Life is short. Break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that makes you smile. We're not quantified; there's no chart of desire. When the roaring flames of your heart have burned down to embers, may you find that you have married your best friend. [Steven Tyler]

Monday, December 08, 2008

Ooooo New Toys to Play With!

Whew, what a weekend we've had. It was the open days at Graphicus on Friday and Saturday so the run-up during the week had been ultra busy getting everything ready.

I was eagerly waiting for a delivery to arrive from the USA. Knowing that it had left the USA by air on the 25th of November, I had fully expected it to reach us by the end of that week. On past experience, the company we order from are pretty good at getting stuff to us quickly, on one occasion we placed an order on the Friday and it was delivered to us on the Monday! So when it hadn't arrived by Wednesday I began to get impatient. Why?.... Because it had all of the Tim Holtz new stuff in there, Stamps including the Christmas Stamps, the full range of his Masks, the Ideology range, Seasonal Grungeboard, Grungeboard Books, the brand new supa dupa Pink Bind-it-All, DreamKutz, Storage Tote and the Corner Rounder to name just a little of what was in the shipment. To cut a long story short, the shipment had arrived in the UK on the 28th and was sat in a corner of a warehouse in Manchester! Arrrrggghhhh! Don't you just hate it when that happens. Rob, (the man who can) said he would do everything he could to get it overnighted to us so we'd have time to check the delivery, price it all and get it out on the shelves for Friday's event.

Thursday morning we woke to the most horrendous weather.... Snow, Snow and more Snow! Very beautiful but I have quite a drive to work and it normally takes me about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes in traffic and on country roads. So I left early at 0700 hours and joined the slow moving traffic, it was truly awful. It took me three hours forty five minutes to get to work and then I got my car stuck as I drove into the car park. I couldn't move forwards or backwards. The guys at the Carrosserie Car Company next door came to my rescue and got me out of the snow drift so that I could park... thanks Guys, I really appreciated it after the drive I'd had.

Needless to say, there were problems getting the US shipment to us from Manchester. We had a phone call to say it wouldn't happen that day but they would try for the Friday.

I was keeping my fingers crossed the shipment would come in time for our 11 o'clock kick-off on Friday and sure enough it did, just at the time I should have been starting the demo's. But after seeing what Tim has been doing with all this fantastic stuff on his blog I knew our customers would be straining at the leash to get their hands on it, after all, I was too!

Annette and Lesley got the demo's underway and the rest of us set to and got it checked, priced and on the shelves. Several things found there way to my shopping basket of course and I was able to demonstrate the Christmas Stamps, Masks, Grungeboard and Ideology line together with the Distressed Inks I love so much, Stickles, Prima Flowers, beautiful silk May Art Ribbons, Hambly Rub-Ons (see the lovely White Grungy Alphabet on the tag above - yummy) and lots of other lovely stuff.

I was surprised that so many people braved the weather to be with us. It had stopped snowing and the roads were in the main, much improved. But so many people had driven considerable distances, some from the Midlands, others from the West coast and a couple of ladies who's flight home from Egypt on Friday was so badly delayed due to the weather that they hot-footed it to be with us on Saturday instead.... now that's what I call dedication!

Glenda decided to give everyone a special treat just for the weekend and released a limited number of a brand new A4 themeplate that is absolutely amazing... it's called the Harlequin Rose and it is not going to be available until the 14th of January, 2009. I am going to be real mean and show you some of the sample pieces I made with it on Saturday while demonstrating.

This is a white tag that has a semi-gloss finish and I was asked by a customer if alcohol inks would work on this surface. Well, what better way of finding out than to try it. So I took some Red Pepper and Butterscotch alcohol ink and applied it direct to the surface of the tag using an ink applicator and felt pad. Then I overlaid it with Gold Mixative and a couple of drops of blending solution and cold dried it. I then inked the large Rose Collage image from the Harlequin Rose themeplate with Ranger Archival Black ink (a beautiful black ink that is fab on alcohol inks) and stamped the image onto the tag. I built a decorative corner from Prima flowers and gold and green leaves and finally added a gorgeous silk bow tied from May Art ribbon.

Here's a different colourway, still using the alcohol inks but this time it's Lettuce, Butterscotch and Pesto with Gold Mixatives and finished with a different Prima collection. Oh boy, do I love these stamps. I'm so sorry to do this to those of you who haven't been able to get your hands on them yet but please.... get your new 2009 diary and mark up the 14th of January, 2009 or put a reminder on your PC in Outlook or something similar so that when you switch on your PC on the 14th you will be reminded to order your new themeplate. After all, you've got to have something to spend that Christmas pressy money on don't ya? The only other way to get hold of this themeplate NOW is through the Graphicus Guild.

