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.

For security reasons for me and for you, I would appreciate it if you would leave your name on your comments.

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, including my favourite right now, parchment, both traditional skills and Groovi, very relaxing and calming to do.

I have decided to put some structure into my blog so that each day will have something of a theme.
Monday- for Mindfulness; Tuesday - Tidy Up Day; Wednesday - What's on Your Workdesk Wednesday; Thursday - Technique and Tips; Friday - Finish Off Day; Saturday - Start Something New; Sunday - Anything Goes
These themes are not hard and fast and will be changed if I feel the need.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Friday is for finishing off

Four more parchment pieces finally finished and mounted ready for use. The first three were started at various classes, and just needed time and finishing of embossing etc.

The first one was from a workshop run by Maria Moorhouse at the Crafters Companion store at Evesham.  For some reason, this one was the hardest to find backing paper that I liked.

Number 1

This was one design that I actually followed and I think it shocked Maria, as I do have a reputation for going off piste.  It is a quiet sort of piece and I kept the colours very soft too.  To me, this makes it the kind of card that would work for a sympathy card.

The next two started life at a workshop run by Josie Davidson and Chris Walker up at Whittingtom.  Josie gives us several designs to choose from.  Rather than work through one piece from start to finish, Lynne Bishop and I tend to go through the prep work and set all three up, then settle down to develop them.  
Number 2
 Number 2 did contain rather a lot of dots and I think the hardest bit was trying to line them up diagonally across the whole design,  Very fiddley but give a very effective texture.  The centre section is a combination of dots and perforations, so the only picot work is round the outside border, which I did using the fine straight grid

Number 3
Number 3 has just two borders, top and bottom, of gridwork with the centre panel coloured.  For once, I used the bold grid, but because all the cuts are straight, they were not such a problem to snip.

Both these pieces were coloured with the Faber Castell Polychromos, first on the back and then on the front, with highlights added on the front.  

I think that Number 2 is my favourite.  The colours work better for me on that one.

The final piece for today uses one of Josie's royal border plates and one of Linda Williams Flowers and Lace.  I love pansies and the colours of the flowers on this one are close to one of my favourite pansy flowers called Joker.

I did the border some time ago so I cannot remember which plate it came from.  The colouring is done with the same pencils, but this time, I dorsed them on the back and the front and then added darker lines to each petal on the front to give them definition.  Looking at this on here, it does not really show the colours to their best.  It shows better if you click on it and look at the magnified image.

I enjoyed doing all of them and there is still the third one from Josie's class to be finished, but I am still thinking about the colours for that one.

If you have been finishing off some of your UFOs, why not share them on Facebook or on your blog.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Friday is for finishing off

I am taking a different path today with my finishing off.  I would love to ask everyone to finish being unpleasant and hurtful.  "The Water Babies" by Charles Kingsley has two very important characters in it.  They are two ladies by the names of Mrs Be-Done-By-As-You-Did and Mrs Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By (try typing that lot fast).

I would show you a picture of my treasured copy of this book but I might fall foul of copyright law, so, instead, I will show you a picture that I did very recently.

To give credit where it is due, this piece came about after doing the Encaustic Make and Take with Mike and Shona Bossom at the recent Clarity Open Days in Ditton.  They inspired me to get my kit out and play with it at home.  Watching them on Hochanda taught me even more, especially the show where Mike Bossom and Barbara Gray swapped their skills.  I learned how to use stamping together with hot coloured wax. I know it is not brilliant but I enjoyed playing with the equipment and learning more from that play.

To me, crafting is a way to relax and escape from problems in life, and I don't think I am alone in that.  I need to escape from sad and bitter people who think they can get their own way by shouting and bullying others.  They need to think about Mrs Be-Done-By-As-You-Did, which is probably another name for Karma.  If you constantly dish out physical and verbal bullying, at some stage it will come back to bite you.  It will, also, only serve to make you even more sad, bitter and unpleasant. No-one wants to be with someone like that.

The other lady, on the contrary, Mrs Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By, is a much happier person, the kind of person you enjoy being with, and her Karma brings a much better life.  If you want people to treat you kindly and help you out, then you need to treat others with kindness and respect.  If you want respect, then you have to treat others with respect.

