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]

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Wow! What a Show - Part Two

Danger! Long Blog.........
WARNING! This entry is photo heavy........

So, as promised - here is 'Percival Ponsonby Smyth' in all his glory and doesn't he suit his name?
Friday 15th: Van Loading Day! Lesley's husband David came in to help Adrian load the van.... we had a lovely new one with a tail lift which made loading the furniture for the stand a whole lot easier. Everything went in very neatly and without too many hick-ups.

Percival was finished early in the afternoon and was placed on a large board and carefully wrapped in copious amounts of bubble wrap and cling film and was loaded into the back of the van. Glenda and Adrian set off late afternoon and headed down to Birmingham to be ready to unload early Saturday morning. Apparently, he behaved beautifully throughout the journey and he arrived still in one piece!

Saturday 16th: The rest of the team rendezvoused at 0800 hours. We were taking two vehicles so Judith accompanied Lesley and Emma kept me company. It was a very cold, frosty but bright morning and the traffic was light. We were off and the drive was good all the way.

By the time we arrived at the NEC, the van had been unloaded (courtesy of Mike and Mike, the burly assistants hired to help set up the stand). We all set about unpacking the art work and making the stand look astonishing. It was sooooo cold. With it being an Exhibition Centre, most of the outside walls are actually huge access doors which roll up to allow the lorries to unload and they were open all day, brrrrrrrr.

The wonderful Helen (Chilton) arrived mid afternoon to help out. Helen is a fabulously talented stamp designer, artist and member of our design team and was going to be with us on the stand throughout the show. We're a big team this year but with Glenda teaching and demonstrating every day, we need all hands on deck!

We finished setting up about 6p.m. and left to check-in to the hotel. By the time we got to our rooms there was just time to drop of the luggage, slap on some lipstick and we were off again. This time to one of our favourite restaurant called the Tea Room, a really good Chinese not too far from the hotel. It was a fab meal as usual and then back to the hotel for an earlyish night. We have a very early start in the morning (0530 for me) and an incredibly long day!

Ok! So here we go with all the photos from the show. Starting with, of course...... the inimitable 'Percival'. Doesn't he look haughty?

Here's a close up of his feathers.... all those lovely luscious Artylicious papers mixed with splendid peacock feathers, sequins, glitter and Glimmer Mists - Yumm!
Here we all are..... raring to go before the show opens (I daren't show you photos of how we looked at the end of the day after 11 hours on the stand). Here is Lesley who is taking care of 'Meet and Greet, and Emma who is brill with sales.

Adrian's looking very pleased with himself after setting up all the IT side of the stand.... it all works too! Yey!!.....

......and Judith is ready and waiting for the onslaught. Don't worry Judith, it's not that bad really!
The product viewing area......

Unmounted Stamps, and don't those new 'all-colour' inserts look fab?

Even the wood mounted stamps have new coloured index. They really drew a lot of attention and there were far more orders for mounted than usual.

Here's Glenda and Helen looking pleased with themselves. And so they should! Just to the left of Glenda, sitting on the shelf you can see the most incredible 'doll' which was made for Glenda by Helen. I didn't get a close up of the doll, but I'm sure that Glenda will post a photograph of her on her blog - what a fantastic doll!

This year, we mounted the cards onto hand painted and colour co-ordinated canvasses. You can see them on top of the display stands.
Uhmmm! Me thinks I've seen this somewhere before?
It's going well....... don't you just love Glenda's pinny? Very colour co-ordinated.
All our uniforms match, we found them in America when we were there in September for the Memory Trends Trade Show in Las Vegas. Lots of people commented on how great we all looked and how 'classy' the stand was.
At the end of the day..... inputting orders and checking the paperwork.
And a final word from Percival..... the lord and master of all he serveys.
The show closes at 16.30 on Tuesday when tear-down starts. Our Mr Shifters arrive to load the van while we pack away all the art work. It's still very, very cold outside. In fact, there has been freezing fog for most of the day and when I ring home before leaving the NEC, I'm told that the visibility at home is really poor and temperatures are down to -4. Ooooh that's cold.
Our drive north is not too bad but we do drive through some heavy snow showers that last only a couple of minutes and vanish as quickly as they appeared. The further north we go the worse the visibility becomes but we all arrive home safely - although nowhere near as quickly as I normally manage to do the 200 mile drive home. So that's it for another year....... well, in the UK anyway. Who knows where the next one might be?
All in all, the show seemed a lot quieter (foot-fall wise) than it normally is but having said that it was a remarkably successful show for us. We met some lovely people, had some very exciting things happen (can't share at the moment, it's early days) did some very good business with lots of orders and we ALL enjoyed ourselves immensely. Wish I could say the same about my feet!
I just had to share these photos with you. This is the morning after getting home from the show. Taken on the lane leading from home when setting off for work, the sun was shining and it was just so beautiful I had to stop and capture the scene. You can still see a little of the fog lingering in the trees.
Boy! What a frost. It was so heavy that it looked more like snow - I don't like the cold but when it looks this spectacular I'll put up with it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Wow! What a Show.

