Thursday, 16 May 2019

Just Mermazing

Warm sunshine greetings everyone that takes the time to have a read of my blog, I truly appreciate you stopping by and love reading your comments on the posts I make, it makes me feel like I'm not alone 😘
I use this blog like a kind of journal, for every day stuff occasionally, but mostly for my crafting stuff because it helps me remember how I did something and more importantly WHEN I did it which is useful as projects go like this one.

I made the backgrounds on these cards at the beginning of April, I needed to do something crafty but as seems to happen a lot lately I didn't have a clear idea of what I wanted to do, so I got out some bits and just had a play. Having acquired a new stencil at the time I decided that I wanted to play with my VersaFine Clair inks using them for blending techniques rather than just for stamping.

Stupid I know but I've only recently realised that you can do blending and smooshing with inks other that Distress Inks and Oxides lol! So I made several backgrounds like this using a different combination of colours and put them to one side. I tried adding some big bold sentiments to them but it didn't look right, so they went in my maybe someday box along with some other panels I made during the same fiddling and faffing session that used a new Stampin Up stencil, VersaFine Clair inks again, and some Nuvo 'Moonstone' Glimmer Paste.

I used a My Favorite Things stamp set called "Mermazing" to stamp the cute little mermaids and the seaweed bits behind the sentiment, but I haven't got the matching die set so I had to fussy cut the mermaids out the best I could, I then went around the edge with a Memento Tuxedo Black marker pen, but I'm jumping ahead. I coloured the mermaids with some Copic Ciao pens, I started collecting them back in February and have 36 so far and the colourless blender, I tried to get some basic shades that are close together but I still have much more to learn about using them and there are another 143 pens to get, although I don't have to get them all, but I most probably will lol!

I've tried using Nuvo Alcohol markers which depending in the cardstock used with them work really well and blend well to, but there are not so many colours in the Nuvo markers I think I have about 60 and they recently released 2 x 3 colour blend sets that I haven't got yet. I've also used Promarkers, again I don't have many about 45 and not a good mix for all round, as I did with my wax based pencils recently, I'm going to stamp several of the same images on a variety of card stocks and see which set I like.

I also have about 2-3 sets of Spectrum Noir markers that I got when I first started experimenting with colouring but I didn't get on with them so they sit in a box. I'm wondering now if its the card stock I used at the time and think that when I do the comparison I'll add them to the list. The whole point of my comparison tests and subsequent posts is to help me decide which products to keep and which to say goodbye to. I now have so much stuff and new things keep coming out that I need to thin things out because I just haven't got the space to keep buying new products and keeping the old ones.

I had heard lots of crafters rave about Copic's but they were so very out of my price range initially because the ones I saw came in sets that were rather pricey, but I've found a place online that sells them for less than £2 each, so I can buy a few at a time. I do love the way the Copic Ciao pens blend together, they are so smooth, if you click on the mermaid above you can see that I've smudged my colouring a little and gone in to areas with the darker colours that I'm not supposed to and I haven't got the hang of shading with them yet, but I'm getting there.

It could also be that I haven't got the right shades to blend, that sounds odd but lots of my pens are very close together on the shade chart and I've recently read that there should be about 3 numbers apart to blend well. I'll get the hang of it with time and I'm hoping to take some online colouring classes over the next few months to help me improve with my copic colouring and pencil colouring. I've also just started collecting Polychromos pencils so I want to learn how to use them better.

To create my backgrounds was very simple to do I laid the stencil on to the front of the card blank and used a couple of Creative Expressions Smoothies to add colour through the stencil until I was happy with the colours I used only VersaFine Clair inks on these backgrounds as I mentioned above Warm Breeze, Verdant & Paradise for the green one and Purple Delight, Charming Pink and a little Fantasia for the pink and purple versions.

I cut 3 panels using one of my favourite stitched oval sets from Craft Stash and used black 'Nocturne' VersaFine Clair ink to stamp the sentiments. I added the seaweed with a selection of the same colours mentioned above on each colour card then used some glue to attach a small section of the mermaid to the sentiment panel and then added 3D foam pads to the panel and mermaid to attach to the card. The final touch was to add 3 small clusters of tiny gems to the cards and they were complete. I wound up feeling relaxed and creative when I'd sat down not knowing what to create and feeling a bit daunted, this seems to be happening the more my stash expands, with lots of things you'd think crafting with it all would be easy? Unfortunately I end up feeling overwhelmed and not nothing what to use or try, another reason to start thinning things out a little!

