Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tenstagram Tuesdays #1

Tenstagram Tuesdays is going to be a regular feature here at ButtonMunch. Ten of my favorite Instagram photos I've taken during the week every Tuesday!

1. A year ago, I gave up caffeinated drinks, which was extremely hard since that's all I drank, ever. Root Beer was my very favorite. I had forgotten all about Diet/Decaffeinated until I saw it on the shelf. That there is the first Root Beer I'd had in a year! It was wonderful.

2. For Father's day we picked up BBQ at the Perfect Pig in White Bluff. Since I live over an hour away, it was the first time in I don't know how long I'd been there. When I was little we ate there all the time and it is one of my very favorite places.

3. I love packing buttons.

4. My shiny new-to-me Kodak Brownie Bullet! I can't wait to locate some film and shoot with it. To get one of these back in the day, you sent in Campbell's soup labels.

5. The dentist. I had cavities filled for the first time. Not my definition of fun. My face afterwards was hilarious though.

6. Lichens.

7. Ice cream with Matt.

8-9. One of my very favorite places. Matt and I go here almost every weekend and walk.

10. Mushroom and black olive pizza. Yum!

If you want to see more of my Instagram photos, just click the Instagram button to the left. If you leave your Instagram name in a comment, I'd love to check yours out!

Monday, June 25, 2012

How to Make Chainmaille

When I say I make chainmaille jewelry, the reaction I usually get is something along the lines of "That sounds cool!...What is chainmaille?" Originally used for armor, chainmaille is made by opening, weaving, and closing hundreds of rings, one ring at a time. Today you see it used in all sorts of different ways: home decor, scuba diving, in movies, and jewelry amongst other things.

There are hundreds of weaves in the art of chainmaille, but the European 4-1 is the most basic. It’s used in many things from jewelry to armor. In just a few easy steps you can be weaving your own! Here’s how:

Step 1: Gather your materials. You will need two pairs of chain nose pliers. It is very important that your pliers have smooth tips rather than serrated ones. Serrated tips will mar your jump rings. You will also need jump rings. Jump rings come in various sizes and materials. Most sizes work for this weave, but in this case I’m using bright aluminum 18 gauge wire with a 3/16 inner diameter. You can make jump rings yourself, or get them from a supplier. How many rings you need depends on the project. For this how-to, I’m using 8.

Quick Tip: In the next step, you will be opening and closing jump rings. To open a jump ring, do not pull them apart with your pliers. Grip one side of the jump ring with your left hand pliers, and the other side with your right hand pliers. Gently twist them open just enough to get the ring around the other rings you will be working with. To close them, simple twist them back together. You’re trying to get a seamless close (See the photo. The jump ring on the left is closed properly; the jump ring on the right has a gap in it.) A really good close comes with experience. The more practice you have, the better your closures will be.

Step 2: Close four jump rings and open one.

Step 3: Put the four closed jumprings on the open jumpring and close it. Arrange them so that they look exactly like the image above (the center ring is the ring that was open, the four rings that surround it are your four that you closed). 

Step 4: Open one ring and close two rings.

Step 5: Slip your open ring underneath and through the top two rings, as shown in the picture above. It should lie beneath the two side rings and the center ring. The arrows are there to show you exactly where the open ring should be laying. Below is another image of the same thing to give you another look.

Step 6: Place your two closed rings on either side of your open ring. Close the open ring and arrange them like the picture above.

Repeat steps five and six until you have a chain at your desired length. The pattern should look like the above image.

There you have it! Now that you know the basics of a European 4-1 weave, you can experiment with different sizes and learn how to extend it and make it as wide as you’d like.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Indie Gift Box

Recently I contributed items from both Janabolic and ButtonMunch to Indie Gift Box.What is Indie Gift Box you ask? If you're familiar with subscription boxes, they're kind of like that, except rather than subscribing, these boxes are first come first serve. Indie Gift Box is unique in the sense that everything you receive comes from small businesses and artists!

For just $15 you can choose between four different style boxes: Boho, Dainty, Beauty, and Color. Want to snag one for yourself? Boxes are expected to go on sale around July 1st. (That's why it says they are currently Out of Stock.) There are a limited number, so be on the lookout! To get the latest news, you can follow Indie Gift Box on Twitter or like them on Facebook. You can also check out the Indie Gift Box blog here and read about the box contributors (if you check out my post, you'll find a coupon for both of my shops!).

