Monday, 30 June 2014

Glue Sheets - The Cheat Version!

I've been intrigued by the glue sheets designed for cutting in shapes and glittering.  Just because I don't have any. I know, I'm contrary!  Neither am I likely to buy any by the time shipping is factored in, it gets expensive but I did want to play with some.

So on went the thinking cap and my brain started whirring.
I have re-positionable, clear, sticky back plastic. Bought in a local chinese shop (we have them all over the place here) and very cheap. I have spray mount. I have glitter, including flocked glitter and of course I have my Cameo to cut it out with. So all I really needed was something to put over the spray mount side so I could put it through my Cameo. Enter some baking parchment.

So, all I did was cut a piece of SBP, and a strip of baking parchment the same size. I sprayed  THE PLASTIC side of the SBP with spray mount, let it dry for a minute, then applied the baking parchment over that and smoothed it down. I stuck it on my cutting mat and just to make sure, used normal sticky tape to adhere some of the edges. (Sequence- SBP - backing down, then the parchment on top.

I cut it on card setting, but with the blade on 3 and it was fine.

Then, I put glitter on the spray mount side and brushed off the excess. This left me just to peel off the backing from the SBP and put it on something. You can see what it came out like here.

NOTE not all transparent SBP is removable but mine is. That means I can take it off when I get tired of it. If you are buying some, make sure it says it can be removed.

 The effect is really nice, they look as if they were painted on!

So yes, this works really well and is great if you are not going to do enough of it to warrant buying the real stuff. Or if you can't afford to!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Some Great Sites to Learn From or Buy From (not sponsored)

Just let me start by saying that none of these sponsor me (some will not even know of my existence!)
Some are not craft related or only indirectly but they are all sites or channels that I think are worth looking at for various reasons. I will not necessarily have bought from them, just found them as a resource.

Goss Makeup Artist  Is one I recently discovered when browsing for info on airbrushing would you believe!  Wayne is a talented makeup artist who shares tutorials in order to teach the public how to get the best results from makeup.  He's not pushing a brand, is honest about what he thinks of a product and gives professional tips on new methods and money saving in the cosmetic field.  Everything from eye makeup for hooded eyes (got those) to bridal looks. Seems like a really nice guy and posts new stuff very regularly.

Air brush artist  Ryan comes from a family of airbrush artists, a very talented guy who has learned his craft from an early age, growing up surrounded by paints.  He has a very calm demeanour , is great  to watch and explains things clearly. I hope to learn a lot when I get my hands on my airbrush (not long to go now!)

Doodling Debbie  What can I say?  Debbie is the first Silhouette Studio video maker that I found when I got my Cameo and the founder of the Silhouette Plus forum. Debbie also has a blog, linked from her channel. Not affiliated to Silhouette, just uses the software.

Cleversomeday  Is clever all the time!  Master classes particularly in Tracing function for the Silhouette Studio software. Also expert in other graphics software. She rocks!

Realistic Art  Ross is a brilliant artist, not just in painting but in jewellery making too. Love his work and he is generous in his tutorials. Great use of colour and form.

supplies (for cutting)  A UK site that sells all sorts of transfer mediums, like Glitterflex for making Tshirts and stuff. I have not yet bought from them but they seem to have a great range.

Inkjet supplies in USA  This company appears to have everything you could want that you would put through your printer, including waterslide  transfer paper and static cling for windows.

Machine Embroidery Supplies  This one I have purchased from, great company and you'd be amazed at how much thread you can get for very little money. Quality stuff too, since they supply businesses as well as individuals.

Well that's just a few, hope you check some of them out and enjoy!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Silhouette Studio V3.0.531 Discussion (Software for Silhouette Cameo cutter)

I put the explanation in brackets, since this  blog is not only about cutting with the Cameo and some people who stumble on here may be confused!

So this version has been around for a while now. How are you getting on with it?  How does it compare to any other software you are using?

For my part, I'm getting on with it pretty well. I'm disappointed that my printer/scanner/Mac combo does not play with the Scan to Studio feature though. That would be useful. Maybe it is a Mac problem, I have no idea but it just won't recognise that there is a scanner there. Something to do with twain drivers I think.

Some people are finding issues with the print and cut. My problem with those has been with shiny papers. It does appear to be more sensitive to those but how that is, is puzzling. In my case, cutting them in a weaker light to avoid glare is better. Strange when usually more light is needed for print and cuts!

The main issue I have had, is chads. Those annoying, hanging bits that you are either trying to weed out or are keeping your cut from being perfect.

