Tuesday, 25 April 2017

For the wings of a dove! by Claire Graham

Life's quite stressful at the moment, juggling my children having different Easter holidays, stress at work, new responsibilities at Church, a poorly child, not enough sleep and a whole lot of negative self talk has honestly left me feeling like I want to run away... and don't even get me started on politics and the scary state of the world.  My best friend and I often joke about wanting to run away and join the circus, but frankly it's quite an appealing option at the moment!

I came across this verse earlier, whilst wallowing in my self pity. "Oh that I had the wings of a dove! That I would fly away and be at rest" (Psalm 55:6) and it was perfect! I loved the idea that I'm not the only one who's ever wanted to run away from it all. King David, super important, amazingly spiritual King David wanted to run away from it all too!!

So... first I used my trusty liquitex matt gel medium and a foam brush to prep the page (the yellow and red are bleed through from the next page.) And blasted it with my heat gun - it only takes a few minutes and for me is well worth it! 
Then I watered down some acrylic paint with liquitex matte medium, it makes it more translucent, but as I added more and more layers with a makeup sponge the text became harder to read anyway. I don't mind too much if I can't read the text, I have lots of other Bibles and phone apps that I can read an obscured passage in! I added some patterns through a stencil as well. 

Then I drew a little bird - i used my pigma graphic pen as it draws well on top of acrylic- and painted that in contrasting colours... the dots were added using the wrong end of a paintbrush! 

and lastly I added the text of the passage...
I found it amazingly comforting to dwell on the fact that I'm not alone with how I'm feeling, that it's OK to want to run away but also that like God walked with King David in his stressful times with him he's walking with me (and you) too.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Good Friday - Calvary Stamps and Pebbles Chalks by Deborah Gregg

In this Easter week, I'm just sharing this reflection on Calvary with you. At this time of year on Good Friday we especially remember all that Jesus suffered and did for us, to take our place, to bear our sins and burdens, and to bring us salvation and freedom through His precious blood that was shed as He died for us on the cross.

I wanted to create a page in my Bible using the stunning 'Calvary' stamps designed by Hannah at Creative Bea, based here in the UK. www.creativebea.co.uk
I have been reading the Gospel of Mark recently, but as I had already journaled this passage in Mark (see at the end of this blog post), and given that there are another three gospels that all describe the events of Jesus' death, I decided to read and journal this passage in Matthew Chapter 27 instead.

To create this page I first prepped the page with Art Basics Clear Gesso - I added two coats applied with an old store gift card (worked perfectly!) drying each layer with a craft heat gun. I prepped the page because I didn't want the stamped images to bleed through the thin Bible pages.

Then I chose the relevant stamps from my lovely Creative Bea 'Calvary' set, and planned a rough layout in my head!
I decided to use my set of Pebbles Chalks for the background. They are a set of different coloured chalks, in a pretty palette, with a crocodile clip 'pen' that you use to pinch a tiny pom pom which you use to apply the chalks and blend them. It's a lot of fun, a bit like applying eyeshadow or something! They are a bit fiddly to use, but not very messy, and are brilliant for adding a splash of colour, lovely to smudge and blend, and as they are dry there is no bleed-through in a Journaling Bible. I've found you can write over them or under them with a black Micron pen without any problems. 

If I'm honest, the Pebbles tray is a little bit of a gimmick, and probably not very good value compared to just buying a set of artist chalks, but they have lasted me for ages and I'm sure I've used them much more than I would have used a regular set of artist chalks. Because they are fun (did I mention that?)!
(One top tip - not a good idea to drop them on the floor - been there, done that.....they can crack and come out of their little palettes, and it's then very messy!)
Anyway here's a few photos of me applying the chalks:

So although I have all the lovely Pebbles colours that I would usually use, this time I wanted to use the greys and blacks to create a smudgy dark background to set the scene. I like to still be able to read all the printed words in my Bible if possible. Using black paint would have been very risky for this page, I definitely needed something lighter and more smudgy.
When the background was done, I added the stamps using a Versafine Onyx Black inkpad.

