Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Christmas cards

The blog has been a bit quiet lately as I have been frantically making things, firstly for my fundraising effort at church (with crochet flowers and embroidered bags) and then as I had a table at a local craft fair. I've been sewing so much that I have just finished my second 1000m reel of cotton in about a month.

I made a selection of cards for the craft fair, with the idea that I could use the ones that didn't sell as my own Christmas cards to send out this year. I'm pleased to say that the fair went really well and I did have a to make a few more cards, as I did sell some.

Here are some of my cards...

This has a watercolour background with a star stitched on, with a stamp of the kings.

The background on this card was made with paint over a gesso background (for texture) with book text clouds.

This is one of my favourite Christmas stamps, which I added some sequins to for a little added sparkle.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Art Saves

Time has passed so quickly lately and I've had lots of ideas which haven't made it on here yet. I'm hoping to catch up a little when everything slows down a bit in a couple of weeks. At the moment we are in a whirl of Christmas parties, plays and preparations.

I have managed to squeeze in some reading time recently and I really enjoyed this book "Art Saves". It has lots of different contributors including Jenny Doh, Melody Ross, Suzi Blu, Rebecca Sower, Kelly Rae Roberts and many more. It's a fabulous book combining great projects with thoughtful words. I've already sent my copy onto a friend but I'm thinking maybe I should buy another one as I can think of so many people who would enjoy it.

I'm continuing my journey finding out who I am in relation to my artwork and I'm beginning to love the title "Maker" rather than "Artist" or "Crafter".

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A banner group visit

This week has marked a step forward in my journey towards making church art. I submitted a proposal to start a new banner group at our Ecumenical Church Council and it was given the go-ahead. So it's all official now.

I spent Tuesday afternoon with the talented ladies at the banner group at our sister church in the town. I found it quite overwhelming to look through their catalogue of banners which have been produced over the last twenty years. Each banner had a story behind it and there was such thought and consideration put into each one. The ladies of the group were lovely and very generous with their valuable advice about things they have learnt over the years.

They started the group with a Bible reading and a prayer time as well as their Banner group prayer. It was great to start with that focus on why we were there.

Things I learnt from them about producing banners were...
  • Artwork has to be clear and bold to be seen across such a large space.
  • White backgrounds and cream backgrounds on white or cream walls don't work.
  • Graduated colours can be achieved layering coloured net.
  • Using italic text can be tricky , as each letter has to have the right angle.
  • Black outlines can add definition if the background and image are similar in tone.
This is their banner group prayer...

"Oh Lord, who has created all,
each leaf and blossom great and small,
look down and bless our work today,
guide our eyes and hands we pray,
that we within you church may make,
a worthy offering for your sake."

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Quilted ATCs

Earlier this year I took a fantastic online class with an extremely talented artist Julie Fei-fan Balzer. I love Julie's bright colourful work which has this amazing freedom about it. The class was called "It's Sew Easy" and had lots of mixed media and stitching projects.

One of the projects was to make some fabric ATCs (Artists Trading Cards) using image transfer techniques, painting, stamping and free motion stitching. I really enjoyed making these and some of my friends have asked me to make some for them too. I've stitched Bible verses onto the pieces and I think these would make a lovely way of presenting encouragement verses.

Here's a closer look...

Crochet flower brooches

I have another little fundraising endeavour going on at church at the moment and I have been using my new newly acquired skill of crochet to make some flower corsage brooches. They have been very well received and I am taking orders for Christmas presents.

The great thing about these is the wool I've been using. It's called "Wash and Filz it" and it's a washing machine felting wool. So I make a wobbly flower with my novice crocheting and then pop it in the washing machine and it tightens up and becomes all neat - hurray!

The larger flower comes from a pattern from the Mollie Makes magazine, with a covered button in the centre. I have been pinning the brooches onto a piece of card as it seems to make them look a bit more finished, and I think it will help to look like a nicer present to give someone.

I'm afraid I can't really link to the pattern I'm using for the roses as I'm fairly sure I've been doing it badly - it's all to do with the difference between American and English crochet patterns. However it seems to work and look quite nice so I'm sticking with it!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Shopping around

I am looking into starting up a new creative group at my church and so I wanted to start with a little fundraising. I looked into printed T-towels and cotton shopping bags but our church isn't big enough to support the numbers required and it would have been a big outlay for a tiny profit. I got thinking and I was particularly inspired by a pattern for a shopping bag in an issue Mollie Makes.

I have been loving free machine embroidery and I re-watched a tutorial that appeared on Kirstie's Homemade Home about sewing through tracing paper and I came up with this design for a church bag to sell. One thing I like about this is I only have to make one to start with and I'm going to take orders if other people would like to buy one.

You can see the stitching a bit closer up here. I finished the design with a little fabric paint and I printed our church logo onto some special fabric that can be run through the printer and is then washable from Crafty Computer Paper.

It folds up so nicely too...

Saturday, 1 October 2011

A mustard seed

I've had this image floating around in my head for months and I've finally got it down into my sketchbook. I used my Neocolour II crayons again. I love their vibrant colours.

This was another image from my sketchbook where I was experimenting with a resist technique. The stars/suns in the background are made with oil pastels and the writing is an embossed stamped image. I then added colour over the top with spray inks.

I was so inspired by a wonderful post this week on the Owl City blog. You may have heard of Owl city's music and I recommend a look at the blog. Owl City is a guy called Adam Young who writes the most beautiful, poetic, though provoking blog posts. The one which moved me this week is called "The Lighted Carriage and the Starlit night".

