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 4 December 2015

Through the square window...

Hello all!  We're definitely in the countdown now... I've even wrapped some presents already, and I'm so glad you enjoyed seeing my Christmas Giftwrap Master(board) Plan over at PaperArtsy.

The new theme at A Vintage Journey carries right on with the festivities.  The lovely Annie is inviting us to celebrate a Vintage Christmas.  If you hop over,  you'll find the challenge details and our Travelling Instructions along with a wealth of inspiration from my amazing team-mates.

What could be more redolent of an old time Christmas than singing carols around the piano in the parlour?  The heart of my creation is the idea that you can peek through the window to see who's singing and playing (a very special guest indeed).

That could have been a very simple tag - stamp the image, cut the window die and stick it on top, et voila! - but my imagination wouldn't allow me to stay in two dimensions so here's where I ended up.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish my brain would let me go with the simple option...

But no, once three-dimensionality had occurred to me, I had to make it happen.  I'll let you in on how I got there, and some of the serendipitous events along the way, but I'm going to edit out the bad language!!  Even so, it's still going to be another long post - sorry!

Apologies for the post title too... I know only a few of you will get the Play School reference.  You have to be British and of the right generation - how's that for vintage?!

The whole thing is constructed out of a cardboard Amazon envelope, and the base is a recycled picture frame (used as part of the seating plan in the Handmade Wedding, if any of you remember that mammoth undertaking).

You'll never believe it, but I promise it was a complete accident that the "house" fitted perfectly into the picture frame.  I initially cut the piece of card just so that the size looked good around the Tim Holtz window die.

Lo and behold, that turned out to be the exact dimensions of the frame (which at the cutting point I hadn't even thought of using!).

I cut the window twice out of some fairly thick cardboard packaging, and glued the two frames together before giving the the DecoArt Chalky Finish crackle treatment.  In the photo above, you can see it when it's just got the undercoat of Rustic and maybe the Crackle Glaze too.

Here it's in the finished state, obviously, and you can see the Vintage Lace die-cut I've used to add some lacy curtain trimmings.

I used the Tim Holtz Bricked Layering Stencil to apply a combination of DecoArt Textured Sand Paste and Ranger Texture Paste.

This stencil is ideal for large areas, because it's been brilliantly designed to line up bricks and half-bricks to continue the pattern.  If it was intentional, thank you, because it makes it much easier to "build" a brick wall for a dollshouse, for instance!

I layered up paint in various washes and dry-brushed layers until I had a nice warm creamy stone look - reminiscent of the stone in the Cotswolds, though a little darker by the time I'd done some inking around the edges.

Then it was a question of playing around with the stamped image on the back wall to try to get it at a good height, and I extended some of the lines of the objects with a pen so that you'd get a slightly extended visual field, ready for when people look in at an angle.

I love how he's heard something and turns around to catch you peeking in at him!

I did try out a coloured version of the image - it's from Tim's Christmas Magic set - but I decided I really wanted to go for the old-fashioned sepia look... the challenge theme is for a Vintage Christmas after all.

There's such amazing detail on this stamp - and I felt the colouring slightly took away from that too... just look at this bag full of toys.  That would make a great image by itself on an ATC or small card.

(The wobbly floor boards are all mine - as I say, just extending the lines to cover odd angles, so I wasn't particularly careful.)

Once I'd worked out the right height for the image and distance away for the back wall (all done by eye, I've no time for measuring when I'm crafting!), I cut the side walls and covered those and the back with some papers from the Idea-ology Yuletide paper stash.

I used the reinforced folded edges of the Amazon envelope as my braces to glue the walls together with.

It needed a bit of extra help at the bottom and top, but luckily I had a bit more envelope-edge to go.

Look, this is the back before I covered it with the papers... proof it's all done with recycling!

Once glued together, the whole thing really needed topping off somehow, and that's when I remembered the two window boxes left over from when I'd cut the window frames.

I had thought it wouldn't be appropriate to fill them with flowers, given it's a Christmas project so I'd ignored them...

... but now, trimmed a little and joined together, they make the perfect lintel to go across the top of my little bay window extension.

So they got the same crackle effect as the window frame and some washes of paint over the top to weather them even further.

(And there are some coffee stirrers doing the same job at the sides and at the bottom.)

And I decided it needed a roof too...

So it was out with the corrugated cardboard, some layers of paint, and some Distress Embossing Powders - Pumice Stone for roof texture and Peeled Paint to add some moss.

I always knew there would be ivy climbing up the stone walls.  (That plan was there even when I was only thinking in terms of a tag - an idea I've used before but with stained glass in the window that time!).

