Friday, 20 January 2017

Crazy Cat Lady

I wear the title of this post like a badge of pride, I'm owned by two cats who regular visitors to my blog may recall that I often refer to them as my girls, because that's what they are. I couldn't have children of my own, I was lucky enough to wind up with a stepson and now a daughter-in-law, but as for babies of my own, cats and kittens are as close as I can get. My girls are my fur babies and yes I spoil them rotten and people that know me accept that.

My love of cats has started to spill over in to my crafting life, when I see a new stamp or die set that is feline in nature it kind of falls in to my stash. So I was delighted when my card making friend Jackie Trinder posted a card she'd made using a stamp set from the Isobel Craft Collection. I hadn't come across the brand before but the owl set Jackie used looked cute so I went and had a wander via Jackie's link and found a really cute cat stamp set that I fell in love with and ordered within moments. Thanks Jackie!

Sophy got my order to me very quickly, it arrived Tuesday morning from a Sunday evening order placement. The stamp set is A5 and comes with some little sentiments. I haven't had much time to play with it but last night I used 4 of the 5 cats in the set plus the paw print stamp to make myself a book mark. The paw prints are stamped with Memento ink in 'London Fog' and 'Gray Flannel' and I coloured the cats with some of my Zig Clean Color Pens and added some Clear Spectrum Sparkle pen to blend the colours.

This photo is of my oldest cat Poppy, both of my girls come from the Cats Protection, which is why I do all I can to help support them. Poppy came to live with us in 2011 when she was just 1 year old, she is just over 6 years old now and my little princess. Her sister Rosie Tu-Tu is also from the CP, we got her as a kitten when she was a few months old, she's been with us since 2014 and will be 3 years old next month. In our household Poppy is Mummy's girl and Rosie is very much Daddy's girl and that's the way it is :)

 The bed is Poppy's, its actually our spare bed which is in my crafting room come office, but we're not allowed to put anything on it, if I have craft stuff on it and Poppy wants a nap, she gets rather vocal until I've moved everything to give her some nap space. She's a cheeky little madam at times but I wouldn't change her for the world, her sister either, I'll post more photos of them in the future, I'm sure people won't mind sharing the crazy :)

In my down time I even read cat related fiction, if you haven't come across Mandy Morton and 'The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency' and you like a giggle you may like to check her out. She's written 4 books so far the first has a plot that goes something like this...

"Hettie Bagshot has bitten off more than any cat could chew. As soon as she launches her No. 2 Feline Detective Agency , she’s bucketed into a case: Furcross, home for slightly older cats, has a nasty spate of bodysnatching, and three of the residents have been stolen from their graves. Hettie and her sidekick, Tilly, set out to reveal the terrible truth. Is Nurse Mogadon involved in a deadly game? Has the haberdashery department of Malkin & Sprinkle become a mortuary? And what flavour will Betty Butter’s pie of the week be?"

I'm currently on book 3 'The Death of Downton Tabby', I have book 4 ready to go after that, there fun and silly and there are lots of cakes, pies and murders involved.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Accidentally Brilliant Autumn Background

I made this card back in mid October last year, but with one thing and another I didn't get round to blogging about it. The background came about after salvaging an experiment that went wrong, but when I'd finished salvaging it I realised I really liked what I'd done.

So many things happened from March to November last year in my life that I didn't have time to blog about what I'd been making but I did still dabble and create when I got the chance. I think my colouring continued to improve throughout last year, and its something I hope to continue to improve in 2017, I'd love to master shading and be a little more confident laying down colour.

The card above started as just a panel, I acquired a stamp and die set in Lawn Fawn's autumn release last year called "Jump For Joy". I couldn't resist, cute woodland animals and autumn in a stamp set, two of my favourite things. I decided to emboss the stamped images with Cosmic Shimmer Gold Detail embossing powder which really helped them to pop and then I coloured the images with Inktense Pencils, and then applied some Spectrum Noir clear Sparkle Pen over the top of to make them shimmer.

I die cut a circle using my Presscut Round Cutting & Stitching Die and then added three layers of distress ink Twisted Citron on the bottom, Rusty Hinge in the middle and Wild Honey on the top and then gave the panel a spritz of gold shimmer mist when I was happy with the blending. To highlight the gold stamping of the images I used two if the same dies to create a frame for the image in gold mirror card.

I wanted to make use of some freebie leaf stamps that came with the Autumn Crafters Inspiration magazine, so I decided to stamp an 8" x 8" card blank using a new Ombre ink pad by Hero Arts the colour is called Ombre Autumn.

The ombre inks are comprised of three strips of ink in colours that designed to give an ombre effect, the autumn one has shades of rich mahogany red, rust and a mustard yellow. When you stamp with them you can achieve other colours as the 3 main colours blend.

