Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Sometimes Size Really Does Matter...

Cute little pop up box isn't it? This is one of my 'bargain' China dies that turns out to not be that much of a bargain, insomuch as the die itself isn't the same size as the true Lawn Fawn die. So when I thought I was getting a bargain at £2.70 and saving myself around £25.00, I wasn't. Not if I want to make actual Lawn Fawn Scalloped Box Card Pop Up to add my Lawn Fawn stamps to, so that everything is to scale.

It's a shame really as the die cuts really well and all the bits are included but sadly the width of the box is supposed to be 3½ inches it's only 2½ inches. It's usable if you want to make a small pop up and the dies that come with it will be useful like the hello die and the small hearts and stars, even the little banner dies will be useful but size wise its not big enough. Hubby took pity on me and treated me to the full size one so I  can proceed with my Xmas card pop up ideas and I've chalked it up to experience, at least I was only £2.70 out of pocket.

I had the same problem with the Lawn Fawn Fancy Box set, this one is supposed to be 3½ inches by 2¼ inches but in actual fact its 3 inches by 2 inches, it makes a cute little treat box but it isn't big enough to fit a gift card in. Its about the size of 2 match boxes side by side to give you an idea, just a fraction too small to take a gift card 3⅜ inches by 2⅛

This time the size wasn't as big a problem because I'd bought the die set to hold sweets and small gifts like jewellery which will fit comfortably and the word sentiments 'Thanks' and 'Yay' and the label dies will be very useful, so worth the £3.80 paid for this one, but if you are expecting to get the full size die you'd be disappointed.  The quality of both dies is really good for the price, its just a shame that the scale is wrong, but for the price I guess it would be daft to expect it to be the same.

I also picked up a Lawn Fawn Leafy Tree Backdrop: Portrait and also Landscape for less that £3 each, again a big saving and whilst the die is the same quality as the Lawn Fawn one and even the right size and has all the right additional bits (stitched hill or tree background and leaves), it cuts to put the tree on the right hand side of the die cut, whereas the Lawn Fawn cuts with the tree on the left, unless all the card examples I've seen are turning the die cut about.

Again though its something I can live with, the Landscape clone version of the die is the same, the tree is on the opposite side of the original. I have tried die cutting and flipping the cut image over, but sadly the back is dull and the edges look as crisp. It's something to be mindful of though and I'm wondering what will happen with the other dies I've ordered will look like, will they be reversed as well? The Lawn Fawn 'Little Town Border' die certainly appears to be, again its not the end of the world, but its worth noting that the images are reversed? It's probably how they manage to get away with looking so much like the real deal dies?

Sunday, 30 July 2017

A Halloween Luminaire

I had the tree die for making this because it arrived from China yesterday, the rest of the dies are Halloween dies I already had. The Witch and Haunted House dies are by Impression Obsession and the bats are from some mini dies by Xcut called 'bats' believe it or not lol!

The Luminaire is constructed from 2 pieces of card stock that are 6" tall and 10" wide,scored at 4½" and then again 1" to create the flap that you will use to glue the two panels together. I used black card, but you can make your luminaire in any colour. Making the whole project was easy, at least it was after I found the vellum that had somehow gone AWOL in my room! I finally found it in a box with some A4 embossing folders and dies, no idea why it was in there but I was relieved to find it.

I originally saw a luminaire similar to this one on YouTube where Chari Moss demonstrated how to make one using Lawn Fawn dies. (See the video below).  Missing dies aside, its always nice to be able to see a project you want to make and be able to make it straight away because you have all you need to hand.

When I first started card making, almost every project I saw required me to buy a piece of equipment, some form of media or a die or stamp. These days I have a good supply of items that I can make just about anything, and I'm learning that if I don't have something specific that is required for the project, then I can substitute it for something else.

I'd coloured acetate and gloss card stock with alcohol inks before, but never vellum, but it was so, so easy to do and in no time at all I had four panels of vellum inked and dry ready for the next stage. I won't go in to detail with all the steps, instead I'm adding Chari's brilliant video for her Spooky Halloween Lantern project she did for Lawn Fawn, which gives all the measurements needed and she talks you through the steps to make the project.

I made some changes to the construction compared to Chari's design, I added strips of black card stock to the inside of the luminaire to cover where the insert 'tree' panel met the frame, this stops light coming out of the gap when the seams don't line up you can see what I mean in the video example.

On the next one I make I'll put strips of black glitter card on to the inside top panels of the luminaire to hide the glued vellum lines so that it looks neater and more decorative. I'm also going to make a card stock base for it to sit on, again it will stop unwanted light getting out at the base and will finish the project off nicely. My base will be separate from the rest of the luminaire though because if I permanently attach it, 1 won't be able to fold the luminiare flat when not in use.

I already have ideas for making a couple of different luminaire's, one with purple and blue alcohol ink backgrounds and an assortment of fairy dies and stamps. Plus I have a few more halloween dies I'd like to use, I think they will look good on the window ledge come Halloween to help decorate the house, won't need a pumpkin that way 😉

I think a 'falling leaves' autumn version may well be on the cards and I also want to make some for Christmas, I have a small flying Santa and Reindeer die and some of houses and village scenes, so I'm going to play with those. I dare say you could make one for every season of the year. I think I may even have a play with some of the silhouette cat dies I have and make a cat themed luminaire.

The top photos were taken without a flash so didn't show up the black glitter frames I added to the panels, so I used the flash on my camera to take a photo that does show the frame, sadly though the flash made the black card look a lot paler than it is lol!

Friday, 28 July 2017

Love Cats To The Moon And Back Card

A quickie card made last night inbetween making Christmas cards, 2 of the 3 dies used for this card are 'China' dies the cross stitched circle I used to cut the moon is the medium sized die from a clone Lawn Fawn Small Cross-Stitched Circle Stackables set. There is no stamping on the moon, its another piece of the Faux Mother of Pearl card that I made and posted about earlier in July. The technique is fabulous for die cutting pieces to use as embellishments as well as for making backgrounds.

One point to note though is where the acrylic paint is, its a little hard to stamp on to the image as the acrylic acts as a resist. I stamped several times in black hybrid ink, then added Versamark and clear embossing powder and heat embossed it and finally stamped over the embossed letters with more black ink. Looks lots better but sadly the photo got shine on the glossy lettering.

The 'Love Cats' die is adorable and will be getting lots of use over the next few months, my head is holding a ton of ideas for making a selection of cards with these dies and a couple of other cats dies picked up off Ebay for my local Cats Protection. I have no idea who the actual manufacturer of the original of this die is, it does have a look of Marianne Designs, but its not a die I've seen before to be able to identify it sadly, if you know then please leave me a comment. I simply die cut this out of some black cardstock and added it to the front of the card with foam pads and then used some black shimmer pen to add some sparkle. The black frame is from my Avery Elle die set called 'Scalloped Pierced Rectangles'.

Whilst I'd love to be able to say that I made the galaxy background with inks, paints and sparkles, I didn't, I haven't perfected the art of balance when attempting to make a starry galaxy background yet. So I used a printable paper from a digital collection simply called 'Galaxy' that I found on Etsy by Lunabludesign. I've purchased a few digital background papers from Ana over the past couple of years and love her designs. That's a wrap for me for today, I'm away to do some domestic goddess style stuff, then back to my craft desk to work on some more Chrimbo cards. Take card everyone and I'll 'see' you soon :)

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Playing With Paper Patchwork

Hey everyone in blogland, I hope life is treating you well and your finding time to get your craft on? Life seems to be getting back to normal for me, my head is back in the craft zone and I've made a couple of life changes that have made my life a lot better on the mental level. So much so that I've been finding that I'm thinking more clearly and its easy to craft again :)

Which is a good thing as I have so many goodies to play with and I confess that I may just becoming a little addicted to making patchwork style cards, so much quicker to put together than fabric patchwork quilts, and yes I've tried lol!

The die I've used for the Halloween card in this post is one of my China die bargains and is a a clone of the My Favorite Things 'Die-namics Diagonal Quilt Square Cover-Up' die. It cuts beautifully, is made from carbon steel and is very sturdy, I got it from Ebay and for £3.99 including postage and not the £25 that I'd have to pay for the MFT die, it is indeed a bargain.

The pumpkin, lime green and purple 'Halloween Crackle' papers are a free printables from Free Digital Crafting,the site has other halloween papers and papers suitable for other occasions, all free to download. The patterned papers are from another free to download collection called 'Retro Halloween', be aware though that the downloading of this file takes ages if you don't 'pay' to download it quickly. I used a Crafts Too (Presscut) Stepper Card die to cut the card blank, I use this die often to make cards that are a little different. The pumpkin was a purchase from Lidl a couple of years ago, it came as a pair with two little autumn bedecked hedgehogs, but loitered in one of my drawers. Sentiment and banner come from my Tim Holtz Sizzix 'Cobweb Blueprints' stamp and die set.

