Beginning Basics

Art Stamping Beading Basics Crafting with Computers Fabric Painting Basics
Genealogy How To Set an Eyelet Paper Making Polymer Clay Basics
Scrapbooking Stamp Maintenance Stamp Technique

Art Stamping

Art stamping is the process of creating artwork with rubber stamps. It can be done on assorted mediums – fabric, metal, wood, and glass all work well with art stamping. Paper, however is the foundation from which art stamping emerged. The process of art stamping on paper as described below can be applied to most other mediums.

The first step is to select a stamp, ink the rubber image evenly, and then press the stamp firmly onto the paper. Be sure to make a clean top to bottom impression and not to sway the stamp back and forth. This will ensure that the edges are free of blurs or smudges.

To load color onto the stamp using ink pads, place the stamp on a work surface with the rubber facing up. Tap the ink pad gently onto the rubber. This technique of loading color with ink pads makes even the largest rubber stamps easy to handle. Another option is to use a brayer. First, roll the brayer onto the ink pad. Then roll the brayer over the surface of the rubber stamp from edge to edge to apply an even layer of ink.

Color can also be loaded to rubber with colored markers. The added bonus of colored markers is that you can choose specific areas of the rubber with the colors of your choice. Please note that because ink from markers dries faster than dye- or pigment-based inks from pads, you will need to moisten the ink by holding the rubber stamp to your mouth and exhaling a burst of warm breath. This will revitalize the colors. Also note that by moistening the stamp with your breath, you might get several stampings from one inking.

Aside from ink pads and colored markers, artists have used assorted substances such as acrylic paints, specialty paints, resist inks and bleach to create wonderful effects.

Magazine issues with related article(s):

  • Paper Towel Art by Debbie Neis: Somerset Studio May/June 2004
  • Playful Plastic Rubber Stamped Resin Jewelry by Sherril Kahn: Somerset Studio July/August 2003
  • Stamped Gift Boxes by Lea Everse: Somerset Studio November/December 2001

Beading Basics by David Robertson

Beads are the classic embellishment for any wardrobe. Whether as an accent built into clothing, accessories or jewelry, beads can give the finishing touch to that special look. The variety available in any good bead shop or catalog means you can make any design inspiration come to life. With just a few basic techniques that beginners can master in a short time, you can quickly add new dimensions to your wardrobe. Experienced bead artists may also find helpful tips in the following discussion on new ways to use old beads.

The best way to make beadwork easier and less time-consuming is to have a plan. Before picking up needle and bead, try brainstorming, thinking of which colors and shapes you want to work with. What overall effect are you looking for: delicately luminous for a bride, casually earthy for everyday wear, or a more showy look for evenings out? Keep your design in mind as you go bead shopping, and don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions from beadsellers–they usually have in-depth knowledge of what beads will best serve your purposes.

There are numerous tools on the market to make it easy to design beadwork, but if you enjoy drawing, get out your colored pencils (or crayons!) and sketch the beaded piece you’re imagining. Consider more designs than you actually need; you’ll find yourself getting into the creative flow and developing inspirations for future bead projects. You can keep your designs in an idea file, along with clippings from magazines, newspapers, and the Internet of other beaded projects.

One simple trick is to draw on graph paper. If you want to make 2-dimensional designs with beads (like American Indianstyle beadwork), it’s extremely helpful to use a grid framework. You can easily determine how many beads of each color you’re going to need for your project before you begin beading. The best graph paper is actually designed specifically for beaders, showing seed bead shapes in either staggered or gridded rows, just like your actual finished product. You may want to look at downloadable beadweaving graphs from Bead Dancing or in beaders’ handbooks like “Beader’s Companion” (see For More Information, below), or ask your local bead store.

Several companies offer easy-to-use computer programs for seed bead designing. Beadesigner 1.0 is a free program downloadable from the Internet (see FMI). This program is a sort of interactive graph paper; click to select a color, then click the spaces you want to apply it to; click to select a second color, and so on. Choose oval or square beads, change the colors of your design, or make it into black-andwhite. You can even magnify and shrink the image, and experiment with other options.

Bead design boards, available from any bead store, provide curved necklace-length channels of various lengths. Just lay your beads in the slot and arrange them until you have a symmetrical design of the appropriate length. (Use only part of a channel, if you want to make a bracelet.) Better boards offer multi-strand channels and inch gauges; some are quality wood, while others are durable lightweight plastic.

The supplies you need depend on the kinds of beadwork you do. Almost all beadwork will benefit from the presence of a needle threader, which drags the thread through the eye of a needle. An alternative to conventional needles which reduces eyestrain is to use a “big eye” needle, usually made out of somewhat flexible wire, with the eye running nearly the length of the needle. Big eye needles work well with many thread sizes, including some fairly thick elastic cording used with crystal beads. A hands-free magnifier also makes very small work much easier. Keep a towel over your work surface whenever you work with beads; it will catch any beads that fall. Afterwards use a “bead nabber” to pick them up.

For seed-bead work, use a fine bead thread like size O Nymo® and a size-12 beading needle. A small block of beeswax will coat your thread to keep it from fraying and tangling as you work. Size-E or Griffin silk cord with a flexible wire needle are excellent stringing materials when working with small beads, including E beads, freshwater pearls and gemstone beads under 5mm in size. A great all-purpose thread is size-FF nylon cord, which goes easily through Czech and other glass beads of many sizes.

For somewhat larger beads, use waxed linen cord, which knots and braids well, or PowerPro cord. Probably the strongest stringing materials are braided wire cables like Beadalon, Acculon, and SoftFlex. These feature 7, 19, or 49 strands of tiny wire woven together and coated in a plastic cover durability, and are suitable for even the heaviest beads such as chunks of turquoise or metal pieces. Consider natural-material cording, such as hemp twine, leather and imitation leather cord, and waxed cotton cord, for larger beads. Waxed cording can be extremely water- and weather-resistant, often a selling point when for men’s jewelry.

Crystal beads are often strung on elastic cord like StretchMagic or Gossamer Floss as bracelets, necklaces, or anklets. (Toe rings can be made by stringing faux-crystal plastic beads on a shorter length of elastic cord.) Higher quality crystals work well in fancy jewelry using strong thread with sterling or gold-filled findings. Crystals, including rhinestones, can also be sewn directly onto clothing using a strong thread like Nymo.

The two primary ways of finishing a strand of beading cord are to tie it with a good square knot, when the cord is light enough, or to crimp the cord closed, as with Beadalon cable. For the latter purpose, crimp beads or crimp tubes are used. For a permanently closed piece of jewelry, usually made with elastic cord, run both ends of your cord through the crimp, then “smash” it neatly with pliers (specialized crimping pliers do the best job) so that it holds the necklace shut.

If you prefer an openable piece, just run each end of the cord through a crimp, then back through again, leaving a small loop past the crimp; you simply add each end of a toggle or other clasp onto the two loops. Use good-quality clippers to cut your cord to the length desired.