I started out fine applying the ink to my stamp and then stamping on to the card blank, but I accidentally stamped in an area I didn't want to and then smudged the ink. Not to worry thought I, I can use the centre panel to hide the mistake, but I made the same error a couple of times, so I threw my dummy out of the pram and randomly stamped all over in temper intending to throw the panel away.

When I'd finished having a moment I put the lid on the ink, cleaned the stamps and walked away, leaving the messed up card blank on my craft desk. I went off and had a cup of tea and came back a little later and the ink had dried and it looked like a colourful leafy panel but something wasn't right. I decided it was down to the fact that there was too much white showing, so I used a blending tool and some Tea Dye distress ink and went over the stamped card. To my astonishment I realised I loved the piece and it was in fact better than the original idea I had! I've picked more of the Ombre pads and love using them, you get a fab multicolour effect with very little effort.

I finished the card by adding the panel to the centre and adding the gold frame, then using 3D foam pads I added the stamped and die cut images to the panel. The sentiment was cut using a die from the 'Justrite Antique Tags One' die set I picked up in a sale way back in Jan 2015, there is a couple of sets of stamps that work with the dies, the one I used on this card is called 'Antique Autumn Tags One', the sentiment words come from the same stamp set as does the decorative border which I stamped using Memento 'Potters Clay' ink, the words were stamped in 'Onyx Black' Versafine ink and I added a couple of small yellow gold gems to either side of the sentiment tag.

Before I go, I thought I'd share a photo of the crafty bargains I got for my birthday last week, I went to Coleman's Craft Warehouse and found some Woodware stamps half price, lots of half price dies and stamps as well. They had an offer on normal priced items so I got some more ink blending tools, some of the Black, Gold & Silver Sparkle Pens, three of the newer colours of Starlight Paints and some Sparkle Medium and some Woodware 'Fluffy Stuff' all of which had 30% of the ticket price. All I have to do now is put them to use. Most of the stamps and dies are Christmas card related which is why they were so cheap, but I'm going to put them to good use.

Friday, 13 January 2017

One Die, Three Ways

A belated Happy New Year to you all, I hope your year has gotten off to a good start and will continue to be kind and gentle with you!

For myself, I can't believe we're almost 2 weeks in to 2017 and I haven't been able to blog until now! For the first few days I was busily preparing for my stepsons wedding and for my birthday. Then just after the wedding, both myself and Simon caught some kind of nasty stomach bug and I've been rather poorly since Monday!

I finally started to feel well enough to get my craft on yesterday, I've been a real couch potato for the past 4 days, I had no energy, and found I just couldn't concentrate. Consequently the things I had planned to do last weekend for my birthday due to the wedding, didn't happen. Some things like the cinema visit have been deferred to this weekend, so I have that still to look forward to.

It was nice to be able to finally do some crafting, whilst I was ill I'd had several ideas, I really should start a notebook and write down ideas for times when I can't decide what to make! For Christmas I got one of Sue Wilson's new dies that she introduced to her range in late 2016, its called 'Swirly Vine' and it makes really pretty backgrounds for cards. I used the die to make 3 different kinds of cards the first a New Year card for my friend who is under going chemo, over Christmas I was full of a terrible cold that lingered for weeks, I didn't want to risk sending her the germs so I didn't send her a card, promising to send her a cheerful new year card instead.

To make the card I created some Pixie Powder backgrounds on watercolour card, I decided to use a full panel in the centre of this card to show off the sentiment better, so I used the inner square that's part of the pie to cut out the centre of the Pixie Powdered piece as it would have been hidden by the panel. I used the piece cut out to die cut a sentiment using Sue Wilson's 'Starry Happy New Year' die from the Festive Collection. It was glued down and then layered on foam pads on to a piece of Snow White with a Hint of Silver Centura Pearl card, I used the same card to cut the swirly vine panel as well. This card was finished with some adhesive star gems in colours that were in the pixie powders.

I used two sections of the die and cut them in black card to create a card to send to a friend who has just lost her sister, her death was sudden and my friend is having a very hard time coming to terms with the lose. I wanted the card to be black but colourful if that makes sense? So I made a Pixie Powdered background in reddish orange colours because her sister was a lovely warm person and I wanted to send some warmth to my friend.

In the first example I trimmed around the die with my trimmer and kept the edge straight but for this card, I used the largest of the dies from my Tonic Scalloped Square Layering Die set, which just fits around the Swirly Vine die perfectly.

The third card I made today, again I used a Pixie Powdered background I created yesterday, this one had a more pinkish hue to it. I love the vibrant, rich colours you can create with these powders. They'll be featuring in lots of my cards in the future.

This kind was made pretty much the same as the first card, I cut out the centre panel and used it to die cut the Happy Birthday sentiment. That particular die is a from the Crafters Companion 'Butterfly Lullaby' collection. I also added a rose cut from the smallest die in Sue Wilson's 'Blushing Rose' set and used the small leaf also.

