Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Craft Challenge - Day 2

I picked up a paper mache star when I went looking for some Halloween goodies. It was slightly deformed (a bit like me lol) but it was cheap so it was in my non-existent budget!
I'm the type of person who can't really sit there doing nothing... not even while watching television, so while I was catching up on some YouTube videos I pulled out the star and decided to do something with it. I didn't really have a plan just went with whatever I was feeling in the moment.
I started by stamping some images onto a sheet of white tissue paper after I cut the tissue paper into four equal pieces as the full sheet was massive. I picked out some wooden Christmas Tree stamps from my stash as well as a StazOn ink "Cactus Green" and some Ranger Archival Ink "Library Green". I picked these inks in particular because they are waterproof and I'd decided to decoupage ripped up pieces of tissue paper onto the star to provide the background to whatever would happen next.
To decoupage the tissue onto the star base, I used a 50/50 mix of Elmer's Glue and water. I painted the glue mix onto the star then adhered torn up pieces of the stamped tissue paper onto the star before coating them over the top again to ensure I had good adhesion of all the tissue paper. I crisscrossed the tissue paper to ensure that the entire star had at least a double layer of tissue paper.
For the next layer I placed the tissue wrapped star in an old shoe box that I use as a misting box (to prevent mist from ending up everywhere). I misted it generously with Lindy's Stamp Gang Starburst - Freaky Franken Lime Mist and Moon Shadow Golden Doubloons. I misted in several layers, drying with my heat tool between each layer. Once I was happy with the overall colour, I then splattered more of the Moon Shadow Golden Doubloons Mist to add a real grungey/aged look to the star.
To finish off the look (so it looks like a Vintage ornament that has been handed down through the generations, rather than one made five minutes ago) I inked the edges of the star around the outside edge as well as the edges into the central point of the star using Tim Holtz Distress Inks in Vintage Photo and Walnut Stain.
Above - Without camera flash - I love the depth and warmth of the colour in this picture. It's more true to the real colour and really shows up the grungey vintage colouring of this ornament.
Below - With camera flash - the colours appear a little duller but the shimmer from the Lindy's Stamp Gang Mists really stands out like it does in real life.
Below - a couple of close-ups of the finished star. The dark green lines showing through are from the stamped images on the tissue paper.
I really love the "water marks" created by splattering the Lindy's Stamp Gang Moon Shadow Golden Doubloon and then drying it with the heat tool to speed up the process so the mist doesn't have time to blend as much with whatever other colours are on the project.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fifty {Two} Shades of Grey - Week 44

This one may have the grey matter working over time... unless you scroll down without having a guess...

It's my Fiskars Punch Anywhere Square Punch

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fifty {Two} Shades of Grey - Week 41

I can't believe I haven't taken a picture of this already...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Christmas Craft Challenge 2013

Today marks one month until the start of my Christmas Craft Challenge for 2013.
This year I have done some pre-planning as in previous year's but I haven't had much time for pre-doing as I've been working the past five or so weeks. Having not worked for nine odd months, getting back into full-time work had been surprisingly tiring... but that's not going to stop me from jumping into this year's challenge boots and all, so to speak.
If you've not scrolled through all my blog or you're new to following or even looking at my blog then here's the gist of what it's all about...
This is the fifth year I've done the Christmas Craft Challenge here on my blog. Each December, from the 1st until the 24th (and sometimes on the 25th as well) I post a Christmas Craft a day. Some times my creations take as little as 5 minutes to make and are designed for the non-crafter and the kids to make and some times my creations have taken me a few days if not weeks to complete. For me it's all about providing a little bit of inspiration for everyone else on crafts that you can make yourself for the Christmas season.
Now I have to confess... some times my definition of crafting may be a little on the broad side... like when I crafted Eggnog... we'd never had it before so it was a new thing (and some what potent) but it's really about just giving it a go and getting into the spirit of the season and generally having fun... and believe me after a few glasses of that egg nog... it was ALL FUN!
The other thing about my craft challenge is that anyone else is more than welcome to join in... it's not just about me, doing my thing... even though that's what happens. If you want to join in... whether you do a Christmas craft a day... one a week or one for the season... then let me know and I will add a link on my blog, so other crafty people can check out your creations as well.
So the countdown to the countdown to Christmas has arrived. Be sure to check back for updates, for links to anyone else joining in but most especially from the 1st December to check out my creations for my Christmas Craft Challenge 2013.
Here are some pictures from last years' creations...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Altered Coffin and Halloween Finery... and I'm probably going to sewing hell for this project!!

