Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Distress Bleaching Technique

Hey crafty friends, how's your week shaping up? We're all tickety boo here and I've been playing with some new stash, I was lucky enough to get the A4 Craftwork Cards Ultimate Florals with Sentiments stamp set in a recent Craft Stash sale for £4.38 instead of the usual £17.50 😁 They did a flash sale last week with up to 70% off most of the Craftwork Cards range, I picked up over £47 worth of Craftwork cards dies, stamps and an embossing folder for just £18, I love a crafty bargain. I couldn't believe my luck getting that huge stamp set with the flowers so cheaply, the stamps lend themselves to lots of techniques and I'll be playing with them a lot over the next few weeks.

As soon as I saw the stamps I knew I wanted to revisit some old techniques, I saw Jennifer McGuire do the bleaching technique with Distress Inks back in 2015 and I tried it at the time and was impressed, but I didn't do anything with the backgrounds I created. Now I know some of you will be concerned at the use of bleach, but the smell doesn't linger and you only use a small amount, I filled a water brush pen full and its still almost full after bleach painting 7 card fronts. You can use water, but the effect won't be the same, water will just lighten and whiten the area, there is some chemistry that happens when you add bleach to distress ink that alters their colours.

Before Bleaching
I've done a similar technique last year using Oxide Inks and water, the water lightens the image and then you can add another colour on top. I used distress inks on top of the oxide inks rather successfully. I did try bleach on oxide inks and the result wasn't brilliant, on oxide the bleach acted just like water does, not dramatic or even subtle changes of colour, just a white out, which is fine, but you may as well just use water on oxides right?

If you watch Jennifer's video on the technique linked to above you can see that she inks first, then stamps and embosses, but I wanted white images. First I cut my panels using some of my favourite wonky stitches dies and then I stamped the flowers from the set with Tonic Clear Hybrid Ink and added Clear WOW! Embossing Powder before heat setting the images. Once that was done I used a selection of Distress Inks to create some bright bands of colour, wiping off the ink that beaded up on the embossing with a microfibre cloth.

Now I've mentioned it, its a good time to say that I'm ditching baby wipes in favour of plain water and micro fibre cloths (or hand sanitiser for archival inks) and a Lawn Fawn Stamp Shammy, they do the same job, but instead of throwing the clothes away like I do with baby wipes, I can pop them in the wash and use them again. I do have a few packs of baby wipes left, but once they've gone I won't be buying any more.

After Bleaching
After I'd coloured all my images I went in with the bleach to lighten the inside of the petals and leaves and a few other details to lighten the change the colour on the images.

You can see here what the panels looked like before the bleach was added and afterwards. It really does make a difference, its subtle and not in your face which I like. 

When I'd finished with the images I put them aside whilst I worked on the card bases, I use the leafy vine stamp from another Craftwork Cards stamp set I got in the sale called 'Hedgerow'. I stamped using several different colour combinations of Hero Arts Ombre Inks, I love these inks because you can utilise them to make some pretty interesting backgrounds and images.


I went around the edge of the card blank wusing the stamp and my choice of ombre pad, leaving the centre blank, there was no point covering the whole area as the Stamped panel was going to get added over the top making work and using ink in areas that wouldn't be seen.

I knew I wanted to stamp the sentiment on vellum, I trued white initially, but it wasn't very distinct against the panels due to the white stems, so I switched to black embossing ink and used some of the sentiments from the Ultimate Floral's set.  Once all the backgrounds were completed it was time to assemble the cards, I didn't notice until after I'd put them together than the ink I'd used for the backgrounds had bled through to the inside of the card, I used some old Papermania Anita's A6 cards that are supposed to be 240gsm, the card is a little flimsy and rather porous, you pays your money and you takes your choice I guess. Once they are used up I won't be buying any more of them though as they really aren't that brilliant.

