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Kilner Jar makeover

I'm continuing the studio makeover to make it a shared space, and was trying to find a way of making the paintbrush collection a little nicer to look at.

I had 3 boring Kilner Jars, so once they were thoroughly cleaned, I painted them with chalk paint. I put on two coats as I was concerned that the brushstrokes showed a lot, but I don't think I'd bother again - one will do!

Once the paint was dry (I left mine overnight) I sanded off the bits where the writing was and around the glass screw at the top.

I decorated with some twine, and hung a few baubles that were to hand, around the neck.

These should look ok on the new dressers.

Decorating a craft box

Things are slightly chaotic at the moment as the time has come to clear out the studio cupboard. I'm having to have a bit of a jig round to get more space in the house and am getting 2 new small dressers in place of the wardrobe I currently use.  We've all got pictures like this, right??! That cupboard really held a lot more than I realised.

Amongst this lot is a small collection of children's crafty stuff - feathers, wax crayons, wobbly eyes etc - and I wanted somewhere safe to keep them together but that didn't look ugly or too childish. I found this Ikea box in the loft and decided it might do so set about making it more interesting. Apologies for the photos - they were taken at night (nothing on the telly again) in low lighting.

I used chalk paint on the outside of the box. 

And coated the box drawer fronts with a layer of gel gloss.

Then I stuck some papers on the box fronts. You could really get some lovely effects if you used your own printed papers, but I was in a hurry and had limited space, so used a pre-printed book of papers.

All the box fronts being left to dry (nb not cut to shape yet)

Using a scalpel to cut to shape once dried.

Finished box front.

Finished box. I may wax the chalk paint....it's recommended on the tin. Quite jolly results I thought and perfect on the new white dressers.

Gourd - Small Applique and Stitch piece

Although summer is over, the autumn colours make everything seem warm and cosy. I was out and about a couple of days ago and came across some gourds for sale and I thought they'd look great on my garden table, popped into a few plant pots.

Couldn't resist bringing one inside for a spot of drawing!

I decided to make a small textile piece just for the fun of it. I've drawn the gourd onto freezer paper. To get the shapes you can see, I just looked at a photograph of the gourd and decided which were the dark bits (the dark green) and which were the light bits (the white). I drew these shapes directly onto the freezer paper, but you could photocopy your photograph and enlarge if you wish, and then trace directly from that.

Here's the freezer paper outlines again being auditioned against some orange home-dyed fabrics to give me an idea of size etc.

To keep it simple I've chosen to do my gourd in greens but you could choose any colours as long as you had a dark, a medium and a light fabric. You will need to iron on some bondaweb to the reverse side of the fabrics.

The easiest way to tackle the next stage, is to cut out the entire gourd shape in the mid tone green fabric.

Once the basic shape is cut, peel off the bondaweb backing and iron the shape into place on the background.

 Now it's a matter of repeating the process with all the shapes on your freezer paper,

 Until you have the image fixed firmly to your background cloth.

I've added a spot of extra darker fabric at the base of the gourd to look like shadow - this stops the gourd "floating" in the space and grounds it. Layer up the front piece with wadding and backing fabric and pin in place.

 I've added some 1/4" masking tape to give me some perspective lines for my free motion machining.

The completed piece.

I like free machining but I think this looked better in just fabric - interesting!
I'm making some progress with The Fragility of Self Worth. This part of the quilt is about looking and seeing and so of course features eyes quite a bit.

After piecing the white cloth into the middle of this section, I was able to add applique, stitch and then some paint.

Simple Jenny Wren portrait.

We have a pair of wrens in our garden, and they often flit about just the other side of the window in an old honeysuckle. If I stay really still, I can see them at close quarters from the settee.

I'm not a good enough drawer to catch their likeness whilst they're flitting about, so I've copied an image from a book. I had no idea how complex all those feather patterns were!

I drew the wren onto caligraphy paper (a new purchase - I was eager to try it out!) but I think I used the wrong side as it has a slightly rough surface, whereas the other is smooth. Never mind, it still worked well with pencil.

