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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Dolls and more dolls !

Hi Everyone
Another lovely day today, clear blue sky's but very cold and 'frosty'.

Today, I need to finish my big tag job - just a few words needed. I was pondering how to finish the tags with a few sentiments. I wanted an inspiration moment ! Then ....... browsing my usual blogs this morning, I came across this idea

ie the paper 'ribbon'. This little image came from Crescendoh. This site is fantastic and often uses the 'ribbon' image for labelling items on the blog. It's like a little magazine every day with new ideas for creating. Take a regular look if you ever need instant inspiration. I will post a few photos of my finished tags when I get there.

A second snippet from Crescendo is this cute peg doll idea with a project.

and a second more sophisticated take on the peg doll.

The wedding couple are fantastic, they come from another detailed project on crescendoh too check it out here
These lovely projects seem to tie in with my current run of 'doll' making dreams. Little blanks are available from (called Peg People) but not in Amazon UK. I have some actual pegs which would adapt for the job. Maybe ? It's not top of my list but a cute idea, especially for kids (some kids) - my boys (too old) would think I'd completely 'lost the plot' if I suggested such a project ! It would almost be worthwhile to put a kit together and give it to them as a gift and watch the reaction ! Perhaps, not !!

I can, however,see Miss Mitchell ending up a peg doll in the wedding couple style. Here is Miss Mitchell - just in case you are not familiar with her. Her entire shape is ideal for the peg doll. I'm being more and more convinced as I write. She would be great as a peg doll.

While writing this, I was reminded that (as a child, myself) I had very few dolls and almost no interest in them. It seems strange how things have turned out. I was never sure about playing with dolls, why would I play with a doll ? This is an odd thought which is buried somewhere in my mind. Strangely, I do think it relatively often. I remember having three dolls (ever). Maybe there was more but I don't think so. These dolls would sit in my room and remain 'unplayed with'. I now love dolls and am drawn to dolls whenever I come across them. The idea of a doll (for me now) is to create it (pretty or not) and have it to look at in a painting rather than an actual 3D item. Perhaps, that's what dolls have always been (for me) ie to just look at ? I must look into the subject of 'dolls' it does have a strange and important fascination for me.
On that note.

Bye for today

PS - it's a it too early for my new evening blogging time (9.25am) but rules are there to be broken !

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Lavender bags and dolls to make.

Hi Everyone
It's been a lovely sunny day today, it could almost be Spring !
I've spent lots of time on my gift tag project again today, Ive almost finished the job but not quite. Here is a quick peak at one of the production phases - little bags of lavender. They look a bit like tea bags !

Another hour or so should do it.
I will get some photos of the final item to share.

I've also seen some great fabric today. Here it is.

I love this kind of thing. It's from This shop. I would like a dress in this pattern.

There is another new book on my radar too. I think it may find itself coming my way tomorrow. I need to get a real example range of dolls based on my paintings. This book could help me get there !

I think that's probably all my news today.
Bye for now.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Mini bags and making dolls and crochet buttons !

Hi Everyone
It's about 6.30pm (UK time) and Im not late ! - it's a deliberate act to write my blog at this time. It's a bit of an new experiment for a few weeks. I've decided it could be more useful to share things which I have done in a given day rather than my plan 'to do' - often not 'done' !!! We will see how it goes.
The exception will be 'Die Cut Friday'. Readers have told me they enjoy this slot and like to see the morning project to try out on Fridays, so I will keep that session as before.
Today, Ive spent lots of time making special gift tags for a large order. I'm 'up cycling' stuff to cut down costs as the order is for a charity event. I've designed a mini folded card with an insert mini bag of lavender and bath grains with a simple die cut flower on the front. The tags need some raffia ties and take lots of time to create. With more time to consider the job, I think I could have been more efficient with the design but eventually I just went with an early version (always fatal !) I will share the project as this weeks 'Die Cut Friday'. It would be useful as a Mothers Day extra.
I've also seen this great crochet item. I'm missing doing my crochet stuff and need to get back on track. I thought these buttons would be a fresh start. The project is Here it's from Crescendoh (one of my favourite places to go, almost every day.

I would like to use these buttons in one of my future paintings.
I've also seen a great book. Yet another obsession of mine is to make the dolls from my paintings. I think this book would help.

That's about it for now.
Bye for today.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Better late than never !

Hi Everyone
back to work day today - however, I'm very late !!!! It's been a little cold but dry here. I've been so busy prepping a number of projects that my day has gone (almost).

I had a lovely rest last week not sure I can remember too much about what I did but it was good while it lasted.

Somehow today,I've eventually managed to change over some pictures in my house - a job that Ive had on my list for about 6 weeks ! I've made a new list for my shop stock and am aiming to get some Art Cards in there. I'm also hoping to get the Jan and Feb paintings up to date. The Jan ( Just Walking) is 'up' for general review.