However, in general, the software is an improvement. I love the nesting feature, the layers and the cut by line or object colour. I can pretty much design what I want in Studio, which is not bad considering I have only been cutting less than a year. Admittedly, I do have previous graphics experience but this software is easy to learn.

What do I hate?  Not being able to save to SVG. I have other uses for the files I create and it would be great to save in that format.

So what are your thoughts?

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Making Transparent Labels /Sentiments with Metallic Lettering

I have often wished my printer could print gold or silver. Heaven knows, for the cost of cartridges, they ought to flow with precious metals!
Unless you are very lucky though, it isn't possible. So, is there a way of making labels like the professionals I wondered.

Today, I had an idea and just had to try it out. I had bought some sheets of self adhesive, transparent, printable, label paper, but in fact, you could use cheap, sticky back plastic to do this (I would have but forgot about that, at the time!)

Cut your design, in reverse on THE BACKING PAPER side, using vinyl setting on the Cameo. Your settings may be different depending on what you are using but the idea is to cut the pattern out of the backing only, not to go all the way through to the mat.
Like this..

Now, weed it. Take your time, not like me. I forgot about the holes in the letters!

Now I was being in a hurry, so instead of using metallic acrylic paint, I used shimmer eyeshadows to colour in the letters. If using paint, let it dry before the next step.

Once coloured, spray this side with adhesive (since the paint or shadow won't be sticking to whatever you put it on otherwise.)

The only thing to do now, is remove the backing and stick the design on whatever you want. 

Like this..

Now I agree, that mine is a bit of a mess, because frankly, I was in too much of a hurry to see if the idea worked. However, it obviously does, so Metallic labels, here I come!

If you are feeling more adventurous, you could even try layering colours but for a project as small as this, I wasn't about to try that!

Here is another one,  I put it on a drawer first of all but now I have moved it to my Cameo, where it looks quite at home!


Incase you are wondering why you can't just stencil onto your object and when dry cover it with sticky back plastic - of course you can IF you are doing something like this container. However, you could not do that to say, a ready made card that you wanted to add a sentiment to, as the stencil glue could ruin your project.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Making the Most of Your Bottled Paints

This is a very short post today but none the less important.
Us crafters have to save money where we can and while some waste is inevitable, too much is not good!
I have a few small bottles of Acrylic paints, general use ones that I dip into now and again. (Will be using them more once I get my airbrush!)

Various brands and varying viscosity. Therein lies the problem. I noticed that not only are they sometimes quite thick but that sometimes the pigment separates.
Now, with acrylics, you can thin with water but that is of no use if, after shaking it like a lunatic for several minutes, the water is still on top and the paint on the bottom.
Enter the solution.

Ball bearings. They must be stainless steel though, and if, like me you get them loose from a bicycle shop (enterprising, hmmm?) it is a good idea to give them a wipe in a paper towel to clean off any grease. Add a couple to each bottle, top up with water if needed and shake to mix.  Many will realise how effective this is, from using bottles of nail polish with the same system. 
While you are at it, clean away any crusted paint from the bottle neck and lids. If it is stubborn, use some nail polish remover. Don't use alcohol, it makes acrylic go like chewing gum!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Easy Daisy (with file)

After doing some autumn leaves yesterday, today I decided to make a typically summer flower, a daisy.  This one is really big, about 4 and a half inches across. This is to make it easier for children to make because it really is that easy!

You can find the file here.

The petals are cut out with the Cameo and stuck onto a round base after being curled slightly with the aid of a thin pencil. The first two rows are simply offset, the rest are gradually placed nearer the centre.  When all the petals are in place, I sprayed them with my home made mists. The big yellow middle is just a bit of a cotton wool ball, glued in place.  (I sprayed it yellow and orange first). 
The whole thing only took about 10 minutes after cutting.

Adults could of course, make them smaller and with fancy papers or a little more panache!
Here is a petal, after shaping.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Autumnal (Fall) Leaves Tutorial - Step by Step (Embellishments)

I may be a bit far ahead of myself but we all know how the seasons seem to race in once summer is here! One thing I miss from the UK, is the lovely colour of autumn leaves and walking through them when they are on the ground.  OK, sometimes they were a soggy mess but if you were lucky you got to walk through dry, crackly leaves and children ran through them, kicking them up.

Anyhow, I thought it would be nice to do a tutorial on making fake ones. They make great embellishments for cards or even an autumn wedding table.  If you don't have Inktense, just use normal water colours (or acrylic paints watered down). Make the leaf damp and drop colour in and allow it to spread. I could spend hours doing these, it's very relaxing!

