Layering Stamps | Conquering My Fear

The Story:

Ideas – I’ve got plenty of those. Stepping outside the box – no problem. The issue with the idea and the box theory is that you have to have a base set of cardmaking skills to bring the out-of-the-box ideas to fruition successfully. I lack confidence in some of those skills, so I looked for a way to hone what I had before I developed a lot of bad habits.

By the way, this is going to be a long story, so either (a) get yourself a snack and a fresh cup of tea/coffee/water and read on, or (b) skip the long sob story and go The Project section if you want details on the cards. I certainly won’t know the difference.

I learned about the Altenew Educators Certification Program (“AECP” or “the Program”) through a few crafty friends that have either finished or are in the Program. The variety of classes in the Altenew Academy were just what I needed. For a variety of other reasons (the biggest of which is that I love love love Altenew‘s product line), I decided to apply for the Program.

The first class in the AECP curriculum is All About Layering 1.

You may think, “Now Enna, layering stamps have been out for quite a while…surely you know how to use them…” The truth is that I was petrified of them. Sure I have hoarded quite a collection. I use the outline images in the stamp sets for coloring, and I use the layering images to do various techniques; however, use them as they are intended? Never. Why? Like many other people, I can’t get the darn things to line up properly. Sure, I understand the principles of how to do it, and I even understand that they don’t have to line up perfectly (they can be offset) to be beautiful; however, I tried a few times and they never looked intentionally and nonchalantly offset. So, I gave up. You have to understand, the first few layering stamps I purchased were among the first stamps I owned. At the time, I could barely hold an acrylic block without inking up the block and my fingers instead of the stamp mounted on it. And I regularly dropped said inked acrylic block on my projects! I didn’t know about stamp positioners, and I certainly hadn’t heard of a stamping platform. At that point I gave up on layering stamps.

When I got the Misti, I tried it again. Failed – the cardstock kept moving! I got the Tim Holtz Stamping Platform. Fail. I got the We R Memory Keepers Precision Press. Fail! So I gave up. Over time, I’ve seen a bunch of videos with helpful tips on layering. Did I actually try the tips? No, there was no reason to try and just fail. When Altenew started including instructions for lining up the layers in their packaging, did I try? No. Same reason.

To be completely honest though, once, when I was in a time crunch for a birthday card, I used the layering stamps to lay down a bit of color with Distress Inks, then blended them out for a watercolored look. I still ended up spending two weeks adding pencil details, so I’m not sure I actually ended up saving any time. That’s it. That’s the sum of my experience with layering stamps.

So, I walked into that Altenew All About Layering 1 class dreading the homework that I’d have to do, not only because I was afraid of layering stamps… I was one of those people that, in college and beyond, always calculated the minimum of what I needed to do in order to efficiently get to my end goal. With cardmaking, people are always saying that one must practice. And practice some more. I never did it though, because how boring is doing the same thing twice?

I couldn’t get away with that type of thinking in the AECP Program where there are required assignments and challenges; therefore, I watched each lesson within the layering class. Nicole Picadura patiently laid out the layering tips. I thought I had walked into the class with an open mind, and I was a bit appalled that I kept my nose up in the air and kept telling myself, “I already know that,” or “I’ve seen that before.” It wasn’t until I was doing the homework that I realized that this is the first time that I have seen all of the layering tips laid out in one class, and the tips built on each other. The fact that Nicole was so thorough and the fact that I had to complete the required class assignment while it was all still fresh in my mind led to my first success with layering stamps!!! Yay! I ended up doing the mass production that I’ve heard so much about but have never been able to do successfully! Yes! I actually succeeded with layering stamps!!!

The Projects:

For my first card, I stamped the Altenew Crown Bloom outline flower, leaf, and buds cluster, as well as the large flower from the Altenew Grateful Heart stamp set, using Gina K Jet Black Amalgam Ink on Strathmore 300 Bristol Smooth Cardstock. I chose that particular ink and cardstock, since there is a bit of white space in each of the images, and I wasn’t sure yet if perhaps I’d want to add some color to those spaces with alcohol markers or with watercolor markers.

I was determined to succeed, so I thought about my choice of stamping platform carefully. Ultimately, I chose the We R Memory Keepers Precision Press Advanced. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this tool, it allows me to adhere my cardstock in place on the platform with removable adhesive while mounting each layer for the images I chose on a different stamping block. Each block has holes around the perimeter that line up with pins on the platform. With your cardstock AND your stamps mounted, there’s no way that anything will move and ruin your stamping. Also, there’s no reason to rotate your cardstock and mess up your alignment. Both the platform and the stamping blocks are square, so all you have to do to rotate the image is rotate the stamping block!

