Friday, 24 March 2017

Pixie Powdered Roses

Hello everyone, I hope life is being kind to you and if you're a crafter like me, you're getting some time to create. There has been some highs and lows at Warts n' All Towers recently, I didn't even get an interview for the job I applied for and I was pretty confident that I'd at least be interviewed, there has been a couple of family things happening as well but we seem to have survived. It's not all been gloomy though, hubby surprised me by booking tickets to go see a rock band we both like, and there have been a few other positive things happening that I'll talk more about if they become 'a thing', but for now life is good and today we had sunshine and I went for a lovely walk in the sun with my hubby, bliss :)

I have been doing lots of card making recently, a couple of commissions still to do and I've made a few cards for my family which I'll share soon, I've also been playing with my Altenew floral stamps, again a post on those cards coming soon. It occurred to me though that I forgot to share some cards I made earlier last month using some Tonic and Sue Wilson dies and of course my beloved Pixie Powders.

I think its pretty safe to say that I love a bit of sparkle and lovely bold colours and when I get chance I add something glittery or shimmery to my cards, and Pixie Powders give shimmer and vibrant colour to a project so they are a win, win.

I started these cards after having a few hours playing with Pixie Powders and creating backgrounds in a lot of different colour variations, some for these projects and some for future projects. On this background I used Sun Yellow, Mango Blaze and a little Burnt Orange to create this gorgeous sunny yellow piece.  For the green leaves I used Olive, Spearmint and Emerald Green.

Once I'd mopped up the excess liquid with paper towels and put the paper towels to dry for a future project and the pieces I'd created had dried thoroughly, I set to die cutting the roses using the Sue Wilson 'Blushing Rose' die set, on the yellow card I used white 220gsm cardstock to cut the frames for the roses and for the layers, and the gift tag. I also used some bright yellow card stock I got from the Range in a mixed pack, the layers were cut using a selection of dies from the Tonic Bowscale set. The tag was cut using the Tonic 'Memento Frame Die' and the Best Friends die was cut from the Pixie Powdered piece from another Tonic die called 'Best Friends'.

I did exactly the same thing for the pink colour way this time using Candy Pink, Lava Red and a little Aubergine Dream. The frames for the roses were cut from White with a Hint of Silver Centura Pearl card stock.

All the die cutting aside they were really easy to put together, a little cosmic shimmer glue and I used 3D foam pads for the roses to give them some dimension. I made the tag and card as a set to send with little gifts to my good friends. I really do love the rose die though, I think I may be a rose addict.  That's all for now my crafty friends, I'm off to play some more with stamps and inks and markers to see what other floral delights I can create and to count my blessings. I hope the week ahead for you is full of sunshine and laughter, happy mothers day to those celebrating it this weekend and hugs to all those, like me who miss their Mum's at this time of year.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Finding the Taylor's

Sarah Jane Webster nee Taylor (1886-1945)
Last time I posted about my family research I mentioned that I'd discovered the maiden name of my paternal Great Grandmother thanks to finding and connecting with my lovely cousins on Facebook. Five of us met up at the grave of Jesse & Sarah Jane Webster last weekend and went for a meal afterwards sharing stories, looking at a few photos and feeling like we've known each other all our lives.

This weekend me and my hubby are off to help one of my newly found cousins celebrate her 70th birthday and more of the Webster clan are going to be there, I'm so looking forward to meeting them and the rest of the extended family. As you may guess I've been delving into Find My Past and other sites as well as pouring through the documents and photos I have and I've had a very productive week.

4 weeks ago I didn't even know my Great Grandmother's maiden name, now I know that, where she was born, her parents names and where she lived before she met my Great Grandad. So far I've got as far back as 1881 with the Taylor family, I'm not ruling out getting further back with them, but I want to look more at the Webster family which is my actual family line. This post though is here more to show my cousins what I've found and for any other Taylor's out there who may be related to us via Sarah Jane who had a lot of brothers and sisters.

1881 Census

Without a maiden name for Scottish Sarah my Great, Great Grandmother, I can’t get further back on her side, and as I don’t know when Cockney Ned came to Manchester and without his Father or Mother’s name I can't get any further information, so I’ll update this if and when I’ve discovered more. The Taylor journey begins though with Edward and Sarah Snr in 1881, they have no children as yet, so we can suppose they are newly married and they reside at 13 Chapel Street, Droylsden. More about Droylsden can be found here if you're so inclined. Coincidentally I lived in Droylsden in the 1980's not far from where the Taylor's lived and I never knew about it, but I'm very familiar with the area.

I started trawling through the census records but I couldn’t find Edward and Sarah in 1881 in the transcript information, however there was a record that stuck out but the transcription said both of them were born in Cheshire, England. Cheshire is nowhere near Scotland but I decided to check the image anyway and the actual census image says Scotland for her and Bow, Middlesex for him! Bow is in the East End of London, apparently "Bow" is an abbreviation of the medieval name Stratford-atte-Bow, which refers to a 12th century bridge. So take note would be family researchers, don't discard any piece of information until you've checked it properly!

