DIY: Robot Valentine’s Day Cards with Tam Hess

DIY: Robot Valentine Cards with Tam Hess
Please welcome guest blogger Tam Hess! Today she is sharing a fun tutorial on how to make a robot valentine using one of her own digital stamps. You can read more about Tam and the cute things she makes in her Featured Maker interview.

Working with digital stamps is so much fun! I made this easy Robot Valentine card with a free digital stamp designed by me. There are tons of cute free and low cost digital stamps online. Downloading digital stamps and keeping them on your computer saves time and space. As soon as I discovered this idea I fell in love and started designing my own. I’m particularly biased and love this robot digital stamp… well, because I created him!

Step One: Gather your supplies

The first step for designing your robot valentine card is to gather your supplies. Find fun papers, ribbon, embossing folders, punches, pens, pencils and paints. Anything you would like to use for your card. I especially love watercolors so I will get all my watercolor supplies out for some fun.

Step Two: Download and print your digital stamp

Download the robot digital stamp for free from my website. Then print it out on either 72lbs watercolor paper for watercoloring or card stock paper for pencils and pens.

DIY: Robot Valentine Cards with Tam Hess

I like to size/format my digital stamps to be 3.5” x 2.5” and print them out four at a time. If you download Card Making Artists free digital stamps, I always include a digital stamp PDF sized/formatted just right for handmade cards.

Step Three: Color your robot

Use watercolors, pens, pencils or paints to color your robots any way you like. Have fun trying different color combinations.

Step Four: Cut out the image

Start cutting the robot image. I use the gray border line around the robot image as a guide for cutting out the digital stamp. You can use scissors, which I normally use but the cutting board works well too.

DIY: Robot Valentine Cards with Tam Hess

After getting all the robots painted and cut out, I start looking through my stash of papers and embellishments to find the ones that match the robots. Yes, I will gather some supplies before I start my project but usually I have to jump up a million times to find just the right colored paper or embellishments. Once I get all the robots matched to papers and card folders it’s time to decide on a design.

DIY: Robot Valentine Cards with Tam Hess

Step Five: Design your card

Finding the right design for your card can be tricky. I really get stumped on card designs. Usually I will find a “card sketch” online that I refer to. “Card sketches” are like templates to follow for card making. You can find “card sketches” on card challenge sites like Retro Sketches, which is my favorite card making challenge site. When you use a digital stamp like the Valentine Robot stamp, you can keep your design and embellishments to a minimum. If you need something smaller or don’t like the sentiment, I included in your download a PNG (Portable Network Graphic) version of your digital stamp. You can resize your PNG Valentine Robot to any size you like!

DIY: Robot Valentine Cards with Tam Hess

The robot digital stamp is large and is the focal point of the card so there’s no need to go overboard with the embellishing. However, I love the super busy over the top cards with all kinds of embellishments, the cards that look like they wouldn’t fit in an envelope? Awesome!

DIY: Robot Valentine Cards with Tam Hess

I need more card making practice to design one of those super embellished cards. Handmade cards are a fun and easy way to express yourself. People are always excited and impressed to receive something that you’ve made. The lazy part of me especially likes having a bunch of handmade cards ready for quick birthday and thank you greetings. If you’re super organized, keep a few gift cards on hand and then you’re really set! You can visit for more card making fun, ideas and free digital stamps.

DIY: Robot Valentine Cards with Tam Hess

DIY: Appearing Leaf Drop-Dyed Tissue

If you’ve tried out our Paper Flower or Tie-Dye Tissue Paper DIYs you know how much fun it is to dye paper with liquid watercolor. There’s something so magical about the way the colors mix and flow through the paper fibers.

I was thinking about fall leaves, and of course paper dyeing seemed like the perfect way to capture the fiery colors of the season. After a little experimentation, I came up with a dyeing variation where leaves mysteriously appear on a gorgeous field of color.


Supplies You’ll Need

• White tissue paper
• A Pigment Based White Stamp Pad, like this Craftsmart Pigment Ink Pad from Michaels. Other stamp pads, or inks, should work too, just test them out on a piece of scrap tissue.
• Stamps, made or bought.  I made my own in a method similar to the one Rachel used for her Stamped Scarf project. I carved my stamps from cheap erasers.
Blick Liquid Watercolors
• Liquid Droppers and/or absorbent foam paint brushes.

