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 2012

What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday - WOYWW 180

One hundred and eighty!

That is quite an achievement.  Congratulations to everyone and a very big thank you to Julia, who started it all. 

I have just had a horrible shock.  It is not Monday, as I had thought, but Tuesday (this post will be a scheduled one as I may not be around tomorrow).  Where has this week vanished to and I have done nothing on my desk at all.   In fact, the only craft thing I have done this week is to make the Christmas cake, which is now sitting in the kitchen waiting for its daily dose of brandy.  then two weeks before Christmas, it will get marzipaned, with home made marzipan, and then royal iced.

This first picture is not, strictly speaking, on my desk, although the camera that took it is.  However, I reckon that a project using it will soon be here.  These leaves taken on telephoto will make a brilliant Autumn background, and I love the way the sun just glows through them.
Now we get to the nitty gritty mess that is my desk this week.  I am not sure what has happened but I have done nothing in here for a whole week, not through lack of mojo or from lack of things that need to be done, but other things just seem to have got in the way.  so all I have to show you is my babywipe box, two bottles of nail varnish remover (for craft purposes), some papers hurled in the general direction of a spare bit of space, my heat resist mat rolled back out of harm's way, and whatever is on the shelves behind.  Not exactly inspiring.

Now we come to the unit on the other side of the room, very cluttered - files of peel offs, reference books and things, that have no other home, just shoved in the middle.  The filing boxes underneath now actually contain what their labels say they do, which is a novelty.  I still cannot find my foil or the large roll of bin bags, but never mind - they will turn up some day.
This last unit, a Really Useful drawer unit, has now been moved to within reach of my desk, and contains things like my Promarkers, Aquamarker, and Sakura pens among other things - the stuff that I use almost daily.  The cupboard underneath which is mostly out of sight has the rest of my colouring stuff, apart from the boxes of Derwent Pencils which won't fit there.  Also peeping out here is a roll of cling film, a roll of baking parchment and a roll of kitchen foil.  If you look hard enough, you will also see my old red Sissix, and the green Cuttlebug on top of that.
Apart from the shock of finding out I had lost a day completely already this week, it has been a bad day on the technology front.  My computer flatly refused to talk to the network or to the internet, no matter what I did.  Then I realised it was the 13th of the month.  Perhaps, I should not have bothered at all, and just stayed in bed.  A lot of work later and sorting out the network, I am back on line. Normally, I work up here in the afternoon, but I think I am going to have to change and do it in the morning to get everything done this weeek - two DT projects needed, homework for Clarity Classroom, and this month's Clarity Clallenge.  then I just have to persuade my printer that it can work with the refillable inks so that I can do the inserts for the Christmas cards.  Not a lot to do then!

I am off now to schedule this post and get ready for our visitors who I thought would be here tomorrow..  If you have read this far, sorry for going on a bit, but I am sure you will thoroughly enjoy all the other desks on show over at Stamping Ground with Julia.  Please leave me a comment, I love reading them, and I will come to visit you in return.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Craft A Scene - Troubled Skies card 2

This card took me back to my childhood straight away, to my favourite little shop (which does not exist any more).  That was where I first bought charcoal pencils - charcoal covered in nice clean wood to keep your fingers cleaner.  In those days, I only remember just the plain black to use for shading.  Now I have a nice little set from Derwent of tinted charcoal pencils.  Same thing but with added tints to vary things.

When I was lucky enough to be taken on to the Design Team for Craft A Scene, I decided that I needed to really come out of my comfort zone and stretch my brain.  So I have tried to use different styles and different media for each project.  I have never been comfortable with charcoal, so it was always going to be a steep learning curve.  In fact, as a result of this card, I treated myself to a book on the subject, step by step.

I used watercolour card for this one, and stamped the images of the church, tree and clouds with Adirondack Pitch Black. and pulled some of the ink out with a water brush to soften the hard lines..  Then I started on the sky with the dark blue, with some highlights with a slightly paler blue.  Dark green took care of the tree by the church and some of the foliage around the church, while the dark brown shaded the tree in the foreground.    Although the pencils do make it a less messy medium, I still ended up with a mucky finger after smoothing across to break up the harder shading lines.

I used several different colours on the ground, two different shades of green, brown and sandstone, trying to give the impression of grass blowing in the wind.  

I only decided to put in lightning towards the end (see, I don't really plan - things develop).  Having just got hold of a battery eraser from Derwent, I thought this was the time to bring it into use.  It took a bit of time and care to sharpen the point of the eraser to give as narrow and line as possible.  A bit more practice would give a much better result, I am sure.  

