Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Decoupage : Tools and Equipments

I have decoupaged quiet a lot even when I didnt know what exactly the use or advantages of it can be. It all started with an old box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. I used just a random sketch and got it decoupaged with my normal craft glue and as I grew and went deeper with crafting I have realised a lot of other materials and tools that can help us get the desired results that we wish to. I have experimented with most of them to recommend them and some I am still experimenting with and hence I am sharing MY EXPERIMENTS and VIEWS.

Heres the picture of my first venture long long back in 1995....phew thats really long back in grade 6!!!

Coming Back to the Craft...I am going to talk and literally talk on the different tools and equipments here...its a DAMN TALKY POST.

1. Cutting Equipment: You will need a large pair of scissors for general cutting out, a smaller pair for cutting out motifs from gift wrapping paper or magazines or stamped images, and a pair of nail scissors for cutting out intricate shapes.

A craft knife or scalpel can be useful, especially if you have to cut out delicate shapes. Remember to work on a cutting mat. The special rubberised mats that are sold in craft stores are best because they are not damaged by score lines. Kitchen chopping boards can be used, but the best kinds will quickly blunt your blades while the cheaper kinds will eventually become marked. Kitchen boards are useful when you apply adhesive, however, because they are easily wiped clean.

2. Sealants: Paper must be sealed before it can be used for decoupage in order to prevent it from absorbing paint or varnish, to stop discolouration, and to inhibit colours from running. In addition, when a water based adhesive such as white glue is used with paper, the paper tends to stretch when it is applied to a surface, causing wrinkles and air bubbles. Sealing the paper beforehand helps prevent this.

I prefer to use a sanding sealer or button polish, which I apply to both sides of the image. This gives the paper a slightly crisp feel, and it makes intricate cutting out easier. If you want an aged or antique look, use shellac, which is honey-colorer. This is one of my favourite sealants.

Sanding sealer, button polish, and shellac are available from most hardware stores and from many craft and art stores. They are alcohol based and dry quickly.

You can also use spray fixatives, water based varnishes, or white craft glue, which should be diluted to the consistency of paint. Again, coat both sides of the image and remember that water based preparations take longer to dry than alcohol based ones.

3. Adhesives: All the projects done by me were decorated with motifs glued with white craft glue. However, some have mod podge on it but most of them are just plain craft glue. This water based adhesive is white or yellow when it is wet and transparent when it is dry. It can be thinned with water and used as a varnish. When it is dry it has a hard,"plastic" feel. When you use it to apply individual motifs, always wipe away any excess adhesive from around the edge of the design with a damp cloth. White glue is available in craft and art stores and in hardware and stationary stores.

4. Paints: Water based latex and acrylic paints are easy to use because they dry reasonably quickly and you can wash the brushes in water and detergent. (If you wish, use a hair dryer to speed up drying times).The projects I have done were painted with flat latex paint.

Artists' paints can be used to colour or decorate objects. Acrylic paints, which can be bought in tubes, cannot be used to bring out the cracks in a crackle varnish, however, because they are water based and the paint will adhere to the second coat of crackle varnish, which is also water based, and will smudge when you try to wipe it off to highlight the cracks. You can use artist's acrylic paints to tint white latex paint both to create a background colour or add lines and details to finished objects.

Artist's oil paints are used in an antique glaze or to bring out the cracks when crackle varnish is used. The paint is applied by dampening a cloth with mineral spirits, squeezing a small amount of paint onto the cloth and rubbing it over the surface of the decoupage item once the second stage varnish is dry abd the cracks have appeared. Raw umber is often used to enhance the cracks after the second stage of crackle varnish, while burnt umber creates reddish brown cracks.

These days you get Camlin Crackle medium but for that the method is different. You need to paint the colour which you want in the cracks first and then apply the medium and then the colour that you want the major base to be. This is no doubt a easier and faster way but not the authentic way and the results will tell you that clearly.

5. Primers and Undercoats: Use a red oxide metal primer on metal. Clean your brushes in mineral spirits. If you are decorating untreated wood, use acrylic primer followed by white acrylic undercoat.

