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Thursday, 11 May 2017

ATC Watery Inspiration

I haven't made any ATC's for a while, but I joined a facebook group set up by the wonderful Jodie Johnson and she recently set up an ATC Swap with Jodie group after the success of the Tonic Studios ATC die launch, although you don't have to use the dies to be part of the group.

The theme for the first swap was anything goes, its really about getting people new to the medium playing and sharing their creations, so without a theme and having elected to send 2 ladies an ATC I sat for ages scratching my head and no clue what to make, then I had a brain wave (yes gentle reader it does happen sometimes lol!) I decided to get out all my 'small' stamps, dies and bits that would be perfect for ATC making and went through my Maybe Someday box and found scraps of paper I'd coloured the background on the 'Dancing in the Rain' ATC and the ferny seaweed on the 'Mermazing' ATC were left over scraps of pieces I'd coloured for other projects.

As I went through my stamps I came across an Altenew set called 'Dancing in the Rain' that I "just had to have" last year and shamefully until this ATC I'd never used it! As an aside this ATC group has made me take a look at my stash and also do a little bit of a clear out as a result.

For the first of my two ATC creations I knew that I wanted to use the little girl dancing, raindrops and "Happy Rainy Day" sentiment stamps from that set, the images in it and the sentiments are perfect for ATC and will be appearing on other ATC's in the future.

The background is a remnant from a cat in the window autumn card I did last year. The scrap wasn't big enough to be a full ATC on its own, hence backing it on to silver foiled card the correct size which for those not familiar with ATC is 2.5" x 3.5" or 64 mm × 89 mm if you do metric.

From what I can gather some people don't mind a little over hang, others keep strictly to the standard ATC size so they will fit in plastic folder pockets in an album, for the same reason lots of people don't like too much dimension and height on the ATC as they won't fit in an ATC plastic pocket. That said, there are only 2 official rules for ATC's that they are 2.5" x 3.5" and that they are only ever swapped/traded and never sold.

For those interested my background scrap was done with distress inks on a piece of Neenah Solar White cardstock which was then spritzed with some gold shimmer mist. To make the ATC, I inked up the rain drop stamp with Versamark and stamped on to the piece, having first used my powder tool to prevent any sticky finger marks, then I covered the stamped raindrops with silver detail embossing powder and heat set it. I put the panel in my MISTI again and positioned the little girl where I wanted to be then inked up the stamp with My favorite Things 'Black Licorice' Hybrid ink and stamped the girl where I wanted her.

I'd forgotten that an embossed image would resist the ink, but in this case it was a happy accident because I found I liked the raindrops being visible over the girl, looking more realistic in my humble opinion :) I covered the black ink with clear embossing powder to seal the ink and created a raised shine. The final touches were to heat emboss the sentiment with the same silver embossing powder on to a piece of powder blue vellum and attach that to the back of the panel. I rounded the corners of both the stamped panel and the silver backing piece and glued them together. I decided to add the swirls which I cut from the same silver cardstock using some small Xcut dies that came free with 'Creativity' magazine called 'Flourishes'. I was a happy bunny with the finished result and it was time to move on to the next one.

If I'm honest this one was hard to part with, when I finished it I was happy with the result and I'm chuffed to report the lady I sent it to really liked it as well :) I didn't manage to capture gold mirror card or embossing very well on this one due to the rubbish lighting in my room. I really must make a light box!

The image was in my MSD box and comes from my Crafters Companion 'Flights of Fantasy' CD, I use this one a lot as it has some lovely fairy and enchanted images. The sentiment was done with Versamark again and WOW Metallic Rich Gold Super Fine embossing powder using the sentiment from my Hero Arts 'Color Layering Goldfish' set. The gold embossed 'rocks' are also from that set and after die cutting them out I went over the piece with some 'Gathered Twigs' Distress Ink to colour the background like sand.

I found scraps for the 'seaweed' also in my MSD left over from some distress ink backgrounds I used to make the herbal cards last year and a scrap from some green pixie powdered papers I used for the background on the leaves on my Pixie Powdered Roses cards. Pleased I kept them now, and there are more where they came from!

