Thursday, 25 February 2016

Distress Ink Alternative

I've noticed for a while, a trend for card demonstrators to use 'Distress Inks' to create softly blended backgrounds or areas for cards.
Often we see that the demonstrator has a vast collection of inks (not to mention stamps and dies!) that most of us would sell our souls, spouses and children for. While they may make very interesting and informative videos, they are often in the business, their supplies are business expenses, not personal purchases like ours.
Of course, when you try to make a similar card, you don't have the supplies. Never the right colour or type of ink, is often going to be the case.

As someone who has a vast range of colouring methods at my disposal, one thing I don't have is distress ink, neither, because of the aforementioned supplies, can I condone myself buying any. Yes, I can airbrush but for a 30 second job, don't always want to.

So today, I was considering what distress inks are. They have to have some kind of water base, as they appear to be water rather than oil blended. I tried out straight watercolour, sponged or smoothed on with a variety of tools but ended up with very unsatisfactory results. In a lot of cases, the paper pilled and looked terrible, because of the friction of rubbing paint on, even gently. Hmm. That didn't work.

I then thought of something else to try. I have a few embossing inks, and I remember that distress inks can also emboss - so they must have something in them that stays wet. Glycerine came to mind. A water soluble oil. An oxymoron if ever there was one, but a very useful oxymoron.

So I tried mixing glycerine with my normal ink pad ink, palette watercolours and liquid watercolour.
It works. You can even sprinkle on water and blot it off, another popular technique. To see how I applied it, have a look at the video, it couldn't get much easier. Even works with washable felt tip pens (AKA  children's pens!) Problem solved, money saved for much more important things, like UV light bulbs, black vinyl...

So, if you have ANY form of watercolour, think about giving it a try, unless you have loads of distress inks, in which case you probably won't like me much!

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Concepts App for iPads Revisited.

I have had this app for a while, and while I am not expert at it, I can certainly use it more easily now.
Video link  Download link
Part of this is down to me, part is improvements in the App functionality. There were glitches that really bugged me but most of those have now been resolved, especially with the latest Beta that I am testing.

Having managed to break my old iPad mini before Christmas and getting the V4 of it, there were some issues but those are now resolved.

So, my revised opinion of the app is that it is probably the most versatile drawing app for the iPad that you will use. Get the Pro version, as I did ( it isn't expensive for goodness sake) and it unlocks many more features that you expect from a high end art package.

If you are capable of drawing on a tablet at all, this app gives you the opportunity to edit any or all strokes after you have made them, meaning that you do less erasing and more drawing. A line not in the right place? Just move it. Want it thicker? Make it so. Want it smoothed? Smooth it. Not a problem. All strokes are fully editable.

Concepts accepts the use of many stylus happily, just pair it up and off you go. Pressure sensitivity is built in. The personal preferences has a range of options that should satisfy most users.

Your favourite tools are kept nice and neat on the side, there is even a Copic Colour Wheel, so if you need to use those colours they are at your finger tips.

Choose from different drawing tools and vary how they look, width, transparency, etc. Layers can be automatic or manual. The selection tool can be used like a lasso or you can tap and hold (the length of hold can be adjusted).

There is a specialist mode - Precision mode - more suited to specific design work such as architecture or room plans, that type of thing. As well as having measuring capabilities, it has true shapes for you to use, not something I am into but there are many who would find it invaluable.

As well as doing your own drawing, you can import images to work on and you can also export whatever you draw. Many modes to export in, such as SVG, PNG, DXF, JPEG and more.

For those designing for cutting machines, it is worth noting that saving to SVG saves your images as a series of thin lines or shapes, the line is drawn down the middle of whatever line you draw, no matter how thick it is, not the exterior edges of it.  So if you want to make it into a cut file, unless it is plain solid shapes, export it as a PNG or JPEG to trace in your cutter software.
The beauty of tracing anything from Concepts, is that because it draws as a Vector, tracing is usually pretty easy and clean and the images are easily resized to suit your needs.

One of the uses for this app is writing in your own hand to use in other applications. This is great if you have a stylus, your own sentiments for cards, in your own writing, to cut on your plotter...

I use Concepts to make images, trace them with SCAL and then cut them out for templates to make Polymer stamps. Doubt if many others have done that yet but I am sure there are many varied uses for it! It's easy compared with tracing a hand drawing - the lines can be true solid colour making them far better for tracing. I can even make them all the same width once the drawing is completed or make some thinner than others.

So my verdict is 'Well Done'  Concept team. A truly decent drawing app for a reasonable price, with the kind of features designers are used to paying a LOT more for.  No tying in to subscriptions, no hundreds of pounds to buy, and a team that takes the trouble to sort out problems and listen to feed back. Keep it up guys (and girls!).

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Various Cards I made Today!

I was in the mood to play around today. Mainly playing with colour. Colour can change everything about a card, combinations can make or break a design.

The very simplest of cards.