I'm still working on the samples for my oval beauty brush test post, hopefully that will come soon, I have my youngest nephew staying next week, so I won't get as much crafting time, but I don't mind, he likes cooking and growing things and gaming, so I'll be kept busy for sure lol!

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Review: Koh-i-Noor Polycolor, Prismacolor & Spectrum Noir Colour Blend Pencils

When I first got my hands on the Koh-I-Noor Polycolor pencils, it was under the mistaken belief that they were oil based pencils similar to Faber Castell Polychromos pencils (but much cheaper), there are several YouTube videos and tutorials out there that compare polycolor with polychromos which started me off on the wrong path. But as I worked with the pencils and did further research, I discovered that Koh-I-Noor Polycolor pencils are in actual fact wax based, they do have an oily coating to help improve the performance of the pencil though, I put two and two together after reading the product description of the pencils on the Koh-I-Noor website: -

"The key components of POLYCOLOR professional coloured pencils are rich, top quality with perfectly dispersed pigments, carefully selected and purchased from renowned producers around the world. Their light permanency and dosed concentration also influence the final result and durability of the artwork. Therefore, a high concentration of pigment dosing has been prescribed for this product in its entire colour range. The final product is resistant to water thanks to the oily treatment.

This gives our coloured pencils, along with the addition of binders and other additives, an unsurpassable ability to make a unique stroke on paper or another medium. The pencils contain a set of unique components which ensure a convenient, full colour stroke without the necessity of high pressure. This handy feature is enhanced by the preparation of pastels in special oils. Thanks to the diameter of the lead, 3.8 mm, POLYCOLOR coloured pencils provide excellent artistic value to any user. Noble wood, from which the pencils are made, allows easy sharpening." So a better comparison for the Polycolor would be Prismacolor and Spectrum Noir Colour Blend, two wax based pencil brands that are available for sale in the UK, which is good really as I own a set of 24 Prismacolor Pencils, and a set of SN Colour Blend but only about 8 Polychromos, so I can do a few test swatches to share.

Sanford Prismacolor have been around for a while they were first made by Berol back in 1938, then in 1995 the Newell Company joined forces with Berol and merged to become a branch of the Sanford Corporation. Prismacolor are marketed as artist grade premium colour pencils, and have 150 colours in their pencil rainbow. They are sold in sets and come in tins with plastic trays inside the tin that holds the pencils. A set of 72 can be picked up on Amazon for less that £47.00, and you can buy the colours individually for around £1.50 - £1.90 each. The leads in the Prismacolor pencils are 3.8mm and the barrel has a diameter of 8mm, as of today I haven't been able to discover which wood the barrels of Prismacolor pencils are made from, if I do I'll add the info to this post. I do know that there has been a lot of problems with the Prismacolor since the company moved the manufacturing of them to Mexico several years ago and they have fallen from arty favour a little over the past few years.

Spectrum Noir Colour Blend pencils are part of the Crafters Companion family of crafting products and have 144 colours in their rainbow. They only come is sets of 12 and 24 ranging in price from £15 to £25 a set, you can pick up sale and bundle bargains, but if a particular colour runs out, you have to buy another set because they don't currently sell the pencils individually. The lead in the ColourBlend pencils is 4mm and the barrel has a diameter of 8mm, the barrels are made from Californian Cedarwood.

Koh-I-Noor Polycolor Pencils have 92 colours in their rainbow (as of May 2019) 72 of which are available in the coloured sets, plus Koh-I-Noor do a couple of sets of greys and brown tones and some of the colours in those sets (but not all) aren't in the coloured bundles, because of this unless you don't already have the duplicate colours already it may be better to buy the additional ones open stock rather than in the 12 sets.

I picked up the 36 set for just over £18 off Amazon when they were on special offer, a 72 set on Amazon is currently £39.96 marked down from £90. The lead in the Polycolor pencils is 3.8mm the same as Prismacolor and the barrel has a diameter of 7mm and is made from Noble Fir.

A lot of reviews for Koh-I-Noor Polycolor pencils say that they are not available open stock, meaning you can buy a single pencil colour instead of a whole set. However, I have found them available for 83p each from Cult Pens, and there are a few other places in the UK that you can find them open stock, that said I like Cult Pens, they are one of the cheapest places online in the UK for brands like Copic Ciao and Polychromos and they have the cheapest prices and a fast and reliable service. The Cult Pens page linked to above has a drop down that lists all 92 Polycolor colours by number and colour name. The sets that come in boxes only have the numbers on, but open stock pencils have the number and colour on them apparently, although I've seen some examples that don't so until I order some more I won't know for certain.

