Monday, October 29, 2018

Etched Glass Halloween Plate and Jar

Last week, I cut out a bunch of Halloween shapes in some black vinyl on my Silhouette cutting machine and decorated some ceramic tiles. I had a couple decals left over. They were of jack-o-lantern faces so I knew I wanted to use them as a stencil or resist to make a jack-o-lantern. I knew I had an old jar of Armour Etch floating around in  my craft supplies (I made some candle holders with contact paper a while back), so I decided to etch some glass.

I started by using some painter's tape to transfer my vinyl decal. I tore off two strips and used a plastic dish scraper to burnish the decal to make sure it stuck to the the tape. I just started cutting decals on my cutting machine, so I don't have a proper burnisher/squeegee or transfer tape/paper, but this worked fine for this simple design.

After the design was burnished, I peeled it up and applied it to a cleaned pickle jar.

With the black decal, it's easy to see through the painters tape. I just eyeballed where I wanted the design and stuck it down. I then burnished the design again and carefully peeled the tape back. There were a few bubbles, but since I wasn't going to leave the vinyl on, I just made sure the edges were smoothed down so it wouldn't let any of the etching cream under the vinyl.

It turned out cute enough after just sticking the vinyl on that I am thinking about taking the rest of my jars in the craft stash and putting black decals on them, but for now, I repeated the process with the other decal and the painter's tape to get it ready to apply.

I stuck the other decal onto the center of a glass plate from the dollar store. I smoothed it down along the edges just like the jar to get it ready for the etching cream.

I put on some vinyl gloves, and put some tinfoil down in my sink. It's handy to do the etching in or near the sink as the cream gets rinsed off to stop the acidic reaction (or if you get any on you--rinse with water). So clearing out one side of your sink for rinsing and another for etching would work out perfectly. Tinfoil works pretty well for the working surface since it can be molded to keep any round projects from rolling around and you can toss it when done. I slopped on a layer of the armour etch and left the whole thing for 5 minutes.

After my 5 minute timer went off, I rinsed the cream off and checked on the progress. On my other etching projects, I etched a small design and left the rest of the surface clear, on these, I was covering the jack-o-lantern face to stay clear and etching the rest of the surface, so it was a large area. I knew I was probably going to have to etch twice to catch any areas that might have gotten missed on the first pass.

I also had to etch the back side of the jar, so after they were rinsed and dried, I flipped the jar over and applied another coat of cream to the plate to get any spots that were missed. I was pretty pleased with my second pass, but did end up with a couple of missed spots on the jar that I had to apply a few spots of cream to. My armour etch is starting to get old and a bit lumpy, between that and the large area I was etching, I had some blotchy spots. If you're etching a smaller area and are careful with your application, you can etch with just one pass.

After washing the last of the cream off and drying the jar and plate, I started peeling up the vinyl. The designs came out perfectly crisp with clean lines and no feathering. I was super impressed with how clean they came out. I will definitely try using the vinyl decals cut with a cutting machine for etching in the future.

I ended up with one cute Halloween plate and a little luminary jar. I spray painted my jar lid with oil rubbed bronze spray paint to hide the dancing pickle logo and put a tea light in the jar. The jar would also work great for holding candy. I can't wait to use the plate for goodies on Halloween!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Flamed Alcohol Ink with Vinyl Decals: Decorative Halloween Tiles

If you follow this blog, you know that I'll find just about any excuse to put alcohol ink on something, and lately, I've been really into lighting alcohol ink on fire. It creates such vivid and interesting patterns in the ink. So when I decided to finally dust off my Silhouette Cameo, I opted to make some Halloween tiles with flamed alcohol ink and vinyl decals.

I'm a total beginner when it comes to the Silhouette, but this week I learned how to turn photo files into Silhouette files using the trace option. As long as you pick simple silhouette style (go figure) clip art type photo files, it's super easy, and addicting. So I knew it was also time to learn how to cut vinyl on the darn thing. I bought a roll of black vinyl right after I got the machine, figuring it would be good to have around, but I never used it. Cutting vinyl is actually easier than cutting paper since you don't have to mess with the cutting mat. You just load your media instead of the cutting mat, set it to the vinyl cut settings, and cut your design. It was really easy and gratifying.

After I had cut out my Halloween designs, I got to work creating something pretty to stick my vinyl on. I set up my alcohol ink flaming station for my 6 x 6 ceramic tile with a cork trivet, a cookie sheet covered in tinfoil, and a long handled lighter. Clear away anything flammable from the area and drip ink on the tile.

