Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Variety is the spice of life

I do seem to share all sorts of things on this blog and today will be the same. 

Before Christmas I shared the Santa Claus figurine that I made using instructions from one of the Better Homes magazines. I decided he looked a little lonely on his own so I made a Mrs Claus to go with him.  I didn't use instructions this time, just made her the same way and in a similar style. I have to say I really enjoyed having a go at these small sculptures. I think there will be more in the future.

Don't they make a cute couple?

I am also sharing a few more of the cards that I have made for the 52 card challenge

Prompt - postage. As I am trying to make my stash smaller I found a small packet of stamps I could use. I sorted them into colours and glued them to letters I drew and cut out of cardstock. I put one letter on each side of the same card. 

Prompt - artist.  I used the quote "Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up." I covered the card with gesso and sketched in the image with a brown pencil.  I then used water based markers to add all the colour.  When you use the markers on gesso they stay wet for a while so you can blend them with a makeup sponge.

Prompt - journey.  I roughly painted the card with acrylics, blending one colour into the next.  I then stamped the child and waves on.  I used a flower stamp for the sun, using a circle of paper to mask the middle of the flower when I stamped. I then painted it yellow and added some shading with pencil.  The words are from my scrapbooking stash and I used dylusions white spray along the water's edge. 

I am currently doing a mono-printing class that is taking up a lot of my time. I will share some of the finished work later in February. In the mean time I am also scrapbooking at night and have just joined a new art group. I also have a Jane Davenport workshop in a weeks time.  I will I have a busy year ahead but then isn't that the same every year for every one of us. Life is meant to be experienced after all....

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Inside cover page

I wanted my first page in the new journal to sort of match the colors of the cover because it will show through the transparent cover.

I went through my stash and found these Magenta Stamp Co stickers. They are not the colors I wanted but I can alter them.  I decided to cut off the antennae because I thought they looked a little top heavy. Dragonflies don't have antennae any way.

I used a palette knife to apply gesso through a stencil onto my page. I removed the stencil carefully and let it dry. 

 Meanwhile I colored the stickers with spray. They are cardstock so they colored well. If your stickers are shiny you need to sand them to take the dye inks. When dry I rubbed the Inka Gold over the raised parts of the sticker. I used old silver on the wings and a green color over the body. The stickers are now very different than the original.

My gessoed page is now dry so I used two pink paints over the page and a little bit of yellow spray.  I used a baby wipe to remove some of the color from the gesso so it would stand out more. 

When it was dry I put some washi tape on the page. I used the tape to hold the text in place that was stamped onto a piece of acrylic. I took the backing paper off the stickers and stuck them down.  I used Ice Stickles on the wings to make them sparkle more. That is all I want to add to this quick page. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Easiest how to make an art journal.

Okay I know I have shared a few different ways to make a book lately but this method is by far the easiest of all. It only took me 1 hour to make from the very start to the end. It may take you a little longer the first time but it really is easy.

I started by gathering my supplies. I am using a pad of artist paper for the book pages but you can use what ever paper you like. If you use scrapbooking card you could turn it into a mini album.  I also found these plastic book covers at my local art store. I think they are for a binding machine but I am going to use them for my covers. You don't have to use the same. Card or chipboard covered with paper or fabric also make great covers. I am using coloured duct tape to hold the book together. I have white to use on the pages inside and the colours for the cover. You can use any strong tape, duct or masking but it must be strong or your book will fall apart. Don't be tempted to use washi tape as it is not sticky enough.

I used a score board to fold all the paper in half to the finished size of the book.  I cut the covers to to the same size as the pages.

Next I put the white tape onto the cutting mat and trimmed it to the size I needed. My tape was quite wide so I cut it in half lengthwise then cut it a little longer than the height of the pages. 

I lay two pages back to back so the folded edges are touching and put the tape down the middle to hold them together.  I trimmed the excess tape off  as I go. I then add another page the same way until all of the pages are taped together. There is a close up below.

When I have a few pages joined together it is easier to put the tape onto the stack of pages and turn it over so the tape is down on the mat.  Then you can just add the next page on top of the tape.

When you have your stack of pages it will look like this. You can see the tape inbetween the pages. I don't press it hard together because I want a little of that tape showing when I put the spine on. It helps to hold it together later. 

I add the covers the same way. For my cover I used the pink tape. This will be inside the book when you open the first page. I decided to use one green and one pink cover on each journal.

The book is almost complete now.

For the spine of the book I place a length of the decorative duct tape onto my cutting mat. I folded under the ends to hold it still when I carefully put the book down onto it. The tape sticks to the pages and also that little bit of duct tape we have between them. You know how well that tape sticks to itself, there is little chance of it ever coming apart. If you have a lot of pages you could add two overlapping strips of tape for the spine.

