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...

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Encore - Inevitable dusk

Encore Posts
Projects which made their first appearances elsewhere for Design Team duties or Guest Designer opportunities, but which only had a sneak peek here, are being gathered together in the pages of my virtual scrapbook while I'm away.  Please don't feel that you have to comment all over again!

Hello all!  I've just arrived back in the UK, and there's lots of unpacking and unopened post to be dealt with before I can settle down at the craft table, so in the meantime here's another little encore or two for you.  After the farewell to Country View Crafts, let's enter the sombre tones of the Inevitable Dusk!  These pages were created for The Artistic Stamper in June 2013 (that's almost three years ago - good grief, Charlie Brown!) and here's what I wrote back then.

Hello all, I'm here today with something that - for me - is a little different.  In fact, when I saw the new Artistic Stamper texture stamps, I wasn't sure that they were for me - very geometric - but I thought I should stretch myself.  And I have to say, I had huge fun layering them up to create the background textures in these pages.

There are some things I'm really pleased with about this, and some that I might do differently another time...  I really like the texture on the main brother and sister image.  

I mixed some drops of Chipped Sapphire and Salty Ocean re-inkers into texture paste on my craft mat, and then smeared it through Andy Skinner's brilliant Children mask.  I'm also really pleased with the highlighting, done with white acrylic paint, and some pencilling.  And I made sure to give them some solid "ground" to stand on.

I started out by gessoing some pages in my Concise Encyclopaedia (same book as my previous layout) and used Dylusions sprays to lay down the first layer of colour.

I started to layer in the texture stamps using Archival inks, Distress Inks, Distress Paints and Picket Fence Distress Stain.

It was at this point that I forgot to take any more process photos - sorry! - but I'm really pleased with the effects of layering the products.  

You get some resist effects from the paints, so there are areas of translucence and great textures.  

Obviously there's some inking for definition of the resist and shading at the edges of the pages, as well as to create the twilight path for the siblings.  The quote is by Susan Scarf Merrell.  

It's stamped onto watercolour paper and inked with Chipped Sapphire.  

Certain words got a touch of Salty Ocean too to highlight them. 

As with some of the background chevrons, I used a white pencil to add some texture and help embed the words into the page.  

I'm also really happy with the twilit path leading to the smaller sibling pair, travelling off to who-knows-where... 

... though I'm not sure I didn't go a layer too far with the pair themselves.  I liked them better one step earlier - but I haven't got a photo of that, so you'll just never know!

So there you have it... To me it feels as though it has a different flavour from normal, but I don't know.  Is it typically "butterfly" after all?  I'm curious to know what you think!

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by, and I'll see you soon.

So there you have it.  Actually, my question still stands about whether this is "typically butterfly" or not.  I think I would probably do the wording differently these days... those white panels seem a bit stark against the softer tones of the background, but I know I was thinking of echoing the white highlighting.  And I'm still not sure that chevrons are really "me"!  Ah well, it's all part of the learning curve, isn't it?  I hope you're all well, and I'll be back with something new for you in a few days.

Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk.
Susan Scarf Merrell

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Saying Goodbye...

Hello all.  I'm here with mixed feelings today... It's with a sad heart that I am saying farewell to my fellow team members at Country View Crafts - both the Challenge site and the Projects blog.  Life has simply become too busy and complicated to be able to give the DT work the attention it deserves.

On the other hand, I'm deeply sensible of the privilege and excitement of the work and travel still to come in this adventurous year, so I really can't complain.  If you hop over to the Country View Crafts Projects blog to take a look at my farewell journalling pages, I think you'll get that sense of positive anticipation.

It's been fantastic seeing the amazing projects entered into the challenges each month and, as always, I'm deeply grateful for all your wonderful support and comments both on the CVC blogs and here.  I know I've been pretty absent from Craftyblogland lately, but that doesn't mean I don't read every single one with great pleasure.

You'll see from the sneak peek that there's a favourite film star of mine involved in the pages, and I hope you'll be able to hop over to see the rest, but for today I'll leave her with the last word (and if you want to hear how it should be delivered, it's right here - at the one minute mark if you don't want to watch the whole clip, but I do recommend it!).

"You're Norma Desmond.  You used to be in silent pictures.  You used to be big."
"I am big.  It's the pictures that got small."
From Sunset Boulevard by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Spring in my Step

There's certainly a spring in my step - I'm making the most of my last week in New York City, walking everywhere, exploring and savouring.  Spring is in full swing in this city, and the bright green leaves and blossoms line the streets as well as filling the parks.  So it's high time for some more springtime inspiration from me for Monika's lovely Spring theme at Country View Challenges.

