Tips and Tricks: Crafting on a Budget

by Roni Johnson

Tips and Tricks: Crafting on a Budget

Crafting can get pricey! If you are spending too much on crafting and it is taking some of the joy out of it then we are sharing some easy ways to scale back but still engage in a great crafting routine. There are lots of articles out there about crafting on a budget and most of them discuss the same list of common sense ideas…

  • Price shop
  • Clip Coupons (IRL or web)
  • Shop at Dollar Stores or Thrift Stores
  • Upcycle/Recycle various items
  • Search web for ideas/patterns

These general ideas are nice and they are a good start but I want to give you some specific ideas and tips to help you save not only money but something more valuable…your time.

Buy Unmounted Rubber Stamps

Unmounted stamps can cost as much as 50-80% less than traditional wood mounted stamps, take up less space and are easy to store and use. To use unmounted rubber stamps, apply Tack ‘N Peel to your acrylic blocks. This is a clear reusable cling sheet that has a protective liner sheet that can be used over and over. Once it has been affixed to the acrylic block it is very simple to use, remove the clear liner sheet; position the stamp on the block as desired, ink and stamp. When you are finished stamping simply peel the rubber stamp off the block and replace the liner. If the Tack ‘N Peel loses its “sticky” quality simply wash with water and let it dry. After it is dry it will once again be ready to use.

Make your own Texture Stamps and Stencils

This is a fun and easy task when you stop and look around your home. You’ll be surprised at how many items can be turned into a usable texture for all sorts of crafts. For example, lace, food netting, cheesecloth can all be used as a stamp or stencil. Foam food trays can be carved to create stamps, bubble wrap, rubber bands, fibers, leaves, coins can all be turned into stamps by sticking them to an acrylic block. Pencils tips are great for the bokeh technique, kitchen utensils, game pieces, tools, feathers, flowers, and more can also be put to use. You only have to take a moment and look around to see what you have on hand that will create fun and new stamps or stencils for your art.

Clearly Embossed

Let’s face it there are hundreds if not thousands of colors and brands of embossing powders on the market. You could easily spend a small fortune collecting the various embossing powders available today. A great option is clear embossing powder; the original ink color will shine through and match your project perfectly. No need to sort through jar after jar trying to find the right color to match your project and no more storing all of those little jars either! Tip: Did you know you can turn virtually any dye ink into an emboss-able image? Press your stamp onto a VersaMark ink pad then onto a dye ink pad and then stamp the image. The image can now be embossed because of the VersaMark ink. This works particularly well with a clean VersaMark ink pad for lighter colors and I keep an old grungy VersaMark for darker colors.

Make Pattern Papers

Let’s face it, most of us have more pattern paper to last us the rest of our lives so instead of buying yet another sheet, pack or collection, break out your stamps and make your own pattern! It’s easy; all you need is a sheet of plain cardstock, ink and complimenting stamps. All sorts of designs can be achieved quickly and easily. Give it a try, you’ll be surprised how quickly it is to make. Making a pattern doesn’t have to be perfect…if you make a stamping mistake, look at it as an opportunity to embellish!

Coloring Pages as Art

There are thousands of beautiful coloring sheets up for grabs on the internet free for your personal use. These coloring pages are great because they can be re-sized to fit your particular project and they can be used for backgrounds as well as the main focal point. You can choose to print the images on the appropriate paper to fit your particular use and mediums you would like to incorporate be it plain cardstock, bristol cardstock, watercolor paper, mixed media paper and more. The uses are limitless.

No More Waste

To eliminate wasting various mediums by keeping a supply of plain tags or A2 size blank cardstock panels handy when you are creating. Use these spare pieces to pick up excess medium from your work surface and tools. You may choose to pick up mediums once or several times depending on your preference. These tags and panels can then be used to create one of a kind artwork in a snap. All of the hard work has already been done. Simply pop on the main image and/or sentiment and your set to go. Instant card or tag for whatever your need.

Multiples

When you’re making a card or gift be sure to work in multiples! By doing so you will cut down on waste and left-over scraps. If you use a quarter sheet of cardstock rather than pitch the extra or place it in the never-ending scrap basket make two or three similar cards to help use up all of the extra bits. Rather than having a basket full of scraps that you might or might not use you’ll end up with a basket of finished cards, tags, ATC’s, etc. that can be used in a moment’s notice.

