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Clean desk, made some coins for a change

A pleasant and diverting morning making some ATC coins. People os a certain age will probably get the words, especially combined with the images. The image is from an old magazine (1997) and it made me laugh. One of those times the whole piece sprang, fully formed, into my head, and I just had to do the work to make it.

I printed then cut and coloured with Copics (coloured and cut?) the mouth and punched out the background from a scrap of paper from my first Frida set.

I love the weight of the large Zip Lock bags packs we get from Costco, as they are the perfect combo of sturdy enough for a coin backing yet thin enough not to bugger up my punch.

Once I stick the paper to the backing, I stack them between stamping blocks so I get good edge-to-edge sticking.

I wanted the little line of gold dots, but getting them straight was a bit time-consuming…

…til I spotted this roll of washi tape. Worked a treat. I stuck the dots over the circles on the tape, added a dot of glue to the back

then flipped the whole shebang over to stick all the dots in a row at once. Let it dry for a second, peeled off the tape and TaDa!

I think the top one looks better and took so much less time to accomplish. I’ll keep this trick in mind for future sequin use.

For the first time in forever I made a set where the coins are virtually identical. I rarely do that, but easier to photograph LOL!

Sorry for the shadows – it’s sunny outside today and the drapes are open wide.

So glad I managed something actually art this week. We’ll see what next week brings…


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A little book and a bit about home printing…

I have purchased a TON of digital images and int he past I always stressed about them smearing in an art journal, or the colours being quite dull when printed. Not any more. I have had a couple of packs of this paper, in a couple of weights, and I have to say it is fab for printing things and having them come out quite bright and lovely, even in normal (rather than the ink-greedy HIGH quality) mode.

I hope you can see how bright and detailed that colour is. The paper is from PPD and it comes in 120, 170 and 210 gsm. I love the double-sided coating version cause then it doesn’t matter how I load it into my printer!

They have a Buy 100, Get 100 free offer on at the moment. I’m stocking up!

It isn’t just colour – black & white pop on it too. I made this little booklet, based on a kind of a running family joke around our disdain for the font Comic Sans. I know. We are weird. The booklet is made on mixed media paper, torn at an angle, to create a stairstep effect when folded.

and the background is warm neon colours on one side and cool on the other so you see glimpses of both when it is folded closed

I added some spatters and some stenciling, using many of the plastic lettering stencils I have hanging about in black and white to add more interest

The focal images are these odd birds, from a digital kit. I just like them a lot – I can’t say the tie between birds and fonts is super strong but the images are striking. The cover it tied and when you open it you see the warm side first. Flipping it over reveals the cool side and the final “joke” is in, of course, Comic Sans.

Just a bit of playfulness – at least it got me using my gel plate, which was fun. It’s been quite neglected now for a while. I am also working on some odd ATCs, using these same images but with a more surreal feel to them. I even have the perfect name for the series: Absurd Birds! It’s coming along.

School is back in session so my days will be a lot freer, I hope. More crafting! Yay!


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Stamping with Vaseline as a resist for Distress Oxides

So yeah, I actually did this on the same day as the Vaseline thru a stencil as a Distress Oxides resist post, but I really wanted to add my art journal page, and I had already edited the post on Thursday to add the PDF, so I decided to leave it and add this today. Pretty simple stuff really and as is so often the case, it really depends on stamp choice! You need glossy cardstock and a stamp that has both a good portion of stamped image areas as well as a good bit of areas that let the background show thru. Here are a couple that I know will work (left) and a couple I am not sure about but curious (right):

The first thing I did was make a sort of stamp pad from a piece of stiff, dense packing material. It has a nice bit of give to it but is still also quite firm, IYKWIM. You need a fairly thin coat of the Vaseline, not so much that you are getting a lot of sqidge into the open areas of the stamp.

I hope you can see I am getting a reasonable stamped image on the glossy cardstock and plenty of open areas:

Again, I used a bit of plastic packaging to tap on the water-activated Distress Oxide inks, in layers, drying between. As you can see, it has the typical oxidized (chalky) effect

I always like to buff off the Vaseline on half the piece in hope you can see the difference side-by-side (left buffed, right not)

And finally:

Really love it. Now I tried the not-sure stamps on the tracing paper – I missed out the stamping-only od the swirl, but you can see it mostly under the Distress Oxide ink here, and you can also see the tracing paper wanting to curl, hence the addition of the painter’s tape:

I think you can see how the top stamp was pretty useless – the bottom one is a bit more interesting. I love that one, but it isn’t very distinct for sure.

I have some ideas for using these but not done anything with them quite yet. I’m still refining the technique.

