Sunday, 15 July 2018

A Remarkable Find

It seems to be the season for rediscovering long lost things for me at the moment. As I described in a previous post, I recently had returned to me a little book which I thought I had lost for good. Then, this evening, another discovery from the past came my way, of a different nature.

My hubby and I were watching “The Antiques Roadshow” on BBC TV this evening, and someone brought along a rather intriguing picture from the Arts and Crafts Movement, of a seascape in enamel, surrounded by a repousse frame made of silver, depicting various forms of marine life, and a circular-shaped piece of mother-of-pearl inlaid at the bottom. Embossed in the silver were the first two lines of a poem, “The sea hath its pearls/The heaven hath its stars,” which rather intrigued me for some reason, so on the spot I decided to google this and see if I could find the entire poem.

The first site I visited was “Writing and Ruminating: One Children’s Writer’s Journey.” I discovered that the poem was Das Meer hat seine Perlen by the German romantic poet Heinrich Heine, translated into English by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as follows:

The sea hath its pearls,

The heaven hath its stars;

But my heart, my heart,

My heart hath its love.

Great are the sea, and the heaven;

Yet greater is my heart,

And fairer than pearls or stars

Flashes and beams my love.

Thou little, youthful maiden,

Come unto my great heart;

My heart, and the sea and the heaven

Are melting away with love!

On the site, I also discovered a painting of the same name, which had been inspired by he poem, by William Margetson, and English artist who lived from 1861 to 1940. On another site I discovered that the painting was purchased from the artist by The Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1897, where it still resides.

The Sea Hath its Pearls by William Margetson

As soon as I saw this picture, my heart leapt. I had completely forgotten about it, but many years ago my grandmother had a reproduction of it in her home in Cambridge, where we spent many happy holidays. She came to live with us in 1963 when I was 10, and I don’t remember seeing the picture after this, so presumably it was among the many things she had to sell when she moved.

It was always said in the family that the young lady in the picture bore a striking resemblance to my grandmother when she was young, just after the First World War, probably because of the colour of her hair. Looking back, I remember now that I always believed that it actually was a picture of my grandmother!

Nanna 1918

I decided to make a new desktop wallpaper with this. Using a combination of Serif PagePlus (my desktop publishing software) and PhotoPlus (photo editor), I created a blue background on a layout to match the proportions of my computer screen. I took one of the texture overlays I created ages ago, from a photo of some tree bark with interesting swirling patterns on it:

Tree Bark 1

and overlaid this on top of the blue background using the “screen” blend mode, and adjusted it until I was happy that it produced a subtle wave-like pattern in the blue, which would not interfere too much with the visibility of my desktop icons. I added the painting as a new layer, resized it and moved it to the right-hand side and added a vignette effect to it so that the edges would fade into the background. I exported the whole thing as a new image and set it as my desktop wallpaper.

The Sea Hath its Pearls Desktop Wallpaper

Now I can enjoy it every day.

To stumble across this picture out of the blue like this, is amazing, and I feel as if a long-lost treasure has been restored to me. Isn’t the Internet wonderful? It is such a beautiful picture, and it ties in with my love of the sea, and my own lifelong delight in finding treasures on the seashore – maybe not actual pearls, but certainly many beautiful shells and stones, sea glass and driftwood, and it links me back to the past, with happy childhood memories.

This has quite made my day.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

WOYWW 475

My desk on Tuesday night. I’ve got another busy day today.

WOYWW 475 11-7-18

I have just finished the little red heart – details below. Beside it is the mopping up sheet of kitchen paper which is maturing nicely – once all the white is covered, it will go in my box of inked/painted kitchen papers to be used in projects.

On the left you can see my new 10p mug tree with all my tapes on it! What a bargain.

Not a lot of deskivity this week – too busy, too tired, too hot!!

This is my desk as it was on Monday when I was working on the heart. Here I am painting the pieces ready for assembly.

