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Ask the Artist

Our Artist in Residence, Dina Kowal, answers your questions

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  • June 20, 2018
    Q: Elizabeth asks: "I am brand new to Copic markers... most of them are working great, but I have one marker that randomly drops ink blobs while I'm drawing with it. Is there something I can do?"

    A: Alcohol markers leak when they're either overfilled or they experience a change in pressure... this change can be caused even by the warmth of your hand. When I'm coloring, I pay attention to the amount of ink in the nib - if it starts to look full or wet, I remove the cap from the other end of the marker and stop for a moment. This allows air to flow through the marker so the pressure can equalize. If you're still concerned about dripping, color off the excess ink on a scrap piece of paper until the nib looks normal again.

    June 13, 2018
    Q: Dina wants to know: "Does anyone know it the thin metal dies will cut good quality felt? Also, do you know if it dulls the thin metal dies?"

    A: Wool felt or the wool/rayon blend felt will cut very nicely with the wafer dies. (Acrylic felt will tend to have areas that don't cut through, and can pull and stretch.) Cutting felt will not damage or dull your dies... unlike steel rule dies, which have an actual blade, wafer dies cut because of the pressure created by the rollers of your die cutting machine. I read of a test done by Sizzix where a die was tested 10,000 times and still cut perfectly!

    June 6, 2018
    Q: Kendel wants to know: "I bought some sticky embossing powder but I have had no success with it. If I get it melted just right, it gets hard immediately, and nearly nothing sticks to it. Otherwise, it melts too much and just soaks into the paper. Do you have any suggestions?"

    A: Have you experimented with other papers? The finish can really make a difference, so you might try changing that factor first. With sticky powder, try heating just until the powder gets shiny, apply whatever flock, foil, glitter, etc. you are using right away, and then reheat the powder to reactivate the adhesive - it's that second heating that really locks down the embellishment. Sticky powder has a shelf life too - if you make these changes and still aren't getting good results, you may have an older container.

    May 30, 2018
    Q: estamps wants to know: "I sponged oxide inks onto glossy cardstock then “polished it” with Distress glaze. The finished product looks bare and I would like to stamp a word or two on it. What ink should I use?"

    A: I made a quick background and put all my inks to the test over the glaze. Here's what I found... Stazon and Versamark/ embossing were the winners! Stazon dried well without heat setting - some of the other inks might have dried with heat setting, but they didn't product clear images on the surface and some had trouble sticking at all. I was a little hesitant to heat embossing powder over the glaze, but it didn't seem to affect it at all, and it produced a nice, clear image over the background. You can see all my results in this thread!

    May 23, 2018
    Q: Ann asks: "I want to add bits of color to black and white glossy prints that I already have, or to intensify color on color glossy prints. Is there an easy way, or a way to use supplies that I might already have?"

    A: I've used dye-based markers and powders on photo paper, and I've also used alcohol markers with success. I found the Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers very easy to control. Watercolor paint will also work, but it's more difficult to anticipate the amount of water needed, and to deal with the strength and texture of the paint once it's on the paper. I'd suggest making an extra print to test your colors on before you do your final work - some of my marker colors were more intense on the photo paper than their index colors indicated. Also remember you won't be able to blend colors on the paper, so plan ahead if you want to layer or add shading.

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