Monday, September 24, 2018

Fun With Texture Paste



In a little bit I'll show you how this started out as my most failed texture attempt so far, but first lets talk about texture paste.

For texture paste I have used approximately a 1:1 to 2:1, paint to glue ratio and then tried various thickeners. Now I haven't exactly gone about this scientifically, but as far as I can tell, at least in the short term, they all give the same basic results.

Spackle was the first thickener I used because I have some old stuff to use up and when that's finished I'll move on to the joint compound. Those sort of products definitely start to degrade before I use them up fixing walls so I might as well use them elsewhere. They also seem to make the smoothest texture paste.

I tried baking soda, that seemed to be another popular choice.  It felt gritty, which wasn't that noticeable if I made a thin paste.  Making a really thick paste resulted in an end product that had a rough, sand papery texture.  Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Talcum powder was another one I saw in a lot of recipes.  I couldn't find plain talcum powder.  But I had some old baby powder and now I remember why I never used it on my babies. I don't like the smell.  I don't like that cloud of fine particles that gets in the air no matter how gently you try to squeeze the stupid bottle.  It wasn't as gritty as baking soda, but I hate breathing that crap in.  I guess I could wear a mask, but it seems easier to just not use baby powder.

I also saw cornstarch and flour being used.  I'm sure they make a nice consistency but I'm always leery about their propensity to attract bugs so I didn't try them.

Moving on to fun things to do with texture paste.  Again these are all flat sample pieces but any of these techniques would work on bottles, skulls, pumpkins, etc.

You can use a paint brush to lay down some texture or the tip of the handle to add some dots. Do a search on relief painting for more ideas.  
You can try this freehand or print out an image and paint over it.

You can use the texture paste the same as you would decorator icing.  I purchased an inexpensive 4 pack of plastic piping tips and used a disposable bag.  I went with plastic because all my icing tips are metal so this way I know for sure they will never get cross contaminated.  I'm not good with icing and I sure wasn't any better with this.

I can do stars.  
Most of the stuff I did was so awful I just scraped it up right away and reused it. I'm hoping someone at the craft party with actual skills will give this a try.

I'm really am awful with a piping bag.  But I found that if I dragged the tip of a palette knife through my awful piping I could make it less awful.



Last year a friend had a henna party. It was so fun and I thought if I practiced enough I could come up with my own skull designs.   Except I really didn't practice much, so that didn't happen.  But I did learn that you can use thick lotion to practice on yourself. Which is great, all your mistakes can be wiped away and they moisturize your skin. Or you can use paint on paper. I also learned how to make henna cones out of cellophane.  And that's what I used here for some precision piping. You could also use a squeeze bottle with a very small opening.


I'm not much better with a henna cone than I am with an icing bag.  
Nothing I tried doing worked out as demonstrated above.  

On a whim after all that disappointment I made this boney arm, which I have to say isn't have bad.  And then I got cocky and thought I'd make a skull which ended up a complete mess.  I still don't know why I made the teeth recessed instead of the spaces between.  

Painting didn't help.

Just knocking off the bottoms of those horrible teeth and slapping on more paint helped.  I could have completely removed them and re-piped them properly, but I didn't want to invest anymore time.  And even though it's still a poorly done skull it can be layered with so much other stuff that you won't even notice.

Case in point right here. All those random failed doodles, that I probably would have scrapped but I liked the "Halloween" on the packaging cardboard.  So I slapped on more texture paste a few skull beads and plastic bugs and gave it a coat of paint.  I used some crappy fluorescent green paint that's never mixed properly no matter how well I shake it. 

The lesson here is that in art mistakes are like a dead body, 
bury them under enough stuff and no one will ever know.  

Since with the exception of the skeleton hand, everything I did was a fail I decided to get a little help from The Graphics Fairy.  I tore out the images after printing instead of cutting for a little added texture and then I glued them onto some old school folders for a bit more structure and tore around them again. 

The following have all been piped using a henna cone.  At some point these may get slapped on a bottle. It should be easy to add lettering in the center later with more piped texture paste. Or alphabet pasta is a cheap and easy way to add raised lettering.

Here I cheated and made the thin lines by dragging the paste with a toothpick. Cheating is never the answer kids. You can see where the lines are barely thick at all and downright disappear in places. 


