Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My experience with the Letraset ProMarker Blending Sets


The Letraset Promarker Blending Set comes in a choice of Pastel, Muted, and Vivid color sets.  Each set comes with 12 Markers, a Blender Pen, and a Blending Chart.  You can also find a color chart available for free download on the Letraset website, which is helpful in planning your projects and keeping track of what marker colors you currently own.  ProMarkers are alcohol based inks which are popular with Manga artists.  They are permanent on paper, so plan accordingly.   The ProMarkers are fairly fast drying, which means you do have to plan ahead and work quickly to achieve maximum results.  These are non-toxic permanent markers that are double ended.  The side of each marker is labeled with the ink color and corresponding color number which makes it extra easy to refer to the color charts.

The ProMarkers are equipped with  dual nibs.  One is fine and the other is a chisel nib.


Thus, you can get achieve variety of color lines, depending on how you hold the nibs.  The fine nib was designed for detail work.  It is great for drawing Manga art, drawing fine lines, and filling in small areas. Also, if you hold the fine tip on its side, you can achieve a broader looking line that is good for filing in a larger area.


The chisel nib also offers some versatility.  You can achieve a wider line by holding the marker on its side.  The width will vary in accordance with how you hold the pen to the paper.  Also the chisel nib is great for color blending and filling in larger areas with color.  Then to achieve a thinner line with the chisel tip, you just need to hold it on its tip.  I was able to get a few different widths just by adjusting how I held the marker.


Each set comes with a dual nib blender pen that can be used to pick up unwanted color on certain surfaces, as well as be used to blend colors on various surfaces.


The ProMarker blender pens was very useful in creating a softer texture on the colored images.  Color in the image first, then go over it with the blender with dots, lines, circles, etc. to create texture or to soften the color.  The blender pens are easy to use.  For a quick demonstration, just view the video below to see how to use the blender pens to remove color from a paper flower.


For my first project, I decided to take a wood block, paint it, then accent it with assorted papers and die cuts to create a temporary book end. I then used the paper flower from the demo video as a center accent on the paper flower die cuts.  


Since it will remove excess ink from the image, the ProMarker blender pens are great to fix mistakes on your colored image. Depending on the surface, it can help smooth out lines on your colored image and lighten the color a bit.

Also, when planning your project, you may want to consider using bleed proof paper.  Below is an example of how the ink reacts with inexpensive regular printer paper. This is the back of the colored 
Ink Bleeds through Regular Copy Paper 
image and it did have some major bleeding.  You can see that it does not have the same crisp lines that you would get using bleed-proof paper.   You can avoid this problem by using your favorite brand of bleed-proof papers. I did notice that Letraset does offer their own line of papers on their website for Manga and other specific applications.

Personally, I had really good results with the Canson Watercolor 140lb cold press papers and some heavy cardstock (which I bought at a local stamp show).  I would recommend pre-testing a small piece of the paper you are planning to use and see how the ink reacts with your own papers.  On my second project, I used a black water-based ink pad to stamp a couple of butterfly images onto the heavy cardstock.

Once the images dried, I colored them in with ProMarkers from the muted collection and cut one of them out.


I found that if you coat the heavy card stock with the blender medium as a base, it will give you more time to achieve better color blending results.  I was trying for a slightly faded denim look at the top of the butterfly.  I found by laying the blender medium then the color, it was easier to blend the color and then remove color from some areas of the card.  This allowed me to achieve that slightly faded look in specific areas.

The Letraset ProMarkers also works really well with the Memento inks. This is because the Memento ink is dye-based and does not smear as easily as other inks might.  

For my third project, I decided to test the ProMarkers on a variety of surfaces to see how they would perform.  So I decided to use them on the embellishments that I was going to put in the mini album that I am working on for my daughter.  I started with the chipboard cover pieces and covered them with a variety of papers and embellishments.


Then I used one of the coordinating muted markers to line the outer edge of my page.


I used "Pale Pink" and "Pastel Blue" to outline the cloth flowers with a little touch of color. The mini frame was white, so I used the same two ink colors to make it coordinate with the paper and flowers. After the ink dried, I added some glitter, a charm, and rhinestones to the frame.


On the page below, I used the ProMarker to outline the lace so it would coordinate with the other elements on the page.


Then I used the ProMarkers to outline the vellum envelope and the green corners.


Tips:
  • Start with the lightest color and color image in.  Then apply the other colors in a similar order (light to dark)
  • Use the blender pen according to manufactures directions to get the best results.
  • Use the blender pen as a base coat then quickly apply the ProMarker colors you are trying to blend, before it dries to maximize use of the blending medium.
  • Try shade apply the color onto paper surfaces by layering the color on until you get the desired result.
  • The blender pen allows for versatility with the color applications and is a must have if you want to be able to do more shading in your color application

Friday, May 13, 2011

How to Recycle Macaroni & Cheese Boxes & Make a Pocket Book


This project is fairly easy to do.  Recycling card board boxes from food stuff is a great way to keep them out of the land fills.  Plus this makes a fun and inexpensive kids craft.  All you need is some empty food or product boxes which most of us have an abundance of around the house.

