Thursday, 29 May 2014

Altered Pizza Box

Edited – now with video.

A mixed media project. I am giving away one of my flower painted Ikea mirrors as a house-warming present, and recently discovered that it fits exactly inside a 10-inch pizza box. I thought the box needed a bit of decoration to make it a slightly more acceptable wrapping, and I ended up making a full mixed media project out of it!

I got a bit carried away and forgot to take any photos during the making, but I did video the whole process.

I started by covering the whole of the outside of the box with gesso, and then had a rummage in my Tim Holtz papers – they’ve all got a bit muddled up and I’m not sure which stack they come from – either Crowded Attic or Lost and Found, but it doesn’t really matter – they’re all nice and vintage. I found some nice faces and tore them out and distressed the edges with my distressing tool, and stuck them down onto the box with PVA adhesive.

I also stuck down some ripped up corrugated cardboard with some of the surface paper torn away, which gives a gorgeous texture. Once the PVA was dry, I painted these pieces with gesso, and then began painting the whole surface with acrylics.

I chose a blue and green palette, and did some dry brushing with white acrylic, and once I’d got the effect I wanted, I added some iridescent gel medium which gives a gorgeous shimmery surface, and then some pearlised acrylic ink, concentrating on the textured corrugated parts. The whole thing was extremely shimmery by this time.

I created some text, “Home is where the heart is” by cutting out some words and letters from scrap printed paper in my stash, and stuck these down onto a further piece of scrap paper with regular matt gel medium, which I also used to stick the pieces down onto the surface. Before this I coloured them with Victorian Velvet Distress Ink.

Once they were laid down, I took an old credit card and added some crimson acrylic paint with the edge of the card dipped in the paint, creating frames around the words and around the face pictures. I then added some more lines using my white marker pen.

To form a border, I used more of the crimson acrylic paint, and also some dark blue, and once the border design was laid down, I went round the edges and embellished the border with the white marker pen, and finally added some shadows with a mixture of Payne’s Grey and white acrylic paint.

The final touch was to add some Treasure Gold gilding wax to the raised texture. A really shiny, shimmery effect!

Once the outside was dry, I painted the whole of the inside roughly with gesso. This will be fine once there is tissue paper inside the box, wrapping the mirror.

Here is the finished box, propped up with the edges of the lid showing. I painted these with a mixture of green acrylics.

01 Box Open

The box closed:

02 Box Closed

The sides of the lid go inside the box, and I painted the sides of the base with rich blue acrylic paint.

Now for some details. This is the bottom left corner. You can see one of the pictures I laid down, and also some of the corrugated cardboard. I love the effect of the top surface layer of paper being partially ripped away.

03 Detail 1

One of the face pictures. They are pretty subtle with the iridescent gel medium, and they also reflect the light so it’s a bit difficult to see them in the photos.

04 Detail 2

05 Detail 3

Finally a detailed shot of the text.

06 Detail of Text

I think you can see how shiny and shimmery the surface is in this photo.

A fun project to do, and I completed it in an afternoon. One day I would like to paint and embellish the rest of my pizza boxes, which are used to store various materials in my ARTHaven.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Teabag Art–Zentangle Thank You Card

Today I made a thank you card using one of the stains left by a drying teabag on watercolour paper. Using a fine Faber-Castell sepia PITT art pen I added a few zentangles, following the shapes of the stain, added an aura around the whole thing, cut it out and mounted it on foam pads on a piece of white card. To finish this off, I added a line with the sepia pen, 1/16 inch from the edge. I matted this onto a white base card which I had first distressed using Tea Dye Distress Ink and an Inkylicious Ink Duster, and stamped the sentiment using one of the stamps from the Stampin’ Up set “Lots of Thanks.”

The finished card is A5 size, and I repeated the sentiment stamp on the inside.

Zentangle Teabag Stain Thank You Card

Here is a detail of the zentangle.

Zentangle Teabag Stain Thank You Card Detail

Friday, 23 May 2014

Devon County Show 2014

Yesterday my hubby and I went to the Devon County Show in Exeter – this is something I enjoy tremendously, as it’s a splendid day out with lots to see. Yesterday the weather was pretty unsettled and in the middle of the day there was a very heavy rain storm, and it seemed as though everybody on the showground was crowded into one of the craft tents with us!

For the first time I used the buggy rather than the wheelchair, and although it was a lot of work for my hubby, getting it in and out of the car on the ramps, it was very much better for both of us – I got a lot less tired, and in previous years, the wheelchair battery always used to give out at the end, which meant my poor hubby, who was always tired after a day on his feet, had to push me all the way back up to the car park!! On the way to the show, we called in at the mobility centre in Exeter and bought a fabulous rain cape for me to use on the buggy, which will make going to church in the rain a doddle – I can also use it with the wheelchair.

