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...

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Let It Snow!

Hello all... it never rains but it pours, they say, and after a long period of drought, it's pouring posts here at Words and Pictures at the moment.  I'd rather have snow than rain though, so let's say it's a blizzard of posts, shall we?

I'm on day 4 and Tag 4 of the Funkie Junkie's 12 Tags of Christmas.  The challenge actually started back in September, but I've left myself 12 days rather than 12 weeks before the deadline, so we're really full steam ahead at the moment.

For Tag 4, I've followed Linda's inspiration tag fairly closely except for the fact that I've gone with snowflakes rather than poinsettias.

I'm not much for poinsettias, so I don't have much in the way of poinsettia-making crafty stuff, but I thought the snowflakes made a suitably shaped substitute.

And I've continued to eschew the reds (hence the ambivalence about poinsettias, though I do like the white ones), sticking instead to my favoured colour zones.

Those colours and the simple twine topping tie us back in to the previous three tags, continuing the set.

To start with, I wrinkle-free-distressed a tag with Stormy Sky and Chipped Sapphire.

For the cut through, I used the Paper Snowflakes thinlits (not the Minis, but the smaller two from the larger set - I have the Minis on the way though) but, of course, cutting them only gave me the outline.

I wanted more detail so I kept the tiny pressed out parts and stuck them down in the appropriate positions to keep the more detailed design.

I stamped the delicate snowflake pattern from Tim's Christmas Nostalgia set over the top tag in Stormy Sky.

The snowflake centres were fiddly, but definitely worth the trouble, I think.  (The very tiny central dots are done with white pen... there are limits to my patience!)

The actual snowflakes also got pressed into service, of course, in place of Linda's fabulous dimensional flower heads.  They've just had a very light inking around the edges with Stormy Sky for an icy blueness.

They're layered over some Holiday Greens, but mine are done in soft frosted green rather than the gilded version of the original.

The greenery is cut from some more wrinkle-free-distressed cardstock, this time smooshed with Iced Spruce and Evergreen Bough. 

I followed Linda in creating a krafty sentiment label, but since I'm working with smaller tags I had to go with a smaller sentiment too - the Handwritten Holiday stamps came to the rescue with a simple but heartfelt plea... Let it snow!

A little bit of inking around the edges ties in with the colour of the label and the natural twine topping.

We spend a lot of time here in the south east of the UK dreaming of a white Christmas.  Some parts get snow, and I know it's terrible for travel, and for the aged or isolated, but I would still love the magic of waking up to a hushed and sparkling world on Christmas morning.  Apparently it is a possibility this year, even in the south east... but I'm not holding my breath!

So that's another one down, and I'm still on course for 19th December... I hope I'll see you again tomorrow with the next tag.

When snow falls, nature listens.
Antoinette van Kleef

I'd like to enter this as Tag 4 in the Funkie Junkie's 12 Tags of Christmas, sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique

Friday, 9 December 2016

The Silent Night

Hello, I'm here with Tag 3 for the Funkie Junkie's 12 Tags of Christmas inspiration challenge.  So far so good on my tight time schedule! 

For this tag I've actually travelled quite a long way from Linda's lovely inspiration tag 3, though you'll probably be able to see the elements which inspired my journey.

As I looked at Linda's tag, the things which really struck me were the birds, the music and the words of peace and joy.

Those are the things which have travelled onto my version.

This time the layout and design are really quite different, but I have done some heat-embossing as you'll see, as well as including some subtle shimmer to reflect the bold gilding of the original tag.

As I did with my Tag 1, I've used some old music manuscript paper for my background.  I gave it a couple of washes of Fresco Snowflake paint to soften its impact, and blended on Chipped Sapphire Distress Ink and Cobalt Archival from the edges.

I don't have the dove die, but that didn't matter.  The moment I saw the birds I knew I wanted to use this beautiful PaperArtsy Sara Naumann stamp.

He's embossed in black which gives him great definition against the background, as well as a glossy dimensionality.

The addition of the branch stamp up the side does slightly echo the vertical elements in Linda's tag.

