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.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Grandaughter's mishap

This is just a very quick post to let everyone who enquired about our grandaughter after her accident, that she is full of energy and things seem to be healing well.  It could have been so much worse.  Thank you all for your good wishes, and a very Happy New Year to all of you.  See you in 2011.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas - the good and the bad

We had a good day, the weather allowing us to join up as a family after all the "shall we " or "shan't we" worrying about the depth of the snow.  The three (so far) grandchildren enjoyed each other's company, with the youngest teaching the older two a new game - roll round the floor like me.  Everyone seemed happy with their presents, although I am now in trouble with our daughter for giving her daughter lots of glitter as part of her present.  Their whole house is now well and truly glittered, but it is Christmas, after all.  Youngest grandaughter loved the paper and her cousin's wiggly worm, and did not even notice that her real present got stuck in the snow somewhere.  I cannot wait to play with my set of Aquamarkers and my mega sun tool etc.

The slightly bad was as a result of a dying cooker, which has been playing up for some time and chose this week to really be a pain.  Everyone was very kind and said the dinner was great, but I know it wasn't quite right.  The real test was the failure to produce a decent Victoria Sandwich.  So today (after a lot of research on the wonderful net) we went out to a well known electrical store and ordered a new dual fuel range cooker (beating the rise in VAT).

We also managed to get through the snow to visit our friends as we usually do.  Fortunately, most of the roads were passable with care, and they managed to get to us yesterday to return the visit.  It is a good thing the roads had improved as we had to use the small car since the battery on the Disco was flat yet again.  another job to sort that out properly after the Bank Holidays are over.

The really bad could have been far, far worse.  Our son and his family left us just after lunch and got back home safe and sound.  Then, while drying our grandaughter after her bath, a piece of wood from the ceiling (protecting and hiding the electrics for the lights) fell and hit her right by her eye.  Needless to say, that was a swift trip to A&E for treatment.  She was brilliant, not crying once and allowing the staff to clean out the wound and glue it without any fuss.  She is full of energy and life now, and seems fully recovered, and has so far left the dressing alone.  It could have been so much worse, so we shall just think of the positive.

The snow is now going which is a good.  Lets just hope it goes slowly and allows the land to absorb all the water without flooding.

Friday, 24 December 2010

A very Merry Christmas to everyone

The last card is done, still to write.  One pressie to wrap.  The Royal Icing on the Christmas cake is done (a bit late but I only did the marzipan this morning - it will be fine), the sherry trifle is just waiting for the cream on top tomorrow - half a bottle of brandy has fed the cake so that should be good, and a lot of sherry in the trifle.....never mind we are not driving afterwards.  The potatoes, parsnips and carrots are ready to throw in the roasting tin tomorrow - they are out in the conservatory, a very good extra fridge in this weather. The gravy cake is made and cooling - those that know me will know that this is a lemon meringue pie without the pastry but on a biscuit base instead.  After it has sat for a day, the meringue leaks into the base as a brown gravy like liquid.  Sounds strange but tastes great and there is never any left.

Now it is time for my hard working husband to finish off his Christmas quiz for our friends, then we can settle down with a nice drink and gather ourselves ready for the onslaught.

Hope you all have a great time tomorrow - and remember that this life is not a rehearsal, live it to the full.  Remember those who have gone, but cherish the thought that their lives were good.


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Plea to all drivers in bad weather especially.

Please can all of you find out exactly where the correct tow points are on your vehicles, especially in this nasty snowy weather.  Most owners of 4 wheel drive vehicles will be only too glad to give you a tow, but they will be less keen to get down and lie in the snow just to find out where to attach their rope.  We and all the members of the Midland Rover Owners Club carry tow ropes as standard equipment and will help all those we can.

After the experiences of friends who had to travel from Cardiff up to their home in Worcestershire in dire conditions on Monday, if any of you have to travel even just down to the supermarket, follow the advice on the local radio station websites.  Carry spades, plenty of extra warm clothing, food for at least a day, plenty of hot liquids, and make sure your phones are fully charged.  Look after yourselves and stay safe.


This is my new craft room, as far as we can get before the weather improves.  I am back in my own room, with loads of extra space due to the hot water tank and airing cupboard having been removed.  As you can see, my actual desk is fairly clear at the moment, with only the card for our eldest grandaughter in progress.  I am sure the tidiness will change, and there is one more cupboard to come back in once we have finished sorting out the power supplies for my light, heat guns, Silhouette etc.  The computer, printers and other peripherals have their own surge protected supply, and are running now.  My lovely new printer, bought to print thicker card, does just what I wanted.

As you can see, I am heavily into Really Useful boxes - I just need to reprint all the labels and make sure they reflect just what is really in each box.  My stamps , pens and a lot of other bits are still in my temporary room, as are the files with all my peeloffs, but they are waiting for Geoff to be able to get out and get more timber to put up the shelves for those.  The narrow shelf fitment in front of my workspace still need to be fixed to t he wall again.  They are so useful for all sorts of bits and pieces,craft knives, baby Xyron, ink pads, glitters etc.

As things progress, I will post further photos, weather permitting.  I am so grateful to my lovely husband for his help and support and his clever ideas to give me the maximum useful space.

 This is one reason why my craft room had to be at least partly done. The cupboard with all the Christmas decs in was behind a bookcase behind my temprary workspace.  This little illuminated village goes up every year and we always try to find something little to add each year.  The grandchildren love it and a lot of the grown up children too.  Flash photos do not show it to its full advantage.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Fingers crossed....

37 kettles of boiling water and an hour of the hair dryer and we have heat.  Just hoping it lasts.  The Christmas tree is up, only 3 cards left to make, the little Christmas village is set up and illuminated, and we are relaxing for a while with a drink, watching Mamma Mia.  The neighbours are out so the volume is nicely turned up.

