Sunday, 26 February 2017

Peek Of The Week – Blossom Corner by Whitework

Last week I was asked to do my first ever whitework shows, and for this ‘Peek Of The Week’ I’d like to share two cards in one - a card I made as a demo for one of those shows, and a card I made at home later which is almost identical but uses slightly different colours. 
For those who haven’t come across this before, whitework is basically an easy way to do parchment. 

Parchment has been around for more years than anyone can remember, and while the results can be fantastic, it must be said that it is very labour intensive, and it can take years for a person to develop the skills needed to produce a professional looking piece of parchment work. However with these dies the effect of hand parchment is created quickly and efficiently with either one or two passes of the die through the die cutting machine.

Once you’ve done that, you can then take your time to use your snips or ball tool to add the extra detail that will make your piece truly unique.
I know there are crafters out there who have had to give up doing parchment, because they either no longer could find the time it requires, or perhaps because they’ve found advancing years have meant they’ve lost some dexterity in their fingers.  For those crafters, and for every one of us really, these dies are an absolute god send.

This card was created using the Blossom Corner die, which I cut four times out of parchment before colouring with my distress inks.  I cut the flowers off from two of the corners before shaping them and adding them on to the remaining two corners to give depth and detail.  The sentiment was made using the Sahara labels.  A few trademark pearls later the card was complete.  Hope you like it!    


Friday, 24 February 2017

Rupert... or Copper?

Some dies are more evocative than others.  When I was asked to demonstrate Rupert Red Setter all sorts of happy childhood memories came flooding back…

When I was about ten years old, more years ago than I care to remember, we had two Red Setters, Copper and Kelly.  Copper was the real character of the two and the one I remember most of all. 

Copper was the archetypal Red Setter shape – an arched back, concave stomach and a beautiful shiny coat. No matter how much exercise he got, no matter how many times in a day we would walk him or how far we would walk him, he would always sneak out if one of us had been careless enough to leave the back door open.

In complete contrast Kelly was fat and lazy. Everything was just too much trouble for Kelly; you could leave the back door open for her and she would just lie down on the door mat and look at the outside world until she nodded off – which was often.

But Copper loved Kelly.  Copper loved Kelly so much that he would get up on his hind legs and reach up and open every door in the house to get to the fridge.  He also worked out pretty quickly how to open the fridge door.  So having opened four or five doors, he would open the fridge door then sit back and watch while Kelly gorged herself on the contents of the fridge. By the time she’d finished the kitchen floor looked like a war zone and my Dad would be beside himself with rage. The strange thing was, with all this free food around, Copper never ate a morsel, choosing instead to leave it all for Kelly.

Poor Dad had to put the door handles on upside down to put an end to Copper’s antics!

So as I said, just one look at the Rupert Red Setter die and all those memories of Copper, and many more besides, came to me with such clarity it felt like it was yesterday. And as it was my brother’s birthday last week there really was only one die I wanted to use on his card!

After cutting out the die I used my alcohol pens to add in some of the shading and I used Rare Earth ink pads and Rare Ink brushes to colour in Copper – erm, I mean, Rupert!

I kept the card nice and simple – I used a Rare Earth Mask to create the background, which I attached to a Kraft card base.

My brother rang on his birthday and told me how bowled over he was by the card. The picture on the card, to him as well as me, was Copper…

Strange how a simple picture can take you back over the decades…  

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Cake and Royalty!

One day last week I found myself at a loose end.  I had no preparation to do for my upcoming shows on Create and Craft.  All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl…

And why not, I thought to myself.  After all, the house was passably tidy, that is, if I didn’t focus too hard on certain surfaces and I didn’t raise my eyes towards the enormous and embarrassing cobweb growing from the corner of the kitchen ceiling. I’d done a big supermarket shop a couple of days ago, and it was much too wet and cold to do any gardening. So it was playtime!

I got in touch with a long standing friend and luckily she was also free, so we arranged to meet up in a lovely café we both like that is conveniently close to her house.

I love this place; it’s just perfect.  It’s the sort of place that is always busy, and that creates a nice atmosphere, but never seems to be too crowded and bustling.  It’s a great place to relax and chill out. 

The staff are always welcoming and friendly and it’s one of those cafes that specialise in cake, cake and more cake.  Ooh, and lovely Earl Grey tea…

It’s great to walk in there out of the Winter wind and rain and feel the warmth wrap itself around me  like a cosy duvet, while the lovely smells wafting from the kitchen never fail to make my mouth water.

 It was lovely to meet up again and have a girly catch up with my friend.  When I’m with her I can never complain about being too busy, as she would just laugh at me.  Not only does she have a full time job but she is also a mother of four!  I don’t know how she does it!  Well, I don’t know how she does it and still manages to keep smiling!