Tim Holtz's flock of birds scatter across the sky above, taking their message of peace and joy off around the world - a message so desperately needed, it seems, at the moment.

It's an echo of the journey of Paloma the dove, started by Lys of Impression Scrap almost this time last year.

There's lots of snowy splatter across the tag, and one solitary Idea-ology snowflake hovering in the still air.

And around the edges there's just a shimmer of Pewter Treasure Gold, gleaming in the moonlight.

The silence of the frozen night has the echo of song hovering - all is calm, all is bright, as my Tag 2 said - if you listen carefully, you might just hear it.

As you'll perhaps be starting to see, the simple twine topping is not the only thing linking these tags.

I actually made all of the first four in one day, and I think they're intertwined in colours, simplicity and atmosphere.  I'm hoping that will continue through the rest, so that in the end all twelve will be connected to one another.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I'll be back tomorrow with Tag 4, and somewhere in between I need to make sure I sit down and make some more...  Happy crafting all!

The day has eyes; the night has ears.
David Fergusson

I'm entering this as Tag 3 in the Funkie Junkie's 12 Tags of Christmas, sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Oh Deer!

Hello all!  Tag 2 today, so I'm still on course for 12 Tags of Christmas in 12 days, courtesy of the inspiration challenge set by the Funkie Junkie, Linda Coughlin.

The prizes and discount vouchers sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique are of course great, but for me they're secondary to getting my crafting back up and running.

Since there's time pressure, I'm keeping things pretty straightforward, and I'm actually enjoying creating slightly simpler projects than usual.  It also makes for shorter blogposts, of course!

As with yesterday's Bare Branches tag, I've kept many of Linda's elements but with alterations of different kinds.

If you take a look at Linda's lovely inspiration Tag 2, you'll see that I've pretty much cased the overall design and layout.

I've got the same gesso'd background - love the brushwork texture it gives.

I don't have the dimensional Idea-ology deer, so I've used the adorable Movers and Shapers fawn die-cut instead.

He's cut out of kraft card, inked with Vintage Photo and Ground Espresso, and then I've added some white penwork detailing.

It takes a lot to get me to go for red (the occasional holly berry makes it through sometimes), so I've stuck with my comfort zone colour tones (a phrase which pleases me with its alliteration, assonance and rhymes) and altered my stencilling to blue at the top and bottom of the tag.

I don't have the Thinlits word set Linda used (yet!), so I deployed the Handwritten Wish instead, cut and inked as the deer was.  I really like the informal look of it which I feel works with the fresh feeling of this tag.

I enjoyed adding the rub-ons - I always forget about them.

My polka dots are stamped rather than stencilled, using a much-loved and long-neglected Artistic Stamper background stamp.

One of the many reasons I love Linda's tag challenge is it always gets me to make use of long-hoarded stash contents - it was great to play with both the dots and the rub-ons for this tag. 

Where would we be without the Idea-ology Small Talk phrases for a quick word fix?!

This was a first outing for the Woodland stencil, which I ordered from The Funkie Junkie Boutique while I was in Ohio recently.  It certainly won't be the last.  It's been inked in a combination of Olive Archival and Forest Moss Distress Inks. 

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  All being well, I'll be back tomorrow with Tag 3 - that and Tag 4 are already made, I've just got to get the posts written.  Onwards and upwards...

I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls.  They always say because it's such a beautiful animal.  There you go.  I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her.
Ellen de Generes

I'd like to enter this as Tag 2 in the Funkie Junkie's 12 Tags of Christmas, sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Bare Branches

Hello all!  I'm glad you enjoyed walking in my Ginger Wonderland but, apart from that flurry of inspiration, I've been having trouble getting back in the craftroom - partly busy-ness, then sick-ness, then can't-find-anything-in-there-ness - so I decided to dive in with a full-on challenge and try to catch up with the Funkie Junkie 12 Tags of Christmas.

For the 5th year in a row the fabulous Linda Coughlin - the Funkie Junkie herself - has been offering up a Christmas tag per week for us to be inspired by, with prizes and vouchers sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique.

They started back in September, but I've got just over 12 days left to get my 12 tags done and posted.  So here goes with number one.

