Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tutorial: How to Embelish a Collage using Handstitiching Techniques

A round the time that we were heading into our first season of baby showers, I started to make mixed media cards that could double as nursery and bedroom art for my Mom friends. Because the Peanut was still under 1 and not too interested in making cards for her friends yet, I also made cards for her friends too. Most of these cards were stuffed animal inspired and I began including simple stitching as part of the work which led to opening up a shop on Etsy.

The stitch that I use most often when I make hand made cards is the simple back stitch, to learn how to do the embroidery back stitch you can learn how from this youtube tutorial by Lolita charm, her tutorial is simple to follow and I happen to love her manicure.

Friday before last, I featured a very talented digital collage sheet artist; MagpieMine. In the feature I mentioned that I'd come across Maggie of MagpieMine through the Totally Tutorials Exchange program.

For the most part, I use original paintings for my mixed media projects, embellishing with hand stitching and beads to make my simple subjects pop. When I saw Maggie's entry for the tutorial exchange I was immediately excited by the possibilities. So much so, that after I entered my tutorial idea for her exchange, I went back and purchased some other sheets from her shop. As luck would have it, Maggie picked my entry for the exchange and I now have an abundance of fantastic digital clip art to work with.

For this tutorial, I will show you how to use a simple back stitch and beading to add more dimension to a 2 D collage. The final artwork can be matted and framed to fit into any fairy lover's decor. Mine will be a baby blessing gift to my new niece.

For this project you will need:

Your choice of digital Collage Sheet from MagpieMine, I used the Elves and Fairies in the Woodland sheet.
Heavy watercolour paper or card stock
x-acto knife
Glue Stick
Beading Needle
Embroidery Floss
Seed beads

Lets get started

Cut it out
To start, print out your collage sheet. It is best to print onto artist quality paper. Once printed use the x-acto knife to cut the image. I use an x-acto blade to cut out the image because the blade allows me to get into the more detailed areas for a crisper edge.

use glue stick to apply glue to the back of the image

Once cut out, apply glue to the back using a glue stick. Because I'm gluing a smaller, organic shape, I use a scrap page to apply the glue onto with a small stick to help hold my fairy down without getting my fingers all sticky. The scrap paper gets any of the extra adhesive, keeps the front of my image glue free and keeps my workspace clean and easier to work on.

place cutout onto collage background

After gluing the back of the fairy, put her onto the background paper. I've used a piece of watercolour paper because it's sturdy and can withstand having holes punched in as well as having wet media used on it (in case you wanted to paint onto your project before adding your fairy.)

get the collage ready for stitching

Once she's been placed on the background paper, make needle holes for stitching. When using embroidery stitches on paper it is easier to have pre-existing holes for placing your stitches along, it saves time and you can put a little more thought into where you want your stitches to go.

work in progress lit from behind to show where stitching will be placed

I wanted to add interest to her wings
on this fairy, so I chose to follow along existing lines in her wings. Using a needle, I poked holes along where my stitching was going to go. I use a thimble to help with this part of the project to save the tips of my fingers and thumb.

lay out threads to see which colours work best with your subject

Once the holes are poked into the image, it's time to choose which floss will work best with the fairy. This stage can also be done during the earlier stages, but I prefer to do it after I've got my layout put together.

If I were using a background that incorporated other designs, an image or colours, choosing my thread at this stage is very useful as all the picture elements are together. For this fairy I've chosen a combination of gold and silver floss.

begin stitching from the back of the work
Following Lolita charm's back stitch instructions, start stitching on the backside of your work. I start my stitches in the second to first hole and stitch backwards from there.

hold the end of the floss for the first few stitches so that
you don't pull it all the way through

continue stitching until the area you want embellished is done. You can finish off by sewing a knot in the backside of the work or by using the techniques in Lolita Charm's back stitching tutorial.

To add beads to the fairy, punch a single needle hole where each bead will go. Choose a needle that will fit your beads. Sometimes beads will have varying sized holes; it's a good idea to try more than one to see if most will fit over the needle.

sew beads onto front of image
Again, you will begin your stitch on the back side of the work.
Pull the thread through while holding the tail end of the thread in place. Add your bead to the thread and then put your needle back into the same hole you came up in. Move on to the next hole and repeat until all your beads have been applied.

