Saturday, 6 February 2016

Playtime - distress markers and stencils - part 1

This January I had some random annual leave to use up so I had 4 self indulgent days of play with distress markers, stencils and texture paste while listening to loud music and funny stuff on the radio. Bliss. Usually the tightness of time means I need to get on with whatever the project is, maybe a quilt or an urgent birthday card so there's rarely time just to play and experiment. As I wasn't spending money on an actual holiday I treated myself to some new bits and bobs. See the pretty!
I've used distress markers since they were introduced but I've never really used them to the max. I'd always known they could do more than just ink up stamps in different colours but I hadn't explored further. I watched some of the you tube videos coming out of this year's Craft and Hobby Association trade show in California and got really enthused to try out some of the techniques, especially those by Tim Holtz. I've never been a fan of his dark, grungy style but he's broadened his colour range considerably and shifted slightly into what he calls "vintage" and I call "better". Like everything, crafting supplies go through fashion phases. His products have always been imaginative and well thought out. You can tell they are designed by someone who is himself a crafter.
I used to be a bit irritated by the names on the marker pens like "spiced marmalade" rather than "orange" or "faded denim" instead of "blue". I have to admit though, that after using them some more and making myself a chart of the colours in my collection, the names are spot on and describe the quality of each colour beautifully. I take it all back Tim!
The ink spritzer is one of my fav gadgets. It's a great way to explore colour mixes without all that tedious mucking about with water and buckled paper. What I discovered about the colour palette of the distress markers is that no matter how hard I tried to make a bad colour combo I couldn't make anything truly hideous because the colours all share the same tonal value, basically you can't get it wrong. I think this was the moment at which I had my epiphany. The clouds parted, the sun shone a ray of light on my slightly inky face, a celestial choir sang, the scales fell from my eyes and I got it. You can't get it wrong. Crafting can be good, bad or indifferent but it can't be wrong and there doesn't need to be an end product. For me crafting is a form of meditation which I just happen to do with my hands. If I have a busy patch where I don't do something creative for a few days I feel disconnected from myself. So I wacked the music up loud (Yes - McAlmont & Butler, Do You Realise - the Flaming Lips, Just A Gigolo - Louis Prima, River Man - Nick Drake) did some chair dancing and played.
I started with the textured paste and stencils, having spritzed an inky background using broken china and stormy sky. I spread the paste through the stencil and it picked up the colours from the background which was unexpected but nice.
Then I tried mixing a small amount of colour into a blob of textured paste and spread through another stencil.
Once dried the paste is hard but can still absorb paint if you want to paint over it. I didn't but I was impressed with the result.

I kept trying different combinations and added a narrow strip across the front of this sunnier coloured background to allow room to add a sentiment later.
The real fun thing I found was stencilling over a background. Im not sure if it was this particular stencil (one I've had for a while and forgotten the name of but the code on the bottom is THS032) or the colours but this really grabbed me.

And yes, this is a different background but for some reason I can't load up the proper photo but you get the idea. The flourishes were added by picking up colour on a felt ink dabber and were a mix of mini ink pads and distress markers. I scribbled some colour from the markers onto my silicon worksheet and picked it up with the foam pad. This increases the colour range available without having to buy a whole load of ink pads. I started light in the centre and switched to a darker colour moving out to the edge of the card, all the while keeping the stencil firmly in place.

But what would this look like in pink or red or orange...?
I particularly liked the brown and blue. The brown was dark enough to let me add some white highlights and created a worn, leathery look. Then I stuck a paper flower on it.

Flowers? Yup.....part two of this post coming up...

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