Inspiration Station: Cosmetics Holder

My sister and I collectively work on quite a few arts and crafts, and we thought we’d try out a theme-inspired creativity session between us once in a while – our ‘Inspiration Station’ – one of us picks a theme, and each of us makes something inspired by the theme in any media we fancy. We’d like to do this every month, let’s see how it pans out.

Sis chose our very first theme last month: a mood board from Butterfly Reflections, Ink which is in turn inspired by Pinterest. I’d wanted to make a short, squat cosmetics holder for some time, to put eye/lip pencils and sticks in. The mood board was perfectly inspiring to get me started on this project!

Inspiration Station: Dec '18 inspiration

Inspiration Station: Dec inspiration – a mood board at Butterfly Reflections, Ink.

To start with, for the squat cylindrical wall of the container, I used a thick cardboard roll left over from used-up tapes. For the base, I used two circles cut from a chipboard – a smaller one that fits within the inside of the wall, and a larger one whose size matches the outside. I adhered the circles to each other and to the wall’s base.

I then glued striped paper, which I cut from envelope covers, onto the inner and outer surfaces of the base and onto the rim. To make them fit well, I cut them larger than the required size and snipped notches at regular intervals outside the ‘borders’, which proved useful to grip adjacent surfaces as well as to ensure that there are no gaps showing in the finished product. While all this dried in the sun, I moved on to gel printing.

Inspiration Station: Cosmetics Holder

Inspiration Station: Cosmetics Holder

The paper for gel printing was, again, from a thread-reinforced envelope, and it provides wonderful texture, both visual and tactile, which I love in containers. I used stamps with circles and patterns for my interpretation of the shapes in the mood board. The gel printing went better than I hoped (but still not exactly like I wanted to – the blues turned out too bright, and pinks are supposed to be flowers and dandelions. πŸ˜€ ) However, I just love the outcome! I cut the paper to size and glued it to the outer and inner walls, with the thread still intact.

To set the surfaces and finish the holder, I used matte transparent gel. (Thanks, Sis, for the idea! I think you’ve finally succeeded in making gel ideas stay put in my mind, ready for access at the slightest nudge. πŸ™‚ ) I’ve already started using the holder, and I’m delighted that it’s just the way I wanted it to be!

Sis has made a pretty card for our theme, and you’ll want to look at the cute flower motifs and the background!

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Image Transfer: Coasters

I’ve not participated in challenges lately due to my creativity having become sluggish, but this month’s theme at Art Elements – Stars by Laney Mead, brought forth some tiny sparks in my right brain. πŸ™‚ By the time I thought of joining, I’d already created some Diwali gel prints using the only stencil in our stash that has some star shapes in it, so I hoped other ideas would appear soon.

I considered various ideas involving beading, wire-weaving, faux soutache with polymer clay, and gel printing, but none clicked. Then, I came across some old printouts of star shaped patterns that I’d thought I’d use for image transfer jewelry using polymer clay. Since I was still woefully short of jewelry ideas, I settled on making a set of coasters instead.

Polymer Clay Coasters using Image Transfer

Don’t see too many stars? That’s because I ran out of prints…

 

The ‘sure’ idea

I wanted colorful bases for my coasters, and instead of spending time and the little energy I had on Skinner blends, I brushed a variety of chalks on plain, unbaked circular clay sheets. (Now that was fun. :)) I transferred the star pattern image onto a sheet of translucent clay, intending to adhere it face-down on a coaster base so I could bake the whole setup and then sand+buff the translucent surface. However, before I could place the translucent sheet on the circle, the sheet just tore apart. Argh, the horror!

Since I’d transferred images onto clay before, I’d been pretty sure that this would work, and now I didn’t have enough copies of the star prints left to form a ‘proper set’ of 4, so I opted to just use a different pattern for each coaster instead.

An alternative

The translucent clay just didn’t want to work with image transfers, so I started looking for alternatives. Liquid polymer clay can be used as a medium for the transfer – but surprisingly, it didn’t produce great results on my unbaked sample bases or baked ones. Then my sis suggested transparent matte gel, and it worked brilliantly! So I applied the gel on my baked coaster bases and stuck the paper on it pattern-side down, and waited for the gel to set completely. I then got the paper soaking wet and gently rubbed it away from the base, leaving the pattern behind.

Finally!

As usual, things just had to work a bit differently on the final pieces than on the samples. πŸ™‚ The ‘gently’ part turned out to be difficult, and I rubbed away the pattern at a few places on two of the coasters. By the time I was on my second piece, I noticed that the pattern would appear pretty vibrant and clear while wet, even if traces of paper showed up everywhere while dry. So for my last two pieces, I decided to just leave all of that stubborn trace paper be, and waited for the pieces to dry fully. Then I poured some resin over the coasters, and voila! Vibrant, patterned coasters, just the way I want. They’re still curing as I write this post, so I haven’t tested them yet; I hope they work well and last a long time.


