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Vendor Spotlight: Sakura

Reported by Heather Voinski

It’s no secret that I am attracted to pretty paper and things that are shiny and sparkle! Pens have really never been something that I have had a thing for. Until now!

Sakura of America has been in business since 1921, making artistic tools that are made to give everyone the “Power to Express!” They make everything from pens and pencils, to oil pastels and watercolors, and also adhesives and erasers. They were the first to create a gel-based ink in 1984. I jumped at the chance to check out the pens made by Sakura for myself.

The first product that I tried out were the Permapaque Opaque Markers. I was intrigued by them because I love to paint all kinds of things and really don’t like to wait for things to dry. I tried the pretty pink first on a chipboard box (according to the packaging, these aren’t made for chipboard, but I am always willing to give something a try).

I started my box and was able to cover it with color in about 5 minutes. By the time I was done it was already dry. I was able to apply my pretty patterned paper to it and it was complete in under 15 minutes. Love that!!


I then tried it on some grundgeboard shapes that I planned to use in a mini book. Once again it covered the grungeboard with ease and dried super quick!


My overall opinion is that I love these little markers, and that I need some more of them! I went on to cover 2 more chipboard boxes, and in under an hour had some cute packaging for my handmade Christmas presents.

The next product I tested out were the Gelly Roll Stardust Pens. These have become my favorite. These roller ball pens are pigment based and are archival quality ink. They contain “cosmetic grade, finely ground glass” that they give you just the right amount of shimmer that isn’t overly obnoxious.



They easily covered some grundgeboard letters. Once again, they dried in under a minute. They are going to make a lovely addition to my Christmas Album this year.

Stardust pens also makes a clear version, and I must say it is my favorite of all and will be a staple in my craft tool box! I used it to color in some pretty patterned paper.

Next up was the Pen Touch Silver Metallic marker. This is an easy to use archival quality ink pen that is odor-free and permanent on most surfaces.

I tested this pen out on the edges of the chipboard box I made and it worked like a charm at making my edges silver. The flow of ink was steady and made it very easy to do, even with my shaky hands.


I also used this pen on some mismatched chipboard letters that I wanted to use on a mini book. They were all a different color. I used the pen to color in my chipboard letters so they all looked the same. The coverage was excellent on the chipboard and they dried super quick!


Next I tried out Sticklers. I received a package of Silver outline stickers of hearts, butterflies, suns, and flowers. When I saw these they screamed cell phone embellishments. I got out my little phone and immediately applied some silver outlines to the front of my phone.

I then flipped it over and applied some cute heart shapes to the back. I filled in the hearts with Sakura Glaze 3D pens. These pens took a bit longer to dry than the other pens but it was definitely worth it. They dried to a smooth, 3D and shiny!!

These Sticklers have proved to be quite durable. I work in healthcare and clean my cell phone with alcohol prep pads at least 3 to 4 times a week. My phone and the stickers have been cleaned at least 10 times now and they havent budged!! Something I am really loving!

The last product that I tried were the Gelly Roll Metallic pens. These roller ball pens are also comprised of archival ink and go on smoothly. I’ve found that they give you a little more bling than the Stardust pens, but are still not too shiny or obnoxious.

I used these pens on the cover of a day planner that I made. The cover is acrylic with patterned paper underneath. I took a pen and started highlighting the patterned paper to made it standout. In the first picture I left a few of the green squares not colored in so you can see the difference.


The bunny below was also accented to stand out!

Pros:

  • Almost all of them are fast drying
  • Can be found at your local craft store
  • Variety of different products
  • Can be used on almost all surfaces

Cons:

  • Glaze pens do take longer to dry than the others

Overall, I had a blast trying these products made by Sakura. I believe them to be of the highest quality, and they will be staying right at hand in my craft area for use on projects. Have you ever tried these products? Do you think they are something you would purchase? As always, we love to hear you questions and comments!!!

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

Vendor Spotlight: Sakura

Reported by Rachel Johnson

I am dedicated to writing honest craft product reviews, so I must tell you the truth… I was already a huge fan of Sakura pens before I was assigned to review their products for Craft Critique. I have been using their Metallic and Stardust pens for nearly ten years and always have a pink or green one in my bag for crafty emergencies. I was very excited for this opportunity to review more of Sakura’s products.