Here’s a sneak peek at the leafy magic…


To get started- decide how you are going to use your tissue, and where the leaf design should be. If you are using it in a bag, I would suggest decorating the corners; if you’re going to wrap with it you will want to decorate from the center out.

Ink up your stamp, and press it firmly on your tissue. (You know- stamp it!)

Repeat with your stamps in a random pattern until you are happy with the design. It may be difficult to see the white ink on white tissue- but that’s what makes the next part so fun!

Let the stamped tissue dry for a few minutes, then fold the tissue several times and place on a plate or other protective surface. With your dropper or brush begin applying dabs, drops, and lines of liquid watercolor to the tissue.

The leaves should start to appear in white on your tissue. (The watercolor won’t soak into the area that you have covered with the stamp ink.) If you end up with excess dye puddling up on your design, simply dab with your brush or a paper towel.

Keep dropping and dabbing until you’ve covered the area with color.

Flip the tissue over and add color there as well. (It should soak through all the layers.) After you are done, let the sheets dry completely (at least overnight) before unfolding and using them.


Tada! Customized tissue that will make all your gifts pop.

Other things to try

• More color combinations
• Different stamps – maybe stars, initials, polkadots…
• Other types of ink – colored or metallic ink pads, block printing inks and more
• Drawing with metallic Sharpies or paint pens
• Drawing with dry watercolor pencils before dyeing
• Experimenting with other papers

RECIPE: Crunchy Ramen Snack Mix

RECIPE: Crunchy Ramen Snack Mix

While on the lookout for new snack ideas, I came across this recipe from Martha Stewart. I liked the idea of using the crunchy ramen noodles (reminded me of all the ramen I ate as a kid). Baked in the oven with nuts, corn flakes and sesame sticks, this snack mix turned out addicting and delicious. Next time I make it, I want to spice it up with wasabi peas.

RECIPE: Crunchy Ramen Snack Mix

Crunchy Ramen Snack Mix
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Snack
  • 2 packages ramen, broken into small pieces (discard seasoning packets)
  • 1 cup raw peanuts
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup cornflakes
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sesame sticks (or wasabi peas)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss ramen, peanuts, cashews, and cornflakes with oil until coated. Spread mixture in a thin even layer.
  2. Combine curry powder, cayenne pepper and salt; sprinkle over ramen mixture.
  3. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Stir in sesame sticks and let cool completely before serving. Makes 6 cups.

RECIPE: Crunchy Ramen Snack Mix

I packaged my snack mix in hand-painted paper plate baskets using this tutorial by Amy Christie. I also added a custom circle tag courtesy of

DIY: Tie-Dye Tissue Paper

DIY: Tie-Dye Paper #craft #tiedye #tissue
Tie-dye paper was one of the first crazy-idea-craft-projects Alison and I ever did together. You can read about our mishaps and crafty shenanigans from that day here.

We learned a lot from that day back in 2011 and have been making tie-dye paper ever since. We love using it to make tissue paper flowers, to wrap gifts, and even to glue into pages of journals. This tutorial will walk you through how to successfully tie-dye tissue paper (because believe me it’s actually a little tricky).

Supplies Needed

• White tissue paper
• Liquid watercolors
• Plastic cups
• Paper towels

Step 1. Fold Your Paper

This is the basic folding technique for tie-dye paper. First you fold it accordion style, back and forth until you have one long rectangle.

DIY: Tie-Dye Paper #craft #tiedye #tissue
DIY: Tie-Dye Paper #craft #tiedye #tissue

Then fold the bottom right corner to the left edge to make a triangle. Continue turning and pressing until you have one large triangle.

DIY: Tie-Dye Paper #craft #tiedye #tissue
DIY: Tie-Dye Paper #craft #tiedye #tissue
DIY: Tie-Dye Paper #craft #tiedye #tissue

Repeat this folding process for as many sheets of tissue you’d like to tie-dye.

DIY: Tie-Dye Paper #craft #tiedye #tissue

Step 2: Dye Your Paper

First you want to prep your dyeing area. I like to use a large baking sheet lined with paper towels as a work surface. First pour the liquid watercolor into the plastic cups or bowls.

DIY: Tie-Dye Paper #craft #tiedye #tissue

Then begin dipping the corners of the folded triangle into the different colors. You’ll want to hold the paper in the dye for a few seconds to allow the watercolor to soak into the folded paper.

