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Archive for the ‘Hint & Tips’ Category

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Today I’m going to share my research on alcohol markers. I have seen others get wonderful results with this kind of pen but when I tried to use them some years ago, the fumes from the alcohol gave me such bad headaches, that I gave up on them. The brand I had been using was Letraset Promarkers. That brand is now owned by Winsor and Newton. I have been drawing some chibi style charcters and its going so well that I wanted to give alcohol markers another try, so lets have a look at the options I was looking at.

Typo Markers

Given my poor results in the past I didn’t want to go for a large set straight off. I had an email from WHSmith with 3 for 2 type stuff and had a look at some markers there. Typo was one listed a set of 36 pens for £30. https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/typo-artists-dual-nib-marker-pen-36-pack/9357067236486.html (correct at time of writing 2021) but no mention of what type of nibs they have so off I went to You Tube to find out more. The video I found was

Jasmin O’Grady’s Typo markers vs Copic markers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqkH8PBJWSY

Ohuhu Alcohol Markers

Makers site: Ohuhu https://www.ohuhu.com/ USA site but for the most up to date info check here first. Looks like on their own site there are now individual markers available and a colourless blender.

Buying hints, at the time of writing I found sets of Ohuhu on Amazon UK, not individual pens. (keep an eye on the description on your set of choice, there are different nib options so check carefully to get the nib combination you really want. Some sets are BRUSH and CHISEL others are Fine and chisel.

Review, this video is by DrawingWiffWaffles, called A big bucket of 120 Ohuhu Brush markers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCAG3ctMxKg its a good one as it also has a review of a sketch book by the same brand. Keep an eye on the dates listed on the videos, information correct at time of creation but over time, the range available has changed and what nib types and the makers site in 2021 lists individual pens as now available.

Review, The Fruigal Crafter Lindsay Weirich has a video form 2019 called New Ohuhu Brush tip alcohol Marker and she also describes how to refil them with ink from other brands https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMgfJ2KZIvk

Tutorial for how to blend alcohol markers by Lucid Neema https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbZQFRE8wCk

Alcohol marker comparison, Kasey Golden shows 10 brands of alcohol markers compaired here. title Which alcohol marker is the best, testing 10 brands. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OG8RNbUt8c Useful comparison for price, colour (number of colours available) brush nib, refillable, single, availability, swatch, smudge, layer, blend. Products compaired Ohuhu Markers Arrtx Markers Illo Hue Markers Spectrum Noir Markers Artist’s Loft Markers Spectra AD Markers Prismacolor Markers Master’s Touch Markers Winsor & Newton Promarkers Copic Markers Strathmore® Marker Paper.

Copic markers

I didn’t research this in depth, due to the cost, but Im aware that these are loved by many alcohol marker users, so I have included some information here.

Copic official site in Japan https://copic.jp/en/

Where to buy Though they are available in many high street retailers and online art stores too. I link to MAIN makers site as information on blogs n forums and review videos can date and no longer be the current information, so going direct to a makers site, will allow you to find out what is currently true whenever you read this.

ALL about Copic, Here is a 2014 video from Pop Sketcher visiting the Copic marker stand at Comicon. Lots of useful info about choosing paper type based on what you are creating and your style and so much more. MUST SEE Copic markers mega product tour by Pop Sketcher https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgMhTvuSLNo This really was a well titled and well made video. Id definately recommend you start here, and then research out from there for what is available in your price budget once you understand all this a little better.

Wow really learnt a lot from that video by Pop Sketcher, I like that Copic’s are from Japan, coz Japan KNOWS ink and paper. I’m gonna have to try these at some point. Ciao are same ink, same nibs as the sketch but just smaller barrels so they are a little cheaper to try out, but the smaller size means you will need to refill them more often. but so much to learn on here. If ur brand new to markers even if you don’t go with this brand, this video is amazing for all the technical info to help you choose and understand the products n numbering system.

