents in mosaic pieces -- including mosaic jewelry. Eyes, mouths, teeth, petals, buttons, bubbles, fish scales (man, I wish I'd had some "crappy" faceted stones when I did my fish tank vase: garnets, carnelian, and citrine would have made fantastic fish scales!) -- you get the idea here. Garbage has suddenly become a nice pricey mosaic!
  • By any other name ..... Think dendritically! "Inlay," "intarsia," "mosaic," "multi-media collage," -- it doesn't matter what you call it, you're painting with stone.
Resin jewelry is a great use of leftovers. Using the resin, you can place stones into the molds to create some interesting mosaic jewelry with no grout or adhesive other than the resin that holds it all together.
  • Larger single stones make great focals in resin pieces, as well as nice tiny accents in collages.
  • Mix a small amount of resin, just enough to cover the bottle of your properly prepared mold. Follow the instructions for curing time before adding a second layer. Using tweezers (with my shaky hands, I prefer cross lock tweezers), carefully lay your stones onto the first layer of resin. Top off the mold with mixed resin, and let cure. Calibrated molds can be used with regular cabochon mountings of the appropriate size.
Think about "fairy bottles" you've probably seen. Tiny glass vials for jewelry making are available from multiple sources, and some are quite elegant. I have one with filigree work that I need to complete for Thing 1, so I'll get Thing 2 to take a photo when the piece is done. Cheap, too small, or unmatched gemstones are gorgeous in the bottles, as are the "cast-offs" -- you know, those ridiculously tiny pieces of rough that always seem to accumulate. Don't waste them! Tumble them up, the super-mini chips can be lovely.

Speaking of Tumbled Stones ....
  • Of course, not all stones can be tumbled or polished. Books and GoogleFu are your friends for learning the Mohs value of a particular rock or mineral to be tumbled. Stones of a similar hardness should be tumbled together for the best results, as harder stones can seriously abrade and wear down the softer ones.

  • Tiny chips don't need to be tossed out - toss them IN the tumbler instead. They're useful as filler, and make good filler for display in bottles, jars, and anything that will let light bounce off the polished surfaces.
  • Waste stone can be tumbled and wire wrapped, or drilled for use as beads. Thinner, translucent pieces can make gorgeous suncatchers (tutorial on request).

  • Check those tumbled stones carefully, using a mm gauge. If you don't have one, get one. They're cheap -- even the digital calipers are now quite affordable. I love mine, as I'm getting blind in my old age. You might just find that some are close enough in size and shape to being calibrated for use in standard mountings.

If you've cut cabs, slabs, or faceted stones from a piece of rough, and have some larger waste chunks, consider bookends, shaped/carved paperweights, cup holders. This is definitely more collector oriented, as there's an attraction to displaying a larger prepared specimen that your precious stone came from. Gem in the rough, anyone?

If you're in the trade and selling stones with a documented provenance, history, pieces all shaped from a single huge piece of rough, from documented closed down mines or mined out sources (Sweet Home, yes?), run a poll to see if your collector customers would be interested in pieces of rough that their gemstone came from. I guarantee you'll get takers, and thumbnails, micromounts, and handheld specimens don't have to be flawless, perfect color, or worth working to be of interest to collectors. Note: Documentation? Is a good thing. Certification can even be used as part of a display: piece of rough, piece tumbled, piece faceted, certifcate, with a nice sharp microscope photo to use as the background. EXTRA NOTE: I'd LOVE a piece of Nigerian rubellite rough, if anyone has or knows how to get their hands on a small bit.

Some of those leftovers might hold potential you haven't thought of or dared to try yet. There are several treatments for your stones that you can do at home without professional equipment or dangerous chemicals, provided you follow the instructions and all proper safety measures are taken (ie, heated stones CAN explode, or explode when cooled too fast).

You got to use the skills to pay the bills. :D

That way, you can afford to buy more toys!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Weekenders: Printing "White" Text on Your Computer

Yes, be shocked, be amazed, it's the return of Pooka's Weekenders.

Also, clearly, not dead.

Creating "White" Text on Your Printer:

Depending on how much text you want to do, there IS a way, using PSP or Photoshop, that you can KINDA do this -- you'll see what I mean.

Method One:

Set the fill color for the letter to be white. Set the outer color to be black, or another color that matches your LO -- this is going to give you a "mat" around all of your text.

