Welcome to my creative online journal

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Spring is in the Air

It's Spring! No, not in reality, but in my latest page of my handmade mother-in-law's calendar:
You may remember from a few posts ago that I'm rapidly trying to finish this scrapbook calendar that I gave to my MIL for christmas but rather rudely snatched back (no, asked nicely) to improve on the pages that I'd already completed. 

For this May page I changed the theme completely. Before I added all this 'Springness' it had quite a boring picture of my boys playing with a remote controlled boat on the canal.

To be honest, I'm not normally a flower person, but the calendar already had the outline of flowers printed on the bottom of the page so I went with it.

...And when I remembered that picture on the left of my son holding that crocus I knew that I just had to use it.  These pretty type of images are the type of embellishments that I would save for when I make cards for my MIL so they were perfect for this themed page for her too. 

I have also completed the July page.  The background page for this had the predetermined theme of 'Photo Star' so I found embellishments and stamps with a camera & an old film theme, together with lots of different sized stars.  These also conveniently tied in with my youngest son's magician costume (right) which also featured stars on it. 

I've quite enjoyed the process of making this calendar and seeing these old pictures again. I still can't believe how quickly the time has gone as these 'little boys' are now 14 and nearly 12. To me it only seems like yesterday that they were wearing these outfits, not 10 years, aaah!

Thanks for stopping by today, I will have more to show you soon,
Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

Friday, 21 February 2014

Crafty Birthday Gifts including Brusho

It was my birthday on Wednesday and rather than my husband get me things I didn't want, I steered him in the direction of my Amazon wishlist.  I like the idea of this because by using a simple browser add-on I can add items to my list  from all over the web, not just Amazon.  Most of  the gazillion items I have on my list are craft items and art technique books which is quite a minefield when you don't know the difference between a hot glue and an ATG gun. 

This was one of the great items I had seen on my internet travels and really fancied the look of:

Colourcraft Brusho paints and DVD

Thanks go to my husband for the paints and my sister, who bought the DVD from off my wishlist.  It's a great DVD, presented by Joanne Boon Thomas showing lots of great techniques you can do with Brusho.  You can see a preview of one of them on youtube here.  
Another item I had seen on a Donna Downey video was a 'Fresh Water Rinse Well.' This isn't one of life's essentials, but when your craft room is up in the attic and the route to your water supply is down some rickety stairs, it sure makes life easier!  Besides, what are birthdays for, if you can't have the odd frivolous luxury item?  What it does is clear away your old painting water and replace it with clean:
 Brilliant!.. and the gurgling sound you get with the fresh water is an additional bonus. 
I spent my birthday afternoon playing with these new 'toys' and I was absolutely in my element. The first thing I did was to make myself a colour swatch page of the 24 Brusho colours:
Brusho paints are highly pigmented powder paints that you add water to, like watercolours.  You only use a teeny tiny bit at a time so they will last for yonks.  I love vivid colours so was pleased to see they dry almost as bright as they are when they are wet. 

This, however, was the effect I saw that attracted me to them in the first place:
To do this you wet your page and then sprinkle on tiny specks of the paint.  The colours 'explode' onto the page and then blend into each other as you add more.  I'm thinking that they'll make great backgrounds for journal pages.

I also tried normal blending, using the colours like normal watercolour paints (my sons got me a paint pallette and brushes) and also did some flicking of the colours to make spots:
..which again will be useful for all kinds of backgrounds, cards, journal pages, etc.

All in all, I'm really pleased with these gifts and am itching to explore them more when I next get to do some more crafting.

Thanks for stopping by today and
have a great weekend,
Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

Friday, 14 February 2014

Last Minute Valentine Decoration Idea

Happy Valentine's Day for those of you that celebrate it.  My husband and I still do, in a way, but after 27 years of being together we don't get quite so into it as we did when we first met. 

I do like to make the odd valentine decoration though and this year I have made some simple little 'love' word decorations for around the house out of letters that I happened to have.

These are just a few:
Made from pieces from a word game called 'konexi'. 

This decoration was put by my husband's beside clock:
.made from an old Scrabble set

..and finally this one made from cookie cutters, put in the kitchen:
I also put some others around in the bathroom and in the lounge but I'm not sure that our 14 year and 11 year old boys are really going to appreciate them...

Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

How to Draw Cartoons Kit

I had a break from doing my mother-in-law's calendar to have a doodle-y play with a children's cartooning kit.
It was yet another bargain from a charity shop, a big tin (12x12") containing a sketch pad, a pencil, rubber and black liner pen, 8 brush pens and an instructional book on how to draw cartoons.  Not bad for just £1 and it originally came from Marks & Spencers. 

The quality of the kit was good and I had fun following the step-by-step instructions to make some fun animal cartoons:
The problem I had with it was the fact that the finished pictures in the step-by-step book had sophisticated blending and colouring:
Blending and splattering effect on this camel
..Yet they give you basic brush pens that would show every stroke:
I know, I know, its a kit for children and maybe they wouldn't appreciate the difference but when I did mine I just had to use my promarkers for a more sophisticated finish:
I haven't really got any reason to complain about this problem especially as (a) it only cost me £1 after all and (b) as I said before it is meant just for children but...just saying....!

