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]

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ink, Stamps and Rock 'n' Roll

Earlier this week I had reason to get out some very fine detail stamps - Photo realistic stamps, for something I'm doing at work. Well, as I've been on leave this week it has given me extra time to play (or it should have).

I haven't been able to do much as I've been suffering terribly with conjunctivitis. First in the right eye and then the left. Ughhh! Total frustration. I've had the time to do things for me, to take time and enjoy what I'm doing and I can't even see to stick things down straight. OK, moan over..... the eyes are definitely (hopefully) on the mend. So yesterday and today I've been messing around with my photo realistic stamps. I didn't realise I had so many until I fished them all out.

This is what's been playing in the studio, loudly!

Something old and something new, both brilliant. It's really hard to sit still with this stuff playing!

Both of the stamps I've used in the following pieces are by Stampsmith. They have the most amazing collection of stamps.

This delightful cat stamp is called 'Princess'. I stamped in black ink and just left it at that. The detail is all going on around the focal image. I used some lovely paw-print brads and some rub-ons to accent the lay-out.

In the second piece I used one of Stampsmith's best known stamps - Ophelia. This was the very first Stampsmith image I bought and there's a bit of a story to it. I'm going back at least six years to a day when I decided to try to find a craft company that I'd seen advertised in some of the craft magazines. It was before I had a Tom Tom sat nav so I set off armed with the stores phone number and a rough idea of the general direction in which I was heading. I reckoned it would be about a fifty minute drive, possibly an hour as I didn't know where I was going.

After driving around aimlessly for well over an hour I thought I'd better pull over and ring them for specific directions. When the phone answered I got a very helpful lady called Emma who told me exactly how to find them and off I set again. This time I followed Emma's directions to the letter and fifteen minutes later I pulled into the car park and parked my car outside of Graphicus! Emma was indeed, extremely helpful. She ordered the 'Ophelia' stamp for me direct from Stampsmith in New York. This was on the Monday.... you can imagine my astonishment when on Friday of the same week, Emma rang me to say my stamp had arrived. Wow! was I impressed. And that was how I found Graphicus. It was of course in the days when they were located just outside of West Auckland village at High Etherley.

This time I stamped Ophelia in brown ink and I created a border by randomly stamping around the edge with the Christmas Rose stamp from Elusive Images. I added some gentle colour using a large stipple brush and dye inks in soft colours and used a selection of Stickles glitter glue to highlight Ophelia's hair adornments. On the next layer I chose ArtWords from the Diamond Art themeplate to overstamp the background.

Ophelia is available in several versions, from tiny to the large image I used here (Size: 3 3/4 in. wide x 4 1/2 in. high) and they also make the large Ophelia looking left.

I'm sorry about the poor lighting in the photographs, I'm really disappointed with the results. My workroom has fantastic lighting for crafting by but it's lousy for photography! If the sun shines tomorrow I'll get better shots and edit this post so that you can really see the colours. It also doesn't help when I'm jigging around to Kid Rock's - Rock N Roll Jesus!!!

Playing Catch-Up

I thought it was about time I did a little 'catch-up' with thanks and feedback from comments that some of you have very kindly left on my blog.

First of all, I'd like to say that I read and treasure every comment that you leave. I know how busy life can be and for you to take a few minutes to stop and say Hi and let me know that you've been by means a lot to me, thank you. I know some people don't like to leave comments but please, if you're one of those people and you think that in some way you're intruding - you're definitely not! I'd love to hear from you. I see lots of visitors to the blog from both near and far away places and wonder who you are.... let me know.... I'm fascinated and honoured that you visited.

Going back in the blog to the Concertina Keepsake that was made for one of the TV shows, several people left comments and emailed me asking if I would do a step-by-step on the blog? I would love to and will eventually, but I'm teaching this project together with an Origami Box to house the Keepsake in at Graphicus in November.

Lisa Bruno, a very welcome visitor from the USA contacted me via the blog. I have sent several emails to you at the email address you gave me but I don't think you're getting them Lisa. The first couple I sent bounced back so I re-sent them and I haven't heard anything since then. If you didn't receive my mail would you email me again (you'll find an email link if you go to my profile page) and I'll try using your message to reply.

And finally....

I'm honoured and delighted to have been given not ONE but TWO awards from fellow bloggers and crafters Phree at Ink Stain Survivor and Craftymamma at Craftymamma Love n Hugs. Thank you so much to both of you for thinking of me. I am going to have to give some thought to who I will pass it on to as there are so many wonderful people out there who deserve to be recognised. I will be back with my nominations.

