Saturday, 31 December 2016

Looking Back, Looking Forward...

31st December, and as the old year fades into memories and the new year hoves into view, I always like to take time out for quiet reflection, to take stock, as so many of us do.   

What were your crafting highs – and lows – during 2016, and what are you looking forward to in 2017?  Why not share them with the rest of us, either by using the comments section below or posting on my Facebook page?  I’d love to hear from you. Here is my list:

CRAFTING HIGHS

1.       First of all, and very obviously, my number one highlight is landing my current job as a TV demonstrator and being able to work with such a marvellous and supportive bunch of people at Create and Craft and Tattered Lace.  It was a big decision for me to leave a comfortable office based career after doing that for twenty eight years, but I’ve not regretted it for a single moment.  I liked my previous job but now I know just how lucky I am to be able to do something I love as a career.



2.       The feedback I receive from all of you is another highlight.  I read all of your comments and I always feel so grateful for them.  I know how busy we all are these days – the pace of life just seems to be ever increasing – and it’s great that you take time out from your busy schedule to give me such supportive and genuinely heartwarming comments.  So, a sincere Thank You for those.

3.       One of my favourite things about this job is to be able to communicate with fellow crafters, and for that reason I love writing this blog. It can be a rather strange process at times because often I sit down to write a blog entry and I have no idea what it will be about… but so far, touch wood, an idea or two always pops up…

4.       When I look back over the last few months it is the live events that tend to stand out in my memory; the Birmingham NEC Hobbycraft Show, Doncaster Crafting Live and Peterborough Crafting Live. I think that’s because I’m essentially a people person, and I love meeting and chatting to my fellow crafters. While the live events were very hard work, they were also lots of fun to do.  It was really satisfying to be able to meet everyone, to chat, and to see the enjoyment people got from the workshops.      


CRAFTING LOWS

Thankfully I can only think of a couple:

1.       I’ve been so busy in my new career that I’ve not been able to spend as much time as I would like with my family, but they have been very understanding and supportive throughout. I usually use Bluetooth (totally hands free!) to catch up with my kids when I’m in the car driving to and from the studio!    

2.       I’ve not found time to make my own birthday and Christmas cards, which I find more than a little embarrassing! After all, making my own cards is what got me into crafting in the first place! This year most of my friends have had to make do with Christmas cards I bought from the local charity shop.  But that’s a minor gripe and the joy I get from my new job more than compensates.



























LOOKING FORWARD TO 2017

It looks like it’s going to be a full on, fun year:

1.       I look forward to bringing in new concepts from Tattered Lace, and I happen to know that there are a number of exciting things in the pipeline!

2.       I’m going to work hard to develop myself as a crafter – every day is a school day as they say, and there’s always something new to learn. 

3.       I’m looking forward to spending more time in the studio as well as learning to prepare for TV shows much more efficiently instead of spending absolutely ages packing and unpacking all my stuff! 


So that’s it, time for a glass of wine and yet another mince pie as I get set to wave goodbye to 2016.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your comments and your support.  All the very best to you whatever you’ll be doing in 2017, and a very Happy New Year to you all … cheers!   


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

I've Gazed Into My Crystal Ball...

I’ve spent a lot of time recently reading craft magazines and looking at web sites to try to predict what we crafters will be clamouring for in 2017.  I may be horribly wrong – please feel free to tell me so twelve months from now – but I’ve gazed into my crystal ball and here are my predictions…


Anything and just about everything that is pastels, brights, metallic and glitter will feature heavily; especially pastel colours inspired by Nature.

I think it’s going to be an exciting time.  Paper craft kits will be very popular, especially those that are well designed and for specific occasions such as Christmas and Easter.

Paper stacks, card and seasonal décor (by that I mean boxes, garlands and home décor) will really come into their own.

Top of our wanted lists will be paper in various weights to cover all uses, for matts and layering, to manipulate in order to make shaped flowers, die cutting, punching, folding and 3D model making… 3D card craft is going to be HUGE in 2017.



Texture and colour will be important, and of course you can enhance these and bring your own individuality to them by embossing, and adding inks.

