Tag Archives | Taylor Usry

White Card Stock Comparison

Reported by Taylor Usry

There are so many options out there for white card stock! With the popularity of both clean and simple (CAS) cards, as well as detailed images that can be colored with markers or any other coloring medium, choosing the right white for your project can get tricky. Today I’m going to show you how different techniques work on several popular white card stocks – Neenah Solar White, Papertrey Ink Stamper’s Select, Stampin Up!’Stampin’ Ups Whisper White, Bazzill’s Prismatics Textured White, Mohawk‘s Color Copy 98 Bright White, and Georgia Pacific‘s White card stock.

Here is a quick overview of each card stock:

  • Neenah Solar White: 80# weight, acid-free, ultra-smooth finish; widely available in packs of 25, or by the ream, online
  • Papertrey Ink’s Stamper’s Select: 110# weight; only available in packs of 40 sheets through their website
  • Stampin’ Up’s Whisper White: 80# weight; only available in packs of 40 sheets through a demonstrator
  • Bazzill’s Prismatics Textured White: 70# weight, textured on one side and smooth on the other; available online
  • Mohawk’s Color Copy 98 Bright White: 100# weight, acid-free; available by the ream or large pack online
  • Georgia Pacific’s White: 110# weight; available in large packs online and in retail stores such as WalMart, Staples, etc

The Neenah, Mohawk, and Stampin’ Up card stocks have the smoothest, glossy-type finish. Papertrey ink is also incredibly smooth, but it isn’t quite as glossy. Bazzill’s Prismatics has one textured side (in a mottled, orange peel finish) and one flat side (but not smooth and glossy to the touch). Georgia Pacific’s card stock is just flat. In terms of weight, although Stampin’ Up’s card stock is 80#, it feels much flimsier than Neenah’s. And while the Georgia Pacific is purported to be 110#, it feels flimsy as well. I don’t particularly advocate using either the Stampin’ Up or the Georgia Pacific as a card base. All of the others are quite sturdy and thick.  

All of the card stocks work well when used with a paper punch (here, a Martha Stewart one). I did notice that the Georgia Pacific card stock did not punch as cleanly as the others did. Some edges needed filing or smoothing several times, both when using an edge punch and a standard shaped punch.

Next I cut each image out using a different Spellbinder’s Nestabilites die, and left the card stock plain inside each one to do some sponging using Tim Holtz ink.. The smooth finish on the Neenah, Mohawk, and Papertrey Ink card stock provided the best surface for the blended sponging effect. Stampin’ Up’s card stock also has a smooth surface, but I don’t think the ink blended as well. I like the way the sponging turned out on the textured card stock by Bazzill as well, but again it is not a smooth finish. It still blends well, though. The Georgia Pacific does an okay job – but just okay. I found that the ink didn’t want to blend as easily as with the others, so the changes in colors were more noticeable. As you can see, the Neenah card stock took the ink really well; it is the darkest of all. I sponged each piece exactly the same, to demonstrate the variations of the inks once they’d been applied.

On these I partially colored a variety of Stampendous images with Copics. All images were stamped in Memento Tuxedo Black ink and had fifteen minutes of drying time, but were not heat-set. Stampin’ Up’s Whisper White is not at all suitable for coloring with Copics – it doesn’t blend. Georgia Pacific’s card stock is mediocre – it blends alright, but occasionally you can see streaks, and the lines between colors can be harsh. Papertrey Ink, Mohawk (which is not pictured above, but you will see it in a minute – stick with me!) and Neenah’s card stocks have an excellent surface for Copic coloring, and all blend beautifully. The Bazzill Prismatics also colors gorgeously, but I noticed a bit more bleeding (that could be due to not heat-setting my ink, but I didn’t do that on purpose).  In my opinion, the Papertrey Ink is such a heavy weight that is sucks up lots of Copic ink, which then necessitates quicker refills.

Lastly, I stamped some solid images on each card stock (using acrylic stamps from Sweet ‘n Sassy Stamps and Tim Holtz ink), to see what kind of coverage I got. The only one I was underwhelmed with was the Georgia Pacific card stock. Bazzill’s Prismatics stamp better on the smooth side than the textured side; you can see the mottled look the textured side gives. The others all have a smooth finish and take ink very well. Drying time varies a bit with each card stock, but none took longer than five minutes. Again, the Neenah card stock had a darker color than all the other smooth card stocks.

