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.

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!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Queen Kat Designs CHA releases!

Okay, I am TOTALLY in love with this wing stamp!

Sure, it's not the first we've released at Queen Kat Designs, considering that I designed two of them, but this one ... YEAH! This is one of the Queen Herself's first hand-drawn sketch stamps, and it turned out utterly awesome. It's got some great flow to it, and is wonderfully inspiring.

Don't ask me where the winged frog came from. I picked up a set of the dies on sale from Sizzix, and when I got the heart ... well, it had to be done. I could blame the fever, but frankly, this is just too much fun. Now I have to figure out how to take some good indoor pictures without the freakin yellow cast to them. GRRR.

See? See? I can do SOMETHING normal, even when sick.

If you adore wings, and can't get enough of wing stamps, check out Queen Kat Designs for all of our fabulously fun sets of wings to complete your collections!

Double Tagged! Dogpile on the Pooka!

Yikes, girlies! Juliet and Suzann both pounced me!

Be warned -- influenza is still giving me the rampant giggly Stoooooooopids, so this could be quite a ride.

Suzann's Tag:

The Middle Name Game!

These are the rules:-You must post the rules before you give your answers. You must list one fact about yourself for each letter of your middle name. Each fact must begin with that letter. If you don't have a middle name, just use your maiden name. After you've been tagged, you need to up-date your blog with your middle name and answers. At the end of your post, you need to tag one person for each letter of your middle name. (Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they've been tagged and need to read your blog for details.)

Melissa ... yeah. Could I steal my daughter's and use Siobhan instead?

M - Mother. I'm Mom to two daughters, five cats, one dog, and all of my children's friends. I get as many phone calls from the eldest's friends as she does.

E - Eccentric. Oh yeah, that's me all right.

L - Lazy, Listless, Loopy, Lethargic ... can you tell I'm sick?

I - cuz it's INFLUENZA bringing me down, oh yeah, oh yeah, bayyyyybeee....

S - Sick, STOOOPID, Silly ... right, this is getting too silly. Stop it!

S - Strength. Survival. Whatever it is, I've been told I have it in abundance to continue to cope with my poor health. Me, I call it Stubborn.

A - I love my Animals. There's something wonderfully unconditional about their affection, even from the cats.

Jules' Tag:

The rules for this meme are:
(1) Link to the person that tagged you.
(2) List the rules on your blog.
(3) Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
(4) Tag 5 random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
(5) Let each random person know they have been tagged.

Actually, this one is perfect right now, since fever makes me about as random as I can possibly get. You've been warned.

1 -- I have a habit of drumming my fingernails on any book I'm reading, driving my husband up the walls. I don't even notice I'm doing it.

2 -- My body may be a temple, but even goddesses feel the need to redecorate. I have no problems with body modification -- I've lost count of the number of tattoos that I have, I have 7 holes in my right ear, 2 in my left, and one in my nose.

3 -- I collect Techniques. I want to know HOW to do things. New techniques and skills thrill me, but then I have a habit of getting bored after I learn them and wander on to the next new thing. Thus, you'll often see spurts of one thing, then nothing on it for a while.

4 -- This is why I have a huge selection of Tools. I own 2 enkle looms, one of which I turned into a small tapestry loom, quilling tools, soldering iron, butane torches, propane torches, die cut machines, tatting tools, two sewing machines, knitting needles, drop spindles, felting needles, crochet hooks ... etc. I have tools in abundance, so many that I need a separate room JUST for my tools.

5 -- I can sleep when I'm dead. I've had chronic insomnia since I was 12. I turn 40 this year. That's a LONG time to not sleep properly.

6 -- My hair is currently Fire Engine red. Because.

NOW .... those who are to be tagged, I salute you!

Amyrantha, my Moonrose!
Cindy -- the Moonie One's partner in crime
Bev -- the Grannie with the mostest, who never posts enough anyway
Tanis -- twisted minds must stick together, bayyyybe -- for the monsters! Think of the monsters!
La Stephanie! I'm glad I found ya, lady. You're neat!

And I am SO not tagging one for Every Single Letter of my middle name -- that's my parent's fault, no one else should take the heat for that! :D

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Weekender -- Sick leave

Ain't happening this weekend.

I spent yesterday unconscious and incoherent, running between a 102 and a 104* temperature. It's already 101* today at 10 am. I can barely remember my own name or how to type, much less try to figure out a project for this weekend.

So the Weekenders will return next weekend, and cross your fingers that I don't end up in hospital with pneumonia.

This is Pooka, last survivor of the Nostromo ... signing off.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Random Babble-0-tron

So, for those of you that have spouses on the road, be warned. My husband works out on oil rigs, and apparently he's exposed to influenza strains that are not Strain of the Year in the flu shots. Cough. Hack. Wheeze. Whimper.

Despite the cold, my dog is out in the backyard trying to herd squirrels. You can't tell a Corgi that squirrels aren't herdable. She just won't listen.

