Monday, July 29, 2019

Reverse Stencil Painted Sign

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a project (a small painted plaque) that I did using my Silhouette cutting machine that I said was a test. Since I'm still learning how to use my cutting machine and everything that it can do, I did a smaller project to test out the methods that I was going to use to make this plaque. My mom gave me this wooden plaque from a craft store and requested that I make her a coffee themed sign. 

I started by giving the plaque a good light sanding. These pine plaques often a bit rough straight from the store, so I prepped the surface a bit.

Then I made a test design in the Silhouette design studio. I found a font I liked and welded the letters, then (after measuring my plaque a couple times) made two sets of words in two sizes that I thought might work. Then I found a cute steaming cup in a Google search that I pasted into the design in 3 different sizes. Then I sent the whole thing to the machine with a sheet of brown scrapbook paper so I could test the layout and sizes. After I was sure I had the right sizes--larger of the fonts, and the middle size for the coffee cups, I cut them out of some black vinyl.

Then I painted my board with some thinned down brown paint. I applied two coats to make sure I got good even coverage without streaks, but I could still see the grain of the wood through the paint. I let that dry for a few hours before I applied the vinyl.

I cut the words and cups out of my vinyl and weeded the designs. It was a pretty simple design, so I mostly just had to pull bits of vinyl off of the centers of some letters. I used a craft knife to pick them out of the smallest letters.

As you can see, I was 100% sure about which coffee cups to use after the paper test, so I still cut out two sizes from the vinyl. After all the words were weeded, I got out some transfer paper

I cut out a piece just long enough, but a bit taller than I needed so that I could position the word along a line on the transfer paper to keep it straight. Then I ran the back of my nail over all of the letters to make sure it was securely stuck to the transfer paper.

I measured the center of plaque and marked the bottom edge with a pencil so I could line the center line of the transfer paper up with the center of the sign. I applied the transfer paper and gave it a good smoothing.

When I was sure the vinyl was stuck, I carefully peeled back the paper. I love this part--the reveal!

I continued applying the rest of my words and the coffee cups in the same manner. I could have used a light colored vinyl on this painted surface and had a nice sign, but I wanted to paint it, so I got the craft paint back out.

I dripped a couple small drops of brown paint into my white paint to get a creamy color and then painted right over the vinyl.

I ended up with two and a half coats as I had a couple areas where the dark paint showed through after drying, so I had to add more white paint.

Once it was completely dry, I distressed the plaque a bit with a piece of sandpaper. I knocked the paint down on all of the edges so the brown paint showed through in a distressed fashion. Then I sanded the top surface so that I could see the vinyl letters (and distress the face of the sign a bit). I then used a vinyl pick to start to peel up the vinyl letters.

These came off fairly easily once I got the pick under an edge. As you can see in the close up photo, the vinyl pulled up pretty cleanly. There were a couple little spots here and there where a bit of white paint bled through, but nothing serious.

When I was finished peeling up the vinyl, I went over the surface with the fine sandpaper again to hide any little dings from peeling up the vinyl. Then I wiped the paint dust off with a wetted paper towel.

After the wooden plaque was clean and dry, I coated it with a couple of layers of glossy mod podge to seal the surface and give a bit of shine to the flat craft paint.

This project had more steps than most of my projects do, so it was nice to know that the design would work (from the paper test) and that the paint would work (from the test plaque). I think it turned out great and I would definitely use this method again for creating medium to large sized signs (it was a bit fiddly for the small one).

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Stamped Alcohol Ink Switch Plate

Earlier this week I posted about making some inked switch plate covers. If you had an eagle eye, you may have noticed that one of the switch plates in some of the completed project photos looked a bit different than the others. There was a rogue stamped switch plate in with the batch. I've made stamped plates before, but I thought I'd share a few photos from making this stamped switch plate.

I used four shades of Ranger's blue inks: Denim, Stonewashed, Sailboat, and Indigo. I used an applicator that I made (though you can purchase pretty much the same thing). It's a little block of wood with a layer of craft foam and then two strips of the hook side of hook and loop tape (Velcro) glued on top. Then you can cut pieces of acrylic felt to size. I dripped a couple drops of each color of ink onto the felt and padded it around the switch plate until it was mostly covered. When the ink is first stamped, it will spread out. As the ink dries, the dots get smaller and smaller.

After the plate was covered, I added a few more drops of ink and picked up the plate to ink the edges and stamped over any spots where the ink was spreading to make them smaller.

After I was happy with the coverage and the pattern, I had a plate with a pretty stamped pattern and a color that had just enough variety to give it a little bit of depth. I sealed this switch plate with spray sealer (a shot of Kamar Varnish to seal the alcohol ink and then a clear acrylic sealer to finish) after it had dried over night and voila--another fun way to cover a switch plate!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Blown Alcohol Ink Switch Plates

A Menard's opened up near our house, so we took a trip over during their opening week celebration to get a free coffee mug and buy a few things. At that trip, I picked up a bag of light switch plates. One of my early posts with alcohol ink was stamping switch plates, I figured it was long past time for a revisit.

