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...

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Life is...

Hello all!  I'm here with a trio of altered money envelopes today.  They were made as samples for one of my latest stamp sets, launched last month by PaperArtsy.  All the quotes on these come from EAB19 Life & Living.

They ended up needing to be a trio because each of them starts with the phrase "Life is..." (or in one case "Life isn't..." but it then goes on to tell you what "Life is..." in the second half!).

The cash envelopes are actually just slightly larger than ATC sized, especially when you leave the top flap open, as I have, to receive possible gift vouchers or cash as a gift.

I won't keep you long, as these were really pretty simple to make, but just in case you want to know how, keep reading.

I started by smearing gesso onto the envelopes with a palette knife.  It's really not important to be neat or precise with this bit.

Next, I added watery washes from the chosen palette - a green-turquoise-blue-purple spectrum.

Once that was all dry, I stamped some of Courtney's fabulous leaves from ECF06, combining Leaf Green and Olive Archival directly on the stamp.

Some of the postmarks from the same set are stamped around the place in French Ultramarine Archival.

The French Ultramarine is actually a soft purply pale blue, so fitted perfectly with the paint palette.

I stamped the quotes on separate pieces of card, and embossed them in Wow Earthtone Pepper. 

I love this speckled grey, especially when it catches the light... it makes me very happy.

And I did want to have the authors' names somewhere in the mix.  Obviously, you can just cut them off and discard them, but sometimes I like to have them around.

Rather than have them conventionally attached somewhere as a footnote, I used them as little balancing accents in opposite upper corners.

Okay, Helen Keller made it to footnote sort of place in the bottom corner, but only because that was the position needed to get a balanced composition.

The cotton thread adds movement and dimension.

I love how the spontaneous coils and swirls bring everything to life.  And of course there's plenty of splatter, which I find has a similar effect.

If I'm using the method of stamping on a separate piece of paper and then cutting the quotes up, rather than stamping straight on a project, the positioning of the words is worth some attention.

For instance, with this Einstein quote, you can create the pause needed for the comic timing of the quote by leaving visual space between the words.

But maybe that's just me... I know I do have a strange and particular brain as far as words are concerned!

So there you go - another batch of samples from the new stamp sets.  I hope you like them.  My favourites are still to come.  That's going to be a more complicated blogpost to write.  

Hopefully now I'm safely settled in the Czech Republic (for a few weeks at least - all a bit up in the air, depending on building work) I'll have more time to play with.  I've got most of the unpacking done, and the travelling craft stash organised... there's quite a lot, though the pile is smaller than on some occasions in the past - have a look here, third photo down!).

Three Tim Holtz stamp folders, plus assorted extra stamps; plenty of Distress Ink and Oxide pads in the TH Cargo Case; tools and brushes and powders in the little Wendy Vecchi bag; and a couple of cardboard boxes rammed full - here's a sample of the top layer of the little one.  Next time out I'll try to remember to show you a couple of pictures of my current set up.

I hope you're all thriving this week, or at least surviving.  Stay safe, stay well everyone, and happy crafting!

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them - that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.
Lao Tzu

Friday, 31 July 2020

Change your life

Hello all, and thank you so much for your lovely comments on my Rusty Rustic Houses.  I'm here today with a considerably shorter post!

It's one of my favourite times of the month... a Tag Friday at A Vintage Journey.  I don't think I've missed one since the very beginning.

Today's tag is one of the first things I've made using the new (not so new by now) Speckled Egg Distress colour.  I knew from the moment I saw it that it would be a new favourite, and ordered it in several mediums immediately.

They've been sitting on my craft table waiting for me to have time to play.   But I was so very right about loving it... it's completely magical.

I started with some wrinkle-free distressing, smooshing and splotching with Speckled Egg Distress Ink and Distress Oxide, along with Pumice Stone and some accents of Ground Espresso.  Happy already!

Then I applied strips of tissue tape and design tape and smeared some crackle paste over (following Live the Dream Jennie's lovely technique, not for the first time!).  

Once it had crackled, I dribbled some Speckled Egg Spray Stain over and spritzed with water to let it travel into all the nooks and crannies.

