Do you have this annoying brayer?

I have a Speedball brayer that I love, but it is quite old. I have been buying different sorts of brayers over the years, just to see if there is one I like as much, and also to acquire a few different size options. I find you cannot trust Amazon listings when they say “soft rubber brayer” – is usually is not soft at all -and you have to look out for references to printmaking, where a hard brayer is more the norm. I have a bunch now, not all great but I use all of them.

I recently decide to buy a Ranger/Dina Wakely/Dylusions branded brayer because I wanted a very small sized one. Big mistake.

The darn thing started out just fine, but very shortly a clear design flaw was revealed. If you look closely att eh curl of metal that holds the rubber brayer in place, you can see on MY brayer it is really really tight against the rubber core (bright pink in the photo) and guess what that means?

When I try to roll the brayer over paint on the gel plate, the rubber will not roll. It drags across the gel plate and smears the paint, leave gaps or wonky coverage. Now it isn’t just me. In the FB artist group I frequent, many people complain about it, for a variety of reasons. My issue is one big one, but another is how darn squeaky it is. OK, so maybe only annoying and not really a performance issue, but still…

So I looked at my issue, thought about what it would take to solve the problem and came up with a solution. I disassembled a clothes peg and wedged on side between the metal handle. This spread the bit that grips the roller in place so it no longer squeezes the core and keeps it from rotating. Aa bit of electricians tape holds it all in place.

Doubt this will solve the squeak, and for £12 from a major brand, you would hope this to be made better. I suppose it is dependent on how much spread you need – too much and the roller will just slip from the curl of metal and fall out!

As a sidebar, I also got a GelPress Economy Brayer (4inch) for about £9 and that seems like it works about as well as the Speedball one (at nearly £20) does. I like that the roller pops out for cleaning too.

Sorry. Boring post, but hopefully it will help someone out.

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Having fun with an old old tool

Now, you will have to go back a full decade ago to see the first time I made one of these. It is a page protector, sliced in strips, front one way back the other, that I use to flip and flop and mask of areas of the gel plate, when printing. The washi tape just makes it easier to see the slices.

The idea is to roll out the paint, flip over the vinyl, and print. You can easily add texture to get interesting overlapped areas

And the paint trapped below the vinyl can then be used on the main print (left) or a secondary one (right)

and the mop up prints have just a hint of the lines, which I think makes them interesting in their own right.

The final piece looks like this

and you can see I made use of that sheet of ATC mark-making elements on it for some final drama!

I thought as the 12×12 page protector isn’t QUITE big enough to use with the 12×12 plate, I might try making another version with contact paper instead. I have some ideas, as do some of the folks in my artist group. I will be interested in seeing how it all develops.

Busy week.


Turning my hot glue stamp into a stencil

This was interesting. I had made a hot glue…stencil? I mean, kinda? I think in reality it was more of a mask than a true stencil. I showed it on the last post where I used it on the envelope to mail my ATC swap items.

I really loved the organic shape of it but as a true stencil it was far too thick to really work. Where it was great if I laid it down on a paint-covered gel plat, and then removed it or removed paint from the openings. it really didn’t stencil well at all. I have always hankered after turning it into a proper stencil and once I got a Scan&Cut it seemed possible.

Now, I did buy the very oldest S&C on a Black Friday sale, so it is not the one with all the newest features. I suspect some of this would be easier with one of the newer machines. But it did work in the end. It was a process LOL!

I figured that the hot glue piece was paint-covered so I was probably going t be able to scan it. And I could. But first I really needed to remove all the little glue threads.

Then I just plunked it on my scanner and scanned it. I did convert it to a B&W scan and tweaked the settings to get a dark clear image.

I think you can see that the scan of the paint covered glue was not perfect.

In the end I popped it into Affinity Photo to refine the design, remove some little weird areas, and clean up specks. That gave me a pretty clean image.

I ran into some issues there. Weird stuff. I was able to easily add the .jpg and auto trace it, perfectly fine, great job. But when I transferred it over to the S&C I couldn’t resize it at all. I had to go back to the computer, rotate it, resize it to fit the transparency film I was using to cut the stencil, and then transfer it over again. That sorted that, but it is something I need to bear in mind.

My first cut was not deep enough. For laser jet transparency film I need a cut pressure of 3 (speed of 5 works fine) which is deeper than what is indicated on the chart that came with my machine. This is the second error in the documentation (the other one was using sticker paper on the mat, which totally destroyed it where it needed to be re-stuck) which aggravates me. But I did end up with a fine stencil that I am very keen to use. I think I really need to use it a lot, letting the acrylic paint dry on it between uses, so I can SEE it, and so it has more tooth. I cannot wait to play with it….

