Saturday, April 27, 2013

Stencil Fascination

I really enjoy working with stencils in my art journals.  I've started to collect quite a stash and this post addresses what I've learned about stencils.  

First, you can purchase for really cheap, stencils for use from JoAnn's.  Prices range from $1.29 to $2.99 for the bright yellow type.  And Martha Stewart has some higher priced stencils available.  These are, what I would consider, to be "kitschy" type of stencils.  The traditional type of stencils that have always been available, and there's a place for that type of stencil in my art work.

The second type of stencil that I generally use are cut-outs from my Silhouette machine.  There's a wide range of graphics that lend themselves to stencil work available from the Silhouette online site that I can download, and also I can use my art work in the cutouts as well through the use of the Silhouette studio software.     Still these templates are cut out using card stock, I use good card stock, but still there are limits to how often you can  use the same stencil in your art journal.  I'm going to try using chipboard and other materials to see if I can create more sustainable stencils.

I love using stencils to mask areas on my art journal.  Here's an example of how I use the checkerboard stencil I cut out from Silhouette, the star, the heart, the flower, Today, and the coffee cup.  In the coffee cup's case I used the cutout as both a mask and a die cut on another page.

And finally, there are the stencils that I draw and cutout myself.  Typically, these are stencils that I modified from former paper stencils that I really like and want to use more often on my art journals.  I draw them on mylar or plastic sheets with a Sharpie pen.  Then cut them out using a exacto knife.  The more intricate cuts take a lot longer and I usually save this work while I'm watching television or on the phone.  It gives me something to do with my hands.  But I'd like to find a quicker way to accomplish the same thing, so I'm practicing now with a craft cutting/soldering iron.  My first trial was a bit rough so this will take some practice so I'll keep you informed.

Art Studio 04-26-2013

I have decided that there are a few things I can do to consistently document my experiences learning and practicing new art techniques.

  • As much practical, organize my work space at the end of the day, so that my last activity is either clearly captured, or my next craft project is clearly outlined.
  • Take a photograph of art projects I am in the process of have completed at least every day.
  • Document my experiences working with art techniques or tools, as often as possible.
Last night, I arranged my latest art project, while in process, before I turned out the light in my art studio and went to bed.  I like to dry place collage art on my canvas to test colors and possible locations.  I'm also working on my collage faces so I'm trying to dry test which collage face I'm going to use with this particular canvas.  I've been practicing some different techniques with my collages faces which I'll document later.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Shawna's Wedding Invitations

When my sister told me she was getting married, I was quite happy to volunteer to help with the wedding invitations.  I have so many craft supplies and I thought this would be the perfect time to test many of these products out.  To start, Shawna and Lon came over one weekend and spent some time selecting a card layout from the Silhouette website (card fancy occasion by Samantha Walker), the color of the cardstock, the font they wanted to use on the invite (Harrington), and the actual card layout.  It was a lot fun.  She and Lon are having a small wedding and really she just needed a few cards. :-)  Here's what the final card looked like.

So I learned a lot from this experience.  Let's start with the actual card layout.

If you choose a card layout with a lot of detailed cuts like this one, be prepared.
  • Make sure you use good card stock.  I used Bazzill Cardstock Basics.  Buy in bulk.  In you're in a craft store, you can pick these up for .60 cents a piece, but if you buy in bulk, you can pick up 25 sheets for as little as $9 or 100 sheets for as little as $26 plus shipping.  Shawna selected Majestic Purple Dark and Wisteria for her color scheme.  Be sure you have extra card stock.  You will waste some.
  • Have extra blades and mats on hand.  Change the blade and/or mat as needed.  You will still be able to use the older blades for other types of cuts, but a good clean sharp blade is essential to making detailed cuts with lots of fretwork happen with minimal issues.  Chances are that if you start to notice a lot of tearing or the card not completely cutting out all the way through to the mat, you need to change the blade.
  • Place the textured side of the card stock face down onto the mat.  This will minimize the amount of scratches and make it easier to pull the card up from the mat.
  • Once the cut has been completed, lift the large pieces by hand.  Be careful when lifting so you don't accidentally tear the card.  Use the spatula to clean the smaller pieces.
  • Have a exacto knife with plenty of fresh blades and a craft cutting mat on hand.  This will help you finish cuts that weren't cut all the way through.  Don't be too hard on yourself here.   Cutting a little off the decoration to deal with the tear will not be all that noticeable in the scheme of things when you're sending out cards.  Use your judgment.  This is a diy craft project and you're not using a laser cutter.  You can still do a neat job while getting an overall great appearance.
  • Bend the card along the perforations over the side of a hard stiff surface like the edge of your table or desk.  Use a bone folder to assist with the bend.
  • Test your initial design on cardstock you don't need or don't intend to use.  This is how I got rid of my least favorite colors.  I ran several test versions to make sure that I knew exactly where the card would print as well as the additional accessories.
  • Printing on card stock can be problematic.  I had both laster and ink jet and in both cases, even when feeding by hand, there were occasions when the ink would smudge slightly.  Another reason to have extra stock on hand.
  • Make sure when you're working this project that you have a totally clean area, and clean hands.
Here are some pictures of the work in progress.

As you can see there was a slight tearing of the design when it came out of the cutter.  In most cases, there was only minimal tearing if any at all.  Nothing that I couldn't deal with using an exacto knife.

However in this instance there was more than a little bit of tearing and this told me that it was time to change the blade.

Here are the pieces that were cut as part of the card.

Just used a little glue stick to apply the frame to the invitation and I actually ended up making the frame a little chunkier in the end product since we had so much on the printed invitation which we printed on vellum.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A New Crafting Space

As many of my friends know, I craft all over the house.  I sew in the tiny bedroom, I paint and work on jewelry in the garage, I knit and draw in front of the television, and I art journal in the kitchen.  This past year, I've spent a lot of time in the garage, and the heating bill began to reflect that.  It is awfully hard to heat an uninsulated garage with a cold garage floor.  Finishing the garage became the holy grail for dealing with the issue, but we had so many home projects ahead of this one.  Then a month ago, the young man who does work on our house and our garage, told us he would be starting work fulltime within the next 10 days.  Usually Matty begins work in the spring until late in the fall when building construction tapers off.  With so little time left, it was due or die, and so I made the decision to purchase the building supplies from whatever combination of cash and credit I could manage, and pay Mattie from my tax refund.

Here's what the garage looked like before.

Here's what the garage looks like now.

At face value, the change might not seem that much different unless you were here.  We raised the floor a foot, insulated it, exchanged a garage door for a wall with two windows, and carted out a lot of junk.  We still need to bump out the outside walls another two inches, insulate them, and maybe throw up a coat of paint.  But at the moment, I don't care how long that takes.  I am so happy to have light and warmth, and plenty of work space.  This sanctuary has gone from Teresa's garage to Teresa's Art Studio.