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Thursday, 30 April 2015

Using the Mouth Atomizer with Ink

The main aim of today’s project is to show you how to use the mouth atomizer with ink. I am going to make a page for my art journal commemorating a painting I have done repeatedly for clients (albeit every time with small changes). The scene is of the Knysna heads in the Western Cape province of South Africa. If you ever make your way anywhere, this is high on the priority list of places to see.

I start by preparing a sheet of paper with gesso. Gesso will allow just about any paper to take paint. This is a normal 80 gsm paper. Simply paint 2-3 layers of gesso on the paper. You can learn more about strengthening paper with Gesso from an earlier blog by clicking here.

I will need the mouth atomizer, ink and newspaper for the project. I use Dala’s Acrylic Ink for today’s project, since it is not something I intend to sell (in which case I recommend using Daler-Rowney’s FW Acrylic Ink). Since Dala’s ink is much cheaper than its counterparts I am less worried about the ink that will necessarily be wasted. This is because the mouth atomizer has a high velocity spray that will send the ink flying all over. Make sure you cover your work surface to protect it before you start.

Put the thin end of the atomizer in the ink. Open the atomizer to a 90° angle. Hold the atomizer so that the angle is aimed at the spot you want to paint. Take a deep breath and blow hard. The ink will shoot up the tube and your breath will push the spray on to the spot that the angle is aimed at. I used a newspaper to cover the parts of the paper I wanted to leave unaffected. The first colour I sprayed was Sepia.

I moved the newspaper up a bit and put the atomizer into the blue ink. I sprayed this onto the paper, not minding that the colours to the bottom would mix.

I repeated the process using Magenta ink.

The last section was sprayed with violet ink.

I then ‘dirtied’ this section with the colour I started with, Sepia, to bring it together.

Since I worked quite hastily, none of the sections had had time to dry. I now lifted my paper, allowing the ink to run down. When I was satisfied with the effect, I put it aside to dry completely before I continued.

While the ink was drying on the paper, I made a point of cleaning the atomizer very quickly. Wet acrylic ink is very easy to clean, whereas dry ink is tremendously stubborn to come out. To clean the atomizer you can simply wipe the outside down, or wash it in clean water. Then hold the atomizer in the water and spray the water onto a newspaper, the same way you sprayed the ink earlier. Once the water comes out clean, the atomizer’s tube is also clean. (Did you notice how dirty my hand got from holding the newspaper down so I wouldn’t blow it away while spraying the ink?)

Once the background had dried completely, I used a small filbert brush to paint the rest of the design onto the page. I started with Sepia again to paint the mountains and land areas.

I used white ink to paint the buildings and sailboats with their reflections.

I used yellow ink to paint the foliage and then painted blue on top to mix my own green.

I used magenta to put roofs on the buildings.

Finally I signed my name with a feather and black ink. If you don't like the idea of using a feather, you can also use a dip pen.

I waited for the ink to dry completely before I added the journaling with a metallic marker to the project.

Here is what I wrote: “Most places are reached when you physically show up to fill a space. Knysna is different. This is a place you reach with your soul. Here you will linger long after your body has already reached a new destination.” Because Knysna is memory in my soul, I opted to do this page in the manner it was done, which is much more an illusion of the paintings I’ve done than it is a replica of it.

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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Butterfly Card

I have another birthday coming up and the gift is sorted. As a matter of fact, it is already wrapped. All that is left to do is to make a beautiful card to accompany the gift. I love it when the card and the wrapping paper and/or gift compliment each other.

I start by gathering a selection of materials to work with. As I progress through the creative process some of these will fall away and others will be added. But I have a starting point and that is all I need at the moment. I choose a background that is similar to the background of the wrapping paper. I zoom in on the purple, because I know it is a favourite colour of the recipient of the gift. I add a selection of paper off-cuts from previous projects. It is the one thing that is really great about cardmaking; the fact that you can often use with off-cuts rather than cutting up new paper sheets. Lastly I add some designs of the wrapping paper itself. I had a small piece left after wrapping the gift and I cut this up to add to the file I keep for cut-out pictures.

