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.