02 Painting the Pieces

Remember the woodgrain heart I made for my hubby for our anniversary in May? A friend saw it and loved it, and asked if I could make another one for a couple who are getting married soon – amazingly they share the same initials as my hubby and me so I haven’t had to redesign anything! She wanted it in red and cream, rather than woodgrain and gold, so this is what I’ve done. Here are the pieces, all painted, and the initials backed with small squares of cream card. After this I painted the backs of these with red, because the inside of the heart is visible through the pierced holes.

03 Backing the Initials

Here is the piece finished, with a loop of gold thread to hang it by.

04 Finished Heart

Outing to Tyntesfield

Exterior of House

Yesterday we went to visit Tyntesfield near Bristol, a National Trust house whose renovations we have been following with interest. My hubby went fairly recently with the local history society but it wasn’t an outing particularly suitable for me so we decided to go by ourselves on another occasion. We had a wonderful day. I shall be doing a separate blog post about this once I’ve sorted the photos – this will probably take me about a week because I took so many. How could I not, when the whole place is one great big OTT Wow!

Kitties

The kitties are continuing to be Trolley Dollies. When they come in from being in the garden all day, once they’ve been fed, they are absolutely exhausted and crash out on my trolley at the top of the stairs. There are usually lots of legs and tails hanging over the edges of the trolley and Ruby usually has at least one part of her anatomy draped over Lily!

23 Trolley Dollies Again - Let it All Hang Out 1-7-18

They spend most of their time in the garden just wandering about looking at things, and chasing butterflies, most of which fortunately make their escape – we’ve got lots of butterflies, more than last year, which is good news as they are getting very scarce. We’ve got two buddleia bushes and one is already in full bloom and this is attracting the butterflies. In this hot weather the kitties are not so active and aren’t chasing each other around and playing with things as much, but they are still very tired when they come in! Lily gets very stoppy after supper and demands to be let out again, until she gives it up as a bad job when we refuse, and she takes herself off upstairs and joins her sister to sleep.

Here they are from above.

24 Trolley Dollliees from Above 10-7-18

Food

I’m having a friend over tomorrow for lunch so I thought I’d cook something a bit special – my hubby gave me this fabulous book for my birthday:

01 Book Cover

and I’m gradually beginning to explore some of the recipes. Today I am planning to cook a lamb tagine and a chicken dish, and I shall decide which to serve tomorrow. These things are always best cooked the day before so that the flavours infuse well. Photos later, if I remember to take them! In the meantime, here is my jar of preserved lemons that I made, and which have been pickling in strong brine for several weeks. Apparently preserved lemons are lemons on steroids.

03 Preserved Lemons

Sourdough

After a few disasters, I’ve come to the conclusion that my starter wasn’t as it should be, so I’ve ditched it and started again, and already it looks a lot better. Following what seems to be a tradition among sourdough bakers, I have named mine and she is called Esmerelda. Here she is in all her finery, on Day 2 when she’s already fermenting nicely. You can see her bubbles in the picture.

09 Esmerelda with her Bonnet On

Kefir

Since coming out of hospital I’ve been making kefir and I feel better than I’ve felt for ages since drinking it on a daily basis. I’ve also got my hubby on it and he enjoys it too, and we are hoping it will help his diverticular disease.

Here is the latest batch, just strained and ready to go in a bottle in the fridge, together with my two little jars with the kefir grains in them, ready to be topped up with milk for the next batch.

04 Strained Kefir

Straining some excess kefir to make cheese, which is delicious. You can see the whey collecting in the bowl underneath, and this is full of goodness an useful in lots of recipes.

07 Straining Kefir for Cheese

Kefir cheese ready to eat. It’s delicious, especially on my little sourdough crackers, made from excess sourdough starter.

09 Kefir Cheese Ready to Serve

05 Crackers from Excess Starter 9-7-18

I have done a blog post on my recent venture into fermented foods and you can read about these in more detail there if you wish.

As promised last week, here is my knitting. Still a bit more to do before I think it’s long enough. I am hoping to make some fancy tassels for the ends.]

