Tuesday, 16 September 2014

A Birthday Card

Hello and a warm welcome to Magpieheaven. Autumn for the Magpies of Magpieheaven is just full of birthdays: my son, my daughter and my brother-in-law all celebrate birthdays at this time. As I've no doubt said before on this blog, greetings cards don't come easily to me these days.Nevertheless, I wanted to make something special for my son Isaac that worked in the small space available on a card. Recently I won some blog candy from the lovely Lesley Ebdon, so I took a beautiful red card blank that had been part of this. I really liked the idea of a coloured card blank rather than the usual cream or white, so things were starting well. I gathered together some bits and pieces I had created as experiments over the last few months. There was an experiment with an alphabet decorative strip, both the letters and what was left behind. I rejected these eventually, but I'm sure I'll be able to use them on another project.
I liked the scraps of master-board and hand-made paper, which I thought would look good layered. The corners of the card were embossed, so I decided to accent this with some Treasure Gold. I painted a Prima Mechanical with Turquoise Fresco and then added a touch of Sapphire Treasure Gold and a red gem at the centre.
The Lynne Perrella image on the top layer was stamped onto painted tissue. Tearing her down the middle seemed right, matching the fragments of Artistic Outpost quotes on my master-board.
As I worked, a line from T. S. Eliot's poem, 'The Wasteland' kept running through my brain:
'These fragments I have shored against my ruins...'
Although The Wasteland is a difficult and - at times - bleak poem it does have an unusual  beauty about it, the way Eliot uses language and quotes from so many sources: mysticism, literature and popular culture creates hope and order out of the chaos, I feel. He created out of the 'ruins' a new kind of art and re-kindled interest  in almost forgotten dramatists like Webster and Thomas Kyd.
The moth in her frame is a piece of Tim Holtz tissue with a Glossy Accents glaze and the little leaves are fragments of my master-board. I wanted the card to create the impression of a gallery! Eliot becomes in a sense a curator of an art gallery or museum, displaying through the rich descriptions of his poem, scraps of parchment, lengths of tapestry and even some curious stone carving. 'The Wasteland', first published in 1922, beautiful and strange, grew out of the ruins of post World War 1 Europe and it was in a sense the beginning of Eliot's quest for understanding of a world recovering from the terrible ravages of war.

 My card for Isaac grows out of little treasured scraps that I could not bear to throw away and I've created it at a time when once again our news media carries stories of wars and rumours of wars, but all around us there is still great natural beauty and incredible courage and human kindness. This card comes with loving wishes for my son's  birthday on the 24th when he will be 24 and  with appreciation of his companionship and kindliness. Thank you for dropping by Magpieheaven today. May you find beauty, peace and poetry all around you this week wherever you are.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Die Cuts and the Letter 'J' - Time to Dream with the Dragons again!

Hello and welcome to Magpieheaven. It's once again time to dream with the Dragons, as we prepare for the shorter Autumn days and all the challenges and new beginnings that come with this season. Our daughter is flying the nest to live with her student friends and I have new students myself starting their tuition in English Literature 'A' level with the new school year. The Dragon recipe this time is chosen by the very talented Elizabeth and she would like us to use die-cuts and to include a letter 'J' on our tags. As always she would like to see at least one stamped image on your tag. Please do take a look at all the inspiration over at The Dragons' Dream TIO here.
I've been playing with Autumn colours recently, but for this tag I left them behind and went for the idea of flight, probably those thoughts about Matilda starting out independently. With the end of summer birds migrate to warmer climes and these little Artistic Outpost girls look to me as if the smaller one is being taken to school for the first time by her older sister. I love these little Artistic Outpost girls and I should like to link up with the Artistic Outpost Challenge here. I love Artistic Outpost and this month the design team would like us to show them our artwork created with Artistic Outpost stamps.
With this tag I knew that I wanted to explore the idea of spreading our wings and heading off into the wide, blue yonder! This gave me the perfect excuse to create a master-board with lots of PaperArtsy Fresco Finish Blues that I could then die-cut with my decorative strip dies. I used a Tim Holtz die of swallows and also his chipboard alphabet. The arch is also a Tim Holtz die and the two little girls are from Artistic Outpost. I also used the sentiment from this plate: 'A person's a person no matter how small.'
I coloured the stamped image with Inktense pencils, stencilling my background with a Rebekkah Meir doily stencil and accenting my blue-birds with Treasure Gold.
My choice of word for the letter 'J' is Joy, die-cut from my master-board. Autumn is a season of mingled joy and sadness, but possibly the greatest joy for me is that it is the season when both our children came into the world. I love the poetry of William Blake, especially this from his 'Songs of Innocence' -

