Getting back to arty pursuits….slowly

Well, son is safely back in LA (or as safe as one CAN be in LA) and much of the trauma and turmoil of recent months has settled down a bit.  We have a decision on DDs further education from the SEN panel and it is good news from almost all aspects, my health is as good as it has been since the onset of the NAM, my meds are reasonably well figured out, and I have found the time and energy to be creative.  We have made progress on the house and the garden and at least for today, the sun is shining – no mean feat for June in England!

I thought I would share the pages as a result of the Permission to Play class by Carolyn Dube.  I felt so out of practice, my mojo well and truly gone walkabout, that I thought a structured class that stressed no rules, just play, would be a great way to stay focused.  And I feel like that DID happen.  I made the ATCs last week, while beginning on the cardboard pages of the journal for the class.  But then life intervened and they sat, bare and unloved, waiting for me to be ready.  This morning, while DH and DD were off ice skating, I started Breakfast at Tiffany’s  on Audible and by the end of its 3-hour run time I was pretty much done with the pages and the lessons up to the binding.

The covers are bits of a beer carrier box, I think.  I’ve had them squirreled away for a few years, awaiting a project.  I like the hand-hold holes!  The left page in the photo above is a total OOPS, or Outstanding Opportunity Presenting Suddenly, as CD calls a big mess! I have been feeling like my desk is smaller than it used to be and I finally figured out that it is, and why – I lost the HUGE WIDE window ledge in the old house, that extended my desk widthwise, and as I don’t have my computer desk, my working space and the side desk all in a row, I am working on a MUCH smaller area!  That causes overlap

The reverse of one of the pages sat on top of my paint palette and picked up a lot of colour, in shade that couldn’t help but make mud.  With some spray ink and some white paint thru a stencil it ended up being OK, but def. one for the back of the journal LOL!

Other pages:

The only one that I managed to identify something in the Spark is the middle one above, with what I see as a very dejected fellow leaning against a wall.  There is also one Spark page that is still bare.

Overall I am pretty happy with the pages as a base for more stuff.  I feel a need to let it all fester in my brain for a bit before moving on.  I am also inclined to consider another binding method than the ribbon – I’ve never been a fan of ribbon binding and while it does seem like the best option from a practical for a class standpoint, I just feel I will end up being less happy with it.  I’m hoping the festering will either present me with another suitable option or the time will let me come to grips with it!

On a side note, while watching the class I was tickled pink to catch a glimpse of something on her shelf:

I thought Hey! I recognize that! and indeed it was a little thing I sent her 5 years or so ago. I surely intended to cut apart EVERYDAY to make EVERY DAY and didn’t.  DOH! So me.  And so nice of her to display it despite the error.  Oops.

I have another project on the go, unrelated to art, that I will also share, but not today!


Experimental printables

I was playing around with this but never 100% happy with the results.  Still not 100% happy but maybe at least in the 90% area, so I’m going  to add them and keep sorting my stash. The PDF download is here, just a single page.


It was a collision of a couple of things I liked individually – one set of textures from Lost and Taken and a “font” called Futuracha from Behance.  The font isn’t a standard font, in that you don’t just type the letters and see them, the characters are available as an EPS file.  What THAT means is each element of the font is able to be altered.  So if you look at the .eps file on the left you can see all the defined elements that make up each individual letter – and on the right what each letter looks like if you group the elements.


I’ve always liked text that borders on unreadable LOL!  I suspect not many will agree, but I made them, I enjoyed the process, even if it was a bit challenging to my limited skills, so I’m adding them.  Off to skating with DD, then to the grocery store and then back to cleaning, sorting, organizing.   I do have to add that all my hard work has already paid off.  An old class taught at a weekend crop 10 years ago came up casually and not only did I recall I had the class handout, I knew exactly where it was.

There is the cover, the date info and the canvas I made from the class.  I don’t dare allow myself to feel even slightly smug, but I am pleased. Makes it all feel worthwhile….


