My Favourite Artist? …Nature!

Designer: Abigail Lagden

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…

Hardraw Force, nr Hawes

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.

See my creations in the Magazine, or come and join me in my Curiously Contrary world of creativity.

Until next time,

Abs xx

Stone Art Temple

Designed by – Abigail Lagden

Powertex Stone Art Temple by Abigail Lagden
Powertex Stone Art Temple by Abigail Lagden

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.

Materials

How to Create a Stone Art Temple

Step 1

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.

Powertex Easy Structure through a swirl stencil
Step 1

Step 2

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.

Mdf frame and pieces, build the temple
Step 2

Step 3

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.

Apply Stone Art to the Powertex
Step 3

Step 4

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.

Paint the plaster Buddha with Black Powertex and Gold Colortricx
Step 4

Step 5

The whole piece was sprayed with black and green Bister sprays.

Spray with Bister sprays in Black and Green
Step 5

Step 6

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.

Paperdecoration
Step 6

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.

Powertex stone art temple close up
Finishing touches
Powertex temple by Abigail Lagden

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.

If you’d like to see more of what I am up to you can follow my Curiously Contrary Facebook page. If you’d like to find out about workshops that I am running please visit my website www.curiously-contrary.co.uk

You can also see another project of mine, the mixed media hanging heart tutorial here on the magazine.

Until next time, Abs xx

Horned Headpiece using Powertex

Designer: Abigail Lagden

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.

Sculpting wearable art, horns sculpted. By Abigail Lagden
Horns sculpted from foil
Creating a wearable art By Abigail Lagden
Horns attached to base headband
Powertex fabric sculpture By Abigail Lagden
Wrapped with Powertex coated fabric
Powertex flowers added. By Abigail Lagden
Flowers added

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.

Powertex horned headpiece wearable art by Abigail Lagden
Horned Headpiece by Abigail Lagden

Keep an eye on my Curiously Contrary facebook page to see where they turn up – I can’t wait to show them off.

Horned Headpiece by Abigail Lagden

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.

If you’d like to see more information about my upcoming workshops, please visit my Curiously Contrary website.

Until next time

Abs xx

Leo the Powertex Lion

Designer – Abigail Lagden

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.

Leo the Powertex lion by Abigail Lagden.
Leo the Powertex Lion by Abigail Lagden

Materials List

Step by Step Guide

Remove the brush heads

Firstly, I removed the brush heads from the 14 old brushes (tip: soaking in boiling water will help loosen the adhesive).

Removing the brush heads
Step 1

Arrange the brush heads

The brush heads were then arranged in a sunburst to created the outline of the lion’s mane.

Create the mane with brush heads
Step 2

Stone Art clay

I mixed stone art with bronze Powertex universal medium to form a clay and used this to hold the brush head arrangement together.

Use Powertex Stone Art clay to hold the brush heads together.
Step 3

Sculpt the face

I then built up the central area using some tin foil before sculpting the face of my lion over the top with the bronze stone art clay.

Sculpt the face
Step 4

Create the mane

To create the lion’s mane, I used pieces of powercotton soaked in bronze Powertex universal medium. For the whiskers I used some of the bristles from the brushes.

Add Powertex Powercotton mane
Step 5

Dry brushing

Finally, I applied copper, bronze gold and rich gold Colortricx pigments mixed with easy varnish.

Dry brush technique to paint metallic pigments onto the lion.
Step 6

I hope you have enjoyed seeing how I created my Leo and that you are inspired to get creating your own project. Please do share any of your makes with us over in the Powertex Studio Facebook group.

If you like astrology themed projects, why not visit Shell’s article about how she made her stunning taurus inspired headdress.

You can also see more of what I’ve been creating and information about my workshops on my website and my Curiously Contrary facebook page.

Until next time, Abs xx

Feeling Grey? It’s not a bad thing with Powertex.

Feeling grey? Using Lead grey Powertex Fabric hardener by Abigail Lagden

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!

Rainbox fairy house by Curiously Contrary
Rainbow fairy house with bronze base

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.

