Sunday, 23 April 2017

Peek Of The Week - Olly Owl

I made this whimsical card live on air a couple of weeks ago, but sadly I didn’t have enough time on the show to finish the card off completely; so I thought I’d show the end result for this Peek Of The Week.

The Tattered Lace Olly Owl is a lovely die set.  It not only features Olly himself, but some detailed and delicate floral and foliage dies – and of course, every self respecting Owl needs a sturdy branch on which to perch!

I cut Olly out of Funky Foam which I attached to a stamping block using my tape pen.  So in no time at all I had a handy stamp that perfectly matched the die.

After making a yellow card base and adding a black mat layer I cut my white card stock slightly smaller to fit, and that gave me a very fine black border showing.  I then stamped Olly on the white card in yellow ink six times, making sure each stamped image ran off the edge of the card stock, as I think this adds a little interest. 

Olly was then die cut in four colours – cream, pale green, black and yellow.  I snipped into these to create a single image by paper piecing the different elements.  By the way, if you decide to do this, don’t throw away the leftovers as you’ll be able to use these to create more owls in the various colour combinations.

I like the flowers – I think they’re really pretty – so I cut these out in yellow and greens to create the finished floral elements. 

At this stage it was just a case of putting the card together using a frame on which to sit Olly, to provide a focal point. 

The ribbon I used is a very dark grey; I thought this would be more interesting than plain black.  I picked up the ribbon in my nearest massive Swedish shop (think flatpack furniture and meatballs!) last Christmas.  At the time I didn’t know what I could use it for but I just had a feeling that one day it would come in useful… we crafters often pick up our supplies in the most unexpected places and sometimes use quite odd things… I don’t think I’ll be sticking a meatball onto a card any time soon though!     

Friday, 21 April 2017

Happy Birthday To Me!

I’m very sorry that there was no blog post on Wednesday – regular readers will know my blog is always updated every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday – but I’m afraid on Wednesday I was still celebrating my birthday which happened on Tuesday!   

My son Kern spared a couple of days from his busy schedule to travel up from London to stay with us, which was a lovely added bonus.  He’ll be 22 years old next month, and is a student.  Like most students he is allergic to ironing, so as usual I made sure I nagged him about that while he was here – not that he listens to his Mum of course!

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but for my birthday I wanted to pay a visit to Chatsworth.  It’s a fantastic place.  I’ve been quite a few times now.  It’s especially brilliant at Christmas as the whole place is decked out with amazing festive baubles and decorations. Hubby was able to have a couple of days off work, so he came along with Kern and I.  The sun was shining, it was a lovely day, and I pretended not to hear my menfolk groan loudly when they heard Chatsworth was hosting an exhibition of five centuries of fashion...     

Before arriving at the house itself we had a slight detour to Chatsworth Farm Shop.  It’s a great place but all too easy to spend a lot of money on all kinds of treats! Hubby’s mood brightened when he was able to buy a couple of bottles of unusual beer!  We wanted to eat our lunch there but there was no chance, it was so busy that people were lining up to wait for a table to become vacant and by the time we thought about eating there was already a massive queue!

So it was on to Chatsworth House and the fashion exhibition.  Many of the costumes on show were absolutely breathtaking and I hope these pictures do them justice…

Hubby's imagination was taken by a vase which is at least twice as tall as I am.  He wanted to know, if you accidentally dropped a tennis ball into this vase, how on earth would you get it out again?  I have no idea how his mind works sometimes! 

We had lunch at Chatsworth before embarking on a walk around the extensive gardens, which are lovely.  It made us smile to see a gardener hard at work weeding while the fattest pheasant I’ve ever seen sat and watched him just a few yards away, as tame and as unworried as you like. 

Eventually, hours later, it seemed like we’d seen everything that was on offer, so, reluctantly, it was time to leave.  Once home we ditched the car and walked to our local for a lovely meal and a couple of glasses of Shiraz. As I’m not a night owl, within minutes of getting home again I was fast asleep!

