Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Velvet Lace Ruffle Die Collection - is fantastic!

I’m writing this blog entry on Tuesday evening ready for publishing on Wednesday morning… but I don’t want to. All day long the TV news has been showing coverage of the senseless and barbaric events that occurred in Manchester and I’m sure we’ve all watched on with heavy hearts.  When considering incidents like that, then greetings cards and papercraft becomes so trivial in comparison.

But, after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to go ahead with the blog, as difficult as that is at the moment.  A lot of people, politicians and top ranking police officers among them, have been saying today that we should carry on as normal and make it plain that we will never bow down to these savage acts of terrorism.  I've come to the conclusion that I believe they are right. So here I am, carrying on as normal.  I hope you manage to do the same…

I recently did a TV show that began at 8am.  This means my alarm goes off at 4.20am sharp.  How my hubby loves these early morning wake ups...

On the show I demonstrated the Tattered Lace Velvet Lace Ruffle Die Collection, and I am very impressed with it. 

They are ‘Essentials’ but they give you so much more than the basic essentials as you can use them for all sorts of things.  They are incredibly useful, incredibly versatile. You can use them for Shabby Chics, for Clean and Simples, you can add detailing, you can snip into them, you can use them for mats and layering, for frames, for apertures… whatever you want to do, these dies are going to work for you.

Ruffles is the name of the game here – ruffles and velvet are trending.  We’ve seen them on the catwalk and in the high street fashionable clothes shops, and now ruffles are coming into papercraft. The smart thing about these dies is that there is no uniform finish to the edging.  Each one is different from the rest, giving a very lifelike appearance of a real ruffle.

In order to demonstrate the many varied uses of the ruffle dies on the show, we used them to create, among other things, a rosette, a rocker card, a gatefold card, a layered Anniversary plaque, the ruffles on a dress and a decorative neckline on another dress.

In one brilliant card put together by the design team, there was a rectangular ruffle die used, then one edge of the same die used again, plus the smallest circle ruffle die, and the mini-ruffle rectangular die thrown in there for good measure.  The result was fantastic and I don’t think the TV pictures did it justice.

As I’ve said before in this blog, the only limit is your own imagination!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Peek Of The Week - A Birthday Card For Kern...

Earlier this month it was my twin’s 22nd birthday and my blog last Wednesday showed you the birthday card I’d made for my youngest daughter.  For today’s Peek Of The Week I thought I’d share with you the card I made for my son Kern’s 22nd birthday.

On Wednesday on my blog I was lamenting the passing of the years, and I said then that I don’t know where the time has gone.  When I look at my son it seems like only yesterday that I was picking him up and winding him after he’d had some milk… but now he could pick me up, quite easily!

Even though his father is mad keen on rugby and football and fishing, Kern has never shown much interest in any sport.  Instead he prefers going to the theatre and going to concerts.  He has a girlfriend who shares his interests, and those interests perhaps explain why he chose to do a degree in English Literature.  He graduates in July and begins a Masters in Creative Writing in September… maybe I can get him to write this blog for me!

In making this card I set myself a challenge to make a clean and simple one.  I wanted the focus of the card to be the sentiment itself, and I didn’t want attention to be drawn away from the sentiment by any overly ornate decoration.

I must admit I was quite excited as this die popped through my letterbox just recently from Florartistry. I’d fallen in love with the dies when I saw them on Create & Craft last week.

Taking a piece of stamping card, I stamped the Rare Earth circles in clear ink which I heat embossed with a clear embossing powder, as I wanted to achieve a ‘resist’.

Next, I die cut the ‘Birthday’ sentiment in red four times and layered them up to give some added dimension.  I then chose my other two colours of card stock, of blue and mustard yellow, and then I matched up my inks.

Putting some ink on to my craft mat in each of the three colours I wet my largest Rare Earth blending brush and created the three bold strokes of colour – and I was really happy about the way the resist came through.

I then took a small ‘Happy’ die from the Tattered Lace ‘Love Is In The Air’ sentiment set, cut this out in red, and mounted it on to the yellow card.

