As said in the Chasing Coral post, I’m delighted to have been asked by Cricut UK to demo what I do with their machine – I own a Cricut Explore Air and am saving for a Cricut Maker.
This time model Izabela fancied something pink and pretty. She likes insects and I thought a butterfly look might be more interesting for people who have kids or need fancy dress/ festival ideas etc.
I’d an idea of a flapper-festival-fairy sort of thing so that is what I created.
All photos taken by myself on my phone this time so do excuse the quality!
Short timelapse and final photos:
I found several free clipart jpegs of butterfly wings online, and I played around with them in Cricut Design Space (CDS). I strengthened veins and added cut out shapes as well as joining up any ‘loose’ ends.
I arranged my chosen wing on the CDS matt as single wings (mirroring it so I could do symmetrical headgear), as pairs like a real butterfly, and welded into strips like butterfly lace.
I positioned as many as possible into the size & shape of the material I wanted to cut them from and attached them before cutting with my Cricut Explore Air in assorted sizes and materials.
This time I added in cuts from the Vellum Cricut sent: I loved the translucent effect. I need to play with my settings a little as it didn’t always weed out as neatly as I liked, but it did take the intricate design fairly well, even the tiny wings.
My new fave material is the Cricut sparkle paper which is like a heavy glitter cardstock. The glitter card I usually use (the A4 glitter card packs from Hobbycraft) has a granular finish, but this has a thick smooth glossy top layer over the glitter. It makes it seem very strong and is another great texture, which took the wing cuts amazingly well.
Cricut Sparkle card in dark pink & Hobbycraft white glitter card
The Cricut corrugated pastel cardboard did look fab with its striped pattern, but again I will fiddle with my settings a bit, as I found that when weeding (Ok I wasn’t being incredibly careful as I had a deadline), tiny uncut areas would peel off the back colour revealing the white underneath which was a bit annoying. I am sure you can’t see it in the photos, but it meant those wings were not truly double-sided colour, which would have been better.
The Cricut opal sticky back vinyl as well – ooooh I love it! Pinky-blue pearly almost neon flashes in some lights, stunning. It took even the tiniest wing details too, but urgh weeding that small is a faff. Worth it though I think. As it was stuck onto other layers and over paint, its fine on the skin but not something I would adhere directly as it is not a cosmetic product. So pretty!
I repeated the single wing and butterfly chain patterns as stencils cut from mylar.
After basing Izabela with Cameleon face paint reds blended through pinks to whites, I stencilled the butterfly chain along her upper chest using a darker burgundy.
Then loading my sponge with a home-made ‘rainbow’ split cake in pinks and golds, I stencilled the large wing patterns onto her face and smaller butterflies all over her neck.
Most of my time was then spent pinning and gluing the Cricut cut-outs onto her. Any bits glued onto her skin I used cosmetic water based adhesive, which we remove with baby oil or rubbing alcohol when it has dried and we are finished with the look.
And there we have it; I love the layered wing headband/ bunches look and will be using the Cricut leathers etc to make myself a more permanent set for working at festivals, I think!
Thanks to Izabela, the Cricut UK team, and my youngest, who was unexpectedly home and was really good. He sat like an angel for his 1st ever face paint after watching the whole shoot, and begged to be a dinosaur…
I’ve a 10 hour booking in an ‘immersive rave wonderland’ this weekend and I may wear the headwings in the hope I’ll fit in more with the youngsters I’m decorating!
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.
I was able to attend the annual Paradise Wildlife Face Painting Jam, which this year had a ‘Once Upon A time’ theme. Organiser Juliet Eve asked if I’d do a freehand glitter tattoo demo, and I decided the demo could be part of a bodypaint I did there. AND there was a head-piece competition so I thought I’d enter that at the same time.
I always like to push myself to try new things, and immediately thought; story books – writing on skin! I hated graphics (the lettering side) when I was at college and have rarely seen well-executed wording on faces so tried to work out how to do that. I didn’t have the time or skills as yet (I really need to do a hairdressing course!) so was also trying to think what I could put on my models’ hair to go with the theme. Then I suddenly thought – a paper wig!
The last #paperwig I made was in 2014 for the Paintopia Professor’s Apprentice Competition in which Nicky Gardener & I placed 2nd. That theme was Vintage Children’s books – not dissimilar – and we chose Treasure Island. I’d designed a wig made from paper quilling strips, which on the day it turned out we had to slice open, as our model was sick and she was replaced by the much larger James. Who rocked it and completed our awesome team!
Anyway, I decided this time vintage paper would look best, and bought some post-war story books from a charity shop. Lots of slicing later I had a sort of Rapunzel wig. I made lots of paper flowers on my crciut to adorn it, a bit like the Tangled Princess look.
I’m now designing and making stencils (and can do custom stencils too) which Jennie planned to launch as #CutByCat at the Jam as part of her Paintopia Face & Body Painting Supplies shop. So, I made a bunch of custom stencils of fairytale phrases, and also cut them out of glitter card to form part of the wig, and a crown on Izabella.
