We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
"Little Gidding"
T S Eliot

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Final Christmas project .....

is done!  Woo hoo!!!

Bit of a struggle to maintain the momentum, but I was determined to finish it, as I don't need the stress later in the year.

This is an origami paper wreath, which is perfect as a hanging thingy for the Christmas tree, but would also make great Christmas bunting.

I didn't have the Christmas tree to hand for display purposes, so I've used a mug tree (close enough!).

I found how to do these on Pinterest.  Instructions can be found here.

I've made two sizes, but you can make any size you want.  I've used various decorative stuff, including sequins and punched shapes.

Here is a close-up of my favourite, using tiny rolled roses, dunked in glitter.

I did try embossing the finished wreath, but it just wouldn't go through my Cuttlebug, and because of the amount of folds, the finish would be uneven anyway.  This one went half way through before I thought, no, not a good idea.  (Any embossing would need to be done before the folding.)

So I dotted PVA glue all over, and sprinkled mixed sequins.

Now I've got lots of Christmas projects for my craft group, I have packed all the Christmas stuff away (again), and it won't see the light of day until I get some inspiration for my own Christmas cards!

So shaking off the glitter,  a great day out was had by all last week, when 3 of us visited a friend in Seaford, and took a little stroll along the seafront.

The perfect antidote to Christmas!  And why do seagulls line up in a row and gaze out to sea - what are they looking at?
Happy holidays.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Suntan lotion and glitter do not mix!

I'm still working on projects for the craft group I run.  I did some Christmas card designs a couple of weeks ago, but I can only take Christmas in small doses, so temporarily put everything away.

It's all out again ..... and I think I now know what Christmas in the southern hemisphere must be like - wearing very little in this heat, apart from some glitter!

Last Christmas I designed a Christmas wreath project for the Ashtead Craft Club Saturday workshop, using origami flowers.

Really love these flowers,but they are quite time consuming to make, so it did take most of the day to finish.

I originally found the instructions for folding the flowers on Pinterest; there are several websites with instructions, here is one.

To use on a wreath, the bottoms of the flowers should be cut off to enable them to sit flat on the wreath base.  (My base is 2 circles of card cut from cereal packaging.)

This flower design can also be made with Christmas wrapping paper, because of the amount of folds involved, they are quite robust.

The flower also lends itself to other designs, for example in a Christmas table decoration.  Put them on a wire and fix into dry florist's foam. The bird is the Tim Holtz Caged Bird die.

The flowers also look good as individual Christmas tree decorations - just wind the wire stem around a tree branch.

I wanted to do a similar project for the craft group I run, but needed to find an easier flower to use for a 2 hour workshop.  I eventually found one on Pinterest.

I created another Christmas wreath, using some leftover Christmas paper from last year, and I think the new flower works really well.  The bow is a bit of an apology for one, as I didn't have enough ribbon!

I also made the flower out of wrapping paper, which worked well, though they they are not as robust as the original flower.

And a patterned paper - would make a pretty summer version.

These flowers are created using circles of paper, and are flat-bottomed, so perfect for a wreath.

There is a You Tube video showing how to make them.

Just one more Christmas project to complete, and then I can put the glitter away!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

White Heat

All this heat has inspired me to use another of the wooden canvases I bought, this time an 8x8 one.

After a coat of gesso, I used crumpled tissue paper top and bottom then applied a coat of paint (Fresco Finish Nougat).  When dry, applied some molding paste, coloured with acrylic paint (Fresco Finish Vanilla), and a few shells were embedded in the paste at this point too.

I hand cut some clouds from sticky backed canvas (by Claudine Helmuth), and stuck them on too, though later I wanted to move one, and was able to do that relatively easily.

The sky and sea were painted (more dry brushed really), and then I spent a considerable time deciding what to add as I had a few potential items.

Decided on some fishing net, a piece of driftwood, fish cut from printed tissue paper, piece of cotton lace, more shells, and a bird die-cut 4 times from thin chipboard (all 4 pieces stuck together to create more dimension).

Finally, I wanted to convey heat, so dry brushed and dry sponged white paint over the whole canvas.

I added some more fish running around the edges of the canvas (or should that be swiming?).

The title of this piece - White Heat -, reminded me of a poem by one of my favourite poets - Emily Dickinson.  The poem has nothing to do with the canvas, but thought I would share it with you anyway!

Dare you see a Soul at the White Heat?
Then crouch within the door—
Red—is the Fire's common tint—
But when the vivid Ore
Has vanquished Flame's conditions,
It quivers from the Forge
Without a color, but the light
Of unanointed Blaze.
Least Village has its Blacksmith
Whose Anvil's even ring
Stands symbol for the finer Forge
That soundless tugs—within—
Refining these impatient Ores
With Hammer, and with Blaze
Until the Designated Light
Repudiate the Forge— 

Friday, 12 July 2013

Yupo, colour & me!

