Sunday, 22 December 2013

Felt - my new crush!

Okay so it's been a while since I posted, my Dad's been poorly and in hospital again and work has been crazy not to mention the commissions and fairs I have done over the past few weeks and the teacher training course I have been on!

At last this week I finished all my commissions, the fairs have ended, Dad's home, work is a little less bonkers for a week or two and the teacher training is almost finished, phew! what a busy few weeks.

So this week I finally had time to chill and relax, so what did I do? well anyone who knows me well will know that I just cannot sit still so I got crafting! One of my commissions was for some Christmas Stockings, never done these before, but what the heck thought I would give it a go and see what I could come up with. This was the result

and yes you guessed it, I now have a serious crush on felt! so I went and bought a stash of different coloured felt and got to work on designing some felt items for my shop.  First up was this cute needle case, combining both felt and embroidery
Next idea I came up with was for a phone cover, first to design the template.  I started by measuring my I-phone and then cut some card to size (the template is placed on folded felt so the design would be double this size)
Then to the design, I find it so much easier to work only on one 'half' and then cut on a fold, that way I get more even work. Here are some of the designs I came up with (Penguin, Hedgehog, Piggie and a Peacock)

I drew a second image on thin paper for the design and different layers and cut those out - I cut two full front sections, this way my stitching would be hidden and the phone screen protected

Then I used these templates to cut the felt and then laid out the beads and sequins for my design,

To begin, I sewed the pattern layers on the front section first and attached the sequins and beads, this way all my stitching would be hidden by the second front layer and the phone protected.

finally I sandwich the three layers together and blanket stitched all the way around
To finish I embroidered some lines in fine gold thread to add detail and here's the finished cover

Here are some other designs I came up with
So far so good and I have commissions for four in the new year including a dog and cat, so more to come. What next, well santa is bringing me a Zutter Machine which I will be using to make small books and albums, I wonder will I be able to combine that with felt??? maybe I'll keep you posted.  

Meantime, thanks for visting and I'll be back in the New Year so for now 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Serendipity and an Obsession with Dragons

Being Welsh I guess it was inevitable that at some point in my life Dragons would appear in my art or crafts, though not for one minute did I think Dragons would take me on a journey into a style of work I never thought of as coming ‘naturally’ to me.  I have tried many times to achieve the style of fantasy ethereal work I have long admired but have never been very successful, be it flowers, landscapes or fairies they never quite turn out as I imagine them in my head.

The closest I have come to achieving the style I want to achieve is in using alcohol inks and that was purely be accident. Alcohol inks are notoriously difficult to control, and mostly just do their own thing! Though I do enjoy working with them for this very reason. This is one of my favourite works, I just love the way the inks flow and blend together.

Then a few weeks ago my lovely hubby just happened to say he would love to be able to draw Dragons (he does not paint or draw at all). This sparked my imagination and the following day I got out my inks, I didn’t hold out much hope for taming the ink enough to paint a dragon, but I was keen to try.  At first I concentrated on creating the backgrounds and then lightly pencilled in an outline not expecting the ink to play ball, but I was pleasantly surprised and thrilled with my first results. 

I painted a few ACEO’s to see if they would catch the eye of the Collectors. I was thrilled and a little awestruck when they did, the first batch I listed in my Folksy shop sold within a few hours, as did the ones I listed on E-bay.  The second and third batches sold quickly too and I can’t express how much that means to me, selling art is just incredible.  I have also painted Dragons on coasters, bookmarks and done a few larger sizes and to date all have sold quickly.

I found very quickly also that I didn’t need to sketch the outline, once the background was ready and I had the paintbrush in my hand the images just flowed for me and Dragons appear with very little conscious thought, I think at last I may have found the right medium and subject matter to create the fantasy style I always wanted to achieve.

I wanted to mark this serendipitous moment in my artist's portfolio and thought a blog post fit the bill nicely.  So today I painted the fourth batch of ACEO Dragons and took a few pictures as I went along for posterity and hopefully to help other artists who struggle to achieve on paper the image they hold in their imagination, keep trying in different ways is my advice, all you need to do is find the right medium and the right subject matter then relax and let the paintbrush do the work.

Step 1 – I prepared the background.  This was created with alcohol inks on Yupo (synthetic paper).  The size of this is ACEO (2.5 x 3.5 inches)

Step 2 – I use my brush to roughly place my Dragon

Step 3 – I start very slowly and with teeny tiny brush strokes (you can only do tiny strokes with alcohol ink, too much and the ink spreads and does it’s own thing!

