Polishing Silver with Natural Ingredients vs. Silver Polish

I bought this little bowl a few days ago, you might have seen it in my first thrift finds of 2015 post. Silver Plated Small Bowl

It was pretty badly tarnished, and on sale for only $2. The first thing to figure out before you try to polish any metal is what it’s made of, silver plate, sterling silver etc. The easiest method is to check for a label. On the bottom of my bowl, was the faintest remains of what once said Paul Revere Reproductions. I’ve seen these plenty of times before at thrift stores. They were made in sterling silver and silver plated varieties. In America sterling silver will always have either the word sterling or the number 925 on it. Sterling silver is 92.5% silver hence the 925. If no label is present it is most likely silver plated. Which is copper electroplated with a thin layer of silver. With old pieces there is also a good chance you can look at the silver finish and find a couple spots that look coppery colored.

I didn’t find any sterling silver markings on the bowl, plus there are several spots on the inside that are copper colored. To polish silver plating the most important thing is to be gently since you are an infinitesimal amount of silver away from a copper piece. Here is the bowl interior before polishing:

Silver Plated Bowl Polish

I mixed up a little water with baking soda, and applied it to half the bowl with a toothbrush:

Silver Plated Bowl Polish

Immediately there was grey sludge instead of white paste. I found that letting the mixture sit on the tarnish loosed it without too much need to scrub hard with the brush. Here is the end result after a 10 minute scrub on the right side:

Silver Plated Bowl Polish

I then used a store bought silver polish on the left side, which did work quicker, here it is after a 5 minute scrub:

Silver Plated Bowl Polish

I would have to say that although the baking soda/water took a little longer, it achieves a good shine without chemicals, or a nasty smell for much cheaper than the polish. On the really tarnished parts the polish worked much faster, but the baking soda does get it done in the end. If you had tons of silver to polish perhaps it would end up being a worthwhile time saver. Here is the bowl totally shined up:

Silver Plated Bowl Polish

Silver Plated Small Bowl

I also tried the baking soda paste on my sterling silver jewelry box, a thrift store find from many years ago. It doesn’t tarnish too much but it does get very dull looking here it is before (left) and after (right):

Silver Plated Bowl Polish Silver Plated Box Polish

Silver Plated Box Polish Silver Plated Box Polish

Mixed Media Journal: The Beginning

As I mentioned in my last post, I started a mixed media journal last month. I thought short videos would be a cool way to watch the pages come together. Here is the first layout I made, hope you enjoy it!

The supplies I used for these pages were, acrylic paint, Derwent’s inktense pencils, a gelatin print of my hand, masking tape, washi tape, and Decou-Page decoupage medium. If you enjoy this series be sure to like this post!

Mixed Media Journal Series

Some of my earliest memories, are of drawing, cutting and gluing paper. Whenever I got out of sorts, a few hours of working on my “creations” always fixed my head. Lately, I’ve been looking for a similar outlet. When my large house projects need way more work (or way more money) I still want to get the creative juices flowing without the worry of mistakes.

Usually that means I doodle, or paint random things. For instance I did these silly cartoon animals on dictionary pages the other day:

Mixed Media Journal Supplies

Mix media journals have been all over the internet for years. The idea is to take a journal/notebook/old book/random pages and using anything from photos, glue, paint, tape, staples, thread, pens, to metal and leaves to create entries. I love to watch Jennibellie’s journal videos, and there are hundreds of others on Youtube doing similar stuff. You might have also heard of SMASH books, which is a brand that sells blank journals and tons of embellishments to add to the pages. Their packaging/marketing always looks so cool but as you might be able to guess I’m more of a make it yourself kinda girl. I bought this old book at a thrift store a few months back for the purpose of an art journal:

Mixed Media Journal Supplies

I think it was $2 or so and I love the molded spine and marbled cover. I wanted to use an old book instead of a blank journal since the background texture of words looks pretty awesome. Best of all it’s in Danish so leaving lots of words still showing doesn’t distract since I can’t read them!

Mixed Media Journal Supplies

To start an art journal, no special supplies are needed. Regular sharpies and a tube of white paint would serve perfectly well. Some supplies that I continually go back to however are Gesso, and decoupage medium:

Mixed Media Journal Supplies

Gesso is a primer that consists of ground chalk, white pigment and binders. It gives the surface rougher texture and reinforces the paper to make it stronger. Decoupage medium can be used to glue elements on the page and seal the whole thing when it’s finished. It comes in a variety of sheens, I prefer matte.

