Friday, 31 August 2012

Card for Ryn

I recently did a blog post about Ryn Tanaka, who designs beautiful art stamps. I had ordered some stamps and when they arrived, I decided to make a card for Ryn using some of them as I know how much she likes to see how her stamps are used (who wouldn’t?) and also because there was a new technique I was keen to try. (I wrote this blog post as I was making the card, but I couldn’t upload it until I had heard from her that she’d received it as I didn’t want to spoil the surprise for her!! I’ve just received an email from her that it’s arrived, so now I can share it with you.)

Some time ago I bought some Angelina fibres and did a small amount of experimental melting and fusing work which incorporated some of these amongst other things. (I didn’t pursue this much after this, but it’s in the back of my mind to do some more.) At a craft show last year I saw someone using a wooden fabric printing block to melt Angelina fibre onto, using an iron, and I was eager to try this with one of Ryn’s stamps as they are deeply etched, and I thought the effect would work well.

This is not a technique one can do with clear stamps because they would melt under the heat of the iron, but genuine rubber stamps work very well. You put the stamp down face up, lay the fibres over it, and put a piece of baking parchment on top, and then iron it until the fibres fuse – the iron will only be fully in contact with them where the design of the stamp is, so the design of the stamp is fixed into the fibres.

Here are the materials ready to start.

Here I am laying the Angelina fibres on top of the stamp ready for ironing. I spread them out as evenly as possible, adding more until the stamp was covered. The small iron I used was my hubby’s travel iron – I am hoping to get myself a decent craft iron before too long, but this is more or less OK in the meantime.

This is what the Angelina fibres look like once they have been fused. As usual with shiny, iridescent, reflective or glittery surfaces, the photos do not do it justice. The fibres are very shimmery, and where they were fused, they have turned a gorgeous metallic copper colour.

I had some brown coloured aluminium foil in my stash box, which I think probably came off an Easter egg, and I dug it out for this project once I saw the colour of the fused fibres.

After I made the 80th birthday card with the floating butterflies, I had some pieces of white card left from cutting the frames, and I used one of these for this project, covering it with the brown foil. You can see it in this picture, where I am smoothing out the worst of the wrinkles from the foil with a plastic modelling tool. I wasn’t too concerned about getting it absolutely flat and smooth (impossible anyway), because I quite liked the texture.

In the next picture, I am about to start spreading regular matt gel medium onto the card piece, to adhere it to the foil.

Laying it down onto the back of the foil, I went over it firmly with my brayer to make sure it was sufficiently adhered.

After this, I trimmed off the excess foil, leaving an overlap.

This overlap was then painted with the gel medium, ready to turn and stick to the underside of the card.

Before turning it, it had to be snipped at right angles to the edge, so that it would follow the curves of the card when turned in.

Here it is with the edges turned over and stuck down.

This is the right side of the card, covered with the brown foil.

The next step was to apply the gel medium to the back of the fused Angelina fibre piece.

Again using the brayer, and a piece of baking parchment to protect it, I applied the Angelina fibre piece to the centre of the foil covered card.

This is what it looked like at this stage.

Because the photo was so disappointing, I departed from my usual practice and tried a flash shot – I don’t like flash generally, because it alters the colours and gives a very flat appearance as a rule, and of course, with reflective surfaces, it can give a huge amount of glare, but I wanted to show just how reflective the foil and Angelina fibres were.

The next stage was to create the background piece. I wanted a nice watery effect, echoing the green colour of the unfused Angelina fibres, and found some turquoise cardstock. I have got a set of Fiskar’s Texture Plates which I can use with the Cuttlebug, and chose one called “Carpet” which actually looks more like ripples.

The normal sandwich for embossing with Fiskar’s Texture Plates in the Cuttlebug is: A plate, Fiskar’s Texture Plate (RS up), Cardstock (RS down), Tan Embossing Mat, C plate.

