Wednesday, 4 July 2018

WOYWW #474: Playing with air-drying clay (again)

WOYWW is upon us once again, so it's time to share our crafty desks. I walked into my art room yesterday morning to be greeted with this scene: Oreo had taken a shine to my scrap box and took up residence in it.

As you can see the evidence on my desk, I've been playing with air-drying clay and made some tiles and embellishments by pressing stamps and metal filigrees into wet clay. These are a bit wonky - air-drying clay will always have a more organic and rustic feel to it than polymer clay and that's part of its appeal to me (plus the fact that it's much cheaper!).

I've also experimented with moulding air-drying clay. Here's a medallion I made using one of my home-made moulds.

I made the mould using silicone putty and a large metal charm years ago. You can find the original post here. It was meant to be used as a stamp, but it works just as well as a mould. I always think some of these charms are too good to use in a single project and never again and this way you can reproduce the design as many times as you want.

Another advantage of air-drying clay is that you can mould it to curved surfaces and just let them dry, which you can't do with polymer clay. Using a bit of gel medium, it will permanently bond to the surface as well. Here's an altered jar I made earlier in the week using air-drying clay in commercially available moulds. (It's an empty marmite jar, in case you're wondering!) 

Here's another picture of Oreo, lazing around trying to stay cool in this heat. There was a nice breeze coming through the window and he made sure that every inch of his tummy was exposed to it.

I forgot to tell you last week that I'm starting a new job on Monday working in a small office 15 hrs per week. This means I can still keep up with my blog, so I'm very happy! I was hoping the weather would turn cooler by then, but it's predicted to heat up even more over the weekend - oh, well, the heatwave won't last forever and we'll think back on it with fondness come January. 

Happy Independence Day to my US visitors! My blogiversary was just two days ago - that's how I always remember! 

And happy #474 to everyone visiting through the Stamping Ground. xx

Monday, 2 July 2018

Happy 4th Blogiversary!

It's July 2nd today - I started writing this blog exactly 4 years ago with this post. I had only just discovered mixed-media (and the joy of aquiring every art supply under the sun) and I was eager to share my new-found passion with the world. Never in a million years did I expect that my blog would still be going strong after four years!

I missed my first blogiversary (aka blogaversary), but I commemorated my second and third by showcasing my favourite projects, so I thought I'd do the same this year. With 53 blog posts over the course of the past 12 months (which translates to an average of one post per week) I haven't exactly been prolific, but I still feel it was an active and creative year. I let inspiration take me in different directions exploring new techniques and mediums and I allowed my journalling to evolve of its own accord rather than just following tutorials.

I actually found it hard to select only a few favourites, so I have a rather sizable grid to share today, including most of my projects and journal pages over the previous 12-month period. Each and every one of these projects brings back memories of the joy and excitement I felt while I was working on them, which is exactly why they are my favourites. You can easily find links to all these projects through my archives going from July 2017 to June 2018.

Thank you for following me on this wonderful art journey. 
I hope to share lots more in the next 12 months until my next blogiversary!

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

WOYWW #473: Peeled paint gelli prints and some tags

Hello again for another round of WOYWW.  Come join the fun over on the Stamping Ground where we snoop around our fellow crafters' messy desks. Here's mine as it was over the weekend:

Those of you who have seen the latest video by Birgit Koopsen for Gelli Arts will recognize this as my attempt at producing a peeled paint effect by using sellotape on the gelli plate. I had lots of fun playing with this technique and managed to get some good results, though not all the prints came out as well as I had hoped. Here are some of the best ones and some close-up to show the textures better:

The tapes coated with paint are the by-product of this technique and I used them on these colourful tags, which I then further embellished with old postage stamps, die-cuts, an ink stained doily, ribbon and book text. 

I received some happy mail last week from Annie, who'd sent me all these beautiful ephemera and napkins. Those playing cards are from a Hungarian deck of cards that I remember so well from my childhood as well as the book pages from Hungarian children's books. Thanks Annie for bringing back a glimpse of my childhood!

