Dedicated

September 13, 2014

So, as mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been involved in an online art retreat the past few weeks sponsored by the Art Is…You folks. Been having so much fun learning and interacting with other participants and taking part in swaps and challenges.  It’s the next best thing to being there – and quite a bit less time-consuming and expensive, too!  :)

One of my favorite classes so far is by Lesley Venable; she shows how to make this very cool assemblage, called “Captured,” using two cigar boxes and a mint tin.

lesley captured

Isn’t it awesome? I was instantly inspired! My first task was to gather three containers that would nest well together. I started with a nice-sized cigar box from my collection.

ded cigar box

Unfortunately I didn’t have another cigar box small enough to fit inside it. I did have a Maya Road tin filled with chipboard crowns, however!

ded maya tin

And while I did have a mint tin, I didn’t like the way it looked inside the other tin. So instead I grabbed the cover off a little wooden box of alphabet stamps.

ded stamp box

The boxes fit well together. I initially tried it out this way, with the tin horizontal, but eventually decided it looked better placed vertically.

ded nesting boxes

My inspiration was this photograph of a pretty Victorian lady.  I just love the intensity of her gaze; she looks like a no-nonsense type who’s fiercely devoted to a cause. I decided she owned her own business, left to her when her husband died. Against all convention and advice, she was determined to run the business her own way and dedicated to making it work and honoring her late husband’s memory. Thus, I named my piece “Dedication.”

ded pretty gal

My lady has a hard nose for business, so I used reproduction antique ledger paper for the background in the cigar box. But she also has a softer, more feminine side, so I lined the inside of the tin with the top layer of a beautiful floral napkin. Lesley used excelsior to fill her outside box, but since I didn’t have anything similar, I decided to use rows of buttons on each side instead. I layered a variety of small decorative buttons onto large plain wood buttons stained with alcohol ink. I’ve had this particular pretty button for literally years and finally found a use for it!

dead lovely button

After much painting, staining, and gathering of metal enhancements, such as a large crown for the top, two filigree corner pieces and four Tim Holtz box feet, which I highlighted with white paint, my box finally started to come together. I made a stamped banner for the title, added some sanded brads and thought I was done. But then, looking at it later (you must never call a piece done until you’ve gone away for awhile and come back later!), I realized it needed some height on the top. I dug through my “accouterments” drawer and found a plastic drawer pull, one of a set of four I’d found at a thrift store a few years ago. Plastic = tacky, but it had a good shape.

ded ugly drawer pull

A coat of chocolate brown paint, some highlighting with walnut Distress stain, and it was perfect for the top of the assemblage.

dead painted pull

One of the products we retreat attendees received in our “treasure box,” mailed to us ahead of time, is something called Apoxie Clay. This is a wonderful substance that can be used in a myriad of ways. Lesley showed us how to use it to attach certain hard-to-adhere items to her assemblage, and thank goodness I had some! The metal crown I used (found at Michael’s) is curved, and there weren’t many surfaces the tiny edges could grip onto because of the placement. Apoxie Clay was perfect to fill in the curved surface and adhere the crown to the boxes. There’s no way that baby’s coming off!

Anyway, here is “Dedication” in all its glory. It’s fairly different from Lesley’s version, but all the tricks and tips she shared came into play in one way or another.

ded full front

The tin was colored with alcohol inks, as were parts of the crown. Confession: I hadn’t planned to put buttons on the top, but I accidentally spilled some paint next to the drawer pull and made a mess trying to clean it up! So voila, a couple of buttons.

ded full top buttons

Shhh! If anyone asks, I meant to put those there the entire time.

ded full angle

Thank you, Lesley, for an amazing and fun class. I was so inspired, had a great time making this and can’t wait to see where the Reality Retreat takes us next!