Infant Joy

I have no name 
I am but two days old.— 
What shall I call thee?
I happy am 
Joy is my name,— 
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty joy!
Sweet joy but two days old,
Sweet joy I call thee; 
Thou dost smile. 
I sing the while 
Sweet joy befall thee

Thank you for stopping by Magpieheaven today. May 'Sweet joy' befall you as we enter this Autumn season and may you rise to meet every challenge! Do link up with the Dragons' Dream TIO here too. Remember all you have to do is to create a tag using die-cuts; include the letter 'J' and at least one stamped image.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Queen of the Night!

Hello and welcome to Magpieheaven! Today I would like to share a project that I have over on Unruly Paper Arts' as inspiration for the Readers' Art Quest, The Dark of Night. Please do pop over to Unruly Paper Arts here. We'd love you to join in with this month's challenge: there are some truly beautiful inspirational creations from the columnists.
This project was quite  a challenge for me. I began with a drawing of a profile I had been experimenting with for Mary Jane Chadbourne's Anthology of an Art Doll class. I used Inktense pencils as water-colours and some metallic dimensional paint to create a queenly face. It's years since I spent so long painting faces and I've been really loving this opportunity to let my imagination go and create characters!
My queen fitted onto an MDF butterfly, which I painted with Fresco paints by PaperArtsy in Space Cadet, Inky Pool and London Night. For a little more dimension, I added some die-cut card with stencilled Lin Brown leaves in Grunge Paste. The addition of Treasure Gold helped to accent these 'tiles' - a tip I learned earlier this summer from one of Lin's own workshops. A paper-cut of butterfly wings from Retro Cafe Art Gallery accented by gold dimensional paint and I was ready to add the final embellishments on my Queen of the Night and to cover the back with some beautiful fashion plate paper from The House of Zandra.
And what is the identity of my Queen of the Night? Is she the character from Mozart's opera, The Magic Flute? Is she a goddess from Mesopotamia or an elegant and fashionable lady who sports the latest fashions by day and presides over her elegant and fashionable salon by night. gathering artists, poets, musicians and thinkers together for sparkling conversations? I'll leave that up to you to decide.
   Thank you for stopping by Magpieheaven today. it's always a pleasure and a privilege to have your company. Please do remember to have a go at our Readers' Art Quest over at Unruly Paper Arts, as you could win yourself a mystery goodies bag including items from our sponsor this month The Eyelet Outlet!

Monday, 1 September 2014

A Creative Blog Hop

Welcome to Magpieheaven! Today I'm spreading my wings and doing something a bit different! My good friend, Kerry from Kezzy Art asked me to join her and other craft bloggers in sharing what inspires us to create in a creative blog hop! Please check out Kerry's blog here. She has been a great inspiration to me since I started craft blogging: she's wonderfully experimental and bold with texture and colour and she'll have a go at making just about anything!
First she asked me to say a little bit about myself.
 I used to teach English Literature in schools and colleges and I've always loved books - I like to weave stories into my blog posts whenever I can.
 I now tutor 'A' level students. I started crafting seriously, by which I mean really immersing myself in mixed media projects, about two years ago. I had made cards for friends, but after buying some PaperArtsy stamps from a little shop near the British Museum, I visited the PA blog and - wow - I discovered textures and paint! Now my family - Matilda 20 and Isaac 23 and long-suffering Mr Magpie have to wait until I've cleared  Frescos, Distress Stains and teetering piles of corrugated card from the table before we can eat. Our 15 yr old cat Daisy likes to help me with projects, especially anything involving ribbons and fibres!
You can see here that Daisy is so eager to begin the next project, Matilda has to restrain her!
What am I working on now?     
I can't show that, as it's a design piece and top secret, but my most recent project has been a little family of art dolls for Mary Jane Chadbourne's online class The Imaginarium, The Anthology of an Art Doll. What a great time we've all had over at The Artful Gathering creating dolls! I used power tools to create my own shapes.

