Thursday, 27 May 2010

Alluring Alliums (written by Judith)

Well, it's with severe misgivings that I'm posting my project this month. This project was supposed to be our easy option, yet we have all struggled with this one. I have worked with canvas and gel before, and was not at all apprehensive as I started this project. However, I have not been able to produce the results that I wanted at all. This has been partly due to time constraints, and partly to the quality of my tissue paper I think.

I knew straight away that I was going to make my own mask for this project. I love alliums, and wanted to make a mask to represent that flower on a Monet inspired background. I thought about how I could achieve the effect that I wanted, and decided to make my mask in two parts, one for the stalk and one for an outline of the ball type heads.
I created a background, using Adirondack paint dabbers, using Pebble in the centre, and a mixture of Willow, Juniper and Cool Peri around the edge, blending them softly. I then placed my two masks together in the centre, and inked around them using Citrus for the stalk and Wild Plum and Currant for the heads. I then took the head part away, and inked around the little branch pieces using first Citrus and then Stream for shading.

Next I used small dots of colour around the edge of the heads to represent the flowers of the Alliums. I used a mixture of Wild Plum, Citrus, Raspberry and White paint Dabbers.                                                          
For my stamping, I have used a combination of stamps from Elusive Images, Stampotique, Artemio, and Tim Holtz, using Stazon to stamp them on tissue paper and acetate to create the effects that I wanted. 
I decided  to cover my entire canvas with Golden Gel, which, as I anticipated, did cause my Adirondack Inks to brighten and move somewhat. This meant that I had to go over them again to repair the effect a bit. I would therefore reconsider using Adirondacks another time, or just avoid going over the whole piece with the Gel. You learn from these things. However, I did see it through to the end, and I enjoyed the process in a strange kind of way, so thank you Lesley, for challenging me! Judith x             

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Sweet, sparkling music of summer (by Jo)

She didn't! This isn't the same canvas. Having looked at the first version I decided it needed a little bit of green with the pink. I suspect this was partly on account of passing an apple tree on my way to work and admiring the blossom. I think I'm happy with the green. I also changed a stamp which looked like it didn't belong.

I have to say a huge thank you to Sharon Neill here because I wouldn't have been able to improve on my initial effort without her advice on how to apply the tissue and what gels and inks to use.

The base coat is Adirondack Sandal Dabber and a red acrylic borrowed from my son's A level Graphics kit. I mixed up the green from some of his other colours (oddly, not blue and yellow!) and added that in. The next stage was the stamping onto tissue. I used Blazing Red and Jet Black Stazon. The stamps were from Beeswax, Crafty Individuals, Judikins, Hot off the Press and Elusive Images. My first attempt used Golden gel medium (gloss) but I decided I didn't want the 'brushed' texture so I changed to Mod Podge. The Heidi Swapp leaf masks were kindly donated by my good friend Lesley and the inking over the top is Brilliance in Crimson Copper, Pearlescent Crimson and Pearlescent Poppy.

I am quite pleased with the result. But I think the canvas looks nicer in reality. The photo shows it looking very red whereas the colours are actually much more varied with pinks and bronzes. The finish is also very glossy which makes the colours look even richer. I feel inclined now to use these masks on another project very soon. Maybe next week on one of our journal pages...

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Will she....or won't she? (Posted by Jo)

Well, surprisingly, I have a finished canvas. But I am not sure yet whether you will see that one here or not. The gel/tissue/masking combination used by Sharon in her wonderful Craft Stamper piece gave me some problems which I didn't fully resolve. Getting a satisfactory finish might mean starting again. But while I am trying to decide here is a little peek of what I have so far.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

May's Craft Stamper Project (Judith)

Life has become very busy for us lately, and last month proved to be extremely hectic! Only one of us managed to make the end of the month deadline, and we felt that maybe some of our projects were becoming too complicated.
This month, Lesley has chosen Sharon Neill's Abstract Art project on page 38 of May's Craft Stamper, as our project to tackle. The colours she has used are really zingy and vibrant. We are all digging out our masks and tissue paper for this one, and hopefully we will all make the deadline this month!
We are also busily planning for our mini Retreat at the beginning of June, so we are trying to cram in lots of preperation for several craft filled days together. It is exciting enough that we are meeting up again, but this time we are taking our tools and our stash with us. We have an itinerary of projects that we intend to make together, and some craft shopping planned as well. It just doesn't get much better than that!
One of the projects that we intend to make is a circle journal, now those of you that follow my blog, will have seen these pictures, and I apologise for that. I have made the covers for my journal already, trying to give an indication of colours that I am partial to. We had intended to try and make a couple of inner pages as well, as a kind of mood board, but time is just running away from us. We will all make our basic journals, and all work on a double page in each other's journals while we are together. At the end of our stay, we will have a memento of our time together in the form of  hand crafted pages from each of our friends in our journals. We also plan to put some photos in there too. We have been plotting behind each other's backs, (doesn't that sound terrible?) to work out what to put on these pages, and I think that they will be gorgeous. We will have so much to blog next month, we won't have enough days in the month to blog everything.
Hopefully, we'll be back soon with some sneaky peeks of our canvases for you, Judith x

