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

 

Pixie’s Powertex Palace

Pixie’s Powertex Palace by Abigail Lagden

I absolutely love all things magical, so I was ridiculously excited when my fairy house project pack arrived and couldn’t wait to get started. Here’s what’s included:
First, I laid out a rough design so see where all the bits looked best whilst I had a little think about texture. I like my pieces to have loads of texture and depth and I don’t like to leave any flat surfaces plain if I can help it.

 

I wanted to give my little house a natural feel, like it had grown from a woodland. So for the texture for the roof and toadstools I went for a rummage through my pieces of embossed wallpaper. I drew around the MDF pieces on the wallpaper to cut out the perfect size and shape.
The paper decoration included in the kit gives a lovely natural stringy texture, so a piece of this was perfect to cover the base of the house.
Once I had all my bits prepared, it was time to get house building…
I painted the top surface of the house base with black Powertex and the bottom part of the back of the roof, and attached the two pieces together (Powertex is one of the best glues I have come across!!). I wanted my fairies to have a shorter, more squat house so I attached the roof quite low down leaving a bit of the base part poking up out of the edge of the roof – not a problem as I had an idea to disguise it.
I then painted the front of the roof with black Powertex and whilst wet, placed the pre-cut piece of wallpaper onto it and painted it over with the Powertex. I did the same with the toadstools using some different wallpapers.

 

To cover the base of the house I worked black Powertex into a piece of natural paper decoration and gently stretched it out to produce a stringy sheet which would give texture across the wall.
On the MDF door, I used the stencil from the kit and Powertex Easy Structure to add the word ‘dream’. (This is after all going to be the dream house.)
Once dry this was painted over and attached to the house using Powertex along with the toadstools.
Now it was time to add all the windows, lace and embellishments. As well as the embellishments included in the kit I also added a moulded fairy door and a few buttons and hessian covered hearts from my hoards. To cover up the sticking up corner of the base, I added a hessian chimney – fairies love an open fire you know.
Whilst I wanted my house to have a natural feel, I couldn’t resist a magical rainbow roof using a mixture of powercolor pigments and varnish. Once coloured, I felt it needed a little bit more magic so I used the interference powders in the kit to give it some iridescent highlights.
These powders are truly magical and can appear quite different depending on the base colour – so have fun experimenting.
Can you spot which extra embellishments I snuck on before adding colour?
It’s always tricky to know when to stop!!
If you like this project, you can have a look at what else I’ve been up to on my Facebook page and my website.

Until next time, Abs x

From Skye to Sea

From Skye to Sea by Abigail Lagden

I’m so excited to be part of the 2018 Powertex Design Team and for my first blog I wanted to share with you a place that is very special to me – the Isle of Skye.
It is a place of awe-inspiring beauty and diverse geology, from the looming Cuillin mountain range, across the bleak peat bogs, to the rugged cliffs and the many and varied beaches. The weather can be wild and changeable, but that is just another part of the beauty and inspiration of the place.
Glenbrittle Beach (that’s me lurking on the right with my lurcher, Benson)

On every visit, my other half (Tom) and I spend many a day exploring the outdoors, particularly the coastline. As a photographer, Tom is captivated by the light on the waters and takes stunning and emotive landscape pictures. I, on the other hand, mooch around, head down looking for treasures. ‘Treasures’ are what I call the things I collect from beaches and they can be anything from shells to stones to driftwood to glass.

Me, collecting treasures!!
(Excuse the attire – it’s cold in December)

Our last visit was just before Christmas and as usual I collected some treasures whilst out and about, so I thought I would incorporate a few of them into a sea-themed plaque. This is just one of the things I love about Powertex – how you can repurpose, recycle and reuse so many things to create something unique and beautiful.

The shells and grass roots were collected from Glenbrittle beach (above) and the coral pieces were collected from coral beach at Claigan (below).

