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, 15 December 2014

Let there be light!

Hello all!  Just a sneak peek today (after yesterday's mammoth post).  I'm over at A Vintage Journey catching my breath with a Destination Inspiration post (and I'm afraid it's also a bit of a monster!).

I've got a festive gift idea for you using tissue wrap.  I wouldn't call it a lightbulb moment, so much as a candle beam of an idea... but I hope it inspires you to play.  Hop on over to take a look at my experiments.

It's been very festive on the Vintage Journey just recently.  If you missed yesterday's Secret Santa sharing, I would love it if you have time to take a look at my offering for that.

It's one of my favourite recent makes, and there's even another touch of tissue wrap inspiration to be found there.

You'll also find a link so that you can see all the other Vintage Journey Design Team Secret Santa Deliveries - and if you hop around to the whole team, you could be in with a chance to win one of the fabulous prizes in our Christmas Giveaway!

Check it all out on A Vintage Journey for Father Christmas.

I'll be a candle holder and look on.
From Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Sunday, 14 December 2014

A Vintage Journey for Father Christmas

Hello all!  It's Secret Santa time over at A Vintage Journey.  Brilliant Brenda organised us all into exchanging cards and/or gifts amongst the Design Team, sending them off around the world, and today you can see what's been flying back and forth.  If you want a quick glimpse of all the creations, you'll find them over at A Vintage Journey today.  Prepare for a Tim Holtz-inspired festive feast, not to mention news of a Christmas Giveaway for you too!

I'm here to share what I created, and let you see what I received.  I'm afraid it's a rather long post - but this creation keeps on opening up to reveal more of itself.  I want to show you all that, and I want a record for myself of how I got there, so there are also some how-to details as we go.  And then you'll want to persevere to see the glorious things I received from my Secret Santa.  So, cups of coffee at the ready...

Right, first things first.  I drew the lovely Julia Aston of Create With Me out of the virtual hat so I knew I'd have to get my skates on to meet the deadline transatlantically (so to speak!).

Here's what she'll have found when she opened her packet...

And then you undo the twine and open it up...

... to reveal something completely different on the inside!

I honestly didn't have a plan when I began... I just sort of followed my fingers.

They started with a sheet of Ranger Manila A4 card to which I applied some Chalk Fresco paint with a palette knife, keeping it rough and uneven.

I built up some colour by sweeping the card through Distress Stains on my craft mat, and doing some wrinkle-free distress technique with them.

There's a layer of Broken China at the top for the sky, and then a layer of Iced Spruce creating some shading behind the Tim Holtz fir trees, which are also stamped in Iced Spruce.

I sponged and splattered on some Picket Fence Distress Stain for an extra snowy look.

Right, so there's a background... what now?  I thought it should be a bit more involved than just a card, since it was travelling all that way, so I decided to turn it into a wallet containing tags.  Okay... now I need some tags.

I grabbed a couple of the Prima Ledger tags, and did some stencilling in Broken China and Evergreen Bough through the Latticework stencil, flicking some water at it once it was done.

Already very happy with the delicate writing through the translucent colour!

I thought I'd carry on the fir trees from the background onto the tags themselves.  But here they're stamped in Coffee Archival.

I started adding snowflakes, stamped in Versamark and embossed in either Detail White or Clear powder.

And I rather love that where the Coffee Archival was still a bit wet, the trees have a dusting of snowy embossing powder too!

The deer are die-cut from some of the gorgeous Maja Designs It's Christmas Time 6x6 pad (hence the really tiny writing), backed onto card before cutting, and edged with some Vintage Photo Distress Ink afterwards.

Once they were in place, I used a couple of Big Brush Pens to create the shadows underneath them.

I used a water brush to give the soft watercolour effect to the shadows.  Now at least they are "rooted" in the landscape around them.

I added some of the fabulous Tim Holtz pine cone fir branches around the edges...

... and of course some Vintage Photo for the aged look.

Love it over the clear snowflake!

So that's the tags...

Now, how do I keep them in the wallet without covering up too much of either the tags or the background?

Leftovers to the rescue!

There was a tag sitting around on my desk - been there for months - on which I'd been playing with crackle and texture pastes and which I'd then used to mop up inky and painty messes. 

I added a bit of extra Evergreen Bough, and some DecoArt Patina Antiquing Cream to make the colours tone even better with the inside of my wallet, and then cut some strips to create the tag holders.

So I was very happy with the overall look of the inside, but the reverse was just plain (and now slightly messy) manila.


Since we're full of trees inside, I grabbed the woodgrain sheet from the Motif Resist Paper Stash and set to with some of the new Distress Spray Stains.

