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Alcohol Inks

I experimented briefly with alcohol inks in the past using the Tim Holtz stamper and really enjoyed the abstract patterns it produced, but didn’t ever take it further.  Recently I’d come across some artists who were using alcohol inks in a more traditional way – i.e. using paintbrushes and other tools – to produce slightly more controlled paintings while still enjoying the naturally serendipitous effect of the medium.

So I decided to give it another go!  Last week I placed an order online for some additional inks and they finally arrived yesterday so I was able to get started on some warm-up pieces:


The top painting is on Yupo paper and the bottom is on encaustic painting card.

While these are both a bit more abstract than I’m ultimately aiming for, I’m quite pleased with how they turned out!

I’d never heard of Yupo before I started looking into alcohol inks again, but it seems to be quite a popular choice.  Yupo is 100% recyclable, waterproof, tree-free Synthetic Paper and seems to be used quite commonly in packaging, although has been adopted by artists too.  It’s used mainly with watercolour and acrylic and you can buy it from SAA (via Amazon or direct) or Jacksons Art (the product is called Lana Vanguard).  Its main features are that it doesn’t buckle even when very wet and you can wipe it back to white if you aren’t happy with your end result!


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Making an animation… with Brusho!

I saw an animation tutorial on the Digital Arts Online website quite a while back (over a year ago, in fact!) which I’ve always admired but never completed.  The tutorial, by animation director Vida Vega, involves using hand drawn elements together with digital effects to produce a short but beautiful animation.  Each time I’ve sat down to follow the tutorial, I could never produce satisfactory hand drawn elements so I’d end up abandoning the idea and moving onto something else.

Today, I decided that it might be another opportunity to practice my Brusho, so I gave it another bash.  And FINALLY I have a completed animation – yipee!

Here are the hand-drawn (painted with Brusho) elements that will make up the animation (the four blobs at the bottom eventually become snowflakes!):

Brusho elements used in animation

Look at the amazing Brusho texture in the background block! That’s just Brusho Black and Brusho Dark Brown there – the powders are actually made up of lots of different colours so you can either brush it right through to get a uniform colour, or brush it only minimally and enjoy the lovely speckles of colour instead!

These elements were assembled into this image before animating:


Here is the short animation:

I’m not 100% satisfied with it (am I ever?!), but I’m very happy with it as a first attempt and I love the Brusho texture!

Be sure to check out the tutorial for yourself if you fancy having a go!

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Trying out Brusho

I’m trying out Brusho at the moment, which is a powered watercolour ink.  While you can add water to the powder to use as a regular watercolour, you can also apply and work it in other ways – such as sprinkling the powder onto your support then spraying it with water, or using wax resist or even bleach for highlights.  It’s a really interesting medium, pretty hard to control for the most part and allows for some lovely expressive painting! Here is one of my efforts, based on an exercise in the Brusho Secrets e-book!


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Mushroom candle holder!

Have been playing a bit more with the clay today and have produced … a mushroom candle holder and a ‘rustic’ bowl …

The foliage in the bowl will burn off during firing and hopefully leave a nice imprint behind!

Am really still trying to get used to working with the terracotta clay, but I’m enjoying it so far.

Still haven’t fired my green man yet, as I’m too scared of breaking it!!

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Red Tape Challenge

I came across the Red Tape Challenge today and think it looks interesting! The idea is that the Government is aiming to cut some red tape by getting views on what is and isn’t working in terms of regulations.

They are tackling it one sector at a time and the current sector is Retail.   Amongst other things, they’re looking at Hallmarking – so this should be of interest to any precious metal jewellers out there!

I used to make soaps but eventually stopped doing it because I spent more time doing paperwork and calculating % quantities of essential oil allergens than I did making soap.

Worth keeping an eye on this, I think! You can read about each red tape challenge and leave your comments on the website.

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Kiln attempt #1!

Well, we’ve had a productive day! We’ve built a basic storage area for drying wood and have dug out the pit kiln!

