Friday, 29 August 2008

Q & A part 2

OK, I must be in a sharing mood these last few days. I came across some more questions on Craftside's blog and had to answer them 'cos the prize is a book from Quayside Publishing Group's Craft titles. So I will share my answers here too.

1. What is your favorite CRAFT book? At the moment, '1000 Artist Journal Pages' by Dawn DeVries Sokol.

1.A. What is it about that book that makes you love it so much? I am new to journals and love the pictures and inspiration on each page.

2. What is your favorite NON-CRAFT book? The Jason Voyage by Tim Severin.

3. What is your current project? Making greetings cards for various birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas.

4. What "craft/technique" is next on your list of "to-do's". Faux batik.

5. What do you make to give as gifts? Bags, bookmarks, polymer clay ornaments, jewellery, cross-stitch pictures, paintings and drawings.

6. What do you make for yourself? Same as above plus cardboard boxes for storing pretty, little things.

7. What is your favorite place to get inspiration? Outside in nature.

8. Do you make your own greeting/holiday cards? Always.

9. What is your favorite thing that inspires you? Nature.

10. What music are you listening to now? None.

11. What holiday do you craft mostly for? Christmas.

12. What topic/technique would you like to have a book on? Marbling.

13. Who in the crafting world inspires you most? Cindy Lyles at Starlit Studio. She makes wonderful cards and notebooks.

14. Taken from Ravelry, What is your favorite curse word? (just cause I love this question!) I can't repeat it. ;o)

Craftside's blog is great for getting the lowdown on recently published and older craftbooks. I find myself clicking links that people recommend so often that I have added it to my feeds. That way I can see updates and not forget. It is worth taking a look if you are a craftbook-aholic.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Q & A

Marilyn at The Creative Wabbit tagged herself today with a selection of questions and I felt inspired to give them a go myself.

What was I doing ten years ago?
Ten years ago is a long time back. I'm not sure I can remember so I will have to look up my diary. Ah, yes, I was working for a figurine company painting cute cats and bears for a living. It was really nice work but the pay was awful. I had just started studying with the Open University. I found my first white hair (yes, I put an entry about it in my diary. I was 25 and most 'put out' about it.) I was also a massive rugby fan going to as many matches as I possibly could.

List five things on today's to-so list.
Make a birthday card for my Gran's 89th birthday.
Wrap birthday presents.
Try out new rubber stamps.
Walk to the post box to post a letter.
Make Italian style tomato sauce and freeze some for later.

List five favorite snacks.
Mixed pickles and olives - either together or separately
Chocolate, particularly anything with caramel or praline in it
Mushrooms - technically not a snack but I will eat mushrooms anytime.
Bakewell tarts (individual ones) - little pastry cups filled with almond sponge and jam (jelly), topped with fondant icing and a cherry.

Things I'd do if I was a billionaire.
Open my own animal shelter. Animal cruelty sickens me and I am sorry to say that there is a huge increase in it in the UK. Cats are being shot by people with air rifles (like bee-bee guns), horses mutilated in their fields, dogs starved to death or flung in rives to drown just because their owners can't be bothered to look after them. There is an ancient Indian saying that states you can tell the character of a person by the way they treat animals.

Contribute to museums in the UK, especially the British Museum - my home from home. I have had a great deal of enjoyment from museums in my life and I would like to contribute to keeping items of interest in the UK. Unfortunately museums are also buying a lot of tat because they feel they should be adding contemporary items to their collections. Mmmmm. All over the world museums have basements stacked full with artifacts that never see the light of day. They need to be studied!

Contribute some way to help homeless people. I would say 'a soup kitchen' but soup kitchens are being closed down all over the place here in the UK. I am not very sure why though. There are alot of excuses but I think the crux of the matter is that many people feel homeless people are to blame for their own situations. I am not one of them. Sometimes people need and want a little aid just to survive the horrible situations life send them. There are huge numbers of empty buildings in towns and cities that could be put to better use, not only for the homeless but youngsters too. I'm going to stop now as it is starting to sound like another rant.

