Inspiration Station: Art Journal Page

My sister and I have started a theme-inspired creativity session between us this year – our ‘Inspiration Station’ – one of us picks a theme of the month, and each of us makes something inspired by the theme in any media we fancy. Last month, it was my turn to pick, and I had just seen some incredible handmade bowls featuring electroformed crystals by Sabri Ben-Achour on Colossal – so I chose this as our inspiration.

Inspiration Station: Jan inspiration - Ceramic+Crystal Bowls by Sabri Ben-Achour

Inspiration Station: Jan inspiration – Ceramic+Crystal Bowls by Sabri Ben-Achour, showcased at Colossal

My creative session included a little bit of salt painting with watercolors, a little bit of gel printing, and a little bit of doodling. I started out with the salt painting first, and then added the gel printing when I felt it would complement it. I’ve finally collected my random doodles and gel printed sheets into an art journal, and I’d thought I’d use this as a cover page. When I was done, I didn’t feel it turned out cover-worthy, and it has now joined the other pages in the journal.

Art Journal page inspired by Ceramic+Crystal Bowls

The salt painting: I painted the top left half of the sheet in two shades of blue watercolors, and while the paint was drying, I sprinkled table salt at various spots. Once dry, I gently brushed away the salt, leaving beautiful patterns that remind me of the crystals in the inspiration.

The gel printing: This involved multiple prints. First, one gel print using brown acrylics at bottom right, with crumpled plastic and a ‘Faceted’ stamp providing textures reminiscent of the crackled ceramics. (I should probably use an actual crackled finish for this, which I’ll try next time.) For the central diagonal strip, I cut out a rectangular stencil-mask pair from paper, and gel-printed white on the strip and a bit of black around it. I’d intended to hand-letter the ‘cover title’ within the strip, which was dropped later since this is not a cover, and I didn’t want to write something random.

The doodling: The white on the strip turned out very patchy (since some of our paints seem to be drying out and thickening) so I decided to doodle around the patches with a silver gel pen. Impressed, I continued to doodle with other colors at other places too. I drew sharp shapes and round ones to symbolize the harmony between crystal and ceramic in Ben-Achour’s work. To add some additional interest, I scratched around at parts of the edges with a yellow gel pen to give a greenish tinge to the blues and browns.

Art Journal page details - inspired by Ceramic+Crystal Bowls

The details in the blue and the brown, and the oh-so-difficult-to-photograph silver!

 

I liked both the process and the results of this project much better than my attempts at plain gel printing. I think I may have found what works for me!

Sis has made a texture-filled flowery card that somehow reminds me of mini-gardens in hanging baskets and in slotted containers – do take a look!

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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. 🙂

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. 🙂 If I keep at the gel printing, I’ll probably start an art journal instead of picking up random pieces of paper.

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! 🙂