I've had this set of dies for a while but only just got round to using it. I'm planning to make lots of rose variations in different shades over the next few days and make more rosy cards for birthdays and other occasions for my box. This birthday card was made for nobody in particular, so it will sit in my box until needed, or it will go to the Cats Protection. The photos don't really show the rich colours and shiny aspect of this panels very well sadly, in real life they really do shine and sparkle.

Before I go, I thought I'd share more of my efforts to get more organised in my crafting space, I've finally finished all the swatches on my Distress Inks, I plan on making a start on adding swatches to all my other ink pads very soon. I've also invested in a couple of magazine racks, one of them now contains my A4 embossing folders and large A4 stamp sets that have come free with magazines. The other is holding my larger die sets that I use for mating and making my shaped cards. So not things I use often are right to hand when I need them.

I just need a few more clear plastic lidded boxes and everything will be better stored and easier to access, I have found it a lot easier to craft by sorting things out. I'm trying hard also to get in to the habit of tidying things away as soon as I finish a project rather than leaving everything in messy piles, how long it will last though is anybody's guess lol!

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Endings & Beginnings

This will be my last post of the year, and on this last day of 2016, I've been a little reflective. Last night I logged on to Facebook to find that a lady I'd made friends with via our love of cats had passed away. She had been ill for a while, but she was such a brave woman with such a love for her family and cats, never did I hear her complain about her lot in life, she tried to smile when it was dark and scary, she was a beautiful soul. Now I may never have met her, and I couldn't claim to be her best friend but I felt her passing and it saddened me.

This came on the back of another Facebook friend who I am close to having to make a brave decision to have her cat put to sleep when the vet discovered the cat had a brain tumour. It was sudden, it was a shock and my friend was devastated. When you're a cat lover only fellow cat lovers can understand how you feel when you lose your fur baby, to some its "Just a cat" and they don't get it. I don't know what I'll do when my own fur baby is no longer with me, she saved me from myself 5 years ago and has been a huge part of my world ever since.

I was feeling slightly maudlin so I shut myself away in my room, I turned out my 'Maybe Someday' box and found all the elements above that were experiments, leftovers or tests and my eye saw something in all the pieces as I layered them together and I'm really pleased with the way this selection of things that didn't have a use has come together to make a card that I hope will bring comfort to my friend and let her know that I understand.

Whilst I was rummaging in my MS box, I came across some leftover roses that I'd made when I first started playing with my Altenew 'Beautiful Day' stamp and die set. I pulled the bag of roses out and my eye was drawn to a new Darice embossing folder I got recently and hadn't used, its called 'Background Script' and the words are really rather powerful: -

"Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

I decided to colour the backgrounds with distress ink in shades to compliment the roses, themselves symbols of love, the ink also helped the words to stand out. Orange rose got the Ripe Persimmon treatment, yellow got Squeezed Lemonade and pink got Victorian Velvet. Each panel glued to a A6 card blank and the leaves glued to the panel. I mounted the roses on some foam pads and finished the card off with some gold die cut 'Love' and 'Cherish' sentiments. They'll make good cards to send to friends in the new year to let them know I love them and cherish their friendship.

2017 I'm going to act more on what my heart tells me, try to be softer and kinder and let those close to me know what they mean to me, life can change at the roll of a dice, seize the day and all that! This time next week will be my birthday, its also my stepson's wedding so there is balance, whilst there are endings, there are new beginnings coming. Wishing you and yours a healthy New Year, if your 2016 has not been so great, here's hoping that 2017 will be better, and that you have much love and laughter in the coming year. Thank you for dropping by and reading my blog and for the comments you leave, it really does make me feel like I'm not so alone :)

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Rainbow Splotch Thank You Cards

I love how bright and colourful these thank you cards turned out, just perfect for sending to say thank to people who gave us fab xmas gifts this year, I made a set of 10 all in 1 day, I used my MISTI tool so that I could just line up once and stamp on each card, changing the stamp and going through all 10 cards again. I do like splotches and splatters on cards but I just don't seem to get them right if I do it myself with a brush. I was delighted when earlier this year I discovered a My Favorite Things stamp set called 'Distress Patterns'  which makes lovely splotches and splatters of colour that can be put together in lots of different combinations.

You can see my set in the above photo heavily stained from the inks used, this is a sign of a good quality stamp and despite becoming discoloured, if you've cleaned them properly then the colour won't run. For the set above I used a combination of Ranger Dye inks and Memento inks which gave lovely rich vibrant colours. I did have to stamp each image 2-3 times to ensure the image wasn't bitty with the dye inks.

