Friday, 30 November 2012

Lots of lovely buttons!

If you have read my previous post, you will know that I took part in a swap on UK Stampers organised by Galaxy Girl.  We made buttons out of clay (polymer, air-dried or whatever), some with holes and some without, and decorated them in different ways.  I found out too late that we were supposed to make 36 rather than the 6 that I had made, so I sent them in (with some embarrassment!), and these are what I received in return:

Wow!  What treasure!  Now I’m planning all sorts of projects to use them on.

I know Galaxy Girl’s buttons are ceramic, and Lottie made hers out of polymer clay.  It looks like Sam and Lynn (Rusticus) made theirs out of air-dried clay, like I did.  I’m not sure what Pat Beamont used, but I think it is probably polymer.  Galaxy Girl sent me a lovely ceramic bead as well, and I made a macramé bracelet with it, as you can see in the picture.

I'm sorry my photo isn't very good - my camera had trouble with the gorgeous shininess of Galaxy Girl's creations!

Button Swap

Galaxy Girl on UK Stampers organised a rather different swap for November.  We were to make 6 round buttons out of clay (polymer, air-dried or whatever), and decorate them with stamping, paint or whatever, and make half the number with holes (1 or 2) and half without.  This sounded very interesting and, from my point-of-view, achievable, so I decided to join in.

I tried polymer clay years and years ago, but I couldn’t condition it properly, because my hands are not strong enough, so the pieces I made had cracks in them.  In those days I had never heard of putting the clay through a pasta machine to soften it!  I also had serious trouble with the fumes, when I baked the clay.  It gave me terrible asthma, even with the fan on and the back door wide open, so the remaining clay went back into the packet and eventually, the bin.

This time I decided to try using air-drying clay.  I did a “make and take” at a craft show some time ago, coming home with a small textured butterfly charm that I just needed to let dry.  It seemed ok, so I decided to use the same method for my buttons.  I squished a lump of clay in my hands, until it was as smooth as I could make it, then rolled it out to roughly half an inch thick, laid it on an open embossing folder, rolled it to its finished thickness, peeled it off the folder, laid it flat-side down on the table and cut it into a round with a metal cutter.  At this point the edge looked really messy, with a “fringe” of fibres sticking out all round.  I thought this would leave me with a very difficult sanding job, so I tried pushing the fibres back into the clay, by nudging them with my fingernail, held vertically against the side of the button.  It worked, and I had very little sanding to do, once the buttons had dried (I left them for about 3 days).  The clay made an appalling mess of the cutter, and I had to keep washing it!  Yuk!!!!  I pierced holes in some of the buttons, as required for the swap, using my pokey tool.  I made the holes fairly large, hoping that jump-rings or bails would fit through them.

To decorate the buttons, I painted each one all over with the background colour (I used acrylic paint), let it dry thoroughly, then picked out the raised texture with a contrasting colour, using a tiny paintbrush.  (The metallic paints I used were from Ranger paint dabbers).  When the paint was thoroughly dry, I covered the top surface of each button entirely with Glossy Accents, starting with the dips first, then the outside edge, then filling in the rest, pricking any bubbles with a pin as I went along.  That was when things started to go wrong!!!  On some of the buttons, I must have put the GA too close to the edge or the holes, because it flowed off the edge of some and down the holes of others!  I tried to sort things out before the GA dried, but only succeeded in making a worse mess, so I just had to abandon some of the buttons.  When the GA was finally hard and clear (about 3-4 days), I painted a very thin coat of it on the backs and edges, to seal them.  The thick layer of GA on the front made a lovely effect as it dried.  It shrank down slightly in the dips, so you can feel the texture as well as see it.  Very nice!

These are my buttons in their “raw” state:

These are the 6 buttons that I sent for the swap:

And I used this button to make a necklace for my younger daughter:

I put the largest jump-ring I could find through the hole of the button, then through the hole of a spider charm, then round a length of thin chain.  I hope she will like it!

Having finished my 6 buttons, I waited for instructions for posting them off, and got on with the rest of my life.  Imagine my dismay, when one of the swap participants pointed out that the wording of the swap instructions meant we had to make 6 per person (ie 36!) and not just 6 altogether!  Oh dear!  Bearing in mind the 50% failure rate and the fact that I only have enough space to make 12 buttons at one time, I decided that there simply wasn’t enough time to make another 30, so I just sent in my 6 buttons and hoped no-one would mind too much.  Very embarrassing!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A Craft Stamper inspired card

I was intrigued by the background that Elaine Hughes made for her article in the August edition of the Craft Stamper magazine, and I decided to have a go with my promarkers.  This card is the result.

The fairy stamp and the sentiment are by Linda Mason of Personal Impressions, and the twigs are from one of my old Paper Artsy Hotpick sets.  The flowers were cut using my new Memory Box die called (I think!) “Winterberry” .  I slapped the flowers on to cover stamping “glitches”, and didn’t think to shape them!  All the stamping was done with black Memento, and the Promarkers I used were Cyan, Arctic Blue and Sky Blue.  I put Stickles on the wings.

Friday, 14 September 2012

First Time Stamp

This is the theme for the September ATC swap over on UK Stampers.  We were supposed to use stamps that we had never inked before, but that isn’t strictly possible for me, as I always try out any stamp immediately I get it.  I like to check whether its going to give a good image, whether I like it (or hate it!) and whether parts of it could be used for something else.  So for these ATCs, I decided to use stamps that I have never used on a project before.

Apart from the alphabet, all the stamps are freebies from Craft Stamper magazine.

I stamped the cockerel in black Memento and coloured it with Promarkers.  I hung the word part of the stamp off the edge of my acrylic block, and covered the words with paper while I inked it, but I still had to try 5 times to get a decent image without a ghost of the words!  I doubt if I shall use this stamp again, except for the tail feathers.  To cap it all, I dropped a Promarker on the card when everything was complete, so I had to put dots all over the background to hide the mistake.  Grrrrh!!

