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, 28 June 2013

Invisible Bars


Hello all, and welcome to Words and Pictures on another grey, wet, dreary day here in the British Summer.

I'm here with one of those makes which drew its breath from several sources, came to life somewhat grudgingly, and with many coats, re-coats and re-re-coats of paint, and I'm still dissatisfied with it, but in the end it does tell a story I rather like.

The starting point was the literary challenge set by The House of Bears for June - a number of quotes from Jane Eyre, from which we could spring off according to inspiration.  Well, you know by now how much I love starting with the words...

And the pictures for this one come from the lovely images available at Nicecrane Designs, drawn from several different sheets.

And then it got all caught up with the Stripes challenge at Simon Says Stamp and Show.


  

My stripes are the bars of the cage keeping the birds imprisoned, and the bones of the corset, the pleats of the skirts and blouses which, for all her declaration of independence, are keeping the woman imprisoned (and there are some more literal stripes to add to the cage and corsetry: streaks of paint and some corrugated card, naturally).

And that got me to thinking about the bars we take for granted, or sometimes don't even notice - the metaphorical bars which keep us caught in a place or a job or a mindset, and how the first step to escaping those bars is to become aware of them.







They might not feel like bars to us at all; they might seem to be positive things - but in one way or another they are keeping us from being truly free.  No matter how gilded the cage, it's still a cage.  

And yes, you'd be right in thinking there's some stuff going on for me right now!!








So, the tag, then - another extended tag, because I needed space for the words to sit independently of all the other action going on.

I started with a jumbo tag, some texture paste and the Crafter's Workshop Damask mask.  And then I started in with the painty layers... I'm not even going to try to add up how many times I painted and repainted it. 

There is some crackle glaze in there somewhere, and I used a hard bristle brush to get the strong striped texture into the paint, and also some baby wipes to knock it back, also creating distressed streaks.









There were many different versions of the texture highlights too - ink, paint, and there's still some of each of those in places... 

But the main highlighter that you can see by the end is the fabulous White Fire colour of Treasure Gold - applied partly with fingers and partly with a brush for extra textural effect.









The woman is from the Nicecrane sheet: Muse of Poets.  (You may have seen the utterly beautiful tag the amazing Astrid made with the same image recently.)













Once she was printed, I inked with Antique Linen and Vintage Photo Distress Inks, adding some inked creases for an aged look, and some brush strokes of gesso.  

I rather like the effect of the gesso - it gives it a definite sense of age and incipient mildew!









The beautiful delicate birdcage is by Crafty Emblies.  It has also had a touch of gesso and a touch of Treasure Gold - well, if we're talking about gilded cages...

If you saw my krafty birds' nest cards the other day, then you might recognise the little guys inside the cage.










They're from the Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady.  I've used the sketch version, though you can also get the same set pre-coloured (hopefully making an appearance here some time soon).  

This time rather than printed in black onto kraft paper, I've altered the image so that it's sepia and printed it onto white paper.







The third Nicecrane set being used here is the wonderful Vintage Fashion Pages, a brilliant sheet of ephemera - eight different magazine pages with columns of adverts and illustrations...

These were perfect for my purposes - pictures of the constraining corsetry of the period, the rigid pleats of the skirts and blouses, as well as the columns of newsprint giving me yet another version of stripes.









These too have been inked and gesso'd for that aged look, and I'm happy I remembered to grab at least one picture before they got layered into the tag and covered up!









I was very fortunate that with the Crafty Emblies order there arrived a little grab bag of extras.  (This was an order from a while back - I know there have been some problems, and don't know anything about where things are at now.)













I probably wouldn't have chosen a dress form for myself (being a needlework-ophobic), but it makes a perfect echo of the bars of the cage - shaping the bones of a corset to create a "Tapering Waist" - a form of imprisonment of which she's not even fully aware.












The topping for the tag is some inked lace snippets tied together with dyed seam binding for a full-on feminine vintage look...

... but, as I hope has become clear, this is as feminist as it is feminine.  You have to do some reading between the lines (look, more stripes!) for this one.  Don't take the quote at face value.