     Rather than cheat, pick a thicker design until you hone your skills.  
The following two were pretty easy designs to do.  





This was a small pattern and I tried different approaches, but none of them really worked. I didn't finish so you can see the original pattern compared to what I did.   


Since the one thing I really had success with was hands I decided to use a Hand Bone picture. It worked really well.  I can't wait to try more skeletons.  

I had to make another freeform hand just to make sure the first one wasn't a fluke.


All the lovely bones together. 


This is an aftermath picture of the weirdest prostate exam ever.  No.  No, it's not.  It just occurred to me that not everyone paints the way I do so I thought I'd share my fancy high-tech method.

I use this technique for highlighting raised texture.  Squirt very small amount of paint in palm of non-dominate hand.  This hand can also be used to hold the object being painted, by the fingertips of course and the palm must be kept facing up.  Rub paint in a circular  motion with pad of index finger on dominant hand to spread it out.  With just a thin layer of paint left on index finger lightly rub across textured surface to pick up highlights.

The thin small amount of acrylic will dry very fast so you will have to repeat the process multiple times.

I prefer this finger painting method to a more tradition dry brush method because:
A) I can feel the thickness of the paint, which needs to be very thin
B) I can feel the wetness of the paint, it dries quickly so I know exactly when to reload my finger
C) Precision control over how much paint is applied.  The lightest touch will deposit only a small amount, more pressure will deposit more paint.
D)  The pad of my finger is too big to fit into any little crevices, so I only get paint on raised areas.  E) It may look messy, but it rubs right off once it's dried. (The picture above is messier than usual because I was highlighting multiple pieces.)

So there's my latest adventure with texture paste.  Tune in next time when I have real actual stencils to try instead of stuff I found laying around the house.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Wicked String Tree


This started out as another experiment in textures and grew into its own thing.  It's not unlike my wire tree, just more untwisting, than twisting involved.

True story: I once made a life sized wire tree, if by life sized I mean very small sapling.  Later it acquired the nickname Jingle Bell Tree. The bare wire tips were some times hard to see depending on the light, not to mention pokey, so I added a jingle bell to each tip so that it couldn't sneak up on unsuspecting victims. I loved that tree, but it was a menace.

It survived many years and two moves, but as a new mom I chucked it one day, because even with the bells it was still a menace and it took up a lot of space.  To this day I regret doing that even though I have no idea where we could have safely kept it.

I'm sure it would've eventually drawn blood and once these things develop a taste for human flesh there's no going back. But think how lovely it would have been to have a jingle bell tree with blood lust tromping through the neighborhood for Creepmas.



At least this tree wont poke anyone's eye out.  I didn't take many pictures of the process because it's hard to take pictures when your hands are covered in goop.  This ended up being a great way to use some of the little pieces of twine from when my spool was butchered in sacrifice for the Pomegranate Princess.

The process is easy, grab a bunch of pieces of twine, yarn, rope, anything that is comprised of twisted strands.  They can vary in length. If you're sifting through Pomegranate Princess carnage you don't have a choice. Just make sure some of them are longer than you'll think you need.

Gather them together side by side and apply a thick mixture of texture paste to what will be the base of your tree trunk.  Stack the twine together so they form a rounded trunk.  Divide them into smaller groups as you branch out applying paste as needed.  Once you are down to single pieces of twine I recommend stopping to let things dry.  And also so you can go wash your hands.  

With clean hands untwist the individual strands on each end of twine.  My twine was comprised of three strands, so some branches are two twisted strands that break off into single strands.  Add more paste as needed to keep things in place, but leave the tips of the branches free.  Go wash your hands... again and let it all dry.  

Add a bit of glue to each branch tip twist the strands so the ends are tight. This is the messiest part.  Every couple of branch tips I was peeling glue coated in twine fibers off my fingertips.  Some of the shorter tips I twisted and then pushed into place.  The longer ends I wasn't sure where I wanted them trimmed so I added glue to the whole length and then cut them at an angle after they dried. 

Wire trees are much less messy and don't stick to your hands, but I do like the bark-like texture of the twine and paste. I also like that the texture runs vertically up the trunk whereas with wire the twists are less organic looking. Not that I don't appreciate a good wire tree. I love that they look like they spun up from the ground in the vortex of a tornado.

It was only after I painted it that I decided it needed an owl.  Lucky for me I have an owl charm the right size and I've been playing at making my own molds.