I'd just got done cutting lots of bits for my clone 'Die-namics Diagonal Quilt Square Cover-Up' die when the clone 'Die-namics Quilt Square Cover-Up' die arrived, I knew when I first saw it that it would be fabulous for making cards for the festive season and I wasn't wrong. It's very therapeutic sticking all the little pieces in to the frame, the die puts little 'stitched' lines around all the pieces which adds a lovely touch I think.

I used a pad of papers that I got for £1 a while back, I picked up about 4 pads of this design and 6 of another, so I have lots to use and they are perfect for working on designs like this. The 'Postage Stamp' frame dies are also China die bargains, although I'm not sure if they are clone dies or not as I don't recognise the die, but it cuts wonderfully every time and leaves a stitched edge as well as the stamp 'perforations' edge. I was so please to discover that the quilt dies fir inside the large postage stamp die perfectly leaving just a little edge, so you can see the stitched edge :)

As you can see I spent a morning cutting lots of pieces from lots of different patterned papers, enough to make 12 'Festive Quilt' dies, the blue coloured papers come from a Bloc Deco Winter Games pad of papers by Toga that I picked up in the sales in France last year. The pads are 15cm x 20cm and come in some beautiful colours and designs. I also made lots of the faux mother of pearl paper I posted about recently and started to turn the pieces in to embossed panels for cards. Ohhh and I used some white pigment ink to do some woodgrain effect letter press panels for more festive card ideas I have in my head. So many ideas and things to play with, plus I'm currently waiting for more clone dies to arrive, these are mainly Lawn Fawn with some My Favorite Things and Mama Elephant clones thrown in for good measure.

Friday, 7 July 2017

An Owl For All Seasons

Hello dear blog world friend, I hope that life is treating you well? All is good here at Warts n All Towers, aside from the fact that I'm developing new product launch fatigue, not sure I'm liking the Christmas in July rush that all the card making companies seem to be doing right now. Too much pressure to buy and when I sat and thought about it, I still have "MUST HAVE" dies, stamps and papers that I bought last year that I still haven't used?!

So do I really want to add to my already bonkers stash with even more things that may not get used for a year or more? Especially when the things I bought this time last year still haven't been used, and are now turning up half price or less in the same places I bought them from? The answer is no, for me anyway, I want to concentrate on using what I already have with the exception of the Altenew Build-A-Flower sets and new colours of Distress Oxides and save some money for a Scan & Cut that I really want come the January Sales.

So with that thought in mind I went through my stash and I've sorted out lots of lovely new things to play with, previously unused, that will not cost me anything but time and effort to make. I found so many things that I'd forgotten I'd bought, one of which I bought again in the sales and now have two of, whoops! I discovered that I have a drawer full of glitter and foiled card that I forgot I had and paints and lots of other things I still haven't played with.

One of the die sets I found, was a cute Sizzix 'Owl & Fox Box' die set by Jen Long, I picked it up in a sale for £6 in December last year and its currently retailing at £11.00 to £14.99 depending where you buy it. When it arrived it went in to a 'to be used soon' box and has only surfaced this week to be played with! It took me 6 months to get around to doing anything with it, and there are so many other things I have that have been around for longer and still lay unused, like my Tim Holtz House Dies!

As far as the owl and fox dies go, I've decided to make some to hang on our tree this year with an assortment of human and cat treats in. I'm also going to make them in colours of the season as a stand by for putting small gifts in for friends and family. The boxes aren't big enough for a gift card sadly, but they will take small gifts of jewellery, a few scented tealight candles, sweets, and small hair accessories. I also thought about making 25 of them with numbers on their tummy and hanging on the tree with some gifts in as an alternative advent calender.

The finished boxes measure 9cm at their highest point (corner tip of face) and 7.5cm across at the top, base is approx 5cm, the die cuts and scores the area that needs to be folded to make the flaps to glue together.  I had a lot of fun picking contrasting papers for my 4 seasons owls and decided to colour their eyes and beaks to match colours in the papers.

I coloured the eyes and beak with Zig Clean Color brush pens and added a pupil of Tonic Nuvo Crystal Drops in 'Ebony Black' to the centre. The finished beaks I covered with Glossy Accents to give some shine. The die packaging shows using just one wing per side, but I cut more and did some with 3 per side and 2 per side to give the owl more wing span.

These are the parts required for the owl, you need to cut 2 of the main pieces for the front and back, and 1 head piece, 2 - 6 wings depending on how many you want to use and two of the eye pieces, which will cut you an extra beak, which you can either put on top of the first to give some added dimension or save it for another owl.

The pads I have used for the Winter season owl are out of a First Edition 'Christmas Wishes' 6" x 6" Paper Pad, I have loads of them, I bought 4 of them earlier this year from Every Crafts A Pound when they were £1 each, cheapest I've seen them new since is £5.49. I picked up 3 of the 'Jingle All The Way' pads as well, and need to use them up. Note to self, stop buying paper pads, cheap or not because you have too many already!

Now I need to play with the fox die, and also the 'Owl Fold-A-Long' die that I bought at the same time as the Owl & Fox dies, I have it in my mind to get the Tim Holtz House dies out as well and create something for Halloween and something for Xmas with lights inside. I really do need to concentrate on using what I have and stop buying the latest stuff. Recent, and so far unused purchases include the Tonic Buildables the first wave with the Hedgehog, fox, bunny and owl, the Tonic Oxford Box die set and all its accompanying items. I bought it to make boxes for notelet cards to give to friends and family for Xmas, its still in its packaging! Out of the 4 Altenew Build-A-Flower sets at £28 a set I've bought so far, I've used just 1 of them! I've already un-subscribed from emails from some of the companies that keep tempting me. I just have to learn to be stronger, and buy less new items, wait until they are in the sale.

What's the worst that can happen? They become discontinued and I don't get to play with them, will my world really end if that happens? The other thing is to keep an eye out on Aliexpress and Ebay for clone dies, £2.99 for a die instead of £24.00 makes things sitting being unused give me less of a guilt complex. That said, so far as soon as the dies from China arrive, I play with them, I know not all the companies have cheaper clones, but if you look you can find dies from 'My Favorite Things', 'Mama Elephant' and 'Lawn Fawn' to name a few, in the meantime I have lots of lovely things to play with and create things with, what can I make next?.....

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Faux Mother of Pearl Paper

Greetings dear bloggers, I saw a technique in Papercraft Essentials this week for creating faux mother of pearl paper for backgrounds and embellishments and I thought I'd give it a try. I had to pick up some pearly acrylic paint first, once I had some I started to play.

I'm really pleased with how this card turned out and I've made lots of other backgrounds that I'll be using over the next few days. The finished card is for a challenge over in a Facebook group I belong to the theme is "Things That Fly", I chose butterflies, mainly because the layering stamp set I ordered from China arrived and I wanted to try it out. Most of the card is made with things I've got cheaper than the named brand products. The stamp set is a clone of a set by a company called Studio Light that retails for around £10.99, my cheap set is identical and cost me £1.79 it lines up and stamps really well, I stamped the butterflies with some Altenew Crisp Ink in 'Puffy Heart' and 'Purple Wine' and did the top layer in Versamark and Silver WOW embossing powder.

I decided to turn the finished card in to a shaker card and use another new die set that arrived this week from China its an almost clone of the Mama elephant 'Union Square Framed Tags' set, the original of which would set me back £23.95, I got the set off Ebay for £2.83 saving over £22! The clone die isn't 100% the same, one of the dies used to cut a flap on the tag has a cut edge on 4 sides not 3 like the Mama Elephant die so it cuts a full square out and not a flap. A detail I can live with because I wanted the set for the frame mainly , and if I want to make the tag with a flap I can create a paper hinge :) The frame cuts beautifully and just over 11.5cm square you can use it with the inner frame or just as a thin frame edge, see the photo below.

Back to the faux pearl paper, I loved playing with the pearl acrylic paint, I'll be using it to create lots of inky backgrounds for christmas cards more starry backgrounds and some snowflakes and snowy scenes. The stencils were a bargain China purchase they measure 13cm square and cost £1.28 each, I picked up a star, dots, waves and honeycomb to make inky mess backgrounds with.

To create the starry background and the dotty background I used on the card in the main image I put the stencil on to a piece of water colour card that I'd cut to the same size of the stencil and held it in place with some masking tape, then I used a stencil brush to apply the acrylic paint to the paper through the stencil. Once I've finished I removed the stencil and cleaned it under the tap with warm water, a little rub with my fingers and all the paint came off the stencil. If I'd left it to dry though that would have been a different matter.

