Category Archives: Techniques & Instructions

Tipping In to Birds again


A-Bird-in-the-Hand-web  We have a little glitch in the mail and sadly one of our RR journals has not shown up.    While I was waiting, I thought I'd get a bit ahead on my 'tip in' pages.  The next topic, due in December was 'birds, nests & eggs', so I thought this was a great chance to try out another little feathered friend.  My 'hand' is a bit manky – but it IS recognizable as a hand – I must say, I HAVEN'T found the 'Dynamic Hands' book from my birthday books as helpful as I had hoped……it's all a bit skeletal and muscle bound & while it's probably technically perfect, I haven't found it very artistically inspiring or helpful……these pages have been created on hot pressed 300lb Fabricano Artistico watercolour paper.  I painted it with a very light wash of gesso & water.  Then used Neocolour II's to create a 'loose' background of blue sky, mid toned foliage & a sepia foreground.  I stencilled the foreground in acrylics and stamped the sky and the tree line in place in chalk stamping inks. I used acrylics, chalk & pencil to paint in the hand & the bird.  Lastly I did some minor embellishment IMG_1251_resize stamping of leaves & tiny birds in the background.  I am often asked about how I go about these stencils – the trick is in the laying out of the paint.  Firstly I lay out the colours I want to use……..building up a couple of millimetres (1/8th inch) using a paddle stick to spread it down on waxed paper (or freezer or baking paper would do the trick – waxed paper is just cheaper).  I then 'blob' some dark (paynes grey, diox purple, black, umber) and some light (white, yellow, pearl, beige) across my lines. (sorry I forgot to take the second pic) I then use a big sponge & dip lightly into my paint 'bed' – trying not to 'muddy' the colours too much.  Then blot lightly onto my stencil.  You can use blue tac, repositionable adhesive or masking tape to hold the stencil in place if you like, but I usually just manage with my hands.IMG_1252_resize


Organising Your Studio


Main_storage_shelves I thought, today I’d share a bit about my creative space…..a bedroom, turned studio. Whenever other artists come to play, they always comment on how organised things are & how amazing it all is.  My ‘trade secret’ is all about measuring the space that you have, then choose an appropriate type of storage for each of your supplies.  For myself, I prefer open shelving, with clear containers to ‘behind doors’ storage or containers that hide the contents.  Having said that, however, my studio is actually aGeneral_storage_2 ‘bedroom’ so it has a combination of open shelving (that could be removed to make it more ‘bedroom’ like if we ever wanted to sell our home) AND full depth wardrobes.  The wardrobes are a bit of a challenge to keep organised, as they are deep (as you would expect), & the space between shelving just becomes a big ‘black hole’ that things disappear in. The robes are most adjacent to my work table have all my main everyday supplies in them.  Paints, more Moon Glow, Adhesives, Punches, Drawing supplies, etc so when I am working at the table, I can open the doors, fold them back & pull out one of these drawers & use the supplies straight from the drawer.  I must admit – I frequently get myself in a mess & the state of my studio table (despite me prefering it otherwise) is constantly Paints_mediumsin a state of shambles & I hate how messy & untidy it becomes.  In fact, the reason there are not pics of my studio worktable is that you’d struggle to see the tabletop right now!!! LOL!!!!  I figure if I keep my supplies ordered, & I know where everything is when I need it, I don’t care that my work top gets a bit unmanagable.

I have a varity of storage shelving & methods & assess where something is stored according to how much I use it.  This is something that only you can assess & work out – what do you use the most?  What do you need EVERYTIME you art?  What do you use frequently?  What do you use only every now & then?  It’s something that I encounter all the time in my work as an interior designer.  People don’t put things away because their most convenient storage is filled with things that they want to keep, but don’t frequently use. Enter_at_your_own_risk   
The supplies & tools that I use everytime I am in the studio are in a 3 tiered fruit stand I have in the middle of the table.  This includes blades, scissors, bradle, toothpicks, paddlesticks, some paint brushes, spray bottles of Moon Glow & Walnut Ink, distressing sponges, SO the everyday, every session things – right at my finger tips.  Not things you even use weekly, they can be at arm’s length or within view, but not right on your table.  I have had 180 degree hinges fitted to my wardrobe drawers so  that the doors fold completely flat & I can have them open without them getting in the way.  I use a round work table in the middle of the room & a long workbench that has my computer on it & where I sew.   Apart from that I have a kind of modern adaptation of the old tea trolleys that I have put on castors which serves as my cutting bench & I have my dremel on a stand there.  (I have to say though, I haven’t found my Dremel stand that wonderful & I often just use the Dremel at my work table)

