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Review | Collage Vintage Notecard Kit by Accord Publishing

Reported by Maria Del Pinto

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I recently came across the Collage: Vintage Notecard kit (published by Accord Publishing) at my local book store. The packaging promised an educational opportunity to learn how to collage using the materials in the kit. Since all of the artwork, papers, and projects in the Collage: Vintage Notecard kit are designed by illustrator Maryjo Koch, who is known for her artwork and her book Vintage Collage-Works: Artful Ideas with Antique Ephemera, I felt this would be a good addition to my craft collection. I was not disappointed.

The collage kit contains:

  • Instruction booklet
  • 12 notecards and envelopes
  • 96 sheets of assorted artwork
  • A proportion wheel
  • A glue stick
  • A handy organizational box to hold and protect the supplies.

Don’t be fooled by the picture of the box above, there are a lot of supplies provided in this kit. The selection of decorative papers is so varied that it will appeal to a broad group of crafters and mixed media artists.

There are papers with maps on them:

There are cool vintage looking letter-style papers:

There are wall paper print papers:

More wall paper floral prints:

There are postage stamp images:

There is also a great selection of music sheet papers:

There are colorful and detailed bird images:

There are also butterfly and dragonfly images:

There are also some great rose papers:

The kit also supplies a “proportion wheel” which is a very handy tool for the beginner who likes to pre-calculate their layout. It helps the beginner figure out the measurements when working with different size ephemeral for their particular project. For those who enjoy the more traditional “cut and paste as you go method” you may not need the tool.

The instructional booklet is really easy to understand. It goes into detail on the composition and combining of decorative papers and ephemera. It also has some easy collage project ideas that anyone can gain inspiration from.

First Project

My first project was very simple, I combined some of the different papers from the kit to create a simple card.  

First, I chose the background image. Then I cut out the bird image and the flower image and glued them onto the card.

Bird Collage Card

Second Project

For my second project, I decided to cover a plain journal with some of the papers from this kit. I started by painting the base with some blue paint from Plaid. Then I gave it two coats of the Extreme Glitter Paint, also from Plaid.

I choose the papers, ephemera, and some glitter (from the Martha Stewart collection) to work with some cute ribbon that I had on-hand. I cut the various pieces out and then glued them onto the book cover. The project took about 20 minutes to finish (including paint drying time).

Journal

Third Project

For my third project, I decided to make a small wristlet-type purse for my daughter. I decided to use some scrapbooking papers that I had from the Echo Park Paper Co. The first paper I used from the Echo Park collection was the “Large Leaf Dot” paper from their “Dots and Stripes” collection.  

I put the wood frame onto the paper to trace the pattern.

I then did the same thing with the “Ruby Red Large Dot” paper.

Here is a side view of the wristlet.

And a front view of the finished wristlet. For more great ideas of things to do with your scrapbooking papers, just use the Craft Critique search box and enter a search for project ideas for scrapbooking paper.

The techniques covered in the instruction manual cover a nice base from which a beginner can create some fabulous work and build upon. Beyond instructions on how to make your first collage card, the book offers hints on aging, scumbling, and other tips and techniques. Additionally, due to the very generous amount of supplies, you can apply the knowledge learned from the kit to journaling and home-decor pieces.

The instruction manual is full of pictures of various items designed and made by Maryjo Koch with the materials in this kit. They range from cards to decorating journals. It offers very simple step-by-step instructions that are written for those who not familiar with collage work and/or working with antique-style ephemera. For someone seeking more advanced knowledge and ideas in collage, I would recommend one of Maryjo Koch’s books. This kit is created for beginners and is represented as such through the materials in the kit.

Pros:

  • This is a great kit for beginners.  
  • The patterns on the paper are varied and could be applied to a large range of crafting situations.
  • Everything you need is included in this kit (except scissors).

Cons:

  • Glue stick did not work well. Everything I glued with it came loose.
  • Paper colors seemed to all in the same color family… it would be nice to have fewer beiges and browns. Adding more bright colors would have accented the beautiful papers better.

What do you think? Is the Collage Vintage Notecard Kit something that you would use? Do you have any favorite collage papers and/or techniques you would like to share with our readers? Leave us a comment and let us know!

PenScore Foam

Reported by Sara McKenzie

Penscore Foam is a man-made material that softens significantly when exposed to heat from a standard heat gun. When it is soft, impressions can be made in the foam using 3-D objects- and the impressions will remain until the Penscore is heated again. It is a great toy to play with when you have some time to experiment. I bought my package some time ago- and the packaging has changed a bit, but the material remains the same. When I Googled “Penscore foam” I came up with tons of online sources, too numerous to mention here. The sheet stock (which is approximately 8″ X 10″) sells for upwards of $6.99 for a package of three sheets. You can also purchase it in 4″ X 3″ blocks for about $1.00 each. Keeping in mind that this is not the toy to pull out when you are in a time crunch to create a stamp or a gift, it is a wonderfully fun thing to play with!! When you are in an artsy mood and ready to experiment, pull out some Penscore. Look at the everyday objects around you with a different eye: what is the texture of that thing? What will it look like if I make an impression of it? I recommend using a piece that is about the size of the blocks that they sell. The reason is that it takes a bit of time to heat it up, and if you are using too large a piece, it starts to cool off before you have a chance to heat the entire surface up uniformly. So stick with something no bigger than 5″ X 4″ (a suitable size for a background of a greeting card). Below is a picture of the surface of the foam- this is an 8″ X 10″ sheet that I already cut in half.

Collect some ordinary, everyday things from around the house to make impressions from. They can’t be delicate, because you have to exert some pressure in order to make the impression in the foam deep enough. Below is a picture of some of the things I tried: a handful of raffia, a plastic fern, a large paper doily, some fabric netting, an old key, and a dry kitchen sponge. You can also make impressions of existing stamps- keeping in mind that you will end up with a reverse of the image; ie words won’t work!


Here are my individual experiments, and the results. For all of them , I used Tsukineko’s Kalieidacolor rainbow ink pads to give a little more interest to the image. The first is an impression of the key and the fabric netting.

Below is the dry kitchen sponge.

Here is a handful of raffia and the image it produces.

Finally, this is a combination of the plastic fern and the doily.

I had a really good time using this last piece as inspiration for a collage, which is shown below. You can get the details of how this came together on my blog, clicking here.

I hope you can see that I really enjoyed myself while I was playing with the Penscore Foam! Overall, here is my assessment: Pros:

  • It calls upon your creativity! You can go anywhere you want with this.
  • It is an inexpensive toy to play with.
  • If you end up with something you really want to keep, you can! The image stays intact until you heat it again.
  • If you get something you really hate, you can heat it up to “erase” the image, and start again.
  • It does not take a long time to get to a usable impression: a few minutes to heat it, then about 20-30 seconds to make an impression, and you can use it right away.
  • You can use dye inks, pigment inks, and even paint. I have not tried solvent inks- they might well eat-away at the foam. Try it on a small piece before you commit.

Cons

  • You have to press REALLY hard. I mean, REALLY hard, to get your impression. Thus, you cannot use anything delicate as the image.
  • The sheets are thin- only about 1/2″. It makes them a little difficult to use as a stamp. I ended up attaching mine temporarily to an acrylic block in order to get an even impression.
  • I’ve not seen it recently in brick-and-mortar stores. You might have to order it online.

For me, the Pros definitely outweight the Cons, and I’ll be reaching for this toy again soon! What do you think? Have you ever used it? Are you inspired to try? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and Keep creating!