Friday, 30 July 2010

More Experiments with Boring Gold Card and Other Backgrounds

I've just had a go at the last piece of boring gold card, which I'd embossed with the Cuttlebug - the one on the left in this picture:

Embossed Gold Card

Here it is now:

Black and Gesso

and a detail of it:

Black and Gesso - Detail

What I did was to heat emboss the raised embossing on the card, by rubbing the versamark pad gently over the surface. As usual, even after using my anti-static pad, this was far from perfect! Anyway I went ahead and heat embossed it in black. It didn't look too bad, but it was a bit stark, so I painted gesso over the surface, and then before it was dry, I rubbed it away with a piece of kitchen paper, leaving it in patches. Then I used a small pad to ink over the top with archival black ink to pick out the raised embossing again. Finally I scrunched up a piece of kitchen paper and used it to ink lightly over the whole surface with archival black ink to dull down the white gesso slightly.

After completing this, I thought I'd take one or two photos of the experimental background cards I've done recently.

Misc Papers 1

Misc Papers 2

Here's a detail:

Misc Papers 3

Finally, here is another card for my Card Bank (on the right in the photo below), embossed with the Cuttlebug folder "Miniature Mosaic" which gives a lovely leather-like effect when inked with brown shades. In this case I used Tim Holtz Distress Inks first in Rusty Hinge, and then dulled down with Pumice Stone.

Papers 29 Jul

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Experimenting with Boring Gold Card and Other Stuff

Remember my boring gold card?

This is what a couple of the sheets looked like after I'd embossed them with the Cuttlebug:

Embossed Gold Card

I decided to have a go at altering the text one, so I covered it with gesso, using my palette knife. I wasn't sure how well it would go on, because the surface is pretty shiny. While it was still wet, I scraped the gesso off the embossed surface (not very successfully but I quite like the effect), and then when it was dry I tried sanding it a bit, but didn't want to remove the gold surface as well, so I abandoned that.

I then inked the edges using Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Pumice Stone (this colour is rapidly becoming my favourite!) - I discovered that these inks do not work particularly well on gesso, which seems to act more as a resist, but I redid it several times till I got the effect I wanted.

The surface wasn't very stable because of the shiny surface of the card (will have to think about how to enable more of a "key" without destroying the gold surface) so I decided to try stabilising the whole thing with a coat of gel medium. In the starter pack of Golden Gel Medium, I've only got the medium (as opposed to soft) one in semi-gloss and not in matt, so I didn't get the effect I really wanted, but it's quite interesting - it's really aged it and given it an ancient parchment look. It did dull the gold quite a lot, but when the light catches it, you still get a little flash here and there. Here's the result.

Embossed Text with Gesso

I thought this might serve very well for a background for a tag or small picture on a classic literature theme - it might be rather fun to do a series. The first one that sprang to mind was while I was watching the new series "Sherlock" on TV (Sherlock Holmes set in modern times) and I thought perhaps some iron work, in the form of a gas lamp and and iron spiral staircase, and the suggestion of a door with "221b" on it, and a brass knocker? With the addition of a little more distressing I might get the effect of London fog. I wouldn't want to overdo the Sherlock Holmes cliches of deerstalker hats and magnifying glasses, but I think this might work!

Another in this series could be based on Jane Austen, with a bit of Georgian architecture - a door or a window, perhaps, and maybe a bit of ribbon or lace.

Then there's Shakespeare - endless possibilities here!

I'm not sure I want the discipline of working very small with these. Perhaps the European size A6 of this test piece, or down to tag size, but I think an ATC might be too small, because the text would be too large in proportion. As miniature pictures they could all be mounted together in a frame.

Otherwise perhaps they could be made into a scrapbook or mini-album.

Just some ideas!

I've also been working on a "card bank" - the thank-you card I posted the other day was the first of these - I made a dozen partial-embossed cards using different Cuttlebug embossing folders. The only other one I've worked on since then is this one:

Embossed with Gesso and Distress Ink

I wanted to see what the result would be of applying gesso over embossed card. I don't think it's emphasised the embossing, but it gave it a lovely chalky texture. I decided to distress it a bit, but as I discovered with the gold card above, the Tim Holtz Distress Inks don't seem to work on gesso - it seems to act as a resist. It did darken it a bit, especially after several applications, and I rather like the slightly dusty, smokey look of the Pumice Stone (yes, that one again!) against the dead white of the gesso, and the way the bottom of the card, where I did not apply the gesso, has a lovely distressed look, and where I smudged the gesso at the bottom of the embossing, it's acted as a resist and shown up my boo-boos which I think actually improves the look of it!

I've had another idea today. Yesterday I bought two watches - one was really pretty, and if you bought 2, you got the second one a quarter the price. The trouble was, there wasn't really another one I liked that much, but I succumbed to "bargain psychology" and bought another one anyway! I then started regretting it. Then I had the idea of altering it! Here it is in its original state.

Watch for Altering

At the moment, I'm not actually producing much real ART, but just experimenting with what is a very new area for me. This blog is helping me keep a record of what I did to produce certain effects. It's probably a very vague, undisciplined approach but unlike many people, I don't have much knowledge of these materials yet, and have no training, so I am enjoying simply experimenting. Some may work, others will not. Anyway, I am ending up with some interesting backgrounds which I may or may not use - I may repeat the techniques when I want to do specific projects.