The following day the menfolk dutifully put together my birthday present – two garden chairs and a table for the decking.  I’m hoping we’ll have a great Summer this year, and I’m also hoping that I’ll have plenty of time to sit outside and enjoy it - and I hope you will too!   

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Peek Of The Week - Rosettes and Paisley...

It’s Peek Of The Week day again and today I’d like to share with you a birthday card I made which I feel turned out quite well…

This card was made to demonstrate the Tattered Lace Pleating Die.  For those readers not familiar with it, this die is the perfect way to make decorative rosettes, amongst other things.  When first cut, the die not only does all the scoring for you, but it also adds this beautiful decorative border along one edge.  After pleating the die cut along each scoreline, the two ends are then brought together and joined using a strong adhesive – I used red liner tape for its strength and instant ‘grip’. The rosette is formed simply by pressing down the pleated die cut in the middle.

To make this card, I cut out both of the small discs.  I placed the plain disc underneath the rosette and filled the gap in the centre of the rosette with hot glue before popping the decorative disc on top to hide all the workings.  I think this makes a beautiful rosette, mainly because of the fancy decorative border around the edges.

However it wouldn’t be a Tattered Lace die if it only has one use, so this card shows how I used the same die cut to create the frilled border panel that I have placed diagonally across the card.

Although the die scores the paper at approximately five millimetre intervals I have actually only burnished every fifth or sixth scoreline to create these pleats.

The rest of the detail of this card was made using the Tattered Lace Paisley Parade Die set.

All in all I was quite pleased with how this card turned out, and it was satisfying to be able to create two entirely different elements using the same die. 

Friday, 14 April 2017

Big Is Beautiful!

On Wednesday I had the chance to demonstrate a series of dies that were brilliant and that all had one thing in common… they are HUGE.  Big is beautiful!

First up was the Tattered Lace Picture Perfect Rectangle & Oval Die Collection.  These are very popular and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they had sold out by the time you read this.  They are massive dies, much bigger than my hand! There’s the oval frame, so you can make a standalone frame, and you also get the die to cut out the centre oval, which means you can use it as an aperture, a frame, or a matt and layer.  The same principle applies to the Picture Perfect Rectangle Die except that the swirl pattern on the rectangle is completely different from that of the Oval die – there’s no repetition.   

The great thing about these dies is the ‘snippability’ – they don’t have to be just used as frames, you can cut into them to use parts of the swirl pattern as fantastic embellishments.

Next up was the Double Shutter Card Die Set.  This is another enormous die, and again, this is proving to be very popular indeed.  It’s a concept card die – the largest die enables you to cut out the card and the remaining sixteen dies in the set are used to create embellishments.  The only limit really is the limit of your imagination.

Finally came the Concertina Card Dies – I’ve saved the biggest til last, as this is a massive collection of no less than FIFTY ONE dies.  It enables you to cut two different sized concertinas and the rest of the dies allow you to totally go to town with your embellishments.

As I say… big is beautiful!  

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

A Trip To Jenny Land...

Last Saturday morning I had the pleasure of being the guest demonstrator on the Starbuy show with the lovely Jenny Cleary.

Jenny is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and one of the funniest.  At times during the show I was laughing so much I found it hard to concentrate on my demonstrations!  I think the reason Jenny is so funny is because she is a one-off.  Her outlook, the way she looks at life, is obvious and natural to her, but at times is just plain weird to everyone else.  Let me show you what I mean…

The show began as just another show until Jenny talked about how she struggles with numbers.  She was just about to announce the savings on a particular item for Club members and pulled a face as if she was working it out – then she admitted she was just pretending, and someone in the gallery was telling her the figure through her earpiece.  Jenny said, “I can’t Maths”.  As if to demonstrate the point she said she’d asked her 12 year old son, “If a pony was born in 1994 how old is she now?”  Her son replied disbelievingly, “Please, you’re not asking me this question really?”  He refused to help her because he believed Jenny should be able to work it out for herself… that was four days ago and she still hadn’t quite managed it!  I put her out of her misery by telling her the answer!

