Tag Archives | Distressing

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: We R Memory Keepers Heart Attack (1 of 2)

Reported by Morgan Novak

We R Memory Keepers really does make some of the best scrapbooking and cardmaking tools out there, so I was excited to get my hands on this little guy; the Heart Attack Distressing Tool. I am not a super heavy distresser, but I do like to dabble when distressing fits the feel of a project. For this review though, I vowed to try a more heavy handed approach on my projects, and I was excited to play!

The Heart Attack comes with the Heart Attack tool itself, along with 3 adhesive-backed sandpaper sheets. To get yourself ready to go, you simply pull the back off one of the sandpaper sheets, apply it directly to the Heart Attack tool, and you’re good to go!

The Heart Attack also has a built in retractable blade for scraping your paper. To expose the blade you just push a little button up and it stays out. When you are all done, you just flip the button back down and you don’t have to worry about having a loose blade kicking around in your craft space.

For my first project I wanted to try out some plain ol’ sanding on a piece of embossed paper with a coordinating paper core. I slipped my finger into the little ring on the back of the tool and found that I really liked how well the size and shape of the Heart Attack fit into my hand. I also loved that you can switch the direction you are holding the tool, so that the bottom point of the heart is at the top allowing for a smaller section of sandpaper if you are working in smaller areas. I sanded away at my paper and was able to quickly sand the embossed portions of the paper down to the core very evenly while only applying a small amount of pressure!

I was so impressed with how easy it was to get a completely even level of sanding on a card front sized piece of paper, that I decided to try again with a larger, 12×12″, piece of embossed paper. I found that I was just as pleased with the result on the larger piece!

After I was done sanding the embossed pattern down, I thought that it would be fun to try out the scraping blade next. I pushed the button up, exposed the blade and scraped it along all 4 sides of my paper. I have to admit, I was pretty timid at first, but once I saw how nicely the blade was scraping the paper, and how easy it was to control the amount of distressing, I got a little heavier handed and scraped evenly again and again until I reached my desired look.

Next, I stashed the blade back away using the button, and went back to the sandpaper. This time I used it to lightly distress the edges of the We R Memory Keepers cardstock that I wanted to use as my layout base. This was my first time using WRMK cardstock, and I really liked the texture! The edges sanded very nicely!

Here you can see all 3 sanding and scraping levels that I used; flat sanding on an embossed cardstock, scraping the edges of the same cardstock using the blade, and lightly distressing the edges of the WRMK cardstock using the sandpaper.

I liked using the blade portion of the tool to scrape the edges of paper and then rolling them up a little, so I decided to also use the same technique on the edges of my patterned paper, which is all from the cute “Family Keepsake” collection!
All in all, I really liked how the Heart Attack tool worked for my uses. I also like that it comes with re-fill pieces of the adhesive backed sandpaper so that, although I barely noticed any wear on the sandpaper after my projects were finished, I don’t have to be worried about wearing through them and can happily distress away!
  • Gives you great control over what area you are distressing and how heavy handed you want to be.
  • Very easy to maintain even pressure with not a lot of effort.
  • The blade housing seems to be very tight, as to not allow paper scraps in to gum up the works.
  • At $5.99 MSRP, I think it’s well worth it.

  • The blade can get caught up in lighter-weight papers if you don’t slow down your distressing pace.
  • Adhering pieces of paper after sanding can be a little tough because of the paper “dust,” but that’s a general hazard of distressing, not the Heart Attack’s fault.

Our friends at We R Memory Keepers are giving away a Heart Attack Tool and the Fiesta paper collection and Family Keepsake paper collection to one lucky reader. Just answer the any of the following questions in the  comment section of this blog on either of the articles about the Heart Attack Tool to be entered:

How much distressing do you like to use on your paper crafts projects? Do you think you would benefit from the easy control and maneuverability of the Heart Attack? Are you using it already and loving it?

