Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wednesday, August 30

Surprising how easy it is to log-in here when I use the right username! I've been having problems for weeks now, trying to get into my blog to edit it - turns out, I've been using the wrong user name - duh!
I'm feeling really quite pleased with myself today, I actually completed another layout - that's the second this week! Not only that, I worked with what are probably my least favourite colours - orange and brown. I had some lovely pics of my youngest daughter with her face painted - she'd chosen to be a tiger, so the papers and embellishments really had to be orange and brown, didn't they?

I managed to track down a couple of small pieces of orange paper, and some brown, but no cardstock that even came close - so, I made my own! I used a piece of 12x12 plain white cardstock and inked the background in random stripes of orange and brown - I have to admit to some reservations once I'd done it, but, put some photos in place, matted onto brown paper and suddenly it's looking much better...

Next challenge - I don't have embellishments in brown and orange, plus this layout is for a challenge which has to include only things beginning with the letters in the word RAVERS, one of the R's had to be ric-rac. What's a girl to do? No embellishments, no craft shop, no inclination to go shopping? I made my own. On one of my forays into the kids' rooms, I 'rescued' some jigsaw pieces which were lying on the floor, squirrelled them away, knowing that they would come in handy, one day. Well, that day was today! I stuck 2 of the pieces together, inked them with the same colour ink as I used for the background, wrote the date on them, with a gel pen, then triple embossed the pieces - ended up with a lovely, distressed looking embellishment. I also altered a microscope slide with some alcohol inks, and added stickers with my daughter's name. The flowers were made from paper punchies - large orange ones with smaller brown ones in the centre, then a small eyelet punched through the centre of each one. So, how did I do with the challenge?

R - ricrac, A - altered jigsaw pieces (and artistic licence!), V - versacolour ink, E - eyelets, R - ribbon, S - slide, microscope. I'm really happy with the layout, even though I wasn't too sure about working with those colours - just goes to show, doesn't it, that sometimes it really is good to work outside your comfort zone!

The other thing I've done today is to order the remaining supplies for Shimelles class which begins on friday. I'm beginning to get really excited now...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A challenge for September!

A variety today! First is a scrapbook layout, next 2 are altered book spreads and the final one is a card with paper sculpture - supposed to be an orchid?

The theme for the first altered book was Black and White, as I really like black and white photography and I very much admire the actress Audrey Hepburn, both as an actress and as a person, I thought this would be the ideal time to combine the two. I went for a very simple page - simply a black background, overlaid with a very pretty handmade paper then layered with a selection of black and white images of the lady herself. I have to admit to being really rather pleased with the results!

The theme of the next book was Vintage Sewing, and this is possibly one of the hardest spreads I've done - I just could not get my head round what I was doing! Then, inspiration struck. I remembered how much I used to love my grandmothers button box, the sound, the colour, the texture - in fact, everything about them. The spread started from there - I've tried to recreate the feeling of a sewing box, with lots of bits and pieces of everything. In the end, it turned out much better than I could have hoped - I particularly loved the little bag which has various odds and ends in it!

The scrapbook layout is of Taormina, a small town on Sicily - hangout of the rich and famous - it truly is a beautiful place - perched right on top of a very tall mountain, and accessed by a very tortuous road - just wide enough for one vehicle - imagine the panic when we came face to face with a very large bus full of tourists on this delightful road!! The architecture in Taormina is almost as beautiful as the fabulous views that assail you at every twist and turn. Prices are horrendous - about 3 times as much as anywhere else on Sicily, but it was lovely to see how the other half lives! In a tucked away park is a fabulous sculpture called Urban Angels - it depicts a couple, with their briefcases, obviously taking a brief rest in their busy day - it really is an amazing sculpture, and I would love at some time to take my family to see it - and the rest of Sicily, of course!

As for the challenge I mentioned in the title? Last night I signed up for an online course with Shimelle Laine, a fabulous designer who really does have a very different way of looking at things - I'm hoping to learn loads from her, and am looking forward to the challenge - a kind of daily art journal. I'll keep you updated with progress, or lack of, throughout the month!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Oriental Artist Trading Cards

The theme for this swap was - you guessed it, Dragonflies! I had a gorgeous dragonfly stamp which came free with a magazine and which I had never used, so this seemed like a good time to have a play with it! I used the same stamp for each of the ATC's but varied the techniques I used. For the top card, I used heat fusible fibres - I mixed three different colours together and applied a warm iron in a circular motion through a sheet of tissue paper. The result was a beautiful, reasonably firm, shimmery fabric. I applied the stamp using stazon ink in black and cut and mounted the dragonfly onto a backing made up of alternating strips of purple and white raffia. To this I added a dragonfly which had been stamped onto black shrink plastic and heated. The finishing touch is a gorgeous button.

