Welcome to my blog

I hope you enjoy reading my posts, and please leave me a comment. I always enjoy reading them, and will try to visit you in return.

You are welcome to copy any of my designs, as long as you do not take credit for them yourself. I am very happy for you to sell them. If I have used anyone else's design, I always try to give credit where it is due. If I have missed anything, please let me know and I will put things right.

This is intended to be mainly about my crafting stories, as a personal record of what I do. However, I interpret crafting quite widely, not just paper crafting but other things too. I have a butterfly mind and like to change from one thing to another depending on what I feel like on a given day - knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, cards, baking and several others.

Probably my favourite craft right now is with parchment, both traditional skills and Groovi, very relaxing and calming to do.

Friday, 22 March 2019

NEC Postscript

I did intend to show these photos yesterday with the rest of the NEC shots, but decided against it s that post was already a marathon.  Not too many here, just a few of Linda Williams running one of the free Groovi Make and Take sessions for Clarity.  They were very popular, as always, and fully booked very early each day.

It was good to see so many new people trying the craft for the first time, some looking very doubtful to begin with.

From what I saw, everyone really enjoyed themselves, and several went off to the stand afterwards to set themselves up with the Starter Kit, the best way to go to begin with.

No more NEC photos to come.  Promise!

There was one person on the Clarity stand that I completely forgot to take pictures of and that is the lovely Lou Withers.  I think I was too busy talking to her and watching her build up the layers on her work, mainly using the Viva Decor paints and pastes.  Really fascinating.  Thanks for all your tips, Lou.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

NEC in Pictures

I normally do two days at the NEC craft shows.  This time I had intended to do all four to allow time to do more workshops,   That did not quite work as the big art section I was expecting was not there - boo, hiss!  However, I did do three of the four days and thoroughly enjoyed myself, meeting up with old friends and making new ones, and took lots of photos of anything to do with the Clarity stand, which was HUGE, and several of what was happening on the Hochanda stage.

WARNING - this post is very photo heavy.  You may not want to read all I have written but you can get the idea from just scanning the pics.

The first group are of the enormous Clarity stand.  One of the questions in the first of the Clarity shows on Hochanda was "how long was the stand".  If you want to know that answer, just watch Barbara's show on the Thursday.  Let's put it this way, it was a long way from Barbara at one end to Paul at the other.

 Here is Paul, doing his stuff, answering questions, showing just how good the Groovi system is, and encouraging new people to have a go.  Paul may not have mastered all the advanced techniques yet, but he is the ideal person to encourage people to believe they can succeed.

 As you can see from the next few shots, the stand was long.  The other thing that struck me was that the NEC seems to have listened to us as customers, and the aisles are a bit wider.  Even on a busy day, I was able to turn my buggy relatively easily wherever I wanted, which is a welcome novelty.  Now, we just need them to realise that numbers attending these shows will continue to drop off, due to the cost of the car parks.

 Last November, they hiked the cost for the day from £12 to £16.  Yes, if you knew about it and remembered to do it, you could keep it at £12 by booking online the night before.  However, there were already a lot of people I know who had decided not to go to the show and buy their goodies online.

Dropping the price of parking would bring a much greater footfall, better for the exhibitors and the concessions too, the food outlets etc.

Dropping the extortionate cost to the exhibitors would bring back a lot of the smaller stands too, the ones who have gradually disappeared over the years.

A nice shot of Hazel Edwards, filling in for Barbara while she was up at the Hochanda stand.

Taking photos of the stage at Hochanda is always tricky as, of course, there are several cameras required to capture the action, but I did get the odd one or two.  This first group is from the Thursday.

 What a lovely lady Leonie Pujol is.  Bright and bubbly, but totally professional.  A great addition to the Clarity design team.
 Didn't that outfit suit Barb, such a beautiful colour.

 It was hard to grab a clear shot, without all the cameras ding their job.

The standard of the camerawork was brilliant, especially with the crisp, steady, close up shots.
 As always, Barbara and Leonie make such a good team, fun, chatty, but both very professional and dedicated to their job.

This couple came out of the audience because they had  written and performed, on Facebook, a song supporting Hochanda.  It is out there ify ou want to watch and listen to it.

 This final shot from Thursday is of John, who kept us all well supplied with lollies, cola bottles and jelly babies.


These are all from Linda Williams' show with the new/old perforating tools.

 You might just be able to pick out the lovely
 Glynis Whitehead with her back to us sitting in the centre.

