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...

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Springtime ATB

Hello all!  Thanks so much for dropping in today - it's lovely to have your company.

Despite squeezing in my Tim Tag and a bit of visiting, I'm still struggling with time, so it's another Calico Craft Parts creation today - one of my Calico Crafts DT makes which hasn't so far appeared here.

Given the happy reincarnation of the Calico Craft Parts, it seems a good time to get my virtual scrapbook of projects a little up to date by posting some of the projects using these wonderful laser-cut wood and MDF designs.

This springtime ATB was constructed out of beermats (or coasters if you prefer!), covered with a stone effect paper from the Kaisercraft BaseCoat Collection.

I used stiff kraft card to join it all together and give it extra stability.

On each side I added a Calico Craft Parts flourish.

There are lots of flourish designs to choose from, including some fabulously intricate new ones which I'm looking forward to playing with.

I dabbed texture paste onto the flourishes, patting it with the palette knife to create extra texture, and painted it white once it was dry.

The delicious Artemio Summer Meadow stamps provide some of my favourite meadow grasses, stamped in Coffee Archival.

The words are stamped using the Artemio Typewriter Alphabet stamps.

And I positioned them at different heights so that as you rotate the ATB they progressively "grow" upwards.

These are individual letter stamps including multiples of each letter so that even if it's got, say, more than one e in it, you can put a whole word on the acrylic plate and stamp it all in one go, rather than stamping one letter at a time.

I quite like that you get the mysterious deep dark hole at each corner because of the rounded edges of the beer mats.  And of course I inked the edges of the covered coasters for a more distressed look, and to draw the eye inward.

On the top of the ATB is a little springtime bird's nest.

The upright supports are formed of some of the Corner Wood Shapes available (again lots of different designs to play with), glued in place.

There's a bit of Icelandic Moss to keep the eggs cosy, and the eggs themselves have had a soft wash of gesso to keep everything nice and pale and delicate.

The nest is protected with some whitewashed driftwood and decorated with some daisies.

And underneath, some whitewashed cotton reel spools give the whole ATB a little lift!

I hope you like it - remember if you saw it last time around, you really don't have to comment again.  But do hop over to Calico Craft Parts and take a look at the lovely goodies on offer!

By now, I should have been able to repay some visits around Craftyblogland - if I haven't got to you yet, I'm sorry... but I am on my way!!  Happy Crafting all.

There is some of the same fitness in a man's building his own house that there is in a bird's building its own nest.  Who knows but if men constructed their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and their families simply and honestly enough, the poetic faculty would be universally developed, as birds universally sing when they are so engaged.  But, alas, we do like cowbirds and cuckoos, which lay their eggs in nests which other birds have built, and cheer no traveller with their chattering and unmusical notes.  Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter?
Henry David Thoreau

There's still time to join in my little GIVEAWAY - if you'd like me to put your name in the hat, just pop along and say so!

Saturday 25 April 2015

Spring Fungi

Hello all!  Squeezing in a very quick post and a tag I wasn't sure would fit in this month, but Saturday is play day, right?  And I had a play with Tim's fabulous April tag inspiration and came up with this...

I haven't many stamps which are for "colouring in", so the major departure from Tim's tag is the choice of image.  I used the Stampotique Giant Shroom, but other than that I followed Tim's instructions pretty much to the letter.

So there won't be much how-to-ing here - you'd do much better to hop over and see what the man himself has to say...

I started out with soft neutrals, keeping my fungi in gentle tones of brown, but it all seemed a bit autumnal and melancholy.  Instead, I switched to my springtime preference for vivid blues and greens - Salty Ocean, Mowed Lawn, Peeled Paint and Mermaid Lagoon are all in the mix - creating some distinctly different fungi!

There's still plenty of Vintage Photo, Tea Dye and Old Paper involved in the colouring too... And Tumbled Glass in the background, along with the Pumice Stone shading suggested by Tim.

I don't have any of the Block lettering dies, so went with a double handwriting look for the words.

The blue-green "beautiful" is cut from some of the leftovers from my recent butterfly tag feast.

The advantage of having an obsession about a particular colour palette is that the leftovers from one project will often work beautifully with the next!

I don't have any of the little stars, but I picked out some pewter Idea-ology flowers and stained them with Mushroom Alcohol Ink.