01 As at 9-7-18

Not sure how many desks I’ll be able to visit this time as this week is turning out as busy as before. Have a great week, everybody.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Adventures in Fermented Foods

Since I came out of hospital in early May after a serious post-operative infection, I have been researching the benefits of fermented foods. What sparked me off was the fact that I was on a high dose of two different oral antibiotics for a couple of weeks after I came home, and it was playing havoc with my gut. I have recently become very interested in the whole new area of research into the gut microbiome and how it profoundly influences our general health, and I have discovered that after antibiotics, it can take two years or more for your gut microbiome to recover, and for some people, it never recovers. This can cause long-term health problems, and not just confined to digestive disorders. We need this vast army of micro-organisms living in our gut to help us digest our food and to keep us in good health, and these ancient fermented foods are enjoying a revival as people recognise just how healthy they are.

There is something wonderful about the link with the past that one feels, when making these ultra-natural, tasty and nutritious foods! Perhaps they were developed originally by accident, from the natural yeasts and bacteria in the environment, but people soon realised that they were an excellent way of preserving foods in the pre-refrigeration age. It is only in our modern scientific world that the facts have been revealed as to why they are so good for us, feeding the gut microbiome which is an essential component of good health.

I think there is something of a reaction going on to the over-processed, over-packaged and additive-loaded foods in Western culture, and people are getting increasingly concerned at the rise in certain diseases now proved to be linked to this unhealthy diet – notably obesity which leads to many serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes which is now reaching epidemic proportions, and bowel cancer, the second largest cancer killer. I am a colon cancer survivor and I wonder if I could have avoided it had I taken greater care over what I was putting in my mouth all those years? – although several of the professionals involved in my treatment reassured me that it was a complete lottery and anyone could get it. We don’t know, of course, just what, and how many, harmful substances are in what we might consider to be “healthy” foods because they are everywhere in our environment, through chemicals in agriculture, etc., and perhaps in the very air we breathe.

Kefir

A friend came over recently, armed with a lot of information for me – she has researched this subject in depth, having suffered considerable digestive problems in recent years, and she is now much better, having adjusted her diet and also started eating fermented foods with all their probiotic benefits. She brought some kefir grains for me to start making my own kefir, which is a fermented milk drink, something like drinkable yoghurt, but containing a much wider variety of friendly bacteria.

My kefir has been going very well, and I’m making a new batch every 24 hours. It’s a good thing my hubby is on it as well now, because otherwise I’d be inundated with the stuff! I have to say that since I started drinking it every day, I have felt better than I’ve felt for ages and my nails have stopped splitting! We are hoping that it will be beneficial for my hubby’s diverticular disease as well. It has numerous health benefits.

Here are some pictures of how I make my kefir.

After 24 hours, sitting on the kitchen counter, covered with a piece of kitchen paper, the kefir is ready to be strained and can be drunk straight away, or decanted into a bottle and stored in the fridge. I have two small glass jars that I fill each day.

01 Kefir Ready for Straining

Here is the kefir being strained into a jug. You can see the grains in the sieve, and the empty jar ready make the next batch – no need to wash it in between. I just wipe around the top of the jar with kitchen paper.

02 Straining the Kefir

Here are the grains closer up. They look a bit like miniature cauliflower florets, or like cottage cheese.

03 Kefir Grains

They are made up of colonies of friendly bacteria and yeasts. In the jar with the milk, they convert the milk into kefir. They feed on the lactose and ferment the milk; many people who are lactose intolerant are able to drink kefir because the grains digest it away. They grow in the process, and I now have quite a lot. I store the spare ones in a jar in the fridge, filled with milk. Refrigeration slows the fermentation down but doesn’t stop it; the grains continue to grow slowly, and once a week I strain them off and replace the milk. I can give them away to anyone who wants them, and when I’ve got enough I am going to try drying them; this way they can be preserved for about a year. It’s always good to keep some spare grains in case something goes wrong and you lose a batch.

Strained kefir in the jug, and the grains replaced in the glass jars ready to be topped up with fresh milk.

04 Strained Kefir

Kefir grows best in whole milk rather than skimmed or semi-skimmed. I read somewhere that the saturated fat in the whole milk is converted into short chain fatty acids which are better for you, but I don’t know the full details of the science of this.

