Sunday, 31 August 2014

experimenting with brushos

Warning, wordy & photo intensive post coming up, going to be written over a week or so so please forgive any jumping about and big spaces where the photos haven't stayed in alignment with text.

Back on our "girls wot behaves disgracefully in craft shops tour of Kent & Sussex 2014"  I treated myself Ade to a full set of Brusho paints at Oysterstamps.  For those that have never heard of them they're tiny little pots of crystalised paint pigment, each crystal is smaller than a grain of salt and often looks more like a speck of dust than a crystal.  The pots are extremely well priced (about £1.40 each) and the crystals are absolutely colour intensive, a teeny tiny amount goes a huge long way.  I cut tiny circles of card (so I could see the colours) and stuck them on the lids before piercing a hole to sprinkle them from.  Even with a tiny hole I can still be a bit heavy handed so am seriously glad Tracey told me to do this instead of opening the lid.

The crystals can be mixed with water in a dish to create a normal water colour paint (boring I hear everyone say) or they can be used dry..  when sprinkled on wet card the crystals suddenly release their colour which spreads out leaving minature blooms. Or you can sprinkle on wet or dry card and mist with water, not only will the colour release but this way you'll get a tiny tail appear from the crystal and depending on how much moisture you've sprayed you can play around with drips and run lines.  Still sounding a bit boring?  Well here's the weird thing.. when mixed with  water they're exactly the colour it says on the tub but when used as a crystal the secondary colours (purples, oranges, greens) split into the different component colours.  There's no way of knowing or even replicating how the crystals fall on to the card so the result will always be a surprise, even if you have got a good idea how it's going to come out.  Must add in, there is a thickening gel that you can use with the paints but I didn't bother getting any and haven't a clue what or why it's used.  I'll ask Martine & Tracey when I see them at the Sincerely Yours show at Taunton in 2 weeks lol.  Just like any other watercolour paints the effects and results will vary depending on the surface you are adding them to, watercolour paper will give a softer fuller blend than a highly pressed smooth cardstock.  For my experiments I've gone with a smooth highly pressed (and relatively cheap) white stamping card from Annamarie.  This isn't a great card for using with cricuts and trimmers because it blunts the blades very quickly and it's too thin for boxes but I thought I'd picked up of their old thick 300gsm white card and I have some (3 full reams, sob) that I wont really use for much other than inking on.

Very quick swatch to show what I mean with 3 secondary colours, purple which is made with red & blue, green which is made with yellow and blue, and orange which is made with yellow and red.  You might want to click to enlarge the pic as it shows better detail.

First column is the pure colour made by sprinkling on to dry card and using a damp brush to activate the crystals.  Mixed fully the crystals become one colour, mixed loosely you'll get striations of the component colours.

Column 2 was made by running a damp or wet brush over the card before sprinkling over the crystals.  The wetter the card the more the colour will spread, mix and run.

Column 3 was made by sprinkling the crystals on to dry card and misting with a water spray.  Again the more you spray the more the colour will spread.  You can get slightly different effects by using sprays further or closer to the card as well as varying which spray bottles you use, a mister with a more powerful force will push the colour tails further whereas a soft mist will give a gentle colour bloom.

One of the first successful experiments I did (totally by accident and btw don't bother experimenting with glycerine or flow improver with brushos) was mixing a couple of grains of turquoise with cheap white acrylic paint because I wanted a very pale blue paint to go over a copper/orange base I was intending to crackle and couldn't be arsed to hunt amongst all my paints for the colour I wanted.  When I say these paints are strong in pigment, just a couple of grains tinted over half a bottle of docrafts white acrylic!

Base of a malma mirror was painted with metallic copper & matt orange acrylic, covered with watered down pva glue and when I couldn't wait any longer for the pva to dry it was coated in a thick coat of the turquoise tinted white acrylic. (Brush strokes of glue & top coat must go in the same direction, which will determine the direction of the crackle, and the wetter the glue when you topcoat the larger the crackles.)

