Sunday, November 18, 2007

Exploding Box

It was one of those moments... I was browsing around in a website gallery yesterday when I saw something that made me look twice: an "Explosion Box" card. So, I spent the evening making a prototype, without embellishments, just to test the process, and am very pleased with it. I've several projects on my workbench that I must finish today, but I'm already itching to make more of these, both as Xmas cards and/or gifts, or for other projects. My granddaughters simply love to have little albums with pictures of themselves, and I can already see their faces when they find one of these among their gifts on St. Nikolaus Day (6th December).

St. Nikolaus Day is a custom celebrated in many German-speaking countries on December 6th. On the evening of the 5th, children leave one of their shoes outside the door. When they get up on the 6th, and if they have behaved well throughout the year, St. Nikolaus will have filled the shoes with sweets, nuts, apples,oranges, and sometimes a small gift. Traditionally, children who have behaved badly get a lump of coal or a switch made of birch twigs instead of goodies, but that rarely happens, except as a parental joke.

St. Nikolaus Day

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Home Crafts Fair

I woke up to a world sprinkled with snow this morning. It won't lie once the sun rises, but even so... There will be no cycle tour for me this afternoon, that's for sure.

Today I want to work on some ideas for the cards for the little arty party I'm planning. I'm trying out ideas for cards that can be completed in 15-30 minutes each while still looking good --as in more than just a square of card and a sticker. I'll make (and time) the samples and show them to the women tomorrow.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours at a home crafts fair here in town. The fair takes place twice a year and it quite amazing. Some of the vendors are professionals, but the majority are people like you and me, who sell the art and crafts they've made at home in their spare time. You might imagine it as a huge bazaar on three floors with around 150 stalls and booths.

Most of the work on offer is crafts rather than art, and yesterday most of it was geared to Christmas, as you might imagine. Even so, it was a delight to see how creative and productive people in the region are.

I lived in Berlin for twenty years, and I visited many bazaars and fairs there, but the fair in Rendsburg is larger and more diverse than any of them (and the prices are far more reasonable).
I didn't buy much, because most of what I saw wasn't my style, though I truly enjoyed seeing the items. It was a feast for the eyes and senses. One woman had sewn the most loveable cloth and string "rag" dolls. I almost gave in, because one of them tugged in me, but the one thing I don't need is more stuff lying around. Ha! I produce enough of that myself!

What I did buy were two gingham hearts to give to my two younger granddaughters, some lengths of ribbon, a pot of delicious homemade spiced "Christmas" jam, and four heart ornaments that I'll either hang in my flat or use as gift decorations.

On the way out I picked up an application for both of next year's fairs. I'm considering my own stand, but need give the idea a little thought and do some research before making a decision.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Scrolls and Flowers

With Christmas in mind, and because I wanted a flower and leaf stamp, too, I purchased this stamp sheet from Aud Design in Norway a couple of weeks back. I'm so pleased, both with the stamps themselves and with the wonderful, speedy service, that I wanted to share the site with you.

I received the stamp sheet two days after ordering. Aud offers to cut off the edges to save postage (which is very high in most of Europe), and I think that's a great example of thinking of the customer.

The stamps are deeply etched into high quality rubber and make crisp, clear impressions. I've already used them in a couple of projects and am delighted with the outcomes. I've uploaded one of the projects as a show and tell in a separate post below.

Aud Design

Doodle Shapes

Although I don't usually do "crafts", I'm going to show a group of women how they can make Christmas cards themselves, so I'm playing with ideas at the moment.

One approach I came up with is to doodle in shapes and then apply the shapes to cards. I apologise for the quality of the images. I was simply too lazy to do them again when I saw how dark some of them were.

I tried the technique on some 8 x 10cm cards I'm making for another project (which I'll post a few days from now).
I started out by drawing or tracing shapes -- hearts, circles, and ovals, on watercolour paper scraps I had left over from a different project. Any heavy paper or thin card will do, though.

I then "took a line for a walk" across all the shapes. I found it made nicer patterns if I was able to make wider sweeps. All I did was draw random loops, scrolls, and circles, going over the lines. The scribbles outside the lines of the shapes are simply cut away in a later step. I got the nicest outcome when I drew the lines with a cheap gold gel pen. Euro/dollar store gel pens are plenty good enough for this project.

I colored some of the fields within the shapes with gold gel pen, then filled in the remaining fields using two or three tone-in-tone colors. I used a gel pens and watercolour pencils or a combination of the two. When the shapes were filled, I first went over the watercolour pencil with a damp brush to make the color more arty and to blend away the pencil marks. When the shape was dry, I rubbed lightly over the colors with a baby wipe to blend.

The next step was to glue the shape to a piece of light card for stability and then to cut out the shape. This removes the "over the edges" lines.
The final step was to attach the shapes to the cards, which I first stamped with one of the scrolls from the Aud Design stamp sheet I mentioned in the post above. It's not easy to see in the photo at the top of the post, but I used sticky foam pads to attach the shapes, so they are raised.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Tribal Journal

This is a little album/journal I made as a surprise for a young woman called Franziska this weekend. She saw photos of a similar journal I made around a year ago and was so enamoured of it that I decided to make this book for her. It's a very simple affair with a single signature and bookboard covers. I'm also going to give her a pre-sewn signature and pre-cut boards, so she can make a second journal for herself.

I cut four pages and colored them using Caran d'Ache Neocolour II, my favorite water soluble crayons. The pages were edged using torn strips of brown transparent paper and strips of leopard tissue. I had a pile of laser jet (self-printed) acetate transparency tribals in my stash, so I painted the back of some of them with copper metallic acrylic paint and left the rest unpainted. The tribals were glued on using gel medium, and I added more detail using a couple of tribal stamps.

After edging the pages with an ink pad, I folded them and sewed the signature.
I prepared the covers by painting them with gesso and drawing a comb through it while still wet. After the gesso dried, I painted it using deep yellow, burnt umber, vermillion, and copper acrylics. I cut a strip of corrugated card and painted it copper metallic, then applied a larger tribal on top and glued it to the cover. Once dry, I glued the signature to the rear side of the boards and inked the edges of the boards. The spine is covered with a strip of bookcloth painted copper.

As a final touch, I threaded yarns through the holes on the corrugated card.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Divine Feminine 3

Here are the final three arches I made for the "Divine Feminine" swap. The arches destined for others are already in the mail, and I'm now eagerly awaiting the arrival of those intended for me.

The idea we had was to combine the "Thirteenth Month" arches with the "Divine Feminine", so, once the arches have arrived, I'll need to consider how I want to bind them. I can already tell it is going to be an awesome book once it's finished.

This has been an extremely satisfying project for me and, I gather, for the other participants, as both themes spoke to us deeply, and the arches created by all participants were rich, deep, and evocative.

I'm also looking forward to the outcome of the "Seasons" doll swap which will be on their way home soon, as well. I've already seen a photo of all the gorgeous dolls that were made, and I can hardly wait to see which of them will be mine.