Starting the next batch of kefir. The jars have been topped up with more whole milk. They just need to be covered with kitchen paper or a cloth secured with an elastic band, and stood on the counter at room temperature. It is important not to seal the tops but cover them with a breathable cover, because some carbon dioxide is given off and this gas needs to escape.

05 Starting Kefir Again

It’s all happening pretty fast in this hot weather! Sometimes kefir can take 48 hours to ferment the milk but at the moment it’s ready after 24 hours.

Any excess kefir can be strained through cheesecloth and made into kefir cheese (delicious) and the whey is full of goodness and has numerous uses too. Here is a batch of kefir just after pouring it into a sieve lined with cheesecloth, over a bowl.

06 Beginning to Strain Kefir for Cheese

To keep the flies out (apparently fruit flies love kefir, and you certainly don’t want their eggs in it) I cover it with a plate, and fold the excess cheesecloth over the top. It only takes a few hours for the whey to drip through into the bowl.

07 Straining Kefir for Cheese

I squeeze the last bit of whey out of the cloth once it’s done, and then scrape the cheese from the cloth into a bowl, cover it and put it in the fridge. It is a lovely sharp-flavoured cream cheese that can be eaten as it is, or other flavourings can be added, such as herbs (I haven’t tried this yet).

Sourdough

This is my original starter. I followed some instructions from a selection of websites I found, but without the benefit of many pictures, so I wasn’t sure how it should look.

01 Sourdough Starter 19-6-18

My early attempts at sourdough bread were quite successful, although the starter didn’t seem excessively bubbly or lively.

02 Sourdough Bread 19-6-18

The bread rose well, and seemed to keep its shape quite well after the final proving.

I bought myself some bannetons (proving baskets traditionally used for sourdough), and these support the dough during its final proving.

04 Sourdough Proving in New Bannatons 30-6-18

However, I’ve had a couple of disasters with it recently, with the loaves spreading out and ending up like flying saucers. I found that when I tipped them out onto the baking sheet immediately prior to baking, they would immediately spread, and not keep their shape.

06 Failed Sourdough Bread July 18

Something was clearly going wrong, and I did some further online research, and found some excellent Youtube videos, on how to make the starter from scratch, and how to bake a successful sourdough loaf. There were several things that I wasn’t doing right.

My starter didn’t look right at all, and it had a slightly odd smell, but I didn’t know how it was meant to smell! It did make sourdough bread, even if it was flat and rather tough to eat, but the flavour was still excellent.

I found that if you prove the dough for too long, it will fail to keep its shape. Lately, I was having to prove it for longer and longer in order to get it to rise at all, which made me suspect that my starter was no longer as active as it should have been.

I discovered that you are supposed to remove and discard some starter before you feed it each time, so that it doesn’t end up consisting of too much exhausted material that the wild yeasts have already digested. I wasn’t doing this.

When using my old starter, it was accumulating in volume quite a bit with all the feeding, and I wasn’t making that much bread, and I discovered some good recipes for using the excess to make other things – I made some absolutely delicious pancakes with it, and some savoury crackers.

05 Crackers from Excess Starter 9-7-18

The first time I made these, I forgot to add the sea salt on top just before baking, so with this batch, I added it, but never again – it made the biscuits far too salty! I am trying to scrape them off before eating them and it’s quite difficult – they are stuck on pretty fast!

Like sourdough bread, they are full of resistant starch which is a lot better for you than the high-GI carbohydrate in regular bread, and should be helpful in weight loss too. They are so delicious, and go particularly well with the kefir cheese. They are very quick to make.

I cut this particular batch with a new set of cutters that I bought for about 50p at the recent village fete we went to. They are a series of shapes – fluted circles, stars and hearts, that all nest together inside a box, the top and bottom of which both consist of two cutters! A very clever little design, and I couldn’t resist it!

Cutters 9-7-18

When people discard some starter before feeding it, they often throw this excess away, I think this was rather a waste, especially if you can make nice things with it, which are very nutritious, like the sourdough itself.

A couple of days ago I decided to throw away the remaining starter that I had, and begin again.

