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.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

A little bit of Christmas

A lot of folks are showing their lovely Christmas trees on the blogs and Facebook.  I do have a bigger tree which is a fibre optic variety, but these two trees have much more meaning to me, because Geoff and I put in the work to put them together.

The individual days are a kit from a company in Birmingham - their name totally escapes me at the moment, but as soon as I remember or excavate it, I will post it.  They came as tiny pieces of aida, with the paper patterns and needles, threads and frames.  I cannot remember if the ribbon was with them or not, but I think it was.  They did not take long to cross stitch, the ideal project to take away in the caravan over the summer.

Once the stitching and framing was complete, then it was deciding how to best display them.  The suggestions that came with them did not suit our purpose so a bit more thought was required.  The idea for the two wooden trees actually came from another friend who had made one for his wife to display some other little cross stitches.  They were made from some offcuts of wood lying around in the shed.  I think the trees were painted with Humbrol, but it might have been ordinary emulsion, I cannot remember.  The trunks were painted with Sadolin outdoor treatment because that was what we had.

I have not put much in the way of decorations up this year, partly because the decorators have only just finished, but these had to come out as they were hand made as a joint effort between Geoff and me.  So they have great sentimental value.  

Christmas to me has always been a mixture of old and new.  I have several tree ornaments that are certainly from my childhood, and some that are older than that.  We always tried to buy something new each year, even if it was just one bauble.  We have never colour co-ordinated in any way, preferring the more gaudy bright colour mixes

I will show you another historical treasure tomorrow.  Meanwhile, I am off to do some dinner and relax after finishing and getting rid of the last few cards.  Never again shall I do 130 cards in one slow panic.  I hate doing more than one copy of a card, let alone 130, so I shall start early and just play with all the stamps I have, keeping a list for who each card is intended for.  I just need to find room this afternoon for the Sainsbury's delivery and then Christmas will be here.  I am not shopping again apart from filling up with diesel, until New Year is over and done with.

Google is having fun with my photos all by itself.  Look what it has just done with this one.  I still have no idea how this is working.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Plans - what plans?

Plans, what plans?  I did have a plan for today, but by 9am, I just threw that up in the air and started again.  I hope Santa's plans are doing better and maybe he can put one or two little things in my stocking.

Having been told last night that one of my headlights was out, that became a top priority, but had to be done before 1pm.  Then a phone call  came to say that my new glasses were ready, and also needed dealing with before 1pm.  

So I cancelled my massage and dental appointments and set off to get my lights sorted.  The bulb was fine but someone had messed around with it and it was barely in the holder and any vibration was enough to interfere with it.  

Then it was back, past home in completely the opposite direction to collect my new glasses - I can see road signs now and the tv is no longer fuzzy.  

Then I collected my Christmas meat from the butcher, who was packed out, and got moaned at by a stupid man because I had not parked between the white lines.  As I pointed out to him, if I had done that, neither he nor I could have opened our car doors.  Two land rovers do not fit side by side in narrow parking spaces.

I do have plans for the rest of the week, but no real expectation of getting any of them done.  Tomorrow, I am waiting in for a delivery and intending to cook a chicken, then boil up the carcass to make some fresh mushroom soup (the mushrooms need using up).  Then I need more stamps to send my cards, and once my delivery has arrived, I can go out round the local area and deliver those I can by hand.

Sainsbury's are due to deliver on Saturday and once that is done, whatever I have forgotten will be done without.  Apart, that is, for filling up with fuel.  Hopefully there will be a voucher for money off fuel with my shopping. After that, I am not going out again until Christmas Day, except to give the dogs a run.

My next plan is to take the dogs out now  and then go to bed early.  Do I stand any chance...........

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

WOYWW - 237

I cannot show you a desk again this week for several reasons - it looks exactly the same as last week, with a slight movement of the heaps to make room for another heap of the same.  So I thought I would show you a pretty picture instead.  It is not this year's snow, but I do like having the falling animated snow added to my own photo.

This is the very last time  I am going to deal with the Christmas cards this way.  I will never again mass produce 130 cards - I will never send 130 cards again.  If I never see another Christmas card again, it will be too soon. 

To be fair, I left it all to the last minute, but I did have a good excuse.  After spending a lot of time and a lot of money on having the house and garden done up, I finished off with having the hall, stairs and landing painted, and the kitchen, and the dining room.  Two weeks before Christmas - I must be mad.  In the middle of all the paint fumes, I also went down with a rotten cold and cough.

As this is going to be a scheduled post, written on Tuesday afternoon, I am off now to do another pile of cards, then down to the post office for more stamps and to send the foreign ones (bit late, those), before getting ready for visitors this evening.  Then I must do my shopping list for Sainsbury's to take account of the fact that I need things to make a lemon meringue and a raspberry and hazelnut meringue for Christmas lunch, and I suppose I should make some mince pies for anyone who braves the wrapping paper and the fingerlift tape (I have lost the Sellotape).

If any of you have time to sit with a coffee or a stiff brandy and have a quick nose round desks from all over the world, then just follow the link to our Julia's place where I am sure she will find time to welcome you.  I suspect that most of you are in a similarly disorganised state - please, if you are not, then don't tell me. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

WOYWW - 236

Not perhaps a desk as yet, but it still needs a lot of work.  I have a load of plants to put in, but just have not got round to it so far.  The fence is not curved, it is just the effect of the panorama setting on the camera.  That small fence has made such a difference to my life.  No longer do the dogs come in fro the garden covered in mud which they leave all over the house.  No longer do they dig up my plants or eat my fruit.  No longer can they eat the bird seed or dive into the bird bath. 
I cannot wait to get all these beds filled over the next twelve months.  I am aiming for a good mix of flowers, shrubs, vegetable and herbs, and loads of wild flowers for the insects etc.  A lot of the pots lying around will be emptied and their contents given a permanent home in the raised beds.  That should cut down the watering for next year.