I used 2 of the dies from my Tattered Lace Paradise Ferns set that I got for £5 earlier this year because I don't have any seaweed dies and I wanted to add some greenery to the ATC. After attaching the image to the mirror card, I glued down the 'seaweed' and trimmed off any over hang.

The final touch for this 'Mermazing' ATC was to use a couple of small 3D foam pads to raise the height of the 'rocks' slightly and to glue on a couple of clear Nuvo Crystal Drops that I'd made previously. I'm finding it better to make the drops ahead of time in different sizes and store for future use, that way you can get the right size and you just glue them on, and you don't have to wait several hours for the crystal drops to dry if your impatient like me lol!

I now have a set of drawers full of ATC bits and bobs and a notebook where I've started writing down ideas, I may have already added a few ideas to a board on Pinterest as well. I'm looking forward to making more and taking part in more swaps in the future, just need to finish sorting the stash and then I can get cracking making new ATC's to my hearts content.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Creating Craft Foam Flowers

I've been captivated by the gorgeous flowers I've people making with a new (to me at least) material called Foamiran, which by all accounts is a very fine foam which is around 0.6mm thick and comes in A4 sheets, it can also come in 0.8mm thick sheets as well. It comes in a good range of colours and varies in price from around 99p. The Foamiran can be cut by hand using templates, or you can run it through a die cutting machine.

There are loads of YouTube videos showing the flowers being made using specialist dies and by hand, they can be coloured using lots of mediums to give the flowers some dimension. Check out Emilia Sieradzan blog for the low down on Everything You Need to Know to Make Foamiran flowers.

Making the exquisite creations is definitely on my crafting horizon but I have lots of things that I want to get this month with my craft allowance and more materials for new hobbies like the Rosy Owl dies and sheets of foamiran are not on this months crafty shopping list, that said I did want to have a play. So I decided to look and see what I had and see if I could make flowers with stuff from my existing stash.

In my stash I had some A5 sheets of pastel coloured craft foam that is 2mm thick and a large variety of flower dies to play with, I knew that the flowers I made would be a lot thicker than the Foamiran flowers but I decided to go for it anyway.

The first foam flower I made yesterday using my Sheena Douglass 'Wild Rose' die from Crafters Companion. The flowers were stuck together with a hot glue gun and I used Altenew dye ink to add some highlights to the stamen and petals. Sadly the ink smeared very easily and didn't colour the foam as I wanted it to. I also made the bee using a new die I treated myself to from Hobbycraft, more on that in a future post.

The centre of the rose I added a dot of 'Orange Soda' Nuvo Glitter Drops to add a touch of bling, I layered the large rose up with 3 lots of die cut petals and the smaller rose with 2, in hindsight it would have been better to just use 2 on both flowers. People who stamp the rose and doe cut mostly use just one layer, but I wanted to add more dimension. My first attempt wasn't too bad, but I wanted to make more flower shapes and try colouring the petals in other ways.

The pieces to make the flowers in the first photo were each die cut and then coloured and finally I used a Tonic Studios Floral Crafters Tool (12mm-8mm size) to round and curl the petals, it works on foam but not as well as on paper, below I've listed the dies and colours used : -

Purple Daisy - Cut from lilac craft foam and consists of 2 layers of the same size pieces, cut using dies from the Xcut 'Petal Posy' die set, plus a stamen cut from the stamen die in the Wild Rose die set above.  I coloured the petals with a 'Grape' Gelato and also a 'Metallic Purple' Gelato, the stamen I coloured with Metallic Gold and when the flower was glued together I finished it off with some 'Purple Rain' Nuvo Glitter Drops.

Yellow Marguerite - Cut from cream craft foam using dies from the Crafters Companions Floral Delight 'Pretty Petals' set in both sizes. I used a 'Lemon' Gelato to colour the petals to be more yellow in colour and once glued together I added 'Honey Gold' Nuvo Glitter Drops to the centre.

Pink Hollyhock - Cut from pastel pink craft foam using 3 different sizes of die from my Leane Creatief Multi Die 005, I used a 'Metallic Red' Gelato to colour the edges and finished off with 'Sherbert Shimmer' Nuvo Glitter Drops.


