Hollyhock Heaven Indeed!

This is the stamp I didn’t know I’d been waiting for until I saw it in the new Penny Black release! Hollyhocks are such beautiful flowers. I don’t have any in my garden so obviously I need some on my cards!

As usual I worked in the stamp positioner with hot pressed watercolour paper. I first inked the centres of the open flowers with a dark red zig clean color brush marker, spritzed with water and stamped. Next I inked the stems and leaves at the top of the image with a green zig marker and stamped. I used saltwater taffy distress ink to ink all the flowers wiping ink off where I could see there were leaves. This is a bit of a tricky step but a bit of green in the wrong place can usually be diluted and dabbed off with paper towel. I blended all the petals with a paintbrush pulling the dark red ink into the paler pink. When stamping the lower leaves with mowed lawn distress ink the fence ended up green so I went over that with some hickory smoke ink and a paintbrush. When I was sure the flower petals were dry I added yellow to the centres just like my reference photo. To finish I splattered some green and taffy ink, added a little greeting from the PB ‘how sweet!’ set and tied some twine to fit in with the little fence.

Isn’t this stamp a stunner? I can’t wait to try other colours and pair it with other florals.

Now back to my gel printing class; it’s not going to publish itself!

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Close-up Blooms

You’ve seen this digital stamp once before on my blog but it is much bigger this time. I printed it on hot pressed watercolour paper at a size that would fill the square card front. The set is called ‘bud & bloom‘ and this is just one of the three images in the set.

A bigger image fills the card front beautifully and is easier to colour. I enjoyed colouring this one while relaxing on the couch. I used zig clean color real brush pens which are highly pigmented. I was able to add intense colour to one side of the petals then blend it out with a waterbrush. It is easy to add a bit more ink if needed or add a different colour just by touching the tip of the brush pen to a wet area on the petal. The zig pens are easy to control and mine are lasting very well.

This time I kept the background clean and added a little Penny Black sentiment. If you haven’t visited the Echidna Studios etsy store lately pop over and see what’s new. There are a bunch of new stencil designs ready for cutting from a plastic film for stenciling or from cardstock to add to a card front.

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Printed & Stamped

Now the grass has turned green I am looking forward to gel printing with fresh plants again. I have used some dried ones over the winter and also some I purchased but nothing beats pulling a few grasses, leaves or flowers from the yard to print immediately. On the card above and below I pressed grasses into blue paint on a gel plate, removed the surrounding paint with paper then picked up the whole print with white and yellow.

To turn the printed panel into a card I added stamping with Darkroom Door stamps in a collage style with a dark blue ink and attached the paper print to the card base with double sided adhesive sheets.

I used the same process to create another collage card adding stamping over a feather gel print. The Darkroom Door fine detail stamps once again add to the grungy printed background.

I left the cards blank to be used for any occasion. As you can see in both cards, the gel print isn’t the main feature, nor is the stamping; it’s the combination of grungy background and stamped elements that make these work for me. Depending on the size of the gel printed sheet it is usually possible to add a co-ordinating strip of the print to the envelope as well.

There are lessons on gel printing with grasses and feathers in my soon to be released online Gel Printing Journey class; I can’t wait to invite you in!

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Gel Print Mandala Thank You Card

Gel printing continues to entice and delight me. This brown and burgandy print was done with a mandala mask from The Crafter’s Workshop; it’s called ‘beaded mandala’.

This print is a good example of the bonuses you pick up when you don’t start with a perfectly clean gel plate. If you look closely you can see some tiny remnants of text from an image transfer as well as the more obvious grey leftovers. I chose burgandy for the stacked PB diecut ‘thank you’ because there are some patches that look more burgandy than brown.

This technique with stencils is one of my favourites and is included in my upcoming online class Gel Print Journey. I am excited to be talking about it again despite the months that have passed since I began. I am back on it and excited to release it soon!

