Cutting Class

If you have been paper crafting for a while you have probably made quite an investment in cutting tools. When starting out one might assume that a nice pair of scissors will do. But there are many different tools that have an array of features that make paper crafting easier, and often more fun! Some devices are made out of sturdy materials so they will last a long time but also makes them expensive. We hope to provide some insight on what to buy and when in order to avoid overspending on equipment you may not need…yet.


At the beginning stage, there is a lot to learn about paper, ink, stamping techniques and adhesives used in projects. It is great to learn the basics of composition and design when starting out. Whether making a card, a banner or a paper flower arrangement, most of the learning curve is with the basic layout, color theory, and form. No matter the layout or project, you are probably going to need to cut the paper.

Drawing representing a basic paper trimmer.

Get a perfect edge of the perfect size (almost) each and every time! (User error does cause some heartaches.)

Besides a good pair of scissors, a basic paper trimmer and a few fun punches will be a great start. A trimmer allows accuracy in cutting measurements and straight clean lines. Once a few projects are made using a paper trimmer,  it is hard to go back. Many come with a slide style blade, but there also are guillotine styles. Another beginner essential is a paper punch. These heavy little devices offer basic shapes such as a circle, heart, star or a hexagon and can keep anyone busy for a long time. With a basic punch, the beginner can go crazy on creating paper garlands, adding dimension to a card design or making labels for other projects. 

They are kinda like the ole’ office supply hole punches on steroids.

$ – Paper trimmer $10-20. Do some research and go ahead and get a nice one. This device will be one of your most used tools no matter how long you’ve been playing with paper. Be sure to get one that offers replacement blades. Punches vary from $5-20 each. Beginning investment can range from $35 -$75.


Once the beginner has developed a strong foundation in layout and a working knowledge of materials then it is time to kick it up a notch with more complex designs. One way to do this is with a die cut machine. Die cuts come in basic shapes, basic words and alphabets, as well as more complex designs like flower sets, animal shapes, box templates, edge treatments, etc. The die and paper run through a die cut machine which may be manually cranked or electronic. It acts much like a punch creating perfect shapes. Die cuts can be much more delicate than punch shapes and you can find die cuts that do some really amazing tricks! Using die cuts can be quite joyful, but the price is significant. Once you are ready, invest in the machine and build your die cuts over time. As with punches, think about the variety of uses you will get out of each die when deciding on which ones to purchase.

Hand drawn image of a hand crank die cut machine.

You can get a workout while you create!

$$ – Die Cut Machine $50-$150. Again, do some research and get a nice one. One machine should last you for years. Wait for a sale or a coupon and pick one up. $15-30 for each die set. Your investment could easily reach $100-$200 quickly.


Plotting and crafting meet at last! What takes someone from an intermediate to an advanced crafter is debatable. Since the digital machines are the most expensive, we reserve the price point for the advanced level with the confidence that anyone can make millions of great projects without spending at this level. While digital cutting machines are designed for easy use, we feel the advanced crafter will have the background and experience to get the most out of the flexibility and precision the plotter style machines offer.

Hand drawn image of a digital cutting machine.

It’s like having your very own crafty robot.

$$$ – Digital Die Cut Machine $200-400.

Whether you are just starting in paper crafting or have been crafting for years, we hope this review has helped provide guidance on purchasing tools that will match your needs. Of course, buy whatever devices you wish especially if you are on a Treat Yo Self mission! We recommend the above “levels” for the amount of use one can get before moving on to the next purchase!






Paper, What is it Good for? Absolutely Everything!

Paper is complicated. Just like ink, paper is formulated to a specific end use. Whether the end use is newspaper, magazine, copy paper, business card, greeting card or paper crafting, the paper manufacturer knows the intention for how the product will be used and creates formulas to accommodate the different market needs. In this brief review of paper, we will explore the history and production of paper and how the different characteristics effect crafting and art.



Paper was invented in China around 200 BC to replace a cumbersome practice of writing on bamboo sticks and silk. Cai Lun, an official of the Han Dynasty, invented the technique of pulping by experimenting with turning fibers from hemp, fishnets, and rags into a paste, then pressing this goopy matter into a sheet form to dry. This highly praised innovation quickly became the standard in China and soon spread around the world.

In the 13th century, Spain created a leap in production with the introduction of the hydraulic paper mill which replaced traditional manual pulping. This change resulted in a significant price drop and quicker availability.

Moving on into the Industrial Revolution, paper making became even faster which enabled paper to be made in longer sheets (or rolls) with half the drying time. This is important because paper crafting would not work if paper costs remained sky high!