I'm also very excited about my avocado sprouting - this is the first time I've managed to achieve this. You can see the roots beginning to grow and the stem will soon split the stone and emerge on top. I'll have to wait until the roots are more established before transplanting it into a pot. I'll keep you posted about the developments! 

I've also got a pot of dahlias for the front garden from B&Q when we went to pick up some compost. It was love at first sight - literally - I glanced at it, I picked it up and I couldn't put it down. It's got at least a dozen buds on it - I might keep it in the house for now to admire it and maybe try to save it over the winter for next year. 

Well, my plant babies took over Oreo's place this week. He's been enjoying the warm weather outside and I completely forgot to take photos of him, but he'll be back next week, no doubt! Happy #473! 

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

WOYWW #472: Books, Beads and a Bracelet

I'm here today for another round of WOYWW on Julia's Stamping Ground - #472 to be exact! I haven't spent much time in my caft room this week but I have done a bit of digital housekeeping around my blog. I've tidied up my Pinterest board as it was very neglected. They've introduced some changes since I last visited and now it's possible to organize your boards into sub-categories, which is quite a good idea. I've also added a snazzy little Pinterest widget on my sidebar. It's all part of gearing up for my 4th blogiversary in a couple of weeks' time!

I took a photo of my desk this morning, although I had to rearrange some stuff for a better view so it might look "slightly" staged.

Remember that plain gessoed journal cover from last week, waiting for inspiration? Well, inspiration struck on Friday and I was able to finish it in one sitting. You can see it in the middle of my desk - for a better view, you can visit my previous post here. Next to that is a journal background that I'm stuck on - I might just leave it the way it is. Why not just create backgrounds if that makes us happy, right? You can also see some beads I bought for making danglies for journals. On a whim I made a bracelet, even though I never wear jewellery. Perhaps now I will! Also on my desk are two books that had been sitting on my Amazon wishlist forever. I finally took the plunge and bought them and my bookcase is now completely full. They're both so beautiful and inspirational. 

Of course, it was Fathers' Day on Sunday (or Father's Day, depending on which side of the argument you stand on!)  I made a quick digital card for hubby (from our son) with an image "borrowed" from the internet. I think it's originally a fabric print and just what I was looking for. I know it's a cop-out but I'm not very good at making special occasions cards. He was more interested in the chocolate, anyway!

I have no new Oreo photos today, but I played around with some of his old photos and created this collage in Canva, which is an online basic graphic design app. It's free to use with your own photos. It was recommended by Roben-Marie Smith on her blog, along with other tools for a creative business. It's super easy to use for simple graphic design tasks. 

Thanks for popping in!  I will be visiting later today! 
Happy #472!

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Journal cover (with the Eileen Hull Scoreboards die)

I had just convinced myself that I didn't really need the Eileen Hull Journal Scoreboards die, when I spotted in on offer at That's Crafty and snapped it up without even thinking about it. The offer was pretty irresistible at more than a third of the price off. Sadly, I think it's now back to its original price.

I managed to cut the die without the extended plates, but it was a bit tricky. I had to shift the plates down a bit for a second run and it was a tiny bit out of sync with the first cut, but it's hardly noticeable. I'll have to buy some new plates at some point, anyway, so I'll just get the longer ones. Theoretically, you could cut a similar cover by hand from thinner materials, but I've never been good at measuring and cutting straight lines and I wouldn't be able to cut thick card or chipboard quite as neatly with scissors.

I cut my cover from recycled mailing envelopes, stuck the two parts together, gessoed it and then added my embellishment pieces. The original design looked a bit different - I had to rip off the flowers as I couldn't cover them with paint properly. This is what it looked like originally.