Fabric sculpted bottles by Curiously Contrary
The bottle on the left has green Powertex as the base colour, the middle bottle has black and the bottle on the right has a terracotta base. I think the middle bottle appears to have much more depth than the other two which look a little ‘flat’.

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.

Rainbow dragon treasure chest by Abigail Lagden
This dragon’s treasure chest uses a bronze base colour, creating lots of depth.

Feeling grey?

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.

Sea themed treasure chest by Curiously Contrary using Lead Grey Powertex Fabric Hardener
This sea-themed treasure chest has a lead base colour giving it a lighter, brighter feel.

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 :

Blue bird box by Curiously Contrary
Bird box created using lead Powertex with ultramarine blue and turquoise Powercolor pigments
Bird box created using bronze Powertex and a rainbow of Powercolor pigments
Feeling grey? Using Lead grey Powertex Fabric Hardener by Abigail Lagden
Business card holder created for ‘The Ugly Duckling’ using lead Powertex with lilac and ultramarine blue Powercolor pigments
Custom made business card holder made using black Powertex with red and burgundy 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.

Curiously Contrary

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.)

Pirate’s Powertex Treasure Chest

Designer: Abigail Lagden

Treasure Chest by Abigail Lagden

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.

Materials Used:

How to create a Pirate’s Powertex Treasure Chest

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.

Treasure Chest by Abigail Lagden

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.

Treasure Chest by Abigail Lagden

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.

Treasure Chest by Abigail Lagden

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.

Pirate Treasure Chest by Abigail Lagden

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.

If you’d like to see more of my creations, please visit my website or my Curiously Contrary facebook page.

If you missed my last article on how to make a bright canvas full of textures, you can find it here.

Until next time, Abs xx

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November…

 

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)
Once this was dry, I mixed rich gold colortricx pigment with Powerwax and gently applied it over the raised parts with a sponge.
To add some extra depth and texture to the corners of the canvas, I mixed some red Powertex with Easy 3D Flex to make a paste and applied this roughly to the corners and left it overnight to crack.
I then carefully painted the top surface of the cracked area with black Powertex. Using the red Powertex with the Easy 3D Flex made sure that there would be nice bright red colour in the cracks.
Next, it was time to add the gorgeous coloured paperdecoration – burgundy, light pink, red wine and red.
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…
Until next time, Abs xx

 

Tremendous Textures by Abigail Lagden

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.

T-shirt Yarn
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!!)
You can pick up t-shirt yarn from the Powertex website.
Embossed Wallpaper
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!
Halloween decorations
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.
Web fabric
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…

Until next time, Abs xx

 

Let’s Get Organised by Abigail Lagden

 

It’s been a magical summer for me running many workshops for children (and adults) during the holidays. I’ve helped budding wizards create over 100 wands and 50 spell books!
But now, as they all head back to school, I felt it was time to treat myself to some special storage for my everyday essentials. And this fantastic MDF storage caddy by Candy Box Crafts fits the bill perfectly.
As it comes flat packed, I started by trying to work out how all the pieces fit together to make the organiser and I have to say it was quite a bit easier than I expected.
Once I knew where all the pieces were going I used bronze Powertex to glue them together by painting a very thin layer on the joining surfaces and fitting them all together (I also painted all of the inside surfaces with bronze Powertex as I wanted a dark interior).
Top tip – I used elastic bands around the outside of the organiser to hold all of the pieces tightly together whilst the Powertex dried.
I confess, with this project I didn’t really know where I was going with the decoration at the start, I just knew that I wanted it not to be too bulky so that it would fit onto my already jam packed work surface. So I started by using Easy Structure paste through stencils to add an embossed pattern to all four sides – as well as some other stencils from my stash, I used the fabulous Fossilized and Wonderland stencils by the Secret Art Loft.
The structure paste was allowed to dry before all four sides were painted with Lead Powertex and small 3D Balls sprinkled into the wet Powertex.
I then mixed a paste using Lead Powertex and Easy 3D Flexwhich a spread over some of the blanker areas of the sides using a palette knife and pushed some pieces of a jigsaw puzzle into the paste on the front. This was left overnight to allow the paste to dry and crack.
I then used Powerwax mixed with Powercolor pigments to apply layers of colour using a sponge. I used the following pigment colours – turquoise, green, white, blue, burgundy and lilac. And finally dry brushed using Rich Gold Colortricx mixed with Easy Varnish.
To brighten up the centre piece I decoupaged it using EasyCoat Mat and pieces of this gorgeous rice paper.
Once it had all dried it was time to put it to use. Apologies for the state of my bottles and brushes but was made to be a working storage caddy so it would have been unbelievable for everything to be brand new and spotless. Two 1kg Powertex bottles fit into their compartments perfectly and then there is still plenty of space left for brushes, and your other crafty essentials.
Hope you have enjoyed this month’s project and have been inspired to get organised.
You can see more of my work, my workshops and my antics on my Curiously Contrary facebook page and website.
Until next time, Abs xx