First thunderstorm of the year last night, so spring in Tornado Alley looks to be a real doozy. Felimid is usually oblivious to thunder, but last night, he crawled up into my arms and whimpered. It was LOUD.

The new kitten is fitting in well -- perhaps too well. Last night, he even had my anti-social Siamese playing tag with him around the house. When all four of the boys got going, I considered locking myself in the bathroom. That's a LOT of feline weight for them to throw around, since Oz is a huge huge cat, and Felimid is Jabba the Butt. Everyone but the crotchety "Scrappy Squirrel" Manx plays with him -- and she hates everybody. Cranky old girl.

I know, I know, another post from me without pictures? I'll fix that.

Tag swap at The collar tags on the central cats are done in shrink plastic (and have a cat face on them, natch). The additional faces added are cut from a large cat collage stamp, and attached with foam strips.

More tag swap stuff. I need to get pictures of the last two sets.

Any "No Reservations" fans out there? I adore Anthony Bourdain (perhaps it could be called an obsession, after all, I own all his books, including the Mafia fiction), and he's way too entertaining on TV.

Last night, however, the show was rather emotional. Tony visited New Orleans, discussing the aftermath of Katrina. The only other show that had been this tense before was the Beirut episode. Even seeing Tony finally sit down to talk to Emeril, who has been the butt of SO many of Tony's jokes, wasn't as entertainingly fun as expected. Very serious show, but worth a watch.

Monday, February 04, 2008

QKD Round Robin Blog Party .... Prize!

We have a winner for my stop on the QKD Blog Party Tour!

ScrapAloha is the overall winner for my three days of the party. I will need to get all your contact information so that we can get your prize to you, and nice job, lady!

I have a condolence prize as well, for Effort Above And Beyond ...

Stephanie Earls, who, despite being on a trip, went out and bought shrink plastic for the last challenge, and tried everything short of the waffle iron at her hotel to try to make the stuff work. That's some crazy crafting there, that's for sure! I'll be sending you a little something special, since anyone who goes through that much effort deserves a warm fuzzy!

Congratulations to our winner, and thank you for playing along. I really enjoyed seeing what everyone came up with.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Weekender -- The Great Shink!

Shrink plastic -- it's not just for kids!

For those of you that haven't played with the stuff since you were a child, you'd be amazed at what all is out now. Shrinky Dinks is no longer the only company producing it, and frosted white is no longer the only colour you can get, oh no.

There's now black, completely clear, a very white white, and even some earth toned shrink plastic.

And you don't have to use an oven anymore, not with heat guns being sold everywhere. They're faster, more efficient, and make it easier for the plastic to still be warm enough to shape and mold as you like.

You can use your laser or ink-jet printers on shrink plastic! There are, however, a few tricks to doing it (unless you spend more money on printer-friendly plastic):

-- Use a very fine sandpaper, and working in only one direction, sand the slick back of the plastic, otherwise, it won't feed into your printer.
-- Make SURE you put it in the right direction -- if it prints on that slick back, it will never dry and will rub right off, making cutting it out impossible.
-- All colours intensify when the plastic shrinks, so you need to alter chosen images in a program like Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop. Increase the brightness of the image and lighten it, or the end result after shrinking is mud. Try to avoid overly complicated images for the same reason.
-- Make sure you let it dry after coming out of the printer, and do not touch it for a while, or it will smear.

One thing to remember when working with shrink plastic is to always read the instructions. Each brand shrinks a bit differently, so for some, you may have up to 75% shrinkage, others only 50%. This can affect your final piece. If you aren't sure, you can make your own scale to determine the final size. Take a ruler, and copy the marks out onto a strip of shrink plastic -- make sure you get inches and half-inches. Then shrink the strip, and use that against the original ruler to figure out your size.

Another important detail is corners. Sharp corners get even sharper once it has shrunk, which can make for uncomfortable jewelry. Try to round all corners, even slightly, to prevent this. When cutting your piece, make sure that you cut evenly and smoothly -- any tears or angled cuts will be overly obvious after shrinkage, and some will even become dangerous if you aren't careful.

And if you plan to string it in any way, PUNCH YOUR STRINGING HOLES BEFORE YOU SHRINK IT! Yes, you can TRY to drill holes afterwards, but chances are the piece will just shatter or crack. The hole will shrink as well, so use a larger punch to make the hole.

Cutting can be done with scissors, or you can use large punches (remember, they shrink), and even some die-cut machines to cut your shapes. I don't recommend a craft knife, because of the potential for tearing and slippage. Shrink plastic definitely cuts differently than paper.

Can't find shrink plastic locally? You can actually make your own. Many clear plastic take-out containers (especially from salad bars) that have a 2 code on the bottom can be used to create shrink plastic shapes. However, because of the plastic fumes, I do NOT recommend doing this in any oven not dedicated to crafting, and you have to work in a very well ventilated area. A heat gun used outside is far safer.