The aim was to dig 60cm deep, but seemingly we have lots of rocks in our garden so we couldn’t get any deeper than 40cm.  So, we put a layer of bricks around the outside and raised the ground with the earth we’d dug out, until it was a 60cm pit.

The pit is made of an initial few inches of fine sawdust, paper and twigs.  Then the pottery went on top of that, along with some sea salt and veg that was past its best! After that we put alternating layers of fine sawdust mixed with more coarse wood shavings (like hamster bedding), paper and twigs.  On top of that were small-ish logs (driftwood) and more twigs.  We used barbecue lighter fluid on the top layer before lighting it.  It took a few attempts, but we got it lit in the end!!

Here are a couple of photos…

The pit is still smoking as I type, so it’ll be tomorrow until I see how the pottery turns out!

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Feeling the recycle love!

I was chuffed to bits today to get 250 red bricks for free via West Fife ReCycle, which were left over from someone’s building job.  Absolutely brilliant, as it’ll let me make a storage area for drying wood out to use in my pottery pit kiln project!

The other thing I really needed for the kiln was sawdust.  I got some coarse sawdust from Wilkinsons yesterday but the all-important FINE sawdust has been provided by Scottish Wood, who have said I can come and fill my bags up with sawdust during their lunch hour when the saw isn’t running.  FAB!  Filled four big black bags today, so that’ll certainly keep me going…


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Two months later…

I seem to recall back in January I said I was going to try a bit harder to keep up with blogging …. now here I am two months after my last blog post finally getting round to doing my next one.  Oops!!  Must try harder 🙂

Life has been hectic as always!  As well as being a keen crafter, I’m also a freelance web developer and have been busy with new & existing clients’ websites.   Add to that the fact that I’m also a full time student at the moment (I decided on the spur of the moment last summer to do an HNC at the local college!) and have two pre-school children … you can see why time gets away from me sometimes!!

Anyway … I’m dabbling in a new hobby at the moment: pottery!  But before I get to that, I’d like to share with you a fantastic painting I commissioned for my mum’s birthday.  The artist is Nicki Macrae and she is *amazing*.  The painting is the view from my mum’s old house – a lovely sea view that she misses now that she’s moved away.  Nicki happens to live in the same wee town I grew up in and, being a HUGE fan of her work anyway, it made perfect sense to ask her to capture the memory for mum in an artwork!

Here’s the painting (I hope Nicki doesn’t mind me linking to her Flickr account!) – isn’t it amazing!!


Needless to say, mum adores it & can’t take her eyes off it!  Nicki was a real pleasure to work with, so I can’t recommend her enough!  Check out her Facebook page and prepare to be amazed!!

Now, onto the pottery … it’s something I’ve always fancied doing, as I enjoy working on a smaller scale with polymer clay.  But I’ve always felt I’d never be able to afford a large enough kiln for firing it.  Then last week I thought to myself “but they didn’t have kilns back in the olden days..”!  So I’ve been doing a lot of research into more traditional firing techniques and I’m ready to try a few out – starting with a pit kiln.

So far all I’ve done is purchase some clay and made a few basic items to fire (I’ll take a photo tomorrow – it’s too dull now!).  They are NOT masterpieces!  I have a feeling I’ll break quite a few items during firing (especially the first few attempts!), so I’m deliberately not spending hours and hours on my creations at this stage!!  I’m hoping to have my first bash at a pit kiln in a couple of nights!

Stay tuned…

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Copper etching

I got a brilliant jewellery making book for Christmas which covers loads of techniques, including acid resist metal etching.  The book talked specifically about etching silver using the very scary nitric acid!  Obviously I’m not keen to deal with serious acids like that, but it inspired me to do a bit of research into alternative etching methods.

I decided to start with copper etching and discovered a method for acid resist etching using ferric chloride.  This acid is much easier & safer to use when your home or workshop doesn’t include a chemistry lab!  The process is the same as for creating printed circuit boards from home, so it’s a popular technique for hobby electronics enthusiasts.

I’m going to write a full tutorial later, but here are a few of the pieces I’ve etched to whet your appetite!