Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Courage Board

Getting started on this was actually the hardest part of the whole thing for me.  This was another case of researching a project so much that I actually became fearful of trying it.  I seem to do this a lot – I look at other people’s creations, research how they put it together, what items they used, what adhesive, etcetera until I literally have so much information I scare myself into never trying it. I sort of stun myself into inactivity (I need to think of a catchy name for this “disorder” so when it becomes the syndrome du jour it’ll be easy to say & maybe I can brand it - tee hee).

It was one blog post that finally gave me the push I needed to go ahead (I wish I could remember who’s blog it was, but I was participating in a blog hop and it was about 2 months ago – from now on I’ll write this stuff down!).  The woman on the blog had made a beautiful frame for a picture of her and her husband.  I recall that she used a lot of sprays but I don’t remember what brand she used.  I do remember being impressed at how cool everything looked, even the every day items like a paper clip, once it was all gussied up. 

So, I am going to finally play with some of my stash. Let me tell you, I have been collecting, and hoarding, these objects for years.  I used to buy game pieces and the like off eBay back when you could get good deals on other people’s junk, the stuff no one wanted but figured they’d try and sell.  Now everyone is trying to get $90 for a set of Scrabble letters.  Once I bought 15 pounds of game pieces from a guy for $18.  I had planned on making a 3d mixed media piece at some point so all my goodies sat in their drawer, waiting for me to occasionally come and check them out to see if I could use anything on something I was working on.  As soon as I got the game board, (I love FreeCycle!) I knew that is was time to just do it.

I Used:

  • “Courage” rubber stamp is from Wendy Vecchi’s set called Heirloom Art,  LCS103
  • Ranger Archival Jet Black Ink
  • Golden gesso
  • 1 quarter piece from a game board (amazingly strong!)
  • The embellishments were a lot of stuff I have just collected.  I used dice, dominoes, some funky game pieces that I don’t even know what game they came from, small plastic bowling pins, plastic bone, various wooden chockies, a little paper umbrella, beads, a few pieces of Grunge Shapes, shoe erasers, plastic flower, the little things that hang off key chains, various wooden pieces, some small filler beads and more.  You need to FILL the frame – you want is as chunky and full as possible.
  • Distress Paints in Fired Brick, Mowed Lawn, Chipped Sapphire & Mustard Seed
  • Golden Acrylic Paints in Titanium White, Quinacridone Red, Phthalo Blue, Hansa Yellow Medium & Phthalo Green
  • Fireworks Ink Sprays in matching colors
  • Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist in Iridescent Gold
  • Krylon Spray Gesso

close up of the goodies
I began with the quarter game board. I gessoed it and while it was drying I started to go through my stash & pit out items I knew I wanted to use.  Then I started to glue – I use Crafters’ Pick glue and I love it – it is the best white glue I have ever used.  So I glue and glue and glue.  

view from the top (there was much more added as the project progressed)

Then I started to gesso over the objects.  This was a LOT harder than I thought it would be. I figured I could just use my paint brushes to get into all the nooks & crannies but some spots were very hard to reach. Plus at one point I got paintbrush fibers all over everything & I mean it looked like a paintbrush exploded.  Well I didn't want to use a good paintbrush with all the smooshing and jamming it into the underbelly of the embellishments, so I used a cheap one (and I hate those sponge brushes - they seem to soak up more paint than they actually leave on the surface).  I couldn't get the "hairs" off so I resorted to just putting the whole thing in the kitchen sink and rinsing - lightly - I didn't want all the embellishments falling off, just the paintbrush hairs. After complaining, my honey remarked that he had some stuff in the garage that they use on cars in a spray can – grey primer.  COOL I thought since they paint cars after they primer them this would work out fabulously.  

Nope.  Nothing, and I mean NOTHING stuck to this grey stuff.  Not acrylic paint, not sprays, nothing.  So, now that it is all grey and unpaintable I sigh, deeply (so I don’t throw the whole thing out the window) and get my gesso out again.  I have already used a TON of gesso and now I had to try to cover all the grey.  After a few days of gessoing, drying and gessoing again I still had the same problem – I couldn’t get into the hard spots.  I started researching – there HAD to be spray gesso! And there was!! I wasn’t too thrilled with the reviews I read about the performance of the product, but I felt since I really just needed the board sprayed a few times it would be OK.  Then I tried to find it.  Michaels™ didn’t have it, I found it online, but I wanted it NOW.  Since my other half was going to Wal-Mart I figured I’d give him the info and see if it was there. . . . .(hear that Jeopardy theme? That's me waiting for him to come home) . . . . .

