A Compendium Of Curiosities

Yesterday was all about Mr. Tim Holtz for me (and my pocketbook). First, I received my copy of Mr. Holtz’s new book, “A Compendium Of Curiosities”–which I’ll get to in a moment. Secondly, I ordered nearly $200 of his new Alterations line. I am in awe of the versatility of some of the new Sizzix Bigz dies and edge dies he’s come up with. If you haven’t visited Tim Holtz’s blog as of late, I highly recommend you take a look at the set of new videos he posted describing his intentions and examples of the new Alterations line of products. Needless to say, I’m hooked (line and sinker). I’ve always been a fan of Mr. Holtz’s tools and products (a fact my craft stash would attest to in a court of law). I suppose his aesthetic may not appeal to all crafters, but I have to say I love the grunge look of his style and his methods of repurposing objects and trinkets. It’s also one of the few craft lines that is very male and teen friendly (in my opinion). Among the dies I am eagerly awaiting: Caged Bird, Fanciful Flight, Gadget Gears, Tattered Florals, Hanging Sign, Ornamental, Keyholes, Styled Labels, Three Hole Punch, and File Tabs. (The sad part is there are still a few more I want–but they weren’t in stock at the moment. So, I’m sure I’ll be placing another order on down the road.)

But enough about my shopping habits…and on to the book. Can I just say right up front that this book belongs in every crafter’s library. Whether you are a Tim Holtz fan like me or just interested in new methods, techniques, and ideas, this book is for you. The hardcover book (with interior spiral binding) measures approximately 8 3/4″ x 8 3/4″ and has 77 pages. But don’t be fooled by that number. The book is bursting with information and wonderfully rendered color photographs presented with Mr. Holtz’s usual panache and flair.

Beginning with a brief introduction to the man and his studio–as well as a list of products he has developed or helped to develop and their intended uses–the book wastes no time getting to its essential core. It’s broken down into three major sections: Ideas, Techniques, and a Gallery.

In the Ideas section, Holtz explores different elements and embellishments and how they can affect your projects–whether they be layouts, cards, mini-books, etc. Among the topics he discusses and shows examples of:

  • ornate plates
  • foilage
  • corner
  • tags, tokens, & sticks
  • type charms
  • gears, sprockets, & timepieces
  • numerals
  • keys & keyholes
  • adornments & vintage buttons
  • curio knobs & foundations
  • film strip & ruler ribbon
  • fasteners & washers
  • mini clips & pins
  • trinket & memo pins
  • hitch fasteners
  • hinge clips & D-rings
  • swivel clasps
  • ball, bead & link chains
  • tickets & stickers
  • paper stacks
  • grungeboard & grungepaper
  • fragments

    My favorite section has to be the Technique section. In it, Mr. Holtz teaches us to use some of his famous techniques, tips and tricks. What’s clever is that most of them are done is six simple steps with accompanying full-color photographs. Among the techniques highlighted are:

  • wrinkle free distress
  • scribble stain distress
  • water stamping
  • blended batik
  • dabber resist
  • perfect distress
  • inking grunge
  • double distress
  • rusted enamel
  • distress crackle
  • distress powder
  • chipped enamel
  • rusted grunge
  • distress stickles
  • rock candy distress stickles
  • altered metal with paint
  • shabby chic
  • weathered wood grunge
  • alcohol ink monoprint
  • alcohol ink splatter
  • alcohol ink agate on grunge
  • industrial grunge
  • tinted vision fragments
  • altered metal alcohol inks
  • colorful layered fragments
  • masks basics
  • inking and stamping masks
  • distress misting masks
  • extreme masking
  • fragments basics
  • dimensional collage fragments
  • fragment charms
  • grungepaper flowers
  • multi-medium collage
  • design details

    The final section is a wonderful gallery of projects done by Mr. Holtz that incorporate many of the techniques, tools, and examples used throughout the book. What really surprised me was that even someone like myself who has used a lot of Holtz products can still find new information on how to use products that you hadn’t thought of or didn’t realize you could do. I was really excited by the fragments projects (and will be working on some of those in the near future.

    “A Compendium Of Curiosities” retails for $24.99 and, in my opinion, is worth every single penny. I highly recommend this book to anyone with even a faint interest in papercrafting.

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  • Recently On My Desk…(#2)

    Here are a couple of peeks at some of the card projects I worked on this week. I hope you all have a great weekend ahead–and don’t forget to sign up for Giveaway #4.






    Card Spotlight: Vintage Surfboard Inspiration

    For this card project, I was inspired by a design pattern from a vintage surfboard. It combines the techniques of masking (which we explored in an earlier project) and the Gamsol colored pencil technique. Again, we play with color and texture to create visual and tactile appeal.

    This project uses the following materials:

    –white cardstock
    –Nick Bantock Vermillion Lacquer
    –Sakura Glaze Pen in Black
    –Heidi Swapp hibiscus flower mask
    –Prismacolor pencils
    –Gamsol
    –Wooden stick cotton swab applicators
    –Kleenex

    For the base of this card, I chose a piece of smooth Bazzill white cardstock cut to an A2 size. I used a piece of a Heidi Swapp mask in the shape of a hibiscus flower and leaves. I chose to use a vermillion lacquer from the Nick Bantock Collection by Ranger. For those unfamiliar with this line, the Nick Bantock lacquers are brilliant dye based, acid-free, fade resistant and embossable ink. This was my first time experimenting with them and I was impressed with strong color hues.

