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Using Thickers as Masks with Watercolors​:: A Scrapbooking Tutorial by Carson Riutta

using thickers as masks with watercolours:: a scrapbooking tutorial by carson riutta @

I’ve been playing around with my Thickers and my watercolors as of late and I want to share my new favorite technique with you all today. I absolutely love combining watercolors with my Project Life and I’ve found a way to make filler and journal cards using Thickers as masks with my paints. The concept is simple. Place your Thickers firmly on white cardstock and paint around them with your watercolors. The possibilities are truly endless.

For this you shall need, watercolor paper cut to PL sizes (I love mixed media paper for this), watercolors and a palette, brushes, Thickers (an assortment of sizes and fonts), water, paper towels and washi tape or painters tape.

using thickers as masks with watercolours:: a scrapbooking tutorial by carson riutta @

Let’s begin by designing your cards and placing your Thickers. Herein lies the beauty of this, you can say anything you want! Go ahead, get silly, curse a bit if you must, customize your cards to your heart’s content. Don’t pay any attention to colors at this point, the Thickers won’t be on the final product, remember we’re simply using them as masks. You’ll want to focus on font combinations and the graphic look of the words, letters and numbers. They aren’t going to look like much at this point, but I promise it gets so much better.

using thickers as masks with watercolours:: a scrapbooking tutorial by carson riutta @

Now you want to get your watercolors set up and your colors mixed. Once you start applying the paint, you’ll want to move fast so it’s best to have your colors ready to go. Pick your brush and start painting. This is where things get really fun. You can be painterly with splashes and splatter…

using thickers as masks with watercolours:: a scrapbooking tutorial by carson riutta @

…or you can keep things very linear by doing some further masking with washi tape.

There are a couple important things to remember at this stage:

1. The more saturated your colors, the more the words will pop. Start strong with your colors, they lighten as they dry.

2. Apply a lot of paint right up along the edges of your Thickers. You want that defined edge and you won’t accomplish that without really jamming your brush into the letter’s edges. Also, watch for bubbles that may form along the edge. These will result in a white spot, so pop ‘em if you see ‘em.

3. You can remove excess water and paint by drying your brush on the paper towel and placing it gently onto spots where too much water has collected. If you leave too much water on your paper you’ll achieve the “bloom” look.

4. Let your cards dry completely! This is a very important step and one that almost none of you will follow, at least I never can, but trust me, you’ll have much better results if you do.

using thickers as masks with watercolours:: a scrapbooking tutorial by carson riutta @

Once your cards are dry, peel off your Thickers and marvel at your creations! At this point, depending on your PL style, you can use the cards as they are, add a few more layers of watercolor or embellish with stamps, washi, enamel dots, etc. You name it!

This technique is perfect for all kinds of papercrafting. I’ve used it in my PL album, but it would also be perfect for a layout background or a card front. Make it your own! Thank you so much for reading today, it was truly a pleasure crafting with you.

Carson Riutta is one crafty lady! She is a card-maker, a Project Lifer and most recently an art Journaler. She has been crafting with a vengeance since she was introduced to the wonderful world of paper crafts in 2008 when she quit her job as an environmental scientist and decided to develop the other side of her brain. You can see her latest endeavours on her blog Pine & Plum and her past creations over at her Studio Calico gallery. She spends her days running after her two littles, taking too many Instagram photos, and perpetually organising her craft room… Occasionally she does the dishes.

The Shimelle collection from American Crafts is now available at...

shimelle collection :: scrapbooking supplies by american crafts
I just wanted to keep a post with links to where you can purchase the Shimelle collection. I’ll update this as it reaches additional stores. If you know of a store with stock on hand that is not listed, feel free to let me know. Thanks!

First to have it ready to ship seems to be Blue Moon Scrapbooking.*

There are also four coordinating cut files available from the Silhouette Online store.

As stock arrives elsewhere, I’ll add those links! Have a great week.