On this sample, I colored that Stampendous image using Copics on the Mohawk card stock. The base and embossed layer are Papertrey Ink. All of the card stocks emboss equally as well. For me, the Papertrey Ink provides the strongest base. It is not flimsy at all, and you can add as many layers or heavy embellishments as you want.

I also ran a few sheets through my printer, to see how well they worked with digital images and papers. I have an HP inkjet printer. The Papertrey Ink card stock was too thick to consistently go through my printer – they had quite an argument. The Neenah, Mohawk, Georgia Pacific, Bazzill Prismatics, and Stampin’ Up all fed through just fine, and worked great for digi images. The smooth-finish card stocks (not the Georgia Pacific or Bazzill Prismatics) worked better for printing digital paper on (*tip: run it through twice, to create your own double-sided patterned paper!).

What card stock is your favorite for coloring on? Do you use it for rubber stamping, printing and coloring digital images, or scrapbooking? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: Slice Elite by Making Memories (1 of 2)

Reported by Taylor Usry

I recently had the opportunity to review the new Slice Elite Digital Cordless Designer by Making Memories. This is a little machine that packs a big punch! The Slice Elite weighs less than a pound, is 5″ by 5″ of creative power, and can cut. emboss, and draw on a variety of paper, card stock, and photos. As advertised, the Slice Elite can cut shapes and letters from one to four inches, in half inch increments. The machine can be powered by its rechargeable battery (works for about an hour), or by plugging in the power adapter.

Making Memories sent me an amazing package for review. It included the Pink Slice Elite Starter Kit, which comes with:

  • Pink Slice Elite Digital Cordless Designer
  • Basic Elements design card
  • Basic Elements design card booklet
  • 6″ x 6″ glass cutting mat
  • five blades
  • blade replacement tool
  • blade adjustment wrench
  • power cord
  • re-positionable adhesive for the cutting mat
  • foam brush
  • user manual
  • quick start guide

They also threw in some great paper and embellishments from their Dilly Dally and Tie the Knot product lines – what fun!

I read through the included User Manual a couple of times, and was surprised at the lack of information it provided, especially with regard to embossing and drawing. However, the tips to utilize those features were not included with my starter kit, so I didn’t get to test them out anyway!

I went online to check out the how to videos, and they were super helpful. As instructed, I began by putting a thin line of repositionable adhesive down the left side of the glass cutting mat. I then used the included foam brush to spread it out thinly all over the surface, and waited the recommended two minutes before applying my paper. An interesting note – I thought the adhesive smelled awful. My husband and daughter couldn’t smell a thing. Weird, huh? Regardless, it leaves no residue on your paper and washes off the glass mat easily with soap and water.

Once you’ve made you choice about shape/letter, size, etc and are ready to cut, the process is fairly simple. Place the machine on the desired location on the mat (it is easy to determine placement, as there is a small “x” on the screen where cutting will begin), press down with light pressure, and push the “cut” button (pictured above, just under the handle – it is the small pink button toward the rear of the machine). The button is perfectly placed to press while you are holding the machine to keep it steady. There is an optional Hands Free kit you can purchase, so that you won’t have to hold the machine while it cuts. But really, it cuts quite quickly and it isn’t difficult at all to hold it!

It’s easy to tell when the machine is done cutting, because it tells you. Down the left side of the screen you can see that it is “working”. Once the cut is completed, a large check mark appears, indicating the machine can be picked up and your die cut can be removed from the mat.

If you don’t wait the full two minutes for the adhesive to dry, or if you apply a bit too much and it doesn’t dry in the specified time frame, this is what will happen when you try to pick up the paper. A total mess. It washes off with a bit of warm soapy water and some scraping.

When applied correctly, your paper will peel off the glass mat very easily and leave your die cut behind. You can purchase a spatula to lift it off, but my fingernails worked just fine. When placing the paper on the mat, you want the side you want to use to be facing up (so, you will be looking at the “right” side). You do not have to wash off the re-positionable adhesive each time you use it. You can store the glass cutting mat with a scrap piece of paper covering it, and gently peel it off for the next use. Once it begins to lose its tackiness, wash it and reapply the adhesive. Making Memories also offers some spray adhesive, although I did not test that out either.

The Slice beautifully cuts out words! And using the shadow feature, you can make an outline in no time. The machine also has a mirror image feature, which is a great idea for shapes. I did change the cutting speed from high to low. When I cut my first word on high speed, the edges were a tiny bit jagged.  I did not have to adjust blade pressure at all. The Slice just cut what I wanted – no fuss, no stress, no feeding the paper in and positioning it the right way. No making sure I had tons of space behind and in front of my machine so the paper could work back and forth. That, I think, is my favorite feature about the Slice – the compact size. Easy to store, and the cartridges are the size of memory cards for a camera. So they just don’t take up as much space.

