Thursday, 15 December 2016

Collograph 2 - Monoprinting with our plates

Sorry it’s taken so long to get this post onto the blog. Back in September we made Collograph Printing Plates (see the September posting below) and in October we used the plates to make mono prints.

We learned several things in our October session, especially the items used to collage the printing plates themselves and how each behaved when printing with acrylic or fabric paints or the Speedball™ printing ink.

Without a doubt, the simpler the collage, i.e. a single layer of cereal box cardboard or a thin crocheted doily, the better the mono print that resulted. As this was mostly a trial and error day, we used craft acrylic paint and copy paper for our printing.

Thin doily.

Thin cereal box cardboard.

The second AH HA moment was that a more interesting print resulted when there were larger areas of open space between the elements of the collage. Not only did you get the printed image of the slightly raised area of the plate. In some cases you also got an imprint of the background area.
Interesting background print.

We found differences in techniques for the actual printing depending on how you “inked” up your plate and how you printed it. If you inked you plate and had your copy paper on a piece of craft foam, you could use your plate like a rubber stamp, placing it face down onto the paper. This gave you the opportunity to evenly press on the plate to get a good print.

If you inked your plate and had it face up on the table, you could then place your fabric or paper face down onto the plate and use your hands or a spoon to work the ink onto the receiving surface. This is the technique that gave the best results of an imprint into the background areas of the plate.

Adhesive craft foam on cardboard.

Place mat made up of letters.

The perfect print.

We did not come ready with the supplies for this last technique, but if you have access to an actual printing press, perhaps a Sizzix Big Shot™ or a flower press, it is apparently possible to use these devices to emboss damp paper using your collograph plate. That’s a technique for a long winter’s day.

I personally liked the effect of printing using black Speedball™ Fabric Printing ink. I suspect we should have used a medium of some sort to make the ink slightly more fluid, but we brayered it onto a flat surface, pressed the printing plate into the ink and printed to our new surface.
It is best to do a couple of dud prints first and then do your final print. Less ink gives a much better imprint. On some of the plates it seemed to work better to apply the ink directly to the plate working it in with a cheap bristle brush and then do your print.

Here are two techniques that are very easy to do. The latter is not actually a collograph plate but gives much the same effect.
Eggshell printing plate.

Incised Styrofoam tray.
This is certainly a technique that warrants some additional exploration, especially if you wanted to make prints that were entirely of your own design and making.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Merry Christmas

Vintage Felt Stocking circa 1950's. My first and only stocking.

Thanks for joining us at FOG again this year.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

FOG Tuesday Collograph Printing Plates

To start off our new year at FOG Tuesday we are doing a two part session. Part 1 in September is the making of Collograph Printing Plates and on FOG Tuesday in October we will be printing Collographs with the plates.

A collograph printing plate, simply explained, is the creation of a collage of materials with interesting texture and relief on a rigid substrate and the resulting monoprint collograph is created when you apply inks or paints to the plate surface and print onto another surface such as fabric or paper.

Little works of art in themselves.
TL Corrugated cardboard, TR lace, buttons & cheesecloth.
Bottom Lace Doily

The supplies for making a collograph plate are quite simple:
  • A rigid substrate: matt board, two layers of cardboard glued together, MDF
  • White glue or glue gun
  • Paint brush to apply glue and varnish
  • Liquitex™ gloss varnish
  • Found objects: feathers, netting, lace, buttons, grunge board, foam sheets, corrugated cardboard, toothpicks, elastics, cheesecloth, puzzle pieces, washers, grunge board scrapbooking pieces, cereal box cardboard
Apply a thin surface of white glue to your substrate and create your collage with your found objects. The only real rules you need to follow are:

  • ensure that all items you use for your collage are the same height and not too deep,
  • leave some open areas around your objects, unless you are doing an overall textured pattern on your plate, for example lace or cheesecloth,
  • if you are using letters, make certain that you glue them on mirror image.

If your items are a bit heavier, you may want to use the glue gun to adhere them first, and then do a layer of white glue.

The two items that I used for my first plate were not even so
did not produce a good print. Also, the felt leaves, though
covered in the gloss varnish, did not take the paint very well.

Once the collage is completed you want to let them dry thoroughly (we set ours out in the sun to dry), though you could leave overnight or use a hair dryer to speed up the process.

Fruits of or labour drying in the sun.

When the plates are dry, apply two thin layers of the gloss varnish to the front and back of the plate as well as sealing in the sides, especially if you are using cardboard as your substrate. The coating of gloss varnish seals all surfaces and provides a protective layer once you apply the wet medium you are using, paint or ink, and protects your plate for additional uses.

Great texture.
More texture and letters placed mirror image.

Left Zipper pieces and two layers of grunge board to even the layers.
Top Right Adhesive foam shapes.
Bottom Right Simple shape cut from cereal box cardboard.

More about our printing experiences in October! Stay tuned…

Top Simple cardboard plate, printed on fabric.
Bottom Mirror image grunge board scrapbooking shapes.

