Explosion in a paint factory


There’s a few reasons I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately.  We still have lots to do to sort out the house – this weekend I got the guest room to a state where we could actually have a guest to stay now.  It took a while as the bed had become a dumping ground for all curtains (the last house had 23 windows!), wardrobes, random clothes without hangers, empty hangers without clothes and teddy bears.  Adrian worked on the garage and even though you still can’t get a car in, he at least has everything in a much more organised state and knows where his tools are – something I’m sure you’ll all agree makes for a happy husband.

I’ve also been absent from the internet from time to time as the big mac (as we affectionately refer to my main computer) just would not remember the wifi settings at all after I upgraded it’s operating system.  Each time I wanted to get onto the internet, I had to remember the hideously complicated network name and password and set up the network from scratch as it would just forget all about it.  Irritating is putting it mildly, but after much Apple forum searching, I found a few ‘known issues’ and (fingers crossed) one of the fixes seems to have worked.

But probably the biggest reason I haven’t blogged much is down to paint.


One of my Christmas presents (from me to me) was an online class.  It’s called Bloom True and the teacher is Flora Bowley, an artist I’ve admired for a while.  I just missed out on taking a real class with her a couple of years ago and I was actually gutted to realise she’d come over from the States and been teaching in the Yorkshire Dales, less than half an hour away!  [Flora, please come back and teach here again …?]

Anyway, her style of painting is very intuitive and free and from some of the comments I’ve seen from other class participants, it’s a step outside the comfort zone for a lot of people.  For me, it’s like coming home – it is everything I hoped it would be and I am absolutely loving it.


These are all unfinished underpaintings.  The process involves many layers and things change a lot as you go.  There’s a lot of trust and letting go of control and expectation and she encourages you to work BIG.




I have a large piece of watercolour paper which I use at the end of a painting session to use up any excess paint.  It might become a journal when I’m finished.


This is week 3 of a five week course and I think the plastic carpet protector will just about last until then!  I love having cream carpets, but it’s not the most practical of floor coverings when painting on this scale.  I also put it over my table so I don’t worry about splashes of paint on it.

I’ve become quite adept at the quick change act from craft space to art space and back again.  Lesley and I made birthday cards for her hubby on Sunday after I spent Saturday flinging paint around.  This was my card featuring our steampunk stamps coloured with ColourSoft pencils.  I added some grey shading around it to make it pop with my imaginary light source coming straight down from the top.

Davids birthday card

If my wifi problems are finally over, then I hope to get back to a more regular blogging schedule.  We have new stamps coming out this week which I think you’re going to love.  I’ll also be picking a winner on the DT blog this Friday too, so if you missed the news about the giveaway, click here for the post.

For Dads and cyclists

dreaming of a faster bike

I had an idea for a crazy landscape featuring a number of the Steampunk stamps and while playing around with it, came up with this version for my Dad’s Father’s Day card.  He’s always been a keen cyclist and used to cycle competitively – even to the extent of shaving his legs I believe!  I used to cycle a lot myself when I was younger and can relate to the common desire to upgrade to the next model up.  For those who don’t know their bicycle history, the Victorian Gentleman featured here is riding a velocipede (the “boneshaker”) – an early model with the pedal attached to the front wheel.  It was mainly made of wood and was extremely uncomfortable, but when the Penny Farthing came out a few years later they were very expensive for the average man on the street.  Did you know the front wheel was custom made to suit the rider’s leg length?  No, I didn’t know that either – isn’t the Internet an amazing vat of trivia!?!

Anyway, Dad liked the card, but here is the original in full technicolour.  And I mean FULL on colour!

I originally intended folding it up and making it into a concertina book, but Adrian loves it so much, he’s asked me not to fold it, but just mount it up as it is.  If you click on it, you can see it at 1000 pixels wide if your screen goes that big.

