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Buried Treasure and Excavating Paint

Seth Apter over at The Altered Page is hosting his annual hunt for buried treasure – in your old posts.  I looked back and found this!  Check out his site- so many great places to unearth creative treasure!

Excavating Paint

Posted on July 10, 2011 by Carolyn

Alcohol dissolves paint.  When I heard that I realized it could so work to my advantage.  I used old photos that were less than desirable shots – you know the blurry, off center, etc. photos.  I have a huge stack of them.  Now some are great starting points for an art something or other.Supplies you need: rubbing alcohol, cheap paint -any colors, old hairbrush (it will not work on hair again), and an old credit card

First, prep the photos.  I did a whole bunch at one time so I’d have lots to play with later.   My first layer was purple.  Let it dry.

Add a layer of orange.  Let it dry.

Add a layer of pink.  Let it dry.

Add a layer of green.  Let it dry.

Add a layer of blue.  Let it dry.

Get the idea?  Well, I found out that 5 layers was a bit much.  I really only saw the top three colors.  Next time I’ll only do 3…

Second, spray alcohol on the painted photos.  I am working on a gesso’d journal page because this gets messy and I love the look of the smeared paint.  Let the alcohol sit for 15-30 seconds.  Add more at any time if needed.

Third, scrap the paint with the hairbrush bristles.  This gets it moving nicely.  It will start to get sloppy and runny!  Yeah!

Fourth, add more alcohol if it starts to dry up or the paint is not sloppy.  Then, scrape it with the credit card.  The paint comes right off.

I clean off the credit card by wiping that wonderful paint goo on the journal page (see below).  That way not a drop of paint is wasted!


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  • Maria McGuire June 11, 2013, 4:54 pm

    OMG!! I running to go find some photos!!! Did you use photo lab printed ones or photos printed at home?

    • Carolyn June 11, 2013, 4:56 pm

      These were back from when I had them printed at the lab. Had a huge stack of ones that were horrible shots (esp. from pre-digital camera era-that’s how long I hung onto these)!

  • Cynthia June 11, 2013, 7:30 pm

    Insanely awesome and incredibly beautiful!!!!

  • Bleubeard and Elizabeth June 11, 2013, 9:30 pm

    What fun. I guess it’s the photo process that helps with the paint and alcohol. I wish I’d saved some of my old photos for this very purpose. Great tutorial.

    • Carolyn June 11, 2013, 9:34 pm

      You don’t need photos- they just happened to be what I had that would take paint well without warping and was a good size. You can do this on any surface that takes paint!

  • froebelsternchen June 12, 2013, 12:33 am

    cool- I have to try this!

  • Rinda June 12, 2013, 1:55 am

    I love the idea of buried treasure in old pages.

  • Patti Sokol June 12, 2013, 10:11 am

    Very inspiring idea. Thanks. Glad I found you from the Buried Treasure link.

  • Ginny June 12, 2013, 1:10 pm

    Cool technique. Definitely going to try this!!

  • Kim June 12, 2013, 1:43 pm

    Loved this Buried Treasure post and I really enjoyed visiting your blog!

  • Corrine June 12, 2013, 1:49 pm

    marvelous technique from the way back machine, not sure if I ever saw this one. xox

  • Kay Wallace June 12, 2013, 3:54 pm

    Brilliant “find,” Carolyn! I love new techniques, and this is one we can all do! Thanks for the tip!

  • gem June 12, 2013, 4:27 pm

    Cool! Found you via The Altered Page & Seth’s Buried Treasure links – this is a neat process that I can’t wait to try 🙂 Thanks for posting (and, reposting!)

    ~ gem

  • Claudette June 12, 2013, 5:05 pm

    This is fantastic! So clever!

  • Donna June 12, 2013, 5:28 pm

    I am so doing this!
    This was an awesome treasure!

  • Marjie Kemper June 12, 2013, 5:30 pm

    Oooh, that’s a good one! What a great surface to use AND you’re making the ‘uglies’ beautiful again.

  • Ella June 12, 2013, 6:56 pm

    This is too cool! oooh, I can’t wait to try it…thank you for sharing 😀

  • caterina giglio June 13, 2013, 10:34 am

    great tutorial, thanks for digging this up..

  • Robin June 14, 2013, 9:57 am

    I’m thinking magazine pages! oh……………..can’t wait to try this!

  • Chris / CS Designs June 19, 2013, 4:25 pm

    Carolyn, I just popped in from Seth’s Buried Treasure project and enjoyed my visit to your blog. Such a wonderful treasure you have uncovered. I had never seen this technique before and so glad that you shared all the how tos. I definitely want to try this and will be looking through my old photos. It was great to find you and I will be following your blog through Bloglovin’
    🙂 Chris / CS Designs