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...

Friday, 12 February 2016

Head in a book...

Hello everyone!  I was so thrilled to be chosen as the Design Winner for the Craft Stamper Take It and Make It December challenge.  There's already been a feature on the Craft Stamper blog (Q&A here if you're interested) and I'm so excited that my Christmas Story Book will be published in the magazine.  And as if that weren't enough, I'm also very honoured today to be offering up some inspiration for the new TIMI theme - Text Me! - which is to use a text background, some script stamping or some text paper on your project.

Given my winning piece took the form of an altered book cover, I thought this time I would dive inside a book, so here are my journalling pages in an old unwanted hardback book.  I was one of those children accused of always having my head in a book.  Well, now I've found a new way to have a head in a book!

I made this around the same time as my Hidden in a Book creation for the PaperArtsy round-ups just before Christmas... I was on a roll with the whole book niches thing I think!

There's a shimmer of gold across the whole page spread, which makes it tricky to photograph of course.  It's created with a combination of DecoArt Media Fluid in Metallic Gold and Treasure Gold gilding wax in White Fire.

For this niche, we have another PaperArtsy image - this time a Lynne Perrella stamp, adorned with gilded hair ornaments.  As I did with the last one, I stamped the image on tissue paper in order to get it inside my carved niche.

It really helps to move the thing around in different lights to show the effects - but I've still not progressed to videos, so you'll have to make do with extra photos as usual!

The gilding wax is great at picking out the texture of the Crackle Paint Harlequins which dance across the page.

Obviously, we have my favourite blue and brown combination at the heart of it all.  This time I created the soft blended colours of the first layer with Fresco paints.

I like to work with watery washes and some paper towel/baby wipes standing by, so that I can apply paint and wipe back repeatedly until I'm happy with what I've got.

Next I added some heavy gesso with a palette knife for some extra texture...

... before heading in with some darker tones of both paint and sprays...

... always making sure not to neglect the interior of the niche.  It would be no good keeping that pristine - you need some depth behind the tissue paper to come.

Wanting some highlights, I started out with pure DecoArt Metallic Gold, but the tone was a little too brassy for my liking with this particular colour combination.

So I began to apply White Fire Treasure Gold over it, and again played around until it looked okay to me.

In addition to the LP image, I stamped some Hot Picks branches as well as a PaperArtsy Mini of some medieval calligraphy.

The sentiment is from Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken, a poem I've loved for as long as I can remember... so it's lovely to have it available as a stamp in one of the PaperArtsy Urban Snapshots Nature plates.

Some white splatter?  Don't mind if I do, thank you very much.  I never tire of how it seems to add life and depth to a piece.

I'm really happy with the textures and the overall atmosphere of the pages.

And despite all the paint and alterations, I promise there are still places where you can see the text paper underneath.

I hope you'll be inspired to play along at Craft Stamper this month.  There's more inspiration over at the Craft Stamper blog, of course, where the amazing team have been in action.

For now, I'd like to say a huge thank you to them and to Trish for this fantastic opportunity, and I'll wish you all a wonderful weekend.

When a book and a head collide and a hollow sound is heard, must it always have come from the book?
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Monday, 8 February 2016

What are you capable of?

Hello all!  I'm hoping you're capable of at least a bit of hopping.  I'm over at the Country View Crafts Projects blog today with some art journalling.  It's nothing radical - just a bit of playful exploring without any particular agenda in mind.

I'm not entirely sure about the results.  From a distance it does look like the last stages of recovery of a rather impressive bruise, but I do love the close-up paint and ink effects.  Why not hop over and see what you think...

Hope you have a lovely week everybody!

Ability is what you're capable of doing.  Motivation determines what you do.  Attitude determines how well you do it.
Lou Holtz (American Football coach)

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems.
Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, 5 February 2016

Imagine Simplicity

Hello all!  I've taken a turn for the simple today...

I've been aware for some time that there's a big difference between the multi-layered, mixed media, busy creations I seem to make most of the time, and the simplicity and minimalism of the things I actually like to have around me or that are, for instance, pinned to my "beautiful things" or "how do I want to live" boards on Pinterest.

I love the creative extravagance of all the mediums and paints and textures, but I think at some point there will be a journey for me to take exploring simplicity.

A little touch of that reared its head this week as this tag formed itself on my craft table.

Ironically, it arises out of a very full-on piece on which I used some of these lovely natural sprays of dried wild grasses for the first time.  (You won't see that for a week or so yet, I'm afraid, but keep an eye out at Calico Craft Parts!)

Since they were sitting on the table, and since I'd adored how they looked on the other project, I found myself wanting to use them again.

It was a short step to one of my all-time favourite Tim Holtz stamps, and the background is a piece of Tim Holtz paper (I think from French Industrial).

