Free Mixed Media Magazine – showcasing the work of the Powertex UK design team.
Author: Abigail Lagden
Creator of Curiosities - Level 4 Certified Powertex Tutor - Powertex Design Team Member
Based just outside Bishop Auckland, County Durham, I run workshops for children and for grown ups. You will find me online as Curiously Contrary.
Feeling grey? One of the things that people often comment on when they see my creations, is the colours. Words such as rich, deep, bright and vibrant are common.
Therefore, they are often surprised to hear that almost all of them are made with either the bronze (brown) or the lead (grey) Powertex universal medium as the base colour.
Why Bronze & Lead for the Base Colour?
1. Final Colour Considerations
Bronze and lead are both neutral colours and therefore will look good when dry brushed using any of the powercolor pigments. In fact they are perfect for my signature rainbow colours created using Powercolor pigments!
If you start with a bold base colour such as red, blue, green, etc you have already limited what colours will work well on top and the final pieces can look a bit ‘flat’ and lacking in depth.
2. Depth vs Brightness
The thing I love most about fabric sculpting is the textures and depth that can be created. To create the illusion of greater depth, the colours within the folds of the fabric should be as dark compared to the top of the folds.
Therefore black and bronze Powertex will give you the appearance of greater depth. My preference is bronze as I like the warmth that it creates.
To achieve a slightly lighter/brighter feel I use the lead Powertex. Whilst it loses just a little of the depth that bronze creates, the lighter base colour lifts the overall brightness of the piece.
Here are a few more of my creations to demonstrate the colours that can be achieved using black, bronze and grey Powertex with powercolor pigments :
See more uses of bronze and lead Powertex in my previous articles. I used Bronze Powertex for my Steampunk Top Hat and lead Powertex for my Storage Caddy.
What are you favourite colour combinations? Let us know in the comments.
Many of my creations are available to purchase and I also make customised pieces and take commissions. If you’d like to see where in the north east of England I’ll be with my creations over the summer, pop across to my Curiously Contrary website or facebook page.
Until next time, Abs xx
(Please note that the images I have shared in this article are of my own designs and are there to illustrate my points around colour. Please respect the time and creativity that goes into generating original designs by not recreating these pieces for sale or for other commercial purposes. If my designs inspire you to create something similar, that is fantastic, and if you are sharing them online, it would be lovely if you would acknowledge my designs (and the Powertex Magazine) as your source of inspiration.)
There is nothing better than getting a surprise parcel is the post – especially when it is full of Powertex goodies. So I was super excited to receive and have the chance to play with June’s Secret Art Box. The box didn’t disappoint as you can see from my Powertex steampunk flying machine!
This month’s theme is steampunk and as many of you will know, I am a regular at the Whitby Steampunk Weekends, so this was the perfect kit for me.
The first thing that struck me was just how much was in the kit, here are the contents in and out of the box. If you have been getting these each month, you will be building up a pretty good stash of products, embellishments and reusables like the moulds and stamp.
In case this is your first box or even your first foray into Powertex, I wanted to create a project that could be completed with very little extras than the contents of the box. So here is my Powertex Steampunk Flying Machine.
To turn the flat MDF balloon into something three dimensional, scrunch up pieces of tin foil to form the sides of a rough balloon shape. Cover the foil shapes in masking tape to give a better surface for the Powertex to adhere to and cut a piece of textured wallpaper to fit in the gap in the middle of the foil.
Paint the front of the MDF balloon shape with yellow Powertex. Use the yellow Powertex to stick the wallpaper and MDF wings in place and then paint the top surfaces. Attach and paint the foil shapes and the cogs using yellow Powertex.
Coat the zip with Powertex and position in the middle of the balloon with the sides of the zip sitting on the foil shapes on either side. Then use strips of cotton fabric coated in Powertex to cover the foil shapes and create some ruffled texture.
Also cut the grey cord into pieces, coat with powertex and lay onto the basket element of the balloon. Mould a switch using one of the switch moulds and affix to basket. (I used some stone art clay I had laying about, but you can use any air drying clay).
Spray the whole piece with Mahogany Bister spray.
Once the bister has had a chance to dry a little, use a damp sponge to clean some of it back off the upper surfaces of the fabric.
Time to add highlights and pigments. Use a little bit of the yellow Powertex to dry brush over the fabric to add highlights. Use the Black Magic and Silver pigments mixed with the easy varnish to colour the cogs and the teeth of the zip.
