Last weekend, I finally bit the bullet and purchased my first Copic markers! It's exciting and mildly panic inducing all at the same time. I have been teetering on the fence for a while now about investing in these premium brand alcohol ink markers, but the financially savvy me (who is always my voice of reason) shushed the inner "do it, do it" voice. I have had the Spectrum Noir alcohol ink markers for approximately five years now and while they have worked good enough for me, I was ready for, 1) more variety in color, and, 2) a better base build. Today I'd like to talk about why I finally made the switch and what I bought. In tomorrow's post, I will talk in more detail about the Copic marker itself.
Please let me begin by saying that purchasing any high quality product is an investment. Copic markers are no different. While my husband and I are fortunate enough to be financially secure, I still saved up money to purchase these markers, and, I have a financial plan in place to pay off the credit card bill, so that I incur no debt. I mean after all, these are just markers! I did not make this large purchase on a whim, nor to "keep up with Joneses." No one should be pressured into buying anything that is living beyond their means.
Why Spectrum Noir?
I initially purchased Spectrum Noir alcohol ink markers because a well-knowledgeable friend recommended them as being a middle-ground between the more pricey Copics and less superior quality brand markers. Yes, I have been generally happy with these markers and they have served me well. They are, as Ginny stated, a happy medium, that would suffice for novice, beginner or intermediate artists. I would definitely recommend them to anyone who could not afford to purchase Copics. They are a quality made marker that will last a very long time with proper care, cleaning, ink refills and replacement nibs.
I own 202 of the current 216 markers and probably about 50 refill bottles (for my most used colors). On average, the Spectrum Noir markers run about $2-$3 per marker. Refills (with dropper) are currently around $5.75 per .30 ml bottle. You can fill each marker more than a dozen times. For reference, I found both markers and refills cheapest on Carpe Diem markers, while others recommend Dick Blick. As in anything I do, I always compare prices. You will see some rather significant cost deviation across websites.
My biggest complaint with the Spectrum Noir markers is limitation on color. It seemed that so many of the Spectrum Noir markers did not have a large difference in their colors (despite being labeled as varying in intensity). I found AB1 and AB 2 (aqua blue) nearly identical in color. Also, as per the color intensity scale, AB1 should be VERY light in color and it was not. Which leads me to my second biggest complaint about the Spectrum Noir markers - their light colors were not very light. They were very pigmented. AB1 should barely have a blue color visible, yet it was nearly turquoise on paper! I was beginning to become frustrated with the lack of light/pale color options available.
My third complaint was that when you opened the marker (on either end) the bullet or chisel tip often popped off with the cap and the entire ink tube was exposed. And unfortunately, this happened A LOT! Many of them were able to be fixed, but I had called the company at least three times to complain about this issue. Spectrum Noir Customer Service has been very positive in dealing with the issue and they did send me replacement markers free of charge. But, it was still a real nuisance, and at times rendered markers unusable in the middle of a class.
What Did I Buy?
I purchased 3 sets of the Copic Sketch markers. According to the Copic website the Sketch marker is the most popular and offers the most color variety. Each set has 72 markers in it. I purchased sets A, B and D. Simply because after reviewing each set's color inclusion chart, these were the best colors for me.
Yes, this was a very HUGE first time investment! No, I did not decide to purchase them individually or even in 6, 12 or 32 packs. Ultimately, it still is cheaper per marker when you purchase them in larger sets. After price shopping, I found all three sets actually cheapest through independent seller on Amazon, despite everyone saying Dick Blick was the cheapest. Even with 10% off AND free shipping, Dick Blick was still more than $90 for set A than Amazon was!
You don't even have to look up the prices for yourself, because in full disclosure, I will tell you exactly what I paid for each set:
Set A - $293.97
Set B - $319.19
Set D - $351.40
Yes, I spent $964.56! In. One. Day. For. Markers.
Feel free to call me crazy now, my husband surely will, so please, let's not tell him!! : )
If you do the math (as I did) that comes down to $4.47 per marker . On average each markers costs $6-$8 depending upon where you purchase them, so no matter what, I have still saved significantly by purchasing these larger 72-count sets.