1881 Census Details

In 1881, Edward’s occupation is that of an Iron Driller and he says he was born in 1855 (he told porkies) and Sarah Snr is down as a Cotton Weaver born in 1858. Droylsden at the time had 5 cotton mills including Christy’s Towels, so she would have been working in 1 of them. To cause confusion, Ned changes his year of birth to 1859 as does Sarah in the 1891 and 1901 census. Then Ned puts down 1857 as the year of his birth in the 1911 census. I need to find a true date of birth for him which I will do soon, I wonder if our ancestors knew the confusion they would cause in the future by their little embellishments of the truth?

1891 Census

Moving on to the 1891 census, Ned’s place of birth is now given as Stratford, Essex which is not far from Bow, why these people aren’t consistent I don’t know lol! The family lived at 8 Brown Street, Openshaw, Manchester, Edward is an Iron Slotter and we learn that Sarah Snr hails not just Scotland, but from Glasgow in Scotland. Brown Street no longer exists, well it does but Manchester Council in their wisdom decided to rename the street to Brunner Street just to cause confusion, but doing some digging last night, I found an old map online showing where Brown Street was, not far from Ogden Lane where my Grandad Webster had his pub!

Oddly Sarah Jane isn’t on this census despite being 5 years old at the time, some would hazard I have the wrong family but as I’m back tracking the family via the census from 1901 I know it’s the right family, so there has to be another explanation for her being missing. Something a few of my cousins have said about Sarah Jane suffering badly from epilepsy has me wondering if she was getting some treatment somewhere for the condition when the census was being taken?

Prestwich Hospital treated epileptics as well as other problems, although whether they took children is something I've yet to determine. Alternatively she could have just been staying with other family like an Aunt who had married someone of a different name than Taylor? Without sibling names for Ned and Sarah Snr I can't investigate this route yet and I haven't found Sarah Jane in the census records as yet, but I will, its just another mystery to solve.

1901 Census

Moving on to 1901 and Ned and the family live at 37 Peary Street, North Manchester, Prestwich, Lancashire, but Peary Street was viewed as being in Clayton by the locals! Prestwich is a far way from Clayton as far as today's maps and perceptions are, but not apparently back then. Something else this family research lark has taught me, NEVER and I repeat NEVER assume that the area you know as X is indeed X, and certainly don't count out a person because you think they are from X and they are listed as being in Z; because X and Z could have been Y when your ancestor was alive!

In this census, Edward is listed as being a labourer at the iron works (yet to discover which one, but could have been Richard Johnson & Nephew aka Bradford Ironworks), and the family consisted of the following members: -

Sarah Jane and Edward Jnr are listed this time, but both George (who would have been 19) and Thomas (who would have been 10) are not. George could have gone on to have a family of his own by 19, which accounts for why he would no longer have been at home, but he could equally also be serving his country in the Boer War (1899-1902) or succumbed to one of the prevalent diseases of the time such as consumption, smallpox or cholera. I need to investigate him further, when I have more time, and as there is no mention of Thomas, again we can assume he died young and investigate accordingly.

I know some of my cousins believe that Sarah Jane was born in Ashton-in-Makerfield making her a Scouser but she wasn’t, I know this is her family because of all the things that match what we know about them.

1) The head of household is called Edward Taylor and is from Bow/Stratford, Essex - for those that don’t know Stratford is part of London and not Stratford-Upon-Avon as I once thought, see what I mean about not accepting the notions of one place for another? So Ned will have had a cockney accent, justifying the nickname my cousin Joyce remembers of ‘Cockney Ned’.

2) His wife – Sarah – is from Scotland as Joyce remembers.

3) In 1935 Arthur Taylor (Sarah Jane’s brother), was a witness at my Nanna & Grandad Webster’s wedding, and I think Joyce remembers references to sister of Sarah Jane’s called Thersea as well.

It should be noted that Nelly as we’ll see in the 1911 census was actually called Ellen and not Nelly, her pet name gets corrected in the 1911 census. [See 1911 census to help clarify the above (I hope!)]

1901 Census Details

Civil Parish – North Manchester
Ecclesiastical Parish – Clayton, St Cross Parish
County Borough – Manchester (Part of)
Ward of Municipal Borough – Bradford
Parliamentary Division – Prestwich of South East Lancashire

Cockney Ned and his brood lived on Peary Street, which was in Clayton, Manchester, the houses are no longer there sadly. I've added an historical map capture from the 19th century which shows where all the towns etc were.

In the old boundaries and maps these areas came under the registration district of Chorlton which was created in 1837 and abolished in 1925 to become Manchester South. During those years Chorlton district gained part of the parish of Openshaw, from the Ashton-under-Lyne registration district. Until 24th March 1889 Openshaw had formed a detached part of the parish of Droylsden, including Little Droylsden, Clayton was also part of that parish and was under the Parish of Ashton.

Which will explain why in some documents Sarah lists Ashton as her place of birth, because back in 1886 it would have been. Boundaries changed and the world got bigger for our ancestors. I need to go look at the Parish records for Clayton and I may get a baptism certificate for Sarah Jane or other info like her mother’s maiden name etc. One of the cousins thinks her mother could have been called McKay which connects with the Scottish element but needs to be investigated.

