Friday, 4 December 2009

Do you scrapbook?

Originally I didn't. I started off making cards, not the most brilliant creations, but cards never the less. You know the ones ... flowers, computer generated text, and of course torn handmade or mulberry paper .... giggle, they all HAD TO HAVE that torn paper ... let me see if I can find an example.

Oh yes ... here are some early creations

Eventually I was roped into the world of scrapbooking and that quickly became my number one passion. Scrap scrap scrap! Loved that!

If you cannot read the journaling, fret not, you have not lost your mind, I have altered the text as it is a bit personal.

But those cards ... I did so love making them.

...and then came stamping, yet another thing to get hooked on. Yup, there goes the old budget again.

But see, stamping on cards, well that one is easy, stamps are made for cards, right ... but stamping on scrapbook pages, I found that much harder to get my head around.

But it did seem a waste not to use all those lovely stamps on scrapbooking too, so came hell or high water, I WAS going to use my stamps, and slowly I started to incorporate them more into scrapbooking.

Just recently though, Katy from Craft Stamper asked if I would like to do a masterclass on creating patterned papers using stamps. Uh huh, oh yeah, I surely would.

So, in the latest Craft Stamper magazine (January issue), I have made four different patterned papers using inks and stamps. Resist, masking, kiss stamping and so on. If you are a stamping scrapbooker, go and check it out. Making your own patterned papers for scrapbooking is just the coolest way to get great mileage out of your stamps.

I can show you this sneak peek.

Happy scrapping and stamping!

Ooooh, and I forgot to mention, the cover mount stamp this month is just gorgeous!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Birthdays, cake and still no crafting

We celebrated my daughters 12th birthday on the weekend. Of course that meant cake, and the best kind too, guilt free cake .. because when it is someones birthday you HAVE to eat cake, right? It would be rude not to, obviously.

For those of you who don't know me, I have two daughters. They are great .. for the most part at least. There are of course times when I would happily give them away to charity, and I challenge any parent who does not occasionaly get the same urge.

Thinking back I am quite shocked that my mother still speaks to me - I was a ... shall we say ... headstrong little girl. I remember for at least 5 years when I was about 8 to13, I refused to kiss anyone. NEVER EVER, nope, not on your life. Not hello, not good night, not ever. Even before that at 2 I refused to get out of the car when we went to see anyone for about a year. My mother used to put a little camping seat and some toys in the back of the car (we had a kind of pick up truck with a canopy on, so I could sit there in the back and play) and just leave me. She would always come and check on me and keep me within her sight somehow, but it was easier than trying to deal with the backlash of forcing me out of the car. There was mention of a child psychologist, but before they could get that far I outgrew that little phase. There was nothing wrong with me, apart from the fact that I was a little control freak.

I guess what I am saying is that in comparison my children are a walk in the park, and my mother is a saint.

So, in a nutshell, we have been celebrating, we have been finishing off my craft room, we have been shopping, we have been doing everthing but crafting. I am really stretching myself to think what to put up on here, as essentially this is a crafting blog, but if I am not crafting ... well, that is a bit of a dilemma then.

Here are the rest of the 9 for 5 cards I mentioned in the previous post - old photos are better than no photos I guess.

So there you have have it - see what you can do with simple string, patterned paper and bottletops. Crafting does not have to break the bank.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Something old

Is the craft room done yet?

No, not, nada, not at all. Un-blinking-believable.

I know, it is hard to fathom how it could possibly take so long, but there have been so many glitches along the way I have stopped counting. The last being the floor, my beautiful wooden floor which now has to be my old carpet put back and simply cleaned floor. The guy who built our house did not posess a spirit level, the floor dipped by more than 8mm on the one side and after much deliberation and many a tear shed we decided it would just not work. The floor has to be level or the wood might crack and there was no way we could prop it up properly, believe me we thought of many ways. Of course we found this out AFTER we had completely prepped the floor, scraped off the yukky carpet tape, bought the wooden flooring strips and underlay, opened the pack ... you know, spent a whole day getting it all ready, just to pack it all back in the car and pray that B&Q would give us a refund.

I did get a brand new VAX carpet cleaner out of the deal as a consolation prize, so it is not all bad. We cleaned that old carpet to within an inch of it's life last night. It is sparkling and fresh all ready for me to drop paint and ink on it. Of course the inevitable fate of a clean carpet.