DIY: Tie-Dye Paper #craft #tiedye #tissue

I like to dip my paper into three different colors (one for each corner of the triangle). Once you’re done dying, place it on the paper towel and let dry completely.

DIY: Tie-Dye Paper #craft #tiedye #tissue

You may be like me, and not have the patience to wait until the paper is completely dry before unfolding, but if you try to unfold wet tissue paper it WILL tear. So keep calm and wait it out.

DIY: Tie-Dye Paper #craft #tiedye #tissue

Once your triangles are completely dry, carefully unfold the tissue. You can use a warm iron to flatten the paper completely and remove some of the creases from folding.

Some Tips

Tissue – I originally tried using tissue paper from the Dollar Tree and didn’t get the best results. The watercolor had trouble soaking into the tissue. So next I tried some tissue from my local craft store and had much better results. I guess some tissue paper is less absorbent? If you don’t get the results you like, simply try another brand.
Liquid watercolor – can be difficult to find. I found the Artist’s Loft brand bottles at Michael’s in the art supply section of the store. Alison also recommends using Blick Liquid Watercolors.
• For a fast dry, set your oven to it’s lowest setting and place your paper towel lined baking tray in the oven for approx. 10 minutes.

DIY: Watercolor Affirmation Cards

DIY: Watercolor Affirmation Cards #tutorial

I’m currently reading the book, Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. I’ve been stuck in a chapter that’s all about incorporating positive thinking into our everyday lives and shooing away the negative chatterbox we have in our heads. This is something I definitely need to work on! One step she suggests, is to make your own affirmation cards and place them around your home as a reminder to embrace ‘happy thoughts’ instead of dwell on the negative.

Last weekend, I made a trip up to Seattle to visit friends. While spending the afternoon with Alison at her shop in Issaquah, I finally sat down and made these watercolor affirmation cards. I love how they turned out and was excited to bring them home and display them.

DIY: Watercolor Affirmation Cards #tutorial

Supplies Needed:

• Watercolor paper
• Watercolor paint and brushes
• Scissors or x-acto knife

The first step is to paint a wash of watercolor over your entire page. I do this by first covering the paper in plain water, then adding in color. The wet watercolor paper will help to distribute the paint and create the ‘wash’ effect. You can use your brush to blend in different colors. Once you’ve covered your entire page, let it dry completely.

DIY: Watercolor Affirmation Cards #tutorial

Once dry, cut your watercolor page into small cards. I cut mine to be 3″ x 4″.

DIY: Watercolor Affirmation Cards #tutorial

Next choose your affirmations! An affirmation is a positive statement that something is already happening. I came up with a bunch of different phrases that were meaningful to me. Once you’ve chosen a word or phrase, write it on a card. I used black watercolor to paint my affirmations directly on the card, so I made sure to practice using my brush in my sketchbook.

An affirmation is a positive statement that something is already happening.

DIY: Watercolor Affirmation Cards #tutorial

You could also use a pen or ink to write on your cards. Whatever you are most comfortable with!

After I finished writing my affirmations, I used a small brush to paint some complimentary designs on each card, making each one unique.

DIY: Watercolor Affirmation Cards #tutorial

DIY: Watercolored Business Cards

Watercolored Business Cards
Last week I combined a few of my favorite things and letterpress printed A-i-M cards on scraps of cotton paper. I wanted to make them super special (and representative of our creative spirit) so I pulled out my handy-dandy liquid watercolors and went to town.  I tried a few different methods, and wanted to show how they turned out.

I really like working with Blick Liquid Watercolor. I use it for my paper flowers, and pretty much everything else. I can water it down as much or as little as I want, and it washes out of everything I accidentally spill it on. (Very important. I’m a little messy.) I keep several plastic containers around to mix colors in.

The paper scraps were Crane Lettra 110# Cover, and I used a rubber based letterpress ink on them.

I think this would also work on other papers, including watercolor paper and uncoated card stock. You could also try adding your print with a stamp (like this tutorial from Akula Kreative) or use a non-watersoluble printing method (like a laser printer, or copier.)


Dipped and Dry Brushed

My first instinct was to take each card individually and dip it into a few colors. Some of them I then tapped on the table, to distribute drops, and some I used a dry brush to sweep through watercolor puddles.

