These backlit Santa Claus stamps make great candle holders!

Santa Comin’ Down the Chimney and Santa ‘n’ Reindeer by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps make a great pair, because they are a similar style of drawing, and are both show Santa in silhouette, lit from behind. I love each of them and have used them as my main Christmas card images before. But given their backlit design, I figured they would both look great as candle holders, and they do!

These are a quick project to make if you just want a temporary decoration. Start by finding a couple of canning jars or other glass candle holders. I’m using antique Ball Mason jars. They have just a touch of blue tint, and you can see the bubbles and other imperfections in the old glass shine through when a candle is placed inside.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Next, stamp each image on vellum paper with a non-smearing / non-bleeding ink like StazOn. When the ink dries, trim both images to the same size, and to fit your glass holder. Then for a temporary decoration, simply tape the image to the glass in the back, and tie on a pretty bow. Wouldn’t they look lovely sitting on a shelf or your fireplace mantle?


Light up your holidays with this stamped LED Christmas Tree card!

For a while I’ve been wanting to show a project that makes use of a ‘soft circuit’ – a flexible circuit designed for paper or fabric. And ta da, here is my first one! It is a Christmas Tree with real lit LED holiday lights, and I’ll show you here how to make your very own.


There are lots of materials you can use to make a soft circuit – sewing with conductive thread, using conductive paint, etc. I tried all of those and am still experimenting with them, but the method I’m showing here seems the most reliable and less tricky. To start I’ve taken a thin sheet of craft copper which I’ll be cutting to the shape of my desired circuit.

First I’ll stamp the image I want to work with. I’m using Pine Tree by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps, and I’ve stamped it on the copper in Onyx Black StazOn ink which works well with metal and other non-porous surfaces.

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Now I’ll sketch out my circuit. I need one set of copper ‘wires’ for the positive side of the circuit, and another set for the negative. They need to run alongside each other, but must not touch or you’ll end up with a short circuit and it won’t work! I used a ruler, and ‘drew’ a set of parallel lines by pressing the surface of the copper with a blunt point – the metal tip of a ball point pen should work well. If you mess up a bit, like I did at the bottom, don’t worry you can redraw your lines and fix things in the next step.


Now, take a permanent marker like a Sharpie, and draw your actual circuit ‘wires’ following the lines you drew in the previous step as your guide. You will be now cut along these lines (be careful, as the cut edges of the copper will be sharp and pointy).


Here I’ve cut out my circuit, and cleaned things up a bit by removing the ink and Sharpie lines with a bit of rubbing alcohol.  I’ve also stamped Pine Tree again on a piece of card stock, and I’ll use this card to build my circuit. To get the copper to stick, spray it with a light coat of spray adhesive on the bottom.


Now you will want to assemble your LEDs. I had a few red and green ones around and so decided to go with those. You will also want to have a couple of alligator leads. These are rubber coated wires with clips on the end protected by flexible plastic. You’ll be using these to test your LEDs and your circuit. I like to use a red one for the positive side of the circuit, and a black one for negative / ground.  You will also want to have a 3v coin cell battery and holder.

Start by testing your LEDs. One reason to do this is to make sure they work! Also, you will want to find out which of the leads /wires coming out of the LED is positive and which is negative. You may be able to tell by looking, if one lead is longer than the other it is the positive one. But test to be sure. Spread the leads of the LED out 180 degrees from each other so the LED basically lies flat. Clip one end of your red alligator lead to the positive side of the battery, and one end of the black alligator lead to the negative side. Then clip (or simply touch) the other ends of the leads to the LED. If it doesn’t light, swap which lead of the LED is connected to black and which one is connected to red. Once it lights and you know for sure, mark the positive lead in some way. You could use a sharpie pen, or stick a piece of tape on it. Do this with ALL of your LEDs.


Now choose which side of your circuit will be positive, and which side negative.  I’ve made the right side here positive, and marked it with a red plus sign “+” to indicate this. The other side is negative / ground, and I’ve marked it with a black minus “-” sign. Trust me, this makes everything lots easier!

