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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Watercoloured Ink Bottles

I’m sure the new ‘pen & ink’ stamp set from Darkroom Door will be a new favourite of mine. There are five different bottles, two pens, four nibs and some labels. You will see it on my cards, in my journals and on my gel prints.

I wanted to end up with a loose watercolour sketch of ink bottles. I worked on hot pressed watercolour paper with distress inks as my ‘paints’. You will see in the video below I did not really plan my process at all and realised a few things about the stamps a little late but it turned out fine in the end.

Next time I play with these stamps I might try putting the pens in the inks, and creating different colours of ink in the bottles. Ahh, so many possibilities.

By the way there are a couple of new dates for upcoming classes; the details are on my Classes page

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Snow & Ice

Although most of the ice is now gone, over the last few weeks I have seen it breaking up on the river near our home. The ice that once covered most of the bay cracks and ends up in layers as it breaks, moves and eventually disappears. When I lifted the print above from my gel plate I immediately thought of the cracking ice. It also reminded me of the colours in glaciers, not usually navy blue but I have seen blues and aquas.

Around the time the ice was breaking and melting this snowflake stamp arrived from Darkroom Door so I stamped it on vellum to overlay the background. I really didn’t want to lose much of the background hence the vellum and then a very narrow navy frame and sentiment.

This gel print delighted me, both the colours and the pattern. That’s the fun of gel printing; you never know quite what you will get. I will be sharing a few more gel prints turned into cards and backgrounds over the next few days. In May I will be teaching a couple of gel printing workshops at Crop A While. I’d love to have you join me in making surprising and intriguing prints.

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Circle Flowers journal page

Last week I spent several happy hours gel printing. One of the prints I completed has ended all over this art journal spread. If you are a gel printer you know you can sometimes pull a couple of prints of the same design. The first one is full of colour and pattern and the second is often called a ghost print as it displays outlines and left over bits of paint.

For this journal page I used both the bold blue and green print and the ghost print. The ghost print can be seen on the top left and bottom right corners and is peeping out in a couple of other places. The first print which was very geometrical has been turned into circle flowers. It also had traces of a new stencil called ‘pods’. You will see more of it here on the blog because it is fabulous!

Also in the background you might see some black ink stamping (DD mesh and alphabet medley) and the texture of paste through the DD ‘checkered stencil. The text you see is a fabric tape with dictionary definitions of happiness; it is the first 49 & Market product I have bought and it is going to be handy!

There is plenty of white gesso over the background to pull it together and mute some of the bold elements.

The flowers are all cut with Penny Black ‘abstract flowers’ dies which basically cut slightly wonky circles so I could have cut them myself but why bother when the machine will do it. The print was on rice paper so I could cut a few layers at once. After drawing an edge on each circle with a silver paint pen I stuck a small circle on a larger one, then sewed a cross in the centre with silver thread. There are stems in the set of dies but I doodled mine with a black marker. The blue splatters and pops of pink are from inktense pencils which are coming in handy for art journalling.

I know that was a lot of photos and chit chat but that is the way with some art journal pages especially the collage ones which involve different papers, paints, stencils, and mediums. I probably haven’t mentioned everything I used but if you are still here now I’m sure you’ve heard enough!

If you are in Ottawa and feel like doing a little art journalling of your own, there are still spaces left in my next Art Journal Adventure workshop where we will be creating a watercolour green and leafy spread similar to what you see below. All the details are on the Crop A While website.

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Gel printing & a new crafty crush

I had a couple of opportunities to gel print last week and it was, as always, most enjoyable. The prints did not all work out but I have a couple that made me very happy.

Now would be the time to tell you I have a new crafty crush! Not a crafter, a craft company. I have fallen for the beautiful stamps, stencils and papers from Ciao Bella. The stencil I used to create today’s prints is called ‘patchwork’. I bought it because it features eleven different patterns that will be good for adding texture to art journal pages. I had no idea how beautiful it would look when I printed it as a whole! (Both Crop A While and Ecstasy Crafts carry Ciao Bella products; if you shop from Ecstasy make sure you use my link to get there and the discount code heathertecs10 for a 10% discount at checkout.)

I brayered some blues and browns on my gel plate then placed the stencil over the top followed by a piece of paper so I could remove some of the paint. When the first layer was dry I brayered a layer of white over the top and pulled the print. This is only a small section of the stencil but it was the best part of the print. I used adhesive sheets to attach it to the card base then added three Penny Black ‘tall flowers’ die cuts.

I used browns and black for the base of this print then light browns and white for the second layer before pulling the print. (yes I will do a video sometime soon)

The sentiment is from the Darkroom Door ‘long distance’ sentiment stamp.

I have no immediate use for many of the prints but they will go in my collage collection for now because they might come in handy for art journalling.

I taught the first Art Journal Adventure workshop on Saturday and enjoyed it so much. The workshop was held at Crop A While; there are spaces in the Friday workshop this week, March 4, and the Saturday March 12 workshop.

