‘Embossing’ Using The ‘Gilding Method’

There are different ways to add the sparkle to your artwork. One of them is ‘Gilding’. It creates a nice embossed sparkling effect. It could be a simple outline or dots or stars or more in that shiny effect. Embossing with the gilding method is best suited for greeting cards as well as art and craft projects in school. In this post, I am going to share some tips to get this process right!

Materials Used
Materials used – Gilding Glue & Gilding Flakes

What is the material required? Gilding Glue and Foil Sheets are the main materials. Since I had Gilding Flakes at home, I used them. Gilding Foil Sheets are like cheese slices while Flakes are like crumbs or grated cheese. Hehe..I didn’t know how else to explain it without showing the product. The flakes give a crackled finish while a foil sheet gives a very smooth finish. Other than that we need a brush to apply the glue and dust off excess. Last but not least tissue paper or cloth. Gilding method is a highlight or add on to your existing artwork.

Next, let’s discuss the process. The process is simple. We apply the gilding glue using a brush. It becomes transparent as it dries. It is tacky or sticky for a few hours once it dries. Carefully transfer or lay the sheet on top of the artwork. The foil will automatically stick to this sticky base. Areas in excess where the glue was not applied but the foil fell can be dusted off later.

Gilding gives that metallic embossed look. Unlike ‘Embossing’ which requires a heat gun ‘Gilding’ is a natural drying technique. We use embossing glue and stick fine glitter powder in embossing method. Then we use a heat gun to fix the powder. The powder melts with the heat and sticks to the surface, giving the embossing effect. The look and finish may be similar for both methods. Best to choose the one you like. Depends on the purpose, material and your use.

Five tips for getting the gilding method right :-

  1. Apply a sufficient amount of glue neatly like a thick outline. Points where the glue was less, will not get sticky enough to stick the foil. This will result in breaks in the line or flow.
  2. The glue remains tacky for a good number of hours to work with. No need to hurry. Take your time.
  3. Open the flakes like a sheet or use sheets for a neater look. Rolled or crumbled flakes give a lumpy finish.
  4. Keep a paper or extra tissue below your artwork to collect the excess dusted off. It can be put back into the box for use next time.
  5. Switch off the fan while working on it. The dust flies off very easily. Even if you breathe, the foil or flakes fly off. They are so light in weight.
Finished Artwork
Artwork using Gilding Glue and Flakes from JAGS store

I tried it on a small postcard first to understand how to use the material. You could do that too. For the background, I drew flowers using watercolour pencils. I am aware that we do get a home-use heat press that works on this principle and gives a more professional finish. The print is like glue, we then insert the foil with the paper in the heat press which sticks the foil to it. I had that machine earlier as a kid. The finishing that I could manage with the heat press was similar to the one that I managed here when I did the process by hand.

Hence if your use is sparing, you need not invest in the heat press or the heat gun. The gilding method will work wonders. For lettering or calligraphy artists, ‘Gilding’ could add that zing to your next artwork. Let me know your views if you have tried this technique. Have an arty week ahead!

Tools and Techniques To Make Professional Greeting Cards

I find it very exciting and interesting to make and give handmade greetings with personalised messages. I think I have to tell you, all the cards that I have received till date, I have kept them very neatly stored in my drawer. They are all special and a beautiful memory. In fact whenever I conduct workshops, it is that special thank you card that is worth a billion to me. Is it just me?

Now a days most of the people use digital ways to send messages. Very few people call to wish or invite. I know! The personal touch has changed to digital. That is why, if even one person puts in the effort to send a handmade card, it makes the receiver feel loved. The time, effort and the thought is what counts. Paying or downloading and sending is what anyone can do. Isn’t it?

Making a greeting card all by yourself may seem difficult for some. No one wants to be judged or mocked for their artistic skills. Besides not everyone can be a master at it. I understand. But what if I were to tell you that even with minimal artistic skills and creativity one can make beautiful professional looking greeting cards.

Holiday Season Coming Up! PC : WordPress Library

Yes! In this post, we will be discussing a few tools and techniques for making professional looking greeting cards with ease. There are so many of them, so I have clubbed them as per the method of making. The materials are expensive and a mistake in selection means it was a waste or is just lying around. It is a costly affair. This makes it more important to know about them. I am going to try and explain the tools and the methods together, so that we know what all we will be adding to our shopping lists.

1. Stamps and Inks – Stamps with a variety of designs are available. Every few months all shops stock new designs. I buy them based on the theme like – Birthdays or Christmas. We get everything from alphabets to numbers to florals to the popular movies and more. I buy stamps in off season or bulk for discounts. They stay well for years and is usually a box collection we can share among creative friends too.


Along with stamps we need a stamping block or a stamping pad. What is that used for? The stamps are silicon and not firm. They have a glue side which helps attach them to the block, dip it in ink and press it on paper for an even finish. A neat finish is very important when selecting quality. Once complete we clean the stamp with a cleaner or dry cloth and put it back in the pack. The same block can now be used along with another stamp. A stamping pad works to stamp multiple ones quickly and neatly. It is a great tool if you make multiple greeting cards.

Stamping Block

Next we select ink pads or pigments for the stamp. A good choice for selecting from the colour options is available. My pick – A black archival ink stamp pad is a must have. The ink is waterproof and instant drying. We can colour the stamped design with markers. We need not worry about any smudges. Other than that a few more standard colours can be selected according to the theme. We also get oxidised inks. They give a different finish and their colour shades are also different. The inks give a kind of the rustic finish rather than the bright regular shades.

Stamping Tools

For beginners, basic tools are great. Once you get a hang of it and use them more often, I am sure you will pick more. There are innumerable creative ways of using stamps. We can use them for journals and other tags too! Most stamp sellers share ideas for using stamps and their latest collection on social media. I am always amazed to see how much creativity one can have. Do check them for inspirations.

2. Embossing – The process of embossing is very simple. The material quality matters. Earlier embossing techniques and materials were not that great and they looked very messy, more like a beginner’ school project. We have now started getting good quality embossing glue and embossing powders. We apply glue using the stencil and then dust it with the embossing powder. The glue is either dabbed onto the surface or applied with a brush. The excess powder falls off once it dries. It is the same method of sticking glitter powders. The difference is in setting embossing powders. An embossing heat gun is used to set the powder. The powder melts due to the heat and binds to the paper.


Different grain sizes and colours are available. They all give a different texture or finish. I select embossing powders in fine grains so that they melt and set evenly.

3. Stencils – As the name suggests these are cut outs of various designs on plastic or paper. They are either one use or multiple use stencils. We also get stencils with a sticky backside to stick them on the surface we are working on. This helps secure the stencil in place. We can do the same thing with tape. Stencils are helpful in tracing artwork and can be used for embossing and painting with most materials. It makes a great assistant for the creative folks.

Leaves Stencil

4. Pigments – The name means colour which is present in Inks and paints. We get a concentrated version in a box just like the stamp pad. Pigments are powdery and the composition is different from inks. I find them similar to compressed powder in makeup. They are very useful in applying background colour to the card paper.

Using Pigments

We need a sponge with or without holders to apply and blend it. They are available as single solid colours or as multiple shades in the same box for creating shading. They are very easy to use and create a nice perfect finish if applied correctly. I picked up boxes with basic shades that go on almost all designs. They can be used with stamps and stencils to create different effects. In fact I liked it so much that I bought the other colours too!

5. Punch – This is the cutting part. Specialised paper cutting knives are available. However if cutting is not exactly your main skill it is best to use a punch machine. Small individual punch machines with small designs like flowers, leaves and more are available. This punch is just like a regular punch machine, just that this one punches fancy shapes instead of the regular circles.

Shapes Cut using the Punch Machine will be equal – PC WordPress Library

Further we get a small dye cutting machine that has metal stencils to cut multiple shapes from paper at the same time. And last but not the least we also get a larger complex machine that cuts various shapes from paper based on computerised designs that we provide. The prices are also likewise.

Specialised Knife
Changeable Blades

The small punch machines are easy to carry and work well for many basic crafts. Professionals might want to invest in the other cutting tools. I prefer the specialised cutting knives because that is my skill. There are many cutting blades that come along with it that are for precision cutting.

A few other helpful tools and materials are – 1) double sided tape and 2) washi tape for graphics or protecting a surface or marking (my detailed post on using Washi Tape is there on the blog page) 3) folding, rolling and shaping tools to make paper crafts. An interesting idea is 3D cards and Shaker Cards. Teachers can ask their students to make shaker cards with all the stars they collected during the month.

I just saw the meme that reads ‘buying crafting materials is a different hobby’. Hehe! That is true. We all stock materials we may not use but we can always try to stock only what we use. Including my previous posts on paper crafts I have now covered all the methods of making creative handmade greeting cards. If you have made a creative paper craft, do share them. I would be very happy to see them. Have a crafty week ahead!

Three creative ideas with Coffee – Art Craft

Hmm.. the aroma of a freshly brewed coffee can be so refreshing, isn’t it? Sniffing coffee beans can almost reset your sense of smell. When we sample different perfumes and a particular strong smell gets to our head, it lingers. How to clear it? Take a few coffee beans in a cup and smell them. After sometime smell another perfume.

We can creatively use coffee for many things other than just sipping a nice cup of coffee. You may have come across or tried these. In this post I am sharing three artistic creative ideas of arts and crafts with coffee. I have tried my hand at all the three and they can be wonderful creative outlets for anyone, especially coffee lovers. It is the skill and material that make this art unique.

Latte Art (Photo Courtesy WordPress Photo Library)

The first one is using coffee beans – I had some coffee beans left in the pack. They were way past their expiry date on the packet. I wasn’t sure if these were safe for consumption. So I decided to do some art craft with them. The method is selecting a drawing of your choice and creating a design by pasting these beans on the paper. It’s like ‘button craft’. Draw the design and paste the coffee beans. Jute pieces or jute strings make a good combination with it.

Alternatively they can be decoratively filled in bottles or jars to make showpieces at kitchens, coffee shops and restaurants. Choose a simple design with distinct lines. The artwork can be framed in a box frame and kept as wall art. However, Coffee beans are natural and perishable. They can get infested in future and the artwork may get spoilt. This thought made me go a step further.

Designs with Coffee Beans (Photo Courtesy – WordPress Photo Library)

I made coasters with coffee beans and resin. We can use the coffee beans with resin to make decorative clocks, trays, coasters, jar lids and everything else that we make with resin otherwise. This way, they have a protective covering and they are air tight. Do check my posts on resin art for more ideas. It is the same process. We use coffee beans just like any other embellishments or materials. We can combine it with resin colours and other materials too.

Second one is Coffee Painting. Yes! We can paint with coffee just like we paint with any other paint. The painting technique is very similar to watercolour painting but in monochrome. ‘Sepia tones’ is the correct term used for artworks in shades of brown. We often use this palette to show something as ancient or old or aged.

I used to make ancient historic looking scrolls using this method. To make it, we take a sheet of paper and paint with coffee paint. The light yellow brown will make the paper look aged. Darker paint on the edges and lighter in the centre. Cover the whole page. Blocks or patches of dark light shades look natural. We need a thick paper for this, more than 200gsm or at least 200gsm watercolour paper. Give the edges a slight burn with candle. Write the scroll in calligraphy to make it look authentic. It could be a treasure map too!

Coffee Paint and Sepia tones (Photo Courtesy WordPress Photo Library)

If you have artistic skills, we can actually paint with coffee. Take two bowls. In the first one add one spoon coffee powder and two spoons water. In the second bowl for a darker thick concentrate take one spoon coffee powder and one spoon water. Mix it. The painting and blending art style is like painting with watercolour. Other than that painting with coffee is a very different experience. To create the coffee paint we need instant coffee powder. I used Nescafé powder as it blends well in water. No lumps or chunks.

Actual Picture of the materials I used

Creating an actual artwork using coffee requires prior experience and skills in painting. That is why I suggested the scroll design which is very easy and will always look good. I recently bought some art material from ‘Creative Hand Art Materials’. They sent me a small sample pack for watercolour paper. The paper is 300GSM. I painted the Bird Artwork on it. The scenery is painted in my regular Art journal.

My artworks – Coffee Painting. First I painted the scenery then the Bird.

Third and last is ‘Latte Art’. It is a very skilled art but many coffee shops let you try it. The coffee is first poured in a particular manner and then designs are created on the surface. Originally, ‘Pouring’ was the only technique to create designs. Designs were created by pouring the cream in a particular way. Now there are more techniques in Latte Art. ‘The Leaf’ is the first basic design in Latte Art.

Latte Art Leaf Design (Photo Courtesy WordPress Photo Library)

‘Latte’ is coffee with cream or milk and ‘Art’ because we are creating designs, hence ‘Latte Art’. The easiest technique is to use a stencil. We place the stencil on top of the coffee cup and dust it with coffee powder through a strainer.

Stencil + Coffee Powder Design (Photo Courtesy WordPress Photo Library)

Further after the coffee is poured we use toothpicks or the tool to create enhanced artworks. The drop is a dot, we drag the point in a single direction to create the designs. We can dip the point in cream or coffee concentrate to add little details.

