Monday, 19 March 2018

Set the Stage for your Tags and ATCs! - by Claudia

Hi, servus and welcome to the Calico Craft Parts Blog today!
Claudia here to bring you a new project for your inspiration.

I have recently re-recovered my love for small formats - especially ATCs. Actually I don't know why I had almost forgotten how much I love this special tiny format - you can do so much on them (like on this ATC HERE or this ATC set HERE) and for me they totally stand up to a canvas or any other larger format! So I was very excited when I found that Helen had added some awesome ATC storage and display boxes to the store!

I immediately knew I had to alter one of these, so I would finally have a proper ATC storage and display stand for my studio desk!

But of course I have to show you the empty storage box ('cos this isn't about the ATCs I've made) , so you can see how it works. There's a larger compartment in the back for storing ATC and tag blanks and a thinner one in the front for displaying up to 3 ATCs side by side. These are held in place by a thin bar, that divides the two compartments at the same time. There are display kits for only one, two or three ATCs in the store! Just click HERE to check them out.

Calico Craft Parts used:

- Birch Ply & MDF ATC/Tag Display Boxes

I would like to encourage you to pick your very own colours (and/or style) for your display box so it matches the colours and styles of your ATCs and tags. Maybe browse your tags and ATCs to find out which are the colours and patterns you use most. 

It isn't that important to make the display visually match your ATC and tag art, because once the ATCs and tags are put into the box, they will cover up most of the design of the box anyway, but the outsides and some areas from the inside still will be visible (the more the less you put into the display box) and you don't want to have the "wrong colours" from the box make your little works of art look misplaced or contrast them in a disturbing way.

These are the pieces of the display box...

...and I have started altering mine by applying a thin coat of DecoArt Chalky Finish Paint "rustic" to both sides of each piece. As the paint dries really fast, there's almost no drying time. So this was done really quick (using a soft wide flat brush). 

Then I picked the DecoArt Americana "Classic Quatrefoil" stencil and Cobalt Teal Hue Americana premium paint for my next layer. I placed the stencil onto the MDF pieces, then I brushed the acrylic paint onto a piece of cardstock. After that I quickly placed the painted cardstock upside down on top of the stencil and rubbed with my hand (like I would do using a gel printing plate. Only that part of the paint gets transferred to the MDF this time and not the other way round).  

After I had covered the inner sides of the box pieces this way, I brushed more DecoArt Americana premium paints (first Diarylide Yellow and after that Titan Buff) onto cardstock using a flat bristle brush. This time I placed the painted cardstock directly onto the MDF pieces and rubbed to transfer the paint. If you use a worn bristle brush you will get lovely streaks from the brushed on paints being  transferred to your piece! This effect can be created especially well with the DecoArt Americana premium paints as they are quite smooth and liquid - so the brush strokes on the paper keep their texture from the different lengths of the brush's bristles. 

Build up more layers as you go. I added Vermillion Hue premium paint to my layers mix. Some of the paints I brushed onto still wet left over paint from the previous layer - so I got even more colours as they mixed directly on the cardstock (for example the Diarylide Yellow on top of Cobalt Teal Hue - which gave a beautiful green). The slight transparency of the premium paints add to this look beautifully! 

I also made sure I moved my painted cardboard sheets each time I added a new layer, so I got different directions of the scratchy pattern from the brush strokes on my pieces. 

Next I took a fine tip palette knife and scraped on some premium Titan Buff here and there.

As I also wanted to make my display box match this tag sample box HERE, I added Americana Chalky Finish paints "treasure" and "heritage" with the palette knife too. 

The final layer of paint was added by sprinkling on some Diarylide Yellow premium paint with a splatter brush. 

Time to add some texture by stamping in black archival ink. I went for some circles and a bit of text - but only partially stamped on the images for a worn look. 

Then I was ready to assemble the display box! Matte DecoArt Decou-Page (as always) did the job perfectly (I love the short drying time!). 

I needed to slightly sand the ends of the thin bar (that holds the ATCs in place) so I could insert it into the openings in the sides (as I had painted over the ends so they got a bit too thick). 

I thought that the painted box was a bit too "noisy" for my liking, so I created a glaze by mixing DecoArt Americana premium Gloss Medium with some drops of DecoArt media fluid acrylic Raw Umber to tone down the outside of the box. 

Here's the inside of the box - still untreated so you can see the difference: 

I thinned the glaze with water to just slightly tone down the inside as well. 

Et voilá!

From the side...

