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...

Monday, 16 October 2017

The time of the falling leaves

Hello all!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  I'm here with a sneak peek, just letting you know about my arrival at Destination Inspiration over at A Vintage Journey today.


The travel bag is packed with wonderful things this month, and if you hop over there you'll see what I got up to with them.  Thanks so much for stopping by and have a wonderful week everybody.

Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.
Albert Schweitzer

If you don't mind hopping to see the full project, I'd love to share this...
... at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge where they'd like to see Not A Card
... at Stamping Sensations where they are celebrating Autumn Glory
... and at Country View Crafts where they are looking for Mixed Media with Autumnal Hues

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Haunted Churchyard





Hello all!  I realise I've fallen behind in sharing the details of my PaperArtsy samples from the launch of my latest sets of word stamps, so I'm back with another today.

It's using EAB04 The Autumn Edition and, since Halloween creations seem to have taken over around Craftyblogland, the time is probably right to share my spooky Haunted Churchyard.

This is one of the larger quotes on the plate.  If you want to use it on a tag or card, you'll have to snip it up, but I wanted to use it on a bigger page - as though it were in an art journal (though since it had to be sent away to go up on the PaperArtsy display boards, it couldn't really be in an actual book).

I don't have it any longer to measure it for you, but it's about 6x9 inches, so a pretty standard medium-sized journal size.










The words are from Hamlet, and definitely counts as one of the eerie quotes on the Autumn Edition plate, intended for the Halloween fans... but Hamlet himself is not referring specifically to Halloween, only to midnight.  So you can use it any time of year you like!












I still can't believe it's taken until my fourth set of words to get a Shakespeare quote involved but, as I said on launch night, there are two of them on this plate - both of them pretty creepy.  (You can see the other in action in my wingman Nikki's launch post.)













This sample took a bit of a shortcut, to be honest.  The background is formed from a couple of pieces of cardstock which I used for experiments when I first got my Distress Oxides.

They've been hanging around ever since.  I simply stuck them together to make my "page".  I'd worked out that the quote could go at just the right height so that it would disguise most of the join.












I added some gnarled tree branches, courtesy of the fabulous twisty roots image from Scrapcosy 06.  In fact, most of the stamping here is from that plate, apart from the tombstones... but more of that later.













All the gravestones were cut from kraft card which I'd sponged very roughly with Fresco chalk paint in Stone, and then inked over with Walnut Stain in places.

The small ones in the background are cut with one of the newer Tim Holtz Thinlits dies - the Village Graveyard.












I've got large gravestones in the foreground, and those have had a bit of extra spooky attention.  The hovering images, stamped in Watering Can Archival, are from the Hot Picks Halloween 05 plate.















I used a Movers and Shapers arch die for these, but then trimmed a couple to different shapes for variation.













Positioning was key.  Obviously I needed the quote to disguise the background join, and then I wanted my skeleton to stand with his hand on top of the quote, in a nice debonair way.













He's stamped in Versamark and embossed with Vanilla White Wow powder to give a nice ivory look to the bones.














I used some Walnut Stain DI to add extra shading at the foot of the page and under the gravestones, so that the churchyard has a more solid earthiness, and mounted the whole thing on some contrasting card, just so it has a nice framing effect when it's displayed.










On all these samples, I added a layer of Micro Glaze at the very end.  It seals the inks to protect them as they go off into the world.  DIs remain vulnerable to moisture otherwise... if they were to get wet, everything would shift!  It also helps to prevent the colours from fading over time, as well as giving them a slight boost in intensity because of the gentle sheen it has.

That's your spooky lot for now - happy crafting all, and make sure to avoid the witching hour!

Midnight hags,
By force of potent spells, of bloody characters,
And conjurations horrible to hear,
Call fiends and spectres from the yawning deep,
And set the ministers of hell at work.
From The Tragedy of Jane Shore by Nicholas Rowe, 1714

I'd like to play along at Try It On Tuesday where It's Halloween Time

Friday, 6 October 2017

A True Autumnal Day







Hello all!  It's time for a new challenge on A Vintage Journey and our host, the lovely Jennie, is going Crazy For Autumn Colour.  As always there's some glorious inspiration from my fellow Creative Guides, and here's my offering for you.

I seem to be slightly fixated on tags at the moment.  When you're feeling pressed for time, it's a really manageable creative space to play on; or if your mojo is feeling sluggish, there's very little pressure in just having a mess around with a tag.

I'm not saying either of those things was the case with this one - this was an experiment tag (another great tag-use)... still playing with how those Distress Inks and Distress Oxides work together.  I really enjoy the balancing act of transparent DIs and opaque DOs.













For this one I started with all Distress Inks on the mat, dipping and smooshing until I had a nice inky complexity.

I guess there's Spiced Marmalade and Wild Honey involved, and maybe some Rusty Hinge?