I've been teasing you for long enough with little snippets of a Stampbord Collage I've been working on. Well here's the finished article.
I made the Stampbord mirror to display on the stand at 'Stitches' to demonstrate the versatility of Stampbord and all the different products that can be used in conjunction with it.

It has been a whirlwind of a fortnight........

We have been away at Craft Hobby and Stitch International or 'Stitches' as it is better known. Stitches is a trade only show held at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham and is the UK equivalent of the American trade show CHA. The show takes place over three days and opened on Sunday 17th and ran until Tuesday 19th of February.

But let me take things back to the week before and all the preparation that went into getting ready to go. Anyone who reads Glenda's blog will know that Glenda and Adrian had both been very poorly in the run up to the show and thank goodness, were both ok (but only just) and back at work last week. We had a contingency plan just in case but didn't need it in the end.

It was all hands to the pump so to speak and some of the Elusive Images design team members who live close enough came in to help prep all the art work and displays. A big thank you to Kathleen, Lesley, Annette and Barbara who all rose to the occasion and did a fantastic job wielding paint brushes, stamping, painting canvases, spraying Glimmer Mists and carefully wrapping and packing away all the wonderful pieces. Another big thank you goes out to the rest of the design team: Helen, Sue, Rose, Eunice, Elaine and Sandra who made such fantastic pieces to be displayed at the show. We are incredibly fortunate in having the most 'awesome' bunch of artists who make up our design team.

Everyone worked really hard to put the show together. Val, Sheila, Bill and Vickie in production did an amazing job with the stamps and other products and getting all the stock packed and ready to go. Carrie Anne, our very talented graphic designer was totally awesome and beavered away (we hardly heard a peep out of her all week she was so busy), and Denise our accountant did just about everything else. From doing accountancy things to picking and packing Graphicus orders and getting them out the door to keep the other side of the business running smoothly.

Then there was the show team who went to Birmingham: Glenda, Adrian, Emma from Sales, Judith our Office Manager and me.

Everyone played their part and what a success it resulted in.

During the early stages of planning the show, we had decided to go with a strong 'Peacock' theme for the stand to complement a brand new range of stamps that would launch in two phases. The Peacock Glory themeplate launched on Glenda's new Create and Craft TV show - Stampbord Sensations and the second themeplate Peacock Lady was released at the trade show together with some other fabulous new stamps (look out for them on the website soon).

Anyway, to cut a long story short....... I had this vision for a piece of artwork to decorate the stand which would encompass the peacock stamps and show off a selection of Artylicious papers printed from the CD ROM collection. It was a very strong vision in my head, I just wasn't too sure how I was going to transform the idea into a 3D piece of art work.

This is how my idea started out. I struggled with the roll of chicken wire at home until my DH stepped in to save me from its very sharp and unforgiving edges. He formed it into a tube (using our dogs rugby ball to wrap it around) and then he handed it over for me to transform which I did wearing some very thick oven gloves to protect my hands while I pushed, squeezed, stretched and moulded the wire into shape. The next day at work (Thursday) I started to assemble all of the elements.
Artylicious papers were printed double-sided, cut into different sized squares and formed into cones.I inserted Peacock feathers into some of the larger cones - the hot glue gun got a lot of use I can tell you!
Kathleen was hard at work, first spraying sheets of tissue paper with a variety of colours from our huge selection of Glimmer Mists.
I covered the frame of the peacock with papier mache and when it was dry, painted it with a base of white emulsion. I forgot to bring some Gesso with me!
Here are some of the cones being glued into place to form the tail feathers. Below, Kathleen has stamped peacock feathers onto the tissue paper and is hand tearing the individual feathers for me to glue onto the peacocks body.

Well, I'm afraid I'm going to do it again and keep you in suspense for just a little longer. It's getting very late and I have an early start in the morning. I will be back tomorrow with photo's of the finished peacock - his name is Percival by the way.
I will tell you more about the trade show and have pictures of our stand and more of the artwork.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sunday - A Day of Three Halves (I know it should be thirds, but it doesn't sound right)!