Having stuck the finished paper to my canvas using acrylic gel, I thought it needed something else. I drew a circle and used gold acrylic paint to infill. I could have used gold leaf which would have looked even better I think, but I couldn't get the lid off the size.

I liked the sparseness of the white and gold with the pencil drawing, but decided to be reckless and add a spot of blue.

Of course, once the blue had dried, I decided I preferred the white!! I compromised by putting a coat or two of white acrylic over the blue except for the bottom right hand corner. Why did I leave that? I have no idea - I just liked the weight of colour at the bottom and the design made by the blocks of colour.

Christmas Lino Print Plans and Portrait Progress

 I was in a National Trust shop the other day and came across these packets of notelets. I really liked the design and the colouring, and thought I'd use them as inspiration for a Christmas lino print. The idea is not to copy them of course - there'd be no fun in that - although I do like the colour palette!

The backgrounds were interesting, and I have in mind a collograph of some kind. I think having just bought a new extension table for my Xcut, I shall extend the lino print to cover the back of the card as well as the front. I also think some nice bright red bobbles somewhere would be good - I'll be back in a bit to show you what I'm going to do.

I'm also working on a portrait in the new sketchbook and have got to the 3rd round of paint stage! (I colour in the whole thing with a loose wash, then go round and round the portrait systematically to add layers of paint).

Here's the first round....

 And the second ....

And a close up of the eye in progress....

Third layer....(more soon)

Screenprinting with die cuts on fabric - experiment

Following yesterday's stencil cutting using a die cutting machine, I thought I'd experiment with screen printing and die cuts.

This is just a what-if idea, so I used old bits of fabric, old fabric paints etc. There's definite potential for this idea - it needs more care taken lining things up etc. Anyway here's the principle.


I used an Xcut, a Christmas present die, screen, and screen squeegy, pencil, paper, ruler and paints of choice, baby wipes for hand wiping during the process.

The Xcut takes A4 paper as a maximum size, and my screen is quite small, so I've drawn a grid which divides a sheet of A4 into 8. You don't need to do anything special with this as its a reference sheet only to help you place your die geometrically (you could of course skip this if you want to be random with your printing)

Layering up.Place your ruled piece of paper on the base plate of the Xcut. Position your die on the paper so it sits nicely in your grid. Cover with a bit of waxed paper - I've used logan wrap but freezer paper etc work well. You do this to help the paper release from the very intricate die. A less intricate die does not need this step.

Add a top sheet of paper, positioning it so it matches up (registers) with the base piece of paper - just make sure the edges match. (nb photo shows the die piece and paper without the logan wrap). Put the top plate over everything and feed through the press - I used 4.5 for the roller setting but you may need to experiment with this depending on paper thickness and intricacy of the die.

And here's the paper after it's gone through the press and been removed from the die.

Carry on feeding the die through the machine, moving it each time to cut out as shown above. Now, it's a matter of choice of what you'd like to print. I've chosen to try and print the base box shape first, so have placed the paper on my fabric and then covered with the screen, as below. You could just print the filigree boxes, which would look lovely.

Now it's a matter of putting your fabric paint (or whatever you choose to use) onto the screen at the top.  

Pull the paint down the screen and through the paper. I've chosen bright magenta simply because that's all I had! It's a bit loud isn't it?

When you lift the screen you will find the paper has acted as a mask and you have forced paint through the holes to the fabric below. Do NOT remove the paper - it will be stuck to the screen which is very useful, as you can now move it across to another piece of fabric and print again and again.

I wanted to find out about overprinting so put my paper cut outs of the parcel over the painted boxes. If you want to try the same thing, allow the fabric paint to dry on the first layer. I didn't and had to use a pin to lift off the soggy paper without smearing everything.  Take your time and line everything up very carefully - I was a bit slapdash, and it showed on the final printing!

I overprinted with green, and then lifted the paper masks off the boxes whilst still wet. Keep the baby wipes to hand so that you can keep your fingers clean.

And here we go! Although I will need to make sure that the filigree cut out is correctly placed next time I do this, there is scope for doing something much more useful. This die set also comes with a ribbon and bow, so a chance to do 3 colours if you want.