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 18 February 2018

Secret Things

Hello all!  I don't seem to be doing very well at finding spare time at the moment, but I did have a little Oxide background play and came up with this tag as a result.

Also, as promised, I have a couple of photos for you of my travelling craft stash, all set out ready to play on my day off, Sunday.

Let's take a look at the tag first though.

I was just feeding my crafting itch with a little wrinkle-free distress smooshing of Distress Inks and Oxides in combination, and this green secret garden tag is the first of the several resulting backgrounds to get any further.

The fabulous meadow grass flowers are by Rubber Dance, and are stamped in Olive Green Archival over the inky background.

The little girl is from one of the newer releases of Paper Dolls, picked up at Michaels, here in New York.  (I've not dared order them online because it's often not clear whether you're getting the new set or not.)

I just love the directness of her gaze.

She's perched on a "rope swing" - a.k.a. some natural twine - and there's some tissue tape forming shadows underneath.

The same twine forms the topping.  I like to keep things simple sometimes.

I just love these grasses... you'll be seeing more of them.  And of course there are other lovely ones in the set too - very glad I decided to bring them with me for their first inking!

Of course, I couldn't come to New York without some of my quote stamps - this one is from EAB03 Music & Silence.

The quote is also stamped in Olive Archival, and Rainer Maria Rilke gets the credit for his words down in the bottom corner of the tag.

I roughed up the edges of the tag, and added a penwork border and some white spatter to finish things off.

So, to the workspace.  Here are my supplies laid out around a couple of craft mats.  I'm very fortunate in this apartment to have a beautiful wooden table large enough to leave the craft space operational as well as have space for my laptop and also to eat.  Couldn't be better.  (I was here last year, and asked to come back to the same place if it was possible... happily, it was.)

As you can see, I brought some mini Distress Inks and a few carefully selected Oxides with me (and I do have the new ones on order to arrive with me here shortly).  And over to the left, my tin of watercolours is sitting on top of some pads of paper bought at Blicks since arriving.  There are some watercolour pencils too, and pens, brushes and plastic palette knives all organised into glasses from the kitchen.  And my US heat tool was a must-bring item.

The table is right next to a large window, with a nice broad windowsill where the overflow craft supplies - Archival inks and gesso, for instance - sit very happily.

There's a selection of stamps to the right (including, as I said, several of my own EAB word sets), along with a Midori-style journal and small Moleskine art journal.

In this useful basket I have some blank tags, stencils, word stickers, various embossing powders and mediums, tissue tapes, an old book to tear pages out of, and a few more stamps.

It's very hard to know which stamps you might want for eleven weeks away from home!

You can see some of the other Oxide/Ink backgrounds ready to play with on the mats...

... and here's a close-up of that little sketch, which I made with a dipping pen and some walnut ink.

I rather like this pair of village gossips... I'm sure they're talking about all sorts of secret things, but my guess is the girl from the tag would rather be alone than hear the kinds of secrets they're sharing!

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I really will try to repay some of your lovely visits soon, but, as always, I am so deeply immersed in the creative processes of the rehearsal room that I'm pretty shattered by the end of each day.  Still, there will be catching up time at some point, and I always love finding out what you've all been up to in the meantime.  Happy crafting all!

Those who cannot keep their own secrets ought not to be entrusted with the secrets of others.
William Scott Downey

Sunday 11 February 2018

No Small Dreams

Hello all!  Apologies for the deafening silence here at Words and Pictures...  I've been settling back in to New York rhythms and the first week of rehearsals so that's been taking almost all my time and energy.  But I'm very happy you've been enjoying my rusty bubbles and springtime tea-sachet-book so much in the meantime!  And soon I'll share some pictures of my temporary craft space and travelling stash (already augmented with some NYC shopping - unfortunately there's a branch of Blicks Art Supplies right around the corner from the rehearsal studios!).

But for now, as promised, I'm here with a few making-of details of some of my samples for my newest quote stamps.  Catch the full launch post here at PaperArtsy.  Since time is at a premium, I'm trying to keep these posts pretty short and sweet, but you know me...

I'm starting in dreamy mode with a pair of tags showcasing words from EAB07 Dreaming & Doing.

I find so much inspiration in this set of words about dreaming big and what happens when you put your dreams into action.

The colour palette for this launch included some of Seth Apter's new paint set 4, so there's an unusual hint of pink which may surprise my regulars, but I was immediately right at home with the beautiful new blues.

And once I'd worked out that the Mulberry and Mushroom could combine with the blues to give me wonderful dawn and dusk skies, I was a very happy crafter!

The tags themselves are really very simple.  I started with a crackle background using the Steel Grey and Venice Blue as my first layer, followed by the PaperArtsy Crackle Glaze, applied in a thin layer with a palette knife.  Over that went some of the delicately pale Glacier Ice.

