Sunday, November 2, 2014

Altered Asian Writing Desk Set

Altered & Recycled Asian Writing Desk Set & Going Postal Challenge

My project for today is an Altered Asian writing &  desk set, which I created especially for this months Going Postal Challenge over at Recycle, Re-Purpose & Re-Invent.

I have had the idea for this challenge and this project for over a year now and it was fun finely getting to try some of the things I had envisioned.

Everything in my project is either recycled, created from scratch or very, very old. 

 All the digital designs I used are from my new Postage Stamp digital stamp series which you will find in my CS Designs shop later this week.

I have been collecting the pieces for this project for a very long time and although I am extremely happy with how my altered project turned out, my favorite part over all is my handmade  scroll with wax seal and the handmade seal itself. .

My Altered Asian Writing & Desk Set is very detailed so this post is long but hope you will enjoy knowing how I created some of the pieces in my set.  Pour yourself a cup of something and hope you enjoy my latest project.

Lids, Boxes & Containers
The wooden piece I used as a foundation to hold all the pieces for my set is the top lid of an old wooden gaming set. The side that is showing is Chess and Checkers and the side underneath is for Backgammon.

The cylinder Container  I painted black and holds my wood burned chop sticks came from an old wooden spoon set that I have had for about 10 years butt never used in my kitchen, and  instead used it to store extra pens in my art room.

I ‘m not sure what the piece I used for  a letter holder was before as I found it at Salvation a couple of years ago. 

The Wooden box I painted red was a Dollar store find and cost all of  $1.25

Scrolls & Seals.

Some where I have real sealing wax the kind with the wick that you burn and drip, I also have a real  all metal seal, but could not find them when I went to make my project so made my own.

The handle part of my seal came from an old rubber stamp that I no longer use. I ripped off the stamp and painted the wooden handle black to match the rest of my writing set and hot glued an old button which served to make the impression.

 My scrolls. The two scrolls in the black box tied with brown waxed cord are just a letter I printed in the correct size and then rolled to look like scrolls.

 The scroll with the wax seal has been something I have been wanting to make for a very long time and so pleased at how it turned out.  For something to roll my stained paper onto, I used  a piece of thick doweling that came with a huge bag of wooden blocs that I bought at a second hand store about 2 years ago.

 I painted the dowel black using acrylic paint, added gold to both ends and then sealed it all with Mat Gel Medium. I then took a piece of  left over stained and cooked bakery paper and wrapped it around the middle and held it in place with tied red crochet thread.

For the Home made Red Wax Seal. I melted broken pieces of some old red crayon, some paraffin wax left over from the days I use to do canning and some cut up pieces of hot glue. I melted everything in an old clean empty soup can as I did not want to ruin  any of my pots. I had the heat on fairly low as I did not want it to smoke and found that the crayon and paraffin wax melted quickly and well but the glue stick did not even though they had been cut up before hand.  I left the un-melted glue in the can but it could be removed as it ended up being of no use.  If you try something like this be sure to use a pot holder to touch you can as it can end up getting very hot even at low heat.

 Later when I went to use the wax I had melted, I heated it again only this time by applying a little heat from my heat gun to inside the can.  I poured a little bit of the wax mixture onto some tinfoil and let it set up for a bit before scooping it up and shaping it into a ball with my fingers. I then flattened the ball slightly and placed it on my paper scroll shaping it to match the rounded curve of my wooden seal, and made an impression on the wax with the button end of my handmade seal.

Although the seal impressed fairly well, the seal did not really stick to the paper after it was cool, so I used some Tacky Glue to hold it in place permanently.


There might be a couple of reasons why my seal did not initially stick to my paper seal. Paraffin wax is much softer and creamer than candle wax so does not tend to be as brittle. Candle wax is much harder and would probably make a good impression but I was afraid because of it’s hardness it might tend to snap off or crumble with time and wanted my paper seal to last for a long time.

I also used  the big children’s crayons instead of the smaller harder ones and this might also have contributed to the structure of my final seal. I have some beeswax kicking around here some where and going to try that the next time I do this again, although it doesn’t take much to make a seal and I have lots of the red wax left over.

Once my seal was cool, I noticed that the impression did not really stand out as much as I had hoped so added a bit of dry brushing with gold acrylic just on the raised areas and rather like how it looks.

Ink Bottle, Calligraphy Pens ad Nibs
The small ink bottle in the red box is an old  Winsor Newton Gold ink which has been dry for the past 15 years but I though the bottle was too cool to throw away and have been saving it all this time. Because you can still see the gold ink inside from certain angels, I left the bottle as it was and just tied a bit flower charm on the front with red crochet thread to hide the label.

 I have an old Chinese coin my Hubby found on one of his excursions a long time ago and gave to me because I like collecting old coin and added it as an accent to the top of the bottle to go with the Asian Theme.

 Both my Calligraphy pens are about 20 years old and the larger one which used to be be black when it was new was looking rather neglected so I gave it a bit of a face lift by repainting it and giving it a band to match my Altered Domino Jewellery included with the writing set..

Stationary, Postage Stamps and Postage Envelopes: 

The Small Stack of Envelopes tied with a shear red ribbon is delicious. I say delicious because they are made from something similar to deli papers and they come sandwiched in-between the goodies my Hubby buys me at the bakery and we also get similar papers under  our pizza when we order from our local pizzeria.  To prepare the papers, I washed them well with dish soap, and set them aside to dry and stored them for later use. It is surprising especially with the pizza ones that they all came absolutely clean.

For my project I wanted my envelopes to look old so crinkled them up and put them in a bowl of brewed coffee for a few seconds. I then wrung them out and placed them on a baking sheet covered with tin foil and baked them at 325 degrees F for just as long as it too for them to dry.  I don’t remember for how long but if you try something like this be sure to check  periodically because paper might burn if left unattended.