For these, I am using a sheet of embroidery stabiliser available here
It is cheap, tough, cuts well and takes colour easily. I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out a load of maple leaves - I think the shape was a freebie from  somewhere. If you haven't got it, a quick search on the internet should find something you can use. It was only an outline, no detail.  If you want, find a photo to use as a guide for colours too.
In this instance I am going to use  water colour pencils read about them here, a water brush, some water in a spray bottle, a cosmetic sponge, some pens and a cheap art brush.

The first step is to put your leaf on a plastic mat or other surface that you can wipe down. Choose your colours and randomly pencil over your leaf, mixing areas of light with dark.
Using the water brush lightly go over the leaf to make it damp. Use the artist brush to move the colours a bit more.
If your colours still need more mixing, spray lightly with water and use the cosmetic sponge to get the desired effect.

Allow to dry, or blast with a hairdryer (I keep a small travel one for art purposes!)  Make sure it is really dry before using a brown pen to add veins. I highlighted mine with a gold pen too.
OK, now take a deep breath and take the leaf in your hand and crush it. Open your hand and unfold the leaf. It should now look much better!
The veins have come out much stronger in the photo than they really are. If you want to, you can spray with gold flecked hair spray to add a little sparkle.
So go on, cut out a few leaves and have some fun. Practice with different colours and shapes, different paints. You'll soon have a large stash of leaves to use on your projects, be it for cards or your scrapbook!

View video tutorial here

EDIT 5th Oct 2014

Here is a card I made using them

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Make Your Own Transfers

My time has been taken up with making cards over the last couple of days but now that my friend has gone back home and I have been good and cleaned up, I decided I was entitled to some play time.

Of course, for me, this means craft room fun. There was an idea that had been simmering in my head for a while, I can't remember where I saw it.  Making your own transfers. I seemed to remember it involved spray hair gel and projector film, neither of which I happen to have. Hmm. What to use instead?

Well, the film could be replaced by cutting up one of those acetate paper sleeves and ah! I do have some liquid hair gel but not the spray kind. I don't often do anything with my hair, so it wouldn't be missed!  I had a failed attempt at watering it down to spray but it needed to be so thin that it may as well have been water, so that was not a good idea. It would have to be either wiped on with a cloth or brushed on very thinly. I settled for the latter.  I also tried just using hairspray but that didn't quite do it.  Note - printer ink does not adhere to the acetate unless it is coated...I tried that too!

The side you put the gel on is the one you print on so I was sure to mark it just in case! I used normal print setting to see what would happen. Literally, all I did was to print a design, turn it over, place it on paper and rub the back  with a plastic scraper.

It worked. The image was transferred. Now you may wonder what on earth you would want to bother for, so I shall tell you.  Quite often I make cards with 3D things on them ( for future use) but have no idea what sentiment I need. Since they are cut out and decorated, I can no longer put them through the printer to add a sentiment and I don't always want to add a stick on.  This gives a printed look that I want. One caution - if using for sentiments, don't forget to flip the wording before printing.

Now - if you follow the steps above, you can also make temporary tattoos.  Once printed, cut a piece of sticky backed clear plastic and lay it over the  ink. Rub well, making sure there are no air bubbles.

Lift the plastic and apply to the skin, hold a wet cloth over it for a minute and peel off. Allow to air dry or whiz a dryer over it. Spray with hair spray to set it.  It won't be waterproof but would last for a party!

Disclaimer - don't use if you have very sensitive skin and never on broken  skin. Like hair dyes, ink and other chemicals can cause reactions. Try at your own risk!

Monday, 16 June 2014

A Couple of Cards from the Same Base

Sorry for lack of posts, I have been somewhat busy with guests and a theatre appearance! (Don't ask!)

Still have guests but at least the theatre bit is done. From feeling as though I could have a heart attack on stage, I get the the idea that it will not be repeated in a hurry!

Anyhow, I have a friend staying who wanted to try her hand at making some cards. We started out with a simple base, the same for both, but the cards are totally different.

One has a ballet theme, the other is an anniversary one.

They are both made with the same card stock, only in the second photo it has not come out so well.
The dancer is cut twice, once in card and then in glitter paper. The hearts are cut in gold and yellow card with gold glitter paper filagree glued on. (Spray glue is my best friend!)

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Customise Your T Shirts the Easy Way! Rhinestones

Living in Spain, I have got used to sparkly things everywhere. Maybe it is the sunshine, more or less 335 days of it a year. Maybe it is just the natural exuberance  of the people but they do love their bling.

