Friday, 27 October 2017

Wicked & Cruel Halloween Card

Deep and dark Victoriana.
To my eternal disquiet, no country that I have even lived in (Australia and the United Kingdom) or been very close to (Germany) has even done anything with Halloween on the fun scale that America does. Oh yes, US of A, you know how to throw a national party!

Well, I am wondering how to get around this. I love the imagery around Halloween and I love the ideas and the whole thing - except for the over indulgence in sugar as I said in a previous post. Sugar is wicked in a way that a wicked witch can never be!

Where did all that blood come from - the stuff that Victorian penny dreadfuls are made of!
I have decided (my own opinion so please feel free to disagree) that if we do Halloween at all here in the UK, a Victorian baddie must feature. We don't have the witch culture so much but we do have the Victorian poisoner. The Dracula imagery and of course, that eternal favourite of mine, Steampunk which lends itself beautifully from time to time to darker images. 

All very well to point the finger of blame at the raven.
So I am hijacking these things to make a British Halloween card, the way that I interpret what we do. We don't have the house to house trick or treating so much but we do have living history. You can walk through places that look like a living Disneyland. Except they are not. The magic here is very real and the old shops really were old shops and they have been trading since way back when.

Halloween Britisher style - telling the story.

Halloween is real and it is really happening. And here, without further ado folks, is my take on a British Halloween card!

Ink with Tim Holtz Distress Inks and then blend, blend, blend.
I started with a piece of white card stock cut just a bit smaller than needed and inked it with distress inks in old paper, pumice stone and scattered straw with blotches of shabby shutters and crushed olive. Then I blended them together and added a spritz of water.

Next came the blood splatters which was a liberally watered down DecoArt Americana acrylic paint in a suitable red. Make this really watery and flick at random (being prepared for it to go everywhere).

A Christmas stencil was even pressed into active service for the stars in the background! Nothing is off limits!
I embossed the side with a flourish and then highlighted that with wild honey distress ink. Tying it all together is an application of black soot ink on the card edges. Make this a bit random.

Stamps next with three shady looking gentlemen, some words, text and an accusing finger. Ranger archival ink in this in jet black and boy do those foam stamps (for the word Never) work beautifully! They give such a dense saturation of colour!
I had some remnant rubs too for the 13 and oct.

Always be prepared to mix fonts. Here I could not fit the whole word 'nevermore' with the foam stamps so I swapped to a smaller courier font. You still get the idea and nothing is lost.
Time to bring out the dies next and I resurrected  an old favourite raven. It is a great Tim Holtz one (Raven and Scaredy Cat) and  splatter him too. He is just cut from black card stock.

The raven sings 'nevermore' eternally.
The card needed a sentiment of some sort and for inspiration, I used the classic Victorian shop sign idea of two names which could mean something else. In this case, my fictional undertakers Messrs Wicked & Cruel should have rethought the name of their business!

Wicked was cut from a Halloween words die straight onto brown card stock and cruel was actually the Gothic foam stamps again and this time embellished with Ranger Glossy Accents.

The paper on the word background was a little boring so it was a good opportunity to add some more stamps in the steampunk and Halloween style and a bit of silver glitter paper behind the '&' to draw the eye.
I matted the main picture with some grungy brown paper and then the whole lot onto some more grungy brown paper and added some machine stitching as a nod to my day job.

Brown (Tim Holtz would be pleased to know) is an essential feature of Victorian imagery. It is a great default and works well with black.
Finally, Victorian undertakers and the like were awfully fond of black crepe bows on their hats and bits and pieces so I found some faux silk ribbon (bought for making silk roses way back in the day and never used - see I told you not to throw anything away!). It was a nice shade of dark purple which was almost there but a few drops of alcohol ink made it a nice funereal black.

When I dyed the ribbon, I deliberately left some purple bits. The result is quite sinister.
I tied The ribbon in a bow on the side of the card, reminiscent of the crepe mourning bows on hats and carriages.

All of the elements together add up to a sinister story about back alley proprietors and shady goings on behind closed doors. if ever there is a suspicious body to dispose of....Messrs Wicked & Cruel can be relied upon to not ask questions.
The whole card is very Edgar Allen Poeish. His name appears in the top left corner and Nevermore is the utterance of the bird in Poe's narrative poem The Raven.

I love things that tell a story and are full of imagery so this sort of Halloween card is perfect for me!

Don't want to give it away now!
I hope that you like it too and will be inspired to make something dark and dreadful (in a good way!) for Halloween.
This project has used mainly Tim Holtz and Ranger products although I paid for them myself and no requests or payment have been made to me by either company. I use this stuff because I love it!
See you soon!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Autumn is Here - Let's Nest!

