Sunday, 14 February 2016

Art Journal Page–Dare to be Different Part 1

This project is being worked in conjunction with the Valentine card I made for my hubby, using similar materials and techniques. Please see the previous post for details.

Another page for my small leather art journal. Working with the Stampotique Originals Kitty Squad stamp set for my hubby’s Valentine card, I decided it was too good an opportunity to miss, so I decided to do an art journal page while I was at it. This is a technique I intended to try last year, and I’ve given a lot of thought to it, and could imagine how all the coloured kitties would look on a rainbow background.

This is how it looks so far, and below is a description of how I reached this point.

21 Zentangle Kitties on Page

I began, as before, by arranging the stamped kitty masks on the page and drawing round them lightly in pencil.

01 Drawing Around Masks

I then stamped the kitties over the outlines, using my stamp positioner to stamp in the right place. You will see that there are four on the fold of the book, which was rather difficult to do, and there were gaps in the stamping which I filled in with a permanent black drawing pen.

02 Stamped Kitties

Then I arranged the kitty masks in order, and began to glue the backs, using my Zig two-way glue, which makes a permanent bond if you use it straight away, but if you leave the glue to dry before sticking the piece down, it is removable, like Post-it note glue.

03 Glueing the Masks

Here are the masks all stuck down onto the page. You can see that the centre ones aren’t sticking too well, because of the fold of the book.

04 The Masks on the Page

Rather than using Dylusions spray inks as I did for the Valentine card, this time I decided to use Dylusions paints, which are acrylics. The colours are wonderfully intense, and their appication was easier to control; in addition, this did not make the page so wet. The next photo shows the beginning of the painting, using Postbox Red. I found it best to stipple the paint on so that it would not go under the masks, or move them out of place.

05 Beginning to Paint the Page

The painting complete.

16 Painting Completed

I was then able to remove the masks, and because the page wasn’t so wet, they came off without disintegrating.

17 Masks Removed

The page with the masks removed, in more detail.

18 Detail of Masks Removed

Now the fun began! Time to replace the masks in a different order. I tried to arrange them so that no two colours were next to each other but this wasn’t always possible. I wanted to make as much contrast as possible between each mask and the background. Once I was satisfied with the arrangement, I stuck them back down onto the page with soft matt gel medium.

19 Masks Stuck to Page

Here’s a detail shot. I quite like how the detail of the stamp is somewhat obscured byu the paint; I had thought of going over them, but in the end, I thought they were more subtle as they were, especially as this was the background of the page.

20 Detail of Masks on Page

I drew a feisty Zentangle cat, who looks more than ready to dare to be different, and added a touch of colour using Inktense pencils.

Zentangle Cat - Dare to be Different

In order to draw the Zentangle patterns, I had to make the cat large enough, and it was too big for the page, so I scanned it and printed out several different sizes and cut them out.  To give them a bit more definition against the background of the page, I stuck them onto a piece of white card and cut them out again, leaving a narrow white border. As I was trying them on the page and arranging them experimentally here and there, I decided to use two – one smaller and one larger, layered. I stuck them down with regular matt gel medium, and had a bit of a job getting them to stick properly, as they were quite thick. If they start to lift, I’ll stick them back with Pinflair gel glue which more or less fixes anything!

This is how the page looks so far. There will be some text on the right hand page saying “Dare to be Different,” probably in black and white, and I will paint a black and white border to tie the whole design together.

21 Zentangle Kitties on Page

Over the next few days I hope to do some more work on this page, but I have one or two other projects demanding my immediate attention, during the course of which I shall be reviving my Card Factory.

I love the Kitty Squad stamps – they are quirky and fun.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Valentine Card–Kitty Squad

This project was worked in conjunction with an art journal page on a similar theme. Please see the next post for details.

14 Finished Card

Towards the end of 2014 I bought the Stampotique Originals stamp “Kitty Squad” but t was not until June 2015 that I g0t around to using them, because of everything that was going on with my health. I got as far as stamping the kitties out numerous times, and then cutting them out.

03 Kitty Squad Cut-Outs on Background

See this blog post for details. I had intended to make my hubby a Valentine card using these kitties last year, and the idea I had brewing never came to fruition, but it never went away, so I decided to make the card for him this year instead.

The stamp with the cut-out kitties.

01 Stamp and Masks

The first thing to do was to cut the stamp into four separate kitties.

02 Stamps Separated

The cut out stamped kitties were used as masks. I began by laying them a piece of watercolour paper and drawing around them lightly with a pencil to indicate their position. (I have a large quantity of scrap watercolour paper that I rescued from my hubby’s rubbish bin – he had only painted on one side and these were his “rejects”! – as you know, I never throw stuff away if it can be used!)