Anyway – to the show. The first thing we saw was the alpacas – they are such gorgeous and unusual-looking creatures with sweet faces. They all have a dreamy smile and look so gentle! Here are some of them being judged.

01 Juding the Alpacas

Alpaca babies. Are they lambs, kids or calves?

02 Baby Alpaca

What an adorable face!

03 Alpaca Face

Alpacas for sale. I couldn’t resist photographing that bum with the legs underneath!

04 Alpacas for Sale

There was a sign which said that they made wonderfully eco-friendly lawn-mowers but despite this, my hubby said I could NOT have one for the garden!

Fleeces being judged. They were separated into different categories, e.g. lustrous, mountain, etc. There are so many varieties of sheep, each producing a different kind of fleece, used for all different purposes.

05 Fleeces

More fleeces.

06 Fleeces

I loved handling them, and feeling the lanolin on one’s skin, and also that gorgeous fragrance – a powerful reminder of my spinning days… I don’t think I could keep up work on a treadle spinning wheel these days, but there are now some imaginative alternatives available.

I was very amused to see that the main building, where the craft shows and other events are held, is turned into an enormous cattle shed during the County Show. Next time I go to a craft show I shall remember that, and realise just how much cleaning up they must have to do! Here are the cattle being hosed down ready for judging.

07 Hosing Down the Cattle

Out came a very large bull. Neither he, nor any of the other cattle, seemed to mind the pressure hoses and brushes! I expect they get used to it.

08 Large Bull

In the angora goats tent, we found Jan Tillett’s stand. I had come across her before online, on Colouricious. She makes amazing things. She had some samples of fabric with free motion machine embroidery on them, and some other techniques, where the fabric was all wrinkled up. She had applied it onto a backing of a special polyester fabric which shrinks when you steam-iron it, giving fabulous results. I bought a small piece of this fabric to try the technique.

09 Jan Tillett, Textile Artist

She also had several examples of textile created using soluble fabric, for example, the white dress on the left.

The angora goats, which produce mohair.

10 Angora Goats

A magnificent angora billy goat – look at his horns!

11 Angora Billy Goat

I spent some time on the stand of one of the angora goat exhibitors – she sells raw and dyed fleece, rovings, spun yarn etc., and I bought a small quantity of these in their undyed state. Gorgeously soft, and the fleece has a very interesting curly texture which will be fun to use. When we first arrived at her stand, she wasn’t there, and then she bustled past us with her arms full of about six or seven silver cups – she looked like a burglar making a rapid escape with the family silver! When she came back, I asked if she had won all those cups, and she said she had, and listed all the classes, including Best in Show. She said they’d never done so well.

Coming out again (by which time the sun was well and truly shining, and stayed shining for the rest of the day) we saw the Morris Dancers ready to do their stuff.

12 Morris Dancers

A mobile sweet stall. Love all the colours.

13 Sweet Stall

At last, later on, we found the batik stand – we are regular customers of Calum, who unfortunately is probably not returning again to the Devon County Show. He has a website now ( so hopefully I’ll still be able to get stuff! I’ve bought several tops and trousers from him over the years, and absolutely love wearing them.

14 Calum of Boutique Batik

The first craft tent, where we sheltered from the rain, was not that inspiring, but the second one was full of all the things I love, including the egg craft stand. I always seek out the egg ladies when I go to the shows!

15 Egg Craft

Then I came across something I’d never seen before – “Bonsire” which is bonsai trees made out of wire. The gentleman who makes them has only been doing it for about six months, and on the other side of his stand were all his quite wonderful pencil portraits of people and animals.

16 Bonsire

I took quite a number of photos of the individual pieces, but seemed to be having some problems with the focusing of my camera and most of them came out very out of focus, which is a shame. However, if you visit the Bonsire website you can see plenty of photos in the gallery, and I think you will agree that these pieces are exquisite.

17 Bonsire Details

18 Bonsire Pieces

19 Bonsire Piece

20 Bonsire Weeping Willow

Here is the Devon Lace stand. Lots of beautiful Honiton lace – this was always the finest, and most expensive lace, when it was made commercially.

21 Devon Lace

There was a marvellous felting stand, with work by several people. This was of particular interest for me, because it is something I am keen to try. I have got the basic equipment for needle felting but have not yet had the chance to try it.

22 Felt

23 Felt

This is a beautiful felted shrug, showing the front view.

24 Felted Shrug Front

The back is equally beautiful.

