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...

Monday, 19 August 2019

A little lavender with a touch of rust

Hello all, and welcome to another new week and another new theme over at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge where I am honoured to be in the Designer Spotlight, playing alongside the amazing design team for the month of August.

"Little" and "a touch" are the operative words in the post title, because the challenge this week is ATCs - Artist Trading Cards, those small areas of creative real estate, 3.5 x 2.5 inches in size.

I've always loved working in a smaller scale (check out my Dollshouse creations if you've not seen them before), and ATCs were a regular feature here at Words & Pictures in the early days of my crafting journey.

In 2012/13 I was a member of the design team for a much-missed challenge called Fun With ATCs, so tiny creations on various themes turned up here every week.  Whenever I make an ATC these days I remember how much I enjoy them and this one was no exception!

(You can catch up with all my ATCs - or at least the ones I remembered to label! - by clicking the ATCs label at the foot of the post.)

For some reason, the tiny playing area always makes me want to cram as many mixed media goodies onto it as possible.

So on here you'll find crackle, rust, metal embellishing, die-cuts, ephemera and of course lots of paint and ink creating the setting for my real lavender stems.

The stems slightly over-step the boundaries of the ATC, but I hope I'll be forgiven.  Since the original purpose of the ATC format is for artists to trade samples of their work with each other, this might be a slight fail on that front too... 

I'm thinking it would be pretty tricky to send through this the post in a good state of preservation, but I'm sure it could be done!

I don't have all my usual process photos for this one, I'm afraid.  I started out by putting some opaque crackle paste onto an MDF ATC through the lovely Tim Holtz Trellis stencil.

But after that I seem to have entered a state of creative flow, and forgot to stop for any more photos, sorry!

But I can still tell you what's what... starting with those stems.  They were part of the gift-wrap decorations for one of the presents given to my 102-year old neighbour a couple of weeks ago.  Waste not, want not, eh?

Once the crackle had nicely crackled, I dribbled on some sprays, both Distress Ink and Distress Oxide (I think I tried out Stormy Sky, Dusty Concord and maybe some Shaded Lilac) and let it sink down into all the nooks and crannies.

(You might think I should have used Milled Lavender, but it wasn't the right shade for this ATC!)

Then I layered up some tiny ephemera pieces from the Idea-ology Snippets pack.

These teeny tiny fragments are just perfect for ATCs, and I had a lovely fiddly time selecting and arranging the adverts and labels and tickets.

The lavender seemed to need a bit of extra greenery behind it, so it was out with the Distress Inks and Oxides in shades of green to make some lovely mottled grassy stems.

They are cut using the Wildflower Stems Thinlits, sets 1 and 2.

The beautiful butterfly couldn't be simpler... he's one of the set of Transparent Wings (the earlier release where they're all clear - the new ones have coloured wings too).

He has perched, just for a moment, on the top of a trinket pin, resting against the lavender stems.  I just love how the acetate catches the light at different angles.

The whole thing is bound together with some rusty wire and - inspired by own Heavy Metal ATCs from last month (some extra ATC inspiration there if you want it!) - I helped that rusty decay "bleed" onto the crackled background behind.

There's a little bit of Grit Paste added first for texture, and then washes of DecoArt Fluid Acrylics in Payne's Grey and Quinacridone Gold, added and knocked back and added again until I was pleased with the look.

Oh, I almost forgot the words!  Over the top of each batch of ephemera, there's also a ChitChat sticker.

It took me a while to select the right two words, which can be read in either direction, depending on which one you notice first...

"Peace, always," or "Always peace," - I'd happily accept either one right now.

I added some splatter using a mixture of PaperArtsy Fresco Finish Chalk Acrylics in Lavender (of course!) and Wisteria.

I love these darker speckles alongside my more usual dusting of white.

In fact the lavender heads had faded to a rather dull grey, so I used the same paints to touch them up a little.  I bet you didn't notice... that's how good the PaperArtsy colours are.

And the good news is, as my brother pointed out when he saw this ATC in real life, you can still smell the lavender, which is the really important thing after all!

Speaking of important things, I find that it's moments like this at the craft table, caught up in the flow, playing with your favourite things - whether that's ink or paint or paper or rusty wire - that provide some relief from the wider troubles of the world at large.

