Saturday, April 29, 2006

A rarity - a quiet day!!

Today has been lovely. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous, really sunny and warm. My next door neighbour decided to walk her children to the beach and took my youngest, too. I'm very proud of her, in fact, she's only 6 and managed what must have been a 4 mile walk without complaining. She hasn't complained since she's been back, either. She's a very grown up little girl in many ways, and some of the things she says are really funny, especially coming from one so young. Apparently, my youngest two, along with Marias two, had been discussing which combination of parents would be best to take on holiday - they settled on Maria with my OH - this is because Marias OH and myself are too strict!! According to Maddi, the walk they went on today was nearly as good as our holiday in France, but France was better because it had Disneyland Paris! If only we'd known, we could have saved ourselves a small fortune and stayed here last year instead!! In fact, our holiday to France last year was the first holiday abroad that we've had as a family.
Many years ago I won a weekend in Cannes for myself and OH, but until last year, that was the total extent of my foreign travels. In April last year I went with my mum and my aunt to stay in Sicily for 3 weeks - what a totally amazing place. I would truly love to live there at some point in the not-too-distant future.. I could so cope with being warm all the time, and having to cope with sunshine, oranges, lemons and grapefruit growing in my garden etc, etc, etc. I really loved Sicily, the people, the island itself - there is so much history and archaeology there to explore. I particularly loved the island of Ortigia, which is part of Syracusa, one of the main cities on Sicily. Ortigia is beautiful - masses of baroque architecture, much of which is being restored to its former glory, lots of twisty, turny little alleyways with hidden courtyards, art galleries and artist studios. Amazing place.
About 2 weeks after I got back from Sicily, we went, as a family, to France. We travelled about quite a bit - started off in Paris, so we could visit Disneyland - which was brilliant. I think I loved it as much as the kids did! I couldn't quite believe I was actually there! We then made our way down to the south of France, to Marseillan Plage, which is not too far from Montpelier and Bezier - we stayed there for 8 nights. One of the days, we decided to take a trip to Andorra, only 250k, not far at all, not considering the distances we had been covering. A couple of hours, and we'd be there. Wrong!! So wrong! What we hadn't taken into account was that for every kilometre forward, we had to travel about 8 upwards! The journey eventually took us a little over 5 hours, but it was well worth the travelling. Andorra is a unique sort of place - only problem was, it was first language Spanish. I had gotten used to speaking in French, enough to get by, anyway, and suddenly here I was having to speak Spanish - not a clue! I've never spoken spanish, (other than tapas, sangria etc!) Fortunately, it is not dissimilar to Italian, and I'd managed to pick up a reasonable smattering of that during my stay in Sicily. Anyway, we got by - a mixture of Italian, French and some language previously unknown to humankind! I would definitely like to return to Andorra, but perhaps we'll fly next time! One thing I really was impressed with in France was the motorway service stations - they were excellent - clean, well equipped and very reasonably priced.

Anyway, enough rambling, back to today. Whilst Maddi was out with Maria, we pottered around, did a bit of shopping, a (very little) bit of housework etc. After that, I finally sat down and did my first scrapbooking layout. It's taken weeks for me to pluck up the courage to actually try it! How daft is that? I don't quite know why it was so daunting, but daunting it was! In reality, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and am reasonably pleased with the result. I chose to do a layout using pictures of Maddi looking rather pensive. Normally, she's very bouncy and bright, but in these photos she's looking decidedly serious. I started with a junkitz paper, then matted and layered the photos using papers which I printed from a cd. I added a title, again matted and layered with the same papers, and finished off with some hidden journalling tied with a ribbon, and some buttons. All in all, not a bad first effort!

This evening Maria, her OH and two children came round to watch some films - in fact they watched the films and Maria and I chatted! We shared some Pasta salad and some wine, and generally just chilled - lovely. It's not that often any of us get the chance to just relax and enjoy each others' company, so I've really enjoyed the evening. Lots of giggling, the kids were great - no arguing etc. At one point Maria's daughter, Maya, was dressed up as a dog - which was hysterical - I got some brilliant photos which I intend to scrap at some point in the near future. The boys, including Maria's OH were outside building a go-cart. Where were we? Inside, chatting and making a fuss of the cats! Where else? Thank you Maria and Jason for a great evening!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Another busy one!

