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Shrink Film Experiment

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     I wrote recently on my experiments with alcohol inks. In my last experiment I used the inks on shrink film. I was very interested in the results. I looked at the wings I had quickly inked and I suddenly saw an opportunity to use my fine art skills in jewelry. I love making jewelry. It does satisfy something in me but I am constantly trying to find ways to bring my art into my jewelry. Wire is lovely but popping colors? Even better!
So I set about on a trial to see just exactly how much art could I bring to a miniature medium like this. Here are my results and I think you will be quite pleased as I was.

First off, I wanted a nice intricate piece with lots of color. Feathers have been on my mind a lot so I did a sketch of a feather in pencil. I didn't take a lot of time on this piece. I ended up loving it so but I will definitely go back and redo this in a larger size and ink it properly. This is definitely a sketch not a finished piece.
So this is the piece I am going to do. This image is only about 4" tall.
I did a lot of reading on this subject before I started. I wanted to know the pros and cons. I wanted to catch the little tips people throw out in forums, etc. I learned that a sanded surface works great for colored pencils and since I had no colored Sharpies or other alcohol markers, colored pencils it was. I had already did quite a few test runs on my oven and slowly took the temperature down till I found the good temp. 140c seems to be just about right. 

I did a test with my colored pencils. I have many brands and wanted to see which pencils would work the best. I decided that the Marco pencils seemed to go on much nicer than the others but later during the coloring of the piece I actually found the Stabilos going on much smoother. Here is my little color chart I made for reference. 
The brighter side is the unsanded side, as you can see the titles are backwards.

While I was at it I made a ruler too. This is a great little reference tool to give you an idea of how large your piece of plastic needs to be to get the proper size.
As you can see, I still hadn't figured out my oven temps with this piece and
the colored pencil templates and they cooked way too fast.
I could probably put it back in the oven and flatten it a bit more if I wanted to.

After doing my pencil test I sanded down my film.
I took my jewelers sanding blocks in gradient grits ranging from P60 to P600 and set about sanding the whole surface area of what I was going to ink. I tried to make it as smooth as possible and eliminate as many lines as I could. Many people had talked of sanding their paper but only with one grit and in a back and forth motion. This didn't seem enough to me so I sanded it as I would a piece of jewelry. It came out with a pretty good smooth surface though there were still some scratches in it.

Next I taped my film over my pencil sketch
and inked it with my fine tip sharpie on the unsanded side.
 I was very thankful I had that one sharpie on hand.

After it dried I turned it over to do the pencil on the sanded side.

Here is the pieces with the colors finished. This is showing the shiny side.

Then it was time for the oven. I was so nervous and thinking that maybe I was just a bit crazy to put so much time and effort into a shrink plastic piece! By now I was used to the shrinking process and sat right in front of the oven, opening it often to help the piece along when it curled too much. They can get hot but I don't find them too hot to touch quickly. I just open the oven door, reach in and help it unbend a bit when it seems to be curling too much. Sometimes if they curl too much they stick together and I didn't want that to happen. It melted down well (with a little help) and then I set my bench block on top of it to flatten it further. It is nice and heavy and does the job perfectly!
Here is the finished piece and I am in love once again.

I can't even express how happy and excited this has made me.
 Not only did I remind myself of how much I love to work with pencils and draw, I also found a fantastic way to bring my fine art to my jewelry. 
Now my next job is to figure out how to wrap this in wire
 to make a pendant so it satifies me. 
That itself might be a monumental task.

More Alcohol Ink Experiments.

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More Alcohol Ink Experiments.

I have come to the realization that I am terrible at blogging.
 I'm not sure what it is. 
The time it takes to upload the pictures, sort them and make the post maybe?
 I know I get lost in my studio and say to myself ten times a day,
 "I should blog about this!" 
But then it doesn't happen.
 I think I just need to make myself blog no matter how quick and unpolished 
just to keep a journal, even if only to myself, of what I have been up to. 
So I am going to try to be better. 
I am really busy in the studio and I am accomplishing a lot though it doesn't show here. I want to post real quick about what I did the last few weeks with the alcohol inks. They are not the only thing I have been playing with but I am still very excited about them. They are just so bright and playful!

My next experiment after the shells was with the flower beads.
 After all, this is what I bought the inks for. I made a small ink stamper by glueing a piece of felt onto the end of a small tool I had. 
I have since realized that it would have been better if I had glued a piece of velcro on the end so I could change the piece of felt and made a better tool. Learn as you go!
I loaded my stamper with three colors of ink and stamped away with the ink.

I think the results speak for themselves.

I am so excited about how they turned out. I absolutely adore them.

These blue ones are my favorite so far but I have only started playing with these. I can't wait to try more color combinations.

I went on to try sealing some of these with resin. Although I am fascinated with resin and plan on doing much with it, I found that I prefer the matte finish on these flower beads. The pictures of the finished resin beads did not turn out well so I wont be including them in this post but here is a picture of one pair of earrings I made with the resin ones. As you can see, they are much shinier and the resin made the inks run together. I could probably alleviate that with the sealer and I may try again next time I pour resin.
Since then I went on to play with shrink plastic. I haven't done anything with this medium before except play with shrinky dinks when I was little. I had no idea what I was doing! I started out by inking a nice wing on the plastic and then proceeded to paint it with my inks. I loved how it turned out.

I still had to bake it though and really had no idea how this would go. To start out with I am fairly sure I had the oven to hot. It curled up quite bad and wouldnt go back down. When I took it out the inks looked almost black in places. It was dark dull and ugly I thought.
Holding it up to the light you can still see the color somewhat but even that was minimal.