I like the idea of being able to go out into the garden and pull enough baby carrots etc for that day's food with lots of flavour and vitamins, cutting just enough salad leaves for that meal without the rest going off in the fridge.  The greenhouses are intended for tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries, just for a start, and the new beds below are for my soft fruit, gooseberries, blackcurrants etc. 
The big strawberry pots on the left will probably be turned over now to flowers to brighten things up, and hopefully encourage more insects to come along.  I think there will be more paving under the trees where the lawn is presently covered in leaves, where the grass will never grow again, perhaps with a nice seat around the tree for relaxing, maybe even a small table for outdoor crafting, perhaps with nice perfumed plant around for inspiration.

As you might gather, I have loads of ideas, which are gradually being turned into plans and followed through.  However, my plan for Wednesday is to take a large box upstairs, and fill it with all the stuff on my desk which needs sorting and clear it all off so I can get enough space to do some proper crafting.  that is the plan but it depends on where the decorators are working.  On the other hand, I must just get painted into the only room downstairs that is not being painted  before Christmas, in which case I will finish the Christmas cards.  Either way, I have a plan (to quote Barbara Gray). 

Sorry, there is not a lot of crafting going on here yet, but I am sure a lot of you are also caught up with the rush to get Christmas sorted.  However, do take the time to have a cup of coffee and a tasty biscuit while you wander round some of the lovely desks on show each week over at Julia's Place.  You will be made very welcome.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

WOYWW - 235

I have not done any blogging for several weeks.  Someone keeps stealing my weeks and before I know it, I have missed yet another Wednesday.  This is not even my proper workdesk, but I am working here today because it is nice and warm down here.  Some kind person has passed their cold on to me and I am just at the feeling sorry for myself stage today.  So I am occupied in trying to break the back of the Christmas cards, while indulging myself watching and listening (at high volume) the Shadows Final Tour on YouTube.  They really were fantastic musicians and entertainers.

I have faded out most of this picture so that the design of my cards is fairly well hidden until I get them all sent out.  Although I like the design, Gelli plate and Clarity stamps, I detest mass producing cards.  However, I don't have the time or the inclination to make the individual cards I would normally do.  I also have to produce two different letters this year, one for those who know that Geoff died in April and one for those who don't know.  So mass production was the only way.  I thought of actually buying cards this year, but I could not face trying to find cards I was happy with.

Excuse me but I am off now to make a large mug of hot Bovril (wonderful for a sore throat) so I hope I might get round to visiting at least some of you later in the day.  I am sure that Julia, our esteemed leader will have loads of germ free desks on show over at her blog this week.  Why don't you nip over and take a peek?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

We will remember them

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them
As a family, we were very lucky throughout both World Wars.  Yes, the men of the family went off to do their part and the women were left behind to worry and take over their work.  Yes, the men saw horrific things, and never talked about them; things that coloured their lives for ever.  We were lucky that all our men returned home, largely unscathed physically.  We were lucky that their marriages survived intact and healthy.
My grandmother had three sons, one in the Army, one in the Air Force and one in the Royal Navy, and all three returned safe and sound.  We were lucky.
On Remembrance Sunday, we should also remember how people were mentally scarred by what they saw and experienced during war.  Those memories were buried deep until old age, in many cases, when they rose up again to torture their minds. Many old servicemen have required treatment and counselling to allow them to cope with those deeply buried memories.  We, as their descendents, will never really know what happened to them and what the war was like for them.
All I know about my grandfather and his WW1 experiences is that as a high grade saddle maker, he was in great demand to fix the kit of the senior officers and their horses in the desert. He was also a good footballer and played for his unit.  The teams had regular fixtures against other unit, often being left behind to play those matches and then having to find their own way back to their own units.  Grandad was invalided out and sent home after being close to death from Malaria.
As I said, our family was lucky.  Today, we should remember those who were not so lucky, and those families who are still suffering in wars now.  

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Ralph McTell Streets of London

Several people reading my WOYWW post below, have never heard of Ralph McTell, so this YouTube clip is for them and for those who fancy a bit of nostalgia.  A very talented musician, and a lovely man as well.  He is on tour now until the beginning of December, so if you get the chance to go to one of his concerts, do it.  The stories behind the songs are fascinating, with strong echoes of Woodie Guthrie and Bob Dillon.  This is possibly the best version out there.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

WOYWW - 228

If Julia can do it, I hope you will excuse me for doing the same - that is, I also have no photo to show at the moment.  I might get one added tomorrow, but I cannot promise.  Every time I reach for a camera at the moment, the battery is flat and I have forgotten to charge the spares. I am also seriously behind as far as crafting is concerned but I do have excuses.

However, I will show you a picture (scanned not photographed) which explains part of my excuses.  I had an email from the Ralph McTell website, telling me that there was a concert coming up very close by.  Having had a rough week for many reasons, I was feeling stroppy, so I decided to book myself a seat, and got so close to the stage, I could have shaken his hand.  It was an excellent show and really gave me a lift, a good mix of new songs and the old favourites, including "The Streets of London" which we all sang along to.  At the end of the show, he went down to the foyer and stayed until everyone had gone, talking to people, having his photo taken with anyone who asked and signing whatever we asked him to do.  Needless to say, I did the groupie thing and bought a CD to be signed.

