Friday, March 7, 2014

Technique swap - Transparent layers - Due April 7th

Hooray - it's time to kick off our "technique based swap" series!
Thanks for your feedback on this idea.
I will make an effort to be as inclusive as possible with these themes.  The idea behind them is to encourage us to try new things and expand our art repertoire, NOT to accumulate more stuff or spend more money.

For our inaugural swap, we will be using transparent layers in our art.

Find something that is mostly transparent.  Add some type of image or mark or pattern to it.  Use this transparent layer on top of another layer.  Make sure part of that bottom layer shows through your transparent layer.  You may use several transparent layers if you want, but the minimum requirement is to use one.

Things you could use for a transparent layer:
  • an actual transparency
  • tissue paper
  • tracing paper
  • deli paper
  • the plastic window from a food packing box (like a pasta box)
  • the window from a security envelope
  • vellum
  • waxed paper
  • clear contact paper
  • packing tape
  • cellophane
  • candy wrapper
  • plastic bag
  • page protector
Ways you could add marks/images to your transparent layer:
  • run it through a printer or photocopier
  • stamp it with rubber stamps
  • stamp it with found objects
  • write or draw on it
  • paint on it
  • do a packing tape image transfer  (google it for tutorials) 
  • use something that already has a pattern on it (as long as it's partially transparent) like printed tissue paper, or one layer of a patterned napkin, or some see-through decorative tape.
  • you get the idea, don't you?

The idea is to add at least two physical layers together.  The images on the transparent layer will give your piece a wonderful depth.  Digital layers don't count here.  If you are digitally inclined, you still need to make sure you have two physical layers adhered to each other (one of them being a transparent layer).

Here are some things I've made using transparent layers:
This one has messy handwriting, done with sharpie on a transparency, and adhered upside down so that the handwriting becomes illegible.

Concentric circles stamped on tissue paper and glued to a painted surface.

If I remember correctly, the blue circle is a rubber stamp on tracing paper, the black circle is a stencil on tracing paper, the alphabet is part of an old children's dictionary, scanned and printed onto tissue paper (which was run through my inkjet printer after adhering it around the edges to a piece card stock for stability.  google "print on tissue paper" for a variety of tutorials)

three different kinds of printed tissue paper were used in the background.

The blue and orange part on the left is a transfer print, done on packing tape, with paint lifted from the gelli plate.  See the tutorial here.

paint circles stamped on both sides of the window of a security envelope.

This one uses four transparent layers.  The black text was a rubber stamp on a transparency, placed on top of some of my painted papers.  The white dots are also a rubber stamp on a different transparency, placed on top of the text transparency.  The white circles were stamped on tissue paper then glued down.  The black leaf design was also stamped on tissue and glued on top.

This one also uses four different transparent layers on top of an old book page - various techniques with paint and stamps and mono-prints on deli paper.

This one has a swirl from transparent fabric glued on top of a bunch of other layers.

If you've never added a transparent layer to your art, be prepared to amaze yourself.  It really adds incredible dimension.  If you're already using transparent layers in your art, push yourself to try a new technique.

Be sure to write a note on the back of your postcard describing how you created your layers.

and if you have any more transparency ideas (or tutorial links) leave them in the comments!

Swap details:
  • Create a postcard that features a transparency.  Any style, technique or medium is welcome,
    as long as you are combining at least two physical layers and one of those layers is transparent.
  • make no more than four cards  (you will get back the same number you send)
  • include an address label for each card you create
    (I will attach them to the cards I mail back to you)  
  • attach the proper postage to your postcard (see below for postal guidelines).  If you don’t have any stamps and it’s difficult for you to get some, go ahead and send me money instead.  You can stick cash in the envelope, or send it to me via paypal (
  • if you're sending me more than one, please make sure you insert waxed paper or parchment in between the cards so they don't get stuck together in the envelope 
  • write “MMSA transparency” on the back of your card to remind your recipient why they are receiving this wonderful work of art in the mail
  • write your return address on the back of the postcard (in case of postal delivery problems) and your email address so the recipient can thank you. 
  • Add a note for your partner describing the technique you used to create your transparent layer.
  • international swappers are welcome - the postage cost is $1.15 per card (paypal account is

Postage and Card Size
You are welcome to make any size postcard you want, but please pay attention to the following postal guidelines
  • In order to use the postcard rate ($.34) your card cannot be bigger than 4 x 6 inches, and it must be thin and flexible.  A 4x6 card that is thick, lumpy or doesn't bend, needs more postage·        
  • Please Note:  If you have some of those old “Apple” stamps, you need an additional one cent stamp.  If you have some of those old “Aloha” stamps, you need an additional two cent stamp.
  • If your card is a rectangle bigger than a postcard, but still flat and flexible, a regular "forever" ($.49 ) stamp is what you need.
  • If your card is an unusual shape (square, round) or is flexible but has some lumpy embellishments it will probably cost you the "non machinable" rate of $.70 
  • If your card doesn't bend at all, the post office considers it a package and you should go get it weighed to figure out the proper postage.
You can find all the postal specifications (and a handy postage calculator) here:

Mail your cards no later than April 7th (I don’t need to receive them by the 7th, they need to be postmarked by the 7th.)

Karen Isaacson
PO Box 532
Shrewsbury, MA 01545
United States


  1. why oh why did you put a link to that gelli print tape transfer!!! I know where all my time will be spent later today ;-)

  2. Thank you so much for suggesting this! I've been playing with packing tape and paper scrids all morning! So fun!

  3. Oh yeah!!! big fan of tape transfers, and the tape and gelli plate looks SOOOOOOOOOOO cool!!!!

  4. Yes! Had big fun yesterday with gelli plate and tape!

  5. I don't have a gelli plate, but I experimented on coated freezer paper, using a similar technique. It did not work quite as cleanly as the gelli plate, but I still got some cool results off of it!

  6. Oh what fun....great art on your part too. xox