Crepe paper in a more modern form is rumoured to be making an appearance in 2017, and I’ll be fascinated to see what form that might be and whether the rumour turns into fact…


Why not let me know, either in the comments section below or on my Facebook page, what you are looking forward to, crafting-wise, in 2017… and even what you’ll be glad to see the back of as 2016 comes to a close!       

   

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Peek Of The Week Number Two

Welcome to the second edition of ‘Peek Of The Week’.  I was thrilled that three people posted pictures on my Facebook page within minutes of my announcement of the first edition of 'Peek' so please, keep them coming – I’m really enjoying seeing other people’s hard work!

Today I’d like to show you ‘Lazy Daisies’ mainly because I really enjoyed making it.



It’s a very simple card, but it’s the colouring of the die cut that makes it very special. 

I used my Sakura watercolour pens before spraying it with my Perfect Pearls spritz spray. That melded the colours in a subtle, understated way and gave a very effective pearl-like lustre to the die cut.  I think it works really well.

Now, just like last time, it’s your turn; please pop over to my Facebook page and post a picture of your favourite crafting success… and at the same time, tell me why you like it.  Did you manage to overcome a crafting difficulty to make it?  Did you make it specifically for a loved one or a special occasion?  It’s over to you, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you.         




Friday, 23 December 2016

Two Terrific Shirleys!

Hot on the heels of Paula and Chris, Shirley and another Shirley were next to be good enough to show us their makes for ‘Peek Of The Week’.  A big Thank You to both of you, it’s great that you took the time to post.

The first Shirley showed us a beautiful ‘New Baby’ card she had made.  She explained that she’d used acetate to suspend both the aeroplane and the train, and very effective it looks too.

As if this detailed and intricate card isn’t enough, Shirley also made the presentation box in which it is displayed.




The card is made with the baby die from the Tattered Lace Monumental range.  What I love about this card is that it’s so personal, complete with baby’s name and birth weight.  It’s a unique, stand out card that the parents will treasure for a very long time, and the matching presentation box is the cherry on the cake!







Next up was the other Shirley, who showed us her Christmas wall hanging.  I like this; it’s different, and obviously a lot of thought has gone into it.  Shirley’s wall hanging uses Tattered Lace dies to make the floral elements.      

Shirley explained that this is the very first thing she made for the Tattered Lace Design Team, and she loved making it. She also loved seeing it on TV as that gave her the satisfaction of knowing other people saw it and liked it too.

Well done Shirley! This is really eye catching.  It’s a delightful vibrant wall hanging with lovely Christmas colours, the sort of Christmas decoration you just can't buy.  







Shirley and Shirley, a sincere Thank You for taking part in ‘Peek Of The Week’ and please keep the pics of your makes coming.  I look forward to seeing more crafters joining in and posting their photos on my Facebook page… as I keep saying, the more the merrier!




Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Take A Bow, Paula and Chris!

I really appreciated two people going on to my Facebook page within minutes of me announcing the beginning of my ‘Peek Of The Week’ to post pictures of their crafting successes.  Thank you, sincerely… it means a lot to me to see you support my new venture.  So take a bow, Paula and Chris!

First up was Paula with the lovely card she made using the Tattered Lace Heart Jigsaw die.

The deep pink of the centre flower draws the eye to the middle of the card when you first look at it, and the various shades of pink throughout the card really holds it together.  A great success.

I was surprised when Paula said this card is not very good, and she added that hopefully she’ll get better with practice.  Paula, I suspect you are your very own worst critic! 

I wouldn’t say this card is “not very good”. I think its brilliant.  There is a lovely use of bright warm colours, guaranteed to lift the heart and raise a smile. Trust me on two points here:

1)    The recipient of your card will NOT be marking your crafting skills!  Instead they will be overwhelmed at the knowledge that you put in all that hard work just for them – and rightly so;

2)   Make sure you ENJOY what you do and have belief in the skill you’ve demonstrated with this card.

Next up was Chris, who made a beautiful and intricately ornate box for one of her friends who was going through a rough time. All I can say is, Well Done Chris! Paula saw Chris’s photo of the box and was moved to post just one word: “Amazing”, which kind of sums it up really!