Do a few test words to see how wide you need to set the outline color. You can adjust this through whatever the line width setting is for your program. What you want is for that outline to be wide enough to touch the outline of the next letter, thus basically giving you a solid line of text that you can cut out in one piece.

Now, start adding your text to your image. Remember to leave enough space between the lines to make it easy to cut each line out. Adjust to make sure that it's going to fit onto the size of the red (or whatever background color you want) as well.

Print your text. Cut along the outside of the mat color, then adhere to your background.

Not just white text, but white text with its own mat.

Method 2:

If you're having trouble finding how to set the line width, or want to try something else, there's yet another way to add the mat to make it easy to cut the journaling out.

Go ahead and create your text, making sure once again that it fits onto your CS. DO NOT deselect it, keep the text selected.

Find where your program gives the Effects option of creating a Drop Shadow.

You want to set Opacity to 100% (Option: You can play with this, and see if you like a softer look. However, this WILL give a bit of a 'halo' look that might be more difficult to cut out). Select the color you want for your mat/shadow.

Adjust the size of the shadow by increasing the number values equally until once again the letters touch each other. Accept.

Print, and cut out lines in one piece.


These techniques will also help save you ink, and thus save you money. Sure, you can do white text on a fully colored background, and the white will just remain blank, however, do you REALLY want to use up that much of your ink just to make a background, when the above method uses a LOT less ink?

Paper is cheap. Ink, and the gas to go get more, are not.

Enjoy my brain-damaged idea fountain. :D

Friday, February 29, 2008

For Sammi

Had a wonderful visit with Moonrose this week. I always miss her, darn that family and distance thing that keeps us apart for too long.

Well, she inspired me, she suggested I attempt something, since after all, ATCs didn't really have any rules other than size. Needle felt an ATC!

Well. Why not! All I can do is fail, bleeding miserably over shreds of my dignity and all over the felt ... but other than that, why not?

It isn't completely finished yet -- I've got to put the eyes on, figure out how to sign it, and maybe do a little more detailing, but I'm happy.

So Sammi ... thank you.

Weekender Preview

Since these have now reached their recipients, I figured it was time to post these here.

No, they are not ATCs. These are button boxes, which I use to hold ATCs to send to other people, sort of upping the gift by making the packaging just as pretty as what is inside.

So, for this weekend's Weekender, I'll be teaching you to make these boxes. I'll even upload a pattern you grab so you can make your own. Sure, you can buy pre-cut ones, or find a die cut machine somewhere that has the die ... but why, when you can have a template and make your own without leaving the house or spending money on someone else's work?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Weekenders -- Q&A

Question: RE: ATC book

What ARE "ATCs" anyway?


ATCs are Artist Trading Cards. The classic definition is a miniature piece of art that is 2.5" x 3.5", and is traded between artists, never sold.

Beyond that, there are really very few rules or regulations: size matters, baby! :D Anything you can do in a larger format -- paint, stamp, collage, draw, layer, scrapbook, etc, even quilting and felting! -- you can do on an ATC. Fibers, ribbon, buttons, flowers, mirror: there really are few "rules" to worry about.

As for trading them, you can find swap partners on various scrapbook and art forums, on swap sites, at conventions, and just among other artsy friends. Google can point you to all sorts of places where they can be swapped with others, and each hosted swap will have the rules they require. Some go by themes, or colors, or mediums, and the number of cards you make reflects the number of cards you'll receive back.

Give them a try! They're a lot of fun, and the tiny format can bring out creativity you didn't know you had.

Question: Re: ATC Book

If I have them, can't I just use a large single sheet, instead of gluing shorter pieces together?


Good question! You -can-, but I don't recommend it. For a different project, larger sheets would be fine, but for this one, the multiple sheets is your best bet.

The problem with a single sheet is weight, plain and simple. The plastic card sleeves are on the heavy side, and the weight of ATCs can add up fast. By adhering shorter sections of paper together, you provide extra stability and strength to support the weight that will be attached to the pages.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Weekender -- ATC Book

There are numerous methods for storing and displaying all of the ATCs (artist trading cards, for those not in the know) that you collect. I wasn't particularly fond of the idea of just putting them into the big binders with the trading card sheets: first off, that's how I store my Sizzix dies, so it might confuse me because I'm a dork, and second, because it puts multiple cards on a page, so that your eyes get distracted trying to figure out which one to look at. Also, it's just not as much FUN to look through them that way.

So, I went and did a bit of shopping, and figured out how to make a book to display ATCs so each gets its own page, and gives me a nice, small, portable album. What you end up with is a good-sized accordion-fold book.


