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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Focus on ... texture

Hi Folks

I'm in between projects at the moment with one drying off before I can start the next - it's all done in my head, so that's a good start - at least I know where I'm going with it!

So I thought this time would be well spent if I talk a little about texture, hence the title of this post.

We love texture, don't we? We love touchy-feely stuff and we love dimension. We love the aged, shabby, weathered appearance which can be achieved by using various mediums. Every time we shop for clothes, we're not just looking at cut, colour, whether our size is available, but we touch the garments, feeling the texture of the fabrics. Texture is massively important for conveying information about an item of clothing; if it's rough to the touch then it will probably feel rough against our skin when we wear it, or itchy, or both. If it's soft and fluffy then it will probably feel like angels' whispers against our skin ..... or kittens, or puppies ... you get the picture! And in our crafting and mixed media work now, there's much more emphasis on texture and dimension, because it makes for more interesting pieces, more realistic-looking artworks and, let's face it, they're so much fun to create!

We use all kinds of things to add texture and dimension to our projects: lace, ribbon, beads, twine, mica flakes, glass glitter, chipboard shapes, wooden shapes, wood, metal and paper to name but a few. But as well as all of these things, we have wonderful gels and pastes to dip into.

Texture pastes and gels have become essential parts of our basic craft kit because they can be used in so many types of projects. There is a stack of products on the market now for achieving so many different texture effects and they're improving all the time. I'm just going to touch on five in this post.

So, the first one, and one I LOVE using ..... Texture Sand Paste. It's a fairly stiff off-white/grey paste with a sand-like texture, because it is loaded with something akin to sand! I have to say I do not like the feel of it on my fingers when it's wet in the same way that I've never liked the feel of "real" sand at the beach. All that grit everywhere ... yuk! However, on a piece of artwork - FAB!

This is a small amount of texture sand paste which has dried onto the inside of the lid -
you can see the gritty texture quite well here
It can be used to produce the look of "real" sand, just to generally add gritty texture, or for giving things the appearance of rust. I would imagine it would work really well through stencils, especially something like brickwork for example, but so far I've only used it "freehand" as it were. It's a very versatile product. Apply it to your project with a palette knife or other tool, wait for it to dry, and then paint it or colour it with inks, et voila! Sand or rust, or whatever else you were aiming for.

Here are a few photos of a project I did a while back where I used the texture sand paste to create "real" sand, and once it was dry I painted it with Starlights Paint to give it the colour of golden sand. I loved how it turned out and it looks so realistic. Magic!

"Sand" in front of and on top of shell

Sand on the shells and coconut fibre

Sand in the shell with the pearl, on the driftwood and the coconut fibres

Sand on the base
Then we have basic texture paste. This is a thick (or heavy) paste which can be applied as thinly or thickly as you want to provide lots or a little texture and dimension. Think regal icing and you'll know what I mean! It works fantastically well through stencils or applied randomly just wherever you want more texture and dimension. It's great for snow on your wintery/Christmas projects and you can add glitter to it while it's still wet - just sprinkle it on liberally and press down gently to make sure the glitter adheres to the paste. Once it's dry it can be painted with any kind of paint, or you can mix paint or colour into it before applying to your project. Some texture pastes can be an off-white or grey colour, but Ranger do a lovely white texture paste, and it is proper white, so you wouldn't need to paint it before adding all that glitter if you're going for sparkly snow effect.

In these next two projects, created by my son (inspired by Tim Holtz's guest designers and ably assisted by yours truly!), we used Ranger Texture Paste for snow and most of my supply was used up in one go (as you can see from the photo above)! Still, they both look amazing so I'm not complaining, and it just demonstrates how much coverage you get from one little pot - that board is about 12 inches square! The drying/hardening time will vary depending on how thickly you apply the paste to your project.

A fabulous thick white blanket of snow in this scene
Next, another favourite of mine, Crackle Paste - not to be confused with Crackle Paint, which is thinner and has the consistency of a thicker (or heavier bodied) acrylic paint.