Why do I create what I do?    
That's such a difficult question! I think my creating is a bit like my Magpie's Nest! I love to gather all kinds of things that give me joy and put them together to make something new! I love songs and stories too. I hoard them in my imagination and then sometimes express them in what I create. This is an ATC inspired by Joanna Newsom's song Cosmia.
How does my Creative Process Work?   
 I suppose sometimes I start with an idea inspired by a story, a book or a song and other times I start to mess about with some paint and texture, and a song, story or book comes into my head and things just take off!

How do I stay Focussed and Motivated?   
I would say that inspirational artists like Lynne Perrella -
The Natural World -

My Family -
The one on the left is my son -

and the inspiration of stories and plays keep me motivated. I also love to visit other blogs and see what my crafting friends are up to. I've tagged these amazing bloggers who will be telling you all about their creative process and hopefully providing you with lots of inspiration. Why not stop by the blogs of these really creative friends of mine on September 8th and find out all about what and why they craft?
                                              Deborah Wainwright - Lylac Spark Creations
                                               Dianne Marcoux - Magpiedi Magpiedi

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Dreaming with the Dragons - Transport and the letter 'Y'

Hello and welcome to Magpieheaven! August has been a busy month! As some of you may know, I've been working at my family of art dolls for Mary Jane Chadbourne's workshop for a lot of the month. Now, to my amazement, it's time to dream with the Dragons again! Last time it was my turn to choose the recipe and we had some highly original interpretations of Rust and the letter 'O'. We'll be announcing the Dreamboat 3 and Guest Designer very soon. Now for this fortnight's challenge! It's been chosen by the lovely Jax and she would like to see the letter 'Y' and the theme of 'Transport' on your tags! Please click here to see some of the fabulous ideas the Dragons have come up with! This is my take on the challenge!
I know this sounds weird, but I started with a couple of tea-bags, lovingly dried by my dear friend, Sue's daughter Dominique. Sue and her family live in Brussels and when she stopped off in London recently she handed over a collection of tea-bags and cardboard, courtesy of Nicky. The tea bags resemble tiny sepia leaves of tissue and they are great to stamp on. I stamped two images - one of the Artistic Stamper Gibson Girl and the other from a Hot Picks plate HP1206. As I looked at the result I thought how vintage they seemed on the tea-bag paper and my 'Y' word came to me - Yesterday!

This vintage car from PaperArtsy Hot Picks HP1206 seemed perfect for the theme of Transport. It reminds me of Jay Gatsby's car in 'The Great Gatsby' : so glittering and modern it is transformed from status symbol to a literal vehicle of tragedy in the novel. The transport of yesterday always seems so much more romantic than that of our own era, yet in Scott-Fitzgerald's novel there is a real sense of concern at the world of the nineteen-twenties hurtling out of control: fast cars, air travel, speed boats - where exactly are Gatsby and those who congregate at his fashionable parties rushing to and what are they running from?
I liked this Gibson Girl image, as she seems to be dreaming, contemplating 'Yesterday'. I stuck the tea-bags onto my tag with Satin Glaze and coloured them with Inktense. The safety pin is a rusted Tim Holtz one and I dyed some seam-binding with Distress Inks in Fired Brick and Vintage Photo before stamping the script from the new PaperArtsy Sara Nauman plate on it. The script on the tag itself is from Hot Picks HP1006. I had lots of fun using Grunge Paste through a stencil of bricks for my background and then scraping through Grunge Paste with a Catalyst tool to create a change of pattern too. Treasure Golds in rosy and copper tones helped bring a bit of warmth to the tag. I love the way that Fresco colours can have a vintage glow about them. For this tag I coloured my Grunge Paste with Caramel Fresco and then blended Brown Shed, Chocolate Pudding and Tikka Frescos with just a touch of Yellow Submarine in places. The little heart is a paper one from the Funkie Junkie Boutique with a fleur de lys charm and a faux chain created with Grunge Paste and Treasure Gold. There's also a sprinkling of Frantage in Copper and Aged Green and some little card tiles cut from a master-board and coated in Clear UTEE, edged with gold UTEE.

