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.

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.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

WOYWW 378 - Long time, no visit

  • My desk/table is a total wreck again.  I am, as usual, trying to clear out and get my stuff sorted properly, but still crafting throughout it, and finishing off a whole load of projects.

  •   I need to remove and pass on a whole load of old and unused crafting stash to someone who can use it better.  I need to get my things back into the confines of my beautifully set up craft room and return my living room and dining room to their proper purposes so that I do not have to hide the piles of stuff from any visitors.  I bet I am not the only one in this position.  I have heaps of remains from kits I bought when I first started.  They are all going, to leave me with my basic stash of stamps, stencils,inks and such to work with.
I am also determined to make time and space to use my pyrography and encaustic art kits and blend them with my inky painty play.

It is ages since I joined in with all you lovely Wednesday deskers, but I feel it is unfair to post and for all of you to comment if I cannot find the time to visit you in return.  However, I intend to make the time this week.  I look forward to seeing you all.  Have a great week.  xxx

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Clarity Challenge for August - Fussy cutting

Any of my crafting friends will know that I am well known for hating fussy cutting.  I love colouring but cutting is a totally different matter, so this challenge was a challenge for me.  However, I do enjoy perforating and snipping parchment, so this was my way out.

i picked a Clarity stamp that I have actually cut in the past with a blade, and stamped it onto parchment.  I embossed the branches in the traditional way.  Then the birds were coloured on the front with my Caran D'Ache blending pencils, and I went over that with a clear Wink of Stella pen to add a little gentle sparkle.

Then it was a case of just sitting down and doing all the perforating with a fine double needle  tool, leaving just the birds, the branches and the single line border.  The final bit was to actually cut with my parchment scissors to leave just the bits I needed.  I attached the resulting parchment to a shiny blue paper with invisible thread (dreadful stuff, always in a tangle) before mounting the whole thing on simple white card.

The sentiment is another Clarity stamp but is one I really like a lot.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Clarity Open Days - Crowborough 2016

That title just does not do justice to the fabulous time we all had at the festival of all things ClarityStamp.  The start was not auspicious with a journey of five and a half hours from Redditch down to Tunbridge Wells.  I counted 8 jets trying to land on my roof (well, that is what it felt like) while stuck in stationary or near stationary traffic under the flight path on the M25 at Heathrow.  

However, once we got there, the Spa Hotel was lovely, and I managed to find a very convenient space right outside the front door.  Several of us gathered and set off so that the others could see where we were going in the morning and then back to the Nevill Crest and Gun for a delicious evening meal, before resting up ready for the morning.

Were we in for a treat?  Oh boy, we sure were.  A gathering of some of the most talented crafters you could wish to find in one room, covering all angles of the crafting we love so much.  I will write much more over time about what we saw, but these photos might give you a little flavour.  They were taken at different times over the two days.

Jo Rice showing all things stencils, stamps and inks
Jo Rice again, showing the different effects that are possible with the wonderful Clarity stencil brushes, from very subtle to really intense.

I think this is the only shot I got of Barbara over the two days.  It was hard to get near her as you can imagine with such a popular lady.  You might also spot Dave (looking so well) somewhere in the background.  I don't think he, Steve and Jayne stopped pounding the numbers on the till for two days.

The lovely Tina Cox, who is such a lovely lady and such a brilliant exponent of the art of parchment.  She had us laughing all weekend, and what she can do with those new Clarity border pricking grids is out of this world.  She also kept everyone supplied with sweeties.

I have just found one more shot of Barbara, pulling the numbers for for the hourly raffle prizes.

Linda Williams and Paul Church taking a short break while Barbara did her thing, and easing their throats with Tina's sweets.

Just take a look at what Linda had done, the bra and panties in the frame, all achieved with the most exquisite parching.  Linda was showing us all how to use the full range of Pergamano tools, at least one of which she designed herself, using traditional methods.

