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, 28 June 2013

Invisible Bars

Hello all, and welcome to Words and Pictures on another grey, wet, dreary day here in the British Summer.

I'm here with one of those makes which drew its breath from several sources, came to life somewhat grudgingly, and with many coats, re-coats and re-re-coats of paint, and I'm still dissatisfied with it, but in the end it does tell a story I rather like.

The starting point was the literary challenge set by The House of Bears for June - a number of quotes from Jane Eyre, from which we could spring off according to inspiration.  Well, you know by now how much I love starting with the words...

And the pictures for this one come from the lovely images available at Nicecrane Designs, drawn from several different sheets.

And then it got all caught up with the Stripes challenge at Simon Says Stamp and Show.


My stripes are the bars of the cage keeping the birds imprisoned, and the bones of the corset, the pleats of the skirts and blouses which, for all her declaration of independence, are keeping the woman imprisoned (and there are some more literal stripes to add to the cage and corsetry: streaks of paint and some corrugated card, naturally).

And that got me to thinking about the bars we take for granted, or sometimes don't even notice - the metaphorical bars which keep us caught in a place or a job or a mindset, and how the first step to escaping those bars is to become aware of them.

They might not feel like bars to us at all; they might seem to be positive things - but in one way or another they are keeping us from being truly free.  No matter how gilded the cage, it's still a cage.  

And yes, you'd be right in thinking there's some stuff going on for me right now!!

So, the tag, then - another extended tag, because I needed space for the words to sit independently of all the other action going on.

I started with a jumbo tag, some texture paste and the Crafter's Workshop Damask mask.  And then I started in with the painty layers... I'm not even going to try to add up how many times I painted and repainted it. 

There is some crackle glaze in there somewhere, and I used a hard bristle brush to get the strong striped texture into the paint, and also some baby wipes to knock it back, also creating distressed streaks.

There were many different versions of the texture highlights too - ink, paint, and there's still some of each of those in places... 

But the main highlighter that you can see by the end is the fabulous White Fire colour of Treasure Gold - applied partly with fingers and partly with a brush for extra textural effect.

The woman is from the Nicecrane sheet: Muse of Poets.  (You may have seen the utterly beautiful tag the amazing Astrid made with the same image recently.)

Once she was printed, I inked with Antique Linen and Vintage Photo Distress Inks, adding some inked creases for an aged look, and some brush strokes of gesso.  

I rather like the effect of the gesso - it gives it a definite sense of age and incipient mildew!

The beautiful delicate birdcage is by Crafty Emblies.  It has also had a touch of gesso and a touch of Treasure Gold - well, if we're talking about gilded cages...

If you saw my krafty birds' nest cards the other day, then you might recognise the little guys inside the cage.

They're from the Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady.  I've used the sketch version, though you can also get the same set pre-coloured (hopefully making an appearance here some time soon).  

This time rather than printed in black onto kraft paper, I've altered the image so that it's sepia and printed it onto white paper.

The third Nicecrane set being used here is the wonderful Vintage Fashion Pages, a brilliant sheet of ephemera - eight different magazine pages with columns of adverts and illustrations...

These were perfect for my purposes - pictures of the constraining corsetry of the period, the rigid pleats of the skirts and blouses, as well as the columns of newsprint giving me yet another version of stripes.

These too have been inked and gesso'd for that aged look, and I'm happy I remembered to grab at least one picture before they got layered into the tag and covered up!

I was very fortunate that with the Crafty Emblies order there arrived a little grab bag of extras.  (This was an order from a while back - I know there have been some problems, and don't know anything about where things are at now.)

I probably wouldn't have chosen a dress form for myself (being a needlework-ophobic), but it makes a perfect echo of the bars of the cage - shaping the bones of a corset to create a "Tapering Waist" - a form of imprisonment of which she's not even fully aware.

The topping for the tag is some inked lace snippets tied together with dyed seam binding for a full-on feminine vintage look...

... but, as I hope has become clear, this is as feminist as it is feminine.  You have to do some reading between the lines (look, more stripes!) for this one.  Don't take the quote at face value.

Speaking of the quote, it's stamped with my little Hero Arts alphabet onto plain white paper which I then inked with Antique Linen, spritzed with water and then edged with Vintage Photo.  

The background is very fine corrugated card which has been painted, inked and gilded to match the tag above.

(Anybody spotted it? shhh... evil corporate empire cupholder, and my only excuse is it's been sitting around here forever!) 

The eyelets have been White Fire'd to take away their overly brassy golden colour, and some more ribbons tie the two sections together.

And I roughened the edges of the tag with the Paper Distresser, partly to get the Vintage Photo DI to take better.  

The surface of the tag is so rubbed and buffed by this point that the inks tend to slide off it a bit. 

Ooh, nearly forgot the paper flowers (from Wild Orchid Crafts - life doesn't allow for handmade flowers at the moment, sorry).  

They have also been altered, of course, to tone in with the overall look of the tag, and then I think we're pretty much there...