The sprays are such a quick way to add inky colour!  I think there's Vintage Photo, Walnut Stain and Rusty Hinge in here, and I blended on some extra Walnut Stain around the edges to really add depth.

I cut it to fit the A4 sheet as the outside of my wallet.

For the front cover, I created a crackled embossed panel, using the techniques learned at the Andy Skinner workshops I went to recently (more of that another day).

I love the crackle in between the embossing - such a cool effect.

There's added Quinacridone Gold for an aged rusty look...

... and some more of the rusty nail heads which regulars will be getting to know well (they're just cardboard, honestly), "nailing" the panel to the wooden background.

I used the same rusted cardboard to cut the large Noel, so that we'd have a nice festive focal point (well, a grungy festive focal point, at any rate).

There was just enough card-backed Maja paper left over from the deer to cut the 25 too.  I used PITT pens to shade around both the Noel and the numbers.

(Here 5's been done, 2 is yet to do.)

As you can see above, I then used a water brush to soften the look, bedding them into the background.

The panel is layered over some white-washed hessian (I just needed a touch more texture in there!) and I glued down some twine underneath it, so that there is a way to fasten the wallet closed.

So there you go - from a rusty, crackled, grungy, wooden exterior...

... to the snowy forest interior...

... with the deer leaping...

... and listening.

And of course it's only when you take the tags out that you find the greetings on the reverse, surrounded by lovely prickly fir boughs.

On the very back is the little butterfly I always add (as long as I remember!).  He had to be embossed this time to show up against the woodgrain.

I even zhuzhed up the rather dull brown envelope using some of the Postale Tissue Wrap...

... inked up and with a tag attached to write the address on.  I hope all those instructions didn't confuse the postmen!

Well, that's what I sent to Julia.  I hope it survived the journey, and I hope you like it, Julia.

And I was absolutely thrilled to find, when my Secret Santa packet arrived, that my "Santa" was the amazing Astrid.  And what a parcel of delights it was...

Not only a wonderful card, with one of my favourite ingredients - corrugated cardboard - at the centre of it...

... but also the most beautiful Christmas mini-album, based around the words of a poem and full of the most glorious textures and shimmering colours (again, my favourites - blues and browns!).

There was even an envelope full of lovely little bits and bobs to play with.  A completely enchanting gift - thank you so, so much, Astrid!

I'm only supposed to show you one picture (oops!) so hop over to Astrid's Artistic Efforts to see lots more gorgeous details.

If I haven't completely exhausted you, do head over to A Vintage Journey to see what other gifts have been exchanged.  And if you manage to hop around and leave some love for all of us by 21st December, and then link up to the Secret Santa linky at A Vintage Journey, there's a prize draw for a Christmas Giveaway for you too.  

Find all the details over at A Vintage Journey, and enjoy the ride!

Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being there was no more
than prettiness.
Mary Oliver

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

O Christmas Tree - and a winner!

Hello all!  It's a very brief teaser here at Words and Pictures today.  I'm hoping to tempt you over to The Artistic Stamper to see what I've been creating for them this week.

I've used a couple of stamps which are fairly new to the Artistic Stamper selection, and they're perfect for wintry and festive creations, so do hop over and take a look.

But before you go, I'd also like to announce the winner of my 500th Post Giveaway.  I printed out all the names, chopped them up, folded them, and popped them all into a bowl and - with eyes closed - drew out the winning name. And the ATCs (plus extras!) go to....

Hettie of Hettiecraft

Congratulations, Hettie!  If you'd like to drop me an email (there's a link in the sidebar here) with your full address, I'll get your little goody package in the post as soon as possible.  Thanks so much to everyone for joining in, and I'll be back soon with more of the next 500 posts!!

I frequently tramped eight or ten miles through the deepest snow to keep an appointment with a beech tree, or a yellow birch, or an old acquaintance among the pines.
Henry David Thoreau

Monday, 1 December 2014

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!

Hello all!  I've a mini-trio and a milestone for you today.  This is the 500th post here at Words and Pictures.  That seems worth celebrating, so how about a little butterfly giveaway

                                                                   UPDATE - The winner has now been drawn.
Thanks so much to everyone who joined in!

If you'd like to win this trio of ATCs (plus some of the little extras I can't help but include in a crafty envelope) just tell me so in your comment.  These have been created for Our Creative Corner's new challenge - more of that in a moment! - and now they could be yours.

So leave a comment saying if you'd like to go in the draw; I'll pop all the names into a hat and draw one out a week from today.  Hopefully, that means you would have them in time for Christmas.

