Thursday, 26 May 2016

Mixed Media Tag - Paris Kiss

Here's another excuse to use a Stampsmith Stamp.  It's also an excuse to mess around with ribbon and make fabric flowers with loads of frou frou!  The flower is based on a tutorial by A little Shabby Chic
You will see in the video I did make a stencilled background.  It was very nice too but then I added so much swish and swoosh, I covered it up.  What I didn't cover up are the couple in the bottom left corner of the stamp and it was imagining their story which attracted  me to make this tag.  I wanted the flowers at the bottom of the design to act as shrubs to give their romantic moment some privacy against their dramatic backdrop.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Greetings Card - Home

Friends of ours have recently moved permanently to France and two nights before they left, we gathered for some drinks at a local pub to see them off and wish them well.  I had a dig about in my stamp stash to find an appropriate image to make them a farewell card.  No, they haven't bought a castle but they have bought a house with a pointy tower and I should say, although I made the card, we don't have their new address to send it to - yet.  You're seeing it first!
Simple and uncluttered.  Like my brain :)

A tip for any simple shape, if you want it to pop out, add a line of dots around it.   It worked on all those ancient manuscripts like The Book of Kells....
Here's the video :)

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Paper Flower Making Tutorial and Mixed Media Tag - Raven

I like adding flowers to tags.  They give it a dimensional interest and add balance.  The trouble is, buying ready made flowers annoys me because it's only a few pieces of paper and I should be able to make that myself.  So I tried a few different things and the video below includes my flower tutorial.  A useful tip is to spritz your paper or card with water before starting.  This softens the fibres in the card and makes shaping easier.  The flower also seems to hold it's shape better once completed.  Also, whether you use a die to cut your petal shapes or just freehand cut some circles,  add loads of layers for each flower.  I think mine used 10 altogether - just make sure you don't make pile them so deeply you can't get the paper fastener/brad through it!
I used some new paints on this tag and I love them!  They are from Paperartsy and are acrylic chalk finish effect.  They give a soft matte effect and are superb for stamping onto.  The petals of this flower were cut from black card and painted with pink and blue chalk paint before being inked over with a word stamp from Waltzing Mouse Stamps (now sadly closed and much missed).
Here's the tutorial with matching nail varnish :)

Friday, 20 May 2016

Art Journal - Don't Dream It

I'm getting into a nice creative flow.  Once I log off from work, I walk B. Dogg down our favourite lane where all the best smells are and where he can check on his wee mail.  I use the time to enjoy some fresh air and plan my next creative effort before returning home for a cuppa and some attic time.  Now I'm videoing my projects, I have to work a bit smarter and be better prepared.  I use my canon camera rather than a camcorder because it's better quality (and I don't have a camcorder) but it stops recording after 29 minutes for reasons, so I have to work quickly and not faff about.  And I am a massive faffer so this is difficult.  But while the creative juices are flowing I intend to make the most of them.  I've had periods when there has been no mojo and that feels as bad as insomnia to me so I'm working on the theory that your creativity is like a muscle and needs to be exercised to stay strong.  (And I'm focussing on my creative muscle rather than any of the others.  They'll just have to look after themselves.)

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Texture Paste Tag

 I love texture paste!  If you use it through a stencil you can get all kinds of effects.  If you layer it onto a painted surface it will pick up those colours.  If you use it straight onto a piece of dark card it will keep it's white colour.  Once dry, you can paint or ink it and emboss it.  But you do need to clean your stencil and tools immediately after use as it hardens quickly.

Here's a tag I made using some quirky characters I've been developing and a texture paste topping.  There are several pastes from art shops but I like the Tim Holtz version which I generally buy from Craft Obsessions.

To see how I made it, here's a video and I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Mixed Media Tag - Nostalgia

Now with added Youtubeism!