A week or so ago I stumbled across a cool channel on YouTube that someone I subscribe to had watched so now I have subscribed to follow myself. The channel is Serena Bee and you can find her on YouTube here.
The first video I watched was her Halloween Challenge and Giveaway for 2013. The prize Serena is offering is totally cool and packed full of Halloween goodies, but it was the challenge itself that attracted me. Either alter a miniature coffin or make a Halloween inspired ATC. I love making ATC's but the idea of altering a mini coffin was just too cool to resist so I set my mind to participating in the challenge.
And here was where I encountered my first hurdle...
Over in the US of A (where Serena Bee is based) mini coffins are available on just about every street corner... well at least in every Michael's store and at a measly USD$1.50. Here in New Zealand we don't have a Michael's (only the Michael Hill jewelry stores) so that option was out. I tried a couple of the larger craft stores to no avail either. I even checked the Amercian store here (Martha's Backyard) but not a mini coffin to be found.
What I did find and ultimately used, was a paper mache pencil case with straight sides and a flip up lid. It still does look like a coffin just not the generally accepted (and first to spring to mind when you think of a coffin) six-sided shape but the bonus was I could design it with a split lid which I could lift up for a viewing.
I painted the coffin (as I no longer think of it as a pencil case) inside and out with black acrylic paint. Then I sliced the lid in half to create the two independently open able lid portions. In hindsight, I should have done this before painting as the cutting process pulled off some of the paint, so a touch up job was required.
About now I pondered for a bit as to how I wanted to decorate the coffin. I bought some gorgeous green fabric and a spider and web pendant, neither of which I ultimately used. Instead I decided to add some flames along the bottom border of the coffin. (Although that sounds like a quick and easy decision it was actually more like a desperate clutching at straws as I didn't know what to do or where my mojo was hiding at the time.)
I checked out the flame related stencils I have but they weren't really designed as borders nor were they designed for such a small project. The height is only about 1.5" so I decided my only option if I wanted the flames was to design and create something myself.
I downloaded some stock images from the internet and used several images as inspiration for the design. I drew my design onto a strip of heavyweight plastic (cutting board or place mat from the $2 shop) then cut it out using my Tim Holtz Cushy Grip Scissors and Retractable Cutting Blade.

I placed the stencil along the edge of the painted coffin so that the base of the flames was the bottom edge of the coffin and pounced on some yellow acrylic paint using a cut up piece of makeup sponge. The design was quite detailed and some parts relatively intricate so I wanted a lot more control of what I was doing, hence the make-up sponge.
My conclusions on this step...
1. The image created by sponged on the paint was not as strong or as sharp as I imagined or wanted.
2. As the coffin was made from paper mache, the surface was actually that smooth, so achieving a crisp clear edge on the flames was not easy as the stencil did not always lie completely flat on the coffin.
3. Putting the yellow paint over the black was as you can imagine not a simple task and more than one coat would be needed in order to not end up with a "dirty" yellow look.
I thought about laying the stencil back in place and going over the image again with the sponge but decided this might just end up making a complete mess of things, so instead I decided to paint over the image by hand using a fine detail brush and using the stencil image as my pattern.
This turned out much better. Not only was the yellow paint completely opaque this time, but I was able to clean up the image and ensure that the outer edges of the flames were all much crisper and cleaner.
I repeated the paint job with orange and red acrylic paints ensuring that each subsequent layer of colour left some of the previous layer showing to give the flames a colourful and dimensional look. For the red in particular I made sure to use a "flicking" painting movement to give a softened edge to the image rather than a hard, unnatural look.
At this point in time I decided that I didn't want to cover up too much of the paint job having put so much effort into it and I also didn't want to just put a skeleton into the coffin. It was way too cool for that, but instead I thought the coffin would be more suited to a Vampire Doll who used the coffin as her hip and trendy "hidey hole".
I traipsed around Papakura and the surrounding area for the perfect doll. Ten or was it twelve shops later I still didn't have the perfect doll... though I did have a couple to choose from. I found there was a predominance of really tall "fashion" dolls and mermaids neither of which I wanted or really short dolls that would have just looked silly. The two dolls I did find were still both a little tall so some creative "plastic surgery" would be required to make them fit but at least the were a faux Monster High look so the doll I eventually chose was already a "Vampire" (all be it a pink one).
After some delicate plastic surgery my Vampire girl was about an inch shorter (just don't look under the clothes to see what I did in order to make her shorter... it wasn't pretty!!) and she now fits inside the coffin, all be it still a tight fit.
(Above you can see how much I shortened her in order to get her to fit.)
While out doll shopping I had also picked up a cushion cover to cut apart and use as the fabric to line the coffin with. This is something I have done in the past and is a much cheaper alternative to buying fabric from a haberdashery store. The cushion cover was only $2.00 from the cheapo store, yet gave me two generous squares of silk fabric in two different styles (and a zip I can use for another project).
I cut the fabric to size then completely cheated. If you are a sewer you might want to skip this bit. If you don't know how to sew then read on...
Time was of the essence and I couldn't be bothered getting out my sewing machine and hand sewing was going to take forever... so I cheated. To provide a crisp edge on the coffin lining and to ensure the fabric didn't fray (as fabric usually does) I folded each edge over and stuck it to the back of the fabric (wrong side) with masking tape. (Yes I know I am probably going to sewing hell... but tough, if I can live with it then so can you). No I didn't take any pictures... I hid the evidence of my evil doing!!
I then adhered the fabric in place using Helmar's Fabric Tac glue. It is worth pointing out that I did the inside of the base in one piece but the lid was covered in two pieces so that the two portions of the lid could be opened independently of each other with a nice crisp edge along the centre split of the coffin lid.
The then hand sewed a coordinating outfit for the doll. She is dressed in a camisole style top made from black ribbon of two different widths and a orange and black skirt. Both the skirt and camisole are decorated with a frilled black lace to accent and provide a feminine touch. In addition the skirt is lined with a black tulle under petticoat though both layers of the skirt have been tacked together so that the skirt doesn't flare about too much preventing the coffin lid from closing properly.
The doll originally wore some red plastic filigree boots with slipped on her lower legs. I coloured these black with a permanent marker so they now are black with a red undertone which looks really good against the orange lining.
The final touch was some black ribbons in her hair before I laid her to rest in her new home.
I love the look of this project. I am so pleased with the way everything turned out especially the flames on the outside. It take a lot longer than I thought it would but that included sourcing the coffin, fabric and doll as well as all the hand sewing of her outfit, not originally included in my planning phase, but that said... I really didn't mind to get the end result.
Now I just need to keep it away from my 4 1/2 year old Granddaughter who has been eyeing up a new doll for her extensive collection!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sweet Station Swap

