Author Archive | Tracy Shultz

Vendor Spotlight: Marks Paper Company

Reported by Tracy Schultz

If you’re a paper crafter, it’s a given that you’re in love with paper. But what KIND of paper you’re in love with is a different story. There are bright, cheery designs; fun and whimsical designs; and even muted and distressed designs. Marks Paper Company is helping to push vintage, elegant designed paper back to the forefront of the industry.

Launched in 2008, Marks Paper Company is a husband-and-wife team of Stacy and Dan Marks. They currently have two full lines of paper available for purchase. This is a review of their newest collection, English Garden.

Upon receiving this collection, I made note of the patterns and colors. I like the mix of florals and prints in blue, green, gray, and purple. However, some of the prints seemed too large to render well for cardmakers. I think scrappers will love the mix of large and small prints. As a cardmaker, the beauty of larger prints is often lost on a standard A2 card.

Regardless, I got right to work. I selected two of the smaller printed papers for my first card. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the paper held up to distressing. It’s a nice heavy weight (not the heaviest I’ve felt, but a nice weight). Using my edge distressor, I scraped and filed the edges. The paper didn’t rip or tear, even when using a decent amount of pressure. Of course, if that’s your thing you could certainly rip and tear by hand.

Next, I used my Palette Noir ink to stamp directly onto one of the patterns. Even though the paper I selected was a dark green color, my black ink showed up exceptionally well. I tried using my Prismacolor Pencils to color in my image, but the paper was too dark for this. I was happy that my Sakura Gelly Roll and Glaze pens showed up well on the paper, though.

For my second card, I chose one of the larger floral patterns to showcase. To try and accomodate the larger pattern, my card base is 8.5″ wide by 4″ tall. Even with the larger size, I think the beauty of this design is somewhat lost on a card.

The English Garden Collection contains a sheet of die-cuts AND a pack of covered buttons (with pin backs!). Crafters- left me tell you how wonderful these die cuts are. I’m sure you can all relate to punching a shape out of a die-cut sheet only to be left with bumps along the edges that need to be snipped or sanded down. I don’t know how the geniuses at Marks did it, but when you punch a shape out of the die-cut sheet, you are left with absolutely NO bumps! The die-cuts on my card were applied to my card immediately after punching out!!! Talk about a time saver.

Another amazing thing about the die-cut sheet is that it’s double sided. The front of the sheet contains the die-cut images, while the back of the sheet has a subtle blue print on it. You can crimp and curl those die-cuts as much as you want and not have to worry about having white backsides showing on your project.


  • Paper is a nice heavy weight
  • Nice mix of large and small patterns for scrappers
  • Double-sided die-cut sheets leave no bumps along edge after punching out


  • Large patterns don’t render well for cardmakers
  • Die-cut sheet is thinner than paper; die-cuts fall off easily with handling
  • Vintage designs might not be your style
  • Since this is a newer company, it may be harder to find online or locally

Despite my raving about the die-cut sheet, I did find that with handling, the shapes have a tendency to fall off the sheet more easily than compared to other manufacturers. And the paper the die-cuts are printed on is a bit thinner than the double-sided paper in the collection.
I’d like to see more smaller-scaled prints for cardmakers included in future collections, and a sturdier weight die-cut sheet.

You can find Marks Paper Company collections at Scrapfreak, Hope Stamps Eternal, and Mothers & Daughters Creations. The double-sided paper retails for $0.90 per sheet and the die-cuts and buttons for $2.50 each.

Giveaway! Stacy at Marks Paper Company has agreed to send an English Garden collection to one of our readers from the USA. Leave a comment on any of the Vendor Spotlight: Marks Paper Company posts to be entered. Contest ends Friday night at midnight, winner will be announced on Saturday, July 11, 2009.

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

Vendor Spotlight : Ribbon Ring (Day 2, Post 1)

Reported by: Tracy Schultz

My ribbon storage system had gotten out of control. It was to the point where I could no longer find what I was looking for! So I consider myself pretty lucky that I got to review the Ribbon Ring. Now my ribbon is back under control- and best of all, out in the open so I can finally SEE and use what I have.

The Ribbon Ring is a very simple system. It’s a series of metal rings on which hang small plastic tags. Each tag has three slots through which you weave your ribbon. This keeps the ribbon from falling off of the ring when handling.

The standard tag holds ribbon up to 1.125″ wide. But there is a new jumbo tag that holds ribbon up to 2″ wide. With each tag set you also get small black inventory dots. These are handy as they let you record when you have more ribbon tucked away somewhere in case you run out.

Now, let’s get back to my own ribbon disaster- I mean, story. Above you’ll see my ribbon storage solution prior to the Ribbon Ring. I had FOUR drawers that I purchased from a home improvement store. Each was loaded with rolls of ribbon. It started out simple enough: I arranged my ribbon by color in these drawers. But I found when I added new ribbon I had to constantly rearrange my rolls as I filled up the rows in my drawer. It was a pain!

