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 August 2019

Last Days of Summer

I always need to be part of Tag Friday over at A Vintage Journey.

It's that lovely extra Friday in a challenge month when the Creative Guides are free to play any way they want, as long as it's on a tag.

I usually take the chance to return to basics with some fairly straightforward inking and stamping, remembering that uncomplicated joy I found right at the start of this crafting journey.

Although I love the complex mixed media assemblage pieces in 3D like this week's Stargazing Skeleton, sometimes it's nice to keep things simple (and it makes for shorter blogposts too!).

It's another smooshing extravaganza in the background.  There are Distress Inks and Oxides in various shades involved.

I know there's some Broken China, Peeled Paint, Shabby Shutters, and I think some Salty Ocean maybe.

I stamped a couple of my all-time favourite Tim Holtz images - and they're both ones I have on wood mounts.  I have very few wood-mounted stamps, but those I have are special to me.

The meadow grasses are stamped in Olive Archival, and the birds are in Watering Can. 

And then all that stamping is clear-embossed.

It's one of my favourite things to do for a number of reasons...

It helps an image stand out against a busy background.

It captures the light so beautifully - something I'm always trying to do - as well as giving a little bit of texture.

It has a wonderful effect of shimmering almost out of view at some angles.  So those migrating birds are here... and then they're gone.  It's a kind of magic!

There are some of my favourite dried flower stems...

... adding dimension to my meadow.

And the words are from my own PaperArtsy EAB01 Trees & Flowers stamp set.

They're stamped in Broken China Distress Oxide, and they've been clear-embossed too.

The tag is mounted on some white card, inked at the edges naturally, and some simple twine finishes everything off.

It's definitely all about the light here at Words and Pictures at the moment... we've had moonlight, then starlight by candlelight, and now we're soaking up those last few rays of summer sunlight, captured in the gleam of the clear-embossing.

I hope you've enjoyed taking a walk in my late summer garden.  Check out the tag playtime all the other Creative Guides have been enjoying over at A Vintage Journey.

When summer gathers up her robes of glory, And, like a dream, glides away.
Sarah Helen Whitman

I'd love to join in at Try It On Tuesday where they have the lovely theme of In my garden there is... the last of the meadow flowers and a flock of departing birds
Addicted to Stamps and More are having an Anything Goes challenge
And at Let's Craft and Create it's also Anything Goes with an optional twist of EnTWINEd - well I've a little piece of twine topping things off
At More Mixed Media it's Anything Goes with Optional Bright - this is about as bright as I get!

Monday 26 August 2019

A Stargazing Skeleton

For my final project in the Designer Spotlight at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge, we're moving from my moonlit journalling page to starlight and candlelight here at Words & Pictures.  And that alliterative post title might give you a clue as to this week's theme.

I've had such fun with the challenge themes throughout August, and while last week's rusty lavender ATC may be my absolute favourite of the projects, this one runs it pretty close!

From the moment I heard that S is for... was our theme, I thought I would probably be getting my spook on, and lo and behold the stargazing skeleton emerged from the shadows of my fevered imagination.  This is going to be a long post, so buckle up!

It's a bit early for me to be going the full Halloween hog, so I've got an eerie midnight graveyard to share with you, but it's one that could be visited at any time of year.

It was one of those makes which started from a relatively simple idea and then snowballed (ooh, couple more Ss there), taking on a life of its own as I was playing.

And as things progressed, it wasn't long before the candle demanded to be included.  It all definitely gets spookier when those skulls are viewed by candlelight.  But more of that later...

Speaking of skulls, there are almost too many things beginning with S involved in this creation.  Let's start counting, shall we...

Why don't we start with the stargazing skeleton himself?  He's from Tim Holtz's Poisonous stamp set, and my starting thought was to emboss the image in white. 

But then I realised that the lines of the stamp needed to be dark, they're the shadows... it's the gaps in between which needed to be bone white.  Hmmm...  out with the Stamp Platform.

First off, I stamped the skeleton fairly lightly, and then used an embossing pen to draw over the whole of the image, so that my Wow Vanilla White powder would fill up all the gaps.  (Otherwise, you'd have the night sky in the middle of his bones instead of bony whiteness.)

Once heated, the vanilla white gives that perfect ivory for bones.  (Pretty tricky to tip the powder off the platform without dislodging anything, but it can be done.)

Then I re-inked the stamp with Jet Black Archival and stamped over the white bones for the finished look.

(The background, I should say, is also full of Ss.  There are smooshed Distress Inks and Oxides in Stormy Sky, Chipped Sapphire, Pumice Stone and - not starting with S but with plenty of them to go around - Ground Espresso.  Plus I used the Distress Sprays to add a lot of the extra spatters!)

The alignment isn't completely perfect, but I'm really happy that you can still see some of the night sky between his ribs!

Because the ink was on the shiny embossed surface, it did start to fade a little (even being Archival) so in the long run I had to use a very fine Sharpie to retrieve some of that intricate detail.  I think having those darker lines gives an illusion of even more depth to the ribcage.

The idea of a skeleton led on rapidly to the idea of including some of the amazing Idea-ology resin skulls.  So by this point, I'd made a rough plan for how things might proceed, using a Vignette Panel as a base for my MDF tag.

The tag is 8.5 x 4 inches, so it's the 4.75 x 3.5 inch panel creating my "ground". 

The lid of a perfectly-sized tiny cardboard box provides the necessary stability to the structure.  Sometimes it's a good thing that I never throw anything away!

