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HAD to come on and share my experience with Craft Artist Mica Magic because its been THE best mica experience I’ve ever had. They are the Galaxy chocolate of the mica/pastel world. (Please DO NOT eat them!) What sold me on them as a concept was the fact they were cream based so would not need sealing. They had good storage boxes that looked like they would stack, they blended and with various applicators could be good for so many different techniques. I only saw a few minutes of them demo’d on craft tv and I was IN.

I had been considering Jane Davenports powdered pigments but they too would need fixing. Just a heads up, the colours in both of the Craft Artist Mica Magic contain some colours which are pearly and some which are matt. So I was able to use the matt ones in the Autumn set to create skin tones. There is a good range of colours in there, so you could create various and diverse skin tones from this set. Add a set of the Summer ones and you can create so much more for so many projects.

Craft Artist Mica Magic Summer and Autumn

Craft Artist Mica Magic Summer and Autumn

Craft Artist Mica Magic, feel as smooth as melted chocolate and are a joy to use.

Now I’ve been crafting for around 10 years and have tried a few things. I find chalk pastels and pencils gritty and tough to work with. Messy to use, with clouds of dust, not easy to blend and stinky toxic sealants are required to keep them on a finished piece. I have tried various kinds of chalk in pallets before and again been put off by the need to use fixative. As I have a bird in the house, I didn’t even try pan pastels because like the others, they need fixing after use and the chemicals in the fixatives are not good to be around if you are human and for birds are even more toxic. I don’t enjoy using oil pastels because I’ve never got the hang of them. So pastels I have, sit in the cupboard.

NOT so these new Craft Artist Mica Magics. The mica and pigments are ground so fine, it feels nothing like chalk, there is a little powder to them, but used gently, there isn’t any floofing of it as you pick it up from the pallete (so no dust clouds) and very little left after its applied as it blends into the applicator and then the paper surface perfectly.

The Craft Artist Mica magic, feel as smooth as melted chocolate, as you apply them to the paper, its a heavenly experience. They are an absolute joy to use and for the first time, with this kind of product, my mind is just exploding with all the projects I could use them with. I WANT to create more with them, they were not being ‘over sold’ as is sometimes they case, when you see things on tv. This product does do what it says on the tin, and sooo much more. I LOVE them.

I used them on WHSmith Sketch pad with has 135gsm paper weight, is acid free and almost no key ie its very smooth and they adhered and blended beautifully. (Key is the term for a rough surface that dry pigments usually need to grab on to, to adhere the colour to your paper, but would usually need a fixative to be permanent there). I applied Mica Magic to my drawing with Jane Davenport Baton blenders, which are long handled double ended versions of the kind of applicators you might use for eye make up. These have been perfect for fine detail work and as I have minimal dexterity fiddly little matchstick sized sticks would have caused my hands too much pain.

I found that you can remove the powder that gets in the wrong place with a kneedable eraser. Although I’ll dedicate one to only this process, because of the cream content. I was a bit worried about using pen over the top of the mica as it has the creame base and I was worried it might mess up my pen so I inked first and let it dry. I had applied a good few layers of the mica, and in places when it had toned down the blackness of the pen, from a more opaque pigment, I risked just scratching firmly over the inked lines with my nail, and the colour did lift off, so the ink became clear again.

I sketched in pencil, then used a kneedable eraser to remove most of the pencil, went over areas with pen, left that to totally dry for a few days (mainly because the parcel with these in had not yet arrived and I was SO keen to play with them, that I used a sketch I had already started,for Inktober, to use them on).

Here is a close up of the sketch I used them on, this is the first time I’ve used any kind of pastel for this kind of project and I’m delighted with the result. I wasn’t able to get the larger finger bob kind of blenders at the time I got them, but will save up for some that John sells in boxes, as they will be better suited for larger background areas. I have intentionally left white areas in the hair, the pigment goes on perfectly smooth, the light levels are not good today and this computer doesn’t have photoshop to punch up the brightness of this photo.

Craft Artist Mica Magic pigments on Inktober Davy 14 Sketch 2019

Inktober Day 14 2019. Over grown. Coloured with Mica Magic pigments

Are Mica Magic for me?

If you can say yes to any of the following, go for them.

