Quick Gelli Christmas Cards

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

This year I had two requirements for the Christmas cards: quick and handmade! The theme had also been selected: candles, suitable for all religions and all ages. All I had to do was to figure out how to make a lot of cards and fast. This first photo is a snapshot from my studio while I was making the cards.


Before I got my table full of cards and more under making, I had to discover the process of creating the cards. My artistic side wanted something that looked handmade but was still somewhat warm and painterly. The task was transferred to my engineering side who turned on the computer and made a sketch of a single card in Photoshop. The card would consist of two layers of paint. Needless to say, using the Gelli plate would be handy!

Planning a christmas card on Photoshop, by Peony and Parakeet

But this plan was not enough. I wanted to create not only one card, but several at the same go. While walking the dogs, I solved the problem. Here are the step-by-step instructions of how to make simple candle holliday cards. You can make them more complicated by adding doodles and such but the basic design is very simple. By following these steps, you can serially produce handmade cards!


Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

You will need: Paper, glue, cardboard, acrylic paint in few colors, brush, brayer, scissors, black pen and 8” x 10” size Gelli plate.
Optional: Paper trimmer for cutting the straight edges. Some kind of a stick, a pallette knife or a knitting needle for example, for drawing surface patterns.Double-sided tape if you prefer that to glue for attaching the printed image to the cardboard.

1) 1st Layer: Candles

Paint the center of the plate. The width of the painted area is 5 to 6 inches of the height of 10 inches. You can cut a paper of that width and use it as a guide by putting it beside or under the plate.

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

You can draw patterns with a stick if you like. I like to use more than one color to make the candles look lively. You can use brayer for the paint but I prefer to use brush and work horizontally. That way the candles will have horizontal color slides.

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

Cut your papers to the size of the Gelli plate before printing them. You will get 2 to 3 prints from the one layer of paint. Let dry.

2) 2nd layer: Backgrounds

While waiting the paint to dry, cut the masks for the candles. You will make four candles from the one print. For the four candles, you will need four rectangles, 2-3 inches wide and 5 to 6 inches long. Furthermore, you will need four flames. Fold a paper twice in half and cut one flame at the same go or enjoy your time with the scissors and cut the shapes individually.

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

Paint the background with two colors. The center with a darker color (blue, black or green, for example) and the sides with orange yellow. I like to use color mixtures here too. Place the masks so that the distance between them is the twice longer than the distant from the edges. If you want, you can emphasize the flames by drawing lines around them. Make the prints. Let dry.

3) Cut the prints, save the flames

Save the masking papers for the flames. Cut the prints in four parts with scissors or with a paper trimmer.

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

In the third photo beside the trimmer you can see one alteration of this pattern: use Gelli plate in the other way and create an image with a several candles! By cutting various sizes of masks you get variation for your candles.

4) Finishing

Cut a small part of the background away from the both sides of the print. Cut curvy lines to the bottom edge of the candle. These will make the candle look like it’s set on the snow.

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

Attach the print to the cardboard. Glue the mask on place or color the center of the flame with a colored pencil or a marker. Draw a wick with a black pen.

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate, by Peony and Parakeet

5) Variations!

You can make all kinds of variations from the basic instructions. You can add the number of candles, cut them out and glue many candle on the same card, doodle on the candles etc.

Printing Christmas Cards with a Gelli Plate (make four from the same print!), by Peony and Parakeet

I still have few cards to finish and one more task to do: Write “Merry Christmas” or “Hyvää joulua” (same in Finnish) on each one!

More holiday crafts from the previous years:
Wrapping Paper from Newspaper and Elegant Christmas cards

Intuitive Painting Workshop

Paintings on the wall at the studio, by Peony and Parakeet. See the video of the studio decorated for the intuitive painting workshop!

Welcome to my studio! In the video you will see the studio space decorated for the watercolor painting workshop and the paintings from the students: Annika, Jaana and Vasi.

The video also includes a quick preview of another video “Watercolor 101 for Intuitive Painting” which you can purchase as a digital download.

Read more about the intuitive watercolor painting and buy the video

Artistic Embroidery with Pens and Paper

I am so excited!

Click to buy 21 Secrects Art Journaling workshop!

I will be teaching an online class as a part of 21 SECRETS Spring 2015! The class is called Artistic Embroidery with Pens and Paper.

An art journal page inspired by crazy quilting by Peony and Parakeet. A workshop about needlework inspired art journaling is available as a part of 21 Secrets Spring 2015 online course.

Class Description

Let the long history of textiles show up in your art journal! For hundreds of years people have created textile art to express themselves. In the workshop we will discover ways to imitate embroidery and quilting using paint, pen and paper! No actual sewing needed!

