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  • Oil Painting in Different Forms


    Oil paint is a very well-known, classic medium everyone thinks of when they hear the word 'painting'. Yet it comes in many different forms not only in tube form! Moreover, we've previously covered the new invention, the water mixable oil paint  as well as the 'regular'.

    Oil Bars/ Sticks / Paint sticks

    What Are Oil Bars?

    Oil sticks (also known as paint sticks and oil bars) are simply oil paint formed as a stick. They are made of wax and linseed oil mixed with pigment. They are rolled into a stick form and wrapped in paper. Oil sticks can be used for drawing and painting as they are. They can be mixed on a palette and applied with a brush or knife or used directly on the surface. They work just like regular oil paints; they can be mixed with different oil paint mediums. They dry like oil paint and grow a skin on the paint's surface, however, it is debated whether they cure as oil paint or whether the wax prevent it from completely drying.


    Jaeyeol Han S. Korea) "Passer by Distortion", Size: cm., Oil bar on Canvas,

    How to use Oil Sticks?

    Oil sticks can be used on any surface that's usually good for oil paint, although the canvas or paper should be primed with gesso or sized too. Oil sticks' surface form a protective skin when they are exposed to air that looks like it dried. It can be removed carefully with a rag or palette knife to expose the creamy paint underneath.

    Oil sticks can be used like oil pastels or crayons for drawing or like paint; diluted with turpentine. All oil painting mediums can be used with them. They are particularly good for plen air paining and for bold impasto effect.

    As for varnishing and framing, there's still a debate whether paintings with Oil sticks can be framed without a glass or not. Oil sticks dry like all oil paint but it's questionable whether its wax content prevent them form curing completely.

    Oil Pastels

    What are Oil Pastels?

    The first oil pastels date back to 1925 when the company Sakura created them; a new material that was a cross between crayons made of wax and soft pastels (hence the name cray-pas). They had the properties of soft pastels without the dust. While soft pastels were made of the mix of pigments and gum or methyl cellulose binder, oil pastels were the combination of pigments and non-drying oils and wax binder. Whilst oil pastels harden, they never actually dry completely. They remain the same viscosity on the painting, throughout all the layers and due to the wax content never dry by exposure to air.

    How to use Oil Pastels?

    Blending examples


    The first artist quality oil pastels were made by Henri Sennelier in 1949 on the request of no other but Pablo Picasso, who wanted "a colored pastel I could paint on anything ... without having to prepare or prime the canvas."

    And true, oil pastels don't need a primed surface – they can be used on virtually anything; watercolour paper, pastel paper, regular drawing paper or indeed, canvas, wood metal and even glass.

    There are many different tools you can use with oil pastels, from blending stumps / tortillons to tissues, cloths, q-tips or even your fingers! For a graffito technique, palette knives, paint shapers or the end of pain brushes work well too.

    Oil pastels can be layered, but because they don't dry, a new layer will always slightly blend with the one underneath. Although quite different, oil pastels can be used with oil painting mediums like linseed and thinners like turpentine to help blending and create painterly effects.


    How to Seal Oil Pastels

    As oil pastels never truly dry, they need to be protected and sealed once the work is finished. There are varnishes particularly made for oil pastels and they protect the painting from scratching, smudging and dust. It usually has a glossy finish and transparent that doesn't alter the colours. For maximum protection it's a good idea to frame the work behind (plexi)glass.

    Pam Carriker Oil Pastel, Stablil, Sgraffito on Yupo


  • Ceramics Without Firing?

    Alternative 'Clays' That Don't Need a Kiln

    Like sculpting but not a fan of the hassle that comes with ceramics, especially firing? There are many other options for you that are similar to the properties of clay, some you can even make yourself in the kitchen!


    Polymer Clay

    Polymer Clay is a versatile material that works like clay and becomes hardened by baking in a regular kitchen oven. When it’s baked it can be cut, sawn or glued, as well as painted, varnished, and re-baked with additional fresh clay. 

    Polymer clay comes in many different colours that are also mixable. There are unique clay variations that glow in the dark, pearlescent, metallic or fluorescent.