1911 Census

In 1911 the Taylor family lived at 24 Boond Street, Greengate Salford, Salford, Lancashire, again none of the houses on that street survive, the area is all car parks and industrial units now. Note the street was actually called Boond Street, it isn't a typo!

The 1911 census is how some of my cousins got confused thinking that Sarah Jane came from Ashton-in-Makerfield, given that Jesse, his Father and Grandfather etc came from the Wirral. It’s a logical assumption to make that Sarah Jane also hails from the Wirral, but she was a Mancunian born and bred, insomuch as she could be a Manc having a Cockney Father and Scottish mother. The confusion doesn't arise from the Taylor 1911 census above, but from Jesse Webster's 1911 census where Sarah Jane puts her place of birth as Ashton, Lancs.

It’s Sarah Jane and Jesse - who signs himself as John, just to frustrate the hell out of future generations - themselves who fuel this confusion. In 1911 Jesse & Sarah Jane are living at 36 Bury Street, Salford. Jesse (John) is down as being an Excavating Labourer and they have 3 children listed, these are Fred (my Grandad), Henry and Lydia one of his brothers and sisters.

On the 1911 census form there was a column for “Total Children Born Alive” they list 4, in the column for “Children Still Living” they have put 3 and “Children Who Have Died” 1.
So Jesse and Sarah Jane have lost 1 child by the 1911 census. I suspect it was male child called Maurice born in 1907, I need to investigate further, but we know it wasn’t any of the siblings we know about and it wasn’t John (who died of polio before he reached 10 years of age) because he wasn’t born until 1925.

Things Still to Discover.

1) When did Cockney Ned come to Manchester from London, how did he meet Sarah Snr and if she was born in Scotland, how did she end up in Manchester?

2) What was Sarah Snr’s Maiden name.

3) Somebody somewhere said they had seen a document (or heard a story) where Jesse was lodging with some woman. I need to know where and when, I suspect Jesse came to Manchester to look for work. In Manchester, in the time frame we’re looking at they were just working on and then finishing the Manchester ship canal. Then around 1911 when Jesse is an excavating labourer they were digging and constructing the canals, building arches and lots of other things around Phillip’s Park. In that area there was also a coalmine, iron works and lots of industrial building taking place so lots of work would have been available.

4) Possible ways Jesse & Sarah Jane could have met? Ned and Jesse worked at the same place, alternatively they could have gone to the same pub or same church and that’s how Jesse met Sarah Jane.

What is clear given that Sarah Jane was from Manchester, and Ned was never in the Wirral, the story that's been passed down about Jesse and Sarah fleeing from Parkgate to Manchester to escape Ned cannot be correct. It’s more likely that Ned didn’t like the idea of Jesse marrying Sarah Jane so the couple fled to Park gate where Jesse’s family were, I still can’t find a marriage for Jesse and Sarah Jane and I’ve gone goggle eyed trying! Jesse and Sarah Jane came back to Manchester around 1908/09 because Lydia was born in Salford in 1909 and the family stayed in Manchester after that.

It could also be that there no fleeing and Jesse come to work on the Manchester Ship Canal or similar, found a wife, went back to Neston for work or to be with family then come back to Manchester where the work was or Sarah Jane’s family were? Something to investigate with access to more local history records.

One thing this family history is showing me is there is more to all this family history lark than just names on pieces of paper, I'm becoming fascinated by social history and the lives of people then, its certainly making me see where I've come from and the towns and areas in a different light. Never before had I considered my ancestors shaped Manchester, but they did! No idea why that notion never hit me until now, but I have a new found respect for all they did and for what they coped with.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Kind Soul Floral's

I hope you are all well, sorry I've been a bit AWOL the past week in blogland but me and my hubby were busy getting ready to take part in a thing called Robot Day at the local museum and preparing for the final week (for this session anyway) of the Young Roboteers club we've been running at the museum for the past 5 weeks. I've still been crafting in the evening making birthday cards for friends and family and playing with some of the freebie sets that came with magazine's, I just haven't had time to blog about it.

Time is my friend again at the moment so I thought I'd use a little of it to blog about a couple of cards I've made this week so far. I saw Jennifer McGuire use this WPlus9 'Kind Souls' stamp last week and I fell in love with it, I love big bold floral images, so when the WPlus9 latest releases arrived at Seven Hills Crafts I ordered the stamp and the matching die. I have to say that is it was hard to not go too mad with new goodies, but the week before I availed myself of the latest colours added to the Hero Arts Ombre inks and some other dies and stamps. I'm waiting for the new Tonic buildables dies to arrive amongst other things. That said I'm hoping that I can add some of the other stamps from the WPlus9 Beautiful Bouquets series over the next few months, I also have some Altenew floral stamp and die sets to play with that I haven't played with yet.

These cards are really simple but they look so colourful, I'm still having problems with getting the shading right, but I'm having fun practising and love using my Zig Clean Color brush pens so much, if you haven't used them they are a water based pen with a brush tip that makes it so each to lay down colour, I found out about them over on Jennifer McGuire's blog, she's done an intro to Zig Clean Color Pens if you want to find out more.