Chris didn’t go into any technical details of how she put the box together, which is fine obviously, but I'm guessing it was the Tattered Lace hexagon box die set, which makes box making so much easier. I personally wouldn't attempt to make a shaped box without a die. They take out all of the guess work. But however she made it … wow.  It doesn’t take much imagination to picture the expression of her friend who was going through a rough time when she first clapped eyes on this beautiful box in the knowledge that it was hand made for her and for her alone, by someone who very clearly thinks the world of her. 

When I replied on Facebook to Chris, saying that I was sure her fantastic box did the trick in cheering up her friend, Chris ventured the opinion that it was probably the home made fudge inside the box that had really done the trick!

Home made fudge!  What can I say?  Chris, you’re obviously a woman of many talents…

Paula, Chris, a heartfelt thank you for being the first to take part in my ‘Peek Of The Week’ and please keep those photos coming.  Climb on board everyone, the more the merrier!




Sunday, 18 December 2016

Peek Of The Week Number One

A very warm welcome to my first ever ‘Peek Of The Week’.  We’re all very used to ‘Pick Of The Week’ but this is something totally different.  Every Sunday (fingers crossed) I’m going to post a blog entry showing a card that I’ve made, and give brief details of how I made it.  Next comes the exciting part – I want you to post on my Facebook page a photo of a card you made, and tell me something about it. I'll then post it on my blog. 

It’s a new idea and I’m hoping it will really take off… but whether it does or not is entirely up to you dear readers – so come on, get involved, let’s have some fun with it – the more the merrier! Don’t be shy now!

To kick off this series I’d like to introduce you to Bella, Tattered Lace’s most popular ever die.  Here she is… with a twist.

This is Delicate Detail Bella.  The Delicate Detail dies cut into the card stock to create an appealing, elegant effect.

For this simple card all I’ve done is cut the image into the card stock and matt and layer it over a pretty floral paper to create her beautiful dress.  

One floral bouquet later and the card is complete.

The die’s full name is Delicate Detail Romance Bella and you can buy it from http://www.crafting.co.uk/ or as part of the Romance Multi Buy from www.createandcraft.tv



Now it’s over to you; I’m very excited at the prospect of seeing some of your cards.  So please use my Facebook page and let me have a peek!  Looking forward to hearing from you!   

    

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Christmas... When Do YOU Start To Prepare?

We are all different and we all approach Christmas in our own way.  One question that crops up every year and one which I’ve yet to find the answer to is… when should I start my festive preparations?  After all these years I still don’t know!

As a crafter, and I’m sure you feel the same, the first thing I think about when it comes to Christmas is making Christmas cards.  In previous years, when the pace of my life was much  slower, I would make a start on my Yuletide cards in September or October.  I recall those cards were very often quite complex affairs that were time consuming to put together… but they would be finished in good time before I needed to write and post them in early December. These days though, spare time is much harder to find…
As for Christmas shopping, my eldest daughter’s birthday in mid October acted for me as a kind of mental bookmark; I wouldn’t think of Christmas shopping until that birthday had been and gone.

But this year, ever since I was lucky enough to land my marvellous new job at Create and Craft as a demonstrator, I find I’m constantly on the go; if I’m not in front of the cameras then I’m doing behind the scenes preparatory work or checking out new and exciting products.  I’m a card maker who doesn’t have enough time to make cards!  If that sounds crazy I guess that’s because it probably is a BIT weird!

It’s now the 14th of December and I’m ashamed to say I have made only three Christmas cards.  As if that wasn't bad enough, I’ve managed to find time only for two rather hurried shopping trips for Christmas presents. We ladies know the joy of Christmas shopping, which is to take a friend or two with you, hit the shops, but always find time for a coffee and a sticky bun in a nice café.  Sadly all I’ve managed to do this year is to go to town, grab a few presents, then come home again.  This is not a fun way of going about shopping!  No doubt about it, there has been a definite change of pace in my approach to the festivities this year.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  I love my new job so much and I wouldn’t change it for the world…but for someone like me who is usually so organised I need to adopt a significant change of mindset, and I need to be more flexible and more efficient when it comes to Christmas shopping… less browsing, more just going and buying, and sadly definitely no cake and gossip!


