A little something inspired by Created by Hand this week. I receive the Quietfire Design newsletter – I love the calligraphy stamps and some of the lovely products too! The red+blue struck a chord with me because I use the colour purple quite a lot.

This is the first art journal (book), I ever made thanks to Julie Prichard!! The only thing wrong with it is the Khadi papers. Great texture, too absorbent for me though, but the edges are cool! I use red and blue a lot in this little journal!

The image is a transfer from a Boots the chemist free magazine. The woman was on one of the “agony aunt” pages, with the lead title of “We talked it out…”, etc. She’s a clean image so I decided to use her for a quickie transfer. I’m taking Quinn’s Workshop – Raw Art Journalling – and I have given myself permission to make RAW art – imperfect art, because I can get very hung up on perfection… No, really, really control-freakishly annoying to myself!!

You see how there are a few spots where I rubbed too much of the image away? Not perfect… I can live with that, because it sort of goes with how “smug” I find articles like that! The speech bubble says: “We talked it all out… we felt a lot better although nothing changed.”

I also enjoy writing around an image, just for fun, to see how the words flow, or not! I drew the little flowers with red and blue Inktense pencils and blended them with a waterbrush.  I also bought a very cheap pack of pens recently -2 black and 1 red – simple gel pens, for 99p, and surprisingly, they’ll write/sketch/doodle on almost any surface! They probably won’t last long because they are so handy!!!

Just one little tip for people who struggle to get rid of the white “fuzzies” of paper left over when you have rubbed to the image on your transfer: Using your finger, apply a very small amount of mineral, vegetable or baby oil to the image transfer and watch the image shine out. It’s “magic” and I must give credit to Bev Wauer and Lesley Riley of the Inkjet Transfers Yahoo Group. I’ve been a member for about 4 years and they are so helpful and friendly! 🙂

Of fabric ATCs and Millie

I have been busy sewing ATCs for the Summer Camp swap. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but it has been quite a while since I made ATCs for pleasure, with just a theme, and not for a challenge. I thought I’d share a few things that I do with these, as it’s such a labour-intensive process.

I use craft or pelmet (heavy-duty) vilene, or interfacing, for the base of ALL my fabric cards. This enables me to “lay down” initial designs without having them slide around a table or cutting mat. I don’t use Misty Fuse, I just stick a couple of pins in and start machine-stitching! I like to cut some fabrics and rip others, for extra texture.  If I’m making a batch of ATCs, for example, this is an example of how it begins:

The piece on the top is a triple ATC, waiting to be cut into 3. It consists of base, fabric scraps attached with white zig-zag stitching and a rectangle of stamped linen in the centre. That bit has been ironed to heat-set the stamped words. On the top is more ripped fabric strips, attached by machine-stitching and a bit of turquoise netting for texture. It all adds to the “touch-factor”. My pieces are always untidy but I do try for a tactile end-product!!

Two things and two people I have to credit here – Belinda Spiwak (Crazy Art Girl) was the initial inspiration a couple of years ago when I first saw some of her wonderful, mixed media, textile artworks. Then, if you apply the same recipe of paper, layers, colour and textures to a card base – no fabric – you get Lisa Vollrath’s “serendipity” backgrounds for ATCs – check out the Ten Two Studios – Projects – website for ideas and tutorials, because she never stops coming up with ideas!!

I did say these were labour-intensive, didn’t I? But, they can be made in stages. The bases for half of these were stitched a few months ago… Above are 6 ATCs awaiting the faux leather, seaside embellishments I have made for each one!!!

I won a set of collage stamps from Shelia Oliver a few years ago (she was decluttering to raise money for a worthy cause) and they happened to be seashore-themed. That fits perfectly for me with the Summer Camp theme – I always equate summer with the seaside! And I chose the colours of my scraps for the sun (golden yellow), sand (oatmeal linen base), and sea (vivid shiny blue fabric) to fit that theme.