YIPPEEE!! They had it!! He also bought me 2 spray glosses in matte, which I totally appreciate, but I need one in glossy.  But, hey, I got the gesso!  Since he has more experience with spray paint than I do – ahem – I asked him to do my board.  It came out FABULOUS!!!I didn't take a picture of the board happily gessoed because I figured you all know what white paint looks like.

Now I can color!! I had originally wanted to use sprays on the project, but I don’t have any Dylusions sprays yet (they are on their way as I post this) and the sparkly sprays I do have just didn’t cover enough fast enough.  So I broke out my acrylics.  The colors are very vivid, too vivid for this project, so I just added Titanium White and toned down the paint until I liked the color.  Then, as I was painting, I occasionally dipped my brush into some clean water and made the paint thinner so it would drip into the hard to reach places.  I did one color a day so I could get a little mix of the colors but not a whole lot.  I also added some Fireworks Spray mists, with a paint brush, to each color once it dried – I used whatever color mist I had that closely matched the color I painted in acrylic. Once the painting was done, I took a piece of white card stock and stamped my “Courage” stamp on it in the Jet Black Ink (I actually put a lot of thought into what quote I was going to use.  Since this quote really speaks to me and I had found the courage to finally do this project, it was a perfect fit!) I took my Distress Paints and smooshed a color (use one color at a time since you don’t want your final color to be muddy brown) onto my mat, spritzed with water and put the stamped paper in the paint making sure I had the correct color in the correct space.  After I was done, I spritzed the whole quote with water again and let it dry.  I cut the quote down to size, clipped the corners with my corner rounder and attached it to my piece with gel.  I then lightly spritzed the whole thing with Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist in Iridescent Gold.  

 These two pictures are actually just 2 different ones I took - I think one is with the flash & one is without just to try to give you an idea how sparkly this is.  I really like how the paint looks worn in places (the blue domino at the top is a good example).
As you can see I did add some "filler" beads to the board as I went along but all of the big pieces are in the same places as they are in the first pictures so you can compare

and get a good idea of what items will look like, depending on how you color them of course.  I think it is so cool how some of the texture really held up considering how many coats of primer and gesso there is on it.  If you look close you can still see the diamond pattern in the Grunge key & between that & the heart you can see a bit of mesh I put on.  I had put these number beads I had, where the number is raised from the bead base, and I can actually still count them from 1 to 9 - not so much in the pictures, so don't strain your eyes, but in real life.
A close up of the quote
I wish you could see how shimmery it is in person – it’s so hard to get pictures of shimmer.  I think this baby is going up in my art room!  It was well worth the effort and I can’t wait to start making another one. . .hmmmm. . .I wonder how much spray gesso I have left. . .

I am happily entering this piece into the Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge, the theme is anything goes :) as well as
Crafts - Too Challenge You, where the September theme is texture (I think I got that - LOL)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Keeper of the Dead Fairies

The weather here in Colorado finally broke - no more 90 plus degree days and no more rain!! I LOVE Halloween (dark & spooky is easier for me than cute & cuddly) and I love the colors of fall.  And, now that my craft room is no longer a sauna, I have started to make some Halloween/fall art.  Please read on. . .

I keep seeing “dead fairies” all over the place – no, not actual dead fairies, but ones crafted out of this and that (maybe it’s the blogs I read. . .hmmm).  I plan on making some as soon as I can get to the dollar store (Dollar Tree in my area) and getting my sticky little hands on some more plastic skeleton garland.  It’s fantastic stuff & you get 4 full skeletons for a $1 – you can even take them apart a bit – you can remove the arms, legs & rib cage; leaves you with a head on a spine, but hey, if that’s your thing. . . Anyway, the planned production of these fairies is what spurned me on to make this tag, Keeper of The Dead Fairies.

I started with a regular #8 manila tag and I used the Black Soot Distress Ink on the background – I first pounced the pad on my craft sheet and then spritzed with water the I put the tag on the watered down ink, just laid it down.  I then saw where the ink didn’t get to and I laid the tag down in the ink in those spots.  You can’t see much of the background except at the very top of the tag.  I colored in the reinforcer around the hole with a black Sharpie and I also edged the edges (ha!) with the same black Sharpie – some of you know how I HATE edges!!

