Friday, November 10, 2017

Seaside Coconut Conch notebook

Completed Nov. 10, 2017. Measures: 9.5 x 9.5 cm. Materials used: Pre-made mini book, Studio 112 adhesive gems and mini paper pack, sparkly blue recollections craft tape, and other scrapbook papers.

This mini book started off as a pre-made white notebook with a plastic spiral binding. I've had it tucked away with other small books for years, originally intending to emboss my watermark symbol on the front of it.

After making my Seaside Apothecary journal, I had some leftover scraps of paper and had also dug out some accessories from my stash which I ended up not using in the junk journal. The front decorative paper with a zig-zag edge, and the spiraling adhesive gems were both small accessories from Studio 112, items I had gotten years ago from Joann's.

I've always wanted to find a project to display the adhesive gems on, having gotten them because one, I like spirals; two, I love that teal color. The milky sheen and shade of these plastic tear drop gems reminds me of hypoallergenic, moisturizing, coconut scented liquid bathroom soap. 

Call it a form of synesthesia, but the specific color of these gems reminds me of the coconut scent, which I find oddly relaxing.

I cut my paper scraps down to size, used liquitex varnish to seal them, added some sparkly tape to the inner covers because my inside papers weren't quite wide enough, and I made sure those gems were secure by adding fabri-tac to each one.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Seaside Apothecary Book

Started Oct. 30, 2017. Completed: Nov 7, 2017. Measures:13.5 x 14 cm.

I enjoyed making this journal just because the colors of it are relaxing to look at. Continuing practice with a fin binding technique, I found a way to use up certain specific elements that were still lying around in my island junk journal supply bag.

This book has to be my favorite as far as the cover is concerned. The internal pages on the other hand weren't planned, they were technically just leftovers from larger island themed journals I had been making. those leftovers somehow complimented each other rather well.

You can see the stages of my work on the cover above. Its spine is around 4.5 cm. wide. To make it I chose some thin board for my base, left a gap between the spine and covers on either side, then held it together using a pretty teal blue colored paper with little white flowers on it, along with a woven basket looking paper.

I chose the teal paper because it reminded me of the ocean with small traces of sea foam. The choice of using a paper that looked woven reminded me of a basket made from ocean grass that you carry seashells in. Both these papers were from a stack found at a yard sale, so I don't know what brand they are.

The decorative square base I adhered my shell pictures to was from a small dollar paper pack by Studio 112. Another element from that pack also made it into the book as a journal spot. The shell images and ocean wave boarders were dye cuts and vellum boarders from the K and Company-Tim Coffey travel collection.

I used my new Tim Holtz distress tool to add some interest to the spine cover and decorative square, then inked the edges with Tim Holtz vintage photo ink. I wanted to give it that rough seashell basket appearance.
I glued down most of my elements including the vellum boarders using fabri-tac, which works surprisingly well on transparent mediums with slick surfaces.

Other parts in making the cover were experimental. When creating my fins for adding pages to, I hid the white cardstock using strips of the same paper I decorated the inside with. This made it blend in, and I inked the creases a bit to further hide the white color.
Everything was sealed and protected using Liquitex varnish, all except the vellum pieces.Vellum resists thin varnish. 

After the cover was finished, I simply added my assembled pages to the fins, and got a cute mini book made mostly from recycled materials.

I used white, glossy cardboard, ink, a Smash book rub on of an anchor, scrapbook paper, parts of a bubble patterned tissue box which has been in my stash for ages, a sand and sea tissue box top with window, paint sample sheets, washi tape, a hand sewn plastic bag with stamping done in Staz-on ink, and finally half a ginger ale box with a whale on it.

About the book's name: Two of the paint sample cards I added in the front of the book as inserts have little labels on them that inspired the name. One says dried mint, another is labeled Apothecary Jar. Among these are blue cards with names like Fountain Foam and Niagara Blue. This inspired me to name the book Seaside (or Sea Foam) Apothecary.

