Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Trees Christmas Card


 
Last year I may have posted this Christmas card, but when I came across it this year, I updated it with glitter glue garland.  You can better see the glitter by clicking on this image to enlarge it.
 
The original substrate was a sheet of sturdy cardstock that I covered with a coat of gold metallic acrylic paint.
 
I used my 9"x12" stencil Mimosa to sponge in first a red print, and after that print dried, a green print.  For the first print, I faced the stencil in one direction; for the second print, I faced the stenil in the opposite direction.  This way the green print and the red print cris-cross each other. 

From that sheet, I cut 3 tall triangles and 3 narrow rectangles.  (Along the bottoms of the triangles, I used Friskars decorative scissors.)  Then I assembled the trees atop a 6"x6" white greeting card blank (JamPaper.com.)
The 9"x12" Mimosa stencil itself looks like this --
 

 The Postal Service has a non-machineable surcharge of 22 cents for 6"x6" envelopes.  So the cost to mail a card of these dimensions is currently 71 cents.  I make things easy on myself by just using two Forever stamps.  But one of these days I'll go to the Post Office and get a roll of 22-cent stamps...
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 18, 2015

It Was a Challenge...


 ... to scan this Christmas card in a way that really shows the gleam of the textured silver acrylic paint and the red glitter that outlines the leaves; I did the best I could, and you'll just have to trust me that the original looks a lot better!


I used a sponge to apply the textured silver paint thru my 6"x6" stencil Pressed Leaves, working on a red background.  After that dried, I cut off some edges around the leaves and glued the print onto a green greeting card blank.  My last touch was to outline the silver leaves with a red glitter pen.

Another Christmas card just came off my "production line"...



This time, I used my 4"x4" stencil Fern Fronds Silhouette Mini

My first step was to secure the stencil to the 6"x6" greeting card blank, using masking tape.  Then, with an old credit card, I spread heavy-body silver metallic acrylic paint across the stencil.  

Once I lifted the stencil, I saw areas that weren't up to par.  So after the heavy-body silver paint had dried, I added glitter glue to some of the individual fronds (clicking on the image above, you can enlarge it to better see those areas.)  I also added squiggles in red glitter glue, creating a frame.  

Again I have to say that the original card looks a lot better than the scanned image above; it's indeed a challenge for me to capture the gleam of metallic paints, foils, etc.! 

Regarding the second greeting card above ... Because its deep bronze metallic cardstock is very dark, I lined the inside of the card with lightweight paper, cut to fit.  

Above is what the inside of my cards looks like, after the light paper is added.

Other artists would probably skip that step and, instead, use white markers or pens to fill out the inside of these greeting cards.  

Check with the Postal Service before mailing 6"x6" greeting cards -- there is a non-machinable surcharge for sending mail of these dimensions.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Christmas Cards....I'm on a Roll

 
More Christmas cards ...  

Both cards below were made with dark bronze metallic greeting card blanks (JamPaper.com).  Cut from sturdy cardstock, these blanks perfectly fit my 6"x 6" stencils.  Sturdy cardstock is important when the greeting card has to stand up to coarse modeling paste, used in the first 2 cards below:


The card above was made with my 6"x 6" stencil BUDDING BRANCHES.

The above Christmas card was made with my 6"x 6" stencil Swaying Grasses.


The above card was made with part of my 9" x 12" stencil Queen Anne's Lace.

I created the top 2 cards using an art spatula to spread coarse modeling paste thru the stencil openings.  After the paste dried, I added highlights with glitter glue.

My approach to the third card, made with a portion of Queen Anne's Lace, was to spray acrylic paint thru the stencil openings.  Since this stencil measures 9"x12", I masked off portions of it to keep them from showing.  The same finishing touch was used on this third Christmas card, altho you may have to click on the image to enlarge it, to better see the glitter glue.

Acrylic spray paint is available on store shelves, but I make my own, so I can mix custom colors.  (See the photo below.)  I buy spray bottles at drug stores (in the traveling supplies section); then I fill them with a mix of acrylic liquid paint, water and airbrush medium.  The ratio of water to acrylic liquid paint varies, depending on whether I want to end up with a heavy spray or a light one.  The amount of airbrush medium never varies -- it's always just a few drops per spray bottle.  I clean the spray nozzles after each use.  But if they clog between uses, anyway, then I use rubbing alcohol to clear them.




Because the dark bronze metallic cardstock is just that -- very dark -- I sometimes line the insides of the cards with lightweight papers, cut to fit.  


