Craft experiments: Photo Transfer to Canvas

I love taking photographs.  Even before the age of smartphones and selfies, I would hold my point and shoot DSL-like camera and click it framing my son and I in a photo that looks like it was taken by someone in front of me.  Friends would often wonder how I did it.  I kept telling them, it’s plain and simple practice.

  1. I would look at the lens and make sure that the reflection I saw there was the framing I was hoping to achieve.
  2. Whether I was taking a blind selfie or not, or taking the photo of another subject, I already knew not to place the subject’s head in the middle of the frame.  (A common  mistake), and instead put it on the upper center of the photo.
  3. I also knew I had to look at the lens, not at my hand.

In truth, this was really one of the skills of motherhood.  Ever since I became a Mom, I took numerous snapshots of my then little baby on a daily basis, capturing every essence of his day.  My camera and I were inseparable.  This is the reason why I have always opted for a fancy point and shoot rather than an actual DSLR.

Through the years, I’ve also learned that taking a snapshot of an actual photograph can produce better results than an actual scan.  (This, of course, is just my humble opinion.)

I have always had a deeply sentimental nature when it came to photographs.  I brought home a ton of my pictures through the years through my various trips home to Manila, and what I couldn’t take  (or chose not to take), I took photos of.  Holding a photo and looking at it, whether or not it’s me in the photo or someone else, evokes a wave of emotions and memories that a simple thought cannot bring.  It is a magical experience all its own.

Then I fell in love with the idea of photographing jeepneys and the many scenes of New York.  From the flora of Bryant Park to the gorgeous foliage of Central Park, to the never-ordinary cityscape showing any of our iconic buildings like the Empire State Building — I have amassed quite a personal trove of photos.

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One thing that the digital age has robbed us of, I think, is the need to actually produce these pictures as hard copy mementos of the moments they captured.  We have become content with visually beholding them in our smart phones or on our computer screens.  We have stopped printing them or creating a physical copy.

I’ve always wanted to incorporate these photos in my artwork but have really not had the chance to try until recently.  Again, I’m a crafter more than an artist, so my creative process is about acquiring the skill rather than cultivating a talent.  I am so green with envy of the real artists out there who can grab a pencil or a brush and with a few strokes create something others can drool over.  I call my attempts, “Personal art”.

Scouring the internet, I’ve found several resources that give tutorials on photo transfers on canvas using a gel or glue medium.  Over the previous week, I tried using regular mod podge after having painted small canvas panels with acrylic beforehand.  I’ve had some practice doing this on Artist Trading Card backgrounds half a lifetime ago, so the backgrounds were the easy piece of the puzzle.

Since this was purely experimental, I decided to go with a 4×5 canvas panel.  Aim small, miss small, as they say.

I already had future projects in mind so I decided to experiment with (1) a full-photo transfer, and (2) a collage transfer, essentially focusing on a cut out.  Below is a macro shot of Angelo when he was maybe 4 or 5, laser printed as recommended.  I printed the photo slightly larger than the canvas panel but I didn’t intend to wrap the edge of the photo print out on the sides of the frame.  From the get-go, I meant to show some of the background by exposing the edges.  I wanted it to be a distressed transfer to give the photo more drama.

The background was a hodge podge of gold, copper and silver acrylic.

This second one was a cut out of the dancing girl figure, a picture of me when I was maybe 3-4 years old.

<Untitled

Chalk it to my impatience — instead of waiting for the customary drying time of 24 hours, I wanted to see as quickly as possible if the ink would indeed be transferred by applying a generous amount of transfer medium to the print out and then pasting it onto the canvas panel.  (This was, after all, an experiment only, so I threw all caution to the wind.)

Cutting out the figure that I wanted, I pasted it onto the canvas but being careful not to let any glue get onto the backside of the picture.  Two or three tutorials I viewed warned against this because any part of the printout with glue on the backside (the reverse side) would not be rubbed out when you tried to get the transfer reveal.

I think my transfers went well for a first attempt, and as far as first attempts go.  I’ve already stocked up on regular canvas to work with bigger projects which I hope to showcase here in future posts.

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Freeform crochet, anyone?

#crochetProject: #tinywheels to be stitched together as part of my foray into #freeformCrochet .. Still trying to find the right shade of #Fiuschia #yarn #crochet #crafts #craftproject #pinkandpurple #stitchesI had started drafting this post more than a month ago and it has remained unposted due to difficulties uploading the graphics.  Well, I’m determined to do this today.

