Looking for something? Search this blog:

Monday, September 26, 2016

Make a Splash...With Powdered Pigments

Hello colorful ones!

Have you ever used powdered pigments before? I just got some of the Nuance powders this month from Lost Coast Designs, and have been having lots of fun playing with them. Just a tiny sprinkle of powder and some spritzes of water = hours of entertainment! (OK, so I am easily entertained. But you probably will be too--these powders are COOL!)

The powders are already mixed with binders that are activated by the water, so they stay on the page after you wet them instead of just dusting right off. How convenient.  ;)

So looky here at what they can do! This colorful card was made with these very pigments--I both activated them as dry powder on the paper and used them as "ink" for rubber stamping. Here's how...

This was made by sprinkling autumnal colors of the powder onto white watercolor paper, keeping the sprinkles mostly to one side of the card. I then sprayed the paper with several spritzes of water. Where you use more water, the color runs and flows together, as in the big splash of fiery red and orange on this piece; drier specks of powder can also be seen moving away from the "splash" area, which gives an interesting textured look. (You might have to enlarge the pic to get a good look at this effect.) The amount you spray is up to you! Dryish or wet, these powdered pigments look fantastic, and the colors are beautiful.

Next I took two Lost Coast Designs stamps: an abstract background from the ATC Grunge Set, and the Gothic text block from ATC Text Set 1. To ink them, I stamped into the still-wet "splash" from the Nuance powders; I wanted to carry over the colors from the splash, so I stamped the abstract grunge set stamp into the white area of the card, then stamped the Gothic text block several times to add depth and interest to the splash area. It's OK that the text is wet and messy--it's just to add texture and isn't supposed to be legible. No need to be careful with this technique!

I then gave the whole thing a spritz of heirloom gold shimmer spray...you know, because I like shiny stuff. (Actually, it's super subtle in real life, the shimmer--I didn't use much!)

After drying this background with my trusty heat tool, I then composed the word "October" using the Rustic Alphabet Set from Lost Coast Designs and embossed it with a mixture of green and copper embossing powders for a sort of verdigris patina look. Then I used a bullet-tipped embossing ink pen and wrote the word "welcome" and embossed it too.

(Here's a detail of the embossing showing the two colors of EP...maybe you can even pick up a little of the shimmer here too?)


I edged the card with chalk inks...mounted it on a shimmery pale gold card that I edged with heirloom gold metallic ink...then mounted the whole thing on piece of green cardstock, which I daubed with chalk ink for a soft sort of suede-y look in real life. And that was it for that project!

If you have any love to leave me, I always look forward to your comments below.  ;)

Paula <3

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Technique Tutorial: Cracked-Glass Effect

Greetings NetPeeps! (My teen daughter just cringed as I wrote that.) Today I have a little tutorial for you on how to achieve a cracked-glass effect on small pieces of art like this ATC I have featured over at the Lost Coast Portal to Creativity, where they are currently running a contest--submit any art of yours that uses rubber stamps and be entered to win a gift certificate to buy MOAR STAMPS. What have you got to lose? Nuthin'. But to gain? Shopping spree! So take a picture of your stampy art and go over and enter! Rules here. Deadline September 25. GO!

So...cracked glass! Here's my ATC (entitled "Progress") so you know what we're talking about.

See all those crackledy lines and cracks? This looks pretty cool in person...cooler than on the screen (photos have SUCH a flattening effect, don't they)...and you will definitely want to try this technique.

Here's how I did. First, I will tell you about the background and composition of this card, although the cracked-glass technique will work on top of just about anything you want to do.

So. I took a mini ink-blending tool and swirled some Distress ink in three or four colors onto the card.

To add interest and a bit of surrealism to the background, next I took some Nuance pigment powders by Magenta and sprinkled some onto the card. I used yellow, orange, and magenta pigments. TIP: A tiny bit of powder goes a long way--once you wet it with water, the pigment blossoms and balloons out pretty bigly, depending on how much water you add.

Before I spritzed the powder with water, the card looked like this. Tiny quantities of powder, yes?

(Sorry for the color difference between the first and second photos--I think I used flash on the second one so the powders would show up better.)

While the card was drying after the powder spritzing, I got my stampin' stuff out. I used two cool images from Lost Coast Designs--this awesomely bizarre sort of monk-bug from the Isle of Aud Creatures set (for which I have nothing but profound respect--every one of the images in the set is SO great):

...and this Large Perspective Background that I just love. It's like a surreal Italian Renaissance piazza.

I stamped the monk-bug in waterproof ink (TIP: you want the ink to be waterproof so that the next steps don't smear your images) and then masked him off to stamp the background. So that part was easy-peasy. The composition was done.

NOW comes the cracked glass part. [drumroll....]

