We have a special treat in store today! Our Creative Arts Manager, Karen Pedersen, is showing us a few creative and easy watercolor techniques using our small round and medium round waterbrushes!
Unlike a traditional paintbrush, the handle of a waterbrush is made up of a water reservoir, eliminating the need for a water cup. The light colored bristles allow the painter to easily determine their color load and paint concentration, and the included cap protects the bristles and brush head while also sealing the water inside.
If you are accustomed to using traditional paintbrushes, you will notice that controlling a waterbrush is quite different. With a little practice, however, you too will find your groove and discovery why we love them!
Follow along with Karen, below, and pick up a few tips and tricks for making a waterbrush work for you!
Here’s a closer look at the artwork examples from the video:
The first watercolor technique you saw teaches how to create a colorful background like the one on this page. Using a medium round waterbrush, lay down watercolor paint onto an all-purpose mat. Then, lay the paper you want to add the color to facedown onto the paint and allow it to soak up for a few seconds. Turn your paper right side up and let it dry before continuing with your project.
If you look closely, you’ll see that in this Welcome card, we have two different watercolor techniques to talk through. The first, is the stenciled background. Using a stencil we created out of a stencil sheet and a Cricut® shape, we were able to paint a beautiful watercolor textured background with a medium round waterbrush. The second technique Karen talks through is how to achieve the detail and color variation seen in the plants of this card using the small round waterbrush.
The last technique we share can easily make any of us look like watercolor experts! Instead of ink, add watercolor paint to a raised stamp and use it to create the image on your artwork! Look how beautiful those leaves turned out on this card! Make sure not to add too much water to avoid ending up with a blobby image. (In the video above, Karen shows you how!)
If you’re a fan of waterbrushes, please leave us a comment below and tell us why! AND…if you’ve got any tips or tricks you’ve picked up along the way, please share those with all of us, too!
In honor of National Stamping Month, we thought it’d be fun to share with you some stamping techniques on the blog—because no crafter can ever have too many stamping tricks up her sleeve, right? 😉
Today’s post is going to teach you what we call the Split Stamping technique.
This technique is exactly what it sounds like: You split your stamp image. There are a few different ways to do this.
One of the easiest ways is to stamp an image onto a piece of cardstock and then cut it into pieces, like the elephant below.
Cutting up an image and reassembling it on your artwork is a unique way to draw more attention to your stamping.
Another way you can “split” your stamp is with masking. Not sure what we mean by “masking”? Masking is when you cover up part of your stamp or paper before stamping an image.
Here, we attached a strip of cardstock across the center of our card with just a little bit of adhesive so it wouldn’t slide around. Next, we stamped our flowers along the top and bottom of the card, overlapping them slightly with the strip. We then carefully peeled off the cardstock strip, removed any leftover adhesive with our Rub & Remove™ eraser, painted our flowers, and then stamped our sentiment.
For a more advanced spin on this technique, try incorporating the piece of cardstock you use for the masking!
For this card, we cut both pieces of White Daisy cardstock, attached the smaller piece to the center of the larger piece with a little bit of adhesive, and then stamped our flowers over both pieces. Next, we carefully separated the smaller piece of cardstock from the larger one, painted our flowers, and popped the piece up on Bashful cardstock with 3-D foam tape. To add even more dimension, we also stamped some of the blossoms on scrap paper, painted them, trimmed them out, and then attached them over the matching blossoms with 3-D foam tape.
What do you think of the Split Stamping technique? Tell us in the comments below! And be sure to follow the blog all month long to see even more stamping techniques! 🙂
September is National Stamping Month, and we’ve designed an incredible card kit with elegant, layered stamping to celebrate!
It’s called the From the Heart card kit, and if you love stamping, you’ll love all the ways you can play with the interchangeable stamp designs to achieve a variety of looks for your cards.
If the thought of creating cards like these feels a bit daunting, don’t worry! The kit comes with helpful instructions to walk you through the assembly—just take a look!
Here are the pieces you get in your kit. You get enough to create 12 cards, plus the beautiful From the Heart stamp set and 12 envelopes. Once you punch out these pieces, follow the instructions below to create your cards.
