June 28, 2012

I Challenge Thee - Altered Frame

Hi everyone,

*WARNING: THIS IS A LONG POST! Grab a cuppa coffee or tea....

It's been quite a long time since Hels and I did an "I Challenge Thee" session, and last weekend was just perfect for it!  We finally had a shared Sunday afternoon available for a Skype session, and my mojo was definitely lacking and needed a *boost* !! When we looked back, we discovered we haven't done this since February!  Sometimes all it takes to boost your creativity is having a friend share in your creative time, even if it is only over a computer, from thousands of miles away - it really helps! What would we do without Skype... Love it!

So... here's the concoction of requirements we came up with:

- 8 x 8 wooden shadow frame (available from Paper Artsy)
- Paper-piecing / collage technique on frame
- 2  3/4 " square mini canvas
- Idea-ology: screw eyes, corked vials
- Stencils with modeling/molding paste
- Random stamping
- Additional embellishments of choice

Hels was SO kind to send me some of the luscious 7 Dots Studio "Dreamer" collection of papers designed by Anna Dabrowska (aka Finnabair).  They are available HERE in the US and at The Stamp Attic in the UK and trust me, they are *gorgeous* !  So I knew I had to use them.  Here's the project all finished, then I'll get in to the details:

I started with the plain, unfinished wood shadow frame and gave it a quick coat with the Sand paint dabber from Ranger.  Then I got out my 7 Dots papers and started cutting lots of various square and rectangle shapes and layering them all over the frame, inside and out, including the outside edges.  I sanded the edges of paper on the frame and distressed the raw edges with gathered twigs distress ink (my new favorite brown in the distress palette).  I also outlined around the top layers of paper pieces with a Stabilo All black pencil and went over it with a water brush to blend.  Instant shadows!

Then I used THIS stencil from Dylusions and spread some Golden molding paste mixed with mushroom paint (Ranger) through the stencil with a palette knife.  I didn't like the stark brown color, so I added a small amount of green patina perfect pearls over the diamonds, and then added some additional highlights with black archival ink and copper Inka Gold. 

The plaster-ish "stuff" you see on the edges is Sand colored Terra, spread with a palette knife and then inked with gathered twigs distress ink, and black soot on the edges.  Love the look of old plaster.

The 2  3/4" canvas in the center was also paper-pieced with 7 Dots papers, with added stenciling and Terra like the rest of the frame.  I also added an idea-ology mini gears, game spinner and an antique brass rivet.  The canvas was hung from the inside edge of the frame with screw eyes, jump rings and wire pins - all from idea-ology.  The words are from Tim's chit-chat stickers, inked with antique linen and outlined with the Stabilo All black pencil.

The corked vials were painted with a light coat of Juniper and Cloud paint (Ranger), distressed with (wait for it...) gathered twigs distress ink, and then I used my hand carved stamps with coffee / olive archival ink, rolling the bottles over the stamps.  I outlined some of the stamping with a black pitt pen to help the patterns stand out.

I kept adding embellishments until I was happy with the balance and the look of the piece... Here's some shots of the details....

This challenge definitely boosted my mojo and got me going again.  Thank God for good friends and Skype!  I had a ball making it... I confess... the idea to use Terra came to me in a dream!  Yes, I actually had a very long, repeating dream about this piece!  Love it when that happens!  And the best part is that I actually remembered the idea and used it!

Don't forget to go to Hels' blog and check out her STUNNING piece!  You'll love it!

Thanks for hanging in there through this LONG post - hope you enjoyed our project!

~ ellen.

June 21, 2012

10:36 Stamps + Sticky Back Canvas


I've been playing with my hand carved stamps again, and this time tried them out on some sticky back canvas.  I stamped a whole 12 x 12 sheet of canvas with my stamps, using black paint dabber for the stamping, and then painted in some accents using Sharpie paint pens and some Claudine Hellmuth brown paint, watered down for a wash.  I used another sheet of 12 x 12 canvas as the backing, carefully placing sticky sides together.  Then I broke out my sewing machine and made a simple pouch with a snap closure.  Here's the results:


The snap closure.  This is fine for this first effort, but I can see this being much more functional with a zipper closure.  I may need to take sewing lessons!

