Monday, August 17, 2009

G is for Glue Stamps

I'm still behind on the Surfacing Group's alphabet challenge, so while I'm supposed to be working on something beginning with the letter "P," I'm just now dealing with the letter "G." Following up on directions in a Quilting Arts Magazine e-letter, I tried making my own stamps with glue. The concept is simple - if squeezed on any surface, most glues will retain some dimension as they dry and leave a raised design that can be inked for stamping. The directions suggested using pieces of cardboard as a base and craft glue like Alene's. I also had some cheap school glue, so tried both.

The school glue was too thin and quickly flattened enough that getting a clear print was difficult. The craft glue, however did not. I had my usual control issue laying down the lines of glue, but the directions indicated that the unpredictability of the glue was part of its charm. I'm not sure I was that charmed, and my designs were less refined and detailed than what I normally like. Both glues took much longer to dry than the directions said. If you are going to try this, don't plan to use the stamps the same day as you make them unless you make them very early in the day and use them very late in the day. They dry clear, by the way, which means until they are inked, you can't really see the designs.

The nature of these stamps mean that they cannot be cleaned - you just let the paint dry on them and continue to use them until you no longer get a clear print. The directions also said these had to be placed on the table, inked, the fabric laid on top and a brayer run over the fabric to transfer the design. I did this on the first few tries, then decided I could see no reason not to use them like any ordinary rubber stamp. I used Versatex acrylic paint straight out of the bottle applied with a foam brush and pressed them onto the fabric - no problem.

While the stamps were drying, my mind wandered, and it occurred to me that these could probably be used for rubbings as well. So I gave that a try, first with Shiva Artist's Paintstiks, and then with a dry chip brush lightly loaded with the Versatex paint. That's the sample on the left. The craft glue ones worked very well for this.

I have to be honest here. There are certain products or techniques that everyone raves about, but try as I may, I can't warm to them or make them work for me as stellarly as everyone else implies. Paintstiks are one such product. This is the second time I've used them for rubbings, and frankly, I'm not feelin' the love here. I really prefer the effect of the dry paintbrush (the dark spiral). It just works better for me and gives me the look I like.

I can't just rinse out a brush, so the middle sample is me exhausting the paint on the foam brush with one of the stamps underneath. A little of the design comes through and some of the darker marks are where I turned the brush on edge and there was more paint to transfer. The sample on the right is the beginnings of a new paint wipe cloth as I squeezed the last of the paint out of the brush and dampened it to transfer even more paint. The ripply section in the middle was the product of placing corrugated cardboard under the fabric before brushing.


magsramsay said...

Thanks for posting about your experiences- it's good to hear about what doesn't work!
I'm with you on the paintsticks - I bought some years ago and have hardly touched them -it seems too much of a pfaff to carefully pick off the old dried layer, having to build up the colour and then letting it'cure' when I can get instant gratification ( and the colour I want) with acrylics and paintbrush or palette knife.
For rubbings, a childs large wax crayon works just as well.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thank YOU for commenting...I always feel like a heretic when I can't warm up to something that seemingly everybody thinks is without fault - the solution to all our designing problems! I'm sorry I trusted all the praise I heard about them because it was the deciding factor in my buying up a bunch of packets in the discontinued bin (should have been my first clue) - even at 40% off I dropped about $70 and now wonder what I'll ever use them on. Something, no doubt, but not on rubbings!

bj parady said...

I'm not wild about paintsticks, but there are a couple of things I do like about them. One you can't do anything about--it's the iridescent ones that really sing. But the other thing they're good for is stencilling. I make freezer paper stencils and iron them in place. Then rub some of the stick on the shiny side of another piece of freezer paper, then pick up this paint with a stencil brush. Apply it to the fabric this way. You can get some cool results mixing colors this way. Since you own them, it's worth a try.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Actually, bj, I bought turpentine so I could try using them with brushes (another reason I'm not crazy about them - cleanup). I'd seen the kinds of stencil work you talk about demonstrated on tv. I don't do much stenciling, but sometimes it is definitely the proper technique. I also realize that paintsticks generally are opaque whereas most of my acrylic paints are not. So I know they have things going for them, it just seems so fussy getting there. Guess I should be more adventurous - I'm not much for blending - like it to be right straight out of the bottle (or paintstick). Someday, though, I'm sure I'll give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion.

bj parady said...

Forgot to mention, stenciling is how I did the bubbles in this piece:

I use the substitute turp, doesn't smell as much, if I use anything. And some day you should give blending a try--I had a mentor who says art should catch your eye at 20 feet, 3 feet, and 1 foot. The blending gets that 1 foot away interest.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks bj for the additional info and the link to the quilt. This is a good example to show me because it never would occur to me that the bubbles were done with a stencil.