Two Old Crows Folk Art Tips

Sharing the tips and techniques we have learned over the years with other in the hope of sparking their imagination and inspiring them to create
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"What I know is, is that if you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come."
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Mirror Mirror
If you're interested in seeing your creations - graphic or otherwise - in an objective way, hold the item up in front of and facing a mirror from a distance of 3 to 5 feet.. You'll be better able to critique your item and tell where another detail may be added, or another color repeated, or an area needs to be broken up with an addition of something.I rely on this method with everything I make and it never fails to give me success!
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Saturday, September 30, 2006

I just can't hold the news back any longer......I'm so excited ....I'm going to be one of the editors for the new online magazine Primitive Times Magazine( have my own column "From the Crow's Nest" on the its website ( I just can't tell you all how excited I am about this awesome opportunity Angela Wenke from Heartland Marketplace has given me.

Angela's motto and slogan for the magazine " Primitive Times Magazine- "where crafters unite" and "uniting our crafting community one crafter at a time" really is just perfect. There are 12 editors on the staff - each more sharing than the last in helping others out in starting their own business and sharing crafting tips and techniques. The website and magazine will be full of articles about things from a woman's point of view, crafting tips, recipes, decorating and business information. A downloadable version of the magazine will have its first issue in November and monthly after that so be sure to watch for it. Visit the website ( )and sign be sure to do that you dont want to miss the first issue!

P.S. The magazine and website are both offering great advertising be sure to check them out.....tell Angie the Old Crow sent you !

posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 7:09 AM   0 comments
Oopps I Got Paint on My Clothes
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Paint on Your Clothes

Opps you look down and there is that splatter or drop of paint on your favorite shirt. First never ward your favorite or best clothes when are asking for a disaster to happen ! No matter how careful and neat you are eventually the time will come that your going to get paint on your clothes. An apron is helpful especially at craft shows when you want to at least look presentable but the day will come when you will get paint on your own clothing. Try any of the following hints- sometimes they work - sometimes they don' t ! Caution these may remove the dye from your clothing leaving a worse spot so be sure to first test in an inconspicious place.

Fingernail polish remover - remember fingernail polish is paint . Dab some on the spot with a Q tip and then try to pick the paint off

Rubbing alcohol or vodka ( now if the spot doesn't come off just take a stiff drink and you own care- only kidding) applied to the spot may remove it. Test for colorfastness first and let it stand on the spot for about 5 minutes before rinsing in cold water

Hairspray- spray the spot with hairspray then hold under a faucet of cold water, scrape with knife carefully

Paint brush cleaner- paint brush cleaner such as Mona Lisa Pink Soap may remove the spot.

Thoroughly washthe spot if the paint still remains do not place the item in the dryer ( the heat will set the spot permanently) try one of the above again. If you cant get the paint out this now becomes your new paint outfit !

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 10:33 AM   0 comments
Folk Art Painting- Finishing Your Piece
Monday, September 25, 2006
Folk Art Painting- Finishing Your Piece

Once you have finished painting your piece it is time to protect it . This can be done either with a water based varnish or spray varnish. Varnish not only protects your piece but brightens the colors making it appear more dimensional. Some helpful tips for finishing your piece

For a shinier finish use a satin varnish and for a less glossy finish use a matte varnish

Be sure your piece is completely dry before varnishing

Remove all graphite lines with a art gum eraser

Wipe your piece completely with a tack cloth to remove all dust particles

When applying a varnish use nice long strokes and do not over stroke - this will leave streaky finish

Do not shake your varnish it will cause it to have air bubbles and foaming when you apply it to the piece

Apply 2-3 coats of varnish allowing it to dry thoroughly - drying time will vary according to the humidity in the air and be sure to wipe your piece with a tack cloth each time right before varnishing

When spraying an item spray in a well ventilate area
Never spray by pointing directly at the item you will get overspray causing yellowing and runs instead spray above the item letting the mist fall down on it

Items to be placed outside need to be protected with varnishes appropriate to outside use and be sure to do all sides

Remember varnishing is important to protect the hours you have spent doing a project

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 6:43 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Folk Art Painting - Highlighting and Shading

Shading and highlighting add dimension and depth to your project....without them your piece will look very flat. Shading is used to add shadows to a piece while highlighting adds light.

Choose the direction of your light source- if the light source is the left side everything should be lighter on the left side and darker on the right. Do everything the same .........the light only comes from one direction !