There was another reason I liked this name, and the name itself inspired me to add a couple of experimental mason jar shaker cards (shown left). Seaside Apothecary as a theme is based off of a setting from one of my stories (the MN- I role play). In the beach region with a sea town, there's an Apothecary owned by a character named Dorian. He's friends with the local medic and renowned chowder house owner, Irna, who visits his apothecary for herbs and spices relating to both her healing job and her restaurant.
The mason jar shakers were something I added specifically to represent these two characters. One jar has herbs in it, the other has chowder.

I viewed the jars as exchanged gifts between the two characters. Unfortunately my chowder (which isn't actually a shaker) ended up looking kind of like barf in a jar. I'm sure it tastes great....just looks odd. This was a result of making a collage with green pasta and shrimp, then painting on it with a cream colored acrylic, an attempt to make it look like chowder. 

The herb collage in a jar is a partial shaker in the sense I used a small hole punch to create free floating peppercorns which can kind of move around. The jars were stamped on plastic, then glued to white card stock using fabri-tac glue.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Nov. 6, 2017- More craft supplies

Over a period of three days and a few times back in October, I've been getting different art supplies as I find a want to experiment with different things.

The 1'' ms. sparkle and co. double sided tape was found at Johann's for 2 dollars. It was worth getting, especially because I found it works extremely well for my recent fin binding experiments with the key lime and Seaside Apothecary junk journals.

The tape holds the spine piece in place nicely, and I only had to cut one piece to fit a four fin spine which is 3 cm. wide. Also on that day I got myself a dollar pack of mason jar shaped cards by ms. sparkle and co. These items were found in the 2 dollar bin section.

The rich cocoa Memento ink was purchased the same day, and is a very deep, dark brown ink pad. It works well, unfortunately it's rose scented.

I don't enjoy perfumes in general, finding that during crafting with the ink I get a slight headache from it. This could be related to my health, but I can't use the ink unless I hold my breath, and afterwards I have to wait a day to touch the inked item.

The smell does disappear after 24 hours, but that can put crafting behind schedule. Thankfully the scent isn't permanent, but I wish Memento would be kind, and stop scenting the ink pads.

After October passed, I started finding my recent projects could look better if I used a few different tools I didn't have. I had the items on my list for Amazon; that was on Nov. 2, 2017. They arrived two days later and I was thrilled to experiment with them, having waited for them so I could finish my Seaside Apothecary book.

The Tim Holtz vintage photo ink has a nice color, a bit of a dark, reddish brown. I found the foam blenders worked wonderfully; they were making me happy just using them. I'm glad the company finally made foam pads that properly spread ink, unlike the distress ink pads which are just thin felt blocks you stick to the blender.

Only thing I did notice was that the little blenders are cheaply made. The toothy part of the velcrow is only slightly sticky, and held in place with a staple. Aside from that though, the foam pads are just right (set came with two blenders and two replacement foam pads for around six dollars).

I also got the Tim Holtz paper distress tool, which seems to be the only paper distress tool there is now days. It has little notches, and within there's a fixed rotary blade that scrapes the edges of the paper, thus giving it an aged look. I wanted this for making light distress marks on certain elements of my Seaside Apothecary book.
All three of the Tim Holtz items were used to complete the book, which turned out great.

On the fifth we stopped at Michael's, now relocated and more cramped feeling than before. It was awful, first day of reopening and there were too many people, with room for only one cart practically in every aisle. 

We had a couple of coupons, I got myself some Recollection 110 1b white card stock, Tim Holtz broken china distress ink because I've been wanting to make more aquatic themed stuff, and I also got the canning jar stamps from Inkadinkado. I've wanted those stamps for awhile now so I could stamp on plastic with Staz-on ink, and create mason jar shakers and pockets (been in an odd mood for mason jars and herbs).
Paper products and beads purchased from Tuesday Morning Nov. 6, 2017

My main reason for going to Tuesday Morning was to see if they had any tools in the scrapbook section. A gator clamp, or a fuse tool were the main things I was hoping to find. I had no luck in finding any tools, but I did get my hands on some paper items and beads.

The bubble bead assortment from design elements by Jesse James were a new discovery. I've never seen something like them before, and love the way they feel when shaken. They reminded me of little candy jars for dolls (one of the reasons I got them), that and I love sparkly things that move around. The beads are made of glass, and the caps are plastic that have been glued on.

