Wednesday, 31 October 2012

WOYWW 178 - Knitting

Wow, Wednesday again, and time for our weekly nosey fest, aka What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday (WOYWW) – if you haven’t already, and would like to join the fun, click on the link in my sidebar which will take you to our lovely hostess Julia’s blog, where you can sign up. Warning – it’s addictive!

Remember this?

You can read full details of this project here – I’m making a jumper from a knitted dress that I unravelled (now too small for me) – I set it aside during the summer and have recently taken it up again, and today I finished the front. Here it is laid out on my desk:

Here’s a detail of the patterned yoke.

It still looks a bit lumpy and uneven, but once it’s washed and blocked, it should be better.

Now for an annotated version of my desk this week.

At the moment I am working through a whole lot of old photos which never even made it into an album, scanning them into the computer and doing quite a lot of very necessary editing, to improve the colour balance of faded ones, cropping, straightening horizons etc. Once this is done, it will be one box down in my ARTHaven (one box down, 50,000 to go?) It’s taking me ages, but it’s also great fun because I’m reliving memories of holidays taken anything up to 40 years ago!!! There are also quite a lot of old family photos with Shoshi as a sprog etc.

The work of converting all my old cassette tapes into mp3s continues, too. If anyone has any suggestions of what to do with dozens of old cassette boxes, I’d be grateful. I am thinking maybe of knitting the actual tape – but again, any suggestions of what to make with it? I don’t think it would be very nice to wear!!

Hope you all have a happy WOYWW and a great week ahead, with lots of inspiration and creativity.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Art Journal Page–Tyger, Tyger

What is the essence of tyger-ness?

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? And what dread feet?

What the hammer? What the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile his work to see?
Did He who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger, Tyger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

William Blake, 1757-1827

This has always been one of my favourite poems. I remember having to learn it by heart at school, and from an early age I was captivated by the archaic spelling of “Tyger” – somehow any tiger spelt “tyger” would have to be far more tigery than just any normal tiger, spelt “tiger.” This poem expresses for me the Essence of Tyger-ness.

What better subject to inspire an art journal page? It was a fairly daunting prospect, because I have never painted a tiger before, still less a Tyger, and I wanted to do it justice!

Here is the page with the elements mapped out in pencil. Apart from the tyger head, I knew that most of it would be obliterated by the inks and paints, but I needed to know where everything went, so this photograph served as a guide as I worked.

So that no white paper would show through the background, I began by inking it, using Mowed Lawn Distress Ink (from the Summer seasonal collection), using an Inkylicious Ink Duster.

You will see that I have slipped a sheet of scrap paper underneath each page – this is to protect the pages underneath.

Using my leaf trail stencil, I added more Distress Ink, this time Pine Needles, to create some leaves around the tiger’s head. Ink Dusters are great for this, because you can stipple away to your heart’s content with no danger of snagging or moving the stencil.

To get a more jungly effect, I added some more leaves, this time stamped ones, using a combination of Mowed Lawn, Crushed Olive and Forest Moss Distress Inks.

At this stage I freaked out a bit, because the leaves were coming out much too strong! I did multiple stamps with each application of ink, to give an effect of depth, but I wasn’t too happy with it at this stage. I cut a scrap of paper approximately the size of the tiger head and used it as a mask, and sprayed the whole page with my Forest Moss DIY glimmer mist – panic, panic – it came out MUCH too dark, so I quickly blotted it off, and the effect was a lot better all round.

The next step was the painting. I began by blocking out the main colours of the tiger’s head, before filling in the features with a finer brush. This is the only photo I took of the process, because I got carried away with what I was doing and forgot to take any more until I’d finished!

You can see that I also started painting the frame. The effect I was after was a suggestion of flames (“burning bright”) in tiger-stripe colours.

This is the completed tiger. I decided to add some more paint to the background, to darken it a bit behind the tiger, to add some contrast and give a more dramatic effect, and I also added some painted leaves in the foreground, to give the tiger a more menacing appearance as he emerges from the jungle undegrowth. I also painted the border at this stage, and again forgot to photograph the different stages! Then it was time to start on the journaling.

