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, 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

Monday, 14 November 2016

Take a leaf out of my book...

Hello all!  Thanks for stopping by today.  You won't be here for long as it's just a sneak peek (seems a long time since we had one of those at Words and Pictures).  I'm over at A Vintage Journey today sharing my take on the contents of this month's travel bag at Destination Inspiration.

It's an altered notebook, my first creation back in my (somewhat chaotic) craft room, and I rather like it, though I do say so myself!  I hope you'll be able to hop over and take a look.  And in the meantime, I need to do some more unpacking, sorting and then repacking for a week of work and play away from home.  No rest for the wicked, they say...

A room without books is like a body without a soul.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Friday, 4 November 2016

Abstract Crackle - or is it?

Hello everyone!  It's my turn to host the challenge over at A Vintage Journey, and for this month I've chosen one of my favourite things - crackle - and since I've had a pretty crazy year, I've called it Cracking Up!

Do check out the fabulous crackled creations made by my amazing team-mates, and come and join us on the journey for a chance to win the prize from this month's brilliant sponsor, Tando Creative.

I've got a piece of abstract art for you, full of crackled texture.  At least, I thought it was completely abstract as I was making it, and as it leaned against the wall of my craft room for several months.  It was only as I was photographing it that I realised there is actually a shadowy figure of a woman emerging from the book page fragments, paint and crackle.

Can you see her?  The face at the top, looking down and to the left, lowered in something between melancholy and meditation... and perhaps a blue hooded robe.  Having found her, I've fallen in love with her gentle grief and calm serenity.

I've no process photos, I'm afraid.  I was carried away in the making of this and, besides, I wasn't really sure that I would ever be posting it here at Words and Pictures.

But when I remembered this challenge was coming up, I thought I would bite the bullet and take some photos to share it with you.

So I do have lots of close-ups so that you can see it really is strongly based on crackle...

... not only crackle, but also some of my favourite paint colours in a heavy-body version.

There are scraps of book text throughout too...

... adding even more dimensional texture.

I love it when the light catches on some of the crackle glaze, and it shimmers into life.

I'm really happy with the sense of movement in some of the paint marks too.

I wish I could say I planned it, but the woman's face is completely accidental, formed of some crackle and a book page fragment.  Maybe my subconscious knew what it was doing...

I considered adding extra definition when I discovered her, but it was some months later, and I felt she was better left slightly shadowy and subliminal.

Once again, there are no words (except in those book page fragments).  I hope this canvas speaks for itself.

Altogether, it's a step in a new direction which feels very much a good place to keep stepping.

Now that I'm back home with access to my craft room again, I think there might be some more canvases coming to life.

And the next time, I might actually go in pursuit of creating the figure within the shapes, colours and textures.

I hope you're inspired to play with some crackle and join us on A Vintage Journey this month - don't forget to check out the other Creative Guides' projects.  Your crackle can be stamped, stencilled, painted, or you can use a crackle medium of some sort.  There are plenty of ways for you to be Cracking Up!  I hope we'll see you there soon.

I felt the most intense pleasure in piercing the stone in order to make an abstract form and space; quite a different sensation from that of doing it for the purpose of realism.
Barbara Hepworth

Monday, 31 October 2016

Flying with the Witches

Hello all, and a happy Halloween to you all.  I'm flying with the witches today - travelling home to the UK from Columbus, Ohio after an exciting three months here.  I'll be sharing some of my Romeo and Juliet adventures soon, but I'm here just now to offer up some Halloween spookiness.

I had my first go at pumpkin carving at a Pumpkin Carving Party last week.  You know me, so you'll probably guess that I didn't go for the classic scary face but decided to try my hand at a spooky bare-branched tree instead.  There have been a lot of trees around here lately... I seem to be hooked!

I think it's rather good for a first try, though I do say so myself!  There were points at which I was a bit scared I was going to lose a whole branch or two, but I managed to keep control of the knife.

I also did a bit of crackle on some of the gorgeous tiny pumpkins you can get here, using craft glue and gesso.  I did mean to add some more distressed detail with paint shading and spatters, but sadly they still weren't dry by home time, so I had to leave them as they were.

The rest of the R&J company came up with some more traditional pumpkin faces, as well as the odd sports team fan-pumpkin.

It was all great fun - a lovely way to spend one of our two evenings off from the show.

I also wanted to share pictures of some of the fabulously decorated houses around the streets of Columbus.  I know that for the American followers amongst you this is probably old hat, but to those of us from east of the Atlantic, they're pretty impressive!

I was passing these houses on the bus every day, watching the decorations become ever more elaborate each weekend as people had time to add the next layer.

I love the friendly skeletons on the balcony, as well as those creepy spiders making their way across the walls.  Fabulous cobwebbery... even spreading onto the bushes all the way down the drive.

Sadly, I didn't get a picture of the one which was probably my favourite.  It had three full-size, very realistic skeletons simply sitting on the porch furniture having a drink and a chat... it made me laugh every time I went by.

This one with a whole graveyard in front of it was a treat though.  I think that purple spider above the door may be going to be inflated for the actual Halloween celebrations...

... the gatekeeper certainly doesn't look very welcoming...

... but all the various carvings on the gravestones are so cool in their different fonts.

How about this rather terrifying bat - with wiry wings at least ten feet tall - guarding the porch at this house?!

Of course, my real favourites are the stoops where you see the lovely autumnal gatherings.

I just love the variety of gourds - shapes, sizes and colours - and they look wonderful arranged on the steps.

I hope you have a great evening whether you're trick-and-treating or just hiding away from the ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties.  I'll be tucked up in my aeroplane seat keeping an eye out of the window for witches on their broomsticks!  Happy Halloween!

Pixie, kobold, elf and sprite,
All are on their rounds tonight;
In the wan moon's silver ray,
Thrives their helter-skelter play.
Joel Benton