Once I'd attached the vellum and panels and "finished" the cards they bugged me, something was not right, I channelled my Grandad and went away and had a cup of tea (he taught me to do that when I had a problem and couldn't see the answer in life, and as crafting is an extension of my life, a cuppa was required!) When I came back I had the solution, I needed to pick up the black from the sentiment and echo it somehow! So I added some gloss black Nuvo Drops to the centres of the rectangle panels and some Peacock Feather Jewels from Lucy's Cards to the oval panel. Once the gems and drops were in place I was happy, although I went in with a Nuvo Aqua Shimmer pen to add a little subtle sparkle.

If you don't already have Distress Ink pads getting a good selection of colours can be a costly endeavour, Aladine's iZink Dye Based ink pads are a good low cost alternative, currently on Craft Stash they are £1.50 each compared to the price of distress inks at £4 - £6 depending where you buy them its a pretty big saving. Granted there are only 20 colours to chose from, but they work pretty well for the price. If you haven't encountered this brand of inks before, you may find this video useful.



And that's it really, a quick and simple way of creating a batch of colourful cards, I have some for anniversaries now and birthdays for my box and I'll be creating some more for get well cards and some thank you cards. I also want to stamp and heat emboss in gold on dark cardstock and use metallic paints/inks to create dark versions. I've been collecting lots of craft items over the past few years to try a large variety of techniques, and I reckon I've tried about a 10th of the projects I've bought stuff for!

So I'm going to dig out the supplies and try my hand at all of them and revisit some old techniques like foiling, acrylic backgrounds with the gelli-plate, masking fluid backgrounds and so much more. I realised this week that I have to stop telling myself I can't do it, or it won't look as good as people like Jennifer McGuire. Of course my cards won't look that good, I'm not a professional crafter! I have to stop 'saving' things I've bought to do things because I may mess up and waste the supplies! It's a waste to my purse to buy them and not use them lol! So I'm going to try more and do more and if it works that's great, if it doesn't then the trials can be deposited in the bin or recycled somehow 😉

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Nuvo Expanding Mousse vs Andy Skinner Lava Paste

I love creating things but for some unknown reason (maybe I was a chemist in another life?) I love to see how products work and I love comparing like with like to see if they give the same results or different, this comparison is all Jen Kray's fault, she asked how the two compare and I wasn't sure so I thought I'd do a test!

As both products were new to me I went in blind with no preconceptions of how the two products would perform, at the start of the comparison I didn't have a preference for either product, but I do now! Before I continue I want to say that my opinions are my own, nobody gave me the products to try or is paying me to try them, I bought them myself and I'm doing this to share with others who are Lava Curious lol! If anybody clicks on my affiliate links below I will get a little money from their purchase but this doesn't cost them anything.

So now I've done my public I'm an affiliate thing, lets start the comparison shall we? I started out taping a 6" x 6" square of black card stock to my glass media mat and dividing it in to two sections. I used a Tonic Nuvo Media Spatula to work with both products, the two products for comparison are Tonic Studios Nuvo Expanding Mouse in Worn Linen (62.5g, RRP £6.99) and Cosmic Shimmer Andy Skinner Lava Paste (50ml, RRP £4.99) both products available from Craft Stash via my affiliate links above.

Consistency wise Lava Paste (LP) is runnier than Expanding Mousse (EM), LP is similar to mayonnaise whilst  EM is more like buttercream, its stiffer to work with and to load on to your spatula.

I first applied the LP to the card and moved on to the EM. I don't know what the actual formulation of either of these products are, but I will hazard a guess that LP has more water in it than EM. By the time I'd finished applying the EM, the LP had soaked in to the card stock a little and I was worried I'd let it dry out too much so I thought I'd start heating the LP first.

Almost as soon as I started wafting the heat gun over the LP it started to react to the heat and 'puff' up there isn't a better term for it its like watching liquid popcorn create a pattern because that's the texture you end up with and its fun!

I've made a little video, this is only my second video so be gentle with me, I have a little way to go yet to get my videos right, the first was just still images with captions, so this one is an improvement and has some real time footage albeit speeded up. I now realise that being right handed the camera should have been on my left, and closer to the piece I was working on and I could do with better lighting and a microphone so I can do some chatting rather than having to caption. I'll get there eventually 😂 For illustration purposes you can see the results, sorry that my hand is in the way and you have to spend a lot of time looking at a large part of me 😊


I put the same depth of mousse/paste on the card using a stencil, it seemed only fair to test them using the same depth of product, I have to say I was amazed at the results. I truly expected them to both perform the same but they didn't!

