Wednesday, 27 April 2011

We might need a bigger house ...

Bank holidays in England are not supposed to have been the one we've just had like this, the weather was fantastic (well it has here in the Midlands) and I had a well earned and deserved rest, shame I've come back to work but at least the weather has returned to normal - cold dark and raining.

So part of that resting was also crafting, it was bliss to be able to spend so much time playing with inks and paints. I have long been ad admirer of Rothko, those huge canvases of layers upon layers of paint, visible brush strokes and the way the light falls on them to create depth and texture.  We went to the Rothko exhibition at the Tate in 2008 ( a quick search on Google Rothko Tate will find you reviews and examples of his work) Some of my favourites are the brown and white ones with a line across the middle at varying heights on the canvas. 

My Mum gave me a a load of A3 sized pieces of handmade paper a while back and I've wanted to do something quite large with them inspired by Rothko. 

I taped a sheet onto an old craft mat with masking tape and started adding layers of paint, starting with a soft brown, then adding washes of a paler off white / oatmeal colour, the bottom is slightly darker than the top to suggest a landscape. I left that to really dry overnight as I didn't want to tear the paper, taping to the craft sheet really helped here.  The next day I added some dry brush strokes of a darker brown very very lightly in the corners and worked a faint line across the middle.  I was trying to build layers that were hardly visible but all together created a whole piece (does that make sense?) 

Now to add more layers, I started with some text stamped randomly using expresso Adirondack, next using some willow, lemonade and hazelnut Adirondack started stamping some rectangles with some old Hero Arts background stamps I've had for years, to even out the colour I used a baby wipe to spread it around in the rectangle. Then I added some embossing with a seed head stamp with old paper distress embossing powder, it stuck to the versamark bit also some of the other bits that were a bit wet / damp, I didn't mind as I wasn't really after a neat image. Finally some old gold inka was watered down and brushed here and there and some heirloom gold perfect pearls mist sprayed.  

Moment of truth taking the masking tape off, would the paper tear?  No - safe and I really liked the neat edge of the paint against the ripped edge of the paper.  Got the sewing machine out and went round the edge in a cream thread a few times and also over the line in the middle.

OK now for the embellishments. I've had these house stamps and the Lavinia flower stamps for ages.  I stuck some old book pages to some card, stamped the images in black stazon and embossed.  Cut the houses out close to the edge and the flowers into rectangle. distressed the edges and then painted using various DI's.  Bit more old gold inka watered down added in and then stuck them down.  They looked OK but needed "anchoring" so had a rummage around and found some old self adhesive paper ribbon, it contrast well with the slightly darker colour on the bottom.

I then stuck the whole thing onto some cartridge paper that I'd distressed the edge and added some old paper DI before sticking to an piece of mount board and putting in an old IKEA frame that I'd distressed as well (lot of distressing going on here)

To say I'm chuffed to bits with it is an understatement, I have been able to translate the idea in my head into reality and it worked. I had the confidence not to panic when it looked as though it might not work and to keep adding more to see what happened.

Seeing the whole thing in the frame and hanging in pride of place in our living room makes me feel like a real artist.

Now I've started on a second one - this time blue is the colour, and the reason for the title on this blog entry?  Well we can't afford a real Rothko and anyway they are massive, but if I keep producing more artwork and it keeps getting bigger in size well then yes we might need a bigger house.


Sunday, 24 April 2011

What to do with left over flowers?

Blogging again eh, see what you can achieve when you aren't at work!

So after I'd made tons of flowers for my gorgeous pomegranate canvas and tag artwork the other week, I had some leftover cut out flowers that were just lying there taunting me to make something with them.  One of my all time favourite flowers are cone flowers where the petals droop down like tattered ballerina skirts.  I'd also had an idea wafting around in my brain to make a bouquet of flowers using florists wire for the stems.

Decision made.

I took the large petal shape and with a large paper stump rubbed them in the centre on the back to make the petals rise up (or down when you turned it over).  With the other petal shapes I did the reverse so they would rise up!

Next using a glue gun (I love using my glue gun it gives such height to your work when trying to create a 3D look) I stuck them all together carefully so as not to flatten them, added a Craftworks candy fake brad as a centre. One they were dry I sprayed some tattered rose and copper glimmer mist over the top just to give a subtle shimmer.

Stems - I was originally going to cover the wire in strips of torn calico but then thought - would tissue tape work here?  And oh yes it did!  So wound tissue tape around each of the stems.  At the top using my round nose pliers I bent over say an inch and the curl it round to make a spiral that I could attach the flower too.  Using a bit of cut an' dry I ran the stems through some peeled paint DI to add a bit of colour.

