Books by my Favourite Mixed-Media Artists

 

As a book lover and a crafter, I have quite a large collection of art and craft books on my bookshelves. I love browsing through them. Each one provides me with inspiration for my own craft projects, as well as teaching me new techniques. These are a few books by my favourite mixed-media artists.

Mixed-Media Girls with Suzi Blu: Drawing, Painting, and Fanciful Adornments From Start to Finish

Mixed-Media Girls

www.suzibluart.com

Suzi Blu was the first mixed-media artist I ever discovered. I fell in love with her charming mixed-media girls and her gypsy boho style of art. When her book came out I immediately bought it, keen to learn her techniques and to see more of her lovely creations. It was her book that provided inspiration for my first foray into the world of mixed-media art. She also introduced me to the wonderful world of art journaling. I took one of her art journaling courses and discovered a whole new way of expressing myself creatively. She has many videos on YouTube and offers lots of courses on her website.

Mixed-Media Girls with Suzi Blu includes instructions for drawing and shading a pretty face and folk art body, lots of step by step projects, and a gallery of artwork by her students. It also comes with a bonus DVD on which Suzi guides you through drawing, painting, and finishing one of her mixed-media girls, presented in her fun, quirky style.

Creative Girl: Mixed Media Techniques for an Artful Life by Danielle Donaldson

Creative Girl

danielledonaldson.com

This is the book that began my love of watercolour painting. Danielle Donaldson paints lovely whimsical watercolour illustrations and her distinctive style of art includes a range of mixed-media elements. Her book teaches basic watercolour techniques and fun ways to incorporate mixed-media elements such as stitching, collage, and layering, into your projects to tell visual stories. At the back of the book there is a small gallery of some of Danielle’s work.

Collage Couture: Techniques for Creating Fashionable Art by Julie Nutting

Collage Couture

julienuttingdesigns.blogspot.com

As a young child I loved playing with paper dolls and was so excited whenever I received a new one for my birthday or Christmas. I would spend hours cutting out the clothes, folding the paper tabs over the cardboard dolls, and making up stories for them to act out. I still have all of the paper dolls from my childhood and take them out every now and then when I am feeling nostalgic! Naturally I was thrilled to discover Julie Nutting’s two books, Collage Couture: Techniques  for Creating Fashionable Art, and Collage Couture Studio Paper Dolls. It was a chance for me to rediscover those magical childhood memories, and to combine two of my favourite things, paper dolls and pretty scrapbook papers.

Collage Couture: Techniques for Creating Fashionable Art teaches you how to sketch fashion figures and create stylish dresses  from patterned papers, and it has step-by-step projects for creating mixed-media backgrounds for the dolls. Great fun!

Collage Couture Studio Paper Dolls: Design, Collage, Cut & Play by Julie Nutting

Collage Couture Studio Paper Dolls

Collage Couture Studio Paper Dolls has five paper dolls from around the world, each with their own little story and a page of clothes in their own style, which can be photocopied or scanned and cut out.  There is also a template for designing your own paper doll, and step-by-step projects for building mixed-media backgrounds and settings for the dolls.

Taking Flight: Inspiration & Techniques to give your Creative Spirit Wings
by Kelly Rae Roberts

Taking Flight: Inspiration & Techniques to Give Your Creative Spirit Wings

www.kellyraeroberts.com

It was through this book that I first discovered Kelly Rae Roberts. In Taking Flight, Kelly Rae shares her personal journey towards becoming a full-time artist and inspires you to rediscover your dreams and live a more creative life. She shows you through step-by-step projects how to create mixed-media backgrounds, using collage and other techniques, and how to draw and paint faces. As well as teaching through her own recognizable style, the book also includes techniques from contributing artists, which Kelly Rae incorporates into her projects. At the end of each chapter is an interview with the contributing artist.

Layered, Tattered & Stitched: A Fabric Art Workshop by Ruth Rae

Layered, Tattered & Stitched: A Fabric Art Workshop

ruthrae.blogspot.com

As well as having a love of scrapbook papers and embellishments, I also adore fabrics, lace, beads and buttons. This book indulges my love of all those things. Layered, tattered & Stitched: A Fabric Art Workshop by Ruth Rae is full of inspiring small projects with step-by-step instructions for making fabric cards, books, journals and albums, art dolls, wall art, and much, much more. The book explores a range of sewing techniques combined with collage, photo transfers, dyeing and staining fabric, using wire, and more. At the back of the book there are pattern templates for some of the projects. A lovely book for anyone interested in fabric art.

In my studio

My small studio in our garden warms quickly once the sun comes out and it is a pleasure to go out there on these cold winter days and lose myself in creative bliss.

I painted a couple more watercolour flowers for my garden journal, but after a few days my flower a day project gave way to some mixed-media painting on canvases. I will definitely be painting more watercolour flowers in the spring when our garden starts blooming with the seeds we saved and planted from last year – poppies, larkspur, snapdragons and foxgloves.

cornflowers

busy lizzies

Although I enjoy trying new things, I always seem to return to mixed-media. I just love being able to combine all my favourite things – paints and inks and scrapbook papers and fibres and fabrics and embellishments and collage and texture – together in one piece.

butterfly

Last weekend I went to a local fair where crafters were selling their unwanted supplies at bargain prices. I got some lovely fabrics, fibres, tapes, a broken string of beads and a mini kraft album, all for next to nothing. I think the fair was a great idea to give crafters a chance to have a clear out of their stash. One man’s trash is definitely another man’s treasure!

This month I signed up for Kelly Rae Unscripted with Kelly Rae Roberts. It is weekly painting videos of Kelly Rae painting in her studio. Each video is between one and three hours long and is unedited, showing her painting process from beginning to end as she creates a new mixed-media piece each week. She has a wonderful studio space in an old repurposed high school in Portland, Oregon. Sometimes she has her English bulldog, Lulu Butter Butter Bean, in the studio with her, and sometimes she has a guest painting alongside her. The videos are fun to watch. I am learning a lot of different techniques and getting loads of inspiration. Click here to learn more about Kelly Rae Unscripted, and here for Kelly Rae’s website.

Kelly Rae Roberts

For those of you who are wondering about my next book, there is also lots of writing going on. An update about that soon.

A Flower a Day

While it is mid-winter and there is not much going on in my garden at the moment to document in my garden journal, I decided to practice painting watercolour flowers. I have begun A Flower a Day project, challenging myself to paint a different flower every day. I paint them onto watercolour paper, referring to photos taken of my garden last summer, then I stick them into my journal. It is a good way for me to practice using watercolour paints and I am loving the process. Sometimes I like to add mixed media embellishments, such as washi tape or fibres, to my mini flower paintings.

This is what I have painted so far.

lavender

pansy

poppies

foxgloves

daisies

echinacea

 

Treasure The Memories

This is one of my favourite photographs of my grandmother. It would have been taken in the 1930s when she was in her twenties, before she married. I love her dress; I wish I knew what colour it was. Although when I think of my grandmother, I always think of her as old, I can see her in the face of this young woman, gentle and reflective.

For this scrapbook page I used ribbon, lace, paper flowers and butterflies, and beads from a broken vintage necklace. To honour my grandmother’s love of gardening, I added pressed flowers from my garden – alyssum, feverfew and pansy.

 

Book Review: 101 Easy Homemade Products For Your Skin, Health & Home

I have always tried to live a healthy lifestyle, conscious of what I put both into and onto my body, and the effect that household products have on us and on the environment. For many years I have used cleaning products that have no nasty chemicals, and body care products that are natural and organic.

Recently I bought a book called 101 Easy Homemade Products For Your Skin, Health & Home by Jan Berry. I have followed Jan’s blog The Nerdy Farm Wife for a while now and was excited when I saw that she had written a book. It is full of projects for making skin and hair care products, household cleaners, health remedies, and pet care products using natural ingredients and common herbs, flowers and oils. The book is perfect for the beginner with easy-to-follow directions and lots of lovely pictures.

101 Homemade Products

So far I have made three projects from the book. The first one I tried was a lip balm. Jan teaches you how to make a basic lip balm, then gives lots of ideas on how to customise it using different herbs and essential oils. The first one I made I used avocado oil infused with lemon balm from my garden, and the next one I used olive oil infused with lavender flowers. It was so easy to make, I will never buy lip balm again!

lavender lip balm

Next I made the calendula lotion, which had a few extra steps and ingredients, but it turned out really nice. I didn’t have any calendulas flowering in my garden, so I bought a packet of dried calendula flowers from a health shop and infused them in organic avocado oil. I’ve planted a load of seeds in my garden so that I will have some on hand for using in creams and lotions when I need them. Now that I know how to make a lotion, I can’t wait to try out some different recipes. There are recipes in the book for face cleansers, face creams, eye creams, body butters, soaps, and much, much more.

Calendula Lotion

I made the orange pine floor cleaner, using pine needles collected on our walks, and oranges from our garden. It cleans the floors well and leaves a lovely refreshing scent.

orange and pine floor cleaner

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in making their own herbal products and in living a natural, chemical-free lifestyle.

Crazy Patchwork Cushion

Crazy Patchwork Cushion

I have been doing patchwork and quilting for a few years now, mostly making quilts and table runners, but I always wanted to have a go at doing crazy quilting. This creative art form was popular in the Victorian era, when fabrics were pieced together in irregular shapes and sizes, then embellished with embroidery, ribbons, laces, cording, beads, buttons, and appliqued motifs. They were like art quilts, often made with beautiful fabrics and luxurious threads.

I decided to start with something small and make a cushion cover. I chose some lovely fabrics from my stash, in my favourite colours of green and purple, with some creams added for contrast. There are several methods for piecing, but I chose to use the traditional hand-pieced Antique method. I embellished my cushion with embroidery, ribbons, lace, buttons, vintage trim, and small pieces cut from vintage doilies.

I bought this vintage floral trim at an antique fair.

It’s been a while since I’ve done any embroidery, so I decided to stick to simple stitches like blanket stitch and French knots.

I found J. Marsha Michler’s book Crazy Quilting, The Complete Guide very useful. It has instructions for piecing, embellishing, and more than 100 embroidery stitches. Being left-handed, I particularly like that she shows how to do the left-handed version of all the stitches. It also has a gallery of beautiful projects. The book is hard-covered and spiral bound, making it easy to have it open on the table while working from it.

I really enjoyed sewing everything by hand. I found it quite therapeutic, stitching while listening to music, and am looking forward to working on another crazy quilting project.

Herbal Moth Repellent Sachets

herbal moth repellent sachets

I just finished making some herbal moth repellent sachets to put in cupboards and drawers. The moth balls that you buy are made from toxic ingredients, so it is much better to make your own. They smell much nicer, too! You can use any strong smelling herbs to repel moths, so I used what I had in my garden – rosemary, lavender, mint, and thyme. I hung up bunches of the herbs in my studio and left them for a couple of weeks to dry, then stripped off the flowers and leaves and mixed them all up together in a tin. I also added some whole cloves for an extra strong aroma.

Lavender

rosemary and mint

dried herbs

herbal sachet bagsMaking the little fabric bags is a good way to use up scraps of fabric. You can use pretty cottons, muslin, organza, cheesecloth, or really whatever you have on hand. Fill the sachets with the dried herbs, then tie a piece of ribbon or twine around the tops. Hang the sachets in cupboards or place in drawers to keep the moths away from your clothes and linens. Scrunch the sachets once in a while to release the aromas, and once the aroma has faded, empty the bags and replace with some freshly dried herbs.

Update: I have since discovered that it is not a good idea to use organza for the sachets as, when you scrunch them, dust from the herbs escapes through the loose weave of the fabric, and you don’t want plant dust all over your clothes.