Coral Beach, Claigan – the yellow beach is made up of little bits of coral as shown in the insert

But enough of the beauties of Skye, let’s talk about my little project. The base ingredients for my Skye to Sea Plaque design were:

I often use the journal covers to produce hanging plaques, and just cover four of the holes to leave two to hang it with. Although of course this design would also have made a gorgeous cover for a journal.

I am obsessed with texture and don’t like any plain, flat surfaces in my creations, so first I used structure paste to create some coral-like patterns on the MDF cover, before painting it all with bronze Powertex.

Rough layout of design (unsurprisingly in changed)

Next I laid out a rough arrangement of the bits and pieces I wanted to include – it is a good idea to do this at the start even if the layout changes as you progress through your projects.

 

Hollow shapes like shells can be tricky to attach securely to a project, so I like to mix a bit of 3D sand into some of the Powertex to produce a thicker paste which will hold them firmly in place. In this project I spread some of this paste over the areas where I wanted to place the shells and the coral. The shells were then filled with the paste before being positioned and the coral was just sprinkled directly onto the paste. To fill the gaps between the coral and the shells I sprinkled some small 3D balls over the area.
I added some pattern and texture to the seahorse using structure paste before attaching to the plaque and painting everything with a coat of bronze Powertex.
Left to dry before bringing to life with colour!

I coated the grass roots with Powertex and added them to make a sea plant. The texture was fantastic and I really wish I had picked up more of this stuff – I know what I’ll be looking for next time I’m at a beach – although care had to be taken when colouring as it was still rather fragile.

Then finally I used pieces of white Paper Decoration coated with Powertex to make some stringy seaweed around the sides.

 

Now time for some colour!
To produce a lovely blue-green multi-tonal sea colour I mixed blue, green, turquoise and white powercolors with easy varnish, in different quantities to get different shades and tones. This was applied using a dry brushing technique, layering the different colours gradually to blend the tones. Once I was happy with the result I couldn’t resist adding some shimmer so I used terragreen as well as the amazing new interference powders (blue, red and lilac) to give the scene some iridescence.
Then just a piece of t-shirt yarn tied through the holes for hanging and there you have my Skye to Sea Plaque.
From Skye to Sea by Abigail Lagden

I hope you have enjoyed my first Design Team blog, I know I have.
You can see more of what I am up to on my Curiously Contrary website and Facebook Page.

Until next time, Abs x

The twinkliest of toes for September went to….

Did the month of September just fly by for anyone else? It was lovely to see someone with a little extra twinkle to their toes. Septembers shining star was Abigail Lagden of Curiously contrary. My she has been a busy lady and she bagged herself a fab two week residency at the Durham Dales centre to boot! Fantastic result Abigail.
It truly does prove that hard work pays off. I think she did a pretty incredible job of making a very plain space pop with all her beautiful creations don’t you? 

Abigail describes her journey so far:
It makes me smile to create something new and beautiful and if it also makes someone else smile, then I feel like I have made the world a happier place.
I run a variety of fabric sculpting and mixed media workshops which allow participants to discover their creativity and complete beautiful projects. 
 Abigail’s thoughts on her residency: 
It gave me the space and time to be creative away from my kitchen table and the distractions of home. I met lots of lovely people who popped in to see what I was doing and I got to talk about my work and the processes involved. It also made me think about where I want to be in the future and what I need to be doing to get there. The two weeks have left me ready for a little rest but also empowered, motivated and inspired to keep going on my artistic journey.

Some of the wonderful works of art created by Abigail on her residency. 

And what a journey this magical Powertex leads us on. Abigail is a lady after my own heart I love her style and the beautiful colours she uses on her works of art. Love Abigail’s work too? Click the link to her Facebook and give her a follow, you know you want to https://www.facebook.com/curiouslycontrary/

Abigail is fully certified to teach you in all aspects of Powertex including Fabric Sculpting, Stone Art techniques, Mixed Media Painting and Easy 3D Flex for Darlington (DL Postcode areas). You can find details of all the tutors across the uk at Powertex UK. Toodle pip Anna xXx