(The colour balance isn’t quite right on this photo – it’s a bit on the blue side – see the following photo for a truer rendition.)

On my last journal page, I did the journaling with white acrylic paint, but as this text is smaller, I wanted to try and make my white marker pen work. It is a broad white Uni-Ball Signo. A major problem I’ve experienced with this in the past is that if you try and use it on a water-based medium such as a Distress Ink background, the marker, also being water-based, blends with the underlying colour and you can’t get a true white. I had thought of spraying fixative onto the work before using it, but in this case there seemed to be sufficient acrylic paint and mica powder to prevent this from happening. I went over it again just to make sure, and I found the pen worked better if I didn’t press too hard, which tended to push the ink away from the centre of the line. I’d be very interested to hear what other people use to achieve such good results with their white text.

Finally I outlined the white text with my 08 Zig Millennium permanent black marker that I use for zentangles – no problem with this as it’s not water-based.

Here is the finished art journal page. The colour is a lot more accurate on this photo.

I hope I have captured the essence of tyger-ness!


Nice to be back sharing desks with the world again! Hop over to our own Julia’s famous blog (link in my sidebar) to see what this nosey fest is all about.

I’ve had a pretty quiet week, not doing much in the creative vein except finishing the art journal page I showed you last week, but today I’ve made a good start on another page, based on the Blake poem “Tyger, tyger, burning bright.”

As with last week, I shall be posting the completed page as soon as I’ve done it, so watch this space!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Art Journal Page–Music and Flowers

Having completed the front page of my new leather art journal, I have now created a double-page spread in mixed media.

Music means a great deal to me; it has great emotional impact, and I have been privileged in the past to take part in group music activities, especially choir singing, which is an incomparable experience, adding something that merely listening cannot provide. Music is a gift from God and it is like being given a gift of flowers – fragrant, full of variety and colour, bountiful, beautiful, and ephemeral – but the memory lives on. Music is flowers for the ears and for the heart. This is what I wanted to express in my page.

I glued a sheet of music onto the left-hand page and trimmed it down to size. For this I used Scotch Quick-Dry Adhesive as it’s the strongest wet glue in my possession and it dries quickly. I then sprayed the open page with some DIY glimmer mist (a little Wild Honey Distress Re-Inker and some Perfect Pearls mixed with water in a small spray bottle). I sprayed a small amount in another colour (Chipped Sapphire) and immediately blotted it so the dark colour didn’t dominate. After drying it with my heat gun, I applied some Salty Ocean Distress Ink (from the Summer seasonal set) with an Inkylicious Ink Duster through my Increasing Circles stencil. Over the yellow of the background, this blue distress ink turned a good shade of green, which was the effect I wanted.

You can also see some of the embedded petals in the hand-made paper of the right-hand page. This detail shot shows the shimmering effect of the glimmer mist nicely.

I sketched the outline of the text, and the border, in pencil, and started to paint the text with titanium white acrylic paint.

This is not brilliant quality paint, and needed three coats to give decent coverage.

To finish the text, I outlined it with a black Zig pen (08 size) from my zentangle set.

The next step was to start painting the border, for which I again used the titanium white acrylic paint (3 coats). While doing this, I also painted some flowers in white over some of the stencilled circles.

To finish the border, I filled the gaps with black acrylic paint (this went on a lot better and needed only a single coat), and outlined the border with the black Zig pen. I added a row of white dots in acrylic paint just inside the border, and again outlined them with the Zig pen.

To complete the page, I added a butterfly from my stash. This was cut with Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine, and had been sprayed with Dylusions ink sprays. I hand-embossed the wings from behind to make them slightly convex, and added some spots of white acrylic paint, and then attached it to the page with Pinflair gel glue to prevent the wings from becoming flattened.

The glimmer mist gives a gorgeous silky feel to the page, and the acrylic paint can be felt as a slightly raised texture. When embellishing the page, I tried to avoid the petals embedded in the hand-made paper, so that they became part of the design.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


It’s simply aaaages since I’ve been on WOYWW – thank you everyone who has contacted me recently to see how I was, and I’m grateful that I was missed! I was going to give it a miss for yet another week, but feeling well enough to be creative this afternoon, I thought I could sneak one in quickly – very near the end of the WOYWW list this time, but better late than never!