I was pretty sure I won’t have anything done for this challenge, and even though only one of the patterns has any resemblance to stars, I hope this little something is still better than nothing. Thank you, Laney, for the heavenly theme! I’m looking forward to seeing what the other guests and the Art Elements team have come up with; let’s go blog hopping!

Guests:Β  Jill β€’ Divya β€’ Alysen β€’ Kathy β€’ Tammy β€’ Cat β€’ Samantha β€’ Anita (you’re here) β€’ Karin β€’ Sarajo β€’ Rozantia β€’ Kimberly

AE Team: Jen β€’ Jenny β€’ Niky β€’ Laney β€’ Claire β€’ Cathy β€’ Marsha β€’ Caroline β€’ Susan β€’ Lesley

Diwali Gel Prints

Our Diwali consists of hanging paper lanterns and lighting lamps, and we continue with the lanterns for 12 days until another festival, Tulasi Pooja. This festival has us worshiping the sacred Tulasi plant. Following this, the lanterns finally come down, and go into the attic until next year. πŸ™‚

I made some gel prints to represent Diwali, and I think a few of them also apply to the 12 subsequent days. The lanterns might finally be off now, but it feels wonderful to have these prints remind me of the festivals!

I used stencils for both the background and the foreground. Getting the prints to come out well in as few attempts as possible is still a trick I haven’t got the hang of, but I’ve noticed that once they start turning out good, they keep turning out good for a while…

I might still be in a jewelry funk, but I’m glad there’s still some creativity in me to channel in another direction while I wait for the jewelry mojo to return. πŸ™‚ If I keep at the gel printing, I’ll probably start an art journal instead of picking up random pieces of paper.

Table Makeover

My break from jewelry making continues, and I thought I could spruce up my work table while I’m not using it to work on jewelry. The front of this table’s drawers were white earlier, and though I didn’t really dislike that, some color would definitely make the table cheerier to look at. My sister has a few jars of chalk paint that she’d used a while ago to give a new look to some furniture in her room, and I borrowed a few of these paints for my redecoration project.

Before starting the paint job, I removed the drawers from the table, and wiped them clean with soapy water followed by clean water. I then masked the sides of the drawers. The drawers are made from MDF, and have some slight texture to them that I wanted to retain, so I didn’t sand them.

Table drawer makeover with chalk paint

Table drawer makeover with chalk paint

My first painting attempt didn’t go as I’d planned, and I even ended up with an accidental splotch of paint that spoiled the look of the piece, so I wiped the surfaces clean with water again. (This is a welcome advantage of chalk paints for clumsy new painters like me – do-overs are pretty easy.)

For my second, and final, attempt, I was a bit more careful with the paint. I also changed my original design just a little bit. I think I also got a bit more comfortable with the painting process, and the result was much better than earlier.

I painted the bottom half of the length of the drawers with a lighter paint. Then, I painted the top half with darker paint. I added a random pattern of circles to the lower half by brushing the rim of a small sized lid with bright paints and pressing the lid onto the painted surface. Finally, I added another coat of darker paint to the top half since it was still looking uneven. It’s still uneven on closer inspection, but that doesn’t matter much to me.

The advantage that I mentioned earlier – of chalk paint reacting to water even after application – becomes a disadvantage when the project is finished πŸ™‚ so I ended up applying a layer of wax on the drawers, and buffed it very slightly, to increase the paint’s staying power.

I’m pretty happy with the result, and love the new look of my table!

Something New…

I’ve been seeing a dip in my creative mojo as far as my usual pursuits are concerned. Instead of trying to channel energy into forced jewelry making, I tried out random new things – not really jewelry-related – for a creativity lift. One was some basic weaving, and the other, gel printing (or mono printing with gel plates.)

Gel printing is a lot of fun, and I think it’ll be super-addictive if I keep at it. Acrylics are a staple in our arsenal anyway, and my sister already owns a Gelli Plate, so it was a no-brainer to get it all together on my work table and have some unplanned fun.

Gel Printing Trial

Gel printing itself is very simple – the most basic process involves applying an even coat of one or more colors of acrylic paint on the gel plate, placing a paper sheet face down onto the plate, lightly burnishing the paper to transfer the paint onto it, peeling back the paper and admiring your print. Stencils or stamps can be used to add visual texture and definition to the print, and layering your prints makes complex prints possible. Even the leftover pattern on the gel plate can be used to get a ghost print, which in itself could turn out interesting. So many possibilities!

For this session, my very first, I played with just one texture – a mesh bag. It took me a few tries to use the brayer/roller right. (The brayer is used to spread and mix colors as a thin layer.) Very soon, I ended up with some hardened paint on a part of the brayer, which I spent an afternoon removing – if left as is, that uneven paint layer would make future brayer applications uneven.

