Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge - Halloween/Spooky

Undertaker! The bugs are coming for you!

EEK! Well it is edging closer and closer to Halloween which is a time of year that I love. I have mentioned before in these posts that I have managed to always live in a country that doesn't do much about it though. I grew up in Australia, from German stock and now I live in England. You would think that one of those countries would do something!

'Blood' splattered flowers and great dimension

Well no they don't so at this time of the year, I am pretending that I am in America and I am not going to be persuaded otherwise!

Shadowy creepy crawlies.

The great thing about it is that, since the advent of the internet, America can come to me and bring with it these wonderful festivals that we should all be having. Simon Says Stamp is celebrating the season with their fabulous Monday Challenge which since I started partaking a short few weeks ago has hooked me completely. I have had a couple of successes too with the DT choosing two of my entries for the designer spotlight. You can see them here and here.

The ghost in the mirror is not safe from a bug either

I am so pleased with this! Better then winning the main prize to be honest!

All the elements of Victoriana Gothic!

So to spooky.....I decided to fly the flag for Britain and instead of witches and zombies which although they are popular here, they are not really part of the Halloween ideology over here. In Britain, we celebrate the Victorian villain, the poisoner, the undertaker who seems to be doing very brisk business. That is partly why the Harry Potter imagery is like it is. That is the British Halloween jam.

Like any good ghost, he is hard to see - yet you know that he is there watching you!

My card started out with a piece of plain black card (as many successful Halloween cards do). I embossed black cobwebs onto it to give it a bit of texture.

Shiny black cobwebs on plain black card are a winner.

Next came one of the focal points. I wanted an antique mirror with an ornate frame but it was to be the sign for the undertaker. So I sanded some silver card stock and went back for more embossing.

Heat embossing onto silver is not easy if you are after crispness! I wasn't so I am embracing the flaws. This is an old sign after all.

But there MUST be a ghost (I am sure that it is the law or something). I started by using the smaller of the skulls in top hats from last year's Stampers Anonymous set Undertaker. This was embossed onto the silver in white as the ghost in the mirror. Then I came back in with another from the stamp set and heat embossed the details of the undertaker over the top.

I love the different textures that are happening here.
I cut a mirror frame from sanded silver kraft core and then embossed that with the TH Botanical 3D folder and then rubbed it with a couple of DecoArt Metallic Lustres to give it an old shine.

The mirror and the frame are cut from the same sanded silver kraft core. The application of Metallic Lustre makes all the difference.

But I still wasn't happy with the background - not complicated enough for me! So time to add Oxides!

These four Oxides are perfect for a slightly seedy and misty effect.
Iced spruce and hickory smoke first and then old paper and antique linen. This has given a dreamy and endless look to the cobwebs.

Give the webs a bit of a polish to make them shine. The Oxides are a bit milky.

Layer several lots and blot with paper towel. The cobwebs will still be there.
I love to stitch on cards!
Next it was time to layer the embellished card front onto another piece of plain black and stitch it twice round with black thread. I made no attempt at neatness! I curled the top back slightly to give it texture and then rubbed the curled edge and the plain black with picket fence Distress Ink to give it some texture.

Looking timeworn and distressed. just like any good ghost!

Gluing next and the mirror went into its frame and onto the top third of the card. Love that ghost!

Curling the edge of the top panel back over the stitching really adds to the depth.
No self respecting Victorian funeral parlour would be without flowers! I wanted a wreath for this bit and one with some dimension. I started out with a circle base to glue the flowers onto

Always have chip board in the house!

This would be too visible so another smaller circle cut the centre out and I could put the bow on...

The glue will disappear when it dries. I cut the ends of the ribbon to a point to discourage fraying and to make it look more authentic.

Then I made some flowers from black card stock. But of course, that isn't complicated enough either! I sprayed the card with Resist Spray and then sprinkled it with scarlet Mixed Media Powder which I bought for Christmas (!) but then realised that combined with the Resist Spray would look like blood splatters

These dies are a must for your kit! They are super versatile and can be used all year round. I will bring them out again for Christmas!

The resist spray means that the Multi Media Powder embosses in drops rather than flat colour.

