Checkered Bookmarks

For a change and because I’ve seen a few beautiful stamped and painted bookmarks lately, I decided to make a few of my own. My preference is always a very flat bookmark. I have had fancier bookmarks over the years with layers and lace but I like the book to close nice and flat over the bookmark. These ones are one layer of hot press watercolour paper without even the raised surface of embossing.

I taped a piece of watercolour paper to my glass mat using washi tape and the grid on the mat to keep the tapes even as they divided the panel into three strips. I blended distress inks through the Darkroom Door small checkered stencil onto the panel, two colours for each strip then blended more ink to fill the spaces. I chose a different theme for each bookmark but used reading quotes from the Darkroom Door ‘Bookworm’ set for each one. (all the stamps and inks are listed below)

After painting over all the images with distress ink I used a black pen to darken the edges and a white gel pen to add highlights and dots.

I am always keen to hear book recommendations so feel free to leave them in the comments. Last time I asked several readers suggested authors who were new to me that I ended up reading and enjoying.

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Butterfly art journal page

My art journal is a place where I experiment with new techniques and mediums. It’s also a place for taking ideas further after making a card or creating a gel print. For this butterfly themed page I experimented with layering. I don’t find layering easy so it is a good technique to be playing with in my journal. You can’t see all the layers clearly on this page but there are layers of rice paper under gesso as well as on top of it.

Another technique which I am just beginning to play with is sewing on cards and mixed media pieces. Rachel Greig from Darkroom Door is a master at it and provided loads of inspiration during her recent Artful August challenge. I have tried sewing on paper with my precious Pfaff sewing machine but it didn’t like it so a few weeks ago I bought a second hand machine especially for sewing heavy and unusual materials. The machine is an old one but it is very sturdy and hums along beautifully.

I began by tearing up a large gel print done on rice paper. It featured diamonds on one side and stars on the other, both patterns made with large Darkroom Door stencils. The colour scheme was blues, reds and gold. I glued the torn pieces around the edges with gel medium then painted over them with diluted gesso. After the gesso dried I stamped a few butterflies then added more gesso over the top.

I spritzed over the pages with a faded jeans and broken china distress sprays, only enough to add a bit of speckle here and there, not so much as to cover the colour and pattern underneath. I stamped more butterflies from the DD butterflies set in colours similar to those in my gel print patches.

Once the stamping was done I sewed borders around two pieces of gel printed rice paper then glued them on the pages. I stamped, cut out and glued down sentiments from the DD wildflowers vol 1 stamp set.

Oh, and I stamped the DD French script stamp a couple of times on each page in gold to co-ordinate with the gold on the gel prints. Not a ton of layering or sewing but I am learning how to paint over background layers just enough to make them fade but not so much that they disappear. I realise looking at these photos that the gel print on the left looks like a pocket… it’s not but that’s an idea for another page.

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Artful August Home Journal page

The fun and inspiration continues in Rachel Greig’s Artful August challenge. I am so impressed and inspired by what I have seen. Rachel’s own art has been beautiful and unique every single day. As I mentioned in my last post I have not participated every day but I have definitely enjoyed the times I have followed the prompts. Today’s prompt is ‘Home’ and I decided to make an art journal page of a street.

Make sure you read to the end of this post to find out the winner of Summer Giveaway I hosted with the Foiled Fox.

None of these quirky houses look anything like my home but I have had thirteen different homes over the years so I wasn’t going for realism, instead I wanted to create more of a neighbourhood feel. Once again I cut up gel prints to make the houses, trees and flowers. I particularly like the gel print trees. The one on the left was printed with bubble wrap and the one on the right features texture from three different stencils which ended up giving me leaves and a branch to hang a swing on.

I began by masking the top and bottom edges then used blending brushes to fill the sky with blue distress inks and the road with black soot ink. I cut all the shapes by hand not worrying about perspective or scale and glued them on with multi matte medium. Once the glue dried I drew around all the edges and added detail with with a black ultrafine sharpie. I added markings to the road with a white sharpie paint pen.