This short 8 minute video has taken several weeks of preparation and a couple of mini melt downs. First Himself built me a gizmo to fix my camera facing down to record videos.  Then I invested in some lighting and a new memory card which could cope with the storage required for videos rather than photos, I spent many (frustrating!) hours working out how to use editing software and practising the actual projects.  I even pulled in my techie brother to advise on all the basic things I was getting wrong.  And now my first ever (well 6th actually!) video has been filmed, edited, had copyright free music added and been uploaded to Youtube. I think my projects will improve as I get more comfortable with making little crafty movies and it's a great excuse to invest in more nail varnish :)
My new name on Youtube is Attic Lane which is what this blog will change to as soon as I can work out how to maintain 4 years of links!  Why Attic Lane?  Well my craft space is in an attic and the attic is down a little lane.  I'm a simple soul.

This tag uses another of the wonderful stamps from The Stampsmith, some ticket style stamps from Craft Individuals and card stock and flowers from my stash.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Mixed Media Tags - The Stampsmith

Quite often I've wanted a vintage photographic image to include in a project but finding copyright free images wasn't as easy as I'd expected.   I'd seen the batches of photos you can buy specifically for  journalling and mixed media projects but I was sure I'd seen images of the kind I wanted online as stamps - I just had to find them!  And find them I did, courtesy of the Stampsmith.  I was lucky to visit during a sale where for every 2 stamps sheets or singles you order, you can e-mail the lovely Estelle for your 3rd free sheet or single of your choice(!).  I didn't need to be asked twice and it helped justify the additional postage cost for ordering from America.  I was thrilled to find my parcel waiting for me on my return from France :)

Now you may not think this looks exciting but the stamps are unmounted (which saves on postage) and you can only make out the images if you look at them closely.  That's because they are photographic quality and a little different to normal deeply etched stamps.  As soon as you apply an ink pad, they come to life...
 Isn't that gorgeous?
It's worth a little experimentation to find the best mix of ink pad and paper.  I used a high gloss Ranger paper and stamped two images with brown and a grey archival inks.  This gave me the best image so I assumed (wrongly) that glossy photographic printer paper would be as good.  You can see below the image is blotchy.  Experiment!
And so, for her helpfulness and to show off her beautiful stamps, I have made a couple of (very quick!) tags for Estelle - The Stampsmith.

I am looking forward to playing with these stamps a lot!  

Monday, 9 May 2016

Why Would Anyone Want to Live in Dordogne?

Because of the number of Brits who have moved there, a particular region of South West France has been nicknamed Dordogneshire.  I thought I'd share some pictures of our second trip to this part of Aquitaine to see if we can figure out why so many people want to live there.


Can't remember

Sarlat-la-Caneda and it's Saturday market


(Speaking of wildlife, this is what we saw on waking each morning.)

Nope, I can't work it out.  The attraction must be that you can get your baguettes from a vending machine.  

Home Again

The first night back inside four solid walls after a long camping trip always feels odd. This time last night, we were pitched up near the Loire listening to a frog chorus as owls hooted in the darkness. Just us, some canvas (ok, polyester) and nature. We'd broken our journey home to the UK with an overnight stop having spent over a week in the Sarlat area helping a friend who has just bought a ruin house there. We were a little gang, of which I was the most useful as I knew how to work the kettle while the others only had building skills. Between us we put in 4 new windows, cut back a wilderness in the garden, built a kitchen, partitioned a couple of rooms and brewed about 28 rounds of tea. B. Dogg was put in charge of recycling.

A bientot.


Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Mixed Media Tag - Elegance

Here's a very quick tag made in a flurry of stencils, paint and texture paste. I was playing around with colours and came up with a stunning paste mix. I'm not sure this tag does it justice and I'm sure I'll revisit it at some stage. See the shiny swirls in the bottom of the picture? That was achieved using a stencil and texture paste with a smidgeon of acrylic paint. I used a plastic palette knife to spread the mix through a stencil and let it dry.

Once this has dried you can use embossing powders to give a different colour but I liked this.

The centres of the flowers were created with glossy accents used as a glue for some small beads.

The final result....