If anyone has any helpful input on this, I'd be interested to hear it. Perhaps you know what works and what doesn't, and can save me some angst! Although, of course, this trial and error method does throw up some unexpected results which I might not discover if I do what I am "supposed" to do!

I am hoping to get a Cricut Expression and SCAL2 software soon, and I think I'm going to hold off using these backgrounds until I get going with that - I need to be able to cut shapes accurately to make the embellishments etc. Hopefully there will be more on this as time goes on - so watch this space!!

A Busy Day, Some Good, Some Bad

Second post for today!

We had to go into town today to have my new lenses fitted in my glasses - I had my eyes tested a couple of weeks ago and they had to order the lenses in, and they cost me an arm and a leg lol! We had an hour or so to wait for them to do it, so my hubby sat on a bench with his book and I trundled off to browse around the shops - not something I get the opportunity to do very often.

I had such fun! I bought some new sandals, and some fudge for my mum, and enjoyed just looking around, and there was a busker playing the guitar really well... It was a lovely sunny day, and we'd had a nice lunch out together at Wetherspoons.

I discovered it was market day, and I found this brilliant stall with lots of pretty things on (mostly jewellery) and round the side were these 2 wooden boxes with spools of ribbon in them - really soft, subtle colours and patterns, 3 metres on each, for £3 each, and some gorgeous little hearts and things to use as embellishments, in the same soft colours, made of (?) wood with a lovely soft satin feel to them. I bought 3 rolls of ribbon and 4 of the embellishments, and tucked the bag in the carrier-sling-type thing under my Rolls Royce (wheelchair) with the rest of my shopping, met up with my hubby and went to collect my glasses. Then we went home, and on the way, called in on my mum and dad for a cup of tea in the garden with them.

Then home. Looking at my shopping. Where was my little bag with the ribbons and things? GONE!!!!! I asked my hubby to check in the car to make sure it hadn't fallen out in there. I've got to ring my parents in the a.m. to see if they've found it. If not, it means it could have dropped out anywhere in town.

Not only will I have lost something soooo gorgeous, which I've hardly had a chance even to look at properly yet, but that's £14 down the drain. Grrrr. I'm SO CROSS. (In view of my previous post, still trying to find a positive outlook on this one!)

My dear hubby said to me, "If they don't turn up, why don't you go in next week and buy some more?" I might just do that - if the lady has restocked the ribbons, because I chose the ones I particularly liked... I really resent wasting that money though!

A Positive Attitude

I've always maintained how important it is to keep a positive attitude when you are ill with a chronic condition, and to try and turn things round and look at them in a different way. Life is full of problems for everyone, and it's not the problems that are the problem, if you understand me - it's how we deal with the problems!

Yesterday I went to the supermarket to do the weekly shopping, and as usual I asked for someone to help me pack, get a trolley and push my shopping out to the car for me, and load it in. This time they found a lovely lady who works there, called Pearl - she's always so friendly and helpful, and we had time for a little chat. We talked about this business of being positive, and she said there's a gentleman who shops there regularly, and she often asks how he is, etc. and always feels depressed after talking to him! The day before, he'd been in and she asked how he was, and out came the tale of woe. She said "I got a bit cross with him, and said 'Well, you woke up this morning, didn't you? You can breathe unaided [her mother died of lung cancer and took a while over it too], you can walk, you can do your own shopping, you've had a long life...'" She said he was a bit ashamed after that! I know it's a cliche, but there's always someone worse off than yourself.

A case in point - my friend Nilly on the Brainfog forum has M.E. like me, and at the moment she also has a slipped disc and is in great pain and virtually bed-bound. Yet she is so positive! There's quite a lot going on in her life at the moment, yet she's always there on the forum ready to give a cyberhug to anyone who needs it, and to encourage, advise, reach out and comfort others. She even said the other day that she was worried that she was being selfish!!! (She was definitely shouted down for that one lol!)

Anyway, I follow her blog - see her on my blog list - Vanillalemoncake. I don't usually make a post out of a new post on a blog that I'm following, but today I thought I must! Just take a look at what she's doing. This post of hers is awesome. If you are not already following her, please do!! She's so creative, as well as being so lovely!

http://vanillalemoncake.blogspot.com/2010/07/creative-for-second-or-two.html

(I've had a busy day out today and used up all my spoons, so no ART today, no ironing, no more done on my DLA form... See you tomorrow, hopefully!)

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Gorilla in Your House

Someone on the Brainfog forum reminded us of this today, so I thought I'd share it with you on here. It was originally posted on the BBC "Ouch" Disability forum and it resonates with so many of us with chronic conditions that most people don't begin to understand...

Are you ready for this? It might make you think about things a bit differently!!!

The Gorilla in Your House

1335031856_gorilla-finger

Acquiring a disability is a bit like getting home to find there’s a gorilla in your house. You contact the approved and official channels to get rid of infestations of wild animals (in this case, the NHS) and they umm and aah and suck air in through their teeth before saying something roughly equivalent to “what you’ve got ‘ere, mate, is a gorilla, and there ain’t really a lot what we can do about them, see…” before sending you back home to the gorilla’s waiting arms.

