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 21 September 2018

Curiouser and Curiouser

Hello all!  I'm here today with the results of a lovely day last week spent Skype-crafting with Brenda of Bumblebees and Butterflies and Nikki of Addicted to Art.

We've all been feeling a bit out of the swing of things and struggling for mojo, so it was fabulous to loosen up, get messy and laugh a lot together, thanks to the magic of the internet.

We each worked on a large surface - either a giant MDF tag or a large panel - and we are all sharing our creations simultaneously today.

If you hop around the whole trio, you'll see how differently they each turned out, even though we were all following the same process steps.  Here's mine...

I had such a lovely time with this project, and I have no doubt that the company and the process helped with that.

We took it in turns to suggest what the next layer or technique should be - keeping the instructions fairly loose, so that there was a bit of flexibility built in.

I was working on one of That's Crafty's Gigantags (whose name was invented by Nikki when she was on the DT there), so it's huge - 15 x 7.5 inches... lots of space to play on.

So what did we do?  Grab a cup of coffee and read on...

The first instruction was Brenda's - and she very sensibly suggested that we should seal the substrate with gesso.  Nikki was next, and hers was "use some texture paste in any way you wish".

I sponged on my gesso, and added some Finnabair Plaster Paste just with a palette knife in opposite corners, and then from there I "grew" some plant tendrils by adding some more of the paste through a stencil.

For my turn, I offered "dilute some paint and apply it in any way you wish".  I used DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylic in Payne's Grey to add a wash of colour.  I put some on the craft mat and gave it a few spritzes of water before splodging it onto the textured corners of the tag.

I then spritzed that with more water and allowed it to run in a very diluted wash up and down the rest of the tag.  And finally I did a bit of splatter with what was left over on the craft mat.

Next up was adding crackle in any way you want (B).  This was the only bit that went a little awry for me.  My DecoArt One Step Crackle, usually utterly reliable, simply didn't get the time it really needed to do its thing properly.

There ended up being a bit of crackle at the thinner edges, and I found a way to cheat the uncrackled parts later...

We did try to leave time.  Rather than an individual suggestion, we all agreed that, to give the crackle time to dry, next we should spend some time gathering potential embellishments.  

And then to continue to allow crackle-drying time, we did some altering of those embellishments... adding texture to one or more of them (N), and then colour to one or more of them (me).

This is when I started to build my shelf.  It's just a couple of layers of cardboard packaging, cut to size and then embossed with the gorgeous Lumber 3D Texture Fade.

I added colour to it with Distress Stains and Crayons until I had a weathered look that I liked.  I don't seem to have a progress shot of that bit...

... so here's how it was by the end.  As it turned out, I had to pull apart the two original pieces and stick another bit of cardboard in between to create a thick enough shelf, edged with plain tape to disguise the corrugate.

I also die-cut, embossed and inked the dragonfly at this point.  (Brenda had just discovered a pile of them in her stash that she'd cut for a workshop and not used, and as soon as I saw her waving them around, I wanted to use one - so there's an element that might not have made the cut if not for this Skypeing inspiration.)

Next step was "create a panel to use in building layers" (B).  You can see from the embellishments I was starting to arrange on the table beside the craft mat that I'd already planned to use some pre-made panels and frames on my tag, so now I decided to create an additional one which would add some more "wood" to echo the bookshelf.

I glued some more bits of cardboard together, die-cut them to an oval and went through the same steps as for the shelf.  You can see it taking its place in the upper left-hand corner as I continue to play with composition.

(And you can also see from the shine that the crackle is still annoyingly wet at this point.)

Now for some more colour... "apply a coat of paint to the background in any way you like" (N).  I added some Vintage Effect Wash in Patina, sponging it on and spritzing to let it pool and spread.

I then added some more vivid greens in the same way - a mixture of Fresco Hey Pesto and Hyde Park.

My paint layers were interspersed with my own next suggestion - background stamping.  I wanted to ink up my scrumptious new cobwebs from Tim Holtz.  I think they look stunningly delicate in Watering Can Archival.

And a few Potting Soil insects from the Entomology set also crawled their way into position.

For the next layer - dip, drip and dry some watery washes (B, of course!) - I used the same paint colours as were already present - some Payne's Grey, some of the Patina and a touch of the greens.

Since the tag is rigid, and there's the texture paste creating a dimensional barrier, I wasn't able to press right down into the paint on the craft mat, so more often than not I just got little dots of paint - which I loved... they looked like splatter!  So I added extra water to some of them, but not all (sorry, Brenda!).

Nikki invited us to "edge the base in whatever way you want".  I think all of us went for darkening it to draw the eyes inwards.  I certainly did - using some Archival Inks and Distress Crayons in the darkest browns.  It has the added benefit of bringing some of the texture into sharper focus.

I was busy playing, so all these photos come at pretty much the end of that whole batch of suggestions.