These plates will emboss a piece 5 1/2 inches square, but unfortunately my tan embossing mat isn’t as wide as this – I needed the maximum amount of embossing because of the size of the foil covered card, so I used my No More Shims mat which is a bit wider. It is also a bit thicker, though, so the usual Cuttlebug sandwich for embossing with Fiskar’s Texture Plates wouldn’t go through the Cuttlebug. Grrr. Anyway, I got round it by using a B plate and two thicknesses of scrap card as a shim, instead of the C plate of the original sandwich, and it worked OK, although the embossing wasn’t that deep – more shims (with the No More Shims mat, he he!!) would probably give a better effect. Anyway, it was sufficient for my purposes. This picture actually shows the card after it had been embossed and inked (because I forgot to take it before!)

This picture shows the card being inked. I experimented with some scrap, trying one or two different Tim Holtz Distress Inks to get the colour I wanted, and in the end chose quite a yellow-ish green in the form of Peeled Paint, which blended very well with the turquoise card to give a nice patchy, mottled effect of sea green. (This doesn’t show up terribly well in the photo.)

After this, I painted the whole surface with iridescent acrylic gel medium to get a nice pearlised finish.

I dried it well with my heat gun before proceeding to the next step. (The green ink shows up a bit better on these next photos.) You can see the reflective surface on the card, generated by the iridescent medium.

Here it is, dried off, lying on top of some of the original turquoise card, to show the different effect I have created.

Now came the exciting part! My favourite of Ryn’s stamps is her incredible water droplets one, which once seen, just HAD to be had!! I’ve never seen such a realistic effect – it’s stunning! Here it is, with the card and my archival black ink pad.

In this picture you can see that I have covered the whole surface with the water droplets – I had to fill in a few gaps where the shape of the stamp didn’t go to the edge – normally this wouldn’t matter too much, but since much of the centre would be covered with the Angelina fibre topper, I wanted the full effect of the water droplets. When I took this photo, I had just added a little distressing around the edges, in the form of a light dusting of Black Soot Distress Ink.

Here is the topper attached to the background with foam pads around the edge, and a good splurging of Pinflair gel adhesive in the middle to stop it collapsing. I could have used Pinflair for the whole thing, but I wanted a consistent height, especially around the edges, so I opted for the foam pads to establish this, and then filled in with the Pinflair.

Again, here is a flash photo to give an impression of the reflective nature of the project. It’s rather artificial because it’s not that reflective, but you can see the idea.

The next step was matting and layering. I spent a long time trying to decide what was best – it looked much too dark simply matted onto black – I wanted the black to pick up the colour of the water droplets, and eventually decided on a 1/16 in gold mirror card mat which just lifted it a little, and made all the difference.

Finally, the completed card. The base card was some Conqueror iridescent cardstock in gold haze that I got through Thyme Graphics – I didn’t really want to use this as a base card because I bought it for cutting with Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine, and didn’t want to waste it, but the colour was just what I wanted, and I love the finish on it, which mirrors the rest of the iridescence of the project. (You can’t really see it on this next photo because it’s against a white towel, but it’s a narrow cream border around the black.) I also added tiny dots with a white marker, to highlight each water droplet.

Again, a flash photo to show how reflective it all is.

The final step was to create a card insert on the computer, trim it to size and insert it with double sided tape.

I didn’t have an envelope to fit this card, so I used an ordinary white A5 one, and decorated it. Using the same fish stamp, I stamped with Versamark and created a resist with clear embossing powder. Because the paper was white, I had to add some blue (Salty Ocean Distress Ink from the Summer seasonal set) as well as the Peeled Paint one. I blended them together and when I’d finished, rubbed over it with some kitchen paper to clean up the heat embossing and reveal the fish. Some water spattering completed the effect, and I sprayed the whole thing with fixative to prevent it getting damaged by rain in the post! It’s got a long journey to complete – all the way to Canada!

This card was created for Ryn to say thank you for her gorgeous stamps, and just for being so lovely!!

