I work on a lot of small scale stamping projects and I stamp a lot of tiny stamps, many unmounted. Sometimes I stamp things like little words for collages, mini greetings for tags and cards, or dates or days of the week for planners and journals. I like to stamp a lot of extra paper pieces for future projects when I get my stamps out – it saves a lot of time.
When I stamp a lot of tiny stamps at a time, the task is a lot easier if I tear a bunch of paper strips with a ruler then temporarily attach the ends to a piece of scrap plexiglass with rubber bands or tape. Otherwise the paper strips are kind of hard to keep in place for a clean print since they are so light and the ends tend to curl a bit.
I use the fronts and the sides of small acrylic stamping blocks to temporarily mount my tiny stamps with double-sided tape. I’m not that fussy about keeping the blocks clean since I usually stamp in black. But every once in awhile I’ll scrub them with stamp cleaner or Simple Green cleaner when they get too inked up to see what I’m doing. One of the reasons to use clear acrylic blocks is to see where you are stamping! If it’s not that critical to be precise you can use any small object that you can tape a stamp to and don’t mind getting inky as a temporary mount, for example I often use the lids of pill bottles or the edges of Tic-Tac containers.
Tag Art Template (scroll up and alt-click to download or get PDF – PDF Tag Art Template) Ball point pen Medium weight black marker Black rubber stamping ink Rubber stamps with sentiments Light colored, light weight paper Assorted paper scraps in a selected color scheme – I used neutrals in this demo Clean scrap paper Ruler Bone folder or squeegee Scissors Glue sticks Hole punch String, twine, or embroidery floss
Download my .jpeg graphic Tag Art Template above. If you prefer a PDF file here is a link – PDF Tag Art Template. Print it out onto cardstock if you can, or print it on regular paper and glue it to cardstock for stiffness and durability. Cut around the tags and punch the holes. Now you have a set of tag templates ready to use.
2. Trace the tag shapes onto assorted cardstock pieces. If you have scraps this is a good way to use some up. Cut out the tags close to the lines you drew, but a little outside. That will help you cut a clean edge later.
3. Pick out some light-colored paper that complements your chosen color scheme. Use a ruler as a straight edge to tear the paper into strips. Stamp greetings and sentiments onto the paper pieces with black stamping ink.
4. Place the tags on your work surface with the outlined sides down on clean scrap paper. Glue a sentiment on the front of each tag. Fill in the rest of the tag with paper scraps. Tear them into narrow strips with the ruler if you need to.
5. Trim the tags following the pen line on the back and punch out the holes.
6. Outline the tags with a black sharpie marker
7. Select two or three strands of string, twine or embroidery floss and thread through the holes with a lark’s head knot.
Once you have made the tags, what can you do with them?
Put one on the front of a greeting card.
Decorate a gift package.
Use as a bookmark.
Make a tag book.
Enhance a shadow box.
Incorporate into scrapbook or journal pages.
Make a decorative seasonal garland.
Make motivational notes for yourself.
Create decorative door hangers.
Label bottles or jars.
What else can you think of? Have fun with your tag art!
Sometimes I find and save advertising materials printed on nice paper. I might like part of the imagery, or be attracted to the weight and feel of the paper, or both. It’s sometimes less intimidating to start an art journal page on paper that already has something on it than a blank piece of paper. In this article I’ll show you two ways to creatively alter found papers with text on them.
Tools and Materials Assorted found papers and scrap papers Clean scrap paper Stencils Markers and other drawing and coloring implements of choice Painter’s tape or masking tape Scissors Glue stick Burnishing tool
First, select a piece of paper with text on it, and a stencil. Tape the stencil in place over the text. Using the marking implement of your choice, outline the openings in the stencil only in the spots where there is text to cover.
This results in an interesting effect. The text turns into a texture rather than something you read, and the resulting graphic effect might suggest what to do next to finish the composition. You might decide to color in some or all of the outlines you just traced over the text.
In the example above, since I’ve used permanent black Sharpie markers, I can use almost any medium I want to add color if I want to.