My hubby bought me a gorgeous little hand-made leather book full of blank pages made of hand-made paper the other day, and I’m making it into an art journal. You can see it here.

Today I started working on the first double-page spread. I had glued a piece of music onto the left-hand page and this afternoon I sprayed it all with some DIY glimmer mist and then stencilled some circles with distress ink. I have started doing the text, painting with white acrylic paint – I want to add a border and some flowers.

On the right-hand side of the photo you can see a little green butterfly – this was one that I’d sprayed with my Dylusions inks a while back and thought the colour went pretty well, and then I must make up some flattish flowers to embellish the page.

I shall be dedicating a blog post to this page once it’s finished, so watch this space!

The book is sitting on a sheet of heavy white card. I’ve decided to take a leaf out of Jennibellie’s book and start working on a white card background rather than directly onto my craft sheet, because the mess you make gradually builds up into a unique background – I may use different sheets for different colour schemes. (Jennibellie is one of my favourite artists online and one day I may do a post featuring this wonderful, enthusiastic young lady who never fails to inspire me – she is the Recycling Queen of Planet Earth lol!!)

I’ve missed you all. The past few weeks have been very tough for me, and will probably continue to be so for a while, as we deal with the problems of my elderly parents, which takes its toll on my health, but hey, I’d actually got something on my desk worth sharing with you this week, rather than it being the dumping ground it’s been of late!

Hope you have all had a great WOYWW, and that most of you won’t have completely forgotten me!!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Little Leather Book

After over a month of non-creativity because of family and health issues, I suddenly find my mojo mysteriously returning, much to my joy! This morning my hubby gave me something he’d picked up on the sale table at a charity coffee morning he attended recently – he said he thought he ought to buy something! When he gave it to me, I was entranced. It is a little hand-made leather book, filled with blank pages made from hand-made paper with delicately coloured leaves and petals embedded in it. The book measures about 6 x 4.5 in, and the leather cover has been decoratively punched in a pretty design on the front.

The book is secured by a green elastic cord which is rather worn, and anyway doesn’t do the book justice, so this will be replaced, probably with some more leather thong, probably tied with a decorative knot. I have a feeling this elastic may not be original. I may also embellish the flap a little, perhaps shaping the edge and adding some more punched holes.

The book has been bound in a decorative fashion, using thin leather thongs which have been arranged in an artistic design on the spine.

The back of the book is quite plain. I love the warm rich colour of the soft leather of the cover, and how soft and tactile the whole book feels.

Here is a picture seen from the top of the book, showing the six signatures of hand-made paper bound into the leather cover.

The inside of the cover is a lighter brown, the suede side of the leather, showing the punched holes.

This is a picture of the book open between two signatures – you can see the inside of the spine in between.

This shows the book open within a signature.

Opened in the centre of a signature, you can see the thong binding, stitching the pages together.

Here is a detail of the gorgeous hand-made paper which makes up the pages. If you look closely you can see the imprint of the linen where the paper was pressed while wet, and also the fibres, petals and leaves which have been embedded in the paper.

My plan for this little book is to use it as an art journal – to fill it with different drawings, paintings and designs in various media, but in general not completely to obliterate the intrinsic beauty of the paper. In some cases, pages may need to be cut near the binding and removed, to allow for the thickness of any added art work. This hand-made paper is pretty absorbent, and I am not sure how well it will take paint, markers or ink, so some experimentation will be needed, using pages that have been removed. Nothing will be wasted – any removed pages will be used for other projects.

My first step was to embellish the first page by tracing through the punched holes in the cover, and heat embossing the shapes with gold, which then shows through the holes. This would give me a starting point for further embellishing, in a rich, dramatic way, and would also echo the design of the cover.

Here is the first page with the shapes traced in pencil, ready for embossing.