Which did I go for?

I have tried Spectrum Noir products before and personally I didn’t love the material used on the nibs, I don’t have the funds for Copics, though Im not ruling out trying a few if I get on ok with others. The cautious within me was very tempted by the Typo but not sure on the nibs on those and felt I would be repeating the not enough colours to blend so well. The ohuhu is very tempting and my inner magpie wants ALL the colours, but sensible me also not wanting a million pens; cost plus storage issues, plus not having tried them before to know how intense the smell will be with these.

So after watching a lot of videos I went back to Amazon for another look round. Then I found a brand I hadn’t remebered as somewhere that did markers, Sationary Island. https://stationeryisland.com/ Now if you read this blog a lot you will know I LOVE their journals, I have lots of their dot grid ones and a plain paper one too. The quality has been amazing.

I had a look on You Tube and the only video review I found on the Stationary Island Alcohol Markers, was from Coby Coxen Marker from April 2020 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AkCumNz9sY

Why did I choose them, firstly as I just said the fantastic quality of their journals, leads me to believe they aren’t gonna put their name on a rubbish product. Also the price, as someone wanting to try this kind of marker out they have just 11 greys for £7.99 and you can really customise which colours you are interested in, with the smaller sets, just skin tones, just the brighter colours, or go all in for the 96. Wish I’d waited till morning. I bought on amazon for £42.99 but on their own site is £34.99 and free delivery over £5. Well there u go, that’s what happens when u research late at night instead of waiting till morning!

Another reason for choosing them is that on Amazon reviews they said they were less smelly than other alcohol marker than the review had from other brands, and for me thats a real big selling point too as I get headaches from the ones I had from Letraset. DOn’t think there is a blender pen in the set so I ordered a Tombow blender pen for alcohol markers and a Ohuhu sketch pad for the paper, because if I have learnt anything with crafting over the years, sometimes its YOU and you need to practice and learn a new skill but it CAN also be about using the right product with the right surface for it.

One last thing, if you are going to use alcohol markers protect the surface UNDER the paper you are working on, Im going to use the teflon sheet that I use for ink blending, its thin and will catch any bleed through to stop it going on the table or the next page on the book. Just know its gonna bleed through to the back of the page you are working on pretty much whatever you do, so if that is gonna bother you, either choose different markers to be ready to paste the next journal page to it to hide that, or glue in some other ‘thing’ to hide it. If you have a look at my video ‘how to make alcoholic baubles, the Ranger Alcohol blending solution will clean up marker residue from glass surface and off the craft sheet. I got my non stick sheet from Lakeland as its same stuff and cheaper on a roll than the art branded ones.

Lakeland magic liner sheet, its non stick so stuff wipes off it and perfect when using alcohol ink place a piece of this under your project to stop the ink bleed through going on your table or the next page in your book. I also use this for papercraft for ink blending with foam with ink applicators works a treatwith this. The one available now is 33cm x 100 cm for 10.99. https://www.lakeland.co.uk/5571/Magic-Reusable-Non-Stick-Baking-Tray-Liner-Sheet-33-x-100cm so you can cut it to any size you need. Its heat resistant so great to use under projects like heat embossing and triple embossing but because HEAT will go THROUGH it, you will want to protect from the heat from your heat gun. When you want to store it either leave it FLAT or ROLL it, don’t fold it or you will break the fibers within it.

Alcoholic Baubles https://billiescraftroom.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/video-tutorial-alcoholic-baubles/

Links

You Tube channel shout outs for videos I’ve linked to in this post.

If you want to know my fave places to buy art supplies check out my

Art tab https://billiescraftroom.wordpress.com/art/

Look for art supplies and retailers https://billiescraftroom.wordpress.com/art/art-supplies-manufacturers/

best wishes and thanks for reading, sorry for lack of pictures but my new markers haven’t arrived yet. So I’ll pop a picture in after they arrive.