Still need to make the marzipan and ice the cake and make some more mince pies, but no-one can get here so there is no rush.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and an even better New Year, with lots of new crafting toys to play with.  Love to all of you.

I hate snow!!!!!!

Our brand new heating boiler has frozen up and will not work.  Geoff needs to get at the pipe outside, but the Discovery is parked in front of it with its brand new battery totally flat.  At the moment he is busy with the hair dryer trying to defrost things.  Why do things always pack up just when you really need them?  It goes so cold so fast in this weather too.  Geoff may be going down to the fuel store to get the fire going to get some heat back into the house,

On a brighter note,I can now use at least half my new craft room.  The rest must wait until after the snow goes as we need more timber to finish things off and put up shelves.  However, the computer is in there and hooked up to all its peripherals.  My new printer is out of its box, installed and working well.  It will print on the thicker card which is why I bought it.  Hopefully, if we have any heat by thenm I can get myself sorted out and get some work done tomorrow.  I still need to make two more cards, and sort out a good crafting present for my eldest grandaughter.  I may be taking the halogen heater up there.

Roll on summer!!!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Lights with hats on

This one just made me laugh, with all the so-called solar lights with their little hats on - I guess they are not going to get much solar charging for a while.  They look a little like fairy castles with towers like a French chateau.

It does seem to have stopped snowing at the moment, so maybe we can get out tomorrow to replenish supplies, and even more wood perhaps to finish off the worktops and shelving in my craft room.

Whatever happens to my craftroom before Christmas, I need it to be tidy for Christmas Day as it is the only room we can blackout for our little grandaughter to have her nap, that is if the weather allows us to have Christmas at the proper time rhis year.  Last year, we had our family gathering in March this year.

More white stuff - bother it!

I really wish this new lot of snow had not come today.  It is beautiful but it is messing up my new craft room.  Geoff needs to go to B&Q for more wood but there is no way we can get the car out, and even less chance of getting back as we live at the top of a hill.  He will have to concentrate on just one side of the room until normal conditions return.  He has done so well with it so far, and I cannot wait to just get in there, sit down at my new desk and gloat about all the extra space (that came from removeing the hot water tank and the airing cupboard.  The plasterer came last week, the the painting was done in time for the carpet this week.  The first worktop is now in place and the supports ready for the next one.  Hopefully, by Tuesday (in spite of the weather), I shall be able to get things sorted out in there and start using it.

Every time I look out, the snow is just getting heavier.  So long as it lets us out to get to the butcher's next week for the Christmas meat, that is all I am bothered about.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Anniversary card

This should have been such a simple card to do, but everything went wrong.   Even the photo is not very good.  First, the Silhouette refused to cut properly, chewing rather than cutting.  With Shaz and Doug's help, that was sorted.  I cut the basic shapes, which was the card and the individual hearts (taken from LCM Griffiths' Crystal Dreams disc).  I actually simplified the outlines using the Silhouette Studio software.  I cut the card from the deeper mauve card, and the hearts from the same card and from a very pale mauve/silvery card.  Then I could not decide what to do next, so I took it downstairs and put it up on the cupboard by the TV so every time I looked at the TV, I could see the card.  Eventually, the ideas came.  I put the individual hearts through the Xyron, then sprinkled them with Martha Stewart glitter (I love that stuff), again in two colours, glued each one into place with Pinflair glue.  Then I decided I did not like it as a straightforward DL card, so I added a piece of the silvery card to the back to extend it, went round the outside and the inside edges with two different colours of glittery peeloffs.  The insert was created by manipulating several images in My Craft Studio, as well as the word art feature.  That was matted and layered, another darker mauve heart glued into the centre, and then a line of glitter added to the edges, using the Quickie glue pen.  In the end, the whole card turned out quite well and was well received.

If there are any tips to be seen in this card, it is not to panic when you get stuck.  Just put it where you keep seeing it all the time, and eventually inspiration will strike.  It may take a couple of attempts to get it right, but don't throw anything away.  Give it time.

Get the camera out

This picture may find itself on a card at sometime in the future.  We have been so lucky so far in this area with all the heavy snow going around us, but the rime on the trees, just as the sun was coming up, was so beautiful.  In addition to using the whole picture, I am aiming to use part of it, the interlacing twigs, to create a background paper for other cards.  All I want now is to get some good bird pictures from the birds on our feeders and trees, but they are clever and very camera shy and only seem to arrive when the camera is at the other end of the house.  I think I need to set up the video on a tripod and perhaps collect the odd still from that.  Having seen a woodpecker, very briefly, the other day, I am desperate to get a better view and identify the species.  I am so jealous of everyone else's beautiful robin pictures and others.

Maybe, when I get back into my craft room and I can sit next to the window again, I might get to see the shots I really want.  That moment is coming closer, with the plasterer up there right now, doing the ceiling.  The carpet fitter is booked for next Thursday, then my cupboards can move back.  Geoff is busy designing the layout of worktops and shelving for me, separating the IT stuff from the sticky, glittery stuff.  I cannot wait.

The main urgency to get this done now is that all our Christmas decorations are in the cupboard behind all my craft cupboards, and we want them all up ready for the grandchildren when they come.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Tips collected from others, and some from me

I am convinced that there are little spy cameras all over our house, 'cos every time I get what I think is a good idea, I see it instantly somewhere else.  It all goes to prove that there is nothing really new anywhere, just adjustments of old ideas.

