Ever wonder about the behind-the-scenes aspect of a papercrafting business?  Have a question or two about a project that you have seen and want more details? Thinking about ways to get published or join a design team? Want to see what CSS crafty spaces look like? These are just a few of the questions we receive quite regularly via email or facebook, so we decided to sit down with the owners for an awesome Q&A session packed with projects and insider info. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be answering some of your most popular questions in a fun “Get to Know CSS” series here on the blog. Grab a little cup ‘o joe and settle in for lots of fun tips and tricks from the owners…


Get to Know CSS: Tips & Tricks


Q: “What’s the best way to stamp and die cut? Which do you do first stamp or cut?”

{submitted by Judith}

NICKI: Ahhh Judith…the papercrafters proverbial chicken or the egg debate! I actually do both, and I will explain why.

I’m a stamp-a-bunch-of-images-and-color-in-front-of-the-tv kind of girl. I may create a project that will work perfectly with one of my pre-colored images. In this case, I will have stamped and colored first and then die cut. It’s especially important that my die cutting comes out perfect – who wants to start over because of a bad cutting job, right!

I create a clear cardstock template for each of my dies. This way I can always stamp then die cut with ease. Once I have my stamped and colored image, I lay the clear cardstock die cut over my image, and trace a soft pencil line on the opposing corners. I remove the template and line up my die with the pencil marks. I adhere small strips of painters tape to hold the die in place and cut.

On the other hand, I’m also a die-cut-whatever-you-can-from-cardstock-scraps-to-save-for-later kind of girl.  We have a motto in our office to “Use it All, And Make It Pretty”. We hate to waste, so rather than throw away small pieces of papers, we die cut them and store them in the envelopes with the coordinating dies.

Now, I am not big on kitschy gadgets, I like to work with just the basics. I generally eyeball it, and that usually does the trick. For today though, I want to share a tool that may come in handy.

I recently discovered these great blocks with foam feet by Martha Stewart (you can also find a similar version made by fiskars). The foam feet allow you the chance to position your block and then stamp. They work beautifully when you need to line up your stamp with your die.

So you see Judith, you can do both. It’s whichever suits your needs and/or preference. Here’s a little mini card using the fun die cuts that were stamped, colored and then die cut.


Q: “I have always loved visiting your booth, and I am just starting to do my own craft shows – how do you decide what to do for your make and takes?”

{submitted by Joyce}

REENEE: Thank you Joyce! We love doing shows and getting a chance to meet and chat with our customers. We especially enjoy crafting with everyone who visits the booth through our make and takes – they are like mini crafty get togethers. We do follow a formula on how we set up our CSS Make and Takes, and I’m happy to share it with you.

To start, you have to select your project. At shows you want a fun project, but one that can be created in a short amount of time.  We love a good CAS style card. For our make and takes, we generally choose a CAS card from our CSS Daily App. Our team designs a wide variety of projects so we look to work with ones that can be created in 5-10 steps.

Next you will time how long it takes to assemble your project – this allows you to estimate the amount of product you will want to prepare. You will want to add in 2-3 minutes for clean-up between crafters. Let’s assume your Make and Take will last 10 mins + 2 mins clean-up will mean 12 minutes for each crafter per seat. There are only 60 minutes in an hour, which means you can only physically create with 5 crafters per seat in one hour. If your show is 8 hours you will want to create a minimum of 40 project kits per seat at your table. I would always advise that you make a few extra.

Here is a card I created for Drawn Together: A Fundraiser for Newtown, Connecticut. An amazing outreach effort that is being hosted by SW Editor Amber Kemp-Gerstel of Damask Love. Be sure to visit her blog for all the details on how you can contribute your crafting talents as a chance for all of us to use our passion for creativity to help, in a small way, to heal the community and children of Newtown, Connecticut.

The project I chose was published on Sept 23, 2012, right from the CSS Daily App. I altered the placement of the banner so that I could showcase the state of Maryland, where CSS is located. I printed one of the suggested sentiments from Amber’s blog for a special message on the inside. And I also hand drew a tiny little heart with my multiliner pen.

I pre-cut all of the pieces – just like a crafter would receive the project kit at the make and take table.