Spooky Time

September 7, 2014

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been enjoying the very first online art retreat sponsored by the Art Is…You folks. I had been reading about their retreats for a few years now and always wanted to attend one, but they’ve just been a little too far away. Now there’s an online retreat, and it’s been really fun! We’re learning via video, chatting in a forum and taking part in challenges and swaps. One of the best parts was a box that arrived ahead of time filled with all manner of artsy goodies!

The swap is for Halloween or fall themed tags. We were sent tags in our box to use, if we wished, but were also allowed to use larger ones for the swap. I decided on the larger size and made two sets of three. They’re all similar, design-wise, but I used different images and color combinations for each.

owl tag 1

The background was made by covering the tag with either Spiced Marmalade or Dried Marigold Distress ink, then splashing with water droplets to create a mottled effect. I used an “ink blot” stamp and black Memories ink to create a nice overall texture.

owl tag 2

The images are mounted on corrugated cardboard from which I tore the top layer, then painted either purple with forest green highlights, or forest green with purple highlights.

owl tag 3

The black with white swirls layer is washi tape, and below I’ve added black Dresden which I covered with Versamark ink and then dusted with either Interference Blue or Interference Purple Pearl-Ex powder. The effect, which is difficult to see in a photo, is a soft metallic glow.

owl tag 4

Amazingly, I did not use Stickles on these, given that I use Stickles at the slightest opportunity, but I made up for it by die-cutting the letters from glitter cardstock using a Tim Holtz alphabet die. Seam binding ribbon and a couple of steel grey eyelets in the top corners were the finishing touch. These were so much fun to make and I’m excited to see the spooky creations I receive in return!

CC#3 Challenge 10: Is it TIME for Winter Yet?

September 4, 2014

At Linda Ledbetter’s fun and welcoming blog, we’ve been working our way through Tim Holtz’s Compendium of Curiosities 3, and her talented Curiosity Crew always makes a wonderful variety of projects to inspire. Check it out – and don’t forget to check out the great discount at this challenge’s sponsor, The Funky Junky Boutique!

Here in Florida, the heat of summer can get a bit…well, tedious. Fall is on the way, but it will be at least two more months before we can expect temperatures even approaching what you’d call “chilly.” So when it was announced over at Linda’s that it’s TIME to create with an assemblage clock, I was very much inspired by those who did a Christmas theme. It may have been well over ten years since I’ve seen snow, but the thought of cooler weather is quite refreshing right now!

I decided to go with “shabby chic” style and colors for my clock, and also decided to do a general winter theme, so it could be left out before and after the holidays. I wanted a pretty woodland setting, so the first thing I did was cut the silhouette of a deer from cardstock, paint it white and then load it up with Stickles. Because Stickles! Also, shabby chic means pink, aqua, minty green. Since I was doing the outside of the clock in the pale aqua (to make it look icy) and the little trees were green, the deer just HAD to be pink!  (HAD TO.)

winter clock closeup

I spray-dyed the bottle-brush trees, flicked white paint on them to resemble snow, and set them on a bed of white Styrofoam packing peanuts covered with texture paste and mica chips. The background is sheet music; I was fortunate to find a part that reads “saw the sky at night; sky of deepest night…” What could be more perfect for the sky in the background? I colored some snowflake buttons with alcohol ink and mounted them on foam dots and the inside was done.

The outside took a very long time to create, but I am so happy with the result. Started with a coat of gesso, then the pale aqua paint (a color called “Parrot Blue” mixed with white), then embossed it here and there with glitter embossing powder and dabbed with texture paste to resemble snow.

