Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year everyone!

Well, last post for 2009. No picture to show, I'm afraid. I had hoped to get some crafting done this week before we go back to school. However, my daughter bought me a jigsaw for Christmas, and once I start something like that, I have to get it finished. It's in the shape of a butterfly, all filled in with hundreds of butterflies, and it's proving fiendishly difficult. The main problem is that it's a lot bigger than it said on the box. I had to put it on a board on my desk, and I can't move it until it's done, as the board would only fit through the door on its side! So I haven't got any space left to craft in.

Anyway, I just wanted to wish everyone in Blogland a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year, and to say thank you to everyone who has left such wonderful comments during the Stamp Man Blog Hop (which is still ongoing, until Jan 3rd - scroll down to the previous post for details), also thank you and welcome to my lovely new followers. To all of you who have followed, commented on or otherwise supported my blog this year, a huge thanks. It is very much appreciated.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The Stamp Man Blog Hop, Candy, and Award Event

The Stampman Blog Hop, Candy and Award Event is now open! To join the fun, you need to visit each participating blog in turn, beginning with Jill's at The Stamp Man. You should have come to mine from Christine's (Ladylace's Crafting Space), and the next one to visit is

Pat's (Pats Card Making Passion).

There are lots of fantastic prizes to be won. If you haven't reached mine from Christine's, I'd suggest you go back to Jill's (The Stamp Man Blog) to start from the beginning. Each blog you visit will give you a code letter and tell you about about one of the prizes. You'll need to collect all the letters and at the end email your final answer to Jill. The last port of call will take you back to The Stamp Man blog which will tell you how to do that.

The code letter for my blog is  U

The prize is 400 ASSORTED ROUND BRADS.

To be eligible for a prize you will need to leave a comment on ALL the blogs in the hop.

Now about the Awards! These are to showcase everyone's best project from 2009! This is what it will look like! All the details are on The Stamp Man Blog, so hop over there to find out how to take part.

I think my own favourite project was the one I did back in June, where I made two cards using exactly the same design but with completely different colouring  and style. One was sweet and simple, the other grungy! It was really interesting to compare the effects. Most people seemed to prefer the grungy version. Here are the cards. To see how I made them, check out the post here.

Anyway, I'll let you go off and get started. The Event will end at midnight GMT on Sunday 3rd January. Don't forget to post your link on The Stamp Man Blog to your best project, and hop around all the blogs! I hope you have lots of fun on the way!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Christmas things

Well, I managed to get everything finished in time to catch the last posting date. Phew! Now that I know that some of them have reached their intended recipients, I can post them here. The Inkadinkado Angel has been one of my favourite Christmas stamps this year. I've kept this card quite simple so as not to detract from the image, which I've embossed with kaleidoscope EP. The greeting is by Craftwork Cards

Here's the angel again, stamped over "Silent Night" by Magnolia. The printed picture is from CraftyIndividuals' Christmas Miniatures book.

Next a few cards inspired by one of the beautiful samples on Sue Nelson's HeartPrints gallery. I liked the simplicity of it. (I needed something quick to do!) The one on the left has a Cuttlebug background and Nestabilities frames, and the image is from Woodware. The one on the right uses a background paper from the Elusive Images "Season's Greetings" CD from Graphicus. Nestie frames again. The image is one I've had for years, by PSX.  Same details for the third card, except that the image is from Woodware. The greetings on all three cards are computer generated.

When we went to the Sir Stampalot demo day, I was really taken with Brenda's    little decorated tins. I bought some blank ones to have a go at doing my own. Here's the one I made for my daughter's mum-in-law. It's coloured with alcohol inks, then stamped and embossed on top. The stamp is by Craftwork Cards. Inside I've put little photos of her three grandchildren, two of whom are also mine!
We will be going up to stay with them for Christmas, so no food shopping or cooking for me to do! I'll be on grandma duties so that my daughter can get on with things, and that's just fine by me!

Anyway, this will probably be my last post before Christmas, so to everyone in Blogland, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and a very happy and peaceful New Year.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

The Stamp Man Blog Hop, Candy, and Award Event

Jill at The Stamp Man is organising a post-Christmas Blog Hop, Candy and Award Event. It's going to be great fun, with awards and giveaways, and it will run for a week from Sunday 27th December to Sunday 3rd January. Read what Jill has to say about it by clicking on the link in my side bar, and please spread the word by posting the news on your own blogs, because the more people who join in, the better!

