Monday, 24 September 2018

DIY Tombstones

Halloween with a ghost story! All the ingredients for a great fright fest right there!

Its almost time for Halloween and as most card makers (and other crafters) know,  this is the most fun that you can have at your craft table! All of those ghosties, ghoulies and vampires not to mention a zombie or two are just a blast and you can let your creativity run wild.

There are so many elements to these cards but for today, I want to concentrate on those tombstones.

I love to create cards with scenes sometimes which tell a story. This year, ghosts and graveyards have caught my imagination and that meant tombstones! 

Once you have the idea down, you can experiment with different shapes.

Now you can buy some great dies to make these but that still leaves you with a flat and somewhat uninteresting piece of card or paper a bit of a far cry from a real, aged, dimensional and pitted headstone, the sort that you might find in a very old graveyard.

I spooked myself making this one - there is something very chilling about two children alone in an old graveyard as dusk gathers, one sitting on her own headstone.....

So enter the noble art of the faux finish (another love of mine as my regular readers will attest). This is an easy to achieve effect and it will add an extra something to your work. 
I am starting from scratch for those of you who have not got a tombstone die  and I will show you how to draw a tombstone. If you have a die, please use that and just go from the cutting bit onwards.

So what will we need?
- a piece of grey board (or chip board in some places). Mine is about 1 mm thick. I am sorry but I do not know what this is in old money. I found mine on eBay in packs of 10 A4 sheets.
-white acrylic paint. I am using Snow White from DecoArt Americana
-Distress Ink- I love Black Soot.
-black marker pen
-white gel pen
-some thin alphabet dies and hearts, the sort of thing that you might find on a headstone. I love Thinlits by Sizzix
-a wood grain embossing folder. my favourite is the Tim Holtz 3D one. Seems an odd choice since we are going for stone but bear with me!
-water spray bottle, scissors and a die cutting machine.
-your usual crafting needs

Okay, so here we go! To begin with, draw a simple tombstone shape on your  grey board....

Start simple with a classic shape. You can then progress to other shapes to add variety.

Now that is nice, but it has no dimension at all and we need some of that so make a second line from the top to the right hand side.

You can already see that it has shape and dimension!

Simply draw a line as though you wanted to widen the initial shape.
Now cut it out with a sharp pair of scissors....

The best thing is that you drawing does not have to be perfect! These grave stones get wonky and pitted with age and elements - just say that is what you were going for!

Make a few of these at a time because you can put them away to use later once the main parts are done.

Now you have a piece of flat card and if you are die cutting the shape, this is where you come in. The next thing to do is to add texture.
A wood grain folder may seem like an odd choice to do this with but actually it works well because it is subtle. 
The first thing to do is to spritz both sides of the cardboard shape with plain water and put it into the embossing folder with the usual 'sandwich' of plates.

Make a few at once to save time later 

Now run it through the machine three times. 

Magic is happening!

Next, let's bring out a bit of the texture by inking with Black Soot Distress ink....

It still looks a bit wood grainy but that will disappear in a bit.
Of course, the dimensional bit on the right hand side is not there for the fun of it! Make that bit darker with the black ink. You will see it easier on the next shot.

But where there is a shadow, there MUST be a highlight to compliment it. Put some of the white acrylic paint onto your mat and dab it with your finger to spread it out a bit. Take a tiny amount on your finger (think applying eye shadow) and rub it lightly across the grain lines on the front of the gravestone only.....

It doesn't have to be perfectly on the line either, some blurring of the line will help with the aged appearance.
As you can see from the photo above, this makes the black on the side stand out and gives a lot of texture. Keep adding and layering a bit at a time until you are happy with the effect. Concentrate the highlight to the top and the left hand side.

It is time to add the letters.
Now you will not have much room so I advise sticking to 'RIP' and some nice smaller motifs like hearts and crosses.

I have swapped to my Side Kick but you do not have to.
 I love the Thinlits letters for this. They are deep enough to etch the message into the card and break the paper fibres so that you can dig them out but they do not cut all the way through. The card is still damp too so it makes it all easier.

Run it through your die cutting machine.....

The side Kick is right at home on the glass mat! It HATES my wooden desk top and will NOT stick to it!

Gently remove the letters and motif (some of the P came away with mine but that doesn't matter). 

It may be my eyes but I am sure that this pic is blurry! Sorry about that! You can still see what is needed though.

Now take something sharp and precise. I love my trusty surgical scalpel for this job. The idea is to dig the top layers of the letters out, leaving some card behind.

Channel your inner neurosurgeon!

When you have done this, it is time to do some final highlights and shadows - as you can see, the lettering is nice and deep but not weathered enough so.....

It is starting to look like something!

