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 31 July 2020

Change your life

Hello all, and thank you so much for your lovely comments on my Rusty Rustic Houses.  I'm here today with a considerably shorter post!

It's one of my favourite times of the month... a Tag Friday at A Vintage Journey.  I don't think I've missed one since the very beginning.

Today's tag is one of the first things I've made using the new (not so new by now) Speckled Egg Distress colour.  I knew from the moment I saw it that it would be a new favourite, and ordered it in several mediums immediately.

They've been sitting on my craft table waiting for me to have time to play.   But I was so very right about loving it... it's completely magical.

I started with some wrinkle-free distressing, smooshing and splotching with Speckled Egg Distress Ink and Distress Oxide, along with Pumice Stone and some accents of Ground Espresso.  Happy already!

Then I applied strips of tissue tape and design tape and smeared some crackle paste over (following Live the Dream Jennie's lovely technique, not for the first time!).  

Once it had crackled, I dribbled some Speckled Egg Spray Stain over and spritzed with water to let it travel into all the nooks and crannies.

Finally, I sealed it with some Ultra-Matte Varnish.  Dabbing it on loosens some of the crackle - it's not very keen to stay on the slippery design tape - but that gives you an even more brilliantly weathered look, and once it's sealed whatever is still there is staying there.

I added some stamping in Ground Espresso Archival - postmarks and numbers courtesy of the Field Notes stamp plate...

... and some tiny mushrooms from the Tiny Toadstools set.  They've had a little touch of Pumice Stone Oxide on their caps.

Over that, there's some simple collaging with Field Notes ephemera.  I'm in love with these fungi, and they tone in really well with the Pumice Stone and Ground Espresso notes in the background.

They were actually in the mix first, and then I decided to stamp the little fungi to go with them, rather than the other way around.

The soft-eyed young man in the Photobooth snapshot looks quietly confident of his ability to change his life.  He might need a little more flamboyance though!

That's the advice of the quote, in any case.   If you're going to change your life, start immediately and do it flamboyantly!

I borrowed the acetate idea from some of my samples for my latest stamp release at PaperArtsy, and the quote itself is from one of the newest sets, EAB19 Life & Living.

I stamped my quote in Archival on some acetate cut from hoarded packaging, and added Earthtone Pepper embossing powder by Wow.

As you heat it, you can also start to gently shape the acetate strip to fold around the edges of the tag.  Then on the back I use a bit of tape to fasten the flaps in place.

Once that's done, I hold the tag up in the air, face-down, and heat from below, letting the acetate fall into its most natural curve.  If it needs a bit of help, the other end of a slender paint brush usually does the job smoothing it out.

That way you have this beautiful sculptural curve lifting over the tag.  The words are easily read as you move the tag around (which I've tried to mimic with these three photos from different angles) but you can also see whatever is behind them.  It makes me really happy!

There are symbols of the readiness for taking flight, for change, for all things new.

The tiny dragonfly/damselfly, perched ready for take off...

... and the little blue butterfly are from the Field Notes Snippets (tiny versions of the ephemera - in fact some of the script panels may be from there too, rather than the full-size ones).

I hope you like my tag.  I do, and I'm not afraid to say so!!

Do hop over to A Vintage Journey to see what my fellow Creative Guides have been up to for Tag Friday - I promise you it's worth the trip!

There's also a Link Party there if you'd like to share any tags you've made at any point in the last month.

I'm pausing part way across Europe for a few days with friends - all carefully distanced - and hope to find time for the long-promised visiting.  It's all been a bit hectic with packing the car and trying to second-guess the news about border restrictions and possible closures.

But these few days en route are usually pretty peaceful before we set off again, so I hope to see you all soon.

Take care, stay safe and happy crafting all.

New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.
Lao Tzu

Monday 27 July 2020

Rusty Rustic Houses

Hello all!  Thank you so much for the lovely feedback on the ongoing daily leaf studies for World Watercolour Month.  Sadly, that seems to be almost the only thing my creative mojo is up for at the moment.  An exception is when I meet up on Skype with Brenda Brown of Bumblebees and Butterflies and Nikki Acton of Addicted to Art.