The embellishments were stamped onto heated up fun foam, pressed down hard and removed when cooled. I then cut round them and attached them to each ATC (or I will do…!!). I have another issue with neat fabric ATCs – the backing! This time, instead of hunting for yet more fabric and having  to cut bits up, I decided to back them with old book pages. Some of my old books are quite small in page size, little more than a large postcard, so they will make 2 backs per page. They are thick soft paper, stitched into the book-blocks, so they tear really easily…

You can see the serrations in this pic where I have stitched an ATC to the page and then gently torn it out afterwards!! Finally, I print out my ATC labels using a Dymo (address) label printer and stick them to the back. It means that

  • no-one has to struggle to read my writing if they want to get in touch;
  • I can include all the info I want up to about 6 lines
  • I don’t have to write out 14 labels
  • they all have the same info on them!!
Here are a couple that are finished, waiting to be labelled and posted!
Hopefully, you’ll find some of my process useful if not exactly “interesting”!! All the steps I take are the result of research and mistakes. Truly! I never undo anything or unpick stuff – life’s too short. I either add another layer or paint over it! 😉
Speaking of “trial and error”, I took this pic of Millie to remind myself of how she should look after I have clipped her:

Chrysalis emerging…

For Sunday Postcard ArtThings with wings!

This is a hybrid postcard – my altered painted background (previously used in sepia tones); the face I finished painting this evening was sketched earlier this week; and lots of brushes and layers on Photoshop. I also found a great site where I learned how to draw basic wings… HERE.



SPA – summer…

As they said, it hasn’t been very summery here this weekend especially… and laid up with a sprained foot, I have been frustrated by the whole situation. Having said that, I did spend a bit of time yesterday evening, playing with watercolours and drips and stuff…

The background started out more blue in hues, and of course, I have been carving small eraser stamps too! So this piece of paper was the foolscap sheet of lined white that I used to check my carving, that I then painted over!

The fun part was then scanning that into my PC, changing the hues and then playing with a new set of brushes which were presented to us over at Digital Whispers ning group. These are quite advanced files as I only have CS2 and when I downloaded them originally, I couldn’t open them! However, being married to a “web guy”, I offered to share my new toys with him and he opened them for me and sent them back so I could play too! (Doesn’t that sound complex??? Lol!)

So today I made this hybrid postcard for Sunday Postcard Art’s “summer” theme… using a few of the lyrics from Club Tropicana by Wham!

This is my promotional postcard for my new beach bar – Club Tropicana – which will open for business when I have the funds in place!!! 😉

TAW – Wedding!

When I was working with Lisa Vollrath on her DT for Ten Two Studios, we always had some beautiful vintage images to use.

I recently combined 3 small altered frames to make a vintage-style wall-hanging.

I used lots of broken/recycled costume jewellery, scraps of ribbon and lace and the whole thing has a D-ring brass hanger!

Personally I am no fan of weddings – especially when they are outrageously expensive these days – but there’s something so innocent about this vintage couple’s photos, that I enjoy seeing this hanging every day. It’s one of those creations that you really don’t mind hanging onto!! 😉

See more interpretations of WEDDINGS over at Take a Word this week!

Project Denim- part deux!!

Onto the clutch… I cut the bottom seams off the two legs and set them aside. Using half the length of one leg, I cut halfway down each side-seam, as per the photo, turned it inside out and stitched the bottom up. I then did the corner boxing seams to give the clutch shape.

I used hot glue for the side and top seams and covered one of those big wooden beads with denim (hot glued again!) and hand-sewed the “button” to the front of the clutch bag with strong button thread.

It looks a bit odd there but you’ll see how it turned out when reversed and sewn on… I also made a faux leather loop for the closure and attached that to the top flap with hot glue and a strip of denim to cover it!!

It’s really a nice size – oversized clutch bag!! –  but I couldn’t leave it looking so plain, and that’s when the bling box came out! (It’s actually just the same size as one of those plastic takeaway food tubs and there are two of them!! A girl has to do what a girl has to do, right?!

