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Tip & Tricks

I have minimal space in my loft so work space is limited. I purchased a good quality music stand to hold my tutorials, ipad, whatever to the side of my work bench ... easy to see.

If you use sewing pins to seal your glue bottles and are having issues with rust ruining your glue, then your pins are not stainless steel. They are fairly inexpensive to purchase and worth picking up a box. Just double check the box to ensure it says “Stainless steel”. The ones I purchased are quilting pins.

When stamping unmounted images and I want just a little give under the paper, I use a fun foam sheet from the dollar store. Works great, its inexpensive and fits in my crop tote.

I keep an inexpensive magnetic bowl (purchased from Harbor Freight) by my die cutting machine. This not only holds a pair of small scissors but a pokey tool and small dies if necessary

In place of expensive repositional tape (that sometimes eems to be not so re-usable) I use a removable c one from Cromelabels to hold down dies and stencils. I get 1000 labeels per box but cut them in half when die cutting. The lovely thing is they are made and sold by a family business lcoated in the USA.

Aluminum foil does more than just sharpen your scissors and punches! It also makes for a lightweight “metal” look for cards and projects.

While I prefer the heavier foil, I have used a thinner one as well with great results. Wrapped and secured around a lightweight card stock (I find I get a better impression) it can be embossed using an embossing folder. It can also be stamped on using a permanent ink such as Staz-On or alcohol inks.

By accident, I discovered that if I really want or need a nice crisp crease or fold line for my cards to use my trusty speed ball rubber roller. I originally kept this on my desk to “burnish” over cardstock pieces that I glued/taped together. Especially important with paper piecing projects.

One day I could not find my bone folder for a card I had scored and folded so I grabbed my rubber brayer and rolled away. Wow! Talk about a difference. What I found was that I got a sharp clean crease without the markings that are sometimes left behind by bone folders and best of all, my card base stayed closed.

Use hand sanitizer on a paper towel to clean any ink smears and even adhesive from your acrylic stamping blocks. Make sure the block is dry before adding a stamp.

If you happen to have a stamp-a-ma-jig (LOVE) then you can also use hand sanitizer to clean the plate off.

Use alcohol or acetone nail polish remove to get all the sticky residue off your scissors.
You can also use these products to clean any tweezer that may have glue residue on them.

If you find your acrylic/polymer stamps not sticking to your block anymore, take some rubbing alcohol and put it onto a cotton swab and clean the back of the stamp. then wipe again with water. This will help renew the "sticky".

I always keep quart size zip-locks in my crop tote. They are great for storing and protecting completed cards or small projects.

Empty toilet paper rolls are perfect to insert into your desk crop totes. I use one to keep my glue bottle upright and several more for my water pens, paint brushes and pencils.

I attach with adhesive strips an inexpensive (generic or store brand) quart size zip loc bag to the back of my 8 x 8 design paper pads for scraps.

I have many different folders from many different companies and they do not all work using the same sandwich. A perfect example is my 3-D embossing folders. Stampin Up folders use a different folder on my old Big Shot machine than a 3-D folder from other companies. When I got tired of second guessing everytime I grab a folder I now keep a sharpie by my machine and when I have the right sandwich, I write it on the folder. This has saved me so much aggravation and time!

Because embossing powders look different depending on the color of paper used on, I wanted a quick reference showing its use on black and white card stocks. I created a chart in Microsoft Word and printed onto white card stock. Then I stamped the scribble image with VersaMark on the white card stock and a piece of black card stock. Added the embossing powder and heat set. I used a 3/4” square to punch out the scribble on black card stock and glued it to the chart.

A drinking straw works better than an eye dropper with less chance of a mess. Just place your straw in water and cover the top with your finger. Insert the straw into the reservoir opening and lift your finger to release the water.

You can make great flower embellishments from old book pages or newspapers. Just punch out 8 - 10 scallop circles. Sponge the edges if desired. Using a small hole punch or piercing tool poke a hole in the center. Then stack all the circles and use a brad to connect them all together. Once done, carefully pull each layer up and crumple up. Fluff a little to your satisfaction and attach to your project, Great way to recycle and use on masculine or vintage themed projects.

You can also do this using flower shaped dies instead of circles.

Make your own foam dimensionals by taking Peel & stick foam sheet which can be found at Wal-Mart, craft stores or even dollar stores. Apply wide double-sided tape to the backside to make it adhesive on both sides of the foam. You can buy peel & stick foam sheets in different thicknesses.

You can also use just plain fun foam and add the double-sided tape to both sides.

Using a pencil draw a light outline around your image. This will make it much easier to cut around the image. Once done, use a sand eraser to remove any pencil marks that are left. Make sure your scissors are clean and sharp and start cutting!

To make your own enamel dots buy some pony beads at Wal-Mart or other craft store. Using an old cooking sheet, cover with parchment paper and lay the beads out 1/4 - ½ inches apart (making sure there are holes up) and put them in a toaster oven at 450 degrees for 12 minutes. Take out an let cool and they should come off the paper easily. You can reuse the paper till it becomes brittle. Please note: this process will stink up your house really bad so make sure you are able to have your house well ventilated or even better, put your toaster oven outside.

