Guest Blogger: Yana Smakula

Hello, friends! This is Yana Smakula and I am excited to bring you my monthly video tutorial for Papertrey Ink from the “In The Studio with Yana” video series. I am sharing video tutorials on the 24th of each month, this is my third video, you can catch previous episodes here


I wanted to create a set of simple, yet striking thank you cards and incorporate a bit of heat embossing and watercolor. Usually when these two things are combined paper tends to warp a bit; because I was going for a very clean look I wanted to avoid having my background warp at all cost, so I decided to do heat embossing and watercolor on a separate layer. This let me to an idea of using a die, a coordinating die in fact, to die cut a shape for my project.

Whenever we think of simple shapes to cut for our cards our minds instantly go to the most basic shapes like circles or rectangles or squares, I decided to be a little bit more creative today and went with a monstera leaf die from the Palm Prints die set. The reason I picked this particular die is because of its size. I wanted to use a unique shape that was large enough to showcase the constellations I was planning to heat emboss on it. 


You can chose to use other shapes for this, think about all of those stamp and coordinating die shapes and try to find a shape that is solid enough and large enough to house a non coordinating image like this constellation. It can be a critter shape, a flower shape or a different kind of leaf shape; try to pick something that is clearly defined even without the coordinating stamp.


I started working on my cards by die-cutting monstera leaf out of some Distress Watercolor paper in my Platinum 6 die cutting machine. Next, I heat embossed one constellation onto each leaf using gold embossing powder. 


Not every constellation fit perfectly onto the die cut leaf, but that was okay, I did not mind having some lines go outside the leaf as long as the general constellation shape was clearly visible. 


I picked several constellations and as I was heat embossing them I also wrote the name of the constellation on the back of my die cut. I was never very good at Astronomy, so I can't tell one constellation from another and to save myself from making embarrassing mistakes I labeled each of my leaves on the back to later pair it with the correct sentiment. 


Next, I used PTI dye inks as watercolors and quickly colored a mini galaxy onto each of my die cuts. Painting watercolor galaxy can seem intimidating, but there’s nothing difficult to it. The trick is to layer color and add some black in the end.


One tip I will give you is to heat emboss the image first and do coloring later. And you'll want to do this for two reasons. First – you want the constellation area to be lightest with a few dark spots and if you don't have the image embossed first you can't really tell what color you need to add and where you need to add it. And reason number two – you'll have to wait for the paper to be completely dry to do heat embossing and make sure it is perfect and waiting for it to dry is another step that takes extra time.


Next, I stamped “A Note of Thanks” from the Bold & Beautiful Stamp Set and constellation sentiments from the Star Gazer Stamp Set in black ink and adhered my galaxy leaves on top using glue. I added glue only along the centerline of my leaves to make it appear as if they are floating on the panels. 


I also stamped several additional tiny stars in black ink – I scattered them on the background and finally foam mounted my panels onto 4 Bar and A2 white top folding card bases. 

I'd like to encourage you to pull out your stamps and inks and create identical or similar projects! 

Have fun stamping! 


  • STAMPS: Star Gazer, Bold & Beautiful
  • INK: Hawaiian Shores, Dark Indigo, Blueberry Sky, True Black, VersaMark
  • PAPER: White cardstock (Neenah Solar White 110 & 80 LB), Distress Watercolor Cardstock
  • DIES: Palm Prints dies
  • OTHER: Water Brush, White Foam adhesive, Glue, MISTI stamping tool, Hero Arts Gold Embossing Powder, EK Success Powder Tool Applicator, Hero Arts Heat Gun, Spellbinders Platinum 6 Die Cutting Machine
Nichole Heady

Author Nichole Heady

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Join the discussion 28 Comments

  • 1
    Cindy H. says:

    What lovely cards! And, they look so doable, too 🙂 Thank you for the inspiration, Yana.

