Category Archives: Tutorial

Australian-inspired Art using Gelli Plate and Masks

Following on from my previous posts, I now have a set of homemade SEAWEED, WAVY STRIPS and BILLABONG BOULDERS masks.

Take 1 rectangular Gelli Plate, some 190 gsm art paper, masks, acrylic paint and a brayer. Now let’s go make Art!

There are several different techniques used here – brayering, rubbing, masking, stencilling, monoprinting.

I wanted to recreate the colours often associated with Australia and her Aboriginal people – shades of red, orange, yellow.

First, I brayered colour onto art paper. I started with a light yellow, laid out in a line, brayered over that with my 4 inch brayer. Laid on a darker yellow, brayered that, blending the colours a bit. Laid on orange paint, brayered that, then red, brayered. Then I laid a stencil (with lots of bubbly holes!) underneath the paper and brayered over that. The rubbing of the brayer over the stencil under the paper created a subtle effect reminiscent of pebbles.

I made up 4 of these, to use as my backgrounds.

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I brayered blue paint onto my rectangular 8×10 inch Gelli plate, and laid some Wavy Strips masks over the plate.

I pulled a print, then removed the masks from the plate using tweezers, and pulled a “ghost print” onto another prepared background paper.
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The first print.

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The “ghost print”.

I used the same method for the Billabong Boulders masks. On 2 of the background papers, I used my bubbly stencil and a pearly white paint to create and strengthen the illusion of pebbles on the left and right of the composition. On one of the papers I used my Seaweed masks.

Here are the results of my experiments.

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Hmmm…I think perhaps sometimes less is more. I really must try my best not to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, in at the same time. Scale it down, girl, pare it back to basics!

For you have plenty of paint and paper, and tomorrow is another day for playing with them. ;-)

More Mask Making – WAVY STRIPS & BILLABONG BOULDERS

Encouraged by the successful outcome of my first attempt at creating my own stencils/masks, (see post here), I had a go at making more masks.

I’d read about using Tyvek for making stencils, but Tyvek it very expensive, when you can get it. My plastic files from KMart cost me $3 for a packet of 6, and they go a long way.

WAVY STRIPS
The Wavy Strips masks are really simple to do. I just used a pair of scissors and cut strips out of my green plastic file. I took care to make the cuts wavy and some parts wider than others.

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I used up all the green plastic, then found myself left with the clear cover part. So I used duct tape to make a simple envelope to house my Wavy Strips masks in. Neat!

BILLABONG BOULDERS
For these masks, I wanted to recreate geographical contours like hills and also represent billabongs (Australian watering holes), boulders and perhaps hint at Aboriginal Dot Paintings.

Using the same technique as for making WAVY STRIPS, I drew shapes on a blue piece of plastic file, and cut them out. I also used up a clear piece of plastic file, so I ended up with lots of circular shapes that could fit into one another, and little and large pebble or egg shapes too.

Notice I’m not precious about cutting exactly along the lines I drew. Accuracy does not matter when it’s organic shapes you’re creating.

Here are a couple of photos of the clear masks just arranged over black paper.
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Here’s a photo of the blue masks:
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Oh, and I made an envelope for them too, using the clear leftover half of the file.

Coming up next – what I did with these 2 masks. Stay tuned!

DISCOVER (4 templates, 12 ways)

I’ve been spending much of my time lately experimenting with Gelli Plate monoprinting. It’s a lot of fun, and some techniques I’ve tried have come out with pretty amazing results. Others, not so. Some I really love and could keep doing again and again, others I am not so enamoured with and won’t try again. As with all Art, you just have to keep experimenting until you hit on something that appeals to you.

One monoprinting technique I learnt and liked on YouTube is this one, by Clarity Stamp.

I made 4 prints using this technique and some stamps. I really liked the torn paper effect and how it reminded me of ancient, crumbly walls newly discovered by some archaeologists.

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I could’ve just gone on and printed more examples using this torn paper technique. But the mobile digital artist in me piped up and said, “Why don’t you try blending photos of those with other photos from your Samsung Galaxy Note 4? You can use the 4 monoprints as templates and generate an entire series of different artworks, with a common theme”.

