Saturday, 30 April 2011

Look! A Loch

Last Sunday we went to Spittal of Glenshee and walked to Loch Beanie, a round trip of about 4.5 miles.  The walk there was lovely with only a few cows and sheep wandering along the hillsides.  When we got to the loch there was a lone fishermen in his boat and not another soul for miles.  All we heard were the birds and the rustling of the bushes in the breeze, with spectacular views across the hills and the loch itself.

We took quite a few pictures and then we sat by the loch to have our lunch.  I painted a quick little watercolour of the view to use as the basis of a better, more accurate picture at home later in the year. 

Here's my little watercolour but I may use acrylics when I paint it properly. 

I have a lovely little Cotman watercolour pocket paint set that Keith bought me a couple of years ago with 1/4 pans of watercolour, a brush, water bottle and mixing palettes.  It's perfect for outdoors but I find getting the water right is difficult with pans, so I have left this until I repaint it when I'll use tubes of paint instead.  Then the photos will be helpful for reference.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Let's Mix It Up A Bit

If you popped on here over the weekend you will have noticed that I had several blog backgrounds over about 4 days.  Yes I fancied a change.  I really liked the background with the Victorian boot but I didn't feel it was really me. 

As I'm a big fan of Itkupilli, see the sidebar button, I really wanted to have one of her gorgeous backgrounds and headers and so after trawling through several pages of sumptuous free blog stuff I picked 2 or 3 that I really liked.  I uploaded all of them and took time to go back and look at the page over a day or so until I finally settled on this one.

If you're looking for something a bit different then check out Itkupilli's site.

What else have I been up to?  Well I've been experimenting with stamping and heat embossing onto tin foil and have been quite pleased with the results.  The problem is taking a good enough picture to post on here because being tin foil you get light reflecting back into the lens but I'll  persevere and see if I can get a decent photo.  What I've discovered though is that black embossing powder shows up best.

In the meantime here the April ATC cards for the Crafts on the Net swap which had a theme of knitting this month.

I made the little knitting needles out of cocktail sticks, cutting the pointed ends off and the quote in the top card came from Quote Garden.

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Saturday, 23 April 2011

Crafty Individuals Challenge

I was delighted to discover that my favourite on line shop, Crafty Individuals, is hosting a challenge this month.  The theme is very simple: squares using at least one of their products. Here is the link to check it out:

Here's my entry using two of their wonderful rubber stamps; CI-295 ship, and CI-017 a beautiful script stamp which I've used on loads of projects.  When I ordered the ship stamp I didn't realise that it was  Discovery which is a permanent exhibition in Dundee, near to where I live, so I was thrilled.

I decided to make a note book for my project and stamped Discovery on the non-shiny side of some brown parcel paper, using VersaMark and then heat embossed with black embossing powder.  The paper took on the look and feel of greased proof paper and looked fantastic so I'll be using this technique again.  I distressed some corrugated cardboard packaging, peeling away some of the top layer and inking using StazOn Black around the edges and Distress Ink in Brushed Corduroy.  I then randomly brushed the VersaMark over this and heat embossed using black and bronze.  I tore some strips of mulberry paper and stamped these using the script stamp and black StazOn and positioned them under the image of Discovery and glued these to the corrugated cardboard.

I cut two squares from plain chipboard and covered these in a mottled effect, brown paper and brushed the edges with black StazOn.  I took one for the front cover and brushed more VersaMark ink randomly around the edges and again heat embossed using black and bronze and then mounted the image square onto this to form the front cover.

  I cut cream paper for the notebook pages and inked the edges with the brushed corduroy distress ink and bound the book using antique brass Owires and the Bind-it-All.  For the finishing touch I glued a leather strip and tassel to the front edge of the book, under the binding, using Glossy Accents.

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Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Tiling - The Arty Way

I finally started making the decorative tiles to go under the mantel piece, on the closed-in chimney breast.  I chose to use air dry clay (which literally dries over 2-3 days in the air) as it is quite firm when dried out due to the tiny fibres in the clay which bond it together.  This I feel gives a more authentic tile look, plus  I wanted to try stamping and embossing on the finished tile but there are other modelling clays available.  There, that's the official disclaimer bit out of the way.  You can't accuse me of bias!!

