Last updated 2 months ago
Painting with watercolor can be very relaxing. The colors beautifully blend into one another. The rich pigments are great to water down and watch meld together. Unless of course, this is a result of a running paint due to buckling paper.
We've all been there at some point; that frustrated moment as we sop up the colors with a dry brush or paper towel, hoping that we didn't just ruin hours of work. Our overly wet paper has just thrown us for a loop, buckled below our brush, and now our paint is pooling in low ground.
This can be avoided by stretching your watercolor paper onto a Homasote board. Homasote is a brand name associated with the product generically known as cellulose based fiber wall board, which is similar in composition to papier-mache, made from recycled paper that is compressed under high temperature and pressure and held together with a glue. It is best to prepare your Homasote with two to three layers of gesso to avoid the dyes in the Homasote board from being absorbed into wet watercolor paper.
In order to remember later, mark the side of your watercolor paper on which you'll be painting. A small "x" in the corner will be just fine. Fill a tub or sink and submerge your paper. Since you don't want to over-soak your paper, allow it to soak for 5 minutes, flipping at least once.
The fiber in the paper will expand and some of the sizing will dissolve. When soaking, you don't want it to expand so much that it will create too much tension while drying and can cause the paper to rip from the stretcher. To avoid having this happen, test to see if it's ready to be stretched.
Holding the paper from two corners, bend one corner backwards without creasing. If it springs readily back up, it needs more soak time. If it stays bent under it's own weight, it has soaked too long. If the corner stays where you left it or begins to rise back into shape, it's ready to stretch.
Once you've determined your paper is ready to stretch, allow the excess water to drip from the paper while holding it by two corners. Place it onto your pre-gessoed Homasote board. Let it sit for a few minutes. Press out any air bubbles gently. The paper will remain attached to the board for 5-10 minutes before you'll need to dampen it again. If there is any wet paper painting you'd like to do, now is the time, before the paper is adhered to the board. Otherwise, continue to stretch.
Using a regular household stapler (no need for a staple gun), insert staple at the middle (about 1/4" from the paper's edge) on one side of the paper. Flip the board 180 degrees and insert staple on opposite side at same placement. Repeat with the remaining two sides. Staple every 2 inches all the way around. Allow your paper to dry. Don't try to rush it with a blowdryer.
When your paper is dry, create a mask with artists tape over the staples. This will prevent paint from seeping over the edges of the paper.
After the painting is complete, to remove paper from board, insert a butter knife between the sheet of paper and your Homasote board and gently pry staples up.
Last updated 3 months ago
Did you know that there are over a dozen varieties of Mod Podge, and that each variety serves a different purpose? It can be kind of intimidating to pick one when there are so many choices, so we've put together a quick guide to the most popular types and what they do...
Mod Podge is a water-based all-in-one glue and sealer. It's nontoxic, so it's safe for kids, and it's useful for a wide variety of crafts and projects! It has a liquid consistency, similar to Elmer's Glue, which makes it ideal for paper projects. It's also unbelievably strong for a water-based glue, which means that it's great for furniture or other surfaces that might get a lot of wear and tear. If you're covering paper with a chemical-heavy product like resin or shellac, Mod Podge will protect your paper from absorbing those chemicals and developing grease-like spots. I recommend using at least three coats of Mod Podge to ensure a strong, even protective coat.
The two most-used varieties are the general Gloss and Matte finish, which are both excellent all-purpose glue and sealers. What's the difference? One dries with a shiny finish, and the other dries with a duller, non-reflective finish. For most paper and collage projects, the Matte finish would be recommended. However, if you're using Mod Podge over glitter, metallic papers, foils, or anything else with a shine, Matte finish will dull it. Use the Gloss finish to keep your sparkles sparkling!
Merion Art also carries a product called Paper Mod Podge. What's the benefit of that? It's simple: regular Mod Podge is not acid-free...Paper Mod Podge is. That means Paper Mod Podge won't cause your paper projects to yellow over time, but the regular versions might! This is particularly helpful to know if you're planning to use Mod Podge as a sealer. Paper Mod Podge is just as strong and water-based as the regular stuff, but a little more paper-friendly to use. Paper Mod Podge is available in matte or glossy finish, just like the original.
Outdoor Mod Podge is ideal for anything that's going to be exposed to the elements for extended amounts of time, such as birdhouses or porch furniture. It's a little bit stronger as a sealer, but since it's still water-based, I would recommend sealing any project that's going to get a lot of outdoor wear and tear with a clear coating like shellac, varnish, or polyurethane.
The uses for Mod Podge don't have to be limited to decoupage. You can use Mod Podge to add sparkle to shoes, to cover an outdoor chair or a book -- the possibilities are endless! Mod Podge also comes in finishes that have sparkles and glitter in them, as well as a glow-in-the-dark finish.
