Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Not a lot of art happening at the moment...

No photos today, I'm afraid! It's been a very busy, stressful, painful, emotional, traumatic sort of week. There have been seismic quakes in our family this past couple of weeks, and everything came to a head over the bank holiday - my advice to those of you out there with kids? Leave home before they hit their teens!!!!!

We're all still recovering from the aftershocks at the moment, but we're getting there.

On a lighter note (sort of!) our next door neighbours cat - who we have all thought for the last 2 years was a tom - has just had a litter of kittens! No, not some miracle, just a cat who managed to fool us all (including the vet, I might add)Unfortunately, of the 5 kittens she had, only 2 are still alive, and it doesn't seem as though she's able to feed them, so our poor neighbours are now drip feeding 2 day old kittens at very regular intervals. Shows the difference between us and the animals, doesn't it? The cat is quite happy to push the kittens away and let them die - perhaps there's something wrong with them, perhaps not - but us humans can't do it, or at least, not the ones I know!

Following all our traumas recently, I felt a nice simple day out with the little kids was in order. So, myself, my mother, my youngest daughter and our next door neighbours 2, went to a local beach. This is not a beach I've visited before, yet it is literally 2 minutes walk from my mums front door! Talk about not seeing what's under your nose! We picked up some chips and a drink on the way, then spent several happy hours on the beach, basking in glorious sunshine - ok, we had to wear jackets cos it was very windy, but the sun was fabulous. The kids had a great time - although they can't swim in the sea there, because of the currents, there was a massive tidal pool, which was lovely and warm. So, they spent their time between the water (next door neighbours little girl is a born-again mermaid! I think she would go swimming in a puddle if she thought she could get away with it!!!) and building sandcastles, burying each other in the sand and generally running around like mad things. Brilliant - definitely one of those rare days that remind you that sometimes the simple things are the best!

Enough from me for now, I' m away to my bed - all that fresh air has worn me out!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lots of pictures today! It's been quite a busy day, craftwise, but very enjoyable. I started by making the two christmas cards for one of our group challenges. As always, these cards will be auctioned and the money will be donated to a nominated charity. I had great fun doing these, very basic, but (I think) quite effective!

The odd picture is of a backing paper I created using a method described in one of my magazines. This paper was created using a piece of kitchen paper which I then covered with acrylic paint - dark blue and dark green, applied with wet baby wipes. I then dried the paper using my heat gun and scrunched up the paper to give it some additonal texture. Finally, using 3 different shades of metallic acrylics, I added highlights to the paper, again applying the paint with a baby wipe. I allowed this to dry overnight, then used it as the backing paper on the 3 ATC's pictured here. This technique is good fun - a real excuse to get messy!! The results are fabulous, as always the photo doesn't do it justice at all. If you've got a few minutes to spare, why not give it a go?

Now on to the ATC's. The theme for these was Vintage anything, the only problem with having such a wide theme is that it can be difficult to choose what sort of images to use. Having spent a considerable time browsing a vintage images cd, I finally chose the images I've used here.

The first card has the caption - "You're the only girl I ever loved", I found the picture very appealing and the caption suited my sense of humour. I resized the image then layered it onto my chosen backing paper. I then threaded up a dusky pink button and attached it to the top right hand corner of the card, and added a bead 'creation' to the top left hand corner.

I chose the image for the second card because I liked the cat! As good a reason as any, I think! Having resized the image and attached it to the background, I finished it off with a tiny pendant (rescued from my daughter, who was about to throw it away because it was broken!!) and a fabric flower. The result is a pretty, feminine card.

The final card is a beautiful image of a vase of roses - one of my favourite flowers. Because the image is so beautiful, I felt it didn't need a great deal of embellishment. I resized the image and attached it to the background using tiny purple brads, then added a dragonfly brad.

These cards are now winging their way to my swapee, so yet again, I'm waiting to find out whether someone else likes my art!

I did receive a lovely email today from the gentleman who ordered the chinese cards from me. He was delighted with the cards and said that he couldn't have been more pleased. I was well chuffed, much as I enjoy creating art and craft, it's a lovely feeling when someone else appreciates the things I've made.

