Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Autumn Wreaths

A year ago, I took a mixed media class with Anna Debrowska, owner and creative mind of Finnabair. I've always loved "altered art" (or more commonly called "mixed media" today), and I've been plying my trade for years. My favorite thing is to find a discarded box or tin that seems to have no use and transform it into something pretty and awe-inspiring. Thanks to artists and companies, such as Finnabair, Prima Marketing, Tim Holtz, Dina Wakley, Ranger Inks and so many more, there are now infinite ideas and products to create masterful mixed media pieces.

I've been mostly self-taught, as are so many crafty artists that I know. We sit in our studios or spare room or niche in the basement and just get our fingers dirty as our heads spew out crazy ideas for sticking things together.

Finnabair's class introduced me to some new products, and I immediately set to making Christmas wreaths last year, using wooden wreaths. I still had a handful of these wreaths leftover and decided to make something autumnal this year.
A five-minute video tutorial of the Mixed Media Autumn Wreath is available to watch
Catching a 40-percent-off sale at Hobby Lobby, I snagged plastic pumpkins and acorns, glittery styrofoam balls, pretty pretend grasses and berries, and a cheap economy bag of potpourri with pinecones and things. While Finnabair usually covers project embellishments/pieces completely in gesso, I decided to leave some of the color of the original items, covering 30 to 50 percent of the decorations mentioned above in black gesso. After they dried, I used a stiff brush and DecoArt gold metallic paint and a technique called "dry brushing" to apply gold to all the highlight/high point areas of the decorations. Pictured are some before and after shots of the decorations.

The wooden wreaths were covered in cheap ole corrugated cardboard, which was torn into strips, exposing the corrugated ridges and leaving rough edges.
Pieces were glued to the wreath.
The wreath was then completely covered in black gesso.
After drying, I again used the dry brushing technique to apply gold acrylic paint.
On a later experiment, I also added in some burlap ribbon.

In order to hang the wreath, I added a wire to the top.

The next process is to apply the distressed decorations to the wreath. I used Prima Marketing's Art Basics Modeling Paste Opaque Matte for this.
The modeling paste dries white, so I added in black acrylic paint so that the dried paste blended into the black/gold distressed wreath. The thick consistency of the modeling paste allows you to stick pieces on top of each other, creating layers of decorations. Allow to dry overnight. You also can use another super strong and sturdy glue or product to adhere the decorations; just make sure the product dries clear.

I am making one more autumn wreath, this time adding in some altered leaves, which have been made from colored cardstock and the Sizzix/Tim Holtz Tattered leaves die and embossing folder.

I used the same process of covering 30 to 50 percent of the leaves with black gesso and then "dry brushing" gold acrylic paint onto the highlights of the leaf.

These autumn wreaths were so fun to make, and they have added something delightful to my fall decor.
A five-minute video tutorial of the Mixed Media Autumn Wreath is available to watch

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Love my birds!!

When the latest Stampin' Up catalog arrived in my lap, I did my usually salivating on every page, followed by lots of "oooohs" and "ahhhhhs". 

I am totally besotted with bird watching. Much to the dismay of my husband, I have several feeders going at the house. (He's not too keen with our battle to keep the acrobatic squirrels off the feeders.) When I saw the SU Best Birds stamp set with the Birds & Blooms Sizzix Thinlits, I was "flying" at the chance to order these items.

After this bundle arrived, I went onto and found a card I really liked by Deb Mauch. I used some Michelle Zindorf sponging tutorials to make the sun and sky. Very easy to do and incredibly rewarding results. 

I used photos of male and female Yellow-Rumped Warblers as samples for coloring the stamped bird images. Not sure if I succeeded, but there you go!  The branch and birds were cut out using the coordinating Thinlits. In addition to using the SU Best Birds stamp set, I used SU One Big Meaning for the 'thank you' sentiment. 