As this café is a Cake Paradise, it’s easy to go over the top.  We all have to be healthy and watch our waistlines these days, and with that in mind my friend and I decided that a good way to watch our calorie intake was to only eat one cake each… that is, to only eat one cake each at a time!

There was almost too much choice and it all looked so delicious, but eventually I made my selection.  It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it, as they say…

The afternoon flew by, as I knew it would.  We had a laugh and we set the World to rights and departed with our usual promise to ourselves that we must do this more regularly.

In the evening I managed a quick chat with my youngest daughter, who was keen to tell me about one of her first ever shifts working as a general assistant at the Royal Albert Hall.  She was really excited to land this part time job as a way of helping to fund her student lifestyle.  She told me she almost bumped into Prince Harry… literally!  She was walking along one of the many corridors and turned a corner quickly.  Coming towards her, equally quickly, was Prince Harry.  Apparently his visits to the venue are kept top secret and known only to a trusted few.  My daughter was completely taken aback, and was rendered absolutely speechless.  She stepped aside so His Highness could continue on his way and was met with some stern looks from his bodyguards!

No chance of a Royal Selfie then!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Trucks Trains and Tractors!

It’s Peek Of The Week Day and this time round I’d like to share with you a card I made for a special young man in my life.

My nephew Ayrton was two years old recently.  (I still recall, usually with a shudder, my kids going through their ‘Terrible Twos’, but I decided it’s probably best not to trouble
Ayrton’s parents with those kind of horror stories… just let them go through it for themselves! )

Ayrton is my brother’s second son. Ayrton is a total character, fearless and into everything.  He is absolutely crazy about trucks, trains and tractors, and this is why I chose a tractor motif for his card.

Ayrton’s older brother is Archie, who is almost nine years old.  Ayrton hero worships Archie and follows him around everywhere.  Having a two year old ‘shadow’ could be a source of friction for most kids of his age but thankfully Archie takes it all in his stride and is usually very good and very patient with him.  Not all is perfect harmony though – how could it be with two young lads around?  For instance, Archie is really keen on playing rugby, and he’s of an age when he’s just being taught to tackle.  His parents currently have a full time job trying to persuade him not to use his little brother for tackle practice! 

Just listening to all this made me feel quite glad that my own kids are all grown up!

And so to the card.  

I used the Tattered Lace Happy Birthday Monumental die, and as the name suggests, the card is quite substantial – about 18cm x 29cm. The die itself is really useful – it can be used for males and females and as well as the phrase ‘Happy Birthday’ a nice clever twist is that it includes the words ‘Have’, ‘A’, ‘You’, ‘To’, and ‘Belated’, which I reckon should cover every kind of Birthday situation!

The die can be used as a standalone if you cut two of them out, but I decided instead to stick it on a large card base which I made myself.

The same die but this time used in a more sophisticated way for someone a lot older than two!

I cut the sentiment twice using two contrasting shades of blue to create a drop shadow.  The tractor is a Tattered Lace die, cut out in four colours – blue, yellow, black and silver, and I did a spot of paper piecing to put them all together to create a more three dimensional shape. I used a silver mirri card to create the tyre inners and once I’d added the black tyres I coated them in Glossy Accents to make them shiny. 

I realise a card for a two year old is likely to have much more sentimental value to the parents than to Birthday Boy himself, but as they say, it’s the thought that counts. This card is so unlike most of the cards I make in that I’ve deliberately kept it simple, unfussy, and with big bold ‘blocky’ shapes that hopefully might grab a two year old lad's attention at least for a short while.

And come the Great Day, a good time was had by all!  

Friday, 17 February 2017

Club Class Laughs!

All the Create & Craft TV shows are obviously very professionally put together and very smooth and polished… but once in a while, every now and then, we have a proper laugh with it.  I don’t know why – perhaps it’s collective tiredness, or we all get infected with The Giggles. But some shows are just funny and, dare I say it, at times they can descend into what can only be described as silliness…

One such recent show was during the recent Club Class Event which unfortunately came to an end last Sunday; I don’t know about the viewers but everyone in the studio enjoyed themselves!

For the uninitiated, a Club Class Event is a show where we showcase lots of items that are for sale at up to 60% off.  It’s an event that is designed to reward our Club members for their loyalty. There’s no need for non-members to be envious though as people can join the Club on the day and then get the discounts…!

So this was a show that was being simultaneously broadcast to America as well as the UK, and the presenter was the lovely Martyn Parker. 

The fun began when I demonstrated how easy it is to make a gift box using the Gift Box Die, and Martyn and I spoke about what sort of gifts could fit in there.  It’s become something of a standing joke that I want my husband to buy me a bracelet – and a bracelet would fit in that gift box very nicely thank you.  So Martyn looked squarely into the camera and said, “Colin, if you’re watching mate, Corrine wants a bracelet… a happy wife, a happy life!”

