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]

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes (or 7 of them to be precise)

Having been away at the NEC, it's now seven days since I last made the almost 60 mile round trip to work and what a surprise I got this morning. In only seven days - Spring has Sprung (despite the fact that snow is forecast for Easter this weekend).

It was a mild morning and quite bright and as I drove along the very scenic route to work. I was taken aback by the beautiful blossoms in abundance on the trees, some pink and some white. These trees had been completely bare last week. Japonika and Forsythia bushes were in full bloom and the sunny yellow of their flowers made everywhere look stunning. I had to resist the urge to stop and take photographs - I'd never have got to work if I had.

Now, back to my adventures at the NEC:

Having got the first very successful day over with, I returned to the hotel in the evening. There were several other exhibitors staying in the same hotel and we made arrangements to all have dinner together. The company was good even if the food was just 'OK'.

Friday 14th: You could really be forgiven for thinking today was Friday the 13th not the 14th. Overnight, the hotel car park had been hit by a gang breaking into cars looking for lap tops and sat navs. Seven cars were targeted where I was staying and one of them just happened to belong to a colleague and friend also exhibiting at the show. They seem to have gone for cars that looked like they could be 'reps' cars. Mine was fine but as I walked out to it that morning I could see glass all over the ground and a car just one away from where I was parked had been broken into.

We later learned that just about every hotel car park on the NEC complex had been targeted.
Although the day had got off to a bad start for some, the show turned out to be another successful and enjoyable day. A bit of a strange day in a way as one moment the stand was completely inundated and the next the aisle was almost completely empty. It left you wondering if the hall had been evacuated and no one had told you! But then the next wave would hit and you couldn't see the stands across the way again.

Some more examples of some of stamps and techniques that I was demonstrating at the show. Sorry about the lighting on these examples, I tried using the flash but it was bouncing off the pearlescent card and the pearlescent paint on the Peacock feathers. The Peacock has been stamped on vellum and 'bowed' out from the front of the card to give it dimension. I adore the little Peacock Feather stamp around the border - it is so delicate. The background stamp in black on the card above is also on the Peacock Glory themeplate and gives such a lovely damask 'feel' when stamped repeatedly. This is a very adaptable plate of stamps and well worth having in your collection.

Saturday 15th: Such a sad day. The show got off to a great start, it was busy from the word GO at 9.30 and by 11 a.m the hall was heaving. Then tragedy struck. I'm not going to go into too much detail, you'll understand why. One of the exhibitors collapsed on his stand and a very serious medical emergency was declared. The show was temporarily closed while the paramedics gave assistance and the air ambulance was brought in but I'm very sorry to say that every ones efforts were in vain. This very sad event cast a subdued air over most of the exhibitors I spoke to that day and our thoughts and commiserations are with his wife and family.

On a happier note, everyone I spoke to who stopped by the stand appeared to be enjoying the show - many people, even late into the afternoon had not stopped for lunch in fear of missing something good and they kept walking the show.

I got a lot of enquiries about the ink pad storage system I was using. It's called an Ink Pad Craft Locker. I knew that we didn't have many left back at Graphicus and some of you have been on the phone and placed your order for this very nifty little locker since seeing mine at the show. When I got back to work this morning I checked to see how many we have and there is ONLY ONE left now. So if you were one of the people who wanted one and you haven't secured yours yet, do it now! I know that we haven't got any more on order at this moment in time.

Sunday 16th: and the final day of the show started quietly, probably due to a combination of heavy rain and the fact the it was Palm Sunday. But again, by 11 a.m. we were in full flow and it was fast and furious. I love the buzz of the show, to hear all about the exciting things people have found to buy and what you have planned for using them. I was also really delighted to see how many 'young folk' we have coming into the crafting community - and boys too. Maybe the next Tim Holtz was standing watching my demo's over the last four days - who knows?

All too soon, it was time to pack up my demo equipment and head off back up the motorway in the direction of home. I'm pleased to say that the heavy rain of the morning had passed over and the driving conditions were relatively good. My little Punto did it's 'Transformer' impersonation and turned into a Porche and I was home in next to no time. Exhausted, but at the same time wired with enthusiasm to continue creating and I have lots of plans for the next two weeks to get some 'eye candy' ready for our Open Days at Graphicus on the 04th and 05th of April.

Here's a peak of a work in progress.... this is how it looked when I put all the elements together to get started, it's looking a little different now that it's about half way to being completed. Any ideas? I'll show you when it's finished!

And last but not least, I did get back in time to see the end of the final of Dancing On Ice. Wow, what a show. I'm sorry I missed the fly wire performances but what I did see was spectacular and on a completely difference level to last weeks show. This series has been the most brilliant entertainment and has given Sunday night viewing the sparkle it has sadly lacked for many a year now. Just a pity that they can't find a show to do the same for Saturday night viewing! The great British viewing public pulled it out of the hat again and the results were spot on. Hurrah!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hobbycrafts Show, NEC

Last Wednesday (12th March) I packed up my car, said goodbye to the family and all at work and headed off down the motorway to Birmingham for four days at the Hobbycrafts Show taking place at the NEC.

As you may remember, we had some pretty atrocious weather last week and a journey that normally takes me about 2 and a half to three hours took me a gruelling 4 and a half hours. I arrived with cramp and a stinking headache but at least I arrived safely. It was a drive that really tested my driving skills to the max!