Fold the tape onto the bookcovers and trim off the ends. Your book is done. How easy is that?

My inside book cover has the pink tape for a feature. Every second page has no tape so you can work on a double page spread. This flexible spine means you can open the book up fully. The covers I used are transparent so the first page will be visible later on. 

Enjoy this easy method of book making. I used it for small journals but the options are endless. You can add as many pages as you need. This will be the last book I make for a while. I need to start using all the ones I already have. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mixed media fun.

I have created a new picture to hang up for my calendar this year. It is something I change yearly and this year I used an article from Somerset Apprentice Spring 2013. It is by Kandy Myny, an amazing artist.

The article was done as a larger canvas but I kept mine small and did it on a piece of artist canvas that I cut to size. I had to tape it to my work surface so it wouldn't buckle when I added the gesso.

I coated the canvas with gesso then while it was still wet applied some tissue papers randomly. I used a palette knife to apply some more gesso going over the edges of the paper a little. I didn't cover the whole canvas so it adds to the texture.

I used a brayer to spread acrylic paint onto the dried gesso.   I didn't blend it out too much because I wanted the colours to still be seen. I used green, yellow and warm white.

When the paint was dry I used scraps of paper to make a picture. I like a torn paper edge so I did that on most of the pieces. The houses are cut out with scissors. I lay everything out so I can see how it looks.

I used gel medium to glue everything down. You can see I have moved things around a bit. I also added birds, doors, windows and more trees. I originally had the roof shapes like Kandy does in the article but I decided I liked triangle roofs more. We all have our own ideas and it is always ok to change art.

I used more acrylic paints to go over the collage pieces. It helps to unify the piece and add more colour if needed. I wanted more of the pink/purple color.

Finally I used a neocolor crayon to outline everything, smudging it as I went. I used a Stabilo Marks All pencil on the finer details. I removed the tape and hung the picture up. I will enjoy looking at this for the next year.

This is the calendar. I used one of those boards that has a metal on one half and pin up board on the other half. The calendar squares are scrapbooking papers and numbers attached to magnetic paper. Each month I move them to the correct date. I also have a few holiday squares like the one you can see here for Australia Day on the 26th. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

52 Card challenge

As I am doing less classes this year I am able to take part in more challenges. I like challenges because they inspire while allowing me to create in my own style. I have decided to do the 52 card challenge organised by Kelly Hoernig. The idea is to make one card per week for the whole year. It should be easy to keep up.
If you are not familiar with Kelly's work she has a blog at 
Kelly has done a video explaining the challenge on Vimeo at
You just sign up to the facebook group and start making cards using the given word as a prompt, then load them up to facebook so everyone can admire your beautiful work.

The first week has the word 'box' as a prompt. I am starting off the year using quotes to inspire the art. I say starting off because I may not continue using them all year. A woman is allowed to change her mind, lol.

I am using a deck of jumbo playing cards that I had in my stash. I can't even remember why I bought them but I think I was going to use them for scrapbooking. I am glad I didn't now because it probably would have been a pretty horrible scrapbook page. I have used Mod Podge to glue tissue paper to one side of the cards. I used any colour I could find because it will probably be painted over anyway.

When the back had dried I painted the other side with gesso. I sanded the card first to remove that layer of plastic that cards have. It helps the gesso stick better. I tried using a cheap gesso first but it wasn't sticking well so I switched to a higher quality gesso.  It went on smoother and gave me better coverage. I did all 52 cards to save time later in the year. They did curl up when I gessoed but as they dried they went flat again.

My first card was given a coat of Adirondack acrylic called Pool. It was all one colour so while it was wet I brushed on some white paint and blended it into the aqua. I didn't blend it all over so it looks more interesting. 

When it dried I did the same on the tissue paper side. This one had yellow tissue paper that you can still see a little of around the edges. Some of the tissue paper was scrunched before I glued it down so there is a bit of texture.

I used scraps of paper to cut out crayon shapes. I made the box with two pieces of paper.  I folded the back to look more real and glued it down. Then I glued the front box shape on leaving the top curve unglued. You can't see it here but I put a few scraps of paper into the fake box to make it 3D. I used pens to add shadows, outlines and highlights. Notice how the crayons go off the card. I think it makes the image more interesting to look at.

The back of the card has the quote I found at quote garden that inspired this card. I wrote with a marker than outlined with a fineliner pen. I added a few white pen highlights and a border.

This first card is done. I won't be sticking with one particular style all year. I want to experiment a lot. Come and join in the fun. You don't have to be an established artist, beginners are welcome.  The group is very friendly and supportive. I like that.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Making an Art Journal

As promised I have simplified my method for making a journal. I have used blank paper for this one but you could still use pages you have already painted as I did for the previous journal.

