Sunday 6 November 2022

2022 Topic 15 : Paper, Seeds and Twigs {by Riikka Kovasin} with Hot Picks stamps

Moikka everyone, it's Riikka from Paperiliitin blog with you today, and I'm here to share a canvas and a card using Hot Picks stamps! You can see the step by step creation of the canvas in this post. My intention was to create something natural, but these projects ended up having a Holiday vibe about them.

I actually re-visited an old project with this canvas. The project that inspired this was a part of an online workshop, which in turn was inspired by another, even older project! You can see the workshop piece here (link) and the really old one, which started it all, here (link). What I really liked about them both was the repeating pattern in the background and especially the color of the old wood in the second one. That seemed to be a perfect fit for this theme. It's easy to do and yet so effective!

As this theme was about seeds, too, I then decorated the project with different kind of seeds. Perhaps it was the star anise that led my thoughts to the upcoming Holiday season. On the other hand, you could use cinnamon sticks as the background as well and create a truly spicy Holiday project!

I started this project with the one thing I knew I was going to use - the stamp. But even with that I wasn't sure about the substrate so I stamped the lady from the Hot Picks set (HP2201EZ) onto hand made paper and to a piece of cloth. The cloth piece I then again sewed on top of thick felt and then cut into shape. I liked the texture of this piece more, but the impression on paper was more clear and the contrast looked better.

Then came the hard pondering about the base for the project. I had gathered these long, weathered twigs from a forest, but I was hesitant about where to mount them. I knew I wanted to create a kind of stripy background with them but I could achieve that on top of various bases. While I really liked the idea adding wood on top of wood, the wooden base I had was too narrow for the composition I had in my mind - the lady as the focal point and a wreath of seeds under her. So, canvas it was.

It took me a while to decide the orientation of the canvas, too, but in the end I went with the same orientation as the inspiration piece, adding the twigs inside the frame. This way the stretcher bars form a frame for the project and the twigs nestle nicely and sturdily inside the frame.

I then needed to do two things - first cut the twigs to the correct length and then paint the background before adhering them in. For the first I used just sturdy scissors to kind of score the wood and then snapped the twig. This caused some of them to shatter or split, but I didn't mind. They just added texture to the piece!

The second part, painting the inside, was a little bit trickier. Not the actual painting, of course, but choosing the color. Luckily I had my little PaperArtsy color chart to help me there. I created this document when I started as a team member and have been adding paint swatches of all the paints I acquire along the way. As you can see from the photo below, there's quite a lot of gaps in it, but still it's easy to see the color and match them.

As I had the twigs on my craft table, I tested them next to some paint candidates and ended up choosing this gorgeous mossy green that immediately reminded me of an old fir forest. I used Fresco Finish Toad Hall (FF04) to color the inside of the canvas.

In the finished project you can't see the painted area that much, but if I had left the canvas white, you'd see that. This darker green hides in the shadows and compliments the greyish tone of the wood nicely.

After having painted the background and cut the twigs to correct size it was construction time! I adhered the twigs in place inside the frame using a heavy body gel medium. I like this medium as it's sturdy, dries dimensional and can even handle some warping without the embellishments popping off. The only down side is the long drying time.

While the center of the project was drying a bit, I concentrated to the frame part. As I was going for a warm, natural kind of look and color palette the stark white seemed a bit too contrasting. I used Fresco Finish Heavy Cream (FF203) to add some warmth to the frame and then collaged pieces of an old dictionary on top with a mat soft body gel medium. The pieces add a little something to the frame without overpowering the main composition.

When the gel medium underneath the twigs had dried a little, so that they were starting to feel a bit sturdier, I added some stamping on top. I used the same stamp set (HP2201EZ) that I used for the focal point. Originally I had again two options when it came to the stamping - stamp the twigs before assembly or after. These methods of course would end up with totally different results.

If I had stamped the twigs before adding them to the canvas, making up this structure, I could have rolled them over the stamp or wrapped the stamp around them thus getting the image more clear and around the twig. By stamping them as a bumpy surface I got the pattern only to the tops of the twigs and not so much to the gaps even with some pressure. I decided that this linear approach would be better leaving some areas for the eye to rest and just add a hint of visual texture compared to the totally stamped twigs. But this is something you can ponder or experiment with, should you want to re-create this piece!

I also added some stamping to the frame. After the first press I knew I had made a mistake, but continued with it, adding pattern here and there to the frame. You can see in the finished project that I then painted over most of the frame motifs as I felt they were stealing the attention from the focal point.

After finishing the stamping to the background and frame, I added the focal point lady in there. And you know what? I added both of the stamped versions in there! I liked the contrast of the hand made paper version better, but loved the color and the thickness of the fabric version. As I had cut the fabric version with more background, more "seam allowance", it was bigger and thus was a bit visible underneath the paper version. To make the person pop even more I used pieces of cardboard box to mount the paper piece on top of the fabric, adding even more height to it.

