Tag Archives: How To

alcohol inks review

13 Apr

Guest Blog Post by Design Team Member Pat Mathes

Comments in Italics by Deb

My final journey with the Design Team is working with alcohol inks.  I love the bold look of the finished process, and am learning to refine those colors into soothing looks.  It is all in the process.  I am by no means an expert in this – I am just the opposite, a novice but willing to learn.  I will warn you right now that you need to wear gloves with this media.  I didn’t at first and ended up with yellow and green fingers.  And this is a very permanent ink.  The craft scrubbie  is a must for any mixed media artist, and it did take off a bit, but not much.  So WEAR GLOVES!  Protect your clothing and your workspace.  I used my Ranger nonstick craft sheet, also available at Blue Twig Studio, to protect my table. (I do protect my table, but rarely wear gloves myself. I kind of like the ink on my hands – makes me feel like I actually did something creative!) 

Alcohol inks are an acid-free, highly-pigmented, and fast drying medium to be used on non-porous surfaces.  You work with drops from the bottle, not a paint brush (although I do teach using the paintbrush in my Exploring Alcohol Inks Class – which will probably be on the schedule sometime in the summer, so watch for it.). There is a wide variety of colors.  The two most popular brands are Adirondack and Pinata.  The major difference between the two is the color palette.  The Adirondack line of colors is very earthy and rich.  The Pinata inks are rich, but basically primary colors.  And bright.  The Adirondacks are a bit more fluid, also.  The Adirondack inks are softer, and the Pinata quickly overpowers with its color.  Vivid primary colors.  If you mix the two on a project, and they are mixable, the Pinata will be the dominant colors because of the intensity.  Both brands of ink are very fast drying.

As I work through these examples, you will note I talk about the ink moving.  This is one of the great ways this ink works.  If you pick up the paper and tilt it, the ink moves on top of the paper.  If you put blending solution on it, the inks move.  So when I say the ink is moving, it is doing just that.  It sits on top of whatever surface you are using.

Tools needed:  (1) Surface:  Alcohol inks do not work well on paper.  The drops just sink into the paper.  I did some experimenting with a piece of gesso painted wood and got a different effect – you don’t get the bloom on the drops as much and you don’t get the flow.  The inks work great on any other surface – plastic, metal, glass, and on Yupo, my favorite, which is a plastic paper that you can purchase at Blue Twig Studio either already cut or in a large sheet you can cut to the size you want.  The Yupo  has a surface that really works well with the alcohol inks.  (2) Blending Tool (available at Blue Twig Studio).  You drop drops of the different colors on it and pounce with it, and you will get different effects.  On the pieces in this article, I will tell you when I used the blending tool

AI 1

(3) Alcohol Blending Solution – an awesome product.  If you put some on the blending tool and daub it on a finished piece, it dilutes and lightens the effect of the alcohol ink. The solution will also clean the alcohol ink off of surfaces, hands and tools.  You can also use 91% rubbing alcohol.  I have a water pen and a spray bottle filled with the rubbing alcohol.  Please note that you need 91% rubbing alcohol, not the everyday kind you probably have in your cabinet.  There are a couple of examples below where I used the pen or the spray.

First, I am going to show you some comparison studies I did with the alcohol inks, using Yupo paper and glossy photo paper.

***I have put 3 different colors on the blending tool, dropping them around randomly.  You don’t totally cover the pad on the tool – you will get the feel of how many drops to use.  (See the tool below in picture 12 of the domino) On the Yupo paper, using the blending tool, it has a much softer appearance and a slight bloom.  On the glossy paper, it is more intense and the inks don’t move.  You can pounce the tool over and over.  On the Yupo paper, the ink sits on top of the under colors and blooms a little more, not darkening.  On the glossy paper the ink just sits on top of what you already did and darkens more, not moving any.

AI 2



*** I put blending solution on the blending tool and swiped it through the first sample below.  You will note that with the Yupo paper, it smeared and spread the inks.  The effect on the glossy photo paper was that it didn’t do much to what was already down, it just smeared it a bit.  These were both dry when I used the blending solution.

AI 3 (1)


**When you put a drop of another color on top of a color on the Yupo paper (below left), it blooms and you get that neat ring around it – on the glossy paper, it doesn’t show a lot of effect.  It doesn’t move the bottom color at all and in fact overpowers it.