    Polymer clay is not a natural clay, it’s made up of resins and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

    Note that once the package is open you need to keep it in an airtight container or paper, away from direct sunlight and heat.

    Polymer clay should be baked in the oven on a baking sheet cover with foil or parchment according to the package’s instructions. The clay will be completely hardened after it cools down. Always bake according to the instructions as the overheated/ burnt clay can let out toxic fumes. It’s recommended to bake it in a ventilated area.

    Polymer clay can be painted with acrylic paints and varnished with acrylic or alcohol based varnishes. Baked clay doesn’t need varnish but if you want a glossy finish you can use gloss varnish.

    Air dry clay

    Air dry clay has a quite telling name: it’s a natural clay that doesn’t need firing or baking, as it dries solid when it’s exposed to air. It’s a good alternative to regular clay when you need to make something quickly, something small or inexpensive. It’s great for sculpting, decorative items, jewellery or other craft projects.

    Air dry clay works just like regular clays – it has the same texture, can be formed the same way and will dry to similar consistency. You can use water to soften the clay and to create slip (the mixture of clay and water).

    The difference that’s good to keep in mind is that air drying clay starts the drying process as soon as it’s out of the packaging. Therefore it requires relatively quick work time and you need to keep the items in air tight packaging if you want to continue working later.

    Once it’s dry you can paint it or spray paint it.

    Cold Porcelain

    The name is misleading: cold porcelain isn’t actually a porcelain. It’s an an inexpensive, non-toxic and easily made material. It’s a mixture of cornstarch and glue and to enhance its smooth texture you can also add oils and glycerol. It’s advised to add lemon juice and sodium benzonite to the mixture to prevent the growth of mold.

    Cold porcelain doesn’t require firing, it simply dries on air. However, due to its contents, it’s possible to soften it by heat or water even after it dried, so it’s not suitable for some projects.



    Tools -->
    White Clay -->
    Terracotta Clay -->
    Modelling Clay -->


  • Cyanotype

    Cyanotype Printing Process

    Cyanotype is a photographic printing process that creates cyan-blue coloured prints. This technique was primarily used by engineers to produce inexpensive copies of drawings, up until the 20th century. Their contemporary use is mostly for artistic value or craft purposes.



    The cyanotype process was discovered by English scientist and astronomer Sir John Herschel in 1842. He developed the process primarily to reproduce notes and diagrams, similarly how it was later used by architects and engineers.

    It was Anna Atkins, English botanist who first started using cyanotype process for photographic purposes, and sometimes she is claimed to be the first female photographer. She created a series of cyanotype books documenting plants, ferns and seaweed mostly.

    Cyanotype of British Algae by Anna Atkins (1843)
    Anna Atkins' cyanotype



    • 25 grams of Ferric ammonium citrate (green)
    • 10 grams of Potassium ferricyanide
    • Water (distilled if possible)
    • Scale or measuring spoons
    • Measuring jug
    • 3 glass containers for mixing ingredients
    • Plastic spoons
    • Face mask (DIY style)
    • Goggles
    • Rubber gloves
    • Apron or old shirt
    • Newspaper to cover work surface
    • Cleaning cloth
    • Brushes or coating rod
    • Clothes pegs (plastic)
    • Washing line or rope (plastic)
    • Art paper ( heavyweight watercolour or printmaking papers is highly recommended) or fabric for coating
    • Glass or a contact print frame
    • Sunshine or a UV light source


    Mixing the chemicals

    You will need two types of chemicals for this process, Ammonium ferric citrate and Potassium ferricyanide. They usually come in powder form, unless you buy premixed solutions in cyanotype kits.

    First you need to make two separate solutions and mix the two together in a third container.

    This recipe is for 50 8x10 ich prints.

    Solution A: 25 grams Ferric ammonium citrate (green) and 100 ml. water.

    Solution B: 10 grams Potassium ferricyanide and 100 ml. water.

    Dissolve the chemicals in water to make the solutions. It’s advised to prepare both in a brown bottle as the solutions will be sensitive to light. You can keep the leftover solutions away from light but they won’t last very long. Make sure to dispose of the chemicals correctly!

