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...

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Getting in a spin over Katzelkraft

Hello all!  Thanks so much for dropping in, and an especially big welcome to the newest followers - on Bloglovin' too - it's lovely to have you on board for the journey.  I'm in blue-and-brown mode today, but if you missed my flurry of spring colour, Butterfly Moments, check it out over at the Calico Craft Parts blog.

Today I've got some journalling pages for you, using some of the amazing Katzelkraft stamps. I was thrilled to be invited by the lovely Béatrice of Katzelkraft to play with some of her designs, and this is the first of the projects which I'm ready to share.

I was inspired by the wonderful spiral clock collage stamp, and it just seemed to want some rusty wire to echo those fabulous swirls of time.

The pages started with some book text and tissue tape, layered with a gesso base.

And then I did my stamping, using Coffee and Sepia Archival inks.

The Clock Collage forms the main image for the left-hand page, and the Baby Collage for the right hand page, and then I repeat stamped the flock of birds from the top of the clock, fluttering out into the world in all directions.

Then I had great fun spritzing with some of the Lindy's Stamp Gang sprays I bought last spring, and have finally got around to mixing up with water!

They have a fabulous shimmer to them... 

I found myself adding some Enamel Accents to the harlequins within the image to accent them.

And from there it was a short trip to adding some enamel harlequins to the opposite page.

The Idea-ology clock echos the image opposite, and I added another swirl of rusty wire to that too.

The die-cut words got a good spritzing of Distress Sprays, including the metallics, so that they have a sheen to complement the shimmer of the background.

I added some shading underneath with Distress Ink and pastel pencils...

... and carried on the shading into the Harlequins to give some depth to them.

The tea/coffee stained book page fragments create clouds streaking across the blue sky.

And the wooden arrows offer an accent to take the eye around the page.

Perhaps they're there to help the baby decide which direction to go in life...

... to help him choose in which direction to fly.

There are so many original and fascinating stamp designs at Katzelkraft - I really recommend a visit if you've never been, but don't blame me if you end up with a basketful!

A circle is the reflection of eternity.  It has no beginning and it has no end - and if you put several circles over each other, then you get a spiral.
Maynard James Keenan

I'd like to share this in the final ever challenge over at Artful Times - where they are celebrating rather than mourning with a Party Party Au Revoir Anything Goes theme.  With the artful swirls of time in my coiled clocks this seems the perfect page spread to say a fond farewell to Artful Times with... it will be a slightly less "beautiful world" without you.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Butterfly Moments at Calico

Hello all, and welcome.  After a very quiet start to May, the posts just keep coming at the moment.  I was over at PaperArtsy with some word tags a couple of nights ago, then sending a scenic postcard for Country View Challenges, and now it's time for another sneak peek.  I've been playing with the Calico Craft Parts again, and you can see the results over at the Calico Craft Parts blog today.

It's a springtime make (what with all these April showers we still seem to be having) - blossom, blue skies and butterflies.  I hope you'll find time to pop over and check it out, and I'll be round to catch up with you all soon.  Happy Crafting all!

The living self has one purpose only: to come into its own fullness of being, as a tree comes into full blossom, or a bird into spring beauty...
D.H. Lawrence

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Dawn Chorus

Hello all... After a quiet start to the month, it's hotting up around here now.  I was over at PaperArtsy last night (I hope you'll check out my Word Tags if you missed them), and today it's a Magpie Day of inspiration over at Country View Challenges.  I wasn't able to be part of the main Simply Scenic inspiration this month, so I'm really happy that I was able to squeeze in a scenic postcard for this.

I've kept it simple with some of my favourite Distress Ink colours and various stamps combined to create a dawn chorus scene.  Did anybody catch the marvellous "slow season" on BBC4?  There was a two hour canal trip, glass-blowing, furniture making and an hour of the dawn chorus - all without soundtrack or voiceover - magical!

Well, this postcard probably qualifies for a similar world of simplicity... some ink, some stamps and some water.

