I'm travelling into a new way of working, a new country, a new language, and a new hobby which I'm passionate about. Come with me for some of the journey...

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

What you love... or Etched Branches I

Hello all!  I'm here with the first of a couple of nature pages in my small journalling book (see Away She Went... for the details if you want them).   Both spreads use the Etched Branches stamp by Penny Black, but I think you get a quite different look in each one.  We're enjoying an Indian Summer here in Columbus, Ohio, so here's probably the last of the summery meadows for this year...  (The set of pages still to come is definitely heading for autumn!)

It's a simple page, but it's very much in tune with the words.  I'm still working on it being okay that I tend towards similar themes and colour palettes very often, not to mention favourite techniques and products... the things which make me happy when I'm creating.

I hope that it's not about being repetitive, but about recognising what feels like "me" when I make something.  I hope that it's about expressing something inside me which wants to come out in those ideas and colours.

I know quite well that this year, when I've had relatively little time for crafting (and usually on the move, as you all know), I'm even more inclined to use the time I have in ways which make me happy rather than trying to push myself in other directions.

In any case, here we are amidst the wild meadow grasses again... 

There are some delicate Distress Inks in the background, spritzed with water for soft texture.  I think it's mainly Old Paper, Weathered Wood and Antique Linen.

The Etched Branches are stamped in Olive Archival...

(It's all looking rather bleak and wintry at the moment, but things are about to change with some more inking around the edges.)

... as is the Cow Parsley (or Queen Anne's Lace if you prefer the posher version!) from Tim Holtz's Wildflower set.

I used a white pen to add detail to the flower heads as well, of course, as some white paint spatter to add the impression of a summer's day with pollen and haze in the air (better enjoyed on the journalling page than in real life if you're a hayfever sufferer as I have been for much of my life).

The words are from one of my Donna Downey sets by Unity.  I brought a grab bag of them with me, so I'm not sure which particular set these are from.

Simple pages, but they make my heart happy.  I hope they do the same for you.

There'll be some more seasonal nature pages along soon, and if I can get my devices to cooperate with one another I hope to share some pictures of the beautiful set we have for my production of Romeo and Juliet.  Talk about favourite things... watch out for crackle and splatter on a huge scale!

Thanks so much for stopping by today, and I'll see you again soon.

Little things seem nothing, but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odourless but all together perfume the air.
Georges Bernanos

In a meadow full of flowers, you cannot walk through and breathe those smells and see all those colors and remain angry. We have to support the beauty, the poetry, of life.
Jonas Mekas

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Away she went...

Hello all, it's lovely to have you stop by.  I'm here with some journalling pages today, in a very small journal.  You may remember that when I shared my Rainbow Wheels experiments, I said I'd be back with some more fun and games using Andrea Ockey Parr's brilliant stamp set - one of my purchases here in the US.  Well, I'm here to make good on that promise.

I was inspired by the wonderful Corrie at Made by Chook to get one of the small Moleskine sketchbooks to play in.  The book is 5x3 inches, so a double page spread is 6x5 inches - a lovely size to play in, especially when travelling.

The stamps may not be in my usual vein, but something about them really appealed to me, not least some of the words.

Since this whole crafty venture is an ongoing journey, I think it's always good to explore a little way off the beaten track.

You'll notice the colours are still very much on the usual track though, and I had a lovely time creating these pages.  There aren't any making-of photos, I'm afraid... I was just playing and got lost in the process.

I started with a bit of wrinkle-free distress straight onto the pages.  I think Stormy Sky, Pumice Stone and maybe Weathered Wood were involved - and perhaps some Faded Jeans.  I'm not quite sure any longer.

The circle stems are embossed in Vanilla White, so I was able to play with my watercolour paints as well as Distress Inks to add extra colour and shading to them without them losing any presence.

I've also used some of the background texture stamps from the set too.

There's a sequin waste affair which you can see in action around the edges.

And there are also lots of lovely tiny splatter and droplet stamps which are great for adding extra detail and depth.

Of course I did some actual splattering too!

The quote (also from the same set - available on Etsy here) couldn't be more apt - for these pages, and for my travelling life this year...

"Away she went with her paints" - well, yes, that pretty much sums it up!

