Tag Archives: ATCs

Topcoats…does it matter which one?

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I like my ATCs and, especially my Inchies, to look finished. Often I will use traditional Mod Podge or even glossy Mod Podge, but sometimes I need part of the ATC to really be highlighted. That is when I choose to use one of the thicker, glassy topcoat adhesives. I had started crafting with Diamond Glaze, and really like it, but I have to order it online as it is not available in my local stores. Some others are more readily available, so I decided to test three to see if they truly differ.

We can start with Diamond Glaze. I always order it online from Amazon. It’s usually around $7.00, and I order it when I’m getting other items so that it will qualify for free shipping. It goes on in a way that is manageable. It does tend to have bubbles if you are not careful and squeezing very slowly. It takes several hours to dry.

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The next one I used is Glossy Accents. I ordered it online from a store that sells ATC supplies. It was about the same price as the Diamond Glaze. This product goes on thicker, and is made by Ranger, which we all know and love. It seems to have the fastest drying time of the three, and fewer large bubbles than the DG; however it does have more tiny bubbles. They are more challenging to drag to the edge because the GA is so thick.

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The last product is made by Mod Podge. It is readily available in most craft stores. I bought mine locally for around $6.00. This one comes out very quickly, so be ready. It is thinner, so it tends to pour out rather than be squeezed. This also means it seems to have fewer bubbles than the others, but it does have the longest drying time. The package suggests 24 hours, which can be challenging for those of us who are impatient artists!

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This is how they looked when I first applied them.

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So the real test is in the finished product. I applied a square of each to see how they look when dry. I accidentally smudged the one on the left before it had dried completely, so it looks a little thinner. Otherwise the finishes are all nearly identical. The DG seems to darken the surface of the paper more than the others, though. If your paper is porous, you may want to keep that in mind.

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In terms of your finished project, it does not seem to matter which you choose. The selection comes in its ease of use, drying time and availability…and personal preference! All in all, these are each a great product that provides a resin-like hard, glassy surface without mixing any chemicals. I hope you have found this product test to be helpful!

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Embossing powders

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I’ve been playing more and more with embossing powders. The first I purchased was black, and it took some practice to get used to it. Then I bought some metallics, and I started picking up any jars that were on clearance…which led me to my all-time favorite: the clear chunky embossing powder. I’ll save that for the end.

So, for beginners, what am I talking about? Embossing powders are like tiny jars of fine, powdery plastic that can stick to a gluey or wet image. When heated, the powder melts unto a shiny plastic design. Most people use them on rubber stamped images, but you can cover entire cards, the edges, or images you draw. The powder will come in a small jar.

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To make a sticky surface, you can use regular a regular inkpad. I often do this if I am embossing in the same color as the ink (especially black). But if you are using a clear powder or something where you don’t want ink under it, you can buy pads that are just for glue. I learned this the hard way: there is a reason so many crafters talk about Versamark pads. It’s because they are awesome. The others just don’t stick as well.

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You can also get a Versamark pen for drawing an image to emboss. They are well worth the investment.

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On this ATC, I used the pen to draw waves, then used clear embossing. I added alcohol inks over it, but the embossed area acted as a relief by not accepting the ink:

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Another lesson I learned: don’t use dirty stamps. The ink will transfer to your pad and you will no longer be stamping clear. I keep baby wipes on hand and a tiny bottle of stamp cleaner. I try to remember to wipe a stamp with a baby wipe as soon as I’m finished, but if I forget I can squirt some cleaner on to remove dried ink.

So, stamp your image, then pour the powder over it. Don’t be stingy, dump it on. Some crafters keep their powders in large containers and spoon it over. I may end up that route for clear powder, but for my colors I just do it over a blank sheet of paper. I pick up the item, and pour the excess onto the paper. I tap the edges and give it a thump on the back to remove the loose powder. If powder is sticking somewhere I don’t want it, I keep a small dry paintbrush on hand to brush it away. I set the ATC on a heat resistant mat, bend my big sheet of paper into a funnel and carefully pour the excess powder back into the jar.

Then I grab my heat gun, warm it a bit, and start melting the powder. You can usually tell when it’s done because it gets lighter and shiny, unless it’s a puffy or matte type. Easy peasy permanent embellishment.

Now, I promised to tell you about the chunky clear embossing powder. It is great for covering an entire card if you want it to appear to have water droplets or be under water, as I have done on this ATC:

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The more powder, the thicker and more “underwater” it appears. If you only want water droplets, this is where the cheaper glue pads are helpful. I use those and smash them randomly over the ATC, then pour on the powder. Not as much sticks as it would with the Versamark, and the air from the heat gun blows some off, too. Then you end up with water droplets, as I have on this ATC:

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I hope this helps to take away some of the fear of using embossing powders, and frees you to experiment!

Friday Recap

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It wasn’t a super busy week in my mailbox, but there are a few new ATCs I received that I can share with you.

I have been joining several swaps involving the use of cancelled postage stamps. This first one was for using a stamp as the head of a person. I received this card from Sherri in Oregon.

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These next two are from Tara Clark and they involve transportation.

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The next cute little character came from Christy Turner. She drew her favorite cartoon character, Courage the Dog.

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And, all the way from Australia, my friend Sharon sent this cute little ATC for a nursery rhyme swap. Can you guess which rhyme?

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You can see from these cards the wide assortment of styles and techniques that artists use to create ATCs. Hand drawn, collages, mixed media…whatever works to convey the message of the artist!