Thursday, 31 May 2012

Wedding Anniversary Card for my Parents

Today is my parents’ 65th wedding anniversary – not bad going, is it!! I have spent this afternoon making a card for them.

I took some bright turquoise-blue card and trimmed it to size to mat onto an A5 card, and stamped it all over with Versamark, using a U-Mount texture stamp in a cracked, or crazy paving pattern, overlapping the stamped areas to give a good coverage. I then sprinkled on clear embossing powder and heat embossed it.

Using Chipped Sapphire Distress Ink and an Inkylicious Ink Duster, I inked in from the edges so that the stamped pattern showed through as the original blue against a darker background, fading into the centre where there was no inking. I sprinkled a little water over the background and then blotted it off for a splatter effect but it is very subtle and not at all obvious!

I then took two swirl stamps, the first a Crafty Individuals one and the other from the Stamp Barn, and stamped these onto the top two-thirds of the background, using Versamark, and then heat-embossed them using silver embossing powder.

I stamped the sentiment with Versamark, using my new alphabet stamp set, onto a scrap of the same blue card, and then heat embossed the letters with silver embossing powder. I cut each letter out and glued them down onto strips of silver mirror card, using Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive (the best wet glue I have ever used!). These strips were then stuck down onto the card using the same glue.

The card base was made from a sheet of plain white A4 card, folded to A5 and trimmed slightly, and then inked with Weathered Wood Distress Ink, and the embossed card was then matted and layered onto this.

The final touch was to add a purchased white feather butterfly with silver glitter and gems, adhering it with hot glue over the silver swirls.

Another project done in the nick of time – it is now 4 p.m. and my parents are arriving for fish and chips at 6 p.m.!! Phew…

Mixed Media–Altered Box–Sea Theme

I have altered a small box for a birthday present for a friend. I bought these boxes at a craft show. They were originally brown in colour, and at the time I painted them all with cheap decorating primer in readiness for altering when the time came – I haven’t done very many of them yet.

While doing this, I decided to alter another two boxes while I was at it, covering them with scraps of tissue paper in blues and greens, attaching them with regular matt gel medium.

This is the first layer going on. First I painted the box with the gel medium, and then with the loaded brush, picked up each piece of tissue paper and laid it on the box, painting more gel medium on top and spreading out the wrinkles as much as possible. However careful I was, I still managed to get gel medium all over my fingers and the work surface – thank goodness for non-stick craft sheets!

Here are the next layers going on.

At this stage I thought it was looking a bit too stark and needed toning down, so I applied a final layer of tissue paper all over, in a pale blue shade which allowed the other colours to show through.

I gradually built up this layer until I got the effect I wanted. This next photo was taken while the gel medium was still wet, but when it dried, the underlying colours showed up a bit more.

Now time to add some embellishments.

Firstly I added some yarn on the box and lid sides and top, to resemble waves or ripples. Another very sticky and messy job!

Here is a mock-up of how the embellishments on the lid would appear.

The starfish and shell I made some time ago when I did a batch production of mould making and Friendly Plastic casting (mostly gear wheels and other steampunk parts). The small pebbles have been pinched from the supply I made for my Choc-a-Bloc mixed media project (still a work in progress).

I painted the small embellishments initially with a mixture of yellow ochre and white acrylic paint. When this was dry I added a bit more colour to give some dimension and make them look more realistic.

I lined the inside of the boxes with just the pale blue tissue paper, building it up until it was the right colour, using the regular matt gel medium as before, but not lining the sides of the lid because otherwise the lids won’t go on – I’d already added a bit of thickness to the outside of the boxes, but did try to keep it to a minimum. The lids are quite a tight fit as it is. When the lining was as I wanted it, I painted a final layer of gel medium over it, and then added some gold gilding flakes, picking them up individually with a brush loaded with gel medium, and laying them down where I wanted, and finally painting over them with gel medium so they were properly anchored. I think this gives an interesting effect, and I like the way the gold is slightly dulled by the matt finish of the gel medium. (If you didn’t want this effect, you could always apply them using a gloss medium instead.)