To see Ryn’s beautiful work, and to order her stamps for yourself, visit her website here. She also has a blog that she has recently started, and I am sure she would appreciate a visit!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

A Quick Update

Message for WOYWW-ers – sorry folks, there are simply loads of wonderful comments from you all on my blog, awaiting moderation – I promise I’ll get to them eventually but won’t be visiting many blogs this week I’m afraid.

My dad is in hospital. He went in Wednesday afternoon. My hubby spent Tues. night with my parents as he went downhill again during the day and Mum called us again in the evening. They had the emergency doc again in the night, and his regular GP on Wed. a.m., and he signed papers to get Dad admitted straight away. My hubby took him in, and today (Fri. p.m.) we went to see him and he’d just been admitted to the ward after being assessed in A&E. He’s on a drip and looking very frail, but his colour is a bit better. His speech seems a bit slurred and he’s still rather confused. Not sure how long he’ll be in.

Mum coping more or less OK at home on her own but we’re popping in and keeping an eye on things.

GP and hosp. are arranging for proper care after he comes home, and OT assessment etc. I’m very glad the professionals are aware of their situation now, and involved in helping improve their lives.

I’ll be replying to all your lovely blog comments in due course. It’s been a busy day today and I’m likely to be fairly exhausted in the days to come, and not sure how much we’ll be in and out.

Thank you everyone for your support in whatever form you are able to give it – love, hugs, concern, shared experiences, advice, practical suggestions, and above all, prayers. God bless you all.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

WOYWW 168

I’m doing this a bit later than usual (in the small hours of Wednesday morning) because there’s been a bit of a crisis with my parents – my dad is poorly with an infection and has become quite confused, and my mum phoned this evening because they had a flood due to a leaking pipe. We had to go over, and found my dad in quite a state, and my mum trying to clear up the mess, so we phoned the all-night duty doctor, and had to wait for him to arrive, and then sort out what needed to be done. My hubby will have to pick up a few things in the morning and arrange an appointment with my dad’s regular GP, but at least our worst fears weren’t realised, and he didn’t end up in hospital. They are both very elderly and quite vulnerable now, and their house still hasn’t sold – the whole situation is fairly precarious and we may have to drop everything at any time and rush over and sort out whatever crisis arises.

Anyway, back to the matter in hand – my work space! “What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday” – the world’s greatest nosey fest! Click on the WOYWW link in my right-hand sidebar to visit our lovely hostess Julia’s blog for further info.

I’ve had another busy week doing lots of sorting and chucking out and generally downsizing – see my previous post for details. This is how it looked on Tuesday afternoon, viewed from the door.

I’m very thrilled with the extra space it’s created. There’s still quite a lot more to do – scanning documents and photos, and further weeding out of the boxes on the big shelving unit beyond the book case. I’ve now got my gift-wrapping papers in the top drawer of the filing cabinet, which has got rid of another box, and the middle drawer is filling up with old cassette tapes that need wiping off before sending to the recycling centre. The bottom drawer is broken – you can see the new runners I got from Amazon, on the floor in front, waiting to be fitted. Here’s an annotated photo so you can find your way around!

Now for the desk itself. I’ve had a fun time a couple of days ago, working on a project that I can’t share with you just yet because I don’t want to spoil someone’s surprise, but watch this space for details, hopefully in a few days.

Here’s the annotated version!

I will be doing further blog posts on all the activities on my desk this week. The water droplets stamp is from Ryn – see my recent post about her here. The gorgeous stamps I ordered from her came on Saturday and I’m super-thrilled with them. The experimental piece, stamping on Angelina fibres, was done with her fish stamp, fusing the fibres with an iron over the stamp – full details will follow in due course.

The flowers for Judy are now nearly complete but I’ve got a couple more techniques I want to try before I send them off. In the first photo you can see the poly-wallet on the floor beside Sheba, full of the most gorgeous vibrant fabric flowers Judy sent me for the swap we are doing – I’ll show you these in due course, I promise! Once I’ve finished the flowers for her, I’ll photograph hers and mine properly so that I can share them with you.

I’ve got a few more flower and butterfly pieces cut from watercolour card that I want to colour with my Dylusions ink sprays, and I’ve got a few more flower pieces inked and ready to make up.