Then it was just a case of putting the card together.  I used foam tape underneath the main white layer and also under the ‘Happy’ sentiment just to add a little interest.

The final detail was added by using pearl drops in various sizes quite randomly over the card front.  Actually, this was more difficult than you might think, just because it is hard to position items in ‘random’ locations – however hard I try I seem to create a pattern with them!

Overall, I was pleased with the finished result, and I hope Kern was too!       

Friday, 19 May 2017

Photo Friday - If You Go Into The Woods Today...

Welcome to another edition of ‘Photo Friday’.  Today I’d like to show you… a giant Hare!

Regular readers might recall that last month I visited Chatsworth with my hubby and son as a birthday treat.

Chatsworth is lovely and I’d encourage anyone to take a trip out there if they get the time and the opportunity. 

We first went there more years ago than I care to remember. My eldest daughter was still very young and the two youngest were in a pushchair. I remember walking through the grounds of the stately home for what seemed like hours.  It was a sunny day and we were all getting a little overheated when we crested the brow of a small hill and there in front of us was a fantastic, enormous sculpture of a giant Hare.  Hubby was just as taken with it as I was. 

This Hare wasn’t the usual timid animal that would turn and run at the slightest noise… this metal creature reared up on his hind legs as bold as you please, banging his drum for all to hear.  He just looked fantastic.

So I was overjoyed when we went back there last month and found him again! He didn’t look a day older!

Looking at the statue that second time, and looking at this photograph now, makes me feel a little wistful.  I think of all that has happened since we first saw the giant Hare; some loved ones have passed away, some good friends have moved on, never to be seen again.  But it’s not been all sadness as yet more loved ones have come into this world, and some new good friendships have been forged. We’ve seen the children grow up and fly the nest and we, like all of us, have made countless memories as we’ve experienced both good, bad and indifferent.  Yet through it all, as constant as ever, the giant Hare is still there, banging his drum with all his might.

And for some reason I like that idea very much!  

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

A Birthday Card For Pink...

As readers of my Facebook page may have noticed, I got more than a little Mumsie on Monday as I announced to the World that it was my youngest two’s 22nd birthday that day. The thought that my youngest ‘children’ are 22 years old makes me feel very old indeed! 

All you Mums out there will recognise the feeling when I say that I just don’t know where the time has gone.  It seems like only yesterday that I was changing their nappies… and going back even further, I remember sitting in the car in the hospital car park after I’d had a scan and we’d just been given the bombshell news that we were having twins.  I was convinced we’d never be able to afford them and I got very emotional, crying my eyes out.  Hubby was sitting next to me, beaming with pride from ear to ear.  In despair I said to him, “Oh, what are we going to do?”

“I don’t know about you love”, he grinned, “but I’m off to the pub!” 

I went with him and hit the orange juice! Looking back we were right to celebrate instead of worrying about money; like most parents, we muddled through somehow.  And so all these years on it was time to make their birthday cards, so I thought I’d share them with you, starting with Jessamy’s card – Kern’s card will follow in a later blog issue.  Ladies first!

Jessamy plays flute and piccolo and is studying music at a Conservatoire in London. That’s the reason that I wanted some sort of musical theme in the card somewhere.  As you can see, the floral backing paper has a faint musical score on it. After I chose the two backing papers that I liked, I cut them to the same size so that they would fit on top of each other exactly.  I then tore the top paper diagonally down the front, tearing from the top so that the white ‘raw’ edge was visible.

After I’d stuck the papers together I used a fine liner pen to hand draw a double border all the way around.

Next I cut a Tattered Lace Oval doily out of white card together with a decorative edge circle.  Using a smaller circle I dusted the edge of the decorative circle in pink ink. (When she was very young Jessamy liked the colour pink so much that ‘Pink’ became her nickname, and we still call her that to this day… that was many years before the pop star of the same name ever saw the light of day of course!)

