Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Monthly calendar

How did you get on with your April calendar?

Here's mine:

And here is May already to go:

Here is an updated checklist PDF for April.

Looking forward to seeing what you have done via the linky.

Sunday, 28 April 2013


We celebrated Easter last month but you may remember that I mentioned on Friday that the Orthodox Church this year will celebrate Easter on May 5th.

I found this fabulous website with full instructions to make Koulourakia which are Greek Easter Biscuits.  You will have plenty of time to get the ingredients and try out the recipe in time.

I do hope you try these out.  If you do please let us know how you get on.

Friday, 26 April 2013

How to fit text into a shape ...

... by the very talented Valerie Sjodin.  I am so thrilled to be introducing Valerie to you.  I love her work.

You may remember that I mentioned that Easter in the Orthodox Church is on May 5th, whilst the rest of us celebrated it on March 31st.   I asked Valerie to come up with something that was an egg shape so as to be Easter or Spring related.  And she has come up with this video.  So great!

Enjoy the video.

Your challenge
You can use the egg shape or you can choose another shape to write your words in. You can copy Valerie's tutorial or you can come up with your own words.

I look forward to seeing what you do. Don't forget to share your work via the linky.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

St. George's Day

Today, in the UK, it is St.George's Day.  Although you would hardly know it as we tend to ignore it.  And yet St. George is the Patron Saint of England.  However, he is celebrated in several countries around the world.

From St George's Day website
Facts of St George’s life have passed through the centuries growing in legend and myth. However, he must have been some character in his lifetime for his reputation to have survived for almost 1,700 years!

There are many accounts giving what are believed to be the facts outlining the life of England’s Patron Saint. Below are the widely accepted ‘facts’ of St George’s life.
  • St George was born to Christian parents in A.D. 270 (3rd Century) in Cappadocia, now Eastern Turkey
  • He moved to Palestine with his Mother and became a Roman soldier, rising to the high rank of Tribunus Militum
  • However, he later resigned his military post and protested against his pagan leader, the Emperor Diocletian (245-313 AD), who led Rome’s persecution of Christians
  • His rebellion against the Emperor resulted in his imprisonment, but even after torture he stayed true to his faith
  • The enraged Diocletian had St George dragged through the streets of Nicomedia, Turkey, on the 23rd of April 303 AD and had him beheaded
  • The Emperor’s wife was so inspired by St George’s bravery and loyalty to his religion, that she too became a Christian and was subsequently executed for her faith
You can also find out about him on these pages:

St. George

The Dragon

From the BBC

William Shakespeare, England's greatest dramatist, is believed to have been born on April 23rd in 1564 and died on April 23rd 1616.

This day is celebrated in Stratford upon Avon every year on the nearest weekend to April 23rd.

If you visit Stratford you can see various buildings belonging now to the Shakespeare Trust.   These include his wife's home, Anne Hathaway's Cottage.

And the house where he was born.

You can find out all about his plays and other works by googling his name.  There are so many sites I couldn't decide which ones to direct you to.

Art Challenge
There's lots of information on this page.  You could choose to be inspired by St. George or Shakespeare or both.

Maybe you could come up with your own dragon!

Or is there a Shakespeare play or poem that you know and inspires you.  Can you find a quote that you could use?  I use this Quote site a great deal.

If you are really stuck, I'll choose a quote for you.  My parents used to live at the top of a small hill just outside Stratford upon Avon and at the bottom of the garden there was a footpath that led to Anne Hathaway's Cottage.  Another name for a small hill is bank.  And all the flowers mentioned grew in the garden so my mother was convinced that her garden was the bank where Titania slept!

"I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania some time of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight"

Midsummer Nights Dream by William Shakespeare (Act 2 Scene 1)

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Guest post

Today I am thrilled to welcome Jackie, a friend of mine from my local crop.

Days like these ...

As I write these instructions it's not much like Spring outside, the snow is falling and it is freezing, but I hope by now it has all gone and a distant memory.

Now onto my layout, the theme for Spring is recycling, growth so here is my layout and instructions on how I put it together.

I put together a mini page kit including thickers (which I ended up not using).

I started by cutting this paper to approx. 7 x 4 and inked the edges. 

All the edges of the papers have been inked using Tim Holtz Vintage Photo Distress Ink.

Then taking a section of the ‘love’ paper

Using the Coffee Cup Cardboard holder - I carefully flatten it out and the edges off, I added some bakers twine to the back to keep it in place, then wrapped it round several times before tying a bow at the front right. 

