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Vendor Spotlight: Letraset ProMarker Blending Sets

Reported by Maria Del Pinto

The Letraset ProMarker Blending Sets come in Pastel, Muted, and Vivid color sets.  Each set comes with 12 Markers, a Blender Pen, and a Blending Chart.  You can also find a color chart available for free download on the Letraset website, which is helpful in planning your projects and keeping track of what marker colors you currently own.  ProMarkers are alcohol based inks which are popular with Manga artists.  They are permanent on paper, so plan accordingly.  The ProMarkers are non-toxic markers.  The side of each marker is labeled with the ink color and corresponding color number which makes it extra easy to refer to the color charts.

I am new to working with alcohol based markers, so I played with them a bit to see how versatile they really are.  I found that the ProMarkers are fairly fast drying.  This means you do have to prepare your supplies ahead and work quickly to achieve maximum results in using them to color your projects.

The ProMarkers are double ended and equipped with  dual nibs.  One is fine nib and the other is a chisel nib.
Thus, you can get achieve variety of color lines, depending on how you hold the nibs.  The fine nib was designed for detail work.  It is great for drawing Manga art, drawing fine lines, and filling in small areas. Also, if you hold the fine tip on its side, you can achieve a broader looking line that is good for filing in a larger area.

The chisel nib also offers some versatility.  You can achieve a wider line by holding the marker on its side.  The width will vary in accordance with how you hold the pen to the paper.  Also the chisel nib is great for color blending and filling in larger areas with color.  Then to achieve a thinner line with the chisel tip, you just need to hold it on its tip.  I was able to get a few different widths just by adjusting how I held the marker.

Each set comes with a dual nib blender pen that can be used to pick up unwanted color on certain surfaces, as well as be used to blend colors on various surfaces.
The ProMarker blender pens was very useful in creating a softer texture on the colored images.  Color in the image first, then go over it with the blender with dots, lines, circles, etc. to create texture or to soften the color.  The blender pens are easy to use.  For a quick demonstration, just view the video below to see how to use the blender pens to remove color from a paper flower.

For my first project, I decided to take a wood block, paint it, then accent it with assorted papers and die cuts to create a temporary book end. I then used the paper flower from the demo video as a center accent on the paper flower die cuts.  
Since it will remove excess ink from the image, the ProMarker blender pens are great to fix mistakes on your colored image. Depending on the surface, it can help smooth out lines on your colored image and lighten the color a bit.

Also, when planning your project, you may want to consider using bleed proof paper.  Below is an example of how the ink reacts with inexpensive regular printer paper. This is the back of the colored 
Ink Bleeds through Regular Copy Paper 
image and it did have some major bleeding.  You can see that it does not have the same crisp lines that you would get using bleed-proof paper.   You can avoid this problem by using your favorite brand of bleed-proof papers. I did notice that Letraset does offer their own line of papers on their website for Manga and other specific applications.

Personally, I had really good results with the Canson Watercolor 140lb cold press papers and some heavy cardstock (which I bought at a local stamp show).  I would recommend pre-testing a small piece of the paper you are planning to use and see how the ink reacts with your own papers.  On my second project, I used a black water-based ink pad to stamp a couple of butterfly images onto the heavy cardstock.

Once the images dried, I colored them in with ProMarkers from the muted collection and cut one of them out.


I found that if you coat the heavy card stock with the blender medium as a base, it will give you more time to achieve better color blending results.  I was trying for a slightly faded denim look at the top of the butterfly.  I found by laying the blender medium then the color, it was easier to blend the color and then remove color from some areas of the card.  This allowed me to achieve that slightly faded look in specific areas.

The Letraset ProMarkers also works really well with the Memento inks. This is because the Memento ink is dye-based and does not smear as easily as other inks might.  
For my third project, I decided to test the ProMarkers on a variety of surfaces to see how they would perform.  So I decided to use them on the embellishments that I was going to put in the mini album that I am working on for my daughter.  I started with the chipboard cover pieces and covered them with a variety of papers and embellishments.


Then I used one of the coordinating muted markers to line the outer edge of my page.


I used “Pale Pink” and “Pastel Blue” to outline the cloth flowers with a little touch of color. The mini frame was white, so I used the same two ink colors to make it coordinate with the paper and flowers. After the ink dried, I added some glitter, a charm, and rhinestones to the frame.


On the page below, I used the ProMarker to outline the lace so it would coordinate with the other elements on the page.


Then I used the ProMarkers to outline the vellum envelope and the green corners.

Tips:
Start with the lightest color and color image in.  Then apply the other colors in a similar order (light to dark)
Use the blender pen according to manufactures directions to get the best results.
Use the blender pen as a base coat then quickly apply the ProMarker colors you are trying to blend, before it dries to maximize use of the blending medium.