    After you’ve picked your masking shape, figure out your placement on the card front.

    Once your mask is firmly engaged, make sure your work surface is covered with a sheet of scrap paper to prevent ink seepage. Then begin the process of dabbing your ink pad against the card front and go for maximum saturation. The coverage doesn’t have to be complete because some bleed-through from the white surface adds an element of visual interest. To make sure that your color gets into the nooks and crannies of your mask, you can dab a Kleenex (or other tissue/applicator) on your ink pad and rub-on color into those cut-out areas. You can use the same Kleenex to rub down the back of your card to give it a lighter depth of color than the card front.


    Allow your ink to set for a couple of minutes before removing your mask and exposing the white surface we will use the Gamsol technique on.

    Prior to beginning the coloring of the image, I used a Sakura Glaze pen in black to outline the image to be colored. Not only does this define your coloring area, it creates a tactile border around your image (which is not affected by the Gamsol).

    For coloring the hibiscus flower, I chose to use a layer of two colors. Closest to the black edging of the Glaze pen I used a thin layer of Prismacolor PC928 Blush Pink. Inside of the pink, I used a thicker layer of PC1002 Yellowed Orange.


    Using the Gamsol and a 6″ wooden stick cotton swab applicator, I blended the two pencil colors to provide a differential shading on the petals of the hibiscus flower. The stamen of the hibiscus were colored in using the black Sakura Glaze pen. I freehanded a few more smaller stamen and pistles to flesh out the outgrowth. For the leaves and stalk of the flower, I used a combination of PC909 Grass Green and PC910 True Green Prismacolor pencils.

    For a final touch–and to emphasize the vintage look I was going for–I used two file boards from my Basic Grey tool set to distress some of the card surface and color. I had a bit of the vermillion lacquer smear into part of the leaves and one of the petals during the distressing. It was not intentional, but I think it adds to the vintage feel I was striving for.

    Here are a couple of closer looks at the finished design:


    Look for inspiration for your card and layout designs from the everyday world around you. You don’t have to choose a large element to be inspired by–a small piece of a design can be interpolated into a beautiful layout. Don’t be afraid to experiment with color. There is a time and place for muted colors. But, don’t shy away from exploring with bright, vivid, loud color. The world needs more color!

    Create–and keep crafting!

    Tag In A Bag–Masking

    For this particular project, I have chosen to use a tag in a bag from the Sara’s Surfaces line by Hot Off The Press (which you can buy at Paper Wishes) .

    However, it is the stamping technique that I wish to highlight here. So you can use this process on regular greeting cards, altering projects and scrapbook pages. The result is a project that looks much more complicated than it really is.

    My supplies for this project include:

    –Sara’s Surfaces Tag In A Bag
    –Colorbox Cat’s Eye Queue Pigment Ink (Rain Forest, Rich Rustics)
    –an acrylic or rubber stamp of your choice
    –plastic sheets or transparency sheets
    –ribbon

    The technique highlighted in this project is called masking. You can think of masking as the reverse of stenciling. Heidi Swapp has introduced a line of mini and large masks that work very well. However, the only thing that really limits your options for masking is your own imagination.

    You can create you own masks by using a sheet of plastic and tracing/drawing your desired design on it with a marker. Then cut around your mask. All that’s needed to make your mask stick to your project surface is a little repositionable adhesive. My Xyron 510 comes in handy for this step. I’ve found you can also use clear transparency sheets as well. As for the images, you can draw something from your mind or trace an image from coloring book or clip art image.

    For easier visuals, I have used a piece of black plastic cut out in simple leaf and branch shapes. They were run through the Xyron to put adhesive on the reverse side. Once you have prepared your masking elements we are ready to position them on your work surface. Make sure the edges of your mask are securely adhered to your project surface.

    Once you have the masking elements in place, it is simply a matter of choosing the color of ink that you wish to use on the negative space of your surface. I chose to use the Colorbox Cat’s Eye Queue Pigment stack in Rain Forest and chose Fresh Green as my color. Then you simply dab your inkpad all across your surface, avoiding stamping in an obvious pattern. You will want to leave some areas lighter and darker for visual interest.

    Continue dabbing with your inkpad until your entire masked surface has been well covered will ink.

    At this point, you will want to remove your mask material. I find you achieve better results if you remove them prior to the ink drying. You can either discard your masks or clean them and save them for another application.

    After your masks are removed, you do want to let the ink completely dry before proceding to your final embellishments. I chose a sentiment stamp from Studio G and used the black ink pad from my Colorbox Cat’s Eye Queue Rich Rustics stack. Be creative in your positioning of your sentiment.

    Once my sentiment stamp is dry, I decided to use a piece of color coordinating ribbon to loop through the tag hole. This will allow it to be used as a card pull and allow for easier access once the tag card is in its paper bag.

    After thinking about it a bit more, I decided I needed to add a little “something” to the bag envelope. I found another spool of ribbon (I love paisleys!) and cut a piece to go around the width of the bag. I used another piece to further embellish my card.

    Now, my project is completed and ready for giving.

    Have fun exploring with the masking technique and let your imagination run wild!

    Keep Crafting!