Friday, January 13, 2017

The @#!!!##* WHAT is in the mail???

At the start of the year, you got a peek inside my hot water cupboard (here).  Here's a peek inside the letterbox, which frequently homes earwigs (I had brought it inside for refurbishment)
Hmmmm, not enough Happy Mail since Christmas - spider web, ants, even a bat has taken up residence, and something's bits of bones!!!
The spider web is from Eye Connect.  I threaded brads, and the narrowest cutout of Seth Apter's Citrus die through the holes.  Did the cockroaches think "No Entry" (Triplex, officially) symbols would stop the mailman from disturbing their environment?  The "archways" along the left side are cut out parts of the same die - adding "texture" 👀 or covering rusted-out bits of mailbox where insects come & go like doorways.  I also made use of vintage paper bags from Silver Crow Creations, cutting them for the inner circle of the largest Robo Ring die, (inside right wall above) and ripping a chunk to reinforce the hinge, which kept cracking when only paint was on it.

At this earlier stage, there are only 3 layers on the mailbox, including the "Timeless" stencil:
By the end of it, there are at least 6 layers on the inside of the door, plus the collaged paper and postage stamp.  Easily identifiable is the Discovery stencil which was repeated slightly offset in a second colour.
Seth loves telling us "If it's worth doing once, it's worth doing twice"
So I did - again & again 🔗🔗🔗
The outsides - the back had fewer layers.  You will see the Pathways die cuts in other places too.  I had a narrow strip of manilla folder, which was perfect for a bit of incomplete fencing... or something.  Maybe it's a breathing gap for the insects. 

Typical rural mailbox, it has the flag that, when up, says there's mail inside for collection, and the 4" version of  The Time stencil is a good size to tell the mailman he has to stop and collect mail to the Post Office.  This also gives a good shot of the NZ stamps arranged like the spine of a Tuatara along the top:
Different lighting in the photo below, and you can see Citrus and Pathway dies again.  Some of the Inside Out stencil was heat embossed. Hard to see but all adding texture, or patina (LOL) are stamps: Morse Code, Raindrops, Birch bark, and Letter spin which was stamped onto tissue paper then ripped and parts placed around the mailbox, 

On the other side the flag is again the 4" version of You Got This stencil, telling us from the distance whether it's worth coming down the drive for mail.  The arm of the flag includes the Urban Insiders Bar stencil - one part on this side, the other on the other side.  Both parts are also elsewhere on the mailbox.  Like the Birch stamp, they resembled aspects of posted mail.  I had had a near-final layer of spatters, with green-gold paint.  Looked fab, until it dried to invisibility, so out came the white.  Maybe it's guano, instead of moss-stain.

Within stamp was heat embossed onto tissue paper, and the lettering coloured in before gluing to the front.  (It was also partially stamped several times inside the mailbox.)  The numbers were die cut, stamped with  birch bark - for this project it was a particularly appropriate image, as it resembles the cancellation stamp over postage stamps.
Every so often I make a batch of tyvek beads.  Some proved handy to keep the front shut after threading onto elastic, and the Bat pick from Silver Crow Creations makes a great doorstop on the inside, and a hook for the beads to hang round, on the outside.
Here's hoping for Happy Mail, Fan Mail, just about any sort of mail to clear out the nasty taste of insects and post-Creepmas bills from this letterbox.

When I started going through my tool-stash, I realised how much of a collection of Seth's designs  I had acquired.  It started over 2 years ago when I met him and saw his urban grunge stencils across the ditch in Australia. On the challenge blog here we all feel amazingly privileged to have Seth sponsoring us so generously.  Seth's dies and some stamps can also be found at Spellbinders, more stamps at Impression Obsession, stencils at Stencil Girl, and classes on DVD or downloadable at North Light (and books).
Having watched and "done" the card play video, started the Top 10 Collage Principles one (while sort-of-convalescing from not-whooping cough), read his articles in Cloth Paper Scissors, seen clips with him in episodes of Make It Artsy, this mail box is rather "in the style of", as well as using his tools.  Challenge to me for next month is to use the tools in a not-Seth-style?  Unless E Frog or teamies over-rule me 🔇

Leave us some off-beat, creepy-love below, and link your weird/creepy/dark creation here, because Seth gave us some extra goodies to share!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

December 2016 Winner's Post!