This was in keeping with one of my main reasons for venturing down the path of real (vs virtual/digital) mixed media – the idea that I could then accumulate enough source material to use as backgrounds for my digital artwork.

And so, using just 2 Apps – Photo Blender and Photo Editor Editor, I followed the suggestion of my inner voice and created these 12 new images, using just the 4 prints that I’d done.

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Handmade Stencils & Masks

I wanted to make my own stencils and masks, for more Gelli Plate printing fun, so I had a look in KMart for suitable materials. I didn’t want to be splashing out money on a simple piece of plastic that could be gotten anywhere.

And I’m pleased to report that I’ve discovered a really cheap source of stencil blanks. They’re a pack of 6 plastic files, in dark pink, blue and green, plus clear for their covers. At $3 a pack of 6, you can’t go wrong.

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For inspiration, I used the seaweed-like motifs on this wrapping paper.
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I cut out the motifs I liked, then placed them on one of the dark pink files, traced around them with a copper Sharpie (the closest thing to hand), then cut them out.

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Et voila! Simple as a pimple. Handmade stencils. Which can also be used as masks…no, not for your face, but to cover over areas you don’t want to paint over.

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Here’s an example of how I combined the use of my handmade circular Gelli plate with my new Seaweed Stencils/Masks. If you brayer a layer of paint over the Gelli plate, then lay a few of the seaweed stencils over that, and pull a print, the stencils act as masks or resists, leaving you clear unpainted areas.

If you then remove the stencils (using tweezers), and pull another print on a fresh piece of paper, this is what’s called a “ghost” print, and you’ll essentially get the opposite of your first print. Areas that had paint will now be the clear areas, because you pulled that off with your first pull, and where the stencils were will now be paint, which gets stamped onto your fresh paper.

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Here are two examples of a simple, basic “brayer on paint-lay on masks- pull print” technique using a rectangular Gelli Plate. I really like the organic shapes of the masks, they remind me of the botanic-inspired prints of Henri Matisse – see the 2 Matisse examples below:

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Hmmm…I may have subconsciously just tapped into my Muse. This has exciting possibilities!

My Gelli Plate Is No More!

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That’s right. You’re looking at the remains of my 8×10 inch Gelli Plate.

No, I did not chop it up for my dinner last night. No, the dogs did not get to it. The Kid did not destroy it.

I have a confession to make. I did it. With a pair of sharp scissors. In my studio. On the table. But I did not do it in a fit of anger. Rather, I did it in the name of Art because I wanted some round or circular Gelli Plates and they were going to cost me upwards of $35 for a small one. And here I had a nice 8×10 inch rectangular Gelli Plate. Actually, make that 2, because I bought 1 for The Kid. His is still pristine in its clamshell packaging because we’ve been sharing mine.

So, instead of buying a circular Gelli Plate or three, I decided to sacrifice mine and see how many new Gellis I could get out of it.

Use scissors, as due to the wibbly-wobbly nature of the Gelli Plate, it is very difficult to cut it accurately with a knife. Even with the scissors, I found it hard to get a perfectly smooth edge, and so my circular plates have small imperfections.

Which won’t matter in the grand scheme of things, as I now have not 1 Gelli Plate but 15 different pieces of varying shapes and sizes, that I can use as stamps for monoprinting.

Note of caution: only resort to this drastic surgery if you are okay with having some imperfections on your resulting plates. Who knows, you might have a steadier hand than mine, or a better and sharper pair of scissors, and your new plates might come out perfect.

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These are the sweet tins I used to mark my circles. In this photo you can see I’ve already cut out part of the large circle. I feel a song coming on: 🎶🎶🎶Past The Point Of No Return🎶🎶🎶.

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Here’s what I got out of my 8×10 inch Gelli Plate.

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Reassembled back onto its original protective acetate sheet. The Gelli Plate is stored sandwiched between 2 of these acetate sheets, and then in a clamshell case, to avoid drying out.

Coming up next…what printing with these new Gelli Plates and stamps looks like.

