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, 14 November 2018

WOYWW - 493

Sorry I was missing again last week.  I had forgotten how fast Wednesdays come round.  My desk is still a mess.  In fact the whole room is a mess.  Christmas is definitely in progress here with 50 cards completed (one or two still need envelopes).  Several of the ones completed are parchment designs so I will be cautious who those go to.

These three were started at Paul Church's workshop last Saturday at the Crafters Companion store at Evesham.  Those of you who went to the NEC may recognise the designs as being from the talented Linda Williams.  The blue one on the left is based on the design that was chosen for the Clarity Make and Take for the show.

This photo shows the class at Evesham with most of the Bromsgrove Parchers group taking part in the class.  We went mob-handed as you can see.  A really good day among friends.

Now I need to do the mass production fast ones to complete the pile.  I have done some using the fantastic new Fresh Cut Dies from Clarity, cutting the design from the centre of the card and, using double sided sticky paper and a variety of suitable backing papers, filling the blanks with the subtle glitter.  As usual, the glitter does not really show on the photos but it is there and does not shed either.

Fortunately, these are quite quick to do in a mass production system.  The pieces just fall out of the dies and once everything is cut, it is easy to assemble.  

Since I took the first photo on this post, my table has deteriorated dramatically as you can see, so some clearing up is required before tomorrow's attack.  In fact, the table is worse than this right now.

I have been through my card list and pruned it severely.  The cost of postage is too high to continue sending to everyone.  There are several whose current address is not in my book so, if they have not seen fit to tell me, then they have been dropped.  I have also been through my stash of almost completed cards and many of them will be finished off soon and donated to charity as I will never use them all. I am also sorting stamps etc and getting rid of anything that is not Clarity as I am just not using them.  I desperately need the space.  One day, I might actually get back into my craft room????

Time to finish now and get this posted before the dog groomer comes.  Hope to visit as many as possible of the Wednesday gang over at Stamping Ground, the home of our leader, Julia.  For anyone who has no idea what WOYWW is, it is a long running group who meet up every Wednesday to show what state our desks are in and what we are doing on them.  No special tidying up is allowed.  Just take a photo, and post it with a short explanation, and link in to Julia's post.  then you can go round and see what everyone else is doing.

Have a good week, everyone.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Mix up those plates.

All you Groovi addicts out there, some of you will have seen bits of this already.  I love just sitting and playing with a few plates to create a mixed up design.  This is one of those.  All it needs now is a suitably sized base card.

This is a mix of different designs and sizes from Linda Williams' beautiful plates, overlapping each other.  This is so easy to do with the lovely see through plates.  Once I had drawn it out, it sat around in my folder for ages.

Once I got back to it, I decided to keep the colours to a limited palette and fairly soft, with some gentle embossing.  Then, it was down to the perforating.  I used two different tools for that, the two needle fine, and the two needle split which is finer still.  With the split you have to be careful to only perforate VERY lightly otherwise you get the messy split.   I used the split tool for perforating within the circles, like the honeycomb pieces.  Everything else was done with the fine tool.

Then, I went round again with the single needle fine to ensure I had good holes to snip.  You cannot get good picot edging if your holes are not good.  All perforating should be done with the needle tools held perfectly upright.  Anything else and you will end up with oval holes instead of the desirable round ones.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

WOYWW - 491

Two weeks running!  I will try to keep this up but I am making no promises.

My desk is tending to be my lap tray as often as not.  It is so convenient while I am doing my parching.  The only real disadvantage is what happens to all the tiny bits that I nip out.  They stick to my clothes, the carpet and the dog, and if you step on them with bare feet, it can be very painful.

These two Christmas trees are a design by the lovely Tina Cox and were a challenge from my parchment tutor.  (You might notice my head torch on the tray, which is essential for really close work, but I do have to be careful when in company as it totally blinds everyone.)

This butterfly was a serious challenge from my tutor, Pat White.  It was designed by Josie Davidson and is made up of three separate butterflies, all embossed and perforated.  I have just mounted it on a piece of the beautiful Shenandoah designer paper from Clarity.  It had to go into a mount to save it from the jaws of my parchment eating dog.  I did debate adding a touch of sparkle but then decided it was better left simple.

