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...

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Happy Christmas

Hello all!  I'm here to wish you all a very merry Christmas.  I'd hoped to have a little festive tag ready just for today, but time ran away from me...  So, instead, here's some music - my favourite carol, In the Bleak Midwinter (Harold Darke's setting of Christina Rossetti's words) - and some warm candlelight (from my recent snowy triptych) to give light to the cold winter.

And my dapper vintage snowman joins me in wishing you all a peaceful and joyous festive season.
I'll be sharing gifts and feasting with close family, but for me it's also a time for hibernating with music, candlelight,
and some good books to read, sitting by the glowing Christmas tree.

I am planning some crafting and blog-visiting time between now and New Year's,
so I'll hope to be seeing you before we get to wishing one another a happy 2020! 
For now, stay warm, stay safe, celebrate and enjoy yourselves in whatever way seems to you best.

Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.
Paul Theroux

Winter is not a season, it's a celebration.
Anamika Mishra

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.
Edith Sitwell

Friday 20 December 2019

Sellotape Snowman

Hello all!  It really is nearly here now... how's everyone doing?

I've got a bit of decorative recycling for you today.  If you use up all your sellotape as you're wrapping presents, whatever you do don't throw away the inner cardboard circle.  Look what you can do with it instead!

I'm really happy with this dangling decoration, full of snowy sparkle, pinecones and cinnamon sticks, berries, rusty wire, and of course that delightful "vintage" snowman figurine.

I've always hung on to the leftover reels from my parcel tape, sure that they would come in handy craft-wise one day, but this is the first time I've found a use for one.

I started by giving it a good coat of white paint to give me a nice blank canvas, and then set to with the DecoArt chalk paints and crackle glaze.

As you all know, I love a bit of crackle, and this has plenty of it both inside...

... and out.  I think it's Relic (a soft grey) on the undercoat and then Everlasting (white!) over the top of the crackle glaze.  And that's not inking on the edges of the frame, that's rust from when I was wrapping it round - genuine distressing!

Painting the snowman himself was a little fiddly, but worth the effort...

... especially once I'd sanded back the Fresco paint in places to give it a chipped look, and added a coat of Distress Dry Glitter for that vintage sparkle.  

I used matte medium to glue it on, but rubbed some of it off for a worn look in places.

He gleams beautifully in the sunshine.  (It was honestly not summer when I took these pictures - just the one sunny day we've had in the midst of ceaseless rain lately and a non-deciduous bush in the background of some of the photos!)

He's even sparkly round the back!

I cut some planks of scrap cardboard to create the platform for him to stand on, and then added DecoArt Snowtex all over them, except where he needed to be.

The Idea-ology trees have had a few spritzes of Pumice Stone Distress Spray (I wanted to stick to neutrals with just that pop of red, rather than go for the full on green) and then a dry-brushing of snow white on the tips of the branches.

I snipped off the wooden bases so that I could stick the wire trunks directly into the cardboard planks.  Thankfully I remembered to make the holes for them before the Snowtex set solid.

I think it would still have been possible to get them in, but it would have been much harder work!

I knew from very early on that I wanted to include some festive gatherings - pinecones and berries, and maybe a cinnamon stick for good measure.

I just had to figure out how to attach them whilst making it possible still to hang up my decoration.

Rusty wire to the rescue!

It took a couple of goes of twisting it around the sellotape circle to get it in place as I wanted it.  It goes round the outside and then around the top edge of the frame a couple of times before looping over the top of the pinecones for the hanger part.

It needed plenty of Liquitex Heavy Body Gel Medium to glue down the pinecones and berries in place as the surface was quite bumpy what with all the wire!

I'd picked up these lovely frosted berries just a couple of days earlier in The Range.  They come on brown stems which echo the rusty wire beautifully once they're all twisted and gnarly.

Here's that extra loop of rusty wire over the top so that you can hang the whole thing up.

I gave myself another tricky photography session with this project, of course - and it was a windy day too, despite the sunshine!  Trying to get the thing to stay still was quite the game.

But if it does revolve all the way round, at least the view is pretty good from the back too.

For once there are no words on this project - but maybe once a year that's okay, don't you think?  (The last one I can remember that had no words at all was Walking in a Ginger Wonderland, three Christmases ago - but feel free to correct me if you think I'm wrong!)

I hope you're all almost ready for the festive season.  I'll be decorating the tree this weekend and baking some Christmas biscuits too, so if I'm not in the mood by Monday, I guess I never will be! 

