Red Squirrel and Autumn Leaves - hand-carved stamps tutorial

Friday, October 24, 2014

You may not know already but I'm a big fan of nature, and I'm constantly inspired by it.  So as I've been creating my own hand-carved stamps I decided to create some stamps based on some of my favourite flora and fauna. Since we're in autumn I'm going to start with some autumn inspired images, when I think of autumn, for me the squirrel always comes to mind, not the foreign grey fellow but our lovely red native squirrel here in Ireland. In case you're interested in the whole process of creating your own hand-carved stamps I've taken a few photos along the way to give you an idea how it works.

I always start with a few sketches, in pencil first, then once I'm happy with the image I trace over the sketch using a black pen and a light box to create a more defined image. Then I transfer this image onto my carving block using a pencil tracing, placed face down on the block and rubbed with a bone folder. I would recommend using a slightly darker pencil 2B or 3B to get a good impression.

Then I start by carving the outline. Taking my time and always carving away from myself. I used some standard lino cutting tools for this part.

Once I have the basic outline carved I go back in with a finer tool to carve some detail lines, I bought this Japanese tool as part of a set of three from Etsy.

This was my first time carving fur so I added more detail than I usually would because I didn't want the image to be too flat.

At this point I carved beyond the outline and began cutting away some of the excess block using a craft knife, following the shape of the squirrel.

Then I tested out how the stamp was inking, I used Memento Luxe inks here. Not completely happy I went back and carved some more lines and decided to create a separate mini stamp for his eye.

I used Speedball Speedy-Cut Easy (carving block) for the squirrel, this was my first time using it and I have to be honest I won't be buying it again. Compared to some of the other blocks I have been using it was much dryer, more crumbly and didn't stamp as well. I had to use Versamark ink before applying the Memento Luxe ink to get a good impression.

After I finished the squirrel I made some leaf stamps and an acorn to use alongside the squirrel stamp. I had some other floral and leaf stamps already carved that I used as well. Again I used Memento Luxe inks to stamp the finished piece.

The stamps turned out quite large and it would have been difficult to create the squirrel much smaller but I still wanted to make a small card so I scanned the stamped image and scaled it down to fit my card. I cleaned it up a bit digitally.

The printed version turned out great and I can't wait to make some more woodland creatures... Next up I think is a hedgehog and maybe a blackbird!

I hope you enjoyed taking a look at my process of creating hand-carved rubber stamps and maybe you might go and create some of your own! It really is a lot of fun! : )

Where I create...

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hello, I thought I'd give you a little peek into my creative space today, I've been meaning to do it for a while now and it's relatively tidy at the moment. It's nothing too fancy but I love it because it's my space and it's cosy. I love taking a peek at other people's creative spaces for ideas and out of curiosity too! So here's a look at mine! : )

Niall made me this great fold-down table so I can do some work standing up, it's better for your back apparently to spend some of the day standing while you're working instead of sitting at a desk all the time. There's enough space to make a card on there or use the computer.

It was really quick and simple to make (for him!), he used some 2"x1" pieces of wood, a piece of MDF and a piano hinge. I painted it using a simple white satinwood paint, to keep it bright and fresh.

I try and vary the storage in my space, here there's a wicker picnic hamper used to store fabrics, a butterfly box my mum gave me and a vintage suitcase belonging to my grandmother and also used by my dad as a child!

This comfy chair I picked up very cheaply at a hotel clearance sale and my talented mum made the loose cover for it. I sit here when I'm tired of standing, lol! : )

I love this free standing metal shelving unit, it's bright and airy and I can fit a lot of storage boxes on it, this is where I keep my sewing machine, finished cards, ribbons, crepe papers, tissue papers, stickers and lots more! I also keep some electrical devices in this corner, scanner, silhouette, printer etc on another stand, you can just see the edge of it.

As you can see I've really made use of the wall space in this room! These were just basic wooden shelved Niall put up for me and I painted them white. The wire shelf racks add that extra bit of storage space and they just slot right on to the shelf. I keep my inks, buttons, finished paintings and other odds and ends over here.

On the other side of the room I've a little library that Niall made for me, I painted it white, it stores some  books and magazines I've had work published in. The larger wooden unit I bought, it stores most of my 12x12" cardstock, smaller patterned paper pads, more inks, stains, quilling papers, embossing powders, paper flowers, markers, paints, die-cutting machines, rubber sheets, cutting tools, pretty much everything I'd use most often. I like being able to see what I have and find it pretty quickly. Niall made the handy corner shelves on the wall, I have my radio and acrylic paints up there.

