transparent illusions…

well bloggers – they say you never know when inspiration hits, and i'm living proof of that.  i get asked all of the time what i do if i hit a creative block – my answer is…organize!  yep, i think that simply by going through my stash of things and putting things away i discover stuff i didn't know i had, or stuff i had that i haven't used in a while.  which brings me to today's post – fragments…  this is one of those products that was one of the initial releases in the idea-ology line almost 5 years ago – hard to believe right?  well the concept of the product is simple (clear acrylic tiles to embellish), but the possibilities of the product are truly endless.  throughout the years there have been additional product released based on fragments: fragment charms (acrylic pieces with holes already in them), and facets (acrylic pieces with holes in them and a faceted cut to them), all of which you can do very similar techniques with slightly different finished results…

because fragments are acrylic, you can use a variety of mediums on them like alcohol inks, papers, stamps, photos, and even embossing powders to create some fun and unique embellishments.  whether you're creating a home decor piece, wearable jewelry, or just embellishing a card or scrapbook page, these are an affordable way to create customized accents.  here are a few pics of some of my samples (a mirror using fragment tiles) and (a necklace using fragment charms)…

so when i came across a package of fragments today i was inspired to share with you why i love them so much.  Here are a few of my favorite techniques to hopefully provide a little inspiration to you too.  hope you give them a try – have a great weekend…t!m
layering transparencies: to create your own transparencies is easy – all it takes is your favorite paper and some clear packaging tape…

1. apply a piece of clear packaging tape to your paper. (my tip for choosing the right tape is "what you see is what you get" so if the roll of tape looks clear, you'll get clear transparencies.  if the tape is bubbled, well you get the idea.

2. burnish the tape to the paper using a craft scraper, bone folder, credit card, whatever – just make sure it's nice and smooth.

3. cut excess paper so you just have the taped piece.

4. drop the piece in warm water and submerge it.  wait a few minutes allowing the water to soak into the paper.

5. peel off the excess wet paper from the back of the tape.

6. using your fingers, begin rubbing the wet paper on the back of the tape in a circular motion.  i find it easier to work over a bowl of water so i can continue to get the tape wet keeping the paper soft.  do not use your finger nails for this step – patience is key.

7. once you don't feel any paper pulp on the back of the tape, allow the tape to dry adhesive side up.  you can blot excess water with a paper towel, but the rest should air dry.  that's it!  once this dries, the adhesive on the tape will actually become tacky again, but not super sticky.

8. apply glossy accents to tacky side of tape spreading it out with the tip of the bottle.

9. place custom transparency on to another image (in this case i used a playing card) and press to dry.

10. apply glossy accents to one side of the fragment – there is not right or wrong side – and spread out with tip of bottle.

11. press on to transparency forcing excess glossy accents around the sides.

12. allow this piece to dry for about 5 minutes (normally glossy accents grabs right away on porous paper, but since we're gluing slick to slick it needs ot dry a little more before cutting).

13. trim excess paper with non-stick scissors – finished!

dimensional collage: sometimes i like to create layers that fool the eye.  incorporating various thin materials like paper, metal, flowers, etc. gives the tile a very cool dimensional and layered look…

1. select the then elements you want to collage.  ink all paper edges with a little distress ink which will give each piece a shaded edge creating a more dimensional look.

2. adhere all elements to a thin paper base like book paper (cardstock is too heavy for this technique).

3. repeat with additional elements making sure they fit somewhat within the size fragment you're using.

4. apply glossy accents to one side of the fragment and spread with tip of bottle.

5. press down on to layered image.

6. immediately flip everything over and press the thin paper into the dimensional elements in the back of the fragment for 10 seconds allowing the excess air and glossy accents to come out the sides.

7. trim the excess paper around fragment with non-stick scissors – finished!

stained imagery: alcohol inks are great on fragments because they allow you to colorize the acrylic with a translucent effect.  by using them over photos they can create a look of stained imagery…

1. apply various colors of alcohol ink to felt of ink applicator tool.

2. tap inked tool on to one side of the fragment.

3. repeat with additional layers of color allowing each layer to dry for about 5 seconds until desired look is achieved.

4. apply a small amount of blending solution to ink applicator tool.

5. tape the tool into the center of the inked side of the fragment (this will remove the alcohol ink color and create a clear window with random edges).

6. apply glossy accents to the inked side of the fragment spreading out with the tip of the bottle.

7. press fragment inked side down over photo and hold in place for 10 seconds allowing air and excess accents out the sides.

8. trim the excess photo around fragment with non-stick scissors – finished!

faux "etching": this has to be one of my most favorite techniques on fragments, but i must warn you that you need to be patient and try not to melt the fragment – practice definitely makes perfect on this one…

1. since fragments are clear the first thing we need to do is frost one side so sand one side using a medium grit sandpaper (like the kind on my sanding grip). 

2. sand ONLY one side for this and make sure the surface appears frosted. (i like to sand in opposite directions for better coverage).

3. next, ink a stamp with clear embossing ink and press the sanded side of the fragment on to the stamp.

4. apply regular clear embossing powder over the stamped image.

5. remove excess embossing powder.

6. heat emboss the powder using a heat tool.  (*this is the step you need to be extra careful of.  if the fragment starts to get too hot it will melt so usually is heat emboss the image a little at a time until it's completely melted).

7. place the embossed piece over a light colored piece of paper embossed side DOWN and check it out – faux etching!

8. the one thing that is important to note on this one is that you cannot use glossy accents to glue it down, otherwise the etching will disappear.  so i chose to wrap mine with ranger's metal foil tape securing the fragment to the paper – finished!

i told you i was inspired…

Tim Holtz Creative Chemistry 101