Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Journaling Workshop with Birgit Koopsen Bernstein

Hello again - luckily not so long between posts this time :o) thanks mainly to the lovely Sue Tucker from Art Workshops (link to the Facebook page) having arranged a wonderful weekend of workshops with the lovely Birgit Koopsen Bernstein (please do follow the link to her site and have a look through her work) back up in Middlesborough.  This is the first time that Birgit has taught in the UK so it was a wonderful opportunity to see something new.  I could only manage the Sunday unfortunately, I would have loved to do the whole weekend but it was not to be - that said the day I did attend was wonderful, I can't believe we got through so many different techniques!!

If you've followed my past posts at all, you'll probably know that I've toyed with the whole idea of journaling for ages but not really got very far with it.  This is partly do with a 'fear' or starting.  When you are sat staring at a blank page it can be quite daunting knowing how or where to start.  The beauty of this workshop was that we started with a completely blank journal and just played with lots of messy inks, and paints all day, making backgrounds in different ways, before focusing in on completing some of the pages.



We worked with acrylic inks (they were new to me but I really like them!), acrylic paints, water colour pencils and shaving foam! Yes shaving foam - great technique and quite addictive!!

Really like this one - I can see a fairy in there waiting for me to reveal her!

Then we worked on finishing a few pages up - so more messy play with paints and inks :o) !!

I hope you like these pages.  I feel a little braver about journaling now.  I've joined up to Irreversibly Moi's challenge - Fall in Love With Art Journaling which will last 10 weeks - here's hoping I can keep up with it.  The first challenge was to use your initials to create a page - I decided to create a basic page, using just my first initial 'S' and I created it with a Uni-Posca  gold pen and a purple coloured biro.

Thanks for reading

Stefanie :o)

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Playing with Powertex :o)

Hi, apologies for delayed absence, have been really struggling with my Fibro and unfortunately my crafty mojo completely vanished for a while :(  Because of this I have taken the tough decision to step down from the Design Teams at Rhedd's Creative Spirit and Altered Eclectics.  Hopefully though it won't be too long before I'm back up and running and entering their great challenges again, I've missed entering them even though I've really enjoyed being on the DTs.

Anyway enough moaning (sorry!) before I plummeted, I had booked onto a Powertex workshop with Ali-Crafts, and I dug deep to make the effort to still attend, as it is something I've wanted to work with for ages.  Powertex is a fabric hardener that gives you the ability to sculpt with textiles - it's also water based and environmentally friendly - what's not to love!?!

So we started off by choosing what type of figure we would like to make,  they have a selections of head styles; I chose a Masai warrior and Freyesha (a lovely fairy artist) chose a beautiful maiden.  We then fastened this onto a piece of dowel on a wooden block and wrapped it and bulked it out to give it the form we wanted.  Once happy with the basic shape we painted this with the Powertex liquid.

This dried pretty quickly, but once you start coating the fabric pieces, they will take longer to dry.

So then we had to choose which fabric to use as a covering for our pieces - cotton based is one of the best as it still dries fairly quickly but if you're not pushed for time you could use any.  I had a large piece from a linen type shirt, and an edging piece from something like a cardigan (just drawn out of the very ample scrap bag!)  We dunked them in the Powertex and then worked it into the fabric before working out where to position it on the model.  I wanted mine to look like the bright colourful blankets I've seen the Masai wear in documentaries and so I first placed it on the shoulders and then draped it around the front.  Once happy with that I moved on to the woollen fringed piece and positioned this in a similar way.

We then had a break for lunch during which time the pieces dried enough for us to begin working on them with Treasure Gold (gorgeous scrummy product!!) I also took pictures of Ali's (who led the workshop) and Freyesha's figurines so you can see how different they can look.

I used treasure gold pastes which had a reddish tone as they worked really well with my visions of a Masai warrior, and also blend in well with my home decor (!) I'm really pleased with the finish piece which now lives on my sitting room hearth.

