I'm travelling into a new way of working, a new country, a new language, and a new hobby which I'm passionate about. Come with me for some of the journey...

Monday, 29 February 2016

Doll Exhibition at Calico Craft Parts

Hello all and happy Leap Day!  as promised, I've got something new for you for the extra day of the year.  I've got a new project to share with you over at Calico Craft Parts - my last one before I break for a sabbatical which will allow me to carry on with my work travels with a little less pressure (thank you, Zuzu!).  So it's your last chance for several months to catch me playing with the Calico Craft Parts.

After my recent floral extravaganza for Calico, I'm back on the flowers again, but this time accompanying an exhibit of dolls of one kind or another.  I hope you'll hop over there to see what's on display as Exhibit A.  Thanks so much for stopping by today, and I hope as I head to Hong Kong that internet access should become altogether easier.  Certainly my timetable will ease up a little bit soon.  I may even be round for some visiting, though I don't recommend holding your breath!

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.
Emma Goldman

Friday, 26 February 2016

Encore - The Peace in Crafting

Encore Posts
While I'm away, there are some scheduled posts with new creations coming your way, but I'm also taking the chance to do some catching up here at Words and Pictures.   Projects which made their first appearances elsewhere for Design Team duties or Guest Designer opportunities, but which only had a sneak peek here, are being gathered together in the pages of my virtual scrapbook.  I'm calling them "Encore" posts and they're formatted differently (all the way down the centre), so you can spot them easily.
Please don't feel that you have to comment all over again!

We're zooming back in time with this post to October 2013, and one of my creations for PaperArtsy during my semester as one of their inaugural guest designers.  (You can see why I need to do some catching up around here!)  These tags also reveal that adding real dried flowers, as I did in my recent excursions Imagine Simplicity and Flourishing Florals, is actually nothing new to me!  In any case, here's what I wrote back then...

The craft-time for this week's makes was carved out of the sharp end of a chaotic house-moving schedule, so I wanted to allow myself some pure crafting joy.  There's nothing necessarily ground-breaking here technically, just me having fun with lovely paints, stamps and inks.

I started with two tags, a stencil, some medieval music on the CD player, and one of my favourite ways to create a background.

I love working with paints and inks next to each other for the contrast.  And Fresco paints with their chalky finish are particularly good against translucent Distress Inks - even the translucent Frescos, though for the full effect you probably want some opaques involved.

I sponged three of my favourite colours through the stencil onto one tag, and then flipped the stencil straight over onto tag 2 and pressed down to transfer the paint onto the the tag surface.

I love doing this, as it gives me a pair of tags straight off - which always sets my brain off working on partner pieces.

Next I grabbed some Distress Inks...

(again, some of my favourite colours)

... and used blending tools...

... to build up areas of colour...

... around and over the paint.

Next step is some spritzing and flicking... 

I usually let the water sit on the surface for a few moments before applying some paper towel to soak up the droplets, and then drying with a heat tool.

I never tire of this look, or of the glowing ink against the chalky paint.

As you'll have worked out by now, I like building up layers in my backgrounds, so it's time to add some stamping.  I used the Ink and the Dog Words 2 plate and some more Mermaid paint for the first layer, applying the paint to the stamp with a bit of Cut'n'Dry foam.

The opaque paint really holds its own against the busy background.

I used the same stamp, but this time with some Aquamarine Archival ink to add another layer.

So, now, what to do with my two beautiful backgrounds?!

Leandra included some Tando arches in my goody box, and the Gothic shape suited the mood created by the music and the crafting so far.

So, some more favourite colours, blended directly onto the arches...

... and then some Crackle Glaze over the top.

Back to lovely Mermaid, combined with some Snowflake, to go over the top of the Crackle Glaze.

I applied it with a sponge instead of a brush to get a random porcelain crackle rather than directional "woody" crackle.

