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...

Friday 30 May 2014

Queen Bee ATCs

Hello all!  It's time for a new challenge theme over at A Vintage Journey.  Our host this time is the fabulous Jenny, a.k.a. Buttons - and she has a real treat in store for us... she's challenging us to Get Some Texture!  To read the full challenge guidelines and see the amazing inspiration the rest of the team have conjured up for you, pop over to A Vintage Journey.

But, before you go, here's my offering to get your creative engines started...

This pair of ATCs is full of texture, using Tim techniques and products.  There's a Queen Bee/Royal Jelly kind of vibe going on, I think you'll find!

I stuck some of the amazing Wallpaper papers to some really thick card and cut them using the ATC and Corners die.  There's a lovely thickness and heft to this pair.

Over that I blended some Peeled Paint Distress Ink through the Latticework stencil (done on the left, not yet on the right!).

I added clear embossing powder and tapped the back pretty firmly so as to clear quite a lot of the powder before heating.  

That gives you a lovely pobbly effect, rather than smooth glossiness.

After some playtime with some moulds and UTEE, the crown and bee were left sitting around on the table for a couple of weeks awaiting a home...

... suddenly it looked as though they might have found one!

With them in mind, I stamped the large bee and the crown to complement the UTEE shapes.

They're stamped in Coffee and Jet Black Archival, blended onto the stamps as I went.

I added some flourishes in Peeled Paint, and all that stamping got clear-embossed too.

The two hearts are kraft glassine, embossed using the French Script folder, then sanded for even more texture and given a dusting of Picket Fence Distress Paint.

I used the Shattered Kraft Core to cut some strands of ivy from the Spring Greenery Decorative Strip Die, and followed Tim's excellent tip of sanding the die-cut before you remove it from the surround.  

Especially with a delicate die like this, it means you can distress without distress!

Once they were trailing across their respective ATCs, I glued them down by just the stalks, so that I could lift the leaves for a dimensional look.  I love the texture of the Shattered card.

Around the edges I added some Peeled Paint Distress Embossing Powder - this has such a great mossy look, and a rough touch to the fingertips once you've released the textured particles.

Everything got a dusting of Picket Fence, and then a splattering of the same.  The Liquitex Splatter Brush has been one of my favourite Tim recommendations - such fun to play with, and it adds such fabulous splashes of random texture!

A couple of ChitChat stickers and we're done. 

So that's my pair of ATCs for you.  Hop over to A Vintage Journey and see what the rest of the team are packing for this leg of the journey, and I hope you'll be inspired to come and play along with us this month.  

Do make sure you read the challenge guidelines carefully, as well as our Travelling Instructions, in order to qualify for the prize, generously sponsored by Country View Crafts.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I'll see you again soon, either here or elsewhere in Craftyblogland!

The men of experiment are like the ant; they only collect and use.  But the bee... gathers its materials from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own.
Leonardo Da Vinci

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Memento Mori

Hello all, an unexpected post today... well, unexpected for me at least.  I really didn't expect to fit in the Tim Holtz May tag, so this is a bonus!

I knew I'd be making it at some point as it's an absolutely beautiful piece of inspiration from Lord Holtz, but I thought that'd be somewhere down the road a way.

Quite apart from the time available, I've been feeling pretty Mojo-less.  That's not quite fair... my Mojo's been busy with the dollshouses, but that doesn't seem to leave much over.  

So it was a real pleasure to just sit down and let someone else do the thinking.  And oh boy, did I have fun playing with all that metal?!

So it's an even bigger thank you than usual to Tim, for giving me a couple of happy hours at my craft table, when that's been a rare commodity lately.

You'll notice one major change from Tim's tag (apart from not having the ShadowPress folders - yet).

As you'll see further on, I simply couldn't get an inky background that I was happy with so, since we were playing with the paper sizes, I decided to let some 12x12 in on the act too as my background.

With various things that are going on, I found myself reaching for objects to do with Time and with the things that are precious to me in my life - things I want to make sure play a big part as those seconds tick away.  How will you spend your time in this life?