There is no need to restrict yourself to using a black marker. My brother got off to a very good start on this page. He took advantage of the pale text to use colored Sharpie markers. If he wants to work on this page more it has a lot of potential. Note: my brother died about three weeks after making this page. I don’t know if I’m going to add to it or keep it as is, but it’s in my art journal.
I have a real weakness for amoeba shapes and any graphics that suggest mid-century modern imagery. I cut these blocks of text from a magazine because of the pretty shapes and colors backing some of the text.
The article I took these cutouts from was about work-life balance. There are some words in these paragraphs that would be good to have in my art journal, which I use as a self-care tool as well as for creative expression. I covered up the words I didn’t want to see with strips of scrap paper and left exposed the words I did want to see. When the glue was dry enough to handle, I trimmed the shapes. Toward the end, I got tired of gluing paper strips and for the last few lines I wanted to cover, I used a yellow opaque paint marker to finish off these pieces.
Some people compose prose or poetry this way, by removing words instead of writing them to make new compositions. In this sample I was mainly interested in making a visual statement, and I treated the words as random elements. But if you wanted to, you could make a carefully considered visual AND literary statement by selectively covering words.
Here is a two-page spread using both techniques from this article together. I think these two pages are almost complete. I’ll think about them for awhile before doing anything else to them, if I decide they need more.
It helps that these two found pages here were already strong graphically, which was part of the reason why I was attracted to them in the first place.
Following are more art journal pages that I started by selectively covering text. Enjoy!
Many years ago, as one of my Mail Art projects, I used to fold two-inch wide pieces of paper into little accordion books and decorate them with rubber stamps and pieces of paper that I cut out from incoming Mail Art and decorated envelopes. I carved a rubber stamp with a little graphic of a Mail Box and the words “Bits of Mail” to stamp on the little book covers. Before sending them out, I dated and numbered them on the back. I saved one example for my archives and made a few color copies to use later as collage inspirations. While I was getting the color copies made, it came up in conversation with the copy center worker that one of the black and white machines had red toner in it. I made a lot of copies with the red toner because I knew I’d find uses for the copies later!
Some of my old collage papers along with my Mail Archives had been in storage unseen for 20 years or more. I’ve been getting some of them out lately as I move stuff. With fresh eyes, I’m getting some new ideas and inspiration for improving old ideas. I decided to take these old copies and make new versions of the mini accordion books.
First I cut up the copies that weren’t already in strips into two inch wide pieces, the same size as the originals. Then I folded them and glued one red ink copy to one color copy back to back to make longer books.
I had a large paper crafting stash by 1998 already because I started making collages in 1985 in my first college design class and I’ve been collecting interesting papers for collages ever since. In the intervening years, there are a lot more paper crafting supplies available and some of them are a lot more to my taste than what was available in the late 1990s. Back in the day I would have said I was a “weird” stamper not a “cute” stamper. I also enjoy sophisticated antique imagery and have a lot of papers from two of my favorite brands, Tim Holtz and 7 Gypsies, in my stash. I decided that the Tim Holtz idea-ology Correspondence paper pad was a good fit for this project and I glued some of the postal themed textures onto a selection of the blank pages of my books. The dominant colors in this series are red white and blue which looks good with the red toner ink on some of my papers and the postal motifs fit the “Bits of Mail” theme.
Next I went through I box of paper scraps that I keep for teaching a card class that I run from time to time on how to make greeting cards from little scraps, rubber stamps and stencils. I took out a selection of papers that I thought would make good backgrounds and glued them in a random fashion to every other page, leaving some blank.
There is an old trick that I learned in drawing class long ago to help get unstuck if you are facing a blank piece of paper with no ideas – draw a quick frame around your drawing area before you start. This helps because it’s less daunting to start drawing on a paper that you’ve made some marks on than a blank surface. I get the same creative boost from using scrap papers for perhaps a similar reason – there is already some content there, however sparse and random, and that is often all I need to get me going in a creative direction.