Check out Phree's blog here, there's lots of lovely inspiration:

and then go take a look at Craftymamma's blog for even more inspiration:

Both ladies have beautiful artwork featured on their blogs together with some fab photography giving great suggestions for very interesting days out - particularly useful if you're a scrapper looking for great photo opportunities! I'm a regular visitor to both blogs and love what they do. If you're an Elusive Images fan - you will too!

Thank you both.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Autumn Equinox and New Beginnings

Ok, so I know that it was the Autumn Equinox at the beginning of this week but what happened to Summer? We had a reasonably nice weekend, in fact on Saturday I hopped in my car and shot off down to Harrogate for a couple of hours to the Great Northern Papercraft Extravaganza. The weather was really beautiful with a fab drive in both directions. Sunday wasn't too bad either. Then came the 23rd and in came Autumn and I've been frozen ever since.

In fact, on Monday I was working away in my little studio and kept seeing something fluttering past the window, so after a couple of times of being distracted by this 'something' I sat back and watched and yes...... the leaves were gently fluttering from the large oak tree in the back garden. It wasn't the wind as it was almost still and the leaves were still falling. I wouldn't mind too much if we'd had a summer but we really haven't this year and it's turned so cold, I've been muffled up in a fleece much of this week.

Then, to add insult to injury, I get this sent to me........

That's my 'baby' brother! and the photo was only taken on Sunday the 22nd of September. Clive is a Captain with an International Airline and just a few weeks ago he re-based to East Africa. He has been lording it up in a 5 star hotel since then while he underwent his Sim checks and looked around at houses. Now he's having to do some work and his first flight since his move (on a real aeroplane - not a simulator) is today. Actually, as I am writing this he is winging his way towards London Heathrow where he is due to touch down about 2000 hours this evening. I don't tell him half as much as I should.... and if you do drop by the blog and read this Clive - I'm really proud of you.

He's been trotting around the globe for a lot of years, first in the RAF and then with several large commercial airlines, and he's normally home every week or so for his days off. But this posting will take him away for longer periods of time. Thank God for the Internet and Instant Messenger and web cams but even that can be frustrating. I don't think Broadband has reached East Africa yet.... you wouldn't think so by the length of time it takes for him to load a web page.

Just before he left the UK I set up a blog for him. Now it's normally the other way around and he is usually the one giving me advise and sorting out PC snags when he's up in this neck of the woods. But he was so busy in the weeks before his re-base that it saved him time by me doing the set-up for him. I thought it would be a great way of the family and friends being able to keep track of him and share in the places he visits and if he gets a few visitors to the blog along the way then it will all add to the interest. So if you'd like to check out his wanderings you can ride along with him here. There's not a lot to see so far, he tells me he's been really busy! Yeh Yeh! But he's posted an essay about his childhood and his longing to fly for a living.

Reading it was really quite strange, seeing someone elses view of our early years. I howled at his account of riding his bicycle through a rather posh restaurant in Mombasa and his memories of being bullied at school back home in the UK brought tears to my eyes. After all, I'm his big sister and I would have loved to have given them a taste of their own medicine.... if only I had known.

It was his recollection of us setting up our own aircraft cabin using the dining room chairs and playing airlines that really brought memories flooding back. Gosh, what a great time we used to have. With Clive playing the Captain and me wearing my little forage cap and white gloves (just like air hostesses used to in the early 60's when it was very much a debutantes job) and I would put on my best BBC presenters voice to announce ' would all passengers travelling on BOAC flight 90 to Beirut via Anchorage and the Azores (yes I know, strange routing but it sounded so exciting) go immediately to gate 2 where your flight is waiting to depart' . Who would ever have known that within 10 years I would be doing it for real and 6 years later, so would he! I told my parents that I was going to be an 'Air Hostess' when I was just 6 years old and I was accepted at a cabin crew interview just a few weeks before my 18th birthday. Oh happy days!

I will put a link to his blog on mine in the side bar and if you do stop by, please leave him a comment - he'll be so pleased to know you've visited!

Well, I've had a lovely time reliving some of my childhood days but it's time to get back to NOW!

I've been working on a lot of Design Team things that I can't share just at the moment.... I will as soon as I can. Some of what I've been doing is for the Graphicus Guild to be featured both this month and next month. Coming up very very soon in this months Guild newsletter is my Christmas planner using the Bind-It-All.

