DIY Boiled Paper

I just found an interesting option for plain watercolor paper.  Boiling the paper.  Here’s how:

You can use a couple stacks of paper.  Begin with cement board and lay leaves and flowers all over it.  Lay paper on top of the leaves and flowers.  Fill each layer with more leaves and flowers.  Let the leaves and flowers over hang the edges of the paper. Once you have your stack filled with foliage, cover the top sheet and add another piece of cement board on top.  Trim off most of the overhanging leaves and clamp the stack with “C” clamps.  They need to be held very loosely, or the leaves and papers will stick together.

Boil water and 1 cup of white vinegar in an old, heavy pot.  Once it’s boiling, place the stack of paper and greenery in the boiling water.  Boil for 7 minutes, making sure the clamps are not to tight.

Once the paper has been boiling for 7 minutes, you can add Rit Dye to the water for some really beautiful color.  And you don’t need much.  One package of dye will make many, many projects.  Mix the dye into the water with the stack of paper by holding your “C” clamps.  Boil for 1 1/2 hours.  Keep checking to make sure your water doesn’t boil out.

The water is nasty after you boil the paper.  Lift your paper out of the water by the “C” clamps and set in another old pot.  Toss yucky water into the compost pile. Let paper cool a bit so you can handle it.  Take it to the sink and unclamp the stack.  Under running water, gently separate the papers from each other and the foliage.  Be very careful at this stage as the paper is fragile and will tear easily.  Lay papers out to dry completely.

This is a long process but the results look pretty amazing.  I’ve never seen paper quite like it.  I haven’t tried this yet but intend to do so as soon as possible.  I just thought I’d share this really cool technique.


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Get To Know Your Supplies: Punches

Punches are tool you use to cut out shapes in paper, fabric, fun foam, metal, leather, etc.  I don’t have a huge amount, but I do have some in basic shapes which I find very helpful in my art journaling.  Here’s what you need to know about punches:

The heavier-duty punches you buy, the more options you’ll have.  If you have the sturdy ones they will punch through just about everything.  If you buy three or four sizes of one shape, you will also increase your options for projects.  I have three or four circle punches, for example, which means I can layer them to create things like flowers for a 3-D look.  Flip the punch over so you can see where you’re punching-makes it easier to get an even design or to save paper.

I have basic shapes: circles, stars, flowers, corner rounders, a few border punches, and a lot of tiny punches which came in a set.  You can find the tiny punches for a buck at Michael’s.  There are all sorts of punches available, including tag punches. I also have one that makes earring cards for the earrings I sell.  Here are some ideas for using punches.

  1. Use a single punch along the side of your page.  This makes a nice border and you can see through the punched area to the page beneath.  If you like the border look, buy a border punch and use on tags, book pages, book marks, etc. for interest.
  2. Punch out several shapes for your page from a piece of paper and use the negative as a stencil.
  3. Punch out a circle or flower and curve the edges using an old mouse pad or magazine and rounded paintbrush handle.  Ink edges and glue together in center, staggering the petals a bit.  Use a button, bead or brad as your center.  This also works well if you use different patterned paper for a more interesting flower.
  4. Use the tiny punches to make several small leaves (or whatever shapes you have) and include them in a shaker card.
  5. Using a heart punch, lay them together with the point in and glue.  Makes a lovely flower.  Curl edges, embellish as desired.
  6. Punch out circles and add to the edges of your art journal page as tabs.  I fold mine over, sticking out a bit from the edge of the page.  I also do this for tags in my art journals.  Add to scrap paper and make all kinds of interesting bookmarks and tabs.
  7. I use my circle punches to cut out the interesting designs from metal cans.  These are for earrings.  I make a variety of sizes and round them in a dapping block.  This is a really fun project.  You could also make charms for a bracelet or dangles for necklaces this way too.  Or add to your art journal layouts.
  8. Punch out shapes from fun foam and add to a sheet of cardboard or chipboard and make your own stamps.
  9. Punch out a shape and stamp an image on it.  Color or emboss and use as a die cut.
  10. Use your basic shapes to create all sorts of things in your art journals.
    Three different sized circles could make a snowman or ice cream cone or balloons.  Add foam tape beneath the shape to pop it up off the page. Ink your edges, add details and you have a cool embellishment that’s super easy.
  11. Punch shapes in ribbon and fabric.
  12. Use thin wood found at the craft store and make your own wood embellishments.
  13. Glue punched shapes onto foam core for game pieces.  Make your own game board from cereal box chipboard.
  14. Use a border punch around a square or round piece of paper to make a doily. Or strips of paper for paper lace.
  15. Punch shapes from plastic packaging to make DIY Fragments.