Jenny then said, “The more I think about it, the more I think my children may have brought themselves up!”

Next Jenny apologised for the state of her roots, as she’d just caught a glimpse of them in the monitor!  She said she’s got to wash her hair tonight because she’s “going out out.” I think in Jenny Land there is “going out” and then there is going out somewhere very nice or special – and that’s not “going out”, that’s “going out out.”  And Jenny was going out out. 

Some Andrews

Later in the show Jenny gave us another insight into her world by practicing her three times table, live on air.  She got as far as seven times three before becoming confused.  To try to explain how her mind works, she says she doesn’t do numbers, and even when she looks at people she sees objects – “most Andrews”, she explained helpfully, “are mushrooms.” Jenny told me I’m not a mushroom, I’m a handheld fan. 

Thinking some more about her “night out out”, she practised her dancing, decided it was ‘Mum Dancing’, and then tried to do what she called ‘Sexy Dancing’ instead.  I had to stop her and break the news gently that, whatever it was that she was doing, it wasn’t sexy dancing.  It reminded me of someone walking across a field and then hopping about when they realised they’d walked into an electrified fence!

Demonstrating the Tattered Lace Pet Portraits reminded Jenny she’d grown up with a Tibetan Terrier, whose show name was (deep breath) ‘African Dawn’s Lady Touch It’. Frankly I was struck dumb for a while – not a great idea when you’re live on air!

Another die reminded Jenny of the old US TV show ‘Bewitched’, and she admitted to standing in front of a mirror when it’s a full moon and trying to cast a few spells to see if she has magic powers.  When she asked if I did the same thing she seemed genuinely surprised when I said I didn’t!

Jenny later announced that “Peacocks are magical creatures of this Earth” and she looked genuinely upset when I accidentally tore off the peacock’s head when I was quickly cutting it out!

Jenny’s other musings on the show extended to wondering why the Sun is always round when the Moon is not, and claiming that fingers are for counting on, and that’s why we have five on each hand when we really only need just a thumb and an index finger to allow us to do stuff. 

She told us she’d hidden sixteen expensive Easter eggs in the boot of her car and they’d been in there for four days.  She looked crestfallen when someone explained to her that they might have melted because it’s been really hot lately and car boots heat up quickly.  Jenny made me promise to go with her straight after the show to her car “because there might be tears.”

I can reveal that I did go with her and the Easter eggs were firm, not melted at all, and looked very nice indeed. 

Jenny Cleary you live in Jenny Land but you’re all the more adorable for that and you are absolutely hilarious.  Don’t stop being you!   

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Peek Of The Week - Delightful Debbie!

Delightful Debbie!

For this Peek of The Week Day I’d like to share with you, with Debbie’s kind permission, two excellent cards made by Debbie Faulkner.

Debbie is a dedicated crafter; not only does she craft at home, but she has a caravan, and she also crafts when spending time there.  She must have a real love of crafting because she doesn’t like to be away from it - she has a ScanNCut machine in her caravan, which is a brilliant solution to an obvious problem… as anyone who has ever spent time in a caravan knows, storage space is always at a premium.  We crafters collect a whole lot of dies as time goes by, and these dies take up storage space – but by putting a ScanNCut machine in there, Debbie doesn’t have to worry about transporting and storing dies… an elegant solution to a practical problem.

Debbie made this card using the ScanNCut , and she used her new Shaped Cards USB.  Isn’t this card fantastic? It’s a Mother’s Day card which is basically made from the word ‘special’.  The monochromatic theme is really eye-catching and I believe maximises the impact of the card.  It’s an extraordinary idea brilliantly executed.