I have 71 of the 80 colours, I got bought the 48 set for Christmas and they rest of the colours I've picked up as individual pens from Pullinger's an online art supply shop, they sell the individual pens for £1.60 each which is about the cheapest I've found, the order arrived really fast as well. I have 4 colours left to add, I realise that only makes 75 but the other 5 are all grey tones and in the selection of Zig pens I have, I already have 7 grey shades plus black, and as grey isn't a colour I use often, there is no point adding them just because.

When I've seen Jennifer use these pens she recommends and uses either Ranger or Tim Holtz water colour paper or Strathmore Bristol Smooth Paper, none of which I have at present and I the water colour cards I did have are not that smooth. You can use Zig's on smooth cardstocks like Neena but they don't blend as easily as on water colour. Scouting around in my stash I came across a couple of Daler Rowley Mixed Media pads they are 250gsm and textured on one side and smooth on the other.  They are a little cheaper than the Strathmore and Ranger water colour cards and you get 30 sheets in the A4 size, 10 more than Strathmore. I wasn't sure how the DR Mixed Media card would perform with my Zig's but as I have 2 x A4 and 1 x A3 (again 30 sheets) I thought I'd give it a try.

The results are brilliant, I used the smooth side and stamped with versamark and used WOW metallic gold embossing powder on the image, the paper takes the heat well. I did try using some promarkers on the DR Mixed Media but they soaked in to the card stock and bled through the back. So its not so good for alcohol markers, but as Zig's are water based they don't bleed through and the ink moves on the card beautifully. I've used Versafine and Archival inks on the card with good results and also Black Licorice My Favorite Things Hybrid Ink.

Of the two cards I've made so far with this stamp, I think that the shading on the rose is better on this yellow and blue version, than on the pink and purple version, I think the colours merged into each other too much on the pink roses to see the shading properly. Shading and colour matching is something I have to learn, but I'm getting there in degrees. I added pen lines to the centre of the smaller flowers to try to create a look like convolvulus, it wasn't as accurate but you get the idea?

I think that the flowers look lovely edged in gold, and want to work on some more pale pink and peachy shades. I think the floral image will lend itself to lots of different kinds of cards from birthday to sympathy done in the right colours. Both the sentiments used on my cards come on the Kind Souls set as well as one I haven't used yet that says "Proud to call you my friend". The accompanying die (sold separately) cuts around the whole image, it would have been nice if they provide dies for the roses as well to raise the image, if you want to do that you'd have to mask and fussy cut the image but its doable.

Once I'd stamped, coloured and cut my image all I did was take a blank A5 white card, round the corners and then add the sentiments the hello I embossed with the same gold embossing powder I used for the image and the other wording was added with Onyx Black Versafine, I added some 3D foam pads to the image and stuck it down to the card. Quick, clean and simple but very effective if I do say so myself, I've stamped several images off ready to colour when I need some relaxing time. I also want to do some resist techniques by embossing the image in white, and using distress inks to colour the flowers and to also stamp the image on black card and use metallic pens or paints. I see lots of flowers on my crafting horizon :)

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Under The Weather

What a crazy few days we've had here! My Dad's partner suffered a brain aneurysm at the weekend, they operated and thankfully she is getting better by the day, but boy did she give us all a scare! Then yesterday my youngest nephew fell at his gymnastics class and broke his arm in such a funny way that at 10pm last night they were operating on him to fix the break. So yesterday evening I fretted and couldn't settle once again, so I decided to do a little crafting to calm me down and I started making a couple of Get Well Soon cards for my box.

I got these lovely girl and umbrella stamps free with the 'Whatever The Weather' stamp set that came with issue 38 of Creative Stamping and despite having a few ideas for using them, I hadn't got round to using the set until last night. I also stamped a few images from the 'Truly Scrumptious' set that came free with issue 39, a mouthwatering array of sweets and treats stamps, with a fab sweetie jar stamp that in my head is going to house a fairy, well that's the plan!

I think that my colouring is improving, but I'm still having problems shading and getting the colours right, I think I need to watch more colouring tutorials and have lots more practice. I still think what I'm doing colouring wise today is infinitely better than when I first started colouring stamped images a few years ago. However, when I see the work of some of the fabulous card makers out there like Kristina Werner I know I have a long way to go, but I'll get there :) One of the bonuses of keeping a blog is you get to look back at what you've done and you can see your progress and I am genuinely amazed by the progress I'm making creatively.

The biggest thing that has helped me improve is getting the right tools and learning which ink is suited to which media. For example to colour with my Zig brush pens, I used Ranger Archival ink, which doesn't streak or smudge and I find it gives superb results every time. I also use my MISTI tool so if I don't get the full image stamped, I can re-stamp and not have to worry that the image won't be lined up. When I first started stamping - and I've said this before - I used cheap inks and stamps and the results were really rather rubbish, the right tools for the job and good quality materials makes for better results.

Here's a photo of the finished card, I fussy cut the little girl out and created a back panel using the cloud embossing folder and cloud dies from the Crafters Companion Little Angel collection' Adding some some 'Tumbled Glass' distress ink to colour the embossed clouds and background.

