Thursday, February 26, 2015

Make Your Own Bird Stamp!

Servus and welcome to my second appearance as Our Creative Corner's Resident Guest Designer! I hope you had fun with my January tutorial: "Umberto", the mighty moustache man!

Today I would like to show you how easy it is to carve your own bird stamp.

And when I say "easy" I really mean it....I know stamp carving (or lino carving) always looks quite intimidating and even a bit dangerous (hard lino, sharp knives, soft skin, fiddly detail to cut, transferring the design,...) and it can be, but it doesn't have to anymore as there are a lot of soft carving blocs out on the market now (and even if you decide to try lino carving there are some tricks that can help make it less laborious).

I recommend that for starters you try the Speedball "Speedy Carve" stamping blocs as they are really easy and effortless to use! They even offer a starter "Stamp Making Kit" that comes with a wooden handle,  two knives (one for fine detail and outlines and the other for taking off larger pieces), an easy to follow instruction, tracer paper and a carving block. Carving blocks can be bought separately in various sizes - from really small to rather large 6 by 12 inch size.

But the best carving equipment does not replace a good stamp design, right? So how achieve it? Search for good images you can use as a pattern with books or magazines!

Get some paper and a pencil and try some sketches until you find a pattern that you feel comfortable with drawing freehand. Don't care about the size of your drawing yet - draw the way and size you feel most comfortable with!

I found a lovely picture of a great tit and sketched it rather roughly. Avoid soft curved lines as the carving will give an "edgy" look to your design anyway.

Next get yourself some black acrylic (or water-) colour and a soft paint brush (for fine detail) and trace your design rather quickly. Don't waste time and energy on small detail - we want to create a design that will tell it is a hand carved one and not an industrially produced stamp made from a nature photograph. Honestly my shading in the bird's body wasn't necessary at all (but I got carried away a bit while

Using the black acrylic colour and making "drawing" more difficult by forcing your hand to draw with a paint brush, your design will be closer to being cut-able and you can already get an impression of where to add more black and where to leave more white space to make your design more striking.

Now's the time to define the size of your stamp! Measure your carving block (or the cut to size carving block) and divide the area into even squares. Then divide your drawn image into the same number of squares using a ruler and a pencil.

Next to your segmented drawing draw a smaller version of the grid - this time the exact size of your carving block. You will find that it is rather easy to transfer a drawn image by hand by using a scaled grid. And it is a good way to practice your drawing skills too (as it helps you learn focus on directions, proportions and shapes). (You can of course use your printer for this and scale the image on your computer or printer...but being an old school arts teacher I tend to prefer a method that I can also use when I am away from my pc). ;)

Well, your result doesn't have to be an exact copy of your first drawing of course - but you will find it will look pretty much the same. And that's all you need.

For fine detail use a black ink pen with a very fine tip - especially the eye will have to be done precisely so it will look naturally.

Finish the rest off with your fine detail brush and the black acrylic (or watercolour) paint. That will do the job well enough and help eliminate unnecessary detail that would get lost during cutting anyway.

Now take a piece of tracer paper and a soft pencil and thoroughly trace all the black lines and areas of your design.

Flip your image over and place the tracer paper face down on your carving block. Rub over the whole image with your fingernail (or the back of a spoon) to transfer the pencil drawing to the rubber of the carving block.


There it is!

As you can see I first transferred the image to my carving block and then cut it to the size of my stamp. 

Start with the fine detail V-knife...

...and cut all the outlines first. 

Then take away the larger areas using the wider knife. The already cut out outlines will help prevent your knife from "slipping" into areas that are meant to stay black when being stamped. Anyway - you should rather cut from the edge towards the center of an area you want to remove than the other way round. And only cut small pieces at a time...this will also help prevent "slipping" into places you want to remain raised and untouched.

The carved stamp will not cling to an acrylic bloc (unless you mount it onto some EZ mount), but as the material is rather bulky you can use the finished stamp right as it is without an acrylic bloc at all (and only use an acrylic bloc to add some pressure from the back if needed)  - so it's time to make your first print (just like you stamp with any other stamp).

You may find that the first print shows areas where you need to cut off some more. I marked these with a red pen:

Repeat this step (stamping - cutting - stamping) until you are content with the design. And then you're done!
I really encourage you to carve your own stamps - you will find that is a very rewarding thing to have your unique and personal stamp to use on your projects!

I used mine on an art journal card for starters (and I plan to use it for stamping on cloth soon....ah, so many ideas, so little

Oh, before I forget: if you want to carve lino and find it is rather sturdy, put your lino on your heater or in the oven (at about 40°C/104°F or slightly warmer) for a while - this will soften your lino and make cutting a lot easier. And remember: always cut away from your body and fingers! Never towards!

Have fun and share your own stamp designs soon! ;)

If you haven't already seen the makes for or joined in with the actual "Tic Tac Toe - challenge", hosted by our lovely and fabulously talented Julia, I highly recommend you do so! The team has also created an amazing bundle of inspiration for you and playing Tic Tac Toe always is great fun! 

