Butterfly art journal page

My art journal is a place where I experiment with new techniques and mediums. It’s also a place for taking ideas further after making a card or creating a gel print. For this butterfly themed page I experimented with layering. I don’t find layering easy so it is a good technique to be playing with in my journal. You can’t see all the layers clearly on this page but there are layers of rice paper under gesso as well as on top of it.

Another technique which I am just beginning to play with is sewing on cards and mixed media pieces. Rachel Greig from Darkroom Door is a master at it and provided loads of inspiration during her recent Artful August challenge. I have tried sewing on paper with my precious Pfaff sewing machine but it didn’t like it so a few weeks ago I bought a second hand machine especially for sewing heavy and unusual materials. The machine is an old one but it is very sturdy and hums along beautifully.

I began by tearing up a large gel print done on rice paper. It featured diamonds on one side and stars on the other, both patterns made with large Darkroom Door stencils. The colour scheme was blues, reds and gold. I glued the torn pieces around the edges with gel medium then painted over them with diluted gesso. After the gesso dried I stamped a few butterflies then added more gesso over the top.

I spritzed over the pages with a faded jeans and broken china distress sprays, only enough to add a bit of speckle here and there, not so much as to cover the colour and pattern underneath. I stamped more butterflies from the DD butterflies set in colours similar to those in my gel print patches.

Once the stamping was done I sewed borders around two pieces of gel printed rice paper then glued them on the pages. I stamped, cut out and glued down sentiments from the DD wildflowers vol 1 stamp set.

Oh, and I stamped the DD French script stamp a couple of times on each page in gold to co-ordinate with the gold on the gel prints. Not a ton of layering or sewing but I am learning how to paint over background layers just enough to make them fade but not so much that they disappear. I realise looking at these photos that the gel print on the left looks like a pocket… it’s not but that’s an idea for another page.

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Artful August Home Journal page

The fun and inspiration continues in Rachel Greig’s Artful August challenge. I am so impressed and inspired by what I have seen. Rachel’s own art has been beautiful and unique every single day. As I mentioned in my last post I have not participated every day but I have definitely enjoyed the times I have followed the prompts. Today’s prompt is ‘Home’ and I decided to make an art journal page of a street.

Make sure you read to the end of this post to find out the winner of Summer Giveaway I hosted with the Foiled Fox.

None of these quirky houses look anything like my home but I have had thirteen different homes over the years so I wasn’t going for realism, instead I wanted to create more of a neighbourhood feel. Once again I cut up gel prints to make the houses, trees and flowers. I particularly like the gel print trees. The one on the left was printed with bubble wrap and the one on the right features texture from three different stencils which ended up giving me leaves and a branch to hang a swing on.

I began by masking the top and bottom edges then used blending brushes to fill the sky with blue distress inks and the road with black soot ink. I cut all the shapes by hand not worrying about perspective or scale and glued them on with multi matte medium. Once the glue dried I drew around all the edges and added detail with with a black ultrafine sharpie. I added markings to the road with a white sharpie paint pen.

Thank you to everyone who entered the Summer Giveaway by telling us your favourite summer activity. I enjoyed reading about beach walks, mountain hikes, picnics, porches and time spent with friends. I hope you are all still enjoying those pastimes. Summer is not over yet! Congratulations to Stephanie Clapper, check your email for your gift certificate to the wonderful Foiled Fox online store.

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Honeycomb & Checkered

New stencils from Darkroom Door means new gel prints in my stack! I used greens, teal, beige and gold paints to print with the new honeycomb and checkerboard stencils. For the second card I used a mix of blue, beige, gold and coral paint for a rich print.

I used the stencil printing method demonstrated in this video and worked on printer paper with a 6″x6″ gel press.

After completing a fresh stack of gel prints I chose these two because of the beautiful mix of colours and textures. I pulled out Darkroom Door feather and wildflower stamps and stamped them over the top of the prints. I decided to emboss using co-ordinating versafine inks to make the images stand up a little over the print.

I chose sentiments from the DD sentiment strip stamp and embossed them to pop up over the stamped and printed panels.

Ever since I started gel printing with stencils I can’t get enough of the intricate detailed ones. These two new ones from Darkroom Door are very cool and create such great backgrounds!

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Artful August Circle Journal Page

Rachel Greig from Darkroom Door is hosting ‘Artful August’, a challenge to make something arty each day in August. She has provided 31 prompts and I am going to play along as often as I can. Circles was the prompt yesterday so I cut circles from a just few of the many gel print panels I have piling up. I used only gelprints done on rice paper and they cut and adhered very easily.