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Made my cover – Traveller’s Notebook stylee

Well. That was interesting. I made myself a cover for my journal for 2023. I used one of the paper, transformed sheets (the one created by making a Masterboard from the crumpled deli paper experiments.

and one of the paper transformed experiments as well that was lurking on my desk

The final cover looks like this!

There are loads of instructions for making a Traveller’s notebook, mostly using leather, and mine is exactly like those but gel printed card instead. The location of the holes are the only bit of info you really need.

The four holes top and bottom are where the elastic goes to create the holders for the inserts. The middle hole gets a look you use to hold the whole thing closed. Not exactly the same but this link is as good as any for how to make one.

For the inside, I am recycling Amazon packing paper, using both Amazon UK based paper and Amazon USA paper, compliments of Dear Son and his shipments. I am curious to see how they both hold up, because my firm belief is the UK stuff is thinner, less sturdy, and more grey than brown. We shall see. Cannot believe it is WOYWW again so soon. The weeks are flying by. Yikes!


Just a quick diversion – my desk covering

I know I am meant to be doing the card-cube tutorial, but we have just gotten the new flight dates for Dear Son + Cat and have kicked into high gear once again. Darling Daughter has recovered from what appears to be quite a mild case of Covid, and despite inhabiting the same house as her AND being in somewhat close quarters (before she had any symptoms or tested postive) the Hubster and I both managed to avoid it. Phew. Now we just need to hope the updated vaccine will do it’s job. Anyway, all that is only to warn once again my crafty time is limited and my posts might just be thin on the ground. With everything we need to do I am just hoping my back holds up!

A while back I showed you the prep work on the playing card squares, where I gessoed and painted them. My desk top was quite a mess!

I really was not at all careful about my painting, mostly because of my cheap solution to a desk covering. I have a large silicone sheet but I find it hard to use with no markings. I have a glass mat as well but it ends up sitting on the side of my desk ignored, because it is more trouble than it is worth to clear a space and drag it out.

What I have on my desk is a large piece of contact paper with the backing still on it. (under £7 for a 3 metre roll)

You can see the grid lines even thru the film. LOL! That poor abandoned butter-box project. I’ll finish it one day….

I just pull off a large chunk, and trim to size then use the cut off bits (peeled away from the backing this time) to stick it onto the decorative contact paper that covers my desk already. It is totally wipe-able but I do have to grab a cutting mat if I want to use a blade. It can take a beating from paint, spray ink, glue, etc, and still wipes clean. It is cheap for a massive roll and the piece that covers your desk can be used (or at least most of it can) when you decide to change it.

The other contact paper that covers the desks themselves (whitewashed wood) is wipe-able too, but once it gets marred or tatty on the edges it is a lot more expensive and time consuming to replace. So this suits me for now. The teflon sheets work in a similar fashion but are more expensive (nearly £20 for ONE piece big enough to cover ONE desk) and I only have small cheap thin ones from the £ store. I like cheap, but most of all I like using something I have on hand best of all!

I have been spending time sorting and organizing all my gel printing tools. Dear Lord it is taking AGES. I expect my desk to look pretty much the same for WOYWW, if I’m honest but the used-to-be window desk is likely to be a bit different….

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Bamboo pen for ink scribbling

About those scribbled circles…I love to be able to combine things when I can, so I am taking something I saw in a class (Kate Crane on FB – highly recommend the class but not the platform!) for markmaking. Now, I may be totally off on this, as she didn’t really teach it as part of the class – or at least not what I have watched so far) but the visual was enough for me. The Hubster has some bamboo plant stakes in the garden, and while (from what I recall) Kate mentions “a reed” I thought I would try using what I had. So I snipped off a bit from one of the stakes, and found my little hacksaw. It is a point of contention that I can never find tools in his workbench room so I have a small toolbox with smaller duplicates of things I use often (pliers, hammer, a small set of Muji screwdrivers, a hand cranked drill, box cutter and a hacksaw) that I know I can always find.

Used an old block so I didn’t hack into my desk and

Ta da! Well, kinda. So the way I cut it, the pointy one, which is the one I thought would work better, is stubby. Harumph. I worked on the rounded one a bit with an emery board but then I had an idea. I jammed a paintbrush with crappy bristles into the end and Ta Da again! Sorry for the unfocused blurry photo but you get the idea!

And most interesting, I possible didn’t really need to worry, because both ends work about the same. Maybe the pointy one gives arks that are a bit finer, but not significantly. And ink works pretty much the same as thinned down acrylic paint, so all good there.

I didn’t really explain the circular scribbles from the collages so I will now. After scribbling a circle (or after punching a hole, then scribbling a circle – I did both) I cut the outside edge of the scribble so I had a slightly organic shape. Then I was able to use my micro-tip scissors to cut inside the circle as well.