Working in this small size means you can get a page spread done pretty quickly, so I'll be back before long to share some more of my travelling craftwork.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and I hope to see you again soon, either here or elsewhere in Craftyblogland.

If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, by all means paint and then that voice will be silenced.
Vincent Van Gogh

I'd like to share these pages at the Creative Artiste Mixed Media Challenge Blog where the theme is Anything Mixed Media Goes

Friday, 7 October 2016

The Patchwork Poisoner

Hello all, and a warm welcome to a slightly spine-chilling post!

Blogposts are few and far between here at the moment, but what better reason to put in an appearance than a new challenge starting at A Vintage Journey.  The brilliant Anne is our host for October and she would like us to Make It Spooky.

I picked up an 8x8 Regions Beyond paper pad on sale at Michael's as well as a small set of Tim Holtz Halloween stamps, so fortunately I was able to join in with the spookiness.

And really this tag is all about the story (though there are a few making-of details right at the end if you're interested).

As I cut and layered my patchwork collage of ephemera, the story of the Patchwork Poisoner wove itself out of my imagination and into the tag... read on if you dare!

This rather formidable looking woman is Lilian Grace Brewer.  Well, as far as anyone can tell that was her original name.  As you will hear, she was married many times, and often changed her first names too, so it's hard to know for sure.

We would know nothing at all of Brewer and her history were it not for the efforts of one John Franklin Whitlock, a journalist for the Cincinnati Enquirer, who, in 1907, noticed a curious coincidental pattern in the reporting of some deaths stretching back over a number of decades;  deaths which, until then, had not been linked in any way.

The murders were geographically remote from one another.  In some cases, poison was confirmed as the cause of death - though different poisons were used in each incident.

Since poisoners tend to stick to a preferred poison, this varying use of substances - as well as a lack of communication between officers of the law in different states and substantial time delays between the deaths - meant nobody made any connection between them.

Some deaths were not even regarded as suspicious until Whitlock's investigations resulted in a series of exhumations - more than seven - taking place from Ohio via Illinois all the way to North Dakota, confirming poisons ranging from Carbolic Acid to Formaldehyde as the causes of death in each of these unfortunate gentlemen.

The thing which first caught Whitlock's attention in two or three reports he happened upon, was the mention of the bodies - all those of moderately prosperous, middle-aged men - being found laid out peacefully in their beds, warmly wrapped in what were clearly newly completed patchwork quilts of beautifully intricate design.

As he dug further into this curious coincidence, he started to uncover evidence of a decades-long murder spree by one woman - Lilian Grace Brewer.

He was able gradually to piece together her modus operadi, and in the resulting newspaper story - an exclusive for the Cincinnati Enquirer which was later syndicated nationwide - he dubbed her "The Patchwork Poisoner".

Lilian Grace Brewer would arrive unobtrusively in a small but prosperous town to take up a post as a teacher or librarian, or sometimes - in a more direct approach - as the governess in the household of a widower.

Before long, her calm demeanour and upright character would attract the attention of a lonely older gentleman, and a quiet wedding would take place.

That wedding certificate would also serve as the death warrant for the unfortunate man.  Once married, Lilian would begin sewing her patchwork quilt and, as she gathered her fabric swatches she would also be gathering sufficient supplies of whatever poisonous toxin she had decided to use in this case.

Upon completion of the patchwork - which might be a work of months or sometimes even years - she would deploy her poisons, tuck her husband securely in his bed under the quilted work of art, and leave the town as quietly as she had arrived.

If John Franklin Whitlock's evidence is to be believed, she carried out this pattern of behaviour at least a dozen times over nearly three decades, and possibly even more often than that.  As far as he could discover, she never benefited financially from the killings.  By the time probate was proven, Lilian Grace Brewer - or whatever name she was going by at the time - was long gone.

We can only assume that she found some sort of satisfaction in her patchwork poisonings.

Perhaps she selected her victims deliberately because she felt they deserved their fate for some reason.

What it was which made her adorn each body with a patchwork quilt of reportedly exquisite design will remain forever a mystery.  In one form or another, she was an artist, and this was her work.

So that there's not too much mystery about this tag, here are a couple of details.  I've used the Tim Holtz Autumn stencil in the background layers, and the fluffy white "cobweb" is made of my tumble-dryer softening sheets after they've been through the cycle.  (I've no choice about tumble-drying, I'm afraid... I'm in a hotel with nowhere to hang the clothes up!)

