Maggie's Free Tutorials

Tute 1: Shrinking Plastic

This page will build into a series of free classes. In this first 'issue' I am offering a class on Shrinking Plastic as a downloadable PDF. This is the the first part of a two-parter on Shrinking Plastic.  If you would like to download this, just click here. Next week I will build on this and show how I make my Shrinky Books.

Tute 2: Oiled, Crumpled and Scrunched
I'm also offering this class on paper techniques for stitch, which follows below, as I know not everybody can download PDFs.

This technique is very simple but gives great effects. You simply take a printout, photocopy or pencil drawing, crumple it up and oil it. It is then ready to be a basis for stitch. All you need is a printout or colour photocopy and some oil – could be olive oil from the kitchen or aromatherapy oil if you’re feeling extravagant and want to look upon it as a treatment.

It is possible to manipulate the oiled paper to make certain elements stand out – such as the trunks of the birch trees shown here.

The paper should be fairly thin (there are exceptions but we will cover those later). I use a printer paper that is recommended for colour prints but is quite cheap and lightweight. The oil will enhance the colour so you can get away with ordinary, everyday photocopy paper.

Use an image that is not too fussy but it is best if the main details are clear. This study of trees in the wood near our house (below) was taken on a Galaxy tablet and manipulated with the Phototouch app. However, a straightforward photo or design would also be fine. I have printed out two, side by side as they are useful for making cards and I can change the look of them at the stitch stage.

When the image has printed (or when you are back from the copy shop) tear out the image within the colour area – no white showing (see below left). Then have a really good crumple (below right), taking care not to tear, but gently destroying the crispness of the paper – it should feel floppy and fabric-like.

It is not essential to stitch into the paper but I like to add some simple stitches. You can stitch before or after oiling – the thread seems to be unaffected by the oil. Be guided by the shapes in the design – here the tree trunks are emphasised with straight stitch and the linear aspects are enhanced by further straight stitching. Seeding stitches look good too.

OK. Now it’s time to oil. I use cheap olive oil. It doesn’t smell and the oiling process is wonderfully good for your hands. Just pour about a teaspoonful into your hands and then rub them together. Now rub the paper between your hands, moving it so as large an area as possible is covered.

Crumple and work the oil gently into the paper. Have a look at the result – the image should appear more colourful and slightly translucent. Look at it over a light – that will really show where the oil has settled. Add more oil in the same way, targeting any missed areas.

Leave the piece for twenty-four hours for the oil to settle. My next stage is to stick it to a card base and manipulate it but it could be placed on a firm backing, such as felt, and machined if you prefer. In this case, leave it to settle for a few more days. It should not feel at all oily by then.

If using card as a backing, cut it to size – slightly larger than the paper, but remember that this will shrink when it is manipulated. I use a glue stick as it has good sliding properties and takes longer to dry. Alternatively, PVA can be used but has a tendency to saturate if too much is applied. Lay down an area of glue in the centre of the card.

Lay the paper on the card and use your fingers to pinch it into shape. Here I am squeezing the paper to bring out the sweeping trunk lines.

Carry on working up the texture as you apply the paper to the card. Start in the centre adding more glue, if needed, around the edges as you work outward. If you are not happy, the paper can be gently lifted and then pushed around again, but do this before the glue dries.
Finally enhance the raised areas with gilding wax, such as Treasure Gold, or gesso. Apply this, very lightly, a little at a time, using your fingers.

I favour gesso although it is not the easiest to use as it dries on the finger. Have wet wipes handy and wipe your fingers often. If the gesso is thick add a tiny amount of water – not enough to make it runny, just workable. The rule is to use a very small amount – you can always add, but taking away will involve a repaint! You will be surprised how much surface detail the gesso reveals.

Here is the final piece, and a detail.

That is it. There are lots of extension options such as: 
  • Using thicker paper and crumple less
  • Printing on brown paper
  • Try magazine pages
  • A very pale design with lots of white gives a translucent effect
Finally, here is a piece of mine, again based on birch trees. The paper is slightly thicker and the crumples are more pronounced.


arlee said...

Thanks for sharing this, Maggie. Have you noticed any long term effects of the oil in staining the mount?

Heather said...

Such a simple technique yet so effective. I love those tree trunks and the texture you have achieved.

Heather said...

Just printed off the Shrinking Plastic tute. I have used it for making small embellishments but you have been far more adventurous. Thankyou for sharing all these lovely ideas with us.

Aussie Jo said...

Thanks for these tutorials Maggie, I will try the oiled paper this week hopefully and blog the results.
Happy New Year!

Linda Vincent said...

Thank you Maggie....this looks like a great idea; can't wait to have a go. If my results are half as good as yours I'll be happy ;-)

Linda’s Textiles said...

Thanks for these Maggie. I've used friendly plastic a little but you have given some new ideas for further exploration.

rothequilter said...

This looks great, but I wonder if running something through the machine covered with oil hurts the machine.

gilby said...

Just finished my first experiments with the oiled paper, pleased with the results.

Gill said...

Thanks Maggie for the tutorials; it is so nice to have these freebies to download. Hot day here in Tasmania and fires down South causing chaos. Time for a bit of playing indoors I think!!

Gill said...

Thanks Maggie for the freeby tutorials; always great to have a play and in this hot Tasmanian weather we need a break!!

WendyK said...

Great tutorial, thank you, oily hands here I come

Moonrose said...

Thank you for this inspirational idea. Just one thing - does the oil on the paper smell rancid after a while?xxx

Joy V said...

Thank you so much Maggie for these tutorials. I especially love the Shrunken Books.

chloe said...

Fantastic tutorial Maggie. Thank you so much. Xx

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this tutorial, worked beautifully. Looking for the shrinking plastic tutorial. Please share.