Based in Japan, Sakura has been making quality “marking tools” since 1921. They invented gel ink in 1984, and in 2002 they invented the 3-D ink used in their Glaze and Souffle pens. Many of Sakura’s inks have been patented, and the company makes both mainstream pens and professional artist tools. In my opinion, Sakura Gelly Roll gel pens are the highest quality pens you can buy. Even the design and packaging of the pens is superb!


I received a wide variety of Sakura’s pen products to review, some of which I had never used before. My first step in trying out the products was to create a “glossary” of pen types on both white and black paper so that I would have a resource which could help me determine which type of pen I should use in different situations. I used thick, smooth card stock for my tests seen below.

Following are my observations of each type of pen.

Glaze: These pens create a thick 3-D line and their ink is slightly transparent. They create vibrant color on white, but most colors do not show up well on black. You can use the Glaze pens alone or with Sakura Stick-lers to create 3-D decorations on any surface (like cell phones, mirrors, etc.), and they create a cool stained glass effect when used on clear surfaces, like vellum paper. In my opinion, Glaze pens are not very good for letter or note writing. They take a while to dry, and can be a bit tacky once they do dry, so I suggest not stacking paper with Glaze ink on top of each other. You also sometimes need to wipe off the tip of the Glaze pens to remove excess ink.

Stardust: These are my favorite pens to use on white paper. They are super-sparkly, with glitter included in the ink (I mean, who doesn’t like a glitter gel pen?!). They are slightly transparent, but much more opaque than the Glaze. You can use them on black for decorative elements, or just to add a little sparkle, but they are not the best writing pen for use on black. Stardust’s gel ink is not 3-D, so it dries much more quickly than the Glaze ink. I like to use these pens to write letters and notes, but the ink is not archival, so you may not want to use them in memory books. Sakura also makes a clear version of the Stardust pen which you can use to add a touch of glitter anywhere!

Metallic: I think these gel pens are best for conventional letter writing – although they are much more than a conventional pen! The ink is silvery and shiny, but not glittery. They need practically no drying time, and leave a thin line. I personally like the sepia brown color as an alternative to a boring black pen. The Metallic pens show up silvery-opaque on black. They are also archival, waterproof, and fade-resistant – perfect for use in scrapbooks. All that, and they come with adorable glittery caps! Perfect!


Moonlight: I received the fluorescent Dawn Color Moonlight gel pens to review. They are opaque, luminous, neon colors that will glow under black light. The Moonlight pens are super smooth and fun to use! They look great on white, but are amazingly bright on black. They write almost like paint pens on many types of surfaces, even photos.

Souffle: These pens are a very unique product. They have a 3-D opaque ink that dries to a completely matte finish that almost looks chalky. I love the baby pink, teal, and charcoal black colors! For the best results, write slowly and allow a considerable amount of time (at least 5 minutes) for the ink to dry. The colors become more opaque as the ink dries, especially on black paper. Souffle pens work on nearly any surface, but they are most striking on dark colors. In fact, they are my favorite pens to use on black paper. They leave a cool raised line, but be careful; you can scratch the finish of the Souffle ink even when dry.

Pen-touch Silver Metallic Marker: This is a very smooth, very opaque, silver paint pen. It is even completely opaque and shiny on black. Impressive!

Permapaque: These are opaque paint markers that are two-sided, with a fine tip and a chisel tip. They write on any surface and are archival, non-toxic, odorless, and waterproof. They work like permanent Sharpie markers, but are more opaque and write on black! They would make fantastic poster markers.

Quickie Glue Pen: This product is revolutionary! It is my favorite new product. It produces a smooth thin glue line, great for use with glitter. You can write out words or doodles and then coat with fine glitter for a detailed effect. I highly recommended this product if you like adding glitter to your designs! It is great for precision work and delicate or detailed paper craft projects, but it is not the most tacky or strong glue – it is not for gluing down large elements. Also, write slowly with the Quickie Glue Pen for the best results.


Once I had tried out all of the different pens, I went to work on a few craft projects using the pens as my main craft tool. Just as an example of how you can use many of the Sakura pens on black paper, I made a tag for a small gift using the pink Moonlight pen for the writing and the clear Stardust pen for the hearts and stars. The tag is simple, but I think it makes a strong impression because of the bright pink color.


