Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A few things here and there


Chairman Mau – had me at “I made this work bench and set it up in the middle of my house so that you can have space to do your stuff”.DSC01569

I have been spending time at my current favourite person’s place in the Drakensberg.  That’s him over there –>

DSC_0208r <--This is the majestic Drakensberg.

Beside him being just the most awesomest, coolest, nicest, sweetest, adorable and best person to be around, and the fact that he introduces to all his other super duper cool artisan friends – (including a metal sculptor who plays a mean guitar and lives in what can only be described as the best real life Hobbit-come-Hogwarts house – another post on that later.)  DSC01549

DSC01561The Chairman himself is a rabid crafter – he makes super beautiful things with rocks, gems, crystals and wood. Like this rad piece around my neck that he gave me (how could anyone resist adoring someone who does something beautiful randomly because he can – and then gives it to you?), and also pretty much all the furniture you see there is handmade by the Chairman. 

Snapshot 2 (2013-12-18 01-20 AM)BUT for me the bestest best part about the Chairman is that he totally gets my OCD (Obsessive Crafting Disorder).  So much so that he cleared out places at his place and set up work benches and shelf space so that I can have loads and loads of space to create and places to put all my stash when I’m there – how freaking awesome is that?

I mean check out above this cool craft-central station he got going for me - and then there was shelf space behind it for all my toys!!!!  Swoon swoon swoon goes me.

The other fabulous thing about knowing him is that he owns a store that showcases and sells handmade craft items with an African Theme. The store is called Living Art Gems – it is situated in a little centre winterton12thokozisa-(9)wcalled Thokozisa in Champagne Valley near Champagne Castle. Pop on over there if you’re in South Africa – the Berg is fabulous and this centre is too cute – but more interestingly – he has an incredible selection of rocks, semi-precious stones, crystals, fossils and turtle-poo from the dinosaur era – FOR FREAKING REAL.


thokozisa-(13)wSnapshot 7 (2013-12-18 01-34 AM)Snapshot 8 (2013-12-18 01-34 AM)Snapshot 3 (2013-12-18 01-31 AM)Snapshot 5 (2013-12-18 01-32 AM)Snapshot 4 (2013-12-18 01-32 AM)

Snapshot 6 (2013-12-18 01-32 AM)

Anyway, being the awesome guy that he is – he has taken a whack load of cards I made and put it in his shop.  But they weren’t entirely in keeping with the theme of the shop or the location.  So I decided to do a few more (since I had the whole craft station at my disposal and all) and these are the one’s that I came up with. 

DSC01579It is a collection that is called Cathkin Peak, as the series has the peak in its background.  I was inspired by this jaw dropping view, that I painted, dyed, stamped, drew and distressed with distress ink, distress markers and distress paint (big kudos for Tim Holtz here – hope he finds this post some time cos I really-really got into the full scope of potential and variety of usage all these great mediums in this card series and I want him to know how freaking amazing I think these products are and to see how brilliantly they worked out for me.

I tried to choose elements for the embellishments that I noticed in and around the area to keep the integrity of the theme.  Here are my efforts – hope you like them, and if you do – and want them – you can get them at the Chairman’s shop.  (I’m still trying to convince him that he needs an online presence)

DSC_0282DSC_0277 DSC_0286DSC_0281




Last note – I know that I usually share my designs and instructions, however this time I feel that I cant tell you that you are free to copy as it is going in the Chairman’s shop and I have given him the exclusive right to sell the series – thus please dont copy.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Hamba Kahle our beloved Tata Madiba

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

“The greatest glory in living, lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Long overdue post

I haven't updated this blog in a while.  I have been on journey of rediscovery and part of the reason that I have been scarce with crafty updates is that I have been focusing my creative energy on re-cultivating stronger social bonds.  So I have been entertaining and I have been entertained and my weekends and free time have been pleasantly filled up.

  This has been a wonderful turning point in my life – I should rather say “returning point”.  Every day has been a gift of familiarity and remembrance of what and who I am before I lost my ground and tried to shift my direct experience of me into something that was not me.  I have lost a few years of my life to the dark shell of who I let myself become - I almost started to forget what it was like to be me.  But I am finding my feet again and I am so blessed to have reconnected with people who bring out the best in me.

A student of mine was going through a hard time recently.  As I listened to her disillusionment,I recognised myself (as I was at the beginning of the year).  Once I did get back on track I wished I could have avoided that path of self-inflicted misery and thought had I only had the insight that I do now, I could've been much happier earlier. So having been in a similar existential predicament and that my role as defacto guidance counselor demanded that I offer some kind of advice I was trying to find a way to describe how to get to the liberating route that I eventually allowed myself to take – without her having to spend as much time, effort and heartache as I did.   