I don’t “do” cute, so the rabbit stamp will probably also never see ink again.  It is too small, so I cheated on the theme a bit and used my old alphabet stamps to fill in the space.  I used the Octopode castle stamp to make the bunting – another cheat, as I have used it this way before, but I have never used the stamp as a whole image.  I did the stamping with black Memento and coloured with Promarkers.

The “Visage” ATC is an extension of an experiment I have been doing, based on the “Art de Fleur” article by Helen Chilton, in the October issue of Craft Stamper.  After 1 utter failure, I managed to make 2 fairly successful tags, so I decided to use the technique on this ATC.  Helen's words “let the ink dry” led to hours of frustration and to finding out that Stazon is not permanent on top of my oil pastels!  The stamping wiped right off my first attempt!!  In trying to do the embossing, the card kept moving inside the folder, so the Stazon and the pastel transferred onto the plastic, which took a lot of cleaning.  I found it very difficult to do the partial embossing, as my Bigshot is electric, and I couldn’t stop it in the right place.  Frustration led me to putting the whole of the 2nd tag into my “wood-grain” embossing folder, which rubbed off almost all the Stazon!  Grrrrh again!!!!  And more cleaning!  The ATC was easier to make, being so much smaller, but the Bigshot still bent the edges, and I managed to mar the stamping slightly before I remembered my can of fixative spray.  When it came to the final embellishments, I don’t have any Fran-tage, so I dripped ink onto some silver-coloured mica flakes on my craft mat, mopped up the excess with kitchen towel, then zapped the flakes with my heat gun.  It worked quite well, as the ink stuck the flakes to the mat, and very few blew away.  I shall have to remember that trick!  I stuck the flakes onto the ATC with PVA glue.

As usual, getting the photo right was a nightmare, as the adjustments that suited the white ATCs didn’t suit the pink one.  The white is too green and the pink is too purple.  I suppose I should have photographed them separately, but everything is easier in hindsight, isn’t it?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Patchwork Clown Doll - a work in progress

I have been wanting to make a patchwork clown doll for ages, I don’t know why, but the idea just appealed to me.  As I haven’t done very much patchwork in the past, I didn’t really know where to start!  Luckily, we have a small patchwork shop called The Button Tree, here in Wolverhampton, so I went in for some advice.  The woman told me to stick to rectangles to start off with, and to stagger the joins, so that any unevenness would be less noticeable.  I decided to use this idea to make a sort-of brick pattern, with a nod towards Bargello.  She also told me to concentrate on making up a piece of fabric first, and then cut out the clown’s clothes. At the Ali Pali show some time ago, I bought some papier mache eggs from the Decopatch stall, to use as doll heads.  I tried to find something to make hands and feet out of, as I have had no luck using polymer clay, and I thought I might have found the answer on the Friendly Plastic stall.  There were some nice little hand-shaped cutters – but no feet!  Shucks!!   Back to the drawing-board!!! Weeks later I had got together all my fabrics, old stamp-blocks for the body and metal bits to fasten them together, and I had found out where to buy dowelling for the arms and legs.  Then I looked for my eggs, so that I could decide what size of doll I was going to make, but I couldn’t find them anywhere!  And I still didn’t have any hands or feet.  By this time I was ill, and I couldn’t cope with the disappointment, so I put the whole idea aside for later. At the beginning of August I treated myself to a day out in the city centre, and wandered into the Works bookshop, where I found this for the silly price of £1.99:-

It is only 5 inches tall, from the soles of its feet to the top of its head, and it is a bit crudely made, but it was a complete solution to my problems, so I decided to buy it.  I had planned to make a sitting doll, but this little model wont sit, so I had to change my plan. Now it was time for some patchwork fun!  I cut a 1 inch wide strip of each of my six fabrics, stitched them all together, with 1/8th inch seams as advised.  Then I pressed all the seam-allowances to one side.  This left me with a long, narrow, striped piece, which I cut into three lengths.  I stitched the pieces together the other way, keeping the order of the colours correct and pressed the allowances again.  Then I cut 1 inch strips across the stripes.  I laid the strips down beside each other, keeping the colours in the right order, then moved every second strip down by one and a half patches, to stagger the colours and joins.  Stitching the strips together was a bit nerve-wracking, as I kept being interrupted and losing my place!  As I went along, I unpicked the bottom patch of each strip that I had moved down, and stitched it on at the top of the same strip, so as to even out the top and bottom edges a bit.  When I had finished, I had a fairly flat piece with a brick pattern, which was what I was aiming at (though it was slightly irregular!), but I’d got my logic wrong, and the brick pattern was vertical!  Hey ho!  The woman in the patchwork shop had suggested that I back my piece with muslin, but I decided not to, as the piece was a lot stiffer than I had expected, and I thought it might prevent me from gathering it at the neck. In order to make a pattern for the clothes, I decided to make a voile (if I’ve got the term right!).  Using my (rather rusty) experience of dress-making and pattern-cutting, I made a rough pattern for a quarter of the main part, and cut the 4 pieces out of an old hanky.  I laid these out on the patchwork, to see how much I would have left for the sleeves, and luckily there was enough, if I only made a very small, plain hem at the wrist and ankles.  I decided to cut the sleeves in a raglan style, with the top edge incorporated into the neck gathers.  The voile worked out, when I tried it on the doll, so I cut all the parts out of patchwork and sewed them up, leaving a hemmed opening in the back seam.  I hadn’t allowed quite enough “height” at the neck, so I faced that edge with a strip of plain orange fabric, then I worked the gathers in the facing and the turnings and pulled them up.  I finished the back with a comically-oversized button and a thread loop.  To fit the clothes on the doll, I pulled out it’s “stick”, and pushed the end through a gap in the stitches of the back seam just above the crotch, then refitted the stick.