I have not been totally craft free over the last few weeks, having finished my crocheted Aran blanket - perfect now the weather has turned so cold.  If I can get some batteries charged tonight, I will put up a photo.  I also managed to unpick the baby jacket I had put together wrongly - I just need to sort out how to do it right.

I am going to post this right now, then I can devote tomorrow morning to my gym session and to finding the missing disc for the server restore, so that I can get my craft computer up and running again, set up my new printer and sort out my craft room.  In the meantime, why don't you wander over to Julia's place, even though she is away in the sun.  You will find lots of other desks there, ready and waiting for you to mooch around.

PS There is another blog well worth following just started up - Barbara Gray's Blog , which you can find at  http://barbaragrayblog.blogspot.co.uk/   If you don't know who Barbara is, where have you been over the past few years?  She is the face and inspiration of Clarity Stamps, having invented see through stamps about 20 years ago, and is a really lovely lady.  If you are interested in stamping, then I can thoroughly recommend that you try one of her Workshops.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Craft A Scene - Dusk to Dawn (Card 1)

This is the first card I have done for a while for Craft A Scene and it is good to get back to the DT.  The theme for September is "Dusk to Dawn".

As those of you who read my blog will know, I am a big fan of Barbara Gray and Clarity Stamps, and this card owes a great deal to the recent one day workshop I attended with Barbara, and is, indeed, based on one of the projects we did on that day.  To fit the theme, I darkened the whole thing and put in more clouds.

Clarity Stamps - Castle, bridge, Letterbox Kit, Scots Pine tree (remove the blue "indexing" with nail varnish remover, otherwise you are likely to mess up your clean Versamark)
A5 Clarity silk art card (the shiny stuff)
Adirondack ink pads - Juniper, Denim, Mountain Rose, Black
Versamark ink pas
SplodgeAway Mat
Promarkers - Black, Ivory
Torn copy paper
Make-up sponge
Cotton wool

  • The first stage is to create the reflection for the castle and the bridge.  That is achieved by inking up the two stamps and stamping them onto the SplodgeAway mat.  Then take the silk art card and lay it carefully over the top, making sure that your image will be roughly in the centre of the card.
  • Then turn the card round and stamp in the castle and bridge to match the reflection - the see through stamps are what makes that possible.
  • Stamp in the Scots Pine trees at the bottom.
  • Stamp the letterbox squares onto the sticky end of a post it note and cut them out, cutting them on the inside of the line (this helps to avoid the "halo" effect)
  • Stamp your letters into the boxes (check your spelling before you stamp), allow them to dry and mask them with the post it masks.
  • Place two small moon masks (post it notes), one in the sky and one to line up in the water.
  • Once the ink is dry, take some cotton wool and tease it out into wispy cloud shapes and press them into the Versamark with copy paper (helps to keep your hands clean).  Then place your "clouds" as you wish on your picture and place a piece of clean copy paper on top.  Using your brayer, burnish over the top to make sure the Versamark comes through onto the card.
  • Shield the water area of your card with a piece of clean copy paper, and then brayer across the whole sky area with Juniper.  Then ink up the brayer with Denim, making sure that the leading edge is clean of ink and start brayering from the corner you want to be darker.  Continue with this until you get the shading you are after.  I also added a little Mountain Rose to change the colour a little.  At this stage, the clouds will be invisible.
  • Then move your copy paper to cover the sky and land area, and cover the water area with Juniper.
  • Take a piece of copy paper and screw it up totally - the more creases the better.  Load the brayer with Denim and run it across the opened up paper ONCE only.  Then run it straight across the water area ONCE only.
  • Tear another piece of copy paper to form hill shapes and using a make up sponge, in a mushroom shape, add just enough colour (Denim and a hint of Black) to suggest hills, in the background and also in the water.
  • Remove the moon masks and with a hint of Denim, drag the make-up sponge across the moons to give a suggestion of mist and cloudiness.
  • With the Ivory Promarker, colour in the castle and bridge.
  • Before removing the masks from the letters, use your sponge to drag a hint of Denim and Black to suggest a shadow around them.
  • Remove all masks and blot the whole picture to make sure the ink is completely dry.
  • Then take a piece of kitchen roll and polish the whole picture to a high gloss.  As you polish, your clouds should pop out like magic.
  • Once that has been done, trim your work as you wish.  Then you can use your black Promarker to fill in any tiny imperfections in your stamping, if required, and add a black edge to the whole picture, before mounting it.
I hope this all makes sense to you.  I learned loads from doing it with Barbara at the workshop, and you will probably find that you will need a couple of goes to get it just as you want.  If you look at my water, you will see that I have one or two vertical lines.  That is because when I was inking up the brayer, I failed to check that the ink was evenly spread across the roller and missed the line that was darker.  I did not take enough time and care.  Don't worry about making mistakes - you learn far more from your mistakes than if it is perfect first time.

One important thing to remember when you are using this shiny card is to blot your stamp gently on copy paper when you have inked it up.  If you forget, not only does the ink take longer to dry, but you stand a good chance of the stamp slipping as you press it down, and you will not end up with the sharp crisp image you are after.  You also need to blot your stamp before stamping the reflection on to the SplodgeAway mat for the same reason - a little smudging here is acceptable as reflections are seldom crisp.   Have a go and enjoy the playing.  Then, don't forget to create your own scene for this month's challenge.  I look forward to seeing how you interpret the theme.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

WOYWW - 222 - It was tidy - honest it was!

