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.

Muted Rose Happy Mother’s Day Card

I thought I’d take a break from the organizational series I’ve been posting most recently and talk about one of my favorite aspects of running this little company: the art. As much as I love organization, my first love will always be creating. I would like (if you’ll permit me) to start blogging about the designs, techniques, and special details of the pieces I create from time to time. When your storefront is online, customers may miss out on the story and process behind a piece and I’d like to remedy that here.

I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different techniques lately and I’ll have to link to some of the fun cards I’ve created with them later, but for this Mother’s Day card, I figured that I’d get back to some of the embellishments that are nearest and dearest to my heart.

If you’ve read my blog post on Die Organization, you know that I absolutely adore them. I think that some of the designs out there are breathtakingly captivating if used correctly and I attempt to do so from time to time. For this card, I selected the Spellbinders Nestabilities Four dies and relatively new one from Spellbinders and Becca Feeken of Amazing Paper Grace to give my design its basic shape.

For my color scheme, I wanted something that was a departure from my typically preferred bold blue and purple hues. I’m trying to use some of my neglected 12×12 paper collections, so I selected a set with some shabby pink, peach, and brown tones. At first, I combined the patterned papers with an unaltered white die cut, but it just seemed too white. The addition of a few colors of Distress Ink later, my background die cut matched the muted tones of the papers I’d chosen.

Next, I sized the Nestabilites for my Happy Mother’s Day stamp and cut two shapes in white and peach. I added Distress Ink to these pieces as well. Now, I’ll admit that when I’m die cutting a for a sentiment, I tend to stamp the sentiment FIRST and then cut it out. Its TONS easier to make sure that the image is centered and stamped completely this way.MR3

After placing all of the pieces together, it felt like I was still missing a color, so I added the piece of antique gold ribbon from the Paper Source behind my sentiment to pull it together a little better. I thought some dimension might be appealing, so I stuck foam adhesive behind my sentiment blocks and used a permanent adhesive runner to secure all of my layers in place.

Lastly I misted some of my roses  with a delicate gold and took a few ink daubers to the rosebuds before arranging them to the left of the sentiment. A few pearls later…voila, a card that will certainly make Mom smile.MR7

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

  • Tim Holtz Distress Ink – Tattered Rose
  • Tim Holtz Distress Ink – Vintage Photo
  • Tim Holtz Distress Ink – Antique Linen
  • Tim Holtz Distress Ink – Spun Sugar
  • Recollections Pearl Embellishments
  • Paper Source Satin Ribbon – Antique Gold
  • Spellbinders Nestabilities – Labels Four
  • Spellbinders Amazing Paper Grace Dies – Cascading Grace
  • DCWV 12×12 Paper Stack – Garden Tea Party
  • Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist- Gold
  • Tsukineko Brilliance Ink Pad – Pearlescent Beige

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.

Keeping Crafts Organized

ink header There are so many tools and supplies available for crafting that the sky would seem to be the limit. In actuality,  that limit is more likely to be the size of your crafting space. I’ve scoured the internet searching for what I thought might be the very best ways to store my tools and supplies in a fashion that keeps them both organized and accessible.

1350958902036Yep, its hard to hard to believe that space used to be what I used for crafting. I started out just making cards for my grandmother because they made her smile. No matter the occasion, if there was a stamp or sticker that fit, another card was in the mail. As you can imagine, I accumulated supplies very quickly that way. I stored what I had in small plastic containers that stayed stacked on the floor near my table until I had a formidable pile of plastic containers.

Eventually, I made some changes…and then more changes as my family crafting project transformed into a business. My studio today is an ever-evolving place of papercrafting that I adore. Its my place of creative inspiration, sanity, and peace (even if there is a baby jumper near my desk).

The Cards You “Keep, Keep”

QW1Is it proper English? Not in the least, but it is one of the nicest and most heartfelt complements that I’ve ever received from a customer. At the time, it was something I’d never really considered. I had just opened my business and started offering custom handmade greetings for people to give to their loved ones. I wasn’t convinced that what I was doing was particularly special; it was just something that I enjoyed doing. Talking to this particular customer however, made it perfectly clear that there is a distinct difference between something she would buy in Target or a mall and something she would buy from me. The simple fact that my cards aren’t mass produced and can’t be found anywhere else is the difference. When I make a card for a customer or they buy one I’ve listed in my shop, that’s the only one there is. I put time, effort, and love into creating something unique. I didn’t really consider what recipients did with them after they opened them. It certainly never occurred to me that they keep them. It was then that I realized that people were framing my cards. Protecting them, not because of my artwork, but because of the memories evoked from seeing them. The new baby cards, the birthdays, mother’s days and anniversaries…people are holding on to those memories. I was incredibly humbled by the simplicity of her statement and I intend to keep making my cards to help my customers hold those memories close. – See more at:

Custom Orders – Learning to Welcome Them

BTOY1I’ll be honest, when I first started creating products and posting them for sale on Etsy, I was terrified of the “Request a Custom Order” button. It seemed like a one way ticket out of my comfort zone. As it turns out…that’s exactly what it is, and here’s why I’ve found I can’t do without it now.

1. My customers’ imaginations are incredible. On days where I feel like I’m recreating the same product over and over again…one customer with a request to do something totally different can instantly turn things around. I’ll admit that sometimes I find myself thinking “you want me to do…what?!?” but even with those requests, once I have a complete concept of what they are looking for, it turns into an awesome project.

2. Custom orders teach me about myself. Each new order is different and forces me to research, experiment, and often times teach myself a new skill. After each order, I can sit back and look at the finished product and appreciate the fact that I can do something new – something I may never have tried if not for a curious customer. They build skills and confidence, two things everyone could use a little of.

3. They inspire new products. After I’ve stumbled across a new technique, skill, or style I will almost always want to do it again. If I try something new for a customer and I enjoy it, I tend to offer other products using what I’ve learned (not exact copies, of course). I have entire product lines based on special requests and I believe that it keeps my products different, interesting, and ever-evolving.

So, I no longer fear the custom order button (heck, I’d give it neon lights if I could). I welcome the challenges, ideas, and chances to become a better artist and business woman.

Why Handmade?

FB6I’ve often heard the question asked, “Why buy something handmade?” Someone then proceeds to rattle off a list of reasons not to go through the trouble of buying from an artisan. While it’s true that a card bought from Hallmark or a scarf from Walmart may be more convenient and (maybe) cheaper, does half of the message get lost?

Close your eyes and picture the last handmade gift or card you received. Whether it was from an artisan or a child’s art project, there is a significant emotional difference in knowing that something was made, sought out, or purchased just for you. Handmade gifts and sentiments are created, not just for the words they may contain, but to convey the message that the recipient is unique, cherished, and appreciated. Humans are hard-wired to value something that is scarce, rare, or one of a kind. These items have value beyond price tags and create memories that endure.  It’s for this simple reason that handmade cards are framed instead of discarded and art is placed prominently in a household. While buying from artisans can support the handmade movement and help us chase our crafty dreams, it (more importantly) gives recipients the sort of experience that can last a lifetime. The fact that a unique gift or greeting can make someone feel special is why so many parents can’t part with their macaroni art.