Safmat substitute? Maybe….

Funny sequence of events. One of my WOYWW mates stumbled across a very old (2011, I think it was) post about SAFMAT. That is an old product as well, clear, that you can print on and it is self-adhesive.

So I never saw the point of it for what they seemed to tout as it’s selling point – that you could print a sentiment on it and lay it over a card, where it would sort of melt into the background. First, it didn’t – there was a clearly defined sheen to the product, and second, why not just print on the paper? I wanted to put the printed area very specifically over a pattern on the paper, so for that, yeah, it was helpful. But otherwise, not 100% sure it was revolutionary. It was acid-free and that was unique, I think. When I posted about it Letraset had just re-released it, after being unavailable for a long time. It is now unavailable again (but there are a few for sale at stupid prices, like almost £100 on Amazon. doh!)

Considering the qualities that made Safmat useful, I thought of what else would work the same. I riffled thru my stash and found some full-sheet self-adhesive labels from Avery and had a go using those.

What I remember was that the ink-jet ink dried fast and if not permanent on the Safmat, it was …semi-waterproof, let’s say. On the labels material it was quick to smudge. I tried my usual sealing technique, using matt gel medium on a gel plate, and it worked pretty well – although there was a weird byproduct of that which bears exploring some day – so long as I gently laid it on and tapped lightly on the back rather than, say, brayering over the back to get a really good coat of the gel medium on it. That did tend to smear a bit more. Left, brayer over the back, right, lightly tapping to coat.

Applying the clear sticker to paper, in this case some rubbish, an old gloss spray overspill sheet, works really well. and if you burnish the sticker paper better than I did here, it really does almost disappear.

In this case, I planned to cut out the wings so there was no real need to do that. In the end I didn’t end up using these wings as I planned, but they did look good!

I have a couple of other kinds of clear labels to test. Both are from Amazon, in the under £7 range, but for far fewer sheets than the Avery ones:

The glossy vinyl one says specifically non-waterproof. and all the “waterproof” ones seem to be white. Still if the gel plate sealing works on the plain sticker paper, surely it will work on both of these. And it does. A couple of interesting facts. The glossy-labelled one is not only glossy, it is a lot thicker. May be good if you want something to retain some dimension – like the wings,raised above the surface but not great if you want it to melt into a background. For that, the Avery labels are thinnest.

The PPD paper is also glossy and slightly thinner.

Unlike the Avery sticker labels, the inkjet ink dries very well and pretty quickly on both of these. But they are quite glossy, compared to the Avery version I sealed with the gel plate and matt medium.

And of course you can seal the other two just like the Avery one. I tried a couple of methods. Brushing on the gel medium smears the inkjet ink pretty easily. Daubing on the medium with a sponge actually works pretty well, although for my sample I had a slightly dried blob on the sponge and didn’t realize it so it isn’t as good as I am 100% sure it would have been if the gel had been all smooth. I did try sealing with the gel plate on other samples but then messed them up by trying to pick them up before they were fully dry – busy day and no time to hang about! On the top is the daubed on gel and the bottom is brushed on. Personally the brushed on is very smooth – except where it smeared. DOH! I used totally the wrong brush for this, but it was what was in arm’s reach.

I think that the Avery labels, especially if you have a laser printer, and laser print labels, is 100% the best option. The resulting print has a definite sheen but is not gloss-glossy IYKWIM. Of the other two, again, it’s likely the laser version will work best, and otherwise if you want a thicker sturdier piece, go for Evergreen Goods. A thinner more flexible version, PPD. And if you want to seal the inkjet ink with a spray fixative, it is likely going to be better than anything else. You can get a bundle of clear sticker paper + fixative spray (in gloss or matt) from PPD. I have it. It works. It does smell a bit, but they all do! I should test the spray over the Avery labels. That might be the magic bullet. Now, where did I put that…?

So then the only real issue is the acid-free question. And that might be a question that won’t get answered for years, when someone can look back and see if the art has deteriorated or bits have fallen off! I am not sure if I care about that. I cared deeply when I was scrapbooking and it was my photos of my kids (and even so many were duplicates or prints from digital media, so not one-of-a-kind photos) but I am not making art that I sell or that I expect to last for decades. No one cares about it but me. If I were selling it then I might buy that £100 package of Safmat from Amazon LOL! I’d be able to afford it…


That LB Owl is done and…

…I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it either. I used a plethora of supplies and some of them, especially the watercolour pencils, were a disappointment. I’ve never really used the pencils but the ones I have are cheap and not very pigmented. They seem quite … waxy, really.