In the image above I made a set of similar cards as a notelet gift set when I first got the stamp set, for these images I used a variety of Hero Arts Shadow Inks, these are dye inks, they stamped smoother and there was no blotches in the stamped image, but the ink really soaked in to the paper, which made the colours look muted and not as vibrant.

I've found that the Ranger Dye Inks stay bold, they give a really good stamp impression, even on solid stamps like the splotches, the darker colours like the 'Classic Cherry' and 'Grape Soda' do show through your cardstock but not to the degree that the Shadow Inks do. I'm waiting for some more of the Ranger Dye Inks to arrive and I think they will be getting a lot of use in the future. FYI the Memento Dye inks also stay vibrant on the card, they do have a tendency to stamp blotchy though so you need to over stamp several times if you want a nice crisp image.

I used two different sentiment dies in the gift set, one if a Sue Wilson 'Just A Note' die and the other is my Altenew 'Thanks' die which I've used several times since I got it for making thank you cards. The above set which I gave to my friend for Christmas I made the card blanks myself and a little box to hold the cards and envelopes together. I'm thrilled to say my friend loved them which made me happy, I really did get worried about giving people the papercraft gifts I'd made, turned out I needn't have worried, everyone I gave them to had nice things to say about them.

The image doesn't show the details as well as I'd like, but I used a Clear Spectrum Sparkle pen on all the 'Thanks' die cuts which I cut out of black card to give them a lovely shimmer. Then I added dots of 'White Blizzard' Nuvo Glitter Drops to the centre of each of the splotches. I stamped the images directly on to white A6 deckle edge cards which are 225gsm in weight.

I'll be making more cards like this and variations on the theme throughout the year, I may even make a couple of sets for presents again. I did stamp one of the cards with Ranger Dye ink 'Lily Pad' as you may be able to make out in the image above, that's a darker green than the Memento 'Pear Tart' I used on the other nine cards, which is more of a lime green and I wish I'd done them all in Lily Pad now. Point to note for next time!

I'm keeping pretty much on track with the tasks and challenges I've set myself, as well as keeping up with the 365 Challenge and making a few items for that. I've started work on a Wedding card for my stepson's wedding which needs to be done in time for the 7th January. I also have to make a New Year card for a special friend, who for reasons I'll explain when I post the card I couldn't send a christmas card to. Time to go and sort out something to eat now, then later some more playing with paper, its been very relaxing today, we went for a walk in the fog and watched a little TV, other than that its been crafting time. I hope your day has been just as relaxing!

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Tag, You're It!

I hope you had a Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it that is. We've had a few quiet days, which have been very welcome after all the hustle and bustle of the past few months. I've made a few none 365 Challenge cards, a simple 'Cherish Card' I'll share in the next few days. Also a card I made for my brothers birthday which needs to get posted tomorrow as its his birthday on the 2nd January, I'll post a photo after his birthday. I got some lovely crafting goodies for Christmas this year, my hubby got me an assortment of tools including a Crop-A-Dile, a 1" circular punch, some Gansai Tambi 'Starry Colors' pigment paints by Kuretake, and a 48 set of Zig Clean Colour Pens. I've already been playing with the pens today, colouring the images that I glued to a set of 10 tags I've made towards my 365 Days to Christmas challenge.

The Santa and Reindeer images on the above tags are all stamped using an Avery Elle 'North Pole Pals' stamp set and the sledging bunny is stamped with the Lawn Fawn 'Winter Bunny' stamp and coloured coloured with my Zig Clean Color pens. After colouring I die cut the images with the co-ordinating dies, then added some finishing touches, Ruby Slippers Nuvo Glitter Drops to Rudolph's nose and Glossy Accents to the collar and a swoosh of Clear Spectrum Sparkle pen to make the images pop. I added a few white dots with a gel pen on some of the backs of the reindeer. Santa got White Blizzard Nuvo Glitter Drops adding to his hat and coat trim and glossy accents to his boots and more sparkle pen, the bunny colouring was actually coloured with a sparkle pen used like a water brush.

The first few tags I made I stuck some of the images on to plain tags, then I had the idea to stamp a pattern on to the tag to create a kind of tone on tone effect (you can see it better in the gingerbread tags below). I used a stamp that came free with Cardmaking & Papercraft magazine a couple of issues ago and 'Love Letter' Memento ink, then gave the tags a little spritz of homemade shimmer mist. I have to say I prefer the stamped tags to the plain ones, the photo doesn't show the detail very well, it is subtle but it does make a big difference.

Back to gifts for a minute, only because my favourite gift of this year is craft related, I got an MDF rack for storing my Stickles and Perfect Pearls and a rack for holding my Distress Inks, from my brother and sister-in-law, it was decorated with the help of my niece and nephews, a real family affair with everyone doing something. It was just what I wanted as my distress inks were stored in a plastic box which made finding the right colour difficult, so I was blown away with the thought, effort and love that had gone in to my gift, it will be treasured for a long time to come. I've printed off some labels and will be making swatch labels to stick to the side of each distress ink so I can see which colour is which over the next few days. I'd love something similar for my larger ink pads, hubby says we'll look in to getting some laser cut in the new year.

