Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Happy place

This page was a disaster until the last moment – and then, suddenly, almost like by magic, everything fell into place and I was finally happy about it. Very happy, indeed...
It started with a pretty nice tissue paper that had some interesting patterns created when I played with my stencils and  Dylusion sprays.
Then I added some tape, including a striped handmade washi tape I didn’t particularly like.
And at this point it looked really awful. So I removed some tape and sprayed it with my new favourite product – Glimmer Mist by Tattered Angels. It didn’t help much.
So, according to my new matra - “when in doubt, add drippage” - I added black paint and then some gold on the sides. And ... finally it looked perfect.
[Litany against fear, Dune by Frank Herbert]
There are several “happy places” (a term I borrowed from Donna Downey) on this page – details that make me very very happy.


I had a clear vision in my mind of how this page should look like. And... it doesn’t look like that. The background is OK, the quote-part actually turned out great, I love the leaves, but the tree is all wrong. I repainted it several times (and it doubled in size in the process) but I’m still not happy about it. It looks different in my mind’s eye and it annoys me I can’t recreate this image onto paper.
[quote by John Burroughs]

(Fear of) ruining my backgrounds...

Sometimes I treasure some backgrounds because I like them very much and I’m reluctant to do anything with them. I scan them and wait... 
I was really fond of this one... But I accidentally contaminated the edges with paint from a different page and ruined it completely when I attempted to fix my mistake. 

So I painted version two. Not so fond of this one but at least I scanned the original... 
[quote by Anthony Robbins] 

This one was a different story – it was only waiting for a suitable quote for several weeks.
[quote by Paulo Coelho] 

And finally, this gold-teal-greenish background features another fun technique I learnt from Barb Owen (and she learnt it from Traci Bautista). You first soak a paper towel with various watered-down paints. Then you place the towel on a white paper and stamp through the towel. Sometimes the result is awesome, other times not. I got several really interesting backgrounds and this was one of them. But I didn’t know what to do with it. In the end, I placed a strip of paper across it and I really like it.
[quote by J. K. Rowling]

As you might guess, I have several other backgrounds waiting to be (mis)used in the future...

Playing with my stencils

This page first served only to test my new stencil but it actually turned out pretty good.
[quote by  Ralph Waldo Emerson]
When I applied texture paste through another of my handmade stencils and painted the page orange, it looked like Curiosity’s tracks on Mars. So I decided the page needed a “curiosity” quote.
[quote by Albert Einstein]
This stencil is a bit unforgiving – it creates an impression the pattern isn’t straight (OK, maybe it isn’t) and it really annoys me. Adding shades and a bit of darker colour didn’t help either...

Dauber box step-by-step

Here are some photos of how I made my distress inks dauber storage box mentioned in my previous "distressed" post. 

1) I started by cutting the dividers. I usually don't measure anything. I only make sure that the space between the slits is a bit wider than the dauber. The slits are as wide as the thickness of the cardboard I use. 

2) Then I assembled the dividers - just like the bottle divider boxes. 

3) Then I added the bottom and the sides. I used regular PVA glue to hold it all together. 

4) I created a lid - the size of the lid depends on the size of the lower part of the box. At this point, I painted it all with acrylic paint. 
Note: I used two pieces of cardboard glued together for the sides. And only a single layer for the lid. I wanted a little bit of space between the lid and the daubers in the corners for smoother closing. 

5) Now it's time to embellish the box. First, I glued down my handmade tissue paper (tutorial found here).

Then I painted it with acrylics.

6) Finally, I added quotes and attached the lid with hinges. 