I used a cute Sizzix die to cut and layer some flowers from my black and red paper and some sanded silver kraft core left over from the mirror. My Paper Sculpting kit gave them some topography and shape....

Even the most minimal detail makes all the difference.

And the flowers too...

I love watching the flat flowers come to life with this simple tool.

I used some of my favourite DecoArt Metallic Lustre to the leaves to stop them being so flat black....

Devil is in the details - no matter how small, the embellishment deserves attention.
Then I glued them to the wreath

They need centres!
They are better with Nuvo drop centres...

The glue will be invisible when it is dry - best invention ever!

And then I heat embossed some bugs from the Entomology set (TH for Stampers Anonymous) and glued them around heading for the wreath...

A small amount of black acrylic paint gives the silver bug a bit more dimension.

How am I doing for spookiness!?

Scuttle, scuttle!
Use the bugs to fill in and provide movement.
And the whole thing again....

If only my camera could decide on the light setting! Anyway, I think that you get the point!

Well that was another long one - it seems that I am unable to do anything simply. But never mind, there is a lot going on here.
Off to put my entry in! Thank you for stopping by.

Love a bit of Victorian melodrama!

Love and hugs

Monday, 22 October 2018

Faux Pottery - from Upcycled Jam Jars!

A casual observer might not necessarily guess the humble origins of this make....

Monday again and I am at my desk and ready to go! Those of you who read my work regularly will know that I am quite a fan of upcycling and making something gorgeous out of, well rubbish. 

This gives me satisfaction just to look at it - you will be astounded with the results.

This time, I have collected a few jars which are the same (I really wanted to make a set) and decided that it was time for more faux pottery.

I love this shape and it works really well as a set.

You actually don't even need to get the labels off - you won't see them when they have plants in them and the old label, scratched a bit gives something for the clay to grab onto.

This is such an easy technique and so totally transformative that I guarantee that you will not let a single jar or tin can into the rubbish ever again.

You can swap the colours of the bases to suit your decor - there are many to choose from!

Best of all, it really doesn't need any painting skill at all. That makes it suitable for the little people in your life to join in too.
So what do we need for this....
DecoArt Americana acrylics: light buttermilk, lamp black, saffron yellow, melon, lemonade
Media:DecoArt Media Texture Sand Paste
DecoArt triple Thick Gloss varnish
Everything Else:3 similar jam jars, washed and the labels removed
Older 1” flat brush
DecoArt Traditions ¾ flat brush
Das air dry clay: white

You can buy DecoArt products in the UK here and in The USA here.

Begin by rolling out the clay and affixing it to your clean jars. 

Use your hands to smooth the clay onto the glass and work any air bubbles out.

Aim to have enough on the top edge to roll over and extend inside the jar by about 1”. Allow to dry.
Put  the jars somewhere warm but not hot overnight to dry. An airing cupboard works well. If they are dried too quickly, the clay can crack.

Using the older flat brush, paint the jars inside the rim and two thirds of the way down with Texture Sand Paste.

Leave the bottom part of the jar free of texture. This will be ultra glossy when we are done and will provide a nice contrast.

TIP: your good paint brush will not appreciate this texture paste! Have an older or cheaper brush on hand to do the job.

This bit extended down inside the jar is really important because it is what helps to disguise the fact that it is a jam jar - no actual glass can be visible when you are finished or your cover will be blown.

Allow the texture to dry and then paint the textured part with light buttermilk and dry 

Paint the un-textured bottom third part of the jars with either saffron yellow, melon or lemonade.

Like I said, no previous experience necessary - get that paint on there!

Rather than a hard edge, allow the colour to blend softly into the cream.

Keep the top edge soft.

When this is dry, take the lamp black paint and the toothbrush and splatter the pots all over.

It is starting to look like the real thing now!

TIP: if you are working inside, it is an idea to work inside a cardboard box to avoid splattering everything!

You must do these things to the inside of the rim even though you won't see most of it - we are trying to convince people that this 'pottery' is solid!

You can water the black paint down to get a larger splatter. Don’t forget the inside of the rim.

This Triple Thick Varnish is so satisfying! It acts like a real glaze!

Finally, when everything is very dry (some of the larger, thicker splatters take a little longer) varnish the coloured bottom part of the jars with Triple Thick varnish using the ¾” flat brush (the good one this time!). Really apply this thickly and it will run like a ‘proper’ pottery glaze.

