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...

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Everyone could see that there was chalk dust...

Hello all!  It's a very exciting day for Artistic Outpost fans... it's time for the latest stamp release, and they're fantastic if you're a word-fan like me!  Here's my offering for today, a tag trio combining the new stamps with some of my absolute favourites.

There are two fabulous new sets to admire: Chalk Wisdom and Chalk It Up.

Chalk Wisdom has delicious quotes and sayings, as well as some other chalky bits and pieces...

... while Chalk It Up has wonderful frames and curlicues with which to adorn them.  And, as always, they combine brilliantly with the other AO stamp sets.

Do hop round to see what my fabulous team-mates have been creating; here's the full line-up:

I was almost too late for this particular party.  Because I was working away from home last week, I missed the postman when he brought the precious package... and then the Bank Holiday meant I couldn't even go and pick the stamps up until first thing yesterday morning.

So, I'll admit I haven't got the full complement of projects yet, but I hope you like this first little play with the stamps.

And let me show you the rest of the results of my playing... you can see there'll be lots more to come in the next days and weeks!

I'd done some searching on chalkboard techniques so that I'd be ready to leap into action as soon as the stamps arrived.

In the end - I found myself combining various bits of information and advice from all over to fit with the ingredients I had to hand.

So, my pretty simple recipe was: some black card, Wow SuperFine Bright White embossing powder, Versamark ink, and an Ingvild Bolme chalk edger (seemed appropriate!).

Since I was on a really tight deadline, I grabbed some ready-inked tags from a previous play session.  They're mainly made using wrinkle-free distress technique with combinations of Distress Inks, Paints and Stains, though I'm not sure of chapter and verse on the particular colours any longer, I'm afraid.

And there are no prizes for guessing which stamp sets I reached for under pressure: Think and Wonder and Generation Redux never let me down - though there's a guest spot for one other too.

The wonderful brother and sister from Think and Wonder take centre stage on the pink/orange tag.  

(I think if I were allowed only one AO stamp set on my desert island, it would be this one.)

I used a white pencil to highlight their faces with a slightly chalky look.

I love the background lettering behind them... 

The two of them were the perfect complement to this particular sentiment from Chalk Wisdom. I like these corner flourishes, from the Chalk It Up plate, though it took me two goes to get them where I wanted them.  

I used the white pencil again just to add some chalky outlines round the lettering.

The pencils are the interlopers here, making a Guest Appearance from the Secretary Pool set!

I dyed some seam binding with Worn Lipstick, Spiced Marmalade and Picked Raspberry, and that seems to match the tag, so I'm guessing at least some of those were involved originally too.  

A bit of Idea-ology paper string finishes off the topping.

The Coffee Guys from Generation Redux are the next to put in an appearance...

Again, I've given them chalky faces, partly to dilute the vivid green which frankly made the man on the left look a little bit Wicked Witch of the West.

Love the powerful sentiment, and the flourishes top and bottom are part of one of the frames from the Chalk It Up set.  

I mounted all the chalkboards on padded tape to give a little pop of dimension to the new stamps we're here to admire!

The extra stamping at the foot of the tag is done with other Generation Redux stamps - the bubble wrap and those fabulous numbers.

And the topping here is seam binding dyed with Mowed Lawn, Salty Ocean and Broken China, and tied with the same double bow of paper string.

Finally, the wonderful schoolmistress from Generation Redux was pressed into service.

I'm not sure why I think of her as a schoolmistress... the text behind her?  I don't know: is it just me?

I adore this sentiment - what a brilliant thought - and no extra framing on this one, just a good old edging with the Chalk Edger.

I'm also more than a little bit in love with the teeny tiny hedgerow grasses from the same set... they often put in an appearance.

And this seam binding has Stormy Sky, Weathered Wood and a touch of Faded Jeans about it. 

So three very speedy and pretty simple tags and, as I say, I'll have more projects to share with you over the next wee while.  

I hope you'll have time to hop around and leave my team-mates some love... should you get lost along the way, you'll find all the details here at Artistic Outpost.

