Tag Archives | Julie Tiu

SMASH Portfolio and Accessories by K & Company

Reported by Julie Tiu

SMASH. “Your Life. Your stuff. Your book.” The SMASH line of products by EK Success is HUGELY popular in the crafting world. How else would you describe an item that has people putting their names on a waiting list for journals at their local scrapbooking store? It happened to me.

Craft Critique wrote about SMASH in January – and fans were eager for it to hit the stores. K & Company promised more supplies this summer, and they delivered:

  • SMASHpad: 30 sheets of inspiration for writing down random thoughts
  • SMASHpockets: for stashing clipped pieces and other doo-dads
  • Captions, Tabs and Flags: for embellishing your journal
Pages from Travel SMASHpad, my favorite product in the line

The line contains 34 products in total, including mini journals, calendars and the original journal (7.75″ x 10.25″).

Here’s my brand new Retro Blue SMASH Folio.

Folios come with a SMASHstick – and the glue works great!

What is the allure of this journaling system when so many people like DIY-journals? It saves some time. The ready-made pads, captions and tags can guide your journal entries. SMASH Folios are handy: they come with a SMASHstick (a fine-tipped, acid-free pen and glue stick), they’re portable, and the pages are pre-printed with kitschy graphics.

Hello, there!

“Live it UP. Glue it down & SMASH it in.” It can’t get any easier than this. For the veteran scrapbooker who enjoys precise layouts and design, this might be a way to unleash the not-so-organized, wild-child within. For the non-scrapbook or journaling person, consider this another medium to play with. Maybe you’ll be able to start that “one page” you’ve been wanting to, but haven’t figure out how. SMASH is liberating!

From something utilitarian like home decorating…

to some documenting from a long time ago (1999, for real. I’ve been hanging on to stuff).

Clippings, business cards, maps from a trip to Montreal.

Cool tabs! (Yes, I’m crafting in my car.)

Chocolate candy bar wrappers can be art too.

It’s a work in progress really, and oh so nice to use. I can’t wait to pick up a Date SMASHstamp, more tabs and captions. This product is simply SMASHing!


  • Folios are very portable and well-made.
  • The glue stick and pen combination – fantastic. Glue worked well on regular weight paper, light cardstock and all the SMASHpad pages.
  • Themed collections have great graphics.


  • Stores may run out of stock due to popularity.
  • DIY-ers could be turned off by SMASH’s “all-in-one” type of system.
  • I only had trouble with the tabs (heavier cardstock) adhering to the page. Used some double stick tape when my glue stick wasn’t working as well.

SMASH Folios cost approximately $12.99 (MSRP) and accessories start at $1.99.

How do you SMASH? If you’re new to the product, what would you use it for? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment!

Vendor Review & GIVEAWAY!: Sizzix Texture Boutique Embossing Machine by Ellison

Reported by Julie Tiu

I could be late jumping on the Sizzix Texture Boutique bandwagon, but better late than never! This little cutey is fun. It’s an embossing machine only, and easy to use. It joins the Sizzix machine family with “siblings” – BigKick, Big Shot, Sidekick, Vagabond and eclips machines.

There’s a small task of assembling the handle, and the manufacturers have so kindly included a screwdriver with it. So, you could get busy with your machine soon after you purchase it, like in the check out line or in your car if you can’t wait.

The machine comes with two embossing plates and a Mylar shim. You have to buy your patterned embossing folders separately. I was sent these two designs to test, the Elegant Vine and Flair set.

The instructions are so simple to follow, and as a bonus, the steps are on a sticker placed right on the embossing pads. Very convenient!

When you run your plates through the machine, you may have some oily residue appear on the side. It’s from the inner workings of the machine, as you can imagine. After a few sets of cards, you’ll stop seeing it.

Materials Tested

Construction paper and copy (textweight) paper: easy to run through the machine, totally embossed, but thin paper leads to cracks or tears.

Cardstock, including Core’dinations Color Core Cardstock: Very sturdy paper that gives resistance when you’re cranking it through the machine, but great detail from the embossing plates.

Newsprint: So, I had an idea, but this is extremely thin paper and because I actually used the newspaper, the details were lost amidst the printing.

Vellum: Thin material, of course, but I liked the soft quality. Very easy to emboss.