Once I had cut circles in different sizes from different gel printed panels I stamped flower silhouettes from several Darkroom Door sets. Before gluing the circles to the pages I painted the pages with a base of gesso + light brown paint and added some scribbly circles by tracing inside circle dies.

I glued the printed, stamped circles with matte medium both on the back of the paper and over the top to seal it. To add a bit more interest around the circles I blended antique linen ink through a homemade paper stencil.

The prompts in the challenge are very open and participants are encouraged to interpret them in any way and with any medium. If you are on instagram you can view the submissions by searching for #artfulaugust or #rachelgreigartfulaugustchallenge

As I participate in the challenge I will have simple experiments along with some completed projects like this one. The fun is simply playing with the prompts. In making today’s journal pages I was very happy to use some pretty scraps, experiments and clean up pages from gel printing sessions. There are always too many to turn into cards but each one has a unique texture and colour mix.

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Enjoy the Journey Journal page

This week I have shared a gel plate video and a series of cards made with prints and leftovers from that gel printing session. If you look closely at this journal page you will see a couple more prints put to use.

The Darkroom Door set, Nomad, recently arrived in my mailbox and the main reason I chose it was the pile of suitcases. I own one old suitcase which belonged to my grandmother; it houses the ‘dress up’ collection. It is not unlike the third one in the left hand stack. The stamp set also has a single suitcase, some passport stamps and two sentiments, one included on this page.

To add even more vintage-ness to the vintage suitcases I stamped them on a grid and striped prints from the gel printing session. I used corrugated cardboard to make the patterns on the gel plate originally. I stamped the suitcases in archival inks then added extra colour with distress inks and gel pens. To create the background I smooshed blueprint sketch distress inks on a piece of acetate, spritzed water over the ink then transferred it to the masked journal pages. With the blue protected I blended a brown base, also with distress inks. Over the top of the inking I added some impressions with the DD world map and scratches background stamps. To balance the suitcases I added the vintage car and sentiment on the right hand side.

Maybe these pages came from my longing to be out and about seeing new and old places, or a longing to be poking around antique and thrift stores. The latter will probably happen before the former.

Are you longing for a trip somewhere? Are you thinking near or far?

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Landscapes from leftovers

In my recent gel printing video I kept a piece of heavy weight paper off to the side for cleaning my brayer. I turned it around half way through the printing session so it ended up browns on one side and blue/grey/yellow on the other.

The colour and texture was too yummy to waste so I cut two rectangles which both spanned the centre or ‘horizon’ line of the large sheet. Because the panel above has a dark sky I punched a circle moon from another area and made it a night scene with the addition of black silhouette trees die-cut with the PB ‘into the woods’ die.

Not only is there plenty of visual texture in these panels the brayered paper is also very rough to touch. There is no trick to making these papers; I definitely don’t keep the clean up sheets every time but I find if I work with the same colours for a while and flip the sheet around when it has plenty of paint on it the combination of colour and texture can be beautiful.

The second card is more of a late afternoon scene. The colour of the sun is similar to what we saw two days ago when the sky was hazy due to bushfires in northwestern Ontario.

The trees blend into the landscape somewhat as there is not a lot of contrast between the die cuts and the base. I used the PB ‘tall trees’ dies and cut them from the left over edges of the panel.

This is not the first time I’ve used scraps and scratch paper for cards and journal pages. This cityscape is made from gel printing masks and two of these cards are from a clean up sheet. Today I glued a large ‘clean up’ sheet into my art journal as a background for a future page. I don’t know what to do with it yet but I liked it too much to toss it away.

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Gel print backgrounds – stripes and grid

Yesterday I posted a gel printing video where I used both an egg carton and a piece of corrugated cardboard to add texture to my prints. I used a couple of the corrugated cardboard prints to make today’s cards.

You can see how I printed this panel in the video. To turn it into a card I used a couple of new stamps from Penny Black. I stamped the mountain stamp five times in browns and blue then inked the rushes with a brown and a blue ink. I love the way it looks like a sunset or sunrise because of the background print. It wasn’t something I tried to create but a possibility I saw when looking at the prints.

The print below was made with the same piece of corrugated cardboard pressed down on the gel press twice to create a grid pattern. You can see the process in yesterday’s video. I decided to stamp flowers on it as an experiment. I knew it might be too much pattern but I wanted to try. I stamped and embossed the Penny Black ‘companions’ stamp in versafine clair nocturne ink and it looked bold just as an outline.

