Pagoda Inspired Cottage

Pagoda Cottage 1.jpg

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I’ve updated this blog! Talk about life just perpetually getting in the way. Quite frankly, between finishing school (and starting school again), getting a new job, and then a huge promotion, art just fell to the wayside. It happens sometimes, but I think I’m back in the saddle and heading out of the chute with a bang! Just check out what I did!

As most know, Kristin, who is the owner of Retro Cafe Art Gallery, designs THE BEST kits on the market. Her latest stroke of genius are these fenced cottages which are meant to store ATCs and Artist Trading Coins. Of course, you can use them for whatever you want. I have plans for this one but need that perfect accent to finish the fenced yard off.

Pagoda Cottage 2.jpg

I absolutely LOVE Japanese and Asian art styles and living here in Okinawa just adds reinforcement to that love. I’ve been hoarding Graphic45’s "Bird Song” collection since it debuted several years ago. When I saw these cottages for the first time, I ran upstairs, pulled it out of the drawer, blew the dust off, and began hacking into it with a frenzy. I knew exactly how I wanted this darling to look.

Pagoda Step Out 3.jpg

As the pieces came together and the details were beginning to work themselves in my mind, I had a nagging thought. I had NO idea what I was going to do with the fence and the roof. I could see what I wanted to do, but Lord knows, I am quite the opposite of a “fine art” sculptor. Instead, I decided to do what I do best. WING IT!

For the fence, I dug into my embossing powder stash. At first, I just had this mossy green layer on the fence. “Too bold and clean,” I thought to myself. More rummaging ensued and I remembered this lovely brownstone inspired powder I had and had not used in aaaaaages. Layering that on top of the mossy green was perfection!

Pagoda Step Out 2.jpg

Finally, things were coming together! Gluing, dresden, assembly, and that nagging roof!

Pagoda Cottage 3.jpg

The best part of putting this together is figuring out the details. Those little details are crucial in making a piece unique. Imagination is the only requirement! And perhaps a stash of leftover resin “pours.” This Sakura is one such piece. I had used resin for something and poured the leftover resin into one of my most favorite flower moulds.

Pagoda Cottage 5.jpg

The gold accenting on the Sakura (courtesy of Inka Gold) ties in the embossed red and gold porthole frame.

Now it was time to handle that pesky roof! Initially, I wanted to replicate the traditional Japanese tile roof. The easiest way to do something like that is to roll out “tubes” of clay and place them side by side all snuggly and close together. I used Aves Apoxie Sculpt because it has an adhesive property that makes gluing unnecessary.

Pagoda Step Out 1.jpg

The roof trim along the top was embossed to match the porthole frames. Back to the clay! I used some tools to make grooves on the tubes and seams between them. Unpainted, they could be tiles or even resemble bamboo. I considered going the bamboo route but thought it wouldn’t go very well with all of the glitz I had on the cottage body.

Instead, I went with my original inspiration source, Japanese roof tiles. Modern houses have black tiles and wouldn’t you know?! I had plenty of black paint. After a layer of gesso, black paint was brushed on using a wet brush.

Pagoda Cottage 7.jpg

Breaking out my trusty Inka Gold and my fingers, brushing the ink onto the black paint helped to tone down the stark contrast the black brought to the rest of the piece. It also helped to accent the general stylization with the Asian patterns, gold trims, and overall “feel.”

Pagoda Cottage 6.jpg

And of course, baby got back! Can’t have a 3D piece and not do the back!

Pagoda Cottage 8.jpg

Yes! The roof has been blown off this joint! Well, mostly because you can use these cottages to store other items like paintbrushes, makeup brushes, chopsticks, or anything else tall.

Any how, thank you for stopping in and checking out my latest endeavor. There is much, much more to come!

Supply list:

Retro Cafe Art Gallery ATC Cottage house Kit Style 3
Retro Cafe Art Gallery German Dresden Border Fleur
Inka Gold Ink “Gold”
ICE Resin
Graphic 45 “Bird Song” paper
Piccolo Embossing Powder “Ruby Red Slippers”
Piccolo Embossing Powder “Brownstone”
Piccolo Embossing Powder “Mossy Glen”
Piccolo Embossing Powder Adhesive
Liquitex Acrylic Paint “Ivory Black”

Tattoo Inspired Dream Catcher

I have only done one other dream catcher so when a friend of mine requested one for her mom, I jumped at the chance to make another.  I had the itch to make one anyway. The concept behind this particular dream catcher was a tattoo she and her sister both had done.  Since her mom doesn't do tattoos, an actual dream catcher was in order.