This is what the doll looks like now:-

To finish off, I had planned to add a hat, a set of juggling balls and a sort-of ruff as a collar.  However my inspiration dried up at this point, and then I ran out of time, because I was packing to go for a holiday on my boat, so I wrote the project up roughly and put everything away for later.  I didn’t have time to post it on my blog at that time, so here it is a month late!

Hopefully, my inspiration will re-emerge at some point, and I will add the finishing touches to my doll.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

On UK Stampers the theme for the August Twinchie swap is “By the Sea”, which is great, because I recently acquired a set of seaside stamps, (free with a magazine, if I remember correctly).

The stamp set includes a beach hut, a couple of deckchairs, a small boat sailing along on some waves, and a rather large seagull.  Luckily the beach hut measures just under 2 inches square, so I decided to make it my main feature and exploit the doors, by cutting them open.  Logically the doors would open to show the inside of the beach hut, but I haven’t got any stamps or images that would be suitable, so I had to use a bit of artistic licence and show a view right through the beach hut to the sand and sea behind.  Since the boat stamp fits nicely in the opening, I decided to use that as the focal point of the view.

As I’m “busy” watching the Olympics at the moment, I decided to do all my stamping (with black Memento)  in one session, then sit in front of the telly and colour everything in with Promarkers.  I stamped the beach huts, coloured them in, and very gingerly scored and cut open the doors, then coloured in the backs of the doors to match the fronts.  Luckily all three worked out first time, even though I’m rubbish with a craft knife!  I stamped the tops of the beach huts again three times, cut out the “10” signs and stuck them onto the huts, to make sure the signs were properly white.  I stamped a boat in the middle of some 3 inch squares of card, to make the backgrounds (plus some spares).  Using the door opening, I decided where I wanted the joins between the sky, sea and sand, then made some guide marks.  I used post-it masks to make clouds, like I usually do, then coloured the sky with Artic Blue and Sky Blue, forgetting just how bad Promarkers are for bleeding through paper!  That was an “aaarrrgh!” moment, but the splodgy result actually looked ok, so I’m happy!  However, it was obvious that masking would not work for the boats, so I decided to colour the sea right over them, then take out the colour with my Promarker blender pen.  I was able to take enough blue out of the flags, so that I could colour them red, but the sails ended up a rather blotchy pale blue, which didn’t look very appealing!  I got round the problem by stamping a load of extra boats in a row, sticking double-sided tape on the back, cutting out the sails and sticking them over the mess.  Sorted!  I gave up with the hulls, and just coloured them a darker blue!

It was interesting colouring the sea, as I haven’t got a suitable blue, so I experimented with lots of scribbling in different colours, until I had a mix that would do (and, no, I can’t remember which colours I used!!!!!).  I tried “shifting” some of the blue with my blender pen, with the aim of suggesting waves, but it didn’t work. (I’m wondering if the blue pigment in Promarkers is just difficult to shift, in the same way that the blue pigment in dye inks doesn’t like being bleached?).

I used Sandstone to colour the sand, then realised that I would be cutting most of it off, so I didn’t bother with any shading!

To assemble the Twinchies, I stuck the huts over the backgrounds using double-sided tape, making sure that the boats were in the middle of the doorways.  Lastly, I cut out the 2 x 2 inch squares, with the huts sitting nicely in the middle, then backed each one with another piece of card, to cover the Promarker mess.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Now for a little bit of bling!

When I saw the “Bling it on” theme for the July twinchie swap on UK Stampers, I immediately thought of the gorgeous Diamond stamp from Clarity.  I think diamonds are the ultimate in bling, though I chose sapphires for myself!

I decided to show my diamonds off by putting them on cushions, so I made tiny ones out of some dark blue fabric that I rescued from a jar of jam.  I stuffed the cushions with cotton wool, and sewed some gold braid round the edges.  The miniscule tassels, that I tried to make for the corners, just would not work out, so I had to make do with loops instead.  By the time I had finished sewing all 3 cushions, I was beginning to question my sanity…….

I inked the background cards with Mustard Seed and Barn Door distress inks, then spritzed them with water to blend the colours.  They looked really boring, so I scored a sunray pattern with my Hougie board.  They still looked boring, so I spritzed them with Heirloom Gold pearl mist.  That was a bit better, but I decided to go the whole hog and mount them on gold mirri-card as well.  Sorted!  Before I stuck the background layers together, I sewed the cushions onto the inked cards, by making small stitches in the back layer of the cushions, so that they stayed plump.

Now it was time for the diamonds!  I can’t stamp on acetate for toffee, so I tried an idea from Barbary Gray, using double-sided adhesive sheets.  Barbara peels off one backing sheet, stamps onto the adhesive, lays acetate on top, then turns it over, peels off the other backing sheet and adds blingey stuff to the adhesive, so that it shows through the acetate.  Brilliant, and it works!  Well, it does if your stamping is any good!  I got 2 images to work immediately, but the third just would not cooperate!  For some reason the stamp decided to skid over the adhesive, or miss bits, and it took 5 tries to get a useable image.  Even then, a bit of the point was missing, so I had to “patch” it by stamping that bit again – luckily just right!  By that stage, I was getting a bit desperate, so it was a relief, when I finally had 3 images I could use.  I decided to use plastic packaging instead of acetate, as it is stronger, and successfully stuck it on without any bubbles.  Phew!  Now for the glitter, but…..

I couldn’t find my one and only pot of Glamour Dust glitter anywhere!!!!

