Thursday, March 31, 2011

Golden Rules for Business

After running his own successful and unsuccessful businesses, consulting to others and researching the factors that make a business grow, small business expert John Petty says that there are twelve golden rules for establishing and developing a business.
  • Don't kid yourself. Face the facts on business success. Self-deception is easy, but it is also fatal to your business.
  • Keep it simple. Focus on what you do well.
  • Never run out of cash. In small business, cash is always king.
  • Don't try to grow too fast.
  • Meet your customers' needs, not your own - customers come first.
  • Plan everything. Leave nothing to chance.
  • Build a winning team. You can't do it all by yourself. The right staff can be your best asset.
  • Keep accurate records and accounts and use them to manage the business.
  • Know your business better than anyone else.
  • Avoid risk whenever possible - risky business is not good business.
  • Be honest. Being ethical pays in the long run.
  • Live a balanced life. Life exists beyond the business.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stamping on Chocolate - Yum!

(I haven't tried it yet, but hope to soon!)

by Susan Rice

Give a hand stamped romantic treat to your sweetheart by stamping extra special chocolates. You will need some cooking oil, store bought chocolates, little paper liners for individual chocolates to sit in and small clear acrylic rubber stamps. Experiment with different chocolate brands. It may be easiest to begin on solid chocolates.

1. Place a small amount of vegetable oil on a paper towel and allow it to absorb. Take your choice of new acrylic rubber stamps and dab it in the oil. It is important that you use new rubber stamps for this as the finished product will be consumed and you don't want any ink coming off the stamps onto the chocolate.

2. Heat the surface of the chocolate with a heat embossing tool.

3. Place the oiled clear rubber stamp (without a stamping block) into the melted chocolate. Refrigerate the chocolate with the clear stamp still in the chocolate. Complete your set of chocolates using different rubber stamp images.

4. Once the chocolate has solidified, bring it out of the fridge and gently peel the clear acrylic stamp from the surface of the chocolate.

5. Package your personalized, unique stamped chocolates in a box. Add a little colored tissue paper if you like. Be sure to clean your clear rubber stamps with soapy water as you don't want any traces of chocolate or oil left especially if you plan on converting your clear stamps over for use on paper crafts.

6. Make a coordinating Valentines Day card to go along with your gift of heart.

That is it! It is easy and it is yummy! Rubber stamping with clear stamps on food is a completely unique way to say Happy Valentines Day!

• Stamp a favorite image in a plain sugar cookie before baking.
• Stamp a flower into fondant, cut it out and decorate cakes or other goodies with it.
• Write a special message in a chocolate bar with this technique for an unexpected surprise.

Use your imagination in the kitchen, stamp on anything that will hold an image. Remember, if it doesn't work - you might have to eat it! No matter how unbelievable, enjoy rubber stamping fabulous sweet treats!

Susan loves to craft and particularly enjoys card making with all its forms of art. Using stamps for more than just card making has become a fun challenge for her as well. Visit for more ideas. __________________

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Punch PotPourri/Greenhouse Gala Card Gift Set

This set is inspired by a project from "UStamp with Dawn & Friends" (a great - although somewhat expensive - place to get ideas.) I changed a little bit of everything but the main theme is still there.
The set includes six cards, 10 sentiments, DSP decorated envelopes, and a 'matchbox' for candy. If you want the dimensions and directions for making the set, just zap me an email!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shrinky Dink is Back!

Shrink Plastic Tips
By Colleen Kidder

Here's what I've found working with Shrink Plastic:

1. The standard black pad works fine. It is permanent ink! You just need to be sure to sand with our sanding blocks, first one way and then the other sort of a crisscross pattern. It gives the ink something to “hang” onto. It also keeps the plastic from sticking to itself without "letting go".

2. The other color pads tend to bleed and once they shrink they are not water fast and will run if gotten wet. I have tried sealing them with fingernail polish, laminate, etc. but they bleed when I put it on. I don't recommend using them.

3. Our markers work well to color in the black-stamped image. They do not bleed or run when I apply a sealant. You can also use the colored pencils or chalks to color in an outline stamp. You don't need too much color since they intensify when shrunk. I prefer the Fabrico markers. They provide the most vivid colors and reliable results.

4. Also remember to punch holes in plastic before shrinking and make sure the holes are larger than you want them. When I use the regular size hole punch it shrinks down to the 1/16 in. size.

5. I have found that one of the best sealants is plain, cheap, clear fingernail polish. I have also found that using fingernail polish allows you to sprinkle on glitter while it is still damp. (I made a very cute Frosty pin using red, green and dazzling diamonds glitter doing this.) You can then add another coat of polish if you wish. You can also use Crystal Effects as a
water-proof sealant over SU! standard markers. This way they won’t smudge if they get wet. It also creates a nice shiney, smooth look to finish your shrink art.

6. One of the best tips I ever got was to make a shrink ruler. Using a Fabrico marker just trace a regular ruler onto a piece of shrink plastic and then shrink it down (use the oven for this). You will then be able to determine what an image that measures say 3 inches will shrink down to by looking at your 3 inch mark on your shrunken ruler.