For the challenge, you can choose to follow Linda's tag closely, or just allow yourself to be inspired by a particular element or technique and see where it takes you.  If you check out Linda's Tag 1 here, you'll see that I've been inspired by...

1) the musical background (though mine is slightly different)...

I'm sure I've got a music stamp somewhere but it's lost in the throes of the can't-find-anything syndrome, so instead I used a sheet of old music manuscript and borrowed a trick I learned from Linda yonks ago of distressing the page by tapping sticky tape on and peeling it away.  It's had a wash of Fresco paint and some inking around the edges, and there's some tiny white paint spatter too.

2) the trees (though my tree is slightly different)...

I don't have the tree line, though I do have it on order, so I chose to use the wintry bare Branch Tree die, layered over some pine tree stamping to give the impression of undergrowth.  It's cut from kraft card and inked with Vintage Photo and Ground Espresso, with just a flick of water droplets.

3) the stars (though my stars are slightly different)...

I used Finnabair's Snowflake paste through the stencil for a sparkly look, and some of my favourite tiny Studio Calico wooden stars for dimension)...

4) the black Small Talk stickers (mine are only different in the choice of words!)...

I've said it before but I'll say it again - I simply don't know what I did before these fabulous little Idea-ology phrases were available.  Well, I do know - but how simple it is to add words when you have these around.

And for my topping I've gone in quite a different direction from Linda, down my favourite simple route - a rustic natural feel with a piece of twine.

So that's my Tag 1, and after one of the quietest years since Words and Pictures began, you're now in for daily posts until the 19th December deadline.  Wish me luck, and I'll see you tomorrow!

I often lay on that bench looking up into the tree, past the trunk and up into the branches.  It was particularly fine at night with the stars above the tree.
Georgia O'Keefe

I'm entering this as Tag 1 in the Funkie Junkie 12 Tags of Christmas, sponsored by The Funkie Junkie Boutique

Friday, 2 December 2016

Walking in a Ginger Wonderland

Hello all!  Long time, no post...

I think that's about the quietest it's ever been at Words and Pictures, but November was full of work which took me jaunting up and down the UK (at least there were no aeroplanes involved for once) and now I've been struck down by a winter bug which has knocked most of the stuffing out of me.

I'm hoping against hope to be ready for a singing workshop this Saturday, but it's not looking good voice-wise!

For now I'm very happy to be here at the start of a new challenge at A Vintage Journey.  This month the wonderful Deb is looking for lots of Winter Magic.

As always, my amazing team-mates are offering plenty of inspiration so do take a look, and here's what I've come up with for a touch of magic this winter.

(Plenty of photos coming up to make up for being absent for so long...  you may want a nice cup of hot chocolate to see you through...)

For me, the festive season starts with Advent Sunday when we sit down to write our Christmas wishlists by candlelight, and traditionally we also decorate a gingerbread house (though that's been put on hold this year since I was feeling so out of sorts... my niece and nephew will be coming round one day after school to do it instead).

This particular gingerbread house has already put in an appearance over at Cestina's Dollshouses.  Do click on the link if you'd like to see the photo-story of its "creation".

Don't tell Sasha and Gregor (you'll just have to visit Cestina if you want to know who I'm on about there!), but this little house is of course not actually made of gingerbread.

You'll recognise the Tim Holtz Vintage Village die, I'm sure.  I cut it from quite thick cardboard (from my hoard of broken down cardboard boxes), and used Vintage Photo Distress Spray to give it a darker gingerbread hue.

I sealed it with DecoArt Matte Medium so that the ink wouldn't bleed into my icing, and then the DecoArt Snow Writer went into action to provide the decoration.

The house we decorate is usually covered with garish sweets and candies but, like Sasha, I prefer the traditional iced look.

I kept it pretty simple with hearts and flourishes, and of course the tiling on the roof.

One of the magical things for me about winter is that sense of being curled up cosily indoors while the winter weather takes hold outside.

So once Sasha and Gregor and Co. had finished with the house, I decided I wanted to give it a winter woodland setting.

