Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Halloween Inspiration

In the last few weeks I have been doing some experimenting with new materials and was inspired to make some Halloween tags and backgrounds.  I have access to a photocopier again, so the first thing I did was blender pen image transfers!  The three images I used are cabinet cards from the store.  The transfer process is really easy:

1. Photocopy the image . I usually make multiple copies while I'm at the machine.
2. Cut out the image- this step is not necessary if the background of the image is white with no toner.
3. Place paper image side down on tag (or whatever you are transferring to.)
4. Color the paper with a blender pen that contains xylene to saturate the paper.  Do this in a well ventilated area.
5. Rub with a bone folder or other tool to make sure the entire image transfers.

I love using this technique for image transfers because it can be imperfect and unpredictable which lends an element of spooky-ness that is perfect for Halloween tags.  The old clothing and imperfect transfer brings to mind ghosts and haunted houses.  After doing the image transfers, I added color with Dylusions ink spray and Faber Castell Gelatos.  The Gelatos are still new to me, so this was a great chance to experiment with different techniques.  I mixed the gelatos with water in mini spray bottles to create my own color sprays, drew directly on the tags and blended the colors with a foam blending tool, used the gelatos with a waterbrush like paint...

Afterwards, I added washi tape and other embellishments.  The keys are tag board cut-outs from Coffee Break Design, and the "Boo" banners are my own creations.  Then I added some of my favorite ribbon in coordinating colors.

My other Halloween experiments used alcohol inks, stencils, and Golden Soft Gel in gloss.  I was inspired by the Tim Holtz tag tutorial for September.  I tried his method of dribbling different colors of alcohol inks and blender solution onto a craft mat and "swiping" the cardstock over the surface of the craft mat to get a unique background.  Then I applied the Golden gel over a spider web stencil to create a glossy raised image.  The Golden gel took a long time to dry, so I worked on these backgrounds over several days.  Later I added distress ink to darken the background, leaving the areas under the dried gel the original background color.

I tried this technique with Gelato backgrounds too and it worked great.  For the purple spider web in the upper right hand corner of the photo, I tinted some of the gel with a few drops of acrylic paint for a completely different look.  Overall, I had a lot of fun experimenting and got a few cute Halloween decorations out of it!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dyeing Yarn with Goldenrod

This is a blog post I started last year, when I was in a yarn dyeing frenzy.  It sat as a draft with pictures for months and months... But last week I dyed with Goldenrod again (but forgot to take pictures) so I thought this would be a fitting post.  I have talked about yarn dyeing a few times on the blog, including this post with a more detailed description of the process.

Goldenrod is a wildflower (or weed, depending on who you ask) that grows in empty lots, along highways, and pretty much everywhere in Ohio in the late summer and early fall.  Last year a coworker filled a trashbag for me with the Goldenrod plants growing in his backyard.  This year I was able to scavenge some from an empty lot down by the railroad tracks.  Last year I used the flower, stems, and leaves to make the dye bath, but you can also get nearly the same color from just the flower heads.

I simmered the plant for about an hour before straining out the plant material.  I bought a big mesh ladle thing from the Chinese grocery store and it works great for this!  Meanwhile, I prepared my yarn by mordanting it in a solution of alum.  The yarn came out a beautiful, bright yellow.

I made a TON of dye that day, so I also dyed two additional skeins of yarn and treated them with an iron afterbath.  To get the iron solution I soaked a bunch of rusty nails and other metal bits in a jar with water and vinegar. Then I put the solution in a pot and heated it to almost a boil.  One skein I dipped from the dye bath into the iron bath for about 20-30 seconds (the color changes right before your eyes, it is amazing.)  That one came out a lovely light green.  The next skein I put into the iron bath for longer, probably 1-2 minutes, and it came out a dark forest green.