One of the first things I noticed as the top coat was drying and the crackles started to appear was that the brusho & acrylic seemed to "split" but not split in a curdled yucky way but the brusho seemed to sink slightly from the surface as if attracted by the pva and appears as shadows around the paler topcoat as well as created their own mini crackles.  I've put a close up pic here but it doesnt show how cool an effect it is in real life.  Must admit the effect was so unexpected I rang Tracey to let her know and to pass the deets on to her DT.  I did also say this wasn't a Martine type project because Martine doesn't like getting mucky hands, she'll seriously cry at the thought of the next 2 experiments ;o)

NB, to check that the splitting wasn't a one off random effect or that the pigment wasn't just unsuitable to be used as a tinting medium I used some of the left over paint on a small tag of card (I often make these anyway to create swatches), I painted half directly to the card and half over damp pva and the colour only split again over the pva.  It didn't have quite as vibrant a shadow effect as it did on the mirror but I am wondering if it's because I'd use splodges of metallic paint as a base coat on the mirror but a standard matt acrylic on the tag.  If I get time I'll add in another experiment with it but don't be surprised if I don't get round to it on this post as there's a lot I want to cover.   

Old brass stencil enlarged 4 times, and cut from card to make the lighthouse using distress inks.  Chocolate Baroque stamps (from 2 mermaid sets). Either stamped with blue archival ink direct to card or distress inks & cut from card.  Small glass vial that's waiting to be half filled with sand, a few pearls, some hessian and gold card.  I photoed this quite late in the afternoon out in the garden, the sun was quite low and has left a whooping shadow of the small glass vial.

My next experiment was to see if you could use brushos as a marbling medium on top of shaving foam.  Lots of youtube vids about the shaving foam technique using all sorts of inks & paints if you want to go have a watch.  In essence though you cover a plate/dish/tray with el cheapo shaving foam, roughly smooth the surface, add a few drops of paint/ink over the top, swirl the colour around using a kebab stick/toothpick, lay the card over the top, press down lightly then lift up and using a flat edge (old credit card/edge of ruler/pastry scraper etc) you drag off the foam to reveal a marbled pattern.  Although shaving foam is a relatively new invention marbling inks is a very, very old technique.

For my experiment I added about an inch of foam to the inside of an a5 plastic container, leveled the surface slightly, and sprinkled 3 colours of brusho.  I wasnt sure what to expect but the grains bloomed so slightly there was next to nothing to see in the way of colour so I gave the surface a good misting of water before swirling the colours around with the end of a crochet hook (I'd used all the kebab sticks at the last bbq) before laying the card on top.  When I pulled the card off rather than just scraping the foam off I sandwiched another piece of card on top the foam and lightly squidged the 2 pieces together until the foam was oozing out the sides, before splitting then scraping the excess off of both.  I did this same card in, squidge with another about 6 or 7 times until there was next to no colour left and I had next to no room to leave any more pieces of card drying.

A few things I found:

Don't go shaking the brushos as though it's a Friday night at the local chippie and the salt cellar is damp.  Little goes an awful long way with these paints.

Each impression gets paler and paler and the coverage less.

Unlike using liquid inks the foam doesn't  get too saturated with colour so the result is never muddy, even if you've been too lazy to change the old foam out when you want to use new colours.

Here are a few scans of one of the first, 3rd and 5th dip in the mix.  Turquoise, gamboge & one of the reds.

Just a couple of cards made using the marbled pieces when dry.  They're not the most imaginitive cards I've ever made.  Technically I might be ok playing with ink but creatively I can't just start with a patterned piece of paper and work from their.  Normally I start with the stamp, then dies & layout before I chose/make my paper to fit the theme.

This one uses woodware teasel stamps, docrafts sentiment stamp, seambinding ribbon and a kaisercraft sparkler. Just like the next card facebook & blogger want to keep turning it on it's side.  Not sure why as both were photoed the right way up and no amount of messing with rotation in psp or copying and pasting to a new image is working.