The main thing to remember for now is that it will all begin next Sunday, the 27th December  on The Stamp Man Blog, so make sure you check in there then to get all the instructions. Hope to see you all there!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

My first stamp

Sally's post earlier today about her St. Nick stamp got me thinking about the first stamp I ever bought, back in 1992. It was the "Santa with toy sack" from Hero Arts. I was at a local Christmas craft fair and someone was demonstrating stamping and embossing. I thought the embossing was magic, and my passion for stamping was born at that moment. It was the time when art stamping was just beginning to filter over here from the USA. Basically, it was just stamp (and maybe emboss) on plain white card, colour in with pencils or felt pens and add a greeting. My very first stamped card was just that, using a toaster to heat the embossing powder! I've tried to reproduce it here, complete with wonky greeting (I never did get round to straightening the rubber on the mount). I cringe now when I think about it and compare it to the sophisticated techniques that we are now able to employ, but I was proud of it back then!

As you can see, I still have the stamp, still use it and it's still as good as new. But who would have envisaged then that stamping would take off in the way that it has, that we would have the mind-boggling wealth of tools, materials, equipment and inspiration that we enjoy today? I certainly had no idea at the time how stamping and things related were going to take over so much of my life. Not to mention my house!

Anyone else got a "My first stamp" story? If so, please share it, or better still, post it on your blog, if you have one, and leave a comment here with a link to it so that we can all come and read it!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Thrilled to bits!

I have been given a lovely new blog award by the Crafticious ladies, Elaine and Janet. I am extremely pleased to receive it and it means a lot to me to know that people appreciate my blogging. So thank you very much, Janet and Elaine.

The award comes with 35 questions, each to be answered with a single word. Not easy but I'll have a go. Then I have to nominate 5 other people to receive the award. So, here goes with the questions.

1. Where is your cellphone?......................Desk
2. Your hair?...........................................Straight
3. Your Mother?.....................................Passed
4. Your Father?......................................Inspiring
5. Your favourite food?..........................Chocolateofcourse
6. Your dream last night?........................Unrecalled
7. Your favourite drink?..........................Tea
8. Your dream/goal?...............................Survival!
9. What room are you in?.........................Study
10.Your hobby?.....................................Craft
11.Your fear?..........................................Drowning
12.Where do you want to be in 6 years?...Scotland
13.Where were you last night?..................Home
14.Something that you aren't?..................Thin
16.Wish list item?................................. .Time
17.Where did you grow up?...................Yorkshire
18.Last thing you did?............................Phoned
19.What are you wearing?.....................Clothes
20.Your TV?.........................................Neglected
21.Your pets?........................................None
23.Your life?.........................................Good
24.Your mood?....................................Calm
25.Missing someone?............................Yes
27.Something you're not wearing............Hat
28.Your favourite store?.........................Craft
29.Your favourite colour?........................Blue
30.When was the last time you laughed?.....Today
31.Last time you cried?............................Forgotten
32.Your best friend?................................Wonderful
33.One place that I go to over and over?.....Scotland
35.Favourite place to eat?..........................Italian

And the five people I'd like to nominate to receive the award are

SALLY (Crafty Salutations)
BRENDA (Floral Fantasies)
LISA (Lisa's Craft Garden)
SUE (Paper Paradise)
JILL (The Stamp Man)

All of your blogs are truly inspirational. If you feel able to play along and pass it on, well and good. I know how busy everyone is at this time of year so please don't feel obliged to, but accept the award anyway for being such wonderful bloggers.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The winner is announced!

Ok, it's time to reveal the winner of my Bloggerversary Candy! has selected




JUDITH (at Poppy Cottage)

Congratulations, Judith! If you'd like to email me (via my profile) with your address, I'll get your candy off to you straightaway.

I'd like to give a warm welcome to my new followers, and a big thank you to all of you who entered my candy draw, also to everyone who has supported my blog over the past year (and a bit!) with your comments and encouragement. Little did I know when I began this what a wonderful world it would open up, and what lovely people I'd meet along the way. Long may it continue for us all.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Belated Bloggerversary - and blog candy!

(This candy is now closed)

This past year has been quite an eventful one for me, for various reasons, and it seems to have flown by. Thus the anniversary of the starting of my blog, in October 2008, passed unnoticed! Not to worry, though, I can celebrate it now! To do so, and to say a huge thank you to all the lovely people who have followed the blog, left supportive comments, and generally made life in Blogland such a pleasure, I'm giving away some blog candy.

It includes unmounted stamps from Crafty Individuals and Joanna Sheen, a Crafty Individuals "Christmas" Miniatures book, Christmas stickers, paper flowers, Craftwork Cards button messages, Woodware Tag Board Book, a Memento Tuxedo Black Dew Drop inkpad, a photo frame (to alter??) and a hand made notebook.