The Plus Side
Yay for small blessings! The good news is that the marker trays and carrying case I currently have for my Spectrum Noir markers will work for the Copics. I will not need to purchase anything additional!
Yes, for those wondering, I did not buy blindly or without a test drive! I have used Copic markers before in a variety of professional classes and by borrowing a friends' (when I needed a lighter color that Spectrum Noir did not have) so I know that I will be very happy with my purchase.
I hope I have given you a well thought out dialogue of why I decided to switch from Spectrum Noir to Copic. I do believe in education and being well informed before decision making! If you live nearby or attend any of my classes, YOU will now get to use these markers at your next event!
Thanks for visiting! Tomorrow I will share more detail about the Copic marker itself and what that coloring system is all about.
Hello readers and TGIF! I feel like we need to have a party today because it's Friday and we've all made it through the week! So, I'm bringing out the Lawn Fawn Costume Party stamp set and the Lawn Fawn Shadow Box to celebrate! These little trick-or-treaters are ready for the weekend too!
The base of this shadow box card is made from Basic Black cardstock. I followed the Lawn Fawn Introduction to Shadow Box card tutorial on YouTube in order to assemble this shadow box die. If you own any of the Lawn Fawn interactive dies, I highly recommend watching the "Introduction" tutorials on YouTube, done by Kelly Marie Alvarez (the owner of Lawn Fawn) for the best step-by-step tutorials. After assembling the shadow box frame and hillside pieces (also in black cardstock), I stamped each of the images in Memento Tuxedo Black ink on Neenah Solar White Smooth cardstock. I colored the images with my Spectrum Noir makers and added highlights to each image with a Uniball White Gel Pen. I added the images to the shadow box card with tear tape for strength. Lastly, I added a coat of Clear Wink of Stella to the images for added sparkle.
Here is the Lawn Fawn Costume Party stamp set that I used to create today's card:
Thanks for visiting and I hope you all have a wonderfully creative weekend!
Hello friends and happy Thursday! I hope you are all having a nice week! I have been sharing a lot of interactive and detailed cards on my website lately, so today I'm sharing something much more simple and quick. This would be an excellent card to make multiples of for Halloween - if you make 50+ cards like I do! I also recognize that my readers are all of various cardmaking levels from beginners to advanced, so I hope to inspire each of you by offering a little of everything.
The base of this A2 sized card is made from Neenah Solar White Smooth cardstock. The first matted layer is a black frame that I die cut using the Hello Bluebird Gallery Frame dies. Behind the black frame is a piece of Lemon-Lime cardstock. I stamped all of the ghost-like images using Memento Tuxedo Black ink on scrap pieces of Neenah White Smooth cardstock. I cut the images with the coordinating MFT Fab-Boo-Lous Friends dienamics and adhered them to the card using foam adhesive. On a thin scrap piece of white cardstock, I stamped the sentiment in Memento Tuxedo Black ink. I notched both ends of the sentiment strip and adhered it to the card using foam adhesive for added dimension. Lastly, I added a coat of Clear Wink of Stella to all of the images for added sparkle.
Here is the stamp set Fab-Boo-Lous Friends from My Favorite Things that I used to create today's card:
Thank you for visiting and have a great day!
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Hello crafty friends! Today I am sharing this fun card over on the Butterfly Reflections Ink, website. This card combines my love of Halloween, interactive components, cute critters and candy! What's not to love!?
Last weekend I was in Vermont on an annual craft retreat and I brought my Lawn Fawn Double Slider Surprise Die with me because, well, I've owned it for over two years now and it's high time I learned HOW to use it! I think the Lawn Fawn Double Slider Surprise is such a cool card, but I was very intimidated by putting it all together. I strongly encourage newbies to watch the Introductory Videos on YouTube by Kelly Marie Alvarez (the owner of Lawn Fawn) and they are a game changer. Whether it is the Double Slider Surprise Die, the Lawn Fawn Pivot Pop Up Die, the Lawn Fawn Magic Picture Changer Die or any other Lawn Fawn product, she walks you through step-by-step instructions on how to assemble these products. I promise, it makes all the difference and you will feel confident and be successful in putting this card together. If I can do it all by myself, so can you!