A question often posed to me, being an interior designer, is ‘HOW DO I DESIGN AN IDEAL STUDIO…….then usually they list/tell me about all of the ‘design constraits (‘design challenges’) I think you could boil it down to a few simple headlines, & sort the details as per your personal preference.  They would be:


1.  Good lighting, can’t stress it enough
2.  Easy clean floor including floorboards, vinyl flooring, tiles (though these are hard on your legs & cold underfoot)
3.  Temperature control – good heating & cooling particularly when you have extremes of weather for long periods (days at a time)
4.  Varied work surface heights if possible.  I often like to stand when I work – especially when I am painting, I often sit to sort or assemble, but even then I often like to stand.  I have my cutting bench at a higher height to stand at, my central table at table height for sitting at, & to work over & my computer/sewing bench at desk height to sit and work at.
5.  Storage with adjustable shelving
6. Storage containers SUITED to your supplies

NIStamp_setsCStamp_pads_waxesE TO HAVE: 
1. Adjustable height chair
2. Music
3. BIGGIE – still on my wish list – A sink & water supply
4. Old wine rack for paper storage
5. Drawers with FULL EXTENSION runners (sliding mechanism on the sides that opens the drawers) if possible.
6. Places that are purely inspirational – not necessarily just functional (Fairies live on my window sill!)
7. Elves to clean up after you each morning!!! LOL!!!Inspiring_company



V is for Vowels


Vforvowelsweb This week’s Skinny Alphabet Book Challenge is to create an ‘Aged’ effect to plain white paper/cardboard.  To me aged usually either means brown & tattered or rusty….. & I don’t honestly think that this is my best example of ‘aged’ paper – it became a little too muddy & I lost the impact of some of my background stamping when I blotted off the Walnut Ink that sprayed spuriously from the ineffective bottle it comes in.  I usually start by painting the page with Gesso (Gesso is the Italian word for Chalk) Gesso gives a nice chalky texture for other materials to ‘bed’ into.  I usually give it a thin coat, however you can build it up with some texture paste & then rub over it & this can come out really nice too.  Then I use inks, crayons, stamppads, dirt, coffee, tea, chalk – lots of things to create an aged & distressed look.  So as not to make this too long a post, this link will take you to one of my blog pages (Goodies from The ‘Guru – listed in the sidebar) to more info on aging paper & materials in general.  This is for personal use, not to be republished or reproduced in any way, shape or form.

D for Dance – Marbling with Shaving Cream


Dfordanceweb Img_4571_resizeThis week’s Skinny Alphabet Book challenge is using shaving cream as a background. (I already feel your sides starting to lurch with a chuckle)…. NO…. it’s true – we are using PLAIN ORDINARY SHAVING CREAM to create your page background – it even makes your page smell nice!!!  I have found this works best on shiny card, however a different type of card will just produce a different look.  OR if you prefer to have a go & not work straight into your book – you can make it on photo paper & stick it in wehn it is dry.  FIRST shake the can of shaving cream vigorously so that it is really foamy when you spray it out.  Here’s the steps – Squeeze standard variety shaving cream onto a piece of kitchen foil.  Create a ‘block’ of shaving cream a little bit bigger than your page.  You don’t have to make it thick, just enough to press your page into.  Quickly pass a big knife across it to fill in any gaps in your ‘bed’ of shaving cream.  Then drop alcohol ink randomly over the shaving cream.(re-inkers MAY work – I just haven’t tried them)   Swirl it around a little using a paintbrush handle or a paddle stick, so that it is marbled.  (this is the scary bit)  THEN – smoosh your page into it.  JUST smoosh & lift, don’t leave it sitting there.  After you have lifted it out, use a scrap of card or a bone folder, (or Img_4576_resizesomething Img_4581_resize_resizesmooth but not Img_4585_resize_resizesharp) to scrape of the excess cream.  You can use what’s scraped off to ‘fill in the blanks’ if you like, however, it will be a bit different that the original – it will be a bit softer.   As I am incorporating the score from My musical theme – My Fair Lady – I also scraped it over a lazer copy of the words I was using for this page.  Because I was scraping the ‘mixed’ foam, it didn’t have the same initial marbled effect, but was in the same tones to blend into my page.  VOILA – your page is ready to decorate.  As I wanted a dreamy, floaty look of Eliza dreamily dancing around the house, I have used lots of ‘half’ & soft stamping where I only get parts of the image.  The cut outs have all been done on a Cricut machine.   The in-studio pics are in order to show you my progress.  Oh & heads up – it is slippery to stamp onto, so stamp & lift, otherwise it will smudge (not that that can’t be camoflagued!!!  – Look closely at my swirls!  LOL!!!)  Here’s the video clip if you’d like to see it