Marigold - Cut from peach coloured craft foam, I used the other flower petal shape from the Crafters Companions Floral Delight 'Pretty Petals' set to cut both sizes of petals. The centre of the marigold was finished off with 'Orange Soda' Nuvo Glitter Drops like the Wild Rose and I used a 'Mango' Gelato to colour the edges of the petals.

Forget-Me-Not - This was the only flower that I did as a single using the small and medium dies from my Crafters Companion Floral Delight 'In Bloom' set. I edged these with a little 'Blueberry' Gelato and finished the centres off with some 'Dandelion Yellow' Nuvo Crystal Drops.

As I took the photos of these flowers, I was still waiting for the Nuvo drops to dry, when the centres are completely dry I will cut some greenery from card and use the flowers on some projects I have planned. Whilst my craft foam flowers aren't as delicate and lifelike as the Foamiran flowers, they are usable for decorating cards and other items. I have a few other flower dies sets that I can play with next and lots of leaf and greenery shapes so I should get some good effects.

I found the best way to add the gelato to the petals was to use a baby wipe, just run it across your gelato stick and then 'paint' your petal. I have seen people colouring Foamiran with Distress Inks, I've not tried that yet medium on craft foam yet, I will and update this post if it works. The foam flowers have a nice soft velvet like texture to them and go together very quickly once you've cut, coloured and shaped the petals. I can see me making more of these even after I get my hands on Foamiran. I'm pleased that I managed to create something with what I had in, rather than buying lots of new things.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Distressed Enchantment

It's May already, ummm where did April go? I had so many good intentions of posting about cards I'd made, but I failed to do it, mostly because I was busy working on the garden and off visiting places and people, we also seem to have sorted out the problem of the noisy neighbour, its coming up to two weeks since it came to a head and so far she's been quiet. I can't tell you what a difference that has made to my state of mind the relief is huge.

I hope you've all had a lovely bank holiday weekend? We went to Mablethorpe for a few days visiting the Seal Sanctuary there and we went to a couple of National Trust places as well and saw the most beautiful exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite art by the De Morgan's, Evelyn De Morgan being my favourite Pre-Raphaelite artist so it was a joy to stand in front of her painting called 'Flora' this weekend and get to study every exquisite detail.

I walked in to the room and actually said WOW! as I entered, I didn't expect to come face to face with so many of the paintings that I've admired for so long, and having the time to look at every detail and brush stroke was a real treat, its filled me with floral ideas for cards for the future and yes I'll be going back to the exhibition at Wightwick Manor again.

It's a co-production between the National Trust and the De Morgan Foundation that will run for 10 years and each year from what the lady I spoke to said, items will change. I have to say that Wightwick is already one of my favourite NT places to visit, and we go at least twice a year, but I can see me going back a lot more times than that over the next 10 years. #lovedemorgan

Okay my art fan girl thing aside I'll get to what most of you are here for, and talk about the cards I recently created, I was chuffed when I saw what the free stamp set with issue 42 of Creative Stamping was full of enchanted fantasy characters like knights, princesses, dragons, unicorns and even a fairy tale castle to boot. The set also contains playing cards and and other elements and lots of useful sentiments.

When I got my copy I immediately started to play with the set stamping the Unicorn on to white card and colouring it in with my Zig brush pens. Then yesterday I decided to have a play with my new Distress Oxide inks. By the end of the evening I'd created 3 A6 cards in bright colours for my box.

I started by creating backgrounds with the Distress Oxides laying down bands of colour that blend so easily. Once I had the colours I wanted I placed some masks over the inked panels and sprayed water on to the unmasked area. I left it a few minutes then used some kitchen roll to blot up the excess water, this created the lighter pattern on the background. During this exercise, I realised that most of my masks were Christmas or cat orientated so I had a limited selection, which has now been rectified thanks to Ebay lol!

I removed the masks and left the pieces to dry completely, then I die cut the panels with a stitched edge die and placed the panels in my new Tim Holtz Stamping platform, I used a powder tool first then stamped the images with Versamark and heat embossed in white and gold.

Once the image was heat set I used some bleach in a water brush pen to change the colour of the oxide inks to make the images pop, when the bleached area was dry I added some shimmer pen to finish. I used the sentiments from the set and heat embossed each one on to some vellum strips and finished with some sequins from my stash.

