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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Quick Look: Decorated Box

Recently I participated in an altered box swap. More properly, mine was a "decorated" box. Here's how the top looked:

I started with a plain brown inexpensive cardboard box, about four inches square...

...and painted it with several pale colors of acrylic paint (I used Distress paint in Brushed Sage, Tumbled Glass, and Antique Linen).

I then stamped random bits of text on it using a few harmonizing colors of Stazon ink, distressed the edges with chalk inks...

...and lined it with papers from Idea-ology's Wallflower line.

For the box lid, I stamped designs and embossed them with two colors of metallic embossing powder. (I liked the effect of the two colors of embossing powder together. I used Ranger's gold and Liquid Platinum. These are fairly subtle metallics that blended nicely together.)

The finished result:

I hope my swap partner liked it!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Mini Gallery: Ladies of the French Revolution

Here's a series of three ATCs I did that all feature eighteenth-century ladies in elaborate hats and embossing powder "seals" that I thought seemed reminiscent of how letters used to be sealed with wax.

Another thing that ties this series together is the use of a particular shade of Twinkling H20s, a shimmery watercolor paint. The shade is called "Scarab Beetle" and it is an "interference" color, meaning that it looks like one color when light hits it a certain way, and a different color when viewed from a different angle--in this case, the two metallic colors are a kind of pinkish copper and an olive color. Really gorgeous in person...reminiscent of soie changeante, a French silk that looks different in different lights.  :)

I. "Un Chapeau Magnifique"

II. "Au Bal III"

III. "Secrets of the Fan"

Monday, July 11, 2016

Two Kinds of Resist: Creating a Background AFTERWARDS

Hi guys! I thought I'd bring you a quick tutorial on not one but TWO ways to use a resist when crafting your artist trading cards, journal pages, or any project really.

Today's project is an ATC I made for an Animals of the Alphabet series of swaps that I am doing. (Click the link to see my progress through the alphabet so far!)

The idea here was to create the background after placing the main elements on the card, using two methods to resist the inks and paints I was applying over the images.

To represent the letter G, I chose this fabulous (pathetic?) image of a giraffe from Lost Coast Designs. I stamped the giraffe in black Stazon ink on a piece of white cardstock. You don't have to use Stazon for this technique, but do be sure that the ink you use is waterproof.

Then I took a marker with embossing ink and a chisel-edged nib and calligraphed a flourished italic capital G. I sprinkled it with white embossing powder and heated it until the powder melted. The melted powder is waterproof and will resist any water-based media you apply on top of it.  :)

Tip: Use a pounce pillow before writing or stamping your image and sprinkling your EP to reduce/eliminate stray globules of embossing powder.

Next I applied a clear dimensional gloss medium (I used Ranger Glossy Accents) all over the giraffe, striving to achieve an even coat without air bubbles. This takes a while to dry--I left my project overnight, although it doesn't necessarily take that  long.

Here's what it looked like after applying the gloss medium--I used the flash to take the pic so you could see the gloss:

This gloss medium is really cool. Even if you're not using it as resist, it gives a raised pillowlike effect on whatever image or part of an image you apply it to...sort of like those gel-pillow stickers you can get--although it dries firm and not squishy like those stickers. It has a lot of creative uses other than this one!

So! After your gloss medium is fully dry, the fun begins in creating your background. You can use a watercolor wash, stamp over it, etc. Any water-based media will work, and your embossing powder and your gloss medium will offer stout resistance!

Tip: Before your water-based media dry, it's helpful to take a bit of paper towel or baby wipe and lightly rub over the resist areas to remove any film of color that might dull your images.

For this card, I used a mini ink tool and Distress inks to rub color into my background. I rubbed the ink right over the G and over the giraffe without a care in the world, secure in the realization that resistance was not futile.  :)  After I had the basic colors down, I flicked a bit of water on the ink to create some spots, and suggested a hint of giraffe patterning with chalk ink through a stencil; then I spattered gold and copper metallic powdered pigment all over the card with a dry brush, and misted lightly with water to help bind the dry pigment spatters to the card. I edged it in sooty black chalk ink, and that's it.

Here is the finished result again. (You'll have to just imagine the shine from the metallic spatters, since they didn't photograph anywhere near as shiny and glinty as they are IRL. Also, the giraffe is raised off the card from the gloss medium for a slight 3D effect.)