Gifts from Rosie


A BIG part of my ‘hunting & gathering’ process is haunting op-shops……….in other countries I have heard them called Thrift Shops or Community Chest shops…… in Oz…’s OP-shops………OP stands for Bali_recycled_webOPPORTUNITY……and that’s what I regularly find…….opportunities to convert something that is old & discarded into something ‘ALTERED’ & re-invented.  I always have my eyes open, even as I am walking down the street, looking for anything remotely interesting.  One of my fav. things is recycling old jewellery & finding bits & pieces for use on collage & assemblages.  It is literally a hunt & often there is really nothing much of use.  This time though, it came to me in a bag!  I didn’t have to even seek it out!!! Dearest Rosie has made a huge sacrifice & cleaned out her ‘costume’ jewellery………..& sent a whole bag of bits ‘n’ bobs along to me to do with as I will……. WELL….. here is the first one Rosie…… an old ‘Bali’ relic that has seen better days.  Converted, with the help of my Dremel, Love_letter_webGolden Pearl paints from very ordinary, to stunning with the use of rub ons.   Here are some more of my ‘op-shop’ converts – the pink heart on this Valentine card was a pair of VERY ugly earrings with baubles above the heart.  But it was perfect to go with the ‘Cosmo Only_love_webCricket’ paper I had chosen for Valentine’s Day. More ugly earrings (they are a good scale for ATC’s…….this time I used the pair, each one half of a heart, & used oxide to rust them up.   The ‘nail’ The_nail_in_the_coffin_150dpiin the coffin is a part of my ‘Words of the Wise’ ATC album.  The nail is from a building site we were working on & is hand made & probably well over 100 years old.  I love recycling for art’s sake…… your eyes & you will be surprised WHAT you will see!!!  My clues for successful shopping.  Look at the basic shape & structure of the thing you see.  Can it be changed????  Do you like it as it is???  How could it be altered?????  Is it more interesting in pieces than as a whole????  All weekend I have been working on a piece of Assemblage worked entirely from recycled materials (except for a couple of little details).  At the moment, although ‘she’ is gorgeous in the flesh, I am having difficulty working out a way to scan or photograph her…….but let’s see……..imagine what you could do with:
a book from 1880
some more of Rosie’s discarded jewellery
old pieces of light fittings
& a couple of other bits ‘n’ bobs
I’ll keep you guessing!!!

P is for PIN – Using the Background as a Cue


This week’s Skinny Alphabet Book challenge is to take your background paper as the cue for the page.  it is really helpful to do this in a number of situations.  When you don’t have a lot of time, a busy background can be a timesaver as often it doesn’t need a lot of embellishment.  When you have a busy paper you can often use things that don’t work as well on plain or painted backgrounds – like the silhouette of the dress form that I have used.P_pin_web   On reflection, I wished the Eiffel Tower was straight, but that’s how it is now….

