Category Archives: Tutorial

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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Project Palimpsest/Butterick: Some Art I Just Created

Following on from yesterday’s Freebies, and in line with my recent obsession for mixed media art, here are some examples of Art that I’ve created using close-ups of my Project Palimpsest/Butterick canvasses.

The images on the left are of the close-ups, and on the right are the results after blending. There is some discrepancy with the size of the originals and the results – this is because I have resized the final image.

The App I use most for blending images these days is called Photo Blender. Not the most imaginative by name, but it offers the highest number of blend modes than any other App I know of. I really enjoy playing with the different blend modes until I come across one that I like. All effects are tweakable by simply swiping your finger across the screen.

Here is the link to Photo Blender: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.primary0.photoblender

You can click on any image to see a full-page version of it. Enjoy!

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P/S: I think I just might put these up for sale on my Society 6, RedBubble, Zazzle and FineArtAmerica stores. Hmmm…:-)

Project Palimpsest/Butterick: Part II

Okay, continuing from yesterday’s post, I’ve decided to add just a few more details to this project. (Not too much, as I was working concurrently on another Palimpsest/Butterick project and muddied things up by adding too much, too soon…and now I have no choice but to gesso over the whole lot and start again).

So, this is how my 2 pieces ended up:

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I added some blue to the first, as an afterthought, as I didn’t want the other canvas to get lonely. I also added a bit more blue to the second canvas, around the lower right edges.

These look almost Australian Aboriginal to me, with the dressmaking lines, red and blue paint dots, and circular stamps serving as representations of rivers, people and watering holes (billabongs). They also remind me of Ordnance Survey maps.

Now all that’s left to do is to paint the sides of the canvas black, then seal the whole thing with a couple of coats of spray varnish. I use a gloss car varnish, if you must know…after much experimentation with art store spray varnishes, and much disatisfaction with their results, I have finally found the varnish I like, and I’m sticking to it. Unconventional, I am! 😄

I just got an idea, I’ll take close-up photos of these and save them to my phone’s camera roll. That way I can use them as backgrounds for future projects. Clever, eh? ;)

Project Palimpsest/Butterick: Part I

This project is called Palimpsest/Butterick because it uses the technique of covering over an existing artwork with gesso, and then adding other elements over it, in this case pieces of vintage Butterick tissue paper sewing patterns.

I started this project with a view towards Abandoning the artwork in a public place for people to find and take home. But I like the 2 pieces I’m working on right now and might keep them…☺.

The 2 canvasses I used had identical images of one of my early teacup photos adhered to them. I’d printed the image onto tissue paper, then adhered them to the canvas using acrylic gel medium. But I hadn’t been satisfied with the images themselves, for some reason.

To prepare the canvasses, I simply applied gesso over the images to hide them behind a layer of white; I didn’t mind at all if any or some of the colours seeped through. As you may already know, I love randomness.

image This picture shows how I’ve gessoed over one canvas, with the other awaiting the same treatment.

image Next, I took 2 pieces of a vintage Butterick sewing pattern, which is printed on tissue paper, and used an acrylic medium to stick them over the 2 canvasses. As you can see on the canvas on the right, the teacup’s colours are showing through.

image In this next step, I brushed on some more gesso.

image Then I took some acrylic paint and applied them randomly over areas of the canvasses. I let the Butterick pattern guide me as to where the paints should go. At this point, I have no idea what I’m doing. LOL.

image Next, I dusted off some alphabet and number stamps, and stamped some letters and numbers randomly onto the canvasses. I also used some circular floral stamps to add more detail and interest to the overall composition.

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I really liked how these were looking already. But I decided to add a few more details.

image To add the coloured dots, I did the lazy thing and applied the red and blue paint tubes directly to the canvasses, gently squeezing the tube so a minute daub of paint came out. These dots will lend some texture to the composition. I also diluted some yellow paint with watered down gesso, and applied a wash to parts of the canvasses.

Now to wait for the paint to dry before I add anymore elements. I will keep you updated in tomorrow’s post.

Workflow: The “Plain And Simple Lenormand” card deck

This time round, for my 5th deck of Lenormand cards, I wanted to really simplify matters. I wanted archetypal images that were readily recognisable, with as little background distraction as possible. This deck, I figured, would be ideal for people just beginning to learn the Lenormand divination system.

I also wanted to experiment with creating a template to put my images within. Before this, I had created my images without using a framework, the only boundary being the dimensions of the page itself. This time, I wanted there to be a distinct background, then a frame within which my images would go.

I created a simple yellowy beige background using the App iMagic Pro. Then, using the App PicsArt, I chose a simple blue-grey tectured background from within the App, then put in an oval shape and inverted it so the yellowy beige stayed in the framed part, while keeping the background design. I adjusted the shape of the oval so it wasn’t so elongated.