AI 4 (1)



****The next sample is another one of layering the colors.  And then I took the water pen filled with alcohol and swiped through them to see what effect I would get.  You can see with the Yupo paper, it removes the ink.  On the glossy paper, it doesn’t hardly have any effect.        AI 5


On the Yupo paper, you can keep layering colors, and even drop the alcohol solution in it, and each drop will bloom on top of the others.  Here are some examples of this.  In picture 1 I layered 3 colors.  You can see how they bloom on top of each other, creating those rings of intensity.  In picture 2, I dropped a drop of alcohol blending solution.  See how it lessened the intensity of the color?  In picture 3 I dropped a drop of white on top and then spritzed with rubbing alcohol.  It creates “droplets” on top.AI 6



***Next, I wanted to try some marbling.  I put a thick layer of shaving foam on a paper plate and dropped some drops of alcohol ink on top.  I then took a pallet knife and cut through it, kind of swirling the inks.  After you place the paper into the foam and pick it up, you just take a palette knife or paper towel and wipe off the foam to reveal the colors and lay it aside to dry.  The picture on the left was done using card stock and the picture on the right is the same process using Yupo paper (the three lighter ones) and on the far right are the glossy paper.  You can see that the colors are more intense on the card stock and glossy paper than on the Yupo paper.  So it would depend on the appearance you wanted. These are now ready for embellishing.  At this point you could use these as backgrounds for a greeting card – collage on them, draw on them, do Zentangle on them – any kind of art.

AI 7

Once alcohol inks are dry, you can write or draw on them with many media – remember, they are not water based so you won’t smear them with a water based media on top.



****The next sample I really enjoyed doing.  But doing this with the alcohol inks, you have to work fast because they dry so quickly.  I dropped Pinata inks (see how vivid the colors are) onto the Yupo paper, totally covering it.  I used a bit of blending solution to move the colors around a bit (this also extended the drying time a bit), and then I wrapped the paper in plastic wrap.  I left it to dry overnight.  When I released the plastic wrap the next day the effect was beautiful.  In the third picture, I did another piece using Adirondack colors which gave a more subtle effect.  (this is a great way to create special effects)


***And then there are dreamscapes.  This is the idea of June Rollins (she has beautiful AI work and many tutorials available).  You lay down lines of the alcohol ink across the page, add blending solution and tilt the paper to make the ink flow.  Then you add another color and do the same thing.  You take coffee stirrers and move the ink flow.  You take an old credit card and move it.  Get the picture?  Her pieces are beautiful – these are my first two attempts.  These take a lot of practice to get them to really work right.  I just love the looks of flow that you can get with these inks.

AI 10



Next one turned into kind of a hot mess.  I put down a mix of colors and then laid a stencil on top.  I dropped the blue through the stencil.  That is the outer part.  You let it sit a while and you can kind of see the stencil.  I didn’t like the way it did the inner part, so I put another stencil on top and dropped clear blending solution on it.  That created the small circles you see.  So the overall effect is okay, and I took a silver Uniball pen and a microperm pen and did a tangle on it.


AI 11


**I dropped ink on the blending tool and pounced it on a blank domino (just an inexpensive plastic domino).  These are fun to collage on, punch hole through and make necklaces.

AI 12


***To show a couple other effects, I did a light background, then placed the circle stencil on top of it.  I put blending solution on the blending tool and pounced through the stencil.  This took the ink off in those places.  Then I used a stamp with Ranger Archival Ink and stamped on the bottom.  On the right hand side, this is one of the earlier pieces where I showed drops on top of each other.  I inked my stamp with Ranger Archival Ink (has to be this type of ink) and then took a damp paper towel and removed the ink.  I wasn’t careful enough and did smear it a bit, but you get the general effect – it removes the color just like the blending solution does.

AI 13


Last but not least, here I just used drops of color on the blending tool, pounced it all over the Yupo paper, then used some blending solution on top of it and pounced some more.  I also did some drops directly on the Yupo paper. Once it dried, I did some quick art on top of it with white gel pen and black Microperm.

AI 14


When I step out of my comfort zone and work on something new, I am sometimes quickly frustrated. It doesn’t look the way I think it should or the way that the picture/video I am working from looks. I expect perfection from myself and it should be easy peasy. But that doesn’t happen. It takes practice, and finessing techniques my way, and coming up with a way that works for me.  That way I can start to develop my own style.  This was a really fun way to step out of my comfort zone!!  I see more playing in my future!


Thanks Pat for a great tutorial. Alcohol Inks are fun and addictive to use. There are many more ways you can use them besides what Pat has shared here. She is right that you just need to start playing and developing your own style to use them. One of the wonders of AI is that you really have just a minimum of control and that takes some getting used to. 

