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...

Sunday 1 October 2017

The Art of Meditation

Hello all!  What a fantastic response to the first ever challenge at the Mini Album Makers Challenge blog - thank you so much for sharing your amazing handmade books.  Unbelievably, it's already the start of October, and time to start a new round of book-making creativity, so it's inspiration time.

As will always be the case, any handmade book is welcome, but it must be a new creation.  The team are ready to kick off the month's inspiration with our own projects, so do check out the amazing work over at Mini Album Makers but, before you go, here's mine in more detail.

It's a simple tag book, with pages which are designed to offer moments of reflection and calm - thoughts to meditate on, and a gentle, serene atmosphere to encourage that meditation.

And I have to confess, the making of it was also very meditative and soothing - lots of batchwork and repetition.

There's variation as you move through the pages, but only limited variation which gives the whole thing a very calming effect.  (Remember you can click on the photos for a larger view.)

One of the main things Autumn wanted to encourage with this new bookish challenge was the sharing of "how-to" details so, after a few short-but-sweet posts, we're back to the more usual Words and Pictures length.  I'll try to keep it quick, but you might want to grab a cup of coffee if you're going to accompany me.

A pair of MDF tags (12x6cm, so quite small and neat) form the outer covers, and some cheap luggage tags serve for the pages.

I'll start with the inside and then move to the covers, as that's the order in which I made it all.

I decided that all my pages would have some PaperArtsy weathered crackle.  It's a layered glaze process so for the backgrounds I used French Roast Fresco paint for some and Pea Coat for others - and in some cases they ended up with both.

Next layer is the Crackle Glaze itself.  I usually just put a blob right on the surface I'm covering and spread it out with a palette knife - the thinner, the better.

Once the glaze is dry you can add the top coat.  (You can dry the glaze with a heat tool if you're feeling impatient - it will still work... it's the top layer which you really have to leave to do its thing for the best results.)

If you apply the top coat of paint (Snowflake and Chalk Fresco mixed in this case) with a brush you get one kind of crackle - a painted wood crackle effect.  (It's still mid-crackle-action here.)

And if you sponge it on, you get a sort of porcelain crackle variation.

Over the top of that I did a bit of dipping and dabbing into some Distress Ink - Stormy Sky I think.

Next was some stencilling, front and back, various letters and numbers from stencils by Scrapcosy at PaperArtsy and by Andy Skinner.

I also added some text stamping using my word stamps and French Ultramarine Archival Ink - very much just background detailing.

So far, that's all tags getting the same treatment on all sides.

The next element is present on every tag but only on the "front" side, and that's some flower stamping.

These delicate wildflowers are by Inkylicious, done in Ground Espresso (the Archival version), and I wasn't too worried about "perfect" impressions.

After this, the pages start to vary a bit - though still within similar configurations.

So there are some pages which have one of my quote stamps (all from PaperArtsy EAB01 Trees and Flowers) stamped on the rough internal side of one of my money envelopes.

I tore round the words, layered them over some frayed cheesecloth...

... and clipped them in place with the Idea-ology mini paper-clips.

They've actually also had some glue underneath to keep them nice and firmly in place.

Other pages followed a different path...  Firstly, I added strips of Tim Holtz Design Tape pretty randomly.

I was also folding the strips over rather than tearing them off - that way the reverse side of the page gets some decoration too.

Then to each of these pages I added some of the indispensable Paper Dolls (with watercolour pencil shading for them to stand on), and the equally indispensable Small Talk stickers...

... carefully chosen to provoke thought or meditation or set you up for the day, according to what you might need.

As I said, it was already a meditative process creating these tag pages...

... and very satisfying to see them all laid out together, both front and back.

So, now to the covers.  I started with some texture paste through a Viva Decor stencil... more wild meadow flowers to echo the ones inside.

I put a coat of gesso over the whole thing and then added some DecoArt One-Step Crackle Glaze in various places.  You can see it here with the crackle still wet, gleaming in the light.

