Saturday, 3 October 2015

A Visit to Babbacombe

As I have been feeling a bit stir-crazy, stuck in the house, with the only recent outings being to the hospital, and as today was a beautiful day, I asked my hubby if he would take me along the sea front at Babbacome, one of my favourite haunts near where we live. I wasn’t feeling too bad and just needed to get out for a while! The sea front there is smaller and more intimate than in Torquay proper, nice and high up with magnificient views down the cliffs, and very pretty flower beds (still well in bloom) and look-out points. With its strings of decorative lights and the light-hearted seaside hotel architecture it always makes me feel better! We put the buggy in the car and set off. The day seemed sunny and bright, but what a surprise met us when we arrived! It was a “Lost Horizon” experience – I have never seen the sea look like that at Babbacombe before, and the light was simply amazing with the sun low in the sky now we are into autumn. It was magical.

01 Lost Horizon

02 Lost Horizon

03 Curving Railings

04 Soft Grasses

05 Lost Horizon with Railings

07 Palm Trees and Pampas

08 The Sea Front

My hubby took this one of me on my buggy. He made me take my dark glasses off, and I’ve got the sun right in my eyes! I took one of him but for some reason it was out of focus… We went over the road to a cafe and had a cappuccino outside in the sunshine before returning home and I crashed out on the recliner and went right off into a deep sleep till lunch time!

06 Me on my Buggy

Finally, the statue of Baroness Mount-Temple, in silhouette. This delightful little statue, which stands in a circular stone trough, depicts a local Victorian philanthropist, and every day someone puts a fresh flower in her hand.

09 Baroness Mount Temple

I was so glad we went! I love the sea in all its moods, and for me, the height of summer is not the best time to see it. Out of season the light is often more interesting and the shadows longer. There was such contrast today between the brightness of the sun and the haze over the sea and there were aspects of this very familiar spot that appeared fresh to me.

Friday, 2 October 2015

My First Florabunda Drawings

The third of three posts for today.

After I won the lovely Florabunda book from Neil’s blog giveaway, I started experimenting. I cut some pieces of plain white card and also found some narrow offcut strips to make borders with, and got my Zentangle drawing pens out and started to have fun!

These are the little border pieces I did. They are 5 1/2 inches long.

01 Border Strips - Sept 15

With the book, Neil sent me a lovely little Zentangle card with my initial on it, so I decided to start making a set of alphabet letters in the Florabunda style. So far I’ve got to E. Each one measures 2 3/4 inches square.

02 Alphabet A-E - Sept 15

A couple of circular designs.

03 Circle of Flowers - Sept 15

04 Floral Mandala - Sept 15

In the book, I love Suzanne McNeill’s use of pods and gone-over flowers as well as all the pretty petals. Here’s my first take on this. They look a bit half-dead, with some of the leaves drooping and dropping off!

05 4 Pods in a Row - Sept 15

Some stylised leaves on a curve.

06 Leaves on a Curve

All these last ones are 4 3/4 inches square.

My plan is to draw a good collection of these Florabunda designs, and then scan and print them. I can then make up a collection of cards quite quickly, and colour them how I want, in a variety of ways, giving different interpretations to the same designs and seeing which I prefer. I am keen to try adding colours with my new Brusho paints in an uncontrolled way so that the detailed drawing sits on a suitably-coloured background, giving contrast between fine detail and random colour. The shapes can also be coloured with markers, watercolours, coloured pencils… As with the adult drawing pages, the possibilities are endless. These drawings also stand alone with no colour. So many different variations and so much possibility to have fun! For me at the moment one of the great advantages is that I can do them while relaxing on the recliner.

Two Adult Drawing Pages

The second of three posts for today.

I have done a couple more adult drawing pages, both downloaded from here.

Poppies & Corn and Butterfly Trellis

I wasn’t that thrilled with the first one, to be honest – not such an interesting picture, and I did it with coloured pencils which didn’t come out very bright. Being poppies, I think I would have done better to use my Sharpies to get more intense colour.

Here is the original printed drawing.

01 Printed Drawing

This is what I did with it.