Back to the crafting world, the same applies.  There is an unpleasant minority that is so sick that they spend all their time trying to bully others and damage other people's reputations.  I try to keep out of the angry rows that come from this.  However, when a good friend or family member is being treated so unfairly, then I will step in and say my piece.

Let's all take a deep breath, then exhale hard to get rid of bad feelings and childish behaviour.  Spend your time doing nice things for others instead of trying to make them do things for you.

P.S. How could I have forgotten to give credit for the stamp on my picture?  Of course, it is one of the lovely Clarity stamps.  

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Thursday - Tips and Techniques - PTCs

First of all, what are PTCs, I hear some of you say.  Originally, there were ATCs - Artist Trading Cards.  They were used a bit like business cards for artists and crafters, tiny pieces of art to be given as a sample of your talent.  These days, they are usually used as swaps, generally on a theme.  Then, Artist Trading Coins, round pieces of art, came into the picture.  The only real absolute rule is the size of these pieces.  The cards must not be bigger than 2.5 inches x 3.5 inches (64mmx89m), while the coins must not exceed 2.5 inches.  The main reason for this is to ensure they will fit into the plastic wallets designed to display them.

PTCs, both cards and coins, have to stay within that size.  This is a PTC (Parchment Trading Card) that I put together for a recent crop.  Despite the apparent intricacy of the design,  the whole thing is still only 2.5 inches x 3.5 inches.  So it fits properly into the wallets.

To make sure you get the right sizes, this is how I work.
1.  Cut your final backing card to the correct size out of white card and put the ATC backstamp on it (Clarity ATC Stamp).

2. Cut your parchment to the same size before starting your work.  You will almost certainly have some kind of a border to be cut, which will reduce the size of the parchment slightly.

3.  At some stage, either at the start or at the end of your work, you will also need a piece of backing paper or card to go between the white card and your parchment.  Ideally, that should be slightly smaller than the white card and slightly bigger than your finished piece of parchment.

By lining up all three in this way, you are showing off your work to its best.  Measure the backing card carefully and keep everything else within those limits.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Thursday -Tips and Techniques

I had so much fun yesterday.  My new extension lead arrived at lunchtime, so after putting my dinner in the oven, I draped the cable safely round the conservatory to put the socket on the right hand side of my desk.  That means I am not reaching across a hot iron.  This is a new craft for me, so it is all about learning and having fun.

I decided to really get brave yesterday (or stupid) and play with an A5 BLACK card.  Oh boy, that was a steep learning curve but so much fun.  I have already learned a very valuable lesson.  If it does not work out how I imagined, it does not matter one iota because I have had so much fun just playing.  It is not a waste of card.

This has not really photographed well but it is really moody and windswept.  It reminds me of the moors round Haworth (Bronte territory) on a stormy evening.  I think I will leave this as it is, certainly for now.  Having watched Barbara and Mike, I know I could change it totally if I wanted.

The second play piece is a remake of the one I didn't like from yesterday's blog.

To me, the proportion of sky and land really did not work.  So, I took the iron to it and then wiped the wax away with a tissue, before adding more restrained hills in the foreground.  Then, I still did not like the sky, so I swept more colour over it.  When I did it, I thought it was a stormy sky, but looking at it now, it looks like mountains rising up from the lake.

Now I have my kit set up on my desk in the conservatory, I get the feeling I will be doing a lot more playing, whenever I get a few minutes to spare.  I must remember to keep an eye out for intruders.  I had to evict a magpie from the doorstep, cheeky bird.  I think it was a youngster, but I don't particularly want his company.

Any of you who have the kit, don't let it moulder in the cupboard.  Get it out and just have fun.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

WOYWW 525 - a different desk.

With a number of things that have happened since the fantastic Anniversary Crop, I have been AWOL for a while and I apologise for not replying to those who commented last time.

Sadly, I had to take that final decision for Flash.  After that, I was down in Kent at the incredible Clarity Open Days.  Two days of watching and learning from incredibly talented crafters - Barbara Gray, Maria Moorhouse, Dee Paramour, Sam Crowe, Tina Cox, Linda Williams, Paul Church, Leonie Pujol, Lou Withers, Martine Smith, to name but a few.  

We also had the chance to do a Make and Take with Mike and Shona Bossum creating Encaustic art.  For those who have not come across this craft, it is the somewhat unpredictable art of painting pictures with a hot iron and melted wax.

