Monday, May 30, 2011

Tile Art part 1

Hi everyone. My name is Wendy and I am an artist who likes to dabble in all sorts of techniques and media.  I am starting this blog to answer questions I have received about some of my work that I have posted on flickr. At the moment I am taking fortnightly classes in art journals and ATCs.  They are really just a social outlet but cover a variety of techniques as well. These are the things I will blog about. 
The first technique was Stamping on CDs. I have changed this completely to develop my own technique that I call Tile Art. My first version is on the cover of my ATC book and was quite experimental. It took several hours to complete because I kept changing it until I was happy with the finished look.

  The second piece I made was to fit a frame I already had.  This is the piece that was asked about and is why I have started this blog. Instructions will follow. The frame size is 23 x 18 cm (9 x  7 in)

 As I had already completed that piece I made another piece and framed it with a mat to use as my demonstration piece for this technique. I decided to change the orientation of the last one. I like it the most so far. The tile art in the middle is 14 x 19 cm (5.5 x 7.5 in)
To do these projects you need 3 or 4 CDs depending on the finished size. You could do a larger piece but I suggest starting small because cutting up the CDs is hard work. I chose old computer CDs but it doesn't really matter. You are using the shiny side only so they can all be different on the printed side. Try to get CDs that are the same color on the shiny side. Sometimes they are gold or purple in color. They can still be used but you have to be aware they may cause the colors you apply to look different.

The first step is to cut up your CDs. I like to cut mine with a sharp knife and a nonslip metal ruler. Extra care must be taken when using a knife to do this as the CDs are very slippery and it is easy to cut yourself.  It takes about 10 cuts to get through the cd but once you get halfway through some cds will snap along the line.  You can cut some soft cds with scissors but test on one corner first because the metal backing may flake off. Another method is to heat the cd for about 30 secs with a heat gun then cut it while it is still warm. If you are heating try not to breathe in the fumes and do it in a well ventilated area.  I don't worry about the sizes, I just cut lots of rectangles. Discard the curved pieces but keep a few of the largest ones in case you will need them later. Next I sand all the edges to get rid of any roughness being careful not to breathe in the dust. This step is optional. 

Take a piece of paper and mark out the finished size you want your picture to be. Arrange all the pieces you have until you are happy with the way it looks. You may need to cut more small pieces out of the curved pieces you saved previously. I usually start in the center with a large piece then arrange others around it. When it looks right I trace around the outside of each piece and number it. This helps later on, and also if some little helpers come along and accidentally knock the whole thing on the floor (this I know from experience, lol). 

This preparation takes a couple of hours depending on how long it takes to cut the CDs but it is worth taking your time.  

Now the fun begins. I take three pieces out and color them on the shiny side with metallic acrylic paints. I dab the paint on by pouncing the paint brush up and down. Try not to put on too much paint so some of the shiny surface can still be seen. I like to use two colors for this step but the maximum I would use is three.

Another way to color your tiles is to use stamp pad ink.  There are several brands available that will work on shiny surfaces but I like to use the Brilliance ink pads because they are metallic. They do need to be heat set if you want them to dry quickly or leave them overnight. Again I let some of the metal background peek through.

The rest of the tiles are colored with alcohol inks. This time I am doing 5 tiles. I try to use odd numbers of tiles when I am adding color, usually 3 or 5.  When I finish with each set of tiles I put them back on the piece of marked paper so I can see the whole piece of art.

This photo shows the first step. I have lightly sprayed rubbing alcohol on the tiles then added a drop of 3 different colored alcohol inks to each tile. 

 Next I again spray the tiles to help the ink move around more. I wear rubber gloves during this stage so I can use my fingers to move the ink around if it is stuck in one spot. I then dried these red tiles with a heat gun, it only takes about 10 secs. Using the heat gun makes the inks blotchy.

If you don't like your colors use the rubbing alcohol to clean the tiles and start over. You can redo this part several times if you need to.

These tiles were done with only two colors and left to dry naturally. It only takes a couple of minutes to dry and the effect is much smoother than the heat gun. I try to use a variety of techniques so it is more interesting to look at. 

For these tiles I used the blending solution to make the ink cover the tiles. It makes the colors paler and allows a  lot of the background to show through.

When all the tiles are colored review the overall look. You may find you don't like some of them or they may need a little adjusting. I thought the blue painted squares were too light so I went over them with a little more blue and added some gold paint as well. I also added the same gold paint to the copper ink tiles and the small dark blue tiles.  

 I changed the lower left red tile to blue and swapped its position. I thought the light green tiles were too shiny and it was then I remembered an important step I had left out. To make the alcohol inks go cloudy you need to blow on them while they are drying. It turns them matte and you can still get the shine of the background coming through but it is softer. It is up to you which effect you would like in your work.

Alcohol inks applied
Sprayed with alcohol, still shiny

After blowing on it the ink is cloudy.


  1. I love this tutorial! I've never heard of these techniques before. I have alcohol inks but I haven't used them yet because I was never sure how to use them, this is a great project for me to learn how to play with them a bit!

    1. Thanks Kristin. This is definitely a fun way to play with the alcohol inks. It can be messy though so I should recommend wearing rubber gloves unless you like multi-coloured hands, lol.