The beautiful forest in Norfolk. Seriously, what could be better!?
Boy oh boy do I love this time of the year! One of the main reasons that I left Australia for cooler climes on the other side of the world was the seasons. Bless Oz but you can look out of a window in some places and January looks the same as July. 

Beeches are my favourite. It used to be oaks until I was more exposed to beech forests.
And the seasons are all swapped around - Christmas comes in the high summer and trust me when I say, very few people do the beach barbie thing. No we opt for a traditional roast with all the trimmings in the heat - one of the trimmings is flies.

I have always had a fascination with mushrooms in the wild!
Nasty. No, I want seasons and I want to live where things happen like they should. And now we have one of may favourite times of the year. Autumn!

Oh wow, what a pop of colour
My friends are doing nesty things making jam and chutney and foraging in the hedges for blackberries. Halloween is looming and I am itching to make a Halloween card and I have just the friend to give it to. Halloween is sadly not big over here in England but I still love the imagery.

I think that we have to agree that Norfolk is a bit nice :-) 
I have been making cards and crocheting at night in front of the fire and I have been thinking about warm toasty toes which brings me to felted slippers!

Not begging for Christmas....honest 😀
Now this is a great upcycle make so if you have a woollen jumper or can find one in a charity shop, all you have to do is to machine wash it on the hottest setting  with detergent and it will really shrink down. Throw a couple of tennis balls into the wash and that will help things along. This is the quickest way to make felt. And the hotter the wash the better!

Look at those colours!
I made mine from a beautiful scarf that my Mum made me. I loved the colours and the purest of wool but it really ate my neck. In the end, I had to give up wearing it. So I asked my Mum if she would mind if I made it into something else. Predictably she said yes so I started thinking about slippers.

If you do not have a jumper or a scarf, grab some felting wool (often called by the German name of Filtz wolle) and then either knit or crochet a giant rectangle. Remember that it will shrink a bit and you are better off to have some left over. Then felt your giant rectangle as described above.
This is a very simple pattern and here is the template that I designed. They are cut quite high on the instep because otherwise, they can slip off but don't worry, there is plenty of stretch.

The part of the upper where you put your foot in is cut deliberately small because it is easier and better practice to cut this to fit. It is easier than putting it back I found!
Measure your foot and have a play with the sizing. Please forgive me but I do not have a printer and everyone's feet are a little different anyway so the best way is to have a play and when the pattern fits your feet, it is the right size. This is what I do just in case the computer has done something awful to my sizing! I am a UK size 6 and these fit with some ease.

Looking more like a Norman helmet now!

My scarf wasn't very wide so I cut two uppers and joined them with a zig-zag stitch. If you have more room to work you could just cut on the fold if your fabric isn't too bulky.

My original design was cut too low on the instep so I redrew them higher up. You can cut lower though and because felt doesn't fray, it is up to you how low your go. I just cut an extra piece and secured it into the gap with some cross stitches. These slippers are very forgiving! I have drawn the pattern with the higher cut already there so that you don't have to guess.

Cut the foam interfacing a wee bit smaller than the the leather and wool sole layers. It looks a bit unsightly peeking out from the side of the soles when you are finished.

The soles were a mixture of leather on the bottom, some style-vil foam interfacing (Vlieseline) and then some wool felt for the inner lining.
You don't need to line the slipper itself.

Place the upper onto the sole and then sew the edge. Here again, the felt will not fray and it looks quite nice to have the edges exposed and unfinished. Just give them a trim.

I made a leather layered flower for the instep too- This is a lovely Sizzix die from Tim Holtz (Tattered Florals) and it cuts beautifully through the leather. 

You can see my Frankenstein style stitching where I made the instep higher too. Oh the joys of designing! Any other time, I might have just discarded the uppers but my Mum made me this scarf so every little bit was precious. At least it shows that most mistakes are fixable!

A snowflake button completed the picture.

So toasty toes now and Autumn can throw all of its beauty my way!
I am off to make Halloween cards now.

See you next time

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Halloween Cards

I love the idea of Halloween. I love the imagery and the colours and the fun. The only thing that I have trouble with is handing out huge amounts of candy to children - not because I am some sort of stingy scrooge. I just don't want to play any part in their health downfall. All that sugar scares me. Well at least that is in the spirit of ghosties and ghoulies! Halloween is supposed to be scary. I am just not sure if I have it right....

I love this time of year!