Thank you to everyone who entered the Summer Giveaway by telling us your favourite summer activity. I enjoyed reading about beach walks, mountain hikes, picnics, porches and time spent with friends. I hope you are all still enjoying those pastimes. Summer is not over yet! Congratulations to Stephanie Clapper, check your email for your gift certificate to the wonderful Foiled Fox online store.

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Honeycomb & Checkered

New stencils from Darkroom Door means new gel prints in my stack! I used greens, teal, beige and gold paints to print with the new honeycomb and checkerboard stencils. For the second card I used a mix of blue, beige, gold and coral paint for a rich print.

I used the stencil printing method demonstrated in this video and worked on printer paper with a 6″x6″ gel press.

After completing a fresh stack of gel prints I chose these two because of the beautiful mix of colours and textures. I pulled out Darkroom Door feather and wildflower stamps and stamped them over the top of the prints. I decided to emboss using co-ordinating versafine inks to make the images stand up a little over the print.

I chose sentiments from the DD sentiment strip stamp and embossed them to pop up over the stamped and printed panels.

Ever since I started gel printing with stencils I can’t get enough of the intricate detailed ones. These two new ones from Darkroom Door are very cool and create such great backgrounds!

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Gel print cityscapes

Yesterday was coast line, today we are back to the city. I hesitated before sharing these as I am still experimenting with the technique but I think these two panels are good representations of what I am aiming for.

These panels are quite large; they are printed on rice paper from a 12″x18″ pad. My gel plate for these is 12″ x 14″ so it was tight on the edges and sometimes I didn’t get it lined up exactly. With gel printing not getting things lined up exactly is part of the charm in my opinion. I initially bought the rice paper for painting but it was the perfect size for large gel prints so I tried it and liked it.

My technique for both these panels was the same. I began with a two or three colour base layer then every time I printed over the top I lay rectangular pieces of thick magazine paper over sections of the panel to mask ‘buildings’. Some of the rectangles had little squares and rectangles cut out; I used the Waffle Flower ‘color combos’ dies for that.

The tall panel has gold stars in the sky created using the Darkroom Door large ‘stars’ stencil but other than that I didn’t add texture to the layers. I plan to do more of that as I keep experimenting.

My plan wasn’t to make one rather dark and the other light but that is what happened. Both feature gold paint but in the lighter one it has showed up as a sheen in the photograph and distracts a bit from the ‘buildings’.

The process is enjoyable but takes some planning and thinking because any surface that I want to preserve has to be masked on the next and subsequent layers. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes not, but I’m still happy with these abstract cityscapes.

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Vintage collage card

A friend commissioned me to make a ‘vintage’ themed card recently and I happily pulled out a bunch of Darkroom Door stamps to do so. You can see the pocket watch stamp managed to feature three times but the French script, global postmarks, and gerberas also contributed. I stamped, blended and painted with two brown tones of distress ink, two blues and a black. (all the supplies are listed below)

To begin I smooshed some speckled egg and antique linen distress inks on a glass mat, added water swiped the panel through the diluted ink. After that the gerbera background stamp became part of the base layer in speckled egg distress ink. I layered the other stamps over the top in tea dye and antique linen inks and blended some speckled egg ink through the DD diamonds stencil. Of course there is splatter, watermarks and extra blending to darken the edges. To add a dimensional feature I die cut several stems of flowers with the Penny Black ‘shall we dance’ die, some are from watercolour paper, some from tan cardstock and a few from paper painted with salty ocean ink and stamped with the DD gazette stamp.

Almost finished, I added a strand of twine around the base and tied some tiny tags on with stamped PB sentiments on them and some little wooden stars I found. I was pretty happy with all this vintageness but decided to risk some gold paint. I splattered and added it to the tiny stars and heart, the flower centres. Where it worked best though was unevenly painted along the edges of the square panel. You probably can’t even see it clearly but it ended up being one of my favourite parts of the card.

