Thursday, 30 June 2016

Clarity Challenge June - Masculine

Stamp and ink artwork with ammonite

The ClarityStamp challenge for June is masculine, in honour of Father's Day. I missed that for my entry, so have gone for my hubby's birthday present instead. (His birthday's towards the end of July, he's never had an early present before. In fact, I haven't finished last year's yet - oops!)

The basic design was my idea for last month's challenge (Anything Goes) but I didn't get round to making it for that. In fact, it could have entered the April challenge as well, as there is copious masking involved.

I started with a sheet of the 8x10 stencil card, and marked out a grid with pencil, 5 by 6 squares. After measuring and marking the odd distances, it occurred to me I could have trimmed the card a little and made my life a lot easier!

I then started the stamping, using black archival. I used a lot of different stamps - and I got through most of my stencils, and nearly every colour of distress ink before I was done. So I won't try to list them all. The main stamps I wanted to include were the ammonite and fossil. I got these ages ago, as back issues from the stamp club, as hubby did his PhD on ammonites. But haven't used them before now - so that's my personal stash challenge achieved.

Fossil, houses and seaweed stamps, with masking fluid

I used pebeo masking fluid over the stamped images, and built up the design.

Ammonite, trees and leaf stamps added, with masking fluid

There's no real picture here, it's abstract (feels a bit weird and pretentious to say that!) but there's a general scheme - underground on bottom left, underwater on the right, then above ground and the sky at the top.

Subtle background colour added

I added a little colour across the whole picture as a base, before working on smaller areas. Spot the June stamp club dragonfly added in! I had thought about a butterfly in the sky, or the house martin, but neither was quite right, so this was a welcome addition to the collection - the benefits of waiting till the last minute!

Ink colour added by grid area, masking with sticky notes

I added more colour and pattern area by area, using the distress inks and stencil brushes. This is where the grid I started with comes in. I varied the colour/intensity and pattern in each square, using sticky notes to mask. This was actually a lot of fun, there wasn't much of a plan, I just added colour and pattern (using stencils and stamps) as I thought looked right in each area.

(Did you notice the extra fossil at the bottom? After I added the base colour, I decided I needed another one.)

Ink colour added by grid area, further progress

Here's another progress picture. I did the bottom right last as I was waiting for the masking fluid to dry on the new fossil.

Inking of the background complete

And the end of the inking.

Time for the reveal - removing the masking fluid over all the stamping.

Inking of the background complete, masking fluid removed

This is where I got a bit cautious about what to do next, I didn't want to ruin what I'd done!

I started with distress markers - the sets my hubby has had laid down for me for months are finally mine, as it was my birthday this week!

Distress marker added to leaves and houses

I used these for the leaves around the top, and the roofs, windows and doors of the houses.

At this point last night I went off to bed to ruminate on what to do next - I wanted to add colour to the fossils, ammonite and sea weed, but didn't want them to disappear into the background too much. I had various ideas, but hadn't decided what to do.

Pencil colour added to seaweed and ammonite, plus mica powder

I came back to it today a bit more decisive. I used my new faber castell pencils - they are so lovely! I had deliberately positioned the ammonite across gridlines, so I could colour it in sections. Tying the colours in with the square it was in worked really well I thought. I also bit the bullet and added some mica powder (mixed with water and applied with a paintbrush) to some of the shaded areas, which doesn't show that well in photos, but gives an extra shine, and makes it stand out from the background.

Ammonite, fossil and dragonfly complete

I followed a similar patten on the fossils - including painting some of the black area with gold mica. The parts of the different fossils that fall into the same square match, which ties it in nicely.

The other thing I have changed is the dragonfly wings. The paper tore a little when I removed the masking fluid - the ink may not have been fully dry when I put it on - and I tried to disguise it with a black pen and pencils, then mica. It wasn't terrible, but I wasn't happy either. So I stamped the image again, in dusty concord distress ink, and cut out the wings and glued them on over the originals. Maybe not what I'd have done if I hadn't torn the paper, but I do like it, the wings look more delicate now.

And, look at it closely, and from afar, and squint and - deep breath - I think it's done!

