Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Box with Dividers- Handy Storage

I'm not a total neat freak, far from it, but it annoys me if I can't lay my hands on what I want, when I want it. So I do tend to use containers to stash craft stuff, so that if it is in a drawer, I can take it out or at least see what I've got.
This container was annoying me. The bottles kept falling over. So I set to work to make a solution and came up with dividers like this
so that I could get this..
A big improvement but then I decided to go the whole hog and make a box base anyway.
I thought it would make a good kid's project for the holidays, if they are allowed to airbrush it makes an ideal practice piece, if they have not got access to one, they can paint or draw on it or use homemade spray inks.  Use stencils if you want. Once the box is decorated, use double sided tape on the tabs and make the box.
Here are some of my own spray inks, in their new home!

You can get the cut files here. The box is 12 x12cm and there are two divider sizes, 3 and 4 cm respectively.  Don't forget, you can always resize these files to make them bigger or smaller.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Background Stencils Tutorial

Good morning!

Today I have made a new Background Stencil Video  to show you how easy it is to create them with Silhouette Studio V3.0531.DE

I've made a freebie  file for you too  for you to play around with.

I'd like to say 'Hello' to any friends from the Airbrush Tutor forum - I know that there may be some of you who are looking to get a plotter - my youtube channel has lots of videos that show how the Silhouette Studio software for the Cameo and Portrait works. Not suitable for everyone and the major drawback is that files created in it can only be saved in their format (the most irritating, stupid thing about it) but  a cheap alternative to business plotters for those who don't need one AND  the basic software is free (Designer Edition isn't) AND is Mac friendly!

There are a few videos there on creating stencils.

There is also a great site  that lets you upload photos and get 3layer stencils from them. Don't forget, you could upload lettering to use in it too!

Storing stencils can be a pain but I have found the best way for me, is to put them in ring binders, in individual pockets, together with either a painted stencil or a photo of one, so I can see what I have. The photo goes in the front of the pocket with the corresponding stencil behind it.

When I paint pictures and use a stencil for preserving a shape, I keep that stencil too, in case I want to do the same picture again, maybe in a different colour (for flowers for example).

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Use Imagination and Stencils at The Same Time!

One of the great things about having a Cameo is being able to make stencils. Now sometimes you may have a specific design requirement, be it fish or flowers or a mural for the wall. Other times maybe you have some basic stencils and no idea what to do with them.

Some of the simplest ones are just single shapes, circles, squares, ovals but they don't have to be boring.

This was created with just some ovals and is great fun for children to do in the holidays.  Get a graduated look by sponging the paint on rather than brushing. (Although this was done with an airbrush, it doesn't have to be.)

It would be great, done in colours with fabric paint on T shirts. The same shape was used in different sizes to make these eyes
At the other end of the scale, another stencil was used to add detail to this reptilian eye...

I shall be making another new video very soon on making stencils, since it appears to be a popular subject and I have an idea or two....:)

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Useful iPad Apps for Arty Types!

I'm all in favour of using whatever tools help you to get the results you want. As long as the end product pleases you, does it really matter how it is achieved? I consider myself more of a watercolorist  than any other type of artist but it doesn't stop me using acrylics if need be or combining other methods of painting.

So, in a similar way, I am happy to use iPad apps if they happen to be useful.

One that may appeal to Scrap Bookers in particular is called 'Bubble Frame'.  It's cheap, has backgrounds, photo frames and allows you to add text as well as having preset layouts. When you have finished, email the JPEG and you can then use it with your cutting software or whatever other application you want.

A more 'arty' one is called 'CopyIt'  -  I think this is one of the BEST apps for artists. It is a modern way of using the grid method to help to draw or paint whatever you want, while retaining accuracy and perspective.  Not only can it apply grids but also edit your photos to be more artist friendly- extracting detail or such.

It may well be worthwhile setting aside an hour every now and again to browse for new apps, it is amazing what you can find!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Airbrush Absence!

That is absence from  here, because I am busy practicing with my new airbrush. So I thought I would show you my first attempts and why I've been missing..

There is a lovely site airbrush  where the lovely Mitch gives loads of help to those of us who want to learn the craft. One of the things he does is provide exercises to do to get your skill level up. The following pic is my first attempt at one of those.