During my inward journey over the last 6 months - I have been able to come fully into a few simple things – No one could ever have the power to turn off your own light.  Sometimes though, someone could blow at it really hard because your light is too bright for the darkness that they choose to hide themselves in.  They can try to put out the light that is in you, but they will never be able to if you don’t let them.  Sometimes it takes a harsh gust of reality to make you realise that your light will never be able to bring light or light up something that is in self-contained darkness.  In that case you should not blame yourself for not being able to light up the dark.  Like belongs with like. Lights belong with other lights.You just have to get up and go shine with like light kind.  

When your light is recharged by another equal light, you will shine much brighter there.  It will feel different, you will feel yourself shining, you will never have to dim your light- you will just shine – you will feel the warm, giddy glow from within immediately and you will know that you are where you are meant to beam.  

Anyway, I felt a little moved to share that.  I believe that when I have the urge to share as such, that it is a direct prompt from whatever it is that connects our souls and that it is speaking to me to share so that it can be seen, felt or heard, by the right person at the right time.  The way things I see or read are the right things at the right time for me.

Since I have been focussing my energy on reflection – I have also redirected my creative urges in written musings as opposed to ink, paint and crayons – so I thought that I might share this short rambling that I wrote in lieu of something to look at – just to keep something of continuity going on and to let your imagination gift you with your own imagery.

 Gift of the Crucible
Now that I have found my way
I am coming home speedily
To who I am in all my divinity
without hearing that I ought not to see
that I am the potter,
the sculptor of me
I am the best judge of what it means to be
and find myself grateful
for that crucible
that now yields
my glittering metal.
I sparkle survive
Emerging more alive

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Shoppe Window Cardie for Mum!

awning window 017
Just a quick post today to show you this card that I had so much fun making.  For Mother's day (you will remember if you read this blog) that I made the dresser card (here is the backlink to that post  So I thought it would be kinda fun to keep that brickwall theme.  I am envisioning that eventually mum will have a collection of  brickwall room cards, for every room in a fantasy house.

A week or so ago Redanne posted this awesome card that she came up with that I so loved. (Check out Anne's Chemist here ttp://  This is how the inspiration for this birthday card began.    I really loved Anne's idea of a window that you looked through - my mind immediately started seeing a fun idea. 

I wanted the card to look like a cheery shop window with a flower box, and a message- complete with a stripy awning.  I mean who doesn't like a stripy awning. awning window 009
awning window 006So here is what I did.  I embossed the card with a die-cut window with the brick texture folder from Spellbinders, I then cut a rectangular frame to make the window frame and used one of the Tim Holtz pediments dies to do the flowerbox. 
I filled the flower box with handrolled flowers and the greenery is Gold Christmas tinsel that I painted with Mowed Lawn distress paint and Forrest moss Distress Ink.  The flowers were tiny and painful to work clunky fingers around but they were surprisingly easy to do. 
awning window 010

I used a scalloped edged scissors to cut one end of the awning and a corner punch for the top of the awning.  I folded that into shape.  I saw a more complicated version of this on youtube a while back but I cant remember where so I cant give credit to whom it is due.

I faux-glassed the window with acetate and wrote "Happy Birthday" on the shop window with a popart marker.  I love these markers - too bad I cant find them in my town mall anymore.

awning window 016

I wanted the closed card to look as if there was a window blind hanging on the inside of the window.
When you open up the card - I wanted the inside to look as if you were looking at a wall with drawn blind. 

awning window 029

I cut out little frames and drew tiny "wall art" that I framed in the gilded metal effect (you can find the backlink to that tutorial here  

I also stuck on a few charms to look like wall hangings. 
The blind functions as a message and gift card holder.

awning window 023

Anyway - like I said - quick post today.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tim Holtz Challenge August – wipeout, redraw and computer woes!

seasons full I held out for the longest time this month hoping that all the new dies and stamps would reach South Africa long before deadline week for August challenge.  In my head I already had an idea of what I was going to do for my tag with all the chemistry stamps.  But things didn’t work out the way I wanted it to so I decided to come up with a new plan. 

 I have been having computer issues.  The deal is that my laptop is old, old,old – it still runs XP and is completely overworked.  This puppy runs everything in my household – I work on it, I watch TV on it, I use it as a hi-fi (do people still say hi-fi – what do they say now …..Entertainment Centre???), I design on it, I even control certain systems in my house on it.  So it was inevitable that a day would come when it would start a global rebellion. 

It started gremlin-ing all the video file, then it moved onto the picture files, then it picked up speed and staged one of those sit-in type of protests where whichever programme you ran – it would work for about a few minutes and then BAM it would give you the pc equivalent of a bad swear word – total freeze.  Now even the on and off button is going nuts – and it wont shut off by “shut down” command.  Right now I am trying to speak very loving words of encouragement to it – the only thing that works on it is the internet browser.  So I am grateful that it still feels some kind of sorry for me and lets me keeps that.

