Ribbons..... they make such a difference to the finished look of a card or other project. Although they are often used as a finishing touch they can be used in many different ways.

Here is a "before and after" and you can see the difference a strip of ribbon makes to this simple greeting card.
 Difference with ribbon



There are many different types of ribbon but here are the ones most often used in card making:

  1. Satin - a crafters favourite. Satin ribbon is opaque, can be plain or patterned, comes in lots of colours and widths and has a beautiful sheen on either one side or both. It is flexible enough for making lovely bows and ribbon roses and being opaque is very useful for hiding the occasional oops :)
  2. Organza - A sheer see-through ribbon, sometimes satin edged, can be plain or patterned and comes in lots of colours and widths. It can be used in many of the same ways as satin ribbon and making flowers from it is very easy as it is slightly stiffened and holds it's shape well.
  3. Grosgrain - a ribbed ribbon, plain or patterned that has a certain amount of elasticity. I think these are particularly cheerful, fun ribbons.
  4. Tulle - soft net used in veils and so on.

The most common use for ribbon in card-making is for bows - did I hear you say you can't tie bows? There are many different ways to hand tie bows just find a method that you prefer and practise. Here is one quick and easy method: 
How to tie a bow 1
  1. Make a loop, hold between the finger and thumb of your left hand, with the tail to the front.
  2. Wrap the other end clockwise around the loop to form a band.
  3. Make a second loop with the ribbon in your right hand and push it through the band.
  4. Begin to pull the loops to tighten. Adjust the size of the loops etc by alternatively pulling the tails then the loops.

If the ribbon is patterned on one side, fold the ribbon over when you take it around the first loop at stage 2.
Bow2

If you still don't like your bows or you have a lot to make then investing in a bow maker is probably a worthwhile spend as it helps to make bow making easy and quick.

Ribbon can be secured with double sided tape, of which I prefer redline tape which is very strong, glue, make sure it dries clear, glue dots or decoratively with brads, eyelets or pins. Large bows may need a bit more help to stay in place for which silicone glue is a particular favourite of mine or you can use a hot glue gun (with hot glue) on satins and grosgrain but check before using it with organza or tulle.

Apart from making bows ribbons can be woven, twisted, plaited, folded, pleated and twirled. They can be an embellishment or something practical such as the stop on an easel card or they can be the design of the card itself.

Here are a few examples: 
Examples

There are many, many ways to use ribbon to add interest to projects. Have fun exploring the possibilities.
Since my last blog, I have been reminded about using diffusers to emboss just selected parts of a card. If you haven't tried this, here's what it is and how it works. 
Embossing folders are perfect for adding texture and interest to your card, but you may not want the whole card embossed. A diffuser is a piece of plastic or thick card that concentrates the die machine's roller pressure onto just part of the embossing folder. Place a diffuser on top of part of the embossing folder and the folder will only emboss the area covered by the diffuser. There are plastic diffusers on the market but it's easy to make your own from thick card, the kind that you get on the back of note pads. 
 Using a Diffuser 1
To get a single stripe of embossing, I placed my cardstock in the folder and secured a piece of card to the top of the folder where I wanted the embossing. I adjusted the depth of the plate stack for my die cutting machine and ran it through without the bottom plate.  As you can see, only the area covered by the diffuser has been embossed.
 
Using a Diffuser 2

Then I cut a piece of thick card so that the middle diamond would be plain, then used the square I cut out to emboss just the middle of the card. I then placed some offcuts diagonally, to create stripes. 
This card it too thick to die cut so if you wanted a particular shape, you can die cut several layers and glue them together to get the thickness you need. You will need to experiment with your own machine to find the combination of base plates that works for you.
 
diffuser3
Here is a card made with the diffuser technque and Sleek Designs reindeer scene stamp, part of the Impression Obsession die Merry Tree and Distress Inks to colour the area that was embossed with the diffuser. 
 

The clocks have gone back and the weather forecasters are already talking of snow, guess summer's over but we had a bit of fun this half-term week, carving pumpkin Jack O' Lanterns and creating a Halloween canvas. Here are our efforts ...

pumpkins

New this week, we have Izink dye-based ink pads. The inkpads are water- based and clean easily off of stamps and embossing folders etc. They are a handy size, and a very handy price! 

They are water based and acid free so perfect for scrapbooking, stamping, mixed media and journaling and many other crafts.