I've made a start on a layout in one of the round robin books that I'm working on. This one has the theme 'Castles in the Air' and is a fantasy themed book. I decided to use a unicorn as my basis for this spread, I love unicorns. As unicorns are fantasy creatures anyway, I thought I would make mine pink! I've completed the background for the spread, and have finished the unicorn, but still have to assemble the spread. I'm also searching for a suitable piece of text to finish it off. I will definitely take a photo once I finish the spread - I'm really bad at taking pictures of the altered book spreads I do, and am trying to train myself to photograph everything I make - it's lovely to have a record to look back on.

Anyway, enough chatter from me for one night! I'm off to google for unicorns now...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Finally, I found some time to upload pics of the 'Height' ATC's which I made for a recent swap. The very first thing I thought of when I read the word height, was a giraffe. I found this gorgeous image on the internet, he was just the right height to fit over 3 ATC's, and as I've been fancying doing something a little different with ATC's, this seemed ideal! I've simply layered him up on some gorgeous stripey paper I had, and added tiny metal eyelets to suggest the patterning on his body. The three cards are held together with a piece of gold ribbon, which also acts as a tie to hold the 3 cards together when they are folded.

The 'Height of Fashion' ATC was made using a combination of techniques, I had planned to do this as a digital ATC and to print it out onto acetate, but the ink failed to dry, so I printed out the image onto some card instead, the image was made up of a 1950's fashion model, the Dior logo and the text, 'The height of fashion', these were layered using a photo-manipulation programme, then simply printed out. I then added the coloured embellishments - I stamped and embossed some girly accessories - hat, shoes and bag, and coloured with sakura souffle pens, then added them to the edge of the card. Finally, I adhered a piece of ribbon to the bottom edge of the card.

The final card in this series is based upon a quote from boxer Jack Dempsey "All men come down to my height when I hit 'em in the body!", I used a print of a front page from a vintage sports magazine, then added a photo of the boxer, along with the text. Finally, I added a tag with his name on.

I haven't done much in the way of art this week - it's been a pretty 'full-on' week, family wise, so I haven't really had the time or the head-space to be able to do anything very creative. I've got plenty of ideas though, and am hoping to get some time over the weekend to try some things out. I really want to have a play with fabrics - especially printing and stamping onto different fabrics, perhaps a bit of stitching as well.

The weather has been particularly foul this past week - it's barely stopped raining, so I've spent most of the week in the house, which is driving me scatty - as soon as the weather improves a bit, I'm off to the beach for a bit of outside therapy!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What a busy week!!

This has been a very hectic week - I've had orders coming left, right and centre! Not that I'm complaining, you understand!

First of all, I had an email from a gentelman in the USA asking for some chinese greetings cards, then I had an order for a jewellery kit and now another jewellery commission!

The blue card is a 'Congratulations' card, I have printed and coloured the phoenix image onto vellum and created a wrap, I then used gold metallic ink to draw the congratulations symbols. Inside the card, I've printed the symbols again, in different fonts. I have to admit to being very pleased with the way this card turned out. The other card, the paeony is a 'Sympathy' card. This is simply coloured then matted and layered onto a cream base card, I then added a mulberry paper tag with the sympathy symbol and some gorgeous purple fibres. I'm just waiting for the customers postal address and these will be winging their way to the states.

I've also taken the plunge this week and 'adopted' a newcomer to the UK Scrappers site - it's a vast site, absolutely full of useful information etc, but can be very daunting - there are thousands of members. When I first joined, I was adopted - this meant that I had someone to contact whenever I had a question or a problem. Knowing how much I appreciated the help that I was given (and still am, in fact) I thought it might be nice to give a little back. I have been fortunate enough to adopt a lovely lady called Natalie, and am looking forward to getting to know her better and to see her art as it develops. AS well as scrapbooking, it seems that she is very keen to try ATC's as well - so, watch this space!!

We've had some huge family news this week, nothing that I'm going to talk about here at the moment, but certainly enough to have caused a great deal of turmoil to a great many people!!!

I've decided that I'm going to start selling some jewellery kits and card-making kits in my ebay shop - it seems that people are looking on ebay for supplies rather than the completed items, in many cases, so I'm going to try to cater for that need.

I've finally finished my 'height' ATC's, just need to photograph them before I pop them in the post. I received my share of the swap cards from one of the groups at the end of last week - what an amazing collection of art works. There are so many different styles and so many different interpretations of the themes to which we were working - it truly is fascinating to see the range of techniques and thought processes which go into these miniature art works!

