Monday, 17 October 2016

Bids, Please! - by Claudia

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to our annual Halloween auction of the rare and the bizarre!

Today we are presenting an exquisite selection of rare magical and mystical antiques and our first item is this very old handmade "portable potions tome" from the early 18th century.
Opening bid are 160 GBP.

These book shaped potions boxes were quite common in the early 18th to the late 19th century and ranged from plain models for the small purse to real exquisite and elaborate ones for the renowned and wealthy witches. The style of the tome you are bidding on today indicates possession by a better-off middle-class witch.

Portable potions tomes were never signed - neither by the manufacturers nor by their owners - mainly due to fear of prosecution. They usually held a witch's most favourite potions and poisons to turn to and the content of this particular tome shows that it must have been in good use and so up until the late eightteenhundreds.

Preferably the tomes were done in plaque or tombstone shape and that gladly makes assigning them to specific manufactories quite easy.
This piece was made by the manufactory of the French twin sisters Blaire and Marie Malfaisant, who quite successfully overtook and ran the business from a long line of ancestors that can be dated back to the fifteenth century. The manufactory was located in Somnamblis, a village located south of the Ardennes. The region has always been known for its beautiful and huge oak trees so the manufactory's emblem shows two oak leaves flanking an acorn below three potions bottles in varying shapes.

The fainted green on the leaves tells that this specific tome has been made in the early half of the eightteenth century. From 1743 on these were done in an autumnal red which was retained until the manufactory's decline in the 1890s.

Witches used to customize their tomes by attaching charms and spells to the spine. Paper beads rolled from handwritten or typed protective spells were quite common, as well as twigs or roots from trees under which witches loved to have their gatherings. Driftwood was more common in regions that were known for healing wells. Each witch had her special healing stone - in this case it is a piece of amber. These stones could be touched or licked to release their healing power and helped with many different light states of indisposition.

Considering its age the item is in excellent condition. The flasks' and capsules' contents have dried out, but traces of poison hemlock, dried toadstool, pricklyburr tincture, nutmeg liniment, mandrake tonic and holly ointment could still be detected by our chemists.

These were all quite common and indicate that the last owner of this tome, Portia Primwick, was mainly into healing witchcraft for the wealthy customer. The Primwicks' line of ancestry in witchcraft is well documented and can be accessed in the library of the Town Museum of North Hogthrompton, where serveral generations of Primwicks had lived and been highly appreciated townspeople.

The portable potions tome had originally belonged to Portia's great-grandmother and was by tradition passed on from mother to daughter.
The cover shows traces of intense use, but is still intact, which proves the high quality of the materials used by the Malfaisants and their manufacturers' high level skills.

Leather strips and fabric on the book's spine still are the originals as are the label and the box with the laquer sealed lid. The craquelure is a typical sign of age and not of damage.

You are bidding on an item that was produced in a limited edition of twenty pieces only!!!
Ladies and gentlemen, we are awaiting your bids! 


Calico Craft Parts used: 

- Shaped Profile Greyboard Mixed Media Board - Style 17 
- Shaped ATC Wood Blank with Flourish Cut Out Frame
- Skull MDF Wood Shape
- Sheet of Mini MDF Label Holders Wood Shapes
- Sheet of Mini MDF Wood Apothecary Bottles
- Sheet of Mini MDF Acorns and Oak Leaves

And for those who managed to stay with me this far a very short how-to:

Cut the greyboard mixed media bord into three pieces to form the book's spine and covers. Cover with crumpled tissue paper on the outsides and designer paper on the insides. Dry brush with white DecoArt Gesso to tone it all down.

Use some wide fabric ribbon and heavy glue (like matte DecoArt Decou-Page) to fuse covers and spine. Leave a gap of about 3 to 4 mm between the parts. Once that has dried go in with different distress inks, spray inks, washes of DecoArt media fluid acrylic paints and some dry brushing with darker browns to add colour and depth to the crumpled covers.

Use DecoArt media white crackle paint, DecoArt media antiquing creams, spray stains, acrylic washes, inks, create the skull ATC plaque and to build up crackle and an aged look.

Use your favourite Halloween stamps to decorate your portable potions tome. Add splatters. Fix some old ribbon to front and back cover using a piece of fabric and DecoArt matte Decou-Page.

To create the label stamp a word, glue behind the label and seal with a layer of DecoArt Liquid Glass. Let air dry!

For the aged look on the cover and MDF parts add crackle paint and/or glaze by scraping it on with a palette knife. Tint with washes of DecoArt media acrylic paint and/or antiquing creams afterwards.

Once all is dry, use some matte spray varnish to prevent the inks from being reactivated by humidity or any liquids. Let dry.

