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Monday 12 October 2020

An Aura of Menace at Simon Says Stamp

Hello all!  It's Monday, and I'm delighted to be back for my second week in the Designer Spotlight at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge.  As always, it's a pleasure and an honour to be invited along for the month.

The brand new theme this week is Spooky, so you can imagine there's a wealth of inspiration from the uber-fabulous full-time team members.

But before you hop over there to check it all out, here's my offering for you - a pair of tags offering double trouble.  You might need a sustaining drink of something hot and reassuring to see you through this - we're about to enter the creepiest of apothecary's laboratories...

Anyone who has been following me on Instagram will have seen this pair of backgrounds before.  They were mop-ups from a very extensive project I worked on while I was in the Czech Republic recnetly, involving lots of brick and stone texture.  (You'll get to see that project here just as soon as I've got time to write what's going to be a stupidly long blogpost... I may have to break that one down into chapters!)

I scraped the leftover texture paste from the Bricked and Mosaic stencils I was using onto a couple of tags nearby, and then had a nice time adding Distress Inks and Oxides and paint to create this rusty grungy look which really got my creative tastebuds tingling.

There's Vintage Photo and Walnut Stain Distress Ink involved, DecoArt Quinacridone Gold fluid media paint (this was before Crackled Campfire turned up, but that would do the rusty job now too!), and some Stormy Sky Distress Oxide, but beyond that I don't really remember the details.

The fabulous Tangled Webs by Tim Holtz are embossed over the top in Wow Vanilla White - ready to catch in your hair if you dare to enter here...

But then I couldn't work out what should happen to them next, and I thought I'd probably be wanting to use some stuff from my full stash at home.  So the backgrounds flew back to the UK with me (they're well-travelled tags now), and as soon as I saw the Spooky theme I knew where they needed to go.

I built my shelves from some snippets of cardboard, and you can see I was already planning what was going on top, so they needed to be pretty sturdy.  The Corked Vials are real glass, so they're not light, and the Skulls are pretty heavy too.

The tall vials are filled with watery Stormy Sky Distress Stain in the role of an evil potion (to tone in with the backgrounds of course!), and the shorter ones have got some white sand playing the part of poisonous powders the apothecary adds to the prescriptions of those he really doesn't like very much.  (The sand is for using in vases, I think, from a certain Swedish furniture store.)  And I created some simple scrolls with book page fragments rolled and glued.

I needed to grubby things up a bit - so some PaperArtsy French Roast paint gives the glass a nice dirty look (I'd already made it translucent rather than glossily transparent by applying a bit of matte medium with my fingertips.)  And the scrolls have had a touch of inking to give them that aged look we all love.

Clearly the apothecary needed some bones to go with his skulls.  The French Roast is perfect again for making these Boneyard bones look as though they've been underground for a century or so.  I don't know whether he does his grave-robbing himself, or whether he has accomplices or apprentices who busy themselves with the dirty work.

The shelves themselves I painted top and bottom, and then added some TH Design Tape which happened to be pretty much exactly the right width to go around the edges. The little Story Sticks are the perfect extra detail - these were from a Halloween edition.  I always like to add a bit of metal.

With that in mind, I dug out a couple of older Halloween Muse Tokens too and zhuzhed them up with some white paint to make them pop at the centre of the cobwebs.

Time to load the shelves... and to give them some extra support I created brackets by snipping up one of those metal filigree flower medallion things which hang around in most people's stashes.

Not sure how effective they really are at supporting the weight (the shelves themselves are rock solid), but I think they look really cool!

And once I looked at everything in position on the shelves, I realised I needed to go the extra mile with my glass jars and vials and create some labels.

The labels are made of a combination of things.  There are some pieces cut from one of Tim's old tissue tapes (I've got a stock of it, but if there's one product I'd love to have back...) - on the tall vial there, the skull and crossbones warning and the instructions beneath (some of those on the other tall vial too).

There are some words from the Clippings section of the Curiosities sticker book - the Mischief and, to my delight, some Shakespeare - one jar has powdered "eye of newt" as an ingredient...

... and one vial contains liquidised "toe of frog".  And then there's also an apothecary's name and address cut from a larger label in the same sticker book.  I think they all work rather well together.

The scrolls are now wrapped with twine (glue holding them down? what glue? no, it's the twine which keeps them scrolled), and rest higgledy-piggledy amongst the jars and skulls.  

The bones seem to have tumbled onto the floor, where they're coated in all that gossamer cobweb now, I expect.  He's not the tidiest of men, our apothecary.

I was very pleased with my found text.  It was the page I'd originally torn out to make my scrolls from, but the font was really a bit too large for that.

As I was deciding that, I focussed on the words themselves and discovered they were completely ideal for use on the tags in another way!  Anybody know where they're from?

If you've ever read Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events books, you might recognise the style.  In any case, they add a suitable aura of menace to the tags, don't you think?

That's pretty much the lot, I think.  Some simple twine to finish things off - no point over-egging the poisonous pudding, eh?!

So I hope that's got you in a suitable Spooky mood.  Even if you're already burning to start making something, I still recommend you to go and check out the amazing work from the full-time team at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge... they always knock it out of the park.

They'll be picking some of their favourites to spotlight at the end of the week as usual, and of course there's the Simon Says Stamp gift voucher on offer for one lucky randomly chosen entrant.

