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Paint a Patriotic Flower Pot for the Porch!

I’m so excited to be sharing my patriotic flower pot project today to help kick off the annual Red, White & Blue series at Sugar Bee Crafts, which is being run as a sort of month long blog hop this year! I look forward to seeing what all the other talented bloggers who are taking part will contribute.

[Some links in this article are affiliate links which pay a commission if a purchase is made after a click. I am part of blogger programs at Cricut and Plaid, who each provided me some products used in this article.]

patriotic flower pot

Supplies Needed:

To start my patriotic flower pot, I used the white paint and a foam paintbrush to put two coats on the rim of the pot.

painting flower pot

While my white paint was drying, I used my Cricut Explore Air 2 machine to cut out five stars from Cricut stencil vinyl. I used the Cricut Design Space basic shape tool to do this, and sized the stars so they would fit nicely on the rim of the pot.

Once the paint was dry on the rim of my patriotic flower pot, I stuck down the stars, I used a tape measure to get them evenly spaced around the rim. I measured the rim, divided it by 5 to get the spacing. I then stuck down a star, and measured from the left side of it to get to the starting point for the next star. I made sure to rub the stars down really firmly, especially at the edges, to avoid paint seeping under the edge.

star masks on flower pot

The next step once the stars were in place was to paint over the white with the Apple Red paint. While I had only put the white on the exterior of the pot, I carried the red over the rim down a distance into the interior of the pot so that the pot would be red above the soil line. This detail helps make the pot look “finished” no matter what angle it is viewed from.

It took three coats of paint for me to get solid color coverage over the bright white color. Remember when brushing your paint on to brush out from the center of the star masks so you aren’t pushing paint under the edges of them! (If you do find paint under the masks when you remove them, the areas can be touched up with a small brush and the white paint.) Once the red paint was dry, I peeled off the star masks and my white stars were showing through the red paint!

To finish my patriotic flower pot, I used painter’s masking tape to tape around the bottom of the red rim of the pot. Then I painted the bottom of the flower pot in two coats of cobalt blue, and removed the painter’s tape.

patriotic flower pot

Once all of my paint was dry, I added a few cute annual flowers that I bought at the local garden center. My patriotic flower pot was ready to beautify the table on my back porch. Now, if only I can remember to water my poor flowers regularly!

Would you like to see more fun patriotic crafts? Visit the Red, White & Blue series at Sugar Bee Crafts, or my Easy Melt & Pour Patriotic Soap!

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Easy Melt & Pour Patriotic Soap

Not too long ago I discovered a new craft obsession: soap making! This red, white and blue melt & pour soap project that I’m bringing you today was one of my first soaping projects, so it’s perfect for beginners or soap makers of all levels.

[Some links in this article are affiliate links that pay this site a commission at no cost to the user when a purchase is made after a click.]

Red White & Blue SoapTo make this, you’ll need:

These items can be found at local soap specialty stores, ordered online, or are available at some local craft stores.

You’ll also need a kitchen scale, some spatulas, and a couple of Pyrex or other microwave safe glass bowls or measuring cups to melt your soap in.

To start, you need to chop up the clear glycerin soap and put it in a microwave container. I use large Pyrex measuring cups for melting my soap. Using 30 second bursts (or shorter when the soap is nearly melted so you don’t burn it) in the microwave, melt the soap to a liquid. Be careful not to boil it, though, by overheating it!

measuring melt and pour soap

Once the soap is melted, follow package instructions to add your fragrance. After the fragrance is mixed in, divide the soap evenly into two containers. Color one of the containers with blue and one with red.

Spritz your mold with rubbing alcohol. Pour each color into one section of your soap mold, spritz the top of the soap with rubbing alcohol to pop bubbles that were created during pouring, and allow the soap to cool. (Ignore the round one below – that is a color swirling experiment I made with some extra soap!)

melt and pour soap

It will take a few hours for the blue and red soaps to cool enough to work with. When they have, pop them out of the mold and chop part of them into small cubes. Place the cubes back into the molds, arranged randomly. (You can use the leftover red and blue soap to make more of these red white & blue bars, or as small travel soap bars, or for other soap design projects.)

melt and pour soap

Chop up the white glycerin soap just like the clear glycerin and heat it in the microwave as well using the same method. When it is melted, mix in your selected fragrance following the package directions.

