Studio Saturdays: Testing New Art Supplies

I’ve been neglecting my art journal lately, so I figured it was time to get back to it. What better excuse than wanting to play with some new art supplies? In the Collage section of the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, I reveal the fun new mixed-media materials I discovered at the last Association for Creative Industries trade show in Phoenix. I finally got a chance to use them, and do I have some amazing things to show you.

Now that most of the products are online or in stores, I thought this would be a good time to give some of them a road test. I started with the new Dina Wakley Media Journal from Ranger, a hardback journal that is unlike any other ready-made journal you’ve seen. Instead of just including plain mixed-media paper, this journal has pages made of burlap, cotton rag watercolor paper, kraft paper, and canvas fabric.

Here’s a photo of Dina’s own journal I took at the show, showing the watercolor and canvas pages. When I saw it, my heart jumped. That’s some mixed-media nerd reaction right there.

Dina Wakley Media Journal
The Dina Wakley Media Journal features pages made from watercolor paper and fabric, like the canvas shown here. (Art by Dina Wakley)

I brushed a coat of white gesso over one of the watercolor pages that faced a burlap page. I then brushed reddish-pink acrylic paint over the center of the page and the edges. I removed most of the paint on the edges with a baby wipe and let everything dry.

I cut a little bit of a burlap page and used it as a texture stamp. After sponging on Payne’s Gray acrylic paint, the fabric was pressed onto the edges of the page randomly. Love this effect.

Using burlap as a stamp
A piece of burlap from the new Dina Wakley Media Journal worked perfectly as a stamp.

For my focal image I used the new Tim Holtz Idea-ology Paper Dolls, which are cardstock-weight vintage photos of people, including kids and adults, and even dogs. A whopping 107 pieces come in the package, and photos are in various sizes to suit a variety of projects. I often use copies of my own found vintage photos in my artwork, but sometimes it’s more convenient to use something that’s ready to go, and these photos are really lovely. One more great feature: the photos are cut right to the image, with no white border.

New art supplies from Tim Holtz Idea-ology, Paper Dolls
Among the new art supplies seen at the AFCI trade show were these Tim Holtz Idea-ology Paper Dolls.

I adhered a dog and a girl to the center of the page with glue stick. While I had the paint out, I stenciled a design on the facing burlap page. No plans yet for the rest of that page, but I like the beginning.

Stenciling on a burlap book page
The facing page, made of burlap, was stenciled with acrylic paint.

Then it was time to get down to business with more new art supplies: a six-color collection of Dyan Reaveley’s Dylusions Paint Pens from Ranger in vibrant shades of Postbox Red, Squeezed Orange, Lemon Zest, Cut Grass, London Blue, and Crushed Grape. I’m not a big user of paint pens—I like them, but I tend to just use paint. But these pens are making me a believer. The nib is super fine, making it easy to write, draw, doodle, make marks, and outline. The paint flows very smoothly, and the colors really pop.

I drew a wreath around the center image, freehanding flowers and leaves. These paint pens make it so easy to draw, fill in, and write, and it all looks good. In addition to art journals, the pens are perfect for cards, planners, tags, mail art, collage—anything, really. Bonus: If you’ve gessoed the page, you can wipe the paint pen off with a baby wipe if you make a mistake. Just do it quickly before the color sets!

New art supplies from Ranger: Dylusions Paint Pens in six colors
These Dylusions Paint Pens from Ranger offer vivid color and are perfect for drawing and writing.

I used a White Linen Dylusions paint pen (available in another set) to outline the photos, which gave them a nice highlight.

Dylusions White Linen Paint Pen used to create a border
The white paint pen was used to make a hand-drawn border around the photos.

I love that the happy, vivid colors of the paint pens give this page lots of energy and style.

Art journal page with new art supplies: Dylusions Paint Pens
The finished art journal page pops with the addition of the Dylusions Paint Pens.

After that, I went in a different direction with the new art supplies and tried the Faber-Castell Tea Stain Dyes. These are a blend of real tea and dye, and they come ready to use in tea bags, which makes them so easy and accessible. Two color combinations are available; I used Agra, which includes two teabags each of Green Matcha, Blue Chai, and Pink Hibiscus. Watercolor paper and cotton fabrics are recommended for these dyes, so I prepared some small pieces of watercolor paper and vintage crochet pieces.

New art supplies: Faber-Castell Tea Stain Dyes
More new art supplies from the trades show: Faber-Castell Tea Stain Dyes, a combination of tea and dye in fantastic colors.