More Tips for using shrink plastic:

-- Always work on a heat-proof surface (I have a huge marble tile I picked up cheap at a home improvement store that I use for my heat gun, soldering, and even torch work on PMC), because these things get HOT.
-- If you sand the slick side, it will help prevent sticking. You can also use cornstarch or baby powder. Big pieces do have a tendency to stick, but most of the time, if you just keep heating it down, it will even out.
--You can get creative and make a frame that will stop any of the flipping around by taking some metal screen mesh, attaching it to a frame of cardboard, and cover the cardboard edges with aluminum foil. Make sure you have a thick layer of cardboard around the frame, two pieces thick is perfect, and just place that over your piece and heat it through the mesh. There won't be any flipping around. Me, I just make a small aluminum foil "box" and heat it in there -- the foil makes it shrink faster, and the sides of the box keeps the piece from flipping around all over the work surface.
-- Do not use a metal tool, like an embossing stylus, to hold the piece still through the hole. The metal will get hot, distort the hole, and the plastic will stick to it. Also, do not use a large tool, like a thick paintbrush, because the hole will shrink around it and be impossible to remove without distortion.
-- If you heavily sand the slick side, you can easily colour both sides to match, creating a more even look in the final piece.

I've tried just about every method possible to colour shrink plastic. Some work better than others.

-- Permanent inks will dry, making it easier to cut the piece out without smearing.
-- Pigment and dye inks don't like to dry, but if you give them a VERY quick and gentle heating, from a distance, it should dry it enough for you to cut them out without a problem.
-- Alcohol inks work great on shrink plastic! This looks particularly nice with pieces that have been die-cut.
-- Markers work, but again, permanent markers are best for a speedy dry that won't smear.
-- Coloured pencils are always your friend. Even watercolour pencils will work. However, metallic pencils can end up with a muddy look, so use sparingly.
-- Paint pens generally work well, and a white fine-tip pen is great for adding detail over coloured areas, but paints that will bubble with heat can cause a nasty look on the final piece -- test first.
-- I have some permanent pearlescent liquid acrylic calligraphy inks that work nicely on shrink plastic.
-- You can even use mica powders/pigments like Pearl-Ex or Perfect Pearls dusted over the plastic. Colours do intensify, so you don't have to really slather the stuff on heavily.

Now, while you can rubber stamp onto the surface BEFORE shrinking, did you know you can do it afterwards while the plastic is still very hot, and get a look similar to stamping into embossing powder? Yep! The look is more subtle on shrink plastic (and looks fabulous on black), but you can rub metallic rubons over the raised areas to bring the image out further.

Colouring books and clip art books make great sources for images to trace onto the plastic. Embroidery pattern books work well. If you are feeling really brave, or have the patience, some clip art books of large, intricate ornaments can be absolutely stunning.

Shrink plastic images make great custom dimensional charms for scrapbook pages, cards, and ATCs. They make fantastic custom buttons, not only for paper projects, but for use on purses, bags, and clothing. Once shrunk, they are really quite sturdy, and even work as pet tags on collars -- and then you can make another for the pet's pages!

You can also make some creative, custom jewelry using shrink plastic and some imagination -- and planning. Charm bracelets, earrings, pendants -- there's no limit, and multiple pieces can be glued together (I use E6000 or two-part epoxy) for layered effects that make gorgeous pendants.

The Project -- Spiral Earrings


Shrink plastic
Heat gun
Rubber stamps, or images of choice (optional for this project)
Coloured pencils, markers, mica pigments
2 jump rings
2 earring hooks or posts with loops
A thick-handled paintbrush, or mandrel


1. Cut two long strips of shrink plastic, approximately 1 1/2" wide, and 6-8" long.

2. Colour as desired -- keep in mind that the final piece will be a spiral.

3. Punch a hole in the top of each strip.

4. Work with only one strip at a time -- you can't do this well in an oven, I recommend a heat gun, because once the piece has shrunk, you have to work fast.

5. Unless you have asbestos fingertips like I do (from years of wire-work and working with hot glue guns, PMC, polymer clay, and soldering), some sort of heat-resistant glove will be helpful. Keep the heat gun on the piece (you can't over-shrink it) until you are ready to wrap.

6. Leaving the very top with the hole slightly above the end of your chosen mandrel, QUICKLY wrap the rest of the strip around the mandrel. It must be still hot to do this -- but you can always use the heat gun to soften it again if it cools too much while you're wrapping.

7. Repeat with the other strip.

8. If desired, use a metal leafing pen to gild the edges of the spiral (try to match the metal of the earring findings, or get creative and do gradations of metal colour down the edges).

9. Attach a jump ring through the hole on each piece, and attach to the earring finding.

This same project can be done with strips of metal (copper is nice, especially if you suspend it over ammonia for a while to change the colour, or use heat to alter the copper's surface), or even polymer clay, but shrink plastic makes a very fun custom spiral.

You can do this project with your kids -- have them do the colouring, you handle the shrinking and wrapping -- and let them have a great handmade pair of earrings. This is a lot of fun at girls birthday parties, and gives them something they made to take home.