I love this stamp set so much, and know that it will get lots of use, I've already created some different styles of toppers since I got the set, I may be a little addicted, especially to the unicorn. The stamp sets with Creative Stamping  just keep getting better, in the future I'd love to see some cat and kitten stamps, and maybe a signs of the zodiac set with some month sentiment stamps. I can't wait to make more cards using this set, I will certainly be making more distressed backgrounds using the oxide inks as well. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Wreath of Roses Cards

I think I'll have to change the name of my blog to 'Just Another Floral' or something, I'm sorry but not sorry for the influx of floral images about to come this blogs way but hey ho, its my blog and I'm indulging in a little paper gardening. I blame Tara over at Seven Hills Crafts for getting lots of lovely floral stamps and dies, the latest to fall in to my basket and join my craft stash is this lovely little 'Wreath of Roses' stamp and die from Lil'Inker Designs.

I've discovered that the best way to use this set, is to first die cut the shape, then put the card piece you die cut from and the shape in to a stamping tool like the MISTI, line up the stamp and stamp the image exactly where you want it. I did try stamping first then die cutting but the die is solid so you can't see if you are lining up properly and my image wasn't accurately lined up so pieces got chopped off flowers.

I think I'm having a bit of a light and dark phase at the moment, maybe something to do with the days getting lighter after winter or maybe my brain wants creative contrast. Suffice to say when I make a light version of a card, I can't help but wonder what it would look like if it was done in darker tones?

First the light card, I used two elements from my MSD box for this card, the wood-grain effect panel was done with a Darice Wood Grain embossing folder and was intended for a christmas card background but I decided to go with something else so in my Maybe Some Day Box the panel sat along with the white frame cut from an Avery Elle die set called 'Scalloped Pierced Rectangles', which I confess to being disappointed with because I didn't realise it cut a thin frame, I expected it to cut solid pieces, but hey ho!

The frame from my box even had 3D foam pads on ready to use, I cut it for a card but wasn't happy with the design, so in my box the frame went. I trimmed the wood grain panel down a little and fixed it to a 5" x 7" white card blank and added the white frame. The rose wreath on this card was coloured with my Zig Clean Color Real Brush pens which I adore, I haven't got the shading technique quiet right, but I'm getting there and loving the vibrant results I get using them. I added some shimmer with a Spectrum Noir Clear Sparkle Pen, the effect in real life is amazing, it really does give an added dimension to your creations.

I added a sentiment from the Wreath of Roses stamp set on to a scarp of white card that was cut to fit across the back of the wreath by 2/3rds. As an aside the stamp set comes with 8 different sentiments and the die wreath has the word 'hello' with it. I added the wreath to the sentiment card with 3D foam pads and attached the wreath to the wood grain panel with more 3D foam pads so that the leaves from a couple of parts of the wreath overhung the scalloped frame et voila!

As I pointed out earlier in the post when I make a light coloured card, I'm wanting to make a darker version and this is the darker version of the wreath of roses card. I created the background last week when I was experimenting with Nuvo Mousse -further details can be found in my Proud as a Peacock post from the other day.

To create the embossed panel the shades of Nuvo Mousse used were 'Aubergine' added all over a piece of black card as described in my previous post. Once I had enough coverage I embossed the panel using the 'Rose Garden' embossing folder from Crafters Companion Shabby Chic range. I then used a mini blending tool to apply some 'Peony Pink' Nuvo Mousse to the raised areas to bring out the detail.

I used the same technique to make the wreath panel as I did for the light version, colouring the wreath on this card with metallic gelatos, I bought them last Summer on my holidays but only got round to using them this weekend! I loved the results though so I expect I'll be using them a lot more in the future ;)

I made my own card blank from a piece of the same black card I made the wreath panel from and decided to round off the bottom corners of the embossed panel and the card blank for added interest. I think the end result is rather effective and the light and dark versions of the card have their own merits, but I love the darker version the most. What about you do you prefer the light or the dark version? More from me soon when I'll be continuing to explore my darker side, until then happy creating, keep well and stay safe!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Proud As A Peacock...

I'm really pleased with the way this card turned out, and its the first of what will be a long line of peacock cards that I'll be creating over the next few months, not because I've acquired this die, but because I've been acquiring lots of peacock related stash from embossing folders to stamps, dies and paper backgrounds.

