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.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Neon Testing...

When I finally got my Golden Paints Florescent Colours home I couldn't wait to try them out so I just had to throw together a really quick journal page... though to be honest it's not really a journal page it's just some paint splatters that look so totally awesome on the page.
Golden High Flow Acrylics are a new paint line that can go from brush to marker to dip pen. From fine lines to broad strokes, High Flow Acrylic has an ink-like consistency that is incredibly versatile. The paints are quite liquid (hence "high flow") yet don't lose any of their intensity of colour. When added on top of other water based products such as the Lindy's Stamp Gang Flat Fabio Mist on this page, the colours blend easily to create even more depth and variety.
The colours used here are:
Fluorescent Chartreuse
Fluorescent Orange
Fluorescent Pink
Fluorescent Blue
Fluorescent Green
I started by misting my page with Lindy's Stamp Gang Flat Fabio "Danny Zuko's Denim". I placed down some punchinella (sequin remnants) in two sizes on my page then misted parts of the page. I then turned each piece of punchinella over to colour the page using the reverse print of the stencil.
I dropped individual drips of each of the Golden High Flow Fluorescent colours onto the page then using an ordinary drinking straw, blew the paint around the page.
I love the colours...
I love the fine detailed lines I was able to achieve through this technique...
I love the blending between the paints and the mists...
I love the background from both misted and stencil reverse print from the punchinella...
I will definitely be trying this again on a proper art journal page, very soon!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Art Journal Swap with Karley.

On the Artistic Creationz Group webpage I hosted a swap where we all were assigned a partner who we had to make an Art Journal for.
I swapped with Karley over in Australia and both of us have posted videos on YouTube of what we received from the other person.

My video of what I received from Karley is here...
And Karley's videos of what I sent her are here...
Part 1
Part 2

More Retail Therapy... the prosecution presents the evidence...

So I confessed my sins last week about some spending I did...
Well then this weekend I went out and did some more spending, so I guess these means I have more to confess... (and yes I can see you were all thinking "No surprises there").
I have video evidence of the aforementioned crimes of spending money as I figured this was quicker and easier than me having to take a long list of photos... so you can check it out below.
I really love everything I have bought. There are some terrific and oh so adorable paper napkins in colours that are just so me!! (Especially the "Scaredy Cat" ones).
And I am so happy that we are finally starting to get some really cool (and really cheap) Halloween decorations available here in New Zealand. The fact the I am not going to use any of them as Halloween decorations it totally beside the point.
I can't wait to try out the spider web as a mask to see if I nailed it... or it's a big flop. I'm hoping for a positive outcome because I know if it works it is just going to look so cool.
The other thing that is also going to be either a huge hit or an equally ginormous flop are the syringes. Assuming they are the hit that I am hoping for (and I am a positive person so always believe that everything will work out for the best)... then I think the effects they produce will be amazing. Will have to try them tonight.
I have christened my florescent paints... LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!! I will be sharing my playing in my next blog post. WAY COOL... did I mention I LOVED them???

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fifty {Two} Shades of Grey - Week 40

Yes I know I am a few days late but I've been recording some videos (still using my digital camera) and I ran out of battery before I had a chance to download all the pictures and videos I had taken. The original plan had been to download and then do some editing while I waited for the recharge but one of us got our timing wrong. I'm not saying it was the camera battery... I'm just saying it wasn't me.

So here are last week's photos.

Yes it is somewhat of a shameless plug... but not for me. This is a strip of what is known in the business as Rhinestone Mesh. My friend Faith sells it and kindly sent me some for my birthday. She has it is all sorts of colours including rainbow... but as this is Fifty {Two} Shades of Grey... you only get the silver this post.
Be sure to add Faith (Artiscreationz) on TradeMe as she regularly has this mesh, pearl trims, charms, resin items and all sorts of other goodies for sale.

Swap Video - Artistic Creationz - ATC's - "Shabby Birdcages"

Another quick video share of the September ATC swap on Artistic Creationz. The theme for this was "Shabby Birdcages".

Swap Video - Artistic Creations - Mini File Folders

Quick share of a video I have recently posted on YouTube of a swap I hosted on Artistic Creationz.
For this swap we made Mini File Folders.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Art Journal Pages and Albert Einstein oh my!

