Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gelli printing series #1 guest post by Tami Sturm Howse

Hi all, I have been slacking here, but I got this great idea to do a series of guest posts with artists who are great at Gelli printing. This new-ish technique has taken the mixed media art world by storm. If you don't know what gelatin printing is, check out this link.  There are many tutorials on YouTube as well, for beginners and experts.  Gelli plates can be purchased on Amazon and other art supply online shops.  You can also make your own plate.  There are many tutorials on how to make one on YouTube.

Let me introduce mixed media artist Tami Sturm Howse.  I met her on the Gelatin Printing Enthusiasts on Facebook.  I asked her a few questions and this is her guest post.  Also, please check out her blog and etsy shop for more pictures.  Links are at the end of the post.

1. How did you get started with Gelli printing and what did you use to do before you got into those?

“Tami, this looks like a craft store exploded”, said a friend when she saw my craft room.

I started out as a scrapbooker years ago, but realized that nobody in my family ever really looked at my scrapbooks. I then became interested in mixed media. I loved that I could use all of my “stuff”, which was becoming quite plentiful.

Being a true crafter, when I first saw the Gelli Plate, I wanted it, whether I needed it or not. However, I wasn’t willing to spend the money until I knew I’d like it. So, I went online and found a way to make my own. After I played with the homemade one, I decided I didn’t want to have to run to the refrigerator every time I wanted to use it (I wasn’t aware of the “permanent” homemade version yet). So I bought the 8x10 plate.

2.  Was it hard to learn how to make the prints?  What is a good beginner's guide, if any?  It wasn’t hard at all to learn. I watched several YouTube videos (Carolyn Dube was a favorite) and just got started. The cool thing about Gelli printing is that if you don’t like the print, you can just paint over it. For the beginner, I would say that if you make a print that you absolutely love, don’t change it. Also, ALWAYS scan your prints if you have a scanner. That way, you can digitally immortalize them, and you don’t have to be timid about cutting them up and using them.

3.  How have the prints evolved?  Since I’m a mixed media nut, I’ve been incorporating my stencil designs, hand-carved stamp images, embossing, molding paste, and hand-painting. I love that they can be changed up.

4.  What tools do you use to make a variety of prints?  Bottoms of shoes and flip flops. I once saw the bottom of my adult daughter’s shoes and exclaimed, “Don’t throw those out when you’re done with them. I want to use the pattern on the bottom.” She rolled her eyes. I also love to use bubble wrap (of course), stamps, my stencil masks, leaves, the bottoms of fruit trays (don’t blame me if you start eyeing them up in the produce section), and on and on. I’m always seeing texture tools throughout my house.

5.  How do you use the prints?  What do you suggest to beginners (as far as using the prints in other media?)  I love using the prints as a collage base for my mixed media canvases. They’re great to use on journals, candles (see my blog), cards, envelopes, and decoupage (think “funky”). Anywhere you use paper, you can use your Gelli prints. Sometimes I like to use a “theme” of color, depending on the project I’m doing. I’ve been known to decoupage onto furniture, cigar boxes, old cabinet doors as a base for an assemblage piece, and my husband.

Well, I’m joking about the husband, but I think sometimes he’s afraid if he stands still, he’ll be “Gellied”.

6.  Tips and tricks in general.  Anything special to know about Gelli plates?  Anything you wished you had known when you started? Make sure to store your Gelli Plate in a climate controlled environment e.g. NOT in a hot car and NOT in a freezer. Also, don’t use a glossy paper on the plate (like photo paper or glossy magazine pages) Other than that, they’re pretty sturdy little buggers. When looking through magazines, keep your eye out for images that you can cut out to use as masks, which can be really fun. When using texture tools, make sure you’re not using anything sharp, or you’ll have a permanent “texture dent” or “texture rip” on the rest of your prints. Remember that often “mistakes” are just new techniques. At least that’s what I always say.