As well as the red tags above, I also made a set of 'Gingerbread Man' tags, I used the same Xcut 'Christmas Gift Tags' frame die as I used above, cutting out 6 tags in cream card. I stamped the Woodware 'Snowflakes and Sparkles' image on the card in my MISTI using Memento Desert Sand ink. Then give the tags a spritz of homemade shimmer mist which I'd added peppermint oil to in a vanilla alcohol base which adds a lovely Christmas candy cane scent to the tags. Granted it will fade by Xmas 2017 but if I store them in a box with some scented pads inside they will remain fragranced and they will add an extra dimension to pressie wrapping next year. In hindsight a ginger scented spray would have been better, note to self has been made lol!

I used an Xcut 'Mini Gingerbread Man' die and some matt gold metallic card to cut out the gingerbread men, and I used a foam pad to attach the die cut to the tag. The set also contains small dies for buttons, a hat, holly leaves and a bow tie so you can decorate the gingerbread man how you like. I decided to add just the bow tie, and a sprig of holly to the upper part of the tag and give it a 'berry' with 'Ruby Slippers' Nuvo Glitter Drops. The tags were finished off with some red and white twine from my craft stash.

With these tags, it puts my 365 total at 20 items so far 345 to go and its not even 2017 yet :) I have done a few more projects, like a set of 'Colour Me' notelet cards but I haven't made the container for them, or sourced the pens I want to put with them so I'm not counting the set until its complete. Even though it will have 6 notelet cards, I'm only counting it as 1 item as its 1 gift on my list. I've loved making the tags and will be making lots more, to be honest I've made tags before by cutting up old christmas cards and I think the term is 're-purposing' them but not tags from scratch and I don't understand why?

They are really easy and quick to put together if you make a batch at once, do you make your own tags at all?  I've decided if I make too many of them for us, they can roll over to 2018 or I can bundle them together for the Cats Protection Christmas Fair.  I'm also going to make some for birthdays and other occasions, I have a few dies for cutting tags including a Tim Holtz set of tag dies and a rather elegant Tonic set that came free with Die Cutting Essentials this month which are begging to be used.

Before I go, I thought I'd share a crafting bargain I got in the sales, my Dad gave me some money for Christmas and told me to buy something for my cardmaking, he didn't have to tell me twice lol! I went in to the Range to pick up some pads of coloured card and they had reduced lots of the Christmas dies to half price or less in the sale. All 3 Sue Wilson Festive dies were on my wish list but I didn't want to buy them at full price and was hoping for a bargain at some point or to pick them up second hand on ebay, so I snapped them up. The other two dies were new to me and I kind of liked them and the ideas they gave me for their use, not bad, 5 dies for less than £23 RRP around £56, I like bargains like that, don't you?

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Candles in the Wind

Apparently 2016 has been a really horrid year in terms of losing celebrities, there has been a steady stream of them since David Bowie's candle went out in January, the year seems to have taken a large number of celebrities from my generation, wind extinguishing famous lifes seems to have turned to a slight draft putting them out of the game of life. Back in August, Kenny Baker the man who brought R2D2 to the silver screen, one of the most famous robots in the universe died, I had the pleasure of meeting Kenny on a couple of occasions and thought he was a lovely man, but I didn't know him. The latest celebrity loss was Carrie Fisher yesterday, as a huge Star Wars fan, the death of an iconic character is hard, it made me sad that a light went out but I'm just a fan. Carrie was a mother, a daughter and so much more, her family and friends know the loss, what am I to her?

I'm just a 'fan', she didn't know me, same as so many other people, but I'm hearing lots of can't wait to see the back of 2016 comments, and comments that 2016 has taken too many famous people, the can't wait for 2017 to arrive, in the hope that their will be less celebrity death! Why are people wishing their life away? Yes we have seen a lot of iconic people die this year but many everyday people have died as well and whether we like it or not, the grim reaper comes for us all one day.Is this huge out pouring of bugger off 2016 really about the celeb's lost, or fear that you're close to their age and maybe it will be you next?

Losing public figures isn't going to get any better in 2017 and beyond, and no I haven't turned in to Mystic Meg, its a simple fact. We live in a time when we have many more 'stars' and celebrities than our great grandparents did, they had just a handful of iconic figures. Today we all too easily put people up on a pedestal, we even have A list stars, B list stars all the way to Z list stars, the number of 'famous' people seems to be climbing exponentially, so its only logical that their demise will follow the same trend, the more 'celebrities' we have, the more deaths we'll witness.

