Sunday, May 30, 2010

Smacking acetate tutorial

Several people have asked about the smacking acetate technique for creating backgrounds and papers. It's the simplest of techniques and anyone with some Distress Ink and a piece of acetate can have a go. I've put together a quick tutorial to show you how.

1. Equipment

  • A largish piece of acetate (A4 or so)- it is there in the picture, honestly!!
  • Distress Inks or other waterbased ink pads- Distress Inks are idea though, as their colour doesn't fade or split.
  • Card/ ATC blanks/ whatever you want to colour
  • Water spritzer- mine's an old hair product bottle!
  • Rock or sea salt (optional)

I usually work on a waterproof craft mat, but I've worked on white card here so that you can see the colours.

2. Apply colour to the acetate

Put the ink direct from the ink pad onto the acetate. Work from your lightest to darkest colour to prevent contaminating your ink pads. Randomly swoosh your ink onto the acetate, but try not to overlay the colours. There's no right or wrong way to do this, so try whatever takes your fancy. I've used Bundled Sage, Worn Lipstick, Dusty Concord and Victorian Velvet here. Often the more unusual colour combination work better.

3. Spritz with water

Spritz the acetate and inks with water. Again, there's not right or wrong way to do this, you'll just get a different effect with more or less water- a bit of experimentation is in order!! To start with try to get some beads of water and ink like in the picture above.

4. Get smacking!!

Now the fun begins! Start with something small and smack the acetate- actually it's more like you dip your card into the ink and water on the acetate. Just lay the card onto the acetate, press down slightly and lift off. Don't move it around too much on the acetate or the colours will muddy quickly (they'll muddy slightly anyway, but no sense in making it worse!!).

5. First result!

You can keep on dipping as long as there's ink on the acetate. As it dries up, you'll get smaller, more pronounced drops of ink on the card. You can also come back to your first dipped pieces of card later on when the ink is making different effects and redip them. Don't be afraid to have some white bits, often that's what makes the background more interesting.

Other possibilities are spritzing the acetate again to get a more diluted ink mixture and lighter colours, or putting a whole A4 sheet of card over the acetate to get a whole sheet covered at once. It's easier to redip smaller pieces, but you get different effects with a larger sheet.

6. Salt optional!

If you have a particularly wet sheet of card, a nice idea is to sprinkle it with rock or sea salt and leave to dry. It's worth doing this inside a box or something with a lip as the salt goes everywhere!!! The result is an unusual pattern where the salt sucks the moisture in.

8. Final results!

Here's my final set of ATC backs from this smacking acetate session. Fab aren't they? I like to make a wodge of backgrounds at one time, so I've got some ready made when I need them. If you wipe off the acetate you can use it time and again.

And...... here's a few examples- some ATCs made with smacking acetate backgrounds.


  1. Thanks for the tutorial Lisa, i will definitley try this at some point this week x

  2. I enjoyed your demo at the Wolves meet, but it's great to come on your blog, it's fabulous as is all your work Lisa.Off to have another go at this now.xx

  3. Well after that title on dc I had to come and see what you were up to!! Yeah this is a great technique, I love using the salt too, it gives a really great effect and I always think it changes the texture of the paper which is interesting as well. Have a great BH!!

  4. Wow! Fab tutorial, thank you - I was pointed in the direction of your blog for it. Thank you for sharing. I have become a follower as your work is great.

  5. That is so cool and easy enough that I should be able to do it too! Thanks!

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