Friday, 29 July 2011

Shadow Box for our Nephew’s Wedding–Part 1

Our nephew Ben is marrying his Estonian fiancée Maria on 20th August, and I am making a silver-lined shadow box for them, something along the lines of the Silver Wedding Shadow Box I made for my hubby for our 25th anniversary back in May. I bought two identical frames at that time and had it in mind to do something similar with the second one.
I have primed the box and frame with gesso, and lined the box with silver mirror board.

For the frame, I have decided not to do crackle glaze this time, but to create a different finish using textured gesso, acrylic paints and my new iridescent acrylic gel medium - I have done some experimental pieces first, on ATC-sized card, which can now be embellished and finalised as ATCs as the results were quite successful.
There will be an acetate sheet suspended half way up as before, and this is the monogram I have designed, to be printed on the acetate:

To create this, I first did a pencil drawing, which I then traced, and made a better copy which was completed with a permanent black marker pen, as a simple outline design. This was the first thing I scanned using my new Canon machine! When I had got the drawing onto the computer, I opened the image in Serif DrawPlus, created a new layer, and re-traced it digitally – the original drawing had several mistakes and unsteady lines etc., and this way, I was able to tidy it up properly. I then created yet another layer, got rid of the original scanned drawing, and added the colour fill, using a brush effect, and exported the whole thing as a png image, which is what you see above.
Unlike on my hubby’s frame, this printed design will not occupy the whole space, but will be reduced in size to go in the bottom right hand corner. The top left corner will be occupied by the iridescent butterfly I have made for the purpose. I am very pleased that the unpainted reverse of this butterfly, which has a beautiful finish, will not be hidden, because it will be reflected in the mirror board.

(You can see full details of that project here – and the two following posts on the same subject.) The flowers I intend making for this project will not be roses – I’ve done an awful lot of roses recently and I am anxious for a change! Before I got my cutting machine, I downloaded the pdf version of Penny Duncan’s hibiscus flower and made up quite a few of these:

They took ages, as I had to print out the shapes and then cut them out by hand, but with Jiminy Cricut I shall be well away and have some more made in a jiffy, because I have used up most of these now, on projects such as this.
I have now painted the frame. The first stage was to add another layer of gesso, this time with a palette knife, and I stamped into it with rubber stamps. Unfortunately I don’t think the gesso was quite thick enough, because the impressions are not as obvious as on the test ATC piece, and I’m not so pleased with the results. Here is the frame with the first layer of acrylic paint in ultramarine.

After sealing it with some soft gloss gel medium, I added the cadmium yellow and Hooker’s green:

I wasn’t happy with how it turned out – there was too much yellow, so I added more green, and then some more blue… It was becoming much less defined than the original test piece, and also quite dark, so I added a wash of titanium white with some GAC-100 acrylic polymer, and then finished up with a layer of iridescent gel medium.


Frankly I’m a bit disappointed in the result; it looks too muddy, and the stamping isn’t obvious enough. I am going to apply some silver Treasure Gold when it arrives (I’ve got some on order) and this might pick out the shapes a bit better. Short of stripping it all off and starting again, I think I’m going to have to be content with what I’ve done because time is fairly limited, and there’s still quite a lot do do on this project. When the floral embellishments are on, it might look better.
I have not yet decided what to do with the mount; I’d like to continue the blue-green theme if possible, and maybe tie it in with the silver mirrored lining; I’ve been looking at a technique for painting foil with acrylics which looks very interesting, and I might do something like that; again I shall have to experiment first.
I do hate it when things don’t go exactly to plan, but this is a fairly new area for me, and it’s a lot of trial and error really. I just hope that when I’ve finished it, I think it’s good enough to give them, and that they like it!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Iridescent Butterfly–Part 3

Since my last post, I have had a search online, and have sourced some lovely fine copper wire covered with cotton - it is .45 mm diameter, so compared with my DIY wrapped wire which measures approximately .9 mm, it should be a lot better. What's more, it's a natural, off white colour and I can colour it how I want.