Hello there!

Thanks so much for stopping by today! The holiday madness is done! Yesss!

Today we have a short post to celebrate the winner of our December Challenge....

......the the marvelous piece was created by....

...IKE #2 X-Rated Xmas 2 

amazingly gruesome creep! The Frogster was pleased!

Ike please email us at
so we can arrange your Merry Xmas treat!

If you've missed opportunities to take live classes with Seth Apter, check out his DVDs which are also available as downloads from North Light (Interweave Press).
Backgrounds done while watching his Card Play class done ON playing cards, and on a child's board book:

While you all are here, we hope you come back soon to play along in this month's challenge! Our awesome sponsor is Seth Apter and the winner gets a Seth Stamp, super fabulous! But you gotta play and Link Up with us HERE!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

January 1

So 2016 saw lots of musicians and the odd actor head off to try a new batch of harps the angels have been making, leaving us here to cope with pretending to "use up" our stash creArting and releasing our weird and dark sides.  Long may it continue through 2017!

Not sure about you but I am sooo glad 2017 is finally here! That means we can finally share our amazing sponsor for this month and next, the amazing Seth Apter! Seth is an amazing source of talent and ongoing inspiration. You can find his blog, The Altered Page, HERE . We hope you visit, pop over and tell him Dream in Darkness sent you :)

Seth sent the Creative Team some toys to play with and one stamp set to give to the winner of the January and the February Creative Challenge. But you can't win if you don't play! So, on we go with our team makes!

CT Anne asks, What was YOUR New Year resolution?
Do more housework?
I opened the hot water cupboard, wherein the vacuum cleaner resides

Oops, is that Evil Froggie's nesting place?  Should I slam the door shut? Or live dangerously, have a closer look with the flashlight  - might be an auxiliary craft stash from the looks of the dust on the machine, the mouse trap, and a manky vacuum cleaner brush that didn't quite get put away properly...  think I'll grab that right now!  Add the front of a plastic skull, and that's as far as it got in Michael deMeng's "When Good Brushes Go Bad" class.  Since then, he's been corrupted by taking too many road trips with Seth Apter - because he suggested using stencils in his "Skullduggery" class!  So for a New Year resolution project, what better than picking out "change" from Seth's Unfinished stencil.  Putting it onto a curved skull was a little tricky - one of those practice makes perfect things - with modelling paste.  And it ended up unsure whether it was saying "chanGe", or chanCe" - both work today.

 I took a bit of licence with the stencil, leaving quite high peaks in parts.

 and full frontal:

Dust Bunnies Beware!  Life is unfinished - you hope!!!

Whoah! Anne totally rocked her piece of art! Don't you think?
Well this is Granne here and I made an AJ page inspired by Cyborgs...

Totally had a brill time with our awesome sponsors products:
Maze and Laser Beams Embossing folders,
Splatter Proof and Ring Around dies with some
metal tape, alcohol inks and Inka Golds.
AND the fab iris - got it from far far away land and love the look.

Resistance Is Futile....

Such amazing and fabulous texture, Granne! Love it! Next up, it's me, kim with some more Seth Stash Playtime!

I made a canvas using some of the colors, shapes and words that hold much of my heart.
The canvas is a funky size 7" x 7.75" it started life as a giraffe print at the dollar store.
Many layers later it morphed into this!

I used the Drip Drop die set to cut paper and used the leftovers as a stencil to play with the brilliant circles that make my heart happy.

I used the Stencil Girl Club stencil to do Truths at the top with heavy modeling paste by DecoArt.
For Revealed, I stamped through the stencil letters with the Word Salad circle stamp.

Seth stashed used:
Stencil Girl full size stencil club stencil
Seth Dies and Cling mounted rubber stamp.
Check out his online shop HERE

Come back during the month for more fun!