Actually, these were all made on Wednesday. I ended up having a real 'purple patch' creatively, I think my muse must have been working overtime! I haven't made cards for a while - I've been working more with ATC's, but cardmaking really is my first love, as it were. I sell quite a few through my ebay shop, as well as to friends and family, I'm beginning to get some sales by word of mouth now, as well, which is very nice! As you might notice from these photos, my theme on wednesday was tags. I thought I would have a go at some fairly simple, all occasion cards. IMHO, the red roses are rather gorgeous, very feminine and rather elegant. The papers are from a design cd by Marie Johnstone, who sells on ebay - she produces some amazing cd's in various themes. I have added embellishments in the way of funky fibres and some buttons from my ever expanding collection of buttons. I've even got my eye on the buttons on my youngest daughters trousers! I might have to wait til she's outgrown the trousers, though!

The two 'Live every Moment' cards I thought would be particularly suitable for men. I don't know about you, but I find it very hard to find decent cards for men. Most card manufacturers seem to assume that all men are beer swilling football and darts fans! Actually, not many of the men I know fall into any of these categories, maybe I just mix with the wrong sort of men...

The main reason that I got into card making in the first place is that I got so frustrated trying to find suitable cards for near and dear ones. The biggest problem I had was finding an anniversary card for my OH. Our wedding anniversary is at the beginning of November, by which time all the big card shops have got their christmas cards in, and only squeeze a few other cards in a dingy corner somewhere. The choice at this time of year is not overwhelming. Having found the 3 anniversary cards that are actually in stock, I then had the problem that either the pictures were totally inappropriate, or the wording was naff. There were rarely cards which had decent pictures and appropriate sentiments! I may love my OH to bits, but I don't do slushy, and neither does he! I very often ended up buying an 'open' card and finding my own poem, sentiment or whatever. I can honestly say that I have never, in the 22 years we have been married, been totally happy with any bought anniversary card. So, I decided to make my own. Really, it just all took off from there. I made the first couple of cards, and I was well and truly hooked! I love cardmaking, it gives me the opportunity to work with loads of different materials, techniques, colours etc. I'm not a patient person, and with cards I get reasonably quick results. There have been times when I've spent literally hours making a particular card, but those have been special cards for special people using fiddly techniques.

At school, I always did the academic stuff, believing that I had no aptitude for art at all. It has been a joy to discover that actually I can create some quite beautiful things, and I have grown in confidence over the past months. As I've previously mentioned, I belong to several on-line craft groups, from whom I get a tremendous amount of support and constructive feedback. My next door neighbour, the soon to be famous archaeologist, Maria, has a fine arts degree but has always worked on a large scale, she has recently started crafting on a small scale and has produced some truly amazing stuff. She has also been very supportive and constructive re my own art, and for that I am truly grateful. I still get the heebie-jeebies when I send my art work to other people, but so far no-one has admitted to hating anything I've sent them! One apsect I particularly worry about is that I sometimes have a distinctly quirky way of looking at things, and am never sure that other people will 'get' what I've done!

The last couple of days have been glorious, weather wise, so we've spent a fair amount of time at one of our local beaches. I got some lovely photos this afternoon, and am hoping to use some of them as the basis for some art in the near future. I love living by the seaside!!! We even went for an absolutely scrummy ice-cream after we finished at the beach today - a locally made ice-cream. FAB! I'm really hoping that the better weather is here to stay for a while, it's been too dark and gloomy for too long! I need some sunshine...

Lastly, you may have noticed a couple of new additions to my blog. Firstly, there is Tiggy - a pink tiger. Well, sometimes you just gotta do these things! Go and say hello to her, give her a rub, maybe a steak - go on, give it a try. It's been scientifically proven that pet owners have a longer life expectancy, that petting animals can significantly reduce stress levels!

The other thing I've added is a slide show of my images. I will continue to post pics in the main part of the blog, but they will be added to the slide show as well, so you don't have to trawl the whole blog just to find a particular image.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The end of a good day!

Fortunately, my crafting is somewhat better than my photography!! These are several projects which I've finished over the last couple of days. the first is a wedding card for a friend who is getting married at the weekend.

The second started as a small, clear glass bottle which was sent to me as a challenge by a friend from one of my craft groups. I heat embossed the bottle using a verdigris powder, then added a green flat backed gem (which actually came from my eldest daughters latest pair of jeans - nothing goes to waste in this house!!) Finally, I added a selection of cord and handmade glass beads. I think the result is rather pretty - might even make a good home for a leprechaun!

