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Review | The Card Album

Reported by Maria Del Pinto
I enjoy finding new and interesting storage products for my finished projects.  It is even better when the
product has problem solving applications like the Card Album.  At first glance, it is not very impressive looking.  However, Stefanie Girard (designer & patent holder), who is a friend of mine, is pretty patient, so she took the time to explain how the Card Album works and the reasoning behind the design.
The Card Album
The Card Album was created for people like me who like to make their own cards.  In the past when I made a card I would stick in a file or in a drawer.  More often than not, the handmade card would get squished, bent, or even misplaced.  To avoid this type of disappointment, Stefanie Girard (author of Sweater Surgery ) created a special elastibind construction on the Card Album to hold greeting cards and other projects for crafters and artists alike.
She wanted to create an organized solution for folks to be able to store their handmade greeting cards without having them become damaged or misplaced.   She also recycles envelopes and uses them in these binders to hold an assortment of different items.
View of how the Card Album holds cards.
The Card Album holds up to 24 of 5″x7″ cards even if you have a variety of different sized handmade cards. I like how easily this systems allows me to keep my cards organized and accessible. 
View of back pocket and banding on the Card Album
You insert the finished or even unfinished card through the band and its stays in place until you need it again.
Showing the album holding 5×7 cards
The fun did not stop there! I attended a “Card Album” decorating class at the winter CHA show, and we decorated the outside of these cool card albums with die cuts, stickers, buttons and other ephemera. Since the decorative craft class was offered at the CHA show, there was an amazing assortment of items (both cool tools, fun decorative embellishments, and other tidbits) available to use.

Stefanie showed us how we can uses our altered art suppliesscrapbooking supplies, etc. to decorate the outside of the Card Album  to reflect our own artistic style.  If you can not attend one her classes, she does have a blog (The Card Album Blog) where she often posts card making ideas.
Rubber stamps work great on these.  The stamped image, on the above Card Album is done using StazOn ink which works great on so many surfaces.
The next album I decorated I wanted to have a Halloween theme.  I found some cool templates on the Martha Stewart crafting site to use.  I printed out the witch silhouette and used it as a template.  The templates have some really convenient measurements so you can adjust the print to the size you need (on your computer).
Witch Silhouette from Martha Stewart crafts
Then I used a glue stick to attach the witch to the book cover.  It stayed on really well, which surprised me since glue stick glue does not always hold well on plastic.  I also used my Martha Stewart punch around the page crackle punch to outline the cover.  I love her punches and will use them in any craft I can.
It was a simple craft project that did not take a lot of time or supplies.  I only used items that I had on hand and I was pleased that it came out just the way I wanted it to.  Now I can store my Halloween-themed cards in this book.

I have a tendency to save the special cards that friends have made me over the years.  Each one holds a special memory for me, and I  treasure these mementos. So I also made one that is just for those cards, out of leftover bits and pieces.

The Card Album decorated to hold my treasured cards.

The card album offers me a great way to store these cards, yet have easy access to them when I want to look through my collections.

All in all, I really like this Card Album. Stefanie was happy to sell me a few to hold my favorite treasures.  At a price of $9.95, it is an affordable way to display and hold both my own handmade cards and those given to me.
Pros:
  • Holds up to 24 cards of different sizes
  • The designs of the books makes it easy to access my cards
  • Great way to show off handmade cards at Gift Shows
  • Very affordable at $9.95
Cons:
  • Only comes in two colors
  • I wish it came in a larger size to hold some of my larger projects
  • Only available online
Do you make handmade cards? What are some of your favorite cards that you have received?  How do you store these treasures?
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Vendor Spotlight: Martha Stewart Stamp and Punch Sets (2 of 2)

Reported by Taylor Usry

Have you heard about the Martha Stewart Stamps and Punch sets? I literally squealed out loud when I was offered the chance to review this super fun new product from Martha Stewart Crafts! The Stamp and Punch sets are an all-in-one crafty must-have; they are designed to stamp an image and save some time by not having to fussy-cut it out. The punch will take care of that for you! I know, I know … right about now you are saying the same thing I was, “Hello, genius, where have you been all my life?!” Those folks over at Martha Stewart Crafts are always coming up with the best ideas to make my crafty life better!