There have been some nice short posts lately, but I seem to be back on form with this one!  Thanks so much for seeing it through (if you're still here), and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Here's the quote in full, as well as some more food for thought:

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.
From Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë

Taught from infancy that beauty is woman's sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.
Mary Wollstonecraft

Men are not prisoners of fate, but prisoners of their own minds.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

I'm entering this for the following:
The literary challenge at The House of Bears using Quotes from Jane Eyre
Stripes at Simon Says Stamp and Show
The inaugural Ali-Craft Blog Challenge which is an Open theme

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Summer Songbird

Hello all, Alison here with an early summer tag to share with you, inspired by some of Artistic Outpost's lovely stamps.  (It's from a couple of months back now, but we got interrupted by the fabulous Boardwalk release.)  I'm very happy with how it's captured those vivid greens you get at that time of year when the trees are working their way towards their full summer glory.

It uses the lovely stamp from the Serenity set, which incorporates one of my favourite sentiments.

Lots of inky loveliness for the background, and some background stamping using the music manuscript from the Ephemera Backgrounds with Olive Archival ink, and the flourish from the Serenity set stamped in distress paint.

I stamped the main image in Olive Archival and used Detail Clear powder to emboss it - it has such a lovely shimmer when the sun hits it!

I gathered lots of mulberry paper flowers, and die-cut the Memory Box treble clef out of a stamped tag I had lying around and had decided I didn't want to continue with.

And the white gauzy, satiny ribbon is tied with some seam binding dyed with Distress Inks to tone in.

I hope that's given you a taste of summer - it's still being slightly reluctant round our way... I was back on two hot water bottles a couple of nights ago, and I think I'm off to get one ready now too...

Hope you're getting to enjoy some sunshine, or at least some crafting wherever you are.

Just as the bird sings or the butterfly soars, because it is his natural characteristic, so the artist works.
Alma Gluck

Monday, 24 June 2013

Doubling Up

Doubling up in pain?  Doubling up in laughter?  No, we're doubling up our sneak peeks here today at Words and Pictures.

Scheduling means that I'm in three places at once today: here at Words and Pictures (though only briefly), over at The Artistic Stamper, and sharing my second Guest Design piece at Calico Crafts too.

So here's a little sneak peek of what's going on at The Artistic Stamper - Distress Paints, Inks and Stains and some cracking stamps...

And a little peek at the Calico Crafts project: yummy papers, crackle effect and lots of Treasure Gold...

Take your pick - or if you've got time, it would be wonderful if you could drop in on both of them!  

Places to go, projects to see... I'll leave you in peace for now, except to wish you a wonderful week.

If a man could have half his wishes, he would double his troubles.
Benjamin Franklin

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Dragonfly High

Hello everyone.  Hope you're all having a great weekend.  I'm here to share my take on Tim Holtz's glorious June tag... 

I made it well over a week ago - but this is my first chance to get it on here since then.  Life's kinda crazy - what can I say?

Anyway, here it is... following the master pretty closely, with the main variations being in colour choices, and my irresistible urge to add words.  Again, I had a ball making it.

I'm finding crafting a bit sticky at times at the moment - fitting it round another highly creatively demanding job means that it feels like there's not much left over when I sit down at the table - I know, I really shouldn't complain!  But this was pure fun - definitely flying high!

You can find out all the how-to details from Tim's own post so let me just share some pictures and  keep you posted on where I've departed from the recipe...

I had several stampings of the dragonfly on the go at once, experimenting with different colours and techniques, but ended up - no surprise - with my favourite blues and greens... though there is some Dusty Concord in there too!

It was great fun to play with the Distress Markers.  I usually do my "watercolouring" with the Distress Stains - love their fluid ease - but there's no doubt you can apply colour with great precision with the markers if you want to.

Love Tim's suggestions for adding extra colour, like tinting behind the words, and casting "shadows".

LOVE the flicking effect!

And the play you get on the watercolour paper is yummy.

In the end, I couldn't bear to cut any of it off, so ended up using a large tag!

One of my favourite bits was blending Distress Inks onto the edges and drawing the colour in - meant I could bring some Mowed Lawn into the picture - one of my favourites at the moment!

Mixing the media on the background was such fun - and again one of my favourite things to do... the interplay of the paints, stains and inks gives you such constant and glorious variations of effects and possibilities.

My background stamping is one of my main departures from Tim's tag.  Although there's some done in Archival, I wanted to pick up on the white of the watercolour paper. 

So I decided to stamp my text in Picket Fence Distress Paint. 

I love the Papillon butterflies hovering in the background.

And I do love the white text, but if I made this again, I'd probably do partial text stamping rather than completely all-over, but it's a minor quibble!

For the topping, I dyed two separate pieces of crinkle ribbon - one using only inks and stains, for full glowing translucent colour, and one adding some Chipped Sapphire Distress Paint to the mix, so that you get the opaque shabby chic look.  

They're tied together with some paper string that I curled around a wooden skewer.

