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Welcome

Welcome! Artfully Musing is a blog dedicated to sharing art and the techniques and products used. I'll be showcasing collage, altered and mixed media art. I have giveaways of my art and lots of free tutorials. I hope you'll check back often and are inspired. Thanks for visiting! Laura

Saturday, March 14, 2015

MARIE IN WONDERLAND & NEW ELEGANT FRAMES DIGITAL IMAGE SET

For the month of March at Alpha Stamps it’s all about Marie Antoinette in Wonderland.  In imagining Marie in Wonderland, I envisioned the residents seeing her outrageous outfit and wanting to get in on the act; which meant, mixing the Wonderland character’s heads with Rococo style bodies and wigs.
For the Queen of hearts I used the dress and wig from the “How’s My Hair” collage sheet and her head is from the “Were all Mad Here" collage sheet”.  Instead of the little dog sitting on the back of the dress (as in the collage sheet) I used the Cheshire cat with wig from the sheet.
The hatter’s head is from the “Were all Mad Here” collage sheet and the body is from the “French Ballet Costumes” collage sheet.
Marie is, of course, at the center of everything, even outdoing the Queen of hearts.  She is holding her cakes and behind her dress is a box top containing a paper clay cupcake.
The White Rabbit’s head and Tweedle Dee & Dum are from the “Were all Mad Here” collage sheet.  The White Rabbit’s body is from the “French Ballet Costumes” collage sheet and Tweedle Dee and Dum’s hats are from the “How’s My Hair” collage sheets.  To make Tweedle Dee & Dum blend better with the color scheme of the piece, I used a color pencil to change their yellow pants to pink.
As a backdrop for the characters I used three frames from my new “Elegant Frames” digital image set.

I decided that I needed more frames to play with so I’ve created a new digital set of frames as an addition to the Antique Frames set I created a few years ago.  This set contains 20 frames that are great for backdrops or for use as architectural elements.  I’ve used two of the frames as backdrops for the Marie in Wonderland piece.
Digital files can be resized, rotated or flipped as needed.  The files are in a .png format.  PNG formatted files have a transparent background making it easy to layer an image over other digital images.  You can open .png files using graphic programs like Photoshop Elements.  Digital collage sheets and digital images can be saved to your computer and printed as many times as you wish.
PHOTOS OF THE ALTERED CHARACTERS
To make the bodies, heads and wigs fit each other I had to alter the sizes of some of the images.  If you missed it, I have a video on YouTube that shows you how to take a snapshot of an image from a collage sheet and then resize the image.  You might find this helpful if you don’t have a graphics program like Photoshop with which to modify images.

For those of you who resize your images in Photoshop, you might find as you enlarge or shrink an image you lose the clarity or resolution of the image.  This is particularly true when working with a really small image.  One of the things I do is use the “Reduce Noise” feature.  If you are not familiar with this feature, you’ll find it by clicking on the “Filter” option on the menu bar and then clicking on the “Noise” option.  There are multiple options on the “Noise” popup menu, one of which is “Reduce Noise”.
I chose 2 frames from the Elegant Frames digital set.  The large one on the right is approximately 8” tall and is exactly the size it is in the image set.  The other frame which I printed twice was reduced to 90% of its original size from the image set.  I reduced it by the 10% to make the scale of the smaller frames work better with the larger frame.  The smaller frame (after reduction) is approximately 5” tall.
To make the frames more rigid and sturdy, I glued the images to thin chipboard and then to decorative paper (so the piece would look pretty from the back).
I decorated the center frame with iridescent ribbon and embellishments made from paper clay that are painted with Rose Gold Liquid Pearls and then on the high points, lightly brushed with Brass Liquid Pearls .
I used four different silicone molds packed with all kinds of goodies that you can use again and again for art projects .  
Below you can see the Architectural Flourishes Mold which I used for the top of the center frame.
The small embellishment at the top of the center piece is from the Symmetrical Ornaments Mold.
Behind Marie’s dress is the lid of a paper mache box papered on the inside and out and trimmed with gold Dresden.
For the cupcake I used a 3D Tea Party Silicone Mold.  One of the coolest things about this mold is that you can make two of the same items, glue them together and you have a 3D piece.
To decorate the cupcake I painted it using Liquid Pearls and then for sprinkles I used micro beads. 
For the embellishment at the top of the side frames I used the Symmetrical Ornaments Mold (shown above) and ribbon.
To attach the frames to the each side of the center piece and to make them curve inward (which makes the piece stand on its own), I made wedges from chipboard.
The size of the wedges depends upon where you want to attach them.  Make them small enough that they are hidden by the frame.  I started by cutting two thin strips of lightweight chipboard.  Next, I started bending them into the shape of a wedge.  I bent the chipboard 3 times which gives you 4 sides.  Three sides make the wedge and the fourth side is used to glue the wedge to itself.  Lastly, after gluing the wedge together, snip away the excess chipboard strip.
I painted the wedges with Brass Liquid Pearls and glued them in place on the back of the smaller frames.
Next, glue the wedges on the smaller frames to the large center frame.
Now all three pieces are combined with the outside frames curving slightly inward causing the piece to stand without support.
ALPHA STAMPS PRODUCTS USED FOR THIS PROJECT
French Ballet Costumes Collage Sheet – Mad Hatter’s and White Rabbit’s bodies
Marie Takes Tea Collage Sheet – Marie, teacup and cakes
How’s My Hair Collage Sheet – Red Queen’s Dress, wigs and hats
Creative Paper Clay