I left the paint to dry on the two stencilled pieces and followed the instruction from Papercraft Essentials issue 148, page 75 to create the faux mother of pearl effect. All I did was scrunch up a piece of plastic bag, dab it in the paint I'd put on my craft matt and then randomly dabbed the water colour card with the paint. I left the pieces to dry whilst I created the butterflies, then once the acrylic paint was dry, I added a selection of Distress Inks to each piece. I decided to use the dotty panel to make my card and save the starry sky for a Christmas card I'll be making this week.

I can't believe how effective this technique was,  I'll certainly be making more faux mother of pearl card and using the pearl acrylic paint to create stencilled backgrounds, I've bought some blue, pink, lilac and minty green pearl paint as well as the white, so I foresee lots of pastel pearly backgrounds in my crafting future :) I think the Union Square dies are going to get a lot of use as well for Christmas cards, some will be shakers other will be simple framed windows. I discovered a drawer full of glitter card and paper and foiled card in my stash which I'd forgotten about, so it needs putting to use, as do all those Christmas pads I have.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

In The Garden Challenge

Hi there, I hope you're all in fine fettle and getting your individual craft on? Things have been a tad mish mash here at Warts n All Towers, I'll just say menopause pffft and leave it at that lol! I recently joined a rather fun group on Facebook via a new card making friend, they run weekly challenges and this was my entry for last week. I played with distress inks and some new cheap dies from China, I'm building up a good collection of them now and can't believe how brilliantly they cut. In all the ones I've bought so far, I've only had one that didn't cut very well and on closer inspection it wasn't finished correctly, but its not that noticeable and the other 3 dies in the set all work brilliantly.

Sadly the photo doesn't do the colours in the inky backgrounds justice, I was really pleased with the colours, the bird card was a blend of Wild Honey, Spiced Marmalade and Seedless Preserves one of my favourite colour combinations for making morning sky style backgrounds. The evening twilight cat card was a combination of Mermaid Lagoon, Blueprint Sketch and Wilted Violet with a spritz of homemade silvery shimmer.

I first die cut the cross stitched dome pieces first using one of my dies from China, I loved how the ink didn't go into the stitched edge which added to the panel I think. After adding the Distress Inks to the panels I then stamped them using a selection of stamps I've collected over the past few years that came free with magazines using My Favorite Things Hybrid Ink Pad in 'Black Licorice', I did stamp a few times to get a deeper intensity of colour as the first stamping sank in to the water colour paper. I used my new Tim Holtz Stamping Platform, which I love because it has a larger area to stamp in than the MISTI.

I wanted to keep these cards as flat as possible, so I glued the panel direct to the card blank, I was pleasantly surprised to discover when I added some clear sparkle pen to the inside of the butterflies on the twilight card, it had a lightening effect which made the butterflies stand out a little more. I stamped the sentiment from an Imagination Crafts set that I got at the NEC craft show last year and used Black Onyx Versafine ink, then added the die cuts, again both cheap China dies to the card on some 3D foam pads and then gave them a coat of shimmer using my clear sparkle pen again.

These were really quick to make and I loved the way the dies looked after they'd been cut, I plan on making lots more colour variations and to give them a variety of sentiments like 'Just A Note' and 'Thinking of You'. I also need to bolster my stash of birthday cards and congrats cards, so I need to get my thinking cap on.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Baby Die Cutting Machine

I'm really getting in to making ATC's and I'm finding that its a perfect thing to craft with scraps and things from my Maybe Someday Box late at night when I can't sleep, but my Big Shot takes up a lot of space on my craft desk and by using it I make noise as the floorboards that side of the room make a noise, which wakes the hubby up and makes him grumpy. So I wanted a smaller machine that I could use on my computer desk the other side of the room and a size specifically for making ATC's.

As I already have a Big Shot Plus and a Big Shot, my criteria for getting a new machine was it had to be universal. What I mean by that is it had to take any make of dies and embossing folders of the size that can be used to make ATC's. It had to fit on my computer desk, be light weight but sturdy and enable me to die cut shapes up to 3.5" and emboss folders up to 5" wide - the size of the majority of my most used embossing folders.

If it couldn't take those it required me to buy smaller folders and meant I couldn't use my favourite embossing folders late at night. If I had to buy smaller ones, it would be more expense and the mini machine starts to become a niche rather than universal machine. I asked people on a Facebook group I belong to what they thought of the top 2 best selling mini die-cutting machines and took their comments on board. I did some research myself and decided then to go along to Hobbycraft and get a feel for the machines on offer that were in my price range.

I ruled out the Tattered Lace 'Baby Blue' machine almost straight away, as soon as I encountered its flimsy plastic handle and when I realised that actually it wasn't wide enough for some of the dies I wanted to use and felt not very stable. I didn't appreciate how small it was to be honest and it just didn't fit my criteria. So I'm glad I went to check the machines out, I struggle with sizes, when something is described as being 3" for example, I don't always register how big it actually is until I see it and I'm often disappointed and moan that I expected it to be bigger/smaller.

Next I looked at the Spellbinders Prizm machine, a little sturdier than the Baby Blue but still a very narrow slot to run things through and my small embossing folders wouldn't fit. I didn't even seriously consider the Crafters Companion Diamond Press because, well it was just too damn small. It looks good for kiddies to make small shapes but not what I would pay £25 for, yes I know you can get it for around £15 in some places, but its still not something I want to play with.

I was about to give up when a display caught my eye in the store, Hobbycraft do their own small Die Cutting Machine and it came with accessories, it was more than I wanted to pay at £50, but it was sturdy and ticked all my boxes, in actual fact I didn't buy it, hubby treated me to it, I know I'm a lucky girl :)

These are the specifications of the machine: -
  • Machine Size: 29 x 24.5 x 16 cm (11.4 x 9.6 x 6.3 inches).
  • Maximum Cutting width: 14.9 cm (5.9 inches).
  • Maximum Cutting GSM: 220 gsm.
  • Included in the box - Die-cutting machine, an A Base Plate and B & C Plates for embossing and die cutting, two 15 x 10.5cm embossing folders, six 5 x 5 cm dies, a pack of 9 15 x 10.5cm sheets of cardstock (3 x red, 3 x white and 3 x black) and instruction booklet.
  • The machine is compatible with X-cut, Cuttlebug and most other manufacturer's dies. In Fact I've tried lots of dies in it and so far I haven't encountered any it wouldn't cut, although some are harder to cut see below.
  • The machine cuts cardstock and paper, and will also cut fabric with the addition of a metal shim, although one isn't supplied and I haven't tried to cut fabric with my machine.
To sum up, I LOVE this little machine, I use it all the time now in place of both of my Big Shots, only using them if I want to work with a die or embossing folder that won't fit in the Hobbycraft machine. It cuts almost almost all the dies I have that fit the machine, there have been some problems with very intricate dies like lace borders, but I've found if you run the die through a few times and use a paper shim the die will cut. I've successfully cut paper, cardstock so far up to 280 gsm, craft foam and felt with it and also cut thicker card around 2mm thick.

I got this machine for ATC making purposes, but its now my go to machine for most things I do, I don't think I've used my Big Shot's since I got this machine. I'm happy with the way the machine embosses and cuts and the real bonus is its small enough to fit on my desk so I can work all in the same space without having to move everything to accommodate the larger machine.

The dies that come with the machine are rather jolly as well and are all perfect for ATC making as well as for adding to cards and projects. You can get replacement A & B plates from Hobbycraft, I would like to see them offer more accessories like a metal shim and maybe a crease plate in the future.

The machine is lovely and solid and has metal rollers and the handle is rather sturdy, not flimsy at all like the Baby Blue machines handle, on the whole for what you get in the box, its super value for money and would make a great beginners machine if you only want to start off making ATC's or cards up to 5" x 7".

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Father's Day Fishy Cards

Hello lovely blogger peeps, its past the middle of June already and I haven't blogged for over a month, I've still been crafting to keep me sane, but life things have happened and I kind of reverted in to my shell whilst I processed the events. I'm all processed now and have got over the hump so feel like I can embrace the world again, just avoid one little piece of it, lesson learned.

So time to get my happy on and check out what everyone else has been creating lately and to also  share a couple of projects I've made recently.If you've been following my blog for a while you may recall the "Just Keep Swimming" easel card I did last year using a stamp and die set by Hero Arts? No worries if not, I've linked to it above, I mention it because in that post I said I'd seen the Lawn Fawn "Fintastic Friends" stamp and die set and wanted to use it to make cards for my Dad for his birthday and father's day this year.

Well I bought the set and these are the resulting cards, I used some of the cheap dies from China to cut the white card bases, I stamped the images on to water colour card then coloured with my Zig Clean Color pens. After colouring I die cut the images out, then I layered up the elements, I decided to colour the edges of the die cut images to blend with the nearest colour background rather than leave then white and I think it looks better that way.

