13 Days of Halloween – Potions

13 days of halloween

Long before I was a crafty person, I could cross stitch.  I don’t recall when I learnt, or who taught me.  It’s just something I’ve always been able to do.  It used to be the only craft I could do.  I haven’t really done any in a long time though, because I now do a LOT of different crafts.

But I had to include a little cross stitch piece for this little series.  Can you tell what it is yet?

2019-10-08 14.01.14

I got a bit more work done, then realised that I had completely screwed up.  I hadn’t centred it right, and it wasn’t going to fit on the damn piece of aida.

2019-10-10 17.18.18

Not that you have any clue what it’s supposed to be.  I could show you the pattern, but I’ve had a bit of an idea on what to do with it.  It’ll be a later blog post, and I’ll show you the pattern then.

I decided for this Halloween series to go for something a little simpler.  It’s also a little easier to tell what it is after the first session.

2019-10-15 18.49.08

I did some messing up on this piece too though.  I didn’t have enough of one yellow to do the entire moon…

2019-10-15 18.19.45

..so I decided a variagated effect would look pretty good.  That’s not where I messed up.  I lost track of the shape of the moon, and decided it would be fine fudged.  But it looked wonky.  So I tried to adjust it, and failed.  And then again, and failed.

I ended up drawing up a pattern, and the moon ended up pretty huge.  But it still looks good.

2019-10-22 14.19.24

Since I’d finished that one quite quickly, I decided to do another piece.  The problem here was narrowing down which one to do.  I’d collected a few (and by “a few” I mean “a lot”) of patterns from Pinterest and other places online – completely ignoring the large collection of cross stitch patterns I already have.  But I settled on this cute little potion bottle.

2019-10-15 18.53.11

When I finished I decided it looked a little lonely…

2019-10-23 21.55.24

…so I added another bottle.

2019-10-23 22.42.44

And then another one.  With a little bit of surface for them to sit on.

2019-10-23 23.36.18

I added a cloud of background…

2019-10-25 15.43.13

…and finished it off with a thin outline.

2019-10-25 16.21.00

Doing these little pieces has certainly reignited the cross stitch bug in me.  I’ll definitely be doing more soon.

2019-10-25 11.54.43


13 Days of Halloween – Possession

13 days of halloween

One of my favourite inspiration images from Pinterest was this one.


It reminded me of something similar that Threadbanger did way back in October 2017.  They were even inspired by the same image.

It seemed like a relatively simple craft too.  Unfortunately getting the main supply wasn’t so easy.  Sure, I could order a figurine from the internet.  But the whole point of it was that you used something from a thrift store or charity shop.  However I barely leave the house, so getting to a charity shop was going to present some difficulties.

Which is where my awesome boyfriend’s awesome Mum came in.  She offered to pick something up for me, and came back with this incredible piece.

Look at that bear on the back!

I figured that painting directly onto porcelain was not going to work, so I decided to go ahead with the “DIY Gesso” I’ve been meaning to try for years.  There are lots of recipes online, but I went with this one from Our Daily Craft.

I gathered my ingredients, and a jar that was waayyyy too big.

2019-10-07 15.56.15

After a bit of adding more of this, and more of that, I ended up with what I hoped was gesso.

2019-10-07 16.04.07

I painted some onto my test rock.  By the next morning it had dried and it seemed okay, but I didn’t really know what gesso was supposed to look like.

I applied some to a patch of the figurine, but then I wasn’t sure whether just sanding the porcelain would work.  So I did four tests.  I sanded parts, and I gesso’d parts.  Then I painted black poster paint on all four test parts.

The top test was sanded, then gesso’d, then painted.  The middle test was just sanded and painted.  The bottom test had no preparation at all.  The test on the other side was just gesso’d and painted.

They all looked fine.  I tested by rubbing with my thumb, and while they all looked scuffed, only the part with no preparation really came off.

I tried scratching with my nail and the paint came off all four tests – with varying levels of pressure.  But I was going to seal the piece anyway.  Or I could just not scratch it.

I scratched off as much of the tests as I could so I could restart, and then I coated her in my gesso.

2019-10-12 14.35.35

Once dried, there was a bit of a lip at the bottom where the gesso had pooled on the paper.  It snapped off easily, but for the next step I taped some greaseproof paper onto the little box lid I’ve been using for crafting.

