Christmas Bush

Christmas Bush is a both a plant that grows in Australia and a new stamp set from Darkroom Door. This is my first project featuring the set but there will be more. I’m not sure if my parents ever had a Christmas Bush in their garden; I don’t remember one in any of my own gardens. I have just read about the plant and apparently it has white flowers which are not that prominent but the sepals grow large and red and they provide the drama.

I worked on hot pressed watercolour paper that I’d splattered earlier with masking fluid. I wasn’t wanting the look of snow; I know the Christmas bush blooms in summer. I wanted the white splatter to add some texture and variation to the design. I started by stamping one of the large sprays of flowers on the panel with plenty of water spritzed on both paper and stamp so it diluted and bled into the surrounding area. Once the background dried I stamped the flowers several times in festive berries and peeled paint distress inks.

Rather than mat the panel I used two Waffleflower A2 layer dies taped together to cut a narrow frame from red cardstock then embossed a sentiment from the ‘Christmas Bush’ set on the same cardstock.

I must admit it was the floral silhouettes that first drew me to this stamp set not the plan of making Christmas cards. Now that I have made one with the bold contrast of red and green I will be designing some more. My dad usually asks me if I’m going to make some Australian Christmas cards because I tend to make many wintery looking ones. Here is my first one for 2020 and it has an Australian theme, so that’s a good start.

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Blue Dragon

I’ve had this Pink Ink Designs dragon stamp for a quite a while and even started a couple of watercoloured panels with it but I was inspired to finally complete a card for an eight year old I know.

I did the stamping and embossing ages ago so I can’t remember if it is platinum or silver embossing powder. I used a mix of watercolour markers and finetec shimmer paint to colour the dragon then some distress ink to add shading and swirls to the edges. The wing is made from two stamps, the main body of the dragon plus an extra extension of wing. I have attached the extension with a little blue brad so it can fold in when the card fits goes in an envelope. I framed the design with a piece of dark blue metallic cardstock I bought from Crop A While along with matching envelopes.

I first saw this stamp at Crop A While, my local scrapbooking store and fell in love with it straight away. I remember my friend and store owner, Carole being quite surprised that I would even take a second glance at a dragon stamp and then from the same brand, a sea turtle stamp. I admit it is a bit out of character for me. The initial appeal of this dragon stamp set was to make an art journal page with it. It hasn’t happened yet but the design has been simmering in my mind for a while now.

Crop A While has an online store, curbside pick up and in-store shopping available right now and the owners, Tom and Carole are happy to help you with orders, just phone or email them.

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Enjoy

I paired the new DD ‘sketched alphabet’ with leaves again, this time from the set ‘fine leaves’ which have a hand drawn sketch style of their own.

I had left over ink on my glass mat the other day after creating a dramatic sky in greys and blues. Rather than waste the ink I swiped a piece of watercolour paper through it picking up as much as possible and spritzing with water to move the ink around. The watercolour panel already had masking fluid splattered over it hence the white dots over the finished design.

I stamped the letters first in hickory smoke archival ink then covered a couple with masks I made for a previous card before stamping leaves from the fine leaves set in iced spruce and stormy sky. I filled most of the panel with leaves and painted them with both ink colours. I added some ink splatter and then coloured the letters with a blue watercolour marker to help them stand out a bit more. I stamped one of the sentiments from the DD ‘baby sentiment set’ to complete the card. I think this one could have several uses, maybe retirement, new house, new job or the like.

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What should I read next?

This book themed page has been in my mind for quite a while and that little open book stamp on the right side of the spread pushed me to make it happen. All the stamps are from Darkroom Door; I used ‘mini open book’ once, ‘book spines’ several times and the ‘scratches’ background stamp for the wall behind the books.

I have three art journals on the go and this one has a literary theme. I’ve done pages inspired by books and others inspired by quotes. I have a few started but not finished and several in my head.

I taped the edges of the double page spread before doing anything; it really helps keep the book open and stable while I work, it protects the other pages from paint and ink and I think it frames the finished design really nicely.

I embossed all the books on hot pressed watercolour paper in either gold or copper powder then coloured them with markers, distress stains and distress inks smooshed on my glass mat. I really just played with techniques until I had a good selection of colours and patterns. I stuck to jewel tones featuring dark green, bright blue, red and aqua. I’ve listed all the distress inks below. I also painted over the inking on a few books with Coliro pearlescent paints so they have a bit of shimmer.