Izabella was free to be my model, and kindly said she’d meet us there Monday morning. My mum agreed to wrangle my 2 boys at the Paradise Wildlife Park (a zoo that hosts the event) so we drove down through snowy gales the night before to meet up with Paintopia Jenn in nearby hotel. I did try to start assembling my wig before bed, but luckily realised I actually had to have it bare so I could firmly attach it to Iz’s hair before I assembled all the other bits! Euan refused to let Jennie leave our room, so with that and loud music from other rooms it was a loooong night…
The snow had stopped but we collected a very chilly Iz from the station before arriving at the bright but freezing marquee that always contains the Jam. After greeting lots of familiar faces, I set up and started getting the paper wig onto Izabela. It was shallower than my previous attempt (I’d built up the bouffant bit of the ships figurehead wig with plastic bags which I guess we just ripped out to fit James’ head). Luckily, all the paper flowers I had made to decorate the Rapunzel paper plait filled in the forhead space perfectly.
Arranging and attaching all the glittery words took a lot longer than I expected, plus I was chatting and answering questions, so by the time the judging for the headpiece competition started I’d only managed a hint of colour over the white base on Izabella. We were really happy to place 2nd and win some fantastic brushes from the Bodycraft Festival team, thanks so much!
Suzanna Forrister-Beer had the most amazing prosthetic Special FX horns on her husband and came first, just beautiful. Also lovely was the kids entertainment, my youngest was boogying on down…
I continued adding mainly Cameleon Bodypaint from the Paintopia shop, layering lettering and stencils and blending with Kryolan powders. I stuck to white, blues and black as I wanted an almost monochrome book-like feel to it.
Last of all I added some quick hand painted swirls, then some freehand glitter tattoos using the waterbased Mouldlife Aquafix in the bottles with fine tips I sell. Finishing touches were flat backed pearls and tiny accent flowers from Hobbycraft.
These 4 photos by www.apheadshotphotgraphy.co.uk
And finally the image in my head of Izabella peerg throught the ‘O’ on Once Upon A time was out in reality.
Paintopia Jenn put together a fab vlog on it too.
(Yes my hair is a mess I kept stuffing on a hat when going out to check my snowy kids!)
Huge thanks to all involved, the organisers and everyone who came to talk to me or shop with Paintopia. I had a great time chatting (though not as much chat as usual as I was full of cold) and my family loved the zoo and entertainment as usual!
My final clip of Izabella is here:
I was really a rock/ metal/ funk chick from my teens, but I still had a good mix of music on my tapes (yes I’m that old) and adored George Michael’s Freedom. I can recall hours of listening to that on my Walkman as I sat painting and repainting pictures of the central courtyard tree in Chesterfield high school for my A-level art exams.
Later, I couldn’t go to the Freddie Mercury tribute concert as I had an exam at Uni, but watching it in the Student Union bar over lunch, his was the one voice that really blew me away – he nailed the Queen vocals.
So I was saddened to hear of the last great loss to music in 2016 – George Michael on Christmas Day. I’d hoped to paint something on a model locally just to express thanks/ regrets, but colds swept the family and models cancelled. Finally I asked if there was anyone I could paint at the Wiltshire Face Painters’ Jam I was supposed to demo at in Feb. Richard, fiancee of a painter, kindly volunteered.
On an incredibly cold, misty morning, my eldest and I packed the car and drove the hour over to the jam, missing all the local scenery in our foggy tunnel.
I’d initially wanted to paint jeans and a jacket like in the famous denim/ jukebox video but due to timings cut back to just the jacket. I’m not a fan of using black, its the shade I use least (I find it boring for clothes and prefer colours) but I did my best! I substituted ‘never gonna dance again’ on the t-shirt chest to mimic the white block-lettered T shirts George had in the 80’s.
On the back, I swapped the top gothic lettering for ‘freedom’ with some of his iconic crosses either side, RIP in the middle of the leafy wreath,
and, running out of time, didn’t do a great job of the gothic G heart M on the bottom. I did these in paint first and then freehand glitter tattooed around the edges, as I wanted to give a raised effect like metallic thread stitching. Brushing off glitter vudei is here.
It was a fairly relaxed day, with demos, competitions, people chatting, asking painty advice, breaks for Katie’s lethal rainbow cake, etc.
Assorted pics from the jam page… not painted by me
I attempted to stencil-glitter-tattoo (using Mehron’s gold metallic powder) the zips which didn’t quite work but I can see what I’d do another time and it still gave a good effect. That’s when we found Richard had a very very tickly tummy button…
The organiser Sally rose leant us some perfect aviator glasses, but sadly the perfect guitar I’d borrowed from my husband and packed the night before had been borrowed back by hubby and I’d not noticed to re-pack it! Luckily Richard was the event’s DJ so had a mic to add to the look. Final clip here and I’m just doing he timelapse.
We all snapped a few pics – I mainly have put up Katie’s as her phone caught better reflections in the sunglasses than mine did – and packed up. Short but sweet!
When I got home my eldest vanished and hubby was in the bath, so I unloaded the stuffed car into the porch and ferried from the porch into the house. This is my youngest ‘helping’ by flinging paints and glitter gels out of a crate on the front step, into the house…
Huge thanks to Richard 9and it seems he now wants another paint so wasn’t put off by this!) and Katie, to Sally for the fab jam, and everyone who came to chat etc.