For now, thank you so much for stopping by.  I'm off to Coventry on Thursday to play with Tim Holtz - wheeeee!! - as well as to meet some of you face to face, so I'm buzzing, as you might imagine, and I'll see you when I get back.

Chalk dust... everyone could see that there was chalk dust.
From the song Chalk Dust - The Umpire Strikes Back

Just a non-crafty side note on the post title... 
I'm afraid I gave in to an irresistible urge!  My immediate word association links are chalk > dust> John McEnroe... 

I'm going to date myself here - but I can remember so clearly the teenage McEnroe exploding into the world of tennis.  Sure, there were already some hot tempers around - Connors, Nastase - but, as a fan of the Iceman, Bjorn Borg (and later of the other cool-as-a-cucumber gods of the game, Sampras and Federer), I remember being shocked at the tantrums JM could throw on court.  

They were so notorious they spawned a (with hindsight pretty poor) McEnroe "rap", which is the source of my post title, as well as a still brilliant sketch on Not The Nine O'Clock News.  It won't make any sense if you only know JM as the suave commentator he now is, but if you remember the temper tantrums it's hilarious! 

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Lonely Leaf

Hello all, and welcome to Words and Pictures.  My profound apologies that I'm so behind with visiting you all.  After my internet meltdown, I then had a couple of weeks where work made any crafting or crafty-visiting virtually impossible... but I'm doing my best, and I hope to get back on track very soon.

You've arrived in time for the new challenge over at Fun With ATCs - and an unusual creation for me.  

The theme is Black, White and Red, and regulars will know that's not exactly my comfort zone!  

So, I thought: "Well, if it's going to be different, let's make it really different!"  So here it is...

I used one of Ranger's Specialty Stamping Paper ATCs, and stamped Tim Holtz's bare branches in Jet Black Archival.

That got a good blast from the heat tool to make sure it was dry before I stamped the word 'alone', using the little Hero Arts alphabet set.

For the leaf, I saturated a bit of leftover card with Cherry Pie Dylusions Spray, and then used a little leaf punch I bought in Norway a few months ago, when I did some work over there.  

It was pretty much the only thing I could afford (small bottle of Diet Coke £4.50!?!).

I brushed the sides of the ATC across the surface of the Archival ink pad to give a little definition around the edges, and that was pretty much that.

I hope you like my 'hop out of kin' project.  

You can find more inspiration from my brilliant team-mates for this fortnight's challenge over at Fun With ATCs, and I hope you'll find time to join in with our Black, White and Red theme.  Can't wait to see what you create.

For now, thank you so much for stopping by... and I really hope I'll be round to visit you very soon!

And something a bit different here too:

What's black and white and red all over?
A blushing zebra

What's black and white and read all over?
A newspaper

What's black and white and black and white and black and white and black and blue?
A penguin falling downstairs

If you'd prefer something a little more in my usual vein, you'll find the Coffee Guys over at
Artistic Outpost today - just in case you missed them the first time around!

Saturday 24 August 2013

Just a quick look...

Hello everyone, lovely to see you!  

So, I promised you rusted muslin, and here it is, but it's sneak peek time only here at Words and Pictures again, I fear.  

If you want to have a look inside this little book, you'll need to head on over to The Artistic Stamper Creative Team Blog.

I hope you like what you find there!

Thanks so much for taking the time, and I'll see you again soon.

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.
Iris Murdoch

Thursday 22 August 2013

Skeleton Leaves

Hello all!  Thank you so much for taking the time to drop in.

We seem to be in a bit of a Memento Mori vibe here at Words and Pictures at the moment: death and ghostliness abound... as well as lots of masking.

After yesterday's Ghosts in the Machine, today I'm back with another of my all-time favourite stamps - the fabulous skull from Tim Holtz's Apothecary set.

And he's been brought into action for my version of Tim's fabulous August tags...

As you can see, I've used different images, but otherwise I've stuck pretty closely to the techniques and products used, so you can find out how it's all done from Tim himself by clicking here.