Here's a pic of a tag I did with the same gloss medium resist technique. I highlighted the figure with the gloss. You can see how the original manila color of the tag shows through so nicely against the bright colors I applied to the rest of the tag. All I had to do was give the figure a quick wipe when I was done going nuts on the background, and voila!

What do you think? As always, I look forward to your comments or questions below!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Step-By-Step: A Glasslike ATC

Greetings, fellow Musers! Today I wanted to share with you a fun technique that you can use for making your ATCs a little special. When you cover your card in a couple of coats of melted extra-thick embossing enamel, it is almost like the whole ATC is encased in glass. The effect is hard to photograph, so here I am showing it at a slight angle:

To make this card, I used a simple background of two colors of acrylic paint (I used Distress Paint in Tumbled Glass and Crushed Olive).

I dry-brushed the blue color in one direction across the card...

...and then came back with the yellow-green color in the other direction. You want to keep the brush on the dry side, so that the undercolor and even a bit of the paper show through. This is just a simple background technique that creates a bit of texture and interest while keeping the focus on the foreground.

After the paint dried (you can speed this up with a heat tool if you like), I was ready to stamp my main image. This cool tree reminds me of Yggdrasil for some reason...it is available from Lost Coast Designs here (Misc. Set 3) already sized perfectly for your ATCs.  :)

I blended three colors of ink right on the stamp for an interesting look--a green and a gray, with suggestions of black. (And in case you are wondering what those black stripes are on my acrylic block...well, I am old, and those are Velcro, because at one time this was the coolest way to handle a large unmounted rubber collection. This stamp comes cling-foam-mounted though--I just used the back side of the block without the Velcro.)

Here's how the image came out on top of the painted background. The edges that escaped the stamped design will be covered up during the edging phase.  :)

Next, I needed a sentiment, so I dug out a lettering stamp set and found that the font I wanted to use happened to exactly fit the word that I wanted to make and the space I wanted to put it in. Cha-ching! Here is the word "growth" laid out in reverse from how the word will print. If you lay the word out from left to right, you will get a surprise when you stamp. Also, it is easy to mix up your b's and d's, so mind your p's and q's.

I stamped the word in black and edged the card in chalk ink.

Now for funsies I wanted to add some sparkle and dimension to be encased under the "glass." On went some glitter-glue dots in gold and green.

TIP: Next, I recommend you mount your image on a stiff piece of chipboard--the sturdier the better, because your card will want to warp after the magical glassy goodness of the next step starts happening, and a heavy piece of board will resist this. If you proceed to the next step with nothing but flimsiness in your project and recklessness in your heart, your "glass" may crack when you try to flatten it out again. Perhaps not the end of the world, but I am here to look out for your best interests and so just thought I'd mention it.

And now the fun part! (I regret exceedingly not having taken any photos of this stage. I think I was too excited. Forgive me.) You take your ATC and press it into the top of an embossing ink pad until the surface of the design is entirely covered with embossing ink. Then you coat the whole front of the card with extra-thick clear embossing enamel, and melt with a heat tool, as one does. But then you repeat the process until you have two or three thick coats of clear resin melted on, and the surface of your card becomes thick, smooth, and glassy.

The result looks like this...although again, that shine and dimension are hard to capture, so here are a couple of angles for you. This first one shows how the glitter-berries catch the light under the "glass"...

The "glass" does add a certain layer of luminosity to the whole card.

Cool, right? And pretty easy. Any questions, please just leave them in the comments below. :) Do let me know if you try this technique and how it turned out for you. 'Cause remember, ATCs are for sharing!


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Quick Look: Dimensional Sparkly Goddess ATC

Greetings fellow Musers upon life and art! Today I bring you a quick look at a recent artist trading card made with a technique I like to use when I want to add strong dimension to a piece.

Here is an ATC I made on a mixed-media background of watercolor, spray ink, and rubber stamping. (The teeny writing is from Misc. ATC Set 3 from Lost Coast Designs; the goddess figure is from the same company's Fortune Women Set.)

(Incidentally, this card is being featured over at the Lost Coast Portal to Creativity in this month's ATC Challenge contest...head over for your chance to win a gift certificate to LCD's amazing stamp store!)

So...after stamping this goddess figure, washing her with sheer watercolor, and accenting her with metallic gel pens, I cut her out and experimented with placing her on the card. Even though I liked the mixed-media background, the composition looked a little flat, no matter where I placed her. I didn't really want to add any other images, but the card needed something...so I pulled out this trusty technique.