I was next up, and I really needed some time to work on what was really going to go on over the top of the background (which I very much loved by this point).

So my offering was for us to take some time working out the composition and design and finalising any embellishments we wanted to add.  For instance, I decided I wanted a lot more ephemera collaging in the background.

There followed a lovely period of quiet, intense, focussed work.  All you could hear were the occasional rustles of people searching for extra bits and bobs, or sanding or inking the final additions, and then working to arrange them on the substrate.

My little boy had been at the heart of things all the way from the start, but now I needed to make sure he had everything he needed for his collections.

I needed to fill the jars and vials... some glass chips and sand from a certain Swedish furniture store, funnelled in through a twist of paper.

I also decided to add a touch of gesso to the jars for a shabbier look, and dyed the corks a little darker with some Distress Stain.

As I was arranging them on the shelf (lying down still at that point, as I hadn't started gluing anything down), I suddenly realised that what it "needed" was one of the Tim Holtz skulls for the boy's collection.

And I also realised that I'd completely forgotten about the one element I'd been thinking of using even before we started the whole process... some moss.  So, as I started gluing down all the layers of ephemera and the panel boards and the frame, I had a lovely time tucking bits of greenery here and there.

It occurred to me that the jars might be a bit heavy for my cardboard shelf, and I was thrilled with my brainwave for the shelf brackets... two of those ornate metal corner decorations from Idea-ology - perfect!

I solved the lack of crackle by adding some more background stamping (from the earlier instruction, so not cheating!) - using a crackle stamp over the areas where there wasn't much going on.

If you look closely, you can see there is some actual crackle too, round the tag hole.

The glass pebbles also put in an appearance at this point.

I love that they are the perfect colour to go with everything around them, and how they catch the light.

Brenda saved me some trouble by making her final instruction: "Do an Alison and add some words"!  I'd known for some time that I wanted some Quote Chips, and had planned to make words my next addition, so that was great.

The choice of words was obvious for this boy and his collections, and all the ephemera which clearly show his curiosity about nature and the world around him.

Nikki's last offer was to "add a touch of gold".  I said could it be "add a touch of metallic" as I thought something silvery might work better with my colour tones.  She generously agreed, and then I ended up using gold after all in any case!

It is the Treasure Gold White Fire, so it's a silvery gold, but still... it turns out Nikki was completely right (though she couldn't have known that!) - the gold brings a lovely warmth.

And no guesses what my final suggestion was... yup, splatter!  I find it very hard to live without a touch of white splatter these days, but I left the colour of splatter open so that the other two could go wherever they needed to for their projects.

I heard Brenda adding some cheeky last minute rub-ons, and was inspired to do the same.

Then it was time for the big reveal, as we each held up our creations for the others to see.

And it was so much fun to see where these process steps had taken each of us.

I have to say it was a little unsatisfactory peering at the slightly blurry Skype screen (divided into three for the group call, so each camera shot was a third of the size of the iPad itself.

I can't wait to see the proper photos over at Bumblebees and Butterflies and Addicted to Art today.

Craft and art-making is usually a solitary activity for me, and I do like it that way - but this was a great way to free up the mojo a bit.  Bouncing ideas around with like-minded creatives, and sharing the burden of deciding what to do next, and also having a little less control at times, all contributed to the joy of this make.  We plan to do it again!

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I hope you've enjoyed this journey even half as much as I did.  And I hope you'll all find ways to release your own creative mojo this weekend.   Happy crafting all!

When shall we three meet again?
From Macbeth by William Shakespeare (I know it's meant to be unlucky to quote from "The Scottish Play" - but it was irresistible)

I'd like to share this in the Anything Goes theme It's Been A While over at Stamps and Stencils
The Creative Artiste Mixed Media Challenge are playing Anything Mixed Media Goes
At the Mix It Up Challenge Blog they are playing Anything Goes with an optional twist of Layering
They're asking us to Slap It On at Try It On Tuesday - done!


Kate Yetter said...

SO many lovely things on this tag! Curiosities indeed!Beautiful, Alison.

Helen said...

what a fantastic way to craft, and I love your gigantag results (great name) - it looks amazing. Off to check out Brenda and Nikki now.

Valerie-Jael said...

Wonderful piece, glad you three had fun! Hugs, Valerie

Anke said...

WOW WOW WOW absolutely stunning, Alison. Fantastic work and I love all the lovely things an this beautiful tag.


hazel said...

This is amazing Alison, I love the colours, textures, design - everything.
xxx Hazel.

Diana Taylor said...

What a wonderful way to create - and what an amazing end result. I love all your beautiful adornments and textures, everything works in perfect harmony. Lots of fun and a stunning piece of work at the end of it - what more could you want!
Diana x

froebelsternchen said...

