Tuesday, 5 July 2016

July 6 th 2016

My other recent project has been to make another mosaic for the garden.  I am a real novice and self taught but love the process.
I wanted a panel depicting gold fish to complement the pond seats and pick up the colours in this area of the garden including the blue 'French corner'.

I learnt a lot making the pond seats.  Mosaics which are for outside use need to be mounted on concrete board not wood.


Wood does not work as it expands and contracts with the weather and so the tiles will eventually pop off.

I use the indirect method which involves using strong brown craft paper and reversing the design.

Here you can see the design drawn out and the pattern emerging.  The tiles are glued upside down 
( back uppermost) the front of the tiles is stuck down onto the paper using 50/50 water souluble PVA glue.  There is masses of information and instructions on the Internet.  Here is a great site

I find the best way to see how it is progressing is to take frequent photos.  Because it is not yet grouted it's difficult to see the pattern but a photo works brilliantly.  Oops the fish need bubbles (nearly forgot)! 
the panel needs a frame too.

That's much better!

You can try different ideas and see how they work. 
 Here I wanted to try some larger tiles but decided against them in the end.
If you don t like an area you can pop the tiles off easily and correct.

Once all the tiles have been applied the piece is pre grouted.  This ensures that the adhesive which is white does not come up to the surface through the tiles.   The grout I use is from Topp tiles (the staff are really helpful and knowledgeable) I tend to go with black but there are several different colours now on the market.  Don't go with a colour that is the same as your tiles or they will disappear into the background.

This grout has a special ingredient which stops it from whitening.  It's a bit more expensive but worth it when you have spent so long on a project it's very frustrating to have it spoiled for the sake of a few pounds.  This happened to me on a mosaic table although I rescued it by going over all the grout with a sharpie pen! (I kid you not) I decided I had nothing to lose but it worked and two years on is still fine.

Wear a mask and gloves.... it's a messy job and the powdered grout and adhesive is an irritant if breathed in.

I got a tip from a mosaic forum which was to mix the water and grout (1 part water to 5 parts grout) in a zippy plastic bag and squidgy round to mix.  It works really well to contain the mess.


Here is the panel finished and before it is pre-grouted.

And here pre-grouted

I measured the wall where the panel will be hung and pre drilled two holes.  I held the hardie backer against the wall as a guide and marked the screw holes onto the board and the wall this allowed me to drill the mortar (much easier) rather than the brickwork.  The two holes are now half way across about 1 inch down from the top and about 3 " up from the bottom ( see photo above)

Now prepare the hardie backer board.  I painted the edges and the back using suitable paint. I then pre drilled the hardie backer with a countersunk drill so the screw head would be flat.  This will provide an invisible fixing.  I have left two tiles out of the design where the screws will go. Once screwed into the wall the tile can be glued back in and then grouted to form an invisible fix.  The tile can be prised off if necessary.  

The backer board is covered with a thinsulate adhesive similar to the grout in powder form and mixed with water to form a slightly thinner consistency.  The exact amounts are clearly marked on the pack.  This is applied to the board and required a notched spreader to create furrows. This helps the tiles to adhere well.
Then the pre grouted panel is applied to the adhesive tile side down.
Note to self this job needs 4 hands to carefully position it before it touches the adhesive.
This is then gently firmed down so the surfaces bond.  You will need to make sure all the edges of the tiles and the backing board line up.

Once this is dry, moisten the paper and leave for 5-10 minutes to soak in, you may need to wet the paper several times and then it should peel off.  Make sure you are careful round the edges as these tiles are very vulnerable.  If tiles come lose you must restick them with a suitable  glue as grout has no adhesive qualities.

Once peeled off make sure all the paper is off the tiles and clean them up if necessary.

Once dry, grout the top to fill in any gaps.  This photo is in here so you are nt frightened when you grout!

Use scrunched up newspaper to remove excess grout from the surface it works really well and avoids too much water which will dilute the grout. Some books suggest dampening a sponge and repeatedly going over the tiles to remove the grout. I find this does use quite a bit of water even if you are careful and takes ages.  This is the first mosaic I have used scrunched paper on and it works brilliantly and is quick. 
 When clean leave for 30 mins and then polish with a clean dry cloth.  