Next, I created an 8″x 8″ inch scrapbook page. I was determined to create all of the embellishments and patterns from scratch using only Sakura pens. The only supplies I used for the page were plain white, purple, pink, and black paper and the range of Sakura pens seen above. I added a few sparkly embellishments to the page at the end, but everything else was drawn by hand by me.


I created the background ripple pattern using the pink Glaze pen on white paper. I made the long photo border using black paper and the purple Souffle pen, layered with the pink Stardust pen, pink Moonlight pen, and white Souffle pen. I drew the square photo frame using the black Glaze pen on purple paper with pink & purple Souffle accents. For the journaling element, I used the purple Metallic pen and the black Souffle pen. The word “family” was created using the Quickie Glue Pen and my own charcoal grey glitter. It was very simple to write with the glue pen and add glitter after I had written out the full word. The flower embellishments on the page were made using a combination of many different pens on different colors of card stock. It was fun to experiment with the different colors and textures!


Even though I sometimes frown at my own handwriting, it was was cool to create a memory page using only my creativity and doodling skills instead of simply buying patterned papers and factory-made embellishments. The variety of pen styles pushed me to expand on my decorative style and try out new techniques. I am happy with the result!


I continued my foray into making my own decorative elements by creating a Halloween card. I used only the handful Glaze and Souffle pens seen below to create all of the elements on the paper card. I like how slick and shiny the Glaze colors became, but it was a little bit difficult to fill in the large area of the pumpkin – some parts would start to dry while I was still filling in adjacent areas. The resulting finish is not as consistent as I would like. It also took quite a while for the different elements to dry, so I had to wait longer than usual to assemble the final card. Despite the slight frustration with the drying time, I am impressed with how vivid all of the colors on the card turned out, and am pleased to have created something unique.


I have always been impressed with Sakura’s pen quality, but their dedication to innovation is what really sets their products apart. After exploring the many varieties of Sakura pens, I know that there is a pen out there for any type of project I can imagine. I would highly recommend all of the Sakura products I have tried. However, it is important to read the pen descriptions and match the correct pen to your project in order to get the desired effect.

Pros:

  • There is an amazing variety of Sakura pen types and colors.
  • Many of the pens can write on almost any surface, including dark surfaces, glass, and metal.
  • High quality, “ice cream smooth” gel ink that stay viable for years (some of my Sakura pens are nearly ten years old!).
  • Permanent, water-proof, archival, and fade-resistant options.
  • Innovative 3-D inks (in the Glaze and Souffle pens) that add texture to your designs.
  • Fun and distinctive pen design – I love those colored caps!

Cons:

  • Some pens, such as the 3-D Glaze and Souffle, take a long time to dry.
  • Glaze pens don’t show up well on dark surfaces.
  • Not all Sakura inks are archival – check the packaging for details.

Have you used these or other Sakura products? Which are you favorites?

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

Vendor Spotlight: Sakura

Reported by Jessica Ripley

When I first started crafting and scrapbooking, one of the very first things I bought was a set of Sakura Glaze Pens. They were so pretty in their packaging, and I loved the idea of being able to journal on a layout in several colors. Over the course of using them they quickly became a favorite tool in my crafty arsenal. I found they had many more uses than just journaling alone, and I was absolutely thrilled to be able to participate in a review of Sakura products so I could try out even more of what they had to offer.

And oh my goodness, when I received my package I had never realized just how much they had to offer! There seems to be a type of pen for just about everything, from the 3D Opaque Souffle Pens, to the Glaze, the Metallic to the Moonlight set which glows under a black light (how cool is that?). Sakura has truly developed a product line that has something for everyone. Knowing my main use for their products would normally be for paper projects, I set to work testing every one on both black, textured cardstock and white, smooth cardstock. I knew this would give me a good idea of both ink flow from each type (Gelly Roll vs. Souffle for example) and how I could expect them to look on dark vs. light projects.

Here’s my test piece:

All inks showed up well on the white side, with the exception of a few of the lighter colors such as the 3D Opaque Souffle in yellow. All were also extremely easy to write with on the smooth cardstock, though I was happier with the flow of the ink from the Gelly Roll pens vs. the Souffle. The Gelly Roll just seemed to write more like a traditional pen to me, and the result was much neater and allowed for a little more flair in my handwriting (which can use all the help it can get!). I starred the black 3D Glaze to remind myself that I loved how it wrote and looked, I frequently journal in black when I hand-write, and this may be my new pen to do so with!