If you have arrived here from outer space and are wondering why I should want to show you a desk that is, to be perfectly honest, a total wreck, then you need to  nip over to see the instigator of this wonderful Wednesday wander round desks - Julia over at Stamping Ground.  She will make you very welcome and explain what it is all about. 

In the meantime, yes, I do know my desk is in a dreadful state again.  Trying to sort things out and craft at the same time quite obviously does not work too well, and can be quite depressing when you see what you have done.  I decided that it was time to get back to more normal levels of crafting, which included the need for a card to fulfil part of this month's requirement for my DT on Craft A Scene, which for September is on the theme of Dawn to Dusk.  This is why, the card I have done is hidden under the detritus of what I used to make it, as it cannot be shown on my blog until it appears on the challenge blog.
So, I am afraid, all I can show you today are the pictures I took in the sunshine on Tuesday afternoon, where you can see a few of the bits and pieces I used.  There are several different Adirondack ink pads, a couple of Promarkers, some masks made from Post it Notes, crumpled copy paper, kitchen roll for polishing (so you can gather that I was working on Clarity Silk Card).  There are also a couple of acrylic paints, but they were just left over from the previous project.

Hopefully, you can see the finished article fairly soon.  Meanwhile, things have been pretty hectic this week.  I have plucked up my courage and joined a gym, the kind of gym designed especially for ladies of all ages, but which is perfect for my age and size.  Three times a week is the target for the moment, so that is something else to fit into an already manic life.

After the gym yesterday, I went to collect the caravan from storage and tried out the adaptation for taking the brake off and on, which is a lethal weapon - a long black metal pipe which fits over the top of the existing handle to give extra leverage, and it works a treat.  I got home fine, then tried to persuade the caravan to let go of the car - a totally different story.  Having completely blocked the entire road and got half the neighbours out to help, and the other half watching in complete disbelief, I admitted defeat and "phoned a friend".  After sorting it out, we decided that the problem was mainly because I was at an odd angle between the car and the caravan and the pressure needed to be relieved by a tiny reverse.  The motor mover then did its job without anyone touching the caravan, which is now back on the front.

When it was stuck in the middle of the road, I would have quite happily abandoned it to the nearest scrappy, but after a night's sleep, I am now back to my usual bolshy state of mind and determined to sort it out better.  However, I have decided not to take it out this year, and wait till I have had time to sort out exactly what I need to take with me and what can stay at home in future.  One more "room" to sort out and tidy.  Oh boy, as if I didn't have enough sorting and tidying still to do.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

You can do it!

This is my second post of the day.  I would not normally do two posts, but I did want to share this one soon.  As you may have gathered, I am a big fan of Clarity Stamps and Barbara Gray.  That is because of the great quality of all they produce, and the great teaching you get from Barbara.

This card is no exception but was done in a rush to test out a theory.  I had received a comment from someone who felt they could not use a Gelli plate as they only had the use of one hand.  From my very limited experience of using the Gelli, I thought it might still be possible, so off I went to try.  I am stubborn in the extreme as my children and friends will tell you and I hate being beaten.

I started from the very beginning, getting the card and the Gelli out one-handed.  I followed the lesson Barbara Gray did with us at the Wollaton workshop.  Using the card ready cut for the 6 x 6 Gelli, I put one piece under the Gelli plate and, realising that keeping it still with only one hand in use, I put a couple of bits of low tack tape to hold the card onto my desk.  The Gelli does not move on the card so that was fine.

Then I assembled all the bits and pieces I would need.  The acrylic paint dries very fast so you do need to be organised.

6 x 6 Gelli plate
Ready cut card from Clarity (this included the main piece of card and the small centre piece needed to create the aperture)
Card to put under the Gelli (this can be kept to reuse for future projects)
Stencil of choice (I used the Ocean Swirl from Clarity - the first one I came to)
Piece of sequin waste
Blue and gold acrylic paint
Speedball brayer (others may cut into your precious Gelli)
Copy paper
Sharpie pen - black
Micron pen - black

1. Put a large pea-sized blob of blue paint on the Gelli plate and then spread it evenly with light strokes of the brayer (I also mixed a tiny bit of gold acrylic paint randomly)
2. Put your chosen stencil in place on top and then the sequin waste on top of that.
3. Place a piece of copy paper over the top and smooth over with your hand.
4. Remove paper and stencil and sequin waste.
5. Place the small piece of card in the centre of the Gelli.
6. Place your main card on top and press down with the flat of your hand,  Once you have pressed down well you can smooth over the back of the card to ensure you get a good image.
7.. Now pull one corner and pull the whole piece of card up and off.  The weight of the Gelli plate helps to keep that in place.
8. Remove the smaller piece of card in the same way.  This can be used later as part of an ATC or for a gift tag, or anything else that comes to mind.
9. Stamps of your choice for the central image - I used the Winter Wonderland set from Clarity as I knew it would fit into the aperture

You should now have the main piece of card with a clear frame in the middle into which you can stamp the design of your choice.  The sky was done with a make-up sponge and blue Adirondack and a moon mask (made from post it note), and I used the same technique to do the hills and shadows and to "ground" the deer.

I changed the colour of the frame slightly by using a make up sponge and rubbing Willow and a touch of Black Adirondack across it.  I finished off by trimming off the bits of the edge I had messed up slightly, then edging the whole piece of card with the Sharpie pen to give a black edge.  The micron pen was used to do a squiggly line to frame the central image, before sticking the whole thing onto a ready folded card.

