Saturday, 31 March 2012

New Zentangles

I’ve done a couple more zentangles.

11 Art and Looking

Ever since I was a child I have enjoyed filling spaces with letters, and thought that text would be a fun shape for zentangling. The first one is “Art from the Heart,” which rather sums up my approach to art!

12 Art from the Heart

The second is another circular shape. As it developed, there were a couple of small eye-shaped pieces which cried out to be drawn as eyes, and as I approached its completion, it spoke to me of an Indian elephant – can you see it? This one is entitled “Here’s Lookin’ at You.”

13 Here's Lookin' at You

I think my skills are developing!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


Good old Wednesdays! Another one has rolled around again before we had time to notice, and it’s time to show off “What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday” to a nosey world! Thanks to Julia for organising us all and doing her best to keep us under control. If you want to join the fun, click on the WOYWW link in my sidebar.

Well, my ARTHaven is certainly a lot tidier than it was last week, and you can see the desk again! I haven’t done a lot sitting at it this week as I took a dip health wise after doing all that shifting of stuff last week, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been creative – on the recliner instead.

I have started knitting my unravelled dress, and in the foreground of the picture you can see how far I’ve got. This is the bottom border complete, on the back. I’ve now got quite a lot of straight knitting to do in the tan coloured wool before doing some more pattern at the top. I don’t suppose I shall complete that in the coming week, but hope to make good progress.

The other thing I’ve found myself doing this week is a new craze – Zentangles! I have done a couple of blog posts if anyone is interested, and on my desk you can see my Art Journal that I’ve started, open at the latest page where I’ve done a series of small Zentangle designs in the form of a sampler for easy reference. Some of my finished pieces are on my other blog posts.

I’m trying to restrain myself as this is soooo addictive, and I’m likely to empty my pens before I can get some more!

At the back of the desk you can see my Choc-a-Block mixed media project and the tub of Polyfilla Once (US: Joint compound) – I’ve made absolutely no progress on this at all. Still mulling what to do, and don’t want to rush into it. You can also see one of my small Indian flowers that I cut with Sheba, my Cougar cutter, a few weeks ago.

The other thing I’ve done (starting yesterday) which isn’t on my desk, is that I’ve signed up to Deviant Art – a huge website/worldwide community of artists – anyone can upload their art in any shape or form, of any standard, to be shared with the community, and there is the opportunity to sell prints of your work through the site.

My album (not very full yet, but watch this space!) is here:

I hope you’ve all had a good week, full of creativity and fun, and I look forward to visiting as many desks as I can over the next few days. Happy WOYWW, everybody!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Zentangle Sampler

Yesterday I made my first Zentangle sampler. I will probably do more as time goes on, and I discover new patterns that I like.

Some of these were more successful than others – there may be step by step instructions for some of them, which would come out better if I did them properly from the start.

10 Sampler

Must order some more pens soon! I can see these running out, and me suffering Zentangle Cold Turkey…

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Zentangle - Mucha

I’ve been doing a bit more experimenting with Zentangles. Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas on Youtube have been doing what they call “Mooka” after Alphonse Mucha, the famous Art Nouveau artist who painted posters of glamorous women with flowing hair. They have created some gorgeous patterns with this style, forming shapes from a single stroke.

It looks easy but it’s actually very hard to achieve a good result, in my opinion! After quite a bit of practice I’ve come up with these.

07 Mucha 1

08 Mucha 2

09 Mucha 3

I adore the Art Nouveau style which is so flowing and fluid. I definitely need more practice with this style of Zentangle, which is not at all easy to achieve!

Saturday, 24 March 2012


Today, I discovered the art of Zentangle (thank you, Lunch Lady Jan!) – the art of Glorified Doodling. I have spent some time watching Youtube videos tonight, and decided to have a go.

I have also started my new Art Journal tonight – an old notebook I’ve had for ages, nothing posh, but with reasonable (although not specifically art) paper, which I think will take a bit of punishment!

Here are my first attempts.