The next ATC was made using one of my favourite techniques at the moment! I cut a piece of mountboard to ATC size (2.5x3.5inches), I then applied two blue shades of chalk inks in a pouncing motion, then stamped the dragonfly in black stazon ink. Once this was dry, I applied a layer of clear ink and several layers of clear embossing powder - heating between each application - as the powder was heated, it began to affect the chalk inks as well, giving a wonderful mottled, aged effect. Finally I added the word 'Fly' using self-adhesive letters.

The third card was made using a basic resist technique - I stamped the dragonfly in clear ink, then heat embossed with clear embossing powder. Once this had cooled, I used a brilliance inkpad, which I rubbed over the card, including the stamped image. The stamped image resisted the ink - giving a lovely effect. I finished by applying a purple prima flower in the top left hand corner.

No 4 was great fun - I found some bright yellow mesh in a local shop, I cut a piece to fit the card, then stamped and embossed the dragonfly using a shimmery powder. I cut out dragonfly and mounted it onto the mesh using tiny foam pads to give a bit of dimension to the image. I finished by adding colourful shaped brads to each of the corners.

The fifth ATC again uses the technique of triple embossing for the background, I used a combination of purple and red powders to achieve the effect I was after. I then stamped and embossed the dragonfly twice, applied one directly to the background and the second was applied at an angle to the first and on tiny foam pads. To finish, I added a bead with the word 'imagine'. The final card is made using the same technique as for card 3.

Altered Clipboard

I think I mentioned before that I was working on an altered clipboard - well, after many hours of work, and several changes of mind when things didn't work quite as I had expected, I finished the clipboard and sent it off. It was quite traumatic entrusting my precious artwork to the vagaries of Royal Mail, but, it arrived safely and the recipient is delighted with it and is already using it regularly!

I used a plain chipboard clipboard with a silver metal clip. To start with, on the front of the board, I thought I would use shades of red through to green in a kind of rainbow effect, however, because of the colour of the base it just looked horrible, so I changed my mind, and painted over the original colours with some metallic acrylic paints, a combination of gold, silver, bronze and copper, I concentrated the copper shade nearer to the top of the board, as I wanted a less intrusive colour for the rest of it. I had already decided on a happiness/friendship theme for the 'business' side of the board, and used a collection of quotes on these subjects to embellish the board, I used rub-ons in various font-styles, but all in black print, and applied them at random angles all over the front of the board - my reasoning for this was that whichever way the board was being held, there would be something to read! I then sealed this with 3 layers of mod podge, then another 3 layers of Ronseal diamond varnish in a satin finish - this will protect the board through ordinary use.

For the back of the board, I decided on a collage of images of vintage women. I found a selection that I really liked, and spent several very happy hours arranging and rearranging them until I got a design I was happy with. Originally, I had intended to make the collage in portrait orientation, but soon realised that it would work much better if it were landscape. In amongst some junk mail recently, I had some which had a fab 70's floral design paper, the colours of which worked really well with the images I had chosen. I printed my chosen images onto copier paper and cut or tore each one to the shape and size needed, I then placed them in position on the board, a bit more re-arranging, and finally - the finished effect. I then lifted each piece individually, applied a layer of bookbinding glue to the back, and replaced it in it's final position. Once all the pieces were stuck firmly, I sealed them with 3 coats of mod podge, which also had the effect of aging the pictures - definitely serendipitous!

The silver metal clip, I attacked with 3 shades of alcohol inks and some gold pen - applied these with a felt pad and built up the layers until I was happy with the colour and effect. The finishing touch was a collection of ribbons and fibres. I was delighted with the overall result - when I started the project, I had serious doubts about what I was going to be able to produce - but I was so happy with it, I'm planning on doing another in the near future!!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Yes - I am still here!!

Well, how time flies! I really can't believe that it's 3 weeks since I last posted here - what on earth have I been doing? Of course, the summer holidays have started, so the children are home - but, still, the last few weeks have flown by.

I can't remember whether I previously mentioned that my eldest daughter is expecting our first grandchild in January - there's a concept that takes some getting used to, I can tell you! I don't even feel old enough to be a parent most of the time, let alone a grandparent!! Clearly, I will be a very young grandmother...
My husband has decided that he wants to be called 'Grumpy' - no argument from me there - Grumpy by name and grumpy by nature!!! Just hope he doesn't read this. Anyway, eldest daughter and her fiancé are living in a rented flat at the moment, but have just had an offer accepted on a rather nice little house. 2 bedrooms, new build - fully furnished and all white goods included in the sale - they can literally just move their clothes in and that's it! Only problem is, she may have left home physically, but she still hasn't left mentally - she still phones at least 4 times a day with questions about this, that and the other - she really hasn't got her head round the fact that she has to make her own decisions now! Obviously we're happy to help where we can - but there are some things we just can't (or won't!) do. She lives 14 miles away from us, in the centre of town, literally around the corner from a large supermarket, yet still rings and asks if I will bring some milk over for her!! You can guess the answer to that one...