No matter how you structure you crafting habits and budget you will find there are several ways to keep costs at a minimum. Thank you for stopping by the Imagine Blog!

Supplies

Imagine

Learn the Basics of Stenciling

by Iris Rodriguez

Learn the Basics of Stenciling

Stencils are a great tool to use for creating images and effects on just about any creative project. You can decorate a  journal with them, create card backgrounds and textures, use in your paintings, or in home décor projects. Imagine’s inkpads, inks, sprays, and texture mediums can all be used with stencils. In addition, Imagine has you covered with applicators such as Sponge Daubers, Palette knives, and Stipple brushes. In this article, I’ll discuss some ways to organize, use with different products, proper care and cleaning your stencils.

Organizing Your Stencils

There many ways to organize your stencils. One excellent way is to search crafting, office and home goods stores for options on storage containers. Whichever you choose, it’s important to lay them flat. I think on of the best ways to keep them flat is to use dividers in storage bins or drawers. File folders can be found in office supply stores. Label your dividers by type, theme, or designer. Another way to store stencils in a three-ring binder book inside plastic page protectors. Place color cardstock paper so that you can see the stencil and maximize storage by storing two stencils on one sheet.

If you have an open crafting space then hang stencils with metal hook clips on a rack. I like the idea of hanging my stencils because I can easily go through them and find what I am looking for. I punch a hole in the corners of my stencils and place them in a binder ring.

I have an IKEA wooden shelving unit to store my crafting storage bins. I’ve attached long screws on the side to hang my stencils. Hanging them freed up space and I can easily access them. Some alternatives are to hang them on a clothes hanger with a metal hook or binder clips, store them flat in bins or drawer or hang them on revolving wire three-tier shoe rack with a metal hook or binder clips.

Stenciling with Imagine Inks

Imagine’s Inkblushers and Sponge Daubers work great with stencils because the soft sponge material presses ink down past the edges of the stencil’s details. The sponges produce sharp edges and finely detailed inking better than most other tool. If you have a highly detailed stencil, the sponge materials are especially handy for getting into small and intricate opening, or getting around the tight areas of the stencil.

Stenciling with All-Purpose Ink and Inkblushers. Add a couple of ink drops to your crafting mat and pounce the Inkblusher over the ink. Inkblushers are highly absorbent and work well with Imagine’s All-Purpose Inks.

Inkblushers can also be used to stencil with acrylic paints. Like with inks, you can get clean edges and good detail. Wash the Inkblusher under running water immediately. If you cannot get to the sink right away, wipe off as much paint as you can and then keep it in water, like your paintbrush water. If left out without being washed, the paint will dry and harden the Inkblusher. Unfortunately, the paint cannot be washed out. However, all is not lost; only the area that had the paint will harden, and not harden the entire sponge. Using your scissors, cut off the piece with the hardened paint and continue to use.

Imagine’s Jumbo Daubers provide fine detailed inking. The handle allows you to have great control and pressure over the stencils. Imagine’s Jumbo Daubers also work great Acrylic paints. Add a few drops of paint to your craft mat, pounce the Dauber on the paint, then pounce the Dauber onto a clean area on your mat. Get the paint evenly on the Dauber and avoid globs of paint. If you get too much paint on the Dauber, it will go under the stencil.

Imagine’s Creative Mediums are smooth acrylic pastes that provide yummy textures for any project. This is where stencils are very different from stamps because you can create an image with texture. Use Imagine’s palette knives and Squeegee to add the Creative Medium. Silver Metallic Creative Medium using a palette knife. Imagine’s Multi-purpose Squeegee has a wider surface; perfect for using with larger stencils with large openings. Use a palette knife to add the medium onto the Squeegee.

Imagine’s Fireworks Craft Spray makes stenciling a breeze. To get clean patterns, start spraying from the outside edges of the paper and spray inwards. Change up the starting point and spray. By starting from the outside, avoids harsh spray edges or heavy splotches of ink. Clean up is easy, simply wipe off your stencil and craft mat with a dry paper/cotton towel. To double down on the stencil effects you can “stamp” the wet ink from the stencil onto another piece of cardstock.