You like the look of pastel, but hate the mess,

You don’t want to use fixatives on your finished piece and want something that is perfect

You don’t have the dexterity for pencils or paints, this is a superb choice especially when partnered with FInger dabubers that sit on the ends of your fingers or with Jane Davenport Batton blenders as they have longer handles.

I highly recommend Craft Artist Mica Magic to everyone. Best art product I’ve tried in a long time.

Links

These mica magic pigments, don’t just look good, they FEEL good too, no that’s an understatement they feel amazing as you apply them to paper. Get some, you really, really need to try these.

I look forward to using these in a variety of creative projects. They seem just so versatile.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie x

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Welcome Back

Just a heads up to all those who love art challenges, there is a drawing challenge started by Jake Parker called #inktober As the title suggests there is a daily drawing prompt for each day in October, and this years prompts are now live, for anyone who would like to know what the prompts are in advance, I’ve linked to them below and also to a few videos for anyone new. Later I’ll talk about how I’ll be modifying the challenge to make it work for me and my limited dexterity.

First time for Inktober?

Not sure what to expect or what you might need? Here are a few volgers takes on the inktober challenge

Making Inktober your own

Please know that you can follow along to the set prompts, and draw each day if you can and wish to. But for those of us with minimal dexterity, its also fine to write the prompts out and dip in and out as ability allows. You can also choose to make up your own prompts and use whatever materials you choose. Taking the challenge as a jumping off point, n adapt it to what every makes your heart sing.

I’d like to play along with the prompts but it will depends if my hands let me, my pain levels are high n dexterity low. I have been enjoying Peggy Dean book about drawing leaves and flowers called Botanical drawing, which shows how to draw sketchy flowers n the like, so I may aim for one little doodle here n there, when I can. So I’ll be writing out the official Inktober prompts to play along at my own very slow pace. And go with Peggy Dean doodles as a more achieveable challenge.

 

Will you be joining in with Inktober this year, what will that look like for you. Please let me know in your comments

Best wishes and thanks for reading see you soon

BIllie x

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Welcome Back

Today is World Calligraphy day, I used to letter before my hands got too sore but Amy Latta has a fab book which helps me make regular writting look like brush lettering. Thanks to Amy’s book; Hand lettering for Relaxation and an Anna Griffin stamp, and Tim Holtz stamp press, I was able to create this card.

Hand lettered card

My first lettered card.

Better than a thousand words card, inside

Inside of my first hand lettered card

Back of the card; Better than a thousand words

Here is the back of the card, Anna Griffin Rose

Base Card: Creative World of Crafts: The essential collection Kraft brown card 280gsm

White card: is WHSmith Sketch pad 135 gsm, its super smooth n lovely for lettering, but it not a fan of water 😉

Lettering: by me (Thanks Amy)

Stamp: Anna Griffin a clear stamp from a collection on QVC years ago.

Fabulous Flowers n Leaves

As well as Amy’s book I am also really enjoying Botanical Line Drawing by Peggy Dean, which has doodle style of flowers and leaves and is a perfect companion to Amy’s book. I seem to remember seeing excepts from this book in magazines and the book is really brilliant, rather then buying LOADS of stamps I look forward to a bit of free hand drawing once I’ve had more practice.

Lovely lettering

Expect reviews of these books when I’ve had them a bit longer but so far LOVE THEM, go buy them. If you can hold a pen n write your name then you are totally qualified to give these books a go, for SO long I’ve wanted to be one of those ppl who can pick up a pen n a book n just create, the stamping and inking was a way in, Jane Davenport classes have helped massivly but these two books don’t need lots of supplies, you can use what you have but also give me a reason to get some of those lovely pens I have out of the cupboard n play.

I struggle with high levels of pain n low levels of dexterity so needed a diversion n something that didn’t need me to get lots of stuff out. These books have been wonderful. I highly recommend them. Especially for everyone who loves that whimsical style of flowers n all that lovely brush lettering that is around but doesn’t have the dexterity, the video Amy made and her book, will let you turn your own handwritting into something magical.