I blended Faded Jeans, Rusty Hinge and Vintage Photo Distress Inks on to a textured postcard, and spritzed water at them with my new T.H. water spray bottle... Yes, I know, I gave in, but looking at this I'm already glad that I did!

The tree silhouettes are formed by the two halves of a Penny Black stamp (used in one of my favourite journalling pages from earlier this year).  It's actually a narrow avenue of trees, but by inking up one half at a time you can have the trees as far apart as you need them!

Along the ground in between I used one of the PaperArtsy Hot Picks birds & grasses images, stamped in a combination of Jet Black Archival and Rusty Hinge, just to get a slightly burnished tone of early morning sunshine on the birds.

The "Postcard" at the top is a Darkroom Door stamp, and I drew the dividing line with a PITT pen.

Another Darkroom Door stamp provides the writing on the postcard, stamped in Faded Jeans so that it would fade into the background.

The words from the Small Talk sticker set seemed about perfect for the theme, and I added shading around them, first of all with Inktense pencils, and then with Faded Jeans and Rusty Hinge Distress Stains, applied with a water brush.

I liked the effect so much I repeated it around the edges of the card to give a bit of extra texture.  So now there are splatters of removed ink and splatters of extra ink.

I thought that was that... but then it occurred to me that I maybe wanted to preserve the colours a bit.  Don't get me wrong, I adore Distress Inks, but over time the colours can fade a little if they're out on display.

So I decided to clear emboss the whole thing.  I tapped the Versamark ink pad all over the postcard and applied the powder, and I love the result.  Not only are the colours more vivid (because of light getting refracted and so intensifying the colour spectrum - or something like that!), but there's a delicious enamelled texture to it.

And of course it catches the light which, as you know, I love as an effect.  Most of the photos in this post are of the plain ink version... just the first and the last photos give you the embossed effect.

So there's my Simply Scenic postcard for you.  I hope you'll hop over to Country View Challenges to check out the Magpie inspiration from the rest of my fabulous team-mates, and I'll see you again soon.

Each time dawn appears, the mystery is there in its entirety.
René Daumal

I'd like to enter this in the Vintage Garden theme over at the new Anything But Cute Challenge.  I hope with the inks, pencils, staining and embossing it's mixed media enough to qualify!
And at A Sprinkle of Imagination it's an Anything Goes theme, as long as you use at least one product available in the store - the Distress Inks and Stains are all there.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Layers of Meaning at PaperArtsy

Hello all!  I'm delighted to be over at PaperArtsy this evening, sharing a pair of tags as part of the Words theme.  As you'll read if you hop over there, I've been playing with layers of paint and ink to reflect the layers of meaning I love to unpick in language.  It's not always what's on the surface with words... sometimes you have to look beneath.

I hope the sneak peek will tempt you to take a look at what I've been up to over there, and for now I'll wish you a very lovely weekend, and hope to see you soon.  (In fact, I'll be back almost before you know it!)

Words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean.  Little audible links they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.
Theodore Dreiser

Monday, 18 May 2015

Extraordinary Things

Hello all!  Thank you so much for the lovely feedback on the Dollshouse Book - I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I loved making it.

I'm here today with my take on Tim Holtz's delicious May tag... another wealth of inspiration from the master, and quite a lot of improvising in my version!

I don't have the burlap sheets, but I do have plenty of burlap, and as I was fishing it out of the fabric box I found some cream coloured pieces which I rather fancied playing with.

After I'd glued it to some card and cut the tag, I then gave it a rough coat of gesso to make it even paler, and that led me to this rather delicately toned vintage piece.

I gathered paper offcuts as well as bits of ephemera, including some pieces of vellum, to layer into the design, and then started sorting through the Photobooth characters to see who wanted to come out to play.

It was love at first sight when I saw this woman - and she started to tell me her story almost straight away...

Though she's been overlooked amongst the debutantes of her first season, those glasses hide a first class mind.  She hadn't even considered a university education - not really the thing for girls, don't you know?

