Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Drink from the Well: Chalk Pastels

This tutorial brought to you by Theresa B. of Egret Effects

A stamp is a stamp is a stamp, right? Wrong. There are all kinds of ways to make your stamps something special. One of the most cost-effective of treatments is using chalk pastels to turn a plain stamp into a veritable illustration. It’s the adult version of having a coloring book!

What You’ll Need:
Cardstock – a larger scrap piece and a smaller piece that will be the product
A stamp
An ink pad
A set of chalk pastels (available at craft and scrapbooking stores)
A blending pen (also available at craft and scrapbooking stores)

A Little Knowledge:
Chalk pastels come in a set of little colored bricks. The reason this treatment is so cost-effective is that you use such a miniscule amount of chalk per product. So even if you buy a set of just a few colors (a set of eight is $4.99 at it will probably last for years, and if you splurge for one with more colors (this one, from, has 52 colors for $27.72) it could very well last a lifetime.

The blending pen is a really clever product. It’s a marker that has no color in it – just the moisture. The first time you open the pen it’ll be white, but as soon as you rub it in a chalk it will take on that chalk color and never be the same. Yet the one pen can be used over and over with whatever colors you want. Genius, really.

Step 1: Every artist needs a canvas
First thing’s first; you have to start with a nice stamped image. Plain old black ink always makes nice lines, but any color will do as long as it coordinates with the chalk colors you’ll be using. As with any new technique, you would do well to do a few stamps in case your first effort doesn’t turn out to be the masterpiece you have in mind.

Step 2: Tap on, brush off
You don’t need a lot of chalk. A few taps on the brick with the tip of the pen is sufficient. In fact, if you try to use too much at once the color will be really bold where you put the pen to the paper but then fade very quickly to nothing as you sweep the pen along. Then blending the boldness into the paleness gets tricky because the more you go over the same spot, the more the moisture of the pen will compromise the fibers of the paper. The result is uneven color, warped paper, and little rolls of fiber stuck everywhere.

Thus, tap the pen in your color of choice and apply to the paper with very light brushes, blending as you go. You won’t be able to cover much area, so just keep going back to your chalk as needed. Keep in mind that most chalk colors aren’t very bold, especially because they’re being diluted by the pen’s moisture. Also remember that the place where you put the pen to the paper will be the most bold regardless of the amount of chalk you have on the pen – you can use this to your advantage by starting in areas where you want more “shading.”

Step 3: Switching colors
Here’s where the magic of the blending pen becomes apparent. When you’re ready to use a different color, all you have to do is wipe off any excess chalk on a scrap paper. The pen will not really look any different because the color will have stained it, but you’ll know it’s “clean” when you can swipe it across the paper and it makes a wet mark with no color. Now you can tap it onto the next color without mixing!

Step 4: Wash, rinse, repeat
Even washing your hair isn't this easy. Use as many or as few colors as you want; your stamp is now a professional-looking embellishment!

Here’s what I did with mine:

Happy chalking!