02 Completed Drawing

The second one, however, I was very pleased with. For starters, I much preferred the picture, which had lots of potential for shading and different colouring.

01 Printed Drawing

This time I decided to use my Inktense pencils, which, true to their name, have intense colour. Being ink, once dry, they do not run and you can add more layers on top if you want, without re-activating what you have already done. Not that I did that in this case, though. I love the way they blend so well together with the application of a little water on a brush. They are quite sticky and waxy to use, and don’t run on as smoothly as regular coloured pencils and I certainly wouldn’t use them if I wasn’t going to add water afterwards. Adding water with the brush reminds me of another favourite childhood activity – magic painting! Who remembers that (or am I giving away my age!)… You had a greyish looking page with outlines drawn on it, and you would paint it just with water, and the colours would spring to life!

02 Completed Drawing

If you look carefully, you can see that I added some lines to the drawing, to make the trellis weave over and under, and added some little nails to hold it together! I think that makes it look better, particularly with the shading.

For the butterflies, I used a combination of Twinkling H2Os and Perfect Pearls. I bought a couple of little packs of the former at Hobbycraft recently and hadn’t yet tried them. Frankly I was a bit disappointed, after reading raves from people about them online. For starters, the packs I got seemed only to have pinks and browns in them which wasn’t terribly useful for butterflies. When I started using the Perfect Pearls instead, I think I was getting more intense colour and more shimmer from them than from the Twinklings, which surprised me a lot. Maybe I need to experiment further.

After I’d added the shimmer colours to the butterflies, I went around the outlines again with a permanent black marker because some of the lines had become indistinct where I’d gone over them.

Anyway, I was very pleased with the results – the butterflies are really shimmery! They stand out in contrast against the background. Of course, most of this doesn’t show up on the photos, but I’ve done my best to do them justice.

03 Central Butterfly

04 Showing Shimmer of Perfect Pearls

I am having fun experimenting with different media for these adult colouring pages. I must try good old-fashioned watercolours, acrylics, mixed media, foiling, embossing, pastels and chalks… the possibilities are endless! One thing I have learnt, especially from my experience with the poppies one, is that you need to choose the correct medium for the picture, so that you do it justice. Soft, subtle colours do not work on an image which calls for bright, vibrant shades.

Stamps from Packaging Foam

The first of three posts for today.

I received a parcel recently with some grey packaging foam, and as I took it out, it bore a striking resemblance to a piece of foam I bought at a craft show ages ago, called a “Magic Stamp” which you are supposed to warm up with a heat gun and then press onto something textured. This makes a stamp which you can use as many times as you want, and when you want to make another one, you just warm it up again and repeat the process.

I thought I’d try warming this packaging foam and see what happened – nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Here is the stuff I used for my little experiment.

You can see the “Magic Stamp” on the left – the blue block in the plastic bag. Next to it is a twist of kitchen paper with some pistachio nut shells in it that I saved ages ago to use in art, which I thought might make an interesting texture.

Then the stamp I made, and my heat gun. Front row: packing foam blocks, the stamping I did on a scrap of card, and a distress ink grabbed at random.

01 Materials

Here is the stamp I made. I could have warmed it more and pressed it harder onto the nuts, but the result came out OK!

02 Stamp

The stamping. After stamping twice, I cleaned off the stamp by pressing it several times onto the card to give a softer impression, then wiped the stamp over the edges of the card.

03 Stamping Results

04 Stamped Piece

Definitely some potential here! I am thrilled that this foam, which I was about to throw away, is going to come in really handy! I think it will also be a useful asset once I finally get going with gelli printing.

Shoshi’s motto: never throw anything away until you’ve thought about whether you can make art with it!!!

Diamond Wedding Anniversary Card

My hubby reminded me we were invited to a diamond wedding tea party today. When we were invited some time ago I wasn’t sure I’d be well enough to go, because it would be less than a week after a chemo treatment, but because I am doing so much better on the reduced dose, I felt just about able to go.

I had forgotten about it in the meantime, and suddenly realised I needed to make a card! This is one of the reasons for wanting to start my card factory – to avoid having to make cards at such short notice as this.

