Friday, 24 December 2010

June's canvas

I met my wonderful friend June when she was having her first infusion of Tysabri, a drug to help modify the symptoms of MS.  She had only recently been diagnosed and when she was moved to a different day for infusion we swapped e-mail addresses.

We've talked through all of our feelings towards MS and I sent her a photo of my MS canvas.  She said she wished she could express her feelings like that, but instead she sent me something about how she felt trapped like a bird in a gilded cage and not able to enjoy her life.

As soon as I saw this I had an idea of what I wanted to do for her, but I wasn't sure she'd appreciate it as our feelings are so personal.  I rang and told her about it before I sent it in case she'd be upset.  She was thrilled that I had made something for her.

I used a 5" x 7" canvas board for the base and coloured it using Broken China and Crushed Olive DI's.  Then I cut the TH bird and bird cage out of grungebord and coloured the bird cage with Crushed Olive DI and embossed it with Vintage Photo Distress EP.  I wanted to make the cage appear to be rusty.

I covered the bird with double sided adhesive sheet and gilded it with gold gilding flakes.  I wanted to gild the bird to show that once it was free it became golden and left the rusty cage behind it.

I used the Sissix 3-D Flower die to cut some Artylicious paper to make roses for the canvas.  Even though I'd cut both sizes I found that the smaller ones fit best.  I used a long handled quilling tool to actually make the roses.  I had to wait for a time when my hands would let me turn the tool to make the flowers.  With a little persuasion and some Glossy Accents they worked!

And this is the finished canvas.  I really enjoyed making it and June loving it has made it all the more special!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Who needs Rock Candy Crackle Paint....

...when Mother Nature does it so much beter herself?  I took these today on the wall outside my back door.

On Wednesday night the snow came off my roof again.  The gutter remained in place, if a little bent but my poor Sky dish got mangled.  As you can see I have no satelite signal being received, which is something both of my TV's are taking great pleasure in reminding me each time I switch them on!!!  Sky are apparently coming out on Tuesday to fix it.  Watch this space...

I also had a 'small' mound of snow outside my front door.  Yes, that is my car hiding in the pile of snow!  Theres no chance of me getting into my car at this point.  The only thing that'll help is if the temperature rises to around 30 degrees which is impossible given that its winter in Britain.

My Mam very kindly dug a little path into the snow so I had an escape route if I needed it.  At least thats what she wanted.  She'd been worried about me not being able to clamber over the snow.  I was more concerned about post not getting to me LOL!!!

I need to give a big THANK YOU to Lionel the carpet fitter who came through the snow on Thursday in a 4x4 to fit my new craft room carpet.  He even dug a path out for me in my back garden.  Now that what I call customer service!!!

Hope you're all keeping warm and safe.  Looks like its set to continue a while yet so no doubt there'll be some more photo opportunities!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Artic Roll anyone??

All of the snow came off my roof last night, taking the brackets for my guttering with it.  So now I have water dripping down my house as the gutter has been bent by the snow.  I think if I end up with a whole load of snow on the roof again, the gutter will come down with it.  Mind I got away easy last winter.  My guttering remained in place and only my Sky dish was affected.

The snow makes wonderful shapes out of everything.

Who put the marshmallow cake on top of the bird bath in the garden.  It just looks like you can go out and cut a slice.  Mind I think it'd all collapse if I tried!!

And an artic roll down my car this morning.  The snow is so deep at my car door cos of the snow coming off the roof last night.

I'm getting hungry now.  Time for soup methinks!!

Thursday, 25 November 2010


Well we had a litttle bit of snow last night, as well as a little bit more today.  The sky is still very full so I think there'll be some more tonight.  This is my garden this morning.

I was watching the birds have a good old feed at my new hanging bird feeder this morning and, low and behold, they've emptied it!  So off I went out with my wellies on (no coat of course - we're hard up here don't ya know!) and lifted the feeder down with no snow hitting me and filled it.  Went to put it back up and the caught the clematis on the wall above it and a load of snow fell off hitting me on the head and all down my front and back!!  I was so pleased it was still light and fluffy stuff so no harm done.  If anyone could've seen me they would have thought I was mad.  I'm standing covered in snow, by myself, giggling LOL!!!

Then I trudged off, gingerly, to take some close ups of the plants I put my girls ashes under.

This is the Yukka plant I got for Tara's ashes.  Those spikes on the end of the leaves are what she used to chew on and will spike anyone who gets to close now!