You can see Maria in the background.  I think (cos I never got to see her demo this time) she was combining parchment with stencils and stamping brilliantly.

A side view of Maria Simms with some of Jo's audience in the background, listening to Barbara.

Maria again, chatting and demoing to Jilly and others

Sam Crowe, who is just brilliant with the Gelli plate, inks and paints.  Her plate has to be seen to be believed but it produces wonderful designs in Sam's hands.

Sam again, with some of her cards and tags on show.

Gotcha, Sam!

I seem to have missed getting a photo of another lovely lady, Dee Paramour, who can use inks in ways no-one else has thought of and is so generous with her time and tips.

These Open Days are not just a chance to learn new things but also a wonderful chance to meet up with old friends (some of whom travelled huge distances, even from Texas, for the occasion) and to make new friends.  I am not going to name them all, in case I miss someone out, but it was wonderful to meet up with everyone.

All the Clarity team from Barbara and those we see in front of house to those who sorted out all our lunches and those who worked so hard to set things up and to pull things down at the end, were brilliant.  Thank you to every one of you.  You are part of a fantastic team.  Long may it continue.  Roll on July when we all start to convene again for the series of two day Retreats.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

WOYWW - 365

This is definitely a picture heavy post today, and is designed to make up a little for my absence from the WOYWW blogs for some time.  I cannot believe how fast this year is passing us by and we are into June already.  I am only just getting used to the long light evenings and before long we shall be heading steadily for the shortening of daylight again.  We need to make the most of what we have every day.

This week, I can actually see most of my table and I am gradually getting my table storage sorted, thanks to a couple of mdf units from Candy Box Crafts (they go together so easily).  At least things are now not quite so easy for my littlest dog to steal and eat, which has to be an advantage.

You might be able to see, tucked into my new completed unit my new possessions, Pixie Powders.  I love them, a bit like Brushos and Colour Bursts but loaded with mica - luscious. 

I have also been busy playing with my Groovi system again, the Clarity system of parchment creation.  I have always loved parchment, especially the traditional pure white version.  Two of these are white but the third is done on coloured parchment and then mounted on mirri card and also has some blended pencil work mixed with the embossing.

The final photo is of one piece already mounted, and using three different Groovi plates to make up the design and then embossed over three days, leaving it to rest in between.

The original design of the fan plate is from the immensely talented Tina Cox  and is so lovely to work with.

I hope to get round as many of you as possible this week and wish all of you good health.  It is great to know that Julia has come safely through her surgery and I pray that her recovery will be equally successful.

Meanwhile, thank.you to Lunch Lady.Jan for acting as our lovely hostess to allow Julia time to rest and recuperate.  

Saturday, 21 May 2016

What are you doing to me, Debbie Rock?

This canvas was one I started at Sazz's (Sally-Ann Moore) class at Nottingham some time ago, but I was never really happy with what I achieved that day. My fault as I was playing with new paints and it did not come off. So it has been haunting me round the house ever since. I painted it black, ready to have another go, but still could not decide what to do.
 Now, having had two lessons from Debbie Rock (she has a lot to answer for), I decided to dive in with the micas. The first step was to redo all the stencilled bits, using Sweet Poppy Pearlescent paste and add another stencil to the mix, then gessoed the lot with black. There are four Clarity stencils here, The butterfly tree, the large butterfly annd Jo's Bubbles, with the addition of the new flower swirl (which I love).
I spent an afternoon spraying and rubbing and spraying, then added some glittery bits but that had to wait till the next day till I got decent daylight. A lot of the flowers were created from the airdry clay and mould that Leonie was demoing on Wednesday.  I did get a bit carried away, playing with that and ended up with a lot of flowers and leaves.  It was fun and I have a stack to use on future pieces.  One of those clay flowers is in this second photo with clay leaves added.