Leave over night and repeat the buffing up.  Grout takes 24-36 hours to 'cure' and if you are going to put it outside it is a good idea to seal it with a good quality grout sealer.  The books recommend waiting 72 hours before doing this.

Here it is in its final setting

Close up

Monday, 4 July 2016

July 3 rd 2016

July 4 th 2016

I always struggle with indoor crafts when the summer comes. The garden beckons and having been retired now for a year I have been able to give it the time it deserves this year.

This photo was taken on 31 st May this year
The alliums were great, especially the three globemasters (middle of bed).  The larger head size is not so obvious. They have been great value, I plan to get some more for next year for both sides of the path, they are now forming seed heads but are still lovely. 

The bed otherwise is waiting patiently for the perennials to spring into life.

And now!

It's great to see it at this time of year, The wall was built last year, finished in late July and then planted up so all these plants are in their first year, almost certainly too many.
 The illusion door is brilliant, it fools most people and gives a real focus to this side of the garden, the path nicely breaking up the two beds.

Trip round the rest of the garden

The pond has goldfish and a heron stop wire fence which has mostly worked except for one event earlier in the year when a new heron on the block halved the stock!

The beautiful Japanese grass Hakenechloa macra at the back of the pond has a lovely compact habit and is very well behaved.
The pot in the foreground with the multicoloured leaves is Hottuyunia cordata 'chameleon'  it is very invasive if in open ground and it likes a moist, well drained soil.  I ve tried it in the pond but that was too wet. So I have lined this pot and the one on the other side with a thick black bin bag, slashed the bottom and filled with compost, manure and John Innes no 3. This makes a 'bog pot' and they love it, they've flourished and are hopefully contained.

The 'aviary' in the background is a cat house for our indoor cats.  Our Ragdoll (such a fantastic breed)   Minx now goes into the back garden which has been made much safer with the wall which relpaced a very decrepit fence.   Here she is :-

Ragdoll cats are bred to be indoor cats which is why we bought 2 6 years ago.  We lost her sister earlier in the year from kidney diseases and we have missed her and feel Minx could do with some feline company.
She will soon be joined by 2 Ragdoll kittens 

Ruff (aged 5 weeks) and 

Tumble......so cute, hope she thinks so too.

Back to the garden!

The side of the house has a separate garden linked by a curved cobbled path. Here we have a free standing pond with mosaic seats, made to make them more durable.

There is also a 'French corner' 

The succulent pot is new this year

These are doing well but will need winter protection from frost and wet weather.
I plan to dismantle and cover with Victorian cloches or borrow my neighbours green house.

I have enjoyed being in my garden this year and seeing it mature, there are still large areas which are quite new and I am planning a fairy garden for next year.......

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Clarity challenge 19 th May 2016

Here is my May entry for the Clarity challenge.  We ve been on holiday for all of May so far so not been able to give this as much time as I would have liked.
I have chosen to enter this card which was inspired by one I saw done by the lovely Emma Burns.
I am still very inexperienced with the finer points of parchment e.g. White work but this was a better attempt than my two previous ones!  I wanted to frame her and I liked the lily border plate.
Hope you like it too.

Monday, 2 May 2016

May calendar challenge

May 2nd

Here is my May entry for this challenge.  The great thing about the calendar is that you know what's coming up each month and having been really late with last months I made both together! So this month I am mega early as a result.

I enjoyed making this and adding the cockerels with the double sided sticky square made it very easy.

I now have the beginnings of a gallery in my down stairs loo! The canvas board lends itself to this. 

Also I have discovered this amazing hanging system courtesy of my daughter and her boyfriend.  It's perfect as it doesn't show and is removable! Here is the link..... Sorry can t work out how to enable you to click on it direct! 