Back to business!  You may already have caught my Nostalgic Christmas tag for the new Country View Challenges theme (the 499th post!), and now it's time to head over to Our Creative Corner.

I'm your host this month, and I'm looking for ATCs, ATBs and chunky ATCs.  That's right, it's time to Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!  Hence my three winter festival creations here...

Once you're done with my trio, do head over to Our Creative Corner to see what my brilliant team-mates have created, and check out the rules and guidelines while you're over there.  You wouldn't want to miss your place in the prize draw, sponsored this month by Tando Creative.

Just in case anyone isn't already singing along, here's the divine Judy Garland to put you in the (slightly melancholy) mood.

I know I've linked to this before somewhere in those 500 posts, but it really is a strong contender for my favourite Christmas song (as opposed to Christmas carol - that race is much more competitive!) so I make no excuse for using it as the title and soundtrack to my whole challenge theme this month!

I started out with three of Tando's chipboard ATCs, thinking I'd like a fairly sturdy substrate in case things got heavy.  I started with some French Roast Fresco paint, a palette knife's worth of PaperArtsy Crackle Glaze and a coat of Chalk Fresco over the top.

Next up, some of the wonderful Artistic Outpost winter stamps (this is like my whole blogging life flashing before me... from DT to DT!), stamped in Potting Soil Archival ink.

I used a blending tool to apply more of the Potting Soil around the edges of the ATCs and then dipped them in UTEE.  I really loved the crystal glitter effect of the UTEE sitting there - yes, before I'd heated it! - so I immediately decided to go down a (for me) fairly unusual route and add some glitter.

The UTEE was already on there, so I had to melt that first.  Then I added some Ranger Sticky Embossing Powder over the top and scattered some of the Tim Holtz Rock Candy Dry Glitter onto it.

Generally, I'm happy to play with neutrals at Christmas, but somehow these weren't quite doing the job for me yet.  So, influenced by my recent workshops with Andy Skinner, I reached for the DecoArt Quinacridone Gold to add a rusty look.

On the ATC with the little cabin in the photo above, you can see the Rock Candy by itself, while on the fir trees I've already added the Quin Gold, seeping along the cracks.

I do like the combination of the rust colour with the crackled paint - it has that look of weathered paints tainted with iron oxide.

And I especially love it over the glitter.  The Quin Gold is translucent so you get to keep the shimmer.  Plus you get a really cool rusty texture.

I still wasn't quite happy, so I played around with washes of Raw Umber, Paynes Grey and Phthalo Turquoise until I got closer to the wintry look I wanted.

I'm very happy with the result - I think they have the look of paintings on old wooden panels, complete with the rusty nails to hold them in place.

Those rusty nail heads are created with one of Andy Skinner's magic recipes, and then punched out with a hole punch!

I did some shadowing around them, to make them look as though they've been there for years, rusting and tainting the "wood" around them.

I tore some pieces of Maja Designs It's Christmas Time paper, and added those, inked with Walnut Stain Distress Ink, as well as some baby pinecones and my favourite little wooden stars.

Nearly there... what else?  Ah... white splatter of course!  Yes, that's more like it.  And as I was splattering, I decided the pinecones and the stars needed to be properly snow-covered while I was at it.

So you have the stream running through the frozen woods...

... the tips of the pine trees in the thickest part of the forest...

... and the little house where, despite the deep snow and freezing temperatures, they will be keeping Christmas with warm hearts.

Oops... was that a touch of sentimentality there?  Sorry - it must be the half-millennium creeping up on me.

The 500th post seems a good time to say a huge and heartfelt thank you for the extraordinary generosity and warmth I've found here in Craftyblogland, not to mention the astounding inspiration available at the touch of a keyboard.

Giving away this ATC trio - plus some bits and bobs to go with it - is just a small token of my immense gratitude.  Do remember to say in your comment if you'd like to be included in the draw.  And yes, I will post to anywhere...

And once you've done that, hop over to Our Creative Corner and be blown away by lots of tiny festive creations from my team-mates.  We hope you'll have time to join us this month, with just a tiny ATC or ATB offering and Have Yourself A Merry LITTLE Christmas!

Thanks so much for stopping by today, and for all the amazing comments and feedback here at Words and Pictures over the last 500 posts. The journey would be a fraction of what it is if it weren't for all of you.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, 
Let your heart be light.
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight.
From the song by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane

(Oh, and do check out my Country View Challenges tag too, if you've still got a taste for festive sentiment and nostalgia... Compliments of the Season to you!)

Happy Crafting all!