And this is the conifer I got for Martha's ashes.  Is it just me, or is that a smiley face in the snow?!

And finally can anyone guess what made these marks?

No prizes, but in the emortal words of Sir Adrian of W, smug points up for grabs!!

(Oh joy, it's just started snowing again here.)

Friday, 12 November 2010

Journaling weeknd

I spent an amazing weekend last weekend with 8 incredible women.

I attended the Journaling Weekend at Graphicus in Barnard Castle with Jo, Lou, June, Janet, Lillian and Sue as well as Glenda and Lynn.  It was actually 2 workshops, but we all attended both so it seemed like a weekend workshop.

Glenda lead us during the Saturday and we began making a loose-leaf watercolour journal and colouring it with Golden paints.  During this time we each talked about why we wanted to journal.  This lead to very intimate and revealing circumstances for each us.

For the covers for the journal we scrunched copier paper, spritzed it with water and painted it with metallic paint.  The paper ended up extremely wet and had to dry til the afternoon.   We then stuck the paper to grey board using book binding techniques.  The board will eventually be stuck back to back with bookbinding fabric between to make the spine of the journal.

The pages for the inside of the journal were made from hot pressed heavy watercolour paper and coloured with Golden acrylic paints and lots of water!  We used stencils and spritzed the stencilled image with water to make it 'bleed', like the flower in this picture.

On Sunday Lynn lead us through writing in different styles in our journals.  We made another watercolour journal, but this time we folded the pages and stitched together in a very simple style.  We all used this as our practice journal.

Lynn had us draw circles free hand and then draw horizontal lines to make a circle.  We then had to write on these lines and draw circles round the writing in pen, then make some of the words stand out.  I found this exercise quite difficult as I hate my writing.  I used to be able to do calligraphy, but MS but paid to that. 

She then asked us the write in a circles so that the letters filled the whole circle.

Then we started to write in spirals.  Once I'd finished this one, in Lou's words, I found my writing.  I am so chuffed that this worked out so well.  I just want to write in spirals all the time LOL!!!

Next we looked at alphabets and how we could change them for different page layouts.  I chose the draw capital letters with hearts on the end of each line (the top alphabet) and dots on the each line (the bottom alphabet).  Now I am more confident on what I can do I am going to practice other forms of alphabet.

When we'd finished this we started on drawing letter and decorating it.  I chose to do zentangle-ish patterns.  As I've only just started to do zentagles I couldn't remember most of the patterns so I just doodled.

The whole weekend was an amazing experience.  We all became so close.  We laughed, we cried and we encouraged each other.  I doubt I will ever experience another weekend like it.

Thank you to all you lovely ladies.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Another spooky Halloween make

This time Carrie kindly sent me a photo.

This one was made in exactly the same way as the one I made for Janet, but using canvas board as a base.  I used the same colours as they are very Halloween and the stamps were from EI again.

I couldn't resist buying a 'coffin full of bugs' at a local bargain store and glued a large plastic spider onto the canvas too!

This is my second attempt at the Halloween swap for Carrie.  The first one went missing in the post, so I hand delivered this one as she wanted to post them on her blog on Halloween itself.

My windows are still ongoing.  They encountered problems on Friday as one of the frames that had been sent was the wrong size and consequently the glass was too.  Karl managed to get the right size frame made on Friday so that's in but the sealed unit of glass won't be here til today or tomorrow.  The front door is being put on at the moment and at least I've discovered why it was so cold at the bottom of my stairs.  When the old door had been put on, the guy had left a huge void round the frame of the door that he covered with plastic trim.  It was soooo dodgy!!!

Oh and my cold has come out properly now and I feel really rough!!

Friday, 29 October 2010


Been to the Pain Clinic and at least there is light at the end of the tunnel.  The doc I saw was lovely and took time to listen to what I was feeling and asked loads of questions about my life in general.  I thought I was on the max dose of my pain killers, but it was just the maximum a GP can prescribe.  The doc at the Pain Clinic can prescribe up to the manufacturers max.  So I'm slowly upping the pills.  Although I've had some side effects, they eventually dissappeared and the pain is slowly getting better.

At the moment I am sitting in the back bedroom with loads of warm clothes on as new windows are being put into the front of my house.  Its freezing and I feel like I'm getting a cold.  Woke up this morning with a really tickly throat and sitting in a cold house isn't helping!!

I've been making some Halloween art which all started with Carrie's blog and a Halloween swap.  Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of all of them.  I really must get into the way of taking more photos.  Luckily Janet (my lovely friend from Scotland) sent me a photo of hers by e-mail.  Thanks Janet!!