After one coat of paint it looked pretty good.  It was very blotchy though.

The second coat covered most of the patches.  The third coat was about as well as I figured I was going to get it.

2019-10-17 11.12.40

Time for the eyes.  I got out every shade of red gouache I had, and tested dotting them onto the dried black paint on the greaseproof paper.

I went with the Crimson Red Lake, and dotted on the eyes.  I messed up a little on the bear, but it still looks pretty evil to me.

I tested my varnish, and some clear nail polish, on the black and red paint on the greaseproof paper.

2019-10-18 11.09.29.jpg

The varnish, on the right, smeared the red a little.  It may have been that the thicker blob of red paint wasn’t fully dry, but I also felt that it made the black paint look a little weird.

So I coated my little evil figurine in clear nail polish.  When it dried it didn’t look perfect.  There are lots of errors, but I think it looks pretty fantastic.

2019-10-25 00.04.49

13 Days of Halloween – Pumpkins

13 days of halloween

Whilst I was searching on Pinterest for ideas for this 13 Days of Halloween blog series, I found this image.

2019-08-27 16.44.38

A handy dandy reverse image search let me to the original source, Divine Debris, and I decided that I could definitely make these.

Amber from Divine Debris used size 10 crochet thread, but when I saw the image the first thought that came to mind was embroidery floss.  I’ve done knitting and crochet with embroidery floss before.  It’s very delicate and tricky.  It’s very… splitty.  Which I guess isn’t surprising because it’s designed to be split into seperate threads.  And I haven’t done anything other than embroidery with it in a few years – I haven’t even done too much embroidery to be honest, but that’s another blog post.

When crocheting with embroidery floss and making very small intricate things, you need to use a very small crochet hook.  And I have very fat fingers.

2019-10-14 13.05.49

Whenever I crochet, whether I’m working with proper sized hooks or not, I have a tendency to mess things up.  And usually that’s fine, because I usually make things big enough that I can fudge it.  It’s harder to fudge things when you only have two or three rounds.  This is why the arms and legs and tails on the amigurumis that I make are always very squiffy.

For my first attempt, it started to look too round to be a pumpkin.  So I ripped it back and started again.

2019-10-14 12.43.37

My second attempt is very cute.  Unfortunately, I forgot that the pattern is technically for an apple and that at a certain point you cut yarn and change colour.  For the pumpkin you don’t do that.  Except that I did.

2019-10-14 12.55.22

At this point I stopped to think though.  It was already about as large as I like earrings to be, and if there were a few more rounds it was going to get even bigger.  Plus, I wasn’t sure if I even had enough thread left.  So I measured it, then ripped it back and tried with a smaller hook.

2019-10-14 12.57.29

I’d been using a 2mm, but I couldn’t find a 1.5mm so I went down to a 1.25mm.  Hopefully that would decrease the size a little.  Unfortunately it made things even more tiny and delicate.  Attempt three was a fail.

2019-10-14 13.03.52.jpg

Attempt four was a (blurry) fail.

2019-10-14 13.10.08

But I managed to get attempt five to the same point I’d measured attempt two at.

It was essentially the same size.  Oh well.  I could make just the one and make a necklace pendant instead of earrings.  I most definitely wasn’t going to have enough thread for two anyway.  Right, time to carry on…

2019-10-14 13.25.33

And that’s where I ran out of thread.  Damn.

Okay, I thought, so I’ll order some more thread.  I’m warmed up now so it should be a little easier when I try again.

They sent the wrong thread.

2019-10-16 12.09.52

Pumpkins are not red.  After a little bit more wait, the right colour thread finally arrived.  And it was a lot easier to make the little pumpkin, having practiced before.

Attempt five went perfectly.  No problems at all.

2019-10-22 12.02.34

Having decided that I was now making a pendant, I thought this was going to be a little flimsy.  So I made a second one.

2019-10-22 12.02.51

…and slip stitched them together.

2019-10-22 12.15.15

Stitching the stem was nice and simple.  Add a jump ring and voila!

2019-10-22 14.19.13

2019-10-21 22.04.49


13 Days of Halloween – Monsters & Dragons

13 days of halloween

With this blog series planned, I didn’t want to attempt Inktober this year.  But I did want to include it somehow.  So I decided I’d see if I could do one piece with as many prompts as possible.