All finished and ready for framing

Once finished, trim any extra threads and if you prefer, you can apply decorative paper onto the back of the work to hide the stitches in the back. Because I'll be matting and framing this fairy as a nursery decoration, I'm going to leave the back unfinished.

here is another example of this technique using another of MagpieMine's faries on a coloured background:

I'd like to thank Magpiemine for her super collage sheets and of course you can also visit her on Etsy to get started on your own projects.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My weekend was full

of screaming and tantrums galore. The Peanut has reached that stage where a total meltdown is a millisecond away at any given instant. Do you want to go to the playground? Yes? OK put on your shoes...... and we have tantrum, full on throat tearing screams, earsplitting nerve grating tantrum. My sweet little Peanut Butter Pie has become that kid.

She's also become the kid who will get into the worst possible mischief as soon as my back is turned. Yesterday brought a "I have something special for you Mommy; come and look" which turned into a whole jar of sugar sprinkles spilled on the floor in front of my drawing table. Later I heard an excited "look at me Mommy" and turned to find a new roll of paper towel unrolled in a carpet down the hall and into her bedroom and back. Both of these happened while I was in the process of making breakfast and then dinner. Keeping track of what she's got in her hands where she is and and how she'll manage to push her boundaries is... well there are no words because at one and the same time there's frustration, laughter, exasperation and joy and a billion other thoughts and feelings...

On that note, I can't even begin to tell you how pleased I am to have AnyMommy's blog on my reading list. I've been following anymommy for quite a while; her posts are full of all that stuff I mentioned above; written with more eloquence and grace than I am able to muster most days; and she does it with four beautiful children to my one little peanut.

I look forward to Stacey's posts because she makes me laugh and cry and squeal with glee sometimes all in the same fifteen minutes. AnyMommy is, as her blog title refers a mommy blog about a Mommy who didn't always want to be a Mommy, who refuses to sort laundry and only recently caved and started pre-treating before washing among many other but not so recent things.

When I found Anymommy she was pregnant, living with her three children in paradise and dealing with poop in the public swimming pool.

Friday, September 25, 2009

5 questions: Revisiting Deadworry, home of the Octo-Owl

Last winter, one of my first features was done on Deadworry, a small independent print shop out of Fort Walton Beach Florida. I was taken by the cute and creepy themes that April and her partner screen onto their shirts, bags and dresses. The name of the shop is an anagram of shop owner, April's favourite, and one of my favourite artists, Edward Gorey, if you have time I recommend The Gashlycrumb Tinies.

Since I've started to do my pre-holiday window shopping and we are again planning on going Hand made with our gifts again this year I thought I'd share Deadworry with you all again. I'm eyeing up a few of the t-shirts for the Teen Boys on our list and possibly one of their cool totes for my cousin if I draw her name this year.

Deadworry's full line of Indie shirts, dresses and stuff to have before you die! can be found on their deadworry.com, Shanalogic.com, and Funky Finds, They have also been featured on My It Things. If you're interested you can also befriend them on MySpace.

I'm still digging the cute on the verge of creepy graphics that are screened onto the apparel and bags that are in the shop. They remind me of Mr Gorey's intricate line drawings and dark themes, which is enough of a reason to recommend them all by itself.

What got you started?

I was very interested in the t-shirt making process as a kid so I went to work in this huge factory that made collegiate wear. It was an awful place to work but I was there for five years and working for "The Man" made me tough. I decided to start my own company with my boyfriend in 2007 and we've been printing our booties off ever since

Who has influenced your work the most?

I've always admired Warhol for being the most famous screen printer and making a boring production skill into art.

Can you describe the palette you use to create with, what colors do you always reach for?

I'm really liking grays and blues right now. I tend to lean toward monochromatic schemes...I am trying to break out of that box though so this spring I'll be adding some bright new colors to my palette.

What life or art lesson have you learned that has shaped your work?

You are the only one that's going to make it happen. You can't depend on others to do the hard work for you.

Which Children's book character would you be and why?