Sunday, March 1, 2015

REGENCY CAROUSEL

This is a project I started over a year ago when I created the “Letters from the Past &“Day’s Gone By” collage sheets.  I finished it up this past summer and just haven’t gotten around to posting it.
The core of the piece is made from a round box and a sea salt container.
I covered the top and bottom with decorative paper.  For the center I used a scene from the Day’s Gone By digital image set.
Around the top piece I used lace, chipboard, brass swans, flat backed pearls, and images from the collage sheets that are framed in a piece of brass.
For the top I used a curtain rod finial.
Two of the ladies are sitting on swing seats that are made from a piece of filigree hanging from the top.
To figure out where to hang the filigree swings, I marked where the center column would go, spaced the filigree equally around the column and marked the holes for the chain.  
I used jump rings to attach the chain to the filigree.
I used an eye pin to attach the chains to the top piece.  The loop of the eye pin is attached to the chain and poked through the holes I marked earlier.  I slipped a blue bead over the end of the eye pin, snipped away the excess and looped the pin over the bead to hold it in place.  Note the blue beads with the loop in the picture below.
Lastly, I glued an eye pin to the bottom of the filigree and then poked the other end through the center column, which kept the filigree (swing seat) level when I glued the ladies in place.  If you are not adding something to the swing seat that would make it off balance, you don't need to do this.
Along the bottom of the carousel I added ribbon, flowers, lace and fabric trim.  At the very bottom is a wooden base and beneath the base I attached a Lazy Susan hardware so that the carousel would turn.
For you Marie Antoinette and Alice in Wonderland fans it’s Marie in Wonderland all month at Alpha Stamps so you can guess what you’ll be seeing here on my blog this month.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cigar Box Chests by Creative Team Members Julia Craighead and Marilyn Miller

In this post, I have some beautiful chests to share with you made by sisters Julia and Marilyn.
JULIA’S CHEST
Julia’s chest is brimming with gold, red and sparkle.
She used 3 cigar boxes to build her chest.
The first box opens from the top and the second box has a drawer that pulls open.
The boxes are decorated beautifully both inside and out and accented with brass hardware, glass knobs and brass feet.
The front panel on the bottom box opens for access to the box.

MARILYN’S CHEST
Marilyn went for a vintage style for her chest.
The first box opens on the top.  The box already had an extra flap inside the box which she left in place.
Just as Julia’s chest does, Marilyn’s chest has a drawer in the second box and the front panel opens on the bottom box.
Thanks ladies for sharing your beautiful work!  I’m lucky as I saw them in person and the pictures don’t do them justice.

If you missed the tutorial on making a cigar box chest here is the link.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

