Sunday, 28 December 2008

A Poor Neglected Blog

Oh dear, oh dear, look how long it's been since I paid any attention to this poor blog.

My organisational skills have disintegrated completely over the last couple of months but Christmas is over now and amazingly enough the right people received a present from me, a Christmas dinner appeared on the table and some people even got handmade cards. (Others missed out completely but we won't dwell on that...) So, before I go back to work tomorrow I should give a little thought to this blog.

I have been making a few things since I last blogged and even made some Christmas presents but pictures are sadly lacking. However today I have finished making some desk calendars for friends at work and I took a photo to prove it.

I found a video tutorial on someone's blog with instructions for making this calendar using a Bind It All. Of course I no longer have any idea where I found it so I can't credit the kind person who did it. The original was smaller so I did tinker with it a bit - the cover on mine is four and a half inches square and the pages are four by four and a quarter inches. The calendar in the centre is the prototype and is going to be for me, the other two are for friends.

The week before Christmas I took my Mum to see her sister who now lives in a residential home in Weston super Mare. On our last visit I had taken a photo of the two of them and I made the photo into a mini card concertina as a Christmas present for my aunt. It also included a picture of the 5 siblings as children in 1929 and a photo taken at my aunt's 80th birthday a few years ago. I gave it to my aunt just as we left and a couple of days later my Mum had a phone call to say how pleased she was with it - she hadn't even waited till Christmas day to open it! My Mum said several time she wished she had seen it but she had to wait till Christmas as I'd also made one for her. I didn't take a picture of either of them finished but this is the photo from 1929 - my Mum is bottom right and was 3 at the time. What amazes me is that with 5 young children my grandmother still managed to make them all put hats on!

I'm not really into scrapbooking but I have done a few small minibooks and I love it when it is so special to the person I've made it for.
It feels like months since I did any stitching and as I've got some new stamping classes to prepare for the new year I can't see myself picking up a needle any time soon. However, I will try not to neglect this blog quite so much in 2009.
If I have any readers I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas and wish everyone a happy new year.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Alien Vegetable and Felt balls

Yesterday I went to a workshop at Stitchncraft in Shaftesbury with Heather Kingsley-Heath doing needlefelting and beading. It was very enjoyable - one or two people made finished pieces but as always I was very slow but made some needlefelted shapes that I will get round to beading sometime. Heather then told us how to make felted balls and I really loved that and came home with a little pile - so quick and easy and they actually come out round! I want to make some more and then actually make a project with them but unfortunately I've been having a lot of problems with my arms and shoulders lately and making the balls was a step too far. I'll have to wait till the pain goes before I risk another go. I also need to let my hand recover - my fingers were nearly shredded from the number of times I stuck the needle in them. We were warned to take care and no one else seemed to be wincing so it must just have been me who's completely ham fisted!
As I walked back to my car I spotted this vegetable in a local greengrocers. Unfortunately I forgot to note the name but I gather from the lady who sold it to me that it's a cross between a cauliflower and broccoli. Isn't it fabulous! I've never seen one before so I had to take a load of photos and my daughter's already planning to get the pictures into every project she does at art college from now on! I'm just slightly worried that I am now sharing the house with some alien life form....

Paper Artsy ATCs

I love Paper Artsy stamps so when I got some of their new Squiggly Ink stamps I had to have a play and these are 3 ATCs I made with them. I love the quirky style.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Wild Women

Last Sunday I went to a workshop with Tania at Rumpelstiltskin, a fibre crafts shop at Broadwindsor Craft Centre. It's been a while since I've been to one and it was great fun to do a class again. We were making wild women based on Sarah Lawrence's creation. I already had the book but hadn't got round to having a go so a class was just what I needed to make me sit down and do it. We made a piece of felt first using wet felting and my favourite colours, then we cut out 2 shapes each and decorated them with Artgirlz charms and beads. We also did some needle felting to add other fibres and small snips of chiffon etc. I was able to try out the Clover felting mat which is like a brush and the needle tool - the mat is much easier to use than the car sponge I was making do with so of course I had to buy one! I also got to have a go with an embellisher machine and fell in love! Where would I put one? When would I find the time to use it enough to make it worth the investment? What the heck, it's going on my Christmas list....

Monday, 22 September 2008

Overdoing It

I've always liked autumn and regarded it as a time to start new things - a hang over from new school years I expect. Well this year I think I've gone a bit overboard and might regret some of the enthusiasm. This time last year I did a few different classes and enjoyed them but for various reasons I didn't sign up for any more this year so I decided to get back into the swing of things. So at the moment I am signed up for 5 classes - just half days and one full day but I'm also running stamping classes on a monthly basis, another 3 between now and Christmas and I'm still struggling with the new job at work which is very busy. Then there is Christmas itself: making my own Christmas cards, shopping etc etc. Most of it looks set to be enjoyable (except work of course...) but I think maybe I should learn to pace myself.
I ran a class on Saturday at Kraft Krazy in Tidworth using Ranger's acrylic paint dabbers. It was good fun but as I only had one dabber in each colour everyone was working on a different piece at a different time and I was running round the table showing people the various steps and passing colours and stamps back and forth! Maybe there's an easier way....

