I have been stamping for more than 15 years and while I have seen techniques and trends come and go, there are a few basic tools that every stamper needs to have. I’ll start the list with six “must haves” and work down to the “nice-to-have” tools.
Reported by Cassandra Darwin
I love pens. Always have. Probably always will. And after buying hundreds of different kinds I know that some are (much) better than others. Here is a quick comparison of just a few that I happened to have handy – I tried to narrow the selection down to dark colors with pigment ink. First I’ll do a quick review of each pen, then describe a water test I conducted, and finish with summary of all the important facts.
Starting from the top of the picture:
- Acid-free and archival pigment ink
- Available in 10 colors
- 0.5 mm fine tip for writing and drawing
- Easy to hold, smooth writing, and color coded on both ends of the pen. Have not had any problems with bleeding on different paper media.
- Pigment ink that is waterproof and compatible with Copic markers
- 4 nib sizes for colors and 7 nib sizes plus two brush sizes in black (0.05 black was tested)
- Available in 6 colors
- This is like the Rolls Royce of pigment pens. Compatible with every medium, writes smoothly and easily. I plan to get more sizes and may look into buying the more expensive refillable version.
- Pigment ink is acid free, archival, waterproof, and fade proof
- 6 nib sizes (black 0.45 and 0.5 mm sizes were tested – although my chart below has the wrong sizes listed)
- 15 colors available
- This has been go-to pen for a long time. I have even been using some of the same pens intermittently for 10+ years without any sign of drying out. My biggest complaint is that the nib sizing numbers don’t correspond with the nib size – size 08 is actually a 0.5 mm nib.
- Archival ink that is waterproof and fade resistant (not pigment ink)
- The Classic Gelly Roll (solid cap) comes in two nib sizes and 11 colors
- The five other varieties of Gelly Roll (clear and glitter caps) are avilable in 40+ colors with a variety of metallic and pearl finishes
- $1.39 – $1.69
- These are certainly the most affordable option in my comparison, and maybe even the easiest to find in stores. But the roller ball gel ink does require steady pressure to get an even writing line. And the Metallic Gelly Roll did not survive my water brush test (below).
Pigment Pro from American Crafts
- Acid-free archival pigment ink
- This pen has been discontinued, but I wanted to include it because this was my first time using it. I’m not sure if it had been sitting at the store for too long, or what the story was. But I pulled it out to use it for the first time and it was all dried up!
Click the image below to enlarge see writing examples for each of the pens.
I figured it would be a good idea to test with a wet paintbrush to see which pens can be used with watercolors and markers. Below is a writing sample for each pen on watercolor paper.
Then I used the water pen to get each line of writing thoroughly wet. All of the pigment pens passed with flying colors. But of the Gelly Roll pens, only the Classic version resisted the water – the other metallic varieties had a little to a lot of smearing from the paintbrush.
Spellbinders Presto Machine Box Contents
Spellbinder Presto Punch Battery Case
Presto Punch Power Adapter
Holiday Punch & Embossing Stencil Templates
The Presto Punch templates can be used to punch, emboss, and stencil. They vary in size and are thinner than chipboard which means they do not take up a lot of space to store, unlike traditional punches. The Presto Punch templates take less space than a credit card to store (once out of their retail packaging). So if you are challenged for storage space the Presto Punch may offer you a solution with their vast line of templates.
To cut press down button on the left.
If you look closely, you can see how well the machine embosses these little templates.
Then if you want to stencil, just leave the die cut piece in the template and paint.
I used a marker but you can use ink pads, chalks, etc. I like that these templates are multi-functional.
Parchment Paper Die Cut Sample
Recycled Aluminum Can Die Cut Sample
Spellbinders Presto Punch Heart Template Card
Spellbinders Presto Punch Heart Template Card Inside View
Recycled Aluminum Can Earrings
Presto Punch Template Cutting folder does get funky looking.
Second, I want to take a moment to address the sound that the machine makes during use. Some folks may find it a little annoying. Since I have a hand injury at the moment, I think the ease of use (just a press of a button) more than makes up for the sound that the Presto Punch makes when cutting and embossing. I was still able to craft even though my hand movements are pretty limited (which why the jewelry designs are simple so my daughter could help me by working the jewelry making tools). I also found that I could use my other Spellbinders die templates as long as they fit inside the folders. Overall, I think this is a pretty cool machine and look forward to making more fun things with the punched out pieces.
- Offers the crafter portability by using either batteries or a power adapter (sold separately).
- The templates are multi functional. They cut, embosses and can be used as stencils.
- The Presto Punch and the Presto Punch templates are easy to use and store.