Hugs and happy crafting,

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Merry LITTLE Christmas Top Talent

Welcome back to another Top Talent spotlight at Our Creative Corner!

Today we are shining the spotlight on the winner of the 'Have yourself a Merry LITTLE Christmas' Challenge'

Julie was chosen as the winner and we are thrilled to be welcoming her as Our Creative Corner's Top Talent this month...

Before we show you Julie's amazing creation, let's just spend some time finding out a little bit more about this very talented lady.....

1) Where do you Live?

I live in the Pacific NW region of the US just a smidge north of Seattle.

2) How long have you been crafting and what made you start crafting?

That’s hard to answer. I think I came out of the womb crafting! As a child I always enjoyed art and creating things. There was a long lull in the years between high school and the birth of my daughter where I didn’t express myself creatively very often. A friend introduced me to scrapbooking when my daughter was born and I’ve been a goner ever since for all kinds of paper crafts.

3) What if anything, do you consistently draw inspiration from?

Almost the first thing I do every morning is turn on the computer and start perusing my favorite blogs. There are so many incredibly talented people out there. I am also fortunate to live in an area with spectacular views and Mother Nature never fails to inspire.

4) What is the most useless item that you have purchased for your craft?

Stickers. I have so many stickers that I purchased back in my early days of scrapbooking. They are gathering dust now. I should donate them.

5) What other hobbies or talents do you have that you'd like to share with us?

I love to bake and get my hands dirty in my garden. I don’t know if this is a talent but I can come up with a song for almost any comment (I can picture my kids rolling their eyes at this!).

6) Do you live by any motto or philosophy?

"What’s the one important thing today?”

My husband came home with this concept one evening after a work seminar. I have a tendency to (attempt to) multi-task to the n-th degree. When I pause to ask myself this question it really puts things in perspective for me.

7) What three things do you think of most each day?

My children (I have three wacky, funny, smart and challenging young people in my life – all teenagers) are at the top of the list.

Every day I try to do something arty – ATCs, cards, art journaling or something for my Etsy shop.

Lastly, what should I make for dinner?!


Thanks so much for being here Julie! It was great to find out more about you! We are so happy that you could are here today as our Top Talent....

....So now it is time to shine the spotlight on the Top Talent creation - let's see what Julie made for us!

Winters can be pretty soggy and grey where I live so for the ‘Anything Goes’ theme I decided to incorporate a little taste of spring (I am so ready for warmer weather!) into my project. Last spring I went through a brief birdhouse phase but didn’t get this one completed. This poor little thing has been sitting, neglected, on my desk since then begging to be turned into something.

Here is how it started. I had a vision for it at one point and had gessoed and painted it in preparation.

Here is my finished little fairy cottage. I would be enchanted to be working in my garden and uncovering a little dwelling such this. One of my favorite parts of it is the moss – it’s from my backyard!

This is so gorgeous Julie! It is so wonderful to see a bit of spring peeking in right now! - I am so glad that this lovely bird house got completed! It really has been such an honour to feature this beautiful creation at Our Creative Corner.
Thank you so much for being such a wonderful Top Talent!
If you want to see more photos and details of this wonderful creation and find out how it was made, then please go along to Julie's blog and say "Hello" - I am sure she would love to see you there!


Would you like to see your work here in the 'Our Creative Corner' Spotlight?
You could be here as our 'Top Talent' with the spotlight shining on something you have created! 

All you have to do is enter the Tic Tac Toe challenge that Julia is hosting this month. If you are chosen as the winner you will be invited to appear here as our Top Talent and have the spotlight shine on something you have made. We will also ask you some questions so that we can be nosey find out more about you....

Happy Crafting! 
Laura xxx

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tando Sponsor Spotlight No 2

Hello everyone! Laura here to welcome you to the last of this month's Sponsor Spotlights!

This month our Sponsor is Tando Creative and there is a wonderful prize waiting to be won by a randomly selected entry to our challenge this month which is hosted by our wonderful Julia!

                                                      I chose these Tando goodies

And here is my finished creation...

I decided to use a wooden heart plaque for this creation. This was coated with Matte Medium and some Tim Holz idea-ology tissue wrap was applied. When dry it was brushed with some watered down Vintage Lace Fresco paint and the edges of the hanging were dabbed with Walnut Stain DI

The Tando decoration was painted with Stone Fresco Paint. The center of the cog was covered with printed tissue paper and then dry brushed with Decoart Raw Umber Fluid Acrylic paint before being coated with Decoart Matt Varnish.

The wings were covered with One-step crackle glaze and when dry were coated with Raw Umber antiquing cream

The heart Mini was covered in Stone Fresco paint and had strips of printed tissue paper stuck onto it with Matte medum. I added a chit chat sticker that had been edged with Walnut Stain DI. The edge of the heart was dry brushed with Decoart Raw Umber fluid acrylic paint and then I covered the whole thing with a thick coat of Glossy Accents glue

A few clock gears were added to the heart

A piece of twine was added so the heart could be hung up

And there is my Steampunk inspired heart hanger...Hope you like it!