I knew from the start that I wanted to play with the skull - he really is an absolute favourite of mine.

And having recently raked in the Tattered Leaves stamps on an ebay auction, I thought that the two things would go together rather well... some "skeleton leaves".

I had a bit of a struggle with this one, to be honest.  Even though I would consider stamping my first love in all this world of crafty possibility, I couldn't get this one to fly.  

While I am pretty pleased with the end result, it didn't come easy!

(The small maple leaf from the Tattered Leaves, and my favourite script stamp - the one from the Apothecary set - form the rest of my background stamping.)

In fact, my original plan was for four co-ordinating tags, but they fell by the wayside, one by one, as plans went awry or stamping went wrong, until I was left with this single, solitary one.

So I now have lots of leaf masks all ready for the autumnal crafting season.  

I remember really enjoying creating with the autumn colours last year (in my first seasonal cycle of crafting), but I'm a bit sad that I seem to be heading there already, given it's still only August.

Really, I'd like a bit more summer sun... but there's a definite chill in the morning air round my way these days - generally a sure sign that the autumn's not far off.

I was happy to get the golden glow of some August sunshine to help out with the photos for this tag, though.  

And they're promising us a nice day tomorrow, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed... though the crafty deadlines are mounting up!

Thank you so much for your always uplifting feedback and comments... this crafty journey simply wouldn't be the same without you all.  

Hope you're all having a great week.

Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.
Rabindranath Tagore

Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.
Albert Schweitzer

I'm entering this as my August tag into Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of 2013

Wednesday 21 August 2013

The Ghosts in the Machine

Hello and welcome, everyone - and an especially big welcome to the newest followers... it's lovely to have you with us.

You've arrived just in time for the monthly Artistic Outpost bloghop, and our theme this month - to get you in the mood a little early - is Halloween.

Do hop around to see what my amazing fellow designers have been up to.  Here's the full itinerary:

Artistic Outpost has some delicious Halloween sets, but it so happens that I don't own any of them (yet!), so I got creative with some of my other AO stamps to create my ghostly tag.

To be honest, I've always found the little girl from the Kudzu Kafe set more than slightly unnerving, so she was my first choice.  

And I figured, well, if one of her is unnerving, how spooky would several of her all at once be?!

I started by sticking a book page to a tag, and then used Linda's technique of stripping away some of the text using masking tape, so that it would be even more distressed and shabby.

Then I gave the whole thing a rough coat of gesso so that the stamping would show up better.

I stamped the little girl in black Archival, and then stamped her again on another piece of paper so that I could cut a mask to use.

I layered up several versions of her, using second and third generation stampings to get varying ghostly transparencies.

I played with Distress Stains and a water brush to tint the main figure.  

Those in the background got a touch of colour too, but again, in paler and paler variations.

The little phrase was hovering in my mind - I've Googled it, and it doesn't seem to exist as a quote, so I suppose I must have cooked it up myself... 

There's something in it about those internal voices, or the other versions of ourselves that hover in and out of view at various points in our lives, haunting us with the possibility of other life choices we might have made, or might still make.  

The larger tag behind has actually been sitting around since April - it was one of my experiments with the Metallic Distress Paint background for Tim's tag that month.  It wasn't quite right for my tag at the time, but I still quite liked it, with all those swirls of Pewter shimmer.

Since I was working with spooky blues, it suddenly became clear that maybe its time had come.  I added some text stamping using the book text from the Bluebird set, so that it would match up with the book page background of the smaller tag.

And having added text to make the large tag more like the small one, I then added some blue inking and some Aged Silver Frantage to the small tag to make it more like the big one... 

The Frantage is sort of like internal ectoplasm, maybe?!

The cogs and gears arrived because the other words running around my head were "the ghost in the machine".

It's a phrase used in philosophy to question the notion that in some way our mind and body operate separately - as though the mind were somehow a separate entity trying to tell the body (machine) what to do, and not perhaps always with the body's best interests at heart.

With all my internal ghosts, it seemed right to add some machinery for them to operate.