I was going to be demonstrating Elusive Images stamps and Artylicous CD Papers on Joanna Sheen's stand for the four days of the show so I went straight to the Exhibition Centre to drop off my demo equipment. The stand was all up, stocked, dressed and looking beautiful when I arrived but as it was so late, everyone had gone. So I stashed my kit and took myself off to the hotel where I promptly crashed out for the night.

Thursday (1st day) was a very busy day. I got to walk the show before it opened and most of my favourite exhibitors were there, although LB Crafts weren't this time - a shame as I really love their things and Linda is a brilliant demonstrator. It was really great seeing everyone from the show circuit again.

The show was due to open at 9.30 a.m. and at 9.25 a.m. they drew back the big entrance doors and from our position on the stand we could see everyone lined up and ready for the off when they officially opened the show. Virtually from the word 'GO', Joanna's stand was heaving - all day.

I don't know where the day went, it was so hectic that before I knew it, it was late afternoon and time for a sandwich and cuppa.

Here are some of the cards that I had such fun making whilst demonstrating. These are made from one of the new themeplates 'Flora Bella' and the Poppy is from 'Flora and Fauna'. I really love Flora Bella , they are very definitely my fave stamps at the moment and they work brilliantly with the Adirondack inking technique that I favour so much. It lends itself so beautifully to simple 'black and white' layouts too.

Or maybe........ the Peacock is my favourite? Oh soooo much choice. I'm just so lucky that I can play with them ALL!

These three envelope cards were made from the Artylicious papers and closed with interlocking hearts from the 'Damask Hearts' themeplate. The closure idea was inspired by a card made by one of our DTM's - Sandra Taylor. Nice one Sandra and thank you! The photography just doesn't do the vellum hearts on the middle card or the butterfly on the bottom one, justice. They were embossed with a truly fabulous set of embossing powders 'Sparkle and Sprinkle' that Joanna Sheen sells. I used the 'Black and White' set, the results are fabulous and the value is astonishing.

I really had fun with these embossing powders and vellum - now I just need to convince Glenda that we really do have to have them in the shop!!! The only problem is....... there's 104 different colours to choose from and they do Glitters too.
Well, I don't like admitting defeat, but Blogger is playing silly beggars tonight and it's taken me an hour and a half just to get this far. The photo's are taking an age to upload despite reducing them in size for posting to the blog. I do have some more to show you so I will continue tomorrow night providing Blogger decides to play nicely.
Before I go, I would like to say a big 'thank you' on two accounts. The first 'Thank You' goes to all of you who have left comments on my blog recently. I really do appreciate it and I love to hear from you so if you haven't left a comment yet - don't be shy, pleeeease DO. The second 'Thank You' is to all of you who came to say hello and watch the demo's at the show. I met so many bloggers, Graphicus Guild members, Sheenies and dedicated Craft Addicts - all lovely people. The time you spent watching and chatting (not to mention 'buying', I said not to mention that)! was fantastic and now I can put so many faces to the names I see attached to the comments both here, on the Graphicus Blog and Glenda's Blog.
Back again soon!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Don't Ya Just Love It?

Just got back from demonstrating at the HobbyCrafts Show at the NEC, Birmingham. I'm on a high but very tired after a long week and a long drive home. I will take some photos of some of the cards I made during the show and put them on my blog with an update - hopefully tomorrow.

But for now, I was just checking my emails with the TV on in the background when I got distracted by the most amazing ad. I have put on here for you to have a chuckle at too if you haven't seen it already....... it's so good it almost makes me want to buy a Polo.

Sorry - Video No Longer Available

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wild Weather

What a day it has been weather wise. I know that we've not had the extreme weather that the south has been experiencing, but it's been pretty wet and very windy. My brother lives in West Sussex, about 25 minutes away from Brighton and he's been telling me how bad it has been there. Now, forgive me while I have a moan but..... a few weeks ago here in the north east, we had some really extreme weather with winds gusting in excess of 80mph. It was so bad that someone I know from work had his car lifted off two wheels whilst driving in a cross wind! Then it snowed horizontally as well. Did any of this make the national news? I will say no more.

It does however, bring back very fond memories of this time two years ago. We (the Graphicus Show Team) were all up in Glasgow at the SEC for the HobbyCraft Show when it snowed overnight. Boy was that fun, it's a long time since I've seen snow that thick. It was so bad that we couldn't get the van out of the hotel car park and had to walk to the Exhibition Centre. What fun we had that weekend!

I haven't been doing too much on the home crafting scene of late. It has mainly been projects for the Graphicus Guild News Letter and a stitched ATC book for Glenda's TV show last Friday. I don't have photos at the moment as it was a rush to get the book finished in time.

I have been doing more organising in the craft room and found some nice things on a recent shopping expedition.
This lovely little distressed letter rack with drawer makes a great storage unit for tags, blank ATC's, bits and pieces etc. I'm really pleased with it. I also found this in the same shop.....

I've been back again since finding these and have bought some more, I love them and they look great dotted around the studio. Must get more room to display stuff! I'm definitely going to have to move into a bigger room.

This is a great Christmas pressy from Glenda and Adrian. Everyone at work got one and all the mugs have different sayings on them. As you can see, I'm a 'Party Animal'...... uhmm...... the less said..... but the reason I am showing you this is the tin. I love the mug but isn't the tin just crying out to be altered?

So the next time you see this, Jamie will have disappeared and there will be something entirely different in his place. I haven't decided exactly what yet, we'll just go with the flow and see what happens. I think it may have to be a touch of the good old alcohol inks. I'll let you see what happens.