Some of the most subtle, versatile embellishments are made with very small glass beads. Seed beads are donut-shaped and are sized by “aughts”: size 11° is “eleven aught.” The larger the number of aughts, the smaller the bead is, so a 13° seed bead is much smaller than an 8°. By choosing the right size of seed bead, a good contrast can be achieved with any other beads used. Nice touches also come from using Charlotte-cuts with a single facet on them, three-cuts with three sparkling facets, or hex cuts with six facets. Working with square-holed rocaille beads or those with copper- or silver-lined holes is another way of gently influencing the overall appearance.

E beads, usually 5° and 6°, are the next larger size of glass bead. Like seed beads, E beads are used in American Indian and other styles of bead weaving, and are available in a dazzling palette of colors. A good supplier should be able to offer you dozens of choices, including opaque, translucent, coated, matte, plated, and multicolor striped selections.

Larger glass beads are available in a much greater array of shapes. You will find crow beads (essentially a very large seed bead), spherical beads, tubes, wafers, faceted shapes, hearts, stars, shells, and leaves; pendants; spacers; and much more. Depending on the bead shape, it may be available in versions that are drilled top-tobottom, side-to-side, or kitty-corner.

Crystal beads tend to make your work look higher-quality, and are highly soughtafter elements in the jewelry market. Technology has made possible the production of over 130 high-quality colors of crystal bead, in sizes commonly ranging from 3 to 10 millimeters. Various coatings make the shine of the crystal more or less brilliant or metallic.

Beads can be made out of almost any material, each having its own unique feel and look. When designing and bead shopping, be sure to investigate the earthy look that bone, horn, and shell beads can bring to your work. Of course, you will also want to think about using timeless favorites like turquoise, coral, freshwater pearl, sterling, other metal and various semiprecious gemstone beads, all of which are available for surprisingly affordable prices from a number of suppliers.

The basic advice is to condition thin thread and cord with Thread Heaven or beeswax, making threading as easy as possible. (You can dip the end of some threads in superglue to make an instant built-in “needle end,” too.) Heavier cording won’t need conditioning, and can often be threaded through beads without using a needle.

Jewelry accents will require estimating cord lengths and the number of beads to be used. Knotting between beads, especially in a pearl necklace, is an important touch that keeps beads from rubbing and scratching each other, and from falling off if your cord breaks.

Knotting tools are available, like the Tri- Cord Knotter, which make strong, tight knot-tying faster than ever. If knotting by hand, take time to tie as close to each bead as possible. For many uses, fine chain can substitute for cord, as long as you select beads large enough to fit onto it. Consider alternatives from inexpensive ball chain to delicate precious-metal link chains.

To bead onto items of apparel, you’re likely to use embroidery needles and techniques including back, cross, and buttonhole stitches. Wax your thread! Nymo and Silamide thread are the common bead-embroidery choices, both offering a large color selection to match beads and fabric.

Another approach, which uses the same thread types or sometimes very thin (.010½) SoftFlex, is bead weaving with a long needle on a loom, to create 2-dimensional panel designs; you can then stitch these onto a garment or bag. Somewhat more freeform designs, going into three dimensions, can be achieved by bead weaving off-loom with a “sharps” or long needle. For this, use stitches like brick, peyote, ladder, or square, easily learned from expert guides like The Beader’s Companion(see For More Information, below).

As with all beading, use the thickest, strongest cord possible, remembering you’ll need to pass it through each bead as many as five times when weaving.

Don’t forget beaded fringes, which are another classic, easy way to make a good piece great; just stitch beaded loops, knotted single strands, or more complex patterns onto the edge of your bag or garment. Another reminder: Any garment with dyed gemstone beads should not be washed, as the dye may not be permanent.

One of the most exciting opportunities in beading is individualizing existing beads or buttons. The off-loom techniques mentioned above can be used to literally cover an “off the shelf” button, for example, in a pattern made of smaller beads. Similarly, weaving tiny beads around a large background (or showcase) bead can produce spectacularly artistic effects.

There’s no limit to the techniques you can bring into your workshop, such as heating faux-amber resin beads to a rich lustrous color, or carefully drilling into a large bead and gluing in head pins strung with seed beads. Even just adding a beautiful bead cap here and there in your design will help bring its personality out.

Numerous books and online resources are available to the bead artist. The following is a selection of some resources that have proven useful. The Internet, bead companies and craft stores can also be great sources of information to help you with your bead projects.

Advanced Beadwork
Ruth F. Poris
Golden Hands Press
ISBN 0-9616422-0-3

The Art & Elegance of Beadweaving
Carol Wilcox Wells
Lark Books
ISBN 1-57990-200-6

The Basics of Bead Stringing
Debbie Kanan
Borjay Press
ISBN 0-9615353-1-8

A Bead Primer
Elizabeth Harris
Bead Museum Press
ISBN 0-9618396-0-0

The Beader’s Companion
Judith Durant, Jean Campbell
Interweave Press
ISBN 1-883010-56-X

Beading with Seed Beads,
Gem Stones & Cabochons

Sadie Starr
Shooting Starr Gallery
ISBN 0-9633938-0-4

Beads: An Exploration of Bead Traditions
around the World

Janet Coles, Robert Budwig
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 0-684-83462-6

Ann Benson
Sterling Publishing Company
ISBN 0-8069-0401-1

A Beadworker’s Toolbook
Pam Preslar
Helby Import Company
ISBN 0-9650282-01

The Best Little Beading Book
Wendy Simpson Conner
Interstellar Trading and Publishing
ISBN 0-9645957-0-2

Creative Bead Weaving
Carol Wilcox Wells
Lark Books
ISBN 1-57990-080-1

Elizabeth Ward’s Step by Step Guide to
Bead Stringing
Elizabeth Ward & Company

Crafting with Computers

Computers have become great tools for creating family history art. You can use computers not only to research your family tree, but to create or reproduce graphics, photographs, documents and lettering for use in your artwork.

Many people use computers to copy their family photographs, using software to change the size, color and other features of the images for use in their work. Some print their photographs in sepia tones for a vintage look. A color photograph that’s faded or torn often can be restored using an image editing program such as Adobe Photoshop.

Computers also come in handy when creating text for art journals, scrapbook pages and other artwork. There’s a wealth of different type styles, or fonts, from old-fashioned ornate script to modern, streamlined lettering.

Entire heritage scrapbooks and journals can be produced using computer software, and they can be shared with one’s family and friends on the Web.

Many of the techniques described in Legacy articles refer to basic computer terms such as Photoshop, scanner and digital images. The following are explanations of some computer words and phrases commonly used by artists:

Adobe Photoshop: A popular software program for editing photographs and graphics. Photoshop has all kinds of tools for manipulating images, including cropping, re-sizing, rotating, drawing, erasing and colorizing. Available in most computer stores.