Thanks for looking today,
See you again soon for some more arty craftiness,
Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

Friday, 7 February 2014

Personalised Calendar

Last November I was delighted to find in a charity shop a calendar that you can personalise for just 99 pence.  I thought it would make a great extra christmas present for my mother-in-law, my boys' nanny, if I put lots of pictures of her grandchildren throughout the years in it.  Unfortunately it turned out it was only the bare bones of the calendar so didn't include all the coloured papers and embelishments that would have been in the kit if it was complete, so no wonder it only cost 99 pence!  Never mind, I would do my own thing using what I have in my stash and that is what I did.  

I must admit I did craft it at the very last minute before christmas (these things take longer than you think) and even though it was acceptable enough, I didn't like it.  So, after asking her permission, I asked to have it back so that I could improve it.  She agreed to this and as she has now taken a holiday to the Phillipines this month (in glorious sunshine!) it is the perfect time to finish it off.

This is January's page, I didn't alter this much, just drew lines around the photos and tweaked the snowflake embelishments.

February's page I changed quite a lot:
The original photos had printed with a purple tint so they had to be replaced and then I simply added lots of heart and valentine themed collage elements.  Some parts of the layout were on the page before, like the 'I love you' hearts down the side.

March's page I also changed and really went to town with the scribble clouds and washi tape.  The weather is just like this now!
For April, I added lots more easter eggs and washi tape and some stamps of chickens, which I coloured.
The 'Happy Easter Day' title was already printed on the page.
I haven't redone May's page yet but I changed June's as you can see here:
...and After:
I got quite carried away with my circle stamps and then added some more orange with a neocolor II crayon & waterbrush.  

If this calendar was for me I wouldn't be able to resist grunging it up because that is my style, but my mother-in-law has very conventional, conservative taste, so I must resist the urge!

With the weather here being the way it is (see March's page), it looks like I'll be stopping in and getting on with it until it's finished. I do hope my mother-in-law still likes it!

Thanks for looking today, back soon for more calendar artiness,
Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Picnic Time!

The weather has been so gorgeous here lately - not! It's been absolutely pouring it down nearly every day and our local river has been on flood alert squillions of times in the last few weeks...  So, what shall we do today?  Maybe go for a picnic?.... 
Except, this picnic is not as it seems.  Well, it is more obvious when you use a super duper macro lens to photograph it, but in normal light, indoors (preferably at night) and squint at it through your fingers from a distance, it looks just like the real thing.  But I am sure you will have spotted, from this outdoor picture taken with said fabby lens that it is in fact a miniature.

The two pence piece is the real thing!  

I made this way back in November but what with me slacking in my duties at blogging you didn't get to see it then. 

I have to say I love miniatures, there's something inherently fascinating about seeing a version of something you know in an incy wincy size.  Which is why I squealed with delight when I found an american girl's craft book in a charity shop that tells you how.  Sorry, but I can't put my hand on the book right now to tell you its title, because it's lost in the back of beyond due to lapsed housekeeping.  Ahem...

Here is another picture to show it's size and this is, of course, a real apple, not a giant one! (that would be a bit scary!):  
And, from what I can remember, the plate was made from a button, the sandwiches are cut sponges with paper cheese and ham (yum!), the chips (which look most unrealistic in these pictures) were made from cocktail sticks and the apple is a bead.  The glass is a plastic top from a lipgloss and the milk is a white glue and water mixture.  

When I find the book I think I'll make some other miniatures, they are such fun to make and also very good conversation pieces too.  'How did you make that?' etc.

Thank you for stopping by today,  see you again soon for some more arty craftiness,
Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

Friday, 31 January 2014

CJS2014: Dina Wakley project

Today's project taught me a few things.

Before I explain the steps, I should tell you that the end product was a disaster didn't really work.  But never mind, the process was the important thing and I learned just by working myself through the lesson.

Basically then, the steps:
 The materials needed were some filler (just £3 from Homebase); Cracks are a good thing for this project  so I didn't get the good stuff (more expensive) that said it resists cracking. Also needed was a piece of hessian and a flexible spatula.
 Spread a moderate amount of  the filler onto the hessian...
 ...and when dry (mine was left overnight) paint with your desired colours, randomly.  See those cracks?  Those are the 'wanted' cracks, they make the end result more interesting, apparently....
 This is the bit where I learned something. I've never melted beeswax before (this was in a cheap slow cooker) and it took a very long time to melt.  When it did it was brushed all over the piece...
 ...but because it dries all cloudy, you use a heat gun to make it all glossy again...
 ...and this is your finished piece!  Well, unless you want to do more to it like Dina did, like cut it into shapes:
 ..and when I did that, it all sort of fell apart on me.
...Resulting in what I have now, a waxed, painted, hessian jigsaw!  