Use a darker shade of paint for shading and a lighter shade of paint for highlighting

The method I use for shading and highlighting is called "Floating" it will take practice to become consistent
Steps to floating :
Fold a paper towel ( I prefer Viva it has less lint) into quarters

Dip your flat 12 or larger brush into water the bristles will look shiny blot on your paper towel until the shininess goes away

Dip the corner of your brush into a fresh puddle of paint tbe paint should cover about 1/3 of your brush

Blend on your palette placing your brush and applying pressure onto the each stroke on top of the last until the paint is well blended on the brush.......going from a dark color on one edge to nothing on the otherNow stroke the paint on to the piece where shading and highlight are needed.

If you shading looks too harsh and does not soften on one side you need to blend more

If you shading looks streaky you took out to much water on the paper towel

You may want to try extender if you have trouble with blending.....this allows you longer drying time to play with the paint

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 3:15 AM   0 comments
Making Old Fashion Soap Balls
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Old Fashion Soap Balls

Old fashion soap balls can be created easily using either ivory or dove soap bars, they have the look and feel of old soap. For a more grungy looking soap ball roll them in spices such as cinnamon before they are completely set up (Caution do not use if you do this your skin may have allergic reaction to the spices- display only)

1 cup of instant Quaker oatmeal
1 bar of ivory or dove soap
1/4 cup of water

Grind up the oatmeal in a food processor until finely milled but do not grind to flour you want it chopped up enough to break up the oatmeal flakes but still be visible

Grate the bar of soap into small slivers
Place the soap and water into a large microwavable bowl and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. Stir the mixture once or twice making sure it does not bubble over

When the soap is dissolved remove from the microwave and add the ground oatmeal slowly stirring constantly

Let cool enough to touch then form into balls placing on wax paper to set and dry. It will take about 2 hours for them to set.

Oatmeal soap balls have a great old fashion look and can be displayed in old soap dishes, vintage jars, wooden bowls and baskets in primitive or country bathrooms or kitchens.

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 11:09 AM   0 comments
Making Your Own Lavender Linen Spray
Lavender Linen Spray

Lavender is known for its wonderful aroma and soothing benefits. You can make this spray for ironing, to freshen sheets and towels in the linen closet, on old linens to freshen them, as an air freshner and on your pillowcase just before going to bed - it will relax you and help you fall asleep.

Ingredients for a 5 ounce bottle:
4 ounces of distilled water (tap water will cause it to become cloudy)
1 ounce of 100 proof vodka or ethanol (rubbing alc0hol -do not use isoproyl)
10 drops of lavender essential oil
5 ounce spray bottle ( dark glass works the best)

Mix the essential oil into the alcohol, the alcohol will take on the scent of the oil. Slowly add the distilled water stirring constantly. Fill the bottle

Store in a cool dark place and shake well before using. Test on fabric in an inconspicious spot before spraying the entire piece.

Other non staining essential oils such as juniper, eucalyptus, rosewood or peppermint can be substituted for the lavender.

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 10:59 AM   0 comments
Fleecing Wool Felt
Fleecing Wool Felt

To give wool felt that aged look making it perfect for crafting is very easy by following a few simple steps. This technique will only work on wool felt you can also do it with 100% wool fabric.

1.Using cold water wet the wool felt completely do not agitate. Colors should be done separately because dyes will be let loose and can run ( expect the water to change color)

2.Squeeze out by hand as much of the water as possible do not wring the fabric this will only stretch it and make the fibers weak.

3.Place the fabric in a dryer on the regular setting and nearly dry ( I find that this takes about 20 minutes in my dryer) Do not place both dark colored and light colored fabrics together they will bleed on to each other.
*Place an old towel in the dryer after removing the fabric and continue to the drying cycle- this will remove any excess dye from your dryer

4. Lay the fabric flat to finish drying smoothing out the wrinkles the best you can with your hand.

5. Press with a steam iron

This fleeced wool felt in great for making sheep, crows, penny rugs and other primitive items . It may be tea stained to give it an even more worn look.

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 10:50 AM   0 comments
Tea Staining Fabric
Tea Staining Fabric

Tea staining has been around a long time and was first used to hide stains on linens. It is one of the most popular ways to stain fabric and gives it a warm antique look. Different types of teas such a green tea, black tea, rasperry and herbel teas will give you different tints and tones on fabrics so don't be afraid to experiment a bit. Hibiscus tea will give you red tones while black teas give more of a soft brown or cream tone to the fabric. Tea staining works well only on natural fabrics- muslin, cotton, linen and wools dye well. It is very easy to do and just takes a few simple steps

If you fabric is new be sure to wash it first to remove the sizing before dying.I have found 4 cups of water and 4 single cup tea bags will dye one yard of fabric.

