Homemade Stamps by Francesca Albini

This article is written by Francesca Albini

I wanted to do a little booklet of imaginary landscapes and thought it would be fun to use only stamps and stickers. I have a large collection of stickers that I find in children’s books and magazines, or that I buy when I travel. Most of the stamps I used in my booklet are homemade. All you need is some lino carving knives, scissors, a brayer, some kind of plastic sheet to spread acrylic paint onto and… a trip to the pound (or dollar) store. There you will find lots of things that can be used to make stamps – flip-flops, erasers, foam sheets, gardening mats, etc. You can find novelty erasers in the shape of fish, frogs, triangles, that can be quite cute. Also don’t forget the small erasers at the back of pencils, they make lovely dots. After a while you’ll develop an eye for what items make interesting patterns.

Homemade Stamps

Normal white erasers are ideal for carving simple designs, like my palm trees, the bird and the sun. I draw the (mirror) image with a marker on the eraser and then carve out very carefully all the bits that I don’t want printed. I ink the stamp and do a print, if it needs tweaking I carve some more and test it again. I use both sides of the eraser, so I get two stamps out of one eraser. Tips, sides and corners of erasers can also be used to print lines and rectangles.

Homemade Stamps

I cut the fish and the waves from a foam sheet that came from a children’s card making kit. I cut the foam gardening mat into blocks, and with a double sided sticky tape I attached a thick windy string on one, some paper clips on another and buttons on a third.

Homemade Stamps

To ink my stamps, I use ink pads, stamping brush markers and acrylic paint. When using acrylic you have to wash your stamps straight away, before the paint dries. Sometimes it helps to put a foam sheet under the page where you want to stamp, so that you get a better print (with the buttons stamp, for instance.)

I like the idea of a theme, like landscapes. I guess one could also make portraits out of stamps, compositing hair, eyes, hats. The possibilities are endless.

Happy stamping!

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Francesca is a visual artist using pretty much everything she finds around her to record and relive feelings and memories of places and emotions. She collages, paints, draws, photographs. Francesca loves mixing modern technology, such as mobile phone apps, with the simplest of tools such as glitter glue, crayons and other children’s art supplies. Read her blog at Frans Journal Blogspot.

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Homemade Stamps

This article is written by Francesca Albini

I wanted to do a little booklet of imaginary landscapes and thought it would be fun to use only stamps and stickers. I have a large collection of stickers that I find in children’s books and magazines, or that I buy when I travel. Most of the stamps I used in my booklet are homemade. All you need is some lino carving knives, scissors, a brayer, some kind of plastic sheet to spread acrylic paint onto and… a trip to the pound (or dollar) store. There you will find lots of things that can be used to make stamps – flip-flops, erasers, foam sheets, gardening mats, etc. You can find novelty erasers in the shape of fish, frogs, triangles, that can be quite cute. Also don’t forget the small erasers at the back of pencils, they make lovely dots. After a while you’ll develop an eye for what items make interesting patterns.

Francescas amazing handmade stamps

Normal white erasers are ideal for carving simple designs, like my palm trees, the bird and the sun. I draw the (mirror) image with a marker on the eraser and then carve out very carefully all the bits that I don’t want printed. I ink the stamp and do a print, if it needs tweaking I carve some more and test it again. I use both sides of the eraser, so I get two stamps out of one eraser. Tips, sides and corners of erasers can also be used to print lines and rectangles.

Francesca Albinis handmade stamps

I cut the fish and the waves from a foam sheet that came from a children’s card making kit. I cut the foam gardening mat into blocks, and with a double sided sticky tape I attached a thick windy string on one, some paper clips on another and buttons on a third.

Albini's use of stickers and handmade stamps

To ink my stamps, I use ink pads, stamping brush markers and acrylic paint. When using acrylic you have to wash your stamps straight away, before the paint dries. Sometimes it helps to put a foam sheet under the page where you want to stamp, so that you get a better print (with the buttons stamp, for instance.)

I like the idea of a theme, like landscapes. I guess one could also make portraits out of stamps, compositing hair, eyes, hats. The possibilities are endless.

Happy stamping!

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Francesca is a visual artist using pretty much everything she finds around her to record and relive feelings and memories of places and emotions. She collages, paints, draws, photographs. Francesca loves mixing modern technology, such as mobile phone apps, with the simplest of tools such as glitter glue, crayons and other children’s art supplies. Read her blog at Frans Journal Blogspot.

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Junk mail art and homemade gesso

This article is written by Francesca Albini

Looking at the speed at which my paper recycling box fills up every week, I’ve been exploring various ways of making art with junk mail. The simplest way is to use it is as an interesting background for mixed media work.