I made these long ago, before my trip to China, and I think I was still on the "backgrounds" kick from the month before, as that's definitely my favourite thing about these two springtime tags!

In another boost to my not-resolution to make sure I use the hoarded stash crowding my craft space, I've finally inked up the gorgeous floral background stamp from the Dots and Floral set.

While I was at it, I tried it two different ways...

First of all, I did some wrinkle-free distress technique using Distress Paints.  I think there's Antique Linen, Mowed Lawn and Broken China on the mat here.

And here are the scrumptious results of repeated smooshing, spritzing, drying and dabbing.

Then on one I tried to stamp the florals in white pigment ink, but had my usual fail as far as that goes (just never enough coverage for my liking, but I'm always hopeful)...

.... so I quickly grabbed some Vanilla White embossing powder and slung that over the still wet ink.

There's more texture than there would have been with just ink, so I'm happy with that.  The florals stamp is for the "negative space", so my blossoms are revealed with the lovely paints underneath.

Then for the second tag I thought I'd go for a version where the negative space was darker than the blossoms, and preferably sky-coloured.

So I used Archival French Ultramarine, and I think the results are really pretty.  And pretty is fine by me in spring... that's what spring should be!

So there were my backgrounds, and I was really happy with them - and slightly reluctant to cover them up very much.

I dug out a couple of wooden hearts, part of a set picked up in the Christmas sale at The Range...

... and grabbed some deliciously delicate pre-cut spring flowers.

Now this is more hoard-clearing, so I can't be certain any longer where I got them from, but they make me happy!

There are also some lace and torn book page fragments from the stash (somehow, it's not getting any emptier in the craft room though).

And lace and twine toppers too...

And what would springtime be without some butterflies?

I used the Tim Holtz punch to make these, and they're ready to flutter away fearlessly, living in the moment... 

... as recommended by the Small Talk stickers of course!

I hope you like this pair of tags, and that you'll be inspired to come and play along at Country View Challenges.  You've got just a few days left, and we'd love to see your Spring creations.  Happy Crafting all!

It's spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!
From Tom Sawyer, Detective by Mark Twain

I'd like to enter these tags in Anything Spring at the Southern Ridge Trading Company
And the Love To Create Challenge Blog is looking for Anything Creative/Mixed Media as usual

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Encore - I am...

Encore Posts
Projects which made their first appearances elsewhere for Design Team duties or Guest Designer opportunities, but which only had a sneak peek here, are being gathered together in the pages of my virtual scrapbook while I'm away.  Please don't feel that you have to comment all over again!

Okay, I said we had lots of new things in a row - I'm glad you enjoyed my Trash to Treasure guest spot for Stamps & Stencils, and there is another new project up next - but I decided to squeeze in an extra Encore for fun.  As the page says, "I am..."

Well, "I am..." celebrating my birthday today in New York - and I've had a wonderful time visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Garden where the Cherry Blossoms were just hitting their peak.

There's also a huge collection of lilacs, which have always been my birthday flower, so I was pretty much in heaven - and here are just a couple of quick glimpses for you.

There's just a week left to go in my stay here, so it seemed appropriate to share this page which began its life in New York when I was working here in 2014.  Here's what I wrote when I posted it at the Artistic Stamper Creative Blog in November of that year...

Hello all, Alison (butterfly) here with a journal page for you today.

This one started a while back when I was in New York with only limited supplies.  I got as far as having all the texture in place and a sharp monochromatic look.  But then it got a bit stuck, wondering where to go next.

Then the new Distress Stain Sprays appeared, and suddenly the game was on!  Faded Jeans and Vintage Photo and we're away.  I'll show you some close-ups of my favourite bits as I let you in on the steps I took to get here.

I started with strips of tissue tape across the page and added crackle paste in various areas.

I spread it quite thinly so that the crackle would be very fine.

The large heart was created with a hand-torn stencil shape, through which I first spread texture paste and then added a coat of crackle once that was dry.  I wanted a really thick, dimensional look, and that's what I got.

I embedded the pen nibs before the crackle heart had set, so no need for glue.

This was the point at which things ground to a halt.  However, once I knew there was spraying in the offing I gave the whole thing a wash of Fresco paint in Chalk.  It's part of one of the JOFY Limited Edition sets.  As well as muting the tape, it gives a lovely warm base colour.

In order to really add depth to the crackles of the heart, I splodged Black Soot Distress Stain over it, then wiped it back, leaving it just in the cracks.  Then I let loose with the two chosen Distress Stain Sprays.  It's such a delight finally to have sprays in the Distress colours without having to tip my Distress Stains into spritzers.  Perfectly possible, yes, but fiddly and always with the risk I'd knock the lidless stain over and lose it all!!

