We have 3 Moms between Prince Charming and I; one out of state, one out of the country, and one 6 miles down the road with 8 kids that call her “Mom”, and a slew of grandkids and great-grandkids. Whew! She’s never sitting home, waiting for us to call. So, for Mother’s Day, we all pile into her kitchen, bearing cards and gifts. She loads the counters full of homemade pies and carafes of hot coffee. ‘Cause it’s Mom.
This year, I wanted to celebrate our Moms with some handcrafted amazingness. And, I failed. BUT! I did get to play with paints and glue and learn a few things.
The handmade frames I was going to build to frame those photos we (finally!) had taken ended up being thrifted frames, spray painted and in some cases hammered (that was for you, out-of-country Mom!) I felt a little guilty, though; like I had totally taken the easy way out. So, I wanted the cards to be stellar. In past years, I’ve painted cards with watercolors and pen and ink. I really enjoy the freedom the watercolors offer, and the detail I can render with a pen. I wanted to stay within that kind of vein, yet try something different.
This pin came through my feed awhile ago. It intrigued me immediately because of the raised outline. I really like the 3-D feel it brought to the painting. And breaking up the piece into smaller sections to be painted- like stained glass almost, simplified the painting process. I had seen some pins with comments about using Elmer’s glue to outline with. However, the actual instructions have nothing to do with glue! I decided to give it a try anyway.
I had planned to paint another motif. However, I loved the original. I mean, just look at it. The colors, the balance… it’s beautiful! Also, after thumbing through my reference photos, I wasn’t sure I could break one of them down into the “pieces” I’d need to render the technique convincingly, right off the bat. I’m not so quick sometimes, you know?
So here’s what I did. I grabbed a block of watercolor paper I had from my college days. I divided it into thirds with a pencil line. Then I divided those thirds in half. This gave me my three cards and their fold line. With a regular pencil, I lightly sketched in my layout. Then came the glue.
It’s important to note that using a bottle of glue that’s close to ten years old, is not the best way to go. Especially, if that bottle has a REALLY plugged tip, and a half-dried layer of product lining the inside of the cap. Several good sewing pins lost their dignity saving the ol’ girl. Another note- Elmer’s glue lasts a surprisingly long time! Take care of that tip! (Or, just buy a new bottle. Your call.)
A gunky tip makes for a blobby outline. Have a scrap piece of paper nearby. You’ll want to try out your line of glue, and have a place to wipe off the tip if need be. It really is as simple as following your lines with glue. You’ll get a feel for which direction to work in, when to “pull” and when to “push”. You can see my outline is fairly inconsistent. We’re calling those blobs “character”.
Your glue needs to be COMPLETELY dry before you continue. I used an old hairdryer to speed up drying time. And that’s when I remembered one of those profound life lessons from grade school.
White glue dries clear.
Yes, friends. There was my sloppy pencil sketch now sealed beneath my dried layer of glue. I often love seeing pencil lines in watercolor work. This, however, was not one of those times. Keep that in mind when you’re planning out your project. My cards look sloppier than I intended, but they’re still fun and pretty.
I added my colors. I opted to try one set first, before proceeding with the others.
After applying color to the remaining two motifs, I let those dry. Then it was time for the background. I used the wet-on-wet technique for most of the project.
As with anything, the quality of your work is effected by the quality of your tools and supplies. I used what I had. Also, if you’re familiar with watercolor painting, you’ll find this technique very similar to using frisket. However, the application is much simpler, and the raised lines add a cool dimension. But the glue does not leave such clean lines as would using a more traditional resist.
Once they were dried, I cut, folded, and filled them out. When I do this next time, I’ll first make sure my glue bottle is ready for me. I’ll try another motif entirely. I’ll either free hand or make a super-light pencil sketch. I’ll cut out the finished picture, and mount it to a card base. Preferably one that has an envelope. (Doh!) It was a LOT of fun to do and very simple. Draw with glue, let dry, paint gaps.
So there you go! Give it a shot. Tap into your inner third grader and play with watercolor paint and glue. Or better yet, grab a third grader and paint together!
Have you tried this technique? What’s your favorite way to use watercolors?