Surface Treatment Workshop

Surface Treatment Workshop – Week 7 & 10

This week for the Surface Treatment Workshop we are combining week 7 with week 10 as they both focus on gels and speciality gels respectively, variations of the same thing.

Last week I gathered some textured things for making my own speciality gels with. I gathered some black peppercorns and some sharp sand from my garage . This is what I did with them:

Week 7 & 10 - A Distant Shore - NB
A Distant Shore

In the sample above I used the black peppercorns in the top half, the “sea” part of the image and the sharp sand in the “sand” part of the image. I just laid a thickish layer of matt gel onto my surface and tipped the peppercorns and sand onto the gel. Then I just tipped off any excess. I let the gel dry and then coated the top of the textures surface with more matt gel. When the gel had dried I painted the suface – the sea is painted with indigo and touches of turquoise and the sand is painted with yellow ochre. The sand and peppercorns created some lovely surface texture and the matt gel over the top of them made the surface easy to paint.

Next a completely experimental piece! I had this idea in my head, I had no idea how it would turn out – it was either going to be very good or very bad. How did it turn out? Judge for yourself:

Week 7 & 10 - Turbulent Seas - NB
Turbulent Seas

For this sample I used a polythene label off a 4 pint plastic milk bottle. I stuck it to my surface with matt gel in a scrunched kind of way. I let the gel dry a bit first and then I blasted it with a heat gun till the plastic label crinkled and melted. I let it cool down then I coated the top with more matt gel. When that had dried I coated it with 2 coats of white acrylic paint to blot out the remaining writing and colour from the label. The texture created from the melted plastic is awesome. I used loose washes of watercolour paint in shades of Intense Blue and Emerald, when they mixed they created a lovely shade of turquoise. I finished this sample with a coat of gloss gel, which then served to fix the watercolour in place.

Week 7 & 10 - Ocean Wave - NB
Ocean Wave

Something else I gathered last week to use in these samples was some crushed seashells. Again I stuck them to my painted surface with matt gel. To be honest, they looked so lovely I didn’t have the heart to paint over them – I just couldn’t bring myself to do it! So all I did to them was coat them with gloss gel mixed with a little pearl mica (a shade called Diamond Dust) to give a little extra sparkle. You can see it catching the light in the images above and below…

Week 7 & 10 - Seascape - NB

In the above sample you will also notice I also used some netting from a bag of veges! I stuck it down with matt gel. The photos above of the crushed seashell samples don’t really do them justice. The reality of them is so much better…

Week 7 & 10 - Pebbles - NB

For the above sample I used some black and some white organza, stuck it down with matt gel and melted it with a heat gun – it crinkled up lovely. I then covered it with more matt gel. When dry I finished with a coat of gloss gel mixed with pearl mica for the colour.

Click on any of the images to view them larger…

I really like using gels, they are so useful for so many things – too many to explore in this post. Gels will have a permanent home in my little work room. Next week the Surface Treatment Workshop focuses on Fiber Paste – it’s going to be interesting… !

24 thoughts on “Surface Treatment Workshop – Week 7 & 10

  1. these are amazing Evelyn – I see birds in the second one. What is your base service? burlap? It almost looks like counted cross stitch materials… Love how you used vegetable bag and so many unique things from “around the house.” Genius! Brilliant! Uber Creative and Beautiful!

    1. Thank you Zsuzsa – gel mediums can be used with just about ANYTHING! You are only limited by your imagination,,, ! Plus it’s fun to experiment and play – see how things turn out…

  2. So excited about this ‘surface’ series, Evelyn. I attended a documentary premiere last week called REUSE and it brought to light that recycling is too expense to be sustained, but REUSING something? Genius. Many of the ‘reusers’ are artists – no surprise here. Love the reused ‘label’ and peppercorns…so creative! Thanks.

    1. Thank you Carol – I’m really enjoying this workshop, it’s making me try different things I and I’m learning something new every week. It’s so much more fun and original to make your own speciality gels from “household” items than buy them ready made. I reuse paper and cardboard – I save nearly all my Amazon boxes to use for art projects and failed art experiments get saved and cut up for collage or get painted over!

  3. Hi Evelyn – found your blog on the recommendation of Zsuzsa above – fabulous! I shall have fun exploring it some more. Like you, I adore gel medium and use it a lot. I have used poultry grit (which is shell fragments) to create great texture, and I’m also another one who likes to use fruit net – it shrinks if you heat it! It makes a great fishing net effect, esp. with the addition of small plain wooden spacer beads (I use junk jewellery from village fetes etc. for recycling). I am a self-confessed texture junkie.


    1. Thank you Shoshi! I’m a texture junkie too and I’m all for recycling things – it makes for interesting and original art! I have just followed your blog – looking forward seeing more of your work…

      1. Thank you so much, Evelyn! I’m not in your league… I also have periods when I’m not well enough to make art, but do it when I can. I have a fabulous room all fitted out to my specs (full details on my blog) and it’s a joy to spend time in there. My hubby always teases me when I look at some old rubbish that most people would throw away and say “Could I make art out of that?” and he replies with a resounding “NO!” which I take to be a challenge to prove him wrong! Using recycled stuff, and cheaper alternatives than expensive art materials encourages thinking outside the box and as you say, makes for interesting and original art. Goodness, I simply must try peppercorns…


  4. Your lovely experiments with gels have me very eager to give some a whirl Evelyn! The textures in A Distant Shore along with your coloring are fantastic. I agree about not covering the crushed shells with color. Mother Nature has done a fabulous job and so have you in how you’ve used those treasures from the sea.
    p.s. as an aside my husband and I are taking a one week tour of Devon and Cornwall later this week ,,, we are over the moon excited all the while realizing that it will be a tiny sampling of your special part of the world and not near long enough BUT a wonderful opportunity to visit places I’ve always dreamed of

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments Patty. Do have a play with gels – it’s great fun and they’re so versatile! I really hope you enjoy your little tour of Devon & Cornwall – the coastline and beaches are stunning, very wild and rugged, lots of lovely old fishing villages that haven’t changed much in 200 years. Even the stark, bleak moors (Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor) have their own special wild beauty. I hope you take lots of pics and share them on you blog …

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