I hope you're ready to get your spook on, and I hope you enjoyed the aura of menace around here.  Thanks so much for stopping by, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.  Take care out there, and happy spooky crafting all.

APOTHECARY, n. The physician's accomplice, undertaker's benefactor and grave worm's provider
From The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce

Oh true apothecary, thy drugs are quick.
From Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

I'd like to share this at Creative Artiste where, as always, it's Anything Mixed Media Goes
I'd say these are definitely Autumn Colours which is what they're looking for at Try It On Tuesday - it may not have leaves, but it's definitely seasonal!

Yup, I've given in - the photos are all the way down the middle.  There's no longer any way to distinguish my Encore posts other than by labelling them.  I don't like having my hand forced, particularly in design and layout decisions, so I still hate you, New Blogger, but I haven't the time or the energy any longer at the moment to struggle to make my blogposts the way I want them.  



Maura said...

Fantastic spooky tags, Alison! I love how you created the shelves and filled them with bones and jars. Have a great week! Maura

Annie said...

Superb tags Alison x I especially love the backgrounds and their details. Brilliant ephemera and Idea-ology pieces xx

Huge hugs
Annie xx

Amanda said...

Deliciously macabre!!
Amanda x

Let's Art Journal said...

Wow, what wonderful Halloween tags! The backgrounds are stunning and you added so much detail; everytime I look I see something new - amazing 😁. Wishing you a happy new week! Hugs, Jo x

Sandy S. said...

These are breathtakingly delicious!The beginning was especially brilliant, scraping the texture paste onto paper instead of sending it down the drain or into the garbage...

pearshapedcrafting said...

Good Grief Alison! I'm about to go to bed - I need to read a joke book now (no, I don't have one, just need one!!) This is fabulous, spooky, yet with those wonderful colours definitely Autumn! Thank you so much for joining us at Try It On Tuesday, Chrisx

My name is Erika. said...

Fabulous idea to make a tag and turn it into 3D art. Love all the spooky details. And it does work for Try It on Tuesday's Seasonal challenge. Laves aren't the only colors of the season. Thanks for joining us with these great season tags. Hugs-Erika

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I followed along as you described each tag and how you created it. Those shelves really made these tags, I think. They also provided the amount of space needed for the little extras you provided. I was incredibly impressed with how well they turned out, too.

craftytrog said...


Marci said...

Wonderful tags, so intricate!

Anna-Karin said...

These are fantastic Alison! I love the shelves, vials with the tiny labels and especially those scrolls. I love it when a piece of Design Tape fits an edge like that so perfectly. (And I too dislike the new Blogger interface).

Cocofolies said...

Wow, how fun and spookytacular tiny art!
An absolute miniature creepy treat!!! I adore the treatment of your bottles using both inks and paint at the bottom, but above that your genius idea of building these fabulous shelves!!!!
Absolutely amazing tags Alison!!!!!!! xxx

Chrissy said...

What a brilliant tag Alison, without being hauntingly spooky, there is just enough eerie stuff going on and I love it..the shelf is amazing and with the mix of bottles and bones, scrolls and a skull and those fabulous spider webs and awesome background..wonderful..


Mac Mable said...

Spooky, fun and fabulous with so much detail and interest...I love them both Alison x. Thank you for the step by steps too x. What amazing inspiration for your Designer Spotlight x.

Sue said...

Wow Alison these are amazing! So much to see here and I love your shelves of horror, lots of spooky inspiration. Take care and have a great week, Sue xx

Felix the Crafty Cat said...

Creepy...yes! Amazing...definitely. Happy crafting, Angela xXx

Redanne said...

These are totally fabulous Alison, deliciously spooky and I just love the idea of the shelves. Brilliantly spooky makes!

I hope the packing is going to plan. Keep safe and well. Anne xx

Meggymay said...

Fabulous tags , the Halloween and Autumn colours are amazing. We think of autumn as browns and orange and forget that there are darker grey shades out there as well. Thank you for linking with us at Try it on Tuesdays.
Yvonne xx

Craftyfield said...

Oh my... the details are fantastic, Alison! The labels on the bottles and the shelf brackets!!! I don't know what to say, missing a few superlatives here and wow does seem to do the job better! x

Patty O'Malley said...

What amazingly spooky Halloween tags you've created, Alison!

Lys said...

For sure I won't visit your apothecary: I prefer admiring your tags, full of so many amazing details, and as always a fantastic background! Thanks for joining us at Creative Artiste Mixed Media challenge!

Mrs.B said...

Fabulous tags Alison, the backgrounds look amazing. Love the little shelves and all the details you added.
Avril xx

Let's Art Journal said...

So lovely to see you joining us at Creative Artiste with these amazing tags πŸ˜€. Happy and creative wishes! Hugs, Jo x

Paper Profusion said...

A treat to read and admire Alison! You have batted outta da park as usual. Totally impressed by your flying the backgrounds with you - thats dedication for sure. Especially struck by the little filigree elements for shelf mounting - super duper cute!

Congrats again on featuring at Simon Monday with this superbly spooky pair.

Nicola x

Anita Houston The Artful Maven said...

The backgrounds on these two are amazing...so 3D looking, and that shelf and all the baubles are fantastic. It's been so long since I've done a 3D tag like this. Don't know why. LOVE these Alison!