A Shadowbox Begins

Wow, did this month fly by or what! It feels like only yesterday that I thought the Art Elements theme of the month, Repurposing, was perfect for a project that I’d been thinking of, and it’s already reveal time. Many thanks to Lesley Watt for hosting this theme, since it turned out to be the spark that got this project started.

We’d taken out a new set of teacups a few months ago, and since then, I’d been holding on to the styrofoam container they came in, because it was perfect for a shadowbox!

Styrofoam Shadowbox: WIP

However, I’ll add some emphasis on the first statement of this post, because I couldn’t complete as much as I’d thought I would. To compensate for the lack of creative time last month, I think I put my fingers in too many pies this month. 🙂 So I’ll just list the few steps that I’ve completed in the project as of today. So far, I have:

  • Decoupaged the styrofoam surface with newspaper
  • Added some texture by crudely adhering cheap toilet paper onto the surface
  • Applied gesso over the surface
  • Brushed some yellow / orange acrylics over it

All of these steps were interspersed with a lot of waving around of a heat gun, and then, because the surface still seemed a bit springy to the touch, letting it dry overnight and get some sun through the day as well.

I like how it looks so far. Next, I’ll add more acrylics of orange / red / brown shades, and try out some ideas for decorating the shadowbox with other material. Hopefully by then, I’ll have figured out what goes into the shadowbox, because let’s leave the most important stuff till the end! 🙂

Coincidentally, some of my other projects this month fit the repurposing theme too, but they’re not a part of this reveal, and I’ve already talked about them. Though I couldn’t complete something for the reveal, I had a lot of fun this month, and it feels great after the crafty scarcity of last month!

More repurposing: a trinket box made from packaging cardboard base, scrap clay, and paper from a manual; and a shawl (which I’m still working on) using yarn reclaimed from an earlier project.


This is a blog hop, so if you’d like to check out what the other guests and the Art Elements team have repurposed for their artsy projects, do head over to their blogs linked below!

Guests: Tammy Alysen Evie & Beth Karin Hope Divya Anita (you’re here) Sarajo Kathy Rebecca Martha

AE Team: Niky Laney Cathy Caroline Jen Jenny Sue Claire Lesley

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Jewelry/Trinket Box | Inspiration Station

It might seem like my sister and I have forgotten about our Inspiration Station challenges, but that’s definitely not the case. It’s only that March got a bit lighter on the crafty side (because life!) and I just couldn’t work on any challenges. Not to fret, we’ve both managed to finish our respective artistic projects now. Here’s the inspiration that my sister chose –

Inspiration Station - Feb inspiration

Inspiration Station – Feb inspiration – Modern, eco-friendly greeting cards from Seedlings (with actual seeds embedded!), mentioned on Paper Crave

I’ve wanted to make a trinket box for my mom for a while, and I decided to do that for this Inspiration Station. My original idea was to use polymer clay and make a round, hinged box, the idea then turned into a square box, then became a gel-print based box, and finally, in its completed form, it’s a cardboard box with polymer clay embellishments. Talk about twists and turns! 🙂

Jewelry / Trinket Box (Mixed Media) | Anita

This project was split over many, many days – even put back into a drawer since I wasn’t working on it – and I’m glad it came together well in the end. Due to so many changes to the project’s design, I eventually just used the colors from the inspiration, though I’d picked more elements earlier.

I started this project with thick cardboard from packaging material, making a box and a lid from it. On the inside of both, I glued some floral gel prints that I pulled using texture plates on a gel plate – I never thought texture plates would work so well with monoprinting! I had to dilute the paint a lot, though – it almost looks like a watercolor.

Jewelry / Trinket Box (Mixed Media) | Anita

From our acrylics stash, I picked blue, green and a bit of black, and painted the outside of the lid and the box.

For the embellishments, I picked various molds whose designs would work for the rococo / ornamental theme I had in mind, and used scrap polymer clay to make a number of pieces. I used 3D matte gel to stick these pieces on the walls of the box and of the lid, and to the top of the lid. For some added interest, I adhered sand over some of the still-blank areas using soft matte gel. I applied more blue / green / black paint over these for added depth.

Jewelry / Trinket Box (Mixed Media) | Anita

I brushed metallic coral acrylics and then applied brass / vintage gold wax onto the relief. I intended to finish the piece(s) by applying soft gloss gel, but the gel remained tacky upon drying. So I applied clear gesso over it – it seemed to fare better than soft matte gel – and though I gained a better surface to the touch, I lost all the sheen. 🙂 I brushed more wax on the pieces, but let’s face it, it’s never the same. However, I don’t have any regrets about any of the choices I made, and that’s saying something. 😉

Jewelry / Trinket Box (Mixed Media) | Anita

My mom loves her new jewelry / trinket box, and so does my sister. Now that’s what I call a satisfying ending to a project!

