Collage behind Hibiscus and Bluebird

One of my favourite techniques when art journaling is to create a collage background from gel prints, patterned papers, stamping, stencilled texture and paint. Sometimes I know what focal elements I will add over the top, other times I wait to be inspired by the completed collage.

When creating this collage spread in the 6″x 6″ art journal I used gel prints and patterned papers in neutral tones: pale green, beige and browns. I did some stamping with Darkroom Door and Penny Black stamps on kraft paper and over the top of the collage. The focal point is an image from the front of a greeting card. As is sometimes the case, the back of the card featured a smaller version of the same art. I used both on my pages along with some handmade printed paper from a friend. I was very happy with the way the colours worked together and was happy to save and use a card sent by a dear friend. ( I cut the artist’s name from the card and added it to my page.)

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It’s all about the sky

I recently returned to a favourite technique for a couple of card classes. We made a bunch of watercolour backgrounds ready to be turned into cards. This background is one of my favourites. I love the blends and the hint of a sun-kissed hill which just happened as I swiped my watercolour paper panel through smooshed ink.

The pale splats are from splattering water onto a distress ink background then dabbing it up with paper towels. The silhouette flowers are once again from the beautiful darkroom door set, wildflowers vol 1. Often I would use a larger panel or even cover the whole card front. I created this background on a larger panel but trimmed it down to use the best part. That’s why I usually work on watercolour panels larger than I need. By the way we have seen some beautiful skies lately, hope you are catching some too.

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Gardens on gel prints

Another gel print post? Yes indeed, and no apologies. If you have tried gel printing you will know it is a little addictive. Today’s post features cards stamped with Darkroom Door flowers. Some are stamped on clean up sheets, others on gel prints. A clean up sheet is thick drawing paper I keep at the right of my gel plate for rolling excess ink off my brayer. As you can see in the panels above and below I can end up with some very colourful sheets.

I stamped flowers from the DD set’ ‘fine flowers vol 2” and the ‘mesh’ texture stamp in Ciao Bella Oceania ink. The ink is a pigment ink which stamps beautifully on gel prints and dries quickly so I don’t end up smudging it.

This deep red background is also a clean up panel. I am always excited to see landscapes or skies appear in an abstract print or clean up sheet. Those two strips of white added a hint of clouds to a very bold sunset! I stamped the silhouette flowers from the DD set, wildflowers vol 2.

The last two cards are made from gel printed panels not clean up sheets but are very distressed. The print I pulled and cut up to make a couple of garden cards include plenty of distressed texture from a printing session including a little bit of text.

There was some blue in the print so I chose a co-ordinating ink to add the large grassy stamp from the DD ‘nature walk’ set. I’ve said it before it is a favourite set which I reach for again and again. I think I used versafine clair paradise ink.

I was crafting with a friend when I made these two cards and she had a tiny butterfly punch so the card below features a few co-ordinating butterflies. I haven’t seen many butterflies in my garden this year but there have been plenty of bees in the day and fireflies at night.

None of these cards have sentiments on them at this stage, I like to have blank cards on hand to use for any occasion. Thanks for dropping by today; I know it’s been quiet around here lately. I plan to be back soon with more projects and inspiration.

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Off to School journal page

Some of you might recognise the artwork on this journal page. I have saved calendars, magazines, greeting cards and diaries over the years and now that I am creating collages and journal page spreads they are coming into their own. Quite a few years back I saw a calendar featuring covers from Good Housekeeping magazines of the 1920’s and 30’s. I thought the covers were delightful and bought two of the calendars. I enjoyed it during the year then tucked it away for future inspiration.

The calendar images are larger than the 6″x 6″ pages in the journals I am currently using so I chose a painting where I could cut out components and create a smaller scene. I cut the two children and the dog and glued them onto a collaged and painted background. I used floral paper mainly around the edges, blue paint for the background. The fence and cobble stone path were created with texture paste through a stencil. I used a few different Darkroom Door stamps to add vintage details across the page.

I did have to do more fussy cutting than I usually care to but these sweet images were worth it. Once they were glued down I used a black marker to go round the edges of the cut outs and immediately smudged the ink with my fingers or a damp brush. It’s a technique I have seen Vicky Papaioannou do many times on her journal pages. I used a white gel pen to add highlights, another trick from Vicky.

