Friday, 12 June 2015

FOG Tuesday - Amazing FAUX

June marked our last session until September and we started out with a very cool embroidery stitch, the DrizzleStitch. It is a 3-D stitch and garnered a lot of laughter while we were stitching. As a 3-D stitch we could see that there were lots of possibilities for its use on fibre art or other mixed media projects where stitching could be used.

Our final projects for the season were both FAUX in nature, the Aleenes Original Tacky Glue brown paper burning technique that emulates metal and the making of faux leather, also with brown paper. The latter conjured up many possibilities especially for those of us who stitch, as the final result was a very robust paper that felt and looked like leather.

More on both techniques….

Aleenes Original Tacky GlueGoogle Burnt Brown Paper for the entire story of when and how this technique came to light. The gist of the technique is to cover brown paper with a generous slather of the tacky glue and then hold it over an open flame. As the glue dries it bubbles and the soot created by the candle flame blackens the entire surface. Make sure to move the paper around so that you do not burn through your paper, though that and burnt edges make for some interesting effects. Buff off the soot and you have this amazing metal look. For more texture, you can move partially dry glue around to create ridges.

Burnt brown paper with a variety of finishes.
Aleene's Original Tacky Glue directly onto MDF. Glue was burned and heavier glue
manipulated for texture. A variety of metallic finished were applied.

A couple of cautions going forward with this technique – work in a well ventilated area, preferably outside and NOT on a windy day. It might also be prudent to have a bottle of water handy if the paper catches on fire.

Necessity is the Mother on Invention
How to combat a windy day in Calgary when trying to keep a candle lit!

The metal look can be further enhanced with Rub and Buff, Lumiere paints, mica powders and DecoArt Metallic Lustre.

We did discover that good old Elmers White glue also worked, though you needed to let it dry as it was more liquid than the tacky glue. Ultimately we felt that we got better soot coverage if both brands of glue were left until virtually dry. Otherwise, you would get soot on the dry areas, and the wet areas would burst and expose more glue, so you had to keep burning the glue until it was dry and sooty. It would really depend on the look you desired for the surface.

We even discovered that the technique worked on non paper surfaces like MDF, canvas, and wood. Brown kraft paper boxes and other shapes are much enhanced by this technique.
Brown kraft paper box with embossed sides.
Burnt brown paper.
Laughing Cow Cheese Box - burnt brown paper, grunge board star, buffed with
DecoArt Metallic Luster in Espresso and painted inside with acrylic paint.

Faux Leather – there are plenty of videos online about this technique and it can be approached from many angles once you understand the basic concept. Again we used brown paper, thick, thin, two layers fused together, card stock weight etc. All will produce a good result and the choice will depend on the end use.

Although some videos suggest the product to use is Ink Refresher by Ranger, others simply used glycerin and water. We certainly would recommend using the glycerin (cheaper and easier!), and not trying to find the Ranger product which is not available in Canada. In a spray bottle mix about 1 tbsp of glycerin with 4 ounces of water and shake. Spray the glycerin water on both sides of the paper, making sure to wet the paper, but not dripping wet. Massage the wet paper gently. Repeat this once again, if necessary, until the paper is darker in colour. Now crumple the paper in your hands. Flatten the paper out again and repeat the process of spraying, massaging and crumpling at least once more, perhaps a couple of times. As you continue to massage and crumple the paper the paper fibres break down creating a very pliable paper with a nice hand, somewhat like fabric. However, do not rub too hard or the paper will start to break down.

You can spray colour on before you start the process or, after each crumpling, rub an ink pad across the texture created by the crumpling. You will likely work on the piece for some time before you have the desired “faux leather” look that you want. To repeat our caution - you can overwork the paper and it may tear, so use a light hand.
Left, after acrylic wax was applied. Right, before.

Another couple of great ideas that you might consider are: running the paper through an embossing machine for added depth and texture. The second idea is to rub an acrylic wax on the finished paper for a leather-like look and feel, and to protect the colour.
Embossed brown paper faux leather.

