Monday, October 16, 2006

Bet you thought I'd given up on blogging!

Well, what a busy few weeks it's been! I've spent the best part of the last 2 weeks with my eldest daughter - she was amitted to a hospital 50 miles away as it was feared that she was in premature labour, as all this began when she was only just 27 weeks, it was a huge worry! Fortunately, the wonderful medical staff have managed to persuade baby that it really is too early for him to make his appearance, so she is back at home now - under very strict instructions to rest - we'll have to see how that works!

Just to complicate things - she and her partner were due to move into their new home on the day that she was discharged from hospital. Her partner decided that he would move all their things the night before she came home - without mentioning it to her, of course. What a lovely thing to do - he started work at 6am, finished at 4pm then started the house move - he worked throughout the night to make sure that everything would be sorted by the time she got home - she was so chuffed - I just wish you could have seen her face...

Other news - we finally finished decorating my youngest daughters bedroom - according to her, she now has a princess room. As we have a spare room since DD1 moved out - I now have a dedicated craft room. I absolutely love it - all of my stash is organised and available (I hadn't realised quite how much of it there was!) and it's a joy to work in there. I even have a pink carpet, and a pink radio-cd player! All it needs now is a coffee machine and I'll never need to come out of there...

A knock-on effect from moving all my craft stuff is that we now have our front room back - so I always know there will be at least one tidy room that I can escape to. Our remaining guinea pig died recently, which means that we no longer have to accomodate his massive cage - the result? Our dining room seems to have about doubled in size - all of a sudden, my house feels three times bigger than it did.

DS1 returned to school on a part-time basis - he has CFS - and has subsequently been attacked by tonsillitis yet again, DS2, never liking to feel left-out, has also come down with tonsillitis - so I have the both of them home for the next week - until they finish their antibiotics - when is half-term????

Because of everything that has been going on, I haven't done an awful lot creative just recently. I have made a few ATC's, and will try to get them photographed for the next installment. I have, however, signed up for Shimelle Laines latest online class - the title of this one is 'You Think You Know Me', and as the title suggests, is a take on the book of me idea. I have a feeling that this could be really quite challenging - not least because I'm going to have to have photographs taken! I'm really not at my happiest in front of the lens, and rarely like photos of myself - it will be interesting to see how that turns out...

Anyway, enough from me for now, hopefully I'll be back soon with some more artwork.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

And there's more...

Another job lot - this time because I got behind with my journal - a case of real life getting in the way again!

The prompt for the first layout on this page was about 'secret codes', things which have meaning for us, but not for other people. Mine - "Oh, what a lovely jumper". This is the line I use when I'm presented with an unattractive baby/child to admire. Not admirable, maybe - but there it is. I try to avoid lying, so as a comment of some sort is expected, I usually try to find something positive to say - often, it will be to do with what the child is wearing, or perhaps their hair etc. I know I'm not the only one who does this sort of thing - so next time someone says of one of your offspring - "What a lovely jumper", you'll know what they really mean!

The next layout is kind of a cheat, as it's really a lesson for my youngest daughter, Maddi. She has a tendency to wind up my youngest son, Loaghan, usually with disastrous consequences for herself! I found the photos when I was looking for something else - they kind of jumped out at me - both sequences are similar, and both have the same end result! This layout just perfectly sums up the relationship between these two - mind you, let anyone else try upsetting either one of them - the other will be there in super-fast time to fight their corner for them...

The picture of Maddi on a horse was taken during her very first riding lesson - it's something she's wanted to do for a very long time, and this summer, one of our neighbours very kindly offered to give her a lesson. On the morning of the lesson, Maddi was up bright and early, and checking the time every five minutes. As we were walking to her lesson, she kept on asking whether she was goint to be ok - she was obviously as nervous as she was excited. Before she started the lesson, she helped to groom the horses - there are two of them, who are totally inseperable - sprayed them with some home-made fly repellent and learned something about the horses. She then tried on several hats until she found the one which fitted the best, donned a visibility vest and was then ready to mount the horse. She loved it! She looked totally comfortable, if rather small, on the back of the horse, sat with a beautifully straight back and off she went. She spent about half an hour being led, and now can't wait to have another lesson.

The next layout is about how sometimes I need time by myself - not necessarily a lot of time, but I do need time by myself, totally by myself, from time to time. One of the ways I get that time is to go for a walk, or to sit on the beach - I have a particular spot where I like to sit - it's a large, flat rock in quite an isolated position - from my perch on this rock, I have fabulous views out over the estuary and over to Llansteffan Castle - a ruined castle on top of a hill - it never fails to get my mind sorted, and re-energises me - ready to face the challenges of life once again.