The Stamp and Punch sets are very similar in size to a regular punch from Martha Stewart Crafts. You can see above that the main difference is the raised circular area on the top of the punch; the stamps are stored in there.

In profile you can further see the similarities in size between the two types of punch. The handles on the stamp and punch set are slightly more contoured than on a regular punch.



Looking at the punch from the top, you will see the raised area which is actually the stamp block. Note the flat sides, which are the finger grooves to make the round shape easier to hold. They also serve as a guide for replacing the piece after using it – you have to line them up to get the block back on the punch.

Looking directly at the front of the punch, you’ll see a small groove. This will to help line up the stamp housing, and is an indicator of the direction and placement of the stamp (more on this in a bit).

When the cap is removed, you’ll see several acrylic stamps (slightly larger around than a quarter) nestled down in the punch. Each of the four different sets I received contained three stamps, making this a very versatile product. You get up to three layerable images and a punch shape. Not bad!

Placement of the stamp on the block itself is important. Before using the stamps for the first time, you’ll have to remove the thick plastic piece separating them (put a little elbow grease in it – they won’t tear!). Simply press the flat (smooth) side of the acrylic stamp onto the block, taking care to put the semi-circular tab where the opening is for it. In the picture above, you can see the tab at the bottom of the stamp.

This is the butterfly set. It contains three different butterfly images.

I inked up my first butterfly, and stamped it on the edge of my paper, as recommended in the instructions. I paid absolutely no attention to that little groove I mentioned earlier (see it at the bottom of the block?).
 

That lead to my very first mistake with this butterfly! I stamped a beautiful image, but it was upside down (although I stamped it in what seemed to be the right-side up manner). As you can see in the picture above, when stamped this way you can’t line up the punch, because it’s upside down. Had I heeded the groove, I would have realized that the butterfly needed to be in the other direction in order to punch properly. The little grooves that are on the block are also on the punch base itself (scroll back up to that first picture, and you’ll see it). They always need to go in the same direction – so you have to stamp the butterflies upside down. What a “Eureka!” moment!

Once I got that all figured out, I stamped another butterfly and lined up my punch properly. It easily punched through a thick weight white card stock and left me with a super cute butterfly.

The cupcake set I received included a full cupcake image, a bottom/liner image, and a top/frosting image. You could layer, use separately, or stamp one solid image.

The flower set had two flowers of different sizes and a flower center.

The leaf set had a gorgeous leaf, the veins for it (which I think would be great serving double duty as brown branches), and a cute little ladybug. 



Above you can see some of the things I stamped and then punched out. Beware: it’s pretty addictive. It is so darn fabby that the whole stamp/cut/use image process has been shortened so much! No more sharp scissors, no more fussy cutting, no more guesswork.

I made myself a bookmark, because they seem to always be disappearing around my house. See that woodgrain paper? It’s my newest obsession, from Martha Stewart’s In Nature collection. And the yellow background paper is from the Tonals paper pad.

Further illustrating how quickly this whole process comes together, I decided to time a Clean and Simple birthday card, using the cupcake set and more Tonals paper. I also used an edge punch along the bottom border. Total time? Eleven minutes, and some of that was waiting for the ink to dry. Not bad, huh?

Overall I really love these Stamp and Punch sets. I’m not the savviest with properly lining up images to layer them, so I had to switch to a clear block a couple of time (for example, the veins that should accompany the leaves – I just could not master lining them up with the solid block).

These punches sell for about $12.99 and are available online and in retail stores. 

Pros:

  • Easy to store – the whole unit is self contained
  • Cuts down on total project time!
  • Images are all complimentary to one another, or can be used alone.
  • Punched images work well as stand alone accents/embellishments (so, you don’t have to use the stamps to still be getting good use from the product)
  • Excellent deal for the price – it’s three stamps AND a punch!