Try shade apply the color onto paper surfaces by layering the color on until you get the desired result.
The blender pen allows for versatility with the color applications and is a must have if you want to be able to do more shading in your color application
Pros:
  • The pens are good for multi-surface applications.  You can use them on paper, card stock, vellum, acetate, glass, wood, metal and some plastics.
  • The pens are very affordable and are available in about 145 different colors to suit a variety of projects. 
  • The pens are also sold in color coordinated sets which are more cost effective.  The sets are well labeled to the type of media or art they are best suited for.
  • The dual tips are very versatile and allow for a variety of lines for use for both crafting and manga drawing.
  • The blenders are great for using to blend colors, remove color, and for achieving different types of shading techniques (depending on the type of project you are using the ProMarkers for).
Cons:
  • These are alcohol inks so they will bleed through some papers and there is some distortion on the less expensive copy paper.
  • The colors are translucent, so they will not show up well on clear plastic or clear glass.  Opaque plastic or glass would work better.
  • These are alcohol inks and will dry quickly.  So you have to work quickly to achieve smooth strokes.
  • The markers are not permanent on every single surface.  I would test them the intended surface to make sure the ink will be permanent.  Different surfaces can have hidden chemicals and/or oils that keep inks from adhering to them.

Giveaway

The great folks over at Letraset are giving one lucky reader a set of markers. To enter this contest, simply answer any of the questions below or on the other Letraset review in the comments section of this article on our website.

Have you tried Letraset Pro Markers yet? What alcohol ink markers do you use? Have you found something fun to do that is outside of the box? Please share!

One entry per person please. Contest will close Monday, May 16th at 6pm CST.

Adhesive Removers: Un-Du® Vs. Duck

Reported by Jessica Ripley

I remember first reading about Un-Du in an online scrapbooking forum where countless scrapbookers were expressing their love for a product I had never heard of before. It was statements such as “I could not scrap without it!” and “It works like a miracle!” that got me intrigued, and I decided to seek some out for myself to try.

But how great could it really be I wondered? Especially when I found Duck Adhesive Remover in the same section of an online craft store that looked to be so similar? Not to mention Duck was cheaper for a larger bottle, and Duck is a brand I know and trust (I’m partial to their adhesive runners for scrapbooking). Still I remembered what I had read, and added both to my cart determined to test them out on equal ground and decide for myself.

Well, after the tests I performed below, add me to the believers in Un-Du!

As mentioned above, both products look fairly similar. They both come with handy scrapers attached to the nozzles of the bottles meant to aid in getting the product where it needs to go and then for removal of the stuck on item.


The difference is when you open the cap however, that Un-Du has a drip nozzle, where as Duck has a sponge applicator. I thought that I would prefer the sponge at first. The drip nozzle made it a little difficult to not use too much remover without first having to screw the cap back on.

However the “well” in the applicator for Un-Du caught any extra fluid that dripped out, and it didn’t create a mess. It was also a bit easier to control the flow from a drip nozzle once I got the hang of it, rather than dabbing a project with an overly saturated sponge from the Duck brand.

The Sticker Test:

I’ll admit many a time have I applied a letter sticker on a layout only to do so crooked. I’ve tried all the tricks; using a vanishing ink pen to draw a line first, sticking the very edge of the letter to a ruler first to be sure they are lined up, etc. They just don’t always work! And I’ll end up with a wonky title with no hopes of saving it.

What I’d do in the past is try to deftly remove the sticker with my fingernail, and depending on the quality of the sticker, would usually end up with this:

Ruined (and time for some creative embellishment masking).

So, I was particularly interested in this test and grabbed the Un-Du

At first application, it soaked the paper and I got a bit concerned:


However the letters came right up with hardly any poking or prodding. The soaking actually helped the product get to the adhesive and make it easy to lift the letters off the page un-damaged.


Next I tried the Duck bottle, and dabbed the product on the letters using the sponge. This brand also soaked through the paper:


And the stickers once again came off fairly easily. I found the edge of the Duck scraper to be a bit sharper and better at getting under the sticker to lift it off. Again not really any damage to the face of the sticker.

And here is key point number one about the comparison of these two brands (and I’m guessing just about any remover compared to Un-Du since it’s formula is patented, invented by the gentleman that created Twister by the way)

Un-Du evaporates, leaving any removed product re-usable.

The removed stickers were just as tacky and sticky as they had been when originally applied. How wonderful! To be fair, the stickers removed with Duck were also still slightly sticky on the back and could have been reapplied to a project, but a greasy film remained on them several minutes after removal, not to mention:

It ruined the paper I was using. The amount of product that soaked through stayed and did not evaporate away. The only way to remove excess fluid from the Duck brand would be to wipe and clean it away, not something that can be done with paper.

The Photograph Test:

To anyone reading this review who has been an Un-Du fan for sometime, I’m sure this is the reason why you love it so much and was the first thing that popped into your head about comparing these two brands. When it comes to using either on a photograph (which most of us have on our scrapbooking pages of course), there just really is no comparison.

Un-Du is acid-free and photo safe. Duck is not.

With that in mind, I only tested the Un-Du on a photograph. Besides, after the sticker test above, I didn’t care to chance it with the Duck. I dug into an old scrapbook, the one where I keep my first layouts from years ago when I was still learning that I don’t really care to show off. It was there I found a good test subject. A layout I wouldn’t mind redoing, especially since I had scrapped the only, original copy of one of my favorite photos of my sister, mom, and me (I know! I know! Never scrap the original!).

