I'm starting off the year with a double-duty project, inviting you to join not one but two challenges this month...
First up, there's the Artistic Stamper challenge for January which is Love Is In The Air, while over at Our Creative Corner we'd like you to reveal your Shopping Sins.
You know the ones... those crafty purchases which then sit proudly in their packaging awaiting the right moment or the right project, and somehow never get to come out and play! You'll find all the challenge details and rules by clicking on the appropriate links.
And if you haven't yet heard all the exciting Our Creative Corner news, you definitely need to check this out - in addition to our Top Talent and Top 3 picks, there's now a prize on offer each month too.
Anyway, enough of the business - on to the project!
One of my 2014 crafty resolutions is to do more exploring via art journalling, and that's what this started out as. But once the twigs turned up, it was clear I'd never be able to close it in a book, so I ended up mounting it on a canvas instead... Ah well, it's art journalling Words-and-Pictures-style!!
I knew the shopping sin I wanted to expiate was the beeswax I'd bought ages ago and had always put off using - "too fiddly, too messy, maybe I'll get a cheap melting pot on ebay and that'll make it easier" - until I saw a youtube clip of someone melting it right on the project with a heat tool. Okay, no more excuses!
I didn't really have much more in my head than that when I set off - "use beeswax"... but the Artistic Stamper prompt was really helpful, and suddenly I had butterfly hearts fluttering around in my head.
I started with a piece of A4 paper from Finnabair's Sunrise Sunset paper pad by Prima. I've been watching lots of France Papillon's art journalling videos, so I was planning to create in landscape and then cut the paper in half to stick it into the journal.
I stuck down strips of book pages and handmade paper to vary the textures and used my fingers to add gesso to most of it.
Next step was to add some colour with washes of Distress Stain... it was no more precise than "sky" and "earth" at this point.
I had the start of the words hovering in my mind by this point, so I wanted the sense of lightness and being airborne - so bubbles were the natural way to go.
I had lots of fun creating my bubbles - first with the Artistic Stamper Large Sequin Waste mask, and then adding smaller bubbles with the Large Random Dots background stamp.
I stencilled and stamped with paint and added shading to the little bubbles with a PITT Big Brush Pen.
And I suppose the idea is that the hearts/butterflies are being wafted away amongst the bubbles...
I stamped one of the Calligraphic Mats onto some tissue paper (as well as adding it as texture stamping around the "earth") and cut out some hearts using Tim Holtz's Movers and Shapers die.
With no Melt Pot, I popped my wax pellets into a disposable little metal tart tin and used my heat tool to melt them (holding the tin with some plyers).
There was plenty of "melt time" to dip in a couple of butterflies and fish them out with tweezers, and perfectly easy to re-melt whenever necessary.
Not only does the wax give this fantastic parchment finish and wonderful sheen, but it strengthens the tissue paper as well as making it mould-able.
I also used a dab of melted wax to "glue" the tiny bits of twig body on (though the twig idea only came up as a side-effect of putting the twig trees on - so that came first!).
Somehow the shape of the paper strips in the bottom corner turned into trees in my head, so I added a bit of stronger colour and texture in the form of corrugated cardboard, leftover wax paper from some bread and the twigs that were lying around on my table.
Once they were in place, I just scattered some more wax over the earth and trees and used the heat tool to melt/glue them. Again, I think the sheen is very cool - hard to capture in a photo, mind!
The words had, by now, formed themselves into the finished phrases, so I stamped them on some more of the handmade paper, inked them and distributed them around the sky and the earth: when love takes flight, open your heart and fly too.
Much as I love the twigs, they are the reason this page will never be part of my art journal. At least that gave me the freedom to stick my butterflies wherever I like, rather than worrying about where I'd be cutting the page in half!
Instead, I grabbed an A4 canvas and gave it a rough coat of French Roast Fresco paint around the edges, topping that with some Sepia Archival ink, applied directly from the ink pad.
And once glued down, I had the chance to do lots of tattering of the page edges for extra texture and dimension!
So, I hope this will inspire you to join in with at least one of these two challenges, if not both! Remember: at Our Creative Corner, we'll need to see and hear about the Shopping Sins you've used on your piece; or for the Artistic Stamper challenge, show us how Love Is In The Air for you (I don't think you have to take it quite as literally as I did!!).
I hope that 2014 brings you health, happiness and all good things. I'm looking forward to whatever's next!
We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.
Edith Lovejoy Pierce