Acrylics v.s Fabric Paint / Screen printing ink
|Acrylic paint used on a fish stencil|
Gesso, Mod Podge, and Gloss Medium
You will be addicted to these items once you start using them, and they last for ages. They're essential to preparing your materials and creating a studier surface. They can be found at most local craft stores for under $10 a piece. Mod Podge is so common you can even buy it from Wal-Mart now.
|Gesso shows up on anything, including brown felt skulls.|
Mod Podge, also known as matte medium, will make you swear off Elmer's glue forever. It is a sealant and a glue, and can even be used as a primer in some projects. The substance appears milky white when it's wet but dries completely clear. It comes in a few different styles, like Gloss, Matte and even "Sparkle Glitter." Slathering a layer of mod podge over your next collage or craft will seal it together and assure that no edges are coming up. It can be used to protect painted surfaces from being scratched or damaged. Did I mention it's an amazing glue yet? For example, the textured surface of the picture on the right was achieved by mod podging pieces of scrapped burlap onto a plank of wood. The burlap became hard, sturdy and workable.
Another example on the left will show a regular piece of paper that has been coated with mod podge. The bananas have been painted with oil paints, and there is no signs of warped paper in sight. Mod podging a project can leave it with the extra "finishing touch" that is easy to achieve and impressive to look at. While researching for this post I found a wonderful blog dedicated to the many uses of Mod Podge. Check them out, they have a great list of fun craft ideas and it really illustrates how versatile this product is.
Gloss Medium and cheap acrylic paint
Good acrylic paints are expensive. Name brands can run up to eight dollars a tube. The cheap kind is half the price, but it tends to be chalky, brittle and lack luster. But don't toss your crappy Apple Barrel acrylics just yet. Instead, invest in a bottle of gloss medium for your acrylic paint. Just a little squirt of the stuff mixed in with your paint will make a world of difference. Not only will it make your cheap paints look glossy, it subtly changes it's overall consistency and texture and just looks more aesthetically pleasing.
Store bought canvas VS cardboard and wood
I never buy any of those cheesy canvas from the store. Do you know why? Essentially, the store brand "hard back" canvas is just a piece of grainy fabric stretched over a piece of cheap cardboard. You can do that at home for free. All you need to do is find some scrap wood or cardboard. It's a lot easier than you think. Get into a scavenger state of mind. Scrapped cuts of wood can be found anywhere, even in your own back yard. Neighbors, friends, maybe your dad can have some old pieces of wood they aren't using that they'd donate if you just asked. If all else fails you can find wood behind dumpsters (sometimes not even inside the dumpster!) or near construction sites. If you collect it when you see it, you'll have tons of great cuts to choose from in no time.
like I how did in my "hipster skeleton" piece pictured left.
I also have found collecting cardboard to be very useful for my work. Cardboard is great for when you're working on a piece that doesn't need to be as "heavy duty" (something you'd use wood for.) Depending on the quality of cardboard you can find, it's great for mounting pieces or decently sturdy surfaces for to work on. It's great for bookmaking and countless school projects. Once again like with the wood, ask your friends and family first for scraps or anything they might have lying around. You can also check with retail and grocery stores to see if they had any extra boxes. Liquor stores, for example will gladly give you an endless supply of boxes as they get all their products this way and find them a pain to dispose of. (This is a great tip if you're moving any time soon, by the way. FREE boxes.)
Fabric- apparently useless to everyone else in the world
Ok, that's all for now you guys. There's ton more to say about this subject but I will leave that for another blog post. In the mean time, do you have any "essential" art supplies that I forgot to mention here? Where do you go to find free and cheap supplies? Stay tuned for more suggestions and tips!