To win all of those, just leave me a comment. If you also become (or are already) a follower, that will give you a second entry. Linking to this post from your own blog, if you have one, will gain you a third entry. (ie. Comment = 1 chance, comment+follower = 2 chances, comment+follower+link= 3 chances.) I will post the candy to anywhere in the world. The closing date will be Monday the 7th December, and a winner will be drawn randomly soon after then, so don't forget to check back & see if it's you!

Thanks again to everyone for your support and friendship, it is much appreciated.

Paper Roses

Yes, I know, I should be making Christmas cards, but after seeing Brenda demonstrate her beautiful paper roses at the Sir Stampalot Demo Day on Saturday, I just had to have a go at making some for myself. I bought the required 1" flower punch at the demo, and made a couple with that. Then I remembered that I already had the matching tiny one, so I made a tiny rose too.

I couldn't resist buying another Sarah Kay stamp, and thought that she and the roses would go well together. The tiny rose became a perfect decoration for her hat. She seemed to be looking for something, and just then a butterfly alighted close by. I coloured Sarah and the butterfly with Promarkers. A few leaves and star flowers completed the picture. The background paper is by Papermania, and the butterfly is from Craftwork Cards.

Anyway, must go. Got an owl to shrink......

Saturday, 5 December 2009

A great day out

Well, Sally and I had a brilliant time at the Sir Stampalot Demo Day. There were seven very talented ladies demonstrating various techniques, including our dear blog friend Brenda. It was so lovely to meet her face to face and have a chat. Brenda was showing us how to make the most beautiful paper roses, using punches. Have a look at the gorgeous samples on her blog, though I have to say the photos most certainly don't do them justice.

After watching the demos, we went round the shop for some much needed retail therapy. Twice. I'm sure we can't be the only ones who, having paid for our purchases, can't leave a shop without just one more look round! Talking on the way home, Sally and I agreed that we had come away with more inspiration from that one event than from all of the past few big shows we've been to put together. So I'd just like to say to Brenda, thanks so much for the warm welcome you gave us, and we'll definitely be back again for the next Demo Day.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Oldie but Goodie

It's great to learn new techniques, and I am always on the lookout for new things to try, but sometimes it's good to revisit the old ones. I quite often go back to shaving foam marbling, simply because the results are good, and it's such fun to do. I like shaving foam particularly as a marbling medium because it is possible to have some control over your finished pattern. What you see in the tray is what you will get on your paper.

Thus, in the easel card shown here, I was able to make a landscape effect with more blue at the top and more brown at the bottom. The larger trees are from Clarity Stamp, and the deer and tiny trees in the background are by Stampscapes. The greeting is Inkadinkado. On the angel card I used a panel of marbled paper as a feature, stamped with  a Stampington stamp. The sentiment is also by Stampington. The angel is from the "Christmas" miniatures book by Crafty Individuals.

For the holly card, I revisited not only an old technique, but also an old stamp! It's from The Stamp Man. Having stamped it on the marbled paper, I embossed it with sparkle embossing powder & then coloured the leaves and berries with Promarkers to make them stand out more. I mounted it at an angle over a piece of printed paper. The message button is from Craftwork Cards.

The final card is very simple, just four squares of card, three stamped with a snowflake (Stampington), the other holding a Craftwork Cards message button, and strips of silver ribbon to finish it off.

Well, it was fun to go back to the marbling, but tomorrow Sally and I are off to the Open Day at Sir Stampalot, looking forward to seeing what's new, & also meeting Brenda. Can't wait....

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Fab Stamp Man Blog Candy!

Jill at The Stamp Man is giving away some fantastic blog candy! The prize will be a choice from 3 of Kay Carley's recent designs, the gorgeous Aspects of Design Funky Flowers, Funky Frames, or Fancy Flourishes. Nip over to Jill's blog to stake your claim. These really are beautiful quality stamps (they're all on my Christmas wish list!) and Jill has some lovely samples using them on the blog. The closing date for the candy is midday on Tuesday, 15th December.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Quick Tip

I'm sure I'm not the first person to have thought of this, but just in case anyone else hasn't, I thought I'd share it. I needed a black brad & didn't have one. So I tried colouring a different one with a black Promarker. It needed a few coats, but I was amazed at how well it worked. So now I won't have to buy lots of different coloured brads. Obviously for pale colours I'd need a white or very light coloured one to start with, but I can just colour one whenever I need it with whatever colour I'm using on my project & it will match perfectly. :-)

Monday, 16 November 2009

How many days until Christmas.....?

Another card made with the Brilliance Ink background. The flower stamp is from the Aspects of Design sheet "Summer Flowers", by The Stamp Man, (currently on sale at half price while stocks last!) and the sentiment is by Crafty Individuals. I used my Nestabilities and Cuttlebug to cut the circles and the label and punched a few flowers out of the leftover Brilliance-inked background paper.

Now I really should make some Christmas cards......