She's also been in and out of hospital a few times over the last couple of weeks - nothing serious, but like me, she's not one of these people who blooms when she's pregnant! She has, I think, been really floored by just how exhausting it is, and of course the hot weather we've been having hasn't helped. Baby is fine though, we saw it on a scan a couple of weeks ago - amazing! It never fails to leave me feeling completely in awe when I see an ultrasound scan - she's due for her anomaly scan on the 15th, and wants to know the sex of the baby - probably not a bad thing, as it's proving so difficult to get neutral baby stuff - everything seems really geared for one sex or the other - whatever happened to pastel greens and yellows? I suppose I really ought to get the knitting needles out - I'm sure I can remember what to do with them, maybe...

Our eldest son has just been diagnosed as having chronic fatigue, so we are now waiting for various appointments for him, and the LEA are supposed to be arranging home tuition for him when the new school year starts. Poor lad has been really badly affected and rarely leaves the house these days - his sleep patterns are completely shot and he has a very low tolerance for noise - which is not ideal in a house as noisy as ours!

We recently moved congregations - things weren't really working for us where we were, but the new congregation has made us feel extremely welcome and have tried to involve us in all sorts of different things, which is really lovely. Both of us had been feeling very low, spiritually speaking, but things are definitely picking up now.

Artwise, what have I been up to? I've really had to grab my chances where I can just lately, but in my previous post you will have seen the new stuff that I've produced over the last couple of weeks. I particularly love the 'Tree Frog' ATC's - the one with the black background is a digital ATC - I'm definitely beginning to get to grips with the photo manipulation software - still got a long way to go , but getting some really pleasing results now. Also included is my first ever hand-drawn ATC - the one of the gent in the hat. I have never considered myself to be artistic in the sense of being able to paint or draw, but I was really happy with this drawing - simple, maybe, but it is recognisable!!! I absolutely adore hats, but rarely have the chance to wear one, so I was delighted when 'Hats' was one of the themes chosen for last months swaps. Another of the swaps was on the theme of 'Adventure', now whenever I hear the word adventure, the first thought that comes to mind is of the Famous Five, Enid Blytons intrepid quintet of adolescent mystery solvers. With this in mind, I made a mock-up of the front cover of a Famous Five adventure story - brought back some memories, that did! As a child I read every Famous Five story I could get my hands on, as well as all the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys etc. I also loved the Billy Bunter stories - the thought of them still brings a smile to my face. I can't imagine what my children would make of Billy and his cohorts! Really, I read anything and everything when I was younger - never had my head out of a book! It looks as though my younger son might be heading the same way, he really enjoys reading and gets very involved in what he's reading. My youngest, who is 6, has decided that she wants to learn to read English - she is taught Welsh at school and doesn't start English until some time in the new school year, (She started school at 3!) She is teaching herself to read in English and is doing really well - none of the Janet and John books for her - she picks out a book she wants to read and away she goes - she certainly has an admirable persistence. She is absolutely determined that she's going to read English - very soon! She's also learning to spell in English - I'm just hoping that it's not going to cause too much confusion when she goes back to school!

Sorry, I digress, another of the cards in the 'Adventure' set is an image of Lara Croft - she of 'Tombraider' fame. I took a fairly standard image of her, and added some girly bits - much to the horror of my younger son! According to him, Lara Croft doesn't do handbags and make-up! I've also posted pictures of various greetings cards I've made recently - I've been trying to do something a little out of the ordinary - two of the cards are ones I've made to send to my brother and his wife for their wedding anniversary. The one with the jute and flower border is for my mum to send, and the one with the green vellum panel with flowers is from myself. I haven't worked much with vellum in the past, but a friend sent me some truly beautiful vellums, which were far too gorgeous to be hidden away, so I bit the bullet and had a play - I think I can safely say I will be working with vellum again! I've still got several projects on the go - I still have spreads to complete in 2 altered books, I have an clipboard to alter, and a jewellery piece to design and make, on the theme of 'Confectionary'. I really need to get moving on that, cos the closing date is only a couple of weeks away...

Enough wittering from me for now, catch you again in a few days.

A Feast For Your Eyes!!