I took the ATC and pressed a clear embossing ink pad all over it. I then covered the card in several coats of clear ultra-thick embossing enamel. This stuff is just embossing powder that has very large grains--horrible for detailed images, but great for melting over your entire pieces. It kind of looks like table sugar--here's how my card looked with the unmelted first coat adhered and ready for the heat gun:

One melted coat of the ultra-thick embossing enamel will probably yield a pebbly appearance, which can be a cool look. But for this technique, you want to apply several coats, MELTING each coat before you apply the next. Three coats will probably be enough. (See my post Step-By-Step: A Glasslike ATC for more details on this process.)

Once you have three or so coats of the melted powder on, your art will appear as though it is encased in glass with rounded edges. I tried hard to capture the look for you here:

See the shine in the lower right-hand corner of the above pic? See how the card looks thick and glossy there?

How about here? It's an effect that is just durned hard to photograph.

But just trust me. It will look pretty cool at this point...so cool that you might be tempted to stop here. And I would be sympathetic to you. HOWEVER, if you wanna crack that "glass," here's what you do next...

Put that sucker in the freezer for an hour.

When the resin is thoroughly chilled/frozen, take the ATC out and gently bend it back and forth in several places until the resin cracks. It's fun. You don't want to bend the card so hard that you are creasing it--just stress the cold resin so it has to sprick. (<--Hmm...that may be a Swenglish [Swedish-English] word...but it's just so perfect for the sound and feel that your card will have as you flex the resin in various spots.)

When you're done, your cracked glass surface will look like this:

Cool, ja? (Swedish again.) Talk to me below and let me know if you've ever tried this technique and how your results were...or let me know if you're planning to very soon. Make some art today and feel better!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Retro Art Tag with Translucent Mixed-Media Layers

My darlings! I have another tag for you this week, featuring more stamps from my beloved going-out-of-business Stampsmith. Once the remaining stock on Etsy is gone, there will be no more of these fabulous quirky vintage/retro images!  ;-(  Git you some while the gittin's good! For cheaps, too!

Behold the tag:

Here's what was done. I made a mixed-media background for the tag that has a great layered, translucent quality. On top I collaged a print of two stamps:

Meet Maxine. She is one of The Stampsmith's famed photostamps, and her expressive face and hands mean that she can serve as a wonderful spokesmodel for anything you want her to say.  :)

For this tag, I stamped her with brown and black Stazon ink (mixed right on the stamp) onto some glossy photo paper. Then I masked Maxine and stamped this fab image ("Bed of Roses") around her:

I painted the roses with Distress Inks dabbed onto a craft sheet (Candied Apple, Barn Door, Aged Mahogany) and gave Maxine a halo of Abandoned Coral, then set the image aside to do the tag background.

Now on my craft sheet I swirled Distress Paint in the same hues of red, plus metallic gold and bronze, spritzed my tag and the paint with water, and dragged the tag into the paint. After drying with a heat tool, I rubbed some more Distress Ink over the whole surface with a mini ink tool and misted it with shimmer spray to let that layer of color bleed together and flow down the tag. I sprinkled on some Perfect Pearls powder in gold for good measure while it was wet, and let the tag dry. 

(Tim Holtz has a tutorial on essentially this technique here. He uses colors designed to mimic the patina of copper, whereas I kept mine in close tones for a subtle, glowing look, but it's a great technique that gives richness and depth no matter what colors you choose.)

Once the tag was dry, I stamped some rose images from another company (Deep Red Stamps) in maroon chalk ink in various intensities. This amplified the layered, dimensional effect, making some of the stamp prints look as though they were showing through layers of color.

Here is another photograph in different lighting, so you can see more of the translucence and metallic shimmer:

Now it was time to put it all together. I edged Maxine and the tag in chalk ink. And here are the two parts of the piece before assembly.  :)

Lastly, I printed out my quote in a vintage-inspired font with an insouciant personality to match Maxine's, and sketch-outlined the words in two shades of red Distress marker before cutting and collaging down onto the tag.

I topped the tag off with some whitish satiny ribbon, and saucy Maxine was good to go.

As always, I welcome your comments below. (Oh, wait--[tap tap]--was this thing even on???)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Step-By-Step: Vintage Mixed-Media Tag ("Sweet Mabel")

Hi guys! Today I have a step-by-step breakdown of how I made this vintage mixed-media tag.

I call it "Sweet Mabel." Mabel was the name of the mother of my childhood friend Maryellen, and it struck me as an old-fashioned name even back then. The Mabel I knew was pretty nice, although she looks nothing like the "Mabel" on this tag.  :)

I started with a journaling card that looked like this:

The text on the card didn't really bother me, as I knew I'd be covering most of it up during the making of the tag anyway. So I trimmed the card to tag size and shape and got to work...

I took out a mini ink tool and a couple of colors of Distress ink and went over the lettering to reduce the difference in value between it and the background:

Next, I chose some vintage sheet music and a page from a midcentury book and tore them up, then added a piece of scrapbook paper, and collaged it all down with Mod Podge. At this stage, things looked like this:

This was a good start, but the tag needed some texture and dimension. So I got out my trusty texture paste and a favorite stencil, and quickly slapped some scrolly leaves onto a few spots on the tag.

