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.