Anyway, enough rambling from me for now - I'll be back in the next day or two with some more piccies.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Victorian themed ATCs. The first one is a photo of Queen Victoria - it doesn't get more victorian than that!!
The other two cards both use William Morris designs for the backing papers. The button on the final card to me was reminiscent of Whitby jet, which again has very victorian connotations.

Travel ATC's

The caption on the first ATC reads 'Too late, she realised why it was inadvisable to step outside during working hours...'

The tag on the second card slips into the vellum pocket.

The charm on the Paris card was made using shrink plastic.

Serendipity ATC's - these were great fun! For the two outside ones, i played about with acrylic paints, gold ink and embossing powders. The centre one was made using man-made fibres which I heat fused using my soldering iron! I then covered the whole thing with a rather gorgeous gauzy fabric.
Thank you card made for Bonnie Babies Charity. A simple vellum overlay, accented with gold peel-offs. Posted by Picasa

Just pictures!

The Common Lizard I found in my craft room! Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 12, 2006

A close encounter with some of the local wildlife!

This week has gone so fast! I can't believe it's nearly a week since I last posted.

Tuesday, I had to do an 80 mile round trip to visit the dentist. Not through choice, I might add, but this was the nearest dentist with whom we were able to register! Really, you wouldn't believe how bad the situation is in Wales re NHS dentists.

Wednesday, I spent the day with my mum and my aunt, who is staying with her for a few days. We had a lovely day - just mooching around Carmarthen. Carmarthen is such a pretty town, with lots of lovely, individual shops, thankfully it's not all chain stores! One of the stores I visited was a new craft shop - Bluebell Crafts. The couple who run it started by running a market stall in the covered market, but have now expanded and have a shop in the market square. If you happen to be in Carmarthen and are into crafts, you really must visit. They have some beautiful stuff and are getting lots more in! Lots of scrapbooking stash, as well as a reasonable range of altered art items. The couple who run it are very friendly and helpful, like I say, well worth a visit.

Thursday, we went to see our two youngest in their school play. They go to the village school, which has a grand total of 7 pupils at the moment - that's from age 3 to age 11!!! Guess you could call that individual attention... To save the school from closure, it was federated with two other village schools in the area. One of these schools, Idole, is celebrating its centenary this year, so the children enacted a drama showing some of the events from its history. It was lovely, I only understood a few words, because it was all in Welsh! The little girls were all dressed in welsh costume, and the boys were wearing flat caps and waistcoats. Definitely one or two budding comedians amongst the children!

Today, I had a close encounter with some of our local wildlife. My eldest daughter wanted to know why there was a snake on one of my cats - these, I hasten to add, are cuddly toys - not the real cats! Having two boys, she and I assumed that it was one of their myriad of imitation creepy crawlies. Suddenly, my daughter squealed - it had moved its head! In fact, it turned out to be a common lizard. Absolutely beautiful! I hadn't realised we had them in our area, and never expected to see one - certainly not in my craft room!!! We duly released her into a nearby field - much to my youngest sons disgust! I feel really honoured to have been visited by this beautiful creature, and am still smiling about it now! By the way - bugs and spiders terrify me - I don't even hang washing outside because the thought of it having had insects on it freaks me out!!! (Added to that, we live behind a farm and it generally isn't very fragrant - all the excuse I need to use my tumble dryer all year round!)

Artistically, I've been fairly busy too! I've been trying out some new techniques - ATC's are great for this as they are so small. I've agreed to 4 swaps so far on one of the groups, the themes this month being Travel, Victorian, Serendipity and Height. I've completed the cards for the first 3, but haven't even started on the Height ones yet - still thinking about those!

For the Serendipity cards (serendipity means 'happy accident') I played about with some acrylic paints, gold ink and various colours of embossing powder on watercolour paper. The results were very pretty, and all I needed to do was to add a bloom in a complementary colour to finish the cards off. The final card in the serendipity series, is one made using heat-fused fabrics. A little while ago, on T.V., I saw a pyrography demo. Well, I couldn't afford to buy the kit, but wondered whether I could acheive a similar effect using a soldering iron! Not wishing to wreck my very expensive soldering iron which I use in my jewellery making, I bought myself a cheap and cheerful iron and had a go! One thing I must say here - It stank! The heat fusing only works with synthetic fabrics, and when they melt - they smell foul!!!!! All in all, though, I was really pleased with the results, but suspect that a much better result would be obtained using the right tool for the job.