The gorilla in your house will cause problems in every part of your life. Your spouse may decide that (s)he can’t deal with the gorilla, and leave. Your boss may get upset that you’ve brought the gorilla to work with you and it’s disrupting your colleagues, who don’t know how to deal with gorillas. You’re arriving for work wearing a suit the gorilla has slept on. Some days you don’t turn up at all because at the last minute, the gorilla has decided to barricade you into the bathroom or sit on you so you can’t get out of bed. Your friends will get cheesed off because when you see them—which isn’t often, because they don’t want to come to your house for fear of the gorilla and the gorilla won’t always let you out—your only topic of conversation is this darn gorilla and the devastation it is causing.

There are three major approaches to the gorilla in your house.

One is to ignore it and hope it goes away. This is unlikely to work. A 300-lb gorilla will sleep where he likes, and if that’s on top of you, it will have an effect on you.

Another is to try and force the gorilla out, wrestling constantly with it, spending all your time fighting it. This is often a losing battle. Some choose to give all their money to people who will come and wave crystals at the gorilla, from a safe distance of course. This also tends to be a losing battle. However, every so often, one in a hundred gorillas will get bored and wander off. The crystal-wavers and gorilla-wrestlers will claim victory, and tell the media that it’s a massive breakthrough in gorilla-control, and that the 99 other gorilla-wrestlers just aren’t doing it right due to sloppy thinking or lack of commitment. The 99 other gorilla-wrestlers won’t have the time or energy to argue.

I have known people spend the best years of their life and tens of thousands of pounds trying to force their gorillas to go away. The tragedy is that even if it does wander off for a while, they won’t get their pre-gorilla lives back. They’ll be older, skint, exhausted, and constantly afraid that the gorilla may well come back.

The third way to deal with the gorilla in your house is to accept it, tame it, and make it part of your life. Figure out a way to calm your gorilla down. Teach it how to sit still until you are able to take it places with you without it making a scene. Find out how to equip your home with gorilla-friendly furnishings and appliances. Negotiate with your boss about ways to accommodate, or even make use of, your gorilla. Meet other people who live with gorillas and enjoy having something in common, and share gorilla-taming tips.

People get really upset about this and throw around accusations of “giving up” and “not even trying.” They even suggest that you enjoy having a gorilla around because of the attention it gets you (while ignoring the massive pile of steaming gorilla-turds in your bedroom every morning and night, not to mention your weekly bill for bananas). The best way to deal with these people is to smile and remind yourself that one day, they too will have a gorilla in their house.

Posted by Mary, Thursday, April 10, 2008

Some Replies…

“The official bodies to get rid of your gorilla will all disagree about the exact type of gorilla he is and try their best to re-classify him as a very small tame monkey.”

“The gorilla isn’t being nasty or anything. It’s just being a gorilla and doing what gorillas do.”

Anonymous cheryl said: “Oh, my! I read your blog and I can so identify with your situation. I was diagnosed w/ Epstein Barr Virus in 1994 after dragging around for years. I was told that I was ‘very, very ill’ but that nothing could be done to help me. I ended up trying Reiki which I think helped, but what I think really helped me was changing my diet, taking loads of vitamins, visualization, and the passage of time. It took me about 2 years after diagnosis to start feeling human again, and I still have times where it’s impossible to haul my exhausted self out of bed, but it can get better.

“Hang in there, and don’t buy in to the idea that this is what the rest of your life will be like. I am here to tell you that it can get better, even though 99.9% of the people in your life will never understand what you are going through. Be good to yourself, especially when ‘they’ are telling you that you’re just doing all this for the attention you’re getting.

“All the best!”
Saturday, May 10, 2008 3:11:00 AM

Blogger Mary replied: “Cheryl, while I thank you for a comment that I am certain was meant in the most kindly way, I fear you may have missed my point.

“‘Hang in there, and don’t buy in to the idea that this is what the rest of your life will be like. I am here to tell you that it can get better...’

“That’s what I mean by trying to force the gorilla out.

“I’ve accepted life with the gorilla—if the rest of my life is like this, that’s okay. I have a boyfriend, friends, a loving family, a job, hobbies and interests… these are the things I spend my spoons [energy rations] on, and because of that, there’s nothing so horribly wrong with my life that makes me desperate to ‘get better.’ The gorilla is a pain in the backside, sure, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.

“Sure, it would be nice to be pain-free, to be able to go for a walk, to be able to do a full-time job. But I’m not prepared to get in debt—financially or ‘spoons’ wise—chasing ‘cures’ and following diets in the hope of something which might work. I prefer to spend my resources enjoying life in the now.

“That way, if my condition improves, it’s a bonus, which seems much better than pinning all hopes on getting better and being constantly disappointed.”
Saturday, May 10, 2008 7:32:00 AM

Blogger Amy said… “Ah, the gorilla analogy is just as good as the Spoon Theory! Wonderful job. Next time my teacher tells me, ‘You’re awfully young to have so many health problems. It makes me wonder what else is going on,’ I’ll tell her that a gorilla is stealing all my spoons. That should quiet her. Ha ha.”
Thursday, May 22, 2008 5:57:00 AM

Mary (Location: United Kingdom):
ME is a chronic neurological illness. WHO classification ICD10 G93.3. If you don’t want to plough through the technical gubbins, my very basic understanding of the condition is that I got severe ‘flu and a bunch of other viruses, and my immune system screwed up, and I’ve not recovered since. Which has been annoying. As for me…26-year-old knitter living with my boyfriend and my robot vacuum cleaner.