Fill a cardboard box with small vials and/or bottles. If needed tone these in with alcohol inks for a stained and aged look. Glue the box to the inside of the back cover.

Decorate the box lid: glue on designer paper or stamped image. Seal with matte Decou-Page. Add DecoArt media clear Crackle Glaze. Let dry naturally. Then highlight cracks with black Antiquing Cream. You're done!

Thank you for stopping by today and for reading this far! I hope you have enjoyed your visit!
Have a lot of fun crafting for Halloween! Check out Calico Craft Parts' shop - there are loads of awesome Halloween craft parts to find!

Hugs and happy Halloween crafting!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Big Bird Canvas by Lesley

Hey people.

So.......a good friend of mine came over last week, and after sorting through some of my crafty makes, she informed me that my work always had the same colour palette. Cheeky cow.

Although i had to agree with her a tiny bit. So, to prove to her i can do different colours............i've gone completely different this week! No black (well, a tiny amount) and no rust!

I started out with a small box canvas and  I primed this with gesso.

Using spray inks, paint and water.........i gradually built up layers of colour until i was happy with the coverage.

I then added a couple of layers of different stamps, not forgetting around the edge of the canvas.

Finally, using a lid from a paint pot, i added white circles and then flicked black, blue and silver ink.

The bird is one of the large mdf ravens. I painted him white and then added a layer of crackle glaze. Once dry, i added some grey antiquing cream.

The fluffy white feathers were glued down along with a black enameled nail head for an eye.

To finish, i added the mini plaques (a staple fave of mine) with the words "big bird" stamped onto them.

Cheers for reading.


Ingredients used
Raven mdf bird shape
Notched rectangle wooden mini plaque

Monday, 10 October 2016

Catrina and her Beau - Day of the Dead ornament by Julie Ann

The leaves have turned to red and gold and the autumn is well and truly here in the UK. Soon Jack O'Lantern pumpkins will be appearing in windows and the scent of wood smoke will be wafting through the twilight air. Calico Craft Parts have some fantastic Halloween and Autumn themed products on offer to prepare you for when the Trick-or-Treaters come to call so do check them out! I've always been fascinated by the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday, which takes place around Halloween time too. As we move into October, I decided to create an ornament to celebrate this tradition.

My 'Skellie' couple, Catrina and her beau, dangle beside Frida and a little tin ex-voto heart on my Day of the Dead branches.

For this project, I mixed and matched my Calico parts! I used sharp crafting scissors to snip a couple of mini skeletons styles 1 and 2, so that I could combine the different arm positions. I also wanted to fashion a cobweb into a stylish hat for Catrina. The front of a house shrine kit would provide a frame for my aristocratic couple.

Now it was time to play around with positioning my 'skellies'. The large skulls with the tiny bodies gave the caricature look I was seeking. What I love about the Mexican Day of the Dead shrines and ornaments is their wonderful characterisation. I wanted to make my couple unique and fun. The Calico skeletons are already expressive, but with a little playing, the addition of quirky detail and some hand-drawn eyes, I reckoned I could create something that evoked the exuberance and humour of Dia de Muertos. I really hope I did.

It's said that 'the eyes are the windows of the soul', so I used pigment pens and water-colour to give Catrina a sultry look and her beau a cheeky wink! For Catrina's torso, I chose a mini art doll body with some designer paper and a scrap of lace to add elegance. The front of the shrine has been gesso'd and stenciled with some 3D Gloss Gel.

I painted both sides of the eyes so that when my ornament turned in a draught, the back would be as interesting and expressive to look at as the front - that was my plan, anyway!

I wanted the reverse side of my 'skellie' couple to appear to be wearing masks, while the other side appeared to have eyes gleaming within.

Here is the early plan for the reverse of my couple. I stuck some black lace to the Spider's web with Heavy Gel Medium and accented it with blobs of pearl pen to create Catrina's hat.

And here's an early arrangement of them from the front. I had lots of fun playing with alternative placings before I finally decided on a pose!

Eventually, I came up with this! My couple were now glued into place; their faces doodled in pigment pen and their shrine frame painted and gilded with a tiny hole drilled in the top so that they could dangle. They just needed some final detail to make them come fully alive!

Catrina's regal beau with his golden crown definitely needed to be holding something! While Catrina herself looked as if she was reaching to pluck another red paper-clay rose to add to that one on her hat!

What a handsome couple! I hope you can see the tobacco pipe from the sheet of Mini MDF Steam Punk Motifs King Skellie holds against the purple background. It is more visible when he's dangling,,,

Here is a glimpse of the couple as they dance off into the moonlight together to the tune of Danse Macabre!

What I like about both Halloween and The Day of the Dead is that these holidays encourage us to dance in the shadows, to confront our fears or our sense of loss as summer slips into winter. This is a season when we can remember those who have gone before us with joy, thanks and humour before we look forward to Christmas festivities. I've had so much fun creating this ornament. It reminds me of the fun and laughter at the Halloween parties when our children were young. Soon I'll be listening out for the sound of giggles and rustlings at my front door as another troupe of tiny skeletons, werewolves and witches with Mums and Dads in tow come calling.

Calico Craft Parts used in this project
Skull MDF Wood Shape
Skeleton MDF Wood Shape Style 1
Skeleton MDF Wood Shape Style 2
Sheet of MDF Crowns Style 3
Plain MDF House Shrine Kit tall
Sheet of MDF mini feathers
Art Doll Kit small
 Spider's web corner
Sheet of Steam Punk motifs Style 1

Monday, 3 October 2016

It's Spooky! - by Claudia

Servus! Claudia here today and I am so happy that you stopped by to take a look!

It's time to get a little spooky when it comes to crafting as Halloween is fast approaching. So this time I am sharing with you a "Spooky" Halloween shadowframe - well, it rather is a "shadow-board" to be precise as I used one of Calico Craft Parts' wonderful shaped greyboard mixed media boards and layered pieces on top of each other.

Calico Craft Parts used:

- Shaped Profile Greyboard Mixed Media Board - Style 1 - 200mm x 140mm
- Raven MDF Wood Bird Shape - medium
- Spooky - Halloween MDF Wood Word - medium
- Art Deco MDF Ornament Wood Shape - Style 2 -  small
- Grim Reaper Border Scene MDF Wood Shape - X-large
- Skeleton Tree MDF Wood Shape - Style 2 - medium
- Gravestone Croos MDF Wood Shape - Style 2 - small
- Sheet of Mini MDF Wood Birds - Crows & Ravens
- Flying Bat Colony MDF Wood Shapes

...and of course there is a detailed step by step for you to follow!

So let's get 

1. Arrange the Calico Craft Parts until content. (maybe take a picture to help remember your design later when it's time for assembly ;)

2. Apply DecoArt media black Gesso to the Craft Parts (but not to the greyboard). 

Water the Gesso down a bit before applying it to parts with finer details so you don't loose any.

3.  Apply DecoArt media black Modeling Paste to the skeleton tree, gravestone and raven 
using a palette knife. 
Create a lot of texture by using the tip of the palette knife 
to indicate bark, rough stone and feathers. 

Let air dry.

4. In the meantime use DecoArt matte Decou-page to adhere some designer paper to the greyboard. Then seal it with DecoArt media Matte Medium. Once that has dried randomly scrape on some DecoArt media clear Crackle Glaze using the palette knife again. Let air dry.

5.  While the Crackle Glaze dries, paint the "Spooky" word with DecoArt Americana "Primary Red" (apply two coats).

Once the paint is dry cover everything with DecoArt media Liquid Glass.
Set aside to let it dry naturally.

6. Mix DecoArt Americana Navy Blue, Charcoal Grey and Bleached Sand to dry brush the Calico Craft Parts that have been coated with the black Gesso and/or Modelling Paste. Start with a darker tone and work your way through several layers - each lighter than the one before. 

This way the textures created before become visible.

7.  Apply several washes of DecoArt media Sap Green and Prussian Blue Hue to the shaped greyboard panel. This will leave some of the design visible but also seep into the crevices from the clear Crackle Glaze so they become visible too. 
If the result looks too bright add some more washes with a mix of Paynes Grey and Sap Green. 

8. Paint a glowing full moon using a mix of DecoArt media Translucent White and Hansa Yellow Light. Water down towards the outer edges while the paint is still wet. 

9. Use the same mix to add some more dry brushing to all the pieces. 

As you can see the dry brushing even highlights the brushstrokes from the black Gesso. 
So if you keep this in mind when applying the Gesso, you can already "build" texture for the bats' wings for example.

10.  Create two more pieces of painted designer paper - one strip for the front piece and a little "hill" for the gravestone to sit upon. These will be layered using sticky foam pads.

11. Use DecoArt matte Decou-page to assemble all the pieces of your 
spooky mixed media shadow-board. 

Add dots of Liquid Glass to the bats' eyes and the bloody tip of the reaper's scythe 
to make the red pop.

12. Stamp a Halloween quote onto tissue paper using black archival stamping ink, fussy cut and decou-page it to the gravestone. 


You're done!

I hope you are having as much fun as I am crafting for Halloween! 
There is a wide range of different fab Calico Craft Parts to use for this fun spooky time of the year!!!
I am so looking forward to browse all your blogs to see your spooky goodness! 

Hugs and happy crafting!