I’ll need practice if I want the prints to turn out better, but right now, the idea is to not think much and just enjoy a creative break, and this is the perfect activity for that. Each print turns out different, and the slightly unpredictable nature of the results make it easy to let go. I’ll definitely do more gel printing, though I have no idea what I’ll do with the prints! πŸ™‚

Stitch Marker Case | Art Elements Challenge

The team at Art Elements hosts themed monthly challenges, which involve a reveal and blog hop at the end of the month. The theme for June is Sunflowers, picked by Sue.

I read the theme announcement, and recalled this small, cubic container that I’ve appropriated for storing my stitch markers. I’ve always wanted to decorate it using polymer clay – nothing elaborate, just a background layer and a button each in the middle of its visible faces. I imagined sunflowers as the buttons, and decided to go ahead. For a project that I wanted to make for so long, I ran into quite a lot of unexpected turns, and the results were not what I expected. I’m still wondering if I can make some modifications, so this project is still a WIP.

Polymer Clay Stitch Marker Case

Possible next step: mute the background a bit so it doesn’t overwhelm the sunflower buttons

I started out with the background, deciding to play with alcohol inks again. I drizzled some inks on a long strip of white Premo! clay (this goes around the body of the case), and spritzed it with alcohol, both when wet, and after a while when it dried up a bit. The pattern didn’t quite turn out like I expected it would, but I decided to use the strip. I followed the same process with a square sheet of clay for the lid.

For the sunflowers, I wanted to use different yellow clays from my stash. I used a mold to make flowers with each of the yellows, vertically sliced each flower into 5 roughly equally-wide pieces, then swapped pieces between different flowers. Now each flower has stripes of slightly varying yellows, and I like this look. (The flowers look a bit wan now on the bright background. In hindsight, I should’ve lightened the background – maybe by covering it with a layer of white-tinted-translucent clay? But well…)

Meanwhile, I realized too late that the case is not all metal like I’d somehow always thought it was. (Weird how we sometimes don’t notice things right in front of us.) Only the lid is metal, and the rest of the body is plastic – unbakeable, sigh. Should I try a different material? I didn’t really want to. I remembered reading about some polymer clay artists getting around this problem, making their plastic container bases withstand the baking by filling them up with water to the brim. (I should’ve tested this out before I covered it with clay, but well… :))

* I finally found the water tip, demonstrated (with pictures) by Garie Sim.

I put things together, covering the case with the background sheets, and adhering the flowers using a bit of liquid clay. The flowers still fell down or slid down a bit though, so I used a heat gun to bake them slightly and keep them in place. I burned one of the flowers in the process, but then thought “why not?” and burned the rest in a controlled manner. I’d originally thought of antiquing to highlight the texture of the flowers, but this works too!

Then came the baking, with the case filled to the brim with water. I don’t think I’ve ever been so anxious and uncertain since my first ever polyclay bake. I’m happy to report that the water-filling tip was a great one! The case is completely undamaged, and the clay still fits the case well.

All things considered, I’m amazed that this project was at least this successful – there were way too many go-with-the-flow moments with this one – and as always, I definitely learned something new. Thank you, Sue, for the inspiration that finally got me working on this long overdue item from my list! I hope I finish it to my satisfaction soon.


Since this is a blog hop, I hope you check out what the AE team and the other guests have made for this challenge!
Guests: Alysen β€’ Anita (you are here) β€’ Cat β€’ Divya β€’ Jill β€’ Kathy β€’ Linda β€’ Linda β€’ Mischelle β€’ Norma β€’ Raven β€’ Sarajo β€’ Tammy
AE Team: Caroline β€’ Cathy β€’ Claire β€’ Jenny β€’ Laney β€’ Lesley β€’ Sue

Shadowbox Shrine

Oops, I almost forgot to make something from my PCA course this month. And when I did start work on a project, I accidentally cracked my version #1 when it came out of the oven. I could almost feel this month pass by without a PCA project, but I managed to make a version #2. And I’m delighted with it!

Shadowbox Shrine

Shadowbox Shrine

This mixed media project by Darlene Madden is a shadowbox shrine, and I think it really highlights textures and layers. Darlene uses various media in her project, whereas I used mostly chalks and Perfect Pearls. None of the pictures I clicked do any justice to the splendid shine that comes from the Perfect Pearls. 😦

I sculpted the key by hand, and for its wings, I used a template to cut out a heart shape, cut it vertically into two halves, and cut slits in them to form the ‘feathers’. I die-cut the lace ornament on top-left from paper, and applied metallic paints over it. I like the bling and weirdness it adds to an otherwise serious piece! πŸ™‚

I also love the mystery that the shadow adds to the object in the center — it would be rather boring otherwise. I think I like shadowboxes. How about you — are you a fan of them?