Sunday, 24 July 2016

In praise of Chalk (paint!)

Hi guys.
I hope you are well.
I thought I'd share a different project with you today. A project my wife and I tackled a while back.
We used DecoArt Chalky Finish paint to alter a pine dresser.
What is really great about this paint is that there is no need for extensive prep work, no sanding, no primer. It just goes straight on!

 First coat and the icky orange disappears...... We started off with a dark colour.

 Once that had dried we began to add layers of lighter colours. Using pale greens and blues to add tonal variation  Once everything was dry it was time to distress. Using sandpaper we sanded back to reveal the colours underneath. When we were happy with the distress it looked fab but still it looked too new for me so I hauled out my "Secret Weapon" A mix of bitumen and white spirit  and as my wife looked on in horror proceeded to "ruin" all our hard work.

 Have a little faith I said......... I then used a LOT of cloths and white spirit to rub back and remove the mix. The end result is a beautifully aged piece of furniture. The bitumen highlighted all the distressed areas, It sits in the nooks and crannies and gives all the colours a beautiful patina.

 Then the fun part was to fill it again,

No more icky orange, thanks to DecoArt.

Hope you like it, I'm off to the studio now, I have a book to make............

Thursday, 14 July 2016


Good morning friends.
For the first time this year I found myself teaching again. A small class for The Craft Barn on Sunday.. It was a lovely day and I felt privileged to be able to share and help everyone create their "growth" books.

As you can see, there is plenty of space to add further signatures and I look forward to seeing how they are filled up over time.

 I am always fascinated to see how diverse and unique the finished books are as everyone puts their personal style into them.

I also finally finished another little soft cover book which i thought I'd share with you. I have a few squares of Tim Holtz fabric and used one for this.
 The internal pages are from hand made paper. I folded and strengthened each fold before gluing them together and pressing to ensure they were secure.
 The fabric was glued directly to the outer pages and pressed until dry. I used Infusions to add colour.
To finish I added a die cut and glazed butterfly (one of the Tim Holtz dies) I love the softness of this journal, the frayed edges of the paper and the fabric and the muted earth tones of the colour. I may just have to make a few more.......
Take care everyone and thanks for popping on by.

Friday, 1 July 2016

The closing of a chapter. (A long one!)

Good afternoon friends.

Today is a bitter sweet day for me. My last post as a design team member for The Craft Barn has gone up today. I'd love you to pop on by to take a look HERE.

I have been blessed to share a large portion of my creative walk with The Craft Barn so it is a sad day for me as it closes the chapter on a part of my life that without the faith of Sandy and her team may not have happened.

Many years ago I was offered a guest slot on their blog which was then followed by the offer to make it permanent. I was thrilled and beyond nervous when Sandy offered me a last minute place to demonstrate for her at their Extravaganza shortly afterwards.
Well, that act of faith and trust in me as a creative person, who she didn't really know, became the springboard that opened the way for me to demonstrate and share, come into contact with and teach so many wonderful people the joy I find in creativity. It led me to being invited to attend Ranger University with Tim Holtz and over the years has both inspired and challenged me to stretch myself creatively to try to encourage others.
For this I will be forever grateful.
Some days, as members of the team left, I felt I was perhaps overstaying my welcome but always, Sandy encouraged me to stay and they became part of my creative family, close knit and woven into my life.

However, life changes and I find myself at a creative crossroad. The constraints of my life leave less time for creativity and after much reflection I made the difficult choice to say goodbye.

That's the bitter side. The sweeter side is that now I can use my creative time freely. I can pursue projects and dreams. This is exciting to me and I look forward to being able to pick and choose my products without thought and follow my creative muse wherever she may wander.
I hope you will stay with me as I travel this road.

So, today I would like to pay tribute to Sandy and Ian, and all the team who have encouraged and supported me over the years, to wish them all the very best and to say; you are amazing!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Time for a "Do Over"

Hi Guys.
Long time no hear. This has been a crazy year for me and many things have been neglected or moved out of focus.
This blog has sadly been one of those things. Some periods in life become almost overwhelming and time seems to be snatched away and you just sit there and watch it leave, unable to summon the energy to fight for it.
Today is the beginning of the re focus effort. From the end of this month some changes that I have made to my creative life come into effect. It is a bitter sweet moment for me and I'll be talking more about that in a later post.
Needless to say, one of the results of the change will be that you will see more of me on here. More projects, more tutorials and more of my creativity and individuality.
For those who have hung in there with me and not written off this blog, thank you.

You can see that I have changed my blog header photo. I've done this to reflect the direction I will be moving in.
 Books and journals will be my focus.

To start my new journey off I will be teaching a book making class for The Craft Barn on Sunday July 10th with a book, entitled, appropriately, "Growth" A book that during the class will get you started but allow you to grow the book by adding further pages over time.

If you would like to share this journey with me, you can find further details HERE.
Until next time. I wish you well.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

The stranger wanders by...........

Good morning.
I feel like I am wandering through a stormy, dusty creative desert at the moment. Not sure how I got here but I am plodding grimly through it. One staggering step at a time confident that at the end of this journey there will be an oasis of calm.
I'm sure that I am not the only one feeling that the pressures of the everyday are getting more and more each year. Our days are filled  and sometimes over filled and it is difficult the slow down.
Still, we strive and endeavor to do so.
Today, I am sharing the transformation of the project from my last post. (Yes, it has been a VERY long day!)
 So, this was the original project. I loved doing it and the finished piece but as I have nowhere to display it so I changed it to this.......