I have been having problems recently with blades, cutting types of all kinds - craft knives, rotary cutters, die cutters - you name it and it needed help.  I have an excellent scissor sharpener (Fiskars) which deals with those instantly and returns all scissors to scalpel sharpness (not sure about curved parchment scissors though).  My Westcott rotary cutter was beginning to chew paper rather than cut it, then I looked at the channel the blade runs through - totally choked with glue and other gunk.  The end of the tweezers soon dug that out, but the cutting did not really improve until I found a tip on several other web sites about kitchen foil.  It needs to be the strong turkey type foil.  Run your blade through that a few times and you do not need to hunt out an expensive replacement.  The same type of foil works just as well for that apparently blunt blade on your Silhouette / Craft Robo etc.  Just lay a sheet of the foil on your carrier sheet and set your machine to cut several straight lines and that really helps.  I am told that it also brightens up your punches, although I have not personally tried it, and Shaz Silverwolf reminded me today that punching through wax paper helps them to run more smoothly (Thanks, Shaz).

If you fancy making use of your old photos and transferring them to your cards or scrapbooks, try Barbara Gray's tip, get some nail varnish remover (from Sainsbury's - apparently that works where others may not), a make up sponge.  Do a copy (black and white) using your inkjet printer / scanner (you may need to flip it horizontally to get the final image the correct way round), lay that image on your desired media face down, dampen with nail varnish remover on the make up sponge, rub over with the back of a spoon, carefully lift the paper to see if the image has taken.  If not continue rubbing until it does, then remove the paper from the top and allow to dry.  Again, I have not yet tried this, but it is next on my list, although I did something similar as a centrepiece for an anniversary cross stitch.

Don't splash out loads of money buying new sticky carrier mats for your die cutter, just give it a quick blast with something like the repositional Stick and Spray from Crafters Companion, or some other repositional glue.

After you have run something through your Xyron, just give it a quick rub, and run your nail round the edge to break the glue away, and cut down the amount of unwanted glue from the edge.

If you do get glue in the wrong place and cannot remove it withour damage, just sprinkle a tiny amount of baby powder over it and shake off the excess before rubbing it gently.  Baby powder also helps to destick your hands while you are in the middle of a job.

Other things to keep close are kitchen paper, baby wipes and Crafters Companion Stick away for cleaning up all that adhesive that gets everywhere you don't want it, tumble drier sheets (the dry ones) for lubricating parchment before embossing.

If I think of anything else I have found out, I will post it here.  Now I am off to try out my Silhouette again now it is working properly, and make some Christmas cards.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Christmas is coming!

This is another card using MSC Craft e'Christmas, the Star of Wonder disc.  The base card is printed with one of the backing sheets.  Then the topper was printed several times to get the layers I needed to give depth, the main one mounted onto deep blue mirri card, then the tree mounted off centre as it is on the original topper.  The stripes on the right were also cut from the topper and then mounted on top of the stripes on the original topper.  The sentiment was also mounted on the blue mirri card and finished off with three gems.  I also put gems on the centres of the stars, just for a bit more glitz. The background of the topper looks shiny.  It isn't but just beautifully created to show light and shade.  This card was done for the launch of the set of discs, but as we were on holiday in a gloriously sunny Cornwall that week, I have no idea if it was ever shown.  I am afraid I only saw whatever was on while I had breakfast.  There are times when holidays beat crafting hands down.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Buying from EBay - a warning!

I have bought a lot of things from sellers on EBay and have had no complaints about them.  I have had good service and my only complaint was swiftly and efficiently dealt with by the seller.  I always check the price of any item I am buying, looking elsewhere on the web.  Then I decide what is my very top bid, having also checked and factored in the cost of postage and packing (beware of things from foreign climes - the postage can be far more than the item and may also incure import duty, which is astronomical).  I only ever put in one bid.  If I do not get it, then it was not meant for me.  Do not get caught up in a bidding war.

I have been watching a number of things recently, and been ready to put in a bid.  One was Crafters Companion Ultimate Pro - a great piece of kit.  It was second hand but it went for £37 with £5 postage and packing.  Brand new from Crafters Companion (with good backup and help line) and other EBay sellers, it costs £39.95 with FREE postage and packing.  Which would you rather have?  No contest!!

My tip is always factor in to your costs the P&P.  Even buying out on the net, you can usually get through to the point of getting the full price including P&P without committing yourself to buy.  P&P varies wildly.

Cost of going to shows - is it worth it now?

I had to share the glorious autumn colour with everyone.  What a change today - very few leaves have survived the onslaught of the wind and rain of the last 24 hours.  Winter is definitely pushing in.

Going back to the point of this post, how many of you out there think that the cost of going to shows is becoming prohibitive now?  At the NEC, the cost of parking your car has risen 25% in the past 3 years, from £6 to £8, and the cost of a senior citizen ticket has also shot up.  I had thought of going this year, but other committments stopped me from going on Thursday or Friday.  I spoke to others who had been, and not been very impressed with the show, complaining that all the stalls were much the same, apart from the odd one or two with good demonstrators.  After a lot of thought overnight, I decided, with a little encouragement from my husband, that I wasn't going.  Instead, I used the money I would have spent on car park, petrol and entry (and the allowance I would have spent in the show) to buy more of the goodies I really wanted.

With all the craft programmes on TV and the ease of shopping online (checking the prices from a comfortable chair with a hot coffee and cake beside me) is it now worth while going to the shows.  For me, it is not worth while.  What does anyone else think?

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Taste of the Orient

The images on this were taken from Robert Addams Goes East CD ROM.  The card was black textured card from the Papermill range.  I decoupaged the image - cutting out the orchids was a real pain, but well worth the effort in the end.  Unfortunately, I do not have Japanese characters among my fonts, so I settled for doing the sentiment in a font that could be ready by the recipient, printing it on vellum, and immediately embossing it with silver powder.  This is one of the techniques I learned from Shaz at Silverwolf Cards.  On this occasion, I put the sentiment into a text box in WordPerfect (my word processor of choice, but you could do it in Word or Works) and put a border round it, embossing that at the same time.  You do need to be very organised to do this and have your powder ready to sprinkle the instant the printer allows you to grab the paper.  You will also need to experiment a little with your own printer's settings to ge the right level of ink.  I find that if you choose a high quality print, it is too slow going through the printer and has already dried too much to take the embossing powder, so on my printer I have settled for a simple Text print.  You can do more than one sentiment at a time, but try to get them in a line at the bottom of the page, and don't go for more than one row at a time, otherwise you may find you cannot get the powder to stick.  You may wonder why I say the bottom and not the top of the page.  That is because my one printer will not recognise vellum / parchment and I need to attach a piece of ordinary copy paper to the back with repositional glue and put them through together. and I just find it easier to print from the bottom and cut off the bottom of the paper.  You do have to remember when you do the next one that your paper is now not A4 and move your sentiments up a little.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Christmas is coming fast!

