Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Snowy Times

[My ability to use my computer is still lacking somewhat, please excuse the sporadic posts until things improve again.]

Friday, 25 January 2013

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Painted Card

Just another quick birthday card! This one made with a similar style painted panel to my Mini Hugs Canvas, using Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic in Ultramarine, Coeruleum Blue and Sap Green, silver poster paint, a sponge and some netting.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Tried and Tested Tip Number 24 [Photo Editing]

Just a small hint this week :)

Do you ever find that you've edited your photos and think they look really good, and then you upload them on to your space on the internet and they look dull, or over exposed, or just not right?

It might be because of the colour of your background.

Let me give you an example. The default image editing background in Photoshop is this mid grey:

 If I edit an image against that background, I will be editing it in relation to the mid grey. If I then wish to present my photos on the white background of this blog, my photos have the potential to look dull (or generally over/under edited). Similarly, if I was to edit them against a white background, and then upload them to a blog with a black background, they have the potential to look over exposed (or generally over/under edited).

The image above (from Rolled Paper Flowers and Paper Origami Gift Boxes) was edited on a white background, and you can see how it looks different against different backgrounds.

So, how to fix this? In Photoshop, you can right click on the background, and select custom colour. For me in relation to my blog, that is simply white. If you need a specific coloured background, you may wish to enter the code for that colour, pick a close match, or take a screen shot so that you can select the colour within Photoshop. It's a small thing, but it could help your photographs shine a little bit brighter :) 

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Birthday Cake :)

Firstly, apologies for my absence this last week - energy has not been forthcoming for laptop use! I have managed a few art projects though, so will try and share them over the coming weeks :)

Anyway, today is my birthday! I don't care how old I am, birthdays are exciting, and a chance to celebrate as much as possible. I LOVE baking, and saw this as an excuse to try two new cake recipes, ombre cake layers, and gum paste work...!

The top tier is made from my new favourite chocolate cake recipe, by Whisk Kid. It is really moist and yummy. It contains coffee, but you can't tell, it just tastes divine; and I subbed the sour cream for homemade buttermilk (milk + white wine vinegar) and extra butter.

The bottom tier is this vanilla cake recipe, by Raspberri Cupcakes. Again, it's lovely and moist. I am still looking for my perfect vanilla cake recipe, though. The bottom tier consists of four layers in ombre shades of orange. I could only snap a photo quickly whilst it was being served, but hopefully you can see!

The cake is stacked and covered with a basic buttercream recipe, then covered in fondant tinted yellow.

The flowers are made from this sugar florists gum paste, which I tinted five shades - blue, green, yellow, orange and pink. All the colouring in the cake was made using combinations of Sugarflair's Navy, Melon and Christmas Red. The larger flowers are cut with these cutters, and the smaller ones with these cutters. I left them to dry in shaped foam and egg boxes to give them a curve, and attached them to each other and the cake with white chocolate.


Friday, 11 January 2013

Mr Skittles [The Giant Sock Monkey]

I may have made a lot of sock monkeys over the years, but I have never made one for myself...

I loved the socks I wore on our wedding day, and knew that an identical pair would make for an epic sock monkey, and with a special meaning.

I used a sewing machine for the long seams of the legs, arms and tail, but handstitched him together [though I cheated slightly and glued the eyes on!] I also handstitched a heart and our wedding date next to his tail :)

Whilst a pain to photograph, his limbs make him feel like an octopus, and he can wrap himself round everything!

I wanted a colourful name for him, and Skittles sprung to mind, hence his name, Mr Skittles!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Pet Portraits - Gilbert the Rabbit Sketch

When I heard recently that a friend's beautiful bunny rabbit Gilbert had passed away, I felt inspired by one of her photographs of him to produce a quick sketch.

I feel so rusty with a pencil in my hand at the moment, but this loosened me up a wee bit, and was also gratefully received :)

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Tried and Tested Tip Number 23 [Rolled Paper Flowers]

I've been going through a bit of a papercraft and origami phase recently... Have you noticed?!

In December, I wanted some simple paper flowers that I could bring together quickly to decorate boxes, envelopes and gift tags. After looking at several different designs and tutorials, I settled on this Pretty Paper Flower Tutorial by Bump Smitten.

They came together really quickly - I simply cut a spiral from a piece of paper/card (no need to draw it), and rolled it up from the outside! It is really easy to vary different sizes depending on the size of paper you cut, and how 3D the flowers are depending on the thickness of your spiral.

I held the flowers together, and attached them to my surfaces, with a glue gun - I think these would be difficult with anything else! The quick drying and stability of it really helps.

They also make really lovely displays, glue-gunned on to sticks and arranged nicely! (I'm also loving using pages from books at the moment - can you tell?!)

These flowers also offer so much variation - with different papers and cards, but also by adding gem embellishments, sponging the edges with paint, or adding some glitter. I am also looking to try this with fabric and felt... Watch this space!

So if you're looking for a quick and simple flower embellishment, I really recommend using this technique :) Super pretty, and effective.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Skirt Refashion

So err, this was meant to be my summer skirt last year! I eventually finished it last October, by which point it became very difficult to get decent photos, due to a combination of the cold dark weather, commitments and health. Well, we were on the beach over New Year, the sun was shining, and the wall at the back of the beach had a beautiful structrual and textural appearance. Whilst we were completely unprepared for photographs, I was wearing my skirt and we had my camera, and what more really matters?!