All the folds come pre-scored, so all you have to do is fold along the score lines. Starting with your card base (A), turn the gold foil side down and sharply fold the two outside flaps inward. Add adhesive to the top of these flaps.
Fold your card base in half along the score line, attaching the front of the card base to the top of the flaps. This will form a pocket.
Starting with the detached end of the large flap, make sharp folds along the score lines, accordion style, as shown.
Add adhesive to the bottom of first fold (the white side).
Insert the pull insert (B) into the pocket in your card base (A), keeping B centered. Attach that first fold from step 5 to the edge of the pull insert, keeping the edges flush. Now when you pull on the insert piece in and out, the large flap should pop up and down!
Slide your card closed and then add adhesive to top of first fold (over gold foil).
Attach supporting piece (D) to the top of first fold. This supporting piece is a little bit larger than the area where you added the adhesive, so keep the top edge flush with the crease and center it on the flap. When it’s in place, the edges of the supporting piece should overlap the gold foil around the edges of your card.
Stamp your choice of sentiment and flowers onto your card front (C). When stamping the layers of your flowers, add extra depth by using different colors for each layer.
Stamp leaves and twigs in between flowers. Again, add depth by stamping all of the layers in different colors. This stamp set allows you to get incredible detail in your stamp images for a beautiful finished card.
Set aside your card front and go back to the base for a moment. Slide your card open, and then stamp your choice of inside sentiment onto the card base. The From the Heart stamp set includes four large sentiments designed especially to fit this space.
Once your stamping is dry, slide the card closed and add adhesive to second fold of large flap. This is the section right next to the supporting strip (D) that you attached, and it is where you will attach your card front.
Attach your card front (C) to the second fold, lining up the edges with the supporting strip (D).
Make your own beautiful, interactive cards using this card kit, available only during September! If you have any questions about how to assemble these cards or about the card kit itself, tell us in the comments below!
Today’s post is an extra special treat! We’ve asked the talented Chari Pack, founder & CEO of Persnickety Prints, to share with you some tips for taking better photos on your phone. Whether you’re promoting your Close To My Heart business, taking photos for your scrapbooking, or just posting to social media, these tips are sure to take your phone photography to the next level!
The way you present yourself, your artwork, and the products you offer has a huge impact on your business. Online sales will increase with improved product images.
Here’s how to get the best shot every time…
1. Natural Light (no flash)
When shooting with flash, the subject can be blown out and shadows disappear. With product shots, a soft shadow adds depth. Keep your flash off and set products under a window using natural light.
2. Focus (tap screen)
On iPhones (and some Androids), tap the screen to focus on the subject. With the new iPhone 7S, use the portrait mode to blur out the background. With a short focal length, you’ll get that fancy dSLR camera result without the fancy camera.
3. Hold Steady & Level
“Camera shake” can cause your photo to be blurry. Use steady hands or prop up your phone and use the self-timer for best results.
4. Staging (simple & clean)
Invest in a white poster board—it’s the perfect solution for a DIY backdrop! Wrapping paper or other fun colors can be added for dimension. Be sure your CTMH projects, cards, and layouts stand out. “Busy” photos tend to get lost in the crowd.
5. Get up close and personal!
Don’t be afraid to get up close to show details of the project. Shoot from different angles to focus on specific elements.
6. Pay attention to shadows
Be sure the shadow of your hand or camera is not in the frame. When shooting scrapbooking layouts, take the pages or photos out of the Memory Protectors™ and set the pages or photos on top. Your reader won’t notice they’re not inside, but they’ll notice the plastic glare when they are.
7. Use negative space to add text
Use the rule of thirds and push the subject to one side, leaving empty space to add a text overlay. We love using Rhonna Designs (iPhone and Android) and Adobe Post (iPhone and Desktop) to add text or a message to your photos.
8. Scale size with objects or pretty hands
Use objects to show the actual size of your product so the viewer isn’t misled. Well manicured hands holding a product works, too!
9. Keep your phone/camera level
When shooting from above your product, be sure your camera is flat and level. Use the Snapseed App (free on iTunes and Android) to adjust horizons if needed.