The blue card is for a monthly challenge in yet another group - the idea is that each month, one member sends out a small pack of craft goodies to everyone who is participating - we then make a card using those components, the resulting cards are later auctioned for charity. This months cards are going to be sold to raise money for the Marie Curie appeal.

Finally, Christmas cards. Now, I don't do christmas, because I'm one of Jehovah's Witnesses, but again this is a fundraising thing. On the 25th of each month, we have a challenge - along the same lines as detailed above. this month, we were provided with an a5 sheet of the red starry backing paper, an a5 sheet of the green 'toy' backing paper,a small piece of a very pretty patterned vellum - with trees and snowflakes, a small piece of dark green plain card, a piece of gold cord, 2 large and 3 small brads. For the first of the cards, I simply layered a piece of the vellum onto a piece of the red starry paper and put this behind the square aperture in a small mauve card. Finally, I added a snowflake brad and a happy christmas peel off in silver.

For the second card, I used a triangular, triple fold card. I tore thin strips of the red paper and glued it to the top layer of the card. In the white spaces, I added merry christmas peeloffs, then tiny green flat back gems on top of the red paper. This layer was finished with a large gold brad right at the top. For the second layer, I cut a triangular piece of the red paper, a little smaller than the card itself, then a smaller triangle of the vellum at the top of this triangle, and one in the bottom right corner. Again, I added tiny green flat-back gems to each of the points of the vellum triangles.

The final card was created by cutting an L-shaped piece of the green 'toys' paper, onto which I layered the piece of plain green card. I then cut and decoupaged some of the images from the paper. The green card was then edged with a gold merry christmas peel-off. As a finishing touch, I added a small metal snowman charm to the gold cord, which I then threaded through a hole punched in the top left hand corner of the card.

Again, these cards, along with the results of all the other months' challenges will be auctioned for charity later in the year.

A really good day!

Our post came unusually early today, it was here by just after 9! One of the things which was delivered was a fairly large parcel - addressed to me. Being the kind of person I am, I wouldn't open the parcel until I'd finished all the things I had lined up to do - housework etc. When I did open it - wow! A friend from one of the groups I'm involved in sent me a parcel of craft goodies - lots of lovely bits and pieces - ribbons, acetate images, backing papers, unmounted rubber stamps, a paper punch, beads, die cuts, bows - way too much to mention here. I've had a bit of a play with some of the stuff to make an ATC for Frances, who sent the stuff to me.

The first layer is a gorgeous handmade paper with various natural inclusions - leaves, petals etc, I then layered this with some bronze coloured angel hair paper. On top of this, I put an acetate image of a butterfly with a spray of beaded flowers, I threaded gold coloured metal beads onto the stems of the flower spray, these were then fastened on the back of the card. Finally, I used a 'Thank you' peel-off on a piece of script card.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Stuff about CATS!!

These cat ATC's are, you guessed it, for a swap in one of the groups to which I belong!
The theme was... CATS!! Cats just happen to be my absolutely favourite animals. I love them to bits. I love the way they think, the way they make their feelings known, their independence, their affectionate nature, just everything about them, really. I have a Siamese cat, a chocolate point, who is a total sweetie. He is possibly the laziest cat you will ever meet, and definitely the most loving. He has a way of cuddling up to me, putting his front paw around me, as though he's cuddling me, and gazing up into my face - I defy anyone not to melt when subjected to that treatment!!

Anyway, back to the ATC's. I thought that rather than doing the cute and fluffy thing, I would rather focus on some of the other cattributes. The first card you can see is called Kitty Litter. Anyone who is owned by a cat will know just how untidy they can be! It's not uncommon for me to clean my house from top to bottom, then for the cat to throw litter everywhere, to climb into our open fireplace and tread ash over the carpet, to rip up tissues and strew them around - you get the picture! We even had a cat one time, called Jonah Little Bear, Bear for short, who would go out into the garden, get his feet as muddy as he possibly could, then somehow manage to keep all the mud inside his pads until he got upstairs, where he would then deposit all the mud on the freshly made beds!! Yet, I still love cats... What does that say about me??

The second card is Cat Aplomb - to me, that just about sums up cats. Whatever they do, they make it look as though it was intended. You know, when they fall off the chair whilst washing, then sit there as though that was exactly what they meant to do. Cat's never have accidents, never make mistakes, we humans just think they do!!

