Thursday, 27 November 2014

WOIW Gratefulness: Tree of Gratitude

The word this week to inspire us to create a piece of art in the Kraafters Kommunity is Gratefulness. Perhaps it is not entirely by coincidence that this week is also Thanksgiving in the US. I rushed this project, because I really wanted to publish it today to say Happy Thanksgiving to all my American crafty friends on G+. I'm ever so grateful for each one of you!

The quote I chose today is one that I truly believe is true:

"It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy."

What being thankful really means is that you are content. Contentment translates into happiness. It's as simple as that. Instead of continually thinking about what you don't have, stop for a second and think about all the blessings in your life that we tend to take for granted. Usually, these are the most important things as well: family/friends, health, love, security. Anything else is secondary.

The other day my 10-year-old son asked me if there's anything in the world that doesn't cost any money. I immediately mentioned the old cliche "the best things in life are free". So we thought about some of the things that are free. The air, for example. When was the last time you felt grateful for being able to take a breath of fresh air? It's true, you can't live on air alone, but sure enough you can't live longer than a couple of minutes without it, either.  I reminded my son that love is free as well, so we spent a little time hugging each other. If you learn to appreciate these little things, you're on the right track of finding happiness.

The page I created in my WOIW art journal is titled Tree of Gratitude. I started out with a layer of gesso as usual and when it was dry I added a layer of bright green acrylics. I randomly stamped with archival ink all over the page using various BoBunny stamps. When this was dry I added a layer of blue (a lighter and a darker shade) but removed most of it with a kitchen towel, so the underlying layers remained visible. 

At this point I wasn't quite sure how to proceed. I wanted to use the silhouette of a tree but I haven't got a stencil and I didn't like the idea of using a diecut shape. There was only one thing for it: I had to paint one myself! This freaked me out, I'll tell you. But I took a deep breath and just did the best I could. Once I had the tree done it was plain sailing. I added the quote, which I laser printed on top of a gelli print. I used the same print to cut circles to make some simplistic flowers to counterbalance the top and the bottom of my page. Unfortunately, I forgot to shade these and after adding the while doodles, it was too late to do anything else with them. Oh, well, something to keep in mind for next time. As an afterthought, I added some Stickles glitter glue in the tree to brighten the black colour. It sparkles in the light! I'm quite happy with it!  Here are some photos of the finished product:

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

WOYWW #286: Tag Journal

I seems like only yesterday that I wrote my last What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday post, but it was actually an entire week ago. It's amazing how quickly time flies by and I haven't even got much to show for it other than a very messy desk on Tuesday. Those of you with a nervous disposition please look away!

A flustratingly messy desk
I know I have to tidy up when I get flustrated (flustered+frustrated) instead of inspired when I sit down to create something. I quite simply had no other choice but to tidy up and make room for creativity. Here's my desk a few hours later:

What you can see carefully staged casually lying on my desk is my brand new tag journal with the very first tag I received as part of a swap organized by a mixed media sharing community on Google+.  My swap partner was Gerda from the Netherlands. She created this beautiful tag especially for me! Here's a closer look:

I didn't quite realize just how much fun swapping tags was going to be! Each month we have a different theme (November was Artist's Choice).  I decided to make a tag journal to hold all the tags I will receive through this swap. 

You may remember seeing the old dictionary cover I showed you last week, which now serves as the cover for my tag journal. I've taken some photos to show you how I made this journal. The first photo shows the cover with my gelli prints. It needs some more decoration.

I used cardboard from cereal packets to make the pages and I covered these with gelli prints as well. These are quite sturdy and I will simply attach the tags to them with paper clips. There are five single-sheet signatures, which I sewed to a separate spine made out of kraft card leaving plenty of room between the signatures to accommodate any dimensional items. They are about 1 cm (0.4 inch) apart.  I marked five holes for each signature and used an awl (a.k.a. pokey tool!) to make the holes.

Five holes for all five signatures

Pages cut from cereal boxes covered with gelli prints

I used the holes on the kraft card spine as a guide to pierce the holes in the signatures in the same places. Here's a useful tip I picked up on YouTube: use a bulky book to make sure that your holes are lined up exactly on the fold of the signatures.

Use a thick book to help you make the holes

After I had sewn the signatures to the kraft card using saddle stitching, I stuck it to the cover with strong tacky glue. It's probably not a professional job, but it works just fine.  The book lies flat and there's plenty of room for expansion. The tags will be held in place with paper clips - one on each page. Here a few photos of the completed journal. I will further decorate the gelli print pages as I go along.

If you would like to see the tag I sent to Gerda in return, please click here. Hope you enjoyed your visit to my desk today. Don't forget to come back next week! Happy WOYWW!

Tag Swap November: Artist's Choice

When I first signed up for a tag swap organized by the Google+ community Creating and Sharing Mixed Media Art, I didn't realize just how much fun it was going to be! Thanks +Becky Wentworth   for talking me into it! The reason I was a bit reluctant at first is because I had never created a tag before. I know, how crazy is that?! Now that I got into it, I find it a very rewarding experience.

Today I'd like to share with you the tag I created for +Gerda Frankes, my first swap partner. If you would like to see what Gerda sent me in return, please follow this link.