When I removed the flowers, it looked like it might be a gonner, but I was able to cover up the rips with some metal elements, so you don't see the mess underneath! I added an additional layer of black gesso and then painted everything with a mixture of Greenish Blue (557) acrylics from Amsterdam (I love that colour!) and Irridescent Green Yellow (359) from Pebeo. These two colours work wonderfully together! I found some polymer clay tiles in my stash from an earlier project which fitted perfectly within the frame - with a little help from some spacer beads. I also stuck a small gem stone in the middle of  each metal shape for a little oomph. I accented the edges and the raised parts of the texture with some Bronze gilding wax. And that's all there is to it! Here's the redesigned version of the cover rescued from the bin:

I threaded the journal following Eileen's instructions online with an elastic string to hold the inserts - there's more than one way of doing this. I cut some tea dyed sheets of paper to fit the journal and prepared three separate signatures, which simply slot into the cover, like so:

I made a little dangly thing through the spine with metal beads and some paper beads from years ago  - I finally got to use them! This is what the completed journal looks like from various angles (the colours look different depending how the light catches them):

Thanks for joining me today for this show&tell/tutorial. 
Wishing everyone a happy weekend! 

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

WOYWW #471: Furniture makeover, postage stamps and some accidental tags

For once, Wednesday seems to have come around much less quickly than usual - unless I missed last week's WOYWW?  No, I didn't! It's just that I've been busy with different types of projects and time seems to go slower when you immerse yourself in a variety of activities.

I couldn't put off tidying my work space any longer, so the desk shot I'm sharing today had to be staged as otherwise there would be nothing of interest on it. Let me walk you through the items quickly:

Two of the projects on my desk have already been posted on my blog. You can find the Passport Journal here and the Tea Bag Collage here - just in case you're interested to see more.

I've also started on a new journal cover, but I didn't get far. I'm waiting for inspiration to strike before proceeding. The piece of cardboard I use as "underpaper" has got a few more layers of paint on it - it will be interesting to see how it shapes up later. The "scrap box" on the right has ended up with most of the junk I cleared off my desk, so it's now pretty full with bits and pieces that will be used in various future projects.

The "accidental" tags are actually the results of my clean up operation - I did not intend to make them. I set out to tidy up my desk and I ended up making these tags from the scrap pieces lying around. I couldn't help it - inspiration just took over! They're not even on proper card, just flimsy computer paper with some random paint marks cut into tags and decorated with whatever scraps I could find on my desk. I don't let anything go to waste! Here's a closer look at them:

You might be wondering about those postage stamps too - I bought a pack of 1000 on Ebay for £5.99. There are some very interesting old stamps in there - they might even be worth something. I plan to use them in my art, but now I'm thinking I'd better research the unusual ones to make sure I don't destroy something valuable. I had lots of fun sorting through the pile - they're from all over the world, many of them from the 50s/60s/70s and some of them dating back to WW2 and even earlier. A couple of them could be as old as 1890s if my preliminary research is correct. I can see a new obsession developing! I kept thinking about all the stories contained in the letters that once carried these stamps - or was it the stamps carrying the letters?

And if that's not enough, look what I did on Saturday! I had this ugly, depressing, dark brown little table sitting in my craft room that I turned into something happy and bright! I used antique white chalk paint as the first layer, followed by turquoise blue acrylics and sanded it down to distress it - although the haphazard way I painted it already gave it a pretty distressed look! Here are the before and after shots:

And here it is in-situ, re-installed in my craft room within an hour of painting it. It makes me happy just looking at it. The cup sitting on it says "Enjoy the little things" which could be my motto these days! 

There's only one more thing to share - yes, you guessed right - the shenanigans of Oreo! He gets into every nook and cranny - here he is sitting on top of my scrapbooking paper collection. It's usually piled all the way up, but I had to get some out and he took his chance to squeeze in on top. It doesn't look very comfortable! Are you not feeling claustrophobic in there? 

Thanks so much for your visit. I hope I didn't take up too much of your time!
I appreciate every visit and comment. 
Happy #471!