Category Archives: stamps ans printing

A quick tutorial – Making textures in polymer clay using a Cuttlebug

This week I have been busy using my cuttlebug machine again. Not for card making this time , but for texturing polymer clay.

I did not want to use the plastic embossing folders with the clay directly , as I wasn’t sure what damage the clay would do to the plastic. Also it would be messy and time-consuming cleaning the clay out afterwards

So this is what I did instead .

I stuck metal tape onto scrap card , and embossed it with an embossing folder

I put conditioned and rolled clay onto the embossed foil

I put greaseproof paper on top of the clay and rolled it with a brayer

And Hey Presto …. textured clay.

Here are a few photos to show you what I mean.

Organising my clear acrylic stamps

One thing I did last week was organise my acrylic stamps. I am not the tidiest of people when I am working, and tend to have far too many things piled up around me. I noticed when I was making cards recently that I wasted so much time rifling through my stamps to find the one I wanted, that I needed some sort of system.

I don’t even have that many stamps (at the moment) so they have been sitting in a plastic container, which is a bad way to keep them.
So here’s what I did .

I did a few internet searches and watched some videos on ways that people use to store their stamps.
Many came from American and mentioned plastic wallets that I could not get here in Portugal . Others used CD / DVD cases, or the packets the stamps came in ( which I had thrown away ) stuck onto cards.
In the end I liked the idea of using polythene pockets, and dividing them up to keep a group of stamps together .

There are several videos showing this idea on You Tube, to give you the idea of what I mean.

I did not have any of the thick plastic pockets they used, so I cut out some pages from an old display book I had hanging around, which worked just as well


1. I cut out some pockets/pages from a display book.

2. I laid out my stamps and grouped them into categories where possible, such as Xmas/ winter , birthdays , flowers/ hearts, words / letters .

3. I put them onto a plastic pocket and drew straight lines to divide the pocket into smaller pockets.

4. With a craft knife I cut along the top edge of each small pocket shape I had drawn ( I put cardboard inside to prevent cutting through the back of the pocket)

5. I sewed the plastic pocket along the lines, dividing the big pocket into smaller pockets.

6. I popped the stamps in their new little pockets, and had a well deserved cuppa !

I’m not sure whether I will put the pockets into a ring binder or I will stand them in a box, but already they are a lot more organised than they were !

Valentines Day cards – Using distress inks

Here are a few of the cards I have been making for Valentines day, using the distress inks I recently bought back from England

 distressed background

distressed background

This card has a distressed background . I used denim blue distress ink on top of red card.Then I used a variety of heart stamps (bought and home-made) to stamp on top . I mounted it on a silver background and then onto Burgundy cardstock

pink grey black

I am not a grey and black person as a rule, but this card is one of my faves.

I used a dirty pink distress dye ( sorry I’m hopeless at remembering colour names) around the edge of an embossed pink heart, .I put strips of grey embossed hearts at the top and bottom of some black cardstock which I stamped with the words LOVE in silver and added the distressed heart and a little silver heart to tie the colours together .

mustard and blue heart

I feel this one has more of a Victorian feel to it
I used a piece of packing card to dye cut a heart, which I embossed with a damask pattern . It really came to life when I distressed it with denim blue & used vintage photo distress ink ( brown) around the edge.
I mounted it on pale blue dot embossed paper, then mustard/ ochre card stock, and used a copperplate type font to add a Portuguese greeting.

burgundy pink heart

This one is another one where I distressed the background and stamped onto it. However it has a totally different look to the first one .
I used denim blue ink to distress a frilly pale blue doily card, onto which I stamped two hearts.
I coloured the hearts in with watercolour pencils in pink shades and used pearly pink liner around the edges. I mounted the doily onto a bigger pink doily and then burgundy cardstock
I added a pink card strip at the bottom embossed with the words With love .

Feel free to copy these ideas …. just don’t forget to mention where you got them from !


Playing with distress inks

I have been trying out my new Tim Holtz distress inks this week, whilst making Valentines cards.

I wanted to give an “oldy worldy” , tattered feel to the cards, and so had a play around to get browned edges and discoloured paper .