Thank you so much for dropping by today. I do hope you will get out those stamps, inks, paints and tags and join us in this fortnight's challenge. Remember your work should be some kind of tag and remember also to use at one real stamp and to incorporate the letter 'Y' and some kind of transport. Have a wonderful creative day whether you're in the sunshine or the rain!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

A Warm Welcom from Ms Homebody!

Welcome to Magpieheaven, where I'm still sawing and sanding away at the Art Dolls for Mary Jane Chadbourne's class at The Artful Gathering. Today 'Ms Homebody' would like to introduce herself. Sorry she's headless in the first photo! I wanted to show you her body first  because it took shape after I had the idea of her head, if that makes any sense! I had cut my wood shapes and I wanted to create a little house head-dress. Ms Homebody 'just grew' after that! She tells a simple story of the pleasures of home.
While I was creating her, I looked up so many quotes on the internet about 'home sweet home'. Many were fascinating and quite a revelation: I never knew that Jean Cocteau considered cats to be the visible expression of the soul of one's home or that 'Home is where the heart is' is as ancient as Aristotle - well according to one site Aristotle said it! In the end I didn't feel exactly 'right' about using any of them. Although I loved the idea of 'Home is where the story begins...' I wasn't sure about where to place those words on Ms Homebody. Eventually, she told me herself that what she wanted was for the viewer to read her story in the elements she asked me to include on her.
Just how did that tiny lady get up into the tower - and how is she going to get down to join the little partner inviting her into the house below? 
What is Ms Homebody's world like?
And how does she make you feel when you call round for tea?

She's far too polite and kind to turn her back on anyone, but if she did, this is what you would see.
Ms Homebody would like you to join her for a nice cup of tea in a bone china rose tea cup. Your stay can be as long, or as brief as you wish. She is ready to listen to your stories be they happy or sad. She'd just love you to spend some time with her and - make yourself at home! Thank you so much for stopping by Magpieheaven today and meeting Ms Homebody. Have a great day wherever you are.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Inspired by Helen Chiltern at PaperArtsy

Good Morning and welcome to Magpieheaven! This post has to be a quick one, as the greengages have ripened in the Magpie Garden and today has to be spent in cooking greengage tarts! I've been so busy creating art dolls for Mary Jane Chadbourne's wonderful workshop over at The Artful Gathering that I'd lost all track of time. However, I just had to have a go at Helen's lovely, quick make at PaperArtsy, which I would like to link up today: you can find out all about it here. I think these little Stampbord handbag danglies would make brilliant gifts! I wish I'd had time to create more, but the greengages were demanding my attention! Anyway, tomorrow is another day! I decided to back mine with some scraps of paper from my stash. All my Chatsworth is gone, but I think it would make the perfect backing, if you have it.
I glued my Stampbord to some House of Zandra paper and then trimmed and sanded the edges to give a clean edge.
I then gave an aged appearance to my stampbord pieces, using Vintage Photo, Walnut Stain, Fired Brick, Squeezed Lemonade and a little Victorian Velvet. I stamped over the paper with some beautiful Sara Nauman script from her new PaperArtsy stamps, using Stazon.
I just had time to make two before getting started on the pastry! Here are the backs!
Here are the fronts. It was fun rummaging through my bits and pieces to find embellishments, even if it was against the clock! I really want to do some more of these when I have more time! I chose the Lynne Perrella images that she collected on an exploration of a Paris market, so I carried through the Parisian theme on my second one, using part of a broken pendant bought by me from another market - Spitalfields in London's East End. This was the first time I'd ever used Stampbord and I really loved it! Scraping away was great fun! In the future I'd like to experiment with borders and bolder scraping away; as I really was hurrying to finish these! I used distressed seam-binding instead of chain, but I would definitely make some more with chain.
These ladies of letters will remind me to 'Live my Dream' as they jingle and turn on my handbag! I wonder if they were able to live their dreams back in nineteenth century France? Thank you Helen and PaperArtsy for such a fun, quick and beautiful little project. These are going to find their way into some stockings come Christmas! Thank you so much for stopping by today! I'll be back with my fourth art doll soon, so please do try and visit and meet her, as she has quite a story to tell!