Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Not Created Equal

All paints are not created equal. I discovered that fact this week when making some Gelli prints with a different kind of paint than I typically use for my ATC backgrounds.

The DecoArt Crafter's Acrylic craft paint from the dollar store has been the paint of choice up until now. The colour selection is not huge but there's enough variety for my needs and it is easy to blend colours to get a custom palette.

What I don't like about it though is the dull, grainy finish when it's dry. A coat of Mod Podge gives it a sheen and brightens the colours but then it is hard to stamp or use marker on top of it without smudging.

I picked up some Time 4 Crafts acrylic paint in tubes a while back on clearance at a discount store. There was only a few colours to choose from, but I picked up one of each one (about 5 in total).

This paint dries with a glossy finish that I like so I thought they might be good to make Gelli prints with. Which leads me back to my opening statement...All paints are not created equal.

You don't need to use as much of the Time 4 Crafts paint as you do the dollar store craft paint. I put down way too much! It spreads differently with the brayer too. By different, I don't mean good or bad, just different. My first attempts are less than favourable in my eyes. Frankly, the word 'ugly' comes to mind.


I think it is going to take a bit more practice with this paint before I get results that I'm happy with. Now, I have to decide what to do with these (plus three others) to rescue them from the horrible fate of getting thrown into the shredding pile.

Perhaps some stencilling will help, or a coat of white paint on top to mute the colours down a bit. What would you suggest?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Making it Work: One Way or Another

It seems that my recent ventures into tablet weaving have been both challenging and rewarding. Not without its own issue, this project is almost completed.

This is the first time that I've made a piece of trim in three colours but that was not my initial intention. It was supposed to be royal blue and lemon yellow only.

A not so funny thing happened when I was warping up the loom. I had miscalculated how much of the blue that I had left and I ran completely out at 16 cards. That would have resulted in a very narrow trim, about 1/2" wide only.

What was I to do? After a few minutes of head scratching and concentrated thought, I decided to add a third colour to give the piece a double, two coloured border. That brought it up to 20 cards, approximately 3/4" wide.

I'm quite happy with how it's turning out and will 'purposely' add a two coloured border in future projects. It will be a great way to use up some of the bits of leftover crochet cotton I have hanging around here.

This piece, when finished, is destined for my Etsy shop also. And who knows what adventure or discovery the next tablet weaving project will bring!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Unexpected Results and a Giveaway

I've been playing around with my Gelli plate recently and coming up with some interesting backgrounds for my artist trading cards.

I don't have very many texture tools (yet) and have been trying to find everyday items around the house to use to create different effects. I've used bubble wrap, popsicle sticks, yarn and cardboard tubes, among other things.

The one that I got the most unexpected result from was a kitchen paper towel. Doesn't this look really wicked? I was only trying to gently dab off an excess of paint from the Gelli plate but when I pulled up the paper towel, this design was left behind.

To be honest, at first I wasn't sure that I liked the resulting print but I knew if I tossed it, I'd be sorry. It was several days later that an idea how to use it came to mind.

I recently purchased the Dina Wakley Scribbly Women acrylic stamp set (with a 40% off coupon, of course). I stamped one of the images onto each of the cards. A couple of them don't stand out as much as I would have wanted but I'm pretty much committed now.

I did an online search for quotes that I could add to each card. I collected a long list of them but needed to narrow it down to six. It's more of a challenge than you think to find good quotes that are short enough to use on such a small canvas.

I was going to print the words on white paper and outline them with black around the edges but thought that it might be more effective to use yellow paper instead. I had to 'audition' both options before finalizing my choice. I ended up choosing white paper afterall.

Here are the final ATCs. I outlined the words with a black gel pen and went around the edges of the cards with archival ink applied with a sponge blending tool. I'm reasonably pleased with the results.

And now for the giveaway. To qualify, add a comment to the bottom of this post and your name will go into the hat. One winning name will be drawn on Wednesday, June 15th. I will announce the winner on my facebook page but will also contact the lucky person privately to arrange delivery of their prize, a Forever In Time clear acrylic stamp set. The sentiments are ATC size.

Don't forget to leave a comment below for your chance to win. Good luck to you all!