You would not normally expect to see much activity until about the fourth or fifth day of feeding, but because the weather is so hot at the moment, my new batch seems to be going berserk with activity even by Day 2!

07 Esmerelda Day 2

08 Esmerelda Day 2 from Top

You can see the carbon dioxide bubbles forming as it ferments – this is just flour and water being acted upon by the natural yeasts in the air all around us, and on the surface of the grains used to make the flour – a completely natural process. It had doubled in size since I started it. All this activity had taken place less than 24 hours after I started it. I began with all whole rye flour and water, and for its first feeding (no discarding of starter at this stage) I used white bread flour, and it seemed to really like that! As stated on one of the websites, after a few hours the starter had subsided quite a bit, but this is normal. I shall continue to feed it and discard some on a daily basis until the weekend, when I am sure it will be ready to use to bake bread. It’s looking much more like the videos than the previous lot ever did.

People online often name their starter – after all, it’s a living thing, needing feeding and watering – so I have named mine Esmerelda! Here is a picture of her, all dolled up for the camera.

09 Esmerelda with her Bonnet On

She is a mere infant – only a couple of days old. People continue to use the same starter for many years and there’s no reason for it to go off if you look after it properly.

For a home baker like myself who is probably only going to bake once a week, feeding an established starter every day is going to produce far too much. I have found out that I can keep it in the fridge, and feed it only once a week. As with the kefir, refrigeration will not kill the bacteria and yeasts but it will slow the fermentation process down, and make it more manageable.

I am quite sure that from now on, I am going to be a lot more successful with my sourdough. The previous batches did taste good, although they were so flat!

Another thing I discovered I was doing wrong, in addition to proving the dough for too long, was that I was not moulding it properly before its final proving. Kneading and moulding the dough encourages the formation of the gluten chains which give the bread its structure. You need to form a “skin” or gluten membrane around the final loaf, to give it some tension and prevent it from spreading. Watching several videos, I have now learned how to do this, and I am sure I shall be more successful from now on.

When you bake the bread, you have to introduce some steam into the oven. Commercial bakers have steam ovens, but for us domestic bakers, we need to put a roasting tin of boiling water into the oven at the beginning of the bake. The steam stops a crust from forming too soon on the bread. For the first eight minutes or so of baking, the dough will continue to rise, and if a crust forms too soon, it can crack and the bread can end up misshapen. The surface of the loaf is traditionally slashed with a very sharp blade immediately before baking, and these cuts spread as the dough rises in the oven, opening up to expose the darker colour of the bread in contrast with the floured exterior. This makes the bread very attractive, and some people have developed this into an art form with carefully placed decorative cuts. This is something I am determined to perfect.

There will be further progress reports and pictures as time goes on, and hopefully I will perfect my technique in time. Watch this space to see if Esmerelda and I can come up with the goods!

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Floral Mini-Album Pt 11 Page 5 Completing the Pop-Up Cover

Recently I made a new mini-album, about my mum who died in December. I was unable to publish anything about this until now because it is a present for her best friend, who sometimes visits my blog, and I wanted it to be a surprise for her. I wrote a series of blog posts as I did each stage of the project, so I didn’t forget what I did, and they will be published in sequence now the project is finished and has been given to our friend.

If you want to see the finished project, please click here.

Returning to page 5, I needed to complete the cover of the piano keyboard pop-up. I needed to decide how to keep it closed; the bottom edge is very close to the bottom of the page, not leaving much room for any sort of fastening, so in the end I decided on a magnet. Because I had not yet attached a mat to the cover, it was a simple matter to attach the magnet to the outside, but fitting the other magnet inside the page was more difficult because it was hard to get at, but with a bit of fiddling, I succeeded in the end.

121 Page 5 Pop-Up Magnet

Before this I had been working on the mat for the pop-up cover. In the next picture, you can see the two mat pieces (one for each album) lying on top of the original card (another sheet I really don’t like!) – to begin altering the mat pieces, I smooshed them with Mermaid Lagoon Distress Ink. I wanted to match the colour scheme of the rest of the page, but with a different texture. I used the same technique that I used for the striped paper with the letters and numbers on the flower pop-up page – covering the letters but retaining the stripes which add interest.

