Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Anything but Cute Challenge # 12--Earth Day

Hello, friends!  Today marks the first day of our new challenge over at Anything But Cute where the theme is "Earth Day" chosen by the one and only, very talented Samra of Paper Talk With Samra.  Before I give you the details of the challenge I'd like to show you how I was inspired by Samra's mood board. I never made a project where the vision I had turns into reality, but this one did! I'm excited to show you my fantasy tree stump!

Here's what Samra has to say about her challenge theme: Create a mixed media project inspired by this mood board and the beauty of our planet. Please tell us what inspired you. Entries for this challenge can be echo friendly, or even recycled/upcycled items; or depiction of the sea, mountain, river, forest, flowery meadow…let’s celebrate our planet!

I was inspired by the gorgeous blue tones of the butterfly, the mushroom, and those beautiful flowers. Those pastures reminded me of  a bed of soft moss, and I got a sense of nature tinged with fantasy from her mood board. Samra's words about being eco-friendly prompted me to use a few recylced items.

My tree stump started off as a lowly piece of pantry-staple waste.  Actually, I had to pour the breadcrumbs into another container, so I could use this cardboard canister. It was the perfect size for what I had in mind.  If you wish to see the ugly details of how this transformed, I've taken at few photos of the process, and you can scroll down to see them.

Let's start our tour of my rotted tree stump at the top where we find a butterfly sniffing out a couple of fantasy blossoms.  The butterfly (Rubber Stampede) was stamped on vellum with Staz-On ink and colored with Perfect Pearls powders, then fussy cut. 

I love how the sun shines through his delicate wings.

A little knot in the stump.  Looks intriguing!

The tiny blossoms are Tim Holtz Tiny Tattered Florals on card sprayed with Mermaid Lagoon Distress spray.  This is my first time using this die set and the spray. Love them both!

A trio of tiny fantasy mushrooms spring up from a root. These are hand made from paper clay and colored with Mermaid Lagoon and Mowed Lawn  Distress inks. You'll notice moss around the bottom of the roots.  That was a fun part of making this and grounds the roots.

An aerial shot looking down into the hollow of the stump...I wonder what lives in there?  Want to stick your head in there and find out?

Wait for it!

 No, it's not a chipmunk!  It's a little squirrel!  I made this in honor of Pamellia's lovely Dianna, who sadly did not make it to see the spring.  I can't tell you how that upset me, and I was inspired to make a little shrine for her. Pamellia, I hope you like it, and you will forgive my "cute" little girl. She is sculpted from paper clay and painted with various paints and markers to high light her eyes. She's shy at first , but then comes out a little to check out her new home and surroundings.

Now for the technicals... I cut my cardboard canister down to size and added a ring of cardboard to support the top. Here's the rough cut, and the ring is glued and drying. This was about a month ago--  this was a slow process project.  I later realized I wanted it to be a tree which died from natural causes and not one that was chopped down,  so I added back some cardboard to make  the top uneven, as if the tree had fallen. I can not bear to see trees chopped down.

The inside is smoothed with paper and modpodge  (I used the kraft wrap from an order from Frilly and Funkie torn into pieces).  This serves two purposes--it adds stability and makes it able to be painted, since the cardboard is wax coated. Next, but not shown, because I thought I took a photo but obviously didn't, I added tons of aluminum foil (recycled thanks to Flaming Amy's Burrito Barn) to shape the roots and to add texture to the sides (just on the outer surface). This was attached with hot glue, and done with much patience and a few burnt fingers.

Next, I added masking tape over the foil, wrinkling it a little, so there is more "bark" texture.  I followed this with more waste kraft paper, wrinkling as I went for yet more bark texture. This also added stability to the roots, which, while just foil, were quite wobbly.

Then it gets really ugly as I wipe on random swatches of crackle texture paste. And then, as if by magic, paint layers are added until I was happy with the color.  And believe me this took awhile, because I'm not easy to please. I used browns, greys, sand color, greens and black acrylic paints in many brands.  I also added texture paint in brown, but went over it in green to simulate moss and algae.

