Monday, July 30, 2018

Photo Coasters

Last week, I made a quote tile by printing onto tissue paper and decoupaging it onto a ceramic tile. Well, it's my anniversary week and I made a few extra sheets of card stock covered with the tissue I decided to make some photo coasters using old wedding photos.

I cropped my photos to 4 1/4 inches square--the size of my ceramic tiles from Home Depot. and printed them out onto a piece of tissue paper that had been taped over a piece of card stock. Then I set the photos aside to dry.

I cut my photos out while still on the card stock and grabbed my mod podge and a foam brush.

I painted on a thin layer of mod podge and carefully set the tissue paper photos onto the glue. I squared up the bottom edge and then just tapped it into place from the bottom up. Be sure your fingers stay dry because the tissue paper is very fragile and tears easily when it is wet with glue. Then I set the tiles aside to dry for about an hour.

After the glue has set, you can come back over the top with a sealing coat of mod podge. Brush on enough glue so that the brush doesn't drag too much across the printed photos because the ink can smear. Even out the glue and make sure the brush strokes are roughly going the same direction and then set it aside to dry.

I stuck some little felt circles on the back of my tiles, but you could also cut a square of felt and glue it to the back with hot glue or tacky glue. If you plan on using your tiles for very sweaty drinks, you may want to add a coat of outdoor mod podge or acrylic sealer, but regular mod podge seems to hold up well for regular use on coasters (I've made quite a few over the years). If you want a less rustic and slightly wrinkly photo, you could also print your photos out on matte photo paper and decoupage it to the tiles for a crisper look.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Decoupage Quote Tile

A while back I made a decorative tile by printing out a design onto tissue paper and decoupaging it with mod podge onto a ceramic tile. It was mostly a success, so I've been eager to try it again.

I've printed onto tissue paper for decoupaging a few times in the past. It's pretty simple if you have a top-loading inkjet printer. Just tape a piece of tissue paper onto a piece of card stock. Cut the tissue paper a bit bigger than the card stock on all sides. Fold the edges over and start by taping them in the middle of each side (as above), then keep taping until the edges are secure enough that they won't get caught in the printer. Then just set the card stock in your paper feed with the tissue side facing whichever side prints (on mine it's face up) and print your document. It seems to work a bit better when the paper feed tray is empty so that the card stock has room to bend and flex.

Sometimes the printer will have ink on its rollers or on its printer heads that will get caught on the absorbent tissue paper. I was lucky that the little ink smear didn't affect my design, but if it had, just make another tissue paper card stock and run it through again--it's usually cleaner the second time you print. I created my design to print in Word so I could make it exactly 6 inches by 6 inches to fit the ceramic tile. I found a photo on the NASA website and cropped it into a square, and then I put a text box over the photo and added white text. I adjusted the size and type of text until I liked the way it looked. After it prints, let your ink dry for a while. The ink will soak into the tissue paper and make it bubble just a bit. So if your tissue paper on the card stock was a bit wrinkly to start with (like mine was) it will get wet with ink and then smooth out as it dries. Also, the ink jet ink will smear when wet, so let it dry at least an hour or two--but ideally over night.

Once your printer ink is dry, cut your design out carefully with a sharp scissors. Leave the tissue paper attached to the card stock to make the cutting easier. You can also use a rotary cutter on a cutting mat with a straight edge to get a nice clean cut.

Then I put a thin layer of mod podge onto a 6 inch by 6 inch ceramic tile. You can pick these up at most hardware stores for less than a dollar and they can be used for a wide variety of projects.

A thin coat of mod podge will keep wrinkling to a minimum, but some wrinkles are inevitable with tissue paper. I squared up the bottom edge of my tissue paper with the bottom edge of the tile and carefully set it in the glue. Then I quickly and carefully patted the rest of the tissue paper in place from the bottom to the top of the tile. Wet tissue paper is very fragile, so be sure to keep your hands dry as you are applying the tissue paper and don't do much more than pat to get the tissue smoothed down or it will tear. Once it's in place, walk away and let it dry for at least a half an hour.

After the mod podge that glued the tissue paper to the tile has set, you can come back and apply a sealing coat. This is a bit tricky as the ink can smear a bit, so be sure to apply enough glue with your foam brush so that your brush doesn't stick too much to the surface. The ink will smear less if you can sort of glide your glue across the tile. Try to get your brush strokes sort of straight/in the same direction to minimize their appearance after the tile has dried.