The colouring is mainly Polychromos pencils, though the sky is PanPastels and the hills have some PanPastel on them too.  The sunburst is done with masking paper strips and pan pastels.  The paper is some thick watercolour paper that I’ve discovered is rubbish for actual watercolour, but it does take the PanPastels and pencils beautifully.  I learned one valuable lesson while colouring this – when colouring heavily with pencils, be careful if you rub over them.  While rubbing in the sky, some of the blue pencil from the balloon also got spread around.  Next time I will use my burnisher pencil over the top to ‘seal’ in the colour.

I know it’s a day late, but here’s to all the Dads – the loved ones and the missed ones.




Steampunkery Airship – a review of Inkssentials Speciality Stamping Paper

Steampunkery landscape

This card was my first experiment with the Ranger Inkssentials Speciality Stamping paper.  My first thought was that it seems quite similar to the Clarity card, though it is more matte.  It has a satin sheen and is highly compressed and polished so has almost no absorbency.  It’s not my favourite type of stock to work on, but I wanted to try out the Distress Markers on it.

I stamped the airship with Ranger Archival black and painted the sky with Tumbled Glass Distress Stain.  I put the stain on an acrylic block and added water.  The card is very unabsorbent, but it does grab ink so it was quite challenging to get the colour evenly spread around, though it doesn’t really matter too much if the sky is a bit patchy.  I faded the blue out as I worked it down the card.

I experimented with the markers and found that if you draw a line onto the card, then try to spread out the colour with water it will leech a little colour, but leave a hard edge as the dye really is held fast by this card.  I coloured the airship by scribbling the markers onto the acrylic block using them to watercolour the image.  The pink on the balloon is Aged Mahogany – it comes out much paler doing it this way.

Once the airship was coloured, I decided to be brave and drew in the  hills at the bottom with Crushed Olive and Peeled Paint markers.  I saturated each hill with the marker then went over with a wet paintbrush.  That worked quite well as there was more ink on the card to move around.  It’s still very patchy, but I knew I’d be stamping over it.  For the sea I used a copic marker to get a brighter blue.

I stamped various trees and grasses from the Teeny Weeny Meadow stamp set using a mix of Adirondack dye inks and finished off with a tree using black archival ink.  The tree sits on a grassy mound, so I inked up just the grass and turned the stamp upside down and stamped a couple of times to extend the hill that the tree is sitting on.

I then sponged some Walnut Stain Distress ink around the stamped panel and even that behaved differently to what I’d find on ‘normal’ card.  Again, the speciality card grabs the ink , so where I would normally be able to rub and blend the ink, I found it made a quite messy edge – not a problem for this style of card, but difficult to get a smooth blend.

The stamped panel sits on a piece of kraft resist card which I coloured with Distress inks.  I added some photo turns and a piece of twill to finish it off.

So, my initial findings on the speciality stamping card:

  • grabs hold of ink immediately
  • stamps very clearly with dye inks – particularly crisp with archival ink
  • dries back slightly paler than shows when wet
  • difficult to create an even tone with watercolour
  • cockles slightly when saturated, but dries back flat
  • difficult to dry blend inks
  • once absorbed, dye ink cannot be ‘lifted’ with water, but will bleed a little

I had a very quick go with a Kaleidacolor pad and the brayer and it blended very nicely.

Once dry, I put a stencil over it and spritzed through a home made distress re-inker mist and it gave a great result.  The wet ink started to bleed the background (Kaleidacolor ink is not waterproof so will bleed when wet) and lightened the stencilled areas.  That then gave me the idea to try water, and I loved the results of misting with water and blotting off.  It dried back completely smooth so it looks like a resist technique or faux batik.  So a couple more things to add to the list:

  • brayers nicely, but not quite as smooth as glossy card (may do with more practice)
  • water will blot colour off a brayered background
  • spray inks over a mask or stencil give a crisp result if not too wet

Overall, I still prefer working on uncoated card when colouring an image, but I did like the brayered background and want to play a bit more with that and water.   There’s something about this type of card that I find a little bit teeth-curling and squeaky, but that’s just my personal taste.  It does give a fantastically crisp stamped image at the end of the day.

If you’ve tried it yourself, I’d love to know what you think of it.