And, if you’re anything like me, your crafting area is a disaster. All. The. Time. So, when you sit down to do Gelli printing, make sure you’ve cleared enough space for drying prints, or else you will end up having to use all of your bathrooms and your bedroom floor, which I’ve never done.

If you’re interested in some of my original stencil and mask designs, please feel free to visit my Etsy shop at

And, if you’d like to see some Gelli techniques as well as my other craft adventures, please visit

Thanks for reading! Fondly, Tami

I LOVE what she has made with the Gelli prints!  I wish these give you some inspiration to expand your own prints.  There is no end to the versatility of the Gelli printing plate.  Thank you, Tami. :) 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Manila folder journal tutorial and giveaway!

Hello lovelies,

I have been on a tear making art journals lately.  Funny how things go in waves isn't it?  Anyway, I made a manila folder journal this weekend and I'm raffling it off to one lucky winner.  I had so much fun!  The pictures are not the greatest, but I had only artificial light when I took them.  I wanted to show the step by step process.

Speaking of cameras, I was talking to a geeky friend the other day about buying a new camera and what kind I should buy to get better a resolution for my online prints.  I don't like it when only small prints are available.  Anyhoo, he gave me the low-down and I realized it would cost me about $200 to get a decent enough camera to capture my art work.

Then I went to lunch yesterday with a dear friend and she handed me a bag with a black pouch inside.  What is this? I asked.  She said, open it, which I did.  Inside was a Nikon camera!!!  It will fit the ticket perfectly.  She was gifting it to me since she just got a new camera herself.  I had no mentioned that I was looking for a new camera.  Talk about manifesting.  I have been working on the law of attraction a lot lately. 

Now for the tutorial...

I started with a used manila folder and blacked out the text on the tab.  I used a liberal amount of Mod-Podge to glue the folder together, being careful that the edges stuck well.  I still ended up with some air bubbles once it dried.  Grrr.  

I used a strip of washi tape over the uneven edges and glued down some white cardboard to reinforce the tab.  I made sure to lay down a strip of glue to hold down the washi tape forever, lol.

I used a bone folder to really press down the fold hard once the Mod-Podge had dried.  This was before the washi tape obviously...

I cut the white cardboard to the shape of the tab and now had a very sturdy tab.

I now laid the folder flat on my table and spread out a layer of paint...

I spread some paint on the back of the folder.  I like the shabby uneven look.

I used several layers of paint, mostly spread with an old gift card.  Both sides are similar, just a slight difference in the colors.

I painted the tab purple and wrote the words "Good Dreams" on it.  I stamped the front cover with the word Imagine, and there is plenty of space for embellishment.  The back cover has only paint on it, so you can fix it up the way you like it.

I cut out some paper stars to cover the air bubbles (grrr...) on the inside cover and stamped some inspirational words.

I used card stock paper for the signature.  There are 24 empty pages to embellish when all is said and done. They are a bit narrow, but that's the shape of the folder. Card stock is not as durable as watercolor paper, but you can certainly use wet medium and paints on it.

I tried to get a picture of the various paper colors, but it is not so good.  There are two sheets of green, two yellow, and two manila colored.  I thought it was fun to add varied colors.

The inside front cover adjoins a green paper...

And another close up of the back inside cover.  The picture is pinkish, and I blame my camera for that (my old

So, enter to win!  By entering you agree to receive my newsletter, which is filled with great stuff. :)  If you don't want to enter the raffle, you can subscribe in the window at the top right hand column. Good luck!


Monday, October 13, 2014

A new free mixed media tutorial for you!

Everyone likes a freebie, right?  I thought I'd go over this mixed media piece, since it' was somewhat of a challenge for me.  I had a lot of fun making it. :)  It's a stretched canvas, 12x12".  I started by spilling paint and dribbling and spreading.  I don't have a picture of that part.  It's just to cover the dreaded white space quickly.