This isn't a whinge, I'm just taking a deep breath!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

To Do List

This month's Take it Further challenge from Sharon is lists. This is not an artistic response to the challenge but a practical step intended to help me keep my sanity and as I'm not likely to get round to doing a real piece I thought I might as well include this.

I have recently changed jobs at work and am now dealing with loads of stuff new to me that I have very little idea how to do. This week I felt overwhelmed with things and one morning started about 6 different pieces of work and made progress with none of them. I've always been pretty organised and have kept a running to do list for several years but I decided I'd got to ramp up the system if I was going to cope. So instead of just a to do list I now have a folder. I've decorated several of these plain frosted A5 folders lately and in fact my last workshop was about altering one. The to do lists we use at work are turquoise so I decided to colour my folder orange using Pumpkin and Mustard seed Stazon ink and overstamping with Rusty Brown and Midnight Blue. I made file dividers to separate out the different aspects of the job using some orange scrapbook paper by Flavia and overstamping using Prima and Paper Artsy stamps. I think the result is bright enough to ensure I'll never lose the folder however covered my desk gets with papers!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Poppy Heads

So this is what I want to be able to do - finally!
I want more time to be able to play about with projects like this, leave them lying around while I decide what to do next, come back to them when I'm ready and really work through ideas. I'm very pleased with this but I expect it will be ages before I produce something else along these lines.
I started off by playing with needlefelting -can't afford/don't have room for an embellisher but it's surprising what results you can get very quickly just using hand needling. I used butter muslin laid over a bit of wadding and then wool roving. After it was done I decided to paint the background! Each stage of this I decided to paint afterwards instead of first as I would have done if I'd had any sense! Also added beads to the flower centres.
Then I wanted to have a go at fabric paper following the instructions in Beryl Taylor's book 'Mixed-Media Explorations'. I have tried this before but the paper came unstuck from the backing fabric after a while. I don't know what I did differently apart from using butter muslin as the backing this time instead of calico and the piece is well and truly stuck. However I stuck the needlefelted piece on at the same time - as I was doing it I knew it was a mistake but I kept going - why? Anyway, I managed with it like this though it would have been easier to attach it later. I used stamped scraps from my scrap drawer (always makes me feel virtuous) and then added more stamping along with drawing inks over the top. The poppy head is a rubber stamp and for the centre piece I stamped it and enlarged it on my copier then traced it onto handmade paper and stitched and beaded it. Then I added the colour! I stitched it onto the background with oversize, uneven cross stitches then added more over the rest of the piece to tie it all together. The photo shows it cropped beautifully to a finished piece but in reality I haven't yet decided how to finish it off - I think it would look nice in a frame painted dark blue - if I ever get round to it.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Stamping on muslin

Yesterday I was playing around trying to make some fabric paper and I had a go at stamping on butter muslin. The image didn't look right with the main piece but made a lovely delicate looking ATC. The butter muslin was coloured with green and blue watered down drawing ink, then I stamped a collage image with purple Stazon ink. The purple strip down the side is a piece of paper lace. I stuck wadding to an ATC card then stretched the muslin over it and stuck another card to the back to cover all the bits.
I actually stamped the image twice and the other piece was mounted very simply onto a card with brads.
Still working on the fabric paper....

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Take it Further - August

As I mentioned in my last post I had abandoned the Take it Further Challenge because I couldn't fit it in round the other things I have to do. I also said how I wasn't finding time to do anything with fabric and stitch and I've been missing that. The class I'm preparing for September is using paint dabbers and I saw on someone's blog (sorry, can't remember who to give them the credit they deserve) how they'd used the dabbers on metal. So I embossed a small piece with a Cuttlebug embossing folder, then painted the background with the dabbers. I was really pleased with the result and felt that I wanted to incorporate it into something fabric based rather than just stick it on a card. So I made it into a fabric postcard. The background is knitting ribbon machined to a cream fabric then lines of hand stitches added - I went back to my TAST samples to decide which ones to use. When I added the metal piece it didn't really stand out enough so at the last moment I coloured the daisy with butterscotch Alcohol ink and that made it look much better. Finally, cleaning the shower this morning (!) it came to me that this piece is actually all about balance which is the theme Sharon set for this month's Take it Further Challenge - I'm trying to find a balance between the things I have to do and the things I want to do, and a balance between the papercrafting which I find easier to pick up if I have limited time, and the stitching which I find more challenging.
So unbeknownst to me I managed to produce a piece for Take if Further after all, and before the end of the month to boot!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Moo Cards