If you want to see what the original artwork by Vernon Thomas, just search good housekeeping magazine with the date I have added to the bottom left corner of my page.

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Alcohol Ink + Masks

I’ve played with stencils and alcohol inks before so it wasn’t much of a stretch to try the same with masks. Masks are basically stencils without any frame around them. The ones I used for today’s cards are homemade from Grafix white craft plastic (also known as white opaque dura-lar).

I used the Sizzix ‘artsy stems’ dies to cut flowers from craft plastic. I also used craft plastic for the alcohol ink panels. I first tried this technique when making bookmarks for a Grafix video tutorial. I used the same funky die-cuts and alcohol inks so check out the video below for the process.

One thing I really like about working with Grafix craft plastic and matt dura-lar (in the final card) is that you can emboss on it. I make sure I preheat the heat tool so I can quickly activate the embossing powder. The craft plastic doesn’t melt or warp if you keep the heat tool moving.

All the sentiments are from Darkroom Door sets (linked below) two were embossed and the other stamped with a new ink from Ciao Bella. It took a while to dry on the craft plastic but I am impressed with the solid matte look once dry.

You can see on this last card I had to come up with a way to attach the semi transparent matte dura-lar to the coloured panel underneath. I didn’t want to use tape which would show so I poked a couple of holes through both layers and sewed the panels together with some silver cord.

All the alcohol ink panels are attached to white card bases embossed with embossing folders for some subtle texture and interest.

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Home is… journal page

The shenanigans continue in my Art Journal Adventures workshops. Last month the theme was collage & texture and the range of pages was amazing. We all chose different papers, colours and focal images but followed a similar method to put them together.

For this spread I relied heavily on my growing collection of gel prints. The little cottage picture is from a greeting card and I used it as a starting point when settling on colours. All the papers you can see are gel prints I made except for one kraft scrap down the bottom with text stamped on it. I added gesso as well as texture using modeling paste through the Ciao Bella patchwork stencil.

During each session of the class it was definitely a treat to walk around and be inspired by the ideas coming to life on all the pages. Some participants had their own stash of gel prints to draw from, others used some of mine. It was fun to see my prints pop up on other people’s pages. I loved it!

This week we are working on Tea and Coffee themed pages and next month it will be texture & movement. If you are close by and haven’t tried gel printing, I’m teaching another introductory class on July 9.

The sweet cottage with sheep at the gate looks nothing like my house! I do grow morning glory but that is about the only similarity. Home is definitely where my people are which means I have two homes very far apart. Although very much at home in Canada I claim Australia as home too, how could I not, some of my favourite people are there!

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Coffee art journal page

I’ve been having a delightful time in my art journals and in the Art Journal Adventure workshops. We have gone in three different directions so far and the next one is coffee or tea themed. You can see an example of a tea themed page on my classes page and here is my first coffee page.

It doesn’t show up in the photo but the red cup is embossed and glossy and I want one just like it in real life! I used distress embossing glaze for both the words and the cup then had to create a visual triangle in red, do you see it?

I am currently not a coffee drinker which actually makes the quote all the more apt for me. I love the aroma! For Christmas I gave my husband a coffee subscription and each month the coffee comes in a cardboard package which smells delightful as does the mailbox !

If you are interested in joining in the art journal adventure please check out my Classes page where you will see the next two sessions or click on the Crop A While classes page.

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Distressed Gel Print backgrounds

Last week I taught a couple of gel printing classes and had a blast seeing others fall in love with the process and results. As you might imagine I have many prints now, a big box waiting to be used. I thought I would use a few scrappy patchy prints as backgrounds. Some of these prints are ghost prints where I pick up a patchy layer of paint left on the gel print after a more distinct print has been taken. I also have some patchy distressed looking prints taken from a damaged gel plate. I don’t know how the surface got damaged but I still use it as a place to roll out paint before brayering on the main plate or to clean off excess paint after brayering on the main plate. The little dots you see on today’s prints are from imperfections in the damaged plate.

On the print above you can see not only the specks of black paint from the plate but also the leftover paint from the border of the plate. Most gel printers love being able to pick up some of those colourful leftovers on a future print.

Both the print above and the one below were made from excess paint so there is very little defined pattern but instead some lovely specks, blends and blobs.

