Sunday 9 August 2015

2015 Topic 15: Gels and Mediums {Challenge}

Topic 15: Gels and Mediums

Hi Everyone, Leandra here to introduce a new topic on the PaperArtsy Blog: Gels and Mediums. Before we get into the nitty gritty, here is Darcy with the winner for our last challenge which of course was Flowers

Darcy here...What a brilliant topic for summer, so bright and cheerful. Who can fail to smile at all the beautiful flowers we have seen pop up here over the past 2 weeks. The sheer variety of ways you have composed layouts and cards is stunning. Brilliant work everyone!
Sooooo, the winning name out of the hat for Topic 14: Flowers is Claire Snowdon from Claire's Crafty Makes

Please email Darcy to claim your prize

It's Leandra back with you to explore Gels and Mediums. This can be quite a confusing area, but in short, gels are thick, and mediums are runny. However, many companies do call their products a 'gel medium' so go figure!

Gels are in effect a paint without any colour pigment. They can vary in texture and opacity. Their primary purpose is to be mixed with acrylic paint to extend the paint and change the consistency or texture of the paint, from stiff all the way through to soft. A gel can also affect the finish of your paint to alter it from matte to glossy.

Mediums are much runnier products, these also are polymer paint bases without colour, and are perfect to make heavy body paints looser, or to thin your paints to a more translucent mix, like a glaze for example. Mediums are more of pouring or dripping consistency. They come in matte through to glossy finishes too, and like gels, extend your paint without compromising the colour.

Both gels and mediums can be used as an adhesive for collage elements or as a sealant to protect your art from dust, light and even the damaging UV sun rays that often affect colour over time (a quality gel will be UV resistant), they are used as a glaze or varnish, and can be glossy through to invisible depending on the product you choose. 

Gels and mediums are applied to a surface and will look milky when wet, and dry clear, so the true colour of the paint, if mixed with a gel or a medium, will be apparent once dry. The finish can be matte through to super glossy, and gels are are often used straight from the tub in the virgin form as resists, or through stencils for patterns, or directly with a palette knife for applied textures.

As well as changing the texture of your paint, gels and mediums are a great way to extend your paint to make it go further. So a little bit of paint will tint the gel, and allow you to cover more area,  this is a good strategy for base-layers, then use the paint neat on top. You can also adjust the translucency of a paint, or you can mattify a glossy paint, add gloss to a matte paint, or retard the drying time with an extender. You can also mix fabric mediums into paint to turn any regular acrylic into a textile-friendly products.

Gels also come with inclusions. This may be as simple as a 2-tone interference effect to reflect colour or light, or there might be lumpy inclusions, such as Mica particles, grains, chips or chunks, glass or plastic beads, grit and sands for different textures and light reflecting effects.

We are adding a drying retarder to our line of Frescos shortly which will be a useful addition for those of you who enjoy the printmaking process and need a longer open-time working window with our paints. We also will have a 'Frosting' Varnish, which reminds me of sand-blasted glass. 

We already have Matte, Satin and Gloss glazes. These are all mediums (they are runny), and if any of you have paid close attention to Liz Borer, or taken a class with her, you will know how she always uses a Glaze to thin Fresco paints rather than water. The video above makes those reasons clear why she opts to work that way, in short, the consistency of the paint is not compromised, you have more control about how the paint layers, dries and can be controlled during application than when you thin with water. Our glazes are designed to work with Fresco Paints as they come from the same supplier, so naturally, if you are looking for a medium to thin your Fresco chalk paints, these should be your go-to options.

So what else can you do with gels and mediums? Well how long have you got?? We will have lots of ideas fro our designers this week, but for now, I am just going to zoom in on a few products and questions that I get asked a lot when I am demoing.

Gels are often used in crafting circles to make image transfers - most common of these is the 'skin' method where a toner based image is coated in layers of gel and the paper rubbed from the reverse once the gel is dry. This technique is commonly done with regular gel. Blog post with instructions here.

However, there are some interesting takes on using Clear Tar Gel (Golden) to make clear, malleable skins. Check out this video where an artist creates a skin from a print-etching inked with printmaking inks, then uses the skins to create amazing clear pieces of art. It's very clever. There is also a great post here with more detail on a very similar technique.