So, I had to use Mica Flakes instead.  I bought 3 pots of them in a weak moment ages ago, but hadn’t got around to trying them.  I found out that they are an absolute menace, spreading themselves everywhere, even though I was really careful and tidy!  I hate using glitter because of the mess, but this was 10 times worse!!!  The flakes kept falling off the adhesive and didn’t cover it completely, so the diamonds looked a bit disappointing.  I decided to back them with gold mirri-card, as it seemed to bring out the blinginess.  I stuck the mirri on with Pinflair glue gel, which finally tamed the flakes, and I was able to trim neatly around the edge of the plastic shapes with scissors.

Finally, I stuck the diamonds onto the cushions with Pinflair glue gel, and took some photos.  I think my Twinchies have turned out quite well, and I hope the eventual recipients will agree!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Some much easier ATCs!

On UK Stampers the theme that Vonny set for the July ATC swap was “Roses”.  This came as a blessed relief, after the problems I had with the “Royalty” theme for June!  I was winning from the start with “Roses”, as I have several suitable stamps, so I decided to make 3 quite different ATCs this time.  It proved so easy, that I finished everything in June!

For the first ATC, I stamped the top part of the Rose Flower Fairy stamp with black Memento, then coloured in the whole ATC with Promarkers.  To finish off, I inked round the edges very lightly, stuck a clear bling in the middle of the rose and painted a thin coat of Stickles onto the fairy’s wings.

For the second ATC, I brayered a background with Soothing Sunset Big’n’Juicy.  I zapped the ink with my heat tool until it was well and truly dry, and used my antistatic pad as well, before I stamped the rather arty rose silhouette with black Archival and embossed it with clear detail powder.  Then I masked the flower and stamped the word “Rose” in pink.  To finish off, I inked round the edges lightly, and stuck a pink bling in the centre of the rose.

I had a bit of messy fun with No 3!  I stamped the rose corner and the word “Rose” in black Archival, zapped it dry, sprayed the ATC with a mixture of Tumbled Glass reinker, pearl mist and water, until the card was very wet, then tipped a load of coarse sea-salt onto it.  I had to make 2, as the first one got spoilt when I rubbed the salt off it.  I was a bit more patient the second time, used coarser salt, and let it dry for longer.  Unfortunately, the salt slightly “attacked” the embossing, so the images aren’t perfect.  I finished off with 3 blue blings and ink round the edges.

I made a postcard for my note to Vonny, using the same stamps and background as for ATC 3.  For the envelopes, I went back to my usual digital setup using the free template from Craft Stamper magazine.  I wasn’t in a hurry to repeat June’s envelope fiasco!!

I had everything packed up, sealed and ready to put in the post several days ago, but luckily decided not to, until Vonny had sent out the June ATCs.  I didn’t realised that I had forgotten to take my photos!!  I was feeling a little better on Wednesday, so I unsealed the packaging, took my pics and wrote this post, then sealed everything back up again.  Phew!!!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Royalty ATCs

On UK Stampers the theme for the June ATC swap is “Royalty”.  I decided to try something digital, as I didn’t have any suitable stamps at all.  I wanted to do something based on the Lion and the Unicorn, or crown, orb and sceptre, but all the images I found on the internet were hopeless, so I was completely stuck.  Then I treated myself to a day out at Sunrise Crafts, to cheer myself up, and ……..

I found this Tim Holtz stamp!  Sorted!!!!!!

The stamp is perfectly sized for ATCs, so I only had to make a nice background for it.  I stamped it onto a rubbish ATC, cut away the areas around the crown and the lion, then used the remains as a mask.  I dabbed Mustard Seed distress ink onto the crown area and Spiced Marmalade onto the lion area.  Then I took the mask away and dabbed Barn Door over the rest of the ATC.  I spritzed with water to blend the colours, then dried with my heat tool.  Easier said than done, as my ready-cut ATCs are made of a rather weird card that tends to dry in uneven patches!!  At this stage I thought the colours looked a bit garish, so I swiped over lightly with Picket Fence distress stain and dried again.  I stamped with black Archival, then spritzed lightly and splatted with Heirloom Gold pearl mist, and finally zapped it all thoroughly with my heat tool.  So far, so good!

I wanted to add crown charms, but I couldn’t find any at Sunrise Crafts, and it was far too late to buy any on the internet.  I decided instead to diecut some grungeboard crowns, using the Tim Holtz Heart Wings die.  I tried dabbing the first one with a gold paint dabber, then immediately zapping it with my heat tool (which pops the bubbles in the paint and leaves a lovely orange-peel texture, that looks great when antiqued with black paint!).  Unfortunately, the paint hadn’t covered the edges, so the crown just looked a mess!  I tried adding some paint with a brush, but it still didn’t look right.  Time for drastic action!!  * I squeezed the dabber bottle really hard, so the paint flooded over the diecut, then I swished it around in the puddle with my pokey tool, until it was all covered, then balanced the whole mess on the pokey tool so I could zap it without it sticking to the mat.  The paint bubbled beautifully, but it filled up the holes in the shape!  Grrrrhh!!!!  I managed to squish the paint back against the shape while it was hot, but this idiot forgot that the pokey tool was also rather hot!  Ouch!!!  Then it was time to get the dried paint off my craft mat.  Thank goodness for wet wipes!  By this stage I had splashes of gold paint everywhere, and every time I moved it got worse, so I had to go and clean myself up.  Then I had to repeat from * twice more.  Groan!!!  I left everything to dry and had a well-earned (?) rest for a few hours, then came back expecting to find the paint had gone hard.  No such luck!  I could still move the bubbles about and squish them.  I had wanted to do some antiquing with black paint, but I thought it was likely that the gold paint would rub off in the process, so I decided against it.  I just hope the paint will stand up to the post and being handled!  Finally I gave each crown a slight curve with my fingers, then I stuck them on with Pinflair glue gel (fabulous stuff!!).

