Monday, 27 February 2017

The Secret Garden

Hi there and thanks for stopping by!
Well I've thoroughly enjoyed my month as guest designer with Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge. It's been an absolute privilege to feature alongside the esteemed design team and I'm very grateful to have been invited.
For this final Monday in February the new challenge theme is 'Based On A Book'. Graphic 45's beautiful 'Secret Garden' paper collection is one of my favourites so I decided to alter a wooden book box based on 'The Secret Garden' by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Here it is...

Front cover of book box

A view of the inside

A twirl to the front

Close-up of inside left

Inside right

Around to the back

Another look at the front

I'll list all of the products I used that are available from Simon Says Stamp Store at the end of the post.

Step by Step

I took some snaps with my phone as I went along to show how I made the front cover...

Wooden book box for altering.

Painted cover with a couple of thick coats of white gesso. Made some texture marks before it dried.

Added light and medium grey paints for variation.

Used a 6" x 6" Bricks Stencil and Tim Holtz Grit-Paste to make the wall. The cover measures 7.5" x 7.5" i.e. bigger than the stencil so there were 4 separate stencil placements to go through.  To give extra dimension, I stencilled 2 layers of Grit-Paste so in all there were 8 phases when I had to wait for Grit-Paste to dry. The wall was thus built over quite a few days! (Area for door to fit into was masked off).

I recently won a fab prize from Prima Marketing that included Prima Watercolor pencils in 'Earth Tones', so they had their first playtime to colour in the bricks.

Then darkened the bricks by blending distress inks over them (used Fired Brick, Vintage Photo, Tea Dye, Brushed Corduroy, Gathered Twigs, Walnut Stain).

Swabbed some white and grey paints over bricks and splattered black ink around too. The paints kept being absorbed by the media below as they dried, so added a layer of multi matte to seal.

I haven't got a 'before' shot of the door. I dry embossed some cardstock with a woodgrain folder and adhered it to a thick arch shape. Darkened and aged various metal embellishments and used a sticker from the Graphic 45 Secret Garden Deluxe Collector's Edition

Diecut some branches with Memory Box Woodland Branch die. In the end I pruned away some of these as I had covered up too much of the wall I spent a lot of time on!

Also, randomly glued around little snippets of moss.

Next, adhered some chipboard ivy trails.

Coloured the ivy with Distress Inks using Tim Holtz Watercolor Brush. (Bundled Sage and Iced Spruce inks I think).

Topped off the leaves with Glossy Accents to help them pop. (I think this was done after photo).

Affixed a rustic looking trim at side.

Showing inside of box before it was 'dressed up'. I'm a big fan of Krylon Gilding pens and used the 18kt Gold pen liberally on box (the centre panel here has been gilded).
The outer side panel of the box was stamped in black with a text stamp by Prima and then heat embossed.

Here the inside has been adorned with the beautiful Graphic 45 Secret Garden papers and other little embellishments. The deluxe collection includes some great chipboards too.

I hope you like my altered box!

Do pop over to the Simon Says Stamp Monday challenge blog to absorb all of the brilliant inspiration and education from the fantastic design team there. Why don't you have fun creating something 'Based On A Book' and enter this week's challenge.

Don't forget that every week a lucky entrant wins a generous $50 voucher to spend in store - it could be you!

Genuine thanks to all at Simon Says Stamp for placing me in their designer spotlight this month! It's been a real treat!


I used products that are available from Simon Says Stamp Store as follows:

Graphic 45 'Secret Garden' 12 x 12 Deluxe Collectors Edition. The quotes on inside left cover are cut from scraps I had from the 8 x 8 'Secret Garden' papers.

The Crafter's Workshop 6x6 Stencil 'Bricks'.

Ranger Distress Grit-Paste. Ranger Distress Inks in Ground Espresso, Fired Brick, Vintage Photo, Tea Dye, Brushed Corduroy, Gathered Twigs, Walnut Stain, Rusty Hinge.  Prima Watercolor pencils in 'Earth Tones'. Prima Marketing Mixed Media Essentials for Black and White Gesso. Paper Artsy Fresco Finish Paint in Snowflake. Ecoline liquid watercolor in Black and White. Memento Ink Espresso Truffle. Krylon Gilding Pen 18kt Gold. Ranger Glossy Accents. Ranger Archival Ink in Black. Ranger Crackle Accents.

