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.

Monday, 12 December 2016

A Special Present

I had intended to blog this over a month ago, but Christmas got in the way.  The end result was a present for someone who has been a very good and supportive friend to me over the last three years.

This was the starting place, a flat pack kit from Roy Pakeman at Candy Box Crafts, which just happens to be only about four miles away.  His kits are meticulously made and go together with no struggle or effort of any kind.  It is important to assemble the pieces before adding paint, otherwise the mdf is liable to expand with the moisture and then it will not fit easily.

At this point, the bottom part of the lantern is glued and fixed together.  Note the safety notice on the base.  I found the best light to put inside is a wax based battery candle.  For what I intended, I needed a decent amount of illumination and the flicker is good on them too.

This is the top section, glued and ready to be added to the base.  Every piece is marked clearly to aid the construction.

 This is the point at which I moved out into the conservatory to get messy.  All the pieces are now glued into place and you might notice that I have covered the whole thing with black gesso, ready for adding colour.

Things got very messy and confused from her on, only because I was trying to match the colour of one I had done before, but failed to write down the colours used there.   So it became very much trial and error.  I wanted gold inside to reflect the light properly.  That ended up as a mix of several goldy type colours to get the reflective shade I wanted.

To get the green I was after was a nightmare.  I actually got it in the end by mixing blue, gold shimmer, green and an interference blue,  all from different companies.  I was happy with that on the Tuesday before I needed it on the Thursday.  Let it dry and went in with the gold gilding wax.
It looked dreadful, so it was back to the paint mix again to cover the whole thing again.
This time, I heeded Barbara's advice - you can always add but you can't take it away - and was very much more sparing witht the gilding wax.

Fortunately, I had already done all three parchment panels, so it was a fairly quick job to stick them in place with red tape on the inside.  It was just a little tricky with the final piece as there was less room to manoeuvre the very stick tape exactly into the right place without it sticking to me, the dogs or the other pieces already in place. 

The Groovi plates I used were from the lovely Clarity designs using Jayne Nestorenko's fabulous art work.  I also heed the advice from my talented parchment tutor, Pat White , to go in very strongly with the colour.  I had already worked out that whitework really did not look right in this situation, although I did do a few bits of pricking and snipping here and there randomly, and embossed the names of the recipients.

The colours came from a mix of the Sakura Koi Brush Pens, which can be used really strongly but still shading the flowers well, or in a more muted way if desired, and the coloured Wink of Stella pens to add a bit of sparkle.

You might wonder why I only did three of the four panels.  Well, I could not work out any way of operating the candle inside if I did all four, and after all, the chances are that it would be placed against a wall so the fourth side would be invisible.   That is my excuse and I am sticking to it.

I hope you like it.  I think the recipients liked it which was the important thing for me.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

NEC November 2016

 This blog post is very photo heavy and just  what I shot today at the NEC craft show, and all around the Clarity stand - my favourite place.  I was very relieved to have a brilliant run on the M42 this morning, which meant I could get over to the halls in a relaxed state, calm and ready for my first workshop of the day with the lovely Jo Rice on the Clarity Stamps stand.  I had intended to do the workshop with our Maria Simms on Thursday as well, but the major traffic hold ups meant all the spaces were taken.  Today, I was one of the first into the hall and ready in my seat in double quick time.
This is Jo, getting ready and booking prospective customers in for the free Groovi Make and Take.  It was very popular, with many people having previously bought the starter kit and not having the courage to have a go.  I think with Maria and Jo giving them a chance to play, they will be going home to get grooving.

I think this was the biggest Clarity stand ever at the show, and so easy to get round and if it got too busy, then there was plenty of willing help from the Clarity staff.

Paul Church, getting himself sorted out for the day before the rush started.
Although I have used Groovi since it was first launched, I think you can always learn new ideas.   I certainly was not thinking when I started today and made the classic mistake of spelling the name on my piece backwards, so Jo kindly gave me another piece of parchment to start again. 

We were creating artwork to put inside a coaster, the perfect gift or a card with a difference.  I like making my own presents, putting thought and love into them and making them personal.

You can see how happy everyone was with their miniature pieces of art.