And here's the back...

Having a lot of fun playing - will be back with a few tags to share, but they need to make their way to Colorado first - there's some birthday girls in the family who need to receive them first... :)

Be well 'til next time....

~ ellen.

June 13, 2012



Today's blog post is dedicated to my British BFF.... Hels Sheridan!

My dear Hels... we met thanks to THE Wendy Vecchi... we decided to do an art swap... and the rest is history.  Once we started emailing we NEVER stopped!  I've saved most of the emails we've exchanged over the last 2+ years, and as of right now, I've got over A THOUSAND emails from you!  WOW!

There are some people you meet in life that you just KNOW will be around forever, and you're one of them!  We just clicked immediately and "got" each other.  We're both a little "bat shit crazy" and LOVE to laugh and be silly!

We were SO lucky in the first year we knew each other... we got to see each other FOUR times in person.  FOUR!  I came to England for the first time in November 2010....

And then I couldn't stand it and came back again in Feb 2011.... and we met Graham at St. Pancras so he could ride "home" with us...

Then you came to Ranger U in May 2011 and came to stay a week with me and Jack...

And finally... you came back again in October 2011 and we got to take classes with the person without whom we never would've met!  THE Wendy Vecchi!

I wish we could see each other more often... but for now the memories will have to suffice...

From my visits to see you:

* Our first visit to the back garden when we got to your house.... (you needed a post to hang on to!) - no photo could do this amount of laughter justice.... ROFL!

* Walking through London in the "CHUFFING NORAH" freezing wind and snow to have tea with Liz...

* Getting separated on the platform at St. Pancras

* Lunch at my FAV place... Bedford Arms... mmmmm... bacon and brie.... cheesy chips....

* "My" desk in the Room of Stash

* Shopping trips to LB Crafts in Olney

* "English Chinese", "Lucky B", Chicken Curry, my first sausage roll... and oooooh... vanilla slice!  Because food eaten in a foreign country has NO calories... right?  And if eaten while crafting, the calories actually go negative! 

* Crafting and giggling into the wee hours

And from your visits to see me:

* Cheetos curtains

* Shopping at Queens Ink and Michael's

* Antique shopping and sightseeing on the Chesapeake Bay

* Ram's Head with Wendy and Patti

* Did I mention CHEETOS???  As in... Cheesy CHESTER Cheetos?

* Dinner at Applebee's with all the Ranger U girls

* Joe sleeping in your hair and trying to climb into your suitcase to come home with you

There really is no gift greater than the gift of friendship, but I can't let it go at that... Your gift is ready and waiting for you at....

A little elf named Wendy (Gale) conspired in secrecy with me.... call her or go see her.... I know you'll like it!  Plus, be on the lookout for a package in the next couple of weeks... I've got some "little nothings" in the post for you, too.

HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dear friend!  I hope it's a great one, hon....wish I could celebrate with you in person...

Love you bunches!

Els xxx

P.S. - Please be sure to pop over to Hels' blog and wish her the happiest birthday ever!

June 8, 2012

1036 + 490 + BB = ?


OK is that the weirdest post title or what?  Being the math nerd I am, this was the easiest way to represent the combination of my hand carved stamps {1036}, with Wendy Vecchi's Studio {490} stamps, with Wendy's Blossom Bucket {BB} embellishments. 

I started with an 8 x 8 wood shadow frame and painted the whole thing with a coat of white gesso.  Then I thought it would be cool to accent the "shadow" part of the shadow frame, so I painted the inside edge of the frame with a coat of black gesso.

In my efforts to clean up the lines between black and white I created this gray mess in the middle so I just went with it and made it even messier, and I love it!