List five places I've lived.
Kilmarnock - west coast of Scotland
Verwood - south coast of England
Bo'ness - central Scotland, west of Edinburgh (least said, soonest mended - scary place!)
London - well, London, a wonderful place, full of life and adventure, whatever your style.
Scottish Borders - south of Scotland

List some people I'd like to know more about.
Anyone who wants to share a little of themselves with me. I love to hear about their differences and their similarities to me. Anyone prepared to accept me as I am and not criticise me for not being like them. That makes me mad.

If you want to give these questions a shot - go for it!

Rubber fetish

I have been buying rubber stamps this week. I discovered a new UK based stamp company that really gives some of the US based companies a run for their money. Crafty Individuals has some wonderful things for sale. Stamps, collage sheets, acetates and they even sent me a sheet of freebie stamps with my first order too. They have many nature themed stamps which is why I was drawn to them - birds, butterflies, flowers, trees, even rabbits. So, I had to have some. I bought a set of four bird stamps (seen on the very pink card and the square sample stampings) and the one with the rabbit (on the ATC). I am awaiting delivery of a collage sheet and a book of papers because the colours just looked so wonderful on the web site. Another order is imminent.

The yellow card shows some of the 'cheap' rubber stamps that I bought. They are made by a company called Studio G and cost £1 for a small sheet of cute little images - swirls, flowers, alphabets, etc. Some of the swirls from one of the swirly sheets are on the pink card, flowers on the yellow card.

I also bought a sheet of Paper Artsy 'Ink and the Dog' background stamps. No dogs involved though. They consist of a script, numbers and a strange, blobby, squarish thing. They will be great for making background papers.
The Halloween ATC is the one I mentioned last post.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Bee-n buzy

Lots of inchies today. In fact I have made even more than the ones here but I forgot to photograph them before I sent them out. Others are still partially done. I bought some rally nice download format collage images this week from an Etsy store, Piddix. I came across her shop by chance. I was looking for some egg collage sheets (which Corrina has) but she also has lots of animal based designs. Beautiful doggy squares, jewel like insects, woodblock designs and bird and nature themes. Yummi-yumminess. So I am in the middle of using some of them but I am rapidly running out of printer ink.

I also have some ATCs in the pipeline. I took some photos of a local big house. It is a listed building but is falling into disrepair. Owls and bats live in it and plants and bushes grow from the inside out. Wonderfully atmospheric though. I played with the photo in my photo editing programme and came up with a rather nice spooky image. One of the ATC swaps I have signed up for is Gothic Halloween and it will make a wonderful focal image. The sepia coloured papers shown here are for the base of the ATCs. I am just waiting for some new brads to finish them off then I will post pictures.

My bee ATC here uses some of my hand carved stamps. I am rather fond of bees and cannot find a really nice, realistic bee stamp so my own will have to do for now. (If you have any suggestions for realistic style bee stamps please do leave me a comment letting me know who makes them. All help gratefully received ;o)) The little box is a simple pillow box made from some hand painted watercolour paper and wrapped with fibres.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008


Here are some of the bookmarks I have made with the supplies I got this week. I just love those charms.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Coloured pencils waxing lyrical

For those of you who have been following my progress with my pet portraiture course I thought I would update you. I have been working with coloured pencils for this part of the course. Who would have thought a common or garden pencil would turn out to be so difficult to use. But then the point of this exercises is to push myself into new areas and learn new skills. Coloured pencils seem to be a little tricky. They need to be layered to produce many of the colours and textured needed. Unfortunately there is a problem with wax build up if you use too many layers. Argh! Once the wax has 'built up' it is much more difficult to apply more layers or detail on top. This is the problem I have hit right now. The question is 'how do you build up colour without getting wax build up?' Much more practice will be needed with them. Meantime I am taking a break from them to try pastels.

