Tag Archives: product review

Embossing paste and Mica sprays

16 Apr

Guest Blog Post by Design Team Member Venisa Gallegos

Comments in Italics by Deb

Blue Twig Assignment for March (Yes I know it is April.  Heh…Heh… just a little late)

This month, I got to pick my own items to play with. Deb is always getting in new stuff to play with so I chose the Pearlescent Embossing Paste from Dreamweaver and a set of Mica Sprays from Ranger. I learned from an online video on the mica sprays that Ranger let their designers, like Tim Holtz and Dina Wakley, create their own line with the colors that they use the most. I got a set from Dina Wakley with the colors Evergreen, Ruby and Lapis. FYI, I also learned that these sprays are replacing the Glitter spray line. (good to know)



BTW, another fact I learned about the Mica sprays online is that they were designed so that they won’t react with any water based colors. I had been wondering why I would need this spray when I already have metallic sprays and now I know. So, if you want to spritz this spray over a water color design to give it a bit of shimmer the water color won’t run. I’m here to tell you it worked for some items but for others the water color started to move again on the paper. I think it’s because I overdid the spray (ha ha). When I didn’t overdo the spray and just spritzed a little there was no color movement. I also learned that you really have to shake these sprays up or you’ll get a little globing of color. These spays won’t add a ton of color but just enough to give a sparkle to the piece. Figure 2, shows various cards with different backgrounds I created with water colors and acrylic inks. It definitely added a metallic shimmer. (you know that samples always look different in person than in photos)




Now on to the Pearlescent paste. I actually had a stencil from Dreamweaver so I decided to use this paste with that stencil. The Dreamweaver stencils differ from other stencils in that they are metal and smaller. Basically, I placed my stencil down and put a layer of paste over the stencil. Sort of like spreading peanut butter on bread. I first used the stencil on a piece of white fabric. I chose white because I wanted to go back over it with the Mica Sprays. Also, I added a bit of acrylic ink to the pearlescent paste to a bit of color. The results are shown in Figure 3.


It’s hard to tell from the picture the color in the crane. I really liked just the plain shimmer on the cranes from this paste. The next figure shows what the crane pieces looked like after I spritzed them with the mica sprays. On the white, the color wasn’t all that impressive.


Next I tried both Golden light modeling paste and pearlescent paste on black cardstock paper. I mostly wanted to see the difference between the pastes. You can see in Figure 5 how the pearlescent paste really pops on the black paper and the modeling paste is more subdued. (kind of hard to tell in the photos)


Finally, to add more color to the pieces I spritzed both images with the Mica Sprays and Oh My!!! Figure 6 shows how that mica spray really pops on the black. Now, this I really liked.


I love, love, love how the mica sprays show up on the black cardstock. I will definitely make use of these sprays on black backgrounds.

Well, I loved being on the design team for Deb. I got to play with new products and see what I could do with them. I’m really glad Deb has her store in town so I can pick up new products I wouldn’t have otherwise know existed. Thanks for supporting the mixed media population and providing so much support and information about new products. 🙂


Thanks Venisa for being part of my Design Team and giving awesome reviews. It is always fun for me to see how everyone uses products and tools. Because in Mixed Media there are no rules – no right or wrong way of using various products. It really is all about playing and having fun!


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, CO 80918




alcohol inks review

13 Apr

Guest Blog Post by Design Team Member Pat Mathes

Comments in Italics by Deb

My final journey with the Design Team is working with alcohol inks.  I love the bold look of the finished process, and am learning to refine those colors into soothing looks.  It is all in the process.  I am by no means an expert in this – I am just the opposite, a novice but willing to learn.  I will warn you right now that you need to wear gloves with this media.  I didn’t at first and ended up with yellow and green fingers.  And this is a very permanent ink.  The craft scrubbie  is a must for any mixed media artist, and it did take off a bit, but not much.  So WEAR GLOVES!  Protect your clothing and your workspace.  I used my Ranger nonstick craft sheet, also available at Blue Twig Studio, to protect my table. (I do protect my table, but rarely wear gloves myself. I kind of like the ink on my hands – makes me feel like I actually did something creative!) 

Alcohol inks are an acid-free, highly-pigmented, and fast drying medium to be used on non-porous surfaces.  You work with drops from the bottle, not a paint brush (although I do teach using the paintbrush in my Exploring Alcohol Inks Class – which will probably be on the schedule sometime in the summer, so watch for it.). There is a wide variety of colors.  The two most popular brands are Adirondack and Pinata.  The major difference between the two is the color palette.  The Adirondack line of colors is very earthy and rich.  The Pinata inks are rich, but basically primary colors.  And bright.  The Adirondacks are a bit more fluid, also.  The Adirondack inks are softer, and the Pinata quickly overpowers with its color.  Vivid primary colors.  If you mix the two on a project, and they are mixable, the Pinata will be the dominant colors because of the intensity.  Both brands of ink are very fast drying.

As I work through these examples, you will note I talk about the ink moving.  This is one of the great ways this ink works.  If you pick up the paper and tilt it, the ink moves on top of the paper.  If you put blending solution on it, the inks move.  So when I say the ink is moving, it is doing just that.  It sits on top of whatever surface you are using.