If you like Tando items then why not enter our current challenge - one lucky entrant will receive some Tando goodies! What a wonderful treat!

And of course you could always be the winner of the challenge and be invited to be our Top Talent. You could be basking in the spotlight right here at Our Creative Corner!

All you have to do is enter the Tic Tac Toe challenge this month - Come and share your wonderful creativity with us

Happy Crafting!
Laura x
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Laugh and Live More!

Hi Julia back again. 

I have the greatest pleasure today to introduce our Guest Designer. She is a lady I have known and admired for some time: the lovely Alison Hall or Craftytrog (LOVE that name!).

Alison's art is vivacious, fun, beautiful and if I had to describe Alison, I would use those three words about her personality too. She produces the most gorgeous jewellery and her artistic talents span many genres and mediums.  I spent a year doing a mixed media course with Alison and she is fun to be with and inspirational in what she produces. Over to you Alison:

Hi, Alison (Craftytrog) here! I would like to thank my good friend Julia for inviting me to be her guest designer in February. Julia has chosen a great theme for this month...


For this challenge please choose one line from the grid shown. This can be a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line but you must select the middle square as one of your choices. What you make is your choice but please ensure that the three items you have chosen are clearly visible on your make. Please state in your post which line you have chosen. Inks, stains, sprays etc can be used as necessary on your project.

I absolutely adore paint, so that was definitely going to be in the line that I chose, so therefore I have used stamps and stencils also

I started by painting a PaperArtsy Grey/White board with Eggplant Fresco Finish Acrylic. It's a translucent colour, so I gave it two coats. I then painted some Chalk Fresco onto a piece of bubble wrap, and pressed the board onto it, to get a mono-print.

I used a small brayer to randomly apply some further Fresco Paint colours to my board. I used Bora Bora, Spanish Mulberry, Inky Pool, and then some Eggplant around the edges.

I used a stencil brush to apply Little Black Dress Fresco through Dina Wakley's Affirmations Stencil. This is where I got carried away, and forgot to take photos! Then I painted a little Artemio wooden frame with two coats of Eggplant Fresco.

I stamped an image from PaperBag Studio's 'Laugh' sheet, cut off the words, and cut the image to fit behind the frame. I added the words to the frame, together with some tiny brads.

To finish, I glued the frame to my board, then added some silver eyelets and chain to the top.
Thank you for joining me here today. I hope that I've inspired you to give this fabulous challenge a go.

Alison xox

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Tando Sponsor Spotlight

Hello everyone and lovely to see you here!! Today I am sharing our first sponsor spotlight for February from our wonderful sponsor  TANDO CREATIVE

Here is what I made:
Now what strange thing is this you may wonder, well this is what it looked like to start with:
Three Houses in a Box
It comes flat packed of course, which is just as well, as it make it a lot easier to decorate, here you can see all the pieces:
I started by putting the 3 little houses together. Unfortunately as it was evening, I could not really take step by step photos, but below you can see what they looked like after I had painted them, - great fun to do.

I had been thinking for quite a while  in what style I would create my little houses. In the end I decided they reminded me of little fairy houses and as my grand daughter loves fairies, I thought this box could be a gift for her. The roofs of the houses were covered first with dark brown paint and then with different mixes of embossing powders, I used Stampendous Frantage and Ranger Antiquities powders in rusty and verdigris colour tones, to give sort of old and mossy effects..

 Next came the inside of the box. I decided to add some bits of texture to make it look mossy and fairy like once painted:
Here is a close up, it's done with strips of cheese cloth and other bits from my fabric box.
Next I gessoed it all, spreading it on with a palette knife and with a stipple brush added some more texture:

I then set to work with my Decoart Media Acrylic Paints, trying to create a kind of fairy landscape.
I also melted some more embossing enamels over the textured bits for some fairy sparkle and to create a similar effect to the roofs of the houses. I also tried to create some depth and light in the trees. Sadly the embossing hardly shows up in the photo. The effect looks great IRL, in fact one day I may do a canvas in this way.

Here is the inside with the little houses in place:
Now to the outside of the box, - I covered it  in Gesso, painted with off white acrylic paint and did some stencilling with texture paint on the lid. The fairy I used to decorate the top of the lid was made by stamping with a really old stamp I found in my box of wood mounted stamps. I coloured it with Distress Markers and fussy cut it.. I also stamped a decorative stamp on the sides of the box, I think it's and Alphastamps stamp.
Here you can see some of the stencilling on the lid, as the inside is quite bright, I wanted to keep the outside more neutral.
A close up of the fairy, tucked in between some flowers so she will stand.

I had great fun making this, Tando have some amazing products to alter and have fun with. Don't forget to have a look at our challenge this month. We have some wonderful entries already, but there is still plenty of time to play, and don't forget, a randomly drawn entry could win a voucher for some Tando products, and of course there will be our winner and Top 3 too.

Well, thank you for visiting here today, I hope you have enjoyed my project, and don't forget to come back in 3 days time to see what our surprise guest designer will have to show you!