Don't just put the pot somewhere and forget about it - for the first 20 minutes or so (depending on the temperature and the weather) keep turning the pot so that the varnish stays on the bottom bit of the pot. Gravity will make it want to run onto the textured part.

TIP: you will have to turn the pot as it dies so that the glaze stays where it should be and doesn’t pool.
Your pot will be matte on the top two thirds and very glossy on the bottom .

All done! No-one will guess I promise you!

Plant something! The great thing about these jars is that although they are made from air dry clay on the outside, they are glazed inside and can take a small amount of water. Cacti and succulents are a great thing to put into them.

Those colours!

You can do this with tin cans too so start collecting!

I do hope that this post has inspired you to start collecting some jars and tins to upcycle. These make great craft stall items too and if you start finding and cleaning jars now, you will have a fabulous inside activity for the winter when the weather is not so nice.

Thank you for stopping by!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

How to make Autumn leaves from paper - two methods!

Trust me, these leaves are like money in the bank - make heaps in all sizes and shapes!

I could make Autumn leaves all year! I wonder if it is because I grew up in Australia, the land of the gum tree where anything with a colour other than grey green was something special.  The only deciduous trees around where we lived were planted by either early settlers or people with an inconsolable longing for the old country.

I love Ranger Glossy Accents to add some dew drops.

They reminded me of Germany which is my old country and when I looked at a beautiful tree with its Autumn splendour on, I could travel through time and space to a happy childhood moment. Even now that I understand the science of what makes a leaf change from green to orange and red, I still love them. This is a love that is not going to go away soon.

This one was made with the Distress Ink only method (see the link in the text) and then I stamped it with a leaf stamp instead of putting veins in. There is more than one way....

So as a card maker, it is a given that I will use Autumn leaves as soon as it is polite to do so. I use them in the Australian Autumn around April (also my birth month which might explain things) and in my spiritual Autumn as it is seen in the northern hemisphere. Any excuse!

They are perfect for adding an accent.

A while ago, I made some pretty Autumn leaves with an ink blending technique which looks really nice and it is easy too. You can find the link here and this was in the days before the wonderful Tim Holtz came up with Distress Oxides. 

Look how much softer the Oxides on the left are compared to the New England vibrancy of the Distress Inks on the right! Both techniques have their uses.

Well I have been playing around with Oxides and I have a new technique for you. The beauty of it is that you can pick, choose or even combine either way! Let's do this!

The splatters really make a difference I think. 

Gather these supplies:
-Distress Oxide Inks - I have used barn door, aged mahogany, fired brick, spiced marmalade, carved pumpkin, wild honey, gathered twigs, tea dye.

You can also use a bit of green to show a just turning leaf. I love crushed olive

-Distress Inks - barn door, walnut stain
-dark brown acrylic paint. I love DecoArt Americana.
-white 250gsm card stock
-autumn leaf dies. I love the Sizzix Thinlits set but anything nice will be lovely
-Sizzix Paper Sculpting Kit
-old toothbrush
-black marker
Your usual paper crafting tools

Begin by setting out the oxides onto your work surface. I like to begin with the lighter values....

Starting light and going dark gives a totally different look to the other way around - have a play!

Add some water (you know the drill)...

Spray just enough water to make the oxides bead on the non-stick mat.

Do the first print and dry the card. Make another and dry that too.

The first print can be a bit meh! Keep going though!

Orange and some red next but less so that the lighter ones stay visible here and there....

Now we are getting some depth here!

Then some darker reds and a bit of brown....

I cut my A4 sized piece of card in half for ease of handling. It fits onto the no-stick mat better too.
Aged mahogany ink and frayed burlap are two colours which oxidise in such an interesting way! I love the bloom that they leave.

Finished this bit and all of the paper is covered. 

This is a totally random effect, made still more random when the leaves are cut out. But that is what makes them look so natural.

You can see the bloom left from the aged mahogany oxide here.

Splatter the card next with a rich dark brown acrylic paint using a toothbrush. This really accurately mimics the brown spots which appear on real leaves.

When you cut the leaves out and ink the edges with a bit of brown, this will all fall into place.