Monday, 23 May 2016

FOG Tuesday - We All Felt It!

We have worked with commercial felt in past sessions, but in our session in May we focused entirely on commercial felt squares and the multitude of ways it could be manipulated, embellished, stitched and most importantly, how it distressed/melted with our heat guns.

Felt comes in a variety of colours and also as printed or embossed felt. The printed felt is quite fun to use and adds an element of extra colour to the piece. We did not try embossed felt, but it is available at Michael’s here in Canada. If you are a little more on the diva side, felt also comes flocked and glittered.

Printed felt, left. Hand cut petals of printed felt,
heat distressed and assembled with a brad.
Add a pin backing and you have a great brooch to wear.
Printed felt, stitched and heat distressed.
One of the ways we altered the look of the felt before stitching and melting was with the use of commercial and handcrafted stencils and stamps.
Jan, commercial stencil, left. Printed with metallic
paint, right.
Gillian, several techniques on all pieces.
Variations on a theme, Commercial flower stencil.
Couched yarns.

Top, felt with added painted fusible web pieces, left, 
and heat distressed, right.
Bottom, hand crafted stamp, glue gun glue on a
piece of foam core, left, printed felt, middle and heat
distressed, right.

Glue gun glue on foam core, left, stamp cut from a
shoe insole, top right. Bottom right, stamp made
from commercial, sticky backed foam stickers.
If you want to maintain some structure with your piece before melting, you can stitch on the felt beforehand. This ensures that your piece will not fall apart. We tried both cotton and polyester threads and both seemed to work.

Diane, Stitched and distressed.
Nan, Stitched and distressed.
If you own, or have access to a Sizzix™ or similar die cutting machine you can cut shapes with your Sizzix™ and then heat distress them with your heat gun. Both craft embossing and industrial heat guns work well, you just need to test beforehand how much heat you need to use to melt your felt.

Leaves cut with a Sizzix die and then heat distressed.
Many synthetic fabrics will distress/melt with a heat gun. While we mostly focused on the poly felt, by Kunin™ and Creatology™.  Both are widely available at Michael’s and most of the dollar stores. Karen did try some polar fleece and it seemed to work very well.
Karen, adding elements to a denim piece, left.
Heat distressed polar fleece, right.
Another way to embellish your piece is to print an image onto fusible web and then iron it onto your felt. Then you can be as creative as you want with stitching and heat distressing.
Chris, Image on fusible web transferred by ironing to the felt, left.
Stitched and heat distressed, right.
While we were using the 9” by 12” inch squares of felt, I guess they really should be called rectangles J, felt is also availed in larger precut pieces and by the yard/metre off the bolt at your local fabric store. Just think of the possibilities with a very large piece of felt.

ECO Alesrt! You should also feel good about using felt as a crafting item as it is mostly made from 100% post- consumer recycled and BPA-free plastic bottles and produces a high-quality fibre at a very modest price.

Until next time, have Fun with Felt. Meredith and Jan

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

FOG Tuesday – We’ve Found Our Marbles

At the April session of FOG we found out just how easy it is to marble on fabric and paper, both having the same prep for a wonderful result.

We tried two different methods of marbling, one using a thickened medium in our trays and the other using foam shaving cream. It needs to be the foamy kind, not gel, to work. NOTE: It is helpful to know some basic colour theory to understand how your colours will mix.

Prep for the first technique. Thickened Carrageenan or MarbleThix

Using carrageenan (available at art or health food stores) or MarbleThix™ by Delta, mix the quantity of dried product to warm water, MarbleThix™ used one TSP of powder to one quart of water. This is best done at least 6 – 12 hours before using. MarbleThix™ is the one that I used. Some did this in a blender; I just did mine by hand in a container. Unfortunately, MarbleThix may no longer be available. We purchased ours from a local dollar store

The second step for prep is to mix up an alum mixture to soak your fabrics and papers. Alum helps the colour to adhere to your product and improve on print quality. Fabric should be soaked in 2 TB of Alum dissolved in 1 quart of water. Paper should use more Alum - 4 TB in 1 quart of water.  Both items need to be dipped in the solution and then dried before marbling. Alum may be purchased in a health food store or in the spice department at your local grocery store.

Both alum and carrageenan are used in the production of food products so are very safe for use, even for children.

Lastly, you need to choose the type of inks, dyes or paints that you will use to float on the thickened mixture in your trays. We found what best worked for us by trial and error. We tried alcohol inks, different qualities and brands of acrylic paints, Liquitex Acrylic Ink and Dye-na-Flow™ by Jacquard.

I tried alcohol inks that sank to the bottom right away. I did not try acrylic paint and found that my best results were with Dye-na-Flow™. It is used on both natural or synthetic fabrics and papers.

Now comes the fun part.