The Slice is so easy to use that I let my five year old try it out (with very close supervision, of course). I talked her through the steps, and let her watch me do it. She was able to pick out her shapes, choose different sizes, and position the machine on different areas of the paper to cut out the heart and the flower. Then she cut out the word giggle. All three die cuts took her maybe ten minutes, and most of that was deciding exactly which shape to do next. So in my opinion, this makes the Slice great for kids crafts and projects. Many of the design cards are kid friendly!

With the included Basic Elements design card, my favorite thing to make was the tags. What a super useful option! On the tag above, I paired stamps from Lizzie Anne Designs with the tag (and shadow) I die cut, a paper flower from the Making Memories Dilly Dally line, and some Making Memories ribbon. The card stock is Neenah Solar White and Papertrey Ink Kraft – I wanted to test out how the Slice cut different wights of paper. It cut through them just fine!

I mass produced this tag, using stamps from Stampendous, and more paper flowers from Making Memories. I left off the ribbon, so I can use them on a variety of gifts. I think I made about 30 of these! I’m not sharing samples I made using textured card stock (Stampin’ Up), vellum, and acetate, but the Slice cut them all perfectly. I do want to stress that I used the low speed to cut with, but the Slice still seems faster to me than my Cricut.

I could not be more thrilled with this machine, and plan to invest in more design cards to further utilize it. Check out my quick list of pros and cons:


  • compact size and portability
  • ease of use; wastes less paper than a Cricut
  • online support and video help – great resource!
  • wide variety of accessories available


  • the user manual could be more descriptive
  • I wish the starter kit came with at least one embossing tip
  • can’t cut an shape or word larger than four inches (which is fine for card makers, but maybe not for scrapbookers)
The great folks at Making Memories are giving away the newest member to the Slice Family, the Slice Fabrique to one lucky reader. Just answer the any of the following questions in the comment section of this article on this blog to be entered:

Do you own a Slice Elite? How do you like it? If not, what are you currently using for your die cutting needs?

You have until Monday, April 18th at 6pm CST to leave your comment.


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Soul Restoration: The Importance of Art Journaling

Reported by Taylor Usry

When the first Soul Restoration class was announced earlier in the winter, it seemed like the most exciting thing in the word to  me. I love art journaling, I love the Brave Girls Club, and I love e-courses. What could be better than a combination of the three? Plus, 2010 was a tough year for me personally. Soul Restoration appeared to be just the right thing to get 2011 started off right. And thanks to the wonderful ladies over at the Brave Girls Club who allowed some little birdies to whisper in their ears, I was a lucky recipient of free tuition to the first ever Soul Restoration class. Today I’m going to share a little bit about my experience, and why I think it is worth it for everyone to do something like this (or at least do some art journaling!).

I’ll begin with a little about the Brave Girls Club. It was started by two sisters, Melody Ross and Kathy Wilkins in 2009. In their words, Brave Girls Club is “a community for women everywhere who want to do big things with their lives, who want to overcome difficult things, and who believe in doing all of this with love and kindness and as joyfully as possible.” And if you ask them why they do this, they have a beautifully worded, multi-part answer. Together they also host several retreats each year (all sold out for 2011, already!) and are about to open the first Brave Girl Clubhouse.

The introduction of Soul Restoration marked the first time that the ideas and curriculum shared at the popular Brave Girls Camp sessions would be available to women everywhere, to go through at their own speed, in the comfort of their own home. The 6-week class curriculum was designed by Melody, and she does all of the fabulous instructional videos. According to the information page, the workshop is

… a method of helping you become reacquainted with your deepest self through remembering and reuniting with your inner ‘Truth-Teller’. You will be helped to discern truth from lies…lies that can be holding you back and making you feel less than who you really are…to remember your dreams, your potential, your gifts and talents, all the possibilities and unique answers for your life (because it is different for each of us).” 

They had me at hello. 