Bring the water to a boil and remove from heat add tea and let set for about 5 minutes until the liquid turns the desired color. Remove the tea bags from the water if you dont the tea bags may make dark stains on your fabric

Wet the fabric in water thoroughly, removing excess before putting in the tea mixture- stir gently

Let soak for approxiamately 10 minutes checking to see if the fabric is dark enough. Remember you fabric will dry a shade lighter.

When fabric has reached the desired color remove from the tea mixture and rinse well with warm water and a mild dish soap- if you dont the fabric may become damaged by the tea- tea contains acid which can destroy fibers over time

Line dry or place the fabric in the dryer. I like to put the fabric in an old pillowcase to protect my dryer and if Im going to put in white clothes right after I will wipe the dryer out if it jeans I just dont worry

When the fabric is dry if you want it darker repeat the process , if the fabric is too dark wash the fabric in a gallon of water to which you have added 1 tablespoon of bleach this will lighten the fabric- rinse thoroughly and redry

If I am going to use the fabric for something that is going to be washed I will soak it in a gallon of cold water to which I have added 1 tablespoon of vinegar to set the color.

Have fun tea staining - remember the possibilities are endless -old linens, clothes, etc can all be tea stained !

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 10:31 AM   0 comments
Folk Art Painting - Liner Work
Monday, September 11, 2006
Folk Art Painting- Liner Work

Practice...Practice....Practice... it takes practice to do good liner work in painting....there really aren't any shortcuts ! Here are a few helpful hints

You can not do good liner work by just dipping the tip of your brush in paint you must fill the brush with paint

When doing liner work your paint must be the consistency of ink. Dip your brush in water then in the side of the puddle of paint pulling a little of the paint to the side. Stir gently and then dip your brush in the water once more adding water to this paint on the side until the paint is nice and thin like ink

Now load the liner brush by stroking gently back and forth across filling the bristles with the ink consistence paint pulling the brush to a point

Hold your brush perpendicular to the surface do not let the brush handle slant backwards and use only tip end hairs of the brush. You must stay up on the tip end of the brush hairs for maximum control

You can either push the brush towards you or away find which way works best for you I prefer pulling toward me.

If the paint is to thin your line will look faded this means you have added to much water if it looks scratchy you have added to much- adding the correct amount only comes with practice

Do not rest your hand on the surface stick out your little finger using it for support and balance

The amount of pressure you apply will determine the thickness of the line....less pressure the line is thinner more pressure the line is thicker

Focus ahead of your line work rather than right where you painting- you will be amazed how much straighter your line will be

Liner work is important to the look of your final piece it requires lots of practice so don't become discouraged and don't give up !

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 3:49 PM   0 comments
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Folk Art Painting- Brush Care

This is truly a do as I say not as I do- I ruin many brushes by not taking care of them properly and good brushes are expensive. The tips here I have been told many time by other teachers and they will extend the life of your brush and make painting much easier.

Buy the best brushes you can afford and take care of them !

Remove the packing "goop" out of new brushes
before using with water.

Rinse brushes often when painting
Use old brushes when painting a rough surface

Do not let your brushes stand in water- this will ruin the tips and will also break down the glue that holds the bristles. It is very difficult to do liner work with a brush that has a hook in it which is what happens if a brush is left resting against a surface. Chisel edges will be ruined making them hard to float with. Carefully press your brush down on bottom of the container flaring the bristles like a fan and move back and forth several times removing the paint. Blot on a dry paper towel and lay flat.

When you are finished painting give them a thorough cleaning

Try not to get paint down into the ferrule (metal part of the brush) and remove promptly if you do. Paint stuck here will cause the bristles to separate not allowing for a good tip or chisel edge to a brush

Never put your brushes in hot water - use only cold or luke warm, hot water will set the paint into your brushes.

When finished painting take the time to clean your brushes thoroughlybrushes can be either cleaned with cake soap or liquid cleaner
Cleaning with cake soap- I prefer ivory soap for cleaning brushes. Stroke the brush back and forth over the cake of soap then work into a lather in the palm of your hand. Repeat as many times as necessary to remove the paint ( the lather will no longer turn color but remain in its original color)

Cleaning with a liquid soap is the same method except that instead of stroking the brush back and forth over the soap you need to place a small amount of the liquid soap in your hand ( I use shampoo for liquid soap remember bristles are hair if you are buying good brushes)

Reshape the brush- I reshape brushes by placing them in my mouth( that's right) bringing liners and round brushes to a fine tip and flat brushes to a chisel edge. Spit makes a great brush shaper !

