Thursday, 26 February 2015

FOG Tuesday - Air Dry Clay

You may not have discovered this, but we found that not all air dry clays are created equal! Unfortunately, we were not able to try all types. 

We purchased two air dry clays — the Crayolabrand and one from Dollarama here in Canada.

 Crayola Air Dry Clay

Overall I’m sure we would all agree that the Crayola™ brand was the better of the two commercial products. We tried the white version, but it also comes in terra cotta as well as a 3-pack of smaller tubs in coral, sunglow and emerald. It seemed more robust when dry and dried flatter than the Dollarama clay.

Dollarama Air Dry Clay

I felt that the Dollarama clay, when rolled too thin, warped when dry and was likely to break off along lines of design.

Both can be coloured with acrylic or Lumiere paints and highlighted with pearlescent powders or metallic rubs. It may be beneficial to seal the items with gesso before applying paint to the surface, particularly the Dollarama clay which, though touted to dry white, actually dried a light grey. 
Various techniques and finishes.
Both were quite easy to roll and form and could be reworked as required. Both took impressions made by Sizzix™ or Cuttlebug™ embossing folders, mould flexible mats, rubber stamps and other mark making tools.

Dollarama Air Dry Clay
Dollarama Air Dry Clay 






















Although we put holes into many of the pieces so that we had a way to adhere them to other
projects, I’m not too sure how well they will stand up to that use, especially larger pieces. Their use as buttons and smaller items to sew or glue onto cards and fibre projects is likely a better use of these air dry clay pieces. One does need to remember that these would not be suitable for washed items as the clay would break down.

Leslie making buttons.
Vintage look plaque.
Two FOG regulars “cooked” up different home versions of air dry clay and we’ll have a better idea of their properties once the pieces are brought back for show and tell.

Karen's home made air dry clay.

Just a funny side note – if your diet is of any concern to you, then you might want to try the grey clay from Dollarama as it was labeled as being “Gluten Free”! Sheesh – do we really need to be told that or are there way more pica kids out there than originally thought?

Until next time…

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Arts Club at the Library

We started with a simple brown kraft paper box from the dollar store, printed paper napkins, Mod Podge™, assorted ribbons, tags, flowers, buttons and each person had fun embellishing a mixed media trinket box.

My former high school teacher ears picked up this comment, “It’s like craft camp for adults” from one participant, which made me smile. Why is it that as adults we don’t let ourselves play often enough or think that some projects are too juvenile?

Most paper napkins, even the dollar store variety consist of three layers. These must be peeled apart as only the top printed layer is used. This project also works well with printed tissue (as in my sample) or any other printed paper that’s interesting – newsprint, old book or dictionary pages, foreign newspapers etc.

Distressed tissue paper covering.

Spread a thin layer of Mod Podge™ over a small area and either used the entire napkin in one piece, or tear the papers and Mod Podge™ them on as you go. Once the first layer is dry, it’s a good idea to give it another coat to seal everything. Depending on the look you want use either gloss or matte finish Mod Podge™. Before or after that final coat take a sanding block to distress the edges of the box and colour the corners with a stamp pad to give it an aged look.
Plain kraft paper box and works in progress.

Then the fun begins…the embellishing! It’s not a bad practice to employ a few simple design principles so that your project stays focused. The main ones in this project were colour, working in odd numbers, layering items and flow. Once the design is completed use a glue gun to secure the embellishments. The interior of the box can be left plain, covered with more napkin or painted. (as in Jan’s sample) 

Painted interior.

It’s all in the details…sometimes it’s not easy to see where a project can be improved, however slightly, by cutting a ribbon on the diagonal, trimming one piece shorter than the other two or subtracting an item to open up the design. One good way is to take a photo as this may show up those pesky threads of hot glue that always seem to be there or that the bird button is upside down to the rest of the design.

The brown kraft paper boxes come in a lot of sizes and shapes at Dollarama and other interesting shapes, also in the kraft paper finish, can be found at the larger craft stores.

Now there's nothing stopping you from picking up a box, a few supplies and pretending you’re away at summer camp!

Finished Projects
Finished Projects

Monday, 2 February 2015

FOG Tuesday - Stitch Day

A new warm up exercise for the new year.  Hand stitches are one of the hottest trends in mixed media and other art work. It seems they are being incorporated into everything, whether to add texture to a fibre or mixed media art piece, or onto paper and photos, or in journals and hand made books.

So, in response to requests for some unique, cultural stitches, our monthly FOG sessions will begin with a new hand stitch from another country. It will be fascinating to see where our FOG members take this.

January's stitch is the Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch, aka Braided Chain StitchThis stitch is worked as a reverse chain stitch and is a great stitch for making bold lines of stitching.


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

FOG Goes Heavy into Metal

Our January session was quite productive, so much so that I didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked for this posting.

Our topic was metal – foiling, dry embossing, cutting, colouring, etc.

It’s amazing to see what can be done with product on hand – dare I say that we are all pack rats? One of the favorite items to dry emboss and colour were the inside foil lids from cottage cheese and yogurt containers.