I put the tag aside and knew I wanted to use my flames stencil from Crafters' Workshop somehow on the tag.  I wanted the flames to look really cool & different so I thought I’d use some stuff I’ve had hanging around for years (literally, but in a drawer, not hanging) vellum! Remember vellum? Anyway, I took a piece of regular vellum, put my flame stencil over it and spritzed it with Fireworks! from Imagine Crafts (Fireworks! Is a shimmery, water based spray ink) in Dandelion, Tangelo & Lady Bug.  I let it dry, but wasn’t really pleased because the flames didn’t pop out like I wanted (I really don’t know what I expected being I spritzed them on vellum) and I pondered how to get them to really stand out.  After I showed the spritzed vellum to my honey, he suggested that I outline the flames – TA DA! Sometimes I guess it pays to listen to them, but I don’t plan on making it a habit.  So on the stencil goes and I outlined the flames with a red Sharpie – I LOVE the way they came out!!!  I knew what I wanted to do next so off I went.

Here is a close up of my flames

I got my winged skeleton from Meer Image (they make some rocking stamps! Many unusual & cool images) – my skeleton is actually named Sebastian – and stamped him on some plain card stock with my favorite black ink, Ranger Archival in Jet Black.  I then fussy cut him and glued him on the front of the tag.  I computer generated “Keeper of the Dead Fairies”, printed it on a transparency & cut it out.  I also had some leftover Dresden trim in black so I put a bit of that on the tag as well.  Finished off by gluing it all together and there you have it!  My keeper is all ready for some dead fairies (and I finally got some more skeletons, so the parade of dead fairies is on the way)!
And here is the complete tag

I would like to enter my tag into the following challenges:

The Crafty Bloggers Network's monthly challenge is "Anything with Wings"
Punk You Girl's current challenge is "Red & Black"

Thank you & please leave a comment!!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Alcohol Ink Tips and Information 101 {UPDATED 10/07/18}

Please know that most of this is purely my opinion & I received no compensation, from anyone, for this article.  Also, if you find the information useful, or not, please leave me a comment so I can upgrade the page!!! Also, please let me know if there are any broken, or bad, links. 
*Last update 02/02/14 

Please note this article is NOT about alcohol ink markers.  It is about actual alcohol ink!

Since the popularity of this post {that I first wrote in 2008!} is still getting a lot of visitors, I thought it might be helpful to put a link to my Pinterest Alcohol Inks Board - that's where you'll find more information and more projects.  You can get there by clicking right here.  There have also been some changes to some manufactures and products - I've updated in the article. 
*added 02/27/18
 *and sort of updated again 10/07/18


I am not comparing or writing about alcohol ink markers (like Copic, ProMarker, Spectrum, etc.) this post is in reference to the actual alcohol ink.  Personally, I can’t see how/why the different brands of markers could really be that unique, but that’s just my opinion.  If you are interested in alcohol markers, there is a comparison chart here: PaperCrafter's Corner.

You can do an internet search and find millions of ways to use alcohol inks as well as lots of useful tips that accomplished artists’ have put together.  My goal here is to hopefully pass along some practical tips – the things I learned the hard way so you don’t have to.  My main concern is helping you not ruin your home or studio and finding alcohol inks that are cheap.  I am by no means an alcohol ink expert, but I do love to play with them & nothing makes me more ornery than wasting expensive stuff.

Protect your workspace heavily.  Whether you use multiple non-stick mats, silicone mats or my fav cardboard covered with wax paper (my genius invention – I’ve been doing the cardboard & wax paper thang way before the non-stick craft mats were introduced & I always have about 3 of them going so I can put stuff to paint, or to dry on one and be able to grab another. Use rigid cardboard, I usually use the cardboard that comes in packaging or something like a cereal box with both sides) make sure you have a lot of it.  Especially if you’re crafting area is the dining room table or other public space in your home.  Alcohol ink & finish (any kind of finish) don’t get along well at all – trust me on this.  So over protect.  Protect like you have a group of 20 two-year-olds coming to play alcohol ink finger paint on your antique mahogany heirloom table.  Because even though alcohol ink bottles have little spouts they can leak if they are accidentally knocked over. 

ALWAYS wear some sort of gloves that are waterproof.  It doesn’t matter if you think you are just going to dab a wee bit of alcohol ink on a tiny piece of paper; if you are not wearing gloves you will stain your hands, your cuticles, your fingernails (which may or may not be an issue) and waaay underneath your fingernails where nothing can reach, and I mean nothing.  And while the various kinds of blending & clean up solutions do work, they will not work well enough to make your hands look presentable for that wedding, business meeting or other event where you have to look good and not like you dipped your hands in a vat of bright pink paint.  And alcohol ink takes forever to wear off skin, besides the fact it can’t be that good for you.