The dye is strong (and smells like tea)—I placed one bag in about a cup of hot water, and you can see intense the dye is. That said, if you want to use this as a very dark stain or paint, use even less water. As with any dyeing projects, make sure to wear an apron and gloves because the stuff stains.

New art supplies: Faber-Castell Tea Stain Dyes
The Faber-Castell Tea Stain Dyes produce concentrated color that’s muted, natural, and sophisticated.

Here are the results, clockwise from top left: Dip-dyed watercolor paper in Blue Chai and Green Matcha (the paper dipped in Blue Chai was also rubbed with the wet tea bag to darken the color), watercolor paper scrunched and left in the dye bath for about 10 minutes, crochet pieces that were left in the dye bath for about 30 minutes, watercolor paper splattered with the two colors, and watercolor paper brushed with Blue Chai. These dyes are stunning; I love the muted shades that are often seen with natural plant-based dyes. I’m really looking forward to trying more experiments.

Dye results include strong and pale colors
A range of effects, plus intense and pale colors, can be had with a simple dye formula.

Next on the new art supplies roster were the Tim Holtz Distress Oxide Inks from Ranger. Tim did a demo on these at the show, and the effects looked cool—these are water-soluble ink pads, but they’re also water-reactive; spritz water on them, and the inks start to soften, blend, and change. For an easy background, you can smear the ink straight from the pad onto a nonstick craft sheet. I used Broken China, Fired Brick, and Vintage Photo.

New art supplies: Distress Oxide ink pads from Ranger
More new art supplies from Ranger: Distress Oxide ink pads, which are water reactive.

I spritzed the colors with water, then dragged some watercolor paper through them. The colors blended beautifully, but still remained vibrant. I spritzed the paper again with water and the colors continued to merge and shift.

Distress Oxide inks on watercolor paper
The colors blend but retain their vibrancy, even after being misted with water.

When the papers dried, I stamped designs with Vintage Photo and Broken China, then spritzed the paper lightly. I don’t know, I might run off and marry these. Seriously, these are kind of a game changer—I’ve never seen effects like these with ink, and I can’t wait to play with them more. I’m thinking there are way more possibilities that will be fun to explore.

Stamping with Distress Oxide ink pads
The backgrounds were stamped with Distress Oxide inks and misted again, resulting in softer images.

Rebekah Meier has a new line of mixed-media supplies with Therm O Web, and if you know Rebekah’s work, you know these products have to be great. I wanted to try out the Mixed Media Art Tape, which is sticky-back white tape that’s 1 ½” wide and accepts almost any medium. I colored a strip with spray ink, then applied some Mixed Media Medium along the edges.

New art supplies from Therm O Web: Rebekah Meier Designs mixed-media products
New art supplies from Therm O Web: Rebekah Meier Designs mixed-media products.

When it dried to a tacky finish, I burnished Mixed Media Transfer Foil in Old Gold over the medium.

Transfer foil over gel medium
After brushed gel medium along the edges, gold transfer foil was burnished on top.

Look. At. That. You can make your own custom washi-like tape.

Foiling on Rebekah Meier Mixed Media Art Tape
Custom foiled tape? You betcha.

I adhered some of the tape to the bottom one of the Distress Oxide pieces and turned it into a tag.

Foiled tape added to a tag colored with Distress Oxide inks.
The foiled tape was added to the Distress Oxide ink tag to give it a pop of shine.

Current mood after all these tests: elated. So glad it’s Saturday. I’m headed to my studio, and I’ll see you next week!

I’m guessing you’re eager to try some new supplies too. These resources from the North Light Shop are just what you need to fire up your creativity.

May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine
Read more about the great new art supplies for mixed-media artists in the May/June 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.
Breaking the Rules: Inventive Uses for Supplies & Materials video with Carolyn Dube
Go on, break the rules! let Carolyn Dube show you how to get the most from your art supplies in her video, Breaking the Rules: Inventive Uses for Supplies & Materials.
Rae Missigman's Paint, Stencil, Stitch Kit
Rae Missigman’s Paint, Stencil, Stitch Kit includes her four new videos plus stamps and stencils she designed herself! Get techniques for how to use them, and much more.
Art Lessons Supply Stash Series collection by Jane Davenport
No one road tests mixed-media art supplies like Jane Davenport. This collection of her Art Lessons Supply Stash Series includes fantastic techniques for pastels, watercolors, alcohol inks, and more.

 

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Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques

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