Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wishing Away!

Wishcasting Wednesday's prompt today is: What do you wish to clear out?

Last week in my full moon dreamboard I gave the story of how we tried and failed to sell this house. I mentioned that Jim had "unearthed a whole cache of wonderful things" but didn't say where he'd found them...

When we moved back into this house we were still anticipating putting it back on the housing market so we put some things into a storage unit.

What a mistake!

Its cost us a bomb.

And depressed me.

And, it turns out, hidden quite a few of the things that I've been missing, presumed lost in the moves.

Don't ask why I didn't think to look there - I think I was blanking out on it because the prospect of clearing it seemed so enormous...

So my wish this week is:

To clear out the storage container and to find all the lost treasures hidden in there!

All non-treasures to either find new homes easily or to be disposed of at long last.

To enable this wish to come true I need to maintain my resolve and the energy and bodily strength necessary to enable me to play my part. And the same for Jim too!

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Here is a two-page spread of spread hands from my altered book - Shamanic Marks - Inspiration!

Hands were one of the most obvious things to work with in this book - for these two I've included a variation of spiral and line symbol found near rock art hands. I've included both wet and dry sgraffito.

I was planning on just using the dry sgraffito and I started off with oil pastels on a piece of cartridge paper then used black poster paint (thanks for the suggestion Tinker - my "gouache" turned out to have acrylic in its formulation) over them.

I used sgraffito to chip out a hand shape which worked rather well and the spiral symbol. I then rolled the paper and the black poster paint flaked off so much that the sgraffito became much too subtle amongst the rather bright contrast of yellow, orange and black. So I cut the hand out instead and realised I could use both the positive and the negative like this.

I used wet sgraffito for the spiral symbol on the left hand page.

I've also been experimenting with blowing paint around a hand:

Red on Black

I made the black background by monoprinting from the overwet posterpaint used above.

When I came to use the mouth diffuser (atomiser/atomizer) I found it quite difficult to get it to work at all - the angle of the two components is all important - having got it working with water I moved onto dilute poster paint and found I had to blow extremely hard to get a good spray. I've done three variations and am wondering what else to do with them before they too find their way into the book. I might make a lino cut of the spiral symbol.

I also discovered why the hands are generally done with the fingers splayed - if you don't it doesn't look much like a hand...

Friday, April 10, 2009

First Day of Stencilling...

Mary Ann's (Dispatch from LA) on-line Stencil course has begun! And this is what I've done so far. I'm not sure that they are finished but the light is failing and I'm stopping for now.

This first week is working with "found" stencils - so that means not having to cut one's own yet.

I'd gathered quite a stash to play with but constrained myself to a few to begin with. Though just choosing to use the big jigsaw pieces added in rather more complexity than I'd been expecting. They are gigantic pieces from a child's floor puzzle - it was one that had pieces that had been mended and was reduced in a charity shop. It was quite easy to do when the picture was visible. This is what it looks like now:

Painted Jigsaw

I used one of the big plastic "lace" things and it picked up the jigsaw pattern rather well:

Plastic "Lace" after spraying...

Though having used it like this for both these pieces I feel its a bit too static and would move a smaller piece around instead if I was using it for a background like this again.

So far its been lots of fun!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Chocolate Full Moon Dreamboard

Careful What You Wish For... Even When You Don't Realise That You Are...

Today Jim unearthed a whole cache of wonderful things... like the A3 paper for my printer that I've looked EVERYWHERE for, well except I hadn't, obviously... and some art materials that I've been missing... and this cutting from a magazine.

Jim had cut it out because it has a tortoise on it.

When he was a child he wanted a pet but his parents weren't keen. Then a stray tortoise turned up and, even though they found its owners, Jim got to keep him.

Scroll forward to Valentine's Day 2004.

At that time the Guardian newspaper's Saturday magazine had a column called "That's My Pet!" - it featured three people, sometimes celebrities and others too, and their pets. The idea was to match up the person with their pet(s). Jim was good at guessing whose pet was whose.

In this cutting, not especially carefully saved, but saved nonetheless, were a tortoise, a cat and two dogs. But not any old dogs, though in those days neither of us would have recognised them without the useful caption:

It took a few years but I think the seed was sown without our realising it then... Here is Teasel, the Miniature Schnauzer, that's my pet now:

Wood for Brains?