As you all know, I'm an ivy-lover - so this is a much-used die.  I simply spritzed some card with a combination of Forest Moss, Peeled Paint and Evergreen Bough Distress Sprays, let it dry, and cut it.

I needed a base, so having cut the front piece, I pulled out one of the many picture frames sitting in the cupboard, and it was at this point that I discovered the miraculous perfection of the size of my little house for the frame.

If I'd planned it, it couldn't have fitted more snugly... an important point as, now that we have a roof, the candle has to be replaced by lifting the whole building.  It can't be glued down, so it's a good thing it's a nice close fit.

Hang on, "the candle," did you say?  But of course "the candle".  That's what made the whole thing three-dimensional in the first place... I thought how nice it would be to be able to illuminate the scene inside.  Nice yes, simple no.  (Sigh!)

And the roof means that of course it can't be a real candle... so it's a battery operated tea light, but you still have to get to it to turn it on and off.

Worth it for the effect though!

Once I had the picture frame in place - crackled and painted to match obviously - then I had a little bit of outside space to play with.

Fortunately, I had a bit of green-spritzed card left over from the ivy which was just the right size to be the "grass".

I grabbed a couple of Tim's bottle brush trees and gave the tips of the branches a sweep of Peeled Paint to add just a hint of green.

They're decorated with some green ribbon (almost the last of a reel brought back from the USA in 1981!!) and tiny sequin stars.

The sequin stars also made their way over to the other bit of decoration, some of the Letterpress alphabet reflecting the happiness music can bring... especially when the whole family is gathered around the piano singing Christmas songs in the parlour.

Hey, it's vintage, okay... I can dream, can't I?!

In fact, as a family we did do that in the dim and distant past... especially on the eve of Sinterklaas, 5th December, when we would put our shoes out for a visit from the Dutch version of Father Christmas, but we had to sing some Dutch Christmas songs first in order to earn the visit!  Now we just sing them without the piano.

The letters are painted with co-ordinating colours and, as I say, a couple of the stars migrated onto them too, just to add an extra hint of sparkle.

The final touch was to add the house number, one of the Idea-ology Plaquettes.  If there'd been a 25, I'd've chosen that, but either there wasn't one in the set, or I've used it elsewhere.  Still, it would have been too much of a coincidence maybe... that Father Christmas lives at number 25?  Come now!

Yet again, I've managed to give myself the challenge of trying to capture (sort-of) candlelight on camera.  Because of the contrast, it never looks quite as it does in real life.  (Remember you can click on the pictures if you want a closer look.)

I generally end up squirming on the floor in a dark corner trying out various lighting states, or squatting in the courtyard at dusk, so that you can get an impression of the warm glow from the interior.  But I do like it when it works!

Okay, the plaquette wasn't quite the final touch.  You can see what the very final touch was... lots of white spatter to bring the whole thing to life.

So there's my little musical parlour... I hope you like it.  Apologies for the War and Peace length post... as you can see, there's quite a lot I need to remember how to do here!

Do check out the fantastic creations from my team-mates over at A Vintage Journey, and we hope you'll be inspired to come and celebrate A Vintage Christmas with us this December.  See you soon!

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 for ever.
From Song of Years by Beth Streeter Aldrich

P.S. For fans of miniatures, after a quiet period of contemplation there's finally a post
over at Cestina's Dollshouses, and it's also musically festive!

I'd like to enter this at Mixed Media World where this month Anything Goes
And Tis the Season over at Frilly and Funkie so I'd like to play there too
As usual, it's Anything Mixed Media/Creative Goes at the Love to Create challenge
I know it's subtle but I have got my little gold stars so I'd like to offer this up at Live and Love Crafts where they're looking for some Sparkle this month
At Stamps and Stencils they have a theme of Grungy Christmas... it's not precisely grungy, but it's got lots of mixed media texture and distressing with all that crackle and aged brick, and a minimum of sparkle, so I hope it'll fit
It's also time at Emerald Creek Dares to Let the Festivities Begin, so I'd like to share this there too


Sandy said...

Oh Alison - now this is magical - I bet your Mum loves it!! I am keep your instructions and hopefully will find the time to give it a go!
Tell your Mum Merry Christmas for me and I wish you the same!
Sandy xx

Annie said...

Wow Alison!!!! this is just fabulous x I adore your little house and the wonderful details followed by the surprise guest inside.
I am in awe right now...very inspiring x

Best Wishes
Annie xxx

Chrissy said...