I got it from www.wires.co.uk in case anyone is interested. Hopefully my future projects will have a slightly less chunky look! (Not sure if this present butterfly would actually manage to get airborne...)

After completing the smaller pair of wings, I was now ready to assemble the butterfly.

I deliberately used nice long pieces of wire for the main outline of the wing in each case, to give me more to play with during the assembly stage – any excess could easily be cut off.

To make the body of the butterfly, I took a piece of uncovered wire and threaded a small bead onto it. I then doubled the wire over so that the bead was at the folded end, and twisted the ends together a couple of times.

The two ends were then threaded through a series of beads to form the body, and the wires emerging from the head end were bend outwards to form the antennae.

I stripped off the florist’s tape from the long pieces of wire from each wing, and twisted each one a couple of times around the body to anchor it in place. You could shape the ends to form two pairs of legs, and add another length of wire, doubled over in the middle, to form the third set of legs; you would add a tiny loop at each end to form a foot, to complete the butterfly. This would make a nice finish, but in this case I’ve decided to leave out the legs and simply stick the butterfly to my project, as there will not be much room in the frame, and the legs wouldn’t be seen anyway, so I trimmed off the long ends.

After wrapping the wires around the body, the whole thing was far too mobile, and the wings were twisting all over the place, so after trimming the wires short, I ran a little Pinflair glue along the underside of the body, squashing it between the beads to anchor everything, and when it was dry, it was fine. I also superglued the second pair of wings along their edges, underneath the larger wings, to hold them in place.

When I have made wire butterflies in the past, I have looped the ends of the antennae around a tiny bead with my jewellery pliers, but in this case, I decided to repeat the Gallery Glass technique on their tips – just a tiny piece of cellophane, decorated as for the wings. There is no florist’s tape on this wire, and I was hoping that the Gallery Glass will stick OK; the butterfly will be enclosed within the frame so it won’t be subject to any wear and tear, so hopefully it will be OK.

The above picture shows the antennae bent into shape, and sellotaped down temporarily onto a piece of paper to anchor them in place, nice and flat against the cellophane. The butterfly needed a bit more support to keep the antennae flat, and in the next picture, you can see it propped up with scraps of mounting board, and I’ve also put some pieces under the cellophane to press it up against the wires. You can see the wet Gallery Glass on the antenna tips, still milky in appearance.

During the drying process, the Gallery Glass did seem to be slipping off the wires a bit, so I scooped it back with a stylus several times, until the Gallery Glass started to set, and after that it seemed to hold OK. I think this goes to prove that using covered wire is definitely better.

After the Gallery Glass had dried and become completely transparent, I removed the sellotape and mounting board props, and trimmed away the excess cellophane from around the wires, and painted and glittered them as I did with the wings. Here is the completed butterfly.

Here is a detail of the beaded body, showing the wing attachments. You can see the tiny bead at the tip, with the twisted wire.

The next picture is a detail of the finished antennae.

Finally, here is a picture of the butterfly on a piece of silver mirror board, showing the undersides of the wings reflected; this is how the butterfly will be on the shadow box project, but it will be on a piece of acetate away from the reflective surface so that more of the underside should be visible.

Please see my upcoming blog posts on our nephew’s wedding present to see how I use this butterfly.

I think this technique produces simply gorgeous results, and I’m so grateful to GardenOfImagination for her excellent 8-part Youtube tutorial on the subject – whether you’re into fairies or not, most people love butterflies! You could also use it to make flower petals, leaves, fish, mobiles, abstract shapes… wherever your imagination leads you!

WOYWW 112

I can’t believe a week has passed since my first post on WOYWW. (For anyone who doesn’t know what this is about, click on the WOYWW link on the right of my blog.)

Here’s my work table today:

On the left is a pile of ATC-sized pieces of mounting board that I’ve painted with gesso ready for use. I’ve been experimenting with texture in gesso over the past few days, and in the middle of my table you can see my first three efforts, and on the right, the final one, which I am really pleased with, and this is the technique I am going to use to decorate the frame you can see just above it – you can also see a selection of rubber stamps and some acrylic paints on the left, and a couple of acrylic blocks, which I have been using in my experiments.