Dry the card well and consider making a couple at a time and then having the leaves ready in a bag when you need them. 

There is a whole universe in there!

Next, cut the leaves getting as many as you can from your precious card stock....

I love this die set because it has a few size options which means that you can get the most from your paper.
Just perfect for any time of the year!
Please be careful if you are using more than one die at a time on the sheet - the temptation is to put them close together but if they shift and get on top of one another and then go through the rollers, the die will be ruined. Tape with low tack tape or do less at a time and come back in with smaller ones to do the gappy bits.

Believe it or not, you can still get some from this piece!
If you have a bit of space but the leaf is hanging over a bit, you can still use it - it will look like the leaf has insect damage...

This Insect damage looks wonderfully organic on the finished leaf.
I like to ink these with a Distress marker in a suitable brown like walnut stain to emphasise the damage...

No such thing as unusable!
You can get a lot of leaves from an A5 sheet!

Don't be afraid to use other die sets (not necessarily for Autumn) to use every last corner of the card - you can never get quite this effect ever again!

I love these colours!

Those of you who went and had a look at the link that I gave a bit earlier, will notice that I have said to use a stylus to make the veins in the leaves. This is still perfectly fine! There is literally no one policing this. However. We have evolved in Craftland and we now have a gorgeous tool set just for doing things with paper flowers and leaves....

This is a game changer for making flowers and leaves.

It is a perfectly designed collection of tools and well worth the outlay. But if you only have a stylus, use that! And so why a stylus....and um,....what is a stylus?  Great Question! It is a tool with some metal bits (apologies for the ├╝ber technical language) and most importantly it has a metal ball on the end of each metal end. 

That ball on the end is important because it crushes and bruises the paper fibres rather than breaking and tearing them

This is important because when you make the veins in the leaves, you will drag this tool across the paper. 

You do not want to cut or tear the leaves. The ball means that the paper fibres will be bruised and crushed and made into a new shape (the vein) but not actually severed which would ruin everything.

The pointy tool in the kit is specially designed for doing the job precisely.

In the tool kit, there is a sharp pointy tool with no actual ball but the metal is shaped and smoother so that cutting is not easy. It is specifically designed to do this job. So put something soft under the leaf and then make the veins working in the direction of growth....

Here I am working from the back of the leaf to make the veins stand out and be more prominent.

You can do it from the back and have raised veins. Or from the front and have recessed ones.....

The top leaf is from the back and the bottom from the front.
The leaves with veins will curl slightly and this gives them extra realism...

I love the colour  variations!

Look at the real thing for inspiration...

A great excuse to get outside and walk in the Autumn air.

And you can bring the veins out with an application of Distress Ink. Here I have used Ground Espresso...

The veins made from the back are not a subtle.

Now these leaves are looking great but sometimes they can look a bit dull (that is both a blessing and a curse of oxides). You can 'glaze' them with Distress inks.

Wild honey is a very subtle glaze. The one on the right has the glaze on it here and there.

What is a glaze? Distress Oxide is a milky and more opaque ink and that is why the effects can be milky and soft. It is also this property that allows you to layer without creating mud. Distress Inks are more see through. 

The right one is glazed with  wild honey.

This means that if you go over your Oxides with Distress, you will still see a lot of the detail like the spots and splatters. 

Here again, the right hand side is glazed.

Don't go mad but use the distress ink to warm up the leaf and then come back in and enhance the edge only with brown Distress Ink. See the difference? You can glaze with any colour but warmer tones like red, yellow and orange will warm your leaf up.

A touch of brown on the edges (ground espresso Distress ink) looks great.
Make these in bulk and keep them handy for your Autumn makes.

Well that is about all there is to it! Thank you for bearing with me over this quite long post. These was a lot of information to share with you and I wanted you to have all of it.

I love this effect on a card that i made for my MIL's birthday last year. I covered the main leaf with Glossy Accents which made the colours pop even more!

I am also planning a tute with greens for spring and summer so stand by for that in the future- it will be much shorter I promise!

I actually used the Autumn dies for this - like I said, no rules!

All leaves start out green for spring before going red and gold in the Autumn - ergo you can use the same die with different colours!

Happy crafting!