  • 2
    Chris B says:

    These are beautiful Yana – thanks for the inspiration

  • 3
    Greta H says:

    Absolutely brilliant idea–LOVE these!

  • 4
    karen b says:

    Very pretty! I love these, your work is so inspiring!

  • 5
    StephClapper says:

    Yana has shared a truly gorgeous card. I’m amazed at how her card is a show stopper, yet simply designed. Genius!

  • 6
    Michele F says:

    Yana I couldn’t love them more … me. a huge fan of star gazing. a Scorpio. and the die cuts LEAVE me yearning for more!!!

  • 7
    RedGem says:

    Great video and this technique definitely has me inspired. Thank you!

  • 8
    HJ says:

    Very pretty and clever cards. I love the design to incorporate the leaf and Star Gazer stamps. They will bring a smile. Have a great day!

  • 9
    Diana Trout says:

    Beautiful! I love these sets too. I wish you put links on your YouTube channel. It took me awhile to find this post and the links.

  • 10
    Billie A says:

    Beautiful cards. Great idea on the design and awesome sentiments.

  • 11
    Sandy M says:

    I purchased the constellations stamp set when it first came out because of a swap I was doing at the time. I have never used it since. Your cards inspire me to drag them out again and make some fabulous birthday cards. Thanks for the idea.

  • 12

    So beautiful, big fan of Yana!

  • 13
    Theresa Payne says:

    They were absolutely beautiful cards.

  • 14
    Anne Sweeney says:

    Wow you are always such an inspiration to me .. I love your ideas., which spark my ideas .. YOU ARE TRULY AMAZING YANA SMAKULA . Glad to have you in my life/ as a crafter / stamper …. And hero ,ranger, spell binder and others , should know .. I do a lot of purchasing ,of their Products because of you …Thanks always for your great Inspiration .. you are truly unique .. Yours in ink Anne

  • 15
    SarahC says:

    Beautifully done.

  • 16
    Diane B says:

    Absolutely gorgeous. Love the constellations stamp set and how you used it.

  • 17
    Annie D says:

    A gorgeous, unique idea, Yana!

  • 18

    Truly lovely, Yana! These beautiful cards took my breath away! ♡

  • 19
    Judy Hall says:

    These cards are stunning! Thank you for the inspiration!

  • 20
    Anne Sturgeon says:

    Breathe taking. As always, your work is amazing.

  • 21
    Linda R says:

    Oh wow! Yana, these are simply stunning. What a wonderful combination of techniques. Thank you for the very detailed and clear tutorial…and for sharing your amazing talent.

  • 22
    Sharli says:

    Breathtaking cards – the idea of using a large die to cut the focal shape into something other than a circle (!) was priceless!! Please tell me, what is the small bottle you use over the cut leaf before you ink up your constellation for heat embossing? Is it an anti static something?

  • 23
    Karren Reda says:

    Wow! The designs are wonderful. I love the technique and want to try it asap! Thanks for sharing your art.

  • 24
    Stefanie says:

    Beautiful cards. I love all of Yana’s work.

  • 25
    Yana Smakula says:

    thank you, Sharli! Yes, its an anti static powder tool, helps to keep embossing nice and neat.

  • 26
    janet says:


  • 27
    Lisa says:

    WOW these are gorgeous I never would have thought to combine the shape with the constellations. Amazing.

  • 28
    StephClapper says:

    Hi Sharli ! I’m a fellow crafter and I noticed your question, as I also left a comment on Yana’s card. The small bottle is an embossing tool. It’s by EK Toools. I purchased mine on Amazon, but is probably available at your local craft store too. Simply type in EK Powder Tool to see a description and purchase if you’d like. It’s an alternative to the embossing pouch by Inkadinkado (Embossing Magic) or other brands that come in pouch form. I love my EK Powder Tool; I simply turn it upside down and give it a couple of shakes. It keeps the extra specks of embossing powder, from sticking to my paper. Hope this helps and happy crafting! 🙂 Stephanie Clapper

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