Pour your thickened mixture into a tray. The mixture should be clear in colour. Start by dropping your colour onto the surface – making blobs of colour and then dropping additional colours into that blob, giving some interesting results.
Jan's pieces
The middle one was Liquitex acrylic ink.Right and Left are Dynaflow.
Next, drag a skewer or other tools through the blobs and your pattern starts to appear. Once you are satisfied with the results, place your dry, alum soaked fabric or paper onto the surface of the newly coloured mixture. With fabric, it helps to hold the two sides and drop in the centre of the fabric first, then the sides. Lightly pat the surface of your fabric or paper trying to get all the colour on the surface to adhere.
Jan's - on paper.
Once that is done, carefully pick up your piece from the surface and put aside to dry. If there is any colour left on the surface, run a piece of paper over it, leaving it clean to do your next design.

Meredith - the three stages of marbling.
 Top Left -Drop colour onto the surface.
Top Right - Drag through the paint.
Bottom - Finished print, this one is on Dupioni Silk
Meredith - the three stages of marbling.
 T0p Left -Drop colour onto the surface.
Top Right - Drag through the paint.
Bottom - Finished print, this one is on cotton.
Meredith - finished fabric.Top left is the Dupioni Silk, the other three are cotton.

Prep for the second technique. Shaving Foam

Spray the foam shaving cream onto your surface or tray and drag a straight edge across the surface to create a smooth even surface. (If anyone has found an unscented shaving foam, please share the brand name with us.)

Next drop your colour onto the surface of the foam and drag a skewer or other tool through your drops of colour to create your pattern. Once you are satisfied, place your fabric or paper onto the surface, tap it down and then pull your print. Lay the print on a solid surface and using a straight edge, drag the remaining shaving foam from your print.

Inexpensive acrylic paint, food colouring and inks are three good products to use on the foam. The foam can be reused several times, however, if colour is left on the foam it may affect subsequent colours that are layered on top.

Diane - Foam print on paper.
I need to get the finished result and post.
Karen - finished pieces, right, all on glossy photo paper.
Bottom left, a dragging tool that Karen made.
Top left - shaving cream tray.

Have fun with this, it is quite addictive. I’m certainly ready to make additional pieces and have purchased a larger foil tray to that I can do some larger pieces.

Fruits of our labour.

As always, we enjoy your feedback. Cheers, Meredith and Jan

Monday, 11 April 2016

Dabbling with Derwent Inktense Pencils and Blocks

In February we delved into the world of faux batik, using Elmer’s Blue Gel Glue as the wax. The light colour blue was an advantage, especially on white fabric. Several of us drew our designs freehand, while others traced over a design and added or subtracted lines as necessary. White cotton was the fabric of choice, but Karen tried her hand using denim and it turned out very well.
Elmer's Blue Gel Glue - Faux Batik

Faux batik, inktense colouring and final stitching.

Leslie's Poppy Head Photo and Faux Batik in progress.

Once the designs were drawn there was a waiting time for the glue to dry and then we coloured the designs using the Derwent Inktense Pencils. These are quite pricey, but a sharp eye on Amazon or Ebay can get you some decent pricing. These pencils are quite amazing, with rich vibrant colour.

Derwent Inktense pencils are our best watercolour pencil ever! You can use them dry but mix them with water and WOW! the colour turns into vibrant ink. Once it’s dry the colour is fixed and you can work over the top of it, and, because it permanent it’s great for using on fabric such as silk and cotton!” Derwent website.

Once the glue and pencils are dry, you wash out the glue, leaving white lines similar to a batik.
Faux Batik, colouring and lines, final stitching.

Faux Batik, Inktense Pencils, experimentation with fabric
medium and water.

Karen's denim piece

In March we continued with a different Derwent product, their Inktense Blocks, equally as gorgeous in colour with a slightly different application method. Our goal was to enhance some of our faux batik pieces from February and create some new pieces in March with free motion machine quilting and use a variety of rubbing plates or freehand drawings and colour with the inktense blocks.

Rubbing plate, rub Derwent Inktense Blocks over the cotton,
free motion machine stitched.
Free motion stitching, inktense blocks and pencils,
detailed experimentation notes.

We had not done any work with sewing machines before so it was great to add another tool to the toolbox and explore this for use in future mixed media and fibre projects.
Jan stitching - free hand drawing with derwent inktense blocks,
free motion machine quilting.
In both sessions, in addition to the Derwent products, there was much experimentation with the use of water and fabric mediums to see if there was any magic formula that made the colour extend further, be brighter or how they moved on the fabric.

I tried my hand with the inktense blocks and working with old cotton felt, a dryer sheet, machine stitching and a heat gun. Haven't used that in a while. I quite liked the effect, but will use synthetic felt next time to add an additional distressed look.
Free hand drawing on dryer sheet with inktense blocks,
free motion stitching, heat distressed on
vintage cotton felt.
Free motion stitching on dryer sheet and heat
distressed on vintage cotton felt. Where you can
see the yellow brown colour, the heat gun
turned the inktense blocks that colour and the colour
did not allow the dryer sheet to distress.

Working with these products was a lot of fun and I'm certain that we will be revisiting our use of the sewing machine again with the group.