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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Marvelous Marker Techniques

Certainly we've all had experience with markers starting way back in Kindergarten, and maybe most adults have a few markers stashed in a kitchen drawer for marking boxes or some other dull task. Here's a chance to look at markers the way you did when you were younger - as a bold medium to express yourself artistically!

Water-based markers are a fabulous way to jazz up your stamping and really put some serious color into your paper crafting projects. Here's a few tips that I use just about every time I stamp. Naturally, I use "Stampin' Write" Markers because they are the best, not just demonstrator bias here.

Tip #1.) Markers can be a substitute ink pad. Sometimes if I haven't yet bought that "just right" color of ink in an ink pad, I just grab that "just right" color of marker and color directly onto my stamp, then stamp my image as usual. An even better idea: by coloring with markers directly onto a stamp you can:

a) isolate a portion of the design by coloring only the part you want to stamp

Here, I only want to use one phrase in the middle of this stamp, so I color the phrase "be happy" in "Real Red" and leave the rest clean. Make sure you clean off any stray marks before stamping.

b) have a multicolored image from one stamp

Here, I wanted my butterfly to have a black body with colored wings, so I colored the body with my "Basic Black" marker and the wings in "More Mustard". When you use this marker technique, be sure to give your stamp a big "princess sigh" - sigh real heavily over the stamp to moisten the ink with your breath before stamping it on the paper. It's especially important if you're coloring a larger size image to keep the ink wet.

Tip #2) Oh yes, there's more! Sponging and distressing - does distressing distress you? It's very easy, and very achievable with markers, you don't need a special kind of stamp pad for this technique.
Supplies you'll need are:

1) A non-porous surface such as a clean plastic pastry mat, or my favorite, a silicon craft sheet available through art/craft retailers. If you're using the pastry mat from the kitchen, make sure it's clean. Flour in the markers is not good.

2) A stamping sponge - kitchen sponges don't work well with this because of the chemicals they're treated with; make-up sponges are OK, but tend to absorb more ink than distribute. Sponge Daubers and Stampin' Sponges from Stampin' Up (they're the best, no kidding. I've tried all those others) Each Stampin' Sponge is 1" thick x 3" round and I cut each into eighths - so really it's a package of 24 sponges for 3.50, a good deal if I do say so myself. They distribute ink evenly, rather than absorbing it themselves.

3) Of course, you need water based ink, either in a dye ink pad or markers.

Step 1: On a silicon craft sheet or other non-porous surface scribble with the brush end of your marker next to your card stock to be "distressed".
here, I've scribbled a solid area of ink around the edge of my card stock. I tore the top edge on purpose for some texture.

2.) With a tight circular motion, push the ink into and across the edge of your card stock, only going about 1/2 " to 1" onto the surface. Repeat as necessary to get your desired intensity. It should give you a slight shading at the edge, adding depth to your collage without adding extra paper. Here I used a Sahara Sand marker for an antique linen look on Natural White card stock.

3.) To continue the distressed effect, you can scratch the fine edge of the card stock with your fingernail, bone folder or a distressing tool to give it a slight rumple and again, add more depth without adding extra layers to the card.

4.) Embellish and attach. Here, I've layered my "distressed" image layer over a layer of More Mustard card stock distressed with the same technique using a More Mustard marker. Both layers are tacked to a Basic Black card base. A bit of Real Red grosgrain jazzes up the simple stamping.

Tip #3) Water coloring! It's such a sophisticated look on a card and yet so easy to do with stamping. You'll look like you belong on a PBS art show with very little time and effort.

There are a couple ways to use markers and Aqua Painters or Blender Pens together to achieve beautiful watercolor effects.

Step 1: Stamp an image using Staz-On Jet Black Ink on Whisper White card stock. Even though Stampin' Up's Basic Black Classic Ink is waterproof when dry, the "Staz-On" is more color fast and more intensely black working better with water coloring. It also smells good. Don't breathe too deep, we've got work to do.

Painting option 1: Once your ink is dry (or you can cheat and heat set it with a heat tool) scribble onto the craft sheet with the brush end of your marker crating a little pool of ink. You can pick up the ink with your Aqua Painter, Blender Pen, or wet paint brush and watercolor the image, just as you would using ink from an ink pad. Start with your dark areas and work to lighter areas of your image. This creates bolder color in your painting.

Painting option 2: Just like in the "Paint with Water" books my son loves, you can apply ink with a marker to the darkest areas of your image by making little hatch marks with the fine point end of the marker and then quickly smudge the wet ink with your Aqua Painter and drag the color out into the lighter areas. The ink will naturally fade out as you pull the ink away from the lines. Repeat as necessary to get the color intensity you want. It's a softer effect than painting.

Here, I've used the complementary colors of Ruby Red with Cameo Coral to shade my flower, and Always Artichoke with Mellow Moss to shade the leaves.  After the ink dries, you can go back in with the fine point and add additional hatches of color in your darker areas.

Tip #4) This is a real fun trick: You can make watercolor wash backgrounds easily by coloring directly onto your craft sheet or non-porous surface with the markers and spraying the ink with water.

Step 1: With the brush end of the marker, scribble patches of color close together but not touching until you have covered an area just larger than your card stock.