I wanted to cut that photo out of there, but would have been stuck with half a butterfly sticker on one corner if I had done so. This sticker has been there awhile too, at least 5 years, so I was wondering how this would work if at all.

Using the Un-Du it came right off quickly and easily:


Though just a little residue was left behind:


However using my finger I rubbed a little of the fluid on the residue, and it easily wiped away as if it had never been there.


Not to mention, that 5 year old sticker? Completely sticky and re-usable. That part really amazed me.


Unfortunately, Un-Du does not work on glue (nor water-based adhesives, so no using it on a sealed envelope if you wish to play super spy and open a letter without anyone knowing, not that any of you would do that). So since the photo was attached with a glue stick back in the day, I couldn’t completely remove it from the layout. Still, now I could trim it out and scan it for safe keeping.

As this layout was going away in the name of science anyway, I decided to try the Duck brand on the same type of sticker which was applied to an area of the layout with no photos. I didn’t have nearly as great a result.

Once again soaked paper with a greasy feel:


And it didn’t work very well. This sticker is toast:


The Price Tag Test (on a wooden item):

For my final test I wanted to try out both products on what I thought now the Duck brand would be most useful for, removing those pesky price tags that are stuck on and impossible to remove. I found a wooden box I had planned to alter. Just peeling the tag off wasn’t going to work, I could barely budge it:

On one side I used the Un-Du and it worked just as well as in other tests. On the other side I tried the Duck, and it didn’t work at all. Duck is not recommended for use on furniture, perhaps this is one reason why.


When all is said and done is there really any comparison? Well, no not in my mind. While there are applications for using Duck I’m sure (mostly household cleaning remedies come to mind), when it comes to crafting, there is one clear winner.

Here’s a chart of some of my final thoughts (click for a larger view):

In summary:

Un-Du brand:

Pros:

  • Acid-free and photo safe.
  • Completely evaporates leaving no trace of product behind (and removed items re-usable).
  • Works on almost any surface, including wood.


Cons:

  • The applicator and scraper are a little cumbersome.
  • Doesn’t work on glue or water-based adhesives.
  • Unfortunately from what I have read, is not available to be shipped to certain states or internationally (it can’t be sent via air). Of note however is that recently a low VOC version of it has been made available for residents of California.

Duck brand:

Pros:

  • I preferred the scraper on this brand, it has a slightly sharper edge for removing items.
  • You get more product for a cheaper cost.
  • Has a nice citrus scent.

Cons:

  • This product is not photo safe.
  • Leaves a greasy residue.
  • Didn’t work well on items that had been “stuck” for quite some time.

All in all, when it comes specifically to crafting I have to declare Un-Du the clear winner. While Duck may have its uses, if you had the other in your stash, why even bother?

Have you used either of these? Are you a huge fan of Un-Du? Or any stories about either to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Disclosure for Duck and Un-Du

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

Fiskars Craft Premium Portable Paper Trimmer

Reported by Erin Bassett

Every crafter needs a paper trimmer, and I am no exception. I recently was on the search for a trimmer that was lightweight enough to take with me when I travel, yet well made so that I could get nice straight cuts. A friend of mine recommend the Fiskars new Craft Premium Portable Paper Trimmer, and after trying it out I decided to upgrade. It is a big improvement over their previous models that I’ve owned.

I really like that they widened the cutting surface to 6.25” and added markings for common cutting sizes such as 2” x 3.5”, 3” x 5”, 4.25” x 5.5”, 4” x 6″, and 5” x 7”. It makes it much easier for crafters that scrapbook, make cards, or other paper crafts.
Another great improvement is one that Fiskars describes as a “unique patent pending cut-line indicator [that] shows where the blade will cut, for perfect project alignment.” It looks like a thin wire that hovers over the blade track.
Having 1/16” increments on the cutting surface made it really easy to get precise measurements and cuts for this Easter basket I made with the Fiskars paper trimmer. To make this basket I needed to cut almost 30 strips of Bazzill cardstock and then weave them together.
All my cuts were straight and I found that I could cut two sheets of Bazzillcardstock at the same time accurately. The Fiskars website states that you can cut 5 sheets of 20# paper at a time.

There are other great features as well, such as a ruler extension that swings out and measures up to 15.25”, rubberized feet for stability, a “built-in paper clamp” that locks the cutting rail into place, and a bigger photo smudge protector on the cutting rail. One other upgrade that one will only be able to appraise over time is the “anti-wear veneer” which according to Fiskars website is made by printing on the underside of the deck of the paper trimmer so that the scale and grid never wear off.

Pros:

  • It’s lightweight and easy to use.
  • It has a “cut-line indicator” so you can see where you will cut accurately cuts multiple sheets of paper.
  • You can lock down the “paper clamp” on the paper, or to just keep the cutting rail from opening during transport.

Cons:

  • The bigger photo smudge protector can sometime make it hard to cut paper that’s narrower then 1-inch.
  • A scoring blade does not come with this trimmer but may be purchased separately.

The Fiskars Premium Portable Paper Trimmer 12″is available at Amazon.com

What portable paper trimmer is your favorite? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Disclosure Statement