Update June 15, 2016: All the names of people who commented below were entered into Random.org and a winner was selected. Congratulations to Sarah Ruth! Your stamp set will be in the mail tomorrow.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

New Camera

This little Sony Cyber-Shot (7.2 mega pixels & 10X zoom) camera has served me well. I acquired it many years ago with my Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum points. For the last couple of years, I have not been able to download photos directly from the camera, even with a new cable.

I had to purchase a card reader and remove the card from the camera each time I wanted to download photos. An extra step, for sure, but still relatively easy to accomplish.

My Optimum points have slowly been adding up and today I finally had enough, the very top level, to purchase a new camera. I've been waiting and planning for this day for months.

Here is my new camera...
To my surprise, when I went into the store this morning a big sign greeted me...Seniors Day - 20% off regular price items.
What a bonus day for me! Between the senior's discount and my Optimum points, I got this beautiful Nikon Coolpix L340 (20.2 mega pixels & 28X zoom) camera for under $20. I am doing a happy dance today! I'll will be spending some time this weekend playing with my new toy, you can bet on that.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Progress Made

The tablet weaving project is moving along, albeit slowly. It took me over an hour to recover from the broken thread but I finally got everything untangled and tied off so that I could continue. You can see by the photo that progress has definitely been made.

However, continuing issues with the tensioner have been challenging to overcome. It keeps requiring 'bandage repairs' in order for me to keep moving forward.

The problem is that the screw is stripped. The soft pine wood it is made from was not designed for the amount of usage mine gets.

So, I have to keep stopping and attempting to tighten it up as best as I can. Several wooden toothpicks and a wee bit of my sanity have been sacrificed along the way.

On the weekend, I went to Home Depot and purchased a hardwood dowel and the hardware to make a few more tensioners. Since I don't have the tools or expertise myself, I went to visit my youngest son.

After showing and explaining to him what I needed and why my current tensioner was no longer working for me, he agreed to make me a few.

Of course, he has a 'better' construction idea than mine and I'm okay with that as long as they work. It is way too frustrating to have to keep fixing this old tensioner every time I turn around.

By tomorrow evening, I should have the new ones. I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Project Woes

I decided to change creative directions in order to get back on track. I've been stymied lately and really need to get myself motivated again.

So, I turned to the inkle loom. My Etsy shop could use a few more pieces of tablet woven trim. It's been awhile since I've made any new ones and several have sold over the last few months.

This project has been fraught with problems from the start. I selected burgundy and bright yellow crochet cotton to work with this time, a lovely combination.

I chose a very simple pattern that I've used before. I still consider myself a beginner at weaving but I have had success with this design before so it seemed like a good choice.

Then my troubles began. I started warping up the loom only to discover that the tensioner was not doing the job it was hired to do and I ended up having to cut my losses on that thread. I hate wasting supplies but there was no way to recover from it.

I had to get a friend to fix the tensioner for me before I could make another attempt at it. I began to warp up the loom once more. Step one  was completed successfully this time. Hurray!

Trying to establish the pattern is always a bit of a challenge for me. There was a lot of frustration and concentrated effort along the way but I finally got it going the way that I wanted.

I have about 6" of a 9' piece done, when one of the threads break! Are you kidding me? It is at times like this when I can see the value of 'scream therapy'. I cannot believe the bad luck that I'm having with this project.

My task this evening is to see if I can 'fix' it. I am going to be very upset if I can't. Wish me luck.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Artistic Block

I’m watching lots of art tutorials and admiring the work of so many fabulous artists online. There are so many techniques that I want to try, so many ideas swirling around my head.

But when it comes down to getting started...putting that first bit of paint down onto paper or canvas...I’m totally intimidated. What if it doesn’t look ‘good’? What if I make a ‘mistake’? The world will surely collapse around me! Right?

I know, I can hear you all now. There are no mistakes in art. Art is a creative expression of your thoughts and feelings. There is no wrong or right, no good or bad. Intellectually, I know and understand this.

Try to tell that to my conflicted brain! The right side (creative) and the left side (logical) start to battle as soon as I sit down at the work table in my studio/office. I pull out materials, lay them out in front of me, and freeze.

