How To: The Ins and Outs of Thickers – Part 1

Reported by Morgan Novak
As evidenced by my Clip It Up! Top Tier Extension review, I have quite the Thickers addiction! Thickers are dimensional alphabet stickers, made by American Crafts, that are available in a variety of materials, finishes, textures and colors. Thick + stickers = Thickers, get it? Each new paper collection release from American Crafts includes 2 or 3 brand new fonts, and sometimes shapes or borders. They also release additional fonts, or existing fonts in a different material, between larger releases. You can check out the newest editions in our coverage of American Crafts at CHA if you’d like a little sneak peek of what’s to come!
Since I find myself using Thickers on just about every project I create, I thought I’d show you the ins and outs of all the different types in this 2 part how-to! We’ll start with the many varieties of chipboard based Thickers.
The bulk of Thickers are a variation on, or a covered version of, chipboard. I find that the adhesive is more than sufficient for most traditional papercrafting bases like paper or chipboard, but when I’m using them on harder surfaces, such as acrylic, I like to add some super tape to the back for extra, extra adhesive hold, just to be safe.
There are 9 types of chipboard based Thickers, and many of them are alterable in one way or another so that you can make them fit into just about any crafty project and have even more fun with them!
1. Pearl Chipboard Thickers have a soft, pearly sheen to them and are great if you want a muted shimmer.

A great way to alter many of the types of chipboard based Thickers is to get some additional texture by using rub-ons! I used Hambly rub-ons for all of my examples because I love the thickness of their rub-ons. Once you have used your rub-on tool to apply the image there will sometimes be a little bit of leftover image hanging off the edge of the letter, to correct this I usually just lightly run my Exacto blade along the edge to shave of the excess.
2. Fabric Covered Chipboard Thickers are probably one of my favorite types of Thickers because of their texture and also because of how easy it is to make them just about any color you need!

One super easy way to change the color of Fabric Thickers is to simply color them! I usually use a the brush tip end of a Copic Sketch Marker to gently color the letter, following the grain of the fabric to avoid any fraying. Just remember, you have to factor in the current color of the letter. Some color combinations can do some funky things, so before I start I usually test out colors on punctuation or letters that I don’t often use.

Another really quick way to color match your Fabric Thickers is to give them a quick spritz with Glimmer Mist! Just remember to give them a few minutes to dry before you handle them.

The last little tip I have for the Fabric Thickers is to stamp on them! I’ll confess that I hadn’t actually tried this until I was working on this article, but I think I might be hooked! This was so simple and yet it looks so cool.
3. Flocked Chipboard Thickers have a slight fuzzy finish to them just like those fuzzy animal stickers of yesteryear. The flock makes them a little tougher to alter, but there are still some great ways to add a little extra flair to them. We’ll get to those at the end of part 2!
4. Glossy Chipboard Thickers have a really cool shiny gloss finish that’s pretty rad on it’s own, but there are still some ways to change them a little bit.

The absolute most simple way to alter these is to simply distress them with some sandpaper or a nail file. It will take the bulk of the gloss off and you can even sand down to the chipboard color underneath for a little extra grunge.

Applying rub-ons to these is a little bit of a challenge because the glossy finish causes the rub-on sheet to slip quite a bit, but it’s still do-able, I just suggest using a pattern that lends itself to a more distressed rub-on look.

Staz On ink will allow you to stamp on the glossy chipboard pretty easily and it also works it’s Staz On magic by drying just about instantly!
5. Foil Chipboard Thickers are available in shiny metallic colors like silver and gold, as well as in foiled versions of other colors. In some sort of cruel twist of fate I somehow don’t own any Foil Thickers, but I would imagine that you could easily use rub-ons or stamp on them with Staz On.
6 & 7. Both Chipboard Thickers & Natural Chipboard Thickers have a flat finish that enables many of the same altering tricks to be used on them both. However, there are a few methods that only work on either the Natural (or kraft colored) Thickers or Thickers with color. First I’ll show you the tricks that work on both.

Distress Crackle Paint adds a ton of texture to your Thickers, just be sure to lay it on in a medium to thick coat depending on how much crackle you want, and allow an appropriate amount of drying time. Once the paint has crackled you can hit them with your heat tool to speed up the drying process.

Like the Fabric Thickers, you can easily use just about any type of ink to stamp on the Chipboard Thickers.