Speaking of colours, for some reason known only to the manufacturers, the colours on Koh-I-Noor's Polycolor Colour Chart run 0 - 72 (0 being the blender pencil), but on the open stock pencils we can buy in the UK the numbers aren't linear, instead they have numbers that leap around. To keep track of my Polycolor pencils I've created a printable document with the 72 main pencil numbers and colours on with a space for adding a small example swatch of the pencil colour. If you'd like a copy you can download it here Koh-I-Noor Polycolor Pencil Colour Swatch Chart.

Again there is a discrepancy in that some English speaking art supply websites list different colour names and numbers for the pencils. I've tried doing some translations of the colours listed in Czechoslovakian on the Koh-I-Noor website to no avail, I need to see if some kind soul can give me some literal translations. If in the future I discover that the colour name I've listed is incorrect then I'll update my chart.

All three brands are blend-able with products like Gamsol, Sansador and baby oil, Crafters Companion do their own blending solution that costs around £6 for 75ml. All three brands are light fast. Koh-I-Noor Polycolor pencils are supposed to provide excellent light fastness and water resistance (although YouTube and various internet sources have people saying that they aren't light fast) however the manufacturers website states that the Polycolor Pencils do have "light permanency").

Furthermore on the colour chart on the Koh-I-Noor website each colour has a series of stars, the stars relate to the light permanency of the colour with 1 star having the least amount and 4 stars the most, you can see which pencil is more light fast by clicking on the link.

Another difference between the three brands is that Prismacolor and Colour Blend pencils have round barrels, whilst the barrels of the Polycolor pencils are hexagonal as per my photo above. Which means, for me anyway, the Polycolor are far better because they don't roll away from me when I put them down on the desk, Prismacolor and ColourBlend have a tendency to roll off the desk, hit the floor and break if I'm not  careful 😢

Additionally, both the Prismacolor and Polycolor pencils have a barrel that shows the colour of the lead as true to the colour as the coating can get, but the ColourBlend pencils don't, the white ColourBlend pencil has a tip where the white looks almost pale grey as can be seen in the above photo and isn't an accurate representation of the colour that the pencil lays down.

It was a little difficult to do a proper hue for hue colour test as the sets all contain different colours, so in the end I went for the lightest and darkest pink and green shades from each set to colour the stamped images.

For my test I used 3 different card stocks: -

White = Crafters Companion Neenah Classic Crest Solar White, 216gsm.

Kraft = Tonic Studios Craft Perfect Brown Kraft Card, 280gsm.

Black = Limetree Crafts 'True Black' black card stock which is 300gsm and my go to black card stock for doing almost everything where I want a black base.

For the image I used a clear stamp that came free with issue 191 of Simply Cards & Papercraft, and for each test strip I stamped the images using a Tonic Studios Nuvo Clear Mark Embossing Pad and added some WOW! Super Fine Clear Gloss Embossing Powder, I wanted to focus just on the colour pencils and not highlight the stamp with gold, silver of black edges. Pencil colours/shades used I'm listing here and I'm listing the lightest first, the colours used were as follows: -

Koh-I-Noor Polycolor - Leaves (22 & 25), Flowers (131 & 177).
Prismacolor - Leaves (True Green & Grass Green), Flowers (Pink & Mulberry).
ColourBlend - Leaves (Jade & Pistachio), Flowers (Vivid Pink & Pink Violet).

I also added some squares of the white pencil for each brand to show the opacity. The top white square was blended with gamsol on all three swatches, the 2nd white is just as it comes out of the pencil, and I added a small swatch of the lightest pink of each brand. In Prismacolor's favour, I think the white pencil in their set is a more brilliant white than the others and I think I'd still use that along side my white Polychromos pencil to add highlights to images.

All 3 brands were blended using Gamblin Gamsol and Spectrum Noir Paper Stumps. I laid down a single layer of each colour starting with the darkest first then shading the lighter colour around it before using the paper stump and gamsol to blend the pencil colour smooth.

