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, 3 August 2015

It's always ourselves we find in the sea

Hello all!  I'm back with my second Summertime creation of the month for Country View Challenges.  As the host, you always leap back into action almost immediately, so if you missed my first offering, you could go and have a wander In a Summer Meadow.

And this is actually the second post of the day here at Words and Pictures... in between, I squeezed in a Calico Car Rally - I'd love it if you had time to check that out!

For this second Summertime piece, I've moved from the meadows to the beach...

My team-mate the fabulous Brenda of Bumblebees and Butterflies has quite often shared altered clipboards, and a while back I ordered a cheap set and they've been sitting around waiting to be pressed into action.

Here's what they look like before... and I confess I hadn't actually intended to use one of them for this at all.

It all started with a journalling page - I was just playing with lots of DecoArt Media Line sprays, some stencilled circles, splatter and so on.

And then I looked at it and I thought, "Well, that's got a look of the seashore about it"... the spume and the spray and the bubbles.

"That might work for the Summertime theme", said my brain.

I started to gather embellishments and it became clear pretty quickly that I'd never be able to close the journal with the bits and bobs I wanted to use. That was when my brain flickered onto the idea of the clipboard and - to my delight - the page fitted almost perfectly onto the board.

Now I was able to set to with my beach combing additions.

There's an Occasions Found Relatives photo at the heart of it. I'm fairly sure I've already shared the e.e.cummings poem at the foot of the post before... but it was bubbling inside me all through this creative process. This may be Maggie and Milly or Molly and May... you decide.

In any case, I used DecoArt Media Line Fluid Acrylics to tint the sea, dabbing it on with some water, and rubbing with my finger, and then repeating the process until I was happy with the depth of colour.

The stained and torn book pages are coated with crackle glaze to give a look of sandy dunes rippling up between the shallow waves.

There are more bubbles thanks to a bargain Elizabeth Craft Designs die...

And cheesecloth - somewhere between fishing nets and the wisps of white on the top of breaking waves.

The girls have been collecting shells and sea glass from amidst the tiny stones and sparkling grains of sand (seed beads and some Finnabair micro beads)...

... starfish (Calico Craft Parts primitive stars lightly crackled in that role) and pebbles...

... an old anchor (another Calico special) - a really lucky find, that.

As you know, I love glassy translucence, so I added Glossy Accents and Crackle Accents to some of my journalling bubbles.

They catch the light very pleasingly!

The clip itself has also had some work. I've tried to give it a look of the ocean waves just offshore, in the distance from where our girls are paddling.

I've used a variety of crackle paints and glazes and the DecoArt paints again to offer a look of the cresting breakers heading in towards the beach.

I hope this captures some of the feeling of those golden childhood days, paddling in the shallows, exploring rock pools...

... discovering and collecting all the exciting beachcombing bits and bobs we find so fascinating.

And with everything they've collected, it would never have closed inside the art journal, so it's just as well I went with the altered clipboard idea!  If you'd like to meet someone else who's been collecting far too many seashells, take a wander over to Cestina's Dollshouses to see who's selling seashells (though not quite on the sea shore!).

We'd love to see what Summertime conjures up for you, so come and play along with us at Country View Challenges this month. Remember, there's fresh inspiration from the team every couple of days over at the blog and a great prize from our fabulous sponsors Country View Crafts, so we hope to see you there soon. Happy Summertime crafting all!

maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang 
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing 
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone 
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me) 
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea
e.e. cummings

I hardly ever get to play in challenges these days, but I would like to enter this in the Happy Holidays theme at Stamps and Stencils (the bubbles were made using the large Prima 12x12 bubbles stencil).

Remember to check out the Coaches, Planes and Automobiles at Calico Craft Parts if you're looking for inspiration for some boys' toys (though as a lover of vintage vehicles I hope you'll let me come and play with them too). 

Calico Car Rally

Hello!  It's the first of two posts for today... I'll be back in the morning with my second offering for my Summertime theme this month at Country View Challenges.  But right now I've got a couple of sneak peeks for you (but of course!) to try to tempt you over to the Calico Craft Parts blog where there's a whole quartet of vehicular tags for you to check out.  (I use the word vehicular advisedly... there's more than just cars to be seen.)