I love the effect and have made a pile to add to my collage fodder keeper! You can look back and see them on the collages.

You can see, in one of the photos above, my little card-box lurking there, all but screaming “FINISH ME!” and yet I don’t want to work on it and mess it up. Argh! Maybe I will have a solution over the weekend. Here’s hoping.


Finally, and Art Journal page – woohoo!

Easing back in to it a bit. I went back to my own pull-a-quote challenge, where I pick a trio from my little pots of printed and cut quotes. If you want to print your own and challenge yourself, you can find some here and here.

I pulled only one, from the pot of longer quotes, and it was very appropriate for what is going on in the world, both the ongoing war in Ukraine and in the USA, with the leaked Supreme Court decision. Because, yeah, now is not the time to remain silent.

I have been missing the AJJ challenges, but this month it is BIRDS and this page, with the best will in the world, is never going to be about that. I mean, I could randomly stick a bird on it, but that feels too much like cheating, so I’ll have to make another page with an intentional bird on it LOL!

I had an image, can’t recall exactly where from now, that I liked so I decided to cut it as a stencil. {shudder} That meant going back to my old Mac mini, running the last operating system that works with my ancient Cricut (1st gen) and SCAL.

Yep. The one with the mini-Japanese keyboard and the right-only monitor. I had to have The Hubster remind me how to access that. Such a numpty, and a forgetful one at that. But it worked, thankfully, and as I had unearthed a mostly full pack of laser transparency sheets and my stash of new (sharp) blades, I cut it in a flash

And it stenciled like a dream. I did have to add a few lines to join things up but yeah, I love it and can see using it again. I don’t mind cutting a stencil that I need only once or twice when the resources are cheap. I only pray I NEVER need the Great Cheeto Coloured Git’s stencils again. But I digress…

I always love working in my very small journal from a Roben-Marie tutorial. It is by far one of my most favourite ones. especially when I have been away from journaling for a while and need to ease back in to it gently. The pages themselves are bright and colourful (mostly) so I need only add a focal image and a quote for the barest minimum page to feel that all important sense of accomplishment we all need. And…

There we go. Challenge success. Now, about those birds…


All you need to create your own quirky envelope for mailing art!

Settle in. This is not a super complicated process but it does have a few steps and you will maybe want to really explore the links I’ve added. First, let me show you the kind of envelope we will be creating in a low tech sort of way:

This version uses another of the quirky character downloads you will find linked in this playlist on YouTube. The one we will use for the play today is this one:

This is a low-quality image! Be sure to go to the video and use the link there to grab the HIGH QUALITY version.

Next, grab this envelope template. Print it. It will print on A4 or US letter but the envelopes will be of slightly different sizes. That should not matter in the slightest. But you might like to print it on heavyweight cardstock so you can keep using it over and over.

Now go grab some digital paper – you could use scrapbook papers, but frankly they will likely be too thick. If mailing, you don’t really want to add a lot of weight it you don’t have to. I have found that quality printer paper is fine for envelopes, 90-120gsm. Here are a few links to some free digital papers that would work. You don’t want super busy patterns, nor heavy, dark colours. This is a good link to begin with and the paper I used for the sample above AND the one today is this one. Right click and save the image. Now print it, ticking the SCALE TO FIT option (or whatever the equivalent is on YOUR printer) so you fill the whole page with the image of the paper. You may need to rotate it to portrait orientation first.

Now use the template to cut an envelope shape out of your digital paper.

The images from the download are quite large. Possibly too large for your envelope! Print them, but select the option to print TWO images per page – on my printer that is COPIES PER PAGE. The page prints with figures of about 5 1/2 or 3 1/2 as they come, but if you print them 2 sheets per page printed, they are more like 3 1/2 and 2 1/2. MUCH better for envelopes!

OK. one more bit of techie stuff. Grab this PDF of decorative address blocks. Sorry it isn’t a full sheet, but there area few styles.

Now you have a bunch of elements and it is time to put them all together!

And this would be the time for the glue stick or maybe even better, some temporary adhesive. That way, you can use the same envelope base and make a variety of envelopes to scan!

And I also used an image for another collage sheet I bought

and yet another that uses bits from a number of collage sheets that I shared before, I think:

In close-up I think you can see all the bits I cut to assemble the figure. At this point you just need to scan the envelopes and print them as you need them! Or, as I mentioned, you could possibly photocopy them and then use them up and then copy more.

I hope that was useful and you will share with me your envelopes, if you makes some! I had an ATC come to me in a trade this week that was from someone I didn’t know personally and she had my own designed ATC by Me back on her card! Honestly, it totally made my day, to see someone using something I made and cast out to the winds!Doesn’t take much to make me happy LOL!