Personally, I think it counts as a political act to continue to celebrate creativity and beauty in the face of the bleak political times we seem to be in.  And of course the connections we all share in our crafting corner of the internet are a source of light to defy the darker purposes to which this technology can also be turned.

So however small it feels in the face of everything going on, this shared creativity matters, now more than ever.  I hope you'll be inspired to create something this week, so that we artists (there, I said it) can all continue to trade in inspiration, beauty and light.

And if whatever you create happens to be Artist Trading Card-sized, come and play along at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge where you could, as a bonus, be in with a chance to win a $50 shopping spree at Simon Says Stamp.

As always, there's some glorious inspiration from the incredible SSS design team, so we hope you'll come and share your ATCs there this week.  Thanks so much for stopping by, and I hope you've enjoyed your visit.  See you again soon, either here or elsewhere in Craftyblogland.

P.S. If you like small things, there's a new post over at Cestina's dolls houses to enjoy too.

Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.
Albert Einstein

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Martin Luther King Jr

I'd like to play along at Country View Challenges where the theme this month is Texture
At Moo Mania and More they are looking for Butterflies... found one!
Emerald Creek Dares are daring us to have High Hopes - I don't think you can hope much higher than peace, creativity and light
At the Bleeding Art Challenge they are all mixed media and full-time Anything Goes

Monday, 12 August 2019

A Midsummer Day and Night's Dream

Hello all!  I'm very happy to be back with this week's project in the the Designer Spotlight at Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge.  It's an honour to be creating alongside the amazing SSS Design Team for the month of August, and this week's theme is a beauty.

The challenge is Midsummer Blues.  It's another lengthy post, taking us through a whole midsummer day and night, so pack up your favourite beverage and maybe some snacks, ready for the moonlit forest path ahead!

I honestly set out on this one with no very clear plan in mind.  In the early stages of thinking I felt a bit stumped, but gradually two elements floating in my imagination started to merge and, without really knowing where I was going, this diptych is where I ended up.

The first of the imaginative prompts was A Midsummer Night's Dream.  With my Shakespeare connections you can't say the word "midsummer" to me without that play popping into my head.

 So that's where the fairy connection came from.

And I also had a thought about the summer solstice floating around... that midsummer date when day and night shade mystically into one another...

... so the idea of a double tag with day darkening into night was born.  But the whole creative process took days to progress from that very early inspiration to the finished piece.

I thought I'd work with a pair of the Etcetera tags, so that their sturdiness would allow my diptych to stand tall.  These are the size #8 tags, so the whole thing is just over six inches wide and six-and-a-half inches tall.

I knew things had to be blue to fulfil the challenge title, so having stuck some book script paper onto them, I dipped the tags into Stormy Sky and Chipped Sapphire Distress Inks, keeping the dark tones towards the bottom right and trying to leave the upper left as pale and light as possible.

Over that I positioned Tim Holtz's lovely Clockwork stencil and did some sponging of Midnight Fresco Finish Chalk Acrylic in the night time corner and Snowflake in the daylight regions.

In the play most of the action takes place in the forest, so I had to have some tangled branches.

This is a Hero Arts stamp, embossed in Wow Primary Bark.  (SSS has lots of Wow embossing powders but not this earthy dark brown as far as I can see - I'd recommend it to them!)

Central to my thinking were the sun and the moon and these came courtesy of the glorious Stars & Moons mould by Prima.

The round moon is playing the role of the sun for me... we're all about the imagination and playing parts in the theatre here!

I didn't happen to have any Paperclay around, and I couldn't be bothered to get my Melt Pot out, so I thought I'd try melting some beeswax pellets directly into the moulds using my heat tool.

It worked, but from then on I had to keep reminding myself not to use the heat tool to dry anything anywhere near them, or they'd revert to being a puddle of wax!

A quick coat of gesso gave me a better idea of how they might look in the long run so that I could work on what else would be involved.

There were some straw fibres hanging around on the craft table and in an idle moment I tried out what they looked like behind the moulds... sold!

The wild tangles were perfect to echo the gnarled branches of the trees, as well as the twists and turns and chaos of the farcical knots of the play's plot.