Now that all the bigger structures were done, it was time for the embellishing! I gathered some natural elements and the heavy body gel medium to my craft table and then started building the wreath using the medium as my adhesive.

I started with the bigger, longer elements and then added the smaller ones to fill in the gaps. I had some alder cones, star anise, acorns and then some orange toned seeds from a craft store that resembled flowers.

I tried to add the biggest elements near the lady and smaller ones a bit further away. This I did because I wanted to emphasize the focal point but then have something to guide the eye to explore further.

I was first thinking of adding some found ephemera and knick-knacks to the composition, too, but the different shapes and colors of the natural elements were enough. There was no need to add other elements there.

After finishing the wreath, I then turned my attention to colors again and mainly to the lady. As on this point she still was just black and white. I used the same paints to color her as I already had in my project - the Toad Hall (FF04) from background and then a warm orange picked from the flower-like natural embellishments. I used my color chart again and matched the color to Persimmon (FF209) from my Fresco Finish stash. To add a touch of color to the lady's face I used just diluted stamp ink.

To add the same colors also to the frame and throughout the project I added some splashes using the two paints - Toad Hall (FF04) and Persimmon (FF209). I was more heavy handed with the green as it went with the natural, neutral color palette better but added some sparks of warmth with the orange, too.

I also painted some of the harlequin patterns in the frame using Persimmon (FF209), which made the frame situation even worse. Luckily I had an easy solution to the problem. I took the Fresco Finish Heavy Cream (FF203and just painted over the stamped areas. You can see the patterns ghost through a little, but not too much. Much better, I think! This really calmed the busy frame down. I used Heavy Cream (FF203also to add some splashes to the project.

After getting the frame situation back under control, I thought the wreath part needed a bit something. After pondering a bit what this "something" was, I came to realize I wanted to add something to soften the look. Usually something airy like thread or gauze does the trick. Instead of adding just sewing thread, I took my thinnest natural twine and made little bows out of it and then adhered the bows folded in two to a couple of places.

It might have been those white splashes like falling snow or the smell of the star anise that made me think about Christmas. In the beginning it wasn't my meaning to do a Holiday project, but as this now seemed somehow Christmassy, I decided to add the "Joy" from the stamp set (HP2201EZ) to it. To match the color to the colors I had going, I used two ink colors and stamped a couple of versions of the word to a piece of same hand made paper I used for the lady. I then picked the one that matched the colors best, cut it loose and adhered on top of the lady. Maybe "tidings of comfort and joy" is something we all could use right now.

I was so happy how the project turned out, I decided to replicate it as a card. For that I didn't use actual twigs, though, but instead tried to mimic the wood with cardboard. The other option would have been to use wood veneer. Well, of course you could use twigs in a card, too, but they seemed a bit too bulky, even for me!

To prevent the card having too much height, also the wreath is kind of minimal. I really wanted the card to have the scent, too, so I added a single star anise to it. It's enough to bring the fragrance to the card. I made an Instagram Reel out of making the card so stay tuned!

At first I was terrified about what happened with the frame and even considered of starting again. But then I thought it might be really beneficial to show that accidents happen and you can then mend them. The lovely thing about crafting and especially mixed media, is that you can always add another layer, invent a fix or change your plans. Nothing is set in stone and mistakes are the best teachers.

You might have noticed me referring to past projects in my PaperArtsy blog post. If you really like how a project turned out, why not analyze it and make another version! You don't always have to re-invent the wheel but instead draw inspiration from you own, older projects. The odds are that the result turns out something completely different as both the time and you have changed in between the makes.

If you want to try something similar with a wreath of natural elements, my advice is to gather different seeds and elements for the composition. While most of the elements here are brown, they all have a bit different texture about them. There's the fuzzy look of the alder cones, the powdery look of the surface of the star anise and then the rough contrast between the ripply hat and shiny satin smooth of the acorn. 

Also before starting think about how you want the twigs to look and experiment with pre-stamped twigs versus surface stamped. And the placement of the twigs also makes a huge difference! Horizontal and vertical lines change the whole look of the project!

Something I also didn't highlight during the making is the paper I used, that brings its own feel to it. I felt that using a factory made paper didn't go with the natural flow of the project so I used a sheet of hand made paper to stamp the focal point onto. I was lucky to get a big bundle of beautiful handmade sheets from a fellow artist but you could make your own paper, too, and add even another interesting story layer to the canvas.

I hope this project has inspired you to look twigs and seeds in a new way! Have a great November and pleasant start to the Holiday season. 

Xoxo Riikka


Anonymous said...

Love this project. It seems so do-able yet finished looking. Thank you for showing us your “mistake” on the frame and how to fix it. I appreciate that kind of guidance.

Peley Renata said...

Beautiful post Riikka. I really loved that you actually stamped on the twigs as well. It really looks elegant and it brings warm holiday feeling as well. :)