Cricut Crafter of the Month/ Coral Bleaching Bodypaint

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.

Cricut Coral DS seaweed coral 30 May 2018 21-59Coral cricut DS cutting screen 1 Jun 2018 15-35

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.

CricutCoral Bodypaint dsitressed foam close 31 May 2018 09-24.57CricutCoral Bodypaint dsitressed foam 31 May 2018 09-24.52CricutCoral Bodypaint dsitressed foam weeding 31 May 2018 09-37.01

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.

CricutCoral Bodypaint building hat 1 Jun 2018 15-59.01cricutcoral-bodypaint-building-hat-brain-1-jun-2018-18-52-06.jpg

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. 

Cricut Coral setting up in studio 2 Jun 2018 14-09.54

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.

Cricut coral bodypaint 2cricut-coral-bodypaint-3.jpg

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.

Cricut coral bodypaint 4Cricut coral bodypaint 5

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.

Cricut coral bodypaint 7 stencilcricut-coral-bodypaint-stencil-10.jpg

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.

cricut-coral-bodypaint-17.jpg

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!

Cricut Coral Blue side crop look bpc

Cricut Coral Blue had crop bpc

Cricut Coral Blue headtop0X0A4605 bpc

Huge thanks to everyone at Cricut UK, Mark and Izabela.

Feb 2018 Once Upon A time Makeup Bodypaint Demo Look

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:

 https://youtu.be/4gpMXtj7YO4