Just need to mount it - a thin black border, then a wider mustard one. And, I initialled it in the bottom corner - owning my work!

And I've finished!

Stamp and ink artwork with ammonite

Hubby seems impressed, thank goodness, even though it won't be a surprise!

I am also pleased with how it turned out. Maybe things that I would do differently next time, but for my first "artwork" of this complexity, I will settle for that.

P.S. Added after the deadline, I thought I'd share my inspiration, a piece of artwork I bought in Cambodia in 2011.

Cambodia artwork - figures and elephant

This is turn is inspired by the carvings at Angkor Wat and other temples, so the rectangles represent the stones of the walls.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Clarity Berkshire - June's play away day

A couple of week's ago, I went to the second Clarity Berkshire workshop with Angela. It's taken a while to get the photos up, but better late than never!

We were using the Meadow Grasses stamp set - this was on my wishlist anyway, so really pleased to get this from the workshop, as well as getting some inspiration on what to do with it.

The first project was a panel card.

We used the bubble stencil to create the background, before overstamping. I went for some bright sunny colours, and a simple sentiment.

We also made a canvas - my first! I have a set of them in a bag upstairs, they've been there for ages now, but I haven't summoned up the time and courage to start using them. Maybe now I've tried it, it won't seem so scary!

The focal point is a card panel, coloured with distress inks and stamped with the meadow grasses again. We also used grunge paste through stencils on the canvas, spritzed on colour, and stamped. Then we played with various embellishments to finish it off.

I can't claim that it's perfect, but for a first attempt I'm pretty happy with this.

As well as the projects I finished, we had a chance to experiment with brushos and bursts - pigment powders that react with water to give some really great effects.

I stamped and heat embossed all my cards before using the pigments. You can also stamp over them once the card is dry.

The first one here is using the black brushos. You can see that it's made up of many colours. I didn't use enough to really show up the white embossed grasses, but I like the effects of the brusho.

This one is also brushos, a mixture of blues and purples.

I love the patterns that formed in the bottom right section. The water moves the pigment around so it's very random, although you can direct it a little, and take colour out again by blotting.

The final one uses bursts. These are much finer, a powder rather than granules, so give a softer effect. They also seem to avoid the resist embossing better (from my sample of one).

Again, you get a lovely mix of colours.

I think I shall have to be tempted into getting a set - not sure which yet. I think I prefer the bursts but I like both, and the brushos are a lot less expensive! Watch this space.

So thanks to Angela for a fun day and lots of new things to try. I'm looking forward already to the next one in September.

In the meantime, I'm getting excited about the Clarity Retreat in July - two days of crafting with Barbara Gray! Can't wait!

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Dream, dream, dream

Daydreamer under tree and "dream", mica on black card

Just a quick one tonight.

The theme for the Berkhamsted Creative Challenge this month is Midsummer Night's Dream, so I've been trying out something new with my Daydreamer stamp, and "Dream" from the word chains (both ClarityStamp).

Daydreamer under tree and "dream", mica on black card
I've had these coloured mica powders for ages, but not really used them - I tend to go for the metallic or white.

However, I got this black glossy Clarity Card at the Open Day last week, so thought I'd try it out.

Daydreamer under tree and "dream", mica on black card

Three different versions of the same - slightly different colour combinations, although you'd get a different result every time even with the same colours.

Not sure what I'll use these for; they could make quite funky cards, or go in a scrapbook, or onto a mixed media canvas even!

Friday, 24 June 2016

A Christmas landscape

Christmas card - landscape with  snowman and greeting on acetate layer

The theme at the 52 Christmas Card Throwdown this week is Christmas Landscapes.

52CCT theme challenge - Christmas Landscapes

A bit of a favourite of mine, this one. I'm having an acetate phase at the moment, so decided to add a slight twist. And of course, I had to use something that had been in my stash for ages unused. This week, it was a sentiment stamp from a set that I can't even remember where I got it - maybe from a magazine? - as well as a snowman from the ClarityStamp Christmas Wee Folk set, and an edge die that I got with a magazine, although I haven't had that for very long.