The base of my card is a smoky slate cardstock. I lined the card with a piece of chevron paper. To create the base of the Double Slider Surprise component I used an avocado green cardstock. I stamped all of the images from the My Favorite Things Frightfully Sweet stamp set in Memento Tuxedo Black ink on Neenah Solar White Smooth cardstock. I also added the pumpkins from the Lawn Fawn Costume Party stamp set and the ghosts are from the Lawn Fawn Happy Haunting stamp set. I colored in all of the images with Copic markers and added highlights to many of the images with a white gelly roll pen. I die cut the images using the coordinating My Favorite Things Frightfully Sweet dienamics, the Lawn Fawn Costume Party Lawn Cuts and the Lawn Fawn Happy Haunting Lawn Cuts.
I stamped the "pull here" tab on each side of the sliders in Memento Tuxedo Black ink using the Lawn Fawn Push Here stamp set.
*Tip - When you adhere the images to the two outside slider component of the card, you must adhere them directly to the card. You cannot add pop dots or foam adhesive to the sliding component, because they will no slide in appropriately!
For the front of the slider component, I added the colored images with foam adhesive and adhered the images to the card. On a scrap piece of avocado cardstock, I stamped the sentiment in Memento Tuxedo Black ink and adhered it to the top of the slider component with foam adhesive. Lastly, I added a coat of Clear Wink of Stella of the images for added sparkle.
I hope you have enjoyed today's interactive card! After putting a few of these slider cards together over the weekend, I am no longer intimidated by assembling this die and I hope you will try it too because it really has such a "WOW" effect!
Thanks for visiting and have a wonderfully creative day!
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Hello! If you are new to my website, welcome! I'm happy you stopped by and hope you find creativity and inspiration during your time here.
Over the weekend I was in Vermont on a craft retreat with some fellow crafting friends. My main objective was coloring, LOTS of coloring! But, I also brought a few interactive dies from Lawn Fawn that I hadn't put together on my own yet. When it comes to learning something new, I find that I learn best when I set the time aside to really focus. For me, craft retreats are a great way to do this. However, for this particular card, I asked if anyone in the group wanted to learn how to assemble the Lawn Fawn Double Slider Surprise die too and, to no surprise, they all did!
I strong encourage newbies (like myself) and even those who might need a refresher to watch the Lawn Fawn Double Slider Surprise Die Introductory Video on YouTube by Kelly Marie Alvarez (the owner of Lawn Fawn). In this video, she walks you through step-by-step how to create a card using the slider die. You can also pause as you go, so that you can learn at your own pace. Once you learn to assemble the sliding mechanism, you can decorate the card however you want. First, I watched Kelly's video and began writing down instructions as I went, so that I could then in turn teach my friends what to do. I'm not going to lie, there were some significant struggles and frustrations, enough for me to probably never teach the card again (for those of you already asking about stamp camps)! But, I was able to successfully assemble my card, and in fact, made three cards last weekend using this die which I will share over the next few days.
The base of my A2 sized card is made from Pumpkie Pie cardstock. I cut a 5 1/4" x 4" piece of scrap cardstock in a woodgrain pattern to mat directly on top of the base of my card. I stamped all of these adorable images from the new My Favorite Things Sweather Weather in Memento Tuxedo Black ink on Neenah Solar White Smooth cardstock. I colored all of the images in Spectrum Noir Alcohol Ink markers and die cut the images using the coordinating My Favorite Things Sweater Weather In the Woods dienamics (die cuts). I added highlights to each images using a Uniball white gel pen. I stamped all sentiments in Memento Tuxedo Black ink as well.