You can see the results of each colour pencil on the 3 different card stocks above, I want to focus on the results obtained on the black cardstock and specifically the opacity of the pencils. Once the applied gamsol had dried out the pencil with the most vibrant colour was the Polycolor, something I did notice was when I blended the Prismacolor and the ColourBlend with the Gamsol, the colour lifted off and resembled small flakes, the kind you get when you've used a rubber on pencil. There was no flaking with the Polycolor, the colours blended smoothly in to each other.

The Prismacolor did keep more of the light to dark gradation, but they were not as opaque as the Polycolor. The ColourBlend pencils are a lot more translucent than the other two brands, they work better on the lighter coloured cardstock, and personally I don't think that they are a good choice for using on darker cardstock, not unless you are going to add a layer of white first and build up a couple of layers of colour, which is fine if you want to take the time, but not if you want to do some quick colouring.

Polycolor pencils on Kraft cardstock
I've been using the ColourBlend and the Prismacolor for a while off and on, and until now Prismacolor were my go to wax pencils over the ColourBlend due to the opacity of the colour that Prismacolor has. But I'm afraid the Prisma's are going to get a lot less use in the future now that I've discovered Polycolor pencils!

Polycolor's lay down a nice amount of colour without the need for applying heavy pressure and the pencils can be sharpened to a fine point, without crumbling, I found the Polycolor a lot easier to sharpen than the Prismacolor and I think some of that is down to the lead being not as soft as Prismacolor and the wood being better quality, the fact you can get a nice point to the pencil when sharpened makes them really useful for adding details and working on small intricate images.

They also don't leave a wax bloom, at least not that I've seen so far, although the Prismacolor and ColourBlend do if you add a lot of colour. The rose example above was worked on Papermania Kraft cardstock using Gamsol and paper stumps to blend the colours.

The colours blend in to each other really easily and I found them very easy to use, they do leave a little dust (bits of pencil lead) if you apply the colour too heavily, but if you use a light touch they go on like a dream. I found its better to lay down colour, blend it out then add more colour on top if you want more saturation of colour.

They have a nice creamy feel and go on really smooth, the fact that there are less colours to chose from than the two other brands isn't really an issue because the Polycolor pencils blend together so well to help you achieve other shades and hues having less colours isn't really a problem. You can also use a standard eraser (the kind you would use to erase graphite pencil) to remove the colour! The colour doesn't go totally, there is a slight waxy residue left, but you can see the results of 3 shades being laid down a pale grey, dark green and a pink and one pass of a cheap eraser.

Two of the colours listed in the open stock Polycolor colours are Silver and Gold, I don't know if they are metallic or not, when I buy them I will update this post, I've now purchased them, and Polycolor #40 Gold and #39 Silver are indeed metallic pencils and work beautifully. I now intend to add all the Polycolor pencil colours to my stash, for the money they are fabulous quality and I can see me getting a lot of use out of them. Prismacolor definitely have metallic colours but only a silver and gold, and ColourBlend don't currently have any metallic colours, although Crafters Companion do do a set of 12 metallic pencils that can be blended with Gamsol, but they aren't part of the Colour Blend family and they are not as vibrant as Prismacolor or Polycolor.

So in summation and sorry for this mammoth post but I wanted to do a proper comparison, if you want a good quality blendable wax pencil with a good range of colours that give brilliant results then look in to acquiring a set of Polycolor pencils, maybe buy a few open stock colours before you plump for a full set, I think they are excellent value for money and they are now my new go to pencil colouring best friend! And before I go, nobody has paid me to review these pencils, nor have a I received any freebies or incentives to review, the review is based on my personal opinion of products I have bought myself to use in my projects.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Bears, Bears and More Bears!

How are you today? Its been an interesting few months here at "All That I Am" towers and life is certainly being a lot more upbeat, I've dropped a jean size, discovered I like prawns, started making the back garden granddaughter friendly, spent more quality time with said 22 month old granddaughter and acquired 10 of the 12 new alcohol pearl inks by Tim Holtz and I'm smitten, more on them soon I promise! I've been spending lots of time getting healthier lately, more on that later, but the extra time spent walking and doing workouts has given me less time to craft, and crafting helps relax me and keep me sane, so I've been trying to balance things to make more time to craft and unwind and as a result I'm trying to set some time aside to craft at weekend.

