Over the last year I’ve been creating more intricate, mainly paper (it’s more eco-friendly & I can store it in smaller spaces!) accessories for my body paint models.
I can also now custom-cut my own stencils without risking hot-pen burns, as well as create the #cutbycat stencil range for Paintopia Jenn.
This is due to my Cricut Explore Air; a big investment but a big love of mine. I had been eyeing them up since they launched in America years back but only got one last summer. Well worth it!
(This Cricut-accessorised selection is all on Izabela – a fab local model who is often available for me)
I was amazed when Cricut UK started talking to me on social media and asked if I’d be their #CricutCrafteroftheMonth for June. Yes please!
They kindly sent some of their materials for me to create projects showing why I like the machine.
Please note; I don’t use nudes, in all my work on social media models wear knickers, with large breast covers as a minimum on females.
My first artwork for Cricut is based on a something I adore; the ocean.
Connel beach towards Mull; fishing in Belize; life on Hong Kong catamaran
I went to school in the highlands of Scotland with its pristine beaches, but spent holidays in Belize on the world’s 2nd longest barrier reef. Later I ran underwater nature trails in Dorset. We also lived on a catamaran in Hong Kong after sailing it there from Palau, so I’ve admired sea-life world-wide. I hope to take my kids to see reefs when they are older.
Recently I watched the Chasing Coral documentary on Netflix, and the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 series (well done my old uni mate Kathryn & co!). I no longer teach field studies (I’m an artist and now work part-time in a craft chain store too) but wanted to do something to raise interest in ocean issues. Plus I always loved the patterns and textures underwater and thought that would work well on a Cricut project – I adore layers that reveal more layers!
So, I tried to visualise coral bleaching. This is when corals get stressed due to warming seas and pollution, and expel their algae, turning white. Some starve without their algae providing food from photosynthesis, so rot and die. Just the ‘bones’ are left; all the colour goes from the corals, the bright fish and other creatures soon dying or leaving too. (There is hope and it can recover, but we need to help it now.)
To create this effect I scanned in corals I collected on Belize beaches as a kid, and uploaded photos and copyright-free images found online. I altered and thickened them in Cricut Design Space (CDS), so I had intricate but hopefully strong patterns to cut. Other shapes I made from scratch in CDS, welding together then slicing basic circles.
I hate wasted material, so in CDS often attach many shapes together into the size of the material I will be cutting to maximise the amount I can fit on a sheet. Cuts this many, this large and so intricate meant I was on my Cricut several hours every evening for over a week, with a whole day spent on it the day before the shoot. I am saving to upgrade to a newer, faster Cricut Maker but even so my older Explore Air is fabulous.
Weeding the distressed foam cuts.
Using the correct settings, mats and blades, I cut different corals in all the materials, in varying sizes. That is why I love Cricut Explore Air; once I have the shape I want, I can make multiple copies in any size for crafting, or convert them into stencils.
I cut lots of each shape from Cricut UK’s pearl, sparkle, glitter and corrugated papers and cardstock in blues, greys, blacks and silvers. I especially liked the distressed foam for coral cutouts and the plush foam for the intricate brain coral pattern covering the top of my headpiece, they had perfect textures and took the patterns really well.
Izabela Kowalewska arranged the shoot at Mark Pickethalls‘ lovely photo studio; he got creative painting glass lenses for background effects whilst I prepped her.
The following snaps are from my time-lapse, but give an idea of what went on.
I started with a simple blue body paint base, slightly patchy, to represent beams and streaks of light reaching down from the surface, and different water currents. I pinned the wire frame I’d made and partially covered with coral shapes onto Iz’s hair, and started pinning and gluing on the other materials I’d cut.
On her headpiece and breast covers I used tacky craft glue or hair grips, but anything touching skin was attached with cosmetic adhesive.
More shapes were added and then I started gluing them onto the large bikini insert triangles which were body-glued onto Izabela’s chest too.
Next I stencilled in some of the same patterns as I had cut to give more depth and detail.
As I wanted to focus on the cut coral patterns and textures this is probably the most minimal body paint I have ever done. Iz was ombre blues/ green – all cosmetic Cameleon bodypaints – with touches of black and white stencilled on too.
I loved the sheen of the midnight blue pearl paper, but it was a bit fragile for building props with of course, so was mainly glued on as a bottom texture layer over her paint.
This took me several hours; towards the end Mark set up his photo studio, and we switched off the time-lapse before I finished to move equipment around.
Mark was inspired and had been painting glass panels for his lighting with Hobbycraft glass paints too, which created the amazing patterns and effects on the backgrounds in his photos.
Then Iz threw her graceful poses (with a serious face as this was not really a smiley look – see her next time for her lovely grins!) and together we created these end results which I LOVE.
I’m hoping you are inspired to try layering up Cricut makes into a headpiece, or try stencilling…
Too many pics I know, but I couldn’t choose a favourite!
Huge thanks to everyone at Cricut UK, Mark and Izabela.