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, 13 October 2018

A Box of Eggs

Hello all!  I've been busy playing (or laying?!) with eggs over at PaperArtsy for this fortnight's colour challenge, A Box of Eggs.  The idea was to create projects using some of the gorgeous new paint colours designed by Courtney Franich (a.k.a. Cork, who is also Miss PaperArtsy) which include some beautiful pastels and neutrals, as well as darker tones to pair with them.  Obviously these colours could take you anywhere, but from the moment I saw the title A Box of Eggs, my mind became fixated on it...

I've found it's best not to argue with my mind once it gets an idea, so that's exactly what you'll find if you hop over to PaperArtsy - not just one, but two boxes of eggs.  Yes, okay, it's possible my brain's a little scrambled.  But go on, off you go, best get cracking or you'll miss the fun... !!

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

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Encore - Nature Assemblage

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.
As always, the Encore Posts are formatted differently from the regular ones, so that you can easily spot them.  Please don't feel that you have to comment all over again!

Hello all!  Thank you so much for your lovely comments on my jumbo Autumn Splendour tag.  It seems I'm not the only one for whom it's a favourite!  I've another creation with autumn leaves for you today, but this time they're real leaves.  This assemblage canvas was created back in May 2017 for the PaperArtsy "Assemblage" theme.  Those leaves, and the fact that it uses Lynne Perrella stamps - she's on my mind because of the recent release of her Egyptian stamps, which I was lucky enough to make some samples for - as well as the subject matter of a woman connecting with the landscape around her, all made it seem like good timing for this Encore.  Here's what I wrote back then...

Hello all, Alison from Words and Pictures here to share an Assemblage piece with you this evening.

The definitions I read spoke about Assemblage as essentially being three-dimensional collage - 3D objects projecting out from the substrate - and from the first moment of reading that, these Lynne Perrella houses popped into my head.

My imagination took flight from there - the woman from LP036 (probably my top favourite image from Lynne's latest exquisite releases) trapped inside the buildings, her domestic life, her position in society.

Her joy lies in escaping into the grounds of the large manor house she lives in and gathering botanical specimens, or natural keepsakes to remind her that there is life outside the walls of narrow society expectations.

And though her life is regimented, and she tries to follow the conventions in displaying her collections by lining them up and labelling them, nature always breaks out of the mould.

The twigs and branches refuse to be confined in straight lines...

... and so do the dried flowers, so carefully preserved.

The Frozen Charlottes are part of her own broken self - expected to behave in certain ways and follow certain codes...

... but feeling fractured and constricted by those expectations.

You can see how her obsession with the natural world has infected even her appearance!

And she feels ever more constricted by her world...

I'm indebted to Amanda at Treasured Moments of Inspiration for the background here.  I had my layout all in place, but I was struggling with what should go on the canvas itself - design paper?  Brayering?  Stencilled texture?  My usual crackle?  But thanks to a moment of inspiration from the blog visiting, I have these layered tags.

Over my tags, I applied a glazing technique picked up from one of Donna Downey's Inspiration Wednesday videos.  I used the PaperArtsy Matte Glaze mixed with successive layers of paint - applying and then wiping back with cloths both wet and dry, until I was happy with the look.  The paint layers were Nougat, Taupe and French Roast, knocked back at the end with Snowflake both as a glaze and, eventually, plenty of spattering.

I added harlequin stencilling with the Snowflake and text stamping using script stamps from Hot Picks 1006 and 1217...

... so that the background would echo the Tim Holtz paper used to make the houses.

I used a variety of mediums to add extra depth and shading - a Pumice Stone Distress Crayon, a Ground Espresso Distress Marker, and a Sepia Archival ink pad, and the final touch was some French Roast spatter to add extra depth.

The Matte Glaze mixed with French Roast was also perfect for distressing the Frozen Charlottes.

It's really easy to get the look you want, as the Glaze gives you so much extended time to play.

I almost forgot the roofs - another stamp from the LP036, featuring the little cottage where she dreams of living out a simple life...

... instead of in her father's great mansion with all the attendant privileges and duties.

So that was the journey my imagination took into the mind of this woman and her collection of natural found objects, as I was assembling this creation.