Exquisite Alison..all the details and beautiful touches are just wonderful..love Santa inside playing the piano in his sepia colour..the window treatments and the gorgeous tree with the sentiments are all just amazing..I could play in that parlour for hours if I could shrink to fit..brilliant.


experiments in paper said...

WOW!! I love your three-dimensional brain, Alison. Though it creates quite a bit of work for you, the results are so worth it - this is absolutely stunning! The kind of thing I would take out year after year, as I love all of the fantastic detail (that roof is so creative!) but also the spirit. I always wanted to see Santa...and seeing him like makes me grin ear to ear. You've such a touch with a building - regardless of what it is. I really love your bricks here, and of course, your ivy! Just can't say enough - fantastic! Probably one of the best Christmas anythings I've seen anywhere! xxx Lynn

Julia Aston said...

Oh my, oh my, I actually read your total complete post Alison - so engrossed in just how you did it all - I didn't skim as is my wont with long posts - Your wonderful little Santa's house looks like real brick and mortar and wood - and the way it just fits into your frame stand - bravo - LOVE IT!!! Julia xx

Valerie-Jael said...

Wonderful piece, very festive. Hugs, Valerie

Anke said...

WOW WOW WOW absolutely stunning, fantastic work.


maria's knutselplezier said...

Fantastic project Alison, great art work as decoration for christmas, I love the beautiful trees in front of your gorgious house, great Saint stamp inside the house!!!


sally said...

Just been transported to another world :-) between this one & cestina's small world winter scenes I think I'll stay cosy in bed ( it's 07.55)


Lauren Hatwell said...

You are just TOO GOOD! You know that? What a really beautiful Christmas vignette. I so enjoyed all the wonderful details as I mooched, misty eyed, through your step outs. I love the idea of Father Christmas living at No 25 and the scene works so beautifully with the candlelight. Just glorious! Lx

Astrid Maclean said...

What a wonderful creation Alison, I bet it is going to be loved! The details are amazing, - my favourite bit funnily enough is the way you decorated those little trees! Love the whole piece!!

pearshapedcrafting said...

Wow ! You were definitely ready to play! What a wonderful Christmas house with so many amazing features -I can't take it all in so I'm going to come back again if you don't mind! No wonder Santa is so happy! Chrisx

chrissie said...

Stunning creation Alison and I think the sepia Santa is just right for this project. Sp pleased you make it 3D and thank you for sharing how you made it
Good old Amazon has just the right packaging for most things.I can hardly get in the craft room for boxes and brown card these days. I will need another life time to use it all I'm sure.

Love Chrissie xx

mamablitger said...

This project is awesome. I love all the fabulous details. The crackle on the window frame etc. It looks so very realistic. And the light inside makes it even more cute.
You are so talented. Thank you for sharing your art with us.
Hugs from Monica... Spain

Brenda Brown said...

Oh my gosh Alison your three-dimensional brain certainly went to town on creating this incredible project. It has everything, texture, originality, realism, complexity and your own amazing talent to turn it into a creation of beauty. I love the idea of the frame as the base, the view through the window as a vintage Santa looks out and the clever corrugated roof, but especially the warm glow of the window at night. I am so happy to be able to take a peek through the square window (and that it made an appearance lol), now I'm wondering if we'll see the round and arched windows too? (yes I remember the programme from when it started, I'm much more vintage than you!!!).
Have a great weekend.
hugs Brenda xxx

brenda said...

What a totally delightful creation Alison, so imaginative and inspiring and enchanting to look through the window to see even more creativity, so much so I want to out to the shed and dig out a few old Amazon boxes.

B x

Redanne said...

A totally stunning visual delight Alison! How fabulous that it fitted into your frame too. Sadly, or happily, I remember the square window and how much fun it was to see what was behind and you really have captured the wonder of it in this beautiful three dimensional piece. The brickwork is superb, the window is fabulous with the wonderful crackle and Father Christmas is a delightful sight through the window (I do love the coloured version too). Beautiful work! Hugs, Anne xx

hazel said...

This is amazing Alison, I love love love it.
xxx Hazel.

Jennie Atkinson said...

Oh Alison - I am lost for words! Vintage Magic! The little house with its gorgeous textured walls and roof, and a window to die for (plus Santa!) is pure delight. And the frame - such an inspired idea! The whole project is beautiful. Have a great weekend. Jennie x

butterfly said...

We've already been through the arched window a couple of times, in fact... but I'll work on the round one. I'm thinking that's going to have to be a porthole!

sarascloset said...