Well one thing that I am down with is Halloween card making! As my regulars will know, I am a sewist and I make bags and quilts most of the time. But I paint too and crochet. I love making jewellery and cards are my hobby. I have filled several scrapbooks and I like macrame. Okay, so I do a bit of everything. Except knitting. You do not need to see my knitting.

This post is all about the cards. And in particular, a bit of ink blending that I did on these two with Tim Holtz Distress Inks....

Cannot beat Halloween for card inspiration!

I love blending and I could do it all day. if my editors, to whom I owe work didn't have an opinion on it, I would indeed do it all day!

I used some darker silver glitter paper for the stars, And some stitching - it can be hard to put a border on a darker coloured card. Machine stitching to the rescue! And if it is too full on, tone it down with some ink.

These cards are mostly die cuts (thank you Sizzix) and some embellishments but this time, I really want to concentrate on the blending of the background itself.

Loving that glow!

I started with a piece of plain white card stock and some squeezed lemonade, wild honey, seedless preserves and black soot ink

I used a blending tool and loaded with squeezed lemonade and started in the centre, just slightly off the middle

go for a circular motion to get an airbrushed effect and never stop too long in the one place.

When I was happy with the yellow glow, I introduced wild honey to the edges and blended some more

Do be prepared to go back to the previous colour each time to help with a seamless blend.

You can go back into squeezed lemonade to keep it seamless too. Next came the seedless preserves, just a little at first and then a fair bit more

It is interesting at this point how the card still looks light. like daytime. But what happens when we add black....

I think that I will make a galaxy card out of this one. I can see a nebula there now...

I went in with black soot from the sides and then right up to the seedless preserves

Here again, you can go back to purple and blend.

And there we go! When you put the witch or the house over this, you will get an eerie glow. 
Splatter some white paint 'stars' to add texture to the background. i use DecoArt Americana Warm White

The house card is the same deal but swap out twisted citron for seedless preserves.

The moon is stamped onto glitter paper with an Altenew 'to The Moon' stamp set. It took several goes so use a stamping platform for best results.

I am going to work on another colour palette for Christmas now but first I have a mind to stencil a background or two. My Mother-in-law's birthday is coming up.....

Here is the Autumn inspired card that I made for my mother-in-law.

See you next time!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Did You Know........A New Challenge!

Just looking at my majorly large (again) pile of scraps and bits and wondering (again) what to do with them all and I got to of the piles is a trial pile of orphan quilt blocks where I tried out a design and then thought, nah...I would go mad if I had to make a whole quilt out of that!

Others are trial blocks where I thought, 'I love that but what about the colour...' and me being me, I could not throw the proto type away. And so they built up. Now it is ridiculous. Again.

I am obviously not going to change so my next thing is to find a way to use them.

Mats are useful so if you have some orphan blocks, don't think BIGGER, think smaller! You may be closer to some finished items than you think.
Idea number one is that any orphan quilt block can become a mat! I know right, how simple is that! Mats are useful. You can use them on the table as a mug rug, mismatched coasters, placemats, under vases and pot plants and as teensy mini quilts. Think dolly quilts for little people in your life.
Anyway, here is my first find in the scrap basket....

Really loved the way this mountain turned out but it was too small. That is the problem with designing. Win some and lose some. Even the losses can be made good though.
Now you will have to add some pieces. Today's example is one that I made to see if I could make  a wonky mountain for a larger project. Turned out that I could but the trial piece wasn't quite big enough. So I put it aside and started again.

Well it might not be big enough for a quilt or cushion but it is a perfect mug rug and you might not believe this but I don't have one of those!

I have auditioned some fabrics to go with it and then I started by adding one large neutral piece to the side of it and a black and white underneath.

Then I decided that this would not be a bound piece but a bagged out project. This meant that I had to hunt for a scrap of wadding (those build up too!).
Then I needed backing fabric. I put both of these together and then did the bagging out thing....

I trimmed next and clipped across the corners to reduce bulk.

Turned out and closed the gap. My choice of quilting this time was a channel quilt in concentric rectangles....

And you can now see the strip of monochrome underneath and the neutral on the side.
And I found a leather scrap and one of my beloved Chicago screws to make a hanging tab....

You will love these screws! One try and you will be addicted for life - no more bending rivets!
And we are now down one orphan block! These would make a great gift and the leather and brass detail brings it bang up to date.

Something else to consider too, have you thought about making your table setting more boho by making it deliberately mismatched? Seriously, instead of all the same (I hate repeating designs to make a set), consider one linking feature like shape or colour and then plough through the scraps.

Well back to the drawing board for the next one now. And I get to drink that coffee!
See you soon!