Creating using Toothpick or Tool (Photo Courtesy WordPress Photo Library)

This swan is a combination of the pouring method and using the tool. After the leaf is poured, the art is then enhanced using the tool. Sometimes, we directly use the tool to paint with cream. They also add food colour to make colourful artworks.

Swan – Latte Art (Photo Courtesy – WordPress Photo Library)

The most complex of these I feel, is the 3D Latte Art. Here, they create 3D structures on the coffee surface with cream and coffee concentrate or chocolate sauce. 3D Latte Art is very Popular in Japan. It was started by a Japanese Artist. Cute things are always liked in Japan. Sharing a few pictures from the internet below. Do browse and look up for more. I don’t hold any rights in them, it is just to show the readers what I am talking about.

Did you know, we get printing machines that print designs on coffee? A cream gun that makes the white cream for art. There is a lot to explore if you are a coffee lover, isn’t it. Although the cream flattens as time passes, I am sure you will agree that these creations make the coffee more alluring and tempting. They are very fascinating to watch as well as try.

The main ingredient is the cream. Creating that at home is difficult. I have tried it with the beater at home but it doesn’t give the same effect. We need the coffee machine or it’s tools. Best to let the Barista pour it for us and then try the designs along with them. That way they prepare the base for us, making it easy.

After that admire your creation, click as many pictures and then drink the coffee. As simple as that! It is a fun and relaxing activity to do on a weekend. Try it for your next date at a coffee shop, if you want to make it more interesting or if you are dating an artist. Hehe.. of course, you can try it otherwise too!

Isn’t it amazing how we can use something so regular from our daily kitchen to make such beautiful artworks. Have an Arty week!

Scan, Copy, Download, Print – How to get good prints for your Projects

Did a hand drawn artwork and now want to make copies OR drew it digitally and now want to print it? Photographs, Graphics, Vector Art, Backgrounds, Designs, Drawings and Paintings – All of us might have tried to print these at some point of time or another. It could be for a School Project, a University Submission or a Personal Art Craft Project or for Commercial use.

I see many people struggle to get good prints of their work. What went wrong? They don’t know. I often get to hear “I gave the print command and the printing device printed it.” “I took it to a professional printer and he said the art work is not done correctly. The printing service owner said the device (printer) has done it correctly.”

It’s our loss as the money is wasted and we are not happy with the output. Today’s post is about ‘Getting a good print out’. I am going try and translate the language of a printer. In other words explain it in simple terms that everyone can understand.

Hand drawn art vs art prints
Here’s my hand drawn ink art and the scanned print both next to each other

Initially I sold ‘Digital Downloads’ at my Etsy Shop. It was one of my best selling products. One can ‘buy >> download >> print >> use.’ I also included a file with printing instructions and ideas for assistance. So the buyer can confidently print the art work they bought at home on a home printer or with a professional printing service of their choice.

Yes! Now a days most of the projects are only online submission and we don’t print files. I am aware of that. However there are times we want them printed. For example – A photo book or a journal or diary. A card for celebration or the final university project.

There are some basic terms one must know to be able to give the device the right commands for printing. After all it is a computer, it will do as commanded. Here’s a list of jargons we come across for this task. These are not definitions but rather explanations in a simplified form. The regular definitions are already up there on the internet.

Pixel – Think of a paper made up of small particles – numerous dots. This is a Pixel. It is square in shape. A computer screen is made up of numerous pixels. Just as we measure paper in a unit such as cms or inches, we measure a computer screen in pixels. Right click , go to ‘properties’ of the computer file to know the measurements of the image. It will be shown as length x breadth.

Some common standard monitor screen sizes

  • 1366 x 768 pixels High Definition (HD)
  • 1600 x 900 pixels High Definition Plus (HD+)
  • 1920 x 1080 pixels Full High Definition (FHD)
  • 3840 x 2160 pixels 4K or Ultra High Definition (UHD)

Image Size – The length and breath of the image, just like the length and breadth of the canvas or paper. For ease we can convert this from pixels to cms and vice versa with help of converters online. Helps know the best size it will print in. The size an art work is created in is always the maximum size it will print best.

An example of the image size shown in properties

Pixelate – Fine dots give a good image. The size of the pixel is called the pixel size. When we drag the file way larger than the size it was created in, each pixel size also gets amplified and we can see the distinct square blocks making up the image. The image is said to be pixelated. Always print the file only to a maximum of the size that it was created in, so that it doesn’t pixelate.

DPI – This is the resolution of the image. Consider the detailing done while copying or scanning the file. A higher resolution means more detailing and a larger file size. This value must be set while scanning the image or art work. Anything below 150dpi is blurred while above 300dpi may be excess. Images at 300dpi print well. It is a standard. For images that are used online on websites or blogs we generally keep the resolution as 150-200dpi. DPI stands for dots per inch.

File Size – Consider this as the weight of the package. The transport service in this case is electronic but allows a limited weight only. The weight is measured in kb, Mb, Gb (Kilo bytes, Mega bytes, Giga bytes). This information can be checked in the properties tab when we right click on the file. Higher the resolution, higher the file size. Means the package weight is high. A large size file takes longer to upload. We can lower the size of a file by compressing it. However it also compromises on the quality.

Compressing a file – Making the file size smaller. This could be by reducing the image size in terms of the length width as well as the file size in terms of the bytes. In some portals or software’s it can be a hidden command. In many email services, forms collecting data and social media platforms a default setting is made. The computer is asked to compresses the file to upload/ download faster. If we want to send across a high resolution file, we must make sure we turn off this setting and manually set it.

These are technical words that are used to describe or check if the file is suitable for printing. One important point we need to understand is that there will always be a minor difference in the colour on the screen and in print. I have explained ‘why’ this happens in my post about the Colour Wheel. For those of you who missed it – It happens because of the difference in the colours of light and the colours of pigment. A computer screen uses RGB (Red Green Blue) format while the Printing devices are based on the CMYK format (Cyan Magenta Yellow Black).

As professionals, designers must order prints with the exact colour shade and can specify the number assigned to the colour or shade. There is a standardised numbering system followed world over. This way the printer just cannot go wrong. It prints the exact colour selected.

Now there are some basic printer settings which all printers have. A Printer (device) comes with a set of default settings but we can always modify them if desired. Let’s understand these.

Black Text only
Black and White Print Setting
Photo Prints
Colour Printed Images – Photographs with White Border (Margin)
  • Black and White – It will print only the extreme colours Black or White. No shades of grey. This setting is used to print all text files to save the toner and ink.
  • Grayscale – The page will be printed in shades of black and white. The shades in between will be printed as tones of grey. Even a coloured image can be printed as black and white or grayscale. The output will differ.
  • Colour – This is the setting we want to select for printing colourful images. A thing to note here is that a scanning device also has the same settings. We need to make sure we scan it and print it with the same settings for the desired output.
Borderless Printing is now possible on some printers

Print Margins – The white borders on the printed page are margins. We can change these when we give the print command. The image size and page size will not be exactly same, even if theoretically they are the same size. It means that the page and image edges will not coincide or overlap. An Image printed will always be smaller than the actual page.

This is a technical aspect of all printers. It differs with technology and brands. We do get borderless printers to print high quality photos and large format pictures. For home printers, at least even if we keep the margins to zero, it has a ‘gutter’ which will always be there.

Fit to Page – Small and Large Image Sizes

Fit to page – This is a simple beginners setting. If the image is bigger then use the ‘fit to page’ setting to get the image to limit to the size of the page. For example the artwork is 12 inches by 18 inches which is bigger and we want to do a test print at home and the printer at home prints only A4 size, which is smaller than the art work. We can use the ‘fit to page’ setting and comfortably print it in A4. If this setting is not used the printer will use multiple pages to print the same image. It tries to print the artwork at the exact size it was created plus the white print margins. Leads to a lot of wastage in paper.

In another case, if the image is small and we use the ‘fit to page’ setting the image will be dragged to make it as large as the page. It will get pixelated.

Further we also need to ensure the aspect ratio is locked. Meaning when we change the size of the image, if the computer is decreasing the length by one inch it decreases the width also in the same proportion instead of keeping it constant. Otherwise it will change one of them and the image will not print correctly. This is the reason the white border is broad on one side and very thin on the other.

Of course we can cut and remove the white borders, join these sheets and all. However it is best to avoid such wastage by making sure the commands are in line with the output we want. Here is a simple chart explaining standard Paper Sizes used by all printing devices. They are denoted as ‘letter’ or ‘A3’ or ‘A5’. We select these from a drop down menu. The computer will edit the other settings to match it once we select from the drop down menu. The image is by Vector Stock and only for reference.

Paper Size in mm – Standard Chart only for reference

Let’s do a quick recap of the points to remember:-

1) Draw your artwork in the same size as the one you want to print. A larger art can be comfortably printed in a smaller size but not the other way around. If you are downloading and printing then check this info.

2) Scan it at 300dpi OR set the resolution of the computer drawing file at 300dpi. We can reduce this if we want to use the file only in the digital format. A printer will require it at 300dpi only. Changing this at a later stage spoils the file. It is to be done from the beginning itself.

3) Specify the colour or black and white print settings. A colour image can be printed in black white or grayscale also if that is the command selected.

4) Read the Printer Paper Sizes Chart and keep it handy. This enables us to know exactly the size we require the work in.

Last but not the least. Do this with the art that you create or art that you bought. Art work downloaded from the internet may be subjected to Copyrights. Printing or making copies of certain art work is considered illegal or a violation of the law. I did do a post on Copyrights earlier. Do take a look if it interests you. Making copies of things like currency or coloured copies of government papers is strictly illegal. Please do not engage in any such practices.

Use this information to make prints for your artwork, download files that are permitted for personal use or artwork that is officially yours and you have the rights in it. I hope this information was helpful. Now we can confidently get good prints at home as well as at professional printing services. Have an Arty Weekend!

Photo Credits : The WordPress Photo library for all the photos except one from vector stock and the other one that is mine.

Related posts to refer 1) Colour Wheel 2) Copyrights

Getting to know ‘The Washi Tape’

The title says it all ; this is a all you want to know kind of post and it is all about ‘The Washi Tape’. Ok! What is so special about it? Fine! It is just another tape, so use it as one. True! I think it is a door to creativity. Especially for storytellers who cannot draw well but have so much to say and share.

What is Washi Tape?

The name literally translates to Japanese Paper Tape. In India we have been using paper tapes for painting jobs. It is usually to protect an edge from unwanted paint. It is often referred to as masking tape. However Washi Tape is way better in terms of quality. It was originally used for Arts and Crafts. I think it is a must have for everyone, for students and professionals both alike. If your children are in school and have to do a lot of projects or journals, you will definitely agree. I just love them.

Washi Tape
Photo Courtesy- Downloaded from Unsplash – Photo by Sticker Mule

What is so special about it?

The paper is different. It is strong and stiff like a tape but light and semi transparent like paper. Layering is possible. Next, the glue is very good to stick it smoothly on a surface. At the same when we remove it, it will not leave any stickies or damage the surface. Comes off very easily. The glue can be easily cleaned with soap and water, if any. Last but not the least we get them in a HUGE, yes HUGE variety of colours, sizes and designs. We can cut and use them as stickers too!

Japan Washi Tape Idea
This is a portion of my collection – An idea on how to use it

Where will I get them? What is the price point?

It is a Japanese Tape so obviously it is available at stores that sell art craft materials and stationery from Japan. I bought mine during my visit to Japan. I have original Japanese Washi Tapes from The Japanese Paper Museum. In India, we now get them online as well as at all Art and Craft stores. We do get products that may not be the original one from Japan but are referred to as Washi Tape only because they are decorative tapes made from paper or titled so for search engines.

Washi Tapes are available in different sizes (broad) and usually bought in combos. Depending on themes, designs, colour matching and so on. It all depends on how you wish to use them. The prices are also offered like wise. The more you buy, the higher discount. For example INR. 30/- for one or 6 for INR.120/- It is an example, actual price may vary but is approximately in the same range.

How to use them?

  • As a regular tape in your diary to stick or attach something
  • As a decorative tape for borders, arts crafts, projects. journals, diary, your writing book, greeting cards, memory journals and more.
  • As a protective edging tape while painting surfaces. We tape the surface we don’t want the colour on. So when we remove the tape the extra colour or resin is removed and that surface is clean.
  • To create effects in some abstract geometric art
  • Labelling products
  • Marking a straight line while painting or drawing

Special Tip – A new Tape may have strong glue that may erode the paper surface a teeny bit. To avoid that simply paste the tape on the paper and lift immediately once or twice. Then stick it. Now when we remove it, the paper will not erode.

Removing Washi Tape
A photo to explain the special tip

Paper Tape can be used on any surface for edging or protecting the edge or surface. I used it to protect my coasters while coating resin. It works well with liquid paints as well as spray paints. It is an essential for re- furnishing and re- painting jobs. The plain colours are cheaper than the fancy ones.