I painted the background with ‘absorbant ground’ as I usually do when I want to work with liquid inks and water then I smooshed some ‘peacock feathers and ground espresso inks on a piece of acetate, spritzed it and dragged it across the page multiple times. That gave me some abstract colour but not enough so I used distress stain sprays in the same colours. After it dried I stamped the scratches background stamp a few times in ground espresso stain. When that dried I used a piece of tape to mask edges to sponge vertical lines across the pages.

Arranging the books on the page took a little while. I cut them all out first then cut some of the groups into smaller groups to play with the layout. Once I had it settled I glued them down and started adding titles and decoration with gel pens, embossing pens and embossing powder. I wrote quite a few of my favourites on the spines, nothing particularly new even though I have read some great new books lately. I guess they just haven’t stood my test of time yet. I have some empty spines left that I will probably fill another day.

I finished by balancing that open book on one of the piles and added the name of my favourite podcast, ‘What Should I Read Next?’ I get a large chunk of my book recommendations from Anne Bogel, the host of WSIRN. I could talk about books for several more paragraphs but if you’ve made it this far you’re a champion so I’ll save the book chat for another book themed project. I think there will be a spin off card from this journal page.

Oh, and one more thing, please feel free to leave book recommendations in the comments; I’d love to hear your favourites.

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Rustic Birthday

I’ve been creating with Darkroom Door products over the weekend including the new ‘sketched alphabet’ set. I thought the sketched letters looked a bit like pieces of wood which set me thinking about branches and leaves, which made me think of the eucalyptus leaves in the DD ‘ leaves’ set which made me want to have the letters hidden among some leaves, which led to this card.

I can tell you it wasn’t a quick card to make. A fair amount of time was taken working out how I would make the concept work. On the back of this panel there is an unfinished attempt which helped me simplify my concept a bit. I stamped all the letters I was using on masking paper and cut them out. Then I stuck them out on the watercolour panel to get the spacing right. I removed a few of the masks and stamped some leaves in faded jeans and peeled paint distress inks, just a few which would appear to be in front of the letters. I stamped the leaves then, masked them and stamped and embossed the letters with versafine vintage sepia. Once the letters were embossed it wasn’t too hard to paint around them with bundled sage and stormy sky distress stains.

Once the background was dry I masked all the letters and leaves and stamped more leaves to fill the panel. I painted all the leaves in peeled paint, faded jeans and forest moss distress inks then added some splatter. After I removed the letter masks I decided to colour them in with a brown marker to make them stand out more. I blended some faded jeans around the edges of the panel to frame the design.

I was just about finished by this point but thought some gold splatter would be nice, which it was, but that led to gold edges on one side of all the letters. There were a couple more steps in there somewhere but you get the idea and I think I would be able to do it faster a second time!

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Pumpkin Season

This lovely blue wheelbarrow filled with pumpkins is one of the new autumn products from Penny Black. It’s called ‘pumpkin season’ and I paired it with an older PB scenic stamp, ‘homeward’.

I worked on the wheelbarrow first while keeping it in my stamp positioner. I stamped the barrow in faded jeans archival ink, the base in hickory smoke archival and the pumpkins in fossilized amber archival. That gave me a base print to add to with distress inks which I could blend with water and a paintbrush. Still with the stamp in the positioner I inked different section with distress ink cubes and markers to build up the colours bit by bit. Once I was sure I didn’t have to stamp any more on the barrow I removed the panel, stamped the barrow on masking paper and masked the barrow in order to finish my scene.

With the panel back in the positioner and the barrow masked I stamped the ‘homeward’ scenic stamp over the top with ground espresso, spiced marmalade, barn door , peeled paint and wild honey inks. I blended the grass area immediately after stamping so I could extend the ground with peeled paint ink to fill the space around the wheel and base of the barrow.

I built up the colour of the tree with repeat stampings spritzed with water. Once the stamping and blending was complete I painted some shadows under the barrow with peeled paint ink and added some extra definition to the pumpkins with watercolour pencils. I blended the sky around the tree with stormy sky ink and a blending brush.

We harvested most of our tomatoes yesterday even though they are still green so now I am looking up green tomatoes recipes. The fried ones sound appealing (just like in the Fanny Flagg book) and a zucchini and green tomato relish could be good too.

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The Good Life with pumpkins

Even though I am in denial about summer ending my card making would disagree. I have seen leaves changing colour and there is a nip in the air. I’m not against autumn; I know everyone loves it, I just don’t like to see summer go! This little autumn scene combines the Penny Black stamps, ‘the good life’ and ‘pumpkin patch’.

