Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Several posts ago, I showed you the blank textured canvas that I prepared using Dap Dry Dex.  Well, now I want to show you what happened to that canvas.  I'm not very good at taking pictures of intermediate steps.  I get caught up in the painting and I definitely get very messy while I'm at it so I'll just have to explain what went on.

I added some drywall webbing tape to the canvas to add to the crosshatching that I'd done to certain areas.  This made the lines stand out in greater relief.

I gave the whole canvas a sponge coat of an off white acrylic paint called Tailor's Chalk.  It's a cool white that heads a little to the taupe side.  I chose that because I was going to use a hammered bronze spray paint in a drip technique and from previous experience I knew the finished colour was a taupe tone.  I was also going to experiment with some fluid acrylic in a teal/turquoise colour and a metallic aluminum.

After the base coat was dry.  I placed my canvas in my spray box (a large cardboard box that I saved for the purpose since I need to spray inside the house) and gave the heavily textured centre part of the canvas a heavy overspray that would drip down the canvas.  I let this dry as well. 

The next step was to lightly dilute the teal fluid acrylic and pour it in a line across the canvas while it was flat on my table and then stand the canvas upright to allow it to flow down the canvas.  I don't think I diluted the teal sufficiently because it didn't flow as I anticipated and I needed to help it with a brush.  Either that or my texture was too deep.  Either way, I wasn't satisfied with the result.  I ended up with too much teal in some areas and not enough in others.  I ended up using a paint brush to fill in some of the textured areas with the teal.  I had to respray the bronze over the areas of too much teal and that left me with more drips than I really wanted in some areas.

I used a gloss black lacquer enamel and a fine paint brush to highlight the ridges of the textured areas on the centre part of the canvas.  This made it look like the teal colour was pooling in the depressions.  I then added some metallic aluminum to other smaller depressions in a random manner.  Since the teal was a matte medium, a used a high gloss varnish on the teal areas so that the centre of the canvas had a uniform sheen on all the painted areas.

On the lower section of the canvas, I used some of the aluminum metallic paint to paint out the extra bronze drip lines and blend them into the base of the canvas.  I also sponged some of the Tailor's Chalk white to highlight the lower middle of the canvas and blend it softly into the background colours.

Overall, for my first textured painting, I'm pleased with the effect I've created.  It isn't exactly what I envisioned but I've learned as I've gone along which is the whole purpose of experimentation.  It will have a place of honour in the downstairs bathroom which isn't really a commentary on it's worth (I hope).

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Blog Hopping event is over and I must say it was a marathon!  It was well worth it, though.  I've never seen so many absolutely amazing blogs and I never would have found them if it hadn't been for this event.  I'm only sorry that I came upon in its last year, though I can see what a huge undertaking it's been for its founder, Lisa Swifka.  All I can say is THANK YOU FOR THE INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE.

I have a long list of blogs that I have to go back and explore more fully.  At first I took my time and browsed and then I realized that if I wanted to visit them all or even most I wouldn't be able to look at more than a page or two. I saw blogs that were wonderfully designed and blogs that showcased incredible talent; blogs full of witty commentary, helpful tutorials and inspiring creations.  There were even fellow newbie blogs like mine which were just reassuring (which is a good thing).

And now to the big announcement:
Drumroll please ......
The winner of my giveaway is:

Michelle from Que Bella, One World One Heart participant 598 from Kentucky, USA.  I've emailed Michelle and when her mailing particulars arrive, the journal will be winging it's way to her with my best wishes.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I just spent a wonderful day at ArtifactsPlus, a new art supply store in Petrolia, ON with Marie-Josée Girard, a glass artist from Georgetown, ON. Through ArtifactsPlus, she was offering a Beginner's Workshop in fused glass.  I've dabbled in the past in stained glass at the copper foil level and enjoyed that but I've never gone beyond in my interest in glass work.