I especially like the old wooden frame with the painting. There will be more work on it but I like the basic idea and will keep looking and reviewing. I have a little silver butterfly to add.

I will also place a green (I think) little gem in the centre. Not sure where to place the butterfly. I'm also making a beaded 'butterfly type' insect - under construction as we speak. Again, I'm not sure exactly where it will be positioned.
Mary Haversham has not made very much progress although I do have the audience in place ( to be attached ASAP).

My last offer today is this great idea.
See herefrom one of my favourite blogs

Bye for today.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Holiday Snippets

Hi Everyone
Just a quick call today - it's half term (school hols) and I usually take a work break myself. The weather is lovely outside but very, very cold ! Bright sunshine and clear blue sky's.

Some great news this week - I was so excited to see my Valentine Art Card in this weeks Gathering Magazine by Mollie Makes. It's going to be displayed on my wall today but it does give a thrill to see my stuff in magazines.

Om other news, I'm struggling to finish my bracelet - ie the paper bracelet I started last last week. I've done the individual beads and sealed them with
Diamond Glaze. My next step is to put them together and decide on the stringing material ? Here is a quick look.

I started using a toothpick to roll the beads and then moved onto a small quilling tool (the green handled item in the photo). However, the rolling action of the paper was not perfect as the quilling tool gap was too small, so Richard made a new one with a darning needle and a bit of wooden dowel. The wooden handle is crying out for decoration so I will paint it. I love home made tools, thank you R x

There are 20 beads in all - I'm hoping this is enough to get the correct bracelet length. I will do a tutorial when Im finished the bracelet to share my project.

Must go.
Bye for today.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Creating your gift wrap and a few paper beads.

Hi Everyone
A lovely sunny sky this morning, the sun is intense and very bright. It's not brilliant for taking photos but I'm not complaining ! Lets hope it sticks around for a few days.

Today, it another Die Cut Friday Project. As promised, I'm focusing on making gift wrap. I was going to do this for my Valentine wrap yesterday but ran out of time. I thought I should take the opportunity today, to 'play' a little with my idea and show how versatile die cutting can be. I'm making some gift wrap for a close friend. It's not a specific event, just a gift for a friend. However, with Mother Day coming soon, the idea could lend itself to that event or could be customised in any way for a birthday for example.
In my project, I wanted to use a die to help create some customised gift wrap paper with a gift tag that would compliment the paper. Here are the results of my very short session.

I've taken two Tim Holtz butterfly dies and made a couple of stamps by die cutting foam and sticking them to an acrylic block. If you use print stick for sticking the foam to the block, its an easy option to clean the block afterwards and sticks the foam immediately. This means you only need the one block. I may create a wooden base for the stamp if it works out well ?

I've also used a Paperartsy dragonfly die to produce a third stamp. This is a very thin die so Ive used the Sizzix platform (look back to my die cutting information blogs if you are not familiar with die cutting) as you see in the picture.

Paperartsy also sell stamps which exactly fit the dies Ive used to form flowers (eventually these will be tags). I used these stamps to decorate my die cuts.

This Grunge Flowers die (seen in the photo) is marketed as a die to use with thin metal sheets and procures a fabulous 3D flower as seen in the picture. This is another Friday Project but the die is also useful for my project today, using paper and card.

You can see the results of my simple stamps on foam. I've used 3 shades of ink (see the photo for details) - I mixed and matched with no particular reason, just playing. I do think this size and shape of the stamps lends themselves to a gradual 'shaded' finish with the ink. I like the shaded image for the butterfly wings ie being delicate and almost 'see through'. Lots of 'playing' is needed with each project to determine just the right inking approach. Experience will produce great results.

I've cut out more die cuts in complimentary papers, testing what works. I will develop more examples to match my samples and ultimately develop a collection of stamps and tags. I will make all the elements on the whiteboard into a collection of tags - I will share when they are ready. I would call this activity a development session for the prototype which will eventually (in my case) be available for sale ( I will flag up when we are ready to launch). If you are doing this for fun, I still think you need to experiment and produce a batch of stock for yourself. When more personalised items are needed you can always add extra embellishments eg names, dates etc. Having a good general design which works for you is great for starting a new 'design direction', some of my best ideas come from using limited materials and starting with something which Ive already made (and usually left over from another project). I rarely throw anything away !!!!

The penultimate photo shows my home made dragonfly stamp with the manufactured stamp layer on top and cut out with the die. I have offset the stamp to allow for some glitter treatment to the edge. You may notice a line at the bottom of the stamp. This is a 'dent' in the foam. I need to do another. This shows how easily you can develop definition within your foam. My nail made this dent (by mistake). This mistake gave me an idea to improve the stamp with a pattern on the wings and possibly defining the body. I will do this and see what happens. I will report my results, good or bad.