The advertisements, photo and labels in my patchwork collage are all from the Regions Beyond paper pad, and the textured black paper which forms the frame and the topping came as the wrapping around the fragranced candles I bought to make the hotel room a little cosier.

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  If you want some more Halloween inspiration, do hop over to A Vintage Journey and see what my fabulous team-mates have been creating.  We hope you will come and Make It Spooky with us this month!

Belladonna (noun): In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison.  A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.
Ambrose Bierce

I see poisoners—so calculating, so cold-blooded—as most like the villains of our horror stories. They’re closer to that lurking monster in the closet than some drug-impaired crazy with a gun. I don’t mean to dismiss the latter—both can achieve the same awful results. But the scarier killer is the one who thoughtfully plans his murder ahead, tricks a friend, wife, lover into swallowing something that will dissolve tissue, blister skin, twist the muscles with convulsions, knows all that will happen and does it anyway.
From The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum

I'd like to enter this in the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge where the theme this week is Halloween

NB All names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of my own fevered imagination or are used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.  I really hope there's nobody resembling my Patchwork Poisoner out there...

Friday, 30 September 2016

Believe that you can...

Hello all!  It's Tag Friday over at A Vintage Journey - that lovely extra Friday in the month when the Creative Guides get to come out and play.  Anything goes, as long as it's on a tag.

As you've probably worked out by now, my travelling stash has plenty of blues and browns and book pages, but I also decided to bring some as yet un-inked stamps (as well as a few favourites) so that I would be forced to finally bring them into play.

So this tag has my first inking of one of Dina Wakley's faces.  I have them in a mini version which I got on sale when I was in New York earlier this year, so I suppose it's only right that I should play with them back here in the US again.

Apart from the new stamp, it's pretty much business as usual!

There's an inky background, made by smooshing the tag onto some inks on the craft mat.  Then I added one of my new favourite stamps (having inked it up for the first time for my Come What May pages), these lovely branches by Memory Box.

I couldn't resist adding some swirling threads courtesy of my (also previously un-inked before this trip) 49 and Market stamps.  They give extra detail and movement to the background.

The Wakley woman is stamped onto a piece of torn book page which had already been gesso'd and inked.

I used a water brush to remove some of the inky blotches from her face so that she didn't look too diseased!

The words are a Unity stamp, embossed in Bark, a lovely rich dark brown.  As regulars here know, I like giving my words that extra touch of dimension and gloss to catch the eye.

The woman is layered up over some more book page scraps (some tea-stained) and ephemera.

I used an Idea-ology Nailhead for some metal detailing to "fasten" the twine.  I've got limited metal embellishments with me, but I couldn't bear to travel without any at all.

Some inky, distressed Linen Ribbon finishes the whole thing off.

Oh, and there's some painty splatter of course.

While I'm here, I thought I'd share a few more shots of what I'm travelling with stash-wise... just for the curious types, you know.

Stamps, stencils and ephemera (you can probably see the Photobooth packet) line up against the wall.  An art journal lies in front, along with the watercolour paints you saw in action in my Rainbow Wheels.

The Golden tubs I bought when I got here, and I've found an adoptive parent who will take them when I leave (my costume designer on Romeo and Juliet).

The media accessory bag has Archival inks, embossing powders, some tissue tapes and various embellishing odds and sods in it.

I also picked up some paints, crackle and glue at Michaels with a coupon - I've yet to decide whether I try to bring them home in a month or so (the airline website seems to be pretty sniffy about travelling with paint, even in hold luggage) or leave them to a happy home here.

No prizes for guessing which mini Distress Inks made the cut...

There's also a small brown paper bag with some ribbons and metal embellishments in it, but I don't seem to have a photo of that.

It's perfectly possible to make a nice crafty mess with what I have, though I have to make sure I clean up after myself properly (I don't think the hotel staff would be very impressed otherwise).

I know it's not the smallest of travelling stashes, but who needs clothes in the suitcase?!

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  Do hop over to A Vintage Journey to see what my fabulous team-mates have been getting up to with their tag playtime... it's definitely worth the trip!

To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.
Anatole France

Believe you can and you're halfway there.
Theodore Roosevelt