Yes, you are right, that is not a cat. It's an eye.
This is the cat.

So that's as far as I have got in 10 days. Again the mistakes are more obvious when a photo is taken and I get some distance. However, I'm not going to shoot myself over them, I'll get better!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Making a Stencil For Water, Silhouette Studio

There are times when, in painting, you want to add a little highlight to water but don't want to risk ruining work already done. In these cases, a stencil can be very handy but you don't want to bother to make one at the time, you need to have one in stock, as it were.

Bear in mind that you don't need to use all of a stencil, when just a bit will suffice. You may want to add some sparkle effects to a water stencil too  -( two narrow ovals to make the 'cross' with a round bit in the middle, select all and weld).

So, how best to make these stencils?  We all know that highlights work best when they look realistic, calling for more random than regular shapes but drawing each one is going to take forever! Well, if you watch my video, that problem will go up in a puff of smoke. The answer is sooooo easy, you will kick yourself.

As long as you have Silhouette Studio and a Cameo or Portrait, it will probably only take you a few minutes to make your own unique stencil.

I use acetate document folders to make my stencils. They are cheap, available everywhere, tough, washable and cut easily. I just use the setting for Stencil material on the Cameo.  If you are concerned about stencils lifting, either put temporary spray mount on the back of it. or use weights on the stencil to stop it moving.

For the airbrushers  among you,  random wavy shapes that are used as stencils for making flames, work quite well (if put in the right direction) for making ripples in water too.


The easiest way to store them is to put them in appropriately sized pocket binders. Write in marker on the pocket, what the stencil is for or include a copy of the painted stencil. If you have lots of them, use tabs to separate into types or subjects.

If you don't do that but just shove them in a drawer, not only will you forget what you have but you will  forget you even made them...

Saturday, 12 July 2014

I've Been Doodling....

I've been playing with my airbrush, doodling and messing around with stencils and different paint mixes.
At the moment I don't have any dedicated airbrush paints so I have been using what is at hand.  I've got a few inks and I also have attempted to dilute watercolours to use, with varying success.

With inks, you have to be careful to make sure the pressure is low enough, no higher than around 15 PSI or you end up with a lot of spider like creatures if you are doing detail work, but if you are using thicker paints then you will need a higher pressure just to force it through.

So, I started out doing exercises of dots and dashes, lines etc but that does get boring after a while, so I was looking for something to try that would make me feel I had achieved something a bit more challenging. Enter the skull. Yup, think biker chick meets  watercolorist....:)

There are loads of things you could stencil but I also wanted to practice flames. This first pic was done with watered down paints but I did have a bit of a problem with clogging. The flames were all freehand...
BTW - that is not a signature - it's me practicing writing......
The next one I did with  watercolour inks and no such problem, I used some curved shape stencils to add sharp edges to the flames.
It is still a work in progress, I need to add more shadow around the outer edge of the skull....Which is really the point of this post. It wasn't until I saw the photo of the work that I realised what was missing. The modern version of stepping back from your canvas, I suppose!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Manicures - the High Tech Way!

Many years ago, I took classes in various things, make up and manicure were among them.  I did it, partly because it fitted my arty nature and partly so as not to go brain dead, looking after a couple of toddlers. I loved them to bits but one night a week at college with adult (female) company was great!

So, this being many years on, I decided to see if I could help those who find painting their nails really difficult. One of the styles that many women can't cope with on their own, is the French Manicure, where the nail is painted a natural pale pink and the tip is painted white.

I got around to wondering if my modern tech gadgets could help and came up with a plan. I would use my Cameo to cut some templates, and my airbrush to do the complicated tips.
Here is the Studio file  - these sizes are fine for me, you may need to alter them to suit your nail shape or size..
I used this and put it on the sort of tissue paper that kids use in school - it's kind of non stick and very thin. I used the Studio 'copy paper' setting to cut it out, giving me discs with a backing paper.

I found though, that the tape wasn't quite sticky enough to adhere properly to my nails, more of that later.

The first step, is to manually paint your nails with either a clear coat (my preference) or a pale pink. I suggest doing it either the night before or at least a couple of hours before, it makes life easier.