03 Drawing Round the Masks

Using my stamp positioner, I stamped each kitty into the pencilled outline until they filled the page.

04 Stamping the Kitties

I then applied Zig Two-Way Glue to the backs of the masks. This glue is brilliant. If you stick things down with it while it is still wet, the bond is permanent, but if you leave the glue to dry, it is temporary and repositionable, like the glue on Post-It Notes. This is what I did with the masks.

05 Masks Laid on Stamped Kitties

06 Glueing the Masks

Once they were all down, I prepared to spray the piece with Dylusions spray inks. I masked off the surrounding area with newspaper because these spray inks make such a mess!

07 Preparing to Spray

I spritzed the piece with water first, and then sprayed it from top to bottom with rainbow colours.

08 Sprayed Kitties

It was really hard to get an accurate result with the sprays, so I removed the top from each spray bottle in turn and applied more ink with a brush, diluting it down with a little water, until I got the result I wanted. This is actually a much more controlled way of using these inks, and while it is often best to use them as intended, as a spray, there are times when painting them on may suit one’s needs better.

10 Painted Kitties

Now it was time to remove the masks. I had hoped to save these to use again, but the whole thing had got very wet, and they disintegrated when I removed them. There was also a certain amount of ink bleed around the edges of the masks.

11 Masks Removed

My original plan was to replace the masks permanently, but in a different place from the original, so that the different coloured kitties would show up agains the background, so instead, I coloured each white kitty image with Derwent Inktense pencils and blended them with a wet brush. The ink bleed created a bit of a shadow around each one, so in the end I was quite happy with it.

12 Kitties Coloured

This is the result.

13 Detail of Coloured Kitties

I drew a doodled cat onto white card and added a few touches of colour with Inktense pencils. I cut it out, and applied it to the card with regular matt gel medium. I also made the text pieces from scrap card, hand-written with a permanent black drawing pen and coloured slightly with Inktense pencils which I blended with a wet brush. These were also applied with regular matt gel medium.

Here is the completed card.

14 Finished Card

The piece was mounted on a sheet of red A4 card folded in half, and matted with a piece of marbled yellow paper from my stash

I made an insert from a sheet of A5 card trimmed by 1/4 inch all round. It looked a bit stark, so I inked the edges with distress inks.

15 Inking the Card Insert

To give a softer effect with the Fossilised Amber, I used an Inkylicious Ink Duster, and then I used a home-made ink blender for the Abandoned Coral on the edges.

To complete the card insert, I took one of the Kitty Squad masks I made, and painted it with Inktense pencils, and stuck it down with regular matt gel medium. I drew the lines for the heart “balloons” with a permanent black drawing pen, and then stuck down the red sequin hearts with Pinflair gel glue. The text was written by hand, using a sanguine drawing pen, adding the shadow with a dark sepia pen.

16 Making the Card Insert

Here is the completed card insert.

17 Completed Card Inside

Well, I finished it in the nick of time! This was a project that should have been made last year, and at last it is done. I don’t think I’ve ever had a project so long in embryo! I hope my hubby likes it.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016


I know we always say this, but I can’t believe another week has gone by – it has gone so quickly! I am delighted to report that Mr. Mojo and Mrs. Muse are well and truly back, and I am enjoying their presence immensely, and have forgiven them completely for bunking off as they did.

Here is my desk as it was late Tuesday night after I dumped everything on it – I’d been doing some painting downstairs.

WOYWW 349 10-2-16

A quick tour. On the far left you can see a demolished decorative carrier bag that my hubby had receive a gift in – it is made from gorgeous black and gold paper in a geometric design with black side panels and some very nice black gros-grain ribbon handles, all of which I shall be able to use in projects. Next, my regular matt gel medium. In front of my paint brush tin, the two boxes with my drawing pens (Turkish Delight) and coloured pencils (cigars). Just peeping out, to the right of the boxes, is one of my Fun Cats that I was working on last night, with the original drawing on top – scroll down to the previous post for details about this.

Just above the cats are some new Perfect Pearls. I shall be doing a blog post about these and my other new stash in a few days. White acrylic paint to the right of these, and some general detritus from the art journal project – teabags, scraps of paper etc. For once, a clean jar of paint water lol!

Sitting on top of that is my completed art journal page on a tea theme – again, scroll down to the post before the cat one to see details.