To finish the inside of the lid, I painted the sides with a mixture of green and white acrylic paint to co-ordinate with the green of the outside, and I also carefully painted this along the edges of the box and lid to cover up the white.

In the centre of the lid, using a small palette knife, I applied a small quantity of coarse pumice gel medium coloured with the same yellow ochre and white mixture I used to paint the embellishments, to represent sand. The final touches were to add some Glossy Accents to form a small rock pool in the sand, and I applied a very light touch of Treasure Gold metallic wax (like Rub ’n Buff) to the yarn to give a bit of sparkle.

With a colour-co-ordinated card, I think this makes a nice gift, especially for my friend who loves the sea!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

WOYWW 156–Altered Boxes, Zentangle Art and a Birthday Card

Time for the world’s most famous nosey fest again – courtesy of our lovely Julia who tries to keep us all under control – click on the link in my sidebar to take you to her blog to find out what it’s all about, and join in if you dare like!

Today is my birthday, and we are going out, and I’m already running pretty well on empty so I can’t guarantee how active a participant in WOYWW I shall be this week. This is my desk as of yesterday.

I’ve been working on a birthday present for a friend. It’s her birthday today too and as usual I’ve been working at the last minute. We’ve been too busy for comfort recently and what with all the extra activity and also the hot weather, I’ve not been very well and haven’t had any reserves for being in my ARTHaven but it’s been a bit cooler these past couple of days, and I’ve been working hard, trying to finish the project in time. I bought some little plain boxes for altering at a craft show a while back, and I’m giving my friend one of these. I thought I’d work on two others at the same time. They are being covered with different coloured scraps of tissue paper, stuck down with regular matt gel medium and then embellished. I’ve got on quite a bit further since this photo was taken, and my friend’s box is now finished apart from drying time. I shall be doing a separate blog post about the whole project so won’t go into a lot of detail here, but if you’re interested to see how the boxes turn out, watch this space!

On the desk you can see bits of the tissue paper, my gesso and gel medium, some acrylic paints to paint the small embellishments (a starfish and a shell, and a few of my air dry clay pebbles made for my on-going Choc-a-Bloc project – no, Julia, they really are NOT Imperial Mints lol!!). I’ve added some yarn to the first box as well, to make a wave/ripple texture. Also on the desk is my palette with a piece of damp kitchen roll draped over it in an attempt to keep some acrylic paint from drying out! Looks pretty manky, doesn’t it.

For the benefit of those of you who only visit my blog for WOYWW, I thought I’d show you my latest zentangle art which I did this week, which I have propped up at the back of the desk. Here’s a larger version. She is called “La Bella” – “The Beauty” – and I hope she lives up to her name! (The link will take you to the post about this, which also includes some sketches from my zentangle journal.)

Last night I made a card for my friend to go with her present – when I made my hubby’s card for our anniversary, I made two almost identical backgrounds and used the second of these, and I deliberately made the box to co-ordinate with it. It’s a relatively simple card, with a stamped heat-embossed sentiment, and some flowers cut with my old Cricut cutting machine a while back, which I had in my stash of flat white flower cut-outs which I can then colour and embellish as required. In this case they were coloured with Distress Stains (Faded Jeans, Broken China, Peeled Paint, Pine Needles and Picket Fence) and hand embossed, and the veins being painted in with Pumice Stone Distress Ink, and layered and applied with Pinflair glue. The centres of the flowers were done with Stickles. The whole thing is matted onto some plain white card which I have distressed using Broken China Distress Ink.

Sorry to be so hopeless at visiting everyone last week – given how busy I’m going to be this week too (and no doubt having to recover afterwards) I can’t guarantee I’ll do a lot better this week. Thanks to everyone who visited last week – I really appreciate all your lovely comments, and those who have decided to follow me.

