Tag Archives | easy craft projects

Vendor Spotlight – Letraset AquaMarkers

Reported by Maria Del Pinto

The Letraset AquaMarkers are markers with a water-based, acid-free pigment ink.  

The list price for one marker is $2.75 which is a lower price point than a Tombow Marker.   They are also sold in a set of twelve colors for around $29.95.  A google search found several great deals on these markers, so the price can vary according to the retailer.

This AquaMarker Set includes 12 markers with the added bonus of a “Blender” pen.  These water-based pigment inks are very vibrant.  The colors in this kit are:
  • Flame Red
  • Sepia
  • Gold Ochre
  • Straw Yellow
  • Bamboo
  • Celery
  • Fern Green
  • Aquamarine
  • Twilight Blue
  • Royal Purple
  • Rose Carmine
  • Lamp Black
The kit also includes a handy guide that gives hints on how to:
  • blend with water
  • achieve colour graduations
  • a handy color chart
  • how to use the blender marker
  • what types of paper work best with the markers
  • brief description of the nibs
The AquaMarkers have double nib tips like the other line of markers that Letraset carries.  However, these come with a fine tip nib on one end and 

medium brush like nib on the other end. 

These two nibs can be used to create a variety of effects with the inks.  The fine nib is used for drawing and small areas.

The medium brush like nib, is for filling in larger areas.

Because the inks blend easily, you can achieve similar effects to watercolor paints with color tone and washes as you would traditional water colors.  You can also soften the bright pigmented colors by adding water with a paint brush or  

Sable Paintbrush
using the ProMarker Blender pen.  There is more information on how to use the “Blender” pen on the Letraset website.    
AquaMarker Blender Pen
You can blend the pigment ink colors by using either the ProMarker Blender pen or a water brush pen filled with water.

This can be done without leaving a hard edge which can be a problem with some of the water color pens on the market today.  The colors can even be blended after they have dried.  

The manufacturer recommends using a hot-pressed watercolor paper.  More information on the types of papers to use are available on their website, along with some quick tutorials.  

I decided to test the markers on cold-pressed watercolor papers to see what type of results I would get.

Here are the results I got from testing five different types of cold press watercolor paper:

1.  The first paper I tried was “Canson” cold press 140lb fine grain paper (XL Series).

The inks worked well with that paper and spread without any problems.  Here is what the project looked like.

2.  The second paper I tried was Strathmore Watercolor cold press 140lb paper from the 300 Series.

I got a fairly decent watercolor effect with these, but I did have to wet the paper a lot.  

Here is what the project looked like with this paper.

3.  The third paper I tested these inks on was Biefang Watercolor 140lb paper by Speedball.
The color soaked into the paper.  The best way to work with this paper was to wet it well first, 

and then add the inks (working quickly before it had a chance to soak in again).

 I would not recommend using these inks on this paper.

4.  The fourth paper that I tested the inks on was Arches Watercolor cold press 140lb fine grain paper. 

The inks spread well using just the brush (wet with water).
It was an easy paper to work with and the inks were easy to control just by controlling the amount of water I used to create the watercolor wash effect.

5.  The fifth and final paper that I tested the inks on was Strathmore watercolor cold press 140lb paper (400) series.

  Once again, I encountered no issues.  The watercolor wash looked great and was easy to do on this paper.

I should point out that getting the stamped image to come out dark was a bit of a challenge. The Staz-on ink virtually sunk into the paper and faded out a bit.  I had to go over the stamped images with the Aquacolors to get in dark enough to photograph.

My first project which was a tag worked well for testing out the inks on cold press paper.  You cannot see it in this picture, but I added some Jacquard Pearl Ex powdered pigment to the water I used, to give the watercolor inks some shimmer.  They shimmer beautifully in person.
First Project – Tag
For the second project, I decided to demonstrate how to do a “Watercolor Wash” with these inks.
The project came out looking like this.

For my third project, I wanted to decorate a gift box.  Since the AquaMarkers are a pigment ink, they can be directly applied to rubber stamps.

Just remember to work fast.  I was given a hint by an avid stamper to blow on the inked stamp to keep the ink moist.  It may sound odd but for some reason the moisture from one’s breath keeps the ink moist. 

The ink will not stain the stamp, if you clean the stamp immediately after using it.  I used the stamp above and applied the ink directly to the stamp to stamp the image onto the box.  The AquaMarker pigment inks showed up great on this cardstock.  The box came out great. I glued some buttons and rhinestones to the box.  Then used some of my favorite ribbon to finish wrapping up the gift box.

The Letraset AquaMarkers are very versatile and fun to work with.  These markers are perfect for using on quick and easy craft projects.  They are easy to pack and do not take up much space, so taking the with you to do outdoor watercolor craft projects is convenient.  Additionally, the Letraset website states that the Aqua Markers ink is acid free, so they are considered to be safe to use in your scrapbooking.  I even think they would be fun to use to introduce watercolor wash techniques to older kids as a fun kids craft or art project.

  • Work fast, these pigment inks do dry up quickly.
  • Use a paint brush if you want to control the amount of water you get on your project.
  • There are some great YouTube videos on how to watercolor using the AquaMarkers and other similar markers. You can compare results with other brands while watching these great videos.
  • You can take the small circle stickers they sell at the office supply stores and place them on the nib covers and color them in with the corresponding nibs to make spotting the right color easier.
  • These colors are completely portable, which is a plus when you want to work outdoors or to take traveling for those last minute inspirations.
  • Easy to use.
  • Can be purchased as individual markers or in sets of 5 or twelve on the Letraset website.