I prefer to use a technique of Ink-jet printed acetate images transferred onto fabric using a runny gel (eg Golden Matte medium, or Fresco Matte, Satin or Gloss Glazes). I prefer this technique because it's a much faster method than the 'skin' process. Here's the video of my method.

While we're on the subject of Clear Tar Gel, it is also fantastic for drizzling. I love this product, because it is different to any other gel out there. It's like syrup, and you can drizzle it or flick it. in the sample below, once dry, foils were applied to add that metallic touch...

See this blog post here for more information. In the same post they mention foiling which grabs to the gel, and the texture of it nicely as you can see both above and below...

You can also tint Tar Gel with Golden fluid metallics, or use regular paint alone or mixed with interference colours, you can flick, drip, drop and smear with it too. Check my pinterest page, as I have pinned a few videos of people using it.  As the Tar Gel dries with a beautiful clarity, any paint trapped in it is almost suspended in the gel.

So onto 'normal' gels. In the Golden range, gels are named according to their thickness; soft, regular, heavy, extra heavy, high solid etc. I usually compare them to cream to give you an idea of the consistency of each as you saw in the first video at the top of this post: 
Soft Gel (pouring cream), 
Regular Gel (Extra Thick Cream), 
Heavy Gel (Clotted Cream), and they even have 
Extra Heavy Gel (ButterCream frosting/ icing), and 
High Solid Gel (another level thicker again). 

Each texture of gel holds the movement you make with a palette knife with more clarity as you move up the scale. They are not heavy in weight though, they can be surprisingly light weight and easily hold the shapes you make. The heavier body gels are really good for gluing dimensional embellishments. Even though they don't seem like a strong glue, they really are deceptive!

Each of these types of gel comes in various shades of opacity - matte through to gloss finishes, some more glossy than others. If they are fully opaque, then they tend to be called pastes (eg Modelling paste, Moulding paste, Texture paste). Gloss gel is really good for a sharp resist, and if you are applying gel through a stencil, depending on the heaviness of the gel, you will be able to get differing levels (heights) of relief. If you want you use of gel to be less obvious, then the matte option will dry invisible.

Do you remember the 'peeled paper' technique we all used to do? I think I first learned it from Claudine Hellmuth, she had it as a technique in her first book perfect to do with old book pages and Golden's Regular Matte Gel. Prep your surface with paint, dry. Apply a layer of regular gel with a credit card, press your paper into the gel, burnish it, then literally grab a corner and rip it off like a waxing strip. You want to find that point at which the gel has grabbed the ink, and is just starting to dry, but isn't fully dry or the whole paper will be stuck solid! It should look like this... You can see the full explanation on this blog post.

There are so many reasons to start collecting gels and mediums. We have a really good selection on our online shop from all kinds of companies, and at different price points. We are expecting more to arrive this week from Golden, who really are considered the benchmark in gel and paint technology. There are cheaper options, and at the end of the day, it comes down to how deep your pockets are and personal preference.

I'll be pinning more over the next 2 weeks while this topic is open, so keep an eye on my pinterest page.

I hope you can find time to join in our challenge, as I am sure you have lots of ideas to share too!


Topic 15: Gels and Mediums August 9-23, 2015.

You are welcome to share your ideas and link up your creativity with Gels and Mediums to this page.

All links go in the draw to win a voucher to spend on products of your choice from the PaperArtsy online store. The Gels and Mediums link will close 17:00 (London Time) Sunday, August 23th , winner will be announced 2 hours later at 19:00.

1. The challenge is a chance for you to show how you have been inspired by a particular technique of the fortnight. Your entry should contain:
- a mention of which post inspired you and why, and 
- a link in your blog post to that original post on the PA blog.

The whole concept of this challenge is 'play along with us'. You are encouraged to put your own twist on ideas you see on our blog. We love to see how you are inspired!

2. The link you put on our linky page must lead directly to the specific post on your blog where you have explored the technique/ idea mentioned in point 1 above. Don't link to the home page of your blog, or we will be unable to find the post to leave you comments.

3. Spam links will be deleted.

4. We prefer your challenge post is created exclusive to our challenge, but if our topic fits perfectly with another challenge, then of course your post may link to both if you feel it is appropriate.

