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.


Elaine said...

Jo, I love this, it is so colourful, but somehow all those colours sit well together, I am glad you let go a bit, I wouldn't have been so brave. January was a bit grim, but you have captured happy moments in a really positive way. What I love about this most of all is that it feels like there is a story behind every square - it's just wonderful! I love the way you have used the CS freebie sun/star stamp as a recurring theme which works really well.

That Crafty Notions spray has softened the background so well. I actually found painting the background and letting it be a bit messy quite liberating.

I do hope you feel inspired to try more journal pages of some sort, even if you don't keep your art calender approach going.

Thank you for rising to my challenge so well - you will be a hard act to follow, my pages are so different!

Elaine xx

craftimamma said...

Oh Wow Jo, this is wonderful! What fabulous colours and I love all the stamps you have used. I had completely forgotten about the Inkadinkado Months and Days which we both bought at the same time. Your 'letting go' has proved to be totally inspiring .......... for me at least because it is something I find so hard to do. I know how difficult it must have been for you too and it has worked perfectly.

I love the illusion of lots of texture that you have achieved and as Elaine said every day's little comment seems to hint at a special story. Love all the little pictures connected to the comments too.

A totally stunning piece of work my friend and you put me to shame that I never even got off the starting block with this one. Well done!

Lesley Xx

Anonymous said...

I think this is wonderful and a fab idea...I still cant 'get' journaling but love what youve created.

Carol Q said...

gorgeous. love how you've used the CS sun stamp too. it's made me look at it in a whole different light. look forward to seeing some more calendar pages!

judith@poppy cottage said...

It is lovely to see 'A month in the life of Jo' in glorious technicolour! I love all of the little detail, the pictures on the squares is a great idea.
The white spray was brilliant to soften your colours, and make it more you, those backgrounds are really fabulous with everything going on.
This is a great start to your year, and I'm really pleased that you made it to the finish line on these pages. Judith xx

Aquarius said...

What a great idea this is to jot down the good things that happen and I'm sorry to hear you had a bad time in January. The resulting pages are so attractive and well done for 'letting go' and going along with the challenge. I keep meaning to get into the journalling 'thing' and maybe I will someday soon - this has certainly inspired me to have a go. Thanks for sharing

Unknown said...

I love this Jo!!! All of the colours work so well together.