I have stamped my wrap paper (a pretty blue plain, pearlised paper) with only one of my butterfly stamps, gradually lightening the ink around the paper. I often think 'less is more' so tend not to overdo decorations. I thought adding all the stamp shapes would make the paper too 'busy'.

I think I will add some 'flying' cut outs when my present is wrapped. I feel this will allow strategic positioning and help make the wrapping easier. When complete I will share the finished item before its delivered. I also want to show how different tags can be produced with the elements in this project.
Hope you liked the idea.

My other little item today follows on from the paper bead idea I had yesterday. I tried out the 'stripey' decoration plan (as discussed yesterday). I only managed 3 beads. I like the result so far. The beads are not varnished and I may try a smaller version today. Will keep you updated with my progress - I'm going to make a bracelet.

Well, that's it for today. Have a great weekend.

Bye for today.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Making Valentine Tags (quickly)

Hi Everyone
It's a lovely sunny day and lots warmer than the 'winter day' we experienced yesterday.

Happy Valentine to all - I have a 'quick make wrapping idea' from my own valentine wrapping task to share. I had wanted to make a stamp and decorate some plain wrapping paper to create a unique hand printed wrap. However, as per usual my production time ran out and I needed a Plan B. This is what I did in pictures.
I needed a tag as well as the wrap paper. I also needed an envelope for my card. You may remember me making the Art Card last week, here it is (now received and on display.)

I started making a tag with a die cut - this one is Sizzix Tipsy Hearts thick cut (3 sizes of the same shaped heart). I cut these hearts from cream coloured mount board. I especially like the thickness of the die cut.

I also cut 3 Tipsy Hearts using the wrap paper (at the same time). If I want to cover the mount board with a patterned paper, I always cut the papers at the same time for precision.

The large heart was covered with the wrap and I placed a smaller heart on top, giving a layered look. The Art Card was wrapped in the same wrap patterned tissue. I folded the tissue to mimic an actual envelope ( ie the folds look like a standard card envelope). One of the hearts found its way on the front of the mock enveloped as a label and another made a seal for the back of the tissue envelope (glued down).

I edged the hearts to define them (I do lots of this inking on most of my projects) in a ginger coloured chalky ink.

I also wrapped a book (my valentine gift) and finished it off with some green raffia. I punched a hole in the heart and tied onto the raffia to form my tag.

Generally, I was quite pleased with the outcome and so was my Valentine ! I will complete my original plan A to share tomorrow as this weeks Die Cut Friday.

I spent a little time yesterday (hence running out of time for the valentine wrap project) watching a YouTube paper bead video. I've made paper beads lots of times with some success but.... I'm never that taken with the end jewellery produced. However, this particular video shows how to decorate paper beads to form a striped paper bead. I think they look great and am going to give it a go. If you have time take a look at YouTube and search for paper beads by 'Beyond Bracelets'. This is not a brilliant photo (its a screen shot from the video) but it gives the idea. I will use different colours when I give it a go but the idea looks great.

Must go, by for now.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Crystal Clay and New York Fashion Week

Hi Everyone
It's snowing again ! - earlier this morning I was greeted by the most amazing red sky. It's very grey now, the word 'wintery' comes to mind.

I was so busy yesterday with general 'life' - Im struggling to report what I achieved in MY art world. I did some thinking but not much action to report. My plan today is to get Mary's bag into production, Ive done a little research and come up with some ideas for a belt too. New York fashion week has given me some pointers. There is a big 'boxy' look going on. Names like Marcus Wainwright and David Neville have the general trend that Mary exudes. This outfit would suit Mary.

I also like Victoria Beckham's new line at New York Fashion Week. I've particularly enjoyed looking at her catwalk video. This is my favourite

I also love this bag and the top

I hope to use these images to inspire my next painting.

Other research has been involved with finding out about the crystal clay I mentioned yesterday. I've watched a video Watch here - it seems very quick and straightforward !!!! I will report when Im done !

My last task for today is to make some gift wrap for a Valentine gift. I've done my card and will make a tag. I also want to make a stamp to develop the wrap - not sure how I will go with this, again will report my developments.

Bye for today.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Self Pioneering !

Hi Everyone
A rather 'dull' day today but dry. Not sure if its colder but snow I'd forecast !! Lets hope it doesn't get here. I've had enough snow for this season.

This morning Ive been involved with volunteer work at one of our schools.A team of Mums made lots of cupcakes and have dressed them up for sale at a Valentine Disco this evening.I will get a few photos later to share.