IMG_2475-2 IMG_2490

Edge Painting

I discovered a really wonderful thing while I was dipping small stacks in the watercolor. The color would soak into the edges, but not into the face of the pieces in the middle of the stack. I started dipping each side of the stack into a different color, and ended up with these lovely ombre edges. There is a little bleed onto the face of the cards, but it’s very subtle.


A Happy Splatter Accident

Remember what I said earlier about being a messy experimenter? Well, this time it worked out for me! I was partially working on a glass palate, which eventually was covered with lots of little drop of watercolor. I pressed one of the cards against the splatters, and ended up with these lovely color patterns.

IMG_2506IMG_2569I had a great time playing with the liquid watercolor (again) and love how easy it is to introduce color and pattern on a simple card.

The splatter was definitely my favorite. What do you think?


TOOLBOX: Art Journal Supply Kit

TOOLBOX: Art Journal Supply Kit #artjournal #collage #supplies
Art journaling has been a part of my creative process since high school. It’s the one thing I always come back to when I’m feeling lost or overwhelmed by life and is the one place where I can create intuitively, without a specific purpose or judgement. Just the act of doodling on a page or making a collage in my journal calms my nerves and helps me to reconnect with my true self.

Whenever I get the ‘itch’ to journal, I get out my art journal supply kit (which I often carry with me in my bag or purse) and get started.

TOOLBOX: Art Journal Supply Kit

My Art Journal Supply Kit Includes:

• Pens and markers
• Colored pencils and sharpener
• Glitter glue and gel pens
My travel watercolor set
• A small pair of scissors
• Glue stick
• Mechanical pencil and eraser
• Large zipper pouch (mine is handmade by Slide Sideways, now known as Year Round Co.)

I love to experiment and have fun when working in my art journal so I like using supplies I wouldn’t normally use when making art. I love adding a touch of glitter or using a white gel pen to doodle over a dark watercolor wash.

TOOLBOX: Art Journal Supply Kit #artjournal #collage #supplies
TOOLBOX: Art Journal Supply Kit #artjournal #collage #supplies

My Favorite Collage Materials:

• Vintage National Geographic magazines
• Vintage postcards and other ephemera
• Vintage books
• Pressed leaves and flowers
• Any other bits I find and collect

TOOLBOX: Art Journal Supply Kit #artjournal #collage #supplies

You may have noticed that I use a old book as my art journal medium. There’s something about drawing inside the pages of a book that feels so satisfying. There are no blank white pages staring at me saying “this better be good” and I love choosing an old book with a title and cover that speaks to me.

TOOLBOX: Art Journal Supply Kit #artjournal #collage #supplies
TOOLBOX: Art Journal Supply Kit #artjournal #collage #supplies

Do you art journal? What are some of your favorite supplies or techniques?

DIY: Hand-Dyed Paper Flowers

Paper Flowers
We’re not happy unless we’re making things- which means we have a whole slew of projects from the time before A-i-M. We thought we take time now-and-again to share some of these projects from the DIY vault. We’ve touched them up a little, so they should still be new to you, even if you’ve been following us forever.

A couple of years ago, after taking the Crafting for Kittens class (where the lovely Laurie taught us to make crepe paper flowers), I decided I wanted to put together my own paper flower project using easy-to-find materials, and  a little inspiration from tie-dyeing tissue. Since then I’ve been teaching them as a class at the store, and I thought I would share them with those of you who aren’t close enough to join us for a class or party.

flowers_3They are made with a bunch of inexpensive supplies- I’ve linked to some of my favorites below*
• A package of white coffee filters
• Scissors
• Liquid Water Colors – I now use Blick Liquid Watercolor
• A few bowls to dip into (they won’t get ruined, no worries.)
Floral Wire like this.
• Wire cutters
• Floral Tape – Floratape is the best.

Take a few coffee filters (1-6) and fold them in half over and over again, till you have a triangle.

flowers_5Then trim the outside part of the triangle in curves, points, or anything you’d like. (The fun is in the ‘sperimenting.)

Pour the liquid watercolors into small dishes. Add water if you would like (not too much though, if you want rich colors.)

Dip one end into one color and let it slowly wick up the dye, then flip the folded filter and repeat in another color. I would recommend doing the lighter color first. You can also squeeze extra moisture out gently.

Unfold the stack or leave the pieces folded up, and allow to dry overnight. Make sure to leave airspace between your petal sets- they will transfer color if you aren’t careful.

