Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cleaning and Organizing Your Stamps

I know this sounds like a boring post but it will help you get better images, extend the life of your stamps, saving you time and money, so you spend more time scrapbooking and use those extra $$$ for more product.

Seasoning stamps:

Did you know all stamps, acrylic or rubber, need to be seasoned before you use them? What's seasoning you ask? All stamps come with a manufacturing film. It needs to be removed so ink can soak into the stamp, creating a more even image. This is particularly true of solid stamps. Those suckers need more seasoning then the others.

I will tell you 3 ways to season. Start with the first and work your way down until you get the result you want.

Technique 1: Repeatedly ink up stamp (usually with neutral colored ink) onto scrap paper. Be sure to have the foamy piece that comes with your stamp set under the scrap paper. More on that foamy piece later.

Technique 2: (My favorite) Wet the fuzzier side of your Double Scrubber and scrub, scrub, SCRUB. Ever once and a while test it with the method above to see if you need to scrub more.

Technique 3: I only use this method for those stubborn spots that just are not working the other two ways. Caution! This makes a mess of your work space. Using a good quality white eraser (pink for rubber) rub those stubborn spots away. And then you guessed it, scrub, scrub some more with the Double Scrubber. I suggest cleaning out your scrubber after the eraser method. How do you clean out your scrubber? Glad you asked. I remove the fuzzy side and put it all in the dishwasher! How easy is that!

Cleaning Stamps

Dye ink: Most of Close To My Heart's ink is dye (meaning water based). What's great about this is, they dry quickly when stamped and are easy to clean. I use plain old tap water in a hairspray sample bottle I found in the travel minis section of most stores. I cleaned it out VERY well and spray that on my Double Scrubber. Before I got my scrubber, I used a wet chamois (because it is lint free) on an old plate.

Pigment Ink and Embossing Ink: Close To My Heart has 3 stamp pads available in pigment ink~White Daisy, Colonial White, and Vanilla Cream. What's great about pigment ink is it is wetter than dye ink so it holds embossing powder and light colors show up on dark cardstock~even black! The problem with pigment ink is it likes to stain your stamps opaque. I do not suggest using dark pigment inks with clear stamps. I have seen some stained so badly they weren't clear anymore! (Dye inks will sometimes discolor your stamps but are still see through) I DO NOT use my Double Scrubber for pigment ink! Instead I use an old toothbrush under warm running water. I place a cloth over the drain or for really small stamps a strainer. After using the toothbrush, I spray with our Spritz cleaner and than Double Scrub. I use the same method with embossing ink. It likes to get everything sticky.

Staz-On: Staz-On has it's own cleaner that is a must if you use it. DO NOT get Staz-On cleaner on your block. Over time it will get a haze or small hairline cracks in it, making it harder to see through the block. Instead remove the stamp from the block and clean that way OR I have an old block that I use for Staz-On. That way I'm not upset if it cracks or gets any ink on it. Staz-On stays on blocks too!

Blocks, Carrier Sheets, and Occasionally Stamp Cleaning:
Once and awhile your supplies need a little more TLC. If your stamps won't stick to the carrier sheet or blocks, do this: Get out that strainer again and give everything a nice wash in warm water, NO soap. Let them dry on the counter and then return to carrier sheet when dry. They will be sticky once again.

Random Fact: Your images will come out crisper and cleaner if you put the foamy sheet under your work.

Organizing Your Stamps:One of the great thing about Acrylic stamps is they don't take up a lot less space. Above is our stamp organizer. They can be stacked and now come with a handle.

Did you know that the paper inserts that come with your stamps are color coded? This is how I organize my stamps. By color first, then letter (A,B,C,D, or E. This indicates size), then number. I also cut up a picture from an extra catalog and slip it in the front so I can see what's in it from both sides. You don't have to be this organized, I'm just a little anal about some things. Now I will tell you what the colors mean.

Spring~Lt. Yellow

Summer~Sunflower (orangey-yellow)

Fall~Garden Green (med. green)

Winter~Desert Sand

Alphas~Indian Corn Blue

Sentiments~Baby Pink


Borders, Tags, and Accents~Lilac Mist (lt. purpley blue)

Everyday Life~New England Ivy (dk. green)

Animals, Outdoors, and Travel~Heavenly Blue (lt. blue)

I hope this answers most of your questions as these are the ones I get asked most often. I would love to hear your suggestions on what you want from this blog. Not sure what my next post will be about but please come back!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sunset Silhouette Card Tutorial

This is my first video tutorial! What an experience. I learned a few things like: I need to find a different place for my tripod, I need better lighting, and the whole video is a little too much to the right! Hopefully, it will look better next time. Please leave comments below. I would love to hear from you. Suggestions welcome.

I will be placing an order on Sept. 24.

Next post will be how to care, clean, and store your stamps.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Clear Acrylic Mini Album Tips

I love our new clear mini album! But I know some of you will be unfamiliar with this medium. So, I thought you would appreciate some tips.

The album measures 6.25 x 7. It comes with 4 thicker (think thin plexiglass) divider pages with half circle tab, one rounded page, one mini scallop, and 2 half pages. These are thinner like heavy template (mylar) material. Cost: $16.50 (Sidenote~ I realized after I started my project that I should have taken pictures of just the album. Oh, well. You can see it and all the other products mentioned here in our catalogue online at http://www.closetomyheart.com/)

Here is the front cover. Before I got to this point, I planned out each page and drew a sketch. This is more planning than I usually do. This is because you will see everything from the front page all the way to the last. To make it easier on myself, for consistency, and so I got a clear border (for a nice airy feel) all the way around, I cut all base pages 5 x 5. This also meant I could cut 1 inch off my 4 x 6 pic and they would fit! This also gives me a 1 inch border to journal in or embellish. (See photo below)

Now adhesive is very important as you can see from one side to the next. I strongly suggest vellum adhesive. I used small amounts in key areas and it is bearly noticeable. I also try to cover it with embellishments. In this case, the white corner stamp. This stamp is from my favorite new set from the new Fall/Winter catty: Adorning Corners. I stamped it with our White Daisy pigment ink. It takes a while to dry, so I poured white embossing powder on it. This worked great for the first part but about 3/4 through the image the heat started to warp the acrylic page! (Thus the smudge along the bottom) My suggestion is to use Staz-On ink with stamps instead. It comes in several colors Black (avail. through Close To My Heart), Brown, Green , Blue, Orange, Red, and even White at Craft/Scrapbook stores. The White doesn't perform well enough in my opinion. OR be very careful when embossing, do small sections for 3-4 sec. at a time.

With all my pages, I used a single sheet of paper. Our new paper packs now come with double sided patterned paper! This one is Notebook. I LOOOVE it! It's hard to see but on the second side the photo and rubons are floating above the paper that was glued to the front. Rubons work fantastic on this album. Close To My Heart has to sets with 3 sheets each. One each in White, Chocolate, and Black.

Unfortunately, my album is only half done. I will post more pics when I finish. Please feel free to post comments or questions.

Next week, I will post how to make a card using our September Stamp Of The Month.