I then tried to see some possibilities in the forms that came up, but nothing really struck me.  I painted in a face outline and some flowers.  Looked like crap, so I decided to cover the mess with some pages from a paperback book I once wrote.  Then I spread some thin paint over those to make them blend in better.  I now had a background I could work with, and I kept thinking what now?  I had an old journal page with a face that I liked.  I was not about to cut up my journal though, so I made a regular photocopy on printer paper.  It came out really pale...  We're going to pick up the canvas with some pictures now, but I took a photo of the journal page so that you could see the original:

I used colored pencils on this drawing.  I was trying to learn shading by going over the page lightly with various colors.  I was happy with the result. 
 Then I decided to cut up and glue the photocopy to the canvas. Scary, and I was a bit worried about the paper wrinkling with the Mod-Podge that I spread liberally on the back, To my surprise, it didn't wrinkle, but I got some patches from the glue, so when I spread paint on the face, pale spots showed up.

You can see here how pale the face is to start.  I brought out my Prismacolors and shaded the face some, and then I blended it with the background colors with paints and a baby wipe.  I like to have uniform colors pretty much.

Above you can see the odd spots that I covered with green and yellow just to get rid of them.  I gently added a tiny bit of paint to the eyes, and painted on the hair. Nothing fancy...  I saw some greenery that could stay on the right hand side and outlined them in white.  She was going to read a book, so I painted some yellow book covers at the bottom.

Can't say I liked the "blemishes" on her face, so I blended and smoothed that with some white paint when the green paint had dried.

I outlined the book and stamped on the letters with Staz-on ink.  The bird is decorative paper, which I painted with light blue paint.  The legs are painted on.  I painted a faint outline to the girl's eyes.  I didn't want them to stand out more than the rest, but they looked kind of pale.

I added on more lettering by tearing out paperback pages and stamping them with words.  Reading gave her ideas for her own stories.  And to break up the space in front of the bird, I cut out a piece of paper for bunting and painted that to match.

I enjoyed using the photocopy for the face.  I made sure it was very well glued down, with NO air pockets.  I don't know how well it will hold up in the long run, but I plan to varnish the whole thing with acrylic varnish.  I also found it interesting that the face ended up so different than the original even though they are identical.

Since I'm both an artist and a writer, I'm often torn between the two.  Should I be writing more, or do more art?  It's not easy to have several interests.  I just take it day by day.  I will soon have a new fantasy story out on Amazon, the sequel to Trials of Hallion, Two of Swords.  I actually painted the book cover for it.  When it's complete with graphics, which an artist friend of mine will create, I will put up a picture.  Writing is more of a chore.  Once you start a manuscript you can't just write randomly.  You have to follow a schedule every day to get anywhere.  Writing a book is a massive effort!

With mixed media art or painting, I can flow more, and I like that.  And I like lots of color!  :)
If you would like more tutorials and other news from me, please sign up for my newsletter!  Top right column.  Thank you. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

The winner is...

We've got a winner for the art journal raffle, Beth Bowkett in Scotland.  She is an artist who paints gorgeous whimsical landscapes.  Check out her etsy shop The Artful Bee.  Congratulations, Beth!  :)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Giveaway time! :)

I have been planning to arrange a giveaway on the blog for a while, and I came up with the idea of making you a beautiful handmade art journal with all the backgrounds all ready for you to embellish.  I actually got really excited about it, and spent hours making one, forgetting time, and forgetting to eat lunch. Maybe I should make more of these?  (Less calorie intake.)  I used Strathmore Bristol watercolor paper, really heavy duty.  After making the backgrounds, I folded and sewed them together with embroidery thread.  The journal measures 7x11" - that's what you get when folding a 11x14" sheet of paper.  There are 16 pages, 18 if you count the inside covers.  You can of course embellish the outside covers too.  Yay!  It's a $30.00 value.  Here are a couple of pictures.