The final layout is about making sure you ask the right person when you want the answers to a problem! This arose from a mistake on my latest telephone bill - when I originally queried the bill, I was told that although the operative couldn't tell me exactly what was going on, that it would be right and I would have to pay the extra charge! I wasn't actually impressed with that explanation, so requested a call from a line manager. When he called - problem sorted! Not only did I not have to pay the unexplained charge, it should in fact have been a credit - so, the extra charge is being removed and a credit made to my account - how much energy did I expend dealing with someone who just didn't have the answers?

We're really close to the end of the month now, and I've really enjoyed working on this journal, and am very happy with how it's turning out - I've decided though, that as I have some extra page protectors in my album, I'm going to do some extra pages to fill them! I think I will continue the theme of learning from life. I already have one or two ideas in mind...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The latest batch...

I had intended to post each of these layouts individually, but unfortunately, blogger wasn't playing - I've not been able to upload pictures for a few days. I've really had some fun with these layouts - I got the idea for the 18th at 3am! No, I didn't throw myself out of bed, rush downstairs and complete the layout then and there - I'm not that addicted to scrapping!

The journalling on the layout reads - 'Sometimes it's not enough just to slow down.' I was laying awake - yet again, when I started thinking about when I started learning to drive - I was 17, and had no idea of the way a car works. So, I thought that if you put your foot on the accelerator to make the car go faster, then you must have to take your foot off the accelerator to slow down - I honestly didn't realise that you had to use the brake as well! Obviously I knew that you needed the brake to actually stop the car, but I hadn't realised how little difference removing your foot from the accelerator would make to the speed the car was travelling. Not surprisingly, perhaps, my driving instructor became a little bit agitated, and yelled at me to put my foot on the brake, I did, and we stopped safely - no crash. So, what does all this have to do with anything? It occurred to me that it's the same in life - sometimes it's enough just to take our foot off the accelerator, and slow down just a little, but there are times when we really do have to slam on the brakes if we want to avoid a crash. I have found this to be particularly true since I've been ill - I'm really bad at listening to my body and to doing what it tells me! Consequently, on more than one occasion, I've crashed and ended up completely housebound for weeks on end - so, I thought it would be a good idea to remind myself of that fact from time to time! The picture is a part of the pier at our local beach - a place I love to go when I need some 'me' time, need to get my head straight. Somehow, spending time at the beach really clears my mind and helps me get back on track.

The second layout uses a picture taken by my 10 year old son. He came rushing into the room, asking for my camera - he was so impressed by the sunset that he wanted to try and capture it on film. I was, and am, really impressed with the pictures he took - there has been absolutely no computer enhancement - all I needed to do was to print them out. Seeing the fabulous colours just reminded me of how fabulous is the creation all around us - how much more inspiration do we need? Amazing colours, the play of light and shade, the list goes on....

The final layout in this post is a picture of one of my first attempts at a traybake - I had a sudden urge to do some baking, and this was the result. The journalling reads 'Success is not always about perfection' - the cake may not have looked particularly brilliant, but it certainly tasted good - the kids loved it, too - and they are possibly my harshest critics!

This hasn't been the easiest of weeks, everywhere I turn at the moment, there seems to be bad news - strange how it goes like that sometimes - and the week isn't over yet. Tomorrow is the funeral of a friend who died last week - aged 33, with a husband and two small children. I won't be able to go to the funeral as it's in Lancashire, but will certainly be thinking about her, and all those she has left behind. Something like that sure as heck makes you re-assess your priorities!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Shimelles Class - the halfway mark!

I can hardly believe it - we're halfway through September, and I'm still up to date with my art journal entries! Who would have believed that you really could learn something new everyday. Obviously, the things I've learned aren't all new, some of them are things that I had temporarily forgotten, others are things I hadn't realised were important to me and some of them are new things. This class has really motivated me to look at things in a different way, to consider what I can learn from the day. Some pretty heavy stuff has happened this month, and that has obviously had an impact on the lessons I've learned and the pages I've created. One of the lessons learned, and the one I have based my 16th September page on, is that I need things to be organised. It doesn't always happen, but I'm definitely at my happiest and most relaxed when everything is where it should be - from my craft supplies, to the spare loo rolls and everything in between! In my mind there is a very strong link between an organised home and a clear head - when everything is disorganised, it results in fuzzy thinking. I know this isn't the same for everyone, but I have recognized that it is definitely so for me. I also find that if my head is feeling fuzzy, then a good clear-up session is a wonderful tonic! Not only results in a tidy (ish) home, but a calmer mind.