Stay safe and make art, or what ever makes you feel softer and safer in times of challenge

Billie.

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I’d like to share a video I made a while ago, where I share the books that I have found good companions for self care when I am struggling with anxiety and depression.

What helps each of us is as unique as we are. What helps me moment to moment varies too. Sometimes a gentle story on a Kindle reading it outloud to me helps, other times I’m looking for an activity, like the art, journalling and so on. I adore the Kate Allan books they have been wonderful for when I can’t process thoughts feelings and emotions and just want to hear words of ecouragement that one day it will be ok, even if it isn’t right now.

Links

Books mentioned in this film are;

I have included links to these books on Amazon UK, but I am not sponsored in any way for this.

And the one I forgot to add in the film is by Johanna Basford

I also enjoy Johanna Basford books, her drawing inky wonderlands is brilliant here is her video walk though of that book. I forgot to add that one in the video I made, this video is JOHANNA’S.

Check out her You Tube channel as she often does video tutorials for drawing and its also soothing to watch her colour in. Johanna Basford on You Tube

I hope you find something here that is helpful, for yourself of someone you know. Please share it so others can find it. If you too, are struggling with your mental health, please look at the post I put up yesterday which has links out to sites of support. Some days we can, some days we can for a little while, and somedays we just can’t. Its not great, its not fun, its not a fad or fashion and for a lot of us its not all over in a month or so. Be kind to yourself when you are struggling. The media says a lot and not all of it helpful. Take in what helps and walk away from the rest. Its such a personal thing as to what each of us find helpful in the moment. This post isn’t trying to tell anyone what to do, say or think, its just sharing what was holding me safely in the moment I wrote it or filmed it.

I own the fact its an opion NOT a fact, and not dummping this opinion on anyone. I hope you find what helps you feel softer, safer and makes this moment feel a bit more possible for you. Stay safe and I hope the day is as kind to you as possible x

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie x

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With the help of my pal Hope (Wichtel doll Mona Muller), I would like to share with you  some wonderful self help cards made by Blurt. The Blurt Foundation is fantastic, they have the most supportive email newsletters and sell Buddy Boxes which are great for self care when you are feeling stressed or anxious. Blurt also sell lots of items individually. The self help card pack I’m showing today is ’54 Ways to Ease the Anxious Mind’.

Blurt 54 Ways to Ease the Anxious Mind

Hope shows you one of the cards from Blurt’s self help card deck; 54 Ways to Ease the Anxious Mind

As the title suggests, the deck has 54 cards, each with an idea to try, to help ease anxious feelings. You can use them anyway that feels right for you. Shuffle and see which card falls out of the pack. Perhaps you want to use one card a week or one a day, as a thought for the day kind of thing. For me, when anxiety is getting bad, I also find them useful to just sit with and flip through the pack reading each one slowly. Just doing that, even when you don’t feel you can do more, is also calming.

The cards are printed on sturdy cardstock with a linen feel, they are pastel colours which is soothing. As someone who has dyslexia, I find the font style is one I can read as the letters are quite thick, which makes them easier to read. The cards were designed by Fern Choonet and measure 63.5mm x 88.8 mm, which is great, if like me you have small hands. Making them small enough to pop in a pocket or in your bag to take around with you.

***In case you are wondering the doll is MINE and NOT included with the cards 😉 ***

If you are creating a Self Care box, to have a collection of calming things to look at, listen to or read, then these cards would be the perfect addition to that.

Links

If you would like to get hold of a pack of your own, please visit Blurt. There are also other card decks available and during the lockdown, those wonderful people at Blurt have reduced the card packs to half price, less than £5!

Come on, you deserve a treat. A little drop of happy post is good for us all. You can also choose have them shipped to a friend.

  • The Blurt Foundation This is their home page, do pop by they have so many helpful resources there.
  • Self Care Card Packs Here is just one page from their shop, showing the range of card packs. If links change over time, go to Blurt site above, look for button ‘shop with purpose’ then ‘self helpful’ and under that ‘card packs’.
  • 54 Ways to Ease the Anxious Mind This is the card pack featured in todays post.