A sneaky peak. There's a step-by-step on how to make the planner/organiser and you get to see inside too!

This sample has been made using a photo-realistic stamp, I love working with them and own lots of them by companies such as Stampsmith, Oxford Impressions and Magenta to name just a few.
They are really quite different and you can achieve quite a dramatic result with them.

I may be back later with more pics of some other things, my camera battery is completely flat and it's taking forever to charge up.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Hope You Have a Simply 'Awesome' Day!

Just a quick post this morning as it's my day off but it's already packed with things I must do.

This time last year we (Glenda, Adrian and I) were in Las Vegas to attend the Memory Trends trade show. We started our journey on the 12th of September when we travelled to Manchester to night stop before an early start on the 13th, flying with my old employer BMI, direct to Las Vegas.
The point of all this? Well, a certain someone has a birthday this week and it reminded me of how we celebrated it last year. On the day of Adrian's birthday, I woke at about 4 a.m. (still not acclimatised to the time difference) dressed and went down to the Casino floor where there were several shops - all open at this ridiculous time in the morning! The Casino was still busy and you really couldn't tell if it was day or night.

I bought, YES I said 'BOUGHT' a couple of Birthday cards (having travelled light with the very minimum of craft stuff as I knew I'd be taking a whole lot more back with me, I didn't have what I needed to be able to hand make the cards). Back to my room to write out the cards, one from everyone back at Graphicus and Elusive Images and the other from me. Tiptoe down the corridor to push the envelopes under the door to Glenda and Adrian's room and then back to bed for a couple of hours.

When we met for a lovely leisurely breakfast Glenda presented Adrian with a chocolate doughnut complete with candle.

It has brought back such lovely memories so much so, that I spent most of yesterday organising and editing the hundreds of photos I took in Vegas. When I came across the ones taken on 'the day', I thought what a great idea to do a scrappin layout in honour of Adrian's Birthday. I can't say exactly which day it falls on (Yes, I do know - but with all the problems of ID theft etc, it would be silly of me to post it all over the Internet wouldn't it)? so I shall simply say........
"A very Happy Birthday Adrian!" I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did last year and that you manage to do something you want to do and would 'like' to do this time! (Glenda and I dragged Adrian around sooo many Craft Shops and Scrapping Stores, I'm sure it wasn't Adrian's idea of heaven even though it was ours).

This has really got me into the Scrapping mood and I think the time might be right for a Vegas album to record our adventures.... so look out, 'it's all coming back to me now'! Awesome. Didn't someone sing that line? I think she may even have had a show running in Vegas at the time.

Just a few bits and bobs that I've been playing around with. On this tag I coloured up the tag with Ranger's Distress Inks applied with Cut 'n' Dry foam, stamped the small script down the left hand side with Walnut Distress ink and stamped the emblem using the white Paint Dabber and then clear embossed it. I took a piece of pre-printed paper and stamped the lady with Walnut distress ink and attached it to a piece of Memory Glass using Glossy Accents. The glass was encased with Copper Memory Foil and adhered to the tag with clear silicone. All of the ingredients are from Graphicus and Stamps by Elusive Images.

This little piece was created by spraying the background with a concoction of Ditress Ink Refills, water and Perfect Pearls all mixed up in a Mini Mister. Inky and Fun!

Monday, September 08, 2008

It's Been A Fun Time........

I've been absent from my blog for a week or two, mainly due to the work load at the moment. It's been incredibly busy at work since our buying trip. We bought such a lot of product and it all had to be sorted, priced and merchandised for the two open days that we had planned (05th and 06th September).

In amongst getting the August Graphicus Guild newsletter published and starting the articles for the September issue which we are trying to bring forward, Glenda thought it would be a really good idea to pull the shop apart. In hindsight, it was! But none of us thought so when we walked in at the beginning of last week, just a few days away from a major event and saw what looked like WWIII had started and ended in the shop. Wish I'd taken a photo of it from my office.... you wouldn't ever have believed the mess.

Anyway, everyone mucked in and worked really hard and put together the most incredible results. I did plan on taking photos of the shop before the event started on Friday but things overtook us and I never got the opportunity to get the camera out. I will get some photos this week and put them on the blog for anyone who didn't manage to make it to the event last Friday and Saturday.

Guess what arrived in the post at work on Saturday morning just before the second day of the event kicked off? This........