This one is so simple and cheap.  All you need is a pre-folded white DL card, an offcut of blue card (you can use any colour you choose)some holographic wrapping paper, three gems and a peel off.  I just cut three squares from the wrapping paper, stuck them down the centre of the offcut card, mounted that in the centre of the card, put a gem into the centre of each square of wrapping paper, and a peel off Merry Christmas to finish off.  The result you get will vary with the design of the wrapping paper, but it is simple and quick to do.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Sewing a card

Do you remember doing string art at school or making designs by drawing straight lines?  That is how I found this design, by doing a search along those lines on the net.   The central design of flowers and leaves was downloaded free, while the border came from a stencil I already had, and I cut the edge of the card to fit it.  I pricked it all out and used Guterman sparkly threads to sew the designs, only two colours, which I think made it more effective in its simplicity.  Dufex pens were used to colour the peel off to match the flowers as closely as possible.  The insert covered over the thread ends to tidy things up.  It was a bit fiddley, but well worth the effort.  You do need to be careful not to pull the threads too tightly otherwise it is too easy to pull through and damage the holes.


This is one of the samples I made recently for the 3rd birthday celebrations of My Craft Studio.  I used one of the images I was sent, and took the box shape from Joanna Sheen, resized it, and put my image on the top, and made 6 notelets to go in it, toegther with the envelopes from MCS (also resized).  I used Pinflair peel offs to decorate the top, and finished the box with some lovely gold ribbon from my stash to complete the project, which was actually shown on two of the programmes.

A Thank You Card

This card was for a thank you to friends after spending the day with them, for a yearly reunion.  While we were there, I took lots of photos of their garden, especially small areas of plants.  When I got home, I created a box of notelets, each with a different photo of their garden.  Then I took this picture of a primrose plant, and turned it into an easel card.  The main picture was mounted on to mirri card.  The background was produced by taking the photo and blurring it, and reducing the opacity (using My Craft Studio).  The sentiment was colour matched in My Craft Studio, and mounted with Pinflair glue.  Using photos like this means you can give a card that is totally unique to the recipient.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

I love learning new things

Thanks to Robyn Cockburn for her original design for this card.  I hope it lives up to her standards, but I did enjoy working it out.  This is for the Ruby Wedding of friends, so I added the 40 and the name tag, working in My Craft Studio with the new text feature, pricking them out using a grid to keep things straight, and then cutting them out by hand.  The flower in the middle  was coloured on the right side with Derwent water colour crayons and blended.  Then I followed a tip by Wendy Walters to burnish it with a large ball tool, and attached it using invisible thread - I do hate that stuff, the way it tangles.  The card is from the PDA Majestic and Stardream range.  This is the most advanced effort I have made with parchment, and although it takes so long, I felt a real sense of achievement in completing it.  I must say, though, I would not do parchment work cards for anyone I thought would not appreciate the time and effort that goes into it.

As as result of this, I now have a "little list" of new tools I really NEED.  They will have to go on my Christmas list for a couple of years, I think.

Friday, 15 October 2010

My desk!!!!

This is my temporary home, trapped in a corridor shaped area, between the dismantled double bed and the wall, while my craft room is being demolished and put back together again.  the airing cupboard with the hot water tank has now gone, which is the good news.  The bad news is that, as in most rooms in our  house, the plaster is only being held on the wall by the wallpaper.  That all has to come off and be replaced before things can start to get back to normal.  So we need to wait for the plasterer to be free to come back.  Meanwhile, my very kind husband has slotted most of my stash in its cupboards into this tiny space.  I have just enough room to sit on my swivel chair, and turn round with extreme care.  My computer is useable but I cannot find room to set up my Silhouette, or even get to the Sissix, but, I can still craft, which is good.  I cannot wait to get back to my new room, which should have treble the working space, now the airing cupboard has gone, and room to spread my cupboards, with shelves on the wall for discs and files etc, hooks for my reels of tape, my ruler and my two heat guns.  Bliss!!!

I have just finished my latest batch of samples, so I need to spend a concentrated session getting to grips with the rest of the birthday cards I need to do for this year, do a few more Christmas cards (having found the box with my Christmas stash in).  Then I want to sort out all my stamps.  I have some totally unused because I could not find them when needed, so an index is needed with a much better system of storage for them.

Indexing is also needed on the computer to enable me to find the actual file I need for a given project.  All my prerecorded bought discs are copied and stored on the external hard drive for ease of use.  My problem is with the mountain of other files accumulated over the years - photos, decoupage sheets (some mine, some bought or downloaded from others), parchment designs etc.  The trick is to sort them properly without losing them.  What fun!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Manipulating images

One minor gripe I have with My Craft Studio is that it does not handle pdf files.  This may not sound very interesting but when you have a lot of discs where all the images are in pdf form and you want to manipulate one of them to create a different format, it can be irritating.