I broke up a smoky quartz and silver wire necklace for the flap. I think it’s a discreet blinging!! All attached with the HGG (hot glue gun!)

Remember those bottom of the leg seams? They became headbands – yes, really, the first 2 headbands…

For the lower one, I wound some “frayed bits” round my fingers, shaped them and glued them to the headband. I then rifled through the bling-box and found the embellishment that looks a bit like a metal flower…

The bigger adornment is one of my shabby-chic fabric flowers made from a single strip of sarong fabric, which was machine-gathered and glued into shape and place. All I added was a glass bead charm, from an old necklace.

Now I really liked those headbands so much that I got the bug and decided to cut the other leg open completely straight along one of the seams. Both of those seams would probably become cuffs, so that was cool. I cut about 2 inches (5cm) down from the top of the leg and ripped the rest of the way down. This produced lots of wonderful “frayings” (for embellishing), and a shabby edge to each headband.

I think there’s a bit of shabby, retro-chic going on with these bands, don’t you? So all I did was tie a knot in each one (round my own head), and then trim the ends the same way you would the end of ribbons. I used the HGG to secure each end to the headband and to attach the blings to each one.

That’s a peek at my table last Friday at the Village Hall. They all think I’m bonkers, but they admire my “vision”!! Using the top of the other leg, I made a different style of headband. I cut the leg into rounds (rings?), about 1-2″ wide and attached recycled fabric flowers to them. These are mostly slightly smaller than the “tied” headbands, so more suited to youngsters, children, etc. the flowers are big. bold, pink and blue!! Here’s a very bad shot of me with the first one on:

That’s my pink ear too! Here’s a shot of them in progress on my worktable:

I’ll have to have a mammoth photo-session to list this lot on Etsy now… but I also made this coiled rope bowl, following a great tutorial I found recently…

And the denim rings! I loved making these! I snaffled 3 coconut-shell rings from my friend a couple of weeks ago and they are fun, lightweight, etc. but they don’t really go with any of my clothes!! So, I had the happy thought of covering them with scraps of denim, attached with my trusty friend, the HGG!

Isn’t that pretty? I slid a couple of pink metal heart charms and a few blue seed beads onto a silver jump ring and attached them to the top of the denim-covered ring. Voila! I made 3 of those (1 of which was immediately nabbed by DD’s friend Beth!) and then had a go at rolling denim rings…

I haven’t tried earrings yet, but I still have numerous scruffy (scrumptious) scraps left over so I’m sure I shall! 🙂





Project Denim: The trials, tribulations & end results!

Okay, I have been banging on about this project for a couple of weeks now and all you’ve seen are a handbag and a cuff… Well now you get to see a lot more! The pair of jeans I used were a teenager’s – size 6/8, (UK size), one size smaller if you’re in the USA, and a 34-36 is the European equivalent, I believe…

*First I cut off the seat (bum) of the jeans, sewed it up and created a strap/handle for it from a length off one of the legs. There are lots of really good tutorials and videos about this type of bag-making, so don’t worry if it’s all new to you, I am no expert but there are many out there. I am just the crazy lady who decided to blog the entire pair of jeans!!!

I know the picture quality isn’t the best, but to show you what I did and how, I used my phone’s camera – and I don’t have an i-phone either!! So this pic shows the seat-bag (affectionately known as the bum-bag!).  Here’s the strap/handle in progress:

I cut a fairly wide strip (about 3-4″), folded over the edges and cut a strip of contrasting (scrap) fabric to stitch to it… pinning first to hold the two parts together, but you could pin and press if you like neat. As you probably know, I’m not really “neat”!

I used a zig-zag stitch to avoid seams and blue thread to co-ordinate, but also as a decorative feature.  Then I had to decide how it was going to attach to the bum-bag…

I chose to thread the strap through the back belt loops in this instance because it wasn’t very long and I like this no-fuss handle…

I then threaded it through 2 of the front loops, took it back to the machine and stitched the strap ends together a few times, to strengthen it. Kept it fairly neat and maintained the “shabby-chic” element, I think!

