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, October 08, 2011

And the Halloween Lables Go To:

Just a quickie this morning as there's lots on the agenda for today......

Last night I used the Random Number Generator to select a comment left on the Halloween Giveaway post to determine who will get the selection of Halloween Labels, Tag and some other bits and bobs. The number that came up was 1 and the first comment was left by Judith.

Well done Judith, there will be a package on its way to you on Monday!

Thank you to everyone else who left comments, it's lovely to hear from you and very much appreciated, as always.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tim Holtz Tags and a Halloween Giveaway

Well, the photoshop course I mentioned in my last post is underway and suddenly things that have eluded me finally appear so logical, I guess you could say 'the penny has dropped'. I'm sure that I'll find something else to stumble upon, but for now everything seems to be working and making sense.

I'm enjoying learning something new and being creative and not only with photographs but also in the studio where I've been playing with some new Tim Holtz stamps (new to my collection that is). I couldn't resist his Haunted Mansion set for Halloween art  and last night I made this:

There are so many wonderful little things in the shops at the moment (specially for Halloween) that can be adapted for use in your artwork. A visit to the Pound shop got me these interlocking skeleton hands that I've attached to the bottom of the tag and the black spider is from a bag of spiders that's so big I'll never use them all. It's such good fun finding stuff to craft with from places you don't expect to find such things.

I've predominantly used Tim Holtz stamps and the Butterfly/Moth combo is from Paper Artsy. I utilised a wooden stirrer (courtesy of Costa Coffee) painted with a black Ranger Paint Dabber as a baton to attach the tag and and chain hanger. 

The 'Embalming Juice' background is actually a self adhesive bottle sticker I found in another store. The packet contains eight different bottle stickers and there's one with 'Ye Olde Spider Venom 1896' which I think is my favourite. I've inked and stamped over the top to blend it in. I made the tag to fit the width of the sticker as they are just too nice to start cropping bits off!

Finally, I added little gems to the eyes of the Skeleton, Owl and Spider, a red heart gem to the skeleton's rib cage and another little gem to the 'boney hands'.

Keep your eyes open for other fabulous finds while you're out and about shopping. I've found all sorts of things this year that will be making an appearance in the things I make.

Another stamp set that I've been hankering after for a while is Haberdashery. With my love of sewing and fabrics I know I'll make really good use of this one. And here's my first tag made with the set:

The final tag is made from a compilation of stamps and features images from Crafty Individuals and Inkylicious. Again, I've used the wooden baton to attach a chain hanger.

And finally, when I bought the bottle stickers I couldn't just buy one packet could I? I mean, I have to have one to use and one to cherish as we do. Now, there weren't many of these in the shop and it's the first time I've ever come across them so I bought an extra packet! I'm going to give the extra packet away together with some of the creepy spiders and the Halloween Tag  to someone who leaves a comment on this post before 1800 hours BST on Thursday 06th of October. The draw will be carried out randomly and I'll post the name of the winner on my blog after the draw has taken place.

So if you're into Halloween and would like these things you know what you have to do, good luck to all.

Happy Crafting.......

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Playing with Photoshop Elements

Just a very quick post this evening as I've spent the last few hours playing around with photographs and Photoshop Elements, just brushing up on resizing, adding text, digital brushes, frames and a couple of other things I wanted to get to grips with. It took me a while to figure out how create a frame around the edge of my photograph but perseverance payed off, I even managed to alter the opacity. I quite surprised myself with how much I've remembered, specially as I haven't done much in PSE over the past year.

Why am I playing with Photoshop? Well, I thought I'd better re-acquaint myself with the basics as I've signed up for a Photoshop course which starts this weekend. The lovely Carrie Anne sent me the details and I couldn't resist. And talking of Carrie, she has some really fantastic downloads that she's giving away entirely FREE on her blog! All you have to do is to sign up to her Newsletter and she'll send you the downloads. They are brilliant to use in your artwork and they are all authentic images from Carrie's personal collection of ephemera.