It started to become a bit of a Memento Mori, a reminder of death - but in a positive way!  A reminder to make sure the things that matter to you are included in life on a daily basis.

So music and words are here, for starters in the background papers on the panels.  In a cliched kind of way, this key was perfect... these things are the key to a happy life for me - words, music, learning, and of course the crafty creativity.

I had the Rabindranath Tagore quote running through my head while I was making the tag: the butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough - another prompt to live in the moment and make the most of it.

So there are butterflies too... delicate filigree creatures, balanced on the edge of time.

This one is perched on some old watch parts - internal workings and an old pocket watch back, along with some other bits and bobs, including a lucky number 7.

The pen nib reminds us of the possibility of leaving something to endure - whether that's memoirs, music, art, writing, children, good works, happy memories - to leave you able to smile in the face of death.

The butterfly shape is echoed again in the lock I chose ready for opening with that key.  

In fact, I noticed as I took the photos, that I seem to have chosen harmonious shapes - circles, ovals and butterfly shapes in the main... it wasn't conscious!

There's another genuine clock part connected to the Lifetime Muse Token - this watch face has a lovely shine in the sunlight.

(Oh, yes, sunshine - another key ingredient in the happiness recipe - I'd've liked a snidge more of it for the photos really).

And no, I haven't got any of the lovely ShadowPress folders yet - the set I think I'll make most use of doesn't come out until later in the year, so I'm holding off (there seem to be a few dregs of willpower remaining) until then.

So instead I used my favourite dimensional lettering, the Alpha Parts, and added an iced topping of Distress Paint in Picket Fence and Pumice Stone.

Another lucky number 7 to ward off the evil eye...

Oh, and the tiny little clock brad (Prima, I think?) was a happy find at the bottom of one of my travelling shoe boxes of stash.  Perfect for the theme which had developed.

And the linen ribbon to top it all off, fastened with a metal panel to echo the larger ones on the tag.

I'll just quickly share a couple of the dismissed backgrounds... feel free to skip all the failures! 

I think part of the problem was I rested the panels on some white mountboard while I was inking, and I became rather attached to that look - so nothing else quite worked for me.

I tried some dark metallics (with Perfect Pearls Mists and Distress Stains) thinking it would pick up the metallic elements on the panels quite nicely.  No go.

Next go was a paler look - closer, but still no banana...

... even once I'd added another layer of splatter and inked the edges - nope.

So that's when I gave in - I really did try, honest guv! - but there was definitely too much over-thinking going on.  Having hauled all these beautiful things out of my stash, there was no way I was putting them on a background I was only half happy with.  

For a while, it looked like the plain white would be the winner, but then I thought about what Tim said in his post about the different pattern sizes within the pads, and I grabbed the large 12x12 music sheet.  And that was the one for me.

In the end, the whole thing was so heavy, I had to put it on another piece of mountboard to stop it flopping everywhere.  That solidity gives it a really lovely weight and presence - and the whole thing makes me very happy!

Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.
Mahatma Gandhi

Whoever uses the spirit that is in him creatively is an artist.  To make living itself an art, that is the goal.
Henry Miller

I'd like to enter this as my May tag in Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of 2014.
At the Craft-Room Challenge the lovely Annie would like to see Things With Wings - will butterflies from butterfly do?!
At Craft Hoarders Anonymous the challenge is to Show Some Metal or Glass.
At Creative Inspirations the challenge is Tag It.
At Tag Along the theme is Tick Tock.  With all those watch parts and the theme of what to do with the time you have, this should fit right in.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

The Final Tuesday!

Hello all - thanks so much for stopping by.  I'm just here to let you know that it's the last of my regular Tuesday spots over at Artistic Outpost today... a chance to catch up again with one of my all-time favourite AO creations.

With all the changes going on at Artistic Outpost, there are some changes to how we'll be working as a Design Team too, so watch out for those announcements.  But for now, why not hop over to say farewell to my weekly Tuesday appearances...

I'm heading back towards the UK on Friday, so we're in the final stages of dollshouse work and museum preparation - so my apologies once again for my infrequent appearances around Craftyblogland.  Normal service will be resumed very soon!  And there'll be some dollhouse posts to share too...