Yes! I think they are totally worth the investment. There are ample ideas on creatively using them shared on Social Media. Take a look to get started. I have covered all the important information for a crafter or artist in short. If you wish to know more, you can always search online. Do check my Pinterest Board – Washi Tape Ideas to get started. I have pinned 50 different projects or ways one can use Washi Tape.

Valentines Day tomorrow! You can buy Washi Tapes and make your last minute preparations like a pro. Have an Arty Week!

Link to my Pinterest Board – http://www.pinterest.com/artistniralimehta

A Photo Frame – It’s Handmade

Click! Click! Hehe! We don’t get to hear this clicking sound anymore. The cameras are silent but we still click as many pictures or probably more. Now that our phones have a very strong camera lens, we like to capture every memory.

It is a memory, it is special. Then why let it remain in the phone. Let’s print it and put it in a nice photo frame. That is my topic for today’s post – a very simple easy DIY Photo Frame. It also makes a great handmade gift to share with your loved ones.

Handmade Photo Frame
The Photo Frame that I made

Earlier if I had to make something like this I would have to buy mount board or ply and then cut and make the frame myself. Also cut such vintage design decorative pieces. I agree, it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea to get a good finishing at these. Tedious too!

Now we easily get ready made stuff like plates in different shapes, pen stands, photo frames, coasters, alphabets and much more. The art and craft stores stock these. Further we get a large variety in primed chip board pieces. These designs are laser cut from plywood or board. They are primed ; meaning painted with a base paint. Won’t require gesso or primer to paint. We can directly use acrylic paints.

The material is plywood or fibreboard for all of them and hence for any craft or painting it is the same family. I did do a project earlier with the same materials – A Nameplate and Coasters. In case you wish to read those posts, the links are at the bottom. Yes! The material is mainly used for Mixed Media projects. Some stores are offering DIY kits with these.

I think one can always get more creative and use them differently, isn’t it! A big smile 😀 How is this project different? The method of painting is different. This method is super easy. Anyone just anyone can make it and it will still be a masterpiece.

Materials Required :

  • Ready Plywood Base – Photo Frame – any design of your choice
  • Decorative Primed Chipboard pieces – any design of your choice
  • Acrylic Paints and Brushes
  • Embellishments
  • Varnish for Acrylic – Spray or Liquid – either will do
  • Your enthusiasm to create something new

Minimum materials and most of it will be from your paintbox. No need to buy them. Make use of whatever you already have at home. Let’s get started! Put enough newspapers or plastic to protect your table or floor, wherever you are working. We do spill paint while doing this.

Material for Project
Ready Base and Chipboard Pieces

Special Tip : Cut out a rectangle from the plastic envelope of the frame or chipboard pieces. The size of the photo to be inserted. Insert it in the photo slot to avoid it getting blocked due to paint. This way we give a protective base and avoid colouring that portion.

Further we can use stencils to create textures on the base. We can use Tape to create designs as well. Pack the edges with Masking Tape or Washi Tape to avoid colouring the wrong side. We can even paint the edges in a different colour. Remove it once done. I will do a post on using tape soon.

Photo Frame - DIY
Trying and deciding their placements

Arrange these pieces and roughly decide their placements. Next select the colours. Individually paint all the pieces in any single colour. Here, I have painted the chipboard pieces in Gold. Chipboard pieces are by the brand ‘Little Birdie’. We can shade them but they are already 3D and hence I feel a single colour looks better.

Making a photo frame
Work in progress

The frame base is painted in Titanium White. One edge I have painted in Pink – Medium Magenta. After that I have dusted the frame with the same Gold used for the pieces. Gold on White is blended to look like gold is dusted on it. Finish the edges and back side likewise. Acrylic colours are painted in layers and blend even after the base colour dries. Use a wet brush only if needed. We use water only to clean the brush.

Thereafter I added the Gold Border using acrylic pens or paint pens. I use ‘Posca’ and ‘sharpie’ brands. They work well. This one is a bronze by sharpie. Once the pieces dry we can assemble or stick them together. They dry very well in about half an hour maximum. Next, we assemble or stick them together with glue. I use ‘Fevicol’ – India’s most popular glue.

Photo frame painted
It’s painted! Time to add embellishments

Next we add the embellishments. Any finishing touches if you require. Let this dry completely. Varnish it the next day and it is ready for use.

Handmade DIY Photo Frame
Photo Frame at my table

I like the colours in this one. Reminds me of my doll houses and princess fairy tales. I have mentioned the shades if you wish to use the exact same shades. Acrylic Paints are Artist Colours by the brand ‘Camel – Kokuyo Camlin’. I use spray varnish also by the same brand.

As you see, ones painting skills will not make much of a difference. It will still look as elegant and beautiful. Don’t forget to add your photo! Hope you enjoyed this post. Have an Arty Weekend!

View Post – Mixed Media Project ‘Name Plate’

View Post – Art Project Set of Coasters

Mixed Media Project : Nameplate

The first thing we usually ask or get to know about someone is their name. That is how we relate to them. We all like it when someone calls us by our name, isn’t it? That is what my next project is all about – a name. In this post, I am sharing about making a nameplate. It could be a simple door sign for your room or studio, an open or close sign for your store or a board sign for your home.

I wanted one for my creative corner. My initials are ‘NM’ and my shop name is ‘NMartworks’. Although I do various Arts and Crafts but mainly I’m into Drawing and Painting. That is why I selected a ‘Palette and Brush’ theme for myself. I wish to to make this project using the art materials that I already have and buy as little as possible. A common problem for such projects is about assessing the quantity of various materials required.

The first step to any project is to visualise. I visit art and craft shops to look for what is available. After that I design the project. Next I list the requirements and make a rough estimate considering the variance. I check my stock, meaning I check the material that I have at home and then I source the remaining. Most of the time this works out just great and other times I have to re-work it to cross the hurdles.

If there is a special price or discount on the material it is a bonus. Once in a while, that stuff you really wanted can get picked up before you get your hands on it. Certain materials are available only in large packs or you run out of it at the last minute. Also sometimes the same design is unavailable later. These hurdles are a part and parcel of the making process. Unless you are into selling and regularly stock material, these little hiccups are for everyone. Doing my homework makes me feel in control of the situation for my peace of mind.

List of Materials

  • MDF Board – Palette Shape
  • Primed Chipboard pieces – Vintage design and Floral
  • Old Brushes
  • Glue – Fevicol
  • Gesso
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Embellishments
  • Gold and Bronze Sharpie Pens
  • String
  • Acrylic Varnish
Acrylic Colours
The material I have used

The quantity for all the material for this project can be the smallest size bottle or tube available in the market. It is a small one. We can use all the material for other projects too. To know more about selecting art materials check my previous posts. I have covered the topic in detail.

Let’s get started

I have made the Nameplate on the lines of a Mixed Media Project. What is Mixed Media? As the name suggests it is mixing different media or materials. Wood, Metal, Fabric and Paper are commonly used for Mixed Media Projects. We use objects made from different materials, arrange the objects and make one new object. I placed the MDF Palette, the chip board pieces and brushes together.

The objects I have used are of the same material family – wood. The best way to glue wood is using India’s most popular glue – Fevicol. If you don’t believe me? Check their advertisements. Yes! Even if we were to use fabric, metal or paper in our project we would have used Fevicol. The surfaces of the objects that I have used for the nameplate have different colours and textures. Some are polished, some unpolished.

Mixed Media Palette in the making
Assembling the small objects to make one big object

Colour always sticks well on a clean rough surface. Sanding them is one option but not ideal. The other is ‘Gesso’ pronounced with a ‘J’ and not as a ‘G’. Gesso is a kind of primer. It primes the base and makes it ready for painting. Gesso is a mixture of POP (Plaster of Paris) or Chalk/ Gypsum and Glue or a binder. I have used a textured one. It is thicker than paint and is used to create textures. We get a variety of them. The cracked effect is one of them. It develops cracks as it dries. We have two colour options – Black and White.

Priming the Base
Painting the Gesso

What is a primer? As the name suggests it is the first or prime paint applied. Think of it as the base coat. It prepares the surface for painting. A primed and painted surface will look very smooth and finished. It also lasts longer than a non primed one. Gesso is quick drying. It is always applied as a single coat. We can paint on top of the first coat only if any spot was left out. If we paint another coat it destroys the texture of the previous coat. Let’s paint it now.

Mixed Media Gesso Painted
Primed the Base with Gesso. Looks like one object now.

I wanted a red gold finish. I painted it using Gold, Crimson, Black and Copper colours. I added little highlights in White colour. Last but not least I used Sharpie Pens to paint the leafy texture in the background and added silver embellishments. Thereafter I tied matching Gold string to hang it. In case you bought an MDF Palette that does have the holes, make these in the very beginning itself.

Painting the Nameplate
Painting the Nameplate

Alternatively we can paint the pieces individually and then arrange them. Even that works. The chipboard is already primed and can be painted directly. Chalk Paints work very well on MDF pieces. About two coats is good and no need to prime it. I wanted the whole plate to look like it’s made from one single block. Hence I painted it as a single piece in the same colours.

All of this is fast drying. However it is important to let it set and dry completely before varnishing. What is varnish? It is a clear coat. A kind of resin. We get gloss or matt options. I often use gloss because I like a little shine that the acrylic colours give. We get liquid ones to apply using a brush and a spray as well. Personally, I like using the spray because it covers the whole canvas equally without any lumps. A varnish protects your work from dust and other particles and seals the paint.

Palette Design Nameplate
It’s Ready! The Nameplate

It becomes easy to clean an artwork after varnish. To clean a varnished Art we lightly wipe off the dust using a dry paintbrush or soft cloth. No need to frame the Paintings either. Hence varnish is a good idea for a nameplate. Now it’s ready to use! Let us put it up as the door sign.

Do share your views about the project in the comments below. Have a creative weekend!

Art Project : Set of Coasters

Hot or Cold ? It is a good idea to use coasters when you want to avoid marks on the table that happen because of the condensate on drinks. I like customised or things made especially for me. Buying a ready coaster off the shelf was boring, making one myself sounded more fun.

That is why I decided to make my own coasters. And what is a project without a challenge? For this project, my challenge was to clear coat the coasters. The first thought for anyone when I say ‘handmade coasters’ is to think of them as school crafts made by children. This isn’t that. We want something professional looking and long lasting. Just because it is handmade does not mean it should be any less. Isn’t it?

Blue Handmade Coaster Set
This is the handmade Coaster Set that I made

These are coated and exactly like those available in the market. They are durable and stand various temperatures. The coating protects the colour and design as well.

Materials Needed :

  1. Pieces from MDF Board – These could be any size and shape. We get ready ones at all art and craft stores. The quantity depends on your table. I picked six square shape boards of 3.5 x 3.5 inches
  2. Chalk Paint – I picked the frozen blue shade of chalk paint by a company called ‘Little Birdie’
  3. Acrylic Paints – I used acrylic paints in bottles. Pearl finish teal blue and regular finish persian blue colour. One has a glitter finish while the other has a plain finish. The brand for my acrylic paints is ‘Fevicryl’
  4. 3D liner White Pearl by ‘Fevicryl’ for highlights (optional)
  5. Permanent Markers to draw or outline the design
  6. Design Stencil – You can use a readily available one or make one with paper yourself for the design. To get the exact same design on all coasters it is important to have a stencil. It makes replicating the design easier.
  7. Acrylic Varnish – I used the spray from the brand ‘Camlin’
  8. Art Resin – comes in two bottles (resin + hardener) to be mixed and used. The resin to hardener proportion is different for different brands but will either be 1:1 or 2:1. This is for the coating. I used epoxy art resin by the company ‘Little Birdie’

Method :

MDF Board is thick board made from wood fiber. For art and craft the material is handled just like plywood or wood. Ready pieces of different shapes and sizes are available in the market for various arts and crafts. For coasters they are available as multiple packs or single pieces, with and without a stand to complement it. The choice is yours.

MDF Coasters to paint
MDF Board Pieces in Brown and Blue Chalk Paint

I had picked six square shaped board pieces with rounded corners. They don’t have a wrong side or right side. We can paint on either. Select the side you feel looks good and make that the top side. I painted them on both sides with chalk paint using a flat brush.

First coat of chalk paint
Applying the first coat of Chalk Paint

What is chalk paint? Most acrylic paints leave a self texture and gloss after drying. Further, we need to prime the base before using them. Chalk paint is also an acrylic paint but it gives a matt finish and better coverage. There is no need to prime the base. Can be applied directly to any wood or wood like surface. I have applied two coats of chalk paint on both the top and bottom of all coasters.

It is quick drying. An interval of 15-20mins between coats is sufficient for it to dry. On the side rim as a dark colour and just to have a contrast I applied Persian blue colour from the acrylic bottle paints. These are liquid and of pouring consistency. Work very well for Dot Painting as well.