115 Page 5 Pop-Up Cover Mat 1 Mermaid Lagoon

The next colour I added was Peacock Feathers, smooshing as before. Again, I’ve laid the pieces on top of the original, so that you can see how the alteration progresses.

116 Page 5 Pop-Up Cover Mat 2 Peacock Feathers

Next came Chipped Sapphire, which is quite a bit darker, and less turquoise and more blue – verging towards purple.

117 Page 5 Pop-Up Cover Mat 3 Chipped Sapphire

After this I introduced a single colour in Distressed Oxides – Wilted Violet, which was beginning to give me the finished result that I wanted.

118 Page 5 Pop-Up Cover Mat 4 Wilted Violet Distress Oxide

The wooden skewer is very useful for holding the pieces down when drying with my powerful heat gun, which otherwise tends to blow the pieces all over the place!

To darken the pieces still further, I distressed the whole surface with Walnut Stain Distress Ink, using an Inkylicious Ink Duster.

119 Page 5 Pop-Up Cover Mat 5 Walnut Stain

Perfect.

To finish off the pieces, it was just a question of a bit of double distressing, using first Chipped Sapphire and then Black Soot.

120 Page 5 Pop-Up Cover Mat Double Distressing

Here is the finished result, with the pop-up cover mat in place. The cover is held down very nicely with the magnet.

122 Page 5 Pop-Up Cover Mat in Place

Here’s another picture of the keyboard pop-up, open, and showing no evidence of any fastening.

123 Page 5 Pop-Up Open - No Magnet Visible

Time to move on and consolidate another unfinished page – this time, inside the front cover.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Floral Mini-Album Pt 10 Page 8 Flower Pop-Up

It’s been weeks since I was doing this regular resume of how I constructed the Floral Mini-Album – first of all it was illness and recovery, and since then I’ve just been too busy with other things, and trying to catch up with everything. So today I decided to resume it.

Recently I made a new mini-album, about my mum who died in December. I was unable to publish anything about this until now because it is a present for her best friend, who sometimes visits my blog, and I wanted it to be a surprise for her. I wrote a series of blog posts as I did each stage of the project, so I didn’t forget what I did, and they will be published in sequence now the project is finished and has been given to our friend.

If you want to see the finished project, please click here.

The second pop-up in this mini-album.

I began by making the mat for page 8. Again, the paper for the base was pretty boring, so I added smooshed Dusty Concord Distress Ink, and then some Infusions (Violet Storms and Violetta). This darkened the paper and made it a lot richer and more interesting. I finished it by distressing the edges, first with Dusty Concord, and then with Black Soot Distress Inks. The way I do this double distressing is to take the lighter colour first, and using an ink blender, in the traditional way, working flat on the table from the outside inwards. After this, I pick up the piece of card and using an ink blender with the darker shade, swipe downwards across the edges, so that only the very edge is caught. I expect other people do this too so I can’t really claim it as my invention, but for now I’ll call it Shoshi’s Double Distressing Technique!

092 Page 8 Creating Mat

Here is the paper, matted onto the flap of page 8.

093 Page 8 Mat

Then I turned to the pop-up which will be underneath this flap. I followed several Youtube videos on this pop-up, each with a slight variation – if you search “Flower Pop-Up” on Youtube, you will come up with plenty of tutorials. I adapted the measurements to suit my project, and for the mat I cut a piece 6 in x 3 in, so that when it is folded in half, it produces a 3-inch square.

Here are the papers for the pop-up mat. These are for both copies of the album.

094 Page 8 Creating Pop-Up Mats

The original is on the right, and this isn’t the sort of paper I thought I’d ever use, which is why it’s been in my stash for so many years! With the addition of several layers of Distress Inks and Distress Oxides, it is totally transformed and much better. I like the way that the stripes are still visible but the text has virtually disappeared.