This time, instead of stamping, I figured I'd used the blown ink technique. I had a can of air that was just about empty, some rubbing alcohol to thin the ink (in the glass jar with the pipette), some inks, and the switch plate. I got out my craft mats and got started.

For this first switch plate, I wanted to do a mix of one color. So I grabbed all of my non-turquoise blues and got to work. I applied the lightest color--Stonewashed--with some rubbing alcohol and blew it around the tile lightly with my canned air to get a base color.

Then I added Denim on top of Stonewashed (apparently there's a jean-colored theme here). I thinned it out just a bit with a couple drops of the rubbing alcohol and again, gently blew the ink around the switch plate to cover it in ink.

Then I added my last two blues, Sailboat and Indigo. The Indigo is really dark and has a tendency to take over, so I went really easy on it and thinned it out as I worked. The Sailboat is a bit on the aqua side, so I didn't want that to take over either, I layered back in some Denim and Stonewashed to mute the colors a bit. When I was done, I splashed some rubbing alcohol on the plate (not in photo above) to create some tiny bubbles of texture.

After I figured out how to get the ink to move around the tile instead of spray off (barely pull the trigger on the can and move it in circular motions--I'm sure it helped that the can was almost out of ink), the next plates went faster. I selected my colors and thinned them and mixed them around the plate with the air until I liked what it looked like. This switch plate was done with Yellow Sunshine, Orange Sunset, and Raspberry (which is pretty much hot pink).

In this next switch plate, I used Turquoise, Clover, and Purple Twilight. The Purple mixed with the aqua greens and turned blue in places. It was really a cool effect.

For the last one, I was a bit experimental. I wanted to use a lime green and a purple, but they have a tendency to mix together and go brown, so I used a the Turquoise as a sort of buffer and kept adding the Twilight Purple and Wild Plum after I had used the Limeade to make sure it stayed purple on the plate. It was a lot of fun and I felt like it had some neat color combinations when I was done.

After I was satisfied with the look of the switch plates, I let them dry overnight and then I sprayed a light coat of Kamar Varnish over them to set the ink. The Kamar Varnish doesn't react with the alcohol ink (in light coats), but I wanted a sturdier finish since it's something that's going to be regularly touched, so I let it dry a couple hours and then came back with a coat of spray acrylic sealer over top.

I think these turned out so colorful and fun! I can't wait to find places to put them in my house.

Note: Did you see the solid blue stamped one in the photos and think: "Wait, she didn't show how to do that one? Find it here: Stamped Switch Plates

Monday, July 15, 2019

Painted Wooden Quote Plaque

This project is actually a test for a larger plaque (which you will hopefully see on the blog in the next month). I'm still a novice at using my Silhouette, even though I've had the darn thing for quite a while and two newer versions of the machine have come out, so I wanted to make sure that using vinyl decals as a reverse stencil with craft paint would work. If you check out my Silhouette Projects you can follow my progress as I learn about using my cutting machine.

As you can sort of make out on my computer screen, I cut a bunch of different designs when I cut my phrase for this plaque out. I have a bunch of little projects with vinyl in the works right now. I actually ended up cutting this phrase 3 times until I got it the right size for my plaque. 

The plaque that I dug out of my craft stash was a cheap little pine board with beveled edges. It's not entirely square, which is why I had trouble with the size. I measured the plaque, but because it angles on the corners, my design was just a smidge big. I sanded off my little pine plaque with some fine grit sand paper and then painted it with some thinned down brown craft paint. I did two coats of the brown paint to get good coverage while still being able to see the grain of the wood.

After I finally had a design that fit on my plaque, I weeded (picked out the extra vinyl) the decal with a craft knife. The design was pretty tiny, so it was fussy, and I actually pulled a couple of letters apart as I was pulling off the big piece of vinyl. Fortunately, since I cut this design 3 times, I had one cut out that was barely larger that I could pull a couple letters off of. I also had to use one of the bits that I weeded as the punctuation point for my question mark as the design was so small that none of the periods were coming free from the vinyl. So, I learned that small vinyl designs are a bit of a pain.

I used some transfer paper to apply my design after I got it all weeded. I smoothed it onto the letters and then carefully pulled it off of the vinyl backing, then I applied it to my plaque as straightly as I could. I rubbed each letter with the back of my nail to make sure it was stuck to the plaque.

Then I carefully pealed the transfer paper off of the plaque. This is my favorite part of vinyl projects--the reveal!

I was fairly happy with how it transferred onto the plaque, but the black vinyl wasn't a good contrast with the brown. If I had wanted to leave the vinyl on, I could have gone with white vinyl and had a nice looking plaque.

