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Ask the Artist


Our Artist in Residence, Dina Kowal, answers your questions


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  • July 15, 2020
    Q: Lara asks: "Do you swatch your inks?"

    A: I do! It's really helpful to me to be able to see a colored sample of the inks I have, especially for layered stamps. My swatches are on 2" squares of cardstock - I swipe the ink directly on the upper portion of the card, and then write the ink company and name at the bottom. If I have a reinker for the pad, I note that on the card as well. My swatches are tucked into coin pocket sheet protectors that have twenty 2" pockets per sheet. They are in ROYGBIV order (not by company or type) and store nicely in a binder.


    July 8, 2020
    Q: Lydia asks: "How can I create the look of wood on my card?"

    A: The easiest way to create wood grain is with inks, using a 'direct to paper' technique (dragging the inkpad across the cardstock instead of using an applicator). You can add more detail and depth with a stencil or embossing folder. We have a site tutorial HERE that shows the technique, using the inked paper for a die cut frame. For a more distressed and crackled look, grab some ink, paint, and school glue, and check out our Faux Barn Board tutorial!



    July 1, 2020
    Q: Alexandra asks: "What size are the long cards everyone is making?"

    A: Most slimline cards are about 3.5" x 8.5" when folded - the die sets that are coming out support this size card front. I usually cut my bases to 7" x 8.5"; sometimes I'll cut them to 6.75" x 8.5" so I have a 4.25" square base to work with as well. Slimline cards are sized to fit in a #9 or #10 (business size) envelope. The #9 envelope is 3.875" x 8.875" which could be a snug fit but is fine for flat cards with few layers. A #10 envelope is 4.125" x 9.5", which would allow for a little extra thickness or width, or embellishments that hang over the edge a little.


    June 24, 2020
    Q: Judith asks: "What is the difference between a reactive ink and dye ink?"

    A: I think that most reactive inks have properties of dye inks, but not all dye inks are as reactive as others. The reactive inks I've used are hybrid inks that are formulated to have a longer open time, so they will stay wet for embossing, are more blendable, and will lift, feather, and spot more easily with the application of water. Regular dye inks soak into paper and dry quickly, so while they will react with water, the effect is usually less dramatic. Our product review team did an overview of the Colorbox Dyestress inks a while back (HERE and HERE) - they're no longer available, but the gallery entries and reviews will give you an idea of all the things reactive inks are capable of! Try out reactive inks from Hero Arts (Hero Hues), Ranger (Distress/Distress Oxide inks), Spectrum Noir (Harmony inks), and Ink on 3 (Atelier inks)!


    June 17, 2020
    Q: Mary Ann wants to know: "I made a double folded card and would like to find a sticky glue to hold flap but still be able to open card."

    A: Removable glue dots would be one option for a temporary closure. There are also some glues that are permanent when applied wet but can also be left to dry for a few minutes and they'll remain tacky for a repositionable hold. Zig Two-Way Glue and Tombow Mono Multi Liquid Glue are two brands I have used. If you didn't want to add extra glue to the card, you could use one of those options on a paper strip that wraps around the card.


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