DON’T remove your gloves until you are sure you are finished with the alcohol ink, capped and stored the bottles (including the blending solution), any doo hicky you used to play with the ink (cotton squares, tools, etc) and have set aside whatever you were using the ink for.  If you are anything like me when you are working, you are usually in an artistic frenzy; you are grabbing inks, tools, paper, all sorts of stuff that you suddenly need for this project.  And perhaps you aren’t as diligent with capping things as you normally would be* (plus some alcohol inks tend to drip down the sides of the container in that little seam where you can’t see it).  My blending solution, mixatives, Krylon metal leaf pens and ink bottles are covered with the fore mentioned & that makes it SO easy to transfer ink to your skin when you think it’s dry – remember, the blending solution “wakes” the ink up, so that purple ink that is dry on your blue ink bottle may, in fact, just be waiting, quietly, for your index finger that got a teeny bit of solution on to touch it, then BAM you woke it up.

*which also reminds me to tell you to NEVER shake your Ranger Mixables without putting the cap on – I know, seems like a no brainer, but when I am in the middle of a crafting frenzy I often forget the most basic things (like eating, sleeping, going to the bathroom, etc.) and I made the HUGE mistake of grabbing my bottle of silver Mixatives and gave it a good shake and promptly ended up with pretty little silver blobs all over the place – ALL OVER the place – I am still finding things that have been blobbed & I did this quite a while ago.

Always have plenty of items to ink.  I have started to keep at least 3 full sheets of glossy card stock next to where I am working because alcohol ink goes a very, very long way.  Two drops can make backgrounds for several cards, tags, ink some metal, plastic, transparencies (remember those from school?), clay, etc.  Instead of hunting for stuff to ink while you are in the middle of your project do yourself a favor and have the stuff right there.  Not only are you being frugal (and what crafter doesn’t like to be frugal?) but you are creating what could be the start of your best piece yet.  And there is SO much you can ink with alcohol ink – the list goes on and on!  Personally, I haven’t played with it on photo paper but I have heard good results from those who have so there is another option since glossy card stock can be pricey and most of us have some photo paper around somewhere that came with our printers.  I have also heard that the For Sale signs at Dollar Stores can be used with the same results as YUPO.  I've never tried it, so I don't know. 

If you use the Tim Holtz blending handle and pads DON’T get blending solution on the black handle part – it makes the handle amazingly sticky and I had a hell of a time getting the handle off my glove, I can only imagine trying to get it and the resulting tar-like mark (‘cause I have NO idea what coats that handle but it looks and feels like tar) off your skin. I learned this after I doused the tool in blending solution trying to clean it off a bit.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.  I made my own applicators quite a while ago and just used regular craft felt, but I do confess, I like Tim’s tool and the pads the best.

The Basic Alcohol Ink Primer 
(or, why the HELL are these things so expensive?)

There are many different brands of alcohol ink – remember, alcohol ink pens need refills and those refills can be considerably cheaper than alcohol inks marketed specifically as an art tool.  Reminds me of wooden sticks, yanno the kind that ice cream comes on – well, you can pay $10 for 50 at a art store, $5 for 50 at a craft store or $3 for 1000 at a medical supply store (please don’t take my example seriously – I truly don’t know if you can get 1000 tongue depressors for $3).

A candle holder I made years ago using alcohol ink on the glass part & decorated with beads.  I used to be concerned about having flame near the alcohol ink until I read on Susan Brown's blog that the alcohol evaporates and therefore there is no risk of fire once the ink is thoughly dry.

I have several different brands of alcohol inks that I play with and I have had them for years, again, because alcohol ink goes a loooog way.  By far, the most popular alcohol inks are the ones by Ranger.  Some other brands are:

  • Now Winsor & Newton Promarkers was Letraset  (TRIA markers were the first set of alcohol markers I ever had – and I still have them).  I have some refill inks in 40ml bottles {called Pantone}.  Winsor & Newton has acquired Letraset.  The ProMarkers are now called Winsor & Newton ProMarkers. It seems they are NOT refillable.  However, many companies are putting out "drawing ink" which is soluble dyes in a shellac solution. I don't know if that means they are alcohol ink or not; in fact, when I searched Winsor & Newton for alcohol inks I also got calligraphy ink, which is not permanent - so I suggest you read the ink contents prior to purchasing.  