And then I inked it with some Mowed Lawn DI, so that it would tie in with the background even more.  Some more stamping now, and time to introduce my main stamp sets for this month's posts: the Urban Snapshots Nature plates.  I stamped two of the leafy images direct onto the solid arch shapes...

... using Potting Soil Archival ink - how's that for a "natural, earthy" colour?!

And I stamped two of the sentiments onto some plain paper in the same colour.

Out with my favourite Vintage Photo to do some edging around the sentiments.

And of course, I ended up blending some Vintage Photo onto the edges of the tags too.

I love how the ink takes differently according to whether it's over ink or paint, creating different textural layers.

I arranged all the elements using padded tape in either single, double or even triple layers to give various levels of dimension.

The final ingredient came direct from nature: some dried Grape Hyacinth seed heads from my mother's garden in the Czech Republic.

They're so beautiful and very delicate... I bound a couple of stems together with raffia to get the shape I wanted within (and without) the frames.

So there's my pair of tags... it took a while playing with the composition of the elements to get them to complement each other.

I started with positioning the hollow arches to "frame" some of my favourite bits of the background, but then once the seed heads arrived, I realised it was better to position the frame to avoid my favourite bits, otherwise they got to covered up by the flowers!

I kept the topping for the tags very simple and natural too: some lengths of raffia tied together with twine.

I'm really happy with the dimensional layering of the elements.

And overall, these tags gave me some real peace and solace in the midst of a very trying time... crafting comes to the rescue again!  I hope they inspire you to indulge in some joyful creating too.

So there's another piece of time travel for you - back to October 2013 - but on Monday - Leap Day! - there's a brand new treat for you.  I hope you'll be able to stop by and see it.

Monday will also be my last day with the dodgy internet connections and Virtual Private Network complications of China.  Once I'm in Hong Kong I should be able to come visiting again.  I've managed to leave the odd calling card, but I've missed being able to see what you're all up to.   I've had more luck visiting the non-Blogger bloggers, as it's the Google sites which are tricky to access here, but hopefully, that should change soon... in the meantime, happy crafting all!

There is no path to peace.  Peace is the path.
Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Encore - Inspire Journey

Encore Posts
While I'm away, there are some scheduled posts with new creations coming your way, but I'm also taking the chance to do some catching up here at Words and Pictures.   Projects which made their first appearances elsewhere for Design Team duties or Guest Designer opportunities, but which only had a sneak peek here, are being gathered together in the pages of my virtual scrapbook.  I'm calling them "Encore" posts and they're formatted differently (all the way down the centre), so you can spot them easily.
Please don't feel that you have to comment all over again!

Here's a tag which was created for an Embossing and Texture theme when I was on the team with The Artistic Stamper.  Here's what I said back in April 2014...

Well, you all know I love texture - so there was just no stopping me with this challenge theme!

I started by creating a wrinkle-free distress background with Distress Stains and Paints, and added some Distress Ink blended through the new Crafter's Workshop Specimen stencil.

I used Grunge Paste through different areas of the same stencil to create the texture, inking over it before dry brushing with white paint.

The beautiful butterfly is from the Insects and Butterflies plate.

He's stamped in Cobalt Archival and clear embossed for that sunlit shimmer.

I dry-brushed some more white paint onto an Idea-ology Muse Token to alter it slightly.

I stamped the gorgeous Calligraphy Mats #8 in Picket Fence Distress Paint to add more layers to the background.

And the two large words are from the Journalling Words #2 set...

... stamped in Potting Soil on and clear embossed, with some inking on the edges for definition.

It's all layered up on a piece of pale card and then onto some corrugated cardboard.

And the twine and seam-binding, delicately tinted with Distress Stains, provide the final touch at the top.


Thanks so much for stopping by for the first of these Encore posts.  I should be in Shanghai by the time you're reading this, so I'm still not sure about getting on some websites (including Google-based ones, so Blogger, basically!), but fingers crossed I'll see you again soon.