The Frogster is mighty angry we have used the bones of his ancester in our badge. To appease the beasty froggy, link up your creative makes with us!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Jingle Hells and New Year Resolutions

Well!!!  All the hellish things that CAN happen, DID happen, so they went into my diary, which I hope I can still find in 11 months' time to remind me what NOT to do next Christmas...  I wonder if any of these resonate with you too...
My book pages are from Sizzix  Day of the Dead Sugar skull book die:
I covered the outside (front is right, back is left in all photos) with fibre paste, then Lindy's Moonshadows.  I liked that too much to do more, apart from a bit of blood on the teeth, and filling the eye sockets with Seth Apter's Splatter die - look at all the speech bubbles that have dropped out - too many conversations about what to do, what to get... 
Turn the page, and it's all about the menu - peoples' allergies, splatter die illustrating someone's leaky gut (ugh TMI ) The stress of making sure everyone's dietary fads are met!!!
Whilst here in Middle Earth, it's summer.  And summer means BBQs morning, noon and night, so where are those mammoth steaks?  Pictograph & mammoth stamps from Third Stone stamps were heat embossed on the right, and hints of them rushing around on the left.

One thing I DO remember from Christmas Past, is that every kids toy needs batteries.  But these days, a packet of AAs just doesn't do it 😰  You have to have square ones, rectangular ones, small round flat ones, large round flat ones, ones that slide in one way only, ones that burst in to flame while in use, ones that won't come out if you put them in wrongly... Last year Santa swapped Rudolph's 9-lived ever-red-y nose for a Li-ion battery-powered GPS.
Guess what?
Yep, absolute disaster!!!  And Seth's got a stencil for that too!!!

From battery-powered toys, to other favourite choices by those who do not live fulltime with Little Darlings:
Washi tape holds flaps over the eye sockets, more Christmas wrapping paper as the base, and I'm starting to use Grumbacher's 531 transparentizer with some paints to make layers of background.  And more of Seth's stamps texturizing.  The idea of layers of paint, stencils, stamps creating intricate backgrounds is something he teaches in his Card Play DVD.  Though I've done too few layers on these pages - Christmas rush!
Maybe some fond rellie will think we need an SPCA Rescue pet - a feral Wharf cat perhaps.  Or a sword fighter outfit.  Some other weapons to break a little girl's leg. musical toys that play LOUD...
On this spread you can see the difference between straight paint round the edge, and paint with 531 glazing medium added (green - the stencil was blue, and done before the glaze)

And who do buys these sooo-inappropriate toys?  The Grannies, the uncles, and... The Aunties!
They have to be invited, but oh my!  Opiniated, insist their view the only view, won't see your migraines coming on or that you're worn down to the bone...
Van Dyk Brown is not particularly transparent, but with 531 added it comes up rather a nice sepia - as if those Aunties belonged in a misty time gone by (with flowersoft lavendar in their smellers).  In reality, it's The Clash Of The Umbrellas
More of Seth's stamps, and the Aunties fighting with their umbrellas are Sizzix La Catrina die.
Pages, pages... how to become a book?  I'm playing with running a thread round each one, then plaiting them... it's a WIP, as there are more horrors to diarise.

Stamp credits next page: Oasispalms,  nevermore from Silver Crow Creations, more stamps & stencils from Seth (Story, star, "what will happen", Now is the time).  Outer spread below, Barbed wire with crow from Things to Alter, skull dies Sizzix 

And why do we do it all, put ourselves through such agony?  Look back to "The Reason For The Season", groan at today's madness, and wonder if we've missed the plot.

Merry Creepmas and  Highly Creative New Year to everyone.
But wait... you've all been so busy doing the Christmas-Hannukah thing, you've not been creating darkly - there's still a few hours for the post-celebration depression to be creArted out of your system and entered here for a chance to win some Grumbacher goodies.  And come back tomorrow to see who's helping us kick off 2017 big time!!!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

More webs a-tangling, and a spider in a peach tree.

