Wednesday, 28 February 2018

WOYWW 456

Not a lot on my desk today because I cleared it last night. I can’t tell you why there’s a CD case on my desk today – it’s part of my mystery project, which, by the way, is coming on nicely.

WOYWW 456

I can show you a work in progress background for the mystery project.

234 Inside Back Cover Inking and Stencilling

The next picture is not part of the mystery project but a spin-off from it.

233 Inside Back Cover Cleaning off the Stencil

I’ve been experimenting a bit with my Distress Stains. I’ve got loads of them but rarely use them because I don’t like the delivery system – the dauber top gives a really streaky result. Some time ago I came across a tutorial on how to remove the dauber and transfer the contents into a spray bottle, and I’ve wanted to do this for ages. I think I will get more use out of them in this form. I put a couple of colours in spray bottles and eventually I think most of them will be transferred. The above samples were produced initially by cleaning off the stencil, and I added more ink pad and Distress Stains – not sure what I’m going to do with them yet. In real life they are quite shimmery, with the Delicata White Sparkle stamp (which is more silver than white) and the Antique Bronze Distress Stain.

A few days ago the new rack arrived for my craft boards. I wrote a post about it here. It’s lovely and substantial and works a treat.

01 Rack for Boards

Here it is in position. Already I am finding a huge difference, having the boards in the rack, and the partitioned box for all my bits and pieces.

02 Rack for Boards in Use

It’s so cold again today! Whatever I do I can’t seem to get warm. We are getting most unusual snow in Torquay – we are more accustomed to mild weather which suits our palm trees! Here’s a view from the bedroom window earlier today.

04 From Bedroom

Everyone goes on about the snow in such a negative way. I know all about falls and broken hips, and burst pipes, and traffic problems… but I can’t get over my childhood excitement at the sight of snow and how magical and beautiful it is.

The forecast says we’ll get most of the snow tomorrow, and then it should get warmer.

Kitties

On Sunday I was alone in the house and heard the most almighty bang, and thought a bomb had gone off in the street! Then I remembered the kittens were running around upstairs, so I went up to investigate. This is what I found in my hubby’s room.

01 Someone's Been Naughty 24-2-18

It was a beautiful heavy glass bowl that had been given to him as a present by our old church in Plymouth when we left in 1999. I think it was Ruby. Lily was wandering around on the landing looking smug, as if to say, “It wasn’t me…” and then Ruby appeared, looking scared and guilty!! I told them both that I’d come closer than ever, today, to selling them on Ebay.

Here are a couple more videos.

On Sunday, the kittens were 9 months old! I can’t believe how fast the time has gone, and how big they now are.

A few days ago, we were a bit concerned about some new behaviour – they’ve had several spats, with growling and hissing, and Ruby arching her back and turning her tail into a bottle brush. My hubby thinks she’s trying to assert herself and become the boss cat. Up until now they’ve been nothing but loving with each other – two sweet little sisters who have always got on, so it’s a bit disturbing. Yesterday and today, however, they seem to be back to normal. I suppose it’s all part of growing up.

Health Update

I now have a date for my operation – Wednesday 28th March. I have to turn up at 7.30 a.m. – horrendously early! However, I’m not going to believe it’s actually happening until they pump the anaesthetic into my arm, going by their past record for postponements. I shan’t know until the day whether they will agree to give me a PICC line from the outset. If not, I shall insist on having one the moment the first cannula fails as I don’t want a repeat of what happened last year.

On the letter it tells me I will be in four nights. This is a standard letter for this sort of operation and doesn’t really mean much, as they will always judge each case individually, and given my previous experiences, it’s likely that I’ll take a bit longer to recover than the average, because of my ME. Also, like for the first operation in 2015, I shall be in over Easter, and this means that four nights on will take us to Sunday morning, which is Easter Sunday, followed by Easter Monday which is a bank holiday, and last time, the same thing applied, and there was nobody to discharge me until the Tuesday, when the pharmacy also re-opened, and they won’t send you home without your drugs. So I think I shall be in for a minimum of 6 nights.