BMP: Acronym for bit map, an image made up of dots or pixels. The downside of BMPs: When you scale the image, that is make it larger or smaller, it typically becomes distorted.

Browser: Also known as a Web browser, this is the software application that allows you to surf the Internet and view Web pages. Most people have either Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer.

CD-ROM: Short for Compact Disc-Read Only Memory. CD-ROMs can hold a lot of information—the equivalent of about 300,000 pages of text—which makes them ideal for sharing genealogy indexes, clip art and other large files. You can’t erase or add to the information on CD-ROMs, which is why they’re called read-only.

Clip Art: Graphic images you can download or copy from the Internet or from a CD-ROM disc. If you’re not adept at drawing or painting, clip art is an easy way to illustrate your scrapbooks, journals and other crafts. Many Web sites offer free clip art (, but you may have to click through a lot of annoying advertising and pop-up windows to get to it.

Crop: To trim the unwanted parts of an image. You can do this manually, with the actual image in your hand and a pair of scissors or an X-Acto knife, or you can do it on your computer with a scanned image and an image editing program such as Adobe Photoshop or Fireworks. Either way, you’re simply cutting out what you don’t want in a photo or graphic.

Digital: An image composed of pixels or dots, the smallest units found on monitors.

Download/upload: Download means to retrieve information from another remote computer. Artists and genealogists can download clip art, fonts, documents and other data for their work. Download is sometimes confused with upload, which means to transmit such information to another remote source such as a Web site. For instance, you can upload a photo of your ancestors onto your family Web page.

DPI or Dots Per Inch: Measures the resolution of a scanner, printer, or image; the more dots (or pixels) per inch, the sharper the image.

Fonts: Experimenting with different styles of text, or fonts, can enliven your journals, scrapbook pages and other artwork. You can choose different fonts in your word processing program, order special fonts on CD-ROMs or download them off of the Internet. Some sites, such as, offer alphabets that you can download for free. With a font such as Cezanne from P22 type foundry, which mimics old-fashioned script, you can add text to your artwork even if your own handwriting looks like chicken scratch.

GIF: Short for graphic interchange format. Usually pronounced “jiff,” GIF is widely used to format images that appear on Web pages because they contain compressed data, meaning they’ll download onto your computer faster. Because GIFs allow for only 256 colors, they’re used to format illustrations rather than color photos, which require a larger palette.

HTML: Short for Hyper Text Mark-up Language, a universal code used to create Web pages. Certain characters inserted between brackets determine the style and look of the page’s text and graphics. For instance, <p> indicates a paragraph. Ink-jet printers: These have become popular tools for artists because they’re both inexpensive and handy. Ink-jet printers work by spraying ink onto a page; the resolution of the image is so good you can reproduce photographs and other family history documents for use in crafts. But beware: The inks are not always waterproof or suitable for archival pieces. You may need to purchase special inks if you’re concerned about longevity.

Internet or Net: A global network that connects millions of computers, allowing for the exchange of research and communication. The Internet has no central location; there is no there there. Rather, it’s simply a vast connection of computer networks, online services like AOL and individual user components.

JPEG, JPG: Acronym for Joint Photographic Expert Group, a widely used format for files that contain photographs and other images. Many images that you see on the Web are formatted as JPG files because the graphics are compressed—the data has been reduced to make it easier to transmit and store the files.

Pixels: Short for picture elements, which make up digital images. If you’ve ever looked at a newspaper or magazine photograph through a magnifying glass and noticed the tiny dots of color that make up the image, a similar principle applies to computers. Each pixel, or dot, in a digital image has a specific color and intensity level. The more pixels or dots per inch (dpi), the better the resolution.

Scanner: Scanners operate much the same as a photocopier, except the images are captured not on paper but in pixels on your computer screen. The images are digitized, which allows you to manipulate them in all kinds of fun ways with an image editing program such as Adobe Photoshop. You can scan a photograph, then crop it, erase unwanted elements, change a background, change the color scheme, change the size, and so on. Scanners make it easy to reproduce your original photographs and memorabilia so you can preserve the original. Just scan the image and print.

URL: Acronym for Uniform Resource Locator, the address assigned to all Web sites. A site’s address will begin with the letters http://. Example: is the URL for dMarie, an excellent resource for information about a historical period.

Web or www: Both are shorthand for the World Wide Web, which links Web pages together under one massive database of information.


Webopedia ( An online encylopedia for computer and Internet technology. Type in a word in the search field and a definition will pop up, including links to related information.

“The Genealogist’s Computer Companion” by Rhonda McClure: Explains how to turn your computer into a powerful tool for genealogy research, using simple, easy-to-understand language. Betterway Books, (800) 289-0963.

Fabric Painting Basics by Sharilyn Miller

Very few art or craft activities offer more opportunities for creative expression than painting on fabric, especially for wearable art. The textile paints formulated today are available in a wide array of brilliant colors; they’re also water-based, nontoxic and perfectly safe for even young children to use under adult supervision. And children love to paint on fabric. If you’re stumped for ideas, just bring in your kids (or borrow a neighbor’s child!) and set them loose in the studio. Soon you’ll have yards of beautiful, handpainted fabric to use in your next art-to-wear project.

You can paint on just about any textile, and experimentation with various materials is always encouraged, but here are some suggestions for selecting fabrics to paint:

For the smoothest application of paint, choose tightly woven materials. For looser applications, wetinto- wet techniques, or painted designs that don’t require precise designs, loosely woven fabrics (with warp and weft threads clearly visible) are perfectly acceptable.

Some artists prefer to paint on silk, while others favor quilter’s quality muslin or 100-percent cotton with a high thread count. Still others like to paint on velvet, rayon, polyester, and other materials. The choice is really up to you.

Try obtaining samples of different textiles in various weights and thread counts to make a swatch notebook. Mail-order fabric-supply companies will often provide these swatches free or for a nominal fee. Apply paint to the swatches and store them dry in a notebook where you can also note how much of what type of paint was applied to each swatch.

If you’re just getting started, try using 100-percent cotton fabric with a high thread count, and expand your horizons from there. And remember that many painting techniques are suitable for dark or black fabrics, as well as white.

To prepare cotton or muslin fabric, you may prewash it in hot water and dry it on the hottest setting to remove any sizing on the fabric and to pre-shrink it— or you may choose not to pre-wash at all. It’s entirely up to you.

Silks must be treated differently and it is advisable to consult an expert before pre-washing; discuss this with the storeowner where you purchased your fabric or with mail-order fabric-supply companies, which are often staffed by knowledgeable fabric artists.

The sheer number of waterbased paints suitable for fabric painting can be overwhelming to the beginning artist. There are sheer, translucent paints, opaque paints, metallic, interference and pearlescent paints, acrylic paints and paints formulated specifically for textiles. And if you can’t find textile paint in the color of your choice, you can always mix a little textile medium in any acrylic to create textile paint.