Not really sure what I can do with it because its still quite fragile, but I've been through the motions and recorded it so couldn't not show it to you, could I?  I should mention that Dina's didn't fall apart and hers even got sewn to the front of a journal.  I shall have to get my thinking cap on...
The Creative Jump Start course finished today (although it is available until November if you wish to still join in).  I've enjoyed taking part and learned some interesting new techniques that I can use in future projects (maybe not this particular one?!....) I'm glad that I stretched myself, even out of my comfort zone at times, because that will help with any arty crafty projects that I do from now on.

Thanks for looking, 
Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

PS - Other photos of my Creative Jump Start 2014 projects can now be found on flickr here 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Creative Jump Start 2014: Junk Picture

I've admired the canvases, journals and scrapbook pages of Anna Dabrowska for years and often wondered how they were made.  Well, luckily for me, Anna showed us the process as part of Creative Jump Start 2014.

This was my finished piece:
And this is the process I went through:
First of all I stuck down some lace ribbon and some old book pages (without looking what was on them, oops! Never mind they were covered up with gesso completely!)   Then I worked out what junk items I would be using and stuck them into position.  A teaspoon was the item suggested on the video and I hapened to have one that I got from a charity shop for 30p so down it went.  I found all sorts of other items like washers, hama beads, even the circular bit left over from my boy's toy cap gun.  I also found a toy snake which my boys tell me they want back!  (Too late boys, it's stuck fast).  Everything got covered in gesso:
..and I had a real problem with mine.  The gesso I used was really old and thick and refused to come off the brush half the time, so that was a bit of a hinderance.  It took ages, getting in all the nooks and cranies.

I found some more items to add in my box of metal items.  Nuts, a mini padlock and key and I loved those swirly paper clips.
To complete I also found some more buttons and beads.

Everything was gessoed ready for painting:
...and I have to say I was a bit concerned that I would spoil it.  I quite liked the white, but I knew that I wanted  the love bit to be red so thats how I started, not really knowing how it would go from there.  I then added some purple.
Not sure I liked it but there was no going back now... and before I knew it I'd added brown and gold and it turned out a lot more colourful than I intended.
I checked back at Anna's video and noticed that she left quite a bit white.  Maybe, when I get myself some decent new gesso I could tone it down, just a bit....

Thanks for looking today, see you again soon for some more CJS2014 projects.
Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

Monday, 27 January 2014

CJS2014: Mini Keyring Scrapbook of Quotes


In my post yesterday I showed you how I made some textured surfaced pages using a cutout squeegee, an old comb and some modelling paste on the top of previously made gelli prints.  Today I used the textured pages to create a little (3" x 2.5") portable keyring scrapbook.

I started off by painting a piece of acrylic paper with some yellow drawing ink and when that was dry I splattered on some black indian ink.
 I separated my page into 12 and used a set of Tim Holtz rubons to randomly place letters and words all over the squares.  More of the quotes were added onto separate yellow paper and some of the others off the sheet went onto the front of my mini scrapbook.
(I have to add that the rubons weren't that easy to use, they stuck to all kinds of things that they shouldn't !)

As someone who loves the distressed look (you'd never have guessed, would you?!), I couldn't resist going around each square with my black Momento ink pad.  I loved the way it emphasized the lines on the acrylic paper.  After that I stuck on my cutout quotes onto the blue textured paper and then the blue paper was stuck onto each of the squares:
The blank keyring scrapbook was bought ready made and even contained mini page protectors to put my pages into.
And there was my finished project, 12 pages of inspirational quotes to inspire my creative life:

Thank you for looking today.  See you again soon for some more CJS2014 projects.
Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

Sunday, 26 January 2014

CJS2014: Creating Texture with Modelling Paste

I love texture! In fact I remember it being my absolute favourite topic given to me when I was an art student a squillion years ago now.

Which is why I relished this project, demonstrated to us by Nathalie Kalbach as part of the Creative Jump Start 2014 course I have been taking throughout January.

This project was one I did today when the rain was lashing at the windows.  What better thing to do when the weather is at its worst than to get stuck into a good art or craft project!

For my background, I used one of my many gelli prints that I made for a previous project.  I added some light modelling paste (I was going to use Liquitex but couldn't find any locally so was very pleased to find they had some at Lidl for just £1.99!)  and swept it around on my paper with...

...a squeegee that I cut pieces out of (right of picture) - and as shown to us by Nathalie.  I also found this old comb in a supermarket car park so that got used too!

For the circles on this print, I used some plastic mecanno pieces that I found in a junk shop.
I was reluctant to spray my piece because I'm not very confident with mists and sprays but its good to challenge yourself when you can.

The Interference paint I used on the original gelli print still shone through on the letters giving a pleasing effect.

I am still in the process of making a mini book with quotes and my resulting prints so will show you that tomorrow.

Thanks for looking today, more CJS14 to come soon,
Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

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