10. Take 1 minute to Edit & Enhance before sharing
Even a quick click of the enhance button in your native camera will give your photo just enough pop! We love Snapseed (free on iTunes and Android) for enhancements.
The Rhonna Designs App is not only great for text overlays: We also use it to journal and design prints for our scrapbooks!
We can’t wait to see you put these tools into action! Additional photo tips and tricks can be found on the Persnickety Prints blog.
Thanks, Chari, for the great tips! Let’s show her some love in the comments, folks!
When it comes to scrapbooking, one of the biggest hold-ups for people is feeling overwhelmed with organizing their photos. If you have years of photos piled up on your computer or photos spread between multiple devices, it can be easy to put off preserving your memories. The longer you wait to organize your photos, the more overwhelming it will become—so now is the time to start!
Because we believe in the importance of memory keeping, we want to help make the task easier, so today we’re going to walk you step-by-step through how to efficiently organize your digital photos for scrapbooking. It’s a process that may take some time, but which will be well worth it when your memories are all in order!
Step One: Consolidate Your Digital Photos
Upload all of your digital photos to one location on your computer. We recommend using a photo managing system, like Google Photos or iPhotos, to easily transfer photos from your phone onto your computer. If you haven’t transferred them already, go through the photos on your phone, your camera, and upload them all to this one location.
Step Two: Eliminate Unwanted Photos
Once you have all of your photos in one place, go through and eliminate any that aren’t worth keeping: repeats, photos with a blurry finger covering half the lens, photos of your to-do lists, etc.
Tip: Moving forward, make it a habit to do a Daily Delete—every day, go through the photos on your phone (or camera if you took pictures on it that day) and delete any of these types of photos. It will take you two seconds and save you tons of time down the road. You’ll be able to skip step two entirely in the future!
Another tip: Use the time traveling home from a vacation to do your deleting. That way when you get home, you’ll have already eliminated all the photos from your trip you don’t want to keep. Plus, it’s a fun way to relive those memories again while you’re heading home.
Step Three: Organize Your Digital Photos
In your photo managing system, create folders for each month and year. Then place the corresponding photos in these folders.
Step Four: Back Up Your Digital Photos
Back up all the photos in your photo managing system onto an external hard drive and/or a safe permanent online cloud service.
Step Five: Create To-Print Folders
Once you have organized your photos in your photo managing system, you’re ready to start thinking about scrapbooking them—woohoo! Even though all the photos you have left are photos you have deemed worth keeping, you may not want to scrapbook all of them. A great way to figure out which photos you want to scrapbook is to copy and paste a given folder onto your desktop. Then go through and delete any photos you don’t want to print. You can also edit any of the photos you’re going to print if you want to take that extra step.
Step Six: Upload & Print Photos
Once you’ve gone through all the photos on your desktop folder, you’re ready to print! We recommend creating a table, like the one below, to track each folder’s progress. When you have printed your photos, you can delete the desktop folder you created (remember, you’ve already saved these photos elsewhere!).
Tip: Choose one day every month to do a print run. Some months you may be able to afford printing more photos than other months, but get in the habit of printing your photos on the same day each month.
You can organize your photos by date, person, event…whatever you want! Think about the album you want to create with the photos, and organize them that way.
Option 2: Create a work-in-progress album. Use one of our D-ring albums and divided Memory Protectors™ to separate out all the photos you’ll want for an album. You can group like photos together so you know how to plan your layouts.
And that’s it! The next step is to start scrapbooking away! If the idea of scrapbooking itself overwhelms you, a great place to start is with our scrapbooking kits. You can also talk to your Close To My Heart Maker (or find one online!) to help you know where to start.
We hope this post helped you feel empowered to start organizing your photos for scrapbooking. We know that when you take that leap of faith, you’ll find so much joy and satisfaction in preserving your family’s memories and stories.
Have additional tips for organizing and printing your photos for scrapbooking? Share them in the comments below!
If you’re a stamper, then chances are you are no stranger to the wonders of inky fingers! But no matter how much exposure you’ve had, there are probably some things about working with ink that may still be a mystery to you. Today’s topic is Inks 101, and by the time you’ve read this post, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an ink expert!