Happy WOYWW, and have a great week, everyone, with lots of opportunity for creativity.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Zentangles–Journal Pages and Art Work “La Bella”

(Post edited for copyright reasons.)

I’ve been drawing again! I’ve finally got round to uploading my most recent journal pages – sketches and “step-outs” (step-by-step instructions) for various patterns I’ve found online which I like. It’s easier to draw these in my journal than trying to find them online when I am doing a drawing.

After a lot of struggles, I’ve decided that scanning the images works a lot better than photographing them. I’ve also decided not to do any more art work in my journal because the pages are cream-coloured and wrinkle slightly at the spine, which makes photographing or scanning them difficult – it’s almost impossible to get rid of the wrinkles and shading on the paper – so the journal is now being used exclusively for reference purposes, collecting step-outs and doing various sketches.

Here are my most recent pages, mostly concentrating on fills, but with a few borders thrown in, or fills that can be adapted to borders. I am gradually working my way through the Tangle Patterns site and sketching the ones I particularly like, and there are always more being added, which I get emails about, because I’ve signed up to their mailing list.

This first picture is a series of miscellaneous sketches, none of which need step-outs because it’s obvious how to do them.

I have searched high and low for the step-out for the pattern “Y-not” and have been reliably informed that it does not exist online. I don’t really want to buy a book as I’ve got plenty of inspiration on the Internet. I wish somebody would upload this one as it’s gorgeous – it looks quite a simple pattern of interlocking “Y” shapes, but I can’t seem to get it started and need a deconstruction of it.

Note: The following images were deleted for copyright reasons.

…a good example of just what a difference a bit of shading makes – it leaps off the page in 3-D! On the subject of shading, up until recently, I’ve been smudging my soft pencil shading with my finger (frowned upon!) and my hubby bought me some paper stumps the other day, and these simple little tools have revolutionised my drawing! With a fine tip, you can control the shading so much more, and even use a “dirty” stump to create very subtle shading without the addition of extra pencil on the drawing.

I must say I do like patterns with a bit of dimension to them, as they give real depth to a drawing.

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for (well, I live in hope!) – my latest Zentangle Art piece. I wanted to do a face and add masses of adornments in the form of a head-dress, jewellery and hair, and this is the result. I have called her “La Bella” – “The Beauty.” Enjoy!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Exeter Museum Visit

Warning – long post with lots of photos!!

Yesterday was our 26th wedding anniversary, and my hubby took me to visit the newly re-opened Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, which has been closed for a while for a major overhaul and refit. He had visited it briefly shortly after it was opened and was so impressed that he has been longing to take me ever since. He used to visit it regularly in the old days when he was working just around the corner in the city. I must say I was very impressed! As with many provincial museums, it has at its core a private collection, which by its very nature is going to be eclectic – the Victorians were inveterate collectors and travelled the world in search of treasures old and new: animal, vegetable and mineral! It was surprising just how many strange things were rubbing shoulders with each other! Here are some of the photos I took – I wasn’t able to write down what they all were, but it doesn’t matter anyway – they are just objects which took my fancy and/or inspired my artistic muse! The whole set of photos can be seen in my Photobucket album.

First of all, some pictures of the inside of the building itself. The revamped museum still incorporates the original glorious Gothic revival structure built in Victorian times, with some fabulous modern additions. There is a very good restaurant attached, and although the menu was fairly limited, the quality was good. The restaurant also features a small gallery of artworks by children and others.

This gorgeous gold mosaic is in the top of the front entrance archway.

The main foyer and staircase. I adore Gothic Revival architecture!

This is one of the modern additions – a bridge leading from one part of the museum to another. You can see the original wall beyond.

In one of the hallways we found this amazing paper sculpture hanging from the ceiling – lots of interesting shapes and ideas to cut with Sheba, my Cougar cutting machine?