This was made using a Gessoboard by Ampersand.  I used watercolour crayons, spritzed with water to make the background.  I then overstamped with a spiders web and stamped onto orange card and embossed with black EP the house, cat and 'Spookylicious'.  All of the stamps are by Elusive Images available at Graphicus.

I'll be back soon with some more of my arty / crafty makes, but for now I'll leave you with the answer to the number of petals.  It was 72.  I can't believe how close Janet was!!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Yellow Cactus Dahlia Canvas

Sorry I've been so quiet.  I'm having quite a hard time at the moment due to nueropathic pain caused by my MS.  I've got an appointment on 20th October at the Pain Clinic to see if they can help.

Anyhoo enough of my woes.

Last week a family friend, Keith, who has an allotment near my parents left a plant pot full of dahlias in their back yard.  He gives us some every year after the Leek Shows, after I told him a few years ago how much I love them.  You can see from the photo how wonderful they are!

A couple of years ago, Keith was doing some work in my house and I had some Stambord blocks that I had not long finished on the hearth.  He was fascinated by them and the rest of my artwork.  I offered to make something for him and he asked if it could be based on a yellow cactus dahlia he grown some years previously.  He gave me a tattered photo taken before digital cameras with the dahlia in the distance.  This is a close up of the yellow cactus dahlia he gave me this year (complete with greenfly!).

I first drew out what I was thinking and added some ideas for materials.  It still shocks me at how good the drawing turned out, as I couldn't really see the dahlia in the photo, so I drew this image from memory.

I knew I wanted the flower to be 3D, so working out how to do it became a real challenge.

I decided it would be best shown on a canvas, so I coloured a 12x12 deep edge canvas with various yellow and green paint.  It was so long ago I can't remember what colours or even paint I used, but I know I used a scrunched-up piece of copier paper to add green to the mix.  I didn't want the colour of the canvas to be the main focal point.

Next I hand drew some simple petal shapes onto acetate and cut the centre portion out so that I could just draw round the inside of the template to make each petal.  These are for the larger petals and I did a similar one for the smaller petals too.

I sat one night in front of the TV drawing petals onto various patterned yellow scrapbook paper.  Then the marathon cutting out started which took a while as I found it so tiring.  I knew it was going to take a lot of petals but I didn't realised just how many!
Once I cut the petals I went onto the internet to find a close up of the flower to see how the centre looked.  Its very tight with lots of smaller petals opening from it.  After a few days of thinking I came up with the idea of using a polystyrene ping-pong sized ball and painted it yellow.  I used yellow tissue paper to make the petals for the very centre as it gave the illusion of them just having opened.  While I was on the internet I got a definition of dahlia, copied into Word, changed the font and printed it onto vellum to use on the project. 
I wanted each petal to have texture so I put most of them through the Cuttlebug, using various folders with some embossed and some debossed.  I then folded the base of the petals behind and secured with tape.  This meant that they looked more like the real thing.  Once I'd finshed all of the petals I started to build the flower.  I built it off the canvas in case it didn't turn out the way I had envisaged.  I used a 2" square of card as the base and stuck the petals to it using silicone glue.  This photo is of the first two layers of petals.  This was when I realised I needed some more so another marathon tracing, cutting and taping session ensued LOL!!!
I built the centre layers of the flower separately too in case of error as the base layers were working so well.  I used a plastic cup to keep the centre upright as the ball just kept trying to roll away!!  I first attached the tissue paper but just stuck to the underside of the ball, so the tops of the petals were free to move.
As I began the lower layers of the centre I used double sided paper as the undersides could be seen and curled the paper to give the petals more 'life'.  This photo is of the completed flower.
I used TSS metal in silver to cover the sides of the canvas.  I just doodled free-hand on the metal with a couple of the TSS tools.  I needed to colour the metal to make it tone in, but don't own any Alcohol Inks (OK I can hear the gasps of horror!!).  I used brown acrylic paint applied with my finger (very carefully, so no cuts!) and then rubbed it back with a piece of kitchen towel.  I stuck it on using TSS Humungo tape and made sure the edges and corners were safe.
I tore the vellum into a long shape and spritzed it with some kind of gold mist that I think I've chucked out now!!  I then placed that and the completed flower to get the composition right. 
The canvas needed something else.  A while ago I had bought some vintage glitter rub-ons from QVC.  One of them was of a girl holding a flower which looked suspiciously like a dahlia.  I painted a smaller canvas the same colour as the base and applied the rub-on to the canvas.  It didn't really stick too well at first, but I used my finger direct onto the image and it eventually stuck, but I distressed it as it looked too pristine.  I put metal round the miniature canvas too and put a self adhesive clear dome over the flower.
I stuck everything down once I was happy with compostion using silicone or Glossy Accents.  In hindsight I don't think I shoulda used Glossy Accents on the vellum as it showed through a little, but maybe it added to the crumpled / distressed look.  I used another dome to highlight the word 'dahlia'.
To finish off I stamped an Elusive Image stamp onto Stampbord which I had coloured yellow and higlighted the stamp using a scraping tool.
This sentiment is perfect for Keith's sense of humour!!
I put a few dots of liquid pearls round the corners and a couple of yellow jewels and the canvas was ready for delivery to Keith once it dried.  he was delighted with it.  You can make your own mind up....