Sunday started well...... the sun was shining beautifully if not a little icy but it soon melted and there really was some warmth in the sun for most of the day. I got a lot done in the morning and most of the afternoon - work stuff, but it went well. Until it came to driving home from Barnard Castle and that's when things changed with a 'Bang'!

Now, to explain a little about 'sods law', it goes like this.... Knowing that I have a long trip to do by road at the end of the week, on Saturday morning I popped my car down to my friendly, local tyre shop and asked them to check it over for me. I've had to put air in the front tyres several times over the winter and they always look a little flat to me. I know low profile tyres are supposed to look like that but....

Anyway, they said the back ones were absolutely fine but I should start to think about changing the front ones. 'Fine' says me, order them up. 'Come in on Monday and we'll have them for you by early afternoon' they say. That's great! I've used this garage for many years and if they say I should have tyres then I should have tyres. They have always be extremely honest and trust worthy and as I'm driving two other people to Birmingham for the trade show at the weekend, I'd rather be safe than sorry. I do an awful lot of miles in the space of a week and at quite high speed most of the time. So off I go happy in the thought that I've taken care of that before anything untoward happens.

So back to Sunday afternoon, I'm tootling along with the sun sinking low in the bright blue sky, I've done everything I set out to do and I'm enjoying the drive. Flying past all the Sunday drivers, boy does this little car motor. I call it my 'Pocket Rocket' you know. Then, hey! what was that? Something feels mighty strange whoho..... my car doesn't normally feel like this and what's that noise? Something's definitely wrong. Oh boy, is it ever - yeh! you've guessed it. My nearside tyre has blown and there's a gash some 10 centimeters long on the edge of the tyre.

My wonderful husband sorts it out for me but I have to drive on one of those horrid solid spare wheel thingies that has been hiding under the carpet in the boot. My car has low profile, wide wheels and I'm used to it cornering like it's on rails. Not on this 'thing' it doesn't. At one point I almost take an iron railing with me going round a corner and I wasn't even driving fast. So that's the second half of the day taken care of.

Last week I told you the tale of the Pigeon and about my sister-in-law taking it in and caring for it. Well, Susan and her husband Howard, have been to Otterburn (Sunday morning) to collect a little baby Chihauhuas - I think that's how you spell it. It's how I spell it if it's wrong.

So Sunday evening we set off to go and visit Susan and Howard, Mr Pigeon and welcome the Pup and we arrive in one piece despite the solid lump of rubber that's a poor excuse for a tyre. (Shouldn't moan really - at least I'm still mobile)!

The trauma of the afternoon just melts away when I'm handed this wonderful little bundle of fur.... let me introduce you to Rupert!

Isn't he adorable? I am so used to big dogs, I've always had Afghan Hounds or German Shepherds, my Mum and Dad have Rotties so this little mite just seems so tiny. Let me tell you, what he lacks in size he sure makes up for in peronality and ghusto. Susan's other dog is a Tibetan Spaniel and little Rupert was really giving him what for. But it wasn't long before he was pooped and he crashed out on my lap.......

He really made himself at home and I didn't want to give him back. This little chap is going to be loved so much. Susan and Howard lost their beautiful Chihauhuas 'Peanut' just before Christmas in very sad circumstances and with very little warning. He was a rescue dog who had been very badly treated and when he came to live with them he had hardly any fur and could barely put one foot in front of the other without falling over. They sorted him out very quickly and he was a little treasure who we all miss dearly.

So I have no doubt that Rupert is going to capture everyones heart - he already has mine!
Unfortunately, I had to give him back and here he is in his own little house. It's really a cat house but shush! don't tell him that. Mr Pigeon is doing well too, he's settled in really well and looks a lot more relaxed. His wing is still not fully repaired but it's improving. So it has been a nice end to a day of three halves!

Here are a few more pieces of Stampbord from the Stampbord Sampler that I finished last Monday. I will post a pic of the completed piece soon..... promise!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Just a Little Stampbord Taster!

Just a quick post to finish the day with some artwork. I have spent most of the weekend and Monday working on arty projects for the up and coming 'Craft Hobby and Stitch International', a trade only show which takes place at the NEC in Birmingham this month.

It is coming round so quickly and there is still a lot to be done so the focus at work for the next two weeks (well, ten days really) will be preparing for the show and being ready to leave for Biringham a week on Friday.

