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Author Archive | Suzy Haghighi

Posi-Bendr Bow-Easy

The Posi-Bendr Bow-Easy is a simple yet handy invention for tying the perfect bow quickly and easily. Before I get into my review of the Bow-Easy, allow me the indulgence of a bit of reminiscing about the woman behind this tool. After all, the crafting industry is a personal one; paper and glue bond more than our cards together.

Valera Scott has been in the crafting industry for 40 years and has shaped the industry in amazing ways. She has so many wonderful stories to tell. In a brief e-mail interview she mused about the early days of crafting: “The first trade show we had shown the Bow-Easy at was the HIA (now CHA) show in Chicago in about 1982. They had a one day consumer show the Saturday prior to the Trade Show opening on Sunday. That HIA show was also the first show to introduce the use of using embossing powders with ink and rubber stamps. I remember it was extremely hard to get Ranger (then the predominant embossing powder house in the country) to even sell to us. They had no idea what this “Craft Industry” thing was and really were not interested in participating. As with many of our inventions, we were about a decade too early. Needless to say, we could not get the “craft stores” interested. It was just too different at that time.”

The invention of the Bow-Easy came about in 1980 when Valera was only 10 years old and crafting with her mother Betty Scott. As they sat making hundreds of very small bows for a charity project, the invention of the Bow-Easy dawned upon Betty.

Stamp by Toodles & Binks

How It Works
The Bow-Easy is a flat, plastic slotted tool about 4.5×4.5 inches square. It goes beyond dowel and fingers to not only be an extra hand for you as you loop ribbon into a bow, but also to help shape the bow into a perfect pretty little thing.


The original Bow-Easy, which retails for $6 US, can make seven sizes of bows: 3/4 inch, 1 inch, 1 1/4, 1 3/8, 1 3/4, 2 3/8, and 2 3/4 using widths of ribbon from super thin cord style to 3/4 inch wide ribbon.

I admit I had quite the time figuring the instructions out. I am a visual learner and the 2D illustrations and written instructions got me quite confused. I was ready to give up but then I saw Jerri Jimenez’s Video Tutorial, and Sharon Johnson’s wonderful Picture Tutorial. When you realize that each “leg” is a loop of your bow, and the middle slot is where the knot will be, it is a lot easier to understand. You are looping around the whole leg (both sets) then dividing the large loop into a bow by running a tail of ribbon through the center slot. As I make bows “rabbit ears” style, which starts with two loops, this concept was hard for me to grasp at first.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous Bows – even teeny tiny ones look perfect!
  • Double and triple loop bows
  • Inexpensive
  • Made of sturdy plastic that will last

Cons:

  • Legs not marked for size
  • Written instructions were difficult for me to follow

I do recommend practicing on some cheap ribbon that you do not mind ruining until you get the hang of it. Once I figured out how to use it, I fell in love with the Bow-Easy. I admit to being a previously bow-challenged kind of crafter. No longer do I need to tinker and pull and twist forever to make a bow look pretty. Yay! While the instructions say that you are limited to up to 3/4 width ribbon, I found that one set of legs allowed for 1 1/2 inch wide ribbon or even wider if you scrunch it temporarily. Posi-Bendr now makes a larger Bow-Easy that will make larger flat bows in 4, 5, 6 and 8 inch sizes.

The original Bow-Easy retails for $6; the larger Bow-Easy #2 retails for $10.


Vendor Spotlight: Sharpie

Reported by Suzy Haghighi

Since 1964 Sharpie Markers by Sanford Corp have been a staple in homes and offices around the world. Moms use them to label children’s clothing and backpacks, students scribble with them on countless CDs, even celebs use them to sign autographs. President Bush used Sharpies personalized with his signature exclusively in the White House.

Sharpies now come in 39 colors and seven varieties, ranging in tip size from Ultra Fine to Magnum. Rather than messing with the success of what goes into their flagship product, the Permanent Marker, Sharpie has designed a sleek, modern and ultra cool casing for their utilitarian fine tip marker. The Stainless Steel Sharpie has it’s name and logo engraved onto the body, has a great comfortable grip despite the larger size, and is so pretty you won’t want to hide it in the tool drawer. It retails for about $7 US as opposed to the $1.79 for the regular Sharpie. I took this pretty pen on a craft spin to see how I would like it.

