Monday, 31 December 2012

Out with the Old and In with the New

Well, folks, here is my usual end-of-year blog summary. (How many times do you have to do something for it to become a tradition? Lol!) Be prepared – it’s quite long, and contains lots of photos.

It’s been quite a year Chez Shosh, especially on the family front, with the main event being the sudden illness of my Dad and his subsequent move to residential care, and getting Mum settled into living on her own – my hubby has been totally awesome throughout and I don’t know what we’d have done without him. This all took quite a toll on my health and I’ve had a pretty rough few months, although I have managed to be creative when possible! The year didn’t start off that well health-wise either so I’ve been fairly limited in what I’ve been able to do.

It is now about a year since we put my parents’ house on the market and still it hasn’t sold, although the last couple to view it are very enthusiastic and I am sure they will buy it if they can sell their own house. Meantime we’ve found somewhere very suitable for us all, if someone else doesn’t buy it before we’re in a position to move.

My hubby retires in under 18 months’ time and in preparation for our eventual move, I have been downsizing, and my ARTHaven is now slightly leaner and meaner (although you wouldn’t think so to look at it!) – it is still not organised how I want, and is a bit frustrating to work in, but when we move, I shall design it from scratch and get it exactly as I need it to be.

Work in progress:

Creative-wise, the first big change was the arrival of Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine which I got before Christmas last year, and finally opened up and installed on New Year’s Day. Because of health problems I haven’t used it as much as I would have liked, so I am still at the basic cutting stage when I’d hoped to be far more advanced by this stage, but with the help of the excellent forum for machine owners, I have had so much help and support, and it’s all there for me when I eventually do get going on more advanced techniques. Meantime, I have achieved something I never thought I’d manage in a month of Sundays and that is to get to grips with the Great Vector Drawing Monster Inkscape!! What’s even more amazing is that I have been converted from an Inkscape hater to an Inkscape lover! My friends on the Thyme Machines forum are responsible for this and I’m very grateful to them for all their help.

Some of my most successful projects using Sheba this year have been my 3-D Silver Butterflies:

and stencil-cutting – this latter has been very useful in my mixed media and acrylic painting, etc.

One of my greatest creative adventures this year has been the discovery of Zentangle. Almost overnight I became totally hooked on this art form, and it is absolutely ideal for me because on days when I feel well enough to be creative but not well enough to sit at my work desk, I can do this from the comfort of the recliner. From my earliest attempts:

to my Zentangle-Inspired Art:

this has to be the Most Fun Ever – and as the year comes to a close, I am happy to say that I have now designed my very first pattern!

Another new venture for me this year has been albums. I have long been attracted by the idea of creating one, and I now have several on the go – I started an art journal in October, in which I have so far only completed three pages, but it is an ongoing project to be added to when I feel like it.

I also started a Fine Art album in May, with pages depicting my favourite paintings from the history of Western European art. I’ve only completed two pages so far, but again, it’s an ongoing project.

In November I started my Tattered Time Mini-Album dedicated to the life of my Dad, so that I will have an enduring keepsake to remind me of all his achievements and his beautiful character when the time comes for him to depart this life. So far I have only completed the first page, dedicated to his ancestry.

The final album I’ve started isn’t really an album at all yet, because I am waiting for the ring binder and ATC-pouch pages to arrive! This album is a revamp of my original Zentangle album which is becoming too full to be manageable, so I’ve decided to redraw all my patterns onto ATCs and bind them in a more flexible manner which also allows me to see them all at a glance. Here are some of the ATCs ready to be filed once the pages and binder arrive. Each one has step-out instructions on the back.

My work during the course of the year has developed more towards a mixed media trend, and on the whole I’m doing much less card making, making cards only as a matter of necessity for family birthdays etc. Hand-made cards take so much effort, but for many recipients, there is not much difference between a hand-made one and one from a famous chain of card shops, and both kinds end up in the bin soon after the event. Make a piece of art with a folded back and a greeting on the inside and it seems to become instantly ephemeral and I prefer my work to be longer-lasting. This year, fortunately, we didn’t have any important family events like last year which was full of them, making huge demands of my creativity! I did make quite a few cards during the year, though – here is a sample of the more interesting ones.

One mixed media piece I made during the year was a small altered papier mache box.

I used overlaid tissue paper scraps with gel medium, yarn, Friendly Plastic castings from silicone moulds I’d made, air-dry clay pebbles, gilding flakes, etc. I also started another mixed media project entitled “Choc-a-Bloc” from a chocolate box insert but this hasn’t progressed further than the basic stage as yet.

I hope to make further progress on this next year, and perhaps develop this idea further.

Digital art took up some of my time this year too – I created some useful backgrounds from photos I took of an oil painting, and then manipulated them in Serif PhotoPlus, my digital photo editing software. Here is one of them being used to display some Zentangle ATCs for my album. (This is another of my own designs.)

I also had some fun manipulating photos of everyday objects.

In addition to this, I also completely revamped my blog background (not a job I’m in a hurry to repeat as it was a horrendous exercise!!) and I now feel that it better expresses who I am, incorporating various aspects of my work.

A great acquisition this year was a set of Dylusions ink sprays which have to be the most fun thing to use! Intense colours, unpredictable results, endless possibilities… I decided to kill two birds with one stone and use flower pieces cut on Sheba as masks, thus creating interesting backgrounds and at the same time colouring the pieces ready for assembly into 3-D flowers.