The frame has been primed with gesso, and its box lined with silver mirror board in readiness for decorating. There will be a sheet of acetate suspended across half way up, printed with the initials of our nephew and his bride, and attached to this acetate sheet will be the iridescent butterfly (now completed) that you can see just above my gesso samples, together with some of the materials and equipment I’ve been using (gesso, iridescent gel medium, iridescent acrylic ink, foam brush, Gallery Glass…)

I have done blog posts about all these things, and will be updating them all over the next few days, energy and time permitting.

I’ve been having such FUN this week with all these techniques, and can’t wait to try loads more stuff. Although the frame has a deadline on it, and is for a specific purpose (our nephew’s wedding present), I have finished all the things I had to do in the first half of this year (loads of special birthdays etc. in our family) and I’ve been looking forward to having some time for what the scientists call “pure research” with no specific aim in view! There’s so much more I need to be doing than simply making cards in order to feel fulfilled (although the demands of family and friends make this necessary, and it’s not too arduous) and I am learning a lot at the moment about new materials and techniques and am keen to put them to good use.

Have a great WOYWW, everybody!

Monday, 25 July 2011

More Experiments with Texture in Gesso

I’ve been thinking about where I went wrong when trying to stamp into wet gesso the other day, and I think my main problem was applying the gesso much too thick. It’s fine to do it really thick when you’re creating texture with the pallette knife, or drawing into the surface with a stylus, but if you stamp into thick gesso, it pulls away with the stamp when you lift it, leaving an unrecognisable mess.

Today I have cut a whole lot more ATC shapes out of mounting board and painted them with a thin layer of gesso ready for decorating, so that I’ve got plenty in hand for when I need them.

I started experimenting with some rubber stamps on one of them, to see if this is the effect I want on my frame.

I also used a bottle top, a dowel and a pointed stylus to add some extra detail to the texture. Using the same colour scheme as my blue-green test piece yesterday, here it is with the initial layer of ultramarine, applied straight from the tube and spread over the surface with my finger, and rubbed back with a damp paper towel. I’ve left more of the paint on the butterfly and other motifs.

Applying the cadmium yellow and Hooker’s green after sealing it with soft gel medium, I’ve tried to avoid the bits I want more blue, but allowed the colours to spread over the blue parts with the damp paper towel, so that they are slightly more blue than the rest, but not obviously so.

The final stage was to apply a layer of iridescent gel medium with a brush over the whole surface, and then to rub it back vigorously with a damp paper towel. This had the effect of making the whole surface pearlised, but the motifs more so, as the texture trapped the gel. It also served to soften and blend all the colours together in a more subtle way, and brings out the texture as it reflects the light. Not sure how much the difference shows on the photos.

I think this is the effect I’m going for on my frame, as the blue tones well with the butterfly. Some time ago I managed to get hold of some scraps of the material that the bridesmaids’ dresses will be made from – I wanted to carry through their colour scheme in this wedding present – and I think the rich blue and green will go quite well. I am going to make some blue paper flowers and rich green leaves to embellish the frame.

Oh, and finally, I was going to order some Rub ‘n Buff today, and found Treasure Gold instead (made by Plaid, who make the Gallery Glass I’ve used on my butterfly) – it looks a lot easier to use, being in a tub rather than a tube. I’ve ordered gold, silver and bronze, and will be interested to see if the gold shows up better on yesterday’s test pieces than the gold Perfect Pearls. I am sure it will be a useful addition to my supplies, and I’m looking forward to trying it.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Experiments with Texture in Gesso

I'm trying to decide how to decorate the frame for our nephew's wedding present, and having decided against crackle glaze this time, am doing some experiments with gesso, which can give some lovely textures.

My first attempts at stamping into it were a total disaster - I've seen Youtube videos where people get lovely results, and having taken some advice, it seems that gessos vary in thickness, and mine may be too wet. I'm just getting to the end of a tub of Cryla gesso, and once this is finished, I've got some Golden, which I hope may be better. It has been suggested that I wait a while for the gesso to dry a bit, and I am also considering spreading it less thickly.