Chalk paint two coats
Dried vs wet Chalk Paint after Two Coats

After drying I secured the stencil with a paper tape on the top side of the coaster. I traced the design using a blue permanent marker. Did this for all the coasters. Painted the design using acrylic paints in bottles. Highlighted using a 3D liner – white pearl colour. You can use the permanent marker on dried acrylic paint for touch up of the design.

Stencil for coasters
Tracing the Stencil with Permanent Marker

Now we need to let this dry completely. Acrylic Paints are fast drying. We may feel it is dried after an hour but before the next process let it dry completely to the last particle for at least 24hours. Apply two coats of acrylic varnish after that and leave it for another day 24hours after that. I sprayed varnish on the backside as well. Makes an easy clean surface in case it gets dirty.

Acrylic varnished coasters
After Varnish. Note the Gloss and Texture of the Surface

It is usable after this but I wanted to coat it with resin. Resin is a thick clear coat making it durable against extreme temperatures and gives a reflective glass like finish. Even a small piece of dust will sit and stick to it. The acrylic varnish makes it easy to clean the dust and locks the paint. That is why, the colours don’t smudge or bleed when we pour the resin.

Now for the challenging part – applying the coat of resin. Working with resin can be messy. The clean up is very difficult. Make sure you do this at a place well protected with paper or plastic for any unwanted spills.

Resin is like lacquer. Art resin is a slightly milder form and better to work with at home. Use masking tape or paper tape and pack the edges of the coasters. So in case the resin spills you can remove it with the tape after it dries. Put the coasters on a levelled lifted surface. I placed a paper cup upside down and put the coaster on it.

Wear silicon gloves or plastic bag as gloves. Resin sticks to the hand. It becomes sticky and is difficult to remove. In case you get some on your hand while working use an alcohol based solution or acetone or sanitiser to remove it. It does not go with soap water. I haven’t clicked pictures of the process as both my hands were occupied and I couldn’t touch the camera with dirty hands.

In another paper cup I mixed resin in the ratio 2:1 (resin to hardener) as mentioned in the description on their bottles by ‘Little Birdie’. The next process is same for all resins. We have to stir it continuously using a wooden stick for 3 mins till it becomes transparent and then pour on the surface to coat. 40ml + 20ml = 60ml was sufficient to nicely coat six coasters. The proportion has to be correct else it will not harden upon drying.

I poured the resin mixture at the centre and spread it to the edges using another wooden stick. The excess drips. I cleaned it using the stick. It is a self setting liquid and any craters will level out as it dries. Lightly pop the bubbles that come up using the pointed side of a toothpick. Also use a heat gun or a hair dryer or blower over it once. This pops the bubbles too.

Let it dry in a dust free environment. It gives out a mild smell or fumes as it dries. Hence best to leave it at a spot not frequented by anyone. It takes 12 hours to set and 24 to 48 hours for curing. The surface will be hardened, clear and reflective like a glass. Easy to clean and protective for coasters. We get food grade resin also. They use it for making trays and other kitchen items.

Handmade Coasters
Resin Coasted. The Coating is about 1-2mm in thickness. Note the Reflective and Smooth Surface.

Think creatively and make your own design. Coasters made entirely from resin using silicon moulds and fluid art as also popular. They mix a paste called resin pigment to add an opaque colour, alcohol inks for transparent colours, decorative elements like glitter, stones and dried flowers to the resin and make many artistic home decor items.

Do try it out and share your experience. Have a creative weekend!

Note: This is not an advertisement or paid promotion. I bought the materials, made the coasters and clicked the pictures all myself. Kindly do not use without permission.

Craft Project : Making a Dreamcatcher

Originally used only as a protective charm for infants by native Americans, Dreamcatchers have now gained a lot more popularity. It is believed to be good luck to receive a Dreamcatcher as a gift. True or not, I think it makes a lovely gift. I believe the thought behind the gift is what really counts.

I love trying new arts and crafts. This time I wanted to try making a Dreamcatcher. I bought a DIY kit that came with materials and instructions. After making one myself, I think I can explain it in a short and easy way. Sharing my experience and method, for the readers to try making one themselves. There are many tutorials on YouTube for various designs of Dreamcatchers.

The pack of materials

Materials included :

  • A Hoop – Wooden or Metal
  • String or Lace to cover the Hoop
  • String for the web
  • Strings to make the hanging ones
  • Decorative elements like beads and crystals
  • Feathers
  • Hooks to attach the feathers (optional)
  • Scissors and Glue
Pink Purple Dreamcatcher
The Dreamcatcher that I made

Let’s make the Dreamcatcher :

  1. I used the pink string and wrapped it around the metal hoop, covering it completely.
  2. Continuing with the same string, I made loops for the outer layer of the web as shown in the diagram. Make sure they intersect forming a interlocked continuous web and the thread is tight.
  3. For the second inner layer, I continued to make loops just like the outer ones with the intersection at the centre of the outer loops.
  4. I continued making layers till the centre. As we move to the inner layers the loops become smaller and difficult to make. We can use a needle if required. I made sure it is a continuous string (single string) and it is secured tightly so that the loops don’t open up.
  5. If the string is not long enough attach more string to it, until it is complete. Then at the centre I attached a pink bead. You can have a charm of your choice. This is the end of the web. I tied the knot and stuck the ends with glue.
  6. Decorate the web with crystals.
  7. Then I tied the purple hanging strings to the hoop. I have attached five of them. Need to cut them to size first. For example if you want it to hang as long as 10 cm, then double it to 20cm and add about two cms more to tie the knots. The one on the extreme right and extreme left are of equal length and they are the shortest. The other two slightly longer and the one in the centre is the longest, it gives a u-shaped look.
  8. Then I attached beads and feathers alternately on the purple strings by tying knots so that they don’t slip downwards. It’s a regular knot. I have used metal hooks that came in the pack to attach the feathers. They seemed very helpful in securing the feathers. You can attach them with string also if you don’t get hooks.
  9. Completed! Admire your work!
Step 1 to make Dreamcatchers
Step 1 – cover the hoop
Steps to make Dreamcatchers
Steps to make the web
The web done, attaching purple strings
Dreamcatchers strings and feathers
Attaching the long hanging strings with beads and feathers

Special Tip : Apply dots of quick drying transparent glue (I have used Fevi Kwik – an instant adhesive) at intersections wherever needed to avoid the string from slipping and opening up. Use it only as needed to secure beads, strings and feathers.

The difficult part is in weaving the web. Once we get that correctly everything else goes faster. I had a great time making it. I hope you enjoy the process too! And don’t forget to gift it to someone you want to look after. Have a creative weekend!

That’s how it looks after completing

Note : The DIY Dreamcatcher kit I bought from the ItsyBitsy Craft store. One can purchase all the material individually at the store as well. All the pictures are mine and I have actually clicked them. Kindly do not use them without permission.

Digital Detox: Relax and Rejuvenate With An Off-Screen Activity

My city is almost in a complete state of lockdown. The thing with these people is that they think this is the new normal. They aren’t opening the lockdowns. Stepping out is a complete ‘No-No’. To draw and paint, I need to calm my mind. During such prolonged lockdowns, keeping your mental health good becomes challenging.

We aren’t getting any materials either except groceries. The city never really opened the lockdowns since last year. As the wait becomes longer, hopes get dimmer. Reading all this news only makes it worse.

That is when I came across this Sunday Column in India’s largest selling newspaper. It is called ‘timespapershaper’ by ‘The Times of India’. They share ‘How To Make’ Origami Models. A new one every Sunday! Origami is the Japanese Art of Paper Folding. All you need is a sheet of paper.

I collected the posts and sat down to make the ones I liked. Origami can be a very relaxing activity for a person of any age. I thoroughly enjoyed my time off-screen. Almost felt like I should do this digital detox regularly.

I am sharing pictures of the Origami Models. I made all these by myself reading these posts. For the last few difficult ones, I did turn to their videos on FB and Insta. These are listed in the order of their difficulty level. The difficulty level meter is based on what I felt.

Origami  Pencil
Origami Pencil
Origami  Coat
Origami Coat
Origami Dress
Origami Dress
Origami  Dolphin
Origami Dolphin
Origami Star Box
Origami Star Box
Origami  Peacock
Origami Peacock
Origami Lily
Origami Lily
Origami Lotus
Origami Lotus
Origami Rose and Leaf
Origami Rose and Leaf
Origami  T-light Holder
Origami T-Light Holder or Candle Stand

A big Thank you to ‘timespapershaper’ for teaching us these beautiful Origami Models.

It is a simple creative activity that can be done with things we have at home. However it helps relax and rejuvenate. I feel everyone should try them. It doesn’t require any prior training and the benefits are totally worth the time and effort. Have an Arty Week!

Other Posts that you may like :

Colouring like a Pro with Pens and Markers

Two Artworks with the same sketch can look different only because of the colours, isn’t it? I have known people who cannot draw or paint that well but can colour amazingly well. In fact, their colouring is so good that they can turn it into a profession. Then how come nobody teaches us how to colour or why don’t we give much importance to it? “What is there to learn in that?” they say. I would say colouring is also an Art.

Everything from selecting the colours to the finished look has little things to understand. Once we know these, anyone can colour like a pro! Nowadays colouring is a popular hobby among both children and adults likewise. Art material brands offer free colouring pages. We can also download colouring apps or we can buy colouring pages online.

The drawing in colouring books have larger blocks to colour for younger kids and then as we progress to higher age groups, they have more intricate designs with small blocks to colour. Printed colouring books for children and adults are available at all book shops. It is a great activity for creative minds to do while waiting or travelling.

I have already done an elaborate post on selecting pens and markers before. In this post, I will share tips and tricks on colouring with them. Even today I try and learn new ways or designs to make my work better and faster.

I have worked with pens and markers by almost all popular brands. Professionals prefer using alcohol-based markers for their art and illustrations because of the finish. This includes 1) artists making greeting cards and stamping 2) illustrators making fashion illustrations 3) architects and interior designers making drawings 4) cartoonists, caricature artists, character designers and manga artists.

Watercolour artists use watercolour pens and markers for creating those effects in colouring. I like using oil-based markers for metallic colours. I also use permanent waterproof ink or archival ink pens for outlining, drawing patterns and for all my ink illustrations.

Beginners could buy a set of watercolour markers and waterproof ink pens to begin with. Then as the interest develops, it is a good idea to invest in alcohol-based markers and metallic markers. We also get acrylic markers or paint markers to draw on objects.

How to hold Marker Pens
Explaining how to hold different Markers and Pens

It is always a good idea to test the markers before buying. See the finish after drying and check if they come on to the other side of the page. If they do then we need to use a different paper for it. I have faced this problem with colouring books that don’t use good quality thick paper. Markers work differently on papers of different textures and thickness.

Colouring with markers
Look the alcohol marker ink came onto the other side.

Whenever we use alcohol-based markers we need to place a paper or protector below our paper to avoid colouring unwanted things. I mean the drawing board or the table or surface. Watercolour markers can be washed off from surfaces but not the others. Hence washable markers are best for kids.

Here are some methods or techniques for colouring. You could have a different style as long as it suits the kind of finish you wish to achieve.

Solid Colour – Colour in a single direction and use the pointed tip to fill the corners that may have been left out. Do not keep colouring the same place over and over. There will be colour blocking when the ink is wet. However once it dries, the colour automatically evens out in the case of most markers. When colouring larger blocks use the accented tip or the brush tip. If we use the round tip it will create a self texture in the fill; meaning we won’t get an even colour in the fill. Once again please note the direction is important or colour in tiny circles.

Highlights – Leave out the portion of the highlights. Do not colour it. The part where the light falls maximum is called highlight. It is a good idea to leave out a larger portion if you are not sure. The area can be coloured later. The white ink doesn’t work well to give highlights because the colour somehow shows through it. It isn’t even.

Blending Two Colours – Can we do shading with markers? Yes of course. Doesn’t matter which marker it is, watercolour and alcohol-based markers both can be used for shading. I recommend applying the light colour first and then the dark colour, so that just in case some of the colour comes on to the tip of the marker then a light colour marker may get spoilt. Many artists colour dark to light also but that is mostly with alcohol-based markers.

Single Colour Shading – The pressure applied is important here. We get colourless blenders for blending the colour. It is also a marker but the ink is colourless. Apply pressure and then lift the pen to create strokes for shading in single colour.

Darkening a Colour – If you apply another coat of the colour when the colour is wet, it will blend. So to create a dark line or make the same shade darker apply another coat after a few minutes. It will blend with the previous colour but will be darker. This works only for alcohol-based markers. For watercolour markers once dry the colour doesn’t blend. The green dot above has the dark colour done like that.

Creating Textures and Patterns – When we apply a stroke of two different colours next to each other, they blend. We can use these alternately and create fill textures. When we want the lines to stand out or want to create patterns without the colour blending. We can use a permanent ink marker before or after using the watercolour or alcohol-based marker. I use permanent ink pens for outlines during finish as well as my base sketch.