So her mom's home decor is inspired by Southwestern motif.  I wanted to keep colors neutral, true to the spirit of the theme but have the same elements as the tattoo.

The dream catcher tattoo consisted of one prime catcher with three smaller catchers attached below.

The catchers are wrapped in suede cording and the weave is done with waxed cotton twine.  Because I have a large stash of beads, it was easy to accent the weave and the butterflies.  I prefer to keep my catchers rustic and allow the knots where wrap cycles are ended and begun.  I suppose you could consider it a signature of mine.

The butterflies are symbolic of my friend and her sister.

If you are interested in a custom dream catcher, feel free to contact me via the Twisted Muse Designs Facebook page and we can discuss details!


Frosty Christmas Ornament

This time of year is always so wonderfully chaotic for everyone.  For me, I've closed a major chapter in my life by finally finishing my Bachelor's degree.  Now, I'm in the midst of applying for jobs and preparing for upcoming interviews.  Throw all of that into the mix with holiday parties, volunteer work with my husband's unit, and taking care of household stuff, it doesn't leave much room for serious crafty time. Thankfully, with the help of wonderful friends like my fellow Retro Cafe Art Gallery team members, I'm learning that bigger doesn't always mean better and that the small is just as beautiful.  This ornament was put together in about an hour including the bead work (which I've gotten quite nimble with).

First, lay down a nice coat of gesso then go over it with Snow-Tex paste.  If you don't have this wonderful faux snow paste, modeling paste is just as effective.  While it's still wet, sprinkle some Glamour Dust or any other white or clear glitter you have lying around.

I like to add my embellishments while the paste is still wet so I can embed them slightly.  It provides a nice stable base but it also lends a slightly more realistic depth with the paste creeping up the sides of your embellishments.

Add bead work.  For mine, I used my usual needle technique and applied each bead one by one.   You could also use gel medium and micro beads or even some velvet flocking.  Frosty's dear face was also done with beads.  They are glued down but I also smooshed them into the snow paste.    Finally, just finish him off with some fancy buttons or beads and a bow for his scarf.

Supply list: Retro Cafe Art Gallery Masonite Snowman Ornament DecoArt Snow-Tex Paste DecoArt Glamour Dust Clear Glue Beads Ribbon


Jackolynn the Pumpkin Witch

I admit it!  I'm a sucker for pretty paper!  The paper I used for this Halloween gem for Retro Cafe Art Gallery I have been holding on to for years.  You see, I started out as a scrapbooker so I had built up this massive stash of paper.  Fast forward a number of years and I realized that I am probably done with the scrapbooking arena and have my feet firmly planted in the realm of mixed media.

However, the urge to play with paper comes along every now and then and I have to dig through the very little paper I kept and put it to good use.  This piece uses K & Company's "Que Sera Sera" paper pad.

One of my favorite things to do is to make the simple look complex and complicated.  Jackolynn was constructed using the simplest of techniques.  You'll be amazed.

Step 1:  Grab that paper you've been hoarding and get ready to hack into it.  Trace each piece and cut them out.  Glue each cut piece to its substrate.  See that file in the photo below?  It is THE key to get nice, flush, and fresh edges.

Step 2:  Use an ink pad to ink your edges.  Ready for the mind blower?  Embossing powder!  Get your embossing pad and powders and go to town on those edges!

Step 3:  For the base, add moss for an instant upgrade!

Step 4:  Assemble your pieces and admire at how simple it was to do!

Supply List:

Retro Cafe Art Gallery Articulated Victorian Pumpkin Art Doll Kit Retro Cafe Art Gallery Pumpkin and Jack-O-Lantern Cut-Outs Retro Cafe Art Gallery Mini Bats Cut-Outs Iced Enamels Relique Powder Carnelian Piccolo Embossing Powders: Gilded Rose Gold, Shamrock Dreams, Girls Night Out, Mossy Glen Embossing ink E6000 adhesive K & Company "Que Sera Sera" patterned paper floral moss printable face


A Return and a Flaming Heart

Oh man does it feel GREAT to be back!  When the lovely Kristin of Retro Cafe Art Gallery decided to take some time away in order to prepare for the arrival of her gorgeous daughter, I thought it would be a good time to just relax, enjoy the down time and focus on other avenues such as school.  Now that the shop is open, it's time to give this space here a little much needed TLC and what better way to start off on a new foot than sharing my HEART with all of you!