And as I had the stamps all inky, I decided to make a few tags too while I was at it!
I have found that if I prep the page with clear gesso, the Versafine Ink can take over 24 hours to dry fully! I think the ink just sits on the surface of the coated page, instead of sinking into the paper. However, once dry, it doesn't then bleed through the page. For me, it's totally worth the time involved in prepping and waiting. But if you're short of time or are more relaxed about bleed-through, just go for it! Let me know if you have any other tips or advice about this! I'm always learning....

When using chalks you need to fix them to the page otherwise they will smudge and the chalk may rub off on the opposite page. To do this, I sprayed a coating of 'Fixative spray' (which costs around £5 or so and is easy to buy from online or an art supplies shop). However I have heard that you can use hairspray - I've not tried this but intend to try it out at some point. 

The process of creating this page was fun, but most important to me was the time spent in God's Word, reading, thinking about it, and dwelling on all that Jesus has done for us. Praise Him! 

And as promised, here's the other page I created a couple of years ago, in Mark chapter 15:
Created using 'Forgiven' stamp by Time to Sow, white embossing powder, and scarlet Brusho. I had used white Gesso to prep the page, this was in the days before I discovered the wonders of clear gesso - you can see how the white gesso was starting to cover the words. 
This weekend, may you make time to reflect on the salvation of Jesus. And may your walk with Him draw you ever closer into His love, joy and grace. Happy Easter! 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

What's in a word? - by Sarah Anderson

 It's been a long while since I've done any journaling in my bible although I rectified that at the weekend with this verse, which is one of a few that have really spoken to me over the last few weeks.

"May the Lord cause you to flourish,
both you and your children"
Psalm 115:14

I was going through a really tough time at work, really tough,  and so I got on my phone and set up a private messaging group of close Christian friends and shared what was happening.  They supported me through that time with encouraging words, bible verses, prayers, declarations and pictures.  I couldn't manage any journaling at the time, but I could read through the messages and listen to songs.

It sounds easy doesn't it?  But at the time it was really hard.  My head was filled with 'what ifs' and worries and it felt like hard work to turn my thoughts to promises.  God is soooo good though and I was surrounded by good friends and colleagues who kept me going, words and song lyrics at church that were spot on for me and my circumstances, and even words through the post!  The above card came from Joyce Meyer's ministry.  'Flourish' was a word that kept getting repeated during this time so when I saw that Rebecca at Grace and Salt Ink was personalising accessory pouches I got one.

God's plans are plans to prosper us, not to harm us (jeremiah 29:11).  He is the one who "is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us" (ephesians 3:20).  He wants our lives to flourish.  I now have a pencil case that reminds me of that promise!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Mothers....and others

So Mothering Sunday has passed. The chocolates are eaten, the wine drunk and the flowers are reminding us of the love our families have for us. The cards - some hand-made, sticky and glittery - others carefully selected in a quiet moment, a memento of the special day.

In modern times the verb "to Mother" has become a noun "Mother's Day" - a "label" perhaps that can isolate and be painful to those for whom it doesn't quite fit.

As one of those people, I shy away from the spotlight that Mothering Sunday shines onto my relationships: both past and present, those that never quite blossomed as they should, and those that only existed in dashed hopes and broken dreams.

Rather than hide away from the issues that cause me discomfort, I try to tackle them openly in my Bible Journaling and prayer.

The scriptures are so richly filled with descriptions of parenting, and particularly mothering - its joy, nurturing, purpose...and pain.

My Bible Art Journey started (as for many of you journalers) with my favourite verse - the verse that has anchored me during storms, held me together in challenges, pushed me into happy times, and that I have thrown back at God in anger and frustration.....


The Bible has lots to say about families and relationships. Focussing on these has helped me to understand God's plan for my family, and has guided me in my role as a wife and parent....

Ephesians 5
Colossians 3

And I've also been able to reflect on and capture the happiest times. This one makes me smile every time I see it.....As it happens, the entry above this one in my Bible is "with God all things are possible" - something God proved to me with those smiling faces in the picture.