We will find inspiration from various stitches and techniques like crazy quilting, silk ribbon embroidery and modern patchwork. These art journal pages don’t only make you feel warm and welcomed, but also let you express the luxury only handmade can offer. After the workshop you will look at the family heirlooms in a new way!

Artistic Embroidery with Pens and Paper, an art journaling workshop by Peony and Parakeet, as a part of 21 Secrets spring 2015

21 SECRETS – 21 teachers!

By purchasing the class you will not only get that but also 20 other online classes from 20 other great artists!

21 SECRETS Spring 2015 on sale now!

Starts in April – Now available for preorder!

21 SECRETS Spring 2014 starts at 1st April and it is now available for preorder. Once the workshop starts in April, you will get a downloadable PDF including all 21 classes. It is packed with videos, full color photos, printouts and instructional content. You will get unlimited access to all 21 classes and a membership to the private Facebook community where you can discuss with me and the other teachers and participants. If you want to learn or boost your art journaling, this is the workshop to choose!

An embroidery inspired art journaling page. Join 21 SECRETS Spring 2015 to get a workshop from Peony and Parakeet!

Why preorder now?

I am a big believer of looking further ahead than to the next month. When you will see the spring light and start to wait for the summer, April is the perfect time to get something new for your journals and your skills.

And here’s another good reason to pre-order! The regular price for the 21 classes is 98 USD, if you preorder now it is only 69 USD! But be quick, the lowest price is available for the first 150 participants only!

21 SECRETS Spring 2015 PreOrder now!

I hope to see you at Artistic Embroidery with Pens and Paper! Click here to read more and preorder!

Writing a Craft Pattern

At first, I should probably give you a warning: I am in the middle of the chaos, this not so organized as my posts usually are! With this post, I invite you to the process of writing a craft pattern. I have had this idea for 6 years and it has become hugely important to me.

Sewing Folk Bags, by Peony and Parakeet

I designed a drawstring pouch which combines yarn and fabric in 2008. I have made tens of those bags, which I call folk bags, during the years and dreamed about writing instructions of how to create them. Within years I have learned a lot of making these bags. What first started a simple idea and simple sketch of a pattern, has become much more. It became clear when I began working with the pattern that I won’t be writing a regular craft pattern. I am writing instructions and formulas about how to design and customize folk bags so that you can make your own unique bags.

Fabric Stash

Writing a pattern is not just writing. I have to test each sentence for many times. So I need to actually make more bags while I am writing.  Going to the fabric stash in the morning feels as inspiring as grabbing the pens and paints. What I find challenging is to go back and forth from knitting and sewing to writing. I do not know if it was a good idea to make the pattern both in English and in Finnish – and write the both language versions at the same time! Sometimes I get so mxed up that I have to translate the most simple words from English to my mother tongue Finnish! The good thing with working with two languages at the same time is that the instructions get checked much more carefully.

Folk bag Emily by Peony and Parakeet

I knew I had taken a lot of photos of my bags during the years. It seemed to be a good thing. All the ideas that I have had and that had been implemented are recorded. Furthermore, I have a special folder in the photo organizing software where they all are. And yes, that’s great. But there are over 500 photos plus the new ones I have took during the writing. I need to pick the best images for each chapter and then process them. There’s still 250 photos to go through and few more to shoot.

A Folk Bag by Peony and Parakeet

After all this, I still have to confess that my heart sings when I am writing the pattern. I hope that with this work I am able to spread more joy than if only I made the bags. I wish that there will be more people experience the joy of both making the bags and receiving them.

A Folk Bag by Peony and Parakeet

I hope to get the pattern published in this month. I already have finished many chapters and soon I will begin to insert the texts and images to the desktop publishing program. The working title of the pattern is Folk Bag Workbook. It will be available for purchase in my web site and at Ravelry.

Folk Bags by Peony and Parakeet

Next week I have more news, also textile related in a way!

How to Imitate Glass with Paint

We Will Protect You, a mixed media watercolor painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read how to imitate glass with paint!
For this painting I learned how to imitate glass. It is called “We Will Protect You” and it’s about parents trying to protect their children. The parents have good intentions and they do their best but in the end, they have to let the child step into the world. I have painted two glass vases to represent the parents. The child sees the world through the parents and even if they want to protect the child, they are fragile too.

The idea for the painting began last Saturday when I went to the local library to get some ideas for the future blog posts. I saw the book called The Art of Glass. It was about Kaj Franck, a Finnish designer who was extremely skillful in designing glassware.

