Happy Leap Day!

I have a friend whose birthday is today, so she will be super happy that we have this extra day and she can really go to town with the celebrations.  I have to be really quick with this post tonight and work on the details tomorrow because I am late for my own deadline that I set for myself, despite the fact that I have been thinking about this all month, and yet here we are, down to the wire.  How does this happen, I ask myself.  Anyway, without further ado, here is the finished piece, and I will come back tomorrow and fill in the blanks, so if you are reading this on Sunday morning, please do come back and read it when I’ve managed to write something useful.  If you are reading this after Sunday morning, then read on! 🙂

To give you an idea of size, this dark wood background is a full 8 x 11 piece of cardstock.  Originally I was going to make it an art journal page and fit it in my large journal but something happened along the way and we ended up here in a frame!

Hi again, it’s now Sunday afternoon and I can finally sit down and write up this post.  I’ve been looking forward to it all day as I got all the photo editing done this morning and then had to pop out and do some visiting, but now I’m back and I have coffee, so let’s get started!

I really loved the fact that the AVJ challenge was about woodgrain, and from the beginning I wanted to use one/some/all of my weathered wood monoprinted backgrounds that I made back in September.  I confess I have been hoarding holding on to these because I love them so much and have been waiting for the perfect project to use them on.  Is this the one?  Hmm, maybe.  I made a shortlist and narrowed it down to these three…

I love both of these (as yet uncut) purple-ish shades, the very blueish purple at the back on the left and the more pinkish one on the right.  I also had some cut pieces left over from this card and this AJ page, and a random piece of alcohol inking which at this point I thought I could add to the party but it didn’t make the final cut.

So of course, I chose the blue pieces instead of cutting into something new and pristine lol.  Here’s a closer look at the blue pieces.  I love this technique, it gives so much texture – I wish you could feel it – and it really does look like weathered wood, maybe a little bleached with the sun, with some paint starting to peel off. Check out that bit on the right – so amazing!

Then I used these Tim Holtz Mixed Media dies to cut out what I was intending to use as stencils, but in the end didn’t use in that way after all.

The plan was to use them as stencils on the background and then use them as die cuts, but then I ended up inking them and abandoning the stencilling idea.  At the same time, I also die cut these tree rings and inked them too.  This is a great die/embossing folder combo which cuts one of the large and one of the small tree rings and embosses the tree ring pattern in them.  I cut mine out of an old cake box that I had left over from an as yet unseen super secret future project. (I guess I can give you a little clue as to what it might be about since this month’s More Than Words challenge was just revealed today.)

At this stage I was still planning to use all three pieces of the blue monoprints and so I had laid them out together and then started playing around with all of these leftover bits and pieces from my stash.  Hello, crazy person, why do you have all this unused stuff lol – it is just me?  Am I alone in my craziness or do other people also have stashes of random stuff like this?

I kept thinking though about the wood grain part of the challenge and I was concerned that my weathered wood might not qualify if the actual grain of the wood was required to be on display. So I decided to use this wood grain cardstock that I have had for well over a year, and maybe even longer.  It came in a pack of specialty paper and has three different colours of wood grain cardstock, including brown, but why use the brown when you can make your own brown?

I started with gathered twigs Distress Ink but then I felt that it needed to be a bit darker, so I went over it with walnut stain DI.

Once I had this (definitely) wood grain background, I knew I had to get rid of some of the weathered wood pieces and just focus on the one piece. I also found this little die cut pallet in my stash leftover from a project from last year.  It’s from Concord and 9th and came with a wood grain stamp so you could make your own little 3-D pallets.  This one was just waiting to be useful as a log container.

Snarky cats were left over from this card I made for Valentine’s Day.  I coloured two sets of cats and ended up using the grey cats so these tabbies needed a home.

I also had an idea about colouring the brown wood grain card with blue to see what would happen.  I used broken china Distress Oxide and here is what happened. I think it’s kinda cool, with the brown underneath and the blue wash over it.  I even tested it out as a potential background but it just looks wrong so I went back to the original one.

It was around this time that I had to stop and have dinner, and also I wasn’t really getting anywhere.  I felt like I had all these elements but nothing was pulling it all together. I had also added some patina effect to the chicken wire die cuts using DI and while that was nice it didn’t feel right for this piece, and then just to top it off, I added some DO to it and really didn’t like it at all.  I was sure I took a photo of this disaster but I can’t find it so we’ve all been spared that hideous creature!  So yes, a break for food was a good idea.  (I had also taken a break earlier in the afternoon for the same reason, and started work on a birthday gift.  I will share that later in the week as it apparently takes three days to dry! Intrigued?)

So after some food, I felt much better about life in general and had an idea.  Why not use this blue inked card and turn it into a frame? Add more wood grain?  Yes, absolutely!!!  I cut 4 x one inch strips of it, and then I added some of this new Finnabair matte white wax just to lighten it up a bit.  I wanted my frame to sit up off the background and be more three dimensional, so I also cut some strips out of an old cardboard box to reinforce it and make it thicker.

I glued the chicken wire die cuts in the three corners and stuck all the corrugated card down on the back of the frame. Ah yes, now you can see the hideousness that I mentioned above.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I added the DO to this chicken wire, but it was wrong, wrong, wrong and now it’s hidden on the reverse side!