I'm always a sucker for shrines, shadow boxes, and niche boxes and this is one I've had in my stash for some time now.  To sit down with the pieces and paint and just let the process take over was pure magic.

After seeing some beautiful Mexican folk art pieces by my fellow Art Sister, Kim Collister, I was inspired.  I just let the vision in my mind flow through my hands but at the same time, I wanted to keep an element of traditional inspiration in the piece.

Shall we take a journey into my technical process?

Step 1:  Prep your Fancy Flaming Heart Milagro Shrine pieces with some gesso and color those babies!  Go wild, honey!  Go.  Wild.

Step 2:  Bust out that acrylic paint and sponge brush and go to town!  I like the bumpy look so I dabbed the paint onto the heart rather than brush it on.  You can also dab it onto your hands.  I may or may not have done so myself.Step 3:  Add more color and accent with some shading.  Like splatters?  Then splatter away!  (Mine ended up getting covered up, but I'm okay with that.)Step 4:  Glue everything together.  If you are like me and use E6000 or Goop, don't forget to open a window.  I think I may have gotten a wee bit loopy unintentionally huffing the Goop.  I'm a sucker for beads and if you've seen my work, you'd already know this about me.  Why should this piece be any different?

Step 5:  More fine beading on the flames and tips.  For the niche, add some glue and dump some microbeads into it.  Why wait for that glue to dry?  Bust out the Goop (and a fan!) and glue your charm in.  Lovin' my dainty border?  Take a length of seven of the small daisy chain dresden and cut that baby in half.  Be sure to use super sharp scissors!

Step 6:  Make a margarita, sit back, and just admire your creative process!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy not only my return to blogging but the re-opening of Retro Cafe Art Gallery.  I'm sure I speak for the rest of my Art Sisters by saying we are thrilled to be BACK!

Supply List: Fancy Flaming Heart Milagro Shrine Finnabair Art Alchemy Metallique Paint "Gold Rush" Finnabair Art Alchemy Metallique Paint "Rich Turquoise" Finnabair Art Alchemy Metallique Paint "Fresh Orange" Finnabair Art Alchemy Metallique Paint "Ancient Coin" Finnabair Art Ingredients Micro Beads "Copper" Relics & Artifacts® Dresden Trim "Daisy Chain-Small" Liquitex Basics Acrylic Paint "Cadmium Red Medium Hue" E6000 Glue Milagros Charm Seed Beads



"Springy Summer" Santos Birdcage ATC Shrine Doll

Santos ATC Fairy 1It seems that Spring is in full swing and Summer is hot on its heels.  Here in Okinawa, that means we are in rainy season as well as the early part of typhoon season.  It's been rather dreary lately so I needed a burst of "Spring Meets Summer" sunshine in my life.  Cue my "Springy Summer" Santos doll complete with an ATC birdcage bottom.

Santos ATC Fairy 2 She is just so peaceful and serene.  Just looking at her makes me smile and just savor the moment.

Santos ATC Fairy 4 Her not-so-gilded cage holds what I think to be hope for a bright and full bloom sunshiny season.

Santos ATC Fairy 6 And because I'm a sucker for details, we can't leave out her vivid body and it's adornments.

Santos ATC Fairy 5 How did I put her together?  It's actually quite easy and I use techniques and products you probably already have in your stash!

Step 1: Find some lush paper you just can't get enough of.  Trace the outline of her rather svelte torso.  Cut and adhere using gel medium.  Don't have gel medium?  No problemo!  Bust out that glue stick or tape runner and get to stickin'.

Tip:  If you use a digital collage like I used from Tumble Fish Studio and printed it out using an inkjet printer, spray a fixative over the top before applying the gel.

Santos ATC 1 Step 2: Grab yourself the beautiful "Wings" collage sheet from Retro Cafe Art.  Adjust the size of the wings using editing software.  Simply cut, paste and apply some sparkly goodness to make them shine.  I used some Stickles on mine.