We had another of our online gatherings recently and Brenda's husband Ken got involved too!  He generously offered to cut Nikki and me a trio of wooden houses each, like the ones we'd been covetously admiring when Brenda showed us them earlier in lockdown.  And then we each got to play as we chose...

Yup, no surprises about where mine landed up... some delicate wildflower stems and tendrils and some rusty wire, not forgetting the crackle.  It's a long one, so you might want a nice cup of tea or coffee to hand before you continue...

Funnily enough, despite the joy of having the little wooden block houses (which Brenda had kindly posted), it took us two sessions to get these houses done.

For some reason we all ground to a halt the first day, and agreed to meet up again in a week's time and hope that the creativity would start to flow again.

I think you'll agree when you see the other projects that we did not hope in vain!

I'll take you quickly through my creative steps... chiefly so that I have a record so it doesn't take me so long next time to get my house(s) in order.

I forgot to take a picture of the wood blocks completely unadorned (but I bet one of the others will have one).  My first photo here is of them with a wash of white.

I wanted to keep the woodgrain showing, so I used DecoArt's Vintage Effect Wash rather than an opaque acrylic.

Now a little bit of decorative tissue paper - this is one of the Christmassy Idea-ology rolls, but I tore around the overtly festive stuff just to get some nice text and a few leafy shapes.  That also got a wash of white over the top to blend it in.

Next up, some inking.  I used Coffee Archival so that it would be nice and permanent, blended on with a blending tool.

And then (no apologies for inking it up yet again!) I stamped my favourite Rubber Dance Weed Love tendrils in Olive Green and started to add little flower heads... just tiny dabs of PaperArtsy Fresco Finish Chalk Paint in Lavender and Wisteria.   (Wisteria only in this photo, I think.  You can see the darker Lavender added below.)

Once I'd added flowers all over, that's when I ground to a halt.  I really, really, really wanted to add some crackle, but I knew that would mean a big pause in my making while I waited for it to do its thing.  And beyond crackle I really couldn't see where I was headed next.  Thankfully, I wasn't the only one struggling and Nikki and Brenda were more than happy to throw in the towel and try again another day!

So we magically jump a week to where my crackle has crackled, and had some dark paint trickled over it to highlight that glorious texture (a dirty wash of Raw Umber, Quinacridone Gold and Paynes Grey). 

I added the same paints to the roofs - delighted that the wash was translucent enough to leave those woody whorls and lines perfectly clear.

It was still slow going, but gradually I fought my way through.  I'd always known I wanted some rusty wire wrappings (of course) but nothing else was particularly clear.

Part of the problem was I really liked the houses in their very simplest form.  I could easily have stopped at the whitewash and inky edges stage!

But these tiny strips of butterfly and script Design Tape over some torn Tissue Tape were a big step forward.  I decided the corners would be my focal focus rather than having the houses decorated flat-side-on.

(Funky, but not so easy when it came to photographing them - if you have to have them at an angle to see the corner, you pretty much always get one side in shadow!)

But once the tapes were on, things started to fall into place more easily.  Obviously the wire-wrapping was next - always a delicious moment - and I kept things simple with a few cogs and bolts and some short Small Talk sticker phrases.

The largest of the three houses got a Philosophy Tag all to itself.  (I suspect these have been discontinued, but I still have a small supply.)

And I really like the words on the big house too... going around the corner.

I thought it would be too cutesy to have them all going round corners.  Besides, the positioning of the cogs wouldn't allow for it.

So for the two smaller houses the words go on the front side - one high, one low, so that overall we get a nice balanced look.

I'm so happy with my trio of houses now.  The crackle is fabulous, though I do say so myself!

(Such a relief... at first it looked as though it wasn't going to do anything, but I put a bit more of another kind of crackle paste over the top and away we went.)

I love the simple stained rooftops with their slightly rusty undertones to complement the rusty wire.