Acrylics are available in jars, tubes, and bottles; they can be mixed to create new colors or diluted with water or with acrylic or textile mediums. Applied straight to fabric they will dry stiff, so I recommend mixing in a little textile medium first to create a paint that will dry with a soft finish.

Textile paints are made specifically for fabric painting (although they can be applied to other surfaces as well). If you’re just getting started, I recommend trying textile paint. Jacquard’s Textile, Neopaque, and umiere paints are excellent choices for beginners and professionals alike, as is Dr. Ph. Martin’s ReadyTex paint.

For “on the surface” 3-dimensional techniques, applicator-tipped paints such as Tulip, Plaid and Jones Tones are fantastic.

You really don’t need lots of expensive tools or equipment for fabric painting—in a pinch you can even finger-paint! But it is helpful to have at hand a few tools for experimentation.

  • Paintbrushes: both flat and round-tip, in various sizes
  • Foam brushes: inexpensive, for smoothest application
  • Sponges: manmade and sea sponges
  • Toothbrushes: for spattering on paint
  • Plastic buckets: for rinsing out brushes and sponges as you work
  • Plastic covering: to protect the work surface
  • Apron: to protect your clothing
  • Plastic or Styrofoam plates: for disposable painter’s palettes
  • Spray bottle
  • Paper towels
  • Brayer
  • Kosher salt


Don protective clothing and/or disposable gloves and cover the work surface (and surrounding floor) with plastic. Pre-wash fabrics as needed, and fill two buckets with fresh water. Place all tools and paints nearby, ready to use. Tear the fabric into pieces or lay out yardage on a plastic-covered table.

Paint may be applied to fabric in numerous ways. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Wet the fabric with a spray bottle, spread it out on a work surface, and drop various colored paints in a random pattern for a wet-into-wet technique. Allow the painted fabric to dry naturally or speed up the process with a hair dryer.

Wet fabric with a spray bottle, apply layers of textile paint to the fabric with foam brushes or damp sponges, and sprinkle the surface with kosher salt. Allow the fabric to dry completely before brushing off the salt and ironing.

Apply lots of textile paint to wet fabric, and then cover the fabric with plastic wrap, pressing wrinkles into the plastic. Allow the fabric to dry for several days before removing the plastic wrap. On dry fabric, apply layers of textile paint with sponges. Pour out small puddles of paint onto a Styrofoam plate and dip soft sponges into each puddle before “stamping off” onto the fabric. Take care not to apply too many layers, or the fabric may stiffen.

On dry or wet fabric, apply thick textile paint with a brayer: Roll the brayer in paint until it’s quite “gloppy,” and then roll the brayer over the fabric in long strokes. Allow the fabric to dry naturally.

Fill a bucket with water, add a small amount of paint, stir, and submerge fabric for several hours or a few days. Remove the fabric, squeeze out the diluted paint, and allow the fabric to dry undisturbed in a tight ball for one week. Open the fabric ball and iron flat; note the lovely wrinkle patterns. This technique also works with strong black tea or coffee.

Acrylic paints are permanent once dry; hence the need for wearing old clothes or an apron while painting! There is no need to heat-set acrylic paint. But textile paint must be heat-set with an iron for permanence, and some manufacturers recommend waiting at least 24 hours after the paint has dried before washing the fabric.

After painting, some fabrics should be washed by hand, while others may be machine-washed. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions on paint labels for specific instructions regarding the care of handpainted fabrics.

If you covered your work surface and surrounding floor with plastic, cleanup should be a snap. Simply wipe down the plastic with a damp sponge to remove any spills, dry the plastic, and store it for later use. Discard used paper towels. Wash out all brushes and sponges with warm water and mild detergent and rinse them until the water runs clear. Store brushes flat or with the tips up. Squeeze out the moisture from your sponges. Rinse out your buckets and store them for later use.

Several excellent books on fabric painting are available. The following list is by no means comprehensive, but it will help you start building a library of resources.

Beginner’s Guide to Silk Painting
Mandy Southan
Search Press
ISBN 0-85532-802-9

A Complete Guide to Silk Painting
Suzanne Hahn
Search Press
ISBN 0-85532-718-9
Creative Batik
Rosi Robinson
Search Press
ISBN 0-85532-892-4
Creative Marbling on Fabric
Judy Simmons
Fiber Studio Press
ISBN 1-56477-256-x

The Fabric & Yarn Dyer’s Handbook
Tracy Kendall
Collins & Brown
ISBN 1-85585-879-7

Inspirational Silk Painting from Nature
Renate Henge
Search Press
ISBN 0-85532-678-6

Marbling on Fabric
Anne Chambers
Search Press
ISBN 0-85532-788-x

Painting Flowers on Silk
Mandy Southan
Search Press
ISBN 0-85532-901-7

Paint Your Own T-Shirts
Monika Neubacher-Fesser, Dieter Kohnen
Search Press
ISBN 0-85532-811-8


Who am I? Where did I come from? What were my great-great grandparents like? These universal questions have led people from all walks of life to study genealogy, the history of one’s ancestry. There are hundreds of books and Web sites that can help you fill in the blanks of your pedigree. Where to begin? Whether you’re trying to document your lineage to 16th century royalty or you simply want to know who’s who in an old photograph, the following is a road map to get you started on the right path to uncovering your past.

Planting Your Family Tree
Genealogists recommend beginning your family history search with yourself, then working back generation by generation. First, create a simple pedigree chart of your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Search for any records you or your family might have (birth, marriage, death certificates) that might provide you with locations, dates and other key information. Other valuable resources include: letters, legal documents, photographs and family Bibles, which often have the names of family members and other information written on the flyleaves.

Obtain Your Oral History
Some people overlook their most valuable genealogy resource: Their living relatives. Interviewing parents, grandparents and other older family members provides valuable clues to your ancestry and adds the kind of personal stories that can transform your genealogy from a sterile record into a compelling family history. Ask what your ancestors did for living, where they lived, where they’re buried and what they were like. Just don’t take oral history as gospel. Verify family lore through independent research to separate fact from fanciful storytelling or faulty memories.

Keep Good Records
It’s important to keep careful records that include not just the facts but sources that document where you found your information. When writing down dates, use the standard genealogy form that includes the full year, as in: 20 October 1903. Establish a storage system for your photographs and memorabilia, and organize your records, charts and notes in a binder or filing system. Computer software programs can help you organize your records.

Search Strategies
To keep your search from becoming unwieldy, focus on a branch of your family tree you’d like to investigate first. You might want to search for any persons or information that are missing among your great-grandparents. From there, some genealogists start with their paternal lineage, searching for their great-grandfather’s father, etc. Males are typically easier to track because women changed their names when they married. You can also begin with the side of the family that left the easiest paper trail to follow or a branch that’s rumored to be descendants of nobility. Perhaps you simply wish to study the lineage of a person who meant the most to you—it’s your path to choose.