Now comes a fun step…decide where you want your lights to go! It will help at this stage to stick them down with tape. If you’ve marked your LEDs with tape in the last step, that makes things more straightforward. Since you’ve spread out the leads of your LEDs 180 degrees, you can stand up the LED light while each lead rests on one side of the circuit. Make sure you have the right LED lead on the right side! Match positive lead to the positive side of the circuit, and the negative lead to the negative side of the circuit. Use the tape to keep your LEDs in place. You should end up with something like this:


The next step involves a bit of soldering. This may sound scary if you have never done it, but TRUST ME IT ISN’T! If you can use a glue gun or a heat gun or hammer a nail you can solder. And you should really know how to do it – it is a basic life skill in my opinion. You just need a few inexpensive tools and supplies. I won’t go into the details of how to do it here, as there are plenty of beginner guides online.

Solder all of your leads, and trim the leads with wire nippers to keep everything tidy. Now, slightly bend up one small corner of your negative and positive copper ‘wires’, and attach them to your coin cell battery with the alligator leads. Your LEDs should glow beautifully! If not, go back and check to make sure each LED works, if not, you may have attached the leads the wrong way, or your solder point may not be a good connection. Also make sure you have a fresh battery. Mine are all working as you can see in the image below.


Now, you’ll want to attach your battery holder and battery. I’ve stuck the battery holder to the paper with a bit of double-sided tape, up in a corner where it is out of the way but still close to the circuit. Next I’ve cut three short segments of wire. One of these I’ve used to solder and connect the positive side of the battery holder to the positive side of the circuit.


The other two short wire segments I’ve connected to a small ‘on/off’ switch hidden on the back side of the card. One wire is soldered from the negative side of the battery holder to one lead on the switch. The third wire is soldered and connects the other lead on the switch to the negative side of the circuit. This is an optional step, but a useful one because it allows you to turn your Christmas Tree on and off, saving your battery power for when you want to display it.


Here is the backside of the card, showing the detail of the small switch. This switch actually had six leads, but I only needed two of them. So I trimmed off the other four. I punched a small hole in the card, poked the remaining two leads through the hole, and bent them 180 degrees from each other which does a great job of holding the switch firmly in place. The leads are exposed on the circuit side of the card. One is soldered to the wire that goes to the negative side of the battery holder. The other is soldered to the wire that is connected to the negative side of the circuit.

When the switch is off, no current is flowing through the circuit.


When you switch it on, it completes the circuit and the current flows, and voila your Christmas Tree glows!


At this point, if you really want to show off your handiwork with the circuit visible you could leave it as is. I’ve chosen to hide my circuit a bit behind a piece of vellum. I’ve stamped another image of the tree on top of the vellum, and trimmed it to size. I also used another piece of card stock cut to the same dimensions as the first one, and trimmed out the center to make a frame. To get everything lined up correctly, put small pieces of masking tape on the edges of the vellum, sticky side up. Place the vellum over your lit circuit and move it into place so the lights are where you want them to be. Then carefully lay the frame over the top until it sticks. You can now lift off the framed image and make sure the vellum is taped all the way around.

For the last step, stick a few double-sided adhesive foam dots on the card that has the circuit on it, in three of the corners, but not the one with the battery on it. this will keep the second card elevated off of the circuit, but the LED lights will still show through. You can easily access the battery in the corner if you need to change it, and the on/off switch is neatly hidden in back. Attach the top frame with the stamped vellum image.

If you want to send or give your card, be sure to switch it off to save battery power. Another idea is to buy an inexpensive mini wooden easel, and use it to display your card like this!


Let this jolly Santa do all of your Christmas decorating for you!

This little stamp Santa with Pack is wonderfully simple and versatile. It may just be the only stamp you need this Christmas! (Of course if we are wrong about that, we have plenty more to choose from…)


Here he is, stamped in red on white card stock. What could be simpler or easier for a Christmas Card?


Here he is stamped on white paper for gift wrap…


And another version of gift wrap… this is a monoprint using the stamp to lift off ink which gives a cool effect, but you could just as easily use white pigment ink on red paper to make a print that looks very close to this.


And lastly here he is stamped in red on a cardboard tag. This would make a great gift tag, or even a Christmas tree ornament. Or, you could send it out as your Christmas card and let the person you send it to decide!


Come, ye thankful people!

Did your garden turn out like this? I’m sure it did! And now as Thanksgiving approaches, it is time to celebrate the bountiful harvest. This card features a thankful Farmer and Harvest from Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps. The images are nested in layers of contrasting paper frames, one which has a verse from an old Methodist Hymn that is often sung at this time of year: “Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home; all is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin!”