THREE GLASS BOOKS with TUTORIALS - NEW COLLAGE SHEETS and DIGITAL IMAGE SET

Is it too early for spring projects?  I hope not because in this post I have three handmade books for you that feature nature and glass.  I’ll share the details of how I made each of the books.  I’ve also been super busy creating 5 new nature themed collage sheets and a digital image set.
The Land of the Butterfly Queen
In the land of the Butterfly Queen, where a soft breeze moves through the leaves, tinkling sounds of flowers and whispering wings fill the glistening air.
Sparkling water cascades down rocks, splashing towards a pond in the meadow below.
The scent of sweet grass perfumes the air, while delicate warm tendrils of sunlight peek through the trees.
And all in the land wake to a new day and sigh in contentment.
The path to the “Land of the Butterfly Queen” has been a twisted one.  I’ve been itching to do something danced themed, which led to creating collage sheets with dancing ladies and the need for stuff to go with them.  Then I started thinking about butterflies dancing around and next thing I knew my dancing ladies had turned into butterflies.  So now I needed large butterflies for wings and of course I needed crowns and decided that ladies that were butterflies would need fancy crowns made from natural things around them.  I think I was also channel King Julien from Madagascar with his crazy crowns.  And so here we are in the "Land of the Butterfly Queen".  I looked for some poems that would fit but no luck, so I just wrote something myself.
In addition to the large chunky book pictured above, there are two tiny miniature glass books that feature flowers and butterflies.

NEW COLLAGE SHEETS & DIGITAL IMAGE SETS
You can find all of collage sheets and digital image sets at Alpha Stamps.
The sheets contain lovely dancing ladies with beautiful crowns, butterflies, flowers, birds, and snails.  In the "Land of the Butterfly Queen" chunky book, I turned them into butterflies by adding wings and into queens by adding crowns.
This sheet features 7 different crowns in three different sizes.
This sheet is packed with butterflies and moths.  The larger butterflies make great wings for the dancing ladies.
The smaller panels are sized to fit the 1” x 2” glass slides but are also perfect for domino books.

The Butterflies and Moths digital image set contains 26 colorful butterflies and moths.  Digital files can be resized, rotated or flipped as needed.  The files are in .png format.  PNG format files have a transparent background so are easy to layer over other digital images.  You can open .png files using most image management programs like Photoshop Elements.  Digital collage sheets and digital images can be saved to your computer and printed as many times as you wish.

TINY GLASS 1 ½” SQUARE HINGED BOOK
This tiny book is made from 3 pieces of glassThere is no significance in my selection of 3 pieces.  You can make your book as large as you like.
I started by wrapping the edges of the glass with gold stickers.  Start the sticker in the middle of one side and begin wrapping.  As you wrap pull slightly and then press the sticker in place (I used a bone folder) to make sure it stays in place.  Overlap the start of the sticker with the end.  I used a little glue (Glossy Accents) to keep the end piece in place over the start.  Snip away any extra sticker to use later.

FRONT COVER
Next, I added the butterfly which is a rub-on transfer.  Apply the transfer just like you would to paper.  Make sure the glass is clean before applying the rub-on.  I use a Q-Tip dipped in Windex to clean the glass.  Be careful not to let the Windex get under the stickered edge or it will dissolve the adhesive.
I added stickers to the edges of the glass and then using a tiny bit of E6000 I glued brass bows over the stickers.
Finally I glued a hinge using E6000 to the backside of the glass.  In the picture it is hard to see but it is behind the glass not on top - this is important.  The placement of the hinges I used gives you the most space for embellishments.
MIDDLE PAGE
To decorate the middle page I used a butterfly printed on vellum and embossed.  I chose vellum for its translucency.

I printed the Butterflies & Moths collage sheet on vellum.
Next, I rubbed and tapped the VersaMark pad over all of the images on the collage sheet.  I then sprinkled clear embossing powder on the sheet.  The VersaMark will make the embossing powder stick to the sheet.
Lastly, I used a heat gun to melt the embossing powder.  To get the best results, use the gun under the vellum as opposed to on top.  To prevent burning, keep the gun constantly moving.  Once you melt the powder, if possible, don’t melt it again as it may begin to warp.
The end result is a shiny translucent image.  I used the small green butterfly on the sheet for the middle page.  You’ll see me use most of the remaining butterflies in the large chunky book.
I used branch connectors glued to the corners for additional decoration.
NOTE:  As you are making decisions about how to embellish the pages keep in mind what you want to see as you look through each page, the thickness of the embellishment based on the size of the hinge, and how embellishments extend beyond the page.
The last step is to glue the hinge that is attached to the back side of the front page, to the front side of the middle page.  Make sure that the front and middle glass lines up.  In the picture you can also see a hint of the last page – just ignore it.  Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture before I attached the last page.

BACK COVER
The back cover is stamped, embossed and then painted with Liquid Pearls.