I stamped the sentiments, the DAD and happy Birthday came from freebie stamp sets and the fishy puns sentiments are part of the Fintastic Friends set. I stamped the images and sentiments with My Favorite Things 'Black Licorice' Hybrid Ink Pad, its perfect for using with Zig pens and doesn't bleed or smudge :) I used 3D foam pads to add the tanks to the white card bases when everything was layered up and then added some dabs of glossy accents to the bubbles and eyes to give some extra dimension to the cards. I added both of them to some Craft perfect Kraft card from Tonic Studios.

Both cards took me about 3 hours to make from start to finish, I did colour a couple of extra tanks and fishes for future use, developing that habit, if you have bits ready it makes having to make a card in double quick time infinitely easier . The cards I made for my Dad actually came out better than I thought they would, but they didn't look like I originally envisioned if that makes sense? Now I want to use the fish and elements to create an underwater scene card, although I think it would look kind of cute as a framed picture.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

ATC Watery Inspiration

I haven't made any ATC's for a while, but I joined a facebook group set up by the wonderful Jodie Johnson and she recently set up an ATC Swap with Jodie group after the success of the Tonic Studios ATC die launch, although you don't have to use the dies to be part of the group.

The theme for the first swap was anything goes, its really about getting people new to the medium playing and sharing their creations, so without a theme and having elected to send 2 ladies an ATC I sat for ages scratching my head and no clue what to make, then I had a brain wave (yes gentle reader it does happen sometimes lol!) I decided to get out all my 'small' stamps, dies and bits that would be perfect for ATC making and went through my Maybe Someday box and found scraps of paper I'd coloured the background on the 'Dancing in the Rain' ATC and the ferny seaweed on the 'Mermazing' ATC were left over scraps of pieces I'd coloured for other projects.

As I went through my stamps I came across an Altenew set called 'Dancing in the Rain' that I "just had to have" last year and shamefully until this ATC I'd never used it! As an aside this ATC group has made me take a look at my stash and also do a little bit of a clear out as a result.

For the first of my two ATC creations I knew that I wanted to use the little girl dancing, raindrops and "Happy Rainy Day" sentiment stamps from that set, the images in it and the sentiments are perfect for ATC and will be appearing on other ATC's in the future.

The background is a remnant from a cat in the window autumn card I did last year. The scrap wasn't big enough to be a full ATC on its own, hence backing it on to silver foiled card the correct size which for those not familiar with ATC is 2.5" x 3.5" or 64 mm × 89 mm if you do metric.

From what I can gather some people don't mind a little over hang, others keep strictly to the standard ATC size so they will fit in plastic folder pockets in an album, for the same reason lots of people don't like too much dimension and height on the ATC as they won't fit in an ATC plastic pocket. That said, there are only 2 official rules for ATC's that they are 2.5" x 3.5" and that they are only ever swapped/traded and never sold.

For those interested my background scrap was done with distress inks on a piece of Neenah Solar White cardstock which was then spritzed with some gold shimmer mist. To make the ATC, I inked up the rain drop stamp with Versamark and stamped on to the piece, having first used my powder tool to prevent any sticky finger marks, then I covered the stamped raindrops with silver detail embossing powder and heat set it. I put the panel in my MISTI again and positioned the little girl where I wanted to be then inked up the stamp with My favorite Things 'Black Licorice' Hybrid ink and stamped the girl where I wanted her.

I'd forgotten that an embossed image would resist the ink, but in this case it was a happy accident because I found I liked the raindrops being visible over the girl, looking more realistic in my humble opinion :) I covered the black ink with clear embossing powder to seal the ink and created a raised shine. The final touches were to heat emboss the sentiment with the same silver embossing powder on to a piece of powder blue vellum and attach that to the back of the panel. I rounded the corners of both the stamped panel and the silver backing piece and glued them together. I decided to add the swirls which I cut from the same silver cardstock using some small Xcut dies that came free with 'Creativity' magazine called 'Flourishes'. I was a happy bunny with the finished result and it was time to move on to the next one.

If I'm honest this one was hard to part with, when I finished it I was happy with the result and I'm chuffed to report the lady I sent it to really liked it as well :) I didn't manage to capture gold mirror card or embossing very well on this one due to the rubbish lighting in my room. I really must make a light box!

The image was in my MSD box and comes from my Crafters Companion 'Flights of Fantasy' CD, I use this one a lot as it has some lovely fairy and enchanted images. The sentiment was done with Versamark again and WOW Metallic Rich Gold Super Fine embossing powder using the sentiment from my Hero Arts 'Color Layering Goldfish' set. The gold embossed 'rocks' are also from that set and after die cutting them out I went over the piece with some 'Gathered Twigs' Distress Ink to colour the background like sand.

I found scraps for the 'seaweed' also in my MSD left over from some distress ink backgrounds I used to make the herbal cards last year and a scrap from some green pixie powdered papers I used for the background on the leaves on my Pixie Powdered Roses cards. Pleased I kept them now, and there are more where they came from!

I used 2 of the dies from my Tattered Lace Paradise Ferns set that I got for £5 earlier this year because I don't have any seaweed dies and I wanted to add some greenery to the ATC. After attaching the image to the mirror card, I glued down the 'seaweed' and trimmed off any over hang.

The final touch for this 'Mermazing' ATC was to use a couple of small 3D foam pads to raise the height of the 'rocks' slightly and to glue on a couple of clear Nuvo Crystal Drops that I'd made previously. I'm finding it better to make the drops ahead of time in different sizes and store for future use, that way you can get the right size and you just glue them on, and you don't have to wait several hours for the crystal drops to dry if your impatient like me lol!

I now have a set of drawers full of ATC bits and bobs and a notebook where I've started writing down ideas, I may have already added a few ideas to a board on Pinterest as well. I'm looking forward to making more and taking part in more swaps in the future, just need to finish sorting the stash and then I can get cracking making new ATC's to my hearts content.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Creating Craft Foam Flowers

I've been captivated by the gorgeous flowers I've people making with a new (to me at least) material called Foamiran, which by all accounts is a very fine foam which is around 0.6mm thick and comes in A4 sheets, it can also come in 0.8mm thick sheets as well. It comes in a good range of colours and varies in price from around 99p. The Foamiran can be cut by hand using templates, or you can run it through a die cutting machine.

There are loads of YouTube videos showing the flowers being made using specialist dies and by hand, they can be coloured using lots of mediums to give the flowers some dimension. Check out Emilia Sieradzan blog for the low down on Everything You Need to Know to Make Foamiran flowers.

Making the exquisite creations is definitely on my crafting horizon but I have lots of things that I want to get this month with my craft allowance and more materials for new hobbies like the Rosy Owl dies and sheets of foamiran are not on this months crafty shopping list, that said I did want to have a play. So I decided to look and see what I had and see if I could make flowers with stuff from my existing stash.

In my stash I had some A5 sheets of pastel coloured craft foam that is 2mm thick and a large variety of flower dies to play with, I knew that the flowers I made would be a lot thicker than the Foamiran flowers but I decided to go for it anyway.

The first foam flower I made yesterday using my Sheena Douglass 'Wild Rose' die from Crafters Companion. The flowers were stuck together with a hot glue gun and I used Altenew dye ink to add some highlights to the stamen and petals. Sadly the ink smeared very easily and didn't colour the foam as I wanted it to. I also made the bee using a new die I treated myself to from Hobbycraft, more on that in a future post.

The centre of the rose I added a dot of 'Orange Soda' Nuvo Glitter Drops to add a touch of bling, I layered the large rose up with 3 lots of die cut petals and the smaller rose with 2, in hindsight it would have been better to just use 2 on both flowers. People who stamp the rose and doe cut mostly use just one layer, but I wanted to add more dimension. My first attempt wasn't too bad, but I wanted to make more flower shapes and try colouring the petals in other ways.

The pieces to make the flowers in the first photo were each die cut and then coloured and finally I used a Tonic Studios Floral Crafters Tool (12mm-8mm size) to round and curl the petals, it works on foam but not as well as on paper, below I've listed the dies and colours used : -

Purple Daisy - Cut from lilac craft foam and consists of 2 layers of the same size pieces, cut using dies from the Xcut 'Petal Posy' die set, plus a stamen cut from the stamen die in the Wild Rose die set above.  I coloured the petals with a 'Grape' Gelato and also a 'Metallic Purple' Gelato, the stamen I coloured with Metallic Gold and when the flower was glued together I finished it off with some 'Purple Rain' Nuvo Glitter Drops.

