3d multicolour snowflakes ornaments – a tutorial


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Hi everyone,

I decided to post a brief tutorial on how the 3d ornaments from the previous post were made. The principle is to use modelling paste mixed with acrylic paint of your choice, a brass stencil and an object you wish to decorate.. obviously 🙂

Some time ago I did a similar tut., but this time the aim was to produce multicoloured ornaments. So here we go:

1. The reindeer was firstly inked with stamping pads in bisque, sand and pinecone (pads by Versacolor). I chose a snowflake stencil and decided to do several ornaments at one go, i.e. without moving the stencil around. Modelling paste (a tiny dollop – a small dessert spoon is enough) was mixed with 4 different acrylic paints and a small amount of iridescent medium:

2. Keeping the stencil laying flat (sometimes the masking tape is not enough to keep stencils flat enough for the paste not running under – press them with your fingers when applying the paste and then scraping it off with a spatula), I applied three ‘stripes’ of various colours onto the first pattern, scrapped the excess off to make it look neat and flat when the stencil is removed.

3. Moving onto the next one: staring from the middle and moving outwards in three steps:

4. When done with paste application, the stencil was lifted gently to reveal a set of multicoloured snowflakes that where left to dry overnight and later sealed with a coat of acrylic varnish.

Reindeer Christmas ornaments and a hat box


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Christmas is coming, everything around me reminds me of the festive time getting ready to settle down for a while. As for me, I don’t do much of Christmas crafting, perhaps I’m overwhelmed by the vast amount of bubbles, chains, trees, table decorations pouring out from every corner of the WWW (at least in the crafty world that is :).

But when I saw these blank and ready to decorate wooden reindeers in my local craft store I simply fall in love with them, and these are the first two of the bunch I got :):

South African hand made buttons and fabric decoupage – a tutorial


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At the beginning of October I was sent a set of heart shaped buttons, handmade by a talented group of women in South Africa. They are called Incomparable Buttons and you can see their beautiful creations here.

In return, they asked me, and other 14 lucky craft souls from around the world, to use their buttons in a crafting project of our choice, followed by posting a tutorial on how it was done. I chose a set of heart shaped buttons for my wedding box. I also planned to use a piece of cream linen to complement the earthy feel of the clay buttons. I very rarely say this about my creations but I absolutely love this box and everything about it :). The linen was a bliss to work with, embossing folders cooperated smoothly as stamps, and the colour scheme made a perfect background for the buttons. The only thing I’m not happy about are the photos. I was in a hurry to finish the piece before flying to the wedding, … rainy day, not a glimpse of sun.. you know how it is. Anyway, the couple loved their gift as well and that’s what matters most:

It took me ages to make up my mind which set of buttons I would like to use for my project, but eventually I decided to go with these ones:

Here’s a quick step-by-step:

1. Grab your Mod Podge, a piece of fabric and something you want to glue the fabric to. I used a blank wooden box, removed the hinges and the clasp and made sure it’s dust free.

2. I used antique white to prime the wooden surface prior gluing down the fabric so that the wood grain does not show through the linen. It dried quickly so the next step was to apply a medium thick layer of Mod Podge to the surface and let it set for a while. I took this moment to cut out a square from a linen tote bag I grabbed in my local craft store for a pound! The square had a 3 cm excess on each side for covering the sides and that small edge underneath. A small (and clean!) paint roller was perfect for smoothing the fabric, it allows to use even pressure with ease. Mod Podge does not bleed through, so you don’t have to worry about staining even the lightest material. At this stage I kept the edges loose.

3. I mixed Amish gray, spa blue and linen to create the colour I wanted to use for the next step: stamping with embossing folder. That’s right! Embossing folders work great as a background stamp. Recently I’ve been experimenting with ornamental textures; got ever so slightly bored with just plain paint painting :). And I’m crazy excited about embossing folders. I think I need to create a separate post on how to utilise them without embossing a single sheet of paper :).

For this project I used a stencil foam brush to apply the paint onto one side of an embossing folder. Pressing lightly, just as if I was stamping, I managed to create a pale turquoise background. The folder was too small to cover the entire surface so I had to move it four times. What are the biggest embossing folders, does anyone know?

4. The paint on the fabric dried quickly, so I was able to tidy up the sides with Mod Podge (really easy thing to do; fabric behaves better than any paper, it took me less then 10 min to have the edges finished). I folded the fabric in a way shown below, applied a thin layer of glue to each side and pressed the linen onto the sides – it does not take much pressure (or skill for that matter!) to have a stripe of linen fitting the sides perfectly. It also rolled nicely underneath onto the rim (the biggest picture below). Just note: when working on sides you first glue the longest part of the fabric and then apply some Mod Podge in between the creases on the corners and press down with your fingers again to ‘close’ the corner/side gluing process. There is no need to go with your glue over the linen. Actually, I wanted to use as little glue as possible to preserve the woven look and feel of the linen.

5. I could have left the cream colour of the linen as it was, but I was really eager to try out a little bit of distressing and see how linen absorbs ink pads (my favourite distressing tools). Also, at this stage I cut out a beautiful image of a coal tit from a paper napkin and glue it down with a bit of regular glue (Ocaldo friendly glue) and a flat brush.

