Friday, December 25, 2009

Distressing paper tutorial ~ December 25, 2009

Hello and Merry Christmas to all of our followers! Whatever your faith or family traditions, we hope that you have had time to set aside and be with those you love.   We look forward to all that 2010 will bring!

Okay, let's talk about distressing paper. If you haven't embraced this technique yet, I hope that you will give it a try! It is a fun and inexpensive way to make your layouts, cards and altered objects uniquely yours.  There really is no right or wrong way to do it as long as you achieve results that you like.

 Below is a photo of some of my favorite chalks, inks and stain. I usually like to use the chalk or ink along the edges of my paper before I start distressing them with any kind of tool.  However, you can do it before or after, depending on the look you like. I usually do both before AND after!  Leah and Nanne have both talked about chalks and ink recently and their tutorials are still available if you would like to refresh your memory. I will share that my ColorBox Chestnut Roan inkpad is one of my faves.  I use it to darken my paper edges (instead of using it for stamping) and love the really dark, rich color it adds ... even more so than my catseye chalk.

There are a number of distressing tools on the market like the Heidi Swapp edge distresser and the Tim Holtz paper distresser.  However, My favorite tools are ones that most of you have right there in your home. First, the edge of your craft scissor blade, sandpaper, emory board,  craft knife, or steel wool. Other favorites are my seam ripper, a serrated knife from the kitchen and my fingernail.

 You can do your edge distressing with your paper dry .. or you can moisten it with a spray bottle or something like a baby wipe. If you're doing a wet technique, you can get more curling and it's perfect for using your fingernail to do the tearing. I recommend trying your hand at this on scrap paper before using some of your favorites! Get comfortable with it and experiment with different weights of paper as they will respond differently. Also, wet paper is more limber so you will distress more lightly acrosss a moistened edge.

Here is photo from the Internet of the Tim Holtz distresser.  Mine seems to be MIA at the moment. My craft room is full of Christmas gifts and wrap at the moment and my scrapping tools are buried  :)

Below is s photo of my project BEFORE I did any distressing.  See how crisp the edges of the red are
against the green.

My all time favorite way to dry distress paper (at the moment) is with the edge of my scissors or a serrated knife.  I try to hold the blade at a 90 degreee angle to my paper. This will give you a very "fluffy" edge and can even be used on letters, mats, and embellishments.   Of course, you will want to be careful that you not cut yourself as you work.  This process stirs up alot of paper dust, so I usually work over my trash can or dust myself off afterward.

Notice how the red now has a white edge to it, as well as the patterned paper which also has been distressed and chalked.  I just love the character it adds.

Here I am going back over the edges with my Chestnut Roan catseye chalk. Then I distressed it some more.

Another way to distress paper is by tearing it. There are tearing tools on the market like the Fiskars one below or you can just do it by hand tearing towards you with the pattern on top.  This will reveal your white or colored core.

You see the navy blue cardstock which I tore working with my right hand and tearing towards my body. This is one that I just did by hand with no special tool.  The beauty of this is that you can really do as much or as little as you like. Next to the torn paper is a sample of "crumpled" paper.  I love to crumple my paper by hand, then flatten it out and sand over it.  The sanding really brings out the lines and gives your paper a very aged look. If I'm using a lighter color, I will often spray my paper with the Walnut Stain to age it even more.

Leah talked last week about embossing .. another of my favorite ways to distress your paper. So, I won't elaborate on that but thought I'd mention a tool you might already have but don't pull out too often .. your paper crimper.  It's handy for an even, corrugated look.  This is a photo of mine in case you don't know what one looks like.

And this is a sample of what your paper looks like after crinkling it.  Wonderful way to achieve the "in" look of corrugated cardboard but maintain your photo safety with archival products.

Well, hopefully this tutorial gets your mind thinking about how you can incorporate distressing into your work.  I thought I would close with my finished project as my way of saying Merry Christmas!  Leave me a comment if you have any questions. I'd be happy to help. Have a great week!

Hugs, Sandi


  1. Great tute Sandi.. I can't wait try the wet/damp paper method..that's a new one for me.. Getting ready start on this years xmas album and these steps will sure come in handy...Thanx GF..

  2. Thanks for the great tut and the reminder of a few techniques I haven't done in a long time!

    One of my favorite "wet" methods is to use the Distress Vintage Photo color of ink and to use a baby wipe to grab some of the ink before dampening the edge of the paper. My fingers always get messy with ink but wow I love the really aged look it gives to the paper edges. But you remind me of the wet method because I haven't done it in a while! :)

    Chestnut Roan is also my favorite Colorbox color. :)

  3. know I love distressing and I am so happy you shared this amazing tute...I know there are techniques I have not tried and love to try new things....thanx so much for sharing your talent and creativity with all of us!

  4. GREAT ideas Sandi! You know after you had mentioned this to us in prior emails, when I recently did a LO, Once Upon A Time, well I spritzed the flowers I was doing (using Sandy W. tutorial) with water to make crumpling the paper easier. I would never had thought of that without you mentioning dampening paper! What a clever idea! And I also appreciate you showing us how to simply use items we already have at home. No need to run out to the store! (well unless you want to!)
    Thanks again for putting this together!

    And Happy Happy Holidays!!!

  5. Awesome tute! I need to get into distressing it gives it so much character! Love it. Staci

  6. This is something I need to do more of. Thanks for the tips Sandi! (Your layout is gorgeous!) xxD

  7. Great tutorial! I distress everything! In fact, I don't think my pages look complete until I do my distressing... but I loved some of the new ideas you had... can't wait to try a few! Thanks for sharing with all of us! Barb


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