Yellow Marguerite - Cut from cream craft foam using dies from the Crafters Companions Floral Delight 'Pretty Petals' set in both sizes. I used a 'Lemon' Gelato to colour the petals to be more yellow in colour and once glued together I added 'Honey Gold' Nuvo Glitter Drops to the centre.

Pink Hollyhock - Cut from pastel pink craft foam using 3 different sizes of die from my Leane Creatief Multi Die 005, I used a 'Metallic Red' Gelato to colour the edges and finished off with 'Sherbert Shimmer' Nuvo Glitter Drops.

Marigold - Cut from peach coloured craft foam, I used the other flower petal shape from the Crafters Companions Floral Delight 'Pretty Petals' set to cut both sizes of petals. The centre of the marigold was finished off with 'Orange Soda' Nuvo Glitter Drops like the Wild Rose and I used a 'Mango' Gelato to colour the edges of the petals.

Forget-Me-Not - This was the only flower that I did as a single using the small and medium dies from my Crafters Companion Floral Delight 'In Bloom' set. I edged these with a little 'Blueberry' Gelato and finished the centres off with some 'Dandelion Yellow' Nuvo Crystal Drops.

As I took the photos of these flowers, I was still waiting for the Nuvo drops to dry, when the centres are completely dry I will cut some greenery from card and use the flowers on some projects I have planned. Whilst my craft foam flowers aren't as delicate and lifelike as the Foamiran flowers, they are usable for decorating cards and other items. I have a few other flower dies sets that I can play with next and lots of leaf and greenery shapes so I should get some good effects.

I found the best way to add the gelato to the petals was to use a baby wipe, just run it across your gelato stick and then 'paint' your petal. I have seen people colouring Foamiran with Distress Inks, I've not tried that yet medium on craft foam yet, I will and update this post if it works. The foam flowers have a nice soft velvet like texture to them and go together very quickly once you've cut, coloured and shaped the petals. I can see me making more of these even after I get my hands on Foamiran. I'm pleased that I managed to create something with what I had in, rather than buying lots of new things.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Distressed Enchantment

It's May already, ummm where did April go? I had so many good intentions of posting about cards I'd made, but I failed to do it, mostly because I was busy working on the garden and off visiting places and people, we also seem to have sorted out the problem of the noisy neighbour, its coming up to two weeks since it came to a head and so far she's been quiet. I can't tell you what a difference that has made to my state of mind the relief is huge.

I hope you've all had a lovely bank holiday weekend? We went to Mablethorpe for a few days visiting the Seal Sanctuary there and we went to a couple of National Trust places as well and saw the most beautiful exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite art by the De Morgan's, Evelyn De Morgan being my favourite Pre-Raphaelite artist so it was a joy to stand in front of her painting called 'Flora' this weekend and get to study every exquisite detail.

I walked in to the room and actually said WOW! as I entered, I didn't expect to come face to face with so many of the paintings that I've admired for so long, and having the time to look at every detail and brush stroke was a real treat, its filled me with floral ideas for cards for the future and yes I'll be going back to the exhibition at Wightwick Manor again.

It's a co-production between the National Trust and the De Morgan Foundation that will run for 10 years and each year from what the lady I spoke to said, items will change. I have to say that Wightwick is already one of my favourite NT places to visit, and we go at least twice a year, but I can see me going back a lot more times than that over the next 10 years. #lovedemorgan

Okay my art fan girl thing aside I'll get to what most of you are here for, and talk about the cards I recently created, I was chuffed when I saw what the free stamp set with issue 42 of Creative Stamping was full of enchanted fantasy characters like knights, princesses, dragons, unicorns and even a fairy tale castle to boot. The set also contains playing cards and and other elements and lots of useful sentiments.

When I got my copy I immediately started to play with the set stamping the Unicorn on to white card and colouring it in with my Zig brush pens. Then yesterday I decided to have a play with my new Distress Oxide inks. By the end of the evening I'd created 3 A6 cards in bright colours for my box.

I started by creating backgrounds with the Distress Oxides laying down bands of colour that blend so easily. Once I had the colours I wanted I placed some masks over the inked panels and sprayed water on to the unmasked area. I left it a few minutes then used some kitchen roll to blot up the excess water, this created the lighter pattern on the background. During this exercise, I realised that most of my masks were Christmas or cat orientated so I had a limited selection, which has now been rectified thanks to Ebay lol!

I removed the masks and left the pieces to dry completely, then I die cut the panels with a stitched edge die and placed the panels in my new Tim Holtz Stamping platform, I used a powder tool first then stamped the images with Versamark and heat embossed in white and gold.

Once the image was heat set I used some bleach in a water brush pen to change the colour of the oxide inks to make the images pop, when the bleached area was dry I added some shimmer pen to finish. I used the sentiments from the set and heat embossed each one on to some vellum strips and finished with some sequins from my stash.

I love this stamp set so much, and know that it will get lots of use, I've already created some different styles of toppers since I got the set, I may be a little addicted, especially to the unicorn. The stamp sets with Creative Stamping  just keep getting better, in the future I'd love to see some cat and kitten stamps, and maybe a signs of the zodiac set with some month sentiment stamps. I can't wait to make more cards using this set, I will certainly be making more distressed backgrounds using the oxide inks as well. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Wreath of Roses Cards

I think I'll have to change the name of my blog to 'Just Another Floral' or something, I'm sorry but not sorry for the influx of floral images about to come this blogs way but hey ho, its my blog and I'm indulging in a little paper gardening. I blame Tara over at Seven Hills Crafts for getting lots of lovely floral stamps and dies, the latest to fall in to my basket and join my craft stash is this lovely little 'Wreath of Roses' stamp and die from Lil'Inker Designs.

I've discovered that the best way to use this set, is to first die cut the shape, then put the card piece you die cut from and the shape in to a stamping tool like the MISTI, line up the stamp and stamp the image exactly where you want it. I did try stamping first then die cutting but the die is solid so you can't see if you are lining up properly and my image wasn't accurately lined up so pieces got chopped off flowers.

I think I'm having a bit of a light and dark phase at the moment, maybe something to do with the days getting lighter after winter or maybe my brain wants creative contrast. Suffice to say when I make a light version of a card, I can't help but wonder what it would look like if it was done in darker tones?

First the light card, I used two elements from my MSD box for this card, the wood-grain effect panel was done with a Darice Wood Grain embossing folder and was intended for a christmas card background but I decided to go with something else so in my Maybe Some Day Box the panel sat along with the white frame cut from an Avery Elle die set called 'Scalloped Pierced Rectangles', which I confess to being disappointed with because I didn't realise it cut a thin frame, I expected it to cut solid pieces, but hey ho!

The frame from my box even had 3D foam pads on ready to use, I cut it for a card but wasn't happy with the design, so in my box the frame went. I trimmed the wood grain panel down a little and fixed it to a 5" x 7" white card blank and added the white frame. The rose wreath on this card was coloured with my Zig Clean Color Real Brush pens which I adore, I haven't got the shading technique quiet right, but I'm getting there and loving the vibrant results I get using them. I added some shimmer with a Spectrum Noir Clear Sparkle Pen, the effect in real life is amazing, it really does give an added dimension to your creations.

I added a sentiment from the Wreath of Roses stamp set on to a scarp of white card that was cut to fit across the back of the wreath by 2/3rds. As an aside the stamp set comes with 8 different sentiments and the die wreath has the word 'hello' with it. I added the wreath to the sentiment card with 3D foam pads and attached the wreath to the wood grain panel with more 3D foam pads so that the leaves from a couple of parts of the wreath overhung the scalloped frame et voila!

As I pointed out earlier in the post when I make a light coloured card, I'm wanting to make a darker version and this is the darker version of the wreath of roses card. I created the background last week when I was experimenting with Nuvo Mousse -further details can be found in my Proud as a Peacock post from the other day.

To create the embossed panel the shades of Nuvo Mousse used were 'Aubergine' added all over a piece of black card as described in my previous post. Once I had enough coverage I embossed the panel using the 'Rose Garden' embossing folder from Crafters Companion Shabby Chic range. I then used a mini blending tool to apply some 'Peony Pink' Nuvo Mousse to the raised areas to bring out the detail.

I used the same technique to make the wreath panel as I did for the light version, colouring the wreath on this card with metallic gelatos, I bought them last Summer on my holidays but only got round to using them this weekend! I loved the results though so I expect I'll be using them a lot more in the future ;)

I made my own card blank from a piece of the same black card I made the wreath panel from and decided to round off the bottom corners of the embossed panel and the card blank for added interest. I think the end result is rather effective and the light and dark versions of the card have their own merits, but I love the darker version the most. What about you do you prefer the light or the dark version? More from me soon when I'll be continuing to explore my darker side, until then happy creating, keep well and stay safe!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Proud As A Peacock...