After mulling over making Christmas cards and doing Christmas shopping, my thoughts turn to Christmas decorations.  As a child I have warm memories of annually decorating the tree on Christmas Eve, and no earlier.  Even I can see now, all these years on, that I’d really prefer the tree to be sparkling quite a while before the 24th

So what’s the norm these days?  When exactly should people deck the halls with boughs of holly?  I recall one house along our street, five years ago, put up their tree and trimmings on 30th November.  People regarded this as Definitely Not The Thing To Do… there were dark mutterings in the Post Office queue!  But now putting up your tree in November seems to be quite commonplace, although it still causes me to raise an eyebrow.  Each to their own, and as I said at the top of the page, everyone is different, but some people seem to almost have a Yuletide panic, and think if they haven’t got their tree up by the end of November then the first weekend of December is an absolute must or Christmas is somehow totally ruined.  I can’t follow this way of thinking; when did Christmas begin so early?  I’m not a Grinch or a Bah Humbug, but I’d quite like my tree to be able to exhibit some signs of life come the 25th of December…

On 2nd of December hubby and I made the annual pilgrimage to buy our tree.  Being a typical man, he could not understand why we couldn’t just buy the first tree we came across, the one nearest the car park.  He also couldn’t see why his job was to hold up several Christmas trees so I could look at them from all angles until his arms felt like they were dropping off.  However, once I had made my careful and considered choice, he manoeuvred it into the car after telling me the tree would definitely not fit because it was far too big.  (It slotted in just fine by the way).

Then, after an inch of trunk at the base had been sawn off to make a fresh ‘wound’, the tree sat for a week out in the garden in a bucket of water so it could fully hydrate and all of the branches could drop back neatly into place after it had been trussed up in one of those restrictive nets. 

Last weekend, the tree went up.  This is a little tradition in our family; we had a Christmas tree visible in some of our wedding photos so I really wanted the tree to be decorated and in situ in time for our 22nd wedding anniversary on Friday.  Twenty two years… where has the time gone?

For me, the best Christmas present of all is the knowledge that my kids (now young adults) are coming back to the nest and will be spending some quality time with hubby and me. We’ll all eat too much, share a bottle or two of fizz, and there’ll be lots of smiles and laughter and happy memories.

Anyway, whenever and however you plan for Christmas, and even if you ignore Christmas altogether, I hope you have a peaceful, happy and healthy time.

And I hope that, unlike me, you’ve managed to make all your Christmas cards in time! 



Sunday, 11 December 2016

Sometimes...

I seem to recall once half-watching an old episode of Star Trek when the USS Enterprise had got itself into a right old pickle; something had gone horribly wrong somehow and the crew found itself in a strange land where Time followed no logical path - hours passed like minutes, minutes passed like seconds. 

I'm pretty certain my craft room is like that.

All too often I pop in there when I have a half hour to spare and I foolishly tell myself I will actually achieve something in those thirty minutes.  So I have to be quick, decisive and ruthlessly efficient.

That's when things start to go wrong.

I'll cast around for inspiration and end up staring out of the window watching a rain-drenched pigeon hopping about on the shed roof. Then when I do get an idea I'll spend ages hunting for the particular die I have in mind, which invariably is Nowhere To Be Seen. Or the computer starts to play up, or the printer jams...or the paper I want to use is sitting in another part of the house...

When finally those problems have been resolved and I've resisted the temptation to kick the computer and throw the printer into the fish pond, at last I can get started on making a card, the really enjoyable part of the whole process...

By and by, I think to myself that my half hour must be almost up so I'll find a suitable place to stop.

It's then when I take a look at my watch and realise three hours have gone by like greased lightning!

Looking around at the chaos I've left behind in my wake, the room looks like someone has lobbed in a hand grenade - either that, or it's been attacked by Klingons!  





There's only one thing to do in that situation - turn my back on the mess, beam down to the kitchen and put the kettle on! 












Sunday, 4 December 2016

My New Craft Room – Part 2 of 2

Readers of my previous blog entry will know that at this stage I’d got to the exciting part of getting a new craft room; all the boring sanding, cleaning and painting had been done and it was time to focus on getting in what can best be described as lovely shiny new things! 

