Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Package Design

Come check out our new and improved web layout and package design at

Monday, October 18, 2010

Scouting for Crafty Screen Printing Products

Check out this sweet screen!

I just got back from Las Vegas, where I attended the SGIA (Specialty Graphics and Imaging Association) trade show which is mostly geared towards sign makers, screen printers, and specialty graphics and coatings manufacturers. I'm always looking for cool crossover technologies from other industries that I can apply to the crafting world so I can continue to provide my customers with innovative products. At present, I'm working on a screen printing project. Hopefully I'll be able to deliver a home-based system to all you crafters out there that's easier (and cheaper!) than the other screen printing set-ups on the market already.

practically an expert
The plan is to provide you with a screen printing system that eliminates the need for an exposure unit and I'm happy to say that while at SGIA I made several strides forward in being able to bring this product together. I hope to have it commercially available for the first time at CHA Summer, 2011.

Now, you paper crafters may be asking yourself, "Why would I want to screen print paper? Isn't that a fabric process?" Well, I'll tell you: Because it's the most convenient way to make truly customizable prints. You make a screen from an image created on your computer (this can include clip art for those of us who are artistically challenged), and then you have the ability to print that image with both inks and adhesive (the gateway to all things shiny). This allows you to apply embossing powders, foils, flocking and glitter in any pattern you could ever imagine. No longer will you be confined by the limitations of your stamps and glue pens! With Stampee's new system, if you can print it, you can make a screen from it. And, oh, the world is yours to decorate.  :)

♥ Stacey

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Embossing Tutorial

As some of you readers know, my first love is printing. My family has been in the printing industry for four generations, beginning with my great grandfather who was a pressman. My grandfather followed in his footsteps and in 1977 he founded a company manufacturing thermography machines. Thermography machines allowed printers to create raised printing more easily and economically than the process of engraving. Today, the craft industry knows thermography as "embossing."

As I was looking through some embossing tutorials on other crafting sites, I rarely found the basic information that would allow users to get the best possible raise on their embossed images, so I sat down with my grandpa and we had a little chat. Well, actually, he just handed me a dvd he made of himself explaining how to do thermography....but I watched it!

gold embossing powder in a standard granulation

Here's the "need to know" information:

A great embossed effect is dependent upon 7 factors:
1) Kiss impression
2) Good lay down of ink
3) Paper considerations
4) Priming the paper
5) Correct powder size
6) Proper heat
7) Sufficient cooling

Let's get started!

1. Kiss impression: The first concept is that when you stamp an image down, you want the ink to be riding high on top of the paper. The first mistake you can make is to apply so much pressure to your paper when you stamp that you actually make an impression in the stock. This results in the ink being slightly below the surface of the paper when it's applied, and that's no good! Be gentle, ladies.

2. Good lay down of ink: Before you even take the lid off that ink pad, make sure you're using an embossable ink. These include pigment and watermarking inks.  They're formulated to dry very slowly, allowing you time to apply the embossing powder.

When you've got the correct ink, make sure you ink up your stamp until it's squishy (you'll know it when you feel it.) The ink acts as your adhesive for the powder, so don't skimp here.

Stamp your image and make sure it's solid. Any areas of lightness won't hold powder.

3. Paper considerations: To achieve a great raise, the best papers to use are: fine woven, sized, and coated stocks. Basically, we're looking for a paper that's not going to absorb all the powder when it's in liquid form. We want the liquid powder to wick into the paper, but only slightly, just enough to create a bond between the powder and the paper. Loose weave papers have a tendency to soak up all of the wet powder, making them less than ideal.

4. Priming the paper: So, you've picked out an ideal paper to emboss. Great! But now you have to make sure it's not full of moisture. If you've embossed a larger image area before and noticed the finished product looked lumpy, like an orange peel (industry term), this was caused by steam being released from the paper while you were melting the embossing powder. Here's a quick fix: Use a drying powder, like Stampee's Dry it Up! pre-embossing powder, on your stock before stamping your image. You just sprinkle it on, shake it around, and tap it off, then return the powder to its jar. This will dry your sheet and remove static, eliminating the dreaded orange peel and runaway pieces of powder that get stuck to your non-image areas. Hooray!

5. Correct powder size: Have you ever tried to create an embossed image and it came out gritty instead of smooth and shiny? Or maybe you were embossing an image you stamped only to find the embossing powder spilling over the sides and filling in some of the smaller details of your image after it had been heated. Don't worry, it's not just you. :)

Here's the scoop: Embossing powders are made in different granulation sizes. The most common and versatile powder is a #14 granulation, and that's what you usually find as your standard crafting embossing powder.

If you're using this powder to emboss an image and the finished product is gritty (this may happen over large solid image areas), the powder granulation size is probably too small.

If the melted powder is overflowing off of your image area and clogging up small details in your image, your granulation size is too large.