My craft desk currently has some yupo rainbows on it and an assortment of bear themed projects and a few dinosaur affairs, I seem to be yo-yoing between dinosaur themed projects and bear themed projects this past few weeks and I'm loving it, although I do need to change my themes up a bit because I have a few female friends with upcoming birthdays that I have to make cards for, one is a crazy cat lady like me, so guess what her theme will be?
This weekend along side finishing the Easter wreath cards I posted recently, I also managed to finish 4 new baby cards for my box. I'm trying to get more use out of my stash and think of other ways to use dies, stamps and embossing folders and these baby cards are classic examples.

The 'cable' embossing folder came with some freebie Xmas stamps at the end of 2018 and the cute little bear is from a Christmas themed Stampin Up set called 'Cookie Cutter Christmas' that I acquired recently. I have the matching punch as well which makes making these little cuties a doddle! The set also makes gingerbread men, Rudolph, an eskimo and a Santa as well as the bear, the punch can also be used with another set of cute little halloween characters but I haven't been able to find them yet as they've been discontinued by Stampin Up sadly. The bears and the gingerbread men can be used for a few different themes and I've seen the Santa worked as a soldier and also a little leprechaun 😁

I have a few Stampin Up stamps and a couple of punches, I went to a class run by a lady who lives not far from me in June 2018, I resisted buying SU stuff at first, and I've been to a few classes since and have become a regular, its been a great way of meeting people who live local to me that love to craft and I've bought some SU inks and some of the stamp sets, I do find SU stuff a little expensive, but the quality is good and as long as I buy sets that I know I'll get a lot of use from its fine.

I admit most of the sets I've bought so far are cat themed or floral, big surprise there lol! In fact my next purchase will be the cat punch that goes with the 'Spooky Cat' set I got last year and the 'Nine Lives' set I got recently and hopefully they will release other cat sets to go with the punch in the future.

I joined the monthly Stamperette's club that Tracey runs, I spend around £15 a month and as well as my goodies, I get some little freebies, last month it was some butterfly papers that I turned in to this project, the colours in the papers are so vibrant.

I'm rather chuffed with my fussy cutting on the butterfly. I do like these floating pop cards, I first made some of them them in November last year and I've made them a few times using different themes, I think a birthday bear version is on the horizon, I sure have enough bears to make it happen 😁

Another bear card completed recently was for a challenge in a group I take part in on Facebook and is now in my box ready to send to a male recipient, I used a stamp and die set that I got free with a magazine last year and had never used, something else I'm endeavouring to do this year, play with things that I've got as free gifts but never created anything with! It's silly the number of things I liked and had to have but have never used!

This colouring on this card is the first time I've used my Copics to colour, I tried to create a fur like texture, not sure if I succeeded or not, but I'm really pleased with how this furry little chap turned out. I have 36 Copic Ciao's at the moment, they are very expensive but I've been buying a couple each month and Si has agreed to buy me 6 pens for every stone I lose as an incentive, gets my vote and I got my first lot of 6 last month. They do colour very evenly and blend like a dream, but I do need more practice, so I'm going to stamp some images and take my copic's when I go on holiday and do a little colouring in the evenings.

One of the other projects on my desk that need completing are these cute little bookmark bears, which are part of a bookmark project I'm making using Mama Elephant dies and stamps. So quick and easy to put together and I have the dog, bunny and cat dies to play with yet. The plan is to make some bookmark gifts for friends and family and to make some cats sets to give to the Cat's Protection to sell.

Finally before I go, I thought I'd share a quick health update... I have now lost 8.5kg since starting the Livewell programme on 4th Feb 2019, and this week my blood pressure is down to an average of 123/87 which the Doctor said was good, and I'm pretty damn pleased with the reduction I've achieved in just 2 months, a big difference from those earlier readings on the 4th and 5th of Feb!

My cholesterol levels were good, a reduction to 5 from 5.5 last year, all the other levels were fine save the triglyceride's which are just over the acceptable range at 2.1 but the doctor is happy that the level will come down by next year as I lose more weight. She was so happy with what I've achieved so far that she said I didn't need to go back for a follow up appointment, she has asked me to keep checking my blood pressure once a month and report back if it starts to increase, but for now I can proceed as before and continue to get thinner and healthier.

