Friday, May 27, 2011

Week 21: Odds and Ends Art

After a few creative projects, soon enough you're left with leftover  bits and pieces. My pile is ever-expanding - Fashion Rock (you'll meet her sooner or later), clay art, mini art pieces made from shipping tags, assorted semi-precious stones for jewelry making . . . Well, this week, I consolidated some clutter. Not so coincidentally, some of those odds and ends were from the last few weeks of make52 projects.

Four different creative projects - combined!
This week's project isn't so much a tutorial to follow rather than a way to get you thinking about what you can do with those bits and pieces that don't have a home.

What you need
Leftover pieces from creative projects. I used:

  • a rescued frame that I'd sanded, painted, and embellished with beads
  • glitter paper from Week 20
  • six-piece clay painting from Week 19
  • watercolor paper painted with watercolor washes in yellow, pink, and purple
  • scissors, ruler, pencil, and double-sided foam tape
  • cardboard for frame backing

What you need, clockwise from left: glitter paper, frame, foam tape, scissors, six-piece painting, watercolor paper

I was looking for a bright, cheerful way to display the clay painting, so I hit on the idea of doing a funky double-matted look with the clay on top of the watercolor paper on top of the glitter paper. The warm colors of the watercolor paper, on top of the cool blue tones of the glitter paper, complement the clay pieces nicely.

You could glue the pieces together but I just used double-sided foam tape to make each piece stick up just a little bit higher than the paper it was on top of. Here's how to apply the tape backing:

That's really it. I stuck the clay on top of the watercolor paper, and the watercolor paper on top of the glitter paper. Then I put them in the frame, which again fits in with the fun, colorful theme. I cut a piece of cardboard for frame backing, and there you go: four separate art projects, smushed into one!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Week 20: Glitter Paper

I have a weakness for shiny things and for fancy papers. It can become an expensive habit - that thick, shiny, pretty glitter paper you find at scrapbooking and craft stores isn't cheap. So I got to thinking: I've got glittery embossing powder. I've got cardstock. How hard would it be to make my own?

Not too hard, it turns out. With a heat tool (not a hairdryer - you need a craft heat gun) and embossing powder, you can make as much glitter paper as you like, keeping it handy to glam up craft projects and cards. Here's how to do it!
Homemade shiny glitter paper

What you need

  • cardstock
  • embossing powder
  • pigment ink
  • heat tool

What you need, clockwise from left: cardstock, embossing powder, pigment ink, heat tool

Let's get started!
Start by inking part of your paper with pigment ink. Use a slow-drying ink: it needs to stay wet long enough for the embossing powder to stick to.
Sprinkle embossing powder over the inked areas of the paper. I'm using a combination of silver and blue powders here. The powder will stick to the damp ink.
Pour off the excess powder onto a piece of scrap paper and save it for later use. 
Turn on your heat tool and point it at the paper, keeping it a few inches above the paper.  You'll see the embossing powder start to melt and turn shiny. As soon as it melts, move your heat tool to another area of the paper, embossing until all the powder is melted onto the paper.
Continue inking and embossing until the entire paper is covered. It probably will look uneven and blotchy. That's okay -we're going to do another round!
Again, working in sections, re-ink part of the paper. It's actually easier to ink and emboss the second time now that the paper is already covered with embossing.
For the second pass, I used only blue powder. The silver powder peeks through, creating a nice shiny contrast.
And here's the finished paper, shiny and silvery-blue, and ready to use in a craft project!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Week 19: Six-Piece Painting

This week's project was a cascading series of disasters. I had this plan of creating a grid of clay tiles, with each tile being part of a picture. I planned to do a photo transfer onto the clay tiles, then embellish and display them in a grouping.

So pretty much everything went wrong. I used the wrong kind of clay - "Sculpey Light," which it turns out doesn't have the same properties as regular Sculpey clay. This messed everything up: the image transfer failed, and my attempts to fix it with ink and markers tanked as well.

But you know what? It came out looking just fine in the end. With a coat of acrylic paint, it's now a painting, rather than a photo. Here's how it all went down . . .

What you need

  • Sculpey clay (not Sculpey Light as shown here)
  • Liquid Sculpey
  • bone folder
  • t-shirt transfer paper
  • pencil and ruler (to create grid lines)
  • rolling pin
  • x-acto knife and self-healing cutting mat
  • acrylic paint
  • paintbrushes and palette paper
  • acrylic gloss varnish

What you need, clockwise from left: acrylic gloss varnish, Liquid Sculpey, rolling pin, acrylic paints, palette paper, painbrushes, bone folder, x-acto knife, ruler, t-shirt transfer paper, self-healing cutting mat, Sculpey clay

Start by using an image editing program to flip your photo - it will render as a mirror image after transferring to the clay.
Flip your photo, then print it out on the photo transfer paper.
Turn the paper over and draw in gridlines. Number the rectangles so that you can keep track of where each clay piece goes.
Cut out the rectangles, then roll out the clay to a 1/4 inch thickness using a rolling pin. Spread some Liquid Sculpey on the clay (it helps the image adhere to the clay) and press the rectangles face down on the clay. Use the bone folder to smooth and press the photo down.
Cut out the clay rectangles with an x-acto knife on the cutting mat.
One you've cut out your rectangles, bake as directed on the clay instructions. Cover the clay with a pie tin and clamp the edges, so that the clay polymers don't off-gas into your oven.

