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!

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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?

Another Notebook Cover

Whoo! My first ‘combination’ project from the PCA courses — another notebook cover, which isn’t remotely similar to the first one I made.

Notebook cover, from multiple PCA courses

I used Sculpey Terracotta clay for the cover’s base, Sculpey III and Fimo Effects for the components, and a whole lot of TLS to bind things together. I’ve used learnings from all these courses —

  • Notebook cover fundamentals from Anke Humpert’s course — the most difficult part here was getting a uniform base layer, since the layer’s bigger than my pasta machine. πŸ™‚
  • Inlay pattern from Suzanne Ivester’s course — this was the one that took the longest time. Also, the non-uniform depth of the stamping at the very edges — I need to figure out a way to handle this. I tried using a paper layer between the clay and the stamp’s edges to prevent it from pressing too much into the clay, but that didn’t help much at all.
  • Succulents from Cindi McGee’s course — I wish I had chalk pastels for subtle shading. I tried paints and it didn’t look so great. Perfect Pearls it is, then!
  • Flower shaping and mosaics from Christi Friesen’s course — I used Perfect Pearls for the shine. I have other ideas for gold leaves / foils, and hopefully they’ll turn out good.
  • Stripey borders from Lisa Pavelka’s course — Of course, the Terracotta clay turned out to be too smooshy to retain the uniformity of layers while cutting, but that does contribute to the organic look, I think?

I’d originally thought of only 2, or 3, projects to combine, but as I kept working on this one, I just kept adding stuff. Good thing I stopped eventually, huh? πŸ™‚

I hope this cover lasts, and doesn’t get damaged while handling. I’ve kept even the raised elements close to the ground, so to speak, so there’s less danger of them getting chipped, but one isn’t usually very careful when using a notebook, right?

New Clay

It’s been a while since I made something from clay, and thanks to a friend who was willing to haul back my order from their short visit to the US, I now have newly-bought clay to work with!

New clay

Of course, I’m still sticking to my plan of combining salient learnings from more than one PCA project into a single project. It’s fun trying to imagine which projects might work well together! I hope I manage to make something this month.

I’ve also been looking at some beading stitches to decide which one works well for a jewelry set I have in mind. I hope that materializes this month too! πŸ™‚

Jewelry Box

Since I barely managed to finish my quota of last month’s PCA courses, I decided to start early this time. πŸ˜€

Jewelry box - after

Jewelry box

Jewelry box - before

Jewelry box (before)
Image used from the online store’s website since I forgot to click a picture before I started. πŸ˜€

Teresa’s course is about beautifying a wooden jewelry box using painting, silkscreening, decoupage and resin. Amongst all PCA projects I’ve worked on so far, the lack of materials where I live is most evident in this one.

For the painting — the acrylics that are available here are kinda tacky, and they dry quickly to a rubbery texture; I find they’re unsuitable for a large variety of ‘advanced’ projects that interest my sis or me. Silkscreens are not available locally at all, and as for the resin, I was going to buy it only if I could come up with a layer that’s worth the gloss. So I set to work on the project with whatever I could use. (I was actually surprised I could find a jewelry box to work on. πŸ™‚ )

I had to first flip the lid of the box inside out, since it originally had a flat outside and an inset on the inside. However, the reverse is what works for this project.

I managed to paint the box fine — a red-brown base layer, and then some white and brown lightly distressed texture over it. I toyed around with the idea of an image transfer onto the surfaces. (Looks like my latest project is still on my mind! πŸ™‚ ) But I’m still not sure that the transfer will turn out 100% alright. If it turns out patchy, that’ll be the end of this box, since I won’t be able to cleanly wipe the ink away. Instead, I tried using a texture stamp to imprint some nice patterns on the box, but it turned out pretty bad. In the end, I just used the texture stamp on a sheet of clay, and lightly ‘antiqued’ it with white paint post-bake. I also added a clay border to the inset since the textured sheet didn’t really warrant using resin. I finished with a thin layer of Mod podge instead.

My project is nowhere like Teresa’s, but I still like it since it turned out perfect to store our antique jewelry. πŸ™‚ My sis wants to decorate it even more, and I can’t wait to see how she’ll enhance it!