If you haven't played with shrink plastic in years, I hope this inspires you to give it a try again!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Weekender -- pause for Station ID

Since the Queen Kat Designs blog party is in its last days here on my blog, I'm postponing the currently scheduled Weekender project.

I will announce winners of this stop on the blog tour Monday, after all of the last entries come in tomorrow, so be sure to check back to see who won the stamp set (and possibly other goodies!).

With any luck, I'll get the Weekender project up tomorrow. The supply list that you may need to get ahead of time is simple:

Shrink plastic.

How's that for a preview hint? :D

Challenge Three: Shrink it!

Since I am a little late getting this last challenge posted, I'm giving you till Midnight on February 3rd for entries for this one.

I love shrink plastic. Adore it. Have probably more of it than any one person should. But that's not the point.

Your challenge here is simple:

1. Use shrink plastic in a project. At least one piece of shrink plastic must be stamped before shrinking and attaching it to your piece. (extra point for QKD stamps).

2. Finished entries must be linked here by midnight, February 3rd.

Simple, huh?

It could be a mini-diorama, a card, an ATC, a scrapbook page, even jewelry! The point is to play and have fun with this.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Challenge Two: Your Day in History

All right, I'm getting this up early, but since SOMEONE thinks that if I sleep late, I fell off the planet ( :P), I figure I might as well get on with the party while I'm here!

Your Challenge for Day Two ....

Your Day in History. This can be for you, a child, your spouse -- feel free to choose anyone close to you. From there, look up the date they were born for a historical happening. This will be your subject matter for the project. The goal is to create a scrapbook page or birthday card in any size, showcasing news items from that date of birth for the person you chose.

Good sites are:

Today in History

Today in History --

For example, my baby sister was born on August 27. Krakatoa's violent eruption that tore the volcano apart was on August 27, though 80+ years before her birth.


1. The birth date must be on your project, as well as the year/years for the historical happenings.

2. At least one stamp must be used (even if it's alphabet, or month stamps, etc). Bonus points for QKD stamps (we have a lot of great month stamps in the store!)

3. Links to your projects must be posted in this thread by Midnight on February 2nd.

Have fun, and I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Challenge One: Update the Valentine

Remember back in grade school, when everyone passed out those awful generic cards with the trendy characters of the day on them? Sure, Mom bought them for us to use because they were plentiful, and cheap, and most of all, no effort was required to take care of an entire classroom of kids.

But darn, they were boring!

So here's your Challenge of the Day.

1. Using the same single page format (card can be no larger than a standard 3x5 index card), create up to three New And Improved Valentine Cards.

2. You must use at least one stamp on the front (extra points for QKD stamps), and at least two embellishments (ribbon, stickers, buttons, brads, etc).

3. The back is included in designing these cards, and must have the traditional "To" and "From" spaces.

4. Upload the images, and post the link to them in this thread.

If anyone has made it here, I can't wait to see what you come up with.

Round Robin Blog Party Rules

Well, because I overslept today and finally caught up on sick sleep, I seem to have been nudged out of the final spot on this tour.

However, that doesn't mean I'm dropping the ball on my end. So, for those of you that have made your way here anyway, I'm posting some challenges for you.

The basic rules are pretty simple:

1. A maximum of three entries per person, per challenge. Each entry is worth a point towards the final drawing for the free stamps. If I am cut out of this, I will pay for your stamps myself. :D

2. Use of QKD stamps gets extra points towards the drawing.

3. Entries must be posted in each challenge thread by Midnight on February 2, the last day of the challenge.

Simple, huh? Each challenge will have its own additional rules to follow, so sit back, get your paper and adhesive ready, and let's go!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Weekender -- The wire wrap

I am SO hoping this will turn out coherent. This one will be minus pictures unfortunately, because my brain is barely functional enough to do instructions, much less make my hands stop and do another piece right now to demonstrate.


Focal piece (this can be a stone of any shape and size, with or without a hole)
18 gauge wire of choice
20-22 gauge wire of choice (contrasting or matching)
Flush cutters
Chain-nose pliers
Round-nose pliers
Optional: nylon-jaw pliers


-- This works best with a slightly oblong shape, although any shape will work.
-- Try this with all sorts of items - shark's teeth, for example.
-- Copper wire is softer and cheaper for those just starting out, and coated wire is available in a wide range of colours. Don't make sterling wire your first choice unless you've got a lot of practice: the stuff is expensive.
-- Before choosing your wire, test the colours against your focal point to find the best combination.
-- Be -careful- with your pliers. They can mar the metal and leave marks. Tool Magic on the ends rubber-coats to protect wire, or you can wrap them with tape.
-- If your focal piece is small, adjust wire gauges accordingly: the gauges listed are for a relatively large piece. Tiny objects, like a small shark's tooth, require smaller gauge wire so as not to overwhelm and cover the focal piece.