6. I arranged the buttons and glued them down:

 7. Using the same paint trio as for the heart background, plus a drop of iridescent medium by Reeves (gives a finished piece a subtle opalescent shine) I painted the outside and the inside of the bottom part. Using pinecone, charcoal ink pads by Versa color and some bitumen I distressed the outer and inner corner/edges. I glued a small wooden heart coloured with pinecone/charcoal inks with 7Gypsies rub-ons saying Once upon a time to the inside of the lid. I finished the piece with only a couple of layers of satin varnish to preserve the roughness of the wood.

And that’s it! Happy crafting and if you need a bit of advice either on this project or on anything else, just drop me a line!

Go bold! Golden dragons ornaments on pink and turquoise background


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These two little hangers (I know.. you can’t see the hooks that would make them hangers:)) were decorated using Chinese scripture stamp and a brass stencil with a dragon motif for the 3d ornament. Modelling paste was mixed with acrylic gold and here’s a quick reminder of 3d ornament making process.

A steampunk box – a tutorial on building up textured background


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Hi all,

I keep floating more and more away from cutting out pieces of tissue and gluing them down. With each project I very rarely have a finished look in my head, or even if I do, I alter the concept, the colour scheme, etc. It was no different with this little box. Initially, I imagined a steampunk like piece of collage luring from underneath the glass with a few metal gear elements on top of the lid. The collage was created… and then never printed out. Btw, I love browsing the web for exciting vintage and quirky looking images, but once saved, they all end up on a ‘perhaps’ list (thank God for Picasa and its filing system).

So, the original idea aside, I reached for black and white clock rub-ons, a wooden clock embellishment and some clock stamps. I also wanted to play with building up a layer of freely applied metallic paint, later treated with bitumen, ink pads and cracked with a crackle glaze for an interesting texture effect. That’s how it turned out:

It is difficult to photograph, but distressing gave the surface a porous effect, and below you will find a tutorial on how it all came together. Should you have any questions about any of the steps, or perhaps you need a bit of advice on working with different mediums, please ask in the comment box and I would be delighted if I’m actually able to help.

1. Top lid removed and sides covered with a thick layer of metallic paint (it’s thicker, more flexible to work with than regular, non-metallic paint):

2. Lots of bitumen applied when the paint was semi dry (after about 20 min):

3. Bitumen was tapped into the paint with a sponge brush preserving the texture look and when it started to set it was gently wiped off with wet wipes (paper towel tends to stick to this highly viscous medium). The process was repeated several times on each side:

          1st layer of distressing – wet bitumen applied with dabbing motion:

2nd and 3rd application of bitumen:

textured effect achieved: (a touch of metallic copper was added)

In reality, distressing with bitumen gives different results each time. There are to many variables to predict exactly what the outcome is going to be. To illustrate this let me show you front and back of the box with the back being more ‘rough’;

the sides were further treated with chateau grey ink pad and varnished:

And now onto the top:

1. Again, a layer of gold metallic was applied generously as a base, ‘working’ coat:

2. A porous layer was created by applying paint in three different shades. Tine amount of a paint was gently tapped onto chosen spots (inside edges, corners only, etc.). The aim is try and not to blend the paint into the base colour, which is easier said then done since the base layer is thick and still wet. The wetness allows to create ‘peaks and ponds’, as I call this effect – peaks being glimpses of gold and ponds – darker shades – the whole, when covered (and flattened) with bitumen will give a porous texture.

3. Next, the frame was covered with bitumen 3 times; each time layer was left to dry up a bit before wiping off with a wet wipe.

porosity achieved!

4. A touches of crackle glaze were added to the porous surface. Any glaze behaves like varnish (more or less), so naturally the porosity was somewhat embedded into the thickness of the crackle glaze. And if you’re after small cracks here and there – go for DecoArt 1 step crackle (or any other one step crackle for that matter) instead of more laborious process of applying step 1 and then step 2 in a two step crackle glaze.

5. Cement and chateau grey ink pads completed the distressed look while the inside of the box was painted metallic gold (normal, thin layer), distressed with bitumen, and stamped (pinecone ink pad by Versacolor):

6. A part of Kaisercraft rub-ons set was arranged on the glass part of the top along with a wooden clock embellishment (again by Kaisercraft) and some brass ‘gear’ elements. The clock was coloured with ink pads and sealed with glossy varnish by Maimeri (thick enough not to run over the edges). The same varnish was also used to adhere the clock and the gear bits onto the lid. Before sealing the inside of the box with a thin layer of acrylic varnish, the stamped bottom was protected from smudging by a coat of polyurethane spray varnish.

That’s it! Again, contact me if there’s sth more you wish to know about this little project.

Have a great weekend!

Decoupage key box and a nifty peel off trick


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Some time ago I tried working with transfers and peel off. And while any image transferring techniques are highly appreciated and sought after (especially the fuss free ones 🙂 ), peel off are not so much appealing. Frames, borders – sure, they make nice finish elements in scrapbooking, but it seems they do not play to much of an important role when it comes to decoupage or mixed media altering. Still, they can provide great masking tools for interesting backgrounds.