Debbie made this card using the Tattered Lace Twist and Pop Die set that we featured on the TV shows a couple of months ago.  This Ruby Wedding Anniversary card is really special – as special as the event itself! I’m sure it is totally different to any other card the lucky couple received on the happy day. 

What I love about the Twist and Pop Die set is that once you’ve made the Twist and Pop mechanism you can then put it inside any card blank of your choice … and isn’t that a lovely surprise for the recipient when they open the card.

Debbie, many thanks for allowing me to share your cards.  Only someone devoted to crafting would believe that a few days away from it all in a caravan certainly doesn’t include a few days aways from their favourite pastime!  These cards are both beautiful and really well executed, and I’d love to know what the recipients’ reaction was on opening them! 

Friday, 7 April 2017

Glitter, Mess and Yet More Glitter...

Today I want to write about the sheer mess we crafters make!

At least I assume ALL crafters make a mess – please, don’t get in touch to tell me your craft room is always in an immaculate state at all times; if you do I’ll feel even more guilty than I already am!

When I had a Monday to Friday 9 to 5 office job, believe it or not, I was extremely house proud. I would spend a large part of most weekends, maybe even most of every weekend, vacuuming, cleaning, dusting, washing the laminate flooring, washing and ironing clothes etc.  While I was doing this I’d cajole hubby into joining in and I’d blow a fuse if he ignored me and watched a rugby match on TV instead, or if he casually informed me he had a prior appointment involving a fishing rod and a riverbank.

The weekend cleaning wouldn’t be enough if friends or family were coming round to visit during the week.  When that happened I felt compelled to drop everything and embark on another round of dusting, polishing and vacuuming before they arrived.  I wanted everything to look perfect even though my friends used to tease me and assure me that whoever was visiting wouldn’t be arriving complete with a clipboard and a pair of white gloves to test and grade just how dirt free my surfaces were.

There’s been many an occasion when hubby has opened the door to our visitors with a heartfelt, “Thank goodness you’ve arrived, we can all stop cleaning stuff now!”

But all that is in the past.  That was my life before I became a full time crafter. Now my hobby is my livelihood and the concept of ‘weekends off’ is just something other people have, the time I have for cleaning is much less, and the importance I attach to cleaning is a fraction of what it used to be.

Take a look at this photo of my craft room.  I love my craft room – I’ve spent a great deal of time and effort getting the storage aspect just right, so there is a place for everything, and everything has a place.  But take a look … where has my working surface disappeared to?  And look at all those little bits of card on the floor.  Disgusting!

I saw the error of my ways.  It’s impossible to work in the middle of such a mess, so some time ago I made a promise to myself that I would ALWAYS tidy up my craft room at the end of every day.  So far, touch wood, I’ve managed to keep to that promise … but somehow the mess just spreads.

And when I talk about mess, I really mean two things; small pieces of card and glitter.  They get everywhere.  I don’t know how and I don’t know why, but they do.

I’ve found small pieces of ornate border in my handbag. Hubby found a small rose cut from card in one of his shoes.  Two weeks ago while in the shower he peeled a bird cut from the same card from the sole of his foot.

But the tiny bits of card are nowhere near as bad as glitter. I’m convinced glitter has a mind of its own and is intent on taking over the World.  I don’t know how many times I’ve been speaking to people and they’ve interrupted me to say, “Excuse me but do you know you have glitter on your face?”  When I check myself in the mirror I see they’re right, even though I may have gone the best part of a week without using glitter on any of my makes!  Recently I washed my Tattered Lace apron but still, a friend said she’d been watching the show and noticed my apron was sparkling with glitter! 

Right now I have glitter on the hall way carpet, on the stair carpet, on the landing carpet, and over my kitchen worktops – which probably explains why hubby recently discovered glitter in a sandwich he’d made!

Still, when all is said and done, I think we can all agree with Michael J Fox when he said, “A creative mess is better than idle tidiness.”  I’ll try to remember those wise words the next time I’m scrubbing glitter off my chin!