December 26, 2015

Year-End Sale at Craftsy


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Take advantage of Craftsy's end-of-year clearance sale to get amazing deals on fabric, yarn, baking supplies, paper arts supplies and more for a limited time.


The popular stuff goes fast, so grab the deals now before they run out!

December 14, 2015

Passion Flower Gelli Print


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I recently made a mixed media print of Passion Flowers, using a Gelli print background.

Here's what I did, step by step.

There is a materials list at the bottom of this post.

First, I brayered Apple Barrel Bright Yellow acrylic craft paint (20513E) onto my 8" x 10" Gelli plate, using a 6" soft brayer. I pulled a print, using white 8 1/2" x 11" cardstock.
While waiting a couple minutes for the yellow paint to dry, I cleaned the Gelli plate with a damp paper towel, blotted it dry, applied two green paints, and mixed them on the plate. The colors were Vinyard Green by Plaid (20755) and Lime Tree by Apple Barrel (21476E).

I placed fabric "silk" leaves on the wet paint, placed a regular sheet of white paper over it and rubbed to remove the background paint.

I repeated this process several times, placing the leaves in different positions. Remember when deciding placement, that you will be flipping the already-printed paper over and the sides will be reversed left to right - a mirror image.

(Note to self and any others who are directionally challenged: when you see that empty spot on the left side of your previous print layer, fill it by putting something on the right.)



This is one of the pulls to remove the green paint in the background. There was one of these for each trio of leaves. I only wanted the paint that was under the leaves, to add to the yellow background with its previously printed leaves.

I used a separate sheet for each of these pulls, but you can use the same one for each pull. I think the leaf edges are crisper when using a clean sheet, but experimenting is fun and can reveal great surprises!
Once I had the background done to my satisfaction, I started making the Passion Flowers. I brayered Purple Pansy by Apple Barrel (21488E) onto my 3" x 5" Gelli plate and used it as a stamp pad for my handmade foam plate stamp.

Rather than stamping directly onto the yellow/leafy background, I stamped onto a sheet of Orchid color printer paper, cut out the flowers by hand, and Collage Pauged (matte) them onto the background. I did this because 1) I did not want to risk spoiling my previous work with a bad stamping; and 2) had I stamped directly some of the green and yellow background would have shown through all the areas that are indented on the stamp.
This is my handmade Passion Flower stamp. I started with a printout, which I glued (light application of glue stick) to a piece of foam plate. I went over the marks with a dull pencil or some similar type object, removed the paper, went over the lines again to deepen them, then cut it out with an exacto knife along the indented edges.

On the back I made a painter's tape "handle" to make it easier to pull off the Gelli plate. It is also helpful for picking up and moving the stamp around the Gelli plate to pick up more paint, and makes it easy to handle and turn over to check that it's everywhere you want it. And for lifting it off the printed surface without paint smears!


These are the artificial leaves I used, the way they were laid out for the first leaf pull. I try to remember to put the vein side down for added texture.
This is the vein side, with paint from the printings. They're a little stiffer than before I got paint on them, but still safe for using again on the Gelli plate. Washing would make the edges fray.

Even when I slipped up and printed a couple with this side up I still got good texture, and it added a little variety.
Here again is the final print. I used Collage Pauge to affix the flowers to the background, first applying some with a narrow foam brush to the background spot where a flower would go, then to the back of the flower, placed it down and smoothed it with the brush, and added more Collage Pauge over it.

After all the flowers were added, I added Collage Pauge to the entire front. It dries pretty quickly, but I was about to pack it up and mail it, so I carefully used a heat gun to make sure it was completely dry.

It had warped a bit from the Collage Pauge, so I placed a sheet of non-stick parchment paper over it, and placed to heavy boxes of deli paper side by side over that. In a few minutes it was flat again. I mailed it with a piece of the parchment paper over it, just to be sure the print did not stick to the envelope it was in.

Supplies used:
  • 8" x 10" Gelli Arts plate
  • 3" x 5" Gelli Arts plate
  • Buy Gelli plates in many sizes online from Gelli Arts, Amazon.com, and some art supply shops (Blick, Utrect, Dharma, etc.)
    [Available in the UK at Clarity Stamp.]
  • 6" soft brayer (Speedball) at Amazon
  • 4" soft brayer (Speedball) at Amazon
  • Georgia-Pacific Premium White Cardstock (110#, 92 Bright) from WalMart
  • Orchid Relay Plus paper by Springhill (50820, 20#, 10M weight) - 20 years old! - This link is for their current item, which may not be exactly the same.
  • Foam dinner plate for flower stamp
  • X-Acto knife
  • Acrylic craft paints, described above. I got mine at WalMart.
  • "Silk" leaves I've had hanging around too long to remember the source. 
  • Dixie Kabnet Dry Wax Paper at Amazon (not used for printing this project, though I do use them for Gelli prints - I used the two boxes of 500 sheets to flatten the final image, after covering it with a piece of non-stick parchment paper.
More info and tutorials:
Gelli Arts' YouTube Channel
Gelli Arts' Blog
Barbara Gray / Clarity Stamp YouTube Videos
Carla Sonheim's Self Study Class



November 9, 2015

Selling Digital Art on Etsy


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Did you know you can sell your art as digital images on Etsy? If you're good a photographing or scanning your artwork then you can do it! I'll start with tips on capturing your images, then move on to uploading and other Etsy info.

