What started as a craft project is now a potential business for Karen Mattison.

Pour painting might even be a talent of hers. Over the span of a year, Mattison has learned several different techniques and applied them to canvases, dressers and, more recently, countertops.

But hanging on the wall of the Cheyenne Artists Guild, which she joined as a member in August, is a collection of psychedelic clocks made out of old vinyl records.

She always loved doing crafts, taking classes in high school and fueling the passion for something that wasn’t completely viable as a career. Despite being interested in art, she took a different angle toward her drive to create when she bought a Wilton cake decorating book in seventh grade.

For seven years, she mixed and designed birthday cakes for a local grocery store, then doodled in her free time to satisfy her artistic edge while raising four boys. Eventually, she found herself in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she saw classes being offered for acrylic pour painting.

Her interest in the craft combined with a difficult life event.

“I moved out here to help my mom take care of my dad, then he passed away and they sold the house,” Mattison said. “So, as we were going through the house, I saw they had tons of albums. And after we got rid of about two-thirds of them, I was like ‘Don’t throw any more of those away!’”

The records were old, and Mattison grew up with them enough to know their worth. With the remaining plastic disks, she created art.

But she never did attend a class, even with such a limited background in the medium. Instead, she went to YouTube and started studying, going through the different techniques of pour painting. She learned quickly, as only shortly after she got a hang of the process she chose to give out 18 different clocks as Christmas presents in 2020.

“I wish I would have started sooner and did more,” Mattison said. “I think it’s possible that I would have a career already just doing art and doing what I love to do.

Being self-taught, Mattison worked through the kinds with craft books and online tutorials as a supplement. She’s practiced enough that the longest step in the process comes when mixing the paints and letting her work dry.

The creation process itself is quick.

On Thursday, Mattison demonstrated her process with two different pouring techniques for a look at how she crafts her unique clocks.

Dutch “Dirty” Pour

Mattison begins by taking an old damaged record, which she coated with a white prep layer of paint, and adding one side of black paint and another of white, spreads the colors out with a paint spatula.

Then, she takes the colors of her choosing, which she has already mixed and thinned with floetrol. If they weren’t thinned out, today’s hues of metallic blue, green, purple, and brown would not run and blend the way they should.

Going one one color at a time, she squirts the paint onto overlapping squiggly lines that divide the black and the white.

With the colors stacked, she dons a pair of rubber gloves. Raising a blowdryer, she spreads and smears the paint in a back-and-forth sweeping motion that create “cells,” or small splotches of mixed color in the process. This mixing is what classifies the pour as “dirty.”

The final step to the painting process is to take a blowtorch to the piece. Intense heat makes for a subtle transition before the eyes, quickly bubbling out the silicone and creating a glossy design.

Flip Cup Pour

The Flip Cup technique is entirely different from the dutch pour, creating a unique design as a result.

Mattison starts the Flip Cup by spreading a layer of white acrylic paint across the record. She takes a small red Dixie cup and adds thin layers of her colors, making sure not to make any one layer too thick, as it would hurt the number of “cells” the technique produces.

In one sudden motion, she flips the cup upside down onto the plain painted record, letting the colors seep out the bottom before lifting the cup for one big spot of color.

The mix of color widens like oil in water, ridding the record of almost any remaining white edges. She then uses the blowdryer once again to balance the color to her liking before lighting the blowtorch to solidify the intended design.

Each piece will dry for 72 hours. Lastly, Mattison will coat and rub the pieces in flour, which naturally removes the silicone from the paint. She will then wash it with water and dish soap and apply a coat of resin.

Mattison will soon expand what items she applies her pour-over technique to, starting with small glass cups that she plans to turn into candles. The hope is that she can soon begin teaching paint pouring classes in various locations around Cheyenne.

Will Carpenter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s Arts and Entertainment/Features Reporter. He can be reached by email at wcarpenter@wyomingnews.com or by phone at 307-633-3135. Follow him on Twitter @will_carp_.

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