Some of the wrinkles and creases in your tissue paper will flatten out a bit as your tile dries, but some will probably remain. If you want to hang your tile on the wall, you can super glue a picture hanger on the back of the tile. If you want to finish the back so you can use it as a large coaster or just so it doesn't scratch a shelf you set it on, you can glue a square of felt to the back with some hot glue or tacky glue. It turned out great, and I can't wait to set it on a shelf at work.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Flamed Alcohol Ink Candle Holders

One of my favorite new ways to apply alcohol ink these days is to light it on fire. You read that right--I light it on fire (if you immediately thought of Beavis and Butthead--then you too might have been a teenager in the 90s). I've done a few projects using this method, so I've worked out most of the kinks, and I'm starting to feel fairly comfortable with the process. Because of this confidence, I decided I could totally flame alcohol ink on rounded surfaces like candle holders--why not? It actually turned out pretty well, but there were a couple minor hiccups.

I chose some small votive candle holders that I picked up for 79 cents a piece at Walmart to give it the curved surfaces thing a go. I set up a cookie sheet with foil on it (mostly to keep ink off of the pan) and then rolled some foil up to make a little cradle for the candle holder to keep it from rolling. I also put a cork trivet under my pan so I could work on the kitchen table. I have also set up on my ceramic stove top with good success in the past. The flames don't get terribly large, and the things you're inking don't get too hot, but be sure to clear your area and take precautions.

Then I dripped ink on the candle holder and set it on fire. Now you're probably thinking--wait....what....that's it? Yep, pretty much. I tried adding rubbing alcohol with an eye dropper to make it light up a bit better and make the ink move more, but on such a curved surface,  the ink just ran off the sides. So I tried just squeezing a little pool of ink on and lighting it up with my long handled lighter right away, and that seemed to work better. The flame sort of stopped the ink from running as much and dried it in place.

Even so, some of the ink ran down the sides, so I did my best to light it on fire--or sometimes just run the flame over it to dry it in place (even if it doesn't visibly flame up, if the ink is wet and you run the flame over it, it will spread a bit and dry up as it does). If ink ran under the candle holder, I did my best to flame the side that was up, waited a few seconds (it doesn't stay very hot, but be careful), then turned it and ran the fire over any ink that was still wet.

In the end, they turned out pretty cool. It's nice to do a drip ink project and have the ink create horizontal lines instead of the usual vertical drops. I stuck with a blue/green color combo for these candle holders and used Mermaid, Sailboat Blue, and Clover. My only surprises with flaming the ink on this rounded surface were that the ink runs too much to get the really good flame up that a pool of ink and rubbing alcohol on a flat surface will get you, but it still works and the result is still pretty cool.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Beginner's Guide to Alcohol Ink Stamping: Multiple Colors and Media

This is part two in my Beginner's Guide to stamping with alcohol inks. If you missed part one, check it out here: Beginner's Guide to Alcohol Ink Stamping: Basics on Ceramic Tile. In part two we'll take a look at some other surfaces you can stamp alcohol ink on and learn a bit about stamping with multiple colors. If you're not sure what these alcohol ink things even are, check out this post: Getting Started with Alcohol Inks.

To get started stamping, you'll need:
An applicator and felt (homemade is fine--last week's post discusses these in more detail)
Parchment paper or a craft mat to keep your work surface clean
Rubbing alcohol for clean up
Stuff to stamp (we'll go through several options, but any glossy flat surface will work to stamp)

My first group of examples to stamp is plastics. In the past, I've stamped milk jug plastic, dominoes, buttons, switch plates, plastic Easter eggs, transparency film, shrink plastic, and these plastic charms. I had some of the plastic charms leftover, so I decided to use those as an illustration of glossy plastic, and I just got some Yupo to try out too. Yupo is plasticized paper with a sort of satin finish. It's kind of expensive, so I cut a sheet in half and just decided to see how the ink behaved on it while I was stamping the charm.

I selected twilight purple and put a generous drop on my felt applicator and stamped on the Yupo to see how it spread out and how the color looked. The color was vivid, but the ink soaked into the paper just a bit, but not quite as much as it does when working with glossy cardstock.

The glossy clear plastic of the charms let the ink spread out in the first stamping, so I kept stamping to try to get it to stipple and create cells.

I covered the whole charm with the purple until the tiny cells started to form. If your ink keeps spreading out and doesn't create the tiny little cells, let it dry for a minute and then start stamping again.

It was pretty boring and plain, so I chose a contrasting ink limeade to break things up.

Since lime green is nearly opposite of purple on the color wheel, it turned brown--but it did break up the purple.

To counter the green/brown, I selected raspberry pink. I stamped the pink randomly over the charm.

Then I picked out sailboat blue and stamped that over the charm before I was finally satisfied with the color combination. If the inks are spreading out more than you like, let them dry for a bit or just keep stamping--as the ink runs out on your felt, it will make smaller and smaller blotches.