Well, I used to be Piglet - afraid and timid...but now I'm the ever optimistic Pooh ready to take on that Honey Pot!
Did you see something that you simply must know more about? Click on any of the pictures in this feature to find out more! As always your thoughts and comments are welcome, plus they'll put a smile on my face. If you want to make me jump for joy, head over to Deadworry and fill your closet with a few of their awesome shirts or grab a tote or three!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thousand Words Thursday

it's strange what people leave on the bus...

in other news I am working feverishly on my tutorial which sill go live on Tuesday!

Monday, September 21, 2009

I've become a bit obbsessed with the cooking channel

but not really with cooking, which is not really true I guess. I think I'm headed back towards being more excited about cooking again; which means that Autumn is approaching.

In the summer I tire of being in the kitchen, when it's too hot I lose interest in eating and cooking. Salads become the big thing, and of course BBQ. When fall rolls around, I start thinking about rich stews, pasta and chillies. meals to warm us up and comfort us through spring at which point I'm burnt out.

The problem is that since the fire we're still rebuilding up our kitchen inventory. Our insurance only covered the items that we had already replaced and had receipts for, we just couldn't afford to spend a huge chunk of money on grocery staples with the move. So I've resorted to adding staples as we require them for certain meals, it's slow going.

We're not as close to a grocery as we once were, and trips for groceries are now once a month. This weeks top To Do is to make a menu for the next few weeks and make up a grocery list to fit without going over budget.....

Since we're on the topic of things that make me salivate, let me suggest a great blog I've begun to follow. Chatterbox Sara's blog is so bright and beautiful it reminds me of a yummy candy (mmm candy). Some of her recent posts have involved some rather tasty looking dishes that make me hungry just thinking about them. She's fun and spunky and I look forward to reading her posts each day because she always has something interesting to say. Go check her out.

Mabon Moon

After putting Peanut to bed tonight I peaked out the door and saw this:

Friday, September 18, 2009

5 question: that most curious of birds

One day while browsing through my blog list, I came across a tutorial on how to do a tutorial, this post was in support of a blog exchange program on Totally Tutorials' Blog, where Etsy Suppliers offer free samples of their supplies to blog writers who are willing to use these materials to produce an art or craft tutorial linked to the supplier's shop and the shop owners blog.

The first thing that entered my mind after "Wow I'd like to get a piece of that action" was "What a great way to kick start some creativity!"

At the time I was going through a bit of a creative drought and had been in one for a while (hence my 5 questions question about getting out of a creativity block) so I kept my eye on the exchange program in case something that I could work with popped up.

Enter MagpieMine and her digital collage sheets. I was one of the lucky recipients of the exchange, and I've also become a customer too. There is such a wide selection of collage sheets in MagpieMine to choose from that the ideas come fast and furious as soon as I start browsing.

Maggie, of MagpieMine is (as she mentions in her profile) like that most curious of birds, the magpie; always on the lookout for interesting, shiny objects. She collects images and squirrels them away in case they are needed someday. In most cases these images and ideas end up on her amazing digital collage sheets.

Maggie claims to have too many ideas and not enough time to create all of them, which means that there is never a shortage of collage sheets in her inventory. I picked up the Elves and Fairies in the Woodland page and a few others to finish off the backs of my hand sewn greeting cards

Up until now, I'd been using decorative papers and in some cases small hand sewn pieces to cover up the reverse side of my cards which is time consuming and expensive. I can use Magpie's medallions printed onto adhesive paper and stick them over the loose threads to finish off my cards with ease as well as an added decorative flourish.

MagpieMine's collage sheets are a perfect first step to getting creative. They can be used for collage projects, jewelry and in some cases, they can be printed out and framed just as they are (yes, they are that well designed).

You can follow Maggies tweets on Twitter and if you want to learn more about Maggie you can also read her Blog, The Magpie's Nest where you'll find some of Maggie's favourite picks from Etsy, a sneak peek of new work, and of course links to some great tutorials featuring her work (stay tuned for my tutorial in the next week or so).

Magpie allowed me to pick her brain with 5 questions: here are her replies:

What has surprised you most about selling your creations online?