Oh, MY, Alison! Now you've dne it! My jaw has officially become unhinged after so many stunning views of your music parlor! I love it all from the sepia Santa serenading spectators (sorry, I just had to do that!) to the realistic brickwork (AMAZING!!) and your carpentry around the window opening and the lintel! Ah, and then there is the ivy (love it!) and the tiny trees so festively adorned and JOY and MUSIC! Good Gracious, Alison, you have managed to start my day off with me singing Christmas Carols! JOY TO THE WORLD! You have certainly brought joy to our world today with this lovely creation! Big hugs! PS I ENJOYED your War and Peace post! Now go and have a restful weekend, dear! You deserve it!

Monika Gulyas said...

I'm totally impressed by your project! You again made a technically brilliant decoration which is also a masterpiece of art! Hats off to you!

Marci said...

You were in your element with this make, I think. Vintage Alison! When I first found your blog, this is what I enjoyed so much, the sense of pure joy from you as you describe your crafty journey. As everyone has said, this is absolutely wonderful. I love all of it! Did you plan the sequin stars on the tree to catch the light from inside the window?

Pamellia said...

Fan-freaking-tastic Alison!! What an amazing idea for an ornament and I just love all the different textures! I love how you added garland to those itty bitty tress, what an awesome holiday project! hugs :)

Candy C said...

Alison....I totally LOVE this! I am such a huge fan of dimensional pieces and yours is over-the-top fabulous! Oh my goodness… All of the texture you have achieved on this is just amazing. Everything looks so real… Like a miniature little dollhouse. No why does that not surprise me, with your love a doll houses! Your tutorial is fabulous as are all of the pictures. Absolutely beautiful, Alison.

Anita Houston The Artful Maven said...

What a magical transformation! LOVE Santa through the window, and the sparkly house! Great and fun make!

SewPaperPaint said...

Alison, this house is truly a collectors piece! The window idea is remarkable and so glad you put feet to your idea! I love the little details such as the ivy, the ribbon on the tiny trees, and the tin roof! All so clever and beautifully achieved. Thanks so much for sharing all the tidbits so we can learn and grow. Big warm hugs for brightening my dreary morning. xx, Autumn

Meggymay said...

Wow, the magic of Christmas in a real vintage traditional style. Love your gorgeous project, I am sure it will be treasured for many years to come.
Yvonne xx

Gitte said...

Wow beautiful project.

Deb said...

Oh my gosh Alison, where to begin, this is absolutely amazing! The window, the roof, the fabulous colours, Santa Claus singing carols, Christmas trees and and the joy of music .. it is a masterpiece. How wonderfully serendipitous that the frame was the perfect size for your Christmas parlour so that you could add the tea light, it is so magical lit up! And the Santa stamp was the perfect image to put inside, I can imagine a small child peering through the window and spying St. Nick playing away, it truly encompasses the magic of the season. Thanks so much for sharing it with us, I am as always blown away by your creativity! Deb xo

rachel said...

this is beautiful Alison - i love that you showed us the coloured image you decided not to use - I'm always changing my mind so this appeals to me!!! Fantastic piece! big hugs rachel x

butterfly said...

That wasn't planned, no... well, I mean I know sequins catch light but no, just another of the happy accidents of this project! Glad you enjoyed it! Xx

Unknown said...

I freaking love this project!!!! Awesome job!

Jackie PN said...

What a wonderful holiday scene! Love the brick wall Alison!!
So Beautiful! xx

Lisa Minckler said...

OMG...when you flip the switch to Christmas, you flip the switch. It's full on merriment and Ho Ho Ho's over here. I'm in love with this project!!! A complete stunner from top to bottom. Thank you also for the process pictures. Those always make me happy.
Lisa x

Terry said...

Oh how I love your Christmas window! Alison, all the brickwork and details are absolutely stunning! I love those white Christmas trees all decked out! So inviting! Hugs!

Kay Wallace said...

Your project gives new meaning to "out of the box," my friend! This is absolutely delightful and reminds me of trips we take around Christmastime to window peek into our neighbors' houses! Love it, Alison!

Lynne Moncrieff said...

An absolute triumph and I have to ask, when are the keys to this house being handed over to me?!!!!!
Alison, I also love Amazon's envelopes (and their paper packaging), they are just far too good to be tossed into the re-cycling bin.
The details and textures are astonishing and it is certainly, even at this latest of hours, giving me a warm fuzzy feeling of nostalgia.

Lynne Moncrieff said...

In case I forgot to thank you, thanks so much for adding the Giveaway button to your sidebar. It's been duly noted.
L x

Kirsten said...

I can only agree with what everyone else has already said; that is absolutely stunning, a complete work of art. The little trees are so cute & I love how the tealight makes the inside glow. I want your imagination!! :)

Gaby Bee said...

