I'd like to start this year with a tutorial of how to make the metal plates as shown in my Give-Away. As I promised Jo, from Jo Mini in a reply to her comment, so here it is!
I wanted to make this tutorial with options for as many of you as possible. Meaning with supplies not everyone will have but some of you might have or prefer (referred to with A) ) and options for as likely-in-house- or easy-to-come-by-supplies as possible (referred to with a B) ). I hope I succeeded. And don't be discouraged about the list of supplies & steps, it's nearly not as difficult to do as looking at this post suggests (and a lot about images, that many of you might not need)!
you can use the sign/image I used for this tutorial, see below, but you can also google for pictures of nice signs/texts yourself for your own use (not sure how about copyright of the signs you saw in my give-away.., that's why I use a copyright-free image here). Try to find pictures with high pixalation (the highest you can find) for they give the best results.
--> If you don't know it yet: if you look for images through 'Google Images' and you find one you like, click it and you will see the option "search by image" on the right, that way you can easily find the same image bigger, if Google 'has' it of course. Fantastic feature that Google added at some point, I love it and use it very often!
Since it's always nicer to see what is being described, I tried to explain it with these 4 steps.
a good source of high resolution copyright-free pictures is The Graphics Fairy, known to at least some of you I'm sure. I selected one here for this tutorial that I used for the example plates (printed on paper with colourless nailpolish for a homemade decal). If you click on the image below you go directly to the image on the Graphic Fairy's website, to download the big/high quality image there, but you can also look there for other ones you might like better.
A) tin sheet 0,2 mm (for example K&S Engineering) I order at a Belgian webshop Minitair (the Dutch webshop/store Bibians Poppenhuizen now has them too and in other countries you might find it in webshops or craft-/modelingstores).
B) a sodacan*
- scissors - preferrably ones that you don't mind getting dull, however I'm not sure how bad it is for your scissors (mine still cuts paper and stuff fine, but just be warned not to use your favorite scissors since you just don't know what it might do to them directly or long term). The ones that I find working best/easiest are what I least expected, i.e. small fine-tip scissors (picture).
- gasstove (or if you don't have that kind, a lighter or something) - to blacken the metal
- tweezers (or metal kitchentongues) - to hold and turn the metal in the flame
- (olive) oil, in a small bowl or a saucer with some depth, you just need to be able to soak the metal in it after and in between blackening it
- paper towels
- glue, like tacky
- paint - white paint (without paint, the dark blackened metal will shine through lighter/white parts of the image, so they are darker and sometimes a lot less visible)
- small paintbrush or paintroller
- sandpaper (like 320 grid) or a nailfile will do too
A) the way I do it is with ordered decalsheets for printing, the white kind for signs and print an image on there. I make a habbit of collecting images on my computer I want to 'decal' and then print a whole sheet at once. Or what I also do when I don't want to wait for that is to place a picture in the top of a template, on it's side if it's a 'portrait'picture and more of the same or a few others next to it. I then run it through the printer and before spraying it with varnish I cut of the top section (so the part with the images), so I can use the rest later. Important: decalsheet needs to be sprayvarnished directly after printing (when using part of the sheet, cut a strip with that part straight of first, being careful not to touch images), but don't think that you can use hairspray as a substitute as I did the first time (since that works so well as a (cheap) varnish in other cases). Because a decal is used in water to get the backingpaper of, hairspray is washed of and will make your decal useless, didn't think of that... ;)
B) When you don't have printable decalsheets or don't want to or can't order/buy them, you can print an image on paper or use a picture of a nice image that's the right scale from a catalogue**
- (spray)varnish matt/hairspray (for finishing, then you can use hairspray, since it will not be in contact with water anymore)
- matt sprayvarnish (satin will do also if you don't have matt) for the printable decals, optional for the 'nailpolish'-decals
- *B) sharp kitchenknife or x-actoknife (to cut the can open before you will be able to cut a piece out with scissors)
- **B) transparant nailpolish is what you need as well when you use printed-paper or a picture from a catalogue/magazine. I used nailhardener since that's all I got, but this chips easily, which I don't think you will have with normal clear nailposlish, so I recommend using that.