The last thing is to attach the basket to the balloon of my flying machine using some jute string.
A little extra Powertex steampunk bonus…
As I had so much left from the kit, I couldn’t help having a little play with some of the other bits and created this little piece.
Here I used some Stone Art to make a clay with the yellow Powertex and pressed this onto an MDF heart template. I used the clock stamp and one of the small wooden angel wings to impress designs into the clay.
I added parts of the large MDF clockfaces, the rest of the cogs and a stone art clay switch using the yellow Powertex before spraying it all with the mahogany bister. Once dry I cleaned back the bister and highlighted with copper, bronze gold, rich gold and silver colortricx pigments.
And I’ve still got all this left, along with around three quarters of the Powertex, Bister and Easy varnish, plus loads of the two pigments! What shall I create next?
I hope you’ve enjoyed my projects and hopefully been inspired to get creating yourself. If you’ve got this month’s Secret Art Box, have fun. We’d love to see what you’ve created with it – please come and share your work in the Powertex Studio Facebook group.
If you’d like a surprise package full of Powertex goodies, check out the subscription options for The Secret Art Box here.
Whenever I think of the open sea and what might be underneath, it always conjures up stories of pirates, shipwrecks and treasure. So for this month’s article I wanted to share a project to create a Pirate’s Powertex Treasure Chest, bursting with gold, coins and jewels. To give it a personal touch and a bit of bling, I used ‘jewels’ rescued from some broken jewellery which I think gives it some extra sparkle.
Small wooden box
Fabrics, die cut shapes, 1p coins, abalone shell pieces and jewels
Step 1: Paint the wooden box all over with bronze Powertex. Add some details using die cut shapes and metal embellishments and some straps using fabric.
Step 2: Before adding the contents, scrunch up a piece tin foil to use to fill about two thirds of the chest. Covered with a piece of fabric coated in bronze Powertex. Add a piece of netting over the corner of the box.
Top tip: Work on a plastic surface. Powertex will not stick to plastic, I worked on a piece of laminated paper so that I could peel the finished piece off to add it cleanly to the base.
Step 3: I filled my treasure chest by coating 1p coins and medium 3D balls with bronze Powertex and placing them over the fabric. Fragments of abalone shell were added for magical iridescence.
Step 4: Dry brush chest with bronze gold colortricx pigment. Rich gold colortricx pigment to colour the contents. To give some iridescence, I also added touches of the following pearl pigments to the contents – violet valentine, green ginger, sherbet dip and pink flamingo.
Step 5: Once all of the pigments had been applied, I then used transparent Powertex to stick the ‘jewels’ into the chest.
Step 6: Create an interesting base by coating a wooden disc with a good layer of ivory Powertex. Sprinkle on some small 3D balls and whilst wet, spray with blue bister. Use a hairdryer over the top to create a cracked effect.
The last thing to do was to affix the treasure chest the base using transparent universal medium.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my article and have been inspired to get creating a Pirate’s Powertex Treasure Chest. Don’t forget to share your makes with us all in the Powertex Studio Facebook group.
To celebrate the clocks going forward, and the lengthening days, I wanted to create something bright and colourful. So this summer bright powertex canvas uses the gorgeous Secret Art Loft acrylic paints to add some fabulous colour and also incorporates some clock elements.
However, when I
came to design and create my project I was half way through the Open Studio
event and the vast majority of my art materials were at the event location and
not at home where I needed them. So, this project was also a lesson in making
the best of what you have available.
People are often
surprised to see the journey that my pieces take and how much they can change
from start to finish, and this project is no exception. Who’d have thought it
started out black?
Top tip: As most of my students will know, I really don’t like flat surfaces in my work, so my first thought was to stencil some texture onto the canvas as a base. However, my easy structure paste was at my open studio so I needed to improvise. Rather than turn to wallpaper, I raided my stash of die cut card shapes instead…
How the canvas was created
Paint the canvas with black Powertex, position the die cut shapes onto the canvas and paint over with the black Powertex.
Add the wooden numbers and MDF shapes and paint over with black Powertex
Mix Easy 3D Flex with white Powertex to make a thick paste and apply thickly to the corners and more thinly across other areas. Leave to crack.
To give the project a good base for the acrylic paints, paint the black areas with the white Powertex and allow to dry.
Add the Secret Art Loft acrylic paints using a sponge. Build up the colours, layering them to get a blended effect.
Dry the acrylic paint before gently dry brushing highlights using white Powertex to make all the textures pop.