Anyhow, back to the TH tag story.  So last week I learned that the new stamps and stuff wouldn’t be available for another week or so, and I began to formulate a new idea in my head for a tag, just in case there were other hold-ups and I wouldn’t make it in time, I figured I would try and make something else.  When I looked through my stamp collection - I thought I hit on a great plan.  In fact I thought this new vision was far better than the old one and I got really excited about making it. 
The poem “A Dry White Season For Don M – Banned” – has always had a moving and profound effect on me.  Within the last couple of weeks I found my mind returning to its aphorismic truth, like a chant.  There was no real trying circumstance that I can hold accountable for the return.  It was as if the poem itself was manifesting its way into my consciousness and reaching out to me to remind me of its message, just because of its message. 

It’s a poem written by a South African poet Mongane Wally Serote while he was in exile, to another banned South African poet and writer Don Materra, whom at the time was under house arrest.  It describes a dry white season that is painful and harsh, where leaves fall bitterly to the ground, but reminds the reader that even the harshest winter will eventually come to pass.  Even though the context of the poem is political, I have always interpreted it in a broader context of hope.  The message for me is universal – that life has its seasons, some of them may be harsh, brittle periods of pain and trying circumstance, but we can always take assurance that as natural as the seasons do change, grim, winter seasons of circumstance shall too come to pass:  seasons 018
A Dry White Season
For Don M Banned

It is a dry white season
dark leaves don’t last, their brief lives dry out
and with a broken heart they
dive down gently headed for the earth
not even bleeding.
it is a dry white season brother, only the trees know the pain as they still stand erect
dry like steel, their branches dry like wire,
indeed, it is a dry white season but seasons come to pass

Mongane Wally Serote

So naturally with those powerful images playing in my head I had reached for the Stamper’s Anonymous Falling Leaves (CMS097) collection of TH stamps.  I knew that my heart was asking me to highlight the idea:  “Seasons come to pass”.  My mind’s eye saw the artistic connection between falling leaves and turning gears – seasons come to pass.

Oh it was beautiful – I cut masks, I stamped, I layered mask upon mask, I stained, I spattered. I glossy accented, I “geared” up for the art that was unfolding directly from my heart.  Seriously I was having a really great time with my tag – I have had romances that I haven’t had as much fun with and paid so much attention to!  I had not managed to fix my pc issues and couldn’t upload my project to the TH blog.  I wasn’t too fussed though because I thought I would just upload the pics onto my work pc in the office and go from there.

The next morning I got my coffee and began my daily ritual of reading through the blogposts of the bloggers I follow – and then I saw Alison’s post and her entry ( See Alison's amazing project by clicking on this )for the Tim Holtz challenge.  It was so beautiful, I loved it but more importantly – we had both chosen the same stamps (apart from Skelly), DOH!!!!! DOH!!!! DOH!!!! Even the texted background and colour scheme was eerily similar. WIPEOUT!!!!!

  So then I thought that I wouldn’t post my tag because it was so similar in concept to hers, and this little virtual community is dedicated to sharing diversity of interpretation, I felt like I should do something different to hold that tradition.  Alas – I got so busy with stuff that I had to do for work etc – I didnt get around to doing another project. Today I finally gave up the dream of trying to make another tag.  The truth is – I just cant imagine what else I would want to do for this challenge.  I really have to have something move in my heart in order for it to be translated into mini pieces of art, and my heart I think was just so filled with this particular message that there was no room for much else.  I don’t know – perhaps the Universe is trying to reach someone and give them the message that seasons come to pass and it needs me to post this tag. 

So I am going to have to post the original tag that I came up with as I neither have the inspiration or time to come up with a new concept and make it before the Tim Holtz deadline.  Also, I really loved the tag when I made it and I wanted to share it, especially because of its meaning to me. 
But yes,  I am aware that it does look very similar to Alison’s – that was completely unintentional but I am also secretly pleased cos I hold her artistic talent in such high regard so the fact that we both independently of each other halfway across the world, thought up the same concept was totally cool for me.  I feel like I have broken into the Holy room of Inspiration or something.  Alison is so amazing at whatever she does – I’m in total awe of her.

My personal stamp on the Tim Holtz technique was to colour the masked bits (all the big leaves),  I used distress markers otherwise I kept to all the original technique instructions.
seasons 020seasons 021seasons 023
I also used the smaller stamps to create a sorta watercolour transparent leaf background under the text background.

If you’re wondering how I managed to get the smaller leaves all seperated like on there – I’ll tell you a horrible secret – I cut the long strip (rubber stamp) of small leaves  into pieces – but I confess that I like having the smaller individual ones and if I want them in a strip again – all I have to do is just line them up like that!

