Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Few New Tiles

I've been working really hard at trying to find a new apartment as well as a job, but when I'm in my studio, I can get lost in creating things and thus alleviate the big stressors in my life.  Here are a few new tiles I made.








These were all made by painting alcohol inks on plain white ceramic tiles from Home Depot. Once the ink in on the tile, I use canned air to create the petal look and swirl the inks around the tile. You have to do it quickly because the inks dry almost immediately. Lots of fun, like creating art in a speed round. It is absolutely impossible to make two tiles the same.

My next challenge is going to be to create a 12x12 tile. Yikes!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

New Cards

I attended CKC Manchester on May 2nd and 3rd and definitely got inspired to create more cards. Here are a few of my latest creations.

While at CKC, I bought a new butterfly stamp set and matching dies. Love them!
Butterfly stamps and punch from Stephanie Barnard Stamps for Life.

Best day Bostonian.

Fly high in the sky.

I also got a new penguin stamp set and matching dies. So adorable!

Penguin stamp and die cuts from Stephanie Barnard Stamps for Life with the butterfly behind the penguin.

Penguin and balloon stamps and die cuts from Stephanie Barnard.

Sometimes, less is more. I love my cupcake punch.

Last year at CKC, I bought the banner punch, but it's gotten really tough to use. Still, I like the way this card came out using the little pendants.

I made this card with a stencil I bought. First I did the background in a silver/grey and then the outline of the city in black. I really like the way it came out and I'm always looking for new ideas to make cards for guys.

I made these three cards when I got back from CKC using Julie Nutting Prima Doll stamps I already had. Apparently there are now smaller card-sized stamps, but I didn't see them at the vendor fair.

I used a page from an vintage music book.

Before I left, I purchased the envelope cutter, petal punch and hexagon punch from Stampin' Up. The hexagon has really come in handy for making a variety of cards.

Friday, March 21, 2014

It's a real book!!

As I posted before, I've written two books that I am self-publishing. Well, I got the hard copies in the mail and they look and feel like real books. When I said this to my Mom, she corrected me saying, "They ARE real books." She's right. I guess I felt that way because I did everything to get them published.

Here's the first one - Ten Little Birds.
Ten Little Birds by Kimberly McCullough
It's a really cute counting book that rhymes each number with a watercolor picture to go with the words. It's very simple for kids just learning to count and learning their colors.

Here's the second book - Banyan and the Green Bee King Save the Bees
Banyan and the Green Bee King Save the Bees by Kimberly McCullough
This story is about a mythical Fairlet named Banyan who teams up with the Green Bee King to help save the disappearing bees. It is great way to teach kids to plant bee-friendly flowers that will help save the dying and disappearing bee population on the planet. The colorful illustrations keep them interested and the language is easy enough to young readers to read the book themselves.

I'm really proud of these two books and hope that this is just the beginning of my children's book author adventure.

Ordering info:
The books can be purchased on as well as my website: 

If you purchase the books in Amazon, they are available for immediate shipping. If you order the books on my website, they take about 2 weeks to ship, but will be autographed by me. The Banyan book also comes with a packet of wildflowers for kids to plant and watch grow. The cost is about the same no matter which way the books are ordered.

Monday, February 17, 2014

OMG, OMG, book!

I've been tinkering with the idea of writing children's books for a while. I always felt limited and stifled by all the information out there about how difficult, if not impossible it is to break into children's literature. Well, I never thought about becoming the next JK Rowling, just an author of children's bools. I wrote and illustrated one for my 2 year old son and decided to put it into print. I can't say how exciting it is to see an actual printed copy.

The cover
Two inside pages
The back cover
 I got this one printed on as a photo book and just loved it. The cost is prohibitive ($12 each,) so I found an Amazon company to print it cheaper (<$5) and post it on I'm in the process of setting that up and will post the final results when I get them.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Today's Project - Pattern Weights!

I've been doing a lot of sewing lately and as such, I use a lot of paper patterns. The problem with that is all the pinning, which tears the paper. I like to have all my patterns on template plastic, so I can trace easily around the pattern, then pin and cut it. However, I've been doing projects that are too big for template plastic and have been forced to use large pieces of paper.