Tools needed:  (1) Surface:  Alcohol inks do not work well on paper.  The drops just sink into the paper.  I did some experimenting with a piece of gesso painted wood and got a different effect – you don’t get the bloom on the drops as much and you don’t get the flow.  The inks work great on any other surface – plastic, metal, glass, and on Yupo, my favorite, which is a plastic paper that you can purchase at Blue Twig Studio either already cut or in a large sheet you can cut to the size you want.  The Yupo  has a surface that really works well with the alcohol inks.  (2) Blending Tool (available at Blue Twig Studio).  You drop drops of the different colors on it and pounce with it, and you will get different effects.  On the pieces in this article, I will tell you when I used the blending tool

AI 1

(3) Alcohol Blending Solution – an awesome product.  If you put some on the blending tool and daub it on a finished piece, it dilutes and lightens the effect of the alcohol ink. The solution will also clean the alcohol ink off of surfaces, hands and tools.  You can also use 91% rubbing alcohol.  I have a water pen and a spray bottle filled with the rubbing alcohol.  Please note that you need 91% rubbing alcohol, not the everyday kind you probably have in your cabinet.  There are a couple of examples below where I used the pen or the spray.

First, I am going to show you some comparison studies I did with the alcohol inks, using Yupo paper and glossy photo paper.

***I have put 3 different colors on the blending tool, dropping them around randomly.  You don’t totally cover the pad on the tool – you will get the feel of how many drops to use.  (See the tool below in picture 12 of the domino) On the Yupo paper, using the blending tool, it has a much softer appearance and a slight bloom.  On the glossy paper, it is more intense and the inks don’t move.  You can pounce the tool over and over.  On the Yupo paper, the ink sits on top of the under colors and blooms a little more, not darkening.  On the glossy paper the ink just sits on top of what you already did and darkens more, not moving any.

AI 2



*** I put blending solution on the blending tool and swiped it through the first sample below.  You will note that with the Yupo paper, it smeared and spread the inks.  The effect on the glossy photo paper was that it didn’t do much to what was already down, it just smeared it a bit.  These were both dry when I used the blending solution.

AI 3 (1)


**When you put a drop of another color on top of a color on the Yupo paper (below left), it blooms and you get that neat ring around it – on the glossy paper, it doesn’t show a lot of effect.  It doesn’t move the bottom color at all and in fact overpowers it.

AI 4 (1)



****The next sample is another one of layering the colors.  And then I took the water pen filled with alcohol and swiped through them to see what effect I would get.  You can see with the Yupo paper, it removes the ink.  On the glossy paper, it doesn’t hardly have any effect.        AI 5


On the Yupo paper, you can keep layering colors, and even drop the alcohol solution in it, and each drop will bloom on top of the others.  Here are some examples of this.  In picture 1 I layered 3 colors.  You can see how they bloom on top of each other, creating those rings of intensity.  In picture 2, I dropped a drop of alcohol blending solution.  See how it lessened the intensity of the color?  In picture 3 I dropped a drop of white on top and then spritzed with rubbing alcohol.  It creates “droplets” on top.AI 6



***Next, I wanted to try some marbling.  I put a thick layer of shaving foam on a paper plate and dropped some drops of alcohol ink on top.  I then took a pallet knife and cut through it, kind of swirling the inks.  After you place the paper into the foam and pick it up, you just take a palette knife or paper towel and wipe off the foam to reveal the colors and lay it aside to dry.  The picture on the left was done using card stock and the picture on the right is the same process using Yupo paper (the three lighter ones) and on the far right are the glossy paper.  You can see that the colors are more intense on the card stock and glossy paper than on the Yupo paper.  So it would depend on the appearance you wanted. These are now ready for embellishing.  At this point you could use these as backgrounds for a greeting card – collage on them, draw on them, do Zentangle on them – any kind of art.

AI 7

Once alcohol inks are dry, you can write or draw on them with many media – remember, they are not water based so you won’t smear them with a water based media on top.



****The next sample I really enjoyed doing.  But doing this with the alcohol inks, you have to work fast because they dry so quickly.  I dropped Pinata inks (see how vivid the colors are) onto the Yupo paper, totally covering it.  I used a bit of blending solution to move the colors around a bit (this also extended the drying time a bit), and then I wrapped the paper in plastic wrap.  I left it to dry overnight.  When I released the plastic wrap the next day the effect was beautiful.  In the third picture, I did another piece using Adirondack colors which gave a more subtle effect.  (this is a great way to create special effects)


***And then there are dreamscapes.  This is the idea of June Rollins (she has beautiful AI work and many tutorials available).  You lay down lines of the alcohol ink across the page, add blending solution and tilt the paper to make the ink flow.  Then you add another color and do the same thing.  You take coffee stirrers and move the ink flow.  You take an old credit card and move it.  Get the picture?  Her pieces are beautiful – these are my first two attempts.  These take a lot of practice to get them to really work right.  I just love the looks of flow that you can get with these inks.

AI 10



Next one turned into kind of a hot mess.  I put down a mix of colors and then laid a stencil on top.  I dropped the blue through the stencil.  That is the outer part.  You let it sit a while and you can kind of see the stencil.  I didn’t like the way it did the inner part, so I put another stencil on top and dropped clear blending solution on it.  That created the small circles you see.  So the overall effect is okay, and I took a silver Uniball pen and a microperm pen and did a tangle on it.


AI 11


**I dropped ink on the blending tool and pounced it on a blank domino (just an inexpensive plastic domino).  These are fun to collage on, punch hole through and make necklaces.

AI 12


***To show a couple other effects, I did a light background, then placed the circle stencil on top of it.  I put blending solution on the blending tool and pounced through the stencil.  This took the ink off in those places.  Then I used a stamp with Ranger Archival Ink and stamped on the bottom.  On the right hand side, this is one of the earlier pieces where I showed drops on top of each other.  I inked my stamp with Ranger Archival Ink (has to be this type of ink) and then took a damp paper towel and removed the ink.  I wasn’t careful enough and did smear it a bit, but you get the general effect – it removes the color just like the blending solution does.

