Before I started my stationery company, Pendragon, Ink (many years ago!), I used to do a lot of painting. Painting was always fun. It kept me excited about life and and always thinking of the next canvas to cover or series to start. In a painting mindset, I noticed everything and was constantly taking notes or making sketches for the next day's endeavor.
One of my favorite parts was at the end when I often added a coat (or two or three) of gloss varnish to the surface of my (dry!) finished piece.
Just so you know, this is an occasional personal preference, not an absolute. I am not suggesting one has to varnish all their art! But this is an element on my palette of choices that I like the look of. I like how it can add depth and richness and increase color saturation. With a few coats it resembles those beautiful old paintings in museums that I love. Imagine, for example, an old table that you have just sanded, the wood all bare, and then you add a coat of varnish/shellac/urethane . . . what a difference!
Anyone who knows me, knows how quickly I do just about everything . . . I eat fast, cook fast, sew fast . . . well you get the picture. I paint with acrylics instead of oils for the same reason . . . Speed!
But to me, acrylics seemed a bit flat or dull, so the varnish provided a look that the acrylic paint alone could not.
I was thinking about this the other day while I was tangling. "Hmm, I wonder what would happen if I varnished a tile?"
But just to varnish a tiny tile every time the need arose would be a lot of work and clean-up . . . not what I wanted.
So I tried something different. I grabbed a bottle of clear nail polish and went to town! It was a dream come true! Here was this miniature handy-dandy brush, right in the the bottle, just the right size and I did not have to clean it afterwards!
I had so many half filled bottles of all kinds of clear coats. The one I used here has a very subtle pink tint to it, just a whisper. But it brought out a whole new feeling of life wherever I applied it.
These tiles have about 3 coats on them. The first coat seals the paper, the second adds a bit of luster (you can stop at this point) but I added another for depth. Wait for each coat to dry before putting on the next. Of course follow the directions on the bottle. I use this in a room where the smell won't bother anyone. (Molly tells me that I can also try ModPodge, a water based varnish, for a similar effect. Ah . . . another project to look forward to!)
You can see on this diptych (a 2-paneled artwork) . . .
. . . that I varnished the right side panel, and not the left so you can see the difference.
On this next heart piece on which I varnished the upper left corner . . .
. . . to create a dramatic difference dark to light.
Next, I was experimenting on a tan tile, (one I had in my collection, that I did not mind if I screwed it up) and just varnished the "orbital cone-shaped whatch-a-ma-callit" in the middle.
It was pretty dark to begin with and got darker. When the coats were dry, I went back in and added white dots on the surface, and they just popped right off the paper!
If you decide to try this, start with a tile you don't mind experimenting with. You don't have to cover the whole tile. In fact, on each of these I only varnished small portions. I liked how it was more interesting than covering the whole tile.
That marvelous feeling I got from varnishing my old paintings returned. . . like a dear old friend. . . .
I'm not going to do this to all my tiles for sure, but once in a
while it might be cool. It's just a nice addition to my growing bag of
What have you added to your bag of tricks that you can share with us?