Saturday, 15 May 2010

In a monastery garden (posted by Elaine)

Well just when everyone had given up hope that I would ever finish my April project, here it finally is!!
I have to say it was tricky getting a decent picture as it is quite long!

While everyone else was busy with cubes, I decided to try and use a piece of skirting board for a slightly different approach. As soon as I started thinking about doing a long panel design I though of using this gorgeous stamp from Beeswax Stamps in the US. BUT I don't have this stamp, my distant crafty friend Jo does though and she kindly agreed to lend it to me.
I thought that by stamping this image a few times I could make it into a cloister effect. I have always loved cloisters as they have such a peaceful atmosphere, often  enclosing beautiful gardens. They are little safe havens of tranquility.

I had seriously over-estimated the accuracy of my stamping!! One of the things I most admire about Helen Chilton, whose project inspired us this month, is the incredible accuracy of her stamp positioning - I think it is really awesome! Even with a stamp positioner, I couldn't do what I wanted and stamp it all in one line, so I stamped separate images to stick together. Then when I came to colour the images I just couldn't get the colour I wanted, so in the end I stamped the image onto Basic grey Wassail paper in a sludgey, olivey green-grey sort of colour, cut them out with my trusty decoupage scissors and stuck them all together.
The effect I wanted to create was the idea of the changing colours of light through the different times of the day, starting with dawn and going through to evening. I needed a landscape effect, so I used strips of torn Eclipse tape to create the effect I was looking for, sponging on my beloved Adirondack dye inks in five blending sets of colours. I used about 18 different colours all together I think, working hard to keep using the correct blending foam squares as I kept changing my colours!
On each panel I did four colours to look like sky and mountains.
Once I had done that I had my backgrounds and decided to use exactly the same stamps in the same position on each panel, otherwise I felt the overall effect would be far too hectic. I had hoped to use the Elusive Images Wild Meadow stamps, but they were too big for the scale of this project, so I used a Crafty Individuals set CI 207 - that I often think of as mini Wild Meadow!!
I positioned them all on a large block and repeat stamped the layout on all five panels. I edged the top corners with the Lavinia vine stamp that is so very useful. I finished off with the little grass stamp from Wild Meadow (I was determined to get it in there somewhere), and then shaded around the edge of each panel and over the whole image lightly with more dye ink to pull it all together. As a final touch I added some tiny butterflies and dragonflies and a bird in the sky on each colour.
Putting all the panels and layers together with the wood, it was clear I would have to do some serious paintwork to get the wood to match into my stamped panel.
So I covered my wood in gesso, painted it with some acrylic paint in a blending colour and then tried to match it to the colour of the arches by stippling very dark grey paint on with a shaving brush. I did manage to do a couple of horrible blotchy sections, just don't look too closely!! I was trying to get a stoney sort of effect so the moulding of the wood looked more like part of the surrounding architecture. I had to try and do justice to all the lovely moulding my OH did especially for me to fit the size of the panel.
I finally stuck the whole lot together with lots of extra strong DST and glue roller. And if you've managed to read through the end of this screed without dropping off you get extra bonus points and you can sit in my monastery garden for a little longer!!

Sorry I kept you all waiting so long girls. xx

Saturday, 8 May 2010

A very late sneeky peek (posted by Elaine)

Well, I am so far behind the other girls with last month's project, I am still only able to do a sneeky peek, but hopefully it won't be too much longer before I have my finished project to post.

Unlike the others, I am going to use the skirting board approach, which Helen Chilton did and was featured on the Craft Stamper website and here on her blog. I was sure we would have a piece of skirting lurking somewhere, but sadly not and as the likes of B & Q only wanted to sell us 2.4 metres at a time which seemed a little excessive for what I had in mind, so I persuaded my OH to cut this piece out of a pine shelf for me.