The other page I've scrapped this weekend reflects the difficulty I have in sharing my feelings with others. I've always been a shoulder to cry on for other people, but have tended to hold in my own feelings and deal with them myself. I am gradually learning that to share my feelings with others not only makes me feel better - it makes them feel better too! Far from burdening others, I've found that people really appreciate being trusted with your deepest feelings and will rarely abuse the trust you have placed in them. I still need to work on this, but I am getting there...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Lots of ATC's

Various ATC's today - I felt the need yesterday to do something creative, so lots of ATC's! I used lots of different techniques for these - really just playing about and seeing what happened. The ribbon cards were possibly the most challenging - there are only so many things you can do with ribbon on a 2.5inx3.5in card! The first was simply strips of ribbon, with a ribbon flower and a strip of grosgrain ribbon around the bottom part of the card with a metal butterfly for emphasis. The second was ribbon weaving using various shades of pink ribbon, including some metallic paper ribbon. I then stitched a stem using various colours of glass seed beads, and topped this with a rose, again made from ribbon. The final one is a seaside scene using various colours and textures of ribbon, with seed beads, a flat backed gem and a starfish charm to finish it. I think, of the three, the woven one is probably my favourite - somehow, it just worked.

The ATC's in the Stamp set were great fun to make. I decided to make one using a postage stamp, one using a rubber stamped image and one using both postage stamps and rubber stamping. The background paper was made by adhering various different pieces of paper and card, as well as some sequin waste to a piece of thin white card. I then applied acrylic paint in 2 shades of red, and 1 of blue in a random way. Once this layer was dry, I added highlights with copper metallic acrylic paint. I then cut the paper into ATC's. The final result is lovely - lots of colour and texture! The postage stamp ATC is the one with the snake - I made a frame from an old slide mount, which I covered with some of the backing paper, I then added gold paint and copper acrylic, which I rubbed with some kitchen paper - this gave a lovely aged finish. I then finished the card with a strip of textured ribbon. The rubber stamped card is made by stamping an image onto tissue paper then adhering this to the background. Once the glue was dry, I added a layer of clear embossing ink and some clear embossing powder and heated to melt the powder - I built up 3 layers, randomly over the stamped image - this causes the image to become semi transparent - an effect I really like. The final card, the one using the combination of postage stamps and rubber stamping uses the theme - Queen. I built up a collage using postage stamps, all having an image of Queen Elizabeth. I then added a layer of mod podge to seal the stamps, and whilst this was still wet, I sprinkled on some gold embossing powder then heated to melt the powder. Once this was fully dry, I rubber stamped an image of a queen using stazon ink - this gave a subtle image, and lots of texture.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

More class layouts

Two more layouts. The first shows my daughter climbing a particularly steep slope. The journalling says 'Never, ever, let your children choose where to walk the dog!' As you may have guessed, I made that particular mistake today - the children decided that we should go to Bluebell Wood. What they didn't think to mention was that this was going to involve fighting my way through man-eating triffids, wading up river beds, negotiating slippery stepping stones, limboing under low branches, climbing steep slopes - aided only by a dodgy rope and encouraging calls from the children, then sliding down said slopes on my backside because the slopes were too steep to get down safely any other way! Needless to say, next time I will be choosing where we walk, and I can guarantee that it will be somewhere flat!!

The second layout is a more serious one - as previously mentioned, a friend died yesterday - this gave my lesson for the day - Life isn't fair, and it can be very painful - but you come out the other side a stronger person. Not always easy to remember at the time, but true nonetheless.


This is my class layout for the 12th. I live in such a beautiful part of the country, and really wanted to show that in my journal/scrapbook. We have the most fantastic views from every window in our house - seas and forestry out the front windows, and farmland out the back windows. This picture, though, was taken at the butterfly garden. This is a garden owned by a local lady - a wonderful, kind and funny lady, who kindly allows anyone who would like to, to spend time in the garden. She also gave the children in the village school space for a vegetable patch - they have been growing peas, beans, marrows, courgettes, tomatoes etc. Our two youngest have really enjoyed this particular experience, and we've even been able to sample the fruits of their labours!

Yesterday was not a good day - a friend died unexpectedly. She was only 33, and had 2 very young children - I really can't imagine how they must be feeling just now. It's hit her friends really hard - I guess it reminds us all of our mortality. My thoughts and prayers are with all of those who knew and loved her.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Catch-up time!

Three layouts for the price of one! We had a busy, family weekend so I didn't get any scrapping done. However, today, after tackling the tip that is my craft space - I managed to catch up with the class. The first, 9th September, is a photo of the sand underneath the pier on our local beach - showing the effects of light and shade. Like so much in life, it's the light and shade which makes it interesting!

Second, 10th September, has the journalling 'What you see depends entirely on where you stand'. As I already said, over the weekend we had family visiting and a couple of things that happened made me think about this - if you look for bad things - you will invariably find them, but conversely, if you look for good stuff you will find that too...

The final layout is a huge one for me. I really HATE and DETEST having my photo taken, always have - even my wedding photos are more of the guests than they are of me! I'm more than happy to be on the other side of the camera, but never like photos of myself. My youngest daughter (6) took this photo and I was surprised to find that not only did I not hate it, I even quite like it! Perhaps I'm finally learning to be comfortable with who I am, or maybe it's just a particularly flattering photo...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Make time to dream...

