I'm travelling into a new way of working, a new country, a new language, and a new hobby which I'm passionate about. Come with me for some of the journey...

Sunday 30 December 2012

New Year Manifesto

Hello all, I'm so glad you've found the time to drop in today.  I'm sharing my New Year Manifesto... no, not resolutions, as I'm generally useless at keeping them, and they're so often couched in the negative - 'stop doing this', 'give up that'.  So my manifesto is based on positivity, with an aim to ensure that each day includes some of each of the bullet points.  But bullet points are no fun, so mine are bunting points!

This garland also forms one of my Design Team projects for eclectic Paperie, making the most of some of the lovely things on offer at the eclectic Paperie store.  It was really easy to make, and such fun too.  You can find the links to most of what I've used at the foot of the post.

Exciting news... early in the New Year, we'll be starting a couple of monthly challenges over at eP, with great prizes.  There's an Altered Art challenge which will kick off next week, and then each month there'll also be a challenge set by a member of the DT - the first one is hosted by the amazing Marjie Kemper, so you won't want to miss that.  If you join up over at the eP blog, you'll be sure not to miss anything.

But back to the bunting...  The flags are created using some of the lovely alterable coasters eP stocks, which came in my goodie box from them.

They're probably not something I'd necessarily have thought of getting myself, but I'm so glad they turned up.  I'd been enjoying Carol Fox's beermat creations, now finally all garlanded together, so I thought I'd have a go at something along those lines with these coasters.

The papers are the Fair Skies collection by the Farmhouse Paper Company - I love the colour combinations.

I've used four different papers and mixed them together in various ways.

So the balloons which are the base for the dream flag also put in an appearance as the large heart (trimmed a little) on the love flag.

The rest of the hearts were created using a small punch from my stash.  I backed some of the paper onto thicker card, before punching, to give them a bit more sturdiness.

After sticking the paper to the coasters using the Inkssentials collage glue stick (it really does work better than most glue sticks I've tried), I sanded the edges, and then brushed light coloured acrylic paint around them too, mixed to match the the pale colours within the papers, for extra shabby chic effect.

All the cut and punched paper elements have also had a little shabby paint added to their edges.

As well as helping the shabby chic look, it gives some texture and movement to the piece.

The bunting flags on the play flag were easy to make.  All I had to do was simply cut them out from the paper left over from the background on the laugh flag.

The lettering is the fabulous Idea-ology Alphaparts Newsprint set, which I love using.  This time I've given it a couple of coats of acrylic paint, the same mixture as was used for all the edging.

Since the words were getting a little lost against the busier backgrounds, I used some of the gingham papers to back them onto, so that they would stand out more clearly on those two flags.

There are added embellishments from my stash: some mulberry paper roses...

... the wooden ornament behind the dream heart...

 ... the little buttons ...

... and then I used some off-white paper ribbon, also from my supplies, to tie the linking bows, and as the string to attach the garland at the ends.  It's lovely stuff, as once you've threaded it through, you can spread it out to get a great dimensional bow.

I'm very pleased with the end result and - although it will mean some red infiltrating my otherwise bluesy room - I will enjoy having it on the noticeboard to remind me to keep having fun through the (inevitably) stressful time ahead as we sort through 40 years of clutter and prepare to move out of the family home.   It will be important to remember it's not just an ending, but also the beginning of a whole new set of adventures... and what better time for that than the beginning of a brand new year?!

I suspect this will probably be my last post before tomorrow, so I'd like to wish all of you out there in Craftyblogland a very happy, healthy, prosperous and peaceful 2013.  Thank you so much for your support on this journey so far, and I can't wait to see what the New Year brings for us all...

Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve.  Middle age is when you're forced to.
Bill Vaughn

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
T.S. Eliot, from "Little Gidding"

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.
Hal Borland

Find all these at eclectic Paperie; just click on the item to go straight there... and don't forget the great challenges starting soon at eP - it would be great to have you play along!

I'm entering this in the following:
Simon Says Stamp are playing Anything Goes this week
Live and Love Crafts would like to see Anything But A Card
Anything But a Card are playing Anything Goes (or your favourite piece from last year)
At Pile It On, they are still looking for us to Pile on the Embellishments

Saturday 29 December 2012

Wrap it up!

Hello all, just a quick post today, and then I hope to get some hopping done later on...

I have a stinking cough/cold/aches + pains bug which has been slowing me up somewhat, but I'm looking forward to catching up with you all.

