July 9, 2010

Fascinated by Scrap Paper

Posted in Art for beginners, Beginner's art, Crafts, Papercrafts, Techniques (art) tagged at 9:41 pm by amateur-in-art

Oh yes, I know I know, it has been months and months since I posted.  I haven’t been idle – just no time to post.

But I caught myself staring once again at some scrap paper that I have made, and thought I would share it here, along with a couple of other items from my miscellaneous pile.

First, the scrap paper.  I had read somewhere, I think online (and my apologies for not keeping better track of where I get my suggestions from) to simply use a scrap of paper – preferably something fairly heavy duty like watercolor paper – and use it as a sort of canvas to be used when you end up with extra paint on your brush, or when you are watering down and cleaning up your brushes.  At first, I thought, oh, no biggie. But now that I have been using it for a few weeks or months, I’m starting to really like the way it looks. I believe the original source also suggested this method as an excellent way to create deeply textured, multi-layered backgrounds for projects. I’m not done with it yet, but I can see how it can be used that way.

It’s really not that visible here, but I have also used several different types of acrylic mediums on this – “Opaque White Flakes” (visible within the turquoise at left); “Lava Gel” (the stuff that looks like pepper on the lower right); and probably one or two others. Don’t think I’m a serious artiste, though, just because I can say “acrylic medium” – I’m the artistic equivalent of a child playing with flour in the kitchen. I may know what flour is, and may even know it goes in a cake, but what to do with it, or how to get it from “flour” to “cake” – I haven’t the foggiest.

That being said, I do like how this piece of scrap paper is shaping up. None of it has been deliberate or intentional – just totally random, most often, as I am cleaning up or changing colors.

Anyhow. I thought I’d also share a couple of scrap papery items that I, on a whim, stamped – and love the result! When saving these images on my computer for posting, I had to call them something, so I called them “Joy Blurts” – and I kind of like the ring of that. Here’s what they look like:

And here’s similar scraps, before stamping.

Wow – these look even cooler after scanning – better even than in real life!  These are super simple.  Just take 2 or 3 crayons, scribble on paper until paper is full of color – no white showing through.  Take watercolors of a similar or contrasting color and wash over the crayon scribbles (visible as specks on the yellow sections above). Voila! You are done!

To stamp, I used black pigment ink and heated with a heat gun to set.  That had an interesting effect as well, as it seemed to get rid of the waxiness from the crayons on the paper, but left colors and everything else unchanged.

The above scraps were originally scribbles on a much larger piece of paper – it was cut up into smaller squares as part of an exercise.

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© amateur-in-art, 2010

June 13, 2009

Create your own stamp from 3-D objects

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Beginner's art, Crafts, Learning art, Rubber stamping, Techniques (art) tagged at 12:26 pm by amateur-in-art

I came across this technique in the book, Altered Book Collage by Barbara Matthiessen. She calls it “monoprint background” – which of course, it is – but I think of it more as a stamp. It is an easy and simple way to get some really cool looks. I think of it as sort of “negative stamping” – where the item or object is ‘blank” and the background has all the ink or color.

Get a block of fairly thick foam. I found a garden kneepad thingy at Target for $1 and it worked just fine!

Lay out the 3 dimensional objects you wish to use to create your stamp and put them on a sturdy surface.

Heat the foam using your heat gun.

**CAUTION: As always, use care and precautions when using the heat gun, do not get it too close to the foam, yourself, or flammable objects, and to be on the safe side (because I don’t know what kind of chemicals might be released when the foam is heated) – I would advise having good ventilation. Mathiessen also gives no caution about fumes, but foam is synthetic so who knows what kind of chemicals might be present. Always be safe, whatever you do! If you attempt this procedure, you do so at your own risk.

When the foam is hot, press it down on top of your objects. Remove. Let foam cool.

Voila! You now have a stamp that you can use with ink, paint, or what-have-you to make a really cool impression! Better still, when you are finished, you can heat the foam again to “erase” the initial impression and reuse the foam to create a different stamp using different objects.


The blue impression and the pink foam "stamp".

Lessons learned:

It is best to have all objects be the same approximate thickness.

Very thick objects may be difficult to remove from foam when you reheat to “erase” it. For instance, I was able to “erase” the keys in the foam – but after two tries, my locks still have not totally “disappeared.”

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© amateur-in-art, 2009

September 8, 2008

Soul Journal Day 1 (Aug. 27 entry)

Posted in Art, Art samples, Beginner's art, Crafts, Learning art, Soul Journal tagged , , , at 8:28 pm by amateur-in-art

I had left a blank page in the middle of my “Torn Open” and “Hope” pages, and came back to that on Aug. 27, after I had successfully passed through some initially scary medical things. I was home, surrounded by family, and I wanted to capture the peace, goodwill and comfort that I felt.

On the page that was still blank, there was a lot of white space left around the edges of some of the book pages I had glued in. I wanted to liven these up a little bit, so I took a pleasant green-blue shade of watercolor and colored them in.

I also highlighted some words in other colors, most of them very positive like “harmony,” “festive,” “enjoy,” “poet,” “spiritual” and others.