Blue Twig Studio sells all the Ranger Adirondack Alcohol Inks and the Pinata Alcohol Inks, as well as the Yupo paper and various tools, including craft sheets (although everything may not be listed on the website). Watch the Class Schedule for the next Exploring Alcohol Inks class – which I try to do once or twice a year. It is a great way to play and experiment with various surfaces and tools. I love to see which techniques/surfaces/tools the students love and which ones they ignore. 


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio

5039 N Academy Blvd 

Colorado Springs, CO 80918





Distress Products

5 Mar

Guest Blog Post by Design Team Member Pat Mathes

Comments in italics by Deb


The items in my packet for February were Distress products  (by Ranger)- Ground Espresso Distress Marker; Vintage photo distress ink pad; Fossilized Amber distress spray stain; Ground Espresso distress paint and Carved Pumpkin distress stain.  I already had quite a few different Distress ink pads, and bought some distress paints recently.  So I combined it all together to do this post.  I will apologize in advance for the extensive use of the words “spritz” and “mist” but I did do a lot of spritzing and misting while preparing these pieces.  It is important to have a blending tool to use these inks in the following ways.  So sit back, look at the process and then have FUN!!!

Distress 1

Distress ink is formulated to give an aging effect on paper, fibers and photographs.  The inks are reactive with water and will travel on the paper.  The inks stay wet longer so you can blend with them.  The inks are not permanent, and you can go back and mist them and reactivate them or water spot them.  You can get a great look by letting it all dry, then spatter it with some pretty good sized drops of water and just let it sit.  The water splotches left by doing this make a pretty cool background effect.

The distress inks are a lot of fun to work with.  Here are some pictures of the work in first stages:

Distress 2

The top left picture was first misted with Fossilized Amber spray stain.   I then blotted some Carved Pumpkin stain on an acrylic block, misted it and laid the paper on it.  When that was dry, I put some Ground Espresso distress paint and Mermaid Lagoon distress paint on an acrylic block, and using a sponge, sponged the paint through a stencil.

Bottom left picture was first stamped with white acrylic paint.  The top stamp was full strength, and the bottom one was the ghost image of what was left on the stamp, making a nice contrast to the first stamp.  The acrylic paint acts as a resist and retains its color.  Then I used the blending tool and laid down a background of blended ink of worn lipstick and weathered wood.  I took Fossilized Amber distress stain and put it on an acrylic block, spritzed it with water and laid the piece down on it to take up some of the color.  I then let it dry.

The third piece was an accounting paper tag.  I crumpled it in my hand, and then while still crumpled, I took the walnut distress ink pad and ran it over the creases.  I spritzed it with water, let it run in the creases, and while still wet, placed it between two pieces of parchment paper and ironed it out.  I used Fossilized Amber spray stain and gave it a spritz.  Then took the blending tool and weathered wood ink pad and stenciled the dots.

The fourth piece has a background of blended ink using the blending tool.  I then blotted some Carved Pumpkin stain from the dabber bottle on an acrylic block, misted it and laid the paper on it in a couple of places.  I took a stencil and using the blending tool and the vintage photo ink pad, sponged the image.

Here are the pictures of my finished pieces.  I used black ink for the stamps used, except for the tag with the tulip.  There was other wording on the stamp I didn’t want to use, so I used the distress marker and colored the stamp.  The wording on the “Delight” piece was enhanced by the Distress marker.

Distress 3


You can stamp the ink pad on an acrylic block and mist it, then lay the paper down on it and sop up the ink.  You can use as many colors as you want as long as they don’t get mixed up and make a mud color.  You really need to be careful with the colors.  You could also do them individually and use a heat tool in between.  This method makes a really nice blended background.  You could then put a stencil on top of that and spritz it with water and careful lift it up, leaving the ghosted image of the stencil on the blended background.  You can also do the same thing with the distress stain in the dabber bottle – only you really don’t have to mist it – you can use it full strength.  You can also take the liquid stain and put it in a mini mister for better control.  These products are transparent in nature, so you can really do so much with them.  For instance, if you have a really bright scrapbook paper and want to tone it down a little, you can use the blending tool and ink pads and apply directly on the scrapbook paper.  It tones down the color, lets the new color shine through.