I know I'm behind the times, but I recently discovered pattern weights. I've seen them in the fabric stores all the time, but they are so expensive and you only get like two and I needed more. I looked at a bunch of pictures online and in several Etsy shops and came up with my own.

SO easy to make. I bought a box of 25 of the biggest and heaviest washers at Home Depot (maybe 2 inches across with a 3/4" center for less than $8), wrapped ribbon around sets of 3, and tied the ribbon in a knot. A lot of the ones I saw wrap ribbon around the washers so that you don't see any of the washer, but I didn't find that necessary and I kind of like the look.

So, if you're in the market for pattern/sewing weights, just make them yourself. These worked awesome.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Varnish Comparison

If you are planning on making alcohol ink painted tiles, here is my take on the varnishes.

First, the worst.

This varnish completely ruined a set of tiles. I bought it hoping that the smell of tolulene and xylene would be reduced when I sprayed the tile. I never expected it to lift the inks off the tile and flake them off. Here's the result of using this spray varnish. You can clearly see flaking of the crystallized ink. Do NOT use this varnish to seal your tiles.

The second varnish is the Triple Thick Crystal Clear Glaze.

It isn't as bad as the Low Odor Varnish, but still not great. It gives a really nice glazed look, thick and clear as a baked finish, but it blurs fins lines. As you can see in the top picture, the circles have thick lines around them, those lines were thin as if drawn with a ballpoint pen and after spraying, they look as if they were drawn with a fat marker. If you want the high gloss look, use this spray, but if you have any fine lines you want to retain, this varnish will not do that.

I use the Krylon Kamar Varnish.

It is made for art, so it's gentle on the inks. It takes a few coats and the finished product doesn't have that glass clear finish, but the results are great. It retains the fine lines and there is no flaking or damage to the ink surface.

Bottom line...

Low Odor - No redeeming qualities, ruins your image entirely: Thumbs down, huge NO
Triple Thick - Okay if you want a high gloss finish and don't have any fine lines: Neutral
Kamar - Not as high gloss, but retains the painting of fine lines: Thumbs up

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Another Tile

4x4 tile - pretty painted rose petals

I stumbled upon this technique to make petaled roses. I loveloveLOVE the way the flowers turned out. Just for an added sparkle, I drew in golden leaves.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Painted Tiles...Functional Art

Just picked up this little doozy right before Christmas. I needed something new to make for everyone for Christmas as I'm currently unemployed and on a very limited budget. I read a few tutorials online, picked up the inks and tiles and away I went. Here are a few examples of what I created.

If you want to make your own, instructions are at the end.

This was one of the first tiles I made, trying to make flowers.
Then, I started experimenting with adding drops of ink when the background was nearly dry.
Here I blended some ink when it was still dry and then added my little droplets.
This one wasn't what I envisioned, but I like the celestial look to it.
It almost looks like the flowers I intended to create, but I like the way it came out.
Continuing on the celestial look, I made this one and it is completely different because of the colors I used.

Finally, I made this one using several techniques. This is the first time I used the canned air to blow the inks around.
For anyone interested in making these painted tiles, it's really pretty easy.

What you'll need...

You and Your Work Surface:
I use a desk blotter, but newspaper works well, too. Be sure to wear clothes that can get dirty and when I say dirty, I mean ruined because this ink does not come out of clothing. So far, I haven't ruined any clothing, but the possibility is there. You may want to wear rubber gloves to keep the ink off your fingers. You WILL get ink on your fingers and your work surface. You can wash it off your hands with soap and water and alcohol, but it takes longer to come out of your fingernails. I use finger bandage thingies. In the first aid aisle, you'll find these rubber covers for your fingers.

I used 4x4 and 6x6 white tiles from Home Depot. I think the 4x4 tiles were 16 cents each and the 6x6 tiles were maybe 24 cents each.

Blending Solution:
There are people using regular isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), but I tried it and it did not give the effect I was looking for. Just get the Ranger Blending Solution. It's about $5.00 at AC Moore and Michaels, located in the section with all the other Tim Holtz products. While you're there...