But a friend of her uncle's, seated next to her at a dinner party by chance, quickly spotted her potential and invited her to come and take a test down at a place in the country where he was working - a country house, Bletchley Park.

Since passing with flying colours, she's been working night and day on the top secret code-breaking project which will eventually contribute significantly to the defeat of the Nazis in World War II.

Though the decoding work is obviously the main concern (scribbled handwritten notes in a moment of inspiration have to be typed up into reports to be shared), she has suddenly found that it is, after all, easy to speak to men...

... when you have a common interest of importance about which to talk, of course.  Tedious small talk is a thing of the past.

And from being left on the sidelines at dances and at parties, she's now sought out by her male colleagues who admire her mind, her wit and not least her beauty, now that they've taken the time to look at her more than once.

These are only a few of the flowers she's now accustomed to receiving.  (Pre-made, I'm afraid... flower-making is something that only happens occasionally around here.)

So, this former wallflower is blossoming, finding stimulation and fulfilment in her work, and laughter and love with her colleagues.  You could even say she's becoming something of a social butterfly!

No wonder there's a gentle blush in her cheeks, echoing the soft pink tints of her clothes (very delicately done with Tattered Rose and Victorian Velvet).  And is that a hint of lipstick she's taken to wearing?  Or perhaps it's the bruising of a passionate kiss...

I can only hope that she will find somewhere to deploy her considerable talents and intellect once the war is over... or that if she marries one of these intelligent young men, they won't suddenly expect her to become "the little woman" at home.

I'd hate to see her dwindle again, having come into her own with such grace.  The butterfly should never have to turn back into a caterpillar.

In the meantime, let's leave her doing extraordinary things, and finding her way to being anything but ordinary.

Thank you so much, Tim, for the inspiration which tickled this young woman into existence - I'm so glad I got to meet her.  And thanks to all of you for stopping by.  It's always a joy to hear your thoughts... it makes this whole journey come alive.

I'd like to enter this as my May tag in Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of 2015.

Live a life less ordinary.
Benedict Cumberbatch

In the Autumn of 1943, the Government called up all girls aged 17½ ... to work in munitions or hospitals, the Women’s Services being at that time closed for recruitment. It was with some trepidation that I went for my interview at the Labour Exchange ... fortunately I had a Credit in Maths on my School Certificate, and the official thought I should go for an interview at the Foreign Office. Within a month I was on my way to Bletchley Park. My first impression was a lecture on the utmost secrecy the work entailed, and a signing of the Official Secrets Act.
Hilary Pownall (nee Law) Hut 8, Block D

Friday, 15 May 2015

Dollshouse Book

Hello all... No, it's not a miniature book, but rather an altered album which will be the new Visitors' Book in Cestina's dollshouse museum, Small Worlds.

She's just set off back to the Czech Republic to open the museum for the summer season, so I had to make good on my Christmas "voucher" to provide the album before she left.

(If you've no idea what I'm talking about, check out Cestina's Dollshouses for the full story of my mother's dollshouse museum, and/or some of my miniatures posts here, here or here.)

And what else could one possibly have as the Visitors' Book for a dollshouse museum but a house?!

(Just to warn you, you might want a cup of coffee on hand for this one!)

I used some of the techniques learned from Andy Skinner on one of his fantastic workshops to alter a Prima Chipboard Dollshouse Album (I see they think of it as a dollshouse, not just a house... probably what set me off!), creating texture and rust effects galore.

I even added some of my own roof tiles for an extra bit of fun (they're not part of the kit).

Let me show you pictures of some of the stages.

The textures are built up with layers of embossed card, stencilling and DecoArt Mixed Media line paints.

There are lots of great techniques and products involved - drybrushing, paint layers and Texture Sand Paste all play a huge role.

For full details, I can't recommend Andy's workshops highly enough, and there are his online courses (find all the details on Andy's website) as well as videos of Andy demonstrating at CHA where you can get the lowdown from the man himself.