Another supply I love to use is my Inktense pencils and blocks, which I’ve talk about before. Mixed Media Journal Supplies

Here is an example of them on a primed page of my journal, left is before water and right is after:

Mixed Media Journal Supplies Mixed Media Journal Supplies

Other great supplies that I use constantly are, paintbrushes, washi tape, old ephemera, acrylic paint and magazine images. The best thing about an art journal is just like the normal variety there is no right or wrong way to express yourself. Some pages you create are ugly, and some have glaring imperfections. Some can have actual journalling, or just random doodles. It’s a great stress reliever. I plan on posting my pages being created as a video series, so look for the first one in the next couple of days.

First Thrift Finds of 2015!

I got this rustic rag-rug looking fabric. Ande Fabric I love the southwest America/Andes mountains earthy colors, and this has that feel with a very simplistic pattern. Ande Fabric I also got this oil painting: Thrifted Oil Painting Buildings I love the texture of the oil painting, and I love the rustic frame but not together.Thrifted Oil Painting Buildings I’m thinking a mirror would look better inside the frame. As for the painting, I’m collecting great old oil paintings for an eventual gallery type grouping. This only makes the second one I have, which is good since the room I want them for doesn’t actually exist yet. I also grabbed this severely tarnished little silver plated bowl: Silver Plated Small Bowl I’ve been looking for a large vase for this display of branches so when I saw this giant cardboard floor vase, I had to get. Large Cardboard Vase It looks like it’s made of rolls of corrugated cardboard: Large Cardboard Vase I think I might add some paper-mache layers to it, or maybe another vase on top of it to make it taller or just paint it, but for $5 I don’t have too much invested if it turns out hideous! Large Cardboard Vase I also snagged another down insert disguised as this uninspired blue denim pillow, at $5 for a 20×20 it’s about $20 less than even the cheapest down pillow I’ve seen at Home Goods. 20 x 20 Thrift Down Pillow Hopefully this haul foretells the beginning of fantastic thrift finds for 2015!

Inktense Watercolor Look Throw Pillow: Part 1

Continuing on my journey to fill this sofa with lots of colorful throw pillows, I’ve been loving the watercolor trend:
Abstract Watercolor Pillow CoverHand painted abstract watercolor pillow coverWatercolor Art, Art Pillow, Watercolor Pillow, Throw Pillow, Home Decor, Accent Pillow, with Optional Faux Down Insert

The ones above are all from Etsy and still available to purchase. From left to right, Foreverwars‘ digital print pillow 16×16 for $40, Kolorena’s $40 hand painted 20×20 version, and  CASACreated’s $30 16×16 printed pillow cover only.

You also might have seen a number of peoples DIY attempts at this trend with Sharpies and alcohol  most notably on Brit+Co, check it out here. I’ve set myself the goal of using only supplies I already owned to make the pillow covers sooooo Sharpies were out. I didn’t have the right colors, and Sharpies are pretty pricey. I considered just using watercolors but they don’t achieve a really bright saturated hue once dry. Derwent’s Inktense colors are very saturated and I received a new tin of the blocks for Christmas, so I decided to try them:Inktense Pillow

I’ve used their pencils for years they are like a watercolor pencil, which writes like a regular pencil but moves and blends like a watercolor paint when exposed to water. The Inktense line, is a super pigmented version of that, which I absolutely love to work with. However, I didn’t know how they would move on fabric. The left is before activating with water, and right is obviously after:

Inktense Fabric Test Inktense Fabric Test

Here is another scrap piece of fabric I experimented on:

Inktense Fabric Test

The Inktense product doesn’t move nearly as much on fabric as on paper but with blending it did look quite a bit watercolor-y. So I moved on to the real pillow fabric. I used bleached muslin, which is much thinner than the upholstery cotton that I used for the test scraps. Any textiles you try to paint should be made of natural fibers, synthetics aren’t going to take up color evenly if at all.

I cut fabric rectangles an inch or so larger in all dimensions than actually need for the finished pillow:

Inktense Pillow Cutting

Laid one out on paper towels and started putting down color:

Inktense Pillow Laying Color

Here it was with a light spritzing of water all over:Inktense Pillow Before Water

And after I started going back through the damp areas with the blocks:

Inktense Pillow After Water

At this point I was pretty unenthusiastic with the results. The colors weren’t blending in the way I hoped and I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like it so I didn’t even bother continuing taking pictures. I laid down TONS more color, and crumpled the whole thing up then spritzed again to give a more tie-dye look.

