Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Digital collages

Well christmas seems to come around quicker every year. My postings have been a little sparse over the past few weeks, mostly because I have not had much time for crafting/artwork. However I have a couple of new digital collage images to share, these have been created using Serif Photoplus 8. May not be the industry standard but it is more than sufficient for my needs - and I believe it is free to download. (If you want the latest gizmos then Photoplus 11 costs around £29)


I call the first one, "The Angels Watched Over her". All the main images are from Kim Neuberg ( from membership of a new site called PaperDigitalArt or PDA), the angel and the stork are free samples from Dover Publishing. techniques I have used are cutting by using free drawing of selection shapes, flipping, resizing, colour changes and simply pasting into different layers so that the shapes could be arranged into a pleasing composition. NO clever stuff here, although I would love to spend some time trying to learn some of the technically more complex stuff.

The text was added from wordart via a screenshot. Although photoplus has text facilities, I haven't found a way to curve the text.


This second work is called Ecstacy. the title was arrived at fairly late in the day and was really about the cross rather than the look on the face of the image of the women. Again the main image is from Kim and the same techniques were used. I have been asked about the french stamp (especially as the text is german ) , can't say it has any meaning but it seemed to fit and was available.

OK then, having bought you up todate with my artwork, I would like to wish all my friends a very happy christmas and a prosperous new year. I will be back after christmas. (MIL is coming to stay and we will all be too busy to make time for sitting at the PC) HO HO HO!

Monday, 15 December 2008

ATC's using distressed papers

As promised in my last post I have a few atc's made using the distressed papers.

The Fruitful Grape

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the first and second cards are made using images supplied by Kim for use in this challenge I hope to be making more atc's with these images and papers. By the way these are up for swapping, the easiest way is to visit my Flickr photostream or e-mail me.

"Les Paysans"

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This third card was made for a challenge swap in the NI group on Yahoo (so is not available for trade) I have had the images around since a "sixties" themed challenge on MAMMA, I felt that they fitted the colour of the coffee stained paper so very well. A little bit of stamping and some stamped text completed this nicely: I call this Two-by-Two

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Now for two cards made for the challenge by Kim, we were supposed to use rusty nails, paper clips, and a whole list of recycled/found objects which had gone rusty. Most of the rusty items I found in my garage were too large for an ATC so I ended up using the nails. maybe next time........

In My World, Accidents Happen
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In My World, The Door of My Life Is Nailed Shut
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I was not happy with the first of these and so gave it this title when I decided not to throw it away. I felt the second was much better. Just a case of getting used to using 3-dimensional objects. previously I had only used items like this when they had at least one flat side to stick them down. These are also available for swap - see above.
I really enjoyed making these papers and boy do they small good. I shall hopefully be doing a lot more with these in the future.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

coffe and vanilla: distressed papers

Well I have been learning how to distress papers ( of all sorts) to use in my atc's. I know you can buy all sorts of expensive ink pads etc but if it comes free its "gotta be a great idea".

Recently joined a site run by Kim Neuberg who I came across on Flickr, looks like this will be a favourite source of images and information. One of the first workshop/tutorials was how to distress papers using simple ingredients found in the kitchen. of course I had heard about using coffee (for example) and even read about other ways of achieving that so important "distressed" look, however Kim takes us thru the process step by step and offers lots of photos and guidance so that it is easy to reproduce the effects.

I went for the coffee and food colouring (with a little vanilla essence for the smell), and here is an example of some of the results.

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This first photo shows the kitchen tissue I had used for clearing up as I went along, lovely texture crying out to be used in an atc. The coffe was perhaps a little strong on this first attempt but it does smell great. The red colouring used is evident here....

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The next three sheets are all taken from various books I have collected to use for my atc's. Above photos show a maths text book and a copy of the Rubiyat of Omar Khayam. Just for your edification (LOL).

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slight difference here, I added a feature which I have seen used in watercolour art work. A scattering of salt - which tends to dry up the liquid in the immediate vicinity and creates a great texture.
My next post will show one or two atc's using the papers shown above.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

A Relaxing weekend in the Cotswolds

Just back from a wonderful weekend in Bourton-on-the-water. We went for the Victorian Christmas evening and so did several thousand other revellers. But it all went well. At 5.45pm the local schools jazz band struck up and entertained the crowd until the christmas tree lights were turned on in a loudly applauded ceremony.