As most people know, this is not my normal style, which is why I decided to enter it in this month's Clarity Stamp Challenge.  The Clarity stencils which formed the base were perfect for the texture paste.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

More Parchment and Groovi

This is a recent piece of parchment work I have completed.  It was a special commission for a family member for a wedding.  I had originally been asked to do a parchment card but eventually I decided that it would be better to mount it on to a canvas board.

The flowers and borders all came from Clarity's Groovi system and just involved moving the parchment around to get all the flowers into the positions I needed.  The writing in the centre panel was from the Groovi Club Baby Starter Kit and were the perfect size for this project.

The backing colours were requested to fit in with the wedding themed colours, which, in turn, were from the groom's regimental colours.  The parchment is mounted onto amethyst coloured mirri card and then onto a canvas board painted with acryllic chalk paint from Paper Artsy.   There is a small amount of pricking and cutting around the central panel. 

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Me doing 3D stuff

Many of you will know that I am not comfortable doing 3D crafting, so Sunday's workshop with Pauline Butcher was always going to be a challenge for me.  However, I survived, despite a mini meltdown through my own stupidity.

The base for this project was a three panelled piece designed and produced by Candy Box Crafts, and involved a technique I have never used - crackling.  This involved decisions right from the start, difficult when I had not decided for sure what my theme was going to be.  I had originally thought of doing large flowers in each of the three panels, but at the last moment changed my mind to using the Pollyanna Pickering creatures.

So my base coat was orange, which then had to dry before applying the crackle glaze.  That had to be left for quite a while to dry thoroughly.  While waiting for that, we stamped and heat embossed our extra bits on to heat resistant acetate, and coloured them in with alcohol inks.  I used a technique learned from Maria Simms, with dry inks picked up with the Ranger Blending Pen.  Then we cut them out, not too much fussy cutting here as the acetate is very forgiving.

The three panels were the next to be done and I just kept it simple, using Versafine Sepia for the main images.  This was where my meltdown came in.  I had cut beautiful accurate masks for those three beautiful images, but left them at home.  I needed to create a simple landscape behind each one.  Fortunately, I had got a bottle of drawing gum in my bag so I just brushed that all round the edges which protected the stamped images from the ink on the blending brushes, easy to rub off afterwards.  Disaster averted!

By now, the crackle glaze was ready and the magic could be applied, this being the top layer of acryllic paint.  I used the Paper Artsy Snowflake.  As you apply this top coat liberally, you can watch it just cracking in front of you, allowing hints of the undercoat to show through.  Clever stuff!

After that, it was really time to pack up, leaving the adding of the acetate etc to be finished at home later.  That did take me quite a while as I felt that my original ideas were too heavy for the delicate stamps.  So there was a lot of trimming of leaves and adding subtle stamping round the frame of feathers and leaves.  Like most of us, I know I would have done some things differently in hindsight, but I learned a lot and I am not too displeased with the results.  I shall be adding some light stencilling to the reverse of each panel, but other tasks have to be dealt with first.

Thank you, Pauline, for challenging me and giving me new ideas to play with.  Looking forward to the next class.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

WOYWW - 353

 I was determined to join in with the blog hop this week, even though my work area looks like a disaster at the moment.  Some of you will already know that I had embarked on a major resort and cataloguing of all my stamps.  I am so nearly there, just three pages of one album and another part album to be done.  The stencils are now all done so they can go away tomorrow.

Why am I showing you a disaster area, you may ask.  Well, every Wednesday, the odd one or two (lots and lots) of crafters of all kinds join together through the generosity of Julia at her Stamping Ground to look at each other's desks to see what everyone is doing.   We are not allowed to do a special tidy up and, in fact, the messier they are the more interesting to see new goodies and techniques.  All crafts are welcome and the rules can be found on Julia's blog at Stamping Ground.  My desk still has the last album to be finished, waiting till tomorrow morning, so you might be able to distinguish some lovely Woodware flower stamps.  This is the album with my non-Clarity stamps put together. 