Talk about Steampunk!


Let’s get to the fun part and talk about characteristics and use. There are two essential characteristics to consider. First, the color of the paper is predetermined. Any bleaching or dying happens while it is still a soup. That means the color of the paper is deep in the fibers. (Unless of course you are using a patterned paper, then the colors are applied after. Papers may also be coated afterwards, to make it glossy, say.) Second, the density of the paper is also determined by the pulp type, density and thickness. Paper weight is commonly labeled in pounds. Paper weight is important because it paints a picture of how dense the paper is, and how the ink will absorb into that density. If a project requires a lot of color layering then it is best to go with a heavier paper. Fun Fact: the ‘weight’ referred to is the measurement of 500 20×26 inch sheets.


A rainbow of colors! Each fiber dyed to its core when the paper was made.

The following descriptions break down the weights of some commonly used papers:

Copy Paper (20lbs.) – Used for general printing. Thin and inexpensive. Thin density causes it to wrinkle and warp easily with most wetter inks and paints. It will have a bit of a translucent quality if the paper if held up to light.

Cardstock (80lbs.) – Stronger and yet easily creased—crafters perfect paper! Many inks can soak into paper without wrinkling and warping.

Watercolor (140lbs.) – Can be gotten quite wet without falling apart or warping. It is literally built to absorb water and pigment. Unlike most copy and cardstock papers which are made with wood pulps, watercolor paper can be made entirely out of cotton or linen pulps.

This is certainly not an complete overview of all the different papers available! Head to your local art store and peruse the paper section. There’s a lot of variety—all of it made with a specific use in mind! It’s a lot of fun to try out new papers and discover new techniques to add to your repertoire.












Imagine at Creativation

cha creativation 2017

We think we packed everything. We got our booth, our crafting table, swatches of Memento, irRESISTibles, StazOn, VersaColor, VersaMagic, etc, etc…snacks, bottled water, pens, our business cards, catalogs and baby wipes! So we are ready, and at this year’s Creativation, we will be featuring some new products. (We think we have washed all of the shimmer off our hands in preparation.) If you are going to be at this years show, please come by booth 2801 and say hi! If not- stay tuned to the blog for new product announcements!

marcie and amanda pile into cha crate

Marcie and Amanda, aka The Marketing Department, almost got shipped off in the crate too!

Always a highlight of the CHA shows are our classes with John Creighton Petersen. When he is not creating art or touring all over the world teaching, we are delighted to hang with him as he picks up supplies for his classes.

John Petersen teaches at Creativation 2017 using StazOn

John’s Creativation Classes

John Petersen teaches at Creativation 2017 using Memento Luxe

Everyday Crafting
Friday, January 20th 6pm – 8pm

Learn how to best use Imagine products successfully on fabric as well as layering StazOn on glass with the help of GlazOn.

John Petersen teaches at Creativation 2017 using Delicata

Technique Transformation
Monday, January 23rd 10am – 12pm

See how to use Imagine’s mixed media products successfully on a variety of surfaces, including blending, texturizing and other application techniques with Delicata, Creative Medium and StazOn.

Make sure you are signed up for these classes through Creativation. We hope to see you either at a class or at our booth!











New Year, New Beginnings!

With the start of a new year, it can often be a time for new beginnings. That is true here at Imagine! We have been busy painting at HQ to do a nice refresh to start 2017 off on the right foot. We are prepping for the big trade show Creativation in Phoenix this month. And we are starting a new program here on our blog! Each month we are going to highlight a fun color. We’ll announce it here, and you can have fun looking for it all month long in the projects we share here and on Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Maybe because we have had a nice cool winter so far in Washington, or maybe just because it is such a beautiful color, we are starting off with light wintergreen for January’s color.


Tenia got right on board with this color and made this beautiful Happy New Year card.

2017_jan_tn_cheers_step2She found light wintergreen by blending together VersaMagic in Aquatic Splash and Turquoise Gem. She really got them to blend into a beautiful color, with a wonderful eye to let the color darken and lighten on different parts of the paper. She used Memento and Fireworks! inks in Tuxedo Black to decorate the rest of the panel. She splattered the Fireworks! ink using the internal tube rather than the spray head. Since Fireworks! is a liquid ink it is really versatile. Spraying is just one way to apply it.