It seems I have some affinity with the peacock, although I'm not sure what or how aside from the fact that the stunning colours that they display has appealed to me since I was a young girl.

The die on this card is another of my cheap Demiawaking bargain dies from Amazon its a lot like the Tattered Lace Peacock die but the Demiawaking Peacock is just £2.99 with free postage. It took a little while to arrive but the cash saving was so worth the wait.  It's different insomuch as the tail on the TL die is longer and points to the left and the the beak and feather crest are more elaborately defined, but for a saving of around £16 I don't mind the detail not being as good. I have to point out that the TL die that is similar to the cheaper one is now retired by TL and they've replaced it with a different peacock which in my opinion isn't as nice.

On to the actual card construction now, I've added 10 different colours of Nuvo Mousse by Tonic Studios to my stash over the past few months, but as yet hadn't played with them. I have seen other people use them including Christine Smith from Crafti Potential and decided I wanted to create some of the lovely silky metallic goodness they seemed capable of, and I wasn't disappointed. I love adding texture to my cards, so I often use embossing folders and I like to add some metallic shimmer and until now have used gilding wax to achieve the result like on these fairy cards I made last year, but as pretty as the effect is, its a bit uneven. The beauty of Nuvo Mousse is it can be used in so many different ways, as a wash, a paint even put in a spray bottle to make a shimmery mist.

I started with a piece of white card in the case of the wood-grain and feather backgrounds and used black card for the rose and script panels. I applied the Nuvo Mousse using a mini blending tool - the kind used for distress inks - it went on smoothly, some colours I noticed seem to sink in to the card a little more than others, but I think that was down to the cardstock I was using.

For the peacock feather background I first applied a band of 'Spring Green' Nuvo Mousse followed by 'Aquamarine' finishing with 'Pacific Teal' blending each colour in to the next to create a smooth blended look. I then let the panel dry, it dries very quickly but if you're impatient, you can use a heat gun to dry the mousse off. Once dry I ran the panel through my Big Shot inside a Crafters Companion embossing folder from the Kimono range aptly called 'Peacock Feathers'. I went over the embossed area with a little 'Peacock Feathers' distress ink to help bring out the pattern on the feathers even more.

I knew from the start I wanted to give the die some colour and I'd been saving something for just the right purpose and I'm rather pleased with the result. I can't take the credit for the idea I picked it up from my card making friend Jackie Trinder from Tiny Rose's Craft Room who makes some fabulous cards. I think Jackie may have got the idea from someone else, that's how this crafting lark works, we learn from each other. When I first read what Jackie wrote, I could have kicked myself as I'd been throwing this things away for ages!

And what was my light bulb moment? Don't throw away paper towels that you use to clean up inky messes generated when you clean your craft mat after making inky messes using things like Pixie Powders that have mica powders in them.

Instead put the paper towels to dry and use them to back die cuts, or glue them to the front of a card and then embossed it to create a really fun card that looks like you've used a piece of fabric. Simples!

The end results are fabulous, I have a box now, full of paper towels pieces in an array of colours some single colours, others in multi coloured tones like this one that I used for the feather background.  To add the coloured piece to the gold foiled card die cut I traced round the die cut with a pen and cut the shape out. Then I added glue to the back of the die cut and put the coloured panel in place and trimmed it to the exact shape where there was any over hang.

If you hold the peacock up to the light the effect is stunning, almost stained glass like, I've tried die cutting the paper towels and whilst it will cut in basic shapes like circles and squares, some of the more intricate detailed dies don't have the pressure required the paper towel doesn't always cut.

I made my own card blank from a piece of dual coloured card from a 12" x 12" pad from The Range and cut a circle from the lighter side to emboss a sentiment from the Wild Rose Studios 'Circle Greetings' stamp set using Metallic Gold Super Fine WOW embossing powder, which seems to be my embossing powder of choice at the moment. I backed the sentiment on to a piece of gold card the same as the die cut after die cutting it out with a die from the Presscut 'Round Dies Stitched Holes' set.

