Welcome to the Classroom! I recently replaced my camera and needed a larger bag for the new one and its lenses. When I saw the large Prima blank canvas camera bags, I chose one as the perfect new camera home; I was very pleased with the quality of the bag and the thickness of its padding when it arrived. As part of Ellen's Crafting with Your Kids week, this project is something that a teen might love. Think of the possibilities for expressing oneself! (The camera bag is also available in a smaller size too for cameras without multiple lenses.)
Altering canvas isn't quite as scary as it sounds. Keep in mind that if you really mess up, you can always gesso over it and start again. In fact, I can tell you all about that "starting again" part: more about that later. I had observed artist Traci Bautista demonstrate her art journaling at the Copic booth at last CHA and was amazed at how free and flowing her drawing motions were. In a positive way, she reminded me of how non-judgmental an elementary student doodling instead of taking notes in class can be--whatever happens on paper or in this case, on canvas, is good--better than notes, in any case!
So when I stared at the blank bag, Copic Multiliner in hand, I was thinking "Traci. . ." Guess what? It's harder than it looks! I should have at least sketched on paper first to get an idea of where I was going. (Traci didn't do that. She just made cool art as naturally as breathing.) Of course, Traci has experience in freeform arts, and I--well, in spite of an art background, am one of those perfectionistic, uptight artisans. . . I need planning and structure. I want control of my medium. Here is my first try, with no underdrawing. I sketched freehand on the front of the camera bag with the Multiliner and then colored with my Copic markers.
Big Mistake. The flowers were all too close to the same height, and the type was atrocious--bad letterspacing, poor planning. . . On to Plan B, which I didn't have yet.
I knew that I could gesso over the pocket and paint with acrylic paints. However, I really wanted to use my Copic markers to color my image, and Copics are not supposed to be used on top of acrylic paint. (If you do it, use them quickly, only over absolutely dry paint. Airbrushing is a much better idea; then you won't damage your marker tips.)
So what was Plan B? I remembered having some of Claudine Helmuth's Sticky -Backed Canvas in my stash. Love that stuff! I used various widths of Copic Multiliners, an archival pigment ink pen compatible with Copic markers, to draw over my lightly penciled sketch lines. After the ink was completely dry, I used a gum eraser to remove my pencil lines and then made sure that ALL eraser particles were removed before I started to color.
Next, I started coloring with my Copic markers. Coloring canvas is different from coloring paper, but it is not hard to adjust if you know what to expect. Cloth is very absorbent and tends to wick the ink out of the lines. Rather than coloring around the perimeter and working your way into the shape, start in the center and work your way out, allowing time for that wicking action to spread the ink. It is important not to oversaturate the canvas since you will have a hard time getting rid of coloring overages.
Here are the markers and pens that I used; the one that you can't see in the back is a Black Copic Multiliner SP BS (Brush Small). I really liked it, but you should be aware that it is more of a flexible brush tip--not a standard hard tip. You control the width of the line by hand pressure. It is perfect for doodling applications.
Here is my completed replacement panel. I stitched randomly around the edges before removing the paper backing from the sticky canvas. That made removing the backing a twenty-minute job, and I'm not sure I would recommend doing it that way again. (Aren't you glad that I made the mistakes so that you do have to? ;-}) I also sponged a bit of distress ink around the edges to make the panel tie in better with the creamier color of the natural canvas. Since I had filled in the rest of the panel with color, the edges were really the only place that stood out as noticeably white, but I certainly got more vibrant color when working on white as opposed to the natural canvas. The texture is a finer texture as well--a bit easier to color that the original front panel had been. Keep in mind that working on canvas is harder on your marker tips than working on paper, and uses more ink as well. Since replacement tips and ink refills (Copic Various Inks) are readily available, it was worth the extra wear on my marker tips, and the sticky backed canvas was a great surface since I was using fairly large Copic Multiliner point sizes.
I was happy with the pocket panel at this point, but I needed some cover for the rest of the bag. Please Note: rather than depending solely upon the sticky-backed canvas to stay put on something that would get quite a bit of wear and tear, I added some Helmar Gemstone Glue to the edges to make sure that the canvas would stay attached. This glue stays flexible and is washable too. I pulled out an assortment of masks and started airbrushing with my markers. Airbrushing is not recommended for cloth that will be washed since it does not soak into the cloth as far as it does when you color with your markers. I am not planning to wash this bag, so it should be fine.
Note: Not all of these masks are available in Ellen's store; in fact, the black masks have been discontinued, so if you want one of the patterns left in stock, you should get it. The Tim Holtz masks (such as the flourish) are still available, but the Heidi Swapp masks (Polka Dots) won't be available again that I'm aware of. The circles and stars were given to me by someone at CHA; they are manufactured by Crafter's Workshop. Also, the camera bag contains a long adjustable strap as well, but I haven't decorated it yet.
My bag is an ongoing project. I think it needs some black ink on the airbrushed body of the bag as well, but I thought I might save that either for doodling when the mood strikes, or for autographs. I bet Marianne would draw on my bag if I asked nicely!
Thanks for stopping by the Classroom today, and I hope that perhaps you will consider altering a blank canvas piece as well. If you are not feeling brave, hand the bag to your teen along with a multiliner!