They can be activated with water so you can easily achieve beautiful watercolour effects, paint with a water brush, smoosh, finger paint, spray, blend and spritz, let your imagination guide you :)

You may have seen our selection of John Next Door cut and emboss folders. We are used to cutting dies which will also emboss but these are embossing folders that incorporate a cutting die. One of the challenges with embossing folders is cutting an apperture into your beautifully embossed cardstock. If you emboss and then diecut, the embossing gets flattened down. If you diecut and then emboss, the edge around the diecut tends to be ragged. These cut and emboss folders are designed to give you a perfect finish with appertures beautifully integrated into the embossed design.

Lastly, our sale started on Monday. 

pre orderSometimes the companies we source products from have new products coming that we can pre-order like the Sue Wilson dies and stamps we had before release last week. We have added a pre-order section to the website so that you can see what we will be getting in and when we expect it to arrive. 

If you want to ensure delivery of the item as soon as it is available you can of course pre-order from the site and as soon as the stock arrives we will dispatch it to you. However, that does mean you will be paying for the item before we actually have it in stock and sometimes there are delays in the manufacturer getting them to us.

If you choose to do this then we will notify you if there are any changes in the expected delivery date or a change in the price you paid and give you the option to continue with the order or cancel it. 

We hope you like this idea.

We’ve been busy this week. We had a stamping workshop last Monday and had lots of fun creating cards with the new stamps from Woodware using embossing powders, Luna Paste, Colour Cloud Blending Ink, Mist Sprays and Crackle Paste.

It was a delight using the Crackle Paste and easy to use so, of course, I got some more in, with wonderful names to match their beautiful subtle shades like Frosted Aqua and Victorian Rose.

 

 

 

 

floral mandala

But the big news is, the latest shipment of dies we received direct from the manufacturers has arrived. 18 designs in all, lots of choices especially for the Festive Season, including three snowman designs. I don’t think you can have too many snowmen.

However, if you are someone who has all your Christmas crafting already done then we have others that would be perfect for any time of the year such as Star BackgroundLattice Frame & Butterflies, a delicate Floral Mandala and a Maple Leaf Frame.

In the card to the right the lattice above and below the Decoupaged Bird (Dolly Dimples - Mix It Up Fabulous 5) is the Floral Mandala die and the leaves come from the Maple Leaf Frame

 

 

 

Lastly, we have restocked the EZMount for the unmounted rubber stamps and we have the Crafter Companion ScoreMaster Board. The Scoremaster Board is large enough for A4 card and the score lines are just 1/8th inch apart on one side of the board or 5mm on the other for those who prefer metric.

Happy Crafting

Sharon

One of the nice things about having a shop that sells things I really like (that's craft stuff, not shoes) is that I get to work with and learn how to get the best from wonderful products. Then, when I am teaching workshops, I get the opportunity to share all the things I have learnt about them with others who share the same enthusiasm for crafting. It's still a job and there are lots of things that I wish I didn't have to do but I think that I am lucky to have a job that mostly I enjoy.

Anyway, on to the super new products we have had in this week that I had fun working with.

For all fans of die-cutting, like me, we have some beautiful dies in from the Creative Expressions Festive Frame collection and although they are called Festive, some of them could be used all through the year. We have the gorgeous paper cuts dies, Foliage Frame, Poinsettia Edger and Holly Berry Edger that add wonderful dimension to any card, whether elaborate or super simple. We also have stunning Frame dies, Natalie, Faith, Eve, the very cute Overlay and Ornament and the ever useful Season's Greetings.

As a stamping enthusiast, the delivery I was particularly excited about was the stencils and stamps designed by Francoise Read and inspired by the art of India. 

You will see that we have added to our range of colouring products with ...deep breath...Cosmic Shimmer Crackle Paste, Embossing Powders, Luna Paste, Colour Cloud Blending Ink and Mist Sprays, all in gorgeous colours too.

If you enjoy creating textures and layers and exploring different techniques and effects you will love these. The possibilities with these dies, stamps and texture and colouring mediums are endless and you can create different and unique looks each time.

Until next week, happy crafting

Sharon

It's now two months since we moved from our shop in Swanley - time flies. We are still fine tuning things on the website, however, the workshops are up and running in Gravesend and people seem to be finding them very enjoyable.  All the information regarding workshops for the next couple of months are available to see by either the Craft Workshops link in the main menu or the month picture located on the right hand side of the Home page. So if you are interested in having a good time, learning something new, creating something beautiful and maybe meeting new like minded people then why not take a look and see if there is something that piques your interest.

limited offer sale

 

I am really pleased to say that  we are now coming to another milestone in our website venture which is our first website sale!

Our aim is to have a sale posted on the last Monday of every month that will have completely different items to the previous month. They will only be available that week and/or while stock lasts so look out on Monday 24th for the Sale link in the Main Menu on the front page of the website. I hope you like this idea and that you will get a chance to grab some of these bargains.