Jan and Karen brought their Big Shot™ and Cuttlebug™ dry embossing and die cutting machines and they both got very major workouts. If it could be run through those machines we did it.

Several interesting products were tried – real metal DUCT tape (not Duck Tape) – this is purchased in a dollar store or hardware store. It is a sticky backed aluminum tape making it great to use on paper products for cards or it seems to be robust enough to apply to fabric and stitched on with long stitches on the sewing machine. It can be coloured with alcohol inks and other alcohol based markers as well as being embossed through the machines.

Chris brought one of the more interesting products called ÉTAL™. However, a quick internet search only turned up an old Etsy listing so perhaps the product is no longer being made. It is a cross between paper and a fibrous material which has some metal content. It dry embossed through both machines very well and could easily be hand or machine stitched. A light rubbing of a colour of some sort over the surface would enhance the dry embossing.

Left: ÉTAL™, Centre:  ÉTAL™ dry embossed,
Right: Con-Tact Brand - Metal FX

Jan brought along a sticky backed roll of Con-Tact® Brand - Metal FX® which cut and dry embossed very well. Jan brought the Stainless Steel version, though it also comes in Copper. This product also coloured nicely with alcohol inks.

Foiling proved to be very popular and is easily and quite inexpensively done. Chris did some foiling on hand dyed silk and I did some foiling on marbled cardstock that I had previously done using the shaving foam method. I think that most of us that did foiling used a type of fusible web such as PellonLite EZ-Steam™, Wonder Under, Heat ‘n Bond™ though there are foiling adhesives on the market also..

Foiling on shaving foam marbled card stock using Pellon Lite EZ-Steam and copper foil.

Foiling on hand dyed silk.

Lastly, Karen dry embossed metal disks that she had found in a scrap yard here in town, proving that no place is too strange to search for mixed media supplies. They coloured well with alcohol inks and will be great additions to any paper or fibre project.

Dry embossed metal disks.

Monday, 5 January 2015

January Arts Club – Take Those Crayons Out of the Box

Our first project for the Calgary Public Library Arts Club this year was a bit of a nostalgic one, for me at any rate. Its funny where inspirations can come from and for me this project was based on a tinted and stitched pillow that my mother-in-law had in her house. From the research that I did online, I believe that it was likely a tinted Vogartembroidery piece, certainly from the 50s, but perhaps before then. From searching on the internet I discovered that some of these pieces had the colour printed onto the fabric, while others may have been coloured with crayons.

I also collect vintage linens and the collage photo below are ones that are of a similar nature to that pillow and the inspiration for the stitching project for the Arts Club.

Vintage tinted embroidery pieces.
As with all of the projects that Jan and I teach, we do prototypes mainly to gauge the time and materials that it will take for the students to complete the project in the limited time that we have and to give them other ideas of where they can take the new stitches that they have learned. The photo collage below shows a couple of the samples that we did as examples. We also provide a kit for each person and for this project the finished item was a card complete with an envelope to mail to a lucky recipient.

Prototypes

We chose the simple owl motif as it was quite small and had interesting areas to colour and to stitch. Prior to the session Jan copied the motif onto the cotton/linen blend fabric using an erasable Frixion pen by Pilot and stitched a decorative border around the piece. Frixionpens are erasable and can also be removed by the heat of an iron.

Frixion lines on left, heat removed on right.
It's a bit difficult to see in these photos as the black threads on the right ghost through the fabric.

We opted to use simple stitches based on a running/straight stitch, though we also showed them how to do a French knot as the owl needed an eye.

To complete one of these for yourself, first colour the using Crayolacrayons and a light hand. Once the colouring is complete, stitch around the motif using a running stitch and two strands of floss. (A back stitch or stem stitch could also be used for a more solid outline). Once all your stitching is completed, lightly press the piece with a hot iron to remove the Frixionpen lines and to heat set the crayon pigment.

The participants were all quite intrigued by the project and had a great time completing them. Their projects are below.

Works in progress.
PS The February Arts Club is on February 7 at the Central Library. Registration is required. We will be doing a mixed media project and all supplies are provided. Register here.

Monday, 15 December 2014

FOG Tuesday Collage Exercise

Well, this is our final Principle of Design in our series of Elements and Principles of Design. We've enjoyed the time spent on these collages over the past months and have learned a lot about design in the process. The Principle was Depth and Space.

Unless we work in 3 dimensions, work on a canvas is only 2 dimensional. We can only convey space and depth with visual cues.

There are a number of ways that you can do this incorporating many of the Element and Principles of Design that we have done over the past months.
Warm Up Collage
Design Principle - Depth and Space
  
The most common ways are:
·        Overlapping objects to suggest depth.
·        Creating shadows.
·        Size of your subject matter, sometimes in conjunction with a known object.
·        Colour can suggest depth, where warm colours appear to advance and cool colours recede.
·        Depth of field. If your object is out of focus it seems that it is further away.
·        Where an object is on your page or canvas. Towards the bottom they will appear larger and smaller towards the top.
·        Use perspective to indicate depth or distance.

Stay tuned in 2015 to a new series of warm up exercises that we will be working on during FOG Tuesdays.