Adding Depth with Layering Stamps

Move over basic stamping! The days of simple cross-hatched patterns for shadows are over. Okay, maybe that was overly dramatic. I love all of my stamps, but recently I discovered that designers are creating layering stamp sets that can turn any project into a fabulous one very quickly.

These sets contain multiple images that are intended to be stamped on top of each other to create depth. It’s a process that seems similar to operating a printing press: one pass (or in this case stamp) per color to yield a final image. These sets are comprised of clear stamps that make lining up each image easier.

This year at Scrapbook Expo in Grapevine, TX, I took a class using Just Rite’s multi-step Wild Roses set. Instant love. The beautiful patterns and limitless color options allow crafters like me (with no real artistic ability) to add a little more magic to my cards.

These stamps are fun and relatively easy to use, but buyer be warned: some stamps sets are easier to line up than others. Some sets claim that each layer isn’t designed to fit perfectly on another and that it makes it easier to create with. I found some of those sets to be incredibly frustrating to work with. Still others had far too many layers and they created and mottled image that was hard to distinguish. Now that I’ve tried a few brands here are my favorites (saving the best for last):

  • Hero Arts:

I used the Hero Arts Large Orchid set to create the Mother’s Day card below in pigment inks. Lining up the stamps was fairly easy and I found that this set was pretty forgiving if the images weren’t lined up 100% correctly. The layers came together well to create a realistic looking quality orchid stamp that I could proudly use the matching dies to cut out and use on my card.

  • Just Rite:

While taking that class at Scrapbook Expo we used the Romantic Wild Rose stamp set from JustRite. I found it to be relatively easy to use and the components yielded themselves nicely to creating different scenes. This set is full of two stamp images that come together very quickly and don’t require you to have a lot of different inks to differentiate layers. The anchor points on the stamps made determining orientation easier than some of the others I’ve tried and the images laid on top of each other well using pigment inks.

  • Altenew:

Talk about a knock it out of the park, holy crap where have you been all of my life product. I’ve adored (read: drooled over) every single image I’ve seen created with the Peony Bouquet and Beautiful Day stamp sets by Altenew. They’re just phenomenal stamps. The patterns are so versatile and have so much depth to them that anything created is an instant masterpiece. I’ve yet to try pigment inks with them, since the details are so intricate, but dye inks work beautifully. These sets lend themselves well to multi-layer stamping, embossing, or watercolor. The possibilities are endless!

I have several more Altenew stamp sets I’ve yet to try and I’m so impressed with the ones that I’ve used that I can hardly wait to use them! Have a favorite brand, set, or technique? Tell me about it in the comments section!

If you’re interested in any of the products I mentioned, I’ve listed them here:

  • Hero Arts Layering Stamps – Large Orchid
  • Just Rite Stamps –Romantic Wild Roses
  • Altenew – Beautiful Day, Peony Bouquet

If you think these handmade cards are perfect for someone you know, you can find them here.

If you’d like to see any of my other products or you’d like to request a custom order, please send me a message or visit Aluminum Butterfly on Etsy.

*I’m not affiliated with any of these companies…I just like their stamps!

Watercolor…with Distress Inks?

As much fun as I have shopping, I’m always on the hunt for new techniques to try with things I already have. Its kind of like finding money in a coat pocket that you weren’t expecting. So when I stumbled upon new ways to take advantage of the water reactive properties of Tim Holtz Distress Inks, I decided to give it a try.

I fell in love with Distress Inks years ago and over time I’ve collected a few (read all) of them. I’ve used them in any number of ways to dye, tint, edge, stamp or distress my projects, but I’d never thought of combining the ink with water before I put it on the paper. Recently, a technique video  or twelve “taught” me how to use my ink collection to watercolor.

I started with a stamp with a solid outline and plenty of open space: in this case, roses. I stamped my image in a clear ink and used white embossing powder to serve as my outline. Now a white outline on white paper isn’t the easiest to see, but the contrast with the inks makes the finished product fantastic.

Once the embossing powder cooled, I taped my project to my craft sheet with washi tape to reduce movement and paper warping and picked a few colors for my roses. I chose a few shades of yellow and orange and two shades of green. For this technique, I simply turned my inkpad upside down and tapped it on my craft sheet (one spot per color like a mini pallet). I used a VERY small container for my water, since I was using a 110lb cardstock instead of watercolor paper and I wanted to force myself to keep extra water to a minimum.