The little accordion books I’ve made are pictured above ready to add content. What kind of content would that be? There are lots of things I could do with these little books. I could write, draw, stamp or paste in words and/or images to make a finished artistic statement. I could use them as a storage and display folio for tiny works of art such as postage stamps, faux postage stamps or tiny photos and images. I could send them off into the Mail Art network as an “add and pass on” project. What would you make?
For additional inspiration, here are some samples of tiny books made by other people that I’ve received through the mail over the years. People of any age and ability level can make tiny books. Why not try one?
Do you like adult coloring but don’t feel completely satisfied coloring someone else’s designs? Here is how you can use scrap papers and cardstock along with stencils to make custom homemade coloring books that reflect your own creative point of view.
What you will need:
White or off-white card stock
Black ball-point pen
Black Twin Tip Sharpie Permanent Marker – Fine/Ultra Fine
Bone folder or burnishing tool
Clean scrap paper
Metal binding rings
Assorted found papers that relate to coloring (pictures from magazines, old books, catalogs, etc.)
Assorted black and white images on paper (scrapbooking papers, found images) Assorted stencils (hand-cut from your own designs, commercial crafting stencils, or a combination)
1. Cut out two pieces of cardstock 8 1/2 x 6 inches for covers. Select some found images that have to do with coloring and make collages on the front and back covers by gluing these images down with a glue stick. Put a clean piece of scrap paper over your collage and rub well with a bone folder or burnisher to make sure the papers are glued down flat.
2. Cut a bunch of 8 x 5 1/2 inch pieces out of white or off-white card stock or paper. I’ll walk you through using a combination of found papers and stencils to create black and white designs to color in later on these pages. It’s intimidating to have a bunch of blank pieces of paper staring you in the face, so to begin tear some papers with black and white designs or printing on them into strips using a metal ruler a guide. Glue some of these pieces on several of your blank pages in random places and directions.
3. Further build up your designs by using a variety of stencils to draw shapes randomly on your pages. Add black and white collaged images or textures to further enhance the pages.
Coloring pages are very appealing when you use different line weights to outline areas to color. I suggest you proceed by marking some areas with a heavier line first then progressively moving down in line weight as you add more detail.
A. Outline some areas from bold stencil designs using the “Fine” tip on the Sharpie marker.
B. Go back through your pages again and add more stencil designs outlined with the “Ultra Fine” tip on the Sharpie marker.
C. Go through the pages a third time and use yet more detailed stencils to draw on the pages with the black ball-point pen.
As you build your compositions, I suggest laying pairs of pages down on your work surface that will be opposite each other in your finished book. See if you get any ideas from how they look together. Here are some examples of pairs I made to complement each other.
4. If any of your pages are made of thin enough paper to let some of the marker lines bleed through, don’t get discouraged. Redraw the design in reverse on the other side of the paper to disguise the bleed-through and create some accidental compositions that could be very appealing and lots of fun to color.
5. Punch a top and bottom hole in the cover pieces and each page and connect with binding rings to make into a book. In order to get the holes to line up correctly, you can trace the holes in the first page you punch onto subsequent pages, or make yourself a template out of scrap chipboard.
6. Have fun coloring your pages. I like to use a combination of colored ball point pens, gel pens, markers and colored pencils. If you experiment with a lot of different media and practice you will develop your own style of mark making. If you would like some inspiration for coloring styles and techniques, I have examples on an Art Journaling Pinterest board that should help you out. The most important things to remember while coloring are to have fun and don’t let expectations of how your work is supposed to look be a damper on your creativity and expression.
Do you have the patience for playing around with lots of fiddly paper bits? If so you might enjoy collecting paper scraps and making them into interesting greeting cards. I’ll show you how gluing small bits of paper to strips of scrap cardstock can give you exciting design options.