1. To determine the amount of wire needed, work from the coil and GENTLY wrap one strand of wire around the shape, starting with about 3" extra at the top, and matching that on the other side. Cut two pieces of wire to that size. Make sure when you cut, that you leave only flush ends with no sharp points. (the inside of flush cutters is flush, the outside is beveled)

2. Holding the two wires together, determine how much space is needed at the bottom for the "cage" that will hold the focal piece by gently pushing the piece between the wires. You can adjust this later when the twisting starts.

3. There are two options for the sides: you can twist just those two wires together to create the side supports for the cage, or you can wrap another smaller wire around the sides.

Option A: Work on one side at a time.
-- Hold the wire tightly between your fingers at the top of where the cage begins on that side, and separate the wires above that point, twisting them together tightly for 1/2" to 1", depending on the size of your focal piece.
-- Set your focal piece into the bottom of the "cage" to determine placement for the other side; remove, and repeat the twist, being sure to match them up.
-- Return the focal piece to the bottom, and tighten the twists until you know the piece will be secure.

Option B: Again, one side at a time.
-- Take a 4-8" length of your finer gauge wire (dependent on size of focal piece), and tightly wrap it around the two wires above where the top of the cage will begin. Be sure to tuck the loose ends into the wrap so no pointy wires are sticking out. The amount of space you wrap will depend on the size of the focal piece.
-- Set your focal piece into the bottom of the "cage" to determine placement for the other side; remove, and twist the second piece of smaller gauge wire around the two base wires.
-- Odds are, both will be a little loose right now. This is good, as it allows you room for adjustment when placing the focal piece into the cage. When you have placement correct to keep it secure, tighten the coils up by squeezing them against the two wires with your pliers.

4. The focal piece remains in the cage from here out.

5. Tightly work the wires around the focal piece till they meet at the top. You'll have some adjusting and playing with it to make sure it remains secure. The final steps will help you tighten it up.

6. Bend all four wires across the top to make a double X shape.

7. Bring the two back wires to the front, and the two front wires to the back. The two wires now in back will become your bail: the wires in front, decoration.

8. Give each set of wires one good twist at the top of the focal piece to finish tightening it up.

9. It helps to work on the front first, to get the wires out of the way. Starting at the very end of one wire, take your round-nose pliers, and start to coil. You can make the coil as tight or as loose as you want. Once you get it started, you can generally finish it up with your fingers. If you need to use the pliers, be careful not to mar the wire: Hold the wire perpendicular in the pliers, and only use the pliers to hold the wire. Push the wire around the coil with your fingers.

10. Repeat with the other front wire. When the coils are done, press them flat against the front of the piece and arrange them to your liking.

11. Now for the bail. Take one of the back wires, wrap it tightly twice around the other, snip it off with your flush cutters and tuck the loose end between the coil and the focal piece.

12. At the top of the focal piece, use your chain-nose pliers to create a 90* bend in the remaining wire.

13. Switch to your round-nose pliers, and make a loop, folding the bent wire up and over the pliers.

This is a closed bail, so make sure that the loop is large enough to fit over the findings of your chosen necklace. If you want to make interchangeable pendants, it needs to be a large loop. If it will go to a permanent spot, the loop only needs to be as large as the chosen chain/ribbon/leather without findings on the end.

14. Hold the loop closed with your pliers, and wrap the excess wire around the base. Cut off any remaining wire, and tuck the end in tightly.

15. You can take up any slack remaining by twisting the entire bail tightly against the focal piece.

The rose quartz focal piece here actually did have a hole drilled in it, but it was too small for two passes of the 18 gauge wire. I used copper, and gold wire for the accents. My bail was a little sloppy, because my fingers got shaky near the end.

I hope this all makes sense. Feel free to ask any questions for clarification.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Speaking of jewelry ...

Yes, the first Weekender post will be this weekend, but I've been totally forgetting to post a few other pieces.

Apparently I have a little thing for copper. The small swirl links with the crystals above the dragonfly are the chain. The dragonfly is two pieces -- the wings, and the body -- both hammered to give it some texture and dimension. I get compliments every time I wear this piece.

Polymer clay is fun, too! I used a face mold to shape her, with scraps from a butterfly wing cane I made (eyes and forehead), some mica-shift, a bit of translucent, and the blues. Heavy duty glue put her on the backing piece, then I started the rings around it in TINY seed beads. The tiny silver ones are faceted Charlottes.

The face cab is completed here, with several more rings of seed beads, then the daggers over the top. It has great movement with the daggers. This will eventually go on a bracelet.

Sometimes I love chain mail, sometimes I hate it. This is a Hate project. It's a knot-pattern chain, and getting all those rings into the knots made me insane. My daughters want one. They aren't getting one.

Weekender -- Sneak Peek!

Here's a sneak peek at the first Weekender project -- coming this weekend, of course!