Pictures 4 and 5 are very interesting uses of the distress ink pads.  I had already done these background pages but since they use this product, I am sharing them.  First, take gesso and apply through a stencil and let it dry.  Then use the blending tool and the ink pads, and cover the background – these are done in two colors.  Once you have the background in, take another stencil and lay over the stop.  Spritz water through the stencil, let it sit a minute and then take a damp paper towel and blot up some of the ink background.  These make beautiful backgrounds.  Picture No. 5 is a finished piece using this process.

Distress 6

Another great way to use the distress ink pads – Blot your stamp on an Embossing ink pad, lightly blot it off and mist with water.  Then stamp it on distressed background and watch it wick, giving it a watercolor effect.  You can also do this with the stain.  I did a couple of pieces here – I didn’t use the embossing ink first – just stamped it on the ink pad and spritzed it lightly.  The image on the top is full strength and the one on the bottom is the ghost image.  I just used a white background, but the potential for some beautiful pieces is definitely in this process.  Another tip for this one, even after it is dry, you can use a water brush and move some of the ink around if you have a darker area or one that didn’t wick much.  I really like this process.

Distress 7

Last, but not least – a journal page.  First, using white acrylic paint, I did three images on the two pages and let them dry.  I then took the Carved Pumpkin spray and sprayed it through a stencil on the upper right corner.  Once that dried, I used the blending tool and the mowed lawn ink pad, and did a blended ink over most of the two pages.  You can see that in some instances, I used a heavier hand with the blending tool, making a darker shade of the ink.  I sprayed some more Carved Pumpkin on the left side.  Then I used the Mermaid Lagoon distress ink on the bird stamp and stamped the image.  I used the Walnut Stain ink paid and inked the large flower stamp – I did very very lightly spritz it with water before stamping to give it a slight watercolor effect.  The face was stamped with Ground Espresso paint on tissue paper and applied with Matte Medium.  I put a little gesso under the image to break up the green a little.  Also, you can see on the top left portion and the bottom right where I used the large water splotches to give a different effect.  I then took the vintage photo ink pad and the blending tool and distressed the edges of the pages.

I don’t show much use of the marker in these pages – I did mix it in with the Walnut Stain ink pad to make sure I was getting the large stamp covered, and used it on the Delight page when the stamp failed to give a proper image.  I like the fine tip on the Distress marker, but I find the brush end is a bit firm.  Again, these are water based markers, and I am more likely to use Tombow markers because I like the brush ends better.


All in all, I love the Distress products.  I had not used the stain or spray stain before.  They are quite easy to use.  There are so many ways to use these products and they are a lot of fun to work with.  It is not a messy product to use.  I will definitely use these more and more in the future.


Thanks Pat. That was an awesome demo of the various Distress products and the different ways they can be used. I really love how your journal pages turned out. I’ve had fun playing with the spray stains – but then I am a spray fanatic. Of course, we carry a good selection of Distress products of all kinds. They are designed to play well together. If you are looking for a particular Distress product and don’t see it on the website, just contact me as I very well may have it in stock, but not have it listed on the website. 


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, CO 80918


Golden High Flow Acrylics review

20 Oct

Guest Blog Post by Design Team member Venisa Gallegos

Comments in italics by Deb 

So, this month, Deb gave me some Golden High Flow Acrylic paints to play with.  Included were the colors red and green and an iridescent silver. My first thought was, this will be an easy assignment and then reality set in.  What do I do with these High Flow paints? I decided to google how to use these paints and found that they have an ink-like consistency that can be used in painting, drawing, staining, glazing, inking, hand-lettering, spraying, and more. You can use them in an airbrush, dip pen or refillable marker (I loved using them in the markers).  What really caught my eye was that they come in Fluorescent colors.  Woo Hoo!  So, three colors was just not enough to play with so I went back and bought Fluorescent Yellow, Fluorescent Green and Pthalo Green (Blue Shade).  Armed with knowledge and supplies I set about my task.  (gotta love the florescent colors!)

  1. Application with Lutradur

But first I thought, why can’t I just use my regular Golden acrylics with water?  Won’t those be the same?  As it turns out, no they won’t.  Regular Golden Acrylics mixed with water get diluted.  So, that’s the big selling point with the High Flow Acrylics.  They give you concentrated color (which is extremely fluid).   I love working with Lutradur which is a non-woven, polyester fabric.  It’s basically a cross between paper and fabric.  So, I first sprayed the Lutradur with water and then started to splash the High Flow Acrylic paints onto a sheet of Lutradur.  I was immediately able to mix the colors around like finger paints to get an intense background of colors.  I was also able to easily drip and roll the paint around on the Lutradur.  The High Flow Acrylic did indeed brighten up certain areas on my sheet.  Once I had a good background I let the paint dry and once dry I stenciled on an image of a fern leaf (you know I have lots of stencils).  Since the Lutradur is polyester I used my wood burning tool with a sharp point and burned out the stenciled image.  Next, I bonded together several strips of Textiva (or Angelina film) and then put some shimmery Angelina fiber between the sheets.  I placed this between my cut out image and another piece of Lutradur that I colored.  The result is shown below.  I love how the intense colors on the Lutradur help highlight the fern leaf.