I've decided to work small to start with, and have textured and painted three ATC-sized pieces of thick chipboard. The one on the right, with the all over peaks, reminds me unpleasantly of Artex - remember that awful stuff that people used to put all over their walls and ceilings in the 70s and 80s? Yeugh... impossible to get off too... nightmarish stuff! I did this one by pressing a Fiskar's texture plate into the gesso and then lifting it off. It was the least unsatisfactory of the three - the other two I tried with deeply-etched rubber stamps and was left with a total mess.

I left the peaked one as it was, as I quite liked the effect even if it wasn't what I'd intended, and then swirled some designs into the gesso on the other two, using my palette knife and the back end of a paintbrush handle.

Following some directions which I discovered on Youtube, I am painting these three small pieces with acrylic paint in three layers, starting with the lightest colour and working darker.

Here they are after the first layer.

I put the paint on straight from the tube, dotting it randomly three or four times on the sample, and then rubbing it over the surface with my finger. The first one is done with a mixture of cadmium yellow with a little burnt umber; the second is just cadmium yellow, and the third one is ultramarine. I rubbed all over the surface with a dampened paper towel, and then started to rub in more specific areas, taking the colour right back.

After they were dry (the joy of acrylics is that they are sooo quick to dry!) I painted on a thin layer of gloss gel medium with a brush, and left that to dry. This protects the paint layer so that it is not damaged by rubbing the next layer.

The second layer made them look a bit more interesting.

The one on the left is done with cadmium red; the middle one with crimson alizarin and yellow ochre, rubbing most of it off the surround so that the heart remains red, and the right hand one with chrome yellow and Hooker's green.

The final layer was much darker; I did not put any on the blue/green sample because I liked it as it was, but on the first two, I put on aquamarine and burnt umber, rubbing it well into the texture and then rubbing most of it off; on the red heart sample, I left more in the centre and rubbed the surround almost back to the red/orange colour.

Here are the samples, one by one, showing more of the detail.

On this first one, I have picked out the heart and swirls with gold Perfect Pearls. This doesn't really show up on the photo, I'm afraid, but it's quite iridescent. My hubby has got some gold Rub 'n Buff which I borrowed once, and asked him if I could borrow it again, but unfortunately he couldn't find it (must get some of my own!) so I had to use the Perfect Pearls instead, and I don't think the result is quite as good.

On the second one, I have added gold Perfect Pearls again, this time just on the heart and the deep texturing in the centre.

This doesn't show up on the photo at all! I don't know what it is about photographing shiny things but it never seems to come out properly, so you'll just have to take my word for it - it's quite gold!

The final sample I decided to rotate through 90 degrees as I preferred it in "portrait" format - it looks like seaweed under the sea.

On this one, I haven't added any Perfect Pearls, but I painted a little acrylic iridescent gel medium along the top, fading it into the centre part of the sample. I also picked out the texture along the bottom with some Glossy Accents. Again, the camera hasn't picked up these additions at all, which is rather disappointing.

I think I quite like the colouring of the blue/green one for my frame, but not with this texture. I need to practise some more and see if I can stamp into wet gesso without making a total mess; I am thinking of adding some butterflies and hearts, and maybe a few simple flowers, and picking out the highlights of the texture with some silver Rub 'n Buff if I can get some.

Meanwhile, I think my time has been used quite profitably this afternoon, and I am pleased with my first attempt at painting textures in gesso. I want to try using molding paste, which I have read takes Distress Inks much better than gesso does, and see what emerges.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Iridescent Butterfly–Part 2

Back again – I wasn’t able to do any yesterday, because I was busy setting up my new printer. Today, the Gallery Glass on my wings has now fully dried, and I can move on to the next stage.

I have trimmed off the cellophane from around the wings. You can see how iridescent they are already, and they can be left like this if you want. Dragonfly wings would be gorgeous like this, but you would need thinner wire.