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Lattice Blooms

If you have used them you will have recognised at once that this is a brusho background and so is the next card with yellow, orange and red. To create a background like this with brusho you have to be patient and watch the brusho powder slowly react with spritzed water from above. If you don’t spritz enough water the powder stays dry; if you spritz too much water the diluted powders all run together giving you a blended background but not a confetti one like you see here. I worked on a panel of hot pressed watercolour paper and sprinkled brusho sparingly over it before spritzing with water.

The lattice with blooms cut from black cardstock is another image I designed to be cut or printed. So far I have just used it on the cards featured today but I will also be using it as a stencil on my gel plate. The digital file can be found in the Echidna Studios etsy store.

To complete both brusho cards I used sentiments cut from the Paper Rose Studio ‘so extra’ supporting sentiments panels. There are loads of words and phrases to choose from.

The card below also has a watercolour background but this one was done with oxide sprays. I have only recently dipped my toe in the oxide spray pool (just picture that literally for a minute!) With many oxide inks and many many distress sprays I didn’t think I needed the oxide sprays as well. To be clear I only have seven but with those seven I can get some very pretty backgrounds. Because the oxide formula reacts with water it also reacts with other sprays when you layer them. The pigments make them less transparent so the effect is quite speckly as you can see in the close up.

I cut the lattice blooms bigger for this card so it stretches from edge to edge. The card is finished with a Taylored Expressions sentiment strip embossed with gold. Those sentiment strips are still one of the cleverest ideas I’ve seen in stamp and die design.

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The World is a Garden

Do you recognise this set? It is the Darkroom Door ‘Eyes’ set I featured on a journal page a couple of weeks back. For this journal page I used a smaller pair of eyes and also one eye from the closed eye stamp so I could create a ‘wink’!

The background is stamped loosely with four bright distress inks and the DD ‘daisy delight’. When I say stamped loosely I was not looking for complete images so I inked sections of the stamp with a couple of inks then stamped on the journal page. I did the same again with a different pair of inks until I had filled both pages. Because distress inks react so well with water and my pages are cold pressed watercolour paper it was easy to blend the petals with a wet paintbrush. Where the inks overlapped I got some nice blends; there were a few muddy blends but overall look is of a garden bed of daisies which is what I wanted.

No surprise that I did not have the whole design planned out from the beginning so I had to work out the best way to add the eyes without disturbing the very dilutable flowers I had already watercoloured. I ended up stamping them on tissue paper and gluing them down with a gluestick so as to not add more liquid to the background. I also stamped the large letters for the quote on tissue paper using the DD ‘sketched alphabet’ stamp set. Having the eyes and the words stamped on tissue made it easy to play with the arrangement until I was happy with it. The smaller words making up the quote I wrote by hand with a black marker.

The quote is from ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett, a book I enjoyed reading as a child and a parent.

Just a quick question for you, did you try reading the quote straight across the two pages or did you see it went down the left then up to the right? Just wondering because I didn’t even think of both options when I was laying it out.

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As you know I have recently been featuring some designs from my daughter’s etsy store Echidna Studios. They are available as digital stamps/cutting files. What I haven’t mentioned is that some of the designs in her store are designed by me! She has just added a batch of digital images that I designed as stencils but they can also be printed. The circle masked on the card above and the half circle on the second card are from a digital set called ‘turning‘. The beauty of digital designs is that they can be cut or printed in any size. I cut both stencils from Grafix matte duralar using my cricut.

I blended three distress inks through the stencil onto neenah solar white cardstock then added the PB delicate daisies die-cuts and a PB sentiment.

To create the half turn stenciled card I worked on Grafix white craft plastic with three alcohol inks. I dropped isopropyl alcohol and alcohol inks on the panel then dropped the stencil into position. I tried to be patient so the inks would dry and give me a complete impression of the stencil. I did help it along with an air blower and managed not to lift it too early! I splattered a little isopropyl over the top for extra interest.

