Vintage Cards and Christmas Shortbread

This art journal page evolved over a couple of happy hours crafting in my studio, listening to Christmas songs. The focal point is a Christmas card from my vintage card collection. The card was sent from a father in Italy to his daughter in New Zealand during the Second World War. During a time that was so fraught with heartbreak, with many families being separated from their loved ones, it must have been so special for that little girl to receive a Christmas card from her father from all those miles away across the ocean, and to know that he was all right. It makes me feel blessed to be surrounded by all my family at Christmas time.

To make the page, I painted and stencilled a background, then layered the card with Christmas sheet music, festive papers, fabric, lace and ribbon, finally adding a few little embellishments.

I love doing Christmas baking – homemade mince pies, Christmas cake, and Christmas cookies are enjoyed by all at this time of the year. This is my great-grandmother’s shortbread recipe. I add spices, orange zest, and cranberries at Christmas time to give it a festive touch.

Christmas Cranberry Shortbread

225g butter or non-dairy spread
125g icing sugar
zest of 1 orange
½ cup cranberries
375g flour
25g cornflour
1 teaspoon mixed spice

Cream the butter and icing sugar.  Stir in the orange zest and cranberries. Add sifted flour, cornflour, and spice and mix. Knead well. Roll out the dough ¼ inch to ½ inch thick. Cut into shapes. Prick with a fork to stop the dough from rising. (I forgot to do this, but they still turned out nice.) Bake at 160° C for 30 minutes. (I cook on fan bake so that the bottoms of the shortbread don’t burn.) Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

From our place to yours, Merry Christmas!

 

 

Woven wall hanging

I recently bought a small weaving loom from Spotlight, a local craft and homeware store. It is light and portable and a perfect size for making small projects. When I began this project, I didn’t have an exact plan in mind other than to make a wall hanging using materials I had on hand. After deciding on a natural, earthy colour scheme, I gathered together everything I had in my stash that I thought I could use – ribbons, fibers, lace, trim, yarn, fabric scraps, and even a hemp bracelet with little bells on.

 

The process was very therapeutic. While sitting, weaving the pieces over and under, adding the pieces randomly, I watched a pattern slowly begin to form. I left the ends hanging out to give it a raw, organic feel. Then, when it was finished, I cut the bottom threads from the loom and threaded beads through, knotting them underneath to hold them on. Finally, I lifted the top threads from the loom, slid a piece of driftwood through, and attached a piece of recycled silk yarn for hanging.

Tiny tea bag book of nature

 

Lately I have seen a lot of wonderful art on the Internet using tea bags. As an avid tea drinker, I decided to start saving my used tea bags to make my own little book. Although mostly I use loose leaf tea, I do use some tea bags and got some interesting effects from black tea, green tea, and nettle tea, while some I left unstained.

I decided on a nature theme for my little book. I stitched down the center of the tea bags to bind them together, then added cardstock and vellum to the front and back covers. To embellish the tea bag pages I used stamped images, stickers, stamps, tiny pictures, pressed flowers and leaves, and washi tape.

Here are a few of the pages.

 

Finally I glued coloured hemp and recycled silk fibers to the spine.

This teeny tiny book is as light as a feather and fits into the palm of my hand.

Something of the marvelous

I created this scrapbook page using paper from the  Kaisercraft Fairy Dust Collection. It is such a pretty paper that I wanted to find a photo that was as magical as the illustration and this pretty pansy captured in my garden seemed perfect. I added some pressed violas, washi tape, a metal butterfly embellishment, an applique dragonfly, some hand stitching, and some rhinestone embellishments.

I agree with this quote by Aristotle one hundred percent. Everywhere you look in nature there is something marvelous to be found, something to fill your heart with joy.

I love that pansies continue to bloom throughout  the cold weather, adding colour to the winter garden. Each winter I grow them in pots and tubs outside my studio where it is lovely and sunny. They provide a cheerful welcome to visitors coming through the gate.

I am joining in the Add a Quote challenge over at Try it on Tuesday.

Journal of Inspiration

I love looking through magazines for inspiration. Some of my favourites are Somerset Studio, Somerset Art Journaling, Sew Somerset, and Daphne’s Diary. I also love reading gardening magazines and the Australian Country Craft magazines. I am very lucky to have a wonderful mum who also loves to read magazines and passes them on to me after she has finished with them. Once I have read the magazines (often several times), I pull out pages with crafts or recipes that I would like to try, home decor, botanical art, poems, or pictures that make me feel happy. I also take out pages and cut out words that I can use in my collage. After that, what is left goes in the recycling.

Recently I decided to take the folder of inspirational pages I had pulled from the magazines and make them into a big journal of things that I love. To make the journal I took one of my magazines and removed all the pages from it that I didn’t want to keep, leaving a half inch border along the spine of each page. Then I took my stash of inspirational pages and glued them onto the half-inch tabs, while others I attached with my favourite washi tapes.

Some pages I glued back to back, covering up the sides I didn’t want to keep. On other pages I made mini collages, or used paint and washi tape to cover up parts I didn’t want.

I made a pocket on one of the pages to hold some of my vintage greeting cards.

I decorated the cover using gesso, acrylic paints, inks, paint pens, and washi tapes, and I added some fibers and beads down the side.

My journal is a big book of inspiration that I can take out and look through when I want to relax. And the good thing is I can keep adding pages to the journal – the bulkier the better!

Little Book of Ancestors

I recently took Laly Mille’s online class, Little Book of Whispers, a beautiful class in which she teaches you how to make a mixed media artist book connecting to the whispers of your soul. I chose to make my book into a little book of ancestors.

I embellished the pages with scraps of vintage lace and doilies, ribbons, buttons, and sewing ephemera, many of which belonged to my ancestors. I also used vintage greeting cards from my collection, Victorian decoupage scraps, pressed flowers from my garden, pages from old music books, fabric, and pieces of broken jewellery.

Between the covers of this little book lie the whispers of my ancestors.

To learn more about Laly Mille’s class, Little Book of Whispers, click here. The class is only available to join at certain times of the year, but you can get on the wait list to learn when the next class is open for registration. I urge you to take a look at her website www.lalymille.com where you will find lots of beautiful mixed media art and inspiration.

The House in Wattle Lane, the second book in my Wattle Lane series, also delves into ancestry and connecting to whispers of the past.

When 29-year-old Neave Hamlin is made redundant from her job in the city, she decides to return to the small town of Kerrigan to consider her future and to reconnect with her estranged father and half-siblings. However, she soon learns that being part of a family is not always easy as she struggles to cope with the emotional dramas of her 14-year-old, half-sister, Lily, who insists that the old family home is haunted, and a less than welcoming stepmother.

After attending a heritage scrapbooking class, Neave is inspired to learn more about the lives of her ancestors. While searching for the truth behind a dark family secret, she discovers that sometimes unearthing the past can shine a light on the future.

The House in Wattle Lane includes recipes.

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

Scrappy Cupcake Angels, book one in the Wattle Lane novels, introduces you to some of the other characters who live in the small New Zealand town of Kerrigan, several of whom also make an appearance in The House in Wattle Lane.

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

 

Pretty As A Pansy

Pansies are one of my favourite flowers. Their sweet faces brighten up the winter garden, and I especially love them in shades of purple and blue. When I saw this pansy fabric on Grandmother’s Garden Patchwork & Quilting website, I immediately began planning what I could do with it.

I made a patchwork table runner to cover my art table when I’m not using it.

Then with the leftover fabrics, and strips cut from the coordinating picture panel, I made a small wall hanging. I added some buttons, lace, and stitching, then I found two sticks in the garden – one from which to hang it, and one from which to dangle beads at the bottom.

Finn kept an eye on what I was doing.

This sweet pansy is called Matrix Denim.

In the language of flowers, pansy means friendly thoughts or think of me. These pansy cards are from my collection of vintage greeting cards.

With friendly thoughts from me to you, wherever you are in the world.

Dragonfly Mixed Media Canvas

At the moment we are in the process of redecorating our living room and I decided it would be nice to have some new art to hang on the walls. I love dragonflies and had fun creating this mixed media canvas.

For the background I adhered a page torn from an old book of piano music to the canvas, then used paints, inks, and stencils on top to add marks and texture. Dragonflies, in nature, often have vibrant, jewel-like colours, and the canvas lent itself to lavish embellishing with buttons, lace, and jewels.

I added natural elements of burlap and pressed flowers, ferns, and leaves.

The dragonfly’s wings are adorned with pearls and seed beads to add a little bit of sparkle.

 

May you touch dragonflies and stars, dance with fairies and talk to the moon.
                                                                                                               author unknown

Owl Journal Page

This owl journal page was inspired by a recent Kelly Rae Unscripted video. I love watching Kelly Rae’s weekly painting videos and get lots of ideas for techniques I can incorporate into my own art.

First I painted the background, then stenciled on a pattern with ink. The tree was collaged with pages torn from an old magazine, then painted over with inks and granulation medium. I sketched the owls on to the page, cut out feathers from scrapbook papers and glued them down with Mod Podge. The leaves are cut out from scrapbook papers and outlined with ink. I used coloured pens for outlining, inks for shading, and paint pens for the moon and moonlight.

 

Fly Free

I created this canvas panel using the acrylic photo transfer technique. It is the first time I have attempted this technique. I used a photograph that Nick had taken of a monarch butterfly for the centre image, then added paint and mixed media elements around it. I was quite pleased with how it turned out, but I definitely need some more practice. I rubbed a little too hard and removed some of the image, but I like how it has a dream-like quality. I added a few cineraria and feverfew flowers from my garden to tie in with the nature theme of the piece.

Finn

We recently celebrated Finn’s third birthday with a trip to one of his favourite river spots, where he loves to run, explore, swim and chase sticks. I made this scrapbook page for his album, which is filling up fast.

Here are some close-ups of the details.

I love to layer papers.

finn4

The burlap gives it a natural feel.

finn6

I used collage elements and did some chalking through stencils.

Washi tape and ribbon co-ordinate with the colour theme of water and nature.

This pretty sticker was from Graphic 45’s Botanical Tea collection.

finn5

 

My 2017 Planner

My 2017 Planner

I have always been a list maker. Each morning I write a list of things I want to achieve that day. Sometimes I write it out the night before so that I can go to sleep without going over in my mind what I need to do the next day. At the end of the day I take pleasure in crossing off the tasks I have completed and feel a sense of achievement if I have managed to accomplish them all.

This year I decided that, instead of having lists lying around the house, I would make a planner where I could keep everything organised in a fun, creative way. Although there are lots of lovely planners you can buy, I decided to use a recipe journal I have had for a few years, but never used. I think I bought it because it was purple, my favourite colour, but I have another lovely recipe folder that I have been using, so this one has been stashed away in a cupboard until now.

recipe-journal

I decorated the front with scrapbook papers and a small tag, and I also decorated the back and inside cover.

Planner

The journal has six dividers so I have 2 months for each divider and use word stickers for the months.

Planner

On the inside of the divider I glued small calendar pages so I can see the dates at a glance.

Planner

I use a page for each week and write down important dates, what I’m reading, art and craft projects I’m working on, and weekly menus. At the top I attach a stack of To Do notelets with a paper clip so that at the end of each day I can transfer any tasks I haven’t completed to a new list and throw the old one away.

Planner

The paper clips are also handy for keeping snippets I have clipped from magazines or junk mail, of things I want to remember or look up on the Internet. I attach the weekly menu to the page with washi tape so that I can easily take it off at the end of the week if I want to, and in its place I put pictures for art inspiration that I have cut out of catalogues or magazines.

Planner

Plastic sleeves provide a place for photos taken during the week.

Planner

I set the pages up a month at a time so I can easily write out my lists each day, and then when I have time I can add embellishments like stickers, decorative tape, and pressed flowers from my garden. I find it is a fun and creative place to keep things organised – everything together all in one place. It is like a planner, journal, and scrapbook all in one.

Christmas Cornucopias

Originally posted on www.wattlelane.wordpress.com.

Christmas cornucopiaCornucopia ornaments were popular in the Victorian era when Christmas decorations were often handmade. The cornucopias were lavishly embellished using decorative papers and leftover scraps of ribbon, fabric and lace. The ornaments were made in the shape of a cone and were filled with flowers, fruit, nuts, candy, and small gifts.

Christmas cornucopias

These ornaments are easy to make and fun to embellish. Simply use a plate to draw a large circle onto a sheet of cardstock – I used heavy scrapbook paper. Cut out the circle, then cut the circle in half. This will make two ornaments. Fold each half circle into a cone shape and use double sided tape to stick it down. Punch a hole through each side and thread through a ribbon for hanging. Then decorate it however you like, using ribbons, lace, trims and pictures.

Christmas cornucopia

Christmas cornucopia

In my novel, Christmas in Wattle Lane, Neave makes cornucopias to hang on her tree for a vintage-themed Christmas. If you’re in a festive mood and like to read Christmas novels like I do at this time of the year, Christmas in Wattle Lane is available as an ebook and a paperback from Amazon.com.

Christmas in Wattle Lane

Amazon.com

Keep Your Face To The Sunshine

Pictures of sunflowers always make me feel cheerful and remind me that summer is on its way (at least, here in the Southern hemisphere). Even in winter, the sight of a sunflower image can lift the spirits and conjure up feelings of warmth and happiness.

I made this small mixed-media canvas using papers from Rosie’s Studio handmade paper scrap pack. The quote and the sunflower images are from Graphic 45’s Time to Flourish collection. I used acrylic paints and inks, and added a piece of burlap and a small metal trinket.

Here are some close-up views.

Have a sunshine-filled day!

In My Studio

This is what has been happening in my studio lately.

A whimsical page in my art journal.

Believe art journal page

A project from Danielle Donaldson’s video Watercolor Illustrations

and one from her book Creative Girl.

Patchwork cushions made from the little packets of fabric remnants I bought at a craft fair a few weeks ago.

patchwork cushions

Writing Update:
I have finished the first draft of The Air That I Breathe. It feels good to finally have the story out of my head and in the computer. Lots of work still to do, but I am looking forward to working some more with the characters I have come to know so well.

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.

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.

 

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.

Wildflower Meadow

I hope all the mums out there had a lovely Mother’s Day on Sunday. It was a beautiful autumn day here, continuing our run of amazing autumn weather.

I made my mum this mixed-media picture using watercolour and inking techniques from Jane Betteridge’s book Watercolours Unleashed. After the background was dry, I added pressed flowers and leaves from my garden, and a few butterflies cut from scrapbook paper.

wildflower meadow

Jane Betteridge does the most beautiful watercolour painting, using nature as her inspiration. I was so pleased to have discovered her book. You can see her lovely work on her website at www.janebetteridge.com.

Granddad

Originally posted on my Wattle Lane blog.

My granddad was a special person in my life. Although, while I was growing up, we lived quite a distance from my grandparents, we would have a family holiday with them once a year, and I have some very fond memories of those holidays. Eventually we moved closer to them and, for the last few years of my grandfather’s life, he lived just around the corner from us.

I remember him as a kind, gentle man with a great sense of humour and, what we thought at the time, some crazy ideas, always trying to come up with new inventions and ways of making his fortune.

To me, he was an inspiration. He could play the piano by ear, never having learnt music, a skill I always envied. He took up painting later in life, creating many lovely works of art. I often wonder if I inherited my creative genes from his side of the family. His sister, my great-aunt, was also an accomplished pianist, as well as dabbling in many different crafts. My mother sewed all our clothes when we were young, taught me how to knit and to do tapestry and cross-stitch, wrote pieces for magazines, and has encouraged me in all my creative endeavours.

Creating this scrapbook page of my grandfather when he was young seemed like the perfect opportunity to use these tiny playing cards that I have had for a while.

I have always loved this photograph of Granddad taken during the years of the Second World War. The music-themed background paper seemed perfect for celebrating his love of piano music.The background paper with the poem and the bird was a free artist paper from the Somerset Studio magazine. I added the green ribbons and stitching to add a pop of colour to the layout.

I have many more photos of my grandfather taken over the years with his family, which I am looking forward to putting into scrapbook layouts to document his life and to remember the wonderful man who I was fortunate to have called my granddad.