I've often been tempted by things I've seen on the Internet but classes and workshops have never come my way until now.  This workshop with Marie was a great introduction. 

She explained that fused glass is made by layering or stacking thin sheets of coloured glass to create patterns or images.  A clear sheet of glass is always used as the base layer.  The completed stack of glass is placed into a kiln to be fused by heating it through a programmed series of increases in temperature (ramps) and (soaks) holding the temperature at certain points until the separate pieces of glass begin to fuse together (between 1400ºF and 1500ºF).

Once fused, the glass is cooled at a programmed rate, quickly through 1500ºF to 1000ºF so it doesn't lose its shine and more slowly through the lower temperatures.  A full cycle in the kiln can take 12 to 24 hours depending on the size and thickness of the piece(s) being fired.

We also learned that all glass is not compatible when it comes to fusing.  The glass we were using was coded system 96.  The other major classification is system 90.  Marie uses system 96 exclusively for all her work and is happy with the wide colour range.  System 96 glass when fused at high temperatures and cooled and soaked (held) at 960ºF begins to form a very strong bond (this is what will provide the strength for the piece).   For system 90 glass, this temperature comes at 1000ºF.  This difference in temperature point is why the two types of glass should not be mixed.

We received that technical information in small pieces throughout the day, complete with visual examples that Marie brought along.

When it came to designing our pieces we learned that it was going to be a two stage process.  We were going to pick out a slump mold that was going to determine the size and shape of our piece.  We would be doing a small ring dish and a larger piece.  Colour choices would be up to us. 

Marie showed us a wide range of samples using clear, white and black backgrounds and the effects that other colours had upon them.  We had a wide choice of opaque and transparent sheet glass (system 96) colours to choose from.  We also had glass stringers, which were the thickness of pencil leads; glass noodles, which were like fettuccine noodles; pebbles, which were like blueberry sized blobs and confetti, which were like very thin flakes of glass.

Our base of clear glass had to be cut to the size of our mold. If it was too large, when it was heated it would melt over the side of the mold and stick to it.  It had to be just the right size to sit on top of the mold so that when heated it would slump into the mold and take its shape.  (I forgot to take a picture of my mold).

We used our stained glass cutters to cut out our shapes and prepare our designs after we sketched them on paper.  Because we are layering glass, we had to be careful that we didn't make the edges of the glass too thick or it would spread.  Glass has a memory and it wants to be about 6mm thick.  We wanted our layers of glass to add up to approximately 6mm.  If it was going to be more than 6mm high, we wanted it to be more towards the middle than near the edge since the molds all had a dip in them.

After cutting, the pieces of glass were all cleaned with Windex and lightly tacked in place with a gel glue (just so the pieces won't slide while moving them to the kiln).  They are then fired to fuse all the layers into one piece.

The glass is then removed from the kiln and placed on the mold and fired again to get its shape.  The firing schedule is different because the glass no longer needs to be fused, it just needs to be shaped.

Here is my small project.   It's 3" x 3".  It's going to be a ring dish when it's been fired in its slump mold.  It's in the kiln for its first firing to be fused.

The small black lines are the stringers.

This is 8" x 8" and will be a raised plate shape when it is finished.  I'll post pictures when they are completed.

Here is the small kiln (more jewellery sized)

Here is the large kiln with the class projects in it.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

ATCs or Artist Trading Cards have been a popular art medium for a number of years now.  I've dabbled with various techniques over the years and participated in numerous swaps.  In fact, I would have to say it was my interest in ATCs that got me started with online swapping and online classes.  They were really the beginning of my fascination with the wonderful world of art on the internet.

Before I heard about ATCs from a member of a support group I was attending, all my art instruction was trial and error or through the occasional PBS broadcast or book from the library.  When I heard about ATCs and at the same time, visual journals, I was intrigued. 