You can also see my TV and DVD remotes, needed close at hand so that I can take all the Clarity programmes from last weekend off the DVD onto disc for future reference.  The Archival Black ink pad will be no more tomorrow as I have totally killed it while building up my stamp catalogue, and the same has happened to the red sticky tape. 

I have also been playing with a new set of pens this week, the Sakura Koi Brush Pens, which I think are absolutely fabulous.  I have already posted a couple of designs coloured with them and this is another page in my journal, just to see how well they blend and what else I can do with them.  I have already blogged about them so if you want to know more, please look back.  

Meanwhile, it is time I sent you on your way to see if Julia has got the kettle on for you and the addresses for a load more desks to peruse from all parts of the world.  I will wish you a Happy Wednesday and hope to visit your desks in the next couple of days.

Monday, 7 March 2016

My Clarity Groovi pictures

A little while ago, Barbara Gray challenged those of us who already had the Groovi Starter kit to create cards that could be shown on Hochanda whenever she was using the kit.  For those who are now totally confused, Hochanda is a fairly new crafting shopping channel where you can watch loads of demonstrations from experienced and talented crafters.  The Groovi system from Clarity is a way for anyone to dip their toe into the beautiful art of parchment work

Like many others, I sent off a few cards for use on the programmes.  I was very happy when three of mine were shown on what turned out to be a really incredible weekend of sellouts.  This was the first one and is actually my favourite.  Reflections on parchment do take a little thought to get it all the right way round so I was pleased when I decided I had it right.

My second one was just a use of the landscape plate which comes as part of the Groovi Starter Kit, including the word boxes and the letters on the main Plate Mate.

My third one for now is a much smaller piece (a 6x6 card) and again uses only whatever comes with the Starter Kit.  The little house is just drawn using one of the straight lines on the landscape plate.  It was originally intended to just have a path to the edge of the lake, but I was not concentrating properly and went too far with one of the lines.  There was a fair bit of muttering went on there as it was the last bit of outlining I needed to do.  I left it for a while and then realised that I could use the same straight line and create a small jetty out into the lake.

All three of these pieces of parchment were mounted onto mirri card of different colours to reflect the colours back and intensify them.  The second and third one were also mounted using a corner punch.  You can, very rarely, use any form of glue on the back of parchment as it shows through, so brads or corner punches are a good alternative.  The first one, the reflections, was simply folded round the mirri card and glued at the back.

After doing the embossing on the back of each one, I added colour using soft waxy pencils, which are perfect.  My favourites are Caran D'Dache, but Fabel Castell are also excellent.  If you want a more modest priced set, Derwent also do a very good range and can be bought singly if you wish.

Hope you like these, and if you fancy having a go at this ancient craft, just have a go with the Clarity Groovi system, which cuts out the slow and laborious job of tracing the line art at the start.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Sad to Happy-ish

Last night, I decided to have a play, mixing stamps on a bought paper, which was very pretty.  I don't usually buy papers as I prefer to create my own backgrounds, but I wanted these for a particular purpose.  Then, of course, I was left with a load of papers that I did not know how to use.

I did a class earlier this year with the lovely Maria Simms, where we were using bought papers combined with stamps and gilding flakes, which gave me some ideas.  I also did another class last year with Sally-Ann Moore and Kim Shaw, who were also giving us ideas of what to do with unwanted papers.

So, I grabbed a sheet of paper from the book last night and just went with the stamps I already had on my table and got to work (play).  Just stamping the flowers and colouring them definitely did not work and I went to bed thinking "Oh well, it is only a piece of paper and I learned that it did not work like that."  However, in the morning, I had another look and decided to add a watercolour wash over the whole piece to see what happened.  I used my new favourite pens, the Sakura Koi Brush Pens, which are so beautiful to use and the colours are so lush, and these two were the results.

