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...

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Journey towards yourself

Hello everyone - it's another catch-up post here today... collecting in another of my projects from my February stint as Guest Designer at The Artistic Stamper, so that I have it safely in my virtual scrapbook here at Words and Pictures.  

So, again, please don't feel you have to comment all over again - I'm so grateful for your warm support already over at Artistic Stamper.  This was the second piece I created... a philosophical suitcase!

Lots of inky fun in making this one, Distress Inks, Perfect Pearls, Distress Stains galore, and gorgeous stamps from several different Artistic Stamper plates, with the main focus on the glorious Gibson Girls.  (All the ingredients are at the foot of the post, with links to take you straight to them.)

Despite all the fun, the project has ended up having a slightly melancholy, or at least contemplative, "story" to it, which wasn't where I'd planned for it to go at all.  

But these creations sometimes have a mind of their own it seems.

I've always loved Charles Dana Gibson's drawings of turn of the century American girls, it wasn't until I was stamping and looking in detail at these particular images that I realised that, for me, they also have a definite sadness within them.

I started with the fabulous Vintage Valise die from Tim Holtz, cutting the main body of the suitcase from the Kraft Resist sheet of the world map.  

I daubed Distress Stains in various blues along with Picket Fence direct onto my craft map, and swept the kraft resist paper through it until I liked the look of it.

Using the Picket Fence means that the blues keep their colour integrity better than if you use them on kraft by themselves, which can make them look slightly greeny.  

The strappings were cut from Kraft-Core, sanded and inked, and I used tiny brads to attach the strap holders (which I used the other way up to get the plain kraft side, inked).

The luggage label comes from the AS Labels plate, and encourages journeys of all kinds: Seek, Question, Explore the outside world, and the inside one.

I wanted to be able to put things "inside" my suitcase, so - having done two virtually identical cases - I had to work out a way of creating a pocket, preferably one stable enough to allow the suitcase to stand up...

Let's hear it for ice lolly sticks (that's popsicles if you're here from across the water) - one of the most useful things to have in any craft stash! 

I used two (one cut in half) to form a framework inside the suitcase, glued with Glossy Accents, and left overnight to be sure of a good firm hold.

At this point, I was thinking that I would fill the case with tags depicting a young girl travelling the world, exploring, discovering and generally having a fantastic time.  

But, as I said, as I stamped the various images, they started to tell me a very different story.  And the voyage became less an actual journey, but a journey of exploration into the girl's inner self.

So there are two sides to each tag... the front, which just shows you the surface, the exterior, and then - when you turn over - the interior questions bubble to the surface, revealing what's going on behind the eyes.  

I honestly didn't try to think up any of these phrases; they arose as I was inking each tag - they seemed to come from the girl(s) themselves.

I started with luggage labels which had previously been stained with tea and coffee, which gives them a wonderful vintage feel straight away.  

Once the images were stamped, I blended Chipped Sapphire, Stormy Sky, Vintage Photo and Wild Honey Distress Inks onto the tags.  

I've been careful to leave at least the faces un-inked by extra colour, so that they stand out at the centre of each tag.

I spritzed and flicked with water after inking, and then finally added some gilding by spritzing Perfect Pearls Mist in Heirloom Gold onto the mat and splodging the tags onto it - again avoiding the faces, so that you'd be able to "read" what's going on inside.

And each tag has some additional stamping to complement the story of that particular Gibson Girl.

So there's the woman reading her letter...  I stamped her in Coffee Archival both on the tag and on a separate piece of paper so that I could cut a mask.  

And then I stamped the Calligraphy Mat around her, using Cobalt, to represent the letter she's reading.

I haven't examined the Italian in close detail but in my "story", it's a love letter from an Italian count, approved by the girl's parents as a suitor to her hand.  Everything is tumbling forwards towards the wedding at great speed.

But in the angle of her head and the weight of her shoulders it's clear that for her it's not so clear cut, and so on the opposite side the question reveals itself, lurking in the corner, in the depths of her mind:  Yes, but do I love him?

The woman with the book - to me it seems like a musical score; she's holding it at exactly the angle to read or sing from as a performer - has a look as though she's just heard something, but is not sure what.  

On the reverse, we see that this is not the first time:  Sometimes I wonder... Does no-one hear the same music I hear?

She's masked again, and this time it's music which is floating in her mind.  

The music stamp isn't the AS one, I'm afraid, but they do have a marvellous music manuscript background so I've popped a link to that at the foot of the page.

The girl with the glorious hair piled high has a look which you could mistake for arrogance or disdain, but when you look again, there's a pain and a defensiveness somewhere at the heart of it... the chin just a little too lifted, the eyelids just a little too hooded, hidden.

She shares her secrets with us on the reverse, surrounded by flower images from Botanical Plate #1: My beauty is not all there is to me.

The utter dejection and exhaustion is easy to read in the girl resting her head on her hands.  

She's probably the one who started me off looking more closely at the others.  Again I cut a mask so that I could stamp the Europe Map Background around her.

I positioned it so that you actually get a slightly removed masking effect - the thoughts hover a little way away from the main image of the thinker.  