And then, despite all that text, I felt the need for some words to add to my pictures, so I used some of the Alpha-Parts - Newsprint, I think they are - and added them to the mix.  

I dabbed Picket Fence DP onto them, gave them a quick spritz of blue mica mist, and blended a touch of green ink onto them - pretty pleased with the effect - it's iridescent in the light.

I decided to mount my watercolour dragonfly on padded tape to give some extra dimension, and
there we are... so grateful to Tim for one of my favourite times at the craft table in recent weeks!

Thank you so much for stopping by - your visits and comments make me so happy... and that's really helpful just now, believe me.  

Wishing you all a lovely weekend - whatever you're up to, and I look forward to seeing you somewhere out there in Craftyblogland.

Clouds of insects danced and buzzed in the golden autumn light, and the air was full of the piping of the song-birds. Long, glinting dragonflies shot across the path, or hung tremulous with gauzy wings and gleaming bodies. 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Dragon-fly
Today I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.
An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.
He dried his wings: like gauze they grew;
Thro’ crofts and pastures wet with dew
A living flash of light he flew.
Alfred Lord Tennyson

I'm entering this as my June tag in Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of 2013

Friday, 21 June 2013

Krafting a Nest

Hello and welcome everyone.  I hope you're finding some time to play this weekend - at whatever it is that gives you joy.

I'm here to catch up with some long neglected duties and pleasures.  Owing to the absence of a working printer, I've fallen behind with offering you any inspiration pieces using images from the fabulous Nicecrane Designs.  Well, I'm now back up and running, so I'm here with a pair of cards (and matching envelopes too!) in the hopes that doing the double will at least partly make up for it!

It's also been far too long since I managed to play along over at Frilly and Funkie - life just keeps getting in the way - so I'm delighted to offer these up for the Birds and Nests challenge there, as well as having "krafted" them so that they'd fit in with Simon Says Stamp and Show's Kraft challenge.

There is also a challenge over at 13arts where the theme is A House, with a recycled element involved, and at least two different media.  There were lots of birdhouses amongst the amazing DT inspiration - but I've taken it a step further: these nests are the houses for my birds - so I'm hoping this will fit there too...

I started with some images from the beautiful Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady.

The lovely Ignacio of Nicecrane has produced these images both in pre-coloured and the non-coloured versions I've used.

That means you can choose to colour them yourself or, as I have, leave them in sketch form.

I printed two of the bird images onto kraft paper and tore and inked the edges.

The next layer is of watercolour paper, again torn and inked to provide a lighter frame before we get to - guess what! - yes, corrugated card!

I'm going to own up here - I had "finished" these cards once already, but I just wasn't happy with them - but then I never am with cards... I find them really hard for some incalculable reason.  So I thought I should call it a day and get on with something else.

But then I suddenly remembered the birds' nests I won in some fab candy from the lovely Miss Danielle Renee way back when.

So the cards went back to the craft table, got ripped to pieces, and I started to layer in some extra elements.

It seems fitting that one year on from when this blog started, with a complete obsession with the colour combination blue & brown, that I'm back there this week!

One of the nests had some very pale turquoise eggs, and another had some that were a deeper shade.

So I grabbed the Broken China and Salty Ocean Distress Paints and added some colour to my corrugated card.

While the paint was still wet, I dipped it into clear UTEE and heated for a wet-look, textured finish.

The Salty Ocean turned out to be slightly less greeny than the eggs themselves... solution - give the eggs a touch of paint, obviously.

In my pile of half-makes and leftovers was a sheet of kraft on which I'd used up spare Picket Fence DP when stamping the wooden rulers to make my Tools of the Trade tag.

There was just enough to tear into two additional panels to insert between the corrugated card and my white background.

The borders are done with a stamp from the Autumn Leaves Stampology On the Edge set, and then given just a hint of the Distress Paint colour for that card.

I also edged a couple of bark hearts with the appropriate colours and added them to the mix.

The matching envelopes each have a slightly larger version of the images. 

They've also got the border stamp and are edged with the matching DP.

Again the images were printed on kraft paper -which I really like against the white, especially with that edging of Vintage Photo Distress ink.

The sentiments of course are by Tim Holtz - a couple of my favourites!

I'm still not entirely convinced, to be honest, but I quite like them - given they're cards, and I really don't get on with making cards - and they're certainly an improvement on the first version.  

Who knows, I may end up ripping them to pieces again and adding more!

The thing I do know is I love the images themselves, and there are thousands more where they come from.

So I really recommend paying Nicecrane Designs a visit - not only lots of beautiful images, of so many different types and styles, but at a really great price too...

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  Looking forward to seeing you again soon either here, or elsewhere in Craftyblogland.

There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.
Robert Lynd

I'm entering this in the following:
Frilly and Funkie's challenge Birds and Nests
Kraft at Simon Says Stamp and Show
At 13arts they are playing the theme House - my birds live in the nests, so that's home for them, and my corrugated card is recycled from a packaging box, and I've used paints and inks.