*Stockists with an asterisk are affiliate links. Your purchase from these sites helps support, including payment for all our guest artists. For more about what affiliate links do for this site, see the last paragraph in this post. Thanks for your support!

Another week in the Project Life Baby Book

project life baby scrapbook by shimelle laine @
Keeping with that idea of choosing two colours per week for Wonder Boy’s album, week three is blue and yellow. I started with the Dreamy collection from WRMK, which I think may be exclusive to Target. I picked it up there when I was at CHA and searching online, I don’t seem to see it in stock at any specialist scrapbook stores. It caught my eye because the colours weren’t particularly girly, but it wasn’t the standard baby blue either. Not that it’s baby themed in anyway, but it just seemed like a versatile set with a different colour scheme to my usual.

project life baby scrapbook by shimelle laine @
I knew when it came to scrapping this week, I would want to beat myself up about the photos, but I think I waited long enough to just have a bit of perspective about it. By this point in Wonder Boy’s life, he had plenty of energy, and I was trying to keep up with him but I was nowhere near back to health. I think I was only just starting to process what had happened, because although I knew our labour experience looked rather scary on paper, it felt relatively calm and collected. Just getting from one hour to the next kept me from realising how much strength I had really lost, and it just caught up with me. The evidence is how someone who photographs seemingly everything took remarkably few photos in this third week of Wonder Boy’s life. These things happen! This resulted in a week wherein the entire right side is just from the weekend, and indeed all but one photo there is from Saturday. As that was his first big night out, I think that really worked out okay in the space, and this week can just be a reminder to me that I’d like to take a few more shots of the everyday too.

project life baby scrapbook by shimelle laine @
That divided photo was the result of some tinkering with the Fuzel app on the iPhone. It has all sorts of templates (some plain squares and rectangles, some filled with fancier shapes) so I just picked one and filled it with my photos. To get the split image effect, I needed three copies of the photo in my library, so I edited it slightly to have a different colour cast to each section of the image. I’m not sure it’s a look I would use as a highlighted photo on a 12×12 page, but with so many photos going into this album, I like the idea of worrying a bit less and giving new things a whirl. The white text on the images on the right hand side was also done in the Fuzel app, under the ‘stickers’ tab.

Thanks for taking a look!

My first project with the Shimelle collection!

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @
The situation was incredibly surreal. Wonder Boy was sound asleep in bed, which was surreal enough, and I was staring at a desk full of papers, embellishments, and tools with my own name on them. Exactly where does one start in this scenario? I figured I had to just start cutting paper or I might stand there paralysed by fear, and I know that is never a wise decision in those short windows of time in which a baby sleeps contently!

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @
And so, I’ve done it: one completed scrapbook page to get me started using my own supplies! Nearly everything here is from my collection, with the exception of three aqua enamel dots, Mister Huey’s green mist and gold Color Shine mist. There are five patterned papers (one cut-apart and one branding strip), some of the die-cuts and stickers, three designs from the stamp set, glitter hearts from the rub-ons, the ‘lovely’ steel die, and all three lettering options – two kinds of gold Thickers plus a small tile alphabet in grey.

I know Wonder Boy has a Project Life album and then I go and scrap him on 12×12 pages. I promise there is method to my madness: the Project Life album is a baby book made for him; the 12×12 pages are for my chronological albums. I would call those family albums but I make them for me, most of all. When others enjoy looking at them, that’s a definite bonus, but I create them for my own wellbeing first and foremost. Plus I don’t like choosing one extreme or the other. Having both album options keeps me happy, no matter how much time I have or what mood I’m in. Sometimes more is more, right?

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @
It’s been gloriously sunny, which is lovely but does produce some rather extreme shadows!

To answer a couple product questions, the collection is shipping to stores imminently, and when it arrives I will post links here to a variety of places where you can purchase what you like. (Thanks so much to anyone considering a purchase!)