The theme this month was Artist's Choice, so we could create anything we wanted. I chose a sentiment which is very close to my heart "Create art every day". Art makes me happy and creating something every single day, however big or small, allows me to be happy pretty much all the time. I'm permanently excited and busy with my projects, full of enthusiasm and keen to discover something new every day. I wanted to convey this message to Gerda.

I started by covering a tag with my gelli prints front and back. First I removed the little circle from the top and stuck it back after punching the hole. This created a seamless background on which to build on. A lot less intimidating than a blank surface to start with! I used old dictionary pages with matching words from the title and made word tiles out of polymer clay which I decorated with mica powders. I tried to match the colour tone of my gelli prints which is purple with golden shimmer. I inked the edges of the book papers with vintage photo distress ink and I rubbed bronze gilding wax on the edge of the tag. I added some crochet ribbons and prima flowers to complete the look. Here are some photos of my creation:

Without flash

With flash - you can see the metallic shimmer better

I covered the envelope with gelli prints as well!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

WOIW: Oneness

The word for Word Of Inspiration Wednesday this week in the Kraafters Kommunity is ONENESS. What an unconventional word! Not one I had used before for sure. In fact I had to look it up to confirm the spelling and that it is actually a real word. Of course it is, and I for one can very much identify with its meaning.

Oneness for me means unity of mankind. This is more poignant now than ever around the 100-year anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. You would have thought that we had learned our lesson from not one but two world wars, less than a generation apart. Sometimes I wonder if there's something inherently wrong with us humans. We need to learn to evolve beyond our individual interests and learn to live peacefully on a planet that we share. I don't have the answers but while I was thinking about this, John Lennon's song Imagine kept playing in my ear and inspired this page.

This time around I remembered to take photos of each step, so here's the evolution of my layout.

I started by applying a layer of gesso and a layer of Liquitex Basics primary red (which looks pink if you ask me). When this was completely dry, I stamped all over the page with various texture stamps using black archival ink. I didn't think too much about this as I knew it would mostly get covered up. The operative word being "mostly" as I did all this for the little random bits that will still show through all the layers later.

When all this was dry, I applied a layer of blue and purple paint and removed some of it with a kitchen towel while it was still a bit wet, allowing the underlying layers to peek through.

 In the next step, I brayered a little light blue acrylic paint all over the page to further distress it. The best way to do this I find is to apply just a thin streak of paint on your brayer to cover patches of the page, not the entire surface. Move the brayer horizontally and vertically to get criss-cross lines.  I also added some white acrylics paint with my home-made silicone stamps in random places.

Next, I attached my motif of the earth and wings. These are just computer printouts from the Internet. Previously, I had painted the wings with gold acrylics and drawn the outlines with a black paint marker. Finally, I added some more stamping (black script and white texture stamps) and shaded/ outlined the picture with a black Pitt brush marker. I attached my quote and outlined the words with a Stabilo All black pencil.

I hope you enjoyed my step-by-step walkthrough. Here's the final page, followed by some close up photographs.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Funky Christmas tree made from book pages

A few days ago I came across a blog post by Karon's Krafty Korner that really wowed me. It shows you how to make a small Christmas tree from a book. It's one of those projects that looks amazing but is actually quite easy and cheap to make. All you need is an old book to construct the tree and some decorations of your choice to dress it up. I was eager to create my own version! Here it is:

I had just the right book in mind for this purpose! I couple of weeks ago I bought a thick, 600+ pages book in my local charity shop to use the cover for another project. I wasn't really sure what to do with all the book pages. There's only so many pages I can use for collage! (By the way, I've already read the book on my Kindle - Kate Morton's Distant Hours. Not her best, but still worth reading!)

You need between 150-175 pages to construct the tree. I can make four trees from just this one book! First you need to separate the covers and then divide the book into 150-175-page sections.

150-175 pages of book sections

Then just start folding the pages. There's a great video on YouTube which shows you how to do this. I'll just show you some photos. You don't need to glue anything - the book naturally forms the tree shape when all the pages have been folded. It gets a bit tricky after you pass the halfway mark, but it's doable. Use a bulldog clip to help keep the folded pages out of the way.

Folding the pages
The book naturally takes up this cone shape
Bottom view
Top view
That's it! Your tree is now ready to decorate to your heart's content. There's so many ways to decorate it. I used Dylusions inks to spay it a colourful pink/orange colour. It got a bit soggy but dried quickly. When it was dry I applied some gilding wax and Stickles to the edges to add a touch of shimmer and sparkle.

I rubbed some gilding wax on the edges

I added some glitter glue as well for a sparkly effect
I placed a working LED star on top of the tree, carefully hiding the wires inside. I just happened to have this in my stash and it was the perfect size. I finished the decoration with a piece of cream ribbon and some fabric flowers that I decorated with Stickles and pearls in the middle. I stuck these down with a hot glue gun.

The finished project

I sprayed the flowers with the same inks as the tree

I placed a pearl in the middle and added some details with Stickles

The star lights up on top!
This is such a fun project to make! It's easy enough to do with your children and let them go wild with the decoration. They will enjoy folding the pages and decorating their own Christmas tree. It is also a very versatile project. You can decorate your tree in all sorts of ways. You can be as sophisticated or as extravagant as you like. I'm thinking of doing a steampunk version with metallic effect and cogs instead of flowers for decoration. The possibilities are truly endless!