I used the beautiful Springtime Robin stamp pictured below as it has all kinds of details that look good on small pieces of glass.  I’ll be using that again for the large chunky book.
First, I inked up the stamp with a Black Staz-On ink pad.
Since I’m working with such a small surface (glass) and I want to choose the part of the stamp to use, I lay the stamp on it’s back and then place the glass on the stamp. 
Next, I use a clear stamp handle (you can use anything flat) and my hand, to press the glass to the stamp, to transfer the image.  I used the tip of an X-acto knife to gently lift the glass from the stamp.
Tips:  Keep the gun moving and once the powder is melted don’t re-melt it.  This will prevent the glass from getting too hot and cracking.  Don’t worry if you make a mistake with stamping or embossing as you can scrape everything off with liquid (I use Windex) and a razor blade; then start over again.
I used Liquid Pearls to add color to some of the images.  By embossing the glass the raised areas act as a resist and make it easier to paint between the lines.  
Once you are happy with how your back page looks, you can attach it to the middle page.  First, glue the hinge to the backside of the middle page and allow it to dry.  Next, glue the hinge to the front side of the back page.  
TIP: You can use Q-tip dipped in Windex to remove any excess glue from the hinges.
For the final touches, I used the Birds & Butterflies mold and paper clay to make embellishments.  I used one of the birds on the back page and I used the other pieces on the other books.  Further down, I’ll go into more detail on making clay embellishments from silicone molds.

I also added the bow connectors to the bottom of the back glass so that they matched the front glass and the book can stand.
In the picture below you can see how the hinges and glass are lined up.
Alpha Stamps products used for this project:
Tiny Curved Hinges – Used 2
Tiny Dragonfly Beads – On back cover
Dazzles Gold Thin Lines Stickers – Used to edge glass
Victoriana Rub-Ons – Butterfly on front cover
Used on back cover:
Liquid Pearls – Peacock – Paper clay bird
Liquid Pearls – Ivy Green – Tiny dragonfly

TINY GLASS 1” x 2” RECTANGULAR ACCORDION FOLDED GLASS BOOK
This book is made by hinging 8 rectangular pieces of glass together to make an accordion folded book.  You can use any number of glass pieces that you like, just as long as you use an even number.
In the picture below, you can see how pretty the panels are when the light passes though the vellum embossed images.  They look very much like stained glass.
The first step was to print 6 of the small panel images from the Floral Panelcollage sheet on vellum.  The small panels are sized to fit the glass. 
Next, just as I did with the Butterflies & Moths sheet, I coated the images with VersaMark, sprinkled on clear embossing powder and used a heat gun to melt the powder. 
I attached the images to the glass by painting the entire surface with a light coating of Glossy Accents.  I put a weight over the glass to make sure the image was flat on the glass while it dried.
Just as with the square book, I edged the glass with stickers.  In addition to the stickers on the edges I also add the same stickers to the front to create a frame around the image.
You’ll notice in the picture below that only the six glass pieces in the middle of the book have the embossed versions of the floral panels.  For the two end pieces used regular paper versions on the fronts and backs of the glass. You could alternatively cut chipboard for the ends but it was so easy just to use two of the pieces of glass.
Once your glass pieces are ready, you can start putting them together with hinges.
Notice the placement of the hinges.  This picture is of the inside of the book (the side with the embossed images).  The hinges alternate between the inside of the book and the outside of the book.
In the picture below notice the placement of the hinges.  This picture is of the back of the book.  You’ll notice that images look hazy as you are seeing them through the glass.
I used a gold braid to tie the book closed (it’s not attached).  On the ends of the braid I added two birds from the Birds & Butterflies mold attached with a jump ring.  You can either careful poke a hole in the clay after it is dries or put something round in the clay while it is drying to keep a hole open.  The jump ring fits through the hole and then the braid is tied to the jump ring.
Alpha Stamps products used for this project:
Butterflies Collage Sheet or the Digital Set
Small Gold Hinges – Used 7
Dazzles Gold Thin Lines Stickers – Used to edge glass
Creative Paper Clay – Bird ties

LAND of the BUTTERFLY QUEEN
LARGE 5” x 7” CHUCKY BOOK WITH EMBEDDED GLASS
The centerpiece of the cover of the book is a piece of glass that is stamped, embossed and painted.  The cover of the book is made from three pieces of chipboard.  The center piece holds the glass and the front and back pieces keep the glass in place by creating a sandwich.
I used a piece of glass that came from a picture frame.  I stamped the glass using the Floral Birdcagestamp (which I think is fabulous) and black Staz-on ink. 
I immediately sprinkled clear embossing powder on the wet stamped image, tapped off the excess and melted the powder with a heat gun.  The same tips apply (for embossing) that I mention above in the square glass book tutorial.