 

 

 

A TIP FOR DIE-CUTTING:

We have noticed that out of all the crafting items available these days, that dies still seem to be one of the most popular. They get used in many different craft projects from cards, mixed media, scrapbooking, 3d projects even to decoupage on furniture.  They truly are an extremely versatile medium, however, as much as we love them it appears that very many of us have the same pet peeve.

What, I here you ask, is that?  It is that when it comes to getting our die cuts out of some exquisitely detailed dies we can have a problem getting them out in one piece or even getting them out at all. Obviously this is extremely frustrating but even more so when we have used the last piece of a particular card or paper that we wanted to use! The answer we found that worked best for us is not to just throw the die out of the window in a fit of rage but to use Wax Paper with the die.

Now before you all run off and dig out the greaseproof paper from the bottom of the darkest depths of the baking cupboard in your kitchen, I am afraid I have to let you know that it is not the same thing and will not work the way the waxed paper does. Here is the science - greaseproof, baking and baking parchment papers are all heat-resistant, non-stick surfaces specially developed for baking on. Please note in particular that they are heat-resistant and therefore won’t catch fire in your oven! Waxed paper, on the other hand, is exactly what is says in the name, it is coated on both sides with wax, probably not the nicest addition to your beautiful pavlova or scones.

However, when using with a die and paper/card both the die and the paper/card are slightly affected by the wax coating which makes the die cut easy to remove from the die, which is all that we really want in the first place! I know some people will say, oh but it’s just another expense but remember that you can usually leave the same piece of waxed paper in the die and use it a few times before it needs replacing. Most intricate dies are not as big as baking sheets and most importantly they relieve you from the stress, time and cost of having to do the die cut again.

The recipe for stress free intricate die -cuts;

Ingredients;

  1. Wax paper
  2. Die
  3. Card or Paper
  4. Die Cutting Machine

Method;

  1. Cut a piece of wax paper the size of your die
  2. Lay the waxed paper onto the cutting edge of your die (it doesn’t matter which way round because it is double sided)
  3. Lay your piece of card/paper on top of the wax paper
  4. Top with your cutting plate
  5. Run through your die cutting machine
  6. Sit back and remove the beautiful die cut from the die and enjoy making your project. 

I hope you will find this information useful and until next week,

 Happy Crafting,

Sharon

We've taken a little break from Christmas themes this week, because we still need birthday, thank you, congratulations and get well cards etc. Our new product this week is the beautiful range of floral stamps designed by Stacey Barrass for Crafters Companion. They have a lovely hand drawn quality with a lot of detail and lend themselves to so many techniques.

With different techniques and colours choices can give you very different looks of cards even when using the same stamp set increasing the usefulness. Male cards are often not made with floral images but there are many men that like gardening and flowers so why not give it a try. You can try a monochrome colour scheme, using Memento Gray Flannel or Rich Cocoa or Spectrum Noir Graphic pen set Cityscape with it's masculine colour sceme and very uselful neutrals or how about fully coloured images using Spectrum Noir Graphic pen set Tints and pair it with one of the sentiments such as 'You are amazing', 'Thank you', Thinking of you' or how about 'Live life your way', one of my favourites.

For a Christmas card, stamp with Versamark and heat emboss with Wow Gold Rich Pale superfine embossing powderr and colour with the deep, opulent colours of Christmas or you could go for a white, frosty theme by heat embossing with Wow Metallic Silver Sparkle or Pearlescent White Pearl superfine embossing powder and use pale blues just to provide a hint of colour. How could anyone resist! 

We have more of the Foam on a Rolll back in stock and also some A4 sheets of double sided foam.

In last weeks blog post we gave you some ideas about how to mount these stamps  and you may notice that we have run out of Ezmount, although more is comong in, however, in the meantime we do have Stix2 Mount n Stamp.

That's it for this week hope you find this useful,

regards Sharon.

It's official, this summer was the hottest on record and finished with a lovely Indian Summer this week. But being crafters, our thoughts are on the Christmas holiday season. 

 So we have added Sheena Douglass Festive Embossing Folders and unmounted rubber stamps designed by Donna Ratcliff. These rubber stamps are a departure from the traditional snowman and Santa. I think of them as showing how the elves and fairies celebrate Christmas and would be fun cards for both adults and children.

We also have both EZmount and Stix2 Mount n' Stamp foam in stock for attaching the stamps to acrylic blocks. If you haven't used unmounted rubber stamps before, here are a few tips which might be helpful.