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Ideas from The Stamp Man

I managed to catch The Stamp Man's recent show on Create and Craft, and really liked Jill's ideas for making backgrounds with Brilliance inks. She put the inks on to a craft sheet, sprayed them with water and then laid her paper on top to pick up the ink. It gave a lovely, shimmery, watercolour effect. The link above is to Jill's blog, where she explains how to do it. I've had Brilliance inkpads for years and never thought of using them in this way. Of course, I had to try it out, and here are the first two cards I've made.

I wanted a marble effect for the Roman gods, so I used starlight black, galaxy gold and moonlight white Brilliance inks. I inked up two pieces of paper. The first one took up some of the ink, then I picked up what was left with the second piece which gave it a lighter coverage. I used that piece for the background and stamped and clear embossed the image on the first piece.

For the second card I used pearlescent sky blue, pearlescent purple and pearlescent orchid. All stamps are Aspects of Design by The Stamp Man, except for the sentiment, which I think is by Papermania. Border punch is by Martha Stewart.

Saturday, 7 November 2009


Taking the colour removal technique a step further, I made this.

Using encaustic art card, the background was sponged with Distress inks, then the honesty seed pods were stamped in black and clear-embossed. I was thus able to remove the colour from them using a damp paintbrush without the water overflowing on to the rest of the background. I did the same for the campion flower near the centre, but having removed the background colour I then painted the flower with Distress inks. The remaining elements were simply stamped with Versamagic inks.

The picture was mounted on to an 8" x 8" card from Craftwork Cards, from where also came the background paper and the butterfly greeting. The butterfly was coloured with a Promarker. All stamps are Elusive Images from Graphicus, except for the trees in the background. The tiny fir trees are by Stampscapes, and the other tree is from Lavinia Stamps.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Bowing to the inevitable

Well, I've been a bit out of touch lately, having been away for the best part of two weeks, so I decided that now I'm back I'd better show willing & get on with some Christmas cards. I really don't know why the prospect doesn't fill me with enthusiasm. Maybe it's because I'd rather not start thinking of Christmas before December and then don't have enough time to spend on them and end up with rushed designs that I'm not happy with.

However, whatever the reason, I've managed to make a start. I've continued with the colour removal technique using Distress Inks as in my recent posts, with brass stencils this time to produce the backgrounds.

The teddy & cat stamp was free with a magazine, so I thought I might as well try it. It's a bit too cute for my liking, but that's okay because I won't be sending it to myself. I cut it out with one of my new Nestabilities Labels 8 set and coloured it with Promarkers. I wanted a border around it, but the next size up Nestie was too big, so I went around the edge with a Promarker instead. The greeting is from Craftwork Cards. The snowflake stencil was also a magazine freebie.

The poinsettia on the second card is made from a couple of Craftwork Cards flowers, originally white but coloured with Promarkers. Likewise the greeting. I couldn't avoid the gold lettering with the Promarker, but I found that I could remove the ink from it afterwards with the Promarker blender pen.The all-over holly stencil is one I've had for several years, and I'm afraid I can't remember where it was from. The scalloped border around the Cuttlebug-embossed circle, and the outer red border, were coloured with Promarkers to match the flower. Can you guess I'm really into Promarkers at the moment?! I love being able to co-ordinate everything with them. I nearly got carried away and coloured some ribbon to match as well, but then I found some paper lace hiding at the back of a drawer and decided to use that instead. Of course, I could have coloured that too, but I thought I'd leave it as it was to go with the white circle.

Well, that's two done. I feel better now!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Promises To Keep

On my blog header it says "Crafts, photography, music and life in general." I've mentioned my crafts and photography, and the occasional snippet about life, but some might have wondered where the music came into it. Well, it hasn't, until now! My day job is primary school music specialist. My main instrument is the piano, but my favourite one is my bowed psaltery. I guess some of you reading this will now be saying "your what?" I'd never heard of it either until about 15 years ago when I met the wonderful Tony Westran at a craft fair. (Also see Tony's blog.) At the time he was making and selling all kinds of early and unusual musical instruments. I got talking to him and he let me try playing the bowed psaltery. I'd never heard anything like it before and I was totally captivated by its beautiful sound. There was no way I was leaving his stall without taking one home with me.

Anyway, here's a picture of it. It has 32 steel strings and is played with a curved bow. The history of the bowed psaltery is questionable, but it is probably descended from the plucked psaltery of medieval times. I wanted to be able to play authentic music on it, but it was difficult to find any. Eventually I decided to play whatever sounded good on it, and also to compose my own music for it. In 1997 I achieved one of my life's ambitions and made a professional recording, entitled "Promises To Keep". It has 12 tracks, eight being my original compositions, and the other four my own arrangements of traditional folk songs. My electronic keyboard provides the accompaniment.