I wet my brush and then touched it to the colors of ink on my craft sheet working lightest to darkest on the petals and then leaves and set it aside to dry. I should mention before I move on to the rest of the details on this card, that applying the ink directly to the craft sheet makes it much easier to blend colors before adding them to your project, thus reducing the change of wrecking your paper if you’re stubborn like me and won’t use your watercolor paper.

YP3While my image dried I took out my Prayers stamp set from Hero Arts and die cut the word from gold cardstock. Once dry, I placed my roses in my MISTI stamping tool and arranged my sentiment stamp just above where I intended to place my die cut. You don’t need a MISTI for this project, but I’ve found that I like using the gridlines to make sure my stamps are straight. I also love that if an image doesn’t stamp perfectly, I can re-ink the stamp and close MISTI again, placing the stamp in EXACTLY the same place as the last image. I find this to be an extra precaution I like to take when I’m adding a sentiment to a piece that I’ve already put quite a bit of work into.


I was about to adhere my die cut when I decided that this card needed a yellow border. I like to cut my border pieces just a quarter inch larger than my focal piece for cards like this for a little added interest. Here’s how it looks assembled…ready to fill an envelope with comfort and thoughtfulness.


If you’re interested in any of the products I used, I’ve listed them here:

  • Stampendous Cling Rubber Stamp – Timeless Rose
  • Tim Holtz Distress Ink – Wild Honey
  • Tim Holtz Distress Ink – Tattered Rose
  • Tim Holtz Distress Ink – Mustard Seed
  • Tim Holtz Distress Ink – Shabby Shutters
  • Tim Holtz Distress Ink – Bundled Sage
  • Hero Arts Stamps and Die Set – Prayers

If you think this handmade card is perfect for someone you know, you can find it here.

If you’d like to see any of my other products or you’d like to request a custom order, please send me a message or visit Aluminum Butterfly on Etsy.

Dahlia Thinking of You Card

Okay, I’ll admit it: I have a new obsession. I have fallen completely head over heels for Derwent’s Inktense pencils. They’re a water soluble paint type pencil set that make watercoloring my new favorite thing. I don’t own any standard watercolors and I only have one other set of watercolor pencils. There’s a reason for this–I can’t draw. The fancy coloring and shading that some crafters pull off with Copic markers baffles me. This is a talent I simply don’t possess (and I’m a little jealous). I would normally shy away from anything that would expose this weakness, but once I watched a few YouTube videos on them, I was so taken by their bold hues that I just had to try them for myself.


Now I’ve told you that I don’t draw and if you’re like me, you’ll depend on your stamps and stencils to outline your images. When I’m working with any watercolor technique, I use Staz On ink or any other brand that won’t run when I start working with water. I chose a recently acquired Heartfelt Creations stamp set for my image on this card and then selected what I thought might be an appropriately vivid color for my flower.Studio_20160319_201821

Boy was it ever. After taping my cardstock to my craft sheet with washi tape, I used my Inktense pencil to color in my flower where I wanted the shades to be darkest. I thought the bases and tips of the petals might look nice and left the petals plain white in the middle. Here comes the magic. With a detail waterbrush, I blended the color from base to tip on each petal for my highlights. No seriously–that’s it. I was thrilled with how easily the pencil blended using water alone. It blended with so few strokes and so little water that I didn’t have to use watercolor paper.

While my flower dried, I stamped the image a second time on some masking tape and cut the image out to use as a mask. I placed it over my colored image (once dry) and stamped the flourishes and leaves with Staz On Jet Black ink. I left the mask in place and used Tumbled Glass Distress Ink to color in my background. After coloring in my leaves, I thought the card front could benefit from a border to balance out the color. I took the same colored pencil from the flower to the border of a piece of cardstock and blended them with my waterbrush so that intensity would match.

The addition of a Heartfelt Creations sentiment and a little sparkle on the petal tips with my Wink of Stella glitter pen finished a card to send to someone on your mind.


If you’re interested in any of the products I used, I’ve listed them here:

  • Derwent Intense Pencils
  • Tim Holtz Distress Ink – Tumbled Glass
  • Heartfelt Creations – Dhalia
  • Heartfelt Creations – Sentiment
  • Wink of Stella Glitter Pen – Clear Glitter

If you think this handmade card is perfect for someone you know, you can find it here.

If you’d like to see any of my other products or you’d like to request a custom order, please send me a message or visit Aluminum Butterfly on Etsy.