My hubby is going back to the fracture clinic tomorrow. Hopefully they will tell him he can drive again. Yesterday the car went in for servicing and MOT, which means it should also be in tip-top condition for its return to the road, just like my hubby haha!

So we’ll have a few weeks of normality before I go into hospital. We are going to enjoy it while we can, and if the snow permits it.

Meantime, I am cracking on with my mystery project in the hope that it will be finished before my operation.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Studio Organisation - Rack for my Craft Boards

As part of the mini-re-organising of my desk, I have bought a rack to hold my various craft boards so that they are tidy, easily accessible, and take up less space. Up until now they have been in a heap, and the one I wanted was always at the bottom, of course. When I got my new scoring board, this was so large that it was not convenient to store it flat.

I found this rack on Amazon. It is metal, and quite substantial, and has three nice wide slots so it will hold a lot. It is really designed for kitchen chopping boards but I thought it would be ideal in my studio.

01 Rack for Boards

It has nice non-slip feet too.

Here it is in situ, with my boards in place. The photo was taken from the side. Above it, you can see the cup hook with my two heat guns hanging – another space-saving idea. The cables are a bit of a pain but there’s not a lot I can do about that.

02 Rack for Boards in Use

There is room for the Cuttlebug in front, and I have also pushed the partitioned wooden box a bit further to the right, giving me a few more inches to play with on the desk.

In the rack, from back to front, I’ve got my new purple scoring board, a smaller Crafter’s Companion scoring board, my Tonic Stamping Platform, my envelope punch board, my paper trimmer and my ATC glue gun.

I think this is going to work really well.

I am thrilled with the partitioned box too – this is already paying dividends with everything within easy reach, instead of constantly falling off the shelf. I’ve taken the home-made ink blenders out of the ice cream box and put them in this box instead as they are in constant use.

The pull-out unit on the right is now freed up for cutting. I’ve also got some boxes of paper scraps on there at the moment but they aren’t a permanent fixture.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

WOYWW 455 Reorganising my Desk

Last Thursday I went to the craft show in Exeter and had a truly wonderful time – a real treat after a pretty horrendous couple of months recently. You can read about the craft show here, and see all the fabby new stash I got to play with.

Since then, I’ve decided to have a clear-out in my studio and to reorganise my desk a bit, partly to make room for new things, and also because certain aspects of it have been rather frustrating. There’s a long way to go but at least I’ve made a start.

For this WOYWW, I’ve done a couple of annotated photos. The first one shows the normal view of my main work area. You can see that I’ve put my ironing pad over the top of my mystery project which is still literally under wraps! I’m progressing slowly with it – not so many opportunities this week, what with the craft show, and needing to recover for a couple of days afterwards.

WOYWW 455A Annotated 21-2-18

On the brown shelf unit above the desk you can see my various carousels for frequently-used things. I used to have a lot of odd things on there as well – small bottles of glue, the odd rubber stamp, etc., and every time I revolved the carousels these things would fall off. When we cleared my parents’ house I rescued various things from Dad’s workshop and among them was the partitioned wooden box now on the right of the desk. It was filthy, but after I’d scrubbed it with hot soapy water and left it to dry, it was quite respectable, and it now contains these bits and pieces, close at hand and more tidily stored.

I also screwed a cup hook onto the side of the eye-level shelf unit above this, and have hung my two heat guns on there. This frees up desk space and keeps the cables tidier, but they are still easy to reach. The wooden shelf right at the top (just visible in the photo) usually has the box of embossing folders on it – currently on the desk because I’ve been using the Cuttlebug plates that also live in there, and I’ve also got rid of the CD storage box that used to be up there, which held some very old clear stamps, which are now filed away with the rest of the stamps on the rail. At the craft show I got quite a few new dies and now have too many to go in the original box which used to be on the shelf unit top-left in the photo, so I’ve now got them in a similar box to the embossing folders, and they will live side by side on the top shelf above the desk.

