Tuesday, November 29, 2011

...on a bath full of ink.

I thought I'd give this ink bath thing another go, as I'd really liked the grey concrete-y outcome. In a previous post I'd mentioned that the indian ink had a real pong to it. I am pleased to report that after about three weeks the reek from my initial testing has faded!

This time I thought I'd try a whole word to see the effect. So, in went some plaster letters for a 24-hour bath.
A rinse...
 ... and a scrub with an old toothbrush.
Too smelly for my Etsy store? I'm not sure! I like it, though!

Monday, November 21, 2011

... on a weekful of Beasties.

Friday. On my list last week: "Make a Beastie every day." All to be seen in my Etsy store shortly!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

...on trying just one more idea!

I had another idea about how to colour the Gedeo resin plaster I use to cast my letters. I added a good whack of black acrylic paint to the mix, and things were looking promising until I'd waited three days for it to set and it still hadn't! So I gave it a week.In drying, the mix in the mould had shrunk a little, making the backs of these asterisks concave. However they did have an exquisite chalkiness which was pretty nice.
So chalky, in fact, that they just broke apart upon handling! What a shame.So. Concrete colourant it is. Watch this space!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

... on trying something... and then something else.

I've had a few queries recently as to whether it was possible to colour my plaster letters. It is - they do pretty well with a coat of plain acrylic paint, in which case you can match them to your wall colour if you want.
However, one of the things I really like about casting these letters in white plaster is that the original letter I hand-carved was from white plaster. It had that lovely matte finish and the dry texture of the surface really appealed to me. So, in casting a letter that was originally in white plaster, with white plaster, I get a recreation of that beautiful original matte surface, which I love. Painting over it seems to be a shame, to me.
So, I looked at how I could colour the plaster mix itself - maybe I could retain the dry-looking matte surface?
Here, I tried adding black Indian ink to the water that I mix with the dry resin plaster. I used a very strong mix (one part ink to three parts water) and as a result the plaster took well over 24 hours to set hard - normally it's ready for demoulding in less than an hour. It also stuck pretty fiercely to the mould (even though I'd talc-ed it well beforehand) and left pieces of itself behind - not a success.
Then I thought 'well, if that's not going to work, perhaps I can soak a letter in the ink, neat.' and after a 24-hour bath, this was the result.
A grey, rather than black outcome. It has a great concrete-y industrial look that may work really nicely. However, in playing with the Indian ink, I noticed something a bit gross about it. It stinks. I mean, it reeks, and I'm afraid the vomity pong lingers in the cast result, even after a very good scrub and a long sit in the sun!
Then I tried a product that was designed to do approximately what I'm trying to achieve - concrete colourant. It's used to colour grout, too, so I figured it was bound to work. I did have to add way more water than usual to make the plaster wet enough to cast, so I don't really know the correct water/colourant ratio. It did set in a reasonable time though, but most importantly - it has that dry matte finish that I like so much. Hoorah!
The only downside I discovered was that in scrubbing off the talc under the tap after demoulding, I got black all over my hands, which means that the colourant isn't waterproof. This surprised me, as it's designed for grout, and surely it would be used in wet areas? This isn't really a problem as I don't recommend installing these plaster letters where they'll get wet - it's more of a production challenge.
What do you think? Should I try a production run?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

...on being at home.

Aaah, how lovely is it to return to a beloved home after a long while away! The first opening of the door... the familiar smell of my house... the remembering of all the little possessions that make my home 'mine'. Seedpods on a bookshelf, a postcard tucked into the edge of a frame, a pebble found on a previous holiday sitting on top of the piano.

What I like most, though, is how I've just stepped from a darkening blustery European autumn into a fragrant pre-summer Brisbane blissfulness! The breeze feels like the sea, and it makes Christmas seems to be just around the corner. The jacarandas in my street are going all kinds of crazy and the jasmine just outside my doors is outdoing itself. The nights (through which I am finally sleeping after picking up a dreadful airport cold!) are scented and only-just-cool, and in the mornings I'm amazed by how many birds start singing so early. My feet are getting used to being bare. It's so good to be home!
What's more, the garden is absolutely full of self-seeded cherry tomatoes, perfect for roasting up with some garlic and onion to have on hand for spaghetti.
Yum yum yum! HOORAY ALL ROUND!