I added a layer of green card cut with one of the dies from my Lawn Fawn 'Simple Stitched Hillside Borders' to ground the little girl. The sentiment is from the free set and fits perfectly in the large cloud, its not how I intended to add the sentiment but I think it works rather well. I added touches of gold Nuvo drops to the tip and handle of the umbrella to give it some dimension, and cut a slit in the little girls hands to poke the handle through to look like she's holding it. The final touch, and I may have gone a little overboard with it, was to add some Clear Spectrum Sparkle Pen to the girls bow, raincoat, boots and umbrella. I raised the top of the umbrella on some 3D foam pads and also two of the clouds to add extra dimension. I still have the oval image I die cut to finish colouring and turn in to a card, but I need to stamp and colour another umbrella and I think that image will get turned in to an easel card.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Knit Me Baby, One More Line

I hope this week has been good for you? Here things are improving, my dear hubby is almost back to normal and will be returning to work next week, my cough seems to be finally fading after almost 4 weeks now, and on Monday we found out that in July our new grandchild will be a little girl, she will be called Evie and I can't wait to meet her! I was so excited that I may have done a little Nanna shopping and bought some cute little outfits for her, and some other bits to add to things I bought when we first learned a baby was on the way. I haven't done much crafting this week, the cold has put my sleep pattern out of whack and I've had no creative mojo or energy, but thankfully today I got some mojo back and put it to good use.

I've been wanting to make matching bookmarks to give with cards I send for a while, especially useful if the card is for an avid reader and crafter. Partnered with a gift/book token they can chose the book they want to read and use the bookmark to hold their page, giving them something more than just a card. So when my latest copy of Creative Stamping (Issue 40) arrived this morning I was inspired to create this card set using several of the stamps from the free 'Handmade With Love' that came with it as well as a couple of stamps from my Avery Elle Made with Love stamp set.

I started by taking a piece of white stamping card that was 12.5 x 12.5 cm and stamped the background using the cable square stamp for the CS mag, I stamped 5 squares using Ranger Dye Ink in 'Lavender Field' and 4 in 'Grape Soda'. The bookmark background was stamped on a piece of white card 17 x 4cm, I was rather pleased with the way the backgrounds turned out, even more so when my hubby thought that I'd used a backing paper for the background. I'm not sure that it would have been possible to achieve the same result without my MISTI tool though, not as accurately anyway.

I used 2 of the dies from the Sew Pretty - Have A Beautiful Day Circle Frame that I used on the Beautiful Day Rocker Card I posted last week. I used a dark purple card to create the scalloped circular frame and the used the stitched circle to create the topper in white stamping card, which I then stamped with the knitting and needles stamp from the CS set using Jet Black Archival Ink. I used a purple Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pen to colour the stitches and 2 shades of grey for the needles. I stamped a sentiment from the CS set, again using archival ink and then added some Clear Shimmer Pen to the image, finally I added a few drops of Grey Mist Nuvo Jewel Drops to the rounded ends of the knitting needles to give them some dimension.

Next I matted the background panel on some of the dark purple card I used for the topper frame, and some lilac linen card and attached the panel to the front of a 6" x 6" white card blank, then I used 3D foam pads to layer up the topper and attached it to the centre of the card. I toyed with adding some die cut buttons and real buttons in shades of purple to the card but they didn't look right so I abandoned that idea and decided the card looked fine as it was.

For the bookmark I used a corner rounder to round off the corners of the stamped panel and backed that on to a piece of the same dark purple card I used for the card matting after rounding the corners of that as well. I punched a hole 1cm up from the base of the bookmark using a 'Fiskars 3mm Small Circle Round Hole Soft Grip Hand Punch', instead of ribbon I decided to use some strands of purple wool to decorate the bottom of the bookmark, which I think finished it off nicely.

I stamped the ball of wool and knitting needles stamp from the Avery Elle set I mentioned above using archival ink and then fussy cut the ball out and coloured it in with 2 shades of purple Zig pens, then went around the edge with a black Promarker to hide any white bits, then I gave the ball of wool a coat of Clear Shimmer Pen. Once the image was dry I used my powder tool and stamped a sentiment from the Avery Elle set that says "Knit Me Baby, One More Line" using Versamark ink, and added some WOW Super Fine Metallic Rich Gold embossing powder. The sentiment incidentally amused me, probably more than it should have done lol! I attached the ball of wool image to the bookmark with some 3D foam pads and the set was complete.

I'll decorate the envelope with some stitching to finish it off, then think about making a few in some different colour ways for my box. I think the design could also lend itself to making baby cards if the background is stamped in pastel ink shades and you add a suitable sentiment like "It's A Girl", it would also make a good thinking of you card for sending to crafty friends. The CS set has some sewing and dress making stamps as well, and and even some DIY stamps that would make super male cards and lots of sentiments like "Get Well Soon", "You Nailed It", "Handmade With Love" and an assortment of relative stamps like Brother, Dad, Son, Daughter etc.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Beautiful Day Rocker Card

I'm entering this card into the February Win & Tonic Monthly Challenge, first time I've entered a challenge on their blog. The colour chosen was kraft card, this is the first time I've used craft card in a card design and as luck would have it I purchased some of the Tonic Studios Craft Perfect Brown Kraft Card a few days before I saw the challenge. I'm pleased I did buy it because it die cuts like a dream, its 280gsm so perfect for making card blanks and for die cutting, everything I cut from it come out of the die easily and beautifully cut.