The main aim of this card was to produce a sky I saw once up at Haworth outside the Bronte Parsonage Museum there, what I would call a real "Wuthering Heights" sky, which made me understand why the Brontes wrote in the way they did, especially Emily.   I think it does have some of that feel, although I did not put in any of the tombstones you can see at Haworth.   More practice needed, though.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Nuisance calls update

While trawling the web for solutions to these nuisance calls, I came across a site - www.192.com

I would urge you all to go and have a look, and you will be horrified at the amount of data held on you on that site - who lives there, telephone number, how long you have been there, amongst other things. It even has your previous addresses and who lived there with you. As far as I can gather, it is information from Electoral Rolls from before 2002.  That is when a box appeared on the Electoral Roll form, allowing you to opt out of appearing on sites of this kind or allowing your details to be sold.

To get this information removed from public viewing, you need to go to http://www.192.com/downloads/C01.pdf and download this form, fill it in and send it off.   Mine is already in the post.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Worcester Black Pear and Clarity - Birthday card

The main stamp on this card is one of those that comes as part of the Clarity club membership and is a sprig of pears and leaves.  It arrived at just the right time for the birthday of one of our friends.  They are involved and have been for years with the scouting movement locally, and the Black Pear is one of the badges used in the Worcestershire area.  It also appears on the badges of Worcester city, and the trees are grown in local traditional orchards.  The fruit itself is not truly black but at one stage is a deep mahogany.

Its importance to Worcestershire is due to Queen Elizabeth I, who saw a black pear tree with fruit on when she visited the area, and gave the emblem to Worcester for their coat of arms. 

The Worcester Black Pear was known as the "Warden Pear" and was first recorded in the 13th Century at Warden Abbey in Bedfordshire.

I used Clarity silk card and stamped the pear twig with Adirondack Pitch Black. I also used the naked tree stamp, also from Clarity to extend the twig into a branch.  When the ink was dry, I used the Quickie glue pen to cover the pear fruits themselves, let the glue dry off and applied gilding flakes (without breathing).  One that was cleaned off and dry, I filled in the tiny specks of white with a similar colour Promarker (I need more practice with the glue pen and the flakes).  The leaves and branches were also coloured with Promarkers.  The bottom corner border was done with another twiggy Clarity stamp, and  the same glue and gilding technique used to highlight that part too.   

I brayered the sky and covered over a couple of black marks with a flock of birds - very useful, they are.  I polished the finished card with a tissue, before mounting it on black card and copper coloured mirri card.  The background of the main card was following another of Barbara Gray's techniques.brayering the colour on to a sheet of Clarity silk paper, and then applying scrunched up wet cling film, and leaving it to dry.  That was also polished and then glued to a white card as a wrap.  I stamped the pears again randomly over the paper with flitter glue and fine glitter, before attaching the main image.

I was pleased to be able to do a card that could be personalised to the interests of the recipient.  That is what I do try to do as a norm, but this one was special to us all.  I did a similar card afterwards for the Clarity Challenge.  I don't often repeat cards but this one was not the same, just using some of the same stamps and techniques.  I really, really like this pear stamp, and I suspect it will appear a lot in the future.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

WOYWW - 179

Good morning, it is Wednesday again (or it will be by the time this post goes live) - doesn't time go fast.  Anyway, it is time to join with all the other (now famous - it was on the radio) members of Julia's club over at Stamping Ground where we all get together to see what has gone on since last week, and show what we have on our desks.

This is not actually my desk today.  That comes later.   I thought you might like to see the fascinating occupation I gave myself on Monday.  During my hunt for my (still) missing foils, I came across  a couple of sheets of mirri card with embossed sentiments and embellishments on.  I have had them from the very beginning of my paper crafting and forgot they even existed.  I thought that if I chopped them up properly and put them in a small box on my desk, I might actually use them and get rid of them.  In this first shot, you can see all the tiny bits of left overs, ready to be swept into the rubbish bag.  I started by cutting them with my Fiskars finger knife, but rapidly descended into the scissors mode.
Monday Part 1

The second shot shows other things that have surfaced from the dross of years, mainly freebies from magazine fronts - things I have not thought about and will probably never use.  So they go into a separate pile to be passed to our eldest granddaughter to experiment with.  There is also another sheet of gold sentiments waiting to be chopped up. 
Monday Part 2
Now we come to my desk as I left it on Tuesday evening - it is still untouched today.  A little more exciting. I think.  No actual crafting yet, but a delivery that arrived today from Create and Craft, containing two sets of gorgeous stamps from Clarity and a box of spare mounts for the remountable stamps.  I also use those for stamps from other companies as they are so much easier to use, light and easy to handle.
I need to get going with those sets of stamps this week.  One set is for the December Classroom lesson with Barbara Gray on Create and Craft and I want to really experiment with it and see how I can adapt it to what I fancy doing, maybe adding other stamps to the mix.  The second set blew me away when I saw them demonstrated at the weekend - fab!