On the far right of the desk you can see my new purple scoring board that I bought at the show, stacked up with my other boards (envelope punch board, paper trimmer etc.). These used to be lying around flat, taking up space, and always the one I wanted was at the bottom of the heap! I have ordered a nice rack from Ebay, designed for storing chopping boards in the kitchen, and this will be used for storing these, making them easier to use and keeping things tidier.

This photo shows the pull-out unit to the right of the main work area, and shows things better organised now. The RUBs (Really Useful Boxes) with card scraps are only being used temporarily for this, in an attempt to keep things tidier and free up the unit for its original purpose as a cutting station. The boxes of ribbons used to sit on top of a plastic unit with 2 drawers that used to be where the Cuttlebug and wooden box now are – this unit, and the ribbons, were not in constant use. The unit is now stored on the top shelf above the desk, and the ribbons need to find another home.

WOYWW 455B Annotated 21-2-18

The far side of my studio (sewing area) has been an absolute tip for months. I got a whole lot of knitting yarns out when I started knitting the socks before Christmas. This project went into abeyance when everything went pear-shaped with my hubby breaking his leg and Mum dying etc., and I need to finish that second sock, so that I can tidy up again! The mess is driving me nuts.

Another thing I’ve been doing this week while resting on the recliner is to go back through a lot of old posts on my blog, and replace the photos. For some time they were all linked to my Photobucket album, but when I had too many photos on there I had to subscribe to the pro version, and after a while I let that lapse, so the photos disappeared. I’ve still got a huge number of posts to work through, but again, at least I’ve made a start.

Even this small change in my desk organisation has made a huge difference – freeing up space, things more easily accessible, tidier and calmer environment! Let’s hope it lasts because I’m not the tidiest of workers!!

Now that’s sorted, I am hoping to crack on with the mystery project this week.

Kittens

What is it about kitties and boxes?

15 Both in Chewdled Box 20-2-18

They are still enjoying chewing this little cardboard box. However much I sweep up, there are always bits of cardboard all over the carpet.

Today I managed to make a start on editing some of the kitten videos that have been mounting up for a while. Here are a couple to keep you going. More next week hopefully.

Ruby really enjoys walking around the back of this wooden chair. This was filmed on 1st January.

The two of them wrestling on top of the cat tree! I was scared they’d fall off. The whole thing rocks about and one day I think they are going to have it over, but fortunately the base is very heavy and it’s withstood their attentions so far! They have pulled off quite a bit of the fur, though, and it now has some bald patches. This one was filmed on 14th January.

Marbles in the Sunshine

Yesterday a friend came and spent the afternoon with me. She had just been to the House of Marbles and had treated herself to a small bag of marbles, really inexpensive, and so pretty! When I laid them out on the table, I was struck by how beautiful they were with the bright sunlight shining through them, and had to photograph them.

Here’s the full set.

01 Complete Set

Here are some of them, photographed individually. I was very intrigued by how the light is reflected on the opposite side of the marble from the light source, and how the colour and reflection shows in the shadow in each case.

02 Clear Green Marble

03 Clear Red Marble

A very pretty veined marble.

04 Clear Veined Turquoise Marble

This one was clear blue glass, encrusted with glass fragments to create an interesting sparkly texture.

05 Encrusted Blue Marble

This one had been sand-blasted and had that gorgeous silky feel, like sea glass.

06 Sand-blasted Blue Marble

Laying the sand-blasted one in front of the clear red one, see how the colour is transferred from one to the other. An interesting shadow too, with an extra bright spot.

08 Clear Red and Sand-blasted Blue Marbles

It would be interesting to try and draw these. I had a bit of practice drawing Zengems and this made me observe more closely how light behaves with transparent objects. Time to get the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil going again!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Craft4Crafters Show 2018 in Exeter

01 Craft4Crafters Show Guide

Yesterday I went to the Craft4Crafters Show at Westpoint in Exeter. I was thrilled to be taken by a friend and her mother, and another lady came too, and along with my wheelchair and a box for purchases, it was a good thing they had a big car!