And the cat? Well it was called Luna.

At the time of that column, early 2004, we were just about to move out to a rented house in Minchinhampton. Whilst we were there we got this house done up and on the market but it didn't sell... there were lots of strange things going on... for instance:
  • The only people we managed to attract through private advertising turned up on a day when there was a thick bank of fog... which almost never happens... and it most definitely detracted from the views we enjoy:

    Rainbow in the heart of Bristol!

  • The first set of estate agents proved strangely incompetent - given that they are still in business, even now during the huge downturn in the housing market, I suspect they are normally much more efficient. Things that happened included: the brochure having mislabelled photos, inaccurate descriptions, no photos of the views (our major selling point), price reductions failing to be advertised in their own window, etc.

    After three months we tried some other agents.

  • The second set of agents were better but also unlucky. Their brochure was accurate though they also failed to show the views. And during our time on with them our house, which we visited frequently, slept in occasionally, but were mostly away from, was burgled twice. Very little was taken... we'd left the house looking furnished but no TV or computers or expensive Hi-Fi. One mini-hi-fi was taken but as it was broken we didn't mind - it had simply been "dressing" the house! Not enough was taken to make an insurance claim on... and both thieves were caught.

  • Just before we moved back to Bristol there were some people who seemed really keen. On the last day we were on the market, they left us a message via the agents that they'd have loved to have put an offer in but their own house sale had just fallen through...
The burglaries were 2 moons apart... (2-3 days before new moons)...

I've been cautious about wishing again for the house in the Cotswolds that I still yearn for... but now I'm daring to once more... right now its just the seed of an idea, a dream, a reflection lapping in the mirror of my mind and my cocoa:

Join me in a full moon cocoa with a dream of a house in the Cotswolds.

For more full moon dreamings and to add your own in too visit Jamie's blog.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What do you see?

This is a double page spread in my current altered book. After spending lots of time playing with possible page backgrounds outside the book, this is the first I've applied within it.

1st two layers - palette knifed on white gesso - keeping the texture building up
2nd layer - yellow liquid acrylic rubbed on all over
3rd layer - yellow ochre and phthalo green applied with palette knife, some rubbing in and rubbing off and more yellow ochre spread over whilst still wet - this was a very messy and fun phase!

The title of this book is "Shamanic Marks - Inspiration" and I'm planning on using a cave art style - so now I'm looking at this textural background to see what animals, or people, or ghosties I see there.

One of the techniques the cave painters (as opposed to the scratchers) used was spray painting around stencils - the most obvious being the hand prints found in caves. So I've signed up for an on-line stencil course with Mary Ann of Dispatch from LA.

In preparation I've been scouring the neighbourhood shops for doilies!

No I don't suppose its true cave art but they have holes in and make interesting stencils. I've been collecting various supplies since I signed up for the course:

Stencilling  Equipment

Whilst on my trek looking for doilies, sequin waste and anything else that has stencilling potential without being too expensive... I saw these:

Drink Me! Eat Me!

Notice that cake stand. On my way home, laden with my purchases, I came across, on a garden wall, a cake stand and lid that had a label on it that said "Please Take Me", beside it was some bubble wrap and a carrier bag... so of course I did! (I forgot to photograph it though - sorry - I was just too surprised and excited.)

And talking about cakes and celebrations Teasel was 8 months old on Sunday and Jim has been blogging in her dog blog about that and her first 6 months with us.

She's changed our lives so much and its so much for the better!

(Though her birthday cake was a Liver Cake and not something I fancy...)

Friday, April 03, 2009


Yesterday's prompt on Blissfully Art Journalling was about how fluid one felt. This was my response. This time after scanning in my original page and adding a photo I printedit out on card then added some gouache, then submerged the whole in water! It took quite a while to dry... Finally I also added some gold and silver but they haven't scanned well.

Yesterday I noticed this in a charity shop window, after closing time:
Store in a cool place. Out of direct sunlight...

Its not a perfume I'm familiar with but looking it up on the web it appears to come in a curiously shaped bottle that might be described as a bust... in which case this bust was bust... :-)

I felt the moral was that if one feel's shattered it may be because of something that's been bottled up.

Yesterday I forgot to show the niche I'd made for my Spirit Doll of the East:

First Doll in her Niche

I happened to make her at the Vernal Equinox so the others will have to wait their turns: South at the Summer Solstice, West at the Autumnal Equinox and North at the Winter Solstice. At least their niches are ready for them.

Now any suggestions for finding really hidden bottled up things and releasing them gracefully?

Thursday, April 02, 2009


The above is my response to a prompt on a yahoo group I've just joined - Blissfully Art Journaling - the prompt was to describe one's meal choice for one's last ever meal - a Last Supper. My immediate thought was something that would take a very long time to eat.

Then when I was in the bath I started to sing (luckily this went unrecorded!) but the words included "I'd pick a meal that would last a thousand years" and later I realised this was picking up on Scheherazade's tactic of telling stories to prolong her life by telling a 1001 stories. I had a favourite version of the Arabian Nights book when I was a child and at the back it had suggestions for dressing up and meals... the only part of which I currently recall was a drink called a Sherbet... And when a child one of my favourite sweets (candies) were Lemon Sherbets... hence Sherbet Lemonade. The Very Hungry Caterpillar also came to mind...

I started off in a "normal" journal, scanned it, added some colour digitally, printed it out onto card and added some paint. I rather like this process and so yet another style of journal is begun... and I have the very place for it... the other day in a charity shop I bought a book that was in the form of a ring binder...

Yesterday in saying hello on the Blissfully Art Journalling group I boldly claimed that I've done something which might be called art journalling for years and years... though I always start the books with a promise to myself that no-one else will ever see what I put in them... and then overnight the doubts crept in... was I boasting to say I'd been art journalling all this time?

So I picked one of my old journals at random (1991) and these are a few of its pages (never before shown to anyone!)

Now I'm definitely not claiming they are great art but I think art journalling is a reasonable term to describe what I was doing... and some even had colour... though most do tend to be in pen... and there is plenty of ordinary written journal in there too.

In the Altered Book course that Elizabeth, Altered Book Lover, is currently running she has suggested trying both wet and dry sgraffito using acrylics in our books.

I've used dry sgraffito successfully when working with enamels on copper and painting on glass - in both cases the "paint" is applied to a smooth impenetrable surface and is very easy to scrape off - its then fired in a kiln which melts it enough to make it permanent but without losing the detail. Its possible to do both very bold and very delicate work like this.

Doing dry sgraffito with paint on paper is clearly somewhat different and quite a challenge.

Its something I'd love to get to work.

I experimented...

Attempting to do the dry sgraffito technique the first time didn't work for me... I couldn't get down to show the colour (bright lime green!) I'd applied underneath and only managed either a rather dull scratch or a rather brutal (and hard to control) scrape that went through to the paper.

Dry Sgraffiti

However the wet version was excellent.

I added some acrylic matte medium to the top layer of acrylic to make it thicker. And worked with the non-brush end of a brush.

Over the wet sgraffiti, once it had dried, I also experimented in some areas with another colour on top, applied in various ways:

Wet Sgraffiti

I can see how this will have fabulous applications but I'd really like to get the dry sgraffito to work too.

Here is the first experiment of black gesso over wax crayons:

Experimenting with Sgraffito

The two smallest tipped metal tools (sold for embossing I think) were the most successful. The gesso was hard to apply in even, single, thick coat ( I do normally use it thinly and multi-coat... here I was hoping to find a technique that wouldn't require too many coats!)

The next is black gouache over wax crayons - I added a little drop of washing up liquid to help the gouache cover the wax.

Experimenting with Sgraffito - Black Gouche over Wax

The gouache took MUCH longer to dry than the gesso - otherwise the results are similar, though the pointy wooden tool (top) worked much better in the gouache than in the gesso.

Both of these were more satisfactory than my first attempt at dry sgraffito.

The next set of experiments were all total failures! I used acrylic followed by PVA then one of these: Gesso, Gouache, Acrylic + Matte Medium (50:50 approx), Black ink. Then I used the same things over a piece with acrylic followed by a thick layer of polymer gloss medium. It was possible to peel and hack but not in a controlled way and mostly taking off layers of paper. I also tried black ink over Caran d'ache Neocolor II with no luck.

So far then the only success has been with paint over cheap wax crayons...

I've read about working on clayboard so maybe the solution is a very soft, thick layer of something under a thin, scratchable top coat.

Anyone have any other suggestions?