Go back in with the black marker and make some shadows on the right hand side of the letters. Make some coming down from the top too to show deeper fissures in the stone.

All of my shadows are on the right and the highlights are on the left. This must reflect the general direction of the light to look realistic in the scene. However, I choose this direction because I am right handed. if you are left handed, do the opposite and make sure that you back it up with a light source coming the other way when you assemble the card.

Next to every shadow must be a highlight so go in with the white gel pen and make the highlights. Dot and dab to make them look more like pitted stone. A continuous and unbroken like looks too new.

The marker shadows can be a bit harsh. I went back in with my water brush and a bit of Black soot  to soften it.

And there you have it! Experiment and see what you can come up with. 

RIP is a great go-to and you can put it on most of the headstones.

I have added some grass made from plain black paper to fill gaps.

When you build your scene, always start from the back and build forward.

These gravestones can be stacked in quite thickly and angled to show where they have collapsed with time. Have a play!

Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Lined Boxy Bag

Bag making must be the most fun EVER!
So there is a feeling of spring about at the moment and my little daffodils are poking their heads above the ground and flowering like mad. 

Let's poke our heads outside to take a look before we start!
My thyme is getting going too. Boy do I have plans in the kitchen when it does!

The brighter weather is nice and it is getting the ideas flowing - like when do they ever stop! So with general brightness and pretty things in mind, I thought that you might like a bag project to get stuck into....

Fully lined too! No zig-zag edges inside.
I have wanted to make a boxy bag forever but I don't like the ones so much with unfinished inside edges. As my regular readers will know, the OCD really raises its head when it comes to unfinished seams inside things. I want everything fully lined and I don't like zig-zag edges.

Practical and pretty.
Well you will be pleased to know that we will not be having any thing of the sort here! The boxy pouch that I ended up making is perfectly finished inside and out and it isn't difficult to do it either. I will give lots of tips along the way.

Not too big but very roomy.

Okay, so what do we need....
-2 FQs of fabric. One will be for the lining and one for the outer.
-FQ H630 fusible wadding (Vlieseline)
-FQ style-vil foam interfacing (Vlieseline)
-30cm (12") Bundfix tape (Vlieseline)
-30cm (12") zipper
-small leather scrap for the label -about 10cm (4" sq.)
-10cm (4") baker's twine (Berisfords)
-stamp of your choice
-Ranger Archival ink: jet black
-Sizzix Big Shot manual die cutting machine
-Sizzix oval die
Your usual bag making needs

All seam allowances are 0.5cm (1/4") and please read through the whole pattern before beginning - and make sure that you have all of your ingredients assembled!

Here is your template before we begin. I have put a 2.5 cm (1") box so that you can tell if it is the right size.

I have added in the measurements in case your printer is not playing nice. You can actually draw it yourself using this information - remember that it must go on the fold though.

Make the label first. Cut an oval using the die and die cutter and stamp it with your chosen image. 

Love bags of leather scraps which are available online for less money than you would think.
These dies are great value for money and provide different sizes of die cuts.

I love these labels. they are made with next to nothing and they really lift the project.
I have used a bee stamp for mine to go with the flowers....

Particularly like this one.

Any papercraft stamp will do brilliantly for this job. As long as it doesn't have too much fine detail. Practise on a scrap if you are in doubt.

This one has a fair bit of detail. If your leather is a bit shiny, lightly sand it with sand paper. The stamp and ink will thank you and it will look distressed.
Right...handle next...

The handle can be as long or short as you need.

Take the piece of Bundfix tape and a piece of fabric 7cm wide x 30cm long (2 3/4" x 12") and fuse the tape to the wrong side of the fabric.
Use the perforations on the tape to fold the handle in half and then fold the raw edges to the centre and topstitch along both  sides.

Using a matching thread is so important in bag making. Always take the time to do it. Sometimes the thread in the top and in the bobbin will be different to match the outer and the lining. Well worth the faff!

The handle is now ready to use and when we get to that bit, you can shorten it if you want to.

Use the template to cut two pieces from your outer fabric and two pieces of lining. Fuse H630 to the wrong side of the outer fabric and then lay this onto a slightly larger piece of Style-vil foam interfacing. Attach with a very narrow seam and then trim the foam back to the size and shape of the fabric.

Slightly and gently stretch the interfaced outer fabric over the foam so that it sits super neatly when it is attached. This is all easier if you don't trim the foam until after you have finished.

Put the zip in next. The zip is a bit too long but it can be trimmed in a a later step. 

The most important thing with this step is to finish and start sewing 2 cm (3/4") in from each end.

Lay one of the interfaced outer pieces down and lay the zipper along one long side (it matters which if you have a directional print). Lay the lining right sides together with the outer panel to make a zipper 'sandwich'. Pin and sew along the length of the zip starting and stopping 2 cm (3/4") in from each end.
Sew and then open out and topstitch, aslo starting and stopping 2 cm (3/4") from either end.