Stuff that would seem outrageous in the UK is perfectly all right here. Anyhow, I have a friend staying and we decided to have a bit of fun with a plain white T shirt.

I didn't really have the time to put too much effort into the design but wanted something to fit around a scooped neckline.  This is what we ended up with. I did remove a few circles as they overlapped.
If it looks complicated, I can assure you it wasn't.  The necessary tools were in my Silhouette software already!  Would you believe this is a FONT? Yup, it is actually from Naive Ornaments font available here.  Most of it was just one character, stretched to fit, I then manually added 5 single crystals on either side.

If you are wondering what I use to cut out my rhinestone pattern, I'll tell you. A simple piece of card, cheap and unwanted. I covered this with some clear sticky backed plastic before cutting, simply to help preserve the card template. I stuck it to another piece as backing, spray adhesive on the back of the cut template, not the baking card - you don't want to stick the stones on it!  Tip -  back with a different colour, that way any missing rhinestones will stand out! 
  The stones were brushed in, larger ones first. I used another piece of sticky backed plastic to transfer the design to the T shirt. To iron it on, I used the cotton setting with a piece of very thin embroidery backing as protection. The sticky back plastic ends up melting on to the backing, leaving a clean, decorated shirt.  Best results are made by ironing on a firm surface and when finished, applying the iron again, to the inside this time.
The brush is a DIY paint pad, one of the mini ones. One day I shall get around to bending the handle to make it easier to use...
So, no special materials, apart from the rhinestones!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Watercolours, What I Use, Stuff to Get You or Youngsters Started

Let me start by saying that I am not affiliated to any company, have not had any free supplies or anything like that.

I have drawn for as long as I can remember and painted, on and off for many years.  Do you remember art sessions at school? I do. Much as I loved art, the lessons were usually  horrible. From the cheap rolls of terrible paper to the mud coloured powdered paint and the insistence of a particular subject, everything about art lessons was enough to put most kids off. I just suffered them and did what I wanted at home! I swear that our art teacher must have been using the good stuff because the pupils certainly weren't.

Well, today it is a different story, I choose my materials and what and how I paint. But what of those who for example have children who are showing an interest but have no idea themselves? Normally, I would suggest going to a store and looking but the array of products is eye watering.  Asking staff may mean they just don't know or almost worse, just try to sell you more expensive items than you need.

The most expensive item for a watercolorist is most likely to be the paper. While you may not want really expensive stuff if a child is going to do 10 paintings a day, you do still need water colour paper to absorb all that liquid. Go for what you can afford and work up from there! Most art/ craft stores have a range of brushes. Unless painting on a large scale,
something like these 3 will do. A fine 'rigger' for fine lines and detail, a flat one for flat washes and a general purpose one.

Everyone has their own preference for paints, some like blocks and some like tubes. I'm mainly a tube girl, but there are other alternatives. I'll show you in my videoWatercolours.

Watercolour kit is easily transportable and takes very little space. In fact, with some of the supplies in the video, you could even put it in hand luggage and fly!  Don't see you being able to do that with oils!
Basic kit is also cheap. If adults tried to paint with the stuff commonly sold for children, many would have a hard time producing decent results, so why expect children to do better?  Young people need to be encouraged to create, not put off. Having said that, if there is no talent or interest, not even the most expensive paints will make it better. Student quality paints from a known manufacturer are fine. If you are not intending to hang on to the art work, cheap, unknown brands may well be ok. They may not have the strength of pigment or staying power but will still  be adequate if you are pushed for cash.

Part of watercolour is mixing your own colours, so you don't have to buy lots of tubes, the primary colours of red, yellow and blue, will do most things. 
Palettes of paints can be great but often I find them too hard - wearing on the brushes and harder to mix but that may just be me!

So have a look at the video and see what you think, I hope it inspires you to have a go or at least get some kit for someone else to!

Friday, 6 June 2014

Craft Tools Video

I thought I'd try to make an actual video of some of the things I use in my craft room. This is only a small selection but you may find it interesting. Everyone has their own favourite things, mine are often things not associated with crafting at all!
Any comments would be welcome, I have not made a photographic video for a very long time and had no idea of settings, or indeed, how to process it!  In the end I used VLC, normally used for playing back films and TV, to get it 'streamed' for Youtube.

Now that I think I know what I'm doing, I'll be posting more videos of different craft ideas and methods !

On the subject of tips, silicone mats and glitter. Don't use a silicone mat with glitter and expect to be able to catch the excess afterwards! It has great clingy properties and the only method for removing it is to wash it off. Even then, some will remain! My mat looks really pretty...

