I'm travelling into a new way of working, a new country, a new language, and a new hobby which I'm passionate about. Come with me for some of the journey...

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Christmas is coming...

…. though not quite yet!  However, Christmas is coming is the theme of the challenge over at The Artistic Stamper this month, so you can start getting in the mood.

I always seem to end up going for neutrals with my Christmas makes and, since it's such a busy time of year, it seems sensible to keep things fairly simple (and repeatable).  So I've got a quick set of tags for you today using some of the fantastic Christmas stamps available at The Artistic Stamper (just click the product links to go shopping!).


I started with some tea and coffee stained tags (and I do mean that - I usually use a mixture of the two when I'm staining).






All the stamping is done in Archival Coffee.
















The stamps are a mixture from Victorian Christmas #2...












... and from Christmas Plate #3.












The fine detail of the images is just lovely.












The Kate Greenaway lettering is especially enchanting, I think.













As you can see, I've done a bit of extra inking around the edges with Distress Inks to draw the eye into the centre.










I added some tiny wooden stars - just a simple embellishment, but I love the pale pop of dimension against the rustic backgrounds.














I'm back with my favourite tiny pine cones - simple and natural.














And some pale rustic string finishes them off - perfect for attaching to parcels.








Come and share with us at The Artistic Stamper how you're getting ready for the festive season with your Christmas is coming... creations.

Hope all's well with everyone - I'm missing visiting you all!  It's been all go at the theatre - more than 12 hours a day in technical and dress rehearsals over the last two weeks.  Tonight we have our first preview in front of an audience, so we'll get to find out how well we're telling the story.  Then we can refine and tweak and hopefully end up with something that knocks their socks off!

Since it's the first of the month, I'll be back with another post later this morning - hope to see you then.

Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.
Charles M. Schulz

Saturday, 18 October 2014

A Funkie Creative Corner

Hello all and welcome, with an especially big welcome to the newest followers - fabulous to have you on board!

After my hugely long sparkly post I've just got a quick sneak peek for you today.  I'm delighted to be presenting a Sponsor Spotlight over at Our Creative Corner in honour of our fabulous sponsor this month, The Funkie Junkie Boutique.



I'm a huge fan of the amazing Linda Coughlin - a.k.a. the Funkie Junkie herself.  She was one of my earliest supporters in Craftyblogland, and I've been so honoured to serve alongside her on Design Teams.  As a great lover of her Funkie Junkie Boutique, I had a ball with today's offering.

I hope you will hop over to Our Creative Corner and see what I've been up to.







Don't forget the Funkie Junkie 12 Tags of Christmas are now under way… I hope to be along to play once I'm back from the States (I didn't pack any Christmas stash!).

I love old, funky things.  And colour just makes me happy.
Bobbi Brown

Oh, and if you missed my trio of sparkly tags, I'd love it if you had time to check them out - I think they're one of my favourite makes lately!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Sparkle and Shine

Hello all!  I'm back with my second sparkly and shiny offering of the month to inspire you to play along with Doreen's Sparkle and Shine theme over at Country View Challenges.  It's a tag trio full of mixed media textures.  We're photo-heavy today, so grab a cup of coffee!


I cannot tell you how much fun I had with these tags! I may have trouble remembering the ins and outs of their creation though, as it's quite a long time since I made them - late July, I think.





I had to get them done before setting off for New York the first time.  I tried to take photos as I went, to remind myself as much as anything else, so here goes…

I was inspired by these fabulous tags by Aida - owner of the very cool Polish 13Arts store.








I suppose mine are a combination of the two sets in the post I've linked to, but since there was no step-by-step, I had to sort of "reverse-engineer" my version - pretty much making it up as I went along to create something similar.










I started with three standard tag backgrounds, stamped with some of my favourite Tim Holtz meadow grasses and a flourish, and then inked with Distress Inks.














Over that I painted a thick coat of multi-medium and then pressed the tags against one another to create waves of texture in the medium.






As well as the texture, the medium "seals" in the Distress Ink colours, so they won't run during any of what follows.













While the medium was still tacky, the next step was to add some more dimensional textural elements.












So at this point I glued down some cheesecloth, some tiny beads, and also some white paper roses as I knew they'd take the inky sprays well once I got going.










I added some glass bead gel medium too for extra sparkle.













While the tags were drying, I stuck some green glass pebbles to some book text.

I was quite precise about picking the words to highlight - I wanted lots of sparkling positivity!












Once dry, the medium gives you these fabulous transparent ridges over the inked, stamped background.












Time to glue down some more embellishments.

I added some buttons and some wooden ornaments, and I also tried out the positioning of my glass pebbles.











I quite liked the arrangements even in the "naked" version, but I was after some more shimmer and sparkle, so it was time for some spritzing.













(I hadn't glued the pebbles down yet, though everything else was stuck in place.  I took them away during the spritzing so that their surfaces would stay free of any inky splatter, keeping the words clearly visible.)