5. You are most welcome to use stamps/ products/ substrates you have to hand from a variety of companies, we do not expect you to exclusively use PA products - it's lovely when you do though!

6. You can enter as many times as you like in the fortnight. We don't want to restrict your creativity or participation! Link closes at 17:00 Sunday August 23th   (London Time)

7. The winner of the random draw will receive a £50 credit to be redeemed on the PaperArtsy Website, the credit includes VAT and postage. We request that one of your purchases is an A5 rubber stamp. You can add any other items to your basket, but the final total should not exceed £50

8. Each Sunday fortnight the winner will be announced at 19:00, also, in the same post, the link for the next fortnight will be posted. It's your responsibility to claim your prize coupon from Darcy: email her

Good Luck! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!


Kirsten said...

Fantastic new challenge blog post, thanks for all the info & links. Congrats to Claire.

Helen said...

WEll done Claire... and a fascinating topic for the new challenge.

Gabrielle said...

Ooh! Great new topic and congrats to Claire x

Julie Lee said...

Well done, Claire and thank you, PaperArtsy for such an informative post! Now I feel a little less bewildered about the numerous gels and mediums out there! Can't wait to see all the great projects. xx

craftytrog said...

Great topic, & cheers for all the video links & info!
Congrats to Clare xx

Cazzy said...

Whoops, I better cross flowers off my list of challenges to do then! Will study the videos and get out my mediums hopefully before the end of this challenge.

Jane said...

Well done to Claire and thanks for this brilliant helpful at explaining all the gels and mediums. Lots of ideas to consider, really love your topics x

Claire said...

Yay I won! Sooooo happy! Thanks guys! Looks like a really interesting topic for the next couple of weeks - lots to explore :)

craftimamma said...

Well done Claire! As I have 2 grandkiddies staying at the moment I've only skipped throught the post tonight but it definitely looks like one to keep in mind for any information on gels/mediums. I won't be able to read it in depth or watch the videos for several days yet but can't wait to do so.

Lesley Xx

Unknown said...

Grand merci pour toutes ces explications sur les différents gels et cette merveilleuse vidéo ! Cela donne envie de découvrir les multiples possibilités de création.....
Au plaisir et bonne journée

sally said...

Hello everyone:
"Long time, no see" -- apologies!!!!
Super post, Leandra! I've read every word, and my next step is to go through ALL the videos given and mentioned. So much to learn and review. Grand stuff.
On top of that . . . OMG . . . I had never visited your Pinterest page before, and just had a mind-blowing experience going there and having a quickie look! Think I need a whole day (minimum) to go through it thoroughly, the way I'd like to. . . . . but will cut out all cooking and household jobs for one day and see how far I can get :-).
Thanks for all these wonderful inputs.
Love to all from France - Sally xo

Tigger said...

I've left a link of a post of mine that I did a few months ago. I hope it is ok to link it even though it is from awhile back. I posted it because I didn't see any posts anywhere that called for using gel medium with embossing folders to make textured gel skins. I hope everybody gets some inspiration from it. It really is kind of fun to make these skins. Hardly any trouble either. Just have room for them to sit and dry.

Lucy Edmondson said...

So happy for Claire! Fabulous post, Leandra. I thought I knew a bit about gels and mediums until I was stood in front of a huge array in a shop just last week with a certain friend and got seriously muddled! This is a great explanation. Sorry not to be able to join in this one,

Lucy x

Unknown said...

Congratulations Claire, have fun spending your prize!

What a fab post Leandra with so much useful information ....and that's before I follow all the links! Brilliant topic!

Lesley Xx

Suman Pandit said...

Fantastic sharing of information and lots to learn always on the Paperartsy blog!! So happy to get extensive information on the topic !! Have added my project !!

Karen Petitt said...

Going to have to go and do some more investigation about the products that are now available! A wonderful Topic, well explained and great inspirations too, thank you for inspiring me to try different tehniquie and processes Karen x

Shoshi said...

Thank you for a very full and informative post about the different gels and mediums. Very nice to have it all in one place like this. I love this stuff and have a whole shelf of it and I am looking forward to watching the videos and exploring the various links to see what more I can do with them.