To help the
numbers stand out a little more, I gave them a little coat of colortricx rich
gold pigment mixed with easy varnish.
I hope this summer bright powertex canvas has brought some colour to your day. Don’t forget to share your makes with us all in the Powertex Studio Facebook group.
It’s lovely to start seeing the signs of spring outside, so this month I have been inspired to share a nice pretty piece inspired by flowers, with a touch of belated Valentine’s romance. So you will know how to make your own pretty Powertex hanging heart.
It is a nice a simple project, using basic techniques, that I hope anyone will feel they can attempt.
I started by mixing the different coloured Powertex together.
I wanted a pale purple so I mixed the red and blue together first and then
slowly added some white to lighten it. You can achieve almost any colour by
mixing the different colours – just make sure you mix enough for your project
as it can be difficult to get the exact same colour twice. You can also store
any leftovers in an airtight container to use on another project. Also remember
that it will always dry a shade or two darker than it appears when wet.
I then drew around the heart onto some wallpaper embossed
with leaves and cut it out. I used my purple Powertex like a glue to attach the
cut out wallpaper heart to the MDF heart, before painting it over the front of
I coated some pieces of cotton lace with the purple Powertex
and added them to the heart. I always recommend cutting the lace longer than
you need as it has a habit of shrinking when it gets coated. The ends can then
be trimmed off with scissors.
I coated a piece of t-shirt fabric and some ruffled lace and arranged them down one side of the heart before coating and arranging various metal filigree embellishments down the other side. Finally I added metal leaves and three mulberry paper flowers onto the fabric, all coated with my purple Powertex.
This little project didn’t use very much purple Powertex at all, maybe just 50ml total. So I have plenty left over and another perfect project in mind already.
The heart was left to dry before dry brushing with lilac, orange, yellow and white powercolor pigments mixed with varnish. Once coloured I finished it off with a piece of lilac ribbon through the holes to hang it from.
I hope you have enjoyed this simple little project and that it may just inspire you to crack open your bottle of Powertex. We’d love to see what you create so please do share your makes in our Powertex Studio facebook group.
Powertex Medium Art doll – Goddess of Mystery – by Abigail Lagden
Hello and welcome to my latest project! For this one I have used the Powertex medium Art Doll kit with the contents shown below.
I love working with the project kits from Powertex UK. They provide the perfect level of structure to work with and stimulate ideas. But also have the flexibility to put your own style into them. By how you construct them, which other products and embellishments you use and finally how you add colour to them.
As usual, I started by playing with the MDF kit pieces and arranging them in different ways. The picture below shows my initial guide design. As you can see it evolved and changed a fair bit as the project progressed. This always happens to some degree with my creations. So don’t worry that you have to stick rigidly to your first design. It helps to have an idea of where you are going at the start. I find the best results happen when you just go with the creative flow once you start building your piece.
As well as the Medium MDF Art Doll Kit, I used the following for this project:
First I used Easy Structure through the ‘arty quotes’ stencil to add the words ‘mystery’ and ‘wonder’ to the wings. The thing I love about this stencil is that not only do you have the lovely quotes in their entirety. But you can also just use specific words or phrases from within the quotes. To keep the stencilling clean for single words, I use masking tape to cover the words. Placing around the ones that I want to use before using Easy Structure paste through it.
First, I covered the base of the shadow box with the Easy 3D Flex paste. Before using yellow Powertex to attach and paint the sides of the box. I applied the sand and balls paste to the ‘crown’ pieces and pushed them into the 3D flex paste. Then I painted the plaster face with yellow Powertex. Pushed it into the 3D flex paste and sprinkled a few small balls into the box.
Next, I worked on the back piece of MDF. Randomly adding areas of the three different pastes I mixed earlier. Creating lots of textures and submerging the MDF row of hooks at the bottom. Then I sprinkled some medium 3D balls onto a few areas followed by some small balls to fill the gaps. Whilst the background piece was still wet, I attached the box frame and the other MDF shape into the pastes.
I smeared a little left over 3D Flex paste onto the princess’ face and onto parts of the crown piece.
The top piece of the shadow box was painted just with yellow Powertex. The wings were covered with the sand and balls paste.
All of the pieces were then left to dry and/or crack before they were sprayed with brown bister.
This was dried and then the bister cleaned back using a damp sponge. Leaving the stronger colour in the depressions, giving more depth to the textures and lightening the uppermost parts.
