November 30, 2014

Distress Christmas Gift Tags


Hope everybody had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We had a lovely dinner with a small group of my family and have been enjoying a quiet rest-of-the weekend.  Yesterday, I spent FIVE hours on Skype catching up with Hels.... you know... THE Hels Sheridan.  We haven't had a good old Skype session since end of August and it was FABulous.  We talked, we giggled, we even wiggled along to some music blasting from my iPod.... and best of all, we came up with a new "I Challenge Thee" for her weekly Sunday Stamper project - she even let me pick the song!  

Here's our recipe:

* Distress ink
* Clear embossing powder
* Nostalgic Batik technique
* Manila tag(s) - Hels did one BIG tag (#12) - I'm doing lots of small ones (#4) 
* Christmas themed stamps and dies of choice
* Tinsel / garland
* Bells / jingle bells
* A bow  (that was Hels' way of torturing me... groan....)
* Other Christmas embellishments of choice

The key to this recipe is the Nostalgic Batik technique.  This technique allows you to fool people by making them wonder how you stamped a light image over a darker or contrasting image without the colors blending or stacking on top of the other.  You'll need some newsprint and an iron.

For the most dramatic effect, start by stamping an image in a light shade of distress ink and then *immediately* coat the image with clear embossing powder.  Tap off the excess and then heat-set to melt the clear powder.  Now your light colored image has a protective coat on top, so it will act as a resist to any inks you put on top of it.

Now, ink the rest of your tag with darker, contrasting shades of distress ink.  See how the lighter colors stay true?  So cool.  Now comes the magic... sandwich your tag between two sheets of newsprint, and use an iron on top.  Move the iron back and forth slowly over your tag (which is UNDER a sheet of newsprint).  The heat will re-melt the embossing powder and the newsprint will absorb it, so when you're finished, you can never tell that the image was embossed.  LOVE this technique - was one of my favorites at Ranger U.

I worked mostly with Tim Holtz Christmas stamps (classic, old-school ones from 3-4 years ago).  I added water spots to most of the tags by spritzing water and heat drying.  I added some Perfect Pearl mist to a couple of tags, and some rock candy crackle to other tags (this will reactivate the distress ink and cause a little bit of blurring, but I didn't mind...)  

I also decided to add a metallic edge to all my tags, so I tapped the edges of all the tags in embossing ink (Versamark or other), and coated with metallic embossing powder - I love a border - makes all the difference.  Other than that, I kept them pretty simple.  I may add some more embellishments later, but these will be placed on Christmas gifts, so I need to leave room for the "To's" and "From's", which I'll hand stamp with a mini alpha stamp set.

Be sure to head over to Hels' blog HERE to check out her Giant #12 manila tag, done using the same techniques.  It always amazes me how we use the same materials/recipe and get *completely* different results.

Thanks for stopping by!

~ ellen.

November 11, 2014

Altered Manila Folder


A few months ago I altered a whole collection of manila office folders to bring some of my artsy life into my work life.  Click HERE, HERE, HERE, or HERE to see some of my prior folders.  I had a need for a new folder at work and realized that all my "pretty" folders had been used up, so I decided to make another one.  I'll be slowly building up another collection over the coming weeks and months.

This folder has a background painted solely with a brayer, with several layers of color.  The ultimate background turned out to have a definite Fall/Autumn color scheme.  I used two of my PaperArtsy stamps (washer stamp and mini scratchy circle) as well as two stamps from my "had them for AGES" collection (both from Stampin' Up! Sanded scratchy background, and the sketchy leaf/flower stamp).

I decided not to stamp the leaf/flowers on the back of the folder, since it would rarely be seen.  Here's a few close ups.

Once I stamped the leaf/flower stamp across the front of the folder, I extended the stems with a fine-tip black pen, and then painted in each leaf with an off-white paint.  This provides a nice contrast with the background.  But then I did something very unusual (for me)... I added Stickles!  I'm not usually a glitter kind of gal, but for some reason a little hint of sparkle sounded just right for this folder.

Hope you like the folder - I had fun making it, and you'll be seeing more soon!  Have a great day.

~ ellen.

October 15, 2014

Art and Soul - Big Fat Art with Jane Davies


Back again to recap my last class with Jane Davies - I was looking forward to this class the most! The name says it all... "Big Fat Art".  I have been doing scrapbooking, card making, and art journaling for so long that I have trouble working in a size any larger than 12x12, so this class sounded perfect for me.

In today's class, we worked with 18x24 paper, which for some artists is still *small*, but for me it was *HUGE* !  We learned a bunch of different techniques for getting started... first up was just using different drawing implements (graphite, pencil, marker, paint pen, straight paint, crayon, etc.) to get LINES down on the paper, and then painted over some of them with white paint.  

