Thursday, 24 March 2011

Dragonfly Diary (posted by Judith)

Hi folks, well I'm finally posting my pages based on Kate Crane's project 'Journal Your Year' in the January Craft Stamper! This year is just running away from us all, I don't know if it is a sign of getting older, or just busier.
Anyway, I dug out several of Kate's articles in Craft Stamper, relating to making a journal, as I am also in the process of making my covers too, which I will blog in a week or two, time permitting, without disturbing the flow of our next project! I had the good fortune to make the aquaintantance of a lovely American lady recently, who has decided to go digital, and get rid of her virtual crafting supplies. She had some lovely old papers, and I started my pages by covring them with some very faded newspaper.
The newspaper came from 1965, and was very brown, it was a shame to cover it up! I gessoed over the top, and used layers of watered down Eco Friendly Acrylic paint. I used shades of lemon and green, as I wanted a Spring-like feel to my pages.

I decided to stick fairly faithfully to Kate's techniques, adding black and white dashes of colour with the side of an old credit card, stamping with a bottle top, using sequin waste, adding a bit of gold Adirondack dabber here and there, etc. I used a dragonfly theme, by sponging through a Creative Expressions Mask with white paint, and doodling around the shapes with a black pen.

I felt that the white was too strong at the foot of the page, so I toned it down with some watered down aqua to add some balance. I had the good fortune to see Kate demoing at the GNPE show at Harrogate at the weekend, and looking at these photographs, I do feel that I have been quite faithful to her techniques.
I cut out my squares using a Nestability square, which was a bit bigger than I really wanted, but another month, I will make them slightly smaller. I am making my journal for 2012, I haven't a hope of filling mine in at the moment! I have made April's pages, as they are more current, using blues, greens and yellows. This is a colour scheme that I would never use normally, but it is very cheery, and I quite like the result. I have added some Blonde Moments dragonflies and butterflies, stamped onto the newspaper, stuck onto grungepaper, and coloured with Inktense pencils. I also stamped a Blonde Moments flower border across the top of the page.
Now, onto our next project! Jo has chosen Debbie Dolphin's 'A Gift for Him' on page 74 of the February issue of Craft Stamper. Most of the others have already started this project, and one of them has even finished I think. That means that I need to get a wriggle on! Hopefully, it won't be too long before you start to see some more activity in the shape of some lovely gift cards. Thanks for looking, Judith xx

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

A winter's tale (posted by Elaine)

I was excited to be able to choose Kate Crane's art journal project from the January issue of Craft Stamper. I always knew it was an ambitious choice as we have all been really busy one way and another. What I didn't know was what was just around the corner for me during January, when my OH ended up being admitted to hospital as an emergency.

I had started these pages in good time and had planned to get them done in time so I could write up each day through January - but it wasn't to be.

I started my pages with a layer of gesso and then some turquoisy green EcoGreen paint which I love. I added some Stream Adirondack ink through sequin waste around rhe edges of the pages. Then I sprayed first with Marshmallow Glimmer Mist and Adirondack Stream Color Wash spray. I added a snowflake stamp all over the pages stamped in white Versamagic.

I cut squares of blending papers, inked the edges a little and added hand-drawn details to each square. I stamped January from a Paper Artsy alphabet stamp set which I love. I hand wrote the days of the week - scary because I don't find it easy to use a more relaxed style.

I used one of the Elusive Images trees from the brilliant Arboretum set and covered these in blue jewel flowers. I added little irridescent stars all around the pages and some blue stickles around the edge of the pages. I just had to add some of my favourite bling!

I added a Tim Holtz bird stamp and the word Winter. These two additions didn't work that well, but I was learning to let go of my need for perfection and have made myself leave them untouched. Last, but not least I added an edging cut with the Tim Holtz snowflake flurries on the edge die, cut from some turquoise funky film.

I decided I didn't want to journal the January I had, so I have decided to make my monthly pages through this year, ready to use the journal in 2012. To do that I had to remind myself to get the layout of the days right for next year. My February pages are in the pipeline! Currently it is very pink!!!