After letting the paste dry for a couple of minutes, I wanted to blend and distress the whole shebang so it would start to merge into a unified background. I got out some spray stains in Tea Dye and Antique Linen and spritzed a bit...

But the tag still needed MOAR. I dabbed some Distress Stain in Crushed Olive (one of the most awesome colors ever to exist, by the way; you can thank me later) and let the tag start to marinate in all the vintage-colored juices I was bathing it in.

And yet even the divine Crushed Olive was not really doing enough. I wanted the scrolly leaves and vines to stand out a bit more, and I also wished I hadn't slapped the texture paste on so roughly; I wanted it a little smoother. So I decided to blend a custom glaze of Mod Podge (you could use any gel medium) and Distress Stain. I mixed a little Vintage Photo into my medium and painted over the vines.

The glaze pooled a little bit around the texture paste and smoothed everything out a little, helping the vines pop just enough.

Now it was time to put the focal point together. I had a vintage photo of "Mabel" all ready to go; it didn't need anything done to it. But it needed a frame to set her off. I chose a die-cut frame made of scrapbook paper rather than an actual metal frame. But it needed more dimension...so I coated it with clear embossing powder dusted with Perfect Pearls in Heirloom Gold to add just a hint of aged patina, then melted the mixture to the frame.

I glued Mabel behind the frame and fastened it down with some brads, adding a special rhinestone brad at the top of the frame.

The frame was decorated with some peach-pink roses that I fussy-cut from a few odd pieces of paper I had lying around.

And suddenly, all that was left to finish the tag was to punch a hole at the top...edge the tag in copper metallic and brown chalk ink...add a piece of distressed trim to the bottom edge...and tie it with a ribbon.

Et voila! Sweet Mabel lives on in her own tag. As always, I welcome your comments and thoughts below, and am happy to answer any questions if I skipped over something you might have wanted to know more about.  :)

Happy art-making!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Two Looks, One Stamp: The Stampsmith's Ophelia

My friends! You might know from already having read this post how sad I am that the great Stampsmith is closing its doors and liquidating all stock in its Etsy store. The Stampsmith is known for incredibly detailed photostamps (many of which are difficult to tell apart from actual photographs) and very intelligent and quirky images, most of which are vintage or historical. If you care about such things at all (and of course you do!), you might want to visit their Etsy shop ASAP to grab a few of whatever images are left before they are gone forever.

[blows nose loudly into lace-trimmed hanky]

Despite my grief, I thought it might be fun to feature one of The Stampsmith's all-time best-selling stamps in a couple of different projects, not only to whet your appetite for this lovely image (which is still available as of this writing), but because it's cool any old time to see the various looks you can get out of the same stamp. At least, I always dig that kind of thing.

The image under discussion is one of a series of illustrations of Shakespeare's heroines taken out of a 19th-century edition of the Bard's work.

--But soft! What beholdest thou below with thine eye agleam? 'Tis she, Ophelia, languid, nubile, not having gotten herself to a nunnery...

This image above is how the full stamp looks. (Yes, it comes with the text, which you can choose to ink up or not, or even to snip off the unmounted rubber to save for a separate stamp, which is what I did.)

The first project I have for you featuring Ophelia experiments with only partially inking the stamp. You can see that I inked only her face, so that she appears to float in the surrounding textures (which were made with dye inks, matte chalk inks, and metallic inks, which impart quite a bit more liveliness  to the background than the photo shows). The soft edges to the partial inking were meant to evoke a sort of ghostly or apparition-like effect.

The second piece is an ATC whose specifications were that it be made in a Gothic arch shape and in black and white. Here a bit more of Ophelia is showing than in the project above, but I still didn't want to use all her dark hair and garment, so she was again partially inked, and then cut out and covered in layers of B&W collage.

Unlike in the first ATC, where Ophelia is the darkest thing in the composition, in the B&W ATC she is the palest thing. (Unless you count the stars...but aren't stars uncountable anyway?)

The materials on this one were dye and chalk inks, enamel paint, glitter, transfers, and collage, including a black faceted rhinestone in the "firmament" of glitter at the top of the card (which I also thought could suggest a rose window in a cathedral). Because this piece was all black and white, I tried to maximize its dimensional and textural qualities, attempting to include matte and shiny, velvety and rough, hard and soft. Not sure how much of that translates via photograph!--but at least you know what I was thinking.

Anyway, back to the Ophelia stamp. You can see that this is a very romantic and versatile image. FURTHERMORE, The Stampsmith still has it available in a couple of sizes! If you end up getting this stamp, I would absolutely LOVE to see what you make with it. It's very gorgeous. 

But you KNOW I am a sucker for anything Elizabethan (even when reinterpreted with a Romantic-era Roman nose).

Talk to me below! xo