I made a special card using these inks, with butterflies cut on Sheba.

Other new materials acquired: I also greatly increased my stock of Perfect Pearls, and together with my alcohol inks, made a couple of palettes so that I could paint with these media and have more control over them.

Other materials and equipment I acquired during the year were a Rolls-Royce of a glue gun, a new heat gun, matting and layering rulers, a gorgeous set of Derwent Inktense pencils from my hubby for my birthday, for Zentangle-Inspired Art, and some new stamps, from Ryn’s designs and also a selection of background stamps.

My knitting enjoyed a revival this year. I have been clearing things out, including a lot of clothes I no longer wear, and decided to unravel some favourites and knit them up so that they fit me again! Despite my best intentions, not a single one has been ready to wear for this winter, but here’s the progress I’ve made so far.

This year, WOYWW celebrated its third anniversary and had an ATC swap to mark the event, and I acquired a beautiful collection of these miniature works of art from other members of the group, from all around the world, each unique and precious. I made a selection of Zentangle ATCs to swap. (I know – I did promise to do a post about this swap – I did a draft post some while ago, and hope to upload it soon, long after the event, but never mind!!) Instead of an ATC swap, I swapped flowers with Judy in Australia – she has my paper ones and I have her fabric ones!

This year was my first experience of swaps, and actually holding someone’s art in your hand really draws you closer to that person, even if you have never met, and I have made new friends online. I feel well established in the online creative community now and have derived so much joy from my blog – and I know that my loyal followers have too, which gives me a great deal of pleasure. Thank you all for your support and encouragement over the past year. Special thanks to all of you who sent me special gifts and cards to help me get through some difficult times. These are all treasured and I appreciate your kindness so much.

I must make mention of a couple of new friends I’ve made this year – at the risk of offending others I leave out, for which I apologise – one is Jennibellie, who I have nicknamed the Recycling Queen – I was overjoyed to find her first on Youtube and then on her blog as she’s such an inspiration and such fun, and also Ryn Tanaka who designs such fabulous art stamps, and I’ve really enjoyed our ongoing correspondence. The joys of the Internet – no problem having contact with friends in Canada, or anywhere else in the world for that matter!

What a wonderful year it has been for Great Britain! The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics and Paralympics, and now the news of a new Royal baby on the way… Despite the atrocious weather we have had most of the year, it has been a notable year in so many ways, nationally and personally. Let us all look forward to next year and to all the opportunities it will bring, to be creative, to give joy and encouragement to others, and to bear our problems and sorrows with fortitude and cheerfulness. A very Happy New Year to you all!


  1. So many great things to see and read about in your post today. First off a quiet chuckle at how the Arthaven is leaner than before but only you notice it. Indeed, how often I have heard that lament from crafty people. We spend so much time and effort to downsize and/or organize and others come in and say, "Oh, nothing's changed then?!" eek! Glad to hear that you are mastering Sheba. You've done some great things with her. Your zentangles are so masterfully wonderful! I love that you have created some patterns and have made "cheat sheets" to refer to them. The ATC sleeve idea is such a great way to keep this info handy. I love all the albums you've started. I know what you mean that they are works in progress. I get it! Lots of people are discovering the Dylusions ink sprays. I can see me making a huge mess of things with them. Your spiral butterfly card is fabulous! I love that you have unraveled your clothes with the idea of knitting up new stuff. That is the ultimate in "green"! I think it sounds fun too. The ATC swap was such fun and indeed, what a great way to connect with people. I hope the new year brings you lots of wonderful things and lots of time and health to play!

  2. Wow! Did you do all that! Hope the New Year will be a continuation of all that creativity and that all goes well with house sales. x

  3. Thanks for sharing your highlights, Shoshi! I wish you and your family a wonderful 2013 filled with good health and other good things. Hopefully you can sell your parents' home soon and get the place that you're dreaming of.

  4. Hey Shoshi :) Holy shoot! You have been into so many different things this year! It´s hard to believe that you have struggled with health problems and still managed to be this prolific! Your Zentangle work jumps out at me as I have a love for black and white patterns. Very cleverly put together! The designs in your journal definitely don´t look like first attempts. Please do continue with this! It´s so inspiring to see :)
    I know what you mean about card making. Not everyone appreciates a hand made card as a piece of art. I think swaps are a great way to find good homes for your creations and to connect with people who get it. I noticed you displayed the card that you sent to me. I have it tucked away safely for my return to Canada and will treasure it always!
    I am very touched that you mentioned me in your post. It has been a pleasure corresponding with you over the past year :) You´re enthusiasm for my stamps and your lovely letters - in email form - helped to lift me up and inspired me to continue creating. People like you make all the difference Shoshi. I´m looking forward to another year knowing you!
    Wishing you luck in selling your house as well as health and inspiration for 2013 :) Bye for now!

  5. happy new year, Shoshi! i enjoyed your blog summary! great to see a collection of your projects all in one post. lots of great projects and your zentangles are amazing! here's to more creativity in 2013!

  6. wonderful wrap-up Soshi! I love the Y-power pattern, you should submit it to a stamp company, it would make a great background! Reminds me of something Stamp Camp would do!


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