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Dont ask me why it is standing in the river, it seems that it is traditional. the River Windrush runs thru' the village and seems to be an important element in the village life. In the Victoria Hall, there is even a painting of a football match in the river. Seems a light-hearted tradition as the referee seems to wear womens clothes and wields an umbrella.

wrapped up warm for the evening's frolics
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On the evening as you might expaect it was bitterly cold but the crowd seemed to be enjoying the proceedings, just a few sideshows (I missed punch and judy!) and market stalls but the local shops were open until 9.00pm. I have been to Bourton many times but never had so much difficulty getting into the reatail premises. Having to queue to do a little browsing, is a bit much. We also had a little difficulty finding somewhere to eat. We just managed to stike lucky in a pub near to our hotel.

our hotel at night
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and on the next morning
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The village looked even prettier than usual with all the christmas lights but the mornings were frosty and despite the brilliant sunshine good warm wrapping was a real necessity. The place looked quite empty in this shot, but I had gone out quite early to take a few photos before the frost melted away. I was glad of the warming breakfast after this expedition. Never think about the cholesterol on these weekend treats; I have the works. Bacon, sausages, egg, black puddin', beans, mushrooms, tomatoes. If they serve it, I will eat it.

Talking about eating, here is a shot of us with our friends after they had cleared the plates off the table after lunch on our first day. Still sober!! I was pulling a face because I had set up the camera to take a timed photo and was trying to duck down to make sure that I got my head in the picture.

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Took lots of pictures, now you don't have to pay for films and processing I am like a mad thing with the camera. But will only show one more. On the day after the night before (so to speak) there were a few events going on, like the local equine centre's fancy dress parade. Here they even dress the poor pony.

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I have erased the faces to protect the identities of the innocent parties, All in all a fantastic weekend especially since the day before most of the country seemed to be in danger of being covered in deep snow falls.
Well now that I am back it's back to the grindstone to make more crafty art.

Monday, 1 December 2008

new video show-reel of my recent atc's

I have just posted a video show-reel, of some atc's I completed this summer, on YouTube. You can view it on there with several more showing my art work but here it is, if you want a quick gander:-

I will bring my collection of videos up to date as the year ends.

busy atc weekend

Christmas is nearly here (aarrggg!!!) and I have been making atc's based on the theme : Christmas.

It's Mammas fault, the last challenge swap of the year and this was the unlikely theme (?). At first I started making victorian/vintage cards but I had been making some of these to use as CRAK's (for readers not in the know a RAK is an ATC sent without expectation of a swap in return - simply a random act of kindness - the C indicates that is is sent at Christmas) and had already got through quite a few.

I made a couple which I thought were slightly different:-

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The Christmas Star

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Christmas Morning
These two were entered into the challenge swap. But I got carried away and started playing with "christmassy" papers and embellishments and odd left overs from some cards I had made for my wife (confessions of an artist?).

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Happy Christmas

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the Holly and the Ivy

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Let It Snow

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Santa and Rudolph

If you can offer any help or assistance please leave a comment here, I would particularly like the address of CCMA (christmas card makers anonymous), before it is too late for me. If you would like to take any of these last four off my hands, I can arrange a swap thru my Flickr site. Or you can contact me via these pages.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

atc's for relaxation

I have been pretty busy of late with one thing and another and so I decided to do some very simple ATC's just to loosen up. As with all things, simple does not have to mean that a created item cannot be satisfying.

Here are four ATC's made over the last couple of days:-

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This one I called, "an apple a day", I was challenged to make an atc with a bird, a face and some text. I had a bckground scrap which I had used to blot up some unused gold, acrylic paint from the jigsaws. I found three of the snow owl apple adverts and arranged them pleasingly together with the image of the young girl. The title came quite naturally and I stamped the text onto the card. very simple and once I had decided on the images very quick.

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This ATC was for the same challenge. I had spent a little time searching for the images and so decided to make another card.the photograph of the jay fitted well with a frame that I had in my stash and having placed the face on the frame again the text ( and hence the title) just popped out at me. this time I used handwritten text. The title? "Don't make a noise".

