Tuesday, 30 June 2015

“Being creative is more than just a hobby, it’s a way of life”

“Being creative is more than just a hobby, it’s a way of life”

A Mixed Media Canvas by Bethany Grace

“Being creative is more than just a hobby, it’s a way of life” - this is certainly true for so many of us crafters, artists and creators, and no-one more so than the creators of Kuretake, who this year are celebrating the milestone of 30 years in business – congratulations guys! What I am sure is a small number compared to a lifetime of creativity – may there be many more years to come!

I for one love reading inspirational quotes, especially if they are particularly motivational or thought-provoking; and what better way to be inspired by them day after day, than to create a little bit of home décor with this mixed media canvas!

The Background:
Equipment used: A4 canvas, Forget-Me-Not Woodcraft Marker, Glacier Blue Woodcraft Marker, Moss Green Woodcraft Marker, Harebell Woodcraft Marker, water mister, paintbrush, heat gun, white tissue paper, Sizzix Doily, Laced with Love Thinlit Die, Decopatch paper, PVA glue, paintbrush, diamond stencil, white lace How to do it: I first wet the surface of the canvas using a water mister (in order to keep the paints wet for longer, allowing me to blend them), and then began to build some colour using the Forget-Me-Not and Harebell Woodcraft Markers, merging the shades using a paintbrush.

When I was happy with the blending on this first layer, I used a heat gun to quickly set the paints (the markers dry pretty quickly anyway, but I had added a lot of water…and I guess I’m a bit impatient when I want to get on creating!). As Woodcraft Markers become permanent when dry, they are great for adding detail and contrasting colours to backgrounds, without muddying the layers below… perfect for this technique!

To get the effect seen below, I repeated the process over and over again, gradually building up the colours and creating a tinted edge using the slightly darker Glacier Blue Woodcraft Marker.

Next, I added some pattern to the background. I first glued (using a mixture of PVA and water) some torn strips of Decopatch paper onto the canvas. In the past I have also used patterned tissue paper napkins to add pattern to projects - they work just as well as Decopatch paper, but can be a lot kinder to your purse! To fade the patterned paper into the painted background, I used a paintbrush to dab some Glacier Blue paint (from the Woodcraft Marker - just scribble the marker onto a shiny surface to create a paint palette!) around the edges.

To add a little extra pattern and a lacy-feel to the background, I cut some tissue paper hearts (see above) using the Sizzix Doily, Laced with Love Thinlit Die. I ran the Thinlit through a die-cutting machine, over a well-folded sheet of white tissue paper (I have learned from experience that it is nearly impossible to cut a single layer of tissue paper – it’s far too delicate! However, folding up a sheet creates a thicker layer which the die can easily cut through…top tip eh?). I again pasted these onto the background using a mixture of PVA glue and water.

A few finishing touches…
To bring in some pink to the background, I coloured through a diamond stencil using the Wild Rose Woodcraft Marker. Then I used the Glacier Blue Woodcraft Marker to neaten up the edges of the canvas, and lightly sanded the top edges (see picture top right) to reveal a white border – this really helped to make everything stand out in the finished product. I used PVA glue to stick white lace around the edges of the canvas to give a more vintage feel – the final step of my mixed media canvas background!

The Lettering: Equipment used: chipboard letters, Wild Rose Woodcraft Marker, Moss Green Woodcraft Marker, Gold Wink of Luna Brush Pen, background stamp, lettering stamps, acrylic block, brown StazOn ink pad, glue gun

How to do it: For the wording, I used a combination of chipboard letters and stamps. As I have found for several years, stamping clearly on a canvas can be tricky. However, I now have a fool-proof method that is so obvious I feel stupid for not having thought of it sooner! Simply place a hard book behind the canvas so that it touches the fabric, giving a hard, flat surface to stamp on – voila, no more sagging canvas and smudgy stamps! For this canvas I stamped the letters with brown StazOn, using two alphabet stamp sets for contrast.

To decorate the word ‘hobby’, I simply coloured in the chipboard letters using the Harebell Woodcraft Marker.

