Mail art swapper jannieb turned me onto a process being called a “masterboard technique” and it is really fun for making artist trading cards. Online searches run into some confusion with the use of “masterboard” for computers and electronics versus it’s usage for arts and crafts. The basic idea is very simple, people make one main artwork and then cut it up into smaller pieces for ATCs, labels, greeting cards, etc. A lot of the example I found used collage and rubber stamps so I tried two of those to start out with, combining paint and coloured pencils, then I moved on to making entirely painted masterboards.
Gel medium works well to adhere the pieces of the paper collage in place and will not dissolve when it has dried. Cereal boxes or similar recycled food packaging is a sturdy surface for collage. I have gotten to like using a wash of transparent paint over the entire collage to tie together the different pieces. Heavy watercolour paper would also work well. With painted masterboards, I have found the gelatin sized paper for painting with acrylics and canvas paper work well. The benefit is that you are filling a surface with a lot of detail and points of interest but you are going beyond the confines of a 2.5″ x 3.5″ rectangle. The beauty comes from adding layer upon layer. You can combine paper collage, different kinds of paints, inks, drawing media, stencils, rubber stamps and more. I try to use a minimum of four to five layers of material; a mere three layers used well packs a lot of impact. Making masterboards has been a fun new technique for me, and I have gotten nice series of up to nine cards for a 9″ x 12″ sheet of board, gelatin sized paper or canvas paper. I title and edition the good cards from each masterboard to make each one its own ATC series.
If burn yourself on hot kitchen cookware, a hot glue gun, a soldering iron or other surface apply Vitamin E oil [tocopheryl acetate] on the heat injured area right away. Even if it only stings a little and has not gotten red or blistered yet, the faster you apply the Vitamin E the more it can help. Butter, egg whites and ice may make it feel a little better but does nothing to mitigate and help heal the damage; the food may cause infection and the extreme cold of ice can cause more skin damage. This is actually a chef’s method of dealing with burns and is even more effective an using Aloe Vera gel or plant leaves. They keep a bottle around of the gel caps and poke it with a pin, then squeeze the Vitamin E onto the area. I have a bottle of liquid Vitamin E oil which has served me well.
If you think you have a burn worse than a very superficial and small area of damage to the outer layer of your skin, do not try and treat it yourself. You need a doctor for large areas of damage, extreme pain and deep burns that go below the upper layer of the skin. Get to a hospital immediately. The Mayo Clinic advises on the different kinds of burns and first aid actions to take take on an information page here.
Did your dog eat oil paint? This is what you need to do to get oil paint out of and off of your idiot dog. It seems a certain troublemaker is not just content to destroy consumer electronics but also try to give me a heart attack as well. In the 7 – 8 years of her life, she has never shown the slightest interest in oil paints. I had been wiping my brushes on paper towels, then putting the used paper towels in a small trash can. I go to clean my paintbrushes at the end of the day, come back to the living room and her face is purple; oil paint soaked paper towels are chewed up and all over the floor.
The most cautious route is to induce your dog to vomit. This is also helpful if they ate something toxic like chewing gum with the artificial sweetener Xylitol in it. Use a measuring syringe or turkey baster and get your dog to swallow a typical liquid 3% hydrogen peroxide solution sold over the counter at drug stores. If you are worried your dog ate a poison, get it out fast. I skipped this and kept and eye on her. She did not have any signs of paint in her mouth, so I think she just pulled out the paper towels and shredded them but did not swallow much of anything. A call to a friend relayed the story of a pet ferret that ate a whole tube of cadmium red and was fine, so I was significantly less worried about a little alizarin crimson on the muzzle of a 55 pound hound.
I used food safe cutting board mineral oil to get the oil paint off her fur. Unscented baby oil will work just as well. You can also try olive oil or vegetable oil. I soaked clean paper towels in the oil and wiped her down until she was back to her normal monochrome self.
I look forward to our next adventure.
If you are interested in artist trading cards and other forms of traded art or mail art, go to ArtTRADER Magazine. This is free to access and is only web published. Each issue is posted online as a .pdf. The articles and production values are wonderful. I just started reading it and am enjoying it a great deal.
I came up with the best way to use cling stamps; you need to hack them. These are a fairly new crafting product called rubber “cling” stamps. They are available in big box arts and crafts stores. You have to buy a thick acrylic block separately to place the stamps onto in order to use them. The idea is to pull the stamps off a sheet of clear plastic they are sold with, arrange them onto the thick acrylic block holder and stamp with them. The upside is that you can see through the clear block where to place the rubber stamps onto the acrylic block holder (the printed back side of each stamp with the image is sticky); you can see the surface you are stamping onto (unlike regular stamps mounted onto wooden blocks) and the cling stamps can be taken off and re-positioned at will. The downside is that putting the stamps back onto the plastic sheet they are sold with is very annoying, and the adhesive back sides are at risk of collecting dust, debris and -where I live- dog fur.