Todays entry in my journal was more of a reminder of something I already know, but sometimes forget to remember! This fab picture of my dog, Muppet, made me think about the importance of dreams, most particularly that we must make time to dream - it's that important. Without our dreams, what are we? A bit deep and philosophical for a friday evening, I know, but true nonetheless!! The importance of dreams is in the having of them, not necessarily in the acheiving of them - our dreams are what impel us forward, make us reach for the stars, try a little harder than we might otherwise do - without them, we might as well be automatons, our dreams are what make us human, after all.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Sometimes, it just doesn't work!

The journalling on this layout reads: Sometimes, however hard you try, however patient you are - things just don't turn out the way you want them to! But, that shouldn't stop you from trying.

This works for me on a couple of levels,

1. This series of photos was taken while my cat, David, was desperately trying to get my next door neighbour, whose leg you can see in the photo, to make a fuss of him - it didn't happen!

2. I have been trying for years, literally, to get a photo of David in all his glory - he really is a beautiful and elegant cat, and he has a wonderful pose - reminiscent of the egyptian Bast cat. The wretched cat is just not having any of it! Every time he sees the camera, he does anything but elegant - most times he just does the melted cat thing - kind of slumps into a puddle of fur - not good for photographic purposes...

Of course, there is a much more serious side to this - we're all familiar with the old saw - If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. This gives the impression that if you try enough, it will happen! Unfortunately, this is real life and it doesn't always happen the way we want it to - however many times we try! However, knowing that might incline us to give up - if it isn't going to work anyway, why should I keep trying? - the problem with that, is that we never know in advance which things will work and which won't. It's even likely that things may not work out the way you had hoped/planned, but the end result is just as good - perhaps in a different way. We really should make the effort to look for the lessons in everything we do - when we stop trying, we stop living!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sometimes, it's good to say "NO"!!

Today's layout is a little different in that it has no photo. Wednesday is my day to spend with my mum - we usually try to do something together - forget the housework etc, and do something fun. Obviously that's not been easy over the past few weeks with it being school summer holidays. Well, the children went back to school yesterday, so today was the first wednesday in a couple of months that we had together. Then dd1 phones to ask if she can come over too. The problem is this - I love my mum, and dd1, to bits - but when they are together, they really do my head in! They totally spark off each other, are competitive and snipe at each other the whole time. So, I said 'NO' to dd1.

What happened?

Nothing! Absolutely nothing! DD just said - "OK, I'll see you later in the week, then". That was it - no tears, no tantrums, nothing! The result - I had a lovely day with my mum, and will be seeing dd later in the week - everyone's happy. So, what did I learn today? That sometimes, you have to say NO, just grit your teeth, take a deep breath, and say it!

I then got to wondering, how much more peaceful my life might have been had I learned this particular lesson a lot earlier!! I haven't quite finished the layout yet - I haven't quite decided on the wording for this lesson, but will add it when I sort it out.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

What have I learned today?

I guess I kind of cheated here, as this is not so much something I learned today, as something of which I was reminded.

I came across this photo of dd2 which was taken in April this year on one of our local beaches. I was struck, as I was then, by her intense concentration on this stick. Nothing special about it, just a stick. She spent ages examining every mm of the stick, turning it in her hands, holding it up to the light, measuring it against herself, sniffing it, even - at one stage - licking it. Then the questions started! What kind of tree did it come from - I didn't know. How did it end up on the beach - probably washed there during one of the recent storms we'd had. How long had it been there - again, I didn't know. The questions continued - all this from one small stick. So, what was my lesson for today? Quite simply, how important it is for us not to lose that child-like sense of curiosity and sense of wonderment at the things around us.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Grandma's-to-be get the symptoms of pregnancy too!

When I was pregnant with each of my children, I, in common with many other mums-to-be, had the most horrendous nightmares about my unborn baby. My eldest daughter is 22 weeks pregnant, and last night, for the first time, I had the same sort of nightmares about her and her baby! Talking to other people about this, it seems that in lots of cases, grandma-to-be knew about the pregnancy before they did! Thinking back, when Beth was first pregnant, I even did a pregnancy test myself because I had the nausea, sickness, sore breasts etc that can signify the early stages of pregnancy! Thankfully, we're only expecting one new baby in the family, according to the scan, the baby is a boy - Beth and her partner have decided to call him JJ, and is due around the 2nd January. Anyway, that's what this page is all about! The journalling reads "Symptoms of Pregnancy are not confined to the mother-to-be - sometimes Grandma-t0-be gets them too!"

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A musing upon slugs...

When I saw this photo of a drop of blood, I was absolutely amazed at just how beautiful it is! I really wouldn't mind this enlarged, framed and hung on my wall...

Anyway, this set me thinking. The first thought to come to mind was just how wonderfully we're made - all this design in one tiny drop of blood!

Next, I thought about how often we find beauty in unexpected places - the patch of wildflowers in an otherwise barren wasteland, the colourful graffiti which adorns the walls of some of the most depressing and run-down estates...