I like to make envelopes for my swap ATCs, using the free downloadable template from the Craft Stamper magazine and a suitable digital image.  However, this time I decided to have a play!  I had finally bought myself some Craft Glassine in the form of little envelopes, while I was at Sunrise Crafts.  I had high hopes of it, because of the lovely things I had seen on the telly and the internet, but my first effort was simply a mess!  I tried stamping in an embossing folder, then embossing the Glassine.  The ink didn’t show up properly, it wouldn’t dry and the stamping smudged.  I couldn’t think of a way of improving it, so that envelope went in the bin!  For my second attempt I just embossed the Glassine with the Victoria folder (think Royalty, think Queen, think Victoria??), then inked over the embossing with Black Soot ink.  Ooh, messy!!  I finally managed to zap the ink dry with my heat tool, but it seemed to melt the surface of the Glassine, which was a little alarming!!  How on earth do people make the lovely things I’ve seen?  I must be doing something wrong!?!  The final insult came when the diecut mirri board crown and letter “R” wouldn’t stick properly to the Glassine!  I had put them through my Xyron X, which has always worked in the past but not this time.

It was a relief to get everything packed up and sent away to Vonny!  I just hope the ATCs and envelopes survive the swap, and that the eventual recipients will like them!!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Twinchies again!

Over on UK Stampers, the theme of the Twinchie swap for June is “My Little Red Heart”.  I signed up for the swap in a rash moment, having no clear idea as to what I was going to do!  None of my ideas would gel, so I decided to put the job on the back burner and go back to experimenting.

In sorting through some old stamps that don’t get used very often, I came across a forgotten set of flat “shadow” stamps.  One of them was just over 2” square, so I thought “Aha!  Why don’t I have a go at “Kiss-Stamping”, and see if anything turns up that will make my Twinchies happen.”  So, after one or two false starts........

I inked the "shadow" stamp with Spun Sugar Distress Ink, kissed it with a floral background inked with Worn Lipstick, kissed it round the edges with the curly tail of a bird stamp inked with Peeled Paint (stamping a bit further in on two sides, to allow for trimming), kissed it with the Craft Stamper magazine freebie "Time to Celebrate" circle stamp (with the words masked out) inked with Barn Door, kissed it several times with a small "open" heart stamp inked with Barn Door, then stamped the "shadow" stamp onto white card, and cut it out at 2” square.  Then I inked the "Love" stamp with Barn Door and stamped it inside the circle.  The “Love” looked a bit lost, so I stamped it again with Barn Door onto plain white card, cut it out and stuck it on top of the first image.  Then I inked the larger "open" heart stamp (which matches the heart in the “Love” stamp), again with Barn Door, stamped it onto white card, cut it out, inked it all over with Barn Door, gave it 4 coats of clear UTEE, and stuck it onto the “Love”.  At this stage I stood back, looked at the Twinchie and thought “Wow!  That’ll do nicely!!”  Then…..

I had to clean off all the stamps, and do the whole lot twice more, trying to get all the stages in the right order!  Umm!!??!!

Success at last with "kiss" stamping!  I’ve only managed it with a brayer before, for doing reflections.  I think it may have worked this time, because the Distress Inks are more forgiving than the inks I have used in the past.  Hooray for Tim Holtz!!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Black & White Gothic Arch

Over on the Gothic Arches Challenge blog, the current theme is "Black & White".  This is my effort.

I was watching Hels (?Sheridan?) on Create & Craft the other day, and decided to buy a sample pack of Art Parts to have a play with.  Imagine my surprise yesterday, when the Wendy Vecchi "Accents for Art" stamp-set arrived instead.  I think the banner says it all, and I will not be sending the stamp-set back!!!!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

My First Canvas

At the March meeting of the Redditch Craft Club, Sue showed us how to do a canvas.  As I had never attempted one before, I had no idea what I would need, so took nothing with me except tools.  I planned to find out how to do it, then finish it off at home.

The canvas that Sue provided was 12" x 9" and was already gessoed.  Following Sue's design, I painted the canvas brown with some emulsion paint, then stuck on some old music paper and some paper with text all over it.  Luckily, I found some "titles" on the papers, to add visual interest.  Sue very kindly cut out the bird and cage for me, by hand, as I didn't have that die at the time.  She provided a length of lace, the key, the die-cut butterfly, some buttons, the heart frame and picture, and the papers for the clock, tickets and animals.  She had brought some beautiful large artificial flowers, but I decided not to use them, as they were bright blue.  Once I had stuck on the background papers, I decided that I needed more time to think about where I was going with the rest of the project.

I have a 12" x 12" pad of scrapbooking papers from Papermania called "Nostalgia Warm", which are in a lovely soft vintage style, mostly in browns and pinks, but with some toning darker colours.  I had a fun day die-cutting the papers with my Tattered Florals die, then inking, stamping and sticking them together to make 12 very different flowers.  I used buttons with the shanks cut off for the centres of the 2 largest flowers, and some beads and bling for the centres of the smaller open flowers.  Two of the flowers are "grunge roses", made with 3 or 4 layers of the medium-sized 6-petal die-cut.  To go with the flowers, I die-cut some Tattered Leaves from the green paper in the pad.  Finally I smeared some gold RubnBuff over the flowers and leaves, to tie them all together.

I thought the paper and acetate clock looked a bit small and lost, and I wanted it to have movable Tim Holtz hands, so I decided it needed to be mounted onto something.  I found some wooden "washers" in my stash, that I had bought because I thought they would come in handy one day.  I painted one with a gold paint-dabber, then blasted it with my heat gun, so that the bubbles in the paint popped and left a lovely dimpled texture.  I covered the gold paint with black acrylic, waited a few moments, then wiped off most of the black, leaving it just in the dimples, to accentuate the texture.  I joined a length of brass chain into a circle, then stuck it on as a frame.  I stuck on the paper and acetate clock, then added some game spinners as hands.

I didn't really like the heart frame, but I didn't have anything better to use, so I tarted it up with some alcohol inks, bling and gold RubnBuff, and added a "collar" made from a piece of plastic net that some cheese came in.  I coloured this with alcohol inks and gold RubnBuff as well.

