Sunday, January 26, 2014

Artist Trading Blocks

Remember these?

I wrote a post about these wonderful little chunks of 2x4's and all the possibilities they inspire and here are a couple of examples of what I've made and a special ATB made for me in a swap on Craftster. These are just the tip of the iceberg! I've got a few more in the works and if you want to see some great examples of ATB's, go to Craftster and see them Here.

I made this one whilst thinking about spring. It's been unusually cold here in southern Virginia this winter.

The flowers are raw brass findings that I enamel with fingernail polish.

Here's one that was inspired by a scrap piece of Graphic 45 paper from the Steampunk Debutante collection.
The bulb in the middle (on top of the block) is, I think, something from Tim Holtz, but the two on either side are flash bulbs used in old flash cameras way back in the 20th century. :-)

My husband gave me a bunch of rusty washers and I used a couple of them on top. I love rusty things!

And this fantastic ATB was made for me by pottermouth in the Artist Trading Block Swap on Craftster.

You can see more of this awesome ATB Here.  I'll be posting a couple more ATB's in the next week or so, so stay tuned!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Trying new things

2014 marks a time for trying new things. New places, new foods, new ways of seeing things and trying new crafts.
I've always been intimidated with the idea of quilting. You can erase a line on paper, but you can't fix fabric if you cut it in the wrong place.
Speaking from experience.
I'm such a perfectionist and so used to being successful at crafts, failing miserably (more than once) at quilting was a humbling experience. I am all for learning from my mistakes and I sure have made a bunch over the years, but that has never stopped me from trying and overcoming obstacles.
Quilting is/was one of the few things I've wistfully put aside and left to gather dust in the back of my mind.
I decided to try again this year and a friend and I signed up for a workshop at a local quilt shop called The Sewing Studio.
I was nervous, but the ladies who work there were great, very kind and patient and by lunch time I was wondering why I waited so long to give it a go again.
I had a blast!
My first successful quilting project: The Compass Pillowcase

I love it!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Madonna of the Birds and tutorials!

Yeah, we've all heard of 'Crazy Cat Ladies' but what about 'Eccentric Bird Ladies'?
No? Anybody?
Well, I personally know a couple eccentric bird ladies that are fabulous people and this piece was inspired by them, lots of wonderful supplies from Alpha Stamps and a recent trip to the  National Gallery of Art where I saw an exhibit called, Heaven and Earth: Byzantium Art from Greek Collections, it was amazing.
There were a lot of Madonnas and gold halos.
Just sayin'.

None of them had wings on their boots, though!

Supplies List:
Lady in Blue Collage Sheet
Victorian Fashions Collage Sheet
The Avenues, Home (paper used for skirt)
The Avenues, Treasure Scrapbook Paper
Monarch Brocade Varnished Paper
Monarch Cherish Varnished Paper
4 Inch Paper Doilies
Sheer Gold Organza Ribbon
Liquid Pearls-White Opal
Vintage Photo Distress Ink 
Brilliance Pigment Ink Pad - Galaxy Gold  
Copic Markers:
Madonna of the Birds Set
Mod podge
Aleenes Clear Gel Tacky Glue (great for sheer ribbon!)
Cardboard (used as the backing for the plaque)

A little lesson in coloring the varnished papers used in the Bird Madonna.

The first thing I did was cut the paper to the size of the plaque/cardboard I used and glued both pieces down, back and front. I sanded the edges, rounding the corners a bit to make them look a bit worn.
I inked the edges, first using the Galaxy Gold and then Vintage Photo.  (Love these inks!)

I like the extra richness you get when you combine the two.
Then, using the Galaxy Gold, I inked generously around the area I want to have a little extra color.

I then applied the Vintage Photo over the gold. Keep in mind you are using a dark ink, so start with
a small can always go bigger, but you can't go back if you cover too much!

It looks like a mess, I know! Quickly, before it has a chance to dry, take your old worn out gold pad (you can use any old gold pad for this) and rub the dark ink around.
The old pad will pick up the ink where it doesn't stick to the paper and you're left with a nice accentuated pattern.

Super easy and looks fabulous!

But wait, there's more!

How to do the doily halo. Those Madonnas at the museum were rockin' these things!
First, cover the doily back and front with a layer of mod podge. Do one side at a time, letting it dry before you do the flip side or it will stick to whatever you lay it on. A piece of wax paper works great for a work surface. Make sure it's completely dry before you move on.
Next, when you're sure of placement, coat the entire back side of the doily with mod podge, place it, press it down gently, making sure it's completely flat, and let it dry thoroughly.
Okay, this is the fun part!

A little bit about paint. I used Golden Acrylic paints because that's what I've got, but you can use any gold acrylic paint for this as long as it's relatively opaque. Like the one pictured on the upper left.

I used my finger for this (please excuse the strange gold finger in the picture)
but you can use a brush if you like. I just dabbed, rubbed and smeared until I covered
the doily pretty thoroughly. Try not to get gold paint on the background, but it's not tragic if you makes things  more interesting!
Let it dry. Or not.
Sometimes I'm a little impatient.

Okay, now here's the part where I say you have to have a certain kind of paint.
See that tube of paint on the right hand side of the picture? (above the picture with the gold finger, ha.)
That is called Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold. Oh, baby do I love this paint.
It's translucent and for that reason you can use this wonderful stuff as a second layer on top of any gold paint (and on lots of other paints, too) and it adds a richness and old world quality to whatever you put it on. I use it a lot. It's my secret ingredient in a lot of things I make.

I dab a little bit on the doily and kind of smudge it around. If it dries too fast for you, dip your finger (or your brush) in water -not too much- and it will spread a lot easier. You don't need a lot. A little goes a long way, and I didn't cover all the the gold paint with it. Just enough to make it look like it's aged in spots.
When you're satisfied with what it looks like, let it dry and carry on with your piece.
It's great stuff. Any time you want to add a little depth and richness to gold paint, this is the stuff to use. 
Did I say I really love this paint?
I really, really do.

Note: This is not a paint that you can go to WalMart and get. It's a bit expensive. You can order it online and I have seen it at Michaels.
Dick Blick sells it for about $9.27 for a 2oz. tube. It's worth it!

And one more thing.........

Let's have a wee chat about Copic Markers.

I use Copics for lots of things, but today I'm going to talk a bit about how I used them in the Madonna.
Copics are alcohol based, permanent markers with nips at both ends. Many of the colors are translucent and can be used to juice up color on collage sheets and other ephemera. They are also great for toning down the raw, cut edges on collage images without the harsh line of black in markers.
In the Madonna, I've used the skin white to enhance the color on her cheeks, give her a bit of a shadow by her left ear and pink up her lips a bit. (I thought she looked a little wan) While I was at it I gave her a little shadow in her decolletage. Because every girl should have a little cleavage.

I used the leather marker to outline the birds on her shoulder and sleeve as I wanted them to show up, but I wanted a softer look than black. I was a little anxious that her birdcage hat wasn't going to show well against all that glorious gold, so I used the leather marker for that as well.
I also used it to color the liquid pearl 'leash' on the bird she's taking a stroll with.
The same marker is used to outline most of her body.
All the flowers and other birds I used the Brick Beige marker on....I didn't need them to 'pop' but I didn't want those white edges showing. The Brick Beige blends in well.

I used the Pale Aqua to make strips on her tights and to pump up the color in the bow at her breast.
Here's a tip about edging fussy cutting.

This little girl is a good example of a few delicate pieces that can be problematic to edge. The dang things want to bend and create problems!
A simple solutions is this:
Turn the piece over, place it on piece of scrap paper and run the fine tip of the Copic marker around the whole thing.

 The ink is absorbed into the paper around the edge and eliminates the raw white bit. A word of caution; some papers are more absorbent than others and will soak up color beyond just the edge.
Test your paper before you begin to make sure the marker won't bleed into the image too much.
It helps to use a color that is close to what the front of the image has on it. I've been known to use four or five different markers on one image.
Experiment and find what suits you and have fun!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

There is a big old world out there, full of possibilities and opportunities. Let's go get some!