Looking good so far, and we have a reversible strap too… You could of course, use a pretty scarf for a strap, or very contrasting fabric, but in the spirit of using just one pair of jeans, I chose to do it like this! I just moved the seamed piece round to the double belt loop so that it was less obvious.

Looks a bit “butterfly” or loopy, doesn’t it? That’s another thing that makes it a bit different – more handmade and less manufactured… 😉

Handy pockets on the outside – if you need somewhere to put your linseed oil (just kidding, it was handy to fill a pocket!!)… Tip! Check that the pockets are away from the needle when you’re sewing the bottom seam, if you want them as more than a feature.

Cute and roomy, isn’t it? The possibilities are endless, aren’t they? If you get a very small pair of jeans, you could make them into a stuffie, or a cuddle-cushion, couldn’t you? I’d love to hear/see your ideas too! 🙂

So, the wrist-cuffs from side-seams…. Yes, the lumpy, inside leg seam that is usually serged or finished off and that you’d cut off and probably throw away, makes a really cool wrist-cuff, with a bit of sewing and a hot glue gun. Look!

I trimmed the seams, leaving the frayed edges, cut the entire seam into 4 (more or less) equal pieces and then stitched 2 together, using red thread and a wide zig-zag stitch. Once they were secure, I added the next two pieces in the same way.

In this pic, I have trimmed the sides of the cuff and found a wooden bead to use for closure. Here I am stitching a faux leather loop to one edge, at the back. I then trim this off and using a skinny piece of denim, I cover the edges using the hot glue gun to attach the denim to the cuff. I also used a skinny paint brush to hold things in place, avoiding being burned by the hot glue! (an experience you may not need to go through now…)

See how all the oversewn seams face the same direction (downwards)? Then I covered the other edge in the same way and went rummaging in my broken-jewellery box!

This was the fun part – choosing the bling! My DD wouldn’t have chosen this, but I like it – again attached with the hot glue gun (we are almost best mates now!):

I glued the wooden bead on last and it works so well. I have big old chunky fingers and I can’t bear fiddly clasps, so this was the ideal solution for me!

I am wearing the orange cuff at this very moment – with a beige and brown ensemble – fancy word for pants and shirt – to go shopping! Really, the sky’s the limit when it comes to blinging! Here are another couple of cuffs I made in the same way!

The little face is a saved RAK from a friend which I received over a year ago. Nice that it’s found a place on my wrist!! The backing is the frayed threads from cutting the jeans up – cool huh? Never waste anything!!!!

Right, that’s part 1 done. I still have a clutch bag, several headbands and some denim rings to show you. And, there’s a cut out denim bird upstairs waiting to be sewn up and blinged… Feedback would be great – do comment!! *waves* 🙂

When life hands you lemons…

I was thinking about that this morning, whilst baking in the kitchen. I love lemons. I love their zest, the lemon juice and I have even eaten them whole, like oranges, when we lived in Spain many years ago, picked straight off our very own trees, on the huerto! And of course, then , as my mind does, I thought about “life” in general and the idea of completing that saying… “make lemonade!”

To me, a year ago that would have been just fine. Yes, I’ll make do with that and go make lemonade! Not now, though, oh no! If “Life” has the audacity to offer me lemons, I shall refuse them politely and ask for raspberries, or strawberries, or passion fruit. I mean, if I am going to have a sugar overdose, I’d rather it be from Pavlova, or some fruity scones, or jam – NOT lemonade…

And then, of course, I got to thinking about “women” and our negative body image issues. Especially our relationship with food. I don’t know about you, but I have struggled with weight issues all my life and lost and gained many, many lbs. And it’s so ridiculous, because if I took control of my ‘food issues’ the way I have dealt with whatever else “Life” has seen fit to throw at me over the past few years, I would be in control…

So in the spirit of “handing back those lemons”, today I decided that among all the crap that is spouted to motivate one at slimmers’ clubs, etc. “Eat less, move more” is the most logical. Ergo – for each wonderful cheese scone or muffin that I bake and consume (eaten slowly with great contentment, whilst murmuring, “Mmmm, these are so good!”), I shall exercise 1 minute on the crosstrainer. Kill two birds with one stone – enjoy my food and then get my body burning some fuel!!

