Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Top Ten Painting Tips

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh

Contrary to what people might think painting IS for EVERYONE and it's much easier than you think. When I say painting I mean the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface with a brush but other implements, such as knives, sponges, and airbrushes, can be used. It might sound intimidating to some but here are the top 10 tips that will help you succeed.

1. Supplies
You really don't need any fancy paints, tools or canvases. What you need is simple: a brush basin with clean cool water, paintbrushes (flats, rounds and a liner) in a variety of sizes, and paints in a wide variety of colors.  Here's another tip, if your paint bottle cap is not color coded, add a dot of paint to the paint cap so that you can easily identify the color you are searching for. 

2. Changing Colors
When painting with acrylic paints, have a brush basin or container for water on hand.  When you need to change the color you're working with you will want to clean your brush.  Add a couple drops of liquid dish detergent to the cool water in your brush basin.  This will clean your brush quicker. Then it's really important to dry your brush on a paper towel before loading it with a new color.  If you don't dry it, the excess water in the brush will dilute or thin the new paint color. 

3. Surface
You can paint on anything: wood, metal, glass, ceramics, canvas, paper mache, terra cotta, cement, fabric, feathers, some plastics, leather and even old cookware.  Find original surfaces like old furniture and suitcases, clothes and any old stuff you want to alter or change. Remember that each surface need a different kind of paint depending on the material and the look you want. Any craft store would help you with that information.

4. Load your brush
Loading your brush properly will enable you to paint with professional looking results.  Dip the brush into the puddle of paint on your palette, flip the brush over and stroke into the same puddle.  This will ensure the brush would not be overfilled with paint which may create ridges of paint when stroking the brush across your painting surface.

5. Painting Wood
When painting a wood surface with acrylic paint, the wood grain will be raised after the first paint layer is dry.  This makes the wood feel rough to the touch.  Sand with a fine sandpaper and remove the particles with a damp paper towel before applying your second basecoat. If you don't have a fine sandpaper, you can use a section of a brown grocery bag.  Simply cut off a section of the bag, fold it in half and sand away!

6. Texture
Create fun textures and looks by using other tools to paint your surface. Use sponge, spray, baby wipe or fabric. Each tool texture will create different texture on the surface.

7. Patterns
Stripes - To easily paint stripes, use stencil or painter's tape to mask the desired vertical, horizontal or diagonal pattern.  Apply paint to the unmasked areas using a brush. Peel tape while paint is still wet.

Polka Dots - Easy polka dotting tools can include: round brushes, handle ends of paintbrushes, daubers, spouncers, toothpicks, a stylus, fresh pencil erasers or even a dead ballpoint pen.

Fun Patterns - Use other tools to create patterns like bubble wrap, TP rolls, stamps, feather etc. Use your imagination!

8. Mess Free
When painting small items stick the small items onto double-sided tape before painting.  Wood beads or balls can be strung onto a small dowel or chopstick before painting.  Your fingers will remain paint-free and thank you for it!

9. Patience
Paint takes time to dry! Wait patiently before painting another coat of paint on your surface! Use a heat tool to speed up the drying time.

10. Brush Cleaning
NEVER allow paint to dry in the bristles of the brush.  Thoroughly clean all your brush after each use with water and soap.  However, if you do end up with a brush with dried paint, soak the bristles in Murphy Oil Soap, then lather and rinse.  Be sure to store cleaned brushes so that they are NOT resting on the bristles.  It is best to store a brush so that it is upright (bristles up) in a cup or container. And here's another helpful hint:  Add a little dry, uncooked rice to the bottom of the cup to help stabilize the brushes.

Hasn't this information just made your fingers tickle? Don't you just want to go and paint something? I know I do!
I hope you found this information helpful, leave me a comment telling me about it or ask me a question.

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Have fun creating!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Twine Binding Envelope Mini Album

I always try to think about new and easy ways to make mini albums. The faster I can make them the better. One of the things that takes a long time to make is the cover and binding mechanism. Personally I'm not a big fan of rings and/or bind-it-all although i use them often. I want to have a fast binding mechanism (like rings or Bind-it-all) but professional looking like a full cover binding. So I came up with a solution...Twine!