This was a really interesting project. A few years ago I had a beautiful black skirt made from 75 strips of black fabric, and whilst I intend to make a replica soon, this was a variation and a learning experience! A chance to practise the construction of the strips, without the daunting challenge of a waistband and zip!

The top of the skirt is an old denim skirt, which provided a great base for me to work from. What I didn't realise, is that it is a stretchy denim, and so the frayed edges don't look how I would have hoped!

I added two panels to the denim skirt using black lace, just to add some extra character. I think next time I will add lace to the black strips as I sew them together, too.

I cut 72 strips of black fabric to make the lower section of the skirt, and stitched them all up. This post is getting long, but I will share the patterns for the black fabric, and how to stitch them together later this month :)

I really do love this skirt. I love the texture of the strips folded over and sewn together. I love the extra texture of the fraying (although that wasn't intentional! I don't own a serger, and my machine was rather unhappy at zigzagging edges!) I love the volume the fabric adds to the skirt. I'm excited to make a full version of the skirt now, but I also know just how much work it will be!!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Origami Flower Card

I love this card.

I recently came across this fabric flower tutorial over on Homemade Gifts Made Easy and immediately knew it could work with paper.

I adapted the tutorial slightly as paper responds differently to fabric. I creased each fold using a folding bone, to ensure the petals lay flat. Because of the thickness of this paper, I cut the
"petal shapes" out in the "heart shape" rather than the "ice cream cone shape". To ensure I cut the petals evenly, I cut a small circle shape (for this 6cm flower, I used a 2cm circle shape) to use as a guide. I held the flower together with PVA glue, and applied this on the right side of each heart as well as on the base, to ensure it would all stay together! Each heart also has a folded edge and a more open edge, and I made sure the latter was tucked under, to give a cleaner finish.

I think I'll be making more of these :)

Sunday, 6 January 2013


... and controversy?

I hope your new year has begun creatively! I've been a bit too tired to be doing much, but have had some time to think... I am changing around some of the regular posts round here... The Younger Years is going to be paused, maybe for a few weeks, months, or longer - I'm not too sure. I have more to share, but I'm really not feeling it. Inspire's format is also going to change - instead of being fortnightly, I am simply going to share an Inspire post whenever I feel... inspired! Tried & Tested and Photography will stick around on alternate Wednesdays, though :)

Beyond those simple changes, I have been thinking about the creative world, and my place in it.

Not that long ago, arts and crafts were something special. Something which showed great skill, patience and time. They were valued, and of high standard. Over the years, "crafting" has become more accessible, and this has both positive and negative effects. The positive? I think creativity is a really important form of expression, whether it's writing, painting, crochet, etc... For me, it's a release of who I am, and a place I can spend time with myself. Whist I express specific thoughts through writing, I express my inner being through creating - it's therapeutic. And why shouldn't that be available to everyone?

The negative though... Blue Peter's "here's one I made earlier" was one thing. They took household oddments, and managed to bring them together in ways that people at home never could, to really create some brilliant things. But now... We have large craft stores such as Hobbycraft, where you can buy ready made embellishments to stick on ready made backs, and call yourself a crafter. This "phenomenon" is being powered by craft shows on TV, often featuring "crafts" with very little skill factor. And the internet... Pinterest, blogs, Etsy (think Regretsy!) - all offering similar things. Tutorials about such very basic things. Some basics are necessary - if you've never used a sewing machine, then how to thread a needle is priceless. But how to glue an embellishment on to a backing piece? Really?

I find my inspiration around me. I see something, and an image appears in my mind. I don't necessarily know how to make it, but I work it out. Sometimes I'll look into tutorials, sometimes I will just wing it. Surely that is what creativity should be about? Where's the fun in everyone creating the same things?

I'm getting rambly and not sure I'm reaching what I want to say. There is a world of popularity in the internet. You can become incredibly popular, whilst not necessarily creating anything unique or spectacular. You can also get lost out there - have something amazing to show, but have noone to show it to.

I often think my blog feels quite inaccessible to people. I jump from photography, to crochet, to painting and drawing, and back again within a week. And that's not going to change - I just love creating. I've spent time trying to become more popular, trying to put my work out there, and I still will, but I almost just don't care right now.

I have a to do list staring me down. It is an agonising sight. Some projects have been on there for five years, just waiting for me to be well enough to attempt them. I think I will crack if I can't make progress soon. I am currently trying to choose just one to focus on. If I can make one of these big projects a month, that will be 12 less on the list by the end of this year (although I will probably have added 20 more!)

I want what I share on here to be something special. Something a bit quirky and different. Things which really try to showcase my talent. I am always trying new techniques, and I won't hide those early attempts - we're all human. There will always be amusing mistakes to be shared and lessons to be learnt. But I want what I share to inspire people to try creating more freely. To think for themselves, and break free from some of the unthinking robotics taking place in the modern day crafting world.

I want crafting to mean an array of skill and creativity again.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Printers Cloth - 50 Years!

I was chatting with my Dad earlier this year, and he happened to mention that it was 50 years since he first used a printing press. And what better way to recognise that than with a personalised printing cloth? :)

I've blurred it out on the first photograph for privacy, but round the edge I have stitched my Dad's name, "50 years of printing", and the main places he has been involved in printing and typesetting in that time.

The centre image is "The Compositor", which originally came from a book on the subject by Rudolf Koch. The outline is stitched, and I added the colour by applying black Tulip Gellies with a paint brush. It gives a nice shading without overwhelming colour.

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