I used a couple of dies from my Tonic Scalloped Circle Layering Die Set to make the rocker card base. This is the first time I've made a rocker card and it won't be the last, my card making buddy Emma sent me a stunning handmade rocker card for my birthday and I've wanted making a card of that shape since.  The other dies I used to make the topper for the rocker all come from a new die set I got last week also by Tonic, its called Sew Pretty - Have A Beautiful Day Circle Frame the set has 4 dies in total and it cuts beautifully.

Originally my topper had a white 'stitched border', but I wanted the edge to be kraft card to match the card base. So I used a circle die slightly smaller to cut out the centre of the piece I die cut in kraft card and glued that to the top of the white stitched piece. Using the stitched piece on its own creates a full circle with a stitched edge. I cut the doily piece in white card and the floral centre and then coloured the flowers and leaves with some of my Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pens. Finally adding a coat of Spectrum Noir Clear Sparkle Pen to make the floral elements sparkle.

The final touch to the topper was to add the sentiment which comes with the set, in to the centre in between the flowers and give the centre of each flower a touch of Nuvo Drops to create some dimension. I used English Mustard and Ripened Pumpkin, I would have liked a brighter yellow, hopefully there will be one in the future! I used 3D foam pads to raise the floral pieces and to attach the topper to the card base.

I'm becoming a bit of a tonicaholic, a little late to the tonic party but so far I haven't had a bad product from them. All the products are a dream to use, I'm looking forward to adding more to my stash in the future :)

Finding Lovely Leaves on the Family Tree

Several years ago I started researching my family tree, most of the people who could have furnished answers had sadly passed away and the trail went cold. I'd discovered where my Great Grandparents were buried, but try as hard as I could, I couldn't find out what my Great Grandma's maiden name was or anything else about her, I tried asking on a few genealogy forums and a few people helped with advice and some even did a little research for me to help me discover who my Great, Great Granddad was, but I hit a brick wall and gave up.

Over the next few years I did a little more research off and on and my brother and me went to visit the grave and leave our Great Grandparents some flowers, my genealogy research then side tracked in to research on two medical botanists that I'm writing a book about, more on that in a future post as one of the chaps have some surprising links with the place I'm doing robot workshops at.

My family history research was picked up again towards the end of last year and I revisited one of the genealogy forums to find a comment on a post I'd made from a potential relative hereafter known as Henry's Daughter (my Grandad had a brother called Henry). The problem was in the time that I'd been away I'd forgotten my password and the email address I'd used to access the account I no longer had, so I couldn't get a password reminder sent. So I left a public message asking the potential relative to look me up on Facebook, I heard nothing. In the interim my auntie put me in touch with one of my cousins first removed, we had a lovely chat, but she wasn't the relative who had commented on the forum.

Then earlier this week I got a facebook request from Henry's Daughter who it turned out was indeed related to me, she is another one of my first cousins once removed, not only that but she put me in touch with even more of my cousins. My immediate family aren't very close and sometimes it feels like its just me against the world, so family has been something of an alien concept, my wonderful little brother and his family aside. Researching my families roots started to feel academic because nobody else seemed interested, maybe my brother was a little, but on the whole, nobody was as excited as me when I discovered something new.

My new found extended family are a riot, they have my Grandad's sense of humour, something I inherited from him thankfully. We've set up a little family group on Facebook and we've been sharing stories, photos and our family history research. I have to say that I can hear there Manchester accents in the words they type, and it makes me homesick for my roots.

This crazy bunch of people have welcomed me with open arms and I feel like we've been around each other for years. Some of them I met over 45 years ago and have never seen since, some of them I'm yet to meet. But meet we will as Henry's Daughter has invited me to a family party, but before that we're all going to meet at the grave of their Grandparents (my Great Grandparents) because thanks to my research they now know where it is.

And thanks to the research of one of my other cousins I now know that my Great Grandma's maiden name was Taylor and if my research bears out, she was born in Droylsden a place I lived for a while in the 1980's. Three of my cousins have been researching the family and each one of them has a puzzle piece or a clue, between us all we will solve this mystery and trace our family.

The photo above is me and my Nanna taken in 1969, my Grandad took the photo on a trip to the seaside. I've been researching my Nanna's family the Barry's, I've solved one puzzle about my Great Grandad Barry but encountered another conundrum which needs some further investigation. Over the Summer I have trips to Port Sunlight, Neston in the Wirral (that trip will hopefully furnish a visit to Ness Botanic Gardens as well!), Lytham St Anne's and a couple of other places.

My cousins are all over the place in Manchester, the Canaries and Spain, some of them are coming over to the UK this year for us all to meet up, and I'm really looking forward to it, for the first time in a very long time I feel like family is a fun and loving thing, and not something that is lots of hard work, tears and a constant stream of fights, snubs and being made to feel like they'd sooner you were anywhere but there. So I'm looking forward to getting to know my extended family better, sharing memories and making lots of happy new ones.