Because of the positioning of the panel, I needed an extra flower up at the top by the ribbons too.

And the final cheat is that I haven't been anywhere near a sewing machine (I have a long and troubled history with them - it's better that we don't have contact these days!).

Following a tip from the fantastic Jenny of Pushing the Right Buttons on one of her TV demo slots lately, I used a tracing wheel (it's a sewing tool - if you Google it you'll get an image) to create the holes, and then joined them up with a fine marker.  From a distance you probably wouldn't know the difference.

Thanks for stopping by.  I'm aiming to be doing some hopping around (in between birthday celebrations - it was mine on Friday and it's my brother's on Sunday), so I'll see you out there somewhere.  Hope you're all having a lovely weekend!

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.
Eleanora Duse

I'd like to enter this as my April Tag in Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of 2015

P.S. There's still time to join in my little GIVEAWAY - if you'd like me to put your name in the hat, just pop along and say so!

Friday 24 April 2015

An Artistic Stamper Farewell

Hello all, thanks so much for dropping in today.

It's a bitter-sweet day - sweet because it's my birthday, sad because it's time for me to pack my Artistic Stamper bags and say farewell.

The official Farewell Post is over at The Artistic Stamper Creative Blog now, with a collection of some of my favourite projects (these are only some runners up - I just thought I'd decorate all these words a bit!).

I've had the most amazing two years working on the Design Team, creating with Jennie's fabulous stamps, and working alongside great team-mates, but life is increasingly busy and I'm having to pull back on a number of crafting fronts.

I'll always be grateful for the opportunity to be part of The Artistic Stamper Creative Team - my huge thanks go to the fabulous Chief Stamper Jennie, and to Emma who originally head-hunted me.

There have been many times when I've had breakthrough creative moments with the stamps and stencils.  Particularly, some of my favourite journalling pages have arrived as a result of their inspiration (as you'll see if you hop over).

I hope you enjoy the little wander down Artistic Stamper Memory Lane over at the Artistic Stamper Creative Team Blog!  I'm going to be so sad not to be playing there any more.  But I'll hope to see you again soon either here or elsewhere in Craftyblogland.

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
from Annie by Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan

Oh, and before I go... if you missed my little GIVEAWAY, do hop over and sign up if you'd like to have your name in the hat.

Monday 20 April 2015

Ally Pally PaperArtsy Giveaway

Hello all!  I'm sorry I've been so absent from Craftyblogland... this is how life gets when I'm deep in a rehearsal process.  I'm missing being at my craft table and I'm missing visiting you all regularly.  Soon... soon...  In the meantime, as a thank you for your lovely visits and comments, this post includes a GIVEAWAY, so do check the details at the end!

I'm glad you've been enjoying revisiting some of my Calico Craft Parts projects - and there are more of those to come - but I'm aware it's now over a week since the big craft fair at Ally Pally, and I haven't got around to filling you in on my first bit of live demonstrating.

As The Big Stamp and Scrapbooking Show at Alexandra Palace clashed with Version Scrap in Paris this year, PaperArtsy needed some extra people to keep things interesting in both places, so several of us were roped in to help with the demo-ing at Ally Pally.  I'm never much of a fan of photos of myself, so I'm going to leave you to track those down elsewhere... I'm just sharing a few of the samples I ended up with from the day.

I know lots of people have already been sharing the fun - including Alison (Craftytrog) from the Saturday, Deb (who I took over from on the stand) and lovely Julie Ann, who was demo-ing alongside me on the Sunday (her bird women are even more fabulous in real life!) - plus you'll find a great Saturday round-up from Helen, and an overall one from Darcy if you've still not caught up.

One demo plan was to share how I painted all those Lynne Perrella stained glass windows for the new releases earlier this year (see and buy the LPC stamps here) - and I did get round to creating an alternative version of the stone tower tag.

The translucent Frescos are so good for creating a glassy look - especially those new blues - and with a coat of gloss glaze over the top you get a lovely shine.

I always work with dots of paint and plenty of water on the craft mat to keep a really light, translucent look.

People were keen to see the Grunge Paste in action - and this tag seemed a good way to show it off - as well as how to layer up the Frescos with washes and dry-brushing to make the most of the texture.

