Saturday, 30 July 2016

Sunflower - mixed media tag

There's a barley field near us and at this time of the year it's like golden waves lapping against the sky.   It looked, smelled, felt and sounded like summer.  I have a beautiful sunflower stamp and as I walked our puppy down the lane beside the field, this tag took shape in my mind.  I had no particular words to go with the images and didn't want to crowd the design with them so they are kept to one side, leaving the rest of the images to carry the message of a straw textured summer.

Even looking at this again makes me think of straw coloured sunny days!

If you shade around the outside of images which are backed onto white card, it makes them pop more.  The video shows how....

Thursday, 28 July 2016

14th Century Church Tombs (and beard storage)

We both like visiting old churches and St Peter's Church near us at Dyrham has this fascinating memorial to a lord and his lady from the 14th century.   The stone carving shows the skill of the craftsmen in those times and it's difficult to drag your eyes away from the detail.  This couple will be lying side by side for eternity.  I hope they got on.
This carving shows the children of the couple in mourning and is faded out at the top because of the strong sunshine spilling in from the window above.  It's a very lovely church with more natural light than usual.
The inscription below is described as a somewhat free translation.  My even freer translation (before we discovered this framed version) went something like - "Privately buried here in the tumulus and sub-prime stratus is Morris Russell's victorious wife who was very military. "  I don't speak Latin.
Here are they are represented in a brass embedded in the floor and neither of them look very happy about it.
 Morris looks particularly cross with his downturned mouth.  Or it could be a moustache?  And if it is a moustache, did he also have a beard and if so, where would he have kept his beard?  Inside or outside that elaborate armour which protects even his chin?  If inside, I imagine it would be quite itchy.  If outside it would look ridiculous because I doubt it would like flat in a dignified way.  It would stick out surely?
 Again there was a lot of light spill but you get the idea.  It's a beautiful brass and I was quite taken with the tiles in the surround.
And for a final "oooh", as we were leaving, we noticed this.  It's a replica of a coffin wagon.  I'm sure there's a better name but as I've only seen anything similar in Thomas Hardy TV adaptations it was very interesting to see one up close.  It's not too big a stretch for the imagination to picture this sorry little cart jolting over the lanes, being dragged and pushed by mourners on the way to the church.
Outside the church again in the sunshine, here are some doggie pics.  Our scruffy pup is coming up to his first birthday.  He's taken us by surprise in the way he's become such a big part of the family.  We (try to) teach him manners and to stay on four paws when he greets people.  We hide his plastic balls in a special drawer because otherwise he torments you by dropping it at your feet and looking cute until you get dragged into playing fetch for 10 mins when are supposed to be doing other things.  We try and keep his coat neat and tangle free but he prefers to chew the brush so that gets hidden too.
Mostly, we try not to spoil him.  That's been more difficult since he was so ill this spring that he spent 4 nights in hospital and we didn't know if he'd come home again.  But he bounced back to full health and is allowed off the lead now in certain safe places and has (nearly) the run of the house because he's house trained and rings his bell by the front door if he needs "private time".  That doesn't save the toilet roll if we accidentally leave a door open or slippers, shoe insoles, socks (what is it with dogs and socks?!) tissues, paper or the occasional book.  He can open some doors and gleefully pushes  his way into bedrooms in the morning and wakes the sleeping occupants by jumping on them and giving them his special slurpy doggy kisses.  Bless.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Gilded Tag

There are many ways to achieve a gilded effect on card.   You can buy golden mirror card or one of the hot foiling tools on the market.  Although I've been tempted down the hot foiling route, this method serves me well and in this video I show what I use to get the gilded effect.  I also share a technique for creating exactly the colour of flat backed embellishments to suit your project.  It's at the end of the video and requires only a craft heat gun and glue gun.  No expensive machines or foil!
The quote is by Francis Bacon and is also the title of what is probably Josephine Tey's best known book "The Daughter of Time",  a brilliant dissection of the historical lassitude that accepts the Tudor rendition of Richard III as a usurper and nephew murderer.  He wasn't.  

....and back on Planet Craft...see the gold blob in the pic below?  You can make that. 

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Greetings Cards x 2 using kraft and patterned paper

I seem to have got myself in a frugal crafting groove after the past couple of posts!  In all my projects I'm mindful that stamps and die cuts can made projects seem very prescriptive.  But just use it as a launch pad for your creations.  Or sit back with a cup of tea and watch the videos.  There are always plenty of techniques snuck in there!  So here's the first card, it's made with two die cut doilies layered on top of each other and a bit of jooosh in the centre.  (Or - flat backed bead - for those who prefer real words.)  What's nice about this card is that there are only 2 types of card used, one plain and one patterned.  I've never had a whole load of patterned paper in my stash.  I find solid block colour cardstock much more useful and use more kraft, white and cream than any other colours.
I also like generic cards which are suitable for anything and any gender.
 This second card is very simple and is just two layers finished off with one of the handmade flowers from this post.  The sentiment is hand written and can be adapted to suit the occasion.  It was added here to show you how I might have finished the card off.  Generally I have a few of these type of cards made up, ready to have a sentiment added when I've forgotten people's birthdays for example!