As well as Dylusions and Ranger ColorWash for intense colour, there are various sprays involved: Perfect Pearls Mists, Tattered Angels and Cosmic Shimmer - basically anything that was to hand which would add a touch of mica sparkle.











I was really pleased with the effect of the ridges of texture… 













… so I highlighted it by rubbing some Silks Acrylic Glaze and some Treasure Gold over the top.













And I love how the glass beads took the colour differently from the background so that they stand out.













The last step was to add the ChitChat stickers - again lots of positive thoughts about the adventures to come (New York being still ahead of me at that point).  So there's hope…














adventure… 













and possibility…














… to go with the positive glass pebbles: remember (which I'm not good at - I definitely live in the moment!)…








beautify...













and amazement.

See - I knew those roses would look good all inked up - and the glitter still works through the new colours!












The loose woven ribbon at the top was something I picked up somewhere along the line - it was already a vivid shade of lime green so I added some Distress Stains to give it a multi-shaded tint.  I like how it echoes the cheesecloth on the tags.










I'm really pleased with how the colours of the cheesecloth vary so widely, from a bold vivid green to the softer blues.

And I'm very happy to finally have pressed those beads into action!












The same goes for the wooden ornaments which soak in the ink for a matte finish.  I considered glossing them up with a coat of glossy accents, but I decided we had enough sparkle on the go...

… though I will admit there are touches of Treasure Gold just about everywhere, giving a gilded finish.



So that's my sparkly trio for you - I hope you like them.  I certainly had a ball getting really inky and messy, and even getting into the swing of Sparkle and Shine.


I hope you'll come and play along with us at Country View Challenges this month.  There's a prize generously sponsored by Country View Crafts, and you still have two weeks to get sparkly!


Thanks so much for stopping by, and I'll see you again soon.

Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars.  Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait.  The grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas.
Henry Ford

Friday, 10 October 2014

A View of New York

Hello all - it's a non-crafty post today!  I'm just coming to the end of a quick flit to the UK.  There were some work dates I couldn't shift when the New York job came up, plus it gave me the chance to go to the Andy Skinner workshop which was postponed from July - yippee!!

I'm so happy the new workshop date coincided with these couple of weeks.  So I get to do some mixed media work on Saturday and then off to the airport at the crack of dawn on Sunday for another month in New York.  It's a hard life, but someone's gotta do it...


I'm sorry I haven't found much time for visiting lately, or even for sharing my New York adventures.  The job I do requires full immersion - no surprise that I didn't even discover crafting until I went freelance! - and I know I'm incredibly lucky to find such creative stimulation in my work life.  Sadly, it doesn't leave much time or energy over for anything else… but I'm here with a few photos today.

My pictures don't include the conventional views of NYC; those photos of gleaming skyscrapers and the Stature of Liberty have all been done already many times over, and so much better than I could.


And rather than hit the conventional tourist trails on my Sundays off, I've usually just set off to walk the streets and simply encounter whatever I encountered.



So this is a personal journey… a more idiosyncratic tour around some of the things which have caught my attention.

For one thing, I've become obsessed with trying to capture echoes of New York's history.  If you've seen my new Pinterest board, Old New York, you'll know where/when I'd really like to visit!

For much of the time, we've been rehearsing on Washington Square - you can imagine that delights me, with its literary heritage.










I love the brownstones - the four and five storey houses and apartment blocks built in the 1800s - and have spent many hours on my Sundays off wandering the streets of Greenwich Village and the lower East and West Sides.










The leafy streets offer a respite from the bustle of uptown New York, and you find stoops covered with beautiful pot plants - the closest most New Yorkers get to having a garden of their own, I guess.











I'm always in search of buildings with a bit more character and a bit more history about them (if you look past the chichi renovations…).  Click on the photos for a closer view.


What can I say?  I'm just not a steel and glass kind of person - but anybody who's a regular here at Words and Pictures could probably have guessed that!







I'm hugely taken with the fire escapes…
















… something about the industrial look and the iron against the walls, and those dramatic diagonals.











There were some really fantastic balconies and stairways on some of the theatres.  Just check out those street lamps too.








I remain in awe of the vision and ambition which led to the planning of the vast grid which starts part way up the island.


It's a plan which envisaged a metropolis of millions covering the whole of Manhattan - and this was in 1811, when the actual population was barely 100,000, taking up only the southern-most tip of the otherwise ruggedly rural island.

Now, from the higgledy-piggledy downtown streets of the early period, everything straightens up into right-angled streets and avenues.









It means you get these incredible vistas that enable you to see from one side of the island to the other or, it sometimes seems, almost the whole length of the island along the avenues.

It suddenly gives real meaning to a song like "On the Sunny Side of the Street"...







I spent half a day wandering the High Line - created to give New Yorkers another outdoor space.