This is a little album I made some time ago using a Tim Holtz Sizzix dye to make the covers and pages. I was really pleased with how it turned out and I embellished the front with Prima flowers, stamps, adhesive gems and punched-out butterflies. Now all I have to do is fill it up.... with something!

I've been creating some new tags over the last week, I just have to get some photographs taken and then I'll show you what I've been playing with. If the sun shines tomorrow I'll get the camera out!

Enjoy the weekend...... Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pfaffing About with Friends!

I have been considering buying a new sewing machine for some time now and was horrified at the prices when I first started looking around. My last machine which is still going strong was a considered purchase sometime between fifteen and twenty years ago. It has never let me down and is a double ended machine with great heavy duty sewing at one end and an over locker that trims away excess fabric at the other end. Apart from a regular service and the odd tension quandary it remains an absolute work horse and I wouldn't swap it for anything. But my artwork has been taking me in very different directions of late and I now want a machine that is compatible with my computer so that I can design and convert  my artistic ideas into a computerised embroidery design and the machine, once set away, will do it.

So I've been trekking around the countryside looking at all manner and makes of machines and finally I managed to narrow it down to two a few weeks ago but couldn't make up my mind which of the two to take the plunge with. Both excellent machines and both within the same price range, can you believe you can almost buy a small car for what some of these machines cost?

In the end I dragged my DH with me for a final look at the very first one I had earmarked and with a sharp intake of breath I ordered one of these:
I decided on the Pfaff for two reasons, as well as being a tremendous computerised embroidery machine it is renowned for its first class sewing capabilities and IDT (Integrated Duel Transportation or Walking Foot technology) which will handle the finest through to the bulkiest of fabrics perfectly.

I don't know how many of you reading this dip in and out of Create and Craft TV these days but sewing seems to be making such a huge come back, whenever I flick over to see what they're up too there seems to be another sewing machine under review. It is lovely to see the craft growing in popularity again (along with knitting) and I'm sure that C&C TV will help in its growth but I was horrified when I first started looking for a new machine to find how few Sewing Machine Shops have survived. I wanted to give my business to a 'shop' and not purchase on-line  as I know how important it is to support our bricks and mortar stores. Use them or loose them is the old adage and it is so true! I still had to wait for the machine to be delivered to the shop, that's the other thing I found.... they don't seem to keep stocks in store but considering the price I can understand that. I just had to control my urge to get stuck in and start creating until I got the call to say it had arrived in stock.

I am one very happy bunny now that I have my new best friend and I'm working my way through all of it's features, feet and computerised technology. It came with a trolley bag for transporting it around (I've been given a fantastic opportunity to teach with it so its important that I can get it from A to B relatively easily and safely) and they threw in the thread exchanger and some other things too.... I love a good haggle.

Here we are all set up and ready to make a start, can you believe it takes up almost the full length of this table.... now I really will have to move my upstairs studio into a much larger room or I won't have space to put up the Christmas tree up in the lounge when the time comes.

This is a selection of just some of the pre-set stitches it can do, it was the very first thing I stitched. I don't have any photos of the embroidery designs..... yet! What is really cool is that I can use any True Font to write a phrase, name, place name, or whatever else takes my fancy, on my PC and connect to the machine, press the button and it will stitch it for me. How cool is that? I am amazed at how much sewing machines have advanced since I bought my last one.

Now, talking of 'Friends'............ those of you who know me through visiting Graphicus when they were in business, will probably also know Judith who used to be our Office Manager. In addition to her clerical roll in the company Judith was also a brilliant Polymer Clay and Jewellery artist and she often taught classes in both subjects and demonstrated her craft at open days. Well, I am delighted to tell you that Judith has started her own business called Weddings of Clay. She fashions the most incredible, unique cake and keepsake toppers made from Polymer Clay and will work to a brief to capture every conceivable detail possible to make the piece totally unique to the recipient. Although Weddings are her forte she also does fabulous figurines for just about every other occasion known to man (woman and child too). Please take a couple of minutes to visit her website and leave her a comment to let her know you've been and please, please, please - pass the word if you know of anyone who is looking for something extraordinary for a special individual, or occasion.

Can you spot my very special little someone in the above photo? No? Let's look a little closer.....