Where to Go for Information

  • To the novice, the number of genealogy resources can be overwhelming. Serious searches for family members can lead anywhere from the Internet to old cemeteries. To navigate through the maze of information, find a good book for beginners, such as Emily Anne Croom’s “Unpuzzling Your Past.” Then, check out the following:
  • The Library:
    Your local library is an excellent resource for genealogists. Most libraries have a section devoted to genealogy, and some of the larger ones even have staff members to assist in your search. You can often find census records, newspapers on microfilm, lists of veterans, city directories, reference books, and more.
  • The Courthouse:
    Much of genealogy is a paper chase for birth, death, marriage and divorce records. These so-called vital records can be obtained-—for a fee--—through the state office or county courthouse where the event took place. If you need help finding records, consult “The Handybook for Genealogists” by George B. Everton. It lists the government records available through federal, state and county offices and provides contact information so you can write for copies of certificates, licenses and other documents.
  • The Internet
    The Internet has revolutionized genealogy research. You can search databases for ancestors, chat with other genealogists who might be working on a branch of your family tree, download genealogy software programs, and obtain all kinds of expert advice. Still, be wary of online data. There’s a lot of erroneous information floating around the Net. Most experts say you can’t conduct all of your research online, but you can develop leads and maybe fill in a few blanks on your pedigree. A good place to start: Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet ( It’s got thousands of categorized links to all kinds of informative sites.
  • Societies:
    Genealogical and historical societies can provide all kinds of help with your research. They can help you track down vital records and put you in touch with someone who might already be working on your family tree. You can usually find your local society through the phone book, library or Internet.
  • The Mormon Church:
    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has proven an excellent resource for genealogists because the Mormons have been amassing records from government entities, churches, and organizations for more than a century. Only a small portion of the records pertain to Mormons and their ancestors, and the collection is available to anyone interested in genealogy. The church maintains these records at its Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and copies can be obtained at the library’s Family History Centers, with locations around the world (check your phone book). You can also find a catalog of the library’s records, along with useful search information, at


Genealogy Terms
AGBI: The American Genealogical Biographical Index, a key genealogical database equivalent to 200 printed volumes that contains millions of records of persons whose names have appeared in family histories and printed genealogical records. Available online at

BGMI: The Biography & Genealogy Master Index contains information on millions of Americans profiled in “Who’s Who” publications in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Available online at

Compiled Records: Indexes of original records, such as birth and marriage certificates. While indexes can help you track down a certificate, they should not be a substitute for original documents because they’re not always reliable.

Family Group Sheet: A chart that lists an entire family, including father, mother, their parents and children.

IGI: The International Genealogical Index, a computer file produced by the Family History Library containing the names of several hundred million deceased people worldwide. The index also has some vital records (birth, marriage certificates) on people who lived from 1500 to 1885. Available on CD, microfiche or the Internet at

Pedigree chart: A chart of your direct ancestors (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.).

This is just a small sample of the many resources available to genealogists through libraries, bookstores and computers.


  •, Even non-subscribers can find leads to ancestors on this site’s searchable databases, but you will have to pay for full access to the vast amount of information on file.
  • Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet, Thousands of categorized links to genealogy sites. An excellent starting point.
  • Family Search, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Web site features searchable databases and valuable how-to tips for finding your ancestors. Includes free software you can download for creating your pedigree chart and ancestor tree.


In Print

  • “Unpuzzling Your Past: The Best-Selling Basic Guide to Genealogy” by Emily Anne Croom. Betterway Books. An excellent how-to book for beginners.
  • “The Handybook for Genealogists,” by George B. Everton. Everton Publishers. A guide to government records available through federal, state and county offices. Provides contact information so you can write for copies of certificates, licenses and other records.



  • Brother’s Keeper: A Windows genealogy program that allows you to organize your family history information and print a variety of charts and reports. Visit
  • Family Tree Maker: This CD-ROM allows you to build your family tree, make keepsake printouts, and search U.S. and international indexes and records. (800) 548-1806.


How To Set an Eyelet

Eyelets can be set on any material that is pliable enough to be punctured with a device such as a hole-punch or awl. Artists have set eyelets onto leather, metal, fabrics and most commonly onto cardstock. The process of setting an eyelet onto cardstock as described below can be applied to most other pliable mediums.

The first step is to make a hole on the cardstock. You can do this by using a hole-punch or an eyelet punch. The benefit of using an eyelet punch is that you can position the hole to appear anywhere on the cardstock. If you are using an eyelet punch, simply hold the punch on top of the cardstock and tap the end lightly with a hammer. This process should be done on a hard work surface such as a cutting board or specialized punching pad. Be certain that the hole is large enough for the eyelet to fit, but not so large that the eyelet goes completely through the hole.

These days, eyelets come in a multitude of colors, shapes, and sizes. Once you have selected the perfect eyelet, fit it into the hole and then turn the cardstock over. Next, place the eyelet setting tool into the short tubular section of the eyelet. Tap the end of the setter gently with a hammer. Note: If you are using a punching pad, it will protect the paint from chipping off the face of the eyelet. If you are not using a punching pad, you may need to place a piece of fabric between the eyelet and work surface to protect the paint from chipping off.

Paper Making

Papermaking At Home
by Arnold Grummer

Two Options for Papermakers

  • Three things are required to make paper: water, fibers, and a sieve.
  • In this discussion, the sieve is a papermaking screen supported between two halves of a handmold. The top part of the handmold determines the size and shape of the paper and is called the deckle. The whole unit-deckle, papermaking screen, and undercarriage to support the screen-is called the handmold.
  • Home papermakers can choose between pour and dip handmolds. A pour handmold's deckle has high sides, usually three or more inches. Paper is made by pouring a small amount of pulp into the mold's deckle.
  • A dip mold's deckle has shallow sides, usually less than an inch high. Paper is made by dipping the mold into three or more inches of pulp in the vat.
  • Whether using the pour or dip handmold, your success depends on how the pulp is prepared.


Supplies needed:

  • A vat (flat, five-gallon plastic tub); kitchen blender; cotton kitchen cloths or couching felts; a paper press or flat boards for pressing, or an iron for heat-pressing, cotton linters or other fibers; wastepaper; inclusions such as dried flower petals; and a handmold (dip or pour).


The Pour Method:

  • For pour molds, recycle paper that is slightly larger than the sheet you want to make. For example, to make a 5-1/2" X 8-1/2" sheet of handmade paper, recycle three quarters of an 8-1/2" X 11" sheet of wastepaper.
  • Pulp can be made from craft-paper discards, gift wrap, junk mail, or prepackaged cotton linters. Newspaper is not a good choice, although adding bits from the funny pages or torn-up colorful advertisements will add visual interest.
  • Tear the paper into small strips and put them in the blender with two cups of water. Blend at medium speed for 10-20 seconds to make your pulp. Blend the pulp in spurts, being careful not to over-blend. You should be able to see individual fibers dispersed throughout the water; longer fibers make for stronger sheets.
  • For "chunky" pulp, blend for less time than smooth pulp. Note: kitchen blenders chop rather than beat the pulp. Try adding a pinch of cotton linter to the mix, or dried flowers, herbs, tea, glitter, thread, or scraps of fabric. Experiment!
  • Assemble the handmold and place it in three or more inches of water in the vat. Pour the pulp into the deckle, and briskly agitate it with your fingers to distribute the pulp evenly.
  • Lift the mold straight out of the vat, keeping it horizontal. The water will drain, depositing fibers in an even layer on the screen. Wait until the water has ceased dripping, then remove the mold from the deckle.