What has surprised me the most is the huge number of artists who create gorgeous pieces with clip art or collage sheets. Prior to making and selling collage sheets, as a graphic designer, I used clip art very occasionally when designing an ad or magazine feature or catalog page. It was kind of the last resort if I couldn't find or create the art I was looking for, and I always considered it not the most creative option. Since becoming part of the Etsy "family", I've been surprised to discover artists who create stunning collages, jewelry (charm bracelets are my favorite!), altered art like books and assemblages, all with heavy use of collage sheet art and clip art. The finished products are ultra-amazing! Luckily, with Etsy and other sites showcasing art, I doubt I will run out of new discoveries any time soon!

The other thing that has surprised me is how much I love thinking up new ideas for collage sheets! They just pop into my head, and I probably have forgotten more of my ideas than I have actually used! Got to start writing them down...

Do you listen to music when you create? If yes, what's on your play list right now and why?

Actually, I feel terrible admitting this but, no I don't listen to music when I am working. What?!? Un-American!! My favorite atmosphere when working is: nobody home but me, windows in my office open if it's nice outside, listening to the birds and the sounds of the neighborhood, with one of my cats lounging on the other desk by the window. I am just a peace and quiet fan. Today is one of those days, lucky me!

What got you started?

I have no first memory of discovering art; I was probably born with a Crayola crayon in my hand! I'd like to think it was Jazzberry Jam, but they didn't have that color back then! I've been a painter and a sketcher since I was very small.

What got me started selling online was a suggestion by a coworker that Etsy was a place to make some extra money. I had never heard of Etsy! But within a few weeks I had joined up and started making collage sheets.

So now, I have quit my day job, have let my housework go to pot, and spend way too much time at the computer. (No, the Storque will not be looking to interview me for Quit Your Day Job; I think you have to make enough to support yourself which I don't, though I am extremely fortunate that my great hubby picks up the slack, at least for now!)

Details from Grungy Inchies in Jewel Colors Collage Sheet

Which Children's book character would you be and why?

Well, I guess I would say Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz because no matter where I go I always feel that there's no place like home! Haven't found the Emerald City yet though...

Rock, Paper or Scissors?

Definitely paper! The best things are on paper (sad for someone who works almost entirely with digital files, right?). I love books, magazines, paper beads, papier maché, paper airplanes, paper bags, and origami; not to mention watercolor paintings, scrapbooks, doilies, sticky notes, paper dolls, and I hate to say it but I use too many paper towels! You have to watch out for paper though. It piles up and takes on a life of its own! Sometimes I think I am drowning in paper, since I hate to throw anything away.

detail from Birds, Gators and Hedgehogs Collage Sheet

Did you see something that you simply must know more about? Click on any of the pictures in this feature to find out more! As always your thoughts and comments are welcome, plus they'll put a smile on my face. If you want to make me jump for joy, head over to MagpieMine's shop and buy one, two, three or more of her great collage sheets!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thousand Words Thursday

They say a picture is worth them:

the most relaxing thing about last weekend

Come back tomorrow for this weeks 5 Questions featured artist.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm taking a bit of a break

from a Blog Give- a - way entereing frenzy.

The Laughing Vixen Lounge is holding a monster Halloween Goodie Bag Giveaway and the prizes included are creepy crawly and absolutely fantastic. there are many many ways to enter which is why the entering frenzy. Visit the blog post about the giveaway here

Now go, go and enter, enter as much as you want! I've gotta get back to adding my entries...

Monday, September 14, 2009

A little bit more about how I want to progress

On Friday I posted about how I see my Friday Features going, partially to set the stage for this weeks feature, to build up the anticipation so to speak. Also to give myself a little direction, something to refer to from time to time to keep things on track.

This post is something similar for my Monday Blog Share posts. I'm bringing those posts back too, starting today.

I seem to have an ever expanding list of blogs I like to drop in to on a regular basis. Some I pick up from the Etsy forums while I'm promoting my own features, others I stumble on as I read other people's blog comments. Still others are added as I feature an Etsy shop and add the link to a blog to the body the feature.

I follow because I've found something funny, something beautiful, something thought provoking, something that inspires me, something that makes me feel like a part of a community, something that makes me green with envy (because I just wish I had though of that first, or had done mine that way or that I was half as cool as that person is)... The reasons I follow blogs are many. The reasons I want to share these blogs are perhaps not so vast, I just want to share some of the good stuff I've been getting in my blog reader.