The library didn't have any books on the subject so this led me to the internet to research the topic.  And the rest, as they say, was history.  From that moment on I was deep in a world of techniques, challenges and swaps with fellow enthusiasts from around the world.  Aside from specific limitations of a challenge the only rules of ATCs were the dimensions 2.5" x 3.5" or the dimensions of a typical trading card.

Most groups that I joined were tolerant and encouraging to beginners.  I did bump into a few groups with members who couldn't seem to remember their own humble beginnings but on the whole those participants were relatively rare.  There are groups geared to all skills levels: novice, intermediate and advanced if you are willing to look for them.

I've looking over some of my older ATCs and thinking that I should get back to this art form.  I've been so involved with my books lately that I've forgotten all about it.  It's got me thinking ... 2.5" x 3.5"  would make a nice little notebook.  Hmmmm ...  an ATC book anyone?  Now all I need is an interesting theme.

Here are some of my older ATCs:

Wood veneer with ink

Texture wallpaper with marker drawing. 

Cork background with ink

Heated copper background, ink stamped image and quote.

Paper collage on Divorce theme.

Individual punched oak leaves surround drawn face. Celtic theme.

Iris in mosaic technique.

Lady of the Leaves closed.

Lady of the Leaves open.  Autumn swap.

Paper collage.

Embossed copper and ink.

Collage, texture, embossing, embellsihments.

Stamping on cork background.

Irridescent embossing on sheer fabric, ink drawing.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I mentioned a while back that I was making a picture frame for my mixed media piece in my woodworking class but I never did get around to showing the finished product.

Clarence, my instructor, was very patient with me.  As I mentioned, I started with a 9" wide plank of pine lumber and ended up with my custom made 3" wide 8" x 10" frame.  I wanted to keep the profile very simple and chunky so we stayed with simple angles instead of using some of the curved router bits that Clarence used on his own frame. 

Making mitred corners is a very exacting process. You need to take the thickness of the blade itself into your measurement if you want to get a close fit.  With Clarence's help and a double dose of "measure twice, cut once" I was able to get a pretty good fit and sanding took care of most of my cutting imperfections.  Since I wanted to coat my frame with a gloss black paint, instead of staining it, that was a good thing.  I could have used a sandable wood filler if gaps in my corners had been noticeable.

I put three coats of gloss black acrylic paint on my frame.  I let the paint dry overnight between coats.  I let the frame dry for more than a week before putting the picture into the frame because I found that paint drops that appeared on the underedge of the picture side of the frame appeared to be tacky and I didn't want them to stick to the painting.  I tried to sand them off to the best of my ability but I also didn't want to disturb the paint that would appear wear the frame met the edge of the painting.  I wasn't putting glass or a mat in the frame so the frame would be touching the artwork itself.

Here is the finished result.

It feels good knowing I made the entire piece, frame and all.

Here is a closeup of one of the corners.

With the gloss black paint, it almost looks seamless.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This is something that I just found in my browsing and it looks like fun so I thought I'd join.  I love looking at other people's blogs.  I find so many interesting ideas and jumping off points for research and other projects. In the middle of one of my many hops I ended up at the blog of A Whimsical Bohemian who was talking about this opportunity for bloggers all over the world to meet.  That sounded so exciting that I thought I'd love to participate even though I'm relatively new to blogging.

There is a list of do's and don't posted but they seem relatively straightforward and simple.  Everyone will be offering a door prize to a lucky visitor, the winner to be announced at the end of the event, February 17, 2011.  Since the event is international the winner may be from anywhere in the world. 

I'll be offering one of my handmade journals. It's a hardcover, full cloth binding.

It's about 5.75" x 4.5"

On the closing date, February 17th, I'll simply be putting names in a hat and making a random draw for my prize winner.  All you have to do is leave a comment with your name and a link to your blog so I can visit you in return and you've entered the draw for the journal.  If you win the draw, I will leave a message for you through your blog asking for your address so that I can send your prize to you.  It's as easy as that.

The full list of participants is found here.
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