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

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Retrospective ...

... posh word for what have I been up to this year?

I've been looking through my past posts, and thought I would do a review of 2015 of my favourite creations and other things! There are links to each original post if you want to know more.

Brushos have featured quite a lot this year, and I still love them, I like the random-ness of sprinkling and spritzing (or vice versa), but they are also very useful as straightforward watercolour paints.

This card featured in January, here.

I posted quite a bit in February, and it is difficult to chose just one, but I've gone with this little canvas (see here), as I really enjoyed combining different materials and paints ...

and I've still got a load of metal off-cuts to use up!

In March I got the Crazy Birds stamps; I don't think I've used a stamp set as much this one.

They appeared for the first time on this card ... (see the original post here).

During the year I've participated in a few online blog challenges, one being the Craft Barn Calendar Challenge, which was really fun, and I did managed to stay the course and complete the 12 months.

To see all the calendar pages go to the final post here.

This is the page for April.

May saw a complete revamp of my craft room (a long time coming!), and I am still completely in love with it; I feel happy just being there - though it is not quite so tidy as when first shown here.

I've tried my hand at a few things over the years, and June saw me don a visor and get up close and personal with some welding equipment!

I love going to art exhibitions, and try to get to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition each year.

I did a post in July which included details of this year's visit, but also this canvas, which is still a favourite!

August saw the start of a series of art courses, and the first one was all about drawing - great fun, but very intense!

I'm now using what I learnt in my current watercolour course.

This was the final drawing.

September brought the super moon total lunar eclipse, which I thought was awe-inspiring - so I had to include one of my photos in this review!

It's October now, and I had started my second art course all about collage. This was the second exercise - to create an abstract collage. I loved using all the different textures. The full post can be found here.

There is something very pleasing about creating simple, easy Christmas cards (and useful too if you have a load to make!), and this one is from a November session I devised with the craft group I run. He is such a happy chap!

Now we are in December and I had to revisit my favourite collage, which was the final freestyle one I created on the collage course, using only magazine images.

I discovered Haiku at the end of last year (the Japanese poetry form), and continued to write a few throughout this year. To find them just choose Haiku from the categories list. I've written another one -

Earth's midnight slumbers
Birdsong echoes of sweet hope
Trees whisper - new year

I'm going to finish by thanking all my friends, both on and off line, for making 2015 a good one, and I'll leave you with one of my crazy bird cards - nuff said!

Happy New Year - I hope 2016 brings all you may wish for.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Happy Christmas!

My Christmas cards this year featured crazy birds, which I stamped and and embossed onto patterned Christmas paper - still trying to use it up! They were all given festive glitter hats too!

Happy Christmas to all my followers and everyone who reads my blog ramblings! Thank you for all your comments throughout the year, they mean a lot to me.

"Christmas is a togethery sort of holiday" said Pooh,
"That's my favourite kind" said Piglet, "Togethery and Remembery"
A A Milne

Monday, 21 December 2015

Beginning to feel a ho ho ho coming on ...

I'm playing catch-up with what the Fearless Four have been up to; I've still not finished one project from a couple of months ago, but at our last get together - the last one of the year - we decided to get all festive and create some Christmas wreaths.  We all used up stuff we had lying around.

I delved into my various boxes of stuff and found some cream hessian, which I used to wrap around a polystyrene wreath. I used book glue to anchor it down.

Then, using up some Christmas papers, I die-cut some poinsettas (the tattered ones from Sizzix), and some fir leaves too(from glitter card), all attached with pearl-headed pins and glue. Finished off with a hessian printed bow.

And the others?

Linda used up some die-cuts from an old kit, and added a sparkly bow.

Monica used hessian and ribbon to wrap her wreath, then added some more ribbon and cinnamon sticks (quite old ones!).

Lin did two smaller wreaths using die-cuts and old Christmas decorations, plus some more sparkly ribbon.

Fab time had by all, and a great way to use up Christmassy stuff!

Happy Christmas week!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Hello December!

December - the last month of the year, contains Christmas, frosty mornings with bright blue skies (sometimes), and my birthday - which was yesterday but the celebrations started a couple of weeks ago, and I have a lunch today too! - what's not to like about December!

It is the last page of the Craft Barn's Calendar challenge, and December's words are tree and gold/silver.

I don't have much in the way of Christmas stamps or dies, so I decided to do a doodle tree with some baubles, and a touch of gold/silver/white embossing powder lightly sprinkled.