This first one used a Tim Holtz stamp, which I stamped with Archival Black and coloured with the Sakura pens and the blender.  All the birds and flowers at the top are shiny and part of the original paper.  I used the same colour for the wash as I had used to colour in the flowers, and applied it from the pens with a waterbrush, and aimed for the random application with no harsh lines.  You cannot see it but I also added some clear Wink of Stella on the main flowers and dotted it around in the background.  The Wink of Stella are lovely for adding some subtle glitter.

This was the second piece and the flowers here are from the Clarity range and are the Shepherd's Purse, designed by Mandy Branston.  I used exactly the same techniques on this one, just a different colour.

From something that was only fit for the bin, I am quite pleased with these results of a bit of experimentation.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Barbara Gray's Calendar Challenge for February

How many of you have bought Barbara Gray's beautiful calendar for this year, I wonder.  Not only is it a lovely calendar in its own right, but it also contains step by step instructions on how to complete each piece of art.  So Barbara has challenged us all to follow those instructions and recreate her masterpieces.

This is my entry for February.  We started with four distress re-inkers and a tray of cheap shaving foam (the cheaper ones work better).  A few drops of each colour into the foam and swirled around gives the printing surface.  Dropping the card onto the inky surface and twisting a little gives a different result each time.  I have a cheap child's plastic ruler with which to scrape off the excess foam to reveal the inky surface below.

 I had about a dozen sheets of card when I had finished (I had run out of space round the kitchen to dry the cards), but only this one spoke to me for this project.  The idea is to look at your background to see what you can see there.  The stamp used is a favourite of Barbara's.

To me, this was inside a cave with rushing streams running through it and then out of the exit on the right on the card.  I used Faber Castell polychromos and a black micron pen to enhance the background to try to bring out what I could see.

You will probably see something completely different to my ideas, but that is fine.  We are all different.

Why don't you all have a go at this challenge?  It is all good fun.

Playing today with new pens.

Two very different projects, both coloured with my new pens, the Sakura Koi Brush Pens. I really like them.   I had watched Sarah Hurley demoing with them on Hochanda on Wednesday, and they arrived, beautifully packaged on Friday morning, pretty good service.
The first one with the butterflies was done on the watercolour journal that came with the pens. I deliberately limited my colours for this one, and concentrated on shading. The stamps are Clarity butterflies, and include the montage and the single butterfly from the centre.  I also used a couple of stencils for the background, including the Clarity butterfly.

The main stamped images were just coloured simply with the pens,direct to paper, but I loved how easily the pink and the yellow blended with no hassle at all.

The background is a combination of working through stencils, using coloured kitchen roll stuffed into the water brush to create a softer blend of the same colour (tip from Sarah Hurley), and also painting the stamps with the pen and then stamping into the background.

This pink butterfly was allowed to dry between applications of the pens, and then further colour added and that gave me quite different blends of the same colour.

This is the very first journal page I have ever done and although it was fairly simple, I am quite pleased with the result, and it has given me loads of ideas for playing more with these brushes.  Watch this space.

My second experiment was using them on parchment.  The image used here is actually  from PCA (Parchment Craft Australia), I think, and had been sitting waiting for inspiration on how to colour it.  So I decided to sacrifice it to experimentation and I was pleased with the result.

All the colour on this came from direct application on the back with the new pens.  Again, the shading was just done by allowing the ink to dry between applications, and it worked very well.

You can see the depth of colour better on the lilies on this close up.  I am sure I could have taken it further and got even more  depth of shading.

The water was created just by randomly dabbing the colour, leaving white spaces - no real technique there.

The set of pens came with a blender too, although I have not used that yet.  Sarah Hurley was also using a spritzer with coloured kitchen roll (do not rub the pen onto the kitchen roll - just roll the nib around the scrap of paper) which she then rolled up and put into the water filled spritzer.  Another technique I need to try.  I am sure that this would work well with other water based pens but I do like the large brush nib on these pens.