Thanks for coming along with me to share her story, and I hope you'll be inspired to gather some three-dimensional stories of your own.


So there's another Encore post safely gathered in to my online virtual scrapbook of my creative journey.  One day maybe I'll have them all safely here in one place, but I warn you there are more than 100 of them still to go!  And of course every time I create something for another blog and only have a sneak peek here at Words and Pictures, that number goes up rather than down... ah, well.

Thanks so much for stopping by today, and I hope the autumn weather is being as kind to you as it is to me here in the Czech Republic.  There's something new up next (which this canvas also gives the tiniest little hint towards - you'll see what I mean on Saturday!) and after that I hope to find time to share some of my autumn photos of the beautiful Czech countryside with you, as well as a couple of the watercolours inspired by that landscape.  I've definitely been connecting with the nature around me, just like this woman, though feeling considerably more free!  In the meantime, happy crafting all!

There is an eternal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives.
Josephine Hart

I would like to share this as part of Simply Neutrals Tuesday over at Apple Apricot

Friday, 5 October 2018

Autumn Splendour

Hello all!  It's new theme time at A Vintage Journey and the amazing Sara Emily, our host this month, is looking for lots of Autumn Splendour.

You can find all the challenge details as well as lots of inspiration from my brilliant fellow Creative Guides over at A Vintage Journey, and here's my offering for you.

Although I most often work in muted tones and soft neutrals, I adore the fiery rainbow of autumn when the trees start to turn, especially when those burnished golds and browns and rust colours are seen against a vivid blue sky.

That's what I was aiming to capture with this giant tag, and I don't mind saying the results make me very happy indeed.  There are just a few step-out pictures, but mostly just lots of eye candy to capture the splendour of autumn.

It's a huge tag and there's a lot to see... so grab yourself a pumpkin-spice latte (another of the splendours of autumn!) and enjoy the view...

I've been in the countryside in the Czech Republic for the last ten days or so, and the weather has been incredible.

Cloudless skies, beautiful sunshine (and pleasantly warm too, for the most part - just a couple of those really chilly autumn days), and just in the last few days the trees have properly started their colourful journey into autumn.

So everywhere I look I'm seeing elements of this tag in real life!

This is one of the Gigantags from That's Crafty.  It's huge - 15 x 7.5 inches.  If you saw my Curiouser and Curiouser tag, you'll recognise that this is a sort of partner piece to that one.

I'd had these Gigantags in my stash for ages, as well as some of Tim Holtz's large Etcetera tags, and could somehow never seem to get started with them... probably through worrying about messing up and wasting the tags.

So when we were deciding in advance what to work on, I requested the large tags as our substrate for the shared Skype craft session the other week with Brenda and Nikki (if you missed it, read all about it by visiting Curiouser and Curiouser) so that I could try to crack open my crafter's block about them.

But then as soon as I'd made that request, even before we Skyped, I knew what the first step had to be with this next Gigantag... it was to lay this fabulous twig wreath (it's been in my stash for ages - I probably found it in a cheapy shop) across the blank tag, add the acorns, and pop the seated boy into position.  And there it had to pause while I went off and did lots of other things.

But each time I walked past the MDF tag with its twiggy wreath, I got a clearer picture of how I wanted it all to be.  And it definitely found its way to where I wanted to go... and then went a few steps beyond that to somewhere even better than I'd originally imagined!

Here's a quick look at some of those background layers.  There's crackle, of course, and some Cobalt Teal Hue DecoArt Fluid Acrylic, applied randomly with lots of water.

Then some Distress Paints got involved - Broken China and Stormy Sky, I'm fairly sure, and maybe some Faded Jeans too.

And I think there may have been some Distress Sprays too, flicked on with a paintbrush or direct from the unscrewed nozzle.  I forget... it's quite a while ago now.

Next, I needed to create some autumn leaves in all their splendour.  I spent some happy inky messy time creating these pages of wrinkle-free distress technique with Distress Inks and Oxides.

I love how the formulation of the Oxides means you can continue to layer colours on and still keep them distinct... perfect for the mottled rainbow of a changing leaf.