Finally, I sealed it with some Ultra-Matte Varnish.  Dabbing it on loosens some of the crackle - it's not very keen to stay on the slippery design tape - but that gives you an even more brilliantly weathered look, and once it's sealed whatever is still there is staying there.

I added some stamping in Ground Espresso Archival - postmarks and numbers courtesy of the Field Notes stamp plate...

... and some tiny mushrooms from the Tiny Toadstools set.  They've had a little touch of Pumice Stone Oxide on their caps.

Over that, there's some simple collaging with Field Notes ephemera.  I'm in love with these fungi, and they tone in really well with the Pumice Stone and Ground Espresso notes in the background.

They were actually in the mix first, and then I decided to stamp the little fungi to go with them, rather than the other way around.

The soft-eyed young man in the Photobooth snapshot looks quietly confident of his ability to change his life.  He might need a little more flamboyance though!

That's the advice of the quote, in any case.   If you're going to change your life, start immediately and do it flamboyantly!

I borrowed the acetate idea from some of my samples for my latest stamp release at PaperArtsy, and the quote itself is from one of the newest sets, EAB19 Life & Living.

I stamped my quote in Archival on some acetate cut from hoarded packaging, and added Earthtone Pepper embossing powder by Wow.

As you heat it, you can also start to gently shape the acetate strip to fold around the edges of the tag.  Then on the back I use a bit of tape to fasten the flaps in place.

Once that's done, I hold the tag up in the air, face-down, and heat from below, letting the acetate fall into its most natural curve.  If it needs a bit of help, the other end of a slender paint brush usually does the job smoothing it out.

That way you have this beautiful sculptural curve lifting over the tag.  The words are easily read as you move the tag around (which I've tried to mimic with these three photos from different angles) but you can also see whatever is behind them.  It makes me really happy!

There are symbols of the readiness for taking flight, for change, for all things new.

The tiny dragonfly/damselfly, perched ready for take off...

... and the little blue butterfly are from the Field Notes Snippets (tiny versions of the ephemera - in fact some of the script panels may be from there too, rather than the full-size ones).

I hope you like my tag.  I do, and I'm not afraid to say so!!

Do hop over to A Vintage Journey to see what my fellow Creative Guides have been up to for Tag Friday - I promise you it's worth the trip!

There's also a Link Party there if you'd like to share any tags you've made at any point in the last month.

I'm pausing part way across Europe for a few days with friends - all carefully distanced - and hope to find time for the long-promised visiting.  It's all been a bit hectic with packing the car and trying to second-guess the news about border restrictions and possible closures.

But these few days en route are usually pretty peaceful before we set off again, so I hope to see you all soon.

Take care, stay safe and happy crafting all.

New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.
Lao Tzu

Monday, 27 July 2020

Rusty Rustic Houses

Hello all!  Thank you so much for the lovely feedback on the ongoing daily leaf studies for World Watercolour Month.  Sadly, that seems to be almost the only thing my creative mojo is up for at the moment.  An exception is when I meet up on Skype with Brenda Brown of Bumblebees and Butterflies and Nikki Acton of Addicted to Art.

We had another of our online gatherings recently and Brenda's husband Ken got involved too!  He generously offered to cut Nikki and me a trio of wooden houses each, like the ones we'd been covetously admiring when Brenda showed us them earlier in lockdown.  And then we each got to play as we chose...

Yup, no surprises about where mine landed up... some delicate wildflower stems and tendrils and some rusty wire, not forgetting the crackle.  It's a long one, so you might want a nice cup of tea or coffee to hand before you continue...

Funnily enough, despite the joy of having the little wooden block houses (which Brenda had kindly posted), it took us two sessions to get these houses done.

For some reason we all ground to a halt the first day, and agreed to meet up again in a week's time and hope that the creativity would start to flow again.

I think you'll agree when you see the other projects that we did not hope in vain!

I'll take you quickly through my creative steps... chiefly so that I have a record so it doesn't take me so long next time to get my house(s) in order.

I forgot to take a picture of the wood blocks completely unadorned (but I bet one of the others will have one).  My first photo here is of them with a wash of white.