Cards made with Magnolia Stamps using Sharpie Permanent and Water Based Markers

I discovered that my favorite ways to use the Permanent markers are for outlining or coloring on acetate. Sharpie Permanent Markers adhere to most surfaces and contains pigments and dyes that are almost impossible to remove (depending upon the surface written on). Glossy surfaces are notorious for not allowing ink to stick to it – it either beads or wipes away. Not with these babies.

The permanent nature of the pen and the wonderful way it bonds to surfaces makes it hard to shade and blend in coloring. Sharpie knows and capitalizes on this in their advertising: The strong, bold ink serves as muse for the company’s slogan Write Out Loud.

While I use Copic Alcohol Markers to color, I love using Sharpies on my cards when I want a really strong, bold ink for accenting. I used the Ultra Fine Tip to create faux stitching on one card, and the Stainless Steel Sharpie with its traditional fine tip to create polka dots on an acetate card, red pencils, and a painted wooden ladybug. The marker was also used over my Copics to color in the polka dots. The ink looks great on all of my projects; the ultra fine did not bleed into my paper or slip on the paint or pencils. It dried quickly on the acetate and the pencil coating; it did however pool a bit on the acetate (see pic below).

Please note a fine tip is rather wide for card making purposes. It could not be used for journaling or writing small letters, however, the Ultra Fine could. The solvent in Sharpie Permanent Markers does contain Propanol so they are not considered acid-free. While I would not use these for archival craft work such as scrapbooking, I have no problem using them on cards.

The Sharpie Water Based Extra Fine Paint Pens in White is also great for accenting over my Copic Marker work and is archival quality and acid-free. I used it here to highlight hair and the ladybug’s face. White is an almost impossible color to formulate without using pigment (as opposed to dye-based inks). These skip less than my white gel pens while remaining about 50% opaque (see picture above). The white is bright which makes them great for accent work or dotting snow on cards, but you do have to be careful of the valve-action tip. While the point is extra fine, the ink is rather watery and seeps out of the valve-action tip when pressed. To avoid problems I press and release the valve over copy paper then do my accenting.

I am not sure if Sharpie Oil Based Paint Pens are acid-free, but they do state that they are xylene-free. They are more opaque than the Water Based Paint Pens, write better, and can be used on any surface. The ink was not watery at all and the color seemed bolder to me.

Besides being useful, Sharpies are also economical and long lasting: someone did a rather scientific measurement to see how long a Sharpie lasts and estimated the total writing distance to be 1800 feet, which is quite impressive. That person is much more organized than I am — I can honestly say I have never run out of ink on my own before I lose them. They need to make a Sharpie with GPS.

Pros:

  • Economical
  • Long lasting
  • Strong, bold ink color
  • Writes on many surfaces
  • Multipurpose types for all craft needs
  • Great for use with acetate or other smooth surfaces

Cons:

  • Limited color variety
  • Bold, strong ink is not good for blending, line marks
  • The lids do not really match the inks so it is best to make a color chart
  • Tips tend to dry quickly
  • Permanent marker bleeds through thin and fibrous papers, fabrics and cloth
  • Paint Marker ink clogs a bit or leaks from valve, can also “spit” ink onto your work

Where to Buy:
Wal-Mart (Sharpie Permanent Marker in assorted colors for $14.88 US)
Office Supply Stores such as Office Depot (12 pack of Permanent Fine Point Black for $7.79)
Amazon.com (Stainless Steel Sharpie Permanent Marker for $5.99)
Wallack’s (Sharpie Paint Extra Fine Oil Based Marker in White for $3.47)

In conclusion I give the Sharpie Permanent Markers a 9/10 and Sharpie Paint Markers a 7/10 overall. As a card maker, Sharpies will not replace my beloved (and much more expensive) Copics, but they are fantastic for certain uses on my cards that make them an indispensable tool that belongs in everyone’s craft room. They are fantastic on acetate or plastic products – the color stays bright and bold, and does not budge once put on a surface. On paper they are bad for blending, but great for pops of permanent color. How do YOU use Sharpies in the craft room?

Follow up: There was a comment in one of our articles about the Sharpie Water Based pens no longer being available. I am happy to announce from our contact with Sharpie that they are continuing to be made, there was only a packaging change. So go get some today!!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Ranger Ink Liquid Pearls

Reported by Suzy Haghighi

I sometimes think that I make the world’s most expensive cards. I started this hobby to SAVE money – I hate to think about how much goes into each little work of art after I add all the layers and embellishments. Hallmark is pointing and laughing at me right now. I hear you laughing too! While I refuse to give up my costly embellishments, I do have at least one inexpensive weapon in my card making and scrapbooking arsenal: Liquid Pearls by Ranger Ink.