I used alcohol inks to colour one of the buttons, the key and the "screw" brads for the bird cage, and alcohol ink mixatives to colour the crystal stick-pins.  I used some jewellery findings and chain to join the key to the bird cage, and to make the crystal bead "dangler".  I distressed the lace with some pink and brown inks, stuck it across the middle of the canvas, and stapled the ends to the wood.  I used some jute cord and a broken bead to decorate one of the buttons, and then everything was ready to be stuck on.

I couldn't decide which of the flowers I liked best, so in the end I used them all!  I altered Sue's design a bit, putting some of the flowers at the bottom left, to try to make the canvas look more balanced.  I moved the die-cut butterfly up to the top, so that it didn't hide the word "Remembrance" on the music paper, and I added the metal butterfly, but I mostly followed Sue's design.

The canvas was fun to make, and I do quite like the result, but I hope next time I will have more confidence, and be able to "do my own thing", instead of using someone else's design.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

My First Twinchies

On UK Stampers, Catherine AKA Stitcharama-girl recently organised a Twinchie Swap, with the theme of “Faces”.  I had never made twinchies before, but I decided, rather rashly, to have a go!


Luckily I recently bought the "Kids 6" stamp from Paper Artsy, so I had some faces, but I just couldn’t think what else to do!  Time was beginning to run out on me, so I decided just to mat-and-layer with 2 backgrounds.  The middle layers are sections from some pretty ATC backgrounds that I downloaded from Lisa’s AlteredArt.  I inked the back layers with Distress Inks, then used different parts of the big background stamp from the Papillon CMS1106 stamp set by Stampers Anonymous.  I couldn’t work out how to colour the faces to suit the style of the Paper Artsy stamp, so I chickened out and left them plain.  The paper looked a bit too white, so I used some extremely watered-down Distress Inks to tint the paper very slightly.  I inked all the edges then stuck everything together.  The twinchies seemed rather too thin, so I backed them all with plain white card, and inked the outside edges again.

I’m not particularly pleased with my twinchies – I think they look a bit boring.  I just hope my recipients will forgive me, and I’ll try to make a better job of it next time!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

March postcard swap

Here's my postcard for the March swap on UK Stampers, on the theme of "Windows".

I really struggled to think of any ideas this month, but had a brainwave early this morning, as I tossed and turned after the alarm went off when it shouldn't have.  "Windows", as in 7.  I hope Bill Gates wont mind!

I've used my own photos that I took last Summer, while I was cruising on my boat.  I snapped the gorgeous sunset while I was anchored in the River Roach, and it is the "wallpaper" on my desktop.  The tiny photos are of fishing smacks and Thames barges racing in the Colne Match at the beginning of September.  These photos are a little wobbly, as I took them with one hand, whilst controlling my dinghy's outboard engine with the other, trying the keep the dinghy in the same place despite the wind and tide, and trying to keep the boats in shot.  Not an easy job at all!

I made the mock icons using the clever "shapes" tool on Serif Craft Artist, and some of the embellishments in the digikits that came with my software.  The icons at the left and the big photo were printed out as one image.  The blue-green strip at the bottom is a separate image, including its mock icons and mock date and time, and I stuck it onto the card afterwards.  I stamped the word "start", rather than using an icon, so that I could include some stamping!!!  Each of the little "windows" was assembled in Craft Artist, then printed out onto little computer-printable labels, and stuck onto the main print.  I resorted to gobbledygook for the text in the little "windows", because I hadn't a clue what to write.

I intend to put some sort of sealer on my postcard, as it will be posted "naked", but I decided to wait until I had done the photographs, in case I had a problem with the shine.  It took 8 photos, indoors and out, and 4 useless scans to get 1 usable picture!  It's that blue-green colour again, that I had problems with on my Mermaid art doll!  I just don't learn!!!!  The colours in the sunset and the little photos are very close to the original, but everything else is much too green.

Friday, 9 March 2012

My very first art doll!

I have always been fascinated by art dolls, but have never really understood them.  Having decided it was time to do something about that, I Googled “art dolls” and discovered a magazine called "Dolls United".  It is American and comes on a CD, so I wont be subscribing, but their downloadable free sample issue just happens to be all about art dolls, so I grabbed it!  There are instructions for several different projects, but the one that caught my imagination was the “Mermaid Pin” by Kathleen Chrisman.  I followed quite a lot of her instructions, because I didn't feel confident to design my own doll from scratch, but I adapted things to suit myself.  I didn't like the shrink plastic face at all, I can't draw for toffee, and I don't have a suitable stamp, so I was at loss how to make the face.  However.....

As it happens, the monthly challenge for February on UK Stampers, is to produce a piece of art that includes an image transfer and the use of a favourite stamp in a new way, with no red and no hearts.  So I decided to make my mermaid to fit in with this challenge, by using an image transfer for her face, and one of my favourite “stitch” stamps for the scales on her tail.

I went to the Stitch and Creative Crafts show at Malvern on the 3rd March, and bought some beautiful green fabric, a mixed pot of green and yellow seed beads, and some tiny hand-mirror charms.  I already had some fibres and ribbons for the hair and some pearl beads for the breasts, so I just had to dig out a slightly off-white 1960’s hanky for the main body of the mermaid, and do the image transfer.

The experts say that you can only do image transfers with laser prints, but I have succeeded several times using inkjet prints and matte multi-medium onto paper, so I decided it was worth having a go onto cloth this time.  I used a picture of a pretty woman, that I had downloaded from Lisa's Altered Art.  I painted a fairly thin layer of medium onto a scrap of hanky, and quickly laid the print face down onto it and burnished it with the back of a teaspoon.  I let it dry, then spritzed the paper with water and rubbed it off.  You can’t be as rough with an inkjet-print as you can be with a laser-print, so the transfer is very slightly “furry”, but it’s quite clear, and I am very pleased with it!