 I experimented with the coffee dipped paper and  tried smoothing some out and left others crinkled and prefer the ones that were scrunched up in a wad as they show more stains, especially where parts touched the tinfoil while baking. The only thing I would do different next time might be to cut out my envelopes first as it was hard cutting perfect straight lines when they were wrinkled.

For the Postage Stamp envelopes, I used real ones. I collect stamps as well and had a bundle of envelops with old stamps still in them. I printed out my own postage stamps designs from my new series and put some in a couple of envelopes  and placed them on top of the piles to make them look more authentic. I then tied the bundles with brown waxed cording.

Altered Postage Domino Pendants
I know jewellery is not usually part of a part of a writing set but  I tend to throw everything on my desks so thought why not; besides I have a humongous collection of old and used dominoes just waiting to be turned into some kind of wonderful art and want to use them every chance I get, if for nothing else to prove to mu Hubby that I’m not just a big pat rat and things do eventually end up in my art. 

To start I used black acrylic paint to cover both dominoes. I left one plain black and splattered painted the other with red and orange which give it a mottled effect. Once they were dry I applied elements from my Asian Love Notes digital and a new Asian Bamboo digital background which will also be in my store soon.

After everything was dry I sealed them with several  of Semi-gloss Mod Podge.The black domino pendant with the red and black Asian Bamboo pattern has a silver commercial bail to run the chain through while the splattered one has a hand made bail made from coiled copper wire. Since I did not have any kind of jewellery glue, I used Glossy Accents to attach the bails.  When the Glossy Accents was set, I added a dollar store jewel to my splattered pendant.

Extras scattered around my Altered Asian writing set:
The shelves in my art room are filled with  old and unusual curiosities and mementos and I thought my writing set should also reflect my love of the eclectic.

I have had the tiny blue vase with the Asian theme for more years than I can remember and it has been sitting in a drawer since the last time we did house renovations and I though this was a good time to take it out and give it a new purpose.

 I have had the Rhinestone Hair Pick shown above since I was 13 and it comes to a sharp point at the end so I thought it would make a good faux letter opener for my set.

The Gold Dragon in the red box, is actually an earring that I got as a freebie when a local shop was going out of business.  While I was talking to the shop owner I told her all about what I do and she just gave me big bag full of the most amazing things to use in my art. When I first saw the gold dragon, I just loved it and think it makes a really nice addition to my Asian Writing set.

 The Rust colored Tassel came from the pulls of my old sealing fan. When we got a new one I saved the tassels and the blades to the old one as I knew they would come in handy eventually. I have not done anything with the blades yet but they are covered in brass and very cool and know they have potential.

Well that’s it. I hope you liked my project and hope this will inspire you to create your own writing set. If you do please leave me a note as I would love to come have a look.

My Altered Asian Writing Set is entered in the following challenges.
Altered Eclectics ... Oh My Word .. Anything Goes as long as it's not a card
Rhedd's Creative Spirit - Anything Goes Altered Art Only
Not Just Cards  …  Anything Goes
Crafting Musketeers ... #19 Anything but a Card
The Crafting Cafe ... Not a Card


Zoe said...

Wow, Chris really impressive - lots going on, love it all

Thank you for joining this week at Not Just Cards Challenges Good luck and We hope you'll join us again soon.
Zoe x
Handmade with lots of Love

Dawn Lancaster said...

What a great project! I love all the little details! Thanks for playing in the NOT a card Challenge at The Crafting Cafe this time!
Good Luck
Dawn xx

May said...

WOW...What a stunning project... the colours & fantastic elements are amazing....Beautiful work...Thank you for joining us at Altered Eclectics... Hugs May x x x

Vickie Y said...

Wow! Your project is beautiful! Thank you for sharing with us at Altered Eclectics November Challenge.

Sue Fraser said...

This is stunning!! There is a lot of work in this project and all beautifully done with such attention to detail. Thanks for sharing with us at Altered Eclectics and I look forward to seeing more projects.

Laine Kammeraad said...

Wow Chris I am totally speechless with your challenge project. You totally knocked it out of the ball park and it must feel amazing to have created the project of your dreams from a year ago. Your attention to detail is flawless. It's incredibly beautiful Chris.


Sandra Wright said...

Wow,what a fabulous project, I love it, so much attention to detail, such a lovely entry in to our challenge at Rhedd's Creative Spirit...x

Marlene Atkinson said...

A beautiful project. thank you for sharing with us at The Crafting Cafe challenge. Marlene DT

Sandra Wright said...

Hi Chris...I was certain that I had already commented on your entry,but I can't see it,so must assume it's still in cyberspace.
This is a really lovely project, the box is gorgeous and the altered dominoes are all your attention to detail...
Thank you for joining in with our challenge over at Rhedd's Creative Spirit...x

Asha said...

WOW! What a great project! How lucky we are to have you on the team. Welcome Chris!
hugs, Asha

Beccalite said...

Wow what a fantastic project, I love the colours and everything you have done. The dominos are great, such a lot of attention to detail.

Thank you so much for coming over and joining in with us at Rhedds Creative Spirit.

Great Big Huge Hugs

Becca xx (DT Member)

Melissa Latchem said...

Superb project! Many thanks for joining the Rhedd's Creative Spirit challenge and good luck!!! Melissa (DT)

Becca Cruger said...

Oh man.... I'm so excited that you made the team because I just KNOW I'm going to get a TON of inspiration from your projects. EEEP! Here's to new friendships!

Fran said...

Looks fab , thank you for joining us over at the Crafting Musketeers this month , Fran (DT) xx