The supplies I used for this tag were:
#10 sized tag (though I just cut a #10 sized tag out of Ranger Specialty stamping paper)
Stampers Anonymous Falling Leaves CMS097 Tim Holtz Collection
Stampers Anonymous Curiosity small text stamp CMS124 Warehouse District
Stampers Anonymous “Horlogerie” typography stamp  CMS123 Attic Treasures
Ranger Archival ink:  Plum, Olive, Monarch Orange, Cobalt, Sienna, Vermillion
Ranger Distress Markers
Ranger Distress Stain Gathered Twigs
Stazon Timber Brown
Sizzix Tim Holtz Alterations:  
656917 Sizzix Sizzlits Decorative Strip Alphabet Die - Chip Block
657482 Sizzix Sizzlits Decorative Strip Alphabet Die – Alphabetical
Ranger Glossy Accents
Ranger Ideo-ology mini gears and regular gears
Thin Popsicle stick

Anyway – I hope that if there is indeed a hurting soul somewhere who is feeling overrun and overwhelmed – I hope that this tag brings you the comfort and hope that seasons do indeed come to pass, take heart – I have felt this for myself as well.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Distress Paint: Alchemy – turning cardstock into Vintage Gold

I have been busy in my apothecary creating a fast and dirty formula to create a vintage forged gold effect.  I am going to share that with you today.

Now you can watch me perform alchemy in the lightning speed video below,  however in solidarity with my people (since South Africans generally are inflicted with the curse of slow, expensive, data-capped internet) – I am also going to share my magical formula in the step by step picture tutorial underneath it.

(edited to add – something went wrong when I tried saving the video – it is cutting all the video frames in half – don't know why – you’re stuck with the pic tutorial then! 
2nd Edit - apparently this is a bug well common to Movie Maker 2.6 devotees like myself who try to run it on newer Operating Systems - boo - I think I have lost my favourite editing tool but more importantly I am going to have to reshoot this whole video)
momdadalicejosh 004
Cut out your pieces – I have used the Tim Holtz Alterations Clock Key and Pocket Watch die and a circle die from Spellbinders to cut out the window face with the intention of turning it into a pocket locket. 
  momdadalicejosh 001
Create the background Patina by covering the whole die-cut with an opaque coat of Black Soot Distress Paint (DP – from now on) – this is very important in crating that vintage feel - so don't skip it. 
momdadalicejosh 007
Choose the embossing folder pattern - I like to use something with a highly detailed pattern as it gives me more texture, and more texture makes the piece look more vintagey. So I chose the Sizzix Alterations Damask Folder.  Run it through your Embosser.
momdadalicejosh 030momdadalicejosh 008 
Dab a glob of Tarnished Brass DP on your work surface or craft sheet and using the blending tool with the the foam applicator, gently begin burnish the embossed bits.  The trick here is to apply very light pressure in a staccato or brisk up and down motion.  Keep building up layers .  I prefer to highlight the embossed bits heavily in the Tarnished Brass DP but leave the debossed bits, slightly less covered in paint so some of the Black soot shows through.  This is what is going to achieve the vintage patina effect.
 momdadalicejosh 030gilded1 
The next step is optional.  To create the gleaming glint of vintage gold – over the Tarnished Brass DP rub on some Gilder’s Paste or Perfect Pearls. This has a two-fold effect – it blends and evens out the sponged on paint and the gold particles settle into the debossed areas such that it matts everything out but at the same time adds more gleam to the “precious metal”
gilded2 blockprints trinkets 023

To finish it off or seal it – there are three things that you could do.
You can coat in Ranger’s Glossy Accents – this looks super shiny and slick.
blockprints trinkets 024

Or you can heat emboss it with CLEAR embossing powder. Don't use gold embossing powder because you will lose all the cool dry embossed detail.
locket locket back
Or you might just want to take the fast and dirty way out and either spray clear lacquer varnish or paint high-gloss varnish onto it.  Which is what I did for the pocket locket – The heat gun was a little too fiddly for me and I didn't want to leave my chair – and that is the primary reason why I chose this method over the other.

And there you have it – You’ll be turning pieces of paper into gold in no time at all.

A few other details about this project – the stamp is from a South African company called Heritage Stamps, though I have to admit that I did tweak her eyelashes and put on more eyeliner for her..  I stamped on Ranger’s Specialty Stamping paper and I coloured the image with Ranger Distress Markers.  To create the vintage glass feel – I gave the face window a generous coat of Glossy Accents.  Once that dried – I decided it would look cooler with deep cracks in the glass, so I overcoated that with crackle accents.
heritage stamp momdadalicejosh 026 POCKET LOCKET FINISH1
I still haven't decided what I am going to do with my paper gold pocket locket.  Maybe I could swing it off of the top of a tag and turn it into a bookmark.
In the end after all the tweaks this is what it turned out like.