At this point, I took it outside to be sure my colors were fitting to nature.I kept hearing from my family, "it's too dark", "it doesn't look like bark", "it's too light", "too brown", "not enough brown"!

Finally, I added three types of craft moss. I went as far as drying some moss from my garden, but I live in fear of bugs, so back out into the yard it went. You may spot some hot glue spider webs--these were left intentionally.

Here's another look at my tree stump home for my little squirrel. Yes, one of my flowers got knocked  off during the photo shoot--you are observant!.  I hope you are also inspired to join in Samra's Earth Day challenge this month! Samra will be choosing a winner and her favorite, and the team will each choose a favorite.

I added this picture with a quarter, so you can get an idea of the scale.

I would like to enter this into the following inspiring challenges:
Creative Artiste Challenge 13
Emerald Creek Dares Easter Parade I associate the colors in my mushrooms, my flowers and moss to those seen around Easter time
Die Cut Divas-Project associated with April I chose spring!  Die cut: Tiny Tattered Florals by Sizzix
Mixed Media Mojo April Fun Recycle-Use Metal you can't see my metal--it's the foil I used around the outside to make my roots and bark.  Sorry, I didn't get a shot of that. Recycled bread crumb cannister, aluminum foil, and  kraft wrapping paper from my craft order.
A Vintage Journey #40 Spring is in the Air I hope I made mine pastel-y enough!  I thought my flowers, mushrooms and butterfly might fit the bill.
Rhedd's Creative Spiirt April Anything Goes Mixed Media or Altered Art It's been a long time since I've played along here, but I saw Rupa is hosting, and I knew she would appreciate my entry!

Thank you for suffering through my extremely long post today.  I appreciate your visits and all your lovely comments!  I read and appreciate each and every one of them!
Hugs and Blessings!
Sara Emily
Yippeee! So honored!

Diva's choice!


  1. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!!! Sara Emily!!!! Holly Cannoli!!! I am blown away by this amazing sculpture!!! Have you ever seen the movie Amelie? There is a garden gnome that is sending post cards from different places and your amazing tree trunk having pictures taken with different backgrounds reminded me of that amazing movie. Just funny and amazingly beautiful stuff....The little squirrel is amazing ode to Pamellia's little visitors! Ha, Ha, Ha, LOOOOVE IT!!! Wow Sara Emily, I usually try to make my comments short and sweet, but this make deserves a novel!!!
    I am just in love with it!!! Your creativity is simply mind blowing!
    Thank you my friend for putting so much work and thought into this.
    Paper Talk with Samra

  2. Oh my!! Sara my jaw is dropped and I am sitting here open mouthed. This is fabulous, awesome, brilliant, I have no words huni! I want to make one buthave no idea how, awesome artistic and clever art Karen xx

  3. GOSH! The quarter really puts this in prospective, it looks so much bigger in the pics. Sara Emily, I just want to say I love your heart and you've brought tears to my eyes today, not just with this sweet gesture of love and respect for the earth, but with your overflowing love and compassion to a dear friend whose heart is hurting. Awe girl, I love this and when I saw it posted on Pamellia's blog sidebar, I just felt such a sweet kindredness between the two of you that made my heart oh so happy. As for the layers of bark, how unbelievably cool! The gorgeous fantasy flowers and butterfly really bring this to life. And your hand sculpted squirrel is the coolest thing! Seriously, you should continue sculpting embellies for your projects. That would really set you apart - so artistic!!! Big hugs today, Autumn

  4. Oooooooooh, woooooooow, Sara, my dear, I am afraid that my English is not good enough to express how much I adore your magical sculpture! You really nailed Samra's challenge theme! It's the most beautiful mixed media sculpture I've ever seen and I am completely blown away by this masterpiece of art! A big round applause for this exquisite piece! Bravooooo!
    Lots of love to you! Branka xx

  5. Sara.....oh my word! This is utterly AMAZING! I am so glad that you shared the making of the rotted out tree stump. I would never have appreciated all of those steps without your pictures and explanations. This is just a true creative work of art, girl. Everything looks so realistic. Having that quarter there really does make one realize the amount of detail for a relatively small space. Wow! Your paper clay sculptures are amazing. The little delicate flowers and mushrooms....adorable! Love the various mosses, too. That really completes this beautiful and natural look. LOVE IT!!!