Tim Holtz Idea-ology - Hinges and Locket Keys. Prima Metal Knobs.

Memory Box - Woodland Branch

Prima / Finnabair Texture Brushes. Dina Wakley Stiff Bristle Brushes. Ranger Blending Tool. Prima Silicone Brush. Tim Holtz Water Color Brush.

Sticky Stuff
Scotch Double Sided Foam Tape, Ranger Multi Medium Matte, Aleenes Tacky Glue


Thank-you for taking the time to visit!
Have a lovely week!
Nicola x

I wish to enter book box to the following challenges:
Mixed Media World - Anything Mixed Media Goes
Love 2 Create - Anything Mixed Media Goes
Stamps & Stencils - Texture, Crackle and Paint
A Vintage Journey - Words That Are Special
Frilly & Funkie - Out of the Cold
Allsorts Challenge - Metal and/or charms
The Ribbon Girl - Use Any Image Challenge
Creative Artiste - Anything Mixed Media Goes
4 Crafty Chicks - Stencils
Rhedd's Creative Spirit - February Challenge


  1. what a gorgeous project Nicola! the whole design of this is absolutely fabulous! I love how you decorated the front with the wall and the ivy, and then the secret garden inside, the whole design is stunning! LOVE it :-)

    thank you so much for being in the designer spotlight! It really has been so lovely to have you along with us and I have enjoyed our chats too :-) XXX wishing you all the best XXX

    Lols x x x

    1. Very many thanks Lols (and for your help outs along the way!). Nx

  2. Oh what a beautiful adventure hiding behind that gorgeous front door, dear Nicola.
    So fantastic with the ivy you created, and the brick stone wall.
    And the inside wit the wonderful papers, and your lovely details, such a wonder creation, again!!! xoxo

  3. I love this, Nicola! It looks exactly like the entrance to the garden with all the lovely ivy and the secret door.Amazing! It's been fun having you with us this month for the challenge. You're an amazing talent.

    Cathie ♥

  4. This is just totally magical Nicola, when I saw the front I just wanted to push the door to peek inside. The name of the G45 collection (still one of my favourties) sums this super project up to a tee.

    Thanks so much for sharing with us at Allsorts challenge this week.

    B x

  5. Awesome project, Nicola! I love how you put the secret garden inside the book. The cover is so cool with the brick wall, and then to see the sweet scene you created inside, it's like reading the book all over again! It's been wonderful having you with us this month!! hugs, Maura

  6. Oh my goodness, Nicola, this is spectacular!! The cover is amazing!! I loved the step-by-step photos showing how it came together!! The ivy is so gorgeous!! The inside is stunning, too!! Wow!! What a creative, fabulous project this is!! I absolutely love it!! Have a great day!! Big hugs :)

    A Mermaid's Crafts

  7. Oh this garden of yours is really secret! I wouldn't expect there are so many details inside. The cover is fabulous, I love the bricks and the greenery, amazing texture! Hugs, Marzena

  8. OMG! This is really spectacular! I love, love, LOVE the way you colored the bricks and added the leaves. Really creative!

  9. The inside of you secret garden is beautiful, but for me it is the outside that is truly fantastic, I just love how you built up those bricks and the colouring is superb. The ivy looks so realistic and the little door is beautiful - it reminds me of a fairy door into a secret garden. A great challenge and your interpretation of it is brilliant! Hugs, Anne xx

  10. Hello lovely to see you entering this months challenge at Rhedd's Creative Spirit.
    I have always loved your work and this Book Box is just stunning..hope to see you again soon..x

  11. Hi Nicola, this is stunning. The finish to the bricks on the cover is amazing, not to mention all the gorgeous little details you added. The little wooden fairy door looks so realistic. Loved the process pictures, thanks for sharing. The whole box is fabulous.
    Avril xx

  12. Gorgeous! I love this book box, and I can't believe the ivy is die-cut! just fabulous! Thank you for entering your project at Rhedd’s Creative Spirit. Sammy-x

  13. Thanks for entering our challenge at Allsorts Tracy x

  14. Wow! This is fantastic! Thank you for sharing! Aloha!

  15. Nicola! This is totally stunning! LOVE the brick wall and ivory! Bravo!

    Simon Says Stamp!

  16. And a beautiful secret garden it is! Lovely texture on your entrance to the garden and beautiful surprise inside. Thanks for playing along with us at Frilly and Funkie "out of the cold" challenge!

