2. With some light colored markers or colored pencils, color around the outside edge of the faux stamp sheet and inside some of the open areas inside the stamps.
3. If you own any rubber stamps with postal type words or sayings on them, get them out and stamp them on some white or light colored paper to make parts to collage onto your stamp designs.
4. Tear or cut the words out and glue one onto each rectangle.
5. Take some border stamps and stamp them in black ink around the composition to make a border. I used some fairly bold stamps because the black rectangles in the original printout are pretty bold and dark so a strong border will help balance the whole composition.
6. Add some color with other rubber stamps from your collection. I’m currently working on Christmas cards and party invitations so I used some rubber stamps that would fit into use on those kinds of items – either on the actual card or on the envelope.
7. When I make a stamp sheet like this that is designed to be viewed as a whole composition as well as single stamps, I take the original and get color copies made of it. Then I cut out individual stamps from the color copies to use on other projects and keep the original to display intact.
Faux postage is a really fun mixed media project to make because it’s relatively non-threatening to create tiny works of art in a format that everyone is familiar with. There are lots of craft products you can buy that make it easier to make artwork that looks like postage stamps. A long time ago I designed some rubber stamps for this purpose and some of them are currently for sale in my Etsy shop. You can make this project with any other small stamps that you own also and a selection of paper crafting supplies. Enjoy!
1. Download and print out the two-page PDF file Low Tech Faux Postage. You’ll use the first page for Part 1.
2. Cut out some paper rectangles that are 1 3/4 inches tall and 1 3/8 inches wide from dark paper. You will need at least 16 rectangles.
3. Trim the edges with a paper edging scissors and arrange on your Low Tech Faux Postage sheet Page 1. You can think of your sheet as one composition made up of 16 tiny compositions if that helps you to get ideas. Glue down your trimmed paper rectangles.
4. Use a 1″ square paper punch and start by punching out one square for each rectangle from a selection of random scrap papers. Arrange until you are satisfied. If you have similar sized paper punches in other shapes such as circles, feel free to try them out. As you look through your scrap papers, you might get inspired to cut out other shapes. If you are moved to do so, go ahead and cut out whatever you like and glue down on your sheet without worrying about whether or not you’re “inside the lines”.
5. Take some tiny rubber stamps with words, phrases, numbers or symbols that have to do with philatelic stuff like stamps or cancellations. Stamp them in permanent black ink on light colored pieces of scrap paper. When the ink is dry enough to handle, cut or tear out what you have stamped.
6. Glue the torn or cut pieces to the collage work you’ve already done to help make each rectangle suggest a postal stamp design.
7. Continue to add embellishments to your stamps until you think they look finished. Here are some suggestions for what you can add:
More cut collage papers, found or commercial
Drawing – paint and gel markers are interesting choices to experiment with because you can write with them on slick surfaces and sometimes dark backgrounds as well
Stenciling Image transfers
8. When your stamp sheet is done, you can frame the whole thing to display it, cut apart your stamps to make tiny artworks, make color copies then cut apart the color copies, or put the whole thing in an art journal. Your imagination is the only limit and the most important thing is to have fun!
While making items for my wedding last summer I used a lot of nautical themed papers made by Canvas Corp. I saved a lot of the paper scraps to use in one of my favorite card-making techniques. I like to glue paper scraps onto narrow strips of scrap cardstock then apply rubber stamping ink to the edges to unify the strips. They make interesting parts to use in all kinds of paper crafts. I’ve previously written other articles that show this technique in action.