01 First Attempts 23-03-12

02 First Attempt 1

03 First Attempt 2

05 First Attempt 3

The first two were done more or less following a Youtube video, but with my own take, and the third one is mine from start to finish.

Not everyone seems to add shading, but I think this really helps give the pictures dimension. I used an old black crayon for this, and for the actual drawings, two different thicknesses of permanent black pen.

Also, I think it is better not to fill in absolutely every section – a bit of white space left adds contrast and dimension to the piece.

There are no rules, although the purists would probably say you’ve got to stick within Zentangle principles and use only those patterns laid down, but basically, you just draw a basic outline shape, pick up your pens and away you go, adding different fills to your heart’s content!

This is definitely something I can do while sitting on the settee with my feet up if I don’t feel up to being in my ARTHaven. There’s also my knitting and crochet, so I’m not going to be idle!

This is SUCH FUN!!!!!!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Backgrounds from Oil on Canvas

Today I have created some new backgrounds to share, for use in digital art, or for printing out and using in other projects.

In the course of my parents’ clearing out their house in preparation for moving, they have been passing a lot of stuff our way, either for us to keep, or for us to take to the recycling centre for them. Amongst the last lot was a still life in oils that they no longer wanted; it’s rather dark and uninteresting, and certainly not worth much. We will probably try to sell it at a car boot sale along with various other items, but before it goes, I thought I would take some photographs of various parts of it, and create background images from them.

These were taken from the background of the painting. In each set, the first photo is the original, and subsequent ones are examples of the manipulation of the colour that I have done. I may also work on some other digital manipulation such as adding various filters, but that’s for another day. For this project I have been using Serif PhotoPlus X3 and using a combination of different Hue/Saturation/Lightness and Colour Balance settings, and converting the images to A4 size.

Set 1

Set 2

Set 3

Set 4

These are just a few of the backgrounds I’ve created from the oil painting. They are now all on my SkyDrive (see link in my sidebar) and can be downloaded free, if anyone wants to use them. You can also see them all in my Photobucket album:!cpZZ1QQtppZZ24

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

WOYWW 146–World War Three??

So… What’s on your workdesk this Wednesday? Whether it’s neat and tidy, a mess, a hive of creativity or a blank space, it’s an opportunity for us all to have a jolly good nose around, courtesy of our lovely hostess, Julia. To join in the fun, click on the WOYWW link in my sidebar.

I’m a bit ashamed to show you mine this week… There’s not actually very much of interest on my workdesk at all – only junk, which is everywhere else too!!! It looks as if World War III has broken out.

I’ve had another stint in my ARTHaven, clearing out stuff. I’ve decided I’ve got far too much junk, and when my hubby retires in a couple of years’ time we’ve got to have an awful lot less stuff than we’ve got now, and given my low energy levels, I thought it would be good to make a start quite a long time before I have to!

Now for a big public admission – I’m a terrible cardboard box hoarder! It’s a bit sad when you have your old favourites that you are reluctant to throw away, isn’t it. I had a huge cardboard box full of… cardboard boxes! This has now GONE!! I’m just keeping a few that might come in useful but the rest have to go.

My ambition initially is to get rid of one whole section of my big black shelving unit (behind the black bookcase on the left of the picture) but I’m not there yet. I’ve already been through my bookcases and weeded out quite a lot of books I don’t want any more – my hubby has had a huge clear out of his and got rid of loads, but knowing him, he’s only got to go past a second hand book shop or a village fete book stall, and he’ll fill all the gaps again!!

As for creativity, all I’ve done this week is finish unravelling my first knitted dress, wash the wool, and start knitting. I’ve done a blog post about that. I’ve also done a small amount on Inkscape but no cutting again this week – poor Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine, is complaining again that I didn’t buy her to gather dust! It’s been a fairly busy week, with taking my parents out for lunch on Sunday, and setting up our new TV which involved a lot of exhausting grovelling behind the TV with a torch!