AI 13


Last but not least, here I just used drops of color on the blending tool, pounced it all over the Yupo paper, then used some blending solution on top of it and pounced some more.  I also did some drops directly on the Yupo paper. Once it dried, I did some quick art on top of it with white gel pen and black Microperm.

AI 14


When I step out of my comfort zone and work on something new, I am sometimes quickly frustrated. It doesn’t look the way I think it should or the way that the picture/video I am working from looks. I expect perfection from myself and it should be easy peasy. But that doesn’t happen. It takes practice, and finessing techniques my way, and coming up with a way that works for me.  That way I can start to develop my own style.  This was a really fun way to step out of my comfort zone!!  I see more playing in my future!


Thanks Pat for a great tutorial. Alcohol Inks are fun and addictive to use. There are many more ways you can use them besides what Pat has shared here. She is right that you just need to start playing and developing your own style to use them. One of the wonders of AI is that you really have just a minimum of control and that takes some getting used to. 

Blue Twig Studio sells all the Ranger Adirondack Alcohol Inks and the Pinata Alcohol Inks, as well as the Yupo paper and various tools, including craft sheets (although everything may not be listed on the website). Watch the Class Schedule for the next Exploring Alcohol Inks class – which I try to do once or twice a year. It is a great way to play and experiment with various surfaces and tools. I love to see which techniques/surfaces/tools the students love and which ones they ignore. 


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio

5039 N Academy Blvd 

Colorado Springs, CO 80918





2 Apr

Guest blog post by Design Team member Terri Ayers

Comments in italics by Deb

Pan Pastel projects


PanPastel Colors are professional artists’ quality soft pastel colors packed in a unique pan format (cake-like). To me they are like applying eyeshadow to your desired canvas.  PanPastels are easy-to-use, blendable, paintable, quick-to-use, erasable, versatile (works well with other media), easy to control, low dust, portable, stackable, and very addictive!  They come in 80 colors plus a handful of pearlescent and metallic colors, as well as a blender and some mixatives.

PanPastel Colors recommended uses are:

  • Block-in color – quickly & cleanly for underpaintings, washes & toning paper
  • Layering – build up thin layers & glazes of color multiple times without overfilling the paper’s “tooth”
  • Apply controlled marks – from intense strokes to delicate marks, for painterly effects
  • Mixed Media – combine with other artist’s media & experiment with a variety of surfaces for new creative effects

I experimented with the 5 shade set that also contains few of their Sofft tools for application and blending.  I can never stop at just a few and have added more colors to my collection as well as more tools and applicators.

There are numerous videos on the Internet about how to use PanPastels and many that amaze me at what can be accomplished with this fairly new art medium.  There are many fine artists that use them for portrait and landscape artwork.  I focused on the mixed media arena as that is one of the many areas where I like to play.

Here are 3 techniques that I experimented with.



FullSizeRender (7) Versamark background wash

First I  embossed a piece of cardstock with a texture folder (Tim Holtz), then I applied Versamark to the entire front surface. Then I  applied 3 different colors of  PanPastel as a background wash.  I sprayed a fixative over the top (outdoors for good ventilation) to seal the work.

FullSizeRender (4)Texture paste and stencil

 I used a stencil (Wendy Vecchi) on cardstock to apply PanPastel then kept the stencil in place and applied Ranger Transparent Texture Paste over the top of the PanPastel. (Stencils are a great way to use PanPastels.)  Just to add a little flair, I spritzed some water and added a sprinkle of ColorBursts powder.  The paste did not resist the Colorburst, so be careful where you sprinkle!  The nice part of the texture paste is that it will hold the PanPastel color firm and there is no need to use a spray fixative.

IMG_3265Stencil and modeling paste

I did a light background wash on card stock and then applied modeling paste through a poppy stencil.  After allowing the paste to dry, I painted on the PanPastel to the top of the paste and inside the image and then sprayed with a fixative.  After drying, I then applied more color for shading and enhancement and followed with a final fixative spray.

FullSizeRender (6)


I am working on a mixed media piece on a canvas board using the PanPastels, stencils, tissue, embossing paste, stamping and maybe a few other art tools.  This project will be offered in one of our Exploring Mixed Media classes that take place on the first Wednesday of the month.


The PanPastels can be used over canvas, paper, cardstock, gesso, matte gel medium, and with encaustics.  It can be used to distress, add shadows, stamped with and incorporated into other forms of mixed media.  It can be used in coloring books and is great for card-making and scrapbooking.

I really enjoyed this product and now have added more colors to my stash.  The Sofft tools are very helpful and durable and hold up better than cosmetic sponges (even though they look like they are cosmetic tools).  Mistakes are easy to remove with an eraser.  If multiple layers are used, or the surface will be touched; it is recommended to use a Spray Workable Fixative.  I think it would be really awesome if they came out with a mini pack like an eye shadow case so that I could have all of the colors at once and take it on my travels! (That would be awesome to have!)


Thanks for another great demo Terri. I’ve always loved how easy the PanPastels are to work with. Even though they are a chalk product, they don’t have that gritty feel that most chalks do. They are super soft and a little bit goes a long way. They blend nicely and you can create depth with layers. You will love them!