I knew that the Lynne Perrella images would be quite time-consuming, so I thought it would be good to have some simpler makes up my sleeve.  The Sara Naumann images seemed like a good choice if I wanted to create something quick and easy (check out Eclectica ESN).  This was my planned sample.

And it turned out to have been a good idea to be ready for anything.  The thing people seemed to want to see more than anything else was the Crackle Glaze and how it worked...

... so I found myself creating a number of crackled backgrounds one after another - demonstrating the glaze in different ways.

As you can see, a couple of them still need a bit of finishing off, but I'm pretty sure the people I made the backgrounds for went off to buy some Crackle Glaze.  In my book that's a result!

The jumbo Sara Naumann tag was a bit of a tag by committee!  First up I was showing the Crackle Glaze with paint applied directionally to get the weathered paint look (that's the top right corner, demo'd in neutrals, as requested)...

... and then lower down the tag I showed what happens when you apply it with the Cut'n'Dry Foam for more of a porcelain crackle effect, and that time the request was for teals and turquoises.

The crackle ended up mostly covered up by the "ground" shading in the end!

Someone else arrived to watch and was curious about stencilling, so I added some of that.

I was enjoying the challenge of not knowing what would be next... to be honest, it's not that far removed from my own creative process where I generally set off with no particular destination in mind!

The stamping came about as I offered up the tip about clear-embossing an image when you stamp it, which frees you up to paint, stencil and stamp, knowing you can always wipe the image clean to keep it popping nicely.

At Ally Pally I also used the bird to show how to mask and stamp "behind" the image, but once I got home I added a pop of dimension with a whiter crackled bird to echo the original crackle in the top corner.

After a few more layers of stamping and a bit of doodling I had a tag which, though I'd've never come up with it all by myself, I rather like the look of - so thank you to all my creative collaborators on the day!

The other tag I created was mainly about showing off those fabulous translucent blue shades, and it's definitely ended up being my favourite.

I started with a Crackle Glaze background (another watcher was wanting to see what it could do, and I'm always happy to play with crackle as you know!) and then created an adaptation of some of the tags I made back in 2013 for my PaperArtsy design spot.

It's really a combination of that 2013 trio and the recent ATC created with the glassy blues.  Where before I was creating my bottles with moulded ATC, now I can just deploy the fabulous Glass Blue, Southern Skies and Blueberry Frescos, and I'm away!

Once I got home, I added some text stamping and ChitChat stickers, as well as some shading around the edges...

... and gave the bottle a nice firm base to stand on too, using a combination of pastel and watercolour pencils.

Finish it with a coat of Gloss Glaze and who needs acetate any more?!

I had loads of fun on the stand... it's really interesting how the creative process is modified by people watching (and suggesting and requesting) - though I think, in essence, I'm probably more naturally a solitary crafter!  It was great chatting to people, and lovely watching them get enthusiastic about these paints, glazes and stamps that I love using; and I always enjoy a good learning curve.

Big thanks to Leandra and PaperArtsy for inviting me along, to Darcy for support and to lovely Nina from It's Crafting Time too.  I hope it won't be the last time I get to play that way.

As a massive thank you for your continued visits and lovely comments, even while I'm hopelessly and helplessly absent, I'm offering up these four sample tags as a little giveaway, 
and there'll probably be some other little bits and bobs in the envelope too, I should think!

If you'd like your name to be in the hat, just say so in your comment below.

I'll take entries up to and including the 1st of May (23.59 UK time on 1st May)
and then pick a name out of the hat.

Persuasion is clearly a form of demonstration, since we are most fully persuaded when we consider a thing to have been demonstrated.

The current recipe over at the Dragons Dream Tag It On challenge is Blue and Words... are you kidding?!  Must have been written for me!!  So I hope at least three out of the four of these will fit right in.

Saturday 18 April 2015

Book of the Flowers

Hello everyone.  If you haven't heard the wonderful news that Calico Craft Parts are back... well, where have you been?!  Although I'll always miss Calico Crafts as it was, I'm thrilled that the Craft Parts have arisen from the ashes to live again.  I've been celebrating the wonderful news by sharing some of my Calico Crafts Design Team pieces which used the Craft Parts.