By painting inside the flowers I was able to separate them from the background enough to make them a feature not a competitor with the very busy grid pattern. I used a couple of layers of pearlescent paint on the flowers but quite diluted pearlescent black on the leaves and jug.

Tell me what ‘recycled’ items you have used for gel printing. I am keen to print with ‘all the things’! To be honest gel printing is top of my list of techniques right now. I hope you enjoyed the two recent gel printing videos. I will definitely make more. Tomorrow I have a couple of cards made from the piece of cardstock I used to clean my brayer. I showed a glimpse of it at the end of the video.

See you soon.

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Gel Printing with recycled cardboard

I posted a video last week featuring gel prints with stencils. In today’s technique video I use cardboard found at home. One piece was the packaging for eggs and the other a piece of corrugated cardboard.

The huge snowballs falling in the card above were printed using the large circles on the egg carton. I could have done more on the gel plate with extra colour or texture but I kept it simple which works well behind the more intricate sleigh. You can see my process in the video below.

The card below also features a gel print background made with an egg carton but I pulled two prints on the one panel both with green and white paint and egg carton circles.

The card below also features a gel print background made with an egg carton but I pulled two prints on the one panel both with green and white paint and egg carton circles. I stamped leaves from the Darkroom Door stamp set, ‘carved leaves vol 1’ over the bokeh-like circle background. To get the right tones of green in the stamping I used both shady lane and rain forest versafine clair inks one over the top of the other. The sentiment is from the ‘happy birthday’ sentiment strip.

In the video I also made prints with a piece of corrugated cardboard pressing it down on the gel press once for a striped pattern and twice for a grid pattern. I’ve turned a couple of those prints into cards which will be on the blog tomorrow. I hope you try gel printing with some recycling you find at your place. See you soon.

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Winter Garden art journal page

It’s been a while since I worked in my book themed art journal. As I looked over a table covered in gel prints I settled on two blue ones filled with pattern and paint. Both were on rice paper and sized 6″x6″ which is not big enough to cover the whole journal page. I decided to tear a rough edge on the bottom and glue the panels with space above and below.

The inspiration for the page is Kristin Hannah’s novel ‘Winter Garden’. I used Darkroom Door floral stamps to decorated the gel prints with blue flowers then added more stamping to the blue area and the white space at the bottom of the page.

Picking from a few themes in the book I stamped trees to represent the orchard, a suitcase to represent the escape from Leningrad, books from the library where the main character worked. I also used number, correspondence and snowflake stamps to complete the collage.

I am always in two minds about adding words to my pages and this time was no exception. Rather than a quote I just added the name of the novel and author. I used pigment and archival inks for all the stamping, white gesso around the edges and white ink and embossing powder to add the snowflake borders.

Have you read any Kristin Hannah? My book club considers ‘The Nightingale’ our best choice so far! We are always searching for good book club reads; if you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments.

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Gel Printing with stencils + video

In recent gel printing sessions I have used some of my intricate stencils from Paper Rose Studio. This stencil, ‘little swirls‘ makes a particularly beautiful background. I’ve been printing on a 6″x6″ gel plate with a 6″x6″ stencil but I cut the print down to make a 4¼” x 5½” card.

I used stamps from Darkroom Door’s nature walk , butterflies and happy birthday sets. (all linked at the end of the post). The process for making this type of print is shown in the video below.

After any gel printing session I usually have quite a pile of prints, some become cards but I am hoping to use more in my art journal. I have to be a bit more adventurous in tearing and layering and turning them into more than just a patterned print.

The making of the background above is included in the video. To turn it into a birthday card I stamped ‘have fun’ directly on the print then popped up a sentiment strip on top. The words are stamped in Gina K obsidian amalgam ink using the Pink Fresh Studio ‘Heather’ lowercase alphabet set.

The making of the background below is also part of the video and you can see the mustard paint beaded on the surface of the gel plate making an allover pattern when printed. I didn’t necessarily want the beading but was happy when it ended up uniform. Paints of different brands perform differently on the gel press so experimentation is necessary to work out how much paint and which brands will give you the results you want.

I turned this background into another birthday card by embossing a car from the Darkroom Door Classic Cars vol 1 set along with a sentiment from the same set plus one from the Happy Birthday set.

I also filmed some gel printing with a few textured surfaces from the recycling box; I’ll be sharing that video soon.

I’d love to hear how you use your gel prints; I’m always open to ideas.

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