I really liked the molded components that I added to my skull.  I have jewelry pieces that I think would work well with mixed media, but I don't want to only be able to use them once and I still have actual plans to use them in jewelry.  Enter silicone molding material to the rescue. I'm using Easy Mold Putty.  It's really easy to use, but I'm still figuring out how make a better mold and what mixture works best filling them.  Above is the original charm and a spackle mixture which ended up with a lot of air bubbles.  


This is the mold, above it is a painted piece I made using hot glue to fill the mold. These molds can  be used with just about anything, polymer clay, resin or even chocolate.  Although if you are going to use them for food they should never be used with non-food substances.  



I used the spackle owl for my tree, cutting it out with an x-acto knife.



I wish I would have thought of adding it sooner because it was hard trying not to muck up the existing paint job (which looks much better in person), but otherwise I think he looks right at home.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Skull Beads & Other Textures



Still playing around with texture, but this time it's nothing new,
 just a mix of things I've already tried.


The base is a large countertop sample 5x3.5 inches. I used a combination of thinner texture paste I made with black acrylic, glue and spackle and a thicker version of white latex and spackle.  

On top of a thin layer of texture paste I laid some practice tatting pieces. 

I said I was going to find other uses for those skull pony beads and I have. Honestly I wish I would have added a few more to this piece. I split them in half and pressed them into a layer of texture paste.  

The pony beads are really easy to split.  I set them on a hard surface and force the tip of my pliers down through the hole. I know that's tantamount to tool abuse, but I used a very old pair of needle nose that have teeth so they're not good for delicate work anyway. The pieces will go flying so I should caution you to wear safety glasses.  I kept my free hand cupped over the beads, but even still sometimes those suckers got away.  

I added some tea leaves mixed with paint to a few areas, I just love that texture.  Then I added a few faux pearls, flowers and painted it. 



This a small piece 2.5 x 1.75 inches.  Here are more skull beads, the corners are molded pieces and then center is finishing nails caged by small sections of staples.  Everything was squished into a layer of thick texture paste.  

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Still more textures...


This one I came up with on my own. Not that I think it's an original idea, I was just inspired by my craft closet rather than something online. It's one of my favorite textures so far.


It's just a feather smooshed onto some texture paste with a little more added on top and then painted. I bought a mixed bag of feathers years ago for crafty stuff with the kids and there's colors I don't like or there are feathers that are broken or not a nice shape and now I can make them into awesomeness.



This is little bits of wire.  It's 22 gauge wire that I had use for wire wrapping, then changed my mind. After I took it off it was all twisted and unusable, some of it even snapped on it's own it was so brittle from being overworked.  Seriously, just pieces you'd sweep into the trash.  Four of the longer pieces I bent into Tim Burton like curls and "S" shapes, the rest I cut up into small (10-15mm) pieces. The small pieces were applied with texture paste and then I laid the swirly pieces on top.


The base is whatever this stuff is.  It's a fabric like packaging material.  


I also revisited using string since I didn't like my last attempt.  
Adding texture paste randomly over the top makes all the difference.  

I tried my inks again.  They look so cool wet.


This is what disappointment looks like. 
Do most inks dry this light or is this why they were on clearance? 


Maybe I need some black ink in my life to achieve the look I want, 
but acrylics didn't do too bad a job of dressing things up.   

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Attack of the Killer Textures



I'm still at it, more tiny texture samples. The craft party is in five weeks, so I'm going to try out as many different things ahead of time as possible.  My only hope is at the end of all this I make the most awesome mixed media altered potion bottles or at least inspire someone else to.  

Top left: drywall tape, top right: tea leaves (this a repeat, but it's my new favorite texture), bottom left: sequins applied with texture paste, bottom right: texture paste over masking tape.



It was Maremis Small Art that inspired me to try drywall tape.  A cool thing about drywall tape, you can cut it into strips so it looks like tiny stitches.  Not being one to waste things the sample on the right is all leftover pieces.  



This painting technique was my inspiration for using masking tape.  I randomly placed torn strips of masking tape and then covered it with texture paste.  Lift the masking tape right away and you are left with a raised design. It was a little difficult removing the tape because I had it overlapping every which way so I had to pull the whole thing up together without disturbing the texture paste.  For something larger or more intricate it might've been a problem.  I would recommend laying down the tape in some sort of order and removing it in reverse.  