Alcohol Inks:
You will find retailers online for these inks, usually scrapbooking websites. The good thing is that you can get individual colors. The bad thing is, if you're like me, you want to start right away and you'll have to wait for them to arrive in the mail. Because they are alcohol based, they can't be shipped across country borders. At AC Moore or Michaels, you'll have to buy the 3 pack of inks, which cost about $10 each. If you want to get a basic red, blue, yellow package, it doesn't exist. You have to buy several packages to get all the colors you want. My suggestion is to buy a few packages, experiment, go crazy, and then when you know what you like, order the colors you want. My staple colors are pitch black, butterscotch, cranberry, and lettuce. As you can see in the tiles above, the brilliant red is cranberry, the yellow is butterscotch, and the darker green is lettuce.

I use bamboo skewers. They're pretty cheap and can be found in the grocery store. I cut them in half and use the flat end for dripping ink and blending inks and the pointy end is good for getting stray hairs and dust out of wet ink.

I use Krylon Kamar Varnish from an arts or crafts store. It takes a few coats, but I love the finish. I've also used Krylon Triple Thick Glaze, which gives a really glossy look, but I think it tends to blur any fine lines you have and muddies the inks. The triple thick glaze dries faster and only needs 2-3 coats. A friend of mine used a Rustoleum varnish and her tiles came out matte rather than glossy. My suggestion is to get a varnish from an arts store, not Home Depot.

Paint - I use black or white Patio Paint from DecoArt.
Felt Pads: - Home Depot, pkg of 75 for about $4.
Paper cups
Sponge brush
Paper towels
Small flat brush


1. Wipe down the tiles with the blending solution. I use a sponge brush to liberally spread the blending solution.

2. While the blending solution is still wet, add your ink drop by drop. I taught a friend of mine how to make these tiles and she said the difficult part was being able to control the flow of the ink coming out of the bottle. It spreads fast and dries quickly.

3. Add colors until the tile is completely covered or you're satisfied with the look. If you want to blend the colors, you can use a small brush while the inks are still wet. I use the flat end of a dowel for all my blending and adding droplets.

For blending, I wait until the inks are almost dry to drag ink from one color to another. Do not wait until they are completely dry as you will end up scratching through the ink. As you can see in the picture above, I dragged a dowel through the red into the yellow.

For droplets, the ink can be almost completely dry. when you add wet ink to dry ink, it will spread out and give a cool droplet effect. I set the end of the dowel against the spout of the ink and get a little on the dowel and then touch the dowel to the tiles. If you add droplets on top of dragged ink, you get a layered look.

NOTE: At this point, if you do not like the way the tile came out, use the blending solution to wipe the tile clean. That's the beauty of this project, you can start all over, over and over again. You can also use rubbing alcohol to wipe the tile clean - it's cheaper than blending solution for this kind of thing. Blending solution or rubbing alcohol will dissolve the inks and all you have to do is wipe with a clean paper towel. Voila, instant eraser.

4. The inks dry almost immediately, but I let them sit for about 30 minutes before painting the sides and bottom.

5. Paint the sides and bottom using whatever color paint you want. This layer of paint gives the tiles a nice finished look. It is easier to place the tile on a paper cup when painting, better leverage for painting, I think. Let the paint dry for 30 minutes to an hour.

6. Spray the tiles with the varnish...OUTSIDE, NEVER INSIDE. The fumes are toxic and flammable. I usually spray on 3-4 layers, allowing each layer to dry about 15 minutes before applying the next. If you use the triple thick varnish, it will be glossier and dry quicker between coats and you'll need fewer coats. The varnish takes about 2-3 hours before it is no longer tacky to the touch. Resist the urge to touch the tile! There's nothing worse than getting this far and having a big ole fingerprint in the middle of your masterpiece. Let the varnish set for 24 hours.

7. Add the felt pads and enjoy.

Keep in mind that the tiles are not dishwasher safe. Wipe them down with a wet cloth. I have no idea if they're good in the microwave, but the varnish does protect them against water and heat, so they can be used as trivets and coasters. If you do make them, I'd love to see your creations, please share!