Well, hello there! It's been quite a while since I blogged here...been up to my eyeballs in LIFE. You know, that pesky thing that gets in the way of EVERYTHING?!? As many of you know, my husband and I run a wildlife conservation center focusing on tropical endangered species, (RSCF). Spring and summer = BABY SEASON here and I have had my hands full hand-rearing endangered sparrows and parrots, not to mention caring for our 40 acres of primates, antelope and other avian species.
|From left to right, top row mountain bongo antelope, baby red-browed Amazon parrots.|
Next row Florida grasshopper sparrow chicks, Ninita, the Queen of pygmy marmosets.
It's been BUSY and I'm EXHAUSTED. So, forgive my absence, but my guilt is your gain because I to win your favor again I am going to GIVE AWAY a super-cool cuff while offering a quick tutorial on how I made it.
I have recently begun experimenting with alcohol inks on metal. I've seen many beautiful designs created this way and wanted to give it a go. Aluminum is one of my favorite materials to work with for cuffs. It's hypoallergenic and very easy and forgiving to work with. Forms easily because it's so soft, but hardens up nicely as you work with it, shines up beautifully and will never tarnish (plus WAY CHEAPER THAN SILVER). Yesterday I stole a few minutes to head to the studio to play and this is what I came up with.
I am a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type artist. By that I mean I have little time to spare, am impatient and always looking for products and methods that yield quick results. I also do not "plan" a design per se...I sit down and kind of go for it. I love "accidental" designs, and this cuff is an example of that.
Alcohol inks are a blast to work with, providing Immediate, INTENSE colors that work well on many metals, aluminum included. I got mine at Michaels, but you can find them at just about any arts and crafts store and a million places online. GOOGLE IT.
First, I covered my work space with paper because alcohol inks STAIN FOREVER. Bear that in mind regarding what you are wearing as well (sigh...goodbye favorite T shirt....). If you are fussy about your hands/nails wear rubber gloves or something.
Prep your metal. I texture all my cuffs by hammering the length of metal on a paving stone I have in my studio. I love organic textures on metal. You can leave it smooth if you want, but texturing gives the inks cool fissures and marks to fill and run--I like that. Next, clean the metal. I gave the cuff a quick scrub in the sink using Dawn and water. Dry thoroughly, try not to touch the surface too much with your fingers (but alcohol inks are pretty forgiving too--I've had good results on metal I totally forgot to wash). I use 6 inch lengths for cuffs and get my aluminum on Etsy. Just search "aluminum cuff blanks". For this cuff I trimmed the metal to give a tapered effect--slightly wider at one end than the other, about 2 inches wide at the widest end.
Lay it flat on your surface and--well--splash some ink on it! I have cotton swabs, paper towel and a small paint brush handy to work the inks around as well. Mostly I drip on some ink (the bottles have a nice dropper tip), tilt the metal and let the ink flow and drip. At one point I didn't like what I saw and while the ink was wet I wiped the entire piece of metal from one end to the other with a paper towel to see what happened. It made a BEAUTIFUL base coat of pale color! Surprise! I then began dripping and swirling again. Once I got the look I wanted I let the cuff dry fully in the sun for about an hour or so, Next I bent the cuff into shape with my handy bracelet bender, adjusted by hand to fit, then sealed the metal with 4 coats of spray PermaLac clear coat for metal, letting the cuff dry between coats. THE END.
|This is not my image, I lifted it from Jewelry Making Daily. It is the exact bracelet bender I use. I clamp mine in a vise.|
In creating the cuff I had to clean up drips and drabs that got on the back and edges and found the inks really hold up well and do not come off easily. I used a sanding sponge to get the drips off and had to rub pretty hard. After sealing, the colors remain true and bright and really hold up well. I will definitely be playing around more with this technique!!
Sooo, all you have to do to WIN THIS CUFF is comment here with your favorite summer vacation memory. I will add all your names to a random name generator and the winner will be announced NEXT TUESDAY (July 26th). My favorite summer vacation memory is visiting St. Augustine beach with my husband and watching him play in a tide pool like a 6 year-old. BEST. DAY. EVER. Now, your turn!
If you also use alcohol inks in your designs, share an image of your work! In the meantime, I hope you all are enjoying a fantastic summer. Now, GO MAKE SOMETHING AMAZING!