Sunday, 21 December 2008


This is another ATC made for a competition - had a lot of fun with this! The background is distress inks on watercolour paper, which has a fabulous texture for paint and ink but isn't smooth enough for stamping on.

The image is from a Crafty Individuals stamp, which I watercoloured, overlaid with a metal arch embossed by hand and coloured with alcohol inks, then mounted onto black card to make it stand out more. The black arches at the base are a Teesha Moore stamp which has been embossed.

Although you can't tell the black dots are quite 3D because they're done with relief outliner. The gold scrap wings have been slightly coloured to give them greater dimension. I'm pleased with this one - it will be hard to send it away!!

Friday, 19 December 2008


This unfinished box contained (rather yummy) chocolates and was a Christmas gift last year. I'd held onto the box ever since, believing that inspiration would strike in terms of what I should do with it ... and as you can see it did!

It was only once I'd learned the metal embossing techniques that I realised this would be a perfect way to cover up the logo on the lid. The wood was actually unfinished so first I gave it two coats of light wood stain to make it a more interesting shade, and followed this up with two coats of matte varnish. The result isn't actually completely matte, but is exactly what I wanted in terms of a very slight sheen but not shiny.

Then I cut a metal panel to almost cover the lid and worked on this as a unit. As you can see I worked from the outside edge in, gradually covering the whole piece. Because quite a lot of the design is very 3D this was also the first time I used fine grade Polyfilla (that's Spackle to those of you in North America) on the reverse to fill the depth of, for example, the celtic style border. This ensures that the design won't become flattened in use - and it really works, although it does make the panel quite rigid. I carefully kept the filler away from the edges where I'd need to tape it down.

The panel was fastened on with the extra strong tape - a band of it right around the outside edge, then a criss-cross of tapes across the piece. The result is very secure and I don't think the panel is going anywhere! Although I've stained and varnished the inside too, I haven't quite decided how to finish it yet - perhaps line it with some sumptuous scrapbook paper?? I'll probably decide once I know what I want to use it for!

Thursday, 18 December 2008


I made this as part of my entry for an ATC competition. The face is a stamp by Hampton and is possibly my all-time favourite - it's so discoloured and scruffy from use! The background stamp is by Crafty Individuals and I love these lilies, which I stamped over a blue and pink background paper. I picked up the turquoise blue in the butterfly wings and in her eye - what you can't see is that I've used mica paints, which gives a slightly unearthly reflective look.

I stamped the lilies again and cut one out - it's mounted on foam pads although this doesn't show very well in the photo, and I picked out the stamens with black relief outliner. Unusual colours for me but I think it works .... (and since I took this picture I've now coloured the white of her eye with a white pen, which makes her look a bit less spooky)!

I haven't posted much this week - not only is it very busy but my mum is probably dying. Since she's suffered from dementia for a number of years it can only be a merciful release.

Monday, 15 December 2008


My oldest daughter sent me a surprise present in the post - and look what it is!! It's only 2' tall and sits on my table all pink and sparkly. Isn't it FABULOUS?

Downstairs the Christmas decorations are a tasteful composition of red and green, with lots of natural greenery from the garden and a real tree .... but up here in my studio I can indulge my sense of humour, and it makes me laugh whenever I look at it!

And how lucky am I to have a daughter who would send me this just to make me smile with a little note that said "I saw this and thought of you" .......

Friday, 12 December 2008


I've been doing a bit more work on my pink book today (after making another 2 dozen mince pies). I showed some other pages earlier, and it's such fun to work on, it always makes me smile while I'm doing it! Unfortunately it's still rather a slim book and I do need to add more to it, but I'm beginning to run out of ideas - so if you have any let's hear them!!

The stuff in my bag has become very pink, so I emptied it out and photographed the contents! If there doesn't look much I should explain that I use a very small bag with a long strap which I can wear across my body, so that my hands are free for crutches or zimmer frame. Having a very small bag concentrates the mind wonderfully when it comes to the stuff you really need ...