If you want to know more about the "Spoon Theory" mentioned above, go here:
http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jn5IBsm49Rk

Although the lady who thought up the Spoon Theory has Lupus, it can apply to any chronic disabling condition.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Thank You Card

I've made a card to say thank you to the lady who gave us such a lovely lunch on Thursday (for whom I made the Gable Box). Last night, I made a dozen simple cards with partial embossing, using my various Cuttlebug folders, so that the upper part of the card is embossed, leaving a plain strip across the bottom for a sentiment stamp etc. These are all done on plain white cardstock. I have decorated the edge of the embossing above the plain bit with a couple of scored lines using my Scor-Pal. I am planning to make a "card bank" (nice phrase! Thanks Nilly, aka Vanillalemoncake, whose blog I follow), so that I've got a good stock of non-specific cards which can be simply stamped or embellished to make them specific to an occasion. I always seem to be racing against myself to get the next card done for whatever occasion, and I don't always have the time or energy to do one, so if I've got an emergency supply, it should help!

Anyway, here's the thank you card I made:

Margaret's Thank You Card

The embossing is done with the Cuttlebug embossing folder "Stylized Flower," which I then inked using Tim Holtz Distress Inks in Spun Sugar, Victorian Velvet and Bundled Sage. I then picked out the stems using a Marvy Le Plume Pen (No. 15 Olive Green) but it was a bit strong, so I added water with a fine paintbrush, and then picked up some of the ink from the pen on the brush and painted it on.

The embellishment was made with a couple of circle punches, and I inked the inner one, which was cut from one of my old duplex cards and was a very crude bright pink - darkening it with some Distress Ink in Pumice Stone. I then stamped it with Pumice Stone, using a rubber stamp of two stylised cats, but it didn't come out very well as there wasn't enough contrast. It would have been better if I'd used my gold stamp pad, as this would have shown up better, and also co-ordinated with the scalloped circle which was cut from gold card. I assembled the embellishment and then attached it to the card using dimensionals.

Having searched high and low for a rubber stamp with a simple "Thank You" sentiment on it, I decided to write it by hand, so I used the Marvy Le Plume Pen (No. 63 Wine), and added a shadow using another Marvy Le Plume Pen (No. 64 Plum) and added a few little hearts for good measure.

On the subject of this elusive rubber stamp, if anyone out there can help me find one, I'd be very grateful! What I am looking for is: preferably an unmounted rubber stamp (not a transparent one), either an individual one or a set. I want the words "Thank You" - two words, not one, occupying a single line, minimum width 2 1/2 inches but preferably a bit more, with a height to be in proportion,, which will produce a nice linear effect to fill the space at the bottom of these cards. I'd like a fairly simple font with no embellishment or additional elements. I want to keep it as simple as possible so as not to detract from the rest of the design of the card.

I spent some time this evening looking online for such a stamp, and have come up with absolutely nothing suitable. I was very surprised because I thought they'd be two-a-penny, but there are sentiments for absolutely everything and anything you could desire - but very few saying "Thank You." Do we really live in a culture where saying "Thank You" is so very rare? If so, it saddens me.

When I eventually get my Cricut, I can see myself cutting this sentiment a lot! Meantime, a stamp would be lovely.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Gable Box

I am grateful to Regina Andari of Splitcoast Stampers http://www.splitcoaststampers.com/resources/tutorials/gablebox/ for the template and instructions for my project of today, a "gable box" - a small box with a top which looks like a roof, to contain a small gift.

We have been invited out to lunch tomorrow (actually, later today! - I'm still up at 1 a.m.!) by a very special family friend; I wanted to take a little present for her and thought the usual box of choccies could be improved upon somewhat, so I made this to contain some choccies instead!

1 Margaret's Gable Box Front View Small Size

It's really hard to get the colours exactly right on the photo, particularly in artificial light, and especially when the colours are very subtle, and blended, but I think you can get the idea.

I made the box from a piece of buff coloured cardstock, and the side panels were cut from a lighter shade of beige. These were then decorated and applied.

The flower was made from some bits from the big bunch of silk flowers I bought for a song at our village fete recently. The centre was made from a small pink flower which I spritzed with Tim Holtz DIY glimmer mist (Spun Sugar and Perfect Pearls). The outer part is made from a wrecked bright yellow chrysanthemum - still lots of that one left for future use! which I sprayed first with some more DIY glimmer mist, this time using Pumice Stone, and then a little in the centre, using Chipped Sapphire. I had to be very careful with this as it's a very strong dark blue colour. Applied onto the dulled yellow of the flower, it turned a lovely shade of green. Of course, the whole flower has a slight iridescence to it from the Perfect Pearls in the glimmer mist. This piece of silk chrysanthemum was then crumpled up in the centre and glued. I also added a sprig of red twiggy stuff from a large bowl of potpourri on our sitting room table! (Too good not to use!)

