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 December 2016

PaperArtsy Parade 2016

Hello all - for the second time today...

After my quiet year, I'm finishing off with a final flourish of a double-post day!  I hope you'll be able to check out my Tag Friday watercolour gift tags for A Vintage Journey from earlier today, but right now I'm inviting you over to the PaperArtsy blog for a retrospective of my favourite projects from some of the inspiration topics on offer there throughout 2016.

The topics I've had a chance to catch up with after missing so much while away on my travels this year are Dangles/Beads/Charms, Making Marks, Autumn Leaves and Die Cuts.  It was a lovely opportunity to see what the amazing designers and challenge participants have been creating.  And there's some reflection on my creative year too - always an interesting thing to indulge in at this time of the changing year.  I hope you'll be able to hop over and take a look, and that you'll enjoy the selection on offer. 

For now, I'm going to wish you all a very Happy New Year, and I'll see you on the other side.  Good luck for 2017, everybody.  We can only hope... 

Smiles from the threshold of the year to come, 
Whispering 'it will be happier'...
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

For last year's words belong to last year's language 
And next year's words await another voice.
T.S. Eliot

Gift Tag Games

Hello all!  It's a final fling for the year over at A Vintage Journey with a fun Tag Friday.  We all just get to play however we want, as long as we create a tag... well, I've created many!

I was inspired by a class offered at SkillShare by the wonderful Anna-Karin Evaldsson of Layers of Ink.  You can find the details of the class here.  I was in time to take advantage of her generous Christmas gift of taking the class for free, but it's still a bargain.

I'm not going to share the details of the techniques used here - that wouldn't be fair - but I will show you lots of pictures instead!

I had a lovely time getting messy with my watercolour paints.

The resists give light to the gift tags...

... not only because of the white space they leave...

... but also owing to the glossy light-reflecting properties of the gel medium used.  This is under a daylight bulb since there was so little sunlight around!

I stuck to a limited colour palette for these...

... but I'll definitely play again with different colour groupings.

It'll be a lovely way to play with colour combining.

But for now I stuck with some of my favourites.

Like Anna-Karin, I used lots of snippets of different sizes of paper.

There are some tall, thin, elegant ones...

... some tiny ones...

... and some more substantial ones in case you want to write a longer message on the reverse.

It was lovely to put my little Hero Arts alphabet to use again.

I think this is the first time it's been out to play in 2016.

These gift tag games are a good excuse to play with lots of different stencils...

... as well as doing some more of the scribbling I've been enjoying this year.

... and because you're creating in batches you end up with a nice handful of tags to keep handy.

Some are Christmassy...

... some less so.

I kept the toppings simple - all plain twine.

For my preferred gift wrapping of "brown paper packages, tied up with string", these will add a little life and colour.

I hope you'll be able to hop over to A Vintage Journey to see the taggy delights my lovely team-mates have in store for you.

And I'll be back later today with one final post for 2016 (a year I shan't be sorry to see the back of in many ways, though I personally have had lots of lovely adventures).  I hope I'll see you again later on...

The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.
Pierre Corneille

Monday 26 December 2016

Christmas Leftovers

Hello all!

I'm just popping in to share my leftovers with you today... no, not turkey sandwiches (we haven't eaten our main Christmas meal yet, and we don't have turkey in any case).

These are leftovers from my Funkie Junkie 12 Tags of Christmas which I've whipped up into a little bonus tag.

Those who thought the little boy with the Christmas tree might put in an appearance soon... you were right.

I made the crackled background just for this, but everything else is left over from the 13-day intensive tag workshop that took place in my craft room pre-Christmas.  It rivalled Father Christmas's elves for productivity!

This is DecoArt Chalky Finish paint and crackle - Everlasting applied over a combination of Serene and Relic.

And I've given the edges a good inking with Vintage Photo and Ground Espresso - I hope that gives it the look of an old wooden panel.

The blue snowflakes are the masks I used to create my splattery background for Tis the Season, to which this has become a sort of partner piece.

I cut them out of scraps of the music manuscript which put in an appearance on several tags, and once they'd been spritzed, they were too good to throw away.

The little boy was up for a possible starring role on the same Tis the Season tag but, as you know, he was pipped at the post by the girl who had also been gathering Christmas greenery, though not quite on this scale.

He gets a tag all of his own here.

There were a couple of leftover bits of greenery, as well as a scrap of shimmering green card which hadn't been used, so I cut a couple more boughs.

And I added a couple of the sparkly berries which were hanging around on the desk.

With the greenery in place, I needed a little more colour around to echo it...

... so I added Peeled Paint and Forest Moss with a water brush in various places.

At some point during the 12 Tags, I seem to have cut one more Layered Snowflake than I needed.

Oh yes, I was planning to layer white and kraft alternating on the snowflake for Snow Flurries, and then decided to go with pure kraft for that one, so I was left with a white one to play with.

I edged it with Vintage Photo and Ground Espresso and then used Frosted Crystal embossing powder to give it an icy shimmer.

I suppose the wooden stars aren't strictly leftovers.  I did use some for my Bare Branches tag, but the rest were back in the jar... but it needed just a little something extra.

So not quite all leftovers, but what are a few tiny wooden stars between friends?!

Oh, and there are some words, of course...

So there you are - some leftovers for you to enjoy while I do my main Christmas Day today... I'll be round to spread some festive cheer over the next few days though, I hope.  Stay warm and safe, everybody.

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.
Calvin Trillin
(I know I've used it before, but it's such a good one!)

