Friday, 31 October 2008

Shrink plastic playtime

I've been playing with shrink plastic. Please excuse the awful scans, my Hewlett Packard all in one scanner, copier, printer doesn't like scanning anything which isn't completely flat.

I shrink all my shrink plastic on a thick wooden board. If you shrink it on top of paper, it will probably stick to your paper half way through the process and you'll never get them apart!!! I think a craft sheet base is also good.

Lots of people have trouble with shrink plastic, I used to when I used the Milwaukee type heat gun and I don't have any trouble since switching to the 'hair dryer' style of heat gun. I also take the heat away once the plastic starts to 'move' and bring it back to specific spots to try and control the process. If it starts curling, aim the heat to the underside of the curl and it will curl back and flatten out. If you do this throughout the shrinking process, it is unlikely to curl enough to stick to itself. When you think it;s finished shrinking, if it's not flat enough for you, you can use a pallette knife to flip it over and give the back a bit of heat. Flip it back, and if it's still not as flat as you'd like, lay an acrylic block on it and leave it to cool under the block - if you press, you will also squash the plastic and it can go out of shape.

Remember when adding colour to shrink plastic that it intensifies hugely and often darkens as the plastic shrinks. If you lightly sand the shrink plastic before colouring, it 'grabs' the colour better. Use a nail buffer or the sanding blocks Lucky Squirrel sell for the purpose, or very very fine sandpaper. sand one way, then again at 90 degrees, so the sanding is 'cross hatched'. If you want your shrink plastic to have holes in it, or a particular shape, cut it out before heating, as you won't be able to cut it afterwards.

If you want all over colour, add just enough that you can only just see the colour, and you will probably find you've added more than you planned once shrunk! You can use chalks (probably the best think to colour clear shrink), colouring pencils (good for background colour), pigment inks (good for background colour and images, but pretty opaque), Brilliance inks (good for everything, but need to dry overnight for images), Stazon (great for images).

Remember, you can click on the images to see larger versions showing more detail.

This pair of ATCs use 3 different colours of shrink plastic in 3 different ways. The ATC on the left has embellishments made from clear shrink plastic, stamped on with Galaxy Gold brilliance ink (and left overnight to dry - this ink is marvellous on shrink plastic but it really needs that drying time). The colour is added on the same side as the images, also Brilliance ink (but you don't need this to dry before shrinking, as it doesn't matter if it smudges. Shrink, and edge with a Brilliance ink.

The ATC on the right has a randomly shaped left over piece of black shrink plastic (although colour probably doesn't matter here) which I coated with a pretty thick coat of Stewart Gill Pearlise (Black Pearl) . This technique works will all Stewart Gill paints, I haven't tried it with other fabric paints, and it doesn't work with ordinary acrylics, as far as I know. It's something to do with the binder in the paint, I think. Anyway, once the paint is on, just heat and shrink (more carefully and slowly than usual, in stages if necessary, you want it to curl as little as possible). The paint ruffles and creates an 'encrusted' texture on the surface of the shrink plastic. The texture also has some shimmer, which means if you get your colour combinations right, it can look like bronze which has been under the sea for centuries...

The other piece of shrink plastic was white, but I added some ochre pigment ink to soften the background colour, then stamped the image with black Stazon ink. This is is fantastic for using with shrink plastic - it dries very quickly and is permanenet, so great for images.

This dangly decoration design is based on a lovely gift Maggi sent me. She made hers in paper, I decided to try it in shrink plastic. I used clear shrink plastic, and stamped all images with black Stazon. I added background colour using Colorbox pigment inks. The smallest squares were punched using an inchie punch, the others were careful measured and cut squares. It's all 'Lucky Squirrel' brand shrink plastic, and I wasn't careful to keep the orientation of the shrink the same after I had punched. The shrink plastic shrinks ever so slightly more in one direction than the other, so my carefully measured squares have come out as diamond shapes. No problem with that, but I would have liked it if they had all been short and fat or tall and thin. I will make another, ensuring I keep all the shrink the same way up!

I have noticed that tall oblong pieces often shrink into parallellograms, or shrink 'off square', and squares often turn into diamonds. I wish they'd invent a shrink plastic which shrank in completely true proportion to the original. This effect shows more and more the larger your piece is. So if you don't want it to be noticed, work with pieces which are less than 2 inches in any dimension before shrinking!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Opals embossing powder & ironing

I have wanted to play with Annette's 'Ironed Opals' technique for some time, but don't have anywhere to buy the Vilene stuff Annette uses. I'm also not quite sure which Vilene product it is. Today, I decided not to let that stop me experimenting, so I tried the technique using what I have at home. I bought some nappy liners a long time ago, but could never make them go into interesting holes (which is what I had bought them for!!!). Today, I laid a nappy liner on a piece of non-stick baking paper, then laid a sheet of iridescent gift wrap on top, then sprinkled with Opals, added another nappy liner, plus another layer of non stick paper, and ironed the whole thing:

You can see the gap half way down on the left where there was no gift wrap. The nappy liner behaves differently when there is nothing to stabilise it.

So, I tried just using 2 nappy liners with a layer of Opals between them:

The Opals fuse the nappy liners together, and if everything gets hot enough, the nappy liners start to make holes. When you peel the Opals sheet from the non-stick paper, it is not very shiny. A quick blast from the heat gun brings back the shine. It also makes more holes, and enlarges holes made whilst ironing. It's a balance between getting the shine back and not destroying the whole piece!

Next, I decided to try and stabilise the nappy liners by adding scraps of gift wrap, and sprinkling snippets of metallic fibres over the 'sandwich filling' between the nappy liners. And I like the 'fabric' of this best (not so sure about the colours LOL):

The scraps of gift wrap stop holes appearing in the nappy liner, so do little piles of the metallic fibre stuff, cut into short lengths. The metallic fibre is something I bought from BitsNPeices4U in the belief that they might be fusible fibres (which they are not). Click on the pictures above for more detail.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Christmas presents

I have been busy making 24 Christmas presents for the 12 days of Christmas swap on CC Swaps yahoo group.

I won't spoil the surprise for the recipients by posting pictures of what I made, but I was so pleased with the way they looked when I'd finished wrapping them (never my strong point LOL) that I thought I'd share that here.

For the smaller presents, I sprayed mulberry or silk papers with colourwash sprays, and for the larger flatter gifts, I crumpled brown paper up then sprayed each sheet with 3 colours of Radiant Rain. A quick handmade tag and tied it all up with soem interesting balck yarn to add drama. I hope the recipients realise that the wrapping is part of the gift, to be used in their art!



Please note that I assert myself as the creator of all art on this site (unless I credit another artist) and retain copyright of all artwork posted on this site