Grab that cuppa.  Here's the video.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Frugal Crafting - Greetings Card - Part 2

So here's the second part to this post.  Part 1 is here if you missed it and it's where I showed you a card made using two colours of card, scissors, glue.  I also showed you how to make two different flowers.  The card below takes that one step further and shows you how to use edging punches and flower cut outs to get lots of dimension and layers.  Although I've used punches and cut outs here,  I've deliberately used simple flower shapes that you could draw and cut out.  You can rip the card across the bottom if you don't have an edge punch.  The point is, if you don't have exactly the same crafting gizmos, it doesn't matter.  Just take the basic template and adapt to suit what you have. 

For example - I've got a job lot of these flat backed pearl beads but you could use a button or a bead as a centre piece. 

The flowers look like aged leather but it's just cardboard.

                                          And here's the video to show you how....

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Frugal Crafting - Greetings Card - Part 1

It's very easy to make cards and projects when you have lots of punches, stamps, patterned papers and equipment to choose from.  But sometimes having too many "crafting things" can be a barrier to creativity.  Where do you start with so many options?  Some time ago I ran a frugal workshop where equipment was limited.  It was designed for beginners who wanted to try before they invested in the endless and bewildering supply of inks, paints, pastes, gels, stamps and dies.  We made scrap books using things they already had around the house - card, string, scissors, glue and photos they brought with them.  By the end of the day we had ripped edges, glued string into circles to make embellishments, layered mats for photos and made personalised books everyone was really happy with.  They glowed with pride at their creations!  So this post and video is for beginners or experienced souls who want to get back to basics.

There are two parts to this post because there are two cards.  The first is made using only two colours of card, scissors, glue.  I'll show you how to make two different flowers one glued and one sewn if you fancy that.  The second card which I'll post soon advances on the basics of the first slightly and shows how to use edging punches and flower cut outs to get lots of dimension and layers.

Enjoy the video!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Traditional Victoria Sponge Recipe

One of our birthday traditions is home made cake.  The birthday person gets to choose the type of cake and it's always "sponge and jam please!"  I've tried offering lemon drizzle or chocolate but Victoria sponge wins each time.  
I suspect everyone has their own reliable recipe but just in case you haven't, here's mine:

200gm room temp butter
200gm golden caster sugar
200gm self raising flour (or plain + 3 tsp's baking powder if you've run out of SR like me!)
1 tsp baking powder (in addition to plain mix above if using)
2 tablespoons milk
4 medium eggs

Heat oven to fan 180 celsius or non fan 200 celsius.  Butter two cake tins about 20cm across and line the bases with parchment to make it easier to remove the cooked cake.  Throw all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  (I use a food mixer for about 4 mins).  Divide mix between the two tins and bake for about 25 mins.  When springy and golden on top, remove from oven, turn out onto a rack.  While it's cooling, make the filling:

100gm room temp butter
150gm icing sugar (sift if it's lumpy but I usually miss this step as it creates such clouds of sugar dust!)
vanilla to taste - either from a pod, or a paste or extract.  (I use seeds from a whole pod or if I don't have one, about 1 tsp vanilla extract.)

Beat the butter till smooth, add the icing sugar in stages and add the vanilla once the butter and sugar are well mixed.
Spread the filling on the base of one of the cakes only once cake is completely cooled and top with jam flavour of your choice.  We always use strawberry but raspberry or apricot would work nicely.  You can also just use fresh fruit if you know you'll eat it all quickly!
Place the other cake on top and dust the top with sieved icing sugar

I couldn't find the candles so cut out the recipient's name welded with the word "cake" using a Brother scan and cut.  I cut two with one mirror imaged so I could stick them together with two pieces of wire sandwiched between them so it would stick in the top of the cake.  Next time I'll also cut out candle shapes!

And in final exciting news - after several months of planning, designing, researching and tearing out of hair, the new web site is inching closer!!  I can't wait to show you how pretty it looks, how clean and shiny and how easy to use but you'll need to wait a little longer while we jazz up its frou frou, buff its whizz and reassure it that it's gonna be fine and everyone will love it before thrusting it out into the limelight to take its place on the digital stage.  Soon I shall be saying goodbye to The Week Day Home and Blogger where we have been hosted for the past 4 or 5 years and shall move to a new host and a brand new name and logo which is having its first outing here.  I'll try and sneak the yoga cows in somewhere because so many of you have said they make you giggle and that's the whole point of this blog - to share ideas about crafting, food and life, to laugh at cows and hopefully inspire your own creativity.  You'll be the first to know when it goes live!

Friday, 15 July 2016

Flower Card

There's a French stamp company I really like called Carabelle and their abstract flowers feature in quite a lot of what I make.  

