Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Altered Domino Set with Carved Box

The Holidays have a tradition of handmade gifts. I made this set of altered dominoes for my boyfriend and I'm very happy with how they came out.
My boyfriend and I love to play "analog" games - from Cribbage to "Bones". After seeing a bracelet I had made with altered dominoes as charms (very tiny ones) - he was intrigued by what he thought were imported tiles. So, I took a cigar box that had been in my craft stash and a set of "double 6" tiles and with stamps and a lot of work, created a one of a kind set to entertain ourselves with.
First the Box:
I first painted the box with a mixture of sienna, umber and red acrylic craft paints. The box was plain pine, and I wanted the look of lacquer. I then took a Ranger Paint Dauber in metallic gold and brushed the surfaces of the box with gold. The top has a second layer in a cross hatch pattern. I let this dry over night. I had a large bamboo stamp (from Plaid) that I stamped on the box with black Stazon. I then took my gouges and etching tools to remove all the stamped image. It isn't very deep, just to the raw wood.
With Twinkling H2Os, I brushed in light blue and light green into the exposed wood and let dry. The "antique coin" is from Tsukineko and is adhered with burgundy faux sealing wax (actually a colored glue stick). I then sealed the outside with a light coat of Kumar Varnish for a shiny but NOT high gloss finish. The Varnish seals the watercolors and brings up the colors, the box really does look like it is lacquer.

 The inside of the box is lined with suede paper. You could use fabric or felt. The suede paper reminds me of jewelry boxes and silver boxes. Small cork dots on the bottom make sure the box sits level and stable on the table surface.
 The dominoes inside were altered with rubber stamps I have collected over a period of several years. I used Versacolor pigment inks in Sand, Oasis, Black and metallic gold. The key is to make sure you place the stamps in the same place on each domino, or after a few rounds you will be able to "mark" the tiles and they will be no good in actual play. The design is a base of green bamboo, over stamped with a Japanese paper lantern, then Japanese script (don't worry, the lettering is far too small to be able to read), lastly a solid gold fan stamped on top. I heat set each image before stamping the next.
I did give them each a coat of workable fixative and then a nice soft light coat of Kumar Varnish to seal. I've done this for brooches and pins made from gaming tiles and this is quite durable.
If you are worried about stamping each tile exactly the same, you could design and adhere a Lazertran decal. Or stamp tissue and decoupage to the backs.

My favorite part was the idea to stamp and then carve the box lid. The box was very inexpensive, but the carving really made it more than just a container for the dominoes, it is really a nice display piece. I have plans to try a similar idea on other plain wooden items such as cigar box purses, jewelry boxes or other wooden containers.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Centering Template for Cutting Shapes from Digi Stamps on Cricut

I was dealing with the challenge of positioning digi-stamp images when I came up with this solution.

I like to create cards and more with my cutting machine. I have a Cricut Expression and it allows for centering an image inside a shape. But what if I have several images on one sheet of cardstock? I would have to pre-trim items and centering exactly often required several trial and errors. So I developed this Centering Template - it also allows me to quickly and easily measure images so I can also be sure the image will fit inside the shape, as well as perfectly centered.

I've given the tutorial here as a set of images. Just click on the image to enlarge for directions.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Digi-stamps and Scrap Art Coming Soon!

A long time ago, before college and a lot of other major life changes...I designed art rubber stamps. I designed for several stamp companies, and was a published crafts designer and artist. Anna Banana Justice from West Virginia.

When I designed stamps and crafts projects, my greatest thrill was in seeing others use my images or ideas to create their own artwork. I kept the pages of published cards and more created by others using images I had created. Thank you notes and gifts from fans of my illustrations. I love creating artwork, but most of all, I like sharing it.

While in college, I studied art, photography and graphic design. So, after graduation, I am going to apply all my skills and will be doing so through digi-stamps, a digital version of a rubber stamp! But not just images to print and color, you will see image sets, as well as digital scrapbook supplies. Images will be available for download via email, as well as bundled on CD.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Crafting and Decorating

The top photo is a Faux Japanese silk screen I created for my apartment's living room. I believe decorating should not require a huge bank account. Also, the fact I made this myself, not only do I have a sense of pride, but it is more than just a decorative piece, it is a piece of myself.

The screen started as three inexpensive pre-stretched canvas panels from a local bargain outlet store (hint: big orange punctuation mark in their signage) that cost $7 a piece. Other items required were craft paints (bought on sale at a chain store for 49 cents a bottle), foam and various craft brushes (variety pack for under $5), lots of masking tape, pencil, and some mending plates.

The background was created by mixing a pearlescent glaze in white, copper and a bright metallic gold paint. The canvases already had a coat of gesso. I used a large chip brush (2 in wide) and applied layers of glaze mixture going in vertical and then horizontal strokes. This gave the effect of raw silk.

I then masked the edges and painted them flat black to mimic the lacquer frames on authentic Japanese silk screens. (Note: traditional screens are even numbers and silk painted and stretched on lacquered wood frames). I used a pencil and ruler to create the bamboo - I used to have this variety in my backyard and took the colors and form from the photos I took.

A dry brush technique is easy to master and gives the bamboo it's dimension. A bit of bright crimson gives my initials a calligraphy look. A couple coats of satin varnish and a thin line of gold leafing pen on the edges finish off the piece.

The key to this is project is simplicity. Bamboo signifies long life, strength and growth.

Not everyone is confident with handpainting. This look could be duplicated by using stencils or projecting an image and tracing.

I don't just paint, sometimes a simple accent finishes a room. The second image is a set of vinyl wall cutouts I made using my Cricut machine and a couple cartridges. My bedroom is decorated in a very romantic style, hints of Paris here and there.

It is an apartment and the lighting is very utilitarian, and I am limited on the number of "holes" that can go in a wall. The vinyl removes very cleanly, so my security deposit is safe. I wanted an old world feel, so I made a shield shape and applied my monogram over the top. The fixture shape falls right where the light hits the wall.

This project took less than a hour to complete. I hope these two projects have inspired you.