The Dip Method

  • To make paper with a dip handmold, prepare the pulp by combining one 8-1/2" X 11" sheet of wastepaper with four cups of water in the blender. Blend, and pour the pulp into the vat. Continue with this formula until the pulp is three to five inches deep in the vat.
  • Dip the handmold into the vat vertically, ease it to a flat position well beneath the pulp's surface, lift and hold the handmold level, and rock it gently as the water drains. With each successive dip, your sheets of paper will get thinner and thinner.
  • After two or three dips, add pulp to the vat by processing an additional 8-1/2" X 11" sheet of wastepaper with three cups of water. Couching and Pressing Paper
  • You now have a new sheet of paper; but in a very fragile state. To strengthen the paper and make it usable, you must press out as much water as possible, then dry it.
  • Traditionalists tip the newly created sheet onto damp cloth or couching (koo-ching) material, then cover it with another damp cloth or felt. (Couching means "to lay down.") They continue couching-layering new sheets and cloths-then press the pile between two boards to squeeze out water. Others hang the paper to dry, or set it in the sun.
  • Most papermaking kits include window screen material and a sponge. Remove the deckle, lay the paper down, cover it with the window screen, and press the sponge down hard to soak up water. Continue pressing, squeezing out excess water, pressing again, until most of the water has been removed.
  • There comes a point when you simply cannot soak up any more water with the sponge, but this doesn't mean the paper is thoroughly dry.
  • Peel off the window screen, and couch the paper by picking up the papermaking screen and turning it over so the sheet side is down on the couching material. Press the back with a sponge to aid the transfer of the new sheet to the couch material.
  • Cover it with more couching material. Press all three layers with a flat press bar, a flat board, or a heavy rolling pin. Either method works fine. Press-or roll-the excess water out, and as the couching material becomes damp, replace it with dry sheets.


Drying Handmade Paper

  • Drying your paper can be done by laying it out in the sun, or by putting it under a stack of heavy books, or by using a hot iron. It is best to dry handmade paper under pressure.
  • Put the new sheet between layers of anything absorbent (cloth, thick paper towels, couch sheets, felts) and place it under a stack of books or inside a press. Replace the absorbent materials as they get wet. Your paper should be dry in 24 hours or less, depending on its thickness.
  • Ironing is the quickest drying method. Turn the iron to its highest setting, no steam. Iron right on the paper, or cover it with a thin natural-fiber cloth to avoid scorching and picking. Use a slow, steady motion.


Using Botanicals
Botanicals work best when pressed and dried. Added to the blender, they shred. Added to the pulp inside the deckle (pour method) or vat (dip method) they can remain whole. Several minutes of soaking botanicals beforehand will help integrate them into the new sheet of paper.

Dyeing and Sizing

  • Fibers dyed expensively and professionally at a paper mill are all around you. They come in the form of flyers, event programs, postcards, junk mail, and brochures printed on colored paper. Don't overlook food labels. That crumpled piece of junk mail you just threw away would make a lovely sheet of handmade paper!
  • Much sizing survives the recycling process. Get added sizing by recycling a 2" X 2" or larger piece of wax paper and adding it to the pulp. Cleanup
  • Never pour pulp or papermaking water down a drain. To dispose of waste material, do one of two things:
  • Pour method: flush it down the toilet or dispose of it outdoors.
  • Dip method: strain the leftover pulp and refrigerate it in a plastic bag, or pour it into clean milk jugs and add several drops of Wintergreen Oil from the pharmacy to inhibit spoilage; refrigerate if possible.


Papermaking is lots of fun, and easy enough for children (when supervised), so don't hesitate to give it a try. For more information, look for good papermaking books and videos at your local art & craft stores and book stores. Paper By Kids, by Arnold Grummer, is available at many libraries. It offers information on papermaking and easy directions for building your own equipment; also decorative techniques and projects.

Polymer Clay Basics by Sharilyn Miller

Polymer clay is one of the most versatile craft mediums available to the modern artist. It’s easy to work with, appropriate for all age groups (with adult supervision), available in a rainbow of hues (including a sumptuous array of metallic and pearlescent colors), and can be used to make a wide variety of art-to-wear accessories, jewelry pieces, and embellishments. Before you begin using polymer clay for the first time, there are a few things that you should know.

Polymer clays are marketed under so many different brand names—Fimo, Super Sculpey, and Premo, to name a few—and in such a wide variety of colors that choosing your clay for the first time can be a challenge.

My personal favorite is Premo, a Sculpey product, because it’s more malleable that other clays and is available in so many beautiful metallic and pearlescent colors. Some artists prefer Fimo or Fimo Soft to Premo because they like working with stiffer clay. And many clay artists start out with the economical Super Sculpey or Sculpey III.

It’s best to experiment with small packets of different brands of clay until you find one that meets your needs. Polymer clays are sold in most art & craft stores, many art-supply stores catering to fine artists, and online. To find an online source, go to and type in the keywords “polymer clay.”

Always store polymer clay in its original packaging away from direct sunlight, heat and dust. Never leave raw clay in the car on a hot day—after art-supply shopping, for instance— because if it gets warm enough inside your vehicle the clay will bake to rock hardness. Once home, you can wrap your clay in wax paper and store it in a plastic container. Beware that polymer clay reacts adversely to some plastics.

You’ll need just a few basic tools to get started: a smooth work surface (marble, Lucite, glass, Formica), a tissue blade, an oven, some shaping tools, and a rolling pin should suffice. If you work with Fimo, consider investing in a small food processor to precondition the clay (see Conditioning Polymer Clay below).

Opinions are divided over which type of oven is best for baking polymer clay. Most clay artists use an inexpensive toaster oven, but some prefer baking their clay in a convection oven. Casual users often start out using a home oven, but this practice is not recommended (see Safety Guidelines below).

Temperature regulation is critically important when baking polymer clay, and since most toaster ovens “spike” during their heating cycles it’s a good idea to invest in an accurate oven thermometer. If you’re concerned about the costs of toaster ovens and related tools, pick them up used at a yard sale or at your local thrift store.

As you become more experienced, you’ll want to invest in a used hand-crank pasta machine, measuring tools, shape cutters (like miniature cookie cutters), knives, carving and sculpting tools, drills, sandpaper, Lucite brayers, a Kemper clay gun, polishing tools, and push-molds. Many more tools and equipment options are available to you, of course. Half the fun of working with polymer clay is discovering new tools to enhance your designs.