By now I am suffering from a bit of crafting withdrawal. Every now and then I just open up an inkpad or a box of stamps and give it a good whiff. I gently run my fingers through the packs of papers stacked on my lounge floor and if I am feeling particularly in need of a fix I grab punch or two and attack my paper bin.

Thing is, once I am moved in and ready to craft again, I am off to South Africa for a month, so there is going to be no crafting in this neck of the woods until January.

I will just have to go with the inkpad sniffing for now.

And then we get to the something old - some old projects, which I am sure you probably don't want to see, but I am afraid it is all I got, unless you want to join me in some ink sniffing :)

One of my favourite projects for Practical Crafts magazine used to be the 9 for 5 feature. I loved that. Make 9 cards with just £5.

My materials for these were a sheet of pattern paper, some sheets of coloured cardstock, bottle tops and string. I used my pc to print the greetings and a paper piercer to add detail.

Here are three of the nine cards, I will post the others in the next few days.

Bottletops are so inexpensive, I love to use them for cheap decoration. These were bought from Wilkinsons for something like 79p for a whole bag full. Flatten them with a rubber mallet and voila. The little flowers are cut from the patterned paper and the row of holes was made with my dress makers tracing wheel and every second hole enlarged with a paper piercer. Cheap and cheerful!

For this card I printed the letters onto the back of patterned paper (mirroring them first) and then cut out. The rest of the message is printed. Simple simple simple – just the way I like it, again adding some detail with the little holes.

And lastly, the little flower stem is normal stock standard cheap string that you can buy anywhere. I pricked holes and used a large embroidery needle to sew the stem. It is a bit bulky on the back, so the panel with the flower is attached to the tag with 3D pads.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

You would think ...

You would think that by now I would be done painting and moving.

You would think that our house would be waterproof.

You would think I would be grateful that I have a whole room, albeit the box room, all to myself to use as a craft space and not be envious of other people's crafting do-overs ... but look at all that fabulous space. I want to be Donna Downey.

Talking about Donna Downey, I LOVE these new stamps she has designed.

But, back to business.

The reason it has taken me so very long to get to the painting bit is all down to a recent strange developement in our household. It seems we are very successfully attracting water. Good if you are thirsty, not so good when it is invading your house.

First, when we uncovered the one corner of wallpaper we also uncovered a large black patch of, what I assume has been years of water damage. GREAT!

For some inexplicable reason the water was running down the interior beam on the gable end of the house and trickling straight down the wall. We had just recently had the fascias and gutters replaced too ... so it is a bit of a mystery. No amount of detective work could solve the puzzle of where exactly the water was getting in, so we went for the next best thing ... silicone everything.

On Sunday, Matthew and I got up onto the flat roof of the garage, very long ladder in hand, and siliconed every possible crack and crevice that could be letting in water. There is no tile damage either ... we are truly stumped.

So now the drywall had to be fixed, plastered, sanded ... see that unpainted patch of plaster still drying out. I have one very proud of himself husband as he has never done any plastering before. I know it is only a little spot, but heck, I wouldn’t be able to do it.

We got up on Monday morning, very happy indeed that our plaster seems to be staying dry and that I could finally paint. BUT THEN, just like a really bad B-grade movie, we had scene 2 of the water saga.

This time downstairs, around the kitchen counter.

As Matthew was about to leave for work, he reached to pick up his iPod in it's lovely little iPod sock, only to find a soggy watery mess and a lovely damp patch of ceiling dripping merrily and steadily. NOW WHAT!

First thought of course was the radiator pipes, but after ripping up the floor ... yet again ... they seemed perfectly intact.

Someone was having a laugh.

We could see the water pooled under the floor on the downstairs ceiling, but had no clue where it was coming from. There is only a small portion of the passage way floor that can be lifted for inspection, and that was just not enough,  so out comes the circular saw. Now we have a substantially larger portion of the floor that can be lifted.

Nothing a good old circular saw cannot solve hey!

Eventually Matthew figured out that the water was dripping down the wall from above. Upon closer inspection he noticed that the pipe to the water tank in the attic had worked it's way loose and was steadily emptying itself onto the ceiling, down the wall, onto the downstairs ceiling, and onto his iPod which was lying on the kitchen counter.

So we fixed all of that, correction, Matthew fixed all of that while I made encouraging noises. We have had the upstairs floor open for two days to try and dry out the downstairs ceiling and now we are wondering why we seem to be a conduit in the universe for spontaneous water leakage.