Colour Palettes – It is always better to think about the colour combinations beforehand. We get a lot of shades in the markers. Colour mixing isn’t possible. The paper can tear with excessive scribbling. This art has the yellow, orange, brown colour combination. Buying large boxes of markers is expensive, especially the professional or artist pens.

Selecting the right colour combination can make a huge difference to your artwork. If possible do a little research on the most popular colour palettes or international colour palettes frequently used before buying the markers. I recently bought a box of markers with the basic colours and then bought individual pens for the extra shades that I needed. It worked out to be cheaper than buying the larger box with colour shades that I didn’t need or wouldn’t use.

The colour combination in the artwork by artists of a particular region is influenced by the colours of their local surroundings. Further every colour conveys a meaning and emotion. For example, the colour red is considered auspicious in some cultures and it conveys love or anger as an emotion. I have done a post on understanding colours before this. You may want to take a look at it.

Watercolour Brush Pens
A close up of the artwork I recently did with watercolour brush pens

I normally draw my own sketches but you could print the colouring pages at home or with a printing service. Most of the large stores have a printing service. Do share your colouring experience with us. Have an Arty Week!

To see related previous posts please click on them here 1) Selecting Pens and Markers 2) Understanding Colours

Culinary Art : Garnishing and Carving by Nirali Mehta

Sniff! Hmm…that smells good! Wow! That looks delicious! Go ahead Taste it! Yum! Food is not just about taste and nutrition but also about what you see and smell. We click pictures of food every now and then – For Food Blogs, Dinning Selfies, Parties or Home Cooked meals.

Oh! Does that mean, now even food needs to look good? Dress up and put on makeup? Yes! of course! It does! Not in the literal sense but in a way Garnishing, Fruit and Vegetable Carving, Plating are all about the display or making Food look good.

Garnishing is like makeup, it should blend and add to the personality of the food item served, not overpower it. One thing 2020 proved true ; Cooking is a survival skill. All of us need to eat, to survive and that is why knowing a little about the kitchen and cooking is always helpful. Cooking is love made edible. Who doesn’t like a well cooked and served meal? Everybody likes it, correct!

My Mom does the cooking in our house and she is very good at it. With Mother’s Day coming up I was thinking of ways to make her feel special. I think the best gift this year for anyone is to spend some time with them. In this post I am sharing my story about this Art along with some easy garnishes that you could do with your mom, this Mother’s Day. I have a special memory associated with this day , I started to teach the Art of Fruit and Vegetable Carving on Mother’s Day – it was my first session.

‘Food Craft’ is the name of my class. I used to conduct workshops and demonstrations for Fruit and Vegetable Carving. People call it ‘Food Decorating’ and ‘Food Carving’ but it is actually ‘Garnishing Food’ and ‘Fruit and Vegetable Carving’. Fruit and Vegetable Carving is a Thai Art. ‘Culinary Art’ is the term for Cooking and Food presentation.

Salad by Nirali Mehta
Salad decorated with Flowers from Bell Peppers and Cabbage leaves by Nirali

The very first time I saw carvings made from Fruits and Vegetables was on a Cruise in Singapore. It was an activity for the guests. After that I started noticing these displays at restaurants. During those days I got an opportunity to travel to almost the whole of South East Asia more than once. My interest in carving developed. I understood that it was not possible to create such grand displays at home. And it was the result of a team effort and not by any one individual.

My nephew had a salad decorating contest coming up in school. My sister-in-law wanted me to help them come up with something. I looked up on the Internet. Found a few videos. We also found a few ideas in the cook books my mom had collected. After a few unsuccessful attempts we made a Peacock Salad Bowl. Yes! He did win the contest. First Prize! Later a friend asked me if I could help her to decorate a dish for a cooking contest in their building. Yippie! First Prize again! The winning spree continued for many years to come.

One thing I have known is people don’t take you seriously until you charge a fee. I kept a minimum fee for my time and started conducting classes. When you conduct classes you need to know much more than one or two artefacts. What I realised is, I could see and learn this Art only because of my previous experience and base in Art. I started bringing home Fruits and Vegetables to try and make artefacts shown in the videos on the Internet. There was a Thai Lady who had uploaded detailed videos and taught step by step. Those were very helpful. The Fruits and vegetables that were available locally were different from the ones she used though.

I bought books, carving knives and tools every time I went to Bangkok or asked people to bring them for me from abroad. I managed to get them in China and Singapore too. By now I had tried a lot of things. I knew how to select Fruits and Vegetables and had worked with different knives and tools. Then I short listed the items for the class. I feel fortunate to have taught over 500 people through workshops and demonstrations.

My focus in Garnishing as well as Carving was mainly for home use. Things that you can make at home or for small parties that we have at home. My best experience was that of conducting live demonstrations at Malls during the festive season. Handling large crowds seems easy but is a very difficult task. Every new day came with a different set of challenges and taught me something new. It was a continuous learning process for me. That is why they say ‘teaching is the best way to learn’.

During parties we have so much work to do that making garnishes can seem like an additional chore. To reduce the burden some preparations can be made a day before and it can be stored in the refrigerator. The Final setup and assembly can be done just before the party. At room temperature we can wrap it up in a wet cloth to preserve the water content to keep them looking fresh for a longer time. Making large professional displays requires skilled training. A lot of information is there on the Internet for anyone who wishes to keep this Art at a hobby level. One would have to source the tools though.

Tools that you would need:

1. Carving Knife or Paring Knife – A short handle sharp knife that one can comfortably hold like a pen. If you are unable to source a Thai carving knife, one can use a bird beak knife for beginner level. Some Chefs make their own knives. It is because these are a special set of knives used only for Fruit and Vegetable Carving.

2. Regular Cutting or Chopping Kitchen Knives and a Peeler, Cookie Cutters, Slicer and Chopping Board.

3. Fixers – Toothpicks or Bamboo Skewers, Pins our Rubber bands. (Pins only if it is strictly for decorating. Cannot come in contact with the edible portion). Use toothpicks to join or attach two objects. Rubber bands only to hold things in place till it sets.

Additional decorating tools such as crinkled cutters, spiral slicers, U and V shaped Knives are also useful. Sometimes we also add food colours.

Fruit and Vegetable carving tools
These are not all of them. Some of the tools from my set of carving knives.

Onions are the easiest to work with. It is an ingredient for so many dishes and hence can be used as a garnish for most of them. Fruit Bowls from Watermelon, Musk Melon and Papaya are popular. Other than these tomato, cucumber, radish and carrots can make good decorative garnishes too. Carving intricate designs requires professional training. In addition to this one needs to have an eye to look out for shapes and colours when buying any Fruit or Vegetable. Select fresh Fruits and Vegetables as they are better to work with, as compared to the ones stored in deep freeze.

Carving is like drawing without an eraser. Anything once cut cannot be reattached to what it was. We need to be able to imagine things in fruits and vegetables. I once did an exercise with a group of children where we gave them pieces of vegetables (peeled and cut in shapes) and asked them to make whatever they wish. We were surprised with the kind of things they made. Children have the best imagination I think. So let your imagination run wild and let’s see what you can come up with. Have an Arty weekend!

Little Birds from Spring Onions

What all we will require:

  • 5-6 spring onions of different sized bulb. Smaller ones for the head and larger one for the body. Remaining for the base and flowers.
  • Carrot slices for the beak. Orange flowers are also from carrots.
  • Green stock of spring onions for leaves.
  • Toothpicks to attach everything.
  • Cloves for eyes.
  • Bird beak Knife or Paring Knife and Chopping Board
  • Ice water in a container
Spring onion birds
Method to make Spring Onion Birds
  1. Hold the spring onion bulb with the root end on top as shown.
  2. Leave about 2cm or till the mid of the bulge. Pierce downwards in straight lines making cuts as shown in green. Make sure the knife slits all the way to the centre of the bulb and not across. Complete this cut till the stalk. Top to bottom direction.
  3. Make more slits as shown in green. Radius not diameter, cutting vertically.
  4. The onion will open up and look like the third diagram. Immerse it in ice water for 1/2 hour to 45mins. The greens will automatically curl up.
  5. Make 4 such bulbs. Two for the body and two for the head.
  6. Cut the toothpick into a small portion, insert into the two bulbs and attach as shown.
  7. Take a thick carrot slice. Cut it into a triangle as shown. Take a toothpick and attach it to the root portion of the onion bulb used as the head.
  8. Take a toothpick and create a small hole for the eyes on both sides of the head. Insert cloves for eyes or peppercorn.

Can use the onion bulb as flower also. Mount it onto a bamboo skewer and cover it with the onion green stalk.

Making leaves from spring onion
  1. The greens that you see around the birds are made from the green leafy portion of the spring onion.
  2. Cut slits leaving a minimum of 3cm of the stalk intact. It is the strength that holds the leaves together.
  3. Immerse in ice water for half an hour to 45mins. The greens will automatically curl up.
  4. Mount it on a base made from the carrot using bamboo skewers. A thick barrel block that doesn’t roll over. Can use radish or potato for the base as well. It looks like a rock. Make sure it doesn’t roll or cut a small portion to make it steady.
  5. Mount the Birds on to the base using toothpicks.
  6. Additional decorations to your creativity.
  7. Use as decoration by placing it on the side of your dish and filling the plate up with the food to be served.

Thank You!

Why is Acrylic Paint the most preferred medium to paint?

If there was something like a ‘People’s Choice Award’ or an Award for the ‘Most Popular Paint’, I am sure it would go to Acrylic Paints. While the others are more natural dyes and colours, Acrylic Paint is synthetic and man made. It is easily available at stores selling Art Supplies as well as all Paint and Stationery Shops.

Acrylic  Painting  Poppy  Flowers
Poppy Flowers – An Acrylic Painting that I have done

Acrylic Paints vs. Oil Paints

Oil Paints take 7-10 days to dry completely. It is this quality of oil paint that helps in mixing colours and blending them. Any artist who has worked with oil paints will agree, it is this property that really helps in making those realistic paintings.

Oil paints have one major drawback ; by any chance if any little traces of water get trapped between the colours because of humidity then the painting develops moss. Refurbishing, Repairing or Repainting- nothing works.

Oil Painting  on Canvas
Indian Mural Style Oil Painting. The ornaments are modelled from clay

When beginning a new oil painting, the canvas needs to be seasoned (sizing) to absorb oil. The more oil it absorbs the better finish. Whereas for Acrylic Paints we only need to use ‘Gesso’ to prime the base. Gesso is like a paint which when applied to any kind of surface prepares it for the paint to be applied. Last but not the least having a glass frame and making the frame airtight ensures that the Oil Painting stays well for longer. Acrylic does not have any such requirement.

Brushes and Palettes can be cleaned with water. If we get some paint on our hands or any surface while painting, it can be easily cleaned with water or removed with acetone. It usually petals off like a plastic coating. We all know that is not the case with oil paints. We need to keep a separate set of brushes for Oil Painting which cannot be used for anything else. On the other hand it is possible to have a common set of brushes for Watercolour and Acrylic Painting since both are water based paints.

Acrylic Paints vs. Watercolour Paints

It is possible to achieve a Watercolour like finish using Acrylic paints. We can mix the colour with different mediums such as Gel, Gloss, Matt, Pearl and so on to get different effects. We can create textures and even achieve the level transparency we want in the colours of the painting with Acrylic Paints.

This image is created from stock photos for explanation

Watercolour is basically for Painting on paper. Even after a painted layer dries, water can be used to mix or blend both colours. Water can be applied on the paper and then colour drops can be added, giving this grains effect. This painting method is suitable to Watercolours. So most artists specialising in Watercolour Painting will not want to use Acrylic Paints. Watercolours are also easy to work with, portable and can be carried along. The cake form is very compact and portable. Mixing of colours to get your shade is easily workable.

I use a mix of Watercolour and Acrylic Paints for my paintings listed on the shop for sale. You may visit my Etsy Shop or Social Media pages to see those.

Here are some of the reasons I think this Acrylic Paint is preferred equally for both Arts and Crafts :-

1) It has a unique property. It is soluble in water and hence diluted with water to paint. However once the paint dries the polymers bond to give a water-resistant painted surface.

2) Acrylic Paints can be used to paint on multiple surfaces including Canvas, Paper, Wood, Glass, Walls, Ceramic and Fabric. I have personally tried them on all of these. We need to seal the completed work with varnish and we are good to go.

Recycled Pen Stand Acrylic
Recycled this old plastic container by repainting with Acrylic Paints

3) We can select the consistency of the paint. The Acrylic Paints that are available in Tubes have a slightly thicker consistency as compared to those available in bottles. The ones in the bottles are liquid like pouring consistency. Both are Acrylic Paints and can be used together on all the projects. The pouring consistency colours work well for projects like Dot Painting and Fluid Art.

Recycled Roll up Brush  case
Roll up brush case I made from my old jeans. Dot painting with Acrylic Paints

4) These paints are available in smaller tubes of size 9ml to larger tubes with 40ml to 120ml. Also available in bottles and larger cans. We even get Acrylic Sprays. Art and Craft Schools and Studios can stock large containers while people who do one off projects can buy the smaller ones. Further if we run out on a particular shade, we can buy just that single shade too!