I am desperate to play some more with these beauts but there's a Christmas tree or two (or even three or four) waiting to go up at home. I do intend to get me some play time over the holidays so look out for some more samples with this set. If the light is good enough I might even do a step-by-step for the blog or if you're real good and you're on Santa's 'Nice' list, it could be a video! Let me know if you want to see more, there's a lot of lovely stamps on this themeplate!

On this tag I used Alcohol Inks in Cranberry, Caramel and Gold Mixative with Tim Holtz and 7 Gypsies stamps (all available at Graphicus).

The background on this tag is the Distress Inks applied with the blending tool, Tim's mask and stamps and finished with a piece from the Ideology collection. The script stamp in the background is an Elusive Images stamp from the Antiquities themeplate. Don't they go well together?

More of Tim's stamps inked with the Clear Distress Embossing Ink pad and black embossing powder. The background was created with with paint dabbers.

And finally, I was also playing with some of Stampsmiths photo-realistic stamps on Saturday and this is one from their Christmas plate, it's new for this Christmas and is a beautiful collection, elegant and artistic. If I'm not too busy tomorrow I will try to get these onto the Graphicus blog with full details of the products.

A little word of warning though... the Tim Holtz products were absolutely flying out on Friday and Saturday, I think we sold out of the Christmas stamps completely and the masks were close behind. If there is anything you want urgently, get in touch with Graphicus quickly. If you don't know what the product is that I've used don't worry, pick up the phone and ring - we'll help identify it for you. I don't think any of the new products are on the website yet but I'm sure Carrie will do her best to get everything that's still available photographed and uploaded this week.

Happy Christmas Crafting to you all!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


OMG! I blinked and the end of November came steaming round the corner and hit me full in the face... Yikes, it's frightening how quickly the days are passing and there's so much to do that I really don't want to do, like cleaning and decorating the house so that it's all fresh for the Christmas decorations to go up.

There are also so many things that I do want to do but haven't got time to, like crafting. Isn't it funny how you get so many ideas running wild around your head when you just don't have any time to play? I've had a note pad and pen surgically attached to me so that I can make quick notes of all my ideas which tend to pop into my head when I'm at the top of a ladder with a paint brush in my hand or elbow deep in sudsy water washing walls and windows.

And yes, my poor blog has suffered badly in the last few weeks. What with all the extra work at home, together with 'work' work and running backwards and forwards to the Doctors, the hospital and the Musculoskeletal Clinic while decisions are made about my knees that it's left me severely devoid of blogging inspiration.

However, the time taken going to all the different appointments has not been time wasted I'm happy to say. Once referred to the specialist clinic for assessment, it wasn't too long before they told me what I already knew.... I am way past any interim help or treatment. I have now been referred for knee joint replacement surgery and have already had my pre-op assessment meeting and completed all the necessary form filling and health checks to make sure I'm 'fit' for surgery.

Last week I trekked off to the hospital for all my blood tests.... honestly, they took so much of it that I thought they'd made a mistake, thinking I was there as a blood donor (I have quite a rare blood group and they are always trying to get their hands on it)!

So now I'm just waiting for my appointment with the surgeon and then I should have a better idea of when they will operate. I'm not looking forward to it but I am looking forward to eventually being able to get around without being doped up to the eye-balls with pain killers.

I have found some time (just a little) to do what I love best.... playing with stamps, inks and wonderful papers, yey! And of course, I taught several workshops in November, all of which have been great fun with fab people and an opportunity to paint canvasses, make accordion journals and concertina keepsakes with origami boxes.

With only four weeks 'till Christmas, almost everything is now geared towards the festive season. I've been working on a 31 day tag book. I'm about half way through covering plain white tags on both sides with lovely Christmassy papers, to which I will add smaller tags with embellishments, stamping and the date. The 'plan' is to take photos every day throughout December regardless of what I may be doing...... housework, shopping, gift wrapping, putting up the decorations, baking..... well you get the idea. I will then add the photos and journalling to the tags as a pictorial record of December 2008. I will let you see how it's coming along when there's something more to see.

Talking of photographs and putting up the deco's, several people have asked me if I'm going to do what I did last year and include our Christmas preparations on my blog? Well, as I'm planning on taking photo's every day for the December Album it should be easy enough to combine the two. So if you don't like Christmas I'd look away now and pop back in January when I'm all Christmassed out! I'll apologise now...... as anyone who knows me, knows that I love the festive season and totally enjoy every aspect of Christmas, even all the extra work. It's well worth it. So from here on in be warned, I'm in festive mode and loving it!!!

If Christmas had a flavour for me it would be epitomised by Starbucks Gingerbread Latte, in their words - 'a sweet and spiced latte with the aroma of freshly baked gingerbread'. Yummm it's delish! A couple of weeks ago while out shopping with DH, we popped into our local Starbucks and tried out the Christmas menu. I couldn't resist buying these lovely festive mugs so that we could make our own scrummy hot chocolate at home:

and this is what it looks like......