Nature's Blessings Fine Art Stamps

Come see us at the Mendocino Art Center’s Thanksgiving Arts & Crafts Fair!

We are delighted to announce that Nature’s Blessing Fine Art Stamps has been accepted to the Mendocino Art Center’s juried 56th Annual Thanksgiving Arts & Crafts Fair! The show will take place all day on Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving (November 27 and 28) in the beautiful, historic, ocean-side village of Mendocino, California. We will have a Nature’s Blessings rubber stamps for sale, as well as pre-packaged gift bags to make your holiday shopping a breeze (a lovely ocean breeze, perhaps!).


More information about the show is available on the Mendocino Art Center‘s website:  “In what has become a north coast tradition, thirty-five juried artists and craftspeople from throughout Northern California exhibit original handmade artwork. The Mendocino Art Center’s galleries and class studios are transformed into a two-day holiday marketplace, providing residents and visitors a pleasant alternative to hectic, stressful mall shopping while supporting local and regional artists. Featured will be a wide array of unique, high quality artwork and gift items, including handcrafted jewelry, original paintings, functional and decorative ceramics, fiber art and clothing, handcrafted herbal body care products, holiday ornaments, fresh holiday wreaths and more.”

This show is also an important fundraiser for the nonprofit Art Center, which “is an educational institution that fosters engagement, exploration and excellence in the arts.” 15% of all sales go to support the Art Center and its programs.

Rubber Stamps and 3D Collage

Dimensional or 3D Collage is an art form where you incorporate 3D objects with paper and images to produce a finished piece. When you add rubber stamps into the mix, you can end up with really beautiful pieces that feature your favorite stamp images and are suitable for shadow box framing.

This seasonal piece is all about Autumn… brightly-colored falling leaves, the donning of warm clothes, harvesting nuts, and that brisk chill in the air that starts to smell a just a bit like winter …but the turning leaves are nature in full glory.

2015-10-24 09.11.05

To start, I chose Children Feeding Squirrels as my focal image. The whole collage will be built around this image. I stamped it in black on pale gray card stock. Next, using the same card stock, I stamped Maple Leaf in overlapping images of red and gold. This stamp makes a great repeated background pattern. I watercolored and then mounted the focal image on blue card stock, and then used dimensional foam sticky dots to adhere it to the leaf background.

I must confess I really wanted to show off this photo of our sugar maple tree in peak color…isn’t it glorious? All that red and gold against a cool cloudless blue sky… well, I just love it. I scaled the digital image to the size I needed and printed it on glossy card stock. Then I found a piece of red corrugated cardboard that grounds the whole piece and adds textural interest.

Lastly, I added my 3D embellishments. If you get into 3D collage, start collecting little bits of this-and-that when they catch your eye. Ribbons are great, especially the wired ribbon because you can bend and form it into interesting shapes like the bow here. The small red chrysanthemum is also from my collection of dimensional “doodads” as I like to call them. It adds interest to the bow, and also hides the floral wire I wrapped around the ribbon. Use a good glue like E6000 craft adhesive to keep the 3D objects in place.

I was satisfied at this point and stopped here, but could have kept going. More images? More dimensional objects…burlap and buttons perhaps? Maybe a handwritten quote or some word stamps? The whole process of dimensional collage is playfully creative, so you can do whatever strikes your fancy.

Rubber Stamps and Postage Stamps!

Postage stamps are a great addition to your rubber stamp art. I have a lot of postage stamps from all over the world, many that I collected as a kid. They never had much monetary value, but I think they have great value as little works of art that add interest to my stamped pieces.  At some point in a fit of tidying-up I sorted them into separate envelopes with themes like “birds”, “fruit”, and “transportation”. This turned out to be pretty helpful, as they are now easy to sort through to find appropriate images for card-making and collage.

Here is an example of a simple collage with several postage stamps and a rubber stamp scene about wind-borne sailing vessels. I used a brayer over white card stock to add a mottled layer of blue ink, and then went over this with lightly-sponged silver ink to even out the tone of the blue. When the background layer was dry, I stamped Clipper Ship and Man Walking in black ink. Then I added the postage stamps, glued in a pattern that I thought was appealing and worked well with the stamped images. Lastly I added the quote in black and silver gel ink:

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”


A Spooky “Specimen” Card for Halloween

This Halloween card was inspired by a trip to a local shop that specializes in natural history that is filled with all kinds of bones, bugs and mounted specimens. Kids love it and can hardly walk by the store front without standing nose-to-glass to peer at their fabulous window display. Needless to say, with its nod to the macabre the place really comes into its own with the approach of Halloween!