If you have hand problems and struggle to cut out shapes and images, punches are a good option.  Although I don’t have many, the ones I do have I use quite a bit.


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Pencils and Puppetry

Leah has an assignment for her art class.  Make something from an unsharpened pencil.  We asked for clarification, could it only be one pencil or more than one…Since she loves puppets, she wanted to make a pencil puppet.

Here’s how I did that:

Using 5 pencils, I cut four pieces from the eraser ends, and four pieces from the rest of the pencils.  The body of the puppet was shortened and the eraser end is the head.  I drilled holes through the four pieces on both ends, and drilled one hole through the four with the eraser ends.  The body has two holes, one near the top and one at the bottom.

Using jewelry wire, I wired the double holed piece to the eraser piece.  Now I have two arms and two legs, jointed at the elbows and knees with the eraser part being the feet and hands,  Then I threaded wire through the bottom body part and attached the legs.  Then did the same at the top part for the arms.IMG_1430

Tomorrow the kids have off and Leah will make the clothes and we will add the hair.  Then I will string the pencil puppet to the controls.

Leah is absolutely thrilled with her pencil project.  My husband said it was her project and she should do it herself, which I agree with.  However, there was no way the child could cut the pencils, then attach them together with the wire.  As it is I have a huge scratch on my finger from the vice which held the pencils while I cut them and drilled them.  Leah told me her idea and what she wanted, and I think that counts.  (My idea was a kite.)  She’ll color the clothes and that’s cool.

I really have to give her credit for her creativity.  I’ve made puppets from many, many things, but never from pencils.

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DIY Misti Stamping Tool

Here is a you-tube video showing how to make a DIY Misti stamping tool.  The lady is a friend of Lindsay, the Frugal Crafter.  I found the video on Lindsay’s site.  Here’s how I made mine:

First I found two clear cases at Goodwill.  I thought we had several, and maybe we do, but I couldn’t find them.  My cases are pale blue, but clear.  I cut 1/4″ thick fun foam to fit inside the case.

Using graph paper, I drew out the commonly used sizes for my usual stamping projects.  Here is a link to free graph paper.  I made four different papers, each with some measured sizes on them.   I have all the commonly sized tags, for example, as I use tags a lot.  One has an “inchie”, “twinchie”, “rinchie” which is a one inch round you can use in bottle caps, ATC sizes, and the commonly used size for cards 5 1/2″ by 4 1/4″.  I included business card size and recipe card size too.

Once the pages were made, I ran them through my laminater.  While I don’t consider this an essential tool in my work room, it certainly has made my life a lot easier.  It was a Christmas gift last year, along with laminating sleeves, and I have loved having it.  There really is no substitute for the ease of use and professional results you get from an electric laminater.  I tried the sticky, do it yourself sheets and I was never able to get them smooth without a bubble or wrinkle.  I’m sure it’s possible, but I was never able to get it perfect.  The laminating I do now is perfect every time, no problems at all.

So once the papers went through the laminator, I cut them out to fit the box.  I saved all my leftover plastic from the sleeve the papers were in after going through the machine because I have a use for them.  I’ll be sharing that really cool project soon.  I sprayed the sheets with temporary spray adhesive to keep my tag from moving and stamped a little scene with one of my new clear stamp sets.

You place your stamp on your tag or paper.  Flip it over so the flat side is facing up.  Once you have it where you want it, close the lid and press it down on the stamp.  The stamp will cling to the lid.  Ink up the stamp, shut lid over your paper or tag and press gently over the stamp for a good image.  I used three different colors for the leaves on the tree.  I wiped off the stamp with a baby wipe between each color, but the stamp never shifted.  The image is crisp and clear.  Wipe the case if you get any ink on it while inking up the stamp.  You don’t want to transfer that onto your project.