Mark 10 v 14

And yet our earthly families are not perfect - there is tension, pain, stress, worry - and sometimes unforgiveness and hatred. But we have a perfect Father who understands the things that we don't. We have a big brother who protects us, guides us and loves us so much he is willing to die for us.

And despite the jumble of emotions that are forced into the open at this time of year, we have a hope, and the ultimate comfort in the Love of our Almighty God.

Psalm 131
 by Lindsey Campbell

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Mistakes and Treasures! by Claire Graham

I remember a dear friend of mine saying to me that she could never get a Journaling Bible because she'd be so scared of getting a page wrong and then she'd want to rip it out... you can't do that in a Bible  (but you can in a sketch book!). 

That comment stuck with me, I know there's pages in my Bible that I like a lot less than some of the others and would possibly have ripped out if I could! This page was one of them... it was done in a rush, as part of a challenge I was following and as soon as I'd finished it I knew I didn't like it!! 

So a few days ago I gave it a makeover! 

I started by covering the margin in  white acrylic... it took several layers as the paint picked up the colour from the felt pen I'd used originally and went a beautiful shade of pink!! 

Then I drew some pots... I wanted to change the focus verse to "we have this treasure in jars of clay" and reference it to the Japanese tradition of kintsugi where broken pots are repaired with gold... adding to their strength and beauty. 
I painted those with acrylic too and outlined with black pen, I used gel pens to add the sparkle.
I also added a tip in flap explaining kintsugi...
... so sometimes mistakes can be covered over and a fear of making mistakes is no reason not to try!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Watercolours in my Journaling Bible - Part 2! by Deborah Gregg

I do love using watercolour paints in my NIV Journaling Bible (I have the lovely mint polka-dot one), so I thought I'd share another page with you all. For this one I used drips and deliberately ran colours together across the page to create a vibrant background for the words.
The passage is from 1 Samuel chapter 3, where one night, the young boy Samuel kept hearing God calling his name. I love this story, and was thinking about how God can speak to us in so many ways - but are we really available, paying attention and listening? I love how God constantly shows us something new from His Word, and even from very familiar passages, when we simply ask Him - 'Speak Lord, for your servant is listening' is something we can pray every time we pick up our Bibles!

To create this page I first prepped the page with a coat of clear gesso (see my previous post Part 1!). Once dry, I outlined the lettering very lightly with pencil. Pencil does usually show through watercolours, so I try to go very lightly....
Next I placed a piece of scrap paper behind the page, ready for the fun to begin! I used a fat brush and painted fairly wet watercolour paint splodges on the edge of the page margin, with the colours overlapping slightly. I used just the primary colours red, yellow and blue and where each colour met the next one you can see they blended to make the secondary colours of green and orange. I didn't scrub the colours onto the page, just added plenty of paint very gently.
Next I lifted the page up, and let the colours run down the page towards a rolled up piece of kitchen towel in the centre. If the colours were slow to run, I either added a little more coloured paint at the top, or spritzed with my water spritzer just to help them flow. It was tricky and I didn't quite have enough hands - yet still managed this photo with one hand....
And this is where I dropped the edge of the paper and it folded over onto itself - I'm not entirely sure how or why I managed to get a photo of this before I panicked ;-) but here you go: 
Thankfully no harm done, I very gently peeled the page back and it was mostly fine. Phew! The page is really delicate when wet, even with gesso prep, so I was quite relieved! There was a small rip in the bottom corner - more on that later....
Then I dabbed the excess paint with the kitchen paper, and dried the page with my heat tool. 
One of the best things about using watercolours in my Bible is that my Micron pens work really well over the top, with no risk of damaging the pen nibs. I simply outlined the lettering in a Pigma Micron 05 black pen. 
 I decided to leave the lettering quite simple for this page. You can see the rip in the bottom corner....which I decided to repair with washi tape!