The texture under the masking tape is toilet paper.  



Last is the sequins and texture paste.  I just smooshed a bunch of texture paste on some cheap sequins and then press a few sequins on top.  It wasn't until after they were painted that I realized sequins look a bit like tentacle suckers.  



Instead of painting these all black I left some whitespace and then sprayed them with the only two colors of ink I have.  After they were dry and kind of "meh" I decided to go over them with the watered down acrylics I was using on the last textures.  The ink reacted with acrylics and turned out kind of cool, but I expect these will be revamped a few more times before they find their purpose in life.  

Thursday, August 30, 2018

More Tortured Textures


Once again playing with different textures.

I still don't have any stencils. I haven't seen any in the stores that really interest me. On the other hand I saw a lot of skeletons that did.  They have bunnies, racoons, chameleons...so many new skeleton critters.  I'm generally a poor consumer, there is so much marketing out there that is wasted on me.  But whoever the evil genius is that decided to branch out the skeleton industry should get a promotion.  Every year it gets harder to resist and they're not even anatomically correct.  This year I only bought a bunny and a large frog...so far.  And I had to buy the frog because the small one I have needed a buddy.  So that counts as an act of kindness, not consumerism.  At this rate don't be surprise if I set up the weirdest pet shop scene in a few years.

Anyway, I might have to order stencils online, but that opens up a kagillion possibilities and I'm not good with choices and making up my mind.  So procuring stencils is going straight on the procrastination list for now.

In the meantime I might not have stencils but I have this shelf liner stuff.  It's great for lining the plastic containers that I keep my tools, wire and whatnot in.  The design is really too small to stencil well, but it creates some interesting texture.  I applied product over the top it like you would with an actual stencil, but pressing it onto a thick medium would also create texture.  You could even apply ink or paint on it and use it like a stamp.

You can buy texture paste or you can make your own.  All the recipes I've seen are very similar and use 1-2 parts acrylic paint or gesso, 1 part pva glue or mod podge, 3 to 4 parts talc powder or baking soda. I haven't tried any of them yet, I still have some old spackle I've been trying to use up.  On a side note Monster Mud is 1 part latex paint to 5 parts drywall joint compound. I think you should just mix up whatever you have on hand and see what happens.



From left to right I used a mixture of 1 part glue, 1 part acrylic paint, 2 parts spackle; the center is 1 part latex primer paint to 1 part spackle; the last is 1 part latex primer to 2-3 parts spackle.  All measurements are approximate and all mixtures were applied randomly.  A scientific comparison this is not.  Those are finishing nails along the center piece.


My other not-stencil is a plastic mesh liner that came with the pizza we ordered a few weeks ago.  Again I used it as a stencil, but it could be used other ways too.  From left to right they show the same mixtures I used above.

The middle piece with the 1:1 primer and spackle mixture was too thin.  You can't tell by looking at it now but the pattern was uniformly stenciled over most of it.  It kind of oozed together.  The really fine grid texture towards the bottom is from a piece of cheesecloth that I accidentally laid on it and removed before it was finished drying.  One of those interesting mistakes to keep in mind for future use.

The last one with the thicker mixture was a little too perfect, so I used a broken tongue depressor to create some interest.  I like how the jagged edge creates lines of varying depth.  Come to think of it, glued on jagged pieces of broken tongue depressor would be cool too.



One more thing on my list of things to try has been ink sprays.  The same day I picked up that embossing folder there were inks on clearance from the Dylusions line of Ranger inks.  They were all two packs containing Fresh Lime and London Blue. I've heard good things about Ranger inks, why are these two colors so sketchy they were sent to the clearance aisle?

Never having played with inks, I've been spraying them on everything to see what happens. In this case not much.  The tag above on the left and the one below on the far right I painted with my daughter's old watercolor set.  The others were sprayed with the inks and while they looked amazing wet, once dried the color was barely noticeable. I didn't really expect them to perform well on such a dark surface, but if your looking for a subtle color variation it'll do the trick.


I played around with watered down acrylics over the ink ones.  I have to say I like the watercolors better or maybe I just didn't add enough water to the acrylics. I guess I will just have to play more.



I had a lot of fun with my pizza and shelf liners. I think they would make awesome faux reptilian skin.