It's hard to tell from the photo above, but this amount of alcohol ink flamed quite a bit. The flame often burns blue or a very light yellow and is hard to see, so watch the ink moving and drying to see when it stops flaming, you can't always see the flame well. Do not add any more ink until it stops flaming.

Once I was certain it had stopped flaming, I added more drops of ink and lit them on fire.

I decided to try a bit of gold ink to jazz things up. There are more solids suspended in the metallic inks and I learned that they do not flame at all like the regular ink. They bubble and boil and spurt a bit and they burn instead of spread out. So I would not recommend using the metallic inks for flaming.

After I felt good about the alcohol ink, I weeded (that's what it's called when you pick all the little bits of vinyl and paper out of the letters and designs made with a digital cutting machine) my Halloween logo.

Since I'm a beginner, I didn't know to buy transfer paper or tape for the multi-part vinyl decals, so after some research online, I decided to try painter's tape. I laid it down over my design and burnished it with a plastic dish scraper to make sure it stuck to every letter. then I peeled it carefully off the paper backing. It worked great!

Then I flipped my tape over and applied it to my ceramic tile. I burnished each letter again with the plastic dish scraper and then carefully pulled the tape off the tile. The letters stuck and the tape didn't. 

I had a witch and some bats to add to my design. I peeled the bats off and applied them like stickers, but the witch had some little bits that I wanted to peel off more carefully, so I applied some tape to her and burnished the tape over the edges. I should've covered the whole design, but even this little bit of taped helped make it easier to peel off and apply.

When it was done, I had a tile with a decorative orange background and black decals. I turned out great!

I had another decal that I wanted to apply, so I got to work decorating a second tile in purples.

You can just barely make out the flame in the photo above as the ink mixes together.

I continued applying ink and flaming it until I liked the way it looked (a bit after this photo of the tile above in a similar process to the orange one).

My decal for this tile was one piece, so I weeded it and then decided I'd try another type of transfer paper hack I read online--Glad Press and Seal. And while I think this stuff is great for covering leftovers, I do not recommend it for transfer paper. It isn't quite sticky enough, so you have to burnish it a lot to get it to peel up the design, in the process, I tore the plastic and stretched out one little end of my decal. Also, the press and seal left residue on the glossy vinyl. So if you don't have transfer paper, stick with painter's tape.

I did eventually get the decal on the tile, but between the issues with the press and seal and the ink design being a bit too dark to see the decal clearly, I was tempted to throw in the towel.

Instead I got out a little paint brush and a jar. I filled it with a bit of rubbing alcohol and dabbed the rubbing alcohol onto some of the dark areas around the decal and some of the places the ink got a bit dark from flaming. I then used a napkin to dab a bit of the ink off the tile. It was kind of like removing excess watercolor paint from a painting that got too dark.

I removed and dropped alcohol all over the tile until the design looked speckled and much lighter. It's still a bit dark (and busy) to see the vinyl decal clearly, but it looks much better than it did when I first applied it to the tile.

In the end, it was a success. I have two cool looking tiles, and I learned some new skills for using my cutting machine.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Alcohol Ink Pumpkin Gems

A while back I bought some enamel paint with the expressed interest of using it to back alcohol ink glass gems. I tried the white paint first with kind of mixed results (enamel paint backed glass gems). But I also bought black paint, and though I haven't gotten around to trying to back the gems with the enamel paint, I had a lightning bolt idea that it would be fun to use the paint under the alcohol ink. Since Halloween is coming up, I decided to try painting jack-o-lantern faces on the glass gems and then ink over them.

Enamel paint is supposed to stick a bit better when painting glass (which is tricky since the surface is so smooth). So I grabbed a tiny paint brush and painted little jack-o-lantern faces on the gems. They came out a bit sloppier than I would have liked. I used a little round brush, and I might have had some slightly better luck with a stiffer brush, but I did my best. I also grabbed some metallic acrylic paint from my stash and painted some pumpkin lines on some of the gems to see how that worked out.

I let my paint dry over night and then came back with all of my orange alcohol ink and an applicator and some felt.

I put a couple drops each of about 4 different shades of orange onto my felt and covered all of my gems with a base coat. Both the acrylic and enamel paints stayed put.

I continued stamping until the ink started to get a bit tacky and then added some cranberry (a brick red), rust (an orange-y brown), and sunshine yellow to try and create some additional depth with all of the orange.

