Thursday, 16 May 2019

More Forest Magic in a Shrine - a DecoArt Mixed Media Blog Project

Oh, well....this post was originally just meant as a short invitation over to the DecoArt Mixed Media Blog, where I am sharing my latest project today, but I got stuck somehow right at the beginning and that has then become a longer blurb about some thoughts and feelings that came up while trying to do this write up and coming up with a fun and inviting message to lure you over (obviously "fun and inviting" wasn't really my thing

 You do not need to read that at all and I am definitely not offended (as I won't know anyway) if you decide to just click HERE to get taken to the DecoArt Mixed Media Blog post and tutorial. ;)
I just wanted to share what crossed my mind today and what it is that sometimes makes writing up invitational posts or even designing as a design team member a bit tricky for me. And maybe I am not the only one who feels like this at times...It's the the part written in italic letters at the bottom of this post. ;)

So some detail shots will do the job maybe even better than a witty write up...?

You know me...the forest is one of my most favourite themes and source of inspiration and in this project I tried to capture what I love most about the forest: kind of woven visual layers of interesting shapes, amazing textures like bark, lichen on trees, thicket, soil and rotten leaves, ferns, mushrooms and all the other little wonders you can find if you just look closely...

To make this shrine project yours (instead of just a copy) you should of course use your favourite theme, cutting dies and embossing folders. But there's another reason why you should do that: because I am sure that if you combine a theme you love with the designs and colours you love, this will already create magic almost all by itself. Magic right from your heart. ;)

I hope you will like my finished project and tutorial and I would also love to see your "love shrines"!

Hugs and happy crafting!

PS: still not sure what it was that made me fumble with this write up for over two hours...maybe some aftermath from my stay at the hospital and the stressful last weeks. ;)

It's funny...when starting the write up for this post I felt I needed to apologise for sharing once more a forest themed project, but then I also felt this wasn't something I should need to apologise for, right? 

Not just because even though it is a repetitive theme it still is a new and also different project, but also because one should not need to apologise for having a favourite theme that can be interpreted and re-created in countless variations and ways. But still I obviously feel that little fear of maybe boring you with all my "forest love"...

I guess it is my fear of someone just reading the blog post title and thinking "oh, dear...she did it again...just more of the boring!!!" And maybe this fear relates to our quite competitive ('cos most of the time business related) crafting community's need for always sharing something new that surprises or even sets a new trend all (or most) of us want to follow...

And obviously I am infected with this way of thinking too...which is quite strange, because I - as an arts teacher - know pretty well that there are a lot of well known artists in art history that focused on a single theme and/or technique - and therefore became real masters in doing it...and none of their work is boring at all or feels like boring repetition...on the contrary: it is their mastery we enjoy and appreciate. 

Not that I see myself any close to a master, lol. 
But I find I keep returning to a few themes over and over again - because these are themes I love or feel especially well with when being creative. And when I look at my pinterest boards I find I am also looking out for mostly the same "loves" of mine - be it techniques, media used, themes, styles or colour schemes. You know what I mean? We have our specific favourites or "loves" - they make us not only feel good, but they also are what motivates us and feel especially fulfilling when we get creative and kind of "celebrate" them by expressing them in as many ways we can. 

What do you think?

Monday, 13 May 2019

Summ, summ, summ! - a Calico Craft Parts Tag and Tutorial

"Summ, summ, summ" is German for "Buzz, buzz, buzz" and the title of this week's project over at Calico Craft Parts where it is my turn again to share a project done with some of the amazing craft parts from their incredibly wide range.

But first things first...

Hi and servus, dear crafty friends!
I am finally back from a several weeks break from crafting (and almost anything else) due to health issues and a stay at the hospital three - or is it already four? - weeks ago (I have lost track of time a little to be honest and am still on my way back to a normal daily routine). Not everything has been sorted out by now but I am much better already - and my muse luckily returned too when browsing my special Calico Craft Parts treasure box for some inspirational kick off (which gladly works most of the time).

The first wild bee has just hatched after a long long winter and left one of my three insect hotels on our balcony on sixth floor and that is something that always makes me very happy. The very first wild bee I met on our balcony some years ago tried to nest in one of the holes of our beach chair. As this is a hole that is used for tilting the back rest, I immediately went and bought our first insect hotel and luckily it was accepted by my little busy bee quite quickly.

So today's tag is inspired by the cute wild bees on our balcony and the gorgeous Calico Craft Parts from my stash! Yay!

