Saturday, 19 August 2017

An experiment

We have a technique challenge at the Christmas Card Throwdown this week.

This was new technique for me, I watched a few youtube videos to get the idea. I loved the effects I saw, I didn't do so well with replicating them. This week's cards are not my best, but you have to have a go!

I started by making my backgrounds. I took an A3 sheet of watercolour paper, and added brushos - turquoise, ultramarine and a bit of purple. (This may have been part of my issue, I'm not sure watercolour paper was the best choice.) The first photo shows the sheet whilst wet.

This is what it looked like after drying naturally, a bit more muted.

I cut it into sections to fit onto card blanks, and then tried the embossing.

I started with my spellbinders tree die. I dusted with an antistatic bag, then tapped all over with versamark. I placed on the card, then onto a tan embossing mat and ran through my grand calibur. I had to experiment a bit with the plates - the blue and pink were a bit thick, so I used the pink and raspberry, with two layers of thick card. It depends a bit on the dies used.

Once run through the machine, the die design is embossed into the card, but not cut. I then sprinkled on silver embossing powder, to stick to the versamark from the die, and heat embossed. This should give a fine silver line - very delicate and pretty. In my case, it was a little patchy and didn't really show very well.

I had another go, changing my plates and being sure to add plenty of versamark. I used a Tattered Lace "Merry Christmas" die this time. This one came out better - I used fewer layers in the sandwich this time, so shallower embossing seems better. It's not the easiest thing to photograph!

My next piece used a Tattered Lace reindeer die, then I added snowflakes around the outside (I added each separately.)

I had another couple of goes with the tree, and different embossing powders - this is an violet pearl.

This is a white powder. Neither came out well, maybe the tree die just isn't a good one to use, although I love  the design.

I finished off the Merry Christmas and Reindeer pieces. I painted the embossed areas with ultramarine brusho and water, to bring out the design, then went over them with clear sparkle pen.

I added chipped sapphire distress ink round the edges, and mounted on silver mirror card.

Not my most polished cards, although I love the backgrounds. The reindeer could do with something else I think, and maybe some white pencil to bring out the reindeer's chest, it's on a  dark area of background. It's a pity, as this technique can look so beautiful. I think next time I'd try it on smooth card instead, and be careful not to emboss too deeply.

To join in with the challenge (I hope I haven't put you off, please learn from my mistakes and do better!), head over to the Christmas Card Throwdown. You have until Friday 1st September at midnight BST to enter.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Music and Dance

Our August challenge at the Berkhamsted Creative Challenge is "Music and Dance".

I made these bunting pieces while away. This meant I had to pack up some of my crafting stash to take with me, and this is what I took.

Pretty restrained, I think!

This is everything packed into it...

.... and unpacked.

The only other thing I brought was a heat tool, although I could have managed without. And I have had plenty of fun playing with this selection, I quite pleased with my capsule craft stash.

I brought:

  • Distress oxides
  • Permanent inks in a range of colours
  • Brushos
  • Distress markers
  • Stamps - Clarity alphabet, music notation and a Christmas set
  • Stencils - music, brick, a few Clarity petite stencils
  • A4 cutting mat with copier paper
  • A4 blending mat
  • Ruler
  • Spritzer bottle
  • My bag of tools - knife, pencil, scissors etc
  • Acrylic block
  • Sponges
  • Watercolour card, stencil card, some previously made backgrounds

I have to confess that I also bought quite a lot of craft things whilst away, but all I used for this was a white pen and water pen, both of which fitted in the tool bag. I also have to confess that I struggled to get everything back into the box when I'd finished - I couldn't remember how it had all gone in so it wasn't quite so neat!

So, getting started with the bunting. At the Clarity Open Day in June, Sam Crowe mentioned that she makes bunting with her spare gel plate pieces, and I thought that would be a great idea. This is the first I've done about it though. We have a new shed in the garden, so if I can get a few more pieces done they'll look good on there (with exterior mod podge to protect them).

I used watercolour card, the music stamp and distress oxides - vintage photo and broken china.

I then spritzed with water to "activate" the inks.

This is it wet - the vintage photo in particular reacts and spreads.

Once dry (I made good use of the sunny windowsills in our cottage) the chalkiness has come out - I think this looks great for a background.

I cut the bunting shape. (I have made myself a template so all my pieces will be the same size. It is 14cm wide by 17cm high, chosen to ensure I can use both A5 and 7x7 backgrounds.)

I blended round the edge with vintage photo, and dragged the pad round the edge as well.