Well, I finally managed to retrieve my Grumbacher palette knives - I think the frogs eventually found more fun climbing the cherry trees overhead, as the cherries are ripening beautifully at last.
And I started using them, the biggest ones are great for slathering stuff through stencils over large areas, but I also had fun using them with their water-miscible oil paints.  Being me, a palette knife risks being not only a tool, but a part of my "stash".  But these are still too good to use, so I grabbed an old worn small-bladed one, cut 2 of the blade shape of the big one and glued to each side of the small blade.  The original trowel blade is at the top, the small one with one piece of matboard so far:
Knowing I wanted to do some stringing webbing, I used the crop-o-dile to cut nicks all round the cardboard (and tested the Original discreetly as you can see near the handle, for future reference).  I then started collaging painting and stamping both sides.  The "back" side also got strips of ribbon, washi tape, diecut skulls, stamps from Seth Apter, and the stamp phrase from Rubber Dance being heat embossed.
 This picture of the "front" side is at an unfinished stage, and my camera files AND paint edit programmes are all being as glitchy as me lately, so I can't even enhance the one pic I took of the front side progress.  But there are collaged elements, diecut offcuts, more of Seth's stamps and more paint.

 I added this chippie skull from Things To Alter after giving it a glaze (not a wash) using Grumbacher's Gel 531 Transparentizer, with a drop of van dyk brown acrylic paint.
I've been playing round with the Gel 531 medium quite a bit, and there'll be more in another post this month, but look at the different it makes to a very opaque colour, compared with adding water for a wash.  After stamping in Indian ink another Seth Apter stamp on a white ATC card, I painted the stripe down the middle in undiluted van dyk brown acrylic paint.  Being a very opaque paint, you cannot see the stamp underneath.  Dipped the brush briefly in water to do the wash top-right, then with a fresh brush mixed some Gel 531 transparentizer with a drop of the paint to do bottom-left area.  With the glaze you get a fuller sense of the colour, and the under-stamping seems to stand out better too.  After it dried, I inked up the worm and bee stamps (viva las vegas stamps perhaps) with indian ink again, and "framed" the card.

  The glaze stood out far better on the skull than a wash would have, without reducing the impact of the cut detailing.
The skull was glued over the collage with a couple of small peacock feathers as vestigial ears, the centre line of each feather crossing the eye sockets.  A mohair yarn was wrapped between the notches I had cut on the outside edges, criss-crossing the front of the blade only, like a spider's web.  I wrapped (covered) a wire, mixing a multi-colour yarn with another intermittent-bubble yarn, then coiled the whole lot, and glued round the outside edge of the blade.  Just because I wanted to.

After sending you off to hunt for Christmas decorations in Shelob's lair a few days back, there had to be a spider here too.  This came from Eye Connect Crafts, was painted with mica washes then wrapped.  The weird peacocky bit IS vestigial feathers off a peacock, still on the skin.  Limbs are attached with brads, so they can crawl further up to its web :)
Below it are some prunings from my blackboy peach tree and some uneaten bones, webbed (wrapped) around the handle.

Still on yet more medication myself after/with a bout of not-whooping cough, my camera is struggling to make sense of what I see, and can only give me this as an overall picture of a (faked/enhanced) Altered Grumbacher Palette Knife: 

If you're not dying from spider bites during decoration-retrieval, we challenge you to web up your weird, link your creations here.. and be in for a chance to win goodies from this month's sponsor, Grumbacher  

Merry Christmas 👼

Monday, December 19, 2016

Red Against the World

CT Nan today with a mixed emotions canvas.  It is the holiday season and to some it is bringing extreme joy and for many others it can be causing pain and turmoil.  So using my Grumbacher acrylic paints and Transparentizer along with the Art Sherpa's guidance on Youtube, I painted a canvas showing Red Riding Hood as she looks into the dark woods with a strong wind blowing against her back pushing her along toward a destiny that she may dread but does not back down from.

Maybe Krampus is waiting around the bend instead of the wolf?  Maybe a reoccurring nightmare that plaques her?  But she chooses to face it in her heels (my kind of gal!) so I think she has the guts to defeat whatever the enemy might be!

