Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm Sweating . . .

And it isn't from the weather. We have another gorgeous day here in Manhattan. I have been sweating all day because I have a Bookbinding Class tonight. Normally, I love my bookbinding classes but today has been a day that I have been dreading for three days now.

Tonight we are learning how to sew our own headbands for our handmade books. You know how kids call in sick to school when they are learning fractions? This is the same thing. I am not a big headband person when it comes to books. When I have had to use them, I usually have used the store bought ones. Unfortunately, in this class based on traditional bookbinding techniques, we are required to make our own. No excuses. No running away.

I have tried to learn to make them on my own but it was similar to teaching myself how to knit. The words just didn't translate to my hands.

Well, we will see what happens. Keep my in your prayers.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Busted Weekend

Did you ever have one of those days where you weren't pleased with anything that you did? That was the case with me this past weekend. Every project that I started just didn't turn out the way that I wanted it to.

I just stopped working because I didn't want to waste any more supplies. Some of the jobs are not repairable others might be able to be reworked.

Maybe it was the weather. We had such great weather in NYC, maybe I just wanted to go outside rather than be locked up in the studio. Maybe I will revisit some things this week.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Several people have asked me to explain how I do my photo transfer postcards. The first step of the process is to prepare the background. I usually know what photo that I am going to use and I try to use watercolors that will compliment the image. I usually start off with a large sheet of watercolor paper that is on a pad. I paint the entire sheet and can usually get 12 4" x 6" inch postcards. For the sake of illustration, I used a bright colored postcard that was prepared for a previous project.

Here is the painted background. Usually, I will coat this with a layer of ModPodge before continuing.
The second step is to prepare the overlays. For this project, I wanted to use a double overlay. The first layer is the baby's face. This is the image that will go directly over the painted background. The image should always be larger than your postcard. I usually add an inch or two on both sides. In other words, if my post card is 4" x 6", I will make my image 5" x 7". You should print out your image (or use a laser based copier) on a laser printer.
This is the first overlay.
The second overlay is a baby announcement that was copied from the newspaper.
Here is the second overlay. This will cover the baby's face.
If you have certain software, you can combine both overlays into a single image. This can happen with PhotoShop or even using PowerPoint. If you don't have either of these programs, you can simply use two physical overlays.
Here is what the overlay would look like if you combined them into a single overlay.
The next step is to cut a piece of clear contact paper. You can use the frosted contact paper but I prefer the the clear. Always cut the contact paper larger than your image. If the image is 5" x 7", I will cut the contact paper to a size of 6" x 8".
Here is the back side of the contact paper. This is the liner side of the contact paper.
The next step is to peel the liner off of the contact paper. Take your image and place it, face down, on the sticky side of the contact paper. Take your bone folder and rub down the back of the image. Turn the contact paper over and rub down the front of the contact paper. You should have no bubbles on your image. Once you have rubbed down your image, trim the excess contact paper.
The next step is to remove the paper from the back of the image. Get a pan of warm water and place your contact papered image in the water. The image will automatically curl. Do not worry. Once the paper backing starts to get transparent, start rubbing the back of the image. The paper backing will start to flake off. Try to remove as much of the white paper as possible. You won't be able to get all of it off but be careful not to scratch the image that is left behind on the contact paper. I tend to use my thumbs rather than my fingernails to remove the white paper .
Here is the reverse side of the contact paper with most of the paper removed.
You have two options. You can leave the image as is or you can continue to remove the paper backing. Have a piece of cardstock available to place the image on top so you can see how transparent the image becomes. The more white paper that is left behind the less transparent the image will be.
Here is the above image on a blue background.

If you want a more distressed look, you can scrape more of the paper off and remove some of the image with your fingernail. You can even distress with sandpaper. Here is the distressed image.

Here is the distressed image on top of the same blue cardstock.

Once you are finished with the contact paper image, mount it on the watercolor background with ModPodge. I use the gloss finish. I wrap the postcard in wax paper and place it under weight.
Finished postcard

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Getting Creative with Modeling Paste

I am hosting another swap on Swap-bot. This swap is for handmade postcards based on the seasons--in particular, Spring. I had some leftover watercolor backgrounds from a previous swap. One of my swap partners liked Blues and Greens and the other liked jewel tones.

