Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Journalling tag: faux verdigris/malachite technique

I've done another variation on the splattered plaster technique of Wendy Vecchi's that I've been playing with lately - this time I wanted to achieve a kind of verdigris effect. Verdigris appears on old copper that has been exposed to the elements, and it is usually basic cupric carbonate or tribasic cupric chloride, depending how close to the sea you are, and these give slightly different tones to the blue-green or teal patina. The former is PG39 Copper Carbonate Hydroxide, and the latter is somewhat similar to the mineral Atacamite, which is sometimes used as a pigment. Whilst I don't know the pigment compositions of the products I used to achieve this effect, I'm pretty sure the natural verdigris pigments had any involvement! Since I left the tag I made to dry overnight, I've realised it maybe looks a little more like Malachite, which is also PG39 but in native form, does often have veins of calcite (white) and pyrite or native copper (both gold) inside of it - and that effect is really clear on this project.

The original plaster technique works because the Archival Inks dissolve into the iso-propyl alcohol and the Distress Spray Stain is both water-based and contains an insoluble pigment. When this is mixed with the dye solution in alcohol, the wet pigment sinks and forms clot-like blobs. When you press the tag into it, all of the alcohol soaks into it, along with the water-based matrix of the Spray, leaving the white pigment stuck to the tag last, on top of the dye. I had a brainwave when I was walking home from work that maybe this would work if I used other water-based pigment suspensions - so I thought about India ink. The problem with this, however, is that India ink has a slightly different make-up than Distress Spray Stain. To explain - the latter is a white pigment suspended in a clear resin-containing matrix. Coloured India ink is a shellac-based matrix containing pigment particles and is thus very similar, but in many cases, the matrix contains a dye to give a more even tone when applied to the page and that gave me quite a different - but BETTER result that I expected! 

It's a multistage process with long drying times, so keep that in mind if you want to try this out. I think I need to work on this a bit more to get it more realistic but hey, it's a start! You will probably want to read my original take on Wendy's method first so that you know all the steps involved, as I'm going to abbreviate things a little bit for this iteration of it.


Ranger Dylusions Journalling Tags (Size 10) - these are 10.5 cm by 21.6 cm - or 4 1/8" by 8 1/2" and are the same kind of surface as the Dylusions Journals. [BUY NOW]

Ranger Archival Inks in:
   Chrome Yellow [BUY NOW]
   Sunflower (Wendy Vecchi's line, BUY NOW)
   Bright Tangelo [BUY NOW]
   Monarch Orange [BUY NOW]
(it can be more economical to buy the Archival Mini Ink Pads that come in sets of 4 colours - to get all of the above, you need to buy Set 1 (Vermillion, Monarch Orange, Library Green, Cobalt), Set 3 (Bright Tangelo, Chrome Yellow, Vivid Chartreuse, Manganese Blue) and Wendy Vecchi's Set 1 (Carnation Red, Sunflower, Paradise Teal, Potting Soil). You can buy Sets 1 and 3 together very economically.

Ranger Distress Spray Stain (Tim Holtz's line) in:
   Picket Fence [BUY NOW]
   Tarnished Brass [BUY NOW]

Dr Ph. Martins Bombay India Inks in:
   Grass Green [BUY NOW]
   Aqua [BUY NOW]

Tsukineko StāzOn Re-inker in:
   Copper [BUY NOW]
(this is the little bottle of StāzOn ink that you get when you buy a new inkpad)

Rubbing alcohol - I used 90% iso-propyl alcohol - I think this slower-drying combination is better for techniques like this - you can read more about the different options here.

Palette Knife - I like one with a large blade area.

Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool - only one foam pad is needed for this project and you can wash it and re-use it. [BUY NOW]

Ranger Non-Stick Craft Sheet or a piece of acetate (e.g. overhead transparency) that you can work on - but the Ranger sheet IS better really. [BUY NOW]

SAFETY: I recommend you work in a well-ventilated area as this project involves rubbing alcohol and the solvent-based StāzOn ink does give some folk a headache!