For the 'white' bit, I used
It's a pearl white because it is the only white I had. NOTE this IS craft paint! Yes, you can use it on your nails, it is the stuff they would use if you went in a salon to have nail art done.  I loaded some into my air brush and set the pressure at about 30 PSI - I also diluted the paint a little.

I then put on my nail templates

and sprayed the tips.  OOOPS!  The pressure was way too high and the paint too thin. What a mess!  I cleaned off the right hand and decided it was time for a go at the left...
 I added some more paint to the mix and put the pressure down to 15 PSI. That was much better! 

Make sure to use light coats, it comes out so fine you just go over each tip several times to build it up.
If I had been worried about over spray, I would have used a flat art brush to put vaseline around my nails, but excess can be cleaned off easily with nail polish remover, so I didn't bother. I would use it if  spraying the whole  nail one colour though, it makes life easy!  Remove templates as soon as painted and allow to dry for a few minutes before topping off with a clear coat (applied by hand).
Oh and incase you wonder - I have double jointed and webbed fingers......:)

The photo does not do it justice but not bad for a first attempt- here are my thoughts for the next time...

Cut the templates ( maybe from acetate) and use a normal masking tape to wrap around each finger, ( as you would put a sticking plaster on a cut.)  The low tack was not sticky enough so they lifted up a bit. I need to work out pressure settings and if I really need to dilute my paints at all, I suspect I may not need to. 

Incidentally, clean up of the brush was a case of emptying excess paint, wiping out with remover and rinsing with water,  then putting it back on the hose to blast out water until it was clean. Not hard at all.  It would be a great way of having a nail party with friends for a special occasion.  If you don't have an airbrush, just use an artists brush with the templates and carry on from there.

EDIT- here is an amended file, cut out in acetate and use tiny rubber band to secure over nail. It's easier and stays put better!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Vinyl Transfer Tip

Just a brief bit of info today but none the less, useful!

If you are in the habit of doing vinyl lettering, you probably know that one of the most difficult and frustrating aspects is getting your design to transfer to whatever you want to put it on. Nothing like it going wrong 3/4 of the way through to make you want to throw your project off the nearest high building!

There are several methods that can be used, you have to try them and see what works for you.
Generally, you cut your text, weed it (get rid of the bits in the middle of letters) and then use a transfer tape or such to move it.
Now, if you don't have a special transfer tape (and I certainly don't), you have to come up with a replacement.
Masking tape, cellophane paper sprayed with temporary spray mount, bad cheap sticky tape and lastly, dry wall tape can be used. It is this last option that I want to focus on today.

I found that with delicate  lettering, it is often hard to get it to come off the backing to stick to the dry wall tape, precisely because of the (otherwise) virtue of easy release. The solution, I discovered is a particular technique, using the edge of the work top and pulling the backing away at 90 degrees to the lettering and dry wall tape.  Not easy to imagine is it - so I have taken a couple of pictures for you.
First, here is what dry wall tape looks like ( I never knew what it was either!)

Now, here is how to use it...

With my left hand I am pushing the backing away from me, while at the same time, (and sometimes with the other hand) Pressing the letters hard against the edge of the table to make them stick to the tape. 
 I was making a label for one of my airbrushes, to say 'Food Use Only'.

You then press the letters onto your project, in my case a plastic box, and voila! 

Incase you are wondering, the reason dry wall tape releases well is because of its reduced contact area, because it is made up of strings, not solid material.

So there you have it, my tip for today!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Airbrushing - Not so Scary!

I've finally got my hands on an airbrush!  Isn't it funny that you can go from not knowing that something existed to 'I've got to get one!'

Actually, I now have 3. Two cheap ones came with the compressor ( the thing that makes the air come out) and the one I wanted, an Iwata HP C Plus.  One of them, a bottle feed one, I didn't like the trigger action at all, so I didn't even get that one wet. The other is a side feed brush, which I have tried out but didn't like as much, partly because it just does not have the same quality feel as the Iwata and partly because it seemed harder to clean but I shall keep it for say, food use and leave it at that.