  1. Application with Canvas

For another application of the paints I took a sheet of canvas paper and sprayed it with water before again adding the High Flow Acrylic paints.  To see how the color compared with regular watered down acrylics I used some of my regular Golden paints to lay down a layer of blue.  Then, using the High Flow Acrylics I brightened up different areas of the canvas sheet.  I wanted to create highlighted colors that resembled water.  My thoughts on how to finish it was that once dry, I will be able to go back in and stitch around the more intense color areas and see what I get. OK, so I tried to sew through this and broke the needle.  Oh well.  But I still love how the Golden High Flow Acrylics gave me intense areas of color. (I’m sure you will find some use for this beautiful piece!)




  1. Application with Brusho Water Colors

Since the paints flowed like water I decided to use them with my set of Brusho Crystal Inks.  These are basically water colors.   I took some vellum paper and sprayed it with water and then added the Brusho Water Colors.  Next I dripped on some of the Iridescent Silver paint on the paper.  I really liked how the paint mixed with the water color and gave everything a shimmery look.





So, I found that what I liked best about the paints was that they produced intense colors and I could play with them like water colors.  Also, since they are acrylic, the paint can be painted over and not bleed or move around.  I’d definitely recommend trying some and seeing what you can do with them.  Now I have to go back and get some more of those magnificent fluorescent colors.


Thanks Venisa for a fun tutorial and review of products. Blue Twig Studio does carry the Golden High Flow Acrylics and the Brusho Crystals – however they are not currently listed on the website, so if you are interested let me know. The Lutradur and the Angelina are listed on the website. Or you can always stop by the shop to see what is available. ~Deb

Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, CO 80918




Easy Mixed Media Project

20 Apr

We recently created a fun mixed media project for our Arty Party. The Arty Party is a monthly class that is a lot of fun. Every month we do something different and always have a good time being creative. The best part of the Arty Party is that it is a mystery. You don’t get to know what the project is ahead of time. You just show up and then we start playing and creating. Everyone always does an amazing job!

For this project we started with a painted canvas board and set it aside to dry while we worked on the painted papers. (You can also use a cradled canvas.) I used black paint because I like the contrast, but you can use any color you like.


Then we started painting our papers. Just start layering paint. I like to use the scraping method (using an old gift card or key card works great), but you can use a brush too. The key is to keep adding layers, but to let each layer dry completely in between (you can use a heat gun to speed up the process). If you don’t let them dry, you will end up with a muddy mucky mess. You will want to add some extra layers with paint, using stamps or stencils or drawing with skewers or spraying or dripping. The more layers the better.  The layers are what makes the art interesting.

For this project, keep a lot of variety in your work. Since you will be cutting up your painted paper, be sure to keep it layered and interesting. It is OK to have an ugly paper. In fact, this project is perfect for some of those painted pages you have that you maybe don’t really like very much. We all have them!

Once you have layers that you are happy with, you can move on to the next part.  You will now take a marker (I used black) and start writing on your painted page. Write big and bold and cover your page. You can write a message to yourself, your favorite words, a quote, the names of your kids, etc. We are going to cut it all up so it doesn’t matter too much what you write.


Then you will take a smaller nib pen, preferably in a contrasting color. I like to use metallic pens. You can do more writing if you like, or you can do what I did. I used fake writing. It is kind of fun. I just sort of use loopy scribbling and pretend to write words and just covered the painted page again. I will often turn the page in different directions, making sure to get a lot of coverage.

For the Arty Party, we used Aileen’s tacky paper which is a great adhesive paper. It is marketed for fabric, but I figured it would work just as well on paper.  Peel your tacky paper and adhere it to the back of your painted paper, carefully smoothing it out.  Now start cutting it up. I also tried this using gel medium as an adhesive. I found that if I was using the cradled canvases, I needed gel medium. The tacky paper didn’t work quite as well on a surface that has some give to it. (It did work great on the hard canvas boards though.)