I stamped all of the colors on the Yupo to see how they mixed and how they sat on the paper. I still have lots of experimenting to do with that surface to see how to best use it, but it is about as thick as card stock and cuts very easily with a scissors, so it has lots of card making and scrapbook applications.

Next, I tried some glass. I got some memory glass squares and rectangles at Tuesday Morning for super cheap a few years ago, so I thought they'd be nice flat glass examples. I've stamped ink onto lots of glass surfaces over the years (from candle holders to soda bottles to gems and everything in between). The translucent nature of alcohol inks means that they were made for glass. My memory glass rectangle slide was just plain glass, but the square one was "frosted." I also grabbed a large glass gem from my stash. The glass gems are from the floral craft section at Walmart. This time I thought I'd show you different colors being stamped all at once instead of one at a time. I chose the Summit View set (one of my favorites) and watermelon red from the Dockside Picnic set (another favorite).

I stamped all three of my surfaces with felt that had one drop of each of the four colors. I moved the stamp around and stamped until the surfaces were nearly covered. Even though they are all glass, the surfaces all turned out slightly differently when stamped. The regular glass rectangle had very little movement with the ink. It sat on the surface and didn't spread out. The frosted glass spread out just a bit more but still had good cell definition on the colored blotches. The ink on the glass gem just completely smooshed out and the colors ran together.

To get a closer look at the gem, you can see the colors, but they turned all soft and watercolor-y. There's no cell definition like with the glass slides. With some darker colors, this effect can be very pretty, but its a bit too light with these colors. I could have let this dry and then came back to it with the ink again, and after a little bit more stamping, it probably would have gotten cell definition. But instead, I decided to add new colors to all three glass surfaces to see how they behaved.

I grabbed the other two colors from the Dockside picnic set (sailboat blue and citrus green) and put two dots of blue and a dot of green on the clean end of my applicator felt.

On the slide, the colors still didn't spread much, but added more interest.

The frosted one looked pretty good to begin with, and the added colors turned into some rainbow-y fun. This was my favorite of these three glass surfaces to work with.

Then on the gem I added the same colors and you can see that after the base colors had some time to dry, adding new colors (especially after they had already been used on two other projects) created colored cells and contrast.

Using multiple colors at once can save you time when you're inking surfaces, but you lose some control over how colors are going to mix and what they're going to look like--especially if the color or the surface is a new one to you.

The last stamping surface I'm going to show you is metal. I've stamped ink on metal tins and picture frames and flower pots, but the most popular metal project I have stamped ink on are metal washers.

This time I used the Dockside Picnic set of inks, but I swapped out limeade for citrus because the citrus comes off a bit yellow-ish and I wanted more of a green. I dripped one dot of each of the three colors onto my felt and stamped it over the washer to start to cover it. As you can see, it's pretty blotchy. It's not running together or creating cells yet.

So I stamped over the washer again to cover it more. The colors started running together and I didn't get very much definition or stippling. But I did like how the colors looked a bit stripe-y. I decided to work with that and emphasize it a bit.

I put one drop of ink on the clean side of my applicator felt of the red and went back over the red areas of the washer to create some cells of color and to brighten the red up.

Then I grabbed a clean square of felt and put one drop of the blue on the felt and stamped in roughly the areas that had some blue on them already.

Then I came back with the green and filled in any of the gaps or dull areas with fresh green ink.

In the end I had a very vibrant washer. It turned out so well that I'll probably seal it and turn it into a necklace.

So hopefully you've learned a bit about the different types of surfaces you can ink and how to work with multiple colors. Using several colors on your felt can speed up application--especially first coats of color--but you may want to go back in with one or two colors to create definition and contrast. Be careful when inking highly contrasting colors as they can turn brown (green and red are the biggest culprits). Also, each surface will take the ink a little differently, so it takes practice and patience. If your inks are spreading out too much, let them dry for a minute (really, they dry fast) and keep stamping. If your inks are not spreading out as much as you like, you can add blending solution or rubbing alcohol to your felt to get them to spread....but that's a great topic for another tutorial. :)

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Beginner's Guide to Alcohol Ink Stamping: The Basics on Ceramic Tiles

Shortly after I started this blog (5 or 6 years ago now), I got my first set of alcohol inks. Ever since then, I've been inking up all sorts of things. A couple of years ago I even made a Getting Started with Alcohol Inks guide, but I still found that folks had lots of questions about the actual application of the ink. So I'm starting a beginner's series to hopefully answer your questions. I'm starting with ceramic tiles because I think they are the most beginner friendly. 4 x 4 ceramic tiles are cheap (like 15 cents a piece) and the glossy surface takes the ink really well. They also have the added benefit of being pretty easy to clean off with rubbing alcohol if you feel like your project looks terrible and you want to start over.