My positive progress is down to being active at least 30 minutes a day, eating healthier, I have 1,850 cals a day and I make sure that I burn that amount plus another 500 cals worth of calorie burn through exercise every day and its working. I have a lot more energy, I'm walking a lot faster without feeling like I can't breathe and I am a lot happier in myself, and because my blood pressure has come down so much, I'm now allowed to take part in the Livewell exercise sessions, its taken a few months to get there but I am and can't wait to get started 😁

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Happy Easter Wreath Template Cards

These 6" x 6" cards are not traditional 'Easter' colours I know, but I started playing with some Altenew ink cubes and random Altenew stamps just making wreath's late on Friday night when I couldn't sleep not really intending to make any particular kind of card and these cards kind of evolved from that play.

When I began I was going to make some simple one layer cards, but when I finished stamping the green wreath I managed somehow to get a paper cut and got blood on the edge of the card. I used my sand eraser and managed to sand so much I ripped the card, swear words drifted in to the late night air and I drummed the table wondering how to fix the problem. Cutting the offending mess off seemed like a plan, so I reached for a circle die that would go over the wreath.

Once I'd done that, I spotted a pile of bunny die cuts on my other desk and a stamp set recently bought but not yet used which had a Happy Easter sentiment and my sleep deprived brain decided that I could make some Easter cards.

The gingham backing papers were printed off and I used the edge of the square that I die cut the scalloped circle from as a mat, waste not want not huh? The leaves are from an Altenew set called "Happy Dream" and the small star like flowers from another Altenew Set called "Crafty Friends". The large flower is from a DoCrafts Creativity A6 stamps set called "Trad Floral".

I've started taking a look at stamp sets in my stash and finding the small stamps that don't get much use and using them to create wreaths. On their own small and tiny stamps can leave you with a "how do I use these little monkeys?" kind of feeling, but take them and combine them with other small stamps to make a wreath and they come in to their own and you can create any kind of wreath for any kind of occasion.

Something I discovered whilst stamping these backgrounds, it should have been a no brainer and is certainly something I will do moving forward when making wreath backgrounds. It's something very simple really and I don't know why I didn't twig to it before now, but to get a better result, start your design using your lightest colour ink first, add the mid tones, then stamp the darkest colours on top, and the wreath builds up with more perspective.

I stamped the sentiment using Versafine Clair ink in "Nocturne" and once I'd layered the 4 cards up, all that was left to do was add some 'Dandelion Yellow' Nuvo Crystal Drops to the centres of all the flowers, save for those that are directly under the Happy Easter sentiment, and add the little bunny die cuts and I had 4 cards ready to send. 😀

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Updated Cable Ring Wreath Template Set

It's been a little while since I posted about the Wreath Maker Templates on my blog, the sets have been evolving since Si made me the very first set last year, and I'm thrilled to be rolling out the new style template set today. As you can see from the photo above, we’ve updated the original version of the wreath template to allow for the templates to be stored together. The new design templates have holes in each template that allow you to thread the templates on to a Cable Ring to keep them together, we've sourced the perfect Cable Ring and one is included with each template set purchased. Going forward we won't be producing any more sets without holes because we think that the 'holey' ones are better, and with the holes you have the option to store the templates on the ring or off it.

The Cable Ring supplied is 50mm in diameter when both ends are connected together, the rings are made from stainless steel cable and they have a screw head lock fastener to close them. It’s the perfect way to keep your wreath templates together when not in use, so that you don’t wind up losing one of them to the Crafters Bermuda Triangle! I have lost 2 sets already, don't ask lol! Not any more though because my templates now hang together just next to my desk.

As a bonus, you can also use the cable rings to keep Tim Holtz Layering Stencils together and organised, or they can be used with tags to create colour swatches for inks, if anyone is interested in purchasing extras for these purposes we can make it happen, just ask.

The cable ring development isn't the only improvement to the template design we've made, each template now has a recess to enable you to place a magnet (not supplied) on to your template to hold it firmly in place.

This design change came about when I noticed that occasionally my template would slip in the Tim Holtz Stamping Platform, it didn't happen often but it was annoying when it did. I put my thinking cap on and realised that the slipping occurs because the template has a shiny underside and the stamping platform does as well and sometimes when the two meet it has the skates on ice effect and slipping can occur.

What I decided was needed was a means to keep the template in place, I had tried washi tape but it started to leave a sticky residue on the platform, easy to clean off but it can be a pain when you are working on a project. By placing a magnet in the recess the template is held firmly and more securely.  The slip doesn't happen in MISTI platforms because the black foam in the MISTI grips the template in place and prevents it slipping. I think this tweak will be the last for the circle templates because there isn't anything else that we can add.