They've converted the disused elevated railway tracks into a walkway-come-nature reserve.  The whole thing is a couple of storeys above street level.








There's beautiful planting along its whole length (more than 20 city blocks)…













… grassy areas to sit…














... and water features (that dark area is trickling water - enough for kids to splash in before it disappears down the grille)…





… there are various types of seating along the way...


… and - being New York - places to get something to eat and drink (I had the most delicious spiced pear ice lolly!)...





… as well as views over the Hudson River.














And all the time you have this extraordinary juxtaposition of nature and urban architecture …













…and the sense of being raised above the streets, yet still dwarfed by the buildings.














There are meadow grasses jutting out over roads (spot the yellow cab!)…











… and plants alongside rusting railway tracks.














Here's about as touristy as this tour gets: at one point you get a view across the grasses and rooftops to the Empire State Building.











And if you look right in the centre of this picture… yup, that's the Statue of Liberty there in the distance!

I will admit to being a little in love with her.  On my commute (sometimes necessary depending on where we're rehearsing) across the East River, you get a great view of her, standing out in front of the soaring buildings of the financial district, and there's something very moving about her - valiantly standing her ground, yet so very tiny compared to the vast Atlantic in one direction and the huge metropolis behind her.





There were couples and families who'd clearly come to spend the day with picnics and newspapers.

It wouldn't suit me to have to sit in such close proximity with other people, not to mention the thousands strolling past - not my idea of relaxation - but I suppose when you live in a city this populous and busy, you learn to make your peace with the congestion of humanity.






I'm a hermit by nature, so while it's fantastic to get to spend time in this buzzing, inspirational city, I couldn't do it forever!  I was really lucky to get a few seconds people-free to capture this shady birch bower.

The High Line is another example of New York's capacity to realise its ambitions -
 a vision, a statement of intent, made into reality - well worth a visit if you're ever in the city.








For my first five weeks in New York, I was lucky enough to be living less than five minutes walk from the corner of Central Park.


These fantastic stone figures were outside one of the office buildings on my walk to the subway each day.










I finally remembered to take my camera with me and take a photo of them on my last morning in that apartment.  The layers of stone are just beautiful.













There were also these great tiles to admire in the subway station itself.  At some stations the tile work dates back to 1904, the very first subway openings.  These are from the 1930s.











When I return on Sunday, I'll be staying in Brooklyn - so I get the fantastic double of the Manhattan experience and the Brooklyn experience… as I say - it's a hard life.













As many of you know, I spent a lovely day browsing flea markets and antique stores with the wonderful Marjie Kemper.  We found a couple of extraordinary things along the way…

She did much better than me at taking pictures of the two of us - I never remember to get the camera out for people!








I hope to tempt her to the Brooklyn Flea when I get back.  It's literally two minutes walk from where I'm staying, so I'll try to take some photos then.

I'm also still hoping against hope that I might be able to go to her class at the Ink Pad on my last day in New York in November… it'll depend on how the show is looking by then.







One day I did remember the camera for was the People's Climate March on 21st September.  It was amazing to be part of the hordes marching through the streets… though if truth be told, I did very little actual marching.

As you can see, there were some lovely banners and costumes around.








I was there for two and half hours and by that point my part of the march hadn't even set off… 

There were just so many people stretching along the route of the march that where we were, nearer the back, we simply couldn't move.  I'm afraid I started to find the crowds and the noise a little overwhelming.










As I beat a retreat, I found part of the reason why we hadn't started to move… This is the road to my apartment, not even part of the march route, just a filler street jammed with people still filtering into the march.

It was the same in street after street alongside the route - more and more people trying to join in, and singing and chanting and cheering as they waited.





Oh, and on one of my meanderings I found maybe the best shop window display ever!  I hope that through the reflections you can see some of the fabulous vintage details - musical instruments and all (yes, that is an old honky tonk piano in the background).  Well done, Ralph Lauren!








So, a very partial view of New York - and really only the tip of the iceberg as far as my wanderings and work go (the theatre I'm working in is here, if you missed that link, and the play I'm on is Tamburlaine - very gory, and politically a very hot potato given it's 425 years old), but since so many of you have been kind enough to ask about it all, I thought it was about time to fill you in a bit!  I hope you enjoyed it…

I'm certainly enjoying New York itself far more than I'd expected.  I'm not a city-type, but there's no doubting the ferocious energy of NYC - it's infectious…  I can't wait to get back there on Sunday.

Thanks so much for stopping by.  Hope you all have a great weekend!

The city is like poetry; it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines.
E.B.White

Silence?  What can New York - noisy, roaring, rumbling, tumbling, bustling, story, turbulent New York - have to do with silence?  Amid the universal clatter, the incessant din of business, the all swallowing vortex of the great money whirlpool - who has any, even distant, idea of the profound repose… of silence?
Walt Whitman