Once again I finished the card with black elements: the PB daisies and a sentiment strip from Paper Rose Studio. I hope you visit Echidna Studios store and check out the designs there. I will be featuring more in the weeks ahead. See if you can guess which of the stamp sets I designed, they are different from my daughter’s very realistic style. If you are on IG we would love you to follow Echidna Studios there too. And if you do happen to be on Instagram check out Gina Ferrari and see if you recognise anyone among her portraits.

By the way, a while back I showed a sneak peak of a squares stencil I had designed and cut. You can see I used it on the card below and in the video here. The stencil is called skewed squares and it is now available as a digital file in the Echidna Studios store.

Thanks for dropping by today. I hope the sun is shining where you are; it is peeping through the clouds here.

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Birthday Window

I’m a guest on the Foiled Fox blog again today featuring my first card with the new PB set, ‘window’. The window and the ivy are two separate stamps which makes them quite versatile. I wanted to try them together though so I worked in a stamp positioner with hot pressed watercolour paper.

I stamped the ivy first in two greens because a range of greens definitely makes foliage look more realistic. I also added some brown for the stems. As I wanted the ivy to hang over the window and shutters I had to either mask the ivy or do some partial stamping. I did partial stamping, wiping ink off the very top of the window for the first impression then adding ink bit by bit to fill out the sections not obscured by the ivy. Once I had outlines stamped it was easy to use a paintbrush to fill out the rest of the wood around the leaves.

I used a mix of grey and brown for the window frame and speckled egg for the glass and side of the house adding some lines with a marker to suggest paneling. There are more details on the Foiled Fox blog so make sure you visit and say hi.

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Hats Off

As you know I don’t often stamp, draw or paint people but these cute stamps featuring hats called to me and I decided to feature them in a grid pattern, Brady Bunch style. I taped the small Darkroom Door ‘mixed boxes’ stencil to hot pressed watercolour paper to provide the grid. Working in a stamp positioner I stamped the three hatted women in the large boxes and the sentiment from the same set in the small right hand box using Gina K’s obsidian amalgam ink.

I painted the women in their hats first using Albrecht Dürer watercolour pencils, some colouring directly on the paper and some picking up paint from the tip of the pencil. As I had kept the stencil taped to the panel I was able to blend lost shadow distress ink in the spaces to frame the faces.

I’m thinking ‘hats off to you!’ might be a congratulatory sentiment. How would you use a card like this with that jaunty little phrase?

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Darkroom Door Eyes

Are you surprised to see a face on one of my projects? This journal page spread was definitely outside my comfort zone but I am very happy I persevered and brought it to completion. The page began with the new ‘Eyes’ stamp set from Darkroom Door and a pile of gel prints. There are eight pairs of eyes in the set in a couple of different sizes. I chose to stamp the eyes on a pale gel print done with oxide inks and the DD background stamp ‘flower garden’. To help me draw the rest of the face around the eyes I found a magazine face with similar size eyes and that gave me the right scale and placement as I completed the head and features.

Although I like the idea of adding hair I decided to do that on a future project and used some textured wrapping from a bunch of flowers instead. The bright pink helped me choose other gel prints to complete the background collage. You might not see them all but DD background stamps and stencils are featured on most of the torn collage pieces.

I embossed the Spanish tiles background stamp on a bright pink gel print, tore it up for collage and attached a strip to cardstock so I could cut earrings. I also used gold embossing when adding the words. I alternated phrases from the DD ‘you are everything’ set with the new DD ‘made for you’ set.

I worked in my new handmade journal which is 7″x7″. Once I had the facial features pencilled in I went over them with marker then added shading with coloured pencils. I also stenciled some stars over the collage and embossed in gold to give the whole spread more unity. The pink turban was a bit of a challenge which ended up looking a bit more like a swim cap than a turban but you get the general idea don’t you?

I will be using the eyes again both to practice drawing faces and as elements in future journal pages. I hope you are enjoying seeing the new stamps from Darkroom Door; they are always full of the artistic magic and clever ideas of Rachel Greig.

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