It's not a stamping or scrap or cardmaking project this time. Instead, I go back to one of the obsessions that really helped get me into the disaster that my work spaces are today. (And I'll be able to type this without sticky hands if my half-frozen Diet Pepsi will stop trying to explode on my desk)

This is not a complicated project. It just takes a little time, and a few tools, and the results are gorgeous and well worth the effort.

Check back this weekend for a materials list and project instructions!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blog Party Madness!

Are you enjoying the Queen Kat Designs Round Robin Blog Party?

This particular challenge was hosted by the fabulous and wonderful Sierra Grannie. It's snowing on her, and she wanted COLOR COLOR COLOR to banish the wintertime blues.

... I think this is more colour than I have EVER used on a single card.

I honestly lost track around 35-40 colours. I was too busy building this fluffy bright monster to keep counting. Stamps used are all from Queen Kat Designs.

Get Inked! -- February

The following cards were created using the stamp set and some of the techniques from Queen Kat Designs Get Inked! kit for February.

These may be St Patrick's Day stamps, but traditional I am not. Not a whole lot of glaring green here -- gimme my subtle earthtones! All right, I know, I know -- I'll do something "traditional" eventually.

This is Versamark, and mica powders (Perfect Pearls), with foam tape to raise Greetings off the second layer of green paper. The scanner clearly does not like Perfect Pearls, and this looks muddy. Hey, that's why we make cards -- so we can SEND them to someone and they can see them in person!

Versamark watermarking around the outside bottom layer. The ring of shamrocks was done with two colours of chalk ink, as was Greetings. (No surprise, this completely subtle, non-traditional one is my favourite of the batch.)

Watermarks, anyone? I love how Versamark makes wonderful tone-on-tone background papers. The Luck shamrock is done with Versamark and Perfect Pearls again, then applied using foam tape.

If you haven't signed up to get the kits yet, you need to be ready when the March kits are ready for release. These kits go FAST!

Questioning ...

I know I don't have a lot of readers -- okay, I have maybe one or two reading this blog, but hey, it's really for myself anyway (that's my excuse, and I'm sticking with it).

However, I was thinking about doing a Weekender thing: every weekend, post a technique/project, complete with materials needed, and pictures.

Are the one or two people that actually read this thing interested at all in this?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Get Inked! -- January Technique Peek

This is a sample of what you are missing out on if you haven't signed up yet for the Queen Kat Designs GET INKED! kits.

3-D Embellishments
Suzeanne Peak


Chipboard shapes
Pigment ink
Clear UTEE
Embossing powders
Heat gun

{Handy Hints}
-- The surface you emboss on must be thick, or the process will warp it. This does not work on regular cardstock.
-- Try it on other objects (inside bottle caps, on bits of tile, CDs, buttons, stamped and baked polymer clay, slide mounts) for an "acrylic" or "resin" look -- without the smell and mess!
-- Use this technique on a chipboard frame, add a photo, and put a magnetic backing on it for a fabulous refrigerator magnet.
-- Try different colours of ink for your background, and different colours of powder. A metallic ink and a majority of clear powder, multiple colours of ink on the background, or several colours of powder swirled in will create all different effects.
-- This is great with alphabet shapes to make page titles, or even a sign for a child's room.
-- Layer the inks -- allow embossing powder to cool, re-ink the surface with a new colour, and add more powder.
-- Do this technique on multiple squares and create a mosaic.
-- With enough layers of embossing powder, you are able to embed items into the surface (see this post for examples).


-Note- Work quickly, but carefully. You may find you have to reheat the surface often for the next layer of powder to adhere without the heat gun blowing it away.

1. Apply chosen pigment ink to your chipboard shape. Ink the edges as well, if you want a more rounded look to the final piece.

2. Add your first layer of UTEE, remembering to get the edges if you inked them, and emboss with your heat gun.

3. While the powder is still hot, add another layer of UTEE, and repeat.

4. With this base created, sprinkle in another colour (or more) of embossing powder while the last layer is still hot and mostly liquid.

5. Swirl colours with a toothpick if desired, to create patterns in the powder.

6. Reheat till molten (be careful, it gets HOT, and any contact with another surface will leave an impression) to smooth out toothpick marks, and add another layer of UTEE.

7. Continue to add layers, heating in between, until you have a look you're pleased with. In general, a minimum of five layers will create a well-rounded and shiny surface with a look similar to acrylic or resin.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chalk Resist

I'm a junkie for neat resist techniques. At the Heirloom show, (and going with strep was NOT fun, I came home and passed out, and yes, I wore a mask to protect others), a woman at the Judi-Kins booth was demoing a resist technique I'd never seen before. Since I have a fascination and adoration for resists, I paid close attention, and just goggled.

It is ridiculously simple, and doesn't require a lot of "extras" like most resist techniques: no embossing powder and thus no heat tool, no masking fluid, no resist ink.

Here's the Materials list:

Rubber stamps
Fluid chalk inks
Matte Kote paper
Paper towels

And that is IT.

To do this resist, ink up your stamp (or stamps) with a VERY light colour of chalk ink. Stamp on the matte kote paper. Give it a bit to let dry, till all the "shiny" of the ink is gone.