"I wanted it to look like she was standing in a puddle of magic"

It involves sprinkling a bunch of different embossing powders and glitters on your card and heating them from underneath (they aren't "fixed" on the card with embossing ink, so they will just blow away if you apply your heat tool from above). They melt and swirl into a really interesting puddle that has all sorts of glimmer, sparkle, and chunky bits, depending on what you add.

This card has some fine embossing powder, some "antique" EP with larger particles of gold, two different colors and sizes of purple glitter, and some large matte purple mica flakes to make the texture even more interesting. Use several different things you have on hand for the most interesting effect.

After I melted them all around, I had a little place for the goddess to stand. I wanted it to look like she was standing in a puddle of magic.  :)  (At this point, I decided I did need to use another design element to balance the card, so I rubbed on a foil fleur-de-lis, added a little more embossing powder mix in the upper left corner, bordered the whole shebang in oil pastel, and pronounced the ATC finished.)

Here is another shot of the card at a weird angle so you can see just how much depth and dimension this technique can achieve. Compare with the above photos to see how different parts shimmer and glitter depending on how the light hits it. (Why, yes, that is my disembodied thumb.)

Please let me know if I can answer any questions about this technique for you, or leave me some love in the comments below. :)

I remain, Musers, very truly yours,

Monday, July 4, 2016

ATC (Artist Trading Card) Contest Challenge!

Hello you artsy people!

I've got some artist trading cards featured today over at the Lost Coast Designs Portal to Creativity, where there is a challenge running to win some gift certificates to spend at the LCD stamp store.

Artist trading cards...juicy little pieces of art to trade or give away...I'm amassing a rather nice collection of interesting work by other artists myself this way. Try your hand at it and see what all the fun is about.  :)

Click on the badge to have a look at some artist trading cards by me and other members of the Lost Coast Design team and read the contest rules...then get stamping, and PLAY! You know you want to.  ;)

Your comrade in arms,

P.S. Don't miss a tutorial or notice of a chance to win a prize...follow the blog via e-mail or add me to your feed.  ;)

Saturday, July 2, 2016

It's Christmas in July! Tutorial: Sparkly Holiday Card

It's Christmas in July over at Lost Coast Designs, where our friends with the quirky and amazing stamps are thinking about fab holiday projects to make this winter, from Christmas cards to tags to all manner of festive delights. Wander on over and have a look, get your ho-ho juices flowing, and start thinking about what cards you want to make and send this year.  :D  Enter your projects to win a shopping spree!

My contribution to the festivities is being featured on the Lost Coast Designs Portal to Creativity today! It's this baby here:

This card is all shimmer, sparkle, and glitter. You might have to trust me on that, because it's SO hard to photograph. In person it looks quite rich and festive.

Here's how I made it:

1) On black cardstock, I stamped this leafy frame from LCD, and embossed it with gold powder. (Oooo...shiny!)

2) I then colored it with two shades of green metallic gel pen. There was already some serious light leaping off the page!

3) I took my figure, this angel from Lost Coast Designs, and stamped it on white stock with a gloss finish so that the focal point would have maximum strength against the busy frame. After fussy-cutting the image out, I highlighted the angel with gold and silver metallic gel pens, and gave her (his? its?--I think angels are supposed to be genderless) garment a light wash of glistening powder in Perfect Pearls Heirloom Gold. S/he/it was now blinding white and shimmery, which is just how you expect an angel to be in real life, right?

4) To maximize the Christmassyness (and yes, I make up words as a matter of habit; don't judge), I added some berries made of red metallic gel pen and red Stickles. I mounted the angel with some dimensional foam so s/he/it would pop off the background even more in all her/his/its white brilliance.

5) Next up, I needed a sentiment. I wrote the words "Christmas Time" ('cause she's holding a clock--get it? Christmas Time?? A HA HA HA) with a bullet-tipped embossing marker and embossed the words in more gold powder. (Oooo...shiny!)  (You will notice that I was a good girl and remembered to use my pounce pillow so as not to get little flecks of stray powder glistening where they were not wanted. [purrs in self-satisfaction] )

6) Now I mounted the whole thing together on a layer of sparkly black glitter paper, then on still heavier plain black cardstock, the edges of which I embossed with black powder. (Oooo...shiny!!!!)

The finished product looks something like this.

So...what are you making for Christmas?  :)  Come on, tell me in the comments below. I wanna hear.

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Paula F
...following the Muse of Mixed Media