This is just a detail shot - but perfect as a little sneak peek to lure you over to the Calico Craft Parts blog, where I am sharing a detailed tutorial and of course loads of images of the finished tag. Lots of mixed media techniques (using DecoArt paints and products) and hints on how to create amazing texture are awaiting you. ;)

To get to the blog post over at the Calico Craft Parts blog, simply click HERE. Hope to see you over there!

Hugs and happy crafting!

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Happy Mail Steampunk and Other Goodness

Hi, servus and welcome to my post for today's launch of our May challenge over at SanDee&amelie's Steampunk Challenges

Some of you may already know that I have spent six days in hospital about three weeks ago after I had to be taken to the emergency room where I was diagnosed of having extremely high blood pressure. I was monitored, checked through and they started adjusting medication (which - as those of you who are dealing with this too will know - can be a procedure of several weeks to months). Back home with the new meds hitting right in I haven't been feeling too well during the last weeks to be honest. Crafting wasn't a choice at all as I have been struggling (besides other symptoms) with very shaky hands most of the time...but gladly wonderful Kerstin, from Scrapbook Dreams, who is on our SASPC design team too and a beloved friend of mine, saved me from having nothing inspirational to share today by sending me a surprise "get well" parcel with some handmade treasures to cheer me up - and I will be sharing her makes today instead for your inspiration (and to show off with them of course ;)

So this is a "happy mail" AND inspirational design team post for our steampunk challenge blog at the same time - the beautiful projects presented are just not made by me, but by awesomely talented Kerstin, whose art I truly admire as I always find it truly inspiring (as it is  highly textural and inspired by nature mostly) and - most of all - wonderfully story-telling and magical.

I received a most wonderful collection of Easter, nature and steampunk themed projects - even the box these came in was a work of art! But let's start with these stunning steampunked Easter eggs!

They came like this: beautifully arranged on a little nest made from various fibres and scraps from old book pages - and each egg a masterpiece by itself!

These are just breathtakingly cool, right?

I already loved how Kerstin had arranged the eggs in the box and decided to leave them like this (and put them on my sideboard), but when I took a closer look while admiring the eggs I found that there were two more gift wrapped goodies "hidden" behind the smaller eggs! Wow!

These were two amazing ATCs Kerstin had created using real dried plants in a most fascinating way. I hope she will some day share on her blog how she did them ;)

I also received a lovely hand made card...

...that shows Kerstin's love for scrapbooking (which is something I can't do and therefore really admire)...

...and this fantastic dimensional Mixed Media Tag on which Kerstin has built a little shelf to arrange some Easter decoration on!

I just love the shabby chic look and the delicately vintage colours she chose and the gorgeous arrangement on that fabulous shelf! So beautiful, isn't it?

Just look at the divine crackle
and all the gorgeous leaves and garlands!

But there was still more to be discovered and to be oooh-ed and aaaah-ed over! The box lid itself was pure eye candy and a true work of art! Kerstin knows that I love bugs and nature in general - just like she does - so she had used a cool plastic beetle on it and created a kind of "natural environment" for it.

So, so freakin' cool! I have now put the box lid up on a wall in our living room (right above my beloved little wooden wren that I found at a flea market in Bad Ischl):

Oh, my goodness! Yummy texture everywhere! 

That reminded me of some other fabulous creations Kerstin had sent me last year. (I was convinced I already had posted these on my blog, but then checked and couldn't find any according post in my blog's I obviously had just planned to write the post, had already uploaded the images I wanted to use... and then forgot...Shame on me and that lousy scatterbrain of mine! So sorry, Kerstin!)

She had used a bug on one of these projects too:

This is how the whole project looks like:

She had used corrugated card, some of my favourite colours, gears and cogs, nature objects and MDF laser cut pieces and combined all of these in her own unique and beautiful way! Kerstin really knows how to make me happy ;)

Along with this beauty I also got two gorgeous door hangers that I use on my studio door at times. But most of the time they are displayed on one of my shelves right opposite my work desk, so I see them every day.

This is how my sideboard looks right now:

All the love and effort Kerstin always puts into creating all these beauties show through and make her work shine and breathe.

I am afraid I cannot explain any better...but this is something I see with almost everything she creates and shares on her blog (and luckily with me). She puts her heart and lots of thought into her creations and I can see and feel that when looking at her art. This is something I have developed over the years as an arts teacher. I could always tell when a pupil had done a project other than wholeheartedly and my pupils were always amazed by it and wondered how I could tell (especially how I could tell when they had tried to just do their projects as "the job they had to do" - even if they had been done quite neatly)...just from looking at their finished projects. I always said to them that I loved a piece of art when it showed  a quality that made this piece of art "more than the sum of its parts", alive and touching. Something that cannot be defined by a level of artistry or skill. Something much more important! (and I hope that at least some of my pupils over the years understood what I was trying to tell them...and teach them for their own journeys as creatives).