By the way there are yummy new stamps on the Darkroom Door website. You will see them here soon, a few are winging their way here as you read this! Have a great day.

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Stockings are hung

When I was making knitted panel cards a few weeks back I thought I should create a knitted stocking card at the same time. I also decided to try and make at least one, but hopefully more than one Christmas card each month. Usually I don’t feel like making Christmas cards after Christmas but I’m happy to right now so I made this little stocking and hung it by the chimney with care.

I stamped the Darkroom Door knitting pattern in versafine clair ‘glamorous’ ink, embossed in clear powder then painted over it with festive berries distress ink. I cut out a stocking with one of the Penny Black Christmas Stocking dies. To fill the stocking I cut foliage from watercolour paper using the PB layered wreath set then coloured the die-cuts with festive berries, pine needles and ground espresso distress inks. The stocking needed a bit more trim so I cut out a white cloud shape to and blended some brown ink around the edges.

To create a chimney I used a stencil and a stamp from Darkroom Door, the woodgrain stamp for the mantle and brick wall stencil for the bricks. I worked on hot pressed watercolour paper for both so I could blend distress inks and add watermarks. I stamped the wood with ground espresso archival ink so it wouldn’t blend then painted and blended ground espresso, black soot and rusty hinge distress inks over the top. I blended the same three distress inks through the stencil then spritzed some water over it before lifting the stencil. I blended some of the bricks with a paintbrush and added some black soot splatter.

The mortar around the bricks looked too white so I blended antique linen ink over the whole panel and used some to blend above the mantel too. To finish of the card I added a gold bow and a sentiment from the DD Christmas sentiment strip stamp.

So that’s one Christmas card done so far in 2021! Do you make Christmas cards all year?

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A Day at a Time journal page

This page is in one of my Fabriano art journals. I’ve mentioned before that I have a love/hate relationship with these journals as the pages are not really meant for watercolour and I always want to do watercolour. I can’t bear to quit though because there are quite a few completed pages in the journals and I want to get to the end.

I began this spread with some inspiration pages open on my Pinterest ‘journal‘ board but no real plan; I was after a look but didn’t have a theme. I rarely use my distress stain sprays as sprays; I usually paint with them but this time I taped the edges of the pages then put the book in my recycle paper box and sprayed with vintage photo, faded jeans and wild honey spray stains. I then sprayed some water but as I mentioned, this paper doesn’t act like watercolour paper so the stains didn’t blend and move.

Next I added some texture with modelling paste through the Darkroom Door diamonds & handwritten script stencils. Once that dried I blended round the edges of the pages with faded jeans, vintage photo, wild honey and black soot distress inks which highlighted the added texture. I was happy with my chosen colours but still didn’t know what the focus should be. I coloured some strips of sheet music and added Darkroom Door ‘plaid’ and ‘sheet music’ stamping here and there.

Initially I wanted to use the pocket watch and the teacups so I stamped them in vintage photo and swiped them through diluted inks to pick up colour as well as adding colour with a paint brush. Once they were painted and cut out I clear embossed the clock face three times with high gloss embossing powder to look like glass and used normal clear embossing powder for the cups.

To brighten up the centre of the double page I ended up spreading white absorbent ground over the strips of sheet music and out towards the edges. Then began the longish process of turning the page into a composition. After much rearranging I realised that the tower of teacups and the pocket watch need a third element so I tried a floral piece then just a single shelf (stamped with DD woodgrain background stamp) and finally realised the ‘book spines’ stamp would probably work again. Honestly I’m not trying to put that stamp in every single journal page. Even with the books it still took a while to balance the layout and come up with some words. I finally decided on ‘one day at a time’ stamped on the shelf with the DD alphabet medley stamps. As Vicky Papaioannou often does on her amazing art journal pages, I finished with both black and white splatter then removed the masking tape before gluing down my elements.

