Wednesday 29 April 2015

Black and Stencils and it's time to dream with the Dragons!

Hello Followers and Friends and welcome to Magpieheaven. Once again the days have whirled by and it's time to dream with the Dragons. We so enjoyed looking at the tags you created on the theme of blue and words, and the winners will be announced soon. The lovely Helen has chosen the recipe for this fortnight and I found it quite a challenging one: black and stencils! The stencils weren't a problem, as I love working with those; but I realized that I don't use a great deal of black on projects! Once I made a start, though, I decided that I ought to use black more, it creates such a great contrast! Please take a moment to look at the fabulous projects my 'teamies' created here.

Now, I think it best to warn those of you who were a bit scared last time I used these, that I'm giving Sandra Evertson's Relics and Artifacts eyes another outing! I love them, but I realize that they are a little quirky! You could describe them as Marmite embellishments - you either love them or hate them! I thought they would definitely go with a black background, so I decorated one with Sapphire Treasure Gold at the centre and edged around the white with a dry brushing of Old Gold and Toffee Fresco Paints to age it. I sketched in the pupil with a black fine liner. The eye is resting on a rusted Prima embellishment.

My next step was to cover a jumbo tag with some Prima black Gesso and, when this was dry, to stencil using a Prima flourish stencil and some Wendy Vecchi Embossing Paste in gold. I also die-cut some black leather flowers because I'm still playing with the idea of flowers with eyes!

I took the same stencil I had used with the paste and used the 'bumping' technique to paint on some card. The colours I used are Smurf, Wisteria, Blue Oyster, Nougat and Toffee Frescos. I stamped this Lynne Perrella lady over the top, painting over the Nougat at the centre of her face with a watery wash of Blush Fresco on the cheeks and some London Bus for her lips. The edges of the card are curled over and covered with Treasure Gold.

I added some more embossing with just a hint of Ranger Worn White EP sprinkled over Versamark pressed through my flourish stencil. I am really enjoying applying crackle to leather at the moment! I painted my leather flowers with a thin coat of Little Black Dress, then a thin coat of PaperArtsy Crackle glaze and finally a thick application of Smurf. All the sections of the flower were then brought together and fixed with heavy gel medium.

All the elements brought together! The text under the glass nugget says 'Believe'!

'Hope' and 'dream' are both from a Sara Nauman set. The finishing touch to my black tag is an edging of Aged Aqua frantage. I love this Lynne Perrella image from PaperArtsy. The lady looks so clever and astute to me. I imagine her organizing the best salon in Paris, gathering about her philosophers, poets, artists and wits. She looks to me as if she could acquit herself well in any discussion on any number of topics - a wise and witty woman with a keen eye that misses nothing. 

Thank You for stopping by Magpieheaven and taking a look at my tag today. I do hope you will get out your stencils; your black ink, paint or gesso and play with the Dragons. Remember to use at least one real stamp on your tag; some stenciling and to allow black to take centre stage. Have a happy and creative day! 

Saturday 25 April 2015

Her Hopes - Playing with Sandra Evertson's Relics and Artifacts.

A warm welcome to Magpieheaven! Being a magpie by nature I just love collecting things and anybody who has ever visited our little cottage will tell you how crammed with shiny things it is! I was really excited when I discovered that Sandra Evertson, a collector of the most intriguing artefacts, was going to share her own magical magpie treasures through a collection of archival casts marketed by Prima. I'd already had fun embellishing one of the ex-voto hearts from this collection and next I decided to accept the challenge of creating with one of the beautiful eyes that look as if they might have been part of a classical statue. Maybe this doesn't suggest spring-time to you, but stick with me and I'll try to explain!

 Sandra's incredible pieces make wonderful jewellery, and I've seen some stunning examples of brooches and pendants using them; but I wanted to create a tiny canvas and make the eye the focal point. I wanted lace to feature so I began by attaching some from my stash with transparent gel medium.

Now the next step might not seem terribly significant at first - just two little words from some book text fixed to a glass nugget! These words, though, provided the inspiration and the title for my canvas - 'Her hopes'. I expect you can see the page is torn from an old copy of Pride and Prejudice - don't worry - we have other copies! Hope - what the spring-time is all about.