And hanging with the commander hanging strips ( see below)


Thursday, 28 April 2016

April 28 th calendar challenge

Completed canvas rather at the 12 th hour this month! 
I followed the instructions on the calendar.  When I went to get my texture paste I discovered it had hardened. So I made my own, 

Here is the recipe :-

It works really well as you can just make as little as you need at any one time.

1 tbs white paint (I used gesso)

1 tbs white PVA glue

2 oz talc mix together and add very small amounts of water to achieve the right texture.

It smells great too!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

April clarity challenge ' Masking' April 17 th 2016

I made this card for my daughter, I like the combination of the landscape and the poppies and I used Faber Castell crayons to colour it from the back and blended them with torchons and blending solution.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

March calendar challenge

19 th March

This took a while to get the ink; spritzing and plastics working well together, could have done better but decided to quit while the going was good after a few attempts.  I embossed the quote so it stood out against the background and then as I don t have the small lamp post ( can t believe I don't! I only have the large one which would have overpowered the poor church).  I went with the geese and added some colour to the hills and the sky.  I hope I have done justice to Barbara's original. 
It was fun to do and a technique I haven't really done before.  

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Clarity March challenge 'all about the girls'. March 12 th 2016

This months challenge is ' all about the girls'. 

I wanted to continue my journey with parchment, but as usual forgot to take photos, it has been on a journey with me to London and back which is possibly why I forgot.

It was quite a challenge to get all the elements straight and to figure out how to get the lady reflected in the mirror the right way round!  I did her from the front and all the other elements from the back. 
(several times) 

My step daughter will be 50 at the end of this month and this is for her.  

My daughters and I were discussing why we like our different and varied crafts, and agreed it is all about the process. One daughter writes, another does stand up comedy! And the third is a dress maker/designer.

When my husband looked at this card which he loved, he said ' wow there's some work in this'! That I am sure you all agree is the point.  If you don t love the process then you won't want to do it.

Anyway here is my entry for the third Clarity challenge. 

Sunday, 7 February 2016

February's Clarity Challenge 'Love'

So far so good! My new year resolution is holding ......2 down, 10 to go.
This month's challenge took me a bit of time to find inspiration, and then I thought of the thank you framer and wondered if I could adapt it.  So I did!

I must do a step by step with some photos but here are the written instructions below. This is also my husband's Valentine card, fortunately he was engrossed in the rugby so didn't t pay much attention to what I was doing!


Thank you framer and mask.
Word LOVE from the word chains.
Couple on bench from the wee folk
'All I need is love' stamp.
This month's heart tree stencil from the stencil club
Distress inks ....worn lipstick; peacock feathers; mustard seed and chipped Safire.
Transparent texture paste (Matt)
Ranger spritzer
Ranger mini blenders

First was to stamp the 'thank you' framer onto white card stock, I used some talc on the card as I was going to emboss the framer. I then masked the 'thank you' while I inked up the stamp using black archival ink. I coated it with clear embossing powder and then heaT set it.  
I then used the 'Love' from one of the word chains. I needed to snip it a bit to help bend it round the 'O' which proved difficult as it is such a short word.  I stamped; embossed and heat set it and then did the same with the birds and the cat and added an additional scroll under the cat.  ( we have two thoroughly spoilt cats, so they had to feature.)
I went over all of the embossing with a versamark pen and re embossed to get a nice clear image.

Once that was done I masked off the 'O' ( with the outy mask) and stamped the couple on the bench from the wee folk and created a bit of a hill and some sky behind them then covered this with the mask while I did the back ground.

I used the 'all I need is love' stamp and versamark ink stamped randomly all over the background.
I then used the worn lipstick, peacock feathers and mustard yellow inks and created a random background blending it well in.  At this stage the images are fairly subtle behind the ink, the more you apply and the darker it gets they do become more obvious.  I wanted it subtle and mainly to add texture.

I then spritzed with water ( the ranger spritzer is brilliant, it holds 4 oz of water and is so easy to control, giving a fine mist, if you half depress the trigger you get a droplet effect)
Once this was dry I added further stamped images of the ' all I need is love' stamp in versamark and embossed with clear embossing powder. I then randomly added some of the hearts from the heart tree stencil with transparent texture paste) and allowed these to dry ( takes a couple of hours).

