I always have a great feeling as I see the Purolator man driving away after a pickup. Usually it means that I just completed a project and it is on its way to the publisher. That's always a feeling of relief for me, as more times than not I am coming from dealing with the nerves that accompany submitting to the magazines. Yesterday was no exception.
While I still have some writing to do on the ornaments that I showed yesterday, I wanted to take a day that was a bit 'unstructured' and relax a bit. I find that if I get away from what I have been working on intensively for a couple of days, it really keeps things fresh and I avoid being overwhelmed. Switching gears is good for me.
Keith has been working on some new things as well. He came up with four really nice "Welcome" signs that he is in the processing of finishing up for our next update. Here is a sample of one of his new plaques:
They are going to be a nice series, and he is even adding a little color to them as an option (I think he has been hanging around me too long!) We will have them available in our next update to the site, next week.
I felt like painting as well. I had a vision in my mind as to how I wanted to offer a set of painted ornaments that would be very similar to the wooden ones that I just finished. I needed to work things out though to achieve the effect that I wanted and yesterday seemed like the perfect day to do just that.
I began by cutting a set of six shapes similar to the ones I had just completed. This time though instead of cutting the inside holes for the design, I wanted them to be painted. That may seem very straight forward, but I wanted these ornaments to have an 'eggshell' cracked finish on them so that they looked like old porcelain. Thus began my new self-challenge.
Earlier in the week, I had seen one of my painting friends create a project using DecoArt's "One Step Crackle" finish. While you have seen me use a crackle finish on my own projects many times, I typically use DecoArt's "Weathered Wood" which gives a totally different result. Here is an example of how the Weathered Wood cracks (Use on my SLDP208 All Cracked Up Snowmen pattern).
You can see that the cracks are large and uneven – Just how I wanted them to be.
But I didn't feel that would be suitable for what I had in mind. I wanted these ornaments to have a somewhat elegant look to them, and the Weathered Wood seemed like the crackle would be a bit too "rustic" for that purpose.
Enter the "One Step Crackle" . . .
Unlike the Weathered Wood, which gives those big, beautiful and irregular cracks, the One Step works in an entirely different process which results in fine, even (what I call "eggshell") cracks. To me, it looks as if you have a lovely, old piece of porcelain and the clear coat has aged to the point where tiny cracks are forming. This is very subtle and you don't even see it on first glance, but when looking closer, it is evident. This was exactly the look I was seeking for this project.
But as with using any new product, there was a 'learning curve' and it took me the entire afternoon and many tries to achieve the look I was seeking. The application process was completely different – for the Weathered Wood, you apply the medium BETWEEN the dark base layer and the light contrasting top layer. For the One Step – you apply the medium OVER the light base coat and then apply a dark, contrasting color over it and wipe it back, allowing the dark color to remain in the clear 'cracks' that the medium caused and the light layer to show through. I made several attempts to try to figure out just how thick/thin to apply the paint/medium, as this would naturally affect the final outcome.
One thing I find is that DecoArt isn't always crystal clear in their instructions on using these specialty products. When reading the instructions on the label, it seems that there was little guidance as to things such as I mentioned. I suppose that they are depending on us as Helping Artists to experiment and report to others our findings, which is what I intend to do.
As I mentioned before, the effect from the One Step Crackle is SUBTLE. After working with the Weathered Wood for several years, I was used to actually seeing it crack right before my very eyes. But two factors come into play when using this product that we need to keep in mind – that the layer that 'cracks' is CLEAR, and that it takes a little bit more TIME to complete the process. What initially may look like a 'failure' could really be a hidden success or a success in the making. We just need to be a bit more PATIENT.
After attempting many different thickness of paint and medium and color combinations (I needed to play with the color that I applied over the crackle and wiped back) I finally found a combination that really resembled what I had in mind. The finish looked like aged fine porcelain. VICTORY!
You have to really LOOK, but it is there and it DOES add a great deal to the aesthetics of this design. Oddly enough – it was one of the FIRST processes that I tried, and after an afternoon of many trials and errors, I wound up liking the first one that I did the best! Also was the fact that I was just looking at the plain background pieces, which in themselves are quite unimpressive. It wasn't until I edged the pieces with the gold metallic that I fell in LOVE with the outcome. I need to take my own advice sometimes and be a bit more PATIENT!
Here is the final ornament:
By the time I finished this ONE ornament up, it was after 9pm. I have five more to paint today, but I can do so knowing that I feel secure in having the process under my belt. These are really quite simple to do, and will be an exercise in the skill of lining and brush control. While I don't think it is everyone's forte, it is certainly something that appeals to me. With the addition of some black Glamour Dust Ultra Fine Glitter Paint on the Damask motif,the gold metallic float shading around the edge of the ornament and the beautiful golden crystal rhinestones, as well as the subtle cracked base, the ornament looks quite beautiful. I hope you agree.
While there was a moment (or two) yesterday that I felt a bit frustrated about things and I must admit I considered giving up, I am truly happy that I stuck with it. Not only are the results just what I wanted them to be, but I also feel that I have a better understanding of the products that I am using and recommending and I am not better equip to help others as well. I always feel that our best way to learn is by trying things. While we sometimes feel that we are wasting materials and our time, the lessons we learn from hands-on experimenting are the ones that I feel teach us best. It is well worth the small price tag to gain additional knowledge. I think my time was very well invested.
Have a terrific Thursday!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"