Here is the new Sweater Weather In The Woods stamp set from My Favorite Things that I used to create today's card:
I hope you have enjoyed this fun and interactive card. I'm so happy that I took the time to learn how to use this die, because once I got over my initial fears, I'm so in love with the result and frankly, found it easy enough to put together (by the third time anyway)!
Thanks for visiting and have a wonderfully creative day!
Hello friends and TGIF! My weekend started a bit early last night as we traveled to Rutland, Vermont, for an annual craft retreat. Be sure to follow along on my Instastories as I share some behind-the-scenes photos. I promise nothing salacious or scandalous, we aren't big drinkers and most of us are in bed by midnight!! : )
Today I am sharing the first of my winter/holiday cards! I know, I know, some of you are like, girl hold off on the PSL bullcaca already. . . So, if snowy scenes and white tailed deer in September aren't your jam, sorry!
The base of this A2 sized card is made from Neenah Solar White Smooth cardstock. I cut a frame around the scene from Crumb Cake Cardstock. *Please continue reading below for more information about my alcohol ink background. I did add "snow" by simply drawing in dots using a white gel pen. Using the Heffy Doodle Stitched Slopey Joe border dies, I die cut the snowbank from white glimmer paper. I die cut the birch trees from the Lawn Fawn Birch Tree Lawn Cuts and white cardstock. The brown tree in the foreground I fussy cut by hand. I stamped each of the images in Memento Tuxedo Black ink on white cardstock and colored them with Spectrum Noir Alcohol Ink markers. I added highlights to each colored image with a Uniball White Gel pen. I adhered all of the images to the card using 3M foam adhesive for added dimension. Lastly, I stamped the sentiment Blushing Bride ink on a thin strip of white cardstock. I notched the right end and adhered it to the upper left corner of the card.
Because I am not currently creating video content and tutorials on my website, I highly recommend checking out this Easy Alcohol Ink Background Tutorial by Jennifer McGuire. She has created a very simple introduction to working with alcohol inks to create some basic backgrounds. This was the first video I watched after purchasing my alcohol inks and then I just spent time playing around with them! The great thing is there is no right or wrong when it comes to art. You just have fun (and usually make a mess) with it! *My only tip would be that you don't need to spend your money purchasing polysynthetic Yupo Paper at nearly $1.00 per sheet. You can use the reverse side of any high quality photo paper (like this one by Kirkland) and achieve the same results!
These adorable deer are from the Newton's Nook Deer Friend stamp set:
Have a great weekend, friends! I hope it is equal parts relaxing and enjoyable.
More alcohol ink backgrounds:
I don't know if I'm more excited to share today's card with you because it's a beautiful new stamp set that I'm loving, or because of the surprisingly beautiful color combination! You might recall that last Friday I shared this Fall Foliage wreath card with you that was inspired by Davina's September Mood Board. I was very skeptical about the crushed curry, blush pink, mint and teal colors, but pleasantly surprised with the end result! So much so, in fact that I wanted to create another card using these same colors.
Here is the Butterfly Reflections, Ink Mood Board that inspired me:
The base of this A2 sized card is made from Crumb Cake cardstock. Using the Gina Marie Scalloped Stitched Nesting Rectangle dies, I cut the largest die from Neenah Solar White Smooth cardstock. I heat embossed the sentiment in gold embossing powder on the lower left corner of this white cardstock. On a separate sheet of white cardstock, I stamped the butterflies twice in Versamark ink and heat embossed them with gold embossing powder. I colored in the butterflies using my Spectrum Noir Alcohol Ink markers and then die cut them using the coordinating Confetti Cuts dies. Lastly, I added the butterflies to the card using 3M foam adhesive for added dimension.
Here is the Butterfly Blossoms stamp set and coordinating Confetti Cuts dies from Reverse Confetti (available through Butterfly Reflections, Ink):
I hope you have enjoyed today's card. Thank you for visiting and have a wonderfully creative day!
