Monday, August 31, 2015

Crafting Revisit: Bottle Cap Magnets

The last time I made bottle cap magnets, I sprayed them black. The finished product turned out well but a bit dark, so after my husband's urging, I decided to make another batch of magnets using white spray paint this time. I'm guessing it had something to do with the paper turning a bit transparent when the glue soaked in and the dark background absorbing light instead of reflecting it. At any rate, the white ones turned out even better.

So I sprayed my bottle caps with some white spray paint (cue the riveting photo of spray painting). I like to use a cardboard box to catch the spray. My white spray paint turned out to be a rust corrosion variety (I'm guessing I didn't read the can closely when I bought it), but it turned out fine, a bit textured, but still did the job.

Next I found a bunch of images on the internet that would shrink down to a one inch square or circle so that they could be punched out with a circle punch. Since these are for personal use, I just found whatever images I liked, but if you hope to sell them, you'll need to create your own images. I printed the images onto some matte photo paper and used my 1 inch hole punch to cut them out.

The last time I made these I had problems with the paper circle images curling up when I put the diamond glaze over the top of the image, so I glued the circles down using a different glue (tacky glue worked ok) and waited for it to dry before I put down the glaze. I learned from last time that applying the glaze in a circular motion without lifting the tip of the glue works the best. You end up with far fewer bubbles. Large bubbles can be popped with a toothpick and small bubbles can be tapped out (but they are stubborn). Once everything is bubble free, they can be left to dry. The bottle caps above had been drying for about 8 hours and they were still a bit cloudy.

A few hours later they were much clearer. So allow yourself at least 12 hours of dry time (and longer if it's humid).

Next I applied some 1/4 inch neodymium magnets to the back of my caps with some E6000 glue. I'm sure that hot glue would work for this step too. The magnets are attracted to the back of the caps, so you may have to use a toothpick to move glue once the magnets have squished it out.

After the glue was dry, I hung them up on my fridge. These look so much clearer than the black ones I made, but they coordinate quite well, I now have a huge set of geeky magnets to use for years to come.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Even More Watercolor Tutorials

In my continued efforts to learn how to watercolor paint, I stumbled across The Frugal Crafter's youtube channel. She's a bit overly enthusiastic, but always makes the paintings seem easy, fun, and like anyone can do it (what are you waiting for, just paint, it'll be ok). The Frugal Crafter uses a variety of watercolor paints in her tutorials, but usually the cake variety. I used my Reeves set of creme paints. The first of her tutorials that I tried was this one of some lupines

As I stated in last week's post, I don't watch the videos while I'm painting, so I get my own interpretation of the painting. She used more water and paint on her flower petals than I did. But I liked the sort of uniformity of my little petal blotches as I was painting them. I didn't even realize how different the paintings were until I rewatched the video to post it to the blog. After watching several of the Frugal Crafter tutorials, I realized that some of the differences are probably from the brush. She uses a #10 Round brush on most of her paintings. The largest good round brush I have is a #5, and it's the one I used to paint this painting.

With each of these paintings, I learn a few more techniques for painting watercolors. In the lupine painting I learned about mixing and layering colors in the petals. This painting was fun and quick and made me feel confident as I painted.

This next tutorial is of a 3 color (red, blue, and yellow) sunset scene. I liked the idea of using three simple colors, and who doesn't love a sunset?

It's pretty clear that I painted this one a couple days after watching it. I also had a heck of a time getting the islands and grasses to look anything like what she had in her original painting. I don't know if that's from differences in supplies (paint, brushes, paper) or my lack of skill.

Before I was finished with the painting, I added some red and yellow together to make a more orange sunset, and I liked the way that turned out. This painting was more frustrating, but I did really like painting the sky and reflections.

This one is another flower painting (and one of the Frugal Crafter's earliest tutorials as she paints most of it upside down).

My background turned out pretty intense, but after some playing around, I didn't mind all of the colors. I added some cerulean to the background that the tutorial didn't use.

I ran into some troubles with my petals getting too close together and the colors running. She does warn against this in the video, but I was painting them days later and wasn't careful enough. The tutorial's painting does a much better job with the curve of the petals and the shades and dimension on the flower to make them look more realistic.

These paintings were fun to try, and though they weren't quite as successful as I had hoped, I keep learning new techniques. I also went to the store and bought a few more larger synthetic round brushes to paint with. Hopefully I'll be able to use them in my next paintings.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Refinish Costume Jewelry with Alcohol Ink

After dividing up my grandmother's jewelry, there were several pins and broaches that no one claimed.  This one was left over, and I thought it was kind of cute, but it had a dark spot on the leaf. I figured I could fix it or color over it, so I snagged it and gave it a new home.

I rolled out my craft mat and dug out my alcohol inks. I figured I'd try covering the spot with gold alcohol ink and if that didn't work, I could cover the leaf with a color and no one would notice the dark spot. I dotted some gold ink onto the leaf and smoothed it out as best as I could with a makeup sponge. I noticed that it made the gold finish a little duller/less shiny. So I covered the whole leaf with a thin layer of the gold alcohol ink (a few drops worth) for a uniform look.