    It’s important to note that the mixture can stain clothing and skin, therefore it’s a good idea to cover your work surface and to use rubber gloves and other protection. Make sure to work in an area that’s not lit by UV or sunlight, as that will affect the solution and the prints too. Coloured lights are the best.

    Prepare the solutions and the surface you will be using.

    For best coverage, it’s recommended to use foam brushes.

    It’s enough to coat your surface once, as any drips or gaps will be visible. Leave the paper to dry in an unlit area.

    To print a cyanotype, you will need to place your object (to make a photogram) or negative ( to reproduce the photograph) on the surface. Photograms work the best if the object is flat, but you can experiment with lots of things for different results.

    Place the glass on top, and expose it to UV light. The exposure time varies a lot depending on the light source and season.

    To process the print, after it’s been exposed you will need to rinse it in cold water. It’s best to rinse it in running water until all the chemicals are removed – and the print turns deep blue. You can also put it in a Hydrogen peroxide solution to secure the print and avoid fading.


    More examples:

    Combine this technique with pressed flowers,

    Try different shapes,

    Or make artist books with our guide.

    References & Recommendations:

    • Cyanotype Printing

  • What to Know About Ceramics

    Everything you wanted to know about clay, and its other forms


    What is Clay

    Clay is made up of the finest rock particles that are eroded by wind and rain. These particles usually build up on the bottom of rivers and lakes where they stick together and form into clay consistency. Clay is a very versatile material and has several different states from liquid to rock-like hardness.

    What is Ceramics

    Ceramic is the ‘final’ state of clay, when its chemical composition changes after being put through a high temperature firing. Clay in this form is no longer dissolves in water, it’s heat resistant, corrosion resistant but still brittle.

    Important Terms

    • Wet Clay - mixed clay that is elastic and ready to be formed.
    • Leather-hard - the stage of the drying process when the clay is hard enough to be handled without altering its shape but it's still possible to work with it.
    • Greenware - the sate of the clay when it's dry but still not ready to be fired.
    • Bone dry - fully dried clay that is ready to be fired. at this stage the clay is very brittle.
    • Bisque - the first firing, that makes the surface porous so the surface can absorb the glaze.
    • Grog - a sand-like substance that's added to the clay to help workability, to reduce shrinkage and add strength.

    Classes of Clay Body

    There are many different types of clays available, and it’s important to chose the best for your projects, as each type has different qualities, and what works for pottery might not be the best for sculpting.



    Earthenware clays are the oldest and most common type of clay. They are easy to work with, and because they contain iron and other minerals it’s possible to be fired at a lower temperature (between 950°C and 1100°C). This means that they are more fragile than other clay types, can’t really hold liquids if unglazed, but glaze colours are a lot more vivid than stoneware ceramics’.

    Naturally they are red, orange, yellow or light gray, and once fired they have a brown, red, orange, buff, gray or white colour.


    Stoneware clays share similarities with stone once fired – as in hard surface. Stoneware ceramics are excellent for functional items like dinnerware, as they can hold liquids and are more durable. Their firing temperature ranges from 1180 °C to 1280 °C. Stoneware clays are usually gray or brown.


    Porcelain and kaolin are considered the best type of clays for pottery. They are largely made up of silicate and are resistant to high temperatures. As porcelain is made up of fine particles, it’s very smooth and can be used to create extremely thin forms. It’s relatively difficult to work with because of its low plasticity. It’s also quite delicate before firing as its optimum density is only achieved before its melting point. Porcelain’s firing temperature is up to 1,400 °C. It’s characteristically white or light coloured unless it’s been mixed.


    • Slab Building - Slab building is a technique where the clay slabs are rolled or pounded flat in order to use them for constructing objects.

    • Hand-building - Hand-building is quite literally forming objects out of clay with your hands. Clay portraits are a good example of purely hand-made forms.

    • Coiling - Coiling is a good beginner technique that's suitable for both pottery and sculpture. Coiled pots are built up with rolled up clay in a spiral. Read more 

    • Throwing - Throwing means the technique of using a pottery wheel that keeps the clay spinning, thus making it possible to create symmetrical vessels.


