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I don’t know about you, but I really struggle with knowing when a creative project is done. I’m never happy about things I make until someone tells me they like it and then I puff up with pride and feel I’ve actually created something worthwhile. The creative process is convoluted and tangled. I add a couple finishing touches, take a step back, and sometimes I even take a picture on my phone of the project so that I can see it from a different perspective. And all the while I’m doubting and questioning whether I should just tear it up and start again. Is anyone else like that? Please leave me a comment and tell me I’m not the only weirdo like that…

For this weeks project I wanted to create a mini album that pops off the page. My go-to inspiration for pop-off-the-page POW comes from different sources, like the blogs of Graphic 45, Echo Park, Emma Trout, and Jim Hankins, The Gentleman Crafter.

To give you an idea of where I started, I submit to you Exhibit A, my project that was published in Take Ten, Volume V. Yes, this flatness was actually PUBLISHED in a magazine from Stampington and Company.

Art by Christine Barker published in Take Ten


“Flatness 2005”

I thought I was all crafty and advanced, using paint chips WAY back in 2005, and stamping on them and layering them onto paper and then onto pages out of a book that I had painted with Anna Corba inspired pink stripes. (Ok fine, I’ll come clean, I worked at Stampington & Co for a bit and I think they published this because they felt sorry for me. lol.)

Thankfully one day I read a book, Pretty Little Things: Collage Jewelry, Trinkets and Keepsakes from Sally Jean Alexander, and joined one of her soldering classes, which led to stalking her taking several more of her amazing classes, and I sorta finally learned how to collage, and how to use charcoal pencil to add interest and depth. From there I blossomed, with inspiration learned in classes with Ingrid Dijkers, Lisa Kaus, and a paper flower class with Arlene Baker taken in Kaari Meng’s dreamy French General shop.

Go To Tools for adding depth scarlet calliope

Fast forward to today, and I’d like to introduce you to my tools that come out for almost every project that I work on. I use my brown Copic Marker to edge my paper to give it an antique look. Alternatively you can use a brown ink pad. Foam squares are a must-have to bring elements off the page. (Budget substitute: cut up corrugated cardboard into squares and glue those on instead of foam squares). Dimensional floral embellishments add visual interest and color. Rhinestones are a fancy girls staple. Lovebug Creations Rumple Ribbon adds a delightful pop of color. Then, there’s my eraser, black charcoal pencil, white charcoal pencil, blender/smudger, and finally my favorite pen, a white Signo Uni-Ball. I am forever grateful to my friend, Michelle Geller, for letting me in on the Signo secret. They are impossible to find and she was so sweet to buy a couple for me from her local Japanese book store and send them to me.

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I used the black charcoal pencil to lightly trace around the edges of the papers and then I smudged it with my blending tool. It really makes the letters in “LOVE” stand out. Next, I used the Signo white pen to add dashes around the outside. The white charcoal pencil was used on the scallops to add some depth.

Hog Heaven Mini Album by Christine Barker

I’ve been on a vellum kick lately, so I added a layer of scalloped vellum into the rosette. I used some Golden Interference Gold paint on the paper flowers and the baby mushroom to give them some shimmer. I used some brown flocking powder on Miss Hedgehog, because wouldn’t fuzzy be better than quills? Some pink rhinestones gave her some sparkle and interest. And, of course, I had to add some enchanting Lovebug Creations Rumple Ribbon in “Pink Clouds” to the ring.

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On this page I used washi tape to hold the writing paper down and smudged charcoal pencil around all the paper edges.

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To make the flower stand out from the paper underneath, I used a triangle shaped makeup sponge to pick up some white ink off of an ink pad, lightly pressed it on the page and then rubbed it with a paper towel to blend it all together. I crumpled up the flowers, like I’ve seen Cheryl Mezzetti do in class, and I added some glitter to the edges because you can never have too much glitter!

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I used the same techniques on the rest of the pages, black smudged charcoal around the edges, foam squares to lift the embellishments off the page, and more glitter!

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I added some Golden Acrylics Interference Gold to the clouds.

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More black charcoal!

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On this layout you can see the difference between the white dashes and white charcoal smudges on the scallops on the page on the right and no white details on the page on the left. The white picks it up and adds a touch of whimsy!

I hope you enjoyed learning about my techniques for finishing creative projects. I’d love to hear from you in the comments!


Christine Barker