Cardmaking fun

I am EXHAUSTED.  The Card Marathon was lots of fun but my word you have to hustle.  The hall was quite nice, and the basket set-up, where all you needed (except for your tool-kit items) was a good one.  Having said that a lot of people ended up missing stuff thru the day when the previous user forgot to put everything back in the basket (I, myself, had to go hunting to find me follow-up person to deliver a small Memento ink pad – oh, the shame of it!) and occasionally the colours didn’t quite match the sample, perhaps because people put the wrong shade ink pad in the basket for example, but with everyone madly grabbing baskets and making cards, it went a lot better than I would have expected.  Julia (and Ally) run a tight ship, and certainly got their exercise passing around trays of cakes and handing out cups of tea and coffee.  And of course Lunch Lady Jan spend virtually all her time in the kitchen, setting out the cakes and producing a delicious meal to keep us going.

There were 25 cards in all, I’m told, but I got nowhere near that.  I made a solid 10, with two more where I took the “bits”, one which is no more than the die cut card (for a sort of card-in-a-box one) and one which is just the stamped image an a very vague idea of what the card is meant to look like.  Sure I must win the prize for the least cards done, I’m told that 10 is actually not too bad.

Want to see them? Not the best photos, but if you want to see the REAL samples (I tend to deviate from the plan, by error or by design so don’t take my samples as gospel!) pop to Julia’s and you will see them, eventually. Some have already been posted.

Love the tiny dot stamp that you can’t see much on the right card.  Kaisercraft, I’m sure.


Love these next two, maybe best of all, but note to self – Do cards with Stickles on them FIRST so they have time to dry.  You can’t see it at all in the photo but there is a scattering Stickles on the bold flower background, and some of the dots on stems are touched with Stickles too.



Another problem is hall tables – they are always so springy, in virtually every hall I’ve ever crafted in.  I should have taken the stamp over to the hard surface of the lunch-service bar and I bet I would have gotten a better impression. I just had to stick on the sentiment. Copic colouring, for the sewing one.  Very cute.


I stuck down the sentiment so you can see that card finished, and the one with the most  deviation.


The card sample had a more celery ribbon (my favourite green) but this one is more forrest.  I was “sharing” a basket with Laura from Ludgershall and used my Mowed Grass ink pad rather than the coloured pencil that came in the kit so we could pass the basket on.  Then I grabbed the ribbon and went Hummm. There was only one small bit of ribbon left so maybe there had once been a choice? I had a few scraps left after trimming the points (too sharp – may replace that from my stash)and  never saw the stamp that is supposed to go under the edge of the skirt, so I just added the ribbon scraps for a bit of a flounce.  Also I added the hanger paperclip.  A better look at it:


I’ll possibly ask Julia for the stamp at crop or find a suitable one in my stash, or leave it blank so I can customize it to the recipient.

These three are the last – I again had trouble with the large dictionary stamp and the springy table, but they did have extra card in most of the baskets so I got a better impression the 2nd go.


I added a few extra bits of Washi tape and more stars (ie I used all the bits from one of the die cuts, not just the two on the sample – don’t worry, I didn’t deny anyone by using more than my fair share!) and the last card, the ‘tashe is meant to be stamped on some flocked cardstock then cut and mounted image face down.  I liked the stamp so I just added it face up.

Phew.  I am not really a keen cardmaker but it’s been a while and I was getting down to the dregs of my stash – I may have had to resort to cutting the fronts off cards I had already given, mostly to my family, cause they never throw them away. So 3 months after the card-giving I collect them up from the window ledge or mantle and stash them back in my room LOL!

Sorting out a lovely BBQ for tonight, a bit of work, a bit of tidying, a mountain of laundry, and getting organized for the week as the car is going in to have the body work done so I’ll be trapped at home for 3 days. Meh.


WOYWW 158 – lettering journal

Hello WOYWW-ers.  Click and see the best Mr Linky list around, and your passport to worldwide desks and the inspiration they contain.

Hope you had a great week.  I did eventually sort out my posting last week (I have NO IDEA what is happening with WordPress but it’s been doing weird things for days now) but then threw my back out.  I think it was a WOYWW person who told me once you have a REALLY bad episode like I had at Christmas, you can expect more problems and it looks like that is true.  Not severe, but note likely to put me out flat for a couple of days after doing anything too strenuous.

I had hoped to lead off with the ATC from Patsy in the Philippines but it’s still not arrived from its long journey.  The back-up I mentioned yesterday?  A lovely surprise return ATC from my send-to gal Neet! So pretty.

Now, on to my desk – OMG my entire room is shocking.