I’m looking forward to making more with these now that I’m past the fear factor of it all! And even more excited to see what you make with it. Cannot wait for that!

Return to the Collection :: Sign up now!

Return to the Collection :: an online scrapbooking class @
In 2012, I taught one of the sessions for True Scrap 3, and my contribution was a forty minute video workshop entitled The Perfect Collection. The idea was to take a collection pack of patterned papers and use it until it was all gone, creating a stack of layouts that stretched that paper investment to lots of scrapbooking! That workshop remains available, but it is time to return to that idea with something new.

Return to the Collection is a new workshop here at Earlier this year, it was open for Early Bird Registration, but it is now open to all and will remain available. Unlike many of my workshops which are PDF based but with some accompanying videos, this one is video accompanied by notes. Those of you who prefer to watch will find plenty of new material here – none of the video in this workshop has been shared in any other class nor on the blog – it is all exclusive to the workshop. There are also some printable notes to help (and so you can have still shots of the completed layouts) but these notes support the videos rather than the other way around.

Return to the Collection showcases six layouts from start to finish, using one collection pack – the Wild & Free collection from Glitz Design – but instead of the limited embellishment focus of The Perfect Collection, this time the pages feature a more embellished style and a range of techniques.

…Examples include both single and double page layouts and a variety of numbers and sizes of the photographs. My pages are all 12×12 (making a 24×12 double page) but you could adapt the ideas to other page sizes if you prefer.
…Techniques and design ideas are easily adapted to the collection of your choice. You’re welcome to follow along with Wild & Free, but my aim is to give you the confidence to use these tips with the papers you love. In fact, many of the early bird participants reported that Wild & Free was really not their style, but they were still able to apply the strategies to papers they loved. That’s exactly what I hoped for, since my goal is always to help you find things that will work in your own way so you find some creative independence rather than just duplicating any particular project.
…The design process for each layout includes building and embellishing, with all of that explained on video, including my reasons behind each choice. I do not teach in a ‘glue this here and stamp that there’ fashion, and always value the ‘why’ more than the ‘do’ in sharing my scrapbooking process.
…The page designs can be used together for a cohesive series of pages or separately across a variety of photos and albums – whatever suits your needs best!

Once you purchase the class, you’ll receive access within 24 hours, with details sent to you by email. (If you don’t receive a message within 24 hours, check your spam folder just in case, then get in touch so I can help!) classes are accessed via a forum, so if you’ve taken a class before, this will be added to your account. If it’s your first class, you’ll also receive login details for your new account. When the class is live, you will have access to everything all at once – it’s not a daily email class. Like all classes, you’ll have permanent access to all the materials so there is no rush to work through the videos. You can view them any time you like.

Choose your currency and click to sign up for the class. You can pay by credit/debit card or by logging into your PayPal account. The email address on the payment is where your registration will be sent. If that email address is not correct (or if you want to give the class to a friend as a gift), then leave a note in the ‘notes to seller’ section with the correct email address. If you accidentally forget that step or have any other problems, email me. You’ll receive a PayPal email receipt when your payment has been made, then class access within 24 hours.

Questions and Answers
Do I need to take The Perfect Collection first?
No, it’s not a requirement. There are a few references in the dialogue of the class, but they are simple enough to understand without having taken the class. If you prefer more embellished styles, The Perfect Collection may not be the best class for you – it is more aimed at stretching a collection page to many layouts without having to sacrifice colour and pattern. But of course you are welcome to take both! The Perfect Collection is still available here.

Do I have to have the same collection pack for the workshop to make sense?
No, not at all. The papers are all referenced with explanations and descriptions that make it easy to apply the same tips to any paper collection of your choice.