Speaking of the quote, it's stamped with my little Hero Arts alphabet onto plain white paper which I then inked with Antique Linen, spritzed with water and then edged with Vintage Photo.  

The background is very fine corrugated card which has been painted, inked and gilded to match the tag above.








(Anybody spotted it? shhh... evil corporate empire cupholder, and my only excuse is it's been sitting around here forever!) 

The eyelets have been White Fire'd to take away their overly brassy golden colour, and some more ribbons tie the two sections together.







And I roughened the edges of the tag with the Paper Distresser, partly to get the Vintage Photo DI to take better.  

The surface of the tag is so rubbed and buffed by this point that the inks tend to slide off it a bit. 







Ooh, nearly forgot the paper flowers (from Wild Orchid Crafts - life doesn't allow for handmade flowers at the moment, sorry).  

They have also been altered, of course, to tone in with the overall look of the tag, and then I think we're pretty much there...







There have been some nice short posts lately, but I seem to be back on form with this one!  Thanks so much for seeing it through (if you're still here), and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.


Here's the quote in full, as well as some more food for thought:


I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.
From Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë

Taught from infancy that beauty is woman's sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.
Mary Wollstonecraft

Men are not prisoners of fate, but prisoners of their own minds.
Franklin D. Roosevelt


I'm entering this for the following:
The literary challenge at The House of Bears using Quotes from Jane Eyre
Stripes at Simon Says Stamp and Show
The inaugural Ali-Craft Blog Challenge which is an Open theme


59 comments:

inkypinkycraft said...

Alison this is beautiful, love the shabby chic feel and gorgeous image and soft colours! xx really gorgeous
have a great weekend x hugs x trace x

Ali- craft said...

Gosh! the amount of work you have put into this project, love it all

thanks for sharing it with us on our 1st challenge, hope you will enter lots more

hugs ali
ali-craft

Helen said...

Wow, you've gone all deep and meaningful on us this time! I love this though - you have done an incredible amount of work on this project, and I absolutely love it.

Brenda Brown said...

So much detail and so much meaning, you seem to have incorporated it all from the depth of your heart and it shows. A fabulous tag Alison, a great palette with added texture and everything fits together so beautifully.
Have a great day and a fabulous weekend.
hugs Brenda xxx

House of Bears said...

Wow, two entries, thank you so much. Well, what can we say? We love the way you have taken the quote and told a story with it. Your free thinking lady who has caged herself in her clothes is representative of all our invisible cages, we really love those image and really must check out that website now.

Thank you for joining in with the bears for a second time, we appreciate you taking the time to play long with us.

Lucy Edmondson said...

Beautiful, very different to your usual style, and very thought-provoking,

Lucy x

Jennie Atkinson said...

This is just so gorgeous Alison - I love every bit of it and there are SO many bits. And I loved reading how you made it too and how it is linked to how you are feeling - a piece from the heart. Just love it!! Have a lovely peaceful and relaxing weekend x

clare said...

such an elegant project. x

sam21ski said...

Great project Alison, love the stencil detail using the treasure gold

Sam xxx

craftimamma said...

Absolutely wonderful piece of inspiration Alison. Lots of gorgeous texture and shabby chic effects. I love your interpretation of the quote too.

Hugs
Lesley Xx

Dorthe said...

A beautiful and so lovely tag, the Nice Crane woman is adorable, and the birdcage tells it all, -have to think about H.C.Andersen`s :"The Nightingale" ..... so wonderful with the texture paste and the Treasure Gold ,Alison, -
Yes aren`t we all kind of prisoners, in this world we are living in !!!!
xo,Dorthe

Silvia(Barnie) said...

Alison that's another breathtaking piece of art. Love the shabby chic.

Rita said...

What a gorgeous tag Alison. I love what you have done. Hugs Rita xxx

Amanda said...

So much work and technique has really paid off,gret shabby chic tag
Love
Amanda x

Shelby said...

Love your interpretation and parallels in your creation. The tag turned out beautifully and of course all of the elements are so elegant and gorgeous.

Shelby

Dagmar said...

wow - it´s just so gorgeous!!!! Fantastic artwork!