The little picture in the silvery frame is actually not my work, but was done by my DH's aunt, who was very clever with her fingers.  She was also a talented watercolour artist, although she never passed her creations on, thinking they were not good enough.  This little embroidery is one of three embroideries we were given after her death and we do treasure them.

Now I am going to finish with a rant for the week - hope you will forgive me, Julia.  If you don't want to read on, then nip over to Julia to see what she has on offer this week.  However, I bet you will know what I am talking about and probably have suffered too.

Does anyone know how we can stop all these nuisance calls that come from abroad. We bought our present phone system because it shows the telephone number of any caller. We now let our answer phone take all calls where the number is not displayed or whenever it says "International. Out of Area" The caller never gets as far as the answer machine and always hangs up. However, we are now getting these calls at 7.30am or earlier. At this sort of time of day, we immediately think there is an emergency with one or other of our family and get worried. We are told there is nothing that can be done to stop these calls. Isn't it time that the government or the Telecoms people actually sorted this nuisance out and put a stop to this intrusion?  Is it just in the UK that we have to suffer this intrusion and disturbance?   I, for one, have NOT had an accident that I want to claim for, I do NOT need to claim back mis-sold PPI's, I do NOT want a free holiday that will cost me a small fortune, and I do NOT want any of the other things they are trying to sell me. 

I would love to know how all of you around the world deal with these things and if you have an answer for us over here.  (We are registered with the Telephone Preference Service, but that does not stop these international calls, which are mainly random number generated - we are told there is nothing that can be done to stop the international ones)

Have a wonderful week, all of you, filled with good crafting and good company.  xx

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Craft A Scene - Troubled Skies 1

Dad's Photo
This dramatic picture is not my card but the inspiration and starting place for it (finished card is at the end of this post if you are short of time)

It is my first DT offering for November's Craft A Scene challenge and had to reflect the theme which is Troubled Skies.  My mind went straight to this photo taken by my father many years ago of a really threatening and dramatic scene.  It was taken up on the moors in Cornwall, and you can see how the prevailing wind has driven the trees into strange shapes.  My aim was to get as close to this image as I could and, hopefully, to encourage others to look at their photos and use them in a different way, as inspiration, not just printed toppers.

The first task was to print out a couple of images on copy paper to chop up to use as masks for brayering over.  Then I attached a piece of Clarity coated card to copy paper to hold it firm.  I cut the silhouette of the moorland trees and standing stone and put that aside, using what was left as a mask while I brayered in the silhouette with Adirondack Pitch Black.  I found that the image was not quite as dark as I wanted it, so I took my black Promarker and, using the chisel end, went over the brayered area to darken it.  I found that the promarker bled slightly, an effect that I accentuated by using the thin nib to add the tree branches and twigs.

Part 2
Stage two was to put back the piece I had put aside of the silhouette, and cut away the two side pieces, retaining the centre section too as a mask while I brayered in the very dark threatening clouds. 

Part 3
I added Adirondack Denim to the the Pitch Black for this section.

Part 4
I then took away all the masks and laid down a light layer of the same colours over the whole image.  Then I needed to work out how to put in the highlights to mimic the bright edges to the clouds in the centre of the image.

First try - miserable failure!
This was the first result, created by added more of the Denim/Pitch Black, dabbing it on with a make up sponge.  When I had done that, I rushed to mount it up, thinking I had done it.  Wrong!  I stood back and went "Yuck".  It was half way there, but too bland and flat.  Back to work, trying to protect the clean white card it was mounted on.  I tried a mixture of media - white Sakura pen, but that only had limited effect - white Derwent pencil, again limited effect - and finally white pastel in a random way.  I decided that I had probably reached the limit of what I could do, so I sprayed it with Crafters Companion Spray and Shine (that reminds me, I must order more as the can is almost empty).

This is the final result.  I can see things I would do differently next time, but I hope I have done justice to the original photo, and Dad would have liked it.  What do you think? 

Final result!
Why don't you see what your imagination can produce for this theme and join in at Craft A Scene, whether you use stamps, inks, draw your own design - the world of crafting is open to you to create a scene with "Troubled Skies".