  • They are addictive and you will want to play with them a lot.
  • They are not easy to find.
  • You have to be mindful of the type of paper you use these on.

What types of markers do you like to work with in your stamping and scrapbooking?  Please share any tips you may have for our readers.

Book Review | 101 Tees: Restyle*Refashion*Revamp by Cathie Filian

Reported by Maria Del Pinto

The book motto is to: “Restyle, Refashion and Revamp” your t-shirts.
I borrowed a copy of “101 Tees” by Cathie Filian from a friend of mine to check it out. You may know Cathie from the DIY Network show “Creative Juice,” the YouTube videos she films for Plaid, or her blogs.  

As someone who is always in support of recycling or upcycling clothing, this book was a treasure trove of ideas.  A quick glance convinced me that I needed to purchase a copy of this book for my own personal craft library.

My kids are always bringing home t-shirts from various events they participate in, and often the design, color or cut of the shirt is not particularly flattering for them.  In the past, we usually just cut off the neck and sleeves to change it up, or we turned them into pillow covers.  However, after reading this book, we realized the tremendous potential for individual expression that the author’s ideas allowed for.  Not to mention its potential for plenty of easy craft project ideas for teens and children alike.
Steve Piacenza and Cathie Filian

So how does Cathie go about upcycling old t-shirts?  Well, she gives the reader an easy series of steps to follow, along with a brief explanation of the different types of t-shirts to look out for.  She also uses simple techniques which are broken down by chapters to transform old t-shirts into something that reflects the readers personal taste and enjoyment.
There are 11 chapters which include the following subjects:
  • cutting and stitching
  • painting on fabric
  • dyeing fabric
  • appliques
  • embroidery
  • ribbons and trims
  • iron-ons and patches
  • sparkle and shine (rhinestones, paints, sequins, glitter paints)
  • mixed media
  • just the boys (male-orientated projects)
  • holiday and special occasion’s
  • templates
Within each chapter she covers a lot of material in a concise and interesting manner.  The book introduction gives some tips on supplies, preparation and caring for your t-shirts.  Cathie Fillian immediately gets into the process the t-shirt makeover process rather than spend pages talking about non-related matters.  The book also includes templates and great graphics  – a great time saver for the reader when one is trying to finish a project.  After all, how many of us get hit by the creativity bug at a time when it is just not feasible to go and search for templates at our local craft stores.  The pictures are really good and help you to get an idea of the style of shirt and its potential for re-styling.
In her book, she mentions that the first step is to wash your shirt.  This helps to remove dirt, stains, and any other chemicals that may be on the shirt.
The second step is to lay your shirt out and really look at it.  Decide what elements you want to keep and what elements of the shirt you do not want to keep.  This will help you figure out your layout and which pattern from the book best works with your particular shirt.  With over 101 different design ideas, you are bound to find one that works.
In the shirt that I choose, I like the color but find the shirt a bit boring.  The shirt itself has a nice cut to it.  It just needs something to make it more interesting.  So I went to Chapter 6 in her book that focuses on “Ribbons & Trims”.  She explains the different types of ribbons and trims, along with hints on how to best utilize them.  So I decided to lay out different trims to see what would work with this particular shirt.

 I started with the lace collar. Then tried a piece of lace on the shoulder.
I could not get it to work with the neck lines, so I tried it on the bottom of the shirt to see how that would look.  I liked the way that looked.
Then I decided to try a different type of lace on the center of the neckline. It was a bit too fancy for this shirt.
So I tried a different piece of lace on the shoulder area.
I then decided to try a ribbon flower and see how that would work.  It looked a little better.
I like to keep some things simple and this seemed about right.  My two favorite looks were the simple lace collar and the peach ribbon flowers.  You can see that just by laying the pieces out on the shirt, you can get good feel of what would work with that particular garment.
Cathie also talks about trims like rickrack, floral trims, rhinestone trims, buttons, ribbon & silk flowers and much more.  She gives you ideas on different ways to apply them to the fabric and to use them as a design element.
That being said, I wondered if I could apply the information from this book to something besides t-shirts.  So I looked through my closet for a different type of shirt to refashion.  I found a great cotton button up shirt to work with.

I looked through the book and found that Chapter 7, deals with “Iron-ons & Patches”.  So for my second project, I will just make some minor changes to the shirt by adding a cool iron transfer from Plaid that I recently picked up.  I ironed the shirt to remove any creases.
Then I followed the directions and ironed on the patch.  You should know that I have never ironed on a patch before and managed to mess this one up a bit.  So I decided to add some rhinestones with heat activated adhesive on the back to cover some small flaws.  It worked pretty well. Plus, I liked the way the shirt looked.  It will be the perfect shirt to wear when my kids and I go roller skating.
The ideas from the book are applicable to many different types of items.  I tried some of her applique tips on paper, and a couple of totes.  This first is a tote that I added another some bits and pieces that I found around the house, along with a cute “Cup Cake” iron on (this one worked much better than the first).

Then I tried some applique, trims and an iron on a different tote bag.
The final one is of a gift bag; I just cut out fabric and glued it onto the paper bag to make it look like an applique.  Then added some sparkle with glitter glue.
All in all, this is a great resource that can is not limited to use just on t-shirts.  You can apply the ideas in this book to a variety of projects.  
Please leave a comment below to tell us about your ideas and/or tips for recycling or upcycling t-shirts.