I have put the tutorial for this on a separate page if you want to try this yourself but here are pictures of the two I've finished.  As you can see after painting the tiles, I stamped them and then gave them a 'glaze' with Glossy Accents.  The grunge flower stamp was free with the August 2010 issue Craft Stamper Magazine and the house is from Crafty Individuals.

For the tutorial, with step-by-step pictures, go to the button at the top of the sidebar.

I have another four tiles to decorate and for the next two I'm going to try heat embossing, so you don't have to if it goes wrong!

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Sunday, 17 April 2011

A Fruity Angle

Had a good weekend, out and about both days.  Yesterday we took relatives out for lunch and a jaunt around the countryside. It was a lovely day and there was much reminiscing on all sides.  Today we went through to Edinburgh to drop off a parcel for Louise and then stopped for a late lunch on the way back.  So late in fact that I don't want any tea just a banana. 

That reminded me of another painting I found lurking in the drawer the other week.  An early effort at a watercolour still life of some fruit.  Now don't ask me why the photo is at an angle and looks like it's rolling off the deck of a ship because it wasn't that angle when I took the picture but anyway, here it is.

I was pleased with the banana and the apple and the overall shapes of the lime and orange but getting texture and shine isn't easy and clearly I needed a lot more practice.  The shadows eluded me as well at this time and although the basic shape is there, they are by no means correct. 

The thing is it doesn't matter because the only way to improve is to keep practising and for me it is more about the calm, relaxing mood it puts me in that the finished piece, although it's nice to have something to hang on the wall as well. 

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Friday, 15 April 2011

Lickety Spit With Those Stamps

At last I've finally got round to doing something with the stamps I bought in Cuba in 2009.  I wanted to display them on the wall and at first thought of putting them on a canvas but I realised that with time they would get dusty (more work) and possibly fade.  I decided to put them in a proper picture frame for protection and set about altering an old frame which was a bamboo colour.  I removed the glass and backing and painted the frame with neat Burnt Umber acrylic paint, dry brushing in different directions, unevenly to give an old, more weathered look to the frame.

I wanted to use the hardboard backing to mount the stamps and painted it all over with a pale mix of Burnt Umber and Titanium White acrylic paint.  Again I brushed unevenly and at random angles across the board. (I'm afraid as usual I forgot to take a picture of this stage but you'll get the idea in a minute, honest)

When dry I stamped over the board with a Crafty Individuals clock stamp No. C1 - 225, using Rangers Distress Ink in Brushed Corduroy.  This took ages to dry, even with the heat gun and was still a little wet when I was ready to go onto the next stage, so I blotted the whole board with plain white cartridge paper to absorb any excess ink.  Then I tore some pieces of old card stock and some white tissue paper and pasted this on the board at random, using Glossy Accents. 

While this dried I looked at the stamps and a number of them had blue in them so I die cut the word Cuba and the date we were there from light blue card stock using my Cricut Don Juan cartridge.  How appropriate was that!  I dabbed these lightly with the Distress Ink to tone down the colour and give a slightly aged look, then stuck these to the board, giving them a coat of Glossy Accents to give a slight sheen.

Next came the fun of placing the stamps, rearranging them and then moving them again until I was happy with the rough layout.  I tried to avoid uniformity where possible and when happy with the layout, I used stamp mounts to stick them to the board.  That way they can be removed in the future without damaging them.
Finally, I went back to the frame and using a Crafty Individuals script stamp, inked roughly over the frame in StazOn gold.  The frame is narrow so I knew the script wouldn't come out clearly but it gave a nice finish to the project (which unfortunately you can' really see in this picture).

The overall appearance is aged and subtle, just what I wanted.  The backing needed to add another dimension to the stamps, not detract from them and I think I achieved that.

All-in-all a nice way to display the souvenir stamps and much better than putting them in a folder or album where they wouldn't be seen.
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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Paint A Pretty Picture

Remember I mentioned my early watercolour paintings that I found when clearing out the drawer?  Well here is an impressionistic painting I did of some lovely carnations I received in a bouquet for my anniversary.