In the past my Monday Blog Sharing posts listed up to 3 blogs to check out. Thinking about it, 3 is too many. When I ask myself if I would check out all three blogs as a reader the answer is "no" so I'm scaling back. One blog recommendation per blog share post.

So the return of my Blog Share posts on Monday starts now; with Where Eagles Dare, a lush edgy blog with their own Friday Feature Q&A that falls under the green with envy heading. I love love love the questions asked in the features. They are the questions I love reading the answers to. Also Kate and her husband Johnny5; the voices behind Where Eagles Dare are such rock stars in her own right; they run Where Eagles Dare on Etsy which is full of tattoo inspired paintings and other magnificence. Right now their shop is in Vacation Mode (so you will have to wait to see what I'm talking about) but their blog is alive and kicking so go and check it out.

In addition to Where Eagles Dare Kate also has a second blog called Dear Johnny5, a collection of letter to her husband that really are an intimate portrait of their relationship and also make me wish that my husband had a little of Johnny5's flair for romance... not that I'm complaining.

Friday, September 11, 2009

We now return to our regularily scheduled programming

During my vacation from my regularly scheduled blog posts, I spent some time thinking about what direction I want to take this blog, what my goals are for it over the next few months and how I can possibly reach those goals.

That lead to me thinking about what my mission statement should be for my scheduled blogs. Which got me thinking harder and took me down a few paths that I backed right out of before taking more than one or two steps more than I wanted to.

I started doing a weekly feature because

A) I wanted to drive more traffic to my blog and hopefully further on to my Etsy shops, TMCPhoto and PeanutButterPie.

B) I wanted to showcase some of the artists that really caught my eye while browsing through Etsy


C) I wanted to send out some positive Etsy Karma and hopefully help some of these incredibly talented artists and artisans make a sale here and there; the idea being what goes around comes around. If I can help a fellow Etsian add to their income the positive energy would make its way back towards me.

I can honestly say that A has been achieved. My weekly 5 question features garners the highest traffic to my blog each week, sometimes in record numbers. There are one or two features that still get heavy hits. B, it goes without saying is also a goal well met. All my features are of people who's work I adore, In some cases they have work that I have paid for and in others they have work that I would gladly fork over cash for if I had it to spend. C was a bit of a tricky goal, I mean how do you know if something you've posted online has directly resulted in a sale unless the buyer or the seller lets you know. Fortunately In the case of my feature on TubbyTabby this was the case. I can't tell you how tickled I was to have had a hand in making a sale.

My goals for the next few months are more of the same with a little more thought put into it. I'm putting a little bit more lead time ahead of each live posting, hoping to have posts written, linked and ready to go live well ahead of schedule so that I'm not scrambling (yes even working two weeks in advance I was scrambling at some points) and in the case of unexpected speed bumps I'll have some wriggle room and possible ready to go features to tide me over until I can get back up to speed.

Abiding by a feature mission statement meant I've had to create one:

5 questions is a fun look into the mind of an Etsy artist or artisan who's work is something that I personally love. the work has to be something that I would buy for myself or as a gift, have bought for myself or as a gift or have on my personal wish list. The 5 questions asked will range from a growing list of questions I keep on file, chosen at random based on what I want to know about my chosen artist.

Making sure that I remind my readers that they can connect to any item featured in the post by clicking on it's image is also on my list. When I write up my features I always, always always link back not only to the Etsy shop but also to any of the items I've used to illustrate the feature with. In the few cases where the feature artist has requested or provided images that are not for sale in their Etsy shop I link to an appropriate Flickr page or personal website. In any case you can always click on an image of something you like to get more information.

Also a to do is a re-write of my request to feature convo. This is just something for me to help keep me organized. Asking for images and links to websites, blogs and fan pages so I'm not forgetting anything when I start to write.

With this post I'm priming the pump for the return of 5 questions next week. Next weeks feature is an artist and designer that I'm pleased to say falls into the category of some one I have bought from. I came across her while browsing Totally Tutorials blog exchange program. I liked her work so much, felt so inspired what she was offering and immediately had a handful of good ideas for projects that I applied for her exchange. Those ideas for a tutorial really got me excited and I happened to be in a particularly productive stage, I couldn't wait to see who would be accepted for the exchange and I bought a few sheets before she could even post her picks.......