Materials and Tools
Canvas Corp paper sheet Sand & Sea Art Pages on Kraft CCP2883
Assorted paper scraps with a nautical theme, mostly from collections by Canvas Corp
Black permanent rubber stamping ink
Permanent rubber stamping ink in colors that complement the project
Strips of light colored scrap paper that harmonize with the chosen paper scraps
Pieces of cardstock that harmonize with the chosen paper scraps
Clean scrap paper
Computer with scanner and graphics software
Eraser for stamping the edges of the paper
These very detailed strips tend to look good in designs next to areas with less detail. To make thank you cards to acknowledge wedding gifts and other help people generously gave us for the wedding, I made some scrap paper strips edged in red and scanned them for use in a digital file which I had printed on cardstock at a copy shop. I spelled out the word “THANKS” in nautical flags by making little flag collages with Canvas Corp nautical themed papers and scanning those as well. After digitally manipulating the scanned paper pieces, this is the digital card design I came up with.
The red-edged strips that I scanned were now free to use in actual handmade cards and not just the digital design. I decided to combine the strips with imagery from the Canvas Corp paper sheet Sand & Sea Art Pages on Kraft CCP2883. The six images on the paper sheet are just about the size of the cards I want to make and the subtlety of the designs will really set off my paper strips. I decided to make six 5.25″ x 4.25″ cards. I selected six pieces of cardstock and cut them to 5.25″ wide and 8.5″ long then folded them in half to make the cards. Next I selected strips of light colored paper in colors that harmonized with my color scheme and stamped the sentiments “just a note” and “thank you” with black permanent ink. I made more strips than I thought I would need so that I would have lots of options. Also, I can use the extras for making other cards and for the card making classes that I teach.
To begin assembling the front of the cards, I cut each of the six images on the sheet Sand & Sea Art Pages on Kraft to just a little bigger than the card front. I cut the image in two then I inserted a strip with the words “just a note” then a scrap strip edged in red between the two pieces of the image. I glued the parts to the front of the card with a glue stick then trimmed away the excess. Then I glued the circular paper punched out piece with the stamped words “Thank You” onto the front of the card.
I love to make mixed media charms and beads to use in jewelry making. Recently I participated in a charm swap and made some initial necklaces for friends at JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts where I am a teacher. Learn how to make these charms by reading my tutorial on the Canvas Corp Products blog!
As I member of the Canvas Corp Brands Creative Crew I was invited to enter a challenge using one of their 12 x 12 kraft paper envelopes. They wanted to see how many creative ways we could transform the envelope.
As you can see I didn’t transform mine very much because I wanted to use it as an envelope to carry around papers that I’m using in wedding planning. We are having a picnic reception by a lake and I’m making some nautical themed decor. When I’m done using this as an envelope I plan to use it as a background in a shadow box for wedding memorabilia.
I cut through the front of the envelope with an X-acto knife and sponged rubber stamping ink around the cutouts for emphasis. I put decorative paper behind the letters and clear transparency sheets in front of them to protect the cut work and add an interesting effect. The nautical themed papers are from the 7gypsies and Canvas Corp brands and I mixed in some papers from other companies plus some Tim Holtz Design Tape and metal brads.
As a member of the “gig economy” I do contract and part-time consulting, marketing and customer service work for various clients. Two retailers I work with recently had need of some in-store signage. One is a hardware store and one is a craft supply store and they both sell stencils. I’ve been experimenting with letter stencils to make signage that gets the message across and at the same time demonstrates how to use some of the products that the stores sell.
JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts in Maplewood, MO has a teaching department of which I am a member. The education coordinator asked each teacher to make a sign or two for the classroom samples display to highlight the categories of classes we teach. I was assigned “Kid’s Crafts” and “Jewelry”. I was given two blank pieces of foamcore already cut to size and access to the classroom supply cabinet. Fun!
I like the look of cut-out letters layered over a background. To help me visualize how to arrange the letters on the foamcore board, I cut out some pieces of scrap chipboard and used a letter stencil to trace the outline of each letter in position. Then I decided what colors to use in the actual sign. Since it’s spelling out “Kid’s Crafts” that’s a good excuse to use some really bright colors!
I traced the letters again onto the colorful cardstock pieces I selected then cut the letters out with an X-acto knife. I’ll save the cutout letters in case another suitable project comes up.
Next I selected papers to use as backgrounds for each letter. I marked the foamcore as a rough guide to where I would place the background for each letter.