For my project, I choose to find a use for the many "Macaroni & Cheese" boxes that seem to accumulate in our home. So after feeding my kids their favorite "Kraft Mac & Cheese", I took one of the boxes and made some simple cuts.  Then I trimmed the edges.


On the second box, I cut off the top and bottom flaps on the box.

Then I trimmed about a 1/4" excess off each end (top, bottom, sides) so that it will fit snug inside of the
outer box.  I then put the second box inside of the first to make sure they fit together well.  Keep in mind that the top flap must over lap, so trim any excess from the second box.  I then glued them together with

white glue and let them dry overnight.  Once the glue is dry, it should look like this:

I then painted the inside and outside of the box with gesso to strengthen the box. While I waited to it to dry, I decided to work on the trim for the pocket book.  I used a designated pasta machine to condition the clay.
I used a texture sheet (a rubber stamp image created for polymer clay) and impressed some pre-conditioned polymer clay onto it.  Depending on the brand, there may have some sticking.  If that happens then spray a small amount of "Armour All" onto the stamp or texture sheet before impressing the clay onto it.  Remove the clay carefully and cut it to fit the outside of the pocket book.  Bake the clay according to the manufacturers directions and allow to cool before attaching to purse. I decided to cover the bag with some excess felt and trims that I had on hand.  Since the felt was self-adhesive it was fairly easy to cut and stick it to the boxes.  I then glued the beaded trim.  After the clay cooled, I used an appropriate adhesive to attach it to the pocket book.

Made from two empty Macaroni & Cheese boxes.
The kids enjoyed this project so much, that we covered other cardboard items with polymer clay.  Below
is a converted recipe box.  We also covered an old empty tin with polymer clay using molds and other small accents to create a treasure box to hold pokemon action figures.


These are really easy projects and quite fun to do.  The plus is you are teaching your kids to recycle and upcycle items that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Recycled Aluminium Can Tab Project - Chain Maille Coifs & Corset at the Renaisssance Faire.

With the abundance of creative people who attend the Renaissance Faire it is a great place to see some unusual costumes made from unusual and recycled materials.   I recently went to a local Renaissance Faire and met up with some fellow recyclers and got to see what new creations in costumes they had come up with. Some of my favorites have been things made from Aluminum Can Tabs, Duck Tape, soda can armour (flattened soda can connected with jump rings) and one person sported plastic shopping bags knitted together to make a skirt.  Sadly,  it was too crowded for me to get a picture of some of them.

Recycled Soda Tab Metal Amor Shirt

The  "Chain Maille Faux Coif Metal Armor" piece below is handmade from recycled materials.  This is a heavy piece to wear in the heat wave that had affected the Southern California area that weekend.


I recently found out from the gentleman wearing this suit, that an acquaintance of his had hand made this piece from recycled materials (with the exception of the jump rings).  This is an amazing piece and I extend my compliments to the creator for making such an amazing a faux "Chainmail Suit" from soda/energy drink tabs and jump rings.  I can recognize the tabs from the Monster and Rockstar energy drinks from the colors.  I am currently working on some bracelets made from similar materials.















Anyway, here is a close up photo of the tabs.  The maker used an interesting pattern to attach the different pieces together.    Apparently the shirt is very strong and pierce proof.  As the wearer of this piece had an unfortunate encounter with a sharp object. The shirt and he survived the encounter just fine and uninjured.

The last time I made a chainmail project, it took several hours to complete a simple 6" piece. I should mention that I used really small jump rings (22 g) which contributed to the difficulty of the project.

Anyway, the amount of time required to finish a piece varies according to the project. The maker of this shirt had to be very patient and meticulous to create such a cool finished piece.


Recycled Soda Tab Corset

Another great costume I came across was this corset also made from recycled soda can drink tabs.  This piece is form fitting and according to the lady wearing it....very comfortable to wear.

Another view of the corset.

I think the reason that this one is much more comfortable and lighter weight than the Metal Armor (see

above) is that a heavy thread was used to attach the tabs together instead of the metal jump rings. This
would also make it easier to move around and dance while wearing this piece.  The detail work on this
piece is amazing.  She also sported a very cool matching soda tab bracelet on each arm to complete the look.

Duck Tape Knight in Shiny Armor Costume

Another fun costume was a knight in shiny Armour which was made out of recycled cardboard and duck tape.
This looked much more interesting in person.  He was a lot of fun and was patient with everyone who wanted to photograph and ask questions about the costume.





So what have you made out recycled materials?  I would love to hear from you.