1. Not sure which type of ink you should use for a project? Click on this handy infographic to figure it out!
2. Just like our cardstock, we offer dye and pigment stamp pads in all of our exclusive colors…meaning you’ll always have ink to match your cardstock! Easy color coordination is the name of our game. 🙂
3. Our Exclusive Inks™ stamp pads have one of the largest surface areas on the market. Plus, they’re super easy to open, thanks to the magnetic case design!
4. We designed our stamp pads so that the pad is on the lid of the case. This way while your stamp pad is sitting around waiting to be used, the ink is settling on the surface of the pad so you’ll always be able to get a crisp stamped image.
5. Is your stamp pad getting dry? That happens with a lot of use over time. But the good news is that instead of buying a new one, you can buy the coordinating re-inker and use it to replenish your pad. To re-ink a stamp pad, gently squeeze the re-inker evenly over the surface of your stamp pad while moving in a zig-zag pattern, top to bottom. Repeat until your stamp pad is properly saturated again (you won’t even need to use the whole bottle!). Just be sure to give your ink some time to soak in before using the stamp pad.
6. Is your stamped image darker than you thought it would be? Don’t worry, that’s normal! Dye inks need a little bit of time to cure, which means that they need to fully dry before they turn the right color. This shouldn’t take too long, but a craft heater can certainly help speed up the process.
7. When using our mini pigment ink stamp pads, dab the stamp pad lightly onto the stamp rather than trying to press the stamp onto the stamp pad.
8. Pigment ink sits on the surface of your paper, which is why the colors are more vivid than dye inks. However, this means pigment ink takes longer to dry. Give images stamped with pigment ink time to air dry, or use a craft heater to dry them right away.
9. If you’ve got the painting bug, then you’re going to love painting with our inks! Start by squishing the lid of your closed stamp pad all over. This will transfer some ink from the pad onto the other side of the case where you can pick up the ink using a slightly damp waterbrush or paintbrush, and then paint away!
10. If you want to create a splattered paint pattern on your artwork, then our spray pen is your friend! Simply fill your spray pen with some water and add a bit of ink from a re-inker bottle, shake, and then spritz onto your artwork. Raise the spray pen higher for a subtler splatter and closer to the paper for a more concentrated splatter. If you want the ink to dry faster, try using rubbing alcohol instead of water.
12. In addition to our Exclusive Inks™ stamp pads, we also offer the VersaMark™ ink pad. Use this ink pad to create watermark images, or add embossing powder over the stamped image, shake off the excess, and heat set for an entirely different look!
Gallery walls are a great way to infuse a space with colors and patterns. Not only are they a more affordable way to decorate large walls, but they give us the opportunity to showcase multiple pieces of art in one place and to express who we are and what we love!
If you’ve never created a gallery wall before or if you’re looking for ways to update your current gallery walls, here are some tips to help you create a meaningful, cohesive gallery:
Decide if you want your gallery to be just pictures and photos or if you want to include dimensional pieces, like wooden shapes, wreaths, etc.
Choose a favorite photo or piece of artwork as your starting piece, and then add to your wall by finding pieces that coordinate with your first item.
Another way to start is to choose one main color to anchor all the pieces in your gallery, and then create a color scheme around this main color.
Rather than searching for the perfect picture frames to coordinate with your artwork, try adding paper to plain picture frames. It’s an easy way to make everything match!
Hang your picture frames both horizontally and vertically for variety.
Add personal touches to your gallery, like a monogram, scrapbook page, or favorite family quote.
Use a variety of shapes and dimensions, as well as picture frame sizes, to create a well-balanced look.
Lay out your gallery on the floor before hanging it on the wall. You’ll easily be able to move around pieces until you get the look you want, and then you can take a photo to reference when hanging the gallery up on the wall. Want to be even more precise? Trace the pieces of your gallery on scrap paper, cut them out, and hang them on the wall to see how they look before attaching the actual pieces.