To fill in the gaps at the top and bottom, I used the petite leafy swirl stencil from Clarity, and the broken china distress oxide on a sponge. I did a little in the centre as well.

Finally, I stamped the word "Music" in stazon spiced chai, using the Clarity alphabet stamps.

For the dance piece, I started with a scrap piece I'd made from the left over ink from another project I was working on simultaneously (I was having a real full-on crafternoon, it was great!)

This uses fired brick and fossilised amber distress oxides.

I cut the triangle, then stamped my ballerinas. These come from a "Twelve days of Christmas" stamp set.

I stamped them in vintage photo distress oxide, then use the water pen to blend out the hair. I then added some coloured ink to the blending mat and picked it up with the water pen to paint in the dress. This one is broken china, the others are wilted violet and fossilised amber. The colours mixed with the vintage photo to give gorgeous shades.

I stamped the word "DANCE" with Claret stazon.

To fill the top right corner, which looked a little neglected, I sponged through a music stencil with fossilised amber and fired brick. I blended vintage photo round the edge, and dragged the ink pad along the edges.

It needed a little something else, so I looked at my stamps to find something suitable. At home, that would probably have taken half an hour to choose what to use, but the very limited range I had available streamlined the process. I chose a bow from the Twelve Days of Christmas set, and stamped around the edge in fired brick - mostly off the edge so it looks like loops. I also did some second generation stamping in the centre, for more interest.

So, the first two pieces of bunting finished. I'll punch holes in the corners and varnish, then when I have enough I'll string them up on the shed.

I don't think they'll all be this detailed - the idea is to use up my stash, so I hope a lot will just be a matter of cutting the triangles, with the odd finishing touch.

But I'm really pleased with how these have come out - I had a lot of fun trying different things with my distress oxides, I'm already looking at which ones to get next, probably from the new colour range. And a suitable celebration of music and dance for our Berkhamsted Creative Challenge.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Tropical Christmas

Our new Christmas Card Throwdown is here! The challenge is "Tropical Christmas".

I am very frustrated as I got most of the way through a card last weekend, but when I came to finish it today I couldn't find it! We're having a massive sort out for building work, so it must have got caught up in something we've tidied away - it'll turn up eventually. Here's the photo of where I'd got to.

So I found myself this evening with a card to make from scratch!

Fortunately, I received a happy parcel in the post yesterday - 6 distress oxides! So I've had a play with those.

Using watercolour card, I applied cracked pistachio, broken china, fossilised amber and fired brick directly to the card, then spritzed with water to move it around - it really is amazing how they change and react to water. I dried with the heat gun, then applied the colour to an acrylic block, spritzed, and applied over the card. I dried again, and repeated. As the colours are opaque, they build up nicely.

(No photos of the stages I'm afraid, I was trying to be quick!)

I cut the card down to size for a 6x6 card blank, and added more red in a pale area. I stamped a lily into one corner - a very tropical flower! - using archival black ink. This is a wooden block stamp I've had for ages. I painted the lily with wilted violet, then added a bit of fired brick, mixing the two on a craft sheet. Once dried, I added fossilised amber in the centre.

I stamped the Clarity ribbon Merry Christmas above the lily, and painted the letters with fired brick and wilted violet. This is where I found how forgiving the distress oxides are. Where I went outside the lines, they lift off easily with water, and once dry I could paint outside the letters with the background colour and the opacity disguised the overshoot.

To finish off, I went over the lily with a permanent black pen, as I wasn't happy with the stamping, edged in black sharpie, and added clear sparkle pen to the centre of the lily and the letters.

So, a quick and simple card, hopefully the tropical colours (which the camera has bleached a little) and lily meet the challenge criteria!

I was having so much fun with the oxides I decided to keep going, and made a thank you card for some friends who we'd seen while they were visiting from the states in May, and who'd subsequently sent a far too generous parcel for our daughter.

I made two more backgrounds in the same way as above, adding the wilted violet into the mix.

I stamped the Clarity ribbon Thank you onto one piece (using the Tim Holtz stamping platform, which is as well as it didn't stamp well on the first go). I painted in the letters as before, then trimmed it down to a small square. I trimmed the other piece to a larger square to back it. One side of the larger piece was a little plain, so I added more of the wilted violet with an acrylic block. I edged both pieces with the black sharpie and mounted. I added the sparkle pen to the letters again.

It looked a little flat at this point, so I got a small amount of white gesso and painted a tiny amount around the letters, to the right and underneath, and smudged it in. It added a bit of dimension and just lifted the letters a touch.

Inside the card, I stamped the Thank You again, using a mixture of the oxides.

