A catch up on broadband, cats, life in Portpatrick and Chocolate Baroque

In my last post I was bemoaning the lack of broadband and I am delighted to say we did finally get it on December 2nd!  You’d be forgiven for thinking this would be the start of regular blogging, but it actually meant we could finally push on and get the new Chocolate Baroque website finished and launched.  Adrian and I did most of the work on the site ourselves and in those final weeks, it was occupying most of my time and all of my mental and creative capacity.

Once we got the site launched on December 18th, getting Christmas presents and cards sorted suddenly became the top priority, then in the blink of an eye both Christmas and New Year had come and gone.  I prepared to hit the ground running at the start of January, but just hit the ground instead, floored by the vicious sinus cold thing that has been going around.

That then meant I had a backlog to deal with and a bunch of deadlines I had to extend.  I have been working hard on a new 12 month long project for Chocolate Baroque and we just launched it yesterday, behind schedule but at least it is still January!!  It’s called A Year of Stamping with Chocolate Baroque and you can read all about it on the Shop Blog.

AYOS 01 Jan 2015 wip1

And talking of blogs, I know this one seems to be gathering cobwebs and tumbleweeds and there’s a reason for that.  I am trying to make a distinction between my own creative stuff and the business.  I love Chocolate Baroque to bits, but always felt a little uncomfortable turning my own blog into a constant advert for it, so instead, I will be doing things like product reviews, projects and tutorials on the CB shop blog and keeping this blog for more personal stuff.

For example, I’m doing a lot of crochet lately. Fans of Chocolate Baroque stamps probably aren’t that interested, but I know many of my readers are similar to me in that they enjoy a wide range of crafts.  We still have quite a lot to do to the house, including sorting out curtains and central heating to get the place cozier, which might have something to do with my desire to make a blanket.

I am making a tunisian crochet entrelac blanket which is a lot less complicated than it sounds.  It is worked in squares, working up a diagonal path which means that it is great for space dyed yarn as you get a checkerboard effect without having to change colours.  The yarn I am using is called Amazing by Lion Brand yarns and it’s a lovely soft wool blend (the colour is Glacier Bay).

entrelac blanket

I’m also still reaping the benefits of the two classes I took in Ireland last year and doing more painting and journaling.

Sometimes the journaling is just too private to share – after all, that’s the beauty of a journal, it’s a private, sacred place to express inner thoughts, to vent, to experiment and for me, to problem solve.  I ask my journal questions an awful lot, then I write, doodle, paint and glue until the answers come through.  Other times it’s a statement of intent like this spread here.

completion

click on the image to see the full size version

Completion is my word of the year for 2015 – most of the clutter in my studio is unfinished work and things I’m keeping “just in case” I ever need them.  In business I’m a huge advocate of playing to your strengths and delegating your weaknesses.  (Adrian is a detail freak so he does all our proof reading – a job I don’t enjoy, but he’s brilliant at it.)  However that doesn’t work with art, I can’t delegate the completion of a card or a painting to anyone else, so my goal this year is to get over the perfectionism of not finishing (it can’t be criticised if it’s unfinished) and get on and complete things.

There are faces on this journal spread too because I just love drawing and painting faces.  I included the Boticellis as something to aspire to and the painting is a copied from a photo.  I am ok at poker faces, but I’m trying to learn how to do more expressions.  I’m fascinated by the way the shapes change when someone smiles – the eyes are flatter at the bottom, there are wrinkles at the corners, the cheekbones become more pronounced and teeth – oh boy, teeth are hard and they are definitely not white.

I’ve actually added to this spread since the photo, practising painting aliums, and experimenting with something called TAP – Transfer Artist’s Paper.  You can print onto it with an inkjet printer then iron it onto another surface and it will transfer the image.  It’s designed for fabric, but can work on other surfaces as well.

completion2lr

click on the image to see the full size version

I used it here to transfer the Albert Camus quote “In the depths of Winter, I finally learned there was in me an invincible Summer” which is a quote that means a lot to me.  The TAP transfers come out rather patchy on textured surfaces such as layered paint and collage and the quote is a little smudged because I didn’t tape it down and it moved when I ironed it.

I have almost finished another painting that I started in Ireland.  Photographing a painting and looking at the photo is a great way to see what’s working and what isn’t.  After seeing this painting as a photo, I want to do just a little more tweaking, but overall I’m pretty pleased with it.

flowerbombs-lr2

This is acrylics and molding paste on paper with metallic gold powder and it is now on my Redbubble site, where you can buy various items with this design on.

flowerbombs-tote

floating-free-cushion

For those of you who are interested, this is the link to my shop – please take a look.  http://www.redbubble.com/people/glendaw/shop.

Purdy is growing up fast.

