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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekend Project - Gift Tags

Yuletide gift tags: a blender pen tutorial

I was first introduced to the blender pen by my husband, who used one to illustrate a small book for me for our first Valentines Day together. I was amazed at how easy it was to transfer and manipulate images using the pen, and it quickly became a craft supply staple! This year I have used it to create some simple gift tags, and I really love the simplicity of the black lettering with brown paper and string wrapped presents.
A blender pen traditionally does just that, blends. It is a pen filled with a clear ink that artists use to blend their pens, chalk, coloured pencil, etc and give it a water colour type look. However, the clear ink also reacts with toner ink (photocopied, laser printed or magazine images work) causing the ink to lift of the image and can then be transferred onto a new surface. You can use a blender pen to transfer images onto paper products, fabric, lino (we use it for preparing block prints) or even wood. Here's how....

Material You will need...
1. A Blender pen (you can find these at most craft stores, and some stationary stores)
2. A burnishing tool, we use a small spoon or the handles of some scissors.
3. Photocopied, laser printed or magazine images for transfer
(keep in mind the image will 'flip' and create a mirror image so make sure to
flip any text you have before printing)

Step One: Loosening
Cut out your image, and place it face down on the surface you wish to transfer it onto. If you are transferring onto regular paper (especially in a book), be aware that the ink can bleed through a bit. While holding the image in place (I recommend leaving a decent amount of white space when cutting out the image, so you have space to hold it still), take your blender pen and apply even strokes across the image until the paper is almost translucent. Do not move the paper (not even between step one and step two). You have now loosened the ink to be transferred.

Step two: Burnishing
Now, how soon you move onto step two will depend slightly on your blender pen. If you are using a brand spankin' new pen it is likely that quite a lot of ink will come out, and this can cause your image to be over saturated or to bleed. To prevent this from happening, wait a minute after step one before burnishing to let it dry a little. This is also a good reason to do a few practice runs!

Burnishing is the step that actually transfers the loosened ink onto it's new surface. To do this, take a small spoon, scissor handles, etc and rub it all over the back of your image in small motions. You want to make sure you get all of the image, and don't be afraid to press hard, you won't tear the paper. Still don't move the paper (I mean it).

Step three: Check While holding your image in place with one hand, carefully peel up the paper to check that it has transferred successfully. Now, carefully switch sides and check the rest of the image. If it is still a bit faded or patchy, then repeat step two. Or, if you're into faded and/or patchy then leave it at that!

Once you're happy with your image, slowly and carefully peel off the paper being careful not to smudge. The ink will still be a little wet so maybe leave it to dry for a couple minutes.
Voila! Lovely personalised gift tags ready to use for all your Christmas goodies.

Merry Christmas!

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