Using the ‘Celebrate’ die from Florartistry I cut this out four times in a pearlescent pink card stock and stuck them together. After I had layered all these components together I hot-glued some pink sissal fibre on to the card front and attached some mulberry flowers.

The finishing touch was to add a few ‘girlie’ embellishments – a wooden flower, some heart sequins and some pink pearl drops.

I think it’s a pretty card, and it seemed to go down well with the Birthday Girl!  

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Peek Of The Week - An Exclusive Peek!

This Peek Of The Week is an exclusive peek...

Tomorrow (Monday 15th May) at 8am the lovely Nancy Watt will be launching a new Four Day Deal from Tattered Lace.

It's a great collection called 'Back to Black'.  I'll be in the studio on Tuesday morning at 8 o'clock giving my take on this fantastic, brand new collection... but in the meantime I wanted to give you a sneak peek of a small detail or two on some of the cards I'll be demoing on some of my shows.

These superb frames can be used singularly or in various combinations to create beautiful scenes, and they carry the sort of intricate detail and innovation you expect to find in Tattered Lace products.

It's going to be fun.  I can't wait.  Hope you can tune in! 

Friday, 12 May 2017

Photo Friday - English Cottage Garden

Here we are on the second ‘episode’ of what I hope will be a continuing part of my blog – Photo Friday.

For anyone who missed the explanation last Friday, Photo Friday probably won’t have anything at all to do with making cards.  Every Friday I’ll be showing photos that have, for one reason or another, struck a chord with me – sometimes it will be photos that I or my family and friends have taken, sometimes it will be photos I’ve stumbled across while surfing the net.

I'm really pleased that a lot of readers seemed to like the first one so I hope this one meets with your approval too…

A few years ago I was out on a ramble with my hubby and kids.  I’m ashamed to say I forget exactly where this photo was taken, but if I had to guess I think it was in the beautiful Derbyshire Dales.  I remember the walk had been a long and exhausting one by our standards, and I recall we were all feeling a little bit tired and a little subdued.  The laughing and joking had long since subsided and we were all wanting the end of the walk to come soon – at times like these I hope and pray for a little tearoom to suddenly appear out of nowhere… a cosy cafĂ© with a very large selection of cakes and sticky buns! And in a perfect World there would even be a taxi waiting to take me back to my car!

But as we trudged down a quiet country lane I happened to look to my left and this beautiful cottage garden just took my breath away.  It is superb, down to every little detail.

I won’t pretend to know a great deal about gardening but I do know that when it comes to planting a cottage garden, informality is key, and that style has been brilliantly realised here.  I feel that whoever put this garden together has an artist’s (or crafter’s!) eye.  No space is wasted – there are even plants growing in the cracks in the steps.

The whole thing looks so natural on first glance, as though all these plants just seeded themselves around naturally, but when I looked again I could see all the hard work that had gone into it… the container in the foreground, almost hidden by other plants, the hanging baskets breaking up the harsh line of the grey guttering, the cute little horseshoe nailed to the door… they’re all little things by themselves - but put together with the borders that are packed with flowers and bursting with colour, spilling over onto the path and highlighted by the late afternoon sunshine, and you have the whole picture, which never fails to make me smile every time I look at this photo.

And it never fails to make me very jealous indeed!   

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Flash! Sale!

It was the Tattered Lace Flash Sale last Tuesday and I was in the studio with Ben Moseby - it was great fun. 

Just for a laugh, someone decided the studio lights would flash every time Ben said the word 'Flash', which you'd expect him to do at a Flash Sale.  Of course Ben needed no further encouragement and managed to say 'Flash' about thirteen times in the first minute!  I expected a few bulbs to fuse any second!

Ben then got everyone in the studio to shout 'Sale!' every time he said 'Flash!' but that was a comedy disaster - there was no synchronisation so no one said 'Sale!' at the same time.  So that idea didn't really take off because it sounded something like this:  "Flash!"   "Sale!" "Sale!" "Sale!" "Sale!" (short pause) "Sale!" (much longer pause) "Sale!"