What I did was first of all to smoosh it with a mixture of Walnut Stain and Vintage Photo Distress Inks. As I’ve mentioned before, this paper stack is a bit weird – the paper seems to have a slightly waxy finish to it which resists the ink, but you do end up with some quite nice splotchy results.

After drying it with my heat gun, I smooshed it again, this time with Wilted Violet Distress Oxide, and dried it. The second smooshing seems to work better than the first.

The next step was to go over the whole thing with Walnut Stain Distress Ink, using an ink blender tool, working inwards from the outer edge, until it was lightly covered, muting everything down.

I spritzed what was left on the craft sheet with water, and smooshed it again to mop up any waste, and finally, after drying yet again, I distressed the edges with an ink blender, using Black Soot Distress Ink.

Now it was time to start making the flowers for the pop-up. I had one sheet of this in the stack:

095 Page 8 Paper for Pop-Up Flowers

I do like the gradation of colour and the distressed look of this particular paper. I thought there would be just enough to make sufficient flowers for both albums, and this proved to be correct, but on a couple of the pieces there was a bit of text at the edge, but most of this was cut off eventually.

I cut fourteen squares, each measuring 3 in x 3 in, seven for each pop-up. Because I was concerned (unnecessarily, as it turned out) that the white backs of the squares would show, I inked them up with Dusty Concord Distress Ink, using the ink blender, not worrying too much about evenness – I quite liked the slightly marbled look.

096 Page 8 Inking the Pop-Up Pieces

I spritzed the craft sheet with water, though, and smooshed them through it to smooth it out a bit.

097 Page 8 Pop-Up Pieces Inked and Smooshed

I decided to play with some Distress Oxides, and first added Spiced Marmalade, but this made it look too different from the front, so I added some Worn Lipstick. I fell in love with the result – so much so that I abandoned the idea of using the front at all, and decided to use this instead! As the backs weren’t going to show anyway, I could have saved that particular paper, which was about the best sheet in the entire stack!

098 Page 8 Pop-Up Pieces with Distress Oxides

Beginning to cut the flower shapes from the squares. The small white shape on the right in the next photo is a mock-up, which I used to trace around to get the shape. You fold the square into four, and then again at 45 degrees, and cut a curve at the top, so that when you open it up, you end up with eight petals.

099 Page 8 Cutting the Pop-Up Flowers

Now for some fun. I painted the edges, and the divisions between the petals, with Perfect Gold Perfect Pearls, using my Perfect Pearls palette which makes them so much easier to apply.

100 Page 8 Painting the Pop-Up Flowers with Perfect Pearls

I drew the centres and veins with two shades of Sharpie pens.

Then I cut out one petal from each flower. I kept these for later use.

101 Page 8 Trimming the Pop-Up Flowers

Overlapping the two petals either side of the gap, I glued them together, making the flower into a concave shape with six petals.

102 Page 8 Glueing the Pop-Up Flowers

I then folded them all in half, with the fronts on the inside.

103 Page 8 Folding the Pop-Up Flowers

I followed the instructions on the Youtube videos as to how to glue these together – too complicated to write out, and much easier to watch (see Youtube). You end up with a stack of flowers, but they are glued in such a way as to expand into a bouquet when attached to the flaps of the pop-up.

104 Page 8 Stacking the Pop-Up Flowers

The final step was to make some leaves, and I forgot to photograph this. What I did was to take scraps of green card and fold them in half lengthwise, and cut out a curved shape, so that when it opened, it was a leaf with a crease (vein) down the centre. I glued these randomly onto the backs of the petals, and then stuck the whole pop-up inside the pop-up mat, first sticking down the bottom half of the bouquet to the lower part of the mat, making sure the fold went well into the fold in the mat, and folded down the upper part of the mat and pressed it down well. I then opened up the top part of the mat, applied more glue to the exposed back of the pop-up, and folded the mat down again and pressed it well. I didn’t open it until I was sure the glue was dry. They were now ready to attach inside the flap of page 8.

105 Page 8 The Pop-Ups on their Mats

I chose some more of the paper from the stack which would go well for matting inside the page flap.

