Sunday Secret #4 – 7 Ways to Enhance Die-Cuts for Your Journaling!

I am currently obsessed with die-cuts and ephemera (which happens to just be a fancy word for additional paper pieces you may add into projects).  Seriously, I always scope out Tuesday morning for ephemera sets and have a whole large drawer in my desk dedicated to these lovely paper pieces.  But, I’ll be honest, when I began Bible journaling and incorporating these pieces into my pages, they perplexed me some.  I often felt they looked out of place floating around a page, and really had trouble creating a cohesive look with them.  Since then however, I’ve come across a few tips that have really worked for me.  That leads me to my next secret…

Sunday Secret #4 – 7 Ways to Enhance Die Cuts for Your Journaling!

Tip #1 – Ink up the edges

img_1642This first tip is super easy, and one that I use ALL the time!  Using Distress Ink and a blender tool, I often add ink along the edges of die-cuts.  There are two big reasons why…

  1.  This gives the die-cut a softer look and creates less of a harsh edge when the die cut is placed on the page.
  2. Using a colored ink ties the die-cut into the color scheme I am planning for the page.  It also gives it a unique and worn look instead of looking just fresh out of the package.

img_1647A similar effect is achieved when you outline die-cuts that are already adhered down to the page.  A simple border or perhaps a more detailed doodled border makes the die-cut pop off the page!


Tip #2 – Use them as tabs on your page

While I love ribbon tabs and pre-cut paper tabs, using die-cuts as tabs helps the page stand out amongst the rest of the pages when your Bible or art journal is closed.  Plus, when a die-cut is a bit larger, it is easier to find a place to use it if you are willing to have it also serve as your tab!



Tip #3 – Add texture

img_1629This tip might just be my favorite!!!  Adding texture to your die-cut adds interest and detail to a page instantly.  In the first example, I used sequins both on the die cut and flowing onto the paper so that the two flow seamlessly together.  I’ve also used embroidery thread to add a small pop of color and a whole lot of texture by doing a simple stitch around the edges of a die-cut or ephemera piece.  You can also use a nail file to rough up the edges of a die-cut piece for a more rustic look, or place puffy stickers directly on top of the die-cut to really bring it to life.




Tip #4 – Make them move!

img_1634I often use larger die-cut pieces as tip-ins or to hide private journaling by adhering only one side of the piece to the page using washi tape.  One of my favorite things to add to a page are doors that actually open or close.  Something about making the page interactive really helps me to engage with the scripture in a deeper way.  I also enjoy having die cuts “jump” off the page by only adhering part of the die-cut down, as seen in the butterfly example below.



Tip #5 – Run them off the page

img_1646Working in the margins of a Bible can be challenging, even if you do have the larger Illustrating Bible.  When I first started journaling, I tried and tried to make die-cuts fit in the margin without covering Bible text.  So challenging!  As I’ve journaled more, I have discovered just how lovely it looks for a die-cut to go off the page.  While it always pains me to cut up a beautiful piece, having it placed “going off” the page provides more artistic detail.  It gives the eyes the impression that the page is meant to keep going and saves you from covering up text if you would prefer not to.



Tip #6 – Add ink or paint over the top

img_1632What a fantastic way to make a piece your own.  Adding a layer of Distress ink completely over the top of a die-cut can provide a worn or distressed look to the piece, or completely change the coloring to match your page.  Additionally, I have used metallic watercolor, gel pens, and dimensional paint like Nuvo Crystal Drops to add dimension and sparkle to ephemera pieces.  This adds that little extra something that gives the paper piece some life!



Tip #7 – Layer, layer, layer!

img_1654This might be the most important tip I have for you.  There is nothing odder than seeing a die-cut floating by itself on a page.  It needs something to anchor it, or a grouping to ground it to the paper.  If the die-cut is a person or animal, consider using washi tape to give it a place to “stand”.  Or perhaps using watercolor or stamping behind the piece to create a background for it to lay on.  I tend to group my die-cuts with different textures and layers to create interest and to ground the cluster.  Our eyes prefer groupings of 3 naturally, so consider grouping your paper pieces in threes, working with a small, medium, and large pieces.  Layering takes some thought and practice, but it also takes your pages and layouts up to a new level as well!




As you can see, the art of using die-cuts is all about going that extra step to add the detail and nuance that ties them seamlessly into your other page elements.  Are you an ephemera lover like me?!?

Keep it creative,

-The Scrappy Wife


Published by Elisa

I'm a mom of 3 who loves all things creative! My current passion is bible journaling, a creative outlet that has really shaped my faith journey. I'm also excited about diving into some memory-keeping projects and dabbling in a bit of art journaling.

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