To start, you'll need:
an applicator and felt (explained below)
parchment paper (not wax paper--the ink bleeds through) or a craft mat to protect your work surface
ceramic tiles
rubbing alcohol for cleaning up

In order to stamp alcohol ink onto a surface, you'll need an applicator. Tim Holtz/Ranger, the producer of the most popular brand of alcohol inks, sells an applicator, but I've also made my own. An alcohol ink applicator is just a small block of wood (mine and the store bought one are about 1 1/2 inches by 1 inch in size) with the hook side of some hook and loop tape attached to it. The store bought applicator has a very thin layer of foam between the block and the Velcro. I have a block where I glued the Velcro straight onto the wood block and one where I glued a layer of thick craft/fun foam between the Velcro and block. I like the one that has the craft foam on it the best--even better than the store bought version. To go with the applicator, you'll also need pieces of felt. The store bought stamper comes with little pieces of felt--you can also buy packs of them (stack on the left). I usually just buy sheets of white acrylic felt from Walmart or Michael's and cut them into squares to use (the pile on the right).

Once you've chosen your applicator, stick a piece of felt onto the Velcro and select your ink color. For the project I'm showing you in this post, I used 4 different shades of turquoise. The first color I chose was "mermaid."

I gently squeezed two drops of the mermaid ink onto the felt and started stamping. On a very slick surface like a ceramic tile, the ink will spread out a bit while it's wet. It doesn't absorb into the tile and the color sits on the surface.

I stamped a row of dots onto my tile and you can see how the ink shapes change slightly.

I then stamped over the existing row with another row of dots.

Then I turned the stamp at an angle and stamped again. And then I turned it and stamped yet again. As the ink begins to dry a bit and as you use up what you've dripped on the felt, the ink dots get smaller and more ragged along the edges. As you stamp over old ink, the new wetter ink interacts with the ink that's been drying and tiny cells or circles are created. As my ink was running out, I stamped one row above to mix with the next color (you'll be able to see it in a photo below).

Then I selected "turquoise" ink. Since I had only put two dots of the other color on the felt, I kept the same felt and turned my applicator around and dripped another couple drops on to the other side of the applicator.

I stamped a row of ink over the leftover mermaid color ink with the turquoise. It was a lot lighter than I expected. How saturated a color is doesn't match the label or bottle at all. Ranger even has a color chart (pdf color chart), but mermaid and turquoise look pretty much the same. You can use their drip it on yourself color chart (pdf of the do it yourself color chart) for better accuracy and to keep track of which colors you have, but even that isn't a perfect system since card stock or paper will suck up the ink differently than ceramic--but it should be pretty close even if there's always a bit of trial and error.

I continued stamping with the turquoise to fill in that row and then continued stamping in the next row up with whatever ink was left on my felt.

I removed my felt rectangle from the Velcro on my applicator and applied a fresh piece. Then I selected "clover" ink and dripped on two drops.

I overlapped the lighter row of turquoise, leaving enough room for another row of ink on the top and stamped my two dots on a few times before stamping a little in the last row of space so the colors would blend.

The last color I selected was "aqua." Aqua is from a pastel set, so I knew it would be on the lighter side. My color variation wasn't quite an ombre, but still turned out pretty with all similar colors. I dripped on two more drops of ink on the side of the felt that was clean and stamped away to finish off the tile.

The color mixing on this tile is pretty subtle since the colors are so similar. If you stamp with a larger variety of ink colors, they will mix and create even more color options--but they often tend to get brown pretty fast if you're not careful, so sticking to similar colors or colors close to each other on the color wheel (like red, pink, purple or blue and green) are good choices for beginner projects.

I think my tile turned out pretty cute using the most basic stamping methods with a single color at a time. This tile can be turned into a coaster (just glue a square of felt to the bottom) or an art piece that you set on a shelf. 

If you like your design, you should seal your alcohol inks. Alcohol ink will react to any liquid alcohol that it comes in contact with even after it's dry. So hairspray, perfume, a cocktail, etc... could all ruin your pieces. The easiest method for sealing a tile is to let the ink dry for a day and then paint a thin coat of mod podge on the tile with a foam brush. Another inexpensive and fairly easy sealer is clear acrylic spray. But these can interact with the alcohol ink, and I've even had some peal off the tile over time (usually when sprayed on a bit thick).

So that's the basics of stamping. It's pretty simple--drip the ink onto the felt and stamp away. After practicing with one color, you can start to drip multiple colors onto the felt. I hope to add another beginner's guide that explores multiple colors and different stamping surfaces in the near future. Until then, let me know what your questions are in the comments!