Wednesday, 29 March 2017

How to paint on slate the right way

Paint on slate - how to tutorial

If we were to tell you the most common questions we get asked here at You Can Folk It, it would be how to paint on to different surfaces.  Within our kits, you receive the materials that are best for beginner projects, mount board and wood.  We chose these because they require no preparation beyond base coating and they are a delight to paint being small, manageable (thanks to the flat, smooth surface) and easily replaceable should you be unhappy with the finished result (though we have never met a customer yet who doesn't love their first project).  

Our recent tutorials have given you step by step instructions on how to paint on to plastic and glass objects that are often available and begging to be reloved instead of being thrown away.  However, what about slate? There are so many different slate products in the high street at the moment, from notice boards to coasters, placemats to photo frames.  With their rustic look and hand crafted appeal, they make the perfect addition to any home.  

So, if you want to add a few hand painted details, what do you need to know? 

1.  As with any surface, to help the paint adhere to your project as much as possible, you need to make sure that your surface is clean and free from dust and dirt.  You can do this by simply wiping down the surface with water and a lint free cloth.  

2. Being a porous surface, to paint on to slate you do not need a primer as the paint will adhere to the surface easily.

3. You can base coat your slate if you wish.  To create a matte finish similar to the natural slate, choose a beautiful shade of Chalky Finish paint.  
4. Plan your design around your surface. The natural characteristics of slate means there may be areas that you would not be able to add designs as easily as you hoped.  Think about this when you are designing your patterns.  

5.  As slate can be easily scratched, in order to protect your project from signs of wear and tear, the best way to finish it is to apply two coats of varnish.  Even though you are varnishing your project, there is no need to compromise on the matte finish.  Seal your slate using two coats of DecoArt Ultra Matte Varnish and leave to dry.  

Please note: We recommend leaving your project to cure for a few days before using them.  While paint and varnish can feel dry to the touch, they need a few days to cure completely.  

Happy Folking, 

Carol x 


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

How to create storage that gets noticed

Making something out of nothing can feel so satisfying.  We are in the process of relocating our office at Folky HQ and we are rediscovering old boxes, bags and jars that we squirrelled away to paint another day.  As we need more storage in the office we thought we would get to transforming them and with Mother's Day later this month in the UK, we thought that there was no time like the present to share a fantastic project that can be used on any old glass jar or bottle.  The fantastic thing about projects like these is that if you make a mistake or you aren't 100% happy with your finished jar, all you have lost is an old jar.  

What you will need: 

An old jar or bottle
1:1 solution of Vinegar and water
A lint free cloth  

Before you start to basecoat the jar, you need to ensure the surface is absolutely clean. Although it is tempting to miss this step out, it really does guarantee you create the best finish. Use a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water to wipe down your glass. We have a lot of natural oils on our fingers that can ruin our finished piece so be careful not to handle the glass after you have cleaned it. 

NOTE: The ultimate grease remover is pure alcohol called Isopropyl. It is worth investing in some if you wish to paint a lot of glass and can be bought from Pharmacies. 

We could have chosen DecoArt Chalky Finish to basecoat our jar which would not require any Paint Adhesion medium to adhere to the glass.  For this project however, we used paints straight from our Series 1 Starter kit, including the Lamp Black to create a bold background for a striking project. To prevent the paint being scratched, add DecoArt's Paint adhesion medium to your Lamp Black (1:1 - you will not lose quality in colour or consistency) and using the sponge from our Starter kit, paint directly on to the plain glass. 

Once the paint has dried, using your traced pattern and transfer paper, transfer your design guide onto your surface - (don't forget any lids you may have if you wish to keep it). 

Begin to paint your design on to the jar.  You may wish to speed up the drying process with a hair dryer to prevent unfortunate smudges.  We painted our Bluebirds design using the paints provided in the Series 1 Starter kit. The instruction booklet and DVD from the Bluebirds add on kit takes you through, step by step, which colours to mix and how to tip your paintbrush to paint the two tone bluebirds.  

Once you have completed your design, sit back and admire your project and wait for the paint to cure.  Once your paint has cured, fill with pens and rulers, knives and forks at the dining table, flowers or indeed make up brushes as we have done here.  

