Thursday, September 25, 2014

All That Glimmers

One of my mother's favorite idioms to throw at us was "All that glimmers is not gold."

(I'll show you how to do those leaves in just a minute.)

Mom was right. It's also aqua, rust, maroon, green, silver. Okay. Now I can feel her giving me The Look for being sarcastic. Amazing how she can do that from 2800 miles away.

So, let's just talk about Glimmer Spray, shall we? Or you can call it shimmer spray, or twinkle spray, or Extra Special Sparkly Magic Juice if you prefer. Yeah. Let's call it that! You probably know the stuff I'm talking about though. You spritz a little on your paper craft project and Shazam! Suddenly your project shimmers like it fell into a vat of fairy dust.

Companies like to sell their name brands of Extra Special Sparkly Magic Juice it for big dollars. The well-kept secret is that it's very inexpensive to make your own. Not only that, but by making your own, you can get exactly the color you want. You can even tailor it to match your ink pads (presuming you have bottles of re-inker to match them, and why wouldn't you?).

Here's what it takes to make your own Extra Special Sparkly Magic Juice:
  • Gum Arabic - available at any art supply store. I bought mine a couple of years ago for under $5 and I still have at least 2/3 of the little jar left.
  • Re-inker -  any brand will do. In fact, I bought out a re-inker supply from a company that was going out of business. I knew I was going to use the ink just to play with and not to re-ink pads that I have, so it was a worthwhile and relatively inexpensive investment. I use re-inkers in all kinds of ways for all kinds of projects.
  • Pigment Powder - I have several different kinds that I've had for several years. Pearl Ex, Perfect Pearls, etc. Go with whatever you've got. If you don't have any, for making Glimmer Spray, I recommend getting plain pearly white. It will blend fine with any color of ink and you don't necessarily have to match the powder color to the ink. 
  • Small empty spray bottles - again, go cheap. Sure, you can get them from art suppliers and big brand names, but scout out the dollar store or dollar bin at your local pharmacy first.
  • Water - straight from the tap will do.
The recipe is -

In a small spray bottle add:
  • 1 part Gum Arabic
  • 4 parts Pigment Powder
  • Fill bottle about 2/3 of the way with water
  • Add ink drops until you achieve the color you want.
  • Shake well.
  • Find all kinds of funtastic uses for it.
Note: Your homemade Extra Special Sparkly Magic Juice will keep forever, but you will need to shake it well before each use. Occasionally, the pigment powder can clog the nozzle. Simply run it under hot water to unclog it.

Really, that's all there is to it and the possibilities are endless. Oh, I should warn you that mixing up those Extra Special Sparkly Magic Juice potions can be a little addictive, not to mention using them. But look all the different things you can do with it!

You can simply spritz it on paper for a unique background. You can dip paintbrushes into it and use it like a watercolor. You can spritz it on your non-stick work surface or on a piece of plastic wrap, dip your stamps in it and then stamp on watercolor paper for a beautiful, shimmering image. Here's how I did the leaves pictured above...

Stamps used are from RubberMoon Art Stamps, from left to right: Carved Leaf, Oak Leaf, and Elm Leaf.

Oh, and once you're done dipping those stamps in and you have tiny blobs/smears of it left on your work surface? Don't just wipe it up - use it! I get some of the coolest backgrounds by dropping a piece of cardstock onto my "leftovers" and smooshing it around.

I told you, there's just no end to what kind of creativity you'll spark when you start playing. So, now that you know how to make your own Extra Special Sparkly Magic Juice, what will you do with it?

To see another example (pictured below) of how I used it in a project, please check out my post over on the RubberMoon Arts blog. It's scheduled to go "live" tomorrow, Friday, September 26th.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Paper Tiger

 I'm posting again for the Fitztown Design Team. What inspired me this week? A pile of crumpled napkins. *shrug* It's how I roll.

