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A Peek at Gel Plate Printing

Monoprinted fabrics

It’s been a busy summer. Heck, it’s been a busy YEAR. And that can mean falling behind on tasks, such as keeping this blog and the Artistic Artifacts YouTube channel updated. So I wanted to pop in with a quick surface design demo — watch as I monoprint on a Gel Press-PolyGel Gel Plate on fabric.

As you see, monoprinting is easy — and I can tell you it is addictive! Simply apply your paint, ink, etc. with a brayer or other tool, make your mark with textures and press your substrate onto the plate and rub gently. Then just lift the print and admire!

Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paints and gel printing plates

Below is a view of the fabric monoprint I created in the Creative Clip. I worked with the manufacturers to formulate our Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paints so that it had the qualities to make it an ideal paint for gel plate monoprinting: an easy flow consistency right out of the squeeze bottle, high pigmentation, and permanent on fabrics.

Fabric printed on gel plate with Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paint by Judy Gula

When brayering, your paint colors can stay somewhat distinctive as in my red and yellow swatch, or you can blend them together to create a completely new color, as in the below example.

Adding paint to a gel plate and brayering it smooth

While acrylic-based paints such as our paints are the most popular choices, a wide variety of medium can be applied. The manufacturer of the Gel Press Plates notes that they have seen prints created with everything from tempera to oil pigments sticks (such as Shiva Paintstiks), alcohol inks and more. They offer this tip: if you can wash the media off the plate with materials you would use to clean your hands, then it should work well on the plate.

Rubbing plates and stencils impart texture on a round gel printing plate

You have so many options to create texture and pattern in your paint before you pull your print! Pictured above left is a rubbing plate impression (Cedar Canyon Rubbing Plates are sold in sets of six and are deeply embossed with patterns); right is a stencil in place on a round printing plate.

Monoprinted fabric created on a gel printing place with Artistic Artifacts Fluid Textile Paint and wooden printing blocks.

And we all know my love of wooden printing blocks… their texture means they are wonderful to pick up paint off the plate, as in the example above, leaving a design behind. And of course that loaded wood block is immediately stamped onto another piece of fabric or paper!

Jamie Malden of Coloricious block printing on monoprinted fabric

I thought you might enjoy seeing this photo of the quilt pictured at the top of this post (in detail; the full shot is below) while it was in progress. That’s Jamie Malden of Coloricious adding the white wood block prints to our gel plate printed fabric blocks. I borrowed this photo from Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution’s 2013 “3 Artists + 3 Days = Creative Frenzy.” blog posting. Jamie was in the U.S. and we were lucky enough to host her for a block printing class; Liz was in town too, so the three of us set aside a few days to do some creative collaborating here at Artistic Artifacts. (My March 2020 Block Printing Tour of India is a Coloricious Holiday — join me for this once in a lifetime experience!

I hope this post inspires you to try monoprinting or other surface design technique — creating your own fabric or paper is very satisfying and ensures your finished artwork is truly unique.

Art quilt created in collaboration: Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts, Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution and Jamie Malden of Coloricious

My Mixed Media Art Journal

Flower inspired Mixed media art journal by Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts

I wanted to share some of the pages of my flower-inspired mixed media art journal. This particular journal has been in the works for years now! You know how some projects are like that, especially journals and mixed media where another layer and an extra dose of ephemera can always been worked in!

Above, the back of the closed journal with a flower charm added to the fabric ties.

Above, the wraparound flap hides another flower image as you begin to open the journal.

You know my love of wooden printing blocks… I thought the bird was a perfect addition to the butterflies and ephemera.

Multiple pages include pieces that were completed in the shop to show off a technique or product. The altered book page on the left has an image transfer, to show how you can get the transparency where the text peeks through.

In a previous blog post I wrote about transforming chipboard shapes — the above page spread is shown in that post!

Another previous blog post: Journaling, a Mixed Media Affair: Fabric Included features a number of pages now found in this journal in their initial stages, such as the above. I wrote then, “…And I need to add the same disclaimer I have before: these pages are not finished yet…there is more to come.” (I didn’t promise how QUICKLY they would be finished!)