The EM hardly did anything, you can see from the close up that just a few areas expanded above the initial level, now it could be that you're expected to add a thicker/rougher amount of Expanding Mousse for it to give a dramatic effect, but as I'd be using it with stencils most of the time I tested the products with the things I use them with. There was also a little 'bleeding' under the stencil with the EM, all the heat gun seemed to do on the EM was dry it off, it hardly reacted at all which was rather disappointing and I should add here that both the EM and LP were brand new unopened pots prior to this comparison. There was very little dimension and you could only just feel that there was a difference in texture from the card to the product applied.
Nuvo Expanding Mousse
By comparison the Lava Paste did an outstanding job at rising to the occasion, the same amount of product added as the EM rose to 3 times its height and had lovely popcorn bubble patterns all over, with no bleeding under the stencil, it was easier to apply as well. Once dried it has an absolutely gorgeous texture, its like the kind of patterning you get on blown vinyl wallpaper, you can press down on it (once dry) and the pattern springs back, its a lot more tactile as well, LP invites you to stroke it and play with it, EM left me with a Ughhh what's that reaction, its like running your hand over fluffy hard clouds vs running them over light sand paper, one is nice, the other not so unless you like running your hands over sandpaper lol!

Andy Skinner Lava Paste
If you look at this photo you can see a little more of the dimension of the two side by side, see how much more raised the Lava Paste is compared to the Expanding Mousse? You can also see more of the texture as well.
Expanding Mousse <---                                   -----> Lava Paste
The two swatches and products used.
Once both of the products were completely dry, I decided to add a few mediums to them to see how they would react, I started by masking off a third of the area and spraying it with water to which I sprinkled some Cherry Bomb Nuvo Shimmer Powder on to the surface and gave it another spray of water to move the powder around. The shimmer powder seemed to just sit on top of the dry expanding mousse. On the dry lava paste it sunk into areas, clung to others and allowed the texture to still show through.

Next I painted another third with some Iridescent Red Blue Pebeo Dyna acrylic paint, there was not much difference in how the products took the paint, but it looked less impressive to my mind on the flatter expanding mousse.

The final third of the test swatch I sprayed with Lava Red (how appropriate lol) Cosmic Shimmer Mist and once dry I rubbed a corner with some Empire Gold Pebeo Gilding Wax. You can see from the photo below that the gilding wax covered more of the EM and the card because there was very little texture to hold it above the card stock. By comparison the gilding wax on the Lava Paste gave a much better definition. I just quickly applied both with my finger tip, so wasn't massively accurate because it was just a test piece, I'd be more accurate on a project.

In this photo the Expanding Mousse is on the top of the picture and the Lava Paste at the bottom.

Because the Lava Paste has more texture it seemed to take the things I applied much better than the Expanding Mousse.

It's true to say that there are so many other things I could have tried, gelato's, distress crayons, and a variety of other paints and mediums, and each product may react differently, some things may work better on the Expanding Mouse rather than the Lava Paste and vice versa.

However, the products I've used here are ones I use in my projects (or variations of). One thing in Nuvo's favour is the Expanding Mousse comes in a variety of colours, Lava Paste is only available in the one colour. So me being me I thought I'd fiddle and see if it can be coloured and if it still works in the same way it did in its natural state before being coloured?


I took two blobs of Lava paste out on to my glass mat, and I added a wet medium (Chipped Sapphire Distress Reinker (yes I know I spelt it wrong on my test swatch lol), and a dry medium (Violet Brocade Nuvo Shimmer Powder). Now keep in mind that I didn't use a stencil just wiped on to a piece of card so the depth and coverage was a bit uneven. Both mediums mixed in well on the mat, I applied to the card stock and heat dried, the Lava Paste still did react, but adding the colours in my opinion has interfered with the way the Lava Paste works, so much so it rubbed off the cardstock. The white of the product wants to still fight through as well, giving a chalky washed out look, so I would add the paste neat and colour it afterwards, it gives a much better result.