I hope everyone else has been a bit more creative than me this week, and that you will all have a happy WOYWW.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Knitting–Jumper from Unravelled Dress–Preparation

Over thirty years ago, I bought a beautiful knitted dress from a craft gallery near us – I balked at the price at the time but never regretted buying it, as I absolutely loved it,and wore it for years – its shape, the soft subtle colours, and the design. Reluctantly it got put away a few years ago after I put on too much weight to wear it any more, but I simply couldn’t bear to part with it, or imagine anyone else wearing it when I no longer could.

This year I have been clearing out lots of stuff I no longer want or need, and came across this dress, and another one I made a few years after getting it – I used the first as a basis for the design for the second, and again, this dress is now too small for me, and I didn’t want to part with that one either. I have decided to unravel both dresses, and a couple of other things I have knitted which no longer fit, and make them up again, giving them a new lease of life.

Both dresses are made from pure Shetland wool, 4-ply thickness, and far too good not to make use of. I have completely unravelled the bought one now, and about half of the one I made, and I am now ready to progress to the next stage.

Having been knitted and held in that position for over thirty years, the yarn had a permanent wave! I wound the unravelled wool into balls of each colour, and then skeined them, ready for washing to remove the kinks.

You can see from this picture what gorgeous colours they are.

This is the pattern I have drawn, taken from the original colour scheme of the dress, and the design I have made.

My plan is to make the sleeves patterned, but on the original dress they were 3/4 length sleeves, so there may not be enough of the coloured wool to do this, so I may knit the tops and cuffs with the pattern, and keep the rest plain. I will also do some pattern at the top of the body, and some around the hem, and use different colours to form stripes in the ribbing of the hem and cuffs. The shape of the neck and armholes (square) will be the same as the dress. This is a simple shape, which occurs frequently in ethnic clothes, and it works well.

Here are the skeins drying after washing.

On the left are the skeins of the background colour, with the pattern colours on the right. The next photo shows these in more detail.

After thirty years of being knitted, there is still a bit of kink in the yarn even after washing, but not enough to affect the re-knitting. Anyone got any hair straighteners they can lend me??!! (Imagine what your hair would be like if you kept rollers in for 30 years…)

Finally here are the skeins, ready to be wound into balls again for the knitting. You can see what gorgeous subtle colours these are, reminiscent of the colours achieved from natural dyes.

Time to dig out my circular needle kit again! Meantime, back to unravelling the second dress.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


A whole fortnight has gone by since I last did a WOYWW – I didn’t manage it last week for various reasons, not least that Blogger was really playing up and it was taking up to 20 attempts to get any blogs to load, and I got totally fed up with it. I do wish they’d sort it out…

Anyway, for those who don’t know what this is all about, it’s “What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday” – a weekly nose into everyone’s work spaces to see how messy and creative they are being! Thanks as always go to our wonderful Julia who organises us all. To join in, click the link in my sidebar.

Not a lot of activity this week – I’ve done a little bit on Inkscape but that’s about it. I’ve also done a bit more on my current mixed media project, which I am calling “Choc-a-Bloc” because it is based around a chocolate box insert.

At last the Polyfilla One fill in the cavities is completely dry – it did take a long time, even being in the airing cupboard. On the right, you can see that I have applied the first coat of gesso to the projections – this is going to be the right side. I need another coat to give good tooth to the working surface, and then hopefully I shall begin to have some fun!

As well as progressing slowly with this, I have been unravelling vast amounts of knitting – I am trying to have a clear-out, and found my two beloved knitted dresses that I have not been able to get into for several years but couldn’t bear to part with. The first I bought at a craft exhibition centre, and the second I made myself, taking the basic shape from the first, but using different colours and designs. I have decided to recycle the wool (beautiful pure 4-ply in fabulous colours) into jumpers. I’ve also got a tunic top I made which is getting the same new lease of life – it’s many shades of yellow with multi-shaded purple spots!

I shall knit this up using the same design as it works well.

I belong to a forum called Ravelry (celebrating knitting and crochet) when the site behaves itself and actually loads properly and lets me on! I am thinking of starting a new one called Unravelry, the way I’m going at the moment!!