I do not pretend to have invented any of these techniques - they are all learned from Barbara Gray.  I know that I would make a much better job of this card with more practice. I am only a novice at using the Gelli plate, but I hope I have convinced you that if you are one-handed for any reason (broken wrist or other damage) you can still use these things with a little more planning and practice.  Remember that it is mono printing so you never know exactly what result you are going to get, but  you then just think how best to use your result.  You do have some control, but do not expect to repeat any image perfectly again.  They are all unique masterpieces.

I sent this card off to Barbara Gray as a homework piece with an explanation of how it came about, and was amazed to see it shown in the homework section on Saturday.  I was even more amazed that it got there in time, thanks to Royal Mail, as I missed the post on Thursday so it did not leave until 5.30pm on Friday.

Clarity Workshop - Project 4

The final piece was working with laminating pouches and alcohol inks.  This was perhaps my least successful piece of work, but, again, I know where I went wrong, and in my own defence, I was absolutely exhausted by then.  I am looking forward to playing more, using the basic technique we were taught.  I found problems in judging how much ink I needed, and how to blend it.  I shall be going back to the DVD's of Barbara using them to remind me of what to do.

I do understand how to position the stamps on the background, using tracing paper, but I need to do a lot more practising, and take a lot more time to play and get the effect I am aiming at.  Many of the other ladies did some really stunning creations, and Barbara's was totally awesome with beautiful hollyhocks.

This is the last of my Clarity offerings from the Wollaton Workshop.  If you get the chance to go on one of Barbara Gray's workshops or are not sure whether to go or not, just do it.  You will be blown away, however good you are or even if you are a complete beginner.  All levels are catered for, and no-one gets impatient with problems.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Clarity Workshop - Project 3

Number 3 was back to the silk art card and a lesson, using the splodge away mat to create perfect reflections - mine was not perfect, but I now know how to correct the problem.  The writing should have been in the sky, but because I misplaced the reflection to start with, Barbara suggested it would have to go into the water.  Again, there were as many versions of this as there were people in the room, but we all learned loads of technique.

The reflections were the first bit to do, by stamping the castle and bridge onto the Splodge Away mat, then pressing the card on top of that print.  It naturally softens as true reflections would.  The you can turn your card round and stamp the main images above them, matching up the designs.  I was not as careful with this as I would have liked, as you can see.

Then, we used the Letterbox Kit to set up the writing.  Then that was masked off to keep them white while all the colour was added.  Again, my positioning was not perfect.  I should have been more over the top to see through the clear mounts properly.  Next time .....  It is all a learning curve.

The clouds were created by loading wisps of cotton wool with Versamark and pressing them onto the white silk art card, by brayering them, after covering them with a piece of copy paper.  Then, after removing the cotton wool, you can brayer your colour over the top.  When your colour is right, then you can use a piece of kitchen roll to polish your clouds.

The water is created by scrunching a piece of cheap copy paper thoroughly, then opening it out.  Pick up the ink from the Splodge Away mat on the brayer, run the brayer once over the paper and then you will find it has picked up the texture and you can run it a couple of times across the water area..  The hill was added after, using a make-up sponge. 

Once you have finished all colouring, then you can take a piece of kitchen roll to polish the card to a brilliant shine.  If you are going to use a pen on the card, make sure you polish first.  How do we know that?  Oh yes, been there, done it and then cursed.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Clarity Workshop - Project 2

Project number 2 with Barbara Gray introduced some of us to the Gelli plate for the first time.  I was one who had been very uncertain of how useful and interesting it would be. By the end of the exercise, I was totally hooked and fired up with lots of ideas on how I could get my money's worth from it.
This time, we were using acrylic paints, something else totally new to me, and it is frightening how fast it dries.  However, Barbara does not believe in wasting anything and has come up with several different ways to recover a potential masterpiece which is trapped on the Gelli plate because it is too dry to pull the print.  You do need to remember that you can never repeat a design.  Each one is totally unique, and it was fun looking round to see the results that everyone else had achieved.  The first task was to pull just a simple print, using a stencil and sequin waste to provide the pattern. 

Then we progressed to using the centre mask to give us an aperture through which to stamp.  The apparent wasted piece of card with the rest of the design can then be used as part of another project, perhaps as a backing for an ATC.  Barbara also taught us how to do an awesome moon mask and how to change the look of the frame with the addition of Adirondacks inks. 

This is just one way of cleaning the Gelli plate and using every little bit of ink left on the plate.  Several of us still had a faint image (an echo) left after we had pulled our print, so Barbara added a little bit of lighter colour acrylic spread over the plate. Then a piece of cheap copy paper was used, rather than the expensive paper, to pull this soft print - perfect for a backing paper.  Being very absorbent, copy paper just sops up all the remaining ink.
One very important tip that Barbara gave us was the care of the Gelli plate.  Always store it as it came in its original packaging, but also massage a little baby oil into it every so often to keep it in good condition.  The kind of acrylic paints used are also important and Barbara has decided that the creaminess of the Daler Rowney range works the best - and they are British made too.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


This is definitely the best crafting blog and should get an award, if there were justice in the world.  If you agree with me, then go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CMVZM9C  and vote for it.  You just have to put the Stamping Ground link into the "Other" box to register your vote.  If you are confused about what WOYWW is all about, I can do no better than to direct you to Julia's blog site at Stamping Ground, where you will find all the info you could desire.   Julia does like us to be brief in these posts, so I have posted each project in a separate post throughout the week.