 

Rainbo the Elephant by Abigail Lagden

An exciting design team pack arrived this month. Imagine my surprise to open it up and find an elephant inside!!

 

I love all the animal MDF templates by Powertex UK. But these new ones are a bit more exciting. They have been cunningly designed to fit across the pins of the large 2 pin metal stand which means you have the option to make a 3D, free-standing sculpture.
Now, you may have seen that we had the annual Powertex Tutor Retreat in July which was follow by a fabulous Abyssimo workshop run by Maria Fondler-Grossbaum. All of the projects we completed over the three days were all very different and all well away from my comfort zone. But I adore learning new techniques and mingling with other lovely creatives, so it was the most wonderful weekend. Anyway, here are my three completed projects…
Rosie Casselden’s Fish Workshop
Abyssimo Workshop
Tracey Evans’ Workshop

 

What I took away from the weekend was a need to do something bright and funky with my elephant project as well as (among other things) the three new, scrummy acrylic paints from The Secret Art Loft. I was also inspired by all the gorgeous unicorns created at the Secret Garden Party.
For this project you will need:

 

And here is what I did…
First I covered the base in cling film so it wouldn’t get covered in mess!
Then I attached the MDF elephant to the large 2 pin metal baseusing masking tape. I used some 1mm armature wire to form the shape of the ears, which was fed through the two holes in the template and secured in place using masking tape.

I then built the elephant out using tin foil and masking tape, so it was no longer just a flat piece of MDF. All of the foil was covered using masking tape before being coated with a layer of white Powertex universal medium.
I mixed some stone art clay using white Powertex and StoneArt. I used about four fist sized balls of stone art clay for the whole thing. I prefer to leave my stone art clay overnight before using as I find it easier to work with after is has rested for a bit.
Taking small pieces at a time, I covered the elephant with the stone art clay and used a clear stamp and a wooden printing block to impress flowers and patterns into the clay.
I used the remaining clay to mould some daisies using the Powertex Daisy Mould and attached these with a little white Powertex.
For the ears I used white Paper Decoration to get a texture rich wrinkly surface.
I added some fish net fabric over the elephant’s back and some flowers on the trunk but changed my mind at the colouring stage and removed them.
The project was left to dry. Where I have added stone art clay embellishments, I find it is a good idea to let project dry before colouring as the clay shapes can shrink a little and expose some of the white surface underneath them.
Once dry I used the Secret Art Loft acrylic paints to transform the elephant into a rainbow (Is this getting a bit predictable now?). I applied the paints using a mixture of a brush, a sponge and my fingers!
The paint was left to dry before using white Powertex to dry brush the surface to enhance the appearance of the textures, followed by clear gold colortricx mixed with easy varnish.

 

And, after my Abyssimo workshop, I couldn’t resist adding a little bit of bling too!

I hope you like my rainbow bright elephant and will be inspired to get creating with Powertex.

Please feel free to have a look at what I am up to on my Curiously Contrary facebook page and website.
Until next time, Abs xx