It is hard to describe the sound of the bowed psaltery. It seems that people either love it or hate it! I reckon the split is 95%/5%, in favour of the former. Those who love the sound commonly describe it as relaxing to listen to, which I would concur with. I haven't mentioned it before because I haven't had the means to link to a sound file on my blog, but now I have! Clicking on the link on my sidebar (fingers crossed that it works!) will take you to my Windows Live Skydrive page, where you will find some sample tracks from my CD which you can download and listen to. I'd love to know what people think of the sound, for or against! If anyone is interested in knowing more about the CD, please contact me via my profile.

Copyright note: I just need to point out that I hold the copyright for all tracks. I will be delighted if anyone wishes to download the sample tracks for their own enjoyment. However, please do not re-distribute them in any way (pass on the link to my blog instead) and please do not add them to any other internet site. If you should wish to use them other than for the circumstance described above, please contact me and permission may well be forthcoming! Thank you for respecting this.

Monday, 12 October 2009


I'm still intrigued by the notion that it's possible to create interesting backgrounds by taking colour off rather than putting it on. This time, using the same materials as in my previous post, (Distress Inks and encaustic art card) I wanted to see whether I could make a pattern with the Victoria Cuttlebug embossing folder. I inked up the card as before, and then lightly sprayed the open Victoria folder with plain water on the side with the raised (as opposed to indented) pattern. Then I laid the inked side of the card over the wet side of the folder, closed up the folder, gently smoothed it over and straightaway removed the card before it got too wet. NB. I didn't put it through the Cuttlebug! I blotted it with a piece of kitchen roll and was pleased to see that the pattern had transferred to the card pretty well.

From the patterned card I cut and embossed a Nesties Labels 2. I wanted to put a border around it, but the next size up would have made one too wide. So I coloured around the edge, following the embossed line, with a Promarker instead. Because the lighter areas of the pattern showed through, it gave the effect of a shadow. To complete the card I added a panel of white card embossed with the Victoria folder in the usual way, a few Prima flowers and punched leaves and some sheer ribbon. The sentiment is by Penny Black.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Autumn colours

My favourite season of the year is spring, when everything is bright and fresh and new. I don't like the dark mornings and evenings of the late autumn and winter, or the dull days. Having said all that, though, I do enjoy the colours of autumn. I am lucky to live in an area with lots of trees, and they are now changing their hues. I can sit at my desk and look at them through the window. Across the road from our house are some beautiful old elms, and the wind this afternoon brought the leaves swirling down like snow. We have a small forsythia bush in the front garden, and just now it is looking quite spectacular.

I wanted to capture the autumn colours in a card, and at the same time try out a technique I saw in the wonderful StampARTic Blog. It used foam stamps to take away colour from a Distress Inked background. The foam stamps were simply sprayed with water and stamped on to the background. Unfortunately I don't have any foam stamps. I do, however, have stencils and sponges. I figured that I might get a similar effect by stencilling with a damp sponge, and it worked! First I tried it on plain card, and it was not bad, but the best result was using encaustic art card, which is semi-gloss. The Distress Inks stay wetter on it for longer and can be blended more easily. Having made the background I then taped a stencil to it and sponged it with clean water.

My first attempt was not very good, as I had the sponge too wet and the water seeped under the stencil. Having the sponge just slightly damp was much better. I also found that I didn't need as much water as I thought anyway, because the colour faded even more as it dried. Another advantage of the encaustic art card is that the water doesn't bleed into it as much as with plain card, so the image stays sharper.

I used a stencil by The Crafter's Workshop, called "Windsong," which I thought was really quite appropriate. It reminds me of leaves being blown about in the wind, just perfect for this card. The tree and leaf stamps are Elusive Images from Graphicus, and the word is by Hero Arts. I really like this stencil technique, and I'll be doing more of it.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Metal embellishments

Some years ago I bought some art metal. At the time it was being used mainly for embossing, by stamping or tracing on to it and then marking out the image with various tools & cutting it out with scissors. I wasn't impressed with the results, & the remainder of the pack has been languishing in a cupboard ever since. Until now!

Now there is the Cuttlebug! I found I could cut the metal with dies, eg. Nestabilities or Cuttlebug, and emboss it with the Cuttlebug embossing folders. And then colour it beautifully with alcohol inks or Promarkers. Voila!

The butterfly was cut with a Cuttlebug die, embossed with a Cuttlebug folder, and then coloured with alcohol inks. The patterned paper is My Mind's Eye, and the plain paper I have had for so long I can't remember where I got it!