Goblet by Kaj FranckMost Finns have Kaj Franck’s glassware as he designed not only unique art pieces but everyday glass as well. My most precious glass item from him is this red “Goblet” which was originally owned by my aunt. She passed away 10 years ago and the color of this Goblet reminds me of her vivid character.

After browsing few pages of the book, I knew I had to make something glass-related. This is not the first time the glass has inspired me: see the collage inspired by Nanny Still, and the knitted folk bag inspired by Oiva Toikka, both Finnish glass designers as well.

This time I wanted not only to find out how to imitate glass but to explain it to you too. Before beginning the bigger painting, I painted few circles on a small paper and tried to make them look like glass.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

I used acrylic paints to paint the circles and then watercolors to add another circles around them. The shapes were softened with colored pencils. Then I added white with acrylic paint and a gel pen, and black with a PITT Artist Pen.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

I made each circle a bit different. I was not fully satisfied with them though. The center circles were too solid in color. I decided to start the bigger painting with watercolors as they are easier for making transparent layers.

Here are my 8 tips on how to imitate glass!

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

1) Paint several transparent layers which intersect each other. Use a lot of water to create thin layers.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

2) Use a lots of hues and shades of the same color. Mix colors to get new tones which have slight differences from each other. Use small spots of other colors too as glass reflects its surroundings.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

3) Paint geometric shapes like circles, squares, half circles and triangles.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

4) Add white with acrylic paint. When painting the white shapes, soften one side of them by adding water.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

5) Use a black colored pencil to add dark near the sharp edges of white areas. Make the dark areas soft too.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

6) With correction pen, add brilliant white to highlight parts of the white areas.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

7) Add jet black with a black marker (I used a brush tip PITT Artist Pen) to make dark areas pop as well.

Imitating glass by Peony and Parakeet

8) Finish with thin lines using a gel pen and a black marker. It will make your glass look a bit thinner and more elegant.

We Will Protect You, a mixed media watercolor painting by Peony and Parakeet. Read how to imitate glass with paint!

What kind of glass do you like the most? Does the imitaton of materials interest you too?

Do You Paint Your Dreams?

The Forest Speaks, a watercolor painting by Peony and Parakeet

My recent watercolor painting is called “The Forest Speaks”. I painted it using the intuitive painting method which I show on the video “Watercolor 101 for Intuitive Painting”. The initiative for this painting came from a dream, almost a nightmare that I had few days ago.

Before I quitted my day job, I developed e-services for the Finnish forestry sector. I had planned my resignation for a long time. It was a tough waiting period. A couple of months ago I finally entered the full-time creative entrepreneurship. After resignation, I felt free and happy and practically stopped thinking about my old job.

But just recently I began to see these dreams – some kind of nightmares. The setting was always the same: my last day at the old job. There was so much to do that I was never able to leave. I woke up sweaty and distressed. Then, in the latest of those dreams, I was given one final job: to paint a painting for the hall of The Forest Centre. I knew exactly how it should look like but somehow did not get it right. Again, I woke up with anxiety.

In the morning I began to think that maybe there’s something that needs to be handled and documented – painted that is! So I took my watercolors and began to paint the image visioned in my dream.

A detail of The Forest Speaks, a watercolor painting by Peony and Parakeet

The painting is finished now and the last nights have went smoothly. I became convinced that our minds can be slower than we think. Our subconscious may have a lot to deal with. By nurturing our creativity we can become more aware of all what’s going on inside us. They might not be any bad or weird things, they are just stories that need to get told. For many people that I used to work with, the forests and forestry were very important. The forests spoke to them. For me, it is art that speaks and that’s why I had to leave.

After this experience, I want to interact more with my dreams. Is that relevant to you too? Have you ever painted anything related to your dreams?

The Feelings while Creating Art

Relief, a collage by Peony and Parakeet. See the video about making this!

I wanted to create a video blog post again but due to my flu, I was unable to speak. So I made the video with the background music only, but I think that the subject of it is most interesting: the feelings while creating art! During the creative process we often experience a variety of feelings that also have affect on the end result. You will get to see what I felt when I created this collage!

I often start pretty smoothly, then face several problems and in the end it all comes together. Feeling vulnerable at some point of the process is very common for me. I think that when creating you have to open up so much that it can feel intimidating. But if you do not cross that line, the end result does not feel so close.

Relief, a collage by Peony and Parakeet. See the video about making this!

Record your feelings while creating! Then analyze how they show in your artwork!