I use the glass to determine the size of the hole which I cut with a box cutter and metal ruler.  The chipboard should be the thickness of the glass you use.  You can always glue together multiple pieces of chipboard if you need it to be thicker.  It is ok if the hole is a little larger than your glass, as the front and back pieces of chipboard will keep the glass from sliding around.
Notice, I also mark and punch the holes that I will use for assembling the book.
Next, I cut the front and back pieces out of lightweight chipboard. The hole in these pieces needs to be smaller than the hole in the center piece.  I wanted to cover a lot of the blank space on the glass so I made my holes ½" inch smaller all the way around. 
I traced the hole from the center piece onto the front and back pieces.  I also marked the assembly holes to punch.
Next, I measure in ½” inch in on all sides to come up with the smaller hole.  I cutout the smaller holes and punched the assembly holes.
Below you can see the front and back pieces with the smaller holes.
TIP: When deciding the size of the front and back piece holes, make sure that the hole is at least 1/8” (all the way around) smaller than the center hole.  This will insure that your glass will be held in place in the center piece by the front and back pieces.
Next, I covered the front and back pieces with paper (only the side that will show).
Finally, place the glass in the middle piece and glue the front and back pieces in place.  I used Glossy Accents.
I painted the glass with a combination of Alcohol Ink and Liquid Pearls.  I also added microbeads to the centers of the roses.  It’s your choice to paint the glass before sandwiching it in the chipboard or after.
The next major thing I added was paper clay embellishments made from Ornaments& Settings mold (look at all the yummy stuff on this one).
I started by pressing paper clay into the mold.  I used a metal edge ruler to scrape away some of the excess clay.  Next, I used a roller to make sure the clay was flat in the mold.
Since the pieces are so small, I leave them in the mold to dry.  Once dry, I file away all of the excess bits of clay using the Precision File Set pictured below.  I purchased this set years ago and this is one set of tools I use constantly.  I use it to file paper, chipboard and clay.  The skinny files are soooo great to get into tiny spaces.


Below, you can see the pieces cleaned up and ready for color.  I decide to rub the pieces I used in this book with Inca Gold Gilders Paste as the white of the clay coordinated well with the color scheme.
You are going to see me do a lot more with molds in the coming months as in addition to the two molds I’ve used in these projects there are some really beautiful and useful molds coming up.
For the butterfly queens (and I ended up with more than one or maybe some are the queen’s ladies in waiting) I used wings from the Butterflies & Moths collage sheets and digital image set.  All of the wings are printed on vellum but not all are embossed.  For the queen on the cover, there are two of the same wing with one being embossed and one not.
Of course, I loaded up every page with tons of embellishments and images from the new collage sheets.
On most pages, some of the embellishments and images go off the edge of the page.  As you lay out your pages, be mindful of what will be seen from other pages.  Also, make sure you don’t cover the punch holes that you'll use to bind the pages together.  
The pages that do not have embedded glass are made from a piece of chipboard covered with paper.
Notice, that I put the writing behind the decorative paper and then tore the paper away to expose the writing.
On the page below, instead of embedding one piece of glass I embedded three.  The glass is the same square glass I used in the tiny square glass book above.  I used the same process to cut holes in three pieces of chipboard as I did for the glass on the cover page.  I stamped images from Springtime Robin stamp and the Butterfly Trio stamp on to the glass pieces.  I decide to leave one hole open and attach an owl.  There is an owl on both sides of the page.
On the back side of the page I added a clay embellishment that I made from the Butterfly Trio stamp.
I used a roller to roll out a piece of clay larger than the stamp.  I then pressed the stamp into the clay.  Once the clay was dry (make sure to keep it flat as it dries or it will warp), I used the filing tools and scissors to remove the excess.
The round embellishment at the bottom is made by gluing a round piece of decorative paper to a piece of filigree, stamping a round piece of glass and attaching it to the filigree with Glossy Accents. The glass is edged with the same sticker as the square glass pieces in the two tiny books.
To bind the book together I used a large needle threaded with two ribbons and stitched up the book like the laces of a shoe.

Alpha Stamps products used for this project:
IMAGES
PAPERS
GLASS/STAMPS/MOLDS
EMBELLISHMENTS
FLOWERS/LEAVES
RIBBON/LACE/DRESDEN
PAINT/INKS/TOOLS