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Ask the Artist


Our Artist in Residence, Dina Kowal, answers your questions


  • Submit your question to Dina
  • August 16, 2017
    Q: Kelli asks: "I was browsing the gallery and found a BEAUTIFUL card with a colored image on black cardstock. For technique, it lists pencils over ink. How do you do this?"

    A: Coloring on dark cardstock is so dramatic! A tip for really vibrant pencil color is to have a white base beneath it. For a solid stamp, use white dye or pigment ink. If you're using a line art stamp, you can fill in the outline with white craft ink (applied with a brush or blending applicator), watered down acrylic paint, or even clear gesso before coloring. You can find more tips and instructions in our Black Magic tutorial.


    August 9, 2017
    Q: Maryanne wants to know: "Can you use a regular sewing machine to sew on cardstock?"

    A: I do! One thing to note is that paper will dull your needle very quickly. You may want to designate a needle as your 'paper needle' and switch it out when you're sewing on fabric. I mark my paper needle with a permanent marker on the flattened front of the base so it's easy to identify (purple for paper!). Remember that the size of the needle will determine the size of the holes in your cardstock too, so choose one that's fine. Click HERE for some great tips for sewing on cards.


    August 2, 2017
    Q: Wendy wants to know: "Are all regular watercolor pencils the same?"

    A: They're not. As with any art supplies, you'll find a difference in quality from scholastic to student to professional or artist grade pencils. The primary difference is the ratio of pigment to binder - the higher the pencil grade, the more pigment. The result of a higher pigment load is a more vibrant wash when the pencils are activated with water. Lesser quality pencils with a higher percentage of water-soluble binder will be more dull when activated. Results will also vary by brand. Some pencils will also have a creamier consistency when blended. Some specialty pencils, like Inktense, dry permanently after being activated with water, which makes them excellent for mixed media and layering techniques. Of the watercolor pencil brands I've tried, my favorites are Faber Castell's Albrecht Durer pencils, followed by Derwent's watercolor pencils, Inktense products, and Graphitint.


    July 26, 2017
    Q: Beth wants to know: "What do you use to store your paper?"

    A: One of my favorite things in my studio is a hanging file cabinet. One full drawer is dedicated to cardstock - each color family has a file, and I keep full (8.5" x 11") and half sheets there. In one hanging folder I have my scraps, which are quarter sheet size or smaller - those are kept in DVD storage pockets by color family. Larger (12") patterned paper is kept in an armoire drawer, and smaller (6") patterned paper is in a box under my desk for easy access. I have an armoire drawer dedicated to watercolor paper as well, and some other specialty papers in a magazine holder. It's all just a hodgepodge of 'whatever works'!


    July 19, 2017
    Q: 5boys1mom has a question: "Could the Envelope Punch Board Tote be made with a 12x12 piece of paper? If so do you have measurements? Love this project!!!"

    A: Yes! You'll make the initial punches at 2 3/4" and 8", and then just follow the instructions to use the scorelines as markers for punching on the other sides. You'll need a larger scoreboard to extend the score lines and also to mark the 8" point, since the paper is much larger than the punch board. The bottom of the box is 3 1/2" x 5" and it's about 6 1/2" high.


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