  17. !!!! All of that empty space is me being speechless! I love your altered book box down to every tiny yet magnificent detail. I adore the book that inspired this gorgeous creation (it inspires many of my own!). The effect you've achieved is stunning, Nicola. Thank you so much for joining us over at the Frilly and Funkie Challenge!

  18. So cool that we were inspired by the same amazing book and you're altered book is amazing! Wow! So pretty! So many details, like the bricks the door and the ivy! And the inside is gorgeous too! So happy you were our GD this month! Hugs, Sandra

  19. This is just absolutely stunning! Congratulations on being a guest designer this month, I have loved seeing your beautiful creations and this one is truly exceptional. Lou x

  20. What an amazing project Nicola! I adore the rounded door and gorgeous layers of ivy paired with this gorgeous paper line. Lovely! Hugs, Autumn

  21. I agree, wonderful paper collection and you have used it so beautifully. Love your book with all the lovely details. Thanks for joining our challenge at A Vintage Journey.

  22. This is absolutely glorious, Nicola - the inside with all those lovely papers is charming, but it's your amazing textured wall - so brilliantly layered and weathered and with ivy clambering across it - and the wooden door which really light my fire. Beautiful finale to your fabulous month with SSS - congratulations and bravo!
    Alison x

  23. A stunning box Nicola! The front, with all that texture is pure magic, and the insides with those beautiful papers looks wonderful too. Practical and beautiful! Great design!!

  24. Absolutely stunning box Nicola! The cover is so amazing, love the secret door in the tree concept! The inside is beautiful, your Graphic 45 papers are just lovely! Amazing project! hugs :)

  25. Fabulous box book Nicola! I love the brick work with those layered colours. It definitely looks inviting ! Thankyou for joining us over at Stamps and Stencils Toni x

  26. What an incredible transformation! I loved seeing it some together one step at a time. It's been an absolute joy to have had you be our Guest Designer and I can't wait to continue to keep an eye on your geniusness!

  27. What a wonderful project! Love your step by step, so interesting! Your work is fantastic inside and the cover is absolutely perfect! love so much every detail! Fab! It has been a pleasure to have you with us this month!Barbara

  28. What an amazing project...this is just wonderful Nicola and there is so much detail and so much work on the inside and out! Stunning, stunning work as always!!

    It's been an absolute pleasure and joy to have you as our GD this month and I've really enjoyed working alongside you and seeing all your wonderful projects! xxx

  29. Wow! This is superb. So pretty and so perfectly done. 

  30. Wow... this is such a stunning creation, Nicola. Love all the gorgeous details and the beautiful texture you created on this piece. Great design! :)

  31. this is a stunning project perfect for one of my favourite childhood's been an absolute pleasure having you on the team...hugs kath xxx

  32. Wow, this is so beautiful!! Look at all those amazing details, it really is like a secret garden. Perfect! Thank you for the absolutely beautiful projects you have done this month when you were our guest designer. I am so happy you were our guest and enjoyed looking at all your creations.

  33. Wow!!!! Totally fabulous project!! The bricks look amazing!!!

  34. Huge congratulations on your GD spot at SSS Nicola xx today's post is absolutely stunning with amazing details both outside and within. You have showcased the papers so well x
    Sorry for my lack of visits of late life has been a bit busy xx
    Sending my best wishes
    Annie x

  35. Very nice creation! Tyhank you for the tutorial and for playing along with Mixed Media World!

  36. Hi Nicola. Would you please excuse me of being so late in writing my comment. So sorry. This is so so beautiful, the door to a secret garden one has in his sweetest dreams. I'm so fond of this one Nicola, an absolute beauty, both the outside which makes us dream... and the wonderful inside. It's something I could look at to during minutes, would love to have one like that. You propose here something full of delicacy, wonder, fantasy, full of light and flowers and the little girl is so adorable.
    Your whole creation reminded me of this beautiful film called "the secret garden", with Maggy Smith, maybe you know it too. And it's so interesting to see your work "in progress", coming to life. Thank you for sharing this too.
    Well, no more words to express my admiration, thank you to you ! Have a nice week Nicola xxxx

  37. this is so amazing! Every stinking detail is so over the top clever! Outstanding work!

  38. Oh my word, that cover makes me want to open that door! I LOVE the bricks and all the foliage everywhere...a grand entrance to the inside. LOVE the papers!


Thank-you! Your visit and comment is very much appreciated. Nicola x