Finally, I hope you will forgive a little personal reflection. I know we have been quiet on this blog lately, what won't show to the outside world is the frequency of the contact the four of us who form this quartet have with each other. We are all in touch with each other at least once a day and often more. I still count my blessings every day, that crafting and particularly the Graphicus Guild helped me find three of the best friends any one could wish for. While I was struggling to get my head around the crisis that had hit me in January, Jo, Judith and Lesley were with me every step of the way. Thanks to texts and e mails despite the distance between us, they surrounded me with love and support when I needed it most and really helped me get through. My experience has reinforced for me what amazingly generous people crafters are. I could not let this opportunity pass to send them my heartfelt thanks to the other girls for being the most special friends I could have been blessed with.

Elaine x

Thursday, 3 March 2011

31 small mercies (by Jo)

I felt very excited when Elaine chose this project. I’ve put so many journal type projects on my crafting to-do lists but never quite got to grips with them. So this was my first effort and I was glad to have Kate Crane’s virtual hand to guide me through it.

I confess I’m not a finisher (believe me – I have plenty of evidence!) so knew at the bottom of me that this wasn’t going to be the first of 12 sets of pages. So I had half a mind to make these my index pages for a long planned holiday journal. But the form of the final project was determined by a rather grim start to the year. Christmas had been good but was followed by lots of sad news and spanners in the works which made January a very difficult month. I was obviously not alone. The other Quartet girls had their share of trials during January and I began to think the whole nation was suffering when I saw the BBC’s happiness challenge. One part of the challenge is to write down each day three good things that have happened to you. As I started to think about it I decided I could maybe combine this with my journalling project. I couldn’t fit in three things for each day of January on my pages so I have stuck to just one per day and I had to cheat for some of it because I was recording retrospectively. So my January journal became “31 reasons to be cheerful”.

I’m not very confident with acrylics nor any paint to be honest but the opening steps to create the background seemed straightforward enough. I was not best pleased with the results of my efforts though. I had decided to overprint with some bubble wrap to create texture and then use some abstract stamps with the pink and blue acrylic paint I’d laid down in the first step. But it looked pretty rough and I was a bit disheartened. I was poised to bin my pages but first I went back to the magazine for a way forward and read some good advice in Helen Chilton’s article. Although her piece was very different, the ‘tip’ which she gave for creating backgrounds was very relevant. It read, “Don’t expect perfection with these background techniques. The whole point is that these will be the starting point of your project.” I also had a brainwave when I read Trish Latimer’s article using sprays. It reminded me that I had bought a bottle of Craft Notions White Matte spray, having been told that it is great for toning things down. It did the trick for me and helped the dodgy blue and red stamping blend into the background.

I learnt through the process how bad I am at ‘letting go’. I resisted the idea of using lots of different colours in my project and started preparing the paper squares sticking to my blue and pink colour scheme. But the papers proved far too dark and I threw caution to the wind, choosing any colour that I thought I could write over.

I used several different stamps to put the page together. I had started using Inkadinkado’s Circles and Dots on the background. Then I cut out lots of ‘sun’ shapes stamped with Craft Stamper’s free stamp (the tea cup is also a Craft Stamper freebie). After using Elusive Images’ Retro Florals on the background of the January oval, I decided to add these to the background. This time I used Dabbers in Gold Copper and Denim and got a much better result than my initial stamping with paint. The ‘January’ stamp, numbers and days are from Inkadinkado’s Months and Days. I’ve been itching to use them. ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’ is another Elusive Images stamp, this time from the Say it with Words plate.

I had underestimated what a long job it would be to stick all the separate pieces onto the pages. That alone would put me off doing a whole year in this way. But placing all the pieces wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. Or maybe I was just lucky.

The final very ‘busy’ result is very different from anything I’ve made before but very satisfying. As January went along I became more aware of the little things that brought me happiness. I’m pleased to say that February was a much more cheerful month but I’ve learnt a lot along the way in terms of techniques. I still have much more ‘letting go’ to work at but I’m now another step along that journey.

My apologies again for the appalling photos in this post. I struggle for good light at the best of times and it has been grim weather here for most of the week.