The card consists of a normal A4 piece of cardboard which I fold in half in the width.

I layer a discarded frame and piece of paper I have on it. You can easily cut your own frame with a craft knife. Decide on the length and width of the frame and cut out the cardboard. Now cut 1 cm inside the frame, doing your best not to cut into the frame. This is very easy when working on a cutting mat, using a metal ruler and sharp craft knife. It is too easy to cut into plastic rulers, which is why I prefer the metal ones instead. I also cut a piece of vellum with a purple flower motif to go on top of the other off-cut.

Next, I decide which butterflies from the wrapping paper I like best for the card and I cut these out with a pair of sharp scissors.

I have some frames that have been cut in half and decide that even these would work quite nicely on the card. The complete frames would not work in this case, since they are too small for what I have in mind. I will use the off-cut frames to make photo corners (although they won’t be fitted on a photo).

I use a roll of double-sided tape to attach the layers to the card.

I then decide that the vellum could be used more creatively. I go in search of an embossing roller and roll the vellum through the roller. You can also use a range of machines or embossing tools for this purpose. The most commonly used machine in South Africa is probably the Cuttlebug. Drop me a comment if you’d like me to follow up with a blog on embossing.

I add the embossed vellum.

I use double-sided 3Dsquares to attach the butterflies to the card.

I turn to the inside of the card. I prefer to leave this space wide open so that I can add poems or long messages, but strongly dislike the vast openness. I use the cut-up frames and glue them to the card with double-sided tape.

My card is now complete and can be added to the gift.

If you want to learn more about cardmaking or want to explore more creative ideas, you can consult any of the many available books on the topic, e.g. Celebrate with Cards, available from

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Remember to keep nurturing your TALENT for making PRETTY things.
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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Cheese & Chips Cookies

Today I am going to share a marvellously simple recipe with you that is so easy to make that you can do it with the kids or let the slightly older ones do it by themselves. This is a savoury cookie and a firm favourite with my family where there are a number of people who prefer savoury to sweet.

Here is a list of the ingredients:
100 g Butter
100 g Margarine
150 g Cheese (Cheddar works best)
200 g Chips (I prefer Big Corn Bites Barbeque flavour)
500 ml Cake Flour (2 cups)

It really is as simple as mixing everything together, but I’ll walk you through the steps and show you what you can do to make it even easier. For starters, I prefer to melt the butter and margarine (100 g each). This is not necessary, but it makes it easier to mix it in properly.

Grate the cheese (150 g). There is no need to grate this finely for it will be melting during the baking process. Use a rough grater to speed things up a bit.

Sieve 2 cups of flour in a bowl.

I prefer to use Big Corn Bites Barbeque flavoured chips, but you can swap the chips out for your favourites. Bear in mind that the biscuits get almost all of their flavour from the chips and therefore you need to be working with strongly flavoured chips for best results.

To restrict the mess, I crush the chips in the packet. Don’t be too hasty or the packet will burst open.

Add the chips to the flour.

Add the cheese to the flour and chips.

Mix with your hand to make sure the chips and cheese are covered in flour. This will reduce clumps of cheese and will help the chips to be more cohesive.

Add the melted butter and margarine and mix with your hand (make sure the melted fats and oils have cooled down before putting your hand in there).

It should look like this when it is mixed, starting to form balls when you press it together.

This is a good time to set your oven to 200° C. It should be just about warm by the time you are done rolling balls.

Roll small balls (this is more like pressing it together), flatten it a little in the palm of your hand and put on a baking sheet. I always spray my baking sheets, but I suspect this will not stick, because of the high fat content. However, I am not willing to risk it to find out. The cookies will not spread, but I still prefer to leave space between them, because it speeds up the baking process by allowing warm air to flow freely between them.

Stick the cookies in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Put them on a wire rack to cool and enjoy. My family usually has half the cookies consumed by the time they are cool enough to put away. The recipe makes approximately 4 dozen cookies (48), depending on the size of the balls you roll.

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Remember to keep nurturing your TALENT for making PRETTY things.

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