The card was made for our veterinarian's kennel manager, Lisa. She went above and beyond to give our 14-year-old dog, Sophie, lots of tender loving care in the kennels while we were in England attending our son's university graduation. 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Humming right along!

With their miniature size, vibrant colors and amazing speed, hummingbirds are fascinating to watch and are beloved by many bird aficionados. My mom always hung up containers of sugar water during summer hummer season in Texas. I have fond memories of watching them dart like little missiles, often picking territorial fights with encroaching competitors. Now that I live in Colorado, I'm lucky to have my own hummingbird visitors in the summer.

When Stampin' Up released a new stamp set, Picture Perfect, it was a required purchase for me since it features the most gorgeous polymer stamp rendition of a hummingbird, and it includes four separate pieces so that you can layer different ink colors.

If you want to see a video of how to stamp the layered hummingbirds, click here for an excellent one by Tami.

More inspiration for my card came from Tracy May, and you can see her subtle and lovely watercolor interpretation of Picture Perfect here.

Below is one of my finished cards and following are step-by-step instructions of what I did.

Here is how I created the card above, using the Stampin' Up Picture Perfect set:

1) Cut Whisper White cardstock to to your desired size. I cut mine to 3 3/4 by 5 1/8 inches.

2) Liberally spray Perfect Pearls Mist (or a similar iridescent/pearlescent spray) onto the cardstock.

3) Use the Tim Holtz spritzing tool to recreate an airbrush look. I used the SU Garden Green marker. This dark green should only be used as an accent on the right side of the card; don't over spray.

For more information on how to use Tim Holtz spritzing tool, click here. If you don't have this tool, you can use a wet toothbrush (dedicated for crafting) and a medium green ink or watercolor paint to flick color onto the cardstock.

4) Use a wet sponge to add watercolor paints to the right side of the cardstock. I used a basic kids' watercolor set and sprayed water onto the hard paints to soften them up and release the paint. If you want more sparkle, you can use Twinkling H20s. You want to start with light green, then sponge on a small amount of medium green. Finally, sponge on some pinks on the edges to give the illusion of watercolored florals.

5) If you want the image to be even more subtle, you can spray a little more of the Perfect Pearls Mist.

6) Allow these colored backgrounds to completely dry.

7) Use a small flower/daisy stamp and Rich Razzleberry ink to randomly add flowers to your watercolored background. Make sure the flowers are stamped within the pink part of your background. I inked and then stamped two flowers, so that the second flower was lighter than the first one.

8) Adhere the background cardstock to a slightly bigger piece of Rose Red cardstock. Optional: you now can emboss these newly adhered pieces. You may find that water can warp the cardstock a bit. Embossing can help to flatten the paper and to add interest. I used a Sizzix texture plate with embossed daisies (pictured at left below). It's an ever-so-subtle effect.

10) The polymer hummingbird stamps are numbered 1 through 4; stamp 1 should be inked with the lightest color and 4, the darkest. The ink colors that I used included Crumb Cake (Layer 1), Rose Red (Layer 2, the throat), Wild Wasabi (Layer 3), and Garden Green (Layer 4).

11) I picked a leafy paper from Stampin' Up's Designer Paper Series, Painted Blooms, to create my folded card. As it's double-sided paper, you'll need to either use a liner inside the card or wrap the designer paper around a pre-made white card. My folded card size was bigger than normal at 4 1/4 by 6 inches. You can reduce all the sizes to make a more standard 4 1/4 by 5 1/2 inch card.

12) I inked my sentiment stamps with Island Indigo and stamped onto Whisper White cardstock and layered with Island Indigo cardstock. Finish up with embellishments, such as a rhinestone for the hummer's eye, fabric bow, pearls and fabric flowers.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Penny Black's Hedgehog & Friends

In England, the adorable hedgehog is one of the most beloved of woodland creatures and has been immortalized in literature and art. When we were living in England, I fell under the spell of the hedgehog's cuteness, too. I didn't hesitate to purchase hedgehog paraphernalia, including three perfect Penny Black wood-mounted rubber stamps.