I think that Indie Gift Box is an excellent idea and I'm so excited to be a part of it!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How to Make Your Own Stamp

Today I'm going to teach you how to make your own stamp! I want to start off by saying that I've been doing linocuts for at least 5 years and have taken a few classes in various printmaking techniques. This tutorial is pretty simple*, but printmaking is definitely a trial and error process. Don't let it discourage you! In no time you'll develop your own style and techniques that work for you. Now on to the tutorial!

*It is simple, but in the interest of being as thorough and informative as I can be, it's a bit long!

*All of these materials you can likely find in your local craft store. I'm linking to online sources to give you an idea of what to look for.*

Materials Shown: Brayer, Design, Linoleum, Ink, Cutting Tool

  • Lino Cutter Handle (My set is more of a "professional" set, but to start out, I'd suggest this one. It's a handle that comes with cutting nibs that are interchangeable.)
  • Linoleum Block (There are many choices for linoleum. For this tutorial, I am using this because it's cheap and is super easy to cut. When you buy your linoleum, inspect it for any scratches or imperfections. If they fall an in are you aren't planning on cutting out, they could show up in your design.)
  • Brayer (for rolling your ink out. I believe this is the one I use.) 
  • A Metal Bench Hook or Glass/Plexiglass ( A bench hook has two purposes: as a pallet for your ink and to hold your linoleum in place while you are cutting it. I don't use one for either of these purposes, but I highly suggest having one. Many an accident I have had due to not using a bench hook. For me, I use a piece of glass to spread my ink on; the glass from an old picture frame works great, just be careful not to cut yourself!)   
  • Spoon or Baren (for making the ink thoroughly transfer to your paper. I use an old, big wooden spoon because I don't really like using a baren, but that's just my preference. If you go the spoon route I think it's beneficial to have a small and a large one.)  
  • Carbon Paper or Tracing Paper 
  • Pencil or Ball Point Pen and a Sharpie 
  • Tape (for taping your design to your linoleum.)  
  • Ink (For this tutorial, I am using this. I've only used it a couple of times and thus far it is NOT my favorite ink, but it's cheap and gets the job done. You could probably use just a regular ink pad. However, if you were making prints to sell, I would suggest a good quality oil based ink.)
  • Scrap Paper (This is to make a "proof" - to test your print before stamping your nice paper. News print is great for this!)  
  • What You Want to Print On  (I'm using this stamp for packaging so I will be using thin cardboard. The paper you use depends on how you're using your linocut.)  

  • Your Design (Notice mine is backwards? This is VERY important! This is where we will start.)

Step 1: Design
The first thing you'll need to make your stamp is your design! Keep it simple, especially if this is your first linocut. Think bold lines and shapes. One extremely important thing to keep in mind is that what we are making on our linoleum is the MIRROR IMAGE of the design on our paper. If you're design is simply imagery, this is not necessarily as important, however with words it makes all the difference. (It would suck do to all this cutting and realize it will print backwards. Trust me, I've been there.) So here's how to fix that: I've designed my logo in Picasa. Super easy. Whatever photo editor you are using it is likely that there is an option to flip your image horizontally or vertically. Flip it horizontally, and you're set! If it's a drawing you've done, if you have a scanner you can scan it to your computer and do the same thing.

Step 2: Transferring the Image
Here is where the carbon or tracing paper comes in. If you don't have carbon paper, you can make your own with tracing paper and a pencil/graphite stick. To do this, thoroughly cover your tracing paper with graphite, big enough to cover the area of your design.

Now put the carbon paper/tracing paper graphite side down on your linoleum. Place your image on top of this, and tape down on the white space around your image and onto the back of the linoleum. This hold it in place and makes the transfer way easier.

Now take your pencil/ball point pen and go over your design. PRESS HARD. You need to make sure it transfers. You can lift one side of the tape up and check to make sure that it's  transferring,  but if you can help it it's best not to do it too often or your risking moving your design before you're done transferring. If you do move it, you can erase your design and start over.

Transferring my design with my awesome Root Beer Smencil.

Step 3: Go Over Your Design
Now that you've got it transferred and you have it the way you like it, you don't want to smear it and mess it up! Go over it with a permanent marker.

