Friday 31 August 2007

Wednesday Stamper - Blue (& Planning for a Creative Weekend)

So here is my piece for the current Wednesday Stamper "Blue" theme. It is based on a beautiful blue and white napkin and uses a lovely Oxford Impressions stamp as the focal image.

Thank goodness it is the weekend! I am really looking forward to a lovely relaxing arty weekend as next week I am away on work field trips (and will be covering a lot of kilometres, approximately 26 hours in a car over four days). At least it is a lovely time of year to be out and about in the outback - early spring, before the really hot weather arrives, is such a lovely season here, especially if the wildflowers have started blooming. Maybe I'll even get a chance to take some photos along the way!

I've been reading the Fibre & Stitch Zine that I mentioned in my last post and it is fantastic - full of ideas that I can't wait to try. I love experimental stuff - in my mind, experimental means you have suspended the need for something to "work" - you are just willing to try it and see what happens. Really when you think about it, artistic freedom really depends on experimentation and means the same thing.

So now I am going to go and make my Cupcake piece for this week's "Artwords" challenge.

And to finish here is an extra little "blue" art - some canvas ATCs I made a while back. The text and the checkerboard pattern in the background are uninked stamps which have been stamped into damp paint and which effectively lift the paint off and leave the ghost image.

Thursday 30 August 2007

Fabulous Reading Material!

In the last couple of days I have received some fabulous reading material - firstly, I bought Beate Knappe's "Embellisher Workshop" and then the first issue of the Fibre & Stitch Zine was launched yesterday.
I have only read bits so far but both are really interesting and informative. The Zine, in particular, is a huge 62 pages and has a fantastic array of projects and technique articles and I am sure it will be a great success. If you haven't subscribed yet and you are even remotely interested in fibre/textile art and surface design/embellishment I am sure you would love it. It is really excellent value! I only dabble but I am so inspired by it I want to stay home and play!

Congratulations to Lynda Monk, Sue Bleiweiss, Terri Stegmiller, Carol McFee & Margaret Roberts on your first issue - it must have been a LOT of work! And now we'll all be dying for the second issue to come out!

Last night at Annie's I concentrated on beading my embellisher postcards which I had hoped to finish on the weekend. Apologies to my fellow traders for those - I am running late! So in the absence of anything new and finished to include here, I have included a scan of a canvas piece I did a while back - it is one of my favourites as it incorporates so many of my loves - canvas, napkins, stamping, paints etc.

Tuesday 28 August 2007

Gothic Arch Challenge - School

Tonight I had a bit of a play and came up with my entry for the first of the Gothic Art Challenges - the theme is School. I couldn't resist doing a vintage collage - I've used some Collections and Tim Holtz collage pieces as the main items. The background, which included some stamping has ended up being pretty well covered up. I don't think it shows up much in the scan but the sparkle is from a finishing spray with Moon Shadow Mist in copper. These challenges are going to be fun - I like the idea of continuing to work with a consistent shape/size. I think I will turn the arches into a book once I have enough of them.

Monday 27 August 2007

Think Monday - Think ATC - Metal Art (& my mail today!)

I know, two posts in a row on Think Monday - Think ATC is probably a bit much, but the new theme is Metal Art and I have a couple of ATCs that I previously made that I can post for this challenge in case I don't get an opportunity to make one specially this week.

The first one is totally metal - a wire mesh backing, sheet metal folded to form a tag pocket, stitched with wire and with a rusty old blade inserted (entitled "edges" - the appropriate sub-title would be "sharp" or "handle with care"). The word "edges is stamped with metal stamps and black ink is used to accentuate the letters.

The second one has a stamped background that relies on some Brilliance inkpads for some metallic effects. The circular frame is metal, as are the eyelets and the plumber's tape on the top and bottom is of course metal as well. The screw in the middle is a sticker.

I had a quick trip to Perth today - it seems weird to fly 600kms for a couple of meetings and to be back home on the same day. I had about 50 minutes between the two meetings so, apart from buying a sandwich for lunch, I used the time to buy some healthy dry foods (pictured below - something different for this blog!) that are either unavailable here or over-priced. I am on a bit of a health kick - I recently had a "reminder" about the importance of fibre and wholefoods. The bright green beans are wasabi beans - they are new to me but they looked so vibrant I had to try them!

