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...

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Round and round the oak tree...

Hello all!  I'm over at the PaperArtsy blog tonight with the first post in this month's new Colour Wheel topic.  I've been playing with my botanical stamps - EAB25 Acorn Edition - and having a lovely time mixing and blending Fresco Finish Chalk paints.  Here are a couple of little sneak peeks of what I got up to...


Do head over to the PaperArtsy blog for lots of colourful tips on "watercolouring" with the Frescos, as well as working with a colour wheel.  I hope to see you there!

Colours must fit together as pieces in a puzzle or cogs in a wheel.

Hans Hofmann

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Back in action...

Hello all!  I know, I know - I haven't been here on the blog for ages... but this time I've actually been taking a break from all social media, and in fact from creating too.  I'd planned a short break, and it ended up being much longer than intended for one reason or another.  But I'm gradually working my way back into the swing of things.  Here are a couple of tags to get things going...

I'm mostly going to aim for shorter blogposts than I used to but try to publish more frequently again.  That whole War-and-Peace-length thing is simply too time-consuming to create when there's so much else going on (and I still find that "new" Blogger is not nearly as functional as it used to be, so it all takes longer too).  

So here are a few background details of these tags, a little bit of making-of information, and some nice angles and close-ups for you to enjoy...

I can't get my head around full-on Halloween making yet - it's not even quite October! - but there's definitely an autumnal feel to these tags and just a slight sense of the uncanny starting to creep in... 

I used my favourite Tim Holtz technique for the backgrounds - wrinkle-free distress ink splotches.  

I started with Pumice Stone and Weathered Wood; next layer Uncharted Mariner and Hickory Smoke; a bit of Faded Jeans, then Vintage Photo and Gathered Twigs...

... and last of all some Stormy Sky Ink and Oxide mixed to splatter with. Walnut Stain around the edges and we're done.

Time for the collage stages (and a slightly brighter day for the photographs).  The @tim_holtz Paper Dolls take centre stage...

... each of the pairs fixing you with those unnerving stares.


 There are some Idea-ology Gauge Dials...

... tiny Snippets labels and Number Strips, Quote Chips and various other bits of ephemera...

... a touch of hoarded Tissue Tape for them to stand or lean on...


... and some Aquilegia flower heads gathered from the garden, bound with rusty wire.


So I think that will do for now...  there are some other projects to catch up on, so I'll work on getting those shared here.


And we're about to head into Inktober, so if I find the time to join in with that, I'll be sharing what I get up to here too.  I hope you're all doing well, and happy crafting until I see you again.

"Lord, what fools these mortals be!"
Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

Thursday, 30 June 2022

New PaperArtsy stamps with Words and PICTURES!

I'm absolutely thrilled tonight to be launching three brand new Eclectica Alison Bomber stamp sets with PaperArtsy, and with a brand new look for me.  Yes, it's been a long time coming, but my PaperArtsy stamps have finally expanded from collections of words to collections of words AND pictures.  

These stamps are very personal - they are botanical, theatrical, poetical and historical, with family history in the mix too... they're me on a stamp plate!  But I hope all of you will find beauty and delight in them too.

You can see all the sets - and of course lots of samples - and hear the stories behind the stamps, the personal connections I have with each of the new designs, over at the PaperArtsy blog.  You can also catch me talking in person about them in the launch video.

I've been procrastinating over the move to images for a couple of years, but the time was finally right, and I'm so excited to share these new stamps with you.  I can't wait to hear what you think.  Do hop over and take a proper look.

For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been...

... And so each venture is a new beginning...

From East Coker by T.S. Eliot

Monday, 27 June 2022

Inspired by a Movie

Hello all!  It's time for my final week in the Designer Spotlight over at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge, and this week we are "Inspired by a Movie".  It's not often that I spook myself at the craft table (and there are often skulls and skeletons around) but, inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, I definitely got the chills as I transformed Tim Holtz's adorable Silhouette Birds into something deeply ominous!

It's been a delight and an honour to work alongside the amazing Simon Says Stamp Design Team for the month of June.

And this new theme, "Inspired by a Movie", has produced another round of their amazing creativity so, when you're done here, do hop over and check out what they've all been up to in order to inspire you to play along.

These tags were really quite simple to make, but I'm very happy with how effective they are.  I would never have believed that the Silhouette Birds - with which I'm completely in love - could become so scary!  Check it out while listening to the title sequence!

The backgrounds were made using my favourite dip-and-dab technique with Distress Inks and Oxides.  I smoosh the chosen ink pads onto the craft mat, spritz the ink with a little water (but not the tags usually), and then swipe, dip and dab the tags into the inky droplets.

I usually start with one or two colours, drying between layers, and then add more colours as the mood takes me, often being quite specific about where I'm dabbing to add the new colours.

In the mix here are Walnut Stain DI, Pumice Stone DI and DOx, Hickory Smoke DI, Vintage Photo DI and DOx, Ground Espresso DI, Crackling Campfire DI, Shaded Violet DI, Villainous Potion DI, Wilted Violet DI, Stormy Sky DI and DOx, with a little white paint spatter at the end.

And I added some subtle stamping using the Faded Type set in Walnut Stain and Vintage Photo.

Next up, selecting the right twigs and branches from my little stockpile on the windowsill.


If I go through them too quickly in the year, I sometimes have to head out into the garden to find some more...


I found the right shapes to create a balanced composition across the two tags.