Added my usual embellishments: girly stuff like a flower, a cute little banner outlined with eucalyptus Stickles, grungeboard flourishes covered with silver Stickles, and my clock was finally done!

winter clock front

I thought about putting some “stuff” on the top, but I really like the frosty, snowy look and didn’t want to cover that up. This was definitely a challenge (I am not so good at the 3-dimensional stuff!) and it took two days to get it all done, but I am so glad for these challenges that make us think outside our 2-dimensional boxes!

winter clock angle

CC3 Challenge #9

August 29, 2014

Hard to believe we’re already on Challenge #9 in lovely Linda Ledbetter’s Compendium of Curiosities 3 challenge! This time we are to use Tim Holtz Framelits (a stamp and matching die set) in our creations as we turn to page 63 of A Compendium of Curiosities Vol. 3. You can play along too! Head on over to the Studio L3 blog and join in the fun anytime. The Inspiration Emporium is sponsoring this challenge and you could win $50 to spend at the store! (If you just can’t wait to shop, check out the blog for a great discount.)

Admittedly I had some trouble this time; I love the butterfly stamps, but for some reason I couldn’t get a good image to come out. I tried Distress ink, permanent ink, pigment ink with embossing, you name it – but it was not my day for a good stamping! I did have the best luck with permanent ink, but it didn’t look that great on the papers I tried. Then inspiration struck. Butterflies are transparent, right? Why not stamp on a transparency?

Voila! Finally I achieved the look I was trying for. I turned the transparency over and colored the back side with Ranger alcohol inks. (Do not try to color permanent ink with alcohol inks, or a giant slushy mess will result! Don’t ask me how I know this.) Problem was, mounting them on a surface took away the beauty of the transparent look. What to do, what to do? Then it struck me.

About a week ago, Amazon’s “Gold Box Deal of the Day” was a heat laminator. Regular price $80; gold box deal price – an astonishing $18 – delivered!!!  Absolutely no way I could pass that up. I’ve been a laminating fool ever since it arrived, and having so much fun making book covers, magnets, bookmarks, etc. It occurred to me that laminating would make my butterflies strong enough to work as jewelry components; then they could dangle in the air and the transparent effect would be preserved.

Now I am not a jewelry maker by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have some beading wire and random beads lying around. I decided on earrings, as the butterflies were the perfect size. A run through the laminator and then another through my Sizzix Big Shot with the framelits die, and they were ready to go!

butterfly earrings 3

 Not too bad for my first try at earrings! I didn’t have any ear wires as I don’t have pierced ears myself, so I had to run to the store and pick those up. Since I couldn’t show these on a “real” ear, I made a little display for them out of cardstock covered with crumpled tissue paper and then outlined with silver Stickles. Because Stickles always have to show up somewhere in my creations!

butterfly earrings 1

Now all I have to do is decide who to give these to.  I’m the only one of my friends who doesn’t have pierced ears!

butterfly earrings 2

CC3 Challenge #8

August 11, 2014

We’re having so much fun over at Linda Ledbetter’s taking part in the Tim Holtz Compendium of Curiosities 3 challenges! This time we’re doing a technique called Faded Layers, which involves alcohol ink, a stencil and a willingness to be patient while the technique works its magic!

This challenge’s sponsor is the Funky Junkie Boutique.  Want a nice discount? Visit the challenge page, adore all the eye candy, and consider joining us; we are having a blast.

The Faded Layers technique, because it is made with alcohol ink, results in bright, fun colors.  These colors made me think of celebrations, and as our newest kitten, Junipurrr, is one year old this month, I thought it would be fun to have a party for her! First thing was to make a cute little banner using one of Tim’s alphabet dies and pink glitter paper. The edges are outlined with Stickles.

party banner

See those pretty, colorful circles?  Those are the Faded Layers technique, made with Tim’s Burlap stencil and several different alcohol inks.

I added a burst of color elsewhere by cutting glitter paper with Tim’s rosette die and topping it with an inked paper flower.  And, of course, Stickles.

rosette

What’s a party without dancing?  This cute ballerina started out wearing white, but that’s way too boring for this shindig!  I colored her skirt with a purple Slick Writer and a silver paint pen.

ballerina

So what is this all adding up to? Only the cutest, most festive party hat ever!

hat sideThe hat is rolled-up cardstock, which I painted metallic silver, then added lots of circles punched from the Faded Layers paper, washi tape, lace, felt flower trim, patterned paper, rhinestones and yarn. Also, did I mention Stickles?

Happy birthday to Junipurrr, and to all the August-born Tim Holtz fans!

hat front

Steampunk Angel

August 7, 2014

Remember this gal?

treetop angel

 

She’s a treetop angel I found at one of my favorite local thrift stores during a Christmas in July sale last month. At the time I took this photo, she was all frills and lace and yards of gold plastic beading and faux pearl trims. She was forced to watch as I altered an angel ornament bought at the same time, and then it was her turn.

First thing I did was rip off the aforementioned plastic trims and the padded satin wings. The trims went into the trash; the wings got painted black and then I covered them with faux rusted copper that I made using Tim Holtz’s “Painted Industrial” technique. I also used the faux copper to create a cover for the bodice and little pillbox hat. I had originally made a cool top hat, but it just didn’t look quite right on her.

The worst part was the incredible amount of hot glue that had originally been used to put this doll together. I was able to peel off some of it, but most had to be melted off with my heat gun; a fairly messy job. It was all over her hands and head and it took some time to get it all off.

The most fun was making her a pair of goggles from duct tape, electrical tape, jump rings and a piece of clear plastic packaging dyed with Butterscotch alcohol ink.

sp angel 5

The faux pearl trims were replaced with metal brads shaped like gears, and I added a metal piece to the bodice that I’d “aged” with permanent black ink and some dabs of Distress Stickles. Mixing Vintage Photo Distress Ink with water made a nice dye for the lace trim around her neck and the edge of her sleeves. I also dyed the satin underskirt with the ink mixture by painting it on. It took three coats to achieve the color I wanted.

The lower skirt is enhanced with gears made of black cardstock and metal tape using a Tim Holtz die cut, then painted to mimic copper. Here she is from the back; I painted her wings black and added Pearl-Ex Interference Gold highlights.

 

sp angel 2

 

The “peace” banner is made with grungeboard painted to look like leather and stamped letters on cardstock. She is ready for her Steampunk Christmas tree debut!

sp angel 1

sp angel 3

Next up on the list to alter: a heart-shaped bottle I found at the thrift store a few days ago. I’ve been wanting to alter a bottle for some time and this one is a great size and shape. When I bought the bottle, it was filled with clear glass pebbles, faux “weeds” and leaves and what I thought was water, all in shades of purple. When I went to empty the bottle, I discovered the “water” was actually a watery oil. So, so disgusting. I emptied the contents onto a paper plate and it left a yucky, oily stain behind.

bottle contents

The bottle itself is great. It’s about 12″ tall and has a nice heft to it. I just have to soak out some of the little bits of weedy stuff that are still sticking to the bottom and then she’ll be ready to decorate. I am so into altering things lately rather than making them from scratch. Who knows what I’ll find next!

glass bottle empty

CCC3, Challenge #7

July 24, 2014

Another two weeks has flown by and we’re on challenge #7 over at lovely Linda Ledbetter’s! We are making our way through Tim Holtz’s third Compendium of Curiosities book and having a wonderful time.  Join us, won’t you? There are prizes to be won and discounts to enjoy; this time the sponsor is Inspiration Emporium. Lots of fun goodies there and the discount makes it even more fun!

We have turned to page 46 in the Compendium and are learning the Painted Industrial technique. This lends itself so beautifully to Steampunk themes, and Steampunk was my initial plan. But as we all know, sometimes the best-laid plans go sideways during the process!

I started by making two pieces using Tim’s Painted Industrial technique, but added my own little twist. I decided that, rather than the cool tones of pewter or steel, I’d like to warm things up a bit.  So after the initial steps, I added a layer of Bronze Metallic Distress Paint and a few splatters of pale minty green acrylic paint to mimic copper with a rusty patina. I used one of Tim’s Texture Fades embossing folders to add some Victorian-style flair.

metal tape panel

The bottom piece was made with a different embossing folder; I don’t remember who makes that one. In any event, I didn’t end up using it in the final project, but it will be ready for another one. I just love this technique!

Instead of a tag this time, I decided to make a book, since that’s my favorite thing to do and I love practical items.  (Also, the tags were starting to take over every available space!) I had planned to hand-bind one from scratch, but while looking for something to use as book boards, I ran across a burlap-covered ring-bound journal I found a few weeks ago at Joann Fabrics. Burlap seemed like a great background for the metallic piece, and instantly I decided to switch from Steampunk to what I like to call “Boho Rustic.” (Is there such a thing? If not, there should be!)

I found a piece of corrugated cardboard I’d already peeled the top layer off of; it was just a matter of painting and trimming it to coordinate with my chosen image, a beautiful butterfly collage. The painted industrial panel became the perfect layer behind it, and after adding my usual girly embellishments (flowers and ribbon and lace, oh my!), it was just a matter of choosing fun papers for the inside of the book.  I distressed the edges of the book and added Walnut Stain Distress Ink to darken it up a little.

burlap bfly 1

 

The design team gals at Linda’s have really stepped up to this challenge and done amazing work! Even if you don’t join the challenges (and why wouldn’t you?), it’s worth a visit to the blog for the eye candy alone. Hope to see you there!

burlap bfly 2

Altered Angel

July 24, 2014

So I stopped in at one of my favorite thrift stores this past Monday and discovered there was an ongoing “Christmas in July” sale in which the discount increased at the beginning of each week.  I happened to show up on the first day every holiday item was 75% off and the selection was quite nice!

The first thing I picked up was this mixed-media angel ornament, which, after the discount, cost $1.00.  It was still in the original package, from a designer line at Department 56.  I didn’t recognize the artist’s name, but I thought the ornament itself had some nice lines, even if the colors and embellishments were a bit ho-hum.

angel before

I had no idea what I was going to do with this even as I started to alter it, but I knew for certain that crazy tinsel had to go!  I first cut the strands off the feet, which improved the look of it immediately, and then wrestled that star and tinsel “puff” out of its wire arms.

angel legs

 

Crazy tinsel feet!  Those had to go.

angel arms

And what is this mess?!  It was a nice surprise to find, under all that tinsel, the angel does have actual arms.

angel has arms

Next thing that had to go were the wings.  They were made of wire onto which double-sided tape had been attached and then dipped into micro-beads.  At first I tried to pull the tape and beads off in order to keep the wire structure, but it was such a gooey mess I finally just took a wire cutters to it.  Snip!  Gooey wings gone.

I had thought of putting some kind of image on the skirt, so I started looking through my (considerable) stash of images.  I happened to run across a baggie full of K&Company nature themed embellishments in aqua, purple and yellow, and one of them was a transparent pair of butterfly wings.  Perfect!  This decision set the color scheme.  I first painted the legs purple and decided the skirt should be aqua.  Glancing up, I noticed my big pile of colored tissue on a shelf above me.  One of the choices was aqua with tiny silver dot confetti.  Festive!  I tore the tissue into small pieces to decoupage onto the skirt.  It took about five layers to cover the “peace” words sufficiently, but it was a matter of less than ten minutes as the skirt is only three inches wide.

angel tissue wings

As I waited for that to dry, I kept searching through my images, but nothing really stood out.  Then I thought, what if I just put a big flower on her skirt instead?  I pulled out my silk flower drawer (which is getting dangerously full) and tried a few different combinations until I decided on yellow with an aqua layer, and a tiny metal lavender flower as the center.  I had a package of six metal flowers, and decided they would also be cute on her little shoes.  (I had to cover a little hole on each shoe where the tinsel had been glued in.)  To provide some contrast, I tied black and white ribbons onto some of the beads at the bottom of her skirt.

She still didn’t feel quite “done,” and looking at her outstretched arms, I thought she’d do well to be holding a banner.  I wanted the banner to match the metal flowers, but didn’t have quite the right color cardstock.  How to lighten up cardstock that’s too dark?  By rubbing white paint on it with your finger, of course!  (Because I was feeling too lazy to get up and go wash a paintbrush!)

angel paint

I tied some black cording to her wire hands, added stamped triangles for the pennants, and outlined part of her wings in black glitter glue to tie in the colors of the ribbon and cord.  (Rule of three!)  And voila; Christmas angel becomes summertime fairy!

fairy done

 

But wait, there’s more!  Because the Christmas in July sale yielded more than one future alteration project.  How could I resist this treetop angel for a mere $2.50?

treetop angel

She’s about 12″ tall and in absolutely wonderful condition.  Maybe she has a glimmer of what’s in store for her; she does look slightly alarmed.  But I think she’ll be okay with her new look once I’ve performed some Steampunk magic!  ;)

CC3 Challenge 6

July 10, 2014

Where does the time go? Seems like we just started the Compendium of Curiosities Challenge over at Linda Ledbetter’s and here we are on week 12 already! This time we’re turning to page 37 and altering one of Tim Holtz’s cool new burlap panels.  Burlap is super hot right now, and I’ve been intrigued by its possibilities for quite a little while.  Although I do have to repress memories of being in a play when I was a child and being forced to wear a costume made of burlap!  Not the most easy to wear (or the most flattering!), but wonderful for vintage, shabby chic art.

I had shabby and chic in mind when I picked out this pretty image of two little girls.  I think they must be sisters, so that is the title of my burlap collage.

burlap closeup

Yes, they are wearing crowns!  I have a love affair with crowns, and I think they added just the right touch to this sweet pastel portrait.  They are punched from washi tape on cardstock with a Martha Stewart punch.  I altered the crowns slightly to fit the girls’ heads; they are normally larger and have more points.

I started by adhering a torn piece of Tim’s tissue wrap (sheet music pattern) and a couple scraps of patterned tissue.  The edges of the burlap panel were colored with Broken China Distress Ink and a white charcoal pencil.

burlap panel

After picking the main image, it was just a matter of adding my usual girly embellishments!  A sweet layered flower (made with parts from different silk flowers pulled apart), a bit of lace lightly colored with Broken China Distress Ink, a thin ribbon of Worn Lipstick Distress Stickles and a bow tied from twine to mimic the roughness and color of the burlap background.  Final touches were a couple strips of clock-themed washi tape and a length of silky ribbon as a hanger.

We are happily making our way through Tim Holtz’s Compendium of Curiosities, Volume 3, and it’s been quite a fun adventure so far!  Want to join us?  You’ll get chances to win amazing prizes and discounts at the sponsor stores; this time around it’s the Funky Junky Boutique.  It’s also really fun to see how different artists interpret each challenge.  So what are you waiting for?

CC3 Challenge 5

June 27, 2014

The Compendium of Curiosities challenge over at Linda Ledbetter’s continues!  (We will be doing this for a very long time.)  This time we’re turning to page 39 and learning to watercolor with Distress Markers.  How fun is that?  I can answer that right now: TONS of fun.  Tons of it.

I thought it would be fun to use the technique on one small part of the overall composition, so that it would really stand out against mostly neutral other colors.

watercolor tag closeup

I like the way the wing turned out, but decided to make it even more interesting by adding a thick layer of Rock Candy crackle paint.  Not only does it make the wing look more organic, but it made the paper more flexible so I could shape the wing and pop it off the tag with some foam dots.

Now can’t you just imagine this pretty lady at about 3″ tall, flitting about in the summer flowers?

watercolor tag

The challenge sponsor this time is Inspiration Emporium, and a visit to Linda’s blog (linked above) will garner you a 10% discount!  Go crazy, go shopping, join the challenges and win prizes!  Doesn’t get much more fun than that.


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