Photos of my Acrylic paints
I use Artist quality Acrylic Paints by the brand ‘Camel’ or ‘Camlin’ because of its easy availability and reasonable pricing locally.

5) Water Resistant surface makes it easy to combine it with other art materials such as permanent markers or watercolours. Acrylic colours can be used on watercolour painted surface but not the other way around because for watercolours to work, the paper needs to absorb the water. Acrylic paints make the paper impermeable. Acrylic paints can be used alongside or as highlight on watercolour painted surfaces.

6) Acrylic Paints are preferred for creating textures. An artist can achieve the effect he wants with the colours – solid thick, translucent or transparent finish, all by mixing different quantities of mediums and/or water. It is like painting in layers. The bottom layer dries completely and then we paint the next layer. We can even paint a white on a black without the previous layer smudging at all.

Knife painting on canvas
A closer look and method for Knife Painting with Acrylic Paints

The fast drying property and thick paint consistency make it suitable for Impasto or Knife Painting. By using these methods of painting artists can create a good variety of textures. We can use ‘retarders’ to slow the drying process and increase the working time for blending.

7) Almost anything can be painted with Acrylic Paints. These paints can be used for Painting on pots, Painting Clay, Canvas Painting, Painting on Paper, Painting on T-Shirts and Tote Bags, Pebble Art, Wall Murals, Painting on Glass and Mirrors, Painting on Tiles, Mixed Media and a lot more variety of Art and Craft Projects.

Mixed Media on Canvas
Mixed Media Acrylic Painting. Flowers are modelled from clay

8) These colours remain unaffected by humidity or extreme cold or heat conditions.

9) Framing is optional. Hence we have wall mounting canvases. To clean it simply take a dry brush and lightly dust of the dirt that may have settled on it and it will be clean.

Wall mounted  Impasto Painting
Wall Mounted Canvas – Knife Painting using Acrylic Paints

10) Variety of Colours and Shades. Mixing colours might not be a good idea because it dries very fast. So buy them in the colours or shades needed. There will usually be a whole shelf dedicated to it. Any colour that we need can be bought anytime. We get neon shades and glow in the dark paints too!

The only drawback with Acrylic paint is that the colours will dry out if the water from the colour evaporates or if the bottle is left idle, so cap them well. Remove the colours in disposable containers in the required quantities instead of painting directly from bottles and leaving large containers without the lid for long hours of painting.

Acrylics are easy to work with. Rectifying a mistake is also easier when using Acrylics, so it works well for beginners as well as professionals. I really don’t know what more can they offer to make these paints better. Definitely worth buying a box and trying out some Art projects. I have shared some of the recent Projects that I have worked on using Acrylic Paints. All these are still with me and not for Sale. The paintings for sale on the shops are different. These are all from my personal collection.

Have an Arty Week!

‘Hooked on to Crochet’ – by Guest Blogger Ms. Emma Thomas

Crochet is the Craft of creating Fabrics by interlocking strands of Yarn using a Hook. Crochet isn’t just a Craft. It is a legacy – small presents of love that are passed down from one generation to another. Crochet is different from Knitting. The difference is in the tools and the stitches. How I learnt to Crochet is an interesting story in itself.

I always thought that Crocheting was for my Nana and not something I ever thought I would do. In fact I thought I couldn’t do it at all. My Nana tried to teach me once, when I was a little girl. But she either gave up on teaching me or I gave up on learning it because I just didn’t seem to grasp it. So she taught my brother, who managed to Crochet a Bunny. I must have been envious or something as I can still to this day, picture the bunny that he successfully made while I couldn’t. I am pleased to say that now I can Crochet a lot of bunnies (and my brother has forgotten how to – big smile) and I am sure my Nana, if she was here today would be pleased to know that I finally mastered her skill.

Crochet Racoon
A Baby Racoon made by Emma

I had dropped the whole idea of crocheting for a long time but I have always tried to create something or another. I have dabbled in many crafts. Although not an expert, I have definitely had a go at many Crafts. Crafting and creating are in my blood, passed down for generations on both sides of my family. That makes it really difficult not to be making something.

Once I had children, I started making things for them, mainly toys. I sewed them a bear and Knitted some dolls. The idea of crocheting would pop up from time to time but I never really listened to it until about 7 years ago. I told my Mum, “Surely, if I can manage to knit a little (very little, I might add) I can also learn to Crochet”. My mum tried to teach me but she is more of a Knitter than a Crocheter and so once again I did not understand. However this time the idea to learn Crochet grew even stronger.

Sometimes a little pressure can go a long way in getting you over the hurdle. Not many months after, my sister-in-law asked me if I would like to share a market stall with her. I immediately said Yes! But I had nothing to sell then. I had only 4 weeks to come up with something. That’s right! And that’s when I thought of turning to YouTube and learning to Crochet.

We are truly blessed to have YouTube and as it turns out, it perfectly fits my learning style. So I watched video tutorials. I would pause at each step until I understood it well. Within 4 weeks, I went from not knowing how to Crochet and having nothing to sell at the market, to having some basic little crochet bags and some ill fitting beanies. None the less, I had something! And it was just the beginning. A profound love and passion for Crocheting was born and I have not stopped crocheting, learning, creating and making ever since.

Crochet is known to have many health benefits such as reducing stress while keeping the mind calm. The colours are pleasing to the senses which improve the mood and help fight negative thoughts such as depression, anxiety and insomnia. It has been noticed that people who Crochet can not only concentrate and focus better but also multitask well.

For me, Crocheting taught me a lot about myself. I learnt that I can teach myself with the help of the resources available today, as I am a very visual learner. When you truly love something – you can do it every day for years and it will not be a chore. I like to design and create something new. I love waking up with a new idea and taking the image that is in my head and making it a reality through Crochet.

There are so many beautiful things you can make by crocheting. It is like doing magic with some yarn and a hook. From Fabrics, Household Items, Sandals, Bags, Toys, Cushion Covers, Phone Cases, Baby Outfits, Wearables, Cosies, Headbands and Hair-ties and so much more.

Crochet Photoshoot
Props for Photoshoots made by Emma

I particularly love making gifts for family and friends, Photo Outfits and Props for Cake Smash Photoshoots (another passion of mine), Bags and Toys. It has always been about making people smile.

Putting a smile on a little someones face is incredibly important to me, I once made ‘Sebastian’- the Wombat based on the Children’s Book for a child with special needs. This was pretty special. It had to be made just so or he wouldn’t have liked it. I had no idea how I was going to make it when I started off but I just started it and seemingly it all came together. I am pleased to say, he loved it!

Crochet Wombat
Sebastian – The Wombat made by Emma

Selecting your Materials : Go for good quality yarn as it will make a difference to your projects. Cheaper quality will make your job harder. We have a choice among animal based, plant based fibres and synthetic. An important point to note is that the yarn or threads have varying weights (thickness). Keep this in mind while selecting the threads for designs.

Also you might want to go for something machine washable, easily drying, durable and with fast colours. I like using the more natural yarn like 8-ply wool and organic cotton wherever possible. ‘Ply’ means strands twisted together. That means a 5-ply would mean 5 strands twisted to make that single thick bunch.

Crochet Yarn and Hook
Crochet Yarn and Hook

To begin with you may want to use quality acrylic yarn often referred to as the beginners yarn or the same yarn which the tutor is using. Other than that you would need the hook or Crochet needle to spin magic and a tapestry needle for weaving in loose ends or embroidering the small details.

Just like needle sizes, we get hook sizes. This is determined by the size of the stitches or the type of project you want to create. Choose a hook that allows your yarn to slide and move without hinderance and you are comfortable holding, as it can take long hours to complete a project.

Additional tools may also be needed, like measuring tape and gauge measure. Gauge is referred to as the number of stitches per inch and rows created per inch. This is because even with the same hook and yarn no two people crochet the same and can create different number of stitches in an inch – loose or tight. Once you practically work on a project, these terms will be more clear. Select any project that you feel simple. I do share Crochet patterns on my YouTube Channel. Feel Free to check it out!

To sum it up I can say ; If you have the desire, you can learn anything. It always comes with a set of challenges and frustrations but don’t give up. It’s a life time of learning and totally worth it! The old saying ‘Practice makes Perfect’ is actually true. Do a bit every day and just enjoy the ride! Have a Crafty Week!

Guest Blogger : Ms. Emma Thomas

I love designing, making and creating new things. I am super passionate about Crochet and Photography. I love running and keeping fit. I am a Mum to 3 Boys and a Girl.

Emma is the Maker and Shop Owner at ‘Double Stitch Creations’ based in Melbourne, Australia.

Website – Double Stitch Creations

The Art Of Paper Folding – Origami

2021 is here! Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year! The celebrations have been simple and joyous. It was about spending time with family at home for most of us. All of us have been thrilled to bring in the new year filled with hope for a better tomorrow. New Year resolutions are not my thing. 2020 has been a difficult year but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming. They say if you want a different outcome then do something different today.

So how about this? Let’s make an Origami model of your dream, of what you see yourself as, of something you want! That model on your desk will keep telling you, you can do it! It will tell you to keep your focus. If it’s something you want to get rid of, make them and throw them away, let them fly away or vanish into mid air. This activity helps you get rid of the negative emotions and works on building the positive ones.

I want to be free like a bird in 2021. Somewhere our freedom has been curtailed because of the pandemic. Free to fly, free to meet people, free to eat wherever you want, free to roam about, free to breathe. These are some of my wishes. So I am going to make birds – ‘As free as a Bird’.

But why Origami? I could do this with anything else? True! Origami because all you need is a sheet of paper. It shows that something so common and simple can turn into just about anything you want – as long as you are really willing to! This exercise also helps generate new ideas for creativity and innovations. Just in case you haven’t heard of it yet, I’m talking about ORIGAMI – The Art Of Paper Folding.

Origami  Animals and Birds
Origami – Animals and Birds

We can create a model or a sculpture by folding a sheet of paper. Origami is a Japanese Art. Usually a traditional Art from Japan will have a given set of rules or instructions to be followed. Traditional Origami does not permit the use of glue or making any kind of cuts in the paper. Hence modified versions have also been adapted and are quiet popular. The methods and techniques of Origami have seen applications not only in the field of Arts and Crafts but also in other fields such as Medicine and Engineering.

Origami is for all. One can learn it at any age. Some popular Types of Origami include 1) Modular Origami or Unit Origami 2) Kirigami 3) Action Origami 4) Wet – Folding Origami

Japan is earthquake prone. Hence the materials used in their houses are light weight. We can notice a significant use of paper in their houses. Another observation I have made is about miniatures in Japan. Being a densely populated country, land is very expensive. This makes them use their space optimally as a resource. Japan always amazes me. Creating things, making the best of what we have and making a come back when you are knocked out – Japan aces it! I see it’s reflections in Origami too.

I wanted to convey that Origami isn’t just about building tiny or toy models. It is real and much more than that. I learnt traditional Origami when I was in the 7th Grade in School. I had books on Origami – a set of five volumes. I remember at one point of time I had made all of them. Folding Paper neat and precise, visualising something in a sheet of paper – builds concentration and imagination. And of course that feeling of ‘I made it’. One of the most fascinating things I have seen made with Origami is ‘Jewellery’.

Materials required are as simple as square sheets of Paper. Ready packets are available in the market at all stores that keep stationery. Books to guide you and inspire you are also easily available. So even if your country has some lockdown restrictions, this is one activity you can easily do at home. Not to mention all the other added benefits it would have such as make you smile and stress- free.

Origami  Cranes
Souvenirs from the Paper Museum in Japan

The most popular design is ‘The Crane’. From animals to objects – there are so many things one can make. Did you know? Now there are apps that can show you some folds. There are websites that show you the popular designs for free. You must definitely try out a few!

This zeal for Origami attracted me to ‘Napkin Folding’. I think Napkin Folding is very similar to Origami. Only here we use a Napkin – a well starched cloth to fold. I was reverse engineering this design at a restaurant when the person in – charge of setting up the table noticed me. He said “would you like to learn that?” Surprised! I immediately said “Sure, why not!” He was kind enough to show me three four different folds. The rest I learnt from books.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started! Share the Origami models you make or about your experience creating them. Have an Arty Week!

Year in a Review

In the Holiday mood, I am also going to take a break next week. Most people have already signed off till New Years. As a shop owners, we are busy making products, posting on social media, settling accounts, packing, shipping and making new and the cycle continues year round. That makes us use our phones for long hours at work. A little digital detox to spend time with yourself, family and nature can rejuvenate us.

My Desk
My Desk! It’s Christmas 🎄

And we can come back in the New Year refreshed and charged up for another year ahead. Many people also use this time to upgrade their skills, read up on books they always wanted to. I started my Blog this year in September 2020. I have 17 Posts by now. The response to the Blog has been overwhelming. It’s been a good journey with your love, support and encouragement.