Links

  • Here’s how to create lettering like this from your reguar handwritting, this video is by Amy Latta: Faux Calligraphy
  • Amy Latta Blog: Amy Latta Creations
  • Amy Latta book Hand Lettering for Relaxation on Amazon UK
  • Peggy Dean book; Botanical Line Drawing 2018 edition, on Amazon UK This version has the names of the plants you are illustrating, earlier version of the book doesn’t have those names included.
  • Peggy Dean blog The Pigeon Letters
  • WHSmith sketch pad A4 wire bound and A4 glue bound. There are other sizes A5 and A6 so choose what suits you. I have both kinds. If you are quick with it being summer holidays n all, there is an offer on these, see online for details. I’ve loved these for lettering with microns. Best for pencil n dry media but ok for just lettering if you don’t have super juicy pens, don’t dawdle tho of the ink might soak through too far.

These books are for everyone who wants some time away from screens, with minimal supplies and to create something beautiful, or just fun, just for themselves with just a pen or pencil and a journal.

Best wishes and thanks for reading

Billie

 

 

 

 

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Welcome Back

My creative Muse has been calling me back to my inks. I feel called to mixed media but now the craft studio is no longer habitable its limiting what and where I can create. Turns out while I’ve been at the back of the cave hibernating, my fave Adirondack inks are no more 😦 that makes me sad.

The story so far. The studio space (part of the shed outside) is no longer habitable, it hasn’t been for a long time but the time has come for me to admit that to myself and release to the world what was in there. I rescued the stamps that were most precious to me, un-mounted them and left the rest to the fates. They are now going to be rehomed.

The pencils I’m very thankful I brought indoors when I did as now even inside the cupboards the mould that covers the ceiling and walls is also creating a lot of damp in there too, even stuff inside a cupboard inside a box has a layer of dusty green mould.

A lot has happened, I no longer feel called to make cards, my heart just isn’t in it. I would love a messy space where I could keep drawers of paint,easy to hand, and space to throw ink and paint around n not have to worry if it hit the wall or floor, but that is no longer my story. I am finding the process sad and painful, but its not worse than knowing it HAS to be done and stressing about the how.

Circling the wagons

Life laundry. Do I use it…no. Do I need it..no, do I want it? Parts of me do but not in its current state, it all holds so many memories of what WAS but can no longer be. 4 years ago, when (it) first happened, I had a desire to burn the lot, dump the lot, I just couldn’t be around it. I left the studio closed, unloved, forgotten but not forgotten. The irony, now I feel called back to it, time has moved on in there, nature has reclaimed an unused space and now a lot of it is unusable.

I am not the person I used to be, I journal, I write poems, I have been exploring Jane Davenport classes, they can be done with less supplies when your energies are low. I got by on a pencil case with a pencil, putty eraser, a few fine liners and a sketchbook. Gradually the water colours called so there is a box of those and a water brush. They tempted me back to my many and varied coloured pencil collection. The acrylics call but they feel a step too far, tangling with a box to get them out, the clear up before I can eat on the table. So yeah, they sit in the box and wait for me.

Watching a craft TV show, my first in ages, I saw Tim Holtz n Ranger stuff, I was sad, remembering all the cut n dry foam I had carefully mounted onto the wooden blocks I had found in a craft store and that they too had gone rotten. I decided to invest in a few of Rangers ink pad handles and the show sent free Tim Holtz book. It called me back, the nylon back on the foam was ok to remove from the blocks, I had 3 so I wouldn’t have to swap them too much during a certain project. I made a background and used the Tim Holtz stamp platform I had bought earlier in the year. I need better card stock, what I used wasn’t perfect. But I remembered the joy of the inks and colours.

The Tim Holtz Stamp platform by Ranger has been great, my fine motor skills are worse so blocks have been a bit much but this platform means the bigger stamps are now possible. Maybe one day I’ll have the strength to gradually go through the stamps I saved and re mount them again. I feel more called to mixed media and journalling and adding sketches to my words.

Its been about ten years since I started to make cards, I just don’t have the heart, dexterity or energy for it now. I was just watching Sara from Crafters companion on C&C, tempted me to rebuy the eneloper and box making board but I’ve sat on my hands. I have a Scor It board that lets me easily score card, and the card stock stash I had, is also in the process of going. I’m trying to avoid landfill as much as possible. so donating to charities that can reuse things with kids groups, or sell on to raise their funds.