I have got round this problem using another program to convert the pdf to jpg format.  For this card, I took the image and the insert from the latest Joanna Sheen / Pamela West CD, and copied them into Roxio Photosuite, then saved them as jpg's (make sure you know where you have saved them to on your computer - you can waste hours trying to find missing images).  From there, I was able to then take them into My Craft Studio, and resize them to suit my needs.  The image on the front is as designed by Pamela West, cut out and mounted onto holographic card, and then onto the backing paper.  The insert was resized to fit the card I had, then I digitally punched out an oval, into which I put the text.  With My Craft Studio, you can match the colour of your text to any part of your design.  I picked the darkest part of the twigs, and then darkened the text a little from that to make it stand out but still tone in well.  To get the sentiment strip across the front of the card, I cropped the insert to keep just the section with the vertical lines, then turned them through 90 degrees to go across.  I found that I could not get the text to show up satisfactorily on that background, so I went back to the insert and cropped out a small section of the main background, and digitally placed that on top of the strip with the lines, put the text on top of that and printed it as one complete image.  Both the image and the sentiment strip were mounted on the card with narrow shaker tape to give some dimension.  This card was to be given by hand so I used the thicker shaker tape, but if it was to be posted, you could use the thinner tape, or just design the whole thing digitally and print it out as a flat design.  I did this initially to assess if the end result would be as I wanted.  Doing it on the computer first saves using expensive ink printing things you really don't want in the end.

 I thought this particular design from Pamela West was a good one for a male card, always a problem to sort out, especially if your subject is not too keen on sports or cars.

Using what you have

This is an anniversary card I made for friends who spend a large part of their year touring with their caravan and with Land Rovers.  The advert on the front was found on the internet, and I just aged it a little with distress inks round the edge.  Then I found an old black and white image of a trip to Europe by the Land Rover Club, changed it to sepia, mounted the advert on that and then mounted the whole thing on a hammered card, which I also aged with the same distress ink.  The insert was also the same photo, turned to sepia, with a section digitally cut out to add the text.  The program I used to manipulate the images was Roxio Photosuite, but I would probably use My Craft Studio now, which enables you to match the colour of the text exactly to bring everything together.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

My First Award

I was given this award by my Co-Mother-In-Law, the very talented Shaz, Silverwolf Cards.  Thank you so much for this, Shaz.  Your crafting and your blog have been a real inspiration to me, and your generosity in pasing on so many useful tips and ideas so freely.  Since I started paper crafting, so many people have helped me, and many without knowing, by use of their excellent blogs and forums.  There is always someone to help with a problem.

The rules for this award are:

1. Thank the person that passed it to you.
2. Copy the award to your blog.
3. Share three things about yourself that you enjoy doing.

4. Pass the award to 5 others.

This is my very first award, so thank you so much, Shaz.  It is very much appreciated and really made my day.

My 3 shares are
1. Rubber stamping, combined with parching (embossing stamped designs, especially the circular ones)
2. Teaching our nutty spaniels new tricks.
3. Reading - almost anything, particularly about animals, although like Shaz I do enjoy a lot of fantasy fiction.

Now for the 5 people I would like to pass this award on to
1.  Viv at Viv's Visuals
2.   Jennie at  The Artistic Stamper
3.  Eileen at  Eileen's Crafty Zone
4.  Julie at  Inspirational
5.  Estelle at  The Stampsmith

There are many others out there, whose work has been really inspirational, but I was only allowed 5 this time.  Every problem or query I have had, I have been able to sort out by looking at someone's blog, and asking a forum.  so thank you, all of you, and please carry on being so kind and helpful.

Monday, 4 October 2010

More TV cards

This is another of the Christmas Parchment sample cards, but this one did involve the use of parchment.  I took one of the designs for a Christmas bauble, and enlarged it, before printing it on parchment.  I embosssed all the straight lines, round the edge, and round the top and leaves, then cut it out with scissors.  I coloured the leaves and berries on the back with Derwent water colour pencils, then attached the parchment to red mirri card, which was also cut to give a narrow border.  Then I matted it onto gold pearlescent card, adding a ribbon bow and peeloff message.  I used a quickie glue pen to put a tiny dot of glue on all the crosses, sprinkling fine red glitter to bling things up a bit.

This card got picked out twice, by Leonie and Sandra, and then by Stephanie, so that was another boost for my ego.  I think it was chosen to show that even beginners can do something worthwhile with parchment.

TV Debut

I have been doing samples for My Craft Studio for about 6 months now, but this is the first one where I have had a chance to see my work on the programmes.  What a buzz!  I know it is a niche market, selling just to crafters, but to know that your work is considered good enough to show by other more experienced crafters is a huge confidence boost.  This particular program is the Christmas Parchment disc, which, initially sent me into a panic, as parchment work was my weakest skill, having only really started in June.  However, I took a deep breath and dived in. I soon realised that most of the images I had been sent were just as applicable to decoupage and other techniques, so that was where I began.

This card is one of the batch I sent in, and involves the use of one of my favourite techniques with acetate and is being shown by Stephanie Weightman.  The image was first printed on plain white card (supersmooth), then flipped and reprinted on acetate as a mirror image, sprayed with adhesive (Crafters Companion Stick and Stay).  The two images were married up with extreme care, then matted and layered on holographic mirri card, then the starburst background, created from the main image, then holographic card again before sticking the whole thing onto supersmooth card, and embelishing it all with peeloffs, and a suitable insert.  I really liked the carol toppers on this cd, which gave an element of the religious part of Christmas without upsetting the less religious people.  I created the insert from one of the backgrounds, matching up the colours and designs on the screen before printing anything.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Celestial Cards

This is my first attempt at using gold leaf.  I have had it for some time, but kept putting off trying because it is so delicate.  The one real essential is talcum powder to keep your fingers from sticking to the delicate gold leaf.  This particular card used the heat treated gold leaf, which gives the dramatic flaring of colour.  The images on this card came from MCS Celestial Horizons CD, and were first flipped to print them on acetate.  Then the background and the topper were cut out and sprayed with adhesive (Crafters Companion Stick and Stay) before applying the gold leaf.  Both were mounted on holographic mirri card, and mounted on Majestic card from PDA Cards.  The Leo banner across the bottom was first printed on white card, then flipped to reverse it and printed again on acetate.  I ran the acetate through the Xyron and matched it up carefully with the card version, which makes the words really pop out.  You could add tiny gems to pick out the stars in the constellation, but I felt that the gold leaf was enough to add drama.  It is quite a simple card to make, but does rely on good straight cutting and careful matching up of words and edges.