This is simply fantastic Alison! Such a beautiful tag and great that you had so much fun together!
So glad you linked this beautiful piece to Try It On Tuesday - much appriciated !Thank you !
I wish a happy weekend to you!
Hugs, Susi

Amanda said...

So many perfect details, beautiful result sound like a fun wsy to kick start the mojo
Amanda x

craftytrog said...

Wow! It's a wonderful tag Alison!
Alison xx

My name is Erika. said...

This is fantastic Alison. I love the Halloween but not Halloween feel to it. Happy almost weekend. Hugs-Erika

Rosie said...

Wowowow, this tag is gorgeous, Alison

Thank you for joining us at TRY IT ON TUESDAY

Anonymous said...

What a fun day! I wondered how the shelf was attached and able to support all of the elements... brackets! Yes, I like that brainwave, too. Lovely piece. Looking forward to checking out the other two makes. Hugs from Kentucky.

Let's Art Journal said...

Wow, what an amazing tag! It looks like you had a wonderful time crafting with your friends too, it must have been so much fun 😀. I loved seeing the process you followed and the detail on the background is beautiful! Then there are all the embellishments you added, those little jars of glass look so precious. I love it! Sending you happy and creative wishes! J 😊 x

Let's Art Journal said...

... Thanks so much for joining us at Try it on Tuesday too! J 😊 x

Roosterhead Designs said...

Hello Allison,
What a great surprise to find your beautiful blog! I was able to peruse several post and see your beautiful work~
This Giantboard creation is a complete delight; with all it's magnificent layers of texture and authentic vintage appeal~
I was esp. infatuated with the shelf you created; What a remarkable idea! : )
Your 'Skype' party sounds like a wonderful way to take an artful journey with friends! So glad to visit your inspiring blog~ Hugs, karen o

Marci said...

A quiet tag but very interesting with the layers and subtle colors. Wonderful!

Chrissy said...

Brilliant Alison..love all the details and the dimension..fabulous.


Craftyfield said...

What a fabulous step by step, Alison! I'm inspired to follow suit, as I too have suffered from a deserting mojo after the holidays, as it does tend to do every holiday! I love the texture on your tag and your excellent shelf design! Enjoy the weekend, make it a crafty one! xx

Lenie said...

Oh, it's so beautiful!!!!!!!!!
Amazing how you used so many different things, I love it!
Have great weekend!

Meggymay said...

It sounds like you all had a fabulous day crafting via the internet together.
Your project looks fabulous, wonderful textures, paint layers and great finishing details.
Thank you for joining us all over at Try it on Tuesdays, its lovely to see you there.
Yvonne xx

Fliss said...

An absolutely stunning tag Alison. So much wonderful attention to detail and texture and can see that the Skype session was a great success and is a lovely idea too.
Fliss xx

Astrid Maclean said...

Wow, that certainly was one successful session by the looks of it! I know Brenda and Nikki did this once before, - making it into a threesome, sounds like even more fun and the results looks superb! My favourite bit is that little shelf! Altogether a superb project though, love every corner of it!

pearshapedcrafting said...

What fun - I shall wait to get home to see Brenda's and Nicki's. Yoors looks amazing, just love the texture! I am here for a catch up having been rained off on our final night in Prague! We have most of tomorrow too and it should be cooler! Hugs,Chrisx

Joan said...

Wow, what a fabulous tag and I loved reading all the process too, sounds like a fun day for the three of you.

Redanne said...

Crafting with friends is just the best and your 'session' was certainly successful. Your collaged, textured tag is fabulous! I love how the paper doll boy is casually leaning against the shelf, he looks right at home! Must go and see the others now... Anne xx

Lys said...

What a wonderful crafting shared time you spent with Brenda and Nikki! The result is beautiful, a piece of a "cabinet de curiosités". I love the cobwebs!
Also, thanks for playing along with us at Creative Artiste Mixed Media challenge!

Cath Wilson said...

Lots of 'slapping it on' here and what a great effect? LOVE the shelf idea and all the individual elements you used. A lot of attention to detail and well worth it from the end result.

Thank you so much for sharing your art with us over at TIOT.

Cath x

Mary Elizabeth said...

Crafting by committee. Seriously such a brilliant use of teleconferencing technology. Thanks so much for allowing us to live this experience vicariously through your blog. I can't wait to visit Nikki and Brenda's projects and see how these steps translated into their makes. I adore the layering that happened as a result of this collaboration. I can see how this process would definitely kickstart the creative mojo. I love how you described Brenda's dragonflies find and how that impacted your decisions to include one on your project. It's amazing what we have in out stash. I love the descriptions of your annoyance with the crackle. I so have been there!!! There are so many favorite details here. Of course, I love the focal child. Our eye goes to him immediately and then does this incredible meandering over his "treasures". Yes ... Tim's skull is perfect here. I don't know what it is about the glass chips in the bottles, but I just sit and look at the go ... "oh how pretty". I seem to be very easily distracted these days. So many lovely things to get distracted by on this amazing tag. My favorite discovery on your tag are the corbel-esque brackets that you made for your shelf using Tim's metal corner ... so freaking brilliant! Ok .. I could go on for days. This has been some of the best time that I have spent relaxing in the last week. Thanks so much for taking us on this journey with you. Perhaps we can try this some day when you are back in the states. How fun. Hugs -- Mary Elizabeth

Mac Mable said...

