2016 Topic 22: Alcohol Inks and Pens
I'm Dounia from France, so happy and honored to be back. This time I get to play with alcohol inks, treasure gold and plastic! I must warn you, this is quite an experimental post, focused mainly on the upcycling technique and its possibilities ... I did however make three cards to show different ways to use the resulting material.
Today I want to share my take on reusing clear plastic packaging to create a new versatile material. You will of course need lots of cellophane, the thin, clear, crispy plastic used to protect food, magazines or CDs. To spruce it up, we will be mixing alcohol inks and Treasure Gold wax, with just a bit of Fresco acrylic paint (just grab a mix of your favorites colors!). Stamping will add texture and interest, and I recommend focusing on abstract and bold « simple » patterns. It was just the right excuse to use stamps from one of my favorite designers, Ellen Vargo. An iron and baking parchment are also essential. With this bounty, we're ready to start experimenting!
Part A: The process step by step
- You need to prepare the cellophane: remove all the glued/fused parts and open the packaging to a single sheet of plastic. You will need two (or more!) pieces of the same size, or a big piece you can fold in two. I recommend beginning with small pieces to familiarize yourself with the process and try different color combos or embellishing techniques quickly.
- Now is a good time to to plug in your iron and set it to heat at the lowest setting, no steam.
- One piece (at least!) of plastic is for alcohol inks, they will provide color for the finished piece. Pretty much any type of application works: drops, felt applicator, alcohol filled brush... You can pepper all your favorite colors on the same piece, or go for a more sedate tonal palette. Be as random or constructed as you want, parts may also be left clear. Color saturation plays a big part in the final result so don't be afraid to try different things. I quite like saturated overlapping drops.
- Another piece is for Treasure Gold. Again, the choice, quantity and repetition of colors is totally up to you. I chose metallic color to better differentiate the metallic effect from that of the alcohol inks, but the jewel (bright colour) treasure gold colors also work. The plastic being really smooth, the wax does not take as well as on paper or paint, especially in the softer tones, but don't worry, a little goes a long way!
- It is time to make a sandwich ! Play with your pieces, superimpose, turn and rearrange them until you are happy the look of your pile. All inks and waxes must be inside the sandwich, with the exterior faces untreated cellophane. The minimum number of layers is therefore two (Inks and clear, inks and inks, inks and gold, gold and gold or gold and clear) but you can easily go up to five or six layers. The more layers, the more rigid the finish material will be.
- Put your pile of plastic sheets between two pieces of baking parchment and iron it on both faces. Keep the iron moving, never staying long in one place, and don't neglect the edges. The layers should melt together and create a cohesive plastic sheet. If they stay separate despite several rounds of ironing, increase the temperature just a tiny little bit and carefully try again. The resulting piece should be mainly flat (some little creases may appear) and depending on the number and techniques within your layers, still quite translucent. Here are the two sides of my piece. The top only has Treasure Gold, the bottom only alcohol inks and in the middle the two are superimposed. I also partially folded the piece in two to show the effect of layering.
- If you want to add some detail stamping, now, after ironing, is probably the best time. You can also do it before ironing but the flimsiness of cellophane can make it difficult, not to mention the probable creases!
- If you keep on ironing your piece, raising the temperature, the plastic will shrink and bubble, forming very interesting textures and condensing the colors and metallic pigments. To better control the effect, only increase the heat a little and keep your iron moving. Also keep in mind that the plastic will bubble down, creating round textures on the underside.
- If you keep heating after that, the plastic will start to break up and retract, forming holes in the raised areas and also loosing its shine.
Once you've played a bit with these basic processes above, here are some additional ideas to integrate more stamping!
Part B: Stamping with PaintThe idea is to use an opaque paint to contrast with the translucent plastic. Depending on the paint color you choose, the stamping can be part the main design or be seen softly through the transparency. I chose the pale Snowflake Fresco (white) with a stamp from EEV03...
Part C: Paint and Treasure GoldThis technique exploits the fact that paint (and especially chalky finish Frescos!) take Treasure Gold better than smooth plastic. A layer of cellophane is therefore stamped with paint. To illustrate, I used both a thin lined stamp from EEV07...
Part D: Reverse StampingThis technique uses Versamark ink to create a reverse pattern in the alcohol ink. For better effect, I recommend using bold stamps, with thick clear lines and lots of white space. For example, I chose two from EEV03. Prepare your layers as per usual. You will need (at least) one alcohol ink layer and one Treasure gold layer.
Ink your stamp(s) with Versamark ink and stamp it on the Treasure Gold Layer (not the alcohol ink one!). You can do two impressions, from one inking but after that it's more effective to clean it and ink it up again. Once satisfied with the stamping, put the alcohol ink layer on top, with the ink in contact with the VersaMark and Treasure Gold then complete your sandwich as you like and iron it. I don't know why exactly but the ink shies away from the stamped areas, letting the Treasure Gold shine through. It is a great way to create faded and delicate patterns!
These are just a few ideas to create your own upcycled plastic material, I'm sure loads of other techniques are possible. I find the process fun and a bit addictive. I always say I need one sheet and end a session with a pile of pretty pieces ready to be used in all kind of projects!
Part E: The cardsNow what to do with this material ?
Well it can be die-cut, though it generally needs a couple back and forths through the machine if it is bubbled. Between the colors, the shine and the texture, one piece on a simple background can be all you need!
You can also easily cut it by hand, smaller pieces bringing focus on the pattern or the texture. Additionally, when still hot from the iron, it can be shaped into 3D object like flowers, butterflies etc...
I hope this gives you an idea of the versatility of this material. Personally, I like being able to create my own material that I can match perfectly to my project while salvaging something that would otherwise end in the trash! Hopefully you learn something new and are curious enough to try it!
It's nice to share with you again
Wow I am mesmerised by this post Dounia! I know you are an avid re-cycler, and building the layers in this way is fascinating. So many possibilities I couldn't believe that you managed to keep the plastic layers flat by being careful with your iron and taking it gently, but the bubbles are awesome too! What wonderful inspiration! ~Leandra
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We would love to see how you interpret this Alcohol Ink and Pens topic by linking what you make to our 2016 Challenge #22: Alcohol Ink and Pens on this page HERE. The Alcohol Ink and Pens link will close 17:00 (London Time) Sunday, Nov 27th 2016. The winner will be announced 2 hours later at 19:00.
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