Step 2: Mist generously with water from a spray bottle (since I originally wrote this piece, Stampin' Up has started selling Stampin' Spritzer bottles, which work like a champ for this technique)

Step 3: Press surface of your Whisper White card stock into the ink until the whole surface is covered. Allow to dry and repeat by adding more water to your ink on the craft sheet and pressing your card stock into it again until the desired color intensity and pattern is reached. You can re-position your card stock to get different shadings each time.

It will flatten out as it dries, and you can also speed up drying by using a heat tool. I prefer markers to full size ink pads because you can control the areas of color and can even draw little designs if you want.

Here, you can see my background sheet, pressed into the ink about 3 times, without using much water. See, it does flatten back out.  While that was drying I punched a 1" circle of  Mellow Moss card stock. After stamping, am using a Bone Folder to slightly curl or "distress" the edge. Simple geometric shapes can add variety and interest to you card front.
For my little circle, I have stamped it and colored the edge one shade darker in Always Artichoke to add depth.

Tip #5)  The obvious use for markers is for coloring directly on your paper, and you can play with both the brush end and fine point end for adding shadows and highlights and layering ink for intense color and smooth transitions. Here I started with my dark colors and went over them with my lighter colors pulling both dark and light together into the remainder of the section. Here you can see my finished watercolor card, and the comparison between watercolor and direct to paper marker technique. Although they look a little washed out in the photo, you can see the difference in intensity.

Here's a final look at the cards, and a little bookmark I made with the same materials as the card, adding a little black hemp twine with a couple beads tied on. An eyelet through the top adds a nice finishing touch. Our 80lb weight card stock is 2x the thickness of most retailer card stock and can stand up on its own as a book mark. Since we sell it in bulk packages, it's also less expensive by the sheet.

Tool care and maintenance tips:
1. Always clean your craft sheet between inking techniques, even if it looks like the ink was all used, there will still be a little to contaminate your next project. I use my Stampin' Mist cleaner sprayed directly onto the sheet and wipe off with a paper towel. Stampin' Mist is very concentrated, whenever I refill my mister I mix mine at a 60% : 40% ratio with water being the 40%. It extends the life of the bottle of Stampin Mist and still gets everything nice and clean.

2. Remember to always store your markers horizontally so that you have even ink distribution between the fine point and brush end.

3. Use a light hand when coloring with the brush end of the Stampin' Write Marker to preserve it's shape.

4. If your markers get contaminated with other colors, scribble on a clean sheet of paper with the contaminated area until the ink comes through the proper color.

5. Keep your "Staz-On" ink pad inverted when stored. This will keep your ink at the working surface of your pad and make inking a stamp easier. Also, you can keep the little plastic protector that comes with the ink pad in place by adhering it to the lid with a Mini-Glue Dot.

6. For water based techniques, always use the water based dye ink.

7. Our "Stampin' Write" Markers work well directly on vellum, no need to get a different set of markers just for vellum.

Take care of your tools and they'll last a long time.

Water color paper tips:
Stampin' Up offers several different types of neutral color paper that is great for water coloring on. Our best is our 100% cotton 140 lb Watercolor Paper, sold in packages of (5) 6" x 9" sheets.  Our Whisper White, Natural White, Natural Ivory, and light colored card stock also are well suited to watercolor technique, each surface is slightly different texture and color; thus will yield a slightly different effect. Very Vanilla, Shimmery White, or Vellum aren't suited to water color techniques, although they stamp fabulously and look beautiful with marker drawn directly on the paper.

This blog is a bit of a blast from the past - It was originally written 4 years ago and posted on my first blog site,  A long distance friend of mine had just ordered a set of Stampin' Write Markers, and wanted a tutorial to help her get the most from her purchase.  Some of these colors and stamp sets have been retired since the original publication, but the supply list below has been updated to the 2013-14 catalog.  All products are available from my website:

Supply List:
The stamp set used in these cards is the Dreams Du Jour and So Many Sayings stamp sets (retired) - try our fresh Creative Elements (128523w/122647c) and Fabulous Phrases (128577w/120501c) instead.

Water color paper (122959)
8-1/2" x 11" Card stock:
Basic Black (121045)
Whisper White (100730)
Natural White (102316)
Ruby Red (ret) - try Strawberry Slush (131295)
Cameo Coral (ret) try Crisp Canteloupe (131298)
Mellow Moss (ret) try Pear Pizzaz (131201)
Always Artichoke (105119)
More Mustard. (ret) try Crushed Curry (131199)
Stampin' Write Markers:
Regals Collection (131262) and Neutrals Collection (131261); Many Marvelous Markers - the complete color collection (131264)
Ink Pad: Staz-On Jet Black (101046)
Adhesives: SNAIL Adhesive ( and Mini Glue Dots
Ribbon: Real Red Grosgrain (ret) try Real Red 1/8" taffeta ribbon (119251)
Other tools from Stampin Up:
Sponge Daubers (102892) pkg of 12
Stampin' Sponges (101610)
Aqua Painters (103954) set of 2, med and large brush tip
Bone Folder (102300), Stampin' Trimmer (126889), Paper Snips (103579), Stampin' Scrub (126200), Stampin' Spritzer (126185) Stampin' Mist cleaner (102394).

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