I remember back to August 16th 1977 when Elvis Presley died, the world stopped, Elvis was my first crush, I loved his music and his movies, it shook me to the core that such a famous person could die, at 13 in my innocence I thought if you were famous you lived longer. Then one month later on September 16th Marc Bolan was tragically taken from us in a car accident, both events were on the news, the radio and in the papers. The year of 1977 also took Bing Crosby, Charlie Chaplin, actress Joan Crawford to name but a few. 1987 wasn't any kinder, that year we lost Danny Kaye, Fred Astaire, Rita Heyworth, Lee Marvin, Liberace, Patrick Troughton, Andy Warhol, Fulton Mackay and John Huston and again many more.

So was 1997 any more gentle as far as celebrity deaths went? Nope, the reaper of that year took James Stewart, Robert Mitchum, Burgess Meredith, John Denver, Princess Diana, and Michael Hutchence. 2007 wasn't any kinder either, it took Deborah Kerr, Anton Rodgers, Jane Wyman, John Inman, Luciano Pavarotti, Marcel Marceau, Mike Reid and Ike Turner. All those people if they weren't iconic to you, they were iconic to your parents or grandparents.

If you look at the IMDB index for celebrity deaths 1967 it lists 1,190 celebrity deaths and if you're a 50 something like me you'll remember some of those celebrities who died that year like Jayne Mansfield, Vivien Leigh, Spencer Tracy, Basil Rathbone, Brian Epstein, Ann Sheridan, and Claude Rains, back in the days of 3 TV channels, no internet and not so many movies and TV shows being made we found ourselves watching the stars of our Grandparents and parents eras, like Gone with the Wind and Sherlock Holmes there weren't as many celebrities so when a star was eclipsed it was like a supernova, now its a damp squib, because before you've come to grips with their loss, the public are demanding to know who will be next?

We even have websites dedicating to predicting who will die in the year, check out the Deathlist, some people must be so proud of the fact that they cleverly predicted the death of Zsa Zsa Gabor, Muhammad Ali and Nancy Reagan, some people are even placing bets on which celebrity will die next, get a life people! As an aside the Deathlist rolls over to the following year until the famous person on the list dies and then they do a little post celebrating the fact that they got it right, eventually we all die, its not a thing to be triumphant about! ::facepalm::

In 1977 there were 1,331 celebrity deaths; 1987 = 1,704; 1997 = 2,076; 2007 = 3,283; 2016 so far 3,641. Now keep in mind that I've used IMDB and they list only people in the fields of movie, TV and music, so famous sports people and professionals like politicians aren't included. But thus far the decade of 2016 is 358 up on 2007 and there had been 1,207 more celebrity deaths in 2007 than in 1997 so this year hasn't been as bad as we think.

The point of this ramble? We live in a time when we have more celebrities than we did 50 years ago, reality TV stars and You-Tubers are quickly given celebrity status in our frenzy to escape our own lives that we perceive to be mundane and live vicariously through our celebrities. Heck even I've been stopped and asked for my autograph in a supermarket because I've been on Robot Wars, I don't consider myself a celebrity, but to a fan of the show I apparently am.

The more celebrities we have, and the more people are on the planet, coupled with having access to instant information about them, then 2017 onwards isn't going to go light on famous people popping their clogs, their will be more of them. So can we all get a collective grip and can we see less of the 'not cold yet, lets be the first to report they've died' kind of twitter tweets and facebook posts, to the extent that celebs are being reported as having died when they haven't. Lets stop subscribing to the death wish list that the media is pumping so it has something to report, its rather unnerving!

People die all the time, its a fact of life, and for every celebrity that has died, hundreds of everyday people have died whose name is known only by their family, and some don't even have that! A celebrity is a person just like you and me, in the rush to take selfie's with a star in the background, see photos of who they're dating, what they're eating etc we lose sight of that. We forget that somewhere and to someone they are just a person; they have/had parents, loved ones, pets and do mundane and ordinary things, their loss when they are gone though mourned by the public is no different than the loss felt by Eric the postman's family when he died, its a loss people and a bloody painful one whoever you are.

We need perspective and to stop dwelling on lives that stopped and look at those that soared in 2016, look at the positive things that happened in the world, outside the bubble of social media and the news empires pushing negative news and gloom and doom at us. Amazing things have been happening in the world, those same amazing things will continue in 2017 and will become more obvious if we stop looking for the doom and gloom and learn to look for the positive stuff that happens in the world. There will be new actors, new musicians, new sports stars, its the cycle of life that stops things becoming stale and allows for new talent and fresh approaches and ideas.