You'll barely believe the detail on some of the Craft Parts I've been using, and for the most part I've left them unadorned to speak for themselves. 

But so that you can see what happens when you start playing with them, there's even a bonus ATC!

And if they don't mind travelling to see the whole thing, I'd love to add the ATC to the Things With Wings challenge at Frilly and Funkie.  It's so long since I've managed to play along there, and it's always been one of my favourite challenges.

For those times when you need a masculine card, these Calico Craft Parts will more than hit the spot - though I have to say I'd be more than happy to find them on a card for me too... why should the boys have all the fun?!  I hope you'll have time to hop over and take a look, and I'll wish you all a wonderful week.

Removing the faults in a stage-coach may produce a perfect stage-coach, but it is unlikely to produce the first motor car.
Edward de Bono

Saturday, 1 August 2015

In A Summer Meadow

Hello everyone!  I'm delighted to say that after a sabbatical to give me room to deal with work (for which I'm deeply grateful) I'm back in the swing of things at Country View Challenges.

And it's in at the deep end as I'm your host for the August challenge and my theme for you all is Summertime.  So whatever that word summons up for you, that's what we'd like to see on your projects this month.

My team-mates have created some fabulous inspiration for you, so do hop over and check it out and, as usual, there will be more inspiration coming your way throughout the month over at the Country View Challenges blog.  For now, here's my starter for ten for you.

Yes, I know, it's a card.  They do seem to be putting in more frequent appearances round here... but again, I've somehow got my brain on board by making a very tall, slim card - so it's almost a tag really!

It was made for my closest friend who celebrates a summer birthday, and I took my inspiration from a wonderful day I spent recently with her and her family, wandering through the countryside, and down a lane surrounded by woodland and fields of wild grasses and flowers.

There's a Distress Ink background, and then some stamping with Unity Stamps.

The flowers on the front are mostly stamped in Archival ink, though some are Distress if I remember rightly.

Some are clear embossed.

And the main flowers are stamped in Versamark and embossed with vanilla white embossing powder.

I used the Tim Holtz thinlits word dies to add a thought about the lovely time we had.

On the inside of the card, I've used the feathery grasses again, this time stamped in a combination of Distress Inks.

And the leftover cut-out letters from the kraft card on the front form part of the sentiment for the interior.

I even added some sepia stamping to the envelope (definitely in Archival, as it might get wet going through the post of course).

A simple card reflecting the simple pleasures of a sunny summer's day enjoying nature... I hope you'll hop over and see what my brilliant team-mates have been up to, and we hope you'll come and share your Summertime creations with us at Country View Challenges this month.

Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
Henry James

An' the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
An' the cotton is high
From Summertime, lyrics by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin

And just in case you missed Tag Friday at A Vintage Journey yesterday, you'll find my tag here.  It's been so quiet here lately that I'm not used to posts coming this thick and fast any more.

Thanks so much for stopping by, and I'll see you again before you know it.  Happy Crafting all!

Friday, 31 July 2015

Lost Lives

Hello all, and a very warm welcome to Words and Pictures!

It's Tag Friday at A Vintage Journey today... When there's an extra Friday in the month (which happens more often than I'd've guessed) you get a whole extra array of inspiration from the Creative Guides - all tags and all inspired in one way or another by our guiding light, Tim Holtz.

So do hop over there and check out the goodies on offer, but before you go, here's my offering.

I usually take Tag Friday as an excuse to go back to basics and stick essentially to inks and stamps, but it got just a little bit busier this time because of the story which took over the process.

It has an unexpectedly dark underbelly, so be warned.

I started with a wrinkle-free distress background which was hanging around on the craft table.

I'd been experimenting with some of the new Distress colour releases, and this was a combination of Mermaid Lagoon, Twisted Citron and Hickory Smoke.

As usual, I put so much ink on the mat that I ended up with three tags.