What other supplies are you using in this workshop?
For the embellishment, you’ll see many little things from different manufacturers and collections. The idea is to start with a collection pack of papers, but not to feel you have to then buy every pack of embellishments in the line. Instead, pick from your existing stash to find frames, die-cuts, stickers, brads, and stamps to create unique combinations. You don’t need to use the same exact products as in the video. For example, there is a fabric-covered brad by Cosmo Cricket on one page. You wouldn’t need that pack of brads specifically. You might have fabric-covered brads in your stash, and if so it’s easy to select one that will work. If not, that’s still fine – use a plain or epoxy brad. No brads? No problem – substitute an item that is of a similar shape and size – like a button or a maybe a flair badge. This way you are free to use what you love and what you have on hand, while at the same time learning to embellish on your own so you can add as much or as little as you like without needing to keep looking back at a reference point once you have the hang of it. That’s the goal!

Any other questions, please feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. Thanks so much!

Introducing... the Shimelle collection from American Crafts

shimelle papercraft collection by american crafts @
I know it’s been ages since we first mentioned it, but today I’m thrilled to finally show you my debut paper crafting collection for American Crafts, which hits stores this month! Here’s a look at what just hit my desk.

embellishments from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @
Embellishments include wood veneer pieces, glittery rub-ons, and a pack filled with paper die-cuts.

wood veneer embellishments from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @
The wood veneer includes four heart designs, so you have enough for a visual triangle on your page without needing multiple packs.

die cuts from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @

die cuts from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @
And so many die-cuts! Some have gold foil and some are embossed.

texture on die cuts from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @
I’m hoping you can see the embossed texture here!

transparencies from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @
There are two sets of transparent overlays. The big set is seriously big! They have the holes in the side like a page protector so you just pop them into an album and the next page shows through. They can be used plain or with extra embellishment on top. The smaller set has 4×6 and 4×4 overlays to go over photos, including colour, white, and gold foil designs.

stickers from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @
There are three sets of stickers – printed cork, a small pack with mini letters + words and phrases, and the eight page book of stickers, which again has gold in the mix. Still keeping those page design tricks in mind – there cameras and three hearts on the cork, and the small letter tiles match the numbers on the clock die-cuts.

thickers letter stickers from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @
And two packs of Thickers letter stickers – one in gold glitter on foam and the other is gold foil on chipboard circles.

patterned papers from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @

patterned papers from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @

patterned papers from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @

patterned papers from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @

patterned papers from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @

patterned papers from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @
Plenty of patterned paper, of course! I wanted colours that could seem bold and muted at the same time, and shades of the same colour so there is red but also multiple shades of pink, turquoise, and orange.

calendar paper from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @
Because you might otherwise miss it – the back of the aqua paper with words and hearts has this calendar journaling print!

cut apart papers from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @
There are four cut-apart papers: 4×6 blocks, 4×4 squares, 3×4 cards, and a ticket and tag print with a variety of sizes.

stamps from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @
The clear stamp set includes the globe and camera, but also two texture stamps – one for corners and one for layering under words. The date stamp has months in the middle, like 01 JUL 2014, for example.

tools from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @
Aside from the roller date stamp, there is also a set of metal dies and a woodgrain embossing folder.

card stock cut with dies from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @
I gave the dies a run this morning and they came out like this with my Big Shot and kraft card stock. Still a bit surreal to see my handwriting as a die!

adhesives from the Shimelle collection by American Crafts @
And one last little addition: adhesives of all things! The roller is a narrow adhesive, perfect for small pieces, and the pop dots are half the height of the standard AC dots, so you can vary the dimension in your layering or use them in a pocket where the thick dots might be cumbersome. Plus, yes: a tape dispenser that looks like a camera for your favourite wash. Because why not?

All of this ships to stores in mid-July, and I’ll be sharing projects here that I’m making as well as the AC design team! Thanks so much for taking a look! Take a look at the American Crafts blog for more images and the chance to win the collection!

Starting a baby album with Project Life

starting a baby album with project life @
Over the past few months, you may have seen pages from my ’40 weeks’ album documenting my pregnancy. It used a format of one 12×12 page opposite a divided page protector, and some weeks are completed and other weeks are works in progress. But Wonder Boy is getting bigger every day so it is high time I got started on a book all his own, and for that I’m using Project Life and an all-divided-page-protector format.