Just wanted to share a couple of photos of how I gift-wrapped some of the presents I gave.

They're very simply done - still in the neutrals/naturals world I've been inhabiting recently.  Don't worry, there's some colour on the way shortly!

I wrapped the gifts in plain brown parcel paper.  I've wrapped my presents in this for years, varying the decorations I add to it... and this year, for the first time, I had stamping available to liven it up.

I used the Artistic Outpost set Snowy Woods, which is a whole A4 sized sheet of wonderful images.

I've always loved the Robert Frost poem that's quoted on this one, and it's perfect applied to poor Father Christmas trudging his way through the snowy landscape.

The images are stamped very simply in Coffee Archival, and then I used some of the tree trimmings to top them off.

I've often used trailing ivy in the past, but I loved the echoing of the gorgeous fir branch stamp in the background, with the real thing next to it.

Finally some curly white string for a hint of snowiness and we're done...

Happy to have got that in before the end of December, at least.  I hope you're all enjoying the quiet time between Christmas and New Year - it's a lull I love (in the years when I don't have to go charging back to work in between).

I'm hoping I'll feel up to some crafting at some point, but at the moment I'm mostly curled up with a hot water bottle and a large box of hankies, feeling very sorry for myself.  Wicked how it robs you of the will to craft... but I'm looking forward to seeing what you've all been up to.

I'm entering this in the Artistic Outpost December Referral which is Anything Goes using an AO stamp.

Each day comes bearing its own gifts.  Untie the ribbons.
Ruth Ann Schabacker

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep. 
Robert Frost

I'm entering this as my second piece in Top Tip Tuesday's challenge - Anything Christmas... with a tip: Use some natural Christmas greenery on gifts to make them look fresh and beautiful - it has to be done on the day though!

Friday 28 December 2012

Let sleeping cats lie...

Hello all, it's Friday, and time for a new challenge at Fussy and Fancy... and this fortnight the theme is "Our Furry Friends".  I'm not going to lie to you - I had problems with this one!  But I hope you'll hop over to see the great inspiration provided by my fellow Design Team members - and that you'll find some Christmas crafting time to join in with the challenge.

For some reason, I couldn't get my head round the theme this time - and I promise you I'm not an animal-hater - quite the reverse, but I don't really do "cute", as regulars will know, and this seemed like a "cute" theme.  In the end, I just had to try to follow my nose... I'm still unsure about where it got me (and if you were around to see what was on my workdesk on Wednesday, you'll know there were plenty of discarded efforts en route).

Rather than cute I ended up going "Zen"... and I rode on the back of another artist's inspiration.  I've used one of the amazing cat sketches by Steinlen (Théophile Alexandre Steinlen - now there's a name to conjure with) as my central image.  He captures cats to perfection in his drawings.

Round the edges I used Pumice Stone and Frayed Burlap DIs, blended over a torn tag to get a subtle natural framing wave of colour.

The quote comes from Jane Pauley (an American journalist), and seemed to go perfectly with how the image makes me feel... And I'm telling you, I needed some of that Zen-like calm after struggling with this project!

In the background, I used some handmade type paper - the natural fibres provide such pleasing texture.

And on the white card I used my Kaisercraft woodgrain stamp to provide another natural element.  It's stamped in a mixture of Memento London Fog (a lovely grey) and Black Soot DI, so that it echoes the pencil/graphite strokes of the drawing.

On the edges I added texture by stippling gesso and French Roast Fresco paint from PaperArtsy, keeping the brush fairly dry, to get the whiskery/paw-printy look in places.

And since the natural look seemed to have taken hold, I grabbed some more of the twigs leftover from creating my Golden Memories of Home tag.  Once I tried them out, the other elements needed a little more definition, so I used Gathered Twigs DI to edge them.

So that's my attempt to honour Our Furry Friends!  I'm sure you'll find lots from the rest of the DT to tickle your fancy over at Fussy and Fancy... and it would be lovely to have you join in with us this time - I can't wait to see what you all come up with!

I have studied many philosophers and many cats.  The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.
Hippolyte Taine

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
Robert A Heinlein

Wednesday 26 December 2012


Wednesday - is it?  If you say so... well, today is our "Christmas Day", so forgive me for being forgetful.  Later my brother and his family will arrive, and we'll do the big present session, and have our Christmas meal, but I've just got time to join in with WOYWW first (though my visiting may be a little delayed, I fear).