I will take photo's at the show and will post a lot more art work after the show concludes. But for now I have a few sneaky peaks of some of the pieces I have been working on for one of the projects........
This is a Stampbord piece which has had the background coloured first, it has then been stamped with a permanent black ink. Using a scratch knife I have lifted off the top surface to reveal the white clay beneath. On this square I've used some 'Tombow' artists pens to infill with colour. Sunflower Stickles create the feature in the centre of the rose and a little metal humming bird has been added to give dimension.

These squares are just a small portion that go together to make a much larger piece of work. All stamps are by Elusive Images. ........... and another little taster! But that's your lot.

This tag and cards are things I made some time ago -The tags on this card above and the one below have been sprayed with glistening inks. The effects are stunning and so much better than I have managed to capture in a photograph. The cards are collaged with stamped images, some embossing and a few tastful embelishments.

I would like to take this opportunity to say a BIG thank you to everyone who visits this site and and even BIGGER thank you to all of you who take the time to leave a comment..... it is so appreciated. If you find yourself reading this and haven't left a comment yet - please do, I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, February 04, 2008

German Shepherd v Pigeon

A week ago today just after lunch, my dog Diesel was standing at the back door asking to be let out into the garden. I was busy in the kitchen and watched him wander out onto the patio. He was standing at the top of three steps which lead down onto the garden area surveying his territory and I was about to return to what I was doing when all of a sudden I saw him launch himself into the air.... up, up he soared and at that moment, I realised what he was doing.

A very large, plump wood pigeon was swooping down from the Maple tree and was aiming to clear the 7 foot fence around the garden when it was grabbed, unceremoniously by a huge black dog.... yes this is a dog not a cat!

Diesel at Christmas - Looking quite Angelic!

Diesel landed gracefully in the lower garden and there was this poor bird, it's wings still flailing madly as it tried in vain to extracate itself from the jaws of the monster which had it in his grips.

I'm afraid this is one of Diesel's more unsavoury traits and one which he has possessed since being just a little pup. Within a couple of weeks of getting him he was chasing small birds. I used to scream at him to 'LEAVE' and he would stop momentarilly, look at the mad woman who was bellowing insanely, look at the little birds and decide it was much more fun to carry on chasing the poor little things than to give in and heel. My husband said, 'don't worry, he'll never catch one'! Huh, within the week he was proudly walking around with the first little brown bird in his mouth.

Fortunately, he has a very soft mouth and hardly ever 'closes' his jaws. He really is a gently giant. But the little birds don't know that and of course, they are petrified and more likely to die of fright than from any damage Diesel would inflict. Once shouted at, he will instantly release the poor little thing and leave me with a quivering ball of wet feathers.

Back to last Monday, and once again I shouted in my most authoratative voice for him to leave, he gently put the bird down and having seen the look on my face, flew past me and into the house. The pigeon was obviously hurt, it's wing dragging along the ground as it tried to get away from me.

I decided to leave it to calm down as it was now sitting in the flower bed in the warmth of the afternoon sun. I checked on it several times and it was still alive but had only moved a couple of yards. I had to go out later in the afternoon and left instructions for my husband to tell him not to let the dog out into the garden when he got home, but to wait 'till I got back.

When I did arrive home, it was dark. We took a torch and went all around the garden checking under the bushes and all appeared well. Mr Pigeon must have regained the use of his wing sufficiently to escape the confines of the garden. All was well!

Tuesday morning whilst in the bathroom getting ready for work I heard a commotion and my husband shouting for me to help him. Yes! Diesel had found the bird again. It must have taken refuge down the side of the house when dusk fell and had found safety amongst some bricks which are stacked up against the wall. Diesel, the little blighter, had him in his mouth again. Once again, he let him go and proudly trotted off for his morning walk leaving me to find a box and make a temporary home for the bird.

We did'nt really know what to do as both of us were about to leave for work. My husband's sister has a wild pigeon that she has nursed back to health and the bird has stayed with them. So we rang Susan and asked if she could help. Mr Pigeon was safely transported in the box and transferred to a large cage at my sister-in-laws house.

She is brilliant with all creatures, great and small. I visited today and found Mr Pigeon doing well, he's eating and drinking and his wing is not as low on the ground as it was. He seems to be able to flap it but it still has a droop. He is being kept company by Susan's pigeon which is in the cage below him. Hearing the other bird coooing has calmed him down and he appears to be doing well. There is no sign of any puncture wounds from Diesel's teeth and we are hoping that he will soon be well enough and strong enough to be released........ well away from our house I hasten to add. I just hope he isn't a 'homing' pigeon!!!

Mr Pigeon - Today in his Cage!