Several years ago I led a project called Document:2010 that was not far from the concept you often see in Project Life albums now – it was a way to document the everyday of life for a full year. It started brilliantly but went pear-shaped for me when 2010 proved to be a very challenging year. So many sad, earth-shattering-to-me things happened in 2010. If you ask me about the hardest parts of my life, I will tell you just surviving seventh grade and 2010 are in my biggest accomplishments. I wouldn’t want an album retelling the daily struggles of seventh grade and by midway through the year, I didn’t want a permanent record of 2010 either. It put me off the idea of any sort of year-long documentation project, because stopping that album in 2010 was good for my sanity but also made me feel like a failure. Making one page at a time let me pick the things I wanted to scrapbook without any obligation to a certain time. I could leave out the bad and the sad and focus on the happy, or I could come back and write extended entries working through those life challenges on the days when I felt it was helpful.

But all that said, the one thing that has always struck me in looking at Project Life albums from a variety of scrapbookers is how amazing that format would be for a baby book, when you feel like you can basically see them getting bigger if you concentrate on not blinking. So I knew I wanted that format, but the caveats I am setting myself are there is no obligation to be working on last week this week or anything sort of ‘on time’ or ‘caught up’ notion and that I can stop this album at any point that feels right. It does not need to be exactly one year of documentation. It can be more or less, and both are fine.

All that said, I am having to make some changes to how I work with a tiny baby in the house! Gone are the days when I could spend all day scrapping with no interruptions, so I’ve found a few things that are helping me with this project so far. I’m sure there will be more tricks I’ll find over the coming months, but these are the things that made a big difference to me from the beginning.

starting a baby album with project life @
Finding a dedicated place to work on just this project. Aside from the video below, I am not working on this project in my usual space. I cleared a countertop that usually held tools like my die cutter and arranged it so I can leave the full 12×12 album open on the top all the time. This way there is no desk clearing or finding things to give me a road block. I can just walk there, add a few words, and walk away again without worry.

I don’t have a huge amount of space to work with, so this did take some compromise and I still have a few things I need to rearrange elsewhere to get it to its best. I am very lucky to have a room for all this, but it is not huge and it holds a great deal, and I try very hard to stick to our household rule of ‘scrapbooking stays in the scrapbooking room’ for all our sanity.

starting a baby album with project life @
Labelling the weeks with dates on the page protectors. This was key to me because I’m working at a delay. When I print a photo, I want to put it straight into the right week, even if I’m not going to embellish that week just now. I’ve always found I’m better at getting my pages straight into albums if I put the page protectors in from the moment I take the plastic off the album. So this is filled with Project Life Design A page protectors, and then I added the dates and week numbers with post-it notes so everything is easy to find and I don’t need to repeat that job each time.

starting a baby album with project life @
Keeping certain supplies within reach. I’ve selected a few things I’ll be using on every spread in the album, including the Pebbles rolling stamp, a date stamp, and a ‘currents’ stamp that is handy for journaling cards. Instead of putting them away, I’ve given them a spot on that counter top so I can work quickly. (Admittedly this tactic may work great now with a tiny baby and may be a terrible idea for a five year old. So it goes!) Other supplies I use often are here too, including having an extra set of scissors, adhesive roller, and journaling pens so I’m not transferring them from my main desk each time. Having fewer things nearby also helps me make decisions quicker, as I’m not all that tempted to dig in a basket for five minutes looking for something that’s perfect when I have something that will do just fine right in front of me. As a result, you’ll probably see less product variety in this album, but I think that will add to the consistency in style when it has plenty of pages with so much going on.