I started off by Googling distress ink to find out more about how to apply them ,and saw lots of people use a special blending tool. It is a wooden tool with a foam pad on the end which rubs the ink onto the paper.

Well I don’t have such a tool, and so I tried using my index finger, cotton wool , a paper towel and a sponge.
They all worked to some extent, but I would advise against using the index finger, for two reasons.
1. I ended up getting grubby finger prints on bits of paper and card where I didn’t want them
and …
2. Although the ink is water-soluble I ended up with a stain that looked like old nicotine.

The paper towel and cotton wool worked, but they soaked up most of the ink and it was hard to get a soft feel when applying it, as I needed to use quite a lot of pressure to transfer the ink.

The best result SO FAR was using bits of sponge. I tried it held with my fingers, and also made a nice round ball of it and stuck it in the end of a piece of plastic pipe

I used enough sponge to make a tight fit, and found it stayed in place without needing glue.

it worked quite well, and I think it would have worked better if the end had been larger.

I am not sure how long the sponge will last though, as it started to crumble pretty quickly once I used it on textured card.

Luckily one sponge made 6 blending sticks.

I am now thinking something like neoprene might work and would last longer.
So once I find some I will have a go at making some more using wider pipe or try attaching it to small squares of wood

Here are the effects I achieved, and in my next post I will show you what I did with them.

Good to be home and creating again .

After having a lovely ( but long) 6 weeks away, it is good to be back home. I have missed pottering around in my workshop, and although on my first week back I have found it hard to get back into a routine, I have managed to do a few bits and pieces.

Whilst in England I stocked up on a few art/craft supplies, and since coming back I have been trying them out.

 a few crafting  supplies

a few crafting supplies

The things I bought were mostly for card making/printing/ calligraphy.

I bought some clear acrylic stamps to try, a variety of stamp pads, a machine called a Cuttlebug, and an assortment of embossing folders and metal dyes to use with it.
No wonder my suitcase weighed 23 kgs !

I couldn’t wait to unpack them and start playing.

This is what my Cuttlebug looks like.

  My cute little cuttlebug

My cute little cuttlebug

This is what it does.





Here are a couple of cards I made using it.

I was trying for a bit of a Victorian vintage type feel.


I have to say I am quite addicted to it, and have made a pile of cards already !

 the cards I have made so far !

It’s that time of the year again !

snow flakes 002

This week I have not managed to paint so much, as I have been busy making my Xmas cards.
I have made my Xmas cards for the last 30 years or more, and it is something I try to get done before Winter arrives.
I used to always be on the last-minute with them, but somewhere along the line I made a decision to have them made by October, which takes the pressure off as Xmas approaches. ( although I always end up rushing to get them done at the end for September)

Over the years they have been printed, collaged, batiked, made with leather, painted, and so many other ways, that I can’t remember !
This year I am making them with Fimo.

After playing around with different Xmasy themes I’ve chosen Snowflakes for my design.

I made a couple of lino cuts of simple snowflake to start with, and mixed some white, pearl and pale silver-grey Fimo, adding metal leaf to give it a bit of glitz.

I pressed the clay onto the lino to make embossed snowflakes in the clay, and then cut them out .

I like all my cards to be individual,( otherwise what’s the point of making them by hand ?)so I didn’t make any set pattern, and I cut them using different shaped cutters, so each one was a bit different.

After firing, I brushed some shimmery eyeshadow powders over them in whites and blues and coated them in varnish.

Next, it was a case of what colour of card to use, and how I wanted to mount them

I tend to go with 2 or 3 harmonious or contrasting colours and vary the size and shape of the mounts, again to keep each one individual

Now they are all mounted, I have put them to one side for a few days.
I will come back to them in the next few days to decide what greeting ( if any) I will use, where I will put it, and if they need any finishing touches.

Again that is something I have learned to do over the years. I used to add finishing touches straight away, and have ruined many a card with too much glitter !

I’m not going to post a photo of my finished cards now ,( I will put one up at Xmas time) as I don’t want my family and friends to see their cards already !

But, I think you can get a general idea from the photos.

Do you send Xmas cards, send e- cards, or do a bit of both ?
Do you buy them or make them ?