This one had the foam (a bit that had been more or less unused because it was close to the edge of the dish) dragged across from one edge using a ruler rather than being submerged. Because some of the crystals hadn't been swirled in it left quite pleasing intense effects irl.  Stamp is a heartfelt creations one, stamped onto the marbled card with black archival as well as paper pieced on red stardream using versamark & judikins black embossing powder.  Spellbinders corner and hey ho one finished card even if blogger keeps  rotatating it.

Tims runny distress paint drag technique.

Knowing the brushos worked quite nicely with acrylic paints and they'd marbled well I thought I wonder what they'd do if they were sprinkled over distress paints, misted and the card dragged through.  Some people might be wondering why I bothered when I could just marble but water colour paints are always transparent and when used on coloured card they either distort the colour or lose it all together if the card is dark enough.  A marbley/swirled/messed about effect can be quite effective used on dark card and using a light acrylic paint will allow the brusho colours to appear.

Couple of things to note, 

1, once they've been dragged through a time or 2 the distress paints become muddy so don't go putting loads of paint on the mat thinking you'll be able to get dozens of pieces from it.  Little is best.

2, the pigment in brushos is so intense they will totally overpower and dominate the distress paints if you arent careful.  Treat the brushos as the most fiery chilli powder imaginable and only sprinkle the teeniest amount you can.  Literally a couple of grains of each colour will go a long way.

3, if you think marbling is an unknown effect, this is impossible to even guess at the result you'll get.

4, don't ever throw out the muddy or not so good results, they might not work as a backing design but they're great to stamp flowers/raindrops on and they're fab for when you're diecutting and a flat single colour wont work.

5, I never did get on well with the technique even just using 2 distress paints so don't judge the results by Tims standard.  If you like using this technique try the brushos with it and you'll probably get a far better result than I did.

Here are a few of the pieces I made using the technique, most were too muddy or vibrant to bother showing, that was before I realised they muddied or that I needed a lighter touch.  I used tumbled  glass & spun sugar distress paint as the base.

By the time I got to this and the next one (which was actually made before this one) I'd worked out less is best with brushos on this technique lol  The crafters workshop stencil, peacock feathers distress ink.  Dyan Reavely sentiment, DesignsbyRyn raindrops.  The sentiment and raindrops were stamped on to another pale dragged through piece of card before being cut out.  I could have sworn I had a smallish snowdrop stamp which I'd intended using in the bottom right corner but turns out it's bluebells and wont work with the words.  Once I get hold of one I'll finish the tag and mount it properly on some dark card.

This is the first tag I went to make with previous tags design in mind.  It's a total car crash of a dogs dinner and a good lesson in how to much up a good bit of background then compound things by making it worse and worse.

Originally I'd used grunge paste through the stencil and decided it looked wrong and needed colour.  So I started to add cosmic shimmer gilding wax.. big mistake, I managed to place the stencil slightly off position and didn't get a very good coverage.  Next up I went over with peacock feathers DI and just couldn't get the ink to cover all of the paste.  So I went from bad, to worse to omg what a bloody mess by trying to cover the mistakes with sparkle medium through the stencil.  With the benefit of hindsight I'd have either done the texture paste before dragging the tag through paint, or, would have tinted the medium/used coloured medium.  Seriously gutted because this was my favourite of the dragged pieces and I haven't been able to recreate it.  Ordinarily I wouldn't dream of posting huge booboos like this but oddly just yesterday a friend applied texture paste to a canvas before deciding it needed colouring... if I'd have posted the booboo before she might not have ended up with a similar quandry.. to colour and risk ruin or leave well alone.

That's it for this post, there will be another one but not sure yet what experiments I'm going to do yet, or what time I'll have over the next couple of weeks.


Julie Selby said...

Looks fab Sue, even the mistake tag looks good to me! Can you bring on playday so I can see the effects up close & personal? Damn it, something else on my want list!

Sarah said...

Wow they look really cool and messy x

Lisca Meijer said...

Thank you for showing me Brushos. I hadn't heard of them. The result looks really cool.

Daria said...

Thank you for sharing your experiments and tips.

Daria said...

Thank you for sharing your experiments and tips for using Brushos.