This was a very inexpensive project, I bought the two cases with whatever they were holding, for 3 bucks.  I think the thick sheet of fun foam was a dollar.  I am not sure how to price the laminating plastic, because I didn’t buy it-it was a gift.  I’m sure it’s less than a dollar per sheet.  The graph paper won’t cost you anything because you can print it off for nothing.  I had graph paper, so I’m going to say .25 cents for two sheets.  I had the temporary spray adhesive, but if you don’t try hairspray.  Each of the DIY Misty Stamping tools cost less than five dollars and took about an hour to make.  And most of that was looking up the sizes for the tags and all the other things I included on the papers.

Since I sprayed the papers (four of them, two per case) with temporary adhesive, I am storing them in the cases, one sticky side down on the foam and the other sticky side down on the back of the first sheet.  This way there will be a bit of tackiness on the foam and the laminated sheets so they won’t shift.  Not that they did, but I’m just being cautious.

If you have the rubber stamps with the white back on them already you don’t need to use the thick fun foam in your case.  They will be the right thickness to use in your case as they are.  Once you stamp your image, make sure the image is as clear as you want it before removing the stamp.  If it isn’t, re-ink and re-stamp.

I had a lot of fun playing with this new toy.  It worked perfectly every time and made stamping so much more fun.  Give this one a try, you won’t be sorry you did.



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Get To Know Your Supplies: Acrylic Paint, Part 3

Mediums you can add to acrylic paints are another way to add versatility and options to your art practice.  Let’s cover some of those.

  1.  Modeling paste is often used in art journaling.  You can easily mix any color you choose into modeling paste to create some beautiful looks.  Smear through a stencil, press a stamp into the paste on your page, build up layers for forests and mountains, add clouds and planets, use over paper clay to make 3-D work.
  2. GACs can be used to extend acrylic colors, to regulate transparency, create glazes, increase gloss, reduce viscosity or improve adhesion and film integrity.  They are specialty acrylic polymers offered by Golden.
  3. Gel Mediums.  Several types, from extra heavy to soft gel.  They can be used to create glazes, extend paint and change finishes.  It’s essentially colorless paint.  I most often use gel to extend my paint and as an adhesive for collage and mixed media work.  It comes in different finishes, high gloss, semi-gloss and matte.  Gel is one of my work room essentials.
  4. Gel with additives.  These are clear gel with things like glass beads, pumice, stones, etc. added to it.  These are specially formulated to adhere to the canvas and are perfectly safe to use in your art practice.  If you are selling an art piece use the professionally made stuff.  Don’t mix your own, as you won’t know how long it will stay on your canvas.
  5. Special Effects Pastes:  fiber paste dries to look like paper.  crackle paste is thick and cracks when it dries.  The way it cracks depends on the thickness in which you spread it.  Both dry and are able to accept acrylic paints over them.
  6. Pourable Gels:  clear leveling gel It has a unique resinous, stringy consistency resulting from its leveling property. Clear Leveling gel dries to a flexible, high gloss film.  Clear Tar Gel has a pully, tar-like feel, but in a clear, colorless gel. This extremely resinous and stringy consistency makes it feel very different from other acrylic gels. Useful for generating fine detailed lines by “dripping” it over surfaces, as it continuously flows from palette knives or other tools. (Think Jackson Pollock)
  7. Acrylic Glazing Medium:  glazes for fine art as well as interior application on walls or furniture. The slow drying formula provides sufficient working time for a wide variety of glaze and decorative finishes normally accomplished with oils. It is also excellent for soft transitions and color blending in paintings.  I use this stuff all the time.  I put a plop down on my palette and mix it into whatever paint I’m working with.  Love it.