Sunday, 24 April 2016

Collage Tag - Camouflage

There aren't many days when I get uninterrupted quality crafting time but yesterday was one of those days.  Ignoring the housework, I headed for the attic and spent an inky morning making a little tag.
I wanted very soft colours and opted for muted leaf greens and pale blues.  Then the layering began.
I used a combination of die cuts and punches to add texture and interest.  The stamp used was from Darkroom Door which is one of the very few images of women I have in my stamp stash and this needed a feminine touch!
Love those colours!
From this angle it looks like a crazy muddle...and because less isn't more I added buttons.
There are actually two tags, the top one was die cut was stuck on top of the other one which was left whole,  covered with a sheet of words and painted.  

The final tag.  The tricky thing with these sorts of deceptively simple projects is getting the right balance between layers, texture, depth and interest...and keeping the look uncluttered.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Mixed media page - Jar of Hearts

It's been an eventful couple of weeks - a bit of a rollercoaster with an ill puppy who was in animal hospital for 4 days while I was on a business trip to Germany and the burden falling on Himself who had to give up a planned trip to Snowdonia.   The good news is B. Dogg has recovered his energy and interest in the world although we still don't know the cause of his illness. So, crafting has been confined to doodling and sketching characters for use in future projects.  

One of those characters is this one collecting hearts in jars.  There's no deep meaning to this page.   I had roughly sketched the person and was wondering how to use it when a song came on the radio with lyrics including "jar of hearts".  The jars were easy to draw and cut out, hearts were cut from card and stuck in the middle of each jar which was then given a cover of glossy accents to make it look like glass.

The work trip to Germany was interesting because of the unusual hotel which hosted our conference. It's in northern German beside a busy autobahn but when you step inside, it's decked out like an Alpine ski lodge.  Much fun but the view from my room was of the exterior structure of the piste which was a bit gloomy.

 The magazines in the rooms were clearly targeted at sporty types so I ignored them.
And the view from inside the wooden clad restaurant was of the inside of the piste.  The staff wore traditional Bavarian costume and their friendly service was accompanied by booming ooom pah music.  If you like skiing, this is is the place for you!

Monday, 4 April 2016

Highland retreat artwork

On our recent break in the Highlands, we both managed to do some painting and drawing.  We have very different styles.  I can't draw so represent things rather than draw what I see while Himself can draw recognisable landscapes.  Sometimes I doodle which is what the mandala is - a round doodle using the colours of the hillsides we were surrounded by.  Muted oranges, heathers, olive greens and soft browns.  

Then I wanted to draw the hill across the loch but when I looked at it I couldn't work out the colours. They seemed to be blocks of colour so I drew that and painted them using my favourite distress pens.  I can only show you a section of that drawing for complicated reasons involving a new laptop a wonky cloud and my not being teckie enough to work out how to get my devices to talk to each other.

But maybe these photos will be enough to give you a flavour of how I went about (not) drawing my subject.  I can't draw foliage either so that was represented with leaves which I can draw.  Trees were turned into triangles on sticks and so on...

Perhaps drawing isn't about replicating exactly what the landscape looks like.  Perhaps it's the fun of representing how we see rather than what we see.  Not an original thought I know but one which was brought home to me by my attempt at a landscape!

And on the subject of not being very teckie,  our break gave me time to think about this blog and what I want to do with it.  I started with the idea that I'd try blogging for 6 months to see how I got on with it.  Four years later, I'm still here but in all that time  I haven't changed my blog layout since the first post and I never did properly work out how to use blogger and I never really shared my background as a craft teacher or that I had several projects published in magazines.  Someone recently said not only do I not blow my own trumpet, I don't tell anyone I have a trumpet.  

That's all going to change, oh yes indeedy.  Soon there will be an updated blog layout with links to my You Tube channel which is currently under construction.  The purpose of the channel is for high speed mixed media layouts which is where I've been focussing my creativity recently and I feel it's time I put something back, having benefitted from many fabulous You Tube tutorials and inspirations.  The blog will keep it's usual variety of craft subjects but I hope to be able to sort them all out a little better so new visitors don't have to scroll through too many dog pictures if they're here for baking or paper crafting!  I don't have a deadline in mind, it will just come as a nasty shock nice surprise sometime  :)
What's that?  You're here looking for a dog picture?  Oh ok...