And I love how much dimension they gave me to play with.

You probably spotted that I had already cut the birds out of Kraft Stock Stack Black Paper - some cut black-side up, some kraft-side-up, so that I could have them facing in both directions - and began to arrange them in my newly-created trees.  They were surprisingly cooperative about perching in position while I was working it out (or perhaps that shouldn't be reassuring).  I was tossing up between five birds per tree...

... and six birds per tree, and decided that six was definitely creepier.  

And it's especially creepy moving between these two photos, because that gradual gathering of more and more birds is exactly what Tippi Hedren's character experiences in the film.  I just love how these two in the middle are hovering three and nearly four centimetres above the surface of the tag (yes, I measured!).

With the branches so crowded, I thought it was probably best to keep everything else nice and simple.  Also, I wanted the birds to have centre stage for full impact.

So it was just a question of seeking out the right phrases from the Idea-ology Clippings Stickers.  These are actually from a seasonal Halloween set, hence their suitability for reflecting the psychological fractures and breakdown the film captures so brilliantly.

It also makes a huge difference sanding back the black paper to reveal some of the kraft colour underneath.  It seems to create more life and movement in the birds somehow.

They're definitely watching you...

Imagine yourself standing at the foot of the tags, just in the middle there... yup, you're surrounded!


So I hope you'll be "Inspired by a Movie" this week, and join in at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge.  There's absolutely no need to scare yourself in the process... you can pick a nice safe romcom if you like!  The Design Team have created lots more fabulous inspiration for you over at the challenge blog.
As always, the team will be selecting some favourite projects to go in the spotlight, and of course the challenge is generously sponsored by the Simon Says Stamp store...


... so one lucky random winner will receive a $25 voucher to go shopping there and choose some new stash to play with.


Thanks so much to Lorraine and the team for inviting me to guest design with them this month, and thank you to all of you for stopping today.  I hope I haven't started your week off too ominously.  Happy crafting all!

Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.

Suspense is like a woman. The more left to the imagination, the more the excitement. ... 

The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.

Alfred Hitchcock

Friday, 24 June 2022

Selling, Branding, Advertising

Hello, all!  In between a LOT of exciting things going on behind the scenes (watch this space on 30th June!) I found a bit more playtime with the fabulous new vintage advertising Flea Market Finds collection by Cathe Holden.  Spellbinders kindly invited me to create with some of the new ephemera, stickers, stamps and papers, and I've been having a lovely time making another batch of teabag sachets with them.

These travelling salesmen are some of the legion of men and boys who made their way around the country hawking, peddling, selling any goods, provisions, inventions and ideas they could to make a living. 

With so many of them all trying to make a buck, it all came down to how you could compete in the market - how could you convince someone to buy your product rather than someone else's?  

Patents, branding and advertising became the lifeblood of the travelling salesman, and this collection captures that feverish excitement and those endeavours so well with all the labels, stamps, seals, posters, cigarette cards and other gimmickry used to catch the eye and promote whatever was on sale.

In the recent catch-up post, you saw a number of these little series... the tiny collage space is such fun to work with.  Mind you, when my mother has mostly been drinking fennel tea, they do smell quite a lot!

I started out by gessoing the sachets and then covering them (I've always just painted them before) with some of the papers from the Neutrals Palette Sampler

That also got a wash of gesso to give it a more weathered look, and a little splatter of what was left on the craft mat.  

Then I got to work picking out some labels and other ephemera from the Home Arts Miscellany and Happy Thought Miscellany packs.   

I particularly love the elegant glove-shaped advertisement...

... the wonderful photo someone is carrying with them on their travels (maybe that's Pa who stayed at home on the farmstead?)...

... and the house as the logo for the manufacturer and dealer in turpentine (amongst other things).


Over on the reverse, there are some of the Etiquettes Stickers and some stamps and seals from the Circle Labels Icons Stamps.


I then realised that it was all very well having all these leaflets and logos and advertising cards... what the collages needed now was the travelling salesmen to do the hawking and promoting.


Time to get out the Paper Dolls Minis - just the right size for a tiny collage space like these teabag sachets.


It didn't take long to track down my peddlers, hawkers, hucksters and vendors, each of them ready to wear out his shoe leather in search of more customers.


Some of them are clearly right at the start of their endeavours.


Others are considerably more experienced and/or more prosperous.   (Don't judge me - I'm a little bit smitten with this guy and his smouldering gaze.  Whatever he's selling, I'm buying!)


Maybe they've even settled down with an emporium of their own now, with no need to go on the road any longer.


But the commercial travellers are as vital a part of the American story as any rancher or railway builder.  In a way, their values are the ones that have prevailed most strongly in today's society.


Certainly the advertising industry that grew out of these humble beginnings has become a huge part of the way we live now.  Buying and selling, promoting and branding, they're central to how the economy ticks over.


And these guys were there at the start of it all...  That's the journey these great little pieces of historical ephemera took me on today, anyway!  


I hope you like this little collection of teabag sachet collages.  If you click on any of the links in this post, you can take a closer look at the products I've used.  And if you make any purchases while you're there, I'll get a small commission, without you having to pay anything extra.  See, I'm at it now too!

Happy weekend all!  I'll see you on Monday for the last of my weeks in the Simon Says Stamp Designer Spotlight... watch out - it's a scary one!!

He could sell snow to an Eskimo.
Overheard in a real estate office.