I had to miss out last week, being away on my long awaited Clarity Workshop with Barbara Gray, a really genuinely lovely lady, even better "in the flesh" than on the TV.  Her assistant for this workshop was Maria Simms, so patient and helpful.  We had four separate projects to complete, as I said in my earlier post this week.  Number 1 was in yesterday's post, and the others will follow throughout the rest of the week.

Having the Clarity shop on site meant that my credit card took a heavy beating, like everyone else there.  Stamps, stencils, masks, inks, paints and Perfect Pearls were just some of my purchases that you can see on my desk in my last photo.
All my new stash together

Alcohol inks and a free pack of superb tracing paper

My lovely new Gelli plate and the acrylic paints to go with it

Stuff to use with the Gelli plate - Clarity stencils and sequin waste

I resisted the urge to buy every stamp in the shop, limiting myself to one set and two separate stamps, together with two Adirondack in pads, which I truly NEEDED to practice a couple of the projects
These photos were taken on Tuesday afternoon, after which I did manage an hour to play a little with the Gelli plate.  The first print was total rubbish so I had to just sit and think for a minute about all the tips that Barbara had given us, and the next couple were just what I was aiming at.

Anyone who is dithering about getting a Gelli plate, go for it, but try to watch Barbara Gray first - her Classroom videos are available to watch on Create and Craft, and are well worth the time.  I now have so many ideas buzzing round in my head that I want to play with, there are not enough hours in the day.

Now I must apologise to Julia for such a long post this week, but I just could not leave anything out.  Sorry, Julia.  I will send everyone over to you now to continue their visiting.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Clarity Workshop - Project 1

This was the first of the four projects we did at the Wollaton Workshop with Barbara Gray.  This used the Tall Trees stamp and one of the tiny texture stamps.  All equipment was ready for us to use and Barbara gave us the mask for this project to keep for our future use.  We used Adirondack inks, a brayer, the Splodge Away mat (essential for easy brayering), Clarity silk art card, a black Sharpie pen and a black micron pen.  Mine came out as quite soft colouring, which I actually liked, but many of the others achieved much more intensive colouring, which was just as lovely.

An added bonus was a lovely, ready printed card for us to use to mount it later if we wished.  I might be wrong, (sorry if I am) but I think it was Dee Paramour who designed this mount for us. Barbara also taught us her clever way of making a mushroom from a make-up sponge to add colour in the right place - really neat, that.

The finishing touch was to use a micron pen to add the black dots round the border, which really made a huge difference, and is a much more cost effective way of creating the appearance of matting and layering.  The black edge round the outside of the whole card was easily created with an upturned ruler and a black Sharpie pen.

I will be back later in the week with the other projects from that day for those who are interested.  Meanwhile, I am off to have another go at some of the things I learned.  Can't wait for the workshops next year to learn more.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Clarity Workshop at Wollaton

Last week was totally chaotic for me and I am only just recovering from rushing around here and there.  Monday was collecting my gorgeous new car, and the shock of filling the fuel tank.  Tuesday was waiting around for the man from Tracker to turn up to fit the system, and then trying to pack all the things I thought I might need, and spending long sessions just sitting in the motor with the handbook, so that I could find the basic things like wipers and lights etc.

Rosie, picking blackberries
Wednesday was an early start, heading south to Evesham to drop the dogs off in kennels before turning round and retracing my steps to pass my house on the way up to Derby.  A slightly more stressful journey than usual, trying to get used to driving an unfamiliar vehicle.  The day was great, though, with all four grandchildren together, playing beautifully with the older ones generally taking good care of the littlies. 

Big kids joined in too

It is a beautiful spot, right on the edge of the city with lovely views over the valley.  We finished the day with a barbecue, after which I then drove through the rush hour traffic to the Travelodge at Wollaton Vale, chosen because it was only a couple of miles from the Community Hall where Barbara Gray was staging her workshops.  The hotel was probably one of the better Travelodges, and, certainly, the staff were very helpful and the room was perfectly adequate for a night's sleep.

Thursday started with a bit of a panic as I overslept and just hurled my possessions back into the case and bags and staggered out to the car.  I just made it in time and was met by Barbara's fiancĂ©, Dave, who was kind enough to park my car for me to save me the hassle.  He gathered all the things I needed and took them in for me.
Now, where shall we put the tent?

Barbara is just as lovely as she appears on the TV, and greeted me with a big hug and took me into the hall to find me a suitable place.   Barbara also had help sorting us all out from the lovely Maria Simms, fresh from her sellout programme on Create and Craft the day before.  The Workshop itself was very full-on, but totally inspiring, and I learned so much that day.  I cannot wait to put it into practice.  

We had four separate projects to complete in the day, with different techniques in each, including a session with the Gelli plate.  That convinced me that I would get plenty of use from it.  Needless to say, my credit card took a severe beating in the shop that day.  I will post pictures of my goodies and the projects later in the week, but if you stampers our there get the chance, go on one of Barbara's workshops.  They are worth every penny.  The preparation is superb and the teaching inspired, and with both Barbara and Maria to sort out any problems, we all achieved great results.  Even our mistakes were used to help us all. 