So I spent the afternoon experimenting and realized that 
1. I was using too high of a temperature. 
2. The inks intensify when baking.
 It is much better to apply them afterwards.
 3. It is better to apply a weight after bringing the piece out of the oven
 to help keep it flat as it cools. 

So I made a few smaller pieces. Inked the outline as before and baked them without the alcohol ink. Then I applied the alcohol ink afterwards. Much better! I also cleaned the ink off the big piece and reheated it and flattened it with a weight (my bench block worked perfectly)
All in all, I am in love with the alcohol inks. I still have a lot to learn about them but I think we have become fast friends. The shrink plastic is also an interesting medium. You can do quite intricate works of art on it and then shrink it down to have a nice piece in miniature. I am sure I will also be playing with it a lot in the future. What I really want to do is wrap it in wire.  I am sure I will be playing with that idea soon.

Until next time I wish you well,

A Look at Alcohol Inks

A Look at Alcohol Inks
 I recently purchased several bags of acrylic flower beads. They are nice shapes but sadly uninspiring. The colors are matte, and generic.
 I was disappointed when I opened the package and saw that they did not live up to my dreams. I stuffed them in a drawer and forgot about them for awhile.
 Then one day I happened upon a video about someone coloring a mug with alcohol inks. I was fascinated. You can paint ceramics, and glass and wood and metal with these? 
Color me intrigued! 
So I ordered some and had my son bring them over in his suitcase from the US. When he arrived we met in the south of France to spend the first week of his visit down with the family. So here I was with this exciting new medium and no where near my studio and those pesky beads of mine. 
One day we went to the beach and as I walked along the shore with my son we picked up an assortment of seashells. I noticed that the most prevelant shells were a plain white shell. Not very interesting to look at but maybe, just maybe a perfect canvas?

  So we filled our pocket with maybe 2 dozen shells and came home with our treasure. The next evening we got out the inks and alcohol, plastic sheets and what not to play. Everyone joined in on the fun and we soon had a pile of pretty colored shells. 

I deemed our experiment a success.
 I was smart enough to buy the sealant with the ink and sealed all the pieces and brought them home. Here I sat about trying to wrap them.
 Here are a few examples: 

a Lisa Barth design

 Copar Anguil's design

a third is Abby Hook's design 

and one design is my own.

I was so happy with how they turned out that I had to pull out the inks again. This is a small pair of cabachons I inked. I am in love!

Stepping Back

Stepping Back


   My recent blog posts have been about my foray back into fabric. If you know me at all you know that I have had a long and very intimate relationship with fabric. Simply put, I love it. I grew up with fabric, made my own barbie clothes when I was tiny. Made a lot of my clothes in highschool. Fashioned my children clothes and embroidered their sweatshirts and dresses. I spent over a decade of my life in downtown Seattle manipulating the threads of fabric to invisibly mend everything from suits to cashmere sweaters to an almost century old teddy bear. I then went on to spend another ten years manipulating threads into my own visions of art and dyeing beautiful pieces of luscious silk and velvet. To say I have an intimate relationship with fabric is putting it lightly. So of course when I was at my lowest that I have been in years I turned back to the comfort of my cloth. I needed to be surrounded with the piles of color and texture. It was very hard for me to leave them to go down south this year for Christmas. 

      Now that I have returned, I have sat here for a month and can not move forward. I know I have been combating this illness (four months now) but that is not enough for this blankness. I simply hit a dead end. Instead I dream of jewelry designs. I didn't want these designs, I wanted to sew. I ignored them and instead would sit for days staring at that piece and feeling nothing. I cut the sun out because it was really disturbing me but it didn't help. I scribbled sketches but they all felt flat. So I am admitting defeat for now. If I have learned one thing about my art in all this time it is that I can't force it. If it isn't there then I need to step away until it returns.

     Therefore I am returning to my wire. If that is what is speaking to me then that is where I am at! I started a year ago to teach myself how to use wire professionally. It was my goal for 2016 and I am very satisfied with the results. I feel that I can make a professional piece now that is worthy of a place in my shop.

       My goal this year is to get my business license back up and running. This is a big one because the laws here in France changed. I am now required to take a week long business class in french. I can speak french, though not well. My biggest problem is I have a very hard time understanding people when THEY speak french. I can't imagine how I will do trying to learn on a subject I have always been awful at. Business is not my forte. Wish me luck as I truly need it. My second goal for this year is getting my shop repopulated with new work and be back in business. I do have quite a few things already made, Many designs I can work off of and many dancing around in my head.

      So for now I am setting aside my fabric once again. I apologize if I led you on (Linda you know this is for you) This doesn't mean I won't pick it up again. It is all right here in front of me. My threads and needles, bits of fabric in baskets and such. It only takes a stretch of my arm and they could be in my hands again. I admit defeat for the moment though and follow what is speaking to me. Well, I always have been a little flighty! Haha.

Edit That

So here is what happened last night:

I have looked at this piece since I got home. Here I was, chomping at the bit the whole time I was down south for Christmas, wanting to be home to work on this piece. Then I get home and all I can do is look at it and it was just bugging me silly. I couldn't figure out what it was at first but then it hit me. This sun does not belong here. I originally dreamed this sun and it was part of a bigger picture. It also has a lot of negative thoughts associated with it and I think that is the main thing holding me back. SO..I snipped it. Now let's see what happens.

Hope you are all well!