This was the first time I’d been to a craft show for several years. Last year I was ill, ditto 2015, and during other years I was reluctant to ask my hubby to drive me because he was already doing so much for Mum and looking after me, and hardly had time to enjoy his retirement after he stopped being so busy with work. This year he would have driven me, except he’s still not driving after breaking his leg. Anyway, thanks to my lovely friend, I got there this year, and I had the most wonderful time. After the previous couple of months being so horrendous, this was a real treat for me, and my credit card had a real outing too!!

Now I’ve got my mojo back, I was keen to find things to help with current projects, in particular my mystery project – and I was looking specifically for dies, stencils, papers… Before we went, I had been on the show website and made a list of the stands I definitely wanted to visit, and also a list of things I wanted to buy – alongside this, I made a list of things I’d already got, so I didn’t inadvertently buy any duplicates; for instance, I wanted to stock up on some of the new Distress Oxides I hadn’t yet got. I went armed with my little notebook with the lists, and this was a great help, because it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything and lose track of what you went for!

The first stand I visited, I found a Hunkydory scoring board (in glorious purple!) which I simply had to have – for years I’ve been using a Score Pal one but it hasn’t got enough lines on it and they are always in the wrong place for what I want. This new board has inches on one side, with divisions every 1/8 in. and on the reverse, centimetres, so everything is covered.

01 Score Board

It is quite thin, and has a handle on top, and I think I may store it vertically which will take up less space. I’m thinking of having some sort of rack to store my various boards – envelope punch board, cutting mat, paper trimmer etc. so that I can pick them out as I need them, rather than having them floating around on the work surface, with the one I want at any given moment always being at the bottom of the heap. I need to do some serious studio reorganising, I’m thinking.

I stocked up on loads of double-sided tape (very cheap in bulk, three different widths) – I’ve been getting through loads of that recently, especially with my mystery project. I also got some more plain heavy white cardstock for card bases.

02 White Cardstock and DS Tapes

On the website I’d seen an intriguing tool I was very keen to look at – a Gyro-Cut, which is a craft knife with a rotating blade and an erganomic handle. I was able to try it out and loved it! After trying some basic cuts, I attempted cutting around a more complex stamped image, and the man said I’d done a very good job for a first attempt! So in my bag it went.

03 Gyro-Cut

In the discount package I got with this tool, I got a bottle of glue for making the cutting mat tacky, to hold the paper in place while you cut. He said one coating was good for many repeated uses, and it could also be used on the back of stencils to hold them in place, and it would leave no residue on the unglued surface. I asked if this would be suitable for electronic cutting machine mats and he said yes – many people asked him this. It is water-based, and easy to apply. I have always used 3M spray photo mount for this and it’s horrible to use – really smelly, and hard not to get it on the surrounding area, and initially it makes the mat much too sticky, which damages the work when you try to remove it. I think this new glue will be very useful indeed, and he said that the bottle would last for ages, but I could always get more from their website.

04 Sticky Mat Adhesive

Blendy Pens – these amazing water-based pens can be attached together so their colours blend, and as you use them, the colour gradually changes. I’m not quite sure how I am going to use these yet, but they were so intriguing, especially as in the kit was a little bulb-operated air brush which can be used with other pens as well, and he threw in a pack of stencils too. I shall have fun playing with those. Exploring online, they seem to be directed exclusively at children, and I can’t find any info or videos showing adults using them for serious artwork, but I think they have potential.

05 Blendy Pens

I got another Really Useful Box (4 litre size) to store my growing collection of Distress Oxides – it will fit nicely on the shelf with the other two that I keep my Distress Inks and Archival Inks in.

06 Distress Oxides and RUB

On the left-hand side, stacked up, are the Distress Oxides I already had (the complete set of the initial launch), and laid out are the new Distress Oxides I got yesterday. I didn’t want to get others in the range because several seemed very similar, but I think I have now got a good representative collection colour-wise.

I got some very nice mixed media stencils.

