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Friday, 17 April 2020

Out of limitations comes creativity

Hello all!  I do hope you are all doing okay.  You may recognise the post title... it's on one of Tim's quote stamp sets, and it formed the basis of our latest Skype Creativity session.  Yes, Brenda of Bumblebees and Butterflies, Nikki of Addicted to Art and I met up for another crafting session via Skype the other day, and we played a slightly different game to end up with our individual projects... a game of limitations.  This trio of tags is what arrived on my craft mat.  Cups of coffee at the ready...

As you'll see, after a brief detour into slightly different colours, we're back at my springtime blue/green obsession.  I did say there was more of it to come.

These are the colours and motifs which are bringing me peace and pleasure in these unsettling times, so I'm letting the need play out as often as it wants to.

For our session this time we applied some limitations to our creativity.  We were each allowed to pick just two elements to "put in the kit" for us all to use.

Brenda said we could have three colours of paint (which got expanded to four, but I ended up sticking with three), and our choice of die-cuts/punched elements.

I chose Frescos in Heavy Cream, Blue Bayou and Spring with Cheesecake as the last-minute extra which got left out in the end.

Nikki allowed us one stencil (generous!) and something we had bought recently.  My recent acquisition was some white drawing ink made by Koh-i-Noor which arrived just before the lockdown, and underneath you can catch a glimpse of the stencil I (with considerable agonising) chose to put in my kit.

My contribution was three inks (your choice of colour/form but only three actual inks - eg. one Archival, one Distress Spray, one Oxide pad - though that also got expanded to four in the end) and one stamp set (or three individual stamps).

I selected three pads (figuring they were more versatile than a spray) - Watering Can Archival, Peeled Paint Distress Ink, Pumice Stone Oxide and my last minute extra was my little pot of Daniel Smith Walnut Ink.

You'll already have spotted my chosen stamp set, I should think.

Now, that's quite a generous batch of ingredients to play with.  That wasn't the difficulty for me - sometimes I work just with a couple of inks and a stamp or two.

The hard part was having to declare all the choices in advance!

How to decide which of the (too many) stencils I have would be the one to use?  How to narrow down my choices of ink pad before I knew what I would be making?

In the end, the choosing took more than a quarter of the time - partly because we were having to make decisions about what to make and which direction we might go in rather than just starting out and then reaching for anything we needed at the point of wanting it.

But then, once the pain of choosing was over, it was actually great fun to see what could be done with the tools at hand.  Oh, and Nikki (who was being the strict school teacher on the rules!) said we could each have one joker to play at any point, to add one additional ingredient to what we were making.

We decided to work on smaller substrates than last time, so I chose tags (big surprise!).

I started by giving all three of my tags a coat of the Heavy Cream to give me a nice pale background, and then did some brayering of watery washes of Blue Bayou and Spring.

Finally, I brayered on some of the white drawing ink which turned out to have a lovely shimmering sheen to it compared to the matte chalky finish of the Frescos.  I did a bit of dipping and dabbing with the white ink too for extra splotchiness.

There was lots of watery paint left on the craft mat after the brayering so I mopped it up onto three extra tags - waste not, want not.  And it turned out they would be coming in useful much sooner than I'd expected!

More tags and more smooshing next.  I put a mixture of the Pumice Stone Oxide, the Walnut Ink, the Heavy Cream paint and a dribble of the white drawing in onto the craft mat and spritzed with water...

... so that I could make some "old parchment" on two more tags ready for stamping with my chosen stamp set.

Yes, it's the Field Notes!  If you've been following along with recent creations, you probably already guessed that.

It's hardly been off the craft table since it arrived, and it's a brilliantly versatile set.  I was able to create these ephemera labels for layering onto my tags - same three labels for all three tags, just differently arranged each time.

And I used some of the numbers and lettering with my Peeled Paint pad to add some more background detailing...

... as well as some now-you-see-them, now-you-don't postmarks stamped in Pumice Stone Oxide.  From one angle, they're definitely there...

... and then when the light hits they get that same shimmering half-visibility as the white drawing ink smooshes.