Now, take your chalk ink pads (and darker is better for this resist, light ones don't work as well), and smear -- DO NOT PAT -- across the previously stamped image. Work in blocks, or swirls, and just go to town inking the paper.

Wipe off immediately with paper towel. Rub the colours into themselves and off the paper, do not rub darker inks into lighter ones, or you'll get some smearing of the colour.

The stamped image will show through the second layer of inks. It's not a strong resist, it's very subtle, but utterly gorgeous for background papers. Any degree of detail in the stamp you use is fine -- I've used both highly detailed, and relatively simple images with success.

You can see how the images show through the green and brown chalks. I then stamped the same image over the top in a permanent Coffee ink. This is one of the rare Obviously Masculine cards I've done. Nice and earthy, and surprisingly, no florals, dragonflies, or even leaves to be seen.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

More ATC mayhem!

Some of these are substantially older, that I just totally forgot to post here. D'oh!

One of the older ones. I loves my Meser. And all my other kitties.

Halloween ATC, made from a Queen Kat Designs October card kit.
This one is for a Mulberry Paper swap at A fun swap, using handmade, and otherwise unusual papers. My other group for this swap is using the paint chip strips. Eee!

I love this stamp. I picked her up at the Heirloom show this last weekend, as well as another of her, facing to the side. The Shimmering Mist on it kinda looks weird static, but in person, it's gorgeous.

Year of the Monkey! I'm a Monkey, Thing 1 is a Monkey. The background paper is made with Shimmering Mist paint daubers, then overstamped with the Kanji -- which is currently missing, and the dog better not have eaten this one! The Monkey stamp I picked up LAST year at the Heirloom show, along with a Rat (Thing 2).
Words words words ... French and Latin (I THINK it's Latin), stamped over a background done with, of all things, JOINT COMPOUND, then stained. The partial face is on parchment paper.

One of my older ones. Lots and lots of tissue paper layers here. And of course, a dragonfly tucked in there, because, well, I had to.

And one that is just so very me. Yes, more dragonflies, the dream theme, more wings ... and one of my favourite stamps at the top: "No one is perfect. That's why pencils have erasers."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Image Fest! "Art" jewelry and ATCs

Been insanely busy lately. Got work to do for Queen Kat, got a stamp show coming up this weekend, I've been miserably sick, and of course the husband is out in the field -- AFTER bringing home the virus that made me sick in the first place. Men: can't live with them, and shooting them makes too much of a mess that I would have to clean up.

"What Music Inspires an Artist?" I should probably go back and use a metallic rub or alcohol ink on the word "music" so it shows up better. This is a pin, die-cut from chipboard with my Sizzix, then layers of ink and embossing powder. The final layer of embossing powder holds all the goodies.

"Kitty!" This pin belongs to Thing 1 -- you know, the weird kid that wears cat ears to school. Kids that don't know her name call her Kitty. Go figure. So I made an appropriate pin.

"Fortune" I lost track of how many collage layers were in this ATC. There's stamps, tissue paper, the background paper is from a Japanese book, there's all sorts of mulberry ... Yeah. Maybe I got carried away, but I like it. The stamp barely visible on the sides of the center coin means 'dragonfly.'

"Kyoshi Temple" and "Obon." Two more Japan-inspired cards. Maybe I've been watching a little too much Anthony Bourdain lately -- but he's made of awesome, so I can be excused. Obon is a Japanese festival where the ancestors are guided back to spend the day with the family.

This ATC was fun. Two "bad" pictures of Thing 1, that I went crazy on with rubber stamps (and StazOn for the ink), then sliced and diced into varied sizes and shapes to build a mosaic. The "grout" on this is Stickles.

Card done with the stamps from QKD's January Get Inked! kit, with several of the techniques I wrote for that one.

Xyron Shout Out!

Everybody knows I love adhesive. I also adore my Xyrons -- yes, plural. I have the X, the 250, and the 500.

Well, my 500 pulled a new one on me. The top protective layer sheered off inside away from the receiver cartridge, causing the cartridge to fail to advance. With at least 1/3 left on the roll, I was NOT happy!

I called Xyron.

A replacement cartridge is on the way. It was that simple. I told them the problem, they took my name and address, and are sending me a new cartridge.

Their customer service is absolutely TOPS!

Friday, January 04, 2008

QKD Round Robin Blog Party!

The party has started ... are you in it?

It will start on the QKD Blog on Jan. 2 (okay, so I'm late, I'm sick, darnit!) and then it will "blog hop" to each of the Royal Court Members' blogs throughout the month. There's fun and prizes so mark your calendar. See the full schedule below. Each of the Royal Court members has fun things planned for you.

Jan 2: QKD Blog
Jan 3-5: Penny
Jan 7-9: Vicki
Jan 10-12: Nina
Jan 14-16: Tanis
Jan 17-19: Nancy
Jan 21-23: Bev
Jan 24-26: Anam
Jan 28-30: Jules
Jan 31- Feb 2: Pooka
Feb 4-6: Amy

Yes, there are prizes involved! Everyone likes to win stuff, right?