I didn't want to be over fussy and try and get every bit of detail in the flowers, which is something I tend to do usually but this time I fought the urge to keep dabbing away and was pleased with the result.  Looking at it now, almost two years after it was painted, I'm delighted with the way it turned out and may even put this one in a frame.

I use either Winsor & Newton or SAA tubes of watercolour and usually Bockingford NOT watercolour paper.  If you haven't heard of the SAA it is the Society for All Artists and has a fantastic on-line shop.  If you paint, go and check them out.

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Saturday, 9 April 2011

A Change Is As Good As A Rest!

Here's the ATC card I made for the April Friendship swap at Docrafts.  I used strips of paper in different shades of pink and then stamped the image, from Crafty Individuals, over the top. I like the way there is a natural segmenting of the image as the stamp was pressed over the different thicknesses of paper.

Like most papercrafters I love all the colours and different patterned papers available but now and then it's good to have a change and a monochromatic theme just fits that bill.

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P.S.  In case you wondered how the cake turned out it tasted good but was very thin and heavy.  The reason for this wasn't the recipe it was me.  The cake was to serve 12 but there's only 3 of us and after today only me, so I halved the ingredients.  Not a problem but I forgot to halve the amount of pureed pineapple and that was the problem.  I'll bake it again but make sure I halve the pineapple too.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

A Bake and Make Day

I've kept all my early painting efforts which at the time I was quite pleased with but felt they were just that 'early efforts'.  When I look at them now one or two are really quite nice and only need to be mounted and framed to make nice pictures.  I used one small one of daffodils to make my entry for the April card challenge on Crafts on the Net, where the theme was Easter and using bright colours. We had a sketch to follow which I've never done before but I changed it very slightly though still within the rules - I hope.

What else have I been up to lately?  Well it's Louise's birthday tomorrow and she's coming home from university for the weekend so I made here cake today.  It didn't turn out brilliantly and of course I'm blaming the recipe but once both halves were sandwiched together and coated with frosting it looked quite good.  The frosting is really delicious and worth keeping the recipe just for that.  It's meant to be a Pina Colada cake, so there is Malibu in the frosting as well as grated coconut and lime juice.  Ahh, I can feel the tropical breeze even now:  I wish!
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Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Swap Shop

Here are ATC swaps I made for the March theme of Birthdays at Crafts on the Net.

I made this one a mini card and wrote inside as I would a normal birthday card.  The image is the free stamp from the October issue of Craft Stamper magazine  which I heat embossed in silver, although it looks blue in the picture. 

 If you haven't seen this magazine yet you must!  It's full of the most amazing projects and is really inspiring.

For this card I used two large Amy Butler chipboard letters and stuck some leftover peel-offs on the background.  They are meant to be the number 1 but they look a bit like cake candles as well.

This month's theme is knitting and as yet I have no idea where I'm going with that one but I usually sit down at my craft table at some point and have a eureka moment.  Yesterday I made three ATCs for another craft forum swap which I'll post when the closing date is up.  The ideas just flew at me so knuckled down before I forgot what they were.

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Sunday, 3 April 2011

Happy Birthday

It's Trudie's birthday over on Crafts on the Net and here is the card I made for her as part of the Birthday Card Club.

I used an image I received in a goody bag swap which had been stamped onto watercolour paper.  I liked the way it looked with any colour so added a little bling with some Stickles and then layered the card with shades of red and black.  The sentiment was heat embossed.

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Friday, 1 April 2011

Thanks a Million

A colleague at work has been offering relaxation and meditation classes during part of the lunch break on a Friday.  There is a small group of us who regularly attend and what a difference that serene half hour makes, with soft music, scented oils, comfy cushions and low lighting.  We all feel a huge benefit and are all loathe to open the door and step back to reality. 

I made this thank you card for the regulars to sign to show our appreciation to a lady who always thinks of others.

The stamped image is one of my favourite from Crafty individuals and I've found that it is suitable for a whole host of occasions.  I used VersaMark Ink to stamp and then heat emboss the image in silver, layering the elements up on the card using silver mirror board.  The sentiment was cut using the Cricut cartridge
Cindy Loo and a slightly darker shade of dotted paper.  The sentiment is mounted onto silver card but the picture has come out a bit too dark. 

I think I need to do some kind of photography course!!!

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