I was enjoying the ride quite a lot by this point... and was ready for some more ingredients.  Die-cutting time!

As I said, I make no apology for constantly returning to the things which make me happy at the moment, so when we had to make all those difficult decisions up front, the die-cutting one was actually one of the easiest...

It had to be some of Tim's delicate flower Thinlits.  I've been using the Wildflower Stems quite a lot lately, so this time I chose the slightly older Wildflowers sets - they're a little smaller and, if anything, even more delicate and intricate.

And here's where those spare mop-up tags made their way straight into action... I used them to cut my wildflowers, with added Peeled Paint dipped and splotched over the top to give them more definition.

Since we were allowed our choice of die-cuts, I'd also selected one of the Pattern Repeat Thinlits sets, thinking I could cut it and use it as a secondary stencil if need be.  (Hah - that would have got round Nikki's strict one-stencil policy!)

As it turned out, I used it in this more conventional way - using up the spare neutral tag pieces by cutting bits of "wire trellis" from it.  (The ephemera labels had only used up one and a bit of those tags.)

Mostly, it was now about positioning things, but I did need to use my chosen stencil on the backgrounds, so I shifted my arranged pieces over to some bare tags while I got ready to stencil.

Picking the stencil was one of my hardest decisions.  Did I want something nature-based?  But then those leafy shapes or flower stems might be too busy or distract from the die-cut flower stems...

Did I want some lettering or numbers?  But my Field Notes stamps are pretty letter/number based, so that would be doubling up unnecessarily when I could have some more flexibility...

Did I want geometrical shapes, or maybe brickwork to create a garden wall?  But there was no texture paste amongst the ingredients, so I couldn't follow my usual favourite way to use a stencil like that...

In the end, I plumped for Finnabair's Bubbles stencil.  I figured that would give me something geometric, contrasting with the letters/numbers of the stamps and with the intricate flower stems of the die-cuts, but it would still be a nice organic shape, maybe for bubbles of light, or actual bubbles!

And in the end, that's what they are closest too.  I did a thing I seldom if ever do with stencils.  Rather than using texture or crackle paste (my absolute favourite stencil method), or even solid ink blending, I used my white drawing ink and my dip pen to draw round the outline of some of the bubbles.

I love the lighter-than-air look of them.  It's subtle, but definitely there.  And of course doing it this way with the pen and ink I could just have a few bubbles here and there rather than the hundreds of them all close together as the stencil has.

And they're a lovely echo of the postmark stamping as well as the round ephemera label.

Out of limitations, you see, comes creativity.  I never use stencils like that normally - but having chosen that stencil, I had to use it, so I had to find a way of using it which wasn't too in your face over my lovely backgrounds... and I found it.

By this point, I was vacillating wildly between the two possible "Joker" cards I wanted to play.  I wanted them both urgently.

I really really wanted some twine to wrap around the tags and to create the topping.

And if you look at the title of my blog, you'll know what the other one was... yes, WORDS.  I had no words to go with my pictures... aaagh!

But then, brainwave - I made an offer to the others.

Surely we would all three of us need something to add to the top of our tags?  (Thankfully, the other two had also chosen to go the tag route.)

So we would all need something to top them off?

So we could just agree on "toppings" as an extra for all of us... and then I could play my Joker as "words" (and assuage my conscience by not using my topping twine to wrap around the tags too - that would be cheating!).

I could have gone with some of my quote stamps, or with some Clippings stickers, but I decided these Idea-ology Quote Chips were just right to give a bit more presence to the words.  Each tag has its own little phrase, with a little touch of inking...

... first on the very edges with the Watering Can Archival and then a bit of soft blending of the Pumice Stone Oxide.  I did snip off the sides of each of them as they were quite long and looked a bit bulky in full, but trimmed down they do the job nicely.

Finishing touches now - the fine rustic twine at the top...

... some dip pen + walnut ink doodled frames around the edges and a bit of spattering with Heavy Cream paint and with white drawing ink.

And then a very last-minute additional extra.  Amongst my choice of die-cuts/punches, I'd also declared my Tim Holtz butterfly punch at the start.