I started with the landscape background. I tried working straight onto the card blank (13.5cm square) to see how it would take the ink - it took it fine, which kept the card construction clean and simple.

I started with some torn paper hills, using iced spruce distress ink and a blending tool sponge, and added some trees (also from the Christmas Wee Folk).

Snowy landscape - torn paper hills and trees

I used second generation stamping for the more distant trees.

I added a moon mask (that I'd already cut from a post it and used before) then brushed in the sky, using iced spruce again as a base coat. I also used the sponge around the moon to sharpen the edges.

Snowy landscape with moon mask

You can just see the little pencil mark in the sky to show me where the border die is going to sit.

I then darkened the sky with chipped sapphire distress ink - I love this combination for atmospheric skies!

Snowy landscape with moon and trees

The next part of the card is an acetate layer. I positioned it over the background and stamped in my sentiment and snowman. I used stazon permanent ink, as it's quite dry and slides about less than the archival.

Snowman and greeting on acetate layer

While that dried, I die cut my edge piece, from Centura Pearl hint of gold card.

I didn't take a picture of that, so back to the acetate! I dug out my glass paints - I used to do a lot of glass painting, although haven't done anything for years now - to add touches of colour to the snowman's nose, hat and pipe.

Once that had dried, I used gesso to colour him a solid white. All the colour was added from behind, so it didn't obscure the line art.

I also added snow to the acetate - gesso again, and I used the groovi parchment stylus, a trick from Barbara Gray.

Snowman, snow fall and greeting on acetate layer

Then it was just construction. I trimmed the edges of the card base, which were very dark with ink, then lined up the acetate where I wanted it and cut it to size. (I'd deliberately left it a little larger to give me wiggle room.) I cut the border to the right width, with about an inch spare to fold over the back of the card, and scored and folded it. I joined the pieces together with super sticky tape, and a bit of glue on the narrow parts of the border.

Christmas card - landscape with  snowman and greeting on acetate layer

Christmas card - landscape with  snowman and greeting on acetate layer

As the acetate is only attached at the top, it can be lifted to see the simple landscape below.

The end result has the cleanliness I was aiming for, with a bit of fun with this cheeky looking snowman.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Black, white, silver

Black, white and silver Christmas card, with silver mica holly frame and acetate collage Christmas tree

Black, white and silver Christmas card, with silver mica holly frame and acetate collage Christmas tree

The colour theme at the 52 Christmas Card Throwdown this week is black, grey, white and silver.

Lots of ideas for this one (and the gallery on the challenge looks amazing). I nearly didn't get it done, but here we are with an hour or so to go.

So no step by step pictures this week, just the finished card!

The main image is a ClarityStamp, collage tree, stamped onto acetate with stazon permanent ink, and painted on the back with silver mica powder (mixed with water), then mounted onto black card.

The frame is a favourite old holly stamp, with archival permanent ink, and the background is painted with the silver mica powder. This was meant to be a masked frame, but the masking tape tore the card when I took it off despite lots of de-tacking - I'll need to look to get something better quality. I edged the frame with black sharpie.

The background is a pair of mirror image swirls from a charity shop stamp set. This one meets my personal challenge of using something from my stash for the first time. Again I edged it with black sharpie - I wobbled a bit so it ended up a very thick frame.

Lastly, black corner die cuts from a Tattered Lace set.

I used a 7x7 card base, and used foam tape to lift up the frame and tree for dimension.

Hope you like it!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Hurrah for Henry

Birthday card for Henry - funky font, messy green background, black squiggles and swirls

This is a card I made for one of my daughter's friends, for his second birthday.

I tend to think that children that young don't really care about cards, so they're more for the parents. I often use the name, and try to make something they might like to put on the child's door.

This card started with one of the inky backgrounds I made while making my shiny card for May's Berkhamsted Creative Challenge.

The letters of the name came from the ClarityStamp word chains. I haven't got their alphabet (maybe one day when I've been REALLY good!) so this is made using letters from other words - the H and the Y come from either end of Harmony. I masked the rest of the word to ink up the stamp, then removed the mask to stamp. I used permanent black ink.