In this picture of dancers in the woods, I glued torn pieces of coloured junk mail to a board. When the glue was dry, I sanded the whole surface to make it blend together more and take the excessive gloss out of the paper. I then added glazes of my home made pink gel pen ink. I also made a rough contour of the pieces with my ball point ink and a very dry brush. The trees are also painted with ball point ink. I gave the impression of grass with children’s green day-glo paint. Lastly, I painted the dancers in gesso and contoured them with a toothpick dipped in ball point ink. The sun through the branches is done with a yellow highlighter spread with a wet brush.

Francesca Albini mixed media art collage

Another way of using junk mail is to cover it in gesso and then paint, write, collage over it. Of course, while junk mail is free, gesso is very expensive. So here’s how to make your own super cheap one. Next time you decorate, keep your unused water based white wall paint (or use white acrylic paint). Mix the paint with baby powder (possibly unscented!) and pva. Now you are ready to cover in gesso tons of useless leaflets. I make as much gesso as I need on the day, so I don’t know if it can be stored.

You can use the paper to make single artworks, or sew them together into a junk mail journal. I wanted to challenge myself here and decided to do a “Raphael” on a gessoed leaflet. I used washes of children’s gouache and was quite pleased with the way in which the support received the paint. I found it sturdier and more forgiving than watercolour paper, and I like the little bit of texture coming through the gesso.

Francesca Albini mixed media art collage

Of course, junk mail can be used to do fun collages, as well. I seem to receive a lot of pizza leaflets, so I made a pizza-man out of them. The funny character was then scanned into the computer and given a digital background.

Francesca Albini mixed media art collage

Enjoy your junk mail, and make great art with it!

 

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Francesca is a visual artist using pretty much everything she finds around her to record and relive feelings and memories of places and emotions. She collages, paints, draws, photographs. Francesca loves mixing modern technology, such as mobile phone apps, with the simplest of tools such as glitter glue, crayons and other children’s art supplies. Read her blog at http://franjournal.blogspot.com/

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Homemade Inks and Pens

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This article is written by Francesca Albini 

One of the most annoying things is when your pens go dry and you have to throw them away. It really hurts me to get rid of any tool that can be used or should have been used for my art. So I don’t. I find ways to rescue almost everything by making my own handmade inks.

Every time one of my ballpoint pens goes dry I take a pair of scissors and snip the plastic reservoir into a bin or plastic bag (they tend to fly across the room otherwise!), then put the segments in a small container. When I have enough segments (two or three reservoirs), I pour a little bit of surgical spirit into the container, close it really tight and shake well. The result is a purply blue ink. If it’s too light in colour, wait a day for some of the spirit to evaporate. I suggest you use a cheap brush with this ink, as it can be harsh on the bristles.

Here is a portrait of the singer Sippie Wallace I painted with homemade ballpoint ink. Because this ink is quite viscous, instead of diluting it with water or more spirit to obtain lighter shades I prefer to dry the brush on a tissue. Using an almost dry brush gives the painting an unusual and pleasant grainy feel. Ballpoint ink is not the easiest of mediums to use, but it is fun to experiment with.

singer Sippie Wallace sketch by Francesca Albini

Gel pens are particularly prone to get dry very quickly. Snip the dry reservoirs and put them in a container, as above, but this time dilute with water. I like the ink made with gel pens because it very often has a shiny, glittery texture. Here is a flamingo I painted using ink made out of a few pink and orange dry gel pens. Gel pen ink is also easier to use, as it can be further diluted with water.

Here is a flamingo by Francesca Albini

I spent the Christmas holidays going for walks in various parks and gathered a few things that I could turn into art tools, like bamboo stems and a pigeon feather (hoping the ex owner didn’t have the flu!) There are many sites on the internet that show you how to make reeds and quills. It’s really quite simple. Cut the shape of the nib with a craft knife, test and trim until you are happy with the marks it makes. While my husband was trying to have a serious conversation with me, I doodled his portrait with my homemade bamboo reed and Indian ink. He ended up looking a bit like the Buddha, so I thought of adding some tropical foliage in the background with my pigeon quill.

Homemade art tools and pens by Francesca Albini

Playing with homemade inks and found or recycled materials is fun, creative, cheap, and makes you feel good.

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Francesca is a visual artist using pretty much everything she finds around her to record and relive feelings and memories of places and emotions. She collages, paints, draws, photographs. Francesca loves mixing modern technology, such as mobile phone apps, with the simplest of tools such as glitter glue, crayons and other children’s art supplies.

Read her blog at Fran’s Journal Blogspot

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