quilts, treadle sewing machines, crochet, watercolor, dogs, & other fun stuff

Bitcoins & Playing with Paint

Since last time, I’ve finished building the long strips/columns for the “Bitcoin” quilt.  Next was joining them along the vertical edges. 

Such long, twisty pieces are not easy to lay out and arrange, so I decided to just let it be completely random.  I tried to mix earlier strips with later ones to get a good distribution, but otherwise, I just grabbed two at a time and sewed them together. 

They’re all paired up, now (except for one left by itself).  I’m in the process of pressing them open, and then I’ll join those together, and so on.  It shouldn’t take too much longer, now…

Here’s part of the stack of pairs sewn together, before pressing: 

Because apparently I refuse to acknowledge that I already have more than enough crafty hobbies to occupy every spare moment of time, I’ve been watching some videos on YouTube, recently, getting interested in paper crafting and some related off-shoots…

It all started when I happened upon an up-beat and entertaining card-making video by Natasha Foote.  And then I watched another.  And another… (She’s made a ton of them!)

I started to think, “Hey, that looks like fun!  I’d like to do that, too.” (And if you’ve ever done scrapbooking, stamping, etc., you probably already have many of the tools and materials you’d need to try some of the techniques she demonstrates.)

In one of her videos, she made roses from simple watercolor swirls doodled over in black ink.  Very simple and easy, but fun and cute!  

I decided to give it a try.  

The first step is just painting simple circles and swirls in watercolor.  (Let the first layer dry before adding a swirl, unless you want it to bleed together.)

Then, after they dry, you go back over them with a pen.  Your doodle details can be precise or loose and free-flowing.  

I recommend watching the video linked above, if you’re not familiar with how to get that stylized rose look in the pen.  I had never seen anyone demonstrate how to do that before.  It’s very easy, with a little practice, and I love how it looks!

Lots of fun!

I enjoyed it so much that I decided to try again with different colors…

This would be a fun thing for kids to try, because you get nice results without needing any advanced skills.  

I’ve done similar things before, where you paint a simple shape in watercolor, then go back in and doodle a few details.  

After watching this watercolor tutorial from Ellen Crimi-Trent, I had fun painting watercolor fish, which I then made into a card.  

In this case, the only pen detail was the eye for each little fish, but you could also add air bubbles, a hook on a fishing line, coral, sea grass, ripples, or whatever else comes to mind.

So much fun to do!  Very easy, with cute results.  You could do them bigger, too, or in any color scheme you like.  

I so enjoyed the fish project that I tried to think of something else that would be a simple enough shape that I could easily paint the outline in watercolor, maybe with layers, and then go back in with pen-and-ink details.  I thought cats seemed like a possibility, so I gave it a try.  

My results were… well, cartoonish, but I guess that’s kind of the style with this type of painting.  I certainly wasn’t attempting realism!  

I think the fish are more foolproof, but with some practice, the cats could be better than my first attempt (once you learn what works and what doesn’t).  And they’re kind of cute, even as they are.  I believe kids could enjoy this, too, and it was pretty easy to do.  

One more watercolor project from the past, while I’m on the topic!  Succulent doodles in a heart shape.  This one was also inspired by something I’d seen somewhere online, but it’s been so long ago, I no longer remember where…

I think I made it in reverse from the technique described above.  Start by drawing petal shapes in pen/marker, then go back and color in with watercolor.  (Be sure to use a waterproof pen!  I think I used a fine-tipped Sharpie.)

Another of those card-making videos led me to gel plate printing, which also looked like an awful lot of fun!  So I started watching more and more gel plate monoprinting videos, and I decided I wanted a gel plate.  

Today I gave the gel-printing thing a try for the first time.  I haven’t gotten into anything too advanced—just barely trying it out—but I can definitely see why people find it an addictive hobby.  It’s fun to experiment and play and just see what happens when you try xyz, and the results are always somewhat unpredictable.  You’ll never get the exact same “pull” twice, which keeps things interesting.

The main three things you need to get started are a gel plate, a brayer/roller, and at least a few colors of acrylic paint. 

If you’re satisfied with a small plate (mine is 5″ x 7″), they don’t have to cost that much, considering that it should last a long time, if you take care of it. 

A small rubber brayer isn’t expensive, either. 

As for paint, I just used cheap crafts-grade acrylic paint I already had.  Nothing fancy at all.  Whatever you already have will probably work, if it’s acrylic.

For the prints in these photos, I used a foam stamp I’ve had for years, some stencils, and bubble wrap. 

You can use acrylic stamps, too, or you can make your own stencils / masks / resists.  I’ve seen people use leaves (real and artificial), strips of paper, paper cut-outs, empty carboard tubes, rubber bands, string, and more things found around the house to create interesting prints.

I have a long list of things I’d like to try!  

There’s a wealth of information and inspiration in demo/tutorial videos online.  (But I warn you, if you start watching, you’ll probably end up wanting a gel plate of your own!)

During “hobby time”, I’m still listening to The Talisman, by Jonathan Aycliffe, but I took a break from it and started listening to the latest (current) season of the podcast Uncanny (in which people tell their tales of spooky paranormal stuff).  I also just started another podcast, A Very British Cult (an investigation into a cultlike life coaching organization in the UK).   


I’m Michael (a female Michael, to remove any doubt).  I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast with my husband, Donald, and our crazy American Eskimo Dogs. 

I love to fill my spare time with various crafts and other hobbies, and this blog is where I share photos, record my progress, and ramble endlessly.

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