Yes, Wednesday means it's time to show you What's On My Workdesk... and you can hop over to the Stamping Ground for this week's nose around more craftdesks around the world, hosted by the lovely Julia Dunnit.

I've got a very messy desk - the wastes left over after struggling mightily with one of my DT themes this week (more of that on Friday, maybe)...

The canvas board in the foreground is one failed attempt.

The cat pictures are Steinlen illustrations - from more failed attempts, although one of these did form the basis of what I've eventually gone with (still not happy with it).

The tag with all the painstakingly stamped words from a very long cat quote is another fail.  Epic.

I'd far rather just show you a few pictures of some of my favourite ornaments on my tree... the one up in my attic room (bedroom, living room and craft room), which is all silver, white, blue and wood - suiting the frosty temperatures up there!  Don't worry, I like to live cold...

Yes, that's better... hope you're all having a wonderful time this Christmastide!  And happy WOYWW...

Saturday 22 December 2012

Have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Let your heart be light...

Lyrics from one of my favourite Christmas songs (as opposed to carols, that is)... and the perfect version, for me, is Judy Garland's from Meet Me In St Louis.  As the film was made in 1944, the lyrics were altered slightly, making them very specific to families separated by the war.  I've got the originals at the foot of the post - but for sheer poignancy, you can't beat Judy!

When I arranged to do a Christmas tag swap with the fabulous Trace from inkypinkycraft, that lyric came straight into my head, as I know she loves to use and to see hearts in crafting.  So I made lots of differently textured hearts (some more on the back too, as you'll see) as the main feature of the tag.

Earlier today I showed you the exchange of tags in brief - check out the amazing tag Trace made me - and said I'd be around again with some more details about how I made mine, so here I am... and here's the tag I sent her.

I started with the tag background, building up layers of book text, gesso, and a bit of PaperArtsy crackle glaze with some Fresco paint to get a central streak of grungy texture.

I then used some texture paste with the Mini Antiquities stencil from Crafter's Workshop to add the raised text and key shapes in different areas on the jumbo tag.

Once the paste was dry, I built up layers of Fresco paint colour over and around it, using the techniques I'd seen Leandra of PaperArtsy demonstrating at the NEC recently.

You can see her in action on youtube - amazing videos, well worth checking out... just search PaperArtsy.

Once I was happy with the depth of colour and the layers, I applied some Treasure Gold to the lettering with my fingertips.  It's such fabulous stuff for adding that antique gilding look - this is the White Fire colour.

So, to the hearts.  They were cut from strong card using the Sizzix Primitive Hearts die.

Then I ran some of them through the Tim Holtz Cracked embossing folder and played with layers and washes of various paints until I got a burnished metallic look that pleased me.

Others I used the PaperArtsy crackle glaze on again, but this time I applied it with a foam pad rather than a brush.

As Leandra says, this gives you a much finer porcelain crackle effect.  Once dry, I UTEE'd them, and then cracked the hard, glossy surface to give extra texture over the top of the crackle.

The third set of hearts - okay, time to reveal the reverse side of the tag - had Andy Skinner's textured rust technique applied to them for some grungy texture.

On the back of the tag I used the Mini Antiquities stencil again, but this time just blended some Gathered Twigs DI through it, straight onto the manila surface of the tag.

And regulars will recognise my trusty little £1 alphabet stamp set being pressed into action yet again.  It's started to feel like my "crafty handwriting", so it's slightly weird for me to see it next to my actual handwriting!

And what would a tag be without some DI-dyed seam binding to top it off?  I used Vintage Photo and some of the metallic Distress Stains smooshed onto the craft mat to get the golden tones for this.  

So that's the tag, pretty much... I'll leave you with a couple of close-ups that please me, as they capture all the layers and textures colliding.  

I'm so happy that Trace loved it (see her swap post here)... I couldn't have been happier with mine from her!

I'd just like to say to anyone still out there hopping, thank you so much for dropping in today, and...

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light;
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yuletide gay;
Next year all our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore,
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years we all will be together,
If the fates allow;
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough,
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Lyrics by Ralph Blane, Music by Hugh Martin

And for anyone who missed the previous post, this bears repeating:
This swap represents the tip of an enormous iceberg.  It's hard to express how much I value this extraordinary community of crafters - the generosity, creativity and inspiration I have found here in Craftyblogland in the six months I've been at this has been truly astounding, and I am so happy to have discovered this wonderful world.  I wish you and yours a peaceful and joyous festive season, and look forward to much, much more in 2013!