Even though I am feeling better than usual at this stage in a cycle, I am far from 100 percent, and this morning I was suffering badly from chemo brain and made soooo many mistakes, it was driving me nuts! I did succeed in making a card, but managed to leave out one bit which I found after I’d finished! Also, recently I bought some circle dies which I simply cannot find, and I thought I had a music embossing folder, which I didn’t, so I had to rethink the thing on the fly! It was rather a frustrating morning all round, but I got there in the end.

It was rather difficult to photograph because it is white and sparkly. The glitter and silver don’t show up as much as in real life.

This card is not my usual style, but I wanted to do something silvery and sparkly for a diamond wedding. The couple are retired musicians, so I decided to add something to give a musical theme. The wife later said, when she opened the card, “Oh! It’s a record!” I hadn’t thought of it like that, but it does look a bit like a CD!

11 Finished Card

I began by creating some mat layers, using silver mirror card and some white card which I inked around the edges with Hickory Smoke distress ink, using a home-made ink blending tool. I got this distress ink quite recently (one of the new ones for this year) and am surprised how much I am using it already – it’s a lovely soft grey, and a very useful colour.

01 Matting, Layering and Inking

Not being able to find my circle dies, I had to resort to my Martha Stewart circle cutter, a tool I really don’t much like. The die would have produced a nice embossed edge, which of course this does not.

02 Cutting the Circle Mat

I cut a 4-inch circle and stamped and heat-embossed it using the “Music Background” stamp from the Artistic Stamper, using Cosmic Shimmer glitter embossing powder, which came out slightly pink from one direction, and a shimmery green the other way – very pretty! I haven’t used this for ages and had forgotten how nice it was.

03 Glitter Embossing the Circle Mat

Here is the circle mount. Rather difficult to see but you can just see the pinkness of it!

04 Circle Mat

I made a circle with “60” in it to go in the centre. I used stamps from the Stampin’ Up set “Memorable Moments” – a very useful set because it has separate words for the sentiments, and numbers, and “rd,” “nd” etc. so that you can mix and match, and a nice little scalloped oval shape to stamp them in as well. I chose the number 60 for the front of the card, stamped it on white card and heat embossed it with silver embossing powder. I then went over it with a glue pen and added some Hunkydory Diamond Sparkles Angel Whispers fine glitter. I cut out the circle using a plain 2-inch circle punch.

I find the best way to make sure that glitter is well stuck down is to put a piece of paper over the top, and then run a brayer over it several times. I find very little loose glitter falls off that way.

05 Making the 60

Here is the completed “60” layered onto a slightly larger piece of silver mirror card punched out with a scalloped circle punch.

06 The 60

Turning back to the background again, I found some ice sparkly silver and organza ribbon in my stash and stuck this down vertically across the mat with double sided tape.

07 The Ribbon on the Mat Layers

Using two sizes of butterfly stamps from the Stamping’ Up “Papillon Potpourri” set, I heat-embossed two of each, using the same glitter embossing powder as before, and silver embossing powder respectively, and then fussy-cut them out with fine scissors.

08 Making the Butterflies

I added the Diamond Sparkles glitter with the glue pen as before, to the silver-embossed butterflies.

09 Glittering the Butterflies

To stamp the inside of the card, I used stamps from the Stampin’ Up “Memorable Moments” set, using Wendy Vecchi Archival Ink in Watering Can, which tones very well with Hickory Smoke distress ink.

10 Stamping the Card Inside

I stuck down the two glitter-embossed butterflies using Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive in the centres so that the wings were loose, and attached the antennae using the glue pen.

12 Card Inside

The finished card, showing the glittered silver-embossed butterflies, attached in the same way.

11 Finished Card

We got to the party OK and it was great. I was so glad I went – the couple were surprised and delighted to see me as they didn’t think I’d be able to come. It was lovely seeing lots of other old friends too, and catching up. A very happy time. The card went down well, too!