The rest of the room is just as bad as my desktop.  But I did my lettering for the Letter Love class and it’s not horrible. As I said yesterday my lettering is sort of a riff on Dr Stranglove’s subtitle (…or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) although I may still play around with another version that is more exactly the title, like or how I learned to stop worrying and just WRITE .  It uses one of the techniques from the video, although it wasn’t  a new one to me even then, which may be why I felt confident starting out with this one.  It’s lettering within lines.  I really need a better paint pen.  Mine is spitting and skipping a lot now.  I use it a lot.

I need to fill the bottom edge a bit more – it’s looking too bare to me.

(ARGH.  WHY does WordPress insist on downloading little .php files and refusing to let me upload photos or access my media library??)

And a bit of a close-up so you can see ALLLLLL the mistakes LOL!

I think I’m going to like this class, but no WAY I will finish it in 29 days. Have a great WOYWW – I’m looking forward to hopping round to yours!




Letter Love

I know what I’m like – I rarely commit to a class as I know my follow thru is rubbish.  But I saw a link in a newsletter I get from Cloth Paper Scissors for an Artful Lettering video download. As I have said MANY times, I am not fond of my handwriting so I had a look. I downloaded the 70+ minute video class and really, liked it a lot.  I then went looking for more info on the instructor, Joanne Sharpe.  Lo and behold she had a 29 day class (Letter Love 101) starting YESTERDAY.  I dithered and dithered for a bit, worried it might be not-enough-different to the CPS class, but an email from Joanne set my mind at ease and I booked it. There are a few more on the site that I may take at a later date, as they all look good.

The first lesson was to make a covered composition book to use for a Letter Love practice journal.. Now I’ve never seen the traditional b&w composition books I remember from my childhood days here in the UK, so instead I had a rummage thru a shelf of blank books I keep and found these two possibilities:

We do seem to have a LOT of computer conference notebooks – I wonder why?  Anyway, I felt the Apple one was a bit too small and really liked the window on the Java one so went for that.  The paper inside is lined like a composition book baut a nice weight.  Not sure if I will do as suggested and glue two pages together throughout – and if I did how?  Glue stick or brush on PVA?

I’ve made progess on my cover and used (surprise, surprise) my various foam stamps AGAIN.  They worked well – I am particularly liking the embossed one.

The center window needs filling, and it has to be lettering, and I am feeling the Dr. Strangelove-love so it will riff off that.  But it’ll be tomorrow, as we have the most terrifically busy week this week, all to do with DD are her various events (including a PROM, which needs some sewing and some altering – she really doesn’t want to wear her leg splint and I didn’t want to buy two pairs of shoes, even if I could find appropriate ones for a dressy event, so the little ballet flats need straps to hold them on) and time is thin on the ground.

I am ever hopeful my WOYWW 3rd anniversary ATC will arrive from the Phillipines before tomorrow’s post, but it’s not here yet so it might not.  If it doesn’t I have a back up.  See you then!

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Another layout

Not quite done with the PDF, but hopefully today.  Here is another layout – this one is from 4×6 Photo love and is the February sketch.  I am imposing a few rules for myself – first, obviously, 4 x 6 photos no cropping if I can help it.  Next, where possible, I have to use scraps, other than the background.  Next, if possible, I need to use a stamp, old supplies, and finally I need to try to use my handwriting.

This ticks all the boxes LOL!

The paper is leftover from a magazine article, all still in a bag, and I think it was the bits for the step-by-step photos.  The ribbon and the star paper I have had for yonks.  The stamp is … maybe Fancy Pants?  The tile letters I brought over with me, so at least 10 years old.  Astonishing that I actually had all the letters needed to spell the word I wanted!  The red chipboard I bought when Scrapmagic was closing and I think I used maybe two or three of them. I am trying to absorb the commentary as well, when watching the 4×6 videos – While I feel I know, more or less, how to balance  layout, I appreciate the reason why I would choose to put something in a certain place, and the explanations Shim offers, about intersecting papers, reading in a Z,  blah, blah, blah, makes sense of some of the things am aware of, from reading about scrapping for years, but that I do almost without thinking.  This will all help me with future layouts  – it’ll be interesting to look at the layout at the end (or perhaps before I commit to it, before I stick it all down) to check and see if I’ve taken everything in to consideration.  Sometimes, I do like to fly in the face of known design principles, and sometimes it even works, but overall the basics of placement and grouping things, and Zs and triangles are all things that I am glad to be reminded of, especially as I have been scrapping so little.  My mojo isn’t gone so much as a little rusty from disuse.