Step 4 – I paint the Dragon in stages letting each section dry a little before moving on, this helps to prevent to ink from merging together and spreading too far

Step 5 – add detail 
Step 6 - finish off with fine details

Step 7 - leave to dry and go paint some more.  I usually paint 4 at a time so that I can keep painting whilst they dry in turn.  Here's a few of the others I painted today

I hope you enjoyed reading about my obsession with Dragons, off to finish re-opening my Etsy Shop now that I have enough stock! back soon

Monday, 26 August 2013

August Blog

Well it's been a very long time since my last blog, and a lot has happened since then. I have a new job, my dad has been very ill but is now well on the way to recovery so painting and crafting time has been very limited.  But things are finally settling down and this weekend for this first time in ages I find myself with some free time.  So I thought I would post a blog to help me get back into the habit.

So what did I choose to blog about, well one of my favourite past times - Art of course!  a few weeks ago in the Folksy Forum, I was introduced to Trevor of Century 21 Art.  Trevor is a photographic artist and I love his work and have already added a few to my ever growing ACEO Collection.  Here's a few of Trevor's works to whet your apetite, if you would like to see more of Trevors work simply click on any of the pictures to jump to his shop....

I hope you have enjoyed my little foray back into the blog'o'sphere and I'll be back soon to talk about my latest obsession with Dragons!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Re-Finding Dressmaking

Okay so I am 2 weeks into the new diet and 4lb down, whoo! I’m trying to make sure I stick to the plan by distracting myself with painting, making jewellery and a re-found hobby – dressmaking..... 
After watching the Great British Sewing Bee, I was inspired to dig out and dust off my 20+ year old sewing and over locker machines, they took a bit of dusting and oiling, but I was pleasantly surprised to find they both still worked perfectly, must be several years since either of them got an airing!

I ventured to the local fabric shop, and was both surprised and pleased to find that dressmaking patterns have come a long way since my last pattern purchase (my wedding dress almost 25 years ago!).  I can now buy a pattern that has bra sizes as well as dress sizes, takes the hassle out of adjusting, I love them.  I bought a classic dress pattern and some lovely crisp linen to make a dress with.

Next came the cutting out, this took a few hours as I’m way out of practice I was crawling around the floor pinning and cutting out... ouch for my knees and pin stabs!

As this is an open weave linen I had to overlook all of the pieces before sewing to make sure it didn’t fray and then I started to join the pieces...  So far I have sewn all of the front pieces together and all of the back pieces together and out in the zip.

Now all I have to do is press and then join the front and back together, check for any adjustments and then fit the linings for the arms and neckline...piece of cake I hope! Now all I need is a few more hours in the day to finish.... will post pictures of finished dress soon - wish me luck!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Best Brownies Ever!

Well today is my hubby's birthday and we have the kids and their partners over for dinner tonight, lamb kleftiko is the main menu with greek dips to start, but what to make for dessert.  Having only just joined weight watchers I didn't want to scupper my diet already so scoured the net for something yummy, but decadent without overdoing on the cals.

I happened across a fab recipe for low fat brownies (only 190 cals each).  Well I followed the recipe to the letter and this is what they turned out like - choccie heaven!

When I first came across the recipe I was a bit sceptical as there is one unusual ingredient in there - can you spot it?
 yep that is mayonnaise! your not seeing things!for anyone who loves brownies I would recommend this recipe they are moist rich and absolutely delish! here's the link I'm def going to make then again and would try low fat mayo to reduce the fat even more. Now I just have to resist them until after dinner this evening....

Monday, 25 February 2013

Busy little bee!

Well it's been a busy week between the day job and other exciting things going on. 

First there is an Ink Art Workshop with I am running next weeked, all ready to go now and getting excited.

And secondly there is a new venture, a group of friends, artists and crafters have decided to work together to build our own community site, it's still in the very early stages but so far so good. If you have time we would appreciate your stopping by and giving your feedback and a follow would be much appreciated.

We will, over the coming months be doing more on-line tutorials in a range of arts and crafts, giving out hints and tips and hopefully having a forum for everyone to join in.

Here's what we have done so far..