Please realize... NONE of the art in this post is finished, it is all very much in process.  

Then we chose one of those pieces, and focused on adding SHAPE... 

And then, we did a speed painting exercise... LOVE this.  We put out three colors of paint on a palette, plus a big blob of white.  Then... the scary part... we had 75 seconds to cover a sheet of 18x24 paper TOTALLY with paint.  YIKES!  Scary, but FUN!  We did that two or three times.  Here are some of the results, with a few more steps added on top.

And lastly, we tried yet another technique, which is one of my go-to-favorites anyway... scraped paint, but on a BIG FAT ART scale.  Here are three starts.  

Jane's classes really pushed me in very good ways.  I have to say I was *exhausted* by the end of the last class.  Barely had the energy to go to dinner.  We were all in bed before 10:00 that night.  If you have an interest in abstract art and have the chance to take a class with Jane... DO it.  

October 14, 2014

Art and Soul Recap - More Jane Davies

Hello again...

Today I'm recapping my recent weekend at Art and Soul in Virginia Beach.  Yesterday I shared some pix from my first class with Jane Davies.  Today I'll talk about the second class I took with Jane, called "Art Therapy for Your Inner Critic" - OH BOY do I ever have an inner critic!  I think we all do. 

This class was designed to help you identify ways to work *with* your inner critic rather than try to silence her (or him) altogether, which, let's face it, is never gonna happen.  I used one of my pieces in a similar way to the Post Card class... I cut it up into four pieces (that wasn't part of the assignment... I just felt like I wanted to... so I did).  

In today's class, the goal was not to make anything finished or pretty.  It was all about different techniques to push through a block.  Try working with colors you *don't* like, and then add a few that you *do* like on the same piece.  Then do the opposite... start with colors you *do* like, and then add some colors you *don't* like... it's amazing how, in each case, the piece comes together in unexpected ways. 

If you have a section that you just hate... try covering it up with white paint, then lifting some to create a veil, or scratching through the white paint with graphite or the end of a paint brush, or a water color crayon to create a new pattern, then lift.  If you follow Jane's blog, then I'm sure you have seen that she uses these techniques repeatedly in her work, so I don't feel bad sharing them with you.

I don't feel that any of these pieces are done - they all need some more work.  But it's great to know you can get a piece to a point where you can see more needs to be done, and have an arsenal of techniques to push it to a new place.  After all, it's just paper and paint... if you don't like where it goes, cover it up and add more.  

One of my favorite exercises in this class was called "speed painting" - but I'll talk more about that tomorrow.  It's a great way to get a piece started.

Again, I was able to find ways to use many of my stamps in these projects.  I love that they work for card making as well as art journaling or abstract art!  

I'll be back again tomorrow with Jane-Day 3.

~ ellen.

October 13, 2014

Art and Soul Recap - Jane Davies Post Card Class

Hi everyone,

Last weekend I went to Art and Soul in Virginia Beach with my friend Patti Parrish and her friend Gail.  We signed up for classes almost a *year* ago, so when the time finally arrived, we were both super excited.  I signed up for 3 classes with Jane Davies, and then a 2-day class with Donna Watson.  Today I'll recap my first class with Jane.

Jane first caught my eye with her Postcard Project, so of course I had to sign up for "The Art of the Postcard".  The goal with this project was to create one sheet of paper, 8 x 12, that had four distinctly different quadrants, but had an overall cohesive composition.  Definitely a challenge.

We learned about making marks with different drawing implements and tools, and some tips on how to approach the "different-ness" if that makes sense.  Here is my completed composition, and then the four post cards individually.

We were "allowed" to make a few marks after cutting the post cards that would make them even more different, but I didn't have time for that part.  I would consider this first post card to be "done", although I may add a thin white line with a gel pen overlapping the black line going across the page.

I would also consider this one done.

This one needs a little more work...  More marks to make.

And I think this one needs a *little* more work... something horizontal across the whole card... lines? paint? pattern? collage?  Time will tell...

I used several of my stamps on these projects - some have stamping, and some have collage tissue paper made with the stamps.  I love how versatile they are at giving texture/pattern to any piece.

I'll be back tomorrow to recap more Jane stuff. See you then!

~ ellen.

October 11, 2014

PaperArtsy Ledger Journal Page - GIVEAWAY!


Today I'll be sharing a page from my ledger art journal on the PaperArtsy blog using my Eclectica stamps.  We'll do an ombre background, lots of stamping of course, and create some beautiful scraped paint flowers.  Come on over to the PaperArtsy blog HERE to see the details...  but before you leave...

Leave a comment here by Monday, October 13th at 12:00 Noon Eastern time US / 5:00 pm UK time to win my new petals and circles stamp set.

Have a great day!

~ ellen.

