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 30 November 2013

Be Merry!

Hello all.  I'm feeling pretty merry: two Funkie Junkie inspired posts in a week... I might manage the whole 12 Tags of Christmas yet!

But, in a move that could cause chaos (only for me, it's okay), I've leapt out of order.  I did my Number 1, and now this is my version of Number 8.  

This could mean I end up with three of one and none of some others, unless I keep a very tight rein on things.  But this was the one that caught my attention next, so I yielded to temptation.

It runs pretty close to Linda's original, but I've used Artistic Outpost stamps to create mine.

If you haven't yet joined in, there is still time.  This is only my second piece, and we have until 22nd December to get them all done.  The competition details are all here with Tag 1, and there are prizes sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique (well worth a visit anyway if you've never been - lots of AO stamps, quite apart from all the other lovely stuff).

So, I did the background pretty much following Linda's instructions - but my snowflakes are from Snowy Woods (the large ones) and Sleigh Ride (the small ones).

My Father Christmas (from Snowy Woods again) is stamped on book paper with a wash of Vanilla Fresco paint over it.

The sentiment is also from Snowy Woods, with a little touch of the fir branch from the same set.

I don't have a snowflake die or punch, though I'm sorely tempted by the one Linda used, so I used some little Studio Calico wooden stars to add interest.

I loved the touch of the little rusty bell, so I added one of my own, tied with fine twine.

And the same twine fastens the very subtly inked seam binding at the top.

Somehow it needed a bit more length, so I decided to use the Vintage Lace Decorative Strip Die on another book page and inked that to add to the foot of the tag.  

And we're done!

I'm entering this as Tag 8 in the Funkie Junkie 12 Tags of Christmas, sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique

A merry heart doeth good like medicine.
King Solomon

Wednesday 27 November 2013

A Chalky Christmas

Hello all, lovely to have you stop by.  I'm here with my creation(s) inspired by Tim's fabulous November tag.

Yes, I know that's a canvas, not a tag... this is a tag! 

But once I had the bit between my teeth with the chalk technique, having lots of fun, I found it taking on a life of its own and demanding a larger canvas, so that's what I gave it.

And it was weird but rather nice, when I went blog-visiting at the end of the day when I'd been making my carollers, to find that the fabulous Brenda over at Bumblebees and Butterflies had been up to something very similar with them!  Great minds, you see...

First up, though, the tag which started the whole thing off - and I pretty much played it straight with this.  I don't have any of the stamp/die sets so I went with one of my all-time favourite Tim stamps which also has that lovely writing around the outside, similar to the blueprints.

Love the effect of the layered wings - and the new Idea-ology linen ribbon seemed like the perfect simple finish.

Given the time of year, though, my brain immediately went to the snowy possibilities of this chalk technique, so I grabbed some black card and started cutting wintry dies with the BigShot.

The carollers got the full stamping treatment, using the lovely handwritten music from the Joyful Song set.

But for the lamp post and the house I used a paintbrush to scoop excess embossing ink from round the edge of my pad and apply it just where the snow would sit...

...on roofs and ledges and sills and edges.

Then I chalked it all up - and I love the snowy results.

I needed somewhere for all my chalkboard elements to live so I grabbed an A4 canvas and glued some tissue wrap over the whole thing.

I used Gelatos to create most of the sky and snowscape.  (I was lucky enough to go and play with them for the first time at a Craft Barn workshop with the lovely Chris Dark of the Sketching Stamper recently - more of that and what I made then another time.)

I added some of Tim's little trees, stamped with Cobalt Archival so that they would stay put whatever else I decided to do later.

I did have to slightly remove the trunks with another wash of paint.

And regulars will understand that I simply had to carry them on round the sides too, of course.

Up in the sky I added some white embossed snowflakes, later giving them a dusting of Rock Candy Dry Glitter too.

I've only just started catching up with some of the CC102 techniques (stupidly timed house-moving!), so it's lovely to get this chalky one under my belt via this November tag - but I knew I had a use for another of them.

I'd seen the crackle-glazed glass turning up around Craftyblogland, and wanted to use it in my lantern glass.