Here's my Journalling Bear that Judith created for my birthday earlier in the year. His name is Jasper and he lives on my desk and he reminds me to drag out my journals and create whenever I look at him. He's sooooooo cute!

While I'm on the subject of friends, if you know Judith you will almost certainly know Denise (she was our Book Keeper and manned the tills at open days)..... and she got MARRIED today Hurrah, well yesterday or Tuesday to be precise (I've just realised its the early hours of Wednesday now). We knew it was on the cards but we didn't know exactly when it would happen. I got a text from her just after they'd tied the knot. The reason I'm mentioning this other than to keep you up to date with everyone, is in relation to Judith's new business. You see, Judith has also made Denise and John's wedding cake topper. Take a look at the Wedding Gallery and see if you can work out which one is theirs (a little clue.... they have a cute cat and both Denise and John have motorbikes)!

Seeing as I've mentioned my journalling, I will leave you with a couple of pages from one of my journals (above) and a page from my sketch book (below).

Until next time....... Happy Crafting to you all!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tags and Stamps

As you know from previous posts, most of my time over the last few months has been devoted to looking after Diesel while his broken leg healed and although he was only in plaster and then bandages for about eight weeks following his operation I have had to have eyes in the back of my head to keep him out of mischief and prevent any further damage. Then the rehab, getting him out and about walking to build up the muscles and strengthen the tendons and the occasional swim to build stamina (I wasn't aware that needed building - he never stops). All in all it hasn't allowed for any concentrated bouts of crafting so I've been dabbling here and there.

When the weather has been nice enough for him to be outside in the garden I've taken my lap top out and worked from the patio table planning and designing new and exciting things and keeping my eyes on him at the same time.

Now that Diesel can be left more to his own devices again it's freed me up to do more of what I want to do when I want to do it and I have been creating in many different ways, with fabrics featuring heavily in my pieces but I'll share more of that in the future.

What I have enjoyed has been going back and revisiting my huge collection of beautiful wood mounted art stamps that I have been collecting since 1981. When I first found rubber stamping I was in Tampa, Florida and I started to bring stamps and stamping supplies home with me after every visit to the USA, believing that my new found passion might last a few years at the most before I found something else to replace it with. How wrong can you be?

We now have access to all sorts of rubber, acrylic, clear and foam stamps in the UK but I still love the feel of a quality wood mounted rubber stamp and those stamps that I bought thirty years ago are still as good today as they were the day I got them. So, I thought today I would show you a few art tags that feature some of my 'old' faithfuls. I've mixed them up with newer acrylic stamps, images from paper napkins and hand drawn border lines.

The main image here is by Acey Deucy, it's called 'Sweetbriar' and this is one of my all time favourites. I've layered a small tag onto a large tag and used the background stamp by Anna Griffin to unify the two tags.The hi-lighting on the face has been created by working on a white tag and leaving an area un-inked where I've stamped Sweetbriar's face, it gives quite an ethereal feel to the focal point.

A mix of acrylic and unmounted rubber stamps here featuring Classic Icons by TPC Studio, 7 Gypsies and Lost Coast's Chess Pieces stamped over torn musical score which has been aged with Ranger's Distress Inks. I've used a white gel pen to edge the tag and add some hi-lights. The butterfly is from a paper napkin.

The same Anna Griffin image as used in the first tag has been stamped in a very pale ink to create the background then over stamped with a sweet collection of floral and dotty wood mounted stamps from Elusive Images. The main image is called 'The Calligraphy Robe' by Stampington and I've added a butterfly and flower stem taken from a paper napkin applied with DecoPatch Glue/Varnish which you can now find at branches of HobbyCraft. Check out DecoPatch's tissue papers, they are Divine!

On this tag I started by stamping the background with a clear Prima alphabet collage stamp then added torn and aged musical score down one side. Lost Coast's 'Chess Piece' and 7 Gypsies 'Travel' clear stamps simply stamped with Archival Black ink. Finally, the face of the chess piece has been covered with Glossy Accents and some more paper napkin butterflies added.