Needless to say, it was almost impossible to get near Barbara Gray doing her inky painty demos on the stand.  Everyone wanted to get to see what she was doing and gain further inspiration

It was great to see Dave looking so well and back to his friendly  and happy self.

I did take a few pictures of just a small number of the beautiful artwork on display, all created by Barbara and her talented design team, ink, painty, Groovi, and some a mixture of everything.

Paul chatting to the customers in his relaxed style.

Another group of happy people doing the Make and Take with Jo.

I did leave the Clarity area for a while and finished the day with another workshop.  This time, it was something I had never done before, painting on silk.  We keep saying how relaxed colouring and Groovi makes us.  Well, the silk painting did the same for me.  It is such a delicate fabric and you need to treat it gently to get the best results.  I will do another blog later in the week with my two Make and Takes, Groovi and silk painting, and also the pyrography (burning wood) that I did on Thursday.  I think there is enough in this post already.  Hope everyone else who went enjoyed themselves as much as I did today.  Off now for a large glass of sloe gin while watching Strictly and Poldark.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

WOYWW 383 - Where has this year vanished to?

It feels like only yesterday that I was booking my trips down to Kent for the Clarity Open Days and the Retreats.  Now it seems so long since those events took place.  No wonder that I cannot keep track of Wednesdays.  If you are wondering why I should be worried about Wednesdays out of all the days of the week, I recommend that you pop over to Julia's Stamping Ground where it will all become clear.

My desk/table this week is remarkably tidy in comparison to its normal chaos.  In fact the whole room is gradually improving as I sort things out and tidy things into a permanent home.

The big pile of envelopes contains around a third of my Christmas cards.  The rest are finished, but this batch just needs me to guillotine the inserts and stick them into place.  Just to the left of those is another smaller pile which are the original paintings I did, after working through Matthew Palmer's free workshop on Hochanda.  I did eighteen originals and then chose five to scan and print for my Christmas card toppers.  

The mound of pink in the centre of the table is destined to be a crocheted shawl for my youngest granddaughter.   I am also knitting her a scarf in the same yarn, in a fisherman's rib pattern which is so soft and warm.  It comes out as two layers which traps warmth and is really cosy.  I have already completed the set in a different colour for her sister.

The shawl was a problem as I have lost the original pattern so I had to excavate my old one and work it out as I went along, but it seems to have worked out and grows so fast.

Julia does like us to keep our posts short so I must stop rambling on and suggest you head back to Stamping Ground to meet up with lots of other crafters and see what they have been up to.  Have a great week, everyone.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Clarity Challenge for September - In The Garden

This is a combination of techniques which I really did as an experiment.  I used a stencil I had seen Jo Rice demoing with at the Open Days back in June.  I love this one for its delicacy.

I traced the parts I wanted onto a small piece of parchment, which I had already coloured on the back with the Tim Holtz distress crayons, blended with a damp finger (I was too idle to find a baby wipe or some water and the finger worked).  I used three colours, a purple, an orange and a green.  I then added a design down the edge.

As usual, the hardest part was finding the right way to mount the parchment.  In the end, I added a piece of rainbow parchment at the back before using one of the corner punches to attach it to a red mirri card.

I liked the verse that was sitting in front of me, the Celtic Blessing from Clarity so that seemed to fit well.  Then the card looked too white, so the next step was to brush one of the Artistry inks through the stencil randomly.

This is one of those projects that I was not sure of but after leaving it on show for a couple of days, I decided that I did like it.  I hope you like it too.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

WOYWW 378 - Long time, no visit

  • My desk/table is a total wreck again.  I am, as usual, trying to clear out and get my stuff sorted properly, but still crafting throughout it, and finishing off a whole load of projects.

  •   I need to remove and pass on a whole load of old and unused crafting stash to someone who can use it better.  I need to get my things back into the confines of my beautifully set up craft room and return my living room and dining room to their proper purposes so that I do not have to hide the piles of stuff from any visitors.  I bet I am not the only one in this position.  I have heaps of remains from kits I bought when I first started.  They are all going, to leave me with my basic stash of stamps, stencils,inks and such to work with.
I am also determined to make time and space to use my pyrography and encaustic art kits and blend them with my inky painty play.

