Tag Archives | Distressing

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!

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

Tim Holtz Distress Embossing Powder

Reported by Heather Strenzwilk

Tim Holtz Distress Embossing powders are part of the exclusive line by Ranger. Like the rest of the Distress line, these embossing powders are designed to provide a worn or weathered look. There are currently 24 colors of embossing powder available, which correspond to Distress Ink colors.

After reading and hearing lots of negative feedback about this product, I was a bit apprehensive about trying it. The two main complaints I heard about the product were:

  • It is difficult to tell when the powder has been heated sufficiently because it doesn’t melt like ordinary embossing powder.
  • Too much of the powder (release crystals) rubs off the project. The Distress Embossing Powder has an the end result which is dull and pitted, unlike traditional embossing which is smooth and glossy.

But since it was on clearance for 97 cents a jar at a chain craft store, I decided to take a chance!

Rather than experiment immediately, I watched Tim Holtz himself demo the product on a You Tube video. The first thing I learned was that there is a Distress Clear Embossing Ink available and that you can use regular Distress Ink for embossing. According to the Ranger website Distress Ink is formulated for maximum release of the crystals in the Distress Embossing Powder. Since I already own several Distress Ink Pads, I used that ink for all of my samples except the flower where I used Colorbox Pigment Ink.

Tim suggests using a non-stick craft sheet for embossing to help prevent the melted embossing powder from sticking and to protect the work surface from the heat tool. You will also need embossing ink (or Distress Ink), stamps and a heat tool. I used a sheet of waxed paper under my tags when I poured the embossing powder, so I could pour the excess back into the bottle.
The embossing process is simple:

  1. Shake the bottle of Distress Embossing Powder to evenly distribute the release crystals.
  2. Stamp an image or apply embossing ink (or Distress Ink) to the project.
  3. Sprinkle powder over inked area.
  4. Tilt or move the project so that all of the ink is covered with powder.
  5. Carefully tap the project to remove excess powder.
  6. Pour the excess powder into the bottle or a container.

You don’t want the powder “loose” when you turn on your heat tool or it will blow all over. Use a heat tool to carefully melt the powder. The color and texture change is very subtle- so watch carefully. Tim says on his video that you can’t overheat the powder.

After melting allow the project to cool COMPLETELY. After it has cooled completely, lightly touch a small area to make sure the powder has adhered to the project. If the powder comes off, reheat and allow to cool again. Then rub your finger gently over the melted powder to remove the release crystals. The result will be a slightly-rough textured project, with a dull pitted surface. Note- do not try to save or reuse the release crystals you just rubbed off because it will alter the ratio of materials in the embossing powder (too much will rub off your project in the future.)

I didn’t really have a learning curve on this, I watched very carefully as I heated the powder until I noticed very subtle changes in color and texture. The first time I tried to remove the release crystals nothing really happened because I had the tag in my hand. As soon as I put it on the table and rubbed with my finger, the crystals released. The embossing is rough, Tim compared it to the texture of sandpaper, and I have to agree with him. I found my tags (and table) to have a gritty residue everywhere I used the powder.
To complete my tags I applied ink or other mediums (watercolor crayon) to add additional color and depth to the piece. I applied Distress Ink to one of my tags with a Ranger Inkssentials Blending Tool and it did not disturb the embossed area, but a few residue crystals rubbed off into the foam on the tool. I rinsed out of the foam with water, and they were gone.

The hardest part for me of using the Distress Embossing Powders was remembering that you can’t overcook it. In traditional embossing, you heat the powder just until it melts. With the Distress Embossing Powder, you need to heat the powder longer and you need to let it cool COMPLETELY before attempting to rub off the release crystals.
  • Colors coordinate to match Distress Inks
  • Clear cap shows color of the powder, which makes storage easier
  • Hard to tell when the powder has been heated sufficiently
  • Removing the release crystals after heating can be messy/ leave a gritty residue
I own many Ranger products, and I have always been pleased by their consistent quality. I love that the Distress Embossing Powder matches Distress Inks and can be used with them. Like most embossing powders, using the product can be messy and leave gritty residue behind. Because of the nature of the release crystals, that residue is much more likely to happen with the Distress Embossing Powder. Although I don’t see myself using the product often, the product performed as promised, and I rate it a 9/10.

What are your thoughts on Ranger’s Distress Embossing Powder? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Disclosure statement

And don’t forget about our Club CK Giveaway!

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

Tim Holtz Idea-ology Sanding Block

Reported by Martha Bonneau

When I received the Tim Holtz Sanding Block in a swap that I participated in, my first thought as “great, what am I going to do with this? I’m perfectly happy using the random sanding blocks and bits of sandpaper I steal from my husband’s workbench in the basement!” But while working on a project one day I found myself out of random bits of of pillaged sandpaper, and decided to give the Sanding Block a try. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, and now find that this tool is a staple on my scrap-table. The tool itself is simple enough; it consists of a rubber block that the sandpaper wraps around. The paper is secured by 2 spikes (concealed at each end) that securely hold the sandpaper in place.

The tool itself fits perfectly in the palm of my hand, and is very comfortable to use. It makes sanding textured surfaces and edges very easy, plus no more scraping my knuckles like when using random pieces of sandpaper! Because the sandpaper is wrapped around the Sanding Block, you can apply as much, (or as little), pressure as needed to get the effect you desire. I layered these paper flowers, and with just a couple of passes of the Sanding Block I was able to distress all of the layers.


  • Ergonomic and easy-to-use.
  • Smaller size than sanding blocks found at hardware store, certainly small enough to toss in scrapping tote.
  • Spikes securely hold sandpaper in place, which makes it easy to sand textured surfaces and edges.


  • Only comes with one piece of sandpaper. It would have been nice to have at least 1 additional piece of sandpaper included.
  • When I first opened the package, the product had a very, very strong smell and it took several days of letting it air out for it to diminish.
  • It would be nice to have a cover that fit over the sandpaper portion of the tool so it wouldn’t scratch other items in my tool-kit (or my fingers when reaching down into my scrapping tote!)

The Tim Holtz Idea-ology Sanding Block has a MSRP of $5.99. I have found the Sanding Block at my local craft store as well as on-line.

Do you use Tim’s sanding block? Or do you try to get away with random bits of leftover sandpaper? 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!