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, CO 80918






Distress Products

5 Mar

Guest Blog Post by Design Team Member Pat Mathes

Comments in italics by Deb


The items in my packet for February were Distress products  (by Ranger)- Ground Espresso Distress Marker; Vintage photo distress ink pad; Fossilized Amber distress spray stain; Ground Espresso distress paint and Carved Pumpkin distress stain.  I already had quite a few different Distress ink pads, and bought some distress paints recently.  So I combined it all together to do this post.  I will apologize in advance for the extensive use of the words “spritz” and “mist” but I did do a lot of spritzing and misting while preparing these pieces.  It is important to have a blending tool to use these inks in the following ways.  So sit back, look at the process and then have FUN!!!

Distress 1

Distress ink is formulated to give an aging effect on paper, fibers and photographs.  The inks are reactive with water and will travel on the paper.  The inks stay wet longer so you can blend with them.  The inks are not permanent, and you can go back and mist them and reactivate them or water spot them.  You can get a great look by letting it all dry, then spatter it with some pretty good sized drops of water and just let it sit.  The water splotches left by doing this make a pretty cool background effect.

The distress inks are a lot of fun to work with.  Here are some pictures of the work in first stages:

Distress 2

The top left picture was first misted with Fossilized Amber spray stain.   I then blotted some Carved Pumpkin stain on an acrylic block, misted it and laid the paper on it.  When that was dry, I put some Ground Espresso distress paint and Mermaid Lagoon distress paint on an acrylic block, and using a sponge, sponged the paint through a stencil.

Bottom left picture was first stamped with white acrylic paint.  The top stamp was full strength, and the bottom one was the ghost image of what was left on the stamp, making a nice contrast to the first stamp.  The acrylic paint acts as a resist and retains its color.  Then I used the blending tool and laid down a background of blended ink of worn lipstick and weathered wood.  I took Fossilized Amber distress stain and put it on an acrylic block, spritzed it with water and laid the piece down on it to take up some of the color.  I then let it dry.

The third piece was an accounting paper tag.  I crumpled it in my hand, and then while still crumpled, I took the walnut distress ink pad and ran it over the creases.  I spritzed it with water, let it run in the creases, and while still wet, placed it between two pieces of parchment paper and ironed it out.  I used Fossilized Amber spray stain and gave it a spritz.  Then took the blending tool and weathered wood ink pad and stenciled the dots.

The fourth piece has a background of blended ink using the blending tool.  I then blotted some Carved Pumpkin stain from the dabber bottle on an acrylic block, misted it and laid the paper on it in a couple of places.  I took a stencil and using the blending tool and the vintage photo ink pad, sponged the image.

Here are the pictures of my finished pieces.  I used black ink for the stamps used, except for the tag with the tulip.  There was other wording on the stamp I didn’t want to use, so I used the distress marker and colored the stamp.  The wording on the “Delight” piece was enhanced by the Distress marker.

Distress 3


You can stamp the ink pad on an acrylic block and mist it, then lay the paper down on it and sop up the ink.  You can use as many colors as you want as long as they don’t get mixed up and make a mud color.  You really need to be careful with the colors.  You could also do them individually and use a heat tool in between.  This method makes a really nice blended background.  You could then put a stencil on top of that and spritz it with water and careful lift it up, leaving the ghosted image of the stencil on the blended background.  You can also do the same thing with the distress stain in the dabber bottle – only you really don’t have to mist it – you can use it full strength.  You can also take the liquid stain and put it in a mini mister for better control.  These products are transparent in nature, so you can really do so much with them.  For instance, if you have a really bright scrapbook paper and want to tone it down a little, you can use the blending tool and ink pads and apply directly on the scrapbook paper.  It tones down the color, lets the new color shine through.

Pictures 4 and 5 are very interesting uses of the distress ink pads.  I had already done these background pages but since they use this product, I am sharing them.  First, take gesso and apply through a stencil and let it dry.  Then use the blending tool and the ink pads, and cover the background – these are done in two colors.  Once you have the background in, take another stencil and lay over the stop.  Spritz water through the stencil, let it sit a minute and then take a damp paper towel and blot up some of the ink background.  These make beautiful backgrounds.  Picture No. 5 is a finished piece using this process.

Distress 6

Another great way to use the distress ink pads – Blot your stamp on an Embossing ink pad, lightly blot it off and mist with water.  Then stamp it on distressed background and watch it wick, giving it a watercolor effect.  You can also do this with the stain.  I did a couple of pieces here – I didn’t use the embossing ink first – just stamped it on the ink pad and spritzed it lightly.  The image on the top is full strength and the one on the bottom is the ghost image.  I just used a white background, but the potential for some beautiful pieces is definitely in this process.  Another tip for this one, even after it is dry, you can use a water brush and move some of the ink around if you have a darker area or one that didn’t wick much.  I really like this process.

Distress 7

Last, but not least – a journal page.  First, using white acrylic paint, I did three images on the two pages and let them dry.  I then took the Carved Pumpkin spray and sprayed it through a stencil on the upper right corner.  Once that dried, I used the blending tool and the mowed lawn ink pad, and did a blended ink over most of the two pages.  You can see that in some instances, I used a heavier hand with the blending tool, making a darker shade of the ink.  I sprayed some more Carved Pumpkin on the left side.  Then I used the Mermaid Lagoon distress ink on the bird stamp and stamped the image.  I used the Walnut Stain ink paid and inked the large flower stamp – I did very very lightly spritz it with water before stamping to give it a slight watercolor effect.  The face was stamped with Ground Espresso paint on tissue paper and applied with Matte Medium.  I put a little gesso under the image to break up the green a little.  Also, you can see on the top left portion and the bottom right where I used the large water splotches to give a different effect.  I then took the vintage photo ink pad and the blending tool and distressed the edges of the pages.