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Trees over Gel Print

Sometimes a background scrap can make a whole card. If you have done gel printing you probably know how beautiful the leftover edges can be. As you make print after print, excess paint layers up on the edges of the gel plate. I like to ‘collect’ those edges at the end of a gel printing session by brayering white paint over the top then lifting the whole section onto a last print.

The horizontal lines of blue and green you see here are from cleaning up edges. I thought they looked like the edge of a lake or river so I stamped trees over the top. Even the blue and white paint in the background looks a little like clouds and mountains.

I used tree stamps from Darkroom Door’s ‘Majestic Mountains’ set and Catherine Pooler inks to add to what was already a landscape. I had my gel plate out again yesterday after quite a break and once again saved some textural edges .

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AI + Stencils Blue Edition

After success with one of my detailed stencils over an alcohol ink panel I tried a few more all with a mix of blue inks. The one above features the Darkroom Door crackle stencil over a mix of cloudy blue and stream inks.

There is also a little bit of salt sprinkled on the panel where the stencil did not make consistent contact. This technique is definitely not for the impatient among us!

I am still working on Grafix white craft plastic and often starting over the top of a panel that already had ink on it. All the card bases are Neenah solar white.

The stencil above is MFT geometric stars and I positioned it over a panel of denim and stream inks with some leftover copper as well. The ‘print’ is not very consistent but I like the way a distinct line is right next to a blurry pattern.

I finished this one off with a die from the Pinkfresh Studio ‘sending’ die set.

I worked with the DD mesh stencil a couple of times because it didn’t make consistent contact on my first attempts. I found if I taped it over the alcohol ink panel onto a piece of scrap cardboard I could bend the cardboard slightly to make sure stencil stayed pressed onto the wet alcohol inks. I just popped the piece in the right sized container to keep it bent while it dried.

This one is a mix of denim, cloudy blue, silver and a tiny bit of stream down in the right hand corner. I added a sentiment from the DD ‘tall flowers’ set.

As you can see my fascination with this technique continues. I did pick up a couple more detail stencils the other day for this very purpose. I will also give it a try with some watercolour paints and paper. I’m sure the result will be different as the watercolour paints soak in but I think there could be a pretty and subtle pattern. Stay tuned!

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Beauty of the Earth journal page

I have another double page spread in the 6″x 6″ journal today. Don’t tell the others but this one seems to be getting all the attention at present!

The pages in this journal are thick watercolour paper so I wanted to take advantage of that and use watercolour techniques. Most of the pages I have completed up until now have had a base layer of gesso or acrylic paint.

As you can see I taped the edges of the pages with tape before starting. I added some stamping in black here and there using a stamp from the Darkroom Door ‘number medley’ set. Next I used the DD ‘honeycomb’ stencil and modeling paste to add a texture strip from left to right down the centre of the spread. I added a small section bottom left also. Once the paste was dry I began painting colour around the honeycomb and across both pages. I spent a while doing this so as to see the blends and build up some depth of colour.

Other than some black stamping I used only three colours of distress ink, both spray stain and from the ink pads. I took care to keep some white space; sometimes I realise too late that I have colour all over the pages. I stamped some grasses in peeled paint archival ink so they would not dilute and broken china distress ink so they would dilute. I also stamped sections of the world map in rusty hinge. Although I loved the combo of peeled paint, rusty hinge and broken china I thought a bit of metallic shine would be nice so I added some wildflowers embossed in Brutus Monroe ‘penny’ powder.

With a copper coloured gel pen I wrote the first verse of ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’ in the lower right hand corner then added the embossed word ‘beautiful’. And of course there is some copper splatter to finish it off. This is a style and look I have been hoping to create so you’ll probably see a few more like this one.

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Fine Baubles

To make these cards I pulled out some gel printed paper and the Darkroom Door ‘fine baubles’ stamp set. I have a box of gel printed pieces longing to come out of the box and into the world.

Last year I resolved to make a few Christmas cards every month of the year but that didn’t happen. This year I have resolved no such thing and look what happened: two done already! I embossed the large baubles on the gel print panel in a gold powder which is slightly chunky; it’s not my usual gold but there is a whole jar of it and I am committed to using up what I have where possible. It worked well for these baubles because I needed it to stand out against the patterns of the gel prints. I cut the baubles out which, although simple, still counts as fussy cutting in my book.

I embossed three of the smaller baubles on the other end of the gel print and did not cut them out because in doing so I would have lost the pretty stars on the print. It was hard to capture the gold of the stars in the photo but it is subtle and pretty in real life and is not blue as it appears below.

I attached gold cord behind the larger baubles as well as bows from cord too. The smaller baubles also got the bows but the cord is drawn with a gold gel pen.

No sentiments at this stage but that might change before I send them out in eleven months time!

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