 When I have been able to suspend belief though, the results have impressed even me. Take this art journal page that I recently did. After watching a video and working on the cat for quite some time, I was going to throw it out. After all, it wasn’t as ‘good’ as the one in the video. And any attempt at 'fixing' it seemed to make it worse.

However, anyone that I shared a photo of it with thought it was fabulous. So, I took a few deep breaths and plunged in. I committed myself to moving forward and finishing the page in spite of my reservations.

Surprising even me, it turned out pretty good. How can I shut down that logical side of my brain more often and allow art to happen as it should?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

ScrapFest In Kitchener

I had such a marvelous time at ScrapFest in Kitchener, ON yesterday! While it was primarily a scrapbook event, a lot of the materials and techniques are transferable to any number of paper crafts, such as artist trading cards and greeting cards.

They had a plethora of free mini workshops. I learned a few things and came home with a bunch of take-aways that I made.

Tags are another popular canvas to create on. This one combined several techniques...painting, stenciling, stamping...to end up with this beautiful tag. The flowers were punched out of card stock, then painted and embellished with a marker. They were applied to the tag with foam dots.

Next came this little embellishment that can be added to a greeting card. The flower was stamped onto card stock, then the co-ordinating die was use to punch it out on a Big Shot. The fancy corners were made with a corner punch and the greeting stamped on. You can't really tell by the photo but the petals of the flower were slightly curled up with a pencil, then a foam dot adheres it to the tag.

This was a really quick and easy project. A bit of Distress Ink applied with a sponge and some rubber stamping with different colours of ink created a very simple but pretty design. it was glued to a kraft bookmark base and a bit of ribbon was added to finish it off.

I learned how to make a little gift bag using heavy-weight scrapbook paper, ribbon, a small circular tag with a word stamped onto it and a bit of glue.

Copic markers and I are never going to be able to work together, at least not in the near future. As lovely as the instructor was, praising my work, clearly I am not skilled at it. It is great to be able to try out new techniques though without investing the money in products that end up not working for you.

Another tag workshop came next. The flowers were flat die-cut spirals that we painted, then rolled, formed and glued into shape. A gem was glued in the centre. The kraft tag was stenciled first, the leaves and flower glued down, and the metallic die-cut greeting added. Some canvas ribbon and string finished this one off.

Here's another interesting project made with heavy-weight scrapbook paper. It is a sleeve or pocket for a gift card. A little bit of glue, a paper doily, a punched out scalloped circle from patterned paper, artificial leaves and flower, along with a hint of bling create a unique and beautiful way to present a gift card for any occasion.

There were long line ups for this mini workshop, and from the end result, I'm sure you can see why. In the afternoon, the crowd thinned out and I was able to get my turn. This Christmas card used a lot of die-cuts and a variety of Distress Ink colours applied with a sponge. It is so simple to do, once you know all the steps and how to put it all together.

For this one, a glossy paper was used. A rubber stamp was coloured with water-based markers then stamped onto the card. I faint background image was then stamped on. The stamped and die-cut butterfly was coloured, and applied with a foam dot.

This small tag was punched out with card stock. The flower was stamped on with Versa-Mark ink. White embossing powder was sprinkled onto it and the heat tool used. Once it cooled down, alcohol ink pens were uses to apply colour to it. I did not realize that you could colour on an embossed image. Add a piece of ribbon and, voila, it's done!

This was the last workshop that I attended. This is on watercolour paper. The hearts were masked off and the paint applied. Once the masks were peeled off, some paint splatters and the stamped sentiment were added. The string was taped on the back and wound around it a couple of times and taped at the other end. A bow was made from the same string and glued down. The button was glued down next, as well as the sequins. The decorated card was glued to coloured greeting card base.

I did not actually end up buying very much at this event but I sure did learn a lot of new techniques and get some wonderful ideas for future projects.

The highlight of the show was getting to spend a bit of time with my friend, Natialie, who was conducting one of the workshops.

I'm already counting down the days until ScrapFest comes to my hometown in September!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day, 2016

I won't have the opportunity to post on this day (February 29th) for another four years so I thought I should take advantage of it now by looking at some of the customs, traditions and superstitions that are associated with it.

According to an old Irish legend, St. Brigid struck a deal with St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every four years on February 29th.  This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in the same way that Leap Day balances the calendar.