So enjoyed reading your post. Learnt lots and was totally inspired. Fabulous project and what great fun you had together x.

Anita Houston The Artful Maven said...

Gorgeous! LOVE the texture on the background and all the layers, especially the shelf! Awesome!

Nikki Acton said...

What fun we had! I recall your saying 'this makes me happy' when you discovered your shelf brackets - well the whole tag makes me happy!! I had missed so many details on the small screen and now am enjoying them so much. The moss, the cobwebs, the gesso on the bottles - I love them all. A stunning skype creation Alison. Nikki xxxx

Paper Wishes said...

This is a great tag and how great it is to craft together online! I like the way you 'grew' the plant tendrils out of your paste so organically. the Ideology shelf brackets are genius they look perfect. you can see your eye for miniatures coming out in this piece. I love the colours and detail in the edges of your tag the whole project is full of whimsy and very beautiful. Im off the check out the other crafters from your session. thanks for sharing your time and process. and thank you for your visits and kind comments x

pearshapedcrafting said...

Yes we did get to Golden Lane, and could have spent longer there(promised ourselves a longer visit next time)All of the castle area is beautiful and if my feet hadn't been aching so much we would have seen more of it! From what we saw of the Czech countryside from the train it is beautiful! Wishing you a wonderful time!! Hugs, Chrisx

Anneke said...

Your tag looks amazing! Love all the details and the textures on the background! Thanks for sharing your process!

Tracey@Hotchpotchcreations said...

So much interest and intrigue to discover Alison, I could seriously spend hours looking at this incredible piece. I adore that little shelf!
What an uplifting play day, thank you for sharing your amazing outcome.
Hugs & creative wishes Tracey xx

Mrs.B said...

A fabulous tag Alison and what a fun day you must have had. Loved seeing the process you followed and the little shelf is brilliant.
I see you've linked this to TioT, so thanks for sharing there.
Avril xx

FiKenward said...

So much amazing detail in such a small area, thanks for joining us over at. https://creativeartistemixedmedia.blogspot.com

pearshapedcrafting said...

Uh! Oh! Me again - forgot to say how pleased I am that you have linked to Try It On Tuesday! More hugs, Chrisx

Dorthe said...

Oh do I love this, Alison, -it is so gorgeous, -wonderful with the shelf you made him, to hang on, and the skull to be in the collection- beautiful tones with the sepia boy ,and your amazing background, for all the texture .
Hugs Dorthe

Gio said...

Well, one of your best artwork ever!!! The virtual presence of your friends inspired you a lot, for sure! I love love the magical mini vials , and the window, and the subtle texture and I carry on and on....

Sue said...

Wow this is fabulous, all those beautiful layers, and what a great idea to do it together! xx

Andree said...

A fantastic tag! Such great depth and so many gorgeous details, colours and textures. I loved reading the story of how your amazing work of art was created, especially as I took part in one of Brenda's workshops on Tuesday and saw her finished project in real life. What a fun and productive day you all had.
Thank you for joining in with our September challenge "Anything Mixed Media Goes" at Creative Artiste Mixed Media. Good luck x

rachel said...

absolutely brilliant - the depth is amazing - I need to pop over and see what those other two lovely ladies created too xx

SueC said...

Fantastic tag Alison, love how the image appears to be leaning on the shelf. Thanks for joining us at Stamps and Stencils. Sue C x

Ruth said...

Always enjoy your posts but was so intrigued by what’s going to happen next? Great idea to skype craft and love the results, the skull and moss really finished the piece off. Delightful!! Thanks so much for joining us at Stamps and Stencils again this month. Ruth xx

FiestyCrafter (Tina) said...

WOW! What an amazing tag!! You really paid attention to details. Love this! Thanks for joining us at MIUCB
Tina dt

Evelyn Walter said...

It´s a great idea to challenge each other and support each other´s MOJO at the same time!
Your tag is wonderful, especially the little shelf.
Evelyn xx

Paper Profusion said...

Well if ever an example is needed for 'how to artistically layer with exceptional pzazz', then I shall direct them to your post! Repeated wowzas from me!! Nicola

A Pink said...

Absolutely Stunning! Design and execution faultless . So many extra special touches. Think this one hit my 'Alison's favourite list'.

Thanks so much for sharing the steps and your time creating together with Brenda and Nikki.

Hugs x