Why don’t you try making your cards this year ( or at least one .. for that special person)

If you use my idea, then please let people know where the idea came from !

Sketching challenge – Trees .

I enjoyed painting with acrylics for the last challenge, so I have done some more.

Here’s what they look like .

I also made a few fimo pieces which I coloured using either acrylics , powdered pastel , or eyeshadow .

So that’s it for this weeks challenge, now to continue with some more painting .

Enjoy the rest of your week-end .


This week I decided to see what I could come up with based on the colors and patterns of the peacock doodles I made .

I was tempted to get out the polymer clay, but resisted, and dug out my lino instead.
Here is what I have been up to .

I am not as happy with the end results this week, but it has me wanting to continue with the peacock theme. I loved all the colours, and fancy making a bigger abstract painting for my wall, based on the colours and shapes. It would be something a bit new for me to try.

It was good to get my lino and cutter out again, and I was pleased I did not take any gouges out of my fingers!.It wasn’t the best day for water based printing ink though, it was 32 degrees today .. HOT ! and it was drying as fast as I could roll it out.

It is still pretty hot out there, so now that my second challenge is complete, I am off to enjoy the rest of this beautiful day with a nice cold drink.

My weekly sketching challenge

Last Tuesday I started my sketching challenge. This was to make a sketch in 15 minutes or less for 5 days , and to use at least one of the sketches to make a finished piece by the end of the week.

Here are the sketches I made. The idea was not to get hung up about what the subject was, or what the drawings came out like. It was just to take some time to look at things and draw. I was hoping that something within one of them would spark an idea, that could then be developed further.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

This morning I spent a bit of time looking at them, and decided to follow-up my key sketches.

Here’s what I did next.

Finally, after a lovely morning playing around, this is my finished piece .

 A polymer pendant , printed on with an adigraf stamp , and  colourbox  ink pad.

A polymer pendant , printed on with an adigraf stamp , and colourbox ink pad.

I have not baked it yet, so it will be interesting to see if the colours will stay as bright.( fingers crossed they will)

I am pleased how my first weekly challenge has gone. I have had a busy week with other things happening, and yet by concentrating small amounts of free time every day, I have managed to come up with a new idea, and one that I feel I can develop more.

Lets see if next week works as well.

Making patterns and texture stamps for Polymer clay – Part 1

Today has been a lovely day. I have been able to spend the whole day at home for the first time in ages. I got all my chores done this morning, managed a trip to the bakery for a coffee and a pastel de natas ( custard tart) and spent all afternoon in my workshop. My friend in hospital is on the mend, the sun has been shining, the birds have been singing, and I have had a lovely day.

I spent the afternoon experimenting with making different patterns and textures into polymer clay.
I have an ever growing collection of materials that I use for making textures, such as scrunched up foil, onion bags, hessian, bubble wrap, sand paper, various brushes,etc which i played around with, as well as making some patterned/ textured stamps.

My stamp making discoveries

This is a green plastic/ rubbery substance used for block printing . It is easy to cut patterns into it using a lino cutter, as long as you are not wanting very fine detail. It is not so easy to create textures in it. I tried rubbing it with sand paper,but it did not have a noticeable effect . It is not possible to press things into it , as the rubbery texture bounces back. Clay peels away from it cleanly, and the adigraf gives a good clear pattern. Definitely worth playing around with some more.

I rolled out some scrap clay about 5mm thick, and made patterns into the uncured clay with my lino cutter. At first I pressed too hard, and gouged out too much clay, but the great thing is you can just roll it up and start again. With a lighter pressure I made some nice patterns with the lino cutter. I could also incorporate different textures into the stamp by pressing textured materials into the clay. I then baked the clay. When I used these stamps I found the clay stuck to them, and did not come away cleanly. It was better when I brushed the stamps with cornflour first, although the definition was not as great, as the flour tended to sit in the cut out areas. I am going to see if a a thin coating of oil might work better.

In the next few days I hope to try out a few more ideas. I want to make some negative stamps from the ones I made today, as well as making some textured stamps by etching into cured polymer clay with my Dremel. I have a few other ideas that I want to try too, that may or may not work .

I will tell you about those in Part 2, next week .