I tried a Camembert box, but it was too small to hold anything but the house itself, so I've taken the lid off the largest of a set of cardboard stacking boxes.  The big box will just have to live without a lid in its future life.

Here's the "naked" planning stage - just to see if the vision will somehow work in reality...

The box lid has been altered with the DecoArt Chalky Finish paints - a combination of Rustic and Relic underneath, then Crackle Medium, and Everlasting over the top.

Then I used my finger to add some touches of DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics in Raw Umber and Quinacridone Gold.

The Idea-ology bottle brush trees have just had a little frosting of gesso on their branches for a slightly snowy look.

I used some Raw Umber on their bases to darken them towards more of a tree trunk effect.

I've got some of my favourite pinecones scattered around the foot of the trees, also with a hint of frosty gesso.  

And yes, I know those pinecones couldn't possibly have grown to that size on those particular trees, but this is a Ginger Wonderland, so just like with Alice in Wonderland anything can happen size-wise!

There are little wooden slices (picked up ridiculously cheaply at The Works, I believe) to form the path across the crackled snow and ice up to the door.

I cut the Tim Holtz On the Fence from kraft card a couple of times and gave it a spritz of Vintage Photo Distress Spray for that gingerbread look, as well as a dusting of light gesso snow.

Right from the start, I'd had a vision of the rusty wire "handle" over the top, with dangles of some sort.

I punched holes in the sides of the lid (now a base rather than a lid, really) at the beginning, and made sure they stayed clear of paint and crackle medium through the process.

I glued a couple of rusty rings (some sort of jewellery findings, I think - they looked useful to me, so I bought some) around the holes and fed my twisted rusty wire through, securing it on the inside by bending it around the interior curve of the base.

I knew I had some rusty snowflakes, but it took a while to track them down (it's such a long time since I've been in the craft room that it's hard to settle back in and find things).

Having finally found them, I attached them with jump rings, and added the Season Muse Token for good measure.

After all, this project is all about the magic of the winter season...

And, of course, no winter is complete for me without the magic of candlelight.  (I prefer the real thing but I don't want to set fire to my house - burnt gingerbread is no good!)

There's a lot of talk about "hygge" around at the moment - the Danish word referring to a sense of wellbeing, warmth, contentment and harmony.  It's very hard to translate into one word.

It's mostly about making ordinary everyday things meaningful, beautiful and special - for instance, choosing to light a candle at mealtimes - and about taking pleasure in small things like a warm fire, a soft blanket, a pair of woolly socks and a hot drink.

I think it's a close relative of the German "Gem├╝tlichkeit", summoning up moments of warmth, companionship and candlelight... and neither word is really translatable into English.  Cosy is slightly too twee, and is more about the physical sensation than the emotional content of the moment.

But this project definitely creates a sense of "hygge" for me.  The rustic feel, the simple natural colours, the house just nestled into its woodland glade, secure and safe as the snow and frost begin to appear.  It makes me feel warm inside.

And because it's a gingerbread house, you even get that hint of what I'm drinking as I'm huddled with my books and blankets beside the fire - yes, a gingerbread latte for me, please!  And that, as far as I'm concerned, is a touch of Winter Magic.

Do hop over and see what my team-mates find magical about Winter, and I hope you'll come and share your version of Winter Magic with us at A Vintage Journey this month.  It's always fantastic to see what you come up with.

For now though I'll love you and leave you, I hope, with a warm sense of "hygge" to carry you through the day.  Thanks so much for stopping by and I'll see you again soon.

Christmas - that magic blanket that wraps itself around us, that something so intangible it is almost like a fragrance.  It may weave a spell of nostalgia.  Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but it will always be a day of remembrance - a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.
Augusta E. Rundel

I'd like to enter this in the following:

At the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge, they're playing O Christmas Tree this week
And at Frilly and Funkie the theme is Home for the Holidays - well, this is definitely a home for the holidays!
At Love to Create Challenges it is, as always, an Anything Creative/Mixed Media Goes theme, so I'd like to play along there
And at the Creative Artiste Challenge Blog it's also Anything Mixed Media Goes so I'm playing there too