Monday 20 May 2024

2024 Topic 3 : Vintage PaperArtsy Stamps {by Riikka Kovasin} on the PaperArtsy Blog

Hi there! It's Riikka from Paperiliitin blog here today to share my home decor project with a nautical touch with you. 

When pondering, what to pitch for, what kind of project to do, I was looking through the different vintage stamp collections by PaperArtsy. When I saw these sea inspired sets from the Hot Pick series, I immediately saw them as table decor pieces. I imagined the bigger elements perched on top of a metal wire with a spool as the base. Maybe it was the closing summer and sailing season that got me thinking that. I don't sail, but living in a coastal city with a glimpse of the sea from the windows, you start to notice sails emerging after hibernation when the coastal ice melts. These could also serve as a table numbers in a party either by changing the composition a little, leaving room for a number on the top, or then by adding a number to the top creature.

I covered the "vintage" part by simply choosing a stamp set, but tried to add a bit weathered, vintage feel to the project otherwise as well. When pitching this idea, I thought to incorporate the the quarterly theme of "Glace" by using a Mattint on the creatures but I ended up topping that by making a colored glace to age the spools and also for the "sand" I then added on top of them.

When I set to work, I started to hope I had drift wood to be used as the bases. There were two obstacles there - I had pitched for the spools and more importantly I didn't have any drift wood at hand! What the thought of that greyish weathered wood then caused was to turn those spools into the tones of drift wood and I like that even better! 

I chose two aquatic Hot Pick stamp sets for these decorations, HP1112 and HP1201. Combined they had enough big animals to make the focal points. I guess I could have gotten away by just using the latter, HP1201, but I really liked the crab on the second set. My star sign is cancer, so that also weighed in to pick two sets.


As you can see from the materials photo above, I took it after finishing the project. To be honest, when I started the only thing I knew for certain was the stamp sets! I was also relatively certain that I would use Mattint Shark (MT04), but otherwise I hadn't a specific Fresco Finish paints in my mind. In the end I chose to use just one color, Chalk (FF83) and color the creatures using brush tip markers. There's two reasons for this. For one, I had already stamped the images and should then have either chosen translucent colors or turn them into translucent by mixing them with a matte medium or equivalent in order not to cover the stamped details and lines. Secondly, I would have needed at least three colors, maybe even more and I didn't want to have an extensive list of materials. By using markers instead I was able to use several colors, hopefully give an idea and inspire how to combine different materials. Sometimes a simple kid's marker is all you need!

The first thing I needed to tackle, was to learn how to make mirrored images of the stamps. The other option was to make the decorations one sided but I didn't want the back to look unfinished. Especially as I thought these to be table decorations, to be viewed from all sides, I wanted them to look good from all angles. After a quick google, I thought to try a gel printing plate to get the image reversed. And it worked beautifully! The images weren't quite as crisp as the "real deal", but they were absolutely fine enough to be used to cover the back. 

What I did was to ink the stamp and then carefully stamp to the gel printing plate. While the ink was still wet I delicately placed a paper on top and pulled the print. The result was a mirror image of the original stamp! I learned that especially the pressure when pulling the print was key. If I pressed too hard, the image smudged. I used black, oil-based ink here but feel free to experiment with other inks as well! I assume that water-based inks might bead on top of the plate, though.

After tackling the mirror issue, I could then stamp the images the right way around. I also stamped a bunch of texts and three anchors. At this stage I thought to include them to the spools as decorations, not to the stems, so I only needed one side. I used the same black ink as in the mirror stamping.

Spoiler alert! If you want to re-create the decorations, stamp the anchors straight away as mirrored, too. 

The last preparation step was to turn the spools more weathered. For that I mixed Fresco Finish acrylic Chalk (FF83) with Mattint Shark (MT04). This created a lovely greyish glace, I then painted to my spools. In the picture underneath you can see one of the spools untreated and two treated with the glace. 

I used more Mattint Shark (MT04in the mix than the acrylic paint to keep the medium quite translucent. I also added a touch of white here and there undiluted when the surface was still wet and mixed it in on top of the surface of the spool. This created a beautiful uneven look.

The idea about the silvery wood came from the drift wood desire. Instead of going rummaging the (at the time frozen) shores, I turned something I had to resemble the thing I wanted. I found it quite remarkable how easy it was to change the mood of the spools with a touch of color. The impact of color keeps surprising me constantly! 

After letting the color medium dry, I wrapped some natural twine around each spool. I secured the start underneath a couple of loops of the twine and when I then had the whole spool covered with the twine, I glued the end as hidden as possible.

Now that I had all the elements started, it was time to go back to the stamped images and color them. The first thing I did was to add a layer of Mattint Shark (MT04) on top. This had two purposes. One, to create a wash to match each creature, make them a part of the series, but also to seal the surface. That then enabled me to play with the color without it getting absorbed into the paper straight away. I also remembered hearing or reading that the Mattints, even though acrylic, worked nicely as a ground for even water-based markers and pens, so I gave it a go.

I used a small paint brush to apply the medium, then let it dry and added the brush-tip marker on top. Subsequently I used the same brush to move the marker color around, give it more gradient transition. As you can see from the ready project or step photos further along, I didn't color the whole fish blue nor crab red, but instead added color to the edges and then pulled it towards the middle with a wet brush. I think this creates a lovely dimensional feel to the creature but also lets some of the Shark color to show.