I felt a lot better when we got home, and spent the evening relaxing on the recliner. We’d had plenty of gorgeous canapes at the party so we just had some stewed apple and cream later in the evening. I’m hoping to feel better again tomorrow, but I am not pushing it. I intend to rest and get over the busy day I had today.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015


What’s on my workdesk this Wednesday? As usual I’m between projects! – so it’s a dumping ground. Well, quite a tidy one really – I just dumped the stuff on it last night when I was going to bed.

WOYWW 330 30-9

Working round the desk: top left you can see the first card in my 2015 Card Factory. Next to that, at the back, is a pile of pieces of packing foam that came in the post with a parcel the other day – I shall be blogging about this in a day or two if you can restrain yourselves in your curiosity! The little green scrap of card beside them is part of that.

In front of that, the Turkish Delight box no longer contains Turkish Delight unfortunately (several years ago it became part of Shoshi) and it now contains my drawing pens.

Beside that is my new Florabunda Zentangle book that I won on Neil Burley’s blog and on top of it are the drawings I have so far done. Again, I will be blogging about these in due course. I am having such fun with this, and when not feeling too well but well enough to do something, this is something I can do from the comfort of the recliner.

As I can with my adult colouring – on the right of the desk you can see my latest effort (not my favourite picture but quite fun to do), and again I shall be blogging about that.

Beyond that, on the right, are the purple scraps from the purple goodies I made for our neighbour recently. I’m about purpled out now, and it will be nice to move onto some other colours, much as I am a fan of purple!

Health Update

I saw the oncologist as usual last Thursday, the day before my chemo treatment (and also went up to the unit to have my usual bloods). She was, as always, most concerned about the peripheral neuropathy, a side effect of the chemo which has to be carefully monitored because unchecked, it can lead to permanent nerve damage and lifelong symptoms – something we obviously want to avoid. She said that unfortunately the only way of mitigating it was to reduce the chemo dose and since this has already been done twice, I didn’t think it would be possible again. However, in view of the fact that I only had 2 treatments to go, and research shows that people undergoing chemo post-surgery as a mopping-up operation do just as well on a reduced dose at the end as those who do not, she proposed reducing the last 2 treatments by 50 percent! I was pretty amazed at this. So this is what happened on Friday, and all went OK.

Saturday I didn’t feel too bad because of the steroids, but on Sunday and Monday I felt terrible and fairly demoralised, thinking that the reduced dose wasn’t making any difference. The peripheral neuropathy was much better, though, and I soon left off my gloves. I was able to do a few short stints in the studio over the next few days which pleased me a lot, and by yesterday I was feeling a lot better. OK, I feel spaced out, weak and shaky but not so desperately poorly in a general sort of way as I would normally be feeling at this stage in the cycle.

I am highly delighted to be feeling so much better, and able to do some things! I am now looking forward to feeling a lot better after my final treatment on 16th October, and getting back in the kitchen again and starting to look after my hubby after all this time that he’s been looking after me! He has done a great job but I feel the time rapidly approaching when I want to start cooking real food again instead of ready meals, and sorting the kitchen out!! I expect the resumption of my domestic duties will pale after a while but how I’m feeling now about resuming them, now the end of all this is in sight, has to be a good thing! I am feeling very upbeat and positive.

Have a great creative week, everybody, and happy WOYWW.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Card Factory 2015–Purple Embossed Birthday Card with Tag

I have started my latest card factory. My stash is empty, and I am fed up with realising it’s someone’s birthday in a few days’ time, or someone needs a get well card or whatever, and having to work to a deadline. I thought if I could make up a good collection of cards I’d always have something ready when I need it. Most of them will be relatively simple.

19 Completed Card

My first effort is as a result of the pieces I cut before, to make finished cards 5 inches square. I embossed a whole sheet in error and didn’t use it, so that is my starting point for this card.

The first step was to ink the embossed piece of white card. The embossing was done with my Cuttlebug, using Tim Holtz’ “Damask” embossing folder, and I inked it with Shaded Lilac distress ink, using an Inkylicious Ink Duster.

01 Inking the Embossed Background

Next I heat-embossed the raised surface with clear embossing powder, applying the Versamark with my brayer.