Difficult to photograph to show the embossing; this was taken in full sunlight (a rare occurrence at the moment), so caught some shadows, but you get the idea!

So, 2016's calendar is finished - here are all the pages. If you want to read all the posts, just click on "Craft Barn Calendar Challenge 2015" from the categories list on the side bar.

All I now need to do is find some way to bind it.

Can you believe how mild it is - but still too wet and murky for me - I would really like to see frosty sparkles in the morning sun!

Friday, 11 December 2015

Scissor happy!

Its about time I told you about the final collage from my last art course, which was another freestyle one. I decided to only use magazine images - something else I've never done before.

I was using half imperial watercolour paper (22 inches by 15 inches), so quite an area to cover. This was done over 2 sessions, with some time spent on it at home too. I cut a large amount of images from a variety of magazines, then spent a long time creating a picture. I've used a lot of the cut images upside down - try and spot them!

The hardest parts were sticking everything down in the right order, and trying not to crinkle the paper, which was difficult given the flimsy nature of some magazines!

This really was amazing fun, and something I will have another go at - particularly as I still have a box of cut images! This five week course has made me look at collage in many different ways, and to experiment with a freedom I've not felt before.

So - try it, don't throw away magazines before tearing out pages with useful images ... happy collaging!

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A present for me!

How fab that I won the random number draw for last week's Craft Barn challenge - the origami card. Great to have an early Christmas present!

This week's Craft Barn challenge words are present and red. Having recently made some quick Christmas cards at the craft group I run (I've already written a post about the smiley snowman - see here), this is another one.

Using some some small red and green beads (and a pair of tweezers), create a festive present with ribbons and a bow - job done!

I've finally finished my Christmas cards, and they are now waiting to be posted. I've also nearly completed present shopping!

Time for a dance of joy!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Bend me, shape me ...

This week's Craft Barn challenge is about paper folding. Being a fan of origami, I've made a Christmas card using the dahlia flower, which is very effective when using plain/patterned double sided paper. See here for instructions.

I've made a small flower using one inch paper circles, added some gold beads for the centre, and a die-cut holly flourish.

Now I must get down to making some more Christmas cards - oh - and do some Christmas shopping!

Happy December!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Winter butterflies ...

This week's Craft Barn challenge is about snowflakes - even the word makes me shiver, though they are beautiful up close!

At the craft group I run we recently made some quick Christmas cards, including this one.

Construction process - emboss a piece of vellum with a snowflake pattern; I've had this folder for many years, and it usually makes an appearance on something each Christmas!

Then, take 2 white circles of card, some ribbon, an elongated triangle of orange card and some card candy.

The smile is drawn using the edge of a metal washer, which was the perfect size! Make sure the mouth is placed in the top half of the circle as he is looking up.

I really must get down to concentrating on my own Christmas cards, but at the moment I'm preparing for my next set of art classes (on watercolour), which start on Monday - arrgghh - I need more time .... and I haven't even thought about pressie shopping!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Sweet dreams ...

Collage number four on my art course was freestyle, so I decided to combine abstract with natural objects I've not used before.

My thought process was thus -

I just love the sunset moths that are found in Madagascar ...
Moth is one of the fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream...

- I know, a bit random!

I also did some planning on this one - having learned that  with collage some sort of plan is no bad thing! So this piece is made of many layers.

First layer is a little Brusho -

Then a few skeleton leaves (which have a pale green tinge).

A couple of shapes handcut from pages (yes - from the play - I have a copy of Shakespeare's works which I cut up).

Plus a pressed gypsophila.

More Brusho -

A couple more skeleton leaves, gypsophila, some honesty seed heads, and some fine straw-like strands (which originally came from some packaging).

Finally, my version of a colourful moth, done in watercolour, with added texture from bubblewrap. I also added some splatters of gold watercolour (which is a fabulous paint by Schminck), and to balance the blue wings, a little blue Brusho too. I also die-cut the word moth from the book pages.

Still struggling with watercolour, so I've signed up for another set of classes (!) which will concentrate on watercolour techniques.

"Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dewdrops here
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I'll be gone:
Our queen and all our elves come here anon."

A Midsummer Night's Dream
Act II, Scene 1
Fairy to Robin Goodfellow

The current Paper Artsy challenge is all about abstracts so ... I'm adding this one!