After trimming, the edges have to be heat set, so going carefully with the heat gun, with the wing edge on, I went round each wing until the edge of the cellophane melted.

On this close-up shot, you can see that the edge is slightly rounded.

Heating the wings does soften the Gallery Glass and superglue a bit, so it’s important not to handle them too much until they are thoroughly cooled, or they will get damaged.

The next stage is to paint them. I am using Daler Rowney Pearlescent liquid acrylic in the colour Galactic Blue, which is a gorgeous vibrant colour. The wings will need two coats, drying thoroughly between each coat.

Here are the wings after the first coat. You will notice that I’ve painted over the wires too. This makes them look slightly less obvious – they are a bit thick!

When you’ve painted the second coat, before it is dry, you can sprinkle a little ultra-fine poly-glitter onto the wings. It’s best not to use too much. Using the silvery-white glitter, it doesn’t look much when you first put it on…

…but once the wings have been set aside to dry thoroughly, the glitter is heat set using the heat gun, and this has the effect of bringing out all the gorgeous colours in the glitter. (Using any other colour of glitter, heating it would not have any effect.) I'm afraid the photo doesn't do it justice - I can never understand why sparkly or shimmery effects come out so badly on photographs!

I have not painted the backs of the wings. The blue acrylic on the front deepens the iridescence of the cellophane on the back, and I love this effect. It will not be lost in the project I am using this butterfly in, either, because the back will be reflected in a layer of silver mirror card.

You can paint the backs with black acrylic paint if you like, and this will make the blue on the front darker and richer. It’s all a matter of personal taste. I prefer to keep the surface colour as it is, because it will match my project better.

I am quite pleased with the result of this first pair of wings, despite the wire being a bit thicker than I wanted, so I’m going to go ahead and make the smaller pair. I am going to look around for some thin, already covered wire, which should make life easier.

To be continued…

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Iridescent Butterfly–Part 1

This is a new technique for me, which I learned from this series of Youtube videos – fairies and all that stuff are definitely not my thing, but I thought the technique could be used to make beautiful butterflies. I love to adapt techniques for my own use, and interpret ideas to suit my own creativity. This technique is a fairly fiddly, labour-intensive business, but I’m sure you’ll agree from the videos, the results are stunning.

If this is successful, and suitable, I’m intending to use it on the shadow box I’m making for our nephew’s wedding next month.

Once I’ve mastered the technique, I shall get myself organised, and make quite a few at once, so that I can progress in stages as each part is left to dry, etc.

The materials required are vellum, iridescent cellophane, wire (preferably covered; I used florist’s tape), superglue, Plaid Gallery Glass (crystal clear), iridescent acrylic paint or ink, or fluid acrylic paint mixed with iridescent medium, and ultra-fine poly-glitter. Embellishments such as gems can be added as well. I found it easier to place the wires using a pair of fine tweezers, and you need a pair of wire clippers (I used my Tim Holtz shears which can cut sheet metal and wire). You also need a pointed tool to spread the Gallery Glass, some paint brushes, your normal drawing stuff and a heat gun. Finally, a warning – you do need quite a lot of patience!!

The first step was to draw the design. When I was satisfied with it, I traced it onto a piece of vellum, and went over it with a fine permanent black marker. Vellum is more substantial than tracing paper, but still translucent. The design has to be done on this so that it can be turned over, and a mirror image made from the other side. This avoids having to make a symmetrical drawing, which would take unnecessary time and effort.

The maker of the video suggested using wire that was covered, to make it easier for everything to stick onto it. I didn’t have anything like that, but I’ve got some 24-guage wire which I wrapped with black florist’s tape and hoped that would do the trick – it came out thicker than I’d hoped, so this may be a non-starter. If so, I shall try it with uncovered wire and see if it really makes any difference. I’m making only one pair of wings to try it out, so that I don’t waste a lot of time and materials if I have got it wrong.

The next step is to cut a small piece of iridescent cellophane and lay it over the pattern.