Next I started sponging on my sky-blue-pinks.  I used a natural sponge - I find you get a much softer effect than with anything artificial - and applied the paints in layers until I was happy... blending and softening with the paler Mushroom and Chalk colours when necessary.

All the stamping is done in Watering Can Archival and then clear-embossed.  (They're all PaperArtsy stamps - the tree is from Urban Snapshots Nature Plate 1 and the grasses are from the new Kay Carley plate EKC17.)

The embossing gives me the light-reflecting dimensionality I love, as well as deepening the intensity of the stamping, thanks to the refracted light.

That makes the images and the words show up with more clarity against the background.

There had to be some splatter, of course... Chalk Fresco paint was also in my palette, and that did the job beautifully.

There you go... I told you I'd be short and sweet - that's about as short as my blogposts get (unless they're sneak peeks).

I hope Gandhi and Goethe (and Gloria below) will inspire you to do some dreaming this week.  I'll try not to be away for so long before the next post, and I may even manage some visiting in Craftyblogland now that I'm slightly settled in.  In the meantime, happy crafting all!

Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.
Gloria Steinem

Friday 2 February 2018

Bubble, bubble, boil and bubble

Okay, yes, I'm misquoting, but it's bad luck to quote that particular play properly anyway... and I really wanted to draw attention to the theme of this month's challenge at A Vintage Journey - we'd like you to Melt It!

Our host for February is the lovely Julia, and you'll find all the instructions and details of what she's looking for over at A Vintage Journey, along with lots of amazing inspiration from my fellow Creative Guides.  Suffice it to say, we'd like you to get things bubbling and melting!

(After a quiet January, it's all gone a bit crazy in the last few days, so just a nudge or two... If you missed the release of my latest stamps at PaperArtsy, do check them out.  And with yesterday being the first of the month, we've also kicked off a new challenge at Mini Album Makers so, if you've nothing better to do, you can also take a look at my inspiration book for that, Glimpses of Springtime.)

But back to A Vintage Journey... let's Melt It!

My melting has taken the form of some rusty bubbles filled with UTEE.  I wasn't sure where I was going when I started out, but I like where I ended up.

I started with some Distress Inks - Broken China and Pumice Stone - and Distress Oxides - Broken China and Frayed Burlap - and did some wrinkle-free distress smooshing.

You can probably just see the edge of the secondary tag created at the same time.  I thought about a pair of bubbly tags, but decided to save that second tag for something else in the end.

I formed my rings of rusty wire (not going for too much perfection) and book page fragments.

Firstly, I gave the book page a couple of coats of UTEE by itself, then I placed the rusty ring on to the surface and poured some more UTEE powder into it.  I should really have got the Melt Pot out, but I simply couldn't be bothered... I thought I'd try this first.

Oh, and I added a metal gear to each bubble for extra detail.  I did try out some word stickers too, but decided they'd be better on the outside of the bubbles.

There was a bit of leakage, as I hadn't tried to make my rusty rings "liquid-tight", but once I trimmed the spare paper off, it was all fine.

And overall I love the effect.

I love that you get the reverse side of the text showing as the paper becomes translucent with the UTEE.

And of course the glossy shine really makes me happy.

I guess the words in the bubble affected my choice of Paper Doll to go on the tag... though it was unconscious, if so.

On the surface level I was mostly going for the look of it.  I love how he's interacting with his strange world - hand on bubble.

There's some additional background stamping done with Tim's Etcetera stamp plate, full of great ephemera images.

And I scoured through the Clippings stickers to find words which would bring the tag story to life.

It's definitely a strange land...

... but not frightening...

... just full of curiosities and wonder.

I didn't even have to dye the ribbon for the top of the tag - it came with one of my Funkie Junkie Boutique parcels one time, and has been waiting for its moment ever since.

I'm still not entirely sure why but this tag really makes me happy.

I think it's to do with it bubbling up from the unconscious without me really knowing where it was going.  I love it when things you're making take you by surprise.

And I also like that it's quite different in mood according to whether the sun is shining on it or not... as you can see!

There's lots more inspiration over at A Vintage Journey where my amazing fellow Creative Guides have been melting things to their hearts' content.  We hope you'll be inspired to get out the embossing powders, the beeswax (my original intention), the wax crayons, or anything else you can melt. 

You might be selected as one of our Pinworthies, and one lucky randomly drawn winner will receive a gift voucher from this month's generous sponsor, the always-fabulous Country View Crafts.  Happy melting all!

I prefer to live in my own little bubble of my own reality.
Lauren Lee Smith

We live in a strange bubble.
Brian Molko

I'd like to share this at Stamps and Stencils where the theme is Off to Collage
And they're still Feeling Blue at That's Crafty Challenges, so I'd like to join in there too

Thursday 1 February 2018

Glimpses of Springtime

Hello all!  How did it get to be February already?!  I'm about to set off for another work stint in New York shortly, and it's been all go through January, so apologies for my absence in Craftyblogland.  As you now know, if you saw my latest stamp launch just a couple of days ago (catch up with the new word stamps here at PaperArtsy), I've been a bit busy.  I'm so delighted you like the look of the new words, and you've got another chance to see some of them in action right now.