I'm sorry I'm not a very good visitor at the moment, but things will improve over the festive break.

For now, my friendly snowman and I are wishing the very best of good luck to you all for the final countdown!   Oh, and watch out on Saturday for more festivities over at Cestina's Dollshouses.  See you again soon.

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.
From A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

I'm pretty sure I've used that quote before, but I love it!

I'd like to join in at Try It On Tuesday where they know that Christmas Is Coming
Anything Goes over at Moo Mania & More
At the Creative Artiste Challenge as usual Anything Mixed Media Goes

Sunday 15 December 2019

Sparkling Snow

Hello all!  I hope all your festive preparations well on the way to completion.  We'll be heading out to find a tree in the next couple of days (if it stops raining) ready for decorating probably this time next week, and then sitting back to dream of a white Christmas.  The theme at PaperArtsy this fortnight is Sparkle, and for me there was only one choice at this time of year... snow!

My project over at the PaperArtsy blog this evening is full of sparkling snow, so rather than the real thing (which I know can be a nuisance in real life), why not hop over there to enjoy the faux version?  If you want to see the candle lit, you'll simply have to hop!

Oh, and if you're a miniatures fan and you'd like a bit more entertainment, there's a new, highly theatrical post to enjoy over at Cestina's Dollshouses too.

Thank you so much for stopping by today and for hopping.  I'll be back with another seasonal offering in a few days, so I shall hope to see you again then.

The snow is sparkling like a million little suns.
Lama Willa Miller

Thursday 12 December 2019

Soar too high

Hello all, I'm here with an entry for this month's theme at Art Journal Journey.  The fabulous Yvonne, a.k.a. Meggymay, is looking for Words and Numbers.  I thought I would have joined in before now, and had hoped to get quite a few pages done (as I did last December), but it hasn't quite gone according to plan.  But I'm here with my first page earlier in the month than I've usually managed this year.

I promised myself I'd manage at least one page per month for AJJ in 2019, and I've stuck to that, even though it has only been one each time.  But I'm going to try and finish with a flourish.  With a theme like this, hopefully I'll manage a couple more before December is over.  It's not like there's anything else to keep me busy!

Today's page is done in the same kraft journal as all of last December's twelve pages, and shares quite a few features with them, but it's not strictly seasonal, as all of those definitely were.

I started out with some wide tissue tape strips... already getting some words into play as you can see.

I used a palette knife to smear on gesso and then some of Dina Wakley's Medieval paint (a Black Friday purchase).

It's a wonderful metallic pewter colour with a fabulous sheen.

I spattered the leftover silvery paint along with some Snowflake Fresco paint...

... and that was the background done and ready to play.

The next task was to flick through the seasonal Paper Dolls to see if anyone wanted to come out to play.

As soon as I tried this dapper chap in his opulent furs against the background, I knew he was the one.  But there was something just a bit too cocky about him for this to be a straightforward celebration.

I found myself reaching for the portrait of the older man (I think it may be from the Regions Beyond paper stash) - his father or grandfather, perhaps.  Somebody who built a company up from the ground through sheer hard work...

... leaving this chap in the financially advantageous position he is today.  But not having had to work hard for his wealth, he's been squandering it on expensive clothes, fast cars and high living.  What will there be left to pass on to his son in the end?

I think the stamped numbers and scribbled words I added must be from those early days of the hard-working grandfather - coming up with ideas, working hard and investing wisely, treating his workforce well in order to build the company.

They're stamped in Watering Can Archival to tone in with the Medieval Pewter in the background.

But the tangled thread weaving around the figures and notations shows the chaos that our current managing director has been creating in the company by letting things drift, preferring to spend his time on wild parties and long holidays.

The raven is perhaps an ominous sign of trouble ahead.  (He was left over from my Sunrise, Sunset book cover... no room for him there, so he's been hovering around the craft table, and now he's here to cause trouble.)

The words are from my PaperArtsy EAB11 Wings & Flight set, stamped in Archival and embossed with my favourite Liquid Platinum powder.

He's been soaring high on the proceeds of his grandfather's and father's work, rather than on his own hard graft.  If you've done the work, built the wing muscle, you can soar as high as you like, but otherwise...

Hopefully he'll heed the warning of the raven's arrival and turn things around before it's too late.  He needs to think of his son and what he'll be passing on.

(I like how the Liquid Platinum gives us another metallic gleam to echo the paint in the background.)

There are letters and numbers, scientific formulae perhaps related to the work his grandfather did all those years ago, built in to the tissue tape shadow our current chap is standing on...