Sue C said...

I love to read your posts Alison, they are so thought provoking and hit many a true note for me. Your project is stunning as usual and I can not imagine why you're not happy with it ! Sue C x

Paper Profusion said...

Very beautiful creation Alison - stunning texturing and fantastic meeting of themes of the intended challenges. Gorgeously feminine and feminist. I do hope that you are ok through this very demanding period - stay well and focus on respite in a few weeks. Have a good weekend, Nicola x

Meggymay said...

Awesome details, its a stunning project.
Yvonne

Astrid Maclean said...

Stunning tag Alison, so many details to admire and I love how you have managed to use so many of Nicecranes images and make them work together! Very thought provoking (of course :))Absolutely love how you have coloured the bird, it looks so realistic, I thought for a moment you had used the coloured version.

Hang in there and enjoy the weekend!!
PS thanks for the link to my tag, she is so beautiful this lady isn't she....

Krisha said...

Breath taking Alison!!

Alie Hoogenboezem-de Vries said...

Great the tag in 2 parts Alison, and you managed to show so many fitting details...lovely!

have a nice weekend, Alie :-)

Buttons said...

Love the various stripes on this and the incredibly creative way you've used those Nicecrane Designs images. Your posts always stretch both sides of the brain too! Another fantastic tag Alison. Hugs, Jenny x

pearshapedcrafting said...

My goodness Alison! You're making me think and it's late on Friday night Ooer!!! A fabulous tag! ( I still haven't caught up with NIcecrane, but think I should every time their images appear in your posts!) I just can't see what you don't like about it! Have a great weekend, Chrisx

Candy C said...

Alison...this is gorgeous. Such a lovely, vintage style tag. I love the soft brown and beige tones on this. The little wooden embellishments blend is so perfectly yet add such interest to your tag. your added sentiment at the bottom is also fitting for this tag. Love it! Thanks for sharing it with us at Simon Says Stamp and Show. <3 Candy

barbarayaya62 said...

Alison it's wonderful! I really like the vintage look of the tag, the texture and the way you work with these colors so soft! BArbarayaya

Yvonne Garner said...

Alison, You are indeed a woman of wisdom! A breathtakingly, beautiful piece. Bravo! Have a great weekend!

chrissies said...

This is stunning Alison with a wonderful background and great use of the images.

Have a lovely weekend

Chrissie x

Debi said...

Brilliant tag, so pretty - I especially love the sentiment ;-) That's why my blogs named what it's named <3 Debi x

Annie said...

Such a beautiful tag Alison and I loved the thought that went in to it. The colours are beautiful and the images you have used are perfect for this vintage piece.

Have a great weekend

Annie x

coco said...

This is a really a wonderful and delicate tag ...!!! I love your background with treasure Gold and all the details. Have a good week-end, Coco x

Chris Warner said...

Oh my! Delicate, subtle, and so pretty. Great composition. Chris xxx

Debbie said...

Gorgeous and beautiful details Alison. So delicate and your techniques are amazing! A tag filled with love and so much to take in!

Wishes
Debbie x
^..^

May said...

Gorgeous work Alison, Love the shabby vintage feel, Beautiful images & wonderful detail... Love the soft colours.... Hugs May x x x

cathylynn said...

Phenomenal in every way! I enjoyed reading how you put this all together. You are so creative and I love this!!!
Hugs, Cathy-Lynn

maria's knutselplezier said...

WooW, Alison , this is gorgious I love every detail of this super beautifull tag !!! I really love the words , the colors and the images who perfectly fit together!!!You are the Star of beautifull tags!!! Great work of ART!!

Greetings
Maria

maria's knutselplezier said...

WooW, Alison , this is gorgious I love every detail of this super beautifull tag !!! I really love the words , the colors and the images who perfectly fit together!!!You are the Star of beautifull tags!!! Great work of ART!!

Greetings
Maria

Netty said...

Terrific interpretation of the words Alison and of course I adore your gorgeous tag. Enjoy the weekend, hugs Annette x

Linda Coughlin, the funkie junkie said...