Here are some yummy (possibly motivational) photos, of what I’ve been up to today. These little works of art will be thoroughly enjoyed, contain eggs, and are my entry to the Three Muses challenge today. A bit naughty but then, I am calling it a creative way to use eggs in “edible” art!! 😉

** Those are for afternoon tea (and Amber’s breakfast!) And I have already done 3.5 minutes and over 1km on the crosstrainer, so maybe for once, I am taking my own advice… And DD ate 3 of those muffins, so they must be good!  😉

** The website I find all my recipes on lately, is All Recipes (UK & Ireland) and if you click through, you’ll see why I cooked extra potatoes for mashing today!!  I shall make those tomorrow and we’ll enjoy them with salad and ham I expect!

Not Broken… Goo Goo Dolls

This spread is for “A Year in the Life of an Art Journal” (AYITLOAAJ, from now on!) I really missed art journalling and the freedom to just paint this week, so when I played the song on Youtube and it resonated with me, I used it for this spread. It’s also featured on Songs in my Heart, where there’s some amazing art, based on songs and lyrics – go see!

We're not broken, please come home...

Technical stuff – I started with a lemon yellow background (I have a whole tube of that to get rid of, or get over…), a little orange, and then a brayer, some white paint and some reddish round blobs – which became the dolls – and the big yellow bright patch in the centre where my home grew.

The dip pen came out and I even messed up the lyrics! So much for having a good memory… 😉

I used Whispers Brush Markers to colour the hair and eyes and my fave Inktense pencils for shadows and discovered that I could blend them with a waterbrush, even when they’d dried. As I was working through this page on a lap-tray, I had to try and limit what came out of my oversized pencil case, so I chose to work mainly with reds and mauves, the 3 Inktense pencils I currently own, a 9B graphite stick and some Hello Kitty tiny heart stickers for beauty spots! (I blame Barbara for my HK addiction!!)

I have yet to see all the interpretations of this theme, and I’m looking forward to that. My take seems quite literal, but home means different things to different people…

Spikey – in orange!

Introducing another new face in my collection of pretty ladies… Meet Spikey and today, for Theme Thursday, she is resplendent in orange! The original is a sketch that I later painted (last night, actually),  in shades of red. So, today I got to practise in Photoshop, with hues and brushes and I really like how she turned out! Thank you Theme Thursday for pushing my envelope!

I like the magic of the changes of colours when I play around In Photoshop – it’s either dramatic or subtle. Most of the time I overdo things, but I am trying to get better at subtle/soft…

Here are a couple of “before” pics:


I hope that seeing what I have been doing for the past 3 – 6 months has encouraged you to re-use your images, drawings, sketches, etc. in new ways. I have learnt some really useful skills thanks to people like Tam @ Willowing, who inspired me to get Whimsical; Strathmore artists – Pam Carriker and Linda Blinn have now given us 2 free workshops with more techniques and advice; Tammy from Daisy Yellow is a constant source of inspiration and ideas; Traci Bunkers shares her world of handcarved stamps and art journalling; and not forgetting Julie FFB, who started me believing that I could AJED (Art Journal Every Day)!

 There’s a lot out there and it’s amazing to me that I am finally discovering my own style. I like my processes and my ‘madness’ or ‘weirdosity’ because, in all honesty, it’s who I am… Interestingly enough, the fact that I have had to use what I have all the time, every day, and haven’t bought any new art supplies for ages, has, I think, helped in my development. (But don’t tell Nick, okay?!)