From there things happened slowly over the next couple of days.  I'd have an idea, try something out on the tags, leave it for a bit, come back to see if I liked it... if so then onwards, if not then back to the drawing board.

Two of the tiniest Paper Dolls put in an appearance as some of Titania's fairies.

Perhaps Peaseblossom or Mustard-Seed... or Cobweb.  Whichever they are, they were allowed to stay (contrary to Titania's instruction: Fairies, skip hence!).

They have Transparent Wings to fly with, though I've made them slightly less transparent with some gesso.

The butterfly, however, still has his fully transparent wings, stapled over a punched lower layer for double dimension.

It's gorgeous how the acetate catches the light and gleams at certain angles.

The butterfly lights up the daytime...

... while the night is given a glimmer of extra light by the Idea-ology Mirrored Stars.

I love how they glisten and twinkle amidst the tree branches.

And there's even a morning star creeping over onto the daylight tag.

The light allows the plants of the forest to flourish, diecut from the Wildflower Thinlits and smooshed in various shades of green Distress Inks and Oxides.

Time to add a bit more detail to the Sun and the Moon, ready for their starring roles.

I used Fresco Finish Chalk Acrylics by PaperArtsy in Snowflake and Chalk to give a bit more opacity, and I brushed on Frayed Burlap Distress Ink for dimensional shading.  Tiny touches of Midnight Fresco paint bring the eyes to life.

The moon is a strong presence in A Midsummer Night's Dream... as marker of time - they're waiting for the new moon to hold the royal wedding; as the light by which the fairies meet; and also as a character.

One of the Mechanicals or working men in the play actually plays the role of the moon in their play-within-a-play at the end.

This is Words and Pictures, so of course we need to have some words.  These are fragments from the play text, handwritten with my dipping pen and some grey ink.

Tiny snippets of Crochet Thinlits decorate the phrases, and the daylight one is edged with Stormy Sky, while "night and silence" (yes, please!) has Chipped Sapphire shadows drawing in.

They're attached to the tags with hinge clips (as well as a bit of glue).  Mine are non-branded old-gold versions of these Idea-ology Hinge Clips.

They've had a touch of Mushroom Alcohol Ink as well as catching the white spatter of glimmering stardust.

In A Midsummer Night's Dream all of the action takes place over about 24 hours, so the clocks, stencilled and ephemeral, are measuring the time ticking away.

The paper ones are from the Idea-ology Snippets and Ephemera packs, and you can still just see the shadows and highlights of the stencilled versions in the background.

Some scraps of Idea-ology Linen Ribbon top the tags off.

I like the rustic feel of it, especially when you loosen the weave a little - perfect for my woodland world.

Around the back, I've kept things very simple... who wants to spend time looking at the back of this diptych when there's a magical twilit forest to wander through on the other side?!

Just some woodgrain design paper, gently inked around the edges.  Really it's mostly there to cover up the brown tape which provides the hinges for the diptych.

Having started out on this project by wandering around lost in the dark, I'm thrilled to have made my way to this enchanted world.

From night's darkest shadows...

... to the soft light of early dawn...

... and especially when you catch those glimmers and sparkles of light, this diptych makes my heart sing.

I hope you've enjoyed dreaming along with me, and that you'll be inspired to play along with the Midsummer Blues theme at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge this week.

As always, there's amazing inspiration from the full-time team, who are looking forward to choosing their favourites, and the usual $50 voucher is on offer for one lucky winner to go shopping at Simon Says Stamp.

Thanks so much for stopping by today, and I hope you all have a magical week!

I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was.

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.

Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.

Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms. Fairies, be gone, and be all ways away.

Are you sure
That we are awake? It seems to me
That yet we sleep, we dream...

All from A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

I'd like to play along at Moo-Mania and More where they are having a Butterflies challenge
At Try It On Tuesday the theme is Wish You Were Here - I'd love to visit this enchanted forest!
At Country View Challenges they are looking for Texture this month
It's Anything Goes (as long as it's a tag of course!) over at Tag Tuesday
The More Mixed Media Challenge is an Anything Goes with optional Bright - I've got light rather than bright
And it's also Anything Mixed Media Goes at the Creative Artiste Challenge Blog