Then I used some more of my metallic paint and stamped it on some of the gems for added layers. It wasn't terribly noticeable with the alcohol ink, but if you wanted to try this project with just paint, it could be a possibility.

While my pumpkin gems were drying, I grabbed some glue-on bails and some green inks. I stamped the front and tops of the bails to turn them green.

Once the gems dried, I used some foil tape to finish the backs and make them a bit shimmery. I traced each gem with a toothpick (but you could use a pen on the paper backing too). I cut the circle out with a scissors.

Then I stuck the foil sticker onto the back of the gem and smoothed it out with my fingers.

The foil tape seals the backs and makes the gem slightly metallic and completely opaque.

After I put foil tapes on the backs of all the gems, I picked 6 of my favorites to turn into necklaces with green bails and two to put pin backs onto. I used E6000 to glue the bails and the pin backs onto the glass gems.

I let the E6000 glue dry for a couple hours before stringing the pendants onto some faux suede cording.

The jack-o-lantern faces are a bit rustic, but I was really pleased that the concept worked. I can paint designs on the glass gems, let it dry, and then stamp ink over top of it. This opens up the door for lots of different craft possibilities, and I got some cute Halloween jewelry in the process.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Adult Coloring Update 2018


It's been a while since I made a post about adult coloring. The buzz has passed a bit from the activity's height of popularity, but I still enjoy filling in patterns and designs--especially while I'm watching TV. So what's new in the coloring world? Well, you can get coloring books pretty much anywhere now, and the glut of leftovers from the sudden craze of coloring for adults means that you can often find the books at discount stores (or sometimes even on clearance racks). 

When you're finding those bargains, pay attention to more than just the designs available. The thickness of the paper, whether the book will open flat (or nearly flat), how detailed the designs are (and if you have the right kind of markers, pens, or colored pencils to color those teeny tiny designs), and whether the book has designs on both sides of the paper all need to be considered to get a coloring book that you'll use and enjoy.

I've picked up and been gifted several coloring books over the last few years. I look for mandalas and patterns that have repeating designs but aren't too tiny. This seems to be the most relaxing and enjoyable for me. Books that lay flat and have designs on only one side are a bonus, but not a deal breaker for me, but might be for some others.

As for coloring tools, I still recommend the Prismacolor colored pencils as my favorite. They aren't cheap, but often go on sale online. The Premier line are soft and blendable and my favorite colored pencil (and were used on the floral design above). Though they do occasionally break, and because they are soft, it can be hard to color some small designs with them and keep a sharp point. Prismacolor also has a medium softness pencil called the Scholar (the most economical of their sets) and a hard set called Verithins. All of these colored pencils are great in certain situations (depending on the size of the design you're coloring). I also recommend their blender pencils. These nude colored pencils are used to smooth out and blend colors. They work with other brands of colored pencils and can really take your coloring to the next level.

But what's new in my coloring supplies are these (photo above) Sargent Art colored pencils. Sargent Art makes a descent inexpensive basic colored pencil (that's fairly comparable to Crayola which are another great bargain option), but they now have this "Supreme Series" colored pencil. These are my new second favorite colored pencil. They are fairly firm and don't break easily, but make a nice smooth color and blend a bit better than the bargain varieties.

They come in a tin with 72 different colors that has a lift out tray so you can see all of the colors at once if you put the top tray in the lid and set it out next to your coloring book. The packaging works really well.

The quality of these pencils is really good for the price, so I definitely recommend them. My only complaint is that the pencil colors often don't match the colors painted on the pencils themselves and I have to rely on names and the color of the lead. I may have to make a color swatch chart. The mandala below was colored using the Sargent Art Supremes.

So what's the bottom line? If you're new to coloring, buy some inexpensive books with designs that you are drawn to, but make sure they aren't too teeny tiny as that can be frustrating and might turn you off the hobby. Start out with some solid Crayolas or Sargent Art basics to find out if you like coloring and if it's something you'll want to do a lot of. 

If you're hoping to up your game, try out the Prismacolor Scholars or the Sargent Art Supreme series. Both sets are more expensive than the basics, but are smoother and are a nice medium softness that can be used on a wide variety of designs. 

If you're totally sucked in to coloring, it might be time to invest in the whole line of Prismacolors. 

I'm not sponsored by Sargent Art or Prismacolor, they just happen to be my current favorites.

So, did I miss any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments if there's some brand I absolutely should be trying out! And check out the blog's instagram account to see coloring projects as I finish them.