  8. Open Body Acrylic Mediums: Open body paints are softer and more squishy than heavy bodied acrylic paints.  I would say they are similar in consistency to some student grade paints like Liquitex Basics, for example.  More loose and flowey.  There are artist quality open body paints, I just don’t have many.  There are mediums made specifically for open paints.  OPEN Acrylic Gels (Gloss/Matte) are used to extend OPEN Slow-Drying Colors while maintaining their working properties. They can also be used to slow down fast-drying acrylic colors as a blending or glazing medium.  And OPEN Mediums help maximize working time of OPEN Acrylics and can be used to adjust color strength and translucency while maintaining consistency. OPEN Acrylic Medium (Gloss or Matte) will lower paint viscosity to create a more fluid mixture and increase flow. OPEN fluid mediums are also useful for lowering the viscosity of Heavy Body colors and slowing the drying for detail painting using fine brushes.
  9. Fluid Mediums:  Mediums & Additives provide infinite control with acrylic colors. Mediums control transparency, viscosity and surface sheen, while additives control paint’s working properties. There are many types of fluid mediums, what you want is dependent upon your paint.
  10. AdditivesRetarder is an additive used to increase the open (drying) time of acrylic paints. Useful for wet in wet techniques and reducing skinning on the palette.  OPEN Thinner is a water-based additive for thinning the consistency of OPEN Acrylic Colors and Mediums without altering drying time. It also maintains and adjusts the workability of OPEN colors on palettes, and can be used as a thin-bodied retarder with Heavy Body or Fluid Acrylic colors.  Wetting Agent is a concentrated additive used to reduce surface tension of the water in the acrylic emulsion, thereby increasing the slickness and flow of the paint. It is effective for achieving rich stains on a porous surface. (It makes your water wetter)
  11. Grounds.  A ground separates your paint from your surface.  A ground could be gesso or something else.  I use clear gesso as my ground for pastel paintings.  Works great.  Another of my favorite grounds is Absorbent Ground.  It is a fluid acrylic medium that dries to a porous, paper-like surface. Applied over gessoed canvas, it facilitates raw canvas-like staining and watercolor effects.  This stuff is the bomb!  I don’t know how I lived without it.  I generally add three coats of absorbent ground to my canvas-right over top of the gesso that’s already on it.  I can do amazing, unique effects with this stuff.  I absolutely recommend it.
  12. Interference and Iridescent acrylics and mediums: Interference Acrylics — Interference colors “flip” between a bright opalescent and its complement, depending on the angle of the viewer. Relatively transparent, they allow artists the ability to glaze with unique effects. Add gels for impasto texture or thin with mediums. Try adding a very small amount of black to produce deeper, richer, opalescent effects.Iridescent Acrylics — Iridescent colors synthetically reproduce natural phenomena, such as the nacreous quality of fish scales and butterfly wings, or the pearlescent effects of certain metals and minerals. When mixed traditional colors and mediums, they impart a luminous quality. “Coarse” colors employ a larger reflective particle size in comparison to “Fine” colors. Special Iridescent Acrylics — Mica Flakes, Coarse Alumina, and Micaceous Iron Oxide: These special iridescent colors add a sparkly touch or a distinct texture! These extraordinary colors are created by mixing assorted mica partials with gel medium. The Micaceous Iron Oxide, with its rich simmer color and gritty surface, makes a glorious ground for pastels. Palette knife application is recommended.  (I have Micaceous Iron Oxide but haven’t used it yet.)