Of course I love the rusty wire!

And I'm really happy with my little blue flower vines too.  (If some of you are thinking this looks familiar, I was shamelessly CASEing one of my favourite tags from earlier this year, Rusted Hope.)

And given that I'd wanted to stop at a much earlier stage, if I really want things even simpler then I can just turn my three houses around and enjoy them from behind...

Best of all possible worlds!

Well, that's more than enough from me for today.  Just take a look at how differently Nikki and Brenda's houses turned out.  Do hop over to their blogs to see all the magic happening... you'll find Nikki's fabulous trio here at Addicted to Art, and Brenda's adorable little scene here at Bumblebees and Butterflies

I'm so grateful that these online crafting sessions have nudged me into mixed media action, otherwise things would have been even more sluggish around here lately!  It's always such fun to chat and laugh and set the world to rights, even when the crafting isn't going well... and even more so when it is!

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  I hope you're finding ways to nudge your creative mojo into action, or just enjoying taking some time for yourself now and then.  I'll see you again soon, either here or elsewhere in Craftyblogland.  Stay safe, stay well all.

Houses are like people - some you like and some you don't like - and once in a while there is one you love.
From Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery

I'd like to share these at Country View Challenges for the theme Do What Makes You Happy - all my favourite things, and eventually they made me happy!

Friday 24 July 2020

Leafy Watercolours Part III

Hello all, and I hope you are all well.  Thanks so much for dropping in today.  I haven't been hopping round much in the last few days as my brain has already turned to making packing lists (especially to trying to decide what goes in the travelling craft stash!).  But I should have some time this weekend before I start the actual physical packing, so I hope to be round soon to see what you've been up to.

In the meantime, one thing I have been making time for is my daily watercolouring for World Watercolour Month, so I'm back with the next batch 17 - 24.  As regulars know, I haven't been following the official prompts.  I set myself my own challenge to create some leaf studies daily.

I knew my challenge would have to be something I wanted to do, rather than panicking over a prompt which might not inspire me.  It's the daily practice as much as anything else that I wanted to develop... it's now part of my morning routine along with feeding the birds, watering the plants, tidying the kitchen and doing my Czech lesson (with coffee - vital part of the routine!).

This week, I've been enjoying the flow of pigment in water which has been happening around the edges...

... and the grassy energy of some of the undergrowth at the foot of the paintings almost as much as the leaves themselves.  And why not?

(If you want to know about the paper/paints I'm using for my July leafy watercolours they're all listed in Part I of these updates, Leafy Watercolours.  You can, of course, catch up with Leafy Watercolours Part II if you missed it!)

Also, if this link works, it should take you to a bit of video footage (if you swipe to the second photo) showing how magically Daniel Smith's Kyanite Genuine sparkles as it catches the light.  These still photos really can't do it justice.

A couple of times this week, I've sort of wished I'd stayed at an earlier stage with a couple of them.  This is Day 19's progression, and I like the spare first stage...

... and also the second layer with the shadowy background stems, as well as the final overgrown look.  At least I have a record of them all in photographic form.

Here they are in turn for you to pick your favourites from this batch.  (Yes, they're still in pairs.  I'm not going to cut them up into individual paintings until I've completed them all... that's going to be my "reward"!)

Days 17 and 18...

Days 19 and 20...

Days 21 and 22 (left very soft and loose with hardly any touching up for detail)...

Days 23 and 24...

You can see I was alternating between branches drooping down and stems reaching up throughout this batch.  I can't even decide which of those two options I like better, let alone pick favourites.  Over to you...

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  Everything is a bit topsy turvy at the moment what with packing to go away, but I'm hoping to squeeze in some blog visiting at some point too.  I hope you are all staying safe, well and creative.  Happy crafting all!

It is often the simple daily practices that influence our lives in dramatic ways.
From Living Peace by Alaric Hutchinson

I'd like to share these at Paint Party Friday, where it's Week 21 of Year 10
At Country View Challenges you still get to Do What Makes You Happy