And by the way...can you guess how many petals it took? No prize, just for fun!!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Been to the charity shops again....

It all started cos I needed a vase for some beady twiggy wirey things I bought in a sale last week at local garden centre.  I've got them stuck in this vase at the moment but I do use it for fresh flowers, so needed something else.  Charity shops were my first port of call.

I started at the YMCA charity shop in the town centre.  They don't go in so much for displaying items and most of the stuff is on the floor.  Thats where I spotted these 2 frames.  They were £2 for the pair and once I had them in my hands I knew they HAD to be mine. 

They have 2 panels of glass with the picture 'suspended' between them.  I've not seen anything like this before.

One of them is missing its hanger but that is easily rectified.  It looks like the glass has been glued onto the back using a hot glue gun and it easy to peel off and the picture looks like its stuck to the glass at the back,  but that won't matter once its on the wall.

I have no idea what I'm gonna do with them but something about them inspired me enough to buy them.

While I was in the shop I spotted a walking stick for £5.  As I use a stick all of the time (unless I'm on crutches), I decided to measure it against my own stick.  Its slightly taller than mine, but my Dad will be able to saw an inch off the bottom for me.  I just loved the grain / pattern of the wood on the shaft and its has the kind of handle I like.

The wooden hands came from The Childrens Society shop.  They were £1.99 for the pair.  I have a thing about hands.  They fascinate me and I love drawings and ornaments of them.  I'm not sure yet if I'll leave these as is, or alter them in some way.

All in all not a bad haul for £9!!!  And I saw loads of other things I may have to go and have another look at.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Another workshop (don't do many at all, really LOL!!!!)

A couple of weeks ago Jo and I did a workshop at Graphicus in Barnard Castle run by the wonderfully talented Lynn called 'Creative Frames'.

The workshop was based around 2 frames with recesses in the middle, a piece of grey board, some dictionary paper, Grungepaper, some die cuts from Sir Tim of Holtz range and LOTS of paints and stamps!!!

Of course, as is typical of me, I never even thought about taking my camera, but Lou came to the rescue and took a couple of photos for me during the day.  Thanks Lou!!

First we chose some paint and a Distress Crackle Paint to put over the top.  I chose a Lumiere called Halo Pink Gold and Broken China in the crackle.  I painted the Lumiere all over the frame and recess and allowed to dry before applying the crackle using the brush in the pot.  It depends on how thickly you apply the paint as to what size crackles you get.  Thinly is small crackles, thickly in large ones. 

Lynn had cut us a heart out of Grungebord and embossed it with swirls.  We all stuck these onto a piece of grey board, cut to the same size as the frames, with Golden Gel Medium and stuck dictionary paper over it again using the same medium.  Once it was dry we coloured them with Distress Inks.  I chose Spiced Marmalade for the outside and Broken China for the heart.

Lynn had die cut 3 Grungepaper flowers for each for us to make roses from.  I coloured mine with the same Lumiere paint and used Broken China DI just on the edges of the petals.  Once dry I stamped a Wendy Vecchi newspaper column stamp over it to add interest, before beginning to make the rose.  If you're interested in doing this, there are tutorials on YouTube.

Lynn had also given us a couple of swirls from Grungebord and the birdcage cut from a Tim Holtz die.  I again coloured these with the same Lumiere paint.  For the bird I used Viva Precious Metal paint in a blue, browny colour for the branch and finally gave it a golden beak.  I can't remember the exact colours I used.