Wednesday, 31 October 2012

A confession of a distress ink addict

I believe some of you have them all, which I don't (yet), but there's a strange relationship between me and those inks. Let me share my journey to my distress ink madness.
Once upon a time… I knew little about scrapbooking and when I was looking at various pictures on the internet, I discovered Tim Holtz's blog. [and my bank account was never the same after this day…] Back in those days, I saw Tim using the distress inks on practically everything, praising them, and I didn't understand what was so special about them. [see, that was before I lost my mind...]  But my curiosity grew... And one day, I decided to give them a try. I bought what I considered to be five “basic” colours – orange (Spiced Marmalade), red (Fired Brick), blue (Faded Jeans), green (Peeled Paint) and brown (Vintage Photo). Needless to say, back then, the inks were really difficult to get hold of in my country (and also very expensive). [to put you in perspective, one inkpad is more expensive than what I pay for lunch in a restaurant]
Even though I wasn't entirely convinced of their extraordinariness [is that an English word?],  my collection grew during the next couple of months. Then I bought the extraordinary ink applicator which came with 12 pads, so I bought a couple more inks and ended at 12. And I was happy.
But then a whole new range of colours came out. What possible use could a grey ink have? But then it was on sale in one of the UK online shops I spend my savings at. And why pay this ridiculous postage for just one inkpad? When you can buy more? And my collection grew to 25. I abandoned the not-so-special ink applicator and invested in sponge daubers. To store them, I made a tiny box – 25 compartments for each one of them. Back then, I was convinced that I DIDN'T NEED MORE INKS. But after a while, I started to consider the possibility of expanding the box to 36 compartments to house the ENTIRE distress ink collection...
And then something unthinkable happened – Tim introduced the autumn special edition. Oh no... Fortunately, they sold out very quickly and didn't get to my country, nor to any of those UK shops I visit. Yes, I was considering ordering them from abroad paying a fortune for shipping, and no, I decided against getting them from the USA, because they would cost more than twice their original price. But that didn't prevent me from visiting my favourite online shops several times a day to see if, by any chance, they had them back on stock. I was so disappointed... [I needed that purple badly...]
And then the winter inks appeared. And at first, I didn't like the colours at all [“No Tim, I don't need another red, and this weird green... and this grey-ish colour??”]. But they were on stock, and without knowing how, they quite literary jumped into the shopping basket.
The old box (bottom) and the new one (top)

So the storage box needed to be expanded – anticipating my desire to buy more inks, I made a couple of spare compartments for several more inks. And I also made a lid for the box. 

But what my distressed mind didn't anticipate was this – if there were autumn and winter inks, there MIGHT be spring and summer. And then the spring inks came...
And I got lucky – SirStampalot had a couple of autumn inks back on stock, so without thinking about the price, new six inkpads were travelling to me from the UK. [they should really make using PayPal a bit more difficult – something like “Are you really aware that you are spending Ł30 on just 6 inkpads?” and then “Are you really sure?” “R-E-A-L-L-Y?”] And the dauber box was full again – with no space left for the summer inks. [OMG]
Would you believe it, that I still don't have the summer collection? For two reasons: it is not available in my country and I refuse to pay (or resist paying) the ridiculous postage from the UK, and I like my dauber box and really have no energy to create a new one...

[update: several weeks later]

But... last weekend, I bought 4 new inkpads. And it only took me 48 hours to convince myself that I actually NEED a new dauber storage box (even though I don't have any new daubers – because, surprisingly, these are difficult to get here too).

And now that the limited edition inks have been added to the regular palette [BTW – that's some nasty marketing...], who knows what the future brings. In any case, the new box has 47 compartments – enough to fit the entire palette. Provided that no other inks are introduced... [that might cause some irreparable damage to my brain...]

P.S. If anyone is interested, here are some photos from making of the storage box. 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Wild Soul Arts GIVEAWAY

Amazing giveaway from Effy Wild's at Wild Soul Arts. Wow! Effy is such an inspiring artist and I'm really looking forward to her new projects in 2013.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Reason #125 why I should buy a Silhouette machine

I never really used stencils much... until recently. Buying original ones is not easy for me - they are not available (or sold our quickly) here and importing them is a bit expensive.

I used to work in desktop publishing so designing a pattern is only a matter of minutes. Cutting it out with my craft knife is a completely different story, though...

Somewhere in the middle of the process, when my fingers, shoulder and back hurt, I check the availability of a Silhouette Cameo on our market and then get back to hand-cutting. But I'm getting better. And it's getting addictive. I see the patterns everywhere. The first question is - would I be able to cut this shape by hand? and if I say YES, then it's "sorry, my aching body"...

Blue Moon

This page is to celebrate the blue moon of August – not the actual BLUE moon but THE blue moon (as in "once in a blue moon"). Right?
 [quote by Mark Twain]

The background is done with aluminum tape and some alcohol inks – it is inspired by TimHoltz’s September tag.
I was slightly impatient to do all the “faux rivet” texture details, though. Also, my cheap tape wasn't cooperating very much... The Moon is texture paste and Lumiere paints. 

Walking in circles

Now... I'm back in my element. Finally, the joy of a creative process is back!

I originally used this page to clean my stencils, so there was some texture in the background to begin with. I added some colours simply by repeatedly imprinting the page into a puddle of paints on my craft mat. The arrows are cut out of acetate and then covered in tissue paper. The text is printed on a laser printer, as usual. 