What's that old showbiz saying about how you can never rehearse enough???  It was difficult to keep a straight face at this point, but the show must go on...

We began demonstrating the lovely Flectere system of dies. Flectere is all about the curves and dimension; I've written about Flectere before on this blog, more than once, but I feel they are so radically different and cards made in this way are almost invariably really eye-catching.

I showed Ben a card with a lovely picture of a mushroom on the front.  Ben said he would love to receive a card like that one because he is a Fun Guy (fungi).

Older jokes than that one probably DO exist but you'd have to ask your great-grandparents!       

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Peek Of The Week - Pretty In Pink...!

This time around I’d like to show you a card I made for a recent TV show.  The object of the exercise was to demonstrate how to make a comparatively simple project, and at the same time make the point that, sometimes, a card that is uncomplicated, unfussy and straightforward can be much more effective than one that comes with all the whistles and bells that we can fit on to it!

I began with a piece of backing paper I liked and this dictated the rest of the colour theme. I created two matts and layers with a pretty pink pearlised card stock and backing paper.

Next, using the same pink card stock, I used two Tattered Lace essential square dies to create a thick frame.  On to this I layered the Totally Entwined square die cut which was then mounted on to the card blank with foam pads, which gave a little added dimension.

After creating the centre embellishment using the Charisma Frames One die set I then die cut the butterfly and sentiment out of white card stock which I’d first covered with Sticky Roll, which meant that once the die cuts were complete I could peel off the top layer and cover them in glitter.

When the butterfly and sentiment were stuck on to the card I finished it off with a few white pearl embellishments.

This card is quick and easy to make but I feel it’s as effective as some cards that are way more complicated and fussy… food for thought perhaps, next time you need to make a card in a hurry?

Friday, 5 May 2017

Photo Friday - French Farmhouse

Hello again and welcome to the very first in what I hope will become an ongoing series on my blog – ‘Photo Friday’. 

Just to ring the changes, Photo Friday probably won’t have anything at all to do with making cards.  Every Friday I’ll be showing photos that have, for one reason or another, struck a chord with me – sometimes it will be photos that I or my family and friends have taken, sometimes it will be photos I’ve stumbled across while surfing the net.

I hope you like it…

These first two were taken a couple of years ago by me, when I and my family were lucky enough to stay for a few days in a large French house.  It used to be a farmhouse but it was converted into something a bit more modern, a bit more comfortable. It is situated out in the French countryside well away from lots of other houses.  Surrounded by fields that gave way to woodland, it’s a fantastic beautiful place. 

I loved it, even though my hubby and my son discovered a family of mice lived under the large sofa in the living room!  They knew how I would react, so they didn’t tell me until the holiday was over!

The thing that always strikes me whenever I look at these two photos is probably something that only we crafters – people like you and I – would think about.  And it’s this: we try our best to create and make beautiful things, but often it’s not just the thing that we’re creating that matters, but the surroundings our creation will find itself in.  Let me explain…

Take a look at this clock.  It’s beautifully made and crafted, and what a whimsical design.  As such it looks absolutely lovely sitting on the wall of a French farmhouse, where the pace of life is so much slower than busy Britain and the time of day somehow isn’t really important.  It’s a lovely thing in a lovely setting. 

But if I were to take that clock and put it on my own kitchen wall it would drive me mad!  Like most of us I have a very busy schedule; I have places to go and things to do, and I need a timepiece in my house that tells me the exact time, quickly.  Look at the hands and the face of the clock… I’d have no chance of being able to tell what time it is, and it would only be a matter of time (no pun intended) before I changed that beautiful whimsical clock for something practical and decidedly less chic.  It would still be a lovely thing, but in the completely wrong setting, and as such, it just wouldn’t work.

Next, take a look at these pieces of wood that hang on the wall of the French farmhouse. If you haven’t guessed already, they are the ends of the wooden boxes that some French wine is delivered in.  All that’s been done here is that someone has taken a hammer to the boxes and gently tapped away until the decorative end of the box has come away cleanly, then they’re hung on the wall in a kind of haphazard arrangement.  I think these work very well because the setting is very well suited to the idea – the farmhouse is in the middle of a vast wine growing region and the people who own it also own huge quantities of wine.  And not many people who holiday in a French wine growing region deny themselves the pleasure of exploring a bottle or two! 

