‘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!

The Clay Effect – Air Dry vs. Bake

Nature has it’s way of healing. Clay has been used for making arts and crafts since times immemorial. An easily available, natural material, used to make numerous household and decorative items ; mud and clay also have cooling properties. Playing in mud or working with clay can have therapeutic effects too.

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai has a section dedicated to the evolution in this art. They take us through different types of clay that were used and the evolution in designs of the objects made from clay. Yes! Even though it is called ‘pottery’ world over, many artisans have unique methods in : mixing the clay, making the art and designs and drying the objects.

I got to work on the potter’s wheel thrice. We made pots of different designs each time. I don’t think I can do it all by myself though. Pottery is a very skilled art. We definitely need help from the artisan for the start and the finish. At summer camps they call a local artist and arrange for the potters wheel as an added attraction. One thing that I clearly noticed is, that all the potters had a different mix of clay. They used the local soil or mud and mixed it with other ingredients such as minerals to prepare their clay.

Once the pot was dry, I would decorate and paint it. ‘Pot Decorating and Painting’ as they call it, is an art anyone would enjoy. Those who work in the kitchen might find it similar to working with a dough. We also make toys or models from clay. India is a country of festivals where we make idols of gods and goddesses from clay. Clay sculpting is a very well known and age old art form here. The ‘Diyas’ we make during the festival ‘Diwali’ are an example of painting clay pots and lamps.

Then there is another art, where we use mud or clay to decorate the walls. It is called ‘Lippan Art’. ‘Lippan Art’ is a traditional art in India where mud mouldings are used to make decorative designs on walls or panels. Thereafter the entire panel or wall is painted in white. Once dry they embellish it with mirrors. It is definitely worth a try if you get a chance. Essentially in white, we also get them in coloured designs. Workshops in Lippan Art are held during the summer holidays.

These crafts are best done in their studio settings or at the artisans place. In India as tourists when we visit the countryside or village, we may get a chance to try them. Whenever I visit the interiors I make it a point to learn, try a local art or interact with the local artisans. It is very insightful and is my idea of a fun and interesting holiday. These clay arts are difficult to do in a home setup. At home, we can make other items that have a simpler process.

For arts and crafts at home, we use Clay that is available at art and craft stores. Basically for hobby crafts and crafts at home there are two types of clay : one is the air drying and the other one that needs to be baked. We can use them to make many artistic objects from the comforts of our home. I have made wall murals, decorated wooden and glass panels, mirrors, jewellery and toy models with both types of clay. Yes! I know friends who have made saleable products from these. They are now successful small businesses.

‘Lamasa’ is a clay craft where the clay is coloured using natural ingredients from the kitchen. The clay is a type of a dough made from corn flour. The process includes mixing and heating the clay dough. Varnish is applied to the dried clay models for lustre. Statues and sculptures made using this technique are expensive and famous world over. Have you heard of it?

Plaster of Paris (POP) is also a kind of clay used for craft projects. POP Sheets are used to make decorative ceilings. We also mix ceramic powder with glue to form a paste. Fill it in cones (like mehendi) and make designs. I have used this method in making traditional Indian folk style wall murals.

Unfortunately I made these artworks more than a decade ago and I don’t have pictures to share. If in future I make these again, I will be happy to share them. There are loads of images, designs and videos on all these crafts online, if they interest you.

There isn’t a recommended type of clay here. It is to understand one’s crafting process and decide which clay will be suitable. There are some differences in properties and methods on processing both types of clay. We need to understand these differences to choose the clay best suited for our project.

Air Drying Clay – As the name suggests, this clay hardens naturally if left open in air. It is available as two separate materials to be mixed well for a chemical reaction. The clay made from mixing hardens over time in natural air. In the meantime we have to shape it. The time we get is barely a few hours. This clay is a bit messy and sticky to use. So, we dust it with talcum powder while working. This clay is either black or white. We can paint it with acrylic paints after it dries completely.

Bake Clay – This clay is available in a variety of colours. It is oil based and needs heat treatment to produce a chemical reaction for bonding. The clay hardens only if it is baked in the oven for the correct time at the right temperature. It is quite advantageous for an artisan to work with it, if the design or product is time consuming.

For my artworks I have used the white clay of the brand ‘M-Seal’. White so that it is a good base to paint any colour shade. Moulding Clay by ‘Fevicryl’ is also good. For the bake clay, I used the pack from the art store by the brand ‘JAGS’. There are other brands and types, but I am happy using these. If you wish to try, you may use the same ones for your crafts.

Here is a short intro to clay crafts. Have you tried any of these? Do share your experiences in the comments below. Have an arty week ahead!

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

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.