Lots of inky fun in making this one, Distress Inks, Perfect Pearls, Distress Stains galore, and gorgeous stamps from several different Artistic Stamper plates, with the main focus on the glorious Gibson Girls. (All the ingredients are at the foot of the post, with links to take you straight to them.)
Despite all the fun, the project has ended up having a slightly melancholy, or at least contemplative, "story" to it, which wasn't where I'd planned for it to go at all. But these creations sometimes have a mind of their own it seems.
I've always loved Charles Dana Gibson's drawings of turn of the century American girls, it wasn't until I was stamping and looking in detail at these particular images that I realised that, for me, they also have a definite sadness within them.
I started with the fabulous Vintage Valise die from Tim Holtz, cutting the main body of the suitcase from the Kraft Resist sheet of the world map. I daubed Distress Stains in various blues along with Picket Fence direct onto my craft map, and swept the kraft resist paper through it until I liked the look of it.
Using the Picket Fence means that the blues keep their colour integrity better than if you use them on kraft by themselves, which can make them look slightly greeny. The strappings were cut from Kraft-Core, sanded and inked, and I used tiny brads to attach the strap holders (which I used the other way up to get the plain kraft side, inked).
The luggage label comes from the AS Labels plate, and encourages journeys of all kinds: Seek, Question, Explore the outside world, and the inside one.
I wanted to be able to put things "inside" my suitcase, so - having done two virtually identical cases - I had to work out a way of creating a pocket, preferably one stable enough to allow the suitcase to stand up...
Let's hear it for ice lolly sticks (that's popsicles if you're here from across the water) - one of the most useful things to have in any craft stash! I used two (one cut in half) to form a framework inside the suitcase, glued with Glossy Accents, and left overnight to be sure of a good firm hold.
At this point, I was thinking that I would fill the case with tags depicting a young girl travelling the world, exploring, discovering and generally having a fantastic time. But, as I said, as I stamped the various images they started to tell me a very different story. And the voyage became less an actual journey, more a journey of exploration into the girl's inner self.
So there are two sides to each tag... the front, which just shows you the surface, the exterior, and then - when you turn over - the interior questions bubble to the surface, revealing what's going on behind the eyes. I honestly didn't go looking for any of these phrases; they arose as I was inking each tag - they seemed to come from the girl(s) themselves.
I started with luggage labels which had previously been stained with tea and coffee, which gives them a wonderful vintage feel straight away. Once the images were stamped, I blended Chipped Sapphire, Stormy Sky, Vintage Photo and Wild Honey Distress Inks onto the tags. I've been careful to leave at least the faces un-inked by extra colour, so that they stand out at the centre of each tag.
I spritzed and flicked with water after inking, and then finally added some gilding by spritzing Perfect Pearls Mist in Heirloom Gold onto the mat and splodging the tags onto it - again avoiding the faces, so that you'd be able to "read" what's going on inside.
So there's the woman reading her letter... I stamped her in Coffee Archival both on the tag and on a separate piece of paper so that I could cut a mask. And then I stamped the Calligraphy Mat around her, using Cobalt, to represent the letter she's reading.
But in the angle of her head and the weight of her shoulders it's clear that for her it's not so clear cut, and so on the opposite side the question reveals itself as she reads his declarations of love. It's lurking in the corner, in the depths of her mind: Yes, but do I love him?
The woman with the book - to me it seems like a musical score; she's holding it at exactly the angle to read or sing from as a performer - has a look as though she's hearing something, but is not sure what. On the reverse, we see that this is not the first time: Sometimes I wonder... Does no-one hear the same music I hear?
The girl with the glorious hair piled high has a look which you could mistake for arrogance or disdain, but when you look again, there's a pain and a defensiveness somewhere at the heart of it... the chin just a little too lifted, the eyelids just a little too hooded, hidden.
She shares her secrets with us on the reverse, surrounded by flower images from Botanical Plate #1: My beauty is not all there is to me.
The utter dejection and exhaustion is easy to read in the girl resting her head on her hands. She's probably the one who started me off looking more closely at the others. Again I cut a mask so that I could stamp the Europe Map Background around her.
I positioned it so that you actually get a slightly removed masking effect - the thoughts hover a little way away from the main image of the thinker. Her question is clear... in all the travelling, in all the bustle of society events, where does she belong, how does she fit in: Where is my home?
And finally the wonderful image of the girl seated on the floor, her skirts pooled around her, in a moment's respite from the social whirl of arrival at a new hotel, dining, dancing. The lovely vintage hotel stamp is again from the Labels plate.
There's such yearning in the angle of her body, leaning forward, listening intently as though to catch the meaning of life, the universe and everything, on the brink of discovery: Sometimes I can almost understand why.
For the tag trimmings I used Chipped Sapphire and Stormy Sky Distress Stains to tint lots of seam binding, and Vintage Photo and Antique Linen to alter the slightly pinkish tones of some lace from my stash. I knew these would all be peeking out of the top of the case, so they needed to tone with the suitcase colours too.
Wow... a longer post than ever - sorry!! I'll have to come up with something very simple for my final project later in the month... two photos max! Thank you so much for taking the time if you've made it this far, and I hope you've enjoyed the journey.
Words and Pictures
Ingredients: Gibson Girls Plate #1; Calligraphic Mat #19; Europe Map Background; Music Background; Botanical Plate #1; Labels; Vintage Valise die; Kraft Resist Paper Stash; Kraft-Core; Distress Inks: Chipped Sapphire, Stormy Sky, Vintage Photo, Wild Honey; Distress Stains: Antique Linen, Chipped Sapphire, Picket Fence, Stormy Sky, Vintage Photo; Archival Inks: Cobalt, Coffee; Perfect Pearls Mist: Heirloom Gold; Seam binding;