6. Varnishes and Finishes: When you have glued the motifs and the adhesive is absolutely dry, you must apply several layers of varnish. The aim is to "lose" the edges of the motifs in the varnish, and some people apply up to twenty coats, while others find that three or four coats are sufficient. However many coats you apply, you should leave each one to dry thoroughly, then sand it very lightly with the finest grit sandpaper before applying the next. Do not sand the final coat. make sure that you remove any dust adhering to the surface of the object before applying varnish.

The kind of varnish you will use will be largely determined by the use to which the object will be put. Trays and table mats, for example, will need a tough, heat resistant, gloss surface that can be wiped cleaned. A lamp, on the other hand, will look attractive if the light reflects from a smooth satin finish, and some pieces of furniture need a wax polish over a flat varnish. If you do not like your first choice and if you have not applied a wax polish, you can sand the surface gently with fine sandpaper and apply a varnish with a different finish.

As we have already noted, white glue can be diluted and used as a varnish. There are, however, several other kinds of varnish that you might prefer to use.

a. Acrylic Varnish : This water based varnish is especially easy to use. You can wash your brushes in water, it does not have a strong, pungent smell, it dries fairly quickly, it is waterproof when it is dry, and it does not yellow with age. acrylic varnish can be bought in hardware and do-it-yourself stores and in art stores, and it is available in flat, gloss, and silk finishes.

b. Water Based Varnish: A water based varnish takes only 10-15 minutes to dry, making it especially useful when you are trying to build up several layers to blur the edges of your cut-out motifs as quickly as possible.

c. Polyurethane Varnish: Polyurethane wood varnish is available in all hardware stores, and it comes in flat, gloss, and satin finishes and in a range of tints, including clear. It does have a tendency to yellow slightly with age, and so it can be used when you want to give an "aged" effect to your work. Many people prefer polyurethane varnish to acrylic varnish, which has a rather hard appearance.

d. Shellac: You can use shellac to seal most surfaces, including paper and new wood, but it is not heat resistant and you must apply a coat of varnish to finish off. Shellac is honey coloured and is often used to "age" pieces. It is also useful as an insulating layer between two incompatible paints or varnishes. Clean your brushes in denatured alcohol.

e. White Polish: Like shellac, of which it is rather more refined version, white polish is alcohol based. It gives a transparent finish that will dissolve in denatured alcohol, even when it is dry. Use it when you do not want an antique effect.

f. Crackle Varnish: Also sometimes known as cracklure, crackle varnish is solid in a two stage pack in art and craft stores. The first coat is oil based, and it continues to dry under the second, faster drying, water based layer,which causes the top coat to crack. It is a fascinating varnish to use because the results are always unpredictable.

Drying time vary, depending on the thickness of the varnish and on the temperature and humidity of the room in which it is applied. You can speed up the second stage by using a hairdryer, set to medium, held about 2 feet away from the surface. When it is dry, the cracked varnish can be aged with artist's oil paints to reveal the cracks to best effects. If you do not like the results, you can wash off the second coat and try again.

You can buy a wholly water based crackle varnish, which is available in some craft stores. It is simpler to use and gives more predictable results than oil based cracklure. You can choose from a variety of "cracking" effects and sizes, which do not depend on temperature or humidity, and you may want to experiment with this type of crackle varnish until you feel confident enough to tackle the oil based version.

Because new kinds of crackle varnish keep coming onto the market, make sure that you read the manufacturer's instructions before you begin. If you are in doubt, ask the advice of the store in which you bought in the varnish.

g. Crackle Glaze: Use crackle glaze between two different colours of latex paint to produce a cracked or crazed second colour, through which the underlying colour can be seen.

h. Wax: Ordinary furniture wax can be used to give a polished sheen to an object that has been finished with flat varnish. Apply it with a damp cloth, and get into the habit of polishing the object every time you walk past it so that you not only have a beautifully gleaming finish but also have that lingering scent that only wax polish gives to a room.

i. Antique Glaze: Use this when you want to produce really beautiful objects. as you gain experience and confidence, you may want to make your own glaze with mineral spirits and artist's oil paint. Mix them to a creamy consistency in a small glass jar and apply the glaze with a soft cloth to give a soft "aged'' appearance.