Attaching - again using the glue gun I put quite a blob of glue on the reverse of the flower and cupping the lower petals in one hand I carefully put the spiral end of the stem in the glue and slightly wiggled it to make sure it was embedded in the glue.  Held it for a bit until the glue got more solid and left the flower to set completely.

Now what to put them in? Fortunately for me we have a branch of that well know craft superstore just 10 minutes away from us. (My husband would say unfortunately but hey I don't complain when more fish and bird seed arrive from his favourite stores). So I trundled down there as I knew they got various paper mache containers that would do the trick.  Bought a circular box and the bag as I wasn't sure but in the end plumped with the bag.

I gessoed the box first and then  covered it in torn page's of text.  Next some colour.  I went with some thin washes of a vibrant pink mixed with some white to take it down a notch, then some dry brushing of the "neat" colour and finally some thin washes of  a denim blue and some dry brushed white. Now to add some stamping of text and flowers in stormy sky DI, you can hardly see it but I know it's there!  Added some wooden baubles as feet, re-threaded the handle and glued on the final three flowers.

For the flowers to sit in I cut some dry oasis to sit in the bag and covered that with some coconut fibre, I bent over the flower heads slightly and then carefully pushed the stems into the oasis staggering the height of each flower.

Pretty pleased with the result, really like the feet as they just raise it up and the flowers were exactly how I imagined them, you can just see in the photo above of the flower at the back how the petals droop down.

So it's Easter Sunday and it's clouded over a bit today just in time for the BBQ we have planned for family, but my biggest dilemma is whether to do more paper based crafting or work with some fabric? 

Now where's my sewing machine....


Saturday, 23 April 2011

Friday, 22 April 2011

I've been making stuff - honest!

It's true, I have been making stuff just not blogging.  Life (that thing we have to do between 12am and 12pm) has just got in the way a bit.
I had a play afternoon a few weeks ago with my best mate Kate, (Kate who lives here not in the US) and I thought we'd use some canvases that you can get from that well known craft store chain. We used an A4 and A5 size.  Kate made a great photo display wall hanging with a wooden clothes peg so that she could change the photo whenever she liked. It looked great and I think she had a really fab afternoon - playing.
I started by using the fabric tag I'd made the day before, in a you know just one of those let's see what happens kind of way.  I cut a tag using the Tim tag die from calico, painted the back with some PVA glue to stiffen it, love how it curls up on the edges.

On the front I wanted to make a transfer print using matte medium and acetate of a photo I'd taken. I really love this image transfer technique which Leandra (Mrs PA) had shown me ages ago at an Ally Pally show. Basically you print your image on acetate, spread a reasonable layer of matte medium on the surface you want to transfer on, put the acetate face down over the medium and start applying pressure with a bone folder or an old credit card.  Gently start to peel away the acetate to check if the ink is transferring.

I love how you never know whether it's going to work and that you never get a complete transfer and that's it's all faded and blurry. Once it had all dried I added some brown DI's and stamped some text.

Now for the canvases. 

The large one I first painted in a very light linen colour acrylic,rubbed a candle over to act a a bit of a resist and then pained with pomegranate slightly watered down. Rubbed back the top layer a bit to show a little of the linen colour. Then started stamping with Tim papillion stamp set and and backward text stamps in a purple ink. Added some swirls in pumice DI. 

For the embossed bits I used the big papillion text stamp which I adore and the little sewing location stamp with old linen distress embossing powder, I think it adds a nice contrast to the damson background.

Then the smaller canvas was painted in the linen acrylic and some old paper and burlap DI added in to add depth and tone. some more stamping and embossing. Cut out some swirls from grungeboard, painted and put them through a texture plate, then highlighted them with some old silver inka.  I also added this in around the edge of the big canvas.

Then stuck it all together and thought about how I was going to hang.  Um, metal wire through eyelets will probably work and tie in with the aged look. so that's what I did, but NOOOOOOOOOOO it looked all wrong and I thought "oh sugar" ruined it - humph.

Well I slept on it and had that light bulb moment, I don't actually want to see how it's hung up I need to attach a ring to the back and loop some ribbon through it, but how do I cover up the eyelets - flowers and lots of them! 

So after lots of stamping with a Wendy Vecchi stamp (daisy like just in the photo - it was meant to be) and cutting and inking and gluing (love the centres - craftworks candy) with the glue gun  and curling to give shape I had lots of flowers.

I think the light bulb moment worked - what do you think?

Happy crafting over this Easter weekend whether it'sin the garden, in the craftroom or a bit of both as it will be for me!