Then it was time to cut! I carefully cut the crab, the fish and the seashell out of the sheet. I mainly used just scissors as I prefer those over a craft knife. The seashell was the easiest to cut, but both the crab and the fish had these teeny tiny details that took a while to cut. You can be a bit more rough around the edges, if you wish, but to me the beauty of the finished items is partly the delicate details.

I also inked the edges of each item twice. "Twice, what you mean?" you might ask. I first inked the stamped side with a delicate touch, my intention just masking the white edge of the paper after cutting. But to the flip side, the back side I added a bigger amount of color. This was to ensure that no white was peeking when I layered the two images back to back. As the other images, the mirrored ones, were a bit more smudged than the others, the measurements could have been a tad off but more importantly I cut the images loose by hand, so there was bound to be some differences. By using the same brown ink throughout, I hoped to hide the seam as well as I could. Naturally, you could use also an array of inks and follow the color scheme of the item with the ink. Blue for blue, red for red and so forth. I just thought the brown added a nice vintage touch to the elements.

Next I then mounted the focal points in place on top of wires. I used some foam tape in the middle of the element to make it a bit curved and dimensional, while the outlines were adhered together back to back. 

I mentioned earlier, that if you wanted to re-create these exact decorations, also mirror stamp the anchors. I hadn't done that, as I was thinking of adding the anchor to decorate the spool, but it was just way too big for that. My options then were either to leave the anchors off completely or add them to the stems as well. I wanted the decorations to have something more than just the spool and the focal elements, so I opted for the latter. That then meant I needed to mirror stamp the anchors as I couldn't leave those without a backing now that I had the creatures nicely done! Luckily I now knew how to proceed.

After stamping and coloring the additional anchors, I then adhered them to the wires as well. I then cut the wires to correct lengths and added several rounds of cotton tape to the ends to have them bulkier and thus easier to be adhered inside the spools. 

My mind was set to add some kind of embellishment to the spool, too. I could have done that many ways, but I craved for something grungy, yet nautical. I decided to make a bunch of tiny barnacles to be added to the spools. I used air-drying clay for those. I made a little sphere, pushed it down to a cone shape and then added the hole and some texture to the rim using a pencil as my sculpting tool.

While the barnacles were drying, I made some sandy touches to accompany them. I had these lightweight little pebbles in a couple of sizes, but they were white. While I know there's white sandy beaches in the world, I wanted a bit more contrast between the white barnacles and the sand. Luckily, there was an easy solution to my problem and that was to create a colored glace. This then allowed me not only to add color but to adhere the tiny texture pebbles in place. For the colored gel I used a matte medium and colored it using Infusions Just Walnut (CS25). I made a couple of batches of the sandy stuff with a varying amount of Infusion crystals added, so I could add a touch of variation in the color.

The last thing left then was to add the little barnacles in place. They took a surprisingly long time to dry even being so small! I like how the clay feels and looks "right" for these creatures, but I guess you could use drops of hot glue to make the shape as well, if you are in a hurry. Just use a non-stick surface, so you can re-melt the glue, should the end result not be what you wanted and paint the shapes using white acrylic after cooling.

I used regular craft glue to adhere the little details in place. As I wanted there to be contrast between the sand and the barnacles, I didn't color them anyway. In another project they could use a tad of darker paint added and wiped off to heighten the texture. 

After the glue dried, the decorations were done! I hope they echo my goal of a nautical, yet vintage feel.

Here they are! Three home decor pieces or table decorations for parties. I chose to go with a nautical combo of red, blue and white with added brown for the vintage feel, but you could adjust the palette to fit your preferences! 

Now thinking back, I could have added a wooden bead or two to each decoration. Those all could have been white, echoing the barnacles, but I could have gone with the nautical combo of blue, red, white as well.

I did this project a bit differently than I usually craft. Usually I finish a project in one sitting. This time, however, partly because of the short days of Finnish spring, I was forced to leave the project for a while and continue next day. While I was able to pick up where I left off, it made me realize once again that I really prefer a fast, stream-lined creating process! But, that being said, I think it's important to try to break the patterns at times, to try new things. It's the only way you can learn and improve! 

I'm mostly a paper crafter so my go to material is paper. I like how it behaved in this project, but you could do similar table decorations using air-drying clay in a more prominent role. Instead of stamping the characters on top of paper, you could stamp them to a circle of air-drying clay and thus have a completely different feel to the whole piece. Or you could use paper for the main creature, but use metal foil for the anchor, giving the decoration also a totally different look. 

To be honest, I even thought about using shrink plastic with the anchors at first, turning them into little charms for the spools. It was the vintage drive that changed my mind as I couldn't see a shiny piece of plastic as a part of the project. But maybe with a different color scheme that would be just the thing? Or coloring the piece with a metal color, turning the whole embellishment into a piece of jewelry would be the solution? 

What I really like about these decorations, is their vintage feel! That's mainly because of the vintage vibe of the stamps, but I also believe the fact how the color is applied, enhances the feel. I also loved working with Mattint and creating those tiny barnacles. They are such a tiny thing, but still have a lot of impact!  

Thank you for stopping by today! I hope you enjoyed the project!

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely fabulous creations. I'm loving the sea themed stamps