Get 40 free listings when you open a new Etsy shop! ($8 value)

Scanning Tips

Start by scanning your piece at high resolution. 300 dpi is generally sufficient without making the file size too large. You may need to adjust in Photoshop or a similar program, and you can also manipulate the image artistically for added pop, softness, deliberate color shifts, adding text, etc.

A good image will also be dust-free. Clean your scanner plate and touch up any dust spots, zooming in to make sure you get them all.

Metallic/reflective paints are not likely to scan well. They won't show their true beauty, looking rather flat, or they may cause glare and overblown highlights.

Become familiar with the settings in your scanner software. You can make many adjustments that can improve the quality of the scan. Color images should be scanned as 24-bit color, photo (not document), reflective (not film), and turn descreening off unless you are scanning a magazine or newspaper. Unsharp Mask is a confusing name for a way to sharpen your image - just be sure not to overdo it! Set the document size, and ALSO make sure to preview the image and adjust the area that will be scanned, if needed. (If you are scanning several prints, all the same size, and placed in the same location on the scanner platform, you don't need to preview each time, as long as the placement is precise and there is some white space to crop or adjust the tilt. Papers love to move when you let go and put the cover down. And DO put the cover down each time! It helps keep your image flat and can affect exposure if left open.)


Photography Tips

You don't necessarily need an expensive, fancy camera. Try using what you have first, including a point and shoot or the camera in your phone. If you're getting distortion, set to highest quality and move a bit farther away. Crop the unwanted area in post-processing.

Before you start shooting, be sure to check your settings for image size/quality, and color balance. Take some test shots to make sure you're getting it right. Look at them on your computer screen. It's harder to fix images than it is to get them right in the first place. Note that some colors may be harder to capture accurately than others, and most camera brands have some color bias.

A good image will be evenly lit. Use equal strength/color temperature lights on both sides, or a reflector on the side opposite the light source. Indirect sunlight is good, and isn't it hilarious that even though the light has travelled 93 million miles to arrive at our planet, it dims noticeably as it goes a few inches across the page!

Your image needs to be flat when being photographed. If there is sufficient white space around it, you can tape the edges to a flat surface. Be careful when removing the tape so you don't damage your original. You could also use a mounting spray made for artwork, and permanently or temporarily adhere it to a mounting board or other surface.

Metallic paints can be a problem with photos, too. If you take the photo at an angle that shows their beautiful reflection, your artwork is distorted by the perspective. You may be able to adjust the perspective in post-processing (Photoshop, etc.) but be attentive to horizontal/vertical proportions and quality loss. Shooting at a higher quality than what is needed for the final image will give you more leeway to adjust without quality loss.

Obviously, if your artwork is 3D you will need to photograph rather than scan.

Do not use flash.

Do not shoot an image through glass, but if you must, make sure it is scrupulously clean, and use a polarizer filter to minimize or remove reflections - but keep in mind, polarizers do not affect metallic reflections. (Important: Digital cameras need "circular polarizer" filters, which work differently than regular polarizers made for film cameras.) The filter will lower the amount of light entering the lens, so you will need a longer exposure.

If your artwork is reflective (and even if it's not, but more so if it is) be extra attentive to the color of the clothing you are wearing and colors in the surrounding area. White is usually best. And make sure you can't be seen in your artwork, unless that is your intention.

The longer your lens, the longer your exposure will need to be, and the greater likelihood for camera shake blurring your photos. Using a tripod allows longer exposures without camera shake.

On the other hand, a lens with too wide an angle can distort your image. If that's all you have, increase the photo size/quality setting in your camera in excess of what you need, and stand back a bit. You'll get a flatter image and can crop without quality loss. Your camera may have an automatic distortion control setting. Use it if it helps!


Image Formats to Upload

Save in PNG and JPG formats for the downloader's convenience. PNG images are full quality, but some customers will not have the right software to use them. JPG images are lossy, PNG images are not. In other words, PNGs are pixel for pixel accurate representations of what was scanned or photographed. JPGs are compressed images, and some information will be lost. Save JPGs at the highest percentage/quality available.


Uploading Images

Start a new listing, or copy a similar one and make appropriate changes. You can upload up to 5 images in JPG or PNG format. Why 5 images when there are only 2 formats? Well, you can upload images in different sizes, such as 5x7 and 8x10, and set different prices for each.

If selling an unlimited number of an image, you can set the number available to 1, and select auto renew. It will automatically relist when sold, and you will be charged the 20 cent listing/renewal fee each time.

If you are selling a limited edition of an image, set that number and turn off auto renew. The listing will auto renew only until that number is sold, and Etsy will count down for you and display the current number available until all are sold.