My thoughts are with the people of Paris - and to borrow a phrase from Robert Burns, I have never, and will never, understand man's inhumanity to man. Vive la France!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Don't let the colours fade to grey ...

We are nearing the end of the Craft Barn's Calendar Challenge - and November's prompts are grey and owl.

I associate the word grey with colourless drab days - just what I'm seeing out of the window right now!  I don't have any owl stamps but I do have the Sizzix Bigz die - perfect.

I started with some Brushos - grey and gamboge - on watercolour paper. The body is cut from a book page, and I let the gamboge Brusho drip down. The rest of Mr Owl's bits are cut from various pieces of painted off-cuts - I wanted to show him filling with colour - it kinda works!

"He respects owl, because you can't help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY,  even if he doesn't spell it right."

From The House at Pooh Corner
A A Milne

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Mirror, mirror ...

I took a break from collage and watercolour, which has been my main focus recently whilst doing the art course, and decided to do something totally different.

The mirror was white to begin with, and I added a dragonfly die-cut, and modelling paste through one of my favourite Designs by Ryn stencils - the Hibiscus one.

I then covered it all at random using 3 colours of Pinflair Liquid Buff-it, followed by some grey Decoart Antiquing Cream. A touch of gilding wax gave some highlights, and lastly a couple of coats of varnish.

Now I've got to finish my latest collage, which is proving a bit of a challenge!

Happy Guy Fawkes Night - though I think it could be a little damp!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Adventures in collage - part 3

I'm in the middle of my art course, and have just finished the third exercise, which was to take a naturalistic subject (i.e. from real life), and combine watercolour with collage.

I chose this as my reference, which I found on Pinterest.  It is a small run-down cabin in Skinnalon, Iceland.

I wanted to use a piece of half imperial sized watercolour paper, which is 22 inches x 15 inches. I ended up with a piece slightly smaller as my first attempt at stretching it failed, so I had to slightly cut it down.

Anyway, I started with the collage element, doing my usual random thing, using some Brusho'd handmade paper, book pages, sheet music, rice paper, map pages, and some brown paper.

Everything was stuck down with matt medium.

Next, I covered the whole piece with crumpled tissue paper, again using matt medium, to knock it back and to unify everything.

Now, the major part of the challenge ... to use the drawing skills from my summer drawing course, and use watercolour paint! I used both watercolour paint and watercolour pencils.

It has taken a couple of weeks, and I've learned a lot, including not to be quite so random with the collage element. Also, it is quite difficult painting on top of crumpled tissue!

I'm reasonably happy with the finished piece -

I'll be starting my next collage tomorrow, not completely sure what I'll be doing as the rest of the course is freestyle, but I have learned I need some kind of plan if I'm going to combine painting with collage!

Don't limit your challenges - challenge your limits!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Good luck Craft Barn!

This post is dedicated to the Craft Barn, which closed its bricks and mortar shop last weekend. I've been going to the Craft Barn for many years after first finding them in Lingfield, and later they moved to Nutfield.

I went to the final workshop on Saturday, with Chris Dark. We did a highly textured frame - just my cup of tea! Not sure what I'm going to put in the frame yet, but I've digitally added the words for this post!

Other workshops I've done at the Craft Barn during the past month ...

This meandering journal with Lin Brown. Stencil bumping on hessian is a bit of a challenge! The sunflower is stamped onto calico, and has some central padding.

With Darcy Wilkinson, a slashed canvas -

I love the diversity of workshops the Craft Barn offers, and they are continuing with the workshops in a different venue, as well as maintaining the online shop.

So, Craft Barn, wishing you all the good luckness there is!

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Pumpkin moon

The Craft Barn's Calendar Challenge words for October are orange and pumpkin/fruit.

Thought I would stick with collage, so I found a pumpkin photo and printed several in different sizes.
I then printed out the moon photos I recently took (see here), and added a die-cut of my friendly raven! Then decided to use some black card as the base for dramatic effect!

The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe is rather a long poem - so here is the final verse ...

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
                              Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Happy spookiness!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

The owl and the ... bee?

The Ashtead Craft Club runs an annual challenge, and this year's is to create a collection of at least 10 cards, for different occasions, incorporating a common theme - and I decided to include a bee into every card. Initially I thought that would be quite easy to do ...

Additionally, as part of the annual challenge there are bi-monthly ones too, creating cards that can be included in the overall challenge - makes sense? Anyway, this card was part of the bi-monthly challenge - to create a male birthday card using collage.