I bought my starter kit a couple of years ago but never had the courage to get it out to play.  However, a brilliant lesson from Mike inspired me to get going and see what I could produce, as you can see from my conservatory desk.  These photos were taken on Tuesday afternoon after a fun time trying to remember what I had learned from a half hour lesson and watching on Hochanda.

My first attempt is due for another session with the iron today as I don't like it at all.  Much too dark with the colours becoming muddy.

The next two I will keep as I quite like them, although they are not perfect but I learned a lot from them.

I quite like the fence I managed to draw in on this one, and the folds of the hills.

This final one was intended as a seascape but changed a little as I played.

I feel sure I will be doing a lot more as I learn just what I can do with just a few blocks of coloured wax and a small iron.  It is a lot more fun than doing the household ironing.

I will let you go now on your way to visit the other desks on show at Julia's place, over at Stamping Ground.  Have a good day, everyone.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Thursday Tips and Techniques

Some of you know that I have been struggling with my snipping over the last few weeks.  Somehow my precious Ringlocks have been damaged.  Not a problem, I thought as I already had a new pair on standby.  

Oh boy, was I wrong?  Spectacularly wrong!

Three weeks later and I am still struggling to get used to them.  Struggling to the point that I have even tried today snipping with a very old pair of scissors that I dug out of the cupboard.  

Just because you have two pairs of apparently identical scissors, they will not behave quite the same.  Your new ones will almost certainly be stiffer until you have worked them in.  I took the advice of Jeannine from Clarity and sprayed the new ones with WD40 and then worked them well before cleaning off the excess.  

I also found that it helps to leave them at least overnight before using them in anger.  I have also prepped a page of perforations ready to snip out to make sure I can get it right.  Some are from the fine grid, which I prefer, and some from the bold grid, which I am not so keen on.

I started snipping picot about 15 years ago but really improved with the help of an experienced tutor more recently.  However, with the change of scissors, I really feel I have to go back to basics and do a lot of practice to get it right again.  It really is a case of lots of practice to succeed at any skill.

One of Leonie's phrases from her sticker collection seems apt.  Lots of people are scared to try the picot cutting.  Don't be.


Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Wednesday - more photos

These are more general shots from the Clarity Open Days at Ditton.  Any of you who did not manage to get there this time, you missed a brilliant time.  I hope you manage to get there next time.  For £6 per day, you experience great tuition and help by the creme de la creme of great tuition and the chance to see just what your crafting goodies can produce.  You get fun and friendship from so many like-minded people.  Just look at the fun in these last photos.

Paul and Maria sharing the very last of Ruth's beautiful cakes.

Sam is still busy with her inking and stamping.

Some of Maria's watchers listening to Barbara doing the final raffle.  For those who were not there, part of your entry includes a raffle ticket which functions all day, when Barbara does a draw every hour on the hour.  The prizes are all very generous.

No idea what the joke was but it was obviously good.  Either that or hysteria after two full on days had set in.

Maria behind her little tree.

And finally ....... the lovely Linda Williams.  I did not manage to get to watch her this time.  I also missed Lou Withers and Martine Smith, and I failed to get any photos of Barbara.

Thank you all at Clarity for all the work you put in to make this such a great event for all of us.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Tuesday is tidy up day

Here are the second batch of photos from the Clarity Open Days.  I do seem to have taken a lot of Sam Crowe, a lot of them from my position at the corner of Tina Fox's table.

What that lady can do with a gel plate!  Wow!  She started off with just two at a time, the big one and one of the Petites, lots of inks, mainly the mini Archivals, and also the Viva Decor paints, the ones that 



From Sam, I edged my seat closer to the corner to chat with Tina, and learn how she does her beautiful parchment embroidery and beading.

Tina's work is so beautiful and distinctive.  I love watching her adding colour, and embellishments in her own way, but making sure the rest of us can follow and try it out for ourselves.

Here is just a bit of her work and that of the design team.

See the rows of beautiful haematite beads, adding more bling to this one.

I believe that this sample was created by Glynis Whitehead.  There are no holes on the plates for the flowers, but Glynis has adapted the design to add beads for the centres.

Karen Wheatland, Lynne Bishop and Rosalind McClellan listening and watching intently to Tina.

Not sure what Lynne was explaining so intently here.