You have until Friday, April 15th at 6pm CST to leave your comment.
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Retractable Craft Scratcher by Tim Holtz

Reported by Taylor Usry

Have you seen this great Retractable Craft Scratcher from Tim Holtz? I came across it about a year ago and snapped it up immediately. Since then it has become an indispensable tool for distressing all of my projects. It’s a small (about the size of a pen) tool that packs a big punch!

The scratcher retails for around $5.00 and is widely available online and in stores that sell Tim Holtz/Tonic Studios products. It is comfortable to hold and easy to operate – just push down on the lock and slide it into place. The wires will extend and you are all set! To retract them, push the lock down again and slide it back up. It’s that simple! Here is the “official” description of this tool:

Distress photos, papers, cardstock, chipboard, Grungeboard™, polymer clay, and even metal with this handy wire brush. Go lightly over your surfaces or apply more pressure for heavily grunged looks: you are in complete control with this tool! The kushgrip handle provides a comfortable non-slip grip, while the wire brush fully retracts into it for safe transport and storage.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? It is! I’m going to share a variety of my favorite products to use it with.

First up are acrylic tags. These happen to be Fragments by Tim Holtz. I started by using the tool to scratch both sides of the tag, and then stamped my sentiment on it using Staz-on ink.

You can see the difference between the tag that I left plain, and the tag that I distressed.

Next I tried the scratcher with some polymer clay. I’ve always made my little clay trinkets by using the tool first, and then baking it. But for this demo I did it both ways. On the left are the different things you can do with the tool before baking – poke holes (my favorite), wavy lines, straight grooves, dotted grooves. Then I baked the clay in the oven, and tried the tool on the right side (after it cooled). You can just barely see faint scratch marks left by the tool. It will work in a pinch.

Here is the tool with cardstock (Stampin Up) and designer paper (Basic Grey). This cardstock is not white-cored, but I have used it on that kind before with very cool effects. You can see in the photo that the more you go over an area with the tool, the more distressed it will get. On the designer paper, it begins to pull up small areas and reveal the white core. On the cardstock it gets a bit fuzzy.

This is a small metal tag I have had forever. It scratched up like nobody’s business. I love the way the wire bristles scuff up metal. It only took about 30 seconds to take this tag from completely smooth to this scratched up. You don’t have to work hard at all.

I tried it on plain chipboard next. These are actually the 4″ x 4″ coasters, medium thickness. On the left side, with the blue and red ink, I went over the coaster with the scratcher several times before sponging on the ink. Can you see all of the grooves and lines? The coaster has a much grungier feel to it than the one on the right, with just blue ink sponged on to it.

Lastly I used the scratcher on Tim Holtz’s Grungeboard. The keyhole on the left has been scratched up using the tool, and then had distress ink sponged on. The key on the right just had ink sponged on to it. Notice how on the keyhole the grooves from the scratcher soaked up more ink? You can see the “grain” much better on that one.

I absolutely love this little tool. It is an inexpensive, versatile addition to my craft arsenal. I’m so glad I happened upon it!


  • Small, lightweight, portable
  • Very affordable price
  • Kushgrip makes it comfortable to hold and use


  • When using with polymer clay, the clay can gunk up the wires. It’s easily cleanable, but takes patience on occasion.
  • There aren’t any other cons, in my opinion!!

The Tonic Studios Tim Holtz 373 Retractable Craft Scratcher and refills Tonic Studios Tim Holtz 374 Refill Blades for Retractable Craft Scratcher, Pack of 4 are available at If you buy them by clicking that link, you’ll be helping support Craft Critique!

Have you used the Tim Holtz Craft Scratcher? What fun things do you use them on? Leave us a comment and let us know!


UTEE vs. Crackle Accents

How about a warm welcome to Kandi Phillips!