The final product could be easily stitched by hand or on a machine and would make great journal covers.
Brown paper faux leather. It has a wonderful feel to it when finished.
From all of us at FOG, we hope you have a great summer. I hope to do some random posts over the summer to keep in touch and well return in the fall with another year of FOG Tuesdays.               Meredith and Jan

Monday, 1 June 2015

FOG Tuesday - Fun with Alcohol Inks

Our May session started with Jan showing us a new embroidery stitch, the Double Chain stitch.

Once our stitching was over we started with a demo on alcohol inks by Karen Biko, one of our talented artists in the group.  Karen demonstrated on a variety of surfaces, each having their own qualities for the outcome of the project.
Karen at work.
Karen - work in progress,
Working with alcohol inks, Karen Konjurs up some amazing and Kolourful Kreations. These art pieces are rather serendipitous in nature and she often works on several at a time moving between them to add layers of new colour and texture.
Karen Biko
Another of our talented artists, Terri Heinrich, also works in alcohol inks (and other mediums), but her creations are more realistic. Visit her site to see her unique style.
Terri Heinrich
These are several of the many surfaces that we experimented with:
·         Yupo Paper
·         Terra Skin 
·         Strathmore Palette Paper
·          Glazed Ceramic Tiles
·         Vellum Paper and Transparencies
·         Glossy Photo Paper

Yupo was the favourite paper, retaining the bright colours that alcohol inks are known for.

Terra Skin, the stone paper, has an unusual feel to it – described as “buttery” the inks seemed to melt into the paper and lost their intense colour.

Muted Colours on Terra Skin.
The Strathmore Palette paper retained the colour nicely and the finished product would be a great surface to mono print on or to use as pages in a journal.

The glazed ceramic tiles turned out great, maintaining the brilliant colours of the alcohol inks. They would need to be sealed with a fixative so that they remain permanent on this surface.
Glazed Ceramic Tiles
Glazed Ceramic Tiles

The Vellum paper took the inks nicely, providing a translucent background that you could stamp and heat emboss onto. These would make nice additions to a greeting card. The transparencies worked in a similar nature to the vellum and would be great for layering over other surfaces.

Alcohol inks on patterned vellum paper with
rubber stamped and heat embossed image.
Alcohol inks on heavy weight vellum
with rubber stamped and heat embossed

Lastly, glossy photo paper is an inexpensive way to experiment with some of the techniques we did on the other surfaces. Rubber stamped with an image, and die cut or edge cut with a decorative punch, they would make great greeting cards or additions to your journaling pages.

There are three main brands of alcohol inks that we used:
  • Copic Inks ™ by Copic (their refills give the best value)

All worked equally well, though Copic has the best colour range.

Each brand also sells a blender solution that helps make the colour more transparent, but most of us worked with rubbing alcohol which worked as well as the blender solutions but has a much lower cost.

 Other supplies that are useful:

·         a thin paint brush to draw fine lines to outline areas in your piece
·         a straw to blow the drops of ink to create interesting lines and edges
·         a spray bottle with 90 or 99% rubbing alcohol.

If colour is something that brings joy to your day then give this technique a try. You dont need to be an artist to do it. It will bring back all the “oohs and aahs” you remember from third grade art class.

Remember when working with rubbing alcohol, work in a well ventilated room.

Monday, 27 April 2015

FOG Tuesday - Not Con"fusing" at all...

We started our day as usual with Jan teaching us a new embroidery stitch, this time the Closed Cretan Stitch. We all agreed that it was a pretty stitch and would be very versatile in borders and making leaves. Donna commented that she had always made leaves with a satin stitch and that this would be her new go-to stitch for leaves in the future. It was particularly attractive when embroidered in variegated thread and depending on the length of stitches used on either side of the braided centre line and how close you made the rows of stitches it would have a variety of looks.
Mark making on our layered pieces.
While we were small in numbers, we were huge in enthusiasm when it came to our main FOG Tuesday project.
As always when working with a tool that burns, we had to be mindful of good ventilation and NOT triggering the smoke alarms. In this case it was soldering irons, melting, fusing and mark making  our sandwich layers of stitched acrylic felt, synthetic organza, Angelina© fibres and film, lamé, Lutradur©, Evolon© and other materials that would burn or melt.

Wire wool to clean soldering iron tip.
Remember to have a container with wire wool in it to clean the melted residue off the tip of your soldering iron.