A little topper of broad white paper ribbon and satiny grey ribbon tied together with some of the Idea-ology paper string is the finishing touch.

So there's my slightly off-beat, philosophical Halloween tag... Do go and have a look what my team-mates have been up to - I promise you won't regret it.  If you get lost along the way, you'll find all the details here.

For now, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by, and I'll see you soon somewhere out there in Craftyblogland.

The past is a ghost, the future a dream and all we ever have is now.
Bill Cosby

She walked with a ghost of herself, one full of potential and possibility. One who was fearless. Where had that girl gone?
From Vision in White, by Nora Roberts

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Tea Dye and Rusty Hinge

Hello all... a process post today.  

If you saw my recycled Stampotique tag, you'll remember all the rusty loveliness involved, and I promised to show you some pictures of it all being created... and with the more recent Coffee Guys, as well as the Words, Words, Words tag, some of you are champing at the bit to know how it's done - well here you go!

I have to admit, it's no great technique on my part... just a really, really good product.

My real plan for the day was to do some tea-dyeing (with some coffee thrown in for good measure), the rusting was an afterthought.  But they add up to a pretty good post title, no?  (Tim Holtz Distress Colours if there's anyone out there that doesn't recognise them...)

It was on a day a few weeks ago when I was feeling a little low on mojo.  I knew I wanted some more tea/coffee stained tags for an upcoming project, so it seemed like a good day to do that.

And I thought I'd experiment with the Crafty Notions Rusting Powder while I was at it.

I'm happy to say that all the messing around gave me a good shot in the arm mojo-wise too...

I added a couple of tea bags as well as a spoonful of instant coffee to a bowl of boiling water and put in the tags to soak for a few hours.  

Once that was done, I added some seam binding, a bit of lace (in a slightly strange peach colour that I couldn't see me ever using) as well as some white satin ribbon that I got ages ago, and is just too shiny and boring for my liking, so I thought I'd see if I could shabby it up a bit.

Very happy with the tags - you've already seen them used for my reluctant Christmas tags - and with some of the ribbons.  

The satiny stuff barely took any colour - they do now have a very delicately off-white appearance in places.  

Lying in a big bundle, they look quite good, but as soon as you cut a bit off and use it, it pretty much just looks white again... ah well, back to the drawing board with that.

For the rusting, I used Crafty Notions Rust Powder and, having lost the instructions that came with it, I consulted this very useful post from the brilliant Kim Dellow.

(The banana is not a necessary ingredient.)

I didn't remember to do very comprehensive "before" pictures on the first batch, but I did get one of the peachy plastic roses which, I think, are one of the biggest successes.

And I love the rusted material - you've seen that too already, on Rough Around The Edges, and as the tag topping for the Words, Words, Words tag.  

Watch this space for it playing a major role on a project coming later this week...

But I've got before, during and after for the second go...

Here it all is, awaiting the powder.  

Annoyingly, I forgot to soak the muslin before starting this time, so the material itself didn't work quite as well this time around.

Then, after applying glue stick or multi-medium to the surfaces, I sprinkled the grey powder over everything, or dipped the things into a small bowl of it.  

Bit mucky, but isn't everything that's fun?

I put cheap white vinegar into a little spray bottle and used that to spritz everything.  

Interesting smell... probably a good idea to do this somewhere well-ventilated!

I love how quickly it starts working... though I actually left it to dry overnight.

And I'm really happy with most of the results.  

I probably didn't get quite enough glue onto the the washers, so some of them are only partially rusted, but I quite like that too.

And the Idea-ology flowers and bookplates look completely yummy...

And those peachy plastic roses - how cool are they now?!

As you can see, I've rusted quite a lot of stuff, so you can expect to see it popping up every now and then!

Thanks so much for stopping by this week, and all your lovely comments - as always, every single one is so much appreciated.  Happy Crafting!

Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week.
Joseph Addison

A sword, a spade and a thought should never be allowed to rust.
James Stephens

Oh, and for anyone who missed my Pink and Girly blip a couple of weeks ago... you can catch up with it today over at Artistic Outpost!