28 February 2014


While you're all waiting for me to reveal more about my recent explorations into fabric marbling - oh, I can feel the anticipation growing!! (or then again, perhaps not...) - I'll share another quickie with you.

Many of you know by now that I'm a great fan of Alabama Chanin. Some weeks ago I decided to make an Alabama Chanin rag boa, from Natalie Chanin's first book Alabama Stitch Book. I got out a bunch of old t-shirts that I'd saved (since I bought her books, I haven't been able to throw away any old t-shirts). The instructions were simple enough: cut strips in three different widths and stack them on top of each other in five layers (with the biggest strip in the middle of the sandwich). Add more strips lengthwise until you have a multiple-layer fabric strip long enough to make up a boa. Sew them all together with a seam that runs in the middle of the strip the whole length of the boa. Then cut into the strip from the sides to make a fringe.

My collection of old tees (guess what my favourite colours are):

The finished boa

in close-up

And now I'm only waiting for spring to arrive so I can 
throw the boa around my neck and hit the streets.

Thanks for visiting, and I promise I will write about marbling soon!

- Annika

20 February 2014

Paste Paper

I've been experimenting with fabric marbling again, trying to figure out what you can use as the base (or 'size') instead of carrageenan, which isn't easy to find where I live. I've tried wallpaper paste and a paste made from water and potato flour, and so far I've had mixed results. I will return to these experiments soon on this blog, but today I'll write about something else, which you could say is a by-product from my recent experiments.

Looking at the wallpaper paste that I'd mixed for my marbling trials, I was reminded of a workshop with Diana Trout (Playful Paper Backgrounds) that I watched a while back. She was making something she called 'paste paper', which I thought looked fun. Basically, it is mixing something like wallpaper paste with acrylic paint, applying the mixture to paper, and making patterns in the thick paste. After the paint paste has dried you can use the patterned paper for different things, such as collage, card making, scrapbooking, and so on. So having an abundance of ready-mixed wallpaper paste I decided to give it a try.

I got out a collection of different kinds of papers to see how each of them would react to the treatment. The heaviest paper was a 180 g/m2 drawing paper, and the rest were a cheap and thin drawing paper, Letraset Comic Marker paper, normal copy paper, brown wrapping paper and pattern tissue paper. I had my doubts about the last one, but threw it in anyway, just to see what would happen.

I soaked all the papers apart from the tissue paper in water a few seconds prior to applying the paint, to avoid buckling, but wiped off excess water before applying the paint paste. I mixed acrylic paint into the wallpaper paste and used a sponge brush to apply the paste. I then used different texturizing tools, including my favourites - the silicone paint shapers - to make patterns.

Here are some of the papers:

Cheap drawing paper

Copy paper

Brown wrapping paper

Pattern tissue paper

Pattern tissue paper

I really enjoyed making these papers, as it was one of those Zen 'back to kindergarten' activities where you are allowed to play with goopy things and make a mess.

I was quite surprised by the fact that all the papers worked well for this technique - even the tissue paper! True, it was very fragile when wet with paint, but being careful, I managed to move it to a safe place without it ripping up. And it turned out that the tissue paper, along with the copy paper and brown wrapping paper became my favourites. They are cheap, worked just as well as the more expensive papers, and are thin enough to work well for collage. I still have unused wallpaper paste mooching about, so I might just make some more, in different colours. Try it!

Thanks for visiting!
- Annika

13 February 2014

Friendship Day Cards

In Finland Valentine's Day is often called Friendship Day, and it's a day which is not only for lovers, but also for friends that want to send each other a little greeting. This year I made some Friendship cards, and I thought I'd share the process with you. I enjoy making cards like this, and you've seen similar cards on this blog before (e.g. here). Basically the motif is composed of a background square of some colourful material (fabric, paper, paper fabric, coloured baby wipes) on which I place an image I've cut out from cardstock or stiff drawing paper.

I started with the background. This time I decided to use my brand new thermofax screen to print some faux script on fabric. To make it extra festive, I decided to use metallic foil for the print. So I used foil glue instead of paint...

and when the glue had dried to a sticky surface, I put foil on top and rubbed the foil with my fingers and then a bone folder to make the foil stick to the glue...

and then I pulled off the foil sheet. I love the effect of gold script! (But not to photograph it - impossible in the lighting conditions we have right now!)