So I thought I would do this year in a review post. Helps me connect with the new followers too! Here is a list of the posts I have done on Arts and Crafts so far. You may click on the title to go to the post. All these are listed on my Blog page – ‘The Art Life’

So just in case you missed out on reading any of them, you still can. Please note the Blog page shows only the last 10posts and so to see the previous ones you may use the links above or scroll to previous posts.

If you like reading my posts and wish to continue our association, you may click follow or subscribe to the Blog. This will make the posts come to your Email Inbox and you may read them at your convenience.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

December Calendar with a Christmas Wreath that I created Digitally

This is an Instant Digital Download (JPEG) File that can be purchased at my Etsy Shop NMARTWORKS Picture Format opens with any Photo Editing Software. Once you pay, you can instantly download and use.

Selecting Pens and Markers for your Art

Jingle Bells! Jingle Bells! Jingle all the way! Yay! Christmas is coming! And with Christmas comes creativity. I see such amazing Art and Craft ideas on social media. There is so much one can make and do. It is also the time for Gifts. What is the best gift for an Artist? Yes! Art Material. I did a post on Pencils and Pastels earlier. Based on that many friends asked me to do one on Pens and Markers.

We usually refer to Pens and Markers by the name of the brand. That makes it difficult to do a post without mentioning any of the names. In every country there is a particular brand that is popular and widely used by all Artists from that Country. Ink Artists, Illustrators, Manga Artists, Architects, Interior Designers, Fashion Designers, Calligraphers, Students, Crafters and maybe more – All of them use Pens and Markers for their rendering.

If you have read my previous post you would know that this is an all you want to know information post and not a product review or an endorsement post. I was thinking about how to do this post without sounding repetitive? So I thought it would be best to do this in a Q&A format. I have tried my best to answer all the questions that I think can pop up while buying Pens and Markers. In case you have more questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments.

Pens and Markers
The different nibs of Pens and Markers

These are some of my Pens and Markers I arranged to click a picture.

1. Are Pens and Markers different? Hmm, well actually not. They are called Pens or Felt Pens or Sketch Pens or Markers – different names in different countries. They are all Pens available in colours, black, white, glitter and neon shades. The terms are used interchangeably. Like I said we usually call them by the brand name and not as Pens or Markers.

2. Do we get Artist Quality and Student Quality? Technically Yes! But they aren’t really labelled as such. Pens positioned as Artist Pens are Artist quality while the regular ones are Student quality. The pigment, colour and finish for an Artist Pen is better. We also get Industrial Grade Markers. This determines the price points.

3. What mediums are used? We get Oil Based, Water Based, Alcohol Based Pens and Markers. There are Gel Pens, Permanent Ink Pens, Waterproof Ink Pens, Washable Ink and Water Soluble Ink Pens and Markers. The Ink Technology and Ink is different in all of these. That is why two Pens of different brands – both with Waterproof Inks will give different results.

4. Individual or Set? If you are trying a new brand for the first time, it is best to buy different pens individually and try them out. They have testers kept with papers to try them at all stores. I even try the fresh pack Pen before buying to check the nib and ink. The manufacturing dates, import dates and other details are not clearly visible on single pieces. This makes it better to buy them in a set. The drawback is we are not allowed to open a set and try it out. It makes complete sense to buy individual pens to try and once you short list and select which brand you want, it is better to buy them in a set.

5. Which brands are good? I have tried Pens by almost all the well known brands. All of them are good. Brand Loyalty is very strong for Pens and Markers. I have understood that each Pen has Ink that works very well for a purpose. Depending on your use and Artwork you would have to select Pens that suit you by the Trial and Error method. The Art store usually stocks more of the popular ones and of course you know why. Further your location will play a big factor in your selection. Not all brands are available in all countries. Sometimes the Pens that are being imported regularly go out of stock or are priced too high.

6. What do they mean by the numbers on the Pens? The numbers indicate the nib size: for example 01 means a nib for drawing a 1mm thick line while 03 means a nib with 3mm thick line. We also get accented nibs, brush nibs, round nibs and felt nibs. As mentioned above the construction material of the nib and the ink is different in all pens. Further some brands use the numbers for colour coding. We also get dual tip Markers – meaning two different usable nibs on both sides top and bottom.

All in all, it is best to try different Pens on the Paper, carry your own page if you like where you have tried various Pens and buy the ones you think will work best for your work. I have already explained where and how to use each of the mediums in the previous post. Like, if you want the colours to blend: use the watercolour ones while if you don’t want the ink running, best to use the permanent waterproof ink Pens. Even in a simple brush nib Pen we get a lot of variety.

Scribbles Art
My scribbles trying out Pens in rough

The sponge of a brush tip Pen is different by all brands. I usually select a Pen with a medium hardness brush nib. I would like it to turn with pressure but not fray resulting the sponge in tatters. Constantly applying too much pressure on the Pens with very hard nibs can result in sore hands. That is what I meant when I said select Pens that one feels is most comfortable using.

Another important thing to see and note is how the Ink spreads on different papers. Do we get a smooth finish line or a dented one? Does the Ink bleed and spread or create blots and spots? When we apply two strokes next to each other – does the Ink mix or create patches? Does the Ink dry fast when applied or takes hours to dry? Artists would note all this. It makes a difference to their Artwork.

These are all small points but important to check before buying. Many times Art stores mix old and new pens when stocked in the individual Pens section. These pens are expensive and nobody wants to waste money buying a damaged nib or dried up ink Pen or Marker. It takes me at least 15-20mins selecting my Pens even when I know the brands. Last but not the least I compare prices and check for discounts if I buy more pieces. I run out of pens in about three to six months depending on how many Artworks I made. The Inks dry up after about three to five years, if kept lying around.

That lists about all the points I can think of that will help you make an informed purchase decision for the Pens and Markers. Ah! That’s too much. Give me one name and one set – if that is your buying style, I suggest pick any standard well known brand with other Stationery or Art Supplies and buy a set of their Markers. You can’t go wrong. It’s the same for students. However if Art and Craft is your passion, hobby or profession – the choice is yours! Have an Arty Weekend!

Special Tip: Always check the Cap is tightly closed before you put away your Pens and Markers after Use.

Paper Quilling – A World Of Infinite Possibilities

Another simple, easy, colourful and attractive Paper Craft – Paper Quilling, also known as Paper Filigree. Heard about this one? I hadn’t. It wasn’t until my niece asked me if I knew about it. She told me, she got to know about it at school. Her friend had tried it. She was so excited sharing all about it, I thought I had to look it up. I like gifting my nephews and nieces Art Materials for Christmas. Ya! I like playing the Santa. When I went to the store this time I saw Quilling Kits at all shops that keep Art and Craft supplies.

Now I definitely had to try this one! So I bought the kit, read the instructions and did the projects. It was easy to pick up and do. All that it required was creativity and patience. There was one more person I learnt some special tips from – the Aunty at the store. She made loads of Wall Art pieces of Quilling Art and kept them on display at the Art and Craft Supplies store. I told her I would buy it, if she taught me how to use it. That was my first live demo.

Paper Quilling
Paper Quilling Envelopes that I made
Paper Quilling
Another set of Paper Quilling Envelopes that I made

Strips of Paper rolled, shaped and glued to create Artworks is The Art of Paper Quilling. In a more advanced level they make 3D miniatures too. I find it similar to sewing. The paper strips are like threads and the quilling tool my needle. There are so many things we can make. Let’s understand our tools and materials first. All materials are available as a set or individually. We can buy as we like.

Quilling is a fun interesting activity. If you enjoy it, you will not realise how time flies. The kit costs less than a dollar. This is the smallest one – it has colourful quilling strips, the main quilling tool (the needle) and instructions to follow. Other than that you would need regular Craft materials like Glue, Scissors and Card Paper or Art Paper and any embellishments or extra decorations for your own inputs. Optional items would include tweezers and other quilling or measuring tools.

Materials for Paper Quilling
Materials you need

Paper Strips – Cut strips of card paper 3mm or 5mm or 7mm in width and 54cm in length are readily available in the market. They are called Paper Quilling strips. They are available as mixed colours or single colour packs. We can make these at home with a Paper Shredder. I wouldn’t recommend cutting them by hand. The finishing of a precise machine cut paper does make a difference.

Quilling Tool – A ‘U shaped’ needle tip encased in a wooden or plastic casing. Just like we get different sewing needles, we do get a variety of quilling needles too. Yes! It is referred to as quilling needle as well. The main needle – just one is enough to do many designs. Then as you progress, you may invest in more.

Glue – We need glue that is fast drying and assists precise application, otherwise things can get messy. My glue bottle has a tapered tip for spot application. This helps me apply only a dot to lock the edges. Fast drying so that you don’t have to hold the strips for too long.

Additional Tools – Regular Scissors to cut them, tweezers to pick / place / hold them, pins to hold twists and turns in place. I use a pro circle to measure sizes. Craft Mats, Holders, Stencils, Measuring Tools – a lot of things are available to assist the maker. When we need to make multiple pieces of the same thing, it can get tedious and so the additional tools are quite helpful during such times.

Paper Quilling Gift Tag
Gift Tags with Paper Quilling

I’m going to show you two designs and we will make a floral piece out of it. You may use it to decorate your Greeting Cards, make Gift Tags or even as your special Christmas Tree Ornament. The pieces that we make, I’m going to refer to them as beads. With just two types of beads you can make so many different artworks. Please Follow the Steps in the pictures below :-

Making Paper Quilling Beads
Making your first bead

1) Take a paper quilling strip 2) thread the needle with the paper strip such that paper passes between the two points of the needle 3) We need to insert just about 2-3mm through the ‘U shaped’ hole 4) Turn the needle clockwise and roll the paper 5) Make sure it is levelled and tight 6) Glue the loose end and lock the bead.

This is for the first kind of bead. The orange centre piece in the flower. For the green ones I follow the same process but use half of the 54cm length, so it makes smaller ones. To make larger ones we glue another strip at the loose end and continue rolling. Thus making an endless rope or paper strip. We can even glue different colours and create a shaded beads. For the petals the first five steps remain the same.

6) Hold the roll tight and place it in the gap of the pro circle 7) As you keep it, it begins to loosen up 8) Let it loosen up till it fills the size of the circle 9) If it goes beyond, please control it to the size 10) Pick it up and glue the loose end to lock it at this size 11) Pinch one top end after the glue dries and you will get the shape of the petal.

Paper Quilling Christmas Tree Ornament
Christmas Tree Ornament

Variations in this will create different beads. Using a pro circle or any other measuring tool will enable us to make beads of the same size. Also it makes the beads look neat. Manually trying to roll each bead with a gap between turns and then measuring or not using a measuring circle will not give a neat look. With this method there isn’t much room for error. Arrange the beads as shown in the picture and glue them. Add a string to make it an ornament or stick it on card paper to make Cards.

This was the most basic roll method. Then there is the twist method and winding method and the 3D creations as well. Further to enhance our creations we can combine Paper Quilling with other Arts and Crafts and make more unique Artworks. Unfold your imagination and creativity! Have an Arty Weekend!

Book Recommendations – Arts and Crafts

They say a good book is always a good investment. Today all material is available online but I still prefer to take a book, read and learn from it. The online material gets downloaded and saved. Later if I want to refer to it again after a while, I am unable to find it. On the contrary if it is a book ; I can pick up the book, flip to the page, refer to what I was looking for anytime.

The Human Brain does not remember everything it saw or heard at one go. We need to go back and forth to remember and understand things clearly. Besides we don’t usually learn until we actually get our hands into it. That is when the real questions pop and problems happen.

Sometimes google gives the answers but sometimes it just doesn’t seem to understand. Books on hobbies including Arts and Crafts are expensive. One of the reasons most book stores don’t keep them or keep just one or two. The helper at the bookstore would tell me “Ma’am, we have only one. People just read it here. They are expensive so people rarely buy it. If you want the other titles I can order them for you”.

There were times when I would go to the hobby section of every library I visit and check which books they have on Arts and Crafts. Coffee Shops also kept a few books; books people gave them or they collected. Sometimes I would find a good book there – Coffee Table Books.

Collecting books to learn a new Art or Craft became a holiday activity. I would pick magazines during my waiting hours at places, even if they had like just a single article on Home Decor or Crafting. I would still check it up. Another place I would get some good books was the Children’s Reading Corner at Resorts. If it’s in their library and I have been there, the chances are that I have read the book.

My mom had enrolled me for speech and drama classes. Thanks to my teacher there Reading became a habit. Even today I pack books every time I am travelling. On a holiday, you are most likely to find me at a cozy comfortable spot indoors or outdoors with a book. My folks like reading too. So my parents didn’t mind if I bought books and added them to my personal library.

In this article I share about four books that I recommend for Art and Craft Lovers. I have been collecting books for years, so I do not know if they are easily available or you would have to really look for them. We don’t get these online and recently when I checked the local bookstores they didn’t have them either. One place we are likely to find these is the book stalls at Art Fairs or Exhibitions or Art Galleries.