Not all inks came through well on the black side however. A few did really well, such as the Souffle 3D Opaque, Gelly Roll Moonlight, and the white Pen-Touch (shown at the very bottom). Those that did not were the Gelly Roll Stardust, Metallic, and also the 3D Glaze. The Glaze actually does not show up at all, even in the lighter colors. Still, I was pleased with how those three looked on the white side and now know they will only be used on lighter colored projects. All inks also performed great on the textured cardstock, and I didn’t find it made a noticeable difference in how easily the ink flowed.

Now that I had my “cheat sheet,” I set off to create a few projects, including different surfaces to see how I could stretch my craft room staple into new uses. I’ve listed them below in order of my least to most favorite in performance and overall result. Please don’t get me wrong though, the quality of all of these is excellent and it was very hard to choose!

Starting with my least favorite, the Quickie Glue Pen:

I really, really wanted to love this one. It seems like such a wonderful thing to be able to use a pen to add glue to an embellishment that has fine detail, but I found that this was not exactly what this product is best used for. The glue just really isn’t sticky enough to use it for gluing down things, and it doesn’t dry quickly. That said, this pen is excellent for adding glitter to a project in fine detail. It literally writes glue, and goes on in a light blue color so you can see where you are placing it. The slow drying time also allows you ample time to complete your design before applying glitter. It dries in a slightly puffy way as well to add some dimension. I think part of the reason this was my least favorite to try was that I had very high hopes for its uses, but I can’t think of many more than this. Still, if you use glitter quite a bit, this pen is for you.

Here’s a card I made using the Quickie Glue. The flowers were hand-drawn with it and then glitter was applied.


Pros:

  • The light blue color of the glue makes it easy to see where you are applying it.
  • The pen tip is a great idea for detail work with glitter.
  • The glue flows very well.
Cons:
  • The glue doesn’t stick well when it comes to adding embellishments or paper.
  • I’m not sure what other uses it would then have other than adding glitter.
  • Slow drying time.

Next is a product that I would have loved to have in college. Loved I tell you! The Gelly Roll Moonlight Pens not only look brilliant and bright on paper in normal light, but actually glow under a black light.


Black light… college… when we were cool and had awesomely decorated dorm rooms right? These pens wrote wonderfully and are vibrant and fun. Personally, they are low on my list because I couldn’t think of what to do with them. With Halloween around the corner however I decided to try them out on a mask and see how the black light effect worked. Here it is in daylight:


And under a black light:

My husband was a semi-willing model.

Writing on the mask itself the pens worked well… better on smaller details rather than on coloring in the large areas. Going over the same areas again to try and thicken the color just proved to scratch off a bit what was already there. I was impressed with how well they did actually considering the fabric of the mask was not only textured but slippery. What other uses can you think of for these? I’d love to hear in the comments and even see some projects if you’ve given them a try.

Pros:

  • Vibrant and bright color!
  • Ink flows very well, easy to write with.
  • Looks pretty darn cool under black light.
Cons:
  • I’m not sure what I would really use this set for.
  • Didn’t allow for a second coat very well, just scratched off what was already applied (but that could have been my surface of choice).
  • Ink flows better on smaller details, and that may play against its black light coolness factor.

Coming in next were the Clear Stardust Gelly Rolls in Clear.

As you’ll see in a bit down the list the Stardust pens in colors were one of my favorites to use, but something about the flow of the clear versions wasn’t as great. It may have to do with the fact that the tip on the Clear Stardust pen is .5mm (the colors have twice that at 1.0mm), and though that allows for great detail work and writing, the fact that they are clear meant that I needed more of that flow a larger tip would allow to add a good amount of ink to whatever project I was accenting. I don’t think this had an effect on the overall result however, which I found really fun. Here’s a card I created where I used the pen to fill in the star as an accent:


It is a little hard to see in the photo, but the pen has a silvery glitter effect.

I think it would be great if these came in the pack with the other colors as an accent, but it definitely has some potential.