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Now for the images. I used Clker and Clipartlord for royalty-free and public domain images. I wasn’t sure if they would save to my Sansung Galaxy S4 smartphone, as I’d had problems downloading PNG format images before. But luckily, 70% of the images I downloaded showed up correctly on my S4. I don’t know why some did and others didn’t.

I also decided it was high time to get organised, if I was going to continue creating Lenormand decks. So I filed my downloaded images, and other photos I’d taken especially for my Lenormand projects, into individual folders on my S4. That would make finding the archetypal images significantly easier.

And now for the fun part. This was easier than I expected, after having done the groundwork to prepare the background template. I simply had to put in the numbers, keyword and playing card pips, then select a corresponding image from the correct numbered folder, and put it onto the template.

Et voila! I present to you The “Plain And Simple Lenormand”.

I have yet to self-publish this online, as I’m waiting for the actual physical cards to arrive from the printers first. So for now enjoy these examples from the deck:

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A different workflow : The “Geometrical Lenormand”

In the past, I created my Lenormand decks card by card, with no fixed theme. However, I was inspired by the App “Pixlr Express” (available on both iOS and Android platforms) to alter my usual modus operandi and create an entire deck of 36 cards in a different manner.

The way I approached my “Geometrical Lenormand” may be likened to a conveyor belt at a factory. The developers of “Pixlr Express” like to tempt and taunt their users with promotional filters and effects, which stay for a short period in a special folder within the App, before vanishing into thin air. And so, when I noticed that it had just pulled its previous promo filters and introduced its newest – the “Cosmic Geometry”, I knew I had to act promptly.

To say I was inspired is an understatement. My previous Lenormand decks had all taken me around 2 weeks of constant editing, processing and tweaking, from start to finish. My “Geometrical Lenormand” took all of 5 days. I started on a Friday evening, and the project was completed, bar printing, by Wednesday evening.

This time, I kept things very simple. The parameters I set myself were:

1) I would use the simplest images where possible for this project.

2) the images would be from clipart, or come from within the Apps I use, from public domain images, or otherwise cut out from photos I’d taken.

3) I’d use a plain, coloured background for all the cards, instead of creating collaged backgrounds like in my previous Lenormand decks. For this project I generated 12 different coloured backgrounds using the App “iMagic Pro” (available on both iOS and Android platforms).
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4) on the first pass, I’d simply put a geometrical design on a coloured background. This design would be from “Pixlr Express”. The 3 promotional folders within the App are called “Wavelength”, “Bezel” and “Supernova”. Each contains a variety of geometrical designs that can be enlarged, flipped, rotated etc. The Screenshot below shows a collage of the 3 folders.

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Here’s a background with a geometrical design I’ve put on it.

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5) on the second pass, I would stick on a Lenormand archetypal image over the coloured background with the geometrical design already added. I’d do this systematically over the course of all 36 cards, starting from 1 through to 36 in that order. No fancy filters or other special effects. Let’s use the Bear card. This is a public domain image that I’ve cut out digitally using the Android App “AThumb Cut”. I simply pasted it onto my prepared background image, using another universal App, “PicsArt”.

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6) on the third pass, I’d add a simple, subtle background design to each of the 36 cards, using the special filters in “Pixlr Express”. Again, here is the Bear card.
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7) on the fourth pass, I’d add the number and title corresponding to each image. So, again, here is my Bear card.

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8) I then thought hard about whether to put the traditional playing card pips on the cards or not. I wanted this to be a modern Lenormand card deck with ultra clean lines, and debated with myself whether adding the pips would clutter things up. In the end, I compromised by not adding actual card inserts, but a simple number plus ♤♡♢♧ symbols.

So here is the completed Bear card from my “Geometrical Lenormand”.

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I like the simplicity of this Lenormand deck. Not having to create a complex collaged background saves a lot of time, and a simple background makes the archetypal Lenormand images easier to see at a quick glance. Also, adding the effects layer by layer throughout all 36 cards, instead of completing one card at a time, gives a more consistent and uniform look to the deck.

Note: the “Cosmic Geometry” filter effects are part of the App developers’ marketing strategy to get people to sign up to their desktop App. These filters will be removed from the mobile Pixlr Express App, but will remain a permanent feature on the desktop version. Check out their link:

https://pixlr.com/desktop?utm_source=pex&utm_medium=direct&utm_term=ExampleKeyword&utm_content=&utm_campaign=cosmicgeometry?utm_source=pex&utm_medium=direct&utm_term=ExampleKeyword&utm_content=&utm_campaign=cosmicgeometry

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