Create unique effects with Imagine Stipple brushes. These brushes have a flat, firm bristle head for stippling. It can be used on just about any surface. They are great for stenciling on fabric for getting into the grain. This creates patterns of fine dots by pouncing the brush onto the substrate. Scumble by brushing at a slight angle in a random fashion. This creates brushstrokes and because of brush’s firm bristles, it won’t get under the stencil.

Cleaning the Stencils

One of the hardest things about working with stencils is cleaning them. Even so, keeping your stencils clean will help to maintain clean edges, last longer and you’ll have a clean stencil for your next project. The key to success for keeping stencils clean, regardless of the medium, is to clean them immediately with a wet paper/cloth towel or baby wipe. Depending on the medium you will have ink/paint residue.

When using pigment inks, All-Purpose Ink, or dye inks, wipe the stencil immediately with a wet paper/cloth towel, or baby wipe. Since these inks are water-based the stencil will clean up quickly and completely. When using permanent inks, simply wiping the stencil off with water, will not get it clean. Use a stamp cleaner or Rubbing Alcohol to clean your stencil. Imagine’s StazOn All-Purpose Stamp Cleaner works well for cleaning ink off your stencils. Dab the cleaner on the stencil and wipe with a dry paper/cloth towel. The cleaner tends to leave a little bit of an oily residue. Simply wipe it off with a clean wet paper/cloth towel.

Acrylics paints are harder on stencils than inks. Acrylic paint can leave heavy buildup on your stencils and distort the edges. As with inks, clean the stencil immediately after using with a wet paper/cloth towel or baby wipe. Get as much paint off of it, as possible.

Use a cleaning or nail brush and soap to clean your stencils. Mix handwashing/dishwashing or Artist Painter’s type soap with water in a container. Dip the brush and scrub the paint off the stencil. Lay the stencil flat and rub gently, avoid bending the openings.

Sources

http://www.shellybailey.com/2014/03/project-life-2014-title-page-and.html

Source: https://www.sadieseasongoods.com/stencil-storage-magazine-rack/

Source: http://www.arthappy.me/paint-storage-display-idea/

Source: http://www.arthappy.me/paint-storage-display-idea/

Create a High Contrast Card with Gold Embossing

by Martha Lucia Gomez

Create a High Contrast Card with Gold Embossing

The color challenge for July is Golden Glow and I immediately thought of Gold Embossing! I was so excited because I love Clean and Simple cards and I think using gold as your main color allows for a clean and simple design that is still sure to wow the recipient. While my card is in the style of CAS it is a bit of an advanced technique as it actually has three layers of paper! If you are looking for a beautiful design to create for a special occasion this White and Gold theme is an elegant combination. Enjoy!

Skill: Advanced
Time: 1 hour

Directions


Step 1

With masking tape create a border on the bottom of your card base. The width of the border depends on the size of the die cut letters that you want to use. In my project, I created a 1 inch border because the size of my die cuts is Jumbo. Ink the masked area directly with the VersaMark Inkpad. Cover the inked area with Gold Embossing Powder and melt the powder with the heat tool.


Step 2

Set the card base aside. Use large die letters to cut the letters “H” and “I” for the greeting. Align the letters over the card border and mask the lower portion with masking tape to match the card base border. (I used the same piece of masking tape for step one and two.)


Step 3

Cut a piece of whisper white cardstock to match the same area that is still white on the card base. In my sample, the card is a standard size, so my top layering piece is 5.5″ x 3.25″. Leaving the masking tape attached to the front side, apply On Point Glue on the back of the letters, above the masked area only. Paste the letters onto the separate layer aligning the masked area to the lower edge of your cardstock layer.


Step 4

Stamp a floral image on the left corner of the top cardstock piece with VersaMark and emboss with Gold Embossing Powder. Add a fun foam white layer behind the decorated layer and tape over the card base aligning the gold borders.