I've also been busy with work meetings etc. time is running out for creative stuff. However, I've done a little more with Mary. Her flowers are gone and Ive sketched her bag. I'm not sure where to go exactly with the bag construction - I need to do a few examples and develop other skills. I do have materials for a crystal clay project which may lend itself to the job. I don't know what to do with the clay ? I need to find out.

The cupcake job reminded me this morning (while making and using butter icing) that practical 'experience' is so important. I am OK with baking and easy spread icing or filling a cake. Making and piping large numbers of cakes (300+) is another thing altogether. Having (with a few other girls) made the stuff and piped it and mixed extra when a huge bowl ran out etc., I feel we are well equipped to do it again, even better and more efficiently. It's an obvious lesson but it was so well experienced this morning. I think it's to do with confidence and just getting on and doing and having 'a go' - no matter what. I wonder, what is the worse thing that can happen ? I find myself regularly spouting this message to my boys. Thinking about this mornings job as a whole. My problems were not having enough butter, sugar etc and not having the tools and space and understanding where everything will be stored until we need it etc., as well as will the icing be good enough to eat ? and are my skills good enough to make the cakes look good ? and not spoiling all the ingredients. For a while, it was touch and go because we DIDN'T KNOW ! ie. we didn't know about all the variables Ive mentioned above. In the end, everyone pulled together and we met the deadline and cleared up (our very small kitchen was cleaner and more organised than when we started) and everyone worked well together. I left having had 'a feeling of achievement (in a minor way)'. My early thoughts were all about minor PANIC.

The lesson, I'm suggesting, I gained from this experience is that it's easy to forget how debilitating the feeling of 'self doubt' can be and often having overcome something can have a huge (almost out of proportion) personal benefit. I hope I can continue to use this example to push my boundaries in other ways - more to do with 'my art'. I tend to stay safely, inside my own comfort zone most of the time. I also wonder is having like minded people around you - all working towards the same ultimate goal (even if its a personal one). I definitely need to do MORE to extend myself.
PS - the cakes look fab !

Before I go here is a quick look at Mary without her flowers

The space where the flowers were attached has left it's mark, my initial thoughts are to develop a scarf arrangement around the skirt and top - initially, the flowers were a solution to this area. I like the skirt but the top is not a good look. I like the rather 'shabby' treatment on the right hand side where you can just see some 'wearing' of the wallpaper. I'm thinking of developing others areas in this way ie rubbing away some of the wallpapers surface.

I will repaint and repair Mary's top next. My newly found confidence is extending to pioneer the use of new materials and techniques. I must make the most of this and build on it.

I hope I will have a little time later to add more, in the meantime, I'm thinking about the possibilities.

Bye for today.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Mary and Prada Inspiration !

Hi Everyone
It's Monday again, not sure where my weekend has gone ? I don't feel refreshed or 'raring to go' in any way !!!! The weather is cold and windy. I've just had a coffee and have lots of jobs on my list. I know I need to get going but ............

I've also just looked back at around this time last year and Mary Haversham was just arriving on the scene ( she now has the title as The Official Feb paining) - mainly because I thought it would be a way of getting her finished. I have done some work on her but lots more to go. Here she was last year

This is the first picture and her she is now on the catwalk and is making it as a 'close up' model !

At the moment, I'm working on the people in the audience - Ive collected a few different styles together and just need to work out what suits the whole painting. Here are a few images Im working on.

I have quite a few chairs to fill (8 at the moment) and options to have people standing. It also occurs to me that there are no men in the scene. I'm not confident about doing 'men' but feel I need to include at least one man.

I need to practice more.

I'm quite excited about this painting - after living with it for so long it's nice to give more time to the development. This painting is being worked on wood, my favourite surface, the wood is relatively large too and the only way to store the painting is to prop it up somewhere. I like to have a 'working progress' item where I can see it - I find myself looking and dreaming about what I want to do with it and often come up with ideas almost 'subliminally'. I do surprise myself now and again and wonder where an idea came from ? I'm pleased to be getting rid of the big flowers (in Mary's hidden hands). I think we need flowers but not those and not in Mary's hands. I mentioned including a handbag idea last week and will go with that for the moment. Here is a reminder of the bag design I hope to use as inspiration. I found the picture in 'Red Magazine' (Jan 2013). The actual bag is described as a 'silk and crystal bag by Prada' for £1,395. Sounds like a bargain !! It's a clutch bag after all. I do like it myself. It's the one in the middle.

'Hands' are always challenging too but I'm determined to get to grips with 'hands'. I've avoided drawing hands most of the time. Avoiding the drawing is exactly the wrong approach - practice makes it work ! Mary needs her hands or at least one hand to hold the clutch bag. Maybe a ring on the other hand ? With that thought, must get on.

Bye for today.