Now for the fun part… adding a little bit of extra colour to bring the piece to life. I wanted this piece to have quite an earthy, rustic, natural quality. I used different blends of light blue, moss green, yellow ochre, lilac and white powercolor pigments. Mixed with easy varnish and applied using a dry brush technique.
The final step was to secure the wings to the front of the frame with powertex. Then the front of the frame to the main piece. I also hung a little metal key charm through the hole at the bottom of the frame.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how I made this piece. Please do share your own creations on the Powertex Studio facebook page. Where you will find lots of inspiration as well as support from our fabulous Powertexing community.
You can also see more of my work on my Curiously Contrary facebook page and on my website. If you didn’t catch my blog last month take a look here.
Well, Happy New Year and I hope you had a lovely Christmas.
For my first blog of 2019 I thought I would take a festive left over and re-purpose it into something fun and funky for the new year.
So for this project, I started with an MDF bauble shape, some red Powertex, Stone Art, macrame cord and some texture mats.
I began by mixing some stone art clay using the red Powertex and the Stone Art. When mixing small amounts of stone art clay I pour a little Powertex into a yogurt pot, then using an old paintbrush handle, I gradually mix in small handfuls of stone art. I keep adding stone art until the mixture thickens up and starts to pull away quite cleanly from the sides of the pot rather like a dough. It can then be turned out and a little more stone art worked in by hand to get a consistency a little like polymer clay.
Once the clay was the right consistency, I rolled it out using an acrylic rolling pin to a thickness of approximately 3mm and a little larger than the size of the bauble. Then I positioned one of the texture mats on top and rolled the rolling pin over the top to impress the pattern into the clay.
Next I placed the bauble on top of the impressed clay and carefully cut around the edge using a craft knife to make a perfect circle of clay.
I have recently acquired some macrame cord and love the simple texture of it when rolled into a coil, so I wanted to incorporate this into my project. To make it sit within the clay I needed to cut a circle out of it, so I used the lid of a fabric conditioner bottle like a pastry cutter to remove a circle of the clay.
To attach the clay, I painted the bauble with Powertex before placing the clay on top.
Macrame cord was then coated in red Powertex and coiled to fit in the circular hole and also to create a border around the edge. The piece was then left to dry overnight.
Once dry, I sprayed brown bister over the clay to enhance the impressed texture and once this was dry I gently used a damp sponge to remove the bister from the uppermost surfaces and reveal the red colour again.
The last step was to add a piece of ribbon through the hanging hole to make this piece into a beautiful wearable pendant.
I hope you have enjoyed this project and you have been inspired to get creative this year. Please do share your makes with us through the Powertex Studio facebook group and let others know about the Powertex blog and the fabulous inspiration you can find here.
As a Powertex Tutor, I am lucky to run a number of my workshops in a gorgeous little home & gift shop in Sedgefield, County Durham called From Loft to Loved. The shop is owned and run by Sarah and Kim, two lovely ladies who share my passion for recycling, upcycling and repurposing and this is reflected in their creative work and the ethos of the shop.
So, when they asked if I would create a bauble for their tree as part of the annual Sedgefield Christmas Tree Festival, I was only too happy to oblige (not that I need much encouragement to get creating). The overall theme for this year’s festival is ‘A Carol for Christmas’ and so the girls decided to go with the less traditional (but so much more fun) idea of ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’.
As soon as they said this, I knew what I had to make. Whenever I think of this film I always think of The Great Gonzo as Charles Dickens, so that is what my bauble was inspired by.
I started with a polystyrene egg, some cardboard, bronze Stone Art clay and some dishcloth and muslin.
First I cut a wedge out of one end of the polystyrene egg for the mouth. I then sculpted his nose using tin foil and secured it in place using masking tape.
Next I covered the whole thing with a layer of Stone Art clay, made using bronze Powertex mixed with Stone Art. (I would have used blue Powertex but I had quite a bit of bronze clay left over from something I was making back in the summer).
I made two eyeballs from white air drying paper clay and attached them using a little Powertex before adding eyelids made from stone art clay.
Little pieces of dishcloth were then coated with bronze Powertex and added to the top and sides of the head for his fur.
Now for the hat..
This was constructed using cardboard – a ring for the brim of the hat, a strip of card for the sides and a circle to fill in the top. This was painted using bronze Powertex and then covered using Powertex coated muslin. Some t-shirt yarn was used for the band.
The hat was then attached to ‘Gonzo’s’ head using Powertex and the piece was left to dry for a couple of days.