Like many good art journal pages this one started without a plan in place... it also finished without one but that's just how I roll. The only thing I knew I wanted to do was try out my new Golden glazing fluid and maybe some Golden paint and my FW acrylic inks.
I had a page in my art journal which I thought might be a suitable starting point. I had been doing some stenciling with molding paste and had wiped off the stencil onto a page in my art journal, as you do, so was starting with a page that already had a little texture in place to catch the glazing fluid.
From there... the experimenting continued somewhat aimlessly until I got to the point where I decided I was done, having done so much in between that I really couldn't tell you step by step what I had done in what particular order.
I do know it include the following...
  • Tinted glazing fluid
  • More molding paste with stencils
  • Indian ink drawing with an eye dropper and dripping
  • Dripped and then scratched liquid inks
  • Distress inks
  • Misting with Dylusions and Lindy's Stamp Gang mists
  • Decoupaging torn pieces of book pages from an Asian print novel
  • A lot of drying with a heat tool... which also caused the molding paste to puff up a little giving extra dimension
  • And some alphabet stickers to include a quote from Albert Einstein
Part way through I was definitely thinking... what the hell am I doing as this looks "Fugly" but by the end I was definitely in love with it. Now I can't wait to do some more experimenting!
The quote by Albert Einstein...
"All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree."
I chose this quote because when I had finished creating this page it looked like a forest of trees to me... so fresh and full of life!

Retail Therapy... and I blame Donna Downey!!

That Donna Downey has a lot and I mean A LOT to answer for... good thing she is such a lovely lady and so easy to forgive.
I've always been a fan of Donna's though have never really religiously followed her blog or her YouTube channel. But then I met her in person at Creative Adventures Downunder earlier this year and now I follow her posts and her channel considerably more frequently... I'm even going through all her back videos...
Donna is a huge fan of the Golden brand of products and she explained why during the class we had with her. She also extols their virtues whenever she uses their products in her projects and art journal pages. As a result of this, I set my mind to investing in some Golden Paints when I finally had some money to spend.
Let me say they are very hard to get hold of here in New Zealand. I've finally found somewhere and luckily they have a shop here in Auckland, though it has taken some digging to find where to get them locally.
Gordon Harris, the Art and Graphic Store, has been around a while. I remember as a student, back in the day, buying my art supplies from my local store down in Christchurch. I could spend hours in there looking over papers, pencils, paints and all sorts of artist's paraphernalia. I built up my supply of Caran D'Arche water colour pencils, one at a time there over a period of years. I still use them now and still marvel at the intensity of colour. They have three stores here in Auckland - Albany, Newmarket and Symonds Street as well as stores in Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch (all be it in a new location from the one I used to frequent).
Anyway... I popped in over the weekend, dragging my family and extras on a day of shopping around town, and finally laid my eyes upon the fabled Golden product display. Bonus time - all Golden products were discounted 20%... this is a good sign!
My first dilemma and one I had been contemplating for a while was what colours do I invest in first. I was working to a budget, and the individual paints are quite pricey (as good quality usually is) so it was an important question to be answered. I had also set my mind to getting some glazing fluid... thanks for that Donna Downey... after see the amazing effects Donna had been able to achieve in her art journal using the aforementioned glazing fluid.
I looked over the colour range. I looked for the price labels... couldn't find any... looked to the top of the shelf (easier said that done when you are my height) and found a chart of prices and decided I may need to sell my step children into slavery. The prices ranged from $6.50 to $45.00 odd for a single bottle of paint. Making my budget stretch to more than one colour was looking like being even more of a challenge than I had originally anticipated.
I decided not to panic, clam down, breathe deeply, wander around a little more then go back for another look once my blood pressure had reduced a little.
I had optimistically picked up a basket as I walked in the door of the Newmarket store, so clutched it a little tighter and rounded the display stand to see all the Golden mediums and there in the middle the haloed glazing fluid. I picked up a bottled read the label (to make it look like I knew what I was doing) then placed it in my basket... Donna Downey 1 point.
By now the blood pressure was back down to normal so I carried on around the display heading back to where I had started, ready to make the big decision of what colours to invest in first. As I rounded the corner my attention was momentarily distracted but a large table in the centre of the store with some multi-packs of paint on display including... a Golden starter pack with 10 colours of paint in 30ml bottles and at a discounted price.
I ummed and ahhed and looked at it and decided this was the answer to my dilemma. Instead of me struggling over what colours to get, Golden had done the hard work for me and here ready to use was a selection of colours to get me started and most importantly it was within my budget including allowing me to get the glazing fluid as well.
Before I could change my mind, question my decision or spend any more money I went up to the counter, to the very helpful staff member and made my purchase.
So here they are my Golden purchases which I still put the blame squarely on Donna Downey's shoulders for forcing me (okay encouraging me) to buy.

If I'm being honest I also need to confess that a couple of days earlier I had already had some more retail therapy. At Warehouse Stationery I had picked up the Yellow and Blue packs of Faber Castell Gelatos... also Donna's fault! And then at the Art Supplies store in the Meadowlands Shopping Centre I had bought some eyes droppers for my liquid inks (mainly my Indian Ink) and some FW liquid acrylic ink in White and Pearlescent Green/Yellow.. also Donna's fault.

I am looking forward to creating with all of these products. I've completed one Art Journal page which I will share in another post but I also want to try to experiment with them in my scrap booking... so be sure to watch this space to see what happens when the ink and the paint meets the paper.