The final tag has been completely covered with a musical score then aged with Distress inks. Sweetbriar, the chequered floor by Lost Coast and a little swirl have been stamped over the top and the tag is completed with a butterfly cut from a napkin and a white gel pen border.

I finished all of the tags by attaching a metal eyelet to the reinforcement hole and linked them all together with a silver book ring.

Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Diesel's Dog Days

Hello to all my Mum's bloggy friends.... Diesel here! I've been watching my Mum while she works on her lap top and I recon I can hack this blogging thing she does (occasionally). I'm very intelligent being a German Shepherd, my breed is consistently in the top three breeds of dog for intelligence you know so doing a bit of blogging should be a breeze. Ahhummm, let's get started before I get booted off of here so she can go surfing... I don't get that, she doesn't go to the beach to do it more's the pity, I love going to the beach.

I wanted to say a huge thank you to all of you who sent me good wishes and enquired about me when I broke my leg, you are all so lovely I'd like to send you a big lick in return.
It's been a long haul for me and my Mum, she's had to keep a very close eye on me and restrict my movements for ten weeks. That's not an easy thing to do because I love to run around and play and protect my family from people passing the house, especially those who have dogs with them... I don't like strange dogs on or near my property. I don't mind the nice little Staffy who lives next door, I never bark at her and occasionally I get to play with one of her toys if it comes over the fence.

Anyway, I digress.... while I had the pot on my leg I got sick with something else and my nose went all dry and crusty, then my lips began to go flakey and peel off and I was finding it hard to breath at night so Mum took me back to see Uncle Derrick (my nice vet who calls me some very funny names) and he told Mum that I have a nasty thing called PEMPHIGUS FOLIACEUS,
not nice at all. Apparently my anti bodies are fighting each other. It is a known immune condition in German Shepherds and anywhere the outer skin joins the inner skin is prone to attack so the eyes, ears, lips, nose, groin and nail beds can be affected. But I got some steroid tablets to take and hopefully it will get it under control and I won't have to stand still while Mum plasters the greasy stuff she calls Vaseline all over my nose.
My pot is off now and I have to have lots and lots of short walks (yipee) and I can go further and further as we progress. I'm allowed off my lead in the garden but not when we go in the big field as I might get a bit too over enthusiastic again as I love to chase the balls and run really fast and jump up really high to catch them. I can go swimming at the therapy pool too so things are getting much better and I don't have to go back to the vet's until August which is a shame really as they all know me so well now and make a big fuss of me. Even Uncle Derrick who calls me 'Whally' says I'm a nice 'Whally' and I never growl at him.... ever!

So that's where I'm at at the moment. I'm not liking all this wet weather we're getting here in the North East as I love to be out in the garden playing and chasing the birds and other critters who try to share my garden but at least while it's wet I can play on this lap top thingy. 
I shall say goodbye now and maybe I'll be able to come back again and let you know what I've been up to if Mum doesn't get angry with me for getting mud all over the little black buttons! I'm going to go and stare at her now until she gets the message that it's time to go walkies in the field.

Bye Bye to all my Bloggy Friends.... until the next time.

Love, hugs and licks......
Diesel x

Monday, April 04, 2011

Take a Break!

Yes, I am speaking literally on both counts as you will see if you stick with me and read on..........

First of all, I have taken quite a break from blogging as a result of several major occurrences that have been very much controlling my life over the last few months but the most recent event, in a perverse sort of way, has initiated my return to the blogasphere today.

I haven't been doing too much crafting either, at least not in the way I used to. I've been concentrating very much on art journalling, drawing, painting and designing, returning very much to the disciplines I used to love so much following my years studying Art and I'm loving it. You'll have to hold on for a little while to see some of the things I've been doing, there's a brand new collaborative blog on the horizon and when we're ready to share I'll put a link to it in the sidebar on here.

So, what has forced my hand and got me back here now you may ask?

Well it's the second of the breaks I mentioned........................ as you can see here:

Our poor 'little' man is in the wars. Yep, Diesel has broken his leg and it has to be a complicated fracture of course.