Additional art materials you may enjoy exploring with polymer clay include gold and silver leaf, metallic foils, acrylic paints, inclusions (embossing powders, glitters, colored sand, Pearl Ex pigments, herbs), armature supplies (such as Magic Mesh, used for sculptures), beads, rubber art stamps, dental tools, needle tools, and plastic texture plates.

All types of polymer clay must be conditioned before use, but some require more work than others. The purpose of conditioning the clay is twofold: to soften it and make it more malleable (easier to work with), and to activate the PVC particles, strengthening the clay and making it less likely to crack or break after baking.

Fimo can be very hard and even crumbly, so it may have to be broken up into chunks and then chopped up in a small food processor for a few minutes before running it through a handcrank pasta machine. Softer clays can be conditioned by hand (kneading, rolling, and manipulating it like bread dough), but to speed the process, run it through a pasta machine about 20 times.

Should you accidentally over-condition your clay by too much manipulation, rendering it too soft to work or sculpt, allow it to rest for 20 minutes.

Always bake your clay in a well-ventilated room. Working without proper ventilation can give you a headache, and it may even make you feel ill.

Once the oven has been preheated to the correct temperature, place your finished projects inside on a baking sheet lined with cardstock or matboard to prevent shiny spots from developing on the clay surface. If baking a large piece, it may be necessary to prop it up and to drape a tent of aluminum foil over it to protect it from the heating element. Clay beads may be baked on a skewer.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding baking times and temperatures; generally speaking, most polymer clay projects are baked at 275° for 20-25 minutes. Baked clay can be re-baked as needed.

Once baked, polymer clay may be wet-sanded to polish the surface. Sanding with progressively finer grades of paper as you proceed is the best way to produce a nice finish. Buffing tools may also be used on baked clay. Some artists paint a waterbased varnish (matte or glossy) on the surface as well.

Baked polymer clay can be drilled with an ordinary electric drill (such as a Dremel®) if necessary to create holes for buttons or beads, or to dangle chains, fibers or charms from the piece.

Polymer clay is nontoxic, so working with it shouldn’t pose any problems for adults or supervised children. The clay must not be ingested, of course! But for ordinary crafting purposes, the Art & Craft Materials Institute has certified the clay as nontoxic and it also carries the ASTM D4236 designation, meaning that it can be handled safely by artists of all ages.

While working with raw polymer clay, take care not to rub your eyes. Wash your hands frequently and especially before eating. Tools and equipment (toaster ovens, food processors, pasta machines, knives, etc.) that come into contact with raw polymer clay must never be used to prepare food afterward, and baked clay items should not be used to prepare or serve food, either.

This advice bears repeating: Always bake polymer clay in a room with excellent ventilation. Leave at least one window open and use a fan to blow the fumes away from your work area. This is especially important when clay guilds or crafting parties get together and have two or more ovens baking clay at the same time.

It’s best to reserve a “dedicated oven” for baking polymer clay. Using your home oven is an option for very infrequent baking sessions, but you must thoroughly wash out the inside afterward with baking soda and water to remove any bakedon residue from the fumes, which will re-release when you use the oven later to bake food. Another option is to bake your clay inside a sealed baking bag (for baking turkeys), which should capture any residue released during the baking process. Discard the bag after each use.

Several excellent books on polymer clay have been published of late. The following list is by no means comprehensive, but it will help you start uilding a library of resources.

The Art of Polymer Clay
Donna Kato
Watson-Guptill Publications
ISBN 0-8230-0278-0

Foundations in Polymer Clay Design
Barbara A. McGuire
Krause Publications
ISBN 0-87341-800-x

Images on Clay
Nan Roche, Gwen Gibson, Dayle Doroshow, and Barbara A. McGuire
Design Originals
ISBN 1-57421-789-5

The Polymer Clay Techniques Book
Sue Heaser
North Light Books
ISBN 1-58180-008-8

The Weekend Crafter: Polymer Clay
Irene Semanchuk Dean
Lark Books
ISBN 1-57990-168-9


Scrapbooks have come a long way since the days when people simply taped their photographs in an album, only to find years later that their precious mementos had yellowed or disintegrated with age. Today’s scrapbooks combine photographs, special paper, inks, journaling, and all kinds of decorative details into family heritage albums that can be enjoyed by future generations. If you’re new to scrapbooking, the following tips can help you create beautiful albums that stand the test of time.

Safety First
Here’s where the science of scrapbooking enters the picture. As time has shown, certain glue, paper, and other materials that were once commonly used in albums can discolor and destroy photographs and mementos. Before you begin assembling pages, make sure your materials are scrapbook-safe.

Paper: Many scrapbooks have been ruined by the very material they’re made of—paper. Paper with a high acid content, such as newsprint or construction paper, will deteriorate and damage photographs and memorabilia. Look for paper marked acid free or archival quality. In addition, paper should be lignin-free (see glossary) to keep from turning brown and crumbling over time.

Plastic: Avoid plastic protectors and pocket pages that contain Poly Vinyl Chloride. PVC can emit acid, which discolors and damages photographs. Look for products made of Polyethylene or polyester, which often goes by the trade name Mylar®.

Adhesives: Many adhesives, including glue sticks and rubber cement, dry out and become brittle with age so your photos no longer stick to the pages. Even worse, some adhesives contain caustic chemicals. To be safe, choose adhesives labeled archival quality and permanent.

The arts and crafts industry has created all kinds of decorative papers, scissors, pens, and other scrapbook supplies. Here’s what you need to get started, plus a few extras for embellishing your pages.


  • Albums: They come in many styles and sizes, and all have their pros and cons. Some, like spiral-bound albums, make it hard or impossible to add and remove pages, which is why many scrapbookers prefer three-ring binders. Strap-hinged albums, which have plastic straps that attach to the pages, are a good choice if you like creating two-page spreads because the pages lie flat when opened. Albums with top-loading page protectors are popular for scrapbooking because they allow you to remove the paper, then re-insert it after the page is decorated. Which album you choose is mostly a matter of personal taste. Just make sure your album is archival quality.
  • Adhesive: Look for a glue or tape that’s archival quality. A good choice for beginners: double-stick photo tape or photo squares. They’re an easy, safe way to attach your pictures to pages, and you can usually remove a photo later without ruining the picture or the page.
  • Pens: Many inks, including those found in some felt-tip pens, can damage scrapbook pages. Use pens that are waterproof, permanent, and acid-free. While you need just a basic black pen to get started, manufacturers such as Zig and Sakura offer a large palette of colors.
  • Scissors: Straight-edge scissors will do the job, but there’s a great assortment of scissors with decorative edges to create scallops, zigzags, and other fancy effects. Consider investing in a paper cutter for straight cuts.
  • Mat papers: Plain and patterned cardstock that’s acid- and lignin-free can be used to mat photographs or to cut out decorative shapes, greatly enhancing your pages.