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These twocame from some cardstock which I was sent along with a swap. (Thanks Tina) As I was making a card to fit the theme "purple" for a challenge on Lisa Vollrath's Make it Mondays I decided to use this as the background.
Lisa also has a section on composition/layout templates which I must admit that as an artist, I did not really think I needed. But having seen them and looking for something simple I decided to use one for this card. But being me I had to mess with the template and ended up doing two of this particular design, with a small piece of blue paper and an image of slightly different sizes. the blue paper was torn on one edge to offset the lines of the background card.
I was really surprised at the difference a couple of small changes made to the effect of the template. They obviously look very similar but the first one I think has the edge because of the relative sizes of the shapes. I simply called these "composition1a" and "composition1b".
Off to make a few more cards.............. back soon with more photos.

even more on the jigsaw swap

Right then, I have made my first steps towards towards putting this on a canvas to use as a wall hanging. this is what it may look like

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I say may.... as I am a little unsure of the "modern background". I think I will wait and see if this grows on me. But right now I think it will be changed to a more conservative cream and gold. I have also seen a photograph of another and may add a few embellishments to bring out the theme. Because I chose a theme which allowed for interpretation, I was not sure that the thing would look like a single artwork which is why I wanted the background to be a unifying factor. But in a way I think they all go together quite well. I am very satisfied with the outcome and heartily congratulate the team of Sherry, Margaret, Carol, Viv and Wendy for their work on this "difficult theme".

Thursday, 27 November 2008

more on the altered jigsaw swap

Well at last I have completed this little task and here is my own piece for my jigsaw. I asked for the partners to make my pieces on a theme of Christmas Afternoon, in colours of purple/blue with contrasts of orange and red. Most said how difficult they found it BUT they all came up with some fantastic pieces. All I have to do now is to set them on to a canvas background ( still contemplating how this will look, so you will have to wait for a picture of the whole set-up).

I have probably cheated a little on this theme because I had a very definite idea of what my piece would look like although I waited to see what the others would make of it before completing mine. Of course there was the queen on TV, knapping after lunch, snow and a wonderful sunset - all as I said stunning from such a talented bunch.

Here is my own piece:-

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Now then, what does that have to do with christmas, I hear you say. Well, as a small lad I always looked forward to christmas because all my mothers family used to gather at her parents house for two days over the holiday. My special treat was to be allowed to play real grown-up games with the men, whilst the ladies washed up, watched the queen on TV and then made the turkey sandwhiches for later. In the evening about 17 of us would sit around the somehow extended dining table and play more family inclined card games like Newmarket and Chase the Lady. But always for money ( pennies really, but I always enjoyed it).
It was definitely the card games which I always look back on when remembering christmas as a boy.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

NI Jigsaw Jam swap

It was with some apprehension that I signed up for this jam swap (swapping with multiple partners rather than swapping conserves LOL) and was a little sure of what to expect. as it turned out the mix of jigsaw piece sizes and themes was a bit of a learning experience for me. But I won't go into all that again as I mentioned it in my previous post. This post is simply to show you the results of my art work, making the pieces my the 5 partners involved.

Here are they are:-

the first was for Carol, the theme being "vintage christmas"

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this was for Margaret, the themw was "winged things"

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this is Sherry's, christmas with a musical theme

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next Viv's piece, vintage christmas again

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and finally a jigsaw piece for Wendy, with a theme of "angels"

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I hope to post the results of my jigsaw soon, % pieces from the partners and one of my own. I hope to place them on a canvas for display and will include the whole shot as well as the individual pieces.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Just a couple of new atc's

Still having problems getting much craft work done. I have been working on a series of six altered jigsaw pieces for a jam swap in the NI group on Yahoo. You know the thing, a group ( in this case six people) send a jigsaw piece to each other; each person receives 5 plus their own to alter according to some given theme / colour scheme. This has been taking me forever. I am not at all sure that it is the kind of thing which I will do again. Most people seem to find them great fun but I worry that I am not doing what the recipient really wants. It seems to hold back my creative juices.

I get the same way when my wife asks me to make a greetings card for someone - I am never sure I understand want is required; as I am making it for her and not myself.

Anyway I am all but finished and just need to add final touches to the last one. I will post all the pieces together within a couple of days. and then post my six pieces shortly after. Ourgroup tends to fix them together on a canvas, for instance for viewing although there are a couple this time who have asked for individual pieces.

Now.... just to keep you up to date here are a couple of atc's which I have made recently.

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the first is a piece I made a little while ago, using some old bits I found behind the cupboards in my garage. I coated the cardstock with an acrylic texture paste and when this dried I caught the tops of the "waves" with a black marker pen. I was intending to use an old figure of Obi-wan Kanobe (Star Wars!) in the piece so used a piece of 35mm film as a backing for contrast. The figure was placed on an "L"-shaped bracket as a stand and then the bits and pieces arranged to give a pleasing composition. I wasn't very enamoured of it but bought it out recently because of a challenge which I am joining in with.

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This is also an old piece which I bought out (see the original here). I added the clock/watch and the image of the eiffel tower as I never did find this atc terribly good and thought that this finished it off nicely by completing the composition. The clock was stamped, and then cut out to match the figure before being stuck into place. The tower image was also collaged and was in tune with the french text. This has now gone to the USA.