I have SIX stamping blocks (it only comes with one, but you can purchase additional ones separately), so I was able to mount all of the outline images on one block, then, using Nicole’s tips, line up all of the first layer of the images on another block. The second layer went on another block, and so on.

I used Altenew Crisp Dye Inks so that I could concentrate on the layer stamping and not on the color combos. On the flower petals, I used Dew Drops and Aqualicious. On the leaves, I used Firefly and Grass Field. On the central flower petals, I used Warm Sunshine and Caramel Toffee.

I could not believe that I got the stamping lined up pretty well! I treated myself to a cookie for the success! And I’ll even show you a close up.

Oh! I forgot to mention one more thing that I kept in mind. During an Altenew workshop in Dallas, Tasnim Ahmed mentioned in passing that, when doing layered stamping, try to resist the urge to press down too hard on your block or stamp platform door when stamping. If your stamped image looks blotchy, give it a second, since dye ink needs a moment to soak into the paper. If you immediately ink the image again and press down really hard, the result will be bleeding of the ink outside of the intended areas. I’ve heard this a million times in the past from other cardmakers, but I really didn’t comply. I think this might have contributed to what I thought was my stamps not lining up in the past. I am very very heavy handed!

Back to the card – I wanted to warm up the image, so I colored in some of the white areas with a light yellow Copic Marker. Then, I added a smidge more depth with a few darker teal flicks to the flower, some orange flicks to the centers of the blooms, some green flicks to the leaves, just to make the images my own. I also colored the bundles of buds with markers.

fussy cut each of the elements, rimmed each one with a Momento Tuxedo Black marker, arranged them in a pleasing bouquet, added some leftover slate gray die cuts (Memory Box Woodland Branch), and picked the arrangement up with Glad Press and Seal.

To create the background I embossed a 5.5″ square of Hero Arts Pitch Black Cardstock with We R Memory Keepers Gemstone Hex folder, then liberally sprayed the debossed side with Imagine Sheer Shimmer Craft Spray in Frost.

I mounted my floral arrangement to the background using Ranger Multi Medium Matte for some pieces, 1 layer of black foam tape (black so that the card looks more “put together” from the sides) for others, and 2 layers for the Grateful Heart bloom. For the foam mounted pieces, I only used the foam tape in a small square in the center of the flower/leaves. This allowed me to “fluff” the petals and furls a bit for more interest.

I realized at this point that my card panel can work pretty well in any direction, with either of the flowers facing up. Since we are living in a chaotic world, which has been resulting in my needing all manner of cards that I did not anticipate, I elected to to not add a sentiment yet. And, since I don’t know what size my sentiment might be, I decided not to mount the panel on a card base yet.

For my second card, I wanted to see if I could layer successfully again, so I cleaned and removed all of the previously-mounted layer stamps. I followed all of the same steps as I did for my first card, and, in my concentration, forgot to switch out ink colors. I also couldn’t find the Grateful Heart stamp set that was buried somewhere on one of my desks. To get the 2 leaves, instead of lifting and rotating the cardstock, which would result in a guaranteed fail for me, I rotated the stamping block. I didn’t color the bud clusters this time, as I quite like the modern touch of leaving some elements black and white.

For the stripes in the background, I didn’t want anything too bold and modern, since I thought it would clash with the lacy look of the leaves and petals. So, I cut a piece of Neenah Classic Crest Solar White 110 lb cardstock down to 4×5.25 inches and haphazardly stamped two trunks from the Altenew Birch Impressionism stamp set, making no attempt to line up the layers. I then broke the two trunks up with a stripe from the My Favorite Things Plaid BG Builder set. The colors that I used for the background were Gina K Wild Dandelion and Tangerine Twist.

I fussy cut the stamped elements using Brother Scan n Cut, arranged the bouquet using Glad Press and Seal, then mounted each layer to the background as I did for the first card (except I used white foam tape). I stamped a sentiment from Altenew Never Give Up under the background stripes, then mounted the panel onto a piece of Hero Arts Pitch Black cut to 4-1/8×5-3/8 inch – this gave me a 1/16-inch border around the background panel. I wanted a very slight black border to finish off the panel, since all of the elements were lined in black. The entire stack was then mounted to a Hero Arts Paradise A2 card.