  • Corner edger: Punch-style tool for cutting decorative corners on paper and photographs.
  • Templates: Plastic or acrylic sheets with cut-out shapes, allowing you to trace circles, ovals, and other patterns and cut them out of cardstock. Also used for cropping photographs.
  • Die cuts: Paper cutouts that come in assorted shapes, colors, and sizes. Readymade die cuts are sold individually or in themed packets such as hearts and cupids for Valentine’s. You can also make them yourself using a die cut machine, available in many craft and paper stores
  • Punches: Tools used to punch out hearts, stars, snowflakes, and other small shapes out of paper to decorate pages.
  • Stickers: Useful for decorating pages, but make sure the paper, adhesive and ink used to make them are archival quality.


Tips for Layouts
If you’re new to scrapbooking, start with a simple page layout. It’s often best to select one photo to enlarge and serve as a focal point for the page rather than have a group of smaller, same-sized photos competing for attention.

If necessary crop (cut) photos, removing distracting elements (only crop color-copied photographs to preserve your originals and never crop Polaroids; they can release a corrosive chemical). Varying the shapes and sizes of photos adds interest to the page; use templates to crop photos in a perfect circle, oval, etc.

Mat photos on plain or patterned paper that complements the pictures. Arrange photos on your page and attach with an archival-quality adhesive. Add decorative elements such as rubber stamps, stickers, die-cuts, and punches that illustrate your theme.

Don’t overload the page with imagery; leave “white space” for journaling and lettering. Whenever possible, write down names, dates, locations, and details about a person or event featured in a photograph. Remember, you’re making something you hope will be passed down to your descendants long after you’re around to tell the story.

Scrapbook Terms
Acid-free: Paper that is labeled acid-free has a level of 7.0 or higher on the pH scale, which measures acidity from factors of 0 to 14. Acid causes paper to slowly deteriorate and damages photographs and memorabilia, so it’s important that all materials used in scrapbooks be acid-free.

Archival quality: Used to indicate paper and other materials that won’t disintegrate or discolor over time, although it’s not a technical term.

Buffering: The manufacturing process of adding calcium carbonate or other buffering agents to paper to neutralize any acids that may form later. Not endorsed by all scrapbooking experts; some believe buffering can harm color photos.

Journaling: Your scrapbook’s text or narrative that tells the story behind the photographs. Names, dates, and locations are important. Journaling techniques range from simple hand-lettering or stenciling to fine calligraphy. Computers can also be used to create text.

Lignin-free: Lignin is the stuff that binds wood cells together. Paper high in lignin, notably newsprint and construction paper, turns yellow and disintegrates . Paper used for scrapbooks should be lignin-free.

Matting: Framing a photo with paper so that it stands out on the page. Adhere photo to paper, then cut 1/8½ to 1/2½ from the edges using straight-edged or deckle-edged scissors to create a border.

pH: A measurement of acidity and alkalinity on a scale of 0 to 14. For paper to be labeled acid-free, it must measure at least 7. The higher the number, the lower the acid content.

Photo-safe: While products sold as photo-safe are supposed to keep from damaging photos, some scrapbook experts say the term has been misused by companies that have used the label on products that can actually harm photos. Archival quality or acid-free are generally more reliable descriptions. If in doubt about a product, contact the manufacturer.

All kinds of how-to books and Web sites exist for scrapbook beginners. Here are a few of our favorite picks:


  • Graceful Bee: A thorough and highly informative guide to scrapbooking for “newbees.” Address:
  • Learn 2 Scrapbook: Lots of great information for beginners, including great tips for protecting your scrapbook from high heat and humidity. Address:


In print

  • “Making Scrapbooks” by Vanessa-Ann. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. (800) 367-9692.
  • “Scrapbook Storytelling” by Joanna Campbell Slan. The Elaine Floyd Group. (314) 353-6100.
  • “New Ideas for Crafting Heritage Albums” by Bev Kirschner Braun. Betterway Books. (800) 289-0963.


Stamp Maintenance

With care, your stamps will last for years. Sunlight is an art stamp's worst enemy. In a very short time sunlight will dry out and crack the rubber, rendering it incapable of absorbing ink. Store your rubber stamps, image-side down, in a cool, dark place. To prolong their wear, clean your stamps after each impression. The easiest way is to moisten a paper towel with a very weak mixture of water and stamp cleaner or household window cleaner, then pat your stamp onto the paper towel to remove the ink. Pat again on a clean, dry paper towel. Some stamp pros use commercial baby wipes instead. The cleansing agent is not only gentle to the rubber, but the moisturizers help keep it supple.

Stamp Technique

Colored pencils and Markers
Once your stamped image has dried on the paper, use colored pencils and markers to flesh it out. Stamp with waterproof ink if you are going to color the image in later with markers.

Embossing is a technique used to raise an image above the printing surface. While there are many embossing effects, the most commonly used technique for stamp work is called thermal (heat) embossing. Thermal embossing requires an embossing agent, usually a powder, which is heated with an embossing gun that blows very hot air out of a pointed nozzle.

  • To emboss, first stamp your image onto the surface using embossing or pigment ink. (Watercolors or color markers won't work.) Sprinkle embossing powder over the inked image, covering it completely while the ink is still damp. Shake off the excess embossing powder and save it for later. Turn on your embossing gun, let it heat up for a few seconds, and hold it a few inches above the powdered image until you see it melt.
  • When finished, your stamped image will have a raised, dimensional surface. There are many embossing powders available. Depending upon the type you use, the image will be shiny or matte, with glitter or iridescence. Experiment!


Basic masking allows you to stamp several images over each other without marring the previously stamped images. The process is simple, but the resulting illustration can be amazingly detailed.

  • First, stamp the image you want to appear in the foreground of your illustration. Stamp that same image on another piece of paper. Cut out this stamped image just inside the outer lines.
  • Place this "mask" over the original stamped image on your project. Select your background stamp image, then ink and stamp over this masked image. Use a stamp positioner, if desired. You need't worry about ruining the foreground image because it is covered with your mask.


This is a tool that produces a type of airbrush effect. Lock the color marker of your choice into the blitzer holder. Be sure to use a new, well-inked color marker for the best results. With a quick squeeze, pump the bulb of the blitzer. Air is forced through the tip of the marker, blowing out a mist of color.

A brayer is like a small rubber paint roller. Depending on how you ink the brayer, you can achieve varying results including a wash of color, borders, edges, repetitive patterns, and more. Simply roll the brayer over your ink pad, using a roll-and-lift motion. (A back-and-forth motion will ink the same spot on the brayer.) Roll the brayer onto your project as desired. Ink specific areas, lines, or patterns on the brayer with color markers, too.

Stampers can achieve dimension in their projects by stamping an image, cutting it out and then layering it on top of their work using a "spacer" of foam tape or accordion-folded paper strips to raise the image from the background.


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