I'm really pleased with the way this card turned out, and its the first of what will be a long line of peacock cards that I'll be creating over the next few months, not because I've acquired this die, but because I've been acquiring lots of peacock related stash from embossing folders to stamps, dies and paper backgrounds.

It seems I have some affinity with the peacock, although I'm not sure what or how aside from the fact that the stunning colours that they display has appealed to me since I was a young girl.

The die on this card is another of my cheap Demiawaking bargain dies from Amazon its a lot like the Tattered Lace Peacock die but the Demiawaking Peacock is just £2.99 with free postage. It took a little while to arrive but the cash saving was so worth the wait.  It's different insomuch as the tail on the TL die is longer and points to the left and the the beak and feather crest are more elaborately defined, but for a saving of around £16 I don't mind the detail not being as good. I have to point out that the TL die that is similar to the cheaper one is now retired by TL and they've replaced it with a different peacock which in my opinion isn't as nice.

On to the actual card construction now, I've added 10 different colours of Nuvo Mousse by Tonic Studios to my stash over the past few months, but as yet hadn't played with them. I have seen other people use them including Christine Smith from Crafti Potential and decided I wanted to create some of the lovely silky metallic goodness they seemed capable of, and I wasn't disappointed. I love adding texture to my cards, so I often use embossing folders and I like to add some metallic shimmer and until now have used gilding wax to achieve the result like on these fairy cards I made last year, but as pretty as the effect is, its a bit uneven. The beauty of Nuvo Mousse is it can be used in so many different ways, as a wash, a paint even put in a spray bottle to make a shimmery mist.

I started with a piece of white card in the case of the wood-grain and feather backgrounds and used black card for the rose and script panels. I applied the Nuvo Mousse using a mini blending tool - the kind used for distress inks - it went on smoothly, some colours I noticed seem to sink in to the card a little more than others, but I think that was down to the cardstock I was using.

For the peacock feather background I first applied a band of 'Spring Green' Nuvo Mousse followed by 'Aquamarine' finishing with 'Pacific Teal' blending each colour in to the next to create a smooth blended look. I then let the panel dry, it dries very quickly but if you're impatient, you can use a heat gun to dry the mousse off. Once dry I ran the panel through my Big Shot inside a Crafters Companion embossing folder from the Kimono range aptly called 'Peacock Feathers'. I went over the embossed area with a little 'Peacock Feathers' distress ink to help bring out the pattern on the feathers even more.

I knew from the start I wanted to give the die some colour and I'd been saving something for just the right purpose and I'm rather pleased with the result. I can't take the credit for the idea I picked it up from my card making friend Jackie Trinder from Tiny Rose's Craft Room who makes some fabulous cards. I think Jackie may have got the idea from someone else, that's how this crafting lark works, we learn from each other. When I first read what Jackie wrote, I could have kicked myself as I'd been throwing this things away for ages!

And what was my light bulb moment? Don't throw away paper towels that you use to clean up inky messes generated when you clean your craft mat after making inky messes using things like Pixie Powders that have mica powders in them.

Instead put the paper towels to dry and use them to back die cuts, or glue them to the front of a card and then embossed it to create a really fun card that looks like you've used a piece of fabric. Simples!

The end results are fabulous, I have a box now, full of paper towels pieces in an array of colours some single colours, others in multi coloured tones like this one that I used for the feather background.  To add the coloured piece to the gold foiled card die cut I traced round the die cut with a pen and cut the shape out. Then I added glue to the back of the die cut and put the coloured panel in place and trimmed it to the exact shape where there was any over hang.

If you hold the peacock up to the light the effect is stunning, almost stained glass like, I've tried die cutting the paper towels and whilst it will cut in basic shapes like circles and squares, some of the more intricate detailed dies don't have the pressure required the paper towel doesn't always cut.

I made my own card blank from a piece of dual coloured card from a 12" x 12" pad from The Range and cut a circle from the lighter side to emboss a sentiment from the Wild Rose Studios 'Circle Greetings' stamp set using Metallic Gold Super Fine WOW embossing powder, which seems to be my embossing powder of choice at the moment. I backed the sentiment on to a piece of gold card the same as the die cut after die cutting it out with a die from the Presscut 'Round Dies Stitched Holes' set.

After adding the sentiment I thought that the card still needed something, I tried adding some white feathers I bought for another card but they were too big, then I remembered a die set of small feathers I got recently by EK Success from their Cutter Bee range and after colouring a scrap of white card with some more 'Pacific Teal' Nuvo Mousse, I die cut a couple of the smaller feathers from the set and attached them with a little glue under the sentiment. To finish the card, I added a small blueish green coloured gem to the peacock's eye and there it was my first peacock card of the year created.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Altenew Build A Flower - Camellia

I'm not sure if its due to the herbaholic in me, but whatever the reason is, I think its obvious to note that I adore floral stamps and images. This makes me a big fan of Altenew who make some absolutely stunning floral stamps, many of which have matching dies.

I was thrilled to discover last month that they were introducing Altenew Build A Flower, a monthly set on floral dies and stamps that can only be bought as a set. The first flower to the collection is the Camellia a single bloom that measures approx 8.5 x 7.5cm in size and is stamped in 3 layers.

The set includes a triple leaf stamp again with 3 layers, in the cards I've created with the image I've done the top layer in a darker contrasting ink colour and also using gold embossing powder, I love both effects but think that the gold embossed card looks more regal and would be perfect for special occasion cards. Although I must admit to liking to add gold embossing and splashes of gold to lots of my projects.

The set also comes with 2 sentiments as can be seen on the Altenew product photo here and also on my other card images below. I've been a fan of Altenew now a year or more, I'd seen photos of the products prior to getting a free small rose and Altenew die stamp from Simply Cards & Papercraft last year. But I wasn't sure I'd be able to stamp the images accurately and line everything up.

As it turned out I wasn't 100% accurate, you can see some of the cards I created using the freebie here, but the beauty of these layering stamps is they are very forgiving, and if you don't get it spot on it doesn't matter, if nature things are not always picture perfect! I quickly ordered the Vintage Roses and Beautiful Day sets and have since acquired more Altenew stamp and die sets, even buying some none floral, because I love the quality of the stamps and the beautiful images.

I can see me getting lots of use out of each of the Build a Flower sets, flowers can be used to decorate cards for many occasions and if you use fabric paints, you can use the stamps to decorate fabrics, something I plan on doing in the not too distant future with a selection of archival inks. I've yet to make a card with more than one of the camellia images on, I think being a large bold flower you can get away with just 1 image which makes creating lots of cards a doddle.

I used my MISTI to stamp the images, to save having to keep moving the stamp, I cut some white card in to 9cm x 9cm pieces and worked through stamping all the base layers in one colour, then switching to the next colour and moving on to the second and third layers. Doing this means you only have to align the stamp once making it easier and quicker to stamp lots of the images in one go.

I used Altenew inks to stamp my images, not that I'm a fan girl or anything, I love the fact that Altenew inks come in cube sets that contain light, medium and dark shades of ink that contrast making them ideal for stamping layered images. I used the Red Cosmos and Green Fields ink cube sets for the red camellia card, and Rose Petal and Tropical Forest sets for the pink colour way and Tropical Forest again for the leaves on the peachy orange card and the Warm and Cozy ink cube set to create the orange camellia.

The cards themselves came together really quickly after I'd stamped and die cut the camellia's out, and I have lots more camellias ready to use on other cards. For the card in the main photo I used a card blank from my Maybe Someday box, when I was making the wedding invitations for my stepson, I embossed lots of patterns until I found the one I truly liked, those discarded cards with embossed patterns not right for the invites went in my MSD box for use at another point. I love that when I need something to cement an idea in place, I can dip in to that box and come up trumps.

The embossing folder I used on a 6" x 6" white card blank is by X-Cut and is called "Square Gilt Frame", I think it makes a stunning frame for a clean and simple card. I added the camellia on foam pads to give it some dimension and glued the 3 sets of leaves direct to the card, I finished the design off with a sentiment die cut from gold foiled card using one of the dies from the Paper Smooches Love and Cherish die set. For the other two cards I used some papers from a Wild Rose Studios paper pad called 'Peach Blossom' that I got free when I subscribed to a magazine a couple of years ago, the colours were perfect for the cards I wanted to create.

The stamped edged panel was created with one of my recent bargains found on Amazon, nesting die sets good quality at cheap prices. The postage stamp style set is known as a Square Wave Frame and cost me £3.99 with free postage, not bad for a set of 6 dies where the largest is 12cm x 12cm and the smallest 2cm x 2cm. They cut beautifully as well, and are very strong and sturdy. I have bought from two companies so far Demiawaking and CalistoUK, of the two I've bought mostly from Demiawaking, CalistoUK takes forever to get your items to you, but I could have just been unlucky. There are lots of sets available, I have to say that I've bough some of the expensive Avery Elle and My Favorite Things dies and these cheap one cut just as well.