 Collect all your supplies for your journal. I have 20 pages of 300 gsm (140lbs) watercolour paper but you can use however many you want and whatever type of paper that interests you. I am going to glue them back to back so they will make 10 thick leaves of the book. I also cut 10 pieces of cardstock or the same watercolour paper to use for the hinges. I don't measure width (about 2 ins) but I do make the height the same as the pages. I cut two pieces of card the same size as the pages to use as the covers. I have used the purple paper to demonstrate a different hinge later on. Normally I would have them all the same color unless I wanted to match the pages like I did for the Life Book.
 I have scored two lines down each hinge piece. I try not to put it exactly in the middle because I want the hinge to be longer on one side. You can see I have scored one piece with a larger gap so I can add something bulky to that journal page and the book will still close flat. You can choose how much room to leave between pages depending on the type of journaling you do.

 I line up all the pieces with the long side on the right so I can glue them together. The only one that is different is the first hinge. I put the long side on the outside to attach to the cover.

 I now start gluing the hinge pieces together, one long side attached to a short side. This means that the two pieces are not forming a ridge between the pages when the book goes together.

When all the pieces are glued together you have the spine of your journal complete. As you glue try to align the pieces where the score marks are so the spine is flat on the back.

 Now I glue the cover into the first hinge on the left. I also attach the first page to the right hand side of this first hinge. I try to line up the pages with each other as I go.

 I now glue the second page to the back of the first one. This means the hinge is hidden in between the pages. I keep going with the other pages and hinges until I glue the back cover into the hinge and the hard part is done.

 This photo shows how much of the hinge shows when the book is open. You could choose to have colored hinges if you want.

This photo shows a different option. Instead of hiding the hinge between the pages you could put the hinge on the outside of the page and leave it showing. This would look great if you wanted to add writing along the hinge for each page (if the hinge was light colored) or you wanted a decorative element to your pages.

This is the first part of the journal finished. Now we get to have fun adding covers and strengthening the spine. I like the cover to be the same size as the pages so when it stands upright on a shelf the middle of the book rests on the shelf as well as the covers. Most published book covers are slightly larger than the pages but it puts a strain on the binding when you stand the books up.

 I decided to use this self-adhesive material I had in my scrapbooking stash to cover my book but you can use any fabric or even paper that you like. I thought the original was a bit bright for me so I painted the fabric with copper and blue paint and let it dry. The material is no longer adhesive so I used gel medium to glue it to the covers.

 I folded the edges over to the inside and glued them down. On the back cover I trimmed too close to the corner so there is a gap that will be seen. I didn't want to redo it so I used the same paint to colour the card that shows. On the front cover I trimmed a bit further away from the corner so there is no gap.

 You can see I left a gap along the spine edge of the cover because my cover didn't quite fit and I knew the floral piece of material would cover it later. That was a little mistake and I should have covered up to the edge of the spine. I cut 2 pieces of scrapbook paper to cover the insides of the cover. The floral piece of material will cover the spine and a little of the covers as well.

 You can see there is no gap in the corners here because I cut away from the corner when I trimmed the cover.  I have ironed the spine fabric so all the edges will be hidden.

 Here I am making sure the spine will be covered by the fabric.  The arrow is showing the problem I have made because the cover didn't go to the edge of the spine. When I put the floral fabric on there will be a bit of raw card showing.
 This is my solution.  I ran a piece of fabric tape from my stash along the inside cover and over the exposed ends. That will look neater. I could have used washi tape instead or even a scrap of the cover fabric. I admit I am a bit of a perfectionist, lol.

 I used PVA glue to stick the floral fabric to the spine and around onto the covers. This is the strength of this type of binding. The fabric stops the hinge tearing apart with use. It also looks pretty.

This is a closeup of the spine with the fabric glued on. All the gaps between the score marks get glued to the fabric and that is the  strength.   I place the glued spine on a teflon craft sheet so it doesn't stick.  I leave it to dry overnight, standing on its edge so it sticks. The book is now finished if you want or you can add decorative stitching for added strength. 

 I am using an awl to punch holes for the stitching. I used a chalk pencil to make lines so the holes would be straight. I can rub the chalk off later.  I made two rows of holes so I could sew either crosses like the previous book or straight lines. Using the awl to make holes before you stitch is easier than trying to go through the card with a needle.

 I decided to use straight stitches this time. You can use any thread you have for the stitching. I like it along the edge of the floral fabric so it holds the edges down permanently. The PVA glue also makes the spine a lot stiffer so it seems very strong. You can add beads or other decorations to the cover as well. I am going to leave this one as it is.
 This type of hinge without card along the spine means your book will open flat no matter where the page is in the book. Have fun with this and use whatever supplies you have on hand. If you make a book leave a link in the comment section so we can all see your wonderful work.