To the left of the art journal is a pile of new stash – I am grateful to our own WOYWW-er Diana Taylor for her info on the sisal fibre that’s at the bottom, and the pink pack next in the pile which contains a lovely flower stamp set she recommended. On the top are a couple of clear stamp sets that I got on Ebay this week – the lower one is smaller than I expected, but will still be useful.

Talking of new stash, I have succumbed completely to a totally irresistable temptation to buy some absolutely gorgeous new flower stamps – they are on their way! (There goes my Christmas money…) Details to follow later.

I’ve had an incredibly busy week, including dealing with various things that have gone wrong in the house, and several outings. This week seems to be a bit quieter which is good because I’ve been able to have a rest! Next week I’ve got the dreaded dentist, and going back to the chemo unit to have my port flushed, before which I am hoping to do some more baking for the chemo-ites.

I have joined a church craft group called KnitterNatter (you can imagine which activity occupies the lion’s share of the evening!!) which meets fortnightly on a Thursday evening. Next meeting is tomorrow. I have decided to be good and devote the time to working on various UFOs I have. They all take up far too much room in the studio and it’s high time I got to work on them. More details later.

Happy WOYWW everybody, and have a great week full of inspiration and productivity.

Fun Cats

Last night I drew some funky cats and scanned them into the computer. I printed out several copies on card so that I could colour them in different ways.

Fun Cats Greyscale

The first one I have coloured using Inktense pencils – lovely to use as they are thick and slightly waxy to use, and then you can blend the colours with a wet brush. They become set once dry, so you can add more and wet them without reactivating the previous ones.

02 Fun Cats Inktense 9-2-16

I am planning on colouring the other ones using acrylics, Sharpies, coloured pencils or watercolours, and perhaps some Perfect Pearls, as the fancy takes me, and maybe adding some Zentangle and doodles. Lots of scope!

Last year I began a project using my then new Kitty Squad stamp, but never completed it because of everything else that was going on last year – I had hoped to make a Valentine card for my hubby but never managed it because I was under a lot of stress at the time in the run-up to when my operation should have taken place. I still have the bits I made for that project, and I am hoping to do it for him this year instead. Having practised drawing the funky cats, I will be incorporating one into his card, and using the Kitty Squad stamp as a background. Watch this space.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Cup that Cheers–Finished Project

I have now finished my journal page on the theme of tea.

42 Finished Page

This is the previous photo I took, after applying the painted teabags to the page:

40 Teabags Applied to Page

Having the chance to think about it a bit, I thought it needed a few finishing touches, such as darkening the edges of the pages, and adding a bit of shadow here and there to emphasise the elements against the background.

I used my Inktense pencils to add some shadow around the teabags, and a little around the tea cup. I also felt that the text pieces were too bright, so I added a bit more colour with the Inktense pencils, and then darkened them down a bit with a dark grey one.

I went around the border with my sepia pen, adding some small circles and ovals, and then went over them with an Inktense pencil in a dark redding-brown colour, blending it out with water.

41 Finishing Touches

I think these touches bring the design together and give it a bit more coherence. Here is the finished result.

42 Finished Page

To recap, this project uses teabags and real tea, applied onto a background painted with acrylics. I created the “Tea” text using real tea from the teabags, embedded in acrylic polymer and cut to size, and then applied with gel medium. The teabags were layered and inked, and the tea branch was painted with acrylics. I added copper and gold machine embroidery to the teabags and then applied them to the page using gel medium. The water droplets were stamped using archival ink, with the catchlights added with a white gel pen.

The text pieces were hand-written on some scrap paper that had been sprayed with home-made glimmer mist (distress ink and Perfect Pearls in water) and the steam from the tea cup was made from a swirl stamped with sticky embossing powder with gold glitter added. The cup was made from a round teabag, inked, and stamped with another water droplets stamp, and some gilding wax added. The saucer was formed from another teabag, cut on the diagonal. The handle was also made from a teabag on the diagonal, rolled up and applied, like the rest, with gel medium. The tablecloth was a piece of transparent plastic chicken packaging painted with acrylics and stuck down with Pinflair gel glue, with a little gilding wax added.

I think that just about covers it. Time to put my feet up with a cuppa.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Delicious Death Gliders

A foodie post for you.

Over the past couple of days I have been making Rugelach. These are small Jewish sweet pastries filled with dried fruit and cinnamon. Having finished eating the second batch of mince pies I made, I thought I would make these for a change. It is several years since I last made them and I am pleased to say that they are as delicious as I remember!