The metal used for the swirl background on the lady card was gold coloured. I embossed it with the Cuttlebug D'vine swirls folder and then carefully inked over it with Brilliance Graphite Black ink, which I then heat set. So long as you do not press on too hard with the inkpad, the recessed swirls do not take the ink. The lady and wording stamps are from Hero Arts. I've had them for years, but they just seemed to fit with the swirl panel. The flourish is by Stampington.

So I have managed to use up some more old stash!

On the second butterfly card, I did even better. The butterfly is cut from a foil yoghurt pot lid, so it was free! The foil has a lovely texture and takes the alcohol inks very well. The inside foil cover found on some brands of margarine also works well. The new Cuttlebug Victoria folder provided a background for this card. The agapanthus stamp is by Stampendous, and the Birthday circles on both butterfly cards are from Craftwork Cards. The base card is pearlescent and it was quite difficult to photograph, but if you click on it to get the larger version, I think the detail will show up better.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

More from Harrogate

One of the stands on our "must visit" list at the Harrogate show was of course that of Craftwork Cards. They had plenty of new goodies on display. I bought some papers, including some glitter-infused in gorgeous colours which will be great for Christmas cards. Also got some messages and embellishments in various shapes. And I couldn't resist some of the "Colour- me" ovals and butterflies. They also had some yummy new colour combinations of Card Candy, one pack of which (red, purple & lilac) inspired this card.

The Card Candy just happened to co-ordinate exactly with some Crafty Individuals background paper (from their Background Papers Book 1). I coloured the "Colour-Me" owls to match with Promarkers. The scallop border around the message is a bit of the glitter paper. Unfortunately, you don't see the effect very well in the photo, but it really is pretty. The stamped fleur de lys inner border is from a set of Just Rite stamps. I've only recently discovered these stamps, and bought the set at Harrogate, from Once Upon A Stamp. They work really well with Nestabilities, and the 1 & 5/8ths inch size fits beautifully round the Craftwork Cards in-circle messages. A silver peel off border around the background paper put the finishing touch to the card.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Another Secret Garden

I think the "Secret Garden" from Lavinia Stamps is my favourite stamp of the moment. Anything could be behind that gate! It's full of dreams and possibilities.

For this card I left out the fairy and used part of "Tree Trunk Trio" from Stampscapes on the left hand side. The trunks didn't reach the top of the picture, so I extended them with a black fine tip drawing pen. The leaves and other foliage stamps, and the toadstools are all Lavinia's. I used watercolour pencils to shade in the gateway and the background. It's probably a bit hard to see them in the photo (though they show up better if you click on it to see the big picture), but there's a Stampscapes deer and fir trees behind the gate.

And who knows what else you might find if you could enter therein......

Monday, 14 September 2009

Second childhood?!

Here are a couple of cards made with some of my new stash from Harrogate. Anyone who has read previous posts will know that I don't do cute. I must admit, however, that I do have a liking for fairies. Probably for the same reason that I like butterflies - they are such beautiful, ethereal creatures. A favourite book from my childhood, one which I still have (it's older than me!), is called "Once Upon A Birthday".

It tells the story of two children, a boy and a girl, who meet in Fairyland having been taken there magically to celebrate their respective birthdays. I loved it because it's full of gorgeous, colourful pictures of fairies. They have lots of exciting adventures in Fairyland, and in the end the little girl, once back home, gets a fairy outfit complete with wings for a birthday present, something I always wanted (particularly the wings!) but sadly never received!

Some time ago, at school, we had a reading week when staff were asked to take in a favourite book from their youth to read to a class. I took my fairy book, of course, interested to see what modern, worldly wise children, aged 5 to 7, raised on computer games and TV, would make of it. The story is strongly moralistic (eg. in one chapter a little fairy sulks because she lost a race in the school games, and her punishment is to come last in every game until she has learned her lesson, which she duly does) and quite politically incorrect. I was surprised, not to say delighted, that without exception they loved it. And, even more surprising, the boys did as much as the girls!

So what started this train of thought? New fairies from Lavinia Stamps! Lavinia Stamps are designed by Tracey Dutton, and her stand at the shows is always full of beautiful samples which are treats for the eyes. I was really taken with one card in particular. Check out her Gallery and you'll see it. This is my attempt to recreate it. I bought the Fairy, Vine & Secret Garden stamps at the show, and then filled in with others I already had, all Lavinia except for the trees on the left, which are by Innovative Stamp Creations. I would have bought the Lavinia Tree Root stamp also, but I'd run out of money by then, so I had to make do. I liked this fairy because she isn't too cute, and I love the air of mystery and magic about the "Secret Garden".

Still on the childhood theme, I couldn't resist these miniatures from
Clarity Stamp. I found the pretty ribbon at Harrogate too, but I'm pleased to say that all other materials on this card are old stash!