 

Supplies

Imagine
Other
  • Masking Tape
  • Altenew – Persian Motifs Stamp Set
  • Stampin’ Up – Large Letters Framelits
  • Big Shot Die Cutting Machine
  • Heat tool
  • Cardstock – White
  • MISTI Stamping Tool, Stamparatus or acrylic block

Helpful Tips and Tricks: How to Take Amazing Photos of Craft Projects

by Martha Lucia Gomez

Helpful Tips and Tricks: How to Take Amazing Photos of Craft Projects

With the ever-growing popularity of social media platforms, particularly Instagram, crafters have been talking about how to take better photos of our projects. Since not all of us are professional photographers, and we don’t all have “the perfect tools”, I would like to talk about how to take great photos of your work without having to be a pro-photographer.

Style your photos creatively

These are important elements to focus on when taking a photo of a project:

  • the backdrop or background
  • main focus – which is always your project
  • props or supporting elements to make the focus shine
  • the camera

Backgrounds

With clear and simple photos you need to have a neutral base or background, like white, grey, ecru, cream or even brown tones like wood. Since most of us don’t have professional lighting, set your background up where it is in natural light, and make sure it is a large enough base to place your card or project. Try using dark colors in the background to help the project colors pop.

You can set up your background so that your project can be laid flat or standing up. I find that I can capture more details by taking photos of my cards flat on a surface with the camera located directly above it. Also, if you have a small space to take your photos, this option is perfect because it requires less space and can make it easier to incorporate other elements.

With flat photos, remember your backdrop is the most important part. If you are creative you don’t need to buy expensive elements, you can use everyday household items and surfaces as the background. The most important thing is to keep in mind the colors and textures. A brightly colored element next to your project can round out the scene and support the focal point, but being able to use it as the background will be trickier, tho can work on occasion.

You can use wood surfaces, floor boards, ceramic tiles or designer textured papers, as well as other supplies to add some depth to the photos. You can also use elements like designed plates, which can be easily found in home decor stores. My favorite is HomeGoods because I can buy just one plate, placemat or napkin. Neutral colored fat quarters found at the fabric store is another cheap option.

Supplies or Photo Props

With staging photos, it is nice to add a few elements alongside your card or project—but these cannot compete with the main focus object i.e. your crafting project. You can use many items as photo props. I use a lot of flowers and greenery, my favorites are made of silicone because the fabric flowers don’t look real to me. But definitely, my favorites photo props are the craft supplies. Supplies like inks, stamps, stencils, color pencils or markers, and die cuts are perfect elements to support your project. Extra embellishments like buttons, sequins, washi tape and twines are also great, but always be careful with the color combinations. My suggestion is to start with the neutral items first that won’t compete with your project. If you still aren’t finding what you like, just look around your home and you might find gorgeous elements that you can borrow for a few minutes as part of your photo.

Camera

With today’s technology, you really don’t need to have a professional camera. Cell phones like the iPhone or Samsung make it possible to take amazing photos. To make them work best, use natural light source and keep an eye out for any shadows across your photo. Also, think about a good angle to take the photo. Always start by making your lens parallel to the project front, and then play with the angle from there. My last helpful hint is very simple but important: always clean the lens of your camera or phone before taking the photos. Because we touch our phones so often it is easy for the lens to become dirty.

I hope you found these tips useful. Just remember to stay open to learning new ideas and most importantly have fun! Thank you for stopping by the Imagine blog and don’t forget to share!

Learn How to Upcycle Wine Bottles with Paper Mache

by Iris Rodriguez

Spring is coming and in some places, it’s already starting to look like spring with the beginning of sunny weather. To celebrate the change of the season, I like altering bottles of every type such as wine, liquor, and Coke bottles. Each one has it’s own potential and beauty. Today’s project is an altered wine bottle, made to look like flowers are springing out (pun intended) with a real zipper and paper mache to cover the glass. This project takes time! Paper mache takes longer to dry so to start this project please carve out a couple days for its completion. As part of my color palette, I was inspired by Pantone’s Color of the Year, Ultraviolet. For my version of Ultraviolet I used Fireworks! Shimmery Craft Spray Grape Jelly and Lulu Lavender. This altered bottle makes a beautiful home décor, centerpiece or just a nice gift.