But more about that next week.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Book Review: The Gruffalo

I love children's books and not just because I have the peanut to read to everyday but also because I just love, love, love the art, the story and the inspiration I can get from them.

I'll admit happily to being one of those people who pick a book based on the cover, especially in the case of a good children's book, where the illustrations are just as important as the story itself.

When we started reading to the Peanut we always chose and continue to choose books that have a good story, some kind of narrative, characters that are enjoyable to reading about, and of course there must be brilliant illustrations. This has meant that for the most part, the board books featuring a single word and illustration have been fairly rare in our house, when they do come in they are the Peanuts picks and we read them as many times as she wants to along with the other great story books that can be read over and over without turning our brains into mush.

This is what this feature is about*, those books we bring home (from the book store, from the library and from wherever we come across them) and fall in love with. A while ago a good friend gave us a copy of one of these.

click on the book cover to buy this book

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler quickly became a rhyming success at quiet time and nap time with the Peanut. It has fun illustrations, a snappy rhythm; written in Iambic Pentameter making it fun to read aloud. The Peanut loves reading with repetition and we found that she jumped in and start telling us the story herself after one read.

The book tells the story of a little mouse who takes a stroll through the deep dark wood where he encounters a number of scary creatures who would like to take him home and make him their dinner, all pretty scary if you are a mouse but none so scary as the Gruffalo. Reading along to see what a Gruffalo is and how our mouse evades becoming a snack is a fun and entertaining book with a great twist that allows for the underdog of the story to put one over on the big guys! It's not easy to find a book that doesn't get boring to read after the first 20 re-reads and The Gruffalo fits happily in the read it over and over category with ease.

Julia Donaldson has written a number of other fabulous books including another current favourite Tyrannosaurus Drip and a past library re-renewal Night Monkey Day Monkey as well as a number of other equally lovable books, you can find out more at her website www.juliadonaldson.co.uk and more about the Gruffalo on his website www.gruffalo.com where you can find activities, games and become one of the Gruffalo Gang.

Now go read a book!

*None of the books I will review here are solicited by authors or publishing companies, they are just books that we can't get enough of. If this is not the case, and I have been given a book to review by anyone I will make it very clear at the beginning of a review that this is the case.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A little direction

I've been on hiatus from my weekly Q&A feature and I've been using the time to do a little shop tweaking and banner making for TMCPhoto and rethinking what I want this blog to be about and where I want to take it, not to mention working on ways to keep things fresh. I've been wondering if I've had enough focus here and whether I've veered off of the original track and onto another one running a little parallel but with a few more wide curves.

What got me thinking was the number of Mommy Bloggers I have been following. These women are smart funny and in some cases brutally honest about their lives. I've been known to laugh out loud at certain posts and to blow my nose and wipe dripping eyes after others. So I was wondering if I've started to slot myself into the Mommy-Blogger role.

Not that that's a bad thing, I am a Mommy, the Peanut is a pretty big part of my life and our days together make up quite a lot of blog fodder for me. When I started out, the purpose of writing was to let people get to know me, my art and hopefully lead them to my Etsy shops. So I've been thinking about how to balance out the art and the mommy stuff.

I'm hoping I've got it all worked out. In the meantime I'm gearing up for the return of the 5 question feature. I've got a list of shops and artists I want to feature and I'm truly excited about getting back into the swing of things.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Your questions please!

My original idea for my last post was to do what I'm doing in this post but when I sat down to write this post I couldn't concentrate on what I had planned on writing and instead you got my thoughts on a truly terrible situation that to be honest is still on my mind but I'm pushing past it and getting back down to business.

I'm gearing up for the return of the 5 question feature. I've got a list of shops and artists I want to feature and I'm truly excited about getting back into the swing of things.

The questions I use for this feature are a compilation of random questions that I find interesting to find out from artists I admire. To keep things fresh, fun and interesting I'd love to hear the questions that you'd ask the artists and artisans you admire.

Leave me a comment with your questions and I'll add them to my roster, with props to you of course!
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