Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A Craft Stamper inspired card

I was intrigued by the background that Elaine Hughes made for her article in the August edition of the Craft Stamper magazine, and I decided to have a go with my promarkers.  This card is the result.

The fairy stamp and the sentiment are by Linda Mason of Personal Impressions, and the twigs are from one of my old Paper Artsy Hotpick sets.  The flowers were cut using my new Memory Box die called (I think!) “Winterberry” .  I slapped the flowers on to cover stamping “glitches”, and didn’t think to shape them!  All the stamping was done with black Memento, and the Promarkers I used were Cyan, Arctic Blue and Sky Blue.  I put Stickles on the wings.

Friday, 14 September 2012

First Time Stamp

This is the theme for the September ATC swap over on UK Stampers.  We were supposed to use stamps that we had never inked before, but that isn’t strictly possible for me, as I always try out any stamp immediately I get it.  I like to check whether its going to give a good image, whether I like it (or hate it!) and whether parts of it could be used for something else.  So for these ATCs, I decided to use stamps that I have never used on a project before.

Apart from the alphabet, all the stamps are freebies from Craft Stamper magazine.

I stamped the cockerel in black Memento and coloured it with Promarkers.  I hung the word part of the stamp off the edge of my acrylic block, and covered the words with paper while I inked it, but I still had to try 5 times to get a decent image without a ghost of the words!  I doubt if I shall use this stamp again, except for the tail feathers.  To cap it all, I dropped a Promarker on the card when everything was complete, so I had to put dots all over the background to hide the mistake.  Grrrrh!!

I don’t “do” cute, so the rabbit stamp will probably also never see ink again.  It is too small, so I cheated on the theme a bit and used my old alphabet stamps to fill in the space.  I used the Octopode castle stamp to make the bunting – another cheat, as I have used it this way before, but I have never used the stamp as a whole image.  I did the stamping with black Memento and coloured with Promarkers.

The “Visage” ATC is an extension of an experiment I have been doing, based on the “Art de Fleur” article by Helen Chilton, in the October issue of Craft Stamper.  After 1 utter failure, I managed to make 2 fairly successful tags, so I decided to use the technique on this ATC.  Helen's words “let the ink dry” led to hours of frustration and to finding out that Stazon is not permanent on top of my oil pastels!  The stamping wiped right off my first attempt!!  In trying to do the embossing, the card kept moving inside the folder, so the Stazon and the pastel transferred onto the plastic, which took a lot of cleaning.  I found it very difficult to do the partial embossing, as my Bigshot is electric, and I couldn’t stop it in the right place.  Frustration led me to putting the whole of the 2nd tag into my “wood-grain” embossing folder, which rubbed off almost all the Stazon!  Grrrrh again!!!!  And more cleaning!  The ATC was easier to make, being so much smaller, but the Bigshot still bent the edges, and I managed to mar the stamping slightly before I remembered my can of fixative spray.  When it came to the final embellishments, I don’t have any Fran-tage, so I dripped ink onto some silver-coloured mica flakes on my craft mat, mopped up the excess with kitchen towel, then zapped the flakes with my heat gun.  It worked quite well, as the ink stuck the flakes to the mat, and very few blew away.  I shall have to remember that trick!  I stuck the flakes onto the ATC with PVA glue.

As usual, getting the photo right was a nightmare, as the adjustments that suited the white ATCs didn’t suit the pink one.  The white is too green and the pink is too purple.  I suppose I should have photographed them separately, but everything is easier in hindsight, isn’t it?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Patchwork Clown Doll - a work in progress