If you fancy giving it a go yourself, and you're local to Lincolnshire I highly recommend Ali-Craft Workshops - they are lovely people and really enjoy what they do :o)

Thanks for reading - hopefully next post won't be so long in the writing!!

Stefanie :o) xx

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Sea Witch Canvas for Rhedd's Creative Spirit

Hi, firstly apologies for my prolonged absence, I've been dramatically under the weather with a bit of a Fibro flare, and despite even the thought of crafting usually lifting me it just didn't happen.  However, we've now had some sunshine, my other half persuaded me to get out in the garden and I am improving :)  (edited to add - apologies for the late appearance of this post, I'd scheduled it for the 1st but it didn't work!!) 

So this month, my creation for Rhedd's Creative Spirit is actually a repurposing.  I had a very early canvas that I'd painted, my first dabble with expanding paint (not actually sure that's its' name) but it's a paint that puffs up as it dries.  Clever stuff!!

As it was an early piece, I've not been able to move past it, even though I didn't really like it.  It just sat on ine side in my dining room, being ignored.

The other day, still feeling a bit fed up with things, I decided its' time had come.  I needed to do something bold and dramatic, and I decided that to begin again from scratch with this canvas would be a great catalyst.

The original colour was white, silver and a pale turquoise, unfortunately I didn't think to take a 'before' picture, as I wasn't truly sure how this would work out!

I started with various shades of blue acrylics and literally just slapped it on all over!  I blended some metallic green to some of the blue a slapped it on too!  It was quite liberating really as I didn't have any plan as to where I was going with it.

Once dried, I dabbed some white flecks onto the textured areas (from the puffed paint) which is when I started to think of a bubbling sea.  I then added some greeny-blue fibres using gel medium.

This seemed to create rays emanating from the corner, so I pondered what I could add to the corner.  Then I remembered I had made some moulded clay faces ages ago and not used them I used some more gel medium to add a face to the corner, along with some more beads.  I painted the face with a slightly darker greeny-blue.

I didn't think the small piece of netting was quite enough and so I added some floristry wire which was hexagonal (a bit like chicken wire) and trimmed it to fit around the face.  I also added some light green seed beads around her face and along where I'd added the fibres.

Then to balance it out, I added a pile of Chinese coins in the opposite corner, again adding a touch of rub and buff.

I really enjoyed playing freeform, and it has helped me begin to feel better - let's hope this continues!!

Thanks for reading

Steffi :o) xx

Friday, 1 May 2015

Fabric Scrappy Canvas for Altered Eclectics

And now for something completely different! Well maybe not completely, but it's been a while since I shared anything sewing based.

I have got rather a lot of fabric hidden (I mean stored) away, and often when you make something with fabrics there are bits left over.

Wanting to do something that felt a bit cheery and springlike, I decided to raid my leftover fabric stash, to cover a thin canvas board I had.

I grabbed a random selection of offcuts which I then arranged over a sheet of Heat & Bond (hard to describe - but it's essentially a paper based glue for fabric that is heat activated). Once I was happy with the layout I then pressed over it with an iron - at this point it's best to place a thin cloth over the piece so that none of the glue ends up stuck on the base plate of the iron - if it did it would most likely ruin it!

The next stage is to take it over to the sewing machine - all the scraps will be held in place by the heat and bond so you shouldn't lose any on the way! I chose to use a variety of my machine's stitches and different brightly coloured threads to edge each of the scraps. Where they overlapped, I stitched up to the next piece of fabric to make it look like the stitches carried on underneath.

I then wanted to add a sentiment, so I chose a SuziQ one and stamped it using standard black Archival ink onto a piece of plain calico. I did a bit of research online to see which inks were recommended, some people seem to prefer Stazon, but I did find one link to a blog where she had used about 10 different ink pads, and then ironed and washed them. (if I can find the link again, I'll pop back and add it here). The Archival came out as well as any of the others so I went with that. I also added a little colour using Zig fabric markers which are permanent once ironed.   I then stitched this into place by again stitched round it.