106 Page 8 Inside Mats

I didn’t go to a lot of trouble altering it, but just distressed the edges, first with Dusty Concord Distress Ink and then with Walnut Stain Distress Ink, using the Double Distressing method.

Then I mounted the two mat pieces under the flap of page 8.

107 Page 8 Matted Inside

I attached the completed pop-up on its mat, using Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive, using the same method I used for attaching the pop-up to its mat. Again, I did not open it until I was sure the glue was completely dry.

108 Page 8 Flower Pop-Up Attached

Once it was dry, I was pleased that the page and its flap were substantial enough to hold the pop-up firmly, and it operates really well. I had to prop the flap open because it won’t stay open on its own and I didn’t have a spare hand when taking the photo!

There was a bit of a gap above the pop-up, and in front of it. Also, when you closed the flap of the page, a little of the yellow striped paper was visible, which I didn’t like, so I decided to make a pocket from black cardstock, extending the full width of the page. Once this was done, I created four identical strips (two for each album) from the striped paper I used for the pop-up mat, and altered it to co-ordinate with the page, this time using more of the purple and less of the brown, to echo the colour of the flowers and also the outside of the page flap.

Here are the pieces I cut for this.

109 Page 8 Decorative Bands for Inside

This is really horrible paper. However, I am so glad that I never got round to disposing of this paper stack which has been hanging around for years – until recently I wouldn’t have had enough imagination or experience to improve it, but now, I am so pleased with the end result that I can forgive it for being so awful to start with!!

I knew that the stripes would still be visible when it was done, and this was something I fully intended to happen, because they would echo the stripes in the pop-up mat paper nicely. I cut the strips so that the stripes would run vertically, and I had a job centring them exactly, because the design had not been printed exactly in the middle of the paper, and the first stripe (yellow) was 1/16 in wider than the rest of the stripes, which were 1 in wide. This may not seem much, but it really showed, so once I realised, I trimmed off this small amount, and then I was able to use my Tim Holtz centring ruler to get the stripes exactly where I wanted them on each strip.

Now it was time to alter them. I began by smooshing them several times with Dusty Concord Distress Ink. As I mentioned before, the surface of this paper feels slightly waxy and seems to resist the ink, so it needed several attempts to get enough coverage, drying each time with my heat gun before doing it again. I then applied Dusty Concord Distress Ink all over the pieces using my ink blender, spritzed the craft sheet with water to use up any residue of ink, and smooshed them again.

110 Page 8 Decorative Bands Smooshed with Distress Ink

Already the paper was looking a bit better.

The next step was to smoosh again with Wilted Violet Distress Oxide. Again, I dried it and repeated the exercise until all the ink on the craft sheet was used up and I was satisfied with the result.

111 Page 8 Decorative Bands Smooshed with Distress Oxide

An improvement again. They just needed darkening a little, so this time I smooshed them with Walnut Stain Distress Ink.

112 Page 8 Decorative Bands Smooshed Again with Distress Ink

Once they were dry, I ironed them to get rid of the wrinkles, and distressed the edges with Walnut Stain and Black Soot Distress Inks, again using the Double Distressing method. This was the final result.

113 Page 8 Decorative Bands with Distressed Edges

This was definitely the look I wanted. All the naff letters and numbers had disappeared, but the stripes were still visible. All that was required was to attach them to the pocket and the top of the page flap, and the flower pop-up was complete.

114 Page 8 Flower Pop-Up Complete

The finishing touch was to take some of the petals that had been removed from the flowers in order to construct the pop-up, and to attach them randomly with a little Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive, so that they appeared to have fallen from the bouquet.

Altogether a very pleasing result and I think the papers and the colours go together well. I am so, so glad I didn’t get rid of that awful paper!!!

Now all I have to do to complete the basic work on the albums is to cover the inside of the back cover, and create a pocket for a CD of some of Mum’s favourite music, and then apply papers to the front, back and spine of the cover, ready for embellishing. There is also the automatic waterfall mini to go inside the front cover, and I’m not very happy about page 1 which really needs some more interest before I embellish it. In addition, I need to make large pull-out tags to slide into each page edge, so there’s still quite a lot to do.

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