At the end of the day, we all piled into the shop to pick up final goodies and pay the bill.  Then it was back out into the rush hour traffic to get back to Derby, where I was duly fed and watered.  A nice glass of wine completed the day perfectly before bed.  Friday was a good day, although Steve was unfortunately at work and did not get home until long after I had left.  My lovely daughter-in-law made me very welcome, taking me out to visit her parents for lunch.  I finally left later than intended, but it seemed to work as I missed all the worst of the holiday traffic.  Even the horrid island by the Belfry to get onto the M42 was quiet, and the motorway flowing well.  The car went well and is just so comfortable.  After unloading, another glass of wine brought my stress levels down again before bed.

I have already decided to do the Wollaton Workshop again next year, and I intend to do the 2 day retreat in May.  It was just what I needed to spark the creative juices again, with loads of hints and tips to try out.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Warning - Scary Monster Alert!

Scary or what?  Why am I being plagued by these great monsters?  This one was too big even for the dogs to take on.  Gemma tried and then backed right off and would not go near it again.  I finally managed to corner it with my turbo powered spider catcher (from Amazon).  Even that was not easy, trying to gather up all the legs so I could put the bung in the tube. 
I just hope it does not walk back from where I let it go.  If it does, you will hear the scream throughout the land.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

WOYWW - 219

 So sorry if you are calling in here to see crafting work, but life took over this week, and no crafting has been done.  So, rather than showing you the same photo as last week, I thought I would show you my new toy - a bit bigger than Cuttlebugs or Cameos etc, but totally luscious, and I cannot wait to get it in my sticky mitts.

I finally got to drive it this morning and my smile was from ear to ear.  Just one item to be put right, new seat covers to get and I can have it.  My only problem is to make my existing fuel last till then so I fill up the new one rather that the old one.

I am seriously impressed by the insurance company who actually emailed the changed documents to me within an hour, so now I can go out tomorrow and tax it (another mortgage required).

My workdesk this week is really my whole house and my life.  The first list of jobs, including the big one of the whole roof, is complete and the second list well on the way.  That includes the base for the new greenhouse, rehanging a door, a new stair gate to keep the dogs penned upstairs with me, a new banister rail, a new door for the gas meter box, and two new cupboards in the porch.  I do have a third list to follow.  At the moment, I have yet another skip on the front drive, together with a huge van, which swallows up mucky, hairy dogs and spits out sweet smelling shorn dogs.

This the first one, all clean and fresh for the moment - not sure how long it will last, though.  I am sure her first task will be to find a muddy puddle.

For those of you still reading, it is time I directed you to the head teacher's office, which you will find by following the bottom corridor till you find this link.  Miss Julia will have a lovely long list of real craft desks for you to inspect and enjoy.  Have a good week.  xxx

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


If you are wondering why I am showing you such a messy craft room, I can only refer you to our leader and her explanation over at Stamping Ground.

The pictures, as usual, this week are taken in the late Tuesday sunshine, but there has been no crafting yet this week.  I think my desk this week is even messier than last week.  My excuse is that I am reorganising things, gathering the things I use most to a space closer to me, and moving others further away.  I have this nagging feeling that this might cause me to ignore the things I have moved further away, but only time will tell.  I have one or two punches, Martha Stewart and EK for example, which you might pick out in the mess.  I am trying to find those a space within reach in the hope that they may enable me to use us some of my snippets when I get time to play.

This second photo shows that my collection of ink pads is growing slowly, to the extent that whenever I need to use one, the whole stack collapses.  Hence the new storage units.  I think you are only supposed to put one in pad in each space, but two fit quite comfortably, although I now need to label them on the side as well as the ends.  Below the left hand unit, there is a little pile of Dufex, which I bought earlier this year in a sale.  How sad that Dufex is now no more.  Can I bear to use what I have, knowing I cannot replace it?  Probably, but only to special people, I think.  Anyway, that pile is waiting for me to put it away into the Dufex box - meanwhile it sits on top of and hides my printer.  I have been asked what Dufex was.  It was the most beautiful reflective foil printing for decoupage and topper.  It was produced in such a way (using a wax technique) that it caught the light and reflected it back wherever it was in the room - perfect for Christmas.  Just a small topper would catch your attention.  I found this description by Googling it -
Dufex isn't foil and it isn't holographics, it's something different - it's a special foil material with colour reflections.
The reflective and faceted surface of Dufex will really make any craft project come to life.
Hand engraved designs or patterns are embossed onto foil sheets to create the distinctive Dufex quality of depth and movement.  This is achieved through the diffraction of light on the image surface.

This week has been a bit mixed, both emotionally and practically.  It should have been our wedding anniversary last Friday and I chose to spend the day on my own with my thoughts and memories.  My family were good enough to respect my choices and waited for me to contact them.  I did start the reorganisation of my craft room as something very positive - positively messy!

Now that the roof is finished, I can take a breather before the next lot of jobs that need doing.  Having said that, yesterday (Tuesday) had to be a clear out of the conservatory.  The heavy rain storms of the last couple of weeks reminded me that there was a leak from the roof light in the conservatory.  So I have now called the company in to sort it out, and they are coming to look at it on Thursday.  It would be useful if they can get somewhere near it, so that put the conservatory a bit higher on the list of places to be sorted.  Thanks to my army of helpers (daughter and two grandchildren) it is unrecognisable and much more inviting to sit in.

Thank you to all those who were kind enough to leave a comment last week.  I was quite pleased to succeed in getting back to all of you, bar one, where I had a problem.  I was asked to join another group, which made me very wary, so I backed out of that.  So, if you were the person I missed leaving a comment for, I apologise and that is the reason.  Hope to see as many of you as possible this week.