Saturday 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all peace and joy for the festive season,
however you celebrate it - whichever day, whichever traditions.

Alison xx

No new pictures today, but here are some lovely words...

It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats.

It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.

Always on Christmas night there was music...  Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-coloured snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.
All from A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

Monday 19 December 2016

The Running of the Deer

Hello all!  We've made it... I'm here with my final tag for the Funkie Junkie's 12 Tags of Christmas challenge - twelve tags in thirteen days.  After all that running to catch up, I think we deserve hot toddies all round to celebrate.  (Seriously, you might want a drink to get you through this long final post!)

This is my finale, though it's actually Linda's Tag 7.  If you take a look at her gorgeous original, you'll see it's a strong inspirational influence, but I've gone just a little off-piste from Linda's design.  And it's definitely ended up being one of my favourites of the twelve.

Tis the Season and Dreaming of a Kraft and White Christmas probably join it to make up my top three, though I do love A Christmas Wish and Snow is Falling too.  Oops, and Pine Cones Galore!  Oh dear - that's a top 6 then.  But I don't even have to worry about saying how much I like them, as most of the credit goes to Linda's inspiration...

There's a chance to see the whole collection at the end of this post, so you'll be able to pick your own favourites, should you have nothing better to do amidst all the mad final preparations for the holiday.  But for now, let's get back to the matter in hand...

I was uncertain about the solid blue of the background to start with.  It felt pretty full on.

I started stamping my snowflakes, and once they were in place I added some of the fabulous scratches from Andy Skinner's Industrial stamps and a finger full of paint around the edges.

The stamping is done with DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylic Metallic Silver.

I paint a thin layer onto the craft sheet and then use that as my "stamp pad".

I just love the look of old scratched-up painted metal that you get.  From then on, I was very happy!

I die-cut the deer, painted him and gave him his dusting of Distress Glitter.  But, being me, I felt the need for a little bit of Vintage Photo inking.

And I think there's probably some Ground Espresso right on the outer edges too.

And I loved how Linda had given her deer a sort of frame to set him off, so I worked something similar with a krafty arch which had been hanging around on the craft table for an age. 

(I think it's probably left over from this journalling page, so that's 18 months of hanging around.  Worth the wait though.)

I can't tell you how much I loved Linda's Stacked Snowflake - suffice it to say I just wanted to have pretty much exactly the same thing on my tag.

I'm not usually much for glitter, but I'm prepared to make an exception at Christmas...

... as well as in the case of Distress Glitter, which really is a different proposition from the usual stuff we played with as kids.

And you can ink around its edges even after you've applied it, which has to be a plus in my eyes!

Rather than all that luscious netting which Linda does so well, I've gone for a slightly more austere setting for my snowflake.  

There's a krafty decorative strip behind - it's actually a Sizzix die intended for creating paper chains which I picked up in a sale for about £1.50.

I haven't got around to making paper chains with it yet, but it was just what I needed for this tag.

And around the snowflake I've added some of my much-loved pine cones (see Pine Cones Galore! or I'm Dreaming of a Kraft and White Christmas or The Holly and the Holly).

There are some more of the tiny sparkling berries which also put in an appearance on Tis the Season.

Here is the "shadowed" Noel word I mentioned in a previous post (the reason I used "wish" on Tag 12 A Christmas Wish rather than the Noel Linda used was that I'd already used the Noel for this one).  I loved how Linda offset the second die-cutting to create the dimensional look.

Hers actually is dimensional as her second cutting is done with foam, but I just used card.  (There are some things I don't have in my craft stash... not many, I grant you, but a few, and foam is one of them.)

Some more pine cones and frosted berries adorn the simple twine bow at the top of the tag, and we're all done with the final tag of the challenge.

I think these final two (Tags 6 and 7, but the final two I'm sharing) work rather well together as a twosome.  They were made pretty much simultaneously, one bit drying on one while I worked on something on the other.

The two deer, the pine cones, the dimensionality, the wintry woodland feeling - I think they belong together as a pair.

So how about the whole set together then?  From very early on, it felt as though the these tags were "talking" to one another - elements and colour-ways were being echoed and repeated from tag to tag.  And so that became another part of my challenge to myself... to keep creating "a set" of tags.  Well, here they all are together, so you can decide for yourselves whether I achieved that.

(Remember you can click on a photo to see it in a larger view, or just scroll back through the last 12 days if there are any for which you missed the making-of details.)

And completing Linda's 12-week challenge in just over 12 days definitely achieved my own aim of getting me back in the craft room after so long away from it this year.  The first four tags, done on standard size #8s were okay, but I wasn't really anywhere near "the zone".  But as I moved onto the jumbo size #10s, starting with my version of the folded Tag 9 (the first one I did out of order, because I just really wanted to make that tag) I started to feel more at home at the craft table, and I think that shows in the resulting tags.

So huge thanks to the Funkie Junkie, Linda Coughlin, for her stunning inspiration tags, and for a triumphant fifth anniversary edition of the Funkie Junkie 12 Tags of Christmas, and also thanks to all of you for cheering me on from the sidelines (or often from on the pitch next to me - it's been lovely visiting the other FJ 12 Taggers to see your versions too).

And now I'll leave you all in peace for a few days!

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.
Oh, the rising of the sun, and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir.
Traditional English carol

I'd like to share this as Tag 7 in the Funkie Junkie's 12 Tags of Christmas, sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique, and completing my full set of twelve
And there's just time to get one more under the wire for Let There Be Snow at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge too...