And then I wanted to explain that pastel pinks just don't cut it - if the colour is going to shout "hey, over here" then it has to be full-blown fuschia, bright, brilliant PINK.

Thursday, 11 December 2008


I've been making a set of 11 of these for a "Vintage Beauty" ATC swap I'm part of. You can imagine why I signed up for it - never good resist the vintage look or the chance to work in my favourite sepia tones.

I used images from a Lunagirl set of slide shaped photos, which were perfect for this topic. I used some script paper as a background, plus a sheet of tape measures, and those Kelly Panacci stamps I've used so much. I antiqued the edges with chalk inks too - another favourite technique.

This feels like some kind of faded keepsake - like a dance programme perhaps - kept in tissue at the bottom of a box and brought out occasionally as a reminder of times past ..... fanciful, me???

Tuesday, 9 December 2008


I made this for Sunday Stampers latest challenge, to use blue and brown. I don't often stamp with brown but thought I would have a go.

The background is Distress Inks and the main image is by Enchanted Gallery, from a set designed to use on dominos. I watercoloured the image and mounted it onto dark brown card.

The strip of lace is from Stamp N Stor, and the border stamps are from a set by Kelly Panacci. I added 3 deep brown snaps at the bottom.

While I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, and I love this colour scheme, my problem is that I can never seem to find a brown ink pad which is dark enough. The one I used is Versafine and I've bought several others so far, but they're always paler than I wanted. If anyone knows of a good dark one then do please let me know!!

Monday, 8 December 2008



I made this ATC for the Wednesday Stamper challenge which this week was to use metal! Well as you can imagine that was no hardship .....

I'd been so pleased with the large metal arch I made that I decided to make a small one as a window for an ATC, using the soft sheet metal that you can emboss.

The background is Distress Ink and in Denim, China and Weathered wood. The image is a stamp by Paper Artsy, which I watercoloured. Other detail was added with stamps by Teesha Moore and Fiskars.

It was such a treat after a busy weekend to just sit down and play ....

Friday, 5 December 2008


These are the windows I made for this week's challenge over on Awfully Big Art Adventure. The green Frida is ATC sized, and the other is based around a postcard sized wooden picture frame - I added the wooden struts to make it look more like a window.

I rather enjoyed doing these - each quite different. The Frida one has a soft watercoloured look because I found a drawing of a window to use and added shading with my watercolour pencils.

The wooden frame was a cheapie buy in a dollar store - these were made as little craft kits for children with 4 in a pack plus some markers. I threw the markers away and bought two packs!
I was thinking about genteel poverty behind closed doors and the mask of respectability, and these two little ones are looking out at a world more colourful than their own life. I think it's because our huge old house is FREEZING at the moment, so I am dreaming of double glazed cosy cottages ....

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


I actually made this for a challenge the other week, but then buried it under some stuff on my desk and never managed to post it in time.

I think the challenge was to use a hand somewhere, and this was on a Teesha Moore collage sheet and just cried out to be used.

Once again I used one of my Distress Ink backgrounds, and I picked up the stripey bits in the picture with a Paper Artsy stamp that I used around the edge.

Every now and again I break out of vintage mode into something slightly wierd and wacky ... and this is definitely one of those times! I wonder what gets into me, maybe I need a bright splash of colour in these dark days? Perhaps I just need a bit of a laugh? Answers on a postcard please ...

Monday, 1 December 2008


I've been doing an online class for an altered tin project, and I photographed the stages to show you. It used a couple of techniques I hadn't tried before.

The basic project required half a tin - so you get to keep the lid for another time. Then you had to tear masking tape into little bits and cover every inch of the tin, inside and out. I wasn't particularly sure about this stage because it was a nice shiny tin bought for altering. Anyway, since the whole point was to learn something new I did eventually do it, and admit to it being quite a therapeutic process. At this stage I also added a hanging wire to the back held on by strips of tape.