I used some leftover acetate packaging for the technique, and coloured the card behind it with Gelatos to give the idea of the glowing flame.

Once it was all glued in place, I added a thick coat of Glossy Accents over the top of the "glass" to give it a bit of extra dimension.

I do rather like the echo of Narnia with the lamp post among the trees!  

And I'm pretty pleased with the white Gelato shading to show the gleam of the light its giving off.

There's also Glossy Accents doing the job of glass in the windows of the little house.  And Gelatos again to create the warm golden glow from inside.

Some of that glow spills out onto the snow and the garden "path" of Chitchat stickers... 

... so that they are warmed by the light too.

I did lots of shading using Distress Markers around the carollers and the other elements, to try to embed them into the landscape.

I do love these two - and given that I love creating things inspired by music, I hope they'll put in appearances year round, not only at Christmas.

The panel at the centre uses one of the Mini Holidays stamps (I now "need" the large version!!), stamped on Specialty Stamping paper and then covered over with Rock Candy Dry Glitter.  I'm not a glittery type in general, but this stuff... lovely!

I added some more music stamping to the snow too...

... as well as some flourishes stamped in Weathered Wood and embossed with the Frosted Crystal powder.  

They're so subtle as to be almost subliminal, but I rather like them swirling in the snow drifts.

There's a dusting of Rock Candy Dry Glitter over the snow and throughout the night sky, so that the canvas really sparkles as you move it in the light - not so easy to catch with a camera, but I hope you get the idea from some of the photos.

So there you have it... my chalky Christmas.  I hope you like it.  Thank you, Tim, for the inspiration that took me off on this unexpected journey - not my usual thing, but so much fun to play! 

I'd like to enter this as my November "tag" in Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of 2013 - can't believe there's only one more.

I'm also thrilled that this can double as my first contribution to the Funkie Junkie's 12 Tags of Christmas, sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique; inspired as it is by the chalkboard technique on Tag 1, by the fabulous Linda Coughlin.  A canvas, rather than a tag, but the rules do say it can be any kind of Christmas creation. I don't know if I'm going to make it to all twelve, but I'm going to try!! 

And the Christmas Carol service is the real start of Christmas for me, so the rehearsals are one way of counting down the time left to go - as well as counting the beat of the music, of course! - so I'd like to pop this in over at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge where the theme is Countdown to the Holidays.

Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped itself about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart...filled it, too, with melody that would last forever.
From Song of Years by Bess Streeter Aldrich

There is a Christmas song upon the air,
There is a joy innate within the heart;
An inner sense of peace, a holy light
Illumines life and sets these days apart.
From A Song Upon The Air by Edna Greene Hines

Tuesday 26 November 2013

All Wrapped Up

Hello all... No, I'm afraid that's a little white lie - I don't have Christmas all wrapped up just yet!

But over at Artistic Outpost today you can see some of last year's gift-wrapping - done very simply, with natural ingredients.

And again - a very quick thing to do... it's important to me at Christmas that things don't take hours of time!!

By the way, thank you so much for your comments on the journalling pages - they made my heart sing!

Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it's much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!
Neil Gaiman

Sunday 24 November 2013

Write a little more often...

Hello again - second time today!  If you're looking for my autumnal Artistic Stamper project, you'll find it here.  It'd be lovely if you have time to go and take a look.

But I'm back with some journalling pages which grew out of a song that matters a great deal to me.

It's a long time since I've had time to play along with a challenge just because I like the look of it, but the moment I saw that the theme at Country View Challenges this month was Letters, I've had just one song going round in my brain: Marlene Dietrich's version of Marie, Marie.  And that's where these pages came from.

I grew up on Marlene Dietrich - she may not always hit the notes completely in tune, but my word the woman can sell the drama of a song.  And even before my French was up to much, I knew that there was something catastrophic going on in the story of this song. 

(Click here to hear the live in London version, which is the one I've always known.  Full lyrics and translation are at the foot of the post.)