You have to bend the wire around, following the shape of the pattern, cutting off short lengths and laying them down so that everything is covered except for the outer outline of the wing. Cut the main, inner outline pieces of wire quite a bit longer than the actual wing so that there is plenty available to twist together to assemble the butterfly and form the body and legs. The wires are anchored down onto the cellophane with spots of superglue where they touch one another.

When the first wing is finished, the pattern is slipped out from underneath, turned over, and put back so that the second wing can be formed.

(On this picture, you can see my original butterfly wing drawings on the large piece of paper, with the vellum pattern piece on top,)

Rather than doing the upper and lower butterfly wings in one piece, I’ve decided to do them separately, and have started with the larger, top pair.

When the superglue stage is finished, it is set aside to dry – this actually takes a lot longer than I thought, maybe because I was using superglue gel. I finished that stage late at night and left it till the following day.

Next you have to use a substance called Gallery Glass, made by Plaid. This is a range of products for making faux stained glass windows – something I’d quite like to try one day! They have a gorgeous range of colours, but for our purposes, all we need is the crystal clear.

Using the nozzle on the top of the bottle, you follow the outline of the wires glued onto the cellophane. I think I may have made the hole in the top of the nozzle a bit big because it came out pretty fast, and it was more runny than I expected. (Another time I shall probably decant some gallery glass into a syringe or small bottle such as an empty Stickles bottle, which might give a bit more control.) It is important to do the wires first, so that they are thoroughly glued down when the Gallery Glass is dry. After doing the outline, the spaces are filled in, by dropping a bit of Gallery Glass onto the cellophane and spreading it out to the wires with a pointed tool. On the unwired, outer edge, the Gallery Glass can be feathered out a bit with the pointed tool, to give a thin, delicate edge.

It’s not critical to be absolutely accurate in following the lines, either with the gluing down of the wires, or the Gallery Glass; the pattern is a guide only, and in nature there are always slight irregularities anyway.

After the Gallery Glass is applied, it takes a good long time to dry, so it’s best to leave it overnight. It goes on white, but dries crystal clear.

To be continued…

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

My New Printer

I recently upgraded my big laptop, the one I use for all my graphics work, to Windows 7 64-bit, and was pleasantly surprised that almost everything was compatible, apart from my file management program (a Windows Explorer replacement – I loathe Windows Explorer, which could be improved in oh-so many ways!) and my scanner. I was very disappointed that Canon had not provided an up-to-date driver for this scanner, because it’s a good one, and I’m used to it. As my small laptop also runs on Windows 7, I can’t use that with it either.

So… reluctantly I decided I’d have to buy a new scanner. (There is some software available to buy, which works with many different scanners, but when I downloaded the trial version, it wouldn’t work because the computer first has to recognise the scanner, which mine refused to do.)

When I looked online, I was horrified at how much I’d have to spend on a half-way decent one, and went off to bed in disgust. The next day, I went on the Crafter’s Companion forum, which I’m ashamed to say I don’t visit as often as I should (they’re a great bunch, and it’s full of information and fun) and without intending to, I immediately found a post about printers, and which was the best for people working with different media such as thick card. My Epson photo printer with its 6 separate ink cartridges is a nice printer, and doesn’t need replacing, but it is hopeless with anything thicker than very thin card, which is pretty useless for a lot of what I want to do. Someone on the forum recommended a Canon all-in-one printer/scanner which took everything she could throw at it, so I had a look, and found they were less expensive than stand-alone scanners! (Something really crazy going on here…)

I decided to solve both my problems in one go, and ordered one from Amazon, and it came today. It’s a Canon Pixma MP280 and I got it for £29, free postage! I am highly delighted. So far all I’ve done is get it out of the box and set it up on the desk – after this I crashed and had to rest for the rest of the day, until about 11.30 p.m. when I started to feel better. I’ve been working in my ARTHaven since then, so tomorrow I’m intending to install the driver and get it all connected up to the computer, and we’ll see what this new baby can do for me!

Here it is, just out of the box.