The stamps come on a sheet and you cut the individual stamps out and attach them to a rigid surface. A wooden block, acrylic block or stamp press/positioner etc. 

You can use double sided tape, but make sure it's not too sticky or it could be difficult to remove from the block. Stick and Spray is a spray adhesive which can be used to hold stencils in place as well as rubber stamps. And finally, EZmount and Mount n' Stamp which have an adhesive side to stick to the back of the stamp and a clingy side that will hold temporarily to your block.

If you are using EZmount or Mount n' Stamp, then attach the mount foam before you cut out the stamps. Cut the sheet of mount to the right size, peel off the backing on the sticky side and fix the sheet of stamps to it. Now take a pair of sharp scissors with a good point and cut around each stamp. Hold the scissors at a right angle to the stamp so that the cuts don't slant into the stamp. Follow the shape of the stamp as close as you can without actually cutting into the stamp. This will reduce the risk of getting ink around the stamp and will help to position the stamp on your card.

Now peel off the other side of the mount. You might find it helpful to put a small mark or arrow on the back to show which way up the stamp image should be. Especially helpful with text.

One of the challenges with rubber stamps is positioning them as you can't see the image. This is where one of the stamp positioners such as Stampeazee is so helpful by using it the opposite way. Place the cardstock on your work surface and place the acrylic plate of the positioner over it, top side down. Now arrange the stamps on the acrylic plate so that the image is facing you.  Reposition the cardstock, ink the stamps and stamp.  

So, happy stamping.

We now have the wonderful Spectrum Noir Graphic pens in stock and at a brilliant price! £19.99 for packs of 12 pens (rrp £24.99) and £10.99 for packs of 6 pens (rrp £12.99).

 /Crafters-Companion-Graphic-Markers

These alcohol pens blend and layer beautifully. I love colouring and these  pens provide a range of colours that make it so easy, and fun, to add shading and tone.

 

Last week we had a stock of Foam on a Roll from Crafters Companion, and it proved very popular. Which got me thinking about the different options for double-sided foam and why the foam on the roll sold so quickly (we will be getting more in!)

Foam pads come in different thicknesses as well as different sized pads, we have Payper Box in 1mm and 2mm thicknesses and Crafters Companion in 3mm thickness

1mm is nice when you don't want too much height, such as decoupage where each layer sits just above the one below to give a 3D effect.

2mm thickness is a good general purpose pad that works well for mounting a topper or sentiment panel.

Then there is the chunkier 3mm pads which we have in larger 12mm x 6mm and 24mm x 12mm. These are perfect for when you want to make more of a statement, perhaps for a frame.

The Foam on a Roll has a thickness of 2mm, width 10mm and a length of 2m, giving a lot of tape for the price. It can be cut into smallish pieces (but don't use your best scissors for that) or it can be left as longer strips giving more support.  Perhaps it's the flexibility which makes it appealing.

However, if you are looking for flexibility, then we shouldn't forget silicone gel. Ideal for decoupage and fine detailed die-cuts, for giving a bit of support to the raised wings of butterflies or the petals of flowers and great for securing buttons and bows!

 

Hope you found that interesting, be back soon.

Sharon

Well the heatwave finally ended and just in time for our first workshop in our new venue. It certainly makes it a lot easier to work without electric fans blowing paper about!

Parchment Craft workshop with Lynn

 

Lynn's Parchment workshop went very well and I'm delighted to say that we got a thumbs up from everyone. Although the space is smaller than we had in the shop, there is plenty of natural light which is so good for crafting and makes it a lot easier on the eyes.

As we are talking about Parchment Craft I am pleased to say the we have some lovely Christmas themed Groovi Boards just in and Darwi Ink -  in gold, of course.

 

 

 

 

 We also have something for die-cutting fans. We have sourced some lovely dies direct from the manufacturers that we found to be good quality and they are a good price, we hope you will like them too.

That's all for now, I'll be back in blogland soon.

Sharon

We had a few hiccups when the website when live on Friday. Apparently that is quite normal and who am I to argue with the ‘experts’.  Everything seems to be ok and we are still adding to it so please keep checking both the Inspiration and this Blog page.

 

Anyway, I am very pleased with the feedback that I have been getting that people like the overall look of the site and are finding it easy to navigate.

 

Lynn Parchment August

 

 

I am looking forward to our first workshop on Thursday 16th which is parchment crafting with Lynn. The workshop runs from 10am - 4pm with 1 hour for lunch, which we supply.

 

You can see all our upcoming lessons by clicking on the pictures on the side of the home page or on Workshop Booking in the Crafting Workshops menu.

 

That’s all for now, be back soon.

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