I decided to send for some moo cards using some of my ATCs, cards and stitched pieces as the images. I was thrilled when they arrived - above is a selection of them as I used 16 different pictures in all. (Sorry about the line down the side from where I scanned them - too lazy to do it again.) They make me feel so important even if I haven't got anyone to give them out to! I liked the article in the recent Somerset Studio magazine where people used their art to have moo cards printed and then used the moo cards to make further pieces of art.
I've been busy this weekend preparing the samples for the class on Adirondack paint dabbers that I'm going to be doing at Kraft Crazy in Tidworth in September. We're going to be mainly making tags using the dabbers in different ways but I have also decorated a papier mache box using the paints and I'm very pleased with the result - turquoise and red, a favourite colour combination.
In October I'm also going to do a class at the Post Office in Dorchester and I noticed yesterday that my name appears in the class list on the website - very exciting!
I'm enjoying doing the classes and I love paper crafting and stamping in particular but what I really strive to be able to do is textiles/stitching in some shape or form and that is really falling by the wayside at the moment as my spare time is spent on the classes. I've also abandoned the Take it Further challenge which is a pity as I was enjoying doing that and pleased with the pieces I did do. Never mind, I just have to do what I can manage and not stress about what I can't.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Art Stamps show

Yesterday I went to the Arts Stamp show at Newbury. My sister in law and I have been going for quite a few years now and have seen it outgrow its original venue at the Corn Exchange and move to Newbury Racecourse. Two years ago it filled both the ground and first floor there, last year it didn't quite fill the first floor, this year it only filled the middle of the first floor with spaces at both ends. And what's missing now is the more arty, quirky, unusual stuff which is a great shame. I managed to spend all my money(!) and am pleased with the things I bought but I wish I'd had the chance to see something a bit different and I hope this isn't going to be the start of a downward spiral for the show.
It was very hot there yesterday and I sympathise with all the traders who are having to stick out the heat for a second day today.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Distress Inks class

Last Saturday I took a class at Kraft Crazy at Tidworth on using distress inks. I'd tried to make cards and ATCs which used the inks in a variety of ways to get a variety of looks. I think people often think brown and grungy when they think of distress inks and though the inks are very good for that sort of look, they are so much more versatile. Everyone made 3 cards and 2 ATCs so it was quite a rush but people seemed to enjoy it so I hope they will carry on to use the inks for themselves - they are definitely one of my favourite products. Here's the pics of my samples:

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


Two more ATCs made from the distress ink backgrounds I was playing around with last week. Papers all cut to size for my class on Saturday, just a few more bits and pieces to clear up and I can go back to work tomorrow!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Odds & Ends

On Thursday I go back to work after a couple of weeks leave but as usual I don't feel either as though I've achieved very much, nor that I've had a rest! I've sorted out drawers and the rest of my craft stuff, I've done quite a few chores, I've crossed lots of items off a to-do list but there still seems a lot left on the list including several biggies that I never got to.
Anyway on Saturday I am taking another class at Kraft Crazy in Tidworth. This one is on distress inks so I have been busy making samples ready and tomorrow I've got to sort out all the papers etc. that I need. I've also prepared the sample for the binder that we're going to decorate in my August class so it's a relief to have that done ready.

My sister in law came and stayed for a couple of days last week and we spent quite a bit of time playing especially with distress inks and with a pack of grungeboard that she kindly brought me. Some of the pieces got turned into a few cards and ATCs so I have something to show after all.

This card is for my brother's birthday at the end of the month but he certainly won't be looking here! And I was especially pleased with this second card.
However, I do wonder when I will ever get back to working with fabric and stitches.....

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Drawers again

Susan asked in a comment where I got my drawers from. They come from Storage 4 Crafts and the service was excellent. They are called Double Stacker kits and they come in various combinations of drawers. They are well made and though I hate flat packed furniture I actually managed to put these together myself with very little difficulty. I can highly recommend both the drawers and the website.

Posh Drawers!

Aren't my new drawers fabulous! My craft room doubles as the dining end of my living room, so when craft stuff threatens to take over my whole living space looks messy. I bought one of these units last September and quickly figured that I could fit 3 of them in where I currently had a low blanket box. It took a while to save for 2 more units but I finally got them last week and have spent most of the past week arranging and rearranging. Everything had a knock on effect so if I moved some stuff into a drawer I ended up having to sort out the cupboard that that stuff had come from. I now have fewer bits of storage all over the place but I doubt that will last long. I just have 2 drawers still empty (and they're the shallow 1 inch ones) and I've bought yet more stuff this week. I'm beginning to think this craft obsession is a life threatening affliction!