Here are a couple of pictures I took in the restaurant while we were having our lunch. On the end wall is a beautiful mosaic depicting the museum. One of the favourite exhibits is a stuffed giraffe called Gerald, and the kids had done a lot of paintings of him, which were also exhibited. You can see him depicted in the centre arch of the mosaic.

Along the wall beside where we were sitting, were these extraordinary painted corrugated panels which really took my fancy!

Now for some exhibits. There were quite a lot of tribal artefacts from around the world, including these magnificent masks. As usual I was on the look out for suitable inspiration for zentangle art, and these might just do!

I loved these three American Indian model canoes.

Samurai armour:

I fell in love with this ancient Chinese money cat with tassels for his legs. If you look closely you can see his body is made up of Chinese coins.

I’ve always loved Indonesian shadow puppets with their grotesque features and extended limbs, and the fantastical shows made with them. This could be an interesting project to draw in Inkscape and cut with Sheba!

A beautiful Malay silver platter:

An ancient Mayan necklace – I’d like one of these almost as much as I’d like a Saxon torc!!

There was a great number of artefacts from the ancient world, including several cuneiform tablets.

Ceramics from ancient Greece:

including this charming little dish decorated with three fish, which looked entirely modern in its design!

I think this delightful little object might have been an oil lamp:

An ancient Greek helmet:

In addition to these artefacts from the ancient world, there were exhibits from more modern times, including the arts and sciences. There was a small gallery devoted to the science of microscopy, with various microscopes (including a tiny travelling microscope in a wooden box – if you look closely, you can just see this, just above the mirror of the microscope) and beautiful engravings of drawings of items viewed through the microscope.

There was also a good collection of clocks, including a number of fine long-case clocks, and some smaller ones. This one had a mirror placed behind it so that one could see the mechanism. I was particularly pleased to see that all these clocks were going!

A collection of pocket watches:

Many of these clocks and watches were made locally.

There was a whole section of the museum devoted to the local area, and it contained many artefacts which had been found in local fields by metal detectorists, and my hubby was very interested in these, examining them closely so that should he find anything similar, he would recognise it! Also in the Devon section were some examples of Honiton lace, which was the finest and most desired of all the laces. Unlike many other forms of lace which are worked in a strip, Honiton lace is motif lace, and these motifs can then be joined on a net. I did two terms of lace making before discovering it really wasn’t for me – you have to be very advanced before you can start designing your own patterns, and it was also extremely slow work for very little result (at least for me, as a beginner!) The patterns on display at the museum were some of the most beautiful I have ever seen, and I can really appreciate just how much work went into them. The lace-makers were extremely poorly paid, and often had to work in poor light, late into the night.

Some other miscellaneous objects which appealed to me. Firstly, a display of tortoiseshell hair combs. Amazingly intricate carving and pierced work!

A slice through a fossil ammonite – a really big fossil! There were lots of fossils.

More hair ornaments:

(This second one would make a good zentangle pattern!)

A Pakistani wall hanging with embroidered mirror-work (known as shi-sha – I have done a fair bit of this and it’s gorgeous! My wedding dress had shi-sha embroidery on it.)

African zylophone which anyone could play. Note the gourds underneath the wooden slats, which amplify the sound. There was a man visiting the museum who played it, and produced an authentic African sound which was quite magical.

A Roman mirror:

I think this gives a taste of the amazing and varied collection of artefacts in the museum. I haven’t touched on the slideshows, interactive computer screens, children’s activities, galleries of stuffed animals and birds, cases of creepy crawlies… and the rest!! Before we left, we went up to the top of the building and out onto a newly-built bridge to look at the ancient Roman walls of the city.

We had a wonderful time, and could have spent considerably longer, examining the items in greater detail. I came away thinking again of the incredible inventiveness of humanity through the ages, and the capacity for decorating and beautifying everyday objects, and our endless desire to be creative. I am very impressed with this amazing local resource, and if anyone is planning on visiting our part of the world, I would definitely recommend a visit.

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