  6. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Its amazing, so lifelike- it must have taken hours to create ...its beautiful and you should be very proud of it
    Thanks for entering it at Craft for the Craic
    Pixie (DT Member)

  7. All I want to say has already been said! This is so freakin' FANTASTIC. I wish I had your creativity. I also love all the recycling you put into this project. Thank you, thank you, for entering this at Die Cut Diva's!

  8. Breathtaking! Fantastic! I love this fairy tree stump and its cute inhabitant. Congratulations for the work and thanks for the step by step.

  9. I love this, and you are amazing making such detail out of paper, glue and our amazing talent.

  10. WOOOOOOW!!!!! I love it what an amazing idea !!!! Congratulations on an awesome creation!!
    thanks for joining us at
    Kerry DT

  11. Well - donno if I can even type Sara.... I have tears streaming down my face. This is just the sweetest, most precious, and completely heartwarming project EVER.... for Diana. And you made her JUST like Diana too - tiny, shy, and the right colors. You are SUCH a precious friend to do that. And in the process of blessing Pamellia with Diana's memory - you blessed so many of the rest of us who miss Diana too. Thank you so so so much for this special tribute. You are just seriously one of the most special people I have ever met Sara.

    And your project is BEYOND FABULOUS. How anyone can take a bread crumb container and totally make it look completely like a tree trunk is beyond me. I am just AWED. It's just a lovely creation in every way but even the wonder of the creativity that you achieved cannot top the fullness of joy that you brought to my heart dear girl. XXj.

  12. Well, Sara Emily, I think this is just about the most amazing thing I've ever seen!! Oh my good grief, it looks so real!! WowOhWowOhWow, this is spectacular!! I've been studying the pictures for the last twenty minutes!! If you hadn't shown the process, I would swear you went into the woods and snagged this!! I am just completely blown away!! I don't even know what to say!! And when you added the little Diana...tears!! What a sweet gesture for Pamellia!! The details are just perfect from the tiny mushrooms to the gorgeous butterfly!! Truly one of the most amazing projects I've ever seen!! Did I mention that I love, love this??!! Have a great day!! Big hugs :)

    A Mermaid's Crafts

  13. If you had not provided some shots of how the tree stump was made I would have figured this was an April Fool's joke for sure because it is sooooooo realistic looking. Your little squirrel is well done and a fun surprise. Blue mushrooms are super pretty but would have me thinking twice about even touching them. All in all, a phenomenal project.

  14. OH MY GOODNESS - SARA EMILY!!! I cannot believe you made this stump - it's really something you found dying in your yard right??!! perfect colors, perfect shape, perfect barkiness - what a wonderful project! I'm sure Pamellia is treasuring this!!! well done girl!!! Julia xx

  15. Hot diggity dang dearie! This turned out even better than I imagined! Love all the process shots and the feedback from your family. Hehe! That butterfly looks so ethereal and beautiful! This stump and Diana are so social and heartwarming. It reminds me of a poem by
    Johnny Ray Ryder Jr titled The Oak Tree:

    A mighty wind blew night and day
    It stole the oak tree's leaves away
    Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
    Until the oak was tired and stark

    But still the oak tree held its ground
    While other trees fell all around
    The weary wind gave up and spoke.
    How can you still be standing Oak?

