Monday, 11 November 2019

See the World - by Claudia

Hi, servus and welcome back to our creative little corner here!

I guess you all know by now how much I love autumn (even if it is the hardest time of the year for me when it comes to health issues...but the beauty of this season always makes up for this) - and I do not only love the rich colours of mid-autumn, when there is this explosion of warm reds, oranges and browns, but also that time when the colour palette gets more reduced to warm greys, matte browns and last traces of faded yellowed whites and light greys.

I think what I love about it is that there is less and more subtle contrast and you have to look closer and rather have to distinguish objects by their textures and patterns than by their colours. I tried to capture that in this little "beer mat make" (and it was quite a challenge, but using paint washes always helps with tweaking lightly until you are finally there and have nailed it).

I have used this fabric already in one of my Halloween themed makes over here (which you can check out HERE) and loved that so much that I used it again - this time to kind of form the forest ground with loads of fallen pine needles, little dried twigs, grasses and other forest ground texture.
It was a find in the Halloween decorations section of a dollar store, but I can see it be used for so much more...

Calico Craft Parts used: 

- Square MDF Beer Mat
- Flat Cap Mushroom -  MDF Wood Shape
- Sheet of Mini Insects - MDF Wood Shapes Style 1
- Sheet of Mini Insects - MDF Wood Shapes Style 3
- Sheet of Mini MDF Acorns & Oakleaves

I started with priming all the MDF wood shapes with a layer of DecoArt Americana Chalky Finish paint "primitive". I painted the flat shapes that had no engraved patterns and dry brushed the engraved ones so no detail got lost. I used the Flat Cap Mushroom shape flipped over - without the engraved patterns so it matched the rather "flat" design of the background I had in mind.

Then I painted the forest background using Chalky Finish paint "relic" which is a beautiful dark grey.
I kind of painted in watercolour technique - using very light washes, starting with the lightest wash and working my way towards slightly darker washes (=with less water added to the paint).

I watered down the paint on my palette and started with the trees that were farthest away and almost fading in the foggy forest background...

...and ended with the layer that is closest to the spectator and the darkest in the foreground.

I have taken images of the single layers being added so you can see how it all developed:

Don't think too much about which tree should go where when adding the layers, just work each layer on top of the other as if the layers before weren't there - this leads to the most natural looking results!

Then I put the painted and dried beer mat into my spray box and added sprinkles of diluted DecoArt media Translucent White and Burnt Umber fluid acrylics using a loaded brush and tipping it with my index finger.

I painted the mushroom using DecoArt media fluid acrylic paints Burnt Umber, Translucent White, Paynes Grey and Titan Buff.

I worked wet on wet to create blends and shading.

Then I sprinkled some Burnt Umber dots on the cap, dried these with my heat tool and added white highlights and dark shades with a very fine detail brush (using Translucent White and Carbon Black media fluid acrylics).

Once that had dried I added a thin wash of Burnt Umber on top.

The acorn was done the same way (just without the dots of course) and I painted it very dark as it is already dried out and has started to rot on the forest ground at that time of the year. To highlight the laser engraved texture on the acorn's cap I dry brushed that with a mix of Titan Buff and a little Paynes Grey. The little spider and the earwig were painted and shaded too using the same colours.

I added a generous coat of DecoArt Triple Thick to the earwig and used the left overs on my palette to add thin layers to the mushroom and the acorn (but I left the acorn's cap untreated). 

Time to glue the mushroom and the other bits in place (with matte DecoArt Decou-Page). In the picture below you can see the back of the acorn to which I have glued a left over scrap from some Calico Craft Parts Mini Craft Shapes. I always keep these left overs because they are perfect for layering the pieces and do not dry out or warp over time as sticky foam pads tend to do.

The spider got two large dots of DecoArt media Liquid Glass once it had been glued in place.

The acorn was glued on top of a layer of heavily frayed fabric (a kind of "mummy cloth" from the Halloween section of a dollar store) and I added a bit of watered down Burnt Umber to the fabric here and there once the glue had dried.

Then I found I needed more texture on my forest ground and the mushroom, so I quite thinly scraped white DecoArt media Crackle Paint onto some spots using the very tip of my palette knife. I sped up the crackle process by putting my beer mat project under the warmth of my desk light bulb.

Once that had dried it was time to go in with some washes!
I used a heavily watered down mix of Burnt Umber and Transparent Yellow Iron Oxide fluid acrylics and added that to the crackled areas and an even thinner wash of that to the mushroom.

I was still not content with that as it still lacked some texture from a different "kind of forest ground". Some Irish Moss here and there was the perfect addition!

Now I only didn't like that the mushroom and the forest looked too same-ish (colour-wise), so I decided to be brave and add a VERY light wash of a contrasting colour to the background - Prussian Blue Hue became the colour of my choice as it is a "cold" blue that rather tends towards green instead of purple - so the best fit for a forest themed project!

The wash seems as if it is really almost not there - but it makes a huge difference!!! It's maybe one single drop of paint diluted with three to four brush loads of water on the palette! But it was exactly what my forest background had needed to be turned into a cold, foggy November forest.

To finish off my project I added a word sticker and shaded the beer mat's edges with black archival stamping ink using a piece of blending foam. 

Some detail shots: 

...and once more the finished beer mat. 

Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you again in two weeks! 

Hugs and happy crafting!


  1. Absolut zauberhaft, ich liebe jedes so scheinbar zufällige und doch perfekte Detail, eine wahrhaft mystische Herbstinterpretation auf einem simplen Bierdeckel!! LG Kerstin xx

    1. Herzlichen Dank, liebe Kerstin, für dein schönes Lob! Das freut mich sehr!

      Claudia xxx

  2. What I really love about Autumn are the subtle shades, the textures and the fungi! This is such a beautiful make, Claudia. xx