Monday, 6 September 2010

I am chuffed!!!!!

Having been taken on as a sample maker for My Craft Studio, I was so pleased (serious understatement) this week to see 6 of my 8 submitted samples shown on the shows this week.  Three of them were even singled out for special mention.  That was really good for me as it was a parchment program, and I have only just started to play with parchment.  I think mine were shown as examples of what a beginner could do, and what you can do with the images without using parchment at all.  Working on this program and watching the experts demonstrating, especially Sandra who is a true parcher, has given me the courage to have a go and extend myself playing with designs, both from the CD and using my old embroidery designs.

Pilkington Christmas - What excellent customer service

Having put out a plea for anyone who knew how to get a set of the Pilkington Christmas Scenes, I finally found a web site selling lots of other Pilkington stamps and emailed them yesterday (Sunday) to see if they could help.  The stamps were not shown on their website, but I had a reply today (Monday) giving me a link to the correct item, despite the fact that their site had gone wrong and lost the picture.  They are now ordered and hopefully on the way, just in time to do Christmas.  So if anyone wants superb customer service, just try www.clevercut.co.uk (link shown in my favourite ones).  I have also got a shipping order in for Clarity Stamps, having watched Barbara Gray for 2 hours.  She really is brilliant, and I have recorded her show to watch the techniques again and again and again...........

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Pilkington Christmas - Has anyone seen these?

I missed buying these when they were on Ideal World, and have been looking for them ever since.  If anyone knows where they can be found, I would be eternally grateful.


This is my first attempt at using the brayer, together with the Big and Juicy Foliage ink pad.  My very first go, ended up as the backing layer,  The second real go did not turn out too badly, having sat and watched Barbara Gray for 2 hours this morning.  Then I had to find a suitable stamp to use this background on.  I had intended to use one of my Pilkington countryside scenes, but I could not find them to begin with - not surprising as I am working in what amounts to a corridor while my craft room is redecorated.  I did come across this stamp, which was at the top of the pile as it was a new one, and it seemed to fit the bill nicely.  The result was trimmed and mounted on another of the silk cards, also trimmed and mounted on the previously created backing layer.  As usual, I now have to make a suitable envelope to fit the trimmed down cardstock - I never work to the size I have.  It may not be a complicated card, but then I am only following Barbara Gray, who did say that if you need to produce a lot of cards in a hurry, this is the style to choose (I wish I were half as good as she is).  I do need a lot of cards in a hurry this month and next month, so I think my brayering technique will get a lot of practice.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Holidays over for now!

This is Marwood Hill Gardens in North Devon - such a photogenic location and source of images for future crafting. Another great week away with friends.  We have been so lucky with the weather this year.  This time, the first part of the week was really beautiful, ending up the week with gale force winds and torrential rain.  The only other problem we had was almost a benefit - no phone coverage on site and no internet access.  That meant I could not update the blog, but I did do some crafting while we were away - some dry embossing with designs I had already printed out at home from the latest parchment disc from My Craft Studio, some water pencil colouring of prints, and a large amount of cross stitch.

This week, my work is to really and completely tidy my craft room in preparation for a partial rewire of the house, during which the electricians will need easy (!!!) access to all areas of the house.  Most of my stache is stored in cupboards with castors.  However, the piles of boxes on the top make it difficult to move them, not to mention the piles of stuff on top of that......... Oops!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Peel offs

Two very different, but simple cards using just peel offs. In each case, I had two different colours of the same design, and used the outline of one, and infilled with the bits from the other colour.  It is a bit fiddly, but very satisfying.  The Christmas one one was easier, but the kimono nearly sent me demented, but the contrasted mix and match brings the design to life.  My favourite of these two is the Christmas one, but that may just be because I love holographic things.

Just the good, today

I got my pictures back!  I finally found the answer amongst the help files.  I had to go into my browser, and clear all recent history, and immediatedly the pictures returned.  Computers are so touchy.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The good and the bad

The bad first -  what has happpened to the blogs overnight?  I seem to have lost most of the photos on my blog for some reason - hopefully they will return just as mysteriously as they went.

The good - our loft is finally getting a good clear out, and one of the goodies that appeared from the depths was my old John Bull Printing Set.  It contains around 40 small stamps.  I have removed them from their wooden bases and intend to clean them up and mount them on Easy Mount or some such cushioning.  Then they will go well with the old embroidery transfers I have resurrected, and the old cigarette cards.  Nothing is wasted.  I did throw away all the wooden mounts, and the ink pad (which still had ink in it, but I do not know what type of ink).  I think the distress inks will suilt them best, fitting in with their age and style.  When I get them sorted I will post some of the results.  I even have all the letters and the frames in which to create the words for stamping.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Guide Dog Emma

These are three of a series of cards I created to donate to the Guide Dog Association during a visit to their centre at Leamington.  The picture came from the front cover of Sheila Hocken's book about her beloved guide dog, Emma.  I wrote to Sheila asking her permission to use this picture, strictly for this purpose, and she was very willing to allow me to do it.  They all used the same basic picture but were slightly different in the way they were mounted, and were finished off with a variety of peeloffs, some coloured with peeloff pens to tone in.  I created a simple insert for each and presented them in cello bags to keep them fresh and smart.  They all sold within 15 minutes for between £2 and £3 each, depending on size, my thank you for a free and enjoyable visit to the centre.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Another Silhouette card

This is a photo I took of a dog belonging to friends.  Using the Silhouette, I was able to cut even the fence slats accurately to give extra depth to the decoupage, adding bushes and the dog on the top of that.  If I had had to cut the slats by hand with a knife or scissors, I would not have done it.  The file is now saved and I can change the size or change it in any other way I like at the click of a button.