Oh, and it bears saying loudly:

WASH YOUR STAMPS. You are not going to get a good stamped impression ever again with a slick coat of Vaseline clinging to the rubber/silicone. Do it. Do it NOW.


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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…


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Art Journal experimentation

I kinda feel like I have gotten away from making art journal pages, instead doing experiments on other paper or doing smaller projects, and I don’t know why. I get a little antsy when I don’t get to make an actual page. I made a couple of pieces, playing with the technique of stenciling with gloss gel medium then applying gloss spray over it, with no clear idea of a final project for the pieces. I decided to do something I very rarely do – just stick the piece to a page in my art journal and build on it.

I never really captured the process but basically I filled the background with stamping then stenciled the stars over the top then sprayed the gloss spray over that and when it had mostly at least partially dried on the PAPER (very quick) I wiped the spray away from the gloss gel stars. I did some other stamping over that for a bit more depth. I decided to gesso the brown paper bag page and stick it on that, then stencil more of the stars around the perimeter of the stuck-on piece to (hopefully) tie them together a bit.

There is a bit of scribbling round the stars. black around the yellow ones and white around the original ones – I wish I had done the white around the original before stenciling but oh well…

I wanted to add some text so I went back…waaaaaayyy back, to the technique I came up with the seal inkjet printer text so you can use gel medium over it without the whole thing becoming a dense black smear. We still have a laser printer to buy but finding the right one with all the options we want is tricky. Anyway, the original post is here and originally was more abut using the technique to seal your pan pastels without using a stinky spray sealant, but basically you print the text

then roll gel medium onto your gel plate and press it on the text, being careful not to wiggle it about.

Worked a treat, as usual. Added a face stamped on deli-paper so it could melt into the lumpy background better. The final page turned out ok, although I am not sure if the lower left needs…something there or not. I’ll consider it for a bit.

DAY 60 feels like a milestone. Definitely on the downhill slope, although right at the beginning of it! And nice to occasionally put something smack in the middle of the page. There MIGHT be too much going on here. A lot of colour, a lot of pattern…just A LOT.


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Trash Transformed – again

Yeah, I feel like I am finding so much trash to transform that 100 days of it might be do-able, but the problem is could it be 100 consecutive days? I’m not sure. This one is a good one I think, so worth sharing.

I got my set of Dina Wakely alphabet stamps and as I was popping them out of the surround, it occurred to me that the SURrOUND would make a fab stamp in its own right. Problem was many of the thin bars between the letter blocks were either too thin t support their own weight, with the cushion, or I was too impatient and ripped them. Be more careful and you MIGHT get the whole sheet, which had been my goal, and I failed at that.

I managed these two blocks and another set of four with a pretty ropy bottom edge. They stamp pretty well, although I was testing them on a mop-up sheet from art journal play and it was pretty rough and bumpy, with a variety of substances (paint, ink, gel medium, gesso) over it. But still…

So while they work really well just as blocks of colour, they work better with stamped letters inside – words as well but I’m focusing on the letters for now. I had a good rummage thru all my letter stamps, trying out anything that struck my fancy:

and while this font isn’t a perfect fit, the area below the letters could have a small word or a tiny image fit in there. This is an old Rusty Pickle stamp set from eons ago

Hands down my favourite is the Banana Frog Jeannie Shrimpton font in the large size.

Bev responded to my pleas for this font cause I loved it so and I still do. It is such a good fit for the blocks!

The K from above is actually a different BF stamp set, which also works OK – pretty sure it is Steelfish Outline, but like many of my BF stamps, the rubber is deteriorating and they have morphed into super-sticky, easily ripped items. Oddly enough, if you remember the last ripped letter, the one I ripped this time was ALSO an E! what are the odds….

Day 57. Can’t decide of 60 or 75 will feel like my next milestone…


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Altering stamps for art journaling

Yesterday I shared a page I made with some Janet Klein images that were altered to make them more usable for art journaling. This is how they began life.

Cute, no doubt, but less useful (for ME) in my art journal. I love the technique that MANY people do, of creating figures with more “normal” heads but amorphous blobs for the body. I am a fan, but don’t have a ton of appropriate images. Plus, the journal I am working on at the moment is my very small one made from a free Roben-Marie class. The scale of many of the things one MIGHT use is all wrong. These stamps are just the right size.

While I love the faces and the body bits, those hats! Interestingly, I found that cutting them off produced what I needed. That little dip from removing the cup?

Perfectly filled by flipping the cup, minus handle upside down, creating a little hat.

And that technique works for a couple of them. The birthday cake, when cut away, leaves a hatless lady that can be used as such (see final page) but the hats can also be shuffled around to fit all of them.

And other hat or hat-like things can be brought in as well!