A little black and white in a design is a great way to add visual interest. Some of the background papers already have some white in the pattern. To get some black in the design, I outlined each cut letter with a black Sharpie marker and drew some faux sewing stitch lines to help convey the hand crafts theme. The black outline also covered up my pen lines from when I traced the letters. Black Sharpie markers are such an essential part of my tool kit (like glue sticks) that I buy them wholesale because I go through so many!
In order to read well from a distance, I thought some of the letters needed an improvement in the contrast. I added high contrast solid paper behind the letters that needed to pop a bit more. Then I added a strip of black and white paper tape (also known as design tape and washi tape) to the top and bottom edges for a more finished look.
The final finishing touch was to glue on a few colorful buttons here and there. I used a similar design idea to make my sign for Jewelry. That was fun to make because it gave me a chance to use some “shiny” supplies that are appealing but hard to find a use for that is tasteful and appropriate – metallic papers, silver ribbon, glitter papers and plastic jewels! I outlined the letters in the Jewelry sign with a metallic gold Sharpie paint marker that looks good with the jewel-toned papers and theme. The paint marker also has good enough coverage to conceal my pen lines.
These signs were fun to make and also stretched me creatively because I used a few materials and colors that I don’t design with very often. That’s good exercise for any designer!
The Schnarr’s Hardware store at 9800 Clayton Rd., St. Louis, MO 63124 has a very active shipping department that does UPS shipping and sells a selection of shipping supplies. Greeting cards are also offered and I have some of my own cards on the rack there for sale now. They are all handmade and blank inside. The current selections include cards for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, as well as Birthday, Thank You, and multiple occasion cards. I decorated the cards with a variety of paper craft techniques including collage, stenciling and rubber stamping.
Some of my cards are also available with other handcrafts in my online store in the Handmade by Carolyn section.
A few weeks ago I listened to a great podcast by the Scrap Gals in which guest Amy Sorensen discussed prompts for journaling about the holidays. Some of the prompts were in the form of questions and they reminded me of the activities my Mom used to like to do at Christmas parties. I was inspired to make some cards with prompt questions to use on our Christmas Day gathering and perhaps to later use as prompts if I ever decided to make Christmas journal or scrapbook. If you celebrate a different holiday you can adjust the questions and decorations to suit.
If you want to make cards like these here is what you will need:
Cardstock (plain will do since it will be covered on both sides with decorative paper)
Lined paper or journaling spots (journaling spots are small decorative pieces of paper or cardstock that are usually lined and are designed to be incorporated into a scrapbook or journal layout and written upon)
Decorative paper in holiday colors – a good opportunity to use up scraps!
Paper cutting system of choice
Glue sticks Bone folder
Clean scrap paper
Marker or writing tool of choice
Rubber stamping ink
Small word rubber stamps
1. My first step in this project was to decide on the size of the cards. I had a quantity of journaling spots that would work so I let those determine the size. If you want to fit your cards into a pocket page let that determine the size of your cards.
2. Cut pieces of cardstock to the size you determined.
3. Using a glue stick, glue the journaling spots or lined paper to the cardstock pieces. After gluing place a clean piece of scrap paper over each card and rub with bone folder to get a nice tight seal on the glue.
4. Glue decorative paper in holiday colors to the backs of cards and burnish. Make as simple as elaborate as you want and embellish with holiday stickers if you want to.
5. Trim the cards.
6. Cut a selection of light colored scrap papers into strips with decorative scissors. Stamp them with small words that fit the theme. I chose the words celebrate, Fiesta!, party, living, culture, spirit, living, holiday, joy and truth from four different word sets from my Carolyn’s Stamp Store collection. Set these aside to make sure the ink dries thoroughly.
7. Write prompt questions on the front of each card. For ideas I searched online for “Christmas journaling prompts” and used some of the questions I found plus I made up a few of my own. Feel free to use these or your own choices.
What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?
Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
Is there a new holiday tradition that you would like to start?