--Mat board (my prefered -- you can get cheap sections in wonderful colors and textures at Joann's in the framing department, left over from them cutting custom mats, and they aren't that expensive: one $1 8x10 gives you a front and back cover with room to spare), chipboard, or some other sturdy material for the front and back covers.
-- Cardstock and patterned paper of choice
-- Adhesive (you'll want a particularly strong one to attach the pages to the covers)
-- Ruler
-- Paper trimmer
-- Scoring tool
-- SINGLE card plastic trading card sleeves (Walmart has a large pack in the front where the trading cards are)
-- 1/2" to 1" wide ribbon for closure
-- Xyron 500 or larger (optional, but perfect for adhering the sleeves)

Other embellishments of choice


1. Check the package of sleeves for size. Most are 3x4. You'll want to add at least 1/2" to it (3.5 x 4.5) for the pages so they're big enough for the sleeves. Add another 1/2" (4x5) for the cover measurements.

2. Cut your cover boards. If using mat board, a heavy duty craft knife works best: don't try to force it through all at once, you may need to make two attempts to get through it if you don't have a heavy duty blade.

3. Next, cut the paper to make the accordion folds for the inside pages to a height of 4.5". NOTE: 12x12 cardstock gives you 2 page sections, while you can only get one from 8.5x11. How many pages you cut depends on how thick you want your book to be. I kept mine to three sections, since most ATCs have some dimension, and the thickness can add up fast, especially with the sleeves. But these books come together so fast, it's easy to make multiples in a short amount of time. NOTE: Do not use light weight cardstock for the pages. The sleeves and cards will be a bit too heavy for flimsy paper -- you want the book to have some substance.

4. Measure out increments of 3.5" across the cut page sections. Score along those lines, removing any excess paper at the end. If you don't score and overlap the excess, you'll get a much neater two-sided book.

5. If you want, ink and stamp the pages now, before putting them together. It's much easier this way. Allow the ink to dry before moving on to the next step.

6. Fold at the score lines (if you've ever made a paper fan as a child, you know the basic accordion fold. If not, it's forward, backwards, forward, etc.).

7. At the last folded section, generously apply adhesive to the front of the fold. Attach to the back of the next page section. Repeat for however many page sections you've chosen.

8. Set pages aside. You won't attach the sleeves until the book is assembled.

9. Decorate the covers. Make sure that if you have any rough edges, they're smoothed out, or covered over with paper -- you can even use single-fold bias tape if you so desire. NOTE: The easiest way to do this with paper is to cut a long strip about 1 1/2" wide, put adhesive on either side of the long edge, wrap around the book, pressing the sides down first. Then work the folds into the corners. You aren't going to need to cut pages to cover the inside of the covers, because the folded pages will attach directly to it.

Alternate: Using either a paint pen, or paints (if you have a steady hand), color all the edges of the mat board so that raw material isn't showing.

You can stamp, layer paper, and add any embellishments you choose, and make a title to go on it as well if you like. If you're careful with how you decorate, you can easily make this album to where either side can work as the front.

10. On the inside of the back cover, attach two strips of ribbon, one on either side. This will allow you to wrap the ribbon around the book to keep it closed. Length is up to you, and whether or not you'll want to tie a bow with it, or use some other method of closing the ribbon (you can also use leather straps, and a buckle, just like a belt).

11. Using a sturdy adhesive (-not- a wet glue, Tacky Tape works great for this), adhere the very first fold to the inside of the front cover, and the very last fold to the inside of the back cover, making sure to cover the ends of the ribbon.

12. Time to add the sleeves. I recommend using a Xyron for attaching them, since like vellum, the sleeves are see-through, and in any areas the ATCs don't cover, strips of adhesive will be visible. If you do not have a Xyron, make sure you cover the back of the plastic sleeve entirely with adhesive, or use an adhesive recommended for vellum.

NOTE: Most plastic sleeves are equal height on both sides. If you want, to make it easier to remove and insert cards, you can -carefully- cut down the front, or use a circle punch and punch a half-circle into the front.

13. Skip the front fold that is attached to the front cover, and attach a plastic sleeve to the next fold, centering it on the page section. Skip the next fold, and on the next, attach another sleeve. (All even numbered pages) Continue until this side is completed.

14. Turn the book around, and work from the back side now.

15. When adding sleeves to this side, do not add them to the same fold where a sleeve is on the front. Alternate on the back as well. This will keep the book from becoming too thick and unwieldy.