2019-10-01 22.36.48

I also decided that I’d do something that’s been on my to do list for months, and sort out my box of writing inks.  Then I could do the Inktober piece in actual ink.  My box of inks has been a bit neglected…

2019-10-05 11.13.44

But I took everything out, dealt with the small spill at the bottom, and sorted the inks.  I have a few actual bottles in there, but mostly it’s samples.  Lots and lots of samples. Most of them have already been tested – but a couple haven’t.   We’re just going to ignore the fact that I have a long list of samples I want to get as well.

Okay, for this project we’re going to need to use proper tools.  I used my Rhodia pad of paper, and a pretty glass nib pen.

Step one – swatch all my samples.  I only swatched the ones I haven’t tested yet.

The little asterisks denote inks that are supposed to have a shiny or shimmer effect that doesn’t really show up.  For instance, Diamine Majestic Blue (third down on the second page) is supposed to look like this..

2019-10-05 12.45.16

To really show off the beauty of these inks I pulled out another notebook.  This is a little book I made of Tomoe River paper.  It is a very very smooth paper and it is excellent for pen ink, but it is super expensive.  I bought some sample sheets years ago and made a little notebook to do this in:

So I did that with all the other samples that had specialness to them.

There is another notation on my swatch sheets.  Some of the Diamine inks have an X across the start of the name.  This is because there is none of that sample left.  Here’s why.

Now, this particular style of sample bottle really really sucks.

2019-10-05 11.59.16

None of the places online that I’ve bought samples from use them.  They’re wiser than I and use water-tight tubes.  These are a type that I bought a batch of when Cayden and I first started getting into fountain pens and inks, and I used them for samples he’d give me when he’d buy something new.   I have 7 samples in those containers.  So I figured I’d use them for my Inktober piece, and not have to deal with the containers and their mess.

2019-10-05 13.09.43

(There are only 6 Diamine inks crossed off my swatch list because I now own a bottle of Purple Pizzazz, so it’s not a sample anymore.)

I emptied the little not-water-tight samples into a palette – which for some reason I didn’t photograph – and then I swatched what I’d be using for Inktober.

2019-10-05 13.26.37

I’ve just noticed that on the sample swatch sheet I wrote Shimmering Seas and on that swatch sheet I wrote Shimmering Sky.  (There’s a lot of S in that sentence.)  The ink is actually called Shimmering Seas.

I did some doodles, to test drawing with pen, and used up a couple of prompts while I did it.

2019-10-05 13.41.39

And then I started sketching.  I even sketched in ink.  I knew I definitely wanted to do a dragon, so I started with that.  I liked my initial sketch, but the face was too round and didn’t really look right.

2019-10-05 13.50.47

I decided that I was going to use the following prompts though: dragon, freeze, enchanted, pattern, snow, legend, treasure, ring (in the treasure), and injured (I was going to put a bandage on his leg.)

I started the proper piece – but I messed up the face again.

2019-10-05 13.58.49

On my third try I got it right.  Ish.  I think if I used pencil to sketch, and then markers, I could do a much better job.  But considering I didn’t have a sketch, and that it’s using a medium and an implement I’m not used to, it’s pretty good.

2019-10-06 16.57.21

However, there was a lot of ink left over.  I would have transferred them into more leak-proof bottles, but I didn’t have any.  So I did this…

When everything was dry, I got out a lining pen, a white gel pen and a metallic marker, and I turned them into monsters.

2019-10-12 12.19.352019-10-12 12.22.13

I also did this.

2019-10-06 16.55.53.jpg

I’m not sure what it is, but I don’t think it’s finished.  At some point I’m going to swatch my bottles of ink, and I’ll probably add more shapes to this random piece then.

2019-10-21 22.04.38







13 Days of Halloween – Vampire

13 days of halloween

At the start of the month SamBeAwesome wrote a brilliant guest post for me about Washiween.

When she posted the prompt list on her Twitter account, Nina wondered if anyone would be crazy enough to do all 9 prompts in one piece.

Challenge accepted!

2019-10-04 11.53.04

Nina took on her own challenge too.

And Sam has been doing them as well, but she’s not mad enough to do them all at once like me and Nina.  This one is my favourite so far.  Go follow her Twitter to see the rest.