Liquid Pearls by Ranger Ink is a dimensional paint-like medium with a subtle pearlescence that is used to embellish, paint, or glue paper and fabric projects. Imagine pearlized 3D Puff Paint with a super fine applicator tip bottle allows that you to control flow to write, draw, or create even the tiniest of polka dots. The product comes .5 ounce size bottles, and is available in 13 colors.

Talk about cheap thrills: I can create SO many different kinds of embellishments and detail work for my cards, for about $2 a bottle. With the economy the way it is, we are all looking for ways to save, and this definitely fits the budget. The color I use most is White Opal, which is like an off-white pearl, or Platinum, which has just a touch more ivory in it. The names of the colors can be tricky – for example, Gold is really more of a yellow, and Silver is more a light gray. Most of the colors are light or pastel (Ruby Red and Emerald Green being the exceptions); I do wish they would come out with deeper, more metallic colors.

Project Ideas
Despite the limited color choices, Liquid Pearls is so versatile. Here are just a few of the things I have done with it:

Hellebore Flowers by Magnolia Stamps with White Opal Liquid Pearls

My most common use for Liquid Pearls is applying it in dots onto my cards in place of faux flatback pearls on my projects. To the left you can see that the applicator tip allows you to do dots of different sizes, even fine detail work (Stampin Up! stamp with Ruby Red Liquid Pearls).

I also love to embellish flowers with Liquid Pearls as you see in the photo above.

Images by Magnolia Stamps and Stampin’ Up!

You can create rosettes with Liquid Pearls too! Here I swirled Ruby Red Liquid Pearls into a blob of Pastel Rasberry with my paper piercer, then added “leaves” with markers and a bit of Mint Green.

The white flowers are another embellishment I created by shaping paper punched flowers and topping them with rosettes. Note the tiny dots of different sizes; the applicator tip allows you great flow control.

Inkadinkado Stamp with White Opal Liquid Pearls and Cinnamon Stickles


Apply and swirl Liquid Pearls with a toothpick to get a puffy froth or whip cream finish for coffee and cocoa. Swirl in a tiny drop of brown dye based ink or Cinnamon Stickles Glitter Glue (also made by Ranger).

Try “painting” paper flowers or die cuts with it, then sprinkling glitter. Liquid Pearls doubles as a glue that binds the glitter to the flower. You can create your own flourishes or write letters with it too. I die cut letters then paint them with Liquid Pearls for puffy letters. Add glitter, or even a dusting of cinnamon for a scented card.

Working with Liquid Pearls

Always make Liquid Pearls the last step in your projects because of the long drying time (at least 1-2 hours, more if you apply it thickly). I can’t tell you how many projects I have ruined due to impatience.

Liquid Pearls has a tendency to apply to paper in a pointy cone shape when you separate the product from the applicator tip. To prevent the pointy look of the Liquid Pearls when it flows from the nozzle, apply then gently flick the back of the paper until the Liquid Pearls is rounded. Try this on copy paper first as you need the right pressure. Make sure to hold the paper evenly as well; if it is tilted the Liquid Pearls will move in the direction of tilt.

Control the size of the dot/thickness of your line by squeezing the bottle: the more you squeeze the greater the flow. Always start on copy paper – sometimes a thick glob of the Liquid Pearls comes out at first. To avoid my bonehead move that I do ALL THE TIME, throw away that darn copy paper or cover it with another sheet of paper. I always end up ruining the back of my card by placing it on copy paper that has the slow to dry Liquid Pearls on it. @$*&(*% AHHH every time!

A final tip to remember is that the applicator tip can become clogged. This is easily fixed by inserting a pin down the tip carefully and wiggling it around (not too much as you can stretch/tear the tip easily). Usually I can just pull the dried Liquid Pearls straight out of the tip with my fingers – it has an elastic quality that holds together when you pull it out.

