Sunday 10 September 2017

Decayed plaster art journal background technique

Earlier today, I tried out Wendy Vecchi's splattered plaster technique and adapted it to give a slightly more uniform look. I've since then had an image in my head that's the crumbling plaster wall of a French cottage, with climbing plants in soft pink and light green. I've been trying to figure out how it would be physically possible to use the technique over a whole journal page given they're not easy to flip over and press into ink. I don't use the stick-in extra pages for my Dylusions journals, so I've had to think laterally and I ended up getting a great extension of Wendy's original method that gives quite a different look - more like cracked and peeling laters of stucco or plaster. It was surprisingly easy to do and took maybe 20 minutes at most, but does really need 24h to cure fully before you can work over it. Can you use other supplies? Archival Inks are oil-based and really are the only ink of that ilk on the market and you do need an oil-based ink for this technique to work. The Distress Spray Stain could be switched for any water-based pigment spray as long as it is pigment based and not mica-based and is a water-based stain, rather than e.g. an acrylic paint spray.

What I used:
Dylusions Large Creative Journal - I'm particularly fond of the stock therein - but you could try this technique on any absorbent (porous) surface, I guess. [BUY NOW]

2 Cut-flush page protector/folders - these are the type of plastic folder that is open on the top and right sizes and is slightly textured - I've shown the kind I used in the image above. The pages of the Dylusions journal are 11 3/8" by 8 1/4" or 28.9cm by 21.0 cm, which is almost the same as A4 paper used in the UK and Europe - so an A4 cut-flush folder worked perfectly. [You can buy these in any office supplies store and are very economical]

Ranger Archival Inks in:
   Coffee  [BUY NOW]
   Sepia [BUY NOW]
   Potting Soil (Wendy Vecchi range) [BUY NOW]
   Plum [BUY NOW]
   Vibrant Fuchsia [BUY NOW]
   Vivid Chartreuse [BUY NOW]
   Watering Can (Wendy Vecchi range) [BUY NOW]
   Shadow Grey  [BUY NOW]
   Garden Patina (Wendy Vecchi range)[BUY NOW]
   Paradise Teal [BUY NOW]
   Jet Black [BUY NOW]

Rubbing Alcohol - I'm using a 90% iso-propanol rubbing alcohol as this dries very slowly and works very well for this method - you can read more about the different rubbing alcohols out there and find the right product for you.

Plastic Pipette - sure, you can just drip the alcohol freehand but it's key to not use too much in each step, so I found this important.

Ranger Tim Holtz Distress Spray Stain in Picket Fence. [BUY NOW]

Palette knife.

What I did:
STEP 1. Firstly, I wanted a chipped and messy plaster effect and with plenty of specs of colour - as I plan to use pink and green flowers over it, I wanted to hide those colours in the background so that it all meshes together - hence Vivid Chartreuse and Vibrant Fuchsia Archival Inks were used! In this first step, I decided to work on a right-hand page in my journal, so I slipped the cut-flush folder (see the photo above) over the opposite page so that it was completely covered up. A small piece of Washi tape on the back kept in in position. This covered-page was my palette and the texture of the folder really helped. I put a second cut-flush folder over the page directly under my working page as I knew the alcohol would soak through and I didn't want it to carry Archival Ink onto the pristine pages!

STEP 2. I smooshed ink pads onto the cut-flush folder surface from the selection in the image above - Watering Can, Potting Soil, Sepia, Coffee, Shadow Grey, Vibrant Fuchsia, Vivid Chartreuse and Garden Patina - you can see in the image below how much I used of each one and how I arranged them. Note the pink and green are minority colours in little specs here and there.

STEP 3. I added about 2mL rubbing alcohol and used the palette knife to mix them up and then sprayed on 5 squirts of Picket Fence Distress Spray and pushed the righthand page down into it, just like usual - you can look at my previous post to see this step broken down a little bit. This gave me a very chalky, plaster-like grey and brown look with just hints of colour. I then worked quite slowly so that it dried a little between each layer I built up.

STEP 4. Next was more of the same, but with Potting Soil, a tiny bit of Watering Can, Vivid Chartreuse, Vibrant Fuchsia, Garden Patina and a few hints of Plum and Shadow Grey, which help to make a pink-ish plaster-like tone.

STEP 5. I wanted to add a mouldering patina along the bottom edge - kind of like there was some copper nearby and verdigris had appeared, or maybe there was damp and this was fungal - who knows! I applied Shadow Grey, Paradise Teal and Garden Patina to the blade of my palette knife as a mini, portable palette and let them dry until they went tacky - then I added a drop of alcohol and a squirt of Picket Fence Distress Spray Stain before smooshing it along that bottom edge. The grey muds the green-blue in places once dry and gives it a lot of texture. Using both different teals was important otherwise it would have looked quite flat.

STEP 6. Now that the first few main layers had dried down, I wanted to focus on the plaster-like colours, so I cleaned off the cut-flush folder and applied Coffee, Sepia, Potting Soil, Plum and a few swipes of Jet Black, before the usual alcohol and Picket Fence - the black just adds some shadow and does not darken things much at all. The Plum really helps with the impression of a pink undertone to that crumbling old wall.


STEP 7. With most of the colours in place, I did wipe off the cut-flush folder again and figured out where any major blank areas were on the opposite page and filled them with more of the same as Step 6. By now, much of the teal was underneath the layers of plaster and just gave a hint of something under the surface, ditto the bright pink and green.

STEP 8. As the page is now pretty wet, I put the palette knife underneath it so that it would dry properly. I left it for over an hour to dry naturally and won't work on top of it for a full 24h as I wanted to let the resins in the Spray Stain fully cure so that it would not come back off when I stamped onto it.

And finally here's the finished, dried background, including some close-ups of the mould and plaster effects it created. I can't wait to work on top of it!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks so much - try it out if you need to cover a journal page - was so easy! I'll be posting pictures later in a new post of it now I have stencilled over it - it has really come to life!


Tell me what you think!