You are only required to have image to be shown on Etsy with your listing (those 5 image spaces at the top of the listing are for shopping images, not download images, to give the customer an idea of what you are selling.) However, you can also include up to four additional images that show image details, display examples such as a framed image, or an image being used in a craft. Make it clear in your listing that you are selling a digital image only, that no items will be sent to the buyer, and that display/use suggestions are ideas, not part of the purchase.


Helpful links:

How to Use and Buy Polarizer Filters
http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-use-and-buy-polarizing-filters/

Listing a Digital Item - Etsy Guide (official)
https://www.etsy.com/help/article/3850

October 28, 2015

Gelli Prints and Ideas


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Setup with 3x5" Gelli plate.
I've been having lots of fun with my Gelli Arts printing plates. I have 3 sizes: 3x5, 4" round, and 8x10. Mostly I use the 3x5 plate, because I'm still fairly new to this, it's convenient (and cheap) to use 4x6 blank index cards, and, of course, it uses less paint. I have a Speedball 6" soft brayer for my 8x10 plate, but I use a 2 1/4" hard brayer I've had hanging around, unused, for years, on my smaller plates.


One of the things I'm enjoying about this new-for-me artform is that I am incorporating so many items I've been holding onto: numerous bottles of craft paint, rubber stamps, odd bits that are great for removing shapes of paint from the plate. Even the first index cards I used was an unopened purchase from a thrift store a couple or three years ago. It's like all these things have just been waiting for the right time to shine!

My seldom-used Sizzix Big Shot, a gift from my daughter, was brought into play for making die-cut masks. (Some of smaller dies I'd purchased had never even been opened!) Used Tyvek postal envelopes, which I'd accumulated for bead-making for my Etsy shop, were cut up to make masks. Tyvek is great because it is easy to cut, durable, and very thin. I've found a couple of references to cutting Tyvek on a Cricut, so I'll soon be trying that out too. (I recently purchased my first Cricut machine, a Cricut Explorer, especially for cutting my own stencils.) I've even made some masks with the hot glue gun and bag of glue (now gone) that I got several years ago and used maybe twice.

So, back to the Gelli plate and how much fun I'm having with it. I'll start with some more "overlap" items. Previously I mentioned using materials I'd had sitting about for use in other crafts. Now, I've happily discovered how useful the larger 8x10" Gelli prints are as backgrounds for my Etsy photos! Here are some images I shot recently:

The colors and style of this background work well with these sari silk earrings I made.


This orange and metallic gold Gelli print really compliments the new style of my popular Lucky 13 necklace.


This pair of earrings isn't in my Etsy shop yet, but don't they look gorgeous on my swirly stenciled Gelli print? (Leafy Swirl Stencil 9 x 11 inch stencil purchased at Claritystamp.)


Just a few of the many, many prints I've made on my 3x5" Gelli plate (It's addictive!):

One of my very first Gelli prints.

A collage of heart prints, which used a Sizzix die-cut heart as mask.

Made using real plant parts!

Beauty Berry leaf used as mask and texture by printing with leaf in place, then carefully pulling up all but top of index card (left side in this photo) to remove leaf from plate and pressing index card down again, so it is still in the same place.


Here are some stencils I designed. Click each thumbnail to access the full-size PNG image, then right click it > View Image, then right click again > Save Image.)* On my monitor, the first clicked image looks black with a dark gray background. When I click View Image the background becomes white. Neither one is the actual background color, which is transparent. (The black part is the part that will be cut out - at least that's how my Cricut works.)

*For personal use, and may be used in your commercial** artistic works (credit/link appreciated but not required). **I do not own the fonts, so cannot grant commercial use for these. They are named; check rights usage if including in commercial works. None of my stencils may be sold as-is, digitally or physically, or shared by others as online files. (And please, if you do link, link to this page, not to the images themselves!)

Sybil Green font alphabet for 3x5" stencil (PNG file)



Stencil std font alphabet for 3x5" stencil (PNG file)



Montez font alphabet for 3x5" stencil (PNG file)



8x11" circle grid for stencil (PNG file)



Diamond grid for 8.5x11" stencil (PNG file)



8x10" Fancy Diamond grid for stencil (PNG file)



8" round diamond circle (PNG file)

Well, that's all for this post. Come back again soon to see what's new. (And thanks for reading all the way to the end!)

-Randi


P.S about comments:
You are welcome to leave a comment. All comments are moderated and will not appear until approved. (Spam will be deleted, not shown, and only links I deem useful will be posted.)

October 27, 2015

Coloring Books for Adults


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Adult Coloring Book Category

Relax and have fun coloring, in an artistic grown-up way! Begin with lovely pre-made artwork, and add your own color style. The Color Art series consists of 9 Zen-style adult coloring books, each with 24 artworks on high-quality paper, ready for you to color with colored pencil, markers, crayons, etc.

There are also several Design Originals coloring books, and each has 30 lovely artworks for you to color. My personal favorite is the Happy Camper book. You may also like Tangle Wood, which features 75 Zentangle-style woodland theme artworks for you to color.

Click the image above to order from Leisure Arts.