The next stage was to paint over the masking tape and then almost immediately rub most of the paint off. As you can see this gave a rather nice effect, and the dark paint went into the cracks and made a crazy paving effect. A coat of sealant went on the outside, but leaving the top edge and the inside uncoated for a better surface to stick things to.

Then it was decoration time and I put a large cabinet photo into the back, with a bottletop decoration. I don't know how well the photo shows that the other images are mounted in a 3D effect - in layers one above the other. To achieve this you make a hollow square out of cardboard and put it behind the image to support it - and I added tabs at the sides too for extra support. It gives a really interesting effect. The final stage is to edge and decorate the tin, which I've done with german scrap and some chipboard swirls painted gold then antiqued.

This piece is another of my stories - there's the man of the house and his sweet wife with a baby and their charming daughters, with their happy home pictured at the front. But there's a shadow over all of this - in that Father has a mistress an opera dancer (pictured in the bottlecap). Despite the appearance of Victorian domesticity, all is not as it seems behind closed doors ......

Saturday, 29 November 2008


Look what I found! I've no idea what it was doing there it but I spotted it in a bargain bin at the local independent £1 shop, and that's what I paid for it! Maybe it's one of those oddities that got left on the stock room shelf and forgotten about?

It's quite a nice wooden shelf/frame about 12" high, and you can just see where I've pulled out a row of small hooks from the upper part. I'm not worried about the holes because I can fill them without worrying about spoiling the wood since I'll probably paint it. The starfish is going too, but I may well recycle it for something else. At first I thought of putting a mirror behind the frame, but not sure at this stage. I'm sure something will come to me.

It joins the (quite large) collection of goodies I've collected to alter, and will have to sit around for a while until inspiration strikes! At the moment I fancy painting it in quite strong colours and patterns, and perhaps adding collage images. Not sure yet.

Friday, 28 November 2008


These are the pieces I made for our challenge over on Awfully Big Art Adventure. The purple angel is from an idea I found online - she's about 12" long and mainly done with mountboard and scrapbook papers, with her face, hair and wings hand painted. She's going to hang in our hall when the decorations go up.

The other piece is a celebration of my favourite store - Artchix. They have such fabulous stuff to play with, and this is one of their metal dreamboxes with a Mona angel inside it, made from Artchix collage sheets. I gave the box a coat of gesso so that the paint would stick, and added some gold decorations including a cherub, and the scrumptious German scrap wings.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008


This is one of the items we made last week in the Small Art Adventure! We had all so much admired the class offered by LB Crafts with Paper Artsy, but none of us needed to learn the metal techniques. We studied the project and this is my sincere homage to that work, inspired by but not identical to it.

The gothic arch shape always makes me think of church windows and matters spiritual so that's what I wanted mine to convey. I've used embossing designs that speak to me of creation, and the word "Peace". The central panel is stamped onto cotton fabric, and the angel design is my Christmas card this year, but I have totally failed to record who made the stamp. I added a background of latin text and edged it with a gothic motif from Teesha Moore.

I'm particularly pleased with the mixture of silver and copper, which has been coloured with alcohol inks before aging with black paints. I used some beads from my stash threaded on wire through copper eyelets. I do hope the original designers won't mind my using their work as inspiration - I couldn't get on the course anyway. I am just thrilled with this and think it may well be the best piece of work I ever did (if I say so myself as probably shouldn't)!! Modest or wot?

Monday, 24 November 2008


I made this for the Crazy Amigo challenge where the theme is "moon". It gave me the chance to try out one of my new moulds from The Stamp Bug - I use the Delight clay they supply too because it's extremely light and easy to use, and the white colour makes it perfect for painting. You can't quite see in the photo that the moon is 3D, although it's a shallow mould. I painted it with mica paints to get a shimmery appearance.

The background is done with Distress Inks and then I added Paper Artsy stamps, and Paper Whimsy images, not to mention that freebie grass stamp from Tanda that I find so amazingly useful! It still seemed to "need" something, so I added some detail with a silver pen.