I started another rectangle, this time wetting the whole piece first, and dragging the yellow block along in stripes:

Inktense Pillow Stripes

Inktense Pillow Stripes

I also crumpled this one up in different ways, from these first two attempts my favorite thing was the pattern on the paper towels underneath them:

Inktense Pillow Paper Towel Pattern

I took the best pieces of the towels and laid them down to dry with the fabric squares:

Inktense Pillow Drying

I had two pieces of fabric left at this point and although I thought the patterns I made were kinda ugly I was enjoying playing so  I made two more. This time I laid the pieces on wax paper, hoping that the fabric would reabsorb the water and ink instead of just transferring it to the paper below. The wax paper did work better but I found out you have to be far more careful when moving the fabric. I dropped one of the rectangles back onto the wax paper on accident and all the water and ink still sitting there really muddied the pattern.

After drying overnight here are the four attempts:

Inktense Pillow Pattern 1

Inktense Pillow Pattern 2

This is the one I dropped into the water/ink and it turned pretty muddy, I also scrapped flecks of the blocks onto the fabric to give it the speckling:

Inktense Pillow Pattern 3

Inktense Pillow Pattern 4

The last one is my favorite and all the squares are a lot more vibrant than the pictures show. I’m not sure what I will do. None of these were exactly what I was hoping for. I think if I had more white fabric to experiment on I could do better, there was definitely a learning curve. I need to reflect on how to salvage this project, in the meantime though I did get some really cool looking paper towel prints:

Inktense Paper Towel Patterns

Easy Cheap Closet Updates

In Matt and I’s grand master plan for the house, we want to add a walk in closet to the master bedroom in the basement. With big wardrobes, and lots of shelves. However, since there isn’t even the bedroom part of the plan done yet, our clothes are in separate closets. Mine are in my studio/workshop room with my dresser and scarf storage wall. When we moved into this house a year ago, the closet looked like this:image

I couldn’t stand the sliding doors. How is anyone suppose to get dressed looking at half the closet at a time! The first little update was taking the doors off. I’ve done this mini update to a couple of ugly rental closets too, since it’s easy to put the doors back up when you move out. If you don’t keep your closets tidy though than the interior might be just as much of an eyesore as the ugly doors!

As you can see removing the doors didn’t solve the too many shoes for this closet problem:

Easy Closet Updates

The shelf and rod were really low, so I busted them both out, and moved them higher:

Easy Closet Updates

I repaired all the holes I made in the walls, and painted everything white. With the rod up higher there was room to install shoe shelves:

Easy Closet Updates

I already had the two shelves in the picture above on hand, and bought another than painted all three white. They are the Fabian wall shelves from IKEA, they come with the metal brackets and are only $8. I also replaced the top shelf and here it is done:

Easy Closet Updates

Since I had the paint, and two shelves on hand all this update cost me was $8 for a third shelf. Easy-peasy update for a too small closet!

Color Gelatin Prints

Gelatin Print Wood Grain

Mono printing with a gelatin plate, is probably my favorite way to make art. Unlike other forms of printing, or even drawing or painting there is very little pre-planning. All the creativity happens with the ink and materials right on the gelatin block. Often pages you press onto the plate as throwaways, just to absorb excess ink, turn out to be the best print of the day. If you haven’t tried this art form yet read my tutorial and experiment!

Gelatin Print Leaves Gelatin Print Leaves

I usually use Speedball’s Block Printing inks, but I’ve heard that using acrylics works too. Speedball’s inks are formulated to stay wet longer and absorb into paper very easily. Using acrylics tended to leave a lot of product on the gelatin block that had to be washed off in between pulls. They also dried quickly and stained the gelatin block. For color variety they were nice but I ended up mixing Speedball’s white ink into the acrylics I used just so the consistency was better. The elephant below was created with their Magenta:

Gelatin Print Elephant Silhouette

To make the shapes, I cut pieces of cardboard and coated them with sealer so that they didn’t absorb ink. However, I found that plain cardboard coated with ink worked just as well.

Gelatin Print Sun Gelatin PrintSun

To make the wood grain patterns on the prints above and below, I used a grain rocker. I have this one from Martha Stewart.

Gelatin Print trianles Gelatin Print Triangles

You can use just about anything to create texture and patterns for this method of printing, the background of this print was created with bubble wrap:

Gelatin Print Bubble Wrap

I would recommend springing for the real block printing ink, I’ve seen Speedball ink at both Hobby Lobby and Michaels. It’s a lot easier to use and I think produces cleaner prints.

Gelatin Print Leaf Outline

Gelatin Print Leaf Outline

Gelatin Print Leaf Outline