I have been wanting to make a patchwork clown doll for ages, I don’t know why, but the idea just appealed to me.  As I haven’t done very much patchwork in the past, I didn’t really know where to start!  Luckily, we have a small patchwork shop called The Button Tree, here in Wolverhampton, so I went in for some advice.  The woman told me to stick to rectangles to start off with, and to stagger the joins, so that any unevenness would be less noticeable.  I decided to use this idea to make a sort-of brick pattern, with a nod towards Bargello.  She also told me to concentrate on making up a piece of fabric first, and then cut out the clown’s clothes. At the Ali Pali show some time ago, I bought some papier mache eggs from the Decopatch stall, to use as doll heads.  I tried to find something to make hands and feet out of, as I have had no luck using polymer clay, and I thought I might have found the answer on the Friendly Plastic stall.  There were some nice little hand-shaped cutters – but no feet!  Shucks!!   Back to the drawing-board!!! Weeks later I had got together all my fabrics, old stamp-blocks for the body and metal bits to fasten them together, and I had found out where to buy dowelling for the arms and legs.  Then I looked for my eggs, so that I could decide what size of doll I was going to make, but I couldn’t find them anywhere!  And I still didn’t have any hands or feet.  By this time I was ill, and I couldn’t cope with the disappointment, so I put the whole idea aside for later. At the beginning of August I treated myself to a day out in the city centre, and wandered into the Works bookshop, where I found this for the silly price of £1.99:-

It is only 5 inches tall, from the soles of its feet to the top of its head, and it is a bit crudely made, but it was a complete solution to my problems, so I decided to buy it.  I had planned to make a sitting doll, but this little model wont sit, so I had to change my plan. Now it was time for some patchwork fun!  I cut a 1 inch wide strip of each of my six fabrics, stitched them all together, with 1/8th inch seams as advised.  Then I pressed all the seam-allowances to one side.  This left me with a long, narrow, striped piece, which I cut into three lengths.  I stitched the pieces together the other way, keeping the order of the colours correct and pressed the allowances again.  Then I cut 1 inch strips across the stripes.  I laid the strips down beside each other, keeping the colours in the right order, then moved every second strip down by one and a half patches, to stagger the colours and joins.  Stitching the strips together was a bit nerve-wracking, as I kept being interrupted and losing my place!  As I went along, I unpicked the bottom patch of each strip that I had moved down, and stitched it on at the top of the same strip, so as to even out the top and bottom edges a bit.  When I had finished, I had a fairly flat piece with a brick pattern, which was what I was aiming at (though it was slightly irregular!), but I’d got my logic wrong, and the brick pattern was vertical!  Hey ho!  The woman in the patchwork shop had suggested that I back my piece with muslin, but I decided not to, as the piece was a lot stiffer than I had expected, and I thought it might prevent me from gathering it at the neck. In order to make a pattern for the clothes, I decided to make a voile (if I’ve got the term right!).  Using my (rather rusty) experience of dress-making and pattern-cutting, I made a rough pattern for a quarter of the main part, and cut the 4 pieces out of an old hanky.  I laid these out on the patchwork, to see how much I would have left for the sleeves, and luckily there was enough, if I only made a very small, plain hem at the wrist and ankles.  I decided to cut the sleeves in a raglan style, with the top edge incorporated into the neck gathers.  The voile worked out, when I tried it on the doll, so I cut all the parts out of patchwork and sewed them up, leaving a hemmed opening in the back seam.  I hadn’t allowed quite enough “height” at the neck, so I faced that edge with a strip of plain orange fabric, then I worked the gathers in the facing and the turnings and pulled them up.  I finished the back with a comically-oversized button and a thread loop.  To fit the clothes on the doll, I pulled out it’s “stick”, and pushed the end through a gap in the stitches of the back seam just above the crotch, then refitted the stick.

This is what the doll looks like now:-

To finish off, I had planned to add a hat, a set of juggling balls and a sort-of ruff as a collar.  However my inspiration dried up at this point, and then I ran out of time, because I was packing to go for a holiday on my boat, so I wrote the project up roughly and put everything away for later.  I didn’t have time to post it on my blog at that time, so here it is a month late!

Hopefully, my inspiration will re-emerge at some point, and I will add the finishing touches to my doll.