Our in house designer, Heather Collins, is such an amazing and talented mixed media artist! Recently she created this stunning birchwood bark book, and we just had to share! We asked Heather to tell us about how she created this masterpiece, so she is sharing her process on the blog today!
Recently my family got a dog, which means many walks through the neighborhood. On one of these walks, I noticed a neighbor’s tree had lost some limbs. So I went and got my van and put one of the tree limbs in my van. It was a birch tree, the outside of the limb was simply beautiful and reminded me of paper. Being into mixed media, the ideas started swimming in my head. Plus I was in a gift exchange with a girl friend that LOVES nature. Once I saw the Inspiration Box “You’re A Hoot’ I knew it was just the stamp set I had been looking for.
My husband’s face was priceless when I pulled in our driveway with the birch tree limb in the back. He helped me get tree limb it out of the van. We scraped out the inside of the limb, which came off easily. Next we hosed off the pieces to get any more wood pulp off, mud, bugs and anything else that we could see. We soaked the bark in a bleach solution in a lidded plastic bin left in the yard for about a week. After a week my husband drained the bin and we hosed off the pieces inside. The pieces were then put out on trash bags and set out in the sun to dry for the day.
Using my Misti, I stamped out the stamp with ‘Raven’ detail ink and then fussy cut out my owl. I have a white pen and I just colored some areas of the stamped image and outlined other areas of it, to highlight parts of the owl. I used the Brutus Monroe craft glue to attach wooden buttons from the inspiration box and two ‘Ginger’ sequins.
Grabbing a papier-mâché book box from my stash of art supplies, I used clear gesso and applied tissue paper on the inside. For the outside of the front of the book I cut a piece of scrapbook paper to the fit the front cover. Let dry and then clear gesso the whole book again, inside and outside. Then I attached the birch bark to the box using Brutus Monroe’s craft glue and super glue. I found that the super glue just got absorbed into the bark and the craft glue is what really worked. On the front I had made a hole for my owl to poke out. I placed some heavy books on the book box and left to dry for a few days. After drying, I removed the weights and noticed the edges hadn’t perfectly laid flat, but I thought that added to the more natural look of the book. Here and there I tore some of the paper for it also look a little rough around the edges. Also I bent some of the bark back on the opening for the owl, being careful not to break any of off. Along some of the edges I added a little bit of egg shells for a bit of a crackle look too.
After the book was thoroughly dry I created my own ink ‘paint puddle’ on an art mat by smearing a combination of ‘Macchiato’, ‘Maple’, “Terracotta’, ‘Wagon’, ‘Marsala’, ‘Suede’ and drops of re-inkers for ‘Wagon’, ‘Terracotta’ and ‘Suede’ . Spraying with a little water and mixing with a foam brush.Next, I brushed color from my “paint puddle” on the edges of the book where the bark was, although I didn’t make it look completely covered so the paper print on the front wasn’t totally obscured. Let this thoroughly dry before going to the next step. Just as accents I edged the raised parts along the spine and a few highlight areas with Deco Foil™ Transfer Gel. After letting it start to dry I took a piece of Deco Foil™ Transfer Sheets • Amber Watercolor. This gave my box book a very aged look. Attach the owl in it’s little home with some Brutus Monroe craft glue. After looking at the owl I added some floral berry accents. The book is the perfect coffee table accent book and with its empty inside it is the perfect place to tuck away special little items. My girlfriend was happy with her gift, as was I. So much so I had to make one for me.
Supply list for "Birch Bark Book"
Brutus Monroe “You’re A Hoot” inspiration box
-Deco Foil Transfer Gel
Paper Mache Book
Scrap Piece of Scrapbook Paper
Floral Berry pieces