I submit for your review, the basic brown paper napkin. Dining and coffee establishments love to give everyone copious quantities of them. In my life, there is always a bunch of these things hanging around - jammed into my purse, stuck between pages of books as a marker, tossed aside on an end table - until I finally get tired of seeing them or digging around them and toss them.

Toss them? Not this time and probably never again! I went with, "Hmmm... crafting possibilities...?" So I taped one to a piece of printer paper to give it stability and printed out Fitztown's tiger (available here) on it.

So far, so good. Now what...? I decided to see if I could color on it without ripping it and see if I could then maybe decoupage it onto a blank coaster. I experimented with different mediums on a spare napkin. With dozens of them in residence, it wasn't too painful to sacrifice one. Some of the mediums I tried were too wet and tore the napkin or bled too much. So, I went (very gently) with crayons, a blender pen with distress ink for the leaves, and a white ballpoint pen to give ol' Tony some contrast.

Next up, I got out a blank coaster (this one is a 3.5" square) and my Liquitex gloss gel (I use the medium thickness). I also ripped the napkin down to an easier to manage size at this point.

I turned the napkin over and applied a coat of the Liquitex gel to the back of the image, coating only the image and not outside of it. I flipped it over again and adhered it to the coaster. I applied more Liquitex gel to the top of the image going slightly outside of the image, since my intention was to be able to rip away excess napkin.

As you can see, I used my finger to apply the Liquitex gel both to the back and the front of the image. I like getting messy. Plus, I find that I can control what I'm doing better by being completely "hands-on". But, for those of you who don't like to get messy, you could easily use a sponge or a brush - just be really careful not to tear the napkin.

Once the piece was mostly dry, I carefully tore away excess napkin. Then I swiped some of Ranger's Tarnished Brass Distress Stain around the edges and sponged over that in a scrubbing motion using Ranger's Crushed Olive Distress Ink. Finally, I went over the entire piece again with the Liquitex gel.

The piece seemed too dark to me and I wanted to lighten it up and give it a little extra interest. So, I used StazOn Opaque White and an old background stamp that I got from who-knows-where and stamped around the tiger.

And that, as they say, is that. I know it seems like a long, complicated process, but it really wasn't. Waiting for it to dry in between gel applications got a little tiresome, but that's what goofing around on Facebook is for... isn't it?

Look around you. Look at the stuff you normally toss out and try to come up with something creative to do with it instead. Let me know what you come up with.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

William Blake penned the following lines at the end of his poem, Tiger:

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

I will forgive Mr. Blake the blatant misuse of an adjective in place of an adverb if he will forgive me attempting to frame a tiger. Because that's just what I did for this week's Fitztown Design Team post.

For this card, I used Fitztown's Tiger digistamp (available here).

I printed it out on ivory colored cardstock and then colored it in with Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils. If you're not familiar with these amazing pencils, you are missing out! I love working with them - they can be used as regular old colored pencils or you can dip them in water for a more intense color, or brush over them with a wet paintbrush for a softer watercolor effect.

I colored in the tiger and the leaves and then very lightly went over much of it with a damp brush.

From there, it was time to move on to the frame. To cut it I used my trusty old Coluzzal... does anybody use those any more?! I don't have any of the fancy cutting/embossing machines, and this has always worked just fine for me for mini matting/framing needs. It also takes up no room on my desk!

I wanted to give the frame a little depth, so I used my Tim Holtz canvas stencil and sponged in a little distress ink. Then I put some darker brown spatter effect on it using an old Stampin' Up! stamp. To give it some good border and draw the eye back in, I went around the edges of the rectangle as well as the edges of the oval with a sponge that I'd swiped on the same brown ink.

All that was left was to assemble the card and trim off the excess ivory cardstock.

For those of you who aren't satisfied with a mere taste of William Blake's work (I never am!), I invite you to read the entire poem (here). I promise, you read the entire thing and you'll be checking behind you to make sure there's not a tiger crouching and ready to pounce.