Pros:

  • Versatility: draw, dot, outline, color-in or write on paper and fabric
  • Inexpensive way to embellish your projects.
  • Sticks well to your project: no more faux pearls falling off!
  • Fine point applicator tip allows you to write, draw, or make even the tiniest of dots
  • Acid-free and non-toxic
  • Works on fabric (requires 24 hour drying time and 3 days before you can wash the fabric)
  • waterproof

Cons:

  • Limited color selection
  • Applicator tip can become clogged
  • Separates from the applicator tip in pointy cones
  • Long drying time
  • Even after it is dry, Liquid Pearls can be ruined by pressure – for example if you touch it with your nails the pressure mark can remain. I have also had thicker applications of Liquid Pearls “smoosh” during mailing.
  • Can freeze in very cold weather, or dry out if unused for a long time or left uncapped

Where to buy:
Sweet ‘n Sassy Stamps (online, $2 US; ships internationally)
Ellen Hutson (online, $2.25; ships internationally)
JoAnn Fabric and Craft Store (retails for $2.29)

In conclusion, I rate Liquid Pearls a 9 out of 10; it is a fun and versatile embellishment tool for the crafter, and is easy on your budget. I use it almost every day in my card-making to give my project an extra dimensional pop; that says a lot for the product as I am quite fickle and tend to move on to other shiny new crafting toys with great speed.

What has your experience been with Liquid Pearls? How do you use it on your projects? Our readers would love to hear YOUR tips and ideas!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Spolight: Ribbon Ring (Day 3, Post 1)

Reported by Suzy Haghighi

When it comes to ribbon, I have different forms of organization to suit bulk, spool and scrap ribbon. My spool ribbon, the easiest to organize, is organized on a rack side-by-side. No problem there, but I find the bulk of my ribbon stash is purchased in loose 3-5 yard increments that I wrap around old fashioned wooden clothespins, organized into large jars according to color. As I use up the ribbon on the clothespins, however, I am left with smaller lengths of ribbon that really have no where to go. *Shakes fist at those pesky stragglers* Too short to wrap, too long to toss, these stragglers cost me a ton of space and organizational chaos that just drives me nuts. When I was asked to give the Ribbon Ring a spin, I thought, why not?



The Ribbon Ring is a ribbon organizational system that consists of metal rings (the sizes begin at .75 and go up to 3 inches) and slotted plastic tags. The tags have a textured, matte side (the front) and a shiny, smooth side. Each tag can hold more than one ribbon, depending upon width: the slot on the Standard Tag is 1.125’ wide; the slot on the Jumbo Tag is 2” wide. The picture above shows the 30 Standard Tag Bundle and two and three inch metal rings, which are purchased separately.

The Ribbon Ring Starter Set is $8 U.S. and comes with one 2 inch metal ring & 30 Standard sized tags. This package held about 60 yards of ribbon for me (2 yards of ½ inch ribbon side by side on 1 tag). You can buy both the Jumbo and Standard tags in bulk (without the rings), as well as different sized rings to fit your needs. Ribbon Ring recommends the length of ribbon used in their system to be about one yard. The packages include black inventory dots to use as a reminder for the extra ribbon you cut and store.


How the Ribbon Ring System works:

  • Hold a tag with the hole for the ring on top, textured side as the front.
  • Insert an approximately 1 yard length of ribbon into the bottom slot of a tag from the back to front (1 in the picture above), fit it through the top slot from front to back (2), then into the middle slot from back to front (3), then back down the bottom slot from front to back (4). That sounds so confusing, doesn’t it? Thankfully, every package comes with a piece of ribbon fit into a tag so that you can see exactly how it’s done in person. Trust me; it’s very easy once you are looking at it. Weaving your ribbon through the slots ensures it stays in place on the tag.
  • Put your ribboned tag on the ring. You can also combine the smaller rings that hold the ribbon onto one larger ring so more than one bundle can stay in one place.

How you choose to organize your ribbon is up to you. I used the Ribbon Ring to organize ribbon for my “inspiration station” – the corner of my craft room where I collect seasonal, matching papers and embellishments for easy access. I find that I tend to work according to seasons, so having my ribbon organized this way has really streamlined my creative process. I also keep a neutral ring for the neutrals I tend to use the most: different types of ribbon in black, white, brown and gray.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive way to keep ribbon easily in view and at hand, so you are more likely to use it.
  • Compact, easy solution for storage that is attractive- who can resist strands of luscious ribbon dangling on the wall, beckoning, like craft Sirens, to be used?
  • Great way to tame the unruly ribbon monster – it keeps the ribbon tangle free
  • Room to grow – as your ribbon collection grows, you simply add more tags and rings.
  • Great for travel – take your ribbon stash to your next crop!
  • Did I mention how purty it looks hanging in your craft room??

Cons:

  • Initial organization takes time (what system doesn’t though?)
  • Left uncovered, your ribbon could get dusty (unless you USE IT *wink*)
  • The slot could potentially crimp/wrinkle delicate ribbon such as silk and velvet
  • Not for sizes a lot smaller or longer than 1 yard
  • The sticker dot system is ineffective for lazy, unorganized people like me who will forget to add a dot. I also can’t bear to cut ribbon unnecessarily – it’s a thing I have.

