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.
This month, I was asked to write about my favourite artist and how their style inspires/influences my work. Surely this should be quite easy, except the more I thought about it, the more I realised I don’t have a favourite ‘artist’ or even any one particular style I like more than another.
I see art in so many different things, made by many
different creative people who may be makers, designers or artists, but may also
be architects, engineers or builders. In fact I’m often more impressed by a dry
stone wall, a knotted rope or a window display than by traditional art.
However, more often than not, the things that truly amaze
and intrigue me, the things that make me stop and think are the things created
by Nature. These are the things I feel the need to surround myself with, the
things that make me smile and the things that feed my imagination.
I love all things magical and whimsical, and who does magic
and whimsy better than Nature? Twisted tree roots and holes in tree trunks;
magical waterfalls and still pools of water; mysterious caves that can only be
reached by sea…
Texture, pattern and colour
I love textures and who does texture better than nature? Velvety
soft catkins; smooth, rounded pebbles; jagged, grooved tree barks…
I love patterns and who does patterns better than nature? The
symmetry of snowflakes; the perfect spirals of shells; honeycomb made by bees,
the scales on a snake…
I love colours and who does colour better than nature? The bright,
fun colours of flowers; the warm fiery colours of autumn; the endless hues,
shades and tones of green, the magic of a rainbow…
I love smells and nature does some of the best smells (although
it does some of the worst too). The smell of rain after a long dry spell; the
smell of wild garlic in the woods; the wonderful fresh smell of honeysuckle…
So, after a great deal of thought, I have to admit that my
favourite artist is simply Nature.
Nature feeds my imagination. It makes me think of secret,
hidden worlds with mysterious creatures and strange plants. These magical,
secret worlds are where my creations come from and I hope this is where they
will take people.
When I received the Buddha themed goodies from the Hochanda shows, my mind was immediately drawn to the temple of Ta Prohm in Cambodia where trees grow through the ruins. Although I have never been lucky enough to visit, it is a place that has always intrigued me and sparked my imagination. So it is from there that I drew my inspiration this month for my Stone Art Temple.
First, I used Easy Structure paste through a stencil from my stash. Create some swirly patterns on the front and sides of the box frame and on the base piece where the recess would be.
I then used ivory Powertex to attach some of the MDF shapes around the edge of the base piece and to construct the middle square. You can also see that I drew around the outer square with pencil to provide a guide when applying the stone art.
Stone effects were created by coating the surfaces with a layer of ivory Powertex and firmly pressing the stone art onto it, before gently rubbing off the excess. I applied the stone art lightly over the stenciled pieces and more thickly on the base. I then used ivory Powertex to fix all of the pieces together.
I painted the plaster Buddha statue with black Powertex, let it dry and then painted it using rich gold Colortricx powder mixed with Easy Varnish. I secured the statue into the recess using ivory Powertex and surrounded it with large, medium and small 3D balls mixed with ivory Powertex.
The whole piece was sprayed with black and green Bister sprays.
I mixed ivory and black Powertex together with some green Powercolor pigment to create a grey/green medium. I used this to coat some pieces of natural paper decoration and gently stretched them to create stringy tree roots across the box.
The final step was to dry brush the whole piece using ivory Powertex to really enhance all the ‘stone’ textures. I also added a few blush tones using red and white Powercolor pigments mixed with Easy Varnish.
If you treated yourself to any of the new products showcased on Hochanda in September, we’d love to see what you created. Please share your pictures in The Powertex Studio facebook group.
This month we were given the challenge of recreating a project created by one of our fellow Design Team members. When I heard this, I knew exactly which project I wanted to try… Shell North’s fabulous Taurus Headdress from earlier this year. I loved every second of making my version, this horned headpiece.
Her step by step instructions were easy to follow and allowed me to put my own twist on the project. I sculpted curly horns rather than straight. Rather than adding silk flowers at the end I used flowers coated with bronze Powertex universal medium. I coloured them with powertex pigments.
It took me a couple of days to decide on the right colour
for this piece. I was very tempted to go for rainbow horns but in the end went
for something a bit more simple and I hope, sophisticated. Bronze gold over the
horns and a mix of reds, oranges and yellows for the flowers.
If you’ve been thinking of trying one of the projects you’ve seen in the Powertex magazine then go for it. There are so many step by step articles that will guide you through lots of different projects. You are sure to find something to suit your style. Please do share your creations in our Powertex Studio facebook group.
If you’d like to see the inspiration for my horned headpiece, revisit Shell’s original article for her fabulous Taurus Headdress.
Every now and then I have to grudgingly accept that a brush has gone past it’s usable life as a brush. The clue is usually when only the top 2mm of the bristles bend! However, I hate to throw things away, so I have almost three years worth of dud brushes hoarded away, awaiting a purpose. Well, that purpose has finally arrived and here is Leo the Lion to give a few of them a new life.
Leo the Lion
One of my favourite animals has to be the beautiful and majestic lion. Not really very surprising as my star sign is Leo. So when I was asked to create an animal sculpture using recycled materials, it just had to be a lion using my dud brushes.
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.