I chose to make cards from these prints not just because I wanted distressed backgrounds but also because it shows how even the scrappy, incomplete, messy prints can be worth saving.

The only colour on the background print above was some black. I used rustic wilderness, wild honey and frayed burlap archival inks to stamp flowers and grasses from Darkroom Door sets, nature walk and wildflowers vol 2.

The ghost print above was pulled with rice paper. When I stamped the purple flowers in versafine clair they soaked through the paper and spread to give the image a halo surrounding it. Although it was an interesting effect I switched to archival inks for the rest of my stamping as they sit of the surface and dry quickly.

I used similar colours to stamp flowers from DD sets, tall flowers and art de fleur vol 1 over the purple ghost print.

The print above was by far the busiest one I used so a bright contrasting colour seemed like a good idea. I used thistle, wild honey and faded jeans archival inks to stamp flowers from DD sets, nature walk and wildflowers vol 2. I also added some text with a stamp from the nature walk set

To attach the cards to the neenah card bases I used double sided adhesive sheets. I added some black and white paint splatter and Darkroom Door sentiments.

If you have read right to the end you are a champion. If you are a gel printer I hope you are inspired to use a few of those patchy prints you might otherwise discard. I have been using them in my art journals but it is nice to see them on cards too and it’s not as if I am going to run out anytime soon!

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Grape Hyacinths

My garden seems to have lost its grape hyacinths; I used to have quite a few that would pop up year after year but I only saw a couple this year.

We had three days above 30°C last week so there is plenty happening in the garden. The crab apple is blossoming and the last of the daffodils are hanging on. I bought some annuals and started filling pots yesterday.

The stamp featured is from the Darkroom Door set ‘fine flowers vol 2’ designed by Godelieve Tjiskens. I inked the petals with seedless preserves and blueprint sketch distress inks then blended with water after stamping. The stems are rustic wilderness distress and the sentiment rustic wilderness archival.

Hope you are enjoying some colour in the world around you; perhaps you’re seeing warm tones if you are in the southern hemisphere.

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Remember when we all had library cards?

I have always loved the library, perhaps now more than ever. I remember as a child having my own library card at the Civic Library in Canberra as well as library cards at school. Filling a library card with date stamps seemed a worthy achievement and then I would get a fresh new card. If only I had kept those cards for forty years later when I wanted to put one in an art journal! I worked in my 9″x 6″ ‘literary themed journal’ for this one not the 6″x 6″ I’ve been sharing a lot lately.

The library card on this journal page I made with a new Darkroom Door stamp, but I’m guessing you already knew that! The new set ‘library books’ includes a library card stamp, two stacks of books, an open book and three quote stamps. What can I say; it’s a delight.

This page was not a delight most of the way through but as I tell the participants in my art journal adventure classes this is often the case. Many pages really do not pull through until the very end. It is an example of a collage page which is what we will be doing in Art Journal Adventure Episode #3. All the dates are listed and linked on my Classes page including a couple of Episode #2 sessions next week.

I began this spread by gluing down pieces of old book pages. If you look at the top right corner of the photo above you will see the aged rounded corner of an old page. It has been become one of my favourite collage tricks to stick the book corners over my page corners then cut away the journal page behind to leave that soft round corner. I did it on all four corners of this page. After the old book pages I added stamping, paint and a couple of photos of books from magazines. More paint then more books using stamps from the DD set ‘bookworm’. I had already stamped my library card, distressed it and set it aside.

The stacks of very old books I made by stamping the DD ‘bookshelf’ border stamp on some gel prints. I cut them out (fussy) and defined some edges and spine details with markers. Once everything was glued down I added splatter and ink blending and some partial stamping with the DD world map stamp. Last but not least a wonderful quote.

I couldn’t end a post like this without asking for a couple of book recommendations. You have helped me before so please leave a recent favourite in the comments below. A few months back I read the first two books in a trilogy and now I am very keen for the third to be published. They were The Lost Queen and The Forgotten Kingdom by Signe Pike. I also enjoyed The Salt Path by Raynor Winn and have The Wild Silence, her second book, waiting for me at the library. I’m in the middle of Roots & Sky by Christie Purifoy which introduced me to her story telling podcast. That’s enough from me; I want to hear from you.

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