The third card in the series is Magical Elegance. To me, the Bastet, the cat the ancient Egyptians idolised, is the absolute epitome of elegance and mystery, and all things magical. I think probably that's why I like Siamese cats so much.

The next card is Cattitude. This is something that all cats have in abundance! I think it's self-explanatory...

The final card is called Butterfly. The image of the cat is hand drawn and watercoloured. I then mounted the image onto cardboard and cut it out. I covered my base card in a blue and green floral fabric which to me is reminiscent of a summer garden. The cat was mounted on small foam pads and I added a brightly coloured butterfly. Have you ever watched a cat watching a butterfly? It's a wonderful thing to see. The intense concentration, the wariness, then there is the inward struggle - to chase or not to chase...

I did warn you, I absolutely adore cats and could go on for hours about them and their habits!

Todays ATC's

These two ATC's are ones I made today - the first, A visit to Grandma, is for a monthly raffle in one of our groups. This is a really sweet stamp that I've had for some time, but hadn't gotten around to using yet! I stamped the image using timber brown stazon onto a gorgeous, heavyweight ribbed vellum, I then painted the image using Marvy pens in Victorian colours. I mounted the stamps onto a piece of script paper and added 3 small buttons in the same shades of blue as are in the painting. The result, I think, is a simple and very evocative card which I hope will be enjoyed by whoever receives it.

The second card is called 'Daydreamer' and is a gift for Stacey, who has arranged the Link, Base, Devour and Girl swaps for which I've already posted the photos. This again is a stamp that I've had for some time, it was part of a 'grab bag' that I bought from a seller on ebay. I stamped using a combination of colours of chalk inks onto cream, leather textured card. I then painted, again using the Marvy pens in Victorian colours. The background is a jacquard fabric in a beautiful shade of blue, with navy satin ribbon top and bottom. I added a scrap of cotton lace, then used foam tape to adhere the image. I finished off with a red button in a shade similar to that used in the painting. You'll have to take my word for it, I'm afraid, that the finished product is much softer than it appears in the photo, and has quite a dreamy feel to it.

Nothing to do with my art now, but a bit of reflected glory! My next door neighbour, then one who has recently done a screen test for a documentary series with the BBC, has been contacted by a journalist from Time magazine, who wants to do an article on her and her business. It's brilliant to see the work that she and her business partner have put in over the last few years finally coming to something. It's great as well, because Maria (my neighbour) doesn't have much confidence in her abilities, and these last few weeks have been a huge boost to her confidence.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Link ATc's

These ATC's are based on the word 'Link'. The first in the series is 'two hearts - forever linked'. I created the background using acrylic paints, then dragged pieces of chain with various size links through some gold acrylic and used these to print onto the background. I then added a heart shape, formed from one of the pieces of chain, with a small red heart-shaped button in the centre. Finally, I coloured a piece of plain white paper with some complementary colours of chalk ink, and added the text.

The second card in the series is 'Harry Houdini'. Thinking of chains for the first card naturally led to the thought of more chains, and in my mind, no-one is more associated with chains than the great Houdini! Again, I used the internet to source an image of the great man which was layered onto a backround which looks like rusty industrial flooring. I added a small piece of rusty chain which is attached using a small orange brad. Finally, I added the text. A very simple card, but overall, a very pleasing result.

The final card in this series is a Moorish knot. I traced the image onto thin metal foil using a ball-ended embossing tool. I cut out the image and layered it onto a gorgeous red fabric background, and added some luscious blue and gold ribbon.

I will be sending these cards off on Monday, and will now be on tenterhooks until they reach their final destination!

'Base' ATC's

These ATC's are all inspired by the word 'Base'. Initially, I found it really difficult to work out what to do. To start with, I found it very difficult working this way, but actually, it was great in that it forced me to think 'out of the box'!

I started by thinking about the word itself - what did 'base' suggest to me? What thoughts did it bring to mind? I thought of 'base' in the sense of a home, or a headquarters, a military base etc, but really didn't feel inclined to work with that. Then I thought of 'base metals', which led me to alchemy, and alchemists trying to turn base metals such as lead into precious metals such as gold. I found an image on the internet, which I downloaded and printed, then embossed with ultra thick embossing powder, which as well as giving a glass-like finish, also enhances the colours in the image. Once this was done, I bent the image so that it cracked and gave a distressed appearance. This was then layered onto a piece of text explaining what alchemy was and a little about what the alchemists hoped to attain.

