Watercolor projects are so popular today, and I want to share some techniques with you for creating a watercolor look. Today’s technique is watercolor stamping. Here are several examples —
Watercolor stamping doesn’t take too many new supplies. The essential items are: 1) watercolor brushes (I used standard brushes, but you may also be able to use an aqua brush — one with the water chamber built-in); 2) a source for clean water (I used an artist’s palette cup, but you could also use a cup or anything else that holds water); 3) watercolor paper (see discussion below); 4) a stamp set; 5) an acrylic block; and 6) watercolor markers (I used Tim Holtz Distress Markers and Spectrum Aqua Markers). I had most of this in my stash — the only things I needed to purchase were the brushes and the paper.
The brushes that you need for this technique should be of fair quality (your kids’ watercolor brushes probably won’t work, but they don’t have to be artist quality either). You’ll want a round brush (I used mostly size 2, but also have size 4 on hand for bigger projects) and a flat brush (mine is 1/2″). If you’re looking at artists’ brushes, make sure that they indicate they are for use with watercolors.
The paper that you’ll want to use is watercolor paper. It can handle the water much better than the regular cardstock that you use (which may tend to just fall apart when soaked with water). The most recommended brand (I can’t chime in because I haven’t tried it) is the Ranger/Tim Holtz watercolor paper. It is a heavyweight paper that is textured on one side, and smooth on the other. You can choose which surface best meets your needs. Note that stamping on a textured watercolor paper can be somewhat difficult, so you may want to have at least some of the smooth paper. I generally purchase a pad of artist’s paper and cut it to size. This is much more economical, especially when you’re just learning the technique. Watercolor paper varies a lot, so be sure to check it out before purchasing it (i.e. don’t just purchase the cheapest, etc. — it may not meet your needs).
The first card is made using a new Tim Holtz Stampers Anonymous stamp set, “Flower Garden”. There are six beautiful flowers (and stems) in this set, and I chose the one that I think is a cone flower to start with. First I cut a piece of watercolor paper approximately 4.25″ x 5″. I placed the coneflower on an acrylic stamp block, and used Tim Holtz Distress markers to add color to the petals and to the center. For this pass, I used a darker purple (Seedless Preserves) for the petals and a gold color (Mustard Seed) for the center. Before stamping, remember to “huff” to reactivate the marker (this adds just a little moisture to make sure that the color transfers properly to the watercolor paper). You could lightly spray the stamp or the paper as an alternative to huffing, but it often adds too much water so that your image is fuzzy to start with. Be sure to “rest” your stamp on the paper for a minute to allow the color to transfer to the paper.
Once the image was stamped, I used my #2 round brush to pick up a little water (not too much, you may want to dab some off on your hand, etc.) and then began to carefully color my image. The water picks up a little of the color from the stamping and so you begin to see you flower becoming a light purple. Be sure to keep the water under control, the results are not as good with too much water (see my video for an example). I did the same thing with the center, just using the plain water to pull the color from the stamping throughout. When I was satisfied with that look, I began to add some additional color. For the center, I used Brushed Corduroy as an accent color. To do this, I removed the stamp from the acrylic block and scribbled some Brushed Corduroy on the acrylic block (using the brush tip side). Then I carefully wet (but not too wet) my brush and picked up a little ink from the acrylic block and carefully applied it to the flower center. You have so much control with the paintbrush — I was very surprised with this. I used Shaded Lilac as the accent color for the petals. Once the flower was complete, I used a similar process to stamp on the stem and leaves using two different greens. The beauty of this technique is that you can continue to layer and blend the color until you’re happy with the result. Remember that the image lightens up significantly when it dries.