After dried, and opened, it should look something like this. Play with the number of filters you use- this one has 6, but I have even done a tiny single filter flower.

flowers_8Measure out a double length of floral wire, folded at the end.

I have done some of these with button centers, and some without. If you are using a button, feed the wire through two of the holes, and leave the button at the doubled end.

Piece by piece, feed the filters onto the wires and bunch them up at the end.

After all your pieces are wired and bunched, start wrapping floral tape at the top. I usually do a couple of runs of tape directly under the petals, pushing them up as I go, then continue to wrap the stem all the way down. (Remember to stretch the tape to activate the adhesive.) Often you’ll find you need to tighten up the petals by adding more tape near the top.

It may take a little trial and error to make a perfect bouquet, but even the work is fun!

If you’re local and want a hands-on class that includes all the supplies you need, make sure to swing by the So, There store in Issaquah.

I’d love to meet ya!

*If you’d like to try this project yourself, check out the supplies at the Adventures in Making Amazon Store . If you buy through our store you’ll pay the usual Amazon price, but we’ll get a small percentage to help us power our creative adventures. You’re great!

TOOLBOX: Rachel’s Favorite Drawing Supplies

TOOLBOX: My Favorite Drawing Supplies #art #materials #drawing
After a recent trip to my local art supply store to stock up on supplies, I realized how much I love getting new pens, tubes of watercolor paint, and finding the perfect paper. Even as a kid growing up, I always looked forward to a new school year and fresh new pencils and notebooks. Since I’ve taken up illustration and making art for Camp Smartypants, I’ve found some favorite tools I use again and again. I’m always on the look out for new materials to try out, but I rely on these essentials for most of my drawing.

For Sketching + Drawing

TOOLBOX: My Favorite Drawing Supplies #art #materials #drawing

1. Spiral Bound Sketchbook

I prefer the spiral binding for my sketchbooks because my pages are able to lay flat at as draw and it’s easy to curl up on the couch with. You just have to be careful not to crush or bend a metal spiral, or you’ll be annoyed while working in it.

2. Crayola Light-Up Tracing Pad

The perfect tracing pad you carry in your bag along with your sketchbook. Read more about how great this thing is in this post.

3. Mechanical Pencil

Mechanical pencils are my go-to sketching tool. I prefer these over a normal pencil because I don’t have to worry about sharpening, and I can get a consistent line weight as I use it. I don’t worry about using anything fancy, any mechanical pencil will do the trick.

4. Blackwing Pencils

I picked up a sampler set of Blackwing Pencils after taking a lettering class from Mary Kate McDevitt on Skillshare. I learned a lot about the drawing process from taking her course and now use a blackwing to draw over my sketches, making for a nice clean drawing.

5. Metal Pencil Sharpener

A good pencil sharpener is an essential tool. I use a Mobius & Ruppert Brass Pencil Sharpener. It’s something I picked up in college and have used ever since.

6. Staedtler Eraser

The Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser works great.

For Inking

TOOLBOX: My Favorite Drawing Supplies #art #materials #drawing

1. Translucent Marker Paper

Another material I picked up in art school, this marker paper is great for ink drawings. You can achieve the smoothest lines with little bleed from your pen.

2. Ink Pens

I use Copic Multiliner pens. It’s one of many good brands (Fiber-Castell is another good one) and comes in variety of sizes. 0.3 and 0.5 are the two sizes I use most often.

For Watercolor

TOOLBOX: My Favorite Drawing Supplies #art #materials #drawing

1. Arches Watercolor Paper

A high quality watercolor paper. I use hot-press for watercolor and ink, and cold-press for watercoloring only. The difference is cold-press paper has a nice texture while hot-press paper is smooth.

2. Shmincke Watercolors

I first learned of Shmincke watercolors from Geninne Zlatkis. They were a big investment, but totally worth it. The pigment is bright, saturated and beautiful.

3. Paint Brushes

I use fairly cheap paint brushes. The brand shown are Princeton Snap and Loew-Cornell.

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COLOR INSPIRATION: Peace of Mind #teal #purple #chartreuse #watercolor
I’ve been obsessing over this color palette for the past month or so. The cool blues and purples with hints of chartreuse and green offer a refreshing calmness. The combination stirs up memories of salt water and warm ocean breezes. The one place I can find peace of mind.

Image sources (clockwise): 1. Katy’s Photo Journal 2. Eliana Luck 3. Flowers On Bornay 4. Hello Pretty Things