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Inspiring collage

Today is Wednesday and over on Donna Downey's blog every Wednesday she posts pages from her art books and a video about how she has created it. I LOVE this page. Donna is continually inspiring with all her fabulous ideas. I was lucky enough to go to a couple of her workshops earlier this year and I learnt loads. You can see the whole post, including the video, here.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Encouragement ATC's

A while ago I organised an ATC swap on UKScrappers. An ATC is an Artist Trading Card, which is a piece of artwork which is about the size of a credit card. For the swap we all made ten identical cards with the theme of Faith and Encouragement with our favourite encouraging bible verse on the front. Everyone sent me their cards and I swapped them all round and posted them back so that we all had ten different cards. I have also led a workshop with the same idea as this.

Here are the lovely pieces of artwork which completed the project...

This card even had a little door in the front.

Gail Lawther - Inspiring banners

A few years ago I met Gail Lawther while working on a publishing project. She is a very talented textile artist who specialisies in Stained Glass Patchwork. She produces church banners alongside a variety of quilts. You can see examples of her work on her website and this is one of my favourite ones.

Sketching in a tent

This summer we went to New Wine for the week and I took my sketchbook and Neocolour crayons with me. Here's little look at what appeared in my sketchbook that week...

I wanted to have a page about the line in a song " Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom". I wanted a really free colourful image next to it, so I got my two year old son to paint this!

This song really inspired me to think about art in the church and particularly where I've been leading art workshops in the past and people have struggled to feel free when they are creating something ("Is this right?", "I might do it wrong and make a mess"). I aspire to make my creative workshops a place where people feel freedom.

Some more doodling...

Some more lines from a song...

I attempted a wax resist technique using a regular white wax crayon. I don't think it really worked! Can you see the hearts?

Friday, 9 September 2011

Look at the birds

Here's a another little look into my sketchbook. I used a few techniques I've learnt from Christy Tomlinson's art journalling course (called "She Had Three Hearts") I've taken recently to make this page. Christy has a fantastic blog with lots of fabulous creative ideas. She also chats about her faith alongside her artwork. She is a very inspiring person.

I used a brayer to apply some blue paints to the page.

I added a bit too much paint and used kitchen roll to lift some off, which gave a really nice texture.

I used an image transfer technique to add the birds to my cardboard tree. I cut out birds from an old kids book (bought especially from Ebay for this as my kids wouldn't like me cutting up their books!) and used gel medium to transfer the image onto the page. This is a really fun technique.

I layered up some paper flowers and blobbed on some more paint to make the centres.

As for me and my house

This is a piece of artwork I've made to go up in our kitchen featuring words from one of my favourite songs we sing in church. I made it as part of an online class at Big Picture Classes called "Got Paint" with the very talented Emily Falconbridge. If you click on the picture above you will see it in closer detail.

My daughter helped me create the background by sticking down lots of pieces of patterned paper onto an old wooden shelf. This photo helps see the size of the piece.

I painted a layer of watered down gesso over the papers once they were dry to mute the colours and then finished with drawing, stencilling and inky splodges over the top.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

For I know the plans...

Here's a page from my sketchbook. It could be an idea for a banner. It's made using pages from an old A-Z which I collaged together and coloured using green and blue Distress Inks. My favourite bird stencil makes a reappearance (see my previous post) along with letter and arrow stamps.

Deep Peace

I made this piece of art for some friends recently. The words are an ancient Celtic blessing.

I made the background with some swirly gesso to get some texture into the piece. I stamped the stars and fish and then added colour using Neocolour watercolour crayons ( my colour of choice at the moment and something I carry around with my sketchbook).

The bird is a stencil from the book Stencil 101, which I painted and then went around the outline with a pen.

I added a bit of sparkle with gold thread stitched around the stars over some free motion machine stitching in circles.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


I love sunsets and sunrises. I love rainbows too, and I think it's because of the unexpected and fleeting nature of such amazing beauty. I saw this post on one of my favourite artistic blogs by Alisa Burke. Alisa is also running a fantastic class at the moment which I am thinking of signing up for.

First post

Time to start a new adventure. I've been gradually drifting towards creating art for churches for a while now. I have lots of ideas buzzing around my head and some lovely supportive people around me who are excited to see where this goes. I've decided to start this blog as a place to collect inspiration, to explore ideas and hopefully inspire others too.

Our church is going into a new phase as we have temporarily moved out of our church building and into a school for the next year as our building undergoes a transformation, including a new hall. It's a very exciting time and it is leading us to think of things new. I am particularly thoughtful about the opportunity this may lead to creating new artwork, and specifically banners. We have some talented artists in our church and the church has an art group which meets regularly. I am enthusiastic about making church art as a group effort, where creating it is an act of worship as well as inspiring worship with the finished pieces. I have ideas for working with lots of different groups within the church - more of that later.

I have worked producing church art before when I organised a group of fellow teenagers to paint large banners for our youth group and also coordinated a kids Sunday school group to make a large collaborative banner too. I work as a freelance artist, writing magazine articles, doing product demonstrations and teaching craft workshops. I'm also a keen follower of online craft classes as I love learning new art skills.

I have been very inspired by my friend Peter Jenkins. He started a creative programme in his church in the U.S. called "Create as you are Created". I love this idea of artwork being about relating to God as our Creator.

I am excited to see these ideas grow into something interesting and new. I'm not going to make this blog about making pretty pictures, but about an artistic process to inspire worship.

Well, that's my first few thoughts anyway.