Oh no, another page that started with a sketch and a plan. I was considering creating a magazine cover for some time (I saw several magazines that had handwriting on their covers and I liked it a lot) and I had a spare head (that is to say, I painted this girl some time ago and I didn't know what to do with her).

So I drew this piece of art [for the lack of better expression]. I'm not happy – I don't know why I feel so bad about it. It is way out of my element. It's just not me...


This page started as an experiment as I was testing a new (= unknown to me) technique.
You simply apply texture paste (or some thick paint) on a piece of paper. Next, you place a second paper on top of the wet paste and press together - then you quickly pull the two pieces apart. You get an intricate  seaweed-like pattern.  

[quote by Charles Dickens]

I used crumpled tissue paper around the edges to create more texture. I don't think I got the colours right, though... Somehow I had a different vision in my head and didn't succeed in transferring it onto paper. 

Looking for my mojo

I had a rough time this particular week. Things happened and I was feeling blue. And art wasn't helping... 
[quote from Dracula by Bram Stoker]

I don't like to plan – because then I have to stick to something and it makes me nervous when things don't go as intended. So I don't usually “plan” my artwork, but if I do, I almost always struggle. 
This was a prearranged page and I struggled big time. I knew I wanted to do an Olympic page, I knew the background would be in the 5 Olympic colours, I knew I wanted to zentangle the rings. So, why did I struggle when all was clear from the beginning? I was sticking to my plan and didn't listen to my heart. And... I don't even like the page much...
[quote by Baron de Coubertin]


I was trying to follow Barb Owen's tutorial during one of her regular Friday streams.  

I started pretty well, but because I didn't have the sprays and stencils Barb was using, my result is slightly different. I'm not complaining, because I like it.
 [quote by Helen Keller]

I was looking specifically for a “pathetic” quote because that's how I've been feeling lately... The tiny monsters are inspired by (= copied from) my favourite painter Joan Miró.

A Game of Chess

I made several backgrounds by randomly covering my craft mat with paint and imprinting the paper into it. Sometimes you get a really good result, sometimes not...

This page uses one such background cut into hexagons. Hexagons are IN this year – apparently... And because I don't own any instrument that cuts hexagon shapes, I had to use a ruler and a craft knife...
[quote by Robert Brault]


This page sort of took a life of its own. It started like this...
... and was supposed to go a little bit steampunk...

But somehow is ended up like this:
[quote by Virginia Woolf]

Monday, 3 September 2012

Tissue paper and washi tape tutorial

You will need: thin paper, distress inks, water, stamps.
I begin with ordinary thin paper – this one is used for snack packaging. I found it by accident when I was looking for tissue paper and - not being able to get it anywhere (would you believe it? tissue paper?) - I had to look for alternatives. This one is not as thin as tissue paper, so it doesn't tear (much) when I spray it with water. So it is actually much better...
I use distress inks directly from the pad - not caring about blending it, because I spray it with water. 
When dry, you can stamp your paper with whatever stamps you like. I use StazOn ink because it won't bleed. 

Or - if you dare - you can run it through your inkjet printer.
[Disclaimer: Your printer manufacturer advises you not to use crumpled paper. So, do this at your own risk. If your printer breaks, you don't know me, never heard of me.]
I glue the thin paper down on a regular printer paper with repositionable glue paying extra attention to the edge that goes into the printer first. Approx. one in every five prints jams the printer, so I don't do this very often… [and BTW – don't try it on laser printers!!]

I use the paper as background in my journal or on my cards - even on my canvases.

Or I make my own Washi tapes.
You will need double-sided tape.

Attach your double-sided tape to the back of the paper.

Cut along the edges of the tape.

Once you start, it's very hard to stop... The possibilities are endless.

Sunday, 2 September 2012


This page is inspired by a technique introduced to me by Barb Owen. She printed photos of her paintings only to cut them apart again and reassemble. (I actually won one of her reasseblages - Thanks, Barb)

When I accidentally forgot to set my printer to "glossy paper" and had a couple of useless photos of my paintings, I knew I had to do something like this...
[my favourite quote from A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket]


My favourite colour combo of this month - yellow, gray and purple.
[quote by ?] 


Disclaimer: I'm not a pessimist but my glass is almost always half empty.

I love this lattice pattern and - having no cutting machine - I had to take a craft-knife and create a stencil myself. And I think I did a great job - giving myself another pat on the shoulder...
[quote by Ambrose Bierce]