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Ask the Artist

Our Artist in Residence, Dina Kowal, answers your questions

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  • October 18, 2017
    Q: Janet wants to know: "There are several types of Prismacolor pencils. Does it matter whether I purchase Premier, Scholar, or Verithin?"

    A: Each set has its own characteristics. For general coloring, you'll like the Premier pencils best. They have a soft core and high pigment load, and the largest color set. The Scholar line is a more affordable set of pencils with a smaller color range, less pigment, and a harder core. The Verithin pencils are designed for adding sharp details and fine lines - their core is also hard.

    October 11, 2017
    Q: Ramona wants to know: "What kind of dies can I use to make shaker ornaments?"

    A: You can really use any shaped dies that will nest together - they don't even have to be the same shape. In our Die Cut Shaker tutorial, it's recommended to have 3 dies - one for the outside shape, one for the inner window opening, and one in between to cut the acetate window sheet.

    October 4, 2017
    Q: Amy wants to know: "I decided to buy some watercolor paper and a water pen. I found the water pen left a lot of water on the paper and didn't blend as well as the blender pens usually do for me. Will blender pens work successfully on watercolor paper?"

    A: With the water brush, you can control the flow of water by blotting the brush on a paper towel or dry cloth. It may just take some practice to get used to the water constantly flowing. You'll want a wetter brush for larger areas, and dryer brush for more detail. Also, the water will 'lift' the pigment rather than just move it, as you're used to with the blender pen. You can use a blender pen on watercolor paper but keep in mind that the paper won't hold up to much back and forth 'scrubbing'. I use mine mostly with watercolor or Inktense pencils when I want a more defined line or fine details.

    September 27, 2017
    Q: Katie asks: "I would like to make boxes to hold 10 cards (5" x 7") and their envelopes to give as hostess gifts. I haven't been able to find a template that holds that many cards, or that size. Can you help?"

    A: We have a really great tutorial for making a lidded box HERE, and it's easy to modify the dimensions for any size box.

    For the base of your box, you'll need to cut your cardstock to 9-3/4" x 11-3/4". Score at 2" from each side. That will accommodate the size of your envelopes (5-1/4" x 7-1/4") with 1/4" around them on all sides, and give you 2" of depth for your cards. For the lid, your cardstock will need to be 7-7/8" x 9-7/8". You will score at 1" from each side. The lid has an extra 1/8" of width and length, so it should fit easily over the box base.

    For other size boxes, you'll find a formula for the dimensions in the tutorial above under Variations.

    September 20, 2017
    Q: Judy asks: "Many of us have stamps removed from their blocks. Can you share some ideas for what to do with the orphan blocks?"

    A: I think the larger blocks make neat themed decor items... I've also seen smaller blocks modified with velcro to create handles for blending tools. Here are some more ideas from the forums:
    -- make handles for sanding blocks or scrubbing pads
    -- make building blocks for kids
    -- decorate them with letters for Scrabble-type tiles
    -- mount photos on them
    -- make texture stamps or tools for gel printing or backgrounds using found objects
    You can find (or share!) even more ideas in the forum here, here, and here!

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