So there you have it, Lava Paste comes out tops for me and as this is the first time I've played with Mr Skinner's products I can't wait to play some more. I should also add that when I washed the stencil off I used just warm water in the sink and rubbed my fingers on the stencil, all of the Lava Paste came off but some of the Expanding Mousse stayed behind. Sorry Tonic but in this instance you're not my favourite brand. Ease of use,  ease of cleaning and the dimension and texture make Lava Paste the winner hands down. Think I better stock up on the Lava Paste because I can see me going through a lot of it in the not too distance future.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Wreath Builder Templates: For the Boys


It occurred to me last week that all the card examples I've done so far to show the wreath templates have had a distinctively feminine feel about them. So this week I started creating some male themed cards with the templates, both of my  creations have a slightly robotic theme, perfect for the number one man in my life 😍

I used the the 5" x 5" template and just for a change I worked with black card stock, metallic inks and pens and threw in a little heat embossing.

The inks I used for both cards are the Delicata brand made by Tsukineko in 'Golden Glitz' and 'Silvery Shimmer', the second project I used the same inks plus their 'Celestial Copper' ink. If you haven't yet come across Delicata inks yet, I recommend you add some to your stash when you can, they come in 12 different colours and are some of the best metallic inks I've come across, that give some of the best results out of all the metallic inks I've tried and I've tried a good few brands believe me!

Delicata inks dry really quickly on porous surfaces and don't smear once dry like many other metallic inks. They are the latest generation of metallic inkpad's and give a superb, rich, bright metallic colour, the ink pads are water-based, acid-free and archival, and they are available as full sized ink pads and in cube inks, plus they also have re-inkers available, the re-inker bottles lend themselves to other techniques not just re-inking.

My second card was constructed from two large 7" squares  that I hand cut to be a hexagon, and the new 7" template. Once all the stamping was done I glued the 2 pieces together at the top to create a tent fold card. I made my own card blank from Limetree Craft​ 260gsm black cardstock, the best black card stock I've ever bought, I highly recommend Limetree for all their card, plus their Silky Smooth Ultra White 240gsm Card for alcohol markers is the BOMB!

The cog wreath was stamped in 3 different colours of Delicata metallic ink as mentioned above and I added 'Peacock Feather' Gems from Little Things from Lucy's Cards to the silver inked cogs.

The sentiment and centre panel are cut with another of my go to sets, I have several sets of the Craft Stash Wonky Stitches dies in a variety of shapes, and if you've seen many of my cards you'll know I use the ovals, circles, squares and hexagons a lot, they are brilliant for giving an interesting edge to a card without being too fussy.

The robot in the centre (and the sentiment) are from a Woodware set called 'Rusty Robot', I heat embossed them with gold then used to metallic pencils to colour him in. Couldn't resist the addition of some wobbly eyes for a bit of playfulness 😉 Now I need to investigate other stamps that can create cards for men and now that we the 7" template it means I can use larger stamps, which should make it a lot easier!

Sunday, 16 June 2019

New Sizes of Templates Added

We're delighted to announce that we've added 2 new sizes of templates to the set we sell, that means the set now contains a 2" template, perfect for making small toppers for cards or cute little gift tags.

Plus a 7" template which means you can now create much larger wreaths and of course use larger sizes of stamps.

I'm very aware that not everyone has a stamp positioning tool, so I was delighted to discovered earlier this week that our templates can be used with stencils and don't require a stamp positioning tool to achieve fabulous results, and you can read more about this technique here.

The 2" template is perfect for making gift tags for any occasion, I did make a set with the 3" template but decided they were in fact a bit big to put on a small gift. So I asked the man that can to create a 2" template so that I could make smaller tags, and whilst he was at it I asked for a 7" template as well.