We are big believers in documenting your painting journey to allow you to look back and enjoy seeing how far you've come since you first fell in love with Folk It.  So... if you have created this project for a loved one or if you're not 100% happy with it and do not wish to keep it, why not take a photo of it and add it to your painting journal to remind yourself of your creations.  

Things to remember.....

All paint needs to cure. A cured paint will be solid throughout, not just dry to the touch. Acrylics often feel dry a few minutes after being painted but in order to cure, it usually needs a couple of weeks. Factors such as humidity, number of coats and thickness of paint will also influence this time. A slick surface will mean paint is easily scratched off after a couple of days but becomes more robust after a couple of weeks.
Always remember, your painted objects are like a car. Scratch a car with a key and paint will come away. Similarly, if your object is scratched with some force, because it does not have that 'key', some paint will be removed, regardless of the paint used.  


Wednesday, 15 February 2017

5 benefits of learning to paint

It's true that the world of crafting has enjoyed much more attention in the last few years; maybe thanks to celebrities like Kirstie Allsopp and maybe thanks to the economy. It is certainly true that many crafters have embraced the up cycling trend as we begin to think outside the box instead of buying what we need straight off the shelf.

While many dabble with paper craft and card making, some delve in to baking and others decide to try their hand at sewing, many are often hesitant to learn to paint.  At each show we do, we hear so many people saying 'Oh I couldn't possibly paint' followed by their exclamations that they haven't got an artistic bone in their body...they failed art....they were told many years ago they were just not good enough. The list goes on.  The thing is, we are no strangers to these excuses, we've all said them but it made us wonder, why do we persevere? Why should we learn to paint? In all honesty, there are so many reasons why we should get out of our comfort zone and create but here are our top 5 reasons why we love to Folk It!

1.  It takes us away from the 'real world' When we paint, whether it is with our dotty tool or paint brush, we relax.  We don't have space to worry about the other things that are going on in our lives because we are busy concentrating on creating beautiful patterns or improving our brush strokes. There is no better feeling of 'being in the flow', that wonderful state where the hours seem to fly by.  We are not surprised when we hear that scientific studies have found that learning to paint can help us feel calmer, alleviate depression and keep our brains sharp.  For Folk It founder Carol, it is a form of meditation, a way of relaxing and even after 20 years of painting, she says there is no better feeling than the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes with painting a new design or completing a new project.

2. It allows us to re-discover our creative side.  For children, being creative is part of their daily lives but as we grow up, it becomes harder to hold on to that creativity.  Whether the enemy of creativity is outside (family, an unsupportive teacher or a friend) or within us (the critical voice that often seems to get louder the more we try to do something for ourselves), by the time we reach adulthood, we've often lost or damaged that creative part of us.  Being creative can help us become creative in other areas of our lives - to think outside of the box, to solve problems easier, to see the lighter side of life.

3. It helps co-ordination and dexterity.  Hand-eye co-ordination is so important and one of the activities children are encouraged to do when they are developing this skill is art.  By picking up a paintbrush or a dotting tool, it strengthens these abilities, improves these skills.  We love to hear stories from customers who have learnt to Folk It and found that it has helped them maintain mobility in their hands when they are struggling with medical conditions or that it has been a fun activity to help them rehabilitate their arms and hands after a stroke or accident.

4.  It is economical. Our main purpose for starting our Folk It journey was to teach people to paint, to help them realise that they can be creative...that it is not a magic skill only for a chosen few.  Once our customers got their hands on our kits however, they began to use our designs to breathe new life in to home decor they had fallen out of love with.  In a society where we are often looking for ways to be more frugal, You Can Folk It can help transform the most tired of possessions and personalise a gift.

5. It brings people together.  This is probably our favourite reason, especially in a world where many of us spend too much time on our phones.  There is nothing better than painting with a friend or loved one.  We cannot tell you how much we love our Ambassador courses because it is fantastic to see people inspiring each other.  Painting together starts natural conversation, stimulating learning and sparks so many ideas.  In an environment like that, you can't help but have fun.

Above all else though, learning to paint should never be taken too seriously.  The fantastic thing about Folk Art is that anyone can learn to master the skills with practice.  There's nothing worse than putting pressure on yourself for your work to be perfect straight away.  The fun is in the journey, the practice you do.  So grab your painting kits, get together with a friend, pop in the DVD and learn to Folk It.