Have a good day everyone :)


Saturday, 16 February 2013

Alcohol Ink Pendant Tutorial

Alcohol Ink Pendant

1) Gather your materials

You will need:-
A pendant blank (I got mine from Hobby Craft)
Scrap of Yupo* Paper and a scrap of acetate (both just need to be big enough to fit inside your pendant blank.
Alcohol Ink colour of choice.  I have used Cloudy Blue and Orange for this project
Guilding Flakes (tiny amount - optional)
Glitter (just a sprinkle - optional)
Clear Glue (any suitable for use on metal)
Resin.  The one I used is called Crystal Resin a 2 part mix, but you can also buy ready mixed, stocked by most craft stores. 

2) Lets get started

On your scrap of Yupo draw around your blank as a template and trim to fit inside the pendant.  Use this then, to cut the same shape from your scrap of acetate.

3) Glue the shaped yupo into the pendant blank and leave aside to dry, this will form the base of your pendant.

4) Now the fun begins - take your shaped piece of  acetate and first sprinkle on a bit of glitter (if using)

5) now place a few tiny bits of guilding flakes on the acetate - no need to glue but take care not to breath on them!

6) take your selected inks and drop on tiny amounts

Once you are happy with the colours and mix, leave to dry. - Don't worry it will not look much at this stage and what you are looking at will become the back of the finished piece.

7) Take your dry piece and flip it over, set into the pendant blank with a very tiny amount of glue and leave to dry

This is the stage where you will get a better idea of what the finished piece will look like, you can see the now that the white of the yupo both lifts the work and gives a luminosity or 3D effect.

8) Once your piece is completely dry, prepare your resin (according to the manufacturer's instructions)

Depending on the type of resin you use you can either drip, pour or like me use a cocktail stick to place drop by drop into the pendant well. Keep going until the blank is completely filled taking care not to get any air bubbles.

9) Leave aside to cure, follow the resin manufacturers instructions.  The one I use takes up to 24 hours in a warm room 

10) Once cured it's ready to string, thread on a chain, ribbon or ready made cord.   Wear with pride and enjoy the compliments!

*Yupo Paper is a man made synthetic paper but you could use any suitable white paper or thin card

Sunday, 13 January 2013

What is an ACEO Painting?

You have probably seen me mention ACEO’s somewhere along the line and I am frequently asked what an ACEO is. So I asked my good friend Brenda who is not only a fellow artist, but a successful seller of ACEO’s all around the world to give me her take on this subject.

Here’s what Brenda said “For those of you who don't know what they are, ACEOs (or Art Cards Editions and Originals) are tiny paintings that always measure 2.5" x 3.5". The idea came about when people who wanted to collect and invest in art, ran out of wall space to display larger works. They started painting and buying ACEOs which could be displayed in photo albums at an affordable price. Soon the craze swept across America and then across to the UK and Europe. There are now many collections all over the world. ACEOs can be in any medium. The only rule is the measurement. ACEOs are bought or sold unlike their counterpart ATC's (Art Trading Cards) which although technically the same, are traded or swapped. It is great fun to both make and collect these tiny works of art which one day could be worth a lot of money". Thank you Brenda very informative!

Adding in my two penneth as a collector of ACEOs (for I too have run out of wall space!) it’s a great way to create your very own art gallery. Below are some examples of the wonderful work you can find in ACEO format, just click on the picture to go and see what else the artist has to offer.

This first one is, of course, one of Brenda’s. Brenda paints the most wonderfully detailed landscapes in watercolour or acrylic, which is no mean feat considering their size!

The second I have chosen is from Stephie at FlowaPawa Art, it’s done in indian ink, simple but effective and very striking

This next one is from Pat at Phoenix Projects, it’s a watercolour with a striking black background

The fourth one I have chosen today is from Sharon, who creates a lot of texture in her acrylic paintings

Clare Sherwen is my next featured artist. Clare's watercolour and ink animal drawngs arevery popular

Gina paints (amongst other things) fun and funky lighthouses using pen and pencil

Next is one of mine, my current favourite materials are alcohol ink on a synthetic paper
Up next we have one from Natalie Ofkants, who embroiders yarn onto felt
My next choice is from Kelly at Keleverart, many of Kelly’s ACEO’s are collages
My final choice is from Pamela West, who paints the most vibrant and colourful watercolours

As you can see there is something to suit everyone’s taste and budget, so go on and start your own collection! Or if you have never tried to paint one, they what are you waiting for?