Daily Archives: June 29, 2008

Combining Digital Elements with Traditional Scrapbooking

It’s reasonable that you might have questions when it comes to using your computer to help you create scrapbook pages. Once you understand that you don’t have to abandon all the wonderful traditional scrapbooking skills, supplies, and tools you love, you’ll see that the computer is just another way you preserve your precious memories.

Many scrapbookers hesitate to use digital elements because it feels a little like cheating. Scrapbooking is supposed to be personal and handcrafted; some people don’t see the computer and its systems lending warmth and emotion to this art genre. Somehow we thought the computer would destroy the human touch valued in designing scrapbook pages.

But don’t let that cold metal fool you! A computer can be used to create vibrant, heart-touching scrapbook pages and scrapbooking embellishments. After all, since you are the one inputting data, such as photos, creative borders, and journaling to the computer, your unique personality will be reflected in your pages whether you cut and paste with scissors and glue or with the point and click of a mouse.

Is it Safe?

Many scrapbookers are worried about the safety of entrusting their scrapbook pages to the computer. They think that digital elements will not be archival due to the untested quality of computer paper and printer cartridge ink. However, as interest in digital scrapbooking increased, the computer industry started going out of its way to dispel these worries.

Acid-free computer paper is available at most computer stores, and don’t forget that all those great acid-free scrapbooking papers you see in craft and scrapbooking stores can be used in any printer. Most printer inks have a long life if cared for properly, and you can find art sprays that will add to the paper’s life. As with any scrapbook pages, you should keep them out of direct sunlight, store them in low humidity, avoid exposing them to extremes in temperature, and handle them with clean hands only.

You can safety store all of your digital elements in files and folders in your computer that you can access for years to come rather than having them scattered around your scrapbooking area. And, by scanning all your completed scrapbook pages, you will have them at hand to quickly review for inspiration.

Moreover, if you copy and store your scrapbook pages, photographs, documents, and memorabilia on digital media like a compact disk, they have an estimated shelf life of 100 years. Like most computer technology, this is likely to be upgraded and extended within the next five to 10 years. For comparison, knowing that a video’s lifespan is 10 years should further motivate you to begin using digital technology in your scrapbooking.

Why Should I Try It?

Once you feel comfortable knowing digital elements can safely be added to your treasured scrapbooking pages, you might start wondering why you should even bother adding digital elements to your scrapbooking efforts. Up until now you’ve been doing fine without it.

The best reason is that you can expand and explore your creativity using some of most powerful and productive artistic tools available to you. You don’t need any special skills or talents to use a computer to create dynamic scrapbook pages. You may need to read a few instructions or a manual, but the computer, software, scanners, printers, and digital cameras offer you almost unlimited ability to stretch your creative abilities. It’s not just artistic reasons that should have you excited about using your computer to scrapbook. You can save yourself time and work more efficiently. Let’s take a closer look.

One of the most important benefits of using your computer and other digital gadgets is the convenience of doing much of your work at home. This is especially important when working with photographs. You can copy or print your own photographs rather than driving to your photo developer. With photo-editing software you can enhance your photos by adjusting the brightness, contrast, and color rather than crossing your fingers and hoping the photo technician has the time to make all those adjustments.

Think a bigger photograph would be better for your scrapbook page design? Or maybe you need to make a photo smaller? Photo-editing software makes it easy to resize photos quickly. You can even create your own contact sheets or print out wallet size photos for a small scrapbook. You can crop a photo without cutting it on your computer by simply using a digital cropping tool found in photo software programs. You can also remove bothersome red eye and pet eye.

Artistic Possibilities
You can have the pleasure of creating your own decorative background papers instead of spending hours trying to find a decorative paper that will do justice to your photograph at a craft store or scrapbooking shop. You can create a theme for a scrapbook with a click of a mouse rather than trying to find the right sticker, die cut, paper punch, rubber stamp, or buying duplicates.

By using specialty papers in your printer, like silk, twill, poplin, or denim fabric (with paper backing so it flows smoothly through the printer), oil canvas (textured just like painting canvas), bright white, glossy, and matte, you can expand the range of looks for photos, frames, and borders. And if you get brave or just plain crafty, you can try a magnetic sheet to create refrigerator magnets, a fabric-transfer sheet to create a T-shirt, a shrink-plastic sheet to create jewelry or window-cling sheets to share your photos with the world that walks by your front window.

Although some personal handwriting should be included in a scrapbook, there is no reason not to take advantage of the availability of attractive fonts and specialty types. Think of it—no more lightly tracing straight lines onto your scrapbook page with your pencil while hoping you can erase those lines when you are done journaling. There is even software that allows you to turn your own handwriting into a font! You can spend more time choosing your words rather than worrying if your grandchild will be able to read your writing.

