Monday, July 30, 2018

Inspire Me Monday: Making Japanese Paper-Inspired Designs with Digital Stamps

Hi there! Elizabeth Zaffarano here with another edition of  Inspire Me Monday!

Today, I’m going to share techniques and tips for creating your own chiyogami-inspired designs with digital stamps, Copic markers and foiling!

Chiyogami paper (sometimes called Yuzen paper) is that brightly-colored and sometimes busily-patterned-and-gilded paper from Japan.  The “good stuff” is laboriously silk-screened over and over again with all of the various colors to create a very delicate and detailed look.
Examples of chiyogami from my own collection
When Marcella released the Blossoming Cherry digital stamp, it reminded me of that beautiful paper. I wanted to see if I could create my own pattern, then color and foil it to make a similar design on card stock (spoiler alert: it came out very pretty). Then, when Miraculous Mushrooms came out, I wanted to do it all over again!

While I haven't needed to set up my own print shop (yet), creating these designs took several steps, some specialized equipment, and a lot of Copic ink and coloring! But it can be fun to experiment and make your own custom designs.
Because this project involves several techniques, I created headings to separate each part of the project.  This way, you can skip to the section(s) that most interest you.

Creating the Digital Image and Printing
To create the cherry blossom pattern, I opened my word-processing program (Pages) and overlapped different sizes of the cherry-blossom branch across the page.  I also isolated a few blossoms and petals from the design. There's a wonderful tutorial on how to do those things HERE.  I've found that word-processing programs have come a long way in terms of what image-editing tools are provided right in the software.  You can crop, remove the background, mirror and flip, as well as resize. So you might be able to do everything you want in Word or Pages.
Blossoming Cherry in Pages
For the mushroom pattern, I just imported the digital image into my word processing program, and copied and pasted a few different sizes.  I also flipped a few of the images (there’s a button for that!), for variety.  Using the line tool, I drew some dashed lines to add some motion to my pattern and provide a border for different background colors.

Miraculous Mushrooms in Pages
I printed my design on a laser printer, on 80lb Neenah Classic Crest Solar White card stock.  If you want to foil your design, you will need to print with a laser printer, or use a photocopier that uses toner. Toner is what makes the heat-transfer foil stick to the image.

Coloring the Design
Yes, you can color a laser printed image with Copic markers and then foil right over your coloring. And you don’t have to worry about staying in the lines, as the toner is apparently unaffected by the alcohol ink in the markers. It’s a technique I use all the time, and is a great way to get shiny effects from digital stamps.

coloring the background first

When I'm coloring before foiling, I try to shade a little simpler and bolder than usual.  This is because foil thickens the line work ever so slightly, and subtle shading or fine details can get lost.

coloring the main images first

While some chiyogami papers have very light backgrounds, many designs use darker colors.  If you have a collection of neglected deep hues, now's the time to use them.

Adding Background Patterns with Blending Solution 
Are you wondering how I got the subtle(-ish) patterning in the gray and blue backgrounds I colored? I used a technique that might be a little controversial, because I stamped with Copic Blending solution, which is 77% ethyl alcohol.

So I’ve read that alcohol is considered detrimental to the material that stamps (red rubber and clear varieties) are made of.  I’ve also viewed posts and videos with folks using alcohol on their stamps to no ill effect. Perhaps it takes time to see any changes?

That said, I do not recommend you try this technique with your most treasured/irreplaceable stamps! I’ve personally not seen any changes to the red rubber stamps that I’ve been using with blending solution for the past 6 months. I have not tried this technique with clear stamps and would not recommend it.

To ink up my stamp with the Copic blending solution,  I used a foam blending tool, and squirted a bit of the blending solution onto the foam.  Then I quickly dabbed it onto my background stamp.  I pressed the stamp onto my colored background and held the stamp on there for several seconds, then lifted up. When you lift the stamp, a very faint “bleached” impression of the stamp design will appear.  Wait another minute, and the design will continue to lighten and appear more distinct.

As soon as I finished stamping, I washed my stamp off with soap and water.

This is a technique that you’ll definitely want to practice first. I just colored some scrap card stock with at least 2 layers of ink and then compared pressing the stamp for 5 seconds, 10 seconds etc., until I got the desired look.  Tip: If you don't want to have to mask-off any already-colored areas, color the background first, then apply this technique, and then color the rest of the image.  I did not do that for the cherry blossoms, and I ended up having to recolor a few areas!

Do you want that pretty background look but don’t want to worry about alcohol on your stamps? You may achieve a similar effect using a stencil, and applying the blending solution with a foam blender through the openings.

Once the designs are completely colored, it's time to foil, using the heat-transfer technique.  This part requires heat-transfer foil and a laminator or a Minc machine.  For the cherry blossoms design, I foiled the entire sheet at one time, using silver foil.  For the mushrooms, I cut my 8.5x11" sheet into shapes and then foiled them separately. I needed smaller shapes because I wanted to try out a more matte/satin finish gold foil that came in a 6x6" package.

I followed my usual process of using a parchment paper carrier sheet, with a layer of card stock in between to provide stiffness, and set my Minc machine to heat setting 2.  The foil sets right over the Copic ink!

I haven't decided what to do with the mushrooms yet, but I made the cherry blossoms into at least one completed card.

I'm normally not a compulsive scrap saver, but there was a lot of time and ink put onto that card stock! Larger scraps can be cut into borders and smaller scraps can be turned into fancy stickers.

These scraps can be foiled later
Thanks for joining me today! Feel free to ask questions in the comments!


CherylQuilts said...

Elizabeth, what a FABULOUS idea, and I love the "fabric" you've created! Having been a quilter, I admire making these designs (as I still love fabric and the designs/patterns). What a fun Inspire Me Monday, my friend! I love it and thank you for sharing these wonderful projects! Hugs!

Julie Koerber said...

ABSOLUTELY AMAZING ELIZABETH! I am so glad we all got to see the step by step on this because we've been wowed by your creations on Instagram! Thank you so much for sharing. The results are just stunning!

creatingincolors said...

Oh wow how gorgeous! I'm partial to those cherry blossoms with that silver foil! I was lucky enough to be gifted with some chiyogami/yuzen paper a few years back, and I treasure it, using it for special cards. I understand your need to use every inch of the paper, and do the same myself. Now to think I can try my hand at making my own using your method! Thanks for sharing.

Ann Tuck said...

Wow! Absolutely beautiful - I'm in awe of your creations! So ingenious but also laborious, so it's obvious that you love what you're doing. thanks so much for sharing your steps in making this unique and beautiful paper!

jeanchaneyaz said...

Such a creative technique! Thanks for sharing!

Elizabeth Zaffarano said...

Can you imagine wearing these designs as kimono? The techniques and designs all migrated to making papers. Haute couture paper, I suppose!

Elizabeth Zaffarano said...

Thanks for your nice comment! I already want to try another design :)

Elizabeth Zaffarano said...

I hope you’ll try it! Always feel free to ask questions too! I’d love to see what you make!

Elizabeth Zaffarano said...

It’s definitely not a last minute project! If you make a full sheet though, you have plenty of material to turn into projects, which makes it all worth it! Thx for commenting :)

Elizabeth Zaffarano said...

I hope it put a little extra inspiration into your day!

craftychic said...

These papers are absolutely gorgeous!! I so appreciate you sharing your technique with us, thank you!!