Tuesday, July 1, 2014

CC3C - Challenge 5 - Distress Watercolor Circus

I am participating in the Compendium of Curiosities III Challenge on the Studio L3 blog by Linda Ledbetter.  Challenge 5 focuses on the distress watercolor technique found on page 39 of Compendium of Curiosities 3 by Tim Holtz. Challenge 5 is sponsored by Inspiration Emporium, and also by Mario Rossi and Tim Holtz!

I have been learning a lot participating in all of the 5 challenges so far. I had fun completing my Tim Holtz 12 tags of 2014 June tag where I used a circus theme, so I decided to continue the circus theme for this challenge using the distress watercolor technique on each side of the project. It's kind of a circus train-cart-trailer-monument!

The project base is a wooden cube with a round paper mache box lid as the elephant platform. I used the Tim Holtz circle stencil watercolor monoprint technique to make the curtains. I watercolored the steampunk circus ringmaster from my Oxford Impressions Circus stamp set. I also watercolored the words "Life is a Circus". The elephant is a plastic toy that I painted with Modern Masters Copper reactive paint, then while the final coat is still wet, I used the blue patina solution. I made a propeller for the elephant hat out of a pin, beads and a metal propeller embellishment. It spins!

Recognize the Tim Holtz ribbon flags strip die around the elephant platform?Also I made some polymer clay gears for the top of the elephant platform that the elephant is standing on. I'm thinking I'll add some fancy elephant saddle or elephant jewels later. I can never leave the projects alone.

Here's more watercolor on the side.The clown boy, and the dog with juggling balls are water-colored. The poster is distress inked. See the elephant riding 2 bicycles.

Here's another curtain on the other side. I saw this effect in the latest July "Craft Stampers" magazine. The trapeze girl, circus banner, and "Send in the Clowns" are from the Oxford impressions circus stamp set. I have 2 of the circus stamp sets! The monkey is a free graphic from the internet.

Sorry elephant for the unflattering view of this side of the big top cube. The scary lion is an "Industrial Chic" jewelry finding by Susan L. Kazmer! I love the "Industrial Chic" charms! I usually find them at Michaels. The moonface headlights are polymer clay from a mold of various "suns" by Maureen Carlson.The words "Big Top" are watercolored. I have an old polymer clay book Fimo Folk by Maureen Carson where I made a entire witch out of polymer clay. I haven't finished it yet. I started it probably while most of you were in junior high.

I used Tim Holtz gears on the blocks to look like wheels. I was going to use the tim holtz wheels, but it made the circus too tall with the elephant...and the hat...and the propeller!

So I had fun with the watercolors. Perhaps I got a little carried away on this one, just perhaps, but then I just starting playing with stuff and before you know it, I was ready to make a whole circus village. Maybe I'll continue making a few more during some future challenges.

I have had the circus on the mind lately as I've recently found that I am related to the P.T. Barnum "Fat Lady" who was with the circus for 22 years during the 1880-1890's. Crazy huh? She not only was the "Fat Lady" but also learned to be a snake charmer who handled rattlesnakes in her act. (You gotta have a back-up plan in case you lose some weight...gotta learn a trade...like snake-charming.)

So some years back we found an old letter in a box that used to belong to my grandma where my great-great-grandfather mentioned his sister was the largest woman in America at that time which was weird. I researched this a little and couldn't find any info on my great-great-grandfather's large sister. All of my relatives I know on that side are pretty skinny so I though maybe it was one of those untrue family legends. After some research I realized my great-great-grantfather's mother had passed away during the birth of her 11th child, and he remarried and had several more children and she was one of those children. Apparently she took off as a teenager and joined a circus before hitting the big time in the P.T. Barnum circus. Once I found out her name, I found her stage names, then I found some photos and more about her history.

So here's my great-great-great aunt "Lottie Grant" (stage name). Her real name is Elizabeth Charlotte Stice. You go girl! Charm those snakes!
Turns out she married 3 or 4 times, but her husbands kept dying tragically in circus related accidents, and she had 4 children. She died at age 45 from a heart condition, but she certainly lived her life to the fullest and enjoyed the limelight.

Here is a little history and bio on her.

It's just crazy!

You never know what you are going to find when you do family history!!!


  1. Vic....this is AMAZING! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your circus elephant tribute! WOW! There is so much to see here. I love vintage and dimensional pieces and I love detail! You have combined everything into this piece! Your water colored panels look fantastic! This took alot of time to create and I so appreciate that aspect in creating entries for our challenge! Job well done! Thanks for sharing your always amazing art with us at CC3C. <3 Candy

  2. Your creations have been knocking my socks off! This grungy circus ATB is AMAZING!!! Love the elephant addition! The watercoloring is great! Thanks so much for joining us on this painty challenge here at CC3Challenge!!

  3. I LOVE your wonderful circus elephant and wagon! what great vintage images and pieces! The elephant looks great in those paints - I need to find me some of those!!! and what a great piece of history and family you discovered!

  4. I just found your blog through Linda Ledbetter, and I am absolutely in LOVE with your art! I did a quick browse through your past posts and was wowed by every one. Tonight when I have more time, I'll settle down with a cup of tea and really take the time to peruse your blog so I can fully enjoy each project.

  5. I, too, just discovered your site and love looking at your art work! The colors are gorgeous.

  6. Thanks so much for the kind words. You have no idea. I'm going through some tough times this year. The creativity saves me, and your kind words bring me joy. Some day I will explain, but for now I will hang on, keep making more stuff, and be inspired by the beautiful things you all create!

  7. OMG--What a fabulous and ornate and vintage circus tribute, Vic! So worth the win over at CC3!! And what an awesome family history you have!! Thanks for sharing that piece of your family story--it's fabulous and interesting!! Congrats!! XOXO-Shari T. (whatever is going on in your life, just hang in there! I think people would be amazed at the happiness we present in our blogs, when our lives in the background are in completely turmoil!--I'm possibly right there with you!) XOXO-Shari T.

  8. I just saw this. WOW, what an amazing project and how fun to find out some interesting family history. =)


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