Since Mod Podge is water-based, it's easily cleaned up with soap and water. You can use regular paintbrushes or foam brushes to apply it; just make sure you wash them out thoroughly before they dry, or they're done for! Like Elmer's Glue, it'll wash off of skin, but it won't come out of clothing or furniture, so make sure you wear old clothes and set up a work station that is easy to clean up. Also, many websites and Pinterest boards say that Mod Podge can be made much more cheaply at home by diluting Elmer's Glue with water. This is 100% untrue! Mod Podge is a stronger glue than Elmer's; diluting a weaker glue to make it is going to give you very disappoinging results.
I hope this post has given you some insight into the different types of Mod Podge and how to use it. Happy crafting!
Assistant Manager/Repro Specialist
Last updated 3 months ago
If you've never used a lightbox before, you might wonder: what's the point? And you wouldn't be alone: we get plenty of people every day asking what you would use this contraption for. What most people don't realize is that there are tons of different uses for something like this, and that the only limit is your imagination!
First of all, what is a lightbox? The short and simple answer is this: it's a box that uses light to help you with your projects. They are usually made with a piece of frosted glass or plastic covering a strong light source to give you a gentle white glow that you can use for a variety of projects. Here are only a few of the varied uses for this type of supply...
You'll often find lightboxes in the traditional animation industry; shining a light behind a drawing on white paper makes the line drawing visible even under multiple sheets of paper. So when you see an animator drawing at a light table, they're using that light to see their original drawing underneath blank sheets of paper. It makes it easier for them to copy that image again and again.
Along the same lines, did you know that many illustrators and cartoonists use that same method for transferring images onto different kinds of paper? They'll sketch out an image onto a cheaper quality of paper, and then trace it onto better paper, like watercolor or bristol paper, to keep the paper neat and clean.
A lightbox can make collage and multimedia projects a lot simpler, too. If you're cutting paper to fit a certain area, you can use a lightbox to make a tracing of the shape you need even onto thicker papers. You can even use a lightbox to trace a pattern from one piece of paper to another!
Traditional photographers use lightboxes for a few different reasons, as well. They're really useful if you're looking at slides for archival purposes, or for examining film negatives to choose prints. In a pinch, you can even use them as a light source in a dim room.
Merion Art stocks a selection of lightboxes called LightPads, made by Art-O-Graph. These lightboxes are high-quality, with evenly-disbursed LED lights for a soft, even light that is bright but gentle on the eyes. They're guaranteed for up to 300,000 hours!
*When you're using any light source, like a computer or lightbox, for multiple hours at a time, always try to take a break every half hour or so to ease the effects of eye strain. It's always good to step back from your work a little bit and give yourself a mental break!
Written by Kerri Grogan
Assistant Manager/ Repro Department
Last updated 3 months ago
“What sketchbook should I buy?”
I am asked this question every day. It really is hard to know what sketch book or drawing pad is right for another person. Purchasing a sketchbook can be a completely trivial detail in a list of school supplies, or something to be heavily considered and very personal, similar to a journal. Sketchbooks hold a great deal of meaning to a multitude of people. So when someone comes into the store to ask me which one they should purchase, I often ask a few basic questions in order to help that person come to a good conclusion on their own.
Is this the first sketchbook you’ve owned?
How will you be using this sketchbook? Is it personal or school/ business related?
Are you planning on transporting it with you? Is it for use at an easel or on a desk/ lap?
What medium do you use while sketching?
The answers, of course, are varied. I, myself am a fashion designer. I sketch heavily handed with a 6B pencil which causes an inability to erase all of my line work with a plastic eraser. I ink over it immediately with Micron pens and Prismacolor markers. My work is laid down thickly on the paper. I saturate my pages with the ink and markers, and I layer colors. All of my work ends up on a 100lb Strathmore Bristol paper with a smooth surface due to how much stress I put on my paper. If I were to use a 50lb basic sketch paper for those types of drawings, I would end up tearing holes in my paper.
However, I also enjoy having a sketchbook on the go. I keep a pocket sized sketchbook in my purse for jotting down quick croquis. For this, I keep a Moleskine. The pages are smooth, the paper is 90lbs. I really prefer having a smooth paper that doesn’t catch the tip of any of my felt or metal tip pens. And because I prefer to sketch with ink, I need a thicker weight of paper so that there is no bleed-through to other pages.
Everyone has different preferences when it comes to how they sketch and their choices in paper. If you’re looking for a sketchbook for use with chalk, pastels or charcoal, look into the Bogus Recycled Rough Sketch Book. 70lb double sided papers with plenty of tooth to hold on even the loosest of pigments. The dark toned paper helps to bring out those drawn in highlights as well. Or perhaps you enjoy drawing on white paper for your chalky mediums? Hemp sketch has great tooth at 70lbs with a naturally flecked eggshell tone for the all negative space you like to leave.
Sketchbooks are many and varied depending on your use, medium, and size. Every artist needs at least one. Don’t limit yourself. Try many different mediums out in your sketchbooks to get a feel for what YOU like. It’s a personal choice, not one that anyone else can decide for you. Try as many out as it takes to help you find your style.
Written by Heathyr Haskins
Last updated 3 months ago
You can now follow us on Pinterest! Check out fun ways to use your favorite art materials. http://www.pinterest.com/merionart