It is ages since I joined in with all you lovely Wednesday deskers, but I feel it is unfair to post and for all of you to comment if I cannot find the time to visit you in return.  However, I intend to make the time this week.  I look forward to seeing you all.  Have a great week.  xxx

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Clarity Challenge for August - Fussy cutting

Any of my crafting friends will know that I am well known for hating fussy cutting.  I love colouring but cutting is a totally different matter, so this challenge was a challenge for me.  However, I do enjoy perforating and snipping parchment, so this was my way out.

i picked a Clarity stamp that I have actually cut in the past with a blade, and stamped it onto parchment.  I embossed the branches in the traditional way.  Then the birds were coloured on the front with my Caran D'Ache blending pencils, and I went over that with a clear Wink of Stella pen to add a little gentle sparkle.

Then it was a case of just sitting down and doing all the perforating with a fine double needle  tool, leaving just the birds, the branches and the single line border.  The final bit was to actually cut with my parchment scissors to leave just the bits I needed.  I attached the resulting parchment to a shiny blue paper with invisible thread (dreadful stuff, always in a tangle) before mounting the whole thing on simple white card.

The sentiment is another Clarity stamp but is one I really like a lot.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Clarity Open Days - Crowborough 2016

That title just does not do justice to the fabulous time we all had at the festival of all things ClarityStamp.  The start was not auspicious with a journey of five and a half hours from Redditch down to Tunbridge Wells.  I counted 8 jets trying to land on my roof (well, that is what it felt like) while stuck in stationary or near stationary traffic under the flight path on the M25 at Heathrow.  

However, once we got there, the Spa Hotel was lovely, and I managed to find a very convenient space right outside the front door.  Several of us gathered and set off so that the others could see where we were going in the morning and then back to the Nevill Crest and Gun for a delicious evening meal, before resting up ready for the morning.

Were we in for a treat?  Oh boy, we sure were.  A gathering of some of the most talented crafters you could wish to find in one room, covering all angles of the crafting we love so much.  I will write much more over time about what we saw, but these photos might give you a little flavour.  They were taken at different times over the two days.

Jo Rice showing all things stencils, stamps and inks
Jo Rice again, showing the different effects that are possible with the wonderful Clarity stencil brushes, from very subtle to really intense.

I think this is the only shot I got of Barbara over the two days.  It was hard to get near her as you can imagine with such a popular lady.  You might also spot Dave (looking so well) somewhere in the background.  I don't think he, Steve and Jayne stopped pounding the numbers on the till for two days.

The lovely Tina Cox, who is such a lovely lady and such a brilliant exponent of the art of parchment.  She had us laughing all weekend, and what she can do with those new Clarity border pricking grids is out of this world.  She also kept everyone supplied with sweeties.

I have just found one more shot of Barbara, pulling the numbers for for the hourly raffle prizes.

Linda Williams and Paul Church taking a short break while Barbara did her thing, and easing their throats with Tina's sweets.

Just take a look at what Linda had done, the bra and panties in the frame, all achieved with the most exquisite parching.  Linda was showing us all how to use the full range of Pergamano tools, at least one of which she designed herself, using traditional methods.

You can see Maria in the background.  I think (cos I never got to see her demo this time) she was combining parchment with stencils and stamping brilliantly.

A side view of Maria Simms with some of Jo's audience in the background, listening to Barbara.

Maria again, chatting and demoing to Jilly and others

Sam Crowe, who is just brilliant with the Gelli plate, inks and paints.  Her plate has to be seen to be believed but it produces wonderful designs in Sam's hands.

Sam again, with some of her cards and tags on show.

Gotcha, Sam!

I seem to have missed getting a photo of another lovely lady, Dee Paramour, who can use inks in ways no-one else has thought of and is so generous with her time and tips.

These Open Days are not just a chance to learn new things but also a wonderful chance to meet up with old friends (some of whom travelled huge distances, even from Texas, for the occasion) and to make new friends.  I am not going to name them all, in case I miss someone out, but it was wonderful to meet up with everyone.

All the Clarity team from Barbara and those we see in front of house to those who sorted out all our lunches and those who worked so hard to set things up and to pull things down at the end, were brilliant.  Thank you to every one of you.  You are part of a fantastic team.  Long may it continue.  Roll on July when we all start to convene again for the series of two day Retreats.