Luckily, you can purchase clear embossing powders from your crafting supplier in a few granulation sizes. Make sure to keep standard, coarse, and fine line powders on hand so you can always get the perfect raise! Now you know what to look for, so no excuses.

6. Proper heat: Common problems occur when too much heat is applied. If you've heated too long and you notice your image start to drop, turn your sheet over and you'll frequently see your image is coming through on the other side. You have completely liquified the powder by using too much heat. Sorry, this one's operator error.

Conversely, not using enough heat will prevent you from getting that high, glossy raise. So go ahead and heat until you hit that point, and then PUT THE HEAT GUN DOWN.

7. Proper cooling: This one is simple. Don't touch your embossed image with anything until it's completely cool. This will allow it to set, keeping it perfect.

There you have it. A lengthy and detailed tutorial about embossing!

Oh, and by the way, my grandpa's in his eighties and still manufacturing thermography machines.  :)


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hoot!: Paper lantern owl project

Looking for a fun, fall inspired project? Try creating a paper lantern owl. 

What you'll need:
  • Paper lantern: You can purchase these at most party stores. I got a pack of six for under nine dollars.
  • 3 pieces of coordinating scrapbooking paper (1 of these should be dark), and 1 piece of white copy paper
  • String
  • Glue Dots
  • 2 brads
  1. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for assembling the lantern and hang it up. Don't worry, it's pretty user friendly, it just snaps together.
  2. Now for those of you who have circle cutting tools it's time to dust those babies off. Since I don't have anything that fancy I just traced circles from different sized jars I had sitting around my house (a la kindergarten). For the eyes, you'll need two large circles of a patterned paper, two medium circles of white copy paper, and 2 small circles of a dark, solid-colored paper. I got fancy with the white circles and cut the outside into fringe so I could ruffle it up like feathers when assembled.
  3. When cut, just stack all three circles together and stick a thumbs tack through the center. Once you've poked your pilot hole, insert a coordinating brad to secure it all together. Slap a Glue Dot on the back of each eye and stick to the lantern.
  4. Cut a small triangle out of the dark paper and fold it down the middle. This is your beak. Just stick a piece of double sided dimensional tape on the back and attach it to the lantern under the eyes. 
  5. Cut the wings out of a patterned paper and attach with Glue Dots. I also made the fringe on the back side of the wings and fluffed up the "feathers."
  6. Cut the shapes for the feet out of the dark paper and punch a small hole at the top of each foot. Attach with string to the metal hanging hooks that are on the inside of the lantern. To keep the feet facing forward I taped them together on the backside.
  7. Now for the head feathers: Just fold up a piece of the dark paper accordion style, then fold that in half and stick it into the hole in the top of the lantern.
  8. Now all you have to do is find the perfect place to hang him.  Enjoy!
♥ Stacey

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rise & Shine! pearly embossing powders

Stampee Crafts' Rise & Shine! pearly violet embossing powder

I'm happy to introduce Stampee's newest line of products, our Rise & Shine! pearly embossing powders, available in red, evergreen, blue, and violet. As loose powder, all of the pearls look like plain-old-boring clear embossing powder. However, when they're heat set they really come to life and produce a glitzy iridescent finish.

These pearly powders are really versatile, so let me give you the basics.

over dark ink
When you apply these over dark colored inks, you get an opaque metallic/iridescent finish in the powder color that you used. In this example I chose violet.

Get this effect: Stamp an image using a dark colored embossable ink. Normally you'd probably use black, but I used a very dark indigo here and it didn't make any difference. Sprinkle on the Rise & Shine! pearly embossing powder and gently tap off excess. Heat the powder with your heat gun until the powder melts to a smooth finish and becomes super snazzy. You've got a very iridescent violet design in your hands. Hooray! 

*Side note: pigment inks that tend to stay wet longer (Color Box) will give you a marbled look after you've heat set the powder, as opposed to drier pigment inks (Ranger).

over clear embossing ink
So, you're ready for something with a little more pizazz? Good news: you can apply the pearly powders over clear embossing ink and light colored stock to produce a shimmer effect with a color tint like my example to the left. Try using this effect to create a really pretty patterned paper with stamps, or to make a jazzed up watermark. 

Get this effect: Stamp an image using a clear embossable ink.  Sprinkle on the Rise & Shine! pearly embossing powder and gently tap off excess. Heat the powder with your heat gun until the powder melts to a smooth finish and becomes super snazzy. You're a card-making rockstar. 

These powders really pick up on the colors behind them, so you need to understand that if you stamp an image in clear ink on black paper you're going to get the same effect you would if you were applying the powder to dark ink. Got it? Good! Dark background=opaque and iridescent. Light background=tinted and iridescent. 

You can purchase our Rise & Shine! pearly embossing powders directly from the Stampee Crafts website
Retail price: $3.95
Available in pearly red, pearly violet, pearly blue, and evergreen pearl

♥ Stacey