This card took 5 minutes to assemble. Add on the 2 minutes for clean-up time, and I have a 7 minute make and take. In one hour there is a potential for a minimum of 8 crafters per seat to participate in a make and take activity.

Hope this is helpful – good luck at your show Joyce!


Q: “I’ve seen lots of CSS cards that use the masking technique, what do you use to mask when you stamp?”

{submitted by Michelle}

NICKI: Michelle you have discovered my absolute favorite technique! Masking can completely reinvent a stamp set. You can change a design, duplicate or stack images, and so much more. There are all sorts of “masking” products but I find a good ‘ole post-it note and/or scotch tape does the trick. No fancy tools, just basic office supplies you have around the house.

I have a fun project to share that can show you a couple of simple ways you can use masking. At first glance this looks like one complete image. But I’ve done a bit of masking to create this one layer look.

Notice Rag Doll Willa’s hair is behind the “omg” sentiment? This is because I created a mask for the “omg” sentiment using a post-it note. If I were to stamp one then the other you would have overlapping. By stamping the sentiment first, masking, and then stamping the rag doll image you now have a clean one layer image.

You should also notice that our Rag Doll Willa, does not have her signature stitch line in one of the samples below.  That’s right, I masked them off. Simply adhere a small piece of tape on the areas you want to omit from the image, ink your image, remove the tape and then stamp.  Here is a side by side so you can see the difference.

Masking truly can expand how you are able to use your stamp sets! There are so many reasons to love masking. Thanks for your question Michelle.


Q: “I love your designers they are beyond AWESOME! I’ve never been on a design team. Do you have any tips?”

{submitted by Betty}

REENEE: Thank you for your kind words Betty. This is a question we get asked quite often, and we have to agree – we adore our design team, they are definitely beyond AWESOME! Each CSS design team member brings a little something extra special to the team and we are happy to hear you are enjoying all the projects that they share with you. We love the variety and design styles of the team and seeing all the great projects they create with every release. In addition to the design work, we really enjoy getting to know each designer personally – it’s one big creative family!

My best advice would be to approach applying for a design team like a job interview. When you go for any job (trust me, being a design team member is just like having another job – but a fun job, one that you can’t wait to start working on every time you get a new assignment), you want to be noticed.  You want your resume to stand out in a crowd, and your presence in the interview to be memorable.

The crowd in this analogy is the land of bloggers. Your blog should be a true reflection of your design style – it should be active, and engaging. Your “interview” is how well you create with the product. Not having any design team experience is perfectly okay. We always have an eye out for new, fresh designers that truly enjoy working with Clear and Simple Stamps!


More Tips & Tricks Inspiration


Also joining us today with a fun project is CSS design team member Lori Tecler. You will find Lori’s adorable creative works in the latest and greatest issues of PaperCrafts Magazine such as her featured projects in the current Die Cutting for Papercrafters issue. Be sure to visit Lori’s blog Inking Aloud for more inspirational tips and tricks.

If you have a question you’d like to see answered by the CSS team feel free to email us {here} or post your question on our facebook page {here}.

We’d love to see if you create with your CSS stash using any of the color trends. Leave us a link to your blog/gallery/fb or upload {here} to share your CSS work with us!



STAMPS: Well Preserved Jars: Medium, Perfect Harvest Too / CARDSTOCK: A Blanc Check, Kraft Like a Rockstar / INK: Perfect Little Black Dress / SIMPLE CUTS: Mini Product / OTHER: Clear Cardstock


STAMPS: Sunburst, The States Too, Simply Stated 2  / CARDSTOCK: Say Yellow to All Your Fans, Kraft Like a Rockstar, A Blanc Check, Coral Necklace / INK: An a Anonymous Source, Perfect Little Black Dress / SIMPLE CUTS: State-to-State, Favor Flags / OTHER: Dimensionals, White Embossing Powder


STAMPS: Rag Doll Will: OMG / CARDSTOCK: A Blanc Check / INK: Perfect Little Black Dress / OTHER: Copics, Painter’s Tape, Sticky Notes


CSS Daily App on iTunes


Looking for even more inspiration?
Download the CSS Daily Papercrafting App 2.0.1 available on iTunes

{You can download the CSS Daily App 2.0.1 from iTunes here}