Working in Multiples
Using your computer to duplicate a scrapbook page or an entire scrapbook can save you time, effort, and money. All you need to do is create the page, scan it, and then print the scanned page onto quality paper. This is great for pages you design around family gatherings such as a birthday party, wedding, or family reunion. You can create several traditional scrapbook pages and print out duplicates that you place into simple binders and give as keepsakes to family and friends. Imagine how much time and effort that saves you—time you can spend creating more scrapbook pages.

Common Bonds

Are you inspired to create on your computer yet? Creating digitally doesn’t mean you can sit back and let the computer do all the work. You need to know the principles of photography and design before you meet the monitor face to face. Taking the best photographs you can and applying proven design theories will help you create pages that please your eye. The following information will help you save time by avoiding common mistakes. You need to combine your technical knowledge with your creative enthusiasm to produce the best results.

Collage And Altered Art

All collages (whether you realized it or not) follow several basic elements of design. Balanced with these elements must be your own personal likes and dislikes of your collage. You can be technically perfect in any piece of art or craft, but if the finished piece is not pleasing to you as the artisan there is no reason to put in the investment of time, effort and money! It may appear that a collage artist has just randomly thrown a bit of this and a touch of that to a collage, but if you take a few minutes to really study a collage you will find each material added to the collage design serves a purpose. A brief review of the elements of design include consideration for:

  • Lines: There will be a border or boundary where you collage begins and ends. You might build a collage on a greeting card or on a sheet of copier paper. The size of this base will limit your boundaries. Also within your collage you may incorporate straight, curved or even broken lines with paper, paint and other embellishments.
  • Shapes: Expanding the limitations of lines. You can bring in circles, squares, rectangles and triangles. These elements may have clean edges or be torn edges of paper and other materials. But, there are shapes seen and some hidden in all collages. With shapes comes a pattern, which are the visual patterns you create using your collage materials. Patterns give texture and dimension to the overall collage design. When combining lines and shapes, you will also want to consider size. You’ll want to mix and match the sizes from large to small no matter what the finished size of the collage will be.
  • Color: Colors may coordinate, compliment or contrast. Colors may be bold, bright, muted, highlighted or shaded. Under the category of color is another term, value. Value is the expression of light or dark within a color and then looking at the bigger picture the tones or hues from white to black.
  • Motion: Also referred to as movement. The way you place your collage materials will give a ‘map’ to the viewer’s eye. Consider where you want to grab the viewer’s eye and how you wish for him/her to look at your collage.

These are the same elements of design used in altered art such as the popular altered books. The altered look is basically a collage of images, words, and photos mixed with art and craft supplies like ink, paint, charms, buttons, tags, and an endless list of other embellishments.

Basics of Polymer Clay

  • Rub a dab of Vaseline into your hands before you start working with the clay. The Vaseline keeps your hands clean and helps conduct the heat from your hands to the clay.
  • If serious about working with polymer clays invest in a pasta machine or a food processor just for working and kneading the clays. Once the clay has been used in the machines, the machines CAN NO LONGER BE USED IN FOOD PROCESSING. However, the machines will cut down on kneading time and help save hand stress.
  • Always start with a clean work surface. The clays pick up dust and other odds and ends from the work table. These “extras” can affect the surface and finish of the clay.
  • There are wonderful cutting, shaping, and design tools on the market for polymer clays, but don’t forget that toothpicks, paper clips, cookie cutters, and pencils are handy tools too. If you are looking for non-stick surfaces, don’t overlook old Formica cabinet doors or ceramic tiles.
  • One of the keys to successful canes is allowing the canes to rest overnight after each reduction. Don’t be in a hurry when making a detailed cane.
  • Warm hands by sitting on them or placing hands on a heating pad while working with the clays.
  • Store clay and canes in airtight containers like a zip-lock plastic bag. Canes can also be wrapped in wax paper or freezer paper. Keep odds and ends scraps for other projects.
  • Yes, different brands of clay can be mixed together, but no one will guarantee the results!
  • Best temperature for baking the clays is always listed on packaging labels. Different brands recommend different temperatures and baking times. Never heat oven over recommended degrees from manufacturer. It is better to use a low temperature and longer baking time than to burn the clay in your oven.