Now I really must wrap up the PDF and finish the other version of the concertina, do something for DH (which is a little bit crafty and computer-y) and a few other things.


WOYWW 109 – still loving 4x6s

If you read back you will see I am scrapping to Shimelle’s 4×6 PhotoLove self-led class.  Good it is self-led, as I am only now getting started, with the layout yesterday for June, and now, what is on my W today, the class from May.

It doesn’t look like much, but it will soon be a lovely 2-page layout! Trust me.

Today is DDs transition meeting at her school, planning for her future.  So I am a little distracted.  I’ll get to my desk visiting sometime later or tomorrow if I don’t manage it.  If you came here looking for inspiration, sorry there isn’t much – just a seemingly random pile of stuff.  But if you check out Shim’s video you will see where I am going, and if you pop over to the lovely Julia’s space and hop around blogs across the world, you will surely find something that WILL inspire you! Trust me on that too!


Shimelle & Me – and my personal scrapbooking history

Bear with me.  The crafty bit will come.

We moved to the UK in 1994.  DS was 14 months old (he’s now 18!) and I wasn’t really doing much crafting other that kids crafts, knitting and crochet.  We lived in The Barbican and my time was occupied with DS, the Mums and Toddlers group, going to West End plays and not a lot else.

We moved back to the USA after DD was born, and DH went from banking to an internet start-up.  In the first year, I found scrapbooking was ALL over the place – TV, craft stores, chat at the bus stop.  DS’s best friends mom was having a Creative Memories party and asked me if I would come to help make up the numbers.  I did, and got hooked.   I converted the spare room into a scrapping space (giving up on scrapping on the kitchen counter, snatched moments here and there and tidying up after every session, even if that was after only 15 minutes), ditched the PC for a Mac,  and the next couple of years were spent happily scrapping. I spent a lot of time on 2Peas, and a lot of time in Michaels (humm – at the time I think it was more MJDesigns and Total Crafts, but you get the idea) and built my stash.

We missed living in the UK (and they elected, and I use the term very liberally,  GWB)  so when the bank called and asked DH back, we jumped at the chance.  The problem?  How was I going to scrap when it just wasn’t as popular there as in the USA? How was I going to feed my stash habit??

Off to the net I went and had a long search session.  I found there WAS a scrapbooking site in the UK!  Yay! Scraptastic was run by Mark and Shimelle.  I was beyond relieved.  We exchanged a couple of emails and I promised to get in touch when we were back across the pond and my scrapping goods arrived. I swear I still have a paper piecing pattern I downloaded from her site, a snowman,  in my stash still!

Fast forward a few months and I got in touch to find there was a CROP that weekend.  Oh bliss.  A 2+ hour drive and I rocked up to the Youth Center and walked in to a small room with just 3 scrappers – Shimelle,  CJ (Feel-Good photographer extraordinaire) and Jane (and you aren’t likely to scrap in the UK and not know who I am talking about!) I kept pulling stuff out of my bag, stuff that had been brand new when I packed up, and to every item Shim said Yep, we sell that. or Oh yes, we have that on order.  Far from the dark ages of scrapping, it seemed I had hooked in to the group that was “in the know”! The crops were the highlight of my scrapping life.

Flash forward a few  years – during which time Bev moved UKS from a Yahoo group to a proper website, Shim won both the Hall of Fame and the PaperKuts Power Team, scrapping took off in a big way in the UK, we judged the Best of British contest with Joanna Slan , I took on UKS when Bev couldn’t carry on due to work conflicts – and still I scrapped.

Meanwhile Shim found her niche as a teacher of online classes, got married to The Boy (and yes, her wedding was every bit as glorious as you would expect from her obvious sense of fun and style) became a Garden Girl on 2Peas, and did many classes for UKS, as well as through her site, some of which I started, with the very best on intentions, but life always got in the way.

We worked on Scrapbook Inspirations together until it folded.  Without the monthly deadlines, scrapping seemed to be the last thing I thought of when I was sat at my desk.  The kids moved in to their teens.  All of a sudden getting photos was a near impossible task.  And scrapping took a bit of a back seat for me.   I thought about scrapping a lot, had lots of ideas, but made maybe a page a month for at least a year. I just needed something to get me motivated.  That is something Shimelle is good at, even when she isn’t directing her super-scrapbooking mojo-booster at you, specifically.