Her question is clear... in all the travelling, in all the bustle of society events, where does she belong, how does she fit in:  Where is my home?

And finally the wonderful image of the girl seated on the floor, her skirts pooled around her, in a moment's respite from the social whirl of arrival at a new hotel (the beautiful vintage hotel stamp again from the Labels plate, dining, dancing).

There's such a yearning in the angle of her body, leaning forward, listening intently as though to catch the meaning of life, the universe and everything, on the brink of discovery:  Sometimes I can almost understand why.

For the tag trimmings I used Chipped Sapphire and Stormy Sky Distress Stains to tint lots of seam binding, and Vintage Photo and Antique Linen to alter the slightly pinkish tones of some lace from my stash.  

I knew these would all be peeking out of the top of the case, so they needed to tone with the suitcase colours too.

Wow... a longer post than ever - sorry!!  I planned to come up with something very simple for my final project at the end of February... two photos max!  But it didn't quite work out like that - though it wasn't such a marathon as this.  It'll be along soon here at Words and Pictures.

Thank you so much for taking the time if you've made it this far, and I hope you've enjoyed the journey.

Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart.  Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
C.G. Jung

Click to go shopping:
Ingredients: Gibson Girls Plate #1Calligraphic Mat #19Europe Map BackgroundMusic BackgroundBotanical Plate #1LabelsVintage Valise dieKraft Resist Paper StashKraft-Core;  Distress Inks: Chipped Sapphire, Stormy Sky, Vintage Photo, Wild HoneyDistress Stains: Antique Linen, Chipped Sapphire, Picket Fence, Stormy Sky, Vintage Photo; Archival Inks: Cobalt, Coffee; Perfect Pearls Mist: Heirloom GoldSeam binding;


Brenda Brown said...

The images do indeed reflect tinges of sadness in the girls eyes but your tags and suitcase are wonderful works of art, just beautiful.
I hope you had a good day at the craft barn yesterday. I shall be off later to go and watch the demonstrations, I hope you had a good visit with your cousin too.
Happy Sunday.
hugs {brenda} x0x

Ana K. said...

Hi Alison, it seems my comments are always the same, but what should I say for this beauty and with my poor English...very creative and unique pieces!!!
Thank you for sharing the process...btw, I also use coffee and tea to reach nice vintage look...

Victoria said...

As I didn't comment the first time, I don't mind commenting 'again'. Simply love the concept of this design and superb execution as always. Always a pleasure to visit your blog :)

chrissie said...

This is so worth another comment Alison as are all of your makes. Must admit this did inspire me to make one of my projects though mine looked completely different. I am truly grateful for the inspiration I get when I visit your blog

Love Chrissie xx

Astrid Maclean said...

I'd quite forgotten the suitcase but I remember the Gibson girls :) It was a fabulous project!

Von said...

Wow Alison brill project and love the Gibbon stamps so versatile :)
Von ♥

Helen said...

It was outstanding then and it is again today!!

Rita said...

How fabulous Alison. Your work is unbelievable, always so much to see and the textures are wonderful. Enjoy your Day. Hugs Rita xxx

brenda said...

What can I say Alison other than totally inspirational and of course I love the colour away, I always think blues and browns were made for each other.

Hope you have a good Sunday and get some sunshine.

B x

Netty said...

Great tags which reflect the girl's emotional journey. I also love the map that you covered the suitcase with. Am sure she would have a couple of handkerchiefs in there as well to wipe away her tears. xx

Valerie-Jael said...

Wonderful project! Emotions change - sometimes sad, sometimes happy! Valerie

Krisha said...

Hi Alison,
Such a wonderful and inspiring project. I LOVE the tags. I have some Gibson Girl stamps and never realized they do have a sadness about them.
Thanks for sharing.

froebelsternchen said...

oh .. a treasure! AMAZING!

Silvia(Barnie) said...

How cool, that's a wonderful project, fabulous details.

Marjie Kemper said...

This is so gorgeous.... love the map and all the sweet tags... a fabulous make!

ria gall said...

Hi Alison
I have read through this and feel that I have seen into each girls soul and that I know their story.
What a beautiful and stunning project that is so much more than it looks.
The whole feel of this piece is of love, romance, loss and it has a wonderful vintage feel to it.
Really BEAUTIFUL thank you for sharing

Jenny Marples said...

Loved this when it first came out. There are some seriously useful and 'go to' stamp sets at The Artistic Stamper. Hugs, Jenny x

Annie said...

What fabulously creative make Alison. I love every aspect of it.

My favourite colour palette with equally stunning images. TFS

Annie x

Margaret said...

Oh, I do love this! The tags are fabulous and so expressive and I love the straps on the suitcase! Just gorgeous!!

Dorthe said...

An amazing project Alison,- you are a wonderful artist indeed!
The Gibson girls are wonderful, and so are your thoughts behind your creation!! Everything sp beautifully made!

craftytrog said...

So lovely to re-visit this project again Alison! It's one of my favourites that you've created!
Great to finally meet you yesterday, hope to do so again soon.
Alison xx

May said...