Hope you enjoy my annotated photos this week!

Sorry I didn’t manage to visit many of your blogs last week – with my clearing, I’ve been very busy, and pretty tired afterwards! Not sure how well I’ll do this week either, as there’s a fair bit on, and we’re not sure what will happen with my parents. Have a happy WOYWW everyone, and a great week ahead. Hopefully we’ll all get the opportunity to be creative.

Friday, 17 August 2012

My ARTHaven–Downsizing

My hubby will be retiring in about two years’ time, and in advance of that, I have decided to start downsizing everything, as we will have to live in a smaller place. If I leave it all till the move happens, I know it will be quite impossible, and doing it in advance takes off a lot of the pressure. I’ve been having a great big clear out in my ARTHaven, which used to be my office and which still doubles as an office in a smaller capacity. I have a 3-drawer MFI filing cabinet that you can just see under the red anglepoise lamp in the first photo, and also a smaller unit, just peeping out beyond the big pile of books in the foreground that has two ordinary drawers at the top, and a single filing drawer beneath.

This filing drawer, and the top drawer of the main filing cabinet, were full of files, and I have managed to reduce this down to 1 1/2 drawers. This will be reduced further as time goes on, and of course, when we leave, a lot of the work stuff will disappear. The middle drawer of the main filing cabinet was full of old cassette tapes which I am in the process of converting to mp3 – no storage problems, and no risk of deterioration, and also much easier to listen to on my iPod. At present, this drawer contains the tapes that I have copied, which are waiting to be wiped off and sent to the recycling centre.

The bottom drawer contained spare stationery and about 30 years’ worth of old appointment diaries, which have now gone to the great shredder in the sky (my office shredder, actually!) and hopefully eventually to be used by a friend for horse bedding. I have also shredded masses of old papers. Quite a few of the files contain things I want to keep, but these can be scanned and stored digitally, saving a lot of space. You can see a heap of stuff on the left side of the brown wooden table to the left of the laptop – these are awaiting scanning.

The filing drawer of the small unit was broken – the ball bearings had come out of the runners and the drawer was very difficult to use. I originally thought I would ultimately get rid of the main filing cabinet, so I removed the runners from its bottom drawer and transferred them to the small unit, which now works perfectly, leaving the bottom drawer of the main unit redundant. Then I discovered that you can get replacement runners (better ones!) from Amazon, so I have just got a pair, but have yet to fit them – I have decided on balance to keep that filing cabinet because I like it, and it will be useful for storage of other things apart from files and office stuff.

The brown trolley affair is something I bought a while back from Ebay – it houses most of my office stuff – account books and office equipment. A lot of this used to reside in the drawers in the small MFI unit but these are now used to contain my rubber stamps etc. Eventually, after we move, this unit will revert to being the office cabinet with files at the bottom, and office equipment in the drawers. The trolley has ended up as a general dumping ground (see the empty pizza boxes, for example!) and it was always in the way, right in the middle of the room.

In front of it you can see a heap of stuff bursting out of a cardboard box. This is all going to the next village fete, or the charity shop.

In the left foreground of the picture you can see all the books I’ve weeded out – these will also be going to the village fete at the end of this month. Some are simply redundant, and others I now have on Kindle so they can go. I will probably shed a few more books as time goes on.

The next picture shows the fruits of a massive clear-out of my 3-section shelving unit. This large unit came from a shop that was changing hands where we used to live, and it has served me extremely well over the years, being very strong and very capacious! However, it will have to go because there won’t be room for it when we move. I am planning a purpose-built ARTHaven to my own specifications, with storage incorporated, and a much more efficient use of space than I have at present, so this large unit will not be needed.

My clearings have reduced the stuff to a level that will fill only 2 of the 3 sections – admittedly the stuff is really, really crammed in! However, there is still some weeding out to be done, which will be easier to do once the room is less cluttered. The shelves in the left-hand section in this picture are now empty – the boxes are either empty, or contain tapes being worked on – some copied, some to be wiped off.