I then brought in Oxides from around the edges - Frayed Burlap, Vintage Photo and maybe Walnut Stain (it's a long time between making the tag and writing this post, sorry!).

I love how this gives the impression of the gathering dusk to what had been a really bright tag.












And there's that clear autumn light in the centre of the tag, and then the mists of mellow fruitfulness creeping in around the edges thanks to the chalkier opacity of the Oxides.

As you can see, I've already started stamping by this point - some of my much loved Tim Holtz wild grasses.











I stamped in various inks - some Oxide, some Distress, some Archival - and clear-embossed some for that shimmer of light that I love.

I was enjoying the glossy reflective embossing so much that I decided to add some all the way around the edges - just swiping on Versamark embossing ink direct from the pad.












In places where it seemed too much, I used a brush to soften the edges, brushing away the powder before heating it.  I love the texture you get into the bargain!












From there, it's really pretty straightforward...

The fabulous Thinlits crow is front and centre, with a  touch of spatter.











As I was providing some earthy shadows for him to stand on - a Sharpie marker, as I needed something which would work over the embossing - I realised I really loved the shading effect over the embossing.

So I added more around all the edges, just gently using the side of the nib.  I love how it highlights bits of the texture - or lowlights them, I guess.










At the heart of it all are some more of my new word stamps.

Yes, okay, I'm slightly obsessed with them - but then I wouldn't want to offer up to you words that didn't inspire me too... and they do!








These are from PaperArtsy EAB04 The Autumn Edition, some words by George Eliot, though I've not used the whole quote (hence the comma at the "end" - imperfection duly embraced).

(Has anyone noticed that I'm making sure to include at least one woman's words on each plate?  Obviously, over the centuries, far more men's words have been recorded, but I don't want ever to put out an all-male set and ignore the female voice.)









And what is the large raven looking over his shoulder to see?

Another of my favourite Tim Holtz stamps - the flock of birds circling in the sky, preparing to leave for warmer climes.












Most ravens don't migrate, so I guess he's either gazing longingly or looking scornfully at the lightweights who are setting off to avoid the cold winter weather...















...especially since they're leaving when this last autumn sunshine is still so beautiful.














Some simple rustic twine finishes the whole thing off, and that's pretty much your lot here at Words and Pictures.

But, as I said, there's oodles more inspiration to be found over at A Vintage Journey where my fabulous teammates have been going Crazy for Autumn Colour so do hop over to take a look, and we hope you'll join us along the way. 













There's a wonderful prize package on offer from the brilliant Calico Craft Parts which will go to one randomly drawn winner...








... and you could be selected as one of our Pinworthies and invited to join us further down the road as a Guest Creative Guide - so get out those autumn colours and go crazy!

Thanks for stopping by today and I'll see you again soon.

The air is crowded with birds - beautiful, tender, intelligent birds - to whom life is a song.
George Henry Lewes






I'd like to share this over at the That's Crafty Challenge Blog where the theme is Forever Autumn
At the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge they're taking A Walk on the Dark Side - I hardly ever use black, so with my raven, my Sharpie framing and the gathering darkness of autumn I hope this is dark enough
I'd also like to make a third and final entry at Frilly and Funkie where the request is to Show Us Your Stamps
In a lovely piece of timing, at Stamps and Stencils the new theme is Autumn: Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness - perfect!

Sunday, 1 October 2017

The Art of Meditation

Hello all!  What a fantastic response to the first ever challenge at the Mini Album Makers Challenge blog - thank you so much for sharing your amazing handmade books.  Unbelievably, it's already the start of October, and time to start a new round of book-making creativity, so it's inspiration time.


As will always be the case, any handmade book is welcome, but it must be a new creation.  The team are ready to kick off the month's inspiration with our own projects, so do check out the amazing work over at Mini Album Makers but, before you go, here's mine in more detail.








It's a simple tag book, with pages which are designed to offer moments of reflection and calm - thoughts to meditate on, and a gentle, serene atmosphere to encourage that meditation.

And I have to confess, the making of it was also very meditative and soothing - lots of batchwork and repetition.









There's variation as you move through the pages, but only limited variation which gives the whole thing a very calming effect.  (Remember you can click on the photos for a larger view.)


One of the main things Autumn wanted to encourage with this new bookish challenge was the sharing of "how-to" details so, after a few short-but-sweet posts, we're back to the more usual Words and Pictures length.  I'll try to keep it quick, but you might want to grab a cup of coffee if you're going to accompany me.





A pair of MDF tags (12x6cm, so quite small and neat) form the outer covers, and some cheap luggage tags serve for the pages.

I'll start with the inside and then move to the covers, as that's the order in which I made it all.






I decided that all my pages would have some PaperArtsy weathered crackle.  It's a layered glaze process so for the backgrounds I used French Roast Fresco paint for some and Pea Coat for others - and in some cases they ended up with both.


