Altenew Education Certification Program level 2 challenge
Here it is....the final challenge of level 2. So far I have taken 20 Altenew Academy classes and made 37 cards. This has been a really great experience to improve my card presentation and to learn different techniques. For this challenge I had to make a home decor project using inspiration from some of the 20 classes I have taken. I decided to make some prints in the spirit of John Audubon’s nature prints. I had been planning on purchasing some Audubon original book plates but these are really expensive. The book plates have really simple images and have just a flower or birds with the species name in typeface. Altenew stamp sets have beautiful detailed images that I thought would work great for this project. Read on for how I put together these home decor pieces. If you have questions on the Altenew Educator Program, please let me know as I would be happy to talk about my experiences so far. I’ve included affiliate links in this post for the items I used to make these pieces. If you use these links to purchase the items, I may get a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.
Formalizing an Idea
So I knew what I wanted to do, but not how to do it. I am a scientist by training and a big part of my thinking is around problem solving. So I take each project and treat it like a problem. This problem was about how to ramp up a card and turn it into wall art and hang it in my house. Here are the constraints: these cards will be mounted in a frame so no dimension, the color story needs to match the room and how to emulate the amazing work of John Audubon and other naturalist painters using stamps.
First I measured the wall these frames were going on and then I found the frames. This gave me an idea of the sizes of the projects. I decided on a gallery style with three frames and a total of 4 pictures. The frames I found were from Michael's and there are two 8x8 each with a 5x5 opening, and one 10x20 with 2 5x7 openings.
Next I had to figure out color scheme. I took pictures of the main feature in the room, the window shade which has teals, blues, creams and brown. The other feature is a large silver mirror and the last feature is the wall color which is yellow/green. I then rummaged through all of my inks and made a swatch of the colors I would use. A major inspiration for this project came from Altenew Academy's Color Your Day class where I learned how to use the color wheel to determine color combinations to make cards. I consulted the color wheel to see if I could add any accent colors. I decided to stay complementary to the color scheme which would put the color choices within the blue, yellow, green groupings.
The last step of preparation was which stamp sets to use and the techniques for each one. The Altenew class, Color Your Day discusses inspiration for projects originating everywhere. I was inspired by images from John Audubon and other naturalist painters whose paintings focused on the plant or animal, its structure and how it lived in the wild. These paintings are relatively simple and unencumbered by extraneous decorations. I decided on florals that contained a definitive stem and leaves and also a secondary bud in addition to the main flower. The stamp sets, techniques and Altenew Academy classes that inspired me were:
This stamp set reminds me of anemones. Anemones come in a variety of colors. This stamp set has three layers for each flower plus the inside of the flower plus the leaves. With any layered stamp set, you need to practice how to line up the images. When I practiced layering the stamps, I also practiced different color combinations and placement of the images on the paper.
As I was practicing with this stamp set, I realized that I needed to stamp the greenery first to determine the location of the flowers. This panel is 5"x7" cut from Neenah Solar White 80lb cardstock. Once I had the leaves stamped, I placed the large and small flower and stamped all the flower layers and then the inside layers. This set has a lot of layers. The layering guide that came with the stamp set as well as quite a bit of practice was essential to getting this right. I also used a stamp positioning tool and for extra insurance, I taped my paper to the positioning tool just in case it moved.
To finish off the panel, I wanted to add some pizazz to the background without taking away from the main image. I masked off the flowers and greenery using masking paper. I then stamped a Damask background stamp from My Favorite Things using Versamark ink and then covered the panel with Hero Arts clear embossing powder. Finally to have the background show up, I used Distress Oxide in Antique Linen and a mini blending tool to add some ink to the edges of the panel to make it look weathered and older. I like how simple this looks but the Antique Linen helps to make the blue flowers really pop and the clear embossing adds some extra interest.
Birds of a Feather
Altenew Birds of a Feather stamp set has a lot of layers and the layers overlap each other. I had to practice this stamping to figure out the colors, stamp placement and how to arrange the birds on a background. This panel was a 5"x5" cut from Neenah Solar White 80lb cardstock. As I was building a scene with this panel, I first stamped the images that were going to be in the foreground of the scene. I kept the colors similar to the chosen color palette of the project. The second bird's tail was stamped in Hero Arts Rust but the way the stamp was designed, it was to layer over the bird wings which were stamped in a dark teal. Hero Arts Rust is a dye ink so it was not showing up over the teal. I stamped the tail in Hero Arts Unicorn pigment ink to build a barrier for the rust ink to stand on and show through. Just make sure to allow the pigment ink time to dry before stamping the dye ink on top.
In building this panel, the birds needed a scene, so I cut masks out and masked off the birds. I then stamped the branches from the stamp set so the birds would have a place to stand. Then I took layering berries from Altenew Peony Bouquet set and stamped those on the branches in Distress Ink Dried Marigold and Ripe Persimmon as well as some leaves from that same set which I stamped in Hero Arts Field Greens. I used Hero Arts clear embossing powder over these leaves and berries to protect them while inking the sky background. I couldn't cut out masks for these very small images, so I protected them with clear embossing powder which resisted the Distress Ink Tumbled Glass which I applied with a mini ink blending tool and a cloud stencil to give the appearance of a clear blue sky. Before inking the sky, I added leaves from Altenew Leaf Canopy to develop the scene. These leaves were masked off before the sky was inked over.
Altenew Beautiful Details class discusses using different media to add shadows, light and depth to an image. To add some details and shading to the birds and the leaves, I used Faber Castell Polychromos colored pencils over the stamped ink. Using the colored pencils allows for added depth and interest to the images.