- Works on batteries which can lead to waste. Consider using rechargeable batteries or purchase the adapter (sold separately).
- Only comes with one set of folders which will get trashed with consistent use. However, they do sell replacements on their site for $5.99 for three (which isn’t a bad price).
- Sorry, it was hard to come up with any when I am having so much fun with the machine.
Reported by Susan Reidy
Hanging on one wall in my craft space is a shoe organizer crammed full of punches. I’d show you a picture, but no one wants to see that. I don’t even want to see it.
If only Spellbinder’s Presto Punch had come into my life much sooner. As Spellbinders puts it, this handy tool is the first automatic punching and embossing machine. Instead of a hefty heave-ho sometimes needed to use a standard punch, with the Presto Punch, you simply push a button. That’s perfect for those with any strength issues or hand problems like carpal tunnel or arthritis.
And, it solves the problem of storing bulky punches. According to Spellbinders, you can store 30 punch designs in the space of one standard punch. Sign me up!
Spellbinders says the Presto Punch works best with craft foil, fun foam and up to 65# cardstock. I didn’t have any foil, but I tried all the others, and more.
Out of the box, you receive the Presto Punch machine, a purple cutting booklet, a white embossing booklet…
and seven templates.
These guys are tiny, but cute! I like that they are nice basic shapes, and that they come with your initial purchase.
Spellbinders also has additional templates available, including basic shapes that come in sets of three for $9.99, fun themed shapes in packs of 5 for $14.99 and fonts including letters and numbers for $39.99.
Spellbinders sent me the scalloped circles.
And the Christmas Joy. Love that snowman, and all the little Christmas icons.
To use the machine or either need eight AA batteries, or the power adapter, which is available separately for $29.99.
Eight is an awful lot of batteries, and I’m not sure how long they would last. I would definitely recommend the power adapter, which is what I used.
The adapter plugs into the back, under the battery component. There’s a notch in the battery compartment door so the cord can come through.
To use the machine, you’ll first have to cut your paper to fit the 2.5 inch square purple cutting booklet.
Put your paper on the magnet side of the booklet, and put your template on top, raised edge down. The magnet is a nice touch, because it holds the template in place, at least on lighter weight paper.
Put the booklet in the machine.
Push the left/down button.
Once cutting is done, push the right/up button and remove the booklet.
And here’s the punched leaf.
To emboss, remove the template and your punched shape, and put it cutting edge down in the white embossing booklet.
Put it in the machine, press down until the motor stops and then press the up button to remove the folder. Here you can see the nice, deep embossing.
When you’re done with that, you can keep the template in place and use it like a stencil to add some color via chalk, ink, market, etc. to your punched image.
Here’s my cute finished leaf.
I do wish the directions that came with the machine were a little more complete. They give the general guidelines, which I just explained. But what they don’t say is how long to push down the button. When I first did it, the loud, grinding sound scared me and I stopped pushing the button. When I removed the folder, my paper hadn’t punched.
I went online and found further instructions, including videos, that said to keep pushing the button until the motor stops. Once I did that, my punches turned out much better.
The machine is loud, and the sound might be a little off-putting to some. But I didn’t find it any louder or annoying than any other electric die cutting system I have used (Cricut, Vagabond).
I did find there is a certain amount of trial and error involved in getting a good punch. The more I used the Presto Punch, the better my punches turned out. I tried the machine on heavier cardstock than recommended, including the Die Cuts with a View textured paper I used for my leaf up above.
I found with the smaller shapes, the Presto Punch could handle the heavier paper. However, with the larger shapes, it had a hard time cutting through Papertrey Ink (110#), DCWV and Stampin’ Up (80#) cardstock.
One tip: If you try cutting heavier than 65# paper, make sure you have the machine all the way up, and punch all the way down, so you get the maximum amount of punching time. When I was doing lighter weight paper, I didn’t worry if it was all the way up.
I like that you can nest shapes like this.
But unfortunately, I couldn’t successfully cut the two shapes effectively at the same time, even when I tried plain old copy paper. However, it wasn’t hard to cut the circle first, remove the circle die, add the candy cane, and punch again. I got this.
I thought this would be super cute as Christmas tags. I cut a few more, and then thought I’d get a little fancy. After cutting my tag and layering a solid scallop underneath, I tried embossing the candy cane on that lower layer.
I put the template over the precut candy cane and put it in the embossing folder. Here was my result.
Not too bad, but you can see my template shifted a little. In the future, I will add a little piece of tape to my template to keep it in place.
Here are some of my finished holiday tags.
I was really into the nesting thing, so I tried making a wreath with two of the nested scalloped circles.