  • Jacquard Products puts out PiƱata Color Alcohol Inks; I got the Exciter pack which has 8 colors and 1 bottle of clean up solution.  You can get these packs for about $20 which isn’t bad {I recently saw the entire pack on BLICK for $4!!}. I also found the individual bottles for about $8 each, which is bad, in my opinion.

  • ShinHan is a brand I had never heard of until I was researching alcohol inks.  This company makes markers called Touch Twin (I have seen the name spelled like this ShinHan and like Shin Han). They do sell refills for their markers and they come in 20ml bottles.  The refill ink retails for about $5 a bottle and it seems that these are readily available in art supply stores as opposed to craft stores which may effect the price. One cool thing is they say they have 204 colors.

  • Spectrum Noir offers little bottles with droppers as refill inks, their bottles are 30 ml (priced about $5.95 for a SET of refills to match the set of markers you want to refill) – these may be the best bet price wise. UPDATE: I couldn't find any information on the refills for Spectrum Noir.  I've contacted Crafters Companion and will let you know when I hear back. 

  • Zig Kurecolor Marker refills come in 118 colors, in a 25cc bottle – you can buy sets of refill color, I even saw them on HSN’s website! (priced about
    $4.75 a bottle)

  • Various Ink COPIC & Ciao refills are available also.  When I looked them up I found them on where the price ranged from $8.99 to $5.99.  They refill all types of COPIC markers, anywhere from 7 to 15 times, depending on which marker you have. I couldn't find an actual amount of ink in the refills, but the bottles look fairly large.
Just to compare, Rangers Alcohol inks all come in 1.5 ml bottles – and since most of the other brands come in larger bottles and, of course, the larger the bottle the more ink you get, it is obviously cheaper to go with a bigger bottle.  Unfortunately, the biggest bottles, the TRIA ink, is no longer available.

There are TONS and TONS of tutorials on You Tube on how to make your own alcohol ink with everything from food coloring, liquid fabric RIT dye and Sharpie markers.  I am definitely going to try the Sharpie tutorial after I buy a pack, and I even liked the food coloring one, but, there was some concern about bugs (but unless you add sugar, or some sort of food for the bugs I would think this wouldn’t be an issue, especially since you are basically mixing the food coloring with rubbing alcohol & I don’t know of any bugs that like rubbing alcohol) BUT with my luck a mutant bug will live in my house and just loooove rubbing alcohol.

If you do get alcohol ink on your nonstick mat, regular old rubbing alcohol (with at least 70% ethyl alcohol) will get the ink off your mat.  I know, I used it.  I also saw a tutorial where they used the same rubbing alcohol as blending solution.  I did throw some on one of the alcohol ink background papers I made today and it did move the ink – I didn’t try it directly on my applicator. However, the ink didn't move as freely or as nicely as it does using the Ranger Alcohol Ink Blending Solution.

Do you have any alcohol ink wisdom you would like to share?  You can either use the contact me form (on the right hand side of this blog) or just leave a comment.  Thanks for reading and I hope you learned something, and if you didn’t, I hope you had fun.

I also wanted to share just a few things I have done using alcohol inks.  Hopefully this will inspire you to pull out those neglected alcohol inks and have a blast! 
Here are some backgrounds - made on glossy paper - that I made.
This is a Christmas Ornament I made for Christmas in July.
 You can see the tutorial HERE

Here are some applicators for the alcohol ink.  The small square and the one on the left side are home made & I use regular craft felt.

Thanks for reading my alcohol ink info article - try saying THAT 5 times fast - if there is anything you'd like to add, that you think would be helpful, or would like me to add PLEASE let me know! You can leave a comment or use the contact me form over there --------------------> 

One of my VERY favorite things I've made with Alcohol Inks.  I made this AGES ago and it's just Alcohol Inks on Acetate. 
I still play with my alcohol inks and I love them to bitsEvery time I am stumped on how to color something they come through for me ~ If you have found this article helpful, you may want to subscribe to my blog, or bookmark this page.  I do update it {not as much as I should} when I have the time.  As I said before, if you have information to add, or found something incorrect, PLEASE let me know! Thanks, Christi

PS: There are other projects on my blog that use alcohol inks - just do a search for alcohol inks, or look up the label, below everything and you will find them ~ hope you enjoy!