We are starting a new month, so it's time for a new challenge at Mini Album Makers.  I've created a tiny album using the paper envelopes you sometimes get with herbal teabags.  (It's a photo-heavy post, so grab some tea or coffee, or something stronger, and enjoy the ride.)

I found myself in the blue-green zone, as often happens to me in January/February... seeking some brighter colours amidst the winter gloom.

This mini album is intended to give us all a tiny taste of the spring which will be along soon, we hope.  

I put the envelopes together using the same method as for my Wood Look Yule Book.

It's all to do with how you fold the flap back on itself to create your pages, but do check out that post for more details.

Originally, I'd planned this tiny album as my Mini Marvel for the Vintage Journey challenge last November, but I ended up going a different way with my Mini Marvels.

That's why there's a photo proving how small these teabag papers are though!

I lightly gesso'd all the inner pages, but left some of the printed text showing through in places, before spritzing with Distress Spray.

It's all entirely random, but just look at that accidental flower cluster on the left hand side of this page spread!

I added a piece of embossed card as my cover, gluing it to the outermost envelope pages, and gave that a spritz of the same Broken China spray.

Next step was some stamping on those internal pages.  I gathered various grasses and leafy stems and stamped in Olive and Leaf Green Archival inks.

I knew I wanted to use my new Spring Edition word stamps but couldn't decide what colour they should be stamped in.

I tried out a couple of stampings, and my favourite was stamping in Leaf Green and adding some light turquoise embossing powder over the top.

I didn't get complete coverage with the powder the first time because I was slow getting it onto the ink.  But I loved the effect, so I deliberately dabbed away some powder before heating the next quotes.

Some butterfly tissue tape wraps its way around the covers to give a little more springtime detail, and then the album sat there for a while as I decided what else might go on the pages.

In the end I kept it pretty simple with some Paper Dolls (all in the smallest sizes), some Design Tape and the quotes.  Just to vary it a little, a couple of the pages have Clippings stickers rather than EAB words.  Why don't we just turn the pages so you can take a look?  (Remember you can click on the little photos for a larger view.)

On the first page, the two little girls join a haiku by Matsuo Basho, a seventeenth century Japanese poet.  It seemed like a pretty good match... I mean, she's practically got a butterfly going on with that huge hair ribbon, right?

Page two finds a slightly grumpy trio, clearly still suffering from the gloom of winter.  I hope the promise of springtime will cheer them up soon... though perhaps they've just got a bit too much schoolwork on to enjoy it.  The Design Tape is a bit of a giveaway!

This wonderful girl in national costume arrives on page three, complete with her strange butterfly dreams. I love how the design tape gives you wonderful vintage detailing so easily, and the Clippings stickers are so full of delightfully off-beat phrases.

On page four we have some of my all-time favourite Paper Dolls - so they get the spritzed flower background, as well as this wonderful Harriet Ann Jacobs quote full of optimism.

Turning the page again, we come to another of my favourite Paper Dolls, so he gets to go with one of my favourite poets.

Almost there now, and time for some more Clippings stickers... (I sometimes wonder if I should brave the world of video for these handmade books, but then I think that I like the photography, so I'm sticking with it for now!)  The little dancer is full of shine and sparkle.

This chap appeared in his very largest form on my jumbo Believe in Adventure tags recently, and now here he is in his tiniest version... still propping himself up on whatever happens to be handy.

And on the final page spread, another little dancer brings a touch of springtime joy along with this Byron Caldwell Smith quote.

I love how the words capture that sense of excitement of the spring light after the wintry grey gloom which is pretty much all we have at the moment.

For the finishing touches on the cover, I used a bookplate made by Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts, one of our MAM sponsors, painted white and stamped with some subtle texture.

The lilies of the valley are cut from some dried flower stems which were being thrown out by a friend.

I tucked them in behind the label stamped with my little Hero Arts alphabet stamps and glued them down.

Some fine twine provides the fastening...

... and a bit of Leaf Green ink around the edges finishes it all off.

All that meant the butterflies disappeared somewhat, but I like that they're still nicely visible around the back!

If that's not enough inspiration, you'll find lots more beautiful books, journals and albums over at Mini Album Makers, created by my fabulous team-mates.

This month's sponsor is Lindy's Stamp Gang and they're generously offering a $25 gift certificate to our lucky winner, so do come and play along.  As always, any handmade book is welcome.  Hope to see you there soon.

“Is the spring coming?" he said. "What is it like?"...
"It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine...”
From The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

If you're around on social media, there's a Giveaway to celebrate Mini Album Makers new presence on Facebook and Instagram.  Check out all the details here at Mini Album Makers, and join in to win a fabulous giveaway prize.

And I'll be seeing you here again before you know it with some more challenge inspiration - it's all go right now!