Introducing our February Kit: Print Your HeART Out!

Print Your HeART Out is all about monoprinting with the awesomeness that is the Gelli Plate. As usual, the kit comes with everything you’ll need to get started with pulling prints from your very own 5″ plate including papers, paints, brushes, a brayer, a couple of stencils, and texture tools.


With the Print Your HeART Out creative mischief kit you’ll be able to dive right into making prints with the included gelli plate.

The best thing about gelli printing, as far as I’m concerned, is that there’s no one right way to do it. It’s all about getting in there and trying out new things, getting your fingers all covered with ink or paint and seeing what happens.

You can plan your composition on the gelli plate or you can just layer print over print and see where it takes you–like a painted collage! And then you can use the prints you make in cards, scrapbooks, art journals, collage or anything else you can think of. By printing on different materials (fabric, wax paper, etc.) you can get loads of different effects and put those surfaces to all sorts of use.

Can you tell I’ve been having fun experimenting with my gelli plate? It might just be my new favorite thing!

Also available are copies of the book Gelli Prining by Suzanne McNeill. Now I always include instructions, tips, and examples in the kits themselves, but if you want even more inspiration and ideas, this book will give you just that–it’s a great companion to Print Your HeART Out (which is why I laid in a small supply of them).

This deluxe Creative Mischief Kit features products from Plaid, Martha Stewart, Gelli Arts, The Crafters Workshop, Deco Art, and Royal Brush and will be available to order on Tuesday, February 2, 2016.


Meet the Bound & Determined Kit, Right Here, Right Now!

Here are the 2 books the kit will help you make.


The first book is a Coptic-Bound journal with a soft suede cover. Coptic binding looks really cool and complex but really isn’t all that difficult once you get the hang of it! Step by step instructions are included in the kit, as always, and you’ll have a great blank book perfect for sketching or journaling or whatever you want to use it for!


The second book is a mini book featuring hard back, cloth covered binding and lay-flat pages. It’s similar to the technique the high-end photobook companies use and this little mini album would be perfect for some mini art journaling or a photo album of insta-pictures.


You get the tools and instructions to make those two books plus enough materials to experiment with other materials using the two methods you’ll find fully illustrated in the kit’s insert.

Well That Was Unexpected!

Yesterday afternoon, as I was trying to get back in the swing of not being on the cruise ship anymore (my inner ears have yet to get the message…makes for interesting times) my phone rang and it was Paul, my contact at the Big Distributor, the one that was so helpful getting the Pebbles papers to me in time for our last launch, and he was just checking in, making sure things were going well, and wanted to chat about some art journaling trends that they’ve noticed.

So, first, my question to you is: Do you art journal or do you even know what that is? (If not, watch this space come January because there’ll be more on that to come.)

Art journaling is pretty big in the art world right now, and has been for a while, with people using everything from sketchbooks, to old text books to journal in. It’s fun, messy, and super-expressive. I think it’s pretty awesome (if you couldn’t already tell).

While I’ve often said that anything can become a canvas, there are some things that I’ve refrained from altering or upcycling for various reasons. Top of the list? The books of various religions. Empirically I know that these are mass-produced words on paper, just like any other book. But I also know and respect that others see them as far more than the sum of their parts, so while I’ve contemplated turning them into creative canvases in the past, I’ve always shelved the idea in favor of less controversial foundation materials.

See what I did there?

But apparently, not everyone shares my reticence, because Paul tells me they’ve had to start stocking The Bible because bible-as-art-journal has recently exploded!

So my next question is: would you alter a religious book, be it the Christian Bible, the Koran, Torah, Book of Mormon or other works of note? And if you did, would you show it to anyone? Would you show me, because I’d love to see it!

I’m still not sure I would alter a Bible when I have so many other options before me, but it’ll be interesting to see where this trend leads. And anything that gets people tapping into their creativity is something I’m definitely in favor of, so there’s that!

Accessing that creative spirit is what the Creative Mischief Kits are all about, after all. If you’re still exploring you options for this year’s holiday cards, check out a recent post on my blog on just that topic and, of course, there’s still time to get your order in for our CPR Holiday Card Kits.


Here are 2o cards made with the Classic Christmas kit and the first cutting diagrams.


