I have been playing around with a rubbery gel monoprinting plate by Gelli Arts. I learned you cannot use inks with the plate. It is a fun tool for monoprinting by hand, especially for making your own decorative papers. These are the details I have learned so far:
- Stay with acrylic media! The fine particles of watercolour paints and inks are absorbed by the Gelli plate. I used Speedball water-based block printing ink, and it stained the plate very deeply. Using dish liquid detergent and alcohol hand sanitizer gel did not lift the stains. The instructions say to avoid dyes and fabric dyes but do not mention inks specifically. Many inks are acrylic based; it seems natural media that has gum Arabic or fine colorants work their way into the plate. The pigment or colorant in watercolours, inks and dyes seem fine enough to be absorbed by the Gelli plate. I thought the plate was non-porous sheet of silicone rubber. This is not the case. Some of the inks that caused the staining also came out when I was using it later and blended in with the acrylic paints I was printing.
- A drying rack is a huge help. Use a line to hang prints if you have to. I have enjoyed working where there is a drying rack so I can print, let the paper dry and go back to print further layers or color.
- The surface of the Gelli plate is very sensitive. Use a very soft sponge or a piece of t-shirt fabric if you need to rub off dry paint. Even standard paper towels seem to be really rough and leave marks on the surface. Keep the packaging material so you can store your Gelli plate without it getting dented or scratched.
I am having a lot of fun with this tool. I just ran into a learning curve on what I can do and cannot do with it, and some concerns on how to properly maintain my new toy. If you have learned anything interesting, please respond in the comments area.
Paying $80 for 2,000 full-color, 2-sided, extra heavy business cards seemed like the greatest deal ever, at least until I threw more than half of them in the trash. I saved a three inch stack and dumped one un-touched sleeve of a thousand and a little over a quarter of the other sleeve into a garbage bag. Where did I go wrong?
First, I over estimated how useful paper business cards are in the digital era. I gave many away but not as many as I had hoped I would disperse. People rarely take any business cards or fliers from art gallery shows and festivals. Leave all the stacks you want, maybe a few will be taken, a dozen at most. You can offer business cards to people but my person-to-person hand outs were a really low number. I’m not pushy about promoting myself. Foisting business cards off on lots of people in person seems tacky. People will accept the card to be polite but that does not mean they want it. I should have been more aggressive in stuffing business cards into any fish bowls on counter tops at local restaurants to win a free hot dog or sub sandwich. That could have been more useful, tackiness notwithstanding.
Designing for a small space to encapsulate yourself is challenging. I had gone with the Pop art series as my most formal but more interesting work. I like that I used visual cues to help people remember my work. My second mistake was in using them because the paintings I did later in the Pop series came out a lot better, were visually stronger and made the prior works on the business cards immediately dated. Being saddled with over 1,500 dated business cards was made worse when I ditched Tumblr for WordPress, making the blog URL incorrect. I still used the cards just to use them, but I was not happy about how fast they aged.
The larger quantity order reflected my ambitions for promotion: a low cost solution to advertising myself. Advertising is mysterious and expensive and business cards are easy to understand and affordable. Printers want to make money from larger orders and buying 2,000 business cards seemed cost effective –compared to a smaller print run– as the price per card dropped with a bigger quantity ordered.
I recommend to order a small quantity, maybe start with 200 to 500 and see how fast you really use your business cards. Write when they arrive on the box they come in and then note at what point they are out of date for you. How fast they seem dated will depend heavily on the design and where your art work goes over time. At least with a smaller number of business cards, you are not stuck with an outdated design or old information. If you like what you have, you can always order more.
DIY Network online has a video and instructions to build the art table above. The estimated cost of $100 – $250 for this project is not going to include the large gray paper flat file, which is expensive. I have seen someone armed with a group of long drawer pulls build one out of plywood. This would definitely be great for a studio. If I had any place to put something this big, I would be headed to the home improvement store right now!
Collage Friends by Shellie Lewis, 5″ x 7″. Paint transfer toner image, paper collage, acrylic paint, iridescent blue paint, gel medium and gel medium skin toner transfer, gloss acrylic sealer on recycled chipboard packaging.
I have been noodling with mixed media and learned of a technique of using acrylic paint to transfer images. This is working better for me than gel medium transfer. Light colors of acrylic paint will transfer toner images onto a surface. You need a toner based image [magazine page, catalog page, photocopy or toner print] to transfer. Photocopy or scan your own drawings or photographs and use those to make mixed media art. Read more…
Hockey Players by Shellie Lewis, multi-media on wood, 4.25 x 5.125 x 0.75″
I recently learned that kitchen waxed paper will accept acrylic paint and can be collaged using a decoupage medium such as Modge Podge. I decided to try this process and it is really neat! Painting on the reverse of the waxed paper gives the images a diffuse, aged look. I added to the aged look by crumpling the paintings.
You need acrylic paints, waxed paper and Modge Podge to get started. You cannot thin the paint with water because the waxed paper repels any water; the paint has to be a totally acrylic medium. Here are all the steps I used:
- Draw or trace an image onto the waxed paper. I traced photos from some large scale sports cards. I did use an evil Sharpie marker which I know will degrade. I wanted fine lines and no other pen I owned, all having water-based inks, was working.
- Paint your image or background pattern. If you want the waxed paper for a background, you can collage paper bits, gold leaf or foils, mica, glitter, threads and a wide array of items in addition to acrylic paint. Items with dimension can be glued down with Modge Podge. I just stayed with paint and a small dash of glitter paint for my hockey guys, treating the wax paper the same as a reverse glass painting. I painted on the side that is going to be glued to the wood.
- Paint the surface to adhere the waxed paper to if you want another layer of color. I painted a gun metal metallic gray onto gessoed pieces of wood, added some snowflakes and called it done for the background. The rest of the painted images was on the waxed paper. If you are painting and/or collaging a background field of color that the waxed paper is to be made into, you may want to skip this step, because you can completely cover the waxed paper. I planned to have flecks of and underlying color sow through the finished art work.
- Crumple the painting. I did two crumples, one horizontally and one vertically, to give the waxed paper an aged look. Some of the paint will flake off when the paper is balled up. If you crumple gently, paint loss is minimal compared to really crushing the waxed paper hard. Smooth the painting back out. Also, you can skip this step if you like.
- Modge Podge! I used the glossy kind. I used one layer on the wood and smoothed the wax paper onto the wood, put a second coat of Modge Podge on top and left it to dry. Do this step quickly as the waxed paper gets damp and will tear. After the wroks dried I did one more coat of Modge Podge and let it dry again. I trimmed the excess waxed paper off from around the edges, since the art works were bigger than the pieces of wood. Some Modge Podge medium ran down the sides so I sanded them clean.
- Seal the artwork. Modge Podge is sticky and I have run into problems if it gets wet again. I used two coats of a liquid clear acrylic brush-on varnish / sealer. There are many brands of clear sealers in spray cans that will also work well.
I’m happy with how the project came out considering the materials were really simple. I was able to use some gesso coated scrap wood pieces from a discard bin and make something nice out of a recycled material. The translucence of the waxed paper invite you to stack layers and think about layering more than one piece of waxed paper.
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.