Speaking of my sister, you’ll want to check out the oh-so-colorful underwater scene in her card. I just love, love, love the fishies, and the background is absolutely fantastic! She nailed the theme.

Storage Bag Tags

Even the tiniest amount of crafty time can result in a positive feeling. Case in point – A trio of tags that I made for keeping track of storage bags in our attic. These storage bags contain similar items but are only used occasionally, and the tags would be handy to figure out which one to pick items from next.

Making the tags barely took a couple of hours, since I didn’t try anything too complicated – just made half-knot spiral sennits using macramé. Even so, the happiness of hand-crafting something functional still applies. 🙂

Storage Tags - Macramé

This is how I made each tag –

I started off with a 30-cm cord and a 50-cm one. I made half-hitch knots with the longer one over the central 10cm of the shorter cord, and was left with two almost equal sized arms, each containing two cords. I used these four cords as the holding cords, and used a 90-cm cord as the working cord for the spiral stitch, which I made by making non-alternating half knots. When done with the sennit, I used E6000 to hold the cord tassels together so they don’t unravel.

Making these was a little ray of sunshine in an otherwise not-so-great weekend. I’m hoping I find tiny crafty time pockets now and then to keep my spirits soaring! 🙂

How are your crafts brightening your day?

Inspiration Station: Cosmetics Holder

My sister and I collectively work on quite a few arts and crafts, and we thought we’d try out a theme-inspired creativity session between us once in a while – our ‘Inspiration Station’ – one of us picks a theme, and each of us makes something inspired by the theme in any media we fancy. We’d like to do this every month, let’s see how it pans out.

Sis chose our very first theme last month: a mood board from Butterfly Reflections, Ink which is in turn inspired by Pinterest. I’d wanted to make a short, squat cosmetics holder for some time, to put eye/lip pencils and sticks in. The mood board was perfectly inspiring to get me started on this project!

Inspiration Station: Dec '18 inspiration

Inspiration Station: Dec inspiration – a mood board at Butterfly Reflections, Ink.

To start with, for the squat cylindrical wall of the container, I used a thick cardboard roll left over from used-up tapes. For the base, I used two circles cut from a chipboard – a smaller one that fits within the inside of the wall, and a larger one whose size matches the outside. I adhered the circles to each other and to the wall’s base.

I then glued striped paper, which I cut from envelope covers, onto the inner and outer surfaces of the base and onto the rim. To make them fit well, I cut them larger than the required size and snipped notches at regular intervals outside the ‘borders’, which proved useful to grip adjacent surfaces as well as to ensure that there are no gaps showing in the finished product. While all this dried in the sun, I moved on to gel printing.

Inspiration Station: Cosmetics Holder

Inspiration Station: Cosmetics Holder

The paper for gel printing was, again, from a thread-reinforced envelope, and it provides wonderful texture, both visual and tactile, which I love in containers. I used stamps with circles and patterns for my interpretation of the shapes in the mood board. The gel printing went better than I hoped (but still not exactly like I wanted to – the blues turned out too bright, and pinks are supposed to be flowers and dandelions. 😀 ) However, I just love the outcome! I cut the paper to size and glued it to the outer and inner walls, with the thread still intact.

To set the surfaces and finish the holder, I used matte transparent gel. (Thanks, Sis, for the idea! I think you’ve finally succeeded in making gel ideas stay put in my mind, ready for access at the slightest nudge. 🙂 ) I’ve already started using the holder, and I’m delighted that it’s just the way I wanted it to be!

Sis has made a pretty card for our theme, and you’ll want to look at the cute flower motifs and the background!

Image Transfer: Coasters

I’ve not participated in challenges lately due to my creativity having become sluggish, but this month’s theme at Art Elements – Stars by Laney Mead, brought forth some tiny sparks in my right brain. 🙂 By the time I thought of joining, I’d already created some Diwali gel prints using the only stencil in our stash that has some star shapes in it, so I hoped other ideas would appear soon.

I considered various ideas involving beading, wire-weaving, faux soutache with polymer clay, and gel printing, but none clicked. Then, I came across some old printouts of star shaped patterns that I’d thought I’d use for image transfer jewelry using polymer clay. Since I was still woefully short of jewelry ideas, I settled on making a set of coasters instead.

Polymer Clay Coasters using Image Transfer

Don’t see too many stars? That’s because I ran out of prints…

 

The ‘sure’ idea

I wanted colorful bases for my coasters, and instead of spending time and the little energy I had on Skinner blends, I brushed a variety of chalks on plain, unbaked circular clay sheets. (Now that was fun. :)) I transferred the star pattern image onto a sheet of translucent clay, intending to adhere it face-down on a coaster base so I could bake the whole setup and then sand+buff the translucent surface. However, before I could place the translucent sheet on the circle, the sheet just tore apart. Argh, the horror!