I then placed the whole piece on a sheet of pelmet vilene interfacing) and sewed all the way around the randomly shaped top piece using a zig-zag stitch. Once I'd done this, I trimmed the vilene back to the stitched edge, and using pva glue attached it to the canvas board.

I'm really happy with this piece of fabric art, just looking at it makes me smile.

Thanks for reading
Steffi :o)

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Altered Beermats for Rhedd's Creative Spirit

Hi, today I'm sharing some altered beermats that I turned into little wall hangings for a recent swap.

They started off as ordinary beermats (other makes of beer are available :o) ) and then I coated them with black gesso.

Then I took a couple of sheets of some designer paper, tore them in order to give a distressed edge, and, placing the beermats on the diagonal, covered one half with the papers in two layers.  On the uncovered half I attached a wooden key and lock which I had coloured with my Krylon copper leafing pen.

The swap was for a 4" x 4" square, and these mats were just under, so I glued a piece of black card to the back, before writing my sentiment, which I'd based on how I'd decorated the front:  'Peel back the layers and unlock your true inner beauty', I added a piece of filigree at the base and doodled a border around the edge.

I then used my crop-a-dile (love it!!) to add an eyelet to the top corner, and strung some ribbon through to create a hanging loop.

Turning back to the front, I realised that the extra piece of card had created a frame, so I used my Krylon on this too.

I wish I'd made more as I would have kept one for myself! 

Thanks for reading 
Steffi :o)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Starfire and Crystals (mid-month post for Rhedd's Creative Spirit DT)

Today I am sharing this little wall hanging, created on two 5" x 7" canvas boards. These are quite easy to find in various shops and are fairly inexpensive , I think these came from The Works but I have also seen them in The Range.  I have also shared this over on Rhedd's Creative Spirit as the mid-month tutorial - do pop along and see the other DT pieces and maybe enter it yourself?

It took me a while to work out just what I was going to make, and as usual the finished piece is totally different than what I started with in my minds eye!!

I was going to paint the boards with acrylics, but after I decided on the main image I was going to use I thought I would like to enter this in the Dylusion's Challenge page on Facebook - each month they set a challenge with different 'rules' for April it is to use Blue, Red and Stars.

Once I'd decided what my theme was going to be I applied DecoArt Texture Sand paste through a star stencil to one of the canvas boards, and then allowed it to dry overnight.   You can use a heat-gun to dry texture pastes, but sometimes this will give you a different finish effect. They can puff up, go extra smooth or crack a little - this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is worth being aware of. I found an interesting blog post where the blogger had compared the different results, here:  http://sarathings.com/2012/06/27/tuesday-techniques-stencils-part-4-modeling-pastes/

Next, colour. As the boards are already primed with double gesso I decided to go straight in with ink sprays. I used London Blue and Black Marble. I wet the boards first and then applied the inks, letting them merge into each other, I tried to keep the darker areas to the edges by spraying the black in this area, and the blue more to the middle, although on the 'star' board a little streak of the darker colours has run through the middle - I actually like this although I was trying to avoid it.

Once the inks had dried I applied some Rub'n'buff in Gold Leaf lightly to each of the textured stars.   This gave just a hint of a gleam and at first I was happy with this. As the rest of the piece evolved I decided to add a small amount of gold glitter glue on top. I crossed my fingers that I wouldn't have to start over, and when the glitter glue was dry in was relieved with the results - the two combined mediums gave a slightly muted appearance, with just a touch of glitter.

I typed out my chosen quote 'Until you are broken, you don't know what you are made of' in a Word document and played around with the size and font until I was happy, and then printed onto white card. I then stamped my image 'Survivor', one of Dyan Reaveley's newer stamps (and one I just had to have as soon as I saw it!!) using Archival Ink in black.