My heart hurts in this process, but there comes a time when that saying  about ‘staying tight in the bud is more painfull than opening up.’ A wise man Stephen Baker told me once, ‘You never have to have this day again’. He also said ‘Its ok to try’. I know the process is going to be hard, painful on many levels and involve many tears. Evolution takes a lot of time and energy, a lot of processing

BUT

Lessons noticed

I can’t say learned, this lesson will be repeated until its understood, it has been repeated to me more times than I care to share.

I did save the most precious things to me, at the start. The lesson was, showing me how much I had ‘saved’ out there in the past, because it was too nice, too special to use and that when you do that, and wait too long, the moment passes. Now I am not running after every pretty shiny thing that comes on TV. I have no where to put it and no real need for it. Now I come to this hobby with discernment. I am trying to look at where I am right now. Who I am right now, what I make and who I make it for, then and only then do I consider if what is show will fit with that and help it or is just the latest flower and not for me. I buy artist quality paint because I know it will be a more pleasant experience than the student quality, that by doing so, I will want to use it.

It is Autumn, the leaves are falling, the nights drawing in, it is the season of endings, the lesson in all this is change. It is the way of the world, I can hate change as much as I want but it won’t stop it happening. Like my Dad used to say ‘There is a time for everything’, I won’t finish that quote it makes me cry. He was very stoic about his terminal illness, ‘a time to be born’ and all that. Last week would have been his birthday and was also another anniversary of my husbands passing. I HATE this time of year with a passion, too many anniversaires of those who have passed. Colour for me right now, is a way to express the thoughts feelings and emotions that are beyond words but need to be expressed. Screaming in colour on the page, scribbling in pencils, crayons is very therapeutic.

This is the page that I’m on. I want to blog, to create, to make and will do so, as and when pain levels allow. Usually at this point I would apologize profusely for this not being a happy positive post. But it is what it is, the world isn’t all puppies, kittens etc. Sometimes its necessary to be truthful for how your world is for you, and if we all did that, maybe we would see a need in each other, and be kinder to each other along the way. Faking isn’t helping anyone, pretending you are ok when inside you are crying means no one knows you could do with a hand. The world needs us to be honest with each other. There is way more fake than just fake news.

May you find the thing that makes you smile, and may you find others who share your journey with kindness love and respect.

Sending you peace love and light

Billie

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Welcome Back

Today a book review with a difference. I wanted a book to inspire me, to lift me through strife n stress and perhaps help me to view the world in a different, less negative way. A book to inspire me to create art and heal my heart. This one is working.

365 Tao; Daily Meditations

365 Tao; Daily Meditations

  • Title: 365 Tai; Daily Meditations
  • Author: Deng Ming-Dao
  • Publisher: Harper Collins
  • ISBN: 978-0-06-250223-0

My Reason for Buying

Do you ever feel like the world spins to fast, do you ever fall off. However fast you go the world just gets faster and its harder and harder to keep up. As I said at the start I wanted a ‘thought for the day’ kind of book, one to inspire me to create and the feel differently about the day to day stresses that I struggle to cope with. I tell you this as often a review is based on how well the book lived up to the expectations of its reader, for their purpose 😉

Content

Each day there is a ‘word for the day’ It has an accompanying poem and explanation along with an ideogram a nice calligraphic touch.

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Love the short nature of each page, but there is plenty to contemplate by the words and meanings inferred in each entry.
  • I found the words both supporting and thought provoking
  • Available in Kindle or Paperback so you can choose your format.
  • Easier to understand than some books I’ve looked at on the subject

Cons

Not really a con, just be aware  that if at first you don’t understand the explanation, re read the page a few times during the day. It can feel like a chat with Yoda (No offence meant) and you can be left thinking ‘Whats that about’; but when you mull it over more it sinks in better. Its rather nice that you can take your own inference to what is being said rather than being ‘told’ to do or think a particular way so I very much enjoyed this book.

Value for Money

Excellent

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, I’m finding the print a little small and fine for my dyslexia and I can see me buying this on the Kindle format as well.

Summing up

Highly recommend this book, it is everything I hoped it would be and more. If you are struggling with the modern world, sometimes what you need is not to run harder and faster but to stop and listen. Make a cup of tea etc sit down quietly and read a page a day. If you are stressed out, searching but you know not what for, then this book is for you. I can see this book inspiring art work in the future but for right now I’m enjoying the peace each page is bringing by allowing me to find a different meaning to day to day feelings and circumstances.

De-stress and inspire a new way to look at the world with this book.