As I started crafting more, I quickly outgrew my system. I started stacking rolls on top of one another. I even bought ribbon storage cards and started winding smaller lengths of ribbon onto them. But the clips would often fall off and I would find my ribbon unwound in the drawer. Or worse- when I took it out to use, the ribbon was all crimped!

When I got the Ribbon Ring system in the mail, I immediately set out to organize my ribbon. It’s advised that any ribbon you have more than one yard of be cut into one yard lengths to hang on the tags. I didn’t heed this advice and quickly learned the hard way. It’s too difficult to tame your ribbon and sort through it when you have these random long strands hanging. So be sure to cut your ribbon- I just cut an arm’s length and that worked fine. Then I affixed an inventory dot to the tag so I knew I had more somewhere.

I found sorting my ribbon by color to work best. I hung two, or sometimes three, different types of ribbon on each tag. That way I could fit my whole inventory on this system. Melissa was nice enough to include extra metal rings, so I was able to put one color family on each ring. And then put those rings onto the giant metal ring included.


  • Reasonably priced
  • Metal rings and tags are sturdy
  • Inventory dots let you see when you have more ribbon in storage
  • Can fit multiple ribbons on one tag
  • Ribbon fits securely on tag and doesn’t fall off, even after handling


  • Standard tags only accommodate ribbon up to 1.125″ wide
  • Doesn’t come with enough inventory dots- I ran out!
  • Still need to store ribbon rolls somewhere
  • No system on which to hang the Ribbon Ring

I’m glad to say that USING the Ribbon Ring is so easy. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about having my ribbon out in the open. But I love it! Whenever I’m working on a project I can glance over at my ribbon and see what colors would work best. If I want a closer view, I can bring the entire system to my desk. Or I can just pull off the color family that I’m interested in. And removing ribbon to use is simple. I just open the ring, slide the tag off that has the ribbon I want to use on it, tie it around my card/project, then put the tag back on the ring.

I’ve been using this system for over a month and I haven’t had to refill any ribbon on the rings yet. And best of all, I’m using my ribbon more. I’m mixing colors and patterns on my projects that I never would have when my ribbon was in a drawer.

My only big con for this entire system is that I wish there was some sort of hanger for the ribbon rings themselves to go on. I have mine hanging on a random nail in my studio. But I would like something that allows me to see and MOVE the ribbon around without having to worry about it falling off the wall.

All in all, I think this is a great system and it’s at a great price. I’d give the Ribbon Ring an 8 out of 10.

You can purchase the Ribbon Ring online at their store and a starter kit costs only $8. Or you can find it at, Taylored Expressions, and other online vendors.

Do you own a Ribbon Ring? We’d love to hear what you think! Remember there is a Ribbon Ring in it for you!

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

CardMaker’s Sketch Book: Birthday Celebration

Reported by Tracy Schultz

I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of sketches. I find they really help get my creativity flowing. There are probably hundreds of sketch sites on the web, some with a bigger following than others. But if you would like to have a permanent, offline, source for your sketches, I would really recommend CardMaker’s Sketch Book: Birthday Celebration published by Annie’s Attic.

Some of you may know Tami Mayberry, the sketch creator of this book, from her first sketch book CardMaker’s Sketch Book: Ideas to Inspire Creative Card Designs. Or perhaps you’ve stopped by her popular sketch blog Card Positioning Systems.

I’ve been a big fan of Card Positioning Systems for quite some time now. But I wasn’t sure I would like having sketches in a book format instead. I have to say, after using this book, I really adore it and LOVE having a permanent offline version of some great sketches.

Card made from sketch on page 42.

There are 28 original sketches by Tami in this book. And each sketch has for or five cards showing the different ways to interpret the sketch. All of the cards created in this book are birthday cards. There are some talented ladies published in this book- Lisa Johnson, Sherry Wright, Kim Hughes, Melissa Phillips, and tons more.


  • Gorgeous photography
  • Sketches for 4 different sized cards
  • Inexpensive
  • Features talented and popular card makers


  • Only 28 sketches in this book
  • Some sketches are for non-standard card sizes
  • Some sketches are almost too simple

Card made from sketch on page 32.

I would really have liked to see more sketches in this book. While there are 28 original sketches, some are so simple or similar to one-another that they kind of blend together. And some of the sketches are for non-standard (and therefore hard-to-mail) cards. Now, this doesn’t bother me too much because I will just change the size of the card to suit my needs, but if you like to follow sketches exactly as written, that may be a problem for you.

I don’t have any other negative things to say about this book though. The photography is stunning, and the inspiration contained in it makes it well worth the price. I’d give this book a 9 out of 10. For a perfect score I would like to see more sketches!

CardMaker’s Sketch Book: Birthday Celebration retails for $14.95. Purchase it from and support Craft Critique!

Do you have a favorite source for sketch inspiration? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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