Step 4: Cutting
Now the fun part: cutting. Your handle will come with a few different tips. It will also probably come with some sort of guide as to what each one does. I pretty much stick with a small and large v gouge. I have two knives but personally I've never used them unless I was doing a wood cut. I think it's really just about experimenting and getting a feel for what each part does. I suggest getting an extra piece of linoleum or cutting a bit off of the piece you're going to use for your stamp to practice cutting.

What you cut out is your white space. The raised areas (what you don't cut out) is what will be printed. You want to cut enough so that you're not getting ink where you don't want it, but you don't want to cut so deep that you are cutting through the linoleum.

Cut around and away from your design. Cutting toward your design might cause you to slip and take a chunk out of it. That's often hard, if not impossible, to fix. Once it's gone, it's gone.

Don't rush! Take it slow. Getting ahead of yourself may cause you to cut something you didn't want to cut.

Not sure if you should cut that part yet? DON'T DO IT. Print it, and if you don't like it, then cut it away. You can always cut more but you can (almost) never put it back.

Cut AWAY from yourself. This might seem like an obvious tip, but sometimes when I'm really focused on what I'm doing, I get at an angle where I'm cutting toward myself. And before I know it, I slip, the large v gouge goes into my finger, and there's more blood coming out of my finger than I care for. These tools are sharp and they can cut deep! (Again, I suggest not being like me; Get or make a bench hook.)

Step 5: What It Will Look Like

Here's what mine looked like when I was done cutting. The cut areas don't have to be perfectly smooth or ever. Again, the idea is we're getting enough out of the way so that undesired areas don't show up when we print.

If you look closely, I left an uncut border around my design that wasn't in my original image. It's a good idea to work something like this into a design so that the ink has something to grab on to around the edges, but it's not necessary. 

Step 6: Printing
The first step to actually printing your stamp is rolling your ink out. Take your bench hook/glass/plexiglass and squirt out some ink about an inch and a half below the top. How much you put on depends on how big your lino cut is and what kind of ink you're using. If you're using the kind I linked you to at the beginning of this post I suggest being generous because this stuff is not great.

Now roll it up and down, left to right, and up and down some more. What we're going for here is a smooth, even coat of ink on the glass and your brayer. While rolling, pick your brayer up off the glass while letting it spin then continue. You want the brayer evenly coated, you don't want the ink all in one spot.

Once you've got a smoother layer or ink on, roll your brayer over your stamp. Now we're trying to get the stamp evenly coated.

Now with the stamp ink side up lay your scrap paper on top and press it in a couple of spots so that the paper "suctions" to the stamp. Take your spoon/baren and go over the paper. You want to press hard enough so that the ink transfers, but don't press so hard that you rip through the negative spaces. Occasionally lift and edge up and peek under to make sure your ink is transferring. When you think its well transferred pull think paper off and look at your image.

First print: Definitely some things to work on, like the "E" and "T".

More than likely, you're gonna see some spots you need to work on, whether its more cutting you need to do on your design, or maybe you didn't carve down enough in the negative space areas. Wash your stamp off, look at your proof, and start cutting away those areas you didn't want to show up. When you're done, ink it again!

The final-ish product.
This is where I went back and recut some things. Around the E and T is cleaner and I decided I didn't like the fork and knife, so I cut it away completely (although now there's a strange gap there, I'll think of a way to fix that later). I still plan on going in and giving my letters straighter edges, but this should give you the idea.

And there you have it! How to make your very own stamp. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I'll be glad to answer them!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

An Introduction

Hi there! I'm Jana.
Here's me with some gigantic crabs. For real. They were huge.

I'm a crafty lady in my early twenties with a love for cartoons, gnomes, mushrooms, scary stories, and corny jokes. I've lived around the Nashville area my entire life. I have a big family, and a wonderful boyfriend, Matt. I'm currently attending school to become a photographer.

I have two online businesses: Janabolic, where I sell colorful chainmaille jewelry, and ButtonMunch, where I sell everything from pinback buttons, magnets, photography, prints, handmade journals, and more!

Boy, do I love buttons.

If you love crafts, diy, tutorials, photography, and nature with a pinch of nerdiness thrown in, you've come to the right place. Now that you've met me, while you're here, leave a comment with a link to your blog so I can meet you!