To make this specimen display card, take a piece of white card stock and trim it into three strips of equal width. Next, stamp several different “spooky” images, leaving plenty of space around each one, as if you were going to mount each one for display. I used the following images by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps in black ink: Bat, Skeleton, Skeleton’s Skull, Skeleton’s Torso, and Spider.

Next, cut each strip to separate your images. Choose your desired background (mine is a marbled art paper like the kind used for book binding). Arrange your images into a pleasing grid, leaving a bit of space around each image. If you like, you can use one or more squares for a message as I’ve done below. Then add your spooky greeting. Happy Halloween!


Super Easy Spooky Jewelry for Halloween!

This spooky jewelry set is not only incredibly easy to make, it is fast! Once you have the materials on hand you can make these in less than an hour.


You will need:

  • Bat and Skeleton’s Skull by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps
  • White shrink plastic
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Black StayzOn ink
  • 2 earring wires
  • 2 jump rings
  • Short pieces of chain
  • Jewelry pliers and cutters
  • Flat metal tag (round, dog tag style, whatever your preference is)
  • Cord or chain for necklace

To make the earrings:

Take a piece of white shrink plastic, and rough up the surface a bit with fine-grit sandpaper. This helps the ink adhere to it. Next, stamp bat two times with StayzOn ink and cut them from the sheet, leaving at least 1/4 inch around the image – you can make a rough cut as you’ll be cutting them out more carefully in a moment. Next take a 1/8 inch punch and punch a hole at each end of the bat wings. This is where you will be attaching the chain. Now carefully cut out around each bat, leaving about 1/8 inch around the punched holes. Shrink the plastic using your oven or heat tool according to the package directions.

Using your wire cutters, cut about 1.5 inches of chain. If the links are all the same size, you’ll want an odd number of links so that there is one center one you can hang from the earring wire. Open and attach one jump ring to one of the holes. While it is still open, thread on the last link on one end of the piece of chain. Close the jump ring with your pliers. Attach the other end of the chain to another jump ring looped through the other hole. Find the center link of the chain, and thread it through the earring wire (depending on the design of the earring wire, you may need another jump ring for this). The bats should be evenly balanced, and swing freely from each earring wire.

To make the necklace:

Stamp Skeleton’s Skull on a metal tag with StayzOn ink. (If you make a mistake or don’t like the placement of the image, you can wipe it off with rubbing alcohol and redo it.) When the ink is dry, attach the pendant to a cord or chain of your choice. I used a cord here, but if you use a chain, you will probably want hang the tag using a jump ring.

Victorian Tintype-Look with Rubber Stamps

Tintype photography is going through something of an artistic revival. I recently sat for a tintype portrait myself, and found the process (which I was able to watch) and result fascinating. Here is a way to recreate the look of a tintype with rubber stamps. You’ll need a piece of coated metallic card stock. A warm silver-color should work well. You’ll also want black and silver pigment inks.


Stamp the image you want to use on the metallic card stock in black pigment ink and trim it to size (you’ll want it to look like a small photograph). I used Lady 1 by Nature’s Blessings Fine Art Stamps.

Next, using a small sponge dauber, shade the edges and corners a bit with the same black ink. It doesn’t need to look perfectly regular, in fact if you make it a bit smudged and irregular that is a better effect. You can even wipe off the ink here and there in the corners to reproduce the look of the tintype emulsion.

You can also distress the image itself by smudging a bit of the black ink here and there. If you wish, you can add some mid-tone highlights on top of the dark areas with silver pigment ink. I did so mostly on the back of the lady’s hair.

The pigment ink may not dry to the point that it doesn’t rub off with a bit of pressure. This will depend on the kind of paper and ink you end up using. If this is the case, coat your image with a light spray of clear acrylic and let it dry and that should prevent smearing.

I completed my card by stamping Chrysanthemum in silver on black card stock, and mounting my tintype on top. The overall effect ended up very Victorian! I decided to go with it, and added a “missing you” sentiment in silver ink.