Toolbox Tuesday – Plaster of Paris

Hello, my little tater tots! (Shout out to Sunny Carvalho for giving me tater tots on the brain.. Hah!)

FIRSTLY, let’s talk about last week’s winner!  Thanks to the magic of random.org, we have one!

*drumroll*

*dancing girls*

*bears in tutus*

It’s RUTH!  WOO RUTH!  

*pompoms* 

*backflips* 

*breaks a hip*

I’ll be contacting you and getting your goodies mailed out post haste! <3

This week’s trip to the toolbox is all about plaster.

Look, you can totally buy plaster at any craft store, I’m sure.  I grabbed some (and by “grabbed some” I mean I made The Manflesh haul it around) (and by “SOME” I mean 25 pounds.  I don’t mess around) last time I was at Lowe’s.  I swear I’m starting to sound like a Lowe’s commercial.  NONE OF THIS IS SPONSORED.  Hey Lowe’s, hook me up!

I don’t have an awesome picture of the plaster cause I came home and immediately dumped it into a bucket so that I made a huge mess in the driveway versus making a huge mess in my studio.  Sometimes I have brainystuff happening in my ideafactory.  It happens!

Here’s a picture I stole from the Lowe’s website!

I have a few things I want to do with this, including texturing a whole room at the house, but I started with molding.  I have a drawer full of molds – I’m sort of obsessed with making them – so I figured I’d test it out there.  The plaster has a working time of only 6-10 minutes, hardens in about 30 minutes, and is fully cured in three days, so you need to be kind of quick with it, mix it in small batches, and try not to get it everywhere.  Easy-peasy, right?  RIGHT!

You mix it with cold water, two parts plaster to one part water.  I mixed it in a red Solo cup because I’m super fancy.  Once you’ve stirred it up and it seems smooth, smack your container on the counter a couple of times to pop any bubbles and chunks of plaster, then mix it again.  My plaster came out pretty smooth.  I then poured it into a Dixie cup to pour into the molds since they’re more flexible and easier to deal with.  The Dixie cups.  Not the molds.  Though they’re pretty flexible and easy to deal with too.

Look.  It’s going to tempt you.  You’re going to touch it after, say, 20 minutes, and it’s going to seem dry.  IT ISN’T.  Let it sit.  It’ll seem totally reasonable to go ahead and try to unmold it, and it will promptly break.  ASK ME HOW I KNOW THIS!  You don’t have to, I’ll tell you.  I did that.  It broke.  WHOOPS.  

After an appropriate amount of time has passed and the plaster is totally hard and doesn’t make a divot when you poke it with your fingernail, unmold those babies!

OooOooOOooOOoooOoo!!

Okay.  A couple of notes.  I made the key from a purely experimental standpoint, just to see if I could use plaster to make something delicate.  I fully expected it to break, so I wasn’t very careful with the pouring and made a big mess.

To my complete surprise, it popped out, no problem!  Since there are so many bubbles and so much over-pour, I snapped it in half to see how easy it broke.  It broke pretty easy, so it likely wouldn’t stand up to being turned into a pendant or anything.  

I poured everything in one big glop, so there are a lot of bubbles in areas where there is a lot of detail, like these chill pills!  

I’d definitely recommend that you pour just a little bit, slosh it around, bounce it off the table, make sure to get all the nooks and crannies filled, and then fill the mold.  The same thing happened with the frames, but I LOVE how they turned out.

In this case, I think the air pockets just add more to the look.  Love it.  

The baby heads?  Perfection.

So all I really need to do from here is be a little more careful when pouring.  I think I can handle that.

Next week I’ll have more on plaster (because I have more experiments!) and another giveaway!  Woo!

Go forth and mold something!

Monday Freebies – Creamsicle Day

So Hi!

My google calendar yells at me every Monday and tells me I need to publish Monday Freebies.  I never actually do it.  That changes this week, dangit!

Last Sunday (August 14) was National Creamsicle Day.  As you may recall (probably not since it was a million years ago), I once published a simple stuffed free Creamsicle pattern.  It looked something like this!

You can find that pattern by clicking right here on this sentence about clicking here.

In honor of National Creamsicle Day (my most favorite of all holidays that no one else celebrates), I made another free pattern!  It looks something like THIS!

You can download the pattern by clicking on this sentence that’s all about downloading the pattern.

If you make him, I’d love to see it!  It takes about 2-ish episodes of South Park to make.

Toolbox Tuesday – Touch-Up Paint Roller

Hello, puddin’ pops!

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you probably have noticed I have a tendency to shop for art supplies at the hardware store.  I live in a tiny town with no art supply store (dreamtalking here – I will open one), but there are probably 15 different small-town hardware stores within a 20-30 minute drive.  

Hardware stores are THE BEST.  I figured it was time to do a weekly feature to showcase their glory.  And also to give me an excuse to go wander around in them.  Woo!

This week I want to talk about touch-up paint rollers.  And journals.

I think both Mod Podge and Martha Stewart offer glue rollers for decoupage, but they don’t compare.  Plus they’re twice the price.  I found this one by Shur-Line in the paint department of Lowe’s.