The card was sent to the owner as a special, very personal birthday card - no chance anyone else could send the same one.

Start looking at your own photos, animals, flowers, landscapes etc, and see if you can see where to split a picture to make your own individual decoupage.  When my mother was in a nursing home, I used the picture on the front of the brochure to create decoupage cards for them to sell in the home to make a little extra money for treats for the residents (always ask permission before using other people's photos - if you have a good reason, usually you will get permission).  I also made sets of notelets using the same photo for them to sell.

3rd July 2010 - Christmas is coming!

It sounds almost obscene to talk about Christmas when we are in the middle of a heatwave, but all the craft programmes are into it already.  This is one card I did a couple of years ago, just after treating myself to a Silhouette die cutting machine, which links to your computer as an extra printer.  It is just a series of rectangles and semicircles put together to make up the door.  It was rather fiddly fitting together the small rectangles to make the panels, and I recommend the use of silicone glue or something moveable so you can make the fine adjustmenst to get them right.  The letter box was offcuts (card samples, mainly) of black pearlescent card and gold mirri card, with a slight gap between them to allow the insertion of the Merry Christmas.  A strip of gold mirri card along the bottom, and white glitter glue added a bit more bling.  The wreath was from an old card, and scanned in, and reduced to fit, then decorated with red glitter glue.  The cat was one of our own pets.  I used acetate for the windows and a metallic brad for the doorknob..  All the designing and cutting out was done on the Silhouette, fiddly initially, but once it is there, you can reuse and tweak it for another time.

The Silhouette was, admittedly, a relatively expensive investment, but it does allow you to really go to town with more complex cutting.  It earned its place for me by allowing me to cut perfect circles and ovals.  There are loads of free files out there on the internet to download and use, but you can make up your own just as easily.

Any piece of equipment I buy has to earn its place again and again, and this one does.  I have a number of photos I have turned into decoupage, and several files of decoupage sheets downloaded from other generous crafters.  I transfered them into the Silhouette software, and created the cutting files.  Then it is easy to print on your existing printer, then transfer the printed sheet into the Silhouette for cutting.  It uses registration marks printed by your printer to tell the blade where to cut - clever that!

3rd July 2010 - getting ready for another holiday

Cornwall never fails to impress with its sheer beauty and the quality of the light.  This is Mousehole, taken as we drove through (nowhere to park).  We are home for a few days before heading back down the M5 to North Devon for another shorter break this time with friends.
Retirement is such hard work!

Friday, 25 June 2010

25th June 2010 - another pastel card

This card used the same method and the same stencil as the last one, just a little more use of the co-ordinating pastels from Lidl, and a different embellishment to create a slightly different effect.

A quick application of cheap hair spray fixes the pastel to stop it rubbing off. I just used what I had to hand.

25th June 2010 - mixing mediums up

This card was an early one, done when my craft box was quite a small one. I printed the base card with a background paper, downloaded free from the net. Then I added a shaped vellum wrap, embossed and cut with one of my few stencils. I had found a huge box of pastels in the bargain section of Lidl, and used them as chalks (applied with twists of cotton wool - large economy pack) to highlight the embossing andshade the vellum to match the card. A small embellishment and a peel off Happy Birthday finished it off.

Pastels applied to things that appear to have gone wrong can really create brilliant results, that everyone thinks you have spent hours doing.

Monday, 21 June 2010

21st June 2010 - Embossing

This is the embossed design of pansies. The original design for this one came off a Joanna Sheen disc, which is all I had with me this week. I just traced it onto parchment with white water colour and them embossed and shaded it. I will mount it and use it when I get back off holiday.

Relaxing is such hard work - 21st June 2010

A little bit of tweaking and this holiday photo of an old bridge over the River Tavy will probably find its way onto a card sometime in the near future. Our weather so far has been incredible. In fact, we have spent today in the cool of the caravan site on the Lizard Peninsula. We shall go down later to Mullion Harbour to let the dogs have a good swim, lots of fun, and cooling off too. After swimming they both sleep all night - peace for us.

I have done some crafting while we have been away, just a bit of water colouring, and some embossing, trying out new techniques. I have loads of very old embroidery transfers and have experimented with several different techniques. I have scanned them all to computer, so I can print them out whatever size I wish. Printing onto acetate and using pens to colour in can be very effective, then cutting then to mount them in aperture cards. Just mounting them onto plain white card is also good, covering the edge of the acetate with peel offs or some other type of frame.

Another effective technique is to either print them onto vellum, using My Craft Studio Professional, changing the outline colour to pale grey. Then you use your embossing tools to trace the outline, using as much embossing as you wish to achieve a satisfactory result. The shading tool can transform a basic embossing into something really pretty and delicate. Don't try to emboss deeply to begin with, go over each line 3 times gently to avoid puncturing the vellum. Pansies are a really good flower to start with for embossing and shading. I will try to post a photo of pansies tomorrow, once I have transferred it from camera to computer.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Use what you have 2 - 13th June 2010

This is another card done early on, and I would make changes if I did it now. It still uses silver birch bark from our own garden, but also has bark from another tree, which sheds it naturally - the prunus serulla, which produces brilliantly coloured coppery red bark. Again the card was basic white hammered card, trimmed with the decorative scissors. This time, the silver birch hearts were mounted on white glitter card and gold mirri card, but the border down the edge was cut from the prunus bark. I did put strips of glitter down the red bark, but I would probably not do that another time, just let the beauty of the bark speak for itself. The Happy Birthday peel off finished it off.

