Sunday, March 9, 2008
More Texture!!! With Caulk this time!
Well, Sunday is a good day to do blog posting. I've gotten some requests to post about using caulk in my art, so that's what I'm posting about today. These six pieces are all made with caulk, and again, my main goal was lots of texture and dimension. I use latex or acrylic caulk that you can buy in the tubes (used with a caulk gun) at home improvement and hardware stores. They are easily accessible and also cheap, around a few dollars. Family Dollar stores also sell it for a buck. You don't want to get the kind of caulk that has silicone in it, because that kind is stickier and messier, and I've heard that it can ruin rubber stamps.
This technic is basically very simple. I spread the caulk in a thin layer over the base. I want the layer thick enough to imprint, but not too thick. For the base, I often use frozen pizza cardboard, my old stand-by. However, it can and does curl after the caulk is applied, so I apply water to the back with a paint brush before I spread the caulk to minimize curling. I apply caulk to the image side of the cardboard, after sanding it down to give it tooth. When I want a stiffer base, I generally use box (corrugated) cardboard, but the pizza cardboard works fine for smaller pieces. Even if they are slightly curled when the caulk is dry, it's very flexible, so the piece can be flattened out. After the caulk is spread, I take an old credit card to smooth it out evenly.
I use WD-40 as a release agent on the edge of the credit card, and on the stamps and tools I use for texture, so they don't pull up the caulk. Also, it's better to use sparingly, so I spray it on waxed paper and use my finger or a foam brush to spread it on stamps and tools. It works well, but smells bad. NOTE: on thinner unmounted rubber stamps, it can cause the edges to flute. On the thicker unmounted rubber stamps, it has no effect (that I know of). I've also used it with clear stamps, and haven't noticed any detrimental effects. However, long term, I don't know if it could damage stamps. I always wash off the WD-40 right after I use the stamps. There might be other, better, release agents to use. I'm thinking that vaseline would probably work, and need to try it next time I use caulk.
Once the caulk is spread, I give it 4 or 5 minutes to "set up", and then I start stamping and texturizing with various tools. Any tool can work, so be creative, because what you're doing is imprinting into the layer of caulk. You don't want to press too hard though and smoosh the caulk, you just want to get a good imprint. If you make a mistake, no problem. You can just smooth it over with the credit card and start over. But you have to work fairly quickly while the caulk is still wet enough, so it's a good idea to have all your stamps and tools out on the table for ready access. If you're doing a large piece, it would be better to work on small areas at a time.
Not only can you stamp and texturize the caulk, but you can also embed things into it, because it acts as an adhesive, whereas spackle and joint compound don't. In the bird postcard, you'll notice I embedded a puzzle piece into the caulk. So, use your imagination!
Once your piece is the way you want it, set it aside to dry. Caulk can dry in a few hours, but I generally let it dry overnight. Once it's dry, you can paint it, or not. Or rub brown shoe polish over it for a more vintage effect, over the white or painted caulk. That's what I did on the patriotic piece, and I really like the effect. I used the shoe polish as an afterthought, so now I know shoe polish works well on caulk.
So, that's pretty much the whole technic. Pretty simple and easy, right? And very inexpensive to boot. Caulk can also be used for neat dimension with stencils. Just frost it over a stencil, let it dry, and voila, you have instant dimension. When dry, it's very flexible and doesn't crack or flake off, which spackle and wallboard joint compound tend to do. I use both products for different effects. Sometimes, I want cracking and flaking, sometimes not.
For the caulk inchies, I do the stamping/texturizing on a larger piece and then cut it up into inchies when dry. I draw a one inch grid on the back of the piece before I start, and use a utility knife and a metal ruler to cut them out. I make up a bunch ahead of time, and then just pull them out and paint them when I use them in art pieces. I paint the inchie first with a brush, then use my finger to rub a different color over the elevated parts.
So there you have it. Now....run, don't walk, to your nearest store to buy some caulk, and start caulking. Have fun and please let me know how it works out for you. BTW, caulk also comes in clear, so there are possibilities for that too. I'm trying to come up with some.