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.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Embossing practice

I was going to post this on Facebook, but decided to go for the blog today so that I can add more pictures and comment more easily on each.

Last Sunday, over a week ago now, I travelled down the M5 to Bristol to spend the day at the Bristol Parchment Exhibition, organised by Pat Murphy and her team.    Great journey down until I came off the M5, then it went a bit pear-shaped,but eventually got there, parked up, and with the aid of some kind friends paid the extortionate parking charge.

The exhibition itself was amazing with a wealth of fabulous work on show.  I could have done with longer to see it all and talk to more of the talented exhibitors.  

I was remarkably restrained with my purchases, spending my Clarity vouchers on a new mapping pen, a gold gel pen, the set of new Clarity/WOW ultrafine glitters and a bottle of the amazing aptly named Liquid Gold.  Oh yes,and a couple of parchment pattern books for inspiration

The last port of call for the day was back at the Clarity/Groovi/Pergamano stand for an hour's make and take with Barbara Gray.  When we got there, the tables were ready, set up with a selection of Groovi plates to choose from and all the equipment needed.  We all came home with a lovely design which we could use as it was, as a crisp piece of line art, or something ready to take further using traditional skills.

This was my design after a couple of evenings playing with it.  I have added some embossing around the scalloped border and some more to define the hills in the background.  Oh yes, and some fairly random stars etc snipped out in two corners.  I wish I had left those until I had dug out my fine perforating grid.  The bold grid produced a design that is too big for the whole thing.  Another lesson learned, patience and find what you need not just what will do.

The embossing here is ok-ish, but after lessons for on my lovely parchment tutor, Pat White, things rapidly got much better (apart from the snipping, which I am stuck with).

This is one corner before my lesson,showing the border embossing.

Again, it is ok-ish, but if you look, it is not even and smooth as it should be and has a lot of dark bits where I have not quite worked to the edges.  Definitely could be better.

I know this is a different corner, but they are the same all round.  This is after another two days of improved technique with the embossing.  Still no pressure involved, just a lot of gentle stroking in the right way to finish it off properly.  It is now smoother and really white but still not distorted by too much pressure.  I reckon that I have embossed this border at least 10 times, very softly, to get this level of whiteness.  It has had time to rest between each session, so that the parchment has had time to relax and flatten out.

This is probably the finished piece now, ready to mount, but it needs to be rested, probably in a heavy book to relax it again and take the slight curl out of it.  Oh yes, and Pat showed me a better way to get the highlights on the hills - such a difference.

The next job is to find the right background paper to suit it best, but that is for another day, and may take a while, but it is important.  Why take a long time over a piece of work and ruin the effect by adding the wrong background?  Watch this space for my choice.l

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

WOYWW 400. What an achievement!

I have not done much blogging for a while, but I could not miss this very special day for deskers.  Four hundred weekly posts is quite a landmark to celebrate.  Congratulations to you, Julia,for keeping everyone going for so long.

Apologies, this picture was missing on my original post and I did not notice.

This is not strictly a desk, but it is where I am working at the moment, playing around with parchment techniques, and my Derwent Metallic Pencils.  Some embossing,some perforation and some colouring on this one.  The grid, I used is one from Pergamano (now owned by Clarity, and my tools are a mixture from PCA and Pergamano.

Here is one card I completed last week, coloured with Derwent Inktense blocks and a slightly damp brush, and the backing paper if one of the new packs from Clarity.  The stamps were designed by the lovely Jayne Nestorenko.

This parchment coaster was started at the Clarity Make and Take at November's NEC show.  I finished mine at home as I wanted to do more embossing.

I cannot believe that the first month of the year has already vanished.  I really must get myself together to blog more frequently.  Meanwhile, Happy 400th Birthday.

Monday, 12 December 2016

A Special Present

I had intended to blog this over a month ago, but Christmas got in the way.  The end result was a present for someone who has been a very good and supportive friend to me over the last three years.

This was the starting place, a flat pack kit from Roy Pakeman at Candy Box Crafts, which just happens to be only about four miles away.  His kits are meticulously made and go together with no struggle or effort of any kind.  It is important to assemble the pieces before adding paint, otherwise the mdf is liable to expand with the moisture and then it will not fit easily.

At this point, the bottom part of the lantern is glued and fixed together.  Note the safety notice on the base.  I found the best light to put inside is a wax based battery candle.  For what I intended, I needed a decent amount of illumination and the flicker is good on them too.

This is the top section, glued and ready to be added to the base.  Every piece is marked clearly to aid the construction.

 This is the point at which I moved out into the conservatory to get messy.  All the pieces are now glued into place and you might notice that I have covered the whole thing with black gesso, ready for adding colour.

Things got very messy and confused from her on, only because I was trying to match the colour of one I had done before, but failed to write down the colours used there.   So it became very much trial and error.  I wanted gold inside to reflect the light properly.  That ended up as a mix of several goldy type colours to get the reflective shade I wanted.

To get the green I was after was a nightmare.  I actually got it in the end by mixing blue, gold shimmer, green and an interference blue,  all from different companies.  I was happy with that on the Tuesday before I needed it on the Thursday.  Let it dry and went in with the gold gilding wax.
It looked dreadful, so it was back to the paint mix again to cover the whole thing again.
This time, I heeded Barbara's advice - you can always add but you can't take it away - and was very much more sparing witht the gilding wax.

Fortunately, I had already done all three parchment panels, so it was a fairly quick job to stick them in place with red tape on the inside.  It was just a little tricky with the final piece as there was less room to manoeuvre the very stick tape exactly into the right place without it sticking to me, the dogs or the other pieces already in place. 