    There are two main types of firing, Bisque firing and Glaze firing. Bisque firing is the first firing the clay goes through after it reached the ‘bone dry’ stage. During bisque firing all the chemicals and organic residue burn out of the clay. After this first firing the clay becomes ceramic; it hardens into a rock-like consistency that’s no longer dissolves in water. Its surface becomes porous, perfect for the glaze to adhere to.


    It’s worth knowing that clay shrinks when it dries and then when it’s fired for the first time. Shrinkage depends on the specific type of clay and can vary between 4% to 15%


    Ceramic glazes come in many different colours and types, from transparent to opaque, matt or glossy, cracking or metal effect.

    While you can experiment a lot with different combinations, there are some basics to note.

    Glazes are basically glass melted onto the ceramic object. In order to stick evenly to the surface, glass is mixed with different components and binders. Glazes come in powder form that you need to mix yourself and as liquids that are ready to use.

    In general glazes not only add colour or ‘shine’ to your pieces, but makes the ceramic object vitreous, and seals the clay so it becomes able to hold liquids and depending on the glaze, food safe.

    Glaze Firing

    Glaze firing is usually done in a higher temperature than bisque, and it finishes the process of making a ceramic object. It’s a faster firing process than bisque as by this time the clay body doesn’t contain as much water; what happens during glaze firing is that the glass melts and solidifies on the object. It’s important that the glazed object doesn’t touch other objects or the surface of the kiln as it will be glued together. To avoid this, make sure to place each object at least an inch apart, and to leave the parts that touch the kiln unglazed. You can either use wax to leave unglazed surfaces or just wipe off the excess with a wet sponge.


    If you want to try ceramics in Dundee, make sure to check out the Dundee Ceramics Workshop!


  • Bookbinding Techniques 5. - Single Sheet Binding

    Single Sheet Binding

    This technique suites best when you have lots of individual sheets (or drawings, paintings, etc.) that you would like to combine into one book. It's a relatively easy technique and quite similar to coptic stitch.


    • Paper
    • Board
    • Booktape (optional)
    • Thread
    • Binding needles
    • Awl
    • Scissors
    • Cutting mat

    The Method Step by Step

    photos from Sea Lemon's video

    Optionally, you can use booktape on the edge of the paper where you’ll be binding in order to secure the paper from tearing.

    Measure about 13mm from the edge of the paper then mark three holes 2cm apart. Do the same on the other side.

    Then pierce the holes.

    The same on the cover.

    For this technique it is recommended to use bend needle – 6 needles to be exact, as each of the six holes will be bound with an individual thread.

    When beginning the binding start with the first hole on the first sheet,

    Come back around

    And tie a knot in the end.

    Go around to the first hole of the cover.

    Loop around the thread

    Repeat the same with the other holes.

    Beginning the second sheet with the first hole. Loop it around the paper,

    And then loop around the thread.

    Do the same with the remaining holes, then continue it until you reach the cover.

    Binding the cover is pretty much the same as binding the sheets.

    Loop around the first hole,

    Loop around the previous stitch,

    And back around the stitch once more through to the inside,

    And try a knot on the inside thread.

    Cut the excess thread, and repeat the same method with the remaining holes.

    And it’s finished!

  • Bookbinding Techniques 4. - Japanese binding

    What is Japanese Stab Binding?

    Japanese stab binding patterns are great for a simple, minimalist book design. As it won't be able to lay flat when it's open, it's ideal for display purposes. One of it's advantages, however, is that it's possible to add, take out or change the order of the sheets even after binding, therefore it's the ideal bookbinding pattern for photo albums and recipe books or collections.

    There are four major binding patterns.

    The Noble Binding ( Koki Toji)

    The Tortoise-shell binding (Kikko Toji)

    The Hemp-leaf binding (Asa-No-Ha-Toji)

    And the Four-hole binding (Yotsume Toji)

    In this guide, you'll learn how to do the 'beginner' pattern, the Four-hole binding.

