Please note that every challenge in this blog can be entered with any form of art work, not just cards. Themes may have to be slighly altered, but as long as they represent the general idea, feel free to enter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Technique Thursday - SOS! Distressing 101

There are many different styles of card making and scrapbooking.  Some like muted and pastel colors, while others like bold prints and colors; some like lots of white space and others like to doodle all the white space out.  Some like clean lines and a structured look---I like to distress the heck out of my projects.  I love the look of aging, the feeling of texture—it speaks to me in a purely personal language. 
Sanding:   I love to give my cards a faded look.  Using cardstock with a white or colored core is the best paper for this technique.
  Using sandpaper, a sanding block or even an emery board, lightly sand across the edges of your paper.  As you sand the core color will appear.  The more you rub, or the harder you rub, the less base color and the more core color will come out.  You can sand just the tiniest bit of edge on your paper, or sand your entire piece to make it look like it’s been weather.  Use this paper for your card base, a photo frame, a journal block—I’ve even finished  layout page and then sanded the edges for that rougher look.  Another trick with sanding paper with a core is to crumple the paper loosely, then flatten it out and sand across the entire surface of the paper.  You will get an aged, crackled look to the paper.
Ripping:  When I go to a crop with my usual cronies, as soon as they hear the ripping of paper for the first time, they all yell out, “She’s at it again!”
and they know exactly where I’m sitting at the table.  I love the irregular look of ripped paper.  The chaotic patterns intrigue my artistic eye and they give my layouts & cards dimension you can’t get with a paper cutter.  I will tear background pieces of paper to frame journaling or a photo, or tear around a stamped and colored image for my card.  Here, I have not only ripped a page out of a german magazine, but I crumpled it and inked it as well.

Inking:  This is my fave method for distressing a project.  If I cut myself, I swear I would bleed ink, I love to use it so much. 

By edging your layout page with brown ink, you are swearing off the clean, fresh new look of a project and imbuing it with age, grace and character.  You can use cotton balls, a sponge, a cosmetic sponge, a piece of tissue paper, an inking tool or the ink pad itself.   Each method gives its own special touch of distress to a project.  I have even softly applied brown ink onto the edges and into my photographs for an aged look, without having to play in photo editing software.
Another method of distressing an entire piece of paper is to apply ink to glossy paper, about three colors next to each other.  Spritz with water and take your piece of paper or tag and press against the wet ink. Remove and heat emboss dry.  Press against the wet ink and heat emboss dry as many times as you want to get the look needed.  This makes a gorgeous presentation!!
Curling:  You can make a project look well-worn by curling the edges with your fingers.  Just take a small section of your project’s edge and brush it up and in lightly.  Making small tears as you curl gives it the look of being handled and loved through the ages.
Embellishments:  Where would we be without our stash of embellishments?  There are so many companies who offer vintage embellishments!  Tarnished brass metal embellies, crackled diecut stickers, vintage patterned papers and images, tea stained lace, Army-surplus buttons and vintage fonts from your computer---there’s a whole wide world of distressingly distressed materials for you to try out.
So if you are looking to climb out of your comfort zone, try your hand at a little distressing.  It may just bring a smile to your face!


  1. This is just an awesome tut Pat! Thanks for sharing it. I have to be truthful and say I don't do enough distressing. Your projects look very professional!

  2. I love to distress items although I don't do it often enough either... I love to tear ink and sand but a lot of my lo's are more classic, simple and using primary colors as of late so in my mind they don't mix? Maybe it's time to try!

    here is a swap i made using two distressing techniques- inking and tearing. Love the critter cartridge!


    I love to distress! I do this a lot. I hope the pic comes through. I distress the papers on this layout quite a bit.

  5. Pat I enjoyed your detailed tut about distressing! I too like to edge my papers and frames-they look so neat that way!

  6. Pat here's an example of one of my distressed paper bag books


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