Also, the thick acrylic block is the most expensive part of getting a set of cling stamps together. I went to hackerspace Pumping Station: One with a solution in mind. I raided the 1/4″ thick clear scrap acrylic, discards from other members, and used the laser cutter to make my own backs for the stamps. I bought three sets of stamps for a total of $8 (before tax) because they were clearance items. This gave me a total of 19 image stamps plus a whole set of alphabetical stamps that resemble typewriter keys. I sat with a ruler and measured them and used the laser cutter to cut the backs. I decided on rounded corners for the images and rounded backs for the alphabetical set. Total cost for this project: $8 and sales tax. They stuck fine onto the 1/4″ thick acrylic and stamp well. It is much easier than trying to stamp with them without any backing material and much more cost effective than buying the additional backing block pieces for sale.
UPDATE 1/15/2013 Fatherted on Swap-bot advised that there are other modifications to dodge buying the backing block:
hey, if you want to stamp with cling stamps, you can also use a cd or dvd case or a flat dish or a plastic box. or the lid of your inkpad, it all depends what you like
Here are three tips on how to glue tiny, small, minuscule items onto a surface. The smaller the item is, the harder it is to work with. You need the right adhesive and the right tools:
- E6000: This all-purpose epoxy glue will stick anything onto anything. If you want to prove it’s strength for yourself, glue two wine glasses together base to base and let it dry overnight, then try to shake them apart. I’ve done this and the wine glasses stayed together. Usually sold for jewelry making, it has proven good for collage and for getting small crystals and similar dimensional objects onto paper crafts. This adhesive is really strong, so if you have to choose to use a small amount of anything, use the strongest glue possible.
- Toothpicks: Do not try to put the adhesive directly onto the tiny item. Use the end of a toothpick to get a small amount of adhesive on your small object. A cotton swab with the fluffy cotton top cut off and sewing pins work also, but it seems that toothpicks are the most convenient choice.
- Use Tweezers: Fine point hobby or science supply tweezers are the biggest help. I use the tweezers to pick up the item, put the glue on with a toothpick while holding it and then place it where I want to glue the object down right away. I keep a paper towel or napkin handy to wipe the ends of the tweezers right away to prevent adhesive from building up on the tweezers tips.
Pandora’s Box by Shellie Lewis, India ink and watercolour, 2.5 x 3.5
I tried a first Zentangle drawing ATC (if you don’t count the x two I tore up and threw out.) The idea is to make art with somewhat structured doodling and a wide variety of patterns. Felt-tipped pens are the preference. People make them in black and white or full-colour. Zentangle is a branded name; people also refer to the art as tangle doodles or tangle pattern drawing. A lot of blog space is dedicated to this newer, international art movement. I never heard of it before; it is totally below the radar for art schools being popular in mail art forums and crafting circles. Zentangle Mandalas are popular with many people tracing a CD to get their initial round shape. Do a Google Image search for “Zentangle art” and there will be a lot to look at.
Fans of Zentangle art often say that it is relaxing and a good way to relieve stress. I like it because it is a simple form of pen and ink drawing that people with no art training can become very good at. People memorize the patterns and take their drawings to a higher level of complexity. Pieces can be abstract collections of the patterns or representational art adorned with the patterns. You can also create you own pattern and share the idea.
Here is a free website that collects many patterns and links to their instructions:
I called the company and learned that Sharpie markers are not archival or good at all for the creation of long term art work. I loved Sharpie markers when I was in high school and all of the drawings I did with these pens are ruined. They have radically faded and discolored. I was mostly trying to draw comic books and do line art. I had gotten tired of India ink with dip pens and liner brushes, and the fine point Sharpie pens were really easy to use. All of my black Sharpie drawings turned shades of greens, purples and browns. Areas I filled in with India ink or another kind of marker are still jet black. These drawings were not exposed to sunlight, either; they have been kept in my portfolio since I made them and were on artist grade drawing paper.
Yeah, don’t hate. I was trying to do my own Advanced Dungeons & Dragons inspired comic book when I was a teenager. The original is so faded and pale brown, I slammed it in Photoshop to make it visible. The line art had been jet black. It is now a pale washy greenish-brown and not even faded a consistent color from area to area.
