Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Under the Tuscan Sun

I love the thought of wine, the unique wine labels, the rich, saturated color of a red, the curve of the glass, but it just doesn't agree with me. However, I do love to give wine or spirits and enjoy really doing it up for a special occasion. The big-box craft stores have gift cylinders and often discount them three to four times a year.  The one pictured below (left) was under a dollar.  There are also paper mâché ones that would work with this process. My inspiration for today's wine cylinder was Tuscany for its textures, colors, and of course, Chianti vineyards.




Any cylinder you choose should be prepped. I chose to prep with two different gessos: white and gold. If you want a white background, I would recommend doing two thin coats. I am partial to Liquitex Professional but any gesso should do the trick. Be sure each step is dry before you continue. Next, because I was grooving on my Tuscan idea, I added a coat of Daniel Smith Iridescent Gold gesso with a paper towel. (I have Mary Beth Shaw to thank for that obsession.  I will say that a tub lasts for quite a while.) The paper towel allowed for a very textured application. 



The thicker application took a little longer to dry, but when it was partially dry, I rolled it in a paper towel to create even more texture. Once dry,  I decided I liked the bits of white gesso peeking through in some parts. I added a few more of those spots with some leftover gesso.


There are many media choices for this project but I chose alcohol inks to add over the texture to keep the cylinder somewhat abstract. Any alcohol inks will do but today I chose Kielty inks (dark olive, slate blue/lavender, and burgundy) for their moodiness. I put out a white kitchen trash bag that will be our palette and chose two large stencils to put the ink through. I chose Wendy Brightbill's Floral Frolics, a collaged flowery feast of leaves, marks, and some more structured flowers interspersed, June Pfaff Daley's Early Art  2 Collection from June 2021Stencil Club, and Rae Missigman's ATC Mixup 2.



I placed the stencils side by side, uncapped my three colors, loaded one color to a felt applicator tool to add the inks through the stencil in a pouncing motion. Tip: pouncing is better than leaving the felt (or a brush) on the stencil as it will continue to bleed. I wanted a fairly crisp image so the pouncing motion was key. I did both stencils, waited 5 minutes, and then lifted to see the pattern. The next steps will transfer parts of the


Fill a spray bottle with 91% rubbing alcohol and lightly spray the first quarter of the palette.  Begin rolling the cylinder over the wet area. Repeat spraying and continue rolling. For more coverage, spray and repeat areas again without lifting the cylinder. I am looking to have marks that suggest. In the next process, we'll add more clarity. I used the circular-based stencil more for mark making. The last picture above shows what the cylinder looks like after this process. It could stay this way and appear very gestural or you can either paint some details yourself or use stencils to add some interest and bring some of the hinted areas into focus.Part 3 will showcase how to keep the abstract but add some detail.


PART 3: 

 I chose to use the same stencils again and added a small, organic mark-making one to finish the piece. I focused on adding leaves, a few flowers, and some marks from both stencils with the same inks, although I varied their saturation with some 91% rubbing alcohol on the felt. The same pouncing motion will add just the right amount of ink to the background. After that dried, I spot added some marks with white gesso and that tiny, ATC-sized stencil. I used a cosmetic sponge to apply (tap off excess onto a paper towel) to create a subtle pattern. 

In the picture below, I chose to showcase four parts that zoom in on the visual texture that begins in the deeply textural under layer and ends with the variegated top layers. 


 I finished the project off with alcohol ink on the lid, a ribbon to hold it on when opened, and a matching gift tag pressed into the recently sprayed with 91% palette.  I do seal any work I give away that has alcohol ink with two products:  Kamar Varnish and UV Archival Satin, both by Krylon.  I do two thin coats of Kamar to isolate the alcohol ink and two coats of UV Archival.  It probably isn't necessary for this project, but I am a creature of habit.  

I do truly hope you enjoyed your mini trip to Tuscany. I'd love to be there right now. As always, it's my pleasure to share my visions with all of you. See you back on the blog in December!







  1. What beautiful gift containers! Thank you for sharing your process and tips.

  2. Clever gifting idea! Love the idea of using the gold gesso under the alcohol inks!
    Thanks Nancy!!


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