Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas Card Challenge

There's nothing like a good challenge to get me motivated....I think this is the earliest I've got my 'special' Christmas cards made! (I have been known to make them on Christmas Day itself!!) are running a Christmas card competition so I got my cards finished in time for their  deadline

My Mother-in-law, bless her, would never forgive me if I didn't give her a handmade card, she gets them out each year!  My Mum treasures hers too. 

I started with my embellisher, adding some texture to a piece of white felt with bits of lace and organza, before 'drawing' a snowflake on the back with my sewing machine.

After cutting the snowflake out I spent a very happy, crafty evening with friends adding tiny silver beads to the stitching.  My friends were busy knitting, making Christmas presents.

I mounted the snowflake onto some card layered with lace and organza and edged this with glass glitter, adding some mini 'snowflakes' using some lace daisies.

I kept the beads out for my second card, edging the square of white card with a blanket style stitch with a variety of blue and cream beads.

Snowflakes are my favourite theme for Christmas cards and these stamps were new this year from Hobbycraft; the punches and pearls are from my stash!

I still have one special card to make - my husband also gets upset if I don't make him one ;)

You can view the competition entries on's pinterest board, and you still have time to enter if you'd like to win an ipad mini or hobbycraft vouchers!  But only if you're quick, entries must be submitted by 12noon on Christmas Eve.

Edited 13/10/13 to remove links at request of MoneySupermarket in order to meet Google's quality guidelines

Saturday, 24 November 2012


Just tried posting and apparently my Picasa web album is full.  I'm guessing I now have to pay monthly to keep my blog going as I need extra storage - not something I'd like to do.  Any tips?

Saturday, 10 November 2012

a different kind of painting

October half term has been and gone and as usual my list of jobs was far too long for the time available!  Unfortunately, decorating the lounge took far longer than I'd anticipated so I didn't have time for any journaling etc or catching up with arty friends.

It was worth it though. You can't see them on the photo but the coving is really deep and took an hour to paint for each side of the room!  I had to have the paint mixed for the woodwork so it would match the new windows - the guy in the shop told me the quantity I'd bought would do four rooms, it did this one!!!

 I love how the wallpaper is reflected in the mirror.  I decorated the chimney breast by laying the paper horizontally so the grey lines ran horizontally, echoing those in the Sanderson 'Dandelion Clocks'

And of course decorating gives a great excuse to buy new cushions!!

My next creative task is to turn an IKEA circus tent into a 'mud hunt' for my classroom - we're learning about Tanzania in Africa!!!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

a paper cutting exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery

I've been looking forward to this exhibition for a while as I love paper (!) and it features the fantastic work of Rob Ryan.  What I didn't anticipate was that it would also feature work by the very talented Su Blackwell and that there'd be some pieces I'd be familiar with from books on papercutting.

The piece by Rob Ryan was especially created for this exhibition.  It's huge!  [note: I don't know those people, I just thought it gave a good idea of scale with them there!]

When you enter the exhibition you pass through this enchanted forest.  The branches are suspended from the ceiling and hover just above the floor.

The above piece is one I've seen in a book or on the internet.  I love it and it was great to see it 'in the flesh' as it were!

The black swirls above were enormous - I'm trying to choose wallpaper for our living room and would love this!  [Sophie wasn't impressed!]

Yes, that motorbike is life size and made of paper.  There's a skeleton elsewhere in the gallery made by the same artist.  Amazing.

I won't share any more images as I don't want to spoil it for others who may go to the exhibition (Sue?!) but will leave you with some images of Su Blackwell's work, which made me want to have a go at paper cutting some time next week :)

Monday, 22 October 2012

The Play Date Cafe challenge...3 years on!

I know it's such a cliche, but really, where does the time go?  Three years ago I was never going back to teaching (!) and now here I am, happily teaching in a local special school and enjoying every minute of it!  Today I've been invited to be an Alumni guest over at The Play Date Cafe.

There are big celebrations going on over there, from Oct 18-22, with other design team members returning to join in the fun as special guests.  With daily prizes from a variety of sponsors, and additional giveaways for becoming a follower and displaying the brand new badges it really is a party!

The PDCC has always been a unique challenge for two reasons:
1) they encourage you as a player to 'interpret the colours' as YOU see them
2) they welcome pretty much ANY type of project, from cards to layouts, knitting, crochet and sewing, mixed media and even cupcakes!
I just love that you can join in whatever you're in the mood for making or have the appropriate colour resources for.