I had a terrible job getting all that orange sellotape off it – the instruction book said to remove it, but half of it wouldn’t come off because you had to follow the next instructions and open the thing up to pull the last bits off! The instruction book isn’t that brilliant, I don’t think – I hate having to battle through loads of different languages etc. etc. I shall probably use the online pdf English version once I’ve got it set up.

Here it is in its final position, ready for use as soon as I can get the driver installed.

Smart, isn’t it. Just hope it works as good as it looks!! I’ll let you know how I get on with it.

WOYWW 111

I’ve decided to sign up for the “What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday” blog hop. I haven’t taken part in a blog hop before and don’t really know much about it, and have seen the “WOYWW” acronym everywhere and have wondered vaguely what it was all about for some time now. Today there’s an explanation of it all here so having read it, I thought it would be fun to join in!

Basically it’s an opportunity to share on blogland what you are doing each Wednesday. People photograph their workdesk “as is” – it doesn’t matter if it’s a mess (quite normal, I’d say!!) and it’s a lovely opportunity to follow new blogs, make new friends, see what everyone’s up to.

Here’s my workdesk today. I’m really thrilled. My new printer arrived this morning, and as you can see, it’s still got all its sticky tape all over it as I’m in the process of unpacking it.

Also on my desk is the butterfly I’m working on. This is probably going on our nephew’s wedding present – a shadow box like the one I made for my hubby for our Silver Wedding – I got the idea from a brilliant set of Youtube videos on making fairy wings (I have to say up front that I’m not a big fan of fairies and all that stuff, but the technique can be adapted for gorgeous butterflies).

I’ll be doing a post about the butterfly – this is a first attempt and I think the wire may be too thick for the size of the butterfly, but we shall see. Watch this space…

Have a great Wednesday, everybody.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Fan-Tastic Birthday Card

I haven’t blogged for quite a while because I’ve been suffering a bit of a dip health-wise, and was hoping I was finally climbing back out of it, when I got a stomach upset last Friday which laid me low over the weekend. Today, however, I’m feeling a lot better and have been in my ARTHaven for a good long session, and actually completed a project!!!

Next Sunday is my cousin’s birthday, and I always try to make her a card, as she’s been an expert card maker for many years and I try my best to impress!

This year I decided to do the fan card I’ve been wanting to make for ages. Last year I bought a set of fan stamps which I haven’t really used yet. The first step was to fold a piece of black A4 cardstock to an A5 portrait card, and I stamped 3 of the fans on with Versamark, which I then heat-embossed using black embossing powder.

I stamped one more on a separate piece of card, this time using gold embossing powder, and I cut this out and stuck it onto a further piece of black card to strengthen it, trimming it to the fan shape.

I picked out the design using bright pink acrylic paint, and when this was dry, I covered it with Ranger Glossy Accents, and while this was still wet, I added some purple gems, using some larger ones for the fan handle.

When it was all dry, I tied a bow around the handle, using some thin pale gold ribbon. I found a gold cup sequin and a slightly smaller pink cup sequin, and glued these together, placing yet another gem in the centre, and stuck this to the bow, and then covered the whole surface of this little button with more Glossy Accents.

I recently bought a 5-in-1 punch off Ebay, which is very versatile, and can be placed anywhere on the paper or card because it has no hinge, but works with magnets. You can punch corners, borders, squares and rectangles, two sizes of circles and an oval with this punch. They make several different designs but I chose the one called “Honor” which I particularly liked.

These pictures show how the punch pieces engage. The four metal circles surrounding the punch on each part are the magnets.

On this next picture you can see the guides printed on the base piece, which you use to line up the work once you’ve punched the first part. You continue to move the card around after each punch, following the particular guide for the shape you’ve chosen. Each one has small coloured projections which anchor the punched card in place.

It’s an extremely clever design and works very well – it is fairly hard work to punch with as you have to make sure you push down firmly, and absolutely vertically, which means you really have to stand up to do it, but it makes a really satisfying “crrrrunch” as the punch goes through the card!