A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day. In many European countries, the tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman's proposal on February 29th has to buy her twelve pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. During the middle ages there were even laws governing this tradition.

In Scotland, it used to be considered unlucky for someone to be born on Leap Day. Greeks consider it unlucky for couples to marry any time during a leap year, and especially on Leap Day. In Russia, it is believed a leap year is likely to bring more freak weather conditions and a greater risk of death all around.

How or why some of these beliefs and traditions ever started is lost to obscurity but it was fun looking into some of them on this Leap Day, 2016.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Artwork Adventures

I thought that it was about time for me to share with you, my loyal blog readers, some of my recent artwork.  The jewellry making supplies have been set aside for now, the knitting needles lay unused in a drawer, and the inkle loom has been idol.

My art form of choice recently has been artist trading cards. I found a new group that strictly trades these little works of art. No random discussion, no confrontation, just trading. And it is a very active group, so I have a binder almost full of artwork from around the globe.

I've been experimenting with a variety of different techniques, styles and materials with varying levels of success. Even the not-so-successful efforts have taught me some important lessons, so it's all good. Here I go with a sample gallery of my recent work, along with simple explanations of the process.

I did a series of these owls for the trading group. The backgrounds are made with hexagons punched from security envelopes, the kind that you get cheques in. The accounting department at work has been saving me all the incoming envelopes and not only have I acquired a lot of used postage stamps, I've utilized some of the interesting patterned paper too.

Vintage photos seem to be quite popular with the artists making cards, so I have taken advantage of some of the old family photos that I have been scanning for my ongoing genealogy project. I simply reduce them in size and print them off for use in my creations.

Acrylic craft paint from the dollar store has been one of my favourite mediums for creating interesting backgrounds. I apply it with brushes, sponges or spray bottles and have used various stencils and tools to create one of a kind backdrops for my cards. Google has been my friend when looking for quotes and sayings to add to my cards.

I have collected a number of paper punches of various sizes and shapes and often use the punched out shapes to embellish my cards. I've printed images, such as this little monster, and fussy cut them to apply to my ATCs. I try to pick images that are not too detailed, they can be a pain in the neck to cut out.

And speaking of used postage stamps, they too have been utilized for my artistic endeavours. My postage stamp mandalas have proven to be quite popular with the trading group.

I have a variety of patterned scrapbook papers that I cut or rip, along with old book pages and magazines that I've used to create unique backgrounds for my work. This one pictured above was done on a piece of 8.5" X 11" card stock, then cut down into ATC size pieces (2.5" X 3") and embellished like the one below.

A printed phrase, punched out star and an acrylic stick-on gem was all this needed to complete it.

A friend and fellow ATC artist provided me with the die-cut windows to create a series of these cards using old Christmas cards as the outdoor scenes.

An old holiday greeting card was used for this one too. I scanned it, then reduced it in size and printed it for this series of ATCs. Mounted on card stock to frame it, with a punched out star and short phrase made these ones quick and easy to make.

I've experimented with a grunge technique using crayons and black craft paint creating a background like a scratch & win ticket. First you colour the entire surface with wax crayons. Then you cover the whole thing with black paint. Once it's dry, you take a coin and scratch away as much of the black paint as you want to get this interesting effect.

I've also used these die-cut windows to make cards that are looking to the inside, instead of the outside. Patterned scrapbook paper, along with a printed image of Mona Lisa and a phrase complete each of the cards in this series.

I've been playing around with embossing powders, rubber stamps, a heat gun and distress ink to add interest and variety to my card backgrounds.

I've even tried colouring a printed image with pencil crayons. Add a couple of punched out butterflies and letters to make the words 'BEST FRIENDS' and you are done!

That brings me to yesterday when I got the bright idea that aluminum foil, something we all have in our kitchens, might be a fun collage element on my ATCs. I was able to achieve a cool textured look by crinkling up the foil. It was fun to experiment with but I won't likely use the aluminum foil very often. As you can see, this card uses a lot of the elements I've already mentioned...vintage photo, printed word. patterned scrapbook paper and a couple different sizes of star paper punches.

So, I've been having a lot of fun with this and the adventure will continue. *smile*