When I got home I found that I had some lovely mail waiting for me - in addition to the latest Stamper's Sampler (which looks really nice, lots of colour) I had received the Roma Beeswax ATC swap back. The range of ATCs from that swap is terrific and Kimberley Hopkins, the hostess, also sent a really nice beeswaxed ATC "Wedding Veil" along with some arty goodies so I am itching to get creative. My entry was posted here a while back.
Beeswaxed ATC by Kimberley Hopkins

Sunday 26 August 2007

Think Monday - Think ATC - Music (plus bits!)

Once again I am just going to scrape in before the theme changes tomorrow! The current theme is "Music" and my ATC shows two lovers dancing to their own music (or at least in my mind that was this sexy looking pirate and his lady are doing!). The stamp is by Acey Deucy - its a favourite of mine but I don't use it a lot for some reason.

My sister Marrijane has now received her belated birthday gift so I can post a photo of it - it is a Maya Road Vintage Purse Album but I used the pages as affirmation cards. I had a lot of fun with this but it was a lot fiddlier (I doubt that is a real word) and more time consuming than I anticipated. I did lots of background stamping on the pages but the gessoed / colour washed surface just absorbed the inks so a lot of the backgrounds are very subtle. I used some really pretty scrapbook papers for the covers and backs of the pages.

Today I have been playing with my embellisher machine making some postcards for exchanges - I am experimenting with all sorts of fabrics and fibres to see how they react - my favourite so far is layered panne velvet. I'll post some pictures as soon as they are finished. The photo below is of red felt with layers of hot pink and blue organza plus red and black netting - I just love the way the fabrics mesh! I think I will be on an "abstract" bender for a while. I'm still sewing on beads so it may be a day or two before they are all finished especially as tomorrow I have to be at the airport by 7:10am for a day trip to Perth for meetings. Those sorts of days are draining so I need to get to bed tonight at a reasonable hour.

Final thing - there is a new art challenge site starting up today - of course I have to join this as well - have a look if you haven't already - Gothic Arch Challenge!

Saturday 25 August 2007

Nice Matters & Very Nice Mail!

Jo from Artistic Journey has honoured me with a "Nice Matters" Award - this is actually something I really believe is important in the world of the net and blogging as it is so easy to give a wrong impression or to be misinterpreted. Good manners rule!

So it is now my turn to nominate other bloggers who I believe demonstrate that "nice matters" and of course I can think of so many as they are the blogs I am attracted back to. But these are the five I have chosen and I haven't worried about the fact that they may have already been nominated (it just reinforces the point that they are nice!!):

Jo - I haven't met Jo yet but will next May in Melbourne at the Art Retreat (yah!)but we have been in lots of exchanges and round robins though and she is always really really nice and does amazing mixed media art.

Natalie - I haven't met Nat either and she lives in the same state as me but again, I have been in contact with her over the years as a result of various exchanges/swaps. Nat is a very generous sweet person and it shows on her blog!

Audrey - I love Audrey's blog and her art and she definitely shows that nice matters.

Julie - I have only met Julie very briefly earlier this year but her blog and art are always interesting and she demonstrates everything this award stands for.

Nina - Everyone loves Nina and she has been my idol ever since I became familiar with her art through reading Somerset Studio. Doing a workshop with her earlier this year was everything I wanted it to be and I can't wait for the next time in Melbourne next year. Her blog is a very special place.

Doreen Grey's Embellisher Postcard

And yesterday I received my first Embellisher postcard! It is stunning (I love everything about it including the deep rich colours) and has been made by Doreen Grey over on the other side of Australia. I need to finish mine and get it in the mail - Doreen was extremely speedy! Thanks for exchanging with me. The offer still stands if anyone else wants to trade with me.

Last night I attacked a pile of personal filing and the dreaded tax returns so nothing creative happened, so here are a couple more scans of pages from altered books I have done.

Thursday 23 August 2007

So where did this week go?

I know I only had two weeks and a bit of holidays but going back to work this week seems to have resulted in a very short week creatively speaking!

This week could appropriately be entitled major unplanned expenditure week - the new solar hot water system has finally been installed (it really does make sense to spend a lot upfront to effectively use your environment for the next X number of years but the initial $ are a bit of a hurdle to that thinking) and of course two palms and an ornamental tree in the front yard have been pink-ribboned by the electricity commission yesterday so major pruning is required (and the last time we had to take a tree out it was a major shock to the bank account!). Things come in threes, so of course my trusty Canon multi-function printer has died. But at least it wasn't the washing machine this time!