I wanted to try a new technique for this particular card. I had tinted embossing paste already but I had already succeeded in substituting modeling paste for embossing paste. I wanted to see if I could tint the modeling paste to colors of my own choosing. Also, I wanted to see if the modeling paste would stick to a glossy surface (the postcard is already coated with ModgePodge to preserve the watercolor background).

I tinted a small amount of modeling paste with my Dr. Martin's watercolors and it worked out great. I then used a Dreamweaver stencil and stenciled the Cyprus Tree (LG650) to the front of the card. The card dried without warping the card (one of my concerns) and hasn't flaked off. I have asked my swap partners to let me know the condition of the card when it arrives. I don't know if the modeling paste will withstand the elements and postal handling without chipping off.

I do like the way that the card turned out. I am going to try it again on regular cardstock for a card to see if it will warp or dry flat. For cards, I might have to stencil the image and then mount it on a card base. I will let you know that the second part of the experiment works out.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Me Bad Blogger

I know that I haven't been blogging as much as I usually do but I have been busy at work. Also, I am designing my etsy store. The biggest reason that I haven't been blogging as much is that I haven't been designing much lately.

As I have mentioned before, I have a hard time designing when my studio isn't clean. My studio and my apartment still haven't recovered from the Egg Decorating Party that I hosting over the Easter Weekend. Here are some photos of the damage.

This is the view from the door. I couldn't even walk into the room without stepping over things.

The is the supplies wall and the floor.

This is usually my design station. Here it is being used as a photo station with a homemade light box.

This is the cutting station.
These are glue sheets and waste sheets. Throw them on the floor, I said. They did but forgot to pick them up.
These are leftover blown eggs. Maybe they will last until next year.
Here are my Dr. Martin watercolors.
Here is my gluing station with leftover papers and scraps.
I told everyone to leave my supplies alone. But noooooo, they had to delve into my paper scrap bin.
These were my contribution to the contest. They weren't allowed because I was the host.
Here is the gluing station after a weekend of cleaning.
Here is the design station after a weekend of cleaning.
Here is the cutting station after a weekend of cleaning.
So now, I have no excuse but to start designing and working again. I will keep you posted on the the new and upcoming projects.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Egg Decorating Contest Winners

Congratulations to the following winners in the First Annual Russell Romano Egg Decorating Contest. Thank you to everyone who entered and I look forward to you participating next year.

Best Use of Color

Winner: Sewn Eggs by Michael Tims

Second Place: Easter Dots by Mary Beth DeMartino and Jill

Third: Fish Egg by Cindy (under 12)

Best Technique
Winner: The Scream by Holden DeMartino (under 12)--Wax Resist

Second Place--Tie: Toni Green--Polka Dot Egg (2 color dye)

Second Place--Tie: Marbled Eggs by Bernie

Best Painted Egg
Winner: Shu-Ju Wang

Best Use of Natural Dyes
Winner: Marbled Eggs by Jaime

Second Place: Marbled Eggs by Jaime

Best Use of Office Supplies

Winner: Sam DeMartino--The Muppets

Second Place: Masking Tape Egg by Steven (Left above)

Third Place: Rubber Cement Eggs by Stevie

Best Egg Heads

Winner: Humpty Dumpty by TyDemartino

Crew Cut by Stewie

Blondie by Micheal Tims

Best Fine Art (other than painting)

Winner and First Place: Tiger's Egg and Paisley Egg by Bob C.