Lace, hope, classical statues - the project was beginning to form in my imagination! I could hear birds singing outside the open window and sense the spring awakening like young eyes opening on a fresh new world. I painted some card with Frescos in Blue Oyster, Lake Wanaka, Wisteria and China and used the 'bumping' technique with a Prima stencil.

I die-cut my card using a Tim Holtz tattered florals die and then gave the flowers a coat of UTEE. My lovely, generous friend, Lucy had very kindly given me a gift of some pieces of leather, which also cut brilliantly with the flower die and I painted this with a layer of Little Black dress, one of PaperArtsy Crackle Glaze and then a top layer of Blue Oyster.

'Her Hopes' were to be in the form of a flower opening and at its centre, an eye that sees and takes in all the beauty, all the possibilities that the spring has to offer. Over at 'Our Creative Corner' the challenge this month is to 'Colour Your World' and to portray the colours of spring-time 'where you are'. To me spring time is a time of hope and the colours that speak of spring to me are blues and lilacs. My heart always sings when the skies turn from grey to blue; birds' nests glint with treasures of blue speckled eggs; bluebells appear in the woods and the lilac starts to bloom. I decorated the eye with washes of Frescos and then Treasure Gold in Lilac and Rose Quartz.

Time to paint a background for 'her hopes'!

I wanted to merge the Rebekah Meier stencil with the lace and some Sara Nauman script.

3D transparent gel medium by Prima, some tiny beads and little resin flowers helped to provide more texture and I highlighted this along with the lace, using Treasure Gold. I photographed the canvas on a little wooden easel to give some idea of its miniature size.

You can see the addition of curly, copper wire, a peacock feather and this half spool, decorated with stamped and painted tissue.

I like the different effect from different angles! I wish I had the skills of animation because as I looked I could imagine the eye opening and closing with a camera shutter sound as the flowery hopes took in everything in the garden!

The butterfly was coloured with Distress Inks, spritzed with water.

Thank You so much for stopping by Magpieheaven today and taking a look at my miniature canvas. Whatever your hopes and dreams are for the spring-time, may they be fulfilled beyond your expectations!

Thursday 23 April 2015

A Gift for a Friend - Rubber Dance Challenge!

Welcome to Magpieheaven! Lately the sun has been shining in a sky of cloudless, powder blue; the blossoms are budding on our apple tree and the sun has been creating dusky shadows on the garden path. The colours of the current Rubber Dance Challenge - Pink, Powder Blue and Dusky Grey are all around! It feels like Summer - for how long I'm not sure! I decided it was time to join in with the Rubber Dance Challenge, as I love their stamps and the blog is so full of inspiration! Just check it out here! I recently gifted a decorated jumbo peg to one of my followers to celebrate 2 years of blogging and, as I needed to make a birthday gift for a family friend, I decided to try to use the Rubber Dance colour palette for a new peg doll.

I make these double-sided memo dolls from plain wooden jumbo pegs, so I've tried to incorporate the Rose, Powder Blue and Dusky Grey n both sides. I used stencils - a Rebekah Meier doily and a Harlequin pattern and PaperArtsy Fresco paints in Oyster Blue, Antarctic, Slate and Blush. Leandra @ PaperArtsy has a great video on the 'bumping' technique here, which helps to create a 3D impression.

So that I could use my favourite rubber stamps on this project, I miniaturised them by stamping them onto Shrink Plastic. I painted the plastic with a wash of PaperArtsy Guacamole, allowed it to dry and then stamped with the star from Sara Nauman's  most recent design for PaperArtsy, and this lovely sentiment from Rubber Dance, before carefully cutting both of these out and then shrinking them with a heat tool - I just love doing that. Our friend is a lover of all kinds of music and  has spent many happy evenings sitting on our living room floor listening with us to anything from Reggae to Vaughan-Williams!

I used my own artwork on the doll's face/s. The white musical notes on her hat are stamped using a Rubber Dance background stamp and some Snowflake Fresco paint. For texture, I used some Grunge Paste tinted with Fresco paints in Banana and Chocolate pudding and a little lace fixed with gell medium and touched with Treasure Gold.

Here is the reverse side of my doll: a sleeping pierrot. Again I used Shrink Plastic to reduce this PaperArtsy Mini stamp to fit my peg doll exactly: it reads 'Imagination rules the world'. The bird is part of a Stencil Girl stencil - a very large one, in fact, of birds in a wood! Again I used the Grunge Paste to create texture on the hair.