I don’t show much use of the marker in these pages – I did mix it in with the Walnut Stain ink pad to make sure I was getting the large stamp covered, and used it on the Delight page when the stamp failed to give a proper image.  I like the fine tip on the Distress marker, but I find the brush end is a bit firm.  Again, these are water based markers, and I am more likely to use Tombow markers because I like the brush ends better.


All in all, I love the Distress products.  I had not used the stain or spray stain before.  They are quite easy to use.  There are so many ways to use these products and they are a lot of fun to work with.  It is not a messy product to use.  I will definitely use these more and more in the future.


Thanks Pat. That was an awesome demo of the various Distress products and the different ways they can be used. I really love how your journal pages turned out. I’ve had fun playing with the spray stains – but then I am a spray fanatic. Of course, we carry a good selection of Distress products of all kinds. They are designed to play well together. If you are looking for a particular Distress product and don’t see it on the website, just contact me as I very well may have it in stock, but not have it listed on the website. 


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, CO 80918


Faber-Castell product review

2 Mar

Guest Blog Post by Design Team Member Venisa Gallegos

Comments in italics by Deb


Blue Twig Assignment for February

This month, I got several items from Deb to try out including a set of a new kind of cardboard stencils from Faber Castell and some dimensional paint also from Faber Castell.  The set of stencils are simply called Mixed Media Stencils and contains 10 different stencils at a very reasonable price.  There are several sets of stencils and Deb gave me Set 102 to play with.  The metallic paint is called Texture Luxe and comes in Copper, Silver, Gold, and Pearl.  It’s basically an opaque paint designed to work with Stencils and is Permanent.  I’ll say right off the bat I tested it on fabric and washed it and it didn’t wash out. Yay!!! (good to know!)




Figure 1 – Set of Stencils and dimensional paint from Faber Castell


First I’ll talk about the Stencils.  I read that some people first coat the cardboard stencils with a glaze to help them last longer.  I actually did this but after using several stencils I decided it wasn’t worth it because the paint actually did a good job of coating the stencils.  They are also very strong and I had no problem using them over and over again.  (Side note:  Deb actually told me that I didn’t need to coat them with glaze but I had to see for myself.  Guess I could have saved myself some time if I listened to Deb in the first place.)  (Ha Ha – you should always listen to me. At least that is what I always tell my husband. )

What I loved about the set of stencils was that you can get 10 really cool stencils for a very decent price.   So if you didn’t have any stencils and wanted to try them out this is a great investment. (Plus once they are all coated up with paint and paste and stuff, and not really usable as stencils anymore, you can cut them up and use those pieces in your art!)

I spent most of my time using the Texture paint.  It has a very buttery texture and was easy to apply.  I tested it on paper and fabric as you’ll see in the next figure.  On paper it came out very crisp but my first attempt on fabric I had some leakage under the stencil.    You see that my next attempt came out better but I still had some leakage.

GetAttachment firstattemptflowers

Figure 2 – Texture Luxe on Paper and Fabric

On my second attempt I tried to stitch around the petals of the leaves to see if I could make them stand out.

As you can see in Figure 3 the stitching didn’t quite show up that well.  This is the piece I test and you can see that the paint stayed on perfectly.   I decided that the dimensional paint would be good on T-Shirts but that I’d have to make sure I had a stencil that really stayed down on the fabric.  (You may want to try to adhere the stencil down with a temporary spray adhesive like 505.) 




Figure 3 – Second attempt at Texture Luxe on Fabric with a close up of some added stitching 


You’ll see in Figure 4 that when I used a very tight stencil I got a very crisp image with no leakage on fabric so I know it’s possible to do.



Figure 4 – Texture Luxe with Stencil



Figure 5 – Texture Luxe on Hand Dyed Duck Cloth

Finally, I decided to stencil the flowers on some hand dyed duck cloth that I had previously dyes.  I really love how the copper color popped on the fabric as shown in Figure 5.  I’m thinking of leaving this just as it is and either adding it to a collage piece of maybe even sewing it onto a canvas bag.  I will definitely look into using some of the pearl colored metallic paint and add my own color to the paint.  I can see that with this technique I can make some fun pieces to add to other types of art projects.  I also can see getting some more stencil sets because they have such a great variety.


Thanks for another great product review Venisa. I always love seeing what you do with the products. I love the Faber-Castell products, and the stencil sets and Texture Luxe are great! 


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, CO 80918


Using Ice Resin

20 Feb

Guest Blog Post by Design Team member Terri Ayers

Comments in italics by Deb


Ice Resin®, according to their website,  “is a Jeweler’s Grade, naturally doming, self-leveling & healing, crystal clear resin. ICE Resin® is a 2-part epoxy resin: Part A is the Resin. It has a slightly blue tint. Part B is the hardener. It has a very slight yellow tint. Part A and Part B must be poured with a one-to-one ratio and mixed gently but thoroughly for ICE Resin® to dry and cure properly. You may wear your jewelry as soon as ICE Resin® is dry to the touch.”


I have been curious to try this product and was delighted to find it in my monthly mystery package to try out from Blue Twig Studio.


