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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Simple Set Saturday: Straight Without Rules

I am addicted to the simple repetition in design. I love the look of images or shapes in a nice neat row. The problem I face is that I despise having to pull out my ruler or a stamp positioner every time I want to do this same simple look with a “clean and simple” style card. One-layer cards are even more arduous and it is definitely more noticeable when things are out of alignment. To avoid doing too much math and tangling with my ruler on a regular basis, I devised this simple method to ensure nice straight lines with ease.

Stamps: Cosmos from Floriculture and sentiment from Bits and Pieces

The main “tools” for achieving this look are lined re-positionable notes. The lines come in handy over and over. My battered but well-used stamp mat also has a printed grid pattern that constantly proves useful. Combine both of these items with some cling-mounted rubber stamps and a good acrylic block with a grid and your days of measuring may be over. You just need to line things up and stamp away!

The key to this style of card is to leave lots of open space on the card. With this simple masking method, you can still have lots of pop and pizzazz while leaving the majority of the card clean!

Tip 1: When working on one-layer clean and simple cards, remember to keep clean and simple yourself! Wash your hands regularly as stray ink inevitably finds its way onto all that fabulous white space.

Tip 2: Inexpensive cotton balls are wonderful for sponging. Their inconsistent texture allows for a variety of looks. I love all the unpredictable streaking and fun look when pounced.

Supplies Used:
  • White or light cardstock
  • 3 complimentary colors of ink (Ranger Distress Ink – Summer Set)
  • 1 black or dark ink (Tuxedo Black Memento Ink)
  • 3 sponges, daubers or cotton balls
  • lined re-positionable notes
  • square punch
  • a stamp mat with a grid pattern or graph paper
  • acrylic block(s) with grid lines

Step 1:
To begin, I gathered my supplies on my stamp mat. If your stamp mat does not have a grid pattern, you can also use graph paper. I then cut my cardstock to form a simple card base. For my inks, I selected the Summer Set of Ranger Distress Ink colors – Picked Raspberry, Mowed Lawn and Salty Ocean.

Step 2:
To create a nice vertical line from which to line up my trio of squares, I used the grid on my mat to line up one re-positionable note. I then used the lines on the note and the mat grid to place a second re-positionable note. Lining up the lines on the note helps me to keep everything straight. Note: now your card is also securely attached to your mat.

Step 3:
Next, it is time to make the mask. On a third re-positionable note, align your square punch with one of the ruled-lines to keep your shape straight and punch. Move your punch over to put a little distance between the two shapes and punch again, lining up the punch as before. I always use my punch upside down so that I can easily see what I am punching.

Step 4:
Align the edge of your mask note with those already laid down. Here, I generally use the grid pattern on the mat to help me put one of the squares as close to the middle of my card as possible. Once, I have the mask set, I used my cotton ball to sponge ink into the square openings. I always sponge toward the middle of the opening to avoid any ink sneaking under the mask.  Keeping the hot color in the middle, I sponged Mowed Lawn into the uppermost square and the Picked Raspberry into the middle square.

Step 5:
Now, here’s the important trick. I life the mask and turn it 180 degrees and reposition the middle square back over the pink sponged square. I now have the mask lined up for the third square and can ink in my final square with Salty Ocean Distress Ink. When the mask is removed, I have 3 nicely aligned squares of colour.

Step 6:
I again used repetition to complete the card. To create more interest, I varied how the my chosen image – a cosmos bud from the Floriculture plate - was stamped but ensured that the bud was always within the inked squares.

This technique can be varied to create different looks. By placing the mask higher on the card, you can allow images to fall outside your sponged squares.

For this card, I was careful to practice on scrap paper to check the position of the children before stamping onto my lovely sponged squares. I discovered that my square was slightly too small, so I used a slightly larger square punch and created a new mask.

Stamps: Swingers and sentiment from Relish Reading
For a more “contained” look, after I had sponged my squares, I masked the middle square so I could stamp an image directly onto the upper square mask.

I repeated with the other two squares. Using the grid on my acrylic block, I could ensure that the inked image fell consistently onto each square by lining the grid up with the corner of the square mask. I also pounced the cotton ball onto the masks to create a slightly different look for my inked squares.

Stamps: Sally from Relish Reading and sentiment from Bits and Pieces

Finally, you can create a slightly different effect by positioning the mask diagonally to start. 

Move the mat at a 45 degree angle, re-aligning the mask over the lowest square.

The result is a tremendous triangle with a lovely space for a special sentiment.

For this card, I offset my image, a geometric flower from Just Sayin', to give a feeling of movement to the card.

Stamps: flower and sentiment from Just Sayin'
I hope you have fun with this super easy technique! 


  1. Great tutorial, love the bottom card. Going to give this a try.

  2. Great explanation this will make kife so much easier in the duture...Thanks for sharing this!!
    Carol tadden x

  3. Wow, what a simple and great tutorial for aligning stamps. Thanks, I need to try this technique.

  4. Thanks for a great tutorial for clean and simple cards!!!


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