I have also made a couple of cards this week, one was in aid of the Crafts and Handmade Cards ebay group adopted charity - Bonny Babies. Visit their website to find out more about what they do:

As a group, we have adopted this as our 'group charity' and have decided to have a monthly event which will directly benefit the charity. After discussion with the lady who started the charity, it was decided that we would make 'Thank you' cards. They send these cards to people who are kind enough to make donations towards the running and upkeep of the charity. Those of us who chose to take part have all made cards, this months theme being flowers and/or leaves. Again, there was a huge diversity of ideas and the charity will shortly be receiving quite a large bundle of cards for their use.

I'm afraid you're going to have to wait for photos - for some reason they aren't uploading tonight!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A lovely weekend

It's been an absolutely gorgeous weekend, weatherwise - well, mostly! Yesterday I went to Fishguard to see a craft demo. The demo itself was fairly basic, but it was great fun and I met some lovely people there. Maria came with me, and we were like the bad girls in school - which, for the record, I never was! At one stage we got told off for chatting, but I think that was tongue-in-cheek, because we later agreed to meet up next saturday at another demo. On the whole, crafters are a friendly bunch, and most of the ones I've met have been distinctly on the mad side, as well. Probably why we get on!! Both of us managed to spend rather more money than perhaps we ought to have, but sometimes you just gotta do these things...
One of my purchases was 3 sheets of the most beautiful japanese paper, not sure exactly what I'm going to do with them yet, but I just had to have them!
I've never been to Fishguard before, and I was quite impressed. It's very pretty and the trip there was through some beautiful, and at times, breathtaking scenery.

One other result from yesterday is that Maria and I have decided that as there is no local crop, that perhaps we should do something about arranging one ourselves! Not quite sure what we are letting ourselves in for, but, as they say, Watch This Space!!

Today, we spent the afternoon at our local beach. It was really warm and sunny, so we ate chips on the beach and watched lots of people messing about on the water in their boats/jetski's etc. The kids were running around like lunatics, as was the dog. You have no idea how unusual that is! Muppet, a shih-tzu is possibly the laziest dog I've ever met. However, there was a little terrier on the beach who was determined that Muppet WAS going to play, so he pestered until Muppet gave in. I've never seen him run around so much. Mind you, since we've been home, he hasn't moved...

Whilst we were at the beach, I took loads of photos (over 100! Thank goodness for digital cameras!) As well as taking loads of Maddi and Loaghan, I got lots of 'texture' shots - rope, wood, rust on one of the dredgers that is moored in the bay, footsprints, lots of stuff that I hope to be able to use in some of my art in the near future.

Todays photos are of some ATC's that I've done for swaps in one of the groups. These cards have no particular theme - really I just did whatever came into my mind. I was very aware that one of the people with whom I'm swapping is a fella, so I wanted do some cards which are not too feminine. A lot of the ATC's I've seen seem to be very female orientated, so I thought it would be a bit of a challenge to myself to produce something a little more masculine, or at least unisex! I hope I have acheived this particularly with the chinese themed cards. I think my favourite is probably the dragon on black leather. I really like the combination of textures - the leather, which is incredibly soft and supple, the handmade paper and the metal of the charm. I also rather like the purple card, I found the paper first and used this as the starting point for the card. It is such a beautiful paper that I didn't want to cover up too much of it. The plaque on this card is made from shrink plastic - this is fabulous stuff, if you haven't already tried it, you really should! I used the frosted plastic and coloured it using chalk ink pads, then using a silver ink on a script stamp, I used the intaglio technique and stamped into the hot plastic, giving a textured and indented finish. ATC's are a brilliant way of using up bits and pieces, us crafters never like to throw anything away so it's great to find a way of using up all those bits and pieces.

These cards will be going in the post tomorrow, so here's hoping that the recipients are liking them!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A new departure!

