I'm sharing a sort of gift package with you today, small but beautiful I think... and I hope you'll agree. It turned out to be a bedside set for a young girl (purely imaginary), who needs somewhere to keep her letters and memorabilia, and to record her ideas and impressions of the world, safe from curious eyes.
The main part of the project is really the altered mini chest of drawers. It's only about 6cm tall and 10cm wide, so it's very cute, but it made some of the edges a bit fiddly! Then there's a 'pillow book' (read on for more on that), kept under lock and key, some parchment scrolls of notepaper, and some oriental charms.
In altering the mini chest, I was inspired by one of the fabulous Trish Latimer's techniques. She created an amazing collaged piece (the sneak peek is here, and so worth following up), and although I followed the first few stages, you'll see that things went in quite a different direction in the end for me...
WOYWW-ers may recognise the drawers - they were on my W last W. I just about managed to grab a "before" picture, though I'd already started collaging before I remembered...
I used papers from the Prima Almanac 6x6 pad, and had great fun tearing and gluing them all over the outside of the chest. Tricky folding them around the mouth of the drawers, but "if at first you don't succeed..."
Once the outside was fully covered, I gave the whole thing a wash of white acrylic (white paint very diluted with water) which is what gives it that lovely muted, whitewash (well - there's an accurate word!) effect.
Then it sort of sat there for a while, while I wondered what to do next. I already loved how it looked, and you reach a point where there's a risk of wrecking something you like by doing something rash to it... so I decided to wait until inspiration struck.
One of my favourite blogs is Florence and Freddie, and whilst catching up on blog visiting (sorry, everyone, for my poor track record at the moment - juggling too many things), I saw Florence's DT piece for an Oriental Influences challenge at Out of a Hat Creations.
It's a beautiful piece - a little chest of drawers, as it happens, though hers is wooden - but I'm not much of a one for Orientalism, so I didn't plan on entering the challenge at all.
But as I sat looking at the box, it started to creep up on me. What I do really love is Oriental calligraphy, and also cherry blossom... and those seemed to be what the box was looking for.
I've a spray of something like cherry blossom in a set of Tattered Angels texture stamps, and the calligraphy is taken from round the edge of what's really a wood-mounted Poppy stamp (an early crafty buy on ebay, that I'd started to think of as a mistake). I just took care not to ink up the poppy!
The drawers themselves had to have slightly different treatment... it was already becoming a snug fit, and if I'd added any more bulk with papers then I think it would have made it impossible to get them in and out.
So I had to do a paint job. I started with some mushroomy acrylic, then added the sprays of blossom, whitewashed, and then stamped the script.
I love both that it's got a real look of weathered wood or bamboo, and that it tones in so well with the papers around it. Yup - pleased with myself on that as it really happened without any real planning... just following my fingers!!
While I was crafting, my mind was wandering around, and I remembered another facet of Japanese culture that always fascinated me - the Pillow Book.
Essentially, a pillow book is a book you keep by your bed to jot down thoughts, ideas, memories, quotation, poetry or anything else which might occur to you. Not as pressurizing as keeping a diary on a daily basis!
The most well-known is probably the pillow book of Sei Shonagon who was a court lady to an Empress in 11th century Japan. You may also remember the Peter Greenaway film The Pillow Book - a beautiful work, sadly now mostly known for Ewan McGregor's nude scenes!
And I've got a Pillow Book by Eleanor Bron, writer, actor, comedian, which she wrote rather than an autobiography, and which I've always loved as a record of a performer's life.
That's when the idea of this young girl, in a crowded household, with no real space to call her own, began to take hold... and I wanted to make her something of her very own... somewhere to keep letters and trinkets, and a pillow book so that she has somewhere to record her private thoughts, safe under lock and key.
The notebook was just a 10x10cm kraft notebook, that I got for about 30p in the Range, on sale. I bought more than one, as you can see!
As well as whitewashing and stamping the covers, I aged the edges of the pages, to give it a lovely vintage glow.
The gorgeous pale blue seam binding is from Vintage Page Designs, and the lock and key are BoBunny trinkets, which I've doctored with some black alcohol ink, and then sanded, so that they would tone in better with the Oriental charms and the rest of the look of the piece.
Finally I created some notepaper (blank in this gift set for use, but in my head they are notes from a secret admirer - tucked in the drawer for safekeeping!)
I used some airmail 'Onion' finish, which is basically a gorgeously textured, very thin parchment, torn into small squares, about 8x8cm.
I added some script down the sides, edged with Vintage Photo and rolled the sheets into scrolls tied with raffia.
So there you have it... from thinking I wasn't remotely interested in playing along with an Oriental challenge, to a project I got completely wrapped up in. Part of me wants to go and find the girl I've imagined and give her this (okay... leaving the realms of acceptable now), but perhaps I'll have to settle for making this for sale to other journalling girls.
Can't do the drawers, but could do stationery sets along the lines of this one I made, as I've got many, many boxes, and add the Pillow Books as an extra... how's that as a sales line? I know many people love Oriental themes, and I'm quite won over myself now, to be honest...
Love to hear what you think - is it a possible sales piece? - if you've made it this far, of course! Thank you so much for bearing with me and my romantic Oriental imaginings. Hope you have some private time and space for pursuing your secret pleasures soon!!
I'm entering this for the following:
Out of a Hat Creations and their Oriental Influences challenge
The theme over at the Fashionable Stamping Challenge is Good Things Come in Small Packages - and this really is all very bijou...
Finding a large number of tales that one has not read before. Or acquiring the second volume of a tale whose first volume one has enjoyed. But often it is a disappointment.
Surprising and Distressing Things:
While one is cleaning a decorative comb, something catches in the teeth and the comb breaks.
A child or grown-up blurts out something that is bound to make people uncomfortable.
All night long one has been waiting for a man who one thought was sure to arrive. At dawn, just when one has forgotten about him for a moment and dozed off, a crow caws loudly. One wakes up with a start and sees that it is daytime -- most astonishing.
A son-in-law who's praised by his wife's father. Likewise, a wife who's loved by her mother-in-law.
A pair of silver tweezers that can actually pull out hairs properly.
Copying out a tale or a volume of poems without smearing any ink on the book you're copying from. If you're copying it from some beautiful bound book, you try to take immense care, but somehow you always manage to get ink on it.
Two women, let alone a man and a woman, who vow themselves to each other forever, and actually manage to remain on good terms to the end.
All from the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, completed in the year 1002