When I made my giant dictionary journal, this thing saved my life.  I filled it full of plain old Elmer’s Glue-All, and it rocked my world.

The most awesome thing about this thing is that it locks closed, so you can keep it full of glue or paint or matte medium or whatever in between uses.  You do need to rinse the roller or, alternatively, throw it away (Daddy Warbucks) and use a new one next time.  They’re actually pretty cheap.  Rinsing takes about 30 seconds, and I am still using the original roller.  Come on, EcoRanger, get it together.  Eventually I’ll get another one for black paint since I use that on canvas panels, but for now it’s my journal partner.

Because it’s my journal partner, I am going to talk about using it to make one.

When you make an altered book journal, you need to do two things: tear pages out and glue pages together.  I started working on a smaller but still huge dictionary to illustrate this point and to give you a quick and dirty altered art journal tutorial. 

First, pick a book.  

I have discovered several things over the last year of making journals – your average Tom Clancy novel, although probably full of fun random text, is not great for binding.  If you can see glue when you look at the top of the spine, toss it back.  You should be able to see each individual signature (grouping of pages), and, when you get to the middle of one and open the book, you will see threads.  No threads, no joy.  If I need to, I will do a demo video of what to use and what not to use, but I think YouTube has you covered.  I realized that, as I’m posting this, my book has a glued binding.  WHOOPS. 

Another thing you need to think about is the paper.  If it’s glossy, it’s going to be a pain.  You might have to sand it before you can gesso it.  Yuck.  If your book has mostly plain paper pages and a few glossy ones, that can totally be worked with.  I have made journals with paper that is 100 years old and REALLY BRITTLE.  It is workable but is totally a pain.  I’d avoid those too, if you’re not a total masochist.

Make sure your binding is in decent condition so that it doesn’t fall apart once you’ve spent two days tearing and gluing.

This seems like a lot of information, I know, but seriously it takes about 30 seconds to look at a book, check the binding, make sure the covers aren’t falling apart, feel the paper, and check for stitches at the center of a signature.  You will probably get weird looks from the volunteers at the library.  Just sayin’.

If you deeply desire an altered book journal and don’t want to go through all of these shenanigans, I list them occasionally in my etsy shop.  Or send me a convo and I’ll hook you up!  I find it thoroughly and strangely rewarding to do all of this tearing and gluing.

OK.  Enough about that.

Go to the second page of your book.  Using a straight edge (I’m using a bias tape cutting ruler.  I have a lot of weird stuff), lay it along the spine and then tear that page out.  Then tear the next page out.

You will have a bunch of little nubby pages from the tearing – those are going to be sandwiched in between two glued-together pages, so don’t stress them!  Or make extra nubby pages with a bigger nub and use them to add in other types of paper, photos, scraps of fabric, whatever.  

Skip two pages and repeat.  Skip two pages and repeat.  Skip two pages and repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Put on a dumb movie.  Repeat.  Keep doing this until you reach the end.  It takes forever, but now you have a bunch of pages that you can Gelli print on, glue in, make into envelopes, whatever!

Once you’ve torn out half of the pages, go back to the beginning and get to gluing.  You can use pretty much anything for this – I’ve used gel medium (works great but wow expensive), Mod Podge, and Elmer’s, and they all work about the same.  Elmer’s is definitely the cheapest – I bought a gallon for about 15 bucks on Amazon.  That’ll get you places.

If you don’t want to use the handy-dandy paint roller, a brush works.  As does a regular paint roller, one of the small ones for trim.  That’s what I used to use!  It’s super fast and easy too.

Work fast with the glue – I don’t bother covering the entire page.  I do the edges and do stripes down the page and call it good.  I don’t mind wrinkles (it will wrinkle between the glue stripes).  Cover the whole page with glue if you’re manic about wrinkles!

Once you have your glue down, press the pages together and smooth from the spine to the edge to get out any air bubbles.

Using your straight edge here is good too – it’ll smooth those pages out like nobody’s business.

Now put on an even dumber movie and keep gluing.  Sometimes I glue the wrong page and end up with three or even four pages glued together.  NO problem!  Just a thicker, more durable page!  We’re not robots people!

You will probably want to use gesso on the pages before you start journaling, but that’s really up to you.  A piece of masking tape or washi tape with some matte or gel medium along the spine is also a good idea just to keep stuff from dripping down into the binding and making it stronger.  The pages feel SO AWESOME once they have a bunch of layers of acrylic and mediums and papers and whatever on them though, almost like leather.  Just awesome. 

So that’s the story of how a post about a paint roller turned into an altered book tutorial.

SO HERE’S THE FUN PART!

See that pretty new painter and refill rollers still in their packages?  They can be yours!  WOooo!  Comment below to be entered to win.  If you share on Facebook?  Extra entry!  If you tweet about it? BOOM one more!  Pinterest?  YES!  Just leave another comment when you share or pin or tweet or gram or MySpace, and you’ll have that many more chances.  I’ll pick a winner with Random.org on Monday, August 22.

Go forth and glue.