Monday, March 31, 2008

Magic Colored Pencil - an experiment and alternative?

I think by now most stampers are familiar with the Magic Colored Pencil technique in which odorless mineral spirits such as Gamsol or Sansodor can be used to blend the colors of colored pencil-colored images. The technique also makes the colors look vibrant. There is some concern about prolonged exposure to the fumes, and crafters are also always looking for alternatives. Baby oil has been proposed as a substitute, but the notion of using something oily on cardstock just isn't appealing to me, though the thought of using something more innocuous than mineral spirits would be nice. So rather than just being critical, I thought I should try to come up with an alternative.

To the drawing board! I remember reading that the success of the technique is due to the spirits breaking down the wax in the colored pencils, thus allowing the pigments to blend. Okay! This is a good place to start. Using a scientific approach, I googled stuff that would dissolve wax. There were a number of things, but I didn't want the industrial strength stuff. Um, and I wasn't interested in eliminating ear wax either. Ick. I found two cleaners that I actually had under my kitchen sink. Perfect!

Test #1: I put a few drops of each cleaner on a junk mail envelope. Both looked kinda oily starting out. This wasn't promising. I let them sit though and when I came back a little while later, one was still showing the oil slick ;-), but the other was gone. Woo hoo! I was ready to put that one to the next test.

Test #2: I pulled out my Georgia Pacific white cardstock and stamped a single image twice. To give proper credit, this is a Hero Arts stamp and I used Ranger's Archival Jet Black ink. I colored both of the images similarly, using Prismacolor Premier colored pencils.

My apologies for the somewhat poor quality of the photos. It's an overcast day here and the light kept changing. The indoor light was coming from the upper left of the image. Both flowers looked closer to identical in person.

I then pulled out my blending stump, not a tortillon, my bottle of Sansodor, and my test cleaner from under the sink.

Here are the colored images. Can you tell a difference between the two? I'm not the best colorer/blender, but really--see if you can tell a difference, and if so, which look do you prefer? The answer is in the next pic, so don't scroll until you've decided.

Yes, my cleaner from under the kitchen sink is Goo Gone. Even taking into account the fact that the light hit each a bit differently, I think the Goo Gone image showed smoother blending, though the colors of the Sansodor image were more vibrant.

Oh, and just so you know, I messed up when I was blending. I'd turned the cardstock to get to my image better and had a brain cramp moment. I accidentally colored two of the blue petals of the designated Goo Gone flower with Sansodor. OOPS! So, to be fair, I colored two of the purple petals of the Sansodor flower with Goo Gone. Hey, it's another way to compare. LOL!

Anyway, it looks like this could be an alternative to odorless mineral spirits and is something that you might already have, if you want to play with this technique. Goo Gone does carry some of the same warnings as Sansodor, that is, that it's flammable and that it should be used in well-ventilated areas. It's also not made specifically for use in art, if that makes a difference to you. Something interesting to note is that the makers of Goo Gone have just come out with a pen so that you can apply it more precisely. It's called the Goo Gone Mess-Free Pen. Google searches are so nifty! Presumably with the pen there would be less odor, too, since you wouldn't have to open up a bottle or keep dripping some of it out the top. At this point I don't think I'd switch from using Sansodor, particularly since I already have a bottle of it and it will last me a good long time, but if I come across the Goo Gone pen, I might have to pick it up and give it a try because that would certainly be less fuss and less muss. Just a thought. :-)

Edited to add: I found the Goo Gone pen. See that follow-up post: here.

1 comment:

  1. Well done, you just saved me some time. I thought about trying Goo gone too, but just haven't had the time to do it. Thanks Jay!


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