Once that was all dry - check out that crackle! - I started adding DecoArt Antiquing Creams - adding, allowing to dry, and wiping back with a damp cloth.

I did it a couple of times until I was happy with the look.  The great thing about the Antiquing Creams is they'll always wipe away until you seal them, so you can play for ages.

And don't panic - you're probably going to wipe almost all of it away, leaving it to provide great shadows in all the nooks and crannies and crackles.

When I was almost back to white, but with those brilliant lowlights around the texture, I used Distress Paint (Stormy Sky again) and Distress Crayons (Pumice Stone, Frayed Burlap, Walnut Stain I think - though I could be wrong) to add more colour and shadow.

I'm really pretty pleased with the end result...

... especially that aged crackle...

... and the subtle blue grey tones...

... which work so well to match the colours inside.

A couple of ChitChat stickers set you up for what you'll find inside - thoughts for the day, as many or as few as you need depending on your mood.

The back cover remains just as it is, so that's available for fingertip meditations - allowing your sense of touch to join in with the present moment.

A large book ring, made slightly less shiny with some Mushroom alcohol ink, provides a simple "binding", and I added some sari ribbon as well as some Distress-dyed crinkle ribbon, all knotted together with some rustic twine.

I love that you can take the words or pictures as a prompt for thought... or there are always the flowers - Nature is extremely conducive to meditation.

Or you can simply allow the barer reverse sides to create space in the heart and brain, heading for the stillness which lies at the heart of any meditative practice.

The very act of finding the time in the day to turn a few pages of this little album is also a version of creating space and stillness - the art of meditation.

And that, finally, is pretty much that.  I think you've seen almost every page now, at least from the front... it's a good thing these book posts are only due once a month!

Thanks for bearing with me through the long post - or if you just scrolled to see the photos, I hope you enjoyed that too.

Do hop over to the Mini Album Makers Challenge to see the beautiful books my lovely team-mates have made to inspire you, and we hope you'll be coming to play along again this month.

There's another fantastic sponsor prize, this time from Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts.  They have some great designs to play with.

The sponsor prize will be randomly drawn, but the Design Team will also be selecting a winner who will be invited to join us as a Guest Designer.  Happy bookish crafting all, and happy October!

The act of meditation is being spacious.
Sogyal Rinpoche

With nearly the full set of Inkylicious flowers on display, as well as some of my own word stamps, I'd like to share this at Frilly and Funkie where the request is to Show Us Your Stamps
I'd also like to play along with the Anything Mixed Media Goes theme at Mixed Media World


Valerie-Jael said...

What a wonderful book you created, love all the tags, so beautiful. Great colours, too. Hugs, Valerie

Helen said...

wow, Alison!! I love the covers,but for me the pages are the real stars. I love that they are the same in tone, so they flow so nicely. Off to check out the others now. Have a great Sunday.

Amanda said...

And another wow! From me, this is a wonderful make stunninf pages
Amanda x

Tracey@Hotchpotchcreations said...

Oh Alison this is most fabulous, just like looking through a samples book in a very high end home decor shop. Each tag page is so happy with their similarities in colour but all unique in their own way. A marvellous way to display so many techniques and textures. Warm Hugs Tracey xx

hazel said...

This is such a beautiful tag book - lovely colours and images and great textures.
xxx Hazel

Nancy Wethington said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Love the techniques you used and the colors are subtle and beautiful.

Redanne said...

A stunning tag book Alison, the tags are all beautiful (and yes, very relaxing to see and read the sentiments) and I love how you built up the layers on the covers, they look fantastic! A great read and a fabulous tutorial! Anne xx

craftytrog said...

So beautiful! I feel calm just reading and looking!
Alison x

Inky and Quirky Designs said...

Wow absolutely stunning Alison, what an amazing tag book with the most wonderful illustrations, it really is so calming just having a look through it ;)
Donna xx

Craftyfield said...