More Letterpress Stamp Artwork

I don’t know what it is about Western Australia, but it seems to me that the only place I’m able to find Size 8 Shipping Tags is at Stamp It in Victoria Park, which takes me over an hour to get to by public transport. These are the big tags, measuring 10 x 16 cm. They’re the ideal size for practising mixed media art on. I bought a pack of 20 from Stamp It, and only now am I realising just how rare they are.

None of the stationery shops near me have them. Not even my local Spotlight. All they stocked were the usual small tags with the string attached. My local scrapbooking store, Made With Memories, had them…but only in brown or black. I wanted white or cream.

They’re not easily available on eBay either. But luckily I managed to track one lone listing, and by gosh it was a multiple lot too, so I bought 2 lots of 40. Which should last me, oh, til midweek next week.

Meanwhile, I did find some white cards at a very nice size, 10 x 15 cm, very close to the Size 8 tags, at a newsagents.

They’re called “System Cards” and the brand is Panther. Here they are nestled hand in glove inside a thrift store box I got a while back, that had been sitting empty until now. A perfect fit!

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And here’s what I did. I used Tim Holtz’s “White Picket Fence” Distressed Paint for the stamps, and the backgrounds were done and blended using Distressed Inkpads.

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The alphabets that I used to make the letterpress stamps are wooden. The numbers are made of corkboard. Corkboard has a dimpled texture, different from wood, which is smoother. This difference is evident in the prints above, especially in the last one, which looks mottled.

Artful Tags

Yesterday I wrote about how I made my own alphabet and number Letterpress-style stamps using thrift store drinks coasters.

One of my favourite YouTube videos is of the awesome Tim Holtz demonstrating his equally awesome mixed media techniques with his Layering Stencils. What struck me in that particular video was not so much the stencils themselves, but Tim’s explanation about the difference between using paints and inks in relation to resists. I had trouble at first digesting the idea that paints act as resists to other media over it, while inks sink.

Here is that video: Tim Holtz Layering Stencils Part One – CHA Summer 2013: https://youtu.be/KKSvhCT2ZYk

I learn best by doing, so with Tim’s video playing on my computer screen, I followed the steps he showed.

I used my new handmade Letterpress stamps, and one of T Holtz’s layering stencils, “Clockwork”. Another stencil I used was one with gears by Artist Cellar. I used Tim’s “White Picket Fence” Distress paint to daub my Letterpress stamp, which I then stamped over two Size 8 Shipping Tags. I also used Tim’s Distress Ink pads in various colours and blending sponge pads to get the inks onto the tags. Then, finally, using a damp piece of tissue, I swiped over the tags to remove some of the inks and to reveal the white paint resist underneath.

I had 3 cute little ethnic stamps made from mango wood, a bird and 2 leaf designs, so I used them to stamp over the tags.

Very pleased with my efforts, and greatly encouraged to practice even more.
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(S)Printing back into action

I learnt the hard way that you’re absolutely not meant to leave your printer-scanner-copier machine idle for months on end while you gallivant about doing this, that or other. No, you need to play with it at least once a week, if only to print out test pages to ensure that the ink printhead doesn’t dry out from disuse. One simply does not neglect it, my dear. ;)

So, when my trusty old Canon Pixma MX870 suddenly started printing everything in light blue only, I had to go searching on the good old internet for possible reasons and solutions.

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If that ever happens to you, fear not, you won’t have to waste hours looking up keywords on Google and checking out various websites and forums. Because here is the very simple solution, and one that works:

How to remove and clean a Canon printhead: http://youtu.be/ZheZf-vdho8

There’s no need to be precious about it. The printhead is very robust.
And don’t worry either about the chip getting wet, it doesn’t harm it one bit. Just run your tap under the hottest setting you can handle, and rinse the printhead until no more ink drops appear and the water runs clear. Some sites will tell you to use distilled water and/or a hairdryer to dry off the printhead. But I just did exactly as shown on the YouTube video, and now my printer works perfectly again.

You’re very welcome. :-)

A Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Thingy

I believe in full immersion, when it comes to learning something. So, when I say I’m into something, you can bet anything that I’ll be researching all aspects the subject using any available means possible – books, videos, DVDs, online resources, etc. And if by happy chance it’s an Arts & Craft thing, I’ll be getting my hands well and truly dirty trying things out.