So now that I'm on a chocolate high, it's back to the painting (walls.... not canvas) oh poooo!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Have You Seen the Headlines?

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with not a lot of time for crafting on a personal level as I have been knee deep in prepping up workshops and teaching of late.

Thursday saw us having fun with concertina albums filled with interactive tags. We used book board, some fab papers, lots of glue, Tim Hotlz’s Hitch fasteners, stitched envelopes some great fibre ribbons, brads, tags, hessian and a whole heap more super stuff. I have to say the finished pieces were incredible.... really neat work and a lovely bunch of crafters made it such a super day.

The weather was extremely unkind to us on Saturday, it was simply vile but despite the conditions we had people who travelled from far and wide... by train, on the motorway and across country to attend the Waxing Lyrical workshop. We had a blast and it goes without saying that Canvas and Wax was involved, you may have read about it in the newspaper yesterday......

......ummmmm! I shall say no more. If you would like to see the results of the workshop hop on over to the Graphicus Blog here and take a look.

I have been giving a lot of thought to the Christmas preparations that lie ahead and really must start to get cracking on jobs that need to be done this month, where the days are going I just don't know. Christmas Eve is seven weeks tomorrow - aghhhhh! I've got a few ideas in mind for recording events throughout December and I'll share them with you as soon as I have something to show you.

One of the girls on Saturday's workshop has finished all of her Christmas Cards! Oh how I wish I was that organised. One of the few things I've made with a seasonal flavour so far is the Glimmer Mist and Glimmer Chips tag tree:

Just a small selection of tags made with Glimmer Mists, Glimmer Screens, Glimmer Chips and some of the new Elusive Images Christmas rubber stamp themeplates. This was such a fun project to do and has loads of scope for Christmas banners, gift tags or even hanging tree decorations for the 'real' tree. The reverse side of the tags were all covered with papers printed from the Artylicious Season's Greetings CD Rom.

If you've already visited the Graphicus Blog to take a look at what we were doing on Saturday, you will have seen the canvas I was working on:

I have included a couple more shots here so that you can see some of the detail on the canvas, such as this cute little bird nesting in a bed of feathers, waxed and etched back....

.... images stamped onto tissue paper and applied with hot wax so that they look almost transparent on the canvas....

....stencilling with Stewart Gill's 'Galactica' applied with a pallet knife, yumm....

....dripped wax, Pearly Doodles with bronze beads and oil pastels! I will finish this piece soon now that I know exactly where I'm going with it and I'll let you see the finished results.

Happy Crafting!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kindness In Abundance

I must start by saying a big hello and thank you to everyone who left a message over the last week. Your good wishes and helpful suggestions have really lifted my spirits. The knees and back haven't improved much but I feel so much better knowing that there are so many lovely people out there who firstly, so unselfishly care about others and secondly.... visit my blog! A huge thank you. If kind thoughts could make you better I'd be the fittest person around.

One good thing has come out of last week: the back pain is all being caused by the problems I have with my knees. Some weeks ago I was given the results of the x-rays I had taken and it appears that it's got a lot worse than it was a few years back. I now have chronic osteo-arthritis in both knees.... no surprises there! What has changed is that I have been referred to a specialist clinic and now have my appointment date to be assessed - yey! I'll keep you posted.

I'm sorry I didn't get back to update my blog during the week. Sitting at the computer for any length of time has been difficult and that goes for sitting in my work room too. So not a lot of what I set my sights at a week ago has been achieved. I have chosen little things to work on that I can do sitting where I can be comfortable. Stampbord needs very little room to work on and that's one of the things I have finished....

This is a piece that I originally designed as a workshop piece for Elusive Images's Retailer Training event earlier this year. It is an articulated pin made from a domino sized piece and a 1" square piece of Stampbord. I used Ranger's Distress Ink Pads to colour the Stampbord and stamped the images with Archival Black ink. The stamps are all from the Antiquities themeplate (one of my favourites for this type of work).

I added some embellishments: the 'heavenly' word is a pre-etched Creative Acrylics piece that has been over written with the white Inkessentials pen and attached with Glossy Accents. The brads have had most of the struts cut off with wire cutters (just leave a millimetre or two) then the holes in the acrylic piece have been filled with Glossy Accents and the brads set into it.

I finished the pieces with some white rub-ons and a domed letter. The outside edges of the Stampbord have been coloured black using a Sharpie pen. My trusty Crop-A-Dile chomped the holes and set the eyelets to link the pieces together and I attached a sticky-backed broach pin to the back of the main piece!

I have been doing a little bit more to the canvas I showed you in the previous post and I now know exactly how I'm going to finish it. I may get some more done this evening with a little luck.