I stamped some of my hand carved border stamps around the outside of the frame, and used the top of my triangle stamp in the corners. I like the way it draws the eye to the center. 

On the inside of the frame, I stamped the Studio 490 script stamp randomly using black paint dabber.  The center has a Tim Holtz fragment (stamped one of my stamps on white card stock and glued the fragment to the top using glossy accents).  I added a Blossom Bucket red heart to the fragment.  I love the black and white with just one pop of red. 

The heart is surrounded by vintage keys. I like the message in my mind... you can interpret for yourselves.

Thanks for stopping by.

~ ellen.

June 7, 2012



I've been having fun playing with my new hand-carved stamps (click HERE for details) and thought I'd try them out with some Dylusions stamps and sprays.  So... D-yl-usions becomes D-"elle"-usions.... (corny, I know...) I started with the tag backgrounds I created last week.

Then I added some Dylusions ink sprays over the backgrounds for some color, collaged some stamped images over top, added accents with Sharpie white paint pen, and some foam tape for dimension.   Here's the results...

I love the image of this cat combined with this sentiment - he looks a little lonely like he just got home from a party where he had his heart broken or something.. I don't know... maybe I'm crazy.  

Here's a side view showing the dimension of the buildings and the cat.

This next one doesn't tell quite as strong a story for me, but I like the contrast between the bright colorful background and the black and white images.  The planter pot under the tree is the roof from one of the buildings turned upside down.

And here's the last one.  Again, I like the contrast, and the eyes lined up in a row, inside the frames but hanging off the edge.

Hope you enjoyed... I had fun mixing my stamps with Dyan's and will be trying other combinations for sure.  I'll be back soon with another mix-n-match project. 

~ ellen.

June 1, 2012

Hand Carved Stamps

Hi everyone,

Back as promised with the last of my "couch" projects.  I've been wanting to play around with carving my own stamps, and have had some rubber and a carving tool for several months.  This was the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

I started with Speedball's "Speedy Cut" rubber, which is basically a giant white eraser!  It is also available in a pink rubber now, which is more dense and has a smoother texture (more like a Pink Pearl eraser!).  I've used both below.  The carving tool is also by Speedball and comes with several carving tips which are stored conveniently in the handle of the tool (the round bottom has a cap which screws off).  Both the rubber and the carving tool are available at most craft stores.

I didn't set out to create intricate, detailed stamps for my first efforts, but some basic geometric patterns which could be repeated or lined up with each other.

I just let my imagination go and carved whatever came to mind.  The curvy frame could be stamped and then cut out a portion of the center to make a frame.  I like the swirly circle - can see using this as a flower.  And the triangle could be stamped right side up, and then upside down across a row for alternating pattern.

Then I tried the pink rubber, which I must say I like better.  I feel I have more control in carving, and the rubber doesn't feel like it's going to crumble when under pressure.


I continued with the basic geometric patterns, doing long skinny strips to use as borders, and then tried a leaf.  Since taking these photos I have trimmed the excess rubber off the leaf so it doesn't get inked when stamping.

And finally, I carved one very large stamp, a burst of rays - it reminds me of the old screen saver where you're traveling through stars, remember that? 

As I was carving each stamp, I would stamp it out with black archival ink onto white card stock, just to get a sense of how each one would look.  When they're all lined up, it looks very "African" to me.  Really like it!  This is how the full sheet looked.

And then I cut it down to tag size - three future tag backgrounds all ready to go.

More stamp testing...

Then I stamped onto some actual manila tags and added some color with watercolor paints.

I really enjoyed the carving, and love the hand-made, imperfect results.  I want to test the stamps on different surfaces - I think stamping with paint on fabric or canvas would be really cool. 

I know some of you may be fearful of working with sharp tools, but if you take your time I think you'll be fine.  You don't have to use too much pressure when carving - the rubber is very soft and cuts easily.  Take it slow - give it a try!

I'll show some finished projects with my new stamps once I have some time to work on them.

Have a great weekend!

~ ellen.