I worked in the stamp positioner for this one and there was masking involved too. I lightly stamped just the barn first, cut a mask for the roof then stamped an extra tree behind the barn. I also painted the back field in peeled paint and wild honey before returning to the trees and barn. I used the ink, stamp & blend process to build up the scene. I made sure I didn’t stamp the fence or track leading to the barn as I was planning to stamp something in the foreground. It turned out to be pumpkins which also needed to be masked before I added the fence and track.

If you know your distress inks you could probably make some pretty accurate guesses as to the line up used on this panel. I added a bit of pencil colouring to the pumpkins and some little leaves along side them.

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Fields of Gold

This card was inspired by @jenny_illustrations a watercolour artist I follow on instagram. She painted her scene but I used a selection of Darkroom Door stamps and some wet into wet techniques.

I worked on a panel of hot pressed watercolour paper splattered with liquid frisket. I wasn’t necessarily wanting the look of snow, more the interest or vintage look of little dots over the panel. It could be snow, an early snow or a first snow but that is not something I am thinking about right now. Not for a minute am I wishing summer away, I would never do that. Summer is definitely my favourite season and it is still officially summer for another 18 days!

But back to the card. I taped it down to my glass mat which I also used as a palette where I squished my distress inks to provide me with ink to paint with. I spritzed the whole panel with water then painted weathered wood and faded jeans distress ink in the sky then tea dye and gathered twigs distress ink in the foreground. It was not meant to be gathered twigs; the lid said ‘fossilized amber’! The lid was wrong but the colour, surprisingly worked maybe even better than amber would have giving me a gradation from light to dark brown.

While the whole panel was wet I stamped the large mountain stamp from DD ‘majestic mountains’ in faded jeans ink then, after a pause, the small trees from the same set in ‘hickory smoke’ then. after a longer pause, in ‘black soot’ ink. I used a small floral stamp from DD ‘wildflowers vol 1’ to stamp and restamp flowers in the foreground, first in ‘tea dye’ then in ‘gathered twigs’. I dried the panel rather than wait and finished it off with tea dye and gathered twigs splatter.

I was pleased to see my taping sealed the edges well resulting in no leaks. I am trying a different painter’s tape so it scored points on this project. I’m not sure why but this panel needed to be a side fold card. It has a little sentiment from DD ‘nature walk’ that says ‘ walk through the wildflowers’; you might not be able to read it but the recipient will.

I’ve done very few scenic cards lately so I enjoyed the process and result. I am pondering my next online class… scenic cards or Christmas cards? Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts.

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Soulful Silhouettes

There is a lovely new clear set of silhouette stamps in the latest Penny Black release. I’ve used it to create a set of co-ordinated cards in a simple clean style.

I chose some of my favourite distress inks to create slightly blended prints.

All the stamped images are from ‘soulful silhouettes’ and the sentiments are from the ‘trust me builder’ set.

I used hot pressed watercolour for all the stamped panels and white luxe textured cardstock for all the bases.

After inking the silhouette stamps for each design I gave the stamp a very light spritz of water, just enough so there would be blends and watermarks on the stamped image. I couldn’t predict how each would turn out so there are some dryer areas with no blending and some parts where ink has bled into the adjacent ink quite distinctly.

I often pop up my stamped or painted panels on pieces of foam but this time they are raised on just one piece of cardstsock cut a little smaller than the main panel.

The ‘trust me builder’ set is designed so we can make sentiments that begin with the words ‘trust me…’ then finish with one of seven different phrases. I kept the sentiments short using only the endings which are in a smaller simpler font.

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Barrel of Blooms

This washtub full of flowers is called ‘barrel of blooms’ and it’s a beauty from the new PB release. I worked on cold pressed watercolour paper in a stamp positioner so I could ink a section, stamp it, blend that section, wipe the stamp then ink another section.

I stamped colour by colour, inking with distress ink cubes and markers. Once I’ve stamped a section I blend it with a paintbrush pulling out the ink of the outline and adding extra where necessary. I used a couple of different green inks for the leaves, candied apple, spiced marmalade and dried marigold for the flowers then a mix of brown and grey for the barrel. All the inks are listed below. Because I do all the stamping and painting with the panel in the stamp positioner I am able to re-stamp a section after I’ve painted to add some of the detail back in.

To ground the image I painted some faded jeans and hickory smoke ink around the base and behind the barrel. I used a dark blue inktense pencil and the Wendy Vecchi stay-tion + ruler to add the look of wood wall behind then matted the panel with co-ordinating blue cardstock.

I don’t have a barrel tub like this one for my flowers but I have three old galvanised tin tubs filled with herbs and they are thriving in the current summer weather.

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