It's not entirely my idea, I saw the use of twine for binding on the internet but I took it a step further and upgraded it a little. All you need to do is create a cover from three pieces of chipboard and attach the twine to it by wrapping the twine on a strip of chipboard.

Check out the video tutorial for step by step instructions, measurements and tips for creating your mini album! 


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Friday, August 21, 2015

Extend the Life of Your Craft Supplies

We spend lots of money on supplies and we want them to last for a long time. Here are a few tips to help you achieve that. Most of these tips are not new but it's good to have them all in one place!

If your punch is not punching as cleanly as it used to it probably needs a little sharpening. Get a piece of aluminum foil and fold it in half, then in half again to create four layers. Stick that folded piece in your punch, and punch a couple of shapes from it. Do maybe half a dozen or so. Believe it or not, that will sharpen up your punch a bit.
If the punch sticks, and doesn't pop back quickly, It needs a little waxing to make it slide more easily. Tear off a small piece of waxed paper, and fold it into four layers. Punch through the folded waxed paper half a dozen times. You’re waxing up the edges a bit, which helps encourage the punch to spring back quickly.

Ink Pads
The cause of ink drying out in stamp pads so quickly is the same process that makes the ink dry on your project - the evaporation of the solvent or liquid in the ink. In order to extend the life of your ink pad always close the top of the stamp ink pad every time you use it. Put the ink pad into a plastic Ziploc style bag, making sure to force all the air out of the bag before sealing it. Store the ink pad upside down. Eventually you'll need to re-ink the pad with pigment and solvent. Almost all ink pads today have available refills.

Proper cleaning and storage of your rubber stamps is an easy way to extend the usable life of your rubber stamps. Some stamps can become stained after repeated use or after use with permanent inks. If your stamp is stained, but clean, it will not transfer old ink into your new project. Most non-staining inks can be washed off using mild soapy water. A clean toothbrush is great for washing off ink that has become embedded in nooks or crannies in your rubber stamp. There are a number of great stamp cleaners and stamps scrubbers on the market, but I personally think you don't need them.

Stencils are usually made of durable materials. But cleaning them regularly with soap and water will make sure no excess paint will interfere with the stencil's pattern. Store them in their original package so they will not get tangles in each other.

1. Clean your brush immediately after using it. When you are having an artistic moment, it may be tempting to leave a dirty brush to sit for a while while you grab another one to complete your masterpiece. Resist! Especially in the case of painting with acrylics, forgetting to clean a brush often means buying a new one.
2. Between painting sessions, clean your brushes with brush cleaner, soapy water or shampoo.
When you know you’ll be putting your brushes away for a while, a simple rinse in water (or mineral spirits for oils) isn’t good enough. Work brush soap or shampoo into the bristles of the brush all the way down to the ferrule, and rinse thoroughly with lukewarm to cool water until no trace of paint or suds are left. 

3. Do your best to clean the base of the bristles.
The area near the ferrule is often the hardest to clean, but it’s actually just as important for maintaining a brush’s shape as the tip. Any paint residue that coats the bristles at their base will prevent them from coming together at the top. Gradually, your brush tip will become more and more spread apart until it no longer holds its shape.
4. Never store your brushes vertically in water or solvent.
There are a few good reasons not to do this. The pressure on the brush can permanently misshape the bristles, bending them or spreading them out so they no longer come to a point. If they are left too long to rest on the bristles, most brushes will never regain their original shape. Store clean brushes vertically head-side-up or horizontally. Make sure that brushes aren’t resting against the tips of other brushes, or they can become deformed.

Acrylic paints all dry out at some point but in order to reach that point as late as possible there are a few things you can do. Try to buy paint with a small opening the less contact with air the longest the paint will stay liquid. If you have paints in large opening containers cover the opening with plastic sheet and then close the lid. While working always make sure the paint is closed. If I have paints I haven't used for awhile I shake them every once in awhile so the pigment and the liquid will mix together and not separate (which is a contributing factor for fast drying).

If you have more tips on extending the life of your craft supplies please share it in the comments.

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Have fun creating!


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