I used my embossing pen, and heat embossed with gold embossing powder. Unfortunately, because of the absorbency of the paper, the embossing ink dried so quickly that not much embossing powder adhered to it, and when I heated it, it went rather dark. I had to go over it twice, and in places, three times, before I got the effect I wanted, and after all that, it was a bit lumpy looking!

Here’s a detail.

When you close the cover now, the gold embossing shows through the pierced holes, which looks a lot nicer than the white paper showing through (see the first photo).

I decided to embellish this embossed design, using a sepia drawing pen. The first step was to outline the embossed shapes to sharpen them up a bit, and then I started filling in with some zentangle-type doodles and borders. The final effect is quite rich and oriental looking.

My original plan was to add some rich colours, but on reflection, seeing that it would be opposite the somewhat subdued-coloured inside cover, I decided to add some Frayed Burlap Distress Ink around the edges and leave it at that.

I wonder who made this delightful little treasure, how old it is, and how it came to be discarded on a bring-and-buy table. Funny what people throw out, isn’t it!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Flower Swap with Judy–and an Update

In case anyone has been wondering why it’s been so long since I’ve blogged, my dad has been really poorly, and has been in and out of hospital, and is now in a residential home, although he is now quite a bit better and may even be well enough to return home, with an appropriate care package. Mum has been on her own and my poor hubby has been rushing around like a fly with the proverbial blue rear end, trying to sort them out as well as continuing to work, and looking after me, and he’s got pretty exhausted with it all. I’ve been very stressed out with all that’s been going on, and especially being concerned that my hubby wasn’t going to burn himself out, and it all took a bit of a toll on my health and I have had quite a bad dip recently, which meant I could do even less than the small amount I could have done to help my hubby. We are also in the throes of trying to sell my parents’ house, and we’ve been house hunting, and it’s all taking a lot of time.

Anyway, I am starting to feel a bit better now, and may even manage to return to my ARTHaven and do some creative stuff soon. I simply haven’t felt up to it lately – what small amount of energy I have had has had to be used for the aforementioned activities, and I haven’t felt inspired creatively at all for weeks!

Now for the main reason for this post – to share with you something really special. My friend Judy in Australia (do visit her wonderful blog – it’s amazing!) is a highly creative lady, and also has a heart of gold, is great fun, and I feel as if I’ve known her for years!! When we had the recent ATC swap with the WOYWW blog hop (What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday, where we share a photo of our work desk every week to satisfy all our nosey cravings and have a good snoop around each other’s creative spaces, and where I originally “met” Judy) – it was the 3rd anniversary of WOYWW and we all had a wonderful time swapping all the gorgeous ATCs. (I will do a post about mine soon!) Anyway, Judy said she’d rather swap flowers, so we agreed to do this. I’m afraid with everything that’s been going on, I haven’t been very quick about this, but Judy had sent me hers and they are GORGEOUS!!! They are so scrumptious and soft and squidgy and decorated with dangly beads and things, and I keep getting them out of the poly wallet I’ve put them in, just to mess around with them and enjoy them! I can’t think what to put them on, yet, but I know inspiration will strike eventually!

Here’s the whole collection. I’ve arranged them to look like a bouquet. Aren’t they gorgeous?

Now for some closer-up shots to show the detail.

These ones have got lots of beads on them, some of which are looped, and some are dangly. I adore the bottom left one with its dangly beady bits and all the multi-coloured layers!

These next ones are slightly more subtle (!) lol! but so pretty! Again, the bottom left one is particularly lovely, but I love them all.

It’s really hard to choose, but I think these last ones have to be my favourites. The bottom one has gorgeous dangly ribbons and beads, and the rest are fairly flat, with circles of yarn machined down, and quite a bit of shiny lurex material which doesn’t show up very well on the photo, lots of textured yarns, and again lots of beads! I love Judy’s use of buttons, too.

Every single one is different. Aren’t they joyous?

Now for the flowers I have sent Judy. All mine are paper. Here’s a photo of the growing collection in the making.

This is the completed collection. They are all quite a bit smaller than Judy’s ones. I have tried to do as many different kinds of flowers as possible. I had hoped to be able to make up some from my inked kitchen paper but time is going on, and I wanted her to have what I’d done!