Heavy-duty aluminum foil: Really liked how this turned out. The details come out so well and reminds me of tin ceiling tiles.

Everything turned out as expected, except the newsprint. I bet there’s still a way to salvage them!

Naturally, I made some cards – the texture helps step up your creations.

These people are really my relatives…
Lots of texture!

Simple and elegant

I used the vellum on glass jars and turned them into candle holders.
And look what happens with the foil on the glass jars! This was a neat application!


  • Easy to store, or cute enough to leave on your work surface
  • Quick to assemble
  • Simple to use
  • Other embossing plates may be compatible


  • Wish there was some storage for the plates and shim
  • Only for small paper (4-1/4″ x 5-1/2″)
  • Embossing plates (designs) may sell out quickly

Texture Boutique comes as a “machine only” or in a “beginner kit”. The machine only retails for approximately $30.00, while the beginner kit costs around $50.00. The difference in price seems worth it to me. You receive embossing folders, a variety of crafting materials and an idea booklet. Embossing folders come as singles, pairs or sets and can range from $8-$14 online and at craft stores.


It’s Sizzix Week at Craft Critique! Our friends at Sizzix have graciously provided some of their products for us to giveaway to our very lucky readers. We have a Big Shot and an eClips to give away, both of which you can read about in upcoming reviews. Just answer the following question to be entered in the giveaway:

What designs or patterns would you like to see for the Texture Boutique? 

One comment, per person, per Sizzix article, please. Winners will be selected on Saturday, July 16, 2011.

All-in-One Beading Buddy by Mary Stori, C&T Publishers

Reviewed by Julie Tiu

Image from C&T Publishing

You may recognize Mary Stori from HGTV’s Simply Quilts and Sew Perfect, but if you don’t, not to worry. You’ll enjoy the introduction! She and C&T Publishing created this pocket reference book, in a fan deck format, in 2005. Their wish: to create “The Ultimate Beading Reference Tool”, and it falls nothing short of it with 78 Beading Stitches and step-by-step instruction.

They were on the cutting edge of the bead craze that’s taken hold in the last few years. Can you tell by the amount of aisles in the craft stores devoted to beads and findings? So, is this book for the beginner, intermediate or advanced crafter? For beading projects, quilting, embroidery, or home decor? I say, all of the above! The book reads in true reference style, with tips and how-to’s. There’s a bonus value finder included, too, for finding contrast between beads and backgrounds.

The book includes a well-thought out “Let’s Get Started” section including tips on supplies, a breakdown of bead types, and knotting. In the “About Beads” section, Stori shares this very useful tip regarding colorfastness that I was not aware of, “… beads are often dyed, or have had finishes applied. Test by soaking a few in warm, sudsy water for an hour or two. Rinse and compare to the original bead.”

I’ve played around with beading for simple projects like bookmarks, and who hasn’t made a simple necklace from just a string of pony beads or seed beads? But, I’ve never really followed a written beading pattern before (I like to reverse engineer most of my projects). It was time to try a few new stitches from the book.

Some nylon beading thread and my tool of choice, a floss threader.
Trying out “Squiggle”
Fun little earrings, though I needed to adjust the tension a bit.

Next up, I needed to repair my very intricate beaded purse. And what I thoroughly enjoyed about the reference book was the fact that I found every single stitch on this purse. Really!

Lastly, I found some more inspiration from the “Fringes and Dangles” section.

A dangle to dress up some well-loved heels…
… or three dangles.

This book is a valuable tool for any bead enthusiast at any level, “The All-in-One Beading Buddy shows easy-to-follow instructions, and photo examples covering a large range of beading techniques, plus helpful information…” That’s it in a nutshell!


  • Great pictures for all 78 stitches including visual index.
  • Easy-to-follow instructions and technical drawings.
  • Very portable size.
  • Helpful tips.


  • Fan-deck format a little awkward for me when using the reverse side.
  • Stitches could be marked with beginner, intermediate, or advanced stitch designations.
  • No actual projects included in the book (but that’s not the intention, either).

This book starts at $16.95 (without shipping or handling) at the C&T Publishing website. And, there are also online resources on their website for teachers interested in using this book as a text for teaching.

How would you use the Beading Buddy? Is this something you’ve stashed away and want to crack open again? Share with us your beading triumphs or disasters in the comments!


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