Pros:
  • Great idea to add sparkly detail to projects.
  • Ink flows well.
  • Easy to add detail with.
Cons:
  • The fine tip is just a little too fine, and restricts the surface area it covers quickly.
  • Doesn’t come with any other colors.
  • The sparkle isn’t as brilliant as the pack that has color to it.

Sakura was also kind enough to send a product I’ve seen in stores but never picked up, their adorable Sticklers.

The Sticklers come complete with foil stickers and a set of pens to color them in and create customizable accents. These are really fun, and the designs very cute. On the package they show them being used on an Ipod and cell phone, so I got curious and decided to try them out on my old Nano.

This was incredibly fun to do, and I love the result. The 3D Souffle Pens that came with the package worked extremely well writing on the smooth surface, and the stickers had just enough of a ridge to keep the free flowing ink contained until it dried. I let it dry overnight just to be safe, and testing by rubbing my thumb over the designs hasn’t done any damage at all. This is a really cute idea for customizing things. It’s a little lower on my list simply because I am honestly not a sticker girl and the designs aren’t quite to my taste, but I don’t think I’ll be able to resist playing with these again in the near future. The packs also only come with three colors, so to really make the most of them it would be good to have a full set of the Souffle pens on hand.

Pros:
  • Very easy to work with.
  • The stickers stick well, and have just enough ridge to hold in the ink from the pens.
  • The Souffle pens that come with work great on Ipods, just like the package suggests.
Cons:
  • The designs of the stickers are a little to “cutesy” for my taste personally.
  • The packs only come with 3 colors to play with.
  • Permanent Drying time may be long (I didn’t chance it under 8 hours).

Rounding out the bottom 5 is the Pen-Touch White Pen.

I am always on the look out for a good white pen, and this one works pretty well. This is the only “pump to work” pen that I had to try, and once I followed the instructions to get the ink flowing, it worked great. In fact I’ve gone back to use it since and haven’t had the need to pump it again. I decided I’d try it on what I most often use white pens for: journaling on black cardstock. I was disappointed at first… only at first however… as the writing didn’t show up well. In fact I had pushed my layout aside a bit frustrated trying to think of how I could save it, until I noticed that I just had to be patient and wait for the ink to dry.


After a few minutes the ink from the Pen-Touch does dry and become completely opaque and bright. It’s not an immediate result, but I was happy in the end.

My wish is that it had a finer tip for journaling, and also the ink is just a bit runny, but any white pen that gives me a bold and bright line against a dark background is one that I’ll definitely reach for again.

Pros:
  • White ink shows up great on black cardstock once it dries.
  • Pumping was necessary only at the beginning.
  • Ink flows wonderfully
Cons:
  • Ink flows a little too wonderfully and can be runny.
  • The tip isn’t fine enough to allow for extremely neat handwriting.

Now onto my favorites, the first of which is Gelly Roll Metallics.

The package says these are “ice cream smooth,” and they aren’t kidding. They write beautifully! On my test papers above even though they didn’t show well on black (which was kind of a surprise) I love the way they look on the white. The sheen is beautiful. I decided to try them out on a photo, to see if they’d smear at all. On the photo they worked wonderfully.

I also decided to try them on an acrylic coaster, but this led to a tiny craftastrophe. Even though I let the ink dry for about half an hour before touching it, when I did is smeared way too easily. Me and my impatient crafting I suppose, but even going back another hour later, it still smeared in the same way. (And I tried again after it had set overnight as well… still smeared).
But that’s ok, just a test. And what they can do in other ways made up for this little mistake. I have big plans for these come holiday card making season.

Pros:
  • Beautiful color, the sheen is perfect.
  • Ink flows amazingly well.
  • The tips are just right, allowing for fine handwriting.

Cons:

  • The inks definitely didn’t dry on an acrylic surface.
  • Can’t think of any more!

Now come the three pen packs which were very hard to pick and choose from as to one’s performance over another. Though it was very hard to choose, my least favorite of the three are the 3D Glaze Pens.

When comparing them to the other two, I had to take into account that on dark surfaces these didn’t work at all (per my test page above), though I still love to use them for adding accents or journaling to a scrapbook layout or card. The ink flow is great, and the color on the right background is wonderful.