I added a little Treasure Gold to accentuate the texture and I utilised the blue, pink and grey colour palette within the head part of the peg. The side of the peg, I decorated with spots of sunshine yellow with some Sapphire Treasure Gold on the metal of the peg.

 Our friend is a great fan of the art of Cecil Collins who created naive and beautiful paintings of pierrot type figures - wise fools! This one is called The Sleeping Fool.

I wanted to try to evoke something of Collins' simplicity and serenity in this little gift, which comes with much love to our dear friend. Thank You so much for dropping by Magpieheaven today and taking a look at my peg doll, which I should like to link up to The Rubber Dance Blog April Colour Challenge here.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Making a Portrait Journey!

Welcome to Magpieheaven - Followers and Friends. The other day I popped over to my crafty friend, Mo's blog to discover that she had been having fun making faces - if you know what I mean! She was linking up to Kim Dellow's Art it Friday who has been 'bitten by the Portrait Bug'. Both Kim and Mo had discovered how liberating it is, and how wonderfully you can express yourself by creating portraits! I drew faces all the time I was at school, doodling weird and crazy characters all over my notebooks when I should have been taking notes on crop rotation! I didn't worry too much about how technically 'right' those faces were, I just loved letting my pen move across the paper creating characters. Last summer I took a class in doll making with Mary Jane Chadbourne and that inspired me  to draw again and to use my hand-drawn faces on mixed media creations. I love stories and story-telling and I've found creating my own faces has stimulated my imagination afresh and sent it off in all kinds of new directions.

What kind of journey has my portrait odyssey been? Things happen rather like this. I draw a face either that captures my imagination in a book, or that seems to be hiding in my imagination. I don't agonize too much over it, just let it come. I like to work with a soft sketching pencil and build up layers with Inktense water-colour pencils, sometimes Pan Pastels and then add definition and some doodling with a very fine black pen. My friend, Lyn Tivenan recently gave me the lovely gift of some of her art and an extra fine Pilot pen, which I used on this sketch.

I then scan my sketches into the computer. I am building up a collection of faces, which I can re-size and then print out and use on different projects. Like an actor, one face can play many roles and tell many different stories. This most recent sketch suggests an eco-warrior to me; but some day she might be re-cast as a Nature Spirit; a princess from another planet or even a carnival reveller!

I'm thinking of using her on one of my peg dolls! But she might find her way onto a card like this little character has done more than once. Here she is working as a clown/magician conjuring a lively spring-time rabbit!

I love to try image transfer with my sketches too. I was recently gifted this beautiful Sandra Evertson heart, which I've photographed with some of the masterboards I've been creating for birthday cards.

I wanted to use it to celebrate the Spring and to have a spring-time goddess at its centre. Now that I look at her, I imagine she might be a young nobleman's bride and the heart a gift from her to him on their betrothal. I printed out a tiny image and covered it with a layer of PaperArtsy Satin Glaze. I then placed it face down on some cream coloured linen and painted over the back with more of the Glaze, making sure to avoid air bubbles. When it was quite dry, I gently rubbed away the paper on the back of the image with a damp cloth to reveal a little fabric image.

 I was then able to fix my sketch with some more of the Satin Glaze and seal it with this too. Before adding my image, I covered the heart with  some torn tissue with Grunge Paste stencilling on it to create texture and when this was dry, sprayed with diluted, very watery Fresco Acrylic paints in Wisteria,  Blue China, Hey Pesto and Smurf. I also painted some areas with Prima soft gel medium and pressed tiny beads in. The leaf is a painted charm with a little Treasure Gold gilding paste on it and there are two painted resin flowers and a pearl.

 You can see a little more of the texture created using gilding, gels and Prima Copper Crackle Paste. I liked the texture that the fabric gave, as if the little face were made of canvas. It reminds me of Renaissance artefacts and I now want to experiment more: I should like to decorate more and possibly attach them to boxes or place them within niches.

Thank You so much for dropping by Magpieheaven today to watch me make faces! Enjoy your week and try to go on a portrait journey yourself. You still have time to join Kim here

Saturday 18 April 2015

Peg Doll Winner!