It also made me think of slugs!

"Slugs?" I hear you cry in a horrified voice, "Slugs?"

Yes, slugs! For a long time, I had to use a wheelchair whenever I went out. One of the things I really enjoyed was going out during the evening for a family walk - me in my wheelchair, whichever baby it happened to be at the time sitting on my lap, another in the pushchair, and the oldest walking. We made quite a procession, I can tell you - we became very well known in our local area! We discovered so much about where we lived on those walks - we saw places that we never noticed when we were in the car, it also had the added advantage that it wore the children out and they slept really well when we got back. Anyway, back to the slugs...

One of the drawbacks to the wheelchair was that it had quite a large 'footprint', and as I hated running over any creatures whatsoever, it could be quite a task to navigate around them. Naturally, when it had been raining, there were multitudes of slugs on the pavements - in my efforts to manipulate my wheelchair so that I didn't squash any of them, I began to notice how beautiful they actually are. I hadn't realised until this time how much variation there is in the colouring and pattern on your common slug! It seemed to me that no two are exactly the same. There is also a great variation in the size and shape of the slugs - amazing creatures indeed. I still don't want them in my garden, but I can't help appreciating them. This is something I doubt I would ever have noticed had it not been for the fact that I had to use the wheelchair - I wouldn't have been that close to them, and I certainly wouldn't have taken the time to examine them so closely!

What would I not change about myself?

All of a sudden, I seem to have lots of things to blog! This post is as a result of a question posed on the UK Scrappers forum to which I subscribe. The question was:
I want you to Blog your Favourite part of youself!
We all know we can fill a day describing what we would change - but what wouldnt you change!?!?!?

Good question, I thought! I can so easily think of lots of things I don't like about myself - but is there anything that I really do like?

Yes, actually, there is one thing in particular that I wouldn't change - that is my sense of humour! It has gotten me out of a lot of hassles, broken the ice on more than one occasion and made me quite a few friends. It has also gotten me into trouble more than once - I tend to forget that not everyone shares my somewhat strange sense of humour, and don't always take things in the way in which they were meant! This can be a particular problem online - thank goodness for emoticons! I'm very fortunate in that my husband and both of my younger children share the same warped sense of humour - makes for very entertaining mealtimes! We always sit around the table as a family for our main meal each day - it's a great chance to catch up on everyones news, to iron out any problems that might have arisen and generally to spend time together. The Victorian principle of children being seen and not heard might be a desirable one, but it doesn't happen in our house! It has been known for dinner guests to be somewhat overwhelmed by the repartee flying around the table.

Thinking about this question has really made me smile and appreciate at least one little bit of me, so, thank you, ScrappyFairy for posing this question.

To read this thread on UKS go here

Saturday, September 02, 2006

My first lesson!

Not my first page, but my first lesson! As I mentioned previously, the idea behind this class is to take time to look, to think about what we're seeing and what we can learn from it.

I really love this picture taken on a local beach. It's of a piece of frayed rope which is along the edge of the pier. A couple of things occurred to me whilst looking at this picture - 1. How attractive the fraying looked, yet really this could be considered a flaw in the rope. 2. That this flaw doesn't stop the rope from fulfilling it's purpose.

Well, that got me to thinking that it's similar with people - we often are drawn to them because of their imperfections! It's very difficult to be comfortable around perfection - well, I find it is - it makes me uncomfortable. I would far rather have a beaten up old camper van than a new shiny one - I'm much less scared to use it - it doesn't matter if it acquires a few more dents and scratches along the way, it all adds to the appeal. Same with people, if people are flawed, same as I am, I'm much more comfortable with them. In fact sometimes it's precisely because of their weaknesses that we love them!

Think too, of the Mona Lisa - she's certainly not perfect, she has uneven features, her nose is possibly a bit big - but she's beautiful and undeniably human.

My husband has a blood line in one of his eyes - to me, that makes him special, it's all part of what makes him - him! My youngest daughter has a birthmark on her leg - again, that's very much a part of her - it makes her special. However, none of these perceived imperfections makes us any less able to fulfill our purpose in life - whatever that may be!

Anyway, that's what I learned today - Sometimes it's our imperfections which make us beautiful!.

Creative thinking already!

Ok, this is an extra page that I've decided to do for my journal - there are a couple of reasons for this.

1. I bought a gatefold album, and when I thought about how I was going to arrange my pages, it made sense to have a kind of "explanatory" page.

2. I thought it would be good to write down a bit about what's going on in my life just now, and what motivated me to take this class.

So, there we are, an extra page that I came up with all by myself...

Wet and Windy in West Wales!

Well, September has certainly come storming in here in West Wales - it's blowing a gale here at the moment - around about 60 mph winds just now - we've had the torrential rain as well - guess summer is just about over!

