Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tutorial: Chalkboard Beads



I received a request for a tutorial on these beads. 

The most critical part of this process is having the right kind of stamp. I designed the stamps because I couldn't find any like what I needed. 

The difference: the negative space of the stamp design needs to be the "solid" portion in your artwork so that it will end up as the raised part on the stamp -- the part that makes the impression. In other words, these stamps are set up in reverse of how most stamps are created. 

The stamps look like this:


The artwork that I had turned into stamps looked like this:


I like the design element to extend into the border area so each element breaks the edge of the frame. 



How to Make the Beads

  1. Roll a sheet of black and impress two stamps. 
  2. Cut each one out leaving an equal amount of space around the edges of the impression that is wider than the border you eventually want to have on the bead.
  3. Cut a third rectangle of clay that is the same size as the two impressed pieces. 
  4. Cut a strip out of that third piece to leave a channel for the stringing cord. (After cutting out the cord channel, the third piece is now actually two separate pieces of clay.)
  5. Place one of the impressed pieces face down on your baking cardboard making note of the "top" edge, if that matters in your design. 
  6. Lay the two channel pieces on top of the impressed piece leaving a channel where you want your stringing cord to run. 
  7. Place the second impressed piece face up on the stack, making sure the "top" of this piece is aligned with the top of the face down piece. 
  8. Gently pat to ensure that the layers are adhered to each other.
  9. Trim all four edges of the bead to make the stack even and smooth on all sides. 
  10. Your channel hole may disappear momentarily, but gently insert an awl or skewer to open the hole and channel up again.
  11. Cure the bead.
  12. After it is cured and cooled, sand it a little to get the roughness off the surface. 
  13. If you want to make the edges of the bead smooth instead of sharp, sand all the edges and corners to give the bead a worn feel.
  14. Use a tiny bit of white acrylic or oil paint to cover the surface very lightly, then wipe most of it off with a very level, light touch. My stamps have fairly shallow impressions so too much paint will overwhelm it and using a hard touch when wiping the paint will probably remove it all. 
  15. After the paint dries, sand the bead again to get any remaining paint off of the high surfaces.

You can also use copper metallic clay and paint it with a mix of turquoise and white to look like copper patina. Two samples are in the photo at top.



There are some of my stamps available in my etsy shop. Just go to etsy and type in Artybecca to find it.

I get my stamps made by www.readystamps.com because I can squeeze a bunch of designs on a 7" x 9" area and then cut them apart.

There are also stamp makers on etsy who will turn your design into a stamp. I have not used them so I can't vouch for any in particular.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Easy and affordable framing recommendation

Photographers and artists -- easy and affordable framing recommendation here...
If you took a photo you really love and want to make a gift of it to family or friend, an easy way is with www.americanframe.com. Upload your high-resolution photo, choose frame and mat(s) and they will put it together for you and ship it off to your recipient. You can choose your paper -- I like the pearl finish. It really makes colors pop.
The framing uses a high quality acrylic instead of glass. You can't tell the difference and there's no worry about breakage. (Note: don't use window cleaner on acrylic; a barely damp cloth is all you need.)
Choose an "Econo" frame if you want to keep the cost really affordable. Costs are usually half or less than what you might pay at Michaels. My house walls are covered with 20+ of my framed artworks that were done at American Frame (some are originals, some are high-quality scans). You can save even more money if you buy metal frames and put them together yourself at home; it's super easy!

ABOUT THE PHOTO BELOW...
My cousin Sarah took this absolutely magical little scene of her children at the park. I think it could be an illustration for a childrens' book. 
I cropped out the top and bottom a bit and a little off the left side to push the kids slightly off-center and create a stronger focal point. I love the way the water turns into the sky at top right and how the tree is reflected in the water so you get a sense of the space even though you can't see it all. Plus the pose really captures the kids' personalities -- the adventurous girl always dives into life and her little brother is a bit more cautious.
I thought it was worthy of proper framing so I asked for the original file (downloads from Facebook are probably not good enough) and she got it just a few days later.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Photo Fishing


As I have mentioned a few times before, I love walking along downtown streets, taking pictures as I go. I might take 200-300 shots in an hour or so. Then I sit in a comfy chair and look through my shots to see what goodies I caught. My favorite subject matter is store windows -- day or night -- because you can see the inside and outside world at the same time.