The tree stumps are from my stash.  I'm pretty sure that they are silver birch twigs, and I enjoyed gathering moss and fibres and pebbles to adorn the woodgrain surface.

But I thought it would be nice to add in some extra background detail to the tag too, to give the skeleton a proper setting... time for some gravestones.

These stones are cut using Tim's Graveyard Thinlits.  I used a natural sea sponge...

... to add Stone and Slate Fresco Finish Chalk Acrylic paints (and some Hey Pesto for the mossy look - sorry, it doesn't start with S).

Really happy with my gravestones.  Now for the railings...

For these, I used Seth Apter's Rocky Road Baked Texture powder.  It has fantastic silvery particles amongst the black so you get a wonderful metallic sheen - just right for cast iron by starlight.

And speaking of starlight...

The tall tag means there's plenty of room above my skeleton's head for the silvery stars he's gazing at.

These are created using the Falling Stars layering stencil, some texture paste and my favourite Liquid Platinum embossing powder.

I simply love how they catch the light, as well as adding texture and dimension.

Okay, time to start assembling things properly and gluing them down.

Along with the skulls, perched on their stumps and logs, there are some bones from the Idea-ology Boneyard.

The larger skull in the foreground is from the new edition Skull Fragments...

(This is one of my favourite photos - worth clicking for a larger view.)

He's guarding some silverware, a Halloween Token with the lettering highlighted with some Snowflake Fresco paint, and it's pretty clear what his opinion of the rest of us is!

Also nestled in amongst the logs and moss and cobwebby fibres are some little white stones.  Well, some of them are little - the regular Prima Art Stones - and some of them are slightly larger - the Mega Art Stones.

The smaller skull resting on high is from one of the older sets where the skulls were all pretty much the same as each other.

He's in charge of some more silverware, an ominous invitation.

This Quote Token is one of a seasonal set which I don't think is available any longer.   But you can still get a couple of spooky phrases on these fabulous discs in this Halloween Word Adornments set.

Again, the Snowflake Fresco paint spruces up the lettering in ghostly white.

Growing up out of the real moss, I've added some ivy die-cuts from the Garden Greens Thinlits set.

It's probably one of my most-used dies (I love ivy in real life as well as in crafting), and I particularly like it here, growing off the edges of the tag...

... and providing a dark contrast to allow the dried flower stems to pop.

It was a little tricky gluing everything in place without crushing the flowers, but I got there.

The candle, an ordinary tealight, has been dressed up with some spider's webs, courtesy of an old roll of Tim's cobwebby tissue tape.  (You can get something similar these days in one of the Halloween Design Tape sets.)

And seeing the cobwebs me realise the necessary finishing touch would be, but of course, an actual spider.

I'm pretty certain that I have some of the Idea-ology Wicked spiders hibernating somewhere in my stash, but after some heaving and hoving of boxes and peeking in many, many baskets and drawers, I decided to save my time if not my money and order some generic spider charms double-quick from Ebay.

He's dangling on his wiry cobweb from a Halloween Story Stick (the perfect adornment for this S challenge!), and if his legs look a little blurry in the pictures it's because he quivers quite delightfully on the end of his strand of spun silk.

I think I got the perspective about right to add depth to the scene with the distant gravestones.

And I do like the glint of iron railings amongst the greenery.  I inked in plenty of shadows around the skeleton's feet too.

Surely that pretty much covers all our Ss, doesn't it?  Nope, hang on...

The spidery sprigs spreading out across the night sky are some pre-cut chipboard branches which have been painted with more Stone Fresco paint, and to which I've added some speckles of Pumice Stone ink so as to give a silver birch look to them.

Right at the very top, there's a Hinge Clip which has been distressed with Mushroom Alcohol ink, some white paint and some crackle glaze, and now I do think we're there.

So there's nothing left to do except to light the candle...

 ... and enjoy the gathering darkness.

Don't be scared!  Time for silence and sleep...

UPDATE: And of course Erika is right in her comment - there's one more S underlying all this: William Shakespeare and the gravediggers scene from Hamlet, all those bones flying about including Yorick's skull.  Shakespeare's so embedded in my imagination, I don't even notice when he's hovering there!

If you're inspired to create something beginning with S, it would be great to see you over at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge, and do let us know what S is for... in your project.

And if you're not inspired enough yet, then do check out the amazing creations by the full-time Design Team there.  As always, there's a $50 shopping spree at Simon Says Stamp (plenty of Ss there too) on offer to one lucky winner, and you could end up as one of the team's Spotlight selections.

I've had an amazing month playing alongside the brilliant Monday Challenge team.  Thanks so much to Lols and the whole DT for their wonderfully warm welcome and continuing inspiration.  And thank you to all of you for your company and for your lovely comments.  It's always a joy to read them, and enjoy the ongoing creative conversation with you all.  Have a great week!

It is not my intention to be fulsome, but I confess that I covet your skull.
From The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I sometimes think about old tombs and weeds
That interwreathe among the bones of kings
With cold and poisonous berry and black flower:
Or ruminate upon the skulls of steeds
Frailer than shells...
From A Reverie of Bone by Mervyn Peake

I'd love to join in at Try It On Tuesday where they have the lovely theme of In my garden there is... spooky trouble... not so much a skeleton in the closet, nor fairies at the bottom of the garden, but a skeleton at the bottom of the garden!
I should be just in time to play along again at Tag Tuesday where it's Anything Goes (as long as it's a tag) - I know this is a pretty elaborate tag, but it's definitely a tag!
And there's also time to squeeze in another entry for the wonderful Textures theme at Country View Challenges