STEP 1: A word of warning - during these first few steps, you do have to work pretty fast, so that you don't lose too much to the air. The reason I picked these four orange and yellow Archival Inks was to build up a copper-y, warm undertone for the tag - you can't actually see them very much in the finished tag, but where they do poke through, it's warmer than the standard cream tag. I discovered a little tip here - wipe your craft-sheet over with a few drops of rubbing alcohol just before you smoosh the ink pads onto it and they'll release more ink with less effort. Cool huh? So, as usual, I besquished my Archival Inks onto the craft sheet - I used roughly equal parts of Chrome Yellow, Wendy Vecchi's BEAUTIFUL Sunflower, Monarch Orange and Bright Tangelo. I added a about 1mL of rubbing alcohol to teach of them, whilst keeping the four colours separate. I lifted them off of the sheet by stirring each puddle a little using my trusty palette knife, then slightly intermingled them, just before I proceeded to the next step.

STEP 2: I then proceeded as per usual and sprayed Distress Spray Stain in Picket Fence over the pools of Archival Ink and alcohol. I gave 2 squirts which is less than I usual go for, because I didn't want a white-dominant or pastel tag. I then added just a couple of drops of Dr Ph. Martins Bombay India ink - specifically 4 drops of Aqua and 3 drops of Grass Green. At first, this sinks to the bottom of the white/yellow puddles so you need to smash it around with the palette knife to spread the colours around - you can see below how mine looked at this stage. The white areas do feel sticky and a little stiff, that's quite normal, so don't worry!

STEP 3: I then did a face-plant of the tag into the puddles of inks and stains and moved it around a little bit. It gets quite soggy with alcohol, so you need to be careful not to tear it or wrinkle it. After mopping up all of the wet stuff, I added some more rubbing alcohol to the craft sheet and used my palette knife to lift any dried pigments and used the tag to mop those up too - if you have patchy, gap-y results, just put some more of the Archival inks down with rubbing alcohol, add the spray stain and India ink, exactly like in Step 2, and just build up a few more layers - I actually did about 3 layers but the 3rd layer was just Archival and spray stain, no India Ink.

STEP 4: At this stage I was like "wow I'm done - I made a verdigris tag" and I knew it needed a little touching up but I left it to dry for a few hours. The two-tones of green gave it a lot of depth and 'trapped' layers of white pigment under the India ink give the effect of wrinkles or veins which is pretty cool - you can see that in some of these close-ups.

STEP 5: Once the tag was completely dry, I went back and had another look and decided it needed something to make it more copper-y. I had a look through my stash and found my Distress Spray Stain in Tarnished Brass, and I didn't think that had the warmth of copper really, so I also grabbed my StāzOn re-inker. Without remembering to shake the re-inker first, I put out a drop onto my craft sheet and got a puddle of red-brown liquid. I then remembered, shook it and put out some more, which was copper-y as it should be. I used my Ranger Mini Ink Blending Tool to pick up first the red-brown matrix and secondly the copper ink. I edged the tag with the effectively diluted ink, which added a bit of nice sparkle, so I also buffed a little over the white areas too.

STEP 6. I decided it was time to add some more layers, but with a slightly different technique. I smooshed some Bright Tangelo and Monarch Orange inks onto my craft sheet, added rubbing alcohol followed by a few drops of StāzOn re-inker and a few squirts of Distress Spray Stain in Tarnished Brass. I then planted the tag into it.

STEP 7. Finished! Here are some close-ups of the copper veins and details of the tag. This would be a great background for a card-front, maybe with a copper panel held on with rivets or eyelets or copper-coloured brads? Could be really useful in an industrial card or even just as an alternative to any other patterned paper or background. Hope you give this a try and that you enjoy it as much as me!


  1. super fun & useful techniques! awesome backgrounds!

  2. great technique Rich, love the end result!


Hit me up with a comment...