I coloured the stamped image with Dylusion's Cherry Pie in a water brush, this was on the body and parts of her hair, and when dry I used a couple of promarkers in oranges and yellows on the east. I fussy cut her, and cut the quote into individual words.  I used Tattered Rose Distress Ink to colour the words and then edged with Brushed Corduroy - this worked fine for me, but as they were printed not stamped they do bleed a little, this will either suit your project or ruin it completely, so do check you are happy, I know some people will seal printed pieces with hairspray, to stop this bleeding, but I haven't tried this - yet!!

I then tried to work out on my layout, so I placed 'Survivor' towards one edge on the lower board, and then played around with where the words of the quote would fit. Once I was happy with this I decided that it would use some tiny gemstone chips that I've had for ages, and arrange them in lines as if they were radiating from her. I used Finnabair's 3D gel to position them on the canvas boards. (In this picture the gel is showing up as white but it does dry clear and transparent)

Whilst the crystals were drying, I decided to use some sealer on the coloured image and the quote, but (stupidly!) placed them on some cardboard packable to do this. The sealant ran over the edges and, if I hadn't realised and moved them sooner it would have totally stuck the paper to the cardboard.   I usually do anything like that when the pieces being sealed are in their final position, or on some plastic or polythene that they won't stick to.  I hadn't done them in situ as I hadn't wanted to seal the whole board, just the stamped and printed bits.

I have used a Crop-a-dile to punch holes into the boards and then add eyelets, and then used some chain to fasten the two together, and to create a hanger.  The final touch was just to edge the boards with a little black Archival ink, and also a few glitter glue swirls alongside the crystals.

I loved this image from Dyan Reavely as soon as I saw it, with having Fibromyalgia, most days throw up their own challenges, and this reminds me of a strong woman who has come through a lot; teaming it with quote really spoke to me, and in the same way that little boys are made from slugs and snails in the nursery rhyme, I see this survivor as being made from Starfire and Crystals, but only realising when she has come out on the other side of her battles.

Thanks for reading,  I hope you like this as much as I do.

Steffi :o)

I would like to enter this into the following challenges :

A Creative Need - Collages - here https://acreativeneed.wordpress.com/join-in-the-monthly-challenge/

Mixed Media - Creative Gym Exercise 6 - Words and Letters - here http://mixedmediaplace.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/creative-gym-exercise-6.html

Stamp and Create - April Anything Goes - here http://stampandcreateblog.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/april-challenge-anything-goes.html


Artful Times - Challenge 78 Tattered and Torn - I interpret my 'Survivor' as having been tattered and torn with her battle scars - here http://artfultimes.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/challenge-78-tattered-and-torn.html

Monday, 13 April 2015

Andy Skinner Workshop at Art Workshops Wynyard

Oh my goodness, I just realised that I haven't shared details of the last workshop I attended, Andy Skinner's one organised by the lovely Sue of Art Workshops Wynyard.

When we arrived, we were greeted as usual by a layout of what we would be working with during the workshop.  So for this, we had some pre-cut greyboard in different shapes and sizes, all numbered with their eventual position on the finished project.

I won't share the individual steps we used to create all the pieces, as no-one can do this better than the man himself, Andy Skinner (take a look at his website here: https://www.andyskinnercrafts.com/ , his YouTube channel, and his Facebook page) so here are just two photos of part of the process.

The second photo shows a stage of the amazing rusting technique Andy shared with us, I was totally blown away, and can't wait to use it again!!

And this is a photo of my finished mirror, with all the completed pieces in their correct places!! It was a great day, Andy shared many techniques with us, and we got to play with lots of the DecoArt mediums in different ways - this is really important as it helped me to see which I liked the best, making them a 'Need to Buy!!' item, and which I could put on my Wish List for later!  

If you ever get the opportunity to attend one of Andy's workshops, I definitely recommend it, I certainly hope I get the chance to go to one again!