ICE Resin® was designed by a jeweler, so it’s primary use is for creating jewelry, but there are many other things that it can be used for. It can by used to paint over paper or tissue paper to give it gloss and strength.  Butterfly or angel wings could be fun to try this with.  There are special molds that the resin can be pored into and little trinkets, found objects and embellishments can be layered into the resin. (there are also new color tints for the resin, so you can add a layer of colored resin if you want)

resin 4

I first did a trial of the product in a few bottle caps.  The first one I glued a piece of scrapbook paper into the bottle cap and then poured in a bit of resin.  The paper was a bit thin and I think the gray inside the cap showed through.  The next cap I filled halfway with resin and poured in some Ranger Distress Glitter Dust (that sounds fun).  It sort of sank in and a smooth sparkly top was the result.

resin 2

I kept the main project simple.  I used an alcohol ink paper sample that I had made in one of Blue Twig’s classes and cut it with a 1” circle punch.  I glued it into a jewelry pendant bezel with matte medium and let it dry.  I took a risk and did not use any fixative over my ink project and it was ok.  The resin didn’t interfere with marring or blurring the image.  I mixed the two parts of the resin together and let it rest 5 minutes and dripped it into the bezel letting it dome over.  There were more bubbles initially and most of them disappeared, but a few remained.  Slower mixing or research to reduce air bubbles may yield perfect results.  I don’t mind the bubbles!

resin 3

I had a few words stamped on a piece of tissue paper and I painted the mixed leftover resin on both sides of the tissue.  It dried and I cut them out.  They could be fun with a mini-eyelet and used to add to jewelry or embellish artwork. (you can use the leftover resin on any painted papers – perfect for gelli prints – and create a nice heavy paper that you can then use with punches or a die cut and create a variety of shapes)


Final notes.  1.  Take care with ventilation, the product has some fumes and is a bit smelly.  2. Slowly mix Part A & B of the resin components to avoid excess air bubbles.  I had fun with this and already have a request for a purple alcohol ink and resin pendant.


Thanks for a great review Terri. I’ve only done a couple things with the Ice Resin, but I found it easy to work with. And now I am inspired to go work with it again. 


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio

5039 N Academy Blvd

Colorado Springs, CO 80918



Conte pencil review

29 Jan

Guest blog post by Design Team member Pat Mathes

Comments in italics by Deb


This month, Deb gave me the Conte a Paris pastel chalk pencils.  Happy, happy me!  I love working with pastel chalk pencils.


Any time you start working with colored pencils of any type, whether they be pastel chalk or wax-based, you should make a color chart of how the colors look on paper.  You can’t always go by the color of the pencil itself as it often is different when applied on paper.  Another thing to keep in mind is that the paper you are using will also have an effect on the way the color looks.  So it is always good to have a sample piece of the paper to see how the color works.  Here is a picture of my color chart with the Conte pencils, a set of General pastel pencils and a couple of others.
Picture 1


Pastel chalk pencils are wonderful tools of art to work with.  They blend easily, both with other colors and single color.  They can have very vibrant colors – I was surprised at the intensity of the color in the Conte pencils – or they can be muted and pastel.  The Conte colors I was given are very strong colors and I found that when I used them on black, I did not have to undercoat with white like with other brands or with wax-based colored pencils.  They feel like cream as you are layering them.  Once in a while I got a gritty feel to the point that felt like it was scratching, but used an emery board and lightly sanded it off.


As you are blending with the Conte pencils, you can mix two colors and using the lighter one, make the two blend together.  Or you can use two colors and then use white to blend them.  You can use white over a single color to blend it, and then use the color over it to highlight parts.  I learned to use the pastel pencils instead of graphite to shade zentangle drawings in some organic pieces.   This technique can make some beautiful pieces on tan and gray papers.  I teach this method in Experience the Blues, coming up in March.   (Pat teaches a number of classes at the shop)


The first project I undertook was a wonky house picture I have been wanting to create.  I had seen a couple of them done by other artists and they intrigued me.  I thought the chalks might work with it so started with a simple sketch of a street scene.  Once I had a light graphite sketch on paper, I started layering colors.  The first time around was just putting color on the page.  I then sprayed with Krylon workable fixative.  This is a re-workable spray that eliminates smudging and protects the work you have already done.  You always want to use the fixative in a very well-ventilated area.  During the winter, I walk into the garage to use it.  One that dried, I then started working on layers and blending, highlighting.  I will warn you working with chalk is challenging in one big way – it is easy to smear on your paper.  That being said, you will be blowing on your paper a lot.  I have large fingers so it isn’t easy for me to blend with my fingers – I use a blending tool like with pan pastels, or a cotton swab.  I have some cosmetic swabs that have a paddle end and a pointed end.  I also lay a paper under my hand as I work so that my hand doesn’t smear.  I do tend to hold the chalk pencils about half way back on the pencil so it doesn’t smear as badly.  The good thing is that you can use an eraser on chalk.  It will take most of it away, and the eraser can be used to highlight areas and bring the color of the paper through.  Once I had the colors the way I wanted, I sprayed again with the fixative and let it dry.  I then took a black Stabilo All pencil and added some outlines, and a water brush to make it messy looking.  I didn’t want straight lines.  I was using it as kind of a dimension tool.  It is difficult to use other pens on top of the chalks – you can do it in small areas, but it can clog the points.  Sometimes with using fixative, you can use pens but the fixative does also clog the nibs a bit. (unfortunately a lot of things clog up the tips of pens)
Picture 2


Next, Johanna Basford’’s coloring book, Secret Garden.  I picked a floral page and started coloring the page entirely with pastel chalk pencils.  What a relaxing, wonderful evening that was.  Again, you have to be very careful about smearing.  Definitely a paper under your hand.  I always work from the left side of the paper to the right (I am right-handed).  That helps eliminate some of the smearing. Once I had an initial layer of color, I applied fixative to preserve to that point.  I then started shading and highlighting with the pastels.  In this one I used the black pastel chalk to lightly outline some areas to give weighting and dimension.  For the final touch, I applied some gelly roll highlights to flower centers.