If you're tempted to play with any of these great wood and MDF laser-cut designs, click on the links and you can head straight to the brand new website and start shopping!

I'm adding this altered book box to my crafty scrapbook here at Words and Pictures today but, as always, if you saw this post over at Calico Crafts the last time round, please don't feel you have to comment again.

So, on the outside of the chipboard book (the large one of the Chipboard Book Box Set  - so it's 22.5 x 18 x 6cm) I played with lots of layers of paint and texture.

I knew from the start that I wanted to use the large Wildflower Corner Flourish (knowing what's inside, I know it will complement what's there!).  It's already so beautiful that I did very little to alter it.

There are lots of different Corner Wood Shapes available, and they all come in various sizes, so there's bound to be something perfect for your project.

I just gave it a coat of the DecoArt One-Step Crackle, and once that had worked its magic, I inked it with dark brown ink to highlight those fabulous crackles.

I put some DecoArt Decorating Paste through a stencil from my stash which seemed to work well with the Wildflower Corner, and once that had set, I started adding my layers of paint.

I can't say for sure what colours are involved... I'm pretty sure Warm White, Driftwood, and Raw Umber were in the mix, built up in layers and washes, knocked back and dry-brushed until I was happy with the look.

I thought it would be nice to have a cobwebby look across the "ancient tome", so I pressed the Kaisercraft Crackle Texture stamp into action.

It's stamped in Coffee Archival and then clear-embossed so that there's a dewy shimmer as it catches the light.

I stamped "les fleurs" onto the smallest size of Plaque Shape 1, painted with more DecoArt Americana Acrylics, and I added some flourish stamping before giving that a coat of the One-Step Crackle too.

Again, there are many different Birch Plywood Plaques, all in lots of sizes.

On the spine I added a label using one of my favourite Tim Holtz sentiments: In dreams we catch glimpses of life larger than our own.

And around the edges, there's another Kaisercraft stamp on duty, this time the Woodgrain, which I thought made rather good "pages"!

So, we come to the inside, and some of my absolute favourites of the Calico Craft Parts lines... these gorgeous Wild Grass Shapes.

They've had the same treatment as the Wildflower corner on the cover, with crackle and stain.

I love that the gloss of the crackle intensifies the colour and darkened edges of the laser-cuts, as well as giving a gorgeous shimmer in the sunlight.

For the background I used a natural sponge to add another bunch of DecoArt Americana colours - Indian Turquoise, Spa Blue, Hauser Light Green and Citron Green - so that you travel up the page from grasses to sky.

For some extra detail, I stamped some lovely TH text in WhiteWash, and did some additional script stamping as well as some inking using toning inks through the Tando warped honeycomb mask.

Here you can see the stages of adding the crackle to the meadowgrasses, from left to right - the "raw" shape, easily beautiful enough to use as it is, then with a coat of One-Step Crackle, and finally with the inking to intensify the look of the crackles.

I've used several different grasses: Wild Grass Shape 3 gets its own spotlight inside the front cover...

... while Wild Grass Shape 2, Wild Grass Shape 4 and the Bulrush Grass Shape 8 are all inside the box.

To create the dimensional depth between the flowers I deployed a couple of those incredibly useful little sponges that come as part of the packaging when you buy TH embossing folders.

I cut them to the size I wanted, and gave them a coat of paint too, so that if you catch sight of them it won't look too out of place.  They gave me both the ability to create the dimension and some stability for gluing the stems in place.

Around the bottom I added some lovely Icelandic Moss, a mixture of light and dark green, I think.

The quote is by Ralph Waldo Emerson and bobbed up on a Google search.  It seemed to work well with my beloved meadow grasses: many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers.

It's stamped according to my usual habit, in multiple ink colours, and inked to echo the sponged paint in the background from grass below to sky above.

So there you go.  As you'll have noticed, this wasn't the easiest thing to photograph, but I hope you get the idea.

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I hope you've been enjoying re-visiting some of these Calico Crafts projects this week (check out the Garden Tray and Woodcuts ATC if you missed them) but - as I've said - there's no need to re-comment too!

There are more to come over the next days and weeks, and I hope somewhere along the line you'll be tempted over to the new Calico Craft Parts website to see the delights awaiting you there.

Happy Crafting all!

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.
Henry Miller