Price Increase

It's not all good news though, we have to increase the price from £10.00 to £10.95, we like to be upfront about our costs, many of you have said you can't believe how cheap the sets are and we've pointed out that we are not out to make a massive profit or take advantage of our customers, but we can't be out of pocket either.

When we first began selling the template sets we posted them out second class post, that meant it took longer for the package to get to customers. I knew if customers were anything like me, once they placed their order they would want it as quickly as possible, so I started posting them out 1st class so they get to you the customer faster.

However we’ve only been including the cost of 2nd class postage in the original price, and now there is also the additional cost of the cable ring and we'd forgotten about the PayPal fee! So we are hoping that customers will appreciate our reasons for the small rise and not mind that the cost of the set has increased, if it ensures an improved product and faster posting? If you take a look at the video below, you can see a little demo of how the templates are made, the video also has a few facts that you may find interesting.

On the 3D printing front, we've now got a 2nd printer up and running and Simon has begun constructing a 3rd, recently I was trained in the art of starting prints to keep production going, allowing us to send out orders faster. We've also been contemplating colours, the new style templates are now a golden colour, we hope to keep to that colour but we hope that customers won't mind what colour they receive because that means we can alternate between several colours at times when the main colour goes out of stock at the manufacturers end.

Getting hold of the purple PLA that we originally started printing in is getting harder, so we've this week started printing in a golden hued PLA. We did dabble with a fuchsia colour but that's run out now and the supplier says its currently out of stock pffft. The gold is nice and bright making it easier to find on your desk, that part has been inadvertently tested on numerous occasions, I lost the purple ones frequently lol!

Finally a little inside gossip, the Man that Can and I put our thinking caps on and we've been experimenting with templates to create different shapes, a new set of templates to make a new shape that aren't circles will be available in the not too distant future, there's some more testing and some sizing to sort out. I've been playing with the new shape today and its gone back to the 'Man that Can' for tweaks and changes, its fun to be developing these templates together. I don't want to reveal the shape yet, all I'm saying is nobody is currently selling this shape and you're going to love it! 😁

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Dinosaur Wreath Template Cards

It feels like a long time since I did any crafting and in fact it has been, I've been focusing on health and well-being and working on some other projects and crafting hasn't factored in to life very much since early February and I have to say I've missed it! Suffice to say that once I'd dusted the cobwebs out of the craft room I started work and finished several projects including several wreath template cards and a few birthday and Mother's Day cards for my stash.

Going through my stash I uncovered a selection of dinosaur stamps and dies, and got together ones I'd bought recently and I was amazed at just how many dinosaur stamps I have, so expect to see a lot of dinosaur cards from me in the not too distant future. The small set I used to create the wreath template was a bit of a buying disaster, I'd been looking for the Stampin Up set "No Bones About It", I found what I thought was a set, it showed photos of the Stampin Up samples, and packaging but when it arrived the stamps were tiny compared to what they were supposed to be and they weren't pukka Stampin Up stamps 😔 I complained and was given my money back and told to keep the stamps, so I decided to use them for smaller cards whilst I try again to obtain the pukka set!

I used the 5" template and a 5" x 5" card blank and stamped the wreath directly on to the card blank using a selection of Versafine Clair Inks and Memento inks. The dinosaur die used for the topper is by Luxe Craft and is exclusively available at Hobbycraft, it was one of the things I got for my birthday back in January.

The Luxe Craft sets have a selection of stamps and dies in each pack, I picked up a set called Purrfect Day which has a couple of cute cat stamps for me to play with. The dinosaur set cuts several pieces including a balloon and party hat but I didn't use them on my design.

The cards themselves were pretty quick to put together once the stamping was all done, I decided to layer the little dinosaurs on to scalloped stitched circle dies from CraftStash and to stamp the sentiments on to the circles and place the dinosaurs to the left of the sentiment.

I love the fact that I can create such colourful backgrounds for my cards using the stamp templates to suit any occasion, and I have to say I'm loving experimenting :) I wanted to keep these fairly simple as the stamping is rather colourful.

The only things I added were some black detail pen to the centre of the Triceratops eye space and I gave the die cut dinosaurs chest and spines a coating of sparkle pen and I finished them off with a little wobbly eye for a touch of added cuteness. These little cute monsters now go in my box ready to send to people. Now to get on with more cards, on my desk currently are some bear and dog bookmarks and some non-wreath template projects for cards for teenagers. It's nice to be crafting again :)