The pictures here are some of the colour pencil pieces I have been trying to create. The kestrel was done on NOT watercolour paper (big mistake - too bumpy), the rabbit was my first, experimental piece. He looks like he has just had a trip to the hairdresser and has come out with puffy fur. The dog is my work in progress. The fur is improving but the wax build up in the lower left quadrant is the problem I mentioned above. I guess I can only improve with time.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Claudio Gil

I love calligraphy. Over the years I have done a little here, a little there. Sometimes decorative, sometimes practical. Some of the work I have seen by other calligraphers is so stunning it defies words. But this guy beats 'em all. Claudio Gil. If you are interested take a look at his blog: I came across his work by chance. Chrysti at Art by Chrysti did a post about a new book, 1000 Artist Journal Pages, and I looked it up on Taking a look through the book on their online reader I saw his pages and was blown away. His blog has links to sketchbooks and videos. I will be treking his blog for some time, I feel.

Charmed, I'm sure

I am on a charm kick. No, I am not trying to be more charming (no comments, please). I have been buying charms. Way too many charms. One might say I have gone on a charm offensive. I have seen so many beautiful charms on blogs by US crafters and I have been so inspired by their uses. But we just do not have the same choice over here. Luckily I have found a few individuals on Ebay who are starting to buy in more adventurous ones and, boy, have I been shopping up a storm. There are just a few of the ones I have bought so far. Note the emphasis on animal charms. I can't help myself. The bees and the tigers are particularly lovely. I am awaiting delivery of some more.

I also found some fantastic shepherd's hook bookmarks. I have a few of the plain ones but these have embossed patterns on them. Really lovely - so I ordered some more of them too (GRIN). I feel some Christmas gift ideas coming on. No doubt you will see some of my creations as I get around to actually creating them.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Snail's pace

I am convinced that we will have an early autumn here. Fields round about are golden already so harvest will start soon. The autumn fruits are already well formed and will ripen soon. Some of them, like the rowan berries and some blackberries, are already ripe. Rowans are two to four weeks early in ripening this year when compared to the last three years. The swallow and house martins have started to congregate on the telegraph wires and from my window I have noticed a few yellowing leaves on the horse chestnut and beech trees. To top it off I received an e-mail from a bird tracking web site today that announced 'Autumn is here!'. Yippee!

With all the rain we have been having the snails in my garden have been having a rare time to themselves. There is hardly a plant left that has not been munched. My poor sunflowers look more like cloud-flowers, ragged and full of holes. So much for wanting to paint some stunning sunflowers like van Gogh. Still, at least I can sketch the snails. They really are the ideal life model. They move so slowly that I can draw them before they have time to change position.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Casting flowers

Prima flowers cost a fortune here. Even buying small amounts, e.g. 10 flowers for £1 (or $2). Maybe I am just tight fisted with my money but for tiny flowers made of paper I feel it is a bit expensive. I don't use them very often either but they are in vogue at the moment and they look nice on cute cards. So, what could I do about it? Thinking about what Prima flowers are (moulded paper flowers) I figured out a way to make my own. I had tried out some paper casting with toilet tissue recently (see the pictures of the decorative squares) and thought that it might be the way forward. Take a look here for some instructions on paper casting.

I used a Prima flower as a template and drew around it onto some tracing paper. I transferred the shape to some rubber (used for making hand carved stamps) and carved out the shape. As Prima flowers have rises and dips over their surface I took that into account and carved deeper areas near the tips of the petals. The deeper the dip the higher the rise on the final flower. I also carved from the tip of the petal towards the centre of the flower. That way the flowers look like they have veins due to the valleys created by the carving tool. Then I took some mulberry paper and used the paper casting technique to form the flower. Lay the paper flat over the carved rubber flower shape and use a stiff, damp brush to gently tap the paper into the mould. You don't have to worry about cutting the paper to shape, that happens once the shape has dried. I used three or four layers of mulberry paper to make my flowers. So far none of them have separated or fallen to pieces. Once dry just trim away the excess paper and, hey presto, a flower.