    The oak tree said, I know that you
    Can break each branch of mine in two
    Carry every leaf away
    Shake my limbs, and make me sway

    But I have roots stretched in the earth
    Growing stronger since my birth
    You'll never touch them, for you see
    They are the deepest part of me

    Until today, I wasn't sure
    Of just how much I could endure
    But now I've found, with thanks to you
    I'm stronger than I ever knew

    We never know how strong we are until we have to be strong. Hugz to you muffin! ~Punkin

  16. Wow!!!!! Sara Emily this is out of this world delightful!!! You have completely overwhelmed me with your talent and skill. Your vision is marvelous and the time and talent it took to make it come to fruition. A wonderful shrine Sugar that makes the heart smile.
    sandy xx

  17. WOW, WOW, WOW!!! Sara Emily, I read your entire blog and still can't believe you made a tree stump out of a bread crumb canister! I have a container of bread crumbs in my pantry right now, and I keep looking at it, but I don't see a tree stump when I look at it!!! However did you think of this and execute it amazes me, and again, I read your post! Still can't believe it! I always take a quick glance before reading posts and when I saw your tree stump pics, I thought where did she find that cool tree stump? Thought you bought it! That was sweet of you to do a tribute for your friend and you did a great job on the squirrel. Just amazing!!

  18. I also love your flowers and that gorgeous butterfly!

  19. WOWZERS! This is absolutely amazing! So REALISTIC!

  20. My head hurts. I keep reading to see A) how you actually made this because my eyes aren't computing what hey are seeing and B) total amazement and astonishment! you really are a magnificent person with amazing talent. Gigantic hugs and a High 5 for the creative and exciting project.

  21. Oh wow, wow, wow Sara, this is utterly amazing, what a superb outcome for all your hard work in creating this and looking for perfection, which you achieved magnificently. Your fantastic creative mind has taken 3D and sculpture to a new level and I had to pin that absolutely adorable butterfly. Love everything about this xxx

  22. Sara, I am almost speechless, your tree stump is amazing - YOU are amazing! This truly is a beautiful work of art - astonishingly realistic. I can see that every detail was added with love and care and what a result! You really are a creative genius, the butterfly and delicate flower is such a lovely touch, so delicate against the knarly bark, the moss was a clever addition. And then, of course, there is the beautiful Diana, such a wonderful and thoughtful addition - Diana is now immortalised in a beautiful piece of art! I think Pamellia will be very touched indeed.

    I also love Niki's poem, I have not heard of that one but it suits this stunning tree trunk beautifully!

    Hugs, Anne xx

  23. I'm not sure where to start my friend! This is by far the most realistic wood effect that I have ever seen, I mean holy cow...I barely even believed that you made this, that's how real it looks!! All the moss and that gorgeous butterfly! WOW!! Genius idea to photograph it outside, really adds to the realism. Of course my favourite part is Dianna. She is just so beautiful, I can't thank you enough to building her a wonderful home!! You have touched my heart with this post so much. Your house now has a permanent home in my side bar right underneath Dianna, so she can easily find her way home, even in the snow. Big hugs my friend :)

  24. This is amazing, your tree is so realistic and wonderful I love it !!! I don't know what the size of a quarter is, but I am guessing that it is quite small.

    What a truly wonderful heartfelt gift to create for your friend.

    Thank you for sharing it with us at Mixed Media Mojo

    Good luck in your challenges.

  25. Wowzers! This is absolutely amazing!!! The "bark" looks so realistic and then with the added moss it just comes to life. I love your wee squirrel - he looks quite content is his new home. Thanks so much for sharing it with us at Emerlad Creek Dares.

  26. I was so enthralled with your gorgeous project I forgot to say thank you for joining in our Spring is in the Air challenge at A Vintage Journey. Hugs, Anne xx

  27. All I can say is WOW!! I always enjoy your posts and this one is certainly no exception. What a lot of work but so worth it with the results. Thank you so much for sharing with us here at A Vintage Journey.

  28. Sara Emily - you never fail to amaze and astound with your creative and giving spirit! I absolutely cannot believe how small this is compared to how it looks, and how realistic it is. I am with Marty - bread crumb container, what??! And bless you for giving Dianna a wonderful place to be forever.... it surely comforts a lot of people who followed her exploits on Pamellia's blog. xxx Lynn

  29. Wow this is amazing, all the work you have put into your creation. It is just so cute, love love
    thanks for joining our challenge over at
    Debbie Dt

  30. Holy S...COW!!! This is just absolutely incredible Sara!!
    I first thought, and I truly mean this, that you were photographing a stump in your yard with your made flowers and squirrel!
    Then as I read on, I flew through the photos to see if you "actually did make this" heeheee You have totally knocked me over- this is out of this world! I have said it before, your talent knows no bounds- you should be teaching my friend!! huge hugs,Jackie xx

  31. Suffer through your post?? It is pure delight to read about something this beautiful being created. And with the little squirrel - what a lovely touch. Thank you for sharing your work this way.