Skill: Advanced
Time: 2.5 hours + 1 day drying time

Directions


Step 1

Select a bottle, remove labels and wash it inside and out. Dry completely.


Step 2

Measure the zipper on the bottle, determined where it should open and adjust slider accordingly.


Step 3

Glue cardstock paper on each side of the zipper, ensuring that the paper is on front facing side of the zipper. Add paper starting from the top of the zipper to where the slider is located. The paper helps to glue the zipper on the bottle and still allows for adjustments to the opening.


Step 4

Glue tissue paper around the area where the zipper will be placed. The tissue makes for a porous surface to color and to glue on the zipper. Let dry.


Step 5

Glue the zipper onto the bottle.


Step 6

Mix the Sculptamold or other paper mache product with water. Mix in small sprinkles of water at a time until the desired consistency is achieved, which should be similar to cottage cheese. Mix a small portion at a time. Be careful but quick because it sets fast.


Step 7

Apply the paper mache with a palette knife around the outside of the zipper. Work time is short—about 15 mins before it begins to set. Spray a little water to smooth the surface. (After it has set, you won’t be able to change it much.) Paper mache is very porous and takes the ink sprays very nicely. It is messy, however. It is water soluble, so clean up is fast and easy. Let the bottle dry for one day or more.


Step 8

Apply more paper mache or molding paste through stencils. The pattern will not come out crisp and clear because of the bumpy surface but that’s what makes it artsy! Let dry.


Step 9

Color the bottle with Fireworks Shimmery Craft Sprays.


Step 10

Color paper flowers with the Fireworks. If you want some dilution of color without dilution of Sparkle, add Sheer Shimmer in Sparkle. (Also, if you wanted to keep some white, make them match by just adding Sheer Shimmer.)


Step 11

Spray Fireworks onto the smooth side of the watercolor paper. Dry it completely. Stamp and emboss the butterflies with Tuxedo Black Memento Luxe and black embossing powder. Fussy cut the butterflies. For the antennas soak a piece of embroidery thread in glue. This will stiffen the thread. Cut little pieces for the antennas and glue to the back of the butterflies.


Step 12

To make a decorative bottle stopper use a dresser pull knob.


Step 13

Apply gesso to the dresser pull knob then color with the Grape Jelly Fireworks Craft Spray. Then seal the knob with the spray sealer.


Step 14

To adhere the knob to the bottle, use a natural cork and glue. The cork usually expands when it is popped out the bottle, so in essence, it’s hard to stick back in the bottle completely. However, you can shave down the cork with a serrated knife. This image shows the cork before and after.


Step 15

Screw in the dresser pull knob into the cork. Apply E-6000 adhesive. An alternative to using a cork, adhere the dresser pull knob with a two-part Epoxy clay.


Step 16

Place the corked knob in the bottle.


Step 17

Phew! Almost done. All that is left to do is to put it together. Glue the flowers in the area between the open zipper, tucking them under the edges. Glue butterflies around. Spray a little bit of sealer over the entire bottle.


Step 18

The pull knob’s neck area will need a ribbon to cover the seam and glued cork. Embellish the bottle with charms, rhinestones, chains.

Supplies

Imagine
Other
  • Glass bottle
  • Zipper
  • Paper flowers
  • Embellishments – ribbon, rhinestones, charms
  • Butterfly stamp
  • Sculptamold or other paper mache product
  • Molding paste (optional)
  • Cardstock – white
  • Watercolor paper
  • Gel Glue
  • E-6000
  • Cork
  • Dresser pull knob
  • Stencils
  • Gesso
  • Krylon – Spray Sealer
  • Embroidery thread – black

See What Craft Supplies Our Artists Recommend for Weddings

See What Craft Supplies Our Artists Recommend for Weddings

There are so many kinds of craft projects that would successfully create a DIY wedding. We see all sorts of fabulous ideas on Pinterest and highlights from crafter’s blogs that blow our minds. We decided to ask our Artists in Residence (and some members of the Imagine team) to recommend their favorite Tsukineko or Imagine products to use in wedding cardmaking and crafting. Here is what they had to say!