starting a baby album with project life @
Making some design choices. I’ve selected the same page protectors for the whole album (though I may use smaller insert pages for particularly busy weeks). I’m printing many of the photos with a wireless Canon Selphy CP910 printer, which I must admit I am currently leaving on all the time so when Wonder Boy falls asleep in my lap, I can use my phone to select and print the images without moving. I also decided after the experience from the 40 Weeks album that I’m (gasp) not really all that keen on the rounded corners of the Project Life brand cards. I love the designs on the cards themselves, but I prefer the look in the pockets of everything with clean, square corners. I decided I would use patterned paper instead of the Project Life cards for the base layer of everything, and when I do use the Project Life cards, it will be as a layer, so you’ll see in this first example that the rounded corners exist within the card but the outside edges of each pocket have square corners. I also decided from the beginning that I will aim for four 4×6 landscape images with white borders on each double page spread and use an Amy Tangerine label stamp to caption each of those. That’s four pockets done straight away each week, and that helps!

project life scrapbook pages by shimelle laine @
This is week two in Wonder Boy’s album, and I already had to confront the ‘do I scrapbook the sad stuff’ because the first couple weeks here were hard mentally and physically. (Every baby has something that just wrenches your heart, right?) But I actually found it quite helpful to write about in this case, and it let me see the bigger picture that all that heartache and time going back and forth to the hospital was worth it, and I’ll never forget the amazing feeling of finally being set free from all that and sent home knowing we didn’t have another day of tests when we woke up the next morning. Hence that ‘finally’ card there on the far right!

Viewing on a blog reader? Click through to the full post to watch the video!

Here’s a look at how this double page spread came together, including further notes on how I’m making this work by scrapping in just tiny amounts of time rather than doing everything at once!

(And yes, this video is on my own YouTube channel!)

Now… I know many of you have FAR more experience in making your albums work when your hands are full! I’d love to hear from you. What are your secrets to making projects like this work with your unique and overfilled schedule?

Last day to submit your scrapbook pages

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @

Dusting the stress along with the cobwebs this Monday morning and moving forward after last week’s news. It was just ten days ago that I posted a weekend of scrapbooking challenges, and yet it seems like another world! So I’ve taken some time to get back to those projects, and the challenges are open for your submissions until today. (The link up tool at the end of each post tells you how much time is left, so that’s the easiest way to see it in your timezone!)

scrapbook page sketch @
This sketch was the post that kicked off those three days of challenges, with Corrie Jones supplying the first interpretation. Find that post here to share your page inspired by this sketch.

I realise I’ve always encouraged my readers to use the gallery at Two Peas as a place to upload your pages, and that’s all a little awkward as I write this. I haven’t come close to fully exploring the options for other places to share your work. There are page galleries at many scrapbooking sites, including and Studio Calico. You can upload and share via your own blog or Instagram account. There are options to try.

If you are interested in preserving your entire Two Peas gallery, you may be interested in this announcement that would copy all your uploads to the gallery elsewhere. I haven’t tried this so I can’t say from experience how easy it was, but have a look to see if it is something you might find helpful. I know many of us have layout galleries that provide an interesting look at our evolution as crafters.

scrapbook page by shimelle laine @
Here’s my interpretation of this simple sketch, and a return to that original idea I mentioned that a patterned paper could remain largely on show and the rest of the page could be made with just scraps from other papers. This page was made with the last papery bits of my kit from last August, which brings me to something else that is changing – my product links have always gone to Two Peas and that will be a lot of links to change. It also means I don’t have a nice and easy way to post a Best of Both Worlds kit tomorrow, of course. I have some investigating to do as I want to make sure I am happy with any retailers I recommend, so I appreciate your patience as I find the best way forward. Of course you can find products via a search of Google or your store of choice, so this layout was made from Carta Bella’s Hello Again and Fancy Pants’ What a Wonderful Day collections, plus stickers from Dear Lizzy’s Lucky Charm line.

If you’ve created layouts from the weekend challenges, I hope you’ll share them with us! Find those challenges here.

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