Monday 26 January 2015

DIY Watercolour Gift Bags

   It's been a very long time since I've felt creative. I've been making a lot of jewellery for Valentine sales and for my art exhibit in the summer, but after Christmas I'd really like a break from that particular area of work. Casual crafts aren't something that come to me very easily, though, so when I'm being creative it is mostly for my shop. I've returned to finishing off my book at last, however, but it's slow going as I get back into it.
   But, over the past couple of weeks, and thanks to Miss Vicky Viola for my little surprise birthday package, I've finally gotten some ideas. And this is the first!
   It's far from difficult and far from unique, but these handmade watercolour gift bags can really pretty up a gift! I actually came up with it a couple of days ago when I realised I had little time to go out and find a gift bag for some little prezzies I'm bringing to The Netherlands next week, so I decided to make one instead, saving time and money as well as finally making some creative content for this blog. It's supposed to be half fitness and half craft, but I think we can all agree that the latter has been somewhat forgotten since the Christmas rush.

   So, to make these watercolour gift bags all you really need is card and paint. Watercolour paper, around 300gsm, typically, is the best to use since it's made for this kind of thing, and it's also more than stable enough to hold the bag's contents.

1. Take your paper and measure out the size you want your bag to be, marking off the folding lines. You can use two sheets for a larger bag, or stick to a single, full sheet and create a bag 11cm wide by 2.5cm deep as I did. This used up the entire sheet, uncut, and left a small panel for gluing at one end.

2. Score along the lines with scissors or a blade against a ruler, but for goodness' sake be careful. Don't fold it yet.

3. Next, turn the paper over and begin on the clean side with the watercolour paints. To make splotches like I did, you need to apply the paint in the rough shape and size you want the splotch to be. Once you've painted it in, dip your brush in clean water and drip it into the paint splotch. This will cause the middle, or wherever you dripped it, to lighten and the colour will flood to the edges, giving you harder lines when it's dry. If you want a soft edge instead, gently wash the wet brush over the edges of the splotch to lift the paint away. You can combine it, too, to give splotches both hard and soft edges. Be aware that the paper will start to warp, but it will flatten out again once it's all dry, which is one of the best qualities of watercolour paper.
   The colour will darken when it dries, so if you want a lighter finish, use some clean tissue and dab it (don't rub it) in the paint to soak most of it up. The edges will remain, but most of the paint will be lifted off
   It's best to experiment with this a little bit first, get used to the paint, the water, the depth of colour and the finish. The colours will never be even with watercolour used like this, the edges will probably be darker and if you've mixed up a purple, for example, you may find you can clearly see patches of blue and patches of red amongst the purple.

   Let the paper dry before moving on! You can run a hairdryer over it to speed up the process if you like, but let it dry naturally for a while, first, or you risk blowing the paint around.

4. Fold along the scored lines, remembering of course that the paint is on the outside, and glue the excess flap to the inside of the opposite end. Once it's fixed in place, glue the flaps along the bottom together. You might want to weigh the inside of the bag down to help keep it in place while it dries; I used a small pocket book.

   I added some string to the bag which I ran through the same watercolour paints and tied together through two holes which I think gives it a nice finish ^^


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