7. Use Crystal Effects to glue on pin backs, magnets, etc. You can also use a hot glue gun but it is messier.

8. The metallic colors do NOT do well on the poly shrink unless you do an extra step after you shrink (keep reading). Also, the metallic colors seem to bubble when you shrink the plastic by heat gun so I would use the oven. The black poly shrink with the Gold Colorbox or Encore pads looks striking. Pigment ink will not dry on poly shrink unless you emboss it - just like vellum, coated cardstock and other non-porous surfaces. When you use pigment inks shake on some clear embossing powder AFTER shrinking and heat again so ink will be sealed. If this step is not done the pigment ink will wipe off or smear. If you try to put the clear embossing powder on before you shrink, it will bubble and slide off and create a real mess.

9. Fabricos do not need to be sealed and really do work the best. The ancient page pads would work well too because they also would be permanent and not require sealing.

10. It is also important to note poly shrink has a grain and if you stamp the same image twice, once horizontal and once vertically they will come out differently. Very important to know this if you are doing earrings.

11. Shrink plastic using one of two methods; either your embossing heat gun or in the oven.

Heat gun method: Place plastic on a heat resistant surface. Use a chop stick to gently hold down the plastic as you are aiming the heat gun 2 inches over plastic. It will curl as it shrinks. This is normal and will flatten out once entire shrinking process is completed. When it is not shrinking anymore, use the back of the wood block to smash the still warm plastic completely flat.

Oven method: Preheat oven to 275 degrees (not to exceed 300 degrees). Place poly shrink on a Teflon cookie sheet.
Hint: To minimize the distortion during shrinking it is important to shink your designs slowly by maintaining a low temperature in your oven. Remember that oven temperatures vary from oven to oven so if your designs curl too rapidly,your oven is too HOT regardless of setting! Watch your design shrink while it bakes! As if shrinks, it may curl up into a ball but then it will open up and flatten out. When it is completely flat you may remove it from the oven. Use a spatula to carefully place design on a flat surface to cool. It will take approximately 3-5 minutes to shrink.

12. Poly shrink comes in different “colors.” Opaque, black, clear and white. The opaque and white seem to not show the sanding marks as much but you can get rid of all sanding marks even on the transluscent by adding a coat of sealant (clear fingernail polish or Crystal Effects.) The black is great for using gold Colorbox or Encore pads.

**Poly Shrink Projects:

1. Use the shape punches on the poly shrink to create embellishments and charms. I have used the leaf punches and colored with fall Pearl Ex colors . Be sure to punch a hole at the top of the shape before shrinking. The leaves have made cute additions to fall cards after being threaded onto the metallic ribbon. The snowflakes are a very nice touch on a swing tag for a box like the one in the April Stampin' News issue. Another thing you can do is to use the shape punch as a “background" to attach another shrink item on top. Just be sure the shrunken punched shape will be a bit larger than the other shrunken image. Use the Crystal Effects to glue them together. This is a very nice finishing touch!!

2. Use it to make jewelry. For example use the Stipple Butterfly stamped in gold on black poly shrink as earrings. I like the rainbow Fabrico pad on white too.

3. Use poly shrink to make book marks. Cut desired length and width keeping in mind what you want your finished size to be (use your poly shrink ruler you’ve made to help you determine this.) Stamp, color images, punch hole in top and shrink. Or you can just make standard card stock book marks and just add poly shrink matching “charms” attached to the book mark itself or attached to tassles. The Button Bear set is cute for doing this. Stamp on cardstock and then shrink a button bear on white poly shrink and put it on end of ribbon for the bookmark.

4. Make a pin wheel topper for a pencil. Cut a square shape and then cut from each corner, angled in towards the center. Do not cut all the way in, leave about a 1/2 inch circle in the center. Punch the very middle of that cent circle. This is where you will put a straight pin through to attach to the eraser. Then use any stamp to create a colorful pattern. Shrink and bend poly shrink to resemble pinwheel while it is still warm. Attach to pencil top with pin.

5. Make lapel pin using the Button Bear set. The Bear was my main stay for the pin, I punched the holes in her feet and poly shrink the accessories. Colored and attached them with the little metal jewelry “O” rings (jump rings) that you can get at your craft store near the jewlery section. I then put a self adhesive pin on the back.

6. Make a charm bracelet. Just choose your favorite stamps or choose a similar theme. Stamp and shrink as usual. Using the jump rings attach these charms to your bracelet.

7. Create poly shrink gift tags for Christmas or any other gift-giving occassions.

8. Make REALLY cute doll pins using the poly shrink plastic for the head and body and wire for the arm.legs and hair. Too cute!

9. Make a poly shrink necklace. It is a little book that is worn as a necklace.
Poly Shrink Necklace Ideas: To make them a bit less extravagant leave off the brass jump ring-book bindings and the beads. You can fill them with mini phone book pages so the person you are giving them to can put their favorite or most used phone numbers in it. I also thought of printing out mini calendar pages and making them into little calendars. You can also scan old family pictures and put those in there. . . . sort of a mini photo album.