I subscribe to Shim’s YouTube videos. I  watch when I find the time and the kids aren’t hammering the home internet. I kept thinking I should play along, but no new photos meant little impetus to actually do so. Recently, looking back at the piles of unscrapped photos I had, I remembered seeing her 4×6 Photo Love classes on her blog.  Most of mine were 4×6.  I had no other project on the go. Serendipity.  I went to her blog and thought Right.  Pull your finger out and SCRAP! So I did.

The June 4×6 sketch/class was a good one.  I managed to make the layout and am happy with the results (mostly – it’s a bit busy, but that was my choice of papers that made it so) and 8 (yes, 8!)  photos are on a layout and the moment captured.

The basic idea is fab, it is a 2-pager, and the original has 6 photos.  I had to cobble together a 4 x 6 portrait block from cropped landscape photos, but that’s the thing – you can do what you like and there is never any tutting from Shim.  She loves the creative process and embraces your alterations – she’s never precious about her designs.

I also saw  one of her sketch-to-scrapbook page videos with some little banners that gave me the idea to curl the edges of the gears to add some extra dimension.

I actually like one page as an option – I think it works equally as well as the double does.

So you would have thought that I would have been following this class from the start.  Why ever didn’t I?  As a self-led class, one you can dip in to and out of, there is no pressure.  History has told me I love Shimelle’s style and can usually pick one of her layouts out of a line-up with ease – it’s the one I love.  Well, that is all water under the bridge now.  I have jumped the first hurdle, made a layout that I quite like, and I have January – May to go back and catch up on.  And the Sketch-to-Scrapbook page bits.  And there will be a new class every month, and a new sketch every Wednesday.

I’m off to sort some photos (crop this weekend so the timing is perfect!) and as soon as I get through those DVDs from the stamp show, that is what I will focus on.

To be honest, looking at those old photos gives me such a wave of emotion – seeing my toddler boy, so chubby cheeked and sweet, and my wee free-spirited girl, small enough to sit on Dad’s lap, when now he is a long-haired game-playing drummer and she is nearly as tall as I am and such a teen, blind-sides me like I never expected.

And it makes me remember why I loved scrapping in those early days of sticker-sneeze, cardstock triangles, fugly paper doll die cuts, and cut-out figures from photos.  And it makes me all that much more determined to not lose sight of that again.


Bi fold frame PDF and video

Here is the video:

and I’ve added the PDF in the sidebar! The file, which opens in a new page, is actually called Juliacropclass (the underlined one not the title – sorry, I need to sort out why it is not just automatically downloading like the earlier ones I did!)


Hope you have fun making one.  The ladies at the crop were SO funny – at the folding-around-the-frame point there was a lot of OMG!  It works!  It really works!  and as everyone used different paper and different embellishments they all looked totally different in the end, but all of them were lovely.  I think I have made the PDF as clear as I can so if you try it and have trouble, do let me know.


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Bi-fold frame

Regular readers might recall me mentioning a class I taught a couple of years ago at a crop, making a bi-fold frame out of foam core and cardstock.  I had a little trouble with the instructions (possibly an understatement, as I think I emailed the crop organizer the wrong PDF – this sort of thing is why I don’t teach very often! LOL!) but once we sorted that out the class projects the attendees made were all just lovely.  Anyway, it is still one of my most favourite projects so I told Julia (after a very pointed glance my way during a discussion at the last crop about classes) I would teach it this week.

I had already sent the two previous samples off as Christmas gifts (one to my in–laws, one to my mom and dad) so I had to make another one and I photographed the process so I could do another PDF with more exact and streamlined instructions.  I think it’s pretty clear this time, and I made great efforts to ensure it was correct.  But I do want to see how the crop ladies get on with them before I share it (see?  I do learn!)

Here is the sample I made – expect a PDF and a YouTube slide show doodah coming soon.

This one uses a couple of birds cut from a piece of Ciao Bella paper and a lot of little flowers from the wedding section of Hobby Craft.  I rather like it. The frame has a bit of a shadow box effect and, as you can see, can stand open nicely.  The thing I love about it is that it is endlessly adaptable to your own style! Here is a look back at the original – could they be more different?

Astute observers will note the use of Dan99s lovely little wonky house and fence.  I still love them a lot.