2 Margaret's Gable Box Side View 1

Before assembling the box, I inked the top part and the corners of the box with a little Tim Holtz Forest Moss Distress Ink, darkened with some Pumice Stone Distress Ink. I added some rubber stamping on the handles, using Tumbled Glass Distress Ink, the blue blending with the green to produce a darker green.

I then decorated the panels by applying some colour directly from the stamp pads onto my glass craft mat, using Distress Inks in Tumbled Glass, Spun Sugar and Bundled Sage, which I then spritzed with water, and laid the panels face down to pick up the colour. I dried them with the heat gun, and repeated the process until I was satisfied with the depth of colour. I then used one of Tim Holtz's small masks (swirl) and applied Forest Moss and Pumice Stone Distress Inks to reveal the pattern. After this I rubber stamped the panels using Tumbled Glass, which turned slightly green over the greenish background. Under the flower there are some leaves stamped using Bundled Sage Distress Ink.

I inked lightly around the edges of each panel using Pumice Stone Distress Ink, applied the flower to the front panel, and then glued the panels to the sides of the box. I cut the handles using a circular punch - the instructions specify an oval punch but I do not have one of these. The finishing touches were the ribbon to hold the handles together, and the small butterfly - and, of course, the choccies inside, with pink tissue paper scrumpled up on top.

This is a very nice shaped box, and easy to assemble. There is no template to print out; the instructions are just for cutting, scoring and folding, and then glueing together. It was cut from a single piece of card.

3 Margaret's Gable Box Back View

4 Margaret's Gable Box Side View 2

Monday, 19 July 2010

Swing Card

This is a card which I made today for my cousin's birthday. She is an expert card maker so I needed to do something she would appreciate! It is a "swing" card - when closed, it is flat, and the matted card with the stamping and sentiment is to the front. When you open it, by pulling the left and right sides apart, the central portion "swings" around so that the back is visible, which is where the message is stamped. It stands freely in the semi-opened position.

Pippa's Birthday Swing Card

Pippa's Birthday Swing Card Open

The main card is made of heavy hammered white card which I heat embossed with clear embossing powder, after which I inked it with Tim Holtz Distress Ink (Wild Olive) which revealed the embossed leaves. The clear embossing therefore acted as a mask. I continued this decoration onto the inside of the card, and inked very lightly around the edge of the moving central part.

The central part is matted with scraps of my dreadful lurid duplex card (see previous post) - I never thought the bright pink and lime green would go together, but it's amazing what a bit of distressing will do to reduce one's own distress! I inked the lime green with Wild Olive Distress Ink, with a touch of Pumice Stone Distress Ink, and the bright pink border was inked with Victorian Velvet Distress Ink. The leaf and sentiment was stamped with Victorian Velvet, as were the sentiments stamped inside.

The embellishment consists of two of the remaining purchased paper flowers from my Explosion Box project - the upper one I cut down slightly. I then spritzed them with Tim Holtz DIY Glimmer Mist in Pumice Stone for the darker one, and Spun Sugar and a tiny touch of Wild Honey for the lighter one. I distressed the tips of the petals with the Wild Olive Distress Ink pad, and fastened both flowers to the card with a bronze-coloured metallic brad. The trails were cut from very thin strips of brown card from an offcut, and curled against a knife.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Altered Duplex Card

I have got a couple of projects to do this week, one of which is a gift for our hostess when we go out for lunch next week. I thought I might do her an All-in-One Box like I did quite recently; this requires duplex card because as you fold it, the lid reveals the reverse side. That's all very well, if you've got some nice duplex card with colours which co-ordinate well.

When I started basic papercrafting some years ago, I bought quite a bit of card, mostly mixed packs, which were really not very nice at all - there was the odd sheet in each pack which was acceptable, but the rest have just been gathering dust, and I thought I might just throw them away.

Since progressing in earnest recently, I realise that many things can be redeemed with a bit of imagination! Tonight I decided to take some of the less acceptable duplex card combinations and try and make something of them - if it all went wrong, it was no great loss!

The colours are extremely bright and harsh, and not at all the sort of thing I would normally want to use. Starting with such a strong colour is a disadvantage, of course, because it alters whatever you put on top. However, I'm quite pleased with the results, but because of the strength of the colour, the duplex nature of the card isn't really improved - the two sides still do not co-ordinate as well as I would have liked. Having done a few sheets, I've decided to use the best of each side independently, and in future maybe to paint a thin layer of gesso over the more objectionable colours to tone them down a bit, at least, or to give me an entirely new, white, surface to work on.

Despite the awful colours, this is really quite good quality card - nice and heavy, with a slight texture, and it does seem to tolerate quite a lot of water and ink and rubbing to blend the colours, so I think this is worth pursuing.

The first one I tried was a totally awful crude bright orange (not my favourite colour!!) - at first the results were less than satisfactory, and at this point my hubby came in, and pulled a face! I said "It's not ready for comments yet!" and I felt pretty uncomfortable, experimenting under his watchful eye! After a few minutes he said, "Would you like me to get you a nice plastic bag and you can throw it straight in and I'll get rid of it for you?" I said no, I hadn't finished, and wasn't giving up yet!