Talk about having a Monday morning. Garfield eat your heart out.

Having now dealt with our collective bad water karma, I could finally get down to actually painting.

One wall.

One is a start. Tomorrow I shall do one more, I don't want to exert myself now do I?

(Oh, the blue tape will be removed ... it is not part of the plan, only there to keep me painting inside the lines)

It is a green wall, and oh my, green it is. Amazing how it looks so much more green when it covers the entire wall as opposed to only a swatch.

I like it though, and it will be mostly obscured my my new NEXT curtain ... woohoo, I am getting new curtains. I am only painting one wall green, the others will be natural calico (technically just off-white, but natural calico sounds so much more posh).

The spare bed will also go here, with a matching duvet cover ... woohoo, I am getting a new duvet cover.

Then I will squash and squeeze all the rest of the bits into the remaining itsy bitsy space that is left over.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Oh how I hate DIY

So I spent the entire last week stripping wallpaper, and yes it was as fun as it sounds. Then there is my darling husband ...

You see, when he was twelve years old the owners of his local hardware shop asked him if he wanted to work for them because he spent so much time in there, looking and drooling over all of the tools and equipment. At twelve!

In those days in South Africa you could go to work part time even at that age, so he jumped at the opportunity. When I met him he was 28, and still working at the hardware shop on weekends, even though he was then holding down a 9-5 office job during the week. I think you get the point here - he loves all things harware, and probably the reason he gets my obsession with crafty tools, gadgets and stash.

There is a down side to this though, whenever there is any DIY work to be done, it gets done by the book. There is no painting over anything, everything has to get stripped down to bare metal, wood, board ... you take your pick, then primer, then sanding, then undercoat, then sanding, then top coat. Jeesh!

It always looks really good in the end, but working with a perfectionist is ... well ... hard work.

I have left a whole month for us to do my craft room, because I just know that it will stretch on with all the little extras we will have to do - not to mention all the new tools we will have to acquire.

First though, I had to get all the stuff out - and that took nearly a week. Sorting, organising, trying to find a temporary home for everything ... ugh!

This is my room starting out. You know how you have to get everything out and on the floor first before it can get properly sorted. Stuff everywhere - who knows where it all came from.

I am aiming for it all to be organised and neat when I am done, at the moment I only have one bookshelf that is organised the way I like it. The rest is in a state of, shall we say, semi organisation. You know where only I know where anything is.

Oh yes, and my ribbons – that has just been organised too, thanks to this cool hanger from Lakeland. I will just need to find a good place to hang it -maybe behind the door.

Once all the stuff was out there the fun and games started. Stripping the walls. That was fun ... NOT, and took me an entire week because I had to be super careful not to damage the plasterboard underneath.

I stripped all of the walls, using water, sponge, ladder and a scraper, but see all of the tools that suddenly arrive when Matthew starts doing all the things he needs to do. Like putting in new drywall screws, filling holes, levelling stuff, sanding stuff, sawing through the floor, putting in a new radiator ... the list is endless.

I am grateful, honestly I am. Matthew is great to have around, and he does a sterling job. It does mean however that this week I need to sand the skirtings, paint the skirtings, sand the door frame, paint the door frame, sand the door, paint the door ... do you feel my pain!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Christmas cards ...

Have you started yet?

Nope ... me either. Truth be told, I seldom make batches of cards for Christmas. I know I should, I know it would definitely go a long way to reducing my pile of stash that, at this rate of acquisition, will serve me way into the 22nd century ... but you know, I just don't.

A few years back I was doing quite a bit of magazine work, which conveniently left me with a nice steady pile of handmade cards to give to relatives come Christmas time. I am very deadline driven, and having to make them for a project always does nicely to light a fire under my "would rather sit at the computer and surf or watch tv if I could" bottom ... can I say bottom? It is not a bad word where I come from, but my daughter told me off the other day for saying it, so now I err on the side of caution.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes, deadlines, the great motivator.

Having cut down on my magazine work dramatically in the last two years, I don't make nearly as many cards, and as a result I actually have to make a conscious effort to get off this here chair and go and craft for myself. I did however make some Christmas cards for Craft Stamper this year. (So at least my mum will have a handmade card ... phew!)

They will be in the December issue, out on Friday. Think brown, think pink, think Season of Joy .... think Stampin' Up!

