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How to make 8 funky backgrounds using Tim Holtz Distress Stains

Hey homies, it's playtime! I love playing with colors, you all know that. It should come as no surprise that I've been spending a lot of time with these Tim Holtz Distress Stains (You can find them at Alpha Stamps!)... The new winter colors are so flippin' awesome. Most of them are actually really bright, not what you think of when the winter chill of January rolls around. So here's a tutorial on how to use Distress Stains to make eight different totally awesome backgrounds on manila tags.
Let's start with the basics. Most of the techniques I'll show you will be based on knowing this base method. To get that cool water-colored look as a base to your tag, you'll need a surface to dab some stain onto. I'm using a non-stick craft sheet, but you can use a piece of wax paper, or even your crafting table top (ONLY if you don't think it'll stain and it wipes clean easily, use your brains). Your surface just has to be non-porous. non absorbent so the stain beads off of it. The stains come with a dauber on the end, so you just daub some stain onto your work surface, a few different colors at a time. Then lay your tag down in the mess and press it down a little or a lot, your choice. Lift up the tag, and you've got a cool looking colorful stained base that will look different every time! The colors will appear dark, that's normal. They brighten up as they dry. Now onto the different techniques:

Dauber Dots

Let your base dry off a little bit, enough to where the stain has soaked into the tag and there are no more runny spots, but the tag is still damp. Simply use the dauber end to make little polkadots. The stain will blend in places and stay crisp in other places, so it looks pretty cool.

Water Spray
Color pictured: Seedless Preserves
Using water with Distress Stains is a super-easy way to create a subtle effect. For this tag's base, I just used the dauber end like a marker to color the entire tag, let dry for about 15 minutes, then spritz plain old water on it with a spray bottle. Easy McPeasy.

Baby Wipe
This is my favorite effect, and I came across it completely by accident... I had a baby wipe out on my table to clean up a rubber stamp and it got bumped onto one of my stained papers. It kind of sucked up/spread out the colors to make a really cool tie-dye look. To get this effect, loosely wad up a baby wipe and just gently set it down on your tag so there is contact in several places. Wait 15-20 minutes, pick up the baby wipe, and voila!

Canned Air Branches
Have you got a can of compressed air hiding around somewhere that you bought to clean your keyboard? You can use it with your Distress Stains! Just dab/squeeze a few drops of stain at the bottom of your completely dry stained tag and use the canned air to spray the droplets to the top. Let that layer dry completely, and do it again with a different color. It's important to wait for things to dry with this method, because if the paper is wet, you'll lose the detail of the branches.

Crayon Texture
 These Distress Stains are water-based, so if you use crayon on your tag before staining, those areas will resist the stains a little and add some interesting texture. For this tag, I drew lines with a yellow crayon and circles with a white crayon before dipping my tag in stain.

To get this look, squish your tag while it's still pretty darn wet together from top to bottom to get a nice even crumpling. While the paper is still crumpled up, dab the ridges with a couple of different colors. Leave it alone for maybe 5 minutes, and then smooth out the tag to let it dry. Once it's completely dry, you can place it between a couple of sheets of paper and use your iron on low to flatten it out a little more.

Oil Spray
 I really like this method, it was kind of hard to photograph, but in person, the effect is really pretty cool. It reminds me of travertine tile. Classy. Just spray your plain tag (before putting any stain on) with a little bit of veggie oil, let it soak in for a few minutes, then dip your tag in stains.

Wet Stamping
 As is the case in LOTS of crafts, stamping makes the possibilities with this technique endless. Let your base dry for maybe 10-15 minutes, enough to where the stain is beginning to dry in areas, but the tag is generally still kind of soft with moisture. Dab some stain directly onto your rubber stamp with the dauber and stamp your tag! I like to use patterned stamps or designy-type ones that will make a good background.
Alpha Stamps Collage Sheets: Catnip Kitties, Wings & Things

So there you have it! Pretty soon you'll have tons of pretty little tags that are just waiting to be embellished. Go get some Distress Stains and make a mess, experiment some new techniques, and have some fun.  


CJG said...

Thanks for this tutorial, Kira! I am always impressed with your paper crafts, but am usually too intimidated by color choices to dive in. Gorgeous backgrounds can make a huge difference in the finished product, so now you've inspired me to pick up some stains and give it a go. I also like how you worked small with the tags- if I mess it up, it's not a lot of material wasted.

Nate True said...

I have an idea for a technique that I used in watercolor once. After applying the stain, wet a tiny paintbrush and paint a design or lettering in water. Then take a paper towel and gently soak up the water. It should take some ink with it, leaving a faded area in the shape of your design.

Sieglinde said...

The was very interesting and helpful! Thank you!

Kathi said...

These are totally fabulous.

I'm pinning them so I don't forget them all!

Thanks for sharing!

primdollie said...

I just found your blog after signing up for Alpha Stamps emails and LOVE your blog and all your lovely felted birds too!! I would love to follow you by email but none here!! :(( will try to keep up with google reader but if you do set up email followup thru feedburner let me know!! your tag tut is awesome!! I love distress inks and stains!! too fun! I will be playing some with them today after this!! :)) thnx for all the great inspiration and eye candy!!!

Jane Wetzel said...

THANK YOU Kira- awesome info :)

silvergran said...

Cool techniques! Must go play!!

Tarnished Rose said...

Thanks for sharing these techniques with us.


LimeRiot said...

Oh no! Another craft supply that I MUST have :). I love the bright vibrant colors. Great stuff!

wwilloww said...

Thanks so much for all those gorgeous techniques!!!

Rhea said...

Wonderful ideas! I am looking forward to trying the oil one. Great tutorial!

Jennifer Jackson said...

Thanks so much for showing all these cool techniques with the Tim Holtz Stain! I just bought some and wasn't sure what to do with it.. now I can't wait to play!

Unknown said...

Thanks for this! Ive just bought some stain, so ill be trying these!!! Thanks for the inspiration!