And for this key box I used a whole sheet of flowery peel offs, painted the background (inside of the box) metallic cooper, let it dry and then arranged individual peel off stickers on top of it. You need to press firmly so that whatever medium you apply afterwards (paint, glaze, paste, bitumen etc.), it does not bleed underneath. Peel them off when your medium is still wet.

I painted the entire key cabinet metallic copper and when applied liquid bitumen in several layers (alternating brush strokes horizontally and vertically) I achieved a tiny cracks effect:

I mentioned image transferring earlier; the front of the cabinet was decorated with a transfer made with a help of a transfer medium. It is a gel that you apply onto an image of your choice in several layers – horizontally and vertically. When dry you dip it into a bowl of tepid water, let the paper soak up the water for a while (up to an hour), and then peel off the paper revealing a transparent film with your image imprinted. Great for intricate details or when you want a background to see through the image/images. Like here for example. It can be used with regular print outs (laser printers only), will not work with napkins and any other fine tissue or glossy pictures.

I used the medium here to layer up several tiny images onto a print out of art deco background:

As you can see, I was left with stained peel offs and it seemed a waste to just get rid of them, so I used several to frame the main picture. I regretted it almost instantly :). They just seem too much, I would have been with better off leaving my little collage as it was initially designed, but since I coated it immediately with a thick layer of glossy varnish it was too late. Well, it does not always come out to your liking, doesn’t it? 🙂

And on the subject of peel offs – a few weeks back I posted a tutorial on crackle glaze. That was the main feature of the post. But before the 2 step crackling medium was applied I decorated the background with lots of distressing (as usual) and relief paint ornaments. To produce an outline for the motifs I was planning to trace with relief paint I used rose pattern peel offs. Here’s a picture of rose motifs showing from underneath the second coat of paint:

And that’s what they looked like when traced with silver relief paint:

If you’re into hot embossing with powders, peel offs can be very useful when ‘drawing’ a motif to be embossed. Instead of using stamps that can be to detailed for crisp effect, you use a peel off as a ‘drawing base’ that you later trace with clear embossing marker.

Any questions? Something does not make much sense? 🙂 Please, ask in the comment box below. And, as usual, thanks for stopping by,


Blow up your A4 images for larger surfaces


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‘Upload an image from your computer and choose how many sheets wide
you would like your poster to be once printed’ – I’m quoting here this awesome site that provides a free, 3 simple steps online tool that allows you to ‘spread’ any A4 image into several bigger pictures as if creating A4 pieces puzzle set. Great when working on larger pieces of furniture for example.

Decoupage cameo tissue box


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I’ve recently spent considerable amount of time venturing into the worlds of amazing (and sometimes mysterious) items folks use when crafting. And with mixed media decoupage there is very little you wouldn’t be able to use really. It’s up to your taste basically, but all in all there are papers, embellishments, distressers, inks, stencils et cetera :). This list can go forever. And all of that has absolutely noting to do with the old fashioned, proper, decoupage. Hence mixed media decoupage. Here, the cliche phrase sky is the limit, is ever so true.. :), I’m not there yet … I keep trying, though :).

Here’s a cream and lace tissue box I finished varnishing yesterday: (don’t get me started on varnishing white (read: not fluff and dust resistant) surfaces… grrrr)

As far as trying out new ‘tools’, I tried out pressing embossing folder (like this one) onto the top of a tissue box covered with a 2 mm layer of acrylic paint mixed with a tiny bit of modelling paste. I wanted to emboss the background texture, so that I’m left with a slightly raised ornament. So far I’ve been using brass embossing stencils for 3d ornaments (or reliefs), but there is always only a single image you are able to produce. And I was after a whole surface having a textured feel. That’s what I managed to achieve:

I used Versacolor ink pads (cement and pine cone) to add depth to the impressed image.

I also played a little bit with brown gold relief paint and glossy varnish, both by Maimeri, to create a quasi cameos in a quasi brass frame on each side of the box:

The cameo image was cut out from a paper napkin (and that’s the only decoupage bit here :)).

Is anyone else out there using those beautiful embossing folders for something else then embossing on paper? I’m dying to learn new stuff, so please share! 🙂

Aubrey Beardsley – a modest homage in a form of a decoupage box


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Died only at the age of 25, Beardsley mastered an art of drawing with ink and pen. He is recognized for his superb illustrations of erotic and macabre images, published in high-profile magazines back in the late 19th century. The drawing I used to alter this box was taken from a second hand book that I was lucky to come across in our local Oxfam shop in Reading. It is called The Peacock Skirt.

I mixed grey, white and black acrylic paint with modelling paste, smoothed the mixtures onto a butterfly brass embossing stencil and scraped off the excess with an old credit card. Here’s a close up of a raised butterfly ornament:

The sides were also decorated with a brass stencil and a modelling paste mixed with black acrylic paint. I did not paint the rims though, instead I used a few stripes of paper normally used for quilling, also known as paper filigree. I painted a few of those gold and black and glued them onto the sides and also inside of the box.