This one was the second one - so had a medium amount of inky distress, which then gained depth with added stamping and ink-blending.  Since those new colours were already in action, that's also what I pretty much stuck to as the tag progressed.

You can see the two I still have waiting to play with... that's for another day.

So what's behind this tag?  Well, it's a combination of things... 

(And from here, feel free to stick to just the pictures if you want, as the words are heading to some dark places.)

I watched the Dispatches documentary Escape from Isis which, while it dealt mainly with the lucky few who are managing to escape across the border from the Daesh territory, couldn't help but leave one sickened and despairing for the thousands upon thousands trapped inside, particularly the women and girls.

They will never get to experience a life which we would call in any way normal - compulsorily veiled so that even their eyes are invisible, and told that their voices must not be heard in public; girls as young as nine sold into marriage at slave markets.  Even should they escape, they will bear the scars - physical and emotional - forever.

I wept and I raged.  I sat wondering what I could possibly do.

And I was blown away by the quiet heroism of the men putting their own lives at risk to give at least some of them a chance of escape.

That all then sort of melded with the conversations I have almost daily with our wonderful 97-year-old neighbour.  Until very recently, she was whizzing along, but now her short-term memory is unreliable, and you tend to go around the same conversational circles.

One of the main loops is around her having no family - largely because of the losses caused by war.  There's the story of her father who died in the Great War, aged 26, never having seen the daughter he'd only read about in a letter.

And then her step-brother (her mother remarried eighteen years later) died in World War II, aged just 18.

Neither of them ever got to discover life.

I suppose they are hovering here in the photo of the young man, as are the men from the documentary who are risking everything to give others a chance to discover life.  But so are all those others - male and female - who will never have the possibility or the freedom to explore life's journey.

The rest of us owe it to them to be fully present and to explore, discover, travel and, I think, also to speak out against injustice and wrongdoing.

If I can do nothing else, I can use my voice to speak, to bear witness, to cry for help for those lost women and girls who cannot be heard themselves.  And I can be mindful that the reason I am free to do that is at least partly thanks to all those lost young men.

If you haven't already run a mile, I do urge you to take a trip over to A Vintage Journey where you'll find lots of Tag Friday joy and inspiration from my fantastic team-mates.

I'll leave you in peace for now, and I'll see you out there soon in Craftyblogland.

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me - and there was nobody left to speak out for me.
Pastor Martin Niemöller

Monday, 27 July 2015

Some light relief...

Hello!  The last post found me in a grey mode and mood, and although I really love the Gently Grey cards which resulted, I thought we could do with a touch of light relief so I'm just here to share, very quickly, another little play I was having with the crazy birds.

In fact, this one started before my Bird Crazy version of Tim's July tag, and I'd already stamped, coloured and used the Micro Glaze on these two before Tim's tag even appeared - so my choice of stamps for that was pretty obvious after all!

Like the ones on my July tag, these are also watercoloured with Distress Stains - splodged onto the craft mat and then applied with a water brush.

And I took a leaf out of Alie Hoogenboezem-de Vries's book (she's been doing wonders with the birds - and here and here - for some time now, and is probably one of the main tempters behind my caving in to them)...

... by adding Glossy Accents to the eyes for an extra goggling look.

I love that the Micro Glaze means you can then blend inks around your main image without affecting it.

As well as straight inking, I added some splotches and blotches with one of the layering stencils...

... and over the top of that I used Tim's great crackle background.

I remember I had some thought about eggs cracking, or some such, but when it came to looking for some words to go on the tag it became evident that my subconscious was way ahead of me!

A little bit of Vintage Photo around the edges, some JOFY grasses for the birds to stand on (as well as some shadows to give them a bit more substance), some twine through the hole, and we're done.

I hope that's put a smile on your face after the grey gloom (though I notice the actual words are probably not that reassuring... see, the truth will out, even in the light relief).

Starting to think I may need a holiday...

I'm interested in people's darker side, the ones that aren't easy and well balanced.  The cracks.
Noomi Rapace

A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.
Bernard Meltzer