History & Traditions, Painting

Completing a Renaissance Baroque art project – Another UFO down.

When you live at least four decades and more, you tend to accumulate a lot of ‘stuff’. Particularly if you are into craft, as I am. At some point, it becomes overwhelming and this is when you need to have a good look at your stash and perform a swift and sometimes cruel cull. But another less painful way to clean up is to complete some Un Finished Objects, hitherto referred to as UFOs. And do so with a determination akin to that of a Tasmanian devil hanging on to its prey.Helen Kuster pattern

I have not varished it yet, hence the few guidelines still being visible.  If you want to know how to do the faux finish background  I used in this project, you will find a tutorial on my blog here: Tutorial – Faux Finish Woodgrain

Helen Kuster pattern Storage Box

Thus, another one down, Only several hundred more to go…..

This pattern comes from the talented Helen Kuster of South Australia, who has made Renaissance-baroque folk art  her passion.

In the Baroque art form, dating from the 12th Centrury, there is symmetry, mass and space, but also swelling and lavish forms, sometimes almost too much embellishment, which contrasts with the restraints in the Renaissance time period, from the earlier centuries.

I first completed this pattern on a Linen hamper, for dirty laundry, and then on a few smaller items, and now this WPB…. wooden paper box..(tricked you?)  In reality, this one will live in the bathroom as a storage for toilet rolls.

One more touch I might make is to add a S stroke border along the base profile, just to match in with the top.

Then to varnish it. I always like to leave time to ponder about the project prior to varnishing, as there is always just a final touch or two I wish to add, after the completed project has ‘sat’ a while. It is a hellish job trying to paint after the application of a full coat of varnish!


Vintage Embossed Cards and Scrapbook backgrounds-DIY Tutorial

blog pictures 068 blog pictures 075Ever wanted to make something new look like it come from another era?  Want an appropriate backing for a family history photo? This faux finish idea for a vintage embossed cards is a fun way to make greeting cards, bookmarks, and gift tags and individualised scrapbook paper.

Supplies needed

Cardstock in black, white or chosen shade. Try to find 2 shades that contrast well to use together.

Embellishments ( optional and as desired)


Embossing machine and templates

Cards or cardstock


To make the vintage look, I aged the white and grey paper or cardstock, with cold teabags. Please note that you need to use medium thickness card or paper. If it is too thin, it will tear when soaking in the cold tea.

Add one or two teabags to boiling water about 1/2 litre or enough to cover the dish in which your cards are to soak. I used a large plastic tray. Let the tea cool to tepid.

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Place cards and paper that is going to be embossed in the tea and let soak for up  to 2 hours. You can even place the tea bag directly on it for a “aged” spot stain. This can look really effective. If you don’t place the teabag directly on the paper,  you will still get a creamy sepia kind of colour, which is a softer effect.

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Dry the card on a flat surface in the sun. Some minor curling may take place, but this is no problem unless you leave it in the sun for hours and hours.

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Run the card through an embossing machine in your usual way, with your chosen embossing template.

N.B. Don’t do the embossing before soaking, otherwise the moisture will lift the embossed imprinted design and the raised impression will be lost.

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Now you can decorate the printed card or paper with some extra tints and highlights of paint. I used an olive green and a mid colour yellow acrylic gouache and a round brush, softly stroking across the raised embossed pattern. Make the paint pretty watery, akin to a “wash” consistency. This means that the colour must been translucent, not solid when tested on a scrap piece of card. Try to balance the colour a little, over the entire surface, so that there is a little bit of say, green on one side and a larger amount to balance it out on the other. Dobs of yellow match well with the sepia look.

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Trim as needed and attach with glue or double-sided tape to backing cardstock, or a greeting card. I used black backing card as a contrast to the light coloured card.

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Now you can decorate and embellish as you wish, as much, or as little as you like.

I made a bookmark for Valentines day, and a few blank greeting cards suitable for all occasions. I think these cards look quite elegant on their own, with very little decoration, but that may be just me.

This idea is fantastic with an old family photo for Family reunion invitations or 80th birthday, and to scrapbook old-time photos.

How much to decorate them is something you have to ponder about yourself. Please email if you have questions or link if you would like to share your own project with me.

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Faux Finish – Marble DIY Tutorial

blog pictures 019Ever wanted marble but could not afford it?

You can with this simple faux finish.



This project was originally a Dutch traditional painting with a dark orange background and the colours I had chosen, just weren’t working. So I revamped the project and decided to opt for something very simple like this:



To create your own faux marble finish:

1. Timber or MDF piece, sealed and prepped with a dark orange brown background paint.

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2. Mix a light green colour with some cream yellow, dark green, and white if necessary.

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3. Base coat over the top with the *light grayish green, and while wet, wet a sponge and pat over the piece. Note that this picture does not really show the correct colour.

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4. Lay a piece of kitchen or Glad wrap over the top and stretch and move around, then scrunching in a ball and dab it over the surface. This will lift some of the light green coat, revealing some of the background underneath in a haphazard way, that looks natural.

5. Dab on some light yellow and dark green, and even a little  Prussian blue on different sections of the damp sponge and pat here and there over the surface.

6. Use the scrunched glad wrap ball to soften any harsh lines from the sponge. You want it to blend gradually.


5. Dab on some light yellow and dark green, and even a little  Prussian blue on different sections of the damp sponge and pat here and there over the surface.

6. Use the scrunched glad wrap ball to soften any harsh lines from the sponge. You want it to blend gradually.

7. Let dry

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8. Drag a feather through warm white acrylic colour and pull across surface in wavy lines to simulate the cracks of colour in marble.

I used one from my pet cockatoo. ( NOte: It had fallen out, I did not pull it out!!!)

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You can also use a fine liner brush if you don’t have a feather.blog pictures 013


9. Soften with a mop brush or scrunched wrap ball if necessary.

* I don’t use retarder, which extends the open time of the paint, but if you are having trouble with it drying before you can manipulate the finish with the glad wrap ball, then either mix retarder into the surface of the light green paint, use retarder on the sponge as you paint.

Now you can decorate the rest of the project. Varnish as desired in the usual way. I use either spray or brush on.

N. B. If you want to decorate on top of the marble faux finish, a protective coat of sealer/clear glaze medium is advised.

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The completed faux marble finish

I will continue a tutorial on decorating the outer rim next time. Any questions, don’t ponder,  just ask!