(The background paper, by Papermania, doesn't show up very well in the small photo - click on it to see the detail in the big one.)

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Harrogate there we came!

Well, what a brilliant day we've just had. Sally & I had been saving ourselves up all year for the Great Northern Papercrafts Extravaganza in Harrogate. Usually we go to the Whichcraft show in Doncaster twice a year, but this year we decided to give Doncaster a miss, save up our money & give Harrogate a try instead, so we were very much ready for some retail therapy. The weather was perfect, we found just about everything we'd been looking for, and even met some of our blogging friends for the first time, which was lovely. Great to see them and put names to faces at last. Then we had a picnic outside in the fresh air to round it all off. Now I'm sorting out my new stash & looking forward to playing with it all tomorrow.

On the other hand, there's still a while before bedtime......

PS. Check out some fantastic blog candy from The Stampman (see my sidebar), but be quick, the draw closes at midnight on Monday the 14th!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Best laid plans....

Well, at my last post there were still three weeks left of the school hols. Now we've been back at school nearly a week, and I don't know where the last month has gone. Not to plan, that's for sure. Various things conspired to keep me from doing all that I wanted to, and the only crafting I did was to help my four year old grandson make birthday cards for his mum & dad. And a good job he made of them too!

A major problem was that my old laptop began to malfunction so much that it is not really safe to use now, and I had to get a new one. Not that I'm complaining about that! The new one is great, but of course I have had to spend a lot of time getting to know it & transferring everything from the old one.

However, it is now up and running, and I have managed to make two cards this week. Just as well, seeing as I will be restarting my card class tomorrow, after the summer break!

The first card was a belated one for a friend & I didn't have time to stop & photograph it. For the class I decided to have a go at a tri-shutter card, as illustrated on the Splitcoast Stampers website. It's one of those things which looks very impressive but is in fact quite easy to make (fortunately!). I am still trying to use up stuff from my stash, ahead of a trip to the Great Northern Papercrafts Extravaganza in Harrogate this coming weekend, and mostly succeeded on this card. The background paper I've had for years. It's by Provo Craft, from long before the Cuttlebug came on the scene! Sally & I have been very good, & haven't been to any other shows this year. (Well, ok, I went to a teeny tiny one in Nottingham several months back & hardly bought anything much, so I'm not really counting that.) We've been saving ourselves for Harrogate. The thing is, having just bought the laptop, I'm going to have to be very careful about how much I spend there....

Monday, 10 August 2009

Halfway through the holidays

We've just had a lovely few days in Dumfries & Galloway, in spite of the rain, visiting places we hadn't been to before. On one day we followed the Galloway Kite Trail around Loch Ken. The trail was formed after the successful re-introduction of red kites to the area. The highlight of the day was seeing 50+ red kites descend on the feeding station at Bellymack Hill Farm. Food is put out there at 2pm every day, but the birds start to arrive before then. Wonder how they know what time it is! It was an amazing sight. Just a pity the weather wasn't better. Note the Scotch mist in the background of the photo! The rain was blowing straight into the hide from where we were watching, and I could only hope my camera would survive the soaking. (So far so good!)

It's always great to get away for a while, but withdrawal symptoms soon set in, so back to the crafting! My first task when I got home was to make a wedding anniversary card for my daughter and son-in-law. It's their 8th this year, traditionally bronze & pottery. I'd been waiting for an opportunity to use a gorgeous background by Lesley Wharton, aka The Paper Engineer, which she generously gave away as a freebie on her blog. The colours seemed just right for the occasion, and it didn't need any more than a few Prima flowers and an image from Crafty Individuals to complete the design.

I'm still trying to use up my existing stash, rather than buying new stuff. It's not working 100%, but I am definitely buying less new and using more old, so I'm considering that a success! I've had some gorgeous Daisy D's papers for ages and have kept getting them out to look at from time to time. They are lovely quality and the most sumptuous colours and designs. Believe me, making the first cut into them was not easy, but I managed it. There are several sheets of each double-sided design in the pack, and so I have decided that if I keep one of each, using the rest should be quite painless. As with the previous card, the papers needed little embellishment. I used three different papers for the background, dividing them with narrow gold peeloffs, and a fourth for the scalloped circle around the greeting. The Spellbinders ribbon tag was made from the reverse side of the scalloped circle paper. Of course, all the papers co-ordinate beautifully. A couple of Prima flowers, and a Craftwork Cards Circle Message finished it off.

Only three more weeks of the hols left.....

Circle of Friends

I have received another Circle of Friends Award, this time from Sally, and I'm thrilled. One of the joys of blogging, for me, is that it has opened up a new world and introduced me to lovely people with whom I might never otherwise have come into contact. We may never meet face to face, but their thoughts and comments on my blog are always encouraging and much appreciated. And of course their blogs inspire me too. So I am proud to call them friends.