The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same.  Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.
Don Williams

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Fired up for the journey

Hello all!  It's been a busy week what with Flourishing Floral Extravaganzas, and Reflections of Dragonflies, and now I'm back with another scheduled post and it's a teasing sneak peek.  I'm hoping this time to send you off to the Country View Crafts Projects blog to catch a taste of the fabulous new PaperArtsy White Fire Fresco Paint.

I've always been a massive fan of the White Fire Treasure Gold - hands down my favourite colour of gilding wax ever - and now it exists as a paint, metallic sheen and all.  Colour me happy!

(If you saw my Head in a Book recently, made before the paint existed, you'll know how much simpler life would have been if I'd had some of this stuff then!)  

This is the first of a couple of projects using the paint, and I hope you'll be able to hop over and check it out.

We should be just about to put on the third of the shows in Beijing as you read this - all being well - and I've workshops all day tomorrow, then it's off to Shanghai on Monday, so it's appropriate that my ATCs should be travel themed, I guess.  Hope you're enjoying a great weekend everyone, and see you soon.

Travel and change of place impart new vigour to the mind.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Reflection of a Dragonfly

Hello all.  I'm glad you enjoyed my Flourishing Floral extravaganza over at Calico.  It's nice to let my opulent side out every now and then.  Watch out for more similar lines as I make further inroads on my craft stash through the year!

Today it's time for some more background-focus with my second piece of inspiration for Sue's brilliant Make Your Own Background theme at Country View Challenges.  We're just over half way through, so there's still plenty of time to play along, and here's a pair of tags which may nudge you in to action.

I've been at the wrinkle free distress technique again - nothing I like better than smooshing and sweeping through the inky colours to create endless variations on a splotchy theme!  I almost always have enough ink on the craft mat for at least two tags, and so I often end up working in pairs.  This time I planned ahead sufficiently to have one tag already primed with gesso so that my two tags would end up with even more variation from one another.

It's a colour combination I fell in love with when Wilted Violet arrived in the world last year... so there's some of that, obviously, along with Ground Espresso and Stormy Sky.

The dark tag was the recipient of the first smoosh, then the gesso'd tag went next, then I carried on alternating, dabbing and drying, until all the ink was used up.  Simple!

From there, I just followed my fancy.   The dragonfly always makes me happy, so he's embossed in white over the darker inks...

... and embossed in Bark over the paler background.  Some powder got onto the ink which wasn't quite dry in places, but that's what embracing imperfection is all about.

I added my all-time favourite Idea-ology pieces, the Word Bands, mounted over some torn book page fragments and secured with fine twine as well as a blob or two of glue.

I added some complementary scribbling too - white over the dark, and dark over the light.

A few wooden buttons add an extra dimensional touch, and even a bit of extra texture in some cases.

Crinkle ribbon dyed with the same inky colours tops the tags off...

... tied with the same fine twine as the Word Bands to create another echo within each tag.

The aim was always to try to let those inky splotches take centre stage...

This is a Backgrounds challenge after all!

Very quick, but oh so pleasurable.  I hope they give you pleasure too, and that they'll inspire you to Make Your Own Background too, and come along and join us at Country View Challenges.

As always, there's a prize voucher from Country View Crafts on offer to a randomly drawn winner - but you've got to be in it to win it!

Thanks so much for stopping by today.  This is one of several scheduled posts which will be coming your way - some of them new projects, some of them "Encores" of pieces which made their first appearances elsewhere and are going to be brought in under the Words and Pictures roof over the next few weeks and months.

It's unclear how reliable my internet access is going to be on my travels, but I will be doing my best to keep up with you all when I can.  After all, without access to my craft desk I'll need to get my crafting hit somehow... I'm counting on Craftyblogland!

We cannot see our reflection in running water.  It is only in still water that we can see.
Taoist proverb

I'd like to make this my third and final entry into Stamps and Stencils challenge, Splatter, Spritz and Smoosh - I do enjoy doing all those things - but this one is principally smooshing!