Friday, October 15, 2010

A Little (or a lot) of Stress Can Be Good.

A little or a lot of stress can be can good, that's for you to decide when trying to achieve that distressed look on your projects or photographs. I distress nearly everything every project I create; photographs included. Give me my favorite scissors, emery board, and some ink and I'm as happy as a child who just scored "the mother load" of candy while out trick-or-treating. Some you may be sitting there thinking, "no way am I going to do anything to my photographs--what if I ruin them?" Have no fear, I have some tips and little "picture by picture" tutorial for you to help you break out of that shell and get that shabby chic look you so love, but are afraid to try.

Distressing With Scissors
Whether you are a card maker or just strictly a scrapbooker we all have a pair (or two) of these lying around. You got it, scissors! Big or small, decorative or good old cutting shears; it doesn't matter which you have because any pair of them will work to add a little shabbiness to your project. In this project here I created. I used a pair of decorative scissors (Victorian style) to cut off the upper left corner of my photograph, lightly inked the edge I cut off, and there you have it-- just a little bit of distressing, but it adds a little flare to the photograph.

Here in this next series of three photographs I want to share a little tip with you. Something that I've found when distressing with my scissor, whether it be paper or photographs, the closer you hold the blade of the scissors to 90 degrees with your paper the more distressed your edging will be.

In this first one you see how I'm holding my scissors and they are probably at around 30 to 40 degrees . It's not all torn up but there is some fraying.
Here is this picture you can see that my scissors are at almost 90 degrees to my paper and you can see that my paper is doing more tearing and fraying.

This here is the piece of paper I was distressing and you can see how the left side is more distressed and torn. This was the side I was holding my scissors more to 90 degrees. The right side however, has only some very light distressing, but enough to give you that feel. It's up to you to decide how much distressing is too much or too little.

Distressing Your Photographs

Now I have a little tutorial for your on how to do some extreme distressing to your photographs. You don't have to do all of these steps stop wherever you like, it's your project and only you can know when to say, "that's enough for me".

This is what you will need:
Your black and white photograph
craft mat
distressing ink (whichever your color preference--my favorite is vintage photo)
mister bottle filled with water
sanding block or emery board
scissors or edge distresser

The reason I chose this photograph to distress was for two reasons; 1.) I was angry when I got them printed that for some reason the date came printed out on this one and they were not supposed to and 2.) I am creating a LO with that old Route 66 in mind. Also, some of you may be asking, "Do I have to use distressing inks?" My answer to you would be no, but I highly recommend them. The distressing inks formula stays wet longer which will allow your to blend in with a sponge or even add other colors before drying too quickly. If you are not going to use distressing inks, then you should at least be using a dye based ink, again because it will stay wet longer for you to blend on the photographs. You will, however, want to completely avoid pigment inks. They really get "gloppy" and are meant more for embossing (or distressing the edges of paper).
Step One: Rub a good bit of ink all over your craft mat. Mist your blotch of ink with your mini mister filled with water. The more water your add the lighter your color will be.

Step Two: Flip your photograph over and dab your photo into your puddle of ink until you have achieved the coverage you want.

Here is what my photograph looked like after inking. Some of you may want to here take a sponge dauber and rub it in a small circular motion to blend it in all over for an even coverage. I chose not to do that this time because I want that feel like my photograph was sitting in a car garage and someone spilled an oil can over it.

Step Three: You will then after letting your ink dry to where it is just tacky (so it pulls more of the photo away) lightly sand over your edges. Again, I went for drastic and did more of "strike then pull away" motion moving from the inside to outside edge.
Step Four: Run your edge distresser along the edges to finish them off. Some of you may not have and edge distesser and that is fine. That is why we showed you how to use those scissors to distress your edges. However, if you are looking to purchase one here are three great choices:

1)Making Memories Edge Scrapper (this comes in their distressing kit that retails for around $30)

2) Tim Holtz Paper Distresser (retails for around $6)

3) Heidi Swapp Edge Distresser (this is my favorite and the cheapest $.99 is all it retails for)

This was my final result from all the distressing I showed you. I achieved my goals; there is no longer a date in the bottom right and I have the feel that I want. Now, I did end up going back and add one more step. I went back over my sanded edges with a sponge dauber with some Staz-On Timber Brown ink to fill in the sanding marks to make it a little more subtle.

Hate The Mess From Distressing?

So, you don't like all the mess that ink, edge distressers, or sanding bring. Well, get yourself a photo editing program and you can still distress your pictures. Any good editing program has filters that you can add to distort or distress your photos. Maybe your a little more advanced with photo editing. Why not try adding a texture layer to your photograph as an overlay. Or maybe, you just want to do something simple like change the hue of your pictures. Take for example here below in this layout that I've created:


I've changed the hue of my photographs to match the shades of purple I have in my papers. I did take my distressing another step here and very lightly sanded all the edges of the three photographs, but it was just a little.
Now matter how your look at a little bit or a lot of stress is good for your projects to add another layer of depth, capture your eyes, or even hide something that you don't want to be seen. It's up to you to decide how far you want. Whatever you do, don't stress about the distressing! Let your eyes tell you when and it will all fall into to place for you. Now, go enjoy the stress!

We are seeking submissions for layouts that use distressing on them. If you have a layout that features distressing on it please send it in to All submissions are due by October 22nd, 2010. If you have a blog, we would prefer that you send us the link to your project on your blog. If not, please remember to keep your image to under 200K! Remember to tell us your full name and where you are from!


BrendaB said...

I love that technique for inking and sanding your photos!

MommaSaid said...

My jaw has dropped upon learning how to distress my photos!!!! WOW, I can't wait to try this!

Gram's Treasures said...

Very interesting tutorial. Thank you so much!

Tina said...

Great tutorial. And a lovely layout. TFS