Happy Folking,

The You Can Folk It team x


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Don't recycle....Upcycle

With the holiday season behind us, one thing that we have in our house (in addition to the lovely gifts we received) is lots of packaging; boxes, tins and jars that we cannot bear to throw away because they are too pretty, too sturdy and too useful to send to be recycled.

In time's when we are always looking for ways to save a bit of cash, one of the best ways to save is to create your own storage.  This does not mean, however, that your DIY storage has to be plain, undecorated or boring.

This week, we have been making use of our old sweet tubs and taking inspiration from vintage hat boxes to up-cycle our first project, just for you. We loved the look of some vintage hat boxes we found that were covered in beautiful roses. Although we have just used our rose design, you could add some stencilling to add to the hat-box feel, though the stencil you use will depend on the size of your project.  

For this project, you will need: 

A tub of your choice 
Flat base coating brush

Choose your project.  A Haribo sweet tub or chocolate tub is perfect for creating up cycled storage

The first decision you need to make is to decide what you will be upcycling.  This is a great project for experimenting with painting on different surfaces, for example painting on curved surfaces is very different to painting on to flat surfaces.  If your project doesn't go to plan, it can still be recycled and it hasn't cost you any money. We chose a leftover sweet tub from our Christmas gifts that was just going to be re-cycled.  

The beauty of DecoArt Chalky finish paint is that you can paint straight on to the surface without fear of the paint flaking off at a later date.  However, one thing you will need to do before you begin painting is to wipe down the tub completely with a mixture of vinegar and water to remove any greasy fingerprints.  Any greasy fingerprints left on the surface will prevent the paint from adhering to the surface.  

Once you've decided which shade of Chalky Finish paint you would like to use, begin painting the tub using a flat brush.  Be sure to cover every inch of the tub with the paint.  

1. Once the Chalky Finish base coat has dried, using your finger or, cloth or old brush apply Rose Gold Metallic Lustre around the lid.  Tip: if your lustre has hardened, put a little water in the jar, screw the lid back on and leave for a couple of hours or overnight to soften.  

2. Using the patterns, randomly place roses around the edge, alternating between 1 rose, 2 roses and 3 rose clusters.  Tip: to make it look more professional, trace a few of the roses off the edge as Carol has done here.  Next trace the larger cluster in the centre of your project, or in this case, the lid. Note: the patterns should print at the correct size. 

Next fill in the roses using your round brush from the Series 1 Starter kit as instructed on the Vintage Rose tutorial DVD. For this project, Carol used DecoArt Americana Naphthol Red. However, you can create a similar shade by mixing our Series 1 Tomato red with a bit of Lamp black, also from the Series 1 kit.  (To learn more about mixing colours, click here). 

3. Using Avocado green from the Series 2 kit, add the leaves following the tutorial from the Vintage Rose DVD.  Tip: If you do not have the Series 2 Starter kit, you could use the Hauser Light Green from our Series 1 Kit.  

Now you have the pattern to work with, add your comma strokes to paint your vintage roses, tipping your brush with Warm White - you can watch the full tutorial  on the DVD supplied in our Vintage Rose add on kit

Using your liner brush, add stalks to your leaves using Avocado around the tub.

Once you design is dried, using the warm white, add comma strokes using your liner brush. Finish by adding some 'filler foliage' this has been created by loading the end of the round brush with avocado and tipping the brush with white.

Leave to dry and apply a coat of Clear Creme wax using a round brush to protect your beautiful new  storage. You can either use it once it has dried or buff the wax with a soft, lint free cloth to create a soft sheen to your container. 

Happy Folking, 

Carol xx 


Monday, 14 November 2016

5 mistakes you're making when painting comma strokes and how to fix them

When we meet our customers at shows or at our Ambassador courses, they will often say that they love to complete our dotty designs made popular by our Starter kits and Dotty collection but that they just can't get the hang of comma strokes.  For many, it seems like a huge leap of faith to suddenly swap your dotting tool for a paintbrush and it can be easy to become disheartened with your progress if we don't get it right first time.  Sound familiar? 