When you enter, please respond to this question in the Rafflecopter window:  What is your favorite kind of art to make? By entering you agree to receive my artsy newsletter.  Good luck!!  :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 21, 2014

On the hunt for the perfect opaque white marker....

If you enjoy art journaling as much as I do, I'm sure you have been trying to find the best permanent white marker (that actually works.)  I have tried a bunch, and here is a review of some of them.  The pictures aren't that great, but they will give you the names of the company that makes them.
I will start with the worst ones...

This is Craftsmart by Michael's.  One time I came across one that really worked well, but lately I bought two that are AWFUL.  You push the nib down and expect to get a good flow, but you get a huge blob and no flow.  I'm taking them back.  They were $3.99 or $3.49 (can't recall exactly.)  This pen does not work well on canvas either if you're trying to outline something.

You would think Prismacolor would have a great pen, but this does not work on paper, or any other surface.  Just don't buy it.

Pen-touch by Sakura.  It's goes on in blobs and it's hard to use.  I regret buying that one, and I don't remember the price. 

Gelli Roll pen works ok on paper with a very thin line.  Great for doing fine work and outlining.  Good flow and lots of pigment.  Doesn't work on canvas.

I used to LOVE Elmer's Painter's pens.  I would buy the box of various colors when I had a 50% off coupon.  They lasted for a long time and the paint spread consistently.  The white worked like a dream.  The quality has gone down considerably in the last two years.  I'm so disappointed.  They don't last, and they spread blobs too.  You start a line and it's ok, but fizzles out after a couple of inches.  I have not seen an improvement in the quality, so I'm going to quit buying the brand.  I didn't have a white pen to use in the picture because I threw it out in a fit of

The Faber-Castell pen is good.  The only set backs: the nib is thick and you have to apply the lines a couple of times to get a solid white line.  But it spreads evenly without blobs. 

DecoColor also spreads a good line, but you have to apply a couple of times to get the solid line.  It also smells vile of chemicals...  I aim my fan toward the table when I'm using it.

The winner is:  Uni-ball Signo.  It draws a really good line, but is not permanent.  Unfortunately.  For paper work it's great, but not on canvas if you're going to apply something else on top.  It smears.  I did get a whole box of them for $23.00 at Jetpen's and if you buy, make sure to get the Japanese version.  See the lettering on the box?  Free shipping if you spend $25. I had some of their other colors as well, and they are great for writing, so smooth and easy.

What is your experience with white pens??  I would love to know since I'm still hunting for that perfect PERMANENT marker.  If you want to keep in touch, please sign up for my newsletter at the top right hand side.  :)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Art by some of my favorite artists...

Who is your favorite artist, or type of art?

I have a long list of favorite artists, but you would have to spend a week reading this post, so I will keep it short and sweet.  Lately I have been doing a lot of art journaling and mixed media.  Everything seems to go in cycles, so acrylic paintings could be next.  Here are some of my favorite artists:

Iris Fritschi-Cussens lives in London, England.

There is a tutorial on how to make this lovely image on her website.  She also has lots of fabulous how-to videos.  Check out her website HERE.

Another favorite is Christina Colwell in Oregon.  I love her whimsical style and happy colors!  

You can check out her Facebook art page HERE.

Tracy Verdugo is from Australia.  I love it that you can find artists from all over the world via the Internet!  She is teaching a really cool ecourse starting on September 24.

Check out her Facebook art page HERE.

Tamara Laporte has a massive blog hop going.  Check out all the wonderful art.

This picture is by Jane Davenport.  She is part of the blog hop and ecourse:

This looks like a really cool course.  Lots of great teachers involved. 
Check out Tamara's Facebook page HERE.

More about the Life Book course HERE.

Willowing and Friends community page on Facebook, HERE.

Those are just a few of my favorites.  I'm a huge fan of Flora Bowley too. Here's a short 
video of her by Zipporah.  Click HERE.

Who gives you inspiration, or nudges to keep on going with your art?  Please comment 
and share.  :)  Have a great day full of inspiration!