At this stage, my brain was thinking, "Ooh, well, I could add some stencilled texture paste in the background, and ink around everything, maybe layer in some inky stencilling and stamping,", and I had to be quite firm about replying that actually I really liked it just as it was!

In the end I did alter the paper just slightly with a touch of gesso and then a tiny bit of additional text stamping in Pumice Stone because the gesso had obscured too much of the original script.  I could have left out those two steps altogether!

Some gesso'd book page butterflies hover around...

... and the Game Spinners which form their bodies give a simple metallic echo of the word band below.

I'm doing a lot of envisioning at the moment of how I'd like to shape the next stages of my life, so this word band is a useful bit of encouragement, and the torn gesso'd book page just makes it pop a little to catch your attention.

Simplicity rules for the topping too - some crinkle ribbon, lightly spritzed, and tied with fine twine and all is done.

Of course there is white splatter - seems I can barely do without it these days - but even that is done in a very minimal way.  Still, it does seem somehow to bring things to life.

Some Hildegard von Bingen playing in the background, this tag coming in to being on my craft table, and some gentle sunlight breaking through the clouds... simple things which make me very happy.

Thanks so much for stopping by today, and I wish you all a weekend of things which make you happy.

Simplify, then add lightness.
Colin Chapman

It's minimalist rather than messy, but the splatter plays a big role here, so I would like to enter this in the Splatter, Spritz and Smoosh challenge at Stamps and Stencils.  I expect I'll be back with something altogether messier later in the month!

Monday, 1 February 2016

Full of Possibilities

Hello all, and welcome to February!  February?  Yup, I'm afraid so...  I know, don't ask me where January went.  I feel as though I barely saw it.

We're starting the month with double trouble.  I've a project for you here as well as one over at Calico Craft Parts... yes, it's a stop AND a hop!

First of all, there's a new theme for you at Country View Challenges and the fantastic Sue would like you to Make Your Own Backgrounds.

Well, there's a challenge that's full of possibilities...

It's rare that I don't make my own backgrounds, and very often the background is my favourite part - whether of my own or of other people's projects - so I'm very happy to put the background centre stage!

Of course there's lots of inspiration from my lovely team mates today, and more throughout the month at Country View Challenges, and for my first offering I've gone with one of my all-time favourite inky background techniques - the good old wrinkle free distress technique.

I love the delight of different colour combinations, the relative lack of control, the infinite variety of results.  Over my blues and greens I stencilled some Picket Fence Distress Paint through the Lattice stencil, and decided that was my background done!

Umbrella Man seems to come out at transitional times for me.  There's something in his demeanour which seems to hold many emotions.  I've known him look back in wistfulness, but he can also look forward with both trepidation and hope.

In a couple of weeks, I'm setting off on another travel adventure with work, and I'm definitely in that "getting ready for take-off" mode of fluttering butterfly attention - finding it very hard to sit down and focus - I feel there's always something I should be doing somewhere else at the same time.

And there's always uncertainty when you work with a new company, and here I'm diving in with a well-established group.  How will it all work out?  We'll all be spending many hours together in a pretty pressurised environment.  And that's intensified when you're a long way from home.

At the same time, it's a real adventure - we're going to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, and then I'll be back in the fabulous New York City for six weeks (I know!!) - so it really is full of possibilities and excitement.

I'll definitely be staying curious and trying to make the most of any spare time I have from the theatre.  I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity for such adventures, so there's some upbeat scribbling around too...

(I just wanted to say I'm rather taken with how the Picket Fence Distress Paint stencilling gives some extra patterning even under the Archival stamping.)

In any case, both Umbrella Man and the Small Talk stickers are pretty much on the money with where I'm at at the moment - some trepidation but a great deal of excited anticipation too.

I hope you'll be inspired to come and Make Your Own Background with us at Country View Challenges.  As always there's more inspiration over at the blog today and throughout the month, and there's a prize voucher from our sponsor Country View Crafts to be won, so do come and play along.

But don't go yet... as I mentioned, I've a hop for you too today.  If you'd like a bit more inspiration from me, I've been making a completely different kind of background over at Calico Craft Parts.

This background started with tissue tape and went all the way to antique crackle, so do hop over and check out my Steampunk ATCs too, if you have the time.  Happy Crafting and Happy February all!

We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realise.
Thich Nhat Hanh

Calico Cogs

Hello all!  A quick one tonight, as I'll be back in the morning...  Just a sneak peek to try to tempt you over to the Calico Craft Parts blog where I've been playing with some cogs.

There's a weathered and worn look to my Steampunk ATCs which I rather like.  I hope you'll have time to hop over and check them out.  I'll love you and leave you for now but, as I said, I'm going to be back before you know it.  Happy February everybody!

Colours must fit together as pieces in a puzzle or cogs in a wheel.
Hans Hofmann

To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.
Aldo Leopold

If you don't mind going over to Calico to see the full project, I'd love to enter these...