Please read all first, so you don't come across any surprises.
I) downloading & scaling image - search for image - see 'images' earlier- and save to computer (I assume you know how that works, if not, please ask). To scale you open it in a drawingprogram, like Gimp or photoshop. I use Gimp, so I don't know if what I'm about to say makes sense for other programs. The best way not to loose quality of your image is not to scale by reducing the image itself, but by adjusting dpi (dots per inch), with what you will reduce imagesize as well, but in a way the quality - density of pixels - will not be less too. That way the image is 'scaled' but with the same ratio pixels as when it was big, if you know what I mean. If not, just trust me, it's true. In the examplephoto I explain how, hopefully it's similar in other programs.
--> A) follow instructions of the decalsheet. I now mostly just print a topsection, fill that up with other pictures and cut that section of, leaving the rest of the sheet for another time. Printer doesn't mind, just starts printing. You just need to push the paper a bit further in the printer so it will take it. (sorry, no pictures of decalsheets and process, since I worked with decals I had printed long time ago and instructions that come with decals are clear)
--> B) print image or pick one out of a magzine/catalogue and cut widely around picture. Apply the nailpolish in a thin but not too thin layer, using strokes in both directions covering it well. Be sure to go well over the edges of where you will cut the image. Blow a little to dry it a bit faster and when (after a minute or so) it's dry enough apply another coat. Then leave to dry for an hour or two. Then repeat previous steps. Leave to dry/harden overnight. I discovered that paper printed 'decals' are best coated three times.
So, after being strict, we can go back to having fun ;)
--> For B) you need to cut the can open with a sharp knife first, carefully, cut the sides of the can from the bottom and top. Then you have a wide strip of tin. Then put a piece of cellotape over the back of the image to prevent your image from being distroyed after gluiing it.
- with some tacky (just a little stripe across the length of your image) temporarily fix your image to the metal and leave to dry for a few minutes (can sometimes take longer, check if the image is secure and doesn't move).
- cut the metal a tiny bit bigger than the image, just a hint of extra edge, this will prevent the decal to curl up for it's easier to stick all over the plate. Should work with exact size as well in my mind, but in the real world it just doesn't.. ;)
- carefully remove the image from metal and the cellotape from the image.
Take the metal from the oil, take of oilexcess with kitchentowel and put it in fire turning it around and after a while put it in the oil again. Then wipe off. If it might use a bit more darkening, you can put it in the fire again. Now clean the metal very well with a kitchentowel so no residu is left on the metal (you can hold it om some warm water and some washing up liquid to be sure, then dry well.
A) about a minute or so. The backing paper will seperate from the decal, sometimes you just need to move it a little with tweezers. Take the decal out of the water and slide it right onto the white side of your metal plate and move it until it's nicely positioned.
B) a few minutes. Other than with 'real' decals the backing paper will not slide from under the decal. You will have to carefully remove it yourself. Be very carful not to tear the decal itself in the process! If this does happen (like with mine, all of them..) don't throw them away, I decided I make a feature of it being cracked enamel or something (see rightdowncorner for the square-one for example). You will now only be able to remove the first layer of paper on the back. Put the decal back in the water and leave for another minute or two. Then carefully (!) roll with your finger to remove the last bit of paper. Now place the still wet decal onto the white side of your metal plate and position it where it should be.
A) + B) . Remove airbubbels if necessary by carefully pressing it with a piece of papertowel. Leave to dry, best overnight so your sure all water is gone (also under image which takes longer).
Hope you have fun making them, and if you have questions, please ask them!
More tutorials, but also tips & trics can be found in my "Tutorials, Tips & Trics"-section.