I again had difficulty getting it to cut all the way through in one punch.
But again, I got a good result punching it in two steps and using a lighter weight patterned paper. Here’s my finished wreath, with an added punched and stencilled holly leaf, also from the Christmas Joy set of templates.
I love that you can use the templates to emboss and stencil, to add more interest to a punch, and used the technique a lot. For this tree, I brushed liquid glue right over the template and added glitter.
The glue and glitter wiped right off my template with a baby wipe.
I cut and embossed the cute snowman, then added some details with chalk.
So cute! He would also be cute with some bling buttons or eyes.
I added him to a journaling pocket I plan on using for a Christmas layout or maybe my December Daily.
I wanted to try the Presto Punch with fun foam. I dug around, and finally found a small piece (but just the right size for the 2.5 inch platform). I was pleased with how well the templates cut through the foam, although the edges were a little rough. This was one of the last things I cut, and my cutting mat was looking really rough, so that may have had an impact.
The directions included with the Presto Punch say not to use template in manual die cutting machines because “doing so will damage the templates and the cutting mats.” So I didn’t try it.
I did however try some of smaller Spellbinder Nestabilities in the Presto Punch. They worked great, but you’re limited to the dies that are small enough to fit on the cutting/embossing surfaces.
After all my testing and playing, my purple cutting booklet looked like this.
The magnet sheet on the surface started bubbling up, and came off altogether in some places. I think it’s definitely time for a new cutting booklet. Replacements are available in a pack of three for $5.99.
Once I got rolling, I really enjoyed using the Presto Punch. It really is easy on the hands, has great “nesting” capabilities and takes up much less space, even when you include the size of the machine. I love that you can emboss and stencil with the templates, much like Spellbinders Nestabilities.
However, there are some trade-offs when compared to traditional punches. You need to cut your paper down to size before you can punch, your results are varied with heavier cardstock, and it takes longer. With a traditional punch, you have your image punched in about two seconds. With the Presto Punch, it takes about 10 seconds to push the punch down and then back up. If you include cutting the paper down to 2.5 inches square, it’s even longer.
Still, the benefits of the Presto Punch make it worth it. While I won’t get rid of my traditional punch collection, I will definitely look to add to my Presto Punch template collection before buying traditional options.
- Great for people with strength or hand problems.
- Easier to store than traditional punches.
- With same template you can punch, emboss and stencil.
- After the initial investment, it is cheaper than traditional punches.
- Templates can be nested for fun results.
- Cute shapes available, as well as fonts.
- Can cut up to 65# paper, fun foam and craft foil.
- Directions included with the machine are incomplete, but lots more information is available online.
- Needs eight AA batteries, which is a lot, or the purchase of the adapter for another $29.99.
- Takes longer than traditional punches.
- Paper has to be precut to fit 2.5 inch square cutting/embossing booklets.
- Results vary when using heavier cardstock.
Have you tried the Presto Punch? How does it compare to traditional punches? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!
Reported by Christina Hammond
If you are a crafter of any kind, undoubtedly, you have a stash of glitter. Glitter makes everything better, no?
I, honestly, have so much glitter that I have to hide it from my glitter-phobic husband. I have glitter stashed in so many places, I often forget what I have and just go buy more. The different kinds of glitter out there are amazing, too. There are shiny glitters, glass glitters, matte glitters, fine glitters and chunkier glitters… and the colors? OH MY!
I thought I had seen it all until I got a selection from Stampendous. They sent me the BEST, the CHUNKIEST glitters I have ever seen! I was sent Crushed Glass Glitter, Shaved Ice chunky glitter, and Fragments
To be truthful, the chunkiest of the “glitters” isn’t really a glitter – it’s fragmented mica flakes that have been dyed. And they are so pretty just to look at.
|To show you the difference in sizes.|
I loved just looking at the glitters in the jars, they were that pretty- but I had a hard time finding something to do with the fragments. It was so chunky that I couldn’t think of an application for it. In the end, I took a cheap IKEA glass lamp and added a band of the mica using sparkle ModPodge. It added a nice rustic, earthy tone to an otherwise boring lamp. It is hard to tell here, but the mica is naturally slightly translucent, so the flakes glow when lit from behind.
Here I took a ribbon flower hair clip and applied the shaved ice around the edges. My little girl loves anything glittery, so she really loves it. It really sparkles now!
For a little something different, I applied silver Crushed Glass Glitter to the inside of a small cookie cutter to hang on the Christmas tree. This crushed glass is so reflective and shiny, that I think it’s going to really sparkle once hung on the tree.
- the color are amazing!
