a few of you have e-mailed me recently asking how i create backgrounds for my journal pages, so today i decided to do a quick lesson. the technique is simple: just smear inkpads on paper, and BANG! instant color. this was a happy accident that happened one day when i was playing around with collage, saw a few lonely inkpads, and wondered, "hmmm.... what if..."
and WOW. i was hooked, for lots of reasons: it is a perfect way to get vivid color on thin journal pages that would buckle or tear under the weight of paint. it is instant gratification for impatient people like me. it doesn't cost much - all you need is paper and an inkpad or two. and best of all, it erases blank page fear. the random patterns and shapes from the inking often spark new ideas themselves.
so, to get started, pick your journal or paper, then your inks. you can use pre-inked pads:
or ink your own. my favorites are these stinky and 'highly flammable' letraset inks. just the thing to have in a household with children. i also like the winsor & newton inks but i think that's just because they look like little shining jewels in the glass pyramid bottles.
nearly dry inkpads are the best for creating even color and cloudy effects. to protect your work surface, put another sheet of paper under your page, or even better, use a sheet of vintage something instead of a blank page. the color overflow will build up in really cool layers on the sheet and then you can use it for collage material. another happy accident i discovered while inking pages.
wetter inkpads add texture, patterns, and shapes. try rubbing an inkpad in circles, pulling it from top to bottom like a comb, dabbing it like a sponge, drawing lines with the edges, and rolling it from side to side to get funky effects.
to avoid overkill with the color, press lightly with the wet inkpads and use sparingly until you know how intense the color will be. you can always add another layer. every inkpad behaves differently; you'll figure out the cool quirks of each one along the way. all part of the fun.
try different combinations of color, shading, and blending. green/yellow go well together, as do yellow/orange and red/pink.
masking fluid creates interesting effects, too - i experimented with it last week. at first i wanted to do lettering with it, but found that masking fluid dries and gums up quickly. so precise lettering was out, but it worked great for adding more depth and variety to the background. give it a try. slap on some masking fluid in random patterns. (be sure to wash your brush immediately, or use yucky old brushes that you don't mind throwing away.) when it is completely dry, which doesn't take long, ink the page and then remove the masking fluid. you can either leave the space white or fill it in with another ink color.
keep goofing around with the inks and before you know it you will have a bunch of pages to use for doodling, lettering, collage, writing, and so on.
a few more tips:
*if archival quality is important to you, stay away from the dye inks. while they are the easiest to work with (they dry quickly and are great for color layering), after a while they fade in direct sunlight. pigment inks take longer to dry but they last longer. if you keep your pages in a closed book, though, the dye pads should work fine for you.
*if you are meticulous about keeping your inkpads clean for stamping, you may want to purchase a separate set just for this purpose, because the colors will indeed mix and taint the surface of the other inkpads.
*inky fingers are a guarantee, so if you want to protect your manicure, gloves are a good idea. i always forget this part so my hands are colorful nightmares.
*check out ricë's video with the inkpad in action. she shows you how to do this in bound journals, and how to wedge color in the inside binding area. and she makes funny commentary through the whole thing, as she always does.
if you play around with the ink technique and are willing to share photos of your experiments, let me know and i'll link back to them in a future post. happy inking! :)