Use what you have - 13th June 2010

This is a card I made quite early on, when I did not have much in my box. Our silver birches in the garden were shedding huge pieces of bark, as they do each year, and I wondered what I could do with it. I picked the cleanest bits and flattened them under a heavy weight. Then I used the Sissix to cut out the two hearts, which were mounted on a small bit of red glitter card, and then on to an offcut of gold mirri card. The outline heart was stuck directly on to the glitter card and the other placed over the top using foam pads to give dimension. The base card was basic white hammered card, edged with decorative scissors, with a small piece of Happy Birthday paper glued around the crease. It was finished off with a Happy Birthday peel off at the top. The whole thing cost very little, but involved thought and hunting for things to use, bark that was free, and bits of embellishment that were just off cuts.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

June 12th 2010 - Use your brain power and time to save money

This card is an example of achieving an effective card without spending a fortune in money, just time and thought. This is one of Joanna Sheen's images, really clear and sharp. I saw it demonstrated on TV, printing on to expensive gold paper, and thought it was so good that I wondered if I could do something on the same lines. In my cupboard, I had some plain gold printable paper, so I tried printing on that on best quality print, with quite good results. Then I sprayed it with 3 separate layers of Spray and Shine, which really made the tiger pop out brilliantly. The Happy Birthday sentiment on the front was printed on vellum on text print, and instantly embossed with gold. That way you can choose exactly what you say and the design of the font etc to personalise the card completely. Both the image and the sentiment are mounted on gold mirri card, and then onto the base card from the Stardream and Majestic range from PDA Cards.

Today's Tip: At some time, you will almost certainly start on a project which goes wrong. don't bin it or destroy it yet. Put it to one side for a while, then have another look. If you still cannot see a way to recover, keep putting it away and going back to it. It is very rare that a project is totally unrecoverable, and inspiration will hit at some stage and give you something to be proud of.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Use your own photos

This card was very simple once I got a decent photo, which was just being in the right place at the right time. The bumble bee was so co-operative. The photo was matted and layered onto silver mirri card and then onto a backing paper. The backing paper was created from the original photo, by selecting a small area, and blurring it in my graphics program. The base card (Stardream and Majestic range from PDA Cards) was creased and folded to form the main card. The base was covered with the backing paper, the image mounted. The sentiment is matted and layered in the same way as the main image, with the text coloured to match the purple of the crocuses. It is fixed with silicone glue, with a thin layer at the front and built up at the back to create an angle.

First ever posting - 11th June 2010

I thought my birthday was a good day to start this blog. I was inspired to have a go by Silverwolf (Shaz), who is such a talented crafter.

My name is Margaret, and I have been (and still am) happily married to Geoff. Both our children are now married and have given us lovely grandchildren to play with. After years of having nutty Burmese cats, we now have two even nuttier working cocker spaniels to keep us busy and amused.

I only got started on card making 4 years ago when we were asked to do the wedding invitations for our son's wedding. The design
was very plain and simple, with gold peel off stickers - just what they asked for, and carried through to the place cards. Of course, I bought far too many cards and far too many peel offs, so what do you do in that case..... you've got it - you buy more stuff to help you to use it all up. Then you need more equipment and more stuff because you do not quite have the right colour to do the next project. And so it goes on until the craft box becomes a craft room to give you space to work, then you find you are restricted to a small area to sit because the stuff has taken over. It is so addictive.

I have always crafted in some way, starting with embroidery at school. My aunt taught me to knit and she was a very strict teacher, insisting that I kept my fingers on both needles at all time. I cursed her at the time, but I have blessed her many times since for giving me the skills to knit evenly and fast. I taught myself to crochet from a book. Cross stitch started about 10 years ago when I have a bad bout of vertigo and needed to do something where I could keep my head and eyes
perfectly still to avoid feeling sick.

I used to do cross stitch cards for those I thought would value the time and thought I put into it, but now, most of my cards are papercrafted. I keep pictorial records of all the cards I make, together with the date and who it was for - helps to avoid sending the same or similar card to the same person. It is also good to look back and see how I have progressed and to see how I could improve in the future.

I love trying new techniques and I do watch a lot of the craft programmes on QVC and Create and Craft to pick up new ideas. I generally record them and watch the bits I am interested in later. Every so often, I ring Silverwolf and pick her brains about a better way to do something, and find a better and cheaper way to achieve a good effect. The latest craze is to type your own wording to personalise your card, print it out and emboss it. Silverwolf showed me how to do that 3 years ag
o - nothing in this world is totally new.

Acetate is also one of the "in" things to use. Again, something I have been using for 12 months or more, either as a wrap for a card or as an enhancement for the main image. I notice that is now being used a lot on t
he various programmes. A technique that looks good, especially for the stained glass type of image is to print the image as normal on good paper, then flip it on your screen (most graphics programs will give you that facility) then print it onto printable acetate. Cut the acetate with a good border outside the image, turn it over and position it accurately over the paper image. Holding it safely in place, lift a corner and apply adhesive in an area which does not show. Once it is fixed, you can carefully lift each side to apply adhesive, cut it out and use on your card. To hide the adhesive, you could create a border to place over the top. You could also back the acetate image on to silver or gold mirri card.

Commercially produced craft materials are a good way to start, but I do enjoy finding my own ways to produce similar or even better results. The images on Joanna Sheen's discs are brilliant, and can be used in your own graphics program to manipulate them to suit your own project. Do not forget to take your camera wherever you go, and keep your eyes open for anything you could use later. A huge bumble bee on purple crocuses made a fantastic easel card earlier this year. A friend's photo of bluebells carpetting the ground made a superb backdrop with a wrought iron gate (cut on the Silhouette) placed over it. The same friend also took a lovely silhouette of her dog with the backdrop of the Lake District. A little manipulation created another easel card for her birthday this year - something very personal for her.

I intend to add to this blog on a regular basis, adding pictures of some of my cards, and any hot tips I get or discover. Hopefully, I can live up to this. Keep watching.