Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Tips and Tricks Tuesday - Marvellous Matting

Good Morning! Today I want to let you know what all the fuss about matting and layering is. I LOVE matting and layering as a way to give photos or stamped images more definition, but what is it and how do you do it?!
Mats are simply pieces cut to size and building up layers behind or in front of your chosen image.

Take the card above as an example: I have glued on the Designer Series Paper (Birds of a Feather) onto the folded Island Indigo card base, leaving a thin border or blue all around the edge. This is basic matting. On the white card I have stamped the bird and cage, and then layered it onto the yellow Summer Starfruit card.

Here is a close up of a section of the white and Summer Starfruit panel. There are two reasons I chose to mount the white panel. Firstly, it helps the white panel to stand out on the page, making it more of a focal point. Secondly the white card is a little thin to stand up to being mounted on dimensionals without it bending, so by mounting it onto a mat of card, it is strengthened.

Generally when matting, I will measure the top layer with the image on it (in this case the white card stamped with the bird and cage), and then add either 0.5 cm or 1/4" to the hight and width - this leaves a lovely thin border. There are occasions where I will do something different though, such as a the bottom of the stamped panel, where I have left a much wider border, and then used decorative punches and dies on the edges.

Bigger projects such as scrap book pages may demand wider borders, or even multiple layers of matting, each getting larger. Have fun with it, and don't be afraid to experiment!

Happy Crafting

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Tips and Tricks Tuesday - Back to Stampin' Basics

Welcome back to the next instalment of my FREE tips and tricks posts - I hope you have found them helpful so far. This week we are going to start with the real basics of stamping and how to get a good, crisp and clean image when you stamp.

Lets start right at the beginning, with the equipment you need to stamp successfully. You need at an absolute minimum:
  • A stamp!
  • Some ink...
  • Something to stamp on.
Lets dive into these a little bit deeper shall we?

The Stamp: The stamps you choose to use can have a big impact on your final results. Good stamps use high quality rubber, that has been deeply etched. Rubber stamps give better results than other materials such as photopolymer or foam stamps because they are sturdier and the impression is etched deeply allowing for finer, more detailed images.

Stampin' Up! Stamps are available in 2 formats, both featuring top quality rubber. Firstly is the classic 'wood mounted' form, and the second, the more storage-friendly 'clear mounted' form. Both of these formats give equally good results when stamping - I will go into these two stamp types in more detail another day.

The Ink: For back to basics we want to be using a DYE ink pad. Dye inks are water soluble, so will wash off hands and wipe clean surfaces, however be careful with fabrics and other absorbent surfaces as these could stain. Dye ink pads are available in 48 different colours from Stampin' Up! so there is sure to be something to suit you. 

Stampin' Up!'s ink pads feature a patented, flip-top design that stores the inking surface upside down, ensuring that the surface of the ink pad stays moist. If using other brands of ink pad, try storing them upside down to prolong their life.

Something to stamp on: You can stamp onto almost any surface with the right inks and tools, but we will stick to paper and card. Start off with a good weight of smooth white paper - If you stamp onto paper with a texture then this will affect the final image. Use a medium / heavy weight of paper (copier paper is generally not heavy enough) to ensure the ink does not bleed through to the other side.

Lets start Stampin'!

So first things first - you need a table or some other flat firm surface to work on. Found one?
Next believe it or not, even the flattest of tables may have hidden unevenness, such as a biscuit crumb or the wood grain. The BEST answer to this is to lay a Stampin' Pierce Mat down, and place your paper onto that... but if you don't have one of those to hand then try the following: an old mouse-mat or at least 2 other layers of paper underneath the one you want to stamp. 
Using something under your paper has the effect of evening out the table surface, but also has the effect of evening out the pressure you will be exerting on the stamp - resulting in a better image.

This question may sound obvious, BUT: Is your stamp clean? 
A clean stamp gives a clean impression. Bits of dried on glue, glitter particles, ink from previous attempts at stamping etc... are all not going to help you! Go and give that stamp a clean if it needs it!

Next - Ink up your stamp. This is where I find the majority of people are going wrong, and they end up with a 'ring' around the image they are trying to stamp. Place your stamp face up (that's rubber side up!) on the surface in front of you, and gently tap your ink pad onto it. Yes, you can press hard onto the stamp pad, and get as much ink on BUT you wont get it on in the places you want - this is how we end up with the annoying rings! Think butterfly kisses and you wont go far wrong. Move your pad around so you are not always using the same bit. Your stamp may take 4 or 5 taps over each section to be inked up properly. If you are not picking up enough ink, then it is quite likely your pad needs re-inking. If your pad is very new, it may take less taps.

Right, now to stamp the inked up image onto your paper... Choose where you want it to go, place it down and STOP! Did I just see you starting to rock and wiggle the stamp? Bad idea, you want to place it down, apply a little pressure directly down on top (we have all had a go with play dough at some point, so think about the amount of pressure you would use to slightly flatten a ball of dough under your palm). Now lift the stamp straight off UPWARDS!


There you have it, one crisp and beautifully stamped image.

I hope this post has been helpful to you - if you are having problems, or have any of your own tips and tricks please feel free to pop them below as a comment - I am always ready to try and help, but also love to learn from you guys too!

Happy Crafting,