We only part to meet again.
John Gay

Saturday 24 May 2014

Not more hopping, surely?

Hello all.  Yes I'm afraid so...  For the last time in May (I think and devoutly hope!) I'm offering up a double-hopping opportunity today at Words and Pictures.  It's just how the timing of things has worked out this month.  I hope you noticed I've been leaving you in peace a bit in between though!

So today it's two sneak peeks again...  I promise both of them are slightly shorter than my usual epic posts too!

Firstly, I'm over at The Artistic Stamper Creative Team Blog with a cheeky Steampunky trio who will try to lead you into temptation.  Do hop over and take a look, but don't let them inveigle you into anything untoward.

And secondly, I've a project over at the Calico Crafts blog - serene and gentle, in case you need to recover from the hard sell of the trio above.  I'd love it if you have time to hop over there too for a quick look.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.  We have guests, but I expect I'll be able to sneak online for some visiting at some point!  Happy crafting all!

I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.
Mae West

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.
Oscar Wilde

(Hmm... they both remind me of crafty spending somehow...)

Sunday 18 May 2014

Dragonfly Fragrance

Hello all (possibly for the second time today).  Yes, I know... we're double hopping again - May has just been that kind of month, but I couldn't turn down a chance to guest with the Fashionable Stamping Challenge.  Sorry!

Just a quick heads-up that I'm over at Our Creative Corner today with a creation using products from our generous sponsor this month, Crafty Individuals.  

Here's just a little sneak peek preview... I'd love it if you had a moment to pop over and check it out.

And if you missed today's earlier post - the Parfumerie Collection for my guest spot at Fashionable Stamping Challenges - I hope you might have a few minutes to take a look at that too.  

As it chances, I also used Crafty Individuals stamps for this project... how's that for serendipitous timing?!  You don't have to go far, you can see it right here at Words and Pictures.

I just wanted to thank you all so, so much for your amazing feedback and support.  I can't tell you how much it means, especially given I've been in a bit of a slump.  (I know there's lots to see here, but almost all of it was done before coming away... I've honestly been struggling to get anything finished for the last few weeks - other than dollshouses of course!)  This crafty journey simply wouldn't be the same without you, so thank you.

Imagination is everything.  It is the preview of life's coming attractions.
Albert Einstein

A hopping bonus... anyone who wants an update on some of the changes at Small Worlds, check out Cestina's Dollshouses.  I'll be filling you in on the houses I've been doing soon...

The Parfumerie Collection

Hello everyone - I hope you're having a wonderful weekend.  I'm so pleased you've dropped in, as I can share my happy news with you.  I was delighted to be invited to be a Guest Designer over at the Fashionable Stamping Challenges - it's a challenge site I've loved since I set out on my travels in Craftyblogland, and it's a real privilege to play alongside the wonderful Fashion Stampettes.

Not only that, but I was offered the chance to pick the theme so, purely selfishly - as I felt at the time it was a while since I'd been properly dimensional - I challenged them to create or alter a Three Dimensional Object.

Well, having thrown down the gauntlet, I had to come up with a three-dimensional object of my own... Well, I did.  Several of them in fact.  Without further ado, I give you... The Parfumerie Collection.

I'm afraid I'm a bit low on "before" pictures, and even of step-by-step photos, as I got wrapped up in the process itself.  We are, nonetheless, in for a photo-heavy post, so you might want a cup of tea... or perhaps a glass of fine champagne?

I like to imagine the finished toilette collection gracing the dressing table of an 18th century lady or madame, ready to hand as she's preparing to host one of her renowned salons, where artists and intellectuals gather for stimulating conversation.

There's a pretty fine line between society hostess and courtesan, of course... What could be more seductive than a woman of scintillating wit, great beauty, and with every inch of soft skin divinely scented!

You might first need some soap - if you're of the minority who feel regular bathing is not injurious to the health.

It's just a little wodge of paper inside, I'm afraid - imagination is all here!  The tissue paper around it is dyed with Bundled Sage and Iced Spruce Distress Inks and Stains. 

