Monday, 30 March 2009

Gesso and Quink

I bought a very inspiring book earlier this year - Textile Translations by Maggie Grey - and have been drooling over it ever since. Maggie also did some supplementary online lessons for those people who have bought the book, making the cover price very good value indeed.

I have worked mostly with paper, card and objects over the last few years, and seem to have a mental block about fabric. I don't know why, I have made many pairs of curtains through my life, and lots of my own and my children's clothes. But textile art is another matter... When I got the book, I didn't have the supplies needed, and now I have the supplies I also have the mental block!

Anyway, to get over my block, I thought I'd try one of the techniques on mount board, instead of craft vilene. I was in a chunky book swap last August, where we all made house shaped pages, and I needed to make some covers for the book.

I glued a selection of torn and crumpled papers onto the mountboard, brushed and stamped with gesso, added a moulded focal piece made form air dry clay in an Enchanted Gallery mould, and sprayed with Quink black ink, and blue-black ink. I also sprayed with a gold color wash spray from Outside the Margins, this doesn't add colour, just very fine gold glimmer. I added another layer of Quink, and finished with a quick light rub of Treasure Gold. Here are the outsides of the book covers:

And here are the insides, the one on the left sprayed with blue-black ink, the one on the right sprayed with black ink:

I need to add some elements to the covers, and bind them to the pages - I may post another picture once the book is bound.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


Citrasolv, an orange oil based cleaner, dissolves the ink in National Geographic magazines to great effect:

and there are at least 3 UK suppliers of the product:

Why not find some old National Geographic magazines and have a play?

Monday, 23 March 2009

And now for something completely different

This piece is a gift for somebody who set their theme as 'botanical'. I have tried to use muted natural colours, to bring a feeling of a botanical illustration book page to the piece.

I gathered the flowers and leaves from my garden, and used the microwave to 'press' them, or dry them. I used a sandwich of ceramic tile, kitchen paper, plant matter, kitchen paper and another ceramic tile, and 'cooked' it on full power for 2 minutes, then 15 second bursts until the plants were dry.

The background is made from pages from an old Welsh language book, with the flowers and leaves adhered using gel medium, and white gesso painted over the whole thing. The stone carved image is an image transfer, with the 'missing sections' drawn in pencil. I finished the piece with a quote by Keats - 'the poetry of the earth is never dead', and mounted it onto some green mount board which had been stamped with Versamark ink.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Queen of the extreme

I made a gift for a friend who set the theme as 'queenly'. So, here is the 'queen of the extreme' paper quilt, which will be whizzing round the world as soon as I can work out how to package it safely (thinking it might be packed with foamboard as a lightweight stiffener).

The paper was torn and sprayed with several purple colorwash sprays, and I added gold embossing powder down the torn edges. Some paper was cut into fancy shapes and run through the Wizard in cuttlebug folders, and applied some Treasure Gold to highlight the pattern, and some self adhesive gems before adding these pieces to the very top and bottom of the quilt.

I ironed some fantasy film onto dark cardstock, then cut that into squares and ran those through the Wizard in the cuttlebug folder, and highlighted the pattern with Treasure Gold. I mounted those onto larger plain squares with buttons, and added them to the top and bottom, layered over some purple organza ribbon. I added some punched flowers between the squares.

I sprayed some small tags, and added brads and embellishments, then layered those over some chiffon down the right hand side, with punched flowers in between.

The main image is a transfer onto fabric, and the 'frame' is lutradur, with puff paint stamping, sprayed with colorwashes, and foiled on the high points, before small holes being amde with a fine soldering iron. the little crowns are brass charms, the larger crown is german scrap.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Ironing and recycling

Household chores are getting to be more and more fun! I recycled this soup tin into a pencil holder using fantasy film and my iron.... I used about 3 layers of fantasy film, just dabbed some white glue onto the can to hold the first layer in place while I ironed it, the other layers just bond to the first layer.

The Green Man embellishment is a moulded piece, made from Friendly Plastic in an Enchanted Gallery mould, and rubbed over with Treasure Gold to take some of the glitz off.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Doing the ironing

Have you ever ironed a pear??? I have!

I was inspired by Zeborah's fantasy gourd and 'dragon eggs', so decided to try my hand at 3-D fantasy film.

Using a combination of a fake pear, pva glue, fantasy film, an iron and a heat gun, I transformed this life sized fake pear into a shimmery other-worldly fruit! It took a little patience, but I got there in the end.

I did try stamping & embossing the pear, but I foolishly chose an interference embossing powder which didn't show (and I thought it was going to show in a deep iridescent green!!!). All this process did was take a lot of the shine away, and I didn't like the pear quite as much. So I ironed on some angelina fibres:

It's still not quite as pretty as it was with just the fantasy film, and you can't really see the texture or colours very well in the photograph, but I rather like it!!