This is very much the view the live audience gets most of the time, but it is interesting to see how they put the programmes together.  However, there are two large monitors for us to see the close up work.

Linda was worried about how she could make the business of making holes in parchment look interesting, while she was demoing the new set of tools. 

She need not have worried, as the audience was enthralled.


 Not so many pics from the final day on Sunday, just a few of Paul's show with the Fresh Cut dies.

Here is Leonie, warming up the audience.

The final two shots, with Paul doing his stuff with the dies.

I hope you have enjoyed this little trip with me and have not gone to sleep on the way.  If you did go to sleep, I hope you had a good snooze to gather your energies to get stuck into some crafting of your own.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

WOYWW 511 - NEC goodies

I intended to be very restrained with my buying at the NEC last week.  It sort of worked but then fell apart when I ventured into the sewing section to look at the crocheted animals.  That meant passing the cheese stall, or should I say, stopping at the cheese stall.  Twelve different flavours to try.  They were delicious and, of course, some had to come home with me.

Most of my crafty purchases were from my two favourite companies, Derwent and Clarity Stamp.  You can see the stencils which Barbara Gray demoed on Hochanda live at the show.  The samples were so inspiring that I could not resist.

I was actually on tv on the Friday and Sunday, answering questions to win two beautiful cards.  The first one was from Linda Williams, one of only two parchment Master Tutors in the world.  As you can see, it is a stunning piece of work, so delicate, and I will treasure it.

The second was the very last from Paul Church's show, demoing the Clarity Fresh Cut Dies, with the question being posed by the bubbly Leonie Pujol.  I was not going to put my hand up for that, having already won one card, but no-one else even attempted to answer, so, in the end, I put my hand up.

They are fabulous dies and so adaptable.

I did bring a third card home which was from the Groovi Make and Take, which is the centre one in this group.

If you are still reading this, you might be interested in what other crafters are doing today in the What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday (WOYWW).  If you follow this link, Julia's Stamping Ground blog , you will find the links to everyone else's blogs.  Have a lovely time, mooching around on other people's desks.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Make and Take with Linda Williams

In case you don't know, Linda Williams is one of only two Master Tutors in the world for parchment craft.  She is also a thoroughly lovely lady.

Linda was running the Groovi Make and Take on the Clarity stand at the NEC over last weekend (apart from when she was up the other end of the hall doing a live TV show on the Hochanda stand.   

I actually took the opportunity to do the first session as there was a space.  However, I did not get too much done while I was there as I have to admit to talking a bit.  This is where I got on the day.

I managed to do the outlines and a tiny bit of colouring and embossing, but the rest of it turned into homework.  I spent a lot of time that night and the next day colouring and embossing, giving it plenty of time to rest along the way.

In this one, most of the embossing was done, just a little extra needed in a couple of places.  Most of my colouring was then done, using the Perga Liners, and the PCE pens in a couple of places.

I took the opportunity to get some constructive comments from Linda the next day.  If you look at the embossing on the wings, it is not as smooth and graduated as it should be, so that is something I need to practice more.  In truth, I think the problem is that I broke my own rules and tried to hurry it.  More time and more gentle stroking would have given me a much more pleasing result.  Please learn from my mistakes and take more time and be more gentle.

I have been playing a lot recently with the Dorso crayons and the Dorso Oil, so I did some colouring on the back of the parchment, picking up the colours from the design.  You can probably see the blue behind the butterfly.

This is where I ended up, with a piece to learn from.  It is backed with designer paper, then onto black before putting it on to the white base card.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

No photos today.

I have not got as far as downloading yesterday's NEC photos from yesterday.  I was tired when I got back so just vegetated for the evening.  I intend to actually do some crafting today and possibly fit in some playing with the new old Pergamano tools that Linda Williams demonstrated live on Hochanda yesterday.

If you are at the NEC today, don't forget to get up to the Hochanda studio stand to support Barbara Gray at noon.  She is demoing some lovely new stencils.  The lovely team from Hochanda will make you very welcome - lots of sweeties and jollies to keep you going.

I am also going to do more work on my piece from the Groovi Make and Take, more embossing and colouring to do.  I will take photos as I go along and blog it.

Today's tip is more in the line of info that some of you know.  Did you know that most paper, including parchment, has a "tooth", which is the texture that occurs in the manufacture.  If you are colouring with blendable pencils and really go for it with heavy pressure, you will fill that tooth.  At that point, no matter what you do, you will not be able to add more colour or do any shading.  It is much better to go in with several very soft layers.  You can achieve the same brightness of colour, but with shading which takes it to a much more pleasing level.  Try it out on a spare piece of paper or parchment and you will see the difference.