Hello and Welcome to Magpieheaven, Followers and Friends old and new! I should like first to thank those who have followed me over the last two years and say a warm Hello to those who have just joined my blog. On April 4th I celebrated my second year of blogging and offered a decorated peg doll as a prize for the first comment from that day to be drawn from the hat two weeks later. Now the weeks have rolled by and it is time to announce the winner of this little doll that I have created! I started blogging in the spring so she celebrates that season with its new life and greenery.
She is double-sided and this is her other side, which is a reminder to, 'Make art everyday'.
And her sides are decorated with dots!
So who has been picked from the hat? We took Mr Magpie's sun-hat...
and my son assisted in picking out the winner...
Who is - drum-roll - TA DAH -
I believe I have your address somewhere, Sarah, so a peg doll will be winging her way to you very soon! I wonder what stories she will have to tell? Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Three Little Birds! Blue and Words, Dragons Dream TIO.

Hello and Welcome to Magpieheaven! It's been quite a busy time here! Sunday was so much fun at Alexandra Palace, meeting up with friends old and new and creating lots of tags featuring 'Bird-Ladies' - a 'mash-up' of the two Lin/Lynne's stamp designs for PaperArtsy! Now once again it's time to dream with the Dragons! This fortnight it's the turn of the lovely Elizabeth, also known as the Crafty Robin, so birdies still rule at the moment! She has chosen the recipe of 'Blue and Words'. You can see some fabulous inspiration from the rest of the team here. Now blue is probably my favourite colour and just lately we've seen some wonderful springtime blue skies filled with birdsong. I was still in birdy mood so I took a jumbo tag and started to create a blue sky you might find in a magical land!

After covering my tag with a neutral shade of PaperArtsy Fresco paint - Vanilla - I blended PaperArtsy paints in Blue Oyster, Smurf, Mermaid and China. I then stenciled Lin Brown's circles using Lake Wanaka, moved the stencil just a little to the side and then stenciled on top again with Antarctic! I then used a tiny stamp of Lin Brown's with little speckles on it to stamp over my 'bubbles' with South Pacific. There's also some script stamping and some stamping through sequin waste too. So many blues! Because this is a jumbo tag, I wondered, would it be possible to feature not just one, but three birds on it: a chirpy trio?

And here they are! I thought they looked ready to start a little song and dance routine against their blue sky backdrop! I was reminded of Bob Marley's song 'Three Little Birds'. When we wake up to blue skies and birds singing, somehow our worries that seemed so insurmountable on a blustery, grey and damp day, just evaporate. I love the way this exquisitely simple song captures that feeling:
Rise up this mornin',
Smiled with the risin' sun,
Three little birds
Each by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Saying', ("This is my message to you")

Singing' "Don't worry 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be alright."
Singing' "Don't worry (don't worry) 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be alright!"

And this is my message to you! Don't worry about a thing, just get those tranquil, blue paints or inks out, find some words that inspire you and a tag; make sure there's at least one real stamp on your tag and then join us at the Dragons Dream TIO Challenge here!

Monday 13 April 2015

Alexandra Palace - behind the table!

Hello and welcome to Magpieheaven. Sunday April 12th was not the first time I had been to Alexandra Palace - known affectionately as Ally Pally. I think I've been about three or four times now to meet up with friends who love to craft and to take a look at all the latest stamps, paints and crafty goodies available for us to play with. Usually the first port of  call for most of us is the PaperArtsy stand! It has been a love of the quirky stamps and fabulous paints that brought us together. This time, though, Leandra and Mark, founders of PaperArtsy were off to Version Scrap in Paris: Leandra wouldn't be able to make the show herself, so she asked some of us who contribute to the PA blog to have a 'go' at demo-ing the products - we were to be behind that PA desk rather than gazing admiringly on! Nina Greco of Crafting Time in Shepreth allowed us to use her stand to demonstrate the magic of Fresco Paints and PaperArtsy stamps and the wonderful Darcy Wilkinson and Emma Godfrey ran fun 'Make and Takes' using the stamps and paints too.