Above is what the inside of my cards looks like, after the light paper is added.

At times, I skip that step and, instead, use white markers or pens to fill out the inside of these greeting cards.

Check with the Postal Service before mailing 6" x 6" greeting cards -- there is a non-machinable surcharge for sending mail of these dimensions; it comes to 71 cents per card.  I just add 2 Forever stamps ... easier that way.

My last Christmas card for today was made with my 4"x4" Fern Fronds Silhouette Mini Stencil:


 

I made this final card by spreading heavy-body metallic silver acrylic paint across the stencil, on a substrate of dark blue paper.  After the paint dried, I cut out the image with decorative Friskar scissors.  After gluing this to a white greeting card blank, I outlined it with glitter glue.  I also used glitter on the red center of the candle's flame.  

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Thinking Outside the Box...with BOXED VINES


Further stretching the idea of making Christmas cards with stencils not usually connected to Christmas, I made three 6"x6"cards with my 9"x12"stencil Boxed Vines... 



I started with a less-than-perfect Gelli Plate print, in a deep dark red, that I'd made with this stencil.  

I disguised the flaws using an artist's spatula to spread a thin layer of textured silver paint over most of the surface of this flawed Gelli Plate print.  (I'd made the paint by mixing white modeling paste with silver metallic powder.)  

I used the same spatula to cover the rest of the flawed print with a thin layer of reflective silver acrylic paint.  

Once the two silvery paints had dried, I cut the images into pieces to fit my 6"x6" dark bronze greeting card blanks (JamPaper.com.)  As a last step, I added swirls and dots with glitter glue...





 I still have the problem of not capturing reflective surfaces in a way that's fully accurate.  The above images look ho-hum compared with the cards themselves!

Because this deep bronze metallic cardstock is very dark, I line the insides of the cards with lightweight papers, cut to fit.  

Above is what the inside of my cards looks like, after the light paper is added.

Other artists would probably skip that step and, instead, use white markers or pens to fill out the inside of these greeting cards.  

Check with the Postal Service before mailing 6"x6" greeting cards -- there is a non-machinable surcharge for sending mail of these dimensions.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Holly and the Ivy -- Well, at Least the Ivy -- with Stencils

 
A minority of my Christmas cards are made without reflective surfaces, in the traditional colors of red and green.

For today's post I used my 9"X12" stencil Ivy Frame...



 
Above:  I used masking tape to secure this 9X12 stencil to cardstock with a parchment-like print.  Next, I used a Distress Ink applicator brush (top right) to fill in the stencil openings with cranberry ink from a regular (not Distress) stamp pad containing dye ink.  While the ink was still damp, I used a swab to add green Pan Pastel to the edges and tips of the ivy leaves.  Below:  another shot that better shows the details--

Above:  The sheet of parchment paper after the stencil was lifted. 
After removing the stencil from the parchment paper, I sprayed the paper with Blair Fixative to keep the Pan Pastel from smearing.
This last image, below, is not a Christmas card, but while I had my card-making supplies out, I made its background using my other ivy stencil, Ivy 6: 

 
 My substrate was an old blueprint ... because I think "oddment" papers make for interesting backdrops.  Over the blueprint, I scraped textured pink acrylic paint thru this 6"x6" ivy stencil.  After that paint dried, I topped it with a spray-painted print made with a portion of my 6"x6" Gingko stencil.  Then I added swirls of glitter glue above and below the white print, as well as outlining the gingko leaves with the same glitter.  The glitter shows better when you click on the image to enlarge it.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Christmas Tree Greeting Card



I think it's fun to create Christmas trees using materials that aren't normally associated with Christmas...and less fun, trying to fully capture the festive beauty of reflective foil!  Below are two shots of the same Christmas card, under different lighting conditions:





 I started with a sheet of Inkssentials self-adhesive foil from Ranger Industries.  I love working with this surface because embossing it is so easy and quick.  

My next step was to measure the foil needed to cover the front of a blank greeting card measuring 6"x6" (JamPaper.com). 




Then, I placed my  stencil on top of the foil, using masking tape to block off the areas on the stencil that I didn't want to use.  Holding the stencil in place, I traced the openings with a stylus.

I lifted the stencil to reveal an embossed tree shape.
 
Wanting to try something new, I got out a mini paint applicator sold in the model airplane/car section of Michaels.  Alongside that I used a disposable foam plate to pour out a little Golden High Flow acrylic (Permanent Green Light.) 