- the number of options, variations, and types of Stampendous glitters will keep you busy
- I really liked the big wide jars, easier to pour product back into
- The mica is so big you might have a hard time thinking of ways to use it
- you’ll have glitter everywhere!
- you’ll quickly learn you don’t have enough things in your house to apply glitter to
Have you tried Stampendous chunky glitters? What’s your favorite type? What would you make with it?
Founded in 2003 by Stacey and Jeff Caron, Spellbinders is a leading innovator in manual die cutting tools.
An avid crafter, Stacey noticed the lack of detail in the dies available for paper crafting. She decided to change her longtime passion for paper crafting and her vision of exquisitely detailed and sophisticated dies into a business. In 2003, Stacey and her husband, Jeff, invested everything, including their life savings, into the business. Together, they decided to create a universal die-cut system with die templates that are the most detailed on the market.
The first 2,500 Wizard™ die cutting and embossing machines and 10,000 dies were hand made. They were known as Geometrics and are the inspiration of the famously popular line of Spellbinders™ Nestabilities®. From the start, Stacey committed to bring the best possible dies to market, offering good value at a fair price. There are no other dies on the market that offer the intricate, sophisticated details that Spellbinders offers.
Spellbinders’ mission is to develop and provide exquisitely detailed, quality craft products that offer value and versatility. The goal is to design crafting products that cut, emboss and stencil to inspire the creation of beautiful, professional projects. Equally important are Stacey’s core values of providing opportunity and fostering innovation through partnerships and working together in harmony.
Spellbinders has partnered with companies and licensed designers that are endorsed and approved to develop products that coordinate with Spellbinders’ patented die templates. Stacey has partnered with and mentored a number of small and start-up companies, providing business guidance and sharing her vision. Through these partnerships Spellbinders continues to strengthen the crafts community. The synergy between the companies allows customers to understand the unlimited creativity together they can provide for inspirational crafting.
What makes Spellbinders unique is unlike any other company in the crafts industry, Stacey sponsors her design team, bringing them to Phoenix, and educating them in the company culture and the Spellbinders brand. This process has empowered the design team, which is key in today’s social media network, to become knowledgeable Spellbinders ambassadors for creative and inspirational use of all Spellbinders’ products.
Those interested in becoming a Spellbinders Design Team Member must submit projects and write an essay on why they want to be a Spellbinders Design Team member. There a two rounds of project submissions. Call for Design Team members is announced the beginning January every year. New Design Team members for the year join the team in April.
Among the most popular products Spellbinders carries are their Spellbinders™ Nestabilities®. These delicate dies cut and emboss and are sold in nested sets of multiple sizes. Visit the Spellbinders website to see the full collection of dies.
Most intriguing from Spellbinders are the new Edgeability Dies. These new dies create delicate edges for your projects as well as intricate designs. Each set comes with an edge and two designs that can be mixed and matched to create different looks.
You can purchase Spellbinders products from their Website, or your local craft store.
View a collection of “How-To” videos for Spellbinders Products.
Reported by Susan Reidy
Some of my first, and favorite crafting memories, involve glitter and glue. It’s rare to find something so basic, so easy to use, that can add so much to a project, not to mention good for all ages.
While the act of glittering hasn’t changed much since my childhood, the glitter sure has. Stampendous recently sent me a box of their glitter goodies. The variety in textures, colors, and sizes are simply amazing!
They have just about every type of glitter you could possibly want. Do you want a bright, shiny, jewel color? They’ve got you covered. Or maybe some shimmering crystal is more your style? They’ve got it, in three different grain sizes: ultra-fine, fine and medium.
Here’s a rundown of the five types of glitter I tried. I’ll also show you later the difference in three sizes.
First up is the Crystal glitter, available in ultra-fine, fine and medium grain. This glitter is translucent, so the underlying color shows through. I like to mix the different sizes to make snow, but more on that later. It has a great sparkly shine.
The Pastel glitter also is translucent, and adds a hint of its own color. It’s available in five colors, all ultra-fine. Stampendous says it’s best used over similarly colored surfaces.
If you’re looking to add lots of color to your project, the Jewel glitter is perfect for you. It has a great sparkle, and deep, rich colors that in general will cover up the underlying color of your project. It’s available in 24 colors in the ultra-fine grain size. As Stampendous explains on its web site, this opaque glitter will add a metallic shine to projects.
Now for those of you want the super shiny, bling-bling, the Halo glitter variety is for you. It’s available in gold and silver in ultra-fine, fine, and medium grain sizes. This glitter is holographic, so it picks up a rainbow of colors. Stampendous says it can be mixed with embossing powders. I give that a try later on in the article, so stick with me.
