Sunday, 14 June 2015

Watch the Birdie

I'm really excited about a June swap I'm doing. We are creating tall skinny book pages with a bird theme. Each of us is making nine pages, one for each participant. Nothing particularly special about that except that we have a new swapper joining in - the 11 year old grand daughter of one of the organisers. I find it really refreshing to see what other people's take on a theme and especially children who always seem free of the "rules" about how to use products and come up with amazing ideas.

My pages all have the same theme on each side although the colour palette varies from page to page because I have been using up backgrounds from the enormous stack I have. This side is a gelli print background with added texture and some subtle gilding.

And the reverse is a Dylusions spray background with some overstamping. The bird is white embossed and a bit sparkly. The body has been bleached out.

Can't wait to see the completed book with nine very individual pages.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Lack of Inspiration

I've been a bit lacking in inspiration of late and needed a bit of a prompt to kick start my thinking. After working on the themes set for my May swaps (see last post) I decided to do a bit of web browsing and uncovered all sorts of crafty sites with challenges.

Now that left me in a quandry because now I had too many prompts and couldn't decide what to start with so I incorporated a whole lot! Here is the result of a bank holiday weekend and an amalgam of themes from:

The Craft Barn Challenge this week is Holidays
The Stampotique Designers Challenge last week was Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue
The Artist Trading Post May Challenge is to use found natural objects
and A Sprinkle of Imagination Challenge is anything goes

The holiday theme speaks for itself and is inspired by childhood seaside holidays. I have used Distress Inks to make a watery back ground for the cover and cut a label (from a camembert box) using the Tim Holtz Sizzix tag and bookplates die. Both products are available from the Craft Barn.

There are a lot of old things included, not least the board book itself which cost 10p at a school fair. The window of the niche is cut from the packaging of some new crafty stash. The shells and sandpaper have been borrowed from the garage. The first from a bucketful collected by my son several years ago and the second from the tool cupboard. I have also incorporated blue paint, card and bits borrowed from some pot pourri.

I have made a "photograph" of Stampotique's Eric by masking some glossy card stock to create the white edges and then stamping with Archival ink. The scenery is a second generation impression to make it fade into the background. He is coloured in with Distress inks used as watercolour. The inks and the  Crafty Individuals ticket stamps used as the background are available from the Artist Trading Post.

I peeled the board book to remove the shiny printed surface and, after cutting out a niche, painted the whole thing with a coat of matte gel to seal it followed by two coats of white gesso to get a bit of texture like old heaviliy painted wood. The shells and glass pieces are glued in place using Glossy Accents which forms the effect of a shallow layer of water at the bottom of the niche. All these media are available from A Sprinkle of Imagination.

I'm off now to browse for some more inspiration.

A Quick Catch Up

I'm sure time is speeding up. How can it be the end of May already?

Things have been hectic at work and we're now in the A level season too so I seem to be permanently stressed to the point where in any free moments I just sit, somehow devoid of creativity.

Fortunately the lovely swap group I belong to keep me ticking over without realising it. Their monthly swaps are always based around a particular theme or technique which I find enormously useful as a prompt to get me started.

Each month this year we are swapping gelli plate post cards. The May technique was to make a texture plate for printing. I haven't done this before, which I confess is simply laziness because it is much quicker and easier to grab pre-exisitng items. However, having given it a shot I may well experiment again.

Keeping it simple, I used a sheet of corrugated card as the base. I ruled out a grid on the reverse and then cut out random large and small squares. I stuck the correucget card onto another sheet of card as a base and then stuck the small cut out squares in to the large square holes with the corrugation (is that a word?) at right angles to the main piece.

I overlaid two prints using my texture plate. One in purple and one in red, rotating the plate 180 degrees between prints. The post card is finished off with a swirly pattern heat embossed with sprakly black powder.

In May we also swapped "the new white". This was along the same lines as the new black of a previous post but with white as the base colour. I don't like it as much as the black though because the metallic/mica colours don't pop in the same way and the result is not bold enough for my taste.There are a lot of die cuts on here, some Finnabair embellies and some junk - spot the ring pulls off tins and cans! I have two shoe boxes full of such rubbish (literally) just waiting for inspiration to strike. Please call back to see whether I get creative or simply start filling box number three.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Playing cards

The trickiest thing about this swap was getting the media to stick to the playing card used as the substrate. They are coated with a very resistant surface that a lot of media peel straight off. I eventually got the first layer of old book page to stick by sanding the surface of the playing card and using copious quantities of ModPodge.

The theme for the swap was to incorporate the suit and number of the card into the design. Fortune was smiling on me because I got the eight of hearts and hearts are something that crops up often in my stamp collection.