The colour scheme was pretty much dictated by the decor of Small Worlds itself.  If you've seen the photos of the museum (there are some good ones here), you'll know the shelves are all painted in a soft green which sets off the houses really beautifully.

So I went for the greens for this - mixing in a touch of my favourite teals and turquoises as I went.  These are the colours in play, mixed and shaded directly onto the walls and tiles as I went.

For the roof tiles, I followed my own lead.  When I was working on the Tudor Tavern last year, I created terra cotta tiles for my fire places using the Tim Holtz Lattice Frameworks die, some textured sand paste and layers of paint.

I did much the same for these tiles, but instead of conventional terra cotta tiles, I decided to have them tone in with the rest of the greens.  I gave the sand-pasted tiles a touch of black gesso to add extra depth and then set to with my colours.

It took some time to get them positioned to the best effect, but I love the finished look!

The various rust effects are created in different ways...

... some with the DecoArt Mixed Media misters, including the door and the window frames...

... some with layers of the Mixed Media Fluid Acrylics, around the edges of the walls.

In places there's Texture Sand Paste for extra rusty texture...

... including on the door, and the door knob...

... and just look at the damage done by water leaking down from the roof tiles!

The ingredient I can't be without is the Quinacridone Gold Fluid Acrylic, which is absolutely magical!

The windows are lined with tea/coffee stained book pages - we've gone way beyond a "naturalistic" look by now!

On the back of the house, I used Tim Holtz's Bricks stencil with some more of the sand paste to create my brickwork.

Again, I could have gone with standard brick colours (and you can bet there'll be a dollshouse to be done like this at some point in the future - Tim's bricks are exactly the right size for 12th scale work, and the stencil is designed so that you can repeat the pattern and get the right half-brick/whole-brick matching together)...

... but I decided to stick with the Small Worlds colour palette and lots of lovely blue-green shades.

And of course the rusted layers around the edges... eating in to the brickwork a little further where there are holes for the decay to gather around!

As well as the DecoArt colours, there's also a strong showing for Tinned Peas Fresco paint, as that's pretty close to the Small Worlds shelf colour.  I used that as the main colour, with a touch of Phthalo Turquoise mixed in to paint the interior walls of the house.

I stamped the peeled paint stamp from Andy Skinner's Industrial set in French Ultramarine Archival ink, so that you have a distressed look on the inside too.

The Dollshouse Album comes with pre-cut pages, some plain, some kraft and some with faint text on.

I think visitors will be able to write over the text, as long as there's a good enough pen around, or of course you could just snap open the book rings and replace those pages with plain paper.

Rather than let the shiny silver book rings spoil the overall effect, I altered them with some black gesso and alcohol inks so that they would fit the weathered feel.

The main thing is that Cestina (or one of her many willing assistants) will be able to cut fresh pages to refill the album, so that the Visitors Book can be never-ending, which will be just as well if the visitor numbers continue to go up year on year.

I love that it looks like a little faerie house in the woods...

... and I love the gleam of the "rust" in the sunlight, even though the whole thing has had a coat of the DecoArt Ultra Matte varnish to protect it in the busy times ahead.

So there's my (small) contribution to Small Worlds for this year.  Work means I'm not going to be able to get over there to do any substantial dollshouse renovations this time around, though I hope to visit for at least a few days at some point.

I am still hoping I might manage some inhabitants for the Tudor Tavern, including some strolling players - I have all the makings for those here in the UK, but I'm not sure whether time is going to be on my side!

The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I would like to enter this in the following:
At Mixed Media World they're playing a Vintage theme, including anything "rusty, crackled and weathered" so I hope this will qualify
Love To Create are playing Anything Creative/Mixed Media/Anything Goes - me too!
The Inspiration Journal is inviting us to Get Pasted - with the embossing paste stencilling on the back as well as used for texture on the tiles and the rust, this should fit the bill.
In the Creative Gym at the Mixed Media Place they are playing with The Power of One - I have one stencil (the bricks), one stamp (the crackle) and one colour (greens).