Spritz the mold and the red & blue soap pieces with rubbing alcohol. Then carefully (I highly recommend using a Pyrex measuring cup with a spout for this task) pour the white soap into the mold around the red and blue soap pieces. Stop right before the white soap level reaches to tops of the colored soap pieces, so they will not get covered up. Spritz the top of the soap with rubbing alcohol to pop any bubbles that occurred on the surface from the pouring.

melt and pour patriotic soap

Leave the soap to cool for a few hours and then it can be removed from the mold! Imperfect edges can be cleaned up with a knife or by wiping the soap with a wet cloth.

melt and pour patriotic soap
And now it is time to enjoy your soap! This design makes a great way to add a festive touch to your guest bath or holiday home for July 4th.

This soap making project isn’t just for the 4th of July. A simple change in color scheme could make this a fun school spirit gift – send some off to school with your favorite college freshman!  Or make it in red and green to make Christmas holiday decor for your bathroom. The possibilities are endless, and since the soap comes in 2 pound packs, you can try several versions with your supply purchase! This is a great way to learn the basics of handling melt and pour soap.

I hope you enjoyed my soap tutorial today! If you are interested in making soap, please check out my other soapmaking articles 7 Things I’ve Learned Starting Soap Making and Celebrate Star Wars with Frozen Han Solo Soap to learn more about it!

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Giveaway | Happy Birthday to Me and Mod Podge!

Today isn’t just my birthday (although that is cause enough for celebration) – something else special is having a birthday today. It’s Mod Podge’s 50th Birthday!

National Mod Podge Day

Mod Podge is celebrating all day today (Friday) with National Mod Podge Day, starting at 9am eastern. It will be filled with livestreams, projects, and giveaways. To get all of the details visit their special Mod Podge 50th Birthday page.

But why not get the party started here and now? It’s my birthday and I’ll giveaway if I want to!

Thanks to the wonderful and generous folks at Plaid, I’ve got a package of Mod Podge goodies to give away to one lucky Craft Critique reader!

National Mod Podge Day Giveaway

This package is a $50 value and includes:

  • 8 oz. Mod Podge Gloss
  • 8 oz. Mod Podge Matte
  • 8 oz. Mod Podge Dishwasher Safe Gloss
  • 2 oz Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium
  • Mod Podge Silicone Craft Mat
  • 7 piece Mod Podge Tool Kit
  • Mod Podge 4pc Spouncer Set
  • Mod Podge 4pc Foam Brush Set

HOW TO ENTER: To enter this giveaway, leave a comment below telling me what your favorite thing is to do with Mod Podge! Deadline for entries is 11:59pm eastern time on Sunday, May 21st, 2017. One entry per person. Sorry, US entries only. Winner will be chosen by random drawing.

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How to Mod Podge a Travel Shadow Box!

You take that vacation of a lifetime, take thousands of wonderful pictures, and then come back home to the real world. You dive into the hustle and bustle of real life, and those wonderful memories stay hidden away on your computer hard drive, only to be seen when they pop up randomly on your computer’s screen saver.

[Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Plaid, the maker of Mod Podge, but all opinions expressed are my own.]

It happens to all of us, right?

In January, I got the opportunity to do something that I’ve dreamed of for decades – go to Paris! I’d longed to go back as an adult and truly appreciate it, having been when I was in grade school and lacked appreciation for the city’s art treasures and history. I came home from my two days in the city with several thousand pictures, and a determination that they would not waste away in dusty obscurity in the nether regions of my computer.

Part one of that process is creating a shadow box of my trip, with a few highlight photos from those two days. But for a trip this special, it couldn’t be just any shadow box. So, with some help from Mod Podge, I turned a plain white shadow box into a fabulous custom piece that lives up to my vision of housing memories from my trip.

Paris Shadowbox with Mod Podge

Supplies Needed:

This shadow box started with a simple – and very modern style – white shadow box that I purchased for less than $10 at a craft chain store. It was the perfect size for the project I had in mind with my Paris pictures, but far from the right style. But a little Mod Podge and artisan paper I purchased from etsy fixed that right up!