... and there's a film strip running through the whole spread - maybe another sign of the glamorous life he's been leading...

... or perhaps a reminder that things are being recorded and remembered for posterity, another nudge for him to turn his attention to his legacy.

This, after all, is the time of year for miraculous transformations (I'm looking at you, Ebenezer Scrooge!).

Time to review, refresh, and reform his life for the better...  he'd better start doing some work on those accounts to make sure the numbers start adding up again!

I was quite surprised when things took the dark turn they did, but that's what often happens when I'm playing with the Paper Dolls or with the Photobooth photos, come to that.

They start to tell me stories and I just have to follow their lead.  Still, let's all hope that a Scrooge-like alteration is just around the corner and that all will be well.  Turns out the page is somewhat seasonal after all!

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I hope you're finding a bit of crafting time in between the Christmas preparations - or at least a bit of time to put your feet up occasionally.  See you again soon, either here or elsewhere in Craftyblogland.

It is our own thoughts that hold the key to miraculous transformation.
Marianne Williamson

I'd like to share this in the Words and Numbers challenge at Art Journal Journey.
At Moo Mania & More they are playing Anything Goes

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Encore - Magical Trees

Hello all!  December is running away from me!  I'll have something new for you tomorrow (or the day after, depending on when I get the post written), but for now I thought I'd share a sparkly winter creation which appeared over at the Country View Crafts blog in December 2015, when I was still on the team there.  I've chosen to share this one now partly in honour of the Sparkle theme over at PaperArtsy this fortnight.  (Watch out for me over there in a week or so!).  If you're not sure what I mean by an "Encore", check out the low-down at the end of the post.  Here's what I wrote back in 2015...

Hello all, Alison here with some sparkling fir trees for you.  I don't break out the glitter very often, but if not at Christmas, then when?!  And after a brief skirmish with the bright traditionals, red, gold and green, I'm back in my neutrals comfort zone... in fact pretty much monochromatic.

It's also my first time having a play with Tim Holtz's new Vintage Platinum Glitter Dust... I think it probably won't be the last!

For the background, I swiped Ground Espresso, Pumice Stone and Hickory Smoke inks on to my craft mat and did some wrinkle-free distress technique on to the tag.  It turned out there was more Ground Espresso than the rest, so it all got rather dark rather quickly.  I spattered some Fresco Snowflake over it to lighten things.

Then I thought it would be nice to have some snowfall, so I used the Speckles layering stencil to add some more white paint, and sponged a bit on to the foot of the tag too, to create some snow drifts.  I decided there wasn't quite enough snowfall, so I added a couple of spritzes of DecoArt Media Mister in Shimmer White.

Turns out that was a good idea, as you get a whole lot more shimmer into the bargain!

The trees were cut using the wonderful Woodlands Thinlits, and I painted them with some Ground Espresso Distress Paint so that they would be the right colour under the glitter dust.

I used Sticky Embossing Powder to adhere my Vintage Platinum Glitter Dust, and then rubbed some off again in places so that the trees would have a slightly more distressed "bark" look.  Yeah, right... whoever heard of glittering bark?!

I used a pastel pencil to create some shading under the trees to ground them.

And I stamped the word from the Handwritten Holidays #1 set in Versamark before embossing with dark brown embossing powder.

The whole thing is mounted on some white card, both layers distressed with the Distressing Tool.  And I topped it off with some simple Crinkle Ribbon (slightly grunged with a hint of Ground Espresso) and fine twine.

It was a bit of a nightmare trying to photograph my sparkling trees, balancing the tag in the ivy in strong wind, trying to catch the last rays of the afternoon sun....  sometimes catching one bit of shimmer, sometimes another.

But I hope you think it was worth it.


There you go... earthy and sparkly and snowy all in one go!  Thanks so much for stopping by today.  As I said, I hope to be back with something new for you very soon.  I hope all is going well with everyone's Christmas preparations.  I think I'm behind!!  (That will be the winter bug that set me back, I suppose.  Thankfully I am feeling much better - thank you all for asking.  Avoid it if you can... it's a stinker!)  Good luck all!

The waving of a pine tree on the top of a mountain - a magic wand in Nature's hand...
John Muir

Encore Posts
Projects which made their first appearances elsewhere for Design Team duties or Guest Designer opportunities, but which only had a sneak peek here, are being gathered together in the pages of my virtual scrapbook while I'm busy.
As always, the Encore Posts are formatted differently from the regular ones, so that you can easily spot them.  Please don't feel that you have to comment all over again!