I can also highly recommend signing up for their newsletter, they are such encouraging supportive things to read.

As a child I enjoyed playing with dolls and I’m finding them great companions now too. What was it you loved as a child and might want to do again right now?

Hope and I are sending you the biggest and gentlest of blanket hugs.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, stay safe and I’ll see you again soon

Billie x

PS Sorry our picture today was a bit flashed out, its gone dark n wet here, there just isn’t good photography light anywhere in the house today and its set wet all week, so I didn’t want to miss posting and went with what I had.

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Do you see beautiful art created by a Gelli plate but still wonder if its for you? I love mine but it took a while before I bought one, so I’m sharing the things that I thought might be issues, that turned out not to be. If you have questions about the Gelli, leave me a comment and I’ll try and help answer them.

6x6" Gelli Plate by Gelli Arts

6×6″ Gelli Plate by Gelli Arts

  1. Does it smell? No. This was a big one for me as I am very sensitive to scented things and I was worried that this would smell of chemicals or have some other kind of smell. The Gelli plate has virtually no smell, if you really get your nose down to it and really sniff hard, you can just and I mean barely detect a slight sweet smell, a little like caramel sugar, but its not strong. You have to almost have your nose in contact with the plate to get it.
  2. Is it greasy/slimey? No. I was expecting a silicone coating or a greasy film that would leave residue on my hands and brayer, but it does neither. It feels a bit like a well polished table, slick but no residue that makes your hands or tools feel strange.
  3. Is it easy to clean? SO easy! Spray water on any paint on the surface and use a damp cloth or rag to wipe it away. If you find stubborn dried paint, apply wet paint over it and you will find it will peel off with your next print.
  4. Is it hard to store? Nope, just make sure you put the plastic film back on both sides of the plate and it stores in the packaging it came in.
  5. What do you put it on? It says to be careful what surface you use it on, so what do you put it on? 1-4 were answered by Gelli themselves on their various videos but this was a killer for me for ages. Then I saw a You Tube video (soz don’t know who) and she put hers on a glass cutting mat (UNUSED please) I had a Slice cutting mat that had never been used and it worked a treat! I could move the plate as needed but the grippy feet on the mat kept it in place. Perfect. The reason for the concern is that the surface of the plate is very sensitive, if you leave it in contact with print or texture it will take on that texture so spoiling the plate. Because of the natural oils in the plate, if you leave the plate on an absorbent surface it could leave a stain on that surface (I’m guessing, kind of like Blue tac did on your posters left up for years 😉 )
  6. How long will it last? I contacted the company and at the time of writing they have been making these plates for two years, so its still a young product but they have had no reports of plate failures yet. Follow the care information on the packaging to ensure you don’t use anything on the plate that is known to damage it and you should be fine.

Well those were the deal breaker questions I wanted answered before I took the plunge, how about you? Have I answered your concerns or do you still have questions? Leave me a comment and tell me what you think of Gelli plates, do you love the, or are you still on the fence?

Links

If you missed it last week, here is my Product Review for the Gelli Plate.

Bear in mind I’m just a user of the product and not sponsored by the company. If you want to see what the makers are saying about this product, check out their websites below.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie 🙂

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Have you been longing for a sewing machine? Perhaps you have a budget in mind or the family have started asking what you would like for Christmas or your birthday. Rather than individual presents, maybe they would be interested in going in together, to help towards the cost of your dream machine. Ohh the possibilities, so how do you choose which machine is right for you? Read on for helpful tips to narrow the search.

My First Sewing Machine

My First Sewing Machine; Brother BM2600

There are so many options, how do I choose which machine is right for me?

Here are some helpful questions to ask, to help you narrow the choice.