The embossed outlines were very helpful as I carefully used the mini paint applicator to fill in the shapes that had started life as a fern but that now had a different starring role.

After the green paint had dried, I got out the glitter glue -- 2 colors from Ranger Industries:  Sparkles Diamond and Sparkles Ruby.  I used them to place ornaments on my tree.

Once the glitter dried, I trimmed off excess foil along the edges.  Finally, I peeled off the white backing paper and applied the foil to the front of the Christmas card -- as shown at the top of this post.

Because the dark bronze metallic cardstock is just that -- very dark -- I line the insides of the cards with lightweight papers, cut to fit.  

Above is what the inside of my cards looks like, after the light paper is added.

Other artists would probably skip that step and, instead, use white markers or pens to fill out the inside of these greeting cards.  

Check with the Postal Service before mailing 6"x6" greeting cards -- there is a non-machinable surcharge for sending mail of these dimensions.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Card Making with Stencils




The Christmas card cover shown above was a dilly to photograph because of its foil base, which reflected everything in sight.  (Can you tell I was wearing blue when I shot this?)  

The quick, easy steps I took to make the card are here:

I chose my (much-used and paint-stained) 9"x12" stencil Boxed Vines and self-adhesive foil sheets as shown above.



Next, I measured off a section of foil to fit the blank greeting card.  I used a stylus for this step, as well as the following steps, but a ballpoint pen would work.



The red circle above spotlights one of the areas where I have used the stylus to draw indented shapes into the foil (which has been placed under the stencil.)  The openings in the stencil were my guide.  Below is a close-up showing a larger version of these outlined shapes. 



Below:  The stencil has been lifted off the foil.   


Below are 2 close-ups showing glitter glue that I used to outline some of the embedded shapes:




The last steps were to cut this section of the foil off from the full sheet, then to peel off the self-adhesive backing and press it to the greeting card blank that's shown at the top of this post.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

BORDERS #1 Stencil Gives You Designs Just the Right Size for Coaster-Craft


Here I'm using blank compressed-paper coasters that come in plain-Jane form, just begging to be stenciled .  They are available at AmazonSmile.com and many other online venues.  They come in assorted shapes -- square, round, flower-petal-like; and maybe more.
I'm going to show two (one round and one square) that I've used to make stocking-stuffer Christmas gifts; I decided that they will enter their next  life as coasters, rather than refrigerator magnets, altho I had the option of veering in either direction.
 

 

Click on the above image to get a closer look.

Above are the two coasters, having just received their first red acrylic coat, inside the spray-box.  

Many artists use ready-made sprays, whereas I make most of my own, including this one, using spray bottles from beauty supply stores and filling them with a mix of roughly 2/3 water and 1/3 acrylic liquid paint, with a few drops of airbrush medium to keep the pain spray nozzle from clogging.

I sprayed the coasters twice, once from each direction, to make the tops moisture-resistant and to coat the edges, all the way around, with matching color.


After my two coasters had dried from their second spray of red acrylic paint, I placed them on newspaper and set my stencil Borders # 1 over them.  The beauty of STENCILGIRL(TM) stencils is that their translucency allows exact placement of the stencil, which becomes really important when working on an object that is coaster-size.  Having achieved the right placement, I used masking tape to secure the stencil to the coaster, and to the newspaper underneath.


Click on the above image to see a close-up.

My next step was to use a sponge-tip applicator to add green paint across the face of the coaster.

 
What I've learned:  For best results, use a heavy-bodied paint and start with less paint on the applicator than you think you may need.  You can always add more paint if need be.  But if you start with too much paint -- as I tend to do -- you risk it leaking under the edges of the stencil's openings, creating areas of blurred paint.  Less is more. 

After removing the piece of tape opposite the stencil, I then had a hinged stencil that I could simply fold back, away from the still-wet coaster.

Below is another example, using a different area of the stencil and using the other coaster:


While the stencil was still wet with green paint, I did what MaryBeth Shaw calls reverse-stenciling.  I call it stamping with a stencil -- but I like her term better. 

I lifted the still-wet stencil carefully away from the still-wet coaster, placed the stencil face down on the newspaper, and went over it with a hard rubber brayer.  This transferred the reverse pattern onto the newsprint. 

Later, I cut out part of that print and used it on the cover of the handmade Christmas card below:

Click the above image to enlarge it.

