Archive | March, 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, 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

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Craft Month Q&A: Betsy Burnett

Today Scrapbook Update is pleased to bring our readers a Craft Month Q&A with Betsy Burnett.

Betsy is a scrapbooking/crafting demonstrator, instructor and freelance writer. She currently teaches and does demos at Scrapbook Junction in Minooka, IL and JoAnn Fabrics, as well as offering in-home scrapbooking classes. Betsy will be a speaker at the upcoming “Clean Sweep” women’s conference  in New Lenox, IL,  and just hosted the 3rd “Illinois Area Fiskateer crop.”  Online, she is a frequent contributer to Faithfully Yours and currently works with MemoryWorks‘ social medial team. You can visit Betsy’s blogs at Aim Happy and Aim Scrappy. Betsy previously appeared on Scrapbook Update to report on the Fiskars 360th birthday bash at Epcot in July 2009.

What was the first craft you ever remember doing?

Well the first “craft” I remember doing was “web making” I was about 4 and read the book “Charlotte’s Web” well there was a skein of yarn so I created a web, I tied yarn to EVERYTHING in my bedroom, the knobs of the dresser, the bed post, the door knob the chair…and then I wove yarn through everything. The goal was to be able to crawl on my web. Sadly I fell short of my goal literally …and the furniture, drawers, chairs…fell with me :)

Beyond my failed attempts at web making. I don’t ever remember NOT doing crafts. Mom loved arts and crafts, we even “scrapbooked” way back then (I have an “album” I made out of craft paper from when I was 5, I had cut out photos journaling it was pretty cool!)

Can you name all the crafts you have tried as hobbies?

I went through a big phase of “finger-weaving” as a kid, I’ve sewn, cross-stitched, floral arranging, kids crafts/costumes, cake decorating, scrapbooking, card making, paper crafting, altered stuff and a bit of stamping thrown in

What crafts do you currently do?

I will admit I do mostly paper crafting as those are the most supplies I have collected. But dabble in stamping, altered art, floral arranging, sewing, and general crafts.

What other crafts have you incorporated into your scrapbooking?

Probably sewing and stamping the most…I’ve also rediscovered a love of writing so many of my stories have found their way into my albums.

What is your favorite craft & why?

I do a little bit of everything. I’m a big time people person so I love creating gifts. Whether it’s a handmade card, home decor item or home-cooked meal for a sick friend, I love giving gifts from the heart and for me that means creating something for those I love.

Visit the Two Chicks Designs sale to find ten awesome scrapbooking t-shirts for only $9.99!


Canon Announces Plans For Top-Level Domain

Canon announced on Tuesday that it plans to become one of the first companies to take advantage of the new procedures that ICANN will put in place in 2010 or 2011 to allow creation of new gTLD names (global Top Level Domains).

For the non-geeky, a Top Level Domain will essentially mean that visitors will be able to type simply “canon” into their address bar of their browser instead of The biggest appeal of these addresses is their simplicity for consumers to find and remember them.

Despite the appeal of the simplicity of these addresses, a recent Wired article also pointed out several issues with using them. Many web browsers now allow searching by typing a term into the address bar – what will those browsers do when a Top Level Domain (also a single word like “canon”) is entered there? Also, email programs will not recognize an address like john.smith@canon as a valid address. Issues like these will have to be dealt with before TLD’s can become a convenient part of everyday usage.

Registration of TLD’s will be a complex and expensive process, unlike the current domain registration process where five minutes and around $10 will get you any available .com for a year from a registrar like Draft rules for Top Level Domain registration will require a public notification stage, vetting of the company by ICANN, and a minimum fee of $185,000.

Top Level Domains like “scrapbook,” “scrap,” “digitalscrapbook” and other related terms might be very appealing to certain companies in the scrapbook industry, in addition to their own company names. However, given the high price tag for registration, the list of companies in the industry with the budget for making a TLD purchase is fairly small. It will be interesting to see going forward if any of these companies see a TLD as a good investment, or if any new start-ups form to take advantage of the concept in the scrapbooking and crafts industry.


Paperclipping Roundtable #11: Viewer Mail

Paperclipping Roundtable #11 was all about viewer mail! This week’s panel of Noell Hyman, Angie Lucas and me (along with male/mail man Izzy) spent the whole show answering viewer mail…with some fun and interesting results!

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Here’s this week’s show notes:

Product Picks

Other Mentions

Here’s the basket I talked about that I use for displaying some mini albums:

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Scotch Denies Licensing Kokuyo Adhesive

Fans of the discontinued Kokuyo adhesives jumped on internet speculation this week that the new Scotch dot roller adhesives were in fact licensed from Kokuyo. Hope spread among Kokuyo’s fans that the Scotch adhesives were simply re-labeled Kokuyo products.

Unfortunately for Kokuyo fans, Scrapbook Update was able to confirm today with a representative for Scotch that the Scotch dot roller adhesives are not related to Kokuyo in any way. Scrapbook Update was told that the Scotch dot roller products are manufactured by Scotch and, aside from some general similarities in shape and size, do not share anything in common with the former Kokuyo products.

So if the Scotch products aren’t made by or licensed from Kokuyo, are they still a possible replacement for them? Only the scrapbooking customers can decide that. If you’ve tried both adhesives, let us know in the comments what you thought. Scrapbook Update will be running a trial comparison of the new Scotch adhesives in the near future.


Michaels Owner Bidding For UK Retailer HobbyCraft

The UK craft trade magazine Craft Business is reporting that private equity group Blackstone, which along with Bain Capital purchased Michaels in 2006, is now bidding to purchase UK craft retailer HobbyCraft.

The company has been for sale since late last year. Competition for the purchase is fierce, attracting reportedly as many as 20 bidders.

HobbyCraft, founded in 1995, is the UK’s only dedicated craft chain store. It currently has 47 stores and plans to expand to 180.