Over the last twelve months, I have been going to watercolour painting workshops with Matthew Palmer, who has given me so much confidence, after being told at school that I was rubbish at art.  Now I really love it.  A good teacher makes so much difference.  This one is a Stone Barn in New England, with lovely autumn colours.  I am hoping to get on his taster classes at the NEC, but that might depend on the motorway traffic.

Time to end now and keep things shortish.  If you wonder what this business of showing desks is all about, just call in on Julia at http://stamping-ground.blogspot.com where you will find out what it is all about.  Have a good week, everyone.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

WOYWW #490

It is a long time since I joined in on Wednesday, so don't all collapse with shock.  This is not really my desk, just one that I share every two weeks with some good friends at Bromsgrove Parchers.

You can see my bit close to this end of the table.  The messy bit.   We meet to share our addiction to Groovi and everything to do with parchment craft, not to mention a lot of chat and sharing of ideas.

This year has been chaotic with a lot of driving up and down the country's motorways, from Kent to North Yorkshire, all to do with crafting apart from one trip to West Bay in Dorset to meet up with three school friends for our yearly get together.  

I do remember that Julia likes us to keep our posts short so I will end here and look forward to read in some of your posts this week.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Lots of perforations and snipping

This is a design I started work on over a year ago.  I did most of the work on the central flower sprays and then put it down.  I had completed the main tracery but used it as a backing for a different design.  More recently, I was gathering up all my parchment UFOs (Unfinished Objects) and came across the flowers, so decided to complete the whole thing.  The original design was by Julie Rocas and published in Parchment Craft Magazine in January 2012, but I did make the odd alteration.

I certainly made a better job of the tracery this time round, and managed to get much closer to the embossed lines.

I found it easier to snip from the centre outwards.  It seemed to hold the whole design together better and I succeeded in breaking the line only once.  The central medallion is slightly smaller than Julie's original and I used the central part of the nested scalloped circles from Groovi to create perfect circles.

This is the completed base layer.  Then it was a case of putting this somewhere safe while I went back to the flowers.

Four sprays of flowers with embossing and grid perforations on flowers and leaves, then each one needed to be perforated around and snipped free.  My choice of tools were the 2 needle fine and my trusty Pergamano Ringlocks.

To emboss the flowers and leaves, I used my favourite shaders, which I, personally, prefer to the ball tools in designs of this kind.

I backed the whole design on a piece of Clarity blue paper, which I thought set the white off perfectly, using tiny dots of Perga Glue.  Then I created a medallion to cover the central circle, embossing it and colouring with pencils, finishing with a multi faceted gem in the centre.  I also highlighted the embossing with a Wink of Stella pen to give subtle sparkle.

I hope you like what I have done and that Julie Rocas does not object to my slight alterations.  It was started mainly to challenge myself to create the base tracery section.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

What a major performance!

  1. I know it has been a long time since I actually blogged anything, but I had not anticipated such major trauma to get access to it.  Every time I logged in, it started to load but then got covered by totally unwanted adds for all sorts of things.  Now I have managed to get unwanted numbers that I can't get rid of, but at least I am apparently back in. 
This is a Groovi based design that I started a couple of weeks ago at parchment class with Pat White.  We were supposed to be doing our own design using the metal Pergamano grids, but mine had got mislaid during my tidying up, so I was allowed to use Groovi instead. I really enjoyed putting this together.  

I used the large octagon nested shapes to create the basic borders.  The rope twist edging is from one of the first border plates, and is a real favourite as it is so easy to emboss to add shape.  The balloons and large boat came from the Gentleman's Collection.  I drew the small sailing boat freehand as I needed one small enough to add perspective.  The other major plate I used was the landscape plate from the original Starter Kit, a real essential.

I added in the birds from the Groovi, plus some that I drew in myself.

I started the embossing on the rope twist, then I had a "bright idea", nearly a major disaster.  I thought I would use the small semi circle tool to decorate the inside border and snip it out.  Fortunately, I realised in time that would remove the whole border.  Instead, I embossed within the semi circles and reperforated the holes.

The colouring was a mix of the Pergamano pens, and blendable pencils with a little dorsing, both on the front and the back of the parchment.   I used shader tools to emboss the sails of the boats over several days.

When I worked on the hills, I added a few extra lines and shading to give it more perspective, using techniques I learned from painting classes with Matthew Palmer.  I firmly believe that everything you learn can be used to cross over different media.  In the same way, I use things I have learned from Barbara Gray and the Clarity team in my painting.

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.