I wanted to keep the woodgrain showing, so I used DecoArt's Vintage Effect Wash rather than an opaque acrylic.

Now a little bit of decorative tissue paper - this is one of the Christmassy Idea-ology rolls, but I tore around the overtly festive stuff just to get some nice text and a few leafy shapes.  That also got a wash of white over the top to blend it in.

Next up, some inking.  I used Coffee Archival so that it would be nice and permanent, blended on with a blending tool.

And then (no apologies for inking it up yet again!) I stamped my favourite Rubber Dance Weed Love tendrils in Olive Green and started to add little flower heads... just tiny dabs of PaperArtsy Fresco Finish Chalk Paint in Lavender and Wisteria.   (Wisteria only in this photo, I think.  You can see the darker Lavender added below.)

Once I'd added flowers all over, that's when I ground to a halt.  I really, really, really wanted to add some crackle, but I knew that would mean a big pause in my making while I waited for it to do its thing.  And beyond crackle I really couldn't see where I was headed next.  Thankfully, I wasn't the only one struggling and Nikki and Brenda were more than happy to throw in the towel and try again another day!

So we magically jump a week to where my crackle has crackled, and had some dark paint trickled over it to highlight that glorious texture (a dirty wash of Raw Umber, Quinacridone Gold and Paynes Grey). 

I added the same paints to the roofs - delighted that the wash was translucent enough to leave those woody whorls and lines perfectly clear.

It was still slow going, but gradually I fought my way through.  I'd always known I wanted some rusty wire wrappings (of course) but nothing else was particularly clear.

Part of the problem was I really liked the houses in their very simplest form.  I could easily have stopped at the whitewash and inky edges stage!

But these tiny strips of butterfly and script Design Tape over some torn Tissue Tape were a big step forward.  I decided the corners would be my focal focus rather than having the houses decorated flat-side-on.

(Funky, but not so easy when it came to photographing them - if you have to have them at an angle to see the corner, you pretty much always get one side in shadow!)

But once the tapes were on, things started to fall into place more easily.  Obviously the wire-wrapping was next - always a delicious moment - and I kept things simple with a few cogs and bolts and some short Small Talk sticker phrases.

The largest of the three houses got a Philosophy Tag all to itself.  (I suspect these have been discontinued, but I still have a small supply.)

And I really like the words on the big house too... going around the corner.

I thought it would be too cutesy to have them all going round corners.  Besides, the positioning of the cogs wouldn't allow for it.

So for the two smaller houses the words go on the front side - one high, one low, so that overall we get a nice balanced look.

I'm so happy with my trio of houses now.  The crackle is fabulous, though I do say so myself!

(Such a relief... at first it looked as though it wasn't going to do anything, but I put a bit more of another kind of crackle paste over the top and away we went.)

I love the simple stained rooftops with their slightly rusty undertones to complement the rusty wire.

Of course I love the rusty wire!

And I'm really happy with my little blue flower vines too.  (If some of you are thinking this looks familiar, I was shamelessly CASEing one of my favourite tags from earlier this year, Rusted Hope.)

And given that I'd wanted to stop at a much earlier stage, if I really want things even simpler then I can just turn my three houses around and enjoy them from behind...

Best of all possible worlds!

Well, that's more than enough from me for today.  Just take a look at how differently Nikki and Brenda's houses turned out.  Do hop over to their blogs to see all the magic happening... you'll find Nikki's fabulous trio here at Addicted to Art, and Brenda's adorable little scene here at Bumblebees and Butterflies

I'm so grateful that these online crafting sessions have nudged me into mixed media action, otherwise things would have been even more sluggish around here lately!  It's always such fun to chat and laugh and set the world to rights, even when the crafting isn't going well... and even more so when it is!

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I hope you're finding ways to nudge your creative mojo into action, or just enjoying taking some time for yourself now and then.  I'll see you again soon, either here or elsewhere in Craftyblogland.  Stay safe, stay well all.

Houses are like people - some you like and some you don't like - and once in a while there is one you love.
From Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery

I'd like to share these at Country View Challenges for the theme Do What Makes You Happy - all my favourite things, and eventually they made me happy!