I would begin working on both sides of paper: standard letter size piece of mixed media paper or watercolor paper, or a sheet torn from a blank journal. Folded in half, they were then stacked up and stitched into signatures, as shown above.

I’ve added some treasured and thematic Artist Trading Cards received during Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs) meetings, Art & Soul Creative Retreats, etc. to my journal too, as seen above and in the detail below:

Below, bringing in my love of vintage ephemera with a vintage postcard.

Below, “hinge” of washi tape means the postcard’s charming message can be viewed.

I hope you enjoyed this peek at this updated project!

Experimenting with iCraft Deco Foil

iCraft Deco Foil Transfer Gel applied through a stencil

On Thursday, September 14 we hosted our monthly How Do I…? demonstration. The topic was foiling fabric and paper, and we used iCraft Deco Foil Transfer Sheets Value Pack in Rainbow and iCraft Deco Foil Transfer Gel (jar pictured above), which is an acid-free, permanent foil transfer gel made for use with paper and cardstock. We also experimented with using the adhesive on fabric… because that’s just how we roll here at Artistic Artifacts!

Our first experiments (below) weren’t up to snuff. We wanted to experiment with using our wooden printing blocks to stamp the adhesive, but we learned we were not applying the transfer gel thickly enough. (Yes, we often learn as much as our students!) Because it requires a minimum of an hour to dry — you cannot apply the foil to wet adhesive — we were preparing some swatches for our attendees to use in advance.

Transfer gel applied too thinly, and heat/pressure not strong enough

The extremely faint print left above resulted from not just too little adhesive, but by running it through the laminating machine (our chosen method for the heat and pressure needed to transfer the foil from the carrier sheet to the prepared surface) sandwiched between two sheets of cardstock. The swatch on the right was put through the laminator sandwiched between two sheets of copier paper, which made a big difference even with the too-thin adhesive. Our instincts were to apply the transfer gel thinly and we were spreading it as we would paint. Once we realized we needed a thicker layer, our results were strong.

Applying iCraft Deco Foil Transfer Gel to a fabric swatch

Above, using a palette knife to apply the gel through a stencil onto a cotton fabric swatch.

iCraft Deco Foil Transfer Gel applied to fabric swatches

Above left, freshly applied transfer gel, which appears as a thick white paste. Right, the transfer gel properly dried — it is clear and shiny, with a slightly tacky feel/finish.

A foiled fabric swatch

Above and below, after the rainbow foil is applied.

A foiled flower on a cotton fabric swatch

The flower above did end up with two small patches of white where the foil didn’t apply, whether from it being too thin, or the surrounding gel being mounded higher preventing it from contact with the heat and pressure. We reapplied gel to the bare areas, and once dry ran it through the laminator again. We didn’t try matching the colors up in placement, giving us a cool effect of a bit of aqua on red, etc.

In fact, even if technically it would be deemed a mistake, we really loved the results of foiling swatches that had thinly applied adhesive through a stencil:

Fabric swatch with partially applied foil -- still very artful!

The foil will act as a resist, so we can apply paints or inks to this swatch to color it further. Gorgeous as is, and a fun starting point for further experimentation.

Our tree coral wooden printing block used to apply transfer gel to paper

You can see the adhesived dried on the paper swatch above, a print from our WB226 Tree Coral Wood Block. Below you can see the texture that resulted.

Our tree coral wooden printing block and a bubble stencil foil examples

We also used Mistyfuse Sheer Paperless Fusible. Below is a swatch example; we get so involved during the actual evening we forget to take photos. One of our attendees created a gorgeous abstract starburst cutting triangles of Mistyfuse and foiling it. Wish we could share that!

Using Mistyfuse sheer fusible web to apply foil to a fabric swatch

When you foil, make sure the color side is up/facing you, and the more matte silvery side is down against your surface. It can feel counter-intuitive… and FYI, even when you KNOW this rule, you can make the mistake!

