Billie’s Craft Room – FREE online workshops

My friend Billie is hosting a series of online workshops, completely free of charge this summer, called Adventures in Acrylics! Be there or be square!

Billie has been making video tutorials for Youtube for a long time now and she’s cool, calm and collected! She delivers her tutorials in a no-nonsense, fun way and has lots of practical advice to share. So, if you’re having a “staycation” this year and want to have some fun with your acrylics, which will only cost you time and materials… here’s where it’s at:


I have an eclectic family and, par for the course, equally eclectic pets. We are competitive, combative, crazy and fiercely loving, so woe betide anyone who upsets any member of the clan! Family comes first in my house – and that includes the dogs, the cat and the parrot, after the humans.

We have, in order of who was first to join our family: Shadow – black British Shorthair tom cat, aged 15 – rescue cat who measure 100cms (39″), standing on his back legs; Thor – German Shepherd Dog, long-haired, very large, weighing in at 38kgs. and 10 years old; Millie-mou – Yorkshire Terrier cross, with a deformed (short) lower jaw (which is why her tongue hangs out on the right side of her mouth constantly), aged 9 years; and lastly, Gizmo – a South African Grey Conure parrot (that’d be the big ones), aged 6 with an ever-growing vocabulary.

For Kim’s Texture Tuesday today….

Your image must contain at least one layer of my ‘and then some’ texture.

Methodology: Pics taken with my Samsung Monte mobile phone – just until I get a “proper camera”!!

“And_then_some” – soft light, 100%; copied – colour burn, 65%

I also used Jerry Jones’s Vintage Bokeh (70%); Frosted Bokeh (76%) and the OMS-4 mask from his October Mask set with screen 100%.

Font: “A bite”

It is very easy to get lost in the wonderful images shared on TT… but so worth it! 🙂

Red – TT

I am loving this journey into textures and layers, learning about Photoshop and what you can do with it. Today, at Texture Tuesday, we are to use at least one of Kim Klassen’s textures and the colour red. I watched “Little Red Riding Hood” starring Anna Seyfried earlier this year, so that iconic cape sprang immediately to mind. Hence this picture:

Image courtesy of D&C Films;

I used – “and then some” with soft light at 100%; copied that layer and used multiply at 76% opacity; I removed some texture from her face and the branches; I then used empty page with color burn at 85%. I added the text and used multiply at 39% after adding shadows and bevel & emboss effects.

Thanks to Kim for such luscious textures. See the other participants’ photos here.

Petr and his dreams…

Do you think polar bears dream? What do they dream about, I wonder… Could it be big, juicy salmon or the thrill of a chase? Or maybe they dream of finding a mate? Dreams are doorways into our subconscious, are they not?

The image is a transfer from a National Geographic magazine, into the dreaded Khadi-paper journal! I used 2 shades of Inktense pencils to colour the background, scrubbed with water and brush (or blended, if you prefer, though it was a lot quicker and less technical than that!!); I had to dry the page with my heat gun as I intended to write on it…

However, having taken a liking to hybrid art and being very protective of my transfers and backgrounds, I decided to scan it into Photoshop and play with Kim Klassen’s textures and layers, which I have just learnt to do!

I used Ugg love – changed the colour to blue to suit my palette – and the painted music texture from the Textures in Ten Class. Thank you so much Kim – you have opened my eyes and taught me to play again! ♥

For The Three Muses – Doorways – this week. And for Petr, and all the other polar bears out there, looking for love…

The wagon lit…

Or sleeper car? Mix that with the rhythm of a train travelling through the night and you get a rocking, almost melodic sensation that lulls you to sleep… in theory at least! I found the image, transferred to watercolour washed khadi papers, in an old National Geographic advert for American transcontinental trains. I liked the gentle, caring pose suggesting excellent service, as the man turns down the covers. At this angle, with the staves in the background, he could almost be conducting music!

It’s a mere flight of fantasy, but… I like this way of creating. It’s very enjoyable to paint backgrounds, transfer a few images and then play with them in Photoshop. I am enjoying the “hybrid” experience, whilst I work on my classes, etc.

Lynn, of Celebrate Green and Green Halloween, has asked me to do a blog interview for them, as I still recycle most of the items I use in collages and recycle my own artwork to make collage sheets, etc., so I shall submit that later this week! Busy, busy!! 😉


I’m taking Quinn MacDonald’s Raw Art Journalling Class and discovering strange things about me, myself and I! Hopefully I am not turning into a stalker, but I have been visiting Quinn’s blog (and a couple of others) very regularly lately. For instance, yesterday I linked to the paper-weaving tutorial Quinn had posted.

Maybe I have been a bit cynical, but I never realised how cool the simple acts can be… I cut up 2 backgrounds I had made – one from the last time I was carving erasers, so on thin foolscap paper; the other was a Fabriano watercolour card that had printed out wrong and thus been used in an experiment with 3D paint -writing (don’t ask!). So, different texture and weights of papers became this:

I didn’t think it’d work at first as the colours are a bit similar, but I swapped them around a bit and taped down the heavier watercolour strips first. They aren’t even, although I did cut them out with scissors, I just didn’t do it too precisely! I then took strips of the lighter-weight paper and wove them through the downward strips.

Of course, having discovered that I have a control-freak gremlin – came as a bit of a shock, actually – I couldn’t just be happy with the weaving, no! I got the black and white pens out and started to doodle… But, I think the weaving is now much better and more appropriate for inclusion in (one of) my art journal(s)!

In my jobs and in my home, I know that I am a bit of a perfectionist. I may not be “Mrs. Tidy”, but I am clean, and fairly well organised; I do tend to be a bit impatient – hate waiting for ‘other people’ to do stuff, when I know that secretly I could do it faster/better myself… so I guess I do have gremlins after all. 😉

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.



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* 🙂