White Shadowbox

The shadow box has a soft fabric covered back in it that is designed to be used with thumb tacks or pins to attach photos and memorabilia. I opted not to use that and instead I cut a 9×9 piece of my craft paper to use as a background. I did this first thing when I started working on this project, to make sure that I could cut it from exactly the area of pattern of the paper that I wanted.

Before beginning to work on my travel shadow box project, I took apart the shadow box completely, the same as if I was putting new contents into it, and then also removed the glass. This meant that I could work without having to worry about breaking the glass, or smudging or gluing it.

The paper I used for this decoupage project, from etsy artisan artanlei is a very heavy paper, more like a heavy gift wrap than the tissue weight that is typically sold as decoupage paper. This weight to the paper is important to being able to easily fit the fit these relatively complex pieces for the frame – creases hold where you put them and the paper holds up well to being handled and marked with pencil for cut lines. Choose your paper carefully to ensure success (and fewer headaches) on a project like this!

Using a ruler, scissors, a pencil, and other tools, I dry fitted pieces to cover the four sides of the frame.(Notice how the pieces are holding the creases for the frame’s corners? Those nice creases made it super easy to fit the pieces once I starting gluing!) My pieces wrap from the front of the frame, around the side, and onto the back.

Paris Shadowbox Decoupage Paper

To glue down my paper pieces to my shadow box, I reached for most crafters’ go-to for decoupage: Mod Podge Matte. It goes on smooth, and it dries fast – but not so fast that I can’t adjust the placement of pieces as I put them on. And most importantly, it dries clear and matte, meaning that it wouldn’t leave behind tell-tale shiny spots from accidental glue smudges and smears on my paper.

Since there wasn’t enough time for my brushes to dry between cleanings in doing my gluing steps, I chose to use foam brushes for this instead of my much-loved Mod Podge Decoupage Brushes. (Note to self: Get more decoupage brushes!)

Mod Podge Matte

I glued down the pieces for the sides of my box first, by putting Mod Podge on the box surface and the paper surface. I pressed the paper into place, starting by lining up the edge of the paper along the edge on the front by the glass and smoothing it towards the first crease, bending around the corner to the sides of the box and then finally to the back edge.  To make sure that I got nice smooth adhesion, I used a brayer to roll the pieces as I pressed them on each surface.

Tip: Be sure to get your Mod Podge all the way to the edges of the paper so that you won’t have to go back and tack down edges later!

Notice how the corners of these pieces are square, even though the finished front will appear that the paper pieces have angled corners? By leaving the pieces square on the first pieces that I laid down, I didn’t have to worry about cutting two angled pieces for each corner and making them match perfectly. I could just lay the second, angled piece, over the first piece and it would create the illusion of beautifully mitred corners!

Paris Shadowbox in progress

Once the glue was dry on the first pieces that I had glued down, then I repeated the decoupage process with the pieces for the bottom and top of the shadowbox. See my nice “mitred” corner?

Notice the nice placement of that phrase along the top, and how on the sides the text is going the same direction as on the top and bottom? That’s no accident! I carefully chose the areas of the paper that I cut each piece from so that it would create the look that I wanted for my box. The “de la Republique francaise” – which translates to “of the French Republic” – seemed the perfect title for the top of my box! The positioning of the graphic elements in the bottom right corner of the box was also deliberate as well.

Paris Shadowbox in progress

Here’s a close-up look at how my corners look with the overlap that creates the mitred look.

Paris Shadowbox corner close-up

The paper extends onto the back of the shadowbox. I didn’t bother to mitre the corners on the backside. The extension of the paper to the rear of the box is simply to avoid rough or unmatched edges where the box will meet the wall. Instead, there is a nice fold, and the paper stops on the back.

Paris Shadowbox reverse

Once the box itself was done, then I turned to its contents. First I printed some of my photos from my trip as 2″ by 3″ photos, with a small border on them, and then adhered them to the background paper using Mod Podge Paper and the largest of the Mod Podge Decoupage Brushes.

Mod Podge Decoupage Brushes

Next, I wanted to embellish my box. There wasn’t a lot of room left to work with but the box needed a little something more than just my photos. I had a set of Graphic 45 Cityscapes stamps that have some small Paris themed designs in them, but how to make them dimensional? Mod Podge Podgeable Glass Domes to the rescue!