See Video here

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Holiday activities

Much as we would like to think otherwise, children can be hard to entertain, especially if you are under a tight budget and the weather is wet and cold!

Since you are crafters though, you have an advantage. There are few children who don't enjoy making things especially if an electronic tool is used..

I remember playing with cut out shapes as a kid, painstakingly cut out by hand from cereal boxes. This is a more modern version, made easier by a cutting machine, although if you have to, you could do it the old way, it gets tedious rather fast. See the Tutorial here to see what I mean.

With a little imagination you could incorporate not only different geometric shapes but things like animals too. You do need to cut quite a few, so I would recommend either coloured card or let kids loose with markers later. You can vary the sizes and vary the angles of the slots too.  If you are very particular you can make these very precisely - I just eyeballed the demo one.

Make some simple stencils for the children to use - provide cheap paints and sponges to apply them. Don't forget to spread lots of protective paper around too, and use old clothes as coverups! If it is age appropriate, they love to sprinkle glitter on it all too. Expect to find glitter everywhere though for at least 6 months.

Make your own version of photo cubes out of card.  Make a cube box from your favourite design. Add squares of acetate to the sides, glueing only 3 edges on each. Trim your photos/drawings to fit and slide in.

For children learning to tell the time, make wristwatches out of paper or a clock out of card. The clock can have moving hands if you use a brad to hold them in place.

Remember those sewing kits which were just card shapes with holes to thread? Why not make your own? You can use pictures from magazines or comics, stuck on card and use the Rhinestone feature if you have it to cut the holes out.

Paper beads are easy with a cutter, accurately cut to the same size and so fast! Use old papers or scraps that are hanging around in your stash.

Encourage your children and grandchildren to craft, and you will not have dull days! I have yet to meet a child that did not originally like paint and glue, paper and card, scraps of fabric, old buttons.

Older children can, by the way, make buttons very easily from polymer clay. I made some ages ago and put one on a homemade case for my iPad, it is still just fine!

Older children may like to try salt dough modelling. It is very cheap to make the dough but requires long hours of slow baking or some very dry, hot weather  to bake it solid. Once finished it can be painted and sealed with varnish.

So have a go at removing the youngsters from their gadgets and challenge them to see what they can do, it may surprise them more than it does you!

Plastic Bag Closures

There was a time ages ago, when bread bags and such were closed with a little sort of clip thing which was easy to use over and over again.  Now I don't buy much bread as I bake my own but they use wire wraps which, to me are a pain.

The answer is to make your own of the other type, either from acetate or card, the choice is yours.

Here is how it is done in Studio - so easy and you can vary the shape, size and colour!
The 'subtract' is under the modify page, as is the weld.
For some reason, you need to fill the basic shape with colour for these steps to work, I tried it without and the results were different when I tried to modify it. The key shape is left unfilled.

You can make a lot from just one sheet. Larger versions could be used at parties for putting on glass stems as identifiers.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Lace Style Sticky Tape

Anyone who crafts knows that tape is an essential. Sticky tape is now available in lots of different types but one I have recently found, is 'lace' patterned tape. A clear tape with white print on it in various patterns. Great for adding a little decoration to all sorts of things.
Here you can see some that I have bought. It is not easy though, to always see what the design is on the reel.

 I decided to  to stick samples on black card, in this case and old box, so that I could easily see the patterns. I then put a coloured tape down one side, adding numbers to the samples and then to the inside of each corresponding reel. Problem solved.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Metallic Gift Tags - Simple Technique

I love the tapes in my craft room. I have black, purple, red, yellow, blue and a silver metal tape. All of them were from the DIY store but hubby does not know about them and doesn't get to play with them. They're mine, all mine!

Anyhow, the silver one is the subject today. A sort of embossing tutorial. With the help of my Cameo of course! (Any excuse to use it will do!)

So, I made a gift tag stencil as a base. Cut the stencil out of a document holder - it's one of those things meant to protect a sheet of paper, made from acetate and dirt cheap. Cuts on Stencil setting, blade at 3 or 4.  It cuts really well too.

Then I cut the shape only from a piece of card with a piece of my tape stuck on to that. I used an embossing tool with the stencil on the REVERSE side, putting the card onto a piece of craft foam to work on. I decided to add more dots manually afterwards. To finish off, you could back it with another cut out tag to tidy it up and make it easy to write a message on the back.

It isn't easy to get a good pic because of the light bouncing off of it. The same technique would make great fake jewellery or buckles for fancy dress or theatre costumes. I should probably have used a different font, this one was a bit too light but hey you live and learn!  All I need do now is find some gold tape....:)