This is another trick that I just recently added to my arsenal, but now that I have I’m sure I’ll be using it quite a bit! I just stamped the woodgrain with a clear embossing ink pad, sprinkled on some Zing! embossing powder and then carefully heated it using a heat tool. When using the heat tool, be sure to keep it moving because you don’t want the heat to sink through and heat up the adhesive on the back of the letters.

These are super easy to apply rub-ons to without much slipping! In this instance I added a little faux stitching.

How about a simple line of Stickles for a little added bling? Be sure to leave your Stickles plenty of time to dry.

On to some methods that only work with the Natural, meaning plain uncolored chipboard, Thickers.

You can easily add some color to your Natural Thickers by simply pressing them into a soft ink pad, such as Versamagic or Brilliance. Just remember that much like when you are stamping using these ink pads, you’ll want to give it a couple of minutes to set.

It doesn’t get much more basic than painting your chipboard! I suggest painting them while off the backing sheet so that you don’t accidentally end up painting more letters than you mean to.

You can also very easily use markers on these! When picking out your marker color keep in mind that you’re not coloring on white, and the natural kraft color may slightly change the color.

Glimmer Mist makes for a really striking new finish to your Natural Thickers. Simply take the letters you want to use off the backing sheet, place them lightly on a piece of wax paperor a non-stick craft sheet and spray away! After spraying I like to use my Tweezer Bees to move them onto a clean edge of the wax paper so that they don’t get overly saturated while sitting in a Glimmer Mist puddle.

Here’s a quick little trick that I used on the Glossy Thickers that can also be used on the colored Chipboard Thickers; just hit them with a nail file or sand paper for a little distressed love.
8. Patterned Chipboard Thickers are exactly what they sound like, basic Chipboard Thickers printed with different patterns like stripes, stitches, hearts and more. Even though they already have cool patterns printed right on them, you can still do a couple fun things with altering.

Pull out your sandpaper, nail file or distressing kit and lightly sand the surface just enough to distress the letters a little bit without totally getting rid of the pattern.

You could add some patterned rub-ons for an additional layer of pattern, or how about adding a word? Here I pulled out one of my favorite supplies, Doodlebug mini alpha rub-ons to spell out “one” on the number 1.
9. Glitter Covered Chipboard Thickers are pretty amazing! They have a high impact glitter finish with no shedding! That’s right, no glitter flying everywhere anytime you handle them!

A fun way to give these a cool little finish is to lightly rub them on the surface of a Staz On ink pad. Pigment will rub off on some of the surface glitter for a sweet confetti type finish.
So, that just about covers the chipboard-based Thickers, other than some basic ways to add some extra fun to just about any type of Thicker, which I’ll get to in part 2 tomorrow, along with Foam, Puffy, Vinyl and even a couple of discontinued Thicker types!
In the mean time. share some tips or tricks of your own! What other ways are you altering your chipboard based Thickers?
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10 Responses to How To: The Ins and Outs of Thickers – Part 1

  1. Avatar
    Katie_Bolinger March 3, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    You’ve covered so much here the only thing I didn’t see here was distress them with a texture hammer, texture folder (in a cuttlebug or similar) and poke them with a needle. Great job.

  2. Avatar
    catnap March 3, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    Wow. Lots of really useful info. A great jumping off point for using these letters. Thanks for all the research!

  3. Avatar
    Annette A. March 3, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    Cool, I like these ideas…So many ways to decorate and change the letters. Thanks for sharing

  4. Avatar
    Scrapycandy March 3, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    I use them as masks and get multiple uses out of each letter.

  5. Avatar
    SuZeQ March 3, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

    I’m like you … addicted! I’ve used them in just about every way imaginable. Love them!

  6. Avatar
    janine March 3, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    Thanks for an outstanding review of an item I always seem to pass up in the store. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at these but just never bought any. Now it is on my ‘short list’—in other words, this weekend =) Thanks again!!

  7. Avatar
    sharon g March 3, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    WOW, thanks for all the ideas. Now I need to buy some…

  8. Avatar
    Cricut Design Chicks SWARM March 4, 2011 at 7:59 am #

    i have taken the scrapbook paint (making memories)& coordinating paper and attached it to half of the chipboard letter. It was really cute. I have even ripped the paper while it was on the chipboard. for some reason.. I love paper on chipboard!

  9. Avatar
    Wendy March 4, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    Great review Morgan!!! Thanks for it!!

  10. Avatar
    Christine Real March 5, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    Wow! Thank you so much for this article! I loved seeing all the ways to change my Thickers!