It's always a pleasure to re-visit your wonderful work Alison...Fabulous images & the suitcase is amazing work... Happy Sunday... Hugs May x x x

Barb S said...

Hello, Allison, I am a new follower having followed a link over from Tim Holtz' blog. I love your work...such wonderful creativity and talent you have! I also love the quotes each day and shades of blue and brown together are my absolute favorites. I look forward to your posts...thank you for sharing!

Barb S said...

Hello, Allison, I am a new follower having followed a link over from Tim Holtz' blog. I love your work...such wonderful creativity and talent you have! I also love the quotes each day and shades of blue and brown together are my absolute favorites. I look forward to your posts...thank you for sharing!

cathylynn said...

Beauty surrounding more beauty! Great way to store the precious tags Alison. I love your travel case and reading your blog made me look even deeper into each image. This is a brilliant collection that you put together and I love it all!
Hugs, Cathy-Lynn

catherine said...

This looks so fabulous Alison and so beautifully Created. love all the tags too. You are so very talented!!
x catherine

Nan G said...

Gorgeous all over again!

Cathy L. Calamas said...

Beautiful tags, really quite stunning in a soft unassuming way. I think the Art Deco girls have the same melancholy look. I love it though, gives the image such depth.

Keren Tamir said...

wow Alison I'm speechless! what an amazing project!! love the suitcase idea and the meaning behind it!! bravo!! amazing work!

Meihsia Liu said...

Woooo.. this is such a fantastic project, Alison. Love all the gorgeous details on the suitcase. ^_^

Anita Houston The Artful Maven said...

I LOVE this!!! The suitcase is awesome and all the tags are just gorgeous too! Fabulous stunning project!

2amscrapper said...

stunning work!

Dianne said...

This was the first thing I saw you make and I was instantly a fan of your work. I'm so glad you posted it again with all the fabulous photos and description of your make. I'm off to swim but will be back to look and read it. Thanks for sharing it again Alison. Hope your having a great day..

PetraB said...

fabulous work, love the case1

barbarayaya62 said...

This is a fantastic project!!!!!! All the image are beautiful, colors ,details! you're an artist!!!!

Elly said...

Awesome and a pefect match of colours. (:o)

Fliss said...

Wow Alison! An absolutely stunning creation. So beautifully shabby chic and such lovely vintage ladies too.
Loved your little story behind the ladies too.
Sorry to be missing lately and thank you so much for your lovely comments.
Hugs, Fliss xx

Kelly said...

Love your project, you can never show us too much as I love the creations you make. I love the blues and brown tones and the map is really nice. I also love the tags, the colors are so beautiful and muted they match the mood of each lady. I enjoy your words about the images. Great blog post!!
Hugs, Kelly

Hettie said...

Fabulous case of goodies here Alison. I love this die and often make my little journals to take on holiday with this but your idea of lollipop sticks is fabulous. Must try that.
I agree that the lady does look sad, but she is also beautiful!

Paper Profusion said...

Wonderful to see this again Alison - it is like a good wine and looks even better this time round. Your accompanying narrative is superb too. I hope all is well with you. Nicola x

Kate Yetter said...

This is fabulous! I love the suitcase with the gorgeous tags. My favorite is the map on the front. An amazing piece of art!

Annette Green said...

I'm so glad I took the time to catch up on visiting your blog. This piece is so awesome. I love everything about it.

Sue said...

This is beautiful Alison, I really love your tags and the meaning you have given to them. I wondered why they were called Gibson Girls, and now I know xx

Kjersti said...

Gorgeous work, love it!
Hugs Kjersti:)

Unknown said...

Fantastic projects Alison! I love the tags and your case. The colors are wonderful together and I'm inspired to make a case now. ;) Hope you have a great day! Hugs

Nicecrane Designs said...

OMG Alison,,, love the vintage tags,,,,,,these inspired me to create my own ladies set,,,,,,waht a creative idea you was,,,,,,lvoe them....thankssssssss a million.....you inspired me.

Anonymous said...

Ein fantastisches Set! Da past mal wieder alles super zusammen! Ich merke, blau- braun hat was. Muss ich mich auch mal ranwagen. Die Kofferstanze gefällt mir natürlich auch mal wieder....

LG siljan

Anke said...

WOW WOW WOW absolutely stunning Alison, fantastic work.


Mrs.B said...

Hi Alison, just catching up after my hols - This is a beautiful project - your sentiment for each lady really does seem to reflect the look in their eyes.
Avril xx

Unknown said...

Wow, so many great pieces! This is beautiful and such a fab idea, love it! Great work! Chris xxx

Anonymous said...

OMG you are so talented!!. Just popped in to say hi and for a catch up. Amazing projects as always.
Crafty Hugs,
Florence x

HeARTworks said...

Adorable! Truly a work of heART! Patsy from

Kezzy said...

Wow wow stunning gorgeous tag case. How you think of these is amazing. I really love the vintage colours and how each individual tags make up an awesome piece of art :-) hugs Kezzy xxx