...and from the back:

And some detail shots of course:

I hope you like my ATC display box and I can't wait to see your designs on this kit - and of course also the other fab display box kits from Calico Craft Parts!

Hugs and happy crafting!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies by Lesley

Hey people.....Lesley here!

You may have noticed that Helen has gone large AND very small with a new release of wooden tags!
The tiny ones are beyond cute! And the larger ones are super versatile! I have created a mixed media version for you using some mini butterflies.

I didn't bother using any gesso on the tag......just dove straight in with my paint! I used a brayer to apply the paint, drying the layers inbetween so the colours didn't muddy.

I then used white paint and a butterfly stencil from my stash.

Lots of layers were added including stamping, dripping of paint, and a few bits of washi tape.......

I used a sponge to apply two different shades of blue to the little butterflies.

Finally, i added ribbon to the top of the tag.

Best thing about these huge tags can chuck pretty much anything at them.....and they take it!

Thanks for reading,

Ingredients used

Mini MDF butterflies, style 6
MDF tag shape, rounded rectangle

Monday, 12 March 2018

Queen among Cats by Julie Ann

We've just emerged from a bitterly cold spell here in the UK. After several days of white and grey and slippery streets, I curled up with a big pile of art books to brighten my evening with vivid colours and rich symbolism. I was drawn to Elizabethan art during our recent 'cold snap' because I recall that winters during the reign of Elizabeth and her son, James were pretty bleak and there were even times when the River Thames froze over, and 'Frost Fairs' covered the frozen waters with stalls and entertainments. I also noticed that Calico had introduced a beautiful, boat kit - could I combine Elizabethan portraits and Calico art kits in some way?

The answer came in this magnificent 1592 portrait of Queen Elizabeth 1 from The National Portrait Gallery in London, known as the Ditchley portrait. Elizabeth is shown as a powerful but forgiving monarch. The original painting was commissioned by Sir Henry Lee and painted by Marcus Geeraerts the Younger. Researching the symbolism behind the portrait, I discovered that Sir Henry had been a supporter of the Queen, but he had retired from court due to her disapproval at his living openly with his mistress!

What if, I wondered, another courtier commissioned a miniature art piece at that time, one that could be held in her Majesty's hand?

 And what if that little piece of art was commissioned by the Queen's favourite but little known lady-in-waiting - Caterina?

This likeness of the Queen's feline companion is enshrined in a tiny wooden dinghy, symbolising Caterina's hazardous journeys of discovery when she was ship's cat on The Golden Hind.

Caterina was created by collaging my art work of her head onto Geerhaert's beautiful painting, minus the Queen's head (hope that isn't treason!) The body - with its new head - was fixed to strong card stock and I added colour and outlines with fineliner in places to enhance the art work further.

I loved how, in the original, Elizabeth stood on a globe with her feet on Oxfordshire. Taking the base from the boat kit, I used a scrap of vintage map paper with a galleon on it to symbolise Caterina's voyages - when she had the whole world at her paws.

As with all Calico craft parts, the boat kit will take all manner of altering. I had great fun playing with collage, mark making, stamping and painting Caterina's background. This would mostly be obscured when she was enshrined, but it was fun to create!

Now I reversed some Calico Scrabble tiles and covered them with scraps of map paper. These were to decorate the sides of the dinghy.

I used masking tape so that the little tabs designed to slot into the base of the boat would not become clogged with paint and crackle. This also helped to create an aged effect when the tape was torn away.

Here you can see the worn effect when the tape has been removed, the side panels have had some stamping and been slotted in and the map tiles have been added.

You might be able to see that I added some Elizabethan style script stamping on the underside of the panels too.

 A scrap of gauze fixed with fluid gel medium, creates the idea of waves lapping around Caterina's tiny paws. I fixed her to the back of the shrine with a large wooden bead so that she would not be too far back. I hope you have enjoyed meeting Caterina today. The Calico Boat and Oars Kit comes with oars, which I haven't used on this project, but I'm sure you can think of many ways in which they could be utilised. I have other plans for this versatile kit in the future, so please watch this space! Have a lovely, creative day wherever you are and whatever you may be doing.
Calico Craft Parts Used
MDF Boat and Oars Kit
Sheet of MDF Scrabble tiles

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Rosebud Birthday Card by Jennie

Hello and welcome to my first project this month.  I cannot believe that we are already into March! but I am loving the longer evenings and the chance to start a little bit of tidying in the garden. And of course longing for those lovely summer days to come.

With summer in mind I am sharing a simple card project today. This glorious Rosebud Flower Stem has been calling me for a while and I thought it deserved some special treatment but a simple background.

I am not a great painter and so my "daubings" are a bit hit and miss! For the leaves I used a light green paint underneath and then daubed some darker on top. Again with the stem, I started with the light green but added a watery brown so it retained the delicate feel.

I then used a Decoupage crackle glaze over the top and this had the effect of bringing in some of the brown from the MDF  which I really loved.

In fact you can see that better here on the Rose Head which was painted in white but this wonderful brown vintage effect came through as I added the glaze.

I have done nothing more than layered the rose onto some old book paper and a piece of green cardstock which I had stamped on with a rather nondescript stamp. I then layered it all onto some cream cardstock which formed the base card. As I thought this would make a lovely birthday card for a special friend (who loves the colour green!) I added a small label.

And as they say ..... that was that ! The Rose is so beautifully detailed it really doesn't need much more to set it off.

As always thank you for joining me today and happy crafting!

Jennie x

Calico Craft Parts used:

Monday, 5 March 2018

Winter has Returned to the Parks of Castle Schönbrunn! - by Claudia

By the time you are reading this post, the lovely snow may already be gone again, but now - as I am preparing this post (which is on February 20) - it has returned to Vienna and has gently been falling throughout the whole day, covering the fields and parks in white (just when I had already started thinking on putting away the warm boots and winter coats until next year ;)

We don't have a lot of snow over here in Vienna (and I found I really miss it), so I was happy about the sudden return of "hiver" (which is French for "winter" and explained as "the coldest season of the year" in my old Petit LaRousse dictionary) and also inspired to create these two ATCs (click onto images for a larger view):

I love the first one, because the songbird wood shape is just so adorable, but the second is my personal favourite. 
In the parks of Castle Schönbrunn there are long, long pathways with loads of hedges crowded with sparrows, waiting for visitors to spread some dry bread or sunflower seeds they've brought, but what I love even more are the many squirrels that wait for peanuts and other treats - they even come and pick them from your hands if you hold still enough. The Viennese like to call them "Hansi" (which is German for "Johnny"). Don't ask me why. Especially older people often pick that name to call the squirrels (or also swans on lakes). 
So there are (even three!) Hansis and my special friend, Mr. Hedgehog, on my ATC, all being surprised by the sudden snowfall. 

There are a lot of gorgeous squirrel wood shapes in the Calico Craft Parts shop, but I especially fell in love with the ATC wood blank with the Squirrel and Hedgehog Frame
and the cute squirrels on a branch

Calico Craft Parts used on both ATCs:

This is how the ATCs were done:

I started with dry brushing DecoArt Americana Chalky Finish paint "primitive" onto all the parts I wanted to use. The Chalky Finish paints can be applied very evenly and provide great coverage and tooth for painting or stamping onto it. They dry to a matte finish, which is something I especially like about them. Dry brusing (instead of brushing on) is necessary so none of the beautiful and fine detail on the Craft Shapes get lost! 

I used crackle and scratch stamps and dark brown archival stamping ink to add a bit of texture.

Then I scraped on tiny amounts of DecoArt media Titan Buff. That was followed by a mix of Titan Buff and Burnt Sienna.

Translucent White was used to scrape on the top layer.

I did the same with the Craft Shapes and the ATC frame.

Once all had dried, I painted a tree (well, part of a tree) in Burnt Sienna...

and also added touches of it to the squirrels, the hedgehog and the songbirds.

The landscape on the other ATC was painted using Translucent White and Burnt Sienna.

Using a splatter brush and diluted DecoArt premium Titanium White, I created the falling snow.

The left over Titanium White was brushed onto the top sides of the branches, the leaves and the ATC frame to add more snow.

Both ATCs were sealed with DecoArt media Gloss Varnish. I also used the varnish to directly glue the songbird wood shape and label holder onto the ATC (by simply placing them into the still wet varnish).
The ATC frame and squirrel wood shapes were glued on using DecoArt matte Decou-Page.

The cut out "winter" definitions from the French dictionary were glued in place using the Gloss Varnish and a soft brush.

To finish off my ATCs I added touches of DecoArt Gold Rush Metallic Lustre using my fingertip. I applied it around the ATC frame and edges and on top of the songbirds and other animals.


And once again I was amazed by how much media and content can be put onto such a small format!
Here are some close ups:

 I hope you like my little winter flashback! 

Hugs and happy crafting!