My next thought was base as in bottom, so that one is fairly obvious, I think! I adore this stamp and was really happy to find a way to use it for this swap. I stamped with timber brown stazon onto a leather textured cream card, which gave a lovely distressed look. I then used chalk inks and applied them with cotton buds to add some colour to the image. Since I photographed the image, I have added a gold highlight to the
ribbon, and the word 'coccyx' across the card.

The inspiration for the final card in this series was a cultural one. Having grown up with American teen movies like Grease, I am very familiar with the expression 'first base', so I used that expression in conjunction with part of a superman comic strip to come up with the final design.

Although I didn't find this an easy series to make, I'm really pleased with the end result, and have definitely learned to think in a different way about words etc.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Spring Collage ATC's

These ATC's are for a swap entitled 'Spring Collage'. 'Narcissus' was the first image that came to mind when I thought of spring. I love the contrast of the green and yellow, and the beautiful clarity of colour there is in a yellow narcissus. Living in Wales, we are surrounded at the moment by hosts of daffodils - they're everywhere - in gardens, in hedgerows, growing alongside the road, and even, in some cases, in the middle of the road! 'Patchwork' was also inspired by the springtime hedgerows where I live. At this time of year, there is masses of new growth, with lots of wildflowers and also lots of flowers that, prior to moving here, I had only seen growing in peoples gardens, eg honeysuckle, granny's bonnets etc. The hedgerows are a riot of colour at the moment, and, seen from a distance, resemble a patchwork. The final card in this series, 'Butterflies' was inspired by the butterfly that I found in my youngest daughters' bedroom a few days ago. It, along with the daffodils, helped to convince me that perhaps spring is finally here!

I had intended to put lots of photos in tonight, but for some reason, it's taking forever to upload so I'll leave the rest until tomorrow...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A much more productive day!

My new sizzix die arrived today, so finally I could complete the 10 tags I'd promised for a swap on one of my groups. The theme is 'Summer' and as each of the tags will be going to a different participant, they didn't all need to be different. In fact, they are all different, but each has a similar layout. I printed out some gorgeous yellow roses onto some card, then used the sizzix to cut out the tags. I then layered these with other, pastel coloured tags with different mottoes etc, 2 of the tags were made up with decoupage flowers. I then added peel-offs which had been put onto different coloured backing papers and cut out - these were added using small foam pads to give a bit of dimension. Finally, I added some gorgeous fluffy yarn with a tiny 'flip-flop' charm tied to it. I'm really quite pleased with the results, and hopefully so will the recipients be!

I have also practically completed a spread in one of the circle journals I'm working on. This is the Mermaids, Mermen and Merbabies one. I had decided that I wanted to work with the idea of 'aloneness', as this is something that always springs to my mind in connection with mermaids. No, that's not a grammatical error, I do mean aloneness, not loneliness! Mermaids always seem to me to be solitary beings, but not unhappy to be so. I found a poem which I felt expressed this and really worked from there. I have now assembled most of the elements, but I still feel there is something missing - so I'll show a photo when I'm happy with the finished result.

I have almost completed the sign-in page in my own book, now I just have to get my head round the first spread!!

I'm really pleased because I sold one of my jewellery sets today, through my ebay shop. It is so exciting that someone I have never met, and who is not a friend of a friend, etc, has liked my jewellery enough to buy it!

I managed to 'acquire' a storage unit yesterday, because as all you crafters out there will know, craft stuff has a habit of multiplying when you're not looking!! This new unit has given me loads more storage space, so now I need to get sorting and organising again...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Today has been incredibly busy, but I'm not sure exactly what I've been doing!! I did visit the craft shop, and was really disappointed - it was VERY hard for me to find anything I actually wanted to buy!! Much of what was there was very ordinary and very overpriced. Thank goodness for the internet!

I've done a little preparation on two of the books I'm working on - this mainly involved getting my fingers in the mod-podge - I'm trying to seal a glittered page. Fortunately this is in my own book, so if it doesn't work out, it's not a disaster. I love working in other peoples' books, but I do find it a huge responsibility. I'm very aware that these books are very precious to the owners and would be devastated if anything I did spoilt one of them, consequently, I practice any new techniques elsewhere, and only include them if I'm absolutely sure that they will work!!