02 Clear Embossing

I inked the piece again, this time with Seedless Preserves distress ink, using the Inkylicious Ink Duster, and went around the edges with Dusty Concord distress ink, using a home-made blending tool. I rubbed the ink off the embossing resist using the purple kitchen paper, very slightly dampened.

03 Inking Over the Clear Embossing

Now it was time to start on the tag holder, to be stuck down to the bottom part of the card. I took a piece of scrap white card, an offcut from when I was cutting the blank 5 x 5 in cards, and trimmed it to size.

04 Preparing to Make the Tag Holder

I took the piece of kitchen paper which I’d been using to mop up purple ink, and which had matured to the state when it was usable for backgrounds etc. I separated the two layers of kitchen paper (you get double for your money that way!!) and cut one piece in half. I laid down a fairly thick layer of regular matt gel medium onto the piece of card, and scrumpled up the piece of kitchen paper as I laid it down on top. I added more gel medium to the top surface, making sure it was well stuck down.

05 Applying the Kitchen Paper with Gel Medium

I dried it a bit with my heat gun and when it was ready to be handled, I trimmed off the excess with scissors, and then dried it fully.

I inked around the edges and on the surface, by rubbing the Seedless Preserves distress ink pad directly onto the surfaces, and then blended in the ink with the Inkylicious Ink Duster, to cover up any white, and any gel medium that was showing. I dried it again with my heat gun.

06 Inking the Tag Holder

The final step was to rub on some Treasure Gold gilding wax lightly with my fingertip to highlight the raised surface of the piece. It has a lovely deep texture and a lot of lustre.

07 Treasure Gold on the Tag Holder

I cut a tag using my new Tim Holtz “Labels” die set, using some of the purple paper that I’d stuck down onto card, for my recent purple projects for our neighbour.

08 Die Cutting the Tag

I inked the back of the tag with Seedless Preserves distress ink, using the Inkylicious Ink Duster, and the edges with Dusty Concord distress ink, using the home-made ink blender. I flicked water onto it with the tube from my water spritzing bottle, left it to stand for a minute or two and blotted it off.

09 Inking the Back of the Tag

I felt that the edge of the tag holder needed something to give it more definition against the card background, so I took a scrap of recycled cream gold-edged ribbon from my stash, and cut it to length, and then cut it in half lengthwise. I think this ribbon came off an Easter egg! I never throw anything like this away – it all goes in my stash.

10 Cutting the Ribbon for the Tag Holder

I used the extra-sticky red-backed double sided tape to stick it around the edge of the tag holder. Tip: to store these rolls of tape, whose edges get extremely sticky and make the rolls stick together, I always separate them with a square of waxed paper.

11 DS Tape on the Ribbon

The gold-edged ribbon in place along the top edge of the tag holder.

12 The Ribbon on the Tag Holder

To neaten the back, I stuck down a strip of card to cover the frayed edge of the cut ribbon.

13 Finishing Off the Back of the Tag Holder

The tag holder glued in place onto the card. I used Scotch Quick-Dry Adhesive which is a good strong wet glue. I slipped the tag behind the holder to show how it would go.

14 Tag Holder Glued in Place

Next the matting and layering of the card. I inked the edges of the card base with Shaded Lilac distress ink and the Inkylicious Ink Duster, and then matted the card with gold mirror card and two shades of purple cardstock.

15 Card Matted and Layered

Stamping the inside of the card. I used a “Happy Birthday” sentiment stamp from the Stamp Barn (No. CHSH 238E), using Dusty Concord distress ink, after I had lightly inked around the edges of the inside of the card with Shaded Lilac distress ink and the Inkylicious Ink Duster.

16 Stamping the Inside of the Card

To stamp the sentiment on the tag, I heat-embossed in gold, using the “Birthday Greetings” sentiment from my Stampin’ Up set “Wetlands.”

17 Stamping for Tag

The completed tag. I added some purple ribbon and some fancy yarns with a touch of told in them.

18 Completed Tag

The completed card, with the tag in place.

19 Completed Card

This card was slightly more complicated to make than most of the others I am planning on making in the Card Factory, but I wanted to use the embossed sheet I had, and I already had all my purple stuff still out!