Here's the award, which I would like to pass on to the following friends:

Sally H

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

What barbecue summer?

I've been up in Dumfriesshire for a few days, staying with my daughter and family. It's been raining most of the week, but we did manage to get out between the showers. Not looking forward to the drive home tomorrow - heavy rain is forecast all the way. Just had a ray of sunshine, though, in the form of a Circle of Friends blog award from Judith. Thanks, Judith, it's much appreciated and really did brighten my day.

I'd like to pass it on to the following people, all great blog friends. Please display it with pride on your blogs!

Sally H

Monday, 20 July 2009

More non-card stuff

My mission for the summer holidays is to start getting some of my stash used - the impulse buys that I liked the look of when I bought them without any clear idea of what I would do with them, and which have since been languishing in the cupboard. One such item was a little Maya Road chipboard album. It consisted of six identical chipboard shapes, and rather than make just one album with them, I used two of the shapes to make the covers, and then cut some pages with my Nestabilities Scalloped Squares (which luckily happened to be just the right size!).

I sponged the covers with pigment ink and then stamped them with a Stamping-ton flourish and Stampendous butterflies, completing the front with a Spellbinders Ribbon Tag and a couple of flourishes diecut from Grungepaper. I punched some butterflies and a flower from the grungepaper to make charms to add to the ribbons and fibres with which I decorated the bookring holding everything together.

The photos inside are of my grandparents and great grandparents.

Saturday, 18 July 2009


Well, as of today I have six weeks of school holidays to look forward to, and I am certainly ready for the rest! My card class is also taking a break until September, and since I don't have to make any card samples for a while I thought I might take the opportunity to explore other things. To that end, I have at last got my hands on some grunge paper.

It's strange stuff, with an almost suede-like finish. The smell when it first comes out of the packet is a bit offputting, but that does fade after a while (or maybe I just got used to it!). It punches nicely (need to use a sturdy punch) and also goes through the Cuttlebug. I punched a few flowers and leaves to begin with and coloured them with Distress inks. Then I decided to make a picture frame to stick them on. I used my Nestabilities to cut the frame. The grungepaper is very flexible, so I backed it with a piece of stiff card. Here it is with one of my butterfly photos.

Now to see what else I can do with it....

Monday, 13 July 2009

Butterflies 2

As I said in my previous post, the dearth of butterflies in our garden has prompted me to put some on my cards instead.

A fairly simple one to begin with. I didn't want too much to detract from the main image, which is an old Penny Black stamp from 1999, but still one of my favourites. I coloured it with Promarkers (my first attempt with them!)

This one uses an Inkadinkadoo stamp. The butterfly is diecut & mounted with the Cuttlebug, with my Martha Stewart punch for the borders.

Next a set of four Hero Arts patterned butterflies, stamped over My Mind's Eye papers.

Another criss-cross card, using papers from the Butterfly Bliss CD from Graphicus. The stamps are Elusive Images, also from Graphicus, except for the sentiment which is by Rubber Stamp Tapestry. The white butterfly, which appears when the insert is removed, is punched.

Finally, a mini landscape card. I cut a square mask, along with a few butterflies, and then sponged over them with pigment inks to make a background, adding the stamped images (Elusive Images) after removing the butterflies but before removing the square. The result was then cut out and embossed on the Cuttlebug, before being mounted on to a card stamped with more Elusive Images (from the Wild Meadow set). Of the five, I think this is my favourite. I may not have many butterflies in my garden these days, but they'll never be far away from my cards!

Sunday, 12 July 2009


The buddleia bushes in our garden are in full bloom just now. We have three, two blue and one white. Until a few years ago, once the flowers opened they would be covered in butterflies, of many different types: small tortoiseshells, peacocks, painted ladies, red admirals, various whites, commas, gatekeepers and more. To see twenty or thirty at a time was not unusual. One year we counted 14 different species over the summer. For the past few years, however, there have been few. Loss of habitat and poor summers have contributed to the decline, which is a great shame.

Here are some photos I've taken in the garden in previous years.

Small Tortoise - shell.


Painted Lady

Painted Lady, underside.

I love to see butterflies. I think most people do. I guess it's partly because they are so pretty and colourful, but I also wonder if it's because they remind one of fairies. As a child I loved the Flower Fairy books by Cicely Mary Barker (ok, I'll admit it, still do and I bet I'm not the only one!). I'm sure it's no coincidence that she painted her fairies with butterfly wings. Some of them are even copies of real butterflies.

Because there are no butterflies on our buddleias, I've put some on my cards instead. (See next post!)
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