When I've finished here, I'm going to have a play with some plaster bandage - I'm working on a mermaid sitting on rocks in the middle of the ocean, and want to use the bandage to create some texture for the rocks. I also need to collect some sand from one of the local beaches to add to it.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

This is the only tangible thing I have produced today, even though I've spent several hours at my desk! This card is for a friend in one of the groups to which I belong, and was made using a decoupaged image, mounted onto a striped background paper. I then added the word 'friend' using some glue and a dragonfly brad.

The rest of the time, I've been trying to sort out in my head what I'm going to do for 3 different layouts in altered books. Each book has a different theme, the problem being that I have so many ideas whizzing about in my head, but I can't decide which ones to use! I have managed to get as far as preparing the pages in one of the books, and have started the sign-in page in one of the others. I've also managed to find an image and a piece of poetry which will make an excellent starting point for the 'Mermaid' spread I'm doing - so, hopefully I'll actually get round to putting something together tomorrow.

I did think that perhaps I would do a digital layout in one of the books, but hard as I try, I just can't get a handle on layers in my photograpy package. Now, I know I'm not particularly stupid, but this package is making me feel that way! However many times I read the instructions and do what they say, it just isn't happening...

On a positive note, though, I had a sort through some of my stash and found some things I'd forgotten about!

I'm really excited at the moment, as my friend and next door neighbour has been doing a screen test with the BBC this week, with a view to possibly making 6 part documentary. She and her business partner run an archaeological tour company, and have recently been featured in the travel supplement of The Independent on Sunday. After I've finished writing, I'll add a link so you can check out their website.

I've added a couple of links today. One is to a blog written by a friend of mine, a terrific lady who, despite some terrible physical problems, is one of the most positive and inspiring people I know. Definitely worth a read. You really need to check out some of her parchment craft - it is unbelievably beautiful. A talented lady indeed!
The other link I've added is for my ebay store. If you decide to order as a result of reading this blog, mention it at the checkout stage, and I will give you a 10% disount.

Here, as promised, are photos of the ATC's I made yesterday! The first photo is of the 'Girl' ATC's. The first thought that came to my mind when I heard the word, was Anne Frank - don't know why, she just jumped into my head. When I think of Anne Frank, I think of strength in so many different ways - girls don't always have to be pink and fluffy!!! Having said that, I love pink and fluffy, so did a 'girly' card as well, with fluff, boots with killer heels, handbag and hat - well, sometimes you just gotta do it...
My final card is a vintage image of a young girl in her sunday best - for some reason this photo really appealed to me - although it is a very obviously 'posed' photo, there seems to me to be something in her face which tells me that she's not always as co-operative!

The second photo shows the 'Devour' ATC's. The first thing I thought of with this one was the word itself, and it's various meanings and usages. The first card uses an image of tortured faces which to me represented the effects of greed, along with a collection of 6 synonyms for the word devour. Finally it was wrapped with a black 'spiky' fibre. The second card is a fabulous image of a piece of statuary, showing a snake consuming a man! I just loved this picture, and the idea of nature getting it's own back in some small way! this is also the card for which I used acrylics to make the background. The final card was inspired by a quote from Gustav Mahler, the composer. 'I devour more and more books, they are the only friends I can take with me.' This sums up so perfectly the way I feel about books, that I just had to use it.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

These photos show a pocket book which I made as a gift. The book was made using mountboard, which I then covered in a variety of spring themed papers. Inside the back cover, I added 3 pockets in which I put tags - 1 had a pair of earring, 1 had a brooch and the other was just a decorated tag. Inside the front cover, I added some ribbon so that photos etc can be held in place. I finished it off with some funky fibres and girly charms. All of the tags, jewellery etc were also made by me. It's the first time I had tried this sort of project, and I was really happy with the way it turned out - as was the recipient!

An odd sort of day!

Well, it's definitely been a strange sort of day today! I had planned to spend as much time this weekend as is humanly possible working my way through a long list of craft projects. My youngest daughter had other ideas...

Poor little girl really hasn't been feeling well - raging temp, aches all over, irritable etc, so of course she wanted lots of cuddles from her mummy, so - no crafting for me this morning and for the better part of the afternoon!

However, I have managed to complete 6 ATC's for a group swap, I will sort out some photos so you can see what I've done. We had a choice of themes to work on, and me, being me, chose to do all 4!! The cards I completed today were the ones for the 'Devour' and 'Girl' themes. The problem I have is getting the picture in my head onto the card itself. I can usually 'see' in my mind exactly what I want to do, but translating it into reality is a different thing altogether! Added to that, my concentration isn't all it should be at the moment, and I kept finding myself either half way to doing something, and forgetting what it was I was supposed to be doing, or just staring into space. Never mind, despite all that, I have shortened my to-do list slightly. Or I would have done, had I not signed up for a 10 tag swap on yet another group. I guess I just work better when there is some pressure!!