Then I wrote words about how I was feeling that day. I started with the word “comfort” – which ended up having to be broken onto two lines (too enthusiastic to watch the margins that day!) and I tried coloring it in with colored pencils, trying for a “quilt” type of effect, but that didn’t really work (and instead, it just looks kind of weird). For most of my writing, I used blues and greens for peace, calm, and healing. I used a dark brown to represent the sturdiness and security of being at home. Since I had the word “fort” (as part of the word “comfort” I decided to draw a little block house, to further emphasize the security I felt.

I like the contrast of this page with the reds and purples on my “torn & fear” page. I don’t know why, but I also like that my pages are not in direct order, but that they skip around. Maybe it’s because my emotions were “skipping” too, moving from one thing to the next, rapidly.

I like this Soul Journal technique, and look forward to the rest of what Sarah has in store for us. And although I’m not terribly impressed with the “art” aspect of my work (I told you – it bears comparison to a third-grader’s work!) I know and believe that the point of the Soul Journal is not the physical product that is produced, but rather, the journey of the soul as one embarks on this path.

And as I’ve also said before – it’s all about learning. What works, what doesn’t – both in art – and perhaps, in life.

© amateur-in-art, 2008

July 31, 2008

Using Bleach as Ink

Posted in Art for beginners, Art samples, Beginner's art, Crafts, Learning art, Papercrafts, Rubber stamping, Techniques (art) tagged , , at 10:04 pm by amateur-in-art

I had wondered about and then read about using bleach as a type of “ink” for rubber stamps, and finally thought I’d give it a try. Here’s how my first attempt turned out. One large stamp, and then a smaller border-type stamp. Obviously – and perhaps I should make this a formal disclaimer – there was no attempt at “perfection” here, but I figure everything I do at this stage in the game is experimentation and learning. So I try to give myself a lot of leeway to make mistakes.

I was surprised when I got a yellow result from this. I was expecting either a lighter shade of olive or maybe even nearly white. I did read somewhere that “newer” bleach was better – mine is several years old, so perhaps that had something to do with the results. But then again, maybe the bleach just brings out the “base” color of the paper, whatever that might be – in this case, maybe, yellow.

To do this, all I did was to take a paper towel, folded fairly thick to sort of make a stamp pad, put it in an aluminum foil tray, like you get at the grocery, douse it with some bleach to get the towel good and moist, but not too soppy, and then used that for my ink pad. After inking the stamp, I placed it firmly on the paper and held it in place for between 20 and 30 seconds. I think the longer I held it on there, the heavier the impression, though it may just be that I got more ink on the stamp to begin with. You’ll see several places where there is a noticable ridge or lack of impression – my guess is that I just didn’t get the stamp good and inked at that point; maybe there was a dry spot on my makeshift ink pad.

As you’re doing this, it also takes about an additional 30 to 60 seconds, after you lift up the stamp from the paper, for the air to hit the bleach and start really giving you an impression. It is light at first, but gets bolder as it is exposed to air.

I like the results I’ve got, here. Kind of reminds me a bit of an old-fashioned Victorian wallpaper. I’ll definitely use this technique again. I like the look, and I also like the surprise of not really knowing quite what I’ll get (like the yellow).

© amateur-in-art, 2008

July 11, 2008

How to Spend Too Much Money at the Craft Store

Posted in Art, Art supplies, Crafts, Fun & frivolity tagged , , , , , , at 9:32 pm by amateur-in-art

1) Buy one item that’s on sale – This Week Only!

2) With money saved in #1, now you can buy more items not on sale.

3) Buy something unique and unusual that you see that will coordinate with #1 & #2. You must purchase it now, because you won’t remember later, and besides, you have the other items with you, which enables you to see how fabulous it all looks together.

4) Shop in sections of the store that you don’t usually go to. Find nifty item there that coordinates with #1, #2, & #3, which you must buy today for the same reason #3 was justified.

5) Find another item on sale, preferably one you’ve been waiting on buying for a long time. You’ve restrained yourself in the past just so you could buy it today, when it was on sale.

6) Since you have done #5, you now feel better about your purchases in #3 & #4. So you can afford to pickup several items that are just $2-$5.

7) Shop the dollar bins. Buy things you don’t need, “just in case.”

8 ) Because gasoline is so expensive, buy another item you might normally be tempted to wait on. This “saves money” because you won’t have to spend another $5/gal. to go to the store again later.

9) Decide at this point, you’ve accumulated enough purchases that another $2 or $3 won’t hurt, & pick up a few more stickers or papers or pens.

10) Realize you are now far over your spending limit, originally set for item #1 only, so you decide to use your credit card. This means you can spend money you don’t have! Proceed to do so.

11) Leave store with the weight of guilt and debt on your shoulders – but at least you have your scrapbooking supplies to assuage you! Decide to stop for ice cream, chocolate, or coffee (or all three if you spent more than $100!), to make yourself feel better.

12) Repeat next week, if not sooner.

13) If you can’t wait for #12, suddenly remember another item that is “essential” to your current project, that you forgot to get while you were at the store. Return to store, begin again at #1. Give yourself bonus points if the item you remembered in this step is on sale – you now have a bulletproof excuse to repeat the process!

© amateur-in-art 2008