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A few tag backgrounds

Inspired by Tim Holtz’s 12 tags of Christmas, I have been playing with inkpads and embossing powder to create tag backgrounds, which could, of course, be used on any paper.  I like his first year’s12 tags from 2 years ago, as they seem to be simpler and have less ‘bling’!  More arty and abstract…

It was my birthday last week so I treated myself to a few of his tools, like the ink blending tool and the edge distresser. 

I’m not sure what (or whether) I am going to stamp on top of these or embellish them or whether to leave them as examples…

For this one I used his ink blending tool and rubbed blue ink and burgundy ink on to the tag.  Then I sprinkled water over it, left it for about 10 seconds and then dried it with a heat gun.  The edges are distressed with the edge distresser.  I’ll probably rub some more ink into the edges to make them look more tattered.


I started off by painting over this tag entirely with black acrylic paint.  Then I stamped the tree stamp on to it with embossing ink and embossed them with clear embossing powder.  Then I dabbed a couple of different colours of acrylic paint all over and left it to dry.  Ulp.  What had I done?  But then I rubbed an eraser over it (Tim says a wet paper towel in his blog but he used his special paint dabbers so the paint might be different – I just used some Golden acrylics that I already have and it needed a bit more persuasion to reveal the trees underneath but the eraser did it just fine).    I do like the effect of this, the trees sort of poking out ghostily (is that a word?!!) from the background.


Here is a close up.  Good texture, eh?


For this one I rubbed an orange inkpad over the tag and then sprinkled clear embossing powder all over.   Then I flicked some of it off into the rubbish bin to make the speckled look.  Then I heated up the embossing powder and then rubbed a darker colour ink with the ink blending tool over the top.  Actually, Tim’s looks a lot more speckled than mine.  Obviously I need a bit of practice!


This one was meant to  be the same as the above but I used white embossing powder by mistake so I stamped an image over the top.  Nice texture again, though…


For this one I mixed up some distress reinker ink and some Pearl-ex powder with water in a misting bottle and sprayed it, using some stencils as a mask.  I think the image would be clearer if I’d used freezer paper or something which adheres to the paper but I quite like this effect.  Then I inked over the masked bits and did the trick with the water splotches again.  Then I painted one of the stars with clear crackle paint.  Fun!


For this one I was playing with green crackle paint which I then pounced blueish ink over to get in the cracks.  I had a play with my eyelets here too.


I’m sure some of these effects will find their way into my gocco printed images and the Moleskine journals…  And no doubt on to fabric too….

Fun with transfer printing 2 – the finished fabric!

Sorry about the delay in posting the second part of this post.  I had to do a bit of photo editing in Picasa to make the colours more realistic.  For some reason, every time I tried to photograph them they just looked faded and washed out – maybe the synthetic fabrics reflect the light back in some way so the colours don’t come out true.  Or something like that.

I was able to use each piece of transfer painted paper about three times, getting progressively fainter.  I still haven’t printed all the papers as I got diverted by some natural dyeing and printing (those photos are to come!) but here are the ones I have done.  I used a variety of fabrics – some synthetic napkins, lutradur, Evolon (a thin sythetic fabric that feels a bit like very soft felt) and polyester organza.

transfer printed Evolon

This is the piece of Evolon, with a variety of the papers printed on it.  Here are a few close ups:

transfer printed fabric with screenprinted paper

This is the paper with the printed thermofax screen.

transfer printed fabric

This was one of the papers made using the fabric crayons.

lego rubbing, transfer painted fabric

This one had a rubbing over a Lego layout plate and another rubbing over the circles stencil and a wash of dilute transfer paint over that.

transfer painted fabric

This is the rubbing over the plastic grid.

transfer painted fabric

Another screenprinted one.  I ironed the paper twice, once at a 90 degree angle to the other.

transfer printed lutradur

This is the lutradur printed with the paper rubbed over the letterpress type.  This could be layered over something as the lutradur is quite translucent.

Those seem to be the only ones I’ve done so far.  More to come!  But first, lots of natural dyed or painted stuff…

Happy New Year – and Bloggers Meet!

Happy New Year to you all!  I don’t know where the last week went, I seem to have been sleeping a lot; we went up to Stoke to see my parents and on Monday,  I had a lovely day because two people who I have known online for several years now came to visit me. 

Sara Lechner from Austria, who blogs at The Fabric of Meditation, was visiting her daughter in North Wales, and she had a three hour train journey to see me!  Wales may be a small place, but it takes a long time to travel from north to south… And Sue Krekorian of The Magic Armchair Traveller came to join us.  We had a lovely time chatting, visiting a local cafe for lunch and wandering round Newport’s shops, chatting again… and having the obligatory photo in my studio!   DS2 kindly obliged and took this photo of the three of us:

bloggers meet up!