I added some pretty flower fairy lights around the top of the unit, these add such a lovely glow in the evening if I'm working late on some projects, it makes the room feel so cozy and welcoming!

I do love glass jars, I usually can't resist them if I see one in a shop and it's an interesting shape or size. I keep more ribbon, twine and other bits here. I love how the light reflects off them and makes the room brighter.

I've a couple of these fabric covered storage units in my room, they're very inexpensive and hold quite a lot of supplies. I keep stamps and other embellishments in there. The baskets have card blanks in them and some dies. Of course there's some more shelves, with those handy wire trays. The gold coloured damask vintage box belonged to my grandmother and I keep vintage cards I've collected in there.

So, I hope you enjoyed having a little peek inside my creative space. I hope you get some ideas for your own space and see that you don't really have to spend a fortune to create quite a cozy and personal creative space.

Stamping on Fabric Tutorial - Shopping Bag

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I've a fun project to share with you today and I took some photos as I went along so I've a tutorial for you too! It's a stamping on fabric tutorial, using Memento Luxe inks (these are mixed-media inks designed for a variety of surfaces including fabric) and some of my hand-carved stamps. I used a 100% Cotton shopping bag to stamp on, I picked this one up from my local supermarket. In Ireland plastic bags were pretty much banned in 2002 when a levy was introduced and people were encouraged to bring their own bags when shopping. We've all gotten used to it now and most people have a nice variety of shopping bags, from natural hessian, to oil cloth and many more.

I ironed the surface of the bag first so I had a nice smooth base to stamp on. I didn't use steam because I didn't want to add any moisture to the fabric that might effect the stamping.

Then using a pencil I marked out the area I wanted to stamp on, I simply added some light pencil marks measuring out a border around the stamped area. (The pencil marks can be rubbed out later with an eraser).

I added a sheet of ordinary copy paper inside the bag behind the area to be stamped to prevent any ink bleeding through to the other side of the bag. I also used a foam mat underneath the fabric where I was stamping, my mat was small so I moved it along as I stamped.

Then I simply stamped my images in the area using Memento Luxe inks, I used a mix of inks and added shading around some of the images by using two tones of similar color ink. I did find these inks were super juicy and perfect for stamping on fabric. I'd definitely recommend using a foam mat for stamping though because you need to press harder when stamping on fabric because of the absorption compared to paper.

I finally made my teacup stamp too! I played around with a few different designs but settled on this sweet teacup image and I even made it into a two step stamp! I designed a mug stamp too that has a separate heart stamp for adding a different color to create a heart pattern on the surface.

Just for fun I made a biscuit (cookie) stamp with a bite out of it and a separate crumbs stamp! I have to say the japanese carving tools I bought made it much easier to carve the teeny tiny text on these biscuits!

Once I'd finished stamping I had to heat-set the ink. So I placed a piece of copy paper over the stamped area and ironed over it, this was just to prevent getting any ink on my iron. I used a medium heat setting, again with no steam.

Then I removed the paper and ironed directly over the surface to make sure it was really set. Some ink did transfer to the piece of paper that I removed but there was none on my iron.

And here's the finished shopping bag! It turned out pretty cute and the Memento Luxe inks definitely did a great job on the fabric!

Here's a closer look at the hand-carved stamps I used to stamp the bag. Most of these biscuits (cookies) are Irish/British classics, apart from the Oreo, that's an import! : )

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and maybe you'll give stamping on fabric using Memento Luxe inks a go sometime. Thanks for dropping by today!

Quilled Flower Bookmark Tutorial - Splitcoaststampers

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I've a quilling tutorial over on Splitcoaststampers today on how to make this cute Quilled Flower Bookmark. There are step-by-step photos and wait for it, yes there's a video! I don't make that many videos, about one a year, so enjoy!

The quilled flower sits nicely at the top of the book, it's the same concept as the quilled butterfly bookmark I made earlier this year but that one was a lot harder to make! This flower is a good place to start if you haven't done much quilling.

I used wider strips than my usual quilling strips by cutting my own, this made the structure a bit sturdier. It didn't take too long to make, I made a few while I was preparing the tutorial and I gave one to my mum and she just loves it! You can check out the full tutorial on Splitcoaststampers here.