If money was no object, what would you give to each person in your family?
What was your favorite Christmas outfit?
Are there any traditions that we’ve let go that you’d like to bring back?
What is your favorite Christmas memory?
What is your favorite holiday food?
What does the “Holiday Spirit” mean to you?
What is one of your favorite Christmas gifts?
How did you find out there was no Santa?
What are you most grateful for this season?
What are your favorite decorations?
What is your favorite holiday song?
What is your favorite Christmas book?
What is your favorite Christmas movie?
What is your fantasy Christmas dinner menu?
What is your most spiritual holiday experience?
What gift did you most enjoy giving?
What do you normally do the day after Christmas?
8. Once you’ve written on all the cards, you’ll have an idea how much room is left for embellishments. Glue on your strips of stamped paper and add other embellishments of your choice such as stickers, rub-ons, and anything else you have that you’d like to use.
9. Round off the corners with the corner rounder if you want to.
10. If you like you can make a matching box for the cards out of chipboard and decorate it accordingly.
I spent Christmas Day with my Dad, my brother and my boyfriend. This was my first Christmas with my boyfriend Ray, and while he had met my Dad and brother before I thought that if we asked each other the questions on the cards it would be a good way to get to know each other better and also be a good conversation starter. I think it worked well, I learned a lot I didn’t know and we had a great conversation. Thanks to Dad, Larry and Ray for being open minded enough to tolerate the experiment! I gave Dad a set – they make a good host/hostess gift!
These cards could be a great prompt for other holiday activities such as a daily anticipatory activity for December or a family journal or album. Use your imagination and have fun!
I’ll have one extra set of 15 cards for sale at the studio shortly, so if you want dibs on it please contact me.
I make a lot of 6 x 6 inch pages for handmade journals. When you cut a 6 x 6 inch piece of paper out of an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper you’re left with a lot of leftover 8.5 x 5 inch pieces. Here is a project that will use up those extra pieces and possibly some of your other paper scraps as well. If you’re a regular reader of mine you know I try not to waste anything!
What you’ll need:
Text weight paper
Self-healing cutting mat
Metal ruler Bone folder/burnishing tool
Clean scrap paper
Awl or needle tool
Small hole punch Brads
Heavy thread or lightweight cord
1. Download the template Mini Album and print it out to use as a guide.
2. Cut out a piece of 8.5 x 4.75 inch card stock. Fold in half.
3. Out of decorative papers, cut 2 8.5 x 1 pieces and 4 4.75 x 1 pieces.
4. Fold one of the 4.75 x 1 inch pieces lengthwise and make a sharp crease with the bone folder. Flatten out and apply glue to the back. Glue down on the inside fold seam and burnish well (see A on template).
5. Fold and glue two more 4.75 inch pieces to the edges (see B on template).
6. Fold and glue 8.5 x 1 inch pieces to top and bottom edges (see C on template). Burnish all well.
7. Fold another of the 4.75 x 1 inch pieces lengthwise and make a sharp crease with the bone folder. Flatten out and apply glue to the back. Glue down on the outside spine and burnish well (see A on template).
8. Cut out four pieces of 4.25 x 3.75 inch decorative paper. They can be all the same or all different. Glue to the front and back covers, inside and out. If you want to decorate the front cover further with more embellishments you can. Burnish all well.
9. Cut out front and back pocket pieces, fold in tabs and tape in place with double-sided tape.
10. Cut out twelve pieces of 8.25 x 4.75 text-weight paper. Fold all in half and nest pages. Use paper cutter to trim the paper that sticks out.
11. Using template as a guide for placement, punch four holes in the front cover with an awl, needle tool or small hole punch, and four holes in the back. Push brads in holes.
12. Using template as a guide, punch small holes in spine of paper and album cover with awl or needle tool.
13. Cut off a piece of cord that is about 28″ long. Thread the cord onto a needle and poke into the top first hole from the outside in, leaving about 7″ of cord trailing.