Martyn may have a point there!

To be serious for a moment, the Gift Box Die is always popular and always sells really well, and it’s no surprise.  The Die gives you all the cuts as you would expect, but it also gives you all the score lines too, so you can’t really go wrong. Simply fold along the score lines, use a tiny bit of tape, and there you have it, a basic gift box in less than a minute that you can then go on and embellish as you wish. A great favourite!

Some of the dies we went on to feature include the really useful ‘half’ dies – including Half Hearts, Half Decorative Circles, and Half Decorative Rectangles.  When Martyn asked me why these dies are a half and not a whole, I innocently explained that they’re a really good idea because if you want a half, it’s much harder to make a half from a whole than it is to make a whole from a half… if you see what I mean.

Martyn took this theory and let his imagination run away with him, saying, “A half is smaller than a whole but you can’t make a whole with a half when you’ve got a half with a hole…” I don’t know about the viewers at this point, but I know I was totally confused! 

The giddiness continued when we talked about the Notched Diamonds Die and somehow this turned into a silly minute talking about great names for bands!  Martyn said Notched Diamonds is a great name for a band and even tried it out, saying, “I’m going to see Notched Diamonds in concert tonight”.  I countered by saying I reckon a good name for a band is The Half Essential Hearts… it sort of sounds a bit Country and Western to me!

The final bit of daftness that made us all laugh was when the camera panned across to the lovely presenter Loen, who was totally unprepared to be on screen at that moment and was busy telling someone on the studio floor who was out of shot that she still had their Christmas card and hadn’t got round to giving it to them yet!  Give it up Loen, it’s February! 

The hour flew by and the Cup of Chance was brought out; all the bits and pieces I had cut out, including the gift box, would be winging their way to Detroit Lakes in Minnesota. It’s a small world these days!     

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Envelopes... and Ricky Martin!

I did a show recently about something we card makers often don’t spare a thought for…


It makes sense to me to spend time making a really lovely, eye catching envelope in which to carry your card.  The envelope is the first thing the recipient of your card will see, so it’s kind of a shame if that envelope is boring and plain white.  You’ve taken a lot of time and care in making your card so why not make the envelope just as nice as what’s inside it?  You wouldn’t wrap a diamond in a brown paper bag!

I demonstrated the Tattered Lace set of twelve envelope templates with closure dies.  There’s a size in there to suit all needs, ranging from the width of an A4 sheet right down to the smallest, 11cm x 5.5cm.

Of course these dies don’t have to be used to make just envelopes – it’s easy to make wallets that can hold small presents such as jewellery, gift vouchers and the like. The closure dies enable you to fasten your envelope in a much more interesting way.  They are superb and work especially well for something that needs the ‘wow!’ factor, such as wedding invitations for example. And again, the closure dies don’t have to be used to make only envelope closures – you can use them to make embellishments for any of your makes.

I also demonstrated a die that surely has the longest name ever – ‘Life Isn’t About Waiting For The Storm To Pass, It’s Learning To Dance In The Rain’ Die. (phew!) It’s a long name for a large die, so I suggest you might want to make it a focal point for a card.  It doesn’t have to be a card of course, it works very well as the focal point for a motivational plaque.

All was going rather well in one of the shows until at this point the giggles began as Dan Bancroft voiced the theory that the World Famous Ricky Martin is actually from Norwich. 

Ricky Martin.... nowhere near Swaffham!!!

Someone in the gallery corrected him and said he was born and raised in Swaffham.  Dan then googled Ricky’s birthplace, found out he’s from Puerto Rico, then told everyone that Puerto Rico is in North Norfolk! As you can imagine it was difficult to concentrate at this point! Dan then tried to blame me for bringing up the subject of Ricky Martin in the first place!

When Dan asked if anyone in the studio knew three Ricky Martin songs Magic Hands became really excited and shouted out some titles, while music loving Marcus walked out of the studio in disgust, shaking his head sadly…

Sometimes it’s a mad house!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Peek Of The Week Plaque

I was so busy on Friday doing TV shows and prepping for later TV shows that I didn’t know if I was coming or going!  I just didn’t have time to do my usual Friday blog, and I’m a bit annoyed with myself for not being able to get round to it. So sorry about that… must try harder… but it’s the first one I’ve missed in a long time, so things could be worse!

Anyway, as it’s Sunday it’s Peek Of The Week Day again, and today I’d like to share with you a plaque I made a couple of weeks ago.

I’d found myself in the unusual position of actually having some spare time.  It felt great, but a little weird all at the same time.  I don’t normally have spare time! What shall I do with it? Tidy up the garden perhaps? Clean the windows? Do some baking? 