For this card I gave myself a challenge using only 3 colours but layering the colours up to create depth.  The colours are all taken from the distress inks range using Antique Linen, Tumbled Glass and Spun Sugar.  The sentiment stamp used is from Lili of the Valley but their packaging is brand neutral so you won't see a logo for them in the video.  This is a simple card.  Enjoy the video :)

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Altered notebook - flowers

These notebooks are fun to do.  Taking something corporate or just plain dull black and making it any colour you like is very satisfying.  I like muted,  matching tones but if your preference is firework pink and lime green try it.  
 Front view above and back view below.....

This notebook was covered with machine cut flowers and leaves but it could be altered with anything florally.  Flowers can be die cut or made by hand cutting deceasing circle sizes and piling them on top of each other.  Leaves can be made by cutting out a leaf shape from a folder piece of card.  Finish with a button for the flower centre.  Whatever you do, be different!  The video below, shows you how :)

Monday, 11 July 2016

I made a Bear!

I like a workshop.  It's time you've bought for yourself to spend precious time doing something.  And you can properly enjoy it without feeling guilty about the dust/ironing/weeds/more dust because you're supposed to be doing the thing you're doing.  In my case it was a second needle felting day with uber talented Gretel Parker the Queen of Pokey Needles.  This day, coming as it did at the end of a rather hectic week of meetings including one in Germany, felt like a real tonic.
Needle felting is a very inexact science, it's sculpting with fibres but doesn't have a terminology.  You start with this...
 And stab it about with some special barbed needles which mesh the fibres together.
 You shape it...
 And tighten it all up with repeated stabs.
 Add ears.
 Have a one to one tutorial on the best way to add these gorgeous, tiny, hand made glass eyes and suddenly you're looking at something with real character.
Gretel's descriptions of the process are organic, descriptive and instantly understandable.  "Firm it up a bit.  "Poke it a bit more".  "If it's hollow, pop a ball of fibres up it".   Very early in this friendly, tea fuelled day I found tensions unwinding, cares dissolving and breath deepening as I became absorbed by pricking a muddle of wool into a shape.  Even when a break was called, many of us continued working, too engaged to tear our attention away.  Here's what we all made....
The obsession kept hold over the weekend as I continued prodding and poking to try and achieve the same smooth perfection Gretel achieves in each of her pieces.
  Even looking at these pictures now I want to get my needle out and neaten the imperfections.
If you get a chance to join one of these workshops, do.  If not, get a copy of Gretel's book.  And have a nice sit down with a cup of tea while you try and work out which project to try first.  By the way, he's called Sven.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

How to age an embossed card

Here's a really nice and simple way to get more from your embossing folders and make a sophisticated card.  I don't have many folders and rarely use them other than to add texture to a card background.  It wasn't enough.  I wanted more.  So after some playing around with different techniques and not being happy with any of them I accidentally put my ink pad down the wrong way up on a piece of embossed card and tah day!  This will make your backgrounds look old and antiques and having tried a few different colours of card found the grey and white worked really well together.  If you have a white ink pad, you can do this.  There is some gold embossing powder added too and in the video below the picture, I show you how to do that.  

Monday, 4 July 2016

Time in a Garden

On one of the unexpected, warm and bright Saturday mornings of early summer, we sat in the garden with hands wrapped round mugs of coffee.  As the caffeine worked it's magic, we noticed the garden was actually fizzing with activity.   From the ground up things were happening.  Grass, cut only a few days previously, was waving like corn in a field.  Insects, bees and butterflies filled the air and any bit of air uninhabited by flying things was filled with pollen and floaty flower bits.  And above that were swallows, swifts and house martins darting about playing chase through the sky.  This page is stuffed in an effort to capture that atmosphere and sense of fullness.  You'll need to provide your own coffee though.
 The lime greens of late spring and early summer keep everything fresh and vivid.  Like cucumber in Pimms.
 These petals were cut from ordinary transfer paper coloured with pencils and layered.
Enjoy the video showing how this page was made.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Mixed Media Notebook Cover

The company I work for are updating their logo so that meant a goodie bag for us all with a pen and security tag in the new colours.  And a notebook.  I felt in serious danger of being corporatised, so took urgent action.  I adopted a slap it on approach with a base of gesso x 2, some printed tissue, fabric, lace, textured paste, spray inks and then added lots of detail.  Once the glue gun is out, it's difficult to know when to stop.
 Use embossing powders to add an aged effect.
Have a dig around in your stash to use up some of those left overs from other projects.  Pins, buttons, lace, bus tickets, pieces of corrugated card and beads can all be layered up.

This book has already been claimed by a colleague.  I'll swop it for her still logo'd notebook and play with some winter themed book cover ideas.  Yes, we've passed the longest day now so I can legitimately think about winter.  My excuse is that when I was designing projects for magazines we worked 4-5 months ahead to meet deadlines and I haven't got used to seasonal crafting!
See how it's done below and have a go yourself.