I knew I would have to get rid of this section fairly quickly, or knowing me, I’d soon have it filled up again! So yesterday afternoon I tackled this job. It wasn’t easy as it was all pretty securely attached together. Here is a picture with most of the shelves removed.

The next picture shows that whole section removed, with the back of the bookcase on the left, and a nice space left!

The next job was to take all the books off the bookcase (I put them on the landing) and move the bookcase back against the newly-foreshortened shelving unit. The next picture was taken from the door, showing the bookcase in its new position, and a nice big space as you come into the room. Notice the marks on the carpet where it was before, and the shelves stacked up on the left. I’m getting rid of the big left-hand upright, but the smaller shelves will probably come in useful.

Here is the space seen from the other side of the room, with the old shelves stacked up (large upright piece behind), the side of the bookcase against the shelving unit, my stepladder, and a small box of dead technology for recycling.

Here is the new setup complete, with the brown wooden trolley moved into the corner. Most of the books in the bottom of the bookcase are art books, and if I want to get at them, it will be a simple matter to pull the trolley out. In front of it, on the floor, you can see the black bag I use to carry things up and down stairs, my new glue gun (rubbish!) waiting to be sent back, and a bag of wiped-off tapes ready to go for recycling.

Here is the rest of the room without the trolley. I can’t believe how much more space I’ve got! It’s brilliant.

Finally, a view of the room as it now is, as you come in the door. I really like it now. On the floor beside the small MFI filing unit (with Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine on top) is a pile of old accounts stuff awaiting recycling – the final batch of office stuff to go, I think. (At least, till I find a whole lot more!!)

I’ve still got a great deal to do. The stuff on the big shelves needs further weeding out, and I’ve still got tons of tapes to copy, and a lot of scanning to do, but each thing I do now will create more space and less clutter. Once we know where we will be moving, I will be able to make further plans to streamline my ARTHaven, and start buying in the units that will find their way to the new house. I have also got a huge amount of downsizing to do in the rest of the house, but don’t let’s go there just yet…

We are looking for a suitable house that my very elderly parents will move into initially, nearer to us than they are at present, less cut off, and more practical for them. When we retire, we plan to move in with them so that we can care for them in their final years. When the time comes, we will then occupy the whole house.

We did find a house that seemed perfect, but yesterday we heard that the owners have accepted an offer from someone else. Our problem is that we cannot yet find a buyer for my parents’ house, which has been on the market all year. Last night I found another place that would be eminently suitable as it is already divided into two distinct units and has a kitchen upstairs as well as down, and we are arranging a viewing soon; however, the problem remains, that we cannot get going until we get a buyer for my parents’ house. It really is the worst time to be trying to sell houses!!

Those who pray – we would value your prayers!!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

WOYWW 167

Welcome back to the world’s most famous nosey fest, hosted by the lovely Julia of Stamping Ground. For details, click on the WOYWW link in my sidebar.

After a busy time clearing loads of stuff in my ARTHaven, I’ve finally managed to do some art today! However, first of all, prepare yourself to view a complete tip.

Here is an annotated version of the photo, showing the salient points in case you are interested! I must point out the fudge – last time I showed you, there were 2 boxes there, and now there’s only one. We gave her one! I didn’t eat them – really and truly I didn’t, though I don’t expect you to believe me lol!

I have a large 3-section black shelving unit running down the left-hand wall of my ARTHaven, which originally came from a shop that was closing down near where we used to live. It has served me very well for many years, but it contains far too much stuff that needs downsizing, so I’ve been working hard on this. I have actually rationalised it so much that I am now down to 2 sections instead of 3, but this still needs more ruthless treatment. When we eventually move, wherever we end up, I am not going to have the space for a lot of this stuff, much of which really is junk, so I’m trying to get on with it now, before I actually have to. I am going to ask my hubby to get rid of the third section so I’m not tempted to fill it with stuff again.