Third Place: Decopage Egg by Bob C. (above right)

Best Religious Decoration

Winner: Shu-Ju Wang

Best Decoration under 12

Winner: Eat Me by Holden DeMartino

Second Place: Bunny Family by Samantha

Third Place: Duck Egg by Samantha

Martha Stewart Award for Best Overall Design

Notes from Judges:
There were many beautiful examples of egg decorating and many of the winners were in contention for the Overall Prize. For us, the winner didn't have to represent the most beautiful egg--instead, the overall effect of the egg was more important than sheer beauty or technique.
The double meaning of the egg had us rolling on the floor in laughter. The nice orange color and the use of wax resist were nice. More importantly, the fact that it was done by someone in the Junior category--who probably didn't even realize the double meaning of the egg--tipped the scales in his direction.
Congratulations Holden.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Russell Romano's First Annual Decorated Egg Contest

Send a photo of your decorated egg to me or upload it to your blog or facebook account.

Awards will be given in the following categories:
  • Best Use of Color
  • Best Technique
  • Best Painted Egg
  • Best Use of Natural Dyeing
  • Best Use of Office Supplies
  • Best Easter Egg Heads
  • Best Fine Art Decorationg (Other than painting)
  • Best Religious Egg
  • Best Decoration for Kids under 12.

Each of the winners will then be considered for the Top Award: The Martha Stewart Award.

Upload your images by noon on Sunday, April 12, 2009.

Invite all of your friends to join or post on your blog so your readers can participate. A panel of judges will give three awards for each of the different categories. The winner of each category will be considered for the Martha Stewart Award.

You may enter as many catetgories as you choose.

Paper Fridays--Easter Egg Papers

These are some of the papers that I will be using to decorate eggs for the Russell Romano First Annual Egg Decorating Contest. For information on entering the contest, please read my next blog.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Post 100

I was hoping that my 100th post was going to be more memorable than this. The reason that I haven’t been blogging more is because I have been wrapped up in governmental red tape. I have been putting into place all of the necessary documents to incorporate my online company.

The first hurdle was to decide what type of company that I wanted to develop. Since most of my sales were going to be derived online, I thought about going through a simple incorporation or just a sole proprietorship. The problem with this type of structure is that you have fewer legal protections and it is harder to separate your personal finances from those of your business should something go wrong with the business. The benefit of this structure is that it costs less to develop.

But I was afraid that I was being myopic by not looking at the bigger picture. What if I wanted to get investors to help take the business to the next level? I have already received overtures from some big moneyed people for me to work for them in their businesses. What would happen if they would want to invest in my lowly adventure?

I finally decided to create an LLC. Of course, this costs more money in NYC because you have to publish an announcement of your company in two sources for six consecutive weeks. The first quote is for $700 for one of the newspapers. This particular newspaper is a requirement from the Secretary of NY State.

I have an EIN (Employer ID Number) now which was retrieved online and was free. This means that I can start paying payroll and receiving and paying payroll taxes. Now I am waiting for my NY sales tax certificate to come through. Once I get this back, I will be able to apply for my resale tax certificate which will allow me to not have to pay NY sales tax on items that I purchase for my business.

After all of this happens, I will be able to set up my ETSY shop. It will probably take me 10 years of ETSY sales to recoup the monies that I am spending.

Monday, April 6, 2009

New Idea

Having very little time on my hands this weekend, I decided to develop an idea that had been fermenting in the back of my mind for a few weeks. One of the problems that I have is that so many ideas are percolating in my mind I just don't have the time to develop all of them. Granted, some of these ideas are probably crap but I believe in the process of failure. I believe that you still learn from the process of creating rather than the production of a finished, saleable product.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I bought sewing templates so I embroider some bookcloth. I am in a creative angst when it comes to untitled journals. Without a title, the writer seldom knows which is the front of the book. It annoys me to no end to grab a book and have to turn it around because you have opened the wrong end. I know--it's petty, but it still bothers me.

Lately, I have been designing my journals with 3/4 bookcloth and 1/4 decorative paper. This way, you know which is the front of the book because that is where the decorative paper is. I personally like the look (others aren't so sure). In lieu of the paper, I have decided to try and use a full bookcloth cover that will have 1/4 embroidered bookcloth.

Below is my first swatch. It is a simple flourish that I repeated in a mirror image of itself. It uses three strand embroidery floss. I am not sure what I think about it yet. Maybe in a larger pattern it will grow on me.