On Saturday, Alison Hall, Jo Myhill and Gabrielle were in the spotlight! Then the following day it was the turn of Deborah Wainwright, Alison Bomber and myself! It was just magical to hear the 'Oohs' and 'Ahhs' as visitors to the show admired the beautiful colour palette on offer: you can see the lovely selection just in front of me in the tray here! It was a real privilege to work beside an accomplished crafter like Alison Bomber who was so relaxed and who experimented Crackle, Grunge Paste and stained glass effects with such panache and enthusiasm it was as if the visitors had just popped into her craft room to see her at work. As you can imagine, I didn't have much time to take photos - it might be interesting to have some taken from behind the desk, actually! But Petra Berendson took this photo of me in action!

Some friends and visitors took photos of the tags I was creating during the show and I was able to hand out one or two and to give a couple to Nina to display in her shop. The rest I took home to add finishing touches to. The tags are made using Lin Brown's Eclectica stencils and Lin Brown birds and Lynne Perrella ladies. There's also some sequin waste used there.

It's so much fun mixing faces and bodies from the different stamp sets and seeing what you come up with! You can even create your own little hats by cutting up a stamped image like this!

I had some faces and bodies left over so I tried an experiment when I was home: could I introduce a bird on the wing? Her heart is made from cutting a heart shape out of the tail of another bird! The possibilities with these stamps are endless! Could this bird-lady and her tiny companion be having a singing competition?

There was even one of those 'happy accidents' - the stencil ripped some of the tag when I removed it, creating a distressed look, which Nina thought was intentional! Thank You so much to all those friends who stopped by to take a look and to support me on my first try at demo-ing: Lucy Edmondson, Petra Berendson, Lin Shields and  Kirsten Sheridan. Thank You so much for making this such a happy day!

Saturday 4 April 2015

Happy Easter - Two Years of Blogging!

 Happy Easter Everyone and Welcome to Magpieheaven. Today is a special day for me, as  the 4th April 2013 was very first blog post! Leandra Franich of PaperArtsy suggested I give blogging a try, and what a wonderful learning experience it's been! I now know what a Patwit is, for a start! I didn't know if anyone would want to look at what I created, or read what I had to say - I didn't quite know what Followers were, or how you might acquire them! Since then I've learned so much from wonderful artists; made fantastic friends; learned a little about taking photos and a lot about craft blogging! I still feel there's a great deal more to discover and those two years have flown by! And talking about flying, here is the first project I ever featured on my blog!

It was an exploding box from Retro Cafe Art Gallery. I owned some Graphic 45 paper; around 3 or 4 shades of Fresco Finish paint and a very small selection of PaperArtsy and Crafty Individuals stamps! I had seen a box created by Linda Cain and I was just dying to have a go at creating! It was a gift for an old friend who loves butterflies' wings and it still sits on her piano!

On that first post I said that I hoped my blog would take flight, but I didn't know the fun in store! Blogging and crafting have really been two of the best things that have happened to me! I've loved having a chance to create projects through which I could tell a story as well as tiny worlds to escape into...

There have been so many fun projects to get inky and painty with

 and I've received beautiful artwork from friends, like these hares created by the very talented Lyn Tivenan in charcoal and pastels - my next project is to frame these!

And tags and ATCs swapped with friends and followers...

Kirsten Sheridan, Lin Shields and Emma Taylor's work features here. I've discovered the delights of making art dolls; collage; mixed media canvasses and explored the world of crackles and glazes! Now I'm beginning to have the confidence to use my own artwork along with the lovely stamps and digital images available.

 Peg dolls are my current obsession.

These pegs make fun gifts and swaps! I recently gifted the Bird-Lady peg to my dear crafting friend, Lucy...

And this double-sided Elizabethan Lady was a gift to my friend, Lyn,the creator of the hares. On one side we have Hermione from The Winter's Tale and on the reverse, her daughter Perdita. The two little figures suggested the springtime awakening of hope and reconciliation that Shakespeare's play always evokes for me.

As a celebration of two years of blogging I would like to gift one of my clothes-peg dolls to a friend or follower who makes a comment on this blog. I am working on her at the moment so what she looks like will be a surprise. I will pick names from a hat and post here who I have chosen to receive the doll in a fortnight's time.

I should like to say a very special Thank You to all those who have read my blog over the last two years and left such kind and encouraging comments. I would also like to thank all of you in Blogland who share your creativity through your blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Thanks to you I have been truly inspired and visited places I could never have dreamed of!