That said on the waved border dies, one of the dies isn't cut properly so the edge is flawed, but you have to be looking for it to notice and for £2.99 for a set of 4 dies as opposed to £12 or more for a set of 3 similar dies by Lawn Fawn the saving is worth it, if it means that I have more money in my pocket to indulge my passion for florals. Like anything its buyer beware, not all of the dies are good quality, but if you read reviews and ask around you can weed out the good from the bad.

I'm already anticipating the next Build a Flower release which is a gorgeous large Aster image, this one comes with 4 sentiments, I can't wait to play with this beauty, and I'm really looking forward to what the next 10 months with bring in terms of floral images from one of my fav stamp and die companies.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

All Occassion Roses

I mentioned in my previous post how I was a little bit of a rose addict, this upon reflection isn't really an exaggeration, says she sat wearing rose scented perfume, with a rose candle burning and a cat called Rosie sat on her lap all snug and comfy, after coming in from the garden checking what needs doing to all the rose bushes out there, me not Rosie lol! The only thing  I don't have yet are rose tinted spectacles, but there's time and I do need to make an opticians appointment this week lol! I love herbs and flowers and as roses count as herbs due to their myriad of medicinal, cosmetic and culinary uses they have become my favourite herb as well, I make wine and vinegar from the petals and lots of other rose infused products, like rose petal sugar for baking. If people are interested I'll share some recipes and history?

Back to card making, I needed some late night crafting therapy last week, I'm at that funny age that gets called the menopause and is often spoken about in whispers. I've been very lucky so far, and escaped with very few menopause symptoms, one issue I do have though is suffering from crazy sleep patterns, sometimes my body refuses to get tired until 4am in the morning which is an actual pain.

So instead of fretting about not sleeping, I've started stamping or colouring pre-stamped images ready for using on future projects. This level of stamping is enough to keep me occupied without making too much noise, so I don't keep Simon awake and it furnishes me with things to turn in to projects like in the first photo.

I'm using my MISTI stamping tool a lot more these days, I stamp several sheets at a time with a leaf then move it along and stamp more until the A5 sheet is full and I have several sheets of each image I want to die cut. Doing it this way saves a lot of lining up, once you have the first image in position then on the rest of the sheets the images will be in the exact same place.

I decided to make several sets of cards to sell, I say to sell but not to make a profit, I'm just covering the cost of materials, plus every set of cards sold I give £2 to my local Cats Protection. People have been asking to buy cards I make for a while and I've done a few commissions but so far I haven't sold cards.

The rose and leaves are from an Altenew stamp and die set called 'Beautiful day', I stamped each image using Altenew Crisp Ink cubes, they stamp a little splotchy but they even out as they dry to give wonderful results. I've collected so far 11 of the 15 sets of ink cubes that Altenew have released, if you're interested in which colours I used for any particular rose leave me a comment and I'll let you know.

In the image at the beginning of this post the photo shows a few cards where the outline of the stamp was done with Versamark ink and Gold embossing powder, but for these cards I decided to stamp the outline with black ink. I used 'Black Licorice' My Favorite Things Hybrid Ink, it gives lovely crisp images and I can use it with my Zig brush pens and the ink doesn't bleed.

The roses were added to the centre panels using 3D foam pads, regular readers of my blog will have noted that I once again have made use of 2 of the dies from the Tonic Studios Sew Pretty - Have A Beautiful Day Circle Frame. I've used it on a far few cards now, its so versatile. My sentiment banners were all made using the Hero Arts 'Ribbon Messages Stamp & Cut' set and were stamped with Black Onyx Versafine ink. I used pre-made card blanks with a scalloped edge the ones I used this time were 5" x 5" and come with envelopes.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Pixie Powdered Roses

Hello everyone, I hope life is being kind to you and if you're a crafter like me, you're getting some time to create. There has been some highs and lows at Warts n' All Towers recently, I didn't even get an interview for the job I applied for and I was pretty confident that I'd at least be interviewed, there has been a couple of family things happening as well but we seem to have survived. It's not all been gloomy though, hubby surprised me by booking tickets to go see a rock band we both like, and there have been a few other positive things happening that I'll talk more about if they become 'a thing', but for now life is good and today we had sunshine and I went for a lovely walk in the sun with my hubby, bliss :)

I have been doing lots of card making recently, a couple of commissions still to do and I've made a few cards for my family which I'll share soon, I've also been playing with my Altenew floral stamps, again a post on those cards coming soon. It occurred to me though that I forgot to share some cards I made earlier last month using some Tonic and Sue Wilson dies and of course my beloved Pixie Powders.

I think its pretty safe to say that I love a bit of sparkle and lovely bold colours and when I get chance I add something glittery or shimmery to my cards, and Pixie Powders give shimmer and vibrant colour to a project so they are a win, win.

I started these cards after having a few hours playing with Pixie Powders and creating backgrounds in a lot of different colour variations, some for these projects and some for future projects. On this background I used Sun Yellow, Mango Blaze and a little Burnt Orange to create this gorgeous sunny yellow piece.  For the green leaves I used Olive, Spearmint and Emerald Green.

Once I'd mopped up the excess liquid with paper towels and put the paper towels to dry for a future project and the pieces I'd created had dried thoroughly, I set to die cutting the roses using the Sue Wilson 'Blushing Rose' die set, on the yellow card I used white 220gsm cardstock to cut the frames for the roses and for the layers, and the gift tag. I also used some bright yellow card stock I got from the Range in a mixed pack, the layers were cut using a selection of dies from the Tonic Bowscale set. The tag was cut using the Tonic 'Memento Frame Die' and the Best Friends die was cut from the Pixie Powdered piece from another Tonic die called 'Best Friends'.

I did exactly the same thing for the pink colour way this time using Candy Pink, Lava Red and a little Aubergine Dream. The frames for the roses were cut from White with a Hint of Silver Centura Pearl card stock.

All the die cutting aside they were really easy to put together, a little cosmic shimmer glue and I used 3D foam pads for the roses to give them some dimension. I made the tag and card as a set to send with little gifts to my good friends. I really do love the rose die though, I think I may be a rose addict.  That's all for now my crafty friends, I'm off to play some more with stamps and inks and markers to see what other floral delights I can create and to count my blessings. I hope the week ahead for you is full of sunshine and laughter, happy mothers day to those celebrating it this weekend and hugs to all those, like me who miss their Mum's at this time of year.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Finding the Taylor's

Sarah Jane Webster nee Taylor (1886-1945)
Last time I posted about my family research I mentioned that I'd discovered the maiden name of my paternal Great Grandmother thanks to finding and connecting with my lovely cousins on Facebook. Five of us met up at the grave of Jesse & Sarah Jane Webster last weekend and went for a meal afterwards sharing stories, looking at a few photos and feeling like we've known each other all our lives.

This weekend me and my hubby are off to help one of my newly found cousins celebrate her 70th birthday and more of the Webster clan are going to be there, I'm so looking forward to meeting them and the rest of the extended family. As you may guess I've been delving into Find My Past and other sites as well as pouring through the documents and photos I have and I've had a very productive week.

4 weeks ago I didn't even know my Great Grandmother's maiden name, now I know that, where she was born, her parents names and where she lived before she met my Great Grandad. So far I've got as far back as 1881 with the Taylor family, I'm not ruling out getting further back with them, but I want to look more at the Webster family which is my actual family line. This post though is here more to show my cousins what I've found and for any other Taylor's out there who may be related to us via Sarah Jane who had a lot of brothers and sisters.

1881 Census

Without a maiden name for Scottish Sarah my Great, Great Grandmother, I can’t get further back on her side, and as I don’t know when Cockney Ned came to Manchester and without his Father or Mother’s name I can't get any further information, so I’ll update this if and when I’ve discovered more. The Taylor journey begins though with Edward and Sarah Snr in 1881, they have no children as yet, so we can suppose they are newly married and they reside at 13 Chapel Street, Droylsden. More about Droylsden can be found here if you're so inclined. Coincidentally I lived in Droylsden in the 1980's not far from where the Taylor's lived and I never knew about it, but I'm very familiar with the area.

I started trawling through the census records but I couldn’t find Edward and Sarah in 1881 in the transcript information, however there was a record that stuck out but the transcription said both of them were born in Cheshire, England. Cheshire is nowhere near Scotland but I decided to check the image anyway and the actual census image says Scotland for her and Bow, Middlesex for him! Bow is in the East End of London, apparently "Bow" is an abbreviation of the medieval name Stratford-atte-Bow, which refers to a 12th century bridge. So take note would be family researchers, don't discard any piece of information until you've checked it properly!

