I was inspired by Art Daily Cafe’s Mood Board for June as soon as I saw it – here it is below
It’s weird because if you know me, you will know that this is not my colour (although I’m pretty sure I wore some in the 80s lol don’t judge) but somehow this coral colour looks so wonderful and exuberant in this mood board that I wanted to challenge myself to make something with it (totally outside my comfort zone!)
This did not set out to be a tutorial but I did take a lot of photos and I did use a lot of different techniques so I thought I would turn it into a process post and share what I did and how I did it. I am also including what went wrong and what changed along the way because I think it’s important sometimes to include the less-than-perfect moments along the way. Sometimes on Social Media everything seems perfect 100% of the time, but remember that people pretty much only show the best version of their photos and no one is perfect all the time.
Firstly I started off by covering one of these thickboard (chipboard) tags with white gesso and then used Distress Collage Medium to stick down some of Finnabair’s Flutter tissue paper (which I am totally obsessed with btw) on top. You can either cut or tear the tissue paper to the size and shape you want or you could cover the entire tag. Tearing gives a more natural edge to it that blends in better to the background, but cutting is easier to do and ensures you get exactly the piece you want. Sidenote: I actually bought these tags for a Halloween project but they arrived too late and wound up in my stash, so it was high time I did something with them!
Add Texture With Stencils
I used my favourite Finnabair Paper Texture Paste and the Passiflora stencil to fill in some of the space around the tissue paper which helps to hide the joins as well as giving more interest, texture and dimension to your project. Once that was dry, I started playing around with bits and pieces from my stash adding and removing and repositioning until I was happy with what I had.
Never Throw Anything Out Even If It’s Ugly
These two fabric items in particular I have loathed for some time so I wanted to put them to some use. These pink and white flowers I ordered online years ago and when they arrived they weren’t what I expected and never used them. I had purchased them wholesale so I had several packets of the things! This green leaf ribbon, I have a whole roll of, again, I ordered it online and then had no idea why other than it seemed like a good idea at the time – but hey I am a bit of a hoarder so what if it spent 4-5 years in a box, it’s useful now lol. And that’s why you should never throw anything out! Ever.
Plan Your Project or Wing It?
Now this might be a strange question to ask now, since I have obviously already started, but I wanted to draw attention to this point. Sometimes you do start a project with a very definite plan in place and other times you are very much going with the flow, trying things out to see how they fit together and it’s a very organic process. So, this can be especially helpful if you find yourself blocked and feel like you can’t get started at all because you don’t have a plan. I say just start and see where the ingredients, the theme, the materials, the colours, and your stash take you. You could discover something amazing!
So my question to myself at this point was – What is my plan for this project?
My Answer: I have no plan other than following the brief using the required items and coral colours and that I really want to use this frame…
Diecut Frame Using Old Amazon Boxes
This is an old Sizzix frame die, quite ornate and I thought it would go well with the look of this project, so I cut two from old cardboard boxes and one from a woodgrain cardstock from Altenew, and glued them together to make it thicker and more sturdy and chipboard-like, since I had not chipboard frames in my stash. If you do have a chipboard frame that you would like to use, I say go with that as it will make life a lot simpler and your project a bit quicker. I used the amazon cardboard on the bottom since no one will see it and the nice card on the top.
Realising When Something Isn’t Right
Honestly this is the point where it all went wrong because I was so obsessed with using this frame that I couldn’t see past it. I wanted to keep this part in so you can see where I went off the rails and learn from my mistakes. I was also determined to squeeze some purple in there since coral is really not my thing. If you look at the photo below, you will see that I glued a Prima keyhole mould over the bottom part of the frame. I really loved how the hole in this part of the frame and the hole in the keyhole matched up perfectly and so I wanted to use it. I was determined to use it, and off I went in totally the wrong direction. I stuck everything down and then sent this “finished” photo to my friend. She loved it. I was not 100% happy with it and decided to look at it again in the morning, with fresh eyes. Now this is not to say that I didn’t like the first example. I did, in fact I liked it enough that I glued everything down very solidly and left it overnight to dry. But when I looked at it the next day I was not happy with the frame. I had been determined to use this frame and that was affecting my judgement – get the frame on the tag at any cost!!! but it was causing me problems because I had what I could see were two focal points.
Finding Your Focal Point
My focal point was always going to be the frame and whatever ended up inside it. I wanted to add purple, so I had painted some Prima wing moulds and moulded flowers with purple Metallique paints and added them to the project, so now there is coral, white, brown and purple on the tag. The frame with the photo is still the focal point, however if you look at the above photo, that tissue paper butterfly right in the centre looks really nice and would make a great focal point. I had started to twist some rose gold wire into antennae which was starting to draw more attention to the butterfly, and was drawing attention away from my “focal point” frame but I liked the idea of embellishing the butterfly. The frame is too small to place on top of the butterfly without hiding most of it, so what to do?