As Marlene says, we hear a woman reading a letter sent to her by a man in prison.  We never learn his name; he refers to himself simply as his prison number, 14,200.  And he's telling her about life in prison, and asking - quite simply - for her to write to him more often.

Once my French improved, the drama became more mysterious.  We know nothing for certain...

Why is he in prison?  Were they lovers? (Surely, that's a yes.)  Why has she stopped writing so often?  Why is she apparently so unhappy that he's to be released soon?  And why is there such doubt over the release date?

Most of the words seem fairly innocuous - why does she break down over the fact that they have puddings on Sundays and fish on Fridays?

Has she met someone else and is feeling guilty?  Is that why she breaks down when she reads his humble words?  Or is she simply desperate that they can't be together?

All these mysteries keep me coming back to the song, over and over again, and the pure drama of Marlene's delivery (I'll even accept that it's slightly over the top, veering into melodrama... I don't care, it comes from a place of truth!) always takes me to the edge of tears too.

The two photos were selected from Darkroom Door's Photo Booth sheets - they work very well for me as Marie and 14,200.

And there are the folded letters which had been going to and fro, but now seem to be going mainly in one direction.

He's got a background of wire mesh or bars keeping him imprisoned...

... while she has soft, feminine lace.

And they each have a snippet of fabric with more letter-writing on it (and it's even in French - thank you Tim Holtz!).

The threads of the fabric are frayed and unravelling, as their relationship seems to be.

The whole background is made up of other letters...

Lots of texture over which I've let ink run like tears.

There's plenty of stamping too.

Parisian postmarks...

Handwritten script, some of it reverse-stamped in water to take ink off the page.  Letters you might wish unwritten, but you can't take them back.

And the words of course...

... that plea from the heart - "So write more often" - but so gently put; no recriminations, no blame, just a gentle request. 

(Apologies to the French speakers - I know the accent is missing from that first e, but the Idea-ology set doesn't include diacritics!)

So there are my pages.  I'm always so happy to hear your thoughts, so I'd love to know what you make of them. 

Thank you for spending some time here at Words and Pictures today, and I'll hope to return the visit very soon.

I'm entering this at Country View Crafts Challenges where the theme is Letters.
And with all those mysteries - what's he in for? why has she stopped writing? has she met someone else? - I'd also like to share it over at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge where It's A Mystery this week.

A Pâques ou à la Mi-Carême                                  At Easter or at Lent,
Quand je serai libéré                                                 When I will be released,
Lorsque j´aurai fini ma peine                                When I will have finished my sentence,
O que j´irai t´embrasser                                          Oh how I will kiss you.                                 

Dans notre jardin d´Angleterre                              In our English garden
Les roses ont dû refleurir                                          The roses have bloomed again;
Si tu en portais à ma mère                                        If you would take some to my mother
Ça me ferait bien plaisir                                            That would make me very happy.

Marie, Marie                                                                  Marie, Marie
Ecris donc plus souvent                                             Write, then, more often
Marie, Marie                                                                 Marie, Marie
Au quatorze mille deux cent                                     To Fourteen Thousand, Two Hundred

Je travaille à la bibliothèque                                  I work in the library,  
Je m´invente du bon temps                                     I pretend to have a good time;
J´ai pour amis tous les poètes                                I have, as friends, all the poets -
Baudelaire, Châteaubriand                                    Baudelaire, Châteaubriand.

Pour nous ici quoi qu´on en pense                         For us here, it's as you might think...
Ils sont vraiment très gentils                                   They really are very nice
On a du dessert le dimanche                                    There's pudding on Sundays
Poisson le vendredi                                                     And fish on Fridays

Marie, Marie                                                                  Marie, Marie
Ecris donc plus souvent                                            So write more often
Marie, Marie                                                                  Marie, Marie
Au quatorze mille deux cent                                     To Fourteen Thousand, Two Hundred

A Pâques ou à la Mi-Carême                                  At Easter or at Lent
Il reviendra bien le temps                                       There will be plenty of time again
Où tu pourras dire je t´aime                                    When you will be able to say, "I love you"
Au quatorze mille deux cent                                    To Fourteen Thousand, Two Hundred

Gilbert Bécaud