I realised as soon as I'd done it, that using the stamp platform would have made this a lot easier and by doing multiple stampings I would have avoided risking contaminating my ink pads. Ah well, live and learn, I'll remember next time I hope!

To join in with our Tropical Christmas challenge, head over to the Christmas Card Throwdown. You have until midnight BST on Friday 18th August to enter. I look forward to seeing your interpretations of our theme.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Rainbow bright

Our new challenge at the Christmas Card Throwdown is colours - and we're looking for a rainbow! (Or at least five colours.)

I've been seeing lots of videos on making gorgeous painty backgrounds recently, so wanted to try for myself. I pulled out acrylic paint in the seven colours, along with a small brush and card cut to size for a 6x6 card blank.

Working from top left, I dry brushed the paint on, horizontally and vertically. I managed to get several blurry photos of the result, this is the best one!

Using the same paint from the palette, I sponged it onto my favourite old holly stamp, and over stamped the background. I started with first generation in the red area, but that was too blotchy, second generation was better. So I painted over the offending holly with the red, then with white as it had become too solid, then more red until I was happy. The joy of using acrylic rather than ink!

At this point I wasn't in love with how it looked, it was a bit messy and wasn't working particularly well. So I added some white lines to lighten it, applied using the side of a piece of cardboard.

That was better - the mess is starting to look more grungy.

To go onto the background, I die cut a Spellbinders Christmas tree, and a "Seasons Greetings" sentiment, from hint of silver Centura Pearl.

I also blended round the edge of the background with vintage photo distress ink, and then edged in brown sharpie pen.

I cut a mount layer from the same Centura Pearl card, and constructed with a tape pen and a zig glue pen.

For something I was unsure about all the way through, I'm really pleased with the final result. Just shows that sometimes you have to keep going!

To join in with our rainbow card challenge head over to the Christmas Card Throwdown. You have until Midnight BST on Friday 4th August (slightly longer than usual!) to enter. We'd love to see what colourful creations you come up with.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

A chance to play with my new modelling cream

We have a lot going on at the moment, get ready for building work to start in a couple of weeks. So my card for the Christmas Card Throwdown sketch challenge missed the first post - fortunately I've just got in for the "still time to play" post.

Here is the sketch we have to work with:

My card borrows heavily from a canvas I watched Maria Simms making at the Clarity Open Day last month (such a great day down in Crowborough). I think she did something similar on the TV too.

Using Clarity stencil card cut to size for a 6x6 card base, I brayered on the champagne Viva Decor modelling cream. I was lucky enough to win a raffle at the Open Day, and got three pots of this cream (amongst other things). The other colours are bronze and gold.

I then started random stamping over the top with a script stamp and expresso adirondack ink, second generation. Confession time, I meant to use archival but pulled out the wrong ink pad and didn't notice! But this one seems to have dried okay, and is a better colour, darker and less orangey.

I added my favourite old holly stamp for a more Christmassy touch.

For more texture and interest, I ran one side through a Tattered Lace embossing folder.

I positioned a snowflake stencil (from Stamps Away) over the background, and masked off around a row of three snowflakes. 

This allowed me to spread the bronze modelling cream through to give my three focal points.

While the cream was still wet, I sprinkled Autumn Leaves gliding flakes over the top, then left to dry.

Unfortunately, the lightness of the cream lulled me into a false sense of security, and I also left my blending mat, stencil and tools to dry - they took some scrubbing later! Lesson learnt - this is a texture paste and needs to be washed off immediately!

Once dry, I gently rubbed away the excess flake, to leave a touch of sparkle on my snowflakes.

I decided to do something similar for the sentiment area, so used the Clarity stripes stencil and a bit more of the bronze modelling cream. Again, the gilding flakes went on when wet.

While that dried I die cut my sentiment from black card - I can't remember where these dies came from.

I thought about using bronze or glitter card, but actually like the plainness of the black, I think it looks better.

I also cut a matt to go behind, from a patterned bronze paper I've had a pack of for ages and rarely use.

Once dry, I rubbed away the gilding flakes again. I'd been a bit heavy handed and smudged the modelling cream, so the sentiment has been strategically placed to conceal that bit.

I added a bit more stamping, and blended the espresso ink around the edge to give a vignette. 

Then it was just a case of putting it together on the card blank, using a tape pen, and a zig glue pen for the sentiment.

This has been my first chance to play with the modelling creams, they're a lovely consistency and give a great shine. I've only used the cream from the lid so far, so hopefully they'll last well too.

To join in with the sketch challenge, go to the Christmas Card Throwdown, you have until Friday 14th July at midnight BST to enter.