So have fun, stop on by, and get creative with the Queen Kat Designs Royal Court!

Convention Fever!

It's that time again, or at least it seems like it in my little corner of the country. You know what I'm talking about -- convention season. The Heirloom Productions Stamp Show is the weekend of the 11-13th in Grapevine, TX, and there's a huge Creating Keepsakes scrapbook convention the very next weekend down in Houston.

It's time, they're here ... but are YOU ready?

Here's some handy convention-goers survival tips. Some of them, I learned the hard way.

1. Airborne. This product was designed by a school teacher to avoid the regular crud delivered by herds of kids. If you're prone to colds, start medicating the day before the show. Take your vitamins as well, making sure you include Vitamins C, B Complex, and Zinc, to help your immune system ward off the Con Crud. I forgot to do this last year, and I paid for it.

2. Don't leave your drinks at home. Make sure you have a bottle of water on your person at all times. Dehydration isn't fun for anyone, and fighting through crowds to reach refreshment stands and vending machines can be exhausting. Check convention rules for bringing in outside refreshments first, of course, but you should be fine with a bottle of water.

3. If you're going to take part in classes, make-n-takes, or just shopping, don't rely on the flimsy bags they hand out. By the time you leave, your hands and arms will be creased from the weight, and odds are your purchases will be crumpled. Don't go with over-the-shoulder bags, either. They just get heavier as the day goes on. If you don't already have one, a rolling cart is the perfect purchase to take with you. Just drag it, no carrying, and all your purchases and tools will fit inside. Plus, if it's a hard-side rolling cart, you have something to lean or sit on as needed.

4. Always check the site for the show. It will let you know what is added at the last minute, or canceled, so that you don't show up expecting something and get something else. While there, order your tickets in advance. They're always cheaper than at the door.

5. That said, Plan Your Day. By checking the site, you should have a good idea of what classes are available, and what make-n-takes will be there. Get there early for them, because the lines form fast. If classes offer pre-registration, and you KNOW you want to do it and will be there, register before you go. The site will also tell you what supplies you are expected to bring for the classes.

6. Not everybody accepts a credit card at a convention. And sometimes, they won't take anything but cash or check at the door to get in if you forgot to order your tickets in advance. Keep some cash on hand, then your checkbook, and rely on credit cards only if you have to. It'll save you money in the long run if you try to keep in mind what money you have Right Now, and avoid spending by credit.

7. It never hurts to walk away for a little while. If the convention isn't in your home town, step away and see the local sights for a while to avoid convention burn-out. For a show that lasts several days, this will save your sanity -- and your wallet, since you aren't shopping. Sit back, put your feet up, even return to your hotel room and unpack some of your purchases. You aren't going to have much fun if you wear yourself out the very first day.

8. Do some research. Again, the site for the show is your friend. If there's something you've been looking at, but want to see it in person, or don't want to pay exorbitant shipping costs, now's the time to buy. Also, check their normal prices so you know what they charge outside of a convention. Exhibitors often demo their products, so you can see in person how they work. Make-n-takes often allow you to try before you buy. Not sure how often you'll use something you see there? Ask, but don't ask the people behind the booth. Ask your fellow customers.

9. More research. Conventions are great for local business. Some offer special convention deals, whether it be on hotel prices, rental cars, or even dinner. However, those often come with the extra price of being extremely crowded. Look for reviews of local establishments, find places to eat off the main roads, and if all else fails, ask the locals. They know where to eat that won't be packed, and you could find a real treasure. Search for the new and different, and try to avoid chains -- you can eat that stuff at home.

10. If you take medications, don't leave them in your hotel room. Pack them with you, enough for that day. It will save you a trip back to the hotel if your plans change, or you run into an old friend and get distracted from the time. Even if you don't take medication on a regular basis, pack some ibuprofen or Tylenol, eyedrops, especially for those that wear contacts, and bandaids. Between paper cuts, and shoe blisters, your body will thank you if you remember the basics.

11. Layers are your friend. It may be cold outside, but you press several hundred or thousand people together, and the temperature rises fast. Light layers are easier to remove and store in your cart. Unless it's snowing or below freezing, leave your coat in the car. Pack hair ties if you have long hair.

12. If you make ATCs, take some with you. Make sure your contact information is on the back. This is a good way to network, and a lot more interesting than a business card. If you run a small business, take both. They'll remember you better, and you might just make a sale or three. Also remember to pick UP cards at booths. If you see something you want, but don't have the money at the time, write it down on the back of the shop's card. A small notebook can help here as well.

13. If you make wearable art, Wear It! Not only can a unique piece be a great conversation starter (I actually got a free stamp from a fellow dragonfly fan because I wore a wire-work dragonfly I made), but you might just make a new customer.

Above all, have fun!