I punched some heart shapes from the left over cardboard.

I stamped onto one of the tags.

Then it was time to layer everything up.

I added foam pads to the back of the photo

To stick the die cut shape to the page I used Glossy Accents.

I added 3 cardboard hearts to the layout, and then I choose some of the wood veneer - again I inked the edges and choose 3 different shapes.

To help ground this shapes I punched 3 circles

and used some of the washi tape and brads to make clustered embellishments.

To finish off I used a roller stamp to add the date.

Thank you Jackie.  What a fabulous layout.  And it's so great to see how to do a layout about a boy.

Don't forget to use the linky below to add your take on 'Days like these...'

Friday, 12 April 2013

Technique Challenge

This month's challenge is to find one stamp in your collection and find as many different ways that you can use it.

Of course if you've got a Primrose stamp that would be great or perhaps the Tim Holtz man with the umbrella.

So what things might you try?

Various Resist Techniques

Watercolour - using distress ink and a water spray

Make a background!

Stamp onto Friendly Plastic and shrink

Make a border

If you think of anything else please add it to the comments below.  And add your work to the link below.


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Creative date for April

Julia Cameron in The Artists Way suggested the idea of making time for a regular creative date.   This idea is also picked up by Matt Tommey in Unlocking the Heart of the Artist.   

Last month Judy shared this page with us: 101 Artist's Date Ideas.

I am suggesting that we should each make time for a creative date each month.  Ideally we will go out.  Go to a local museum, a local art gallery, go for a walk!  Whatever idea you have that will feed your creativity.

However sometimes it's not possible to physically visit those places.  So here's my idea for April.  Click on this blog link and read the blog post.
My page from a Dina workshop
Then click on one of the blog links on the first blog.  When you've read that blog, click on one of the blog links on that blog.  Keep repeating this for as long as you wish.  Make notes of things that inspire you.  Make a list of the links to the blogs you went to and share them with the rest of us.

Of course blog surfing can use up time like nothing else can.  So you may want to set yourself a time limit - say an hour - or a number limit of blogs - say 6.  Choose what suits you best and 
have fun!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Going Green

Today I am thrilled to welcome Joanna.

Hello!  As spring approaches and I come out of hibernation from the long winter, I often get the idea that I should purge my art studio a bit of all the “stuff” I have collected over the years.  As a mixed media artist who specializes in recycling stuff into art, that is easier said than done.  Sure enough, anytime I get rid of some little treasure I’ve been hoarding with the best intentions of turning it into art, a week later I am wishing I still had it.

One of the things I have a lot of is old CDs.  Fortunately, I have devised an easy way to turn them into functional art and divest my studio of a bit of clutter.  Following is a super quick and easy mixed media project for those of you who have a few old CDs lying around too and wonder what to do with them.

Supplies you will need are:
  • CDs you no longer want
  • Flat backed magnet (see photo below at Step 6 – I recommend the business card sized magnets)
  • Various glues:
      white glue or gel medium
      E-6000 or Goop  (or perhaps Bostik in the UK)
  • Assorted papers you wish to use as the base of your mixed media art
  • All kinds of other materials to use as accents and embellishments

Step 1
Choose a CD you wish to use and decide which side of it is going to have your art created on it and which will be the back (to which the magnet will be adhered).  I generally try to leave the clean side of the CD for the back and use the written side (or label side) on which to create the art since it’s going to be covered up anyway.  Because I sell most of my CD art, I like the back to look as good as it can.  In the image below you’ll see I have two CDs along with the plastic liner that is on the top of the new stack of CDs when you open the package.  Might as well use this too!

Step 2
Choose your paper that will become the base of your artwork.  You can use any kind of paper you like.  For demonstration purposes here I have chosen some mono-printed paper I made recently that had great green, blue and yellow tones for our spring theme here.  There is no restriction on what paper you use.  As you’ll see at the end of this post when I show some other examples of CD art, I’ve used all different kinds of paper. 

Glue the paper to the CD and allow it to dry before carefully trimming the excess paper away from around the edges of the CD.  I like to use either a heavy-bodied white glue (I used Aleene’s Tacky Glue here) or a fairly heavy gel medium.  Don’t use your gluestick.  It won’t have the strong adhesion you’ll want for this application. 

Once cut out, check around the edges of the CD to make sure you have good adhesion to the paper.  Use a toothpick with a small dab of white glue to tack down any spots you might have missed.  Here’s what my two example pieces look once they were cut out.