I used acrylics to make an ATC background for the first time today, and have to admit that I'm really quite happy with the effect I achieved. I put a small amount of 4 different colours onto an old cd that I use as a palette, then used baby wipes to apply the paint. Using the wipes gives a lovely finish, and moves the paint around really easily without leaving brushmarks. The effects are slightly different according to whether the wipe is wet or dry, but both are lovely! The best bit about using wipes? No dirty brushes when I'd finished! Just drop the wipes into the bin. Another advantage is that there's no need for a pot of water on my desk - a recipe for disaster if ever there was one! In fact, I had intended to use alcohol inks for my background - I absolutely love using them, but I couldn't find my applicator, so was forced to re-think. Not a bad thing, as I definitely will be using the acrylics again.

I also managed to complete a challenge card for another of the groups I belong to. Each month, one member sends out a small kit of card-making components to all the other participants, the idea being that we all use the same components to make a card. The variety of cards that can be made from the same components is truly staggering. So far, no two have ever been identical. Another advantage to using a limited number of components is that it forces you to think creatively! Perhaps try something new...

Friday, April 14, 2006

A bit about me and mine!

I have been married for 21 years, and we have 4 children - 2 girls and 2 boys. My husband is my soulmate and I can't imagine being with anyone else, ever! Despite the various challenges that all families have to face, and some that I would never wish on my worst enemy (not that I have any of those, so far as I'm aware!) I love my life and can truly say that I am both happy and contented.

As well as the human members of the family, there is a shih-tzu - Muppet, whose name tells you everything you need to know!; a siamese cat called David, who is extremely affectionate and possibly the most undignified cat you could ever wish to meet; a stressy guinea-pig named George, who thinks that any food that comes into the house must be for him, so shouts until you give him something to eat. Literally, he would eat 24/7 if we provided the food for him to do so. There is also a rat called Mary and a snake called Mungo. And no, snake and rat will never meet!

We're fortunate enough to live in a very beautiful part of Wales, which as yet, hasn't been discovered by the tourist trade. We live literally minutes from several beautiful beaches, and from the windows of our house we have some fabulous views. We live in a very small village with only a post office and 2 pubs - generally the only noise we get is from the tractors trundling up and down the lane outside our house! Our house is right at the top of a very large hill, and was built at the beginning of the last century. Then, one of the local industries was cockling - collecting and selling cockles - so the house has a stone built stable at the bottom of the garden where the donkeys would have been kept, there was also a pig sty. The house itself has been extended several times so is a bit of a warren with lots of rooms - very easy to hide in!! When we moved into the house, it was in a very poor state - no kitchen to speak of, the bathroom was a wreck, all the downstairs floors were blue concrete, the windows leaked etc. etc. etc. But, it had fabulous views and a rayburn! We've been in the house for just over 3 years, and have been gradually getting the house together. We've put in a new kitchen, new windows and doors, a decent bathroom with a floor which is actually safe to walk on. I have a feeling that this is going to be a never-ending project, but I love the house and can't see us ever moving from here.

I love to make cards and jewellery, and have recently been introduced to altered art. I love making and trading ATC's (Artists Trading Cards) - what a fabulous way to build a collection of art work from a variety of fabulous artists!! I also love altered books, and am currently involved in an altered book round robin. There are 12 of us taking part, and each one of us has chosen a theme, and done at least one double page spread in it, each book will then be passed on to the next person in the circle, so that, in the end, we will have 12 books in which everyone has completed a spread, and we all end up with our own books back - surely something to treasure!
I belong to several online craft groups, which is great for support, friendship and constructive criticism! We tend to do a fair amount of swaps, and each month make cards which are sold to raise money for our chosen charity.

I am trying at the moment to get a home-based craft business off the ground, but I'm definitely spending more than I'm earning at the moment! I sell my cards, jewellery and some altered art pieces in my ebay store: I'm also looking into the possibility of selling by party plan and through local outlets. When I went to have my hair cut on Friday, I got chatting to my hairdresser - a very astute business woman, who has built a thriving hair and beauty business - and she suggested I take my jewellery in for her to have a look, so we'll see if that comes to anything...