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This last atc is the only new one. The background is an image from an "oriental" images CD and I thought this would make a great background for the bird. This was dry embossed with a gold powder, the beak was built up using a yellow powder (not heat setting?) and the eye was added using a marker pen. The lace and sparkly sequins were added for effect.

So there you have it, the jigsaw pieces will be posted soon.

Herbylicious handmade soaps - an advertisement feature

Hi - not my usual update but couldn't help but offer this experience for the benefit of anyone who suffers from eczema.

I went to a craft fair recently at the Gloucestershire "Nature in Art" home. One of the stalls was a hand-made soap stall and my better-half being curious we went up to have a look. Whilst browsing the various scented soaps she came across one that contained Shea Butter. never heard of this myself but she said it was good for your skin and the owner agreed (well she would?). I was persuaded to part with £3.50 for a bar of this soap, because my hands need constant and copious amounts of creams and ointment to stop them getting raw in this weather.

I thought it was a bit expensive but if it worked......... and I have tried many things.

After a couple of weeks of using this soap (often irregularly) the skin started to heal up and I lost that dreadful itching sensation, which is a real bugbear. I have just placed an oprder for more of the same with the intention of trying it up until christmas, just to see if is is a real effect or simply a coincidence.

If you want to try it for yourself go to Herbylicious hand-made soaps and place your order. The soap I have been trying is called "PURE LUXURY". Of corse these soaps contain lashings of lanolin being hand-made but that in a cream has never worked so well for me.

I have no connection with either the site, the business or its owner

Monday, 17 November 2008

African themed ATC's for MAMMA challenge

Just bringing my self up to date. This completes the posting of all the atc's I have made over the last few weeks. It has been an artistically barren time for me with so many minor (?) but urgent things happening at home. With just a few major panics thrown in for good measure. But it has meant that I have not been able to commit very much time at all to art/craft.

Anyway, here are the latest entries for MAMMA's challenge swap on Flickr, I have at least managed to keep up with this challenge. Both because of my good friend Maragaret who is running it and because the members are such a mad lot - very talented - but off their heads for the most part.

This week's theme was Africa - very specifically defined by Margaret. I have to admit that I saw this has a very good excuse for getting out some old stamps (in fact the first stamps which I ever bought!), the only problem was how to use them. I laid a collaged background using hand-made papers and stamped on this to achieve a design with one main image surrounded by a circle of images. Bits and pieces were added for effect. I have left the cards untitled simply calling them Africa 1 and 2.

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Sunday, 16 November 2008

where does the time go.........

............. at this time of year.

I have been so busy it is just not true. But I have done a couple of atc's which I thought I could post here to keep things rolling. These were created for MAMMA's challenge swap last week. The theme was "remembrance". I thought for a long time about this idea and was not getting very far when I remembered some very old and tattered photos which I had of my mother and father. They were presumably taken just before he was sent overseas in the second world war. Both of them looked as if they had been used quite a bit. The creases and folds, etc are in the original photo and I did not want to use clever gimmickry from photoshop to clean them up ( even if I knew enough about this tool to be able to do it, LOL). The contrast was not too good and I had hoped to improve that but found that I was losing details so, left them largely as they were.

Mom's photo had a hand-written message on it, "With all my love, Olive XXX" in the bottom right-hand corner; quite difficult to read without the help of a good lens. Dad's had a similar message in the top left-hand corner, "All my love, Jack XXX". An additional message in the opposite corner read, "I've only had 2 bottles", I think. There appears to be some extra characters after the "2" and on the same line, but I can't make it out. No idea what the note referred to???

One other thing that can be seen in the photo is the shoes that Dad is wearing; I do not think these are army issue. The backdrop is also just that, it looks like a theatrical / photo studio background. this seems to indicate that the photos were indeed taken before he embarked for foreign climes. He did in fact go to the Far East.

I made them quite simple, just the photo on a red backing card with collaged images of poppies and a line of text from a poem.

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Life is eternal; and love is immortal;
And death is only a horizon;
And a horizon is nothing
Save the limit of our sight.

-Rossiter Worthington Raymond

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They that love beyond the world
Cannot be separated by it.
Death is but crossing the world,
As friends do the seas;
They live in one another still.

-William Penn

I made these for the swap as I said but ended up repeating them for my own collection.

Monday, 10 November 2008

New Challenge ATC

I have found my way to a recently started site where there is loads of free images and much more besides. Paperdigitalimages is worth a look. the first challenge was on the theme of "ONE", my atc for this is.... "Mirror, mirror.........."