Thanks for reading
Steffi xx

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Elemental Wands - for Altered Eclectics

For my Altered Eclectic DT post this month, I've decided to show some elemental wands that I've made, I think they come under the title of 'altered art' as they started of as twigs!  This is a photo of them all together.

Many spiritual traditions believe in the importance of different elements within daily life, health and balance.  These include traditions such as Ayuverdic (yoga and medicines), Ancient Chinese (with acupuncture), Buddhism and Paganism.

In some traditions the elements are considered to be Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water, whereas in Paganism we recognise Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit.  I have created a wand for each of these elements and have them on a display shelf in my front room.

When creating each of the wands, I focussed on my belief's and feelings about each element to ensure that this filtered through to the piece itself.  I simply used a sharp penknife and craft blade for tools and combined this with threads, wool and other fibres and jewellery components such as beads and metal wires and foils.


Some of the characteristics attributed to Earth are, strength, nuturing, stability and balance, and related colours include brown and green.

For this wand I used a twig that was of an equal shape - ie it had two straight pieces each coming from a central pivot.  I removed all the bark, apart from the middle section.  At each end I wrapped a mixture of brown and green embroidery threads, interspersed with some strands of copper foil.  I feel that I have created a piece that truly represents Earth.


Air is seen as the element of communication, freedom and of a clear mind.  Think of the phrase 'blowing away the cobwebs' and the belief that thoughts and wishes are carried away on the wind in the same way as dandelion seed.  There are many given colours for correspondence with Air, these include white, sky blue. pastels and yellow.


I treated the bark differently for this wand, removing some in directional lines which appear a little as dashes, leading to the sharpened point at the end, I wanted this to represent two-way communication, both talking and listening and reaching an agreeable conclusion.  I used blue and purple threads and then added various charms, some in moon shapes, feathers and a butterfly to show the movement through air and some heart shaped ones to convey loving communication.


Fire is seen as quick, passionate and creative, you can be said to have a 'fire in your belly' when you are determined to achieve something, or to 'burn with desire'.  There are also connotations of change, or of a new beginning, if you think of tales of the Phoenix bird. Obvious colour associations are reds and oranges.


I really liked the twisty shape of this twig, it reminded me of the way in which flames in a fire dance.  I simply chose a set of beautifully coloured fibres to wrap around one end of this wand, tying wooden beads on the ends, and I found this lovely red piece of suedette cloth, to me it represented warmth and so I added this to the other end.


Regarded as the element of emotion.  Fast flowing water is purifying, clear and pure whilst stagnant water is stale and murky - this is true of our emotions also, if we acknowledge them and let them out it is better for our health, whereas bottling them up inside can be damaging

For this I deliberately chose a straight stick, water always finds its' own path and will even find its' way through stone over time, so I wanted to represent this as straight and direct.  I used wool in greeny-blue tones and added small shells.  I wanted this to remind me to allow my emotions to flow free as I have a tendency to hold them in (my birthsign is Aquarius - the water carrier - which is probably why I keep them in).


Well I guess Spirit really speaks for itself, it is the one element that runs through all the rest, and connects everything to everything else.  Colours given as correspondences for Spirit are usually white black and purple.


I decided to use my intuition (which I think is always best in any case) when it came to the colours I used on this wand, when I think of Spirit I ususally see blues and flashes of silver so this is what I used to wrap the end of this wand. First though I removed all of the bark from this twig, I wanted to be able to connect deeply with the inner core and not a superficial surface.  The only other pieces added were a feather, long held by many traditions to represent Spirit, and a bead with the Yin-Yang symbol - I firmly belief that both the masculine and feminine energies need to be present to complete a perfect 'whole' and a state of harmony and balance.  I feel that this ancient symbol, originally Chinese represents this balance perfectly.

Many thanks for reading this blog-post which has included a little of my Pagan viewpoint, do remember though that I do not intend to impose this on anyone, I feel an individual knows their own truth and must find it themselves.