As promised, here is the title page of the journal that I'm going to be working on throughout September. This is an online class project being taught by designer Shimelle Laine, you can check out her blog at
you'll also find details of the class and how to sign up on here. The idea of the class is to learn from the things around us, and to be disciplined enough to complete a page a day - it's definitely going to be a challenge, but there's a great group of girls (haven't come across any guys yet) who are all taking part from around the world. Amazing to see how different the pages are which are being produced!

Being very new to all this, I decided, for the title page at least, to pretty much stick to the suggestions we're given, but I can see that I may well not be doing that so much by the end of the month!! I have to admit to being really quite happy with the title page and was pleasantly surprised at how little time it takes to acheive these kind of results!

I love nothing better than having hours to devote to a project, but let's face it, with 3 children still at home, various animals and real life getting in the way, that doesn't happen too often, so it's great to know that sometimes, all you need is a few minutes...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wednesday, August 30

Surprising how easy it is to log-in here when I use the right username! I've been having problems for weeks now, trying to get into my blog to edit it - turns out, I've been using the wrong user name - duh!
I'm feeling really quite pleased with myself today, I actually completed another layout - that's the second this week! Not only that, I worked with what are probably my least favourite colours - orange and brown. I had some lovely pics of my youngest daughter with her face painted - she'd chosen to be a tiger, so the papers and embellishments really had to be orange and brown, didn't they?

I managed to track down a couple of small pieces of orange paper, and some brown, but no cardstock that even came close - so, I made my own! I used a piece of 12x12 plain white cardstock and inked the background in random stripes of orange and brown - I have to admit to some reservations once I'd done it, but, put some photos in place, matted onto brown paper and suddenly it's looking much better...

Next challenge - I don't have embellishments in brown and orange, plus this layout is for a challenge which has to include only things beginning with the letters in the word RAVERS, one of the R's had to be ric-rac. What's a girl to do? No embellishments, no craft shop, no inclination to go shopping? I made my own. On one of my forays into the kids' rooms, I 'rescued' some jigsaw pieces which were lying on the floor, squirrelled them away, knowing that they would come in handy, one day. Well, that day was today! I stuck 2 of the pieces together, inked them with the same colour ink as I used for the background, wrote the date on them, with a gel pen, then triple embossed the pieces - ended up with a lovely, distressed looking embellishment. I also altered a microscope slide with some alcohol inks, and added stickers with my daughter's name. The flowers were made from paper punchies - large orange ones with smaller brown ones in the centre, then a small eyelet punched through the centre of each one. So, how did I do with the challenge?

R - ricrac, A - altered jigsaw pieces (and artistic licence!), V - versacolour ink, E - eyelets, R - ribbon, S - slide, microscope. I'm really happy with the layout, even though I wasn't too sure about working with those colours - just goes to show, doesn't it, that sometimes it really is good to work outside your comfort zone!

The other thing I've done today is to order the remaining supplies for Shimelles class which begins on friday. I'm beginning to get really excited now...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A challenge for September!

A variety today! First is a scrapbook layout, next 2 are altered book spreads and the final one is a card with paper sculpture - supposed to be an orchid?

The theme for the first altered book was Black and White, as I really like black and white photography and I very much admire the actress Audrey Hepburn, both as an actress and as a person, I thought this would be the ideal time to combine the two. I went for a very simple page - simply a black background, overlaid with a very pretty handmade paper then layered with a selection of black and white images of the lady herself. I have to admit to being really rather pleased with the results!

The theme of the next book was Vintage Sewing, and this is possibly one of the hardest spreads I've done - I just could not get my head round what I was doing! Then, inspiration struck. I remembered how much I used to love my grandmothers button box, the sound, the colour, the texture - in fact, everything about them. The spread started from there - I've tried to recreate the feeling of a sewing box, with lots of bits and pieces of everything. In the end, it turned out much better than I could have hoped - I particularly loved the little bag which has various odds and ends in it!

The scrapbook layout is of Taormina, a small town on Sicily - hangout of the rich and famous - it truly is a beautiful place - perched right on top of a very tall mountain, and accessed by a very tortuous road - just wide enough for one vehicle - imagine the panic when we came face to face with a very large bus full of tourists on this delightful road!! The architecture in Taormina is almost as beautiful as the fabulous views that assail you at every twist and turn. Prices are horrendous - about 3 times as much as anywhere else on Sicily, but it was lovely to see how the other half lives! In a tucked away park is a fabulous sculpture called Urban Angels - it depicts a couple, with their briefcases, obviously taking a brief rest in their busy day - it really is an amazing sculpture, and I would love at some time to take my family to see it - and the rest of Sicily, of course!

