Friday, 21 April 2017

Floral Wreath Friday 1


Welcome to the first "Floral Wreath Friday". As I was doing this post, I kept on thinking how I would choose one design to feature. And then it hit me - I don't have to choose! This first post will be a detailed step-by-step tutorial but future weeks will be shorter, focusing instead on different motifs and ideas to use in your projects.

You will need:
  • Watercolour paper, or good-quality heavyweight cardstock cut to size (my piece is a 10 cm square but I've also done floral wreaths the size of dinner plates)
  • Pencil and compass (if you don't have a compass, you can trace a circular item)
  • Eraser
  • Watercolour paints
  • Brush and water (I prefer using a waterbrush, but this is just a personal preference)



Start off by lightly drawing a circle on your paper in pencil. It should be just visible to you, but not so dark that pencil trapped under paint will be visible.


Start off your wreath by picking one element and spacing them around the circle. For this wreath, I wanted red roses, so I started off with a watered-down red and made irregular blobs as the base layer. In general, I find that the smaller your elements get, the less water you want to use in order to maintain control over where your paint goes.
When spacing your elements out, remember that odd numbers usually are more appealing than even ones.


Now chose your second element. I went for a simple purple daisy. Paint one of these in the spaces between your first elements. Remember, you don't have to do any fancy art here!


Now it's time to start filling our wreath in. I wanted to give the roses bright green leaves. I painted the two stalks first, and then added the leaves to them in short strokes.


Continue around the wreath. I prefer to keep my hand and brush in more-or-less the same position and just rotate the paper until I've gone all the way around.


Now that we have a simple wreath, it's time to add in detail! Using a more concentrated red, I added swirls to the roses using the very tip of my brush to give the illusion of rose petals.


Next, I added a wash of pink-purple to the daisies to fill them out. Adding leaves in different shades of green is a great way to fill out your wreath and bring it to life. Finally, I added some details like the red berries and small orange flowers.



Once your paint is dry, carefully erase any pencil lines that are visible.


Now, if you wish, you can leave your wreath as-is or add something to the center. An initial is always good. You could also add a date to commemorate an occasion or carefully add a name or sentiment.


And there you go!


I will be showing more examples in the future, but here are two projects I recently did. We recently celebrated my grandmother's 85th birthday with a fancy family dinner. I cut out circles of cardstock with my die-cutting machine, then painted and laminated them to make coasters for everyone's wine glasses. I also added some coordinating roses to the menus that were on everyone's placesetting.



My largest project to date was for a friend's bridal shower that I hosted (hi Helene!). Again, I made coasters, monogrammed with the bride's initial, for everyone to use for their champagne glasses. In total I made 27 wreathes in 9 different designs. Overkill? Yes. Lots of fun for me? Yes! I also made two A3 sized posters, each with a giant wreath, welcoming the guests.



PS

If you would like to commission a hand-painted monogrammed floral wreath, contact me on to receive a quote.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Easy Watercolour Rainbow Window Card

watercolour watercolor rainbow cardmaking distress ink tim holtz picked raspberries peacock feathers mustard seed spiced marmelade

I've been posting pictures of my adventures as a watercolour beginner pretty incessantly on Instagram and Snapchat lately (if you're not following me already, find me as lauravlaeren), so it's finally time to bring my addiction over to the blog! Today I'm going to be showing you how to make this brightly coloured rainbow piece. My inspiration comes from this card by the incredibly talented Kristina Werner, who was also my inspiration for starting to play with watercolours.

You will need:
  • Watercolour paper
  • Kraft cardstock
  • Washi tape
  • Watercolour paints in 4 colours (Any watercolour medium will do, just play around first to find the best paint-to-water ratio. I'm currently obsessed with Distress Inks, so that's what I'm using.)
  • A brush and clean water (I love using waterbrushes for the convenience, and as a bonus you don't waste lots of water.)
  • Adhesive or foam tape
  • Scissors
  • Paper trimmer (optional)
  • Teflon bone folder (optional)
  • Paper towels (optional)



First, trim your paper. I cut a 10 cm wide strip of kraft cardstock from an A4 sheet and folded it in half to create a top-folding portrait card. Use a bone folder to get a crisp fold. Trim your watercolour paper to be slightly smaller than the front of your card. Mine is 9 cm wide by 14 cm tall. I am incapable of cutting in straight lines, so I used my paper trimmer.


Now mask off your window areas using washi tape. I first stick the tape against my arm or the back of my hand to remove some of the stickiness (so that I don't damage the paper when I remove the tape). Use your scissors to cut a strip of tape in half and use the thinner pieces to make a cross for the centre of the window. I also used an addition piece of tape at the top to hold my piece down on my work surface. I then used my bone folder to gently press the tape down.


Now it's time to grab your paint. To use my Distress Inks as watercolour paint, I squish the ink pad onto a sheet of white paper that I laminated. I can then use my waterbrush to pick up the colour. When changing ink colours, I just squeeze a bit of water through the brush and clean the tip on some paper towel. I'm starting off with Picked Raspberry, a bright pink. Start off in one corner and fill in half of a square, using more water to thin out with colour closer to the centre. When painting near the tape, always drag your brush from the tape off onto the paper, not from the paper onto the tape. This will avoid paint seeping under the tape.