All the pieces are cut from magazines, and I tried to give it a male feel - even with a bee! The bee stamp is by Stampotique and I love it - it comes on a square wood block and there are 2 different sized bees.

This week's Craft Barn challenge word is people, I think my two boxers qualify for that!

Also, this month's Craft Stamper Magazine challenge is to use one or more processes - ink, stitch, paint, collage, print, paper, and include some stamping somewhere.

It is National Poetry Day today, so here is one of my favourite poems -

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
   In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
   And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
    What a beautiful Pussy you are,
         You are,
         You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!
   How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
   But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
   To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
   With a ring at the end of his nose,
             His nose,
             His nose,
   With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
   Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
   By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
   Which they ate with a runcible spoon;   
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
   They danced by the light of the moon,
             The moon,
             The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Pin it!

I recently did a post about Tyvek (see here).  Tyvek is a man made non-woven fabric, with many uses. These include building wrap and one piece coveralls.  When heated it starts to disintegrate, giving some great effects.

I've found the best result is to paint some Tyvek with pearlised or metallic acrylic paint; the paint should not be too thick.  When dry, choose some fabric that colour co-ordinates (I've used felt), then create layers - fabric at the bottom, then some bondaweb, then the Tyvek, painted side face up. Cover with some parchment paper and iron.  The Tyvek will start to shrink and break apart, which you will see through the parchment.  Up to you when you stop ironing!

The current Paper Artsy challenge is about wearable art - I created this brooch using Tyvek on felt, which has been die-cut, together with some netting, a heart charm, and some chain and pearls from a broken necklace.

I think it has a bit of a Victorian feel to it.

Autumn is in full swing now - just love those all those leaf colours against a brilliant sky. You probably can guess what is coming ... another of my haikus!

Red against sky blue
Falling folds of autumn's dress
Crushed and forgotten

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Making waves ...

The second exercise on my art course was to create an abstract collage, and to include some texture and metallic effect, but no overpainting this time.

Abstract? not tried that before - what is abstract?  Could it be defined as not being able to identify and name the contents?

I took my inspiration from sound waves.

Still using A3 size watercolour paper, I first did a watercolour wash with varying intensity of colour. I used violet Brusho as a regular diluted watercolour paint.

I prepared some papers, and also used some from my stash. Including randomly painted book pages, dried paint clean-up wipes, cork, corrugated card, fabric ribbon, acetate, metallic thread wool, Gelli printed deli paper, rice paper and handmade paper.

I also overlaid white tissue paper on some areas, but this is very subtle and difficult to see in the photo.

Some detail, using some book page clippings.

How about some abstract thought progression ...

Sound waves - waves crashing on the beach - the sea ...

This week's Craft Barn challenge is "The Sea". Are abstracts allowed? Let me know your abstract thoughts!

Monday, 28 September 2015

Shooting the moon ...

So ... there I was at 3am this morning, in my dressing gown, in the garden, looking at the moon (as you do!).

Seriously, I did manage to get up at 2.30 am this morning to see the super moon total lunar eclipse. The combination of a super moon with a total lunar eclipse has only happened 5 times since 1900, and the next one is not due until 2033.

It was quite magical, and I wanted to try and get a photo. I only have a compact digital camera, but decided to have a go. I have a tiny patio garden, so was creeping around as I didn't want to alert the neighbours in case they thought I was someone up to no good! To try and lessen camera shake I eventually went for leaning against the fence to steady myself -  right under nextdoor's bedroom window! I did the wrong settings on the camera a couple of times, so the flash went off - oops!

Here are my efforts - not brilliant but -

I took a shot of moonrise earlier in the evening, hanging out the bedroom window, but at least I was able to steady myself on the window frame!

Then, at about 2.30 am I took this shot of the partial eclipse (from the garden).

Finally, at about 3am - this one - very difficult, and the best shot out of 25!

Inspired me to write another haiku -

Earth reflected red
moon falling into soft white
Fleeting attraction

Friday, 25 September 2015

A Brush(o) with Paper Artsy ...

I was just a bit excited to be asked to do a guest designer spot on the Paper Artsy blog, all about Brushos!

Hop over to the PA blog to get the details on how I did this.  I've used several surfaces, including glossy card, book pages and felt.

A couple of my favourite bits - the caterpillar has some hairy wool fixed at the back ...

And the felt flowers, just love the soft effect of Brushos on felt ...

Nothing happens unless first we dream.
Carl Sandburg