This is card making at it's most simplistic. Sentiment and images stamped on a folded white card base. The presents are stamped with Versamark and shimmery eye shadows brushed on. (It can work really well if the colours are suitable!)

Starting with a pink card to mount, I drew a pattern of lines and dots with a silver pen. The sentiment was stamped in a darker version of the pink and then again with Versamark. I used clear embossing powder to make it stand out. The piece was then mounted on foam and applied to the white card base.

Now it starts to get a bit more interesting. Watercolour is dropped onto a slick flat surface and the card is swished into it randomly. More colours are added, one at a time until the desired pattern is achieved. The paint is allowed to dry and water drops splashed onto it and mopped up, taking colour out in places. Sentiment is added and embossed, and a few stones and stars stuck on. The whole thing is foam mounted on white base.

With this one, two washes of colour were applied with a round brush. It was allowed to dry more on one part than the other, splashed with water and mopped again. The pink part is softer in effect because the water was dripped onto a wet paint. Sentiment stamped and embossed and trim applied before mounting on foam.  NB. This was done with Kroma Kolor  airbrush food colouring! (just because I can!)

The rose was stamped with Versamark and then I brushed on Pearl Ex. I then used a water brush and pale blue watercolour to fill in the background. The outer edge was rimmed with alcohol marker in the same colour. Sentiment stamped and a few gems applied.

See what a difference colour makes!  the same rose, stamped on pink card this time, before applying the Pearl Ex. The white card had lines and dots applied in silver pen, and the sentiment was stamped and embossed. It shimmers nicely but you can't see that in the photo! I picked out the lines in sliver pen and fussy cut the rose before foam mounting it.

The main colour here was applied with two different brushes, one in wide  sweeps, the other in narrower lines. 

More of a graduated wash with this one, again the pattern is drawn in silver pen. Framing with a darker marker makes a big difference.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Photo polymer stamp making Details

OK, finally got around to making a real time video of the stamp making process!

This is the stuff I am using, I decant it because when the liquid is so viscous, it makes more sense to be able to store it upside down...this way I can use every last drop.

Polymer Details

Super Clear   is the one I have. Different polymers will have different curing times.

12 Stevern Way
+44 1733 34 9937  is the address on the original bottle.

23015N. 15th Avenue, Suite 105, Phoenix AZ 85027, USA  is also listed.

The dam tape can be shaped according to the stamp. (This pic was taken  after the stamp was made) It shows the excess polymer over the black areas and the clean areas where it has been developed.

The timer I used for developing is an iPhone app, it needs to be accurate.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

3 Layer Flip card - Free File - SVG format

I have made a card here that is often done with metal dies. It isn't hard to put together but there are a lot of bits.

 The base is actually made of a patterned card, folded so that the pattern is INSIDE. This is because the front panel with all the flips is cut from a patterned card the same size as the front, so the base is not seen. You may want to make another plain panel for the inside.

Once you decide which pieces to use, (there are a couple of design options in the file), make the front panel first, working from the front to back. I changed my mind a couple of times on the front design, in the end I put glue in the flower and filled it with glitter but you could use glitter paper behind the cut out, either way will work. Or leave out the glitter, up to you!

The middle panel has a blank backing, for adding a sentiment of your choice or stamped image.

The back panel has a decorative cut out, backed with a metallic card, that adds a bit of wow factor.

The white frames are optional but they do add a nice touch. The ribbon is wrapped around the inside of the card  and just tied in a bow on the front.

TIP - I have found that acrylic art varnish in a tiny precision tip bottle is excellent for glueing decorative items in place. I suspect it may be similar to the Tim Holtz multi matt medium that a lot of card makers use, except mine is not matt! This container cost around €6 for 100ml and should last a long time. The bottle comes from a 'Vape' shop - the only use I have for such places! At under €1 it is a great and cheap alternative to expensive ones from craft stores.

Back panel - pretty enough on it's own!

I actually intended to put a small version of this on the front, I cut it out in vinyl the size of a postage stamp. The Silver Bullet cut it out easily enough, but it was so small I couldn't see what bits to weed out! Lol, the joys of crafting in bad light...
Here is the file  Grab it fast, I don't keep them in Dropbox for long!
I saved it to SVG at 90 dpi. Check the sizing before cutting. My card was 10.5cm square.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Simply Sweet

This one is a quick and easy card with just a couple of stamped images.
Terrence the Town Mouse is smartly dressed in his best trousers and waistcoat, his heart filled with love..

The sentiment could be for a birthday, Valentines or many other occasions. He won't be late because he is wearing his pocket watch!  The striped green background complements his figure, the stamped shape panel adds interest.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Molotow Masking Pens - Update - not suitable!


I think I mentioned here somewhere that I had bought a couple of Molotow masking pens. I'm used to using masking fluid but it is a bit of a pain to apply, so thought the pen option may be better.
When I got them, I tried one out, just a couple of lines on paper and thought, yep, they work, fine.