Supplies and some results from our How Do I...Foil Paper and Fabric demo evening

You can see the silver/matte side of the foil in the photo above, in between our Tree Coral block on the left and the unused piece of foil on the right. Note that the flower image bottom right was intentionally foiled with a sheet that had already impressed a bubble print… again, we really like what others might see as a mistake!

A partially used sheet of iCraft Deco Foil

Above, a partially used sheet of foil… you can see the burgundy worksurface through the sheet where the foil has lifted off the clear plastic carrier sheet. Don’t throw partially used sheets out, as until the sheet is completely clear, there is usable foil there. These used sheets were the supply for another easy way to use the foil — creating our own metallic washi tape. We used ordinary masking tape and burnished (even finger pressure works for this) the used sheets of foil randomly across the sticky surface.

Creating custom foiled washi tape

Below, a completed length. We love breaking up the rainbow stripes into these random splashes of color!

A complete piece of foiled tape

You could also apply the foil more sparingly, and use mica powders, pigments, or embossing powder on the exposed areas of the masking tape to eliminate the stickiness and add even more color and texture. Below, the masking tape easily tears for a more organic edge if desired.

A complete piece of foiled tape torn in two for a different edge

There are plenty of tutorials out there for foiling, but as always, we encourage you to experiment and approach the process with a “what if?” attitude. Have fun!

More Art Journaling: Altering Cut-outs, Using Pan Pastels

My studio at the moment continues to have journaling supplies and papers front and center on the table. I’ve enjoyed experimenting with creating a variety of art journal pages.

This session I played with Pan Pastels. I consider this product a “fine art medium,” so that means it is intimidating to me! My comfort zone is in creating backgrounds, so that’s where I began. I ended up experimenting with two types of backgrounds that used Inkssentials Watermark Resist Ink and Golden Brand Gesso for effects.

I would recommend working with the Pan Pastels on watercolor paper, because it has a nice “tooth” to it. Since I didn’t have any at handy at home, I used pages from a Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media Paper with fine results.

Inkessentials Watermark Resist Ink with TCW Mask

I took a TCW Mask (TCW2023 Petri Dish) designed by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer and stamped over the mask using the resist ink pad (holding the pad right side down and pouncing). Then I used one of the Sofft tools packaged with all Pan Pastels to add color and gently moved it in circular motions over the stamped image…the result is magic! The resist ink stamping intensifies the Pan Pastels color and coverage and gives you a crisp design line.

Resist ink stamping intensifies the Pan Pastels color and coverage and gives you a crisp design line

My next layer was created using that same watermark stamp and the Cover-a-Card French Text Stamp, then a brown shade of Pan Pastel.

Watermark stamp using the Cover-a-Card French Text Stamp, then a brown shade of Pan Pastel

I experimented with using a purple color of Gelatos through the mask. I wanted to see if there was any resist when the Pan Pastels was gently rubbed around it. The answer was, not so much. But the Gelatos did add a more intense color of purple to the Pan Pastels, so I was happy with that.

Here’s my full page…I love the texture and imagery. This will make a great base to add additional art to, or could even be cut up to Artist Trading Card (ATC) size.

Watermark resist ink pad, Pan Pastels, stamps and masks

For the following pages, I used various cutouts of models from fashion ads. Because magazines are usually printed on slick paper, they need to be primed in some way to accept other medium, so I used gesso on selected areas. This gave me a base to add my own color with my Pan Pastels and Gelatos. It can also mask out an area I don’t like as much.

Gesso on selected areas of magazine page

I selected all of the magazine cut outs and adhered them to my page using Golden Soft Gel Medium. Then I selected additional colors from Pan Pastel, applied with the Sofft tools.

Art journal page by Judy Gula in progress

Like her new red/orange shirt? Next up, altering her hair…

Gesso is a great medium to use with Derwent Inktense Blocks or pencils, Pan Pastels, and Gelatos. Water the gesso down a bit, and mix it with the colors using a paint brush. When my color mix turned out too light, I applied a bit more of Gelato over top.