In hindsight the colour scheme might be somewhat obvious for a heart theme but I've thrown in a lot of texture to comepnsate. Fisrt I slapped on some texture paste in the top left corner and stamped into it. Next I stamped three other hearts with gesso before applying pink and red paint in thin layers. The last four hearts were stamped and embossed with copper embossing powder.

I then outlined the gessoed hearts with glitter glue and applied gilding was onto all the raised texture. I used various background stamps to add contrast in black white and turquoise and finished by adding the word eight and some outlining with pen. I still think the end result is a bit too pink but it does look better up close where all the glitz shows up.

Friday, 13 March 2015

And they all lived together in a little crooked house

One of our March swaps was to create a scrappy house. The inspiration came from here. Those houses were quite large and made of wood and other scrap. Because we swap by post our houses had to be scaled down in size and weight to fit in an envelope with what I call a "fat" stamp but is moe properly a "large letter" stamp.

The main background is another ghost print from my gelli plate. I used the same paint to colour some coorugated cardboard for the roof. I think I have said (many times) that I never throw anything out - well here's the evidence... the door is constructed from miniature planks cut from stirring sticks collected when I drink frothy coffees.

The windows are cut from painted funky foam glazed with glossy accents.

I think it is rather fun and a change from ATCs and postcards.

Monday, 2 March 2015

More black

I had so much fun making my "new black" swap that whilst I had all the materials out I decorated the cover of a note book that came free from somewhere with a sponsor logo on the front. The book cover was chosen because I have just discovered The Mirror Crack'd blog. The sentiment (keep everything, even broken mirror) made me smile and I was drawn to their "no cards" mixed media challenge.

I think the picture is a bit overexposed and doesn't show the metallic effects to the best advntage so I'd best explain the various products applied.

The first layer is dry embossed mirri card cut into sections. As it turns out I didn't really need the metallic effect on the card because it all got covered up so, lesson learned, use cheaper plain card in future.

All the shapes of cogs, washers and letters are die cut from funky foam. I set eyelets or brads in the centre of all the cogs - any old colour will do so use odds and ends. The final layer of texture is made from snippets of magic mesh and dymo "printed" words.

I then painted the whole cover black to harmonise all the miscellaneous colours and provide some tooth to hold the subsequent media. I then painted layers of Lumiere paint in different shades of blue, green and copper. I highlighted various textural elements with gilding wax and finished with some rusting powder and there might be more than one spritz of mica spray too.

I think I might do more of this yet. I love over the top shine and glitz and gilding.

Sometimes I hate to be right

Our March gelli technique swap was to use masks. This technique is demonstrated with fabulous results on theGelli Arts blog here. They make it look so easy but I was right, it is getting trickier.

I don't think the odd assortment of paints I used were entirely suitable though - our swap hostess recommended translucent ones but mine were rather opaque so I ended up with horrid dark prints. Well that's my excuse anyway. And you can tell they were bad because they went in the bin and it is not often I throw things away without at least trying to redeem them with a little bit more of something.

I used the second "ghost" prints for my post card in the end. Because I printed an A4 sheet and then cut a postcard size out the pattern was rather large in proportion to the post card. I couldn't resist adding some background stamping in similar colours to balance the overall background.

The technique for next time is dry prints which sounds rather intriguing so watch this space.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Gelli time again

Following from January's Additive technique, our February Gelli technique is Subtracting and I love this simple technique.

Here I have used two superimposed subtracting prints. The first layer is made by brayering dabs of blue and yellow to mix them on the plate. I then placed a stencil and plastic canvas on the plate, pressed down and them lifted them off to remove paint. This was print one.

Then I brayered black paint onto the plate, layed down another stencil (flowers) and this time brayered over the top until most of the paint was lifted from the gaps. After removing the stencil all that is left are outlines where the paint close to the edges of the stencil doesn't get picked up by the brayer. I pulled this print over the top of the first.

To complete the postcard I used Glossy Accents to add dimension to the circles in the centre of the flowers without concealing any of the print.

I think the easy challenges are over now. The March swap sounds more complicated, involving masks, so I'm off to practice now.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Take it make it challenge

The new issue of Craft Stamper is out and the "Take it Make it" challenge this month is Take a Technique: Stencilling.

This project is one of a trio I made using one stamp (Fred B Mullett), two ink pads (Vintage Photo and Black Soot) and assorted other bits and pieces. The main element of the background is made using a stencil.