Then I started cutting up my paper. You probably need to have a general idea of the look you want before your start cutting. I started by cutting strips of my paper and then cut those strips into small squares. You can also use the strips by themselves and cut the in different lengths (like one of mine shown at the end of the post), or cut random shaped squares and rectangles or various other shapes. Use your imagination and have fun with it.  You can really get creative in this (as the Arty Party students were).

After you cut up your paper, then you just start rearranging them into a different order. Really mix them up, turn some bits upside down or sideways to create even more interest. After you are happy with the placement, start adhering your pieces down – either using the tacky paper or the gel medium. (Keep in mind you will probably end up with lots of extra bits.)

If you are using the sticky paper, I recommend piling some magazines or books on the piece for a couple of days to really adhere your paper. If you are using gel medium or mod podge, be sure to use plenty on the bottom and on the top of your bits to adhere it really well.

Super easy and fun to do. Have fun!




Let Your Inner Artist Out To Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, Co 80918 – USA


Tim Holtz Grungeboard

17 Oct


This is an older Tim Holtz video about Grungeboard, but since a lot of people still ask questions about it, I thought it was worth sharing.

As you can see in the video Grungeboard is pretty awesome to use. Of course, all the Tim Holtz products by Ranger work really well with it, but I’m sure that you can see the endless possibilities with any of your other favorite products. I have painted it, distressed it, cut it, sewn it, glued it, etc. It works great no matter what you do to it.

If you already have some Grungeboard, get it out and play with it. If you don’t have any, well here is where you can purchase some!



Let Your Inner Artist Out To Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5965 Whiskey River Drive – Colorado Springs, CO 80923 – USA

Using Alcohol Inks with Tim Holtz

9 Feb

This is a great video by the fabulous Tim Holtz of Ranger giving you some basic ideas of how to use the Alcohol Inks. Of course, there is so much more you can do with them, but this gives you a great starting point, and then the sky is the limit. Thanks so much Tim for giving this quick demo.

I have used them on a variety of surfaces as you can see here. I have colored metal boxes and used as backgrounds on ATCs and notecards and just tried them on a few items. But I am looking to really expand my knowledge and play with them in my journals too. I’ll post how that goes once I have done some experimentation. Those little bottles of ink go a long ways, so I figure I can really have some fun and not feel too wasteful with the product.

What have you used your inks on?


Blue Twig Studio

Make a Bow

26 Nov

It’s that time of year where we are wrapping gifts and always looking for unique ways to make our packages special. The bows on the package are like the cherry on the top of the ice cream sundae. You have to have one!

I am happy to welcome another guest blogger this week. Linda Schwarz has created this great tutorial on how to make your own bows using whatever you might have on hand – old magazines, old map books or art books, calendar pages, scrapbooking paper, etc. It’s a great way to be ‘green’, to use up stuff you might otherwise throw away, and your bows will be unique to you! You can also use the leftover pieces to make matching tags for your package. Very cute! Linda says these instructions are for the ‘glue-impaired’, so NO GLUE involved! Here you go!

Make a Package Bow from magazines, old art books, scrapbooking paper and more. by Linda Schwarz (Nov 2011)


Paper Hole punch (cropodile or big bite) – Brads – Rotary Cutter – Ruler – Rotary Mat

Suggested paper cuts:

Paper Type Strip width

1st round

3 cuts

2nd round

3 cuts

3rd round

2 – 3 cuts

Center Loop

3 holes punched 3 holes punched 3 holes punched

2 holes punched

Standard Magazine


Height of Paper Height minus 1” Height minus 2” 3 cuts

3 ½”

Standard Magazine


Height of Paper Height minus 1” Height minus 2” Only 2 cuts

3 ½”

12” x 12”


Height of Paper Height minus 1” Height minus 2”3 cuts 

4 ½”

12” x 12”


Height of Paper Height minus 1” Height minus 2”3 cuts 

4 ½”


1. Cut paper.

Paper cuts

2. Punch holes.  Three holes (end, middle, end) in the 1st three rounds. Only end holes in the center loop.

holes punched

3. Beginning with center loop, match holes and place brad from the center out.

center strip with brad

4. Hold brad in place, take a paper from round 3, placing wrong side facing you and thread the center hole on the brad.

5. Twist the left end of the strip up, keeping the color side out and thread the end hole on the brad.

twist paper

6. Twist the right side down keeping the color side out and thread the end hole wrong side of the paper facing you on the brad.  With the two twists, you create a figure 8.