Nice! On the final page I also used a large flower stamp, stamped on deli-paper then coloured and coated (both sides) with GLOSS (not matte) medium on a non-stick surface, like a page protector, and left to dry. This creates what I have seen called crystalline paper.

You can sort of see the shiny translucent nature of the bits, and cut in a certain way they make nice butterfly wings!

I did say there were three things I altered, so lastly, and the most scary, I cut into a stamp set. Yep. I have this stamp and die set, but the dies actually don’t include the little words, and those words could be very useful in many other ways.

With micro-tip scissors I snipped away the text

and used it on the final page.

I think this cluster of figures idea is one that I will explore more. In fact, I had a book delivered that I want to play with, that has some tools (sort of) inside that I think will be useful in this.

Watch this space! And HAPPY NEW YEAR’s EVE! 2021 cannot come soon enough…


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Mount for unmounted stamps – my best use for the Creative Palette (and a cheap alternative)

So there is history here.  You might like to go back and read a few previous posts (or not, as you prefer.)

  • My review of the CP v the Gelli plate and where I die cut it with my Sizzix

That last link is full of warnings – press the stamp HARD onto the CP.  Don’t use it in this way if you worry about messing up whatever you are stamping on to. Shake the mount.  Wash the backs. blah blah blah.

I kept finding that, with every use, the CP surface got less and less sticky and washing it was too much of a bother if I had to do it every time I wanted to stamp an unmounted stamp.

I store most of my unmounted stamps like so:

In binders, and then in baseball card sleeves:

I have not ever wanted to go to the expense of mounting all the stamps, and bulking up the binders.  So over the years I have come up with a few different methods that work for me.  Generally, a strip of strong double-sided tape on a clear mount will do the trick.

I bought a bottle of Aileens Tack It (over & over) cause lots of people recommended it as a good way to make the red rubber, unmounted stamps into “cling” stamps.  It works, sure, but then you have to store all these sticky backed stamps. Ah … No.

Fast forward to the post of CP as mount and….an idea!

Yep.

Why this works – first, the CP is just a bit spongy.  Not too spongy, but enough that it acts as both the mount and the cushion and gives a nice image (might have been nice had I actually shown that – sorry, I’m out of practice at blogging) especially when stamping on to my cork-floor-tile-in-a-big-ziplock-bag stamping mat. Second, there is only the couple of CP chunks that are sticky. Easy to store.  I keep a lot of plastic packaging.  This is from a Spellbinders die.  I just flipped the halves so rather than tightly encasing the die, there is a slim open area that fits two of the sticky CP bits.

Perfect fit.

Now, this makes sense for me because I already own a (mostly useless for the kind of monoprinting I like to do) Creative Palette.  But the CP is not widely for sale anymore (or not that I could find) and if you don’t already have one, this is not a good enough reason to go buy one.

As a cheap alternative, I had a go at coating a piece of sticky-backed fun foam with the Tack It.  It worked just fine.

There is a slight issue with the fun foam being quite thin.  When you press to stamp the sticky surface can just grab the paper – I found this to be most problematic with tissue paper, not at all an issue with a paint-coated journal page, for example.  I did not find it as much an issue with the CP-as-mount.

In hunting for my CP package, I unearthed a nice gelli-print, so I can add at least one decent looking image for you LOL!:

Now I must decide what to do with it.

If you have a Creative Palette gathering dust, why not turn it into a set of stamp mounts? If you don’t have one, try the sticky-backed fun foam.  Let me know if it works for you!


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A new skill…

I read an interesting article in The Sunday Times about learning a new skill – from the online version (well, at least as much as I can grab without subscribing to it )

How long does it take to master a new skill? Apparently, the answer is 10,000 hours. That terrifying number was first suggested in 1993 by Anders Ericsson, a professor at the University of Colorado. He had totted up the number of hours a range of children had practised the violin. Anything up to 4,000 hours and, well, meh. Anything over 10,000 and hello, maestro.

But 10,000 hours is eight hours a day, every day, for more than three years. So that’s out. Instead, we’ve adopted the strategy put forward in Josh Kaufman’s book  The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast. …

I have surely spent at least 20 hours watching videos, reading tutorials and mentally trying to conceptualize the Magic Loop sock knitting technique over the last 10 years .  As you will have seen, the current pair is on three DPNs with the fourth as a working needle.  I prefer the super short ones (which my MIL couldn’t believe) but the longer ones are totally like I heard Lucy Neatby  (sock knitting teacher) describe as “wrestling porcupines.” I have some 8″ ones that I can’t use hardly at all.  4, 5 or 6″ at most  is what I prefer.  I have a set of 5″ needles that is missing one (or perhaps two, as I only have three of them)  and I got a matching set of 6″ ones so cheap from Tiger, when I got the yarn, that I’ve just used one of them to complete the set.  Every time I work the longer needle loose I know I’ve done another row….small victories…

socksSSS

Hummm.  I may actually have two longer ones there … no matter. Back to the point. When MIL was here and we were chatting about knitting, we both expressed an interest in the two-at-a-time Magic Loop technique.  It took me a few days to make the first sock of my set, and possibly 4 YEARS before the second one was finished (and only because MIL finally grafted the second toe for me) – do I have the worst ever case of second-sock-syndrome?  Hopefully not as the 2nd one is on the needles as you can see.