After adding the sentiment I thought that the card still needed something, I tried adding some white feathers I bought for another card but they were too big, then I remembered a die set of small feathers I got recently by EK Success from their Cutter Bee range and after colouring a scrap of white card with some more 'Pacific Teal' Nuvo Mousse, I die cut a couple of the smaller feathers from the set and attached them with a little glue under the sentiment. To finish the card, I added a small blueish green coloured gem to the peacock's eye and there it was my first peacock card of the year created.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Altenew Build A Flower - Camellia

I'm not sure if its due to the herbaholic in me, but whatever the reason is, I think its obvious to note that I adore floral stamps and images. This makes me a big fan of Altenew who make some absolutely stunning floral stamps, many of which have matching dies.

I was thrilled to discover last month that they were introducing Altenew Build A Flower, a monthly set on floral dies and stamps that can only be bought as a set. The first flower to the collection is the Camellia a single bloom that measures approx 8.5 x 7.5cm in size and is stamped in 3 layers.

The set includes a triple leaf stamp again with 3 layers, in the cards I've created with the image I've done the top layer in a darker contrasting ink colour and also using gold embossing powder, I love both effects but think that the gold embossed card looks more regal and would be perfect for special occasion cards. Although I must admit to liking to add gold embossing and splashes of gold to lots of my projects.

The set also comes with 2 sentiments as can be seen on the Altenew product photo here and also on my other card images below. I've been a fan of Altenew now a year or more, I'd seen photos of the products prior to getting a free small rose and Altenew die stamp from Simply Cards & Papercraft last year. But I wasn't sure I'd be able to stamp the images accurately and line everything up.

As it turned out I wasn't 100% accurate, you can see some of the cards I created using the freebie here, but the beauty of these layering stamps is they are very forgiving, and if you don't get it spot on it doesn't matter, if nature things are not always picture perfect! I quickly ordered the Vintage Roses and Beautiful Day sets and have since acquired more Altenew stamp and die sets, even buying some none floral, because I love the quality of the stamps and the beautiful images.

I can see me getting lots of use out of each of the Build a Flower sets, flowers can be used to decorate cards for many occasions and if you use fabric paints, you can use the stamps to decorate fabrics, something I plan on doing in the not too distant future with a selection of archival inks. I've yet to make a card with more than one of the camellia images on, I think being a large bold flower you can get away with just 1 image which makes creating lots of cards a doddle.

I used my MISTI to stamp the images, to save having to keep moving the stamp, I cut some white card in to 9cm x 9cm pieces and worked through stamping all the base layers in one colour, then switching to the next colour and moving on to the second and third layers. Doing this means you only have to align the stamp once making it easier and quicker to stamp lots of the images in one go.

I used Altenew inks to stamp my images, not that I'm a fan girl or anything, I love the fact that Altenew inks come in cube sets that contain light, medium and dark shades of ink that contrast making them ideal for stamping layered images. I used the Red Cosmos and Green Fields ink cube sets for the red camellia card, and Rose Petal and Tropical Forest sets for the pink colour way and Tropical Forest again for the leaves on the peachy orange card and the Warm and Cozy ink cube set to create the orange camellia.


The cards themselves came together really quickly after I'd stamped and die cut the camellia's out, and I have lots more camellias ready to use on other cards. For the card in the main photo I used a card blank from my Maybe Someday box, when I was making the wedding invitations for my stepson, I embossed lots of patterns until I found the one I truly liked, those discarded cards with embossed patterns not right for the invites went in my MSD box for use at another point. I love that when I need something to cement an idea in place, I can dip in to that box and come up trumps.

The embossing folder I used on a 6" x 6" white card blank is by X-Cut and is called "Square Gilt Frame", I think it makes a stunning frame for a clean and simple card. I added the camellia on foam pads to give it some dimension and glued the 3 sets of leaves direct to the card, I finished the design off with a sentiment die cut from gold foiled card using one of the dies from the Paper Smooches Love and Cherish die set. For the other two cards I used some papers from a Wild Rose Studios paper pad called 'Peach Blossom' that I got free when I subscribed to a magazine a couple of years ago, the colours were perfect for the cards I wanted to create.