I might not get any good at it. I might flub it completely. Or, it might even turn out not as I anticipated. Or, I might get to a point where I simply can’t afford to do it anymore. But at least I know I gave it a good wallop while I could.

My current obsession is Gelli Plate Monoprinting. Essentially, you use a wibbly wobbly flat piece of gelatin, and you lay acrylic paint on it, then you lay shapes or texture plates over to make marks on the paint, then you remove those and place a clean sheet of paper over the gelatin plate to make an imprint. After that, you simply clean the gelatin plate, bray in a different colour paint and lay over more shape masks, remove masks, press your sheet of paper over, et voila! you’ve just done a double layer monoprint. Just rinse and repeat until you’re happy.

Here’s the video that inspired me to invest in a Gelli Plate:

Monoprinting Layers — Step-by-Step: http://youtu.be/8KgkK07fztY

GelliArts are the people who invented the Gelli Plate. You can read more about them and watch more video tutorials, by checking out the GelliArts site here.

And here are just some examples of Gelli prints that I’ve fallen for on Pinterest…just to whet your appetites. (Also check out my Pinterest board “Gelli Plate Monoprinting” for more curated examples).

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If I can be a 1/100th as good as these fine artists above, I’ll be a happy bunny!

So, I hear you asking – where is the Timey Wimey element in all this? It’s in the waiting that has to be done, between layers of printing. I’m not certain exactly how long one has to wait before another layer can be added, but I’m sure that you could speed things up by using a hair dryer. And if you’re like me and don’t own a hair dryer, well then having a packet of biscuits and a mug of hot tea at hand for those “in-between” times can’t hurt, right? ;)

P/S: My Gelli plate arrived today, yay!! :-)

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Connecting The Dots

I love synchronicities, how one seemingly unconnected thing or event can link to another by a series of strange coincidences. Sometimes it’s just 2 elements that get connected, at other times it’s a whole series of elements.

When I started working on this piece of mixed media collage, I didn’t really have any preconceived ideas. (I’ll be honest and tell you right now that I have absolutely NO IDEA what I’m doing when I’m doing a mixed media piece. It’s only afterwards that all the pieces of the puzzle come together).

I found a remnant of card that had music on it, and it became the starting point of this piece. It was a triangular corner piece, and the only place that fit was the bottom left corner of my cradled wooden panel. So, with a musical theme in mind, I chanced upon a piece of vintage dress pattern tissue that had a curve to it, that reminded me of the curved lid on a grand piano. Ta dah! 2 dots connected. I then randomly added some washi tape to my panel.

The middle part of this piece originally had a pattern of birds, berries and flowers on it, that I’d gone over with red and green watercolour pencils. I wasn’t happy with the effect, so I used a light green Tim Holtz crackle paint to cover it up. That came out well, but left some parts uncovered – the little red rings around the berries.

So, I used a printed tissue paper from my own Reject pile (pieces of my own digital photography art that I’d printed onto tissue paper but rejected due to colour inconsistencies, ink blobs or smears, and tears). This one had a big showy flower on it, with some red berries. Perfect. More dots connected.

I’d used a block stamp with French text on it, on the top right and bottom of my panel. The one on the bottom was fine, however the stamp on the top came out with text missing from its middle. So I decided to fill that gap with a stamped birdcage. Said birdcage came out with parts missing from its middle too, so I covered That up with a white “Cherish” stamp made using gesso.

After that, I added some more leafy elements (a stamp on the otherwise empty bottom right corner). I also added 2 bird stamps, a large one and a smaller one. The little bird stamp lacked detail, so I added some white dots to it. I had to add some white, as otherwise the only other element containing that colour was the “Cherish” stamp. I also noticed a bare patch next to the big bird, so, in keeping with the bird theme and to fill the gap, I found and added a picture of a bird’s nest. More dots connecting here.

It was then I noticed how the little bird’s white dots echoed the spots on the washi tape that I’d added earlier. I decided to tie the various elements in tighter, by introducing white dots to the grand piano lid outline.

And now I’m reminded of the Art of Australian Aboriginals, specifically Dot Paintings. Yet another example of connecting the dots.

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Some close-ups:

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