Monday, 28 September 2015


I could not miss out these beautiful reflections that I saw on my walks around Birmingham city.  Few words, the photos speak for themselves.

Sunday, 27 September 2015


I love trying new ideas and so I decided to make a door hanger for this months That Craft Place design team project. I have several Crackle Glazes in my collection, but wanted to try one by DecoArt as this is applied as a top coat rather than between layers of paint like my others.  All products used are available from That Craft Place and I will provide a supply list at the end.  

 To start I took the mdf door hanger and gave it a background coat of Nougat PaperArty Fresco Chalk paint.  I then used stencils to add further colour and detail, using Black Dress and Chocolate Pudding paints of the same range. 

Once dry I chose mdf shapes from the Male grab bag collection and placed the cogs and other shapes into position to create a face. I marked the position for the eyes and used a PaperArtsy stamp from my collection.  I'll take this opportunity to apologise for not taking more photos of these stages.
I got so absorbed that I forgot to pick my camera up and I know some of my friends will be shocked at this since my camera is usually in constant use!

I then painted the cogs, moustache and the arrow using the Black Dress, making sure all the visible sides were covered.  Once dry I added a coat of DecoArt Crackle Glaze on to the cogs.  I was interested to see the difference between other glazes I have used and once dry I noticed it created small cracks, which suited the size of the cog.  I brushed a thin coat of DecoArt Antiquating Cream into the cracks and removed the surplus with a damp cloth.  I left the moustache and mouth plain black to give definition. 


I glued the 'face' pieces into position using DecoArt Matt Medium.  Once dry I used the same product to cover the surface as this would provide a seal and finish.  I decided I liked the way this crackle glaze worked and I will be experimenting with other ways of using it.   As the door hangers come in packs of two I am looking forward to decorating the next one.  Maybe one for Halloween?  Talking of which, my last project was a set of wobbly haunted houses.  If you missed this there is still time to make your own!
MDF Door hanger (comes in packs of two)
MDF Male Grab Bag 
PaperArty Fresco Chalk paint in colours: nougat, chocolate pudding and black dress
DecoArt Crackle Glaze
DecoArt Antiquating Cream
DecoArt Matt Medium
Stamp from PaperArtsy range for eyes

As mentioned all these items are available from That Craft Place
There are lots of other designs in the MDF range and a good
selection of masks and stencils, mediums and paints.
To see more Design Team projects pop over to TCP Blog and why not enter this months Mixed Media challenge?  You'll find details how to take part and lots more ideas too.  Thank you for popping by and I'll be back next month with another project. 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015


If you read my posts you will know that I recently visited Birmingham and stayed with my blog friend Bernice. We travelled into the city for three days to attend a Book Art course and while we were there we discovered The Hoot owl sculpture trail. You can read more about these here:

Book Art Course
Owl Hunt

I love city breaks and discovering new and interesting places. Birmingham is no exception and I was amazed at how up and coming it is. There are huge structures that reach into the sky, with surfaces that reflect and distort, the old and industrial, and the canal. But rather than tell, let me show you, because in order to do the trail
we had to explore the city. And before I start, you might also be interested in these posts if you missed them:

The Cube
The Pen Museum

I loved this last building.  Bernice had reservations.  But what ever your opinion, I think you have to agree that Birmingham is an interesting place to visit with lots to see and do. 

Saturday, 19 September 2015


In my previous posts here and here I showed two books that I made during the Summer School.  Today I thought I'd share some another technique that we used - eco printing.  I have used plants before to create prints but not in this way, so I was excited to see how easy and effective this was.
Alice had collected a wonderful array of plant life and also encouraged us to go outside to forage.

But first she demonstrated the technique:

We folded a sheet of thick cartridge paper in half lengthways, then in half again, and again. Then we unfolded it and in between the folds we placed leaves, petals, and onion skins. 

Finally we secured the folds together using bull dog clips. With the paper tightly folded and bound we put it into a bath of green tea to soak thoroughly. 

Then it went outside under cover with all the other pieces that we had prepared..... 

Skip forward to day three! 