I used some larger chipboard letters to create the word ‘life’, colouring them using the Wild Rose Woodcraft Marker. For those of you that are impatient (like me!), do not be tempted to attempt to speed-dry the letters with a heat-gun…it may result in flying letters and paint (I speak from experience…)! I then edged the letters using a Gold Wink of Luna Brush Pen, and lightly stamped them with a background stamp (I coloured the stamp in with the Wink of Luna pen so it matched the edging) to add some pattern and a more distressed feel.

To add some depth, I glued all the chipboard letters on using a glue gun (silicon glue would work just as well).

The Embellishments: Equipment used: MDF hearts, Wild Rose Woodcraft Marker, Moss Green Woodcraft Marker, sandpaper, old scissors, Gesso, paintbrush, PVA glue, glue gun

How to do it: For the heart embellishments, I painted some MDF hearts with the Wild Rose Woodcraft Marker, and then distressed the edges using some paint from the Moss Green Woodcraft Marker. When the paint had dried, I lightly sanded the edges to lift off some of the colour (and by lightly, I mean really lightly…we don’t want to end up sanding away all our hard work now do we?), and glued them onto the canvas with PVA.

This next stage was a bit of a spur-of-the-moment thing. During my usual messy creativity, I had left a pair of scissors strewn across the canvas: a moment of inspiration! I immediately searched out the box hidden at the back of my cupboard, in which lies a jumble of various odds and ends that I use for mixed media pieces like this. Tucked inside was an old pair of children’s’ blunt scissors: perfect.
I first cleaned the scissors up a bit (old things do get a bit grubby…), and coated them in a thin layer of Gesso to prime the metal so that the Woodcraft Markers would adhere to the surface. I then coloured the scissors using the Wild Rose and Harebell Woodcraft Markers, and glued it to the canvas with a glue gun.

The Finishing Touches: Equipment used: buttons, string, pink baker’s twine, clear dew drops, pink paper blossoms, silver gems, darning needle, safety pin, decorative pin

How to do it: I finished off the canvas with some buttons (tied with string and baker’s twine), silver gems, clear dew drops and a few odd knick-knacks from my box of odds and ends (namely a children’s plastic darning needle, which I proceeded to colour using the Harebell Woodcraft Marker, a safety pin, a decorative pin and a few paper blossoms), all stuck on with some PVA glue.

So there you have it: one finished mixed media canvas to (hopefully!) keep us all motivated with the help of a great quote! I hope you have enjoyed the project and feel inspired to have a go at some of the techniques, or maybe create your own mixed media canvas. As always I would love to hear from you all to know what you think, and to see your interpretations and ideas - happy creating!

Monday, 22 June 2015

I have today created a lovely project for Kuretake with the theme of Summer!

As I was creating this rather wonderful Kuretake Design Team project, I had a little song playing in my head called "Summerfly" which is a lovely song by Maura O'Connell. Has such lovely, and also quite haunting lyrics. Nonetheless, I was humming and singing as creating, which I think is a good way to craft!

Feeling inspired by the lovely colours of the paints and flowers growing in my garden, I decided to use a giant Peony stamp from IndigoBlu - seriously, it's massive! - and use the wonderful, gorgeously scrumptious Kuretake Gansai Tambi Japanese watercolour paints. I really love these paints, I can't express how much!

So I started with a sheet of watercolour pape, it's just smaller than an A4 sheet. I covered my paper with a quick swish of water to ensure the paints blended together nicely. Then, using a large brush, I  simply applied diagonally over the paper to create a rainbow effect. I left this to dry. You could also use a heat tool to dry if you wanted to.

I used a waterproof archival ink and stamped the Giant Peony and the Dragonfly stamp to my page. I wanted to add leaves to the flower, so I stamped the Giant Peony stamp onto a piece of scrap card (I only inked the edges of the stamp, this saves ink!) The impression is not what mattered for this - I wanted to make a mask, so I stamped and then cut this out. Cutting is my least favourite thing, so I put on some good music to sing along to! 

