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...

Saturday, 1 August 2015

In A Summer Meadow

Hello everyone!  I'm delighted to say that after a sabbatical to give me room to deal with work (for which I'm deeply grateful) I'm back in the swing of things at Country View Challenges.

And it's in at the deep end as I'm your host for the August challenge and my theme for you all is Summertime.  So whatever that word summons up for you, that's what we'd like to see on your projects this month.

My team-mates have created some fabulous inspiration for you, so do hop over and check it out and, as usual, there will be more inspiration coming your way throughout the month over at the Country View Challenges blog.  For now, here's my starter for ten for you.

Yes, I know, it's a card.  They do seem to be putting in more frequent appearances round here... but again, I've somehow got my brain on board by making a very tall, slim card - so it's almost a tag really!

It was made for my closest friend who celebrates a summer birthday, and I took my inspiration from a wonderful day I spent recently with her and her family, wandering through the countryside, and down a lane surrounded by woodland and fields of wild grasses and flowers.

There's a Distress Ink background, and then some stamping with Unity Stamps.

The flowers on the front are mostly stamped in Archival ink, though some are Distress if I remember rightly.

Some are clear embossed.

And the main flowers are stamped in Versamark and embossed with vanilla white embossing powder.

I used the Tim Holtz thinlits word dies to add a thought about the lovely time we had.

On the inside of the card, I've used the feathery grasses again, this time stamped in a combination of Distress Inks.

And the leftover cut-out letters from the kraft card on the front form part of the sentiment for the interior.

I even added some sepia stamping to the envelope (definitely in Archival, as it might get wet going through the post of course).

A simple card reflecting the simple pleasures of a sunny summer's day enjoying nature... I hope you'll hop over and see what my brilliant team-mates have been up to, and we hope you'll come and share your Summertime creations with us at Country View Challenges this month.

Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
Henry James

An' the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
An' the cotton is high
From Summertime, lyrics by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin

And just in case you missed Tag Friday at A Vintage Journey yesterday, you'll find my tag here.  It's been so quiet here lately that I'm not used to posts coming this thick and fast any more.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and I'll see you again before you know it.  Happy Crafting all!

Friday, 31 July 2015

Lost Lives

Hello all, and a very warm welcome to Words and Pictures!

It's Tag Friday at A Vintage Journey today... When there's an extra Friday in the month (which happens more often than I'd've guessed) you get a whole extra array of inspiration from the Creative Guides - all tags and all inspired in one way or another by our guiding light, Tim Holtz.

So do hop over there and check out the goodies on offer, but before you go, here's my offering.

I usually take Tag Friday as an excuse to go back to basics and stick essentially to inks and stamps, but it got just a little bit busier this time because of the story which took over the process.

It has an unexpectedly dark underbelly, so be warned.

I started with a wrinkle-free distress background which was hanging around on the craft table.

I'd been experimenting with some of the new Distress colour releases, and this was a combination of Mermaid Lagoon, Twisted Citron and Hickory Smoke.

As usual, I put so much ink on the mat that I ended up with three tags.

This one was the second one - so had a medium amount of inky distress, which then gained depth with added stamping and ink-blending.  Since those new colours were already in action, that's also what I pretty much stuck to as the tag progressed.

You can see the two I still have waiting to play with... that's for another day.

So what's behind this tag?  Well, it's a combination of things... 

(And from here, feel free to stick to just the pictures if you want, as the words are heading to some dark places.)

I watched the Dispatches documentary Escape from Isis which, while it dealt mainly with the lucky few who are managing to escape across the border from the Daesh territory, couldn't help but leave one sickened and despairing for the thousands upon thousands trapped inside, particularly the women and girls.

They will never get to experience a life which we would call in any way normal - compulsorily veiled so that even their eyes are invisible, and told that their voices must not be heard in public; girls as young as nine sold into marriage at slave markets.  Even should they escape, they will bear the scars - physical and emotional - forever.

I wept and I raged.  I sat wondering what I could possibly do.

And I was blown away by the quiet heroism of the men putting their own lives at risk to give at least some of them a chance of escape.

That all then sort of melded with the conversations I have almost daily with our wonderful 97-year-old neighbour.  Until very recently, she was whizzing along, but now her short-term memory is unreliable, and you tend to go around the same conversational circles.

One of the main loops is around her having no family - largely because of the losses caused by war.  There's the story of her father who died in the Great War, aged 26, never having seen the daughter he'd only read about in a letter.

And then her step-brother (her mother remarried eighteen years later) died in World War II, aged just 18.

Neither of them ever got to discover life.

I suppose they are hovering here in the photo of the young man, as are the men from the documentary who are risking everything to give others a chance to discover life.  But so are all those others - male and female - who will never have the possibility or the freedom to explore life's journey.

The rest of us owe it to them to be fully present and to explore, discover, travel and, I think, also to speak out against injustice and wrongdoing.

If I can do nothing else, I can use my voice to speak, to bear witness, to cry for help for those lost women and girls who cannot be heard themselves.  And I can be mindful that the reason I am free to do that is at least partly thanks to all those lost young men.

If you haven't already run a mile, I do urge you to take a trip over to A Vintage Journey where you'll find lots of Tag Friday joy and inspiration from my fantastic team-mates.

I'll leave you in peace for now, and I'll see you out there soon in Craftyblogland.

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me - and there was nobody left to speak out for me.
Pastor Martin Niemöller

Monday, 27 July 2015

Some light relief...