WOYWW tomorrow. I have had chaotic days lately, all I can do to keep up with my blogging, and WOYWW visits on the day are getting harder and harder. Even when I don’t have my knitting friend over, I have a meeting of some sort, like today. I always get to them but it seems to take till the weekend for me to manage it. Bear with me…

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Pre-decorated Envelopes

I was watching a very old You Tube video that I stumbled on by someone called Crafty Hodges. She is just my style! One of the things she has in her videos are links to some quirky character downloads. I love them all. There is a link in this video (and a few others) to some free downloadable sheets. In one video she shows an envelope she made using some digital papers and some of her collage clips. She built hers by printing out the bits, cutting them and sticking them to a blank envelope that she cut using a score board. I did that:

but I went a bit more high-tech. I cut an envelope of the size I wanted using the punch board.

Then, I converted it to a .png. When I add it to my program , I make it slightly sheer. I can see the score lines clearly. I drag in a piece of digital paper and arrange it so the template is over the paper. I can build the collage elements on the address area.

Then all I do is hide the envelope template layer and print, cut, and make the envelope as usual. To be honest I probably don’t have to ass the digital paper, just the template of the correct size is enought for placement, but I like to preview the whole thing to see how it all works. I can even add the address digitally before I print it. I messed up on the brown one (the envelope was actually too small for the folder holder and all the goodies in a double ATC card swap) but it was easy enough to cut out eh address part and stick it to the front of a bigger envelope

I think they are very cute and make nice goodies to send as happy mail. I will probably make a few more, but I also saw a video on making a “magazine journal” and I quite like the idea of that to fill with collage play. I am far too distractable. but I am having fun so what’s the harm?



Pure Play – Vaseline, Hand Sanitizer and Distress Oxides

Note: edited to add a quick PDF tutorial for anyone who needs more info. Hope it helps you wrap your head around the technique.

I love experimenting and I love figuring out a new way to do something, especially a substitute for something I don’t have, if I am on the fence about buying it. I had seen a demo of Distress Glaze over top of Distress Oxide inks, used to revive the bright colours, rather than leaving them oxidized and chalky. to be fair, I wasn’t 100% sure I actually LIKED the effect, but I wanted to see for myself. I don’t have a lot of glossy cardstock but I did find a little pack of a few sheets. Considering the properties of Distress Glaze, Vaseline seemed like a reasonable thing to try. And yeah, it totally works. This is not, actually, a “new” discovery. Once I knew it worked and I went looking, yeah, people have been doing it for a while, although they seem to mix 91% alcohol with the Vaseline. I suggest watching at 1.5 or 2x speed and the meat of it is at about 5minutes.

I didn’t, I just used Vaseline straight, with a blender, and it totally works al by itself. But that got me thinking of a few other ideas to try. The first thing I did was to add the Vaseline thru a stencil on the blank glossy cardstock then add the Distress Ink over the top.

When you then buff off the Vaseline, you are left with the white glossy card under it. You will not be able to see this super clearly, but the right is buffed the left not in the first shot and totally buffed off in the second:

It made me think that you could layer the DIs into the white spaces…except the Vaseline prevents it. Buffed off (on the right) you can still see the sheen of the petroleum jelly.

But the info from the video gave me a bit of an idea. I squirted a dot of hand sanitizer onto a aper towel and rubbed that over the piece – It kind of remove the Vaseline, at least a bit, and while it might have dulled the shine very slightly, it did then allow me to layer more Distress Inks over it and not have the jelly resist it! The first photo shows the piece in two halves. The left half has only the Vaseline applied thru the stencil and then rubbed off. The right side has the Vaseline rubbed off then the hand sanitizer applied over that, with both having more DI added as a final layer. Then you see the half with the Vaseline only after buffing and the next the side with the hand sanitizer after final buffing.

Here are the samples. I love them all. They are in no way tacky to the touch, and you need only the barest dab of Vaseline to get the colours to pop. But using it as a resist is really a nifty technique.

I think I was influenced by a Distress Resist spray video I saw, but I am 100% sure this is something I will carry on playing with. I also want to give the samples some time, to see how they look in a day or two. I may need to buy some glossy cardstock!

But wait – there’s more! I happened to have a scrap of tracing paper on my desk, and decided to see what would happen if I had a go at the Vaseline-thru-a-stencil on that, Distress Oxides over it, and then buffing off the jelly and cleaning the residue off with the hand sanitizer. In a word, WOW!

Do not be tempted to dry this with the heat gun between layers, the Vaseline will totally melt and you will not be able to layer the DI. Totally ok for the final layer, as the Vaseline will have done it’s job by then. Look at it. It’s just lovely.

And to add a few more images from the PDF: