Scrappy Greeting: Bird

bird-birthday-cardJust sent off this nature-themed card to an Auntie celebrating a birthday at the end of this month.

Layered on an A2 kraft card (4.25” x 5.5”) are a tiny dollar-store calendar, a bird image from one of those notepads you get in the mail, and a page torn from an old dictionary, a recent antique store purchase that’s going to be so useful in my junk journaling. These scraps are “aged” with Tim Holtz distress ink in various combinations of Antique Linen, Old Paper, Vintage Photo and Black Soot.

bird-birthday-card-detailBotanical “postage stamp” stickers and a Queen Bee rubber stamp (isn’t she regal?) continue the motif, as well as washi tape in vintage colours and designs. I’m especially loving the wide Encyclopedia Plant washi tape from mt’s ex collection!

For the inner greeting, I cut an insert from cream-coloured drawing paper, used a sturdy needle to pierce a couple of holes at the fold of both insert and card, and fastened them together with embroidery floss.

embellished-envelopeAddress labels from the same notepad paper, more stamping and washi embellish front and back of the matching envelope.

Since this card is going through the post, I sprayed the envelope lightly with acrylic artist’s sealant, an invisible matte fixative that protects artwork from smudging. (I’ve also used it on other media such as painted wood and metal.)

embellished-envelope-reverseI hope Aunt Sally enjoys her “bird-day” card!

Bloom

first-day-of-spring-junk-journalA bright and sunny junk journal layout for the first day of Spring.

bloom-junk-journalThere is still something to celebrate!

spring-junk-journalBe well and happy. And don’t forget to bloom!

bloom-spring-journal

Felted Treasure Box

needle-felted-lidded-boxTo my chagrin, I haven’t done any needle felting for about a year, so I thought it was high time to pull out my supplies and make something new.

Last year, some of my felting projects included little bowls, perfect caches for small treasures such as jewellery and precious things. I’ve always intended to do one with a lid, but I wasn’t sure how to make it rigid enough to be practical. I “winged it” with this one, using Corriedale roving in exotic turquoise, medium blue and fern green, and the Butterfly Box was born!

needle-felted-box-with-lidI worked on this project while world health news, which seems to change by the hour, played in the background. I found myself thinking about what butterflies symbolize. Almost universally, these beautiful creatures represent endurance, metamorphosis, hope and life. Different coloured butterflies have different meanings, too: green ones are supposed to symbolize prosperity, and blue butterflies are considered very lucky. Pondering these little miracles of nature was very calming at this difficult time.

To make this box, I began by lightly felting a core using inexpensive undyed roving, saving my “good” colours for the outside. (This also makes for a sturdier end result.) I used a 2.5” diameter cylinder of florist’s foam to shape around, beginning with the flat bottom and building up the walls of the round box. Once I had the basic shape, I carefully detached it from the foam and started layering random strips and swirls of the blues and green on top of the natural wool. For the final shape, I decided to curve the box inward at the top like a squat ginger jar, and left the rim flat to accept the lid.

felted-butterfly-boxFor a lid that will hold its shape, I cut two circles, slightly smaller than the box diameter, from a sheet of thick felt (designed specifically for needle felting), and lightly needled them together. Then I felted on layers of the blues and green. My guess as to the lid size was almost right; I did have to do more needling around the top of the box to make it smaller in order to fit the lid. That’s one of the beauties of felting: almost everything can be reshaped to turn out the way you want!

blue-butterflyA couple of wooden buttons, sewn onto the lid with embroidery floss, serve as a handle. The finished box is approximately 3.75” in diameter and 2.75” tall. My mother turns 90 next week and is due to come home from a three-month convalescence at a nursing home on April 1. Her favourite colour is blue, so I hope she will enjoy this Butterfly Box as a birthday/welcome home gift!

A Whole Lot of Crazy Goin’ On

moon-page-playing-card-bookIn one week alone, we’ve seen a time change, a full Moon and Friday the 13th, not to mention the madness of the ongoing world health crisis. One way I’ve been trying to reduce anxiety and stay positive is to do lots of crafting. I cannot forget worrying events, but somehow gluing bits of paper onto other bits of paper is very grounding and relaxing.

full-moon-altered-playing-cardMonday, March 9 was the full Worm Moon, also called the Crow Moon or Sap Moon. I was lucky to see this beauty in the early evening, just as she rose large and golden over an indigo horizon. I had some driving to do, and she followed me all the way home! A moment of serenity in an otherwise chaotic world. To commemorate that moment, I made this altered playing card.

As I’ve been “playing” with these cards, and with my junk journal, I try to incorporate new techniques or materials each time. After scuffing both sides of the card with 150 grit sandpaper, I did a crude sketch of fields, water, mountains and night sky using water-soluble markers, one section at a time. In some areas, I used a barely wet brush to blend the colours. The plastic cards, even sanded, don’t absorb the watercolours well, so blotting might be necessary to avoid warping. Then I used an eyedropper and the paintbrush to drop or flick on water for added texture.

full-moon-playing-cardA full Moon sticker and the stamped motto layered over a bit of washi tape, plus a bit of embellishment on the back, were all that was needed to finish this card; this was a quick one to make. Not obvious in the first photos is that the washi tape has silver stars which glitter and shine when the card is moved. Finally, I protected the card with a light spray of acrylic artist’s sealant.

“Stay Wild, Moon Child” is one of my favourite sayings, evoking as it does the best kind of crazy.

Stay well, stay happy, stay wild.stay-wild-moon-child

Who’s a Washi Tape Addict?

washi-tape-swatch-journal-spreadWhy, that would be me! Since buying one humble roll of this versatile rice paper craft tape a few years ago, I’ve expanded my collection to … well, I’m a little ashamed to admit how many I have now. There are so many gorgeous designs and colours to choose from, and so many creative uses, that when I come across yet another, I don’t just want or crave it – I need it, desperately and unequivocally.

detail-washi-tape-journal-spreadI do, however, like to spend my money wisely and go for good quality stuff. I’ve learned that the 10-pack of washi rolls from the dollar store may contain only one or two that I might actually use, and the quality just isn’t there. Adhesion, thickness, writeability and removability are the most important qualities to look for, in my opinion. (Some cheap varieties are very fragile and don’t peel off cleanly, for instance.) Also, watch out for the glossy sheen of cheaper tapes that repels just about every type of ink, making it bead up or smudge.

I keep my washi collection stacked neatly in a box, but it’s not always easy to remember what I have or find the exact design needed for the craft of the moment. So I thought it would be handy to keep a record of “swatches” in my junk journal for quick reference. I’ve seen some pretty fancy swatch layouts on Pinterest, but I put my own spin on this journal spread – and kept it simple.

washi-swatch-bullet-journalThere are spaces for 48 different samples here. I left out my least favourite tapes, plus a few of the 24-roll collection of luscious solid pastels that I recently purchased. (These solids are very useful for writing or stamping on and layering over other tapes for emphasis, or adding a punch of plain colour in an otherwise busy spread.) Since washi tape is removable, I can delete the swatch and replace it with another if I run out of a design.

lettering-and-modern-calligraphy-bookAnd in this spread, I added a touch of hand lettering. Many years ago, I used to do classic fountain pen calligraphy; I’m finding the “modern” type of calligraphy and hand lettering, using brush pens and markers, so beautiful. This handy little book from Paper Peony Press offers beginner basics with clear explanations of up- and downstrokes, spacing, letter connections, hand pressure, and the importance of practice. I can’t wait to improve my skills!

Salt Magick

salt-magickSalty Folklore

Remember the “old wives’ tale” – throw spilled salt over your left shoulder? There are a few possible origins for this tradition. The ancient Romans believed that salt represented longevity, trust and friendship. They gave it to guests to signify the strength of their esteem; spilling any on the table was considered an ill omen. A European superstition held that the Devil always lurked on the left (or sinister) side. Thus, tossing spilled salt over one’s left shoulder into the face of the demon would drive him away. Many cultures have used salt during sacrifices, festivals and rituals; it was thrown into the fire to make impressive crackling noises, offered to the gods, used in housewarmings and weddings, and placed at corners and entrances of buildings, especially businesses, to ward off evil and attract patrons. For pagans, salt is a symbol of the Earth element; it is used to cleanse a space of negative energy, repel undesirable presences, and protect from harm.

Harnessing Salt Power

If using salt in ritual, you may want to coordinate the type and colour with your intent. Sea salt, for example, is considered, like water, to be feminine, so it’s perfect for magick concerning women or female issues. Edible salts are great for kitchen witchery. Greyish Celtic salt may be the best choice when dealing with the past, memories or ancestors. And the colour black is thought to absorb negative energy and ward off evil, making black salt ideal for protection charms.

Various mixtures can be made by adding dried herbs and other elements such as charcoal, ash and even food colouring to coarse salt. (If you want highly-coloured salt that will last, use powdered, not liquid, food colouring, as moisture will cause the salt to clump or melt.) Here are my two recipes for making coloured salt:

black-witches-saltBlack Witch Salt (non-edible)
The powerful combination of salt and charcoal, pungent peppercorns (a traditional warding herb), and the leftover ash from fire or candle magick is ideal for absorbing negativity, repelling the unwanted, and bringing all-around protection. Use one of those charcoal discs sold for burning incense, or the activated charcoal used in gardening, aquariums and even tooth-whitening. Do not use barbecue charcoal briquettes.

⇒ With a mortar and pestle, crush 1 tbsp black peppercorns and one charcoal incense disc. If available, add ¼ tsp ash from your hearth, wood stove, cauldron or incense burner, plus any leftover bits of burnt resin or incense cone. Into this mixture, toss ¼ cup coarse sea salt and stir until the salt is well coated. Et voilà – your witchy black salt is done! Store in an air-tight glass container.

To ward off unwanted presences or negativity, sprinkle black salt across thresholds and windowsills, leave in containers at the four corners of your house or property or under your front steps, or add to protection bottles. Fill a small cotton or muslin bag and tuck under your office desk to keep annoying co-workers at bay, or hang wherever trouble is brewing. Keep in a dish under your bed to dispel nightmares. When you feel your purpose has been achieved, return the used salt, which is hanging onto to all the bad energy, to the Earth by burying it somewhere away from your home.

purple-witches-saltPurple Salt for Love & Luck (non-edible)
Purple is a particularly pagan colour. Witches will often wear it (or black); doors painted purple (or dark blue) are signs that a witch lives inside. Purple salt is an all-purpose luck and protection charm; the addition of skin-friendly botanicals* makes it appropriate for tossing in the bath or mixing with a little oil for a salt scrub.  *lavender can be irritating or allergenic for some

I used dried lavender and rose petals for my mixture. Lavender has antiseptic properties, calms, soothes and relaxes, and promotes tranquility and sleep. Rose has always stood for love and passion. Together with pink Himalayan salt, which is supposed to be the purest salt on Earth, this pale rosy-mauve blend is delightfully fragrant and versatile.

⇒ In a bowl, stir together ¼ cup pink Himalayan salt, 2 tbsp dried lavender flowers, and 1 tbsp dried red or pink rose petals. Store in an airtight glass container. ⇒ To make a single-use salt scrub, add a little carrier oil such as coconut, apricot kernel, sweet almond or jojoba to a handful of the lavender salt mixture. If desired, add a drop or two of lavender essential oil. Rinse well after application.

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Texture I

door-with-peeling-paint

Cottage door with peeling paint • 03 Aug 2019 • Muskoka, Ontario

I have a thing for texture – in nature, on metal and other man-made surfaces, in artwork – and have photographed lots of different types over the years. But, discovering a door with decades-old peeling paint, a wind-riffled stretch of water or a pitted concrete walkway is one thing; taking an artful photo of same – one which focuses on the subtle variations of surface and colour, and poses the question of how it got that way – is quite another. The pursuit of texture in its close-up glory has helped train my eye for detail and composition, and, hopefully, makes me a better photographer.

I’d like to share my favourite texture photos with you on or around the beginning of each month for a year.

This is a photo challenge non-challenge. Please enjoy my monthly offerings as they are. But if you’d also like to share your own texture photos, I’d love to see them! In the comments for the monthly post, please leave a link to your own blog post with your photo. Let’s keep it simple by including only one picture per month. The “challenge” here is to choose your very best – and see if it makes you hone your photographic skills, too!