Anyway on the way home from work I decided to get the new printer (I had been planning a print-free zone for a while on the basis that the Canon still worked as a scanner) and decided to go with all the good press the Epson & Dura Brite Inks have been getting. The actual printer is so cheap it is ridiculous relative to the price of the inks but I guess that is the way of things these days. So to cut a longish story a bit short, I have just got the new printer/scanner/copier set-up but it is at the expense of my original plans for the evening!

So to get to creative stuff - last night at Annie's I started my little rust art quilt - I have decided to make myself a small art quilt that celebrates the organic results of rusting. It will be just fabric and hand-stitching (not necessarily quilting) and maybe some beading. I used my new "Snap" frame that I bought at the recent Craft Fair - and I am already wishing I had also bought the bigger size as it works brilliantly and is so much easier to use than the old embroidery hoop (even if so much more pragmatic).

The scans above are of my recent Adirondack Color Wash fabric experiments (perfect I am thinking for fibre ATCs and postcards) - some of the pieces were coloured just from mopping up over-sprays on other pieces and I think I like them just as much! And to finish, here are some scans of a couple of pages I have done in altered book round robins.

Bedtime reading tonight is the latest Cloth, Paper & Scissors which arrived today (thanks to the speedy and very efficient service The Thread Studio provides) plus I have started a Michael Connelly novel. Pity it isn't the weekend - we have had a real springtime feel here weather-wise (yesterday it was 28.5 C or 83.3F and today was just a touch cooler) - I would love a morning outside repotting my hanging baskets and then some afternoon reading in a sunny spot! At this time of year,however, the weather changes quite a bit, so we will have to see what the weekend will bring.

Monday 20 August 2007

Wednesday Stamper (Stitches) & My Mail Today

I have missed the last couple of Wednesday Stamper themes so I was determined to come up with something for this one. The theme is "Stitches". Although I often sew on my paper-based items, this time I have just used stamps. The stitch images are from Nadine Anderson's "andstamps" range and the vintage women are from Paper Artsy (chosen because they look so "stitched up"!). The background is pink acrylic paint with lots of Moon Glow's Starburst Stain in Tiger Lily Red Orange and Moon Shadow Mist in Crow's Nest Copper.

And I survived the first day back at work after holidays - maybe it was because I discovered at lunchtime that my copy of Artful Blogging had arrived! It has been hard waiting for it given that everyone overseas has been buzzing about it for weeks now! Thanks to Jo at Artistic Journey for making sure my copy got to me as fast as possible. The issue of bedtime reading tonight has been resolved.

On a personal front - the new (and hideously expensive) solar hot water system finally got installed today, Zach has soccer matches three nights this week plus Sunday (and that is not counting training on one night), Joseph goes away tomorrow morning for a couple of days with work, I booked my first mammogram today, I didn't get to a bookshop or the library today despite having great intentions and I am about to go make marshmallow brownies as a treat (special request!) for my Edith Piaf loving Zach. I love it when my music choices become cool!

Sunday 19 August 2007

Think Monday - Think ATC - Numbers

This is my Think Monday ATC for the current week's theme of "Numbers" - I am just scraping in before the new theme is announced tomorrow! All of the stamps used are from Julie van Oosten's Collections range and I have used one of the oil pastel backgrounds I made last week. You can't see it in the scan but it has a lovely golden glimmer from the Moon Shadow Mist (Medieval Gold).

Well like all good things my holidays finish tonight and I am back to work tomorrow. Getting a cold has slowed me down a bit creatively but overall the last couple of weeks have been a great break. Yesterday was quite warm and sunny, so in between loads of washing I made several sheets of fabric paper (a la Beryl Taylor), coloured some small fabric pieces with Adirondack Color Washes and painted canvas backgrounds. I also lost several hours in the evening reading "The Divide" by Nicholas Evans. I really like the way he writes and I couldn't stop myself from finishing it, even though my intention had been to make it last a week. So tomorrow on my lunch break I will be off to the second hand book store or the library in search of a good novel.