25 Felted Shrug Back

I loved the detail on this piece, and how the fringes were formed.

26 Felted Shrug Detail

Above the display was this amazing three-dimensional picture entitled “Peace in the Valley,” illustrating a famous passage from the Book of Isaiah prophesying the golden age of Christ’s millennial rule, when wild animals will lose their ferocity and co-exist peacefully with their erstwhile prey. This felted picture had incredible depth and was almost disturbingly “real”!

27 Peace in the Valley Felted Picture

Outside the craft tent, we found a display of heavy horses. I love these gentle giants, and for the show, they were beautifully turned out with plaited manes and gleaming polished harnesses.

29 Heavy Horses

30 Heavy Horses

Arranged around this particular arena was a marvellous collection of beautifully restored classic cars. I remember so many of these cars in my childhood, in the days when cars had a lot more character than today, and each make had a distinctive look.

31 Classic Cars

32 Classic Cars

34 Classic Cars

My final picture was taken as we came back to the car. The rain storms had cleared, and the cloud formations were so beautiful.

35 The Sky Over the Car Park

As always, it was a wonderful day out, despite the changeable weather. We were  very glad we went on the first day, because apparently today, on the news, they were saying the show had to close early because cars were getting bogged down where the fields had turned to mud. Such a pity, when so many people have put in so much hard work, to make this annual event such a success.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Dartmoor Wild Flowers

After our lunch out today, as it was such a beautiful spring day, my hubby took Mum and me on a drive up onto Dartmoor. We drove around, doing what my hubby called “Proper Sploring”! This meant that when he saw an interesting little lane turning off, he would have to go down it, just to see where it led. He is nosier than a cat, and even nosier perhaps than those of us who take part in the weekly WOYWW blog hop when we satisfy our curiosity as to what’s on each other’s work desks.

From high up on the moors, we could look down towards the wooded valleys, and in one spot we saw what we originally thought was purpley-blue plastic laid out – we said, “That can’t possibly be bluebells!” But it was. We drove down to have a look.

We stopped a few times in a wooded lane, so that Mum and I could get out and have a wander, and I got my camera out. I’m afraid some of the photos are slightly out of focus but it was hard to tell at the time because the screen on my camera isn’t that big, and the sun was extremely bright. Further up, we came upon the masses of bluebells we’d seen from above.

Here are the photos I took.

Bluebells 1

Bluebells 2

Bluebells 3

Bluebells 4


I believe our American cousins call these beautiful flowers “Blue Bonnets” which I think is charming!





Clover (a bit out of focus, I’m afraid):


Gorse – this grows in the woods adjoining the moors, and profusely on the moor itself. Very prickly, and the flowers smell of coconut.




Stitchworts – again a little out of focus:




Wall pennyworts. I love this little plant, with its delightfully round, rubbery leaves that “creak” when you move them, and the humble little green spike of a flower. Until he met me, my hubby had never heard of them, and had never noticed them, despite being brought up in the country! They are so insignificant, but so valiant, growing out of dry walls.

Wall Pennyworts

Don’t our British wild flowers have delightful names? They probably go far back into the mists of time.

Now for some non-flowering plants. Ferns unfurling:

Ferns Unfurling



Lichen. Don’t you just love that texture?


Gnarled old oak tree:

Gnarled Oak

And now some of Dartmoor’s famous dry stone walls. Many of these have been there for centuries, and they are as solid as the moor itself. Dry stone walling is an ancient craft, and while the old walls sometimes may look a bit haphazard, they are carefully planned, with the largest granite stones at the bottom (how did they even lift some of these?) and they are probably the earliest cavity walls, with a double wall being built, and the centre being filled with smaller stones, and then topped with more stones.

Dry Stone Wall 1

Dry Stone Wall 2

They get a wonderfully weathered look over the years, and in shady places, moss and lichen grow there, as well as my wall pennyworts, and sometimes little birds will nest between the stones.

Sorry, I can’t resist it – got to quote my favourite Pam Ayers poem:

I am a dry stone waller,

All day I dry stone wall.

Of all appalling callings,

Dry stone walling’s worst of all.

She may be right. Inmates of Dartmoor Prison were forced to build them, and some of the best ones are found in the vicinity of Princetown! Beats sewing mailbags, perhaps, at least in the summer.

Just before turning back for home, we drove down a tiny lane which led to some pretty thatched cottages, and found this:


I count my blessings every day, one of which is the privilege of living in such a beautiful corner of England, with all this on the doorstep, and also having a hubby who so enjoys “sploring”!

Hope you enjoyed sharing our little trip into the beautiful Devon countryside. It is certainly at its very best at this time of the year.

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