I used this punch to make the small-sized circle in the centre of the card, punching it from some pink cardstock, which I then distressed with Victorian Velvet distress ink to start with, and then Dusty Concord (this is my latest Distress Ink and I absolutely love it – PURPLE!!! I love purple…) I used my wonderful Inkylicious Ink Dusters – those gorgeous brushes for inking which are so soft and delicate to use – you can do the fancy punched edges of paper or card with them without damaging it.

To finish this circle, I stamped the middle with a script stamp I’ve got, using Victorian Velvet distress ink, and glued it down onto the card with Pinflair photo glue. When this was dry, it was a simple matter to rub away the excess from the edges and from the punched detail.

The whole embellished fan was then stuck down onto the circle using foam pads to give some dimension. To save on my foam pads, I cut an inch square of mounting board to support the middle, as this wouldn’t be seen from the side.

I heat-embossed the Happy Birthday text using gold embossing powder onto more of the black cardstock, and matted and layered this with a small piece of gold mirror card, and then some more of the pink card, distressed as before, and this was also stuck to the card using foam pads.

The final touch on the outside of the card was to decorate the corners with my new 5-in-1 punch.

I made the card insert from white 100 g/sm paper, and printed the sentiment “Have a Fan-Tastic Birthday” inside on the computer, using Edwardian Script font in purple (48-point, as far as I remember) – yes, I know, a bit naff but I couldn’t resist it!! (My hubby groaned…) I distressed the corners of the outside of the insert using the same colours as before, so that the colour would show through the punched corners of the card.

The inside of the card insert was distressed around the edges using the same colours as before, and I then used the fan stamps again, this time using Victorian Velvet distress ink. The card insert was attached to the card with a strip of double-sided tape on the inside of the front of the card, close to the fold, so that when you open the card, the insert opens as well.

On the plain white envelope, I distressed the edges to match, and then stamped a couple more fans, using Victorian Velvet distress ink. The hand-writing on the envelope and inside the card was done with a matching purple gel pen.

Hope she really enjoys her Fan-Tastic Birthday card!

Embellishments…

Making this card, I thought it would be a good idea to make up a collection of embellishments to go in my stash. I’m going to cut a series of circles and ovals, using my new punch, and distress them and maybe stamp a background onto them, and then add a variety of things, such as more stamped shapes cut out, with added embossing, painting, Glossy Accents, gems, etc. etc. to co-ordinate with the colour of the circle or oval. I thought it would also be nice to make some up using paper flowers as well, and maybe some embossed sentiments etc.

A relatively plain card could be made up, maybe with some Cuttlebug embossing and/or distress inks, or maybe some self-coloured stamped embossing as on this fan card, and with the addition of a bit of ribbon, these cards could be made up quite quickly.

My big stash of cards that I made after the last craft show, with inking over an embossed resist, have nearly all gone now, and I need to make up some more! My mum has also asked if I’d make her some more cards to send to people as she’s finished the ones I made her for Christmas in her Stationery Box, so I think this will probably have to be my next project after I’ve finished our nephew’s wedding present, before I start my experimental art work that I haven’t yet had a chance to begin (there’s always something that has to be done, isn’t there!!).

So… watch this space, and we’ll see what we come up with.

I found some real bargains on Ebay last week, including some simply gorgeous brads… Take a look at these!

When I opened the box they looked good enough to eat – like sweets! Good thing I’m on a diet, isn’t it. The seller sent me a lovely message that I so identified with – she said she loves brads and hates to use them up! I know exactly what she means. I’ve got quite a few lovely bits and pieces that I’m reluctant to use because I like looking at them and don’t want to part with them! Silly really… Some of these brads are going to be used for the centre of some flowers I want to make. I’ve been trying to think of a way that I might be able to make my own fancy brads but haven’t come up with anything 100% satisfactory yet; there are one or two ideas on Youtube but nothing that grabbed me particularly.

Hoping I am now going to be well enough for a while to spend lots of time in my ARTHaven. I’ve got some exciting new ideas to try, some of which I’m hoping to incorporate into my current project, our nephew’s wedding present.