PS Having just told everyone that Dufex is no more, I had a wander round the internet and found that it seems that the company has been resurrected, and there seem to be a lot of new and discontinued designs available at 
 http://www.moonstonetreasures.com/Dufex.html?gclid=CMqa0M_D67gCFZMQtAodvg8Arw  Needless to say, I succumbed to some of the beauties on offer there.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

WOYWW - 217 Crafting is taking place

For anyone who has just landed here by accident, you may be wondering what WOYWW is all about.  Briefly, it stands for "What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday", and lots of us like minded crafters take a photo (or many photos" of just how our desk looks, without deliberate tidying up, and then we show all our other crafting friends what we are doing.  It is the brainchild and hosted by our leader, Julia, at Stamping Ground.  Anyone is welcome and all we ask is that you leave us a brief comment on what you see, so that we can call on you in turn to see what you are doing.  Any craft is welcome.  One warning though, it is very addictive.

This is the first time since April that my desk has really been used for its proper purpose of crafting.  quite a mixture, as you can see.  All these photos were taken on Tuesday morning, while the light was good, and I even had the window wide open (the scaffolding has all gone).  You may remember that, way back at the beginning of May, I went up to my son's presentation ceremony for his Chief Constable's Commendation for the work they all did during the Riots.  I took a video of the whole thing, and then burned it onto DVD for him, but I never got round to printing the discs or doing the covers for the cases (one for him and one for his pal).  I had also put together some small videos of his eldest daughter onto DVD, and needed to finish that off too.  You can see the work in progress on and around my lovely Tonic Guillotine.  

There is also a birthday card, which just needed finishing for my son-in-law.  All I really needed to do was the insert, and to put my label on the back.  If you want to know more about that card and a couple of others I have done, just look back at my previous post.
All my shelves are going to be cleared off, cleaned and everything sorted before the important stuff goes back.  That is where I need to start my great sort out and tidy up, before I bring back all the things that got dumped in the other room while work was going on.  The bright pink thing on my desk is my new phone.  I chose that colour of case so that I could find it more easily, and also no-one else would even want it.
This is now the view from my desk, to the side, with no scaffolding cutting off the view or restricting the opening of the window.

The dogs seem to be happy to settle down on the floor while I am working/playing, which is very helpful of them.  Flash, in particular, looks for the sun to relax in.

Gemma just has to decide that only one chew is on offer and when that is gone, it is time for a nap.  I really must make a serious attempt to keep the floor as clear as possible to give them room to stretch out, and to give me a chance to craft in peace.
Suddenly realised they were both lain down happily behind me

If you have had the patience to get all the way down to the bottom of this post, then thank you, and must send you on your way to visit some of the other desk on show this week over at Julia's place.  Have a great week, all of you.

PS Not a good start to the night and definitely not conducive to sleep. As I was about to get into bed, I saw it - the most enormous garden spider, less than two feet away. Well, she had to go. Catching her was the easy bit, keeping her in the pot was the difficult bit. I covered the pot with a piece of card, but as I got to the door, she forced her way out and jumped out onto my arm. You could have heard the screech throughout the land. Fortunately, I was saved by a spider eating dog - I just had to hope that she wasn't sick afterwards.  My next action was to log on to Amazon to search out a turbo powered spider vacuum, and, yes, they do exist -The Spider & Insect Vac with new Turbo Booster by Bug Buster.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Elizabeth's Comforting Blog Hop - T is for Tuesday

This may not be the most exciting drink to be sharing, but this bottle goes everywhere I go now, full of cool water to ensure I do not get hydrated.  I have decided that I am allowing myself to craft for as long as this bottle of water lasts.  After that, I must do something else for a while, then I can go back with another bottle of water and craft again.  Being a Thermos, it keeps the temperature just as I like it, and it does not leak, so if it falls over, there is no problem.  I am linking this post to Elizabeth's Comforting Blog Hop - T is for Tuesday.
As you know, my crafting has been seriously limited in recent months.  However, panic really set in this week. You may remember that we went to a wedding in Spain a couple of years ago.  The young couple had a beautiful baby daughter in May this year.  It has taken me till now to do them a card, but as they were coming down to stay with his family this last weekend, I thought that I really must finish it.  The trouble was that I knew what I wanted to do, but could not find the pattern, so it ended up as a major panic on Friday and Saturday to get it done.  When I was at college years ago, I could cope with very late nights and very early mornings to meet deadlines, but these days I need my sleep. 
This is a decoupage from the Crafters Companion Flower Fairies, mounted on white pearlescent card.  It was a bit too white so I applied a little chalk around the edges to soften and blend in.  I did the same to the date and her name before glueing them in place.  
I sprayed the whole thing with fixer to stop the chalk smudging, and added a little glitter on her wings.  If you peer very hard, you might just see a sparkle.

This card was not quite such a rush, just needing the insert doing and my label stuck on the back.  The stamps were from Hobby Art and are a mixture of three different sets all mixed in together.  They are good landscape stamps, although they are not as robust as my favourite Clarity stamps, so they need a little more care.
If you peer very hard at the signpost, you might pick out the name on there.  My first attempt gave me an upside down wall with the fence underneath the stone wall.  Don't think that would work very well in real life.

It is all coloured in with my Derwent water colour pencils, and mounted on pearlescent card.

Having had dinner and finished yet another bottle of water, I think it is time for a short power nap, otherwise known as an afternoon nap.  I have visitors tonight so I need some snooze time to last out without being so rude as to yawn all through their visit.