Tools and Supplies:
Self-healing cutting mat
Rubber stamps with greetings and sentiments
Permanent black rubber stamping ink
Clean scrap paper
Old food lid to use as a palette
Rubber stamping ink in complementary colors
Rubber eraser with flat sides
Palette knife and/or old credit cards for spreading glue
An assortment of recycled papers: – here are some suggested sources
Gift wrap and tissue
Used postage stamps
Magazines and catalogs
Old greeting cards
Paint sample cards
Attractive product packaging
Scrapbooking paper scraps
Scraps from your old projects
Paper company sample books and promos
Ephemera from travel – maps, brochures, tickets, etc.
I’ll show you two different card designs that you can make by collaging scraps of paper onto cardstock strips.
Make an assortment of collaged strips
1. Cut some strips from plain scrap cardstock that are 1/2 to 3/4 inches wide. Old folders are a good source of scrap cardstock weight paper.
2. Lay out a bunch of small paper scraps and glue them down in a row down each strip. You might choose papers at random or try to follow a planned color scheme. When glue is dry enough to handle, use a scissors to trim the strips from the back to make the edges even.
3. Choose a color of rubber stamping ink that will help unify your design and squirt a little of it onto an old food lid. Dip the edge of a flat-sided eraser in the ink and apply a line of ink to the edges of your collaged strips. This is a small step that makes a huge difference in the visual appeal of your finished piece.
Instructions to make card design #1:
1. Print a selection of sentiments with permanent rubber stamping ink on strips of light colored paper to use on the card that you make. Select one to use as the main theme of your card.
2. Choose a piece of scrap cardstock or heavy paper to use for the base of your card. Fold it in half. Measure the front of your card.
3. Next select a piece of thin scrap paper that would make a good background for the front of the card. Tear out a piece that is 1/2 inch smaller than the front of your card, using the metal ruler as a tearing aid.
For example, if you fold an 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inch piece of paper in half, the front of the card will measure 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches and the background paper for the front of the card should be 3 3/4 x 5 inches.
4. Next choose a simple shape to put on the front of the card – you could trace around a found object, use a cookie cutter or a stencil as a source. Trace one copy of this shape onto plain scrap cardstock. Make another tracing on the back of a piece of paper that harmonizes with the chosen colors for your card.
5. Cut out both shapes with scissors. Set aside the one in the harmonious color to glue to your card later.
6. Take the shape on plain cardstock and glue your sentiment across the middle or wherever looks best. Just below the sentiment, glue a section of one of your collaged and inked strips from earlier.
7. Moving from the inside to the edges, glue strips of scrap paper in complementary colors on either side of your sentiment and collaged strip for a striped effect. Cut around the base shape to trim when all covered.
8. Using the glue stick glue the colored shape you cut out earlier to the front of the card.
9. You will probably need some more robust glue to hold the collaged and inked shape since all the layers of paper will have made it pretty thick. Use Yes Paste to attach the striped shape to the front of the card. Trim if needed.
10. If needed, glue plain light colored scrap paper to the inside of the card to make a clean area for writing a message.
Instructions to make card design #2:
This second card design is designed to made from a piece of 4 1/4 inch by 8 1/2 inch cardstock.
1. Fold the cardstock in half and the front of the card will end up as a 4 1/4 x 4 1/4 square.
2. Cut a 3 3/4 by 3 3/4 inch square from plain scrap cardstock.
3. Glue a sentiment, a collged and inked strip and scrap paper strips to the cardstock square.
4. Trim around the square and round the corners with a corner rounding tool.
5. Glue the trimmed square to the front of the card with Yes Paste.
Extra Tips and Techniques for working with paper:
Cover up unwanted parts of found papers by laminating with other paper.
You can get wrinkles out of paper by ironing.
How does one glue down delicate tissue paper? Stabilize by gluing to a stiffer piece of paper with a glue stick and smooth out wrinkles with a bone folder.
When working on other projects, if you have leftover paint or ink use it up on plain paper scraps. Save these scraps and add to them whenever you have leftover art media. In time, you will have a lot of interesting scraps to work with.
If your paper project warps or curls, press it between heavy books with clean scrap paper around it to protect both card and books.
Embellishments that can be recycled and used on cards:
Thread, string and yarn
Ribbon and trim
Beads and charms
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.