I’d decided on having laminate flooring installed because the chair in my old craft room had very quickly worn out the carpet.  Two men came to do the flooring and they were gone in an hour and a half… and all that time they sang so loudly their voices rang throughout the house.  It sounded like they were auditioning for the X Factor!  It’s a ‘no’ from me Simon!

The Ikea delivery arrived.  The men on the lorry worked quickly and within minutes they had unloaded and were gone… leaving me to come to terms with the fact that 90 cardboard boxes had taken over the whole house!  They were everywhere!  
We couldn't move for cardboard boxes...

Thankfully our local joiner, Julian, came back and started putting the whole thing together.  That gave us a completely new problem… instead of full cardboard boxes taking over the house, we now had discarded cardboard boxes taking over the entire back garden!  At one point it was not physically possible to walk by the side of our house due to a cardboard barricade!

Only one thing for it – it was back to the tip, with every spare square inch of space in the car crammed with cardboard – and STILL it took two trips! 

But in the end, I have to say, all the mess and inconvenience and the expense was well worth it.  
I love it!

I love my new craft room and I do realise how very lucky I am to be able to have one.  I now have lots of cupboard space, storage space, and space to just move around if I want to! 

Can you see the wall mounted magnetic knife storage strips. Fantastic for putting the dies on that you're currently working with so they don't get lost on your work surface - many thanks Carley Duff for the excellent idea.



Thanks again Mel!







Another great tip that I must pass on to you is how to store your reels of ribbon.  This idea was given to me by Mel Heaton one day in the Green Room – thanks Mel!  Julian the joiner was a bit confused at first but after I’d explained the idea in more detail he came up with this lovely arrangement, using, would you believe it, 2 sizes of PVC guttering for ribbon storage.  It’s brilliant!







The finished article

I also got the electrician to come back and install a major light in the centre of the room and daylight strip lighting under the cupboards.  I find you can’t have enough light to work by, especially when doing the fiddly jobs. 

Last but not least, is the final touch – and I realise this is sheer indulgence on my part – I had a small television wall mounted so I can watch the Tattered Lace shows while I craft! 




Here’s what I learned while making my new craft room; hopefully you may find this helpful if you decide to go down the same route:

1.        Work to a budget but be aware that in all probability, unless you have more self control than I have, you will go over budget to some extent. Unplanned for jobs always arise;
2.         Be prepared to have total upheaval in your home for a couple of weeks at least, maybe longer;
3.         Choose local tradesman you can trust and be a Bossy Boots – tell them exactly what you want and when you want it. It has been suggested that I am a tad controlling?;
4.         Don’t forget to install a TV so you won’t miss a single Tattered Lace show!  








Friday, 2 December 2016

My New Craft Room – Part 1 of 2

All of us crafters know one thing only too well – that this fascinating hobby of ours takes up space.  And the more crafting we do, the more materials and gadgets we acquire, so more and more space is taken up.  When I first started crafting I had everything in boxes which I would empty out on to the kitchen table, and I put it all away again at the end of the session – looking back, I really don’t know how I managed!

When my three kids grew up and left the nest I took the opportunity of turning our smallest bedroom into a craft room.  Big mistake!  Very quickly, as I bought more materials and more products, I outgrew the tiny room, and it reached the point where I had cardboard boxes of crafting stuff permanently on the kitchen table and all along the landing.  Finally, when upstairs began to resemble an obstacle course, I decided it was time for action!

I moved out of my cramped box room and converted the second largest bedroom into my new craft room.  I explained to my husband what the plan of action was.  Together, I told him, we would rip out an ancient built in wardrobe and break it up into small pieces so we could transport it to the local tip, do the same with the bed, pull up the carpet, underlay and ‘grippa’ rods, take those to the tip, and paint the ceiling. I divided up the jobs fairly, I thought  – I was in charge of making the tea, and he was in charge of doing everything else…
Things looked grim at the start!

When those jobs were out of the way and husband had stopped grumbling, it was time to make an appointment with an expert at Ikea, who, once I told him what I was trying to achieve, came up with a design for the room that I really liked.  Then I had to get the electrician in, to explain to him exactly where I needed new power points; you can never have enough power points!