Secret Garden page


The last project I worked on black artagain paper.  I drew a butterfly with White Signa Uniball pen (another great product).  I then used the pastel chalk pencils to shade, color and highlight.  I even used some black pastel chalk to clean up a couple of areas and to see if it would stand out when I scanned the photo.  The pastels work well on Artagain paper.  The big thing I realized with the Conte pencils was that I didn’t have to do an undercolor of white to make the colors come through.  They are intense and vibrant enough to show up on the black.  Note: When I used General pastel pencils on black, they were much more muted and I put white under them and still they were muted.  The picture did not have the vibrancy of the Conte pencils.  So working on black, I will definitely use the Conte pencils in the future.  In the pictures below, the floral one is done using the General’s brand of pastel pencils, and the butterfly is with the Conte brand.


Generals chalk drawing



My final thoughts on the Conte a Paris pastel chalk pencils.  I really like them.  The only downfall I had with them was that gritty piece once in a while that I had to scrape clear.  But that was just a minor inconvenience. They go on easily and blend wonderfully.  The intensity of the colors made me very pleased.  I will be looking to purchase some additional colors of these.



Thanks Pat for a fabulous review of these pencils. I don’t think a lot of people have heard of them before. I haven’t played with them yet, but I certainly intend to now that I see such a glowing review.

I do have Conte pencils in the shop, as well as General’s chalk pencils and the Stabillo All pencils. All are great to use, each giving you different results. And with any chalk or pencil art, the workable fixative is a must.  I apologize that all these products are not on the website, however you can always call me and place an order. 🙂


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, CO 80918



Painter’s Pixies

28 Jan

Guest blog post by Design Team member Venisa Gallegos

Comments in italics by Deb


Blue Twig Assignment for January

This month, Deb gave me a package of Painter’s Thread Collection called Painter’s Pixie Embellishment Pack made by Tentakulum.  This is a great little package that contains all kinds of fun fiber to play with including, textile cards, Threads, Crocheted beads, silk rod and silk trim material. (Each Tentakulum packet is different, with different fibers or trims or ribbons or buttons, etc)

kit supplies

Figure 1 – Painter’s Pixie Embellishment Pack

What I love about products from Tentakulum are how all the fibers are hand dyed in wonderful colors that go perfectly together.  In this picture you’ll see that I already started pulling layers of silk off the Silk rod.  You should be able to pull off three or four layers from the rod.
Now, what kind of design was I going to create using the kit?  One criteria I gave myself was to somehow find a use for all the different embellishments in the kit.  With that in mind I decided to look through my collection of stencils for design ideas.  The silk from the silk rod reminded me of feathers.  Luckily I had a small feather stencil that I had bought from Blue Twig Studio (we do have LOTS of stencils).  I also thought that somewhere along the line I might have to needle felt the feathers to the fabric so I chose a section of felted wool as my backing.  This will allow me to stitch easily into the wool with whatever threads I’m using. (great recommendation)

First step was to transfer the design onto my background fabric.  I have discovered that the best way to transfer the stencil design onto whatever fabric I’m stitching on is to use the PanPastels Chalk pads (love the PanPastels).  I simply load up a cotton applicator with the chalk from the pad and rub it into the fabric.  Figure 2 below shows the images of two feathers that I transferred to the wool felt piece.

stencil template in chalk

Figure 2 – Stencil image transferred with chalk

Next, I used the cotton thread from the kit to stitch along the outline of the feathers so that if I lose some of the chalk while stitching I’ll still have the design to work with.  I used a simple back stitch for the outline.  Next, I pulled some of the silk from the rod and basted it down onto the wool felt with the cotton thread.  Once I covered the image, I took my piece over to my needle felting machine and felted down the silk.  You don’t have to have a needle felting machine to felt you can also use a hand needle felting tool to felt the silk down.

After the silk was transferred down I decided it needed some color so I took some of the silk trim and cut off some fuzzy threads.  I then felted these threads into my feathers.  Then, I took some of the cotton thread fiber and did a satin stitch around the top of the feather.  To create the vein of the feathers and to add some feathery details, I used the brown six stand silk floss using simple straight stitches.  Once again I felted down the thread to mesh everything together.  Finally, I decided to attach the crocheted balls to the feathers and the design was complete.  Unfortunately I didn’t find a use for the textile cards but I’m sure I’ll use that in some other creation.  Deb has all sorts of fun fiber products to play with to make simple but fun designs. (There is a 4-session class starting the end of Feb called Stitch Play to teach you lots of fun stitches and how to use different types of threads and fibers in your work)

painter's thread feathers


Figure 3 – Tentakulum feathers


Thanks Venisa for showing us a cute project to do with the Tentakulum packs.  I can’t wait to see it in person. It looks yummy.

Tentakulum has lots of different types of hand-dyed kits (inluding these Painter’s Pixies). They also have individual fibers, threads, trims, silk hankies, etc. All are hand-dyed with a Painter’s color palette (like Klimt, VanGogh, O’Keefe, Picasso, etc), thus the reason they are called Painter’s colors. All the products from a particular artist can all be blended together easily, but because they are hand-dyed with a variety of colors they don’t look all matchy-matchy.

There are a few Tentakulum products on the website, however it is best to call the shop if you are looking for them so I can find exactly what you are looking for. 