Make The Change You Need To Make
If something isn’t working then make it work! The two focal points issue was causing a problem for me so I did what I had to do and I started dissecting the tag. Given that everything had been seriously glued using 3D matte gel, this was no easy feat – in fact I had to resort to slicing through it with a craft knife! This caused some damage to the background but I knew I could hide it with something. As soon as I had pulled off all the bits and pieces that I wasn’t happy with, I felt a lot better about it. Once the frame was removed I could see clearly again and knew what I wanted to do. I decided to make that central butterfly my focal point, and build it up.
Make Acetate Butterflies
I roughly cut around some of the butterflies from the tissue paper and then glued them to acetate so I could work on adding more dimension to the central butterfly and others.
- Take more of the Flutter tissue paper and cut out some of the butterflies.
- Glue them onto a piece of acetate (old packaging) using Collage Medium
- Fussy cut around the butterflies then bend them along the body so the wings stand up.
- Paint the edges of the wings with Metallique paint in Spring Blossom, giving them a raised metallic edge to them
Sidenote – Tim Holtz Ideology now sells acetate wings in various sizes but I wanted mine to match the others so I made my own using the tissue paper, but you could always just use pre-made wings if you don’t want to make your own.
Make Metal Antennae and Body
This is very easy to do and very forgiving of mistakes but you may need some Jewellery pliers to achieve it depending on how thick your wire is and how tight you want your loops to be. If you use thin wire than is easy to bend with your fingers or wrap around a knitting needle or similar, then no special tools are required. Also depending what you have in your stash, you may not need to buy any special wire either as these were actually made from paper clips! Sidenote: I bought these paperclips in a supermarket well over a year ago when everything seemed to be rose gold everywhere… and then I never used them. Because of the coral theme of this tag, I pulled them out and was toying with the idea of gluing them onto the project somewhere just as paper clips but then I thought – let’s see how they bend with my pliers – and surprisingly they are made of pretty good metal – no cracking or flaking. They are quite thick metal though, I would say around 22ga so pliers were needed.
- Decide how long you want your antennae and body to be and cut your wire, or use paper clips
- Start by curling one end of the wire around your pliers (or knitting needle if wire is thin) to make an open flat spiral.
- When you are happy with that end, do the same with the opposite end of the wire
- Bend the wire in half so you have a V shape with a curled antennae at top left and right and the apex of the V at the bottom (where the head will be). This will form the butterfly antennae. You could also make a second one of these to add a decorative accent to the bottom of the butterfly as shown in the photo.
- Take a second piece of wire and curl or wrap it around the pliers or the knitting needle in one continuous coil that will look like a coiled spring when done. This will form the body of your butterfly.
- Glue the antennae and the coiled spring body to the butterfly using 3D Matte Gel. You may have to prop up the antennae with something to hold it in place while it is drying. Once it is dry it will stay in that position.
- As an extra finishing touch, while the 3D Matte Gel is wet, sprinkle on some small metallic beads or glitter around the body of the butterfly and leave to dry. When the Gel is dry the beads that got stuck in the gel will be attached and the rest will fall off and can be used in another project.
- Optional – to build up the wings even more I decided to use the purple wings that were attached to the discarded frame. I Cut them off the frame, and repainted them with the Spring Blossom paint, then glued them on to the acetate wings.
Background stamping can really enhance your background and make it a lot more interesting. It can be subtle using muted or similar colours to your background or you can make it more vivid or use strong black. I chose another of the Finnabair stamp sets and Distress Archival ink pad in Ground Espresso, and stamped randomly all over the tag. Compare the original “finished” photo to the one below and you will see what a difference it can make to the overall look without being in your face.
Repositioning The Elements and Sentiments
I moved the green leaf ribbon around and added some brown paper cord, winding both of them around the tag and sticking them down with 3D Matte Gel. Then added some white lace flowers and gave them brad centres, added buttons and snaps to the top flower, repainted the flowers with the same Spring Blossom paint – got rid of the purple! I repositioned the sentiments from Sentiment Stickers by Finnabair from the bottom to the top of the tag and clipped the Words You Need image sticker to the bottom of the tag using a Victorian Hand Clip. I backed this image with white cardboard so I can use it as a card rather than a sticker and can move it to wherever I want it to go.
These sticker books are awesome btw and have really good quality matte stickers which you can paint over or journal on since they are matte and not glossy.
The End Result – Build Your Wings 2.0
And here is the finished tag 2.0. Compare it to the photo I took of the finished tag with the frame and you will see they are worlds apart. I hope you enjoyed this look into my process and that it will encourage you to not give up on projects that you are maybe less than happy with at some stage, because they can always be saved and improved. Oh and if you are wondering whatever happened to that frame, well you can check it out here.
Finnabair white gesso,
soft matte gel,
Hazelnut, Spring Blossom, White Pearl Metallique Alchemy paints,
Art Daily Words You Need, and Sentiment Stickers,
Don’t Forget to Fly stamps
Victorian Hand clips.
I also used random things from my stash such as paper clips, beads, lace, acetate, ribbon, paper cord, hemming tape, buttons, snaps, brads and some hot glue