I learned how to crochet in fifth grade with the nuns.  Even back then, I already loved crafts and was drawn to the lure of wanting to create.  I have written about how I had once upon a time taught myself how to knit, using the how-to in our encyclopedia — way before the advent of the Internet.

While I can only knit and purl the regular way, I have been fortunate to be able to “read” crochet patterns and actual word instructions.

A former high school friend of mine whose Pinterest board I follow had started pinning crochet patterns and pieces which spurred a new interest.   I found myself  hooked! (Pardon the pun!). I stumbled into other like boards, and I was immediately curious about free form crochet.  It was, literally, an abstract creation of shapes, patterns and textures.  You just went and pulled together a patchwork of color, stitches and different yarns.

I went to YouTube and found various instructional videos and I was learning again!  One of the things I like about crafting is that it is a continuing journey of learning.  There are always new techniques to learn no matter how good you have become at a certain pursuit.  There were new stitches and techniques to begin the whole piece and bits and pieces to improve on tightening a look, or producing a certain shape and form.

I knew what I wanted to create and what colors I needed, so I hied off to grab some yarn.

Trying freed form crochet

Sine I started on this project, I have had a couple of trips to different stores, just eyeballing the various offerings and deciding right there and then when a color appealed to me.  I am still in search of the elusive right shade of fuschia pink, but I am not giving up.

In the meantime, I’ve created and experimented with bits and pieces, until I can get comfortable enough to piece them together.  Still trying..

Knitting away

Bliggraphics

I had taught myself to knit using chopsticks and the illustrations in our encyclopedia back in my early teens.  I am not even sure I am doing it right right but I do manage to knit and purl through a piece as I go along with even stitches now.

All bundled up: Scarf done!  A pop of color with my off white coat.  Just what I need to brighten up another cold winter day in New York. #Knitting #scarf #popcornyarn #handmade #popofcolor #allbundledup #finishedproject #handcrafted #madebyme #gothamchic

To make up for my lack of skills in doing stitches, I’ve taken to working with fancy yarns and a variety of larger needles.

BloggraphicIt takes a little imagination to “see” how a piece will come out after I finish knitting it, but I try to focus on the colors and texture.

Last chance to wear this newly-knitted fancy yarn scarf.. Second piece finished this winter, ready for wear next year! Feeling #productive! #handmade #knitting #fancyyarn #handicrafts #knitted #madebyme #madeforme #winterscarf #bundleup #gothamchick #pina

Mostly, I get lucky.  This winter has been very productive — two scarves done!  I’m also working on “fixing” two other previous pieces, and I’m looking forward to that.

I like knitting because it’s very relaxing for me, and I like receiving compliments from people who notice the unique colors and texture of the pieces I wear when I do.  My fallback piece is a native woven scarf from Baguio care of “Narda’s”, a famous native weaver in the Mountain province, and it’ll come in handy as it starts to get warmer.  Still need to bundle up, though.

Happy Friday!

Splashes of Color

In Mags: splashes of color
I take my everyday inspiration from splashes of color I see in magazine layouts or in everyday things I come across when I go through my day.

I don’t pretend to know the best color schemes. I am a consumer like you and I take inspiration from artists and other creative people. I often browse the colorful ads in the magazines and I take my cue from there. I look at the overall tone (dark, warm, bright) and then I look at the individual colors present.

These days I’ve been busy twisting and threading wire. I’m trying to come up with color compositions to make the stones compliment the one next to it. Sometimes I simply play it by ear.

Work in progress: agate beads and wire-wrappingBeads and color

I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting but also recognize that I have to start producing my regular pieces along the way. I am hoping to post a few soon as Mother’s Day, after all, is just around the corner. At least I’m focusing on my store again.

There are also some very good sales at the moment, but I’m trying not to purchase anything beyond what I need for my experimenting.

My gauge 28 wire is a current favorite. It’s thin enough to manipulate and molds nicely to take the shape of what I’m trying to wrap. It’s getting easier but like any skill, it takes practice.

My Polymer Clay Owl Picture Frame – A progress report

Last week, I tried to create a “hollow” face by using corrugated cardboard as armature (or a support / inner mold) for my owl, and while the “face” or outside portion of the owl turned out nicely, the back was rather scraggly and “dirty”.  I took out the cardboard and saw how the edges of the clay had taken its form, leaving a corrugated and unkempt look that was just not desirable for my project.  Leaving the cardboard on didn’t look good either, so I guess I am letting go of the idea of using some form of armature for the frame.

Over the weekend, I tried something new.  I created a pattern on clay and baked it and used this as the basic mold pattern for my owl body.

