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

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.)

Pretty Powertex Hanging Heart

Pretty Powertex Hanging Heart by Abigail Lagden

Pretty Powertex Hanging Heart by Abigail Lagden

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.

To complete this project I used the following:

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.

Red and blue mixed
With white added

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 the wallpaper.

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.

Pretty Powertex Hanging Heart by Abigail Lagden
Pretty Powertex Hanging Heart by Abigail Lagden
Pretty Powertex Hanging Heart by Abigail Lagden

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.

If you’d like to see more of my creations, please pop over to my Curiously Contrary facebook page or visit my website www.curiously-contrary.co.uk

Did you catch my article last month? If not why not pop over and take a look 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

 

From Special to Steampunk Extra Special by Abigail Lagden

From Special to Steampunk Extra Special by Abigail Lagden

One of the many things I love about Powertex is how easy it is to take old and unwanted items and turn them into something spectacular. But it doesn’t have to be unwanted items, you can also take cherished, sentimental items and preserve them by incorporating them into a piece of art . We all have pieces of clothing or jewellery, even toys or other keepsakes that are safely hidden away in boxes, cupboards and drawers. With Powertex you can find a way to display them.
In this blog I will show you how I transformed an old hat into a fabulous piece of wearable art, incorporating all kinds of special trinkets and fabrics into the design.

The idea grew from a few events that I had planned over June and July this year. At the end of July I will be selling my creations at the Whitby Steampunk Weekend and anyone who has been will know how spectacular some of the outfits and costumes are. So, I wanted to create something a bit special to wear myself, that would also demonstrate how Powertex can be used.

 

In June, I also participated in a couple of events where I was demonstrating Powertex and allowing visitors to have a go. So, I decided to create a piece of art that visitors could add to throughout the two events. What better than a hat, which once complete, could double up as something I could wear at the Steampunk Weekend!
Original hat
Converted hat
The old hat I started with was a fedora style hat, so first I needed to make this a bit more Victorian and convert it into a top hat. I did this by just using cardboard to make the desired shape. (The lace band and flower on the original hat was removed and is waiting in my stash for another project)
The whole base hat and cardboard was then painted with bronze Powertex and the cardboard secured onto the hat using a strip of fabric coated in Powertex. It was now ready to be transformed. Over the two events, a variety of embellishments and trinkets that I had stashed away were added to the hat, sitting in scrunched up pieces of different textured fabrics all coated with bronze Powertex.
After the first event, Make in Durham
After the second event – Clervaux Fair
By the end of the second event the hat was approximately two thirds covered, so I didn’t have too much left to do myself other than add the unzipped cogs and cover the top and brim.
Back of hat
For the final colour I wanted it to have a Victorian feel so I opted for burgundy powercolor pigment over the fabric elements and copper, bronze and gold colortricx over the embellishments. I couldn’t resist a rainbow in there somewhere though, so the unzipped cogs got that honour!
Front of hat
I can’t wait to proudly wear my hat in Whitby at the end of July – watch out on my Curiously Contrary facebook page for photos from the weekend.
Until next time, Abs xx

 

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat

by Abigail Lagden

I was so excited when I unpacked all the Alice in Wonderland goodies that I couldn’t wait to get started. The acrylics were so wonderfully bright and bold that I decided I needed to create something totally different to my usual style. So, it is the tea party set that I have chosen to share with you all this month.

 

Anyone who knows me and my work, knows I hate flat surfaces so the first thing I did was add some texture to the body of the teapot using wallpaper and painted over this with ivory Powertex. On top of this, I added a piece of the delicious floral rice paper using Easycoat Matt.

I did the same with the saucers and I also used a little bit of wallpaper on the top part of the cups.

I mixed up some Stone Art clay using ivory Powertex and Stone Art and applied this roughly onto the teacups. I used some flower stamps from my stash to make imprints into the clay.

I then used the gorgeous acrylic paints to paint splodges of colour onto the clay. I left this to dry for a short time before using a damp sponge to gently wipe the paint back off the surface of the clay.

The two saucers were painted using the acrylic paints and left to dry. Again a damp sponge was used to lift the paint off the raised pattern.

More ivory stone art clay was added to the handle, spout and outer edges of the teapot. Lots of daisies were made using stone art clay in the daisy mould and these were piled onto the teapot (leaving some space for Alice) and secured using a little Powertex underneath the flowers.

In the same way as the paints were used on the cups, I coloured the teapot and all the flowers.

The little Alice figure was also painted using the acrylic paints and powertex.

Once all of the individual pieces were complete and dry, they were all attached together using some transparent Powertex and the MDF bar included in the kit.

Et voila!!

 

The brightest most funky piece I think I have ever made – I have a feeling I may have been converted from the dark side (well… temporarily at least!)

 

I hope you will all enjoy playing with the new templates, paints and pigments as much as I have. Don’t forget to share your makes in The Powertex Studio, we absolutely love to see them.
Until next time, Abs xx
Find me on Facebook