I was really excited by the whole thing, and by the time the electrician had worked his magic and the re-plastering had been done, it was time for husband to go to work again, sanding down and painting the walls.  The bedroom had been my youngest daughter’s who, when a young teen, had chosen a ‘delightful’ colour for one wall of what could best be described as ‘Deep Plum’ and this took three coats of white paint to cover over, much to my husband’s bemusement!
Gradually things began to look a little better...















When at last all those jobs were finished, the plaster dust had been cleaned up and the smell of fresh paint had subsided a little, it was time to move on to the exciting part, which I’ll tell you about in my next post…       




Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Christmas Flowers

If you've seen any of my TV shows you'll know how much I love to use this die set.  It's so much fun because they are really versatile, and you can let your imagination run riot...



 The way I like to approach this die set is to cut out lots and lots of the flowers and foliage all at the same time.  Then I can add pearl drops, in white or in red, which I find really lifts them and gives them an added dimension... beautiful!























Once they have been left to dry - and I would always recommend you leave them overnight so you can be totally confident they've all dried thoroughly - putting a beautiful card together with them is simplicity itself.


Here I made an eye catching festive wreath.  I alternated the two colours of mistletoe die cuts around a circular frame before adding a gold bow and I stuck all this on top of four squares using number 5 from the Torn Edge Squares die set from the Tattered Lace Essentials range. A final little flourish was to add a few gold pearl drops, and the card was done.


 This second card really showcases the Poinsettia die.  After cutting the three layers from green and red card stock I shaped them before layering them up using silicone glue. Adding three gold pearl drops to the centre of each flower catches the eye and really accentuates the beauty of each blossom.  

The flowers are placed around an oval die cut which I embossed with a Yuletide sentiment.  The whole thing was topped off with a beautifully ornate handmade bow.


I love these cards but they are just two examples of the potential of this lovely die set. The only limit is the limit of our own imagination!  

I 'only' have another thirty Christmas cards to make but it puts me in the festive mood even though it's still a little early.  I wonder if it's too early to break open the Christmas chocolates?




Sunday, 27 November 2016

Christmas Is Coming!


I don’t know where the time goes, but suddenly it’s that time of the year again!

I want to share with you a Christmas card about which I’ve had a lot of very positive feedback.  I should apologise for the length of this blog entry right now - but I want to include detailed instructions for you, in case you want to make the card yourself.

I have great fun making this card because it lets me combine two passions of mine – die cutting and the marvellous Scan N Cut.

The finished card


The base of the card is a piece of A4 card simply folded in half, which means the dimensions are 21cm X 14.8cm.  The matts and layers are simple, and of course you can use any Christmas papers you happen to have lying around.  The largest two layers in my version, the red and the patterned layers, are assembled using double sided tape.  The craft card, which measures 18.5cm X 10.5cm, is attached using foam tape to add dimension with the white layer 'flat' on top of it.

At this stage the fun begins! Using my Brother Scan N Cut machine I made the 'NOEL' sentiment.  

I used font A002 as it seems to me to be the best fit...














Then I added each letter separately...

     










Why did I do it this way, you might be wondering?  Well, it was because I wanted to make the letter 'O' in NOEL larger than the 'N', 'E' and 'L'.


The dimensions in the picture show how large the letters are...



If I'd typed the whole word in at the same time, then all the letters would increase or decrease at the same rate.  Obviously this is an incredibly useful feature to have most of the time... but not on this occasion!

When I was certain I had all the letter bases level I grouped them together, like this:





The shape for the base is 'BA-A025':



Re-sized to fit the letters:

Again, you can see the dimensions in the picture


...and then this is all welded together like this:






... and then cut out of red card:



The Christmas Pudding shown in the picture below was made using the Tattered Lace Essentials Christmas Pudding Dies.  It was die cut four times from card stock; two in craft and one each in green and in white. 



For no particular reason other than I didn't want to waste card, I decided to colour the holly berries using a red pen.  

I pushed all the waste parts out of three of the die cuts but put tape behind one of the craft card puddings to hold in the bits before I coloured in the fruity bits in the pudding a darker brown. 

This picture shows how I assembled all of the die cuts before adding some festive glitter...

The pudding fits snugly over the letter 'O' in 'NOEL' and goes on to the card base using either some gems or pearl drops in the corners.

And there you have it - a fab, fun card which I love making.  If you had a go I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!