Saturday, October 15, 2005

Technique – Make a Distressed Paper Tag

Having just finished decorating a cardboard box for a Michaels Arts and Crafts store demo, I felt something was missing. It needed a little extra oomph to finish it off and I knew just what was in order – a distressed tag of some kind. Sure, there are several ways to get this look, but for now, I've chosen something relatively easy...working with ink.

A representative of FiberScraps, makers of the E-Z Walnut Ink used here, demonstrated her approach to this technique for me at a crafts trade show. She provided me with a sample bottle for use in this article. I really like using the product because it is not messy at all. The ink bottle works well for stamping and stippling, too. Now don't limit yourself to just using Walnut Ink. Check out the FiberScraps site for more shades or rummage around your existing inkpads for some interesting color combinations. I sure did!

My Materials & Tools
  • Manilla paper hang tag(s), available in different sizes from office supply stores
  • Bottle of Original E-Z Walnut Ink #FS-102 2 Oz. Bottle with dauber applicator by FiberScraps
  • Memories Acid Free Dye Ink Pad in Sand by Stewart Superior Corp.
  • Brown, copper, gold and silver pigment inkpad combo, like Ultimate Inkpad Paintbox2, in Precious Metals #13010 by ColorBox/Clearsnap
  • Compact Mini-IronTM by Clover Needlecraft

    My Steps
    Click to enlarge images. Click the back button to return to this article.)

    1. Take a standard paper tag, any size, and remove the string.

    2. Gather your ink supplies. Pick any combination of beige, brown, walnut and/or earth-toned inkpads, re-inkers or ink bottles with daubers. You can even use sponges with any ink to get the look you want. The choice is up to you.

    3. Crumple the tag in your hand, perhaps starting by simply folding it in your palm. Continue to crumple the tag at different angles. Be gentle and selective when crumpling -- too many creases and your design may look too busy or muddy when the tag dries.

    4. Flatten the tag somewhat. Using a direct-to-paper inking approach, apply the beige or sand inkpad directly to the hills or creases of the tag. You want to create a little three-dimensional contrast between the different shades of brown, if you can.

    5. Grab one of the brown pads from the inkpad combo and apply it to the tag as well.

    6. Dab the brown applicator ink on the flat valleys or uncrinkled areas of the tag. Depending on how much of the original tag color you'd like to remain, you can apply a light coat of this wet ink or a heavy coat for deeper color saturation.

    7. Highlight here and there with one of the copper pads from the inkpad combo. You might even brush this color on the edges of the tag to create a "halo" effect. Try a bit of gold ink, if you're bold.

    8. Let the tag dry overnight, out in the open. I've experimented with sandwiching an inked tag in between paper towels and I've experimented with putting the tag out on the porch. Try different drying approaches for different looks.

    9. The next day, if you'd like to set the ink and make the tag flatter, iron it on low heat using a press cloth between the iron and tag. Now many crafters suggest ironing crumpled tags, including well-known artist Tim Holtz, who was seen antiquing tags for a Distressed Tag Journal Project on the Carol Duvall Show. In my box project, I didn't bother to iron the tag because I liked the crinkled look better. Eventually, I ironed my distressed tags for other projects, though.

    I really like the Clover Mini-iron, mainly because I didn't have to set up the ironing board to use it and the small head meant I was less likely to burn myself. Don't let the small size of the tip fool you -- it does get hot! If you don't have a crafts iron, you can use a clothes iron as long as you don't plan to use it on clothes anymore. You never know what your iron will pick up and transfer to your favorite shirt, so don't risk it! I remember using a good iron on a project, only to transfer some unwanted bits and pieces to a shirt the next day. Well, I learned that lesson the hard way.

    10. When you're ready to add your tag to one of your paper crafts creations, tie your distressed tag to some fiber (or tie some fiber to your tag). Either way, you're ready to embellish.

    You can use your tag on a greeting card, on a scrapbook page or, like in my example (see below), hang it from a paper box.

    Project Tips
  • When crumpling your tag, don't study it too much. Be random and let the creases fall where they may.
  • Create a watermark using a rubber stamp, clear ink and clear embossing powder. Apply these before you add any brown ink to the tag. Your clear image will appear ghostlike or ethereal.
  • You can add beads or buttons or bits of lace to your tag, if you want. Mix it up with different additions to your antiqued creation.
  • For more tips on distressing paper, be sure to visit the Rubber Art Stamping site. Editor Cecile Pryor has two articles on "Getting The Old-Fashioned Look."

    Reading and Viewing Recommendations
  • Tag Creations, a special issue of Paper Crafts magazine
  • Tags Reinvented: New Approaches to Creating Scrapbook Tabs, by Erikia Ghumm
  • Its All About Cards And Tags, by Nancy M. Hill
  • An Altered Journey with Tim Holtz (DVD), Studio: PageSage
  • (Using) Walnut Ink, by Beverly Seymour (Author), Suzanne McNeill (Editor)

    Product Resource Guide
    · Order your E-Z Walnut Ink at FiberScraps
    · Find Manila Shipping Tags
    · Clover Mini Iron
    · ColorBox Pigment Ink Pads
    · Walnut Ink Antiquing Solution 2 Oz Spray
    · Tim Holtz Distress Ink Stamp Pads
    · Most project photos taken with a 5.0 MP resolution KODAK EASYSHARE DX4530 Zoom Digital Camera
    · Browse for Paper Crafts Books at

    Article Description: Need an altered style embellishment to enhance a greeting card or paper maché box? Try antiquing a paper hang tag for that shabby chic look.
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