While I was trying to upload that photo, Live Writer decided it wanted to upload another one and it’s such a nice one that I decided to let it stay…. This is one of the leaves of my avocado plant.  I thought the veins with the browning edges makes for a very interesting photo:

brown edged avocado leaf

While we were in Stoke we saw this ferris wheel which is in the grounds of Trentham Gardens factory shopping village (I think it’s called something else but since it was Trentham Gardens when I grew up, that is what it will forever be in my mind).  I had my first summer job there, working as a cashier in the open air swimming pool.  Sadly, the said swimming pool was demolished some time ago…

ferris wheel in Trentham Gardens

I thought the centre of it would make a good Gocco screen…. (without Stoke City football club’s sponsorship medallion … or maybe even with it)

centre of ferris wheel in Stoke

I wonder what 2009 will bring?  DH is going to India again later this month so I’m planning to do some gelatine plate monoprinting and some more screenprinting while he’s away.  So look out for lots of fabric photos.    I meant to do a blog post about 2008 and what had happened in it but time somehow flew away from me.    I think I will remember it for the Gocco and for getting involved in Etsy.  And for my two magazine articles in CTDG.    And for those of you who subscribe to Fibre and Stitch, look out for the January issue because I’ve got an article in there too!  Here’s a bit of a teaser…


Fun with shrink plastic

I bought a pack of postcard sized shrink plastic from Hobbycraft a few years ago, thinking the kids might like to play with it.   But there was a distinct lack of interest so I appropriated it myself.  And with the advent of the Gocco, the postcard sized pieces were just the right size.  As you know, when I start printing anything that doesn’t run out of the way is a candidate and these were no exception.

Here is a piece with my crow stamped on it:

crow gocco stamped on shrink plastic 

For the last few months, however, I’ve just had these pieces of plastic sitting there gradually getting used up, and hadn’t got round to shrinking them.  So last week I remedied that.  It was a bit of a learning curve – I started off with the heat gun but this didn’t give much control and the pieces ended up a bit knobbly and occasionally bits stuck to each other, so I did the rest in the oven.    Here they are all together:

shrink plastic pieces

I had punched holes in some of them to begin with – one, two, or lots.  And I rounded off most of the corners.    I did try punching shapes with a punch but that particular one stuck in the punch and cracked when I tried to release it. 

rouen cathedral with angel - shrink plastic

I like these of Rouen Cathedral and stamped angel… in reverse!  I didn’t realise that the shrink plastic was clear and the side you looked at was the reverse of the side you stamp.  But it doesn’t matter. 


I stamped this crow and then rubbed a yellow – yes, yellow – stamp pad around the outside.


And this one is my ‘Newport houses’ print, none the worse for being in reverse!  I did this with the heat gun as you can probably tell.  On reflection, I quite like the irregularities of shrinking with a heat gun.  The finished pieces, by the way, are about 1″x1.5″ so they did shrink a LOT – having started out at 4″x6″.  I might put one or two for sale on Etsy – they might make good embellishments for journals or small quilts or mixed media pieces.    What do you think?

Trees finished!

The two trees are finally finished! I free machine stitched them, although my machine didn’t like the xpandaprint and I broke one needle. Maybe I should have stabilized them a bit better. Anyway, they’re done. Since I took these photos I trimmed the background fabric a bit at the top so that it blends more with the outline of the leaves.

tree from previous post with lots of leaves and stitching on it

another tree

There are a couple of blackbirds making a nest somewhere in the garden – I disturbed Mrs Blackbird with a clump of garden debris in her mouth and Mr Blackbird was hovering anxiously around. Plenty of debris in our garden – I don’t believe in neat and tidy gardens. Leave plenty for the wildlife. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Progress of trees!

This is what one of the trees looked like when I heated it. I ironed it first from the back, carefully ensuring it didn’t get too distorted and remained fairly flat as a whole, then I used a heatgun from the front to bring it up a bit more.

white tree emerging from green fabric

I then painted it with acrylic paint diluted with water and rubbed some of it off.

brown tree now!

I then cut it out and cut out something that looks vaguely like clumps of leaves. These have Bondaweb on the back but I haven’t ironed them down yet – I need to do several more first. And trim the fabric at the top so it looks more like part of the tree…

trees cut out from fabric with leaves

I also heated the rocks – now they are standing out more from the fabric and are more visible.

white rocks or will be when I've finished with them!

I painted one with the dilute paint mixture and wiped it off so you can see the glitter underneath. It brings out the texture in the xpandaprint. (The black shadow is the paint on the fabric but this will be cut off eventually).

painted rock

Xpandaprint play!

Well, I was going to get on with couching threads around my collage and the blue one is sitting by my sewing machine with a bundle of matching threads as I type. But on Sunday someone at church asked me to make a tree for an Easter collage – they started doing one with the kids at their youth group but didn’t realise they weren’t meeting this week so they need to make it themselves. So collages and knitting duly abandoned, I dug out my notes for the Elements in Fabric course I did at Quilt University last year. And I dug out my Xpandaprint to add texture to the trunk and branches and painted a tree on a piece of background fabric. Here it is, waiting to be expanded:

white tree on greeny reddy background fabric

The Xpandaprint doesn’t keep for ever and it was getting a bit gungy so of course I had to finish the jar – no point in letting it hang around for a few more months and go to waste! Of course not. So I painted some rocks in case I ever start the earth piece (I completed the water, air and fire ones but ran out of steam before I got to earth). Here they are, sprinkled with fine glitter and Jacquard mica powder. It’s a bit hard to see the Xpandaprint because they are on white fabric.

small pieces of fabric with invisible xpandaprint and sprinkles of glitter and colour

To link it up to the Symbols course I thought I’d print a few with a couple of the blocks I made. Here is one of them, on orange acrylic felt (I thought I could do a bit of melting and distorting later). It prints really well on to felt.

white xpandaprint printed on orange felt

Here it is expanded. I have left the other things to dry because the instructions say to (to avoid puffing them up too much, I think) but I expanded this one straight away.

puffed up xpandaprint on orange felt.

Next step is to heat the tree and rocks to expand them, paint them and add highlights with Markals.

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