Love that Season of Joy set - especially the lovely flourished tree and cool swirl. I do have a thing for swirls.

Of course I am not allowed to post any of the images on here, but I made two extra cards for the Craft Stamper website and you can see them here

I can however share a card that made a while back, uhm, like two years back I think, but I do love these Bella's so much. This is WinoBella. Add a small Santa hat, and she transforms into a Christmas hostess ... voila. The hat is a small punch, but I really cannot remember who it was made by.

I cut an aperture around Bella and glued some patterned paper onto the inside of the card so that it shows through the aperture when the card is closed. Her dress was stamped seperately onto red cardstock and then pieced on with foam dots. Patterned paper is BasicGey.

On that festive note, I shall leave you as I have an appointment with a scraper and some wallpaper that needs stripping.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Scrapbook Inspirations

Yes, I know I am a bit behind the times, but I have just heard that Scrapbook Inspirations will be closing down. I am always sad to hear news like this. I have been a contributor to various magazines for a long time and have had my fair share of publications that I contributed to close down. It is so horrible to be on the receiving end, and I am truly sorry for all those who were involved with this magazine.

I did a few articles for Scrapbook Inspirations a long time ago and the editorial team were just lovely. I wish them all the best of luck for the future.

Here are some old layouts I did for SI magazine. They are all a few years old, so maybe a bit out of date as style goes.

No stamping on any of these I am afraid - for those of you who are stampers. These layouts were all done in my pre stamping days.

My craft room is having a major overhaul (edited to add: as I mentioned in an earlier post ... seems I am now repeating myself .. old age and all), so I will not be able to make anything new for a few weeks at least. While all of you are happily crafting, I will be covered in paint and sandpaper ... oh the joy. I hate DIY.

So any pictures I post on here for the next few weeks will have to be resurrected from the ghosts of projects past. Cue scary halloween music :)

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Cards for men

They are just the hardest to make aren't they. No pretty ribbons, or fancy flourishes, and eek ... boy colours. My friends father in law is turning 70 and I offered to make him a card as she couldn't find anything suitable in the shop. He likes boats, so she sent me over a picture of his boat which I put on the card. I kept it conservative and simple, but still managed to sneak in a flourish stamp and a scalloped edge - hopefully that is not too girly.

This is my favourite flourish stamp from Papertrey. I have also used the SU scallop punch (love that too), quickutz oval tag dies, some BasicGrey paper and my best alphabet from Sizzix, Fruit Smoothie, which I think is now discontinued. Lastly I used some tiny little brads that look like screws, for that manly touch you know ... to counteract the flourish.

I used to make lots of personalised cards, but haven't done any for ages so this was really nice. Here are two more cards that I made for friends before.

The brief for this last one was very specific, I had to use purple, her favourite colour, and Tara (the recipient of the card) had broken both her legs after a nasty fall so I had to work that in as well somehow. I wrapped some bandage that I had cut up around the letters L to look like two legs in plaster.

The flourish is Fancy Pants and the dotted cardstock is Bazzill, man I love that dotted bazzill.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Backup NOW

This morning I was trying to organise my cluttered, extremely disorganised and bursting at the seams font file when ...

I had spent more than an hour unzipping, moving, deleting and generally organising my fonts. I was actually in a good place and things were starting to look somewhat managable. I have a very nasty habit of doing a shift delete instead of a normal delete. Usually this is not a problem, until of course it is - the law of unfortunate events will catch you out when you are least expecting it, never mind how good you think your Karma is.

Seems I had somehow highligted my font directory instead of just a file, pressed shift delete enter, all in short succession ... of course ... as I do, without double checking what I was deleting ... and then had a heart attack. Not only had I lost more than an hours work, but in one little keystroke I had permanently deleted every single one of my fonts that I have been painstakingly collecting and buying over the last ten years. Granted, I had not burnt the house down or crashed my car, but if you are an adrenaline junkie, doing this will prove to be just as good a fix as the other two.


What is a girl to do. So I phoned my husband who is in charge of the backups, praying feverishly that he had actually done one recently.The universe must have heard my plight and as it turns out I had a very recent backup that I could restore ... but that was way too close.

I mean way too close.

Matthew, my computer saviour. Had we lived in Camelot this would have been the equivalent, in brownie points, of slaying the dragon.

Getting back to crafting, my craft room is having an overhaul so that we can fit an extra bed in there. At the moment the bed needs to be suspended from the ceiling because my stash is already crawling up the walls, but it has to be done.