It takes time for the plants to do their magic and because the layers are so thick and wet patience is needed. Finally Alice gave the go ahead for us to open our pieces! Imagine our excitement!

There were squeals of delight as wrappings were removed.  Some of the fabric and paper was still wet so this was hung on a line or laid out on the path to dry. Luckily the sun was shining and it is best to allow natural drying process, but in some cases desperation took over and we used sources of heat to finish of the drying process.  A heat gun, iron or even hair dryer would do the trick but you have to be careful if your paper is embossed or you want to retain the textures. 

Here I am unwrapping mine:
Did you notice the string and label on my wrapping? Well I liked the way they took on colour and I went on to use them on another project linked at the start of this post. On other eco-plant prints we used string as a binding. When removed I discovered this left marks which can add to the design.  But I digress! 

I need to unfold...

 And here is my finished print.   I especially loved the effect of onion skins and when I am in the kitchen I will save all these in future so that I have a ready supply. 

Another technique we used was printing with ink and a brayer. I decided to fill in some of the white space using found items such as feathers and leaves, and because I didn't want to use the holes in the way I originally planned I cut these off. I also cut my page into  strips and stitched these together to make one long strip.  Alice's love of needle and thread is catching! 

I glued the strips of holes onto some of the pages as I liked the detail they added. I plan to add further stitching too, to add texture to the prints.  And I am thinking of adding some text, handwritten, perhaps following the contour of the print...


But for now I am letting the ideas germinate because like the eco prints, these are sometimes best given time to develop. 

I will be using this technique often in future and love the idea of creating prints anytime, anywhere. All I need is paper, plants, and something to bind them. Oh!  And a mug of tea (no milk thank you!)  

I still have more from the Summer School to share but I have other posts waiting too.  So I hope to see you again soon, thanks for popping by.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015


I'm back to share more about the Summer School and if you missed my previous posts you can find out more here and here. As I love making handmade books I thought I would share another that I made. 

Again I painted a sheet of thick cartridge paper with green tea and covered it with rusty objects.  This time instead of using tissue paper I covered it with a piece of cotton fabric.  As before this produced 2 designs in one process.  Don't you love that?!

And here are the resulting pieces:

The cartridge paper

The fabric.
I have put this aside to use for another time.

If you are a regular visitor to my blog you may remember that I went to the Shetland Islands earlier this year.  I took over 4,000 photos and the promised posts are slow coming as I still feel daunted by sorting these out and knowing where to start. There are SO many memories and stories, but that is for another time and I have not forgotten.  But the reason I mention this is because this rusting
effect reminds me of my trip.  Lots of my photos are of rusted objects (yes I know some people take scenery, and I took those too!) and leaving home I selected a few of these photos and printed them on to tracing paper.

I loved the rust print on this cartridge paper so when Alice Fox suggested we experiment with simple book folds I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I had made this structure before and knew these photos would be perfect, so instead of a sample I went straight in to produce a finished book.  And here it is, one side of the paper folded and cut:

 And the other side:

Below is the cover, when the book is folded. 

I need to add a title and I will continue to work on this book a little more. I may add a few words or a poem and this is my usual style of working.... make a start and then let ideas germinate. Often the book directs and I follow.  I love how sometimes I do not know the outcome until it reveals itself. 
On to the cover I have glued a piece of a photo.  Remember it is printed onto tracing paper?  The transparency allows a blending of background and image and if you look close you might be able to make out a section of a large  bollard on a quayside, used for tying up ships and boats.  This is meant to be Bookart rather than a book of photos.  It may feature in an exhibition of my work in November but that's another story so more about that another time.

On the back of the printed side I have glued more photos.  I love how the book forms interesting shapes....

 And when you fold it, you can turn the pages.  See - it is a book!

In the last photo you can see a better image of the bollard shown on the cover.  As mentioned earlier this is a book structure that I have made before but I enjoyed the opportunity to experiment with the design and develop new ideas. There are still more posts to come... did I mention that this Summer School was amazing and that I came home with a bundle of books and printed material to work on!
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