Santos ATC 2 copy Step 3: Let's give this li'l mama a face!  I find the best mould for these types of faces is by Sculpey.  It's the "Art Doll" mould.  Squish some polymer clay into the mould and pop it out once you're satisfied with the shape.  Bake your clay castings on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper in a preheated oven at 275*F.  Typical baking time is 15 minutes per 1/4" thickness.  Once your clay has cooled completely, mix together some acrylic paint to achieve your desired flesh tone.  Set aside to dry completely.

Tip:  No parchment paper? No problem!  Just cover your cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Also, her headpiece in the finished photo is cut from the "Valentine's Day Patterns" collage sheet.

Santos ATC 3 Step 4: Let's get busy on this cage!  Dig through your stash and pull out those ancient embossing powders because they are going to get a workout today!  I used powders by Piccolo because I love the depth of color they have but you can use whatever your heart desires.  Apply and emboss just like you used to do back when heat embossing was cool.

Santos ATC 4 Step 5: Once your pieces have cooled, glue the doll to the top of the cage and attach the hanging chain for the flower piece using hot glue.  Cut a piece from the Black Scroll dresden trim.  Remove any undesired pieces so that your scrolly piece fits nicely at the doll's waist.

While you're at it, spray some of the Mini Scalloped dresden trim bright yellow.  Let it dry to the touch and glue it onto the top of the cage.  You can glue it all the way around if you choose but it might make assembly of the cage a little difficult.  For this step, I only glued the front border.

Santos ATC 5 Step 6: Now it's time to work some magic.  Grab the pieces of the cage and apply Verday paint according to the instructions on the paint.  Since I wanted a two-tone look on the door of the cage, I taped off the center design so that it wouldn't be affected by the iron paint.  Once the iron paint had oxidized, I went ahead and used brass on the inside.

Tip:  I tried a little experiment to see if the oxidation process would be affected if I used a heat gun.  The answer to that is a resound, "YES!"  It not only hampers the process; it completely nullifies it.  Let the patina spray do its magic, which means you have to have some patience and about 4 hours of time.  Since I did a two-step process, total curing time was about 8 hours.

Santos ATC 6 Step 7: Just look at all of that patina goodness!  Patience really does pay off when using this paint.  Now it's time to glue together the pieces of the cage.  For this step, you want to use a really strong adhesive.  I busted out my "mama means business" glue, E6000.

Santos ATC 7 Step 8: I hope you left your glue gun plugged in.  To apply the mossy floor, just squirt that glue all over the bottom and press the moss directly into it.  Remove any glue strings and watch your fingers.

Tip:  When gluing the moss, be mindful of the cage door that needs to close.  Don't apply the moss all the way to the front edge of the cage.  I'm not saying that *I* made that mistake, though there is a very strong possibility I *might* have. ::sheepish grin::

Santos ATC 8 Step 9: Dig through your stash or just go ahead and pull the trigger on the "Flora" Relics & Artfacts® set you've had in your Retro Cafe Art cart for ages now.  Lay down a coat of gesso and let it dry.  Once it's dry, apply a coat of whatever color you choose.  I went for a tone on tone look to get some depth on the flower.  That Royal Red metallique paint looks simply lush against red acrylic paint.  Just sayin'.

Tip:  Use Inka Gold paint in Lava Red for added pop on the edges of the flower.

Santos ATC 9 Step 10: Attache a good sized jump ring and hang your flower from the chain.  Glue butterfly to the flower if you decided to add one like I did in the finished photos.

Santos ATC 10 Step 11: Doodle away!  I doodled on the door of the cage, the scrolly piece on the doll's waist, and the doll's wings.

Santos ATC 11 And there you have it!  It seemed complicated right?  But it's not.  It's mostly a lot of "paint drying" time but the patience totally pays off in the end.


Supply List: 3-D Articulated Birdcage Doll ATC Shrine Kit "Wings" Digital  Collage Sheet "Valentine's Day Patterns" ATC Backgrounds Collage Sheet "Art Doll" Faces Sculpey Push Mold Sculpey III Polymer Clay Black Scroll Decorations Dresden Trim White Mini Scallops Dresden Trim VerDay Paint & Patina Set "Flora" Relics & Artifacts® "Royal Red" Metallique Paint 

Other Supplies: "Cut ApART" digital kit "Mossy Glen" Piccolo embossing powder "Lemon Zest" Dylusions Spray "Butter" Heidi Swapp Color Shine White Signo pen E6000 Glue Moss Acrylic Paint Hot Glue