I was just in Manhattan for a business trip and had several opportunities to snap photos as we walked to dinners and around the hotel on the last morning in town.

Below are some examples of how there can be hidden gems in your pictures. "Zoom in and crop" is how you can take a picture from ho-hum to hmmm!

Each set of pictures shows the original and then the cropped version I made. In some cases I also used Photoshop to boost the color or add a filter.

A random street turns into...


...a story about people and cars in close spaces
A nice pink jacket, but nothing to see here, right?...

...look at the almost abstract hiding in the lower left corner.
I used a filter but can't remember which one -- maybe Paint Daubs.

 


I liked the strong sunlight framing the couple who had been walking in front of me so I snapped a series
and liked the pose below that turned up in one of the shots.
 
 

 
Waiting for the right people to walk into the scene can make a difference.
 
 
 
I snapped a series of about six images as we crossed the street and ...
 
...found this comparison of two relationships in one of them!
 
The solid color clothing doesn't distract from outside scene reflections so you can often get nice details.
 
I cropped the top half of the photo. I boosted the saturation and used the Poster Edges filter in Photoshop.
 
another view. I used the Cutout filter in Photoshop on this one.
 
Occasionally I find my way into a photo...

 
 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Embossing Powders on Polymer Clay


A few weeks ago I bought a heat gun and then last week I saw a video on Instagram in which gold embossing powder was used on calligraphy. These two unrelated events caused two more things to happen: I thought, "Hey! I can use embossing powders because now I have a heat gun." And I headed off Michael's to get some embossing powders.

At first I just got gold and white, and a mixed sample kit of black and silver, along with two Perfect Pearls glue pens (brush and bullets points), and an adhesive applicator with a sponge top.

My initial thought about the embossing powder was, "Yay! Finally, there's a way a way to make bold, opaque metallic lines on a bead. (And, also, now I want to learn modern calligraphy!)

So the first experiments were these:


But then, two more things happened:
1. As I heated the bead while it was mounted on a skewer, I saw the similarity to flameworking.
2. Now that I knew the powders were functioning as I had hoped, I bought more powders: sparkly gold, white, black, bronze, sparkly black, silver, clear, and chunky gold.

I pulled some not-so-good beads out of my stash and used the embossing powders as faux flameworking, though I think the finished products look more like ceramics than glass.

HOW TO:
I put a cured bead on a skewer. The bead had been made on a skewer so the hole was tight enough that the bead didn't slide up and down and then I went to town...

The original bead was mostly turquoise with some gold and yellow on it. I very, very lightly coated the bead with the Perfect Pearls adhesive in a sponge top applicator. I sprinkled a tiny bit of scrap powder all over the bead and hit it with the heat gun on the lower speed.
I have a Black & Decker heat gun with two speeds. The lower speed doesn't blow the powder off if you hold it at a distance and only move closer when the powder starts to melt.

After the first layer of powder is on, you no longer need the glue. If you turn the skewer while heating the bead the surface will be warm enough to make the powder stick.

Next I sprinkled on some white. I sprinkle the powder directly from the container. Put a piece of paper below where you're working to catch any excess and put it back into the container.
Or, if that's too much trouble, dump all your powder "scraps" into one container and use it as the base for your next beads.


More gold.
Sometimes I put layers of clear between the opaque layers to give the illusion of depth.


...and chunky gold...


If you keep the heat in one spot, the powder will begin to break up (a little bit is good but don't over-do it -- the melted powder will flow if you're not careful.)