  • What do you want to make?
  • What comes with the machine?
  • What extra feet or accessories are available for your choice of machine and how much do they cost?
  • Budget, have a figure in mind that you are hoping to spend, then do some research as to what is available for that price.
  • Do you know anyone else who sews, who you could ask about the machine they use?
  • Look up the main manufacturers of machines [see links below] to see what is available

What would you like to use the sewing machine to make?

If this is your first machine, pretend for a moment that you can afford anything, and already know how to sew anything that comes into your mind. Now write a list of all the things you would like to create with your new machine. You now have this list it will help lead your choice as some machines are better for some jobs, than others.

For example if you mainly want to do a few clothing repairs and have the option of trying some craft style projects, then you don’t need huge numbers of stitches. Machines with fewer stitches are often cheaper and you could get a much better quality machine with fewer stitches than for the same budget if you wanted lots more stitch options.

If you are thinking more home furnishing, curtains etc then you will be using much heavier weights of fabric, so go for a sturdier machine whose motor can better cope with these things.

Feet & Accessories

Now that you have your dream list of things you would like to create with your machine, have a look at some of the main manufacturers of sewing machines and what is available. When you see a machine you like, download the manual to see how easy/difficult the machine looks like it will be to use.

Not all shops or online retailers have much information about individual machines so getting hold of the manual is a good way to compare machines and find out just what they are capable of. It will also let you discover what comes in the box and hopefully what other accessories and feet are available for that machine.

Feet

There will be a selection of feet that come with your machine, how many there are is likely to be driven by your budget and which machine you choose. With your dream list of projects, have a look to see what feet are needed for those kinds of project and check their pricing. The last thing you want is to discover  in a years time is that your great bargain can’t grow with you as there aren’t more feet available so now you can’t do half the projects you had planned, or the feet to make it do so, are prohibitively expensive.

Room to grow with your sewing machine

You have a choice, buy a basic machine with the full intention to learn the ropes on it and expect to trade up to a bigger better one as your skills improve or by doing some research that I’ve mentioned above, getting a little more expensive machine, that will give you the option of adding extra feet as your sewing horizons expand with your confidence.

One thing I can promise you, is that if you get bitten by the sewing bug, you will be astonished at how quickly you want to do more than you ever imagined when you first bought your machine. When I bought mine, I ‘just’ wanted to make bags, perhaps alter a few hems. Three years later and I’m now very keen to try dressmaking, nothing earth shattering but being short I find trousers almost impossible to buy to fit. I like cotton skirts but often their prices are painful, I’d like to try to make some of those too.

Now I’m not saying making your own clothes will be cheaper, sometimes it will, sometimes it will cost the same, and sometimes it will cost more BUT it does give you more options for colours, fabrics and styles that YOU choose, not what the shops say you should want.

Getting help

If you have friends or family that sew, see if you can use their machine and ask them what they love or hate about it. If this isn’t an option check out the many sewing forums online and see what machines people on there are using, ask questions and have a natter. Better to do this now, than to drop a load of hard-earned cash on a machine, that in three months you regret getting.

Storage

Now I know this sounds a bit daft, but do spare a thought for what you will do with your machine, when you aren’t using it.

The reason I say this, is because some machines are a lot heavier than others and if you are needing to store you machine away in the cupboard and haul it out when you want to use it, suddenly the weight of the machine could become a big issue. If the machine will be out on a desk, you want to protect it from dust, so check out what covers the machine comes with or if there are bags available for it.

If you have the space and funds there is a fantastic company called Horn who produce the most amazing cabinets for sewing machines. The have a gas lift to raise your machine to working height, and press again to store away again into the cabinet. There are many options at various price points depending on your budget and available space.

Links

Do have a look at the  Textiles Tab for links to;

It’s also a good idea to look through some catalogues for inspiration and options. I ordered one from Jaycotts last weekend, OK my wish list grew, but it was helpful to have items listed side by side to compare sizes and features.