Here I used them to add detail and a little pop to the patterned paper in this heritage layout:


They are still and will always be on hand when I’m crafting and need to add just that extra something.

Pros:
  • Ink flows extremely well and they are easy to use.
  • They can add just the right unique touch to many project possibilities.
  • Great color variety to a pack.
Cons:
  • The ink doesn’t show up well at all on very dark surfaces.
  • Ink is just a little runny and a lighter hand is best.

As you can see in the test above these come through brilliantly on both dark and light surfaces. In fact I very much prefer their look on the black over the Gelly Roll Moonlight set.

They are wonderful for adding embossed type detail, as I did with the stamp on the card below:

The flow is fabulous, and my only wish is that I could be light-handed enough with them to write a little clearer. The ink flows so well, my letters tend to run together a bit. But still, love these and the effects I get.

Pros:
  • Ink shows up on both light and dark surfaces very well.
  • The opaque look once it dries is very pretty and adds a great touch.
  • I can see myself reaching for these again and again for several types of projects.

Cons:

  • Ink flows very quickly, and that can lead to very detailed designs slightly running together.
  • Takes a minute or so to dry to its full opaqueness, so there is a bit of a guessing game as to what the final design will look like until it does so.

The biggest surprise out of the products I reviewed were the Permapaque Paint Markers.

I did not expect to love these as much as I did, but they are really brilliant. Dual tipped with a chisel point on one side and a fine point on the other, the package states that there is no pumping, shaking, odor, or mess. They deliver! I decided to go all out and take a stab at a metal project since they stated it was suitable for it, and it was so easy I couldn’t believe it.

I was able to get great coverage using the chisel tip of the black marker in two coats, being able to apply the second coat within 10 minutes of the first due to the quick drying time. I did coat the final result with a bit of Sparkle Mod Podge just to be sure it didn’t scratch off when being packed away for the Halloween Season. There literally is no odor, which I believe is huge when it comes to paint markers, and I never once had to shake it to continue the ink flow. These markers are amazing! I will be completing a color collection of these very soon!

Pros:
  • Excellent paint coverage with absolutely no odor (trust me, I got some on my nose checking).
  • The dual tip makes it possible to use them for a variety of projects.
  • Amazing ink/paint flow that never required pumping or shaking – even writing consistently at an angle.

Cons:
  • It took 2 coats to cover my project (but that’s it!).
  • The ink did scratch off a little bit if it wasn’t completely dry before adding the second coat.

Finally, a set that I didn’t know I needed until I had it: the Gelly Roll Stardust Galaxy set.


Once again the package states “ice cream smooth” and it really is. These write so wonderfully I wish it was acceptable to use them at work. Not only are the colors great, the ink contains just the right amount of glitter to shine through without being too glittery. Does that make sense? It’s a classy, subtle sheen that adds pop without over-doing it. I was having way too much fun with these and went all out with using them on this little wooden witch:


They wrote just as well on the wooden surface as they did paper, and dried quickly too. Within 20 minutes I could touch the surface without getting any ink on my fingers. Loved, loved, loved these!

Pros:
  • Gorgeous result, just the right amount of sparkle.
  • Ink flows just like a normal pen, wish I could use it at work! (maybe I’ll try and see if anyone notices…).
  • Great colors to a pack.
  • Worked great even on wood.

Cons:
  • I honestly can’t think of any… other than I don’t have every color!

Sakura has a wealth of products for every use imaginable, and I had a wonderful time trying out all the above. It’s such a wonderful thing to have tools in your crafting stash that not only deliver on performance, but that can be used for multiple projects again and again.

My overall impression:

Pros:
  • Adding detail work in whatever way you see fit to a multitude of mediums to enhance any project.
  • The number of products available makes it easy to find just the right one for your use, but the more you own the more uses you will run across!
  • These products are all high quality, and deliver what they promise.

Cons:

  • Not all products are able to be used on all surfaces.
  • Some packs don’t include many colors, it’s always nice to have a full set.
  • Some products may only have one or two uses for you when it comes to your personal taste.

Overall Sakura has been, and still is, a manufacturer that I know will deliver on quality when I’m looking for a good pen or marker to add to my collection. I have had a wonderful time seeing how I can stretch this standard favorite, and look forward to experimenting even more.

How about you? What’s your favorite Sakura product, and what have you made?

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