Links

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie 🙂

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Welcome Back

Today a review of; Yoga for the Brain Zentangle cards original Edition. I liked the relaxation mentioned about Zentangle but the book I had just wasn’t fun, nor inspiring. I’d seen these cards on TV so thought I’d try them instead. If you want to learn to Zentangle but don’t have a lot of time and space, these cards might be for you. Here is how I got on with them.

Yoga for your brain, Zentangle cards

Yoga for your brain, Zentangle cards

Product Details

  • Yoga for your Brain Original Edition Tangle Cards
  • Manufacturer/Brand; Design Originals
  • Item number: No 3479. ISBN: 978-1-57421-356-0
  • RRP at time of writing: £7.99

Pros/Cons

Pros

  • Compact and portable.
  • I like the size; 6.3 cm W x 8.8 H
  • Self storing within the box
  • I like each design has its own card
  • There is space for you to add a number or letter to the design so you can organize them in a way to suit your needs
  • The design desire is a personal thing, but I really liked the designs on these cards

Cons

  • Haven’t really got any, a niggle perhaps; see Build quality below

Build Quality

The box is superb, sturdy card and glossy. It would last well if you were carrying it around with your or giving it to younger members of the family for them to try Zentangle. The cards are also printed on a sturdy cardstock, I’d have liked rounded corners to be kinder on hands but that’s being picky.

As has been mentioned in reviews on Amazon the cards are not laminated or glazed. This reduces eye strain but given they are a deck of cards, they don’t easily slide over each other like decks of cards usually do. Making them a little tricky to get hold of, but my dexterity isn’t great.

Value for Money

Good. You get 40 designs to copy around the same as in books, there is a book of the same title but I haven’t seen it to say if the content is the same or different. There are about 9 cards at the front with some tips for basic steps for how to Zentangle but nothing too heavy that would put you off.

Would I buy it Again?

Yes, I really like the card deck layout for patterns and would favour collecting designs this way rather than a book.

Summing up

These really worked for me. They are catchy, addictive, portable and the sort of size you could have next to you as you copied the design. I liked them a lot. After my experience with another Zentangle book, I had thought it wasn’t for me, yes the creation of the patterns was very relaxing but I wasn’t in love with any of the designs in the OTHER book and it put me off a bit.

The patterns in this deck I liked, which got me hooked and I can see why people get so excited about it. It IS very relaxing and meditative to create the patterns. If you don’t enjoy the whole ‘card has to be x size, draw dots in each corner, doodle a line then fill in with a different pattern in each section’ rules n regulations that Zentangle has around it, then these cards liberate you from that.

Life’s too short for too many rules, just grab a notebook and copy the patterns on these cards, in a comfy chair with some relaxing music on and you will be a chilled happy bunny in no time. Its engaging enough to stop your mind being distracted by stress and worry and repetitive enough that you quickly get in to the swing of the pattern and just draw. Several of these designs would make great boarders or for bookmarks not just all over page designs.

I highly recommend these cards, even and especially if other Zentangle products haven’t done it for you. Great for long car journeys or while waiting in a waiting room etc or on holiday when  you don’t want to be carrying too much stuff but want to create.

The only other thing you need is a 0.1 micron pen and some decent paper, but if you haven’t got that a decent fine-liner and a notebook and you are away. For younger kids I’d use a regular pen as the 0.1 pen is so fine they are likely to snap it off with too much hand pressure. If you get into it, add a soft lead pencil and paper stump to add more dimension to your designs with shading.

Links

Yoga for your Brain Amazon UK great price as ever.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie 🙂

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Welcome Back

Today I’d like to share an altered box art project.

Altered art: stamped box

Altered art: stamped box

DH was going to put this in the bin when it was a plain cardboard box. I rescued it and altered it using The Birdsong Collection of stamps from Clear Impressions that were on Creative Stamping magazine.

  • Paints: were W&N Galeria in powder blue
  • Inks: Tsukeniko Versafine in Smokey Grey, Vintage sepia and Black

To tone down the stamping and help it fade into the background I went over it with watered down gesso.

Here is the inside of the box

Altered art: stamped box- the inside

Altered art: stamped box- the inside

Hope you like it as much as I do, it looks very pretty on the desk, waiting to be filled with inspirational quotes or ATCs.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie 🙂

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