Still lots and lots of time to play this month!  Another winner will be chosen for the Grumbacher supplies so grab your paper and markers or paint and get messy and inky whatever it takes to get an entry into the frog!  Be on the lookout for a close friend of his to make an appearance in about a week!  That is a friendly shout out or warning...even we don't know which one it is!

Merry Creepmas!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Dark places hide decorations

And where decorations relate to last year's Christmas, that have lain undisturbed for 11 months, you can bet your bottom dollar there will be dust... and SPIDERS!!! Possibly Shelob herself, as immortalised in Hobbit lore

Shelob has such a fearsome reputation among the orcs that few venture into her caverns under the mountains. And when they do, they make sure they bear “gifts” for her. And lest she come out and ravage other spiders’ territories, they too send her regular “tributes”. Bilbo was a hobbit who, in innocent ignorance, not only found his way into her clutches, but also got away. Later he floated his mates away from the goblins in barrels. Perhaps he had seen the spider tributes coming in to Shelob, not understanding the significance, but used the idea to make good his goblin escape.

Being a Middle Earthian myself, the idea of "innocent virgins" being sent to their doom, overlaying Bilbo & Frodo's escapes from Shelob, and Bilbo’s escape from the Goblintown, had obviously been in my subconscious came up pretty quickly, so I started auditioning ideas: a tangle of spiderweb that glows in the dark? Nope.  But there was some black&grey velveteen drifting round, I was checking through stamps I had from Smeared Ink - Rick St Denis images - insect & creepy stamps had just arrived from ButterSideDown. Then there was that soooo cute dolly border from Lost Coast just waaiting for re-use…

The background just fell in to place: Paint the sides of the canvas, glue in a piece of seascape scrapbooking paper, add another piece of it border-punched, drape the velveteen. I used double-sided tape to hold it in places until the gel medium dried. The corner folds were perfect for “lurkers”. The henge and portal stamps were just about the right width for the space, so they got painted up using Silks glazes and some Jacquard Interference paint.

Then it was back to those dollies again.

Paint the poker chips to disguise them sortof - Gold - All creatures like Gold. Stamp the centre of the web onto the scrabble tiles. Letters were chosen with intent! Glue scrabble tiles to the poker chips. Stamp a row of dollies with indian ink on sickly green thick paper and choose which ones to sacrifice. They needed to be sitting down, “drugged” with spider venom, of course, before being wrapped in spider web. That meant some geometry involved, which I haven’t perfected still: I inked up only part of the web stamp with Stazon, stamped onto acetate, cut and formed them into cones with a bit of overlap. I thought gel medium would hold the cut edges, but either I was impatient and took the clamps off too soon, or it was never going to work. E6000 did though. How to hold the cones onto the poker chips? Jacquard 3D Lumiere would fill any gaps as well, so out with the copper & red. If you are going to do this, know that you have to hold the cone and poker chip together for the same time as a tv program runs between 2 sets of ad breaks for the glueyness to work.

I really wanted to use the shrunken head, sunken in the deep seas (river?) So it was stamped with Stazon onto a poker chip and tucked in a corner.

Then the dollies went on – and pretty much hid him!
Spiders – some painted with Jacquard interference paints – Essential! Populate the waters (stamped critturs), tuck those eyes back in the folds of velveteen, all ready for you to enjoy.

But if you've not already got your decorations out of storage, pleeeeeease BE CAREFUL!

8x10 canvas on deep box frame.
Hand, eyes & most spiders from Silver Crow Creations
web: Third Stone RS.
Dolls Border: Lost Coast Designs.
Sea creatures & shrunken head: ButterSideDown Stamps.
Portal & stones: Rick St Denis, rubberized by Smeared Ink

Jacquard 3D Lumiere paint for Tribute cones, Silks Glazes and Jacquard Interference paints on henges & portal, & spiders
Fiskars border punch for waves (scrapbooking paper).
Fabric is a panne velvet-type fabric.

Since there's a Crittur Party going on over at Lost Coast Designs, this has been entered in that challenge.
And of course, though it's busying up to Christmas, Evil Froggy needs feeding, so link your creepmas, weird (no element of cute!) here for the chance to win goodies from Grumbacher.