2019-10-21 22.04.28

13 Days of Halloween – Ghosts & Monsters

13 days of halloween

Remember in my rock painting post last week I put some white-painted rocks aside for another project?

Well one of them got turned into this…

2019-10-08 10.16.33

I was trying to duplicate something I’d seen on Pinterest.  I might not have used the best shaped rock, but it still looks pretty cute.  At least in my opinion.  Here’s the inspiration image.

2019-08-23 03.57.32

The other one that I put aside was going to be one of these (also found on Pinterest)…

2019-09-28 22.56.49

We all know I love monsters, and I’m a sucker for googly eyes.  I went back to the poster paint, picking purple this time.  I used a stiff tool to apply the paint and it came out really blobby.  Not so bad for a monster though.  It adds texture.

2019-10-02 14.20.10

I had squeezed out quite a bit of purple paint, and there was a lot left.  So I decided to have another go.  Months ago I bought a pack of rocks from Amazon, for future rock painting fun.

2019-10-02 14.20.23

These are nice and smooth, and I didn’t do a base coat.  I just tried applying the paint.  It was very blobby again.  I tried smoothing it with an actual brush, but failed.

I knew that applying the paint so thicky was gonna make it really hard to get a smooth look.  But I also knew that it’d take several layers of thin paint, and I’m impatient.  I was curious as to how many layers though.  So I picked out a broken rock to use as a tester.

For some reason I don’t have a finished picture, but it took about 4 layers to get a smooth coverage in the end.

Back to the monsters.  They both needed a bit of touching up, and I had to fix the teeth on the first one.  I added a fang to the second monster, lined some mouths, and got out the googly eyes.

2019-10-08 10.16.15

I gave the paint pen a second chance, thinking that maybe using it directly on one of the smooth new rocks would be easier.  It was, but I probably shouldn’t have used the practically dead paint pen.

2019-10-04 12.38.33

2019-10-18 22.08.09

13 Days of Halloween – Witches

13 days of halloween

One of the things on my 20 Before 20 list was to do a line art swap.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t felt like I was good enough to do it.

The lovely NinaHah, who drew this awesome art for me, agreed to swap with me.  We settled on a full body drawing, without a background, of one of the recipients characters, and given the time of year, we went with a Halloween theme.  We were gonna draw the characters in a Halloween outfit.

I had a look at Nina’s Deviant Art page and picked her character Mariola.

2019-09-19 22.47.19

After a quick sketch…

2019-09-23 09.52.32.jpg

… I got started on the piece to swap.  I wanted to put her in a witch outfit, because witches are awesome.  I didn’t want to be boring and go traditional though.  So I added some style.  I don’t know if it’s good style – I have no fashion sense.  But I like it.  I appear to be a little obsessed with striped socks.

line art2.png

It’s very weird drawing a piece when you have no intention of colouring it.  Very weird.  But I scanned the drawing into the computer and tidied it up, then sent it to Nina.  She was very excited to start planning colours.

So what did she draw for me?

2019-10-04 18.30.41

Another witch!  I guess great minds think alike.  This is my character Wren.

I considered printing and colouring her traditionally, but I really want to work on my digital skills.  The method I’m used to using to colour images is to make clipping masks, but that requires transparency instead of white.  I figured out a way to make the white transparent, but then I spent an hour deleting individual pixels from the intricate bits.

Screw this.  I’ll just colour around the lines.  This wasn’t as easy as it sounds.  My tablet isn’t a proper graphics tablet.  It’s just a touch screen.  And so the stylus that I have to use is a great big thick rubber end – it’s hard to be accurate.  The colouring around the lines took forever.

And then Nina taught me about multiply layers.  All of a sudden it was a lot easier.

I had a lot of fun doing it.  I’m continuously learning new skills with digital art – this time I figured out getting the gradients in the hair.

before background

Figuring out how to add a background was also a bit difficult, but I got there in the end.  I’m pretty sure that most things I do digitally I do the long and complicated way round.  But I’m learning.

One of the biggest things I’m learning is to not obsess over every tiny pixel.  When I work, because of the tablet style, I work very close up.


It makes me want to make sure that every single pixel is perfect.  But I’m trying to resist that, and I think my finished piece looks freaking awesome.


Thank you for doing this collaboration with me, Nina.  I can’t wait to see what you’ve done with my drawing of Marie.

2019-10-10 21.46.14