Elina also used Fireworks! without spraying it. She mixed a little Bahama Blue with Cottage Ivy and did a unique watercolor application over some textured watercolor paper. She achieved the texture using Creative Medium Shimmer and a leaf stencil. Here’s how she explains the watercolor process:

When painting the textured background I first misted the paper with water, and then added drops of blue and green Fireworks! craft sprays. I did not spray the colors, but unscrewed the nozzle and tapped it with my finger to drop a few splashes of ink on the wet paper. When drying I let the colors mix for creating a beautiful mint color. Such a fun project to make!

Elina also found Turquoise Gem VersaMagic to make a lovely wintergreen color. She used it to watercolor her flower image. She found VersaMagic to make for a lovely, rich, opaque watercolor paint that was really easy to work with when mixed with water. Don’t forget that you can use any water based ink to use as a watercolor ‘paint’!

We wish you a very Happy New Year, and hope you enjoy a minty month!

Supplies used in Tenia Nelson’s Card:

  • Lawn Fawn – circle stamps
  • Cardstock – white
  • Queen and Co – washi tape
  • SRM stickers – sticker stitches
  • Sequins
  • Foam tape
  • Scissors

Supplies used in Elina Stromberg’s Card:

  • Heavy watercolor paper
  • Cardstock – white, blue
  • DWC – Stencil
  • Altenew – flower stamps
  • Water brush
  • Acrylic stamping block
  • Studio Calico – ’Hello’ die
  • Blue sewing yarn
  • White and blue seed beads
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Double Embossing for a Smooth Finish

Papercrafting embossing example of thick black rimmed glasses using a double-embossing technique with irRESISTible Pico Embellishe for the lenses completing the lenses.

When heat embossing over a larger surface area, it doesn’t necessarily leave a smooth finish, even when you are using VersaMark, the best ink for embossing. However, by double embossing, you can achieve a nice shiny smooth surface! However, you can take it too far and start to blur your lines. By mixing double embossing with irRESISTible Pico Embellisher, you can get the best of both worlds! Filling in an embossed area with a Pico Embellisher is super easy because it creates an excellent barrier. While our example is a bit nerdy- you can apply this technique to so many other projects!

For this project, we used from Imagine: VersaMark, Black Embossing Powder and irRESISTible Pico Embellisher in Shimmer. We also used white cardstock, a stamp press, a heat tool, and The Sweet Stamp Shop’s Spectacle stamp. If you don’t have a stamp press, using a VersaMarker would work too!



Reusable Gift Wrap

For many people the source of joy for the holidays is giving! One of the coolest ways to express yourself in the holiday season is creative gift wrapping. Creating a reusable gift bag that could be used year round paired with a gift tag that creates a holiday mood is a thoughtful way to go!

We have several products that can be used on fabric. With all the product, after it is dry, simply heat set with an iron set to the correct temperature for the fabric. In our example we used VersaCraft Ink with matching Fabrico Markers.

A muslin bag masked with painters tape has been inked with VersaCraft ink in Ultramarine

We used pre-made muslin bags and simply masked off a big block section to ink up. In this photo we used Cerulean Blue VersaCraft with a Jumbo Dauber.

VersaCraft works into the fabric without migrating sideways like a fabric dye. This is the essential quality needed for creating clean edges. Many screen printing inks are quite tacky to avoid migration. With VersaCraft and Fabrico you get the best of both worlds—easy clean-up and crisp images. Before you start inking, make sure you place something like plastic or cardboard inside the bag to prevent the ink from bleeding through to the other side. In our second bag we used VersaCraft Poppy Red. We used a Fabrico Marker to draw a thin line above the thick block stripe. Since the block was inked up real well, we let it air dry for 24 hours before heat setting. Use a scrap piece of fabric between the ink and your iron.

Drawing on a muslin gift bag with a Fabrico Marker above a big red blog created by VersaCraft.

The gift tag is the mood setter in this project. Again, we are aiming for the bag to be reused for any season, but the gift tag is all Christmas!

A handmade gift bag inked in Poppy Red block and stripe with a handmade tag featuring Santa Clause.

We used Santa Claus from Flourishes l.c with VersaFine and embossed with Clear Embossing Powder. Next, use VersaCraft Poppy Red to color the area around Santa and use Fabrico Poppy Red to color in Santa’s hat. The tag will perfectly match the stripes on the bag and will also give the effect of Santa popping forward from the background. Any additional detailing on this tag is your creative liberty! We shined Santa’s beard with Delicata White Shimmer, embossed the sentiment “For You” and colored in Santa’s face with Memento Dual-tip Markers.

A muslin giftbag inked with Ultramarine VersaCraft in a block section with a handmade tag embossed with a snowflake pattern and inked in blue too.