With that one, I dropped some Tim Holtz distress inks onto my glass mat and sprayed them with water, and then laid the card face down onto the ink and moved it around. This did get quite a lot of colour onto the card, but it wasn't very easy to control, so for the others, I sprayed the card, and then dropped ink onto the wet card.

While the card was still wet, I laid some crinkled cling-film on top and scrunched it about a bit. I then dabbed it with kitchen paper, and dried it a bit with my heat gun, before applying more colour in the same way.

The colours I used on the orange card were Stormy Sky to start with - this was very dark, and looked almost black at first. I added some Chipped Sapphire, and then some Rusty Hinge and a small amount of Barn Door. The Spun Sugar I added was a bit too pale and didn't really show up, but a little Victorian Velvet helped a bit. After I'd blended the colours by spraying water and rubbing with kitchen paper, the result wasn't too bad, for a first effort at least.

Orange

After working on the orange side, I turned the card over and started working on the bright turquoise side. (Whoever thought turquoise co-ordinated well with bright orange??? Yeuuch...) For this one I used some Rusty Hinge which went a nice green colour, and quite a bit of Tumbled Glass, as well as the residue of the other colours from the orange side which were still on the glass mat. I think this will make quite a nice background for something - maybe an aquarium theme.

Turquoise

After that, I started on the ghastly lime green one (another of my non-favourite colours!) which is white on the reverse, which is at least half-way OK. I'm really very pleased with the result of that one! I did it mostly with Rusty Hinge and Barn Door, and got a very pleasing green by adding Tumbled Glass (blue) which blended well with the yellowy-green of the background. A few spots of Victorian Velvet added another element. I think this one would be a lovely background for stamping leaves onto - an autumnal theme. It also co-ordinates fairly well with the orange one, so perhaps I could use elements from both in a project.

Lime Green

It was quite hard getting the colours right in the photos - the results are not perfect, but I think you get the idea. Doing global colour adjustments didn't work as each time I got one element right, the rest would be "off." In the end, I selected and adjusted the colour balance of each element of the photo separately.

All three would look good with some gold heat embossing. I am also keen to try one of my new gel mediums in the trial pack that I got - the "tar" one which you can "drizzle" over a surface, and it leaves a continuous trail. This can be coloured with the addition of acrylic paint, or metallics, to good effect. Could be interesting!

I shall try doing some more of them when I get the time and energy, but I think I am going to have to use something else for our friend's box.

The other awful colour combinations in that fateful pack of duplex card are:

A darker turquose with a very pale, washed out greeny-colour (how much better it would have been to co-ordinate the two turquoises together!)

The same darker turquoise with pink - this is the one I used for my first All-in-One box - just about acceptable with the addition of embellishments made from the "opposite" colour on various elements of the box.

Yet more of the darker turquoise, this time with the same lurid lime green which is twinned with white. These are truly dreadful together!

I think the guy they let loose in the paper factory where they turned this stuff out must have been colour blind. If not, he had no excuse and deserved to be made to swim in his own dye vats!!!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Random Jottings

Just read this on the ARTHaven group:

"A hug is a great gift - one size fits all!!!"

Isn't that lovely? (Thanks, Nina.)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Altered Mounting Board

Yesterday I rummaged through my store of mounting board which I bought many years ago when I thought I might do the framing for my hubby's watercolour paintings. (This proved a lot more difficult, and a lot less fun than I thought, so I didn't pursue it. After all, our creativity is supposed to be Fun, isn't it??) I had thought of giving it all away, but I have been told that it makes a very good firm substrate for all sorts of surface treatment, while being easy to cut, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

My first attempt is on dark brown, which perhaps wasn't the easiest choice. I decided to use my new Tim Holtz mask (the large swirl) but wanted it in white, so against his advice to throw away the background sheet when you push the mask out for first use, I thought I'd try using it as a stencil. It was rather difficult to get it to lie flat as it was pretty unstable, and I had to rescue one or two "floating" bits to complete the design. I'm not sure I shall do this again, but I've kept the piece just in case.

01 Stencil

I went over the stencil with a white acrylic paint dauber from Tim Holtz's range, and was quite pleased with the result. I then spent the rest of the evening messing about trying to get the effect I wanted - with varying degrees of success!

First of all, I chose a few background texture stamps and stamped randomly over the background using Ranger Archival Ink in black. I included the image when I stamped with my "cracked" effect stamp.

02 Background Stamping

I then worked with the felt applicators, building up layers of Distress Inks in various colours.

03 Distress Inks

These are the colours I used:

04 Distress Inks Used

I added a bit more stamping using the Archival Ink, and finally I sprayed it with DIY glimmer mist made from Perfect Pearls (Perfect Pearl colour) mixed with Wild Honey and Pumice Stone Re-Inkers respectively, and this had the effect of diluting what I'd already done with the Distress Inks, so I went over it again after the Glimmer Mist was dry.

05 Glimmer Mist

I'm still not entirely satisfied that this is the look that I want. I think it needs more ink.

I'm also not sure what I'm going to do with it. I could keep it uncut, and build up some surface decoration with texture and embellishments, or I could cut it into smaller pieces to make ATCs, which I would then likewise decorate. To do the latter, I have made a small "window" the size of an ATC, cut from a scrap of mounting board, which I can move over the surface of a larger piece, to isolate the piece(s) which look best for an ATC - I can then draw round the window and cut them out.