The boxes on the shelves on the left are mostly empty, and there are a couple with old audio tapes in them, which I am busy recording onto the computer because mp3s take up no room at all, but tapes can be quite bulky when you’ve got a lot of them! Most of these tapes are recordings of Bible teaching sessions and courses I’ve attended over the years, and also all the recordings I made of my own Bible teaching.

I’ve also cleared my filing cabinet, and shredded 30 years’ worth of old diaries (why did I keep them?!!), and have a set of replacement drawer runners on order from Amazon to repair the broken bottom drawer. One drawer was full of the tapes, and I’ve got the filing drawers down to 1 1/2 from 2. The shredder has been working overtime! Hoping my friend will collect the results to use for horse bedding!

Anyway, to my desk proper. It’s very cluttered and untidy. I am busy working on my flower factory again, getting some more flowers ready to swap with Judy. She’s already sent me hers, and I’m eagerly awaiting their arrival from Australia!

In the foreground you can see a layered flower I’ve made from shapes cut from some scraps of Core’dinations paper that I put through the Cuttlebug and sanded (another piece alongside), then hand-embossed and layered with hot glue. My glue gun is pathetic and about to give up the ghost I think – leave it on more than 10 mins or so, and the glue starts to melt right back up the barrel, and when you squeeze the trigger nothing comes out, but it all backs up inside! I’ve got a new one on order, as this is a tool I use a lot, and I really need something decent. In the background you can see a box with completed flowers in it, and another with flower and leaf pieces ready for assembly. I’ll be posting about the flowers when I’ve finished the collection for Judy. Also in the foreground is the palette I made recently for my Perfect Pearls, being used to paint the flower I’ve just made.

Sorry for my weedy attempt at visiting desks last week. As you can see, I’ve been very busy, and in between watching the Olympics (I’ve gone into a sort of bereavement now they’re finished lol! – and can’t wait for the Paralympics to start.) I can’t guarantee I’ll do much better this week as I’ve got a lot to do, but I’ll do my best! Have a very happy WOYWW everybody, anyway, and thanks to everyone who visited me last week, and special thanks to Julia for organising us all.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Artist: Ryn Tanaka

Here is another post in my occasional series on artists whose work has touched me, and whom I would like to bring to your attention.

Ryn lives in Canada, and designs the most amazing art stamps – very different from much that is available to us. Her collection is growing, and is available here.

Here are an example of her stamps, as used by Linda Cain. (Clicking on this link will take you to Linda’s blog post where she profiles Ryn, in more detail than I am doing.)

Have you ever seen a stamp to produce realistic water droplets like this? Mine is now on order! The moths are amazing too, and on her site you can see that she’s designed flowers and leaves, marine-themed images, birds and – her latest – faeries, to name a few.

Ryn is not yet that well known, but I am sure she soon will be, because of the high standard of her work, and its very unusual and special nature. Her stamps are also made of high quality rubber, cling-mounted, and deeply-etched enough to use on other media than paper – on her site you can see examples in the galleries, of artists using them on ceramics, fabric and glass.

She has also just started a blog, which you can find here.

Check her out – I know you will not be disappointed!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Blog Candy on Jozarty’s Blog

Jo (one of our WOYWW members) is having a special blog candy giveaway on her blog – go here to see how to join in. It’s really fun – read the comments to see the fun names everyone has chosen for themselves! (For the record, I am Fluffy Dingwall lol!)

She asks that we post a photo of the blog candy on our blogs, so here goes:

Looks like some fun stuff, doesn’t it.

While you are there, have a good look round Jo’s blog. She is one of the most creative people I know, and makes the most wonderful things – she’s also great fun. I nearly got to meet her once but unfortunately it didn’t come off, but we did have a nice long chat on the phone!

I recently discovered that she designed my favourite fan stamp:

Gorgeous, isn’t it. Being used here to create little fan tags with Perfect Pearls, to go with the recent WOYWW ATC swap.

I don’t anticipate winning anything because I never do, but I’m always ready to join in and have some fun. Have a go – you may win something, but if not, you’ll have some fun anyway!