16. Almost done! By skipping the inside front cover, this gives you a perfect place for journaling. You can put the date you made the book, if you made the book for a specific ATC swap, you can put that information as well, along with your name (or the name of the recipient if making it as a gift).

Now all that's left is to add your ATC collection, and close it up!

Here is the cover of my first one:

The flower stamp is from Queen Kat Designs March GET INKED kit. There are multiple flowers, plus leaves and the stem so you can build your own blossoms.

I used chipboard for this one, with mulberry paper around the edges. Both the front and back cover got a half-sheet of plain Grungeboard by Tim Holtz that I inked and distressed.

The closure ribbon, not visible in this picture, is a pale yellow grosgrain that matches the yellow in the daisy (which I made a Black-Eyed Susan, because of the obvious!).

This one is already full, so I'll be making another one this weekend!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Weekender -- Getting More Out of Your Stamps

If you're anything like me, or have been playing around with crafting for a while, you've probably amassed a collection of stamps, whether they're wood mounted, unmounted, or acrylic.
We've all done the basic stamping: ink stamp from pad, stamp on paper. And we've done the embossing powder routines. And we've all pretty much played around with using markers to color individual portions of our stamps for greater variety.

But did you know that you can make your stamping look like you spent a few hours with watercolors and a paintbrush?

Me, I blame Tim Holtz for this particular Weekender. I saw him do this on the Carol Duvall show, and was immediately hooked. In fact, once the show was over (I DVR everything), I got up out of bed and marched to my crafting space to try it. And try it. And try it. I must have gone through at least three sheets of watercolor paper, stamping and playing with this technique.

I learned a few things through this process, so I figure I'll share them with you guys.


Watercolor paper, or heavy cardstock (textured is best, to really do up the watercolor look)
Stamps (bold designs, detailed stamps don't work well)
Dye, waterbased inks (dye markers work as well)
spray bottle (preferably a mist sprayer)
heat gun


-- You definitely want a bolder stamp design. Anything with a lot of detail will turn to a muddy blur. And choose thicker lines over thinner ones.
-- Wood mounts or acrylic stamps work equally well.
-- Some pigment inks DO actually work with this, but they must be very juicy, and you must spray and print -immediately-.
-- You can get several prints out of one inking -- just spray more water. Each subsequent stamping will be fainter, of course, allowing a nice fade effect.
-- Neatness does NOT count with this technique. The water spray will allow the ink to bleed to fill in any spaces you may miss on the stamp.
-- Color color color! Shading really helps the watercolor look.
-- Make sure when you spray the stamp that you hold it flat: tilting it will cause the ink to really run (though this look can work, too!).
-- You can actually use your watercolor paints on this as well. The pencils don't really work, but watercolors from a tube, or a reconstituted dry cake are perfect: just apply to the stamp with a brush.
-- For a really dramatic look, do your watercolor stamping, then stamp over it, same image, with a permanent ink.


1. You can either work on pre-cut sections of paper, or work on a big sheet and then cut/tear the images after stamping.

2. Ink up your stamp. While neatness doesn't count, this look works best if you avoid single, solid colors. After all, you're trying to approximate the look of watercolors. Shade to your heart's content -- but then, don't be afraid of trying a few bold solids. This technique is FUN, so play with it!

3. Holding your stamp flat and level, mist with your sprayer of water two to three times. Test your sprayer first to see how much water it puts out. You might only need two sprays, or even just one.

4. Carefully flip your stamp, and press it to your paper. Lift off carefully to avoid drips.

5. Immediately use your heat gun to dry it. You don't -have- to use a heat gun, but a fast dry keeps the colors stronger and on the surface, instead of them soaking into the paper. However, it MUST be dry before you stamp again, or you'll get running of the image that you don't want.

6. If desired, spray the stamp again, and restamp, changing position of the stamping. You should be able to get two to four stampings out of a single inking, each lighter than the last.

Make sure each stamping is dry before stamping again.

This technique creates images with a wonderful watercolor look, without all the time and effort. And for those like me with precious little drawing talent, makes it easy to get an image that actually looks like something!

Try tearing the edges of the stamped image to further soften the look.

A random field of small or large images makes nice background paper.

Watercolor stampings can be die cut to create great matching embellishments to coordinate with a larger stamping on a project.

Large images, when matted, are even worthy of framing. You don't have to tell anyone you didn't spend hours painting it!