The base for the project is a small deep edge canvas covered in old book pages. I applied texture paste through a stencil to start with. It was Crafters Workshop Tie Dye which is one of my favourites. I think it looks very organic like tiger stripes or a nautilus shell. I applied both colours of ink with a piece of foam.

The vertical band is made of copy paper dampened, screwed into a ball, flattened out and then coloured with ink direct from the pad. I have made a marble effect in paper clay by adding a bit of ink from the pad and rolling and twisting it before pressing it flat and stamping into it.

 The label holder is a die cut which I embossed with Distress Embossing powder. I can't resist tongue in cheek titles and this is no exception - taken from the proverb "the early bird catches the worm" but so suitable for this fossil bird,one of the earliest examples.

Below is a close up of the stencilling.I'm hooked on using stencils for texture at the moment and the rugged result seemd just right for a craggy fossil piece.

Why not grab a stencil and join in with the challenge here. You could win yourself some fabulous prizes.
I'm looking forward to seeing what you make.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Playing it safe

 One of our February swaps is to make something, anything, from polymer clay.

Now I tried really hard to cover a pen. I was perhaps overly pleased with my attempt at making a sheet of blended stripes and made a neat job of covering a Bic pen following examples on the internet.

However pride, as they say, comes before a fall. Having made what I thought was more than acceptable offering I baked the result in the oven. What a disaster! The pen melted - well shortened - and split the cover I had made.

So to plan B, playing it safe. You can't go wrong with polymer clay, stamps and mica powder. I used an Invoke Arts stamp to imprint the texture and trimmed round the outline. Then applied turquoise mica powder before baking the piece. Once cooled I highlighted the raised parts with Treasure Gold, glued a bead into the centre with Glossy Accents and added a brooch back. The result is too shiny to get a good photo!

Feeling guilty for taking the easy option I used a gelli print to cover a small box in which to present my swap. That should help it survive the post too.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The New Black

The second swap for January was to make something using the technique showcased here.

The basic instructions were add lots of texture, paint black, colour using mica paints and sprays, highlight with Treasure Gold etc.

So, being straight after Christmas what else would I start with but a used cake board. My house is testament to the fact that I keep all sorts of "rubbish" because it will "come in for something" and cake boards with scored foil covering make a great recycled substrate.

My first layer of texture was torn book pages - the pieces overlapped to cover the entire board and stuck down and sealed over with ModPodge.

Because the board was circular I was inspired to make the piece look like the Earth.  I then used an entire pot of Distress Crackle Paint that had been knocking around since I don't know when to create the continents by applying a very, very thick layer with a palette knife.

Layer three of texture was created by adding embellishments of various types. The foliage is die cut fun foam, there are paper flowers, shells, bits of fibre and hessian and items moulded from paper clay. The letters were old stash glittered in red and green but it didn't matter that I didn't have matching colours to make up the words for this.

I mixed black acrylic paint and clear gesso to create a black primer and painted everything with two coats. Black gesso would been easier but I didn't have any and wanted to get on. The blue sea and green land were painted with Lumiere paints mixed with a bit of water to get it to run around into the cracks.

All the embellishments are painted with Twinkling H2Os. I used lots of old stuff making this that hadn't been out of the cupboard for ages. Lastly I applied Treasure Gold with my fingers (what else?) to highlight some of the texture details.

Here you can see some of the detail. The circles were made by coiling up the wire stems cut off the paper flowers.

The twirly bits like little springs were made from left over wire stems too.

Now I have to figure out how I'm going to post this to my swap partner.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

What happened?

Trials and tribulations of life, family and work... I can't believe it is such a long time since I last posted! To be fair though a lots of stressful stuff has been going on and I haven't had time or inclination for much crafty stuff for a while but at last my head is back in the right place now when I do get chance to "play".

Fewer of us played in our twelve days of Christmas swap in 2014 so I made 4 little gifts so we all had 12 presents including our own but I never got round to photos or posting - so apologies to the lovely crafters in the swap group for not showcasing their works.

I have made a crafty start to the new year (with out resolution which seems to be the kiss of death to any good intention). Our monthly regular swap for 2015 is 6x4 postcard made with a specified Gelli plate technique. So far so good because January was a basic additive technique - even I can cope with that...

I brayered a layer of cream to start with and then added:
 - sponged blue paint on a stencil and pressed 1st and 2nd generation prints onto the plate
 - dabbed red paint onto plastic canvas using my finger and made random blots onto the plate

Once I had pulled the print and let it dry I added some text stamping to the most open areas on the print.

I'm looking forward to February too because we are subtracting and that is my favorite technique for backgrounds. After that I fear I might be outside my comfort zone but nothing ventured as they say.