each strip twisted

7. Continue with papers from round 3, then round 2 then round 1.

8. Open brad to secure.

9. Voila!

finished bow


I tried a couple of variations myself. Going with the ‘green’ notion of the bows, I used some of my wax paper that I place under projects to catch paint spills, etc. These are about the size of a magazine page, so they seemed the right size to use (measure your paper before cutting to be sure you have enough to make a bow). I thought it might be fun to use some of my decorative tapes. I covered two wax papers, one with decorative packing tape, and one with the paper tape, and then cut them into my strips. I thought the packing tape weight didn’t make quite as nice a bow as the paper tape did, but they were fun to do! We love all those fun tapes, but there is a lot of tape on each roll, so using part of it for bows is a great way to use it up. Plus you can add tape to your packages and the bows will match. How fun is that?

pages covered with tape

I also thought I would try to use some ribbon to make a pretty bow. I used some 7/8″ wide grosgrain ribbon, which is just the perfect strip width and the perfect weight of ribbon to make a pretty bow. However, it does take nearly 2.5 yds to make one bow, so it might be nice for that special package, and then wrap extra ribbon around the package to match. Here are my finished bows.


You can download a printable version of the directions by visiting the Blue Twig Studio home page and clicking on the link there. These are easy to do, and quite addictive. You will be looking around your studio trying to find something interesting to make more bows with. What bows will you be making? ~~Deb

How To Make ATCs, Cards, Journal pages in one afternoon

14 Oct

We have a guest blogger here today sharing a demo with us. Many thanks to Linda Logan for helping out.

Mixed Media ATCs to Art Journal pages
By Linda Logan

Medium texture Canvas Pad – 3 sheets
#120 Bristol Plate Paper – 2 sheets
Rubber stamp(s)
Black StazOn Stamp Pad
Bubble Stencil
Tim Holz tissue tape
TapeSwell, Butterflies
Radiant Rain – Sunburst & Ocean Wave
Twinkling H2Os: various colors
Gold Gelato
Various Embellishments
Favorite adhesive

materials used

I work full-time and sometimes have a hard time fitting art into my schedule.  When I do get some dedicated time to create and get all the supplies together, I like to get the most out of the limited time. This demo will show you how to create ATCs and then expand on that design to create cards and move on to art journal pages.

Easy background.  Take the 3 sheets of canvas and spray with Radiant Rains Sunburst.  I Love the Radiant Rains and have been using them like crazy since I purchased my first colors. Instead of buying the expensive “spraying boxes,” I just use the cardboard bottom of a case of sodas.  Next use the Bubble stencil and spray with Radiant Rains Ocean Waves.





For my purposes: I cut one sheet into 4 (for cards), 1 sheet in half (for Art Journal pages) and the last sheet I cut 3 ATCs (2 1/2 “ x 3 1/2 “) and one 8” x 8” piece for another Art Journal page.

cut canvas pieces

I used the Gold gelato on the edge of the cut pieces and then I added stitching in black thread to the cut background pieces.  For the cards, I sewed the piece right to the card which was made from the #120 Bristol Plate Paper.

decorated edge

sewn edges

Next, stamp the main image on dictionary or atlas pages.  I shop the thrift stores to find old dictionaries and atlas books. You can also purchase collage packs.
Assemble ATCs:
Apply tissue tape to the left side of the ATC and cut the stamped image to fit the ATC.  Assemble the components for the ATCs.  Cut out Butterfly wings from TapeSwell tape.

stamp & images


ATC materials

Attach butterfly wings and stamped image to ATC.  Color stamped image with Twinkling H2Os and markers or pencils of choice.  Add saying or other embellishment of choice.


Assemble Cards:
Now that you have the backgrounds done and all the materials out it is easy to adapt the design to make cards.  Apply tissue tape to the left side of the cards.  Cut the stamped image and the butterfly wings out of the TapeSwell.  I stamped extra face images and used a PoP-Dot to raise the face on the stamped image.

card materials

Attach butterfly wings and stamped image to cards.  Color stamped image with Twinkling H2Os and markers or pencils of choice.  Add saying and other embellishments of choice.

finished card

Assemble Art Journal Pages:
Further expansion of the design process.  Basically the process is the same as for the cards, with more embellishments and additional stamped images.

journal pages

journal page

By doing all the backgrounds at once and using the same materials for all three projects, you can get the most out of your crafting time.  I did all of these in a little more than an afternoon of dedicated time.  Cheers and Happy Crafting!!!

