June 2007

Cool Accessories for your show tent

Ever seen those neat additions to an art fair tent? Sign holders, awnings? This site carries those items and more.


They have nice canvas bags for adding sand to as weights for your tent, which is especially helpful when you’re set up on asphalt and can’t stake down the tent.

Idea for homemade Photopolymer Plates

I was thinking about the various quality issues for those who make their own photopolymer plates. One of the challenges is getting the negative/transparency in very close contact with the photopolymer.

Most home set ups use glass and clamps.

So I had this idea — what if you laminated the negative to the photopolymer?

Then they would be in perfect, airless contact. If you have a home laminator, you could try this easily. If you don’t, you could take it out to the parent teacher store, have them laminate quickly, then pop the whole thing back into your black plastic envelope, rush home and expose your plate.

When you’re done exposing, just cut the laminated bit open, wash your plate and rescue the negative. Voila!

(c) Elaine Luther 2007 All Rights Reserved

Getting Started with Photopolymer Plates

Have you heard about Photopolymer Plates? If you’re a part of Metal Clay Gallery (see links) you already know about them. They are an alternative to having rubber stamps made. Sure, you can mold lots of cool textures with products like Quick Sil (Silicone RTV Mold Making Compound), or you can carve your own polymer clay texture plates.

But what if you want a texture plate from your own line drawing? Lots of folks are making their own with Photopolyer Plates. Here’s how to get started. First, I’d suggest reading the very clear instructions by Maggie Bergman, who presented on the topic at the 2006 PMC Conference.

Okay, so you’ve read, and you’re ready to buy the stuff. What do you need?

- some photopolymer
- a washout brush
- a transparency
- something to hold your transparency close to your photopolymer (such as glass and clamps)
- a UV lightsource (purchased or homemade)

You can buy “blank” photopolymer from Art Clay World and PMC123.

PMC 123 also sells a kit with the glass, bulldog clips and a washout brush. Sure, you could assemble all those things yourself, but sometimes it’s nice to get everything in one place.

Now you need a light source. You can build your own, quite easily, using black lights and a lighting unit from your local home center. However, if you have no building or wiring skills, the folks on Metal Clay Gallery recommend a unit used for manicures.

You can find them on ebay, prices mentioned on MCG range from $12.00 to $60.00. Here’s a link to a new one at $81.00. I want to show you this one because the unit is mostly enclosed, to better protect your eyes.

You really don’t want to expose your eyes to unnecesarry UV lights, so please take precautions, wear UV protective eye wear, cover the unit with a box while it’s on.

The last key to know about photopolymer plates is that the transparency you make of your drawing is really key. It’s got to be dark. Make it as dark as possible, and if you can, double up, using two of the same one, layered.

If you want to see a completed Photopolymer Texture Plate, you can see the ones I make on my professional equipment www.CreativeTextureTools.com.

(c) Elaine Luther 2007 All Rights Reserved

Book: Photographing Arts, Crafts & Collectibles by Steve Meltzer

If you can only buy one book on photography, this is it. You may recognize the author’s name from his articles in The Crafts Report and elsewhere.

The book is inclusive, covering not only what you need to know to shoot jury slides, but also shooting for selling on-line, compostion, equipment and lighting.

Without dumbing the information down, he gives just enough information for those of us who don’t want to become professional photographers, but want to improve our skills in support of our other goals (getting into shows, selling).

He covers everything: choosing a camera, how to understand all those settings on your digital camera, and even a little on working in the digital darkroom.

One cool source in the book is for a background “sweep,” a plastic background holder. It’s called the EGO-sweep, by Lowel.

What to Listen to at the Bench


One of the things many people like about doing a craft for a living is that you (hopefully) get to spend time in that “peak flow” experience.

For days when that isn’t going to happen, lots of bench jewelers enjoy listening to stuff as they work: talk radio, music, podcasts, books on tape.

I’ve found another great thing to listen to. They’re called Great Courses. This company has found what they consider to be the best professors on a given subject and created audio tapes/CDs, and for some courses, DVDs of the course.

If you’re one of those life long learner types, you’ll love this. Stimulate your mind!

Oh, a note on price, yes, some of them are pricey, but they rotate the sales so that in a given calendar year, every item will be on sale at least once. And right now they are phasing out audio cassettes in favor of CDs, so some courses are on sale if you buy the audio cassette.

Check them out at Great Courses.

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