I cut a total of three layers of clay but in different thicknesses.  It wasn’t a matter of just putting the clay layers together, but each layer served a purpose.

My first cut was the middle piece which I rolled on the 4th setting of my clay machine.   For this piece, I cut the body and the actual photo frame hole as I had on the clay pattern.

The second, I cut at the thickest setting, but I only used the clay mold for the outer shape and I used a larger circle die to cut a hole in it, and I positioned this behind the first cut I did, taking care to make sure it fit the owl snuggly.

Note that pressed clay like this can stretch one way or the other if you tug at it, so it’s important to endeavor to keep the shape.

Then finally, I put in a layer of clay which I had rolled at the 6th settingand “wrapped” the two layers together, folding it into the sides and molding it clean.
Polymer Clay Owls for Lux

I baked the piece encased in a parchment paper “envelope” of sorts and put them between two bottoms of a baking pans.  The back is hollow and my next step is to create a molded back cover for the picture and something to attach the magnet onto.   I’d have gotten to it sooner but I’ve been feeling under the weather.

I’m still hoping to do it this weekend somehow.

Polymer Clay Owl Picture Frame – First Attempt

Party Favor: Polymer Clay Owl Picture Frame (First Attempt)

So I’ve started experimenting with creating a polymer clay picture frame souvenir for my niece’s first birthday this September. I modified an existing pattern online and have created the above piece in stages. It’s an interesting learning experience for me because I am getting to know more about working with layered clay with this project.

Party Favor: Polymer Clay Owl Picture Frame (First Attempt)

Here’s a palm-perspective size-wise to give you an idea of how big the frame is. Since this is my first attempt, I used the pink base which I intended to do for most of the owls, but I used one of my polymer clay cane experiments for the feathers on the wings. It came out rather nicely but I need to reduce the actual clay content because the frame is a little heavy to hang with magnets on a fridge door.

I am also trying to figure out how to attach the backing to the frame, whether or not it ends up as a standing frame or a fridge magnet.

Party Favor: Polymer Clay Owl Picture Frame Inscription (First Attempt) 

While my original idea was to create polymer letters to inscribe my niece’s name, I attempted stamping the clay while still raw. I just wanted to see th effect. If I do use rubber stamping, I’m going to stain the stamping with a dark colored paint to make it “Visible” beyond the engraving.

I’m actually rather pleased with what I have come up with but it needs a lot of work.  I will try and do another version tonight until I come up with something I like.  Then I need to produce a few dozens to ship home to Manila.  It’s a good thing I have time!

Polymer Clay: Hand-molded Beads

Someone had passed on a beautiful vase of flowers which included lavander and pink roses in the mix to me just before memorial day weekend, and I was hoping to try and create rose petal covered polymer clay beads.  The plan was to create hand molded beads from left over polymer clay and then “wrap” them with the rose petals which I was hoping to coat with resin as a sealant.  Ambitious, indeed, and sadly, it didn’t work.

I ended up with quite a bunch of handmolded beads which I had made by pressing together two halves from a silicone rubber mold.  If you look closely, the edges are not perfect although the face is smooth and the shape came out rather well.  I pressed the two faces onto a gold eyepin to embed a bead hole and then “smoothed” the edges together with my fingertips to “seal” the two faces together.

Polymer Clay Hand molded bead 1Polymer Clay Hand molded bead 2Polymer Clay Hand molded bead 3

I then created a polymer clay coating over it using earth tone colored clay.  These are by no means perfectly round and are obviously handmade, but it will enable you to create your polymer clay beads without resorting to creating cane-related designs.  I baked the beads over the weekend and have come up with quite a batch and will be creating a piece out of it before the week is out.

Waves Polymer Clay bead 2

Please bear in mind that I’m experimenting here.  The colors I chose were: Jewelry Gold, Pottery (Terra Cotta), Antique Gold, Brown and Copper.  I also balanced out two matte or solid colors (Pottery and Brown) with three pearlescent colors with a shimmer (Jewelry Gold, Antique Gold and Copper).

Waves Polymer Clay bead 1

I used two regular shapes, puff round and puff oval, and experimented with this swiss cross bead which was a little tricky to “coat” because the corners were blunted by the polymer clay coating. (Lesson learned.)

My original plan is to coat this with resin, but I am thinking now that the matte texture of the baked polymer clay looks good as is.  I’m trying to weigh the pros and the cons.

Over the weekend, too, I created some square canes with leftover polymer clay, still using this same design.  More on that later.