Art Journal page by Judy Gula in progress

I only had white gesso handy as I was creating these —what would happen if you tried using clear gesso?

Finished art journal page by Judy Gula

Finished art journal page by Judy Gula

Above, the finished page. Below, another page with the same techniques. I mentioned the magazine pages are slick, so there are some light/camera flash reflections…but I think you get the idea.

Art journal page by Judy Gula

One of the members of our JAMs Round Robin Art Journal Exchange has selected Outrageous Inspiration as her theme — I think these two qualify as outrageous! What do you think?

Page painted with two coats of Chalky Vintage-Look by Viva Decor in Aqua

In another experiment, I took a page (above) I had previously painted with two coats of Chalky Vintage-Look by Viva Decor (in Aqua), which gave my page more tooth.

Pan Pastels over Chalky Vintage-Look paint

I added additional color with my Pan Pastels using the Sofft tools. Then I added another fashion photograph cut out. This page (below) is now ready for me to continue playing the next time I’m in my studio!

Pan Pastels over Chalky Vintage-Look paint, magazine cut-out

Stenciled Art Journal Pages

For the last couple years I have committed to creating a blog post at least once a week, so it is a regularly scheduled (and predictable) task. But still every week I struggle to get it done in a timely manner! There’s always something…this week I began cleaning off my work table on Sunday evening… continued all day Monday… and finally by Tuesday evening I had room to work on my project to document for the blog.

Part of my clean up/organizing session was to take all of my small 6" x 6" size stencils (on sale this week!) and place them in an old photo album — remember the kind with the ‘magnetic’ pages? We know now not to damage our photographs using these, but they can make great organizers for stencils!

Organizing stencils in an old photo album

I placed two stencils per page. It remains to be seen if they will be returned to their place in the album after use. Anyway, on to the meat and potatoes of this posting! I wanted to illustrate create a two-page spread in an art journal so that the backgrounds connect.

I have several pages already painted in my stash. Remember to pull out your art journal or loose pages as you finish up any painting project: use them to get the excess paint off your brushes or applicators, rather than washing all that color down the drain.

Stencil atop two aligned pages

Above, I have aligned two loose pages together, and then placed a large 12" x 12" stencil so that it the design will appear (asymmetrically) on both pages. Notice off to the side the Colorbox stylus (black handle) with a small foam tip on the top. This is the tool that I use to apply my paint through the stencil, using in soft rotating circular motions. (The Artistic Artifacts website sells the Colorbox stylus handles and reusable foam tips.)

I do spray my stencils using 404 Spray and Fix Repositionable Craft Adhesive, and I have an important tip for you: let the sprayed stencil air-dry before placing it on your journal page. If you don’t, it will stick! (Ask me how I know.)

Silver paint applied through stencil

Above, inset, I have applied a silver metallic through the stencil, and the result once the stencil is picked up.

Take paint off your stir stick -- no waste!

Above, I have placed a portion of a different stencil so that it is positioned off the page. This gives the design some movement and a natural look. This photo also shows another way I save paint: I used the wooden tongue depressor to stir my paint up, and am taking the paint left on depressor up with my stylus tool to apply it.

Using more than one stencil, and moving it around

Above, one page completed with several colors of paint, and after moving the stencil around several times.

Beginning the other page of the spread

Working on the second sheet of this spread, I positioned the entire TCW522 – Rock Crystals stencil down on the page. After painting (above), I thought it looked a little bare at the top, so I moved the stencil around again, resulting in the below. Better balanced, wouldn’t you agree?

Moved the stencil to fill in a blank area

Below, the background stenciling and painting of this spread is completed. There is cohesion between the two pages, and the pages are now ready for me to continue on, adding photos, drawings, ephemera and more.

stenciled/painted background spread completed

P.S. If you were wondering…when I have the time to work on pages for the round robin art journal that is currently goining on through JAMs, but don’t have a journal in my possession, I work on a spread of two loose pages. That way when time is at a premium, I only need to glue in the completed pages.

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