Art Journaling with Still Lives

Stay Still, the art journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

For the last couple of years, I have feel drawn to still lives. I even have the Pinterest board of the ones that I especially like. I used to think that old still lives are very conventional but they really are not! There can be anything happening in the painting, like a squirrel running on the table, and there can be a wide variety of objects too. And even the flowers look magical! Art journaling has a lot to learn from the old masters.

So, I thought it could be a fun concept to create still lives by applying the tips from the previous blog post.  I could combine odd paper pieces and doodles with text and create surreal art journal pages.

A detail of an art journal page spread, by Peony and Parakeet

I kind of like how this first still life combines conventional elements like flowers with the more surreal ones, like the eye. The same contradiction is also seen in the colour scheme: bright purples look mystical when combined with olive greens and warm browns.

Group the elements!

The principal of composition in still lives is simple. Just group the elements closely together!

Unfinished art journal pageMy art journals often have unfinished pages with elements here and there. This page had some doodles and a small illustration that I had drewn for a surface pattern. I often glue odd pieces to my art journals to save them. A page like this can be a great starting point for a still life!

I started working this page by adding the text so that it creates the vase for the flowers. I emphasized that with colored pencils. Then I colored the soft background with colored pencils. The softness is a great contrast to the graphic element on the bottom.

2 art journal pages by Peony and Parakeet

The third still life is formed around a doodle found on another page. It included just the bird and the flowers. I added the pot, stamped the text, colored the doodles with colored pencils and finally created the background with markers.

Why are these pages so fast and simple?
1) The starting point does not have to be grand, just some doodles, or paint, or odd pieces of paper.
2) Stamping few words tie the oddly placed elements easily together.
3) Coloring does not have to take a lot of time when it adds something new to the page.

More still lives
Watercolor 101 for Intuitive Painting – my video introduces an easy method which is especially suitable for surreal still lives and landscapes
A Formula for Composition – another way for creating a still life
Stretch Your Style – instructions to step out of the comfort zone, showcasing one of my favorite still lives

Visual Chronicles and Fast Art Journaling

In the newsletter sent 5th November, I mistakenly sent a wrong link, here’s the link to the latest video

An art Journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

In Finland, the weather got colder last week and I got a terrible flu. It is so frustrating to be able to do nothing but sleep. Being healthy feels so important then!

If there’s anything positive in lying down and doing nothing, it’s the creative break. It is weird how much processing time some things require. In 2006, I saw a new book in Amazon.com. It was called Visual Chronicles. It was nothing like I had seen before and I felt strangely drawn to it. I was mesmerized by the concept of creating relaxed pages combining text, paint, simple illustrations and photos. Art journaling was a new word in my vocabulary.

Visual Chronicles, an art journaling book by Linda Woods and Karen Dining

I took the book everywhere. While reading it, I tried to understand what it is actually about. I picked a blank book and tried to fill its pages. It was so disappointing to see how horrible my pages looked and furthermore, I did not have good time when I created them. I browsed the book over and over again. I could not get it!

But I did not give up. During the time I bought more books and made more experiments. I also noticed that there seemed to be other people doing the same thing. I took some online courses and finally… My first art journal was finished in 2010! (See the journal and my first blog post about art journaling)

Four years of agony! And now when I read Visual Chronicles, everything that I had learned stands there so clearly! However, there was still one thing that had been bothering me from 2006. The pages in the book are very simple and still I find most of them visually appealing. But if I tried to do the same, the end result was nothing alike.

After sleeping two full nights and the day between, I finally figured it out! It is the stamped journaling that makes the pages stand out in the book! I had never tried to stamp the words as I have always hated handling the alphabet stamps. But I do own two sets and had many pages waiting for journaling!

Using alphabet stamps in art journaling

Now I am hooked!

My mind is like a paradise, an art Journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

“Sometimes my mind is like a paradise”

My life, an art Journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

“My life, my problems”

Small changes, an art Journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

“Small changes, big impact”

Swim like a bird, an art Journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

“Swim like a bird”

Visual Chronicles by Linda Woods and Karen Dinino is still one of my favorite art journaling books. It does not take art journaling too seriously. Linda and Karen also have a blog which is written with the same humorous attitude. “If you are alive you have succeeded” is one of their recent advices. While still recovering, it feels very relevant at the moment!

Tips for fast art journal pages:
1) Divide the making of the page into three phases: a) doodling with a black pen b) coloring the doodles c) adding the text
2) Use colored pencils for easy coloring. A Moleskine Notebook and the colored pencils work really well together.
3) Add the text by grouping stamped words with the doodles. Use big and small stamps to create contrasts.
4) Let your personal history of art journaling get recorded into your journals! If I could turn back time, I would not toss those first pages.
5) Buy the book: Visual Chronicles