Mod Podge Podgeable Glass Domes

I stamped several of the Cityscapes 2 images on natural colored cardstock with waterproof ink that is almost exactly the same color as part of the design on my decoupage paper that I bought from etsy. Then I used some of the smaller decoupage brushes to paint Mod Podge onto the back of some of the glass domes and pressed them onto place on top of the stamped designs. Once the Mod Podge was dry, I used a craft knife to cut around the edges of the glass domes to remove them from rest of the paper, and glued them in place (with more Mod Podge, of course) on the shadowbox’s photo layout.

Mod Podge Podgeable Glass Dome

Mod Podge Podgeable Glass Domes

I still needed a few more embellishments, though. See that Eiffel Tower in the close-up above? I just knew that I had to include it in this shadow box – and it’s Mod Podge too! It’s made from the Mod Melts system of colored meltable sticks that can be used in a hot glue gun or better yet a Mod Melter to fill silicone molds to create custom embellishments. For my Paris shadowbox project, of course, I just had to use the metallic pack that contained gold Mod Melts! I used several different Mod Melts molds for my shadowbox, including the Travel and Royal Icons pictured below.

When my Mod Melts were done, I adhered them to my shadowbox by using my Mod Melter like a hot glue gun, so the glue matched the objects that I was adhering.

Mod Melts

For the last touch, I wanted to put the title “PARIS” on my box. I used wooden letters and painted them with the new FolkArt Brushed Metal paint in Brushed Gold. The paint’s color and texture almost perfectly matches the Mod Melts that I made, as well as coordinating nicely with some of the highlight tones in the paper that I used. Once they were dry I attached them to the front of the box with Mod Podge Matte.

Paris Shadowbox embellishments

The last step was to reassemble the box and put the backer in it. I just laid the sheet of paper on top of the fabric back of the shadow box and it held fine when reassembled.
Paris Shadowbox

And now, for some exciting news! Tomorrow is Mod Podge’s 50th birthday! And to celebrate, Plaid will be doing an entire day of live streams, projects and giveaways starting at 10am eastern! Don’t miss it!

Oh, and if you love Mod Podge…be sure to stop by Craft Critique tomorrow as well…hint, hint! [Update: It’s a Giveaway!!!]

National Mod Podge Day

 

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Review | Little House Coloring Book

It seems these days that there is a coloring book for almost any topic or theme that a coloring book fanatic could imagine. There is, literally, something for everyone. For coloring fans of the generation that grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and the Little House on the Prairie tv series, that something might just be the Little House Coloring Book.

[Disclosure: Some links in this article are affiliate links that pay a commission when a purchase is made after a click.]

Little House coloring book

I was gifted Laura Ingalls Wilders’ classic series of books by my grandparents for holiday gifts over a series of years when I was in elementary school. I read them obsessively and became such a fan that our family visited the Ingalls/Wilder historic sites in DeSmet, South Dakota on a family vacation during my high school years.

So when I saw the Little House Coloring Book containing some of Garth Williams’ illustrations from the most famous edition of the series – the edition that I own in hardcover – I just couldn’t resist adding it to my library of coloring books! Williams’ illustrations are just as iconic as the stories themselves.

The book contains illustrations from all of the books that are considered part of the original Little House series (Little House in the Big Woods through The First Four Years). Since the Ingalls books were not heavily illustrated and some of the illustrations were small, the coloring book adds in text elements and combines some smaller elements to make repeating patterns on pages.

Little House coloring book page

One of the challenges of working in a coloring book such as this is that you are working with and trying to emulate the style of a familiar artist. Most of the Little House illustrations from Williams that are included in the coloring book were published in black & white sketch form, so there isn’t a specific example to copy from for coloring them. But Williams’ style in the images that he did complete in full-color for the books (such as for the covers) is very beautiful and distinctive.

For those who grew up loving and admiring the Williams illustrations and want to color in that same look, you may be interested to know that Williams usually worked in colored pencil and ink wash for his children’s book illustrations (he’s also famous for illustrating other books such as Charlotte’s Web by EB White).

For the illustration above, from On the Banks of Plum Creek, I used watercolor with limited success to try to mimic the look of Garth Williams’ ink wash look. I should have diluted my colors more.  For the illustration in progress below (from the same book), I am using colored pencil with a blending pencil.  This technique has me much happier with the results compared to the look of Williams’ work, but I have still not entirely got it nailed yet.