I underwent surgery at the beginning of March and was ready to start with some gentle exercise to begin building up my stamina  again and with the improvement in the weather over the last couple of few weeks what better way than to get out and about walking with Diesel. We've been taking it gently and last Tuesday it was so lovely and warm that we deviated from our walking routine and went for a romp in the field behind our house.

Diesel will do anything for a ball, he likes the type attached to a short rope as they can be thrown further and he gets a really good fast run. We take two and I throw one which he retrieves and as he returns it to me I throw the next one in another direction, he drops the first one as he goes  past me and chases the second one and so it goes on. To cut a long story short, he'd had a good run and I decided just a couple more throws then I'd put him back on his lead and we'd return home. He was still booling along at a rapid rate of knots when he sighted where the next ball had landed and without dropping any speed he turned and grabbed for the ball, his left front leg went down under him in the turn and the rest of his weight followed and he yelled out but he picked himself up together with the ball and came limping back. I checked him over, couldn't feel anything too obvious so we slowly walked home.

He rested but it was clear that things weren't improving, his limp was more pronounced and the leg was very swollen so I rang his vet and made an appointment to go in that evening. They checked him over and gave him some anti-inflammatory tablets and pain killers.... exactly the same pain killers that I take for my knee. We were told that he was to have nothing to eat after 8pm and we were to take him back at 8.30 Wednesday morning for a general anaesthetic and a full set of X-rays.

We went to collect him Wednesday evening and Rob discussed the results of the films with us, it clearly showed a complicated fracture just where the long bone attaches to what we'd call the wrist joint. Apparently, this type of break is hardly ever seen in pet dogs and occurs more in racing dogs.... well, what a surprise! Diesel's leg was in a pot with a lovely pale purple dressing with blue spots, very fetching. The prognosis: they will repeat the anaesthetic and X-rays in five days time and if there's an improvement and the bones are growing together they will re-pot it and let it heal. If there's no improvement or the bones have got further apart then it will mean an operation to pin the joint together and we were told to prepare ourselves as in most cases this type of fracture requires surgery.

We also had a little plastic boot to put over the pot to protect it from moisture as the nice weather had now turned showery. You can see his other leg has a small shaved area where they inserted the drip to keep his organs supported during the anaesthetic, recommended for dogs over the age of eight. We left with strict instructions that he was to be kept quiet and have restricted movement until his return the following Monday (today).

Keeping Diesel quiet and still is a total impossibility and I stand more of a chance of winning the Euro Lottery than I ever do of restricting his movement. I slept downstairs with him in case he needed help in the night. Every time he tried to lay down the cast got in the way and he got stuck but eventually he settled. I heard my husbands alarm clock go off at 0545 in the morning and before I could make a grab for Diesel, to my horror, he was off up the stairs to get him up!

So lesson learned, we blocked the stairs with a fold up table so he couldn't do it again and Thursday night I stayed down with him just to be on the safe side. The alarm goes off on Friday morning and what does he do? Yep.... he jumped the table complete with pot, landed half way up the stairs and was off again. Result.... one broken pot right where the fracture is! Back we went to the vets.

He went in again today as planned and the news isn't good I'm afraid. There's no improvement (why am I not surprised?) So he will be going in for an operation on Wednesday to have the fracture pinned. He won't have to have another pot, it will be well bandaged and supported for approximately four weeks and all in all, recuperation will be ten weeks during which time he is to be kept quiet and have restricted movement.... arghhhhhhhh can you hear me screaming? Funny moment from today: Rob tells us Diesel is the only dog they've known to not only break the pot but to completely snap the strong plastic cradle that they use as a splint inside the bandages.... that's my Boy!

He was still feeling sleepy when we got home so after he'd been fed he laid down and had a snooze (thank goodness). The nurses decided on a nice turquoise pot with blue stars this time. They were going to put a white one on with pink hearts! 

You can see how bleary eyed he is here and he's still trying to fight it. This lad never gives in!

"If only I can keep my eyes open I might be able to get her to play ball"

There, I'm awake Mum let's play..... pleeease!

I'll keep you up to date with how he gets on this week and I'll have some arty things to share next time too.