07 Mixed Media Stencils

Leaf dies, frames, backgrounds, doilies, edges etc.

08 Dies

I particularly like the two doily ones, because they are made up of several dies that can be used together, or separately, or in different combinations, giving you lots of options for different borders etc. I’ve not had a lot of experience dealing with this sort of thing and I’m looking forward to experimenting.

I found some gorgeous quilling dies – something I hadn’t come across before – you cut them out and roll the pieces up with a quilling tool to make really quick flowers. I want to make a lot of these for my mystery project.

10 Quilling Dies

I didn’t buy the only stamen die they had left – the pretty ones were old out, and anyway, I can use something different. One option is just to roll up a plain strip, giving a flat surface onto which you can attach a gem or other suitable flower centre. The lady on the stand gave me a personal demonstration of how the flowers are constructed.

They also had dies for making easel cards, but the dies can be used for other purposes as well. Like the doily dies above, there are several in the set, and you can mix and match, and create mats, borders, windows, delicate frames, etc. etc. Again, I can’t wait to experiment with these. Leann Chivers, who designed them for Crafters’ Companion, and whose Facebook video I’ve linked to above, produces so many variations with stunning results.

11 Easel Card Dies

I got an absolutely gorgeous 8 x 8 paper stack by Trimcraft (who I’d never heard of before) called “Gilded Winter” – all very subtle beige and cream with gold, glitter and embossing, and some double-sided. Fabulous patterns.

12 Gilded Winter Paper Stack

Here are some examples of the papers.

13 Gilded Winter Example 1

14GILD~1

15 Gilded Winter Example 3

16 Gilded Winter Example 4

17 Gilded Winter Example 5

I bought a few separate sheets of 12 x 12 papers with a weathered wood plank design which will make fabulous backgrounds for projects. They are double-sided with a surf wave pattern on the back which I’m not so interested in but it’s very pretty. These are by Kaiser Craft and they are from a collection called Sandy Toes! They were produced in Australia, where they certainly know all about sand and surf.

18 Kaiser Craft Sandy Toes Collectiob 12 x 12 Papers

I bought a mixed pack of Wendy Vecchi’s Clearly for Art which I’ve wanted to get my hands on for years, and a small pack of vellum. The pack of silvery glitter card was a freebie thrown in with some of the Distress Oxides that I bought.

19 Clearly for Art, Parchment and Freebie Glitter Card

Finally, a few oddments – I only bought one stamp, a peacock feather one which I really liked. Some stencil glue (bought before I saw the sticky mat glue) and some fabric glue, some gold embossing powder and a set of fine tip applicator bottles. That about wraps it up!

19 Feather Stamp, Glues, Glue Applicators and Embossing Powder

One thing I’d been looking out for, and which seemed in very short supply, was punches. Last time I went to a craft show there were lots to choose from. I am missing a few in my series of incremental circles and was hoping to fill these gaps, but I can always find them online, I expect.

I am going to have So Much Fun playing with this lot!

As for the rest of the show, there were quite a few demonstrations going on but I didn’t spend too much time on them because there was so much to see and we didn’t have much time. Also, especially at the beginning, there were so many people crowding around and I couldn’t see anything at all from a sitting position. I did stop at one a bit later when the crowds had thinned out somewhat – this lady was creating tiny miniature canvases with a paint pouring method that looked like marbling, using thinned-down gesso into which she poured different colours of fluid iridescent paint, and after minimal stirring she poured this over the canvas with beautiful results.

14 Marbled Mini-Canvas Painting Demo

On her table she had lots of pieces that she had made, not just with this technique but mixed media, and she was happy for me to photograph them.

15 Marbled Painting Examples

16 Shabby Chic Mixed Media Canvas

17 Butterfly Mixed Media Canvas

Gorgeous, aren’t they.

This was a beautiful altered book she’d done.

18 Mixed Media Altered Book

I didn’t take as many photos as I’ve done at previous shows, but several stands caught my eye – mostly textile ones, although I didn’t buy anything in that line this time. There were some stunning quilts.