I've tried to make a bit of video, here forgive me it is not the best, it is hard to set up my camera so that it records since I can't see what it is recording at the time!  The object of the exercise was to show that even with no experience with airbrushes at all, you can use them straight out of the box - if you use the correct paint - or in this case, ink. While I have loads of acrylic paints which, in theory, could be watered down, I decided it was only really going to complicate matters, not knowing if I had the consistency right.

The compressor I have (at the moment)  is one that does not have a tank, so runs all the time, so I hope you can still hear me!  It is adjustable, a screw under the moisture trap controls the air pressure.  For inks that are like water, you can use a very low pressure, mine was set at about 15 PSI. The thicker the paint, the higher the pressure needed to force it out of the nozzle.  The Iwata has an adjustment screw at the back to control the paint flow - set to minimum it controls how far you can pull back the trigger. Handy if you need to do the same stroke repeatedly without having to worry about how much paint you are putting through.  I'm only at the doodling stage but hope with effort, to be able to freehand some art stuff. I could, even already, use it for stencils quite easily.

I've taken my brush apart to clean it, not because I had to but because I wanted to know how to do it for when it is necessary. Now I am not the most mechanically minded but after watching videos on how to do it, I did not find it hard this is the one I liked best - it explains it well and was made by someone who has been an Iwata technician, so I felt that the info was going to be pretty good.

I discovered very soon, that it was a good idea to have something that allowed me to put the airbrush down, but have not had chance to buy anything designed for that. So, me being me, I rigged up my own version of a stand
A wedge make up sponge, fixed with double sided foam tape to both the hook and the table edge gives just the right angle to hold my airbrush. The hook was one from Aldi or Lidl that I had hanging around (no pun intended!) At least now, if the phone rings, I'm not panicking about where to put it!

Hubby has already put me to work with it, he wants me to airbrush some labelling on a BBQ, around the knobs where it has worn off.  I've made the stencils for it and will have to learn how to use some enamel paint in my airbrush...

So if I'm a bit quiet here for a while, you'll know why, I want to  master control of this incredible tool!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Summer in Southern Spain

It has been a busy few weeks. The summer season always means a rash of visitors to our home in the sun. Hence the lack of activity here. But now our last one has gone, the laundry is done and I can get back to some sort of schedule.
Don't get me wrong, I love having friends and family to stay but life is never quite the same when guests are here.  I don't like to wake them up with my usual early morning cleaning; my craft room needs to be quiet since it is next to the guest room and so, no cutting, painting or videoing.

June is also the month of the burning here and no, I don't mean over doing the tanning (although some people do that too!)  Think of Southern Spain and a great many think, sun, sea, sand and booze.

There is another part of Spain that is less well known, the local culture is largely not promoted, things that would, in the UK be regarded as tourist attractions, are kept spookily quiet and, unless you speak or at least attempt to speak Spanish, you won't find out about them.

 All over the region, there are the Fallas, burning of huge effigies, largely comic in nature and extremely elaborate.  Here are some pics I took a few years ago in a local town.

As you can see, they are often rather close to buildings but never fear, the Bomberos are always on hand with the hoses to douse things should they get out of hand. Which they sometimes do.  In Alicante one year, there were apartments that had window canopies go up in flames....they had a hard time putting them out when the flames leapt up several levels but hey, this is Spain not health and safety land! 

Considering the numbers involved, the councils here are extremely impressive in their clean up operations. The following day, you'd never know anything had been going on. As soon as one set of statues has burned down, the area is doused and then cleared of all debris.

Following the Fallas in Alicante  (24th June each year)  are the 5 nights of the (International ?) Firework Competition on the main beach. Yup, right on the beach. Thousands of people of all ages gather to watch this spectacle, it's brilliant, the atmosphere is terrific and lots of people take picnics (very impressive ones) on to the beach in preparation for the wait. Lights off and fireworks up at midnight.  Just before they are started, a couple of loud bangs are let off in warning. It always amazes me to see babies taken to this, obviously they are trained to love fireworks from infancy and while alcohol is consumed, you don't get loutish behaviour or rolling drunks, it is very much a family occasion.

So there we are, a little  bit of local colour for you. Hope you enjoyed it!