If 2016 has taught me anything its that life is nothing to be taken for granted, we should learn to cherish people whilst they are there, tell them what they mean to you, don't leave it unsaid because you think they know what you feel. Sometimes they don't, we're not all mind readers. Love is important, its the kind of love that we hold most sacred that defines us, for example, I love the music of Rush, I love chocolate but those forms of love pale in to insignificance compared to the love I have for Simon or my Dad. I will be sad when the members of Rush shuffle of this mortal coil, and if the world ran out of chocolate I may feel a bit bad for a while. But when I lose those people that I really love, that mean the world to me that's something to mourn. Let's put more love out in the world people, the planet and people need it!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Year of the Unicorn

2016 has been a very odd year for me and mine, it started with a call from Mentorn Media in January asking us if we wanted to be on the new series of Robot Wars and continued in pretty much the same fashion. More of that in a post I'll add to sum up the year towards the end of the month.

The year seemed to unfold like that pretty much for all of it, things we considered to be just dreams turned in to reality and it all culminated in October when my stepson announced that he and his girlfriend were going to have a baby. Which meant that I was going to become a Nanna, something I never thought was going to happen. In my head step parents didn't become grandparents. But apparently we do and I'm over the moon about it.

Consequently, the planned June 2017 wedding has been brought forward to January and the happy couple now get married on the 7th January which also happens to be my birthday! Not being able to have children of my own, I never thought that I'd have a son or a daughter. I got a son when I married Simon and next month I will finally get a daughter, in-law granted but it's the next best thing, and the bonus is she makes my stepson very happy, what more could a mother want? My future DIL has two children already aged 5 and 7 and we get to be Grandparents to them as well. The whole thing has given Christmas this year some sparkle and magic that had faded as my stepson and my niece and nephews have gotten older, and yes I'm looking at pink and blue baby things waiting to hear if we'll have a grandson or daughter so I can buy a few little things.

When I saw the Lawn Fawn 'Winter Unicorn' stamp and die set I knew that I wanted to make my hubby his Christmas card based around it, he sings that song to me albeit badly every year and throw in the unicorn after the year we've had and it was meant to be. The card base was made along the same lines as the Deer Christmas Easel Card I posted about a few weeks ago, the difference being I made it in to a shaker card for a bit of added sparkle. I die cut two lots of the Lawn Fawn Stitched Snowflake set and glued them to the shaker frame and card base and added a pale blue gem to the centre of each snowflake. I also matted the top and base on silver mirror card that I die cut with one of the Scalloped Circle Layering Die Set dies by Tonic Studios.

I've made some progress on my 365 days challenge as well, I've made the two cards above using Bebunni toppers I printed off from my PC using the Bebunni Christmas Papercrafting CD I got cheap in the sales last year. The backing papers came from the same CD, I'd printed off a lot of the toppers and they were in a box under the bed, waiting to be used. The snowflake panel on the bluey coloured card was in my 'Maybe Someday' box, its a piece of coredinations card that I embossed and sanded but then decided I didn't want to use it on the project I was working on at the time.

The sentiments are leftover from d├ęcoupage sheets, the silver snowflakes were also in the MS box, they were left over from another project earlier this year. The holly leaves were die cut from a die in the Xcut Poinsettia die set, using dark green card, I folded the leaves down the centre to create a spine and rolled a pencil underneath them to create a 'curl'. The final touch was covering the leaves with a coat of Spectrum Clear Sparkle pen, I love those pens so much. The berries were created using 'Ruby Slippers' Nuvo Glitter Drops. I'd made a batch ahead of time so I just had to glue them in place.

The challenge is progressing well, with the two above and the snowman card I posted about the other day I have 3 projects complete and I've sorted out all the stamps and dies I want to use into a box. I've gathered items like backing papers I've printed out, and paper pads I want to use together and have begun work on two other cards with things I found in my MS box. I've stamped and coloured some cute Lawn Fawn Christmas images for other cards, and I've made a start on the gifting goal as well by cutting out a set of 12 gift tags. I need to finish the topper section, glue them together and add some twine or ribbon to them, but its a start.

I've also started making a gift set of 'Colour Me' Notecards after seeing a fab idea on Jennifer McGuire's blog the other week. I'm hoping that I can find some good pen sets in the January sales to add to the gifts, I have some friends that are mad for the adult colouring craze at the moment, so the idea would make a perfect gift for them! The cards have the floral element stamped on them, I just need to add a sentiment and they will be done, I can't decide if I should stamp, stamp and emboss or use a die cut at the minute. I also made a start on a couple of bookmarks, I thought I'd make a card with a bookmark attached and put a book token or voucher inside for some of the teenagers. So even though I haven't got many physical items completed currently, real progress is being made.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Snowflake Sparkle Christmas Set

I saw an article in issue 155 of Simply Cards & Papercraft by Sue Wilson on using the Cosmic Shimmer Pixie Powders and an assortment of Creative Expressions dies to create some stunning cards, the same cards from the article are on Sue's Particraft Blog. I did have all the Pixie Powder colours Sue used which were Midnight Blue, Peacock Green and Teal Wash but hadn't got round to using them. I didn't have all the dies Sue used though, so I used some snowflake dies that I did have which were a combination of XCut 'Snowflakes' and Crafters Companion Die'sire 'Snowflakes' dies and improvised. The end results were similar to the cards that Sue created and I'm really pleased with how they came out.