Today (after attending to domestic duties of the most mundane variety) I have finished my mini clean-up of the sewing and craft rooms so that I feel a bit more organised. I ALWAYS regret starting these clean-ups as they ALWAYS take far longer than I my original estimate and I start to feel as though I am never going to finish. I have probably "modified" what constitutes "finishing" but I have stopped and the rooms look a lot more organised than they did a week ago. Several piles of things have just been boxed rather than sorted but if they are lucky they will be first in line for the next clean-up!

The photos are of various stages in my fabric paper making frenzy. No pictures of the final results - I'll see what I can do about that tomorrow night. I think I have made my paper too firm again compared with the effect Beryl achieves - it will be usable but it certainly isn't very pliable. I obviously need to dilute my PVA glue more but 50/50 just seems so wet and sloppy!!

Here is a photo of the canvas backgrounds - needless to say I was having a bright day! I don't know about anyone else but I find it a lot easier to start a specific piece when my background or the canvas is already started. I guess it is my way of handling the white canvas syndrome. Anyway I find it very relaxing to just splash paint around because there is nothing specific intended at the time I am painting. I have a great big bag of painted canvases "ready" for projects - the initial colour quite often becomes irrelevant as I often completely change it once I am underway.

Friday 17 August 2007


If I have to define my preferences I would say I am usually drawn to vivid colours but at the moment I seem to be equally attracted to pastel shades, especially when it comes to fabrics and lace. The photo above is of a whole pile of beautiful shabby chic vintage and recycled fabrics and bits and pieces I bought on Etsy from Whimsie Dots. Don't they just look beautiful together? They make me think of this beautiful blog. Mandy's packaging is so sweet - all the buttons and small bits came in little fabric pouches and the small box while the fabric pieces came in the beautiful cutwork, ribbon-tied bags. I think I will have to leave the whole lot out as a still life in my sewing room for a while!

These are scenes in my backyard (virtually nothing was visible beyond the fence) and out on the front verge (looking in both directions) at 7:40 yesterday morning. There was 97% humidity - very cold and very misty and I am sure if I had stuck my head outside the house earlier, the mist would have even been heavier. Not quite what you imagine winter to be like on the edge of an inland Australian desert (or at least, not what I expected before I moved here 14 years ago next month).

These next two pictures are for family entertainment - Zach before his haircut just a few weeks ago and then posing for me after Wednesday's haircut. He looks like a different person really and there were noticeable sighs of relief from both Joseph and myself (typical parental behaviour I suppose) when he announced his intentions to "go short" again! We had given up on nagging as that just seemed to entrench his 16 year old desire for hair/independence/free choice!

In amongst other things yesterday I worked on the start of a fibre postcard on the embellisher. The wool fibres are from The Thread Studio and are just beautiful - I love the vibrancy and the lovely feathery effects. The scan below is of the postcard "in progress". I will have to add some beads - I am on a bit of a beading kick at the moment but I am not sure what else I will do with it.

This one (if it works out) will be for Jaslyn, seeing she is largely responsible for the embellisher purchase in the first place, but if anyone wants to do an embellisher based ATC or postcard trade with me let me know as I can see I am going to be doing a lot of these. I have just added my email address to my profile so you can contact me direct if you don't want to do it via a comment.

Today I was planning on making some more fabric paper a la Beryl Taylor and painting my new supply of Lutradur (which it seems I have been spelling wrong all this time) but it is pretty cold outside here today so that may be delayed until tomorrow. I like to do this sort of work outside because I am so messy but I don't want to make my cold any worse, seeing I go back to work on Monday. The Lutradur is also from Dale at The Thread Studio and this time I have bought the medium and the heavy weight versions so I can see what I think of the medium weight one.

And now to finish off, I have been honoured by Jen nominating me as an Inspirational Blogger. I find her to be an incredible inspiration on many levels so it means a lot that she finds my blog inspiring. Last time I piked on nominating five inspirational blogs as I find it so hard to pick and choose, especially when there are so many fantastic blogs out there, including many that I read, some spasmodically and others regularly. So, here are my nominations and I should note that I haven't checked whether they have already been nominated. I have selected a mix of paper, mixed media and fibre artists, some of whom I have not met and who don't know I read their blogs as I am sometimes pretty slack about leaving comments. Check them out if you haven't been there before - they are all very inspiring:

Susan Lenz (love her embellisher work as well as everything else)

Dale Rollerson (Queen of Embellisher, Thread, Fibre & Stitch)

Jacqueline de Jong (my incredibly productive friend in the Netherlands)

Deb Lewis (all sorts of lovely photos and artwork)

Karen Stiehl Osborn (again beautiful photos and wonderful collages)

Wednesday 15 August 2007

My Day...