13. Run cord through the rest of the holes according to this sequence – second hole inside to out, third hole outside to in, fourth and bottom hole inside to out, third hole outside to in, second hole inside to out, then tie off. Add beads to cord if you want.
I had so much fun participating in a sketch challenge recently that I decided to make an effort to enter more. RubberStampMadness magazine is currently running a Filmstrip Challenge which appealed to me. Above is my entry. There are still a few days left before the deadline if you want to get in on the fun – here are the entry guidelines.
Though I’ve been rubber stamping for well over 20 years, I haven’t done a whole lot of coloring in of rubber stamps. This project helped me to get some practice and was an opportunity to experiment with mixed media.
The first thing I did was to cut out a bunch of 2 x 2 inch and 2 x 3 inch pieces of scrap paper which would become the individual “frames” in the finished artwork. Then I stamped images on them in black waterproof ink.
The next step was to give each section it’s own background color with decorative chalks and old eyeshadow. To apply I used Q-tips, sponge tip makeup applicators and Fantastix by Tsukineko which are a great help in getting color into tight areas around the edges of the stamped images.
Next I sprayed the paper pieces with workable spray fixative to hold the chalk in place, then I coated them with a thin layer of matte medium and let it dry. The workable fixative allowed me to brush on matte medium without the powders smearing and the purpose of the matte medium is twofold – it’s the glue I will use to attach the images and words I cut from magazines, and it keeps the markers I’ll apply later from smearing the black ink that I stamped.
The next step was to figure out words to put in the word and thought balloons I had stamped. It would be a lot of fun to tell a coherent, planned out story with this format but I couldn’t think of any ideas for a story so I did what I often do, I relied on the random and let my subconscious guide me. Cutting out pictures from magazines has been a reliable way for me to tap into the subconscious part of my brain for decades. I picked up some discarded magazines that I hadn’t cut up yet and went through them looking for words that piqued my interest. Along the way I cut out appealing pictures – some I put aside to use in other projects and a few I used for this one. I grouped the words on my work surface into combinations that appealed to me and matched the words or groups of words with images. Some of the results make sense to me, some don’t and it’s likely the ones that mean something to me won’t mean the same thing to others and vice versa. That’s one of the fun things about art!
I then glued the cut-out images and words in place by brushing the backs of them with matte medium and smoothing them in place with an old credit card. One way to reduce the risk of wrinkling the paper is to coat both sides of the pieces with matte medium and let dry before wetting the backs again to apply. It’s extra work but it’s worth it for good results. You can speed up drying with a heat tool so your work session isn’t interrupted. (It sounds funny to say “work session” – this was play!)
If you prefer instead of gluing in cut-out words you can write words in the balloons or use word rubber stamps or stickers.
My next step was to take each section and highlight the stamped images with a little color here and there and add some texture to the backgrounds with stencils from The Crafter’s Workshop. I like the way some of the textures vaguely suggest the “dot gain” effect that you often see in comic books. My coloring implements for this project were Sharpie markers and Prismacolor pencils. Both will color just fine over the matte medium but if you want to use different media, do some tests on scrap paper first to see if the surface will accept the color. I could have made masks to protect the areas I did not want to stencil on but to save work I relied on my eye to tell me where to stop. I only went onto the white word areas on a couple of spots so I decided to touch up these areas later with acrylic paint to disguise my mistakes. If you decide to sponge ink through the stencils you will need to make masks.
I glued the individual “frame” pieces down on a piece of archival cardstock with Yes Glue. Then I got out a tiny paintbrush and touched up the white areas and I liked the way the bright white looked so I added white highlights here and there all over the artwork where I thought it needed it. I liked the effect, it added a little extra “pop”.
The next image shows what my artwork looked like before I scanned it and added digital enhancements.
After scanning in the image, I opened it up in Photoshop and added a layer for a faux filmstrip effect which I made from a couple of these free digistamps. I may print out this “filmstrip” layer on clear transparency film and mount it over the original artwork with brads or eyelets to display it.