I have enlisted Matthew to build me some shelves which will hold up a large desktop

... and while he was doing that this weekend I was making the most of my craft room while I can still find my supplies.

I was working on a project for Craft Stamper which I cannot share, but managed to squeeze in one card for me too, seeing as my supplies were out of course.

Love the swirl from this stamp set (Stampin'Up! - Baroque Motifs).

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Just not enough time

Honestly, there is just never enough time to do everything. Why do so many people have so many great blogs that I have to visit.

This also being my favourite time of the month, the run up to the Papertrey Ink stamp launch on the 15th of every month. So many great ideas and beautiful cards. If you don't already follow the design team for PTI go and look at Nichole Heady's blog and then follow all the links. Some fabulously talented girls.

Now, I want to share with you my new favourite material - acetate or computer printable transparency sheets.

Because it is transparent, it makes for a perfect mask if you want to see what is going on underneath your masked area.

I used it to make this tree card for the Moxiefab Green challenge a while ago.

I cut a circle from a sheet of transparency using my compass cutter, stuck it down with herma repositionable, and then stamped the background damask design over the entire card using versamark. I removed the circle and stuck transparency sheet with the cut out circle aperture onto the card (again with herma repositionable) this time to cover the stamped area, leaving the circle exposed.

I Inked the circle area with green ink using cut'n dry foam ... and then .... because you can see the damask design through the mask, I was able to stamp the tree with the same background damask pattern lining it up perfectly with the original.

Wipe the transparency clean and store for future use.

Monday, 12 October 2009

I think I need

One of these

image from letterpress website

So that I can make some of these

image from letterpress website

This is a new letterpress tool from the Quickutz family and I love it. I have no idea if it will be available over here, I simpy stumbled upon the website by accident this morning, but I love the clean simplicity and ability to make several cards or invitations or ... anything really for that matter, think gift tags, stationery etc. ... quickly and easily. It looks like a simple stamped image, but it is more than that, the image also gets debossed when you run it through the machine ..... hmmm, lovely.

Find more details here on the website or to see how it works here on the blog.

I wonder if Santa reads my blog ... and whether he might swing by the States on the way over here ... and if he wouldn't mind popping one of these in his bag for me while he is there.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

It's finally fixed

My computer that is.

Am I grateful or what! Grateful that I have a husband who knows what to do with this...

This has been the state of my poor pc for the last week and working on the spare is .... well, just not the same. No photos, no access to my software, no favourites, no cookies (how am I supposed to remember all of my passwords and stuff) ... need I say more. Seems the problem was a failed hard drive, the one with all of our videos on. Matthew, my if-it-is-broken-I-will-fix-it-even-if-it-kills-me husband, has been browsing all of the techie websites and forums, and I'm sure in a few days he will be surrounded by little hard drive parts, several tiny screwdrivers, lots of cords, plugs and cables ... so there is hope yet.

But, pc problems aside, remember last weekend we went to Warwickshire. Gosh, it is beautiful there. We stayed on a fabulous farm, you know one of those farm B&B's where you get woken by the smell of bacon and freshly collected eggs cooking in the kitchen and all you want to do is rush downstairs and grab your share before the other guests get there first ... and that is coming from me, who is a vegetarian. Say no more.

We also had to do all of the obligutory museums and stuff, because that is what you do when you go away ... right. Then of course you have to take photos like these of your children posing with a terribly bad rendition of a soldier

And if you have too much time on your hands on a Sunday morning you have to play around with some cool actions from Ree, better known as the Pioner woman and do this ...

But what I really came on here today to show you is the super cool bird bead that I bought at the Artisan show. I really really do not want to start a new hobby, but when I watched Sue Webb working her magic with glass I have to admit I was seriously tempted. Not only does she make great beads, but she had an array of the cutest, quirkiest birds to buy. How cute is this little fellow.

I have a little thing for quirky bead creations, but up to now I have only ever bought seed bead creatures. These are in abundance in South Africa, and every time we visit I have to bring something back. Last time I really wanted a lifesize sheep for the garden, but Matthew refused to bring that along on the plane - so I settled for a parrot. She hangs outside on my patio and is gorgeous. You can only just spot her there next to the drainpipe.

I also have a collection of other tiny creatures, key chain flowers etc., but none of them are as cute as my lampwork bead ... I need more of those!