PurdyJan1501   PurdyJan1503

She was spayed and microchipped just over a week ago and everything has healed up great so she’s now mastering the cat flap and learning all about the big wide world of Outside.  She had us worried at first because she mastered going out of the cat flap a lot better than coming back in, but a rustle of the treat bag did wonders for her learning curve and we’re happy she knows how to get in if it all gets too scary.  Like Trillian, she’s not impressed with our inability to control the weather so she’s staying in today staring at it all through the windows.

PurdyJan1502

You can see who’s boss in this photo can’t you.  We have had some real problems with Purdy being very aggressive towards Trillian.  We hope that being neutered will do the trick of reducing the hormones that cause very territorial behaviour in cats.  There’s playing and there’s attacking and we were seeing a lot of both, to the point where Trillian was showing real signs of stress and anxiety, trying to get away all the time.  Trillian kept trying to find quiet spots to nap, but we’ve had to start keeping doors shut after we discovered Purdy would seek out Trillians napping spots and pee right where Trillian had been sleeping.  And the day she did it on our bed it wasn’t just pee – we had to have our duvet professionally cleaned after that little incident.

We have considered having her re-homed because we don’t want her behaviour to impair Trillian’s quality of life and right now, she is one pissed off looking cat.  Adrian’s worried she’ll simply up and leave and go off to a new home, but I think she’s too timid to do that.  Purdy already seems to be less aggressive so hopefully getting rid of those hormones will do the trick.

We are still enjoying life in Portpatrick, though the weather has been pretty rough with storm force winds taking out a couple of roof tiles.  Turns out we have fancy interlocking ceramic tiles that no one locally stocks, so Lesley is being a star and coming up with a bootful this weekend.  We figured buying spares is the ultimate insurance policy – now we have plenty, they will hopefully sit in the garage for years because we won’t need them!

The storms have made some stunning seascapes and Adrian and I both enjoy getting out there and getting photos.  I’ve been playing with photo collages and can’t decide which of these two versions I like best.

The drama of the black and white.

winter storms Or the mood created by the colour version.

winter storms COLOUR

Well this has turned into a bit of an epic post so I think I better wrap it up there.  We’re having a belated Christmas weekend with Lesley and David, so I’m off to mull some wine and prepare some brussel sprouts.  Have a great weekend everyone!

glwsig-orange

Colourful Christmas winner

Finally!

I’ve been having problems talking to my blog. We still don’t have broadband (five months and waiting) and lately our connection via the mobile phone is getting more and more flaky – to say it’s driving us both potty is an understatement. My blog is not fast at the best of times (I’m moving away from WordPress and building myself a complete new website next summer) so I have had several attempts to get here to announce the winner of my little goodie bag.  A number of you got it right, so I picked at random and the winner is Sheila who got it spot on.

Congratulations Sheila!  (We have your address already, so watch out for happy post by the end of the week).

This is a wonderful project,Glenda,I especially like your use of those beautiful roses at the top which compliment the Madonna and Child perfectly.
I think the stamps you have used are A Child is Born(twice)Family Christmas(three times)and Frosty Trees(once)Super traditional stamps which sit well in your little house!

Sheila xx

Here’s what is used where – click to enlarge.

Believe-Shadow-House01

and here are the featured stamps (click on image to find them in the Chocolate Baroque shop).

A Child is Born Unmounted Rubber stamp sheet - A4

Frosty Trees Unmounted Rubber stamp sheet - A5

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A Colourful Christmas

Believe Shadow House01

Can you work out which stamps I have used?  Read on to find out about a little ‘Name that Stamp’ contest I’m running.

I have always loved house shaped shadow boxes and this one has been sitting in my big box of ‘things to alter’ for some time.  I originally painted it pink and green, but not long after we moved into this house, I re-painted it in shades of turquoise and aqua.  I had plans to use our sea inspired stamps to make it a home for my growing collection of sea glass and driftwood.

Last week we had a delivery of these into Chocolate Baroque, so I was galvanised into action and sat down with the stamps.

And sat.

I looked at the images, tried out the seaglass in the sections, played around and in short, was thoroughly uninspired.  I realised it was just the wrong colour to use with seaglass – there wasn’t any contrast.  A sandy colour or even pure white would work much better, but I couldn’t face painting it for a third time so I put it to one side and decided to make a Christmas card.

I had been playing with Stampbord and had a couple of pieces out on the table, including the bright red piece below.  Inspiration struck – I put it against the blues of the shadow box and the idea for turning it into a Christmas box was born.

Believe Shadow House03

Out came the Stickles and the sparkly embossing powders, flowers and pearls and I delved deep into my stash of lasercut chipboard.  I even found some old German scrap borders to put along the roofline.  Deciding what to use and where to put it took longer than actually making the stuff.  I spent quite some time trying out different arrangements before I was happy.