Now, I wanted to attach the mask to the paper, but I wanted to remove it easily...therefore I'd like to share another great use of the ZIG Memory System 2 Way Glue Pen! I squeezed a few drops on the reverse of the cut out mask, and left it (it just needs to go clear and be tacky, but due to a hectic couple of days, I left it for 2 nights!!) As you can see in this photo, the glue comes out with a blue tint to it. Used immediately, this will stick your project down. BUT if you leave it, it goes tacky, then you have a re-positionable mask!

 I popped my mask over the top of the peony and then took the leaf stamp (also from the Giant Peony set) and stamped in the desired position. Here you can see where the stamp is over the top of the flower...It doesn't look good just yet....

 But, hey presto!, remove the mask and the leaves are in position and look as though they are behind the original stamped image. I then painted the image using the Gansai Tambi watercolour paints - I'm a little bit obsessed with this particular colour of red - it has a gorgeous pinkness too it!

I wanted to add some words and also to show off how fabulous this next Kuretake product is - the ZIG Emboss pen - now I'm not good calligraphy, so I simply wrote words in, what I hope, is neat writing. I have adjusted the colour hues on this photo just so you can see how the pen looks once used - it has a blue hue to it, which is basically a clear ink, it's waterbased, much like an embossing ink pad would be - but I love this because you can write or draw whatever you want for embossing! I added my embossing powder (I used some ultra-fine ones - see the 'ingredients' below) and then used the heat gun to 'melt' the embossing powder into place.

I wanted to add some words and also to show off how fabulous this next Kuretake product is - the ZIG Emboss pen - now I'm not good calligraphy, so I simply wrote words in, what I hope, is neat writing. I have adjusted the colour hues on this photo just so you can see how the pen looks once used - it has a blue hue to it, which is basically a clear ink, it's waterbased, much like an embossing ink pad would be - but I love this because you can write or draw whatever you want for embossing! I added my embossing powder (I used some ultra-fine ones - see the 'ingredients' below) and then used the heat gun to 'melt' the embossing powder into place.
For those observant humans, you will notice that I've applied glitter to the dragon fly wings... I used the ZIG 2 way glue pen to the wings and then sprinkled a very fine glitter over the top. It's not easy to capture in a photograph (I must buy the Kuretake Wink of Stella pens... I have a feeling they will look awesome on the dragonfly wings!)

And here is the completed project!! I have also used the ZIG Millenium fine liner pen to write a few more words - in fact these are inspired by lyrics from songs. One I mentioned above...I wonder if anyone can recognise the others song I was inspired by? It's an old one!
Thank you for reading my blog. Please feel free to ask any questions. I've listed the ingredients used in this project below for you. I hope you have a play with the Kuretake pens and paints - and I hope you share your projects too!

Peace to all,

Products used for the above project were:

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Veerle Summer Card

I’m happy to be able to show you today another step by step I made. With the summer almost here I just can’t stop thinking of the sea. Really looking forward to go and have some fun at the beach.
Let’s get started and get some of that feeling onto a tag.

I took out  an acrylic block and putted some  Cobalt blue of the Kuretake Gansai Tambi  watercolor paint onto it. It doesn’t have to be an acrylic block, just something resisting water so a plastic sheet, craftsheet,…will do perfectly.

 Sprits on some water so the paints are being diluted even more.  The more water you put on there the better the color will float on your tag. The less water you use will end up in darker more vivid splotches of color on your tag.

I used my watercolor brush to mix the water with the paints so I get nice puddles of paint/color.

Then put your paper directly into the puddles of paint. You can move it around in the color so it covers the whole tag. Pick up the tag once and a while to see where you need more color. If you have to much color just use a paper tissue to dip it off and get a real soft layer. Be aware to use a paper towel without a pattern because you could transfer this onto the paper. This can however give you nice results if wanted.
When you’re happy with this first layer you can let it air-dry or use a heat gun to speed up the drying time. Since this is only my first layer I kept it really soft.

For my second layer I brought the nr 55 Green in onto my acrylic block. I putted a hint of the green in between the blue and putted more of the green at the bottom.  This way I want to get more of the green at the bottom of my tag. Repeat previous steps: spritz on some water and mix it with the water brush to get puddles of color. The more water you use the lighter the colors will be.