The basic technique was learned from the two books by British textile artist Margaret Beal. You can access two short videos by Margaret on YouTube.
Stitched layers by Jan.

The more layers the better as it gives you more areas to “excavate” your final piece. Once you have all your layers, stitch a pattern on the surface using cotton thread. This is important as you do not want the thread to melt while you are burning out the pattern.

3-D flower "stitched" by Chris.
You can use the tip of the iron to “stitch” layers together as in the case of the green flower made by Chris.

Keep a look out for metal items that can be used as stencils with the soldering iron. The daisy stencil was a decorative insert for a Ball Mason jar and can be found at craft stores. You can see that you can use it for both a positive and negative outcome. You will also need a metal ruler or straight edge and a surface to work on. I used a square of marble; others used a glass cutting board.
Metal items to use as stencils: Ball Mason jar insert, metal drain cover, vintage drill bit measuring tool and draftsman's metal erasing shield.
Fibre layers ready for burning.
I can see this technique finding its way into future textile and mixed media projects.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Arts Club at the Library

The April Arts Club at the Central Library in Calgary proved to be a lot of fun with participants making a funky, woven purse or bag for an iPad. We raided our quilting scrap bags and those of a friend, who was only too happy to get rid of fabric leftovers, often to the chorus of “what was I thinking buying that fabric"?

As always we make a prototype to work out construction and material needs and for our full class the quantities were rather amazing, 400 strips of variable widths for the body of the bag and another 120 strips for the braided strap. These were all torn on grain or cut with a rotary cutter.
Bag with braided handle
Bag with button closure

We started with an 18" x 14" piece of white Roc-Lon© fabric purchased for another project and never used and ironed double sided fusible webbing to one side of the Roc-Lon© stripping away the silicon paper. Most brands of fusible webbing should work.
Fabric Strips

As time is limited at these sessions we opted to sew the foundation warp pieces to one end of the Roc-Lon© and used all tints, tones and shades of blue as the warp.

After a short demo, we let everyone loose to choose strips of coloured fabrics for their weft pieces and start to weave their bag…over, under, over, under… The carefully sorted and piled strips of coloured fabric were soon all askew, somewhat resembling a bird’s nest gone wild.
Once all the weaving was done, they ironed all the pieces to the fusible webbing. This left some squares open where they could be embellished with pieces of ribbon, yarn or torn strips of fabric.

Jan then machine stitched the top and sides of the bag ready for the next step.

Ironing strips to the fusible web.

The next step was to make holes on two sides using my very vintage leather punch on the largest hole to create a hole where a two pieced grommet could be installed.

spiral screw punch could also be used for this step.

The final step was to feed 3 strips of fabric through the grommet on one side and tying a knot on the outside. Once that was done the strips were braided, tying pieces together as needed to make the length of strap they wanted. The 3 strips were finished off the same way as the start, feeding them through the second grommet and tying a knot.

With the base warp of blues, the purses took on a colourful finish with the participants choices of weft fabrics. There was a great amount of laughter in our two hours and I think it was safe to say that we all had a good time.
Colourful Weaving
This would be a great project for a youth group and there would be a number of items that could be fashioned in the same way.
Lots of decoration

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Arts Club at the Library

With Spring in the not-too-distant future, we worked with wire and beads at the March Arts Club to create a small bird’s nest pendant complete with soon-to-hatch eggs. 

Techniques for this pendant abound on the internet and the nests can be made from nearly any gauge of wire, though we chose a slightly larger gauge of 18 or 20. Spools of 20 gauge wire may be found quite inexpensively at most hardware stores. The copper wire is particularly nice for this project. 

We found the small bird charm at Beads and Plenty More here in Calgary. They were the perfect addition to the pendant.

Once all the nest pendants had been finished, each person received an organza and cord necklace to string their pendant for wearing.

If you want to make matching earrings with 1 egg, or 3 small seed bead eggs, then you would likely want to use a finer gauge of wire, perhaps 24 or 26. This finer gauge wire will need to be purchased at a craft or bead shop.

Lastly each person picked a tumbled stone and with an 8” length of 20 gauge copper wire tried their hand at wire wrapping. These too could be worn as a pendant.

Until April Arts Club…

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