Monday, 16 March 2009

Friendly Plastic suppliers

I've been asked where on earth people can buy Friendly Plastic!

If you live in the US or Canada, I am led to believe Sunshine Crafts is a reliable supplier, and very reasonable in terms of price ($1.49 per stick). They also sell some books and tools.

If you live in the UK, I know Liz Welch at Rare Bird is a world expert who uses Friendly Plastic in some unique ways, and who sells Friendly Plastic and all the tools, DVDs and more that you might need to use with it. Liz also ships internationally, so if you live elsewhere you can still buy your supplies from this webstore.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Hidden Friendly Plastic

I am making a metallic item for Annie. I knew I wanted to have some letters under the metal, to make the words appear in relief, but didn't have any letters to use. I decided to make them myself using Friendly Plastic! I heated the FP on the craft mat with the heat gun, and stamped into the pieces firmly with a texture stamp. Once cooled, I peeled the stamp off, and re-heated the FP. When it was shiny and soft, but hadn't lost it's texture, I used some small letter cutters that I found in Tesco last year. I pushed the cutters in hard, and left them there until the FP was cold.

So, lots of letters! It doesn't matter that they are different colours, nobody will see that. Sorry my pictures are blurry - the macro button on my new camera doesnt work as well as I expect it to!

I cut a piece of thick cardboard, then covered it with several layers of metal tape (from the DIY store, intended for pipe & roof repairs). I added the letters, and more tape over the top. I used a range of tools (Ten Seconds Studio) to make patterns in the metal, and ensure it was well burnished. I coated it with Paynes Grey fluid acrylic paint, and then rubbed mosyt of it off. This takes the 'shiny new' look away.

I added several colours and coats of Treasure Gold, as I know Annie likes blues and greens. I buffed with a soft cloth between colours and coats.

I added green amber Treasure Gold to the tops of the letters, to highlight them.

Added some cord to hang it, and it is done! Hope Annie likes it.

More friendly plastic

Hmmmmn. I am starting to like this stuff. I have been playing a little with ways to use it other than in moulds. Here are some early examples.

1. Friendly Plastic heated with a heat gun (on a craft sheet) until shiny and soft. Lay some punchinella on top, push from behind the craft sheet (use a cloth to protect your fingers) to extrude Friendly Plastic through the punchinella. Picture shows small hole, medium hole and starry hole punchinella.

2. Friendly Plastic, heated with a heat gun on a craft sheet and stamped into - I used a texture stamp, inked up with versamark, and held it down - pressing quite hard - until the FP had cooled some. Leave till completely cold and peel off stamp. In the 2 samples below, I have added Treasure Gold to the left hand half of each sample to bring out the pattern.

3. Stamping into the Friendly Plastic like this leaves you with very thin FP - about 1-2 millimetres or 1/16th of an inch or thereabouts. So I thought it might die cut - I ran some pieces through my Wizard with Cuttlebug dies, and it worked reasonably well. If I stamp harder to make the pieces thinner, and use a sheet of paper or very thin card as an extra shim, I think it will work even better (I had to cut these with scissors in places to get the die cut pieces out).

4. Getting more ambitious. I cut some thin strips of Friendly Plastic and laid them all next to each other on the craft mat, then heated until they all went shiny and soft and stuck to each other. While it was all still hot, I pushed a circle cutter into the Friendly Plastic, then left it to cool. Once cool, I took the cutter and circle out. I took two other colours of Friendly Plastic, heated them, and used the cutter again. Once cool, I had 3 circles and 3 'backgrounds'. I wish I'd taken a pic at this point because they were very pretty. Anyway, I put the circles in the other colours of FP, then re-heated to join them together. And then I spoilt them by stamping into them! They were definitely prettier before I did that. However, this is what I ended up with, I think they can be reheated and used in moulds, or maybe I can cut shapes from them to make pendants.

No doubt I'll play some more today, and share the results later! The only thing I don't like is the waiting for it to cool bit - for some things you can drop it into cold water and cool/set it instantly, but not when it's on a large craft mat. Maybe I'll cut my craft mat into small pieces, so I can just drop each small piece into water as I work. It would certainly speed things up!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Working with colour

Do you ever struggle with colour? Which colours go with which, or which tones to use? Do you know the difference between a warm blue and a cold blue? Or pink? Or a hue and ? Or what a value is?

My friend Beverly Gilbert, in addition to being a wonderful teacher and beader, has a fantastic eye for colour, and has started sharing her expertise on her blog. She has some simple exercises to help people think about colour, and work through colour combinations.

It's well worth a look!