Some of the descriptions came from Golden’s website or Blick’s.  After typing all that up I found I liked their descriptions better.  Should have started there I guess…

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Get To Know Your Supplies: Acrylic Paint, Part 2

Just as I think watercolor pencils are the most versatile product in watercolor media, acrylic paints are the most versatile paint product available.  The possibilities are endless.  In the first post, we covered what acrylic paints are and some simple techniques for using them.  Here we’ll get a bit more in depth.  The type of paint you need depends upon the type of art you’re doing.  Since I do a little bit of everything, I’ll cover some of your options.

Craft paints, the kind you find for .50 cents at Walmart, are perfectly fine for many techniques.  I use these paints 95% of the time in my art journals.  These are considered fluid acrylic paints, as they don’t hold a shape if you pour them out onto a palette.  If you squirt tube paint onto a palette it will usually come out in a plop and stay that way, or very slowly spread a bit.  I use and love my craft paints.  I have several in metallic which are particularly fun to play with.  These are the paints I use when I do a paint pour.  Techniques using fluid acrylic paints:

  1. Dripping.  You can pour a line of paint along the top of your canvas or page and tip and drip.  This is great for abstracts, water effects, skies, mountains, etc.
  2. Paint Pours.  I use the heaviest weight paint at the bottom of my cup, the white.  Then I pour other colors into the white.  I use silicone, Floetrol and a torch.  You can also use tube paint for this technique.  Just mix with distilled water to liquefy.  I use less silicone than the you-tube video says (usually three or four drops for larger cups and one or two for smaller ones) because I don’t like the greasy residue on my piece.  This is the guy, Danny Clark, I learned paint pouring from.  Please check out his videos, he’s great. (oh, and I have never used a scale.  I just eye-ball the paint in my small containers and add to the larger cup.)
  3. Fluid acrylics are perfect for use in emulating watercolor painting.
  4. Glazing your canvas.  Fluid acrylics are great for creating backgrounds or for under painting.
  5. Spattering.  Obviously the more liquid your paint the better you can spatter it.  Use a scrap piece of paper to practice on first before you spatter your artwork.
  6. Dribble paint on your page and scrape with credit card scraper or palette knife.
  7. Mix with other mediums like sand or glass for some really cool effects for water and landscapes.
  8. Mix with gesso or modeling paste for some fun.
  9. You can always use fluid acrylics in air brushes, although I would hesitate to use craft paints.  If you are spending the money on the air brush, get the recommended paints to go in it.  (I do have some artist quality fluid acrylics and I love them.)

I have never had any trouble with any paint sticking to paper.  The reason I gesso my pages in my art journals is so the paper can handle the wetness of the paint, not because it won’t adhere to the paper.  If you are using paints in your art journal-which you totally should because you can do everything with them-gesso the paper first.

Heavy body acrylics are also very important in my art practice.

  1. I use these for paintings on canvas, which I sell.
  2. I also use them in art journaling
  3. for home decor projects.
  4. I have used distilled water to make them liquid enough for paint pours.
  5. I have mixed them with gel for acrylic skins.
  6. I apply them with a palette knife, brushes, sponges, baby wipes, really anything can be used to put paint on canvas or paper.
  7. Use palette knife and smear over a stencil, lift and wash stencil well
  8. you can paint on fabric and fun foam
  9. add different mediums for different options.
  10. Apply paint to stamps.  Just make sure you clean them off immediately and very well.
  11. use on wood, paper, fabric, metal, cardboard, foam core, fun foam, glass, clay, leather, etc.

Next up:  acrylic paint mediums.




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Loose Horse and Pumpkin Orange

Today’s adventures begin with the neighbors horse getting loose and running through the neighborhood.  Fortunately he ran back to his barn and I caught him there.  Dan, our new neighbor, helped me get him tied up.  We found an old halter on the ground and some clothesline and tied him to the barn.  We were unable to find a way into the barn or pasture, and we looked for a long time…My daughter called a friend of hers who knows the family and was able to get her number.  My daughter phoned and the owners came and put the horse back in his pasture.  Disaster averted.

Since I had an appointment to pick out new glasses, I had to take off for about an hour.  In that time the horse was returned to the safety of his pasture and I picked out the new frames.

They are pumpkin orange.

I have a terrible time picking glasses because I really want my face to actually become some other face, you know like Angelina Jolie’s or some other gorgeous person.  Unfortunately no matter what frames I wear my face is still my face.

The good news is there is a vision center in a near by town which carries some very unique glasses.  And they only carry one or two of each, so you don’t have the same glasses everybody else has.  This frame is from a french company, Lafont, the same one which made my really cool glasses which broke in half when the eye doctors office was straightening them.  (They took out my lenses and put them in other frames which nearly fit the lenses.  I was very unhappy about the situation, as those were expensive glasses and really cool ones.)  But I have lived with these purple frames for several years now and it’s time for a change.

Actually it was time for a new prescription too.  Apparently I have reached the age where I need bifocals.  Yippee.  Now I get to be old too.  What fun.

The cost of glasses is staggeringly high, in my opinion.  Without the insurance and the additional 20% off sale on frames my total for those glasses would be $748.00.  Thankfully, we do have insurance and the discount which brought me down to $313.00.  We have our flex account for medical bills and this counts.  So I used that and didn’t have to come up with the cash for the glasses.  I had them make a copy of my prescription so I can also order cheap-o glasses on line for use in the workroom.  Since the new glasses are very expensive I don’t really want to be scraping paint spatters off them all the time.

They were the first pair I put on my face.  I tried on several others but went back to this one again and again.  The color is unique and the shape is a bit, too, but not as funky as some I tried on.  It’s hard to choose a style you can wear all the time.  I mean you have to wear them to church, funerals, weddings, evenings out and the grocery store.  That’s a lot of different event styles to cover in one frame.  The lady helping me has 5 different pair of glasses.  Maybe she gets a huge discount because I cannot imagine spending over three hundred bucks on more than one.

So I will be seeing clearer in 10 days time.  And I’m pretty excited about that.




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