The Ribbon Ring system is available only online at the moment at Ribbon Ring, and at other online retailers such as Scrapbook.com (currently sold out). Shipping is inexpensive and available globally at the Ribbon Ring store; no U.S. sales tax is charged.

In conclusion, I would rate this product a 9 out of 10. I recommend the Ribbon Ring as part of a ribbon storage system because it is simple to use, inexpensive, effective and pretty. I must say all the bright happy lengths of ribbon look so attractive hanging on the rings, and I am now more likely to use those yard length pieces as I can actually see them and have them at hand to easily test against a card. Before I had to dig it out, unroll it, hold it up. This saves a lot of work. Because of length limitation, it is not the only ribbon storage solution you will ever need, but I have yet to find one that is.

How do you currently store your ribbon? Would the ribbon ring be useful to you? How would you organize your ribbon? By color, type, brand, collection, or season? Inquiring, disorganized minds want to know!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

New Imaginisce

Reported by Suzy Haghighi



Imaginisce has created I-Top for you to build your own brads and buttons using photos, fabric, papers and more. There are papers, templates and punches in all kinds of fun shapes for you to create with. The center of the flowers above were created with them. It is easy to use and quite fun.

I-Top template.

There is also a new carrying case to store your I-Top and accessories. This is the prototype – the color will change to black. Inside are several clear plastic pouches that attach to the bag with velcro – you will want this bag even if you don’t buy the I-Top – it is great for embellishments.

Here is more new Imaginisce eye candy:



Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

New at Tsukineko

by Suzy Haghighi

New for stampers is Tsukineko Ink Potion #9, a clear spray that creates watercolor effects on water based inks and markers without warping paper. It can also be used as a base for watercolor effects. The product can be used with Fantastix (a plastic pen like tool with a soft spongy applicator).

Also new are the Staz-On Four and Six Color Workstations for a new way to use your old favorite ink. While there are no new Staz-On colors, the ink are in new small .5 fl. oz containers that allow dipping with the included Fantastix. The Four color workstation contains 4 brush tipped Fantastix, 4 bullet tipped Fantastix, an ink dropper and ink mixing wells. The Six Color Workstation will include 6 each of bullet and brush tipped Fantastix, an ink dropper and an acrylic workstation. The clear acrylic pails and cards on the left were created with these.
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

CHA Day Two

By Suzy Haghighi

Day two began with a bang at CHA: the entire Convntion Center was evacuated due to a fire alarm. Everyone was allowed back in within minutes.

One interesting new product for vendors is the Flash Stamp Machine seen at the JustRite stampers. Developed by Craig Petersen of Millenium Marketing Company, the parent company of JustRite, the FSM and FSM Mini allows you to create your very own stamps in minutes. This technology has been available to commercial machines that cost $3500 , but Petersen hopes to see his model in small craft stores for about $400 retail.

To create the stamp, you print your image on vellum using an ink jet printer. Next you cover it with clear film, place the special “flash rubber” over the design, and put it in the box for about 50 seconds. The stamp is then created and put on an acrylic block and stamped. The only drawback at this time is that the stamp can only accept one color – but will do multiple impressions. It soaks up the ink almost like a sponge and keeps going. Petersen envisions a library of online images available for this machine with a download and small fee similar to iTunes. A demonstration of how the product is created, and his hopes for the future of this product can be seen here. Warning: the video is unedited and quite long (about 10 minutes).

Stamping Superstar Sharon Harnist teaching a fun make and take at the JustRite booth with new stamps and the new JustRite dye ink that is sized to fit their round wood stamps.

Look for new, larger sized Robin’s Nest Dew Drops soon. These Dew Drops are dyed throughout the drop rather than only superficially dyed as the smaller ones are. Here are the new Cherry Chocolate Drops. Other new colors include metallic colors, Solid Black, Solid White, and Dark Vanilla, which is a cream/tan/brown mix.

Diana Crick demonstrating the new Scor-Bug by Scor-Pal, which leaves pretty indented dots on your paper.

New Copic Brand Spica Atyou Glitter Pen colors – there will now be 23 plus Clear.

New dies at Ellison/Sizzix. Love the pretty cupcake cups and 3D pop up die cuts, which include the cutest house and three tier cake.
Stay tuned for more from CHA!
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!