Finally I added more ink, the textured hearts add some nice texture and depth and take on the ink really well. I finished off by deepening the edges with chipped Safire and going over bits of the design to bring out the original back ground stamping.  Be careful, it's easy to add too much and end up with a muddy look! ( as Barbara would say ' how does she know this?') !!
I finished by colouring some of the letters of the 'all I need is love' stamped images using poly chromos 
Faber Castell crayons and added a drop shadow where I could! 

I hope you can understand these instructions, I must try and take photos next time it is much clearer.

Hope you like it! Hope my husband does too 😊

Friday, 5 February 2016

February calendar challenge 'take flight'

Here is my entry for the February calendar challenge, 2 down 10 to go!
I loved doing the shaving foam background but found sorting out the landscape more challenging! Think I go there in the end.........

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Wee houses meet parchment

I was inspired to have a go at some stamping and parchment after Paul's demo on HOCHANDA on Sunday, and Barbara's blog at the beginning of the week. 
I love the wee house and shops so thought I would have another go at a reflection on parchment while I was at it. 
I m working on the White work and getting the houses straight!!

Here it is

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Groovi trials

HI have been able to spend some time getting to grips with the groovi system this week.  I love it... So here in order of trials are my three attempts.  I must say the photos do hide a multitude of errors but 
I m learning in the process.
Number 1

No 2 

No 3

This one inspired by Emma Burns very similar one just uploaded to her blog.

I also had a go at doing a reflection with the wee houses see below:-

Hope you like them.....

Monday, 11 January 2016

Calendar challenge; January 2016

Here is my January offering from the Clarity calendar challenge.  I have changed it slightly by not adding the tree mantles as I wanted to create a bright, frosty winter scene.  I had to improvise a bit with the birds as I don t have that stamp.
I hope I have risen to the challenge! New Years resolution no 1 completed and only 11 to go. 
Hope there will be lots of us 'having a go'

Hope you like it X 

Calendar challenge update!

I wanted to add some subtle glitter to this card o it had that cold frost morning feel to it.  I ordered an amazing glue applicator which has a very fine metal applicator ideal for tiny amounts of glue.....well it arrived today ( was not expecting it for another couple of weeks) so have now added the glitter ( quite subtle)! It's a great little gadget ( photo at the end).

Glue applicator

Great, very precise application possible.......love it x 

Monday, 4 January 2016

Clarity challenge January 2106

January 4 th 2016

Happy new year!

My New Years resolution in January 2015 was to enter the Clarity challenge every month! I made it in January and then dismally failed thereafter.

Work, life and a redesign of the garden intervened and so I have renewed the resolution this year and plan to enter both challenges through 2016 including the calendar challenge. We ll see how I get on.........

Here is my entry for the 'say it with flowers' challenge for January.

I have made two cards but think this will be my entry, I have posted the other one underneath.I wanted to have a go at layering using clarity stencils and a variety of acrylic paints and distress inks/ markers. I also wanted to use the clear, gloss textile paste to see what happened!
I used various stencils (see if you can spot them all)! 
I love the fact that the acrylic paint acts as a resist to the distress inks. 
Dotty wave; lantern pods; brick wall; ocean swirl; ABC stencil; clock stencil; 
The dotty wave; brick wall and ABC stencil and lantern pods were done with acrylic paint first.
Distress inks; mustard seed; wild honey; pickled raspberry; dusty concord; peacock feathers and chipped sapphire round the edges. 
I used transparent gloss texture paste to add the dotty wave over the top, I used the Chinese lanterns in the first one I made but it was a bit over powering and also the texture paste was too thick.
I love the effect and all the layers give it a nice 'grungy' look.
The flower stamp is Gentian and columbine which I stamped onto 7 x 7 stencil card and masked while I did the background.
I like the texture paste effect which adds texture but doesn't detract from the detail.

Second card

Hope you like it.