Whatever your day brings you, have a good one, and try to make someone else happy today.  There is enough cruelty and misery in the world an my heart goes out to those affected by the murders in New Zealand.  Let everyone just smile at others, say please and thank you, and do your best to make someone else's day better.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Transferring designs, skills from one media to another

One of my favourite things to do is watercolour painting, which I returned to a couple of years ago, by going to classes with Matthew Palmer.  Last month, our class painted his snow leopard, which was quite testing but enjoyable.
This is my version

Matthew always gives us a small outline for reference.  I really fancied playing with that to see what I could do with it.  So I decided to try transferring it from a medium using a lot of water to parchment which hates water.  Is the woman completely mad?  Probably!

First job was to use a white Pergamano pencil to transfer the outline roughly to the front of the parchment.

 Then I turned it over, rubbed Dorso Oil all over the back and blended Dorso Crayons,which were roughly the same colours as the paints on Matthew's original, to create the background.  Everything else was done on the front, using the Perga Liners, and my Derwent blender pencil.

This looks rubbish, doesn't it, quite ghostly.
It was just a case of gradually building it up, and adding the spots and stripes, and starting to give him a face and expression.  It was an interesting process but needed me to think and work very differently from the original painting techniques.

It was colouring the eyes that really gave him life, and adding his whiskers and fluffy edges as Matthew taught us.  I also did a little embossing, on the eyes and the nose, which helps to highlight them and give his face more shape.

Then, I mounted it on Clarity designer paper to enhance what I had already done with the background, before putting it on black card and the final base card.

The insert and envelope were added, using the same designer paper to keep everything together.

Once I was happy with the way things were going, I decided it was just what I wanted for a very special lady's special birthday.  Now that Barbara Gray has had her card and opened it, I can show it.

I enjoyed the challenge and I am very grateful for the original inspiration from Matthew Palmer, with the addition of techniques learned from Barbara Gray and her team.  It is great how you can mix techniques learned in one area with a different arena.

Friday, 22 February 2019

It's Friday, the day to finish things off!

I am following Maria Moorhouse's example, to use Friday to finish off a few projects.  Quite apt this week, as most of today's projects come from Maria's classes at Tuesday's Groovi classes.  Two of the projects could have been finished on the day, but I chose to take the time to improve the embossing, and to snip round the outside.

Card One

This is not the best of photos but Maria's design was great, using just one small section from one of Josie Davidson's plates and the foliage from another.  The main thing was to set things out properly and to learn to look at plates in a different way to see what can be used in a different format. 

Maria reminded of us about how good the Dorso crayons are and how to use them, and blend them with the Dorso Oil.

I used one of the designer papers to back the parchment, and the same paper to add a matching insert.

Card Two
This was the second design, using the same plates, but in a different way, with the addition of the butterflies.  I chose a different verse from the internet which is "Butterflies ---- flowers that fly and all but sing".  It is hard to read on the photo.  I really need to find out why all the photos on this kindle are so poor.  The butterflies are coloured with the Perga Colours Exclusives, and then snipped to release the wings, but hold the body within the parchment.

The third design is still a piece in progress, with a lot more embossing to do, not to mention the self-inflicted torture of stippling the border, not my favourite technique, but I chose to do it, so I can't complain too much.  I will post the results when it is finished.

Meanwhile, happy Friday, and why not post pictures of anything you are finishing today.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

WOYWW - 507.

A bit late today but at least I actually made it after missing a couple of weeks.  A bit of a mix on my table, partly because I have tidied it, and then opened a lovely parcel.  Two of the four packs of Clarity designer papers.  The other two are on their way.  They are beautiful backing papers, perfect for scrap booking, making boxes, envelopes, and a host of other things.

You can also see the first of two daffodil watercolour paintings.  Hochanda and Matthew Palmer got together to create a complete pack of everything needed to paint at least two paintings.  It cost £5 and Hochanda put every penny into the Marie Curie appeal - a very worthwhile fund.  The class was on Hochanda and online with Matthew teaching Penny Smith and Jenny Eclair.

The large pack of Ribbies are Flash's treat of choice.  Each one lasts a maximum of 30 seconds.