Keep the bead on the stick a while to let it cool off. But if you get impatient and you touch it while it's still warm and leave a fingerprint, no worries! Just hit it with the heat again and the fingerprint will melt right out.
If you get a few bubbles from air trapped between the layers, wait until the bead cools a little, pat the bubble with your finger, and then melt the fingerprint.

CLEAR EMBOSSING
In the example below I didn't want to cover up the pretty colors underneath so I put the adhesive on the bead and sprinkled it only with clear powder and the chunky gold bits which I had mixed together.





I made a video to show the basic process. You can't see detail but you'll get the idea.
(If you can't view it on your phone, view it on a laptop. I don't know why, but the video that was shot and edited on my phone, cannot now be viewed on my phone when I try to launch it from the blog. Go figure.)



I tested the beads to see how well the finish holds up. I threw the clear one above 
 10 times and there's not a scratch or crack on it. See the video...





Monday, October 31, 2016

Transfer, Paint, Ink Experiments

I've been experimenting with liquid clay, toner transfers (learned from Lorraine Vogel's tutorial), colored pencils, inks, and paint pens. I started working with the paint pens as a way to salvage ugly old clay pieces but this weekend I worked on made-from-scratch pieces.

I created my own designs for the transfers with shapes I had drawn and scanned then arranged in Illustrator. After that I layered, colored, sliced and diced in Photoshop.

Layer 1 -- toner transfers. My transfers came out a little patchy but it won't matter for this purpose.



Layer 2 -- I put a thin layer of liquid clay over the transfer and cured it before using oil-paint pens to draw lines. The layer of clay is critical to keeping your pens in working order. If you draw directly on the transfer layer, the slight bit of tackiness of the transfer seems to gum up the works.

The "extra fine" point Sharpie pens make the nicest lines. I also tried the relatively cheap CraftSmart brand at Michael's and a more expensive Sakura pen but the Sharpies work well and don't remain gummy after I do the final spray of PYMII. The CraftSmart pens stayed a little tacky so I don't recommend for this purpose but they could be pretty decent for other uses.

The pic of the four pieces were done with the Extra Fine point; the fish was done with the Fine Point which is actually fairly thick).

I put a thin layer of liquid clay over the ink lines once they were dry and cured the pieces.


Layer 3 -- I started shading with colored pencils but they didn't like the liquid clay surface. So I pulled out my favorite ballpoint pens, Ink Joy by PaperMate, and started shading. I shaded as though light was coming from above to give the pieces a bit of 3D effect. After coloring I put another layer of liquid clay on the surface and cured it.



I discovered the purple pen bleeds. I had to touch up the white lines on the tall skinny spike before going further. The orange pen bleeds a bit also so I touched it up too.



Layer 4 -- I glued a clutch pin back on the back of each piece. I covered the backs with a full sheet of a coordinating color that I wrapped around the edges and trimmed flush. I covered the front surface with another layer of liquid clay before curing. The last liquid faded the white somewhat so I revived it with a white pen. When the piece was dry, I gave it a spray of PYMII to protect the last white lines.





Friday, March 4, 2016

New York City "Photo Fishing"

When I'm in a city environment with my camera phone, I turn it on and click-click-click as I walk along the street. I usually use the "cartoonify" filter on my Samsung Galaxy Note because I love the faux screen-print look it gives.

I take several hundred pictures and then go through them to see what I "caught" just like a fisherman dragging his line in the water.

Sometimes it's just a little section of the picture that I like and I blow it up. For example, this:



came from a small section of this:


Then I take the photos into Photoshop and mess with the colors and exposure, crop in to capture the interesting parts, and apply various filters and effects to the pics to "dirty 'em up." I am in loooove with the poster edges filter.

Manhattan 3/3/16
Military Mini

I often take pictures of windows because reflections can introduce collage-like visual textures in the image.
This is my favorite of the bunch.
I call it an "in-camera collage" because it's got so much goin' on!

This looks like Beatle shoes crossing the street. Abbey Road from a different angle?

Manhole

Waiting to cross

Morning Trudgery

The Lunch Date

Classic

Lady and Little Dog

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