 I split the piece in half, added thin greyboard pages and turned it into a journal. I stitched burlap to the spine to tie in with the feel of the covers and used the same paints to add colour.

 Hope you like it. I also hope that you have a wonderful and creatively blessed day.
Till next we meet.

ps, over at The CRAFT barn blog today I have an altered letter rack. I'd love it if you would take the time to pop on over for a peek HERE

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Couple more sketches.

Hi again, Yes, a second post from me today. Just thought I'd pop on the next couple of sketches from my one sketch a day book. With the week I've had I'm more impressed with that fact that I managed to put pen to paper every day !

Going triple for The Craft Barn

Good morning guys.
I hope you are well. As a rare treat I have a midweek weekend so today is my Saturday. I think a lazy day is in order......
I thought I'd pop on to share a few pics from my project done for The Craft Barn a few weeks ago. I'm not going to go into too much details regarding stages but if you would like to see them then you can pop over HERE to see.
My triple consisted of 3 door plates made up from Andy Skinner's Tando Creative Industrial Elements kit. There are three layers of paint and mediums on these to create the effect.

 The finished project ended up as an A4 board with layers of paste, paint, heat embossed designs and burlap.

Further details were added by the addition of metal embellishments. Love these keys.

The finished piece. It was fun to make and I was pleased with it.

However, I have a confession to make..... I looked at it and thought, "yes, I really like it. But where can I put it?" Well, it has undergone a transformation.....and upon that teaser I will say goodbye and make you wait  until tomorrow to see what happened to it.....
Have a fab day.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Mad as a March Hare....

Good morning friends.
I trust you are well. The weather is cold and miserable so I'm avoiding my studio and keeping myself indoors (When I'm not at work!)
This weekend I had a go at my second needle felted project. Something that had a few more technical aspects to it. Again, I thoroughly enjoyed myself though I was not totally happy with the proportions when I had finished. I am learning things and that is a good thing. I know what not to do next time now so lesson learned......

Here he is, warts and all.

 It was different working with a wire armature and adding details like cheeks, mouth and eyebrows. Unfortunately the legs are not long enough proportionally but hey it's only my second attempt so overall I'm pleased. I'll just have to hide him in a bunch of flowers LOL

I've also been enjoying my daily sketch. Here are the next 12 days.

I really should be popping down to the Studio so I'll see you later. Have yourselves a fun and creative day.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

One sketch a day

Good morning folks.

I'm kinda playing catch up a bit here as the first few weeks of the new year has been busy.
One of my gifts at Christmas from Shenay was a One Sketch a Day journal. A very cool and perfect sized 365 day journal.
I started it on Christmas day and now, on day 27 I think the habit is almost embedded as I can't settle down in the evening without doing it!
I thought I would share a periodic round up of my completed sketches with you. Some I love, some I am not sure about but the process of drawing daily quick sketches I love.

 Each spread has 4 days spaces. You just add the date and go for it.

After doing a couple of days in colour I decided I was just going to use pen and ink as I didn't like the coloured elements (and it's easier to carry just pens with me!)

The question mark was when it was late at night, I was tired and could not think of anything to sketch. I was not going to do anything though as I knew if I skipped a day I would regret it. It's also then too easy to skip another, and another!

It's cool to see the variety over a few spreads like this, hope you enjoy them and if you like sketching this is a brilliant size to work with.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

No, I don't like tea; not really into cute either........

Good afternoon friends.
I trust you are well. Something different from me today. A spot of crafting but no paint, pastes or stamping. No, don't run, it's not too bad I promise.
Last week I had a bit of a sort out in my studio and came across a paper making frame I had picked up last year. One of my favourite memories was when my father and I made paper when I was younger so I thought I would introduce my daughter to the delights and we had a spontaneous paper making session in the kitchen. This is where the tea comes in.  We added the contents of a bag of Earl Grey tea to the mix (The only thing worth doing with tea in my opinion LOL) and raided the garden for some dead things to add interest too.

 So, here I am showing her the process, after all, demonstrating is more fun than telling....

 My first sheet off the frame and couched.

And the finished sheets all dry. I made three and Alyssa made about five or six. It was great fun and I had a cool trip down memory lane.

Oh and no, they don't smell like tea!

Then, for something totally different too. For a while now I have been enamored with the amazing artistry of needle felted sculptures I see on Pinterest and fancied having a go but didn't even know where to start. Wandering into Hobbycraft the other week to get something for my daughter I came across all the tools and wool and impulsively popped them into my basket! Got them home and then panicked. They taunted me all of the week and come Sunday I thought, now or never.
Well, tempting though it was to attempt to create a stunning realistic fox for my first try I decided that as a novice I should really try something simpler. I would therefore like to introduce you to Alf, short for Alpha as he is my first needle felted creation!

Working with wool and needles is definitely a different experience and there were a number of times when I almost threw the towel in! I'm glad I didn't though as in the end he looks like a kitten and I have a much better understanding of the process and what not to do too. As a bonus I only drew blood once!
Something different for me but also something that has kickstarted my limping mojo for which I am grateful.
Hope you all have a fab afternoon. Take care and we'll catch up soon.