Kandi is married to an amazing guy named Jake, who fully supports her craft addiction, thankfully! She has two wonderful kids, Gwynie (10) and Brady (7) who are the funniest and cutest kids you’ll ever meet (she may be just a bit biased). Kandi loves reading, sleeping in on the weekends, White Chocolate Mochas from Starbucks, laughing until her cheeks hurt, and playing Rock Band with the coolest friends a girl could have. When she’s not doing all those fun things, Kandi works full time for a nationally-based company in Accounts Payable. You can find Kandi’s work at her blog

Reported by
Kandi Phillips

Repeated layers of Ranger’s Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel (UTEE) can give your stamped images an antique finish, but is there a quicker way to get that aged to perfection look? Crackle Accents, also by Ranger, is designed to be a one step crackle medium, but I wanted to know how it stacked up next to UTEE. I compared the two in similar trials to find out which product worked best in different circumstances.

First, I tried both Crackle Accents and UTEE on chipboard letters. The Crackle Accents worked perfectly, while the UTEE left much to be desired. The Crackle Accents has a fine point, which is wonderful for precise application, but came out extremely slow, and had to be consistently squeezed to get it to come out. Covering a medium sized chipboard letter took several minutes and caused lots of hand cramping. The end result was well worth the work though, as it created a beautiful crackle after the Crackle Accents dried. Drying time is 1-4 hours based on thickness, and this chipboard letter K took 1 hour and 5 minutes to dry.

Using UTEE, on the other hand, was a quick process, but did not come out with the desired results. The UTEE did make a glossy finish, but when trying to bend the chipboard even slightly to create a crack, the chipboard peeled apart.

Wondering what Crackle Accents would look like on a button, I tried three different buttons of varying textures. Drying time was about an hour and a half, and turned out just as gorgeous as the chipboard letter. Since I knew I wouldn’t be able to bend a button, I didn’t try this test with the UTEE.

So, for hard items like buttons and chipboard, the Crackle Accents wins hands down. Aside from the possible hand cramping and drying time, Crackle Accents is the perfect medium for a cracked finish on 3-D items. Here is a card created with the finished chipboard letter and one of the buttons.

Next, I did the traditional Cracked Glass technique with the UTEE on a stamped image. By applying three alternating layers of Versamark and UTEE, and heat embossing each layer, you end up with a thick glossy finish. After allowing your piece to cool, simply bend your cardstock to “crack” the finish. This creates an antique look in a matter of minutes, which is sure to wow your recipient!
However, the process can be messy when alternating between Versamark and UTEE. Also, if you don’t shake off enough of the excess UTEE, it can spray everywhere when the heat gun is aimed toward it.

When using the Crackle Accents for the Cracked Glass technique I was quite disappointed. While the fine point tip was great for chipboard, it was a major setback when covering a large image. I ended up cutting off the tip to allow more product to pass through as it was proving difficult to cover a small square of cardstock. Drying time for a small stamped image was just over three hours. Crackle Accents also caused the edges of the cardstock to invert, as well as smearing the stamped image. I tried a watercolored image and a basic stamped image, and both showed signs of smearing after the Crackle Accents dried.

If you’re a stamper and want to create an aged image for your cards or scrapbook pages, you’ll want to stick with UTEE. The fast turnaround time, combined with the fact that your images show through perfectly, makes it the winner. Here is a card for a sweet friend, and you can bet she will be wowed with the cracked glass look!

UTEE Pros:

  • Entire process takes about 10 minutes to achieve an antique look
  • Perfect for stamped images


  • Can be messy

Crackle Accents Pros:

  • Can be used on hard surfaces like buttons or chipboard
  • Does have a gorgeous crackle that is unique from the cracked glass look

Crackle Accents Cons:

  • Drying time is one to four hours depending on thickness of product applied, so if you want to finish a project you need to plan ahead.
  • Stamped images will smear and bleed
  • Paper tends to curl
  • Fine tip point, although useful, causes product to come out slowly and can make your hand cramp while trying to apply!

I know I’ll be keeping both on hand as I can see myriad projects that each can be used for. Do you have anything special in mind? We’d love to see your creations with UTEE or Crackle Accents!

Disclosure Statement

And don’t forget about our Club CK Giveaway! Today’s the last day!

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