Oh dear another LONG post, I really need to work on short n sweet rather than epic essays don’t I! Anyway I hope you find this post helpful, these are the tips I’ve picked up along the way and if they save you some time and money along the way, then its been worth the hard work looking up all these links.

Happy Sewing

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie 🙂

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After a sewing session I looked down dismayed at the state of the carpet, covered in threads! If you find yourself in the same situation and also have a bad back so fighting with the hoover or bending down to pick them up is impossible, try this quick and simple solution.

Easy clean up after sewing

Easy clean up after sewing

You Will Need

  • Pair of scissors
  • Parcel tape
  • Your feet

Method

  • Before you wrap your feet, go to the area where the thread is! Safety first, do NOT use this concept on stairs!
  • Sit down then, take your parcel tape and wrap it round the widest part of your foot with the sticky side on the outside.
  • Overlap the end of the tape and finish by folding over the end of the tape, to make it easier to remove later.
  • If  there is a lot of thread on the floor, wrap the other foot as well.
  • Now just walk about and the dropped threads will stick to the tape and you don’t need to bend down to get them.

When moving from an area that’s finished to the next, balance on your heels if you can, otherwise fluff from the carpet will fuzz up your tape while you get there 😉

Options/Added Extras

When doing a large area, if your tape fuzzes before you have finished. Swing the tape around your foot, so the fluffy side is now on the top part of your foot and the clean sticky side is underneath 🙂

Simple eh! Could also be used to pick up beads BUT careful not to do acrobatics in the process and don’t stand on glass or other delicate beads 😉 For those, go with foot of tights over the end of a hoover pipe 😉

Best wishes and thanks for reading see you soon

Billie 🙂

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Last month I spent AGES sorting out my ribbon box. There were ends of ribbon everywhere and as quickly as I wound it back on the reel, it kept escaping back and getting out of control again grr. Now I’ve seen dispensers for ribbon, but most seem to be on the lines of holes in assorted boxes for the ends of ribbon to poke out of. I don’t want to get the whole box out each time, but I do want the ribbon under control, here’s my very quick n simple way of making a ribbon dispenser that will stop your ribbon un-ravelling from the roll, in the box, or on your table.

Make your own Ribbon Dispenser

Make your own Ribbon Dispenser

You Will Need

Make your own Ribbon Dispenser

Make your own Ribbon Dispenser

  • Short lengths of flat ribbon, nothing too slippery
  • Rolls of ribbon
  • Scissors

Method

Most rolls of ribbon have a central hole, where some people thread the reels onto dowls.

1. Take a length of flat ribbon and thread it through the hole in the core of the reel.

2. Tie a double knot on top of the reel. Notice the direction of the ribbon on the left, just means don’t tie over the free end of the ribbon.

Make your own Ribbon Dispenser

Make your own Ribbon Dispenser

3. Lay about an inch of ribbon across the knot

4. Tie another double knot over the top of the ribbon, don’t pinch the ribbon, just tight enough to secure it.

Make your own Ribbon Dispenser

Make your own Ribbon Dispenser

This can be used with any ribbon on a reel, its a great way to stop your ribbons getting in a tangle 😉

Options/Added Extras

If you like a pretty finish, you can finish by tying a bow at the top of the reel. Make sure you have tied the double knots above and below the ribbon on the reel first. If you don’t then if the bow undoes, your ribbon will escape again!

Now you can pull out just the length you need without the rest of the ribbon falling off the roll. Just leave a 1″ tail of ribbon after the knot, so the ribbon on the reel can’t escape. This is most useful for silky satin ribbons and those pesky but beautiful organza ribbons.

It also means you can take out a single roll of ribbon without the other ribbons tangling or without the need to punch holes and haul out the whole box of them when you know just the one you want.

Hope you give it a try, it’s really easy and makes using ribbon much more fun and less grrr

Best wishes and thanks for reading see you soon

Billie 🙂

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