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, CO 80918


Stazon Studio Glaze review

12 Jan
Guest Blog Post by Design Team Member Terri Ayers
Comments in italics by Deb

I think this is the first time I’ve received my surprise pack of goodies from Blue Twig Studio that I didn’t add more colors to the collection! It is very hard to resist the temptation of adding more! Review items this week were: Stazon Studio Glaze in Blue Hawaii and Cactus Green, Stazon Cloudy Sky solvent ink pad, and an Artist’s Cellar stencil. (all the Stazon products come in a variety of colors and you know we have a gazillion different stencils to use)



The Stazon Studio Glaze is a thick glossy paint in a narrow-tipped tube that is created primarily to work on non-porous surfaces such as glass, ceramic, resin or metal but it also works on porous paper and modeling paste. There are techniques to use a layer of gold on glass and then apply color for a tumbled glass effect and also of using the black color as an outline and filling in with color similar to stained glass. I just focused on the colors I had on hand. I first used them on a ceramic tile applying with a brush. I also colored some glass beads. I used the glazes on a glass container painting stripes on another project. I did two layers of this and it was still fairly transparent. I alternated application methods using a brush and a blending sponge. I experimented with the glaze on various surfaces: paper, plastic buttons, glass beads, a ceramic bisque turtle and Tim Holtz resin roses. I used the glaze on a mixed media art piece by applying the glaze to modeling paste birds, this really made the birds pop as they had a glossier look than the acrylic paint. I also applied little dots all over the piece with a toothpick. I finished the art canvas with a few dabs of the Stazon ink over the stencil. The gray color is perfect for shading and adding a subtle hint of distress.

IMG_2992 IMG_2991 IMG_2990

More about the studio glaze… The paint is in a squeeze bottle and comes out easily to cover in paint stroke movements. It can be applied this way somewhat thickly and dries very glossy. It is not self-leveling and sometimes can come out of the tube in a quick blob! I preferred squeezing a small amount out onto my craft mat and applying with a brush (good to know). I found the best surfaces to reflect the vibrant colors of the glazes was either the white tile, the non-porous surface pieces or the modeling paste. It wipes up with water or a baby wipe as you work, but when it dries, it is permanent. Working on the ceramic tile, it was similar to working with alcohol inks, but it dries permanent with out needing a sealant, if you apply straight from the tube onto paper, it will also provide a nice effect.

These products would make a great addition to your art stash. I would like to add a white and black glaze to my collection. Hope you are able to try these out and have fun with these products.


Thanks Terri for another great review and samples. I enjoy seeing how the different products can be used. It makes it easier to decide if I would like the product or not for myself.

Products can be purchased at Blue Twig Studio.

Note that Terri is teaching a monthly mixed media technique class at Blue Twig Studio on the 1st Wed of the month. This is a great way to try out new products and techniques while creating something fun! The birds shown above are a sneak peak of a bit of the canvas she is doing in Feb. You can register at the shop or by visiting this link


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, CO 80918




Mini Gelli Plates Review

7 Jan

Guest Blog Post by Design Team member Pat Mathes

Comments in italics by Deb

This month I received my packet late due to weather and home issues, so I am a little late in getting this done. When I did receive my packet, it was a pack of the mini gelli plates – the rectangle, hexagon and oval – and a mini brayer. I am still so much in the learning state of the gelli plates. (there are several sizes and shapes of Gelli Arts® plates available) I have finally gotten more comfortable with the larger plates, but now the minis? Well, they are new enough there really wasn’t a lot out there on the internet yet showing uses for them so I started working with mine to see how I could use them.

gelli oval minis

With the mini gelli plates, you actually mount them on a clear acrylic block or a cd cover or sturdy plastic of some kind. They are small and you actually use them in a stamping manner rather than laying flat. So the backing is important. (if you are careful you can just pick them up with your hands to stamp with them)

The first thing I learned is that you don’t use very much paint – just a couple of drops. You don’t want a thick layer because it will run with the stencils more on the smaller plates. The second thing I learned is that it was easier with the mini gelli plates to put the stencil on the actual paper and then use the gelli plate on top of it. I would then use the ghost print on another place or another page.

I just kept playing around with them – I was using heart stencils and red, pink and white paint since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I really liked the effect I was getting on the black paper. The paper in the middle below was one that I was using just with random stamping with the gelli plate and stencils. I didn’t actually do any projects with these – they would be so easy for you to personalize, maybe with a picture of a loved one, in an art journal page, or a scrapbook page. Just remember to always use all the paint on the gelli plate and the brayer on additional sheets of paper. I do that and then later use that paper as a collage piece for something else.

by Pat Mathes

by Pat Mathes


This is something that will take a lot more playing around with – I can see the middle piece used on a greeting card with maybe just the word LOVE on it. I actually took some cutouts from another gelli printing and glued some hearts on as a collage – maybe pictures of your loved one mounted as collages on them. I think one of the main things is that you can actually work on these in a much quicker time than the larger gelli plates and with not as much room needed. They are still kind of messy, but I didn’t find them as messy as the larger plates. I did read that someone used the rectangle plates and made a planner journal with them – hmmm.

Last, but not least, I took the rectangle plate and one of my art journals and used the rectangle plate to put some simplistic houses , one of the hexagon pieces that I had placed earlier ended up being the sun. This is a very simplistic page, something like a child might do, but the message is sincere. Happy New Year to one and all and MAY YOUR HOME BE FILLED WITH LOVE, HAPPINESS AND PROSPERITY IN THE NEW YEAR.

by Pat Mathes

by Pat Mathes



Thanks for a great review of these Gelli Arts minis. I love using my Gelli plates, and I do have several sizes and shapes to play with – although my favorite is still the 8×10 size. There are so many options with the prints you can make – from collage to art journaling to cardmaking to scrapbooking to mixed media to your own personal fabric (yes you can print on fabric too). So much fun and so many options. 


Let Your Inner Artist out to Play

Blue Twig Studio – 5039 N Academy Blvd – Colorado Springs, CO 80918




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