Kerstin's art always speaks to me in this specific way - and that is something I just love so much about it! So now being the proud owner of some of her magical pieces makes me really happy and feeling truly blessed.

Thank you so much, Kerstin! Mwah, mwah, mwah! XXX


Dear steampunk challenge friends and blog readers, please, forgive me if I have become a bit sentimental. Jus' gimme a sec to pull myself together...erhemm...yes...the May challenge over at SanDee&amelie's Steampunk Challenges is awaiting your entries. There are more wonderful inspirational projects created by the design team waiting to be checked out and the team and I are looking forward to be blown away by your entries once again.

I hope you are all well and feel happy and cared for!

Hugs and happy crafting!

Friday, 26 April 2019

The Spectacular StencilGirl® Squared Off Swap Hop

Hello and welcome! You have arrived at one of the blogs participating in the fabulous and exciting StencilGirl® Creative Team’s SpectacularSquared-Off Swap Hop.

You have arrived at my - Claudia's - blog now. 

Lovely Carol who coordinates the StencilGirl® design team, organised a swap of paper squares the design team made using StencilGirl® stencils (of course) and the challenge was to create something from the papers each of us got back in exchange for the four papers given into the pot.
The results of this swap are being shared today via our "Spectacular StencilGirl® Blog Hop" and I hope that at least some of the fun we all had becomes visible to you too.

I got four paper squares from lovely Trena Brannon, Jill McDowell, Debi Adams and Sunila and Aditi Maheijan and getting a mix of very lively and colourful papers meant a real challenge for me - but hey - you know me - if there is a challenge I will always try to rise up to it and give my very best. ;)
And that "very best" looks like this:

I call it "The Happy Home" and it can be used as a paper weight or simply put on display as a home decoration piece to look at (to make you feel happy of course).

A happy home to me is a home that is surrounded by lovely trees that have birds sitting in them, singing lovely songs. It is a place you love to come home to and that already makes you happy when you see it from the outside.

The effect that I created reminds me a bit of trees that have become "victims" of some happy "guerilla knitters". Guerilla knitting is also known as "yarn bombing", "kniffiti" (as it is street art much like graffiti) or "urban knitting".

It always makes me happy when I see park benches, trees or sometimes also scaffolds right in Vienna's grey and noisy city being turned into colourful objects. Sadly I myself am not good enough and way too slow a knitter to do this - but it always puts a smile on my face when I see kniffiti in my hometown. But at least I now have my own (tiny) kniffiti decorated trees at home on my desk...

The papers I got from my lovely team mates looked like this:

Loads of different patterns and colours! Perfect for creating a "stencilled kniffiti" effect. ;)

I always have some wooden houses (for altering) in my stash (I always buy any I find in sales sections of home decor stores) and I started with priming my house with two thorough coats of DecoArt Americana Chalky Finish paint "lace".

Then I cut the papers into strips and rectangles of various sizes...

...and collaged these to all the sides of the little house using matte DecoArt Decou-Page.

The result was very colourful and to cover most of it up by adding white Gesso on top really needed a lot of bravery to be honest ;)

I used the beautiful "Leafy Trees Arch" mask designed by Valerie Sjodin and two coats of DecoArt media white Gesso that I applied with a cosmetic sponge.

A single tree on the back and two trees (to put a door between them) on the front.

I also applied more white Gesso around all the house's edges.

Then it was time to add a little quote and a bird. I used a PITT Artist Pen to draw the bird on the branch and a black Stabilo aquarellable pencil to shade in the word tiles. 

A small door shape (from Calico Craft Parts) was covered with a scrap of the papers I got and glued in place. Done!

The papers I had sent over to Carol for the swap were some of these (honestly I don't remember exactly which ones I picked at the end). But I am already veeeery curious to find out who got them and what my teamies did with them....
I have also included some pictures of my happy messy Gelli Plate session. There's a list of the stencils shown and used at the bottom of my post.

StencilGirl® stencils I have used:

Oval Shapes from the "Playtime" Collection
Dune Grass Mask
Fallen Leaves
Deconstructed Zinnia Mask
Ski Lift Works
Wall of Words

And now it is time for you to hop on, get inspired and have a lot of fun! 
(and maybe even become a prize winner...)

The more blogs you comment on the more chances you have a chance to win one of four $25 gift certificates for stencils from StencilGirl® Products. Comment by May 3, 2019. Winner notified by email May 6th.

Claudia Neubacher (you are now here)

Hugs and happy hopping (and crafting of course)!

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