I then cut the background fabric into small squares, and glued them onto blank folded cards.

Then it was time to create the main motif. I drew a heart on a sheet of paper...

and scanned it into my computer. It was then easy to import it into a text-editing programme (MS Word in my case), and to change the size to the right measurements. That is to say, you don't have to draw the image to the final size. Draw it bigger, and scale it down with your computer. When the image had been resized, I duplicated it to fill a whole A4 page, which I then printed onto 180 g/m2 drawing paper.

I cut out the heart shapes and added little double-sided sticky pads to the back of them, to make them stand out from the background...

and attached them to the card. Finished!

I hope you'll find this card technique inspiring. Of course, if you only make one card, you can skip the scanning and printing stages, and just use your original drawing. Happy Valentine's Day!

- Annika

10 February 2014

What I Did Last Summer, Part 1

Last summer I did some exploration into dyeing with plant materials, but unfortunately I haven't got round to telling you about it! So I'll do a mini-series that I hope will inspire you to try some eco dyeing next summer. It's still deep and dark winter in Finland, but perhaps reminiscing about last summer will make it more bearable until there are more definite signs of spring around.

But wait! You don't have to wait until summer! Perhaps you have something in your cupboard or fridge, or perhaps a potted plant that you might use for this cool technique. You need two sheets of inkjet photo paper, a spray bottle with water, a couple of transparencies (or plastic bags), old newspaper and something heavy, like a stack of books, and of course some form of plant material.

You start by spraying a coat of water on the glossy side of the photo paper (or running the paper under the tap and shaking off the excess). The glossy side is the side that will accept pigment. Put the paper on a protective plastic surface. Then arrange your plant material on the photo paper. Here I've used strawberry caps and crushed tea leaves.

Spray a second sheet of photo paper with water and put it on top of the arrangement, glossy side down. Add another protective sheet of plastic, place the stack between old newspaper, and place some weights on top. Leave it for at least 24 hours, and NO peeking! This is the hardest part of the technique. Then open the layers, rinse off the plant material and let it dry.

Here's the result with strawberry caps and tea:

Next, I decided to aim for more colour. I tried lobelias and pansies.

And this is the result. Pretty cool! It's interesting how the blue pigment has migrated to the edges, whereas green and yellow form more uniform areas.

Here's a sample with geraniums and leaves of silver falls (which didn't leave much of a mark, but more of a resist):

And a close-up. It's like a watercolour painting, isn't it?

And finally, onion skins, which are a lot easier to get hold of right now:

The results are totally unpredictable and pretty amazing. I feel I want to explore this more: red onion skins, red cabbage, pomegranate peel, berries from the freezer... there must be loads of things to try!

These plant 'photos', by the way, could be fodder for e.g. card-making, scrapbooking or collage, so have a go with it. But I'll have to warn you: it's addictive. Soon you'll run out of photo paper. But, hey, it's a lot cheaper than using the printer. Photo paper gobbles up so much ink, you might as well save your money and use it for this instead. ;-)

Thanks for visiting and see you again soon!

- Annika

2 February 2014

Knot bag

A couple of weeks ago I posted images of a bag project, where I used spray paint with freezer paper resists. When I last wrote about this project I hadn't decided whether to embroider the resisted shapes or not. Of course I couldn't resist (if you pardon the pun) stitching them, as I found the perfect embroidery thread in my stash. A skein of hand dyed embroidery floss from Oliver Twists Fibres that I got in Birmingham last August. I mean, feast your eyes on this:

(The fabrics in the background are from Liberty, and I am saving them for something special.)

So, here I am stitching away. In fact it was fairly quick, as I did just a running stitch. I love running stitch. Simple, yet effective.

This little bag is perfect for holding my yarn when I knit or crochet:

One handle is shorter, and forms a simple knot when it's slipped over the longer handle:

And If you're curious about the crocheted thing dangling from the bag, it ended up in this project (which is still in progress):

Have a great day, and thanks for dropping by!

- Annika