Yes, that's my Stampbord Mirror on the front cover and there's an article inside too. The article features an array of information and techniques by Glenda and my Stampbord Mirror Project.

I must say a huge thank you to Glenda for submitting this...... she is always telling me that I should submit my work to a magazine. So a big thank you Glenda! I am delighted that it got into the mag - I'm ecstatic that it made the front cover.

The Craft Stamper Magazine is full of wonderful work by some amazing designers including our wonderful Helen Chilton (stamp designer and card maker extraordinaire). I love the new format that the magazine has adopted since all the changes have been made and very much admire the
work of all the designers including Katy Fox, the editor. If you are one of the many people who stopped buying the magazine some time ago, please do give it another try! I think you will be very surprised at how good it now is. I read it cover to cover... there's some real cool stuff in there!

Back to the open days: despite appalling weather the event was well attended. It never ceases to amaze me how far people travel in such dreadful conditions to join us at our event days. Thank you to every one who made the effort and battled through the horrid weather to be with us, it was a brill two days, we met some wonderful people - some old friends and lots of new ones!

Glenda, Annette, Lesley and I were all demonstrating and we were supported by Judith, Carrie, Denise, Vickie, Kath and Jess who did a sterling job of keeping the shop shelves stocked (now that's a tongue twister), answering questions and locating goodies for the customers. Judith, who is our Guild Administrator was kept really busy by all you new members who joined at the weekend and were eager to get your hands on the latest Graphicus Guild Newsletter and Welcome Pack! And, last but not least - David (Lesley's husband) better known as 'Chef' who once again did a fantastic job of turning into Gordon Ramsey (without attitude) to produce some fab cuisine that kept us all going throughout the two days. I must say a big thank you too to Adrian who fixed my demo chair after the foot went missing from one of the legs.... oooo painful!

Debi, accompanied by her husband and lovely friend visited on Saturday. A fellow blogger and avid crafter (and shopper) drove quite a distance to be with us and brought some wonderful samples of her work for us to see. Both Glenda and I had seen photos of Debi's cards on her blog and when we found out she intended coming to the event, we asked her to bring the cards for us to 'stroke'. They were even more beautiful in real life and I was stunned when Debi gave me this card. I love it! I think it should have been the other way around though as it was Debi's birthday on Saturday..... I didn't know until just as she was leaving. So a very Happy (belated) Birthday Debi and thank you for spending it with us.

After we finished on Saturday evening I packed up all my demo equipment intent on carrying on with some projects at home on Sunday/Monday. Well, my knees had other ideas. I don't want to dwell on this subject too much (they occupy enough of my time). After a much misspent youth where years of ice skating/ice dancing, Latin American dancing and walking my way around the world for twenty five years whilst working for an airline just about destroyed all of the cartilage in my knee joints, I am now in severe pain most of the time. I am lucky that some times it's the right knee that is worse and others the left knee but this weekend it's been both of them together and the copious amounts of medication I have to take just hasn't had any effect at all. I'm waiting for the results of x-rays I had taken last Monday to find out what can be done. Anyway, it put pay to the plans I had to do more in my work room and to the shopping I had planned for today!

I have managed to do some work on an album whilst sitting on the sofa today. A few months back, Glenda and I attended a couple of workshops with Lance Anderson - Mr Rusty Pickle, when he was over here from the USA. I didn't manage to finish the album at the workshop and have been putting the finishing touches to the pages before adding photos and journalling.

The afternoon session was called the "Rustic Journey" workshop. We made an Altered Tag Accordion Envelope Album using Rusty Pickle papers and ephemera. Each of the envelopes contains a double sided tag - some of them are interactive.

This tag opens to reveal about 6 pages of plain paper for pictures and journalling. How cool is that?

Another little journalling 'tag' book I added to the page tag myself. There are more tags that I haven't included here.... too many for one post!

There is also a file folder tucked into the middle of the concertina album which houses another tag that pulls out sideways.

And finally, this is a find from a lovely shop in Barnard Castle that Glenda introduced me to. They have soooooo many fabulous things from small ornaments, lamps, jewellery and cushions right up to full sized pieces of furniture. It's one of those shops that you go into and spend ages browsing through the entire contents but still don't manage to take everything in. I saw this and thought that it would make a great home for my small albums! It is quite opulent and has a wonderful ornate catch. One thing's for certain...... I will definitely be going back there to visit again!