Fabulous book cover to cover... in your trademark colours! Perfect textures and ageing, Alison! xx

Christine said...

Well, I was going to check out some tag making details today..... I think you have it covered here. A really interesting and inspirational post.
Thank you

maj. said...

Magnifique !!!!!!!

experiments in paper said...

Absolutely luscious, Alison!! And fantastic step outs - what a treat to read this morning! Your colors perfectly convey the welcoming expanse of being that is meditation. So inspiring - thank you! xxx Lynn

Sylvia/LittleTreasures said...

Thank you so much Alison. WOW a wonderful start to my Sunday. So much inspiration in all your exquisite details. I really, really love this. Great photos and beautiful colors. Enjoy a wonderful October.

Marci said...

Beautiful! Very soothing images and colors and words. I love this little book.

Monika Gulyas said...

Many-many beauties with your delicate style and colours!!! I love them all!! xx

Dorthe said...

Alison, oh I`m in love!!!! It is a so beautiful little tag book. The colors mixed to amazing tones, of lovely blue and the aging browns, the paper dolls, and wild life flowers, and your fantastic cover..... everything is to fall in love with, and I did .
Thank you for all the wonderful photos!
I hope your Sunday was lovely as this book is !
Hugs, Dorthe

Patty O'Malley said...

Wow, Alison! I absolutely love this! Tags are my most favorite thing to make. This is fabulous! How I could use meditative thoughts each day! I find the blue tones relaxing as well. Fabulous! Did I say that already?

Dortesjs said...

variation YOU said.. awww I cannot breath your tag are so fab and I do love them all..great work your my artherro for today..whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

Julia said...

I love your life notes tag book. It is perfect with its subtle blues and browns. You are the cleverest woman, you really are. x

Corrie Herriman said...

AWESOME ! love it Alison !
Corrie xx

rachel said...

wow Alison - what a stunning album - all of the pages are stunningly beautiful - and the covers are gorgeous too! I love the whole album to pieces. Big hugs rachel x

Mac Mable said...

I absolutely loved reading your blog post and how you did this amazing and beautiful project. Love all the elements and subtle and beautiful colours. Thank you for the 'how to' and the stunning inspiration x

Meggymay said...

Its a stunning tag book Alison. I enjoyed reading your post and seeing how it was made, each tag is beautiful.
Yvonne xx

Astrid Maclean said...

A super little tag book Alison, and it really has a wonderful contemplative mood about it! Wonderful effects (and great explanation) of the crackle glaze, and beautifully finished insides on each one. Great idea also to use wooden tags for the covers, they are probably my favourite aspect of the whole little book!

Gloria Stengel said...

The colors and textures of this tag mini are amazing! I love everything about it. You make me want to get messy and get started on one of my own!!! Just perfection in tag form!!

froebelsternchen said...

You wrote it is only a simple tag book--
I say it's a TREASURE!
Absolutely delightful!
I am in awe of this project!
You are such a sensitive artist - your style is absolutely amazing and I am a big fan of you!
Happy October Alison!
oxo Susi

Gitte said...

Beautiful work.

sarascloset said...

Bravo, Alison! to me you have hit a home run, hit the sweet spot, knocked it out of the park, nailed it, surpassed my greatest expectations with this fabulous inspiring tag book! Loving the textures on the covers and every single vignette within! I'm kind of giggling here, because I was working on a similar book for Autumn's challenge for last month and didn't get it done. You've inspired me to carry on and perhaps play along this month!

I am thrilled you've joined us for our challenge this time at Frilly and Funkie with this amazing project! Hugs!

Fliss said...

Wow! An absolutely gorgeous tag book Alison and love all the beautiful tags you've created to make it. The textures are wonderful and the colours so serene and calm.
Might try and join in this time too as I have more time finally.
Fliss xx

Felix the Crafty Cat said...