  32. Wowzers! That is so earthy and beautiful! What a clever clever design and so realistic! Fabulous!

  33. WOW, it's breathtaking in all its detailing! Your sculpting abilities are truly amazing, both in the very realistic tree stump and the cute little squirrel. Blessings!

  34. what an imagination you have sara.Breathtakingly beautiful!!!!

  35. I am in absolute awe Sara Emily...this is mind blowing and utterly fantastic. Thanks for showing how you created this work of art and for showing the scale. Love where your creativity took you and I'm sure that Pamellia is loving your tribute to sweet Diana.

  36. What an insanely brilliant creation, Sara Emily - your tree trunk is sensational, and all the springtime additions bring it to wonderful life! Magical!
    Alison x

  37. What an awesome project. Incredible.

    So glad you joined us at Die Cut Divas.

  38. This is a breathtaking project Sara Emily! WOWSER !
    Thanks for sharing it with us over at Mixed Media Mojo.

  39. Wow! Positively almost speechless! The size, the details, so fitting for this awesome challenge! I must get a move on while I am inspired :) Thanks for sharing with us at Rhedd's Creative Spirit this month! Nanette, DT

  40. Wow! This is amazing, so incredibly detailed. Love it! Thank you for entering your project at Rhedd’s Creative Spirit. Sammy-x

  41. WOW!!! This is totally adorable and charming, I love it!!! And so well done for the trunk!!! I'm in awe, you made really a great detailed work... perfect and so realistic!
    Simply an amazing creation Sara emily! So happy to have found a bit of time to hop over at your blog too tonight!! :)
    Hugs! Coco x

  42. Sara you have left me totally and utterly speechless with this absolutely SUPERB creation. Mesmerising! Your attention to detail and execution is beyond profound.
    Thank you so much for sharing and kinda goes with out saying realy - inspiring and thank you too for sharing this with us at A Vintage Journey .

  43. Ana amazing creation Sara, your tree looks so very real, well done! Thank you for joining us at Mixed Media Mojo this month, Deb xo

  44. Wow!!! This is amazing, thank you for sharing it with us at Mixed Media Mojo, I love it.
    xxx Hazel.

  45. wow what an amazing project
    thanks for joining us at Mixed Media Mojo

    Barb Housner (DT)

  46. oh my word - this is amazing - I thought it was real - wow - brilliant - Thanks for joining us at CVC this month and good luck! Hugs Rachel x

  47. Wow wow wow! That is so very cool!!! What a fantastic job! Thanks so much for playing along with us at Mixed Media Mojo!

  48. Popping back to say congratulations on being our Mixed Media Diva at Mixed Media Mojo this month Sara, wonderful project! Deb xo

  49. A fabulously realistic tree stump Sara and a wonderful homage to Dianna - she looks so adorable here in her new home. Your bark is just amazing and I love the pops of vibrant colour from the flowers and mushrooms. The moss and butterfly are brilliant, they finish this truly tactile project perfectly.
    Thank you for sharing this in the April challenge "Anything Goes" at Creative Artiste Mixed Media and good luck x

  50. Hi Sara,
    Congratulations again on your well deserved win at Mixed Media Mojo ! Could you please email me gillslap AT yahoo.co.uk about your Guest Designer Spot.

  51. Ooooh, this fantastic piece of art really deserved to win at Mixed Media Mojo! Big congratulations, my dear Sara!
    Congratulations on you Top 3 at AVJ, as well!
    Sara, I am not surprised because it's an unbelievably stunning piece of art! Big hugs to you! Branka xx


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