Enjoy - I always do! And looking at all those colour combinations inspires me to go off and make art!

Friendly plastic play

I've been playing with Friendly Plastic in readiness for a swap. I like using FP with silicone moulds as the resulting embellishments are very lightweight and survive the worlds postal systems incredibly well (unlike heavy embossing powder embellishments, which are often shattered by the experience!). You can also make the FP very thin, and sometimes 'partial' moulds are more interesting than complete ones.

I have a bowl of cold water by my side, lay the Friendly Plastic into my mould (foil side down) and heat it with my heat gun until it gets shiny and slumps into the mould. I dip my fingers into the cold water, then use them to push the FP into the mould, making sure it's pushed into all the nooks and crannies. Fingers don't burn if there is water between them and the Friendly Plastic, but they do burn if there isn't - so be careful!

When I have finished pushing the FP into the corners, I drop the mould and FP into the cold water and leave it there for as long as I can bear to. If it has any flat shiny bits when I unmould it, it means that particular bit of FP didn't get hot enough to melt into the mould properly, so I just repeat the process, focussing on that area of the piece.

I find the Friendly Plastic colours a little bright, so always tone down or add other colour by rubbing gently with Treasure Gold wax. Here are a selection of pieces, some made using scraps, some using just one piece of FP. Remember that you can enlarge the picture by clicking on it.

As you can see from the mermaid, you can use more than one colour in the mould - she was made using scraps of turquoise and gold. The green man at the front of the picture was made using lots of small scraps of various colours, the Treasure gold brings them all together into one piece.

I use Krafty Lady moulds, Enchanted Gallery moulds, and some I've made myself using 2 part silicone mould compound, which you can buy very reasonably at Polymer Clay Expess. I am looking at experimenting with different methods of working with Friendly Plastic, and trying to create some lovely things without ending up with a sticky grey mess (which is what many of my efforts were like before I discovered using it in moulds!).

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Metal tape ATCs

I made these metal tape ATCs for a swap. I scanned them and took a photograph and neither came out very clearly! The backgrounds were several layers of metal tape, applied to cardstock, then the whole was run through the Wizard in a cuttlebug folder. I ran round the edges with a herringbone Ten Seconds Studio roller tool.

They looked rather too bright and silvery, and rather than use alcohol inks to colour them as I have in the past, I had a 'grunge' moment and decided to use patina solutions. I painted 2 of the bases with blackened bronze base solution and the other with blonde bronze. While they were still damp, I added the top coat of green patina solution, and... not much happened!

I did get an aged metal look, but nothing remotely like bronze, which is what I'd been hoping for. In the past, I've had lovely distressed metal effects, but in the past I have been applying the solutions to cardstock. I don't know whether my solutions have gotten too old and are not working, or whether they just don't like the metal tape!

Anyway, I sanded over the backgrounds to bring the raised areas out in shiny metal, then added the embellishments. The embellishments are made by heating fun foam until it begins to curl and is slightly shiny, and stamping into it. Hold the stamp down firmly until the foam has cooled, and cut round the image. I coloured these pieces with Treasure Gold waxes in pewter (the outside ATCs) and with a combination of Onyxite and Indigo (the cente ATC), and added keys, hearts and Dymo lettering.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

No paper no card ATCs

A challenging swap - make a set of 3 ATCs without using paper or card. I did consider fabric, but working with fabric never goes smoothly for me (not even if I iron it!!!), so I went for plastic. The bases of these ATCs are thin translucent frosted plastic.

I daubed some micaceous iron oxide onto the plastic, then put 2 ATCs together, squidged the paint around and pulled them apart, to create a textured, organic look. I painted the backs with gesso so that you could see the textured iron oxide more clearly, then coated the front with some transparent fluid acrylic paint.

I added small gold mica flakes in a random stripe down one side, and a couple of spots on the other side. The images are made by inking up stamps with Stazon ink, laying 2 layers of fantasy film on top, covering with baking paper (to protect the iron) and ironing for a moment or two on a medium to high heat. Trim, and adhere. The 'frames' are cream dimensional paint, highlighted with Treasure Gold once dry.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Flight ATC

I had another play with the Ranger Distress inks. A friend said she'd been taught to dab the cardstock onto the ink on the craft sheet, rather than squish or twist - which is what I did before.

I used milled lavender, mustard and shabby shutters this time, spritzed with water then dabbed and patted the card onto the spritzed ink on the craft sheet. I didn't spritz the cardstock, and I gave the card a blast with the heat gun between colours. The effect is quite different - the colours don't flow together, they lay on top of each other, and give the whole piece a mottled effect which I quite like! I stamped and embossed the image with Moonglow Obsidian Bronze embossing powder, and mounted onto some black/gold pearlescent card.


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