HOOO's Ready 4 School?? by Linda Hess

Hard to believe that the start of school is just around the corner!  Where on Earth did the Summer go?!  I hear the sounds of that old Staples commercial playing in my head..."It's the most wonderful time of the year" (yes, I know it is now playing in your head as well...you are welcome :-)

With Back-To-School firmly implanted, I started on design jump started by a journey to the craft store.  I wandered onto the soap making/resin aisle (don't ask me how I got there) and I found the BEST mold, an owl!  I had to have it as an idea had already jumped into my head and as we all know, once the idea is there it has to get out.  The only way to accomplish that is by running to the studio and creating.  Off to the studio....

Up first, the background.  I could see a blue sky, possibly a little twinkling of stars (after all when are the owls active??).  Using my Arnold Grummer's Papermill Pro I went to work.  Into the blender I mix a couple of handfuls of shredded paper, about 3 cups of water, a heavy sprinkle of Arnold Grummer's #150 Gold Dust, and a couple of squirts of Pinata Sapphire Blue alcohol ink.  WHIRRRRRRRRR.  Follow the directions with the Papermill Pro to complete the first sheet of paper.  I used an iron to quick dry my background.  (NOTE: the dark blue color that shows when the pulp is wet will lighten considerably when dry.  If you wish to have a dark blue sky then more ink may need to be added before blending)

Now to create the owl.  For this I would like a brownish color.  With no brown ink, I instead grabbed ColorBox Crafter's Pigment Ink refill (Merlot) from my box of inks.  Into the blender I add a handful of shredded paper, 2 cups of water, and a few good squirts of the Merlot ink refill.  WHIRRRRRRRRR.  As above, follow the directions with the kit to create a sheet of paper, but DO NOT iron!  Instead the wet sheet is pressed into the owl mold.  I quickly discovered (after the first owl was molded) that pressing little bits at a time into the deeply recessed areas FIRST is the best way to unmold the perfect owl.  Once the deep areas are filled, continue adding bits of the wet paper until the mold is completely filed.  Press in firmly with the sponge (this will soak up any excess water).  Turn mold over and bang on your hand or a work surface a couple of times until the owl pops out. 
Repair any loose areas immediately, then set aside to dry...OR if you are impatient like me, pop owls into a low temp oven (mine is set at 275 degrees) for about 15-20 minutes.  Another option is to use a heat gun to dry.

On to the next component, the words.  If you know my work, you know that no project is complete without a bit of polymer clay.  I conditioned a bit of Premo!Sculpey Pearl #5101 (www.sculpey.com) and flattened it in the pasta machine.  I want the word "HOOO" to stand out from the other words so I used an alphabet cutter for the "H" and a couple of sizes of circle cutters for the "O"s. 
The rest of the letters are made by stamping the clay using ColorBox Archival Dye ink in wicked black.  Rough edges are achieved by tearing the clay (towards you) rather than cutting it.  Place clay components into the oven and bake at 275 degrees for 15 minutes.  Let cool.  Detail if desired with PrismaColor markers.

The color of my owls was not quite what I expected, so out come the Prismacolor markers.  A little here, a little there and the owls are much better. 

The eyes are simply heat set crystals that I placed before "baking".

Final touches: Cut a wooden ruler to fit (Walmart .25!!).  Glue in place with Crafter's Pick The Ultimate glue.  Position owls and lettering.  Glue in place.  I found fall leaves in the scrapbook section of Michaels and had to add a few. 

This can be glued to the front of a notebook (imagine a spiral notebook hanging on the wall!), glued to a canvas for a 1st Day of School teacher gift, or placed into a shadow box along with school pictures.  I hope you have enjoyed this project. 


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