And I've been so busy sorting and tidying on top of all the usual work, house, garden chores that I haven't had time to do any actual creating. Fabric and stitching haven't had a look in for what feels like months. The Take it Further challenge has been abandoned I'm ashamed to say and I've only done the odd bit of stamping. I did make this which was quite fun and it's being displayed on top of the posh drawers for the moment:

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Alcohol Inks class

Last Saturday I took 2 workshops on alcohol inks with my sister in law, one in the morning and one in the afternoon so it was quite a day. Both sessions went well and the shop sold plenty of inks so there was one pleased owner! The ladies attending all seemed to enjoy it, they were all new to the inks and were pleasantly suprised at how easy they are to use and how the results are almost foolproof. We spent half the class playing around with the inks on different surfaces and getting a feel for them then they made a black and white card using a square of glass coloured with the inks to highlight an area of a stamped image and make a focal point. Finally they coloured and decorated a mint tin like this one at the top of this post. I used an image I donwloaded from Cora of Paper Flowers. She very generously provides vintage images to download every Sat and I have used this set of ladies before, they are so stylish.

I have been asked to do another class and I'm going to be working on distress inks next so I'm going to start playing around with those. Before I move on though here is a card I made for my niece's anniversary using alcholol inks stencilled over a heart-shaped cheap earring (I always knew this was its real purpose in life!). I then masked it off so I could stamp flowers in the shape. Also an empty mixed spice jar that I coloured with the inks and then decorated with paper, punches and ribbon. At the rate at which I eat bread and butter pudding it shouldn't be too long before I have a whole row of empty spice jars to decorate!

I love stationery and always have to have the right notebook, pen etc. before I can start anything new. So when I wanted to keep a notebook for my classes I first had to do a bit of decorating! This was a plain white frosted A5 ringbinder from the high street but now it looks much more fun!

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Alcholol Inks

Next Saturday I have been asked to take two classes on alcohol inks at a local craft shop. My sister-in-law takes regular classes there and was asked to do one on alcohol inks but as they're not really her thing she suggested me. In fact we'll take the class together so it should be fun. The main focus will be trying the inks on various surfaces rather than producing finished products, however we are going to do a card and alter a mint tin. We made the samples for those and attached them to a board which is on display in the shop before I had a chance to take pictures. However I have done some other samples since as ideas for what people can do with the bits and pieces they take home. Here are some cards:

And a couple of ATCs:

And a couple of brooches made from pieces of coloured CDs:

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Mother's Day Countdown

Once again Lisa Vollrath is offering free images on her website in a countdown from 1st to 11th May for Mother's Day. All she asks is that you post a link before you download. The countdown is here.

Friday, 25 April 2008

Take it Further - April

I decided to use the colour palette Sharon gave us for this month's challenge as the theme of change felt a bit too close to home at the moment. The colours aren't ones I would ordinarily choose but then the whole point of the challenge is to push me out of my usual range and subject matter.

These are the colours but when I printed them off they looked completely different so I'm not sure if the colours I chose were exactly those intended. I felt particularly uncomfortable with the burgundy and dark green so the green is just used for an accent and the burgundy is the velvet paper the canvas piece is mounted on.

A while ago I produced several pieces of canvaswork that were completely unplanned and just tried out different stitches and I've been meaning to do more like this especially after reading Jill Carter's book New Canvaswork. Looking through it again I was inspired to try drawn thread work on canvas based on this picture of a book cover by Jill:

I soon realised you can't actually just pull the threads out like you can with evenweave fabric because of the size so I had to cut the apertures and the resulting fabric wasn't terribly stable. Also I didn't want to buy any thread for this challenge so was limited to tapestry wool as it was all I had in the colours. So I didn't try as many variations as I would have liked to but I like the finished piece and it was an interesting technique to try. I covered a notebook with brown parcel paper and then mounted the piece on the front.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Thank You

Thanks to everyone who's left a comment on my Coffee Rings book - I'm glad you liked the rather quirky idea! The whole process of the Take it Further challenge and the supporting comments I've had on my pieces has been a real encouragement to me and a real help in developing what I do and 'taking if further'.
Blogging is such a wonderful phenomenon and blogland such a welcoming place.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Take it Further - March

At last here is my finished project for March's Take it Further challenge - Coffee Rings. Sharon challenged us to notice the little things and I decided to embrace the little things that annoy me e.g. coffee rings and explore the design possibilities. This picture shows the whole book made of brown parcel paper 5 and a half inches by 5. As an aide memoire I wrote how I did each page on a tag and I mounted the tags on a ring and incorporated it into the stitched binding. The wording is done on the computer and printed onto acetate.

I started off with actual coffee stains on paper and fabric and played around with various ideas and using rings and circles with other media. Techniques include stamping, stitching, beading, reverse applique, air dry clay, markal paint sticks, needle felting and embossing. The pages are just samples of techniques and ideas and any one would need developing further to become a finished project but I feel I have met the challenge by turning my dislike of coffee stains into a positive design.