Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips

Okay, I’ll be honest… I am notorious for writing down tips I find online on a slip of paper with the intention of transferring them to a notebook for future reference. Well that “transposition” activity rarely happens. You know what they say about good intentions, don’t you? Yah, well my road to the “hot place” is paved with a gazillion post it notes.

Most days they are just stuck to my computer screen. But a funny thing happens. On those rare occasions when I actually *seriously* think about transferring all those lovely tips into a handy “art table” reference book, those post it notes just mysteriously disappear! Not into my book mind you. Not even the garbage can. Nope. They just wander, all by themselves over to that comfy, remote spot on my desk I rarely look at. Yep… out of sight… out of mind!

Oh, I tried doing the “computer thing”. Every time I found a useful art related tip, I would put it into a file in the computer. Then one day my computer suffered a terminal crash. You know the rest of the story.

Not to be undone by technology, I prevailed… I started a new file. Put in a couple of tips I found. Next time I went to open the file, I couldn’t remember the name of the darn file or even where I had “filed” it. That was when I first noticed “senior moments” !

Fast forward….

To be truthful, my true motivation behind starting Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips is self serving. However, it also has a good, healthy, higher purpose in mind mixed into the brew! I figure that if I start sharing my post it note tips with you, I will always be able to
a) find the tips when I want them by printing each “issue” of Thrifty Tuesday Tips for my art table reference book
b) rid myself of the post it notes littering my computer screen and desk
c) learn, do or discover something new IF ….
d) you are kind enough to share your tips with me.. SO
e) we can ALL benefit by having our “collective knowledge” stored online in one spot!
f) perhaps you will be inspired to make a handy art table reference book for yourself too!

An invitation….

I’d love to find some playmates! Do you have some tips you’d like to share? Would you like to play along with this thrifty tips idea in my sandbox? If yes, then…

Over the next couple of weeks, I’d like to tackle some “do it yourself” ideas around the one bug-a-boo of most mixed media artists – STORING OUR STUFF. Paper, embellishments, glues, mediums, trinkets, paint… oh the list is long!

Please consider sharing YOUR STORAGE TIPS by taking a moment to send them to me along with your name, blog/website address and a sub category suggestion in the subject line of the email (i.e. paper, glues, paint, etc.). I will sort them and include them in upcoming Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips!

So what kind of tips make your thrifty heart go pitter patter? Here’s what gets my heart a flutterin’…

If you have been doing mixed media for any length of time, you know this one. We could go broke in the wink of an eye buying stuff for our stashes! So before I go off buying more stuff now, I often look around for tips that will save me a few bucks or pull me out of a hole when I find myself in one.

I hit the jackpot the day I discovered the recipe for making my own stamp cleaner. I ran out of a small bottle I had purchased at the stamping store right in the middle of a project. My “art budget” for that month was sadly lacking in funds. I discovered how to make a great stamp cleaner for a tiny fraction of what a commercial cleaner costs and fortunately I had all of the “ingredients” on hand. Didn’t have to spend a dime!

Now besides finding tips that have the possibility of saving me a few bucks so I can go spend “what I saved” on something else (Oh, I know that sounds like robbing Peter to pay Paul but that twisted piece of logic works extremely well for the thrifty part of my personality LOL) I also like to do my bit for the environment too!

Doing my bit translates into recycling “stuff” whenever I can (using empty Styrofoam egg cartons as tiny paint pots for little jobs) or finding different ways to store all my stuff (empty mason jars for buttons, charms, etc.).

Zooming right along…

Being a believer in sharing first to encourage other to share, I am gonna “clean house” today (pun intentionally intended) I’ll start with a couple of tips around cleaning some of the “tools” you and I likely use most often…


Ever painted the walls in your home? If so, you probably have a paint edger, used to paint the edge of walls at the ceiling or the trim, kicking around in your garage with the paint tools. Snatch it from its lonely, almost forgotten spot and put it to work in your art room!

These paint edgers are made from the same material used in much more expensive “stamp scrubbers” you find in stamping stores. The next time you are in the hardware or paint store, purchase a replacement package for the edger. You can then use it to scrub your stamps after your next stamping session.


The recipe I like best (and I have tried a lot of them) is very simple to make. You can find all of the ingredients in your local pharmacy. It’s a good one if you are sensitive to chemicals or have allergies. This one works well on both rubber or clear stamps.

To one cup (8 oz) of distilled water, add 2 tablespoons of glycerin and 1 tsp. of baby wash. You can add some rose water to this mixture (makes it smell nice) but it is optional. Put the mixture in a household spray bottle, spray your dirty stamp, wipe off the excess with an old rag or “seen better days” towel. This will remove most of the ink. Now using your “new” paint edger scrubber, spray some of the liquid on it and to give your stamp a good clean.

A few notes about your stamp cleaning brew…

When making this solution, use ONLY distilled water. The chemicals in tap water can harden the rubber on your stamps (makes you wonder what those chemicals might be doing to our bodies huh?) and bottled water still has some traces of minerals that could potentially ruin your stamp over time. In a pinch you could use filtered water but I personally don’t think it would be a good idea long term. You can find distilled water at your local drug store or pharmacy. It is not expensive. You may have to purchase a larger jug of it but you’ll never have to buy another one for a very long time!

You can find baby wash (a liquid “soap” used to wash a baby’s tender skin) in the baby products aisle. I use Aveeno Baby (no fragrance) made by Johnson and Johnson. It’s the same bottle I purchased when my 6 month old granddaughter (she’s nearly four now) came with her mom to visit Gramma and Grampa for the first time. Other brands of creamy baby wash will probably work just as well.

Glycerin is often used commercially in beauty products and better brands of bathing soap. Pharmacies stock it in smaller bottles because the medicinal use is to relieve chapped skin, minor burns or for minor cough and throat irritations. If you don’t find it in the “cough medicine” or “chapped skin” product aisle, ask a clerk. Be prepared to tell them what it is used for… some of them seem to not know what it is!

Why does this recipe use glycerin?

When I first came across this stamp cleaner recipe on the web (I don’t remember now where I first saw it), I was curious as to why glycerin was called for in the recipe. I asked my husband, who, “in his old life” was a chemist and he said “Probably to condition the rubber, keep it from cracking or going hard.” Well we certainly want to prolong the life of our favourite stamps, don’t we? Make the effort to find glycerin.


I could just kick myself in the butt every time I forget to clean my glue brush when I am working on a project! I don’t know how many dried on, glue encrusted brushes I threw out before I discovered this tip: Soak it in GooBeGone overnight. The glue softens right up and you can then get all the “gunk” out of it.


I keep some HAND liquid soap in a container next to my “brush cleaning sink”. Once I have removed most of the water soluble paint from my brush by swishing it in a container of water, I squirt a little of the liquid soap in the palm of my hand, swish the brush in it, rinse it well under running water and set it aside to dry. With very little effort and mess, my brushes (and hands) are as clean as a whistle when I am done.

Well that’s it for today. See you Friday. Now go clean your (ART) house… LOL!


P.S. HELP!!! If anyone has a tip for cleaning burnt on glue off a teflon iron, I’d sure love to hear from you. I really messed up my iron this past weekend when I accidentally put my iron down on some heat and bond I was using to adhere some fabric to a piece of cardstock. What a mess… I have tried everything I can think of to get it off and it’s still a mess!