Again, here are some closer shots for the detail.

These first ones are what I call my “freeform” flowers. I had some narrow offcuts of Core’dination papers from other projects, so I ran them through the Cuttlebug and then sanded them to expose the darker core.

For the pink one, I roughly drew petal shapes onto the paper and cut them out by hand. I hand-embossed them from behind, using a ball-ended embossing tool onto a piece of fun foam and then painted some Perfect Pearls onto the ends of the petals from the palette I made up recently, and stuck the petals together with hot glue. For the other two, I cut some whole flower shapes out by hand, and hand embossed them and painted them with Perfect Pearls as before, and layered them up with hot glue. In all cases the centres were made from tiny flower shapes cut with Sheba, my Black Cat Cougar cutting machine and found in with all my other flower pieces, and topped off with a gem or some Stickles. (I love Stickles – glitter glue – for flower centres – so easy, and it gives a nice bit of bling.) These freeform flowers worked better than I could have expected – it was a bit experimental!

The next batch are all roses. They are all from Penny Duncan’s rose cutting files -the larger ones are her grungey rose pattern with the more indented petals, and the smaller ones are her original rose design. All the coloured ones were sprayed with my Dylusions inks before making them up, and the two dark navy and silver ones were left over from a project I made last year.

Here is a picture of the roses being made up.

All of the next batch are hibiscus flowers in different sizes, all cut using another of Penny Duncan’s files. The stamens were bought in the wedding cake department of our local kitchen shop. Some of these were sprayed with Dylusions inks before making up, and others were coloured with Distress Stains.

The final batch is a bit of a mixed bunch. Working clockwise from the top, the poinsettias are again Penny Duncan’s design, but with yellow Stickles for the centres. I made quite a lot of these just before Christmas last year for my bag skirts project (another Penny Duncan idea!) and these flowers were from my stash.

Below those you can see two black and gold flowers. Again, these were left over from another project – originally they were rose pieces and had quite large holes in the centres, so I have put co-ordinating brads in the centres to finish them. Each one was cut from black card using my old Cricut machine (before I got Sheba) and then I hand-embossed them and drew on them with an embossing pen, and heat-embossed them in gold.  Below these is a collection of small flowers that I made for a project I had intended to do and then never completed – one day I may come back to it and cut some more flowers. Most of these were cut from some very good quality card that I bought when I first started, but the colours were simply awful – it was duplex (double-sided) card with colours like lime green on one side and bright orange on the other, or garish turquoise – adding some colour of my own, I completely transformed them and really liked the result! I did a blog post ages ago about this card, and some experiments I did with it at the time. I learnt at that time that even when you’ve made a huge mistake, buying something you absolutely loathe, you don’t need to throw it away but can alter it and make something good come out of it!!

The pink flowers (also a Penny Duncan design) were in my stash as well, from a project I did, making a whole series of thank-you cards. I loved how these flowers turned out! They are sprayed with glimmer mist, and again have Stickles centres.

The last ones I made quite recently when I was experimenting with my Dylusions inks, and used them as masks while spraying.

I painted on some coppery Perfect Pearls and loved how they came out. These also have a tiny flower shape and some stickles in the centre. This flower shape (another Penny Duncan one) is very versatile because it can be layered if you want, but it’s lovely as a single layer too.

I wrapped them all in some tissue paper that I’d sprayed with my Dylusions inks and some Crafter’s Companion glitter spray (I’m afraid I forgot to photograph them parcelled up but I’ve still got some of the tissue so I’ll show you that another time).

Flower making is such fun, because you can mix and match so many shapes and build up layers, and colour them differently, and add bling, embossing, Perfect Pearls, etc. etc. to your heart’s content! With the cutting machine I can also make them whatever size I want, and I always make more than I need for any given project so that I’ve got spares for other things, or to give away as in this case.

Thank you for swapping flowers with me, Judy, and I hope you enjoy the ones I’ve sent you as much as I love the ones you’ve sent me! What fun this has been. While collecting them together and making them up, I’ve been thinking about Judy and giving thanks for our friendship!

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