Now it was really starting to come together!  I used the chicken wire die cuts back to front as I didn’t like the ink job I’d done on the fronts, so now they showed the white card backs with some splotches of rusty hinge and evergreen bough showing through and I like this effect. I added some white paint splatters to my dark wood background and fussy cut around the kitties and then glued everything in place.

I needed some words so I searched through Tim’s various chat books and then the Snarky Cat stamp set and I was so close to using the “In my defense, I was left unsupervised” and the “I know right from wrong, wrong is the fun one” stamps, but in the end I decided to use these Finnabair word stickers, because they just made me laugh when I saw them next to my kitties.  I played around with the placement a few times before getting it where it made me happy. For example, this one below did not make me happy lol

Much as I wanted to put them on the sides, it only felt right when they were in the centre column, so down the middle it is!

And that’s basically it finished but I have some closer looks at some bits of it and a better look at my frame.  And yes, I know I need to do some ironing but that’s just not going to happen any time soon 🙂

Frame first – front view

Frame – back view

Closer look at the splattery wood grain background and chicken wire

Closer look at the wood grain pallet, blue frame, and more chicken wire

Closer look at the tree rings and some of the words

I hope you made it to the end of this longer post and didn’t mind the 21 photos showing my thought process, assembly and finished project, but if you did make it here, thank you for reading and I hope you love it as much as I loved making it.  If you did love it, please let me know in the comments below 🙂

See you soon with another project during the week!




I am entering this card in the following challenges:
A Vintage Journey – Against the grain February Challenge wood grain I has it! Weathered wood gel print, dark wood grain background, tree rings, wooden stamped pallet, blue wood grain frame. Phew!
Simon Say StampWednesday Challenge – Anything Goes
Funkie Junkie ChallengeLeap Into the Odd – for me, odd can also mean unbalanced (odd, eccentric, oddball) which refers to this kitty precariously unbalanced at the top of this log pile (uh oh) and perhaps also speaks to his state of mind too lol.  I mean, seriously, what is he doing up there in the first place?  I also have elements arranged in odd numbers again – three sets of chicken wire, three tree ring logs, three word stickers.  Does it fit the challenge?  Hope so 🙂

Project Recipe

Altenew specialty cardstock – white wood grain, brown wood grain
Tim Holtz – Snarky Cat stamps, Mixed Media thinlits #1 (#3 not used in the end), Tree Ring bigz, Distress Ink – weathered wood, rusty hinge, gathered twigs, walnut stain, antique linen, evergreen bough, Distress Oxide – broken china
Finnabair – word stickers, white matte wax, white liquid acrylic
Nuvo – deluxe adhesive
From stash: gel printed background, palette die cut, old cardboard box, old cake packaging,

Thanks for visiting today. Your comment is really appreciated.

14 thoughts on “Be Your Own Hero – Find Your Balance – Just Breathe

  1. Jenny Marples says:

    What a quirky piece Elle! I love how you’ve played with the images to create a fun place for the cats to play precariously. Oh, and my hand shot up at the part where you asked who else had piles of unused bits and pieces. The piles seem to grow every time I create!!! Thank you for joining us at The Funkie Junkie Boutique Blog xx

    • Empire of the Cat says:

      You know, it started off a bit precarious itself lol with a lot of what am I doing here haha, but I really like how it ended up. I have it hanging on the wall in my craft room.And I’m so glad I’m not alone in having piles of random bits and pieces – maybe there’s a support group we can join 🙂 Thanks again Jenny xx

  2. butterfly says:

    Oh, oh… I spy a disaster about to happen! What a hilarious card – great use of the wood slices as well as the wonderful woodgrain background and frame. Thanks so much for joining us on A Vintage Journey.
    Alison x

    • Empire of the Cat says:

      Hey Alison, thanks so much for your comments, really appreciate your visit. It’s hard to judge scale in the photos but it’s actually not a card. The background is a full sheet of 8 x 11 inch cardstock, and then with the frame on top, it’s about 13 x 10 inches! It’s currently hanging up on my craft room wall!

  3. Maggi says:

    Thanks for joining our challenge at The Funkie Junkie Boutique Blog! I love your cat balancing act and your woodgrains are great. Isn’t it funny how we start in one direction and end up somewhere else?

  4. Julia Aston says:

    Isn’t it funny how we have creative ideas and get all the supplies, pieces, bits ready and then often go in a totally different direction! What a great job making your frame out of the card board and wonderful wood grain Elle – love the piled logs and wonky cats – thanks so much for sharing with us at AVJ! xx

  5. Jo - Let's Art Journal says:

    Wow, what an amazing project! I love how you created all the wooden elements and those Tim Holtz Snarky Cats are such fun too ?. Thanks so much for joining us at A Vintage Journey! Happy and creative wishes! Hugs, Jo x

  6. Sara Emily Barker says:

    What a wonderful project! Anything with cats is just great in my opinion, but your wood is just fantastic! And using odd numbers of things really isn’t that odd in art, but they ARE odd numbers and it does seem odd that a cat is standing on one leg! Thank you for playing along at The Funkie Junkie Boutique blog.

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