The images were stamped onto a glossy white cardstock using Memento Tuxedo Black ink and then were colored and shaded with Copic markers. As you can tell, I am a glitterbug and these cards called out for lots of glittery snow.

Penny Black's Royal Mail stamp is my favorite, and it features Hedgy and its friend the Robin, another iconic animal of British gardens.

We had many many robins in our back yard, but I never did see a hedgehog up close and personal. We had a family of foxes that made themselves at home in our garden (and under a shed!), but the hedgehogs were very shy.

Penny Black's Wishes for Kisses once again pairs Hedgy with his buddy the Robin.

And finally, Penny Black's Snowy and Hedgy make a handsome wintry couple.

I hope your cup is warm in your hands and your family is close to your heart this Christmas season.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

A Cup of Kind Cheer

As a card maker, my absolute favorite time of year to create cards is Christmas. I look for reasons to make even more cards, and I'm happy that we have a group of tea enthusiasts on Facebook who sponsor a Christmas card exchange each year.

I had whipped up about 6 different designs and 40 cards already, but I was still short on some to give to family, friends and my tea ladies. Then Julee Tilman, owner and illustrator of Verve Stamps, was incredibly sweet to offer a free digi stamp set of A Cup of Kindness. Oh my gosh, this was the perfect set to use for my tea friends, and I got cracking right away on this project.
I used Copic alcohol markers to color these "open" images, which lend themselves to highlights and shading. I followed Julee's sample on her Poetic Artistry Blog as inspiration, including using distress techniques, glitter, and her sentiment from the digi set.

My background snowflake was made with Stampin' Up!'s Festive Flurry Framelits and coordinating stamp set.

I think these Cup of Kindness cards are the favorites of my Christmas creations. I just love them. Thanks again, Julee!!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Artifact: A Workshop by Finnabair

I was incredibly lucky to have an opportunity to attend a seminar by mixed media artist, Anna Dabrowska, also known as Finnabair (pronounced Finavar). Artsy Stamps and Paper Crafts Studio in Loveland, Colorado, hosted Finnabair in early August. Four sold-out classes featured amazing projects, including The Artifact workshop, which I attended.

Finnabair has an extensive and exciting line of products distributed by Prima Marketing. I've created altered art for a while, and in the beginning, I had to be pretty versatile to source the right glues, textured pastes, glazes and sealers, glitters, pigments, paints, and other bits and pieces. Now all the ingredients I need for successful mixed media are available through Finnabair's art line. I have no affiliation with Finnabair; I'm just very impressed with her products, and I can't help but being excited about them!

Just to give you an idea, The Artifact piece utilized:

Modeling Paste for adhering and molding elements to the canvas
White Sand Texture Paste for creating texture with a stencil
Graphite Texture Paste for additional texture
Black Heavy Gesso for covering the entire art piece
Soft Gloss Gel with Mica Powder for creating dry-brushed highlights

It's hard to believe that The Artifact began with a blank white canvas. Once we threw on a bunch of embellishments and slathered it all in black gesso and mica highlights, this is what emerged. I love altered art!!! Thanks Finnabair for the inspiration!!!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Time Flies

There is something alluring about the Steampunk style, which marries the industrial age and a genre of science fiction. My apologies to avid followers of Steampunk for oversimplifying. When I was asked to teach a recent class, I wanted to use Sizzix Angel Wings die. But what else could I bring to the table besides the wings? Perhaps a vintage lady image and some clocks and gears! Marrying them all together screamed Steampunk, and thus I designed these Time Flies cards.

Items used: 
Sizzix Angel Wings Die
Sizzix embossing folder (used on the angel wings cut outs)
Clock & Gears, an Elizabeth Craft Designs Die
Magenta Rubber Stamp (vintage lady's face)
Stampin' Up! Stamps (sentiments)
Stampin' Up! designer paper and card stock
Die Cuts with a View luster cardstock
Bobunny brads
Alcohol markers (to color face)