Step 3
At this point, depending on the paper I am using, I often put a coat or two of Mod Podge or some other water-based sealant on the front of the CD to protect the paper, before I start building my art on top of it.  Allow to dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 4
Now the fun begins!  Here’s where you can create anything you want to make your CD art.  In the examples below, I have made little collaged persons out of a variety of images and surrounded them with some colorful springtime flowers and a matching quote.  I’ve glued these onto the CD with a glue stick (generously applied).   

Step 5
It’s up to you how much you add to your CD or what you add.  The sky is the limit!  I am a firm believer that I will just “know” when a piece is done and I don’t fuss about it too much.  If you aren’t sure if you need to add more stuff to it, set it aside for a day and then come back to it.   In these two examples I have deliberately NOT added too much to them because I wanted the funky background to show well.

Be sure to run some of your added images/stuff off the edges of the CD and then trim away the excess (see the background flowers I’ve used in my examples).  This gives your piece a more natural look, I think. 

When you are all done with adding flat elements to the CD, give it several coats of Mod Podge or gel medium or some other kind of sealant.  Magnets tend to take a bit of wear and tear and although art magnets should not be handled too much, it doesn’t hurt to give them a fighting chance by coating them several times.  I normally put on about five coats in total.

NOTE:  If you choose to add three dimensional bits and pieces, or anything heavy, be sure to use your E-6000 or Goop glue.

Step 6
When everything is dry, flip the CD over and take one of your business-card magnets, peel off the backing paper to reveal the sticky side of the magnet and adhere it to the back of the CD.  I usually position mine centrally to cover the hole of the CD.  Then, I clean up the back side of any paint or glue.  

That’s it, you’re done!  How easy was that?  These art magnets are so much fun to make and they do become quite addictive.  They make great presents for friends and family and who doesn’t have a boring file cabinet at work that needs a bit of artsy pizzazz.

Below are some other examples of CD art magnets and ornaments I have made.  In each case, I have described the process I went through and the materials I used.  You’ll see you are not limited to using just paper as I’ve shown here in this lesson. 

In the next example I had my husband drill two small holes on one side of the CD so that I could make it a hanging art ornament.  I spray painted the CD black and then did some textural painting in gold on it, added a couple of stamped images (sheet music in background and the central characters.  The purple musical notes, wire and beads are all salvaged materials.

The next two examples are similar to our project today, just using a variety of papers and images.  The second one has a loop hanger made of ribbon which I just tucked in behind the magnet as I attached it to the back of the CD for two display options.

The next example really shows you how far you can go if you let your imagination soar.  Again, I had my husband drill two holes in the CD so I could hang it by the salvaged wire with the reclaimed beads.  The CD was spray painted black and then stamped with silver and copper acrylic paints.  I also used old puzzle pieces, a bit of corrugated cardboard and reclaimed dressmaker’s pattern paper in this collage.  The butterfly and face are recycled jewelry bits and I also used an old watch face.

In the next image you’ll see that I did some Zentangle doodling right onto the gold colored CD with a permanent black marker.  I made the central face image out of molded polymer clay and highlighted it with a piece of sparkly scrap fabric around it for some textural interest.

The next two examples are similar to our project today, just using a variety of papers and images. 

The last image is another of those that had holes drilled in it so it could hang.  Again, spray painted black and then stamped with silver ink.  The central piece (the star face) is molded Friendly Plastic, accented with funky fibers for her hair and a bottlecap image on top.

Well, folks, that’s the end of the lesson.  I hope you enjoyed it and that you can see how easy it is to create fun, artsy projects and gifts using your old CDs.  It’s a great feeling to keep stuff out of our landfills.   It’s an even greater feeling to turn that stuff into something to treasure!


Visit me at:

What a fabulous tutorial.  Thank you Joanna. 

Don't forget to add a link to your version of Joanna's recylced CD.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

April Zine

This month we only need to create our April double page spread.  If you haven't made your Zine yet then go to the tutorial from last month.  There's also the second part of the tutorial and the Zine that I made on my blog.

I stamped on the ready made background using Dylusions stamps.

And stamped the leaves to look like overhanging trees. I painted them using a small brush and some Dylusions ink from the bottle.

I coloured in the birds using Inktense crayons.  I printed out the Bible verse and inked round the edges before sticking them down.

I love making these little pages.

Don't forget to link what you do in your Zine using the linky below.  I look forward to seeing your page.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Flower of the Month: Primrose

A warm welcome to regular Flower of the Month contributor, Susan Ernst.