For my last project, I used the stamps that were left in position on each of five We R Memory Precision Advanced stamping blocks. I stamped the outline images, then cleaned off the layering stamps in preparation for a change in the ink colors. On the flower petals, I used Altenew Coral Berry and Ruby Red. On the leaves and the smaller petals in the centers of the flowers, I used I used Dew Drops and Aqualicious.

Once the stamping was dry, I added a bit of light yellow, using a Copic marker, so that I would have all three primary colors on the card. Before my ink cubes got buried on my desk, I also swiped some Aqualicious onto the Bristol Smooth cardstock for later use as sentiment strips. Then, I fussy cut and arranged the layered stamping in a floral swag, picking up the entire arrangement with Glad Press n Seal.

For the background, I wanted something dark to contrast with the bright colors of the layer-stamped pieces. I also wanted something with a bit of texture – I actually wanted an croco-embossed leather look. To accomplish this, I cut a piece of dark blue cardstock down to 3.75×5 inches. Then, I blended Distress Oxide Salty Ocean and Chipped Sapphire, adding a bit of Black Soot at the bottom of the panel to finish it off. Once the panel was dry, I embossed it using an old Cricut folder from Anna Griffin, called, Crocodile. Hmmmm, not quite croco-embossed leather. It looked more like crocodile embossing folder on paper. πŸ˜‚! It needed a bit of shine. I added two liberal coats of Ranger Ultra Thick Clear Embossing Powder. The purse-loving-girly-girl in me loves the way this looks (hint: take a look at the purse that my shrink plastic charms are adoring in one of my previous projects!)!

I mounted the stamped swag on the croco background, using a varying number of layers of foam tape. I stamped the sentiment with Gina K Jet Black Amalgam Ink on the previously-prepared Aqualicious-colored cardstock (y’all, I have no idea where that sentiment came from. I looked everywhere on my desk & can’t figure it out. Surely I was not so efficient that I already put the stamp set away??!) and foam mounted the sentiment. I was ready to add bling; however, when I placed the sequins, I felt the bouquet still needed a little something. I rummaged through my un-used bowl of die-cut elements and found these little branches that were cut from platinum vellum using dies from (clockwise from the top) Altenew Garden Picks 3D Die Set, Spellbinders Little Plants, and Altenew Rose Flurries 3D Die Set. I tucked and glued these little bits behind the bouquet, and I even managed to lift up part of the foam-mounted sentiment and tuck a branch behind it. Once the sequins were added, I was done.

Final Remarks:

I learned quite a lot from this experience. Even though none of these projects were particularly my style, I loved them! With more practice, I’ll be able to use the layering stamps AND make them more my style. Successfully finishing these cards and taking the All About Layering 1 class helped to fill a gap that I have long avoided bridging in my card-making arsenal. (I know – all kinds of mixed metaphors there.)

So, thanks bunches, Nicole!


  • Hi Enna,
    Welcome to group 17. Thank you for commenting on my blog post. I think your blog looks wonderful. You did a great job in you post. You certainly are good with words πŸ™‚ your cards came out great. Look forward to seeing your work.

  • Fabulous cards Enna! I am so excited for you that you are taking the Altenew classes. I can’t wait to see what fabulous cards you create. Your style is so bold and bright, and of course they are all perfectly executed. I love reading your stories, they are always encouraging.

    • Kathleen, you are the best! – always with the supportive comments! I really need to leave this new blog thingy alone & get to work on my second class, so that I can share my progress!

  • Wow Enna! I am blown away by the layout, colours, and placement of these florals! This is remarkable work! Congrats on your first post for AECP! Congrats on learning something new, Nicole is amazing and very patient too!
    You did an amazing job! I really enjoyed reading your post too!
    Thank you for entering your fabulous work to the AECP assignment gallery. Bravo!

  • Besides the fact that you are super creative and talented, you’re also hilarious! I loved reading this with the small tips, your “sob” story and funny side stories. And I agree, it really makes a world of difference to let the ink sink into the paper before moving on. One of my first sets was also a layered one. And I didn’t have a Stamping tool either. It’s crazy how much that makes a difference. I am so glad you’ve overcome your fear of layered stamps and I can’t wait to see what you come up with next. Big hugs, Tina 😘

    • It’s so sweet of you to visit my blog AND leave such an encouraging comment, Tina! It’s almost like you knew how hard I’ve been working on this! πŸ˜ŠπŸ˜‚πŸ€£ BTW, did you check out my cookie policy? Bwahahahahaha!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *