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Sunday 22 December 2013

Confessions of a New Christmas Crafter

I can't believe it has been so long since I lasted blogged.  My husband has been transferred to Hong Kong and we are moving there early next year so the last couple of months have been hectic with a trip to Hong Kong and days of serious dejunking and sorting out.  I don't often say Christmas is going to be the relaxing part of this year!  Just the two of us, packing and watching tv and videos - excellent!

I don't usually do anything fancy for Christmas but every Christmas Eve my husband and I go to a friends' place for dinner (we are the same 4 couples each year) and the host gives us all a lovely little present wrapped with ribbons and all sorts and she's not even a crafter!  I just felt that this year I needed to make more of an effort and there are so many lovely gift wrapping ideas on Pinterest that it is very inspiring.

So while surfing, I found two tutorials which would totally suit what I wanted to do.  The first was a tutorial to make a flower found at and the second was a pillow box found at

So I went out and bought some red crepe paper, some red cardboard, some gold balls on a string (for the flower hearts), some gold glitter and some gold embossing powders. 

I sat down today and thought 'do I really want to do this (sigh).  Maybe I should have just bought some pretty ribbon.'  Anyhow, too often I have gone out and bought stuff and never made what I intended to make and still I find stuff and think 'hey, what did I buy that for?' - SOUND FAMILIAR??!

Also, do you sometimes wonder if it will be as good as what you have in your head??

So here goes..  Firstly, the red cardboard was really boring and the challenge was to make it Christmassy.  I tried embossing it in my Big Shot but it just didn't feel right.  Then I got one of my stamping patterns and tried it with the gold embossing powder and thought 'yeah, this is the way to go' so here was my starting kit together with glue:

I went through the flower tutorial (see link above) but because I didn't have any round cutters I raided my foreign coin stash and found a 20 piece from Australia and a 50 cents piece from Hong Kong which fit the bill nicely!  I drew around these on the crepe paper and cut them out. 

The Flower:  one thing was clear from the start - the crepe paper I bought wasn't great quality and I decided to make each petal double.  Also, lots of glue just made the crepe paper disintegrate so I used it very sparingly not like the video!  My crepe paper also didn't stretch as much and I was a bit apprehensive about how the flowers would turn out in the end.  I made a couple more petals just in case but in the end they weren't needed. 

I wondered at this point whether it was all going to be worth it but once I had put the whole flower together I was surprisingly pleased.  Hmmm, not so bad after all.

Now the box:  I took the svg pattern into Inkscape and changed the size to suit the size of my gifts, printing it out a couple of times to get the size right.  I cut out the shape on paper first and used it as a template to cut out the cardboard.  I scored the lines using a steel ruler and quite fortuitously a cd worked well to make the circular score lines for the openings:

Once I had cut out the cardboard and bent along the score lines I then inked up the pattern stamp with the Versamark inkpad, stamped it, covered it with the gold embossing powders and then used a heatgun to finish off the embossing.

Here is the end result and I am mightily pleased.  Was it worth it??  Heck, yes.

Monday 30 September 2013

Digital Stamps

Wow, sorry, it's been ages since I last blogged and although I haven't done much in the way of art/craft lately, hundreds of ideas have been milling around my head.

The last time I made my own Christmas cards was a couple of years back and it was a great photo of our back garden with a snowman.  I felt this year that I would like to get into some serious card making so I have been looking on pinterest and checking out all the wonderful cards on the internet to get inspiration and the cards I like the most are the stamped, vintage looking cards.

So last week I went to a big stamp and card making show and was just shocked at the price of everything.  You know, I do love Tim Holtz's distress ink pads but then it's the sprays and the pens and goodness knows what else and I think is it all necessary!!?  Then there's the nesties and the stamps and the accessories.  Just for a couple of cards, you have to buy a whole shop!

So I decided that I am going to create my own 'digital stamps' and my own background papers.  So as a test I got one of my flower pictures and proceeded to make a birthday card.  I love it!  I wondered whether it would take any of the 'arty-craftiness' out of card making but it required just as much skill to get the mix right, choose the colours and make up the card.  Christmas cards here I come!

This is my original picture:

This is the card I created.  I printed onto some pearlised paper that you can use in your inkjet printing and it gives it a lovely sheen:

Think I might try some black outlines next and colour them in and see how that goes.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Am I painting this??

I spent yesterday experimenting with PSE.  I wanted to create one of those weird pictures where reality and picture are mixed up together.  I wanted to give the illusion that I was actually painting the picture so I took a picture of my hand and added it to the picture and converted some of the picture to black and white.  I didn't actually want the hand to look too real - I wanted it to look part of the picture - so I added a black outline and used the cut out filter to make it a bit blocky.

Friday 2 August 2013

Flowers for Photo Art Friday

I haven't taken part in Photo Art Friday for a while but when I saw it was flowers, I thought I just had to submit a picture as my hubby had taken some great pictures of the flowers in our garden.

So here is my submission:

And here is how I did it.

  1. I copied the background layer (ctrl+j for PC or cmd+j for Mac)
  2. I then set the foreground colour to #c1a567 and the background to white.
  3. With the copy selected, I went to the filter gallery and choose the Stamp under Sketch and changed the Light/Dark balance so that most of the flower and leaves were beige.
  4. I then changed the blending mode of this layer to Pin Light and set the opacity to 83%.
  5. Pen and ink layer:  I made another copy of the background and went to Filter>Sketch>Pen and Ink.  I put the detail up to 1 with a little width and contrast and put the fill down to zero so that it was just a black outline on white.
  6. I then went to the magic wand tool selected a white area and deleted the white.  I set the opacity of this layer to 60%.
  7. I brought in the free texture, Sky Love, from Pixel Dust Photo Art and set the blending mode to Color Burn and the opacity to 72%.  I put this layer just below the pen and ink layer.
  8. Finally I added a levels adjustment layer and lightened the whole image a little.

Thursday 1 August 2013

Andy Skinner's Book of Secrets

Finally finished my 'Book of Secrets' or in this case Box of Secrets.  I see Andy's starting a new course on the 9th August 2013.

Had such fun doing this box and have a couple more in mind....
Also thought it fitted in well with this week's theme of time on Inspiration Avenue.

Sunday 28 July 2013

Mixed Media Artist Andy Skinner

Went on a fab course yesterday at The Stamp Attic with Andy Skinner.  We did various techniques for distressing and applying images to boxes using DecoArt products.  With the red box we applied a distressed image and further distressed the edges; in the second box we applied Traditions acrylic paints to get a vintage look and in the final box we transferred an image to the painted, distressed and crackled surface that we did.

In my next blog I will show you the box I made in Andy's amazing online workshop The Book of Secrets.

Friday 19 July 2013

PSE Selection Videos

I have added all my Photoshop Elements selection videos to YouTube.  If you want to know when to use each type of selection method, watch the six videos and you will have a clear idea by the end which selection to use when you are editing your own photos.

Here are some of the photos that I used in the videos.  The mask I use in video 3 is by Shadowhouse Creations:

Monday 15 July 2013

Monday 8 July 2013

Gelli Printing on Fabric

Ah now, this is the way to go.  LOVE printing on fabric.

I used some pieces of sheet cotton and Pebeo Setacolors and Jacquard Lumiere.  I occasionally mixed the two types of paints together because the Lumiere gives a lovely sheen.  I also added Pebeo's Setacolor medium which meant my paints went further.

First layer I used textures.  My favourite were a fun foam stamp, bubblewrap (awesome), wallpaper and a grouting tool to make lines:

On the second layer I used positive stencils and some foilage.  Here are my best results:

Finally, I blended some of my not-so-good results with the better results in PSE and came up with these:

Sunday 7 July 2013

PSE 8-10 Beginner Videos

I have just uploaded all my Photoshop Elements 8-10 beginner videos onto YouTube for anybody who wants a quick crash course on how to use it.

If you want to be able to do the changes that I did to my prints in the previous post then watch videos five and eight.

Also, these 3 pdf files are a good beginners aid.  I use the shortcut keys a lot in the videos:

Happy viewing!

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Getting on the Gelli Plate Bandwagon

I bought myself a gelli plate last year in the US because you couldn't get them here in the UK at the time.  It has been sitting in my cupboard, waiting to be used.  Suddenly, it seems that everybody is using them, teaching with them, painting with them - they've gone viral!

So, I thought, okay time to see what this gelli plate malarkey is all about.

Went out and got myself some vegetation and put together some mark making tools.

It wasn't as easy as it looks!  It needs a bit of practise and organisation.  Here are a couple of things that I learnt from my first run:

  1. Don't use copier paper.  It buckles and there is nothing more soul destroying (particularly with this craft) than getting a decent print on a lousy piece of paper.  It also tends to stick to the plate if the paint has dried a bit.  Instead I used a 50 sheet pad of cartridge 120gsm and it worked nicely.
  2. Expect that there is only going to be 1 good print for every 5 bad although I hope with practice this will improve!
  3. When you clean your plate, do the final dry with a fabric cloth/towel.  The first time, I patted a paper towel on it for the final dry and took the next 10 minutes trying to scrap it off!
  4. Don't use paper stencils.  Again, horrible to get off the gel plate and in the meantime the paint has dried so you don't get a ghost print.  Also, fatally I used a paper stencil with a previous layer that was wet and couldn't get it off my original - gutted.  I had some acetate stencils that I made some while back and they worked great.
  5. I found that a smaller brayer worked better than a big one but might just be me.
  6. I tended to clean the plate inbetween prints because otherwise the previous layer sometimes dried and you don't get crisp mark making.
Here are some of my prints:

The second and fifth are ghost prints and on the fifth you can see the white scratch marks caused by trying to get the paper stencil off the plate.

Ah, but the big thing for me is using them in Photoshop Elements.  I took a picture of the leaves that I had used because they looked so pretty:
And then I blended this photo with the third and sixth prints to get these manipulations (also changed the levels and colours). Some of them would probably look better in portrait:

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Lino Cutting

I had such a fun day today.  I went to visit my photographer friend, Kayla Stoate, who does the most amazing portraits.  She has recently purchased a printing press and we both wanted to have a go at doing a lino cut.

We struggled a bit with the press but I think with a bit of practice it will work well.  This is a print I got from the pheasant that I did.  It wasn't as accurate as the picture - probably took on more than I could chew - but not bad for my first attempt. 

I had converted the original photo to a black and white copy using the Pen and Ink filter in Photoshop Elements 11 and made the mistake of not taking a copy of the original photo to compare back to.  I transferred the laser copy to the lino using a matt medium which worked pretty well - again something that I could do better next time.

It's never as easy as it looks!

Sunday 23 June 2013

Swannery in Dorset

I have been meaning to post some of the pictures I took at the Swannery in Abbotsbury, Dorset.  It was just a fantastic day.

Thursday 13 June 2013

Nearly a disaster

I went on a canvas stretching course this week at DIYFraming and as part of the course we had to bring two items to stretch which could be canvas or fabric.  I decided that I wanted to bring one of each so that I could get a feel for stretching both.  One of the canvasses was to have a thick frame and the other was to have a thin frame but be mounted in what is called a tray which is what I was really interested in.

So I set about making a quick fabric picture to stretch on a frame and came up with a sunbird based on a photo that I had.  I printed all the fabric on my computer and once I had stuck the applique pieces on with fusible web, I drew lines with a vanishing ink pen to help me with the thread lines that I was going to sew.  At the end I decided that I would add some butterflies on the background in the same thread as the background just so that there would be a faint thread butterfly outline on the background.  I did this two days before it needed to be finished and was alarmed the day before the course when I realised that not all the lines from the vanishing ink pen were disappearing.  Where I had pressed a little harder the ink was not disappearing!

It looked terrible - these 3 drawn butterflies on the background spoilt the piece completely.  So at 9.00pm on the night before the course, I set about replacing the background (I had already added a border).  I reprinted a background with text, drew a pattern of where the background should be using a lightbox, applied fusible web and cut out the background.  I stuck it in place and proceeded to sew around the edges.  10.30pm I was finished and it looked okay.  Phew!

So here is the end result, stretched onto a frame.  Although it wasn't perfect, in the end I thought it was better because the original background had looked too busy.  It was a fun piece but not spectacular.

Here is the other picture I framed which is a photo taken by my husband that I manipulated.  I love this piece and as you can see it goes well with the sofas in our lounge.  These tray frames really make a canvas look professional and I'm chuffed that I am now able to do them myself: