Sunday, May 27, 2012

bjp 0512 - a little bit of sunshine

With the fabulous weather we've been having, I decided that my May bead journal should be painted with the colour of the sun.  May is for bountiful blooms, the promise of lazy summer days, sipping cool drinks and basking in golden rays!!  It also helps that I still had the yellow beads out from my earlier brooch making projects.  Why waste a perfectly good, messy work area?

My five was snatched from an old computer keyboard and then distressed with Baroque Art, Guilders Paste in German Silver (which really looks like an antique gold).  I'm sure that there are many suppliers, but I found mine at Bead Fx in Toronto. Like a true technique addict, I spotted the product on their website and decided that I needed some for my stash!  Now I have five or six colours and will probably, eventually, end up with the entire line.  It's waxy, like shoe polish, easy to apply and a little goes a long way!  It's meant for antiquing all sorts of things (including wood), so I'll be playing with it more in the future!  I wound sock yarn around the base of the key, to fill in the empty space, as it really wasn't suitable for bezelling with peyote (the wide key was on top of a fairly narrow base).  I love the look of the soft yarn against the black key and the hard beaded textures!

Did you spot the dragonfly?

Components in this section include buttons and a bronze buckle from the family button box, an old clasp and metal beads from a deconstructed necklace.  The star was a fairly recent purchase, but I thought it added to the effect! 

I used a smaller vintage button this time and to my surprise, it seems to be a horseshoe! I'm not exactly sure about the significance, but it has some sparkly bits, other carved sections at the top, down the centre and on both sides.  My eyes are not good enough to figure out what they are, but it's an interesting piece.  Perhaps it's telling me to buy a lottery ticket before the month is over!!!

The small shell button at the top is a fairly new purchase, but I think that it fits the theme quite well.  It reminds me of a wee window, sitting prettily at the top of the house.  I wonder who peeks out from behind that window?  Any thoughts?

The finished piece in all it's sunny glory!!!    The belt buckle reminds me of a garden gate and the dragonfly is flitting here and there, looking for the perfect place to land.  Do dragonflies land, or do they just flit about endlessly?  Perhaps I should have included some running water, to add to the ambiance!!  No, you say? It would be too hard to control, you say?  I say, never say never!!!  Water coming up in some future piece.....  I think.........or should I say I promise?

Odds and sods of beads, attached with back, stacked, wildflower and boucle/bocce stitches.  The cool little wildflower stitch can be found in Robin Atkins "Hearts to Hands Bead Embroidery" book. 

Now on to June.................

Monday, May 21, 2012

double swap

I've been swapping again on the Cloth Paper Studio, Yahoo Group (CPS).  A creative, sharing group with interesting swaps and just the right amount of chatter.  The focus is mixed media and they offer a varied range of interests (fabric, paper, beading, dollmaking, stamping, etc).  It suits my off-beat, eclectic nature, but don't let that stop you from joining.  There's something for everyone!

Four Fabric Flowers Swap - Original fantasy flower background, cotton batik, free motion quilted, heat distressed  organza (using a candle flame and not a heat gun). The flower centre is machine wrapped braid, coiled and then stitched by hand).  More details to follow:

Flower # 1 - this one is very calm and appealing!

Machine wrapped braid ------------tear three strips of narrow fabric (a little less than 1/2 inch). Tie them at the top and drop the feed dogs on your sewing machine. Twist the strips and place under the presser foot. Take a stitch and draw up the bottom thread. Set your machine to zigzag and then just stitch!!! I use one colour of rayon thread in the bottom and another colour on the top. Stitch backwards and forwards to get good thread coverage. When you get to the end, zigzag in place to finish the end. Without cutting the thread, zigzag backwards again until you return to the top and bump up against the knot. Zigzag in place again, then switch to straight stitch and take a few more stitches. Cut thread! I use a machine braiding foot for more control, but you can use any free motion embroidery or quilting foot. I haven't tried to do this with a darning foot, but have found that it works quite well with my large quilting foot. You'll need to experiment with the accessories that come with your machine. If you like the technique, then I suggest that you invest in a braiding foot. It's worth it!!
I started with the braid spiral, but thought that the flower was too plain, so I added a couple of layers of organza and then heat distressed. (Note: the melted organza is toxic, so protect your lungs by ONLY doing this in a well ventilated area with the proper ventilation mask (not a dust mask). Check out your local safety store and ask their advice!  I am not responsible for your lungs, you are!!!). I was a little happier, but thought that it still needed something, so I decided to add a quilted flower. The design was drawn on the dull side of freezer paper (FP), cut out and then ironed to the quilt sandwich (cotton batting sandwiched between two layers of cotton batik). I free motion (FM) stitched (dropped feed dogs) just outside the edges of the FP and then removed the paper. I then FM stitched the quilt design, cut just outside the stitched edge and assembled the flower with a tiny tacking stitch.

Flower #2 - this one is actually a yummy pink and orange, but you really don't see much of the pink in this photograph.

Flower # 3 - I originally thought the blue organza was too dark, but it grew on me! 

Flower # 4 - my sunny flower! 

The whole gang!  No particular flower in mind when I designed these, but for some reason they remind me of water lillies.  Am I crazy?

Lessons learned! 

  • Check your stash before going to the fabric store.
  • Don't buy the expensive organza in the drapery section.  It doesn't melt properly! Good for drapery sheers, but bad for mad fibre artists!
  • Test before you stitch!
BTW, you need synthetic organza, not silk!  The flowers are approximately 4" wide.


Playing By The Numbers Swap - torn masking tape background, acrylic paint, text on computer paper (torn,  FM stitched on watersoluble and then dissolved), collaged text, hand carved stamp, Stazon ink, straight stitching. 

The textured background was made by tearing small pieces of masking tape and attaching it to cardstock.  Painted with acrylic, left to dry and then rubbed with Stazon ink.  If I use this techniqe again, I'd probably use distress inks instead of the Stazon for a more muted effect.

Torn paper sandwiched between two layers of H20 Gone, watersoluble stabilizer.  FM stitched  and then dissolved in water.  Warning!  Not all printer inks are the same, some will wash away (dye based) but this technique works great with Epson DuraBrite pigment inks. I don't know about toner copies. 

The background for the stamp is just text, collaged onto cardstock and then painted with a watered down layer of gold acrylic.  The stamp was designed and then carved out of a dollar store eraser (the design needs to be transferred backwards) with Speedball Carving tools and stamped with Stazon ink.  The last time I carved a stamp was in high school!!!  Back then we used potatos and real lino flooring tiles.  From what I remember, the eraser was easier to carve, but the lino held the lines better.  The potato was just plain weird!! I think my stamping technique needs work!  The stamp kept slipping on the acrylic.  I should have attached it to some type of handle or block.

I was going for a graphic, grafitti or comic book type of look......did it work?

I decided to carry on the theme for the back.  I cut a styrofoam meat tray into ATC size (2 1/2" X 3 1/2"), used a pen and carved 7's backwards all around the edge.  I stamped with distress ink!  It's not a polished look, but interesting!  I will be doing more of this in the future.

Lessons learned:

  • my stash items need to be better organized.  Where is that nice, thick block of carving material I purchased several years ago?
  • practice makes perfect
  • Stazon ink smells nice
  • small stamps need a firm background to stabilize them
  • acrylic paint is a slippery stamping surface
  • a larger surface is better for fledgling carvers (the eraser was too small)
  • I want to do more of this, but next time with the proper carving material and a combination of the Speedball tools and an Exacto knife,

I really enjoyed these swaps!  I hope that you did as well

Saturday, May 19, 2012

swap results

I've been swapping again!!!  Isn't that naughty?  Instead of working on some serious art pieces, I've been playing with my internet friends.  Too bad, I say!!  Sometimes a girl just needs to have  fun!

My sunny cloth, is a lovely bead embroidered piece that I received from Dr. Amy over at the Cloth Paper Studio (CPS) Yahoo Group.  It was for their "Embellished Rock" swap!  No, we didn't swap rocks, but I do need to find a nice one  to wrap with this serene piece of sunshine.  Of course, it's particularly approprite for me, as I was born under the sun sign of Leo! Nothing serene about this cat though, but perhaps the piece will help to encourage a calmer outlook!

Now on to my paper swap!  Well, actually it appears to be a paper and fabric swap from Beth R. in South Africa.  Thanks again Beth, for an interesting array of items.  I'm not sure where they'll end up, but I assure you that they are a welcome addition to my stash!

The African fabrics are just lovely! I believe some, if not all of them are called Shweshwe fabric.  I'm sure that Beth (or my sparkly friend, Beth in Pretoria) will be able to tell us when she reads the post.


One of my favourite items is this ink and bleach piece that was made by one of Beth's students many years ago.  The writing on the back, indicates that it was made by Suiyen S., Gr. 9.  According to Beth, Suiyen is now married!!  It was apparently made by coating paper with ink (Quink ink, I believe) and then removing the ink with bleach (using a Q-tip or brush).  I'm not sure if we can get that type of ink over here, but I assure you that I will be looking for it.

I truly appreciate it when people send stamps!  I haven't done much with them lately, but the images on those little pieces of paper are amazing!

These paper swaps are fun and everyone is welcome.  Instructions for joining can be found at the Paper Swap blog.  It's the brainchild of LaWendula in Germany.

Thanks to both Beth and Dr. Amy for a couple of very successful swaps!

Stay tuned, because I have two more swaps in the wind!  I just mailed my "By The Numbers"  ATC's (Artist Trading Cards) and "Four Fabric Flowers" swaps.  I'll post after the swap hostesses have received them.

It's a statutory holiday up here in Canada, so I'm aiming for a very creative weekend. 

Happy arting everyone!

Friday, May 18, 2012

gifts from the garden

A few gifts from Marilyn and Rain's garden.  Above, a magnificient pink tree peony!  So elegant floating in my crystal bowl.

Next, a detail shot of a lovely white bleeding heart.

Elegant in a simple pottery vase!

A few sprigs of Lily of The Valley.......oh, so sweetly scented!!!!  It was my mother's favourite flower.  Okay she loved pink carnations as well, but who's telling?

The perfect flower for my Wedgewood vase. Don't you just love the simple black/white combination?  The vase was given to me by a friend for my 21st birthday.  Isn't it amazing that it's survived for oh so many years?

Please excuse the various dings in the medium grey backdrop.  I think it's time to go shopping!!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

turn back the calendar to 2011

I'm late, I'm late.......for Kaite's 2011 birthday!!!!  Okay, I was over-the-top busy last year, so as a reward for her patience, I wanted to give her a little something special.  A side result from my renewed beading interest this year, are these little brooches (there's another in my previous post).  I expect that I will be making more of them as the year progresses.  Hey!!  Perhaps I'll even make one for myself!!  I wonder what colour that will be?  This one is lemony and quite delicious! 

Buttons from the family button box, a few sequins and miscellaneous beads.  Stacked, back and boucle/bocce stitches.  The stick in the background is an honest to goodness, chewed by a beaver, stick!!!  Picked up at Skookum Lake in Northern Ontario (close to Sault Ste Marie) a couple of years ago.

You might not know this, but I have a weird and wonderful facination with handmade books.  No, I've never taken a lesson, but I've purchased books to teach myself a few techniques.  Some, of course, are far beyond my fledgling capabilities, but this one was fairly easy and fun to do.  I found the instructions for it in Making Handmade Books by Alisa Golden.  I've played with a few of the one-sheet-of-paper folded type books and am happy with the results.  I hope to do more of this in the future!

Back to this book!  It's heavy watercolour paper (I forget the weight).  I cut and folded the book first and then proceeded to paint and embellish.  I made it a while ago, so actually forget exactly what I did.  However, I will tell you that it included acrylic ink & paint, watercolour pencils & crayons, regular pencil crayons, distress ink, pearls, gesso, acrylic matte medium.  I also pasted in some of my citra solve paper and a folded origami envelope, made out of that same paper.  I distressed the edges and then finished it off with some of my machine wrapped braid, a leaf and a few beads.  A little obsessive, but all-in-all a satisfying exercise.

The final result in all it's fresh green colour!!!