I added some of the fabulous Katy Leitch splodges and blots from the Messy Art plate, stamped in Coffee Archival.

And I used the I am... stamp from the Journalling Words #5 set on a Chalk-washed tag also stamped in Coffee Archival.

It wasn't quite popping enough, so I drew around the edges with a PITT pen and used an embossing ink pen to fill in the letters, followed by clear embossing powder to give it a hint of shine.

As you can see, I also used Treasure Gold to add a touch of warmth and glamour.  It also helps to highlight all that texture.

So there you have it.  I am... rather happy with this one.  It pleases me, and I'm looking forward to lots more Distress spritzing!

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  It's always lovely to hear what you think.

I hope you're having a lovely Sunday, whatever you're up to, and I wish you all a wonderful week.  I'm happy to say I should have plenty of spare time to enjoy my last week in New York - many things on my to-do list, and I'm looking forward to them all.  See you soon!

I am happy being what I am.
Paul Theroux

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Trash to Industrial Treasure

Hello all!  I hope you had a good time wandering around Central Park with me - the blossom and leaves are even better now, so I'll have to get some more photos at some point.  But now on to a new project...  I'm excited and very honoured to be a guest over at Stamps and Stencils today.  I'm a huge fan of the challenge and the brilliant Design Team there, and I was thrilled when they picked my Flourishing Florals as their Splatter, Spritz and Smoosh winner.

That piece was about as "girly" as I get - full of flowers and flourishes.  It wasn't a conscious decision, but my guest creation for Autumn's wonderful Trash to Treasure theme ended up going in almost completely the opposite direction, with a masculine industrial look.

There are some basic making-of details over at Stamps and Stencils, so I won't bore you with those all over again.  Let me just take you on a quick tour of the Philbric Electric Company.  Oh, and I will let you in on the secrets of the trash which I've turned to (I hope) treasure.

It started with me grabbing some things from my "bound-to-come-in-useful-bits-and-bobs" basket, where I stash old containers and packaging and other bits and bobs which I haven't been able to bring myself to throw out.

On this occasion, I pulled out the lid of a wooden Camembert box and some used lightbulbs.  I laid them onto a 6x6 canvas and let my imagination go wandering.

I figured the cheese lid would make a good frame for a photo, and I quite quickly decided that it would be more fun with the lid the other way up. Plus it gave me lots of fun surfaces to play on.

With the lightbulbs to guide me, I selected one of the Found Relatives who seemed to have good industrial magnate credentials.

He's Jeremiah Philbric, the founder of the Philbric Electric Company - one of those canny individuals who spotted the immense potential of this new source of power, and invested early.

In the early days he was a hands-on industrialist, driving the company forward and working hard to persuade the public that there was no danger in electrification, showing them how their lives would change if they allowed electric light into their houses.  He became an expert in the art of persuasion and advertisement.

Once electricity had become an accepted part of people's lives, the company diversified... the advertisement puffs off the all the gadgets and contraptions you didn't even know you needed!

But the invention which remains at the heart of the transformation wrought by the development of electricity is the lightbulb... casting light and casting out the shadows.

Jeremiah still remembers his first time watching an electric bulb lighting up - and that excitement means he wants to keep up with all the latest developments.  These days he still keeps an eye on activities in his factories and warehouses...

... but most of the work is now left to his loyal and capable staff.  The whole operation works like clockwork.

That's an electrically powered clock, though, obviously, not an old-fashioned key-wound one!

Jeremiah turned his own life around from humble beginnings to become a respected captain of industry... a sort of turning of "trash to treasure", an echo of the challenge theme which kicked the whole thing off.

I had an absolute ball creating this recycled canvas - and my thanks go to Sue and the team at Stamps and Stencils for inviting me along to play this month.

I hope this has added to the inspiration the DT offered up earlier this month.  If you didn't see them, do check out their amazing projects here.  And don't forget if you want to know more about how I made this, you can find that out over at Stamps and Stencils too.

For now, I'll leave you to rummage in your own bits-and-bobs baskets and maybe you'll be turning some trash to treasure soon.  Happy Crafting all!

Electricity is really just organised lightning.
George Carlin

Soon now, the faint tinkling of a broken filament will become another sound of another century.
From Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light by Jane Brox

I'd like to enter this at Mixed Media Mojo, where they're looking for Recycling with a Twist of Metal
And at Mixed Media World the theme is Get in Gear - plenty of gears here!
And for a mixed media hatrick - the Mixed Media Monthly challenge is Dimension, so I'd like to play along there too
Over at Frilly and Funkie they are celebrating Earth Day with a recycling challenge - It's Not Easy Being Green