Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Bird Silhouette Tag

This mixed media lark can certainly become a bit addictive, I've been playing with lots of ideas since I last blogged, but they've not been going to plan, this weekend I found out why, I was using the wrong mediums for the job.

I've also discovered that the gesso from The Works is not the best medium for the job and if you want to use distress inks, neither is Modge Podge, because it acts like a resist and won't take water based inks! You can still use archival inks, but I don't have as many colours of archival as I do distress. Another downside of Modge Podge is it leaves your project feeling 'sticky' and as if it isn't dry and yes this time Jennifer I waited, a whole 24 hours!!! lol! 

So I invested in some Pebeo mediums thanks to Jen's input, she's becoming my mixed media guru if I'm stuck she offers advice and gives me her invaluable insight and product recommendations and ones to avoid. So based on what Jen recommended I picked up some Pebeo clear, white and black gesso and some gel medium. I still want to get a few other mediums, like Phosphorescent Gel, DYNA Bindex and Crackle Paste/Glaze but that will come with time as I learn more about playing with the mediums.

What mixed media is doing is encouraging me to use more of my Tim Holtz stuff of which I have an awful lot of but I don't often use because the style isn't suitable for sending cards to people I know which sucks! But mixed media gives me the chance to make home decor, journals, tags and so much more using my precious Tim Holtz stuff that its making me giddy!

This tag project didn't turn out exactly as I planned as you can see from this photo, I originally coloured the bird with Peacock Feathers and a touch of Fossilised Amber but on the parts that had been treated with Modge Podge the ink wouldn't stay put.

I decided that the bird didn't pop (I originally typed poop lol) enough because it was coloured too much like the background. So I added black sparkle pen over the distress ink and used some 'Buttercup' Archival Ink to colour the tail edge, under belly and the face and throat. I think it worked out a lot better although I think it may have been better in hindsight to use brown rather than black. Another change was the decoration at the base, originally I was going to attempt to create a nest with hessian strands and place some polystyrene egg shapes I picked up cheaply at Hobbycraft but I couldn't get the next effect right. I decided instead to use flowers made using my Tim Holtz Small Tattered Florals die set and coulour them with Mustard Seed distress ink to tie in with the yellow parts on the bird.

I added copper embossing powder to the feet, beak and tail tip using a Quickie Glue pen and some 'Copper' Darice Whisper Embossing Powder and then used an Indigoblu flourish scroll that came free in a set with a magazine to add some detail. The backing papers came from a 'Classic Elegance' pad by Melissa Frances that I won along with some pearls when I had a letter printed in one of the card making magazines a few years ago but I hadn't got round to using. I looked over to the side of my desk and I saw a feather I'd cut using the feather die from the Tim Holtz 'Feathers & Ravens' die set and it just cried out to become a wing on the bird, I tried it and it worked perfectly, so I gave it a bit of sparkle and a gold spine and added it to the bird.

I wanted some sparkle so I decided to use some Tonic Studios Nuvo Glimmer Paste in 'Peridot Green' through a Bo Bunny stencil, it did the trick, adding sparkly translucent texture to the tag. Once the flowers were attached I added some Nuvo Glitter Drops in 'Honey Gold' which finished them off nicely. The sentiment comes from one of my Tim Holtz sets "Life Quotes CMS227", which I have only used one of the stamps on one previous occasion. I seem to collect Tim's dies and stamps and then don't use them, because taking them out of their packets and using them somehow sullies them, OMG I'm turning in to my brother with his Star Wars collection lol! 😂😂😂

In an seemingly unrelated, but related occurence, Simon had a long weekend off work which gave us a rare chance to get out on a weekday to visit our local National trust place 'Calke Abbey' and whilst there I noticed something I must have seen many times before but hadn't really registered, an example of 19th century mixed media!

When I got back I did some research and discovered that the Three-leaf Draught Screen at Calke has a wooden frame which had been covered in canvas. On top of the canvas a vast assortment of images have been stuck down including cuttings from books and magazines, coloured prints and caricatures from publications of the 19th century. The screen is double sided, both sides can been seen in better detail on this National Trust Draught Screen page. On one side there is a large print of a little girl in the centre, each panel showing a different image and above the images of the girls a romantic country scene, other smaller prints arranged around them included Father Christmas, Kittens and a lot of flowers and butterflies.

One side includes a print of Sir John Everett Millais painting "Bubbles" originally known as "A Child’s World" which featured the painters Grandson William and was painted in 1885. Millais sold the painting and copyright in 1886 to Sir William Ingram, the owner of the London Illustrated News, he reproduced it as a colour plate and included it in the Christmas issue of the weekly magazine. The then managing director of Pears, Thomas J. Barrett, who by all accounts was a pioneer of modern advertising methods in the 19th century, saw the colour plate and realised the potential of the picture to his company. He contacted Ingram and purchased the original painting and exclusive copyright for the princely sum of £2,200, he then contacted Millais who at first was reluctant but eventually gave his permission to add a bar of Pears soap to the painting so that Pears could use it for advertising purposes.

The collage technique used on things like the Draught Screen was and is known as decoupage, a crafty pursuit that survives to this day, and whilst this version at Calke Abbey isn't the best example, it does make me wonder about the girl or woman that created it, where she got her images and why she chose those ones in particular? Apparently the art of découpage dates back to the 12th century when Chinese people first started to use paper cut outs to decorate windows. Although it didn't get the name we know it as today until the 20th century the word is derived from the French word découpeur which means to cut out.

According to this History of Découpage page, Victorian Nannies taught the girls in their charge the art of découpage, and some of the old examples of the technique used 30-40 layers of varnish built up over the collaged images, each coat sanded down to a beautiful smooth sheen to protect the images. Some even had gold gilding added and images were sometimes hand coloured by the découpage creator. Who knew that seeing an old screen would lead to discovering so much, not only does it have links to crafting, it also links my love of Pre-Raphaelite art and botany, I'll have to be a lot more observant in the future, who knows what else I'll discover?


  1. Hi Debs your tag is stunning. Well done for keeping at it. It is so nice to have someone to get advice from. Have a great day today. Take care. Hugs Jackie

  2. Lovely tag Debs, while I;m here thanks for my little parcel. It might take me a little time to get to use them. I'm good at buying stuff but not using it...lol

  3. Wonderful blog post - I learnt loads! Thank you for sharing all that info. I recommend Mixed Up Magazine FB page. Really helpful and amazing projects on there although I know you have a personal tutor ;)
    Love your project and I've been to Calke Abbey as a child on a school trip. Would love to go again. Shabneez x

  4. Beautiful projects....Love the colours you used....Joolsx

  5. So beautiful, love it. You have been busy while i was in france. Emmax


Thanks for your comments on my cards and posts, they are very much appreciated, I'll get back to you as soon as I can if a reply is required. Hugs - Debs x