You can get some really great contrasts of colour, and also contrasts between the translucent glow of the Inks and the chalky opacity of the Oxides.

Then it was time for lots of die-cutting.  I used the large Layered Leaf Bigz die...

... but without running it through its embossing folder.  I didn't feel the leaves needed it for this particular make.

There are some medium-sized leaves cut with the Mini Tattered Leaves Movers and Shapers dies...

... and some other shapes made with the Fall Foliage Thinlits.

The wheat stem was cut from some other card, spritzed with a couple of Distress Sprays - maybe Wild Honey and Scattered Straw? - for that ready-to-harvest look.

And by the end I'd also added some tiny leaves cut out of all the leftover bits of inky card using Tim's Maple Leaf punch.

Can you tell I make a habit of grabbing any foliage dies (and stamps) I happen to find on offer?!

At the heart of each of the two main leaf clusters are some glossy acorns.  This is definitely the only time of year you'll find me voluntarily using orange, but I love these!

I added some natural fibres in amongst the leaves too, for some added movement.

The irresistible cobwebs from Tim's new Tangled Webs set add some glistening detail to the background.

They're stamped in Hickory Smoke and clear-embossed, trying to get the look of morning dew glistening on the fibres.

With the wreath, the boy, the large leaves and the acorns, I thought I was almost there, but things were about to get a whole lot more interesting.

I wanted to add a little more structure, and also to ground the wreath somehow... a little tricky, given it's floating in the middle of the blue sky.

But I think I found the solution in some layered ephemera.

The straight lines and strong verticals and horizontals work in contrast to the circle of the wreath and the organic shapes of the leaves, and to my eye they give the whole piece a stronger, more focussed look.

And with those straight lines in place, I was able to find the perfect homes for the Quote Chips I wanted to use, both above and below the wreath.

I added the fibres, and it was getting better, but even with all that arranged on my giant tag, I still felt there was further to go.

So the pinecones came out to play...

... nestled in around the two main clusters of leaves, above and below.

And this is when I started punching the tiny leaves out of my leftover bits of inky card, and adding them both to the wreath, and to the cascade of leaves fluttering down through the sky.

I loved the extra movement and the additional colours, so we were definitely almost there.

The very final touches were some white spatter (of course), and some lovely blue-green seed beads...

... glued down in and around the ephemera layers...

.... glinting in the sun to draw the eye.

They give a lovely touch of additional texture, as well as catching the light.  And they lead the eye towards the Quote Chips. 

The words are optimistic overall, but they do have a touch of autumn melancholy underneath them.  After all, we wouldn't need that reassurance if we weren't feeling troubled.

The falling leaves are gathering in heaps at the foot of the tag - just right for shushling through on a crisp autumnal walk.

Some natural raffia and twine top things off at the other end.

And there had to be some inking around the edges - done with Archival for longevity - drawing the eye inward and catching all that scrumptious texture.

I do hope the rather solemn looking boy can take some joy from all the colours surrounding him, and find hope in the autumn sunshine.

I'm certainly enjoying a lift in the spirits from seeing the landscape changing colour under cloudless blue skies - and I'm grateful for every moment of it.

This delicious dimensional tag will have to find a home on a wall somewhere - probably next to the Curiouser and Curiouser tag.

And I've got a strong feeling that now I've broken my resistance to these large tags, there will be more coming to join the set.

I really love having the larger space to play with, and the sturdiness of the MDF allows for lots of dimensional structures.  Watch this space...

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  As I said, there's lots more Autumn Splendour inspiration for you over at A Vintage Journey, and we hope we'll see you on the journey somewhere down the road this month.  Happy crafting all!

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.
Elizabeth Lawrence

I'd like to play along at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge where the theme is Tag It!
Tag Tuesday are playing Autumn/Halloween, so I'd like to join in there too
At Stamps and Stencils they are having Spooky Fun with an Autumnal Twist - if Halloween isn't your thing, then autumn colours are allowed 
At Country View Challenges things are looking Plant-tastic... who could resist?!
At More Mixed Media they're playing Anything Goes with an optional twist of Orange
I'd also like to join in at Creative Artiste where, as always, it's Anything Mixed Media Goes