Pleased! hardly surprising as this is gorgeous. Have a great crafty week, Angela xXx

SewPaperPaint said...

Alison, as always you are the biggest source of inspiration for me! Doing something like this is exactly what I need to be doing! I have to tell you, I was down to the wire this month with my album. I spent the entire day Sunday working out the design for a new book and painting, crackling, etc all for it to totally flop! Ugh! I was in such distress, but managed to get my project together after starting from scratch again. You have made me want to work on my fabric tag book so much and just have a play in my inks, a favorite thing to do. Thanks so much for another month of outstanding inspiration. Hugs, Autumn

Kate Yetter said...

Such lovely and beautiful tags! I love all the different techniques in the background. Especially the texture paste. And I really love the vintage children!

Cocofolies said...

What an exquisite book, Alison!!!
Sorry for the late visiting and commenting, but as usual with you, I prefer take my time when I read your posts... This is always such a delight, and technically very interesting, thanks so much for sharing all the steps we never say it enough.
I love your whole book, a delicate one in these soft and beautiful tones you love, but with striking messages and wonderful feeling on each page! Fabulous textures and details too, each page looking similar at first view, but very different after looking better.
Really amazing work, what a start to this new mini-books challenge, you set high standards my dear Alison!! :-) xx

Paper Profusion said...

Truly beautiful Alison!! These sing of your trademark style. Nicola x

Sue said...

This is so beautiful Alison, I really like the way the tags are the same but different. I normally shy away from batch making, but this looks quite therapeutic. Have a lovely week, Sue xx

Margaret Mifsud said...

Wow!! What a wonderful tag book you have created Alison, it is absolutely gorgeous!! I love the soft muted tones and the textures are wonderful .. the crackle finish looks absolutely delicious!!! So inspiring!!

Karen Dunbrook said...

love this...wonderfully done!

Anke said...

WOW WOW WOW absolutely stunning, I love your tag book, Alison. The tags are wonderful and so lovely.


Julia Aston said...

What a beautiful meditation tag book Alison! Wonderful layerings, colors and decoration on each page - it certainly would be soothing to sit quietly while flipping through each page!

Ruth said...

So liking this mini album inspiration, the crackle tags are so lovely in the faded blue and each one is beautifully decorated but the cover is just gorgeous, I have an mdf tag album and never been quite sure what I wanted to do with it until now...definitely inspired! Love it Ruth xxx

Jackie PN said...

Absolutely Amazing and oh so Glorious Alison!!!
These pages are so wonderful, and yes, I am glad I had a fresh (large) cuppa with mt! I do every time I read your posts, because I always pour over it one or twice before moving on with my day! heehee
Thank you so much for sharing your details,just gorgeous!
Jackie xo

Marjie Kemper said...

What a feast for the eyes! Love these beauties and your wonderful photos.

Gio said...

Such a little treasure, Alison. So delicate and elegant. Thanks for sharing SBS, it's always amazing see the process!

A Pink said...

If I count correctly thats 17 beauties that together make one stunning tag book . I have a whole lot of LOVE for each and every one and those covers - WOW ! x

pearshapedcrafting said...

Oh My Alison! I am book marking this so I can take a longer look another day! Hugs, Chrisx

Maggie said...

Omg Alison so much gorgeousness to look at but look I did twice I didn’t want to miss a thing lol. Love the textures you have created and the calming colours looks like you had so much fun making this gorgeous tag book thanks for sharing all the stages.

Jenny Marples said...

What a gorgeous collection of tags, each one finished to perfection Alison. Thank you so much for joining us at Frilly and Funkie xx

Mrs.B said...

A beautiful book Alison, love the soft tones and each tag is beautifully decorated, a real treasure.
Avril xx

Lagene said...

AWESOME book, thanks for all those technique steps!

Inna Bronnikova said...

Hi, Alison!)) I love your whole book! Thank you very much for your participation in the challenge of MMW!