06 Quilts and Fabrics

04 Quilts, Fabrics and Trims

These juicy colourful trims caught my eye.

03 Multi-Coloured Trims

Aren’t those Paisleys just delicious? There was also quite a bit going on with Indian textiles – braids and trims, sari fabric, etc. I photographed some beautiful embroidered panels. Lots of gorgeous bright colours!

05 Embroidered Panel

07 Four Embroidered Panels

Other interesting textile pieces included some smaller items made from patchwork.

08 Patchwork Christmas Baubles

09 Patchwork Christmas Trees

You can see that it was mostly vibrant bright colours that caught my eye!

The same felt makers were there that I’d seen at the County Show – as usual they had their stunning Lion and Lamb hanging which I’d seen several times before (I took this photo on a previous occasion):

27 Peace in the Valley Felted Picture

This year they had a new one – St. George and the Dragon!

10 St George and the Dragon in Felt

I took a photo from the side as well, so that you could see just how 3-dimensional this is:

11 St George and the Dragon - Side View

It’s huge, as well! A fantastic piece of work. Is there anything people can’t create?

There was a stand dedicated to MosaiCraft – what the man described as miniature Lego – you press tiny cubes of plastic onto a spiked grid and make a mosaic following a chart rather like cross stitch. While this wasn’t something I was interested in doing, their stand was quite impressive:

12 MosaiCraft Stand

Apparently you can submit a photo and they will pixilate it, and create a chart for you, and make up a kit with all the tiny pieces you will need to make it.

I loved their disclaimer – also made with this method:

13 MosaiCraft Disclaimer

Nice Celtic knot panel above it, too, and how about that amazing tiger?

I had to photograph the sign for this stand, simply because I loved the lettering.

09 Inspirations Handicraft Sign

One one of the papercrafting stands, there were lots of stunning cards that people had made from the various products – so inspirational! When I see stuff like this I think that I could actually enjoy card making more than I do…

02 White Window Card with Gold Border

01 Floral Window Card

(The card in this photo, like the white one in the photo above, had a window – when I edited this photo I removed what you could see through the window (part of the wall behind, which was distracting) and replaced it with black. I love how the flowers and leaves trail across the aperture.)

One of the cards (which I didn’t photograph) had a piece of embossed acetate over the aperture, which caught the light and sparkled. Beautiful! Soooo many ideas…

It was all laid out pretty well, with most of the papercrafting stuff near the entrance, and the textile stuff (quilting, embroidery, sewing, knitting and yarns etc.) towards the back of the hall, so that people could concentrate on their particular areas of interest without having to search high and low for the stands they wanted to visit. There were other stands dotted around, with miscellaneous things not necessarily related to craft – Cats’ Protection was there, and Bicton College (agricultural), the RSPB, and a man demonstrating a knife-sharpening tool; there were herbs and spices, and sweets, and some beautiful clothes, and kitchen ware. I recognised the man on that stand because a couple of years ago I bought a set of kitchen knives from him at the Devon County Show – I proudly showed him the scar where his amazing bread knife nearly took my finger off in September 2016!! I told him that I used three or four of the knives at least once a day, and how pleased I was with them.

The four of us split up so we could do our own thing, and arranged to meet for our sandwich lunch, and again at the end, but we did keep bumping into each other along the way!

I was impressed how many disabled people there were at the show. It’s great to know that however limited one’s mobility may be, one can still be creative, and often one has more time for it when more active pursuits are out of the question. Before I was ill I hardly had any time for it. They had buggies that you could hire for the day but I was happy with my wheelchair which is more compact. So many people came up to me and complimented me on my wheelchair decorations and quite a few wanted to know how I’d done them. I get a lot of comments every time I go out, but at a craft show or an art exhibition, the comments tend to be more informed, and there is more appreciation of the amount of work involved.

44 Wheelchair with Spoke Guards

After having such a rough time recently, today has been a real treat. It was so great being amongst all those lovely folks too, all with a common interest, and we had some nice chats with various people. Altogether a really good day out.

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