Sorry, still drifting off point. The point is that we both agreed that it looked interesting but we had both attempted it before (I tried to knit my first pair of socks that way but gave up and did them with DPNs) and couldn’t wrap our heads around it.  After reading the article I was inspired to try AGAIN.  To focus my attention and crack it once and for all.  And I did.  Here is where I am as of today.

2socksSSS

These are thick worsted weight socks from a free pattern that I like because it has built-in lines to remind you to take note of your numbers as you knit and is designed for the Magic Loop.

Luckily with all the tidying and organizing, I had virtually all my knitting stuff in one place (well, except those pesky missing needles) so I had my row counters and markers.  With the Magic loop, you are always moving the cable around so I wasn’t sure where it would work so I just tied it to my tail from the cast on.  It flopping around is another reminder – when I have it on the left, I’ve finished a row. My other option was this ancient freebie from Simply Knitting – never going to happen. It would be just like me to walk out of the house wearing it still.

countermarkers

Oh, and those little markers at the bottom?  Aren’t they cute?  I was considering how to convert all the DPN needle patterns to magic loop ones, when the pattern will say move 16 stitches from needle 2 and 16 stitches from needle 3 to another needle or something like that. I didn’t have anything marked 1, 2, and 3 but I did have a ton of these little beads in my scrapbooking stash

2countermarkers

AND I had a ton of these little triangle jump rings – the oval ones are OK but getting the beads on to some of the round jump rings is hard.

3countermarkers

and pairing them up I can use them to mark on my magic loop knitting where the needles are.  I just have to annotate 1 as A, etc.

I found this short video very helpful for “getting” the Magic Loop technique.  Once I get this pair done, and the second sock from the DPN pair done, and get a much longer circular needle, I may try the two-at-a-time version.  Now I’ve done the process for one sock, I think I can see how it will work for two.

And then it’s toe-up sock and the fleegle heel…

…can you tell it’s been a LONG time since I blogged properly? The words, they JUST KEEP COMING.

{wink}


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Socks

I am still taking advantage of my MIL.  She happened to bring with her a sock pattern that she got free with a ball of sock yarn so many years ago that she has made 100s of socks using it.  I really like it.  When doing the tidy-up I found not one, not two, but 3 pairs of sock yarn skeins. I had spent some time researching patterns, looking for a basic one that I liked.  The last pair I knitted with the Yarn Harlot’s guidelines (not the cheat sheet) in Knitting Rules.  I was looking for something that was jut knit this, do that, etc. etc.  The point is I figured why not give her tried and tested version a go?

sock

So far so good, although I took this photo yesterday then found no time to actually blog it, and by now I have turned the heal, done the heel cup and an at the picking-up-and-knitting the side gusset phase. But it is working well and I already got one tip from MIL that I am in love with.  When she does the long-tail cast on, she doubles the yarn and knits the first k1, p1 ribbing with  the doubled strand.  Not only does that very securely weave in the ends so there is NO WAY they will ver work free, it gives a much softer and thicker top edge.  It’s hard to SEE but easy to feel. This is how I will do every sock from now on!

2sock

I am also curious to see how it is possible that the £1 balls of yarn from Tiger are 50 g but only 170 metres and because of that how they will make up.  There is a symbol that is an = sign with a / thru it, between the 50g and the 170 metres – which is what? more or less = to maybe? About = to? Not sure.  But what I am sure of is that this yarn, unearthed in the cleaning, is Regia yarn, 50 g and 210 metres.  40 metres is A LOT of difference.  I don’t want to knit anklets.  It might be worth grabbing another £1 ball just so I am sure I have enough.  £3 for a pair of hand knitted socks is pretty reasonable still, don’tcha think?

Time is growing short, they leave soon, so I now need to look at ALL my knitting, crochet and quilting projects and see if there are any other sticky wickets I would want to ask her advice on before the jet off to sunny Spain.  Sorry to say MIL does not, and never has, free-motion quilted.  That is one thing I can’t get her guidance on, more’s the pity. I wonder if LLJ FMQs?  And if so, what is her availability for private lessons ……