Ages ago I bought a very cheap set of rainbow coloured washi tapes online (from Amazon cost less than £2 I think!). They have lasted for ages, and the narrow tapes have proved to be really useful for Bible Art Journaling - there's always a colour to match what I need!
So I used a small section of washi tape to repair the corner, and trimmed the corner into a curve with a sharp pair of scissors.
 Lastly I wanted to create a page tab for the top of the page. I liked the look of a watercolour smudge on my scrap paper that was under the page earlier on. So I added my key word, ripped it out, and stuck it to the top of the page so that the word 'Listen' was sticking up as a tab. That will help me easily find the page when I next need to look for it.
So the finished page to me contains a colourful, visual reminder to me, that God is wanting to call us, and speak to us, and he will keep on calling until we get the message and respond - here I am Lord, I'm ready, I'm listening....
I wonder what God may be trying to say to you today? Why not ask Him?

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Distress Oxide Inks in my Bible - by Sarah Anderson

Oh my!  I've been converted to prepping my pages!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And yes, that statement does merit that many exclamation marks!  I am not a prepper; I am a dive in and see what happens kind of girl.

So how did this happen?

Well, I adore inky splodginess.  It makes my insides all happy!  And I recently got my hands on some of the new Distress Oxide inks from Ranger.  These are a combination of pigment and dye ink so when you add water, they react in a different way to any other inks, and they dry with a wonderful chalky finish.

I have played and played with them in my journals but they are made up of watercolour paper, which is happy with lots of water being splooshed around.

Bible pages, on the other hand, are rather on the thin side, to say the least!!

I trialled the inks in the first pages of my bible, by using a cosmetic sponge to add the ink to the page, then spritzing them with water to create the unique oxide effects. [The top splodge is normal distress ink, with the distress oxide below it.]  I then pressed the distress oxide ink pad onto an acrylic block, spritzed with water and printed with it on top of the inked area.
                                                             reverse side - some bleedthrough

I think it was Claire who said recently that she prepped her page with Matt Medium, something I use as a glue, so I had a go with this in my bible

                                                                                and look, no bleedthrough where the Matt Medium was!!

Then I thought I really ought to use some Clear Gesso as someone would want to know if it worked with that too

                                    and yes it did!!

So I duly prepped my page with Dina Wakley Clear Gesso 

and let it dry whilst I gathered an inkpad, spray bottle and acrylic block.

I smooshed the inkpad onto the block

spritzed it with water

then pressed it down onto my bible page.  I manage to get the page quite wet and a bit of the colour went on the other side of the page, but I'm ok with that!

I spritzed it with water as I dried it with a heat gun, then repeated the printing with the acrylic block, again spritzing with water as I heat dried it.  Just look at those gorgeous inky marks ...

..and that's just with one colour of inkpad!

I stamped the word 'Jesus', from the Illustrated Faith Names of God set, using Faded Jeans Distress Oxide, then sprayed it with water as I heat dried it to see what happened.  What happened was the ink drifted so much you can't tell I stamped a word at all!  But it still looks pretty and makes me happy inside.

 I love this effect so much I think I'll add it to pages and leave them like that!  Today though I added a verse that really spoke to me as I was looking up a different verse from the same chapter from Sunday's talk in church.

It's a verse you'll be familiar with as

"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid,
but gives us power, love and self-discipline"
2 Timothy 1:7 NIV UK

but I read it in The Mirror, a paraphrase by Francois du Toit and it really spoke to me.  I know first hand how debilitating it is to have a mind that is full of anxious thoughts, bound in fear.  It is a conscious choice to change that thinking and choose to fill my head with the truths from God's word (something I've been really focusing on these past couple of weeks as I go through a really tricky time) but it makes a huge, huge difference!!  And it's so easy once you start.

His truths liberate my mind, setting it free from fear.  Sometimes I've had to sing those truths very loudly in my car, and sometimes I wake up with those songs going through my head (look up Godfrey Birtill's songs, they are full of fabulous truth!)  Amazing peace follows and it's possible to keep going through what is a tough time.

And for those who are keen to know...

 this is the other side of the page!  I accidentally printed some of the green on here which is why it looks like it has more bleedthrough than it does.  And I think the blue is because I didn't quite cover the whole area with gesso!

And the little heart?  They were made by pressing the Worn Lipstick Distress Oxide pad down on a sheet of deli paper, spritzing it with water as I dried it with a heat gun

..then punching out a heart shape etc