The thing is, not everyone will experience these 5 issues, some may only be missing one of them but each factor can make the difference between a wonky comma stroke and the brush stroke you've always dreamed about painting.  The great news is that each one of them is a minor thing and we see them time and time again but we also see that with awareness, practice and perseverance, these issues can be overcome and anyone can create the perfect comma stroke.  

So, what are you doing that is throwing your brushstrokes off track? 

When we are painting, it is easy to become so focused on the act of painting that we don't consider the fact that we might be doing something differently to what we have seen others do.  The next time you sit to paint a design from one of our Series 1 add on kits, we would like you to become aware of these issues and, if you see that these are something you do, work on improving them.  

1. Thinking too much

Well of course we need to concentrate, we are learning a new skill! Right? To a point.... Yes, we need to think about how we are sitting, where our paintbrush is pointing but once we have mastered those, we should let the brush do the work rather than our minds.  So often we become so hung up on creating the perfect curve, the neatest point, that we try to control the direction our brush is going and flick the bristles or pull the brush away too quickly from our paper.  

We will let you into a little secret here..... if you position your brush on the paper correctly and move your brush slowly, you will find you get a much smoother stroke.  It does not matter if each practice stroke is not perfect, what matters is that you sit back, relax and enjoy the process.  The funny thing is that once your paintbrush knows you're more relaxed it will work with you instead of fighting against you! 

2. Loading your brush with too much or too little paint.  

When you load your brush with too much paint, you will find that as you paint your comma stroke, the comma will not be flat but will have two ridges of paint on each edge of the stroke.  If you do not load your brush with enough paint, no matter how you move your brush to create the point, your brushstroke will fade away and disappear before you can finish it.  

To see how to load the correct amount of paint onto your brush, take a look at this video (you will have a similar demonstration on your DVD included with the add on kit you've bought). 

3. Holding your brush too flat. 

When we are striving for the perfect brushstroke, we want to get it right and it's easy to think that if we hold our brush flat meaning the handle is close to our practice paper, then it will help us to control the brush more when in fact it often makes it harder to use. 

To overcome this, you need to forget about the brushstrokes and the outcome and perfect the way you hold the brush. To help you paint the best comma stroke, sit upright and hold your brush in the hand you feel most comfortable using.  Without using any paint to begin with, simply place your brush on the paper and point the top of the handle towards your shoulder.  For example, if you are left handed, the handle should point towards your left shoulder.  This means that your brush should be almost upright rather than pointing to a wall.  If you are right handed, your paintbrush should be pointing up and tilted towards your right shoulder.    

4. Holding your brush too high up. 

For many of us, when we have painted in the past, as a child or later on, no one has showed us how to hold a brush as there isn't necessarily a correct way to do so.  If you find that your brushstrokes are not coming out the way you would like them to, check where you are holding it.  If you grip your brush higher up on the wooden area, you are not alone and you need to reposition your grip now.  

To correct this mistake, you need to think of your brush almost like a pencil.  You should be holding your paintbrush close to the ferrule - the metal area of your brush.  Holding it here still allows you to see your comma strokes as you create them yet it gives you much more control when you are painting.  

5. Not putting enough pressure on your brush.  

It can be easy to be afraid of putting pressure on your brush when creating this lovely brushstroke and many new folkers tend to put just enough pressure on their brush for the bristles to touch the paper.  Doing this has a tendency to create thin, wobbly brushstrokes.  

To help you paint a confident, rounded comma stroke, as you hold your brush pointing towards your shoulder, press your brush towards the paper so that the bristles lay almost flat on the paper (but do not allow the metal ferrule to touch the paper) you will see the bristles spreading out slightly as you do (this helps to create the nice rounded shape at the top of the comma stroke).   Once you have added this pressure, to complete the stroke, slowly drag your brush and lift at the same time.  It is the process of removing this pressure and lifting the bristles away from the paper that helps to create the point at the end. 

It may seem daunting to try to tackle these issues but just as you learn anything new, it will get easier and with enough practice, it will become automatic.  As you practice, you are teaching your body how to carry out these actions, building muscle memory until eventually, your body and hands will help you create confident brush strokes without you having to consciously think about it.  Whether you have already perfected this skill or have some way to go, the fun is in practicing.   For us, completed projects are wonderful but nothing can beat sitting down and just painting and not worrying about the outcome.  

Happy Folking! 

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