And maybe most of all, make sure you have fun! Gallery walls are a great way to get in touch with your creative side. Now go get crafty! 🙂
Like the world of fashion, trends in papercrafting are always changing. One day it’s all about brads and buttons and the next it’s all about sparkles and shimmer!
Just because an artistic technique or aesthetic may no longer be “on trend” doesn’t mean that you can’t still use it. You just need to freshen it up!
To show you what we mean, we dug through our archives to find artwork created with some old-school techniques. We then asked our artists to create new artwork using these same techniques…with a modern-day spin!
They’ve come up with some amazing alterations to these techniques that will make your artwork amazing!
Distressing the edges of your titles with ink. Remember when we did this for everything? Distress all the things! 🙂
Instead of distressing your titles, try stamping them using the rock n’ roll technique. It keeps your edges clean, which is the new trend, but just like distressing, it gives your titles dimension and color variation.
Ripping and inking your edges, aka, making your artwork look like it’s 100 years old. And remember how burned edges were such a thing? Ripping and inking your edges with black ink mimicked that trend, which you can see on the card below.
Instead of inking your ripped edges, try leaving your ripped edges un-inked and inking your clean edges instead, using a color other than black or brown! The key is subtlety! You can see we added some faint pink inking to the edges of the pink paper here. It helps to add some depth to the paper without screaming “I’m distressed!”
Stippled titles. Remember this one? You’d spell out your title with stickers, make a million little dots over the stickers with a marker, and then peel off your stickers to reveal your finished title.
Watercolored titles. Instead of stippling over your stickers with a marker, paint over them with a wide paintbrush and some watercolor paint. We used this technique with a “hello” sticker from our Springtime Complements to create the title below.
Pretty neat, right?
Just because papercrafting trends change doesn’t mean you need to throw out your bag of tricks. All you need to do is find a way to make your old tricks feel new again!
Which spin is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below!
If we’re going to talk about mixing and matching papers, we have to start by talking about our Fundamentals! In a nutshell, each of our color palettes has coordinating Fundamental papers, and these papers feature a variety of single-color paper designs. You can think of them the same way you think of cardstock: You have single-color patterns in each of our exclusive colors that you can use any time you are working with a given color.
We’ve created the Fundamentals so that they can be used as both stand-alone paper packets and be mixed in with themed paper packets, like those in our seasonal idea books. If the thought of trying to mix your Fundamentals with a different paper packet makes you nervous, we’re here to walk you through it, step by step!
Step One: Find the themed paper packet you want to work with. Let’s start with Little Dreamer as an example.Step Two: Look up the featured colors in this paper packet. They’re listed in a few places: on the zip strip at the very top of your papers, in the idea book, and on our website when you’re viewing the paper packet in online shopping.
Step Three: Choose which color you want to add more of to your artwork. Then it’s as simple as finding that specific color in the Fundamental paper packets, and using that paper in your artwork!
Not sure which colors are in each Fundamental paper packet? No problem! They are listed in your idea book and online, just like you can see with the Little Dreamer paper packet above!
For example, let’s say you’re working with Little Dreamer. You see that Thistle is one of the featured colors, and you would like to add more of it to your artwork.
Thistle is part of the Whimsy color palette, so you can pull out your Whimsy Fundamental paper packet, find the Thistle designs, and add them to the other papers you’re going to be using.
Can you spot the Thistle Fundamental paper on this layout?
How about now? 🙂
It matches perfectly, right? There’s also Lagoon Fundamental paper here.
Here are some other examples where we’ve mixed Fundamental papers with themed papers:
No Worries paper packet + Rustic Home Fundamentals neutral chevron paper and linen paper + Adventure Fundamentals Lagoon paper
Prickly Pear paper packet + Whimsy Fundamentals Sorbet paper + Enchantment Fundamentals Sapphire paper
Jack paper packet + Rustic Home Fundamentals neutral linen paper and wood paper+ Uptown Fundamentals black plus-sign paper + Enchantment Fundamentals Ruby paper
Now you certainly don’t have to follow these steps to mix and match papers. You can always just grab patterns and colors that look good together (our artists do it all the time!). But if you haven’t tried going free-style before, or if just the thought of it is enough to scare you, following these steps is a good place to start.