Much tinkering and playing with numbers and CAD software ensued and a few days later he presented me with the new templates to test out. I'm happy to say they worked like a charm, just like the other templates do, like the upgraded set from earlier this year each template has a recess for holding a magnet and a hole so that the templates can all be threaded together on a cable ring to keep them together.

Blossom by Blossom stage 1
The 7" template allows you to create designs that are big enough to add to 7" card blanks, or you can matt and layer your designs on to 8" cards. I've made some samples over the past few days for the launch of the new templates and I've had lots of fun taking the stamped squares and turning them into different shapes.

As I thought about it, it occurred to me that customers who already own the 3" - 6" set may want to purchase the 2" and 7" templates, so over on our Facebook store we've added the new sizes to the shop so customers can buy just the ones they are missing to complete the set.

I also realised that not everyone has a larger stamp positioning tool, some people only have a Mini MISTI, so a full set of templates would be a waste of money (unless they were going to use them with stencils) so I've turned the templates into 3 bundles: -

The final Blossom by Blossom card cut with a circle die.
Small (2" and 3") which will fit in a smaller sized stamp positioning tool with a stamp area of 6" x 4.75" such as the Mini MISTI.

Medium (2", 3" and 4")  For platforms such as the Original MISTI and any stamp positioning tool that measures 6.5” x 8.5”.

Large (2", 3", 4", 5", 6" and 7") Whilst the 2", 3" and 4" templates will work in smaller stamp positioning tools, we recommend the Tim Holtz Stamping Platform by Tonic Studios or a Memory MISTI for use with the 5", 6" and 7” sizes, the larger sizes will not fit smaller stamp positioning tools.

Each of the sets come with a cable ring and the price includes postage and packing. Over on the shop I have included prices for the UK, USA and the EU. As the new template bundle now contains 6 templates instead of 4, there will be an increase in the cost due to the fact that we're using more materials, more electricity to power the printers etc, so the price will increase by £4.00 going forward making the templates plus p&p cost £14.95 (posted to the UK), £17.50 (posted to the USA) and £16.95 (posted to the EU). Prices for the smaller sets and the 2" and 7" template bundle can be found over on the Facebook Shop.

If you have any further questions then you can leave a comment on the blog, or send me a message via our Facebook page and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Using Our Wreath Builder Templates With STENCILS!!!

Hi Everyone, I'm really excited to share with you another fabulous use for our Wreath Builder Templates and to use them in this way you DO NOT need a stamping platform!!! I know, it sounds too good to be true doesn't it? I can't take the credit for the idea because I saw the lovely Jennifer McGuire do this over on her blog earlier this month and I wondered if I could achieve the same with our templates.

I didn't want to rush to say to you "Oooo look what you can do with our stencils!" Only to discover that you can't use them in the same way. Instead I thought that I'd test the idea and create a couple of projects to make sure that our templates could definitely be used in the same way before I said they could be, so I did and they can! ::Tigger like bounces::.

All you have to do is tape the template to a flat surface, I used my Tim Holtz Glass Media Mat which has the added bonus of helping the inks to blend more smoothly. I've recently switched to using blending brushes for using with distress inks (more on them soon) and you end up with some brilliant results. I've so far tried the using the 6" and new 7" templates (more on that soon!) and both work, but I won't lie you have to keep a firm grip on the stencil if you do it the way I did, next time I'll tack down exactly like Jennifer did, but the results are amazing!

What I should have done is use low tack tape and mask off the areas I didn't want to use, instead I held it down with my hand and used a piece of A4 paper to 'mask', Jennifer explains how to do it in her video that I've linked to below.

I was a little excited to try it as I had some free time so I skipped steps, but it still worked! I used painters tape to stick the template to the media mat, don't worry about getting distress ink on your template, if you do it will wipe away with a damp cloth or a baby wipe.

For the green card I used the 'Line Em Up' stencil from Time For Tea Designs and two shades of distress ink in Salty Ocean and Twisted Citron and they blended together beautifully. The image was in my Maybe Someday box, I'd coloured it a few years ago when I got the Neat & Tangled 'Purrfect' stamp and die set, so my colouring isn't as good as it is these days, but its not too shabby!