All the labels are stamped in Sepia Archival ink onto Specialty Stamping Paper.  

With stamps as exquisitely detailed as these, by Crafty Individuals, that extra bit of fine detail which the paper gives is worth every penny it costs!

The Eau de Toilette bottle in fact once held alcohol.  It's one of many alcohol miniatures I have stashed awaiting alteration (years in the collecting, I hasten to add!).

There's something particularly elegant about the shape of this one, so it was a perfect choice for this collection. 

There are various crackle effects in use throughout the collection.

I believe that on this one I used the DecoArt One-Step Crackle, over a coat of their sealer.

Then I added DecoArt Blue Mist and Ice Blue acrylics over it.  They were slightly diluted, so as to keep the translucence of the glass.  

You can see the glow as the sunlight illuminates it here.

For the lid, I used a decorative button from my stash, altered with the same paints, and a touch of Tarnished Brass Distress Paint, and there's some Idea-ology bead chain and a tassel around the swan-like neck.  

(I'm sure our elegant courtesan has a swan-like neck too, plenty of room for dabbing the eau-de-toilette to attract the lips of the rake as he's whispering gossip in her ear.)

The metal filigree piece, from The Funkie Junkie Boutique, seemed perfect to go behind the label.

The small powder container is one of my moisturiser pots (empty, of course, and thoroughly rinsed out), again hoarded for months awaiting its moment in the candlelight.

The Blue Mist and Ice Blue came into play again to alter the colour, but applied quite roughly to get a textured, distressed look.

As with all the pieces in the collection, I layered inked book pages, some lace, and then added some metal embellishing, altered with various paints to make them all co-ordinate.

For the final piece in our toiletry set, the Cologne bottle, I do have a part-way photo.  

This glass bottle is originally from Germany and contained coffee milk.  You've seen one like it before in my black and gold PaperArtsy Christmas candle collection.

Well, this one had been the subject of some Tim Holtz experimentation.  

He shared a technique to apply Rock Candy Crackle Paint to glass, and this was where I tried it out... then it just sat there, awaiting the next step.

It turned out the next step was some Blue Mist and Ice Blue paint.

In fact, the places where I over-applied the RCCP, so that it slid down in globules, now became rather fabulously funky - creating really cool additional texture and interest on the surface of my bottle.

I used a metal rose for the lid, glued onto another button from the stash, and again altered with the DecoArt paints as well as some Tarnished Brass Distress Paint, sanding back to the metal in places too.

The Idea-ology Ornate Plate on the front got the same treatment, and I attached it using some frivolous ribbons, with another one around the neck to match.  

I'm quite certain that our courtesan decorates her powdered wig with the most frivolous of ribbons, so it seemed appropriate.

I hope you've enjoyed this brush with history - a particular historical vignette that I'm very fond of.  I think I'd've made an excellent salon-hostess (and probably a pretty good courtesan too, come to that!) and I suspect I might have been more at home in the 18th century than the 21st. 

I hope my Parfumerie Collection will inspire you to create or alter a three-dimensional object of your own (one will do!) and join in over at the Fashionable Stamping Challenges this fortnight.

Thank you so much for stopping by.  I'll see you soon, either here (later this morning, in fact) or elsewhere in Craftyblogland.  Have a wonderful Sunday!

Odours have a power of persuasion stronger than words, appearances, emotions or will.  The persuasive power of an odour cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally.  There is no remedy for it.
From Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

Having borrowed Madame's toiletries for this Mixed Media make, and with the added Metal embellishments on each piece, I'd like to enter this in the M Challenge at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge.
At the Craft-Room Challenge the theme is Recycle - the bottles and the moisturiser pot are all in the mix.
And the All Crafts Challenge at Craft My Life are playing Anything Goes But No Cards.
At PanPastel UK the new theme is Florals - quite apart from the floral fragrances inside, there are flowers on the labels, as decoration and as one of the lids!
Craft Hoarders Anonymous are inviting us to use up Ribbon, Lace and Twine - with not only ribbon and lace but all those hoarded bottles and pots - well, it seems like a match made in heaven!