Product Recommendations

3 Votes for Delicata!

Steph Ackerman

I recommend Delicata in Celestial Copper and Imagine’s Embossing Powder in Clear. This metallic pigment ink creates a beautiful effect on vellum. For further detail add a touch of color with Memento Markers to coordinate with the colors of the bridal party. The full-size inkpad should be enough to create a large number of cards and this ink has an inker available. So if you are creating more than usual then purchase the inker with the large inkpad.

Nadine Carlier

Delicata in White Shimmer and Imagine’s Embossing Powder in Iridescent on black cardstock is a great combo. For a video tutorial, I created this gorgeous black and white themed wedding invitation card. If you need the extra shimmery wedding then spray some Sheer Shimmer Spritz Sparkle. Watch Nadine’s video.

Jowilna Nolte

I recommend using All-Purpose Ink Pale Mint Green and Delicata in White Shimmer on top, all on a pearly cardstock. One lovely stamping technique I recommend for making an invitation would be to use a layered stamp set like you would find in the Altenew collection.

Shop Delicata

 

3 Votes for Embossing Powders!

Jennifer Vanderbeek

Gold and silver embossing powder is the best way to bring a touch of elegance. If you don’t have time to DIY it all, a touch of gold or silver embossing on your paper goods can elevate purchased items with a bit of pizazz.

Melissa Andrew

I really love Imagine’s Embossing Powders on vellum. I love a beautiful soft look for weddings and a gorgeous embossing powder on or under vellum is simple yet stunning. The beautiful colors, gold or silver, are the perfect colors to represent long-lasting love. They seem to compliment any colors a bride would choose. VersaMark ink is a great ink for embossing because of it’s tacky qualities. 

Arjita Sepaha Singh 

For an Indian wedding, perspective red is the color! Red is considered auspicious and adding Imagine’s Embossing Powder in Gold will be like a match made in heaven.

Shop Embossing

2 Votes for Creative Medium!

Kyriakos Pachadiroglou

I recommend Creative Medium in any of the Iridescent colors as a great way to create backgrounds that are not visible at first sight, giving an elegant and festive style with a distinctive glamour.

Martha Lucia Gomez

I enjoy Creative Medium in Clear and created a floral design using a watercolor technique with Fireworks Shimmery Craft Spray and Memento dye inks. See the full tutorial for this card. 

Shop Creative Medium

2 Votes for Sheer Shimmer Spritz!

Roni Johnson

For wedding projects, there’s nothing I like more than Sheer Shimmer Spray to add a touch of elegance, sparkle, and shine. It comes in 6 different colors, perfect to match any theme the bride and groom have chosen. Sheer Shimmer Spray can make plain white sparkle and they make colored backgrounds really pop! 

Marcie McCabe

My recommendation is Sheer Shimmer Spray in Sparkle and Fireworks Craft Spray in the colors of the wedding party. 

Shop Sheer Shimmer Spray

 

1 Vote for Fireworks Sprays

Iris Rodriguez

I recommend Fireworks Shimmery Craft Sprays for crafting in wedding decor. It can be hard to match the right colors for wedding decor. Since Fireworks is available in 24 colors and is a dye-based ink, you can choose one of the colors or blend colors to make the desired color. For example, to make a simple cork place card holder (in photo above), add a paper flower embellishment and color it with Fireworks! It’s elegant, inexpensive and personal. To make a zero waste wedding, make a wreath by attaching all remaining cork place card holders and flowers to a frame.

Shop Fireworks!

2 Votes for VersaFine Clair

Kassandra Tousignant

I recommend a delicate floral background stamp on paper with Sheer Shimmer Spray in Sparkle. In the photo above, I layered the paper with an acrylic sheet on top stamped with VersaFine Clair inked “It’s Your Special Day” sentiment. 

 Amanda Harryman

For those who don’t want to emboss, but want a touch of that elegant look, I would recommend Delicata in Golden Glitz or Silvery Shimmer depending on colors or preferences. I can also say that I would recommend VersaFine Clair in Nocturne, or other wedding colors, to use for the return address stamp on invitations since it will stamp the details clearly, and be smudge-proof quickly.

Shop VersaFine Clair