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Ask the Artist


Our Artist in Residence, Dina Kowal, answers your questions


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  • November 7, 2018
    Q: Gwennith wants to know: "When using the bone folder on card stock, I end up with a shiny streak on the paper. How can I avoid that?"

    A: I've read that a teflon bone folder won't leave a shiny streak... I'll have to look for one of those and find out! Another suggestion is to layer a piece of text-weight paper over the card before burnishing the fold. Hope that helps! Here's a discussion thread in the forums with a few more suggestions - if you have a great tip, please share!


    October 31, 2018
    Q: Mel wants to know: "I have seen a lot of highlighting done with white, hair and cheeks especially. Should I be highlighting with white ink, or is using pencils and blending better on its own?"

    A: There are no rules, and lots of options! Do you have a white gel pen or paint pen? Try it and see if you like the effect. Pencils can sometimes be used to add highlights, if your base coloring is something that has soaked into the paper, like markers or watercolor. If you're coloring with pencils, it's best to add white highlights before adding other colors to the paper - white doesn't usually stand out when layered over other colors. Another option for pencil coloring is to indent highlights into the paper before coloring - you can find a tutorial on that technique HERE. For a real standout highlight, I use white acrylic paint or gesso, and dot it on with a stylus.


    October 24, 2018
    Q: Julane asks: "I have a lot of the thin craft dies and I make large (50-100) batches of cards. I know it will vary, but what is the average expected life span of a die?"

    A: I've never ruined or broken one with normal use, so I would expect them to last a lifetime with just regular crafty wear. According to a manufacturer, the lifespan of a die can vary depending on the usage, "what type of material is being cut, the pressure being used, and how many times it is used to cut." Some of the more narrow outlined shape dies may start to curve slightly with repeated use, but since I switched to cutting with the dies blade up I haven't noticed that happening. I have bent a few dies by accidentally leaving them on the platform and laying another die over top... I don't recommend that, but they do still cut! I did find out that steel rule dies can make up to 250,000 cuts on paper! Amazing tools.


    October 17, 2018
    Q: Theresa asks: "What are pencil extenders used for?"

    A: Pencil extenders allow you to get more use out of short pencils that can otherwise be hard to hold onto. The extender is typically a metal tube with a fitting that screws down to tighten onto the end of a pencil, giving you a longer handle to grip when you color. Some extenders have a wooden handle with a metal fitting. When shopping for pencil extenders, be sure they will fit the diameter of the pencils that you typically use - these can range from 7-9 mm (for example, Prismacolors have a 7 mm diameter. Faber Castell Polychromos have an 8 mm diameter and Caran d'Ache Luminance pencils have a 9 mm diameter).


    October 10, 2018
    Q: Janet asks: "On my Christmas card this year I'm using a large snowflake, about 2.5". It's very detailed, and I want it popped up. I cut adhesive foam in very small pieces but it's hard to get them to stand up. I also tried die cutting thin foam with the die, but the foam seems to expand just a little so that it shows. Thanks for any advice you can offer!"

    A: One way to pop up the snowflake more easily would be to use a single die cut and roll up glue dots to support the arms. Another idea would be to adhere several (2-4) die cuts together to create a dimensional stack. When I need to adhere a detailed die cut, I 'scribble' the glue onto my craft mat, then lightly lay the die cut into the glue. An alternative would be to layer an adhesive sheet onto the back of your cardstock before cutting.


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