Sunday, 23 November 2008


This is one of the projects I did with Sharon and Linda in our "Small Art Adventure"! We each shared a technique, and Linda persuaded me to do a collaged background by tearing pieces of paper and slapping them onto the box any old how. Now I realise I like to be in control of the effects I'm achieving, so this random way of working went really against the grain .... and I admit I struggled. Everyone tells me my work is so "neat" (as in tidy) and I'm never sure if that's a compliment or not!!

But, it's true once you try something your eyes are opened, and I do think its a great way of achieving a background that I might well use again. However, what I put on the top was much more me (if a little grungier than usual) and my sense of humour came out in the words "cold, blow sniff hack" - well it is a tissue box! The colour of the lid picks up the shade in the tape measure at the bottom, and I distressed it with chalk inks to make it fit with the rest, then added a layer of Mod Podge to seal it.

Friday, 21 November 2008


This is one of Artchix's gorgeous little "dreamboxes", otherwise known as tin nichos from Mexico intended for use as a small personal shrine. I absolutely love working with these, they come in all sizes, and this one is about 5" high.

This is the first time I've painted one (I've always used alcohol inks before) and I was quite pleased with the effect. It gave me lots of scope to just play about ... and a tiny touch of pink and sparkly just seemed right. I sealed the paint afterwards with Mod Podge to protect it.

Inside I've used two artchix images - the door and a winged Mona. You can't see very well but Mona is quite 3D because I mounted her on a card tab about half an inch in front of the door.

The last couple of days have been spent joyfully playing with Sharon and Linda, who came down here for our own "Small Art Adventure". We've had such a brilliant time making art together it seems very quiet and sad up here in my attic since they left ....

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


I made this for the Sunday Stamper's challenge, which was to use "golden brown". It looks a bit more orange in the picture, but it is (sort of) that colour - I messed around with Distress inks on watercolour paper until I thought I'd got it right.

Now I did mention yesterday that I was in a slightly off the wall mood didn't I? Well this is the evidence ..... I do actually know what I meant but now I look at it again, perhaps it's a bit strange. Hey ho, can't win them all.

The background stamp of houses is by Teesha Moore, and so is the strange eye. I added the other houses from an unidentified collage sheet. I was thinking about home and our sense of identity and a sort of play on words around the saying .... as if someone could actually see your home town by the things you said? Yes, well it made sense to me at the time ....

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


I made this for this week's TMTA challenge which is to use a food/drink related theme. I took a slightly sideways view of it, starting with the large pear which is a stamp but I don't know who by!

The background is of course Distress Inks with a Tim Holtz image stamped over it. The small pear image is from an Artchix collage sheet and the face is from a Teesha Moore collage sheet.

I was in a slightly off the wall mood with this (and the one I'll show you tomorrow), getting away from vintage for a change. The more I play with Distress Inks the more I love them, particularly for colour shaded backgrounds like this.

And the story? Well as you can see the background is an accounts sheet, and our heroine runs a factory making pear-shaped items. However in these troubled financial times she can see that the balance sheet is going downhill and disaster looms. Should she bail out now? Will a handsome investment banker come along to rescue her .... watch this space!!

Sunday, 16 November 2008


I made this ATC for the Theme Thursday challenge where the theme is birds. I absolutely love this image from a Teesha Moore collage sheet - he looks a bit of a wily old bird doesn't he? Makes me smile.

The background is made with Distress Inks on a linen finish card, and I took inspiration from the colour and pattern on the bottom of the picture for the zig zags on the sides, which I did with watercolour pencils and a permanent pen marker. The letters at the top are from a Tim Holtz distressibles sheet, and the wording comes from the title of American writer Maya Angelou's first volume of autobiography.

Perhaps these words are a quote from something else, so if you know where from do please tell me. I've always loved them and they speak powerfully to me, so perhaps for this reason I'm tempted to keep this one ... unless you want to get in touch and tell me why I actually made it for you??

Saturday, 15 November 2008


... I'll be back in the pink! Well I must be feeling (a bit) better because I was in pink mode again yesterday. Made this for the TGIF challenge where the theme this week is hats.