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Hello friends! Cheers to Wednesday, you've made it halfway through the week! Today I am sharing over on the Butterfly Reflections Ink website. Would you believe that I own ALL the Tim Holtz Distress Oxide inks, but am too afraid to use them!? It's true! I see the beautiful backgrounds and unique watercolor designs that other artists create with these water reactive inks, but when I try to do it, the end result looks like I let an unattended 5-year-old loose in my craft room! I struggle with uniform blending, too much/too little water and the root of all evil - comparison. Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy" and I remind myself of this every time I'm scrolling Instagram and Pinterest. Today, I'm here to conquer one of my own creative fears and hopefully I can encourage you to do the same!
Today's card uses the new Fall Fox stamp set by Sugar Pea Designs. This is a "slimline" card that measures 8 1/2" long by 3 1/2" inches high. You've probably been seeing a lot of these similar style cards on social media and they are growing in popularity. The great thing about these slimline cards is that they will fit into a #10 business sized envelope without having to pay additional postage.
The base of my card is Cajun Craze cardstock. I was asking all of my crafty friends what paper to use when I want to blend the Distress Oxide inks and the universal answer was Bristol Smooth! So, I cut a sheet of Bristol Smooth paper to 8 1/4" by 3 1/4". I grabbed my Picket Fences Blender Brushes and began to rub the ink along the paper in a circular motion. The top color is Fossilized Amber, the middle color is Spiced Marmalade and the darkest (bottom) color is Aged Mahogony. I kept rubbing the blender brush through the colors until the lines faded and the colors seemed to blend more seamlessly. Honestly, this was a lot less scary than I though it would be! I also die cut the grass from the same blended cardstock using the Tucked In Turf die and adhere it to the bottom of the scene.
Using the lightest piece of brown paper from the Lawn Fawn Knock on Wood paper pack, I die cut the birch trees using the Lawn Fawn Birch Tree Lawn Cuts and adhered them to the blended background with my tape runner. Then I added the background to the card base. I stamped all of the images in Memento Tuxedo Black ink on Neenah Solar White Smooth cardstock. I colored each image with my alcohol ink markers. I added highlights to each colored image with a White Gelly Roll Pen. Then I die cut the images out with the coordinating Sugar Pea Designs Fall Fox Sugar Cuts. I stamped the sentiment at the top of the card in a medium brown ink. I began to add the images to the card using foam adhesive for added dimension.
Woohoo! I can now say that I have actually used the over $300 worth of Distress Oxide inks sitting in my craft room. And, it wasn't nearly as scary as the image I had conjured up in my mind! I hope today's post will encourage YOU to face your own creative fears, whatever they might be. Go ahead and give it a try. After all, it IS only paper! : )
Thanks for visiting and have a wonderfully creative day!
Over the weekend I had a front row seat on the creative struggle bus. I threw three cards in the trash (only to later fish out yesterday's after much thought). I jabbed my index finger with the paper piercer. I flipped over an ink pad that ruined the scalloped corner of a finished card that I actually liked! And, this wasn't my first ride on the struggle bus. Oh no. . . I'm perfectly imperfect, just like you. So, hop on and share the ride with me.
I've narrowly avoided impaling my big toe with scissors. You should have seen the wonky Irish jig I did to avoid that one. I've had Smurf blue inky manicures free of cost. I've got random ink stains on more than one white sock from every ink pad I've ever dropped. I've spilled chai tea, Bigelow hot lemon tea and even Long Island iced tea on my craft desk. Hey, don't judge. I've had faded cardstock, warped cardstock and my cat even peed on the cardstock I left lying on the floor once. We had a long talk after that one. I've accidentally thrown away teeny-tiny thin steel dies and garbage dived for them. On more than one occasion. Sometimes I score, sometimes I wince at whatever squishy gelatinous goo I've manhandled. I've bought the same stamp set twice only because I couldn't decide if I really liked it the first time, sold it, and then decided I wanted it again. Hi, I'm looking at you stupid Daisy Delight.
I've dropped $18 punches on a cement floor and broken their mechanical hearts, and with each one a little bit of mine too. I've ripped a brand new photopolymer stamp in half when pulling it off the acetate sheet. Not proud to admit that I decapitated that poor raccoon. I've spent WAY too much money indulging in my hobby, but rationalize it by saying "well, at least it's better than crack!" Still not sure which would have been more expensive. . .
I've purchased embarrassingly ridiculous expensive "rare" stamp sets on Ebay, that I tired of too quickly and tossed them into a donate bin. My mother's cloying "that's money down the drain" voice still haunts me in my sleep. I'm in the possession of over 37 stamps sets in my craft room that have NEVER been used. P.S - if there were that many Oreo cookies lingering in the house, they'd be hoovered. I've got dust bunnies on stamp shelves and, as annoying as it is, I have three stamp sets that are missing one itty-bitty stamp from each. I'm not holding onto much hope that they will ever be reunited.
Oh yes, all the things you've done, I've done them too. Gasp! I've colored outside the lines. I've burnt my finger(s) on the embossing heat gun. I've dumped entire Tupperware containers of embossing powder into plush carpeting. #Nightmare. I wear Ultrafine Prisma Glitter E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E I go. It's an artist's signature look. I've lost the caps to every glue tube known to man. And oh, the beautiful COMPLETED cards I've ruined by inky wet thumbprints and my hand-stamped signature UPSIDE DOWN on the back. %$#@&*%$!
I have made cards that I've loved and I've made cards that I've hated. I'm even still undecided about a few of them. Some days I've even threatened to never make another card again.
Is this even a threat if it's directed at no one?! Who am I scaring, really?
Please friends, while today's post is my attempt at humor, know that the creative struggle is real and I ride the same bus as you some days. I just don't share it openly. But, in a good faith effort at transparency, I recognize that many of you see "perfection." You see a vibrant and inspiring website and pretty social media pages, but behind the intentionally curated facade is a girl who has organized and re-organized her craft room at 6 AM more times than I can count. I am human just like you. I have struggled with layout, technique, color, inspiration and the root of all evil - comparison.
So, just remember on the days when every card you make seems to be crap and you have a Hansel and Gretel trail of pop dot backs around your house that it's just a bad day. Not a bad life.
Take a deep breath and start creating again tomorrow.
Hello friends and happy Monday! I hope you all had a nice weekend. Ours was fairly quiet due to all the rain, so after stamp camp on Saturday, we did a whole lot of nothing. I didn't even have the energy to craft! Shocking, I know! I tried. I went into my craft room and sat there waiting for the creativeness to take over, but nothing. Nada. The three cards I made went in the trash, I spilled an ink refill bottle and jabbed my index finger with the paper piercer. I muttered under my breath a few times and called it quits. It's okay, it happens. These are the times when I know it's better to just walk away.
Today's card was actually one of the cards I made on Saturday and plucked out of the trash Sunday night thinking it wasn't really all that bad. I neither particularly love it, nor hate it, but in an effort of full transparency on this blog, I'm going to begin sharing more of that process with you. Tomorrow I'll be discussing more about my creative struggles.
The base of this slimline ( 8 1/2" x 3 1/2") card is made from Crumb Cake cardstock. The first 8 1/4" x 3 1/4" layer is a sheet of gold foil woodgrain pattern paper I pulled from my scrap pile. Next I stamped each acorn in a series of colors - Crushed Curry, Pool Party, Crumb Cake, Pumpkin Pie and Rich Razzleberry. I die cut the acorns using the coordinating Happy Harvest acorn die. I cut an acorn top for each from Crumb Cake cardstock. I assembled the acorns onto the card using 3M foam adhesive for added dimension.
Thanks for visiting and I hope you have a great week!
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Hi, I'm Crystal!
I, Crystal Komara, am solely responsible for this blog and all of its content, including, but not limited to designs, concepts, text, images and photographs. This website is for your personal enjoyment, inspiration and to help stimulate your own creativity.
If you use one of my posts, images, classes or designs please be sure to give credit where it is due. Thank you!
Whether gifted, or from my own supply, all of my recommendations are based on items that I use and truly love, and I think you will too.