Pulling this project together is going to be a bit of a challenge involving piecing layers together and carefully matching colours, so this is not going to be a speedy job! I still don't even know all the stamps I will be using, but there will be lots of colouring involved!

As you can see I am also going for an architectural theme and hopefully, I'll have the more interesting finished post to show you quite soon!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Bluebell Walk (posted by Jo)

Anyone who knows me is probably thoroughly bored by now of hearing me banging on about Sheffield. And if you’ve read my post on my other blog you may know that each year around this time I embark on the Sheffield Round Walk. It’s a 14 mile walk around the parks and green spaces of Sheffield and I go at this time of year because of the bluebells. Granted the best bluebells are actually off the Round Walk route but it’s a good enough excuse for me. I’ve started to scrap or journal the walk a couple of times but never got it finished so I thought this month’s project was a good chance to encapsulate my special ritual on 5 pieces of card.

It was hard trying to choose a tiny few photos for my cube so in the end I chose some from my collection that just fitted a woodland theme rather than this walk specifically. I was worried that otherwise the sides of the cube wouldn’t hang together so I chose the Clarity tree stamps to create a unifying background for each face. I wanted to use bold bright colours and also to mix colours on each face. I wasn’t too happy with the blending but since I made these I have picked up some tips from Judith after seeing her beautiful inking. The top is simply a section of the route map and a photo of the walk waymarker with its distinctive acorn.

My hardware on the top is..... a curtain rail finial! I was thrilled with this find but it would have been easier to use if had been symmetrical. 100 bonus points to Alan who guessed what it was from the last photo and 1000 bonus points to him for cutting these cubes for us. It seemed criminal to cover them up and I was planning to leave some wood showing in keeping with the theme. But my panels mysteriously changed shape after I cut them. Maybe the craft gremlins were at work.

Monday, 3 May 2010

She Who Must Be Obeyed - here at last! (posted by Lesley)

Well, after promising to have my project posted by today, I thought I wasn't going to manage it. I've had to change my original idea a little because I wanted to print a couple of photos and my tired old printer decided to choose today to give up the ghost. After messing around with it most of the morning I realised I was going to have to think again and then this afternoon we had an unexpected visitor so I had to put my project on hold again but when I finally got round to it tonight everything fell into place and I managed to get it done.

I really am pleased with this project, the inspiration having been taken from Helen Chilton's lovely article in April's Craft Stamper and I decided to make my wooden cube into a photo holder. I have to thank my crafting friend Elaine's husband for the original cube and poor Elaine for carrying it all the way to Alexandra Palace where we all met at the beginning of the month for the Big Stamp and Scrapbooking Show. For the first time all four of us were together for the weekend and had two fab days at the show and a Saturday evening of crafty chat. It was brilliant!

I used the lovely new stamp plate from Elusive Images called Royal Fleur de Lis and to go with the stamps I found the gorgeous curtain hooks in B&Q together with some Fleur de Lis wooden moulding pieces that had been quite dramatically reduced. I painted the wooden moulds with black acrylic paint and then with some Paper Plus Gold Glaze (another bargain I picked up for half price a while ago). I then blended Distress Inks onto the panels I had cut to cover the cube and stamped the images using Archival Black and Coffee. Oops, little edit here as Jo asked on my previous post how I had done the diamond stamped panel. It was Black Soot DI embossed with Black Distress EP.

I then dabbed the edges of each panel with Versamark and embossed them with Ranger Queen's Gold EP and also stamped and embossed some of the crown images and cut them out. I stuck all the panels to the cube and arranged the crowns and the wooden Fleur de Lis on the side panels.

I then turned my attention to what I wanted to display between the hooks. Originally I wanted two little photos of my granddaughters and spent ages this morning finding suitable ones, cropping them and changing them to black and white, only to find the printer was caput.

So, plan B - I found two suitable images from a Crafty Individuals pad and gave them the DI treatment. I then cut two Nestie Fleur de Lis frames, dabbed Versamark round the edges and embossed with the Queen's Gold again.

I did this in a very patchy fashionn for the effect that I wanted and then stuck the frames together back to back. I added the CI images that I'd chosen, gave them each a little crown and finally sprayed some black and white Prima lace flowers with Glimmer Mists and added these to the frame.

Although I enjoyed our two previous CSQ projects, this has definitely been my favourite to date and although I was very late starting, it just seemed to flow together once I bought the Fleur de Lis embellishments.

So thank you very much for being patient and I hope it was worth waiting for, Lol.

Lesley Xx