Got our new (terrifyingly expensive) TV arriving tomorrow so I’ll be busy setting all that up, so not sure how many desks I’ll visit. Also it depends whether Blogger decides to play ball this week or not…

Happy WOYWW everyone, and have a good week.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Beatrice and the Crinkle Cat Bag

Last night Phoebe was out of the room for a while, and Beatrice had a look-in with the Crinkle Cat Bag. It didn’t last long, but she did have fun with it, rolling over and showing off her very pretty spotty tummy!

Today we’ve been playing with Phoebe, using the Flying Frenzy toy. No video yet, but I’ll get my hubby to help soon. That’s an awesome toy! At this rate Phoebe will soon be shedding her extra weight. She’s rather tired after her exertions tonight, and is using the Crinkle Bag as a bed!

These new toys are proving to be a great success.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Crinkle Cat Bag

Today some new toys arrived in the post for our two kitties, Beatrice and Phoebe. I ordered them from Happy House Cats, belonging to Loupy on the Black Cat forum – she makes all these beautiful toys herself and as a cat slave, she knows what kitties like!

I will be blogging in due course about the other toy we bought from her, but today I want to tell you about the Crinkle Cat Bag. This is a fur fabric bag which is lovely and soft, and between the layers it contains catnip and some sort of material which makes a loud crackling noise when you move the bag.

I unpacked the parcel, and then went into the bedroom to see what state the kitties were in. Beatrice was on the bed, fast asleep. As I came in, she lifted her head and started sniffing, and immediately came to life! She walked towards me, and when I put my hand out, she nuzzled it all over! I couldn’t believe that she could smell the catnip on my hands as soon as I entered the room! Their sense of smell is awesome.

I called her, and she followed me downstairs, where I put the bag on the floor, and she immediately went to it and started rubbing her face on it and rolling over. Then Phoebe appeared, and did the same, and then after a few minutes Beatrice got off, and I had quite a job to get her to play again.

They are funny together. About 3 months after Beatrice’s sister Bella was killed on the road, we got Phoebe and her sister Chloe (sadly also killed on the road) to keep her company, and it took her a whole year to accept them! Eventually they got on fine, and generally speaking, Beatrice was senior kitty and top in the pecking order. Phoebe was always the timid one and very much No. 3 Kitty, but when Chloe died she suddenly got a lot more confident, and although she usually gets on fine with Beatrice (they have very occasional spats), Beatrice can get quite jealous if she comes in and finds Phoebe on my hubby’s lap, for instance. She also caves in and lets Phoebe get the upper paw a lot of the time.

As you will see from the video that I have made, this is played out over the new bag! We are hoping that Beatrice will play with it on her own when Phoebe isn’t around, but if not, we may need to get another one.

They are like little children! “She took my bag!!” “ I won’t play with her any more!”

Later on when my hubby came home, he watched them playing with it again, but again Beatrice was reluctant to get involved. Then Phoebe settled down on it and went to sleep! Later she moved to her favourite place on the back of the settee beside me, and Beatrice went to sleep on it!

We’ll have to see what happens over the next few days.

Thanks Loupy – we are all having such fun!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Indian Floral Motifs

Today I cut some floral motifs that I designed from my Indian floral border. I used some off-white cardstock that I bought at a craft show, and I have no idea what make or weight it is, but it appears to be medium weight. My sample cut worked well at Force 50 but as usual, the actual cut didn’t do so well, so next time I shall increase the force to 60. As it was, I had quite a few small pieces which needed help to get them out, and on more than one occasion, small pieces were lifted by the blade mid-cut and interfered with the cut – I paused Sheba and pulled them out. I am surprised this is still happening because I re-stickied my mat again today and the card was extremely well secured – so much so that I had to exercise caution when removing it, so that I didn’t damage my flowers. (I seem to go from one extreme to the other – very sticky, or not sticky enough – one day maybe I shall get the adhesion of my mat correct!)