But again, if I were to take these wooden box ends and put them on a wall in my house, they just wouldn’t be the same.  The impact of them would be lost because there would be no connection between them and the house or the environment like there is in France.  If anything I daresay my friends might take one look at them and decide I have a drinking problem!!

So there we have it… I feel that sometimes, not always, to enable us to get the maximum effect from the thing we are creating we have to consider the setting it will eventually inhabit.    

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

The Country Manor Collection

On Saturday I had the privilege of doing a couple of shows with the lovely Ben Moseby, in which we featured the Tattered Lace Country Manor Collection.  

I'm bowled over by this set of dies!

The Country Manor Collection is seventeen dies in total, and comes complete with a free download of fifteen pages of really nice pictures that work so well with the dies.  These are ideal for people who are just starting out on die cutting, or those who aren't yet fully confident doing it.  

What's so great about these dies, for me, is that they are all entirely interchangeable with each other.  As you'd expect from a set of dies from Tattered Lace, they have immense 'snippability', great detail, and as I discovered, I can mix and match them all day long and play with an incredible amount of combinations.

Anyway, right now I'm going to stop wittering on about how good this collection is and instead I'm just going to let these pictures do the talking... pictures of great cards put together by our very talented Design Team:


Sunday, 30 April 2017

Peek Of The Week - Having A Smashing Time With Glass!

Michelle, a very dear friend of mine, bought me a very unusual Christmas present that we put to use just the other day.  She’d bought a glass making group session for five friends and herself at ‘Number8Glass’ ( at their new purpose built studio.  I hadn’t done this kind of thing before so I didn’t know what to expect; in fact we all went along with an open mind, hoping to have a good time.

And we succeeded!

We were met by the lovely Katherine in her home before she took us through to her new all-singing, all-dancing studio in her back garden.  It’s a fantastic building, definitely one crafty space I am very jealous of; it’s large, spacious, glass fronted, stylish and modern but functional at the same time.  I want one!

The six of us settled around a table – Melissa, Elaine, Jo, Gaynor, Michelle and I. We were all given aprons and safety goggles to wear.  Katherine explained all the goodies that were laid out in front of us – glass rods, crushed glass of varying grades, Mica powders and the necessary glues.

It was a world away from making cards and I was definitely out of my comfort zone!

After a few hints and tips from Katherine we were each given a small square of glass, the colour of which we got to choose for ourselves.  We then set about designing our pieces…

My attempt, in its early stages...

I roughly drew my design on a piece of paper; I wanted a simple pink and gold design and I created this using glass rods and a special type of paper designed to withstand great heat in a kiln.  I coated this with Mica powders to co-ordinate with my design and then I sprinkled white and pink crushed glass over the whole design.  A smaller piece of glass was laid over the top, which formed a seal when Katherine put this in the kiln.

We had a choice of shape for our finished piece – we could opt for flat, or a shallow dish, or a deep dish.  I opted for the shallow dish.

...and as a finished piece. 

In this blog I’ve included pictures of some of the other designs – Melissa’s rabbit, Elaine’s beautiful angel wings and Michelle’s exploding star motif.  Jo’s design was inspired by her current crochet project, and Gaynor produced an elegant green and gold design.

Melissa's rabbit

Elaine's angel wings

Michelle's exploding star

Jo's crochet

Gaynor's Green and Gold
It was a fascinating experience and the two hours absolutely flew by.

The glass was placed in the kiln after we’d left – due to the incredible temperatures that step is best left to the expert!  Our ‘masterpieces’ were delivered to Michelle about a week later.

It was a great present.  I love imaginative and out of the ordinary gifts like this one, especially when it involves getting together and having a laugh with friends.

Merry Christmas Michelle, even though it’s late April!