Hello!  The last post found me in a grey mode and mood, and although I really love the Gently Grey cards which resulted, I thought we could do with a touch of light relief so I'm just here to share, very quickly, another little play I was having with the crazy birds.

In fact, this one started before my Bird Crazy version of Tim's July tag, and I'd already stamped, coloured and used the Micro Glaze on these two before Tim's tag even appeared - so my choice of stamps for that was pretty obvious after all!

Like the ones on my July tag, these are also watercoloured with Distress Stains - splodged onto the craft mat and then applied with a water brush.

And I took a leaf out of Alie Hoogenboezem-de Vries's book (she's been doing wonders with the birds - and here and here - for some time now, and is probably one of the main tempters behind my caving in to them)...

... by adding Glossy Accents to the eyes for an extra goggling look.

I love that the Micro Glaze means you can then blend inks around your main image without affecting it.

As well as straight inking, I added some splotches and blotches with one of the layering stencils...

... and over the top of that I used Tim's great crackle background.

I remember I had some thought about eggs cracking, or some such, but when it came to looking for some words to go on the tag it became evident that my subconscious was way ahead of me!

A little bit of Vintage Photo around the edges, some JOFY grasses for the birds to stand on (as well as some shadows to give them a bit more substance), some twine through the hole, and we're done.

I hope that's put a smile on your face after the grey gloom (though I notice the actual words are probably not that reassuring... see, the truth will out, even in the light relief).

Starting to think I may need a holiday...

I'm interested in people's darker side, the ones that aren't easy and well balanced.  The cracks.
Noomi Rapace

A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.
Bernard Meltzer

Friday, 24 July 2015

Gently Grey

Hello all!  I'm glad you enjoyed peeking through my Brocanterie Window.  Today I've got something to share that I made completely and utterly for no other reason than that I wanted to.  That's become a real rarity here at Words and Pictures lately.

And I may finally have worked out a way for me to make cards... start them as tags!

I was tempted into buying the Tim Holtz flower stamps largely by the beautiful work Jennie at Live the Dream has been doing with them (including one of my favourite tags of all time).

And so I suppose it's no accident that my first play with them echoes her delicate style and colour palette.

It was also my first chance to try out the new Hickory Smoke colour, and I paired it with Pumice Stone and Frayed Burlap.  (I would love to call them shades of grey, but I don't dare to any more.)

What can I say?  I've been feeling a little grey recently (which is at least partly to do with not being able to get to the craft table as often as I'd like), and also the weather keeps returning to a grey drizzle which really doesn't feel very summery... so I think the greys were inside and outside of me, and so they turned up on the craft mat.

I started by gluing some leftover book page pieces to manila tags and painting the whole lot with a wash of white paint.

Then I did some wrinkle-free distressing with the three grey tones.  The result is certainly downbeat, but it gives me great delight.

I stamped the flower stems and heads in Watering Can Archival with a hint of Olive tapped onto the stamps too, and then clear embossed them.

I used Hickory Smoke and Frayed Burlap to watercolour them - plenty of imperfections in terms of extra embossed bits creating a resist as well as extra bubbles of light, but I'm definitely embracing the effect. 

In a brief moment of sunlight I was able to capture the magical effect of the light on the embossing - like faerie dust!

I used the end of the stem to add some extra grass stamping around the base of the flower, as well as stroking some blades of grass into existence using a water brush and some Frayed Burlap Distress Stain from the craft mat.

Taking a deep breath, I snipped off the top edges of the tags, and set about mounting the resulting panels onto cards.  With one of them, I kept it very simple - just distressing the edges and gluing it to a tall, slim piece of folded card.

For the other, I added a couple of extra distressed layers - one of the same card as the base, and one made from one of the Tim Holtz papers that toned in with the flower panel.

And it's a happy accident that such a lovely word turned up right in one corner.

Small Talk stickers next... and once I'd chosen my wordings and stuck them in place, I added shading around them with pastel pencils and with some more Distress Stain.

I created puddled shadows above and below the words by applying soft layers of the Hickory Smoke with a water brush.  It has an almost pinkish tone at times - or at least my bottle does!

And that's really that.  I know that's quite a lot of photos for some simple cards, but the chances are - since they are cards - that they'll disappear in an envelope some time, so this will be my only record of them.

Since they're so delicate in hue, these cards didn't respond well to being photographed in the window of sunshine which appeared.

They prefer to be slightly in the gloom it seems, and so for once most of this photography is done indoors against this lovely music paper.

I hope you like them, and that they don't leave you feeling too grey!  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I'll see you out there somewhere in Craftyblogland.

True strength is delicate.
Louise Nevelson (Russian-born American assemblage artist and sculptor)

In case you haven't heard, the wonderful Sue Carrington had her blog hacked, and it's all gone... I can't even imagine how awful that must be (am now backing up maniacally in the hopes of avoiding complete disaster).  She's started over, so do hop over to the all new Stamping Sue Style and follow or re-follow her brilliant work. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Calico Antiques

Hello all!  As promised, I'm finally here with a project to share... well, a sneak peek at any rate to tempt you over to the Calico Craft Parts blog where I've got a little assemblage piece for you - a little antique shop window, made using one of the many and various Craft Parts shrine kits.

These are so versatile - there are lots of different designs, and you can even order each of them with or without shelves.  And there are some other Craft Parts taking a starring role too.  I hope you'll have time to hop over and take a look at my little antique shop window, and I'm hoping I'll have time to do some blog-visiting too this week.

A house with old furniture has no need of ghosts to be haunted.
Hope Mirrlees