No – faced with the prospect of not having to spend hours in my craft room, I decided to… go and spend hours in my craft room!  And I loved it!

This was the first time I’d done crafting purely for pleasure for a very long time indeed, and it was great to get back to it.  I decided to make a plaque just because I hadn’t made one in ages, and I think they can be very effective and eye catching.

I started off by taking a Dreamees MDF plaque as my base.  (Just as an aside, I sent a text to a friend about this and the predictive text turned ‘MDF’ into ‘midfield’ without my noticing.  Back came the reply, “What is a midfield plaque?  Does this have something to do with football?”)  As if!!

First of all I painted the plaque with poster paint before attaching a backing paper printed out from a Tattered Lace CD-ROM.  Then, and I guess it was because it was fresh in my mind (having done a couple of TV shows on a four day deal demonstrating this) I used the Tattered Lace Desert Rose Flowers die. 

After that it was a simple matter of having fun decorating the plaque with ribbon, brown twine, a lace butterfly I had cut out, and wooden floral and swirl embellishments. As you can see I decided to almost hide the sentiment, and I think that works quite well; you have to pick up the plaque and actively go looking for the sentiment to see the full message.

A few pearls were added for good measure and no particular reason, and it was finished.

For me, the lovely thing about this plaque is that it wasn’t made for any particular person or for any particular reason and for once I had no deadline to meet.  It was made purely out of the sheer fun and joy of crafting, and in case I ever forget that fun and joy, my plaque is now hanging in my craft room to serve as a reminder…

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Valentine's Day - Love Is In The Air!

As Valentine’s Day is almost upon us once more, I thought I’d talk about a couple of shows I did recently using the ‘Love Is In The Air’ range.  It’s a great range of products, very versatile, very detailed… really lovely.

We showcased the Butterfly, Lattice, Flowers and Berries panels in this range.  There are elements of these incorporated into the Love Is In The Air Huggables – a small design decision but an important one because it ensures the panels and the Huggables complement each other beautifully. 

The ‘Click Print Go!’ Love Is In The Air CD-ROM also got a mention.  There are some really detailed graphics on there that look very professional. 

And last but by no means least is the Love Is In The Air stamps.  The size of these is absolutely perfect to work with the Love Is In The Air dies.

Why is a Huggable called a Huggable?  Well, you can make a card in the traditional way of course, but with these dies you can make a card with a gatefold sleeve; a lovely card we had on the show had humming birds on one side of the gatefold and flowers on the other, so that when the card is closed the humming bird ‘hugs’ the flowers.  In another equally lovely card the butterfly moves across to ‘hug’ the flower.

I enjoyed making a card in the studio which I think worked really well mainly because the colour scheme was very simple indeed. I put the panel slightly off centre in order to create a shadow.  I cut the panel out of the dark blue, and then out of a strip of the paler blue.  Then I picked up certain elements and used a combination of the two shades of blue with a little silver to make what I think is a really pretty card, and this was my Giveaway card on the show.

Subscribers to the Tattered Lace magazine will find three projects in there using this range of dies in issue 39, which is due to be delivered around about the 16th of this month. 

If you do have a go at one or all of these projects I’d be interested to see the results… why not pop a pic of them onto my Facebook page?   


Sunday, 5 February 2017

Peek Of The Week - Jenifer's Gift Bag

It’s Peek Of The Week Day today and this time around I thought I could mix things up a little by showing you something that isn’t a card.

I made this gift bag in the studio as part of the Desert Rose Four Day Deal. I’ve called it Jenifer’s gift bag simply because Jenifer’s email was the one that was pulled out of The Cup Of Chance.

If you happen to be reading this Jenifer, I’m very sorry but I can’t recall your last name, or whereabouts in the world you live…

The flowers and leaves were cut using the Desert Rose dies.  As I said in a previous blog article, the flowers and leaves are fantastic when laid flat, but in my view they really come alive when they are raised and shaped to give a three dimensional aspect to them, so this is what I’ve done when making the gift bag.

The edges of the flowers and leaves were inked using the same Rare Earth (Desert Sand) ink.  The point of inking them in this way is to try to achieve a distressed or a vintage look, and I think it works very well.

The gift tag was cut using the Tattered Lace tags die and was inked using the same process I used on the flowers and leaves.

I then cut the Desert Rose out of funky foam and used it as a stamp to create the background pattern on the bag itself.

The whole thing was finished off with ribbon and twine tied in a big bow on to the bag and a button was hot-glued on to the top.  This button co-ordinates with the button I placed in the centre of the raised rose.

A really enjoyable make, this – simple and very effective.

As always, now it’s your turn.  I’d like to see your makes, so please think about going over to my Facebook page and posting a picture or two of something you’ve put together, and tell us a little something about it.  It’s great to see them!