Most of the way along I didn't think I'd be using it, but suddenly, as we were winding up, already getting ready to show each other what we'd made, I changed my mind.

Those three mop-up tags still had enough leftover after cutting the Wildflowers for me to punch out three butterflies, and the large Field Notes label from the middle of the stamp set provided enough vintage script for me to stamp just that in Peeled Paint to add a bit of detail to them.

And with their folded wings, they add just that extra little touch of dimension which makes me happy.  Phew!

So there you have it... another joint crafting session via Skype which has produced a hugely long blogpost, but if you've enjoyed seeing all the details even half as much as I enjoyed making them, then I hope you'll forgive me!

Do hop over to see how creativity flourished for the others under our limitations.  As you can see from the sneak peeks, Brenda was also channelling the floral vibe...

... while Nikki, though still playing with Mother Nature, took us into a whole other element with her tag duo, out of the earth and air, and into the water.

It was lovely to spend time chatting again as we played, hearing how each of us is dealing with the lockdown and finding ways to stay on an even keel.  Once we'd done the choosing at the beginning, we were free to do as we pleased, rather than following instructions from each other, so it was a different kind of process, but just as enjoyable.

I hope you're finding ways to be creative and/or finding moments of contentment and calm amidst the crisis.  I'm finding my mojo is a fairly elusive beast... I'll go for days struggling to find the urge to make something, and then suddenly have a burst of creative energy.

But I am enjoying the unfurling and growth of the vegetable seedlings as they take hold in the troughs in our tiny courtyard at the back of the house.  And I've been being creative in the kitchen too - finding ways to make delicious things with limited ingredients (spot that post title coming into its own again!) and baking bread for the first time (yum!).

And every morning I drink my coffee while sitting on the front step chirruping and whistling to the birds feeding on the seeds and fat balls and other food I've put out for them.  I'm hugely aware how lucky I am to have these escape valves, and they are all a very necessary antidote to the news coming in from around the world.

My heart goes out to those struggling with the many and various impacts of this disease, and my heartfelt gratitude to those battling on the frontlines against it as well as those keeping our lives running, even in this changed form, with their essential work.

Love and thanks to all of you for stopping by today.  I will be round to do some visiting over the weekend, and I'm looking forward to finding out what you've been up to creatively or otherwise.

Take care, stay safe, stay well xx

For the person who has learned to let go and let be, nothing will ever get in the way again.
Meister Eckhart

I'd like to share this at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge where they are playing E is for... ephemera in this case - my hand-stamped versions, since I wasn't allowed any other kind under the limitations!
At Try It On Tuesday they are inviting us to Have Fun with Stencils - I really did, using the stencil in a way I have seldom or never done (to my recollection)
And I think my butterflies qualify for the Animal Magic theme over at Country View Challenges this month


My name is Erika. said...

Doing a catch up. It is a great to see those pretty flower tags. Oh spring is great inspiration, isn't it? Hugs-Erika

Christine Alexander said...

These sound like such fun virtual crafting get togethers and such a challenge with the limited supplies :)
love all the tags you created and thanks for encouraging me to mop all those excess splatters on the craft sheet.

Helen said...

What fun you had again . As always you have created real beauty in(and on) your tags. I am hoping at the weekend (being busy working all week) to get crafty again but we'll see; at some stage the weekly shop has to be done and that always makes me feel bleurgh when i am back! take care and stay safe. Hope you are enjoying your coffee on the doorstep.

Valerie-Jael said...

Fabulous tags Alison, love them! Glad you were able to have a wonderful meet up. Hugs, Valerie

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

These tags are wonderful. Your use of the limited supplies you were allowed turned out perfect. I think you chose well, given the limitations. I also like that you thought outside the box when it came to the stencil and the stamping. And I actually enjoyed seeing the tags without crackle paste. The tags were definitely YOU, but a new you!

I am also having trouble getting motivated. At least you have creative outlets with your skypeing friends. That seems to make you an even BETTER artist.

Neet said...