Believe Shadow House04

The largest section called for a ‘feature image’ so I chose this stained glass madonna and painted it with Distress Stains.  When it was dry, I patted it all over with Versamark, then embossed it with a layer of clear embossing powder.  I sprinkled a little crystal glitter onto the halo, but I didn’t want to use any of my sparkly embossing powders as they are just too sparkly and would obscure the detail of the stamp too much.

I used up a lot of older stuff which felt good. As someone working in the craft industry, I always try to use things that are current and easily available, but not this time, I just dug through my stuff and used what seemed to work.  And it was actually very liberating.

Believe Shadow House06

I used a couple of pieces of domino sized Stampbord, both mounted onto a background made with Tim Holtz Melange tissue wrap.  The green piece holds another laser cut shape, a wreath which i painted and embossed with clear powder.  I used a few laser cut shapes in this project, the red rocking horse is a wooden shape and the little houses and the word Believe are laser cut chipboard.

Believe Shadow House05

Believe Shadow House06

I used embossing powders on all these shapes.  The word and the rocking horse are embossed with one layer of Ruby Romance WOW embossing powder then a couple of layers of clear embossing powder.  The houses are embossed with Sparkling Snow (three layers to give really good coverage).

Believe Shadow House02

One of the problems with shadow boxes is that if you just stick an image to the back, it can get lost in the shadow, so I came up with a cheap and cheerful way to bring items forward a little.  I have some old, scruffy mountboard and I cut it up into small pieces, about 1 inch x 1 inch.  Using PVA glue, I layered them up into several stacks to give varying heights to my stamped elements.

Now you may notice I have not mentioned what stamps I have used at all.  They are all Chocolate Baroque of course, but I thought you might like to have a guess yourselves.  During the Chocolate Baroque birthday celebrations earlier this year, the “name that stamp” contests we ran were very popular, so if you’re a fan of Chocolate Baroque stamps, let’s see how many you can name.  Just leave me a comment below with your guesses and I’m going to pick a winner out next week (Friday 14th November) who will get a special little stash pack from me, including some of the embellishments featured in this project.

One thing I will add is that this project was a nightmare to photograph – it’s not called a shadow box for nothing!  I had to use a studio light which has made the colours look a bit cold, so I hope we have a break from the storms soon so I can try again with the camera and see if I can get some pictures that reflect the colours better.

I had a few insights while making this that I’d like to share.

  • Firstly, sometimes changing direction is good – deciding to change from a beachcomber to Christmas theme was actually really fun and got me poking through my stuff looking for anything Christmassy I could include.
  • Which leads me onto my second point – using up older stuff felt good!  If you’re carrying around any guilt about accumulating too much stash, then get it out and either use it or get rid of it.  I found myself happily throwing rubbish in the bin that I’ve had for ages, but realise I am never going to use in a million years.
  • And finally, the greater the effort, the greater the sense of achievement!  Half way through the part where I was pulling things out and ‘auditioning’ them for the box, I got irritated at how slow the process seemed – I told myself I could have finished two or three cards in that time.  But a little patience and a lot of glitter later, it all started to come together and now that it is finished, I have a much bigger feeling of satisfaction and self achievement.

So I hope my project inspires you and I hope you’ll get out some of your stuff and make something this evening or this weekend – make the time to get your creative wheels turning, it’s good for you!

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PS – don’t forget to have a go at guessing what stamps I’ve used, I’m putting a very pretty little stash pack together for the person who comes closest (or a random pick if loads of you get it right)

Experimenting with Brushos – with a video for you

We have finally got our official phone line in at the new house (yay!), but we don’t have broadband yet (should be here by the weekend).  I am connecting to the internet via my mobile phone, but it’s slow and very flaky, dropping the connection many, many times an hour which is all rather tedious, so I’m keeping this post short and sweet.

I’ve been playing with Brushos – which if you haven’t seen them are lovely little pots of crystals that mix to a beautiful watercolour just with water.  Because they come as dry crystals, you can have lots of fun sprinkling them onto wet paper, or scattering dry crystals and misting them with a water spritzer.

Today we launched new stamps at Chocolate Baroque – Autumn Edges and Mellow Fruitfulness and I was inspired by another video I saw featuring Brushos to use them with the tree stamp on Autumn Edges.   Purdy wanted to help, so you’ll see her in the introduction.

So below you will find the video and a selection of cards all using the same type of technique with Brushos.

 

 

Brusho Trees1

Trees from Autumn Edges stamp set

Brusho Trees2

Trees from Autumn Edges stamp set – this is the one I made in the video

Brusho seedheads

Poppy Seeds from Poppy Edges stamp set

brusho boat

Boat from Seashell Collage, sentiment from Seaside Dreams

Halloween Whitby

Whitby Abbey from Things that go Bump stamp set

And I’ll leave you with a little Happy Meowloween message from my co-presenter

purdy pumpkin1

purdy pumpkin2

She’s a little out of focus, but that’s because she just doesn’t stay still for a second!

Copyright 2008-2014 Glenda Waterworth. All rights reserved.