I had just bought a large stamp (ebay!) and created this background by stamping with denim on a bright red card. I tore the card corners so that the image was contrasted against the background rather than the white card. It was an image I had had around for some time but never quite got round to using it. The young lady gazing at herself in the mirror (under the gold star) just seemed to fit the theme, "the one". The advertisements and flowers were added for extra detail and colour.

A short post today, lots to do - more in the near future.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Collages from the workshop

I asked my group to bring their collages back for me to photograph - can't believe I forgot to take my camera to the workshop... AAARRRGGGGGHHHH!

One or two of them did bring them in and I have managed to include them here for your delectation. I hope to have more next week.

these are amateur artists who have never tried collage before, and I think that my work over the past few weeks has really paid off by getting them interested in the possibilities of this media. the first is titled, " Four Seasons". It is a very busy piece but that should not detract from the beatiful artwork that it is. The photograph does not really do it justice, or any of them for that matter.

The lady concerned ( and it was all ladies who bought their work back to be photographed) had a little trouble to begin with. She had the idea to show the four seasons but had what I would call "white paper syndrome", not quite sure where or how to start. I suggested that she use coloured paper to quarter the groud and this seemed to give her the impetus that she needed to really start glueing. Once started she certainly went for it.

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The second one her was inspired by the release of the new Bond movie, the lady concerned, an accomplished artist, collected the images and was able to readily create the collage. A gold coloured thread and beading completed the work.

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This work entitled "The Enchanted Wood" has to be seen to be appreciated. Again the lady concerned had not done any collage but was inspired ( I like to think) by the work I had done over the last three weeks. She had included some lovely images but the real beauty was the plaited wool that she had used for the trees. the sky was painted in acrylic and the foreground was a patterened (and padded) fabric in beatiful green, red and gold colouring. A really special artwork which I was so pleased to in a way, have been responsible for.

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I will try and get the other members of the group who participated in the workshop to bring back their collages for me to photograph. Everybody managed to complete something and all of them were so different. It was one of the most successful workshops that we have had as a group, even tho' I say so myself. I hope that we can repeat this next year.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Collage workshop - news

hi, Sorry that it has been some time since my last post, thought that I would let you know how the workshop went. There were 9 artists from my art group who came along and we all enjoyed ourselves tremendously. I used the collages that I had worked on over the previous three weeks to give them some ideas ( although most of them had very strong ideas of what they wanted to do as it turned out) before they all started cutting and tearing at the magazines and other sources that they had bought along. I have to say there were some really superb efforts from the group. I am trying to sort out the photographs and will include them in the blog asap.

that is as much as I have time for this evening ( it has been a tremendously busy week) except to say that I have been awarded another accolade from Ranie Patridis otherwise known as Chatty530 for which I am very grateful. I have also been nominated for the same award by Jinny at Jinny's arts and crafts. A double award !! I am honoured

I will heve to get my finger out and pass this on to the five blogs as set out in the "rules". Simply been a little up to my neck in things lately and little time for non-essential stuff.

Thanks girls, I will be editing this post soon.

Monday, 27 October 2008

MAMMA's Bling themed challenge-swap

I am not a lover of the subject of this weeks theme for Margarets swap (MAMMA) but as I like a challenge - or so I keep telling myself - I jumped in with both feet and looked out some sparklies for this weeks atc's. Yes, atc's; I finally made a set of three. Prepare for a revelation:-

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The first is a portrait of an african male figure, sporting a metal leaf from copper wire. The wire is threaded through holes either side of the head of the image, to give a sort of 3-D effect. I then went a little mad and started adding a "metallized ribbon, a fancy thread and a few sequins" to add a little bling to the card. Oh and the background is from a photo pool on Flickr, offering free to use collage images. My apologies to the person who posted this on the group. I will promise to make a note of names in the future in order to give due credit.
You may remember this image from the African Angel in a previous post.

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The second was of this sturdy fellow standing in front of a home-made background. A watercolour wash over-stamped with a stamp free with a magazine earlier this year. I used a couple of charms, lots of gems and a little bit of gold metallised ribbon, with a heart shaped gem as a buckle. No he is not a superhero, and he is not wearing a posing pouch on the outside of his trousers; as suggested by someone who shall remain nameless. She knows who she is!
Again I have used this image before.

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The last ( but not the least?) is this fine figure of a statue bedecked in faux gems and ribbons. And catch the shooting star !!! And yet again, this image has been used previously.