Little House coloring book page

This coloring book has been a lovely nostalgic walk down the memory lane of one of my childhood favorites, and also an artistic challenge.

Little House Coloring Book has 90 coloring pages and a cover price of $15.99 (but is currently available on Amazon for around $11).

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How to Pickle Wash a Mother’s Day Recipe Box

I love playing with paint, and I love the distressed shabby and vintage look. Now a product has come along that has my creative soul doing a happy dance because it combines the two so perfectly and easily: Plaid Pickle Wash!

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Plaid Ambassador Program for 2017, and some products I used were provided to me as part of the program. This is not a paid/sponsored post, nor is this post a requirement of my participation in the program. Some links in this article are affiliate links.]

Pickle Wash Mother's Day Recipe Box

Supplies:

Plaid’s new Pickle Wash is an easy to apply finish that gives a whitewashed appearance to wood surfaces. It goes on as a very thin liquid (with a watery consistency). After sitting for 30 seconds, the excess is then wiped off to achieve the distressed finish. The results  – and the ease of application – have to be seen to be believed. This truly is the vintage finish that I’ve been dreaming of being able to create on my projects! And it comes in a palette of a dozen vintage friendly colors like Gypsy Rose, Soleil, Sea Glass and Celadon. And of course…Cottage White! <swoon> Oh the possibilities…I apologize in advance for the Pickle Washing spree you are probably going to be subjected to on this site now.

I decided to start experimenting with my new Plaid Pickle Wash by making myself a new recipe card box for our kitchen. (A couple of decades is probably too long to be using a plastic index card box for them, right?) This recipe box would make a great Mother’s Day gift. So happy Mother’s Day to me!

Since the Pickle Wash is so thin and soaks into the grain, it really raises the grain and emphasizes any imperfections in the surface. Unlike a paint like chalk paint, which covers a multitude of sins in a surface, Pickle Wash is not nearly so forgiving. So a good quality surface is key to getting good results. Before I started painting, I sanded my recipe box down with 320 grit sandpaper, and then removed the sanding dust with a tack cloth.

Applying the Pickle Wash finish was easy. I started on the inside of the recipe box and applied the wash with a foam brush. (This is a great way to get a feel for a new finish, by applying it in an area that won’t be seen much first.) Then after 30 seconds, I used a sheet of blue shop towel to rub off the excess. After allowing it to dry awhile, I repeated the process on the outside of the recipe box.

Pickle Wash Mother's Day Recipe Box

After allowing the Plaid Pickle Wash to dry for the required time, I wanted to stencil on it. For stenciling I reached for classic FolkArt Acrylic, in – what else? – Vintage White! It was the perfect shade of not-quite-white to apply to make my stencil look vintage. True white would have been too stark against the the distressed Pickle Wash finish.

The stencil that I chose for the front of the box was large enough that it spans over the opening of the box lid. So to keep everything in place while I stenciled it, I taped the box lid shut with painter’s tape. Then, after sticking down the self-adhesive stencil, I also taped around the edges of the stencil, since the design went very close to the edges and I didn’t want to get any paint off the edges of the stencil.

Pickle Wash Mother's Day Recipe Box

I dd my stenciling with a super dry brush. I wasn’t worried about getting thick, solid color or about missing spots, since the whole idea is for a vintage, aged look anyway.

Once the stenciling was dry, I drilled a hole in the center of the recipe box’s lid with my drill. I selected a drill bit that was just a tiny bit smaller than the diameter of the screw for my decorative knob I was planning to use.

Pickle Wash Mother's Day Recipe Box

The finishing touch for the recipe box is the decorative knob that serves as a “handle” for the lid, and which emphasizes the vintage theme of the design. I chose this faux milk glass one because the vintage white look of the faux milk glass mimics the vintage white of the stenciled design.

Pickle Wash Mother's Day Recipe Box

The decorative knob came with a really long bolt on it, which would get in the way of storing recipes inside the box. So I got out my Dremel tool and cut it off very near the nut attaching the knob to the lid.