I stamped a couple of phrases from Wendy Vecchi stamps in the recess of both frames and across the heart too and punched out some leaves using an EK Success Rock Fern paper punch, before the workshop ended.  It was over all too soon.  I was exhausted again, but it had been so worth it!!

A few days later I got to grips with finishing the frames.  I cut another couple of swirls from Grungepaper and painted them with the same colour Lumiere.  I'm really lucky to have some of Jo's crafting stash at my house at the moment as she is having a loft conversion and has had to move out of her house for a while, so I had the paint!  I made another flower from Grungepaper using a Nestability Peony die.  I again coloured it with the same Lumiere and DI I had used on the rose.

Lynn had given us some wire to hang the frames from.  I'm not particularly good at bending wire so I twisted it and used 2 swirls with leaves on the hide it.

Between us, Jo and I had managed to put the holes in the centre grey board using a Crop-a-dile Big Bite.  I lined it up while Jo pressed the lever for the punch.  I just don't have the strength now.  Before we left the workshop, Lynn had given each of us a key cut from grey board using another Tim Holtz die.  I had always planned on putting it onto the grey board with the heart on, but it just didn't look right, so I cut another Grungepaper swirl, painted it and 'dangled' the heart from it, although it is fixed in place with Glossy Accents.

I used the rose I'd made in the workshop (with Lynn's help) on the third frame with 2 swirls and more leaves.

I stuck the wing to the bird before sticking branch the bird is sitting on to the bird cage.  I tried to shape the cage a little first, but couldn't get the branch to balance on the cage, so I ended up sticking it on the back.  Not as pretty, but at least its stuck LOL!!!

I used some beads from one of Gran's necklaces to embellish the bottom of the cage.  My Gran had 2 of these necklaces that she used to wear regularly - one clear, one red.  She was wonderful crafter and could turn her hand to anything, so I think she'd be pleased that I'm using her beads for craft projects.

All of the frames and bird cage are linked together using Tim Holtz jump rings which are invaluable.  I now have it hanging on the wall in my living room.  It was quite difficult to find a place to hang it as it is so long, but it fits there really nicely.  And so to the complete piece...

I'm really pleased with it and its a lovely reminder of a great day spent with friends, new and old - Lynn, Jo, Lesley, Margaret, Bea, Joan, Rachel and not forgetting Lou who took the wonderful 'in progress' pics on the day.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Art and Counselling (part 2) - MS Canvas

The second canvas I did for counselling was around my feeling towards my MS. I feel like its a monster that is always behind me waiting for me to relax and it'll 'bite'.

I bought a black 12 x 12 canvas and dry brushed various Ferro metallic paints on to it. My Mam had torn a piece of cardboard from a box in a wonderful shape. I painted that with more Ferro paint in blue.

I had many ideas for the canvas, but none were working, so I left it for a while as I wanted to get it just right. I tore some pages from some MS magazines that I subscribe to and eventually came up with the idea of a hungry sea monster biting at a girl dangling above it. I used a citrus Paint Dabber to colour the monster and a Tippex pen to colour the teeth and put the spots on.

Next I took a picture of a model out of a magazine and glued it to a piece of card for strength before cutting it out.  I coloured her in grey with a wax crayon (the only thing to hand and I couldn't be bothered to stand up!) and gave her red shoes.  If I could, I'd wear red HIGH heels.  The shoe falling off represents the way that each time MS bites (in the form of a relapse) it takes a little of you away.  At the moment its just my red high heels!

I wanted it to seem like a fifties cartoon strip so I gave the monster and heroine speech bubbles cut from MS magazines.  I also did a little 'commentary' to bring it all together, again from MS magazines.

The whole canvas depicts totally how I feel about the MS.  I dangled the heroine string which I hammered into the top of the canvas with a decorative staple.  I say hammered because the speciality stapler it came from wouldn't work like a normal stapler when you can use just the top to staple, so I hammered it in instead!

Here is the front of the canvas.

The back of the canvas is also 'decorated'.  I used pictures cut from MS magazines again to show some of the symptoms I suffer from.  The left one shows how I can never know what is round the corner for me.  The middle is depression.  The right is fatigue.  Even looking at that photo gives me the wobbles.  I know I'd never manage those stairs!

I then wrote 'MS' in orange (the colour of the MS Society) and crossed it out in green, the colour of the MS Resource Centre (MSRC) who I support and sell cards at Christmas in aid of.  They have been a great help to me since I was diagnosed.

So there you have it, my MS Canvas and it was very, very cathartic to do.