Store you brushes so as to protect your tips from bending. Brushes should be store flat. Brushes stored upright may eventually has loose bristles.

Just remember to take good care of your brushes and they will last a long time and be a good investment !
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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 5:42 AM   0 comments
Saturday, September 09, 2006

Folk Art Painting- Transferring the Pattern

Transferring your pattern on to your piece can sometime present problems....your pattern may not fit properly even on piece of cut wood ( this is because the wood may have changed size a bit from sanding or from the wood cutter not having the original pattern).

Place your pattern on the design area and line up the edges the best you can making sure the pattern is straight vertically and horizontally in the middle of the pattern.Other helpful hints to transferring a pattern are below.

Tape your pattern securely to the piece.

Choose correct piece of transfer paper for background. White transfer paper should be used on dark backgrounds and black or gray graphite on light backgrounds.

New graphite or transfer paper should be wiped with a paper towel to remove the excess otherwise your transfer will be to dark and smudges will appear on your piece. If this does happen carefully remove the smudges with a artist gum eraser ( this type of eraser will do less damage to your painted surface )

Slip your graphite paper between your piece and pattern making sure the graphite side is against the piece - I don't know how many times I have traced a pattern only to find out I have traced to the back of the pattern piece rather than the piece.

How much of the pattern should I trace is often the question ? I only trace the silhouette then basecoat and then go back in a trace the details in. Any details I feel comfortable free handing I do not trace.

Only use light pressure when tracing with your stylus other wise you will dent the surface. Begin at the top of your pattern and go in continuous path jumpy all around the pattern will only make you lose your place. You can always left your pattern and graphite very carefully to see where you are if you lose your place but be very careful and realign when placing it back or your pattern will be off.

When finished check your work carefully and remove any wrong placed lines or smudges with you artist gum eraser
posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 5:15 AM   0 comments
Folk Art Painting - Basecoating
Friday, September 08, 2006
Folk Art Painting- Basecoating

Basecoating is very important to the look of your finished product- you want the layers of paint as smooth as possible. The tips below I have found helpful when basecoating an object or piece of wood.

Use a good brush. Many people basecoat with sponge brushes which can work well for a large area and are inexpensive and can be disposed of. I prefer a 3/4 wash brush for most project, with this brush I can achieve a more even and smooth coat of paint.

Do not overload your brush with paint. To much paint will leave ridges on either side of the brush. Pick up paint from the edge of your puddle of paint on your palette and work into the bristles of the brush ( do not work the paint down into the shaft portion- this will ruin your brush).

Always use the largest brush possible for the space- I know this is scary but will lead to less brush strokes which will make smoother work.

For background basing use your sponge brush or 3/4 wash brush. Basecoat the design area by first outlining the section you are painting and then filling in the middle- this will lead to few strokes.

Do not put the first coat on too heavy - it will take more than one coat to cover. Sand lightly between coats and wipe with a tack cloth before applying a second coat. Most colors will only require 2 coats but colors such as certain greens, red and yellow will require more. Be patient and put nice smooth coats on. Sometimes it helps to paint the first coat under red an orange color.

Clean your brush if the paint begins to dry in it - this will cause the bristles in the brush to split thus giving you an uneven coat.

Good luck with basecoating !

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 6:26 AM   0 comments
Folk Art Painting - Tracing Your Pattern
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Folk Art Painting -Tracing the Pattern

Tracing a pattern is time consuming but it is important to trace a pattern accurately. Distortions can cause problems later . Below are a few tips I find helpful when tracing.

Always use tracing paper - it is much more transparent then other paper and will allow you to trace details accurately

You can trace with the fine point of pencil or a mechanical pencil. I prefer fine tip black markers these do not smudge and smear giving me a much sharper line.

I will either tape or paper clip the tracing paper to the pattern. Be sure you trace on a nice flat surface to make your tracing more accurate and easier.

Tracing takes time so I like to store my finished tracing in a plastic sleeve in a 3 ring binder for future use with this I might add any notes, pictures, etc. making the next time I do this project easier. Be sure you note on the tracing where it came from- as your collection of patterns grows it will become difficult to remember what book, magazine, etc. that pattern originally came from.

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posted by Debbie- Two Old Crows ( @ 11:24 AM   0 comments
About Us

About Us: Two Old Crows was named for Debbie and Dean because we are old and grumpy. We enjoy scouring flea markets, antique shops and estate sales for vintage and antique items to mix with the folk art we create.
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