Bloom and Bud
This panel was the other 5"x5" panel cut from Neenah Solar White 80lb cardstock. The image in the Altenew Bloom and Bud stamp set is very large and I had to figure out the coloring so it matched with the other panels as well as the spacing so both images would look like they belong together. I did not want to make the flower blue because I had already done that, so I decided on pulling out the Hero Arts Rust ink and making that a connecting theme between the panels. I practiced the layering of this flower which was very tricky since it has four layers. I ended up using: Distress Ink in Dried Marigold, Catherine Pooler Tiara, Distress Ink in Carved Pumpkin and Hero Arts Rust. The leaves were stamped in Hero Arts Feather, Hero Arts Field Greens and Distress Ink Forest Moss.
After stamping the floral images, I masked them with masking paper to stamp four leaves. I then masked the flowers and leaves to apply Hero Arts Robin's Egg blue with a mini ink blending tool. Using Altenew Dodec cover die, I cut out a piece of paper that I used as a stencil. I secured the stencil over the image and carefully blended the ink so I would not rip the paper. The blending ties these images with the other two panels since all the same colors are used and the two floral images on this panel are connected through the background. This panel turned out to be my favorite.
This panel was a 5"x7" panel of Strathmore Watercolor Paper and needed a tall image. The Altenew Dainty Bouquet stamp set comes with two large floral sprigs. I decided on this image because the greenery is a bit taller. I first practiced with the layering to determine colors and how the layers went together. I noticed at once that the base layer of the stamp contained both the floral and green. I wanted the flower and greenery colors to be separate. I decided on partial masking. I used the dies to cut out a mask and I snipped off the large flower and two buds. I placed them upside down on the stamp and then placed my paper down so the flower and bud masks were in the exact space they needed to be. I then stamped all the greenery layers. The greenery was stamped in: Hero Arts Feather, Hero Arts Field Greens and Distress Ink Forest Moss. I removed the flower masks, added masks over the greenery and then stamped the flowers. The flowers were stamped in: Distress Ink Dried Marigold, Distress Ink Carved Pumpkin and Catherine Pooler Tiara and the final layer was Hero Arts Rust.
After stamping the image, I placed it back into the stamp positioner which held the base layer stamp still in the same position. I then stamped the image with VersaMark ink and then added Hero Arts clear embossing powder. I wanted to do an ombre wash with watercolor but needed to protect the image. If I had masked the image with masking paper, the water could have seeped under the mask. Using a technique from Altenew Academy Impressive Heat Embossing, I clear embossed the image. I then used a 3/4" flat brush to add clear water to the panel. I then used the Altenew WaterColor Brush in Dusk from the Spring Garden set to add color to the bottom of the panel. I then drew the color from the bottom to the top adding water as necessary to lighten the color. The effect is a pretty washed background that allows the image to pop and ties the panel in with the rest of the project. This panel looks the most like an original floral watercolor.
The final part of this challenge was to create a card or tag. I don’t make tags that often so I decided to make a tag. First I had to figure out what sizes tags come in and I cut a piece of Strathmore watercolor paper to a #6 tag size (3 1/8" x 6 1/4”)and punched a hole at the top. I then had to decide on colors, technique and layout. I wanted the tag to work with the other panels so I used a similar color scheme. On all the panels I did some sort of resist technique so I decided to do that too. The only other technique I didn’t showcase during this project was no line coloring on vellum, so I decided to use this technique on the tag.
First I stamped a sentiment from Altenew Precious Moments Stamp set onto the bottom of the tag using Hero Arts Charcoal Ink and then clear embossed over it. Using the Altenew Spring Garden Watercolor Brush Markers in Dusk, Moss and Autumn Blaze, I did a very light watercolor wash. I then reused the Dodec stencil I made for the Bloom and Bud panel to set up an emboss resist. I taped down the stencil, added Versamark ink all over and added Hero Arts clear embossing powder. I then used Dusk, Moss and Autumn Blaze Watercolor Markers again to add a deeper color wash over the tag. Anywhere the embossing powder is will resist the darker ink and only the first light wash will show through. This allowed for a neat ombré effect and a subtle contrast versus just having the dark wash against white.
To finish the tag, I die cut out a large flower from the Altenew Wonderland set in vellum after clear embossing it. I then used copics to color the image. After the copics dried, I used Faber Castell polychromos colored pencils on the image to add more depth. Because of the clear embossing, it’s hard to see the lines to determine shadows so I used the stamp package with the image outline. I placed my vellum piece over the packaging and traced the lines. The sentiment is from Altenew Adore You Stamp set which was stamped with Hero Arts charcoal ink and then clear heat embossed. After the sentiment strip was attached, I placed the flower and added a few glue dots to secure. Adding some ribbon from my stash completed the look.
Final Project and reflection
I have enjoyed every single one of the 20 Altenew Academy classes that I have taken so far. Each class has been jam packed with tips and ideas that have been very inspiring. The techniques I learned in the classes have become internalized that I had a difficult time distinguishing which technique came from which class. Throughout this process, I have really stretched what I can do and have pushed myself to try different things. I am proud of the panels I made for this project and will continue to enjoy them as wall art probably more than if I had purchased some book plates or reprints of floral nature prints. Thank you for coming on this journey with me. If you have any questions about the techniques I used today or the Altenew Academy classes, please let me know in the comments below. Have a crafty day and I hope you stretch your supplies and use them in a different way today.
Here is a list of the supplies I used. These are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through these links, I may get a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support and happy crafting!
Welcome to Seven's Crafts and thank you for stopping by. I am a mom, teacher and avid paper crafter. I hope these posts will leave you feeling inspired and ready to do some crafting.