Above and below:  I used the same type of sponge-tip applicator to add a circle of gold metallic paint, both to the Christmas card and to the two coasters:


Click the above image to get a closer look. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

First Christmas Card of the Season -- using a Stencil You Might Not Expect




Again I've managed to create a greeting card cover that's impossible to adequately capture for showing on this blog!  Above is a photo...

and below is a scan...


And neither image really shows this Christmas card as it actually is!  

Add an element of foil or foil-like material or metallic-look material to an image -- and this becomes a challenge for me to adequately share.

In this case, the background is a dark bronze blank greeting card (JamPaper.com) that measures just under 6"x6"... and perfectly fits my 6"x6" stencil Pressed Leaves.

The bronze cardstock has embedded "metallic" flakes which barely show in the top image.  

The imprint was made with a mix of light modeling paste and Schmincke metallic powder.  (This powder is to be used with caution. Working with it, I wear disposable gloves and am very careful to avoid letting the powder get airborne, where it could be breathed.) 

After spreading the mixture thru my stencil, I set it aside to dry.  Then I added glitter glue highlights.

I don't mean to rush the season the way retailers do, but I start making my Christmas cards at this time every year, because it takes several weeks to make as many as I want.  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Abstract Collage Greeting Card


Above is an abstract collage on an extra-large (5.5"X8.5") greeting card.  The foundation piece of paper, taking up the right two-thirds, was made with my 9"X12" stencil Mimosa, shown below.
 
 To achieve the subtle print on this foundation paper, I used what I call the "stencil-and-scrape" technique.  I've described this technique in detail here.  And here.  And here.   It's a technique that remains a special favorite of mine -- it's quick, easy and somewhat unpredictable:  I like not knowing exactly what the results will look like; I like surprises of this kind.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Life to Old Artwork -- with Stencils!

 
Transforming an old painting:


If the old painting has thick, textured, raised areas of paint, this technique will not yield "perfect" results.  My personal preference for this technique calls for stencils with large openings -- not stencils with lots of fine details.


Secure stencils with masking tape to selected areas of the surface. Mask off areas of the stencils that you choose to avoid using. This masking can be done before or after you attach the stencils to the surface.   Below, in the lower right of a canvas, I've used paper for masking off part of my 9"X12" stencil Mimosa --

--but for smaller areas, I use strips of masking tape, as shown above.
Once the stencil(s) and masking tools are in place, you have choices to make as to what medium or media to use.  

In the examples shown below, I have used a mix of matte heavy gel medium and acrylic paint, applied with a sponge (in large areas) or a stipple brush (in finely detailed, small areas.)  My favorite kind of stipple, or stencil, brush is the kind with a flat-topped round sponge tip.  These are made by Tulip and other craft supply companies.  Stipple brushes also come another style -- flat-topped, stiff bristles.  

Another alternative -- that I highly recommend -- is the Art-C Groove Tool with a brush attachment.

If you can't find this tool, look instead in the cosmetics department of a large department store like Kohls.  In my local Kohls, I saw this very same tool on display in the cosmetics/health care area! 
Another media you might want to consider, for applying color thru your stencils, is Liquitex Professional Spray paint  -- or homemade spray acrylic paint (a mister bottle containing a tiny amount of airbrush medium, a larger amount of liquid acrylic paint, and a larger-still amount of water -- well-mixed, and shaken before each use.) 
I often use both the above methods (spray paint and stippled-on paint) on the same piece of artwork.  Variety increases interest.
I remove stencils immediately after use.  If I'm not feeling lazy, I will float them in a basin of water until I have time to gently go over them with a soft discarded toothbrush.  Most acrylic paint will come off the stencil if it's been immediately soaked in water, but any residue can be removed with rubbing alcohol.  As a final touch, I pat or press stencils dry between layers of paper towel. 
After my first media applications have dried, I repeat the process described above, overlapping layers of design and color as I build up a new painting.
Again, here is an old painting as it originally looked before I started the transformation; if you don't work on canvas, as I do, you can also think of this as a journal page already layered with starter coatings of paint:

Below is a close-up of one area of the canvas where I have taped the first two stencils -- my Seaweed stencil (upper right) and my 9"x12" Mimosa stencil; here you see them with the acrylic paint already stippled on.  


Below is the same close-up section of the canvas, with the stencils removed.


The next step is shown below; the original stenciled areas having dried, another two stencils have been taped on:  Again I used Seaweed; to the right of it, I used another 6"x6" stencil of mine, Marbles.


Below are some close-up details showing my use of 5 of my stencils, 9"x12" Mimosa, Seaweed, Links, Grid and Marbles:





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