Here I have added a photo of the Snow Leopard which I painted at Matthew Palmer's watercolour workshop, using his pre-drawn sketch.  I am quite pleased with my end result from this class.  These classes can be very tiring but so satisfying and relaxing, with everyone being so friendly.

I am off now to get my bag out of the car and unpack the parchment work from yesterday, which was Maria Moorhouse's Groovi class at Crafters Companion at The Valley just outside Evesham.  Another great relaxing day of crafting with like minded people and a talented teacher.  I will show touch the results later in the week if you are interested.  Meanwhile, you may like to wander over to Julia's at  Stamping Ground where you can find lots of other crafting areas/desks to have a wander round.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Are dogs always our best friends?

I turned my back on Flash for five minutes and he has destroyed my knitting pattern, having stolen it out of my bag.    I have just spent half an hour trying to put it together.  Not good!

In fact, he has actually eaten several vital sections.

I have just e-mailed the company in Leeds in the hope they can help me with a copy.  If not, things could get interesting.

The moral is, never leave a spaniel on his own with anything that can be eaten.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

WOYWW 504 - What a mess!

As the title says, what a mess.  Why would any sane person want to show this to anyone else?  The explanation is simple, really it is.  It is Wednesday which is also known to some of us as What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday, or WOYWW for short.  It is the day when we show everyone in the group our work space to see what we are doing.  Our hostess is Julia, over at Stamping Ground  where we link in and then visit each other.

My desk has the dross left on it from projects I have been working on over the last few days.  There is my daffodil painting for Marie Curie and the rest of the kit from Hochanda and Matthew Palmer, ready to do the second painting.

I have also been busy knitting myself a gilet which has thrown up a few problems with me not reading the pattern correctly.  You can see the pattern abandoned till later.  I always take and knit the wool from the centre of the ball.  Last night, I had to add a new ball in and it then took me another hour to disentangle the mess that came out of the middle.

You might also be able to see a large roll of Groovi tabs at the back.  Several of us had expressed interest in buying the rolls, so, as always, Barbara Gray listened and provided.  Hopefully, the roll is big enough and bulky enough that I can keep track of them.

So far, the promised snow has not arrived here, so I have my fingers crossed that it passes us by completely.  It is very cold so I shall be snuggling in to craft for the time being.  I hope everyone else stays safe and warm.  Any of you who have not yet ventured to join the WOYWWs, why not do it today.  All the info you need is there for you at Stamping Ground 

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

No pictures today.

Yesterday and today have been spent mainly shopping.  No, not the nice crafty sort but the sort that has to be done for survival.  

Yesterday, I trotted off to my favourite farm shop in the Vale of Evesham to stock up on locally produced seasonal fruit and veg, not to mention some beautiful local cheeses.  Flash liked the smells coming from my shopping bags.  I do need to chop and cook the fresh rhubarb.

The evening was spent re-knitting the front I had unpicked the night before.  I have nearly got to the point where I discovered my mistake, so that is positive.

So far today, I have had coffee with a friend, put the world to rights, and visited another farm shop to buy the bits I forgot yesterday.  Now I am sorted so I can spend some time later with a little messy crafting, especially if the forecast snow turns up.  It is already four hours late according to the panic forecasts.

Hope everyone has a good day, and stays safe and warm.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Marie Curie daffodils - number one

For those who have no idea what this is about, you can go to this link on Hochanda     https://www.hochanda.com/about/paint-the-daffodil-rewind

This is where you can pay just £5 to buy everything you need to paint two special paintings in aid of Marie Curie.    Every penny of that £5 is donated direct to Marie Curie, so that is brilliant.

In the kit, you get a really good quality brush, two pieces of watercolour card and the bevelled mounts for when you have finished.  The paint comes as three blobs on a special piece of card and is more than enough to do the first two paintings and lots more.

Your instructions are available on Hochanda on the same link as above in the form of a masterclass from Matthew Palmer, teaching journalist, Penny Smith, and comedienne, Jenny Eclair.

This is my first go, in four stages.  It is not perfect but then that does not matter.  Everyone will do something slightly different anyway, which is how it should be.

This is the first stage with the basic daffodil in place.

In this second picture, the shading is going in to show which petals are on the top and which are hiding underneath.  The grey colour is mixed with all three colours.

Here, there is some veining, using a strong orange to give it life.

This final picture is the last, with the mount over the top.  The mount makes a huge difference to the final picture.  The green for the foliage is just mixed from those original three colours.

It is a brilliant idea to raise money in this way, where you can also learn and have fun too.