Backgrounds from Everyday Ephemera


Background_1_web We have had a couple of days on holidays in the regional centre of Bendigo, which was actually a quite belated birthday ‘weekend away’.  In truth it is also to take some time out in preparation for the months ahead where we will be very busy at work.  We had a very relaxing time that included lots of sleeping, (for DH), shopping & chilling out.  It was lovely, however, much to my surprise, access to the internet was difficult & I have missed you all.  I had lots of time to fossic in op-shops & old book shops, I found a great new scrapping supplies outlet & a couple of junk yards that made the trip special.  I have bought back some little ‘trinkety bits’ that you will see emerge on my work in the next couple of months.  I have been working on creating some more skinny book pages (it will be a weekly thing) & this week’s is creating backgrounds from everyday ephemera.  Ephemera is a funny word…….but basically it means transitent, short-lived things that last for a day or a very short time.  In everyone’s house, this is something different.  It might be newspapers, financial reports, print outs, but in MY house, it is house plans.  Being an interior designer running a renovation company, we have an endless stream of them.  they are huge, inconvenient to store & become obsolete quickly as the need to have the most recent version is critical so that mistakes and omissions are avoided on site.  I decided some time ago that old plans could be turned into interesting backgrounds sometime ago, but hadn’t gotten around to doing it.   Now I have. 
The picture above has been made from photocopies of hand drawn houseplans.  First I washed over them with an acrylic glaze made from Golden Matt Medium and a tiny bit of Golden RawWhisps_of_life_insert_outside_web_2 Umber paint.  When that had dried I washed them over again with Acrylic Glazing Liquid (Satin) with a tiny bit of Golden Turquois (Phthalo).  After that was dry, I then stamped all over the plans with an assortment of rubberstamps & Staz-On Teal Blue ink.  Once I was happy with proportional coverage of stamps, I then sprayed the whole sheet with the ABSOLUTELY scrumptious Moon Glow mist.  OH YUM!!  It is just delicious!!!  (Moon Glow is a pearlescent spray with an indian ink base – truely beautiful) After it all dried I was then ready to put my newly created ‘background paper’ to good use.
I used this particular combination of products because I wanted the background to show through, but if I was using, say, newspaper, or phone book pages (or old book pages) I might have used a layer of diluted gesso to soften their impact, so as not to take away from the ‘subject’ of the page.  This piece (a little insert in my Ephemeral Moments Journal) is made from old book pages that I have lightly painted over, then stamped.  You could also use watercolours, diluted acrylic paints (remember water will probably buckle the paper), charcoal & chalks (would both need a fixative before you were able to work on top of them)

My house plan background paper made a perfect background for my next skinny alphabet book page………S.  S for Street………..the lines are sung by the love sick puppy – Freddie Eyensford-Hill … I have often walked down this street before, but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before, all at once am I, seven stories high, knowing I’m on the street where you live……..Street_web  As the plans are A1 format (very large) I have photographed the page I used, which has turned out too warm with the lighting in my studio, the pages are scanned & this is a better indication of colour.

Soot & Painty Hands


Background_1_web I was busy tonight creating backgrounds for an new tip in journal with my Artistic Journey group with a Gypsy theme. Yes……my hands are VERY painty….because I JUST can’t help myself, I HAVE to get my hands in that paint…… the blue dye from earlier this week is JUST starting to fade & now I have stains of the lucious Golden Paints Quinacridone/Nickel Azo Gold (almost lumincent brick orange) I haven’t done anything of the Gypsy genre before, so I am looking forward to it.  To me…. a Gypsy world is an eclectic, mixed up world which is a little whimsical & unpredictable.  I thought to use this as inspiration for my backgrounds and tried to make them quite random, both in colour combinations and placement.  I used a variety of tools to apply paints including brush, palette knife, credit card, baby wipe, brayered with paper towel AND best of all – MY FINGERS for a bit of blending & mixing!  Other than paints, I used other bits in it as well like verdigris wax, gold pigment powder, stamping ink pads (block straight on to colour) & pearl paint.  I need to make 9 pieces 8in high x 6in wide, so I just tore long strips 8" high & started painting.  This way each finished one, whilst similar tones, will be different.  THIS is not the finished product…….once I start working adding imagery, I will still work in some other textures & colours, but this is it for now. 

Also, I promised earlier in the week to share with you the techinque of ‘soot’ stamping.  This is NOT my idea it’s one I go from someone else & you are welcome to copy it…….. I am sharing it so that you can have a go as well…….