What else has been happening this week? Well, it was Diesel's Birthday and boy did he know it - he was full of it. My parents bought him a 'giggle' ball. He absolutely lives to play. I suppose being a German Shepherd it's in-built in him... after all, that's exactly how Police dogs are trained - everything is a game. I'm sorry to say the giggle didn't last long, within minutes of giving it to him he'd fathomed out what was making the noise and removed it. He takes the 'squeaks' out of all his chewy toys too! Funny thing is, he doesn't destroy the toy - just the noise.

As a tribute to the birthday boy.......

The photo of him was obviously not taken on his birthday! It's cold in the North East but not quite this cold...... yet! I finished this layout for Glenda's Winter Glimmer TV show recorded a couple of weeks ago and I used some of the Glimmer Chips (the icicles across the top) and the Glimmer Glass (fancy corners and the articulated hanging snowflakes).

He loves the snow and always manages to come in covered in it and with a little 'heap' on his nose where he tries to push it around.

And finally, how fast is this month going? I sat down to prepare my working timetable in the run up to Christmas and was horrified at how little time I have to get so many things done. I always do a three month planner on the PC for October, November and December. I fill in all of the work related dates first and then anything that I have to travel for and finally, any personal dates that need time allocating to them. I then look at what's left..... and finally at my list of all the jobs that I have to do in the house to get it ready for the festivities and the two just don't correlate... nowhere near. Oh dear, I feel a headache coming on!

But you have to start somewhere and on Sunday afternoon, just before the shops shut, DH and I rushed out to an out-of-town shopping centre where there's a Borders book shop. So while he went into Borders I headed for TK Maxx and they had just set up their Christmas department. It was lovely to browse while it was quiet and I couldn't resist this......

.... just what I needed to get me full swing into the preparations, I'll catch up in no time (knees and back permitting). I wish I had time to decorate the house for the fall. Some of my American blogging friends do the most beautiful things to their homes and one of these years... yeh, I know - you've heard it all before! But I will..... one day! But for now, I will just enjoy the beauty of the season and the wonderful colours it brings.

Have fun and Happy Crafting!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Too Many Loose Ends!

I have so many projects started but not finished that it's getting to be 'more started than ever finished!' So I have decided to do something about it. I went up to my work room on Friday evening and pulled out just three of the said projects and decided that I would make a determined effort to complete them over the course of the weekend and the evenings next week. Three seems a manageable number considering I have a two hour live TV show next month that I need to start prepping for.

The first item is an altered canvas started at a workshop I taught in the summer.....

..... although it started out as a canvas I was using in the workshop to demonstrate techniques and to show how different products can be used, I actually liked the colours and worked along with the class when I could. The Grungeboard pieces are just laid on top to get a feel of what space I will have left as I want to finish the piece with some Ten Seconds Studio metal work.

There's lots of stamping onto tissue paper and layering with hot wax. The smell of the hot wax in the studio was Divine!

Next is an album started at a Workshop that Glenda and I took with the very talented Lance Anderson - Mr Rusty Pickle himself when he was over here in the summer.

The book was about 75% completed at the workshop. It was intended that you would add the photo's, journalling and the finishing touches later in your own time. I want to work in a few more pages myself and use the backs of the finished pages too, so I've bought some more Rusty Pickle papers and other bits so that I can tailor it to my own needs. I've really enjoyed doing this so far and definitely want to see it finished.

The third item I've picked out is a little chipboard box with cards on a chain inside from Maya Road which I started at the last Graphicus Open Days in September.

I chose to demonstrate with this as each of the little cards were perfect for collaging stamped images, inking and embellishing. I didn't get too much done during the open days as people wanted to see so many different products and techniques that I was swapping from one thing to the next but I would like to finish the box and its contents to put in the shop so that visitors can see what can be done with it.

I've also used some Maya Road chipboard flowers inked, stamped and embellished with Glossy Accents and brads. They are such fun to use and there's so many ways in which you can use them.

All of my good intentions have come to a grinding halt today..... I had a bad few days with my knees last week, my meds don't seem to have been helping much at all. I hate to be defeated and even more, to give in so I just ignore the pain as much as I can and do what I want. But last night it decided that it was going to get me back for not paying attention and I started to get some really nasty pain in my back so eventually I gave in and went to bed... well, it was about 1.30 a.m. so I didn't really see it as giving in! This morning when I tried to get out of bed I just screeched and couldn't move in any direction, either to get up or to get back into bed and had to just sit cursing.... everything hurt!

It took me over half an hour to get up and dressed and then I had to negotiate the stairs. It goes without saying... nothing much has been achieved today. I can't sit, walk or find a position to lay down in that doesn't hurt, so I don't think I'm going to make much of a hole in finishing any of the above today. Even sitting at the PC for too long is impossible and this has had to be written in five minute stages with time out in between and has taken most of afternoon and evening to finish.

If anyone knows of a good vet!!!