When I started out researching my family tree I was looking for the past and trying to figure out where my Grandad came from. I never thought that my search would lead me to existing family, its such a wonderful thing and I'm so happy I posted on that forum now! Now I have people to work with that are interested its rekindled my interest, more puzzles to solve and clues to find, grandad always said I was like Sherlock Holmes, I asked way too many questions and was always trying to puzzle things out, somethings thankfully never change :)

Friday, 17 February 2017

Computer & Console Game Themed Cards

I hope the week has been good to you? Its been a bit of a mixed bag here, my cold is refusing to budge and joy of joys hubby is starting to suffer with it now. Hopefully he'll get over it faster than me, its not all been bad, I've managed to sort out my craft room and even made a card and I have also treated myself to the complete set of Tim Holtz Oxide Inks that get released later this month, I really can't wait to play with them.

Enough wibble, I thought I'd follow on from my Star Wars themed cards post on Wednesday today and share some cards I've made for my brother, stepson and some of the nephews who all like playing PC or console games. The first card was made for my brother who likes playing a game called Assassin's Creed. So for his 2017 birthday card I created a card for him using a fan art image I found on the internet. I first cut a piece of A4 greyish blue card to form a stepper card using my Presscut stepper card die, the die comes with other dies to cut the scalloped strips and rectangles that you can see on the card.

I printed off the image several times and used it to cut the two side panels, bottom decorative panel and several layers to make the Ezio character. The main panel I matted on to silver mirror card and then once everything was stuck down I added a die cut Happy Birthday sentiment from a Crafters Companion die to the bottom panel and I went over the clock face with some 'Clear' Spectrum Sparkle Pen to give some shine, the finished card looked good if I do say so myself and my brother loved it.

I also made a card for my stepson using Fallout 4 as a theme, he likes playing it as do my hubby and myself and at the time of making this card, we were all waiting for Fallout 4 to be released. The background was another find off the internet, this time a desktop wallpaper which I printed off and stuck to an 8" x 8" white card blank.

The Vault Boy usually has yellow hair, but as my stepson is a red head, I coloured the hair orange, which he found rather amusing. The sentiment was computer generated using a Fallout font face. Inside the card in the same font I added a panel that said "There's only 101 days until Fallout 4 is released!", that's because coincidentally from his birthday they were in fact 101 days to the game release date. The vault door is there because in Fallout 3 the start of the game begins in Vault 101, my  hubby 3D printed the vault door for me with 101 n the centre.

Another element added to the front of the card are 3 Nuka Cola bottle caps, in the game these are the currency for buying things in game. Somebody had given me some patterned bottle caps that I didn't have a use for in their given state, so I decided to convert them. I found some images, resized them to fit and fussy cut them out, then added them to the top of the bottle cap with some cosmic shimmer glue, finally coating the tops with glossy accents. The final addition are 3 'Bobby Pins' Up near the hair, these are used in the game to pick locks of chests and cabinets to find loot.

I've also made a couple of cards for some of the younger members of the family who are in to the game Minecraft. It really isn't my idea of fun, but the youngsters love it. This one was really simple to make. I created a blocked pixelated background and then using my paint programme and a Minecraft font I added the sentiment and shadow.

I cut out a Minecraft character face shape in the centre and edged the cut out with some glue pen and gold glitter. I stuck the cut out image using a couple of layers of 3D foam pads to a piece of metallic green card which helped the cut out to pop. The whole thing was then mounted on to an A5 cream card blank that I'd embossed with a swirly font. The one I made for my nephew Zach had a bubble embossed background on it.

I like being able to tailor cards to the person, I'm planning some cards based on my favourite game of all time Skyrim for my oldest nephew who loves to play the game thanks to me. I've also made cards based on anime and rock bands but that's for another post. Hope you like these creations, thanks for all the lovely comments about the Star Wars cards, I truly appreciate it :)

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Star Wars Card Designs

I've been trying to find time to blog about some of the cards I'd made for friends and family last year and so far not got round to it, so I thought that I'd add a couple of photos every now and again to share what I've made in retrospect because I know that lots of people - myself included - struggle with cards for the menfolk. I often wonder why that is, is it because as women we can't think outside the floral box or is it more to do with the fact that you can really only make sporty cards for men or cards that have a nature or DIY theme?

I admit I've struggled when it comes to ideas for my Dad because in my head the only thing that I could do would be a football themed card, but then when I thought about it, I realised that there were lots of options, he was a Teddy boy so rock and roll themed would be good, plus he loved keeping tropical fish and still likes them even though he doesn't keep them. I had an idea a few months back when I used a Hero Arts stamp and die set called 'Color Layering Goldfish' to make an easel shaker card, so I can do a variation on that theme and I have another stamp and die set which contains more tropical style fishes.

For my hubby Simon and my brother choosing a subject is easy, they both love Scifi especially Star Wars, gaming and rock music and of course Simon is very into robots. So its easy to find something suitable for them, and whilst the dies aren't always available it is possible to improvise.