All You Need To Know About Paint Brushes

Types of Brushes

  1. Spotters- Fine detail work
  2. Liners- Continuous curved or straight lines of same thickness
  3. Scripts- Holds more liquid than Liners
  4. Miracle Wedge- Can be loaded on three sides with different colors
  5. Chisel Blenders- Thick, heavy color or fine precision blending
  6. Angular Shaders- Fan, leaf, “S”, and “C” strokes
  7. Filbert- Soft edges and blending colors
  8. Rake- Texturing for fur, grasses, vines, or feathers
  9. Fan- Dry texturing and smoothing, softening of brush strokes
  10. Dagger Striper- Long flowing thick to thin line work
  11. Deerfoot Stippler- Texturizing with pouncing motion for fur or foliage
  12. Washes- Long, broad sweeping strokes · Shaders- Crisp edges, stroke work, and floating
  13. One Stroke- Longer hair than Shader for lettering and borders

Natural or Synthetic?

Natural brushes are made of animal hair and are usually the most costly and time consuming to make. Most painters feel that a natural brush gives the finest chiseled edge or point. Synthetic brushes are manufactured with hairs made of polyester. The advantages of a synthetic brush include being less expensive to produce, easier to clean, less prone to damage from solvents and paint, and better suited for painting with acrylics.

Proper Care of Brushes

  1. Use the proper solvent for the paint being used. Watercolors and acrylics use water. Oils use solvents.
  2. Keep the water-based brushes and solvent brushes (oils) separate. Most solvents repel water.
  3. Always clean the brush between brush changes and color changes. Never allow paint to dry on the brush. Acrylics dry very quickly, even when basecoating with an acrylic there is a need to clean the brush occasionally.
  4. Avoid twisting and pushing down hard on the brush hairs. It leads to distortion of the natural direction of the hairs. The fine edge or point of the brush is permanently damaged.
  5. The water level of your water container should not be above the ferrule (where brush hair is attached to handle) of the brush. Excessive moisture to the handle can cause the surface of the handle to chip and erode causing damage to the ferrule and brush handle. Excessive moisture will distort and loosen the ferrule.
  6. Never let a brush sit in water. Clean or rinse brush and remove from water container. When the painting session is done completely clean the brush. First wipe brush on a paper towel. Rinse thoroughly in proper solvent. A brush cleaner or soap and water should be used. Then wipe brush over paper towel again to make sure there are no traces of color left in brush. Dry the brush including ferrule and handle. Reshape the brush with fingers.
  7. Store brushes upright on their handles, suspended, or lying flat. Tips (brush hair) should not be bent or pressured.
  8. Avoid storing wet brushes in an airtight container to prevent mildew problems.
  9. Do not try to keep placing the little plastic tip protector back on the brush. More times than not, damage is done to the brush hairs. The plastic tip was meant to protect the brush from the manufacturer to the store shelf.
  10. Avoid getting paint into the ferrule. It is better to have a light touch with the paints and have to apply a second coat, than to overload a brush with paint. It is a good idea to occasionally restore the natural oils in natural hair brushes with a paintbrush conditioner or clean with conditioning brush soap.
  11. Use damaged brushes for basecoating, strippling, antiquing, or donate to a children’s craft class.

Aging & Antiquing

Supplies Needed

Antiquing Gel: This is a liquid that is brushed on and then rubbed off leaving a thin film that makes an object look older. There are a variety of colors from white to black.
Steeped Tea: Place several tea bags into a bowl and add hot water. You want at least 3 tea bags to each cup of water. In other words, you want a strong batch of tea. Avoid teas that don’t give rich color like green teas.
Chalk Inks: A pigment ink that is usually light in saturation and hue.
When dry, it leaves a chalky like finish. Usually lightly sponged onto
antique a paper.
Acrylic Paints: Watered down to an inky consistency. Colors of dark blue, patina green, rust, black and burnt umber work best on light color paper while white, light gray and light blue work best on dark colors. Plus an old hard bristle tooth brush.
Fine Grit Sandpaper or Emery Board


6 Ways to Age, Antique or Distress

  1. You can ball up the paper and then smooth out. The more you crumple it, the more aged it will look. You’ll have a paper with a fine webbing of age lines. For a more polished look, iron the distressed paper.
  2. Spray a mist of strong tea onto the paper and iron it. The straining will make the paper look old. Repeat misting until the paper is aged to your perfection.
  3. Use fine grit sandpaper or emery board and sand lightly over different areas of your paper.
  4. Lightly sponge chalk ink over paper in aged colors like mustard, brown, rust, black or patina green. Keep adding color until happy. Light layering of color works best. A final dab of metallic ink adds richness to the antiquing.
  5. Lay background paper or scrapbook page on newspaper or other work surface covering. Dip old toothbrush into watered down acrylic paint. Flick toothbrush with your thumb and this sends a fine mist of paint over the paper. Repeat until you are happy. This technique is called speckling paper. Most craft acrylic paints are acid free.
  6. For hard surfaces like charms you can age the item by using antiquing gel. You will rub or brush on a small amount of the gel and then immediately brush the gel off with a paper towel. The gel will stick in the cracks and crevices to give the item an antique look.
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