The background is leftover scrapbook paper, and the image is from Digital Collage Sheets. Those famous Kelly Panacci border stamps have crept in again - goodness I've had my money's worth from them already, they are just so useful!

Can't remember where the pointy finger stamp came from, but I've coloured it with watercolour pencils to make it stand out. This is quite a simple construction but I like it, and I'm pleased with the fact that I didn't put the picture square in the middle - I'm such a straightist, it's a huge development for me to put things on at an angle, or down at the bottom like this!!!

Friday, 14 November 2008


Went to the Hobbycrafts show at the NEC yesterday and might possibly have overdone it a bit. Even with my Zelda Zimmer frame it's a long day on your feet and it always knocks me for six, but I don't care (much anyway) because it's worth it for a creative day's shopping!

This is my set of inchies made for our challenge over on the Awfully Big Art Adventure. I hadn't done any before, feeling that they didn't offer enough scope in such a small space. It was only when I saw a set of them altogether that I began to get it, and it was only after I'd made these that I read somewhere about inchies which tell a story ... so that's got to be worth a try with my love of making up stories!!

Mounted up and framed these would make quite a good Christmas present wouldn't they? Hmmmm where did I put that ruler .....?

Wednesday, 12 November 2008


I made this for the Crazy Amigo challenge, which this week was blue and red. It isn't really a colour scheme that comes naturally to me who's first love is a vintage look, however that's what challenges are about, right?

I was given a brilliant book for my birthday called Rubber Stamping Artist Trading Cards, and I always find it inspirational on days like today when my brain doesn't work (still coughing). This arose out of something in the book and it's quite different from my usual work and I'm not even sure if I like it!

The clown stamp is by Invoke Arts, but I can't remember who makes the Latin text stamp. I struggled with the colour scheme at first because the blue and red were the same "value", but the introduction of the turquoise (also blue right?) sorted it all out.

Tomorrow I'm off to the hobbycrafts show at the National Exhibition Centre - taking my new Zelda Zimmer Frame for a walk. SO looking forward to my annual outing!!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008


After my weekend travels (in which I developed a horrid catarrhal infection, lost my voice and ended up miserable!) I couldn't wait to get back to creating. Now I know I said I wouldn't be making any more, but you have all heroically reduced my ATC mountain, so I couldn't resist working in my best beloved brown vintage style on an ATC .... it's simply my favourite way to work, and I did need cheering up.

I've been reading a book about life in colonial India, in which quite small children were routinely put on trains unaccompanied except by luggage, and left in the care of the guard until met at their destination! Can you imagine doing that now - social services would have a FIT, and child neglect prosecutions would be sure to follow ...

Anyway, that's what I was thinking about when I made this - I used a remnant of scrapbook paper for the background and found this picture of luggage online. The rather worried looking little girl sitting on the top is from Digital Collage Sheets, and the ticket is a stamp by Invoke Arts. The words are all taken from Tim Holtz distressibles sheets.

Can't you just imagine her sitting on her trunk at the station waiting for mama and papa to come and collect her? Has there been a misunderstanding about train times, have they forgotten about her? The poor little thing does look a teeny bit anxious doesn't she?

Friday, 7 November 2008

This is the block (approximately ATC sized) that I made for our challenge over on Awfully Big Art Adventure.

I gave the wooden block a couple of coats of gesso to give me a smooth surface to work on, then painted the block with Crackle paint in frayed burlap. To make the panels I used an art paper onto which I printed architectural drawings, adding a gothic looking stamped edge.

Both the angels are photos found on the internet which I cut out, and all the writing is computer generated. The text is from a Paul Simon song "You can call me Al".

I'm a long-standing fan of Paul Simon whose lyrics are often beautiful, though frequently obscure. The line "he sees angels in the architecture" always spoke to me of something understood however - the soaring gothic of our English (and European) cathedrals has always made me think that if you looked up to the heights of the roof and spires, you might expect to see angels gathered there looking down. I've wanted to do a piece about that for some time and now I have - although I've got a much larger triptych that I also want to use in a way that celebrates my theological beliefs, so might expand this idea.