If you hot glue an element on, and it wasn't placed correctly, just reheat the glue underneath with your heat gun. Once the glue has melted enough, gently reposition to where you want it.

When mailing cards, turn the card so that is in inside out. (I also add a piece of thin packing foam to the inside). Besides added protection for the embellishments without adding bulk or weigh. This also makes it easier for you to insert the card without catching and possibly damaging the front of the card. (Don’t ask me how I know this) and it gives a smooth surface on both sides of the envelope which lowers the risk of damage when the card is going through the postal machines.

I save these and use to make envelopes and for die cutting. You’d be surprised at the cool die cuts you can get with ugly paper.

I use a 3 ring binder with page protectors (Poly Pockets) where I put bits and pieces I can use for cards later. Cards that I start but don't finish for various reasons. Images I have stamped/colored but didn't use etc. I take it with me when I go to crops and then start cleaning it out and making cards and stuff with what I find. It's always and adventure.

Using a 1/4" circle punch, make as many circles as you want in the colors you want. When done, glue them to your cards/project then carefully top with a layer of something like Close to My Heart liquid glass or similar product. Let dry thoroughly. This has many advantages. You will always have the color you need. You can use bits of scrap paper and if you are mailing the card, it does not add bulk or weight.

If you want a glitter look, then add a bit of glitter glue first. let dry, then top that with the liquid glass.

This also works great with glitter or metallic glimmer papers!

I save store bought general and Christmas card fronts and reuse them to make gift tags ir new cards by fussy cutting them or die cutting them. I mean companies pay lots of dollars to have those cards designed and to me is no different than using a store-bought card topper.

Magazine pages and newspaper, especially the Sunday Comics make fun and interesting gift wrap and card envelopes

I store my cards in a vintage metal index card file but have had several issues with embellishments being damaged when adding or removing cards from the file. Using an idea from a friend, I started placing my cards in clear sleeves to protect them but I only have a few of those on hand and only A2 size. What I found was that when I purchase any item that comes in a clear envelope style package, (think some dies and embossing folders) many times with a slight trim I can get a clear sleeve for my cards. Especially 5 x 7 and square cards. The cards are visible when sorting through my files and nicely protected. 

● 1 Teaspoon Baby Wash (I use a store brand)
● 2 Tablespoons Glycerin (purchased from local pharmacy)
● 8 ounces distilled water

Mix all three ingredients together in a small spray bottle and spray onto your stamp scrubber pad.
I’ve been using this recipe for several years now for my rubber stamps and have had no issues.

If you are looking for a fun filler for a gift box, use your scrap card stock and either cut into small pieces or run through your paper shredder. It puts those small bits to good use and you don’t have to go buy something to add a little colorful fun to a gift

If you use spray adhesive, use corn starch to clean up any over spray. Just sprinkle on the affected area and rub it until the sticky is gone. It does not leave any residue behind either.

Most of us now have non stock craft mats. We all know they can be pricey. Especially when they first came out. Well … I pretty much ruined my first one because I didn’t store it properly and over time, it was creased and split. Since then, I have purchased several more in different sizes. I store them wrapped around a left-over cardboard gift wrap tube secured with a rubber band and then placed upright in a fun little pail. Now they stay crease and split free!

To start, I file my dies by category - then alphabetically.

I store my thin dies in 5.50" x 7.50" clear plastic envelopes. If the packing works in the envelope I trim to fit and add magnetic strips to hold the dies in place, If I don't have the packaging I use a heavy weight cardstock in place of. I then store them in bins I purchased from IKEA.

For those sets that are larger I used 6.75" x 9.50" clear plastic envelopes folowing the same process.

I also have several dies sets that are for the grand caliber die cutting machine or are long and narrow. For those I use Job Ticket Pockets which easily holds a document approx 9 x 12.  These are perfect for the oversized dies. I just use an 8.5 x 11 piece of cardstock. I print the die information on one side and add a picture of the die if I have one then flip over and on the other side I add magnetic strips to hold the dies and file it in a refrigerator bin on my Kallax.

If you are looking for a way to make fun tiny tire tracks on your cards or scrapbook pages, find a small toy car whose tires have “treads” … Then just roll across your ink pad and then your paper. To clean, roll across a baby wipe a couple of times.

You can do the same thing with toy motorcycles.

If you need an extra set of fingers, use self-closing tweezers to hold twine when tying into a bow

Do you find that you have a lot of ink/paint or paste left on your stencil after using it? Take a clean piece of cardstock, put your "dirty" stencil on top and wipe with a baby wipe over the stencil or mist your stencil and lay on top of your clean cardstock.

I store all my stencils in a 3-ring binder tucked inside sheet protectors (poly pockets). It protects my stencils from damage and with a flip I can easily find the stencil I am look for. It also makes it easier for me to take my stencils to crops.

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