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Archive | March 24, 2010

Review: Chip Art by Melody Ross for GCD Studios

For the last few weeks I’ve been working with and evaluating the Chip Art tools by Melody Ross for GCD Studios, and having a great time with them. They are unlike anything else in the scrapbooking market, and they are a lot of fun. However, I think it only fair to warn you – they are also noisy and they are not fast to use if you include the chipboard drying time.

I don’t think these tools are for everyone, but I do think that they are very cool and I encourage you to take a look at what I’ve done with them so you can decide for yourself if they are something that will work for you. First, let me explain the tools themselves:

There are both alphabets and decorative  images available in this line, all sold separately. They are metal and you use a mallet to create an indentation into damp chipboard. The images come in a dense blue foam, the alphabets are in that same foam, but the foam sits inside a beautifully decorated tin. If purchasing some you will also need the tool handle. This (shown below) is the piece that you fit into the back of the image so that you can use them. There are two sizes – 1/2″ for the larger images, and 1/4″ for the smaller ones. The alphabet shown above has the 1/4″ tool included.

The product line also includes a mallet, spray bottle (for wetting chipboard), and a block (hard plastic) to use as a work surface. I found that while very nice to have, I would consider those items optional. I tried the tools out while working on a hard wood surface, with a small hammer, and using a sponge to apply water to the chipboard. That said, using them with the GCD tools was nice, especially the  work surface that is slick and easy to wipe excess moisture off from.

To use the tools on chipboard, first you need to wet the chipboard and let it set for a minute so the water soaks in. It doesn’t need to be dripping wet, just damp enough to soften. Then select your image (or letter), attach it to the tool handle, and place where you want to have the image. Take the mallet and bang the top of the tool handle a few times. I usually found two-three times worked well. The noise level is similar to traditional eyelet setting tools, and I wouldn’t advise doing this while others are trying to sleep in your house.

This worked on both plain chipboard and chipboard that had been painted with acrylic paint (dry) and then moistened with water. To get more images, simply keep selecting more, and wet the chipboard again and again as needed. A word of caution: you don’t want to soak the chipboard or pound too hard.

Above is an example of a soaked piece of chipboard. It took me three tries to show you what I mean – but if you pound too many times, especially on soaked chipboard it will fall apart as my “M” has on the far right. Below you can see some butterflies I stamped into white acrylic painted chipboard.

To add contrast I rubbed (with my finger) purple acrylic paint into the butterflies and surrounding area.

Then I gently sanded off (once dry) the excess purple paint to achieve the distressed look shown below.

In my experimenting I found that the tools worked well on any standard chipboard pieces, so long as they weren’t treated with a finish that prevented water from soaking into them to soften them. I also found that other thick products that could be softened with water but that would harden and hold the shape once dry worked well. I had success with pulp paper, and I have yet to test it, but I believe leather would work well too.

Above is a name stamped into thick pulp paper I took from my mother’s papermaking stash. The key is really something that will soften with moisture, but really harden and hold once dry.

Here is a ChipArt mini book cover that I created for an inspiration book meant to hold images and thoughts that I want to use at future dates. I should mention that I am very happy with both the quality and designs of the chipboard books and shapes available in this line.

I really like that I can keep adding more images as I feel like it, and I will tell you I have a lot of fun banging the images into chipboard. It is artsy play at its most fun.

Of course, I have to keep testing and trying different things! I took a random butterfly from my chipboard stash (no idea who made it) and sprayed it heavily with glimmer mist instead of using water to wet the chipboard. Then I used a letter to monogram my pretty butterfly.

I could see both putting a few letters on chipboard pieces to customize my layouts, and putting some images on chipboard letters being things I do often in my scrapbooking. It doesn’t take much time, and I love the personal effect it gives.

In the above layout I used the Homespun Chic and Artsy Urban lines by Melody Ross for GCD Studios, as well as Cosmo Cricket chipboard stickers (brackets), a Pink Paislee number (5), and mom’s typewriter font.

I have had a lot of fun testing out these new tools, and I see myself using them a lot in future projects. It’s true I either have to take them outside to use (due to children sleeping) or work quickly with them during times when the girls are awake, but they are worth it. One thing I discovered during quiet time is that you can stamp with them.

I like the soft look from the Ranger Distress Ink Pads (wild honey and tumbled glass used above). They aren’t designed to be like rubber stamps, so don’t expect perfection. I just loved the little images I could add into my projects – adding tiny details here and there. This is a great way to (silently) use these products.

I have not been this excited about a new tool in a long time. I feel like I am just scratching the surface of the possibilities of these tools, and I am hoping to add more alphabets and a few more shapes to my collection. While the noise might be a deterrent to some crafters, I see possibility here for mixed media, wall art, scrapbooking, and so much more – I’m looking forward to my next project.

All of the products used are now available in stores. All of the ChipArt can be found at www.artsyfindings.com, a new site that Melody Ross has created  where all her products will be available. The shop at Stampington is also carrying a selection of the ChipArt tools.

If you have any questions about the tools please feel free to leave a comment here or e-mail me at may@scrapbookupdate.com.

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