Amazingly the 6 cards I created above have elements/panels made from 1 A4 sheet of white card that I gave the Pixie Powder treatment to, nothing was wasted, even the trimmings were used to punch small stars from and were used on another card. In all I made 2 sheets but created another set of cards with the other piece.

The photos don't do the mica element of the pixie powders any justice, in real life the colours are stunning. I've since bought more colours plus all the new colours recently released. I'll be playing with them more over the holidays.

I cut the A4 sheet in to 4 x A6 pieces and cut a large snowflake into 3 of them, the fourth A6 piece I die cut 6 smaller snowflakes from. I used the Sue Wilson 'Frosty Swirls' embossing folder to emboss my A5 white card blanks and added a piece of white glitter card to the centre of two of the cards and I full silver mat to the third. I used Versamark and Cosmic Shimmer Detail True White embossing powder to heat embossed a sentiment on two of the cards using a stamp that came free with another magazine. Then I used foam tape to add the pixie powdered panels to the cards and added a smaller snowflake to the centre of the card and a small aqua blue gem to the centre.

On some of the cards I added a die cut 'Sparkle' sentiment in either white glitter card or silver mirror card, this was cut using a die from the Tonic Studios 'Girls Night Out Sparkle and Shine Die Set'.  The snowflakes that were cut out for the portrait cards were used to make a couple of landscape cards, the snowflakes were simply glued to the card after it had been embossed.

It seemed like a shame to waste any of the pieces so I decided to make a third landscape card using the 'waste' panel from cutting the snowflakes for the other cards. I made all 6 cards in under 2 hours which included making the pixie powdered paper. I've already made a few more pixie powder sheets which need to be die cut to make another set, these will go in my 2017 pile. I just love the rich and vibrant results you can achieve from the pixie powders, coupled with the fact that you can also use a small amount to create lighter effects. They team really well with brusho powders and color burst powders as well, more experiments to follow, watch this space!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

365 Plus Days to Christmas - 2017 Challenge

I just about managed to make all the cards I needed this year, but I didn't get any made for the Cats Protection which made me sad. So I've decided that during 2017 I'm going to set myself a challenge of creating 365 or more Christmas items throughout the year, be that cards, gift tags or gifts. I won't necessarily be making a Christmas card every day, some days I'll do batches of cards of the easy to mass produce kind.

By the end of the year I should have more than enough cards for me and to give to the Cats Protection for their annual Christmas Fair, enough gift tags to not have to resort to buying them and some unique gifts for friends and family as well.

Something in me kind of thinks that Christmas cards can only be made from October to December, but it occurred to me today that its my craft room, my craft blog, my time and I make the rules! Besides I have so much Christmas stash in the form of paper pads, dies and stamps it will take me a year or more to get through all the ideas I have.

I think the challenge will also be an excellent way of using up things from my 'Maybe Someday' box, the above project is the first item for the challenge, it uses up the snowman image I made when I did a lot of the images for cards last month, and also some Christmas trees I made well over 12 months ago that just sat in a bag in the MS box.

It's another stepper card, something else I started making in 2016 along with easel cards, I just love the fact that by changing the shape and style of the card blank, it can make a huge difference to the card. The Presscut Stepper Card die I use, comes with the pieces to cut the decorative centre and the side pieces that go on the respective panels, and you can cut the card blank in any colour card you wish. For this card, after I'd die cut the decorative pieces and then coloured them part way with Tumbled Glass distress ink, I then but the pieces in my Crafters Companion 'Elegant Snowfall' folder to give a textured look to the pieces.

I die cut two pieces of white glitter card with one of the Lawn Fawn 'Stitched Borders' dies to make a snow bank and attached them to the base of the card, trimming off any over hand from the edges of the card, and tucked the Christmas trees behind the banks. The sentiment is cut from the some plain white card using the Sue Wilson 'Starry Merry Christmas' die and I gave it a light coat of clear Spectrum Sparkle pen.

The finishing touch was a few white 'snowball' pom poms from my stash, I picked a bag up last year for 49p should be enough to make 15 - 25 cards depending how many I use. My hubby gave me the idea, when I showed him the card, he said something was missing and suggested snowballs, and I think they really do finish the card of nicely!

I certainly have lots of stash to use up and ideas so hopefully I'll achieve my goal, 1 down now 364 to go. I'm actually looking forward to the challenge and at least this way, I won't be panicking and my cards etc will all be made before Christmas 2017, well that's the theory! Lets see how I do!