Primrose – Primula species
Now the bright morning star, day’s harbinger
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
The flowering May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow Cowslip and the pale Primrose.
                            -from Song of May Morning by Milton

Primrose, first-born child of Ver
Merry spring-time’s harbinger,
With her bells dim.
-from Two Noble Kinsmen by Shakespeare

Primula as a genus or plant group, has over 500 species and are classified and arranged into various groups. Information on these classifications can be found starting here.  We will take a look at those most common and familiar.

The English Primrose, Primula vulgaris (Latin for “first one” and “abundant or common”, respectively), has been the quintessential harbinger of spring in Britain, as evidenced in the writings of Milton, Shakespeare and numerous other writers of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. 

Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932), famous British landscape designer wrote:
“More than half a century has passed, and yet each spring, when I wander into the primrose wood and see the pale yellow blooms, and smell their sweetest of scents, . . . for a moment I am seven years old again and wandering in the fragrant wood.”

Forbes Watson, 19th century garden writer wrote:
 “It is the very flower of delicacy and refinement; not that it shrinks from our notice, for few plants are more easily seen, coming as it does when there is a dearth of flowers, when the first birds are singing, and the first bees humming, and the earliest green putting forth in the March and April woods; and it is one of those plants which dislikes to be looking cheerless, but keeps up a smouldering fire of blossom from the very opening of the year, if the weather will permit.”

The leaves of this plant, and all Primulas, grow in a basal rosette, meaning a cluster of leaves growing in a circle which remain close to the ground. The leaves are a light, fresh “spring green” color and are crinkled. The fragrant, pale yellow flowers rise singly on long stems. Purple and blue variations can sometimes be found growing wild.

As a flower of early spring, it is not surprising that in the Victorian Language of Flowers, primroses represented early youth and young love. It was said that if a young woman were to come across a primrose before Easter, while out in the fields, she would be married that year. In Catholic symbolism the primrose is a flower of mercy and compassion. If a sinner passed one by, the primrose would assist him and save his soul.

The Cowslip, Primula veris (Latin for “first of spring”), also mentioned by Shakespeare, bears clusters of small yellow blossoms held on a central stem above the rosette of crinkly bright green leaves.

The flower clusters resembled a bunch of golden keys and were once believed to point the way to hidden treasure and open the locks of castles. Another common name for this plant was Paigles, which was an old Anglo-Saxon term referring to St. Peter, who held the keys to the Kingdom of God. Himmelschusslechen is the German term for this plant and means “little keys to heaven.”

The primrose (including cowslip) was used medicinally through the centuries to treat several ailments, including as a sedative and to “strengthen the nerves.” It was used as a tonic for the complexion. In the kitchen, wine has been made from the flowers. Flowers are also candied and used to decorate cakes.  The flowers may be brewed into a tea or can be eaten fresh with cream. The leaves are added fresh to salads or boiled as a potherb.

Popular Primrose species cultivated as garden flowers are:

P. polyanthus – brightly colored flowers of pinks, blues, red, white and golds with a yellow center. These are the primroses most often seen in the United States.

P. auricula – available in many colors with a contrasting center. The leaves are evergreen. This variety was very popular during the Victorian era.

P.  japonica – this variety produces very tall stems holding large clusters of white, pink, crimson and purple flowers.

P. malacoides – Fairy Primrose – grown as an annual or potted plant, the small flowers in clusters on tall stems are available in pastel shades of pink, lavender and white.

Primroses grow best in rich moist soil in partial shade. 

(All photos are from Wikimedia Commons.)

Article written by Susan Ernst, Stratford, Connecticut, USA

Friday, 5 April 2013

A photo a month

Last month I introduced this monthly challenge.  Each month we take a photograph on the same day, at the same time, of the same place.

You choose a day or date and a place to suit you.  It could be taken from your front door, your back door, a particular place on your journey to work or on the school run.  It could be where you walk the dog.  Wherever it is, it needs to be a place you are at or near regularly.

Each month we will take a photo and over the year we will build up a picture of the changes in the seasons.   If you haven't already, I suggest you have a folder on your hard drive where you keep these photos so you can find them at the end of our 12 months together.

If you upload them to the Facebook group please add the photo to your album or if you are new please make an album with your name and a suitable title.  Thanks.

There's also a Flickr group if you don't have a blog or a Facebook account.

I've added a linky for you to add your photo or blog.