Any suggestions would be welcome!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Boring Gold Card

Several years ago, when I was dabbling in card making and before I got obsessed - sorry, I mean serious - about it, I ordered some gold inkjet card which I thought might be useful. I never really used it because it was boring - somewhat dull rather than shiny, and not a very nice colour of gold either, so along with various other things, it lay around gathering dust. Now I am getting hold of some decent stuff, I've been thinking about getting rid of things that haven't been used for years, but as I am learning more, I realise that there is endless potential in even horrible stuff, with a bit of imagination, and "altering" skills!

So today I thought I'd have a go at improving this awful card so that it can become useful and not useless.

Here it is straight out of the pack (the colour didn't come out quite right on this photo):

Boring Gold Card

I cut the sheet into 4 and started embossing with my Cuttlebug.

Embossed Gold Card

Already a vast improvement! Then I got busy and came up with this on the other two pieces:

Embossed and Coloured Gold Card

Before colouring, I inked the raised embossing on the paisley one with a black ink pad, and then heat embossed it with clear embossing powder. I then filled in the paisleys with my Marvy Le Plume Pens. On the other one, I coloured in the background, to enhance the embossing.

I probably won't consign the Boring Gold Card to the bin after all. What do you think?

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Video about M.E.

Here's a video a friend has just told me about, which points up some of the problems we have to deal with as far as M.E. is concerned.



Of course, not all people with M.E. suffer the same symptoms that Bond Girl suffers from - the symptoms are many and varied, but several are shared by us all (the post-exertional malaise, overwhelming exhaustion, pain in varying degrees, sleep problems etc.).

After my busy day at the SW Disability Show yesterday I'm suffering payback today, and have spent most of the day resting, but that's OK - I'm not prepared to simply stop doing things I enjoy just because they make me worse! The secret is striking the right balance and not consistently overdoing things, which will have a serious knock-on effect - the occasional bit of rash enjoyment is always worth it!!

One day this disease (not a "syndrome") will be recognised for what it is by the medical profession and by health ministries and governments. Until then, we must continue the fight to spread correct information, to inform, and to educate. Please spread the word. We need you.

Friday, 9 July 2010

South West Disability Show

Today I went to the South West Disability Show at Westpoint, Exeter. I went last year as well. It's on a much smaller scale than Naidex, the big national one held each April at the NEC, Birmingham. Being smaller, it's easier to take on board, and there's little danger of missing anything.

As soon as I went in, someone said “I saw you last year!” This is because I'm so recognisable (once seen, never forgotten??) with my Rolls Royce wheelchair with its flowers! In fact, everywhere I went, I heard the word “flowers!” following me!

Cropped Pic of Me at Tim and Sarah's Wedding

(This was taken a couple of years ago at our nephew's wedding.)

I saw several people I knew, and also met some new people. There was a super lady who was trying out a scooter - actually it was more like a boy racer motorbike! It had an evil looking front with a headlight, chrome, go-faster-stripes, and came in a snazzy dark red colour! It was her face that said it all. She had a smile that met round the back, and she zipped off in it at high speed, and the blokes on the stand said “we were told to get rid of all the scooters at the show - that one's disappeared for sure, but we were supposed to be selling them!!!” She and I then had a race, and she managed to scare a policeman! This lady had a beautiful daughter who looked after her - there was such a special bond between them that was lovely to see - a very caring, special young lady. Then came the question as to whether she could actually afford this scooter, and she said “I could always sell my husband!” - he was standing there - and I said yes, but the scooter wouldn't make you a nice cup of tea, would it!

I had a lovely chat with a couple over lunch - she was severely disabled with MS and she had a wonderful caring husband. It made me think - there are so many of us who depend on our loved ones for the support and care that we need - these are the unsung heroes of our society who care for disabled relatives day in, day out, with very little recognition, given the huge expense they are saving the nation.

The Global Leather glove man was there again, and he recognised me from last year too! We had a nice chat. I noticed a deterioration in his health since last year, and he finds many aspects of his disability to be very restricting, but he still manages to run his business. I bought a new pair of gloves to replace the ones that are now falling apart after much use! He said that some people complain that his gloves fall apart. He said if you walk long enough in shoes, they fall apart, too! Wheelchair gloves take a lot of punishment. I'd rather have gloves that eventually fall apart than hands full of blisters.

I met a lady with a prosthetic leg, and she had nail art on the toenails! Brilliant!

So many really lovely people to meet and chat with, disabled and able bodied alike.

It was a long, tiring day for me. I am now practically horizontal on the recliner, having had a cup of tea (courtesy of my wonderful hubby bless him!!!) and a sleep. It was well worth going, though, as it's an opportunity to see the latest equipment and keep up to date with what's going on.

Here's what I saw when I was leaving, as part of the display of a local firm who supply adapted vehicles. This is the very latest in ramped access vehicles, complete with the latest lightweight sporty wheelchair. (Note the nice authentic touch of the rust on the vehicle!)

The Latest in Adapted Vehicles - SW Disability Show 9 Jul 10

Orders, anyone?