As for the challenge I mentioned in the title? Last night I signed up for an online course with Shimelle Laine, a fabulous designer who really does have a very different way of looking at things - I'm hoping to learn loads from her, and am looking forward to the challenge - a kind of daily art journal. I'll keep you updated with progress, or lack of, throughout the month!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Oriental Artist Trading Cards

The theme for this swap was - you guessed it, Dragonflies! I had a gorgeous dragonfly stamp which came free with a magazine and which I had never used, so this seemed like a good time to have a play with it! I used the same stamp for each of the ATC's but varied the techniques I used. For the top card, I used heat fusible fibres - I mixed three different colours together and applied a warm iron in a circular motion through a sheet of tissue paper. The result was a beautiful, reasonably firm, shimmery fabric. I applied the stamp using stazon ink in black and cut and mounted the dragonfly onto a backing made up of alternating strips of purple and white raffia. To this I added a dragonfly which had been stamped onto black shrink plastic and heated. The finishing touch is a gorgeous button.

The next ATC was made using one of my favourite techniques at the moment! I cut a piece of mountboard to ATC size (2.5x3.5inches), I then applied two blue shades of chalk inks in a pouncing motion, then stamped the dragonfly in black stazon ink. Once this was dry, I applied a layer of clear ink and several layers of clear embossing powder - heating between each application - as the powder was heated, it began to affect the chalk inks as well, giving a wonderful mottled, aged effect. Finally I added the word 'Fly' using self-adhesive letters.

The third card was made using a basic resist technique - I stamped the dragonfly in clear ink, then heat embossed with clear embossing powder. Once this had cooled, I used a brilliance inkpad, which I rubbed over the card, including the stamped image. The stamped image resisted the ink - giving a lovely effect. I finished by applying a purple prima flower in the top left hand corner.

No 4 was great fun - I found some bright yellow mesh in a local shop, I cut a piece to fit the card, then stamped and embossed the dragonfly using a shimmery powder. I cut out dragonfly and mounted it onto the mesh using tiny foam pads to give a bit of dimension to the image. I finished by adding colourful shaped brads to each of the corners.

The fifth ATC again uses the technique of triple embossing for the background, I used a combination of purple and red powders to achieve the effect I was after. I then stamped and embossed the dragonfly twice, applied one directly to the background and the second was applied at an angle to the first and on tiny foam pads. To finish, I added a bead with the word 'imagine'. The final card is made using the same technique as for card 3.

Altered Clipboard

I think I mentioned before that I was working on an altered clipboard - well, after many hours of work, and several changes of mind when things didn't work quite as I had expected, I finished the clipboard and sent it off. It was quite traumatic entrusting my precious artwork to the vagaries of Royal Mail, but, it arrived safely and the recipient is delighted with it and is already using it regularly!

I used a plain chipboard clipboard with a silver metal clip. To start with, on the front of the board, I thought I would use shades of red through to green in a kind of rainbow effect, however, because of the colour of the base it just looked horrible, so I changed my mind, and painted over the original colours with some metallic acrylic paints, a combination of gold, silver, bronze and copper, I concentrated the copper shade nearer to the top of the board, as I wanted a less intrusive colour for the rest of it. I had already decided on a happiness/friendship theme for the 'business' side of the board, and used a collection of quotes on these subjects to embellish the board, I used rub-ons in various font-styles, but all in black print, and applied them at random angles all over the front of the board - my reasoning for this was that whichever way the board was being held, there would be something to read! I then sealed this with 3 layers of mod podge, then another 3 layers of Ronseal diamond varnish in a satin finish - this will protect the board through ordinary use.

For the back of the board, I decided on a collage of images of vintage women. I found a selection that I really liked, and spent several very happy hours arranging and rearranging them until I got a design I was happy with. Originally, I had intended to make the collage in portrait orientation, but soon realised that it would work much better if it were landscape. In amongst some junk mail recently, I had some which had a fab 70's floral design paper, the colours of which worked really well with the images I had chosen. I printed my chosen images onto copier paper and cut or tore each one to the shape and size needed, I then placed them in position on the board, a bit more re-arranging, and finally - the finished effect. I then lifted each piece individually, applied a layer of bookbinding glue to the back, and replaced it in it's final position. Once all the pieces were stuck firmly, I sealed them with 3 coats of mod podge, which also had the effect of aging the pictures - definitely serendipitous!

The silver metal clip, I attacked with 3 shades of alcohol inks and some gold pen - applied these with a felt pad and built up the layers until I was happy with the colour and effect. The finishing touch was a collection of ribbons and fibres. I was delighted with the overall result - when I started the project, I had serious doubts about what I was going to be able to produce - but I was so happy with it, I'm planning on doing another in the near future!!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Yes - I am still here!!

Well, how time flies! I really can't believe that it's 3 weeks since I last posted here - what on earth have I been doing? Of course, the summer holidays have started, so the children are home - but, still, the last few weeks have flown by.