I went on putting my tag in the color, adding some of the paint when I thought the color was to light, or some water when I thought I had to much color going on. In between I dried my layers to prevent them to mix with each other not leaving enough movement on my tag.
When dry you can choose to “erase” some of the harder edges you can get by just getting them wet and dab them away with the paper tissue.

While the tag is given time to dry really well I stamped my seahorse onto watercolor paper with versamark ink. This is a colorless ink that gives you the possibility to use embossingpowder and have the black lines of the image slightly raised.
To color this seahorse I used my Zig art and graphic twin markers.  First piece of the seahorse was colored in by putting color directly onto one part of the seahorse with the marker. Leaving some white space so I could drag the color out using a slightly wetted brush. This way you get some depth in the color.
For the second part ( in the middle) I scribbled some color onto an acrylic block so I could pick it up with a slightly wet brush. This way you get a lighter color onto your paper. Then I rinsed out my brush and used it to drag that color out again.

 The more water you get into your color on your acrylic bloc the lighter it becomes.

 I also brought in just a little bit of yellow in the belly of the seahorse.

I took out two pieces of left overs of my watercolor paper. Using the same technique to color the tag I colored one piece green using nr 53 Mid green. This will be used to die cut some leaves out.
The second piece was colored using the watercolor brush. I mixed some of the nr 55 Green + nr 62 Cobalt Blue on an acrylic block. Using my watercolor brush I colored my paper. This piece will be used to stamp on a text.


I wanted some bubbles in my water so I took out a stencil with circles and my Zig emboss pen. By using this marker I can easily choose exactly which bubble I want on my background. I ‘ve drawn in the circles I wanted using the zig marker putting down a sticky layer where I can put on some embossing powder. After heating the embossing powder I got these shiny bubbles in my water.

And here we are when we put everything together. I also used a Zig millennium marker to draw a line around the entire tag and around the leaves to get them to stand out a little bit more to the background.
I have chosen the word cherish but you can easily put any text on there to turn it in to a label to put on a gift.

I hope you liked it and will try out this way of using the Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolor paints.  You can create really nice backgrounds this way to use in a lot of different projects. Have fun!
Greetz, Veerle

Used materials
Kuretake Gansai Tambi nrs.   53 Mid Green  -  55 Green  -  62 Cobalt blue
Zig art and graphic twin pens nrs. 1 – 16
Zig embossing marker
Zig millennium pen 01
Watercolor paper – black cardstock
Retired die to cut out some leafs
Stamp: Deep red ~seahorse  -  Crafters companion ~Words of wonder 1
Black archival ink
Versamark inkpad
Embossing powder: black - holographic
Stencil Finnabair

Wednesday, 10 June 2015


 I've created a second piece of artwork for you guys to get inspired by.

My first step was to draw an outline of the picture i wanted, due to these Gansai Tambi being watercolour inks, i decided to draw myself some koi. I put my own spin on a normal koi design and mixed up the flow of the lines:

I drew lines across in the back of the picture, with the view of creating a piece where the background was a gorgeous grey tonal wash and the koi were bright and colourful. I also added some wavy leaves to add oomph to the background

Rub out those pencil lines!
I used the Gansai Tambi to create a range of colour play in the koi, i mixed together the colour and slightly blended them out using a wet cotton bud/earbud. I used a range of fine paintbrushes for this as the details were so fine and the space was limited.

I used the waterbrush and both the deep navy and black watercolours to create a wash on the background, i alternated the two deep colours and stopped just short of the koi so as to offer up a nice border.

I used the cleancolor brush to scribble on the plates on my Koi's fins. I scribbled in an arc pattern, leaving an arch of light at the top of each scale. I used a black biro to do some careful cross hatching over the details on my koi...

I love it, it's simple but punchy. The Gansai Tambi were an absolute pleasure to work with, very highly pigmented but easily diluted. I think they'd be fantastic for a wide range of works and details. The waterbrush was fantastic too, i found it easy to spread out the watercolour to create a sweeping shade dilution.

For this artwork i used:


Draw over the lines using a pen and rub out those pencil lines!!
I hope you like my piece and enjoy creating it for yourself!!