I also got a pack of paper called "You Are Here" by Simple Stories. More whimsical island stuff seemed fun for five dollars. 

There also was a family themed pack of journal cards by Misc Me! I got them for the vintage look, and plan to use some of them in a steampunk journal.

The most surprising thing I found was the Artisan Style Graphics45 paper stack. You don't often find Graphics45 stuff, so seeing this at Tuesday morning for six dollars was exciting. It even comes with templates I plan on saving for multiple projects.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Pumpkin Spice Bottle

Themed photos of a bottle on Halloween night. Once all quieted down for the evening I did some themed photography of an empty bottle I liked the label of, but couldn't remove, so I took a picture instead.

I set out lace and spiderweb fabric over wood and cardboard to get the look of a fallen bottle after a long Halloween night, just something fun to add to a scrapbook.
  I can't say I know what the drink tasted like, because none of us touched it, just my dad.
The label has a nice whimsical touch, like a Tim Burton painting, which is probably why I liked it. One day I may try to design my own label based around this one, to print and add to my journals as many times as I want.

Monday, October 30, 2017

PS paint filter experiment

I wanted to play with making pictures look painted again. It's challenging to do despite the filter options in PSE. My sudden urge to figure it out is based around my interest in the art pieces I see done with the supposed popular app filter called "Prisma", which is annoyingly a thing made specifically for phones and not a desktop.

Prisma has a surprising realistic look as far as paint texture goes for a photo filter. Even after looking it up, I find few people have nailed the same effect in Photoshop, unless they have CS6. It almost seems PSE doesn't have that kind of setting no matter how advanced, and manually experimenting is the only way to get something similar.

I discovered some things that come close to being like the Prisma filter, but not quite. I experimented with a collage first, discovered that if you use the cut out filter, and then reduce noise, you get a smooth painted look which can be refined with the smudge tool. An example of this is in the lower right corner of the panel above.

I also experimented with making the image smooth, but giving it poster edges (lower left corner).
The more interesting filter I found in PSE 12 is the graphic novel poster, which resulted in something that reminded me of wood pressing over paint (upper right corner). And finally I took the smooth paint version and gave it a scratchy overlay to mimic colored pencil, but the results weren't the best (upper left corner).
My main reason for wanting to achieve the painted look is to disguise photo manipulated pictures, and make them seem more natural, all part of the same setting.
I like the idea of making these sorts of art pieces look painted for the sake of hiding pixel quality differences and artifacting.

I chose to try this with an old picture of Ion, a character of Quin's from the MN-I role play so many years ago. I played around with two settings, one was to make it look soft and poster like (left), and the other was made to look scratchy and painted (right). Unfortunately, to achieve either of these effects, I had to sacrifice certain color qualities and details of the original image.

I may have gotten close to getting the Prisma appearance, but still not exact. To do it I first used the cut out filter, then I reduced noise, smudged a few things, created a black and white image of the picture, applied an angled brush stroke filter, and multiplied the texture over the softened image.
Finally, I tried playing with the intended image I've been wanting to turn into a painted portrait. The top two were experiments done using poster effects and cut out filters with a bit of texture overlay, not quite what I was looking for.

After further research on youtube for painting effects over photos in Photoshop, I discovered that I'm having the most trouble because PSE is still limited in too many areas. I had to improvise and see if I could find some cheats for getting a painted look. First I softened and added glowing edged to my picture (lower left corner). After that I created a painted effect overlay using Corel Painter Lite, which I then had to save and apply in PSE, changing the blending mode to lighten. Once that was done I added some paper texture, and got the final results (lower right).

It's not too bad I guess, but achieving this effect would be more pleasing with an updated program, and there's still not very much of a difference between this version and the original. Getting something that look like an oil or acrylic painting is just tricky, and nearly impossible to achieve without some kind of better program, unless you're patient and willing to manually paint over a digital image using the brushes in Corel Painter.
A retry created on Jan. 2, 2018

Yes, this part of the post is from the future. On January 2, 2018, I went back to the Youtube video I had watched before on how to make an image look like watercolor, and I got this. It's not too bad, some details are of course lost, but I like the way it turned out.