Cons:

  •  Solid block makes it difficult to line up images
  • Instructions weren’t clear about proper stamp positioning, making for a fun bloopers segment during the testing process!
  • I’d like to see larger shapes, or maybe some labels with borders.

Have you tried the Martha Stewart Stamp and Punch sets yet? What do you think?

Disclosure

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Vendor Spotlight: Martha Stewart Double Edge Punch

Reported by Morgan Novak
When I first saw the Double Edge Punches from Martha Stewart I wasn’t so sure about them. I’m a pretty big card maker and love edge punches for the ease with which they add fun shapes to an otherwise angular card, and since these double edged punches cut the strip completely off your paper, I didn’t think that I was really interested. But, leave it to Martha to win me over and get me totally hooked on a whole new range of punches!

Just like the Martha Stewart Edge Punches, the Double Edge Punch has arms that fold down when you are punching, but fold back up for easy storage when you are done. They also work exactly like the Edge Punches, with a guide that shows you where to place your partially punched paper for an easy continuous line.


I really love this particular pattern, “Bangle Chain Trim” and couldn’t wait to start playing around with it. I made my first double edged strip out of Bazzill Swiss Dot Cardstock and the punch worked really well through this regular weight cardstock with next to no wonky edges.

I decided to make a quick little “belly band” for a mini apple pie with some easy layering and a little stamped image that I colored in and then foam taped onto the band after I wrapped it around the box. Be sure to cut the band about half an inch longer than needed so that you can easily hide your adhesive under the overlap when you wrap it around your box, bag, treat or gift!

One of the first things that sprung to mind when I started brainstorming what could be done with the strips punched by the Double Edge Punch was making a good old fashioned paper chain like the ones we used to make in pre-k, but amped up a little bit. I chose some tone on tone patterns from my stash of heavier double-sided patterned papers and got to punching.
The punch did have some trouble punching through these heavier papers, and on a couple of occasions I found myself having to trim off some shredded edges. The handle also got stuck locked down a couple of times, but as I was punching I realized that this was probably happening when I didn’t sweep the excess paper and little bits out from under the punch every couple of punches. It also helps to blow the tiny paper bits out of the punch every now and again, kind of like blowing the dust out of an old Nintendo game cartridge.

I hung my crafty little paper chain in our dining room and I really like the look of the intricate punched pattern way more than just a solid strip of paper. This could be a great decoration idea for all sorts of parties and special occasions.

While I was punching all the strips for my paper chain I got the idea to cut the strip in half and then stagger and layer the halves to create my own pattern. I used strips of paper that were about an inch longer than I wanted the final pattern to be so that I had the freedom to stagger them to create the pattern, and then trim off the excess. I cut my strips in half after they were already punched so that I could see exactly where I was cutting them in half.

I cut a strip each from 3 different colors of tone on tone pattern and cut them in half for a total of 6 half strips. It was really easy to line this particular pattern up, and then adhere it to the page before I trimmed off the excess edges. I would suggest using a clear dot adhesive for the most even adhesive application on the back of these intricate strips.


I only used 6 half strips to make a little patterned area, but imagine how a whole background would look, or a patterned section on a card, or a half strip lining the edges of a cupcake stand!
Despite some hiccups with heavier weight papers, I can really see myself embracing this new line of Martha Stewart punches. I had a lot of fun creating with the “Bangle Chain Trim” Punch, There are lots of possibilities with this punch alone, never mind all the other designs in the Double Edge Punch line!
Pros:
  • Sides of the punch fold up for easy storage.
  • Versatile Designs that can be used with many different styles of project.
  • Really minimal amount of paper waste left after you punch, only about 3/8″ with this particular punch.
Cons:
  • Punch sometimes gets stuck closed when working with thicker papers, if not cleaned out often enough.
  • Some issues with shredding the edges of the punched design when working with thicker papers.

Are you already punching away with these new Double Edge Punches? What have you been making with them? And if you don’t already own them, what projects can you see yourself using them for in the future?
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