I let it dry and the dark spot is completely gone. If you're around a lot of alcohol based liquids, you may want to seal the jewelry with a clear acrylic sealer (or something similar). I left it unsealed and will just have to remember not to put it on until after I have used any hairspray or perfume.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Alcohol Ink Decorated Metal Picture Frame

I stumbled across this metal frame in a box in my basement. It had a little ding in the side from falling off of the shelf it was on, and some scuffs and scratches from general wear and tear, so I decided to decorate it with some alcohol ink. The last time I decorated a photo frame with alcohol ink, it was painted, so I thought this would be nice to try a metal one. Especially since this one was destined for the thrift pile. 

I took apart my frame and set aside the glass and the backing and rolled out my craft mat. I grabbed some bright shades of alcohol ink and dripped the ink onto my applicator. I made one solid pass around the frame and dripped a little more ink on to make another pass. 

When I was satisfied with the texture of the ink, I pulled the felt off of the applicator block and used my finger to push it into the rounded corners. You will get ink on your fingers if you chose to do this. Getting ink on my hands doesn't bother me much as you can usually wipe most of it off with rubbing alcohol, and what doesn't come off will fade pretty quickly. But, if it does bother you, you might want to wear some gloves.

When I was done with all of my color, I used a q-tip soaked in rubbing alcohol to clean the sides of the frame, which I left as plain metal.

After it was dry, I thought it was a great frame for my monarch butterfly photo I took last fall. Remember if you're frame is going someplace other than a high shelf, you may want to spray it with acrylic sealer to protect the alcohol ink. If it's not handled much, though, it should hold up pretty well without it.

Monday, August 10, 2015

More Beginning Watercolor Tutorials

I was unphased after last week's mediocre watercolor paintings, and decided to move forward with my online tutelage. I found a youtube channel, Mr. Otter's Art Studio,  run by a couple of art teachers with some great videos. Most of these videos are geared towards all ages, which means they are good for all skill levels, especially a beginner like me. They also make a point to use inexpensive supplies so anyone can do the projects. Their watercolor projects all use Prang paint sets. Which can be bought for under $5 a set. I painted using my grandma's Reeves paint set that you can pick up at Michael's or online.

As you're looking at my photos and the videos, you may notice some differences between the paintings in the videos and the paintings I create, this is because I watch the videos and then paint without looking at them hours, sometimes days, later. I figured it was a good way to put my own twist on the painting (perhaps I'm deluding myself, but hey, it's art and I figure it should be creative and not a complete copy).

The first tutorial is for another mountain scene with trees in the foreground. This one is a bit simpler than last week's painting. I started out with much darker paint and a different brush (I used a 1/2 inch angle brush), which made it harder for me to get a natural looking line on the buttes and mountains in the background. 

Be sure to let each layer of mountains dry before moving on to the next layer. After it was all dry I painted in my trees.

The second tutorial I tried was this one of a beachy sunset.

At first it seems like these colors are way too bright for a sunset, but it ends up looking pretty cool in the end. You only need the primary colors to make this painting, so any paint set will do the trick.

This tutorial recommends using a black Sharpie to draw the silhouette of the palm trees and distant shoreline. Since my paint set has a pretty nice deep black, I pulled up my big girl pants and used my black paint and a small angle brush to paint the trees and the horizon line. And even though that could have gone wrong in a number of different ways, I think it turned out pretty well and get's deemed "most successful so far."

Happy painting!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Beginning Watercolor Tutorials

If you read last week's post, you know that my grandma recently passed away and that she had taken up drawing and painting in her retirement years. When the family was all together, my mom gave me and my sister what was left of my Grandma's art supplies. So I acquired a bunch of supplies for painting with watercolors. I must admit that I haven't really painted with watercolors much since using those dry Crayola palettes when I was a kid. I never had much luck painting anything with those watercolors beyond stick figures and shapes, so I knew it would be a challenge. In junior high and high school art class, we learned about painting with acrylics and didn't spend any time at all with watercolors, so I was in uncharted territory.

So what do people do when they want to learn how to do something these days? They look on youtube. So the very first watercolor tutorial that came up when I did my google search was the one below of the "Smoky Mountains." After watching the video, the technique seemed pretty easy, so I thought I'd give it a go.

There were already some 5x7ish pieces of watercolor paper taped to some foam board in Grandma's stash, so I used one that was all set up and the brushes that she had tucked in with her paints.

My first stumbling block was that I didn't have the two shades of blue used in the video. I winged it with the cerulean (a blue/green) and the regular (ultramarine) blue and kept going. The next problem was that the brushes grandma had were terrible. They were clearly cheap ones that came with various kits, but I pushed on and finished the painting.

In the end it was pretty rough, but it looked like mountains with trees, sort of. I enjoyed working with the watercolor paints and marvelled at how differently they mixed and could be blended compared to acrylics. It's also very easy to adjust the intensity of colors with water, both on the palette and on the paper.

So after the difficult, but rewarding experience of my first painting, I dug into my art supplies and brought out my acrylic paint brushes. I wanted to keep playing with mixing colors, so I made a simple landscape with a tree. The better paint brushes made a huge difference in my ability to make more detailed lines. 

I know these are pretty basic, but I'm hooked. I can't wait to paint some more. And I hope these show you that you can try out new arts and crafts and that it doesn't have to be perfect the first time. It's a learning process.