Category Archives: Product Reviews

Product Review: Fiskars Border Punches

Back in spring, a fire finally lit under my behind to get movin’ on creating new Mother’s Day and wedding themed cards.  But, I also needed inspiration and possibly some cool new toys!  So I headed over to Joann’s, armed with some gift cards from the holidays to make it happen.

At first my goal was to find some new cute clear stamps for the occasion.  They’re usually my go to tool since they are reusable, translucent and so much fun to play around with.  I have, in the past, strayed from the mass market of other tools out there since they are, frankly, too darn expensive and most of the time too bulky for storage. But, Joann’s was having a sale and I did have my gift cards.  I splurged.  Well, sort of.  I left the store with one set of stamps (that I couldn’t wait to use) and a border punch, that I had so much fun playing around with!

If you’re not too familiar with paper crafting tools, you may be wondering what the heck a border punch is.  Well, it lets you create things like this:

It’s Pretty simple: you line up your paper, punch, and realign until your desired border has been created.  In order to help people the first time around, the backside of the packaging has simple directions with images and Fiskars also provides a How-To Guide on their website. Just click the download link under, “How to Use a Border Punch.”

I love all of the possibilities for layering and playing with textures and colors.  For this bookmark I punched the top patterned layer and also the middle white layer and arranged them both on top of a coordinating green layer.  Simple.

As fun as these are, I do have a few complaints: (1) there is no compartment for scraps, so the little ‘confetti’ just end up on your desk or table; (2) the tool is not very strong, so be careful and only punch one sheet at a time.  After a few runs, my first one actually broke. I called customer service and they quickly sent me a new one;  and (3) if you don’t line up your paper just right, you might accidentally mis-punch and ruin your paper.  I did that the first time around and had to start over, despite the directions on the back!  But after that first mess up, it was smooth sailing.

Which brings about my suggestions: (1) add a catch compartment for scraps; (2) make them stronger and more reliable; and (3) make the entire contraption or just a portion with translucent plastic.  It would be so nice for the punch itself to have translucent plastic (at least over the lever) so you can see exactly where the paper is lining up. This would definitely be helpful for times when I want to create the border in a specific length or when I don’t want to chop off the entire bottom portion of the paper and only want to do a partial border, leaving that bottom portion in place, creating a whole new look like these:

Nonetheless, these punches are great once you get the hang of it (and that doesn’t take too long).  My imagination can go wild thinking of ways to use it and hopefully yours does too!  Do you have any great ideas?  Share them with everyone by leaving a comment, we’d love to know your secrets!

Check out the effervescence border punch I used for the bookmark and  also the rest of their product line.  Fiskars also makes multiple versions of their corner punches, squeeze punches, border punches and the everywhere punch!

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Product Review: Clear Stamps

My favorite paper crafting tool: clear stamps.

Reasons why I love them:

  • Smaller and less bulky than traditional rubber stamps (makes for ease of storage).
  • Translucent so you can see exactly where you are stamping, no guessing game here!
  • Less expensive than wood mounted rubber stamps and you can generally find them in themed packs.
  • Easy to clean (you don’t have to worry about water logging any wooden mounts).
  • Endless designs and themes to choose from.
  • Available in most craft stores and craft sections of stores such as Target and Walmart.

Some things to be wary of:

  • First use: clear stamps need to be conditioned prior to use because they naturally repel ink, otherwise, the ink pools and doesn’t give a clear image.  Blockheads Paper Arts suggests using a pink eraser to “scuff the surface” in their article Clear Polymer Stamps: Using Conditioning and Storing.
  • Because they are polymer, clear stamps won’t last as long as rubber stamps, they may get gooey or harden with time.
  • They are not hard like rubber stamps, but very pliable.  So if you push down too hard when stamping, the image may be distorted, so be gentle!
  • As a result of their pliability and lack of back mount, they may tear.
  • Certain solvents will slowly destroy the polymer, so avoid StazOn inks and cleaners (they’re OK to use with rubber stamps, though).
  • As with all stamping, be careful of the material you are stamping as some materials bleed, like satin ribbon (I made that mistake!)

How to Use Them

I know when I first received clear stamps as a gift, I was clueless and confused as to how to use them, but it didn’t take long to figure it out.  It’s very simple, you’ll just need a stamp block (I prefer a set like this one since it comes with three sized blocks), gently remove the stamp from its packaging, adhere to the block, position and stamp away!

For Long Lasting Enjoyment

Because polymer may break down more easily than the rubber used in traditional wood mounted stamps, more care needs to be taken in order to extend their usage lifetime (to get the best out of rubber stamps, extra care should be taken for storage and cleaning as well, but it may differ from clear stamps).  Store in a light free zone (away from both indoor lighting and sunlight) and keep away from acetone, bleach and oil based products.  I keep mine in a repurposed tin box, but any other sealable container would work perfectly.  To clean, use baby wipes, mild soap and water, alcohol, or liquid stamp cleaners like these and remember to avoid StazOn cleaning products  for clear stamps.

Have fun, be creative and go get your stamp on!  Have a great idea for stamping or other stamping tips?  Leave a comment for everyone to benefit!

Thanks to Blockheads Paper Arts for their helpful article Clear Polymer Stamps: Using Conditioning and Storing and Artylicious for the informational post Clear Stamps versus Rubber Stamps

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