I made a few duplicate layers of my image in PSE, one of those layers I applied a cutout filter to, then took that image and applied a smart blur to it. I then created a copy of this layer, reverted i,t and turned the blending mode to color dodge. On this layer I painted over it using a watercolor brush set to 9% opacity. Once the painting was done, I duplicated my layers, merged them, and applied a sandstone texture through the texturise filter.
Created Jan. 3, 2018

Only difference between this version above and the ones below are the slightly darker edges which give the picture more of a 'drawn with pen' appearance.

After a basic watercolor effect over a cutout filtered image, I played around further with the images from this collection the following day, and discovered a technique I really like the look of.

I wanted more detail while still having a watercolor effect that made the images blend together and appear like an actual painted illustration from a story book.

To achieve this I took my base photo manipulated picture, duplicated it, and applied a colored pencil effect from filters. I then set this layers mode to lighter color. Beneath this layer I created a solid color layer of dusty dark brown. I then duplicated my base image again, applied a cutout filter, and reduced noise. I then set this layers mode to darker color, reduced opacity to 88%, and set it above the colored pencil layer. Then I duplicated this cutout filtered layer, inverted it, brought the opacity back up to 100%, and switched the mode to color dodge. I then took a watercolor brush at 9%, adjusting the opacity as needed, and painted on this layer to get a watercolor effect over colored pencil.

I adjusted levels for some parts, and played around with a light yellow gradient set beneath all the layers except the solid color layer. The yellow gradient gave me a warm sunlight effect, as show in the right image above.
My first experiment with watercolor over colored pencil in PSE was of just this character (Lewa), standing by himself in a forest scene. 

I find my favorite version of this one is the warm light version shown here. Sunlight that's hazy, but bright makes me feel relaxed.
I also played with other settings to get a basic version (left), and a glowing version (right), which was a result of changing the cutout filter layer to the pin light blending mode.

The shading effects on the tree and such were done using different colors during painting on the color dodge layer. I darkened areas with gray brown and black, but added light to spots using a soft, warm yellow.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Key Lime Pie Book

Started: Oct. 24, 2017. Completed: Oct. 29, 2017. Measures: 8 x 8 in.

The Key Lime Pie journal. This is the first book I've ever made using the fin binding technique.
I guess browsing through so many Youtube journal videos has helped me explore new possibilities.

I've included two pictures of what my first fin binding looked like (far left in the panel above). It was simple enough to attach against the spine with my new 1'' wide double sided tape.

I've had this key lime pie box in my stash for years. I've always liked the colors and artistic set up of it, so much so that I didn't want to do anything with it if it meant covering up or cutting down some of the box's design.
The best way around that was to use it as a book cover instead of a journal insert as originally planned. 

I picked out some papers that fit the mood and colors of the book, including its chosen contents. The colors and style all seemed to lean towards a tropical theme, so I aimed to add beach based and tropical items to my pages.

My pages were constructed from white card stock, then inked with blue around the edges. I assembled my pages and all the flips first before adding them to the fins.

Recycled items I chose to use include aquatic themed candy and dried coconut bags, tropical colored Popsicle boxes, a lemon bag,and part of a Jone's soda box. Added accessories were made using things like storage jar paper decorated with taffy images, paint sample cards, and other recycled items. 

Decorating the pages and inner cover was a fun experience for me. I don't normally use a lot of scrapbook papers combined with my junk journals, but for this one I did, and I love the results.
Like the usual, I sealed my inner cover with varnish, and then for the rest I inked the edges of my cards and papers black before matting them together.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Spooky Infant Wall Pictures

I figured it's the month for spooky pictures, especially old mildewed prints of paintings which heighten the mood for any haunted house.

With some editing, these pictures could become fun images for journals or Halloween decoration.
These pictures were once in frames, which we ended up taking and using for other images.


The baby was the first, there's also this one of a toddler, with colored accents that appear to have been done with pastel.

The little girl seems to have a spooky charm to her, and then there's the bird toy down by her feet which stares at you too.