I haven't made a card with the panel generated by the 7" template yet, I'll finish it and add it to my post to introduce the new 7" and 2" templates later this week. I have so many templates that I can use in this way to make some fabulous backgrounds, I think its a huge added bonus for the templates and its brilliant that it means that people without a stamping tool can also use the templates as well.

I'm off to play some more, my head is now full of stars, snowflakes, hearts and more that I can use to create card backgrounds with my templates. If you already have a set of templates and your try out using your templates with stencils, please share your cards over on our Facebook Page, I love to see what you all create 😀

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Mew Are Pawsome - Time For Tea Designs

Just before my holiday back in may my lovely crafting buddy Shabneez posted a card she'd made with an adorable stamp set from Time for Tea Designs called Mew Are Pawsome, my inner crazy cat lady (who am I kidding its outer and all over lol) was smitten and I ordered the stamp set and co-ordinating dies, Joanna who owns TFTD was on holiday when I placed my order and I got an email to tell me this and explain my order would be sent once she was back off her hols. As I was going on mine at the time I thought no more of it and went away, happy in the knowledge that the stamps would be with me when I got back off my holidays.

When I arrived home as I expected my order was waiting for me, but inside there was a little note from Joanna and a free rubber stamp to say thank you for waiting for my order, which was a lovely touch, even though I hadn't been waiting. I love small companies because they offer personal service and the customer matters, suffice to say TFTD went on my radar thanks to Shabneez. I'd been so busy since I got back off my holidays I hadn't had time to play with the stamp set though which was bugging me, so yesterday after I had finished making a birthday card for my dad and a couple of Father's Day cards - I'll post photos of them after Sunday when the recipients have received them - I sat down and created the above cards just because, I needed to play with something where I wasn't worrying about getting things finished by a set date.

TTFD released 4 new stencils earlier in June and the designs are fab, plus they had a special offer to get all 4 for a reduced price of £12, I think its gone up to £16 now, its still a saving but I got a real bargain. I've only used one so far the 'Sunny Side Up' stencil which I think is going to be one of my most used stencils in the future, as well as the sun in the centre, the stencil has 4 other sides:- a straight edge, clouds, grass and hills all perfect for creating scenes. I used the clouds and grass on the background for the father's day cards I mentioned earlier 😉

I used water colour card and distress inks to create the background. The images I stamped and coloured with Copic Ciao's, I don't have lots of colours yet so I'm limited as to how I can blend the pens, but I am thrilled with them, I know they are an expense, but I really wish I'd saved money when I started buying cheaper pens that just don't do the job and just gone for Copic's in the first place, in the long run I would have saved money, and have lots more colours to boot lol!

To finish off the card I added a few gems from Little Things from Lucy's Cards, I love the gems and pearls that Lucy sells, it was via Jennifer McGuire that I discovered Lucy's Cards gems and I was surprised to find that Lucy was based in the UK, so now I order all my gem treasure from Lucy, she does sequins, pearls, gems and tiny confetti which is perfect for adding to shaker cards. The sentiment is also from the Mew are Pawsome set, I just stamped it on to a strip of white cardstock with some Gina K Amalgam ink and cut the end to form a fish tail.

The second card I created using one of our Wreath Templates to make a circular 'rocker' card, using my Tim Holtz Stamping Platform and a 6" template. I stamped lots of the smaller images from the TFTD 'Mew are Pawsome' set with Gina K Amalgam ink and coloured them with my Copic pens. I find colouring very relaxing and therapeutic to do, again I wish I had more colours but I'm happy with what I've achieved.

Once I'd die cut the circles and layered everything up I finished the card off by adding a little shimmer pen to the balloons and cupcake icing and a little white gel pen detail to the balloons and cat. My stroke of genius for this card was to use a red Sakura Glaze pen for the centre of the candle to make it more flame like. This stamp set is going to get a heck of a lot of use, and I can't wait to use the other stencils I got from TFTD, watch this space.