Background Bubble Wrap Ideas
Springtime gardens, summertime beach and pool fun, and bubble-blowing season are coming around the corner! I thought I'd share a new printing technique for making mats, papers, and frames. These are perfect for our happy warm-weather photos. I will even include a simple variation for your winter snowball-fight photos! :) You have probably got the main ingredients for all these pages in your house right now! You'll never believe it--but bubble wrap can help you make fantastic pages!
Decide the style printing you like.
Look at the samples here and get an idea of what you would like to try. I have included a wide variety here so there is something for everyone!
Materials you will need:
~A few sheets of fresh (well inflated) bubble wrap in any size (Yes, the kind you get around packages in the mail or inside padded mailing envelopes!) Small bubbles are great but the Jumbos (about 3/4 inch diameter) are fun too!
~old piece of plastic so you don't get the table dirty.
~Ink pads, brush markers, or acid free paint. Keep in mind that Pigment inks heat emboss better and dye based inks dry faster.
~Embossing powders (optional, but I think they really make the bubbles for 'wet' photos look real!)
~Heat gun (optional)
~Acid free white paper or paper in the color of your choice. Most summer pages will look good using white, pale yellow, or pale blues. For the snowball page, I used a charcoal grayish blue.
~Scrap paper about 6x6 up to about 8.5x11
Prepare the work area. You will want to lay the plastic down so any ink or embossing powders will not cause any problems to the table. Get out all your supplies as listed above. If you have a heat gun, get that out and plugged in as well.
Cut a piece of bubble wrap to the size you want the pattern to cover. If you want mats, cut the bubble wrap that size--approximately 4 1/4 x 5 1/2. If you want the whole page covered, cut a 8.5x11 piece of bubble wrap. (For 12x12, you may need to work in sections of bubble wrap only about 6 inches wide by 6 inches long and repeat the pattern 4 times to cover a whole sheet.)
Our first example is Flower Printing. With this pattern, you only ink a few of the bubbles. Those inked are the only ones that will show later in the design.
1) Use brush markers for this kind of inking because even the one inch ink pad cubes are too large. Keep in mind that the final image will mirror the one you put onto the bubble wrap.
Color intensively as the ink needs to transfer to the paper. The more color you lay down, the more ink that will transfer.
2) Huff (breathe hard) on the bubble wrap to lightly re-moisten.
3) Lay the bubble wrap on the table with the ink facing upward.
4) Take a piece of acid free paper and gently place it face down over the bubble wrap.
5) Carefully press the paper down onto the bubble wrap with your hands or with a brayer. Make sure you press on all the parts of the inked surface evenly. Try not to "rock" the paper too much or the image will smear. A little smudging is normal but you don't want to lose too much of the roundness of the bubbles or make a double exposure look.
6) Lift the paper off and look at the image. Cool huh? It should loosely resemble a flower. Practice until it looks the way you like.
Stripes! Stripes! Stripes!
This second sample is a fun one! You choose the colors and the order of the stripes on the paper. Here, I used kelly green, orange, royal blue, yellow, and purple. I inked the bubble wrap in stripes one inch wide with the one inch color ink pad cubes. I then placed the bubble wrap face up on the table and pressed acid-free paper on top. I pressed firmly as in the flower example above. If you use a brayer, go just once over the paper in one direction firmly so that the image will not smear. This went so quickly and the result is so cheery!! You could do this in shades of tan and brown also for an animal print look! What a great idea for zoo pages!
Random Colors :
Use the ink pads again and ink the bubble wrap in blotches randomly. Here, I used green, purple, yellow, blue, and orange. This would be PERFECT for those fun-filled pages where the kids are playing in the huge vat of plastic balls! Again, lay the bubbles face up after inking and press the paper down onto the inked bubbles. If you use all one color family, you get a different effect. Try shades of pink for those super duper bubble gum contest photos!
I love these bubbles! I used metallic silver ink and blue ink in a random blotch pattern on the bubble wrap as described above.
I printed them onto white paper but they would look great on light blue as well. The secret to making them look like real bubbles is the heat embossing! After inking, use clear embossing powders and heat evenly with a heat gun to give them a true shiny-wet look! Bubble baths, water pages, soap bubble blowing, and seashore themes all coordinate with this wet and wild paper as a backdrop.
Doesn't every gardener have a beehive page? Doesn't every Grandma need a "Sweet as Honey" page? Aren't we all "Busy as a Bee?" I have the perfect honeycomb paper for all these themes! Ink up the bubble wrap in a random blotch pattern with brown, yellow, and just a touch of orange. It could also be used on zoo pages in tan and brown tones to look like giraffe skin!
I did mine in a 1 1/2 inch stripe down the long side of a page for a border and then I created matching mats by just printing the outer edges of two 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inch mats. I then cut these out with a Fiskars Zipper decorative scissors. I chose a solid gold to mat them and added a beehive die cut and little Provo Craft bee to accent the theme. Photos can be mounted on top of the honeycomb paper. This is another one that might be fun to heat emboss in clear powder to make it shiny like honey!
Now that we have lots of ideas for warmer weather activities, let's throw one out there for the winter pages! You can cut strips of bubble wrap to make photo frames. Be sure to use your jumbo bubble wrap with white ink and dark paper to make snowball's fly! (The same effect can be achieved with clear embossing ink and white embossing powder on dark paper.)
A fun way to make just a few of the bubbles appear on the paper is to pop the ones you don't want to show with a pin! This flattens the popped ones and allows only the still-inflated bubbles to make an impression. In this way, you can control how many snowballs fly across the page and where they show up! Or you can cut away the ones you don't want to show from the sheet of wrap. Ink carefully with a marker or embossing pen for accurate snowballs!
This same technique can be used to make different colored planets flying through outer space! The mottled look and the imperfections in each heat-embossed bubble circle are exactly the 'texture' you want for snowballs and planets! Use tans, reds, yellows, and oranges or even purple for the different planets! Of course, use blue and/or green for our planet earth! You can see the difference between regular bubble wrap and the jumbo bubble sizes on this page.
Now, you'll never look at bubble wrap the same way again! Use your imagination and enjoy the printing process. Experiment with it and remember--mottled is good! Have fun with it! Enjoy your bubbles!!