I don't like to start with a whinge but I woke up this morning with a head cold and an achy body - I hate feeling "off", especially on holidays! Anyway it has meant that I have not been as productive as I was planning but overall it was still a nice relaxed (slow) day.

I finished my first ATC using the embellisher - and wow, this could get addictive! I took a short-cut and used a piece from a previous experiment (first and second photos). I added purple lurex mesh and beautiful Welsh fibres and went wild with the machine. I love the way the top fibres show up on the reverse side in a nice muted way - I can imagine that for some things it would be the side you would choose. I finished this piece by sewing on small seed beads and finishing the edges and it is now on its way to lovely Diana in Ontario. The third photo is the final result and you really can't tell it was lurex mesh that created the shiny effect on one side. I think it is OK for a first effort.

Felt with snippets of fabric and mesh, covered with organza and free motioned stitched.

Sandwich burnt back through top layer (using wood burning tool) and then
painted at either end with various colours of Twinkling H2Os.

Finished Embellisher ATC

I continued working on components of my sister's gift (photos will have to wait until it is finished and posted!) and on a few ATCs as well. I spent ages looking for small images for a jigsaw swap I have to get finished in the next few weeks and in the afternoon when Zach got home from school, we went into town for haircuts and I posted off several arty posts (including one for Peggy which I thought I had posted a couple of weeks ago!).

It was a very cold day here and I decided not to risk making my cold any worse by going to Annie's for our Wednesday evening stamping session - instead I am going to have an early night and finish reading Marlena de Blasi's "Tuscan Secrets" (on loan from my Mum - this is the second in a series of three about Marlena's life and they are just fabulous - a life lived with passion and exuberance!).

The photo below is of lovely fibre ATC from Peggy which I received today (and which made me check whether I had posted mine to her!) - Peggy has fortunately provided me with a translation of the message which goes something along the lines of - "Sometimes you have to open the door to let luck come in". A very timely reminder. Thanks Peggy!

Tuesday 14 August 2007

100 Posts & Other Assorted Stuff!

My pages for Tina's Hexagon (Tag) Book

Well this is my 100th post - I love blogs - reading others and keeping my own. If I analyze why, I think it is because of the wonderful connections I have made as a result of having a blog - for example, connecting up with Kari, Jacqueline, Lynda, Barbara, Peggy, Sephi & Keron (all as a result of blogs!) plus I love the motivation and "accountability" blogging creates for me. It makes me much more aware of how I spend my time and whether I am using my time in a way that I will be happy with (later on).

While I was away I was nominated for a Rockin Girl Blogger Award (thanks Kelsey) and also for a Creative Blogger Award (thanks to Kari over there in Texas!). I am really chuffed on both counts and while I am not going to "pay it on" this time, I can recommend each and every one of my blog links as wonderful creative places to browse for a few hours! Actually I need to spend some time updating them as my list of favourites is much longer than my blog list.

Since I got back from Perth, I have been trying to reorganise my creative space (so I can fit in the new bits and pieces), making a few "Australian" ATCs for the "Wall of ATCs" in Belgium, doing my pages for a Hexagon (Tag) Book exchange, making background papers and trying to finish my sister Marrijane's very long overdue birthday "gift". Oh, and playing with the embellisher of course!! On a non-creative note, I am also trying to come to terms with yesterday's news that we need a new solar hot water system - man, those things are expensive!! Especially after a lovely extravagant week of holidays...

These are my three Australian ATCs for the "Travel the World - Wall of ATCs" -

Colours of Australia - Vineyards, Ochre & the Beach
(Paint chips with stamping, sequins and postage stamps)

These are some backgrounds I have been playing around with today (mostly water soluble oil pastels finished off by scraping Golden Satin Glazing Liquid over the top with a discarded credit card, but one is oil pastels with an overspray of Adirondack Color Wash Spray in Stream, and one is just the Stream Color Wash with Moon Shadow Mist in a gold shade).

And this is my piece of rusted fabric with patina as well. It has benefitted from being left for a full week without interference! I love this and will have to really think how to best use it to accentuate the markings which are a bit more vivid in real life.