When your clay is baked, pull off the t-shirt paper backing and - ta-da! - your images will be revealed. Pencil the number of each image on the back of the clay so that you can continue to keep track of which image goes where.

Here's where everything went downhill. This Sculpey Light stuff leached most of the color out of the image transfer. Instead of the pretty beach scene, it was a gray apocalyptic landscape. And the image transfer didn't stick well to the clay - there were some huge bare areas where the transfer paper pulled off.

Plus, there were far too many pieces for this clay art piece. I ditched most of them and just used the six central pieces.
Desperate, I tried to add in some color by rubbing pigment ink over the image.
But the pigment ink came out kind of cruddy, and didn't evenly cover the bare areas. I added some marker too, but it still didn't do the trick. It looks better but not even close to where it needs to be.
Acrylic paint to the rescue! I chose colors similar to the photo  and repainted the whole thing.
And here's the final piece after painting on two layers of acrylic varnish to protect and seal the piece, and to add shine.
Finally, I have a nifty looking six-piece art sculpture thingy. I'm planning to hang this on my wall with a funky frame.

If at first you don't succeed . . . well . . . do whatever you can to get it to work!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Week 18: Triple Flower Mother's Day Card

Mother's Day is coming up, and you've got to give Mom a card. Will it be a store-bought Mother's Day card with sentiments written by someone else, or will it be a card handmade with love for the mothers and grandmothers and women in our lives who have mentored and loved us? Well duh. Obviously, we'll go with option #2.

My mother loves gardening, so this card is floral feast, with three kinds of flowers: a real, pressed flower, an image transfer flower image, and a "mom" decal on floral paper. Yum. Let's get started.
Three kinds of flowers on this mom's day card

What you need
For the pressed flowers:

  • flower press or big, heavy book
  • fresh flowers, preferably ones with few petals
For the image transfer:
  • magazine images
  • soft gloss gel (Liquitex)
  • paintbrush
  • small tray (a toaster oven tray works well)
For the card:
  • blank card and envelope
  • pigment ink (Palette)
  • scissors and decorative scissors
  • craft glue
  • collage glue (Mod Podge)
  • German foil trim (can be found online at 32 Degrees North)
  • double-sided foam tape
  • rubber stamp or sticker with a Mother's Day theme ("mom" or the like)

Some of the things you need, clockwise from left: craft glue, Mod Podge, scissors, craft scissors, blank card, German foil trim, flower press, pigment ink, stickers, double-sided foam tape

Step 1: Pressed flowers
Gather some flowers, and using a flower press, press the flowers between the leaves. Or, if you don't have a flower press, put them between the pages of a big, heavy book. Many-petaled flowers, such as roses, don't press as easily as small flowers such as pansies. This card uses a Lenten rose (hellebore).

After a few days, check your flowers. They should be pressed flat and dry to the touch before you use them.

Step 2: Image transfer
First we'll take a printed image and spiff it up so that it's card-worthy. We could just glue a cut-out magazine picture straight onto the card, but that's kind of tacky looking: it has that thin glossy magazine paper look, and there's other stuff on the back side of the image. We'll take the image and transfer it onto a hardened gel "skin" that we can then glue on to our card.
Brush a coat of gel over your images and let them dry. I'm doing a batch here, to use in other projects. Then brush on four more coats, letting each coat dry between applications. Each coat dries quickly - in about fifteen minutes.
When the last coat of gel is dry, put your image paper-side down into a tray filled with water. Let it soak for a minute or so, or until the paper is saturated.
Take out the image, turn it over, and start rubbing the paper away with your fingers. Presto! You can see the picture from the other side start to show through. Keep rubbing until you've removed all the paper. You can get any stray bits with a Magic Eraser.
Use decorative scissors to trim a pretty border around your image.

Step 3: Putting it all together

With our pressed flowers and image transfer ready to go, let's put all the pieces together and add some finishing touches.

Start by inking the borders of your card, leaving the middle clear. The image transfer becomes transparent, so if you have a dark-colored background, when you glue down the image, it'll look murky.
Add a little dimensional embellishment by cutting a small piece of floral paper and sticking a clear "Mom" sticker on it.
Glue the image transfer down with craft glue, and carefully glue the flower with collage glue (you can see the wet glue in this photo). Then take the little "Mom" embellishment and attach it with double-sided foam tape so that it sticks up a little.
The card didn't look quite done, so I added some blue German foil trim under the "Mom" and along the bottom of the card. Adding a little shiny trim really makes a difference. I also used a metallic pen to color the edges of the image transfer, adding some sparkle.

Happy Mother's Day, and happy card-making!