In the ATC Challenge at That's Crafty Challenge Blog
And at Sandee and amelie's Steampunk Challenges, where it's Anything Goes - Steampunk/Industrial
And at Love to Create they're playing the usual Anything Creative/Mixed Media Goes, so I'd love to play there too
And at Scrapki-Wyzwaniowo they are looking for Masculine Projects - I hope with all the cogs and gears, these will fit

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Flutter by...

Hello all.  I'm glad you enjoyed the colourful hop-out-of-kin of my Be Brave tag for Tag Friday!  It's just a quick sneak peek here today at Words and Pictures so, although it's lovely to see you, I'm going to invite you to flutter on by towards the Country View Crafts Projects blog...

... and your trouble will be rewarded by some butterflies!  I hope you have time to flutter by and see what I've been up to, and I hope you're all having a lovely Sunday.  See you again very soon!

Not quite birds, as they were not quite flowers, mysterious and fascinating as are all indeterminate creatures.
Elizabeth Goudge

Friday, 29 January 2016

Be Brave

Hello everybody.  It's lovely to see you again in a busy week here at Words and Pictures.  I'm glad you enjoyed my altered vintage bottles.

I'm here today because it's Tag Friday over at A Vintage Journey - that extra Friday in a month which means that the Creative Guides just get out their tags and play.  There are some amazing tags by my fabulous fellow Creative Guides for you to enjoy over at the Tag Friday post at A Vintage Journey - well worth a few minutes of your time during a coffee break some time today.

Tag Friday is always a favourite for me.  Usually I use it as an excuse to just play with my favourite inks and stamps, but this time I've used it to be brave with a different colour palette.

With this layered tag, I've definitely been influenced by some of the fabulous Polish crafters I follow - check out JaMajka, Dorota, or Ewa at Cynkowe Poletko (Zinc Plot) as well as the Russian, Elena Morgun.

If you've never seen their work, you're in for a treat.  I would blame my Eastern European (Czech) heritage for loving all these Polish crafters (and there are more...) but I think it's just that they make very beautiful things!

But really the major influence on this particular tag is another Pole -  Czekoczyna a.k.a. Kasia Krzyminska, whose work I've admired for a long time.

It's unsurprising she should be an influence at the moment, given that she's co-ordinating the Wanderlust 2016 course which I'm very much enjoying when I get the time.  She's also teaching some of the classes.

Of course, it's not unheard of for me to use these kinds of colours (check out this tag in a bag if you don't believe me - and there have been other occasions too), so it's actually the use of the black which feels more iconoclastic to me...

In terms of texture, layers and composition, I guess it's still me though.

I started with some papers from the Tim Holtz Vintage Shabby stack (no longer around, sadly).  One of my resolutions is to use some of my hoarded paper stash, so I'm trying to be good.

I applied Ranger Transparent Matte texture paste through the Burlap Layering Stencil.

Once that was dry, I gesso'd lightly over the whole thing and started adding some inky colour (Spiced Marmalade and Picked Raspberry mainly) by unscrewing the Distress Spray lids and scribbling with the ends of the spray hoses.

Sometimes I spritzed with water for softer colour, and sometimes I dried it so that the scribbles would be nice and bold.  Scribbling was one of the things I found I loved when making my Wanderlust Travel Journal, so you can expect to see more of it round here I think.

The photo is, of course, one of the Idea-ology Photobooth pictures.

The determined gleam in her eye dictated the words chosen from the Small Talk stickers.

And it was when I had those black word stickers that I decided to be braver myself and add some more black detailing.

So I used my favourite alphabet stamp from the Documented set and stamped it in Jet Black Archival.  And I did some spritzing with the Black Soot Distress Marker too.  (I think that's a Prima screw head at the top of the smaller tag, just in case you're interested.)

It's really very rare for me to stamp in black... I'm almost always a brown stamper (Coffee, Sepia or Potting Soil? - that's usually the main question).  Or sometimes I'll push the boat out with Olive, Cobalt or Watering Can.  But black is scary - even in these tiny amounts!

Once that was there, though, I felt brave enough to skim the shabbied edges of the tags too - and I do quite like the bolder grungy look it gives.

There are some Idea-ology flowers with added skeleton leaves tucked in around the place.

And I added some wisps of cheesecloth - some before inking and some after...

... so some of them are inkily colourful, and others wisp delicately away in white.

... and of course there's some dyed crinkle ribbon to top the whole thing off.

So, there you have it... A Vintage Journey's Tag Friday - sometimes an excuse to play in my comfort zone, but today a chance to push the boundaries of that zone a little wider.  I'd love to know what you think.

I'm back once more before we wave goodbye to January but, in the meantime, have a wonderful weekend whatever you're up to.

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak.  Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
Winston Churchill

Be brave enough to live life creatively.  The creative place where no one else has ever been.
Alan Alda