However, the other day I was doing some stamping and wanted to watercolour around it. I used a pen and it was disastrous. The blue stained, I couldn't get it to draw smoothly and when I did try to remove it, it took the paper with it.

This wasn't just on one piece either, I tried card and two sorts of watercolour. None were successful.

I tried taking the fluid out of the pen and using it normally, that sort of worked, I replaced the fluid in the pen with another brand, that didn't work.

On contacting the manufacturer, I got this reply.

Thank you for the fast answer and the pictures, this is very helpful. Yes, generally masking liquid is not a new producct on the market so we are sure you were able o get experience with it in the past. How ever the mixcure or the masking liquid we are offering is adjusted to the use / applycation with a marker. 

This of course makes it much easyer to use, carry and store. How ever, when used by certain traditional techniques, has its limitations. 

You have described that you have filled one of our empty (rinsed) markers with some masking liquid (non Molotow™) and it didnt work. This is possible, since this is a special fluid and we can not guarantee its function in our empty marker system. 

As for the reaction with the tip, when applying on watercolor paper. This kind of paper, judging by the pictures is a soft porous paper. Of course the tip is harder then a brush, so its easyer to damage the paper, especially when its wet. The second aspect you need to consider is the flow of the masking liquid and the drying time. The ammount of liquid which can be applyed is limited, and the material you are using, since its porous surely needs a lot more, then for instance a coated paper. This means that when you apply it with a brush, you create a thicker layer, fill the pours insede ad therefore dont experience any problems. 

Should you have any questions please feel free to contact us. 

So basically they are saying it is not suitable for this use. Which would be fine if any of their advertising had said as much. Others have had similar problems with the masking pen, so I'm sorry, I don't advise using them for the sort of stuff card makers do. 

As for the company that actually sold it to me, I have not heard back from them at all....not impressed!

Friday, 5 February 2016

Big Dog, Lots of Love

Here is a card I made with one of MY stamp designs.
Not the best colouring in, my pen was giving up on me!   Actually this card was plagued from the start, I was going to mask the dog with my Molotow masking pen. The first one I did, the pen stained the dog blue - no idea why, I have emailed the manufacturers. So I did the next one but couldn't be bothered to cut a mask, so my watercolour isn't as planned either! Then I decided I wanted some squiggles either side of the black writing and managed to mess those up... Oh well, we all get one of those days sometimes!

If you would like to buy the stamp, you can get it here, post is free.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Rapid EGPoint mini Hot Glue Gun Review

Firstly let me say that I am not sponsored for this or anything else, it is just my honest review, to help when you are choosing a new Glue Gun.

Because I am a paper crafter, most of the times when I want a glue gun, I want a nice fine point, so that glue goes where I want it to go and nowhere else.

I've had several HGGs over the years but none, until this one have proved to be very satisfactory.
I have been using this one for a few months now and can happily say it is the best I have used for this type of stuff.

It takes 7mm glue sticks but unlike most, it has a lovely fine tip.  It is also possible to remove the cable and use it for a few minutes without it - which can be handy in tight spaces, or if your power socket is not handy.

I will qualify this by saying that the first one I had was faulty. It was one of those things I suppose, it just didn't appear to get hot enough to dispense the glue. However, when I rang customer service, they were very helpful and immediately replaced it for me. I had wondered if it would be a problem, since it had been a gift and I didn't know where it had been bought, but no, it was fine.

The replacement has been working perfectly, so I thought I would show you a good use for that fine tip!

Make embossing plates!

Background papers become easy.

A word of caution, you don't need a really heavy pressure to emboss with this, too heavy and you will tear the card!

Of course it does all the other usual things, like glueing cards together, attaching ribbons etc. In the previous post, I used it to raise cut out letters from the card because they were too fine to use foam tape.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Using stamps for pattern backgrounds

Sometimes, when I don't have a specific project in mind, I find myself turning to playing around with something simple. Like stamps. Floral stamps have many uses, one of which is being used to make background patterned papers.

Like this one.

But it doesn't have to stop there. Think about adding another stamp layer, not necessarily lined up, and then heat emboss with a metallic powder.

I cut this piece into smaller sections to make several cards. All similar but slightly different.

Even though the paper design is pretty much the same (two embossed), they are made different by the  choice of matting and type of sentiment. Sometimes simple is good. Matting is generally scraps of card left over from other things but it can be card, ribbon or paper.

A quick tip for tying bows - adhere the ribbon to the back of the card and then use tiny pieces of double sided tape to temporarily stick the card to the table. Tie the bow . It is easy enough to pry the card loose again. 

To get the' Sending Hugs' and 'Hello' were cut from pearlised card with my Silver Bullet. I never get bored of watching that machine cut text!   To make them stand proud, I applied hot glue to the backs and allowed it to dry, then stuck them on to the cards. (Don't have glue dots here!)  You could also use small gems, maybe ones that are in colours you don't use often!

The 'just a note' was cut out in vinyl on acetate, I used a transparent double sided gel tape to adhere it.