And after all the effort if you do get your hands on these, don’t miss your chance. I have actually managed to learn these Arts and Crafts with the help of the books.

Books on    Arts and Crafts
The Four Books that I have recommended

1) GIFT WRAPPING : The first one is ‘Creative Gift Wrapping’ by Yoshiko Hase. She is a ribbon creator from Japan and this is the 2nd Part of the series. It has 132 different tutorials on Gift Wrapping. In Japan a lot of importance is given to Gift Wrapping: the colour, the ribbon, the paper, the card everything. And they are really good at it! With the festive season coming up, who wouldn’t love some special wrapping tips from the experts!

2) SEWING : The second one is ‘SEW Step-by-Step’ by Alison Smith. She has been a Textiles Tutor at the Liberty Sewing School in London and the Janome Sewing School in Cheshire. Alison also has her own shop – Fabulous Fabrics and a sewing school – Alison Victoria School of Sewing in Leicestershire. Her school is the largest independent sewing school in England. This book really guides and takes you on a complete step-by-step process to everything you need to know about sewing on the machine. A beginners workshop at their training centre when I bought my Janome Sewing Machine along with this book was enough for me. The book has been my go to guide or sewing manual every time I want to try a new project.

3) CANDLE MAKING : Your Christmas Decor would be incomplete without Candles. If you wish to make them at home for your family and friends and need some ideas to get started, then my next book is all you need. It has 20 different projects with items you can make, by yourself at home. The book explains all the tools and materials that you require for different types of candles too. The book ‘CANDLES’ by Diana Civil is great for a holiday activity of Candle Making.

4) NAPKIN FOLDING : Inviting friends and family home for lunch or dinner? This book has 150 ideas on Napkin Folding that surely make an impressive table setting. If you are following a theme or a particular style and want something to match, this book has it all. It is called ‘The Practical Guide to Napkins and Napkin Folding’ by Rick Beech.

Have you read these? If you have read any other books on Arts and Crafts that you have loved, do share about your experience. I would be happy to hear from you and add new books to my collection too! Have an Arty Weekend!

Note: If you are looking for Christmas Gifts to buy, do visit my shops and take a look. I have shops on Etsy, Society6 and Redbubble all three by the same name ‘NMartworks’. If you like something, there are offers and discounts this weekend. Links are on the Home Page. Thank You!

Calligraphy : A Visual Art

It’s an Art, a Visual Art but it looks like handwriting – Calligraphy. In simple words humans made markings with available tools as symbols. Later as characters and scripts developed they began to write using tools available to them. As our writing tools developed, the tools for Calligraphy also changed. Calligraphy is practiced in many countries. The tools they use, the writing styles and scripts differ. I find this art quite fascinating. This one is all about practice, practice and more practice.

I learnt the European Gothic Style of Calligraphy during my school days. Did it help me in any way? My handwriting was decently good and legible. My teacher insisted I use Ink Pens till 5th Grade, after which I was permitted to use ball point pens for writing my notes. I also used Ink Pens for Calligraphy. So it seemed like more fancy writing, just additional handwriting practice in the beginning. I could use it for my school projects. My mom insisted I use my fancy writing skills on Greeting Cards, Gift Tags and Envelopes exchanged on occasions. Gained some love and appreciation there!

Different Styles, Different Nib Sizes

Today, I don’t remember writing an entire page by hand in a long time. Fonts – Typography, Logos and Signatures – Lettering and Graphic Designing. Learning Calligraphy helped me here! I agree, we now use digital tools for these but the basic knowledge remains the same. It gave me finesse in holding the pen, the brush and now the digital pencil. The digital sensors correct the breaks in the strokes and make it look flawless. Even I prefer using the digital tools. I don’t think it is easy to compete against a computer opponent in this case. The computer would win! It has made Typography and Graphics much much simpler and faster. This makes a handmade version – handwritten Calligraphy by a Calligraphy Artist a rare find – unique and beautiful; just watching a Calligraphy Artist paint can be a visual treat by itself.

Now even schools are online, we don’t even use the pen for signatures. We are almost forgetting what it is like to hold a pen. Calligraphy is now mostly used to write names on wedding cards. Even for those we now use digital fonts and print them. So why should I learn it? If that is your argument, then I have to say “Learning this Art has helped me improve my creativity and artistic skills. I don’t think I could have done it any other way. I’m glad I learnt it.”

Brush Pens – Ruffed Brush Tip

Brush Calligraphy is quite popular. Brush Calligraphy and Modern Calligraphy are different. Calligraphy is mostly referred to when using a Pen to write, while you use the brush or brush tip pens to write in Brush Calligraphy. I don’t want to get into the terms and definitions but say that learning one will be different from learning the other. So try your hand at Traditional and Modern Calligraphy as well as Brush Calligraphy. You could be better at one than the other.

Where to start and how to learn this? What material would I require? Is it very expensive to pursue this Art? Do you teach? Wait! Wait! I shall try and answer all these questions. They say ‘Teaching is the best way to learn’. That is why I taught some of my close friends whatever I knew about Calligraphy. It was my first ever experience in teaching. It is always better if you can find someone to teach you this Art but if you cannot then the next best thing is to buy a Book. This Art is all about practising. A teacher would also need just one or two sessions – to show you how to hold the pen, how to make the strokes, show you one or two writing styles. The rest depends on your interest and practice. A book will do that and may be show you more writing styles to practice.

Calligraphy Art – My Desk

A Calligraphy Set would have one Ink Pen, changeable Nibs of different sizes and Ink Tubes. This is the smallest set. Larger sets with additional tools are also available. A ready set is most likely to include a book with at least one writing style. This will be a very basic one. Then you can download practice sheets available online. We used regular Ink Pens. We bought Calligraphy (4-6 different size) Nibs. See the loose nibs in the picture, I still have them. The Ink was permanent Blue or Black Ink (regular Ink Pot). We even got nib cutters to cut the nib. Unfortunately loose or only Calligraphy Nibs are not available anymore. So you could buy the most basic Calligraphy Set and a good book with different writing styles and practice sheets.

Wow! Why are these Ink Pens expensive? The nib of a Calligraphy Pen is accented. It gives a thin upstroke and a thick downstroke. For larger font size one needs a broader or larger nib size. To begin with nib sizes 1& 2 are good to write in regular handwriting books. The red blue ruled books we use when we learn handwriting are perfect to learn Calligraphy too. Then of course you would just need a single line ruled book or no lines as you progress. This part is similar to our handwriting practice books.

Calligraphy with Markers

We get sketch pens or markers with accented tips too. These are used for Calligraphy. The difference is the tip is much softer and so the pressure to be applied is different. The pressure applied to write with a writing instrument that has a metal tip, wooden tip or fibre tip will always be different. Similarly brushes are used for Brush Calligraphy. We get Brush tip markers too. It is cheaper to get markers and we can always use them for other Arts and Crafts. One of the reasons Brush Calligraphy is popular. If Calligraphy really interests you and you wish to take it to another level, you may want to invest in a Traditional Calligraphy Pen and perhaps get trained with a professional Calligraphy Artist.

One special tip here : All these pens will be labelled as Calligraphy Pens on their pack at the Art Store. So the onus is on us to select what we are looking for. We definitely don’t need all of them. Best to buy a book and then the Pens if that makes more sense. Choose the writing instrument you are most comfortable using.

The Ink, the Paper, the Writing Instrument and most importantly your Style of Writing. All of this matters in Calligraphy. Even if I write the same thing, with the same pen on a different paper or with different ink or by applying different pressure, the result will be different each time. Hence only with practice and experience an Artist will be able to create those amazing works.

All said and done. This amazing Art seems to be dying out and getting replaced with digital forms. It may be difficult to find a tutor but don’t give up. In the end it will all be worth it – an enriched learning experience. Have an Arty Weekend!

Crafting Paper Flowers

Paper Flowers ; Decorate Paper Bags, Gift Tags or Greeting Cards for the Festive Season

‘For it is in giving, that we receive’ – St.Francis of Assisi

The Festive Season is coming soon. I love to select Gifts, wrap them up with fancy wrapping, add a small hand written note; thus making it special. Everyone likes to feel loved. Sometimes a thoughtful gesture and a little extra touch can bring so much joy. Today I’m sharing a very easy method to craft simple ‘Paper Flowers’. These flowers look pretty on Greeting Cards, Gift Tags or as Fancy Gift Wraps. Alternatively I have even used these to decorate Paper Bags, Pen Stands and even my School Projects. It takes just about 10mins to make these and the material required is usually available at home or can be easily purchased. You may creatively use materials from whatever is available to you, no need to buy anything.

Materials for Paper Flowers

Materials Required:

1) Sheets of Coloured Paper – Ready Packs of Coloured Paper for Crafting OR Printed Paper from discarded magazines OR Used Wrapping Paper ; As long as the Paper is foldable. Laminated thick sheets won’t work. Ready Packets are available as A4 or Square Paper Sheets in various colours.

2) Glue, Scissors and a Pencil

Optional Decorations

3) Paper Strips ( from a shredding machine) or Ready Paper Quilling Strips [Optional]

4) Embellishments [Optional]

5) Markers and Colours for any additional creativity [Optional]

Making the Paper Flowers – Part 1

Making the Flowers :-

Take a square sheet of Paper. Fold at mid length along the dotted lines as shown in the picture. Once again fold along the dotted line to get a folded square. Next fold matching opposite corners to get a triangle. Last fold, fold the triangle into half at the dotted line as shown. Draw and mark the shape of the Petal and cut along the blue dotted line.

How to fold the Paper

Please note the centre of the paper being folded becomes the pivot and centre of the flower. So all folds are made accordingly. Look at the reference picture below for help. It is shown as a green dot reference. Open up the Flower once it is cut. Make more flowers smaller and smaller each time. Layer them by placing one inside another.

Apply glue as a dot only at the centre to stick the flowers. Add a paper dot in the centre of the flower using a quilled circle or a punch hole from paper or an embellishment. Cut Leaves. I have shown two-three different leaves. Choose the ones you feel are easy. Arrange all this with optional decorations on your base Paper.

Making Paper Flowers – Part 2

Special Tip: It is always a good idea to make a bunch of flowers and leaves in odd numbers. Example 3 Flowers -5 leaves. It looks more natural.

Making it colourful and neat is more important. One does not require too much precision in this. Someone without much practice will also be able to make a flower as pretty as another. Anything natural is not perfectly in a line. The beauty lies in the imperfections. Creatively I used the extra crumbs from discarded cutouts of this paper as confetti in the background. It looks better when the background is complete. Go ahead try these and let me know if you enjoyed. Have a Crafty Weekend!

Let’s make Greeting Cards with ease

My Niece gave me a handmade Greeting Card recently. It felt so nice to know that someone thought of me and made me something special. I feel giving someone a handmade Greeting Card adds a personal touch. With the festive season approaching I thought it would be nice to share a simple and easy method to make a handmade Greeting Card using Ink Pens and Watercolours. I have shared two designs but you can always be creative and add your special touch to it. You can do traditional designs or even contemporary illustrations with the same technique.

First let us collect the Art Material that we will need :

1) Pencil and Eraser – I usually use a 2B pencil and a regular eraser

2) Ink Pens of any good brand with Waterproof Inks or Archival Inks – Waterproof will be written on the pens. These are available in different tips ; sizes, colours and brushes. A notable feature of these pens is that once the ink dries, you can easily use watercolour over them. It won’t smudge.

3) Drawing Paper or Card Paper with a minimum thickness of 180 – 200GSM. Basically a paper suitable for Watercolour Paintings. A notable feature here is that the paper absorbs the water and doesn’t peel off with use of water. Ideally 300 GSM is very good for Watercolour but it is too thick to fold for a Greeting Card.

4) Watercolours (Any colour; Tubes or Cakes) and Brushes

5) Compass, Ruler, Protractor and/or other Measuring Tools (Optional)

The process:-

1) Draw your design using the measuring tools in Pencil.

2) Use a pen with a thin tip like ‘005’ or ‘01’ and outline the Art. Do only the main outline. Don’t fill in the details yet. The idea is to block the main markings which will assist when you paint after doing the background. If you are very confident you can directly paint after the background but for most people these markings make it neat and easy.

3) Erase the extra pencil markings.

4) Use watercolours and shade the background with colours of your choice. Kindly avoid gouache paint or thick paint, it will make the steps listed below difficult.

5) Let it Dry completely. I list this as an important step. This is so that your pen tips do not get spoilt with moisture or excess colour that isn’t dried yet. It is the same reason I asked to avoid thick paint.

6) Now paint the details to your Design using the waterproof ink pens. This will be the final look.

Step by Step DIY Greeting Cards

You may use colour pencils, coloured pens and embellishments to add some aesthetic touches to your work. There you go! Last but not the least write your personal message and our beautiful handmade Greeting Card is ready! Wishing everyone a very Arty Weekend!

Pro Tip – You may also combine this with Paper Quilling and Stamping.