But I was testing reverse stenciling, so I got out my foam brush and some craft paint (I mixed a drop of brown into some white craft paint) and brushed it onto the plaque. I made sure to get all of the nooks and crannies of the plaque and between the letters. I let it dry long enough to clean off my table and mix another batch of off white paint and applied a second coat. Then I let that dry.

Once the paint was completely dry, I used some fine sandpaper to distress the edges of the plaque.

Then I used a vinyl pick to carefully remove the vinyl letters from the plaque. This was a bit tedious. But they all came off--some more easily than others. I did make some little marks near a couple of the letters, but I used a quick swipe of the sandpaper after all the letters were off to help hide my marks.

I used a barely damp paper towel to wipe off any excess paint dust from sanding before covering the plaque in a coat of glossy mod podge to seal it. Craft paint is fairly flat, so the mod podge gave it a nice slightly glossy finish and protects the surface from paint chipping.

In the end, it turned out great. I probably won't ever use vinyl for a quote decal this small again, the letters were a total pain to weed and pull off, but I'm happy that it all turned out in the end and I'm good to go for my larger project.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Flamed Alcohol Ink Metal Tray

This project didn't go quite as expected in a couple of ways, but I wanted to share what I learned so you don't make the same mistakes I did. In the end, the project turned out ok, and I got to light alcohol ink on fire again (it had been a while), which is always fun. 

I found this small metal serving tray at Dollar Tree while I was picking up a few things, and I knew instantly that I wanted to try flaming alcohol ink on it. I cleared off my kitchen table of anything potentially flammable and put down a couple of craft mats (they are Teflon and silicone, so they are heat resistant), then I topped that with a cork trivet, and then lined a small cookie sheet with tinfoil and then placed my metal tray inside the cookie sheet. This may seem like overkill, but I was very glad I had taken precautions.

I squirted ink all over the tray. I started with Raspberry, Sunset Orange, and Purple Twilight inks.

Then I used a pipette to add some rubbing alcohol to thin the ink out. I swirled the ink and rubbing alcohol around the tray a bit by tipping the pan. 

I moved my inks and rubbing alcohol away from the pan and then lit the liquid alcohol and ink mixture on the tray on fire. I am embarrassed by how large the flame got. I should have figured it would be a much larger flame than in previous projects since it was such a large flat surface and there was quite a lot of alcohol on the tray. The picture above is after it died down. I didn't bother taking a photo while the fire was big, because it was more important for me to just watch it. It died down very quickly, but lesson learned--larger projects like this need to be done outside with even more fire precautions--2 foot flames do not belong on the kitchen table.

The flames mixed the ink and I ended up with this red-orange blob of ink with some pretty patterns.

I added more ink to the tray, but this time I didn't add rubbing alcohol at all unless I wanted the ink to spread a great deal. I added ink and lit each pool of ink on fire. I started out with more of the purple ink.

Then I added the last color from the Summit View set: Sunshine Yellow. I used the yellow and more of the orange to try to move the design up the small lip of the tray.

After I felt like I had good coverage with the Raspberry pink and the Summit View set, I added one last color--Turquoise. As I added all of these colors, I lit them on fire to mix and set the ink. The ink alone in these small pools, made small flames (usually an inch or two tall), but be careful to make sure the ink is done flaming (as it can sometimes be nearly clear or blue flames) before adding additional ink or rubbing alcohol.

I let the ink dry for a few hours, and decided to try a new sealing medium. I usually use a spray sealer (like Kamar Varnish and/or and acrylic spray) or Mod Podge, but I had picked up some Americana Triple Thick Glaze and I wanted to try it out. It's a very different consistency than Mod Podge--more like Dimensional Magic or Diamond Glaze--but it's meant to be brushed on. So I squeezed some out and used a foam brush to brush a layer onto the tray. As I finished my coat, I noticed that where the glaze was thinner, it was starting to dry a bit and the foam brush pulled the glaze a bit and left little marks on the surface. I hoped it would level out a bit as it dried, but after letting it dry for a day, it still had a kind of rough surface. I remembered reading that you could add multiple coats, so I put on a second coat--this time being very liberal with my application to make sure it didn't dry out before I had a chance to brush it on evenly. About an hour later--I noticed really large cracks in the glaze. They smoothed out a bit as they dried, but were still visible.

I do think that the Triple Thick Glaze has potential as a sealer for Alcohol Ink. Even though I hadn't let the ink dry over night, it barely reacted with it when it was initially brushed on. The finish is very glossy, so I think with some trial and error, it could be an excellent sealer for washers or other small projects that you want a shiny finish on. If you want to add additional layers, I'd recommend going with very thin coats...and I'm not sure a foam brush is the best choice--a soft paint brush may be a better choice. I've got quite a bit left in the bottle, so I'll definitely be trying the stuff again to try to perfect the application.