I made this BB-8 and R2D2 card for him for Father's Day off the cats, okay some of you may roll your eyes at that but it was an excuse to do some more crafting lol! I found the images on the internet and printed a few of each off to layer them. The Moon rock background was created using a Crafters Companion Textures Elements embossing folder called 'Rain'. I inked up the folder with Memento London Fog ink and embossed a piece of light grey card. Worked like a charm, the sentiment was computer generated using a Star Wars font.  I created an easel card with black card and silver mirror card mats.

My sister-in-law asked me to make 3 father's day cards for my niece and nephews to give to their Dad for Father's Day, the theme was easy, my brother is a HUGE Star Wars fan, so I decided to use that as the theme and tailor each card to the child.

I decided that all the cards should be easel cards to give me a larger area to work with. The first card I created was for the my youngest nephew the spelling was deliberate, Zach finds farts funny at the minute and he thought the card was most appropriate for his "trumpy bum Daddy" lol!

I used the same embossing folder and technique to create the back panels and the images were found on the internet and printed off then attached to the card with 3D foam pads. I added 5 die cut silver stars which I topped with the same adhesive star shaped gems that I used on the top panel. I stamped the moon using the Altenew 'To the Moon' set and the sentiment was again computer generated.

The second card was created for my eldest nephew Casey to give to his Dad, again I made an easel card but this time chose a rectangular shape. My brother does a rather good Yoda impersonation and he and Casey often tease each other about having big ears like Yoda, so it seemed most appropriate.

I used another Crafters Companion Textures Elements embossing folder this time the 'Lightening' pattern and I went over the embossed area with a 'Clear' Spectrum Sparkle Pen to give the embossing some depth.

Again the image was found on the internet and I printed it off several times and 3D layered it so that Yoda popped off the front of the card. I used a piece of green card to make the easel and then used gold mirror card for the mats and to mat the computer generated sentiment which I mounted in some 3D foam pads. I have to say the photos make the cards look a little flat but they really did pop.

The final card was created for my niece, this time I went with a square easel card and used an a standard white 8" x 8" card blank to create the easel card. For the background panel I embossed a piece of A4 black card with Craft Essentials Creative embossing folder called 'Cogs', then I used a selection of silver, bronze and copper Cosmic Shimmer Metallic Gilding Wax to bring out the details.

I found the cartoon strip style images on the internet and found them amusing Darth Vader daddy teaching his daughter to clean her teeth, drive a space ship and finally admonish his daughter for wearing a dress he thinks is to revealing lol! My niece loved it as did my brother, I matted all the images and the cog panels on to silver mirror card and attached everything with 3D foam pads. Again the sentiment was computer generated and matted in the same way.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Baby Chest of Drawers Cards

A few months ago, I realised that my stash contained a large amount of dies and stamps for Christmas and birthday's but very little else for other occasions like wedding's anniversaries, new births, new homes and everything else that life throws at us. So I've been attempting to acquire new stash that can be used to make these kind of cards.

Of course wanting to make new baby cards is practice for July when our new grandchild comes along, but in the meantime I can make them for friends and family and also put some in the box of cards that I make for Cats Protection.  I'd seen some cards made to look like chest of drawers on Pinterest I think and I thought they looked rather nice, I dare say they can be made for just about any occasion with the right 'accessories' to jazz them up.

I started by making an A5 tent fold card blank and covered the front with a piece of wood effect paper I'd printed off from my Crafters Companion 'Flights of Fantasy' CD Rom. The colours were perfect for the project, and if I take the jpg in to PaintShop Pro, I can pretty much make any colour I wish. I also covered an additional piece that I then cut down to make the 3 drawer fronts for the card. The cards I'd seen had fancy dies to cut their feet but I didn't have anything similar so I improvised and used an Xcut 'Ornate Frame' die to take a piece out of the bottom and whilst not perfect it adequately did the job.

When I'd finished cutting the shaped bit for the legs and drawer bottom, I decided that they legs were two wide so I trimmed each side down and put them trimmed strips to one side. When I started to assemble the card, it occurred to me that they would make perfect tops for the chest of drawers, so the discarded bit became a part of the card. Before I stuck the drawers in place I decided to distress the edges with contrasting shades of distress ink to define the edges and make them pop a little. In hindsight I wish I'd used more than 1 layer of 3D foam pads to make the drawers stick out more, but that's a note for next time.

Once I'd added the drawers and stuck on some gems in  similar colours to act as the knobs on the drawers, it was time to add the final touches, originally I was going to stick the baby grow to look like it was coming out of a drawer, but it didn't look right on balance. So I decided to stick everything just to the front of the drawers instead. For the baby clothes I used the 'My First Outfit' die set from the Crafters Companion Little Angel range, the sentiments on all 3 cards are dies from the Sue Wilson 'New Arrival' range. I'm happy with how these cards have turned out, I'm going to make more but use some less conventional colour schemes. A card making friend makes some gorgeous cards and the recent baby ones were a revelation, lovely bright cards and not traditional pink and blue. Take a look at Emma's Baby Cards, I was lucky enough to receive a package from her last week with some of the die cuts of the Tattered Lace animal dies amongst other jolly things to colour in and use, it was a lovely surprise.