Next layer is the Crackle Glaze itself.  I usually just put a blob right on the surface I'm covering and spread it out with a palette knife - the thinner, the better.







Once the glaze is dry you can add the top coat.  (You can dry the glaze with a heat tool if you're feeling impatient - it will still work... it's the top layer which you really have to leave to do its thing for the best results.)

If you apply the top coat of paint (Snowflake and Chalk Fresco mixed in this case) with a brush you get one kind of crackle - a painted wood crackle effect.  (It's still mid-crackle-action here.)













And if you sponge it on, you get a sort of porcelain crackle variation.













Over the top of that I did a bit of dipping and dabbing into some Distress Ink - Stormy Sky I think.














Next was some stencilling, front and back, various letters and numbers from stencils by Scrapcosy at PaperArtsy and by Andy Skinner.















I also added some text stamping using my word stamps and French Ultramarine Archival Ink - very much just background detailing.

So far, that's all tags getting the same treatment on all sides.










The next element is present on every tag but only on the "front" side, and that's some flower stamping.


These delicate wildflowers are by Inkylicious, done in Ground Espresso (the Archival version), and I wasn't too worried about "perfect" impressions.







After this, the pages start to vary a bit - though still within similar configurations.

So there are some pages which have one of my quote stamps (all from PaperArtsy EAB01 Trees and Flowers) stamped on the rough internal side of one of my money envelopes.













I tore round the words, layered them over some frayed cheesecloth...













... and clipped them in place with the Idea-ology mini paper-clips.

They've actually also had some glue underneath to keep them nice and firmly in place.















Other pages followed a different path...  Firstly, I added strips of Tim Holtz Design Tape pretty randomly.
















I was also folding the strips over rather than tearing them off - that way the reverse side of the page gets some decoration too.
















Then to each of these pages I added some of the indispensable Paper Dolls (with watercolour pencil shading for them to stand on), and the equally indispensable Small Talk stickers...
















... carefully chosen to provoke thought or meditation or set you up for the day, according to what you might need.















As I said, it was already a meditative process creating these tag pages...













... and very satisfying to see them all laid out together, both front and back.














So, now to the covers.  I started with some texture paste through a Viva Decor stencil... more wild meadow flowers to echo the ones inside.













I put a coat of gesso over the whole thing and then added some DecoArt One-Step Crackle Glaze in various places.  You can see it here with the crackle still wet, gleaming in the light.













Once that was all dry - check out that crackle! - I started adding DecoArt Antiquing Creams - adding, allowing to dry, and wiping back with a damp cloth.













I did it a couple of times until I was happy with the look.  The great thing about the Antiquing Creams is they'll always wipe away until you seal them, so you can play for ages.












And don't panic - you're probably going to wipe almost all of it away, leaving it to provide great shadows in all the nooks and crannies and crackles.














When I was almost back to white, but with those brilliant lowlights around the texture, I used Distress Paint (Stormy Sky again) and Distress Crayons (Pumice Stone, Frayed Burlap, Walnut Stain I think - though I could be wrong) to add more colour and shadow.
















I'm really pretty pleased with the end result...















... especially that aged crackle...














... and the subtle blue grey tones...
















... which work so well to match the colours inside.














A couple of ChitChat stickers set you up for what you'll find inside - thoughts for the day, as many or as few as you need depending on your mood.













The back cover remains just as it is, so that's available for fingertip meditations - allowing your sense of touch to join in with the present moment.














A large book ring, made slightly less shiny with some Mushroom alcohol ink, provides a simple "binding", and I added some sari ribbon as well as some Distress-dyed crinkle ribbon, all knotted together with some rustic twine.






I love that you can take the words or pictures as a prompt for thought... or there are always the flowers - Nature is extremely conducive to meditation.


Or you can simply allow the barer reverse sides to create space in the heart and brain, heading for the stillness which lies at the heart of any meditative practice.


The very act of finding the time in the day to turn a few pages of this little album is also a version of creating space and stillness - the art of meditation.









And that, finally, is pretty much that.  I think you've seen almost every page now, at least from the front... it's a good thing these book posts are only due once a month!

Thanks for bearing with me through the long post - or if you just scrolled to see the photos, I hope you enjoyed that too.

Do hop over to the Mini Album Makers Challenge to see the beautiful books my lovely team-mates have made to inspire you, and we hope you'll be coming to play along again this month.











There's another fantastic sponsor prize, this time from Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts.  They have some great designs to play with.


The sponsor prize will be randomly drawn, but the Design Team will also be selecting a winner who will be invited to join us as a Guest Designer.  Happy bookish crafting all, and happy October!

The act of meditation is being spacious.
Sogyal Rinpoche

With nearly the full set of Inkylicious flowers on display, as well as some of my own word stamps, I'd like to share this at Frilly and Funkie where the request is to Show Us Your Stamps
I'd also like to play along with the Anything Mixed Media Goes theme at Mixed Media World