Anyway, I wish I had grabbed a shot of the piece when it had just the first of the watercolour work on it, cause it was quite misty and nicely blended and I really liked it at that point. But no, I carried on and added all the extra stuff the class had and since I am pretty crap at doodling, I didn’t really like it. Having said that, I like it better in the photo than I did at first.

It’s not AWFUL, and looking at the gallery for others who have done the class, I feel like it sits kinda in the middle on the Good –>> Less Good scale (IMHO only.) But it doesn’t make me super happy either. I was thinking back on an….essay? No, that’s not right, a letter, I remember reading a few years back from a famous author to a group of school kids about art. I’ll find it. The lessons in it always stuck with me and having that swirling around in my head informed my next decision, as well as a project I have begun, from another LB class.

So, yeah, my lettering was a bit crap, partly because my Posca black fine-nib pen does need replacing and I tried to be brave and do it with the wide nib. Bad idea. Anyway, it says what it needs to say and even if it is something I will flip past quickly as I page thru my journal, it is an important step in my Life Book journey, I think. And I’ll share more on that when my project is done.

Tomorrow, if I get another experiment done today, I will share a substitute for a retired product that might work out ok. Not holding my breathe, but I have something coming in the mail I am anxious to test out. And then, for the summer, I am 100% taking Sundays off for a breather. I might have to resurrect Sunday-Someplace-Else, where I would highlight something I found that really inspired me or made me smile or I just thought was cool.

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The Happy Owl – Lifebook again.

I am determined. Like I mentioned, I quite liked my Quirky Bird so I thought I would try the Happy Owl. This is a much more realistic (but still not actually realistic IYKWIM) bird and as ever, the teacher is amazing at guiding you thru the drawing – although she also adds a traceable PDF as well. This is honest to god, my first attempt, right in my journal. You can tell because it is really a little too far over to the left, but I like all the rest of it so I am not going to erase and re-do. For me, this is a pretty good effort!

The first thing was to select my colours. The teacher used something called analogous- complementary colour scheme that she says is less well-know. So much less well-known that there is not a lot of info out there. It looks basically like you take your three analagous colours then take the compliment from directly across the wheel. Once again, her colours may be the very best choices, warm orange, peach and red plus a lovely blue-green teal. So I (obviously) had to find another colour combo. I have been quite drawn to purple and lime recently but that didn’t go great with the journal page so I just picked out colours I liked, that had some contrast, with the idea I could tweak them as I paint. I used the Kuler colour wheel tool to do it. A couple of options, close to the original but not exact. Can’t decide which I like better:

There is a whole exercise that has a bunch of the airy fairy new-age-y stuff that irks me and she does say feel free to ignore it.

Listen to your higher self/ inner wisdom or ‘the wisdom of the owl’ when answering your questions.

The idea is that we imbue the painting with our intentions and for the owl to safeguard and support our intentions for the year.

I’mma gonna do that. Ignore it, I mean. I am at the point where I have collected my supplies (pan watercolours and pencils) and I am ready to crack on. And I am terrified I’ll squander my good start. I am torn between doing a test version on another sheet of paper, to see if my colour combo works well, and just going for it. If I were more confident with watercolours I would know which way to go. Maybe just swatch the colours using my watercolour set and see? That seems like a plan!

Really, it shouldn’t be so darn HARD should it? So I made a start but not sure if I am heading in the right direction yet. It is maybe looking to o similar to the original. Oh well.


Another LifeBook class, and satisfying an MME challenge too

Gotta love when you can make something do double-duty, right? I opened another LifeBook class and it was the thing that sets my teeth on edge. The class was for creating a charm for the year. I don’t buy in to all the “cast your dreams to the universe and the universe will provide” malarky so I knew I was going to struggle. It was all a bit airy fairy for sure, especially when I read the bit about creating a SIGL. The only reference to that I can recall is in fantasy books where the sigl is the symbol of a clan or group (pretty sure I heard it in GoT at some point too) and I figured I’d google it for more info. That led me to a You Tube video about witchcraft (!) and implied that creating the sigl was “magiks” and that added another layer of weird to the whole thing.

Soldiering on, I followed the instructions for creating “my sigl” based on an affirmative present tense sentence then crossing out the vowels and every duplicate consonant and (shifting to the instructions for a video rather than the class) matching the remaining letters to a number according to the alphabet laid out in a number-grid, THEN assigning the number a dot on a circle and connecting those dots with curved lines. I came up with something that is meant to represent my positive sentence to the universe. Right. I didn’t hate the IMAGE, but then I like palmistry images, and goddess images, and all sorts of new age-y image. I just don’t care for the self-obsessed belief system behind it all. That’s just me.