09 Completed Rugelach

When I first made them, many years ago, my hubby and I had been watching Stargate SG-1, a sci-fi series we both enjoy, in which the evil aliens fly around in their small fighter planes known as death gliders:

Death Glider

and my hubby came in the kitchen and saw all the Rugelach laid out and said, “They look just like death gliders!” The name has stuck!

They are a lot more of a fiddle to make than mince pies but well worth the effort. On previous occasions I was able to get a luxury dried fruit mix but our local supermarket doesn’t seem to stock this any longer – it may be a seasonal Christmas thing, and I will have to see if I can source it from a more specialist delicatessen or wholefood shop. I did get some “Island Mix” which has a variety of dried fruits in it, and this worked OK, but I don’t think the flavour is quite as intense, and the pieces were a lot harder and more difficult to prepare.

The pastry is made from unsalted butter, self-raising flour and cream cheese, which results in a lovely soft, light result.

01 Pastry Mix

It is very pliable and sticky when first made, and needs to be put in the fridge overnight to harden slightly. I made double quantities and wrapped the two portions separately in kitchen foil.

02 Wrapping the Pastry

I made them in two batches over a couple of days because of being busy with other things, and also I got pretty tired doing all this!

Here are the filling ingredients ready to mix.

03 Mixing the Filling

The completed filling.

04 Filling

I remember from previous occasions that if I didn’t cut up the dried fruit, it was much too lumpy to be used. I had used my mini-Moulinex chopper/blender for this, but this new dried fruit was very hard, and became extremely sticky once you started chopping it, and I found the little machine was struggling, and the motor was overheating, so I stopped using it, and cut up the fruit by hand instead, on a board with a large sharp knife. This was pretty hard work and took ages!

The next picture shows the pastry being rolled for the first batch.

05 Rolling the Pastry

Divided into four portions, each of these is rolled out into a disc measuring about 9 inches. My rolling pin is still missing… So out comes the mulled wine bottle again – it makes a very adequate rolling pin!

Each pastry disc is then cut into 8 equal wedges.

06 Cutting the Pastry

The wedges are spread with honey and the filling laid on top.

07 Filling the Pastry

Finally, they are rolled up and formed into the death glider shape, brushed with egg white and dusted with sugar, ready for the oven.

08 Ready for the Oven

Baked until golden brown. In total I have made 64.

09 Completed Rugelach

Deeeelicious! – especially served warm.

My diet? Oh dear… Well, I shall just have to ration myself! They are just toooo yummy.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

WOYWW 348–Machine Embroidery

Further progress on my art journal page “The Cup that Cheers.”

For full details, please see my previous post. The picture below shows my main work area with the album. The blue clips are holding down the piece of chicken packaging which was inadequately secured with gel medium – I have now stuck this down with Pinflair gel glue.

The motif on the left-hand page is made from layered teabags on which I have painted a branch of a tea bush with acrylics. This has been machine embroidered with metallic threads and stuck down with gel medium.

WOYWW 348 3-2-16 4 Main Work Area

This is a more general view of the main work zone. You can see that it has got really untidy again, but this time I don’t mind – this is the sort of untidiness that comes from a busy creative time, and not from the space being used as a dumping ground.

WOYWW 348 3-2-16 1 Main Work Area

Over in the opposite corner is my sewing machine, which was in use yesterday, doing the machine embroidery on the teabag motif on my journal page.

WOYWW 348 3-2-16 2 Sewing Area

To the right of the machine you can see the general detritus left from late last night when I finished the machine embroidery.

WOYWW 348 3-2-16 3 Detail of Sewing Area

I am now feeling a lot more confident with my new sewing machine, and as long as I don’t leave it so long as before, until I use it again, I think I have broken the back of it at last, and can move ahead positively and start introducing more textile art into my mixed media work.

Last week I attended a church craft evening, called “Knitter Natter” lol – at least as much of the latter went on as the former! I took along some of my Florabunda prints to paint, and managed to do quite a bit of the first one. Later the next day I completed some more, and now have 6 more to add to my collection, ready to make up into cards – some with Perfect Pearls and some with watercolours.

01 Six Paintings - Perfect Pearls and Watercolour

The group is meeting fortnightly. I have decided I really should use the time to tackle some of my many UFOs (UnFinished Objects), some of which have been hanging around for more than 30 years. Now there’s an admission…

It is soooo good to have Mr. Mojo and Mrs. Muse back! I have forbidden them, in no uncertain terms, from taking any more holidays. If they do, I shall send Interpol after them.

Happy WOYWW everybody. A busy day today so not sure how many desks I’ll get to visit. Out for lunch with the Allerton Three (us three girls who met in hospital, having a fun girls’ lunch out, with plenty of laughter no doubt!).