Now to bring him to life with colour…
I used ultramarine blue, red and white Powercolor pigments for the head and orange and bronze gold for the hat. The eyes were finished off using a black permanent marker to draw the pupils.
My Gonzo inspired bauble will be appearing on From Loft to Loved’s Christmas Tree as part of the Christmas Tree Festival in St Edmund’s Church, Sedgefield from Saturday 1st – Thursday 6th December. Here is a sneaky peek at him on setting up day.
Hopefully ‘Gonzo’ will make a few people smile while he is there. Then after the 6th he will move into the From Loft to Loved shop just around the corner to bring more Christmas cheer from their Christmas tree.
Don’t forget to make all of us smile and get us in the festive mood by sharing your own makes in The Powertex Studio facebook group.
If you’d like to see what else I’m getting up to over the festive season, you can check out my Curiously Contrary facebook page and my website.
Remember, Remember, the 5th of November. Gunpowder, Treason and Plot!
I love this time of year as the autumn moves towards cosy winter nights. Halloween has passed and bonfire night awaits before the count down to Christmas. And a cup of hot soup in front of a big bonfire takes me straight back to my childhood and my childhood bonfire nights wouldn’t be complete without a Catherine Wheel – the inspiration for this project.
I started with a 20cm square canvas and painted it with black Powertex. I then used Easy Structure to stencil a swirl design onto the canvas and once dry painted over this with black Powertex.
Although very little of this pattern would be visible on the final pieces it also provided me with a basic shape to follow when adding the paperdecoration.
First I used small pieces of white paperdecoration which I laid slightly randomly but following the swirl pattern and painted over it with black Powertex. (You could use any colour paperdecoration for this part as it is completely covered with the black)
I tore off long thin pieces of paperdecoration and fanned it out towards the end. I laid these onto the canvas following the swirl pattern and painted over them with a good coating of transparent Powertex. Although this goes on a milky white, it dries clear allowing the original colours of the paper dec to show through.
Once I had added enough paperdecoration I left it to dry overnight.
The final part was to add some gold and copper tones to give it the warmth of fire. I did this by mixing colortricx pigments (copper, bronze gold and rich gold) with Powerwax and applying it over the tops of the texture with a sponge.
I am still undecided if I need to add anything into the centre. I am keeping my eyes open for a nice bit of fiery bling…
One of the things that drew me to Powertex was the amazing textures and depth that can be created. I now look at everything for its texture potential and powertexability. So this month I thought I would share with you just a few of my favourite textures that I have encountered over the years that I’ve been creating with Powertex.
I have to start with t-shirt yarn. Made from the off cuts from the textile industry, not only is it a great use of otherwise waste material, it was t-shirt yarn that first led me to Powertex. Originally, I was using it to crochet chunky bags and doorstops and wanted to make a plant pot that could go outside… so on the hunt to find something that would harden it and make it weather resistant, I discovered Powertex. (and then I discovered all the other amazing stuff you could do with Powertex, and the rest is history!!)
If you’ve seen my previous work and blogs, or been on one of my workshops then you will have seen wallpaper crop up here and there. Perfect for creating background textures quickly and easily, it is also available in such a huge range of patterns to suit any style or project. This is definitely one of my go-to’s.
I used a tree bark effect paper on the roof of my fairy house.
Stockinette Polishing Cloth
I am told this stripy cloth is for polishing cars, but it is even better Powertexed. Whilst the colours get lost under the darker Powertex, each stripe is actually a different knitted stitch and so the stripes are still visible as texture. I have used it for the cloak on this little hare.
My ‘hideous fabric’
I have always jokingly called this fabric my ‘hideous fabric’. I really don’t like flesh coloured fabrics and the elasticated embroidered pattern on this would make it a nightmare to try and make anything from. But the texture created by the stitching is absolutely gorgeous.
I found it reduced in a fabric department (probably because no-one normal would want it) and I bought all that they had left. Sadly I haven’ t been able to find anything even similar since and I am reaching the last of my stash!
This time of year is great for finding interesting spooky decorations that can be incorporated into projects. My favourite discovery this year is this fabulous netting from Wilkos (thank you fellow tutor Lin Shields for sharing her find with the rest of us). Looks great on this bottle wrap created by Lesley in my workshop the other day.
Made from jute, this florists fabric creates beautiful effects, particularly as an interesting background texture. I love the irregularity of it.
Well, that’s enough from me, now get out there texture hunting…