    You’ll need:


    Cutting mat


    Binder clips




    Waxed thread

    Method: Step by Step


    Four images might not be enough to get it for the first time, but it is an easy technique!
    (Images from Sea Lemon's tutorial video)

    Make a template for the binding holes using a sheet of paper that’s the same size as your book.  First make a 1inch line from the spine’s edge, then fold the paper in half  three times. Unfold the paper and mark the place of four holes spaced like on the photo.

    Put the template on your book if it’s thin enough or you can do it in separate sections.

    Use an awl to make holes into the paper where you marked it on the template.

    It’s useful to clip the sheets together so they all stay together.

    For binding, you need to use a single thread without a knot at the end. Measure enough thread (around 5 times the height of your book, it’s better to have longer than to run out.)

    Take a portion of the book…

    and start from the bottom on the second hole.

    And leave about 4-5 inches ( 13 cm) at the end and leave it inside the book.

    Wrap it around to the bottom of the book and back through the same hole.

    Then comes the next hole…

    Wrap it around and go back through.

    When you reach the last hole wrap around and back through again

    Then wrap around the end and back through again.

    Make sure to keep the thread tight throughout!

    Next step is to weave through the following hole and always wrap around.

    Now you should be at the 2nd hole where you started from.

    And pull it through the last hole.

    Wrap around the back.

    Wrap around the end as you did the other side.


    And finish it with going back to the 2nd hole.

    Return the needle between the pages where the end of the thread is.

    Pull it through and tie the thread, cut the excess.

    And it’s finished!


    References & Photos:


  • Bookbinding Techniques 3. - Coptic Stitch

    Coptic Stitch

    Coptic stitch works best when you're binding lots of sheets together, so the binding pattern is more visible on the spine. At first it seems to be a more difficult technique, but once you get the hang of it, it's not more difficult than any other.

    You'll need

    • paper
    • board
    • bone folder
    • awl
    • waxed thread
    • binding needle
    • scissors
    • craft knife

    Method step by step:

    (Photos from Sea Lemon's video tutorial) 

    Start with folding your papers in half, and use the bone folder to smooth down the edges.

    Put the folded sheets together to create a signature (about four folded sheets makes up one signature)

    Stack the signatures evenly and mark the first hole about 5-6 cms  from the end of the paper, then mark two more 2,5 cm apart. Do the same thing on the other side.

    Pierce the holes on the cover board

    And on the signatures.

    Depending on the size of your book and the thread you use, you can double thread or use a single thread. Make sure to tie the end.

    You start from the bottom cover and one signature. Sew from the inside of the signature to the outside.

    And around and outside of the cover.

    Loop around the thread

    Then back to the signature through the same hole.

    Back to the next hole

    Around the cover

    Then loop around and back to the signature. Do the same with every hole.

    When you reach the last hole on the signature, loop around then grab the next signature and return the needle to the first hole.

    Go through the next hole

    Loop around

    The previous signature’s thread.

    Then back into the same hole

    And into the next hole. Repeat on the remaining holes.

    When you have the third signature, you make sure when you loop around the previous signature’s thread

    When you only have the last signature and the top cover left, you’ll be working with both.

    Start with the first hole on the cover

    Loop the around the same thread once

    And in the signature

    For the remaining stitches, loop around the previous signature first,

    Then into the cover

    Loop around the thread, then back into the signature.
    Repeat for the remaining holes.

    Once you’re finished, just tie the thread.



    • Coptic Stitch Sketchbook by Sea Lemon
    • //






  • Bookbinding Techniques 2. - Concertina

    Concertina, or Accordion Fold Book

    Folding-out booklets are not only good for interesting ways to sketch, but perfect for display purposes as well. And it's not too difficult to make on your own!

    What You'll Need:


    • Bonefolder
    • Ruler
    • Brush
    • Scissors or craft knife


    • 2 Bookboards
    • Bookcloth
    • 2 sheets of paper
    • PVA glue



    cut two long rectangles that are the same size.

    Fold them in half,

    ... then fold them like an accordion.

    until you have a "W" shape.