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Two Get Well Cards

I have two friends who need cheering up and a bit of TLC at the moment. One is in hospital having a bowel cancer operation, and the other is a 96-year-old gentleman who is having a hip replacement. They are both very much in my thoughts and prayers at the moment, and I thought they would like to receive a hand-made card.

For Val I have made this:

Val's Get Well Card

I embossed a panel for the front of the card, using my Cuttlebug with the Stylized Flowers embossing folder. The embellishment was cut using two punches, one a plain circle and the other scallopped. The edges were lightly inked with Tim Holtz Distress Inks and the centre was rubber stamped. The embellishment was mounted on dimensionals. The text around the edge was written by hand, and the sentiment was a rubber stamp on a small piece of card, which was also lightly inked with Tim Holtz Distress Ink.

For the inside, I printed the text on the computer, and then sprayed with hair spray to fix the ink - not brilliant as it did bleed a little, and there is also a smell of hair spray when you open the card!! (I think I'd better get some artists' fixative, lol!) I then sprayed it with Tim Holtz DIY glimmer mist in two colours - spun sugar and forest moss distress reinker with perfect pearls. The edges were inked with distress inks using the ink tool, in forest moss and Victorian velvet, with a touch of Pummice Stone.

Val's Get Well Card Insert

The paper wasn't that great quality, and it did curl quite a bit when damp. Actually I quite like the wrinkled effect, as it looks a bit like old parchment now it's been distressed! This insert has now been folded and glued to the inside of the card.

I can't remember where I got the poem about Cancer, but the words are so beautiful, and I know that they will really ring true with her. The words are probably too small to read on the photo, so here they are:

WHAT CANCER CANNOT DO
Cancer is so limited...

It cannot cripple love,
It cannot shatter hope,
It cannot corrode faith,
It cannot eat away at peace,
It cannot destroy confidence,
It cannot kill friendship,
It cannot shut out memories,
It cannot invade the soul,
It cannot reduce eternal life,
It cannot quench the spirit,
It cannot lessen the power of the Resurrection. (Anonymous)

For Eric I have made a more "manly" card.

Eric's Get Well Card

Eric's Get Well Card Inside

For full details of materials and techniques, please see the video.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Ooops!

Today I've been trying, without success, to set up separate pages on my blog, to separate out the various subjects, to make it easier to browse. While I managed to do this initially, I ran into trouble when I tried to transfer the posts from their original place into the new pages. I managed to copy my first "Views from Shoshi's Settee" into a page of the same name, but of course it had today's date on it, when in fact I originally posted it back in May.

I decided to delete the page and start again. The problem is, the page has disappeared, but the copy of the post has not! It is now sitting in today's date, and I can't get rid of it. I have tried clicking on the edit button, and am informed that the post "does not exist." So I think I'm stuck with it!

I must say I'm pretty fed up with Blogger. Once I'd got it set up it hasn't been too bad, just posting away with no problems, but I had awful problems initially, setting up a new background, and had to have help (bless you Renee!) with that. Every time I try to do something new, to make it work better for me, it proves either very difficult or impossible. The whole system is totally un-user-friendly and I don't find the "help" very helpful either! A lot of knowledge is assumed.

If any of my lovely followers have any tips as to how I can get rid of this copy post I've created, I'd be very glad. Also any clear instructions as to how to transfer old posts into new pages without losing their original dates would be much appreciated too!

Grrrr. Waste of an afternoon messing about with this, and I'm no further forward - in fact it's worse.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

All-in-One Box

Yesterday we were invited to a party by a couple who were celebrating 50 years of farming. They had insisted on no gifts, but would appreciate a donation to the Devon Air Ambulance - an organisation that does wonderful work locally, rescuing people from accidents and illness in inaccessible places.

I said to my hubby that a cheque in a boring envelope wasn't much fun, so I'd make something prettier to put it in! I found a tutorial and downloadable template for this "All-in-One Box" and decided to make that.

Here are some pictures.

All-in-One Box 1

All-in-One Box 2

All-in-One Box 3

All-in-One Box 4

All-in-One Box 5

All-in-One Box 6

All-in-One Box 7

Here is the video I made, to show the box in action:



Credits:

Wendy Weixler:
http://wickedlywonderfulcreations.blogspot.com/
SplitCoastStampers:
http://www.splitcoaststampers.com/resources/

Both these sites have the downloadable pdf template and instructions to make this box.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Tim Holtz DIY Glimmer Mist

I haven't posted for a few days because I've been trying to deal with a backlog of videos I've done - loads of editing required, and not much space on my hard drive! This first one is part of an afternoon I had experimenting with my new Tim Holtz stuff. I decided to follow his Youtube tutorial on making your own glimmer mist with his distress inks and perfect pearls. I really had no idea how this would turn out - but in the end I wasn't too disappointed!

Although my first attempt is a bit blotchy, the colours are lovely, and this technique gives the most gorgeous silky feel to the cheapest of card. I tried doing some on black, which you will see on the video I've done on using Tim's masks (not yet edited) and although it's got a nice shimmery finish and again feels lovely, the colour hasn't shown in the way I wanted, unfortunately.

It seems to be pretty much trial and error, but that's exciting in itself, because you don't know what you're going to end up with!