Since I’d transferred images onto clay before, I’d been pretty sure that this would work, and now I didn’t have enough copies of the star prints left to form a ‘proper set’ of 4, so I opted to just use a different pattern for each coaster instead.

An alternative

The translucent clay just didn’t want to work with image transfers, so I started looking for alternatives. Liquid polymer clay can be used as a medium for the transfer – but surprisingly, it didn’t produce great results on my unbaked sample bases or baked ones. Then my sis suggested transparent matte gel, and it worked brilliantly! So I applied the gel on my baked coaster bases and stuck the paper on it pattern-side down, and waited for the gel to set completely. I then got the paper soaking wet and gently rubbed it away from the base, leaving the pattern behind.

Finally!

As usual, things just had to work a bit differently on the final pieces than on the samples. 🙂 The ‘gently’ part turned out to be difficult, and I rubbed away the pattern at a few places on two of the coasters. By the time I was on my second piece, I noticed that the pattern would appear pretty vibrant and clear while wet, even if traces of paper showed up everywhere while dry. So for my last two pieces, I decided to just leave all of that stubborn trace paper be, and waited for the pieces to dry fully. Then I poured some resin over the coasters, and voila! Vibrant, patterned coasters, just the way I want. They’re still curing as I write this post, so I haven’t tested them yet; I hope they work well and last a long time.


I was pretty sure I won’t have anything done for this challenge, and even though only one of the patterns has any resemblance to stars, I hope this little something is still better than nothing. Thank you, Laney, for the heavenly theme! I’m looking forward to seeing what the other guests and the Art Elements team have come up with; let’s go blog hopping!

Guests:  Jill Divya Alysen Kathy Tammy Cat Samantha Anita (you’re here) Karin Sarajo Rozantia Kimberly

AE Team: Jen Jenny Niky Laney Claire Cathy Marsha Caroline Susan Lesley

Diwali Gel Prints

Our Diwali consists of hanging paper lanterns and lighting lamps, and we continue with the lanterns for 12 days until another festival, Tulasi Pooja. This festival has us worshiping the sacred Tulasi plant. Following this, the lanterns finally come down, and go into the attic until next year. 🙂

I made some gel prints to represent Diwali, and I think a few of them also apply to the 12 subsequent days. The lanterns might finally be off now, but it feels wonderful to have these prints remind me of the festivals!

I used stencils for both the background and the foreground. Getting the prints to come out well in as few attempts as possible is still a trick I haven’t got the hang of, but I’ve noticed that once they start turning out good, they keep turning out good for a while…

I might still be in a jewelry funk, but I’m glad there’s still some creativity in me to channel in another direction while I wait for the jewelry mojo to return. 🙂 If I keep at the gel printing, I’ll probably start an art journal instead of picking up random pieces of paper.

Table Makeover

My break from jewelry making continues, and I thought I could spruce up my work table while I’m not using it to work on jewelry. The front of this table’s drawers were white earlier, and though I didn’t really dislike that, some color would definitely make the table cheerier to look at. My sister has a few jars of chalk paint that she’d used a while ago to give a new look to some furniture in her room, and I borrowed a few of these paints for my redecoration project.

Before starting the paint job, I removed the drawers from the table, and wiped them clean with soapy water followed by clean water. I then masked the sides of the drawers. The drawers are made from MDF, and have some slight texture to them that I wanted to retain, so I didn’t sand them.

Table drawer makeover with chalk paint

Table drawer makeover with chalk paint

My first painting attempt didn’t go as I’d planned, and I even ended up with an accidental splotch of paint that spoiled the look of the piece, so I wiped the surfaces clean with water again. (This is a welcome advantage of chalk paints for clumsy new painters like me – do-overs are pretty easy.)

For my second, and final, attempt, I was a bit more careful with the paint. I also changed my original design just a little bit. I think I also got a bit more comfortable with the painting process, and the result was much better than earlier.

I painted the bottom half of the length of the drawers with a lighter paint. Then, I painted the top half with darker paint. I added a random pattern of circles to the lower half by brushing the rim of a small sized lid with bright paints and pressing the lid onto the painted surface. Finally, I added another coat of darker paint to the top half since it was still looking uneven. It’s still uneven on closer inspection, but that doesn’t matter much to me.

The advantage that I mentioned earlier – of chalk paint reacting to water even after application – becomes a disadvantage when the project is finished 🙂 so I ended up applying a layer of wax on the drawers, and buffed it very slightly, to increase the paint’s staying power.

I’m pretty happy with the result, and love the new look of my table!