Hi everyone, I am Ann Barnes (sometimes known as aksbarchitect) and honestly, I can't even find the words to explain how thrilled I was to be asked to be a guest ambassador for Relics and Artifacts. I have always been awed by the beauty and incredible detail of Sandra's pieces, and when I see the amazing artwork her deign ambassadors create with them, I am transported into the most magical of places. I have often found making things to be a wonderful way to express myself. I delight in seeing ideas come to life. I love getting inky, working with paper and chipboard, and manipulating mediums; I enjoy experimenting and surprise outcomes. I am a daughter, a mother, a wife, and an architect. I have always had a passion for design, and a respect for the art and architecture of the past. I gain inspiration from the beauty in nature and from many artists and designers.
I believe that our life experiences shape so much of our interests and passions. Throughout my childhood, our family moved often, we lived in both ordinary and extraordinary places. One such place was Puerto Rico. My parents had always had a love of sailing and the sea, and while we lived on the island, we were able to experience so many of the wonders of nature. Up until this point, our experience at sea had predominantly occurred off of the new england coast, a world away from this tropical paradise. Instead of rocky, very cold, steel blue depths, we were treated to warm currents and glorious aquatic blues. This is where my inspiration comes from for MUSE Of The Deep: snorkeling in the coves of the carribean, where treasures are plentiful. I envision a sailor's long lost good luck charm carried away to its resting place in the heart of the most gorgeous shell nestled amongst the swaying sea life. A mermaid guards the charm in hopes that one day her sailor will return in search of his cherished treasure.
I begin with a wooden vignette box, and give a slight driftwood appearance by lightly painting it with distress paint in weathered wood. This is set aside to dry.
The ocean background must be a vivid and clear combination of aqua and blues. To achieve this, I paint a sheet of Yupo with alcohol ink. I make sure to include the ever-present air bubbles that are found beneath the ocean's surface, a sure sign of life in all of its forms. This backdrop is cut to size and creased at each side to fit securely in the box.
A banner will contain the title of the piece. I stamp and color the image with distress ink, then cut out the detailed image and set it aside.
I want the shell to be somewhat raised within the box and decide a sandy base will be the perfect resting place for it to settle. I use clay to form the ocean floor and emboss it with a coat of dirty sand baked texture.
The shell is painted with a pearlizing medium to give it a lustrous sheen. Once the appropriate luster is achieved, I add a metallic gold leaf paint to the frills and edges. This helps to accentuate the gorgeous details of the R&A Coquille piece. I set this aside to dry.
The next task is to create the sea life that will surround the focal piece. Using dies, I cut multiple greenery pieces from watercolor paper. These pieces are colored with distress inks using a water brush. Layering with various colors of green give the plants a nice algae look. I cut multiple pieces in various shapes so that I have plenty of flexibility when it is time to arrange the pieces. I hope to give plenty of depth to the interior of the box without overpowering the focal point.
While contemplating the scene, I decide to add a bit of mythological intrigue by incorporating a mermaid's tail. I stamp the tail with archival and use distress ink and spray stains to add color. I also use a gold pen to draw on the scales, then add an additional layers of color as well as glimmer mist.
Next, I set about creating the long lost luck charm. I want the mini madonna figure to look well loved, like it has been worn to perfection. I begin by coloring her robe with a paintbrush and some inks. To give it a more worn look, I water the color down and add some metallic watercolor for shine. Her crown has areas of shine from gold leaf. Gold also adds highlights along some of the garment folds. The base of the statue is covered with gold leaf.
Beginning from the back of the scene and working outwards, The background art is adhered in place. A small piece of mercury glass specialty paper is cut to fit the inside top of the box to mimic the waters reflection above. This piece also serves to reflect light into the deepest parts of the scene. The sandy base in the secured into the box and I begin to add the pieces of sea life.
Each piece must be placed appropriately, adhered, and allowed to dry. As the layers are built, the mermaid tail is attached into its layer and the remaining plants are added.
The shell is secured with a strong adhesive to the sandy base. It is also secured to the back panel of the box, by way of a tiny block that is glued to the rear side of the shell.
The madonna statue sits atop an "aged" pearl. A small starfish and shell are added to the sandy base to complete the interior.
I want to give the entire vignette box a special "crown". Using an impresslit die, I cut pieces of faux dresden trim from silver card. I color some of the raised areas with gold leaf paint and smear it with my finger while its still wet, resulting in a colored piece that complements the scene while not detracting from the beautiful focal point. This "crown" piece is attached along the outside edge of the box top.
The back side of the vignette box has a small piece of fishing net attached. Caught on the net, a banner reveals the title: MUSE of the deep.
Perhaps my "Muse" will inspire you to create something beautiful.
I am ever so grateful for the confidence that Relics and Artifacts had in me, allowing me this opportunity to create as a guest ambassador. This is the realization of a long time dream, and will most definitely always be cherished experience.