The Groovi plates I used were from the lovely Clarity designs using Jayne Nestorenko's fabulous art work.  I also heed the advice from my talented parchment tutor, Pat White , to go in very strongly with the colour.  I had already worked out that whitework really did not look right in this situation, although I did do a few bits of pricking and snipping here and there randomly, and embossed the names of the recipients.

The colours came from a mix of the Sakura Koi Brush Pens, which can be used really strongly but still shading the flowers well, or in a more muted way if desired, and the coloured Wink of Stella pens to add a bit of sparkle.

You might wonder why I only did three of the four panels.  Well, I could not work out any way of operating the candle inside if I did all four, and after all, the chances are that it would be placed against a wall so the fourth side would be invisible.   That is my excuse and I am sticking to it.

I hope you like it.  I think the recipients liked it which was the important thing for me.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

NEC November 2016

 This blog post is very photo heavy and just  what I shot today at the NEC craft show, and all around the Clarity stand - my favourite place.  I was very relieved to have a brilliant run on the M42 this morning, which meant I could get over to the halls in a relaxed state, calm and ready for my first workshop of the day with the lovely Jo Rice on the Clarity Stamps stand.  I had intended to do the workshop with our Maria Simms on Thursday as well, but the major traffic hold ups meant all the spaces were taken.  Today, I was one of the first into the hall and ready in my seat in double quick time.
This is Jo, getting ready and booking prospective customers in for the free Groovi Make and Take.  It was very popular, with many people having previously bought the starter kit and not having the courage to have a go.  I think with Maria and Jo giving them a chance to play, they will be going home to get grooving.

I think this was the biggest Clarity stand ever at the show, and so easy to get round and if it got too busy, then there was plenty of willing help from the Clarity staff.

Paul Church, getting himself sorted out for the day before the rush started.
Although I have used Groovi since it was first launched, I think you can always learn new ideas.   I certainly was not thinking when I started today and made the classic mistake of spelling the name on my piece backwards, so Jo kindly gave me another piece of parchment to start again. 

We were creating artwork to put inside a coaster, the perfect gift or a card with a difference.  I like making my own presents, putting thought and love into them and making them personal.

You can see how happy everyone was with their miniature pieces of art.

Needless to say, it was almost impossible to get near Barbara Gray doing her inky painty demos on the stand.  Everyone wanted to get to see what she was doing and gain further inspiration

It was great to see Dave looking so well and back to his friendly  and happy self.

I did take a few pictures of just a small number of the beautiful artwork on display, all created by Barbara and her talented design team, ink, painty, Groovi, and some a mixture of everything.

Paul chatting to the customers in his relaxed style.

Another group of happy people doing the Make and Take with Jo.

I did leave the Clarity area for a while and finished the day with another workshop.  This time, it was something I had never done before, painting on silk.  We keep saying how relaxed colouring and Groovi makes us.  Well, the silk painting did the same for me.  It is such a delicate fabric and you need to treat it gently to get the best results.  I will do another blog later in the week with my two Make and Takes, Groovi and silk painting, and also the pyrography (burning wood) that I did on Thursday.  I think there is enough in this post already.  Hope everyone else who went enjoyed themselves as much as I did today.  Off now for a large glass of sloe gin while watching Strictly and Poldark.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

WOYWW 383 - Where has this year vanished to?

It feels like only yesterday that I was booking my trips down to Kent for the Clarity Open Days and the Retreats.  Now it seems so long since those events took place.  No wonder that I cannot keep track of Wednesdays.  If you are wondering why I should be worried about Wednesdays out of all the days of the week, I recommend that you pop over to Julia's Stamping Ground where it will all become clear.

My desk/table this week is remarkably tidy in comparison to its normal chaos.  In fact the whole room is gradually improving as I sort things out and tidy things into a permanent home.

The big pile of envelopes contains around a third of my Christmas cards.  The rest are finished, but this batch just needs me to guillotine the inserts and stick them into place.  Just to the left of those is another smaller pile which are the original paintings I did, after working through Matthew Palmer's free workshop on Hochanda.  I did eighteen originals and then chose five to scan and print for my Christmas card toppers.  

The mound of pink in the centre of the table is destined to be a crocheted shawl for my youngest granddaughter.   I am also knitting her a scarf in the same yarn, in a fisherman's rib pattern which is so soft and warm.  It comes out as two layers which traps warmth and is really cosy.  I have already completed the set in a different colour for her sister.

The shawl was a problem as I have lost the original pattern so I had to excavate my old one and work it out as I went along, but it seems to have worked out and grows so fast.

Julia does like us to keep our posts short so I must stop rambling on and suggest you head back to Stamping Ground to meet up with lots of other crafters and see what they have been up to.  Have a great week, everyone.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Clarity Challenge for September - In The Garden

This is a combination of techniques which I really did as an experiment.  I used a stencil I had seen Jo Rice demoing with at the Open Days back in June.  I love this one for its delicacy.

I traced the parts I wanted onto a small piece of parchment, which I had already coloured on the back with the Tim Holtz distress crayons, blended with a damp finger (I was too idle to find a baby wipe or some water and the finger worked).  I used three colours, a purple, an orange and a green.  I then added a design down the edge.

As usual, the hardest part was finding the right way to mount the parchment.  In the end, I added a piece of rainbow parchment at the back before using one of the corner punches to attach it to a red mirri card.

I liked the verse that was sitting in front of me, the Celtic Blessing from Clarity so that seemed to fit well.  Then the card looked too white, so the next step was to brush one of the Artistry inks through the stencil randomly.

This is one of those projects that I was not sure of but after leaving it on show for a couple of days, I decided that I did like it.  I hope you like it too.