The patterns around the edge come from two stamp sets. The "seaweed" and wavy lines are the pattern plates, from Clarity again. The circles filling in the gaps are a set I got in a charity shop, which has been incredibly useful.

To finish, I edged the card in black sharpie, and mounted on a 6x6 card base.

If I'm honest, this was a bit of a last minute card so was designed to be quick and easy (I had the background already, and just used one ink with no fancy techniques). But it turned out to be much more effective than I'd expected!  It has a funky feel that I'm really taken with. As there are more second birthdays coming up, this design may get a few more outings yet.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Blue and gold ice skater

Blue and gold shabby chic Christmas Card with ice skating girl

I'm early this week for the 52 Christmas Card Throwdown Challenge. I actually had this finished on Monday morning, but am only just getting to blog it as I'm away at my mum's again.

It's a sketch challenge week:

52 CCT June sketch challenge

I decided to go a bit shabby chic with this one.

I started with 8x10 Clarity stencil card, and added colour with distress inks - tumbled glass, iced spruce, salty ocean, chipped sapphire and peacock feathers. I used a mixture of the brayer and blending tool.

Card coloured to be mottled turquoise blue

I cut into this sheet to get my base layer and the side banner for the sketch.

These I embossed with a Tattered Lace set of folders. I got these ages ago - there were 8 sets being sold as a pack, they include the triangle folders for envelope flaps which are very useful. As I haven't used these ones before, this meets my personal challenge of using something that's been sitting on the shelf for ages! I brayered versa mark over the top very gently, and added mica powder - moon gold and truffle were the names of the colours.

Blue and gold embossed card sections

I do like this turquoise and gold combination.

I cut a scrap of the coloured card into a banner for the sentiment, and stamped "Merry Christmas" onto it - I think this stamp set came with a magazine. I used versa mark again and then truffle mica powder.

Blue and gold banner with Merry Christmas sentiment

For the oval, which is my main image, I used some of the Clarity Christmas wee folk stamps. I was going to use the children throwing snowballs, which I haven't used before so they would double up my "stash" challenge, but they didn't fit well into the space, so I went for a personal favourite, the ice skater.

I used more of the card I'd coloured, adding chipped sapphire to define the landscape - a straight line for the frozen pond then a torn paper mask for the hills behind.

I stamped the wee folk Christmas tree behind the hills, and embossed with a platinum embossing powder. Then added the skater, then more tress around the sides and bottom of the oval.

The platinum matches really well with the mica powders I've used.

I used a versa mark pen to draw round the oval (I was using my fiskars cutting plate as a template) and heat embossed the line as well.

Blue and gold oval image of ice skating girl

I then cut the oval out by hand.

I cut the side banner down to size, to fit a 5x7 card base. To edge the two banners, I did the same as I had on the oval with the versa mark pen and embossing powder.

Blue and gold embossed banner

For the background, I used the pen and then mica powder around the edge, to give a slightly softer look.

Blue and gold embossed background

I wanted lots of height and dimension, so to construct the card I used foam between the layers, and applied with glue. Unfortunately I was a bit heavy handed, so there was a little buckling of the card where it got too wet.

I also lost the holly from my sentiment, as it fitted better with that part hidden under the side banner.

Blue and gold shabby chic Christmas Card with ice skating girl

At this point I thought I was done, and took all my photos.

Close up of ice skating girl on blue and gold shabby chic Christmas Card

Look at my little skater girl, isn't she lovely?

The next morning, I remembered the stars from the original sketch, so thought I'd add some gems.

I had pearls and sparkly gems of different sizes that matched the soft gold colour beautifully. I really couldn't decide which to use, but in the end went with these lovely soft pearls. 

Blue and gold shabby chic Christmas Card with ice skating girl

Blue and gold shabby chic Christmas Card with ice skating girl

I'm glad I dug out these embossing folders, I think they look great. For me, this card has a real chocolate box feel. I think it's a combination of the traditional image and the colours. I can definitely see more versions of this making their way into my Christmas card collection.