Shan't be posting this weekend as we're going back up to our old haunts of the Lake District, where we used to live until 2 years ago. It will be strange, possibly even spooky, going back but the chance of a weekend to ourselves is so rare (MIL lives with us) that we jumped at the opportunity. See you next week!

Thursday, 6 November 2008


I made this yesterday for a friend's 50th birthday. It's 6 x 6" and goes in one of those deep box frames. I've photographed it out of the frame because of reflections on the glass. She said she didn't want any birthday presents because she doesn't need anything, but I wanted to make her something to tell her that I value our friendship. We met when we were both suffering from deep depression and helped each other through a bad time, which has made a lasting bond between us even though we no longer meet very often since I moved.

She tends to like "cute" pretty stuff and I don't, so I've tried to make it more her style than mine ... not an easy challenge! I just can't do cute bears or whatever .... it isn't ME.

Anyway, despite it being quite "pretty" I do like how it has turned out. The background is a Basic Grey paper and the pewter butterfly sticker is by Magenta - I bought it in a sale ages ago, one of those "it's bound to come in for something" buys! The friendship quote is mounted onto blue card to make it stand out, and then I stamped the (Autumn Leaves) swirls around it.

Then I stamped the larger butterflies onto watercolour paper and painted them, then mounted them quite high on two foam pads to take advantage of the deep frame and make it more 3D, although the photo doesn't show this very well. It still looked just a little bare, so I added another stamped small butterfly, which seemed to finish it off nicely. I think she'll like it.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


I've been taking an online course by Sue Bleiweiss to learn the art of journal making, and this is the first project in the course.

The cover is made with pelmet vilene onto which is fused cotton fabric, then the edges are all satin-stitched. The course suggested a velcro closure but I chose to do a button and loop, although there are any number of ways to fasten it.

The next stage was to make sets of pages, known as "signatures" which I cut out of watercolour paper. I made six signatures and they are all stitched in place along the spine of the cover. As you can see from the open picture, I have already decorated some of the pages, but only a little until I decide what this album will be for. It's going to be MINE whatever, but I'm so glad I've learned this technique because it will be great to make these as gifts.

Monday, 3 November 2008


I recently subscribed to an online Domino Book class from Joggles and I've had such fun with it!
The larger dominos are "tournament" size, and give you a good area to work on. You have to remove the metal stud which many have, but it flirts out easily enough with the point of a knife. Then you work on the flat area with alcohol inks - the first picture shows the effects I was getting (and yes I did forget to take the picture until I'd stamped one set!).

When the inks are dry - which takes very little time - you can stamp over them using Stazon ink pads. The tutorial gave a good tip to make a little "handle" for the domino with masking tape so that you could take the domino to the stamp rather than the other way around. The second picture shows the results - perhaps in future I would make the backgrounds a bit simpler, because the stamped designs don't show too well.

The 3rd picture shows the final stage in which (using a Krylon leafing pen) you gild the edges, coming right over onto the top side, and indeed onto the back as well. The dots will eventually be covered by a set of accordian style book pages, but we haven't done that bit yet! I've enjoyed this so much I now need to go out and buy some more dominos to play with .....

Saturday, 1 November 2008


This is the box file I altered for the Big Art Adventure - its an old foolscap file which was very tatty. I didn't bother with any preparation I just set to and painted it with acrylic, and then added a sealant coat of matte Mod Podge. Because the box is quite big, particularly lengthways, I couldn't get my scrapbook paper to go out to the edges without piecing, but I think the panels work pretty well. The paper is a sparkly one from the K & Co Smitten range.

I painted the grungeboard hinges, key and file tab with black metallic acrylic, and added a keyhole from my stash. You have to admit that the result is a thing of beauty and a joy forever even if I say so myself!! I've got another one somewhere which may well get similar treatment.