7. Sanding: You will need a selection of sandpapers, ranging from coarse to the finest you can buy. Not only must you prepare the surface of the object to be decorated, but finishing the decoupaged article with very fine sandpaper gives a smooth, professional looking finish.

8. Brushes: In order to complete the projects, you will need a selection of brushes. Good brushes are expensive, but as long as you look after them well, they will last far longer than less expensive brushes. However, there may be times when it is more convenient to use a cheaper brush, which you can discard when it is unusable.

After applying latex paint, wash your brushes thoroughly in water and detergent. It is good idea to have separate brushes for oil paints and varnishes. Clean them with mineral spirits or a commercial cleaner.

a. Varnish Brushes: These flat brushes can be synthetic or pure bristle. They are available in different widths. When you are using water based varnishes and paints, synthetic brushes tend to give better results because they give a better flow and do not leave brush marks.

If you use crackle varnish, use two separate varnish brushes and label them for the appropriate stages because it is important that the two varnishes are not mixed when they are wet or the crackle will not work. Always clean the brushes immediately after use.

b. Decorating Brushes: Look out for a variety of widths in hardware stores. If possible, choose the brushes, which do not shed hairs. It can be extremely annoying to find that you have not noticed a stray hair until the paint or varnish has dried.

Use cheap brushes for shellac because denatured alcohol tends to ruin them. Do not use mineral spirits to clean brushes used for shellac.

c. Watercolor Brushes: Use artist's paint brushes to add fine details and for touching up. You will find a choice of widths and qualities in art stores, and the most useful for acrylic paints are sizes no 4, no 6, and no 9. I use a flat edges oil paint brush for the edges of the table mats because it is easy to control.

9. Additional Equipment: In addition to the above, you will need one or two other items to complete a project.

a. Sponges: Natural sponges produce the best and softest effects when you are sponging on paints, but if you use a synthetic sponge, tear rather than cut off small pieces so that they have slightly rough edges.

b. Roller: A small rubber roller (sometimes called a brayer) or a small plastic roller of the kind sold in hardware stores for smoothing the edges of wallpaper is useful for pressing over glued images to remove all air bubbles and to give even adhesion. You can use the back of a spoon instead in small areas, and when you are applying motifs to large, flat surfaces, such as furniture, you may be able to use your pastry rolling pin. Press down with a firm, smooth motion, pushing air bubbles and excess glue from the centre to the edges of the motif. Do not use you fingers, or you will tear the paper.

If the surface to which you are applying a motif is uneven, use a slightly dampened sponge, pressed evenly from the centre outward.

10. Cleaning Materials: Use denatured alcohol to dilute shellac and button polish and to clean the brushes with which you apply these substances.

Mineral Spirits can be used to clean the surface of an object before decoupage motifs are applied. Use it also to dilute oil based paints and varnishes and to clean brushes.

Clean brushes used for latex paint and water based varnishes with detergent and water. Work a small amount of undiluted detergent into the bristles first, then rinse them thoroughly with clean water.

Another project: I dont have most of my projects pictures thanks to the last year Bangalore Exhibition!!

I just hope I have been able to share my experience with all these mediums to the best of my ability but as I always you yourself experiment with the mediums you will never know what further to do with never shy off from experimenting!!!

NOTE: Mod Podge and its various varieties do give a faster result but if you are someone who loves to experiment and loves to work with mediums only then you may enjoy this post and also these are way cheaper solutions to Mod Podge as the amount spent in one project may go up if using a brand like Mod Podge ...the materials mentioned here can be easily bought cheap from hardware stores!!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Color Conception Challenges Quiz:Day 2

Hello lovely ladies!!

Welcome to Day 2 of Color Conception Challenge Quiz

As we announced earlier it is celebration time for us, as our blog Color Conception Challenges has received immense support & love from you all & we have crossed 100 followers soon.

We have compiled a photo quiz for you for 6 days. We have five questions each day which will be announced by all team members on their personal blogs. So make sure you visit our blog to know who the host is for the day & remember you have time only until mid night to participate. 

Remember this is just for FUN, we are not here to test your knowledge. So lets all play along in the right spirit. Exciting???  Well here are some points to remember
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