September 27, 2014

It's Still STAMPtember... and a Special Surprise!


As most of you probably know, the amazing folks at Simon Says Stamp have been celebrating STAMPtember all month long.  Don't miss the chance for super sales and exclusive offers.  Time is running out.... BUT.... I was thrilled to have the chance to do a guest post. 

Today I'll be sharing a new project.  Here's a little sneak peak for you...  Wait, what's that you say? You don't recognize that stamp?  Well... 

Since we're celebrating such an awesome event, a *whole* month to celebrate stamping, I wanted to take it a step further and design an exclusive stamp set for the event.  I'm a big fan of flowers, so I wanted to do some hand drawn sketchy designs.  

Click HERE to head over to Simon Says Stamp where I'll share 3 different ways to use them for cards, adding some of my other stamps as well as other fabulous PaperArtsy products.  Thanks to everyone at Simon Says Stamp for asking me to participate in the celebration!  

See you soon!

~ ellen.

September 15, 2014

Winners Announced!


I've just done the random drawing to select three winners for my three new stamp sets.  Here are the results:

Set # EEV07 - Scratchy Backgrounds will go to....
Blogger serena said...
Vos créations sont les unes plus belles que les autres, j'adore toutes les combinaisons que l'on peut créer pour faire des fonds avec vos timbres, en un mot c'est magnifique! Ces fleurs me font rêver....

Set # EEV08 - Scratchy Shapes 2 will go to...
Blogger pamela28 said...
Have only recently discovered your stamps and think they are inspired. Love the canvas and the versatility of all your stamps. Please keep designing!

And Set # EEV09 - Petals & Circles will go to...
Blogger betjunroe said...
Love this project Ellen! Congrats on having your own stamp line! Will you sign the stamp set if I win? Bette

Congratulations to all the winners!  Please email me at with your address and I will get your stamps in the mail right away!
~ ellen.

September 13, 2014

PaperArtsy Chunky Canvas - Sneak Peek - GIVEAWAY!


I'm back on the PaperArtsy blog today to share a chunky canvas project made with some of my new stamps.  We'll be doing some grunge paste stamping, working with fresco paints and I'll show you how to create some flowers with custom patterns.

Click HERE to see the full tutorial on the PA blog.  Here's a sneak peek for you.

Leave a comment on this post by Monday, Sept 16th at 12:00 Noon EST (that's 5:00 pm or 17:00 for UK peeps) - I'll be giving away one each of my three new stamp sets to three lucky winners!

Be back soon with more to share...

~ ellen.

September 7, 2014

Hels 'N' Els - Studio 490 Play


Hels and I had a nice long Skype last weekend and we decided it was high time to do another "I Challenge Thee" / recipe challenge.  We realized it has been *months* since our last play date, and that's just... well... wrong!  

Rather than over-complicate things with a detailed recipe, we decided to go back to the beautiful woman who brought us together back in 2010... THE Wendy Vecchi!  So over the next couple of months, Hels and I will be working on a book project, doing a few pages each month and ending things with some book covers.  Today is the kick-off and I'll be showing you my first page.  Here's a sneak peek:

I started by figuring out what book covers I wanted to use, since that would determine the size of each page.  This page is 5" x 7" and I'll be using manila file folders as my card-base for each page.  

To begin, I created a painty background using distress paints. I started by scraping mustard seed, squeezed lemonade, and crushed olive distress paints vertically down the length of my page.

Then I added my first layer of stamping with this leaf stamp and peeled paint distress paint.

One of my all-time favorite Wendy stamps, and all-time favorite script stamps, is this amazing script background stamp.  I used Wendy's potting soil archival ink to stamp all over the page, right over the leaf stamping (you really can't tell which came first).

Here's the background...

Wendy's embossing paste is my *favorite* of all the various texture and embossing pastes on the market, so I had to add some texture.  I chose a stencil by Finnabair and the white embossing paste to add a little bit of texture around the edges.

Now it's time to make some Wendy flowers... I used two sizes of the script flower, and stamped them out on some scraped paint paper I made with these distress paints:  picket fence, spiced marmalade, ripe persimmon, and festive berries.  Once they were stamped, I cut them out and layered them together, over lapping one petal on each size to create some dimension.

I added some flower stamping at the bottom of the page using black archival ink, and then chose a Wendy sentiment to use.  The  "rules to live by" stamp has always been an oldie but a goodie, so that was an easy choice.

All that was left was to glue down the flower, add a center (a rusty jingle bell I found in my stash), and Voila!  A finished page...

Hope you enjoyed following along on my flashback to Wendy stamps.  I just *adore* them and it felt really great to re-visit these lovelies... hope you have a wonderful Sunday... OH! This is also part of Hels' Sunday Stamper series... be sure to go check out her page HERE.

See you soon!

~ ellen.