Right, that's your lot for today.  More will follow tomorrow.  I want time today to play with some of my new goodies before I forget how to use them.  I am looking forward to seeing lots of your pictures of your experiments after watching the experts.  Have fun and have a great day.  Damp outside so perfect for crafting instead.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Monday is for Mindfulness - maybe

What a fantastic time we all had down at Ditton in Kent.  I have no idea how many came in the end to the Clarity Open Days extravaganza, but everyone had a blast.

I promised photos when I got home, so be prepared.  There are a lot.  I will split them so they will not all appear today.  There are some people I missed, which is a shame, like the lovely Glynis on the Snip Clinic.  I went straight to her on Friday morning for some snipping advice.  I need a lot of practice and probably over a long time to beat my problem.

Any way, here we go!

Maria was my next port of call, demoing the beautiful Mirror Mist, combined with the acrylic shapes, gliding flakes, glitter and the Viva Decor paints.  Here are two of the beautiful things she was making, such a talented lady and so generous with her help and ideas.

Aren't they lovely?  I can see so many uses for these shapes.  Here you can see Maria sharing her skills with us all, adding the Viva Decor paint to the stamped design before spraying it with the Mirror Mist.

I can't wait to have a go myself.  I have already used the Mirror Mist to put the mirrored surface behind my engraved peacock, and loved the effect.  Christmas decs, mirrors safe for children, keyring, pendants, the list of possibilities goes on.

From Maria, I managed to get a space to watch Leonie.  Her enthusiasm is so infectious, and she is so keen to pass on her ideas and knowledge.  Gel plates, stamps, inks, paints, prayer, often all mixed together.  Sadly, no photos for some reason.

Then it was on round the room to Mike and Shona Bossom and their encaustic art.  I reckon they sold a huge number of their starter kits.  I got a space on Mike's Make and Take, and I showed you my results a couple of days ago.  Everyone followed the same instructions and came away with beaming smiles and different looking pieces.  It is unpredictable art, although you have some control.  If you don't like the result, you can clear it off and start again.  People who tried it showed their pictures to anyone and everyone they saw, and those people rushed off to book their own slot.

This is my last photo for today, a more general view of the room, a much bigger space than previous years, but full of a very happy, inspired buzz all day.

I must say a big thank you to those who worked so hard to provide us with our lunches and all day drinks to keep us all going. You did a superb job.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Saturday - Start Something new

Just one of the many photos I took today at the fantastic second day of the Clarity Open Days at Ditton Community Centre in Kent.  However, all the others are on my camera so you will have to wait to see those until I can transfer them onto the computer.

What I really want to do tonight is to say a huge thank you to Barbara and the entire Clarity team, those we usually see front of house and those who work so hard in the background.  Each year it gets better and this year was no exception.

Two days superb demos from the best, hours of hints, tips, how to use everything that Clarity excels in.  Anyone who missed it this year, make sure you are there next year. Everyone had a smile on their faces.

Yes, we spent a lot of money over the two days, but the best part was chatting with friends, old and new.  You cannot bottle that great atmosphere.

Thank you, Clarity.  You rock!

Friday, 14 June 2019

Friday - Finish Off Day

Not a totally normal finishing off here.  However, I did finish with my dithering over whether to get my encaustic kit out for its first airing.

Like a lot of Clarity fans, I spent the day down at Ditton in Kent at the Open Days.  It was lovely to meet up with so many people, some for the first time.

Mike and Shona Bossom, good friends of Barbara, were there demoing their fabulous encaustic art and doing make and takes all day.  I bought the kit ages ago but now I can wait to get it out and go for it.

This was my first test piece, just to get the feel of it and it taught me so much, not least that it was nothing to fear.  Then we went for it, under Mike's instructions and this was what I achieved.  I am so chuffed with it.  It will be framed and hung somewhere in the house.

So be warned, folks, you could be receiving cards made like this in the near future.

I will write more about the Open Days in the very near future.  If you are in the Ditton area tomorrow, come along for a great day.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Monday for mindfulness

Just to tell you, I am about to be arrested for fraud.  That is, according to the recorded message I have just received from BT.  It is related to a problem with my internet.

Should I panic and press the button to speak to the engineer?  Definitely NOT!!!!  However, this could be a very scary call to receive for a lot of people.  The threat of immediate arrest would scare many people into following the instructions in this message.  

