Sunday, June 15, 2014

Linky resources: Far Far Hill

Today, I'm going to share with you the Far Far Hill website. I chanced upon it while doing a google search of digital stamps. Did you know that there is a huge collection of free digital resources that are available on the internet! To get started, you can do a google search on "free digital stamps" or "free digital backgrounds" or "free digital images" to get you started

So, what's over at Far Far Hill? There are lots of free digital backgrounds, labels and images. Most of the freebies are vintage themed so if you like to have vintage elements in your projects, this is a good resource. And the best thing is that they have no time period - this means that you can look through all their archives and these things will still be available for downloading! Do take note of their terms of use though, these free digital resources are for personal use only.

I will be posting more of these resource links in the future. These will be labelled "linky resources". I love how blogger keep tracks of all the labels you have labelled before so you don't run the risk of losing things just because you misspelled a word or forgot a spacing.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Using your handmade masks - tips and tricks

Well hello there, as promised, a follow up post to the last tutorial I did on making your own masks! Took a bit longer to post this as usual as I haven't had much time to really sit in front of the computer but here it is! (Better late than never right ;))

There will be 3 tips for you today: choosing the right media, keeping your masks in the same spot, and cleaning up.

Choosing the right media
In the last post I mentioned that you would probably want to use a media that has minimal water content. Here's why: remember that these masks are made from paper that are covered with waterproof clear tape on the top; this means that the side edges of the masks are left uncovered by clear tape. So if you were to use a media with high water content such as ink sprays, the water from the media will seep under the clear tape, wicked in through the paper. This will weaken the masks, even if they were to dry out eventually.

So a short idea of what you should and should not use:
Yes - acrylic paint, colour pencils, pastel, crayons
No - watercolours, ink sprays

So what if you really have to use media with high water content. I have 2 ideas for you. The first to coat it with a layer of acrylic paint first, making sure to cover up all the exposed paper of the mask. Once it dries, acrylic paint is not rewetable and so will not stain any future projects. The second is to coat it with a layer of PVA glue or Mod Podge (note: Mod Podge stays a little tacky after it dries). Like the acrylic paint, glue is not rewetable after it dries and so will not stick to your future projects. Both methods will be fine, considering that the medium in acrylic paint is actually glue. It just depends on whether you prefer a clear finish with the glue, or opaque coloured finish with the acrylic paint.

Keeping your masks at the same spot
When using your masks, you would want them to stay at the same spot while working with it. You could use your hands to keep them fixed to the surface, but that might be difficult to achieve especially if the mask is pretty large. What you can do is to stick a rolled up low tack tape to the bottom side of the mask while you are working with it. Some examples of such tape would be masking tape, washi tape, removable tape, magic tape and painter's tape. You would want to test the tape out before adhering to your project, to check that the tape can be removed cleanly from the material you are working on.

Cleaning up
So you are now done with using your stencils and want to make sure that your mask is clean for the next use. Are you going to reach for your trusty baby wipes to clean it up? Well here's the thing, baby wipes is a definite no no for your handmade stencils!

As with the case of using high water content media, baby wipes are wet and hence content water. Using them will only cause water to seep into your masks. So what to do? If you are using dry media well hey, there's nothing to clean up right? For acrylic paints, I strongly recommend that you just leave it on your masks to dry - it makes your masks stronger and sturdier and saves you the effort to clean up. That's just killing 2 birds with one stone ;)

If you are using the high water content media after taking the step to waterproof your whole mask, then reach for your baby wipes and clean it. Leaving them on your masks will stain your next project once they are wetted again, and I'm sure you won't want that.

Well folks, that is it for the tips I have for you today. Let me know what you think and hope you have fun with your masks!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Making your own masks

I spent yesterday making my own masks so I'm going to share with you how I go about doing that. Be sure to read till the end for some tips and tricks in getting the masks you want!


To make your own masks you'll need: 
  • Clear tape e.g. packaging tape or scotch tape -- the larger the width, the faster the project will go and the easier time you will have. 
  • Images to form your mask. You can use images from magazine pages (like this) or newspapers and even hand drawn images. I tend to collect them and make all of them at one go. 
  • Cutting materials such as scissors and craft knife
  • A non stick surface. Here's I'm using a large foam sheet but you can do this on your table, floor, whatever. You want something that will make it easy to remove your clear tape. Experiment with your tape before settling down somewhere. 

Steps to making your own masks: 

1. Lay the image you want to cut out as a mask on your non stick surface. Here, I am laying it landscape as I prefer to work with my tape down the length of the image. That way, I will work with less but longer strips of tape

2. Estimate a length of the tape you will need to cover one horizontal section of the image and cut that out. For the first strip of tape, I like to stick the tape to the surface so that it will hold the paper to my surface, allowing me to focus on laying the tape down and prevent any tape disaster (you know, the one when the tape sticks to the tape or even worse, when it veer off course and stick crookedly).

3. To prevent the tape disaster, lay the tape onto the image from one end to the other, smoothing out the surface so that the image will lie flat and parallel to the tape.

4. Continue to lay the tape down strip by strip, making sure to cover all parts of the image with some border surrounding it. You would want to make sure the strips overlap so that no parts of the image is left uncovered. You should now have something like the picture below.

 5. Now, flip the image over and do the same thing, laying down tape to cover the back part of the image. To check if you have fully covered the back part of the image, hold it up against the light. You should be able to see the silhouette of your image like in the picture below.

6. When both sides of the image are fully covered, you are ready to start cutting it out. I like to use a pair of scissors to cut the outline and craft knife for holes within the image.

If you accidentally cut off or cut into a part of the image, do not worry because this can be easily fixed. You can just cut a piece of tape big enough to cover up the whole area and then cut off the excess tape.

Here I accidentally cut into the legs of the ballerina. 

So I laid tape over it on both sides and trim along the correct edge of the ballerina.

7. After cutting out the image, you mask is ready for use! Test out your mask to see if you like the look of the masked out shape. If there are any modifications you like to make, you can trim off more parts of the image. To add to the image, use the same trick mentioned above with clear tape to correct the image.

The first print is the one on the left. I didn't like the hole under her hands and how her legs looked so I made some modifications and made the second print on the right.

Some tips and tricks when you're making your own mask: 

  • When you first start to do this, pick images with well defined edges. The ballerina I chose here have some edges that are hard to see due to the shadows which was why I made the mistake of cutting into her legs. Once you are more comfortable with the technique you can then expand your image selections. 
  • If you like your masks to be more sturdy and less flimsy, you may want to lay down more then one layer of tape on each side to make it thicker. 
  • When cutting out your image, I find that it is easier to feed the paper into your scissors and/or craft knife knife. Turn your paper rather than the angle of your hand. 
  • When testing out your masks, I suggest using acrylic paint or any kind of dry media. You want to avoid using any water-based media. More about this in the next post! 

And that is all! Thank you for reading and supporting my first ever tutorial. It was difficult and tiring editing all the photos to include "My Craft Diary" at the corner but I really like how it turns out. Be sure to check back for the next post!