Sharpie has a lot of advertisements and their website imagery [such as the drawing at top of this post] promotes the pens as art supplies. They took out a lot of advertisements in my art college magazines and publications. I was hoping the contemporary Sharpie was a better product than the ones of the past. I was being lured in again by the Sharpie felt-tipped goodness and the wide range of colors and metallic hues available. They are easy to use and the felt pen tips are great; I found the permanent-when-dry quality of the ink stable enough to not bleed or wash away for under drawing on canvas for acrylic painting. Unfortunately, even the new Sharpies do not have long term permanence.
I spoke with Beth at Newell Rubbermaid Office Products [800-346-3278] the parent company of Sharpie markers in Oak Brook, Illinois. She advised me that Sharpies are alcohol based and are not archival in any way. The same is true for the oil-based Sharpie paint pens; those will rapidly decay and discolor also.
This is sad for my HBBF and everyone else who are sports fans because contemporary professional athletes autograph player cards and memorabilia exclusively with Sharpie felt tip pens. All of those lovingly collected player autographs are going to have a short shelf life. I saw discoloration and changes in my Sharpie drawings in as little as ten years. Worse, fans and autograph hunters often pay -sometimes large sums- to get their items signed by players and usually wait in long lines. Therefore, Sharpie ink is only good for ephemera. You cannot count on it to look like it does years in the future so use it for throw away sketches, kicks, street art and anything you do not want to have long term.
UPDATE 11/13/2012: I mailed my Sharpie markers and paint pens back and got a refund check for the retail price, sales tax and the cost of shipping with a very polite apology letter. If you want to return yours, mail them to: Newell Rubbermaid Office Products Attn: Consumer Affairs 2707 Butterfield Rd., Oak Brook, IL 60523-1278 USA and include a letter explaining the reason for the return.
UPDATE 3/01/2013: Bic has a similar product that is advertised as acid free / neutral pH but is no better and will also fade and discolor over time.
Working with another member R.J., I tried an alternative copper etching process I learned from Steve Finkelman at Pumping Station: One hackerspace. You want to coat the copper plate with a level amount of spray paint. It is easier if you have contact paper, packing tape or a similar sealant for the back of the plate; that way, you do not have to spray paint both sides. I was careful to also spray paint the edges of the copper plate. The piece shown was a test plate. R. J. is working toward making copper plate book covers and they are going to be awesome! There has been a lot of buzz online for copper etching, especially for people making jewelry and items in the Steampunk genre.
After the spray paint dried, we used the laser cutter to remove the spray paint where we wanted the copper to etch. I did one pass at 80% speed and 100% power. You may want to try doing two lower power laser cuts for more detailed images. We sent this piece of metal for a swim in a fresh bottled batch of Ferric Chloride for half an hour and got a nice, deep etch on the plate. To remove the spray paint use full strength acetone and you have your finished item. This would also be a fun process for jewelry.
Steve Finkelman advised of a better chemical etching process which is usually used for etching circuit boards. He recommended Muriatic Acid [smaller amount of which are available by the quart at Ace Hardware stores] mixed in a 1/1 ratio of 40 weight hydrogen peroxide. This variety of hydrogen peroxide is available from beauty supply stores and is ten times stronger than peroxide sold as a disinfectant in drug stores. This mixture will produce more fumes than the Ferric Chloride. You need to work in a well ventilated area for safety! An intake fan pulling the fumes away from the work area wold be a good idea. It is best to put this combination in a tank with a cover and use an airstone bubbler [like the kind used for fish aquariums] to agitate the mixture. One benefit is being able to re-activate the mixture if it is getting weak by adding a capful of muriatic acid, then more H2O2. Steve Finkelman advises this process is less expensive, regenerable and the chemicals are more available than ferric chloride. He gave me specific instruction on how to deactivate the mixture:
Aluminum metal will kill the solution. The way to dispose of it is to put aluminum foil into the etchant, which will cause the copper to drop out. Then add enough sodium hydroxide (lye) to neutralize the solution. Once neutralized, the solution can be run through a coffee filter to remove the copper particles. The solution that is left over is aluminum hydroxide, the active ingredient in tums. Don’t eat or drink it. The brown sludge is copper.
Save nozzles from spray cans because they clog easily! If you have a compatible nozzle size, you can switch a clean one onto the can and continue using your spray paint, spray varnish, spray adhesive, fixative or other spray. I keep a few nozzles from a old cans and clear them out with a soak in pure acetone and wash them with soapy water. Store the back up nozzles in a clean, dry container because dust is problem for them also.