On the Artistic Creationz group I created a Sweet Station Swap for a little something different. It was a partner swap and I signed up to swap with two people - Lainie and Brenda.
We had to decorate a box no bigger than 6" x 6" and fill it with candy, lollies and/or scrappy goodies.
I made three boxes, one each for the two ladies and one to keep for myself as I like to keep a copy of everything I make for myself.
The box was made from scratch using chipboard which I adhered together with wet adhesive and then strengthened with structure strips inside and outside. I held the lid in place with two hinges on the inside of the box.
Before adding the lid I covered the box and the lid with torn up book pages... yes I'm still using the pile from the altered book project I'm part way through. I added the ribbons to tie the boxes closed at this stage so they would be held in place by the paper as it was decoupaged over the top. Once this had dried well, I coated the outside of the box with plain Iridescent Paint. (This is usually mixed with acrylic paint to add a shimmer to whatever colour you like but this time I didn't add it to paint).
On the lid I added some large flowers using The Crafter's Workshop "Flower Frenzy" stencil and some texture paste that I had coloured pink with Lindy's Stamp Gang Magicals in Cotton Candy Pink. Once this had dried I also painted over the whole flowers (not some of the in between background bits) with some more of the Magicals which I had added to some gloss medium. The centres of each flower I coated with Liquid Pearls.
I added lace around the edge of the lid to add some femininity to the lid as it was looking a little harsh and stark despite the flowers
I made double layer bows from some millinery nylon ribbon I had picked up and tied a large flower around the bow to shape them and hold them in place. All the flowers had been coloured with various Lindy's Stamp Gang mists, Tattered Angels mists and the mist I had made from my Faber Castell Gelatos. The larger flowers I also edged with Kindy Glitz for a little sparkle.
I adhered the bow in place along the edge with the hinges then added the dimensional flowers around it together with a few leaves.
Around the edges I hand painted individual blades of grass using a variety of green paints from my stash.
Inside I included a variety of goodies including some tags and journal blocks I had printed, muslin, calico and burlap for some scrappy goodness. For the candy and chocolate goodness I went to the American Shop - Martha's Backyard - here in Auckland where I had bought a selection of candies that we can't get anywhere else. I included an Altoids tin of mints (so the ladies can alter a proper Altoids tin instead of the fake ones we usually have to alter here), some mint M&M's (not usually on our store shelves), wafer lollies, and a selection of mini Hershey's bars - sorry I didn't take any pictures of the candy's just the boxes...
 All three boxes... showing the finished results, inside and out.
 The three lids.
Close up of the lid. The shimmer look of the background is the iridescent paint. 
 Close up of the dimensional bow... I'm really pleased with the way these turned out. Love that millinery ribbon!
These flowers all started out white from I Am Roses. They were all coloured using Lindy's Stamp Gang and Tattered Angels mists and then many were accented with Kindy Glitz. 
From some angles the iridescent paint is very transparent so the words of the book pages can be clearly seen. 
From other angles (and with the camera flash) the iridescent paint appears quite opaque so the words are much harder to see. 
The ribbons to close the box and the lace border around the lid. 
 I really like the way the individually hand painted blades of grass turned out. It took a while but was very therapeutic at the time!
I kept the inside of the box plain, especially as I was going to put food items in here. This picture also shows the hidden hinges inside the box.