The arty part is where I covered a cardstock circle with tin foil, and with the stencil (actually that guide for rock painting I already mentioned) embossed with UTEE gold. The little Teesha Moore figure on wheels that I found as I was trawling thru my stash, looking for a focal point. It made a phrase pop in to my head – more on that later. The stamped figure is painted with some metallic watercolours and I assembled the layers with the “sigl” created for the class sandwiched inside.

The whole time I was assembling it, all I could think of, the only thing that was in my mind, was not my positive affirmation but the line from Blazing Saddles (mis-quoted from the older Treasure of the Sierra Madre) adapted for the exercise, Sigls? We don’t need no stinking’ sigls! (Note: the line from TotSM is actually Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges! and that is your obscure bit of movie trivia for the year)


So what do I do with this? Having done the work to complete the exercise it seems silly to just ignore it, so my way to deal with this sort of thing is to include it, but hide it. And mock it, cause that’s how I roll. And THAT was the other text that needed to be included

The “charm” has layers. The layer that has the image is one side, the movie quote is the other side, but I sandwiched the sigl in between. It is there, even if I am making fun it on the surface. Cause that is totally how I roll, like it says.

I enjoyed the process and like the piece, and so long as I can set aside the parts of the classes that don’t speak to me (OMG! what is wrong with me?) that don’t appeal to me, then I will probably find something in each class (ok, I did look at a lot of them and no, not every class, for sure, but many)that I can do and make the cost of the course worthwhile.

Just slap me, digitally, if I seem to be slipping in to the whole self-centered, goddess and moon and witchy and neo-paganism new age….stuff. I will totally deserve it.


WOYWW 634 – fun stamps

Happy cooler weather WOYWW! Much more comfortable desk-hopping from my upstairs craft space when the weather isn’t 30+ degrees thank you very much.

Not a lot going on on my desk this week. I have found another LifeBook class after more fully exploring the ones on offer, that I might have a go at but at this point I am still considering. The journal I am using for those pages is there on the left. But what else is there?

I saw those stamps on some WOYWW desk and now I forget whose it was! I thought they were just quirky and cute (rather than sickly sweet and cute, which is very much NOT my thing) and as so often happens when desk hopping, I could see a ton of uses for them for birthday cards for many friends, especially the ewe, for so many knitting mates.

I had to have them but the £18-£20+ price I was seeing was more than I felt I wanted to spend. Google showed me a place I have never seen before, Supermart, which listed prices in ££. When I was going thru the ordering process, as I often do, to get thru the point so that I could see what the shipping would be, and nothing got added! The package itself came with no customs declaration, the shipped from info was QUITE tiny, but clearly says GB. The cost was about £12. It took about 3 weeks, which isn’t awful, and well worth it for the reduced cost.

My other desk, where I staged the MBD cards last week, is also in a bit of a state, as that is where I was working on the art journal pages from yesterday:

So really that only leaves my computer desk for the cards. I am running out of clean spaces…time for another full tidy for next week. Mustn’t backslide…. First time since I’ve pulled five cards where all five go together to make a reasonable headline! Dithered between this and Last Czar Sues Crazy Blond, but blondes get enough bad press, don’t they?

The upside down gorilla is because the oversized mouse-mat is great, but the mouse works better on the plain black part. The blue gorilla seems to confuse it and the cursor scoots all over the place if I have it the right way round.

So there we go, another WOYWW gone and crikey the year is going fast. And we have been perilously close to the January peak in cases here in the UK, if not deaths. When will the lesson finally sink in? This is not anywhere near over and we cannot get back to normal. I read there is a study going on in the USA on vaccine effectiveness for immune-compromised people (like me) in addition to the one in the UK. It will be very interesting to see that data. I know I don’t feel safe out and about, not yet, and I see very little evidence that Boris’ hope that people will take personal responsibility to protect the most vulnerable has been shown to be justified. But I AM willing to take the steps I feel I need to to protect myself. So to riff off the old saying East, West, inside home’s best. For now.

Happy WOYWW to all.


LifeBook warm-up done and a tip about gel medium

Well, I soldiered on. And I finished, but am I happy with the end result? Maybe.

Yesterday I was a t a place where I could have stopped but I still needed to add a few layers. I began with some dark purple ink drips.

That, and more stamping and stencilling, added back a lot more darkness and chaos. But I decided not to give up on the adding-white-back idea

and added some creamy white brush and brayer bits then a bunch of finger-dots of brighter yellows and creams. Of course I didn’t grab an in-between shot, but I did grab a shot of the printed elements that would top the page – I had exactly three stamps of bees, in graduated sizes, so I went with those.