After an initial panic (!) I decided to see what I had materials wise in these three colours and eventually settled on some felt.  I considered making some toadstools but then realised that my favourite flowers of all time, hydrangeas, come in all these shades so I set too with a bit of stitchery...

Inspired by Julia Jowett's intricate needlework I used some ribbon for part of the petals then added tiny cross stitch, creating hints of decaying petals.  French knots and tiny beads decorate the centre and there's more on the blue tag.

I knew when I made the felted tag that I was partly chickening out from combining these colours in a painted project and it was kind of bugging me that I'd not really risen to the challenge!  So yesterday I set too and made a card, using lots of white space between the strong colours.

I'm particularly happy with this as I used my 'Faded Jeans' distress marker to colour directly onto a text stamp, meaning I could create texture to the centre of the flower and made a stem.  I've had my markers for a while but hadn't really used them.

I'd love for you to join me in congratulating The Play Date Cafe by playing along and sharing your support by saying hello when you pop over for a visit.  This challenge has a  very special place in my heart (sorry, corny but true) and it would mean a lot if you joined in.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

a journal page after a day out in the autumn sunshine

Not that my page bears aNY resemblance to my day out!  I had this page spare in my journal,

and a pile of printed and painted tissue paper to play with and that's what happened.  Although after spending time out in the sunshine surrounded by such gorgeous colours I should have been doing a journal page in reds, yellows, oranges, pinks, with tumbling leaf shapes - it will happen, it just needs to 'sit' in my head for a little while first!

We are very lucky to live extremely close to Dunham Massey, a beautiful National Trust property with acres of deer park, a huge house and a garden.  [Oh, and a great restaurant too ;) ]

[those grey clouds threatened but we stayed dry, and it stayed sunny!]

My journal called my name when I was on my way up to bed!  I decided to splash a bit of paint on the page so it would be dry for more playing with in the morning.

 Of course what actually happened was I played much longer than I intended, and added very little this am.

At first I thought it was way too busy but it's growing on me!  I tried taming it down a little by painting over some sections (well, one, I really don't like painting over work, although I know it often improves things!)

This is a bit like 'spot the difference'!  I added some white to the collage lines in the top left corner, then felt it was a bit disjointed so added some blue stencilling

I may add some doodling, or some pencil shading.  We stopped at Hobbycraft on our way home from Dunham (I needed some paper) and I had a little play with some new Faber Castell pencil crayons.  I do not need any pencil crayons, I have tonnes, but these were so yummy.  I behaved myself and didn't buy any but mean to dig mine out from wherever their hiding!

Enjoy your Sunday, it's beautifully sunny again here today :)

Monday, 15 October 2012

Cabinet of Curiosities

This month's theme over at The Sketchbook Challenge is 'Cabinet of Curiosities'.  I would so love to have one of these, I love the idea of lots of interesting things all collected together in many different drawers and boxes.  How this translates into a sketchbook page is another matter but Jane Davies suggests a 'cabinet of curiosities' as a format which I rather like.

The idea is to focus on variety, and it really gets you thinking!  I kept feeling myself reaching for a colour or shape I'd just used, even when it was one I don't normally go for - I guess my brain had been recently alerted to it and thought it was a good idea!

I found it really quite hard to choose things that were different.  I know what I tend to go for (blues and greens, text, circles) and had to try and make sure I didn't keep reaching for these.  I also found myself justifying myself when I did reach again for a blue (it's a different shade) or when making another circle (it's using different supplies!).

This 'task' was part of lesson 4 of 'Extreme Composition' and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I cut snippets from magazines, old books, envelopes and bits of painted paper, and used rub ons and made marks with paint, pastels and ink and placed them in a grid format.  I then added 'one mark' to each of them, in the form of collage, printing, paint and drawing.

It certainly got me using supplies I don't normally reach for but will be doing in the future!  Have a go, it's fun!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

some shapes and lines

I have to say that I'm looking forward to half term week when I can catch up with some work in the 'Extreme Composition' workshop I'm taking from Jane Davies!  This is week 4 and I'm only on lesson 2!  It's a great workshop though, just quite time demanding.

Although I like them, these pieces all feel a little 'safe'.

I had a play with the project on a manilla tag, adding in some felted pieces and some stitching..

... the photo doesn't do the texture (or the colours for that matter) much justice..

It was an interesting idea to explore though :)


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