I can't remember whether I previously mentioned that my eldest daughter is expecting our first grandchild in January - there's a concept that takes some getting used to, I can tell you! I don't even feel old enough to be a parent most of the time, let alone a grandparent!! Clearly, I will be a very young grandmother...
My husband has decided that he wants to be called 'Grumpy' - no argument from me there - Grumpy by name and grumpy by nature!!! Just hope he doesn't read this. Anyway, eldest daughter and her fiancé are living in a rented flat at the moment, but have just had an offer accepted on a rather nice little house. 2 bedrooms, new build - fully furnished and all white goods included in the sale - they can literally just move their clothes in and that's it! Only problem is, she may have left home physically, but she still hasn't left mentally - she still phones at least 4 times a day with questions about this, that and the other - she really hasn't got her head round the fact that she has to make her own decisions now! Obviously we're happy to help where we can - but there are some things we just can't (or won't!) do. She lives 14 miles away from us, in the centre of town, literally around the corner from a large supermarket, yet still rings and asks if I will bring some milk over for her!! You can guess the answer to that one...

She's also been in and out of hospital a few times over the last couple of weeks - nothing serious, but like me, she's not one of these people who blooms when she's pregnant! She has, I think, been really floored by just how exhausting it is, and of course the hot weather we've been having hasn't helped. Baby is fine though, we saw it on a scan a couple of weeks ago - amazing! It never fails to leave me feeling completely in awe when I see an ultrasound scan - she's due for her anomaly scan on the 15th, and wants to know the sex of the baby - probably not a bad thing, as it's proving so difficult to get neutral baby stuff - everything seems really geared for one sex or the other - whatever happened to pastel greens and yellows? I suppose I really ought to get the knitting needles out - I'm sure I can remember what to do with them, maybe...

Our eldest son has just been diagnosed as having chronic fatigue, so we are now waiting for various appointments for him, and the LEA are supposed to be arranging home tuition for him when the new school year starts. Poor lad has been really badly affected and rarely leaves the house these days - his sleep patterns are completely shot and he has a very low tolerance for noise - which is not ideal in a house as noisy as ours!

We recently moved congregations - things weren't really working for us where we were, but the new congregation has made us feel extremely welcome and have tried to involve us in all sorts of different things, which is really lovely. Both of us had been feeling very low, spiritually speaking, but things are definitely picking up now.

Artwise, what have I been up to? I've really had to grab my chances where I can just lately, but in my previous post you will have seen the new stuff that I've produced over the last couple of weeks. I particularly love the 'Tree Frog' ATC's - the one with the black background is a digital ATC - I'm definitely beginning to get to grips with the photo manipulation software - still got a long way to go , but getting some really pleasing results now. Also included is my first ever hand-drawn ATC - the one of the gent in the hat. I have never considered myself to be artistic in the sense of being able to paint or draw, but I was really happy with this drawing - simple, maybe, but it is recognisable!!! I absolutely adore hats, but rarely have the chance to wear one, so I was delighted when 'Hats' was one of the themes chosen for last months swaps. Another of the swaps was on the theme of 'Adventure', now whenever I hear the word adventure, the first thought that comes to mind is of the Famous Five, Enid Blytons intrepid quintet of adolescent mystery solvers. With this in mind, I made a mock-up of the front cover of a Famous Five adventure story - brought back some memories, that did! As a child I read every Famous Five story I could get my hands on, as well as all the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys etc. I also loved the Billy Bunter stories - the thought of them still brings a smile to my face. I can't imagine what my children would make of Billy and his cohorts! Really, I read anything and everything when I was younger - never had my head out of a book! It looks as though my younger son might be heading the same way, he really enjoys reading and gets very involved in what he's reading. My youngest, who is 6, has decided that she wants to learn to read English - she is taught Welsh at school and doesn't start English until some time in the new school year, (She started school at 3!) She is teaching herself to read in English and is doing really well - none of the Janet and John books for her - she picks out a book she wants to read and away she goes - she certainly has an admirable persistence. She is absolutely determined that she's going to read English - very soon! She's also learning to spell in English - I'm just hoping that it's not going to cause too much confusion when she goes back to school!

Sorry, I digress, another of the cards in the 'Adventure' set is an image of Lara Croft - she of 'Tombraider' fame. I took a fairly standard image of her, and added some girly bits - much to the horror of my younger son! According to him, Lara Croft doesn't do handbags and make-up! I've also posted pictures of various greetings cards I've made recently - I've been trying to do something a little out of the ordinary - two of the cards are ones I've made to send to my brother and his wife for their wedding anniversary. The one with the jute and flower border is for my mum to send, and the one with the green vellum panel with flowers is from myself. I haven't worked much with vellum in the past, but a friend sent me some truly beautiful vellums, which were far too gorgeous to be hidden away, so I bit the bullet and had a play - I think I can safely say I will be working with vellum again! I've still got several projects on the go - I still have spreads to complete in 2 altered books, I have an clipboard to alter, and a jewellery piece to design and make, on the theme of 'Confectionary'. I really need to get moving on that, cos the closing date is only a couple of weeks away...

Enough wittering from me for now, catch you again in a few days.

A Feast For Your Eyes!!