Wow, absolutely amazing. Your little house is to die for, Alison. I love every detail!

Happy December!
Gaby xo

craftytrog said...

Fabulous project Alison, the brick texture is so realistic!!! xxx

WendyK said...

A fabulous 3D piece of art, and some wonderful instructions to go with it. You must have a lot of patience.

butterfly said...

Thanks, Wendy. I'm not sure it's patience so much as pig-headed stubbornness and a refusal to give up! Ax

maj. said...

Brilliant project , Alison!!!!

Mrs.B said...

A wonderful Christmas 3D project Alison and I'm so pleased that your imagination took you in this direction - so many interesting details and fabulous textures and I loved the idea of it being lit by the candlelight.
Avril xx

Shirley said...

Totally no time as usual Alison but I made time to read and look at everything. This is a very special 3D project indeed.

Warm crafty hugs from Shirl x x x

Hettie said...

You have done it again Alison!! Yes a "war and peace" length post but well worth it!! I just love everything about it. Oh! Yes I remember the square window reference. I always liked the idea of the arched window as we did not have one!! Haa Haa!

Paper Profusion said...

What a delight from start to finish Alison!! Genius crafting for sure! It's a gem anyway and then you go and add the light - totally magical! Complete Christmas tour de force. I remember Playschool - loved it! Watch with Mother and Andy Pandy are somewhere in the windmills of my early mind too. Nicola x

Margik said...

Alison, this a wonderful project... so clever. Your creations always amaze me!
Mar xx

Maggie said...

Stunning 3D creation Alison love love it all, when lit peering into the window to see Santa is magical. Mr Amazon is a great help with packaging reused in my craft room all the time.

Cathy - CMP Designs said...

What an amazing project! I love all the details and the brick wall is fantastic! This would be a great entry over at Emerald Creek Dares Challenge! :)

Jenny Marples said...

As ever with these 3D vignettes you've surpassed yourself Alison! Beautiful finishes, clever decoration for the trees and then you light it up - oh gosh!!! So much to inspire. Jenny x

Unknown said...

Wow, that's so cool! I love Santa at the piano and I agree, Christmas is about joy in the music. Thanks for enter the Emerald Creek Dare

Karon said...

This is stunning - wow! Love the amazing details. Thanks for joining us for our Festive Emerald Creek Dares Challenge

Karon DT

Katelyn said...

Absolutely gorgeous! I love everything about it! Thanks for joining us at Emerald Creek Dares.
-Katelyn DT member at Emerald Creek

Zoe Hillman said...

This is utterly incredible! I love love love it!!! It's such a gorgeous, clever piece of home decor! I loved the story about Sinterklaas too. I lived in Holland when I was little and still remember the songs... Sinterklaas Kapoentje, Leg wat in mijn schoentje, Leg wat in mijn laarsje, Dank je Sinterklaas je... My husband is mortified when we meet Dutch people and I burst into song (in JULY)! LOL Thanks for sharing and for joining the Frilly and Funkie Challenge blog. Happy Holidays. :)

A Pink said...

An absolutely fabulous Vintage Christmas Creation Alison from start to finish and I'm so glad you took it to 3D . Full of texture , detail , nostalgia and realism that when lit up emits a real glow of warmth and comfort x

Unknown said...

Oh wow, this is just gorgeous 3D artwork at its best!! Love all the detail, thanks for the step out too. Thanks for entering at Frilly and Funkie hun,
Georgie xx

Suzanne C said...

Fantastic window box. I love that santa is having a party inside the window. That brickwork is phenomenal! Beautiful!

toni said...

Wow Alyson! An amazing three dimensional project, very skilfully put together with great attention to detail. Thank you so much for joining us over at Stamps and Stencils xxx

Julia S-W said...

What a joy this little piece of art is Alison! So many beautiful details which just highlight your wonderful attention to detail. I have great difficulty in choosing a particular favourite feature but I love the stamped image on the back wall and the little wriggly tin roof with the moss! I am a lady of a certain age who well remembers Playschool - it was fun to be reminded about it! Thanks so much for joining my final challenge at Stamps & Stencils. Julia xxx

Unknown said...

Hi ALison,
What an amazing MM project! The stamp is absolutely beautiful (I think it was the right choice to keep the sepia version), I love the brick work and the crackle effect on the window is awesome and really looks like the real thing. Very impressive, and then it got even more impressive with the tealight candle. Absolutely stunning projec!!! Thanks so much for sharing with us at LLC and for your comment obn my sweetsboxes the other day. Best Wishes for the New Year!

Hugz, Sandy
Owner & Operator @Live & Love Crafts