The stamped edged panel was created with one of my recent bargains found on Amazon, nesting die sets good quality at cheap prices. The postage stamp style set is known as a Square Wave Frame and cost me £3.99 with free postage, not bad for a set of 6 dies where the largest is 12cm x 12cm and the smallest 2cm x 2cm. They cut beautifully as well, and are very strong and sturdy. I have bought from two companies so far Demiawaking and CalistoUK, of the two I've bought mostly from Demiawaking, CalistoUK takes forever to get your items to you, but I could have just been unlucky. There are lots of sets available, I have to say that I've bough some of the expensive Avery Elle and My Favorite Things dies and these cheap one cut just as well.

That said on the waved border dies, one of the dies isn't cut properly so the edge is flawed, but you have to be looking for it to notice and for £2.99 for a set of 4 dies as opposed to £12 or more for a set of 3 similar dies by Lawn Fawn the saving is worth it, if it means that I have more money in my pocket to indulge my passion for florals. Like anything its buyer beware, not all of the dies are good quality, but if you read reviews and ask around you can weed out the good from the bad.

I'm already anticipating the next Build a Flower release which is a gorgeous large Aster image, this one comes with 4 sentiments, I can't wait to play with this beauty, and I'm really looking forward to what the next 10 months with bring in terms of floral images from one of my fav stamp and die companies.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

All Occassion Roses


I mentioned in my previous post how I was a little bit of a rose addict, this upon reflection isn't really an exaggeration, says she sat wearing rose scented perfume, with a rose candle burning and a cat called Rosie sat on her lap all snug and comfy, after coming in from the garden checking what needs doing to all the rose bushes out there, me not Rosie lol! The only thing  I don't have yet are rose tinted spectacles, but there's time and I do need to make an opticians appointment this week lol! I love herbs and flowers and as roses count as herbs due to their myriad of medicinal, cosmetic and culinary uses they have become my favourite herb as well, I make wine and vinegar from the petals and lots of other rose infused products, like rose petal sugar for baking. If people are interested I'll share some recipes and history?


Back to card making, I needed some late night crafting therapy last week, I'm at that funny age that gets called the menopause and is often spoken about in whispers. I've been very lucky so far, and escaped with very few menopause symptoms, one issue I do have though is suffering from crazy sleep patterns, sometimes my body refuses to get tired until 4am in the morning which is an actual pain.

So instead of fretting about not sleeping, I've started stamping or colouring pre-stamped images ready for using on future projects. This level of stamping is enough to keep me occupied without making too much noise, so I don't keep Simon awake and it furnishes me with things to turn in to projects like in the first photo.

I'm using my MISTI stamping tool a lot more these days, I stamp several sheets at a time with a leaf then move it along and stamp more until the A5 sheet is full and I have several sheets of each image I want to die cut. Doing it this way saves a lot of lining up, once you have the first image in position then on the rest of the sheets the images will be in the exact same place.

I decided to make several sets of cards to sell, I say to sell but not to make a profit, I'm just covering the cost of materials, plus every set of cards sold I give £2 to my local Cats Protection. People have been asking to buy cards I make for a while and I've done a few commissions but so far I haven't sold cards.

The rose and leaves are from an Altenew stamp and die set called 'Beautiful day', I stamped each image using Altenew Crisp Ink cubes, they stamp a little splotchy but they even out as they dry to give wonderful results. I've collected so far 11 of the 15 sets of ink cubes that Altenew have released, if you're interested in which colours I used for any particular rose leave me a comment and I'll let you know.

In the image at the beginning of this post the photo shows a few cards where the outline of the stamp was done with Versamark ink and Gold embossing powder, but for these cards I decided to stamp the outline with black ink. I used 'Black Licorice' My Favorite Things Hybrid Ink, it gives lovely crisp images and I can use it with my Zig brush pens and the ink doesn't bleed.

The roses were added to the centre panels using 3D foam pads, regular readers of my blog will have noted that I once again have made use of 2 of the dies from the Tonic Studios Sew Pretty - Have A Beautiful Day Circle Frame. I've used it on a far few cards now, its so versatile. My sentiment banners were all made using the Hero Arts 'Ribbon Messages Stamp & Cut' set and were stamped with Black Onyx Versafine ink. I used pre-made card blanks with a scalloped edge the ones I used this time were 5" x 5" and come with envelopes.

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 :)