And that is it…my Mother’s Day recipe box was completed. Now that my recipes are stored so beautifully, I might actually have to cook and use some of them!

Pickle Wash Mother's Day Recipe Box

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Review | Lawn Fawn Stamp Shammy

Every so often, a craft tool comes along that is so simple, yet so useful, that I wonder how I ever got by without it. The Lawn Fawn Stamp Shammy is one of those tools.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Lawn Fawn provided the Stamp Shammy that was used in this review to me for a separate project outside of this site, but I loved it so much I decided I wanted to share it here. Some links may be affiliate links that pay this site a commission when a purchase is made after a click, or advertiser courtesy links.]

Lawn Fawn Stamp ShammyAt first glance in the package, the Stamp Shammy (Amazon, Scrapbook.com, ACOT, Simon) is quite unassuming. In appearance it’s just a piece of turquoise cloth that is slightly under 5″ by 7″ in size. But once out of the package and soaked in water, it shows its true magic.

After being soaked in water, the Stamp Shammy turns into an all-in-one stamp cleaning solution. In my tests, it cleaned rubber and clear stamps of all inks – leaving no color behind on the stamp – except for solvent based inks such as Staz-On and Ranger Archival. Even with those solvent inks it left the stamp clean enough for the stamp to be re-used, but just left behind staining on the stamp. This included tests of pigment, dye, chalk, and hybrid inks from multiple brands.

Cleaning stamps with the Stamp Shammy does leave behind marks on the shammy cloth, but those are just cosmetic and do not mean that area cannot be used to clean another stamp. The staining may be an irritant for neat freaks, however.

Using the shammy is a simple, single step process. Just tamp or wipe your dirty stamp on the cloth until the stamp is clean. Then the stamp can be put away or immediately reused. The Stamp Shammy can also be used to wipe off my stamping block if I get ink on it while using a stamp.

Because of how simple it is to use, and the fact that it uses no consumable supplies, the Stamp Shammy is perfect for large scale repetitive stamping projects. The first project that I used my shammy for was to swatch some inks, leaving behind all of these small circles on the shammy. The shammy makes it ridiculously easy to switch colors for a project like that where you are stamping multiple times with multiple colors with the same stamp. Just stamp, swipe on the shammy, and then ink with your next color!

Lawn Fawn Stamp ShammyAnother project that the Stamp Shammy is perfect for is bullet journaling or planners. I just used it while setting up a new bullet journal, which meant stamping nearly 1000 impressions for calendar dates and events. When I was done, the cloth was quite stained from the black ink, but my shammy was cleaning fine. (The picture below was taken partway through the stamping.)

The shammy really decreased the amount of time it took to complete the calendar stamping versus my last time doing it to set up a new journal. And it made it so easy to do the special events on the calendar in a variety of colors!

Stamp Shammy Bullet JournalSince the shammy is wet while being used, I usually keep it on a thrift store plate (or a foam one) on my work surface to keep the table surface and other items from getting damp.

Lawn Fawn Stamp Shammy

Since getting my Stamp Shammy I have drastically cut back my use of baby wipes to clean my stamps – great for both my budget and the environment. I use them only rarely now!

Its size and simplicity makes the Stamp Shammy the perfect stamp cleaner for stamping on the go at the crops or while traveling. It’s small, lightweight, and there’s no containers of liquid to haul (and potentially spill). Just find a sink to run some water on it and activate it, and you’re ready to go. One shammy could serve the stamp cleaning needs of an entire table of croppers! When you are done, throw it in a zip bag to take home. (Don’t keep it sealed up too long, though – be sure to lay it out to dry so that it won’t mold while sealed up wet!)

So what is the cost of stamp cleaning miracles? The price of the Stamp Shammy – an $8 MSRP – is affordable enough that prolific stampers can buy several and stash them where they use them most – their planner kit, their stamping supplies, their crop bag, or wherever they need it. I’m already plotting to add a second one to my supplies for my planner stash!

Pros:

  • Affordable ($8 MSRP)
  • Easy to Use
  • Portable

Cons:

  • Ink stains the shammy (but it still works)
  • Won’t take out solvent inks entirely

The Lawn Fawn Stamp Shammy is available in retail stores and from online retailers (Amazon, Scrapbook.com, ACOT, Simon) for an MSRP of $8.

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