I didn’t use Kathleen’s pattern for the body of the mermaid, but drew my own, about 6.5 inches long, so that it suited the size of the face.  I marked out the shape on my old hanky, which I had folded in half.  Then I forgot the instructions!  I should have sewn round the outline at this stage, but instead I went straight ahead and painted a wide line round the outside of the outline with Viridian blue-green acrylic paint.  I dried it with my heat gun, then turned the fabric over and painted the other side the same way.  When all the paint was dry, I cut round the shape, about ¼ inch outside the line.  I decided I didn't want my mermaid to be all one colour, so I cut out the tail in green fabric and stamped the “scales”, using Coffee Archival ink and a chain-stitch stamp, which I curved to match the shape of the tail.  Then I painted the tail onto the body.   As instructed, I cut a 1” slit in the back layer only of the body, and started stuffing with cotton wool, because I couldn’t find my toy stuffing.  That’s when I realised that I should have stitched round the outline before I painted!  By now it was too late for the sewing machine, so I back-stitched round in green cotton.  Disaster averted, I finished the stuffing and sewed up the little slit.  I turned in the edges round the image-transfer, which wasn’t very easy, as the multi-medium had made the fabric rather hard, and I slip-stitched the face in position. 

Then it was time for the beads.  I strung a few seed-beads onto cotton thread, and slip-stitched them along the top of the tail, to disguise the raw edge.  I added a necklace in the same way.  I thought Kathleen’s version of the tail used too many beads, so I made mine smaller, deciding by eye how many beads to string for each loop.  After sewing the first loop of beads onto the tail, I put the needle back through some of the beads, to get to the right place to start the next loop.  I only did 5 loops, because I thought it looked the right size for my mermaid.  I was lucky enough to find 2 old pearl beads of the same size, that I had rescued from some old jewellery, so I sewed them on as breasts.

I followed Kathleen’s instructions loosely, when I made the hair.  I didn’t have many fibres of a suitable colour, so I just used 2 lengths each of brown and gold organza ribbon, a length of light-brown eyelash yarn, and a length of some fluffy off-white stuff that was left over from knitting a sheep.  I cut them all to 12inches long, and tried to coil them up, like Kathleen did.  It looked very messy, so I decided to plait all the fibres and ribbons together and sew the ends with thread, instead of tying them with a ribbon.  Following Kathleen's instructions, I sewed the plait to the back of the head, coiling it from the centre outwards, then brought the end round to the front, and stitched it down at the top of the tail.

Lastly I sewed on the tiny hand-mirror charm.  It’s slightly too small, but I think it adds a nice finishing touch to my doll.  Kathleen put a brooch-pin on the back of her mermaid, but I couldn’t see myself actually wearing mine, so I left the back plain.

The final problem was trying to take a good picture of the mermaid.  Whatever I did, the colours wouldn’t come out right, so you can’t see the lovely blue-green!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

February postcard swap

Here is my February postcard for the monthly swap on UK Stampers.  The theme was "Circles", and for some reason that immediately made me think of chain-mail!  I got the 3 digi images from, and then spent a merry time manipulating them and piecing the picture together with glue.

The chain-mail image didn't have an "edge", so I had to digitally remove a lot of overlapping circles, to produce the dropped "stitch" and the top row of circles.  The needle is a separate piece of paper, which I "wove" through fussy-cut circles.  There are 3 or 4 layers in that top row, and disguising the joins was a nightmare!

I had trouble finding a suitable image of a woman - I wanted a medieval woman looking shocked, but all I could find was either a medieval woman looking smug, or a modern woman looking shocked, so I had to settle for the modern woman.  The needle caused problems too - there wasn't much choice, and although I successfully isolated a needle from an image, I couldn't make it appear properly cylindrical.  By the time I had everything printed out and had started gluing, I was beginning to wish I had thought of a simpler design!

Luckily, I found that my purple Promarker reacted exactly the same on the card and the printed paper, so the background was easy.  Last of all I stamped the text, letter by letter, having very carefully planned it out so that it fitted the space.  After all that effort, I dropped the very last stamp, and got a double image!  I did a bit of cursing, but decided I just couldn't face doing the whole postcard again,  so I hope Pam, to whom I sent my card, will not mind the slight flaw.

As the postcard had to be sent "naked", I covered it with matte multi-medium, in the hope that the paper-piecing will survive the post.  Unfortunately, I touched it too soon, and pulled off a little of the needle image.  One more slight flaw, that I hope Pam will forgive!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

My first Gothic Arch - a bit late!

On Gothic Arches the challenge from 5th to the 19th February 2012 was on the theme of "Bedecked and Beribboned".  For some time I have been tempted to join in these challenges, but I am always too slow, or I haven't got any ideas.  This time I managed to get everything together, and I'm only 2 days late!

I used 3 downloaded digi images, some stamping and some real ribbon.  The girl was a free download from the Craft Stamper magazine website, the hat was from, I can't remember where the background was from (sorry!).  I stamped the borders and the button using the stitch and button stamps from  The ribbon is old stash - I bought the stripy stuff from a local market in a weak moment, there's absolutely miles of it, and I'm glad I've found something to use it for at last, before it goes all manky!

I hope Effie will forgive me going down the girl/hat/ribbon road with my gothic arch, like she did.  I'm going through a phase of putting hats on things/people at the moment, but this is the only finished "hat" item at the moment.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Post-it-note Pad for my elder daughter

A few months ago I saw a video on YouTube, that showed a woman altering coasters to make the covers for a post-it-note pad.  I thought to myself “I could do that”, then promptly forgot all about it.

In January I saw some coasters in our local bargain hardware shop, and I remembered the video.  I bought a pack of coasters, and this is the result!