As you know, I'm just a little bit of a Pinterest fan, and I kept seeing references to Yupo paper.  Intrigued, I tracked it down and bought some.  Over the past week or so, I've been experimenting with it.  It is really strange stuff, described as a synthetic paper, it is very thin but durable, and completely non-absorbent, so any liquid applied has to evaporate.  Here are the results so far!

I'm a bit rubbish at using watercolours, and really must find some classes, but anyway I got my neglected watercolours out and had a go.

First I brushed on some water, leaving 3 areas dry where the flower heads would be, then dropped some colour in and tilted the paper every which way.  Waited for it to dry, then attempted the poppies - not a very good effort, but, the paint stays where there is water, so you can move it around but restrict where it goes.  Used kitchen roll to dab some paint off.  You can actually remove all the colour when it is still wet just by wiping it away with kitchen roll.

Second attempt - a little better.  There are several layers of watercolour here, plus a little salt.

As I'm not a very patient person, thought I would try drying between layers with a heat gun.  Nooooo!  This was developing into a nice watercolour background - but it acts a little like shrink plastic, only doesn't flatten out!!!  Could be useful at some point .....

Another attempt with watercolour.  My best effort I think; perhaps I should stay away from flowers!

This is using acrylic paint.  Slides around slowly so more controllable; and thicker - can get nice texture dabbing with a piece of kitchen roll.  Spritzing it with water gets it running around quickly!

When dry the paint can be scratched off, giving little highlights.

Alcohol inks - remain fluid on this paper for a little longer than normal, so I could move it around.

Spritzed the background with blending solution.

I didn't use any brushes here, just slide it around and dropped colour into colour.  Used the felt applicator, and a cotton bud.

Artists acrylic inks - same strong colours as alcohol inks, but much longer open time.

Again, no brushing here.  Dropped straight from the bottle and used cotton buds, a skewer stick, and kitchen roll.

I like this paper, and I'm sure there is so much more that can be done with it.

Happy Yupo!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Sunshine, Wimbledon & Christmas .....

Loving the sunshine, and the tennis ..... but I run a small craft group too, meeting once a month.  We don't get together in July or August, but as the end of the year is busy for me, I like to prepare projects well ahead of time.

So I got all my Christmas stuff out (aarrrggghhhh!) and tried to get my head around that cold, snowy feeling! I believe Christmas cards should be quick and easy, as there are so many to make.  The craft group sessions are a couple of hours so decided to aim for 3 cards for each session.

Here is what I came up with - some dry embossing, stamping, pro-markers, and lots of glitter!

The angel is very easy - take a scalloped circle, cut into 3 segments, and arrange as the body and 2 wings.  Add a small circle for the head.  Simple, but effective.

I like small Christmas stamps, and I love this newish one from Paper Artsy - I've added some glitter which does not show up in the photo.  I've used an embossing folder which has a central panel, and embossed a piece of white card, cut the panel out, and overlayed onto the red embossed card, using foam pads to raise the panel slightly.

I've not finished yet, as I need to come up with some other Christmas projects for the Group, but I'm going back to summer now, and getting my paints out!

Happy tennis - hope Andy wins this afternoon.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

From Ashtead to Picadilly!

Last Saturday was the first all-day workshop of the year for the Ashtead Card Making and Card Club, and I lead a session on that bitumen technique (see post of 1 June - Good company, scrummy food, and a dash of bitumen - another perfect recipe! ).

I decided to do a small project to enable me to assist others, but at the same time demonstrate each stage of the technique.

I had been given a really old and dilapidated box which I thought would be suitable to keep my special pens and pencils in, and was perfect for this technique.

First stage is to cover with pieces of plain and embossed card, and die-cuts.  Any objects to hand can be used - though should preferably be flat backed.

The sides of my box are quite shallow, so I used some plasterboard tape (available in any DIY store),    which gives some pleasing texture.

Using acrylic paint, cover with black paint and when dry, diluted brown paint.  Highlight and/or drybrush some areas with metallic paint and a little colour.

Finally, brush on some diluted bitumen (diluted with white spirit), and when nearly dry, wipe off with white spirit.

Ta - da!

Go to the Club's blog and see the other productions.

Must mention my trip to the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition yesterday (on Piccadilly).  Fab show, with 1270 pieces of work on display - always controversial ..... "why was that included!"

Quite an exhausting day, as we walked round it twice - I had 6 favourites, but you are not allowed to take photos -  there were a couple of oils on canvas I loved, a messotint and watercolour, a mixed media one, and a bronze sculpture.  But, my absolute favourite was "Mule on mule" by Tim Lewis - an interactive mixed media construction of a metal mule which (when you turned the handle) drew a pencil drawing of a ... mule.  Fell in love with that one - and very clever too with the construction of the mechanism to draw the mule.

There are always a couple of exhibits in the courtyard, this huge hanging one is "Tsiatsia - searching for connection" by El Anatsui, consisting of aluminum (bottle tops, printing plates, roofing sheets) and copper wire.

Happy creating!