Now grab your second colour and complete the square from the opposite corner. Blend the two colours together in the centre. Be sure to choose colours that will blend nicely, not complementary colours that will go muddy. Here I used Peacock Feathers, a turquoise.


Taking your second colour (here, the turquoise) move to the next square. Again, start in the outer corner and blend inward.


Grab your third colour and fill in the square. I used Mustard Seed, which forms a beautiful bright green when blended with Peacock Feathers.


Using the same process, fill in your remaining two squares. First I used Mustard Seed and blended in Spiced Marmalade. Then, in the fourth square, I used Spiced Marmalade with the first colour I used, Picked Raspberry.


Once your first layer of colour is down, add in some more colour to add depth and texture to the windows.


One of the things I love most about Distress Ink is how they react with water. I haven't tried this process with traditional watercolour paints so if you want to try this, first test this on a scrap. Using my waterbrush, I added drops of water, varying the size of the drop, onto my work. I let the water sit for 15-30 seconds and then used a paper towel to dab up the water.


As you can see, this process lifts some of the colour, giving an interesting look to the paint.


Once the paper is dry, carefully remove your washi tape to reveal the final piece.


Adhere your watercolour panel to the front of your card. You can use any adhesive for this. I like using foam tape as it adds some dimension to the card.


And that's it, your card is finished! I made a large stack of these to keep on hand for any occasion. I like to stamp an appropriate sentiment on the inside of the card together with a handwritten note. Because in this digital age, it's really nice to get a tangible card or note with kind words (or at least, that's how I feel!)


And that's it on my first ever real crafting tutorial! I got all the supplies for this at my local PNA, a store which is basically my bank account's worst nightmare, but you don't have to spend a lot of money to give this a try. If you've never played around with watercolour before, go pick up a cheap kid's watercolour set and give it a go - it's honestly so much fun and I find crafting very therapeutic for a busy mind!

Come back on Friday for my next watercolour tutorial, where I'll show you how to live out your Pinterest fantasies and paint floral wreathes!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

My Hot Cross Bun Addiction

With Easter coming up soon, it's easy to indulge my obsession with hot cross buns. I almost always add some to my shopping basket, I just love them! Maybe it was all those Good Friday's growing up where basically all we ate all were lightly toasted hot cross buns with a touch of butter. There are all sorts of buns available, from unglazed to glazed, from traditional fruit to cranberries and almonds to fruit free and even chocolate - something for everyone! Lately, it seems that the trend has spilled over from the traditional baked good into other delicious spicy treats.




1. Extra spicy hot cross buns - my all-time favourite!
2. Hot cross bun fudge - sinful goodness in an adorable jar.
3. Hot cross bun milk chocolate eggs - combining two Easter staples.
4. Hot cross bun rusks - adding a South African twist!
5. Hot cross bun chai in glass jar or box - a lovely warming tea, perfect for chilly Autumn mornings.
6. Hot cross bun journal - because why not!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

When did blogging get overwhelming?


It's been more than 10 years since I first started blogging. It's been 5 years since I started Whimsy Is Forever. And somewhere in those last 5 years, I lost the spark.

In the beginning, it was fun. Fresh. Exciting. The internet was a distinct hideaway from normal life, where you could meet people you wouldn't normally, and share the most random things on your blog. If you told someone in real life you were a blogger, they probably didn't know what that really meant, especially in South Africa.
If I look back at early blog posts, I don't know whether to be embarrassed or jealous. There was no agonizing for hours trying to get the perfect photograph. No days spent trying to think of what your readers wanted to see next. Just snap, write, post. Starting a new blog involves a lot of testing the water, seeing what works and what doesn't.

Then, somewhere along the line, things started to change. Press drops started to be a regular thing. Instead of just posting what was on our minds, we started to focus on product reviews, on press releases, on what other people wanted us to write instead of what we wanted to. Page views and clicks suddenly mattered. For some people, they found their niche. For me, my attempts to be a beauty blogger never quite sat right. The pressure to have a "perfect" blog was always there. I had to stop buying products raved about across South Africa following a press drop, as they were almost uniformly disappointing. And as a result of everything, I started to draw away from my blog. I started to lose my love for it.

In the last year or so, I started to play around and try going back to basics. Unfortunately, I was in the final year of my PhD so I didn't have anything resembling free time to just sit and enjoy blogging. But now, I'm finishing my PhD. Soon I will be graduating. And it is time for me to reconnect with myself, to rediscover who I am outside of the lab. To find what makes me happy.

So, don't expect to see any polished magazine-worthy blog posts on Whimsy Is Forever. If you want pretty photos and someone oohing and aahing over beautiful product packaging, click away. But if you want to see little snippets of my life, craft projects I'm working on, places I'm going to and things I'm doing, please stay.  I'd love to have you around!

It's time to inject a little more whimsy into my blogging life.

Laura


It's my birthday!



Today is my 28th birthday. Where exactly have the last 5 years flown???

Today I am grateful for all my friends and family, who have given me love in abundance. I have a feeling that this coming year is going to be an amazing one.