I was looking at words that focused on a journey, with purpose

and in the end decided on:

Quest. The quote is meant to shown that a journey that is a quest is not meant to be a short one. It requires many steps, much distance and input from many sources.

Do I love it? Probably not. But it says what I want it to say, if works pretty well as a warm-up, and that is really all it is meant to do. It taught me a little more about how I “follow” a class and maybe how I might do so differently in the future. And it made me look at the LifeBook classes and review the ones so far to really assess any that even vaguely appeal, to see if I could do them and either learn something, or make something I like. The jury is still out on that one.

Oops. Almost forget! The tip about gel medium is this. I was running out of my usual matt medium and when I went looking (at the height of the pandemic) for some online, I found the only thing available where I already had money to spend, was extra heavy gel medium.

It is, I think, meant to stick quite weighty things, like my mate Debbie would use for her art. But I found that a large tub like this could be used slightly watered down in my smaller tub as normal consistency gel medium OR watered down even further to a more liquid consistency to be used as a glue, like I used for sticking intricate die cuts with the gel plate or added to a fine-tipped bottle for use as normal glue. Because it is matt and dries clear it is a really great option for sticking things where the glue might seep out and mar your project. The cost of this big tub, whgich I have had for 18 months at least and have not made a dent it, was way less than the cost of the multiple tubs of normal weight matt medium that I would have used in the same time frame. My frugal tip of the week! Hope it is useful.

WOYWW tomorrow!


Did a Lifebook warm-up….finally

I have mentioned before that I bought the Lifebook classes, against my better judgement after reading if you don’t like portraits this may not be for you. On one level I thought I should push myself to try something I am not a fan of and am not good at. I decided at the very last minute of the “discount” period (althought I found later that if I had used my American credit card to buy it it would have been cheaper still – why is THAT?) so not really in the best place for making a rational decision. And pretty soon after the classes flowing I was totally Yeah. Nah. It was a huge mistake and next year I will be sure to look at Wanderlust, which is, I think, more art journal/abstract art focused and less airy fairy. I am very much NOT into the mystical/goddess/self-love (that sounds so … not what they mean when they say it LOL!) crap that I find it hard to take the whole thing seriously. On the plus side, the organizer, Tam, does art that I admire. The Quirky Bird I did from her taster session is not brilliant but it is the first of this type of thing I have done that I actually liked.

I wasn’t keen on totally wasting the money for the class, so I opened up the warm-up session and had a go. I was feeling like I was very out of practice with the whole art journaling thing anyway, so it has been a hard slog. To begin with, the colours are the ones that EVERYONE seems to be fixated on (turquoise, magenta and another) maybe because they are good ones, but I never want to just follow a class that closely. So it’s a pain – if the class uses really great colours, my nature makes me rebel and use “other” colours that maybe don’t work as well IYKWIM. So first, I did the collage bit:

and I wanted to get that sort of warm green from the book page of herbs, so I grabbed some black and yellow. What was I thinking?

I kinda got that muddy green-y olive-y colour and felt like I needed to get some light back in there. Adding the gesso in the next step helped a bit:

and the stenciling of the lighter, brighter yellows was good too. I love that one stencil, which is actually one from a set designed for rock painting.

I kinda think at this point it might have been a good place to stop but I wanted to add a nice bright pop of colour so thinking on the Mixed Media Emporium challenge and contrasting colours, I went with a violet. I used a technique I have done before, of painting on to a plastic bag and tapping colour onto the page, then using the little kids PlayDoh cutting wheel to get some very fine lines onto the page by running it over the back of the bag, transferring only a line of the nearly dry paint

From here I have NO IDEA where to go. The original page uses butterflies – and yeah, even I have done them to death, so I need to find another image I am happy with, as well as a quote/word that communicates … something that I want to say about the whole process/class.

At the end of the day, my stuff, when I try to follow a class, always ends up being way more grungy and chaotic than either the class depicts or I intend.

We are into something like week 14 (although that includes a tone of “bonus” or smaller lessons, so there are 25+ classes) and there are only 2 or 3 more that I actually think I might try. I sound petulant, and I am in no way disparaging the art shown. Some of it is truly stunning, even if it might not be to my own personal taste. I am more critical of my own thought and decision-making processes that anything else. I am now going to do what I should have done before buying the class – take a moment to breathe before carrying on and moving forward, unthinkingly.


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Little Boxes art journal page

I am still doing my best to do the Mixed Media Emporium FB challenges and the one from July I didn’t yet manage was the Tone-on-tone one. I also have not played with my Dina Wakley goodies for a bit so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and use the gloss sprays in all the blues for the challenge.