And here are 20 cards made from the Winter Whimsy kit and the second cutting diagrams.

Why We’re Not a Subscription Box

I hope everyone is having a lovely Monday morning. It was nice and chilly when I left for work, today, and it’s not even supposed to get too hot, either! That nip in the air definitely makes it easier to think about Christmas card making and all the other holiday fun.

But onto today’s topic: why isn’t the Creative Mischief Kit available as a subscription box?

Not for lack of trying, let me tell you!

I had a few kit ideas in mind when I was planning to open The Crafty Branch as a brick and mortar store, but it wasn’t the main focus of my business at that point. When I shifted the plan to start with the kits, I sat down and dreamed up a dozen kits–themes, techniques, potential includes, etc.–before I was okay with going forward.

Creating them as a subscription box was a very real possibility. After all, I love subscription boxes and the idea of getting something fun and new in the mail each month, why wouldn’t I want to create one of my own?!

Two reasons:

  1. Varying kit costs.
  2. Disappointment avoidance.

When I looked at the kit options I’d brainstormed and started to cost them out, the second kit showed a major pitfall: whereas one kit was $50 in supplies (retail), the other kit was coming in at $110! Subscription boxes depend on a set, recurring price and while I could, of course, change the options in each box, I really didn’t like having to scale a higher-value kit down so far as to be almost useless, or adding a bunch of extra chaff to a lower-cost kit to bring it up in value. Some skills and techniques are cheaper to learn, others might have a higher price of entry. It felt more honest to just take it one kit at a time, and have them cost what they cost, rather than having to shoehorn them into a particular price point.

Another hallmark of a subscription box is the surprise element. That works fabulous for product samples, edibles, and handmade items. But when I really thought about what the Creative Mischief Kits are trying to accomplish–encourage creative exploration and help people find new hobbies by teaching creative skills and techniques–how would I feel, as a recipient, if I received a box full of things I already owned or had no interest in. I know I don’t like to feel like I’ve wasted my money, so I wanted to avoid anyone else feeling that way by being very up front about what’s in each kit so that the recipient has less of a chance at being disappointed.

Buying inventory on the chance each kit sells (the non-subscription model) is a risk, but it’s one I’m willing to take to ensure, as much as I can, that you are happy with your purchase.

Eleventh Hour Save!

Thanks to the efforts of my contact at the distributor, the final pieces of the kit puzzle arrived last night, just in the Nick of time!

See what I did there? It’ll be more apparent in a minute…

The time has come, friends, to let you see the next kit, or should I say kits, available from The Crafty Branch!

CPR (standing for Cards Prepared and Ready) is a program I thought up way back in my Close to My Heart days (~2003ish) and the idea is to help us keep on top of things, get cards made so that we always have one on hand when the need arises. Now, with the Creative Mischief Kits, I finally have a way to offer it that makes sense. At least I hope it does!

This first CPR kit (I’m thinking these will be quarterly, depending on interest) is all about holiday cards–both the traditional Christmas variety and a more modern, non-secular holiday style–and simplifying the process of putting together a batch of cards so that’s one less thing you have to worry about as the holiday hurtle towards us. The technique for these kits is three ways with stencils: using vellum and a stylus to dry emboss, using texture paste and palette knives to create raised designs, and the more traditional ink and dauber method to reproduce the design (or part of the design) of the stencil onto your paper or medium of choice.

The Winter Whimsy kit, pictured above, has cute snow people, mittens and snowflakes on the patterned paper (with different patterns on the back–2 stripes and one sweater ribbed) in shades of blue with other bright accents.


Meanwhile, the Classic Christmas kit works with the usual palette of red and green and has paper with poinsettia, stripes, and quotes from A Christmas Carol (with, again, more designs on the back).

The cutting diagrams included in the kit will show you how to use 3 sheets of paper (either the printed ones, or some of the solid card stock–2 sheets of each color–or some combination of both) to create 20 cards with no waste. There are 20 card blanks and 20 envelopes included in the kit. Of course, you’ll have at least enough paper to do another 20 cards on your own or create some cute tags or scrapbook layouts with the rest. The stencil and the different tools mean that your cards won’t look like anyone else’s, even if you follow my cutting diagrams to the letter, because you’ll apply your own creative spark to the finished product!