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September 2005
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March 2006

October 2005

What do you do with the Grid Guide?

Must_have_flowers_1One of our newer products this year is our Grid Guide™. I introduced a line of stamps that contains a lot of square stamps and complementary small stamps to use with them. One of the things I like to do with them is to stamp them, punch them out, and layer them with square pieces punched with McGill Stacking punches and pop dots or foam tape.

I arrange these pieces using a grid to create different card compositions. Sometimes I do a 2x2 four square pattern, 3 along the bottom, 2x3 that take up the whole card front, etc.  There are some examples in the Cardmaker's Collection gallery.

I created a pdf instruction sheet for the Grid Guide which explains how I use it. It's also  a great way to make shadow grids like we do with the Accent Templates™.

Card Instructions

In an effort to get some content on here I posted a bunch of sample cards in the albums listed on the right of the screen. I didn't make comments on them like which stamps were used or any instructions. I am going to try to go back to explain more on each sample but it may take a little time for me to get it all done.

Over the years many many customers have sent me cool samples. I wish I had gotten permission from them to post them on my site so I can't post them now. However, if anyone reading this blog has samples made with our stamps, I'd be more than honored to post them in my IO Customers' Art folder along with any comments you'd like to make. Please send them to me at Thanks so much!

Batik Technique

About five years ago I came up with a technique to achieve a batik look using mulberry paper, clear embossing powder, and watercolor paints. Since then a bunch of people have adapted my technique to various inks and papers. I used to have a section on my website showing how to do this, but it is long gone now. I've gotten several recent requests about this technique so I'll reprint the instructions here. Here's a link to a downloadable PDF file if you'd like to print out a nicely formatted one.


  • White mulberry paper
  • Spray bottle filled with water
  • Watercolors or diluted dye-based reinkers (I recommend Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus watercolors for their permanence)
  • Batik Collection™ stamps
  • Paintbrushes (both large and small)
  • Clear embossing powder
  • Ranger Resist Pad
  • Heat Tool
  • Cookie sheet  or plastic tray
  • Iron
  • Newsprint


  1. Stamp your images on the mulberry paper with the Ranger resist pad. Note: you can try to use a regular embossing pad, but I have had better luck using the resist pad.
  2. Emboss the images with regular clear embossing powder (Note: I have had much better success with regular powder than ultra fine because the powder needs to melt all the way through the mulberry paper and the fine powder is not thick enough). Sometimes it is easier to do a few at a time, emboss them, and then do more, especially if you are making an all-over pattern.
  3. Lay the paper in your tray or cookie sheet (the sheet is used to contain the paint and water).
  4. Spritz the paper lightly with water. You will need to practice to see how much water to use. If you use a lot of water, you will get lovely blended colors, but it will be hard to control the paint. If you are trying to color in an image, you will want to use less water.
  5. Using a brush saturated with water and paint, begin painting the mulberry paper. Remember that the paint will dry lighter than it looks while it is wet. Because this is a resist technique, the darker the color you use, the sharper the image will appear.
  6. Allow the paper to dry naturally, or use a hair dryer. You can use your heat gun, but keep it fairly far away from the paper as it will melt the EP again.
  7. Iron the mulberry paper between sheets of plain newsprint (don’t use printed paper as it will come off onto your artwork). Iron slowly and be sure to move the mulberry paper while it is still hot so it doesn’t stick to the newsprint. The newsprint soaks up the embossing powder, removing it from your mulberry paper.
  8. Because the embossed images are transparent, to see the image the most clearly it is necessary to attach the mulberry paper to a piece of white paper or cardstock. I do this with spray adhesive to achieve the smoothest bond, but you can use the Xyron adhesive cartridge also.

There are many different possibilities with this technique. Here are a few I came up with:

  1. After you have initially embossed the mulberry paper the stamped image is very clear. Instead of adding color to the mulberry paper, brayer a rainbow pad on some white copy paper or use your favorite background technique to create a colorful background and lay the mulberry paper on top. Use spray adhesive to adhere. This gives a much subtler look than the original technique.
  2. Emboss using colored or metallic embossing powder and your resist will be the embossing powder color, not white.
  3. Use the technique multiple times to create layers. (See this background as an example) As you apply colors and then emboss again, each embossed image protects the color underneath it from the new layer of paint. Emboss several images in clear first, then apply a light color. Let the piece dry thoroughly. Emboss again in clear, you can even overlap images. Apply a deeper color over the whole piece. Let dry. Continue repeating process until you have images in several different colors against a dark background.


  1. When you are doing background colors, use a thick paintbrush to apply your colors. It goes much faster and the colors tend to blend better.
  2. Use a thin paintbrush to color in open line designs. Then apply colors to the background with your thick brush. When you are creating a design this way and you do the painting on a flat surface like a table or a tray, the colors will run under the mulberry paper, ruining the design. Try using an embroidery hoop (tighten it just enough to hold the paper, but not enough to tear it. This will allow you to paint the areas you want without the watercolor running underneath.
  3. With bolder stamps, experiment with building depth by using different colors and overlapping your stamped images.
  4. Instead of backing your batik paper with white paper, use a color. That color will tint the white from your batik and give a different look.

Project Ideas
Once you’ve seen how easy this technique is, you’ll create a million pieces of batiked paper. So what do you do with them now? Try these...

  • Card backgrounds
  • Wrap a gift
  • Cover a picture frame
  • Make a lampshade
  • Decoupage a votive candle holder
  • Frame it
  • Make coordinating envelopes for your batiked cards