This is Crackle Paste which has collected on the inside of the lid - you can see
it is quite thick
Crackle Paste is again quite a thick (heavy) paste but when you first open the pot it looks like thick white paint. Crackle Paste can be applied sparsely or liberally to your projects, depending on what effect your going for, and you can apply it either randomly or through stencils. Leave it to dry and look at the fantastic crackles (or crazing) which form. The cracks will be larger if you apply the paste more thickly, and finer and smaller if you apply the paste in a thin layer. Then you can apply inks over the top of it which will enhance those fabulous cracks even more. You can also add colour by watering down acrylic paints and spritzing them over the dried paste. This gives a fabulous random effect to the colouring of your project. You can achieve some really wonderful effects with crackle paste, such as making "wood" appear aged and weathered, or even metal. On the project below I used crackle paste on my "beach hut" to give it a weathered look.

OK, number 4, crackle paint. As I said earlier, it is different from crackle paste, because it is much thinner than the paste, so much so that it can be applied with a brush, but it looks just the same as crackle paste, hence no photo of the inside of the pot this time! I will just add that it is still thick enough to apply with a palette knife though, but if you only want a thin layer of the paint, then a brush is the way to go. It can be applied through stencils or freehand and once dry again gives those wonderful cracks which lend an aged or weathered appearance to your projects, but because it's thinner than the paste it needs more care when applying it through stencils. Again, it is a very versatile product and gives fantastic results. In the projects below I used the crackle paint through a couple of stencils, applied with a brush, allowed it to dry, and then watered down one of my favourite semi-translucent acrylic paints and spritzed it over the project. And I used the crackle paint to paint the dolphin above the door on my "beach hut" to give it a real salt-corroded, weathered look (I also used a little texture sand paste on there).


Finally, gel medium. In the pot it looks like any other gel, semi opaque and a thick, gloopy consistency. It dries clear so won't affect your paint colours if you use it as an extender or a top coat. This product can be used for various things including adhering elements to your projects, for collage work, as a sealer and as a glazing agent. It can also be used with acrylic paints to make them more workable on your project by extending the length of time the paint is wet and giving it more body, so that you can work your paints either with a brush or palette knife, or with your fingers even to create texture and interest in your piece. When used in this way, it dries to a hard gloss or matte finish (depending whether you used a gloss or matte gel!), and the gloss version reminds me of the appearance of oil paints. In the piece below I used multi medium gloss mixed with my acrylic paints to create an impasto style sky. You don't need to mix much in - it goes a long way! This technique would also work really well for seascapes.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my look at texture mediums and my tips on how they can be used. There are plenty more ways to use these wonderful products and I've just touched on a few. I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment.

I'll be back soon with another project for you.

Take care.

Bye for now,
Julie x

If you feel like getting creative with texture and dimension, the following list is just a selection of items which can be purchased from our shop - just click on the button at the top of the page or use this link:

  • DecoArt Media Crackle Paste
  • DecoArt Media Crackle Paint
  • DecoArt Media Texture Sand Paste
  • Ranger Texture Paste
  • Ranger gel mediums
  • Ranger Crackle Accents
  • Imagination Crafts Starlights Paints
  • DecoArt Crafter's Acrylic Paints
  • DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics
  • DecoArt Glamour Dust
  • DecoArt Glamour Dust Paints
  • A selection of Tim Holtz Idea-ology products
  • Gold Taklon Brush Sets
  • Ranger 4-Piece Palette Knife Sets
  • A selection of beautiful flowers by The Hobby House
  • Stretched canvas and canvas boards
  • Dina Wakley Gesso - black or white
  • Stencils by Andy Skinner, Sheena Douglass and Imagination Crafts

And remember to add your coupon code BDB1 to receive 15% discount on your purchase. Plus free postage on all orders of £30 or more (UK only - overseas customers please contact us for postage details before checking out your purchases.)

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