I have the benefit of knowing (a) I am not with BT anyway and (b) BT would never make such phone calls.  Another pointer to this being a scam is that the voice is American, unlikely to be genuine for this country.

It is hard to believe that anyone would be so cruel as to deliberately frighten people in this way.  I wonder if they ever think how it would be if their relatives were targeted in this way.  Sadly, these scammers probably never think that way.  All they want is the money they can scare people into handing over after extracting information from them

I have, many times, talked about ways of avoiding scams on the internet.  Never take part in those apparently harmless quizzes about the first pet you had, your first school etc.  They are not harmless at all.  When you look at them, it is surprising how much personal information you are giving away, information that is often used by us to decide on passwords and secret questions for example.  Just don't take part and you will avoid one possibility of getting your accounts hacked.

The other important thing to remember is that if an offer seems especially good, too good to be true, then it is almost certain that it is a scam.  Offers like Tesco (or other companies) are giving away £50 vouchers to everyone who applies today and shares the post are definite scams.  Before you press that button to win the voucher or the campervan which is available free due to overproduction, just STOP and THINK.  No company could possibly afford to make such an offer.  They would be bankrupt.

Then there are the offers saying that Fred Bloggs (other names available) has failed to claim his prize of a free holiday, so the holiday is now up for grabs again.  All you have to do is to apply before 5pm and fill in the form.  Another scam designed to draw you in and get your details.

So, as we start another week, stop and think logically before you press that button, whether it is on your phone or on the internet.  Five minutes will make no difference if it is genuine, but it will allow you to avoid being scammed.

Be more aware.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Friday - Finish off day

Not much finishing off today, but I did come across this part done sketch.  As a child, I loved drawing, mainly horses (my passion), birds and architecture.  I had my pleasure in drawing knocked out of me at school and am still struggling to get back to it.  

This is my attempt to draw a very imposing house down near Bridport in Dorset.  It is only a tiny sketch book that fits in my handbag, so you can see that I did not get very far.  Since then, I have done nothing.  So today, I have decided to "finish off" my avoidance of pencil and paper, and try to do a little every day.

It is so easy to be put off doing things because we believe we are not good enough.  At this stage of my life, I can now see that we are all wrong to be led down this path.  It is never too late to go back to these things or to start a new path in life.  Drawing is just a small piece of paper.  It does not matter if you don't get it right first, second or third time.  Just keep trying, just a few minutes a day.

A number of my friends have been and still are going through difficult times at the moment.   I hope they can find some kind of support from family and friends, and some kind of solace from their hobbies.  

When Geoff died so suddenly, I made the decision that I needed to change my life radically, and I have never regretted that decision.  That was my way of coping.  It may not be right for everyone.

I have heard the same comment from a number of people on Facebook this week, telling us that they are afraid to travel alone or to drive alone.  There is one lady, however, who, after dealing with the immediate trauma, really grabbed hold of life with both hands, and drove her camper van (they are not tiny vehicles) on a grand tour, doing things she would not have done before.

My first long drive on my own was to Dorset to visit friends.   I had planned my journey very carefully, looking at the map book, writing the important  points on Post-it notes on the dashboard, checking it out at street level on Google Earth, plus my trusty SatNav.  All this planning did not stop a rising tide of panic, and I had to pull in at the first services and sort myself out.  An hour later, I was able to set off again and had a pleasant time with my friends.

I am rambling again and have twisted today's theme rather.  If you are afraid of something, try to grab hold of it and beat that fear.  Little steps first, but then "finish off" that fear.  

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Thursday is for tip and techniques

I am not doing any tips today.  Having watched the very moving views of the D Day Commemorations yesterday and today, I do not feel it would be appropriate.

To watch those veterans, so determined to pay their respects, certainly brought tears to my eyes.  What they saw, and heard and experienced cannot be forgotten by them and never should be forgotten by us or by our descendents.

I am watching this morning's service right now, having had to go out part way through, and I am not ashamed to admit the tears are pouring down.  So many of those men have never spoken of what they experienced until now, and, in the last part of their lives, are facing those horrors again to pay their respects to those who were cut down in their youth next to them.

We must never forget the huge numbers of young men, sons, brothers, finances, husbands who gave their lives to ensure we could live in a world where we are free to have opinions, free to have our own beliefs.

Remember them and teach your children to understand and remember them always!