I was supposed to be making something with teal as the main colour, as that is my daughter's current favourite.  However, I couldn't find any paper in my stash that was remotely like teal, so I gave up and used a pinky-red, because it went with the post-it-note papers that I had.  I hope my daughter wont mind!

To prepare the coasters, I first peeled off the shiny printed surface, then sanded the remaining paper lightly, to give the glue a key.  I also sanded all of the shiny surface off the edges.  The coasters are about 9.5 cms square, so I was able to use just one sheet of 8 ins square oriental-patterned paper, cut into quarters, to cover the four surfaces.  I did one surface at a time, using watered-down PVA to glue the paper on.  I bent the excess paper over the edges, then sanded the excess paper off.  When the glue was dry, I dabbed all the edges with a gold Adirondack paint dabber, leaving the surface rough.  When this had dried, I stamped the oriental text background stamp onto the front and back outer surfaces, using black Archival ink.  I lightly wiped the ink off the paint, so that it left a sort-of ghost image on the gold.

Now it was time to do the binding!  This time I was lucky - I only needed six holes, so it wasn't quite as difficult to get the loops looking moderately round.

For the flower on the top, I diecut some shapes out of patterned paper backed with red card, using my Tattered Florals die, and then did some stamping with white Gesso.  The result was rather flat, so I painted the edges of the petals with my gold paint dabber.  It still looked boring, so I painted the whole of the inside of each flower shape with mica.  Much better!  To make the stamens, I cut a rough circle of black paper, fringed the edge of it, then twisted each bit of the fringe slightly.  I dabbed the edges with gold paint, to tie the black in with the rest of the colour scheme. To shape the flower, I used a sponge mat and a large ball-tool that I bought from the Glitter Girls.  I glued all the layers together with Glossy Accents, then added half of an old press-stud in the centre.  I had intended to sit the flower on a leaf, but I didn't want to add green to my colour-scheme, and I thought a black or gold leaf would look silly.  So I ended up using a flourish - again!  I diecut it out of waste mount-board using my Elegant Flourishes die, and had to trim it, as it was too large.  I painted it gold and stuck it on with Glossy Accents.  Finally, I stuck the flower on with Pinflair Glue Gel.

Canal Book for my younger daughter

My younger daughter lives in Kent, and she misses our Midland canals.  So I decided to make her a book of canal photographs, that I took myself in Wolverhampton and at the Bratch locks during 2011.

I made the pages from offcuts of mountboard from a picture-framing shop.  I cut all the pages to the correct height but over-sized in width, then stuck the pictures on both sides with gel medium.  I die-cut the fancy edges, and used a craft knife to cut the "split" pages to fit.  I sanded the excess paper off all the edges, then painted them with a gold paint dabber.

That's when the project ground to a halt!

Originally I was going to fix the pages together with book rings, but I decided I didn’t like them, so I bought myself a Bind-it-All and some wires to use instead.  I tried out the BIA on another project first, but the binding didn’t go very well, and the loops ended up nowhere near round.  I asked for advice on UK Stampers, and Tasha (aka Chicken Licken) gave me the hints I needed.  She told me to set the squishing channel a bit wider, and to do the squishing bit by bit in stages.  It worked a treat, so I have been able to finish my book.  Thanks very much, Tasha!!






I’ve trimmed the book with bits and bobs, and I just need to put the title and “created by” on the blank areas of the back cover, then my daughter can have it.  I just hope she likes it!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Notebook for my husband

This is the notebook I made for my husband, as a rather late Christmas present.

I made the covers out of grungeboard, covered with sticky-backed canvas, painted brown then dry-brushed with a little white paint.  I covered the inside with vintage-styled patterned paper.

The gears were diecut from grungepaper, painted black then rubbed with a pewter-coloured metallic rub-on.  I stuck them on with Glossy Accents, along with the Ideaology bits and pieces.  I left the spinners free to spin.

I used large swivel clasps for the hanger, so my husband can separate them and hang the book up open.  I made a bookmark out of two small swivel clasps, so he can mark both the page of notes he's working on and the corresponding page of diagrams.

For the pages, I cut a pile of lined paper for my husband to write notes on, and a pile of cartridge paper for diagrams.  The pages are a bit smaller than the covers, so it took me a while to figure out how to punch the holes in the right place!

This is only the third binding I have done with my Bind-it-All, and it has worked out great!  I put my success down to the hints I received from Tasha (aka Chicken Licken) on UK Stampers.  Thanks very much, Tasha!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Here is the first postcard I have made.  It was for the January swap on UK Stampers, on the theme of "Numbers".

As the postcard was to be posted naked, I didn't dare use my favourite Distress Inks, so I made the background with acrylic paints, diluted and splodged onto wet card.  I stamped the title and the little numbers in circles with paint.  The title didn't show up very well in the white paint, so I painted over it with black.  I made the large numbers by drawing through a stencil then painting along the lines.  I wrote the text with a Sakura pen.  Finally, I paint the edges with a gold paint-dabber.

For anyone who isn't old enough to recognise the quote against number 42, it comes from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams

Friday, 20 January 2012

On UK Stampers we are having monthly challenges for 2012.  This is my effort!

The challenge was to make a hanging out of material from old clothes, metal, tissue and stamps.  We were supposed to use old stash only, nothing new.

I made the background out of an old tee-shirt stuck onto some left-over card from an old pad, the fish out of a tomato-paste tube and the lid from a can of octopus, the sand out of inked, stamped and scrunched tissue and a scrap of card, the bubbles out of Glossy Accents, and the weeds out of the packaging from last Christmas's pudding.  The jump rings and chain have been in my stash for ages.  The only new thing I used was my Cropadile, for punching the holes.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Autumn Card

I decided to try making my own stamps, like Tim Holtz does, and this is the result.  I used the Tattered Leaves die and some 6mm thick foam.