1881 Census Details

In 1881, Edward’s occupation is that of an Iron Driller and he says he was born in 1855 (he told porkies) and Sarah Snr is down as a Cotton Weaver born in 1858. Droylsden at the time had 5 cotton mills including Christy’s Towels, so she would have been working in 1 of them. To cause confusion, Ned changes his year of birth to 1859 as does Sarah in the 1891 and 1901 census. Then Ned puts down 1857 as the year of his birth in the 1911 census. I need to find a true date of birth for him which I will do soon, I wonder if our ancestors knew the confusion they would cause in the future by their little embellishments of the truth?

1891 Census

Moving on to the 1891 census, Ned’s place of birth is now given as Stratford, Essex which is not far from Bow, why these people aren’t consistent I don’t know lol! The family lived at 8 Brown Street, Openshaw, Manchester, Edward is an Iron Slotter and we learn that Sarah Snr hails not just Scotland, but from Glasgow in Scotland. Brown Street no longer exists, well it does but Manchester Council in their wisdom decided to rename the street to Brunner Street just to cause confusion, but doing some digging last night, I found an old map online showing where Brown Street was, not far from Ogden Lane where my Grandad Webster had his pub!

Oddly Sarah Jane isn’t on this census despite being 5 years old at the time, some would hazard I have the wrong family but as I’m back tracking the family via the census from 1901 I know it’s the right family, so there has to be another explanation for her being missing. Something a few of my cousins have said about Sarah Jane suffering badly from epilepsy has me wondering if she was getting some treatment somewhere for the condition when the census was being taken?

Prestwich Hospital treated epileptics as well as other problems, although whether they took children is something I've yet to determine. Alternatively she could have just been staying with other family like an Aunt who had married someone of a different name than Taylor? Without sibling names for Ned and Sarah Snr I can't investigate this route yet and I haven't found Sarah Jane in the census records as yet, but I will, its just another mystery to solve.

1901 Census

Moving on to 1901 and Ned and the family live at 37 Peary Street, North Manchester, Prestwich, Lancashire, but Peary Street was viewed as being in Clayton by the locals! Prestwich is a far way from Clayton as far as today's maps and perceptions are, but not apparently back then. Something else this family research lark has taught me, NEVER and I repeat NEVER assume that the area you know as X is indeed X, and certainly don't count out a person because you think they are from X and they are listed as being in Z; because X and Z could have been Y when your ancestor was alive!

In this census, Edward is listed as being a labourer at the iron works (yet to discover which one, but could have been Richard Johnson & Nephew aka Bradford Ironworks), and the family consisted of the following members: -

Sarah Jane and Edward Jnr are listed this time, but both George (who would have been 19) and Thomas (who would have been 10) are not. George could have gone on to have a family of his own by 19, which accounts for why he would no longer have been at home, but he could equally also be serving his country in the Boer War (1899-1902) or succumbed to one of the prevalent diseases of the time such as consumption, smallpox or cholera. I need to investigate him further, when I have more time, and as there is no mention of Thomas, again we can assume he died young and investigate accordingly.

I know some of my cousins believe that Sarah Jane was born in Ashton-in-Makerfield making her a Scouser but she wasn’t, I know this is her family because of all the things that match what we know about them.

1) The head of household is called Edward Taylor and is from Bow/Stratford, Essex - for those that don’t know Stratford is part of London and not Stratford-Upon-Avon as I once thought, see what I mean about not accepting the notions of one place for another? So Ned will have had a cockney accent, justifying the nickname my cousin Joyce remembers of ‘Cockney Ned’.

2) His wife – Sarah – is from Scotland as Joyce remembers.

3) In 1935 Arthur Taylor (Sarah Jane’s brother), was a witness at my Nanna & Grandad Webster’s wedding, and I think Joyce remembers references to sister of Sarah Jane’s called Thersea as well.

It should be noted that Nelly as we’ll see in the 1911 census was actually called Ellen and not Nelly, her pet name gets corrected in the 1911 census. [See 1911 census to help clarify the above (I hope!)]

1901 Census Details

Civil Parish – North Manchester
Ecclesiastical Parish – Clayton, St Cross Parish
County Borough – Manchester (Part of)
Ward of Municipal Borough – Bradford
Parliamentary Division – Prestwich of South East Lancashire

Cockney Ned and his brood lived on Peary Street, which was in Clayton, Manchester, the houses are no longer there sadly. I've added an historical map capture from the 19th century which shows where all the towns etc were.

In the old boundaries and maps these areas came under the registration district of Chorlton which was created in 1837 and abolished in 1925 to become Manchester South. During those years Chorlton district gained part of the parish of Openshaw, from the Ashton-under-Lyne registration district. Until 24th March 1889 Openshaw had formed a detached part of the parish of Droylsden, including Little Droylsden, Clayton was also part of that parish and was under the Parish of Ashton.

Which will explain why in some documents Sarah lists Ashton as her place of birth, because back in 1886 it would have been. Boundaries changed and the world got bigger for our ancestors. I need to go look at the Parish records for Clayton and I may get a baptism certificate for Sarah Jane or other info like her mother’s maiden name etc. One of the cousins thinks her mother could have been called McKay which connects with the Scottish element but needs to be investigated.

1911 Census

In 1911 the Taylor family lived at 24 Boond Street, Greengate Salford, Salford, Lancashire, again none of the houses on that street survive, the area is all car parks and industrial units now. Note the street was actually called Boond Street, it isn't a typo!

The 1911 census is how some of my cousins got confused thinking that Sarah Jane came from Ashton-in-Makerfield, given that Jesse, his Father and Grandfather etc came from the Wirral. It’s a logical assumption to make that Sarah Jane also hails from the Wirral, but she was a Mancunian born and bred, insomuch as she could be a Manc having a Cockney Father and Scottish mother. The confusion doesn't arise from the Taylor 1911 census above, but from Jesse Webster's 1911 census where Sarah Jane puts her place of birth as Ashton, Lancs.

It’s Sarah Jane and Jesse - who signs himself as John, just to frustrate the hell out of future generations - themselves who fuel this confusion. In 1911 Jesse & Sarah Jane are living at 36 Bury Street, Salford. Jesse (John) is down as being an Excavating Labourer and they have 3 children listed, these are Fred (my Grandad), Henry and Lydia one of his brothers and sisters.

On the 1911 census form there was a column for “Total Children Born Alive” they list 4, in the column for “Children Still Living” they have put 3 and “Children Who Have Died” 1.
So Jesse and Sarah Jane have lost 1 child by the 1911 census. I suspect it was male child called Maurice born in 1907, I need to investigate further, but we know it wasn’t any of the siblings we know about and it wasn’t John (who died of polio before he reached 10 years of age) because he wasn’t born until 1925.

Things Still to Discover.

1) When did Cockney Ned come to Manchester from London, how did he meet Sarah Snr and if she was born in Scotland, how did she end up in Manchester?

2) What was Sarah Snr’s Maiden name.

3) Somebody somewhere said they had seen a document (or heard a story) where Jesse was lodging with some woman. I need to know where and when, I suspect Jesse came to Manchester to look for work. In Manchester, in the time frame we’re looking at they were just working on and then finishing the Manchester ship canal. Then around 1911 when Jesse is an excavating labourer they were digging and constructing the canals, building arches and lots of other things around Phillip’s Park. In that area there was also a coalmine, iron works and lots of industrial building taking place so lots of work would have been available.

4) Possible ways Jesse & Sarah Jane could have met? Ned and Jesse worked at the same place, alternatively they could have gone to the same pub or same church and that’s how Jesse met Sarah Jane.

What is clear given that Sarah Jane was from Manchester, and Ned was never in the Wirral, the story that's been passed down about Jesse and Sarah fleeing from Parkgate to Manchester to escape Ned cannot be correct. It’s more likely that Ned didn’t like the idea of Jesse marrying Sarah Jane so the couple fled to Park gate where Jesse’s family were, I still can’t find a marriage for Jesse and Sarah Jane and I’ve gone goggle eyed trying! Jesse and Sarah Jane came back to Manchester around 1908/09 because Lydia was born in Salford in 1909 and the family stayed in Manchester after that.

It could also be that there no fleeing and Jesse come to work on the Manchester Ship Canal or similar, found a wife, went back to Neston for work or to be with family then come back to Manchester where the work was or Sarah Jane’s family were? Something to investigate with access to more local history records.

One thing this family history is showing me is there is more to all this family history lark than just names on pieces of paper, I'm becoming fascinated by social history and the lives of people then, its certainly making me see where I've come from and the towns and areas in a different light. Never before had I considered my ancestors shaped Manchester, but they did! No idea why that notion never hit me until now, but I have a new found respect for all they did and for what they coped with.