However, back to my floral motifs. Each petal is taken from the design of the border, and I made two versions – one solid and one with separate petals, each having five petals. Here is a bitmap of the svg file I created (now on my Skydrive for free download – see sidebar).

As you can see, in this file there are three sizes of one design, and one of the other. Of course, you could make them any size you like, but I thought for the purposes of layering, these sizes might be good. You will notice that I have made a hole in the centre of each part. This is so you can use a brad to secure the flower pieces if you want.

Here they are immediately after cutting (and tidying up – which took a long time…) – I have coloured them with three colours of Distress Inks: Spun Sugar, Broken China and Dusty Concord, using my Inkylicious Ink Dusters, blending the colours at their junctions.

The colours I used were Spun Sugar, Broken China and Dusty Concord.

Next, I sprayed them with some of my DIY Glimmer Mist (the link to this will take you to one of my early Youtube Videos, made before I had my ARTHaven). It is made from water, with as much Distress Ink re-inker as you need to obtain the colour you require, and some Perfect Pearls in your chosen colour added, and the liquid shaken gently in a spray bottle before each use to ensure that the mica powder is suspended evenly in the liquid. You can make these in any colour combinations you like. In this case I used Spun Sugar with Perfect Pearl coloured Perfect Pearls (the silvery one).

As usual, it’s a bit difficult to see the shimmer, but they really are quite shimmery, believe me!

The next step was to paint the edges with Perfect Pearls. First I used Forever Velvet, and finished the edges with Heirloom Gold, mixing them on my non-stick craft sheet with a fine paintbrush and a little water.

I love Perfect Pearls! These mica powders are so versatile. They have a binding agent in them so if they are applied with water, they do not rub off when dry.

After this, I hand-embossed the flower pieces gently, with a large sized embossing tool, to curl up the petals somewhat.

Finally, I layered the large and small pieces with the divided petals, and decided to leave the other two pieces separate. I glued the two layers together with a spot of Scotch Extra-Sticky adhesive

The final step was to add some Stickles as embellishments. In the above photo, the Stickles are still wet. When they are dry, they will become flatter. The colours I used were Purple, Turquoise and Fruit Punch.

I think if I make up a border using these colours, I could use these flowers to make a very pretty card, or they could be used to embellish the lid of a box, with the border going around the sides.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Polka Dot Stencils

I have now finished my two A4 sheets of polka dot stencils, one of half-inch circles and the other quarter-inch circles.

I had some problems cutting these. To start with, Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine, was not cutting the circles out unless I used sufficient force which was then marking the mat excessively. After taking advice on the Black Cat forum, someone suggested I did a double cut with reduced force, which I did – F30. This worked very well. They also suggested that it was unnecessary to use the 60+ degree blade (designed for thicker, denser media) and that the normal 60 degree blade should be fine for this thin acetate, which proved to be the case.

Then, there seemed to be too much information for Sheba to process, and the cut behaved somewhat strangely towards the end, and also several of the circles failed to cut. To solve the former problem, someone on the Black Cat forum suggested that I alter my Inkscape drawing so that the circles were in different colours, so that when in Signcut, I could select each colour in turn, and so avoid having to transfer the whole file over. This proved highly successful. The latter problem I discovered was due to some of the circles of acetate lifting from the mat and being carried along by the blade, preventing it from cutting. This was somewhat alleviated by pausing the cut frequently, and brushing the stray circles away. At the end of the cut, I went over the whole thing again with a single cut on F30, which cut out the remaining ones. After removing the stencil from the mat, there were very few circles that had to be teased out, and in the end the stencil was perfect.

Here are the bitmap images of the svgs I designed in Inkscape, first the half-inch circles:

and the quarter-inch circles:

As usual, these svg files are available for free download from my Skydrive (see sidebar).

Here are the samples I did from them, using Dusty Concord Distress Ink for the half-inch one, and Barn Door for the quarter-inch one.

Finally, here is a picture of samples of my first three stencils cut with Sheba: the small (A5 size) leaf trail, and the two polka dot stencils.

I think these will prove to be a very useful resource. I intend designing and cutting quite a few more.

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