I went back to that odd HiTi paper (that I have a ton of) and when mad with the sprays, adding in a bright blue from the set I got from Lidl – plain acrylic, not gloss – and a spritz of alcohol at the end:

I stuck the labels in my small journal to make a page. The Dina stamp had words on it that didn’t fit my theme so I added the printed text, except the word laughter, which fell nicely in with the words I wanted to add, sort of.

The quote is from The Little Prince and is said by an adult who feels more kinship with how a child views the world than how other adults do (or that’s my take on it anyway :D) – it was either this or the Pete Seeger lyric about “little houses all made out of ticky-tacky” and a comment on suburbia, which might have worked back home in the DC suburbs, but from my little Dorset town, not so much…

Oh it does feel good to get back to pure play and I find challenges helpful as a jumping off point to rev my engine. New challenge, two videos today in the group so I will watch them and see. Perhaps this will be my weekend share moving forward….


Too hot to do much but I managed some ATCs

I have had a hankering to test something out. I decided to have a go at the Complimentary Colours challenge in the Mixed Media Emporium group. I missed out on the tone-on-tone one cause my back was just not up to sitting at my desk once I had the time to do so, but I like doing them so made the effort. My crafty space is upstairs and pretty darn toasty in this heat. I cannot believe everyone I know was moaning about the rain and miserable British Summer and now we get heat that is way more than anyone wanted. By the time this posts it should be back to temps in the low 20s and rain and I am very much OK with that LOL!

So I wanted to make some ATCs. They are small and not too onerous to make as in this case it’s a matter of stages. I can do a bit in the morning when it is cool (-ish, anyway) then even if it is hot, the next thing is just a short burst then I can go back to the cooler part of the house. I began by gessoing a sheet of watercolour paper then marking out a grid for the ATCs. I used Picked Raspberry and Cracked Pistachio Distress Oxide inks to give me my complimentary colours, with some Picked Raspberry and Mowed Lawn Distress Inks for a more vibrant pop of the same colours.

I was trying to…ignore the grid marks, basically, and try to treat the space as a single canvas. I made the stenciling cross the grid lines and hope that might create some interesting and unplanned areas, IYKWIM. Not sure how successful that was, but I expect I might try it again. I feel like larger stencils will work better for this sort of technique. Once I got the colour down, I grabbed a clutch of stamps that I have – some of my oldest, wood-mounted stamps – to add the focal point. I had six stamps so my goal was to get six ATCs., which was good cause one stamp didn’t work well on the rather bumpy surface the first time and another didn’t look right the way I oriented it. I did get my six in the end!

Peeling off the tape revealed the results:

I dragged some thick blak paint along the edges to really frame them and added some spatters as well:

I had to think, then, what was the best way to finish them off. I opted for the phrase Just one word… on each of them, then a little gem to call attention to the word I wanted to highlight, because some of the stamps had multiple words, like the D with Dream, Discover, and Destiny. I don’t have a Distress Ink colour that matches the Cracked Pistachio so opted for Mowed Lawn instead to edge the printed text.

And just a closer look at one of them:

I am also looking at a folded thingie from the Art Of the Fold book as a potential ATC holder, but it might just be too much work, when the other ones I already use are cute and simple to do. We’ll see….

Now if I can just sort out a swap that would be good, lest I become overrun with ATCs!


In true Junk Journal fashion…

…I made use of some junk on my desk to add a journaling spot. I had printed out a couple of the quotes I thought I might use for that art journal page yesterday and one of them was just sitting there on my desk waiting to be utilized. I just inked the plain cream cardstock a bit to make it look more interesting

then added a bit of dyed lined paper and a stamped image from a Rubbermoon set that I don’t use enough

and stuck it down as a fold-over spot. I added the half-circle on the edge to catch and hold the fold-over closed so it doesn’t flap open every time I open the journal

and add my journaling for the day – private thoughts, as with most days. I need to be better about hiding the words and not depending on my crap handwriting to do it for me LOL!

I have to say, since the 100 days project I feel like I have done a better job of the recording-my-thoughts journaling than I ever have before. I do tend to focus on a few topics, and my thoughts are not always deep and meaningful, but I am finding the process useful and interesting to look back on, even a few months ago.

Another funny thing is I am looking forward to turning the page – the next spread has the little tea-bag pouches and some of the WOYWW swap stuff on it and I am keep to work on them. The page itself is a bit of a hot mess, with no cohesion, again, in true junk journal fashion, nothing pretty about it. But I am still looking forward to it. Why?