Making beautiful Papers with Citri-Solve

26 Sep

I had read about using Citri-Solve and National Geographic to create some fabulous papers to use in collage and journaling and I had seen some pages that were created by a friend of mine. I just had never tried it myself. So when a friend gave me some National Geographic magazines, I figured I should try it out.

I had read that using other citrus based cleaners would not get the same results. Also, I needed to use National Geographics. Other magazines and catalogs weren’t made the same, so they wouldn’t give me the right results. Something about the type of paper and the inks they use. Although I did read one blog post from somebody who had luck using Vogue magazines. I figured I would try a few different magazines and catalogs and see what happened.

First problem I encountered was that it isn’t very easy to find the Citri-Solve brand cleaner. I only found it locally at Whole Foods. Nobody else carries it. So I took my spray bottle home and started spraying papers and waited to see what would happen. Hmmm….nothing much happened. A little disintegration of the pages, but nothing impressive. So I did a little more research and found out you have to use the concentrate form of Citri-Solve, not the spray bottle of cleaner. Apparently that isn’t really strong enough. So back I went to Whole Foods to buy the concentrate form. I wonder what they think I am cleaning that I need so much Citri-Solve to do the job?

Citri-Solve Concentrate & National Geographic

I didn’t really know how much I needed to use, so I started by just using a paper towel to dab the concentrate on the pages. It sort of worked, but it wasn’t enough to get solid results. Then I started just pouring the Citri-Solve onto the pages of the National Geographic (and some pages in some other magazines too) and smearing it around. Now it was working! YAY!

I wasn’t sure how many pages I should do at once, or how long they needed to soak before I started spreading them out to dry. I started with about 10 pages just to see how it worked and how long it would take. In the meantime I spread out paper towels and wax paper around the floor of the studio so I could lay out my pages to dry. Then I went back to peek at my first pages and they were working nicely. I tore them out and spread them on the wax paper to dry. Then I went back and poured concentrate throughout the rest of the magazine pages. I just went through page by page and poured a little bit on each page and then started squishing the magazine pages together.

I think the squishing is the part that makes it really work. But boy is it messy. I knew to have paper towels handy and to put the magazine on some paper to protect the table, but I didn’t realize HOW messy it would be. As you squish it and press it together, all the ink and goop starts leaking out the edges. Black goopy stuff. Very messy! I probably should have worn gloves for that part.

I just kept squishing and wiping up the leaking goop and then checking the pages every couple of minutes. As the pages started looking like they were changing, I started ripping them out, smearing them even more as I was going. While the pages are wet you can keep smearing the inks and get different results. I also noticed that not all of the pages change. Some of the pages don’t alter at all. I’m not sure why that is, but it is! Nonetheless I was able to get dozens of pages of really cool paper out of one magazine. Some of the pages only had partial changes, but I can cut them up to use them. None of the other magazines I tried really had the same type of results. I think I will stick to the National Geographics in the future. Here are a few of the pages I created!

Altered pages

It is so cool to watch the transformation of the pages and to be envisioning what I might potentially be able to do with them. I hope you get the chance to try out this fun technique and make some of your own awesome pages!

Where Did You Get That Bag?

10 Sep

It seems like everyone has a laptop these days and you need a way to carry it around. My friend Ruth Chandler has an article about making a very cool and very fun laptop bag in the current 2011 Quilting Arts Gifts magazine. There are many fun holiday and gift ideas in this magazine. If you don’t have a copy yet, be sure to get one.

Quilting Arts Gifts

Ruth is very creative and very handy with creating her own patterns for things. She sees a need and just starts working on it. This bag is really great to make and you can personalize it any way you like to really make it reflect your personality. And the instructions are easy to follow. You can find the supplies for it on the Blue Twig Studio web site, including a kit that has everything you need (except your fabric and thread – you do want to make it your very own bag with your own fabric choices). Look how cute Ruth’s bag turned out. I know you want your own!




Ruth is a fiber artist, who started with garment making and traditional quilting (like many fiber artists do). She is the co-author of Fabric Embellishing: The Basics and Beyond (which everyone should own). She is currently teaching classes at Nana’s Quilt Cottage in Colorado Springs. She also teaches on-line classes with Liz Kettle at Textile Evolution. You can also find her on her blog. She grew up in Japan and you can really see the Japanese influence in her work.

I hope you get a chance to check out the article and also look at her classes and some of her fiber art work.

Royalty Free Images
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