What a lovely time you must have the three of you Skyping and crafting away. Some great results and all producing something different, especially Nikki.
Loved your tags and the explanation as usual was 'spot on'. Again you have used those beautiful colours that I always associate with you but I did also like the picture of the tags when you had just placed the elements on - just cream, bare tags.
I would probably never have thought of including those numbers but they really make it work. And the postmarks in the shimmer are so pleasing a surprise to the eye. Just everything about the embellishments is there for me - I love what you have done - beautiful, but then your work always is.
Hugs, Neet xx

Meggymay said...

You all must have had a super session and it must have been hard to limit your supply choices. It was good to see all the photos of the stages in creating your beautiful tags.
Miss Mojo goes walk about here as well, she's been out for a few days now, I hope she is keeping safe.
Thank you for linking for fabulous project with us at Try it on Tuesdays.
Take care, stay well and safe.
Yvonne xx

ßeulah ßee said...

A lovely trio and your step-outs so complete! We are lucky to have a craft to help channel our emotions during these unsettling times.

Brenda Brown said...

These are just gorgeous Alison, love, love the designs and outcomes and the way you brought together the items we chose. As always your layouts, layers, colours and finished tags are a delight to the eye.
It was a great day again full of happy moments chatting together as well as the more quiet moments of reflection and concentration, I am loving the time we have and the way we use it during this lockdown.
Take care hugs Brenda xxx

Cocofolies said...

This new trio of Spring tags made by skyping with your friends are very beautiful, I love all the layers. what a lovely time you must have spent together! All three results look wonderful, and very different, as you are all three!!!
Enjoy your little garden and your creative time,
hugs xxx

Roosterhead Designs said...

Sensational Tags Alison! Truly beautiful; with all the in-depth layers of color and medium~ Love how each one carries my eyes! TFS and have a great week-end too : ) karen o

Craftyfield said...

They are all beautiful tags, Alison! Very "you"... It is interesting how a limited supply of crafting items can sometimes facilitate inspiration, by eliminating all the dithering, and sometimes choke it completely, go figure! Have a great creative weekend! x

experiments in paper said...

Lovely tags evoking sunlight, carefree in the breeze, and sweetly wild resilience. The white ink surprised me, or at least how you used it - I am so literal sometimes! Your collaging, dipping and swiping and drawing and layering - just lovely. Serenity comes to mind, a valued friend in these chaotic, swiftly changing times. Thanks for passing it along. Now off to see the others! xxx Lynn

Let's Art Journal said...

Such beautiful tags! Your always capture nature so beautifully in your makes and the colours and flowers look amazing 😁. So nice to send time with friends crafting and chatting on Skype too, glad you all had so much fun! Wishing you a happy weekend and keep well! Hugs, Jo x

lbmeer953 said...

Alison, As always, beautiful, inspirational tags. I've checked out all the ladies blog on the go round. Always love your color choices and techniques. Everyone's tags are wonderful. I love how they are so representative of everyone's style. Just following all of the ladies blogs fill my evenings with enjoyment.

Anita Houston The Artful Maven said...

I could totally pick out that this is your work, so you! LOVE!

Amanda said...

A fabulous trio it just goes to show that you can create beautiful art with limited supplies, they are lacking for nothing so you chose well. I’m totally with you on the arty spurts, mine thankfully showed it’s face today
Amanda x

suzyb said...

Beautiful pieces, you never disappoint Alison, never. Your imagination station is just full of lovely things that you are able to put on paper. I have trouble getting it from my head to my fingertips. It will come, soon I hope. :) I too have been planting seeds and a lot of them are sprouting. I love nature.
I made a friend extremely happy today by digging out this huge bamboo and giving her the biggest piece. It was hard work but I am stubborn and want to still feel like I can do things. I am hurting now but it's a good feeling too. :) Thanks for sharing these amazing tags. Stay well and power on.

paperwishesbyamanda said...

Such pretty gentle tags. I love the way you have used the Field notes and the colours are so full of Spring. I too have been enjoying the same outlets cooking, gardening, and creating. It is easy for us to forget how lucky we are to be able to enjoy them. Thanks for the reminder and the joyful work. Stay safe x

Patty O'Malley said...