OMG, how utterly fabulous is this? I absolutely adore everything about it! I am especially drooling over the damask texture and the White Fire treasure gold. Such a poignant theme too! Brilliant make, Alison!

Hugs,
Linda

Marci said...

Beautiful !

Tincan Crafter said...

Alison - not only is this just exquisite to look at but the sentiment is super empowering. I teach a short section in Feminism and the woman's right to empowerment - I am always looking for interesting things to add to my classes. I love this quote and the whole thing. I also facilitate a craft club at the Uni that I teach at - I try and coordinate the craft to the curriculum as much as I can - this quote and your tag would be such a beautiful inspiration to my students. I love that it is made out of recycled materials too - our craft club sometimes has no choice but to salvage what we can. May I please borrow your quote and show your tag to my students? If you prefer not please dont feel bad to say so.

Anita Houston said...

Gorgeous Alison! Just gorgeous! Love the sentiment on the repurposed corrugated striped kraft! Just perfect! The image is just striking as well! Beautiful eye candy here!Thanks for showing us your stripes this week here at Simon Says Stamp & Show!

Hettie said...

This is fabulous Alison. Very deep and meaningful and quite apt for me. Wow!
Hugs
xx

Maria said...

There is so much thought gone into this. The background and image, and all your embellishments, are beautiful, and I love your use of words. It's a wonderful creation, and definitely thought-provoking.

Maria xx

Sandy said...

So wonderful Alison - as usual, gorgeous work. You creation really starts one to thinking - I mean really thinking!!
sandy

Suzanne C said...

Gorgeous! The neutral tones speak to me and that texture with the damask is beautiful. The stripes in teh bird cage drew my eye and the subtle stripes along the bottom added more visual interest. Happy that you joined us again this week at Simon Says Stamp and Show!

Meihsia Liu said...

Wow... Such a gorgeous creation, Alison. Love all the beautiful details and great color scheme. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

Talis Bastelballon said...

Woooow,beautihul!

LG Petra

Chris / CS Designs said...

Absolutely beautiful pieces Alison. Love all the gorgeous detail.
:) Chris / CS Designs

Dianne said...

Hello Butterfly,no one moves me like you do...
You are back in TOP form,I had to have my google page up to google some of the words you used,I'm always learning so much from you ^-^. When I googled needlework-ophobic guess what , your post came up:) your post not only gives us such gorgeous artwork to enjoy, then you blow us away with your descriptions of the process it becomes a literary visual. Your literary challenge was made into perfection, Thank you so much for sharing everything, I'm well satisfied now and can go back to my desk, I was taking a break having a cuppa for my visit, it been a pleasure. Hope you have a pleasurable day

Anjas-Artefaktotum said...

WOW what an magical art work. Your tag with all details and the vintage shabby look is really breathtaking!
Hugs Anja

Anna-Karin said...

Such a beautiful tag Alison! Love the background with the wonderful texture. Lovely details, images and sentiment. Thank you for sharing another gorgeous project with us at Simon Says Stamp and Show!

Ephemera said...

Another exquisite tag, just love this gorgeous shabby chic creation, so delicate and romantic. xx

Bonnie Irvine said...

I, too, love the story this tag tells. The images are wonderful and I really like the repetition yet variation on the striped theme or the bars, if you will. beautiful composition and texture. It's worth every layer because they all combine to create a lovely make.

hazel said...

This is a gorgeous tag Alison.
xxx Hazel.

Nan G said...

Fab tag! Ooh, nice play against the quote, Alison. (Hope that sounds right? A bit fuzzy today.)

Margaret said...

Fabulous tag! The irony of the quote paired with the fashion images is terrific and I love the corrugated piece at the bottom.
Hope all is well with you!

Marjie Kemper said...

Its a stunning tag, Alison. Love the wood and flowers, and especially how you separated the sentiment and added even more texture beneath it.

Kezzy said...

Wow gorgeous vintage hanging, I so need to buy the vintage fashion sheet its utterly gorgeous. I love the lady you chose and the way the birds locked in the cage, such beautiful work. I also like the lighter vintage colours, stunning. Happy Crafting :-) Kezzy xxx