Well, today I finally finished my first spread in my altered book, which is about to go off on its travels - it could be a year before it gets back to me - that's really what I call a long term project. For my first spread, I decided to have a go at some digital art - I've seen quite a lot of examples of this recently, firstly one of the members of an ATC group I belong to does a lot of digital ATC's - his work is fantastic, then I noticed that a lot of scrapbookers are also doing it digitally. So, being as I love using my computer, I thought I really should have a go myself. I have to say that it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears, especially tears, but I finally managed to get to grips with the basics of digital art. Trust me, it's not easy! My photo-manipulation program seems to have all the right bits, but what it doesn't have is any real help! It tells you that you can do certain things, but not actually how to do them!! But, after several false starts, I managed to produce something that I'm reasonably happy with. I'm afraid, though, that you're going to have to wait for a photo - I need to change the format before I can upload it to my blog, and I really don't have the headspace to be doing that just at the moment!

Also this evening, I've finished my leather ATC, I used lots of tiny beads and made an edging for the card, which is made using the sleeve from a leather jacket which belonged to the husband of one of our group members. (It was wrecked before she cut it up, honestly!!) I've then made a head and shoulders figure, inspired by an Erte painting, with lots of tiny, (and I do mean tiny) flat backed gems making up a very sparkly headdress. Again, I will put in some photos next time I update!

My craft room now looks as though it's been at the centre of a hurricane, but it'll have to stay that way for a while longer, because I don't have the headspace for being tidy either!!! What that means is, I'm feeling distinctly lazy and really don't fancy tidying up!Ah well! that's one of the joys of being the grown-up - no-one can make me do it if I don't want to...

Monday, May 01, 2006

A fairly typical bank holiday monday!

Living as we do, on the coast, we tend not to travel any further than is absolutely necessary on bank holidays - the traffic is usually dreadful and it really isn't my idea of fun to spend a large part of the day sitting in fume-filled traffic queues! So, instead, we spent the day catching up on bits and pieces around the house and garden. This is really the first spell of decent weather we've had this year, so it was wonderful to be able to get out into the fresh air and sort out the garden.

Our front garden is sloping, and quite high off the ground, it's also very exposed to sea air and salt breezes, so we're fairly restricted as to what we can grow. Added to that, we have a fair amount of nocturnal visitors who delight in uprooting any new planting. Today, we contented ourselves with moving the remains of our winter wood supply from the front to the back garden, uprooting a veritable forest of dandelions and other weeds and generally tidying up - sounds simple, doesn't it, but believe me, it took hours, and left us exhausted. It was great though, cos both of the younger children helped - Loaghan got the job of smashing up stone for the path that my OH is trying to build. Maddi, my 6 year old daughter, was using a shovel to move dirt and debris - that child has definitely tomboyish tendencies! Not for her the gentle pleasures of watercolour painting etc, oh no! she would far rather be wielding a large shovel/pickaxe/hoe etc!!

OH also managed to repair our swinging seat which had suffered somewhat from the ravages of a West Walian winter, a particularly wet one, at that! However, a few bits of chain and hey presto! good as new! I tried it out this afternoon when I sat out with Maddi and read her a story, very pleasant indeed.

Then I had one of those maternal brainstorms - you know the ones, you suddenly hear your voice offering to do some cooking with the kids! I was sitting there, reading to Maddi, then all of a sudden I heard this familiar voice saying 'How about making some scones for tea?' Unfortunately, it was my voice, and the kids loved the idea. So, next problem - no flour. I have a wheat allergy so we can't use ordinary flour if I'm going to eat, so usually use a gluten free flour. Only problem with that? We didn't have any, so decided to improvise and use rye flour and baking powder and just hope that the result was somewhere near edible. Maddi made fruit scones, Loaghan made cheese ones, and actually, they were delicious! They didn't rise terribly well, and took much longer to cook than scones normally do, but they were fine. We also discovered today that Maddi has expensive tastes, rather like her darling Mama, she likes smoked salmon!

We played a few games of dominoes, each of which Maddi won hands down! We then played pick-up sticks, which she also won...

Art wise, I've done very little in the last couple of days, but I have started a new ATC this evening, using black leather which came from a leather jacket belonging to a friend in one of the groups! I've been looking for a way to use it for a while. I found a gorgeous Erte image, very Art Deco, so I'm planning to use that, I've done some beading around the edge of the leather, and am going to paint my own version of the Erte image - possibly in gold ink, onto the leather. If it works, it should be fab, if not, you'll never hear about it again!

The younger kids are back to school tomorrow, so we'll be back to some kind of routine, which will be very nice after the past couple of weeks of near anarchy...