So happy to see your beautiful tags, Alison! I, too, love the blue/green combo. It gives such a peaceful feeling. How nice that you have some friends to create with via cyberspace! It takes away the loneliness. Stay safe and healthy!

pearshapedcrafting said...

How lovely to get together and craft and what a great trio of tags! I love your choice of elements - no surprises about your colour choices or that beautiful TH botanicals set, which I ummed and aahed over the other week and made the decision not to buy - silly woman aren't i? Thank you so much for joining us at Try It On Tuesday with these dreamy tags! Hugs, Chrisx

Nikki Acton said...

Oh you make me smile! School teacher here providing my report.
Creativity - 10/10 - wonderful tags, love how you used your ONE stencil! As always exceptional details, balance and composition
Company - as always a pleasure, making me laugh - thank you
Attitude - After initial resistance to the rules you embraced the limitations with exceptionally good humour
Until next time - what will I come with I wonder!!!
Nikki xxxx

Chrissy said...

FABulous tags Alison and I love those soft colours and how you all limited yourselves to three of this and two of this is beyond me, I suppose I could if I was pushed,it is light sketches, I start off well then wander off in my own direction and totally forget what I started out to do, I would have needed a month to complete my project..great job..


Felix the Crafty Cat said...

Hi Alison, hope you've had a nice weekend. Gorgeous tags and not really surprised to see this colour scheme, love it. This is a great way to use up some time. I must pop over to see what the others have made. Take care and happy crafty week, Angela xXx

Mrs.B said...

Beautiful nature themed tags Alison, your Skype session sounds fun and I can imagine the dilemma when choosing your 'ingredients'. Your blues and greens always work so well and I love the way you used the stencil too.
Thanks for linking this up to our challenge at Try it on Tuesday.
Avril xx

craftytrog said...

A beautiful trio Alison x

Redanne said...

I have been saving this so I could pour over every single little detail over and over.... Your tags are quite simply gorgeous, the colours are so perfect for you, I love how you used a single stencil and those stamped elements add some wonderful dimension. As always, your collaboration worked out brilliantly and I am sure it was even more welcome during these difficult times! Anne xx

Jane said...

Hi Alison what a lovely crafty escape you had via Skype. Your tags are so beautiful and yes these are such difficult times for us all. Keep creating and keep positive, the sun is still up there. Thanks so much for also joining in with our animal magic challenge over a Country View. Hugs xx

Dorthe said...

Hello Alison, they are so beautiful tags, and just how my world looken, today when taking my walk ,- blue sky with little white clouds scattered over it, and on the ground little green spring plants starting to pop up all over . Only is missing the butterflies , too cold for them ...
Your tags are wonderful, I love the little messages behind the plants, the spring colors and the grid they rests on top - So lovely to visit you , as always - Hugs, Dorthe

Corrie Herriman said...

Fabulous tags ! Thank you so much for joining us over at Country View Challenges for the April "Animal Magic" challenge.
Corrie x

Sue said...

Your tags are beautiful Alison, and I've loved seeing how they've come together.I'm sure you must have had great fun making them and chatting to Brenda and Nikki. Have a great week, and take care xx

Margaret Mifsud said...

Ooohh!! I really, really loved this post Alison. What a fabulous time you must have had crafting with your friends online and the result is, as always, amazing!! Loved the choices each of you made and loved seeing how everything came together. Going to pop over and check out Nikki and Brenda's creations too. The sneaks look wonderful! So glad you are keeping happy and well and hoping you and your family stay safe. hugs xx

Lagene said...

Wonderful creations, thanks for all the photos of your processes!

Aimeslee Winans said...

Hi Alison! I am loving your tags and enjoyed your telling of your play time with Brenda and Nikki. You must be growing on me - I may even develop a new respect for soft, muted colors, who knows? There's evidence in my play room I've been there before - I checked my Fresco paints and more muted than bright colors, or is that because they are so old that's all the colors they offered at first? Hehehe Seriously, I am happy you are finding solace and happiness in your personal Nature habitat aka yard. I always gravitate toward people who grow stuff. We always used to before my Honey retired, you would have loved his okra and tomatoes, well, if you like okra...it's an acquired taste and maybe only American??? XOX