It’s nothing like my initial inspiration photos on Pinterest but it did give me some good practice at adding texture and layers to my art journal, two things I don’t find easy. I only have one of my art journal pages on youtube as there is so much humming and ha-ing as I work out what I want. If I cut out the pondering parts is an art journal page process something you’d like to see in a video?

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See you soon

Just popping in with a couple of cards carrying a couple of messages for you. I hope your new year is off to a good start; I am still enjoying the beauty of an array of Christmas cards sent from around the world, thank you my creative friends for brightening up the midwinter days.

I made today’s cards from a gel printed panel done several months ago. I can’t remember the paints but you can see there was definitely orange, aqua and black. The panel I cut up is shown below, most of it included distinct or faint stars made with the Darkroom Door small starry night stencil. Along one edge there were two very distinct feather prints made with real feathers.

I ended up cutting a square which included one feather, leaving me one for another project. I also cut a rectangle covered in colour and texture which became the base for die cut letters and stars. I chose gold cardstock and gold embossing powder to add some brightness and shimmer on top of the dark background featuring a ‘scripted bold sentiments’ stamp from Pinkfresh Studio, alphabet dies from MFT and nesting star dies from We R Memory Keepers. I popped up the letters and the stars on black foam which kind of makes them appear to be floating.

I wanted to let you know I am taking a short blogging break so I can devote some time to planning and prep. I will be working on projects to share with you over the coming months. Ideally I would have done this before I stopped for Christmas but that didn’t happen so I’m doing it over the next week or so. I have lovely ideas and projects floating round in my head, I have a little stash of stencils and stamps that haven’t been out of their packets and some new release products from Penny Black on the way.

It has been a while since I devoted time to gel printing, alcohol inks, stenciling and lettering so that’s on the list along with some more hand painting. I will be making some videos to share here on my blog and youtube channel. I have a new online class in the works also. So you see while it’s quiet on the blog it will be busy behind the scenes.

As always I am happy to answer questions and I’m open to requests or suggestions for new projects and videos. If you feel like diving into one of my online classes just click on COLOUR CLUES or WINTER WONDER to learn more. (Here is a discount code for COLOUR CLUES which will take 20% of the price until January 15, 2021 HTNY21 )

So take care everyone, I’m looking forward to sharing techniques and experiments, cards, journal pages, paintings and more here on the blog during 2021. See you soon…

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Sunflower journal page

I’ve dones some more experimenting in my art journal with Darkroom Door stencils and stamps. As with some of my previous pages I finished and wished I done a few things differently but on the whole I was happy with the bright, happy look.

I began by taping the edges of the double page with painter’s tape which helps keep the pages flattish and creates a clean frame for the design. I painted the pages with absorbant ground in case I wanted to do some watercolour techniques then, when it was dry I painted the top of the page with dylusions pure sunshine paint and the bottom of the page with a mix of dylusions lemon zest & blue lagoon.

I blended oxide inks through the new small sun stencil to make sunflowers, the small wildflowers stencil to make stems and extra flowers and the brick stencil to fill in background. I also traced inside the flower stencil with a black gel pen to make the flowers stand out a little more.

Although I worked mainly with stencils I filled the centre of the sunflowers with texture stamps, added extra leaves around the stems with a fern stamp from the ‘leaves’ set and stamped some script along the lower edge of the page. After adding all the different textures to the centre of the sunflowers, I wished I used the ticket one on all the flowers; it really does look the cutest.

I added splatters of black and white gessos over the panel and wrote the words of the ‘Irish Blessing’ along the sunflower stems. It was the line ‘may the sun shine warm upon your face’ that I thought fitted with the page but decided to include the whole blessing.

There is a collection of fabulous new stamps and stencils in the latest Darkroom Door release so pop over and check them out. You will be seeing more of them around here over the next few weeks.

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