FIRSTLY prepare a clear area 1. to work in THEN 2. where you can place your ‘sooted’ piece to stamp on. Cut a piece of gloss photo paper about 1" all around bigger than what you want your finished piece.  Light a candle that has the wick protruding above the top & quickly pass the paper back & forth through the flame with glossy side facing down.  Move quickly in & out of the flame & keep the card moving. DON’T touch the card with the wick or the wax.  When you are happy with how much soot is on the card, very CAREFULLY place the card down, soot side upward.  Stamp into the soot with a dry, clean stamp. Use a clear fixative to prevent the soot from smearing.    I used Helmar fixative which left tiny white spots, I believe that Krylon is better, but not readily available in Oz.Background_2_web

The Agony & The Ecstacy of Collage



Coat_of_armsTA DA…… IT IS FINISHED…….. MAILED……. DONE…… with some artisting confidence boosting from Abby when I got stuck & hand, arm & shoulder massages from my daughter, supplies of fresh coffee from my DH…… I have finished my ‘green project’ for  Stampington & Co & it is in the mail. Botanical_tags WOO HOO………big job, I am still agonizing over other things I coulda/shoulda/woulda done, but Abby assures me it is a visual feast. I have been hunting & gathering for sometime in preparation for this project & have had the ‘ingredients’ for sometime.  I put them out to inspire me before I went away AND nothing was coming, then when I was sick……NADA……..NOT a thing………& even when I came back nothing was coming…….I couldn’t believe it because (as I have already expressed) I ADORE green……..GREEN IS ME……….FINALLY it came…..I JUST needed to turn the canvas around (isn’t it always the little things???)…..It is not remotely what I was thinking to begin with, however, it has taken some interesting twists & turns & I am really happy with the outcome………. due to the format I had chosen, it was a really big job AND of course……….despite battling the challenges of a print deadline, there’s always the ‘oh sh……..t’ moments when things REALLY don’t work out the way you’d planned & you have to come up with PLAN B to rescue YOU from your own brilliance (LOL!) SEE EXHIBITS A & B BELOW!Oh_pooo Things were going along swimmingly a few nights ago & my main collage pieces were assembled & glued down & I started my ‘layering’ of textures & patterning…….& me thinks…….hmmmmmm a medieval patterning would look good here……well, gel transfers & me have a checked history…….I only have about a 50% success rate!!!  I LOVE them when they work out…… when they don’t……. I have quite a mess to camoflague!!!  My bird & flower patterning didn’t ‘transfer’ tooTrunk_texture well on to my lazar copied image that well at all – NOT ONLY did it not transfer too well………but it took the top layer OFF my image!!! leaving me with torn white paper in the centre of my image & canvas!!!  FUN, fun, fun!!! OH……….AND I burnt a hole in it layering up the textures!  THAT WAS FUN!!! (although DH didn’t think it was funny being woken by the smoke alarm at 1.45am!).  I am not sure (this being my first submission) what the process is, but I will reveal the whole canvas later, as soon as I know what the protocol is, but for now…… will have to be content with ‘vingnettes’.

Centre_pieceHere is a little sneak peak from the ‘Green’ story……. which appears on the back of the canvas……..
………. he terminated his daughter’s tutors & absorbed himself in educating them.  Mondays was the day for Latin; Literature filled Wednesdays & Fridays. Tuesdays were reserved for Geography & Botany filled the daylight hours of Thursday.

As the Green children matured into sophisticated young ladies they were not interested in societal expectations.  The invitations to parties & balls that bombastically invaded their serene existence were politely ignored.  They had become comfortable & satisfied in their own theosophical company & sought no other.  Father lamented, worried that he had influenced them too strongly in masculine pursuits & that they had suffered from limited exposure of feminine companionship…………..

Never Dull


Hmmmm……I think that could adequately describe my life, but in fact I am talking about the next lesson I am doing in my on line workshop.  This week we are using a product called Nev’r Dull which is a polishing compound of sorts in the USA.  There have been a couple of people allergic & a few people not able to find it, so I have done some experimenting today.Chemicalreactions The idea was to ‘loosen’ the toner from commercial magazine prints to create a background that had been altered by the movement of the ink.  The first thing was to create a ‘resist’ (I think we have WELL covered that one! LOL!!) with glue, once the glue was dry, you then use the chemical or oil or polish over it to ‘alter’ the background.  Original_page_green_web_2The Original_page_web_2two I liked the best were Seasol (which is a seaweed fertilizer…..YES it stinks) and the fine steel wool.   This is cabinet maker’s steel wool, so it is really fine.  I didn’t have any standard type steel wool, that would probably give a more ‘scratchy’ look. The Seasol gave it an antiqued, inked look….overall some interesting results.  The pics below are the pages before I cut them up into ATC’s.  In short, they all seemed to ‘dull’ or ‘illiminate’ the background colour by bluring it. The ones that worked the best were ‘less wet’ ie a concentrate rather than a spray.