My second card, the botanical rose, was stamped using Heartfelt Creation’s Botanical Rose Bouquet stamp set. This was a larger image with more colors, so I needed to take a little more time in “coloring” the stamp with my watercolor markers. I used my Spectrum Aqua markers for this image because it has more bright colors than the Distress set does. Even though this stamp was larger and had more coloring on it, I was able to reactivate the watercolors using the huffing technique. So I just stamped it on the watercolor paper and colored it as indicated above. This stamp needed even more depth and dimension than the first one, so I added 2 additional colors to the flower and the center to achieve the desired look. I thought the leaves were fine with just two colors. This one took just a little more layering than the first image did to achieve the look I wanted, but it was the same simple technique.
I used a little different technique for my last card. This is called “borderless stamping”, and is a way to transfer an image to watercolor paper for coloring. Because the stamping is so light, it often looks like the image was done free hand. So I began with one of the butterfly stamps from the Heartfelt Creations Botanical Wings stamp set. I attached this to my acrylic block and inked it up with Smokey Gray ink by VersaFine. (I used VersaFine rather than Distress ink because I didn’t want it to react with the water. Many use Antique Linen Distress ink for this technique.) This is a light gray, but is still too dark for what I wanted here, so I began by “stamping off” the butterfly image, and then used the remaining ink on the stamp to create the butterfly image on watercolor paper. It was a very light gray, but easy to see the image. The next step was to go over the entire image with my watercolor brush using just some plain, clean water. This helps to define the area that will be colored, and will allow me to use less water when adding color so that the colors turn out more vibrant. Once this was done, I began coloring the butterfly from the center out to each side using the various colors of Distress Ink markers (the colors don’t matter so much — you just want to pick colors that you like and that work with the rest of the project. Once done, you can set this piece aside to dry.
I also made a background for the butterfly image — one that I’ll later stamp with Dream in Beauty by Heartfelt Creations. The background is also very easy. First I cut a piece of watercolor paper slightly larger than I wanted to use for the project — here 4.5″ x 5″. I used my 1/2″ flat brush to cover the entire piece of watercolor paper with clean water. Then I began adding colors randomly, putting them side by side so that they will blend (the already wet paper allows this to happen). I used the same colors of Distress markers for this as I did for the butterfly. Of course you could also use traditional watercolors, or Distress inks or any number of other things to make the background. Once your background is done, you’ll need to let it dry. When the background is fully dried (you can speed the process by using your heat gun, just be careful to not singe the paper), stamp the Dream in Beauty image on it in black ink. I used onyx black VersaFine ink (won’t react with water like the Distress inks will) in case I needed to go back and work with the watercolors, etc. Be sure to let the ink fully dry before completing the card. In my 20/20 hindsight, I wish that I had heat embossed this image — I think the result would have been nicer.
I had so much fun creating these watercolor cards. I think you’ll find that this is also very addicting. My video this week is on the long side (sorry about that!), but it gives you a closer look at the techniques described above.
I hope that you’ll enjoy using this watercolor stamping technique. There are many more videos on YouTube that demonstrate this technique (I especially like the ones by Dawn from W Plus 9). Stay tuned to this blog for some additional watercolor techniques over the next several weeks.
Supplies available from Cut @ Home:
Tim Holtz Stampers Anonymous stamp set “Flower Garden” (SKU CMS215)
Heartfelt Creations stamp sets — “Botanical Rose Bouquet” (SKU HCPC-3653); “Botanical Wings” (SKU HCPC-3652); “Dream in Beauty” (SKU HCPC-3655)
Heartfelt Creations die set — “Botanical Wings” die (SKU HCD1-758)
Angel Crafts Adhesive 1/4″ — (SKU ACT-1414)
Sizzix Big Shot –(SKU 657900)
Tim Holtz Distress Markers — (SKU TDMK39082)
Supplies from my stash: assorted cardstock; Spectrum Aqua watercolor markers; ribbon and lace; Sweet ‘n’ Sassy “Lacey Eyelet Borders” die set; Smokey Gray and Onyx Black VersaFine inks; pink Prima wire thread; embellishments
Thanks and Happy Scrappin’!