The topstitching either side of the zip helps the lining behave.

Sew the base next and also the base of the lining but when you do the lining, leave a turning gap.

This is why you started and stopped sewing a couple of centimetres in from each edge.

Bring the outer ends together including the zip and sew across. do both ends and repeat for the lining. 
Box the corners now on the outer and the lining and then turn out through the gap and close it.
Stuff the lining down into the bag.

Little finishing touches like this make the project!

Tie the piece of baker's twine through the zipper pull.

And that's it! A cute boxy bag which is FQ friendly. There has to be a good reason not to make 10!
I can think of a hundred uses for this one!

Have plans to make more of these!
Those of you in the Northern Hemisphere will notice that this post is a bit late in the year! When I wrote it, the daffodils certainly were poking their heads up - they have long since disappeared! It is late summer now but they looked so nice in the garden, I did not have the heart to get rid of the photos to bring it more up to date. I am pretty sure that some of you will find it in your hearts to forgive me in time :-).

Thank you for stopping by and I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial.
See you next time!

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Hobby Craft Challenge- Ten Cards from One Collection

A lot of people talk to me about cards for the men in their lives and I agree - if it wasn't for steampunk, there would not be too much for the guys.

So what to do about it!? Well I think that this collection from Hobby Craft in the UK is a great answer. So with that in mind, in collaboration with Hobby Craft, I set about using one collection to create ten cards. 

They could be given to anyone of course but the main part of the brief was to come up with a collection for men and boys.

Here we go!

The first of my makes is a square on a kraft blank. I layered simply with black card and the papers from the kit including a banner down the middle and some embellishments. I loved the puffy stickers.

Number two is another square 6" kraft blank and this time I stitched the paper down. There are some super cute hexie frames in the collection too and one made a perfect frame for a die cut. The bow is made with some twine wrapped around my first two fingers and the tied in the middle. it stays put beautifully and it can be glued anywhere.

Next had to have the bear stamp! I coloured the stamp with some Tim Holtz Distress markers and then glossed the fussy cut image with ranger Glossy Accents. My favourite thing on this card (apart from the delicious washi tape) are the cute wooden arrows which make for great dimension.

No camping trip is complete without critter spotting! I cut a stag head with a Christmas die (not in the collection but it really matches well and is a good lesson about looking at what you have to go with new stuff). you can see another string bow and more washi tape. The little crystals are great too and add a bit of sparkle.

I wanted to make some cards which were really simple and very quick. this is one of those! Simple use a piece of the paper and some die cut letters in black. The puffy stickers yielded a woolly hat and another arrow. And of course some twine wraps and a bow.
when you do this, wrap the twine first and the make the bow separately and use the tails of the twine wrap to tie the bow on. a dob of glue keeps it all in place.

Right! From one extreme to the other here! The last one was simple and this one is anything but. I used grey card stock for the background and made a little tent from some yellow paper. a puffy sticker made the camp fire and then I dived into the Christmas dies to find one which was perfect for the trees. my favourite way to frame a card is with sewing machine stitching. As you can see, it really sets it off nicely.

Simple again for hurried card needs. This one used washi tape and twine wrap and then a simple message in black die cut. I love this font which is a Sizzix one and designed by Tim Holtz. It is called cutout lower. I used some glittery copper washi tape which is not in the collection and a wooden arrow. Some copper coloured diamantes add interest.

I really would not be me if I didn't ink something! This time it is a piece of white card inked with some Ranger Distress Inks so that I could frame it with a wooden hexie and die cut a little lantern.
I made the words from my Sizzix font and I used some card onto which I had painted with acrylic paint using my Gelli plate. If you like that, I have a tute here. It is really easy and effective and the scrappy bits can be used for die cutting.

Back to a bit more complicated again! Another tent and you can really freehand this without a die. I laminated two pieces of paper together and then cut a triangle. cut about 2/3 of the way up from the middle bottom and then fold the flaps back. I cut some thin strips for the poles which you can just see at the top. a puffy sticker made the sign on the tent.
And then LOTS of trees from a Christmas die set. The stars this time are from a Sizzix Halloween Witch die set - here again, never assume that you have to stick to using things in sets. If something has a component that you need, use it!

Lucky last and actually one of my favourites! I made this one because a camp fire is really important and it must have sparks coming up from it! I free handed the flames and then inked them. the logs are some more gelli printed scraps (seriously do check that tute and give it a go. It gives you the best components for your projects and you can bulk make and then have them on hand).

Well that's it! I do hope that you have enjoyed them and that you are a bit inspired. These would be great for Father's Day and you still have time....

Thank you for stopping by! See you next time.