The Pearl glitter is another opaque variety, available in 13 colors and the ultra fine size. It’s a polyester glitter, and I found that while it has a shine, it has more of what I would call a matte finish. It’s best in thin layers, over similarly colored surfaces.
Phew, now after that glitter primer, I bet you all want to know how to use it.
First up, I tried out this lovely Jumbo Pine Drift tree stamp and stamping block that Stampendous sent me with the glitter.
Check out the size of this stamp; it’s perfect for a card or even a scrapbook page.
I wasn’t sure if I would like the Jumbo Perfectly Clear Handle. I was worried it was too thin, and would get all inky. You can see the thickness here; it kind of reminds of a cutting plate for a die cut machine.
Oh, how wrong I was. The size and thickness of the handle made it so easy to get a nice clean image of the jumbo stamp. I don’t know if it would have worked as well with a traditional stamp block.
To bling out my tree in some yummy glitter, I used an EKSuccess 2-Way Glue Pen, also sent by Stampendous. I highlighted certain areas of the tree’s needles, and dumped on Jewel moss green glitter first.
Then I added more glue in different areas and dumped on Jewel sea green glitter. I love that the Jewel glitter has different shades of the same color, so you can add a little more interest, shading, or highlighting to your projects.
I also used some Pearl glitter in cherry on the ornaments. Here’s my finished tree.
But then I decided I wanted my tree to look like it was out in a snow storm. For this, I mixed Crystal fine and medium, and dumped it over strategically placed globs of Scotch Scrapbookers Glue with 2-Way Applicator. I wanted the glue to stay dimensional.
My tree needed a home, and clearly, it needed to be just as sparkly. I decided to mix Halo Gold in medium with Halo Silver in fine with some Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel (UTEE). Here’s my special little mix.
I stamped the swirl stamp from the Stampendous set with embossing ink, dumped on the mix and heated it up. I was concerned that it wouldn’t work, especially with the larger crystals of UTEE, but it looks great. I like the slight shimmer the Halo glitter gives to the embossed image.
And here is my finished card:
Next up, I put together a gingerbread garland for my kitchen this Christmas. I started with a chipboard gingerman mini book from Michaels. I covered four pieces with patterned paper, then outlined each with my Scotch glue before adding ultra-fine Crystal glitter. I wanted it to look like icing.
Every gingerbread man must have buttons. I added some 3-D Glue Dots.
And then glitterfied them with Pearl glitter in cherry.
Oh, they look like tasty little gum drops.
I added some brads for eyes, and used my Scotch glue and Pearl glitter for the smiley mouth.
For his jaunty holly, I used my Vagabond to die cut the leaves, ran them through my Xyron Create-A-Sticker 150 for overall adhesive coverage and added moss green Jewel glitter to one and sea green Jewel glitter to the other.
Check out the great, sparkly coverage.
Here’s my girl gingerbread woman. Her buttons are in moss green, and she got Pastel pink glitter cheeks, courtesy of some Glue Dots.
I needed some accent pieces for my garland. I took some plain wooden spools from the craft store and wrapped them with Scor-Tape.
I removed the paper liner, and spread on some moss green Jewel glitter. Love this! I know I’ll be doing this again. By the way, after all the use of the moss green glitter, I still have 3/4 of a tube left. A little truly goes a long way.
Look at those towers of glittery goodness.
But I didn’t stop there. Gingebread men/women are cookies, right? So naturally, I needed to add some cookie cutters. I didn’t want them to be jealous, so of course they got glittered too.
For this job, I decided to use Glossy Accents. I used Halo Gold and a mix of ultra fine and medium Crystal. Here’s the Cyrstal mix.
And here’s the Halo. I think I like this one better.
Here are some glamour shots of the finished banner. Phew, that took a while.
By the end of my crafting sessions, I was covered in glitter and so was my craft area. But it was so worth it. I loved all the variety of the Stampendous glitter, and then it could be used on so many different surfaces. It also worked well with different adhesive, whether it was liquid, tape or glue dot.
Stampendous glitter is available individually in small jars (4.5 grams) and large jars (15 grams) as well as glitter kits.
- Lots of variety in color, type and size of glitter, whether you want opaque coverage or something more subtle.
- Can be used on multiple surfaces and with multiple types of adhesives.
- Adds a great sparkle to all projects.
- A little goes a long way, so even with the smaller jars, it will last you awhile.
- Like all great crafts, it can get a little messy.
- You’ll want to glitter anything that sits still long enough.
Have you tried Stampendous glitter? What’s your favorite type? What do you like to glitter?