    If you want more sheets, you can make as many accordion fold as you want to, and you can just attach them together with glue.

    To make the covers, get two sheets of heavier paper/cardboard/bookboards that are slightly bigger than your folded booklet. If you want to cover it with bookcloth of paper, cut rectangles that are a few cms/inches bigger than the cover.

    Cut the edges of the paper/cloth...

    ... then glue them and fold them inside.

    This is how it should look outside and inside:

    Glue the inside of the cover and attach the first sheet of your accordion booklet.

    And it's finished!

    You can try making the book with watercolour or any other paper for sketching, or you can make a photo album, or something crazy that fits into an artist book.

    References and Photos:

  • Bookbinding Techniques - The Basics

    Make your own sketchbooks with this guide!

    General Terms and Tools

    Signature - is a set of papers folded in half once.
    Book block - is a set of signatures glued or sewn together; they make up the inside of the book.
    Endpapers - are the signatures attached to the front and the back covers.
    Headband / tailband - is a band looped around a strip of leather or rope.
    Hinge - is the part of the book near the spine where the book folds open
    Rib - Ribs are the thickening part of the spine - they are either created naturally by the ropes holding together the book block, or by using plastic 'fake' ribs.

    sewing needles
    waxed thread


    Bookbinding types

    In the following articles we'll introduce you the these popular bookbinding techniques:

    Pamphlet binding

    Coptic binding

    Japanese binding



    The first books were clay tablets from around 3800 BC Babylon era. Other different materials included Palm books made out of palm leaves or strips of bark.

    The next major type was the papyrus roll or scroll. These were made out of plant stems that were cut into fibre strips, soaked in the Nile and dried. After that they were hammered into sheets and whitened with ivory. They were really brittle, and could only be stored rolled up.

    Clay Tablet

    Wax tablets were another commonly used writing surface in Antiquity. They were made out of wood. Covered with a layer of wax, making it reusable and portable.

    Wax tablet and a Roman stylus

    The paper we think about nowadays was invented in China around 200 BC. The manufacture process was adopted by the Arabs and thus gradually spread to the west. The first paper mill in England was established in 1496 near Stevenage.

    A palm leaf Hindu text manuscript
    St Cuthbert's Gospel, the oldest surviving Western binding

    Bookbinding and paper was revolutionised by the invention of printing presses and printing, the invention of German Johannes Gutenberg (1456).

    The first printer in England, William Caxton, followed in less then twenty years.

    As printing increased the number of books, binding became a separate occupation. The 16th century saw the golden age of book covers as new fine tools made it possible to create exquisite designs.


    Contemporary use:

    Fine art/ artist books
    Handmade sketchbooks, journals
    Repair of antique books


  • Bookbinding Techniques 1. - Make a Pamphlet

    Pamphlet Binding

    In the series of Bookbinding Techniques, the first one introduces the Pamphlet binding. This is a good beginner technique that is also a classic  - with a few easy stitches you have a small booklet, which is also the base for more advanced techniques.

    You will need:


    Before stating the booklet, it's a good idea to make a template that you can use to determine the position of the holes on each folio(paper folded in half). Grab a piece of paper that's exactly the same length as the 'spine' of your folio. Measure 3, 4 or 5 holes (2 towards the top and 2 towards the bottom of the spine) depending on the length of your paper. Then pierce the paper where you marked it with the awl or an embroidery needle. Next, you can place the template and pierce each folio with the help of the template.


    The stitch with 3 holes 

    Pierce three holes using the template.

    Measure the thread that should be three times the length of your signature ( multiple folios that you want to stitch together). Pull the thread through the 2nd hole, but don't tie a knot on the end yet.

    Continue towards the 1st hole, as show on the photo below.


    Next you want to pull the tread out at the 3rd hole...

    ... then pull the thread through the 2nd hole again. Tighten the thread and

    And lastly, tie the thread around the one running along the spine and then cut off the excess thread.

    Pamphlet stitch is a great beginner technique, and it's good for poetry or artist books or zines. You can also use many different types of paper for this technique, from transfer paper to watercolour.


    References and Photos:


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