As with any first-run of a project, Soul Restoration was not without its glitches. Lessons were available via secure .pdf links, and sometimes those didn’t want to work. Occasionally Melody’s fabulous videos didn’t want to play for people. And often, participants felt overwhelmed by what was going on – I know I did. It’s a big commitment to take a step back from life and focus on yourself for awhile.  Allowing yourself to acknowledge that you are worthy of time and effort can be a struggle for people! Through all of the issues, whether technical or personal, Melody, Kathy, and the Brave Girls team were right there to hold hands, fix links, extend time periods for lessons, and encourage (and encourage, and encourage). I’ve taken more than my fair share of e-courses, and I’ve never had so much hands-on interaction with teachers. There is a “Red Carpet” forum for participants in the Soul Restoration class to come together, share ideas, ask each other questions, vent frustrations…anything that is on your mind. 

The class set up is simple – each week for six weeks (on Tuesdays) a new lesson is posted on the website (note – make sure your printer ink has been recently refilled). Week One was a doozy – there were two lessons. They were important, though! The .pdf printouts outlined the week for you, gave you your assignments, and added some very helpful thoughts to remember about each lesson. And because Melody is awesome like that, she also included downloads for printable vintage scanned art to use in projects (if you wanted to).

The first thing we did in class was create a small journal of our “house”….which is how they refer to your soul. Because the initial version of Soul Restoration offered an add-on kit that came with a cute denim journal (I do not think they are offering that kit with the next course) I chose to re-purpose a pair of my husband’s jeans that had seen better days. I cut four pieces an sewed them around thick pieces of chipboard, to create my front and back covers. On the front cover I also sewed on a pocket, so I could slip some small things in there (only I know what those things are). I printed out the “closed for restoration” art on plain white cardstock, wrinkled it, mod podged it, and hand-stitched it on. The flowers and the tassels we a fun last minute decision. My book is held together with large, 3″ loose leaf rings (not pictured) that have strips of denim and ribbon on them. The whole process took a couple of hours, and while I worked on it I watched some of the class videos, sipped my hot tea, and focused on myself. It was a fantastic afternoon!

That first afternoon I also made the title page for my journal, and worked on the first actual page, my Soul House. Throughout the rest of the course I learned about my Truthteller, made Truth Cards and a Truth Book, created a timeline of our lives (who knew I remembered that much from way back when???),  and journaled my heart out. I learned about my path, and where I truly wanted it to go. And I picked up more than a few fun crafty tips along the way. My pages are very personal for me, and unlike others I’m just not brave enough to share them (yet) – so you only get to see my cover and title page.

On average, I spent about 5 hours a week on my Soul Restoration work – some weeks more, some weeks fewer. It helps to be able to devote all that time in one big chunk, but the beauty of the class is that if you can’t, it’s ok. I have two little children and I work from home. So some days, it was 30 minutes of watching a video and taking some notes, and then waiting a couple of days to do my art project. Additionally, there were times when I just plain old didn’t feel like being overly artsy about a lesson – I wanted plain and simple. That’s fine too. You don’t have to be an artist to participate in Soul Restoration. You just have to like being crafty (don’t we all like being crafty?). I got stuck a few times, worrying about painful things I didn’t necessarily want to deal with. But when I went over to the forums, I found an amazing truth – I was not alone in that feeling. Being able to lean on other participants was an invaluable resource in this class. 

I’m sure you are wondering why this course is so wonderful, and why I can’t recommend it highly enough to everyone. This whole course is about giving every person the tools they need to re-focus their lives in a positive direction. It’s about bringing joy into your life, and finding the tools you need to keep it there. It doesn’t mean that you can only take it if your life was miserable beforehand, or if you feel depressed, or if you want to make some changes. You should take it even if you don’t feel that way. It’s not an admission of right or wrong, or bad or good. There is NO way you won’t learn some things about yourself during the six weeks you spend with Melody and your fellow classmates.

I encourage you to check out the FAQs page on the Soul Restoration website and watch the videos below! Another session of Soul Restoration starts on April 5th, and I enjoyed the first session SO much I am retaking it (the Brave Girls were kind enough to extend a special price to those of us who went through it